Her feet pound against the ground and she can feel her heart in her throat as she throws herself forward desperately. The air whips past her face, her hair, her hands; it strangles and tries to yank her backwards with its force, but she is simply going too fast, her lungs burning and her heart racing and the sound of sirens wailing in her ears. Please, she thinks desperately, stumbling and yanking off her heels as she continues, please let me be-
A crack echoes. She skids to a halt, ignoring the feeling of asphalt burning and ripping the skin off the bottoms of her feet, and is running again in a flash, like a bolt of lightning. She has to get there has to get there has to get there-
She knows she's arrived when police cars swamp the scene. Their lights are flashing blue and red and there are so many people bustling around, all nearly screaming and all with sheet white faces. She hears words like "ambulance, he hasn't got much time" and "please, they're losing him!" She swallows, hustles into the small building. She doesn't even know where they are, it's so secluded, miles and miles of land that goes on and on. Her car had run out of gas about a mile ago (to her incredulous surprise) and, instead of waiting for someone to just pick her up, she had run.
She throws herself into the building with all her speed (she's the fastest on her team, she knows, and she made that mile in six minutes flat) and she freezes. Her eyes go wide.
She feels a familiar ache in the back of her throat, and knows she is going to cry.
Sherlock is on his knees, his lanky form bent over John Watson, who is lying on his back. Sherlock's arms around the good Doctor's shoulders, clutching John to his chest, his head resting in the crook of the detective's elbow. John coughs, muttering something to Sherlock that she can't hear.
There's a terrible amount of blood on his chest, coming from the left side. Not good, her mind supplies. Not good at all. Oh, God.
There's an unmoving body in the corner of the room. His eyes are unseeing. There is a pool of blood under his head, and a bloodied pipe rests a little ways away. He is dead.
"Stay with me, John," Sherlock says, and his voice is hoarse. "Stay with me. Just stay awake. The ambulance is almost here, just- John, stay with me." He swallows, and she can see the rapid rise and fall of his chest as his breathing increases. She thinks he may be hyperventilating. She doesn't know. She can't feel her fingers. Is she still standing?
"Sherlo...ck…" John chokes, and Sherlock hugs him closer, pressing him into his chest almost painfully.
"I'm here, John. You'll be alright. Please just hang on." She gets a good look at Sherlock's face when he glances up. His eyes are bright and moist, and his face is alabaster. His chin trembles and his lips are pressed into a firm, white line. He only regards her a moment before he is staring down at John again.
She swallows, because she knows the look in his eyes. He knows that it is not good, either.
John breathes something that even Sherlock doesn't catch; he bends further, so his ear barely brushes John's lips. Sally Donovan can't hear it, but it makes Sherlock smile in what she believes is earnest, because his eyes crinkle at the corners and a little choked sob escapes his mouth. "No, John. There's nothing to apologize for. There will be, though, if you don't stay awake."
And John grins, but it's strained, and a tear leaks from the corner of his eye. Tenderly, Sherlock's thumb strokes across John's cheek, wiping it away. "Oh, John. I'm so sorry." And John actually lets out a little laugh. It's breathy and pain filled, and Sherlock's eyebrows scrunch together. "John?"
John smirks at him. "You...just…" He coughs. "Never know...anything...do...you?"
And Sherlock stares at him. "John?" He repeats, and there's something in his tone that Sally Donovan has never heard before.
"I...took that freaking bullet...for you, idiot." John's voice is full of fondness, and Sally covers her mouth with her hand because oh God, he's not going to make it.
Sherlock's whole face crumples, and two tears make their way down his cheeks. They drip off his chin and onto John's lips. "Oh God, John," Sherlock chokes, and he clutches John so hard that his knuckles turn white. "I don't want you to go."
And she suddenly feels absolutely vile for the way she's invading this scene, for the way she's completely violating their privacy. She averts her eyes, staring at the ground, and notices she is still shoeless. How unprofessional, she thinks to herself, but it has no real force to it, no reprimanding tone. She inspects their surroundings and realizes that they're in a warehouse- obviously abandoned by the rust and dust of it- and it is not very large, maybe the size of a small, one roomed flat. She swallows as she sees the blood spattered on the wall, no doubt where John had been standing. Her heart throbs.
"John!" It's a strangled cry, and her head turns so fast she's sure she'll have whiplash later. Sherlock's forehead is pressed against his blogger's, hands cradling John's head and cupping his cheeks. "Please," he whispers, but it is suddenly so quiet that it's louder than a scream, "I don't know…"
John throws his hand up and grapples for something to hang onto, finally latching onto Sherlock's bicep. Where the hell is that freaking ambulance?! Sally wants to scream, but the only thing that is let out is a little gust of air. She watches with wide eyes and John smiles at his best friend- a fond smile, a smile full of love- before his eyes close and his creased face falls peaceful and his arm gently floats back down to his side.
And she wants to scream.
And Sherlock chokes.
And Lestrade comes bursting in with his radio, face alarmed, and Sally knows that the ambulance is here.
