It’s less than a week after Sherlock comes back when it happens. John is just getting back from Tesco’s. The stairs are up to 221B are difficult, the way they have been for several years now, but John’s limp is already getting better. Sherlock hasn’t made any active plans to dispel it, at least as far as John knows.
He nudges the door open and slides in the door, both hands full of groceries.
He hears a squeak behind him and then there’s an intense pain at the back of his head.
Everything feels .... fuzzy. John can’t move his head, even though it’s awfully uncomfortable to have it hanging at the angle it is.
He had a dream ....
It was about Sherlock. There was blood.
There was a lot of blood.
Suddenly his heart rate picks up. Is Sherlock dead? Is he okay? What if it hadn’t been a dream, what if it had been real?
John blinks, lifting his head up slightly.
No, Sherlock is okay, he is alive at least, because otherwise John would not be tied up in his living room staring at a man who has a gun pointed at him.
That is right isn’t it? His deductive skills are not at their best right now, his head hurts.
The man is saying something.
The words just make his head hurt more.
They had been investigating a case. A serial killer. Oh, the realization comes to him softly, and he smiles a little bit.
Well, at least Sherlock will catch him now. The man is standing in their flat for Heaven’s sake. No way Sherlock won’t catch him.
John is grinning like an idiot, staring up at the serial killer with half closed eyes.
He admits to himself that he’s probably concussed.
“We’ll see what Holmes has to say when his Boswell is found dead in his own living room,” the man says with a half smile and obvious pleasure in his eyes.
He cocks the gun.
John feels remarkably calm.
Yes, definitely concussed.
“That would be a tremendously stupid thing to do,” Sherlock’s voice comes from the doorway, his voice is calm, unruffled as always. But he holds himself tight, the muscles in his neck are taut and he keeps looking away from the serial killer to steal glances at John. Reassuring himself that John is unharmed.
“Sherlock,” John breathes his name like a sigh, and the ridiculous grin is back on his face.
John is intensely annoyed at himself, his brain is working just fine, why can’t he get his body to cooperate? He decides that he does not want to repeat the experience that is called concussion.
The criminal squeezes the trigger as soon as Sherlock lunges at him.
John gasps, his vision going black for a second.
He can smell the heat that is rising off of the sand. He can feel the sunburn that is forming on his face, he can see the blood pool from his shoulder, the red a nice complement to dirty yellow. All he can smell is sweat and dirt and metal and he’s thinking I’m going to die. I’m going to die. Please, God, just let me die now.
And then it stops and suddenly he is back in 221B Baker Street, and he does not smell dirt and sweat and metal.
He smells tea and the strange after-smell of a lighted bunsen burner that is almost a mixture of salt and smoke. He can smell the strange scent of Sherlock.
John pulls in a ragged breath. His blood is pooling over the carpet, and he’s thinking about how Mrs. Hudson is going to clean that up. His leg is hurting. It hurts so bad that there are no words to even describe this pain.
Sherlock hits the shooter on the head with his own gun. He is angry, John can tell from the way his lips are pressed together hard, and the way he hits the man with so much force that he is surely concussed as well.
“John,” Sherlock says, and flies over to him, his coat streaming out behind him. He puts a hand on John’s shoulder, the contact sending a jolt of surprise through him. “John!” Sherlock says more urgently. “Are you okay?” The words are pleading.
He is concerned, John’s brain notes bemusedly.
It might have been worth it to get shot earlier to see the way Sherlock’s eyes are searching for all the injuries that John has sustained, and to hear the muttered oaths about how he will kill that man that is passed out on their living room floor. And would Lestrade just GET AN AMBULANCE OVER HERE NOW?!
Sherlock is fumbling with the knots that are over John’s wrists while he yells into the phone, and then John is free, and he is sagging to the floor, his hands clamping down on his wound. In the thigh, he is thinking to himself, didn’t hit the bone. Went straight through. I’ll be okay, I should be okay.
It will be fine, and then Sherlock is hovering over him.
“What do I do John?” He is asking him, and he seems to be calm but all his movements are jerky and he can’t make his eyes look anywhere but at the blood that is seeping through John’s fingers.
“Oh my God,” John whispers.
And then he’s screaming. At first there are no words, it’s just screaming, and then it’s just Sherlock’s name over and over.
