John resisted the first impulse to throw away his crutches and run to his friend, knowing that his leg wouldn't carry him. Instead, he limped over to him as fast as he could, crouching down beside him laboriously and ignoring the searing pain in his limb.
"Sherlock! What's wrong?!" he yelled, panic spreading in his guts. He had often told people not to yell at unconscious patients as the volume didn't make any difference, but now he couldn't avoid the shrill pitch of his voice. The reflection of terror in Sherlock's eyes had shocked the ex-army man deeply as it had reminded him of the young soldiers he hadn't been able to rescue. It had resembled the look of those who had been hit by bullets or shell splinter, afraid of the inevitable. The feelings of despair and helplessness not to be able to save those young men, who hadn't lived their lives yet and hadn't been prepared to die, had left indelible marks in John's heart and he was horrified to see the same expression on his friend's face.
Collecting himself, he checked Sherlock's vitals and, to his greatest relief, found that the Consulting Detective's condition was stable. He felt the blood pulsating fast but regularly in the younger man's carotid, and the breathing was slightly flat, but not alarmingly so. The doctor patted his friend's cheeks, feeling the cold sweat on Sherlock's skin. He called his name repeatedly, and after seemingly endless minutes, his eyelids started fluttering and he moaned quietly.
"Come on, mate, wake up! We don't want to go back to hospital, do we?" John exclaimed, scanning the room for Sherlock's mobile. He knew that his was in his room – too far away to reach for an emergency call. The man in front of him slowly opened his eyes and John was again struck by the look in them. Sherlock's face was screwed up in an expression of pain, a deep line drawn between his brows. His eyes were glistening, mirroring something that John couldn't really grasp. The pain didn't seem to be physical, though, since there was no reaction when he palpated his friend's body.
Sherlock inhaled and exhaled deeply, and even more so with every breath he took. "Sherlock," he called his friend, "talk to me! What's wrong with you? You remember something, don't you? Talk to me!"
The Consulting Detective finally managed to focus his gaze on his flatmate.
"Every...thing," he whispered with some effort. His voice sounded strange, almost panic-stricken, and something cold went through John's body. He remembered - and the doctor had a vague feeling that "everything" was much more than Sherlock had wanted or imagined to remember, and probably more than he could cope with.
"Everything?" he probed and took his friend's pulse again, which turned out to have quickened a lot.
"Yes," Sherlock exhaled, his breath coming more raggedly.
"OK, mate, breathe with me, right? Breathe with me! You're hyperventilating. Exhale! ...two...three, inhale... two, exhale... two, three..." John instructed his flatmate and slowly Sherlock's breath evened out. John looked at him intently.
"Can you talk to me?"
Sherlock looked back at John, his gaze somewhat wild. He was lying with his back on the floor just as he had dropped there, his arms spread, his legs slightly bent, both knees pointing into one direction.
"I... remember... every... single... detail... of...everything!" Sherlock uttered, strained.
"Your mind palace?" John asked carefully, dreading the answer.
"I... don't know... inaccessible... not there."
John realised that he had been right about the "cracks" in Sherlock's mind palace, whose existence Mycroft had incomprehensibly attempted to deny, but had been obvious to John. Moreover, the mental palace had apparently been completely destroyed and the little things Sherlock had remembered during his state of amnesia had been foreshadowing that this would happen. John didn't have the faintest idea as to the explanation of it on a neurological level and even less so what it had to be like to be washed over by the recall of your whole life. Whatever there had been in Sherlock Holmes' past, his abduction was one event that John knew had been tormenting his friend in a way that it had almost killed him, and he was afraid that its memories could have the exact same effect even some twenty-five years later. He could only guess what other distressing events there had been in the life of the thirty-something man who had been fighting his own war long before the time he had been sharing the flat with John. A freshly present memory of all the things the Consulting Detective had gone through in his life could still be nothing but painful. Although Sherlock was grown up now and his reason was normally wiping away any notion of fear, his facial expression had told John otherwise. The blast of memories made it seemingly impossible for the younger Holmes to control his fear. They needed help – once more.
"Sherlock, listen, I have to get my phone to get someone here to help me. I can barely walk myself, let alone get you into your bed. So stay put for a moment, will you?"
"Help is already here," they heard Mycroft's voice from the door. John jumped, but Sherlock only closed his eyes for a second, impossible for John to say whether with irritation or relief.
"Not that I'm unhappy that you're here, Mycroft, but you will give me a heart attack one of these days! Can't you at least knock?!" the doctor ranted. He stared at the older Holmes, the expression of relief on his face proving his outburst a fake. "I really can't remember having given you a key, so how did you again get in?" he added, shaking his head.
"Wouldn't a knock on the door have the same effect?" Mycroft returned the question smugly. "I haven't come to discuss your heart problems, John, but I think you and my brother need a helping hand."
