(See part one for notes, etc)
He lands – no, doesn’t land, sits up. He’s in their flat, on the sofa, clutching John-bear.
“You killed John,” a voice hisses.
Sherlock looks towards it, and sees the skull glaring at him.
“You killed John,” the Union Jack pillow agrees.
There are echoes from all around him, and Sherlock can’t take it anymore. He rampages around the room, destroying anything that dares speak, until there’s nothing left but the heavy sound of his breathing.
“I really am insane,” Sherlock says absently.
He eyes the morphine.
“You don’t want to do that,” John says.
Sherlock turns towards him. “Yes I do,” he says calmly. “I told you it might be kill me, too, didn’t I? I can’t tell what’s real any more, John. Do you know what that’s like for me? All I have is my mind, and it’s stopped working. The only time things make sense is when I’m with you. If I have to sleep forever for that to happen, then I will.”
“You don’t want to spend the rest of your life as a vegetable. Trust me, I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty. You’ll go insane from boredom,” John says.
“I’m already insane!” Sherlock shouts. “Look at me, I’m yelling at the ghost of the man I-”
“You’re Sherlock Holmes,” John tells him. “You’re the best man I know. You can do anything.”
“I couldn’t tell you how much you meant to me, before it was too late,” Sherlock says bitterly. “I couldn’t save you.”
“You have to beat this, Sherlock. Because if you don’t-” John’s voice drops to a murmur, so low that Sherlock shouldn’t be able to hear it from this distance, but he does. “I think I might follow you.”
Terror fills Sherlock. He doesn’t understand why. He’s the one trying to follow John, he shouldn’t be worried about John trying to follow him. But all he knows is that he can’t let that happen.
“But it won’t come to that,” John says confidently. “The Sherlock I know wouldn’t let something like this stop him. You have to fight.”
“How?” Sherlock demands. “I don’t know what you want me to do.”
“Just wake up. Please.” John chokes back a desperate sob. “Just wake up.”
Sherlock’s never heard John make that noise. It takes only a second for him to realize he’ll do almost anything to keep John from ever making it again. “I don’t understand,” he admits finally. “What does that mean?”
“I need you. You know I do. Come back to me, so I can tell you how much,” John tells him. “Please, Sherlock, come back to me.”
That, oh, that, Sherlock can do. He doesn’t know what’s real, but he knows he will always come back to John.
He reaches for John, stumbles, blinks.
And then blinks again, because he’s not in their flat. He’s in a hospital bed, hooked up to far too many machines for his liking. John-bear is tucked under his arm, John’s jumper is around his shoulders, and John – John is sitting beside him.
“John,” he says. It comes out a croak, and his throat feels strange, as though he hasn’t used it in awhile.
John’s head jerks up. “Sherlock! You’re awake!” His voice sounds strange, too, but in the opposite direction – hoarse from using it too much.
Sherlock scowls. “Of course I’m awake. You wouldn’t stop waking me.” He pauses and looks around. “What happened?”
John is smiling at him, beaming, but instead of answering, he asks, “What do you remember?”
Sherlock frowns. “We were chasing Henrickson. He attacked us. You knocked him out, but you were stabbed. He woke up before help came, knocked me out. You fought him again.” He glares at John. “Pulled the knife from your chest to kill him.”
John winces slightly, but looks unapologetic. “That much is true. But how’d you know? You were unconscious for that last bit.”
“Lestrade told me later,” Sherlock says.
John frowns. “Yes, but you were unconscious then, too.”
Sherlock shakes his head. “No, it was after I woke up. In an ambulance, at the crime scene. You didn’t wake up. They’d come too late, you’d lost too much blood. You were gone and I – I kept dreaming of you. You insisted you weren’t dead. Told me about the present you’d gotten me, where I could find it, to be careful of the claws, how you’d gotten it. It was all true. People thought I was crazy, but I knew, I knew you were out there.” He smiles slightly, remembering the last good dream. “We went to the museum, the church, ice skating on the moon. You gave me your jumper.” His smile fades. “Things got strange. I thought – maybe I was insane. But then you showed up, and told me to come back to you. So I did.” His voice turns smug. “I was right. I found you.”
John’s staring at him like he’s in shock. It’s making Sherlock uncomfortable. That’s not a good response, is it, just to stare at someone who’s just told you everything was insane but they still believed in you?
Finally, John says, “I was never dead.”
Sherlock feels a prickle of fear, because that’s just what dream-John had said, but it fades quickly. He can tell that this is real in a way that was absent from the dreams. In a way that was absent in all of what happened since he woke up at the crime scene, actually.
“You were the one who didn’t wake up, Sherlock,” John tells him. “I couldn’t get to him fast enough, to get him off you. He – he did a lot of damage. You’ve been in a coma. I’ve been talking to you. There’s speculation on whether or not that helps, but it doesn’t hurt, and I was desperate.”
Things click into place now. Everything makes sense, the dreams, the strange conversations, the hallucinations. “Fascinating,” Sherlock breathes. “I’ve never been in a coma.”
John laughs, sounding half amused and half exasperated. “No, no you hadn’t. Well done you, another novel experience under your belt.”