“SHERLOCK!” John bellows, and Sherlock is looking bewildered, why is John screaming, why is he so upset?
Suddenly the screaming stops, and John is winding his fingers into Sherlock’s shirt, dragging him closer.
“Don’t you dare,” he hisses. “DON’T YOU DARE DIE ON ME, YOU BASTARD. NOT AGAIN.”
“I’m not going to die John, I’m here, I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere,” Sherlock is talking desperately, because John looks so upset.
And Sherlock has taken over applying pressure to the wound because John is too busy gripping Sherlock’s shirt to be bothered with keeping his blood in his body.
“Then why are you bleeding?” John whimpers.
Sherlock raises his hand and brushes against his forehead to find his own blood there.
Realization comes to him immediately. “Oh, OH. Trauma. You’ve just remembered being shot in Afghanistan, which was not a pleasant experience for you, and now you’re in tremendous pain and I’m bleeding from the forehead which caused you to remember my fake suicide, and you are overreacting because of the stress of the situation that you are currently in.” Sherlock is looking at him with his head tilted and his eyes squinting, the way he always looks when he’s trying to figure John out.
“Promise me you aren’t going to die,” John is growling at him.
Sherlock just manages not to roll his eyes, but it’s a close thing. He controls the expression on his face, and recognizes that this is important to John.
Given that John was shot a couple of minutes before, Sherlock has new insights to the situation at hand.
“I promise,” he says gravely to John.
He takes John’s hand and places it at his neck. The Doctor’s fingers find the pulse automatically.
“There,” Sherlock says, “proof that I’m alive.”
John seems to realize that he was being ridiculous a moment earlier, because a light comes into his eyes, and he starts to take his hand away.
“No,” Sherlock shakes his head. “Count my pulse until the ambulance arrives, it will calm you down.”
So John does.
And so on. John can hear the sirens of the ambulance and he’s up to sixty five.
Then there are people in the flat, and they’re taking John away, and they’re placing bandages on his thigh, trying to hold the blood into his body until they can get to the hospital.
John’s heart is pumping hard, not out of adrenaline for his own situation, but because he had to relive the scene outside of Bart’s hospital again.
Sherlock is standing in the middle of the room when Lestrade comes in.
“That is your serial killer,” Sherlock says, nodding to the man the medics were just now beginning to turn over. “You might want to remove him more quickly,” he tells the medics, “or I might just strangle him here and be done with it.”
“Sherlock,” Lestrade admonishes, but stops when he sees the look on the consulting detective’s face.
Lestrade tries to ignore the fact that Sherlock’s hands are dripping with his partner’s blood, but there’s only so much a man can do.
“John looked okay,” he tries.
Sherlock sends him such a withering look that all the rest of his words die in his throat.
“He was crying,” Sherlock says softly.
Lestrade frowns. “Well, he’d just been shot, perfectly normal to have a bit of a cry after an incident like that.”
“That’s not why he was crying.,” Sherlock snaps. “He was crying because there was blood on my face. And he thought I was dying.”
It takes a moment for comprehension to dawn on Lestrade’s face. “He was remembering...”
“Yes,” Sherlock says crisply, coming back to himself. “Well, I’ll leave you to clean up him.” He flaps one blood covered hand at the criminal and then goes into the bathroom, where he scrubs his hands clean and then wipes at the bloody handprint left on his neck.
They do not let him play his violin in the hospital. It’s particularly vexing because Sherlock needs something to do with his hands, and if John ever needed Bach played, now would be the time.
Or maybe Sherlock would play something that he had written himself, this did, after all, seem like a special occasion.
But no, he cannot bring his violin into the hospital room where John is.
This is why he looks irritated when he walks into the room. John is asleep, but he’s twitching, which normally means he’s having a nightmare.
See? Sherlock wants to shout at the nurse, This is why I need my violin!
Instead he simply says, “John,” loud enough to wake him.
John opens his eyes almost immediately, he’s a light sleeper, probably more so after being shot.
Sherlock walks over to stand at the window.
It’s not a good position, snipers can take him out easily, and it makes it easier for people to trail him, but he always seeks out windows. They allow him to look out over London, over his domain.
