Warning: suicide attempt.
It's after dark when he gets home. The days are shorter now, and colder. He shrugs out of his too-thin jacket and hangs it up. John wanders into the kitchen and opens the fridge, to see if he'll need to order out or not. Fortunately there are no dismembered parts inside to turn his stomach away from eating. Unfortunately, there's no food either. He should have expected as much, though. It was Sherlock's turn to buy groceries after all.
He starts to dial the number from the Thai express restaurant three blocks away, but stops to ask Sherlock if he wants anything. John doesn't see him in the sitting room, so he checks Sherlock's bedroom. Not there either. He almost passes by the bathroom, but the light's on, so he inches the cracked door open to peek inside.
There's a leg sticking out of the bathtub. One that's attached to a full human body. Sherlock's leg. John's adrenaline begins to surge through him, but he tempers it, reminding himself that Sherlock is probably just stoned or exhausted.
"Sherlock?" he says, cautiously, standing in the doorway. He can't see more than Sherlock's leg and the top of his tousled head from the distance. John's hand shakes. Something in the air doesn't feel right. He moves two steps into the small bathroom and suddenly he's sprinting the last four feet, dropping to his knees beside the tub. He grabs for Sherlock's hand, and puts it back across the man's lap just as fast. His fingers are now dripping with blood and he presses them to Sherlock's neck, begging for a pulse.
Everything is covered in bright red liquid now. The sides of the tub, Sherlock's blue shirt, Sherlock's neck and John's hands, and now the buttons on John's phone as he desperately calls for an ambulance.
Sherlock is twitching as John forcefully applies hand towels to his torn wrists. He is issuing an assortment of pleads, curses, reprimands, and then more pleading. Mostly pleading and crying now.
Sherlock's head lolls against the linoleum siding of the bathroom wall and he's dry heaving. Still unconscious, liquid dripping from his eyes and mouth as his body tries to expel the poison it's had to endure. He's sweating and moaning, but still nowhere near coherency. John slides behind him in the tub and just holds him, his and Sherlock's arms crossed over Sherlock's torso as John holds the tea towels firmly to the abused wrists.
John is clutching his friend's body to him desperately, as if holding on tightly enough can prevent him from leaving the earthly shell. John believes it's true, at least for the moment.
A siren is coming closer, but John can't hear it over the screaming in his head. He clings to Sherlock even after the paramedics have arrived and they have to pry the insensible body away from the hysterical army doctor.
Sherlock is lying on a hospital gurney in the middle of the bloody hallway because the hospital is past its capacity. Full moon, John thinks, but he can't be certain. Sherlock has had a gastric suction to get rid of the drug he's overdosed on-a narcotic anti-anxiety drug, no less-and has had his wrists stitched up, and still isn't ill enough to warrant one of the precious few hospital beds in the place.
John stands on the opposite side of the hallway, watching his friend and his IV drip. A girl with a broken leg lays on a gurney end-to-end with Sherlock's. She is young, afraid, alone. John wonders where her family could be. There's a man in scrubs sitting in a rolling chair in the corner between this hallway and the next. He's a mental health tech assigned to Sherlock's suicide watch.
Sherlock's eyes flutter and he looks up at the bright lights above him in a daze. John doesn't approach him or speak to him. He's beginning to feel a little betrayed and frustrated. Sherlock looks at the tech in the corner. Then he turns his head and looks straight at John. Sherlock's eyes are red and his lips are chapped. He looks away and down at his bandaged wrists. Back up at John. He opens his mouth to say something, but a woman in a white coat clicks through the hallway, breaking the eerie silence before he can.
"Ok, Mr. Holmes, we're moving you to crisis stabilization," she says. "I'm Dr. Hedding, your psychiatrist. I'll come by to talk to you in the morning, but for tonight I just want you to rest."
"No," Sherlock says, and his voice is fractured. "I'm going home." He moves as if he's going to sit up.
"You tried to kill yourself today," she says, not sternly. "I can't allow you to go off unsupervised."
"I want to leave AMA," Sherlock says, insistently. "My doctor," he gestures vaguely toward John, "will keep watch."
Dr. Hedding glances at John, but her expression is firm. "You can't leave AMA until you've been evaluated, Mr. Holmes. I am legally obligated to keep you for the night. If you don't comply, I can have one of our hospital officers handcuff you and escort you to lockdown."
Sherlock is too weak, too tired to argue and he flops back against the raised headrest of the gurney.
"Thank you," says Dr. Hedding. "You can ask your friend to bring you some personal items from home." She turns to John. "Nothing sharp, no weapons, no dental floss, shampoo, or anything of that sort. If you're unsure about what's okay, they're going to check everything before they let you through with it anyway."
John nods and tries to catch Sherlock's elusive eye.
"A nurse will take you to your new room in a few minutes," says the psychiatrist. "You'll have to say goodbye to him here," she says to John before leaving.
John finally comes near the gurney and places a hand on the metal safety rail. "So…clothes, books, music?" John asks. He doesn't ask about it. He doesn't know if he can grasp it right now.
Sherlock doesn't look at him. "Clothes, books," he agrees. "No music, they won't let me have the headphones. Could strangle myself with the cords." There's no hint of humor or sarcasm in him.
John nods mutely. He stays with Sherlock until the nurse comes to wheel him to the secured floor. They don't say anything more to one another.
John makes it back to the flat and it's a miracle he hasn't collapsed. He starts toward Sherlock's bedroom, trying to make everything mechanical, solid, detached. He should call Mycroft. Or maybe just text him. Impersonal, no reason to make his voice crack as he tries to explain to Sherlock's brother about his bleeding wrists and his choking dry heaves. He stops at the bathroom door. He should really clean up in there before Mrs. Hudson sees it.
He can't right now.
John goes back to the task he'd started at the beginning of the evening. He needs to find something to eat, so his limbs will stop shaking, and his stress headache will abate.
He goes into the kitchen and bypasses the fridge. Goes for the cabinets where maybe, just maybe, there's a crisp box of pasta or rice.
There's a note taped to the foremost cabinet. It's been torn haphazardly out of a notebook, and the scrawl on it is unfamiliar. John takes it in his trembling fingers and begins to read.
John… God, why leave it for him?
I'm sorry. I didn't do this to hurt you, although I know it will. Damn right it did.
I love you, you're my dearest friend, and I couldn't have held out this long without you being here. Sherlock, how long have you been hurting like this?
But now I can't stay anymore. I'm in pain. I'm worthless. I'm miserable. You may be in pain and miserable, but you aren't worthless, and I'm going to tell you that myself when I see you.
I just want this to be over. I want it all to be over. I don't want an afterlife. I just want to be gone. How did I miss something this big? I know I'm not Sherlock Holmes, but I should have been able to see him in this much pain…
My only regret about doing this is that you will be hurt, and Mrs. Hudson will be frightened, and Mycroft will be disappointed. Even so, I'm going. God, Sherlock, why didn't you talk to me? Didn't you trust me? Didn't you think I'd want to help you?
I'm so tired, and everyday I wake up, wishing that I were strong enough to die. Today I think I am. I'm sorry.
John folds the paper. He's torn between ripping it up and keeping it in his pocket to remind himself how badly Sherlock has hurt. He decides to rip it. He'll never be able to forget.