It was very quiet in 221B Baker Street, no pacing, no tunes on the violin, no rants or deductions, just the regular beeping and the hissing of the medical aid Sherlock was attached to.
John had dropped into the chair opposite Sherlock's bed. He was extremely tired and yet couldn't get any rest – he needed to look after his flatmate as his unconsciousness started to worry him more and more. He should have woken up by now, the anaesthetic from the surgery being ineffective after this amount of time, but Sherlock didn't show any signs of regaining consciousness. John had to wait, doing quick checks on the oxygen saturation and the renal function. Most of the time, however, he remained in his rather uncomfortable position in the chair, watching his flatmate, his thoughts drifting away.
He wondered if he had misjudged Mycroft. He was a tough man to understand, being outwardly as cold as ice, and nevertheless showing signs of being all too human when it came to his brother. The usually fully composed man had been reduced to swearing and his complexion had told more about his inner self than he would ever have been able to express verbally. And still there was this strange feeling of unease in his presence.
Only when John almost slipped off the chair, did he realize that he had fallen asleep. Checking his watch, he noticed though, that it hadn't been for long, not more than a couple of minutes. However, it had been a clear sign of how exhausted he was. Not wanting to leave his flatmate alone, yet knowing that he needed to rest, John fetched some blankets from his room and the living-room and lay down next to Sherlock's bed.
Staring at the ceiling wearily, John muttered more to himself than to the other man in the room, "Sherlock, I am really fed up with asking you for the favour of not dying. You know, I can get quite pissed off, so stop this!" As he had expected there was no answer. He sighed. If only Sherlock would wake up.
John drifted into a little restorative sleep. When he woke up, it was dark. His back was aching, all muscles tense. He struggled to his feet, wiping the sleep from his face and moaning slightly from the pain in his limbs. Upon checking on Sherlock he found that nothing had changed – unfortunately.
John realized that he was still covered in Sherlock's blood, as was the Consulting Detective himself, apart from those spots the ex-army doctor had managed to clean a bit with the wash cloth. John needed a hot shower, but he would have to scrub the bathroom before. Having a shower in what looked like a slaughterhouse wasn't actually what he was looking forward to.
After having washed away the tiredness and the blood, now dressed in comfortable jumper and trousers, John undressed Sherlock in order to clean him too, having to cut his shirt to get it off him. He carefully washed his torso, neck and face and tried to clean his friend's hair as much as possible. He was glad that nobody watched him, tears already filling his eyes again. How many times would John be there just in time, and how many times would Sherlock be able to survive? John spread a blanket over his friend, as it felt a bit chilly in the room.
Sherlock's chest was rising and falling regularly and gave proof that this time John had in fact been able to rescue him, although any permanent damage had yet to be revealed. However, he had again not been able to do it all on his own. He was slightly upset about how dependent he was on Mycroft when it came to saving Sherlock's life.
John remembered the documents he had brought from Germany. As he couldn't do much but wait anyway, he decided to get them from downstairs where he had dropped his bag and briefcase and to look through them. Maybe he could find anything that would give them a hint on where the Tabun had come from.
In the hallway he couldn't find the briefcase. His travel bag was still there, though. He wondered if he had left the item in the cab, but he could certainly recall throwing it on the floor. He looked around in the hallway, but there was nothing there, and it was the same in the flat. "That's impossible," John muttered. After checking on Sherlock once again, he searched the entire flat and the ground floor for the papers – in vain.
That was strange, as nobody had known about the documents apart from his German friend Christoph. John was just walking up the stairs again when a thought struck him. Nobody apart from Mycroft and his people had been in the house, consequently only one of them could have taken the briefcase. He quickly ran up the staircase, taking two steps at a time. He had to check if his mobile was still in the back pocket of the trousers he had carelessly thrown on the floor in the bathroom. Fortunately, it was there.
John wondered how it could be possible that Mycroft knew about the documents. If that was the case he also knew about John's trip to Germany, so the questioning on where he had been had only been hiding what he really knew. If actually those documents had been taken by Mycroft or his men, it was, consequently, very likely that they held important information. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled when John thought about it. If Mycroft knew about the documents he also knew where exactly they had come from, therefore, Christoph was in danger. In what kind of danger, John wasn't sure, that actually depended on the information in the papers. Although it was in the middle of the night, John had to call his German friend to make sure he was ok.
He dialled his number and instantly heard the automated message, "The person you have called is temporarily unavailable."
Shit! The ex-army man was aware of the fact that there could be a simple explanation for it as it was night-time and usually people slept at this hour of day, however, John felt that it might also be a sign that something was wrong. Mycroft was a dangerous man and heaven knew what was in the documents. John had to check instantly.
