John tried to fight himself back into consciousness, because he felt that there was some important reason to be conscious. What was it? He simply couldn't remember.
After some time the sounds became clearer and John noticed they were voices, quite a few of them. Nevertheless, he couldn't figure out who they belonged to. There was a throbbing pain in his head and he felt nauseous.
Suddenly he remembered and it sent a flash through his body: Sherlock!
He had been poisoned with a nerve agent! Its production was generally dangerous and needed special laboratories. How the hell did Sherlock get into contact with a nerve agent? Oh, …the petri-dish!
John struggled into consciousness and felt an IV attached to his hand as well as electrodes fixed on his chest. So, one of the beeping sounds was recording his own heartbeat. Why did he have an IV and a heart monitor attached to him? He took a deep breath and noticed that he was also wearing a breathing mask. He had apparently blacked out, but why did he need all the medical equipment?
The other beeps – were they Sherlock's? John hoped that they wouldn't belong to somebody else having passed out.
"Dr Watson? Can you hear me?" A distant voice called him.
"Hmm..." was all John could utter. He forced his eyes open and found himself in a kind of Sci-Fi-nightmare. The creature above him was wearing a mask, as did all creatures in his vision. No, this wasn't science fiction, this was war – and John was right in the middle of it! Slightly panicking, he tried to look around without moving his aching head too much. Above him they had erected a kind of canopy. John wondered why his vision still seemed to be blurred. He blinked his eyes a couple of times, but noticed then that it wasn't his vision but the room itself that was foggy.
John tried to get sight of Sherlock. He needed to know if Sherlock was alive! He flinched when he tried to support himself on his lower arms. He felt terrible, but his sorrow made him move.
"Sir, it's safe now."
One of the men in full cover nodded slightly and took off the gas mask. It was Mycroft. The mask was by far the strangest thing John had ever seen on the man. The fog in the rooms was settling slowly and the ex-army man figured that they had sprayed Soda to oxidize the nerve agent. As vicious as Tabun was, it was relatively easy to make it inactive.
John slowly turned his head around and saw Sherlock still lying in the same place John had dragged him for resuscitation. He had the same apparatus attached to him as John. He was still incredulously pale, but the beeps were definitely coming from his heart monitor. John sighed with relief and shifted his weight onto one arm, freeing a hand to get rid of the breathing mask. Hewanted to talk to Mycroft and find out more about his flatmate's condition.
"Mycroft." The doctor's voice was still weak, but the addressed mancame up to him and –to John's surprise – crouched down next to him.
"John, welcome back."
"What's all this?" With the breathing mask John pointed down at the cables fixed on his chest.
"You had been exposed to the Tabun, too, although apparently much less than my brother. You were also given a dose of atropine. I do have to thank you for your fast reaction in calling me instantly and in diagnosing what harm had been done to my brother. We do not yet know whether Sherlock will recover, however, every second until the administration of atropine counted. I am very grateful."
This was more than John had ever thought Mycroft would be capable of. He gave the older man a slight smirk to show his appreciation.
"How's he doing?" he managed to ask.
"We can do nothing more to save him apart from trying to keep his breathing and circulation steady. The atropine has worked, yet my brother will go through a good deal of pain and discomfort."
John knew that this had been pure understatement. Further medical treatment that would make the Acetylcholinesterase work again would be necessary. So far only the post-synaptic depolarisation had been interrupted. Sherlock wasn't safe, but at least alive, and the more time passed the better was his chance of survival.
"How long since I called you?"
"One and a half hours."
"Well, that's a good sign, isn't it? Sherlock is still alive after this time. "
"Yes, indeed. We will take the two of you to a clinic now. We think it is safe to transport Sherlock. The team will clean your flat during your recovery."
John nodded and threw a worried glance at Sherlock. Usually Tabun killed within two hours after exposure. However, depending on the dose, it might take longer. But after the three cardiac arrests that Sherlock had survived and the administration of atropine, the ex-army doctor was convinced that Mycroft's men had arrived just in time to save the Consulting detective.
Both John and Sherlock were lifted onto a stretcher and taken to a van. The car didn't look like an ambulance, though, and the medical equipment inside did not resemble that provided in a normal ambulance. It looked like an intensive care unit with everything you could think of. There were three places for stretchers on the sides. John and Sherlock were put in view of each other. The doctor felt safe and felt that Sherlock would be safe too. So, he closed his eyes and let himself drift into a welcome unconsciousness again.