AN: Hello and welcome to number 4 of the second whump upload, number 9 overall. If you are enjoying the 'whumpage', it really does mean a lot if you'd please leave me a line of feedback!

Ok, this one is set between S2E2, Hound of the Baskerville, and S2E3 The Reichenbach Fall. It's in a sort of void space there, not doing much other than being at a convenient, non-important time for the fic.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Sherlock, in any respect. I do own my own original characters and ideas, so do not steal.



They were running. Again. John wasn't sure why this was something even worth remarking upon any more. He spent so much of his life running round London with Sherlock, he was fairly certain the Detective had single handedly halved his carbon footprint.

Barely making a corner, John threw himself into the alley Sherlock and their current quarry: a murderer, unoriginal but of particular interest to Sherlock for having gone after members of his Homeless Network. The alley was cramped, and the buildings on either side of it leaned together further up, cutting off the light and plunging all three of them into a rancid twilight. Squinting in the sudden dark, John came to a halt, trying to make out where Sherlock and their suspect had got to, hoping they weren't too far. He started to run again, skipping around an upended bin and a bicycle, and nearly crashed head first into his best friend, who looked royally ticked off.

John paused, taking in the image before him. Their murderer, filthy and mad as ever, currently had Sherlock's arm in a lock behind his back, and a dirty, wicked looking serrated knife at his throat. In his eagerness, he'd already started to cut, just a little, the blood looking startlingly red against the white of Sherlock's skin. Said Detective didn't seem to notice, or care that there was a knife at his throat. Instead, he gave John a look that said, get me out of here before I die of boredom.

John would have done exactly that, had not the murderer, who had until that moment been almost motionless in their little standoff, wrenched Sherlock's arm further than necessary to catch him off guard – John winced when he heard the unmistakable tearing of muscle – and plunged his knife into his side, straight through the wool coat and the sharp suit, and into his abdomen. Sherlock's mouth fell open, his eyes wide in an expression that might have been comical if John didn't feel like the world had just ground to a halt. Blood sprayed over the man – the murderer's – hand and he gave a grin with chipped, yellowing teeth.

"Tha' gave yer pause fer though', didn' i'?"

John wasn't really listening, instead he was thinking as fast as he could about how to kill this new enemy and get Sherlock out, safely, as soon as possible. Sherlock himself was apparently temporarily out of commission, sagging in the middle and taking sharp, shallow, breaths with his eyes half shut. John felt something hard twist his heart and gut at the sight. He'd decided his course, unaware of whether the attacker was still talking, and took a step forward.

Sherlock gave a shout of pain as the knife was twisted a vicious quarter circle in his side. More blood. John wasn't sure that he was breathing any more. And the murderer, the murderer actually laughed.

"Looks like I've go' meself a nice bi' o' leverage 'ere, eh lad?" He grinned, jerking the knife a little, and Sherlock gave a huff of breath in answer. John could feel anger rolling through him, gaining strength with each beat of his heart. This man, some petty, common criminal, he had no right to touch Sherlock. No right to exist, was what John thought for one frightening moment before fighting back the red mist. Losing control wouldn't help. He had to stay calm. His eyes glanced uncertainly over Sherlock's face, pale and sweaty with pain, he knife in his side now covered in blood, his doctor's mind worrying about infection and internal bleeding and organs rupturing…Calm. He needed to be calm.

"Yes. Ok. You win. Just let him go, alright? We can talk."

Their criminal's bushy eyebrows rose in his dark, grimy face, creasing his deep wrinkles even further, so it almost looked like his leathered skin was folding itself away. "C'mon, I'm no' tha' stupid. Maybe no Moriarty, bu' I've managed t' kill 6 people. Murder's 'arder than i' seems y'know. Nah, wha's gonna 'appen 'ere is tha' yer gonna give me th' name an' address o' th' pig whose leadin' th'investigation into me li'l hobby… an' then I'm gonna pay 'im a swee' li'l visi' an ge' you two off me tail, watch th' coppers run round in circles."