He went back to Sherlock's room with his laptop and downloaded the photographs from his mobile. He examined the pictures of the documents carefully, but they didn't give him the faintest hint on why they were so important as to be worth stealing. They were explosive, definitely, since they contained information about Tabun testing on human beings during World War II, but, as bad as that was, it didn't tell John anything about any connection to Sherlock. There had to be something that he failed to see. Christoph hadn't had any idea either, he had simply photocopied those papers that revealed any connection to England. Most of the papers were letters with data and results, really dreadful matters. John would have to show them to Sherlock. Maybe he could deduce more from the documents.
Just as John was thinking that, Sherlock groaned a little bit, his eyes fluttering open.
"You're back," John stated relieved, setting the laptop down, walking over to the bed and sitting down on its edge carefully. He scrutinized his too pale friend.
The Consulting Detective tried to lift his hand to his mouth, but John pre-empted him and took the breathing mask off.
Sherlock looked at him slightly confused and tried to clear his throat, but when he attempted to say something he flinched.
"What…?" he said with an all croaky voice.
"Oh, you tried to compete with the pig that you had harpooned once. At least our living-room and the bathroom look like it." John explained with a smile.
Sherlock closed his eyes for a moment, then he seemed to remember.
"Yes, your nosebleed. You almost bled to death!" John ranted, although he wasn't angry, it was just his worries that made him sound so.
"That bad?" Sherlock probed.
Sherlock gave John a questioning look, but the ex-army man dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "Later."
John's patient shifted in his bed, trying to look himself up and down. He inhaled sharply as if in pain. There was a surprised look on his face and his hand shot to the dressing on his neck.
"Don't touch, you had a little surgery. That's also the reason why your voice is a bit hoarse."
"Intubation?" Sherlock whispered.
The doctor nodded. "You would have choked on your own blood. Really, Sherlock, there was a lot of it, I can tell."
"Hmm, remember the bathroom," he croaked.
"Yeah, I found you in there. You are very thorough in everything, you know? You can't just get a nosebleed, no, you have to get an unstoppable arterial nosebleed!"
The doctor shook his head, looking at his flatmate. "Can't you just once be ordinary?"
"Want to get up," Sherlock demanded, trying to get the cables off his chest and ignoring John's enquiry.
"Haha, my friend, you have just lost about at least half of your blood. You can try to get up, but I can assure you that you'll have a nice meeting with the floor. I suggest you stay put for a while." John replied, pushing away Sherlock's hands from the patches of the heart monitor.
"Half of my blood?" Sherlock asked disbelievingly.
"Yup, about so."
"Oh." He pointed to the heart monitor. "Mycroft?"
The doctor nodded. "Yeah, I had to call him. You know, arterial nosebleed isn't just a petty affair, but I guess we share an archenemy now."
Sherlock raised his eyebrows questioningly.
"I – I punched him in the face," John explained hesitatingly, looking down at his hands.
"Well, so there was too much subtext in what he said?" the Consulting Detective stated with much effort and a smile on his face. "That was – brave, I'd say."
"Oh, as much as I would like to take that as a compliment, I reckon that in this case your brother actually was correct in what he once told me – sometimes bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity. He wasn't pleased, as you can imagine."
"At least he didn't get you assassinated instantly, so you must have impressed him somehow." Sherlock whispered, his eyes already closed in exhaustion.
"Well, there's something – human about him, in fact, Sherlock, when it comes to you." In the back of his mind, John was thinking about the vanished documents and what they said about the degree of Mycroft's caring, but he didn't say anything about it. His flatmate had to rest and to recover before he would be able to deal with that matter.
Sherlock only made a little sound of annoyance. "Why did you punch him?"
"Well, it wasn't subtext, which annoyed me, but you, Sherlock Holmes, had begged me not to take you to a hospital and I had to convince your brother of it."
"I never beg."
"Believe me, you do! You have very human moments, too, although, admittedly, you were not fully conscious by then."
Sherlock didn't say anything, instead he looked away slightly embarrassed.
"I'll get you some water, you have to drink a lot to rehydrate. Don't move, ok? You'll be laid low for a while." John said in order to ease the situation a bit.
When he went to get up from the bed, Sherlock suddenly gripped his arm right under the elbow, exactly where the IV cannula for the blood transfusion had been and where now a thick pressure plaster stuck to prevent any bruises from forming.
"You look pale," the Consulting Detective stated.
"Do I? Well, I must admit, it wasn't a really pleasurable day, quite exhausting, to be honest." John knew that it wasn't just his tiredness that made his complexion slightly unhealthy. He had donated about three quarters of a litre of his own blood, which his body had to deal with, leaving him a bit slowed down and slightly dizzy at times.
Sherlock locked eyes with John and suddenly his eyes opened wide as if he had one of his brain waves.
