'Afraid' is not a feeling that Sherlock Holmes is accustomed to. Irritation, frustration, anger, boredom, maybe even mild concern once in awhile, but fear? Well, that one is not in the consulting detective's repertoire.

But as he runs through the now abandoned building, searching for his only friend in the world, fear courses through his veins and holds his heart in an icy grip. Panic, he realizes as he opens yet another door into yet another empty room, is one hell of a motivator.

He also realizes that it is not just panic that drives him, that there is another force entirely that pushes him onward. John is, after all, a friend whom Sherlock has come to deeply care for. To lose him…well, Sherlock mustn't lose him.

His phone rings in his pocket and he ignores it. It rings again, though, so he pulls it out.

"What?" he snarls.

"You're nearly out of time, Sherlock. You've got to get out of there," Lestrade says.

"Not without John," Sherlock replies, hanging up on the detective inspector. He repeats the three words to himself even as he feels himself begin to lose hope.

XXX 1 hour earlier

"Sherlock, you go find Alistair. I'll go to the lab," John said decisively.

"I need to call the bomb squad," Lestrade protested.

"Don't be ridiculous. You know how long it takes them. We haven't the time for that, Lestrade," Sherlock argued.

"Then I'll call for an evacuation," Lestrade answered, already pulling out his mobile.

"Good. John, Decker isn't the type to just leave his work, and even if he does leave, his life could still be in danger. I need you to find him and warn him, then tell him to come back here."

John nodded and stepped out of the station and to the corner, hailing a cab. "To the university, please," he said. He shifted nervously in the backseat. He hoped that he'd be able to find Decker fast enough.

The cabbie pulled up. "Here we are."

John paid him hastily. Scotland Yard was already there, trying their best to get people evacuated in a relatively calm manner. John walked forward, but an officer stopped him.

"Oy! You're not allowed in. We're evacuating the campus."

"Yes, I know. Lestrade sent me. I'm to-"

"Are you John Watson?" the officer interrupted.

"I am."

"Go on, then," the officer said, ushering him through.

John gave a sigh of relief as he ran to the science building. He wasn't sure whether it was Lestrade or Sherlock who'd called ahead, but either way he was grateful. He stopped a student in the hall.

"Can you tell me where Professor Decker is?" he asked.

The girl pointed down the hall. "Last door on the right," she answered.

John nodded and ran down to the room. Decker wasn't there. "Damn."

He was unsure what to do. He had no idea how long he had to get Decker out, or if Decker was even still there. Then, he remembered something: Sherlock had put Decker's number in his phone. John pulled his mobile from his pocket and went through his contacts until he found Jonathan Decker.

Faintly, he heard a ringtone, and he ran toward it.

"Hello? Who is this?"

John hung up as he stepped into the room where Jonathan Decker was standing, looking at his phone with a confused expression. He shrugged and hung up, and resumed pulling files from a cabinet and shoving them in his bag.

"Jonathan Decker?"

Decker jumped. "Oh, you startled me. Yes, I'm Decker." He squinted at John. "Do I know you?"

"Erm, no. Probably not. Look, Professor, your life is in danger. I need you to come with me. I'll take you over to the Scotland Yard, where you'll be kept until-"

"Oh, that's not necessary," Decker said dismissively.

"What? Sir, the building is about to explode."

"No it's not. In fact, by my estimation we've got more than three-quarters of an hour before it goes off."

"What?"

Decker chuckled. "I do know you, Doctor-Watson, is it? You work with Sherlock Holmes. Who believes Alistair is trying to kill me, is that correct?"

John blinked. "I don't…what the hell is going on here?" His hand inched toward his gun.

Before he could reach it, however, Decker pulled out his own gun and pointed it at John's forehead. John put his hands up.

"Okay, okay. No need for that."

Decker sighed. "Take out your gun, John. Slowly. Slowly, or I will kill you where you stand!"

John complied, keeping his eyes on Decker the whole time. He held the gun with his thumb and forefinger.

"Set it on the ground and slide it to me. Slowly. That's a good chap." Decker picked up John's gun and tucked it into the back of his pants. "Now, Doctor. We have a problem. Sherlock Holmes was supposed to be the one that came for me. I like you, John. I really don't want to kill you."

John shut his eyes in anticipation of what would undoubtedly be his death.

"So I'm not going to."

John opened his eyes again and his shoulders sagged a little with relief.

"But I can't let you leave here." He lowered the gun and pulled the trigger.

Before he knew what was happening, John was staring at the ceiling, and something warm and wet and sticky was spreading across his front. Gasping, he reached up and put a hand over the hole in his stomach. Blood quickly coated his fingers.

