Sherlock distinctly remembers a slight smile on John's face just as he pulled the trigger;the short man had pulled himself to his feet and managed to control his breathing, and just at the corners of his mouth, his lips were turned up and Sherlock could just see the slight shine in his eyes. John's smile is the last thing he fully remembers before the explosion; after that he can recall darkness and water stinging his eyes and then a burst of pain. After that, there is nothing, at least, not until now.
"It's been three days…" A worried voice suddenly says above him, one he attributes to Mrs Hudson, who in his mind's eye is wringing her hands and looking concerned like she does whenever Sherlock gets in trouble.
"It's perfectly natural he'll need longer than that; head wounds are very dangerous, his body needs time to heal." The second voice jumps out from the darkness, and he hears the door open and close, understanding the man has left.
Ah. He realises why Mrs Hudson is watching him now.
Sherlock knows he is in a hospital bed. There is the obvious sound of the heart monitor beeping away in the back ground, but he could easily tell by the scratchy sheets on his skin and the strong scent of disinfectant that clings to everything within the room. With his eyes open, he would be able to tell so much more, but his eyes are refusing to obey him, in fact all of his limbs are refusing to move when told, and suddenly it clicks. Sherlock realises he is in a coma. Perfectly normal considering the explosion he and John had been involved in. He knows the roof of the swimming pool collapsed; he can remember debris falling on him and assumes his body is keeping him in stasis until he is ready to face the real world. His wounds must be something; he and John will be able to compare battle scars when he awakens.
He thinks of John, wonders whether he is lying on a bed just like his with his eyes shut. He wonders if John is as lucid as he is, or whether he's reliving Afghanistan all over again, stuck in a constant cycle of gunfire and blood. He recognises a dull ache in his chest which he realises is akin to sympathy. Sherlock has seen horrific things, but he's never witnessed someone be blown apart by an IED, nor has he had to treat a dying soldier who may be no older than 19, he doesn't understand John's pain, but he certainly wants to help it.
"I understand your concern Mrs Hudson, but really, Mr Holmes has been very lucky."
"He isn't." Mrs Hudson whispers, and suddenly Sherlock is filled with sudden panic. He's alive, surely that counts as lucky…He can hear quiet sobs coming from Mrs Hudson and his heart becomes lodged in his throat. Surely, she can't mean John…The image of John's half smile reappears in his mind and he wishes he could speak, could get reassurance…
The door opens, and Sherlock can hear heavier footsteps, most likely belonging to another doctor, a man perhaps. The click of the heels on the floor tells him it is Mycroft, for he always wears heeled shoes to make him seem taller. Doctors would wear trainers, or something similar so as to make it easy to stay on their feet all day.
"Mrs Hudson, it's good to see you again."
"Oh, hello Mycroft dear. No change I'm afraid."
"Yes, I thought as much. I was just having a quick chat with the girl down in the morgue, Molly I believe her name was. She seems quite distraught about the whole thing. Apparently she knows both Sherlock and John."
Thoughts jumble in Sherlock's head. Molly. Morgue. Death. Why would Mycroft even be down there unless he was looking at a body? Again a sense of unease about John, whether he survived, whether he was okay.
"I saw his sister earlier, quite beside herself. Poor dear." Mrs Hudson said muffled slightly by what Sherlock assumed was a handkerchief.
Harry, the alcoholic sister, estranged from John, he disapproves of her, recently left her partner Clara, gave John her phone. He lists the information pointlessly. It doesn't tell him anything he doesn't already know.
"Did you hear anything about his surgery?" Mrs Hudson asks timidly.
There is silence, and Sherlock waits for his brother to say something, anything reassuring.
"Complications apparently." The voice is devoid of remorse, and Sherlock's heart sinks further. He feels a hand on his forehead and his hair is ruffled gently,
"I do wish Sherlock had come to me instead. He never seems to understand how much I worry. I'll see you tomorrow Mrs Hudson, be sure to go home and get some rest. There's not much else you can do here."
The door swooshes once again, half an hour later Mrs Hudson follows him out the room, leaving him behind with only the sound of the heart monitor for company. He drifts; believing himself to actually be asleep this time round for his mind is wonderfully empty of thoughts. He comes round again, still unable to open his eyes to the dreaded sentence of,
"When's the funeral?" It's Lestrade's voice this time, and he sounds broken down, defeated.
