Title: What Wouldn't I Do For You?
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Word Count: 7782 Total – 3688 in this part
Warnings: A little violence and Sherlock in danger and some happy Sherlock/John-ness.
Spoilers: None really.
Summary: If Sherlock were in danger, what would John do to rescue him? And what does that say about John?
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)
Author's Notes: I just wrote a story called Who Else Would I Call? about Sherlock learning John's number by rote for use in an emergency. A line in that stuck with me, "And if I were to call and tell you I was trapped and bleeding, what would you do?" From that, we get this story. Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch for making this Sherlock so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Emma de los Nardos for the input. I appreciate it. Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me and her wonderful encouragement. And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. She practically co-wrote this one and pushed me to get it right. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
What Wouldn't I Do For You?
John yawns, looking up at the clock. He's still got two hours left on his shift, thought it already seems like he's been here forever. Today has been a steady stream of sniffles and rashes and John is ready to scream from the boredom. He looks down at the paperwork he's been filling out. He knows that they need to keep accurate records, but surely there must be a better way. He picks up his pen and is about to get back to it, when his phone rings. He pulls it from his pocket, smiling when he sees it's Sherlock.
"Okay, what did you set on fire now, you idiot?" John says by way of greeting. He expects some equally acerbic comment back and is surprised by a moment of silence.
"John?" Sherlock's voice sounds distant and there's an echo, like he's down a well. "John?"
"Sherlock? What's wrong?"
John isn't sure how he knows something is wrong. Maybe it's just the fact that Sherlock called instead of texting or maybe it's the lack of bantering. Later, John will decide there was something in Sherlock's voice that clued him in. For now though, John just knows there's a feeling in his stomach telling him that he should be worried.
If John hadn't been concerned before, this would have started him down that path. It takes quite a bit to shake Sherlock's command of the English language.
"Sherlock, where are you?"
"I don't…I think…under a building."
"You mean in a basement?"
"Not exactly. John?"
"I think I'm bleeding."
Alarm bells go off in John's head and apprehension gives way to full frontal panic.
"Sherlock, don't move. Where are you?"
"There was…" Sherlock doesn't seem to have heard John and he sounds slightly confused. "John, I think there was an explosion. It was very loud."
John feels his breath catch as everything Sherlock said earlier slots into place. Suddenly "under a building" takes on a whole new meaning and John closes his eyes to keep the terror at bay.
"Sherlock?" John speaks calmly, but firmly, hoping to break through what he now recognizes as shock. "Sherlock, I need you to listen, really listen to me."
"Where are you?" John slows it down, practically making each word its own sentence.
"In a room. I'm not…it's dark and stuffy."
"Yes, but where?" John struggles desperately not to yell. He knows that Sherlock must be disoriented, but it's taking everything he has not to snap at his friend.
"I don't…John, I don't know." There's an edge of panic to Sherlock's voice and John steps in to head it off.
"It's okay, Sherlock. We'll figure this out. You said you were bleeding. How bad is it?"
"My head. There's something wet and sticky on my forehead. I'm assuming it's blood."
"How badly is it bleeding?"
"I've had worse."
"Anything else? Broken bones or anything like that?"
"I don't think so. Nothing but my head really hurts."
"Okay. I need you to stay calm."
"John, I'm always calm."
"Right. What was I thinking?" John holds on to that little bit of normal, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. "I'm going to call Lestrade and then I'll call you right back."
John hangs up and pulls up Lestrade's number on his phone. He dimly notices that his hand is shaking as he presses the connect button. It rings three times but that feels like an eternity to John.
"Sherlock is in trouble."
Maybe some sort of preamble would have been a good idea, but Lestrade is able to roll with it.
"John, I don't have time for this."
"No, he's really in trouble. I don't know what happened, but…"
"John, as much as I want to help, you're going to have to call 999. I'm not even at my office. Everyone has been called in for an emergency. There's been an explosion at the St. Martin's Lane hotel."
It takes a minute for that to sink in, but when it does, John's heart starts to beat a bit faster. He can hear that the inspector is still talking, but he can't keep himself from interrupting.
"Lestrade, I think Sherlock is there."
"He called and told me he was under a building and that there had been an explosion. Unless you've had more than one this morning, he's got to be there. Are you on the scene?"
"I'm on my way. But John, as much as I want to help, Sherlock cannot take priority over everyone else."
"I understand," John says, nodding despite knowing that Lestrade can't see it. "But just…"
"I'll keep an eye out."
