"John, back! Defibrillation!"
The addressed individual was drawn away from the limp body forcefully and sat down hard on his bottom. One of the men already had the device ready, another one ripped Sherlock's shirt apart and quickly placed the electrodes on his body.
This was a nightmare that John wished he would wake up from instantly. He saw Sherlock's chest rise from the electric shock, but there was no sound coming from the heart monitor of the defibrillator. John felt completely numb when he watched the medical team give it another try – nothing.
John felt something cold spreading in his guts, which could only be described as sheer terror! He was aware of the fact that more than three times of defibrillation didn't make sense. The likelihood of being successful went close to zero.
So he sent another silent prayer to heaven: Please, God, let him live! John wasn't a religious man, but it had worked for him once, as simple as it was.
And there it was, after the third time– the relieving beep…beep…beep…!
John released a breath he hadn't known he had been holding and let his tears stream down his cheeks.
Mycroft approached his brother's flatmate, having watched the scene emotionlessly, or so it seemed.
"John, we need to talk, I beg you to pull yourself together! Explain what is going on here!"
The doctor threw a blurred glance over his shoulder and saw that the flat was crowded with people in white and blue overalls carrying a lot of equipment, waiting for his report. As fast and steady as his voice and state of mind allowed, yet not averting his gaze from his friend and the medical team who were intubating him and fixing an IV cannula on the back of his hand, John gave a description of the incident.
Mycroft ordered his men to examine the suspicious petri-dish and to search the flat for anything that could give them a clue as to Sherlock's state. The tall man turned to John again.
"And you? Are you ok?" He frowned.
John gave a nod, despite feeling slightly nauseous and dizzy, which could definitely be explained by his exhaustion. He tried to concentrate on the thought processes he had had before the Consulting Detective's second cardiac arrest.
"Sir", said one of the medical team with an urgent undertone, "we don't know how long we can keep up his vital functions without knowing what the cause of these reactions is. We will most likely not be able to resuscitate him one more time."
John dimly noticed that Mycroft was talking to the man in quite an unfriendly tone. Apparently, this was his way of showing sorrow. The doctor knew that Mycroft did care about his brother, otherwise he wouldn't have been given the emergency number.
John himself tried to clear the cotton wool that was his brain. Fish, wha…, fish, wha…
He distantly perceived that the kitchen had been sealed with curtains of plastic film, blurring the shapes of the persons moving behind them. From what the former soldier could see they were wearing gas masks. John was reminded of the other life he had once led. Mainly during his military training he had been forced to wear those masks, always finding it hard to work with them properly.
John jumped at the sound of his title and last name being called by Mycroft. The stiffest person the former soldier had ever known had condescended to calling him by his first name some time ago. John assumed that he had been called a couple of times before and simply hadn't noticed.
"John, have you got the slightest idea what Sherlock could have meant by the words he said?"
"No," he hesitated, "… but there is something that I can't grasp."
"Then, please, do your best and THINK!" Mycroft had rid himself of his usual arrogance for just one second, his face then displaying deep concern. So, John had been right about the caring issue.
"Sir, there is a brownish liquid covering the surface of the culture medium. It doesn't seem to be a mycotoxine though. Seems as if it had been added after the breeding of the cultures. We cannot identify it at the moment."
One of the men in a blue overall had approached Mycroft and had taken down the gas mask.
"Hurry up then and do identify it!" was Mycroft's brisk though slightly croaky reply. He had managed again to hide his emotions almost perfectly, only his slightly croaky voice and a light tapping of the fingers of his right hand to his thigh revealed his agitation.
The bell in John's subconscious rang louder. A brownish liquid, fish smell and wha…, wha… - WAR! Suddenly everything shifted into place, all the pieces fitting together.
"Mycroft! Mycroft! Listen! Tabun! It's Tabun! The smell of fish, a brownish liquid, and WAR, that was the word, it wasn't a fragment, and the 't'! Tabun is a nerve agent, a chemical weapon! Sherlock knew what he had been exposed to! He needs atropine! Immediately!"
"Are you sure, John? You know, if you're wrong, administration of atropine will definitely kill Sherlock!"
"I am sure! Excessive salivation and sweating, bradycardia, convulsions, nausea – all these symptoms fit overexposure to Tabun! Give him atropine! NOW! I don't know how much time has already passed since the exposure, but we're running out of it! GIVE HIM ATROPINE! Tabun blocks the acetycholinesterase so that re-uptake of acetylcholin into the synapse is prevented. If you don't give him atropine within half an hour after exposure nothing in the world will save your brother!"
Suddenly John was extremely nauseous and only just managed to look away from Mycroft when he started vomiting violently. He vaguely noticed somebody catching him when he passed out.