"Tuesday. Let's hope the freak wakes up in time." Sergeant Donovan this time round, her voice still sharp even in such a situation. Lestrade sighs heavily,
"Play nice Sally, he doesn't deserve that right now."
Sherlock listens for more of a conversation, but there isn't one, there is only someone holding his hand, probably assuming it will help him wake up. He wants more information, he wants them to say that it isn't John's funeral that they're going to, he wants them to tell him they're kidding, they're only saying this to get him to wake up. But there is only silence.
He drifts again, grief heavy on his chest and unshed tears stuck in his throat. He's never known guilt before, but something inside him keeps reminding him that John's dead and it's all his fault, and it feels an awful lot like guilt would. He wakes up to a cheerful voice rambling on and on about something unimportant.
"Mrs Hudson says that she'll let us off the rent this month, not that you'd be of much use anyway, you didn't get milk or beans. I checked. S'pose you were busy chatting with an evil criminal mastermind, but really, I'd like to see you face those machines at the supermarket, they're a bloody nightmare – "
The voice continues, and it sounds like John. But Sherlock knows John is dead, and clearly, this is just his subconscious creating illusions to help him grieve.
"You really do need to wake up you know Sherlock; they're worried you've developed brain damage. You could be as stupid as me for all we know. What a horror that would be." The voice that sounds like John chuckles and Sherlock wants to shut down and make his own brain stop taunting him. It hurts too much to listen to the voice when he knows it's not really there, it's not really John in one of his ridiculous jumpers chatting about anything and everything because he knows that Sherlock has nothing better to do than listen.
He shuts it out, listening only to the sound of the heart monitor beeping away at regular intervals. A warm hand is now on his and he commends his brain for the realistic quality of this hallucination. John's face flashes in his mind again and he tries to take hold of the hand which has curled itself round his fingers in a one-sided attempt at hand holding. Sherlock wants to wake up, he wants to move. Slowly but surely, he curls his hand just slightly, a gentle twitch. Sudden, but definitely there.
"Sherlock…?" The man who is not John jumps up and calls for the nurse, gabbling about twitching and pulling away from Sherlock's hand. Disconcerted, Sherlock blearily opens one eye, eager to snap at the person to come back. Eager to find the man who is not John and just pretend for a while. He shields his eyes from the harsh hospital light with his arm, accidentally tagging on the drip in his hand, but ignoring the pain and instead searching for John, real or otherwise. His eyes adjust and in front of him, grinning stupidly, in a ridiculous brown knitted jumper is John. Real, tangible, alive John.
Sherlock smiles, widely, with the smile actually reaching his eyes and John knows he isn't faking the smile, that he is genuinely happy to see him.
"Hello Sherlock, did you miss me?" John asks simply, his face split wide with the smile.
Oh god, yes.
John has noticed Sherlock has become far more touchy feely after he woke up from the coma; he'd actually hugged John tightly after he'd woken up, and he had sworn he could've felt tears on his neck where Sherlock had buried his head but when he leaned back the man's face was clear and there were no signs he had been crying. Later that week, after Sherlock had proven he had no specific brain damage and that he chose to remain ignorant of the country's political status – No, he hadn't forgotten who the prime minister was - they had been released and Sherlock had sat very close to John in the cab on the way home, their knees touching and Sherlock brushing one finger along the edge of John's leg, seemingly using it to prove he was still there.
He briefly wondered whether the coma had changed Sherlock, made him slightly different, slightly more human but after a brief visit from Mycroft which proved him wrong. It had ended with Sherlock grabbing John and pulling him out the door to have lunch at Angelo's because Mycroft wanted Sherlock's help with yet another case, holding his hand all the way through the journey there and deliberately brushing his fingers with John's when he asked him to pass the pepper across the table; John realised that Sherlock had only changed his attitude to John and not anyone else.
