Written for a prompt on the BBC Sherlock kink meme on LiveJournal.
WARNING: Character death
John is in the kitchen making breakfast with the not-quite broken toaster when he hears Sherlock yelling. He rolls his eyes, figuring the detective is over-reacting to something. He probably wants his mobile, he thinks to himself as he makes his way to the bedroom.
Sherlock is flat on the bed, lying on his back with the covers falling onto the floor. His feet are scrabbling on the sheet beneath him, struggling to get a grip. He looks like an upside-down turtle, but there's nothing funny about the expression on his face. He's pale as a ghost, and his eyes are open wide in fear.
"John! John, help, I can't get up!" he cries, panicked. John rushes in and grabs onto his friend's shoulder, staring down at him.
"What's wrong?" he asks, shifting into the controlled voice of Doctor Watson, MD. Sherlock looks up at him, face drawn.
"John, I can't get up. I can't move." There's a hint of a tremor in his voice, and it shakes John, but he's in command, now. He's the reliable one.
"Okay, Sherlock, just stay calm. I'm going to call an ambulance." He flips out his phone and dials, 999, that same digit three times. "You're gonna be fine."
The service picks up after only one ring. He states his emergency and hangs up to kneel beside the bed.
"John, I don't know what's going on."
"It's gonna be fine."
"The toast is burning. I can smell it."
"It's not important. Don't worry about it."
Mrs. Hudson runs up the stairs, waving her hands, guiding a gaggle of paramedics who load Sherlock onto a stretcher and ask him questions that he can't possibly answer. They let John go with him to the hospital, and he holds Sherlock's twitching hand for the entire ride.
They run tests on him, what feels like hundreds. Spinal taps, x-rays, MRIs. They won't let John into the room, even though he insists, multiple times, that he's a doctor, he's THE doctor. They won't tell him anything, just that they need time, time to figure out what's going on, what it is.
John is a doctor. He knows what that means.
And it makes his stomach drop into a pit.
Sherlock is lying on a bed in the ward, staring at the ceiling and walls. He can sit up now, and move about, but he's slightly sluggish. John stares in at him through the window on the door, standing beside the other doctor, the one who's been administering all the tests. He's a man in his mid-fifties, with thinning salt-and-pepper hair. It took Sherlock less than a minute to deduce that the man was divorced, dating a much younger woman, and was behind on his child-support checks. Reduced to staying in bed or roaming aimlessly around the room, he's been spending his time annoying the doctors and nurses by revealing their embarrassing personal secrets.
He isn't very popular, but the doctors are "doing what they can".
"Have you narrowed it down yet?" John asks, not really sure that he wants to know.
The doctor nods. "We think so."
"Shouldn't you tell him first?" John is irritated, tired. He hasn't slept in a few days.
"I thought you'd want to know first. You are a doctor, after all." The other man straightens his tie and turns away from the window. "Anyway, it's often better if a loved one breaks the news."
John thinks for a second of correcting him, but forgets it almost instantly.
"Okay. Tell me."
"Motor Neuron Disease?"
John nods. "It's what happens when the motor neurons in your brain start to die-"
"I know what it is!" Sherlock snaps. He makes a fist, clutching the bedsheets tightly. His knuckles turn white. He presses his free hand to his lips and glares straight ahead at his feet under the white hospital blanket.
John reaches up to lay a hand on Sherlock's shoulder, but he shakes it off, turning away. John feels pangs shoot through his chest and he clenches his teeth.
"Sherlock, I'm so-"
The detective shakes his head violently. "Don't."
"Don't." Sherlock swears under his breath with what sounds like a choked-back sob. "Get out."
"GET OUT. NOW!" he roars, and John is running, slamming the door behind him, and byt the time he realizes what's happened, he is down the hall and near the elevator and the neurology department, and he is crying and it won't stop.
Sherlock apologizes the next day, and they go home together soon after.
Neither wants to talk about it.
He has two years left, he tells Lestrade, who lowers his eyes to the ground and mutters something that begins with "Jesus Mary and Joseph…" and ends with a curse. If Donovan and Anderson overhear, they don't say anything, but by the fact that they don't call him a freak, and that they barely talk to him at all on that case, he figures out easily that they know.
