~ Requiem ~
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine. Sherlock. Sherlock." John insisted, trying to calm the man as he was roughly stripped of the bombs that had fit so snugly around his torso, and watched them skid across the tiles.
There was a tense pause as they regarded each other, breathing heavily. John's heart was pounded against his ribcage. There was a flicker of something in Sherlock's eyes, the corner of his mouth twitched. His hand hovered over John's shoulder, hesitant to touch, but wanting to know that he was still there.
And then Sherlock was darting around the corner, gun still in hand, it was the closest John had seen him to distraught. He went to follow but his knees turned to jelly and buckled. He grunted as he forced himself to remain upright, but could do nothing more to stop himself from sliding to the cold tiles, his back resting against the change rooms.
He breathed deeply, trying to calm the roaring of his blood in his ears and the way the room seemed to spin. Coming down from the adrenaline rush, he realized, and closed his eyes briefly. He heard footsteps and glanced up as Sherlock came back into view.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Fine." John replied shakily, offering a small smile. He listened as the other man began to ramble, pacing back and forth in front of him. He said something about it being 'good' that John was there and that he was safe. John smiled thinly, remarking that anyone seeing them then would assume Sherlock had been undressing John of more than a mere bomb.
"People always talk." Sherlock said easily.
It was the easing of tension, John stared up at the tall figure huffing slightly, a smiling tingeing his own lips, and felt more than a little elated. They'd met the dreaded Moriarty and survived! Ha! It was, perhaps, the belief that they were suddenly and surely safe that made them deaf to the sound of the door opening, and the footsteps as the man of the moment stepped back inside the pool area.
John stared, horrified. Hadn't Moriarty said they could live? Perhaps not, he hadn't been thinking clearly while strapped to the bomb.
He watched, flabbergasted, as Sherlock's face and chest suddenly danced with bright red dots. From the look on the taller man's face, John guessed he was in a similar situation. He shifted uneasily but did not attempt to stand.
"Sorry boys! I am so changeable. It is my greatest weakness. But, to be fair, it is my only weakness." Moriarty said in his singsong voice. "You can't be allowed to continue. You just can't."
The red dots swarmed over Sherlock's face, resting on his forehead.
John felt the adrenaline surge back to the surface, burning through his veins like acid. He puffed out a little breath. Sherlock was looking at him, and it was easy to understand the silent question.
Really? He asked back silently.
John nodded. He felt his lip tremble ever so slightly and forced himself to be calm. He had to remain calm.
Sherlock pivoted on his heels, spinning to face Moriarty. John watched as his friend raised the gun, it did not waver, but focused on Moriarty.
They stared for a comment or two, but all John could think was, how did he get Sherlock out of the blast? How could he maneuver the man so that he was not vaporized on the spot? Nothing came to mind, and he supposed that was the shock.
He saw the gun dip. There was another little twitch of Moriarty's lip, as if he did not believe Sherlock would do it.
But he did.
John almost willed himself to shout out, to tell Sherlock not to do it. But his lips went numb and his body moved beyond his control. Army training, perhaps. It took over as soon as he saw Sherlock's finger inch that little bit closer to the trigger.
His feet pushed away from the slippery tiles, projecting his body forward. His hands struck the course material of Sherlock's coat a breath after the gun exploded in the man's hand. John closed his eyes and felt himself flying backward.
There was a moment of pure, crystalline clarity. John felt the heat of the bomb, each ripple of power bending the air and pushing him further and further from the actually explosion until he felt his body begin the short but sharp descent to the ground. The force of the collision pushed the air from his lungs, made it hiss through his teeth until his chest felt hollow and painfully empty. He caught a quick flash of black, Moriarty, and then his head struck the tile and he closed his eyes.
Sherlock didn't expect anything. To be honest he wasn't thinking straight. Not that he was going to admit that to anyone.
He watched Moriarty's smile falter as he dipped the gun toward the bomb sitting between them. He pulled the trigger without another thought. It all happened so fast, he would not admit so afterwards, but he was feeling decidedly unsettled. He felt hands grab roughly at his back, pushing him forward. He tried to stay in place but he was tipping, without hindrance, toward the clear blue of the pool.
He hit without pause, sinking to the bottom before surging back to the surface. He breathed in a deep breath, choking as he quickly vomited up the water he'd somehow managed to suck down. Something hard struck him in the side of the head, throwing him back into the water. The pain was immediate and sharp, like someone was sticking a needle into his skull. He kicked to the side of the pool and leaned on the edge. Debris floated around him.