Sherlock was still flat on the floor. The terrified expression on his face, however, had been replaced by the rather familiar expression of annoyance.
"I should have known you had the flat bugged," the younger Holmes stated, his voice still strained.
"You couldn't have known that, Sherlock, you didn't know anything, but from your statement I imagine, your memories have come back at least partially," his brother replied.
"So just cameras, no microphones," Sherlock stated plainly, still not moving. Mycroft raised the edges of his mouth, which John interpreted as a small smile of probably relief about the return of his brother's memories. John sensed that he wouldn't be all too happy when he got to know the whole truth.
Mycroft stepped out of the way of two doctors, who entered the room hurriedly, one of whom walked over to Sherlock, while the other one helped John up and led him to an armchair before examining the leg.
"Don't touch me!" the Consulting Detective yelled all of a sudden with an impressively strong voice. "Leave me alone – I'm fine!"
Mycroft raised his eyebrows, watching his brother with a hint of surprise. He was standing in the middle of the room, his hands resting on the handle of his umbrella.
"Brother dear, it really appears to me as if you needed somebody's hand right now. You have just survived a shot to your head and with that fact in mind, fainting is nothing I would consider harmless in the first place."
"Don't. Touch. Me!" Sherlock hissed in the direction of the doctor, his eyes, however, fixed on his brother, who had stepped up to the younger man. He was glaring daggers at the older Holmes.
John was sitting in the armchair, watching the two. He had no idea as to why Sherlock was refusing the doctor's help when he had accepted his.
"Sherlock," he intervened, "let the doctor help you. Mycroft is right, fainting isn't good. Maybe it's more than the return of your memories."
"Don't touch me!" he repeated, his voice dangerously low.
The respective doctor was visibly torn between doing his duty, risking a punch from an awkward patient, and withdrawing. He wouldn't dare, though, as long as Mycroft hadn't given his consent, so he was looking alternately to his boss and his younger brother. A curt nod from the former made him step back.
"Wait within reach." Mycroft briefly instructed the two.
After they had left the flat, the older Holmes bent down to his brother, offering him a hand, which the younger man didn't accept.
"Can't... move," Sherlock brought out between gritted teeth, and both John and Mycroft exclaimed in unison, "What?"
In fact, since he had dropped to the floor, Sherlock hadn't moved at all. John reached for his crutches hectically and got up from the armchair as fast as possible. Mycroft knelt down, and just as he went to touch his brother's shoulder, the man shouted, "DON'T!"
"Sherlock, what is it?" the doctor asked worriedly, limping towards his friend.
"It... hurts. Everything hurts," the lanky man admitted sheepishly.
John had eventually reached the two men. He looked down on his friend and wished once more that his leg wasn't such an obstacle.
"'Everything hurts' is slightly too generic. Can you be a little more precise? You didn't feel any pain when I examined you, did you?"
It was Mycroft who answered John's questions. "It's nothing specific, John. It is allodynia, isn't it, Sherlock?" He seemed to scrutinize his brother, his face a display of worry and sympathy as well as something dangerous John couldn't really grasp but had seen quite frequently during the last weeks. It apparently was Mycroft's protective instinct.
"Allodynia?" John asked disbelievingly. "Have you had that before?" John had only heard of people suffering from the increased neuronal response due to stimuli that didn't cause any response in a healthy person. A person with allodynia, however, felt pain where others felt a slight breath, if at all. It explained why Sherlock didn't want to be touched and couldn't move.
It was again Mycroft who reacted. "Yes, he did. Back then." John knew he was referring to the time after the abduction. Turning to Sherlock, the older Holmes asked quietly, and with a surprisingly soft voice, "You remember some terrible things, don't you?"
"I remember everything." Sherlock whispered, looking his brother straight into the eyes. John could once again see the terror in his friend's features.
"But... I examined you, palpated you. Why didn't you say anything, Sherlock?" John wanted to know. He was confused that Sherlock hadn't complained at all when he had examined him, as he knew that he generally hated being touched anyway and the examination could have been nothing else but real torture with this kind of neurological disorder.
"It had only been... developing." Sherlock whispered under his breath, closing his eyes slowly.
John simply didn't know what to do. This was nothing he had dealt with before. He felt the urge to hold Sherlock like a suffering child, knowing that it was probably the worst thing he could do with a hypersensitive body and a character like Sherlock's in general. They would need the help of one of Mycroft's staff to administer some medication that would reduce the neurological malfunction. John looked at Mycroft.
"For a start, he needs Lidocaine against the allodynia. We need to get him off the floor. And then, Mycroft, you should give your people hell and get this Tobias here!"
"We've already found him." Mycroft replied, however without any relief in his voice, and John sensed that wasn't good news.
"He's dead. Has been for
more than ten years. He had emigrated to South America, that's why we lost