He begins having trouble tying his shoelaces.
His long, thin fingers are like a broken vice, not quite holding on to anything completely and struggling for a grip. It takes ages for him to write using a pencil, though it's easier to type and he can still send texts, albeit at a slower rate than normal. His mind is sharp as ever and he's still solving crimes, still dragging John along with him to murder investigations and kidnappings and the robberies of valuable jewels. He's always right, of course, but there's a little less running involved these days.
They're both dealing in their own ways, John by being doctor-y and Sherlock by pretending nothing is wrong. They're going about their business as usual, with minor changes that they don't speak about. Sherlock no longer plays the violin. John goes out less. Mrs. Hudson finally begins to make them tea when they ask.
John freaks out eventually, about something stupid and inconsequential, and they end up having a screaming match. Sherlock attempts to throw a teacup at his head and fumbles with it angrily before sweeping his arm across the table and dashing everything to the floor. It ends with broken plates and cups and both of them going to bed without saying sorry.
Before, Sherlock moved like a dancer. Now his gait is stilted and lopsided, and he favors his right. He has begun slurring his words.
They still take cases.
Sarah dumps John, and he realizes that he really doesn't care.
It happens after a particularly dangerous case, one that they really had no business working on. A close shave, a brush with death- nothing they haven't done before. But for some reason, this time it really hits them. Hard.
They're not quite sure how they ended up in John's bed, but the next morning, sprawled out naked across each other, they conclude jointly that it isn't important. Sherlock's hands are heavy as he clumsily pets John's hair, and when John's name comes out of his lips he sounds drunk, but for once It's Fine, It's All Fine, really. John makes him toast for breakfast with the oven, the toaster long gone, and he laughs, and it's like nothing has ever changed.
He starts using John's cane, refusing crutches despite the fact that his walk is steadily becoming worse. Lestrade will phone them up or text them pictures of crime scenes, and Sherlock will examine them as closely as ever and tell John what to type back. The keypad is too fiddly for him now, and dictation works just as well.
John spends a lot of time holding Sherlock. They fall asleep on the couch, the detective in the soldier's arms, snoring softly.
They watch quiz shows and murder mysteries. Sherlock always knows the answer within the first five minutes, and says so, much to John's chagrin and insistence that he keeps the spoilers to himself. Sherlock just grins.
They go out for a walk one day and John leaves Sherlock alone for a moment to pick a forgotten jacket off of a park bench. He comes back to find him locked in combat with a policeman attempting to put him in handcuffs. He thinks that Sherlock is drunk, and John punches him in the face in a blind rage before he realizes that he probably should have been more civil. He spends the night in a cell at the police station before Lestrade manages to get the assault charges dropped. Sherlock is a combination of annoyed, embarrassed, and flattered, and he spends half an hour telling John that he can take care of himself before finally saying thank you and giving him a kiss.
On Christmas they take the train to Sherlock's parent's house, a looming estate in the country. John finds that Mr. and Mrs. Holmes are perfectly nice people, if a bit posh. They like John, and at one point Mrs. Holmes takes him outside and tells him how much she appreciates him being there. Mycroft is there as well, with his assistant in the background, attached to her Blackberry by her thumbs. He extols them with tales of government and, despite their perceived differences, he and Sherlock manage to behave around each other. Their parents seem pleased.
They love their son, and they are worried, but they seem to have come to terms with things, and it is a very nice Christmas.
On the way home, Sherlock falls asleep with his head on John's shoulder.
They move in to the downstairs flat because Sherlock is having trouble with stairs.
John and Mrs. Hudson are the only people who can understand him through the slurs, and he spends most of the day on the couch or sleeping.
One morning they are lying in bed together when Sherlock tells John that he is happy. He wouldn't trade the time they've been together for the world. And he's going to miss him.
John tells him to shut up while he cries into Sherlock's pajama covered shoulder.
They lived together for three years, four months, and ten days.
When Sherlock left 221 B Baker Street, he took nothing with him.
When John left 221 B Baker Street, he took Sherlock's scarf.
It still smelled like him.