John hangs up and sits, thinking for a minute. He understands that Lestrade can't drop everything to help Sherlock and he really didn't expect him to. But John just can't leave Sherlock trapped and hope that someone finds him in all that mess. His decision made, John gets up and walks down the hall. He pokes his head into Sarah's office.
"I have to go. Sherlock's been hurt."
She looks up, frowning.
"Is he okay?"
"As he's trapped in the rubble of a building right now, I'm going to say no." John doesn't mean to snap at her, but his worry has been mounting and there just isn't anyone else to take it out on. "I'll call when I know anything."
He doesn't wait for an answer, running out of the surgery and hailing a cab. He gives the driver the address then settles back in the seat, pulling out his phone. He goes to his stored numbers and pulls up one that he's only had to use once. But this is an emergency, so he calls.
"Ah, John, how nice to hear from you."
"Mycroft, Sherlock's in trouble."
"When is my brother not in some sort of…situation? What is it this time?"
"He was at the St. Martin's Lane hotel when it exploded. Mycroft, he's stuck in the rubble."
There is silence on the other end and John has to admit there is just a bit of satisfaction in rendering Mycroft Holmes speechless. Mycroft clears his throat.
"Not that I doubt you, John, but how do you…"
"He called me. He's injured and trapped. I'm on my way to find him, but anything you can do would be appreciated."
"You're going to the hotel?" Mycroft sounds confused.
"The police have their hands full controlling the scene and helping survivors. They can't drop everything to look for Sherlock."
"So you are going to find him?"
"I can't just leave him there, Mycroft. He called me for help. How can I not respond?"
"Yes, I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything less from you, Doctor. Do be careful and I'll see what I can do to assist you."
"Thank you, Mycroft."
John hangs up and calls Sherlock back. It takes four rings for Sherlock to answer and by the time he does, John is convinced he's dead.
"I'm here, Sherlock." John closes his eyes, concentrating on Sherlock's voice.
"Did you talk to Lestrade?"
"I did. And he's on his way there. You were right. There was an explosion."
"I thought so. My ears are still ringing from it."
The cab comes to a stop and John looks out the window, seeing the street blocked off by emergency vehicles. He looks around, noting that he's only a couple of blocks from the hotel.
"Sherlock? Hold on a second." John leans over the seat, looking at the cab driver. "I'll walk from here."
He pays the driver and gets out, looking around. He sees yellow police tape blocking the street a few feet away and sighs. John really hopes Lestrade's name carries some weight. He walks over to the officer guarding the tape.
"I'm sorry, sir, but no one is allowed beyond this point."
John pulls out his medical identification from the surgery and holds it up.
"I'm here to meet DI Lestrade. I'm a doctor and he asked for my help."
It's not a complete lie, really; Lestrade asks for his help on a regular basis.
The man looks at the ID, then at John, who is struggling to keep his expression neutral. After a minute, he nods and holds the tape up for John.
"Thank you," John says as he ducks under.
John supposes that he would have gotten more scrutiny or that the officer would have worked harder to corroborate his story if half a building wasn't in smoking ruins a block or so away. He can see the destruction from here and it twists his stomach. Suddenly he remembers he has Sherlock on the phone.
"John. I was starting to think you'd forgotten about me."
"Not entirely. I had to get past the barricades."
"The police have closed down the entirety of St. Martin's lane."
"Wait. You're here?"
"Of course I am."
There is silence on the other end and John wonders if they've been cut off.
"John, I…I don't know what to say."
"Why don't you tell me what happened?" John says, trying to defuse the emotional tension he hears in Sherlock's voice. "Do you remember?"
"Bits and pieces," Sherlock says.
"Why were you at the hotel?"
"The hotel? Right! The St. Martin's Lane. There was a lecture I wanted to attend. Fascinating, really. Using florescent molecules to identify toxins in the body that couldn't have been detected before."
"So you went to the lecture?"
"And the luncheon afterwards. I wanted to talk to the men who made the discovery. You must see how this will impact our work."
"Yeah, I can. And I understand why you were there. But what about the explosion, Sherlock?"
"I…there was a man. He…there was something about him, something wrong. He went back to the kitchens and I followed him. I just wanted to talk to him, but when he saw me, he ran."
"And of course, you chased him."
"Well, I couldn't just let him get away, could I?"
John sees another barricade and holds up his medical ID. The officer waves him on and John is standing in front of the big glass building that now has a gaping hole. He walks towards the center of all the activity.
"Did you catch him?"
"I…yes, yes I did. He went into a storage room and I had him trapped. We…I think we fought. I remember punching him and I think he kicked me in the ribs. But then he ran out of the room."
