"Three little maids from school are we,

Pert as a school-girl well can be,

Filled to the brim with girlish glee,

Three little maids from school!"

Considering the timbre of his speaking voice, the clear, bright tenor emanating from Sherlock surprises Lestrade.

"Damn you, I said talk to me." John slaps the pale face. "Tell me what you're feeling."

"Cold, actually. Read about it, obviously. Comes with blood loss, you know?" Sherlock looks down at the weeping wound in his leg. "Someone will have a real limp this time. That is, if I live. Considering the amount of blood that is covering the pavement, and the drop in body temperature..." Sherlock prattles on. His sentences make some sense, but very little at that.

"What should we do?" Donovan is panicked, her voice high and trembling.

"Do you see that?" John points left. Donovan shakes her head, her eyes wide and wet.

"Hold this. Press down hard. Even pressure. No matter what he says, do not let go." John guides Lestrades hands to the coat upon Sherlock's leg.

John stands, strides over to the crouching Donovan, grabs her by the arms, and lifts her.


John seizes Donovan's chin and turns her head to the left. "Walk down that bloody street until you find a shop. When you get in that shop, buy some plastic wrap and gauze. Also a bottle of water." He walks stiffly away, bends down and replaces his hands.

"The ambulance will be here soon." Lestrade decides against placing his hand on John's shoulder, knowing the man does not want physical comfort at this moment.

"Seven minutes and thirty four point three seconds now. They are taking their time." Sherlock coughs, his lips tinged with blood. "Goodness, isn't one supposed to expel blood with upper body injuries?"

John, for the briefest second, is almost proud that Sherlock doesn't know everything. "Shut up." He presses harder.

Hardwick. That was it. Hardwick. Blonde, green eyes. Liked reading paperback romance novels. Wasn't ashamed of that at all. Hardwick. John takes a deep breath and stares at Sherlock.

"Three little maids who, all unwary,

Come from a ladies' seminary,

Freed from its genius tutelary

Three little maids from school!

Three little maids from school!"

"Shut up" John yells. He is now in the fields, his voice that of the man issuing sharp orders to suffering, dying men in the sands.

"Eighty six point three seconds ago you told me to talk to you" Sherlock quirks the corner of his mouth up. His eyes are dull and cloudy.

"Shut up. I want you to think about the origins of that word. Think about the usage of it, think about how one would describe it for a crossword puzzle. Think."

He was the youngest I had ever seen. Naive, too. So damned naive. I don't know what the hell he was thinking when he walked in there. John stares hard at his own blood-caked hands.

"I think I'm going to get back to the street, to see if I can find out how far they are from us," Lestrade scrambles for his mobile as he stands. "John? John!"

"You are not going to leave. I can't take over Donovan too." John never raises his head. Lestrade huffs, leans against the building, and waits.

Mothers mostly, kids, wives. Never sisters. All those years, never heard anyone scream for their sibling. Jemma. God, that's all he would say. Just Jemma. Pretty girl in her own right. Had to be a half sibling, that red hair. Never let go of the picture. Couldn't anyway. Amazing how much literature has people dropping things after they die. John doesn't feel the tear that has escaped his eye.

"Now dear John, people aren't supposed to do that until aft-"

"Shut up. I said think about it. If your mind has already flown through everything I've given you, then go on about its synonyms."

Donovan is running. The plastic bag she carries bounces on her thigh.

"Here!" She plummets to the ground, hitching in her breath, sweat dribbling down her nose and chin.

"Alcohol?" John barks the word out as if it is a light shade of profanity.

"I-I thought it would help"

"You watch too many movies." John slowly unwraps the coat from Sherlock's leg

"Detrimental, actually. Common thought among the lot of you. It can wash debris into the wound if it's deep enough. Might even kill any tissue arou-" Sherlock stops his babbling. He is in fact, rather fascinated with the look John is giving him. "Think. Yes, John, think."

Did it all wrong. Oh, sure, they all told me I did everything right. They lied. I had everything before me. Was it the pressure? Had to be. Wound wasn't that bad. He just stopped. Didn't whisper or go slowly. Didn't even look up at me. Just stopped.

Lestrade has never allowed his eyes to waver from the kneeling John. He knows shock when he sees it. And it's not just Sherlock that's suffering from it. Lestrade wants to run his hand over his face, let out a sigh, and close his eyes. But he won't. He can't, not with Donovan in the state she's in. It surprises him how unhinged she's become. Considering the woman he encounters normally, this is beyond anything he had imagined would happen.

He wouldn't shut up either. I told him he needed to stop screaming, to focus. Never did. Hardwick. Damn him, if he had actually stopped calling out for her he might be alive. And Gatlin and Colmes might not have gotten shot. That was really my fault. Knew what that screaming would bring. I knew. Thumping him one would have been insensitive, but it might have saved his life.

John tears the paper from the gauze, then piles it piece by piece on the wound. "Take that plastic wrap, and start to unwind it. Need enough to wrap around his leg three times." His orders are barked out now.

Lestrade knows that the Doctor is speaking to him, that the man kneeling before Sherlock is not the man he was introduced to mere weeks ago. He is the man that once beheld blood on sand, instead of pavement.

