He drops to his knees and doesn't care, doesn't care that the people who despise him most are watching, that Anderson and Sally who could be brilliant and Mycroft are here and staring at him like he's some kind of illusion of humanity. He still has the letter in his hand, unopened and it feels like the weight of the world. It is the weight of the world. Crimes are no fun if he can't tell John about them, John who smiles and asks questions when he can, and be it via email or Skype or those awfully formatted blueys. His cheeks are wet, tears, he thinks abstractly, all thoughts are abstract and there are cracks in the world, cracks and no light is getting through...
He's eighteen and it's his first term at Cambridge. He wanted to go early like Mycroft did to Oxford, but Mother said no. Something dull about social development. He's ambling along Petty Curry, and gets distracted by the man playing a lightning fast reel on the violin, opposite the entry to the Lion Yard shopping centre. It doesn't take him too long to figure out the patterns, and amuses himself by playing along on his leg, but a bar ahead of the music. He's only caught out once.
There is another older student leaning against one of the square columns. He's humming along, and isn't caught out when the music changes. Sherlock gives himself two minutes. Medical student, still pre clinical, though in his last year. Not local. Rugby, Left winger, because left handed. Good posture and the pin on his bag- army. Someone in the family? Familiar with violin and fiddle reels, so ancestry from the more Gaelic areas, Scotland, Ireland, Northumberland? Not Ireland, not now, with all the troubles, so Scotland or Northumberland. Maybe both.
"Sir?" one of the men in uniform before him is saying. "Sir?"
"Bart's?" He says. The sunlight is golden on John, John wrapped in the cheap white sheets that had been on sale in Robert Sayle's. "You've been accepted?"
"Yes" John says. They had felt decedent, having sex at four in the afternoon, but it was the only time that John had that he wasn't in lessons or lectures or had spent revising.
"So you're leaving."
"Yes" John says again, muted. "But I would be anyway. You know that. I've had this coming for a long time. Get away from Mum and Harry."
"And me." Sherlock rolls himself over, presents a long pale back to John. John has practiced anatomy on that back, named every rib, vertebrae and muscle, and whispered Latin names in darkness with teasing touches.
John curls himself around Sherlock. He may be smaller, but right now he can just envelope the taller man. "That is the one down side. But Bart's will be brilliant, and at the rate you're going you'll be done in half a year. Come and do your PhD in London. God knows UCL will be happy to have you, or Imperial."
Sherlock turns, keeps his eyes closed and blindly finds John's lips. "Very well" he grumbles, but a flit of excitement curls in his stomach. London is so big, and Cambridge, despite how many corners, is small.
Everything is so bright, and it's Sally's face that resolves itself into focus like the magnification on a microscope fixed just right. "Sherlock" she is saying, hand under his armpit and on the hand clutching the still unopened (doesn't need to be opened, it's obvious as to what it says and for the first time in his life he curses and curses his brain. Even when young, when he hated the influxes of information, he'd never cursed himself) letter. He drops his head to her shoulder and she takes it from his hand, opens it.
"Dear Mr Holmes" she reads. "We regret to inform you..."
Sherlock thinks that he keens, or groans in grief, but he's not sure. Not here, he doesn't want to be here and by sheer force of will sends himself back to...
"You will be careful" He demands. John is unbearably handsome in the uniform, hair bravery bright under the navy beret, the Rod of Asclepius pin silver above his eye. He has a duffle bag by his feet in the airport. They are surrounded by families with men and women in similar uniforms saying goodbye. John's mother and sister aren't here. John never mentions his mother, his father is dead and Harry is too busy with her latest girlfriend, a woman called Megan, to be here.
"Calm down Sherlock. I'm going to be just over three hundred miles away. Not like the time I went on that training exercise to Australia or the Falklands."
"You'll be away. That is the point." He straightens John's collar.
"For thirty days. Then I'll be back."
"Then you'll go away again."
"Sherlock, that's my job."
"I know." Sherlock pulls himself upright, makes his expression haughty just to see John smile.
"Don't you have that appointment with DI Gregson?"
"In two hours. I have time to see your plane off."
"You romantic sod." John smiles bashful, like he can't quite believe that he's worth the effort. Sometimes Sherlock just wants to put his hands around Ruth Watson's throat and squeeze. No matter the meaning of her name, that woman is anything but loving.
"Was it, or was it not you who organised the picnic on the roof of New Scotland Yard?"
