Author's note: I don't own, and do not profit from. I don't own the rights to iPhone's name, either, but since everyone uses them in the show, hey. Enjoy! (Yes, there will be more).
John Watson started at the vibration from his phone, then fished it out of his pocket, sliding open the home screen. A text message popped up instantly.
"On my way home. Got groceries. Forgot keys. Let me in."
He rolled his eyes but couldn't repress a smile. He tapped the reply button with his forefinger.
"Fine, but you owe me. Make it up to me tonight."
A moment's delay and another message appeared.
"I have some ideas about that. Caught a cab. 20 mins. SH."
John smiled to himself and shook his head. He set the phone aside and picked up the book he had been reading, then leaned back to turn on the lamp behind him. In late January, the days still vanished rapidly, and the light had been muted by the steady snowfall that was blanketing the country. He was glad he had left work early that day, because the streets were a nightmare, and parts of the Underground had been shut down that morning. As darkness fell and rush hour gripped the city, it was only going to get worse. He was surprised Sherlock had managed a cab.
After a few minutes, he got up and stretched his arms above him, then padded over to the window and pushed the curtain aside, gazing out into the growing dusk and the falling snow. The window's ledge outside was already deeply covered, and John watched more flakes settle peacefully on top of the small drift. It was a night in which it was easy to believe that the rest of the city didn't exist, that he was the only person looking into the darkness from his flat.
Sherlock generally insisted on keeping the curtains closed when he was at home, at least in the bedroom and often in the living room. He was convinced Mycroft's spies were watching them, which John knew was not likely to be paranoia. Occasionally, Sherlock got it in his head to sweep for bugs or cameras in the apartment, but John suspected his husband's brother wouldn't go that far.
With a twitch of the lips, he let the curtain fall back.
Sherlock's crowing, victorious laughter over the phone.
One of Mycroft's aids had run in, iPhone in hand, a startled look in her eye, to find John, one hand still in the air and Mycroft, staring, stunned at him. John had repressed a smile, slipping his hands back into his coat pocket.
"Sir, you need to see this," she said.
Mycroft held John's eyes a moment longer, then sighed, and turned.
"I think I've just been informed," he replied drily. He turned back. "How did you keep us from knowing?"
John shrugged, as if to say he didn't know, or wouldn't tell. A glint of frustration touched Mycroft's eyes.
"If you don't mind taking me home now," the doctor said levelly.
In the car, he checked his blog, which Sherlock had updated at 7:45 PM with the post John had written that morning. In it, a picture of them from the previous afternoon. Then he called home. Sherlock's laughter over the phone.
"That was glorious," John said.
"I wish you'd taken a picture," Sherlock replied.
Other pictures had been taken. John picked one up, the one that rested on the small round table beside the couch. It had been taken December 7th, immediately after the civil ceremony. Their witnesses had been strangers, civil servants who did this as part of their job. Sherlock had the same look of accomplishment that he did when solved a difficult case, and John had been laughing.
Mycroft had not been happy to find out a day late, left in the dark. Sherlock's parents were less than pleased as well, not about the marriage, but about not knowing. John had made Sherlock telephone them first, while he was meeting with Mycroft, before making the blog post.
"I'm happy for you," Harry said. "If I were there, I'd give you a kiss and a hug."
The reaction had surprised John. She sounded sincere, not at all hurt that she hadn't been included.
"Come visit us sometime soon. Please."
There was a smile in her voice when she replied. "I will."
He put the picture back down and flipped on the telly. It was local news hour across London and John wasn't surprised to see the story about a traffic accident.
"… Blaming the snow," the newscaster, bundled up in a burgundy coat and white scarf said to the camera. "No word yet-"
With a sigh, John turned it off.
"Those idiots need to learn how to drive," he muttered to himself. He picked up his book again and settled down on the couch to wait for the knock.
When it came, it was later than he'd expected and he rolled his eyes. But with the weather and the traffic accidents, it wasn't too surprising. He put the book aside and clattered down the steps, pulling the door open.
"You're late!" he announced, then stopped short. Detective Inspector Lestrade stood there, with a deputy behind him, somewhat startled by John's accusation, not meant for him. John felt his stomach plummet and gripped the doorframe. "Oh god. What happened."
"There was an accident."
"Oh, Lord," Lestrade whispered, one hand on his car door, snowing falling heedlessly on his face. The dusk was thickening, but the air was lit by the alternating pulses of lights from an ambulance. Distant screams told him more were on the way. They were matched by human screams. One ambulance was not enough. He could count at least four vehicles: two cabs, a car, and an overturned delivery truck. In the snow, boxes were scattered about, as if they were also victims.
Without thinking, he turned on the lights of his car and plunged into the scene. Dimly, he was aware of that he may be the first officer on the scene, and there was no one to ask what had happened. A woman was stumbling from the personal car and a paramedic ran up to her, trying to get her not to move. Another ambulance blared up behind the inspector and stopped, cutting its sirens, adding its lights to the chaos.
He ran toward the first cab and could see the driver was likely dead. The body of the car was crushed, the driver slumped over the steering wheel. In the back, a figure was pinned, covered in blood, but Lestrade thought he saw the passenger's chest rise. He struggled to the window as closely as he could and listened, blocking out the sounds of the panic around him. He could hear struggled breathing.
"Hey!" he shouted, straightening himself. "Hey! There's someone alive here!"