“Sorry,” John says abruptly. “For freaking out on you. I had a concussion, and, ah, well, that never works out too well.” Then he smiles. It makes his eyes crinkle up and it provokes a little bit of a smile for Sherlock as well.
“I’m sorry too, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have been shot.” Sherlock turns back to the window.
John laughs. “Well, that seems to be the whole point doesn’t it?”
“I’m sorry?” Sherlock asks, his words a little stilted. He hates having to ask for clarification.
“Well, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have been shot. But if it weren’t for me, you would have been dead years ago.” John laughs. “So it seems we’re even.”
“That doesn’t make things even, John.” Sherlock snaps. He is gripping the window sill tight so that his knuckles are whiter than usual. “It just means that I owe you more and more as time goes on.”
“No you don’t,” John answers automatically.
“You save my life, you almost die for me, you protect my back, I commit a fake suicide-” John flinches. “Thereby tearing your life apart for three years, and then I come back and you get shot!”
“You’ve saved my life too,” John says.
“I only have that opportunity because I put it in danger.”
“All right,” John says, pulling his blankets up. “You’re being an idiot, come back when you’re ready to acknowledge the facts.”
Sherlock’s face twists in confusion. “Those were the facts John, you are only in danger because I put you there.”
“You do not put me in danger, I put myself in danger by following you. I make my own choices.”
“I’m trying to protect you!” Sherlock half shouts at him.
“And I’m saying no!” John shouts back.
“Am I interrupting?”
Sherlock and John turn to the doorway to see Sally Donovan there. Sherlock sighs in frustration, and John puts on a pleasant smile.
“No, it’s fine,” John says.
“It’s clearly not fine,” Sherlock snaps back.
“I just need to take your statements,” Sally says, stepping into the room. “It’ll only take a minute.”
Sherlock sighs loudly.
Sally gives him a strange look. “I still can’t get used to it, you being back. John was like a grieving widow when you were gone.”
John’s hands clench into fists, and Sherlock hisses through his teeth.
“Don’t you have any tact?” Sherlock hisses at her, taking her arm and escorting her out of the room.
“That’s rich, coming from you,” Sally says back.
Sherlock shuts the door in her face.
He turns back to John, sincerely hoping that he isn’t in need of comfort, because he would have no idea how to handle that.
“I miss her,” John says suddenly. “I wish you two could have met.”
“What?” John asks, his eyes widening and his mouth hanging open.
“Well, she didn’t have any idea who I was, but I was hardly going to let you get married without meeting the woman. Even if I was dead.” Sherlock smiles at him, the one he uses to get people to do what he wants.
John frowns at him, clearly recognizing the smile.
He’s irritated that Sherlock would try to act to him, Sherlock realizes. but he’s spent three years acting to everyone, and he has forgotten how he can be himself with John.
“And did you approve?” John’s words are stiff.
“Yes, she was dull of course, but less dull than most people. I would have thought that you would have picked someone more exciting, but I suppose there are limited options....” Sherlock trails off at the look on John’s face. “Not good?”
“Bit not good.”
Sherlock sighs dramatically and flops into a chair next to the bed. “People are not my area,” he mutters.
They sit in silence after that, John silent and frowning, and Sherlock staring at the wall, his brain a creating a din of information that he can’t even sort through well.
A nurse comes in, “Visiting hours are over,” she says.
Sherlock sighs again. Back to 221B Baker street without John. It means no sleep, because his brain will undoubtably not slow down without someone to talk to.
Sherlock stands up automatically, and wraps his scarf around his neck.
“Sherlock,” John says, and the other man pauses in his actions. “I’m going to keep following you into danger, because I lost you, and I lost Mary. I can’t go through that kind of pain again. So I’m going to protect you.” John stops talking, and looks up at Sherlock almost hopefully.
Sherlock presses his lips together. “Fine,” he says curtly.
John pulls back, folding his arms and letting a mask of indifference come over his face. “Good,” he says, and nods once.
Sherlock sweeps out of the room.
This one's short, I know.
John wakes up to Sherlock’s face looming in front of his own. “John!” he is whispering. It’s the middle of the night, the darkness complete, but what little light there is reflects off of Sherlock’s abnormally pale face.
John examines his head. No wounds. It was just a dream.
Sherlock launches into a rant about decomposing bodies. Apparently he was in the morgue just before coming up here.
