They came back from the case to find the flat cold and empty and it was not long until John switched the TV off and went up to his room. "What's up?" Sherlock asked surprised at his flatmate's early departure. "I'm not feeling so good, might be coming down with something. I better get an early night" John informed casually before retreating to the privacy of his bedroom to curl up and feel miserable in peace.
There had been the usual skirmish with a nasty criminal and his head was pounding from the beating he had taken. He was lucky his nose had not been broken but it hurt like hell and he hated to let Sherlock see how awful he was feeling. It didn't feel like the headache of a nasty punch to the face, it felt more like a nasty case of the flu. He shoved two paracetamol down his throat and headed upstairs.
John woke up to the unpleasant sensation of a throbbing pain in his head combined with the gentle touch of a cold hand against his forehead. He was embarrassed to hear himself moaning as he twisted away from the hand holding him down. "Don't John, you're quite ill, you need to let me help you" Sherlock's voice broke through his pounding headache.
John had a strange flashback to being curled over the toilet throwing up earlier in the night and realized that he had clearly caught something unpleasant from one of his patients. He was shivering slightly and felt absolutely horrendous, possibly a case of the flu then, he really should tell Sherlock to stay away in case he was contagious.
Something was forcefully shoved under his tongue and he registered vaguely that Sherlock was doing something as sensible as taking his temperature. "Damn" Sherlock cursed and grew tense next to John who wished he could stop shivering long enough to figure out why Sherlock was so angry. "What's wrong? He moaned and reached out a hand. "39.5, that's bad right?" Sherlock ran a hand gently over John's burning forehead.
"Not the end of the world unless there are other symptoms which indicate something more sinister." John twisted out of Sherlock's grasp only to let his hands fly up to grasp at his neck. "Oh, actually, Sherlock, do you think you could call an ambulance" John sounded surprisingly calm given the statement he had just made and Sherlock in return did not feel calm at all as he brought out his phone and dialed 999. "What is wrong?" he stared at John who blinked back at him and grabbed his hand with surprising strength. "My neck really hurts. I think I may have meningitis, I could be wrong but better be safe than sorry" John stated calmly and Sherlock relayed the information to the man at the other end of the phone.
"I need an ambulance for my flatmate, he thinks he may have meningitis and he's a doctor so he should know." Sherlock growled into the phone as he ran gentle hands over John's trembling body. His words were distant to John who tried to keep focused on the one way conversation. "He's got a temperature of 39.5 and he's very pale, what other symptoms should I be looking for?" Sherlock sounded surprisingly panicked and John was slightly flattered by the concern the Consulting detective showed.
"John, look at me, he wants to know if you're photosensitive." Sherlock stated and shook Johns shoulder to get his attention. At that instant John started to shake uncontrollably and Sherlock dropped his phone grabbing onto his friend with panicked frenzy. John curled up shivering, his eyes rolled back and every muscle in his body tensed up and Sherlock tried to hold him down as blood started to drip from his mouth indicating that he had unintentionally bit himself.
As suddenly as the seizure had started it ended again and John sagged against Sherlock's chest as he clutched manically at his friend. "John, can you hear me?" Sherlock asked as he held John firmly against his chest his own breath laboured with fear at his friend's condition. John did not respond but rather lay limply against Sherlock showing no signs of life. Sherlock grabbed at his wrist checking his pulse and was wonderfully relieved to find that there was one even if it was fluttering at an alarming rate.
Enthusiastic ringing of the doorbell signaled the arrival of the ambulance and Sherlock tore himself away from John in order to pound downstairs and open the door. The medics were organized and worked with care to lift John onto the stretcher and bring him into the waiting ambulance despite the fact that Sherlock was constantly pulling at his friend getting in their way.
They let him help to carry the unconscious man downstairs to keep him occupied and then kept him busy by giving him his friends hand and telling him to keep a firm check on his pulse. They were used to dealing with traumatized relatives and a firm grip on the injured party's pulse usually did the trick, provided that the pulse stayed even.
Arriving at the hospital Sherlock watched in horror as John was hooked up to an IV of antibiotics and a cannula was inserted to give him extra oxygen. He was frustrated to find that his own hands were shaking as he sat down in the uncomfortable ICU chair to wait for his friend to regain consciousness. Eventually he pushed himself up and sat down on the side of John's bed taking his flatmate into his arms.
"How is it that you manage to make me feel like this?" Sherlock asked the prone body in his arms. It made him strangely uncomfortable to find that he was indeed feeling, and not just feeling, hurting in fact. Watching John Watson sprawled in bed in peril of his life made him hurt, in fact it made his heart twist in horrid ways he had never thought it able to.
He wrapped John's hand in his own and brought it up to his cheek in a gesture that he knew was clearly out of character. "Please come back to me" he whispered to his unmoving friend expecting no reaction but surprised to find that John's fingers tightened slightly in his own grasp. "John, can you hear me?" he asked eagerly and John moved slightly but did not speak. His hand in Sherlock's grasp however grew tighter and he knew for a fact that John was regaining consciousness. It wasn't long before John's eyes fluttered open and he focused on Sherlock's furrowed brow.
"What happened?" John's voice sounded strained but that was no surprise under the circumstances. He did not seem faced by the fact that he was wrapped in Sherlock's arms, his palm was pressed against Sherlock's cheek the younger man's fingers wrapped gently around his own. "If your own diagnosis is correct you have meningitis." Sherlock stated with more calm than he felt "They did a lumbar puncture to double check but the tests have not come back yet. They started you on antibiotics straight away though so I think they're fairly certain that you were right"
John could feel the slight tremor in Sherlock's hands where they wrapped around his own and it was a strange sensation. Sherlock was always so calm and collected, for him to be trembling seemed strangely out of character, as did the fact that he was clutching John's hand to his face. "Sherlock, are you alright?" he mumbled and Sherlock let out a strangled laugh and replaced Johns hand on the bed and slipped back into his chair. "I'm experiencing unexpected sentiment at the prospect of your possible demise but other than that I am fine" Sherlock looked deadly serious and John smiled up at him grabbing onto his hand before he had a chance to withdraw it.
He was so tired but the touch of Sherlock's hands grounded him somewhat. Still he was a good enough medical practitioner to know that he was far from alright. His chest tightened as his heart beat erratically and he gasped in pain squeezing Sherlock's hands unintentionally. "Press the alarm" he forced from behind pained grunts and he felt Sherlock's arms encircle him as he twitched and jerked knowing with a doctor's certainty that there was a distinct possibility that he would not make it out of this alive.
He woke again to the rhythmic beeping of a heart monitor. "You have to stop doing that" Sherlock said from his right and John forced himself to open his eyes. "What is that?" his voice was no more than a whisper. "Having seizures and passing out, I don't like it." Sherlock clarified and John forced a small smile. "Sorry. I'll try not to… I feel better" he added as an afterthought. "They say you are. Your temperature is down and apparently you are responding well to the antibiotics." John nodded slowly at the information. "Good." He said, relieved that he no longer felt like he was dying.
He should have worked that out for himself, Sherlock was no longer touching him and John had long since figured out that when Sherlock was worried about something he touched and held, and just generally acted more like a human being. His distance now was enough to put John's mind at ease. He fell asleep again absentmindedly wondering if he wasn't at least a little sad that he was no longer in peril of his life, he did miss Sherlock's hand over his own and those long slender arms wrapped around him but surely that was just the fever talking.