John Watson woke up with a headache. He had been laying down for too long on a pillow that was too hard. He looked around the room. Hospital. No clue how he got there. Wasn't the first time.
He looked at himself, at the same time trying to feel for any injuries. Nice to have morphine again; it made all those horrible little feelings of pain go away. He had a cast on his arm, and a white cotton bandage around his shoulder. A little banged up here and there, but otherwise all right.
"John?" said a familiar voice from the other side of the room. He looked over at the other hospital bed and set upon the prone figure there, nearly as white as the bed sheets.
Suddenly, with terrifying intensity, the memories came back to him. The explosion, Moriarty, Sherlock pointing a gun, the pool, the sudden rush of warmth as the building caught fire. John started to hyperventilate from the recall. A thousand blurred messages scrambled through his brain: have to get out, have to save Sherlock, have to swim, have to run, have to duck and cover, have to survive…
"John? Is that you? What the hell…" That voice anchored him, brought him back. John took deep breaths, trying to ground himself in his own body.
John looked over to the next bed. Sherlock's face was burned. Likely his forearms too, as they were covered up with bandages. But his face…Sherlock's unblemished face had been spoiled by angry red marks and swelling. Sherlock must have only recently woken, because he was moving about on his bed restlessly, and tentatively touching his face with his fingertips.
One of Sherlock's eyes (as the other one was swollen shut) fluttered open and he blinked several times. Then he gasped. "John! John! Doctor?" He began groping in the bed for the Nurse Call button.
Sherlock, it's all right, calm down John meant to say, only no words were forthcoming. John instinctively put a hand to his throat, wondering at the bizarre phenomenon. He tried forcing out a word, a syllable, any sound, but he was unable.
John saw that Sherlock was becoming more frantic so he slipped out of his own bed and padded over to Sherlock's. Unable to use his voice to console his friend, John reached out with his good hand and touched lightly on Sherlock's shoulder.
Sherlock gasped. "John?" he whispered. His voice was so unlike him, so fearful.
John took Sherlock's hand in his and gave it a squeeze. Sherlock brought his other hand to join and squeezed back.
"John, I can't see. I'm blind," Sherlock muttered. Soon the words were spilling out of him, toppling over one another. "I don't remember what happened…I can't think…I-I feel my face is burned, but I don't know why or how…"
John was cursing himself for being unable to say anything. Sherlock was panicking, getting lost within his thoughts. Sherlock… John clambered into the bed on Sherlock's side and held him as he degenerated to near hysterics.
"John, what happened?" Sherlock said somberly. "Please…just tell me if I'm going to be blind forever."
John wished that he could tell Sherlock that he didn't know, that he hoped everything would be all right and that Sherlock would be able to see and that he would be able to talk again…but he couldn't. He stroked Sherlock's arm lightly.
"John, say something," Sherlock demanded, his unseeing eye staring in the direction of John's face. "For God's sake…did someone die?"
Gingerly, John took Sherlock's hands and placed them on the side of his face while shaking his head.
"What…John, what's wrong?" Sherlock said quietly.
John put one of Sherlock's hands to his throat and swallowed impulsively.
"Your…throat. Your throat was injured?" Sherlock asked.
John nodded, as Sherlock's other hand was still in contact with John's face.
Sherlock stared into nothingness for a minute before he chuckled silently. "Well, aren't we a pair?" he muttered.
"Tell me if you see anything-a shape a movement, lights, colors-anything at all." John watched as Sherlock's doctor shined a penlight in front of Sherlock's face.
Sherlock barely contained his irritation. "I don't see anything, doctor, but I can smell your overpowering cologne. I think you should know that it does not, in fact, cover up the odor from the rancorous curry you had for lunch."
The doctor glanced at John, who shrugged. "Ah…yes, ok. Sorry about that, then, Mr. Holmes. Anyhow, I think the only logical course of action is to wait for the burns to heal and see what we've got to work with," the doctor said. "I know that isn't what you wanted to hear, but I have to be honest with you."
"Fine, sure," Sherlock spat, crossing his arms in a childish gesture. "What happened to John? Why can't he talk?"
The doctor went over to where John was perched on the side of his bed. "Yes…Dr. Watson, none of the scans we did at your intake showed any type of injury to your throat whatsoever. I'm going to schedule an evaluation with our primary psychiatrist."
John snarled his aversion. I'm not crazy, you git. Obviously there's a physical cause.
"Good afternoon Dr. Watson, Mr. Holmes," said the doctor, leaving the room.
They were released to go home the next day. Sherlock's doctor suggested that he hire a private nurse to help him adapt to his new sightless environment, but quickly withdrew the suggestion when he saw how close Sherlock was to throttling him.
John had been frustrated to receive a diagnosis of conversion disorder. Typical, he had thought. They can't explain what's happening, so they give me a diagnosis of an incurable psychological disease.
Sherlock was rapt to agree with the diagnosis, however, insisting that it only followed logically from the symptom and the circumstances of trauma. John could not even write out a retort to that, as Sherlock wouldn't have been able to read it.
Mrs. Hudson busied herself with cleaning the flat for them while they were in hospital, so when John and Sherlock arrived home, John gaped at the pristine floors and Sherlock maneuvered around nonexistent piles of stuff. John almost smiled at that.
The first thing Sherlock did was demand that John install JAWS on his computer, so that he'd be able to navigate it sightless. Then he'd demanded tea. John wanted to tell him off, but obviously couldn't. Luckily Mrs. Hudson tiptoed in and John scribbled out a note that said "Tea. For Sherlock."
"Do you want sugar, Sherlock?" she asked.
Sherlock sniffed. "Yes. Of course I do."
Meanwhile, John left to lie down in his bed and stare up at the ceiling.