Sherlock has never met a man like John before. He has met doctors and he has met soldiers and he is fairly certain he has met an army doctor in some capacity before now. In everyday life, when he is not consumed by the work, they have either been irrelevant or dull to him. It is only when he finds himself facing them in a criminal context that he pays attention to them. A solider gone wrong is a terrible thing but a doctor gone criminal has the honour of being one of the very few things that truly make his blood run cold. It's the military efficiency and the keen intellect. Being on the same side as both of those qualities and working toward a common goal is interesting. Interesting and fascinating and neat.
John's therapist is an idiot. Everyone seems to know this, including John, but it is certain now. What PTSD sufferer would be able to live and work with him? What PTSD sufferer would be able to fire that shot and not be adversely affected afterwards? John clearly did not care that he'd killed a man. The fact that he wasn't a 'nice' man was a helpful justification but Sherlock is certain that John would not have hesitated one second more than he had tonight if the person had been an otherwise decent human being. A threat had been made, Hope's intent was certain, and John had neutralized him. End of discussion and no need for moral quandary.
There is so much he wants to ask John. So much he wants to find out about this fascinating man who is his flatmate and friend (because what are friends if not people who would kill for you, or at least that's what Sherlock has come to think). He waits until they're back in the flat (why are they here? Weren't they going for Chinese?) before he considers those questions and which to start with. John has instructed Sherlock to sit down in his chair and is making tea and what Sherlock suspects is toast. He's shrugging out of his coat when he spies the blood on it.
Blood is nothing new to Sherlock. Having blood sprayed on him is not even unusual. What is unusual about tonight is that the blood has been sprayed on him from a living person who had been shot before his eyes. A shot that very well could have hit him had anyone come by and stopped John or distracted him. Or if he had moved. Or if Hope had moved.
Sherlock is not typically fond of profanity. Or at least he hasn't been since he's been off the drugs. Nor is he prone to trembling. Despite this he finds himself shaking and muttering "oh fuck, fuck, jesus fucking...jesus..."
He'd watched a man die tonight. He'd also watched one man kill another man tonight. The murderer is here in his flat. The murderer is here in his flat and is making him tea and fucking toast.
What is happening here? What is happening here and what is happening to him? Or has happened already perhaps. The normal part of him is suggesting that he should be doing all kinds of notation and data analysis for his records. That he should be marking this and understanding what it happening. The majority of him, however, very much wants to run away and refuses to think of anything he normally would. He does not realise he has managed to wander to the door until he is trying, unsuccessfully, to open it. When he realises the door is locked he feels a blanket draped quietly over his shoulders. Firm hands rest on top of shoulders and blanket and spin him slowly around.
John holds him there. The grip is not tight but it is not loose enough that he can escape. This is far less soothing than it ought to be so he keeps shaking. Perhaps slightly harder than before but he is too busy fixing his gaze to the carpet and trying to even out his breathing to note the precise rate of change. He does know that if he keeps this up he is going to pass out.
"Sherlock, look at me."
The voice is gentle but commanding. He looks up and watches John purse his lips and breathe in. He holds it until Sherlock does the same and then releases the breath, slowly. Sherlock does the same. They breathe together like this, in and out through pursed lips slowly and deliberately, until John stops and Sherlock does it alone a few more times. His head is clear, he can breathe, and he is only shaking a little bit.
"Come." John lets go of his shoulders and takes one of his wrists. This grip is now loose enough to allow escape but Sherlock does not take advantage of it. "Have a sit and some tea."
Sherlock shuffles to his chair and sits down. He eagerly takes the warm mug from the table and John wraps the blanket more tightly around him. Instead of sitting across from him in his own chair, John settles on the floor by the fireplace. He takes his own mug with him on the way down, blows across it once, and then sips. To the untrained eye John is savouring the heat of the fire (Mrs. Hudson's doing certainly) and his tea (Earl Grey, black). Sherlock knows though, even without his keen eye and superior intellect, that John is watching him. Watching him to see him improve or deteriorate. If it were anyone else – and that would have included John a day or so ago – Sherlock would have barked at him the same way he had barked at Lestrade about the blanket and the concern.
He knows not to insult John's intelligence that way. Especially not after what he has done for him tonight.
"I think I'm alright now," he says after he's eaten his half of the toast. He offers the rest to John, who has been abstaining.
John's voice says 'I'll be the judge of that' but his eyes and manner agree with him. He eats a piece of toast, sighs and says. "I'm not going to apologize for what I did and I'm not going to promise that I won't do it again. If I see something like that again I will act on it unless otherwise ordered."
Ordered. Odd choice of word. Well, Sherlock allows, it really isn't. He doesn't usually make requests of anyone now does he? "I'm hardly going to ask you to not save me." It's an attempt at a scoff but it comes out mumbled. John seems to understand it though. "Thank you for the warning though."
John nods. He has questions, Sherlock knows. Questions about his health as well as his experience. He certainly knows the answers but he wants to hear them from Sherlock's own lips. It's a feeling that Sherlock can sympathise with so Sherlock asks first.
"Have you always been that good a shot?"
John laughs. It's quiet and unintentional so he tries to suppress it. He mercifully gives up with a shake of his head. "Family legend is I chucked a toy at Harry once I was old enough to sit up because she was playing peek a boo. Hit her right between the eyes." He chuckles again. "Everyone thought it was just luck until it happened a few more times – different objects but it was the same peek a boo game that set me off each time."
He spins a few more tales. The best ones are about the terror he'd been as a child to anyone acting untoward (he wasn't a nice man). They make even Sherlock laugh. The image of a miniature John fighting injustice with a tricycle, a slingshot, and some marbles is too much but simply perfect all the same. It is an amusing story but it also is one meant to inspire safety. It's meant to tell Sherlock that John may kill bad men when the time calls for it but that he is not one of them. He's on the side of light and truth but deception and dark are not unknown to him. He knows how to use them just as well as Sherlock does.
Eventually John asks a few questions of his own and Sherlock, tea and blanket long finished with, obliges.
When John calls this case A Study in Pink on his blog Sherlock almost asks him to rename it a study in something else entirely. That being said he likes the proper conclusion to that case being just between them.