John frowns. But that can’t be right, Molly kicks him out after ten.
John has a sudden image of Sherlock sneaking past the nurses and sitting in Johns room with his feet tucked under him and his coat around him, only waking him up when he could tell John was having a nightmare.
“Why are you laughing? Normally you tell me my enthusiasm is indecent.”
“What? I’m not laughing, I’m smiling.”
Sherlock huffs, “Same thing. Why are you smiling?”
“Molly kicks you out at ten,” John says, smiling still.
Sherlock frowns at that. Maybe he was hoping that John would forget.
“You told that nurse that your wife had just died,” Sherlock remarks as he sits at his microscope.
John looks up from where he’s placing tea bags into the cups and says, “Yeah, I did.” He walks over and places a cup next to Sherlock’s hand. He ignores it.
“Mary died almost a year ago,” it is said in a voice that is as caring as Sherlock can make it, which means that it sounds robotic.
“I can’t, Sherlock.”
Sherlock looks uncertain. It’s such a rare occasion, but John can’t appreciate it like he usually does.
“Is this some psychological drivel about people you care for leaving?” Sherlock asks curiously.
“Can we not do this?” John asks, putting his cup down.
“Talk about our feelings. I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to have this discussion with you.”
“Why not?” Sherlock tips his head to the side.
“Because you don’t have feelings.” John says it half jokingly, but the other part really does mean it.
“Oh, God. I didn’t mean-”
“No, it’s fine,” Sherlock says crisply, turning back to his microscope.
“No, it’s not fine, I . . .” But then John finds that words died in his throat, and he has no idea what to say.
“I’m not going to jump off of a building John,” Sherlock says in his clear accent, as he adjusts the knobs on the microscope just slightly.
John frowns into his tea cup.
“I’m going to bed.”
Sherlock’s eyes follow him out of the room.
Trigger warning: mention of attempted suicide.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
More difficult than he had imagined. John is clearly traumatized, there will be no easy solution like the limp. (The psychosomatic portion is already gone, it seems that just Sherlock’s presence has a beneficent effect. However, the gunshot wound definitely does not help things.)
Sherlock is laying on the couch, in his pajamas, and blue dressing gown. His fingers are steepled under his chin and his eyes are closed. Evidence of his eyes moving restlessly underneath his eyelids is apparent.
What John doesn’t know is that he has his own room in Sherlock’s mind palace. (Strange that one person could command a whole room. John never fails to surprise him.)
Sherlock picks up the gun, basic facts about John Afghanistan career. He turns to his uniform which is hanging in the closet. Medals, information about his mates, nothing useful. He examines the fabric. Information about his wound, superior officers and ambushes. Nothing useful.
Sherlock backs away from uniform and places the gun back on the table.
Perhaps something from his childhood? Sherlock moves over to the bookcase.
A shout comes from upstairs, and Sherlock is off the couch and leaping four stairs at a time before his brain can even exit his mind palace. (He didn’t respond like this before he left. What is it about now that makes Sherlock run to John’s shouts before his brain even knows what he’s doing?)
He throws the door open to John’s room without a knock, presuming that the yell had been invitation enough.
John is writhing in the bed. Sherlock hurries toward him, his brain automatically cataloguing everything in sight.
Picture by the nightstand. Missing Mary. Ah, of course, stupid stupid.
One year since her death.
Mud on John’s shoes in the corner, he visited her grave today, after getting out of the hospital.
That explained the refusal of discussion on the topic of dating.
All of that processed in a fraction of a second.
Sherlock grabs John’s shoulders. “John!” he says, shaking him a little bit. “John!”
John wakes up with a gasp and says, “Mary!” He automatically reaches out to the other side of the bed, but his fingers only meet tangled sheets and discarded pillows.
John grabs onto Sherlock’s wrist and doesn’t let go. He’s hanging on so tightly that Sherlock’s bones are grinding together. (Doesn’t matter. The pain feels good, clears his head.)
Sherlock stares down at his army doctor. Three years ago he was happy. It was hard to remember the easy smile and the affectionate exasperation that John graced Sherlock with. (It is even harder to remember the last time Sherlock genuinely smiled for John, the way he did when no one else was around.)
The nightmares weren’t nearly as bad three years ago.
John lets go of his wrist.
“Okay?” Sherlock asks.