A team of paramedics ran toward him.
"In the back," the inspector said. "I can hear him breathing."
He stepped back away from the car, into a pool of light cast by the street lamps above, then stopped short.
"Oh my god," he breathed. One of the paramedics looked over his shoulder in alarm.
"I know that man."
Oh, god, oh, god, oh, god, it became a mantra, the only words John's mind could repeat. When he'd arrived, Sherlock was already in surgery, and the nurse giving him the news didn't care that he himself was a doctor. They were overworked already, and the pile up had made it worse.
He was confined to a waiting area, trying not to pace. Other family members or friends of the accident victims were there, on edge, waiting for some news. Lestrade had gone; he had been the first police officer on the scene, albeit unwittingly, and this required paperwork. John had wondered if he should call Harry, then Mycroft, but Mycroft had probably known before John had.
I don't want him here, the doctor thought.
When the television had begun showing a news report of the accident, they had all stopped and watched in mute horror. A delivery truck had lost control and crossed two oncoming lanes of traffic. The truck driver was dead. The driver of Sherlock's cab was dead.
Then one of the other family members, a gangly, angry-looking young man of seventeen or eighteen, had shut off the telly. The tense silence weighed down on the room and John found himself balling his hands into fists.
Someone else had just died. A wailing woman was comforted by another as the doctor gave her the news. John could only stare in dull horror. Would he be next? He didn't want this.
"Doctor Watson?" The words came hours later, but felt like ice water being poured over his head. He looked up to see a young woman of Indian descent looking at him with a smile. The bags under her eyes were evidence of her exhaustion, but somehow made her look younger. How old was she? John wondered inconsequentially. "I'm Palani Risha, Sherlock's surgeon. Come with me."
Numbly, John stood. She was smiling, he told himself. She led him from the waiting room, into a corridor that was really no less crowded.
"How is he?" John demanded, wondering he could stand the news either way.
"He survived the surgery and he's stabilized, but it will be touch and go until at least tomorrow morning."
She reached out to steady him, and dimly, John was surprised that someone so slight could be so strong.
"What happened?" John managed, his voice thick.
"He sustained some internal injuries and lost a lot of blood. There was some swelling in his occipital that we reduced immediately and it's been steady, but we need to keep a close eye on that. Right now, I'm hopeful, but the next twenty-four hours will be critical."
John nodded; he knew that.
"He also broke his left tibia and several ribs. We managed to repair all of the damage, but it's going to take a long time to recover. You need to know that."
John nodded again; he knew that, too. He had seen too many young men try to overcome this kind of thing quickly. There was no way around the time.
"Where is he?"
"He's in ICU now; we brought him out of recovery a few minutes ago. We're keeping him there for a least a day, maybe more, depending on how he does."
"Can I see him?"
Palani hesitated, then nodded.
"I think you should," she replied. "It would be good for him, too. He's unconscious, and I don't expect him to wake up at all tonight, but it helps." She paused again. "Doctor, have you ever treated a seriously injured person?"
"I used to be an army doctor. In Afghanistan."
Palani pursed her lips, but nodded.
"So you know. He doesn't look good, Doctor."
"Okay," John managed. The short few minutes of footage he'd seen from the accident scene on the television had more than fuelled his experienced imagination as to what the victims would look like.
"Come with me," Palani said gently. "I'll get a nurse to take you there."
It was like picking up something that looked heavy and was not. The brain had prepared for something, but not the right thing. John had to stop when he saw Sherlock and close his eyes. He hung on to the image of the man from that morning, dashing out the door.
This was not the same.
There was no surface on his face not black and blue or cut and stitched. Most of his head was obscured by bandages or the oxygen mask settled over his mouth and nose. His arms were a patchwork of IV needles, vital monitors, bandages, and stitches. For a moment, he thought that he'd been taken to the wrong person. But there was a gold-and-bronze ring sitting on the wheeling table next to the narrow bed, matching the one John wore.
"Are you all right?" the nurse asked.
John managed a nod somehow. She gave him a sympathetic look, then slipped out of the privacy curtain, into the deadened silence of the ICU ward. John managed to get a grip on the surroundings; Sherlock wasn't on a ventilator, which was good news. His heart rate was steady and slow and his blood pressure was decent, if a little on the low side. He was breathing in regular, deep breaths, without any sound of struggle or congestion.
It was like some grotesque joke.
John took one of Sherlock's hands, which was cool and unresponsive. He stared down at the now unfamiliar face, with its patchwork of swelling and bandages, and tried to see something he recognized. Both of Sherlock's eyes were black and swollen, and there was a vivid red gash framed with purple on his left cheek, running down almost to his lips.
John tried to find somewhere on that battered face to kiss and settled on very carefully on the forehead. He wasn't about to try and take the oxygen mask off for that. It looked painful to wear, despite the fact that Sherlock was unconscious.
John leaned down, conscious of the unnatural silence of the ICU unit. He could hear other monitors in the background, and the squeak of nurse's shoes against the floor walking past the curtain. He reminded himself that he had not been the woman in the waiting room. He was not family to the truck driver or the cabbie. At least Sherlock was still there.
"Sherlock, I'm here," he whispered. "I'm not going anywhere. And you're going to be all right." I can't do this without you! He wanted to scream. Instead, he touched the lock of hair that had escaped the head bandage, smoothing it between his fingers. "You'll be all right."