"So you followed him?"
"I…I started to. He…I think he went out the back door. But as I ran after him…I…that must have been the explosion, because I just remember a loud noise and being knocked backwards."
"Okay, so you are somewhere back by the kitchens off the conference rooms?"
"I…I think so. That would make sense."
"Sherlock, I'm going to hang up and call Lestrade. Since we know where you are, maybe we can get some rescue workers to get you out."
"All right, John."
John dials Lestrade's number again and it's picked up on the third ring.
"It's John. Sherlock is at the back, over by the kitchens. Can you meet me there?"
"Meet you…John, what the hell?"
"You said the police were busy."
"So you came to find him? Are you crazy?"
"Probably. But I'm already here, so can you meet me at the kitchens?"
"John, that's the center of the explosion. All the rescue teams are in that area already."
John has been picking his way through debris on his way to the back of the hotel. As he gets around a large chunk of concrete, he stops, his eyes going wide. Lestrade wasn't kidding. There was damage at the front of the building, but here, back towards Bedfordbury Street, there are bigger piles of twisted metal and broken glass. It looks like it took a large chunk out of the Coliseum next door as well. There are people running everywhere and John sees that it looks like the floor of the hotel has caved in.
"God," John whispers, shaking his head.
"Seen it, have you?" Lestrade asks into his ear.
"I…yeah, I…" John is suddenly speechless at the idea that Sherlock is trapped somewhere in this mess.
"Where exactly are you?"
"I'm…probably about forty meters from Bedfordbury Street." There's a pause.
"Put your hand up," Lestrade says and John does. "There. I see you."
John turns around to see Lestrade walking towards him and he hangs up his phone.
"You do realize that you're breaking at least six laws by just being here, don't you?"
"I couldn't just…"
"Yeah, I know," Lestrade says, cutting him off. "Which is why I'm not sending you home. Come on. Stay with me, though. Where did you say Sherlock was?"
He turns and walks back towards the hotel and John falls into step next to him.
"He said he was following some man out the back kitchen doors when the explosion went off."
"That's not possible. We're pretty sure the bomb went off in the kitchen. If Sherlock was there, he wouldn't have survived."
John thinks, going over everything Sherlock said. His eyes go wide as he remembers back to the beginning of their conversation.
"He said he's in a room. It's dark and stuffy."
"A room? John, there aren't any rooms in the kitchen."
"But…" John pauses as something else Sherlock said ghosts through his head. He went into a storage room and I had him trapped. "That's it! He must have been blown back into the storage room."
John is scrambling for his phone. He dials and feels relief flood him when Sherlock answers.
"John?" His voice is quiet and it still has that echoing quality.
"I'm here. I've got Lestrade and we're pretty sure we know where you are."
"John, I'm getting dizzy."
John stops walking and Lestrade looks at him.
"Is it from blood loss? Sherlock is that cut on your head bleeding again?"
"I…I don't think so. John, it's getting harder to breathe."
Sherlock's words come back to John; dark and stuffy. The door to the room closed with the explosion. It's a storage room for food…it's…
"Oh, god, it's airtight," John says out loud and instantly regrets it.
"Ah. That explains quite a bit," Sherlock says, his voice just above a whisper.
"Don't panic," John says. "We know where you are and we're coming to get you. Hold on."
He hangs up the phone and looks at Lestrade, his eyes pleading and the two of them take off at a run.
"Do we have a map?" John asks. "Some way to tell where the room is?"
Lestrade leads John to a van parked on Bedfordbury Street. There's a table set up just to the side, a makeshift center of operations, with radios on chargers, water bottles, and flashlights. Lestrade picks up a paper, unfolding plans for the building. John moves to stand next to him, leaning over to look.
"Here's the kitchen," Lestrade says, pointing at a section of the plans. "This is a walk in refrigerator. I think this is the freezer."
"There," John says, relief flooding through him. "It's a concrete room labeled 'dry goods storage'. That has to be it."
Lestrade grabs a flashlight and hands another one to John. He walks over to the van and gets John a yellow visibility vest, like the one he's wearing, and pulls out two safety helmets. He hands one to John, who looks at it for a minute, then puts it on.
"The fire brigade has declared the building safe for search and rescue work, but watch your step." Lestrade says, looking intently at John. "If they radio me and tell me that we have to evacuate, I don't care how close you think we are; you will leave the building. I won't have you become a casualty trying to save Sherlock and I'll arrest you if I have to. Do you understand?"
