Pain. Fear. Panic. That was what John knew for sure. Who he was looking for that was what he didn't know. He was surrounded by smoke that burned his eyes and he could barely see. The air was hot and dusty and his fatigues clung uncomfortably to his body. Shots rang out all around him but it did not stop him. He was looking for someone but he couldn't remember who. Why couldn't he remember who? But he was desperate to find them. The gun was heavy in his hands and his shoulder hurt. Had he been shot? He was pretty sure he had but it did not deter him. He saw a fellow solider fallen on the ground and ran to him. He turned the man over and it was not who he thought he was. Though he had not known who he was looking for he knew with certainty this wasn't right. The long, slender form of him should have been a clue it wasn't who he expected. But the brown curls surrounded the blood covered face he could not see told him who it was. It was Sherlock. That wasn't right, he shouldn't be here. John shook him but he didn't move. He was too late. He wasn't alive. "Sherlock!" he screamed.
Sherlock was deep in sleep when he heard his name being called. He knew it was coming from John and it sounded so urgent that it was quickly bringing him out of his groggy mindset. That's why he didn't like sleeping; it did strange things to your mind and made it hard to think. John sounded so close. Sherlock opened his eyes and realized he was in John's bed with John. What?
It took a second but then he remembered the night before and the cloudiness faded away. John was sitting up in the bed and his eyes were open. Sherlock hoped that he was finally awake. Sherlock sat up beside him. "John, I'm right here."
"Sherlock?" John looked around, confused.
"Yes, John I'm right here."
John, for the first time, acknowledged what Sherlock said and turned towards him. "Sherlock?"
"Its alright John." Sherlock could tell that John could hear him but that John still wasn't all the way there. He still looked terrified at something Sherlock didn't understand. He was taken aback when John suddenly wrapped his arms around him and put his head against his shoulder. John had never hugged Sherlock and it surprised him. But it was not entirely unpleasant experience. Sherlock wrapped his arms around John.
"John, are you alright? What is going on?"
"John, I'm not dead. I'm right here. Its me, Sherlock."
Sherlock sat like that with John for a long time while John seemed to be thinking about something. "Are you alright?" John asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. Are you alright?"
John didn't answer the question. But in a minute Sherlock felt John stiffen in his arms and pull away. Sherlock was relieved when he saw, like a light being switched on, the light come back in John's eyes, and he knew John was finally awake.
John looked around the room and then at Sherlock and jerked back a little. "What…what's going on?"
With John awake and fully conscious, Sherlock instantly felt ridiculous that he was in John's bed with him. His cheeks were hot and to his horror he realized that he was blushing. Blushing! How ridiculous!
He got up quickly and stood beside the bed. "You were having night terrors," he managed to reply calmly. John was breathing quickly and was shaking slightly. He was still clearly upset even though he was awake and looked to on the edge of losing it. Sherlock suddenly felt the need to give John some privacy to compose himself. "Let me get you some tea. I'll be right back."
Sherlock took longer to make the tea than was necessary so that John would have time to calm down. Now that John was awake, it felt like an invasion of privacy to witness his emotions. When he came back John was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking exhausted, but fully awake and much calmer. Sherlock pulled a chair beside the bed and sat down with his own cup of tea and handed John the one he'd brought for him. Sherlock pretended not to notice when the mug shook slightly in John's hands.
After he took a sip, John spoke. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." They sat in silence for a moment longer before Sherlock spoke again. "Do you remember anything that happened?" Sherlock hoped John could explain what had happened to him in the night. Sherlock had never seen anyone act like that and despite himself he was curious. He so wanted to understand what had brought on the terror that John experienced. He hoped that it was something they could identify and cure; he hated to think that this lifestyle was becoming too much for John.
"I can't really remember much…"his voice trailed off as he tried to think about it. Then he looked at Sherlock curiously. "What happened?"
"You were screaming so I came to see what was going on. I tried to wake you up but you wouldn't wake up. I tried to talk to you but you didn't seem to hear what I was saying most of the time."
John looked around self-consciously and Sherlock figured he would spare John the details of the night. Sherlock knew that John would be terribly embarrassed if he knew the full extent of his reactions to the nightmares. He could tell that John was trying hard to remember what had happened. John knew there was more to the story than that but he didn't press for details and Sherlock was glad.
The early morning light was just starting to stream in the window. "Did you stay in here the whole night?" John asked glancing at the clock and seeing the hour.
"You really stayed in here the whole time?"
"Yes. Why?" Sherlock began to wonder if maybe that wasn't what John wanted. Maybe John would have wanted to be alone.
"I'm just surprised. I would have thought that wasn't really your area."