It was silent, except for the ringing in his ears, his gaze snapped around the room, taking in the smoke, the smashed tiles and the empty space where Moriarty's body should have been. He snarled and slammed his fists against the edge of the pool. They'd been so close!
With a quick thought, he fished around in his sodden pocket until he pulled out the pink phone. He dialed Lestrade, hoping for some assistance, clearly he wasn't thinking straight if he thought Lestrade could help them. But he did it, nonetheless.
After a mumbled order without explanation, Sherlock dropped the phone to the tiles and pulled himself out of the pool. It seemed harder than it should have been, in fact, everything did. Breathing, thinking, blinking. He rubbed his eyes, hissing as the side of his head pulled painfully.
And then, he saw John.
His heart stuttered. Panic flared, not unlike the horror he'd felt at seeing his best friend attached to the bomb, and he struggled to his feet.
John was watching him glassily from where he lay crumpled against the fractured changing rooms. His shoulders were propped up while the rest of him lay sprawled limply, covered in bits and pieces, sidelong. There was blood covering half his face, trailing thin tendrils over his cheek and nose. Sherlock hurried over and crouched in front of him.
"John? John, can you hear me?" He reached out and gingerly tapped his friend's cheek, watching the sluggish response with worry.
John looked dreadful.
The world danced in dull shades of greys and blacks. He drew in a breath and heard it catch somewhere deep in his chest. That couldn't have been good.
Why couldn't he think properly?
He couldn't move.
The thought didn't panic him as it should have. Because if he didn't move, he didn't feel. And he knew there must have been pain hidden beneath the layers of fog and numbness, and was glad that he was able to avoid it.
A shadow of black caught his eye and he managed to roll his gaze to the pool, where a blurred version of Sherlock was pulling himself out of the water, black hair glued to his forehead and dripping into his eyes. His coat looked heavy and dragged behind him as he approached. John watched him silently, not sure whether he could speak without making some pathetic sound.
Sherlock seemed to hover above him, a dark angel with piercing grey eyes and a spatter of blood over his left temple. John frowned, Sherlock was hurt.
He felt something tap his cheek. Constant. Annoying. He grimaced, reached up with one shaky hand to swat it away. Sherlock was still staring at him, his mouth parted, moving, probably saying something. But John's ears were ringing and he could hear a strange roaring sound, like the waves crashing against a cliff-face.
Again, he frowned in concern at the blood on Sherlock's face, he brought his hand up again, and touched the other man's face. He couldn't manage any higher than his chin, but perhaps he got his point across, because Sherlock wrapped one hand around his and touched the other to his temple, wincing ever so slightly.
There began a sharp whine, high pitched and choppy like a badly tuned radio with the signal switching in and out. There was a rumbling sound, and then there was a tender kind of silence. John blinked woozily, glad that he could hear once more.
"You 'kay?" He mumbled, disturbed at the weak resonance of his own voice.
Sherlock gave a sharp laugh that had him flinching back. "Me? Am I…Am I okay? John, you look half dead and buried, don't worry about me." Sherlock said. He spoke blatantly, earnestly, as Sherlock does.
"But you'rrre bleedin'." He said in reply, breath catching uncomfortably in his throat.
"I'm fine, John. Just breathe and try to stay still."
"Moriarty? Where'sss he?" John tried to shift and look toward the other end of the pool, but his arms just flailed and he found himself sliding lower toward the floor, eyes fluttering in a bout of weariness.
"Stay awake, John." Sherlock whispered, leaning close.
"Sure." He muttered, but his eyes were so heavy. Each time he blinked, he found it harder to open them again. Something sticky ran over his lip, itching. Tickling.
"Sherlock." He said suddenly, but it came out garbled, something hot was rising in his throat, threatening to cut off his airways. He thrashed, desperately trying to suck in air as his lungs screamed and his mind begged for respite.
John's back arched. His hands scrabbled at his sides, the tiles slid uselessly beneath his fingertips. He was aware of the strange noise emerging from his stretched lips, the crackle and slide of something within his chest and the ever-present sensation of both drowning and of suffocation. His eyes darted briefly toward Sherlock, the man hovered anxiously by his side, and then his eyes rolled back and he went limp.
He did not slip into unconsciousness, though, but was instead caught 'in between'. His mind was awake, the last dredges of awareness allowing him to feel his unmoving body fall into shock. He felt too, then, the gentle patter of fingers dancing over his chest, his neck, his chin and then his mouth.
