Just another day racing around London, chasing the suspected murderers, and having someone point a gun at his head. John Watson wondered when it had all become routine.
"Come now, Mr. Holmes!" shouted the cornered suspect, brandishing his revolver like it was a water pistol. "Wouldn't do to have his death on your conscience, would it?"
"Hardly on mine," said Sherlock smoothly, and John wished that for once, Sherlock would take a threat to his life seriously. Well, a threat to John's life, anyway. It wasn't that he didn't believe that Sherlock had a plan, it was only that John was getting tired of being the bait.
"Count of three!" sang the suspect. "One - two –"
There was a movement out of the corner of John's eye, but by the time he turned his head, the movement had stopped.
Then again, so had everything else, except for Sherlock's voice shouting in a far-away whisper, "John! John! John...."
Well. Life had been fun, anyway. Right up to the last five minutes.
"ETA five minutes, heart weakening, blood loss—"
"I need to go with him—"
"Sir, you can't—"
Oh, there it was. The bright light John had always heard about. Was he supposed to go toward it or not? He couldn't remember.
"Responds to stimuli."
"You don't understand, I need to go—"
"Sir, you'll have to find your own transport!"
Was breathing supposed to hurt when you were dying?
"Here's the morphine."
Oooooo. That was nice. Sleepy now.
"Listen to me, I'm his—"
John's arm itched. It took a few minutes to realize that his arm itched because there was a needle in it. The needle was attached to an IV. The IV was set next to a hospital bed. The hospital bed was in the most sterile, boring hospital room in the country.
John was about to ask Sherlock what he'd done to himself this time, when he realized that he was the one in the hospital bed with the IV in his arm, and not Sherlock, who was sitting in a chair next to the bed, staring at him with wide grey eyes.
"You're awake," said Sherlock.
"Not really," said John, and went back to sleep.
The second time - or maybe it was the third time, John couldn't keep count - he woke up, Sherlock was still there, and still in the chair next to the bed, and now John was able to tell that he was even still in the same clothes that he'd worn when they were facing down Suspect What's-His-Face. John couldn't quite remember, and that might have had something to do with the continued itch on his arm, or maybe the way his head crinkled when he moved to look at Sherlock.
"My arm itches."
Sherlock sat up in the chair. "He shot you," said Sherlock.
"In my arm?"
"At your head," said Sherlock. "He missed."
"Oh," said John. "That was lucky. Why am I in a hospital bed if he missed?"
"He didn't miss entirely."
That explained the bandage on his head, anyway. John was about to ask for clarification of "entirely" when the door opened and a nurse came in.
"Good morning, Dr. Watson," she said, incredibly pleased. "Let me just check your vitals."
The nurse gave Sherlock a comforting squeeze on the shoulder as she passed him. "Didn't I tell you he'd wake up after a good sleep," she scolded Sherlock gently. "Silly dear."
"Did you get any sleep at all?"
John was about to answer, and then realized that the nurse wasn't talking to him.
"These chairs aren't the least bit comfortable."
"You didn't have to stay in the chair," said the nurse in a stage whisper, and she glanced significantly to John.
John blinked, and wondered exactly what part of his brain had been damaged.
"Can I see my chart?" he asked.
"In a little bit," said the nurse, in a tone that was much more brisk than the one she’d used for Sherlock. "We don't want you to strain your vision just yet; sleep a little longer and maybe tomorrow morning you can sift through everything. Are you hungry?"
"No," said John, while at the same time, Sherlock said, "Yes, actually."
"I'll bring you a little snack from the family room," said the nurse to Sherlock kindly. "Won't want to leave him while he's awake, I know." She gave Sherlock another pat on the shoulder. "I'll just leave you two alone for a bit, shall I? And I'll let the doctor know he's awake."
"He can hear you just fine," grumbled John as she left, and he tried to sit up, except his head started to swim. "How much of my head did he hit? Because I think she was flirting with you."
"There's a rather sizable gash," said Sherlock grimly. "But no real damage."
"So can we go home?"
"You have to stay for observation."
"They're hardly going to let you stay the night," said John. "I'm surprised they haven't kicked you out already. I’m surprised they haven’t kicked me out; I can’t afford a private room."
"I feel fine. Can't we sneak out?"
John frowned. "You want to spend the night in a hospital?"
"Not particularly, but yes," said Sherlock firmly.
The nurse returned with an entire tray of food, with an unidentified doctor on her heels. "Here you are, Mr. Holmes," she said cheerfully as she set it down next to Sherlock. "And there's an extra pillow and blankets in the cupboard that you can use tonight."
