Has telling someone not to panic ever actually worked?
John doesn't think so.
It's certainly not working now. Don't panic, he thinks to himself, as ragged breaths become more uneven. Don't panic. His heart doesn't feel as if it's actually ever beat a steady rhythm. Don't panic. His shoulder has been aching for days. But now? It's on fire. Pulsing. Near agony. Don't panic. He could be having a heart attack, he thinks. Don't panic. His head, oh god his head. Don't panic. Maybe a stroke. Don't panic. An aneurysm. Don't panic. Definitely shock. Don't panic. He might pass out. Don't panic.
John Hamish Watson, in his recollection, has never fainted. He's been drugged and knocked out. That time with the bonfire. That was the residual effects of the drugs and smoke inhalation. Even when he was shot. He'd just bled out until his body shut down.
John's never fainted.
His left arm, aching, trembling, does its best to hold tight to sobbing Rosie curled against his chest. Don't panic. His right hand grips his left shoulder. Don't panic. Sherlock is simultaneously staring at him with a level of concern John’s never seen before -- don't panic -- and carrying on arguing (their words seem garbled, like he’s under water) with the strange man in the strange overcoat. Don't panic. The strange man he doesn't know, but who seems familiar. Like an echo from another time. Don't panic. Or a dream. DON’T panic. The girl, a young lady, with his own ears and chin and the wide set of her eyes -- don't panic -- is sitting in his armchair. Staring. At him. At Rosie. Don't panic. Her mouth is moving, but he can't hear her. He registers the word father. DON’T PANIC.
It's possible he's said it out loud. Rosie, snuffles and stares up at him.
Don't panic. Is he breathing? He doesn't think so.
“John?” Sherlock steps directly in front of him, blocking out the rest of the room. “John.”
Don't panic. He's dizzy. Possibly dying.
The girl stands and peers at him from behind Sherlock. She digs through her bag and shouts at the other man who rushes to Sherlock’s side.
“We have to get that thing out of him.” John does hear that. He hears the fear and anger in the strange man’s voice.
“You're not touching him!” Sherlock physically blocks the stranger from taking a step nearer.
John presses his hand against his shoulder. The pain is torture. It's vibrating… Vibrating? Pulsing. And there's heat. Don't panic.
He's only ever felt this pain once.
But is wasn't a bullet.
It was a place. People. Don't panic.
Remember, dammit! Don't panic. Remember.
“Sh’lock…” His vision goes a bit wobbly. “Myc- get yer broth…” His tongue doesn't want to work.
“What? Why?” It's against Sherlock’s very nature, but even as he's complaining he's initiating the call. Sherlock’s worried enough to ask for help.
Don't fucking panic.
Momentarily distracted, Sherlock doesn't see the girl hand something to the strange man. John sees.
He can't not see.
It looks like a gun. But also... a drill. And some sort of Hollywood sci-fi laser blaster.
He looks at John.
“That thing is killing you.” He says apologetically.
John seizes with pain and Rosie nearly tumbles to the floor. The young lady makes a quick move, as if her feet aren't even on the floor. Sherlock stumbles back into John's chair. Rosie is yanked away. The man with the gun dives for him.
“NO!” Sherlock screams as the weapon connects with John's shoulder.
He's being electrocuted. Torn apart from the very fiber of his core.
When he finally opens his eyes, everything is wrong.
But also right.
He knows where he is, but its distorted by some sort of filter. Too much information.
He's flat on his back on the floor of the sitting room of 221b. Rosie is knelt beside him, terrified and cried out, holding is right hand.
His left shoulder aches. His left shoulder feels different. He doesn't know if that's better.
Sherlock and Mycroft are in the kitchen, whispering furiously. Sherlock's hands are moving, gesturing, pointing. Mycroft, poncy git, looks composed as ever.
They haven't noticed he's awake yet.
He sees the two restrained to straight back chairs by the door. Random looks resigned, defeated. Ford’s got a black eye and his lip is split, but he's grinning like a fool. At him.
Fuck. Ford. And Random. He… How did he not see them? Know them before?
How does he now?
Fucking DON’T panic.
John Hamish Watson has no experience fainting.
It's just fortunate Arthur Dent does.
He shows John how it's done.