By Alone Dreaming
Rating: PG-13 or T for language and violence and blood, oh my.
Disclaimer: If I owned it, it wouldn't be under fanfiction and there would've been two minutes more to episode 1x03.
Warnings: A large number of spoilers for 1x03 and, well, a serious lack of resolution as was originally intended.
Author's Note: I spit this out at about one in the morning over the course of 30 minutes, trying to convince myself that I just need a been of consolation after watching the season finale. Upon completing this, I think I've realized what I really need is series two. Immediately. Enjoy.
He already made the decision once tonight, so making it again came easily. The first time he considered it an impulse bred into him through years of military service: get the civilian out of the fight zone. Paired with this, he thought virtuously, was the instinct to protect a friend to the best of his ability, and Sherlock Holmes, while a general pain the ass and, often, sulking and rude, had somehow turned out to be one of the few people in his life that he had any persistent communication with. Whether this made Holmes a friend or not, he wasn't sure, at least, not the first time he'd reacted selflessly, wrapping his arms about Moriarty and shouting at Holmes to run. But afterwards, after Sherlock rushed to him and practically pulled him apart in his haste to remove the jacket and bomb, the fretful concern in his voice, the sheepish and shy way he addressed the actions, nullified any questions.
Together with the fact that any action done once can be easily repeated, he found little difficulty in simply reacting, again. Two gunshots fired, one from a rifle and the other from his gun; both were as familiar as his own breathing even when they echoed raucously inside the gigantic pool hall. He had less than a heartbeat to shove his shoulder into Sherlock's ribs and toss them both headfirst into the pool. Fire licked at them both even as the chlorinated water enveloped them. He blinked at the stinging water, watching the orange and yellow lightshow, his heart racing in his ears, adrenaline surging in his veins and his mind shockingly blank.
'As always, John,' Sherlock murmured lazily in his head. 'Now, what logically comes next?'
Surfacing, he thought, though it hovered a distance away and the pair of them continued to sink down towards the concrete below. They ought to surface and swim for the shallows, keep their heads low in case the snipers still lingered above, and attempt to get out of the building. In the building, they were open targets, a pair of pawns in Moriarty's game, but outside, any number of options or opportunities could present themselves. He just had to get them that far, get Sherlock that far anyway, because, while John admitted to having a very well developed sense of self-preservation, his few interactions with Sherlock had revealed that many a squirrel playing chicken in the streets had better self-concern than Sherlock Holmes.
But even as he mulled this over, he found that his arms only twitched slightly. Next to him bobbed Sherlock, back turned so that John could not see his face, but his lack of movement and struggle screamed wrongness at John far more than anything else could. Give him a whiny Holmes, a bored Holmes, a hurt Holmes, and all of them would have overwhelming amounts of gesticulations and twitches. In fact, John had long since decided that the only time Sherlock Holmes would be still would be if he'd died.
This spurred him far better than the building pressure in his lungs or the knowledge that staying in the pool made them remarkably easy targets; the ever so apt phrase "fish in a barrel" came to mind as he got his arm about Sherlock's chest. Crouching so his shoes just barely scraped the rough bottom, he surged up, pressing through the water and watching the dim light (the explosion had long ended) come closer and closer until—he gasped for breath and struggled to keep the pair of them floating. Sherlock remained a dead weight against him, not even attempting to help as they floundered in the center of the water. This would be a matter of concern for John if he didn't know how ridiculously lazy Sherlock could be at times.
'With reason,' Sherlock muttered, a little defensively. 'Expending energy on tasks not directly related to solving a case is inefficient. Besides John, I have you. My faithful Blogger.'
"Dead, you bloody bastard," he choked, desperately aware of how his body failed him bit by bit. "Dead on the floor from biting a bloody pill's what you'd be. Dead and rotting in the—" He gasped as his leg seized up. "Damn it!"