Icewater sank into John's stomach. Betray Lestrade? How could he? The murderer was watching him with his wet dark eyes. Another moment passed and he grinned, twisting the knife another quarter before John could stop him. Sherlock let out an indignant, exhausted moan of protest and pain, hissing in his breaths through clenched teeth.

"C'mon Doctor, I dun' 'ave all day y'know."

"Don't." Both John and the murderer stared at Sherlock, equal surprise on their expressions. Sherlock's chest heaved in a quick breath. "Don't – say – not – worth it." Exhausted, Sherlock slumped a little. John realized suddenly, wanting to bang his head against a wall, that Sherlock wasn't just in serious pain. The destruction the murderer had wreaked on the initial stab wound meant he was bleeding out astonishingly fast. He was dying. And damnit, instead of being the selfish, lazy, careless Sherlock John knew and loved, he had to pick today of all days to be noble. Which meant he thought this wound was as serious as John was beginning to suspect, possibly fatal. A nauseating wave of concern and grief and respect blurred through John's mind, seizing his heart, and he decided that if they survived this, he was going to kill Sherlock.

When he spoke, he did so quietly, wrestling assurance into his voice. "Sherlock, I'm not leaving you." Then to the murderer, " look, if you want this information fine, just stop hurting him. At this rate he's going to die of blood loss. You don't want that."

The murderer grinned. "Don't I? Way I see i', I'd be doin' th' criminal world a favor." As if to emphasise his point, he twisted the knife to three quarters of a circle. There wasn't enough blood to spurt any more, instead it just oozed wetly from the wound as Sherlock's muscles spasmed, and he let out a strangled whimper. John wasn't sure he'd ever hated anyone quite as much as he did that murderer when Sherlock made that sound.

He opened his mouth to try negotiating, hell, begging, anything to make this madman see reason, when suddenly he didn't have to. This was thanks to the happy bashing of a metal bin lid over the murderer's head. His eyes rolled up and crossed in what would have been an amusing expression in any other situation, and crumpled to the ground, releasing the knife and Sherlock's arm. John ran forwards to catch his friend, catching sight of a group of three people, raggedly dressed, dirty, quite young.

One of them, still holding his bin lid, stepped forwards with an expression of concern, focused on Sherlock. John stared at the wound, momentarily drawing a blank. Normally, he'd leave the knife in til they were in a hospital, but by now the wound was so wide it was hardly being 'plugged' by the blade anyway. He decided to compromise, ripping up his shirt and making an impromptu compress, pressing down hard and hoping to God it would slow the bleeding. He hated the idea of the knife still being inside his friend, what with its rust and its dirt, slowly poisoning what blood was left in him, but he was worried about the serrated edge, about causing more damage than good should he attempt to extricate it here.

"You, get my phone, it's in my pocket, and dial 999. Now."

The boy stared at him in frank amazement, while his two friends looked between Sherlock and he with evident concern and confusion. Slowly, the boy knelt, digging around in John's pocket and pulling out his expensive, blackberry mobile.

"S'a good piece of ki'. Sure you trus' me with i'?" The disbelief on his face was mirrored in his voice, clearly he was unsure how to proceed. John rolled his eyes, trying desperately not to give in to the panic rolling inside him, glancing down at Sherlock to see he was still conscious, but barely, and knowing even that was a miracle in itself.

"Look, you're part of Sherlock's homeless network yeah?" The boy nodded. "And you give a damn if he dies, right?" Another, enthusiastic nod, from him and his friends. At the back of his mind, John had a moment to be touched by their loyalty. "So call the bloody ambulance! He's bleeding to death. Look, if he trusts you I trust you, just do it. Please."

Resolve came onto the boy's face, and he dialed quickly, filling in the emergency services as fast as he could before hanging up. "They said they'll be 'ere as quick as they can. I reckon tha's abou' fifteen minutes. Can 'e hold ou' tha' long?"

John didn't know. He stared down at his friend, pale and sweating. He spoke gravely, partly to himself, partly to the kids, mostly for Sherlock. "He'll have to."