How should I do it? Jumping off a bridge is too cliché. Can't do it at Mrs Hudson's. Poor woman doesn't need that. Harry will hate me if she can't at least look at me one last time. Won't do that to her, no matter what I think. So my gun is out of the question. No. I can get...damn, what was his name? Jack-something. I'll just hobble in, man is dumber than anyone. Yeah, Jack. Bottle of pills...guess that's really cliche, but at least it's quiet and won't cause a scene.

Lestrade hands over the plastic wrap. John doesn't even look as he grabs it from the man's hand.

"Sherlock!" Sherlock looks at John from heavy lidded eyes. "Just nod or shake your head when Lesrade asks you a question, okay?" Sherlock nods.

John never turns to look at Lestrade "Keep the questions simple-not too simple, or you'll frustrate him."

Pills. Just need something that won't make me vomit.

Lestrade is at a loss. What on Earth does he ask Sherlock Holmes?

Now, Strohmer. Did better with him. Wiped that smirk from his face. Jesus, what a twat he was. He called for his mother. Very disturbing what he wanted from her. Never forget how his babbling was whispered about. Yeah, sure. Screaming, dying men are supposed to be allowed to betray their secrets, and we are never to tell. But Strohmer? Came back how long after? No one could look him straight in the eye for weeks. Bad form, very bad form on all our parts. But if anyone deserved it? Strohmer did. Have to tell Sherlo-

John stiffens at the thought. Then, he hears it.

"They're here." Donovan bounces up to her feet in a high, delighted shriek. She dashes down the pavement, kicking her heels off, waving her arms and yelling.

Lestrade clears his throat. "Don't either of you say anything about that."

Sherlock smiles.

"John? John Watson!" It's Sherlock.

He raises his eyes, finally, from the wound. He looks at Sherlock. "Give him the water. Small sips. Very small. Hold the damn bottle for him."

"John! I'm still alive." Sherlock's voice has lost it's brightness. Its tone betrays the exhaustion of the injured man. "Still alive."

The operation is straight forward and uncomplicated. The blood replaced, antibiotics administered.

John doesn't sleep. He knows how long Sherlock might stay unconscious, but it doesn't comfort him. Somehow, he is actually allowed in the ICU. He has a suspicion that Mycroft had a hand in it.

I'd thank the bastard if I actually wanted too.

John shifts his weight, trying to find some comfortable position in the chair.

Win the lottery? Hospital chairs. That's what I'd spend it on. Two people Sherlock, two people are going to have actual limps after this.

Lestrade brings him coffee. "You look worse than him." He doesn't suggest that John take the night off, or that he even close his eyes for a few minutes. It would be an insult.

John doesn't chuckle or smile.

"The doctor said you saved his life. Said the only reason the operation went so smoothly was because of you." He doesn't want to say it, knows John will deny it. But it has to be said. Someone has to say it.

"He lied. Ambulance came in time. You would have known what to do too."

Lestrade bristles. "Don't be such a fucking martyr."

John actually looks at Lestrade and laughs. "Sherlock would point out that martyrs die for people. I'm not dead."

Not yet, at least.

"That man is alive because of you. Accept it." Lestrade turns to leave, upon reaching the door he asks "Chinese or curry?"

"Uh. Curry."

Later, John does actually eat the food Lestrade brings him.

"You know what sleep deprivation does to a man, John. You don't have to leave. But don't be a fool." Lestrade says nothing more.

Finally, against all his wishes, John Watson does fall asleep.

Two hours later, as a slight snore fills the room, a nurse comes in. She steps back in fright as two brightly angry eyes bore into her.

A whisper rises. "Yes I am awake. And yes, I will allow you to do-whatever it is you are about to do. But if you wake..." The eyes turn and soften, ever so slightly, "...that man, than you will lose your job. You know who I am, and you know I can do it."

The nurse's throat has turned to sandpaper. She tiptoes to the patient, administers the pain medication, checks what she must and tiptoes out.

Sherlock, who has gotten more sleep at once than he has in his entire life, watches John sleep. He issues the same order, in the same tone, each time a nurse enters the room.

He doesn't miss the mumbled names that issue from John, the twitch in the Doctors hand. He clearly sees as the lids tighten. He watches as, at one point, a tear again falls from an eye.

But he never wakens the man.

John's body flies up from the slumped position it has been in for hours. He gasps for breath. He curses himself for allowing his body to weaken to the needs of sleep.

Time was I could go three days without sleep.

"I'm over here."

John snaps his head and drinks in the living, breathing image of Sherlock.

"Listen to me, John Watson. Listen very, very carefully. If you ever allow that idiot mind of yours to think of suicide again, I will make sure that you live a very, very long time in a place far worse than any hell, that for some reason you believe in, death would bring you."

John says nothing.

"And yes, you saved my life." Sherlock, against his body's instincts, against the pull of his mind, reaches out and clasps John's wrist.

"You are a very singular man. And a very good one. Thank you."

John is silent, still.

"Am I allowed to eat?" Sherlock has returned to the emotionless, stoney man that frustrates Donovan, makes Lestrade protective and, finally, has saved John Watson.

"Yes. But only a little" John's voice is rough with sleep, exhaustion and emotion.

"Well, then, get me something you idiot." Sherlock crosses his arms in front of his chest and grunts.

"I'm not your personal maid. Call for the nurse." John's eyes sparkle. He looks at Sherlock one last time, leans his head back and falls to sleep.

Sherlock Holmes returns the look, and waits. When John is finally asleep, he smiles.