He suspected, but could only hope, that the man knew CPR.
Those gloved fingers tugged on his jaw, pinched his nose and soon he felt a warm puff of air on his nose as if the other man was steeling himself, and then Sherlock pressed his mouth against his and forced the air between his teeth.
If he'd had the capability, he would have protested the sudden intimacy. As it was, he had to lie there silently, wondering why he couldn't feel his chest rising. It was, at the last moment, the realization that his lungs were full of blood that had his mind reeling weakly. He wanted to tell Sherlock, but the man was smart. Of course he was. He would understand.
He felt his body carefully tipped sideways so that his head dipped and hit the tiles. A hand thumped him on the back, but uncertainly, almost tenderly. And John felt the red, sticky substance ooze over his lips. Sherlock rolled him onto his back, wiping a sleeve over John's mouth and then he was breathing for him again. Pausing to compress his chest.
He felt ribs crack, but there was no pain.
In fact, there wasn't much of anything anymore. John knew he could just let go, that no one would stop him from slipping away. Not even Sherlock could stop him. So easy, so simple…
And then the decision was torn from his hands as his body gave a violent jerk. A strange, gagging sound emerged from his clogged throat, and he spewed forth a thick river of bright red that quickly seeped into the cracks of the tiles and soaked his shirt.
Sherlock was making strange noises. Talking, perhaps. But John was barely listening. The sudden availability of air was a heady rush to the head and he had to steel himself against the dizzying sensation.
He blinked furiously, wishing the world would stop tilting and phasing in an out of focus. He found one of his hands quickly entangled in Sherlock's coat, fearful that he might slip again, and contemplate the easy fall of a quick death as if it truly were his decision.
He didn't want to feel that again.
"Just stay awake, John. Stay awake and let me think." He heard Sherlock muttering. He almost smiled, it was just like the man to say something almost selfish like that.
"Who'd you call?" He slurred, and Sherlock pulled him back so he could frown down into his face.
"You…called someone. Who…?" He trailed off, a little hiccup accompanied by a bubble of blood popped on his lips.
Sherlock wiped it away distractedly before answering.
"Lestrade. I figured we could at least use some backup." The dark haired man answered on a sigh, John closed his eyes and settled into the warm puffs of air fluttering against his cheeks. He began to shiver, the movements dragging out small, helpless sounds from his mouth.
Sherlock, after a moment of thought, pulled John until he rested on the taller man's chest, cheek pressed to his shoulder and red-misted breath staining his dark coat. He admitted, silently, that it was easier to breathe this way. But he hoped to the high heavens that no one found them like that.
The rumor that they were a couple was already running rampant, people gave them knowing smiles as they entered crime scenes and he'd caught whispered comments on more than one occasion. He wished he knew how to cool his blush. Wagging tongues should have been the least of his worries.
It was nonsense, of course, utter nonsense. Really….
Sometime during his befuddled thoughts, Sherlock had begun to rub his back in circles, trying to ease his breathing, at least, that's what John told himself.
It was making him sleepy, though, and soon he found himself leaning heavily on Sherlock, perhaps even drooling, as he fought the less than gentle tug of something more than sleep. He felt his hand loosen on his friends coat, felt as each finger went limp and then fell away, leaving him feeling unreal and incorporeal.
He felt his will wavering.
"Watson!" Shook by the shoulders, his eyes snapped open and he openly regarded the familiar face with a mixture of confusion and irritation. He'd been so comfortable…so sleepy…
"Watson, just hang on, the ambulance will be here soon!" It was Lestrade, crouched beside them with a look of pure concern and anger.
John wondered when he'd gotten there, certainly he hadn't noticed, he supposed he must have blacked out. It happened in cases of extreme blood loss.
The thought made him feel sick.
He reached out and willed his fingers to hook in his friend's lapel, breathing harshly, he managed to look into Sherlock's face. The blood was still there, smudged slightly where his fingers had touched and there were now dark circles beneath his usually vivid eyes. A concussion.
"Sherlock." He groaned, barely able to get the words out between his chattering teeth. "I feel…I feel.." He broke off, unable to hold back the hacking coughs that seized his lungs and muscles until he thought his body was going to rip itself apart.
Sherlock was rubbing his back again, John could almost feel him giving a cold, hard stare to Lestrade, but neither of them said anything. Perhaps they knew John was going to die, and didn't want to waste their breath trying to convince him otherwise.
"You're not going to die, John." He heard Sherlock mutter in a bored tone, but there was a quiver beneath it, something akin to worry.