“Okay,” John says.
And Sherlock stands up, retreating from the room as John watches him go. He can’t stay much longer than that, to sit and see the pain of three years abandonment passively. Sherlock pads down the stairs slowly, and moves to his violin. He picks it up and stands at the window.
He places his fingers on the strings and holds the bow in his right hand. He should start playing, but it seems so bloody hard to move the bow up to the strings right now.
It feels so hard, lifting his hand and playing the instrument, he does it for John more than anything else. Because he knows that John will be comforted by this tradition.
Sherlock hears footsteps on the stairs just as he starts to warm to his performance.
John puts the kettle on and Sherlock stands at the window, looking out at London.
He started playing at the age of six, because it calmed his brain. (Also, Mycroft had hated it.)
For some reason the notes pick his thoughts apart and place them far away from each other so that Sherlock can focus.
John is pouring the water into cups now.
Sherlock reaches the ending, and the note fades into the air, somehow leaving a ringing echo in his ears.
He is unsatisfied. He puts the bow back to the strings and starts playing again. His own composition. He wrote it while he was away, when he sat in his dreary flat that did not resemble Baker Street in anyway. (On a night that was dark dark dark dark dark when his brain was exploding and he couldn’t think. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t think.)
(It was so dark dark dark dark.)
That was the night John had been in the hospital, recovering from an accidental overdose. (Was it accidental? Was it? Was it? Was it?)
John had placed morphine in his veins. The thought of John using, of becoming like him made Sherlock angry. It was repulsive.
Sherlock finishes the piece and leans against the window, letting the cold glass press against his forehead.
It feels good, clears his head.
(How to get rid of the nightmares? How to make John smile?)
Sherlock turns around, placing his violin on the coffee table and collapsing in a heap of long limbs into his chair.
He picks up the cup of tea John made him. His flatmate is sitting opposite of him with his head ducked down and he’s staring at his cup.
Sherlock desperately wants him to smile, to be John Watson again. (Sentiment? Caring is not an advantage.)
John does not smile, Sherlock doesn’t ask any of the questions that are burning in his throat. (Begging to be released, ask ask ask.)
They don’t speak, they don’t smile. They just sit in the darkness of the flat.
I ship Sherlock's point of view with parentheses.
The case is hard, it’s a three patch problem, and verging on four. It just doesn’t make sense! His brain is being flooded with irrelevant details constantly, and he hasn’t slept in three days, and he thinks going so long without eating might actually be detrimental. (Not that he would ever tell John that.)
Sherlock is pounding down an alleyway, his eyes taking in extraneous details and churning out everything that has happened in this spot for the last three weeks. (Drug exchange, inebriated induced puking, etc.)
Irrelevant, he thinks. But he cannot stop noticing.
John is running behind him, he can hear his breathing, and he knows that his bullet wound is irritating him- the one in his leg not the shoulder. (A flash of some emotion goes through him. Guilt?)
Two dark shapes appear at the end of the alleyway, and satisfaction blooms in him immediately.
They start to come towards them, and Sherlock realizes immediately that he has made a grievous error. He has been assuming that the murderer is as intelligent as he is, which is obviously not the case. (Idiot.)
He whirls on John, who slows and looks up at him in surprise. “Do you have your gun?” Sherlock snaps.
John’s hand goes back as if to grasp the handle, (unintentional, habit,) but he shakes his head as his hand emerges empty. “I left it at the flat, I didn’t think we needed it.”
Sherlock growls in wordless frustration and then quickly relaxes his face into a pleasant expression.
“Hello, gentleman,” but he is cut off rather abruptly because the larger of the two has clamped his hand around his neck and pressed him against the wall.
John’s wordless shout assaults Sherlock’s ears, but he ignores it. He is busy cataloguing all the weaknesses of his opponent, and his feet may be hanging in mid air, but his legs are long.
He kicks out hard against the man’s hipbone and it’s just at the right angle that he stumbles and lets go of Sherlock’s neck which really was his fatal mistake.
Sherlock is keenly aware of the fight which John is involved in, and currently winning. He has never been more grateful for John’s soldier instincts.
Sherlock gives his opponents several sharp jabs and blows to the neck and head. He takes punches in his ribs, one of which is surely cracked, and may be broken, but all of that is unimportant right now. (John can tend to him later.)