"You said I lost half of my blood - did I get any transfusions?"
"'Course you did. You'd be dead otherwise!" John exclaimed.
"Was it stored blood?" Sherlock probed.
John lowered his eyes. He knew where this was leading. Going by the look on Sherlock's face, he had already deduced the truth. There was no point in hiding anything from the Consulting Detective, so John decided to tell him everything, wondering if Sherlock would actually be pleased to have his blood running in his veins.
"Ok, you want to hear the full story, right?"
Sherlock nodded. "In every detail."
"Water first," John instructed and left for the kitchen, giving him some time to prepare how he would tell Sherlock what had happened. As he had before when Sherlock had deduced his participation in resuscitating him after the Tabun poisoning, John felt uncomfortable giving his flatmate insight in his role in rescuing him this time.
With some water and a cup of tea for himself, John returned to Sherlock's bedroom. His patient seemed to have fallen asleep, so he set the water on the nightstand and dropped into the chair, sighing heavily.
"Try not to be too emotional, ok?" a muffled voice came from the direction of the bed. So he hadn't been sleeping and was now proving that he was still his typical self.
John shot up, suddenly exasperated.
"Sh..., " John paused for a second, taking a deep breath, "Sherlock! It wasn't you who had to rescue you for the second time in just weeks! I am a doctor, yes; with battlefield experience even, also yes; but have you got the slightest idea what battlefield it is that I have been fighting at? No, you don't, because you got yourself knocked out by the poison first and then bled out in the bathroom, both times just not getting what was happening to you! But I did! I was scared, Sherlock! I don't really care if you want to hear about emotions or not, but I was SCARED OUT OF MY WITS! It's one thing to lose a comrade on the battlefield, that's a risk you have to live with when you go to war, and God knows how difficult it is to deal with that, but losing a real friend, that's simply a very different matter! You know, with normal people death, or the sight of it, goes hand-in-hand with sentiment, so come to terms with it!"
John stomped from the room, having to take a deep breath. He was pacing the living-room to cool down when he heard Sherlock say: "It's fine."
The doctor went back to where his flatmate lay, still snorting with rage, and gave him the overdue lecture on the word fine. When John had finished his rant, much to his dismay Sherlock simply stated another "Fine", but smiled broadly at the furious doctor, finally eliciting a grin from John, the anger gone as fast as it had overcome him.
Suddenly, Sherlock became serious.
"John, I am aware that it must have been quite stressful for you, not least of all because you were clearly more involved than just any doctor, I do get that. I think, sometimes it's actually good that you literally put pressure on me - at least my chest feels like you did. Erm, …"
John couldn't believe that Sherlock had again deduced that he had helped to resuscitate him once more. However, it seemed that he was struggling with this realization. John raised his eyebrows expectantly.
"Are you trying to say thank you for saving my life?" he asked, coming to Sherlock's assistance.
Suddenly something entirely unexpected and extraordinary happened. John was watching his flatmate and he first thought he had got it wrong, but he hadn't. Sherlock's eyes were shining. He closed them quickly as if to avoid John seeing, but a single tell-tale tear ran down his cheeks.
John was taken aback. He couldn't believe what he saw. The world's only Consulting Detective, who occasionally made use of his ability to produce tears on command, would never cry due to emotions. And yet, maybe he had not only misjudged Mycroft but also Sherlock. As much as Sherlock pretended not to have a heart, his tears finally proved him wrong. Seeing his friend touched like that threw John off balance and he felt his own tears welling up in his eyes.
"It's fine," he whispered, turned around and left the bedroom, clearing his throat. He didn't want to reveal how prone to tears he was himself and he didn't want to make the situation even more awkward than it was anyway, so he left for the kitchen to get some more tea. The hot liquid would help him to calm down. Tea always helped.
John waited for the water to boil, blinking away his own tears and taking a few deep breaths. Having regained his composure, thinking about his tearful flatmate actually made John smile. This moment of weakness in Sherlock had been much greater proof of their friendship than any words could ever be. He was sure that Sherlock would never speak about what had just happened, but he didn't have to.
John went back to the bedroom, being sure that Sherlock would be ok by now. He stopped in the doorway, leaning to the doorframe and watching his flatmate, the teacup in his hands.
Sherlock had noticed that he had returned from the kitchen. He opened his eyes, which didn't show any signs of tears anymore and looked straight into John's face.
"Do you think emotions are chemicals that are transferred with blood donations?" Sherlock asked cautiously.
John threw his head back and laughed with all his heart. So he had already deduced John's blood donation, too.
"Sherlock Holmes, you are a bloody nutcase!"
"I can handle that," he replied with a smile on his face, however weakly, already drifting into sleep.
Rest and recover, my friend, John thought, still giggling.