And it's too late.
And Sherlock lets out a little hoarse sob, face scrunching as he gently lowers John's body to the ground.
And Sally feels her cheeks grow wet.
And Lestrade lets out a little breath.
And Anderson comes in, brows pulled together and lips curled into a snarl until he sees Sherlock. And his mouth falls open.
And Sherlock sits there, hands still hovering, immobile, over his best friend. Unsure of what to do now.
And Lestrade's breath hitches.
And Sally wants to scream.
Sherlock's whole body begins to quiver, like a string pulled too taut on a bow. His body thrums but his shoulders slump, and he lets out another little noise, something between a sob and a whimper. It's the most innocent and vulnerable sound she's ever heard him make, and someone reaches in and pulls on her heartstrings. His face is creased with pain- his eyebrows are pulled together and his nose is scrunched and his lips are bleeding a little because he's bit them so hard.
Lestrade speaks so softly that he sounds like a different man. "Let it out, Sherlock."
And for once, Sherlock listens.
His whole body keels forward as he wraps his arms tightly around his torso, and he cries his heart out. Tears leak off his nose and onto John's stained jumper, and he makes a little sound of effort, and Lestrade says, "scream if you have to, Sherlock. It's alright."
And apparently that is all he needs, because he opens his mouth and lets out the most heart wrenching sound that Sally has ever heard. And he sucks in a breath and does it again. And again. And again.
He's rocking slightly. Back and forth, forward and back. His face is so streaked with tears she wonders how they even got in some places- they drip off his limp hair, his chin, his nose, his clothing. They drip onto John, who has a little ghost of a smile on his face.
Sally feels something in her stomach coil ominously, and she runs as fast as her legs can carry her out of the warehouse, where she makes it in time to lose anything she'd eaten. Her vision is blurred with tears and her nose runs, and she swipes at it with her sleeve, trying to stop it. She feels absolutely dirty, dirtier than the worst of criminals.
She's treated this man like he's some sort of psycho, some sort of a man who can't feel anything at all and is as cold as stone and cares about no one. She saw a man who took pleasure in a murder or a misdeed, constantly belittled people for their inferiority to his God complex; saw a man who didn't care at all.
And now she's seen a man who just wore his heart on his sleeve and it has been ripped to pieces, seen a man who has just lost his only and best friend in this world. And now she's seen that, other things come too: the way he refuses to eat or sleep on a case until he's solved it, the way he works tirelessly for consultants and to catch criminals, the lengths he's willing to go to bring people to justice.
Because he's not just a great man.
He's a good one.
And he cares about people, just like anyone else who solves crime. Because he wants to help people. So he doesn't show emotion like others- what have they done to encourage him to do so? Strike first with no questions asked. Reject him. Scorn him. Insult him. Bait him.
And now the only person in the whole world who hadn't and had seen past the walls Sherlock formed for himself is dead, and he isn't coming back.
She wipes her mouth; swallows. Tries not to be sick again.
The door opens behind her, and as she glances over her shoulder she sees Sherlock's rigid yet somehow pliable body being guided at both elbows by Lestrade and Anderson. Sherlock's face is completely unseeing and absolutely ashen. His stare is glassy. His hands tremble. They are covered in John's blood.
Anderson's face is stark white. His eyes are wide and his face is humbled as he carefully sits Sherlock down on the back of the ambulance as Lestrade, whose face is grey, fetches a shock blanket. Sherlock doesn't react when it is placed softly around him; he only hunches in on himself. His fingers curl lightly around the bright orange fabric. Sally's heart plummets.
She goes forward and grabs his hands, which are ice. She begins rubbing some life back into them but he doesn't react. His trembles, if anything, increase. His eyes lock onto her face. "I.." he says, but the words seem stuck in his throat. He swallows, and his adam's apple bobs. "I-I-I-" She's patient. She looks at him with kind eyes. "I-tr-tried, b-but- and-and then- he-he-"
"Who?" She asks gently, still trying to rub some feeling back into his spindly fingers. They aren't warming up at all. "Who is 'he'?"
Sherlock swallows. His eyes flicker to something over her shoulder and back to her face. "I-I- he tried to att-attack John and I- I-and- the-the pipe-"
And it all clicks into place. "Oh, Sherlock," she says, and her eyes water again, "it's alright. Really. It's alright."
He nods his head jerkily. His curls bounce. "And- and- J-J-John-"
Sally doesn't want him to say it. She doesn't. She can't. "We know," she says quietly, and he nods again. His face has grown even whiter somehow, and he looks nearly transparent. She continues to rub his fingers (which have now gained a little of their own warmth, thank God) and Anderson stands by him.
And when it starts to rain and Anderson shrugs off his coat and adds it to Sherlock's shoulders, Sally doesn't say anything. And when Sherlock grips her hands back like his life depends on it, she doesn't say anything, either.
Because he's lost his best friend in the whole wide world.
And he's not coming back.
Thank you for reading and please leave me a comment on your thoughts.