He whirled around, false innocence plastered on his face.
"Where are you going?" His surgeon, flanked by several others stared at him in confusion and concern. Like he was a lost child. He couldn't bear it…
"Looking for the bathroom" (that was believable wasn't it?)
"Oh, it's the other way. Round the corner. I'm afraid it's no more than a latrine"
"Used to that" he pushed out an almost painful laugh and went where she pointed.
He returned to his bed to find them all waiting. His surgeon helped him into bed and reattached his IV, both things he was perfectly capable of doing on his own.
"Well John we've had a look at your case and, while we would recommend your return to the UK, your wishes are obviously an important factor. If you are willing to undertake the necessary rehabilitation, which could be potentially gruelling, it is possible to integrate you back into military life."
Integrate him back? When had he fallen out? "I'm willing to do whatever it takes."
If this computer didn't start working it was going to be hurled out the window. Sherlock knew mashing the button harder wasn't going to make it go faster but he got a vicious satisfaction feeling it give under his finger.
He stabbed the power button and held it, wringing the life out of his frozen laptop before turning back on again.
"Work, damn you!"
At last it did, shuddering into life. He went through the laborious task of bringing up the browser, linking through to skype and logging in. Not once did he acknowledge Greg sitting behind him, stirring his tea in a façade of calm.
It was white noise in the back of his head as his surgeon went through the particulars of his rehabilitation. At least until one of the nurses came bustling timidly over, looking very pale around the mouth.
"Dr. can this patient come to the office? There is a very insistent caller on the skype line."
"His C.O. can surely hold on until I've finished…"
"No ma'am it's not his C.O., it's… well I don't quite know who it is"
"someone from head office?"
"I don't think so, he was in a dressing gown…"
Sherlock. John clenched his fits. Could that blasted man not give him a moment's peace?
"I'll take it. It's a… friend of mine."
Without waiting for permission from his doctor, John got to his feet and indicated for the nurse to lead the way. She looked torn for a moment and then turned, heading back the way she'd come.
"What is it Sherlock? I was kind of busy with my surgeon…"
Ignoring the tightening in his throat, Sherlock grabbed a pen and pad of paper. "I need data and you are in a unique position to provide."
"And this data was urgent enough for you to expect me to just jump to it every time you call."
Sherlock's eyes hardened "As far as I can tell, all you've been doing is laying in bed. Surely you can take time out from that for a moment."
"Look you smug prick I've just come out of life threatening surgery…"
Sherlock masked that awful feeling in his throat, feigning a cough and ploughed on "exactly. You are out of surgery and available for questions. Do stop blithering on, you are rapidly becoming vapid."
Setting his jaw and recalling all the patience he'd learnt dealing with a drunken sister, John calmed himself. "What did you want to know?"
Sherlock clicked his pen "I want to know what happened when you got shot."
Everything is falling down.
There is no air
John is drowning
His shoulder is on fire.
"Somebody get in here! We have a patient having an anxiety attack."
John was out of the chair on his knees. When did that happen? Who stole the air? His heart hammered in his chest. Hands on his arms, on his back.
"Close your eyes and breathe mate. You're in hospital, you're safe"
His doctor is beside him, all the fragile faith in him, all the belief that he is strong and able is withering in her eyes. Behind him can hear Sherlock clear as day.
Sherlock pushed away from the desk, hurling the paper and pen across the room. "Honestly! If the man can't answer a simple question what is the point of him?"
"Sherlock? What did you do?" Lestrade set his tea down and hurried to see.
"I merely asked a question. It's John who's devolved into a fit of hysterics."
Greg grabbed the computer, taking in the chaos happening a million miles away. "Oh my god Sherlock!" John I'm so sorry. I didn't know. If I'd known I'd have stopped him. Oh John.
He's helped back into the chair and there's a mask at his face, forcing him to breathe regularly. Nurses hovered all around him. But nobody thought to turn the computer off. John heard every word, every callous sentence. He knew he'd shattered everyone's confidence and probably his chances at avoiding a discharge. Anger stirred, a beast in his belly.
Wrenching the mask away, John summoned enough breath to reply "If I'm so useless to you and you to me then fuck it. I was better off without you anyway."
Slamming the lid of the laptop down, he doubles over and draws on the oxygen like a drowning man.
Silence is black and inky, a miasma infinitely more terrifying than boredom.
"What did you say that for?!" Lestrade turned on the detective, hating the cool disdain on his face.
Sherlock's lip curled "He asks to be treated normally. Wasn't it kinder to humour him, to make some use of this?"
"KIND?!" Lestrade dragged his hand across his face "No Sherlock that wasn't kind. That was nothing like kind. That was abject cruelty."
"If he's going to be soppy about it then I don't need him!"
"You need him far more than you'd ever care to admit!"
"No I don't! I don't need him and I don't need you! I don't need anyone!"
"NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
When he opened his eyes, he'd gotten his wish. He was utterly alone in the cold dark room.