John is beginning to lag, his leg is close to giving out, and Sherlock sees a flash of metal in the moonlight. A knife.
His blows suddenly become much harder, and his opponent goes down within a minute.
But apparently a minute is too long, apparently a minute is just long enough for his entire world to come crumbling down around him. Because a minute is long enough for John Watson, ex-army doctor, grieving widow, blogger, only assistant to the only consulting detective in the world, Sherlock Holmes’s best and only friend to receive a knife wound in the abdomen.
The man is already down the alleyway with his bloody knife in his hand, and John is sliding down the wall.
“John, John!” Sherlock’s frantic voice doesn’t even seem to reach his ears. This is the way he felt when he was high, as if everything was untouchable, as if every sound came through water. He used to revel in the distance of it all, but right now he hates it all. He needs to be present for John; he needs to save John.
(Because without John there is nothing, there will be nothing. There will not even be cases. Everything will be boring and everything will be unintelligent because John is what brings colour and laughter and compliments.)
Sherlock has dialed 999 without even noticing that he did so, “And for God’s sake, be quick about it!” He is snapping at the other person.
John frowns at him when he hangs up and lets the phone clatter to the ground.
“That was rude,” John gasps out.
“Don’t care,” Sherlock says, but his hands are shaking, and his voice sounds normal, but everything else seems like it is falling apart, everything should be falling apart because John is bleeding out here where someone shot up with heroine just two hours before, and they were an addict, and they left footprints and traces of the drug.
“Are you okay?” John asks, and Sherlock can’t help but laugh.
“I’m fine,” he says, and his voice seems higher than usual.
“Sherlock, it’s okay,” John is gripping his wrist clumsily, his fingers sliding around because they are coated in blood. “I’m going to be fine.”
“Of course you are,” Sherlock says with a scoff. “You’re always fine.”
“Right,” John says weakly, and puts his hand back over his wound. (It’s is bleeding less than Sherlock thought it would.)
John tilts his head back and closes his eyes. Sherlock puts his hands on John’s shoulders, “John! Wake up! Stay with me.”
John stirs a little bit, “Sherlock?” he mumbles.
“That’s right, John. Don't you dare go to sleep on me now, don’t you dare.”
“I’m not going to sleep,” John mutters.
But his eyes are closing. (He hasn’t slept in two days, trying to keep up with Sherlock.)
The lights from the ambulance are flashing in the alleyway and Sherlock is frantically waving them over.
(One of the medics has a six month year old baby, his wife isn’t sure if it’s his. The other medic is just entering into a serious university and only works nights now. Her long term boyfriend just split with her, but she doesn’t mind terribly.)
Sherlock stays with John in the ambulance. He’s crying and these aren’t tears for a show, these aren’t tears to convince a witness to tell them something. Sherlock is crying, and it’s quiet and understated, and these medics don’t know how much it means for tears to be sliding from his eyes because of emotion, but John does.
John is staring at Sherlock like he’s anchoring him to the world. “Stop crying, I’m fine.” John says, almost impatiently.
“Of course you’re fine,” Sherlock snaps, bored with the repetitious conversation.
Then they are at the hospital, and they’re wheeling John into surgery, and they make Sherlock let go of his wrist, and he lets them.
Sherlock slams against the wall as his adrenaline rush leaves him and he slides to the floor. (God, these emotions are exhausting. How do people deal with them all the time?)
A nurse comes to see if he wants to move to the lobby, and Sherlock is so upset that he lashes out and tells the man that he can see he’s having an affair, and that he’s in finical trouble and in the process of looking for a cheaper flat. (He can hear John’s voice in his ear, ‘Bit not good.’) The nurse runs away, and no one bothers him after that.
When John wakes up Sherlock is curled in a chair next to him, staring at nothing. The moonlight reflects against his pupils.
John shifts slightly, and Sherlock’s eyes flick towards him before returning to staring at the wall.
“This is becoming a habit,” Sherlock says.
John shifts uncomfortably. “Have you already solved the case then?” he asks. Because there is no way that Sherlock would have abandoned it to sit next to him in the hospital.
“The Yard can handle it,” Sherlock says quietly and smoothly.
A nurse walks in and sees Sherlock. “Visiting hours are over, sir,” she says. “It’s supposed to be family only.”