"Ok, so we're both romantic sods. But I don't play especially composed love songs on the violin."
"Not love songs" Sherlock protests. "Experiments on the capture of human emotion in music."
"Meh. Tamato, tomato" John says, and shrugs and smiles at once. The final call for boarding comes, and John leans up for a quick, unnoticed kiss, and then turns and goes.
"That Captain Doctor John Watson, GC, of the RAMC attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers was..."
"John" Sherlock groans, like a dying breath, please let it be a dying breath. There is a hand on his shoulder, Lestrade, and everything is too much. He doesn't want to be here, with unimportant people and their unimportant crimes that are just a distraction for when John is not here. He wants to be with John wherever he is because John is the most important thing, damn the sun and the moon and the rest of the universe.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Sierra Leone.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Northern Ireland again.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Balkans.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Cyprus.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Iraq.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Afghanistan.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Afghanistan.
"You will be careful" Kiss, Afghanistan.
"I'm always careful Sherlock, you know me."
"Yes, that's why I worry."
"shot last Thursday while on patrol. He acquitted himself with bravery and honour and has saved many lives and limbs. The bullet..."
When John is on leave it's Sherlock's favourite time. He doesn't get much, highly skilled doctors and surgeons aren't in good supply and he's needed in many places at once. But when he gets leave he comes home, even if it is just for a few days and they throw themselves into the other, doing everything they possibly can in whatever space of time they have left. Sherlock drops the investigations and they fly. Sometimes they take cases for Mycroft. Sometimes they go to the cottage in Sussex that has been in the Holmes family for generations. Sometimes they go to Sandon Hall, and see Sherlock's mother, who treats John like another son, and John revels in the feeling of having an actual mother who says she's proud of him, and doesn't spit alcohol saturated breath in his face. Sometimes they make the necessary visits to Harry, and then to Harry and Clara and then to Harry and Clara's wedding.
"shattered his left clavicle and lodged in the scapula. Capt. Watson is unstable and will be transported to Selly Oak Hospital when it is safe to move him. Sherlock listen." Sally is insistent in the ocean grey surrounding him. "Safe to move him. Your John is alive."
A-L-I-V-E. Alive, adj, living, in existence. Synonyms: living, animate, breathing, in the land of the living, existing, functioning. Sherlock feels himself sagging in relief, accepting Mycroft's support. His heart, like John's is beating blood. His lungs, like John's are performing gaseous exchange, the processes of respiration taking place, inhalation and exhalation happening due to signals from the medulla, his body functioning, John's body functioning three and a half thousand miles away.
"The initial prognosis shows that Capt. Watson is likely to have nerve damage to the left arm, though this is to be confirmed."
"Take me to him" Sherlock demands, pulls himself to his feet. "Mycroft, take me to him." He has never been so close to begging his brother for anything. He know he must looks wild, eyes blown, tears drying on his cheeks in grief crusted trails. He does not care.
It is two months later. There is a woman lying dead on the floor in an alarming shade of pink. There is a message scratched into the floorboards. She's the fourth.
"Sir" Sally crackles through his radio. "Sherlock's back. And he's brought a friend. Bringing them in."
He goes downstairs and meets them in the lobby, catching Sergeant Donovan's grin over the pair's shoulders. The two men in front of him are mismatched. Tall and dark, short and blonde, pale and tan, civilian and military. They undeniably fit like the two lost pieces of a puzzle. They are right.
"Who's this?" He asks just to give Sherlock the opportunity to introduce them, even though he recognises the man from the photos that can sometimes be seen in the detritus that piles wherever Sherlock lives.
"He's with me" Sherlock is barely restrained.
"Dr John Watson." The man switched hands for the cane so he can hold out his right to shake, and he finds himself looking at the slight stiffness in his left shoulder and how he doesn't lean to hard on the cane using the left arm. Greg catches sight of the plain gold ring on his left hand and then sees an identical one glinting on Sherlock's left as he covers it with the disposable gloves.
Sometimes the Kink meme comes up with the best prompts. I've seen a couple of stories where Sherlock is suprised when John shows up at a crime scene, injured and back in London, but never one where he recives the news there. It caught me, and now, three or so hours later, here this is. Now I can get back to writing the even more angst filled looong oneshot that's been taking up all my non revision time. But now no more exams, so lots of writing time.
I know that John probably spent all five/six years of medical school at Bart's, or in one of the big millitary hospitals, but it works better if he spends his pre-clinical years at Cambridge for this story.