John sat in the waiting room, doubled over in silent prayer to a deity he was no longer sure existed, begging and pleading with every fiber of his being for the man in the operating to just please make it through. "Jesus Christ, live damn it. I lost you once; I can't handle a second time. For the love of God, Sherlock, pull through this." His voice was barely above a whisper, choked with tears that refused to fall. Just as well. He refused to let them. Rubbing his face, he sighed, weary and anxious and scared absolutely shitless and ohGodhewasgoingtoloseSherlock and he couldn't handle this. Not again.
It was making out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill case. (John nearly chuckled at the thought. Chasing serial killers through London had, in fact, become standard.) They had chased a suspect – really seedy-looking bloke, but what else was new? – up three flights of stairs and into a hallway of an abandoned building. There was only one exit, and they were currently blocking it. John had two seconds to realize that one: cornering a suspect was something that fell under the category of a Bit Not Good, and two: the man had a gun, and was very, very desperate to escape. The instant the shot went off, he dropped to the floor. No. That wasn't quite right. He was shoved down? High on adrenalin, he grabbed at the suspect who, at this point, made a mad dash for the door. Grabbing the man by the ankle, John knocked the attacker to the floor, disarmed him, and rendered him unconscious with a few fluid motions.
He looked back at Sherlock, who was lying in a crumpled heap on the floor, and that a familiar feeling of dread shot ice through his veins. Fighting down the panic – and the bile – he turned Sherlock onto his back to check for the gunshot wound. "Sherlock, stay with me." He snapped into medic mode instantly after sending Lestrade a message to bring the paramedics. Tearing a strip of fabric off his shirt, he began to apply pressure to the tear in the detective's side, where the bullet had lodged itself.
"John," Sherlock's voice sounded strained, yet eerily level, his eyelids fluttered almost shut. John's heart clenched painfully.
"Just stay with me, alright? Focus on me if you need to, but for God's sake keep your eyes open." He kept his voice even, or he tried to, but he was shaken up and frantically scrambling to stop the bleeding and ?
"I – oh – it burns." Blood was seeping from the wound, staining the cloth a dark red – almost black. Jesus fucking Christ. The things he'd do for his kit right now. Or the bloody paramedics. Sherlock's breathing was ragged, uneven. John's heart was racing at near inhuman speeds as Sherlock screwed his eyes shut, clearly in immense pain.
"Eyes open, Sherlock. Come on. You can keep awake for bloody days. Don't. Shut. Your. Eyes." Sherlock's sea green eyes met Johns, and the doctor's stomach lurched at how hazy and unfocused they seemed. Jesus, fuck, no. This was not going to happen. Not on his watch.
"Hurts. Tired. I –" Sherlock's eyelids drooped dangerously, and he struggled to get the words out. John clenched his fists.
"No. Sherlock." He gritted his teeth, jaw set firm as his tone. He was desperate. God, they needed that ambulance now. "Stay with me. You have to stay awake." One cold hand gripped at his sleeve while he attempted to staunch the blood flow from the other man's torso. "You have to stay with me." The stinging behind his eyes threatened tears. He heard stomping, but if it was the paramedics or his own thundering heartbeat, he couldn't be sure.
"OK, John." Eyelids shut over grey-green eyes, and John panicked.
"No, no. Sherlock." John tried to wake him, but got nothing. Not a single response. "No, fuck. Sherlock." He felt for a pulse, and was almost relieved when he felt one. It was sluggish and weak, but there.
Everything from the paramedics arriving to getting into the hospital was a blur, a shock-induced haze. At some point, he'd been cleaned off, and someone came with clothes, because when everything wore off, he realized that he wasn't in the clothes he showed up in, and that the blood had been washed off his hands.
Sherlock was in surgery, and after being treated for shock, John was stuck in the waiting room, a torturous purgatory in which he was submerged in total silence with only his thoughts for company, waiting to hear whether the man who meant more than life itself was going to make it out alive. The loud, lonely ticking of the clock provided echoed deafeningly, each second going by painfully slowly. He begged to every deity he knew of, recited every prayer he'd ever been taught, prayed with every last fiber of his being. Finally, one of the surgeons stepped out into the hallway. John looked to her with pleading eyes, not trusting himself to speak.
"You here for Sherlock Holmes?" She inquired tiredly, softly. Anticipation bubbled up inside, making him sick. He swallowed, then nodded, terribly scared, yet hopeful. "He'll be fine. Surgery was successful and he's been transferred to the ICU for recovery." He felt incredibly relieved. Half the battle was over. She might have said more, but he honestly wasn't paying attention. His thoughts were racing a thousand miles a minute. Sherlock was alive. He'd make it out of this.
When he entered the room, he didn't expect to see something as soul-shattering as the sight before him. The man who could fill a room with his presence, who had an aura of invulnerability, looked so small in the hospital bed, tubes for catheters and IV drips and pulse monitors and oxygen levels and making him appear broken, helpless. As if the wind had been knocked out of him the third time that day, John slumped back in the chair next to the bed, examining the man in front of him for any sign of regaining consciousness. Taking hold of Sherlock's free hand, he prepared for more agonizing hours of waiting. Sherlock would fight this. He had to. It wasn't in his nature to give up. John wouldn't be able to handle it if he had.
Time ticked by agonizingly slowly, seconds trickling away like frozen molasses creeping toward the lip of a jar. Still, John sat silently by the detective's bedside, clutching at one of Sherlock's hands with his own, the contrast between their skin tones and temperatures startling. He had been lost in thought, absent-mindedly running his thumb over the back of his flatmate's hand when he heard the faint sound of curls rubbing against the stiff, sterile hospital pillow. He released the hand from between his own, and looked toward Sherlock's face just as the man's eyes opened.
Sherlock frowned in confusion. "John?" He croaked, throat dry from hours of disuse and dehydration. John felt an immense sense of relief wash over him. Sherlock was alive, breathing, conscious. Touching his pale flatmate's cool hand, his stomach jumped as long, slender fingers squeezed back. Gingerly pulling Sherlock into a desperate hug, John felt himself break.
"You great git. Don't ever do that again." He chided, muffled as he spoke into the crook of Sherlock's neck. "I've almost lost you twice now." Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes, catching in his throat. He fought against them. Sherlock let go of John's hand and raised his now free one apprehensively, unsure of what to do. He resorted to awkwardly patting the smaller man on the back.
"I'm here John. I'm alright." He sounded so worn, so unsure of himself. John could feel himself slipping, his delicate resolve shattering into a thousand pieces as a tear traced its way down his cheek. "I won't leave."
John sniffed, then looked Sherlock straight in the eye, pitiful and exhausted as he was, and pulled a rather wry smile. "Good, because I love you too much for you to go without me again."
Sherlock was awestruck by what John was saying. He pulled the blond into another hug, Sherlock clutching to John as tightly as he possibly could, and John returning it carefully. "Me too, John." Sherlock whispered tiredly. "Me too."