“I’m his husband,” Sherlock says crisply.
John stays silent, allowing Sherlock to lie for them. As if to prove it, Sherlock reaches out to brush his fingers along the back of John’s hand. He grabs Sherlock’s wrist, his fingers finding the pulse and counting it.
John isn’t sure why he feels the need to do that, but he feels disoriented, and he needs to know that Sherlock is there and is alive.
Sherlock stares at him while he counts, and then reverts to his earlier position when he’s done.
“Do you need something for the pain?” the nurse asks.
“No,” John says firmly, and continues to refuse medication until she leaves. He doesn’t want to be on drugs again. It brings back bad memories of nights when Mary was dead and Sherlock was gone and he was alone in the world.
When she’s gone John turns back to Sherlock.
“I’m sorry,” Sherlock finally says to break the silence. The words are not stilted like the usually are when he apologizes from something. He says them smoothly and confidently.
“For what?” John folds his hands on top of his blankets.
“For making you believe that I was dead.”
John opens his mouth to say something, but realizes that he doesn’t actually have anything to say to that.
Sherlock stand abruptly and goes over to the window to peer out at the street. The light ghosts over his face, making his skin look like marble and accentuating the hollows of his cheeks and at the base of his throat.
“You gave up.”
“Sorry?” John asks politely. He does not want to have this conversation. Not now, not ever.
“I saw you, you gave up, you could have easily deflected that blow and you didn’t.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Sherlock.” John folds his arms across his chest and wiggles down deeper into the blankets.
Sherlock whirls on him, prepared to shout at him, but he hisses instead, his hand cupping his ribs on the right side.
“Are you injured?” John asks, switching into his doctor mode immediately.
“Sherlock,” he says it in his warning tone and then scoots over to the side and pats the edge of the bed.
His partner comes and sits on the edge of the bed gingerly, as if it might bite him.
“Let me see it,” John said quietly.
Sherlock sighed, and started to unbutton his suit jacket and then his shirt. He pushed it aside to reveal a black bruise that spread across his entire right side.
John clenched his teeth. “Did you get it X-rayed?”
“No, it’s fine, only cracked, I’ve dealt with those before without hospitals.”
“Sherlock,” John groaned, running his hand over his face.
“My injuries are not the point,” he buttoned his shirt up again swiftly. “The point is that you seem to reappearing in hospital beds much more often than you should.”
Sherlock gives him a hard look.
John sighs, “I’m not doing it on purpose.”
“You let yourself get stabbed,” Sherlock insists. “I saw it.”
“I am not suicidal.”
Sherlock turns to look at him, and John stares back defiantly. “Fine, then why do you keep ending up in this infernal hellhole?”
“I keep getting injured because people keep trying to kill me.”
Sherlock lets out a sharp breath through his nose. “How am I supposed to think when you’re bleeding out in a room somewhere with incompetent surgeons who could just as easily kill you as save you? I can’t concentrate when your injured John, so stop getting hurt.”
John closes his eyes, counting to five slowly. He takes the backhanded compliment more gracefully than he normally does.
“It’s perfectly normal to feel helpless when someone you care about is in danger.”
“I was not helpless,” Sherlock snaps.
His eyes are a little wild, making him look a bit mad, something that his curly hair does not help with.
John is suddenly remembering when Sherlock came back, and how he looked so grey. It was like all the colour had been wrung out from him in the three years he was gone.
He is full of colour now. He’s full of indignation and hurt and anger. He’s also emanating love, Christ, for Sherlock this is like a love letter.
“I will burn the heart out of you,” that’s what Moriarty had said at the pool.
“I have been reliably informed that I don’t have one.”
“We both know that’s not quite true,” and everyone knew that he was referring to John. Because while they do not have a romantic relationship the fact remains that John is the only person that Sherlock has ever loved. John is the person that Sherlock died for, and while they both did fine on their own it was a bleak existence. It was greys and blacks and whites, and now there is colour.
John feels like he can actually breathe again, he can take a breath without feeling like he is choking, and the feeling of claustrophobia has gone away now. John is not an idiot, he knows exactly why everything has gotten better lately.
“I’ll try not to get injured,” John says to placate his flatmate.
Sherlock shoves his hands into his pockets and nods stiffly. “Good.”