A/N: Warnings for some images of graphic violence and angst. someone teach me how to not write angst so I don't die young from feelings.
Come Morning Light
I remember tears streaming down your face
When I said, "I'll never let you go"
When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said, "Don't leave me here alone"
But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You'll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I'll be safe and sound
-Taylor Swift, "Safe and Sound"
He was too late.
Each step Sherlock took as he tore down the sidewalk was agonizing, each step measuring a second he could not be wasting.
He was too late.
He gritted his teeth, forcing himself to continue on. Down the darkened streets of London, in what he could only hope was the direction of the scream.
He was too late!
Sherlock hated himself for suggesting the two of them split to cover more ground. He should not have left. They should have stayed together, to face whatever danger they were pursuing together. But because Sherlock could not change the past, here he was alone. Running as fast as he could.
He could hear sirens in the far off distance, from behind him. They were too late as well. The distress call had reached them just a second too late. Just as the scream had registered in Sherlock's system one second too late.
Sherlock pressed on, his chest constricting in pain but he refused to feel it. He couldn't stop. Despite his heaving breath and burning calves, he could not afford to stop.
When we catch this bastard, I'll kill him. The thought sent a shaking bought of rage through Sherlock's body, a burst of adrenaline that forced him to run faster. It also helped to think of the "we." Not the "I." Because Sherlock hadn't lost him yet. He had to think he hadn't lost him yet. It could be a minor wound. Treatable. Sherlock was not alone yet.
He remembered the scream while he pushed on. A scream he had rarely heard from this man's mouth. A scream of outright agony – a scream desperate for help. A scream that, though Sherlock was not familiar with it, rang with such a familiarity that Sherlock stopped dead, turned on his heel, and ran.
Naturally the first thing he'd done in the first few blocks was phone 9-9-9, and Lestrade. But they were still blocks and blocks behind him. It would be Sherlock who reached him first. In fact, it had to be Sherlock who reached him first.
Sherlock's thoughts were cut off abruptly, in the split second it took him to round a street corner and see a man standing over a crumpled figure on the pavement. The attacker did not have time to even turn before Sherlock had shot him in the neck, causing him to slump to the ground in a pool of his own – and the crumpled figure's – blood.
Sherlock was knelt down beside him a fraction of a second after the attacker fell. He was lying on his side, convulsing in pain while blood pooled from the deep, slicing cut in his stomach. Sherlock deduced it was some sort of knife. He realized for once he had no urge to check the culprit's body for the evidence of this fact.
Sherlock slowly put his arms around the man and turned him onto his back. Dark eyes slowly fluttered open to transfix themselves on Sherlock's face. His face was flecked with dirt, his blonde hair sopping with sweat and blood.
"Sherlock," he whispered, a ghost of a smile lighting his face.
"John." Sherlock's hands were mechanically moving to John's wound, applying pressure, almost innately trying to stop the blood. "John, I'm –"
"Late?" John finished for him, smiling. Sherlock scowled at him.
"Not really an appropriate time for jokes, John. Aren't we at a crime scene?" Sherlock's hands were steadily becoming dark red, but he didn't stop. He vaguely wondered if this desperate attempt to do something wasn't to keep him from losing control. He'd never seen so much blood. So much of John's blood, more specifically. He'd dealt with blood before. Gallons of it. But this was sickening, to watch his John's life spill out of him onto the pavement.
"What are you doing, anyway?" John asked curiously, attempting to lean forward. He stopped in a second, however, his entire body convulsing in pain.
With a powerful hand, Sherlock forced him down again.
"Don't move; you'll make it worse," he instructed, swallowing thickly. "Lestrade is going to be here soon, with an EMT."
"It's bad, isn't it? Hurt like hell, that did." John's voice was casual, and Sherlock swallowed again.
"I'd imagine getting swiped with a knife hurts a bit," he agreed, trying to sound sarcastic but it came out flat.
John stayed still for a moment before attempting to sit up again. Sherlock shot him a scathing look to hide the terror as the movement caused more blood to pour from John's wound.