"Its not. But I tried as best as I could to…console you." Sherlock looked away uncomfortably. He hadn't thought anything of all he had done to comfort John. But now that John was awake talking about it, it felt strange.
John looked around uncomfortably too. "What did I say…What did I do?"
Sherlock didn't like to recall the events of the night but he scrolled through them in his head. "When I first came in you were screaming. You were afraid and combative. Then you fell asleep for a while. Then you woke up again, you complained that it was dark, you acted like your shoulder, the one you had injured in Afghanistan, was hurting like you had just injured it. Then you were apologizing to someone."
John was deep in thought, surely searching for memories and not finding them. "I remember the fear, but I don't know what I was dreaming about." Then he paused before he said "I'm sorry."
Sherlock was confused. "Why?"
"Because I kept you up all night. I'm sure that's the last thing you wanted after last night."
"Its fine. I slept a little." Sherlock didn't mention just how little as he fought his heavy eye lids.
"You probably needed your rest with the injury to your arm."
"Thanks, Doctor Watson, but I told you its fine."
"Let me see it."
Sherlock glanced down at his bandaged arm and saw that blood was starting to show on the bandages from where he had used his arms so much throughout the night. John noticed this and scratches on Sherlock's hands and got a horrified look on his face. "What did I do to you? I'm so sorry.
Sherlock brushed it off. "You were…not yourself last night. You got upset. I had to restrain you a bit. But I will be fine. You worry too much."
"You should let me clean those up."
"Please," he scoffed. "I can do that myself. I might not be a doctor but I know how to change a bandage."
"I understand that but you don't seem to understand that were shot last night." At that John paused and seemed to remember. He looked down and silence hung in the air.
Sherlock hoped that John wouldn't get angry again remembering the night before. Though he hated it, he figured it was time for an apology. Seeing how much pain the attack had caused John he felt even worse about the mistake he had made that had lead to it. But he still hated saying sorry, even though John deserved it. "John, about last night. I am sorry."
John looked completely surprised as if this was the last thing he expected Sherlock to say. "Sorry, for what?"
Now Sherlock was confused. Hadn't John been mad at him? "Well, for getting us into trouble last night."
John shook his head. "You're the one who gets shot and you're apologizing to me?"
"Yes, you were upset about it. Upset that I put you in danger. I could see you were angry."
"Sherlock…I wasn't mad at you."
"I don't understand. Weren't you upset that I put you in danger?"
John smiled a little now. "Danger is kind of what I signed up for when I joined you. Of course I wasn't mad at you."
Sherlock was still confused. "I don't still understand," he admitted.
John sighed and shifted nervously. "Sherlock, are you really going to make me say it out loud?"
Sherlock didn't want to look foolish and have to admit that, yes, John did need to say it plainly. So, he said nothing but John could see through that.
"Sherlock…I wasn't upset about myself in danger. I was upset about you in danger."
Sherlock was really confused now. Why would John be upset about him in danger? Why would it bother him? It didn't make any sense to Sherlock. "I don't understand. Why would that bother you?"
Just to add to Sherlock's confusion he saw John's cheeks flush with color. "Really, Sherlock?"
"Yes, really. I want to understand."
"Sherlock, you are so brilliant and yet…the basic sentiment you don't get. It has to be spelled out for you. I was upset because I care about you. You're my friend and I don't want anything to happen to you."
Sherlock was surprised at this revelation. He had been mistaken. He was so convinced that John had been angry at him, for putting him in such a dangerous situation. But the fear hadn't been for himself at all; the fear had been for Sherlock. Just for him? Sherlock's heart was doing something strange again. He couldn't understand it. John did that; things he said or did caused emotions in Sherlock's heart. John made him feel things he'd never felt before. Sherlock had never felt that someone actually was afraid for him. It was odd to realize that he could have such an effect on someone. For some reason he felt like he couldn't talk.
John looked uncomfortable with the silence. He looked like he thought what he had said wasn't right. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer and spoke. "Is it really that hard to believe? Is that really a surprise? "
Sherlock thought it would be not good to admit that it was hard to believe, that he really didn't understand that someone could really be that upset, that afraid, for another person. It was hard for him to believe that anyone could really care that much for him. He didn't want to admit that he hadn't really understood John's feelings for him. So, he decided to take the conversation in another direction.
"That's just not what I expected you to say. I thought you were mad at me for putting you in danger. I thought that our particularly eventful night had triggered post traumatic stress and that was what brought on the night terrors."
"Oh," John said and he looked thoughtful. "Well, you didn't get it entirely wrong." For a while he didn't speak. "I don't have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But last night did bring back some of my memories of the war. When you got injured…I thought about how much worse it could have been. It made me remember…" John stopped.
