A/N: Consider this your due warning that you are about to enter upon a(nother) hurt!Sherlock fic. At times it's also (I'm told) a doctor!John fic. Why? Because whump, that's why. Furthermore: yes, all of my chapters are named with overused Sherlock one-liners. And most of them have nothing to do with the story therein. So that's happening.
1. Not Good?
The last thing Greg Lestrade had said to him that day was, "You are not authorised to pursue suspects." It wasn't because Lestrade was particularly gifted with any sort of foresight or intuition or anything – actually it was a joke, sort of. Somebody made an offhanded comment about giving Sherlock a badge and letting him go and do all the arresting, and Lestrade wagged a finger at him. Jokingly. Laughingly. Sherlock had even smiled in response. Mirthlessly, perhaps, but still.
And then two hours later, found himself pursuing a suspect. Alone. Unarmed. Wasn't supposed to be a problem. Wasn't supposed to be a pursuit. Just a quick gathering of information, but their paths had crossed on an off-chance, and the suspect (murderer) had recognised Sherlock. Or thought he was the police. Of course he ran. Of course Sherlock chased him. Of course they reached a dead end, and of course the man pulled a gun.
And that's the short version of how I ended up here, Sherlock thinks to himself as he stares at the heavens. It's early evening, and the setting sun has dyed the sky pink, violet, orange. It's beautiful, and it burns Sherlock's eyes. He wonders fleetingly if the suspect's other six victims – all women – had done this same thing. Stared at the sky as they died, and noted how painfully bright it was.
Sherlock realises with some concern that no one knows where he is. He's utterly alone, abandoned in an alley behind a warehouse near… He isn't even sure. Can't get his bearings. Not with the sky so dazzlingly pink and orange and –
Must move. Must find help. Push up from ground, stand, find someone; anyone. Only his limbs aren't obeying him and he cannot do any of those things. He manages to bend a knee, but – oh, the pain. Of course, yes, that makes sense. Bullet in the belly. Pain in the core. Can't move much of anything without engaging abdominals, after all. No matter what he does, it's going to bloody hurt.
Knowing this should make it easier for him to resign himself to something – death from doing nothing or pain from trying to right the situation – but it does not. Both options look pretty uninviting. Sherlock assesses the situation.
It is a Wednesday. It is evening, probably seven-ish. The weather is mild. A beautiful day, John would call this. Pity, that. To die on a beautiful day.
Train of thought derailed completely. Where was he going with that? Oh yes, the situation. Tuesday, mild, seven-ish. Most people would be at dinner. The warehouses nearby would likely be abandoned, the workday over. Shouting, even if he could, would be no help. So that's out.
Mobile. Jacket pocket. Inside, left breast. Move. Sherlock grudgingly removes one hand from where he's applying pressure to the wound, and lifts it toward his chest. He notes with some displeasure that his hand his trembling as it disappears into his jacket for his phone. The seconds crawl by at an alarmingly slow pace. His slippery fingers fumble for a moment trying to reach the damned device, and a gurgling choke escapes his throat as he grows impatient.
Finally, finally, he's able to remove the thing from his pocket. It takes all the strength in his hand just to depress a couple buttons and unlock the keyguard. Not good, not good at all. His eyes swim, blinded by the violet sky, as he struggles to navigate the menu. Text messages. No, that's not what he wants. History. History. Where's the damn call history? Can't find it. Can't navigate out of text messages, can't see, can't press buttons. Click something. His clumsy fingers press the centre select key. Half accident. Doesn't matter. Speaker button. The phone clatters to the pavement and Sherlock can hear the line connect, and then ring. Ring and ring and ring.
"Donovan," comes the answer at last.
A string of expletives comes to mind. Of all people… Speak. Speak! Say something. I need help, Sally. Ambulance. Warehouses near Eleventh. Storage containers. Quick as you can, now. Bleeding to death, you see. Rather painful.
"Mmhp," is all that comes out.
Oh, for the love of all that is holy.
"What do you want, Freak?" Sally demands. "I can hear you breathing."
Then listen closely, thinks Sherlock, because surely his breathing doesn't sound like breathing at all. He closes his eyes, forces all his strength to his chest, to his diaphragm, and tries again. "Sally…" A word, at least, this time, but it's cut off by a gurgle, and then he's struggling for air. He turns his head – a tremendous effort – and vomits onto the pavement. There's blood in it. That can't be good.
"What the fu… Where are you?" Sally's voice has taken on an uncharacteristic pitch. Strange. Panic? Interesting. At least she seems to understand that Sherlock is in trouble. That is good. That is very, very good. Maybe.
The sky's unnatural violet hue is dizzying.
Perhaps that's the blood loss.
"…'Leventh…" Cough. The effort of that rips an involuntary cry of pain from Sherlock's throat, which peters out to a breathless snarl. Now if he could just devote the same amount of energy to speaking actual words. His tongue feels like it's made of cotton candy. No, that doesn't make sense. Cotton candy would just dissolve. Wool. Isn't that what people say when they're tongue-tied? Or is it cotton? Muslin, linen? Who knows? Does it matter? Sherlock Holmes doesn't get tongue-tied. "Ware… houses…"
In the background, he can hear Sally flipping through sheafs of paper. The case file. Smart girl. She's looking for a clue as to where he might have gone looking for information and run into trouble.