John looks at Lestrade for a minute. He wants to tell him that there's no way he's letting Sherlock die, but he knows Lestrade is right. He knows from his military training that you don't take unacceptable risks, even to save one of your men. He also knows that Lestrade is taking a huge risk letting John be here and he can't abuse that trust. He doesn't like it, but he nods his agreement. Lestrade nods back and they take off towards the building. It takes them about twenty minutes to make it through the rubble to the remains of the kitchen, and John hears a clock ticking in his head. How much longer does Sherlock have?
They step into the kitchen and John stops, his breath caught in his lungs. There is a huge hole where half the room should be. He saw this kind of destruction in Afghanistan, but it's shocking to witness it in a domestic context. He's looking around, trying to adjust to it all, when Lestrade touches his arm. John turns to look at him, his brow furrowing when he sees the expression on Lestrade's face.
Lestrade turns and leads John back towards the storage area, but they don't get all the way in because that section of the building is just gone. John blinks, not understanding. His mind is spinning, trying to work out what he's seeing. It takes a minute, but then, like one of those optical illusions that you have to stare at, it all falls into place and he realizes that the floor has collapsed, taking the storage room with it. John's knees start to shake and he turns to look at Lestrade.
"But, how…did the room collapse?" John is staring at Lestrade. "But we know he's alive. So…could the whole room have just sunk down?"
"If the room was built around steel girders and sunk down without too much force, possibly."
"That has to be it," John says, nodding. "We've talked to him and the room is intact. What do we do now? We know he's still alive and he's short on air."
"I don't know. We'll have to get some rescue workers over here to dig him out."
"How long will that take?"
"I…There's no way to know."
"He doesn't have that long left," John says, fighting the urge to shake Lestrade. "The air in that room is running out."
"I'll go get people to help," Lestrade says, running off.
John stands, looking at the hole. He takes a deep breath and calls Sherlock.
"I'm here, Sherlock. I'm right above you."
"The room…it's…well, it collapsed down."
"Ah. That must have happened with the initial explosion. I was a bit disoriented at the beginning." Sherlock pauses for a minute. "If the room fell down, it must be buried now."
"A bit, yeah."
"So, you won't be able to get to me."
"Yes, Sherlock, we will. Lestrade is getting rescue workers and digging equipment and we are going to get you out."
"But, likely not before I run out of air." John wants to contradict him, he even takes a breath to do so, but he just can't bring himself to lie to Sherlock, so he says nothing. "It's okay, John. I know you tried. I can't believe you came all the way down here."
"It's for you. How could I do anything else?" John closes his eyes, fighting despair. He swallows hard. "And I'll be damned if I'm giving up now. I'm hanging up so you can conserve your air and I will get you out. Do you understand?"
"Yes, John." Sherlock's voice is quiet. "Thank you."
John hangs up, fighting the urge to scream. He hears a noise and turns to see Lestrade walking in with six other men. They have ropes, buckets, and shovels. Lestrade walks up to John.
"Did you talk to him?"
"He understands the situation and we hung up to conserve air." John looks at the men with Lestrade. "This is the best you could do? We need more men. He doesn't have that much time."
"John, I know you're worried, but remember there are other people trapped and injured as well. And these men are supposed to be on a break. They came to help dig instead."
John presses his lips together, feeling ashamed. He nods, turning to the men.
"Thank you. He's over this way."
They set up a relay system, four of them pulling out debris and buckets of dirt, handing them up to the others. John went down with the first shift, needing to be closer to Sherlock, to be doing something physical to get to him. But when he cut his hand on a piece of glass, Lestrade sent him up. Now he's standing, looking down the hole, waiting for the next bucket of dirt. He's not sure how long they've been at it; it feels like hours. Every now and then, he calls Sherlock, just to check on him and he's getting increasingly panicked by how listless Sherlock sounds.
"Where are we at?" John calls down the hole. He knows he must be driving the others crazy with how often he asks, but he just can't help it. "Have we gotten to the room yet?"
"No, John," Lestrade calls up. "We've hit a patch of metal and wires. It's slow going right now."
"Should I see if we can get more help?"
"It might not be a bad idea," Lestrade says. "More people would make this go faster."
John is turning to leave when he sees Sally Donavan walk in. She's covered in dirt and she looks exhausted. She's also being followed by a man wearing a uniform. She points at John.
"There he is," she says. "That's John Watson."
The man nods at her and walks over to John, standing at attention.
"Captain Watson, sir?" John blinks, nodding before he even realizes that he is. "I'm Lieutenant Mayfield. My men and I have been temporarily assigned to your command. What are your orders, sir?"