"John, you don't have to…"
"No, its alright. After last night I suppose I owe you an explanation." John paused again before telling his story. Something clouded over John's face and Sherlock saw that this story did not have a good outcome.
It took a while, but finally John spoke. "When I was in Afghanistan I saw lots of guys get killed. It didn't feel normal but it was common. But there was one time it did really bother me. I met Daniel the first week I was overseas. We were both new and we got a long real good. We decided to keep an eye on each other, you know, watch each other's backs. At that point, he was the best friend I'd ever had."
John paused and Sherlock could tell it was hard for him to talk about it, so he said nothing and waited patiently. "It was almost time for him to go home. I was staying on longer but he was getting married so he wasn't going to keep on. We were in a terrible battle. Somehow, we got separated and by the time I found him…it was too late. He was already gone and there wasn't anything I could do for him. I ended up get injured that same day and being sent home."
John was still looking down and it was a long time before he continued. "I know it wasn't my fault. I know I couldn't protect him from everything…but it sure didn't feel that way when I had to face his fiancé. To see her at his funeral…I just knew I had failed. I'd finally made a friend and I lost him. He was in danger and there was nothing I could do to help him"
Sherlock appreciated that John had shared his story with him because he knew that it must have been hard for him. But he didn't want to admit he really didn't see how that past experience connected with the experience their current situation. Emotions and sentiment always made him feel stupid because he couldn't explain them; he didn't understand them at all.
He was relieved when John finally looked at him. "I don't think about it a lot anymore. But last night…when I said I wasn't mad at you I meant it. I was mad at myself. Mad that I wasn't there when you needed me."
"I know. Its not my job to protect you. I'm not even sure that's possible, but…last night, seeing you injured like that…it was the first time that I realized…I mean I thought about how hard it had been to lose him and I couldn't…"
Whatever John was trying to say he was having a hard time. He looked like he hoped that Sherlock would understand, to fill in the lines for him, but Sherlock didn't know what John was trying to say. "What is it John?" he quietly urged.
"It was just the first time that I really realized that I could lose you, that something could happen to you. And I just couldn't imagine what it would be like if that were to happen."
Sherlock didn't know what to think, didn't know what to feel. All of this fear had been directed at him? All night he had wondered what had brought fear to the man who was never afraid. All night he had wondered what the difference with this night was as opposed to all the others they'd faced. The difference was him. Sherlock wasn't sure what he expected the answer to be but this was not it. What had brought the terror on was not that John might die himself; it was that he might have to watch Sherlock die. Strange emotional responses were happening in his body. He couldn't identify them. He'd never seen such concern directed at him and he didn't know how to cope with it.
He knew he should say something. But he couldn't. And John seemed to know it. Knew that Sherlock didn't know what to say but knew it meant something to him. Knew that he cared too and that he had done more for John that night than he was admitting to.
"Thank you, Sherlock, for everything. Even though I don't remember it I'm sure it helped."
"I'm not sure it helped much."
"It helps now," John said giving Sherlock a serious look.
"You're welcome," he said meeting John's eyes. A loud yawn from John broke the seriousness of the mood and he and Sherlock laughed a little.
"How is it possible that I am still tired?"
"Well, it wasn't exactly restful sleep."
"That's for sure. You must be exhausted."
For once, Sherlock didn't feel like pretending he wasn't tired. "I'm a little tired. So, if you'll excuse me," he said getting up and starting to make his way for the door.
"Wait," John said stopping him.
John hesitated. "Never mind."
"What is it John?"
"Could you…could you sit with me? Just until I fall asleep?"
Sherlock felt like smiling. John was nervous to ask, like it was too big a thing to ask. After the night they'd had this was the least that Sherlock could do. So, he sat back down and said "Sure."
It didn't take John long to fall asleep but Sherlock sat watching him for a long time. He watched the peaceful face of his friend, the almost childlike one that you only see when someone is asleep. Sherlock delighted in the fact that there was no fear or stress written there. He watched the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. Sherlock could tell that he was sleeping soundly and peacefully now.
Sherlock knew he had a lot to learn about friendship. It didn't yet make sense to him that's John's fear for Sherlock was what had triggered such a terrifying night. John had never had such a powerful reaction to fear for himself but it was the danger that Sherlock had been in that had made this time different. It also didn't make sense to him that, even though John had been mostly unaware of the comfort that Sherlock was giving him throughout the night, Sherlock didn't regret the fact that he'd been there. Just to be here with him now, watching his peaceful sleep, and learning what he had, was reward enough.
The sun was well up before Sherlock got up and left the room to finally get some sleep himself.
That concludes "Until I See the Sun." Thank you so much to all who favorited, followed, and reviewed. Please let me know what you thought. I have several stories in the works so be on the lookout :) And check out my latest story "Sometimes He Makes Me Sick."