The curtains were open when he slipped quietly into John's room, and the mingled colors of streetlight and starlight cast everything in a sickly green, even John's skin, which was so dangerously pale already. The light had leeched away all his color, leaving his hair silver, and his skin ashen. He looked dead, Sherlock thought blearily, the steady beep of the monitor above his head and the shallow rise of his chest the only indications otherwise, and despite the reassurance the thought turned him cold.
He staggered across the room, dragged a chair to John's bedside and curled himself into it, realizing he felt fragile as John looked. Breakable, skin like paper and just as white, and even with his too vast knowledge of drugs, recreational and otherwise, he wasn't quite sure what they'd put in his IV. He knew his edges felt fuzzy and soft, and all his woes were dulled to more distant and tolerable misery. Opiate, then.
He hadn't bothered with shoes when he had stolen out of his own room and down the hall, pulling his IV pole with him, and the tile floor was smooth and icy beneath his feet. It grounded him a bit, those cold little stabs of discomfort, because they were different from the various hurts in the rest of his body.
The very solid ache of a broken left arm, the dull throb of the gash at his temple left there by a bullet that, thanks to John, narrowly missed blowing out his brains. Different too from the distinct hurt of the bullet hole in his side, a through and through shot that unfortunately passed through him and hit John as John dove for him, pushing them both into the pool as the world went to pieces around them.
Insult to injury, he wouldn't have had it happen this way for anything in the world, because John was hurt. Shot and battered by falling debris, and he shouldn't have even been there. Sherlock had left him out of it on purpose, that foolish invitation that had nearly gotten them both killed. And yet, and yet, John had tried to save him. John had tried to save him and he couldn't figure out why.
Why had he seen fit to stay after all that had happened in just the first week they'd known one another? He certainly wasn't stupid, he'd proved that, and Sherlock didn't make himself particularly approachable, though he could when he wanted to, but John tolerated him. Tolerated all his whims, the general lack of tidiness to everything save his person or his experiments, his often vicious tongue, and his propensity for running them into danger again and again. John had chosen to be friend and defender and how on earth would Sherlock ever tell him just what he was getting into?
No, Sherlock thinks muzzily as he falls asleep, head on his arm at the side of John's bed. No, he thinks again as sleep rises up to take him, it's far too late for that.
John floated to half consciousness in the dark, wondering where Sherlock was and leaving behind horrific visions of bullets singing past his head and the entire world burning, and fell abruptly into the sort of dull pain that made a man nauseous, or potentially set him screaming.
He was cold, stiff and miserable, the IV needles pricking too deeply in the back of his right hand and the bandage around his broken ribs far too tight. As he began to take stock of all these myriad hurts, he realized the sole point of his person that didn't ache abominably was his right hand. It was comfortable, in fact, and it was warm.
'Warm?' he wondered distantly. What beside another shot of painkiller could possibly offer any comfort in this sterile and featureless room? In experimentation he moved his hand and the tips of his fingers found flesh, smooth and pliant, further exploration led them to sink into a mass of soft curling hair. Mustering a bit of his strength, he lifted his head to see, and through the lump that suddenly clogged his throat, he sighed.
There. Sherlock was there, had crept into his room and was asleep in a chair at his bedside, long legs tucked up impossibly beneath him, head down on his one folded arm, the other arm hidden in a sling. An IV pole stood at his side, he was wearing his favorite blue robe, and all John could think was 'Thank God!' with a wave of relief that made his heart twist in a not precisely painful way.
He tried to speak, to wake the man and ask him if he was alright, but couldn't, his mouth was dry as dust, so after a few fruitless whispers he gave up. Daring to push his fingers into the mess of curls, he marveled that so small a thing could give such comfort, and recalled his last thought as the bullets began to fly around them at the pool.
"Please God, let him live."
By some miracle he had, they both had, and John wondered who, besides God, they had to thank. Mycroft, Lestrade, both? That could wait for later, though, because he hurt and grateful as he was couldn't stay awake any longer. His other hand found the button for the morphine drip and he pressed it, feeling the pain fade and letting himself slip back down to the hopefully peaceful and painless blackness of sleep, now that he knew his friend was safe.
Safe, and he would keep him safe, for as long as he could.