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Saving Redbeard

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Spoilers for HIS LAST VOW.


Written for a prompt on sherlockbbc. Prompt by velja: Can someone please write me an emotional angsty scene with John and Sherlock after Sherlock was shot? Like, when he first wakes up in hospital, John at his side... something nice?



When Sherlock finally stirred, John only noticed because he was looking for it. He'd been watching the anaesthesia wear off ever so slowly, allowing Sherlock to fight his way back to consciousness. And it was a fight, there was no doubt in John's mind about that. Sherlock wasn't wired for inactivity of any kind. Even if his body was completely still, his mind still ran a mile a minute. John was pretty sure that Sherlock didn't even rest when he slept. He probably wandered around his mind palace, reviewing its contents and maybe clearing out the attic …

The first thing John noticed were Sherlock's fingers curling, then his brows pulled together and his head turned slightly. There was the barest twitch of his eyelids, but he didn't quite manage to open them. The anaesthesia’s hold was still too strong. John thought he would fall asleep again and kept quiet, knowing from personal experience that sleeping it off really was the best remedy in this case.

Instead, Sherlock stirred slightly and gave a soft moan of pain and confusion. He shifted again, his breathing becoming a bit too laboured for John's liking, and uttered another distressed moan that could have been a word too slurred for John to understand.

In any case, it was clear that Sherlock was fighting the anaesthesia a bit too valiantly and John decided to intervene. "Sherlock," he said firmly, taking his forearm gently. "It's okay, Sherlock."

Even though nothing was okay. Sherlock had been shot. He'd almost died. His heart actually even had stopped beating, John had been told, and for a minute, the doctors had thought that Sherlock was beyond saving. The weak heartbeat picking up again unexpectedly had surprised everyone in the operating theatre, but they hadn't hesitated and restarted tending to Sherlock immediately. Stabilising him. Removing the bullet. Saving the life he clung to.

Sherlock sighed weakly and turned his head a bit more towards John, muttering something very surprising, "Mary."

John raised his eyebrows. "Alright,” he answered. “I didn't expect that."

"Mary," Sherlock repeated and took a breath so deep that it had to hurt with his wounds ... then he opened his eyes as if waking from a bad dream and stared up at John.

John gifted him with a reassuring smile. ”Alright, mate?" he asked. "Back with me, yet?"

Sherlock closed his eyes again and gave a low hum, the corners of his mouth moving down into a sorrowful expression. "They're going to put me down," he whispered. "Just like him."

"Obviously not back with me, yet," John muttered and sat on the edge of the bed. It would be best to let Sherlock talk, he knew. His fingers tightened around Sherlock's forearm for just a second, reassuring him that he was still there … and real.

"I'm going to put him down first," Sherlock mumbled, his speech still slightly slurred, but all in all, he seemed to recover rather quickly.

'High tolerance,' a mean little voice in John's head supplied, 'he was a drug addict.'

Sherlock opened his eyes a bit, the lids heavy enough to keep drooping, but he held John's gaze with quiet determination. "I'll do it for Mary."

"Right," John said, giving Sherlock a nod while wondering what his obsession with Mary could be about all of a sudden.

"Couldn't help it …,” Sherlock said, his voice softening, the slur thickening, “... can't believe I ... believed …" He drifted off for a moment, then he startled awake again. "No time, no sleeping, ran so fast ... up the stairs …"

John interrupted him calmly before he could become any more distressed, "I think sleeping would do you some good."

Sherlock's pale eyes focussed on him again … or at least they tried to. "I know what's going on."

"Don't you always?" John asked with a smile.

Sherlock nodded gravely … and lost the battle, drifting off into sleep.

John sighed deeply and rubbed his face, making a conscious effort to relax. Maybe he shouldn't have wished for his life to become a bit more exciting again if this was what he got out of it, but suburban life had seemed a bit too peaceful and oppressing lately and Sherlock, somehow ... so far away. After the wedding, there had been distance. John felt a bit guilty about it now, but he hadn't really noticed for a while. There had been Mary and nursery furniture and work, and before John knew it, a month had gone by and he'd let the one thing happen Sherlock had apparently been concerned about the most: They had drifted apart.

Perched on the edge of Sherlock's hospital bed, watching him breathe, John resolved to change that. It was obvious that Sherlock needed somebody to keep an eye on him. And John needed Sherlock.

"Mary," Sherlock said suddenly and opened his eyes hazily, looking around as if he was expecting to find her hiding in one of the corners.

John put his hand on Sherlock's arm again, catching his attention. "This is starting to worry me a bit," he said teasingly.

Sherlock squinted at him, blinked, and some of the fog in his eyes lifted. "John?"


"Pain …"

"Yeah, sorry about that," John said gently and fiddled with the morphine dosage. "That happens when you get yourself shot." He looked back at Sherlock earnestly. "Do you remember who did this to you?"

"Is Magnussen dead?" Sherlock asked instead of giving an answer.

"No. Looks like he escaped."

Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut and then shook his head. "Of course. Stupid. He was lucky …" His gaze was on John suddenly, grave and almost a bit sad. "You were there."

"You're not making a lot of sense," John replied.

"I was shot." The answer was simplistic, sarcastic … Sherlock.

John smiled. "There is that." He quickly checked the watch on his mobile. "Okay, listen, Mary should be here by now. I'll go find her. You just stay here and ... sleep it off. I won't be gone long."

Sherlock frowned, but he gave a nod. John touched his shoulder and got up, heading for the door.

"Just ... John?"

The slightly panicked tone in Sherlock's voice – so unlike him – made John stop and turn back around. "Yes, mate?"

Sherlock looked incredibly frail from over here … and, strangely enough, more than a bit scared. "We're going to have a client soon."

John nodded slowly. "As soon as you feel better."

"You're not Redbeard."

John bit his lip to keep from laughing. "Whatever that means."

Sherlock remained earnest. "I couldn't do anything back then. I can do everything now." His gaze was fevered and John stepped closer to the bed again, worried. He knew the signs preceding actions like pointing a gun at a bomb or walking through Dartmoor in the middle of the night to look for dangerous beasts … that expression in Sherlock's eyes was one of those signs and the most dangerous one.

John cleared his throat. "Sherlock, did Magnussen shoot you?”


”Leave it, then. Leave him alone. At least for now."

"How do you stop something from breaking under the pressure, John?" Sherlock asked, still with that wild look in his eyes, even though his voice was calm.

John swallowed. "Remove the pressure."

"Remove the pressure," Sherlock confirmed with a nod. ”If it gets too much ... if it breaks …" He closed his eyes. "… I'll remove the pressure." He said it with such conviction that John didn't quite know how to react. Was this still the remains of the sedative talking? He wasn't quite sure anymore.

"Alright," he finally answered, reaching out to squeeze Sherlock's fingers briefly. "You do that."

His answer seemed to be the one Sherlock had wanted to hear because he relaxed and closed his eyes. "I can save Redbeard," he whispered and drifted off to sleep again.

John swallowed. "Yes," he replied. "I guess if anyone can, it's you."