While struggling into full consciousness, John again heard beeps in two slightly different tones, but this time the pace wasn't as distinct as it had been the last time he had heard them after Sherlock's last resuscitation and his own collapse. With fluttering eyelids, John finally managed to open his eyes and was greeted by dazzling white. John flinched, the bright lights stabbing his eyes painfully.
Immediately, the light in the room was dimmed. John turned his head and saw a man dressed in white alongside Mycroft, who was looking at him. Behind the two there was another bed, and there was Sherlock, still motionless, lying bare-chested and attached to a lot of tubes and cables. John couldn't see his flatmate's face, however, he recognised him by his distinctive profile. The two men were standing in front of the upper part of his bed and blocking his view.
"Good morning, John, we sensed the light might be slightly uncomfortable. We hope this is better for you," Mycroft said with the faintest hint of a smirk.
"Morning?" John's voice was slightly croaky and he tried to clear it. "You sure 'bout 'morning'?"
"Oh, yes, you were unconscious for quite a while. But don't worry, you will be fine."
John blinked his eyes – he hadn't realised that he'd been out cold for so long.
"How's he doing?" John lifted his head as much as the pain in it allowed him toand pointed in Sherlock's direction.
"Thanks to your diagnosis, Dr Watson, he has survived. He has not regained consciousness, yet, and he is still in danger of seizures. His vital signs, however, are stable for the time being, but we'll only know if he's over the worst when he wakes up. Plus, … he has got a few broken ribs due to the CPM you carried out on him," the man next to Mycroft informed John.
"I see," John said weakly, relieved that at least Sherlock was still alive and not in immediate danger any more. He didn't have to feel guilty about the broken ribs, which could hardly have been avoided under such circumstances.
Mycroft pierced John with his gaze, then, raising an eyebrow, said, "I was right, wasn't I?"
"Right? About what?"
"You did miss the war. You did very well under these highly stressful circumstances – with the most pleasant outcome that my brother is alive. This little war that you have just gone through has been proof enough."
John found Mycroft's smile slightly creepy and suddenly felt uneasy. He didn't want to hear Mycroft's theory, although he had to admit to himself that there had to be at least a little truth in it. The exhausted man let his head fall onto the cushion again without commenting on what Mycroft had just stated as a matter of fact. Why couldn't that git just let him be? And yet, his war experiences, his instinctive acting under stress and his specific knowledge about chemical weapons had saved his friend's life.
John changed the subject.
"Where are we?"
"You are in, let's say, a private clinic under the best treatment and surveillance that you can imagine."
"Surveillance?" John asked disbelievingly.
"You have just survived a nerve gas attack! What do you expect?"
John realized that, again, Mycroft was indeed correct, so he weakly responded with a grumbled "Yeah." Mycroft's ability to see through people and to state obvious, yet unpleasant facts was almost as good as Sherlock's.
Despite Mycroft's annoying coldness and disdain, John was convinced that he had spoken nothing but the truth at their second meeting, after John had saved Sherlock's life for the first time. He was concerned. To be fair, he did state it on a regular basis; however, since he didn't show it emotionally, it was hardly believable. Apparently, his way of showing his concern was to provide everything that was necessary to save his brother's life; and this time John was really glad that Mycroft did occupy a "minor" position in the British government, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to save Sherlock and maybe also himself.
"We will let you rest now, John, but I do have questions! I will get back on you later. Dr Smith, here, will take care of you and my brother. If there is anything that you need, let him know. I have to excuse myself, since I am currently occupied with most urgent matters. Get better, John." Mycroft bade him good-bye and left.
Dr Smith patted John's shoulder, threw a last glance at Sherlock, and followed Mycroft.
Rooms tended to become too small when Mycroft was in them, his presence filling every cubic centimetre; therefore, John was relieved that he was on his own, finally being able to get a full look of Sherlock.
He was still as white as the sheets, but despite the ordeal that he had gone through, his face looked quite peaceful. At least, John thought, he isn't in pain. He felt the urge to talk to his roommate, but didn't really know what to say. So, he simply stated what was troubling him most.
"Sherlock, do me a favour, will you? – NEVER EVER … SCARE ME… TO DEATH AGAIN! Did you get that?!"
John was surprised that he had actually yelled at Sherlock. And yet, the regular beeping was the only reply he got.
John felt his throat become narrow and had to fight back tears. What was the matter with him? He'd been such a wet blanket lately! That was - annoying! He had to admit, though, that he had really been terrified by the thought of possibly losing Sherlock. Plus, the really horrifying thing, which made his hair stand on end, was that the person who had tried to kill Sherlock once, would probably and very likely try it again.
Another thought suddenly crossed John's mind: was it possible that he himself had even been the target? John reckoned that, as opposed to Sherlock, he simply didn't have enemies other than probably Moriarty, who considered John Sherlock's pet. Killing somebody's pet would very likely hurt its master, so maybe that had been the intended outcome. If the Consulting Criminal had been the source of the poisonous petri-dish, even the most outlandish ideas had to be taken into account, since that man was a vicious and dangerous lunatic!
However, John had a distinct feeling that, most likely, he himself hadn't been the target of this attack, because usually he wouldn't touch Sherlock's experiments.
John sighed and contemplated what had happened: Sherlock's behaviour when John had got home from the grocery shopping had been very strange. He was sure that if Sherlock hadn't been under the influence of the toxic substance, he would have been able to tell him instantly what the petri-dish had contained. He was sure that under these circumstances Sherlock wouldn't have wanted to play games with him. He knew that John simply didn't have the Consulting Detective's ability to deduce things. John had sensed from the words Sherlock had uttered, though, that his flatmate still had to have been aware that the ex-army doctor would have specific knowledge about nerve gases. After all, he was also sure that Sherlock hadn't simply retreated to his bedroom to die a lonely death, so why had he run off? Had he simply been out of his mind? Probably he hadn't been aware of the fact that Tabun worked so quickly.
Yet, the crucial questions remained how the petri-dish had found its way into their flat and, of course, how the nerve-agent had got into the respective petri-dish. John was drained. Despite having taken all the available and obvious facts into consideration, there were still so many open questions, but John couldn't deduce the answers – he just wasn't Sherlock Holmes!