"Warehouses on Eleventh," she mutters under her breath. Lestrade must be there too; his voice is audible in the background, but Sherlock can't make out what he's saying.
It's taking Sally hours to figure this out. No, not hours, just seconds, but it feels like hours. God, it feels like days. Sherlock is tired, so very tired, and all he wants to do is close his eyes and sleep. His survival may depend on his staying conscious, but it's so hard to keep his eyes open when the lids feel so heavy.
"The storage," Sally breathes at last. "You went after him. The Freak went after Bruce Collins! He's at the storage!" This last to Lestrade, who swears. Someone (Lestrade? Donovan?) says something about John, and Sherlock's heart twists in a way he isn't expecting.
Sorry, John. He feels guilty. He had promised to buy milk while he was out. John is working. He won't even find out until later. There will be no milk for his tea, and his flatmate will be dead.
"Say something," demands Donovan now, but her voice has lost its edge. Actually, she sounds a little soggy.
"Mn." As good as it's going to get.
"We're phoning John, Sherlock. Stay with me. Talk."
With you? With you? Sherlock wonders. I'm not with you at all. I'm across London from you. How on earth… "Mn." He realises abruptly that she called him by name. He must sound awful, if she's that worried. He wonders what he sounds like. Is he crying? Moaning? Breath hitching in his throat as he struggles to breathe through the incredible agony of the bullet buried in his abdomen? He isn't sure.
"What's happened?" Donovan is asking.
That's important. Sherlock feels he should tell her. Someone should know. Someone should tell John, so he will know. "C-Collins," he chokes out. "Storage…"
"Near Eleventh. Yes. Was he there?"
"N-No… then yes…" That makes no sense. "Sh… Sho…" Choking again. Put pressure on the wound, don't be stupid. Take a breath. "Gun. He… had… a gun…"
Sally inhales sharply. Lestrade says something in the distance. Sally sounds very close to the receiver when she says, "He shot you. He shot you?" She must be relaying to someone else.
"Mn." His arms ache from trying to push the blood back into the hole in his stomach. He can feel it trickling through his fingers – why isn't gravity helping with any of this? Well, of course, because his heart is pumping the blood into the wound, and it's overspilling, and really it ought to remain in his veins where it belongs, but they're all torn up and unreliable. They end at his stomach. Useless veins. Stupid veins.
Sirens. Crunch of gravel as tires crash over a little-used pathway. People talking. Footsteps.
Sherlock doesn't even stay conscious long enough to be combative with the paramedics. He just fades.
Sorry, John. Sorry about the milk.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
He's swimming through a thick grey soup. Sherlock soup, with broth made of blood and bile. That makes no sense, a lot like cotton candy tongues. His eyelids are shot through with violet streaks all of a sudden. Sherlock realises he's trapped in the strange limbo between unconscious and conscious, with no clue how to get out. He hates it here. He struggles a little. One way or the other, he commands his brain. But pick a direction. Can't hang out in the intersection where it's soupy.
White light sears his eyelids which suddenly seem much too thin. Ohh, dear. Sherlock squints, forces his eyes open, and blinks rapidly. There is a dull ache in his low belly and he knows that he is awake. He knows that he is in hospital. Beep. Beep. Beep. Heart monitor. Increasing in tempo ever so slightly as he comes out of the drug-induced haze.
When the room finally comes into focus, Sherlock takes stock of the current situation. He feels as if he has been asleep for days. He feels as if his pain management regimen is certainly not up to par. He feels as if he ought to speak, if only to see if he's regained the ability to form sentences.
All that comes out is a groan; his throat is dry. Cotton candy again.
Something stirs on the bed by his hand. He turns his head and looks down and sees short blond hair by his fingers. The hair is attached to a head, which is attached to a body, which must be John's. He's seated, but draped over the bed, his face turned away as he snores gently. Sherlock lifts one finger to touch the soft golden locks.
John startles awake almost instantly, eyes settling quickly on Sherlock's face as he pulls himself upright. His gaze scans him rapidly. "How are you feeling?" he asks. He's wearing his doctor face.
Sherlock glances meaningfully at the pitcher of water on the counter over there. John is a bit slow upon waking, and follows the detective's gaze with a look of confusion. And then –
"Oh!" He moves to the counter, pours a glass, and brings it over, helping his flatmate to drink – "Slowly, Sherlock" – before setting it down and waiting expectantly.
"Thank you," Sherlock says, and his voice is reedy. There's a pause while he composes himself. "Surprised," he says at last.
John looks a bit lost for a moment, but Sherlock doesn't explain, and shortly he realises that this is the answer to his question. Surprised. Sherlock is feeling surprised.
"To be alive," clarifies the detective. His eyes slide shut.
"Do you remember what happened?" John questions, frowning.
"Right. You chased Bruce Collins into an alley alone. He pulled a gun on you. You nearly bled to death back there behind the storage."
"Did you tell Lestrade that I found – "
"He knows, Sherlock. Collins was arrested this morning. It's been two days."
A long pause, in which John does not further berate Sherlock for what he's done. No, he will want him to remember the lecture when he does give it, so he saves it for later. For now he's quietly grateful that Sherlock is alive and conscious and not… well, the alternative.
"Give me two more," Sherlock says tiredly, his head lolling a bit to one side. "Days, that is." He sighs.
John smiles. "Okay," he replies, with an awkward pat to Sherlock's hand. "But after that we all expect you to be chasing down the next criminal."