“You talked to me,” Sherlock says, slightly amazed. “The dreams, you really told me those things.”
“Yes,” John says. “I gave you the bear, told you about it. So did Pete.” He laughs a little. “Started promising to take you places if you’d just wake up. Gave you the jumper when you kept shivering.”
“We were on the moon,” Sherlock mutters. “It was cold.”
John giggles, just as much in relief as in amusement, and Sherlock giggles helplessly along with him, because he can’t do anything else when John is giggling and looking at him like that. Like there’s nowhere else he’d rather be than right there.
“Other people talked to me, too?” Sherlock asks, even though he thinks he knows the answer.
“Yeah,” John replies. “I made it a rule, anyone who visited either of us had to talk to you. I didn’t know what would help. I was this close to forcing Mycroft to come here for longer than a few minutes at a time and just talk at you, so you’d have to wake up to avoid listening to him.”
Sherlock makes a face. “I wouldn’t have come back for anyone but you,” he says absently. He thinks he can sort it out, now, which parts were complete fiction and which were bits of what people had said to him.
Then he frowns. “There’s something I still don’t understand. You could most likely have incapacitated Henrickson without using the knife. You had before. Why did you risk it?”
John looks at him. “He put you in a coma, Sherlock. I thought he might’ve done worse. I wasn’t thinking about incapacitating him.”
“You killed him for me,” Sherlock says, a bit wonderingly.
“Yes. You needn’t sound so surprised, we both know it’s far from the first time, and it won’t be the last,” John says.
“But I almost got you killed,” Sherlock says.
“You almost got yourself killed, too. Guess which one I’ve been more upset about?” John asks.
Sherlock frowns. He still doesn’t quite understand, but he’s close. “Why?”
“Same reason I put up with people yelling at me for impeding my healing process so I could sit here and talk at you for the past two weeks,” John replies.
Hmm. “After you mentioned ice skating, you said there was something important you needed to tell me, but you couldn’t do it until I woke up,” Sherlock says.
John looks away.
Ah. There it is. Sherlock estimates that he can be 96% sure.
“You still don’t have to tell me. I think I’ve figured it out,” Sherlock tells him.
“Have you then?” John asks, his tone forced casual.
“One question first,” Sherlock says. “You said if I didn’t beat this, you’d follow me. Did you mean that?”
John jerks, then winces. “You weren’t meant to hear that.”
“Did you mean it?” Sherlock asks.
John says, very quietly, “I think so.”
Sherlock smiles and reaches out to twine his fingers with John’s. “I’ll follow you, too,” he says, in the same tone other people say ‘I love you too.’
John stares at their hands. “Sherlock – I don’t understand.”
“The only time anything made sense was with you. So I was going to follow you; sleep forever. I’m glad I didn’t have to, of course, but I would have,” Sherlock tells him.
John blinks at him. “I’m still working on becoming fluent in Sherlock, so cut me some slack if I misinterpreted that, all right?” He leans forward to place a gentle, warm kiss on Sherlock’s lips, then pulls back a little bit to look at Sherlock.
Sherlock’s not sure what to say. He can’t begin to describe what he’s feeling. The world makes sense again, everything has clicked into place. Perhaps it can be summed up in: John’s alive, and he’s looking at Sherlock the way Sherlock’s thought of, wished for, and only ever dreamed of once.
He settles for, “You interpreted correctly,” and kisses John again.
He tries to pull John closer, but John stops him with a hiss of pain.
“Sorry,” John says. “Just – not quite healed up. Gently, yeah?”
Sherlock scoots over, and they manage to manoeuvre John onto the bed so he’s lying partially on his back and partially on his good side, turned slightly towards Sherlock.
“Probably shouldn’t be lying down,” John says.
“Why not?” Sherlock asks.
“I’m exhausted,” John replies. “If I stay lying down, I’ll probably fall asleep. And I should be calling everyone. They’ll want to know you’re awake.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock says, burying his nose in John’s hair and breathing in. “Just ten minutes.”
John-bear is still tucked under Sherlock’s arm, and John reaches over to touch it.
“You said I gave this to you in your dream,” John says. “Did you like it?”
“You asked me that before,” Sherlock says.
“Yes,” John says. “But I never did get an answer.”
“I like it very much,” Sherlock tells him. “I’m glad you don’t mind feeling like the bear around me.” He looks at the bear. “I called him John. I told you it was just until I found you, and then you could name him something different, but I suppose you didn’t hear that part.” He looks back at John. “I found you. What do you want to name him?”
John chuckles. “You don’t want me naming it. I’ve a bad history with coming up with names. I’m terrible at it. Called my goldfish Commodore Puddles when I was a kid. Harry mocked me for ages.”
Sherlock frowns at the bear.
“I didn’t tell you everything about the bear, you know,” John says.
“I remember,” Sherlock agrees. “You said you wouldn’t tell me the other reason you bought it for me unless I woke up.”
John smiles. “I wasn’t sure I was ever going to tell you. I figured you’d be much more receptive to knowing you had constant access to my brain than, well.” He fiddles with the bear’s paw, reaching under the fluff and twisting something.
