If you were dying, if you were being murdered, in your last few seconds what would you say?
Please God, let me live.
Oh, use your imagination!
I don't have to.
There it was. The scuffling sound. Sherlock's fingers halted their caress of his violin bow as he listened closer, tilting an ear upwards slightly. This was routine now. Every night when the scuffling noises started, Sherlock would stop whatever he was doing and wait for a few moments. Sometimes that would be all there was to it.
But other times a pained, muffled voice would join the scuffling. If this went on for too long, Sherlock would carefully, silently, tread up the stairs to the door of John's bedroom. There he would wait, listening. Just making sure John was all right.
Soon the whimpering and the mumbling would stop. Usually it would just fade off into light snores. Every now and again Sherlock could hear a sharp gasp and that would end it. Either way, Sherlock would then saunter back down the stairs and resume whatever task he'd been occupied with.
So tonight Sherlock waited. Waited to hear just how bad John's nightmares were tonight. If John knew that Sherlock was so aware of his nightly plague he would probably not only be embarrassed but would tell the consulting detective off for being creepy. Sherlock didn't see it that way. All he wanted to know was that his friend was all right. He always was, yes. But Sherlock didn't want to miss the one time that John might not be quite okay.
There. That was the tenor of John's voice, slightly deepened by sleep. Sherlock set down the bow next to where the violin sat on the desk and tiptoed up the stairs. He placed his ear against the door and listened.
"P-please," came the voice through the door. "Oh, God, please..."
Something twisted tight in Sherlock's stomach. He was used to this sensation by now. He still didn't quite understand it, but it always happened whenever he stood here, listening to his friend in distress.
"Let... let me live..."
That caught Sherlock off guard. Never before had Sherlock realized that the particular dream John was having was about his near-death experience. He had always just assumed his nightmares consisted of just general horrible war. Sherlock pressed his ear harder against the wood.
"No... please... Please, God... Please God, let... let me live..." A sudden, loud cry rang through the air and Sherlock scrambled backwards away from the door, surprised. He collected himself quickly, staring at the door in shock. Never before had John yelled out like that.
Sherlock stood stock still, quite unsure of what to do next. There was only silence coming from John's bedroom now, meaning he was awake. That should mean that it was time for Sherlock to go back downstairs. John was all right. John was awake, which meant he was all right.
Except that hadn't sound like "all right".
Then Sherlock heard a hoarse sort of croak. A cough, clearing of the throat. Then:
The waver in John's voice pushed Sherlock through the bedroom door without hesitation. John had pulled his legs over the side of his bed and he sat on the edge, staring horrified into space. He looked up when the door opened in surprise.
"I didn't think..." He had to clear his throat again. "I didn't think you'd be able to hear me."
Sherlock paused briefly, thinking of how John was sure to react. "I was just outside, listening."
But John didn't react. He simply nodded his understanding and went back to staring into space. Sherlock rocked awkwardly on his heels. Obviously his friend needed comfort. But Sherlock had no idea how to give it.
A shuddering gasp escaped John's lips, piercing through the silence. He slid swiftly from sitting on the bed to kneeling on the floor, curling so his face was hidden as his body rocked with sudden sobs.
Sherlock didn't think. He didn't consider his options or wonder how John might take it; he simply took one long step closer to the army doctor, knelt down beside him, and scooped him into his arms, cradling him as he shushed him gently. And there he stayed until the sobs quieted away and the shaking stopped.
A/N: Part one of two. Second part will have John telling Sherlock what actually happened when he almost died.
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