"Hello, Dr. Watson," said the doctor, coming over to John. "I'm Doctor Reynolds, the neurologist on duty. Pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise," said John, trying to look over the doctor's shoulder to see the nurse still talking to Sherlock.
"I'm happy to tell you that the bullet only grazed you, so we don't think there will be any lasting neurological damage—"
That was all John really cared to know. Far more interesting was Sherlock, who seemed to be listening to the doctor with more intensity than John had seen him give most medical professionals.
Then again, it had been Sherlock’s fault that he’d been shot in the first place. Perhaps Sherlock was taking responsibility for once…
"I've already spoken with your husband, and he's agreed—"
"I'm sorry, who?" said John.
"Your husband, there will be some care of the wound over the next week or so, and we'll need to see you again to make sure infection hasn't set in. The stitches will likely be ready to come out in a few weeks. Mr. Holmes has said he can handle any of the day-to-day care, since it's in a rather cumbersome spot for you to maintain."
The only noise in the room was the soft beeping from the monitors; John could feel the doctor's eyes on him, clearly expecting some kind of acknowledgement. But the only person John could actually see was Sherlock, still sitting in the same bloody chair, wearing the same bloody clothes, looking back at him. John tried to see any guilt in his eyes, but didn't.
"Right," said John finally. "Thank you."
There were some visual and cognitive tests - mostly John had to follow the doctor's watch with his eyes, and remember some words for a few minutes - and then the nurse straightened his blankets and took his temperature and explained how to work the bed. Finally they both left the room, closing the door softly behind them.
John looked at Sherlock, who looked solidly back at him.
"Apparently I have amnesia now," said John dryly.
"Mycroft wasn't answering his texts," said Sherlock, sulking. “And they weren’t going to let me ride in the ambulance or stay in Casualty with you.”
“So instead of sitting in the waiting room like a good boy, you told them we were—“ John tried not to choke on the word. “Married?”
“I might have implied that, yes.”
“How on earth do you imply that we’re married? And they believed you? We don’t even wear rings.” John paled. “Oh, Christ. They think I’m on your supplemental insurance, don’t they? Is that why I’m in a private room? Sherlock, that’s fraud.”
The door opened again, and the nurse came in with a tray of scones, tea, jam, a bowl of fruit salad, and a little plate of chocolate biscuits. “Here you are, Mr. Holmes. I wasn’t sure if you took milk and sugar.”
“Both,” grumbled John, and then slid down on the bed when the nurse beamed at him.
“Aren’t you both too dear,” she cooed. “I’ve an uncle Tom; he was so pleased when he could marry his Bobby. They lived together more than thirty years, you know, and it used to drive Tom a bit mad when he couldn’t go with Bobby to Casualty. Bobby had heart problems,” the nurse said confidentially to John. “And Tom would drive himself mad with worry out in the waiting room. Proudest day of his life when he could stay with Bobby in hospital.”
John looked over at Sherlock, who amazingly was not rolling his eyes as the nurse went on. Instead, he seemed to concentrate on the fruit salad.
“Look at me going on,” laughed the nurse, and she went to fiddle with John’s monitors.
“It’s fine,” said John. “Thirty years?”
“Would have been thirty-three this June,” said the nurse. “Bobby died a few months ago. Tom was sitting right next to him, holding his hand. How long have you been together, then?”
John looked over at Sherlock, who did not look back.
“Not quite that long.”
“I thought not,” said the nurse with a smile. “I can always spot the newlyweds.”
“Yes, well,” said John, disgruntled.
“Don’t disturb his sleep, now,” the nurse scolded Sherlock gently. “Leave you two alone for a bit. At least half an hour. And there’s a lock on your side of the door, just here.”
She shut the door behind her. The room fell silent, except for Sherlock’s spoon scraping the inside of the fruit salad.
“Don’t even,” said John warningly. “I don’t want to hear it.”
Sherlock managed to remain quiet for 47 seconds. John counted them.
“Thank you. For not correcting them.”
John slid down in the bed, and tried to ignore his flatmate/best friend/theoretical husband. Which was when the obvious implications of a theoretical marriage occurred to him.
“There’s something married couples do that I’ve always wanted to try.”
Sherlock paled, and John grinned at him.
“This is not what I thought you were referring to,” said Sherlock grimly.
“Sharing household chores is a time-honored tradition,” said John. “Particularly in this more enlightened age.”
“Cleaning out the fridge was not part of the deal.”
“No,” said John, sipping his tea from the excellent vantage point of the kitchen table. “But it’s a very nice bonus.”