At the funeral of Moriarty's last victim, something Lestrade has insisted on Sherlock going to as some form of closure, Sherlock had stood extremely close to John and stared at the empty coffin unseeingly as it was lowered into the ground, clutching John's arm and not letting go when they threw the dirt on top of the glossy wood and finally blocked it from view. Sherlock imagined the funeral differently, with John in the coffin and Sherlock alone on the damp grass above, and clutched John even tighter, refusing to let go until John couldn't feel his arm anymore. The guilty feeling and the weight on his chest were persisting; he still couldn't believe John was with him. Sherlock had never lost something he'd been so close to, and being faced with someone he cared about almost dying had affected him more than he thought anything ever would.
John didn't confront him about it until a week after Sherlock had woken up, when they had both been invited for dinner with Harry. John had spent a large amount of time with her when he'd had been hospitalised with concussion, several broken ribs and a nearly infected leg wound from a metal strut embedded in his leg and Harry was insistent on keeping up with John and making sure he healed. Sherlock had decided to bring a bottle of wine, even though John had suggested otherwise, but miraculously Harry had kept away from the bottle and drunk only water for the entire night.
"I'm glad John's found someone, he's awfully angsty when he's on his own…I was terribly worried he'd die alone with some weird pet for company. A snake maybe." She said, wistfully, her face clear and her eyes faraway, remembering Clara when they had been in love.
"Harry." John said in a warning tone, "Sherlock and I are just friends."
"Well, if you say so." She said sceptically, "You nearly got shot for him, and after you were out of surgery, you refused to stay in bed and spent quite a while talking to him whilst he was in his coma." She said smugly, as if she had proven her point.
"Just friends." John ground out, ignoring the stupid smile on his sister's face as if she knew better. Sherlock, who by now was feeling rather put out at John's adamant attitude that he and Sherlock were and would only ever be friends, nothing more, remained silent and sulked quietly for the remainder of the evening.
As they said goodbye to Harry, and John promised to call and see her again soon, Sherlock aimed to confront John. Harry winked at him before he left whilst John had gone to go get his coat from the cloakroom,
"I've seen the way you look at him. I know he likes you, you can tell. So go get him," She said with the mischievous smile wider but her voice sincere as she grasps Sherlock's hand, "Or someone else will. If there's anything I've learnt about losing Clara, which was entirely my fault, it's that I lost out on something wonderful. Don't make my mistakes." She held Sherlock's gaze and Sherlock nodded.
Sherlock heeds Harry's warning, saying goodbye then grabbing John and pulling him out into the March wind, holding onto John's hand tightly.
"Listen, Sherlock…this hand holding thing. Not that I mind it, but where's it come from all of a sudden?" John asked curiously, his hand warm in Sherlock's gloved one if a little squashed. Sherlock squirmed slightly, a little uncomfortable aware that John may dismiss his reason as silly and Sherlock hated to be ridiculed.
"You were dead." He said simply, and John's brow furrowed further.
"Not as far as I remember…" John said unsurely looking at Sherlock's eyes to check for any signs of dilation. Was Sherlock concussed?
"When I was in the coma, Lestrade mentioned a funeral and Mrs Hudson was crying, they said your surgery had complications, apparently Harry was distraught…I thought you were dead."
"Well…I'm not." John says plaintively.
"In my mind you were, I thought you were gone….I thought you'd died and it was my fault because I got you stupidly involved and I care about you and…it hurt. I hardly ever make assumptions, and now I know why." This realisation is a revelation to both of them, Sherlock hadn't realised how much it had hurt him to think that John might've actually been dead. John chuckled quietly, pulling Sherlock closer and stopping to face him. He curled his hand tightly around Sherlock's and pressed a chaste kiss on Sherlock's lips. "I'm not going anywhere, you idiot." John said plaintively. "No amount of gun wielding psychopaths are going to make me leave." Sherlock smiled widely as the weight on his chest lessened and he looked at John.
"I'd hope not. You'd be ever so bored."
"I suppose I'll just have to stick with you to keep me entertained then."
Found this on my dA account. Forgot about it completely. Tweaked it and decided to upload. Written for this prompt:
Sherlock shoots the bomb, the explosion happens. John is injured, but not severely, but it puts Sherlock into a coma for a few days. While he's in a coma, based on what he hears people talking about around him, he incorrectly deduces that John is dead.
When he wakes up, however, to his great joy he discovers John is very much alive. Sherlock spends the next few days having to constantly reassure himself in various ways that John is actually alive, not only at the flat, but at crime scenes, at dinner, in front of Harry and Mycroft, etc