He didn't see any deadly red dots floating on the surface of the pool or on Sherlock's person which both reassured him and caused him justifiable paranoia. Only a few moments before, the pair of them had thought they were safe, he sinking to the floor in a sudden, body draining wave of relief and Sherlock fluttering about in a nervous, hummingbird manner. Now, safety felt like a harmful illusion propagated by the government (or maybe just Mycroft) in order to prevent mass hysteria. He sank for a moment and then surfaced again, coughing and wheezing, eyes blurred and burning from the pool water. Survival training started to kick in—get to shore—but he couldn't seem to paddle properly.
'Not much use, swimming, in the desert, hmm?' Sherlock said, disdain waiting his voice the way that John's shoes attempted to pull him down.
"Would you shut up?" he growled, spluttering as the water entered his mouth. Just five feet, he estimated, to the edge. He just needed to get five feet over before hazarding a glance behind himself at the damage the explosion had wrought. Just five feet before he could check to see whether or not Sherlock had successfully rid himself of his rival or if he'd just caused an excessive amount of damage to public property. Just five more feet and then—
His fingers scrabbled at the tiled surface and his arm—very much occupied at keeping Sherlock's head above the water—dragged his flat mate's body over so that it rested awkwardly against the side. He suddenly felt achingly tired, like he could fall asleep right here, right now, but he refused to give in, not immediately anyway, not until he had them both away from the threat of drowning. The doctor in him was shouting about how long a brain could go without oxygen before damage began and how, with all the evidence his senses had acquired, Sherlock appeared to not be breathing. He fumbled a bit, uncertain of how to do everything without stairs, his brain going muddy as the adrenaline all but faded away. Letting go of his charge ever so briefly, he dragged himself upwards, his one leg achingly stiff and useless, his opposing shoulder throbbing from overexertion.
Then he grabbed Sherlock by his perfectly pressed collar—now soaked through and sloppy—and clung with all his might. He couldn't seem to get Sherlock all the way out, regardless of how hard he tugged or how much anxiety it caused him to see Sherlock's pale, still face and closed eyes. Even the sight of half the building blown away opposite from them did not encourage him to go any further than where he now lay, heaving, exhausted, and in a strange manner, slightly numb.
"No more," he panted, "secret admirers. For you."
He ought to double check to make certain Sherlock's airway was clear. He ought to do a perimeter scan. He ought to figure out where the blood was coming from because it was rather disconcerting. But all he managed was to lie there and wait for the emergency response team.
"It's true, you know," he mumbled thickly, blinking wearily at the ceiling. "Never a dull moment."
"Yes," a croaking voice chokes. "Well, I did warn you that I was insufferable."
He giggled a little, nearly hysterical, "Yes, yes, I think you might have. So hard to remember, now."
"The memory faults would explain your romantic glossing of our "Study in Pink" and your persistent," cough, "need to idolize me," Sherlock reasoned. Then, softer, "What you just did… right, now…"
"Admirable? Thank you?" John wheezed.
"Idiotic, but I'd expect no less," a hand reached over and squeezed his where his fingers still wrapped in Sherlock's collar. "Didn't I say I'd be lost without my blogger?"
John felt as though the world had become one fine pinprick in the distance and knew that this was unconsciousness trying to whisk him away before he made too much of an ass of himself. "Lost, dead, but that's just logistics, I suppose?"
"Regardless," Sherlock's voice took a longsuffering air, "you owe me a new cell-phone." The fingers resting on top of his own pried his hand loose and the collar slipped away. "Two, in fact, unless Mister Moriarty intends to send me—John?"
What Mister Moriarty may or may not have sent Mister Sherlock Holmes, Mister John Watson never learned. He'd already drifted into the happy haze of one border lining shock, his limbs trembling, his body aching, his mind irrational at best. Whatever brilliant deduction Sherlock had managed would inevitably hang on until he could open his eyes again. After all, they'd closed at some point while he'd traded comments with the world's only consulting detective and he hadn't the inspiration to pry them apart. Not even the soft moan of, "No" followed by a harsh amount of prodding and shaking helped him blink his eyes open. After all, this wasn't the end.
Sherlock still owed him answers.
And he still owed Sherlock a phone.