"I thought I told you-"
"Blimey, that is bad, isn't it?" John interrupted again, wincing as he looked down at the wound in his stomach. "Deep too…."
"You're just losing a lot of blood, that's all. You'll be fine." Sherlock took his hands away from the wound, horrified to see the bleeding hasn't ceased. And for the first time, he became aware of how deep the knife had cut. It was like a gaping canyon, dark with clotted blood, but it was obvious to Sherlock the knife had struck something vital.
Where's that bloody ambulance?
"You'll be fine, John. You'll get help soon," Sherlock said, his voice trembling only slightly as he pressed his hands back to the gaping wound.
A hand slowly took Sherlock's wrist, prying it away from the wound. Startled, Sherlock looked over at John, who was still smiling, though his eyes had dulled.
"You don't believe that, do you?" John murmured. "Stop. Please."
There was no way Sherlock was going to listen. He attempted to wretch his hand free of John's grasp, to continue applying pressure, but John did not relent.
"Sherlock. Please." John's soft eyes dimmed with pleading, and it was this, and only this, that made Sherlock's body loosen and begin to shake.
"John, don't do this. You'll be fine. I promise you'll-"
"Don't lie to me, Sherlock….just….just don't lie to me." John shuddered again, closing his eyes for a moment before reopening them. "You're brighter than that."
"I'm not lying. You're going to be fine. It's just a cut." Sherlock wasn't sure why he was saying this. It wasn't like him to beat around the truth for injury's sake. Maybe it wasn't John he was trying to convince.
"You know that's not true. You know, I know, what is going to happen, Sherlock." John smiled a trembling smile, a single tear falling down his pale cheek. "I'm not afraid."
Sherlock felt his windpipe closing, his air choking off.
"Just….just don't leave me," John whispered, and, like glass Sherlock shattered, forgetting his pride and inhibitions and taking John in his arms, holding his head against his chest.
"I'll never….not – not again," Sherlock promised, his voice strained and his body shaking. "Just….hold on. You're – I won't let you give up."
John did not respond, and Sherlock was starting to count his breaths. Each one was farther apart than the last.
"Just breathe. Stay here. Don't leave me." The last three words had been completely involuntary, but somehow Sherlock spoke them.
"I really am not afraid, Sherlock…." John said weakly. Another shudder, and Sherlock held him closer, looking up only for a brief moment to listen for sirens. He could hear them getting closer. John only had to hold on for a few more minutes….
He tried applying pressure to John's wound again, but John's shaking hand stopped him. Sherlock could not help but notice the coldness of John's fingertips on his skin. The cold he could only associate with dying.
"You shouldn't have ended up here," Sherlock told John, struggling to keep his voice steady. "You shouldn't have been doing any of this. You could be safe. Safe and sound somewhere….somewhere else."
"Why would I want to be somewhere else?" John didn't hesitate even for a second in responding, eyes once again flickering up to Sherlock's. Sherlock could see the light in them dimming.
Don't go. Don't go, not yet.
"I – I can't feel it anymore, Sherlock."
Sherlock knew what the statement implied, but his throat was now too blocked off to say anything at all.
"The pain, I mean. It's – It's not there." John smiled, a weak, lopsided smile. "Is this what it feels like? To –"
"Hold on, John," Sherlock interrupted him, unable to let him finish. More for himself than John, for Sherlock knew if he heard any word of remote closeness to "death" he would completely fall apart.
John's shaking fingers found Sherlock's scarf, grabbing hold of it like a final lifeline.
"I am," he whispered.
Sherlock's constricted throat eased to let him gasp in sheer agony, a searing pain he'd never felt before in his lifetime. This pain was so different from any physical wound. This pain tore through him, and turned his blood to ice, his limbs to stone.
The sound of a siren – Sherlock figured it was two blocks down – made John attempt to turn his head towards the noise, but Sherlock held onto his head, forcing him to stay still against his chest.
"Don't look. It's fine. They're almost here. You'll be safe soon, John." Sherlock looked up at the black sky. "I-Imagine in the morning, John. When we get out of this, we'll….we'll go to that park you love so much."
John breathing had become rapid, but he could still whisper, "I'd like that, Sherlock…."