"…am." He whispered back, he felt himself falling again, although his cheek was still pressed to Sherlock's shoulder. He was falling and there was no escape.
Sherlock glared as Lestrade and his pathetic gang of cronies came barreling through the door. It would have been humorous, the look on Lestrade's face when he came through the pool entrance, but somehow Sherlock found it nothing of the sort.
He gave Lestrade little details, nothing that actually explained the bomb, the pool, the whole situation in general. Moriarty. It was not that he disliked Lestrade, more that he did not feel the need to explain himself on the whole. Not while John was slowly and but surely dying in his arms.
He rubbed his hand over and over his friends back, heard the rattling somewhere deep in his chest each time he drew a breath, something close to fear filled him. He didn't want John to die. He didn't want to lose the only person he viewed as a friend.
Without Watson he would be alone. Again.
"Have you called the Ambulance? No, of course you haven't. Do it now." He said to Lestrade, his tone its usual haughty tenor. He felt no need for niceties at that moment.
Lestrade blinked blankly at him, one hand reaching out as if to touch Watson, but then he appeared to shake himself and pulled out his phone. In that momentary distraction, Sherlock pulled Watson's limp form closer, Lestrade did not need to touch him.
He looked down and to the side, trying to catch a peek at his friend's face, but Watson was turned, cheek resting heavily on his damp shoulder and his hair tickling Sherlock's chin.
The ambulance would arrive in approximately five minutes. Give a minute for heavy traffic and delays. John might not last that long, his body was bleeding heavily and judging by the sounds of his ragged breathing, his lungs were badly injured.
Sherlock shifted slightly, keeping his hand steady at John's back, Lestrade was coming back over, having stood and wandered over to Donovan. He looked frazzled, but still neat and rather composed. Lestrade was Lestrade.
"Hand me the phone." Sherlock ordered with a pointed look to the pink mobile still lying by the edge of the pool.
"Why?" Lestrade asked, brow furrowing. Nevertheless, he scurried over and scooped up the pink monstrosity, handing it over to Sherlock. He hesitated at the blood covering his hand.
But Sherlock said nothing at that little pause, he would have, normally. But this time it was different. It was Watson's blood.
There was no mystery to this event. The facts; Moriarty, Watson, Sherlock, bomb, pool. All mixed together and this is what you got. Blood and fear and the foul stench of shame. Watson had pushed him out of the way.
He took up the phone and typed in the numbers, careful to keep the screen averted from Lestrade's keen gaze.
Moriarty. Not dead.
He dropped the phone into his pocket.
"Who'd you text? Who did this, Sherlock? You need to talk to me." Lestrade asked, somewhat angrily. Indecently angry. It wasn't any of Lestrades business. He shouldn't be here.
"Then you shouldn't have called me." Lestrade retorted and Sherlock realized he must have said that aloud.
"I think you've got a concussion." Lestrade announced softly, eyeing the blood at the taller man's temple. He did not move to touch him or offer consolation, rather, remaining a reasonable distance to his side, close enough to keep the hungry hounds at his back at bay but also far enough that he was not crowding him.
"What happened?" He asked evenly.
"Yes, Sherlock, I gathered that. But who's bomb, was it yours?" He looked doubtful.
"No. Not mine." He wondered why Lestrade assumed it was his, why would he willingly put John and himself in certain peril like this? Lestrade clearly did not think very highly of him.
And then there was the chaos as the paramedics came rushing in. Arms laden with the necessary equipment and faces set in grim lines. Sherlock did not back off as Lestrade did, but remained stubbornly attached to John. They pulled at his arms, peeling his fingers away with a kind of desperation that he did not like to see. At last they'd untangled them, and lay John's limp body flat on the ground to access his injuries.
Someone shone a light in his eyes, temporarily blinding him to the sad sight of his friend until he swatted the hands away. Fingers gently washed the blood from his face and applied a bandage, telling him something…something…shouldn't he have been listening?
They were gone before he could ask them to repeat, so it slipped his mind and he found himself sinking lower and lower to the ground until, with a surprised little jerk, he found his cheek pressed to the cold tiles. He watched through heavy eyes as the paramedics worked efficiently, trying to keep his John alive. But there was so much blood, and his friend had not moved or spoken for the longest time.
Sherlock felt his head begin to thump, rhythmic in the way that a heartbeat is, and the next time he tried to blink, he could not open his eyes.
Hope you enjoyed!
- Alerix Slynn