When Sherlock woke, he was in a hospital. This was obvious, first from the rhythmic beeping of his heart monitor, next from the hushed voices, the faint squeak that suggested clean, probably linoleum floors. Then the starched sheets, the bandages, the IV. Blinking himself awake, he surveyed the room before him with an expression of long-suffering impatience. "Dull."

John, who had been sitting next to him, eyes wide and cradling a polystyrene cup of instant tea that Sherlock knew from experience tasted like dishwater, sputtered a laugh. "Only you, Sherlock, would wake up from an emergency operation in which they had to break out the defibrillators twice, and pronounce your situation dull."

The consulting detective turned to John, raising one lazy eyebrow, voice low and thoughtful as he took in John's appearance anew – the unwashed hair, the rumpled clothes, the deep purple bags under his eyes, the exhaustion running through every line of his face. "It came that close?"

A ghost of horror passed over John's features, and he nodded, staring down at his cup. "Yes. God, yes, it did." He passed a hand over his tired features, and both of them ignored the faint tremor in it as he did so. After another moment, he leant forwards, and to Sherlock's surprise (surprise mostly at his utter lack of discomfort…) John took Sherlock's hand, squeezing it tightly, and saying, fervently. "Sherlock, I was so worried. Look, I just want, I need you to know that if it…If you'd…" He paused, choking a little, trying to regain his composure.

Sherlock pulled a face, giving his friend the mercy of looking away. "It's alright John. I know."

"You do?" The utter surprise in John's voice was almost enough to make Sherlock look back, but he wasn't quite sure what he'd have to face if he did, of his own feelings and John's. So instead he continued to trace the cracks in the roof of this floor, letting a small smirk come onto his face.

"It'd be one hell of an anti-climax to a life as remarkable as mine."

John choked on another laugh, and Sherlock laughed with him, ignoring the pain in his abdomen as best he could. He could have taken advantage of the moment, slipped his fingers out of John's without a pause or comment. But John wasn't letting go, and suddenly, Sherlock was determined not to either. Once they'd finished chuckling, John rubbed his eyes wearily, looking at his friend with an expression of exhausted, exasperated affection.

"You're ridiculous, you know that?"

"I'm sure, Doctor, that it's not exactly standard bedside manner to insult a patient." John gave a lopsided grin.

"Yeah but you're not my patient. I don't have to listen to the rules. Sort of." Sherlock raised an eyebrow at this rather lackluster come back, and John raised his free hand in surrender.

"Hey, go easy, I've not slept for," he checked his watch, "53 hours. I don't know how you do it."

Sherlock blinked in mild surprise. "Have I really been out that long?"

John nodded solemnly. "Yeah. Blimey, I've never seen Mycroft so worried." A scowl fell over Sherlock's features, and John resisted the urge to sigh. "Don't be like that, you owe him. You'd lost a little over 3 litres of blood, and I'm sure you know who donated the blood you needed."

"Why didn't I get your blood?" Sherlock sounded petulant, and John couldn't help feeling a rush of relieved amusement at seeing his flatmate back to his usual, childish self.

"Because I don't happen to be AB negative. As you should know, your blood type is actually very rare. It turns out Mycroft had his own store that he'd donated for you should a situation like this ever arise. You're lucky Sherlock, and you owe him. We both do." John had wanted to laugh and cry when he'd found out that Sherlock belonged to one of the rarest blood groups on the planet. Trust the man to be difficult down to a cellular level. He didn't think he'd ever been quite as relieved to see anyone as he had to see Mycroft when they'd taken Sherlock in on that first day.

"Why do you owe him?" Sherlock looked puzzled, and John sighed, softly, patiently, squeezing his friend's hand.

"Sherlock. Without you, my life would be hardly worth living. Mycroft saved both of us."

Sherlock said nothing, alert features uncharacteristically still. Then, wordlessly, he wound his fingers through John's, squeezing back.

Haha, bit of fluffy comfort there at the end, heavy allusion to Johnlock I know, but I couldn't resist. Besides, I wanted to be nice to Mr. Holmes, considering the angst-y whumpage coming up in my next fic in this series, 'Futility.'

Thankyou for reading, please do leave a line or two of feedback, I really appreciate it!