"Yeah….yeah, we can….I'll bring my violin, and I'll teach you to play. Like you've always asked." The words were tumbling out of Sherlock's mouth, the only thing keeping him whole.
"I'd like that," John repeated softly. "What else will we do tomorrow, Sherlock?"
Sherlock swallowed heavily. "We can spend as long as you want at the park….and when we go back home, we can have a nice dinner….maybe invite Mrs. Hudson."
"Haven't done that in a while." John's words were failing. "You wouldn't eat."
"I-I would for you. And….and after dinner, we….you would be too terrified to sleep alone, with nightmares. And….and I'd let you sleep with me." Sherlock's voice cracked. He could feel John's breathing become slower and slower.
The sirens are closer with each feeble breath.
"And in the morning, we could have tea….and…." Sherlock stopped, letting out another gasp. "And….and I could tell you 'good morning' and make ordinary daytime chat with you, for once, just for you. And…and I could tell you I loved you and you could smile and…and you wouldn't say anything, because you knew, and I would just be pointing out the obvious again….but you have to hold on, John, just hold on, all right? It's not long. It's...John…."
There was no response. Terrified, Sherlock gently held John's head away from his chest, staring into his blank, glassy eyes.
"John." Sherlock's hand found John's chest, feeling for a beat. "John."
He only found silence.
So instead his hand found John's neck, and his wrist. Soon he was checking every part of John's body, searching for any sign of life.
But there was nothing.
"John!" Sherlock's voice rose in panic, gently shaking John, as if in a hope to wake him.
There was no use in this, of course. Sherlock was not daft in that respect. But it wasn't for a lack of trying that he knew John was truly, sincerely, absolutely gone.
"John…." Sherlock's voice had given away to a mere crack. He stared down at the good doctor, the wound in his stomach still pouring blood, his eyes staring upward. The sight made Sherlock's chest heave and his throat constrict.
Sherlock didn't even bother letting the voice sink in. He could not turn away from John's lifeless body. He clung to John as John had clung to him. Like a lifeline.
Don't leave me here alone.
"Sherlock – oh….oh, bloody hell, Sherlock."
It was Lestrade, Sherlock finally realized, but he did not look up. He kept his iron grip on John's body, blood soaking through his coat and clothes but he didn't care.
"Get the medical team over here, now!" Lestrade's barking command seemed to set off a flurry of lights, pounding of footsteps, and rushed voices. Sherlock did not have any care for what they were doing. He was completely still now, agonizing shudders still running through his body.
"Sherlock. Sherlock, you need to let go now. We need to take him," a female medical professional said near him, but he refused to let him go, his fingers gripping tighter on his friend's – best friend's – jacket.
"Sherlock, it's okay. Come on –" Lestrade's voice was in Sherlock's ear now, but Sherlock would still not relent. He had watched John Watson die, and by God, he would see him leave.
Lestrade's powerful arms locked around Sherlock's waist, and the next thing Sherlock was aware of, he was being literally torn from John, his blood soaked jacket still hanging in his hands (he had refused to leave the doctor's side without it). He did not move as he watched the professionals check the dead man's pulse. Listen for his breathing. Check the severity of the wound. And eventually pronounce him dead, carrying him on a stretcher and cover his soft, caring face with a white sheet Sherlock only associated with death.
The kind army doctor, his kind army doctor, was dead.
Sherlock became suddenly deaf to the world around him. He couldn't hear Lestrade's attempt at comforting words, or his instructions to his team to check the murderer. Instead, his gaze trained on John's jacket. A worn, now bloodstained coat. The only thing he had left of his doctor.
He brought the thing to his face, catching the lingering scent of tea, strawberry jam, and latex. His knees weakened with this scent, a scent that always reminded him of comfort and kindness. Of patience and love. Of the only man who ever – who would ever – care for him.
Come morning light, John, I promise you'll be safe.
And that, John would be. Sherlock would greet each morning light alone, where John was safe and sound.
A/N: gah why is everything I write always so angsty xP ah well, nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this – enjoyed the energy and few tears it cost me.