Decker strode over to him. "I really am sorry," he said as he pulled John into a sitting position and leaned him against the wall.

John let out a groan of pain and stared up at the professor with wide eyes. Decker gave him a look of sympathy.

"You were in Afghanistan. You've seen what this kind of injury does to a person. You and I both know you're not going anywhere. You'd be very, very lucky to get out of here alive-if you get of here at all." Decker pulled the scarf from around his neck, wadded it up, and pressed it against John's wound. "You're going to want to keep pressure on that."

"You…working with Alistair?" John asked.

"Don't try to speak," Decker said. He picked up the bag he'd filled with files and left.

John reached a shaking hand into his pocket and took out his mobile. He was grateful he had Sherlock on speed-dial. He put the phone to his ear and waited. Pick up, you bastard.

"Yes, John?"

"Sherlock," John breathed. "He shot me…"

"John, where are you? I need you to tell me where you are, I'm coming!"

John struggled to stay conscious. "The bomb…thirty minutes now," he managed.

"Okay. Where are you?"

John didn't answer. The phone slipped from his blood covered hand. As he lay gasping, cold spreading through his limbs and body, his last thought was that he was going to die completely and utterly alone.

XXX

Sherlock has tried nearly all the rooms in the science hall now. He is growing increasingly desperate. He bursts into room after room, each as empty as the one before.

Until one of them isn't.

He opens the door and sees blood on the floor and there is John, slumped against the wall, pale and still and covered in so much red.

Sherlock is on his knees in an instant, feeling for a pulse. He is grateful when he finds one, but he knows John's life is still in danger. As carefully and gently as he can, he gathers his fallen friend into his arms.

John stirs a little and Sherlock sees his lips more just enough to form a very small smile.

He moves as quickly as he dares, not wanting to jar his precious cargo. There is an ambulance waiting for them outside, and as soon as he's out of the building, paramedics are rushing forward and John is whisked away. Sherlock follows, getting into the ambulance and sitting on the bench.

He stares at the floor as an oxygen mask is shoved over John's mouth and nose and IVs are pushed into his arms.

All he can think is that it shouldn't be him, it should never be John, because he is the best man that Sherlock knows.

XXX

Patience is not one of Sherlock's more refined abilities, and Lestrade is reminded of this as he watches Sherlock pace back and forth, his hands folded behind his back, his brow creased with worry.

"Sherlock," he begins, only to have a particularly nasty look shot in his direction. He shuts his mouth.

A doctor comes down the hall that Sherlock recognizes and he rushes him.

"What's the news on John? How is he?" he asks frantically.

The doctor takes a step back and breathes deeply. "He's lost a lot of blood, but miraculously, the bullet missed any vital organs. He's a very, very lucky man. We'll watch him through the night to see if he's stable enough for surgery. We won't know much more until morning, but we're confident that with surgery and time, he should recover."

Sherlock wants to ask more, but he can see the tiredness in the doctor's eyes, and in a rare moment of humanity, he decides not to push it.

"Thank you, doctor," he mutters.

"We'll keep you informed on any change in his condition."

Sherlock nods, then sits in one of the plastic chairs. Lestrade glances over. "How are you, Sherlock?"

"Honestly? I could use a cigarette."

Lestrade smiles thinly and crams a hand into his pocket. He pulls something out and holds it out to Sherlock. "Nicotine patch?"

Sherlock takes it gratefully.

Hours pass, and Lestrade has long since gone home. Sherlock jerks awake, not remembering having fallen asleep. A nurse is walking toward him.

"Mister Holmes?" she asks. He nods. "They're taking Mister Watson into surgery now."

Sherlock thanks her, then sits forward and worries.

XXX

When John finally awakes from surgery, Sherlock is there, sitting in one of the chairs.

"Sherlock." His throat is dry, and the word comes out scratchy.

"John! How are you feeling?"

John smiles. "Tired. Sore. What happened?"

"I found you."

"The building?"

"Blown up. Burnt to the ground. Luckily, no one was hurt. Alistair and Decker have both been apprehended. All of the evidence against Decker went up with the building. Well, almost all of it." He looks pointedly at John. "He underestimated me. A very big mistake on his part. And a stupid one. He must have been a fool to think I would let anything stop me from saving my only friend."

"Thank you, Sherlock."

"For saving you? You would have done the same."

"Yes for saving me." His words have that breathiness that comes with exhaustion, and his eyes are beginning to slip shut. Before he falls asleep, though, he adds, "And for being my friend."

Sherlock allows himself a small smile as he realizes just how very lucky he is to have found him.

XXX