A small compartment on the left side of the bear’s torso pops open. Sherlock reaches inside, pulling out a tiny heart. Like the brain, it’s a perfect replica. The detail is extraordinary.
“I wonder who made this thing,” John says sleepily. “Probably someone else in love with a nutter like I am, who figured some other nutter like me would buy it for him in a misguided attempt to say ‘you’ve got me, mind and heart.’” John nuzzles at his neck. “They forgot soul, though, didn’t they? No matter, you’ve got that, too.”
“The bear is the soul,” Sherlock murmurs.
“Hmm?” John asks.
“Never mind,” Sherlock says, putting the heart back in the compartment and closing it. “People don’t actually love with their hearts, John.”
John opens one eye to glare at him. “Must you ruin the romance?”
Sherlock raises one eyebrow at him. “We’re both injured, in a hospital bed, as a result of chasing down a violent criminal. I’ve been in a coma for at least two weeks, most likely longer, considering it would have been a bit before they allowed you to sit in here, even if, as I suspect, you started before you should have. We’re discussing a stuffed animal with remarkably detailed exposed human organs. That’s your idea of romance?”
“When I’m around you? Yeah,” John says. “You’re rubbing off on me.”
“Not the way I’d like to,” Sherlock mutters.
“What?” John asks.
“Nothing,” Sherlock says.
“Oh, no, I’m not letting that go,” John tells him. “I’m reasonably sure you’ve just made a suggestive remark towards me. I feel the need to respond appropriately.” His hand had been resting on Sherlock’s stomach, but now he slides it lower. “I could-”
“You could pop more stitches than you already have,” Sherlock snaps. “Stop that.”
John’s hand stills at his hip. “It wasn’t really serious,” he mutters. “Neither of us are up for that.”
It’s true, but Sherlock’s reasonably certain that if he’d said yes, John would have found a way. The thought intrigues him, but not enough to risk John.
“How’d you know I popped a few stitches?” John asks.
“Statistical probability,” Sherlock says. “As I said before, knowing you, you were in here before you should’ve been moving about.”
“I was,” John admits.
“These chairs are not designed for someone recovering from a stab wound,” Sherlock says. “With you moving about, and not maintaining a position conductive for healing even when you were sitting still, upsetting your stitches was highly likely.” He frowns. “The real wonder is why the staff allowed you to do this. Isn’t it their job to ensure you heal? They should be fired.”
John chuckles. He’s nuzzled back against Sherlock’s neck, now, and his breath huffs against Sherlock’s skin. “I didn’t give them a choice. And one did get fired.” His eyes close. “Wish you could’ve seen it. One of your nurses, hated coming in here. Think he had you as a patient before. Think it was also partially because I was here, and he was one of those nurses that hates having doctors watch them work. Could see why, he was just doing the bare minimum. I was going to ask for him to be transferred, but then he mouthed off about you. Almost punched him, but Sally and Dave took care of it. Lucky for me they happened to be here, or I might have lost my ability to charm the other nurses into letting me stay in here.”
Sherlock frowns. “And they fired him for this?”
John yawns and shifts closer. “What? Oh, no, he was fired because it was found he was fudging his break time and work hours, but I’m pretty sure Mycroft only told them about that because Lestrade mentioned what happened to him.”
Sherlock stares at him. “Lestrade and my brother are talking?”
“Mmm-hmm,” John murmurs. “They’ve been here as often as they can, which isn’t much, you know, with their schedules, and it coincided a lot. They cornered me the other day, together, to force me to leave long enough that they could each have five minutes alone to talk to you. Terrifying. Longest ten minutes of my life.”
“My brother and Lestrade did something together?” Sherlock is vaguely horrified.
“We really need to call them, Sherlock, they’ve been so worried,” John tells him, but as his eyes are closed and his breathing is slowing, Sherlock doesn’t feel the need to act immediately on his words.
“I’ll call them soon,” Sherlock tells him. “Go to sleep, John, I’ve got you.”
John does, and Sherlock spends a long time listening to John breathing, feeling his heartbeat, basking in the warmth of John snuggling up to him. He never wants to move.
Except no, not really, he doesn’t want to lie there forever, even though the prospect is much more appealing than lying there alone. He shifts slightly to press the call button for a nurse.
Sherlock’s got a lot of people to thank, he thinks – though he’ll likely only ever actually say it to one of them, and he’ll wait until he convinces a nurse to give him painkillers so he can blame it on them, should Lestrade ever bring it up again.
There’s also, of course, the person he needs to thank so much that he isn’t even in the same category as the others. The one curled up next to him. While he waits for the nurse to arrive, Sherlock presses his lips to the top of John’s head. “Thank you, John,” he murmurs. It’s a cop-out, Sherlock knows it is, but maybe he’ll be able to say it again, one day, when John’s actually listening.
But later, much later, after John’s woken up and everyone has come and gone and only John is still there, John looks at him and says, “You’re welcome.”
And Sherlock doesn’t have to say it again, because John’s already heard.
(Notes: this was written for a prompt for a Sherlock fic based around the Futurama episode The Sting, so credit goes to Futurama writers for the idea.)