Crucial

4 May, 2015

Tuesday, 5 May, 2015
221b Baker Street

A startled gasp.

A pained groan.

Don't panic. Breathe. Just a quick kip. Get your bearings before you open your eyes.

You are: Capt... Doctor John H. Watson.

Surroundings: Smells of tea (variety: black, Darjeeling) and chemicals (variety: who in God's name actually knows right now), sound of traffic outside, overly warm. Home. 221b. Baker Street. London. Further climate assessment needed.

Injured.

Physical assessment: Nobody has time for all that. Product of physical assault by criminal. No... two criminals.

Sherlock.

Status: Not dead.

Location: Oh. Right. Excessive heat quandary resolved.

Waking factor: Footsteps ascending stairs to residence. Steady, no hesitation. Rule out Mrs. Hudson. Male, efficient gait, heavy soled shoes (also efficient). Rule out Mycroft. Conclusion, Greg.

Employ tactical defense in three... two...

"Go on ahead and take the picture. Not even Molly and all of the equipment she has access to in the mortuary will be able to extract that mobile from where I'm going to put it." John opened one eye in time to see Greg hovering in the doorway to the flat, Sherlock's freshly cleaned great coat draped over his arm, mobile at the ready.

"Come over here and say that." Greg's grin was the very definition of devious. He snapped the photo, took two steps closer and snapped two more. "For posterity's sake."

"I swear to God, Greg," John hissed, but his tirade was cut short when Sherlock, who had not only fallen asleep, but remained wrapped around John's midsection, began to stir. "Sherlock? Hey, Sherlock, Greg's here." John spoke softly, not wanting to startle his friend.

"Nnggnnghhh," Sherlock mumbled as he somehow managed to bury his face into John's side, twist around and draw his legs up until he was in a tight ball with his back to Greg, all without releasing his arms from around John.

John huffed. "It's no good. The lanky idiot's had me tethered to the couch now for... What time is it anyway? I haven't even seen my phone since yesterday. It's over..." He motioned noncommittally with his left hand towards his arm chair and the backpack still sitting on the floor from yesterday. "Somewhere."

Greg draped his jacket over the back of one of the chairs, and dug through John's backpack until he found the mobile. "It's about 11:30 AM now. Yeah, it's dead. Let me plug it in. Probably just as well, I imagine you were spared a lot of prying." He plugged it in near the couch, despite the fact that John wouldn't be able to reach it even if he needed to. Taking advantage of his close proximity, Greg turned quickly and snapped a close up of the consulting detective snuggling his blogger.

"God, I hate you right now!" John laughed. He managed to pull a pillow out from behind his back and flung it at the D.I., but in his current abused and entangled state, his aim was less than perfect and Greg just grinned as he easily managed to catch the cushion.

"It's nothing personal John, at least against you. After the whole scene with Sherlock in his boxers at the train yard yesterday, he has to know I'm going to take every bit of revenge I can get. You're just... collateral damage." Greg shrugged. "Besides, I think I just won the Sherlock and John office pool." With a wink Greg turned to pull up a chair.

John's aim was better this time, and his friend ended up with a mushy bag of no-longer-frozen peas against the back of his head. "Oops," John attempted his best wasn't me face.

"Real mature, yeah?" with a laugh Greg scooped up the bag and examined it with some curiosity. "Peas?"

"Frozen peas. For ice packs. Sherlock always destroys the gel ones."

"Well, this one is a little on the... mushy warm side." Greg frowned. "You got more in the freezer? I'll change these out for you." Without waiting for a response he gathered all of John's cold packs and headed to the kitchen. "Let me guess, lima beans?"

"We'll make a detective of you yet! But yeah, they're Sherlock-proof," laughed John. "Mind grabbing a glass of water too? Past due for pain meds. Starting to feel it."

"Sure thing." Returning to the sitting room, Greg set the water out of the way as he wrapped the refrozen-and-only-slightly-mushy lima beans. He handed one to John for his shoulder, and plumping the cushion the doctor had his right leg propped on, he arranged the cold packs on his knee and ankle. He noticed a discarded half-eaten scone and an untouched cup of long cold tea within John's reach.

Well, they would have been within John's reach if not for the boa constrictor hold his dead-to-the-world flat mate had on him.

Greg narrowed his eyes and gave John an appraising once over. John squirmed under the scrutiny. Or, he would have squirmed if every movement wasn’t excruciating, not to mention restrained by Sherlock. "You look bloody awful, mate. Like death warmed over. The bruises on your face are alot worse than yesterday."

Detecting the accusatory tone in Greg's voice, John raised an eyebrow. "Right. Thanks for that then. Kinda feeling that way right now too. You mind?" John pointed to the bottle of pills on the coffee table.

"You're not supposed to take these on an empty stomach. When's the last time you ate?" Greg looked pointedly from John to the abandoned breakfast on the table.

"I...uhm." John stuttered. The D.I. rolled his eyes, twisted open the medication, and tipped two pills into John's hand. John had dry swallowed the pills before Greg could retrieve the water, but he handed him the glass anyway.

"Drink." Greg demanded. John managed a few gulps, and handed the glass back to the detective. Greg picked up the half eaten scone, shoved it into John's hand, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Eat that. I'll get the tea started." He picked up the cold tea from the table and stepped toward the kitchen. John groaned. "No. No arguments," Greg spun around. "If you're going to heal properly, you've to take care of yourself..."

Buried against John's side, Sherlock mumbled something again. It sounded very much like, "dyuooshup."

John gently shook Sherlock's shoulder. "Hey, what was that? Sherlock? We couldn't hear you."

With a groan, Sherlock tilted his face to look up at John. "I said 'Would you two shut up?'" With that he tucked his face back into John's side, as if it were the most natural position in the world. Greg snorted. John exhaled sharply, once again finding himself indebted to the bruising on his face for concealing the fact that he was blushing.

John's embarrassment was quickly overcome in the next moment.

Sherlock would refer to the event for years to come as the time his transport tried to kill John. John would, for years to come, counter with the fact that if Sherlock didn't stop being an idiot and bloody well get some sleep, the transport was going to kill itself.

It was reflexive, really.

Sherlock's mind had slipped back into the haze of post-case exhaustion, and had effectively surrendered dominance to the baser needs of the transport.

At that very moment, all the transport knew was that the mind had acquiesced control, and was happily curled in sleep next to an exquisite source of warmth and comfort that seemed to put both mind and body at ease. The only need the transport had was to get as close to this serenity as possible.

John tensed immediately as Sherlock, lost in sleep, shifted higher up his torso to rest his head on his chest, very near his heart.

A little extra pressure on the cracked ribs; spleen could be better. Not so bad. It's fine. I'm fine. We're fine. It's all fine. John gauged his breathing -- as long as he still could, he figured he'd be alright at least for a little while.

Greg snorted. Again.

And then those lanky vice grips Sherlock called arms tracked slightly upward as well, and clutched more fervently around John in an instinctive effort to draw ever closer to the source of warmth.

Unfortunately Sherlock's embrace now pressed directly over John's bruised internal organs and weighed heavily across several of the cracked ribs. Not fine. Everything is not fine. Oh God. Oh God. Not fine. John's mind screamed. Physically screaming seemed like it would only make everything worse. His entire focus placed on not screaming meant John had little control over his good left leg, which tried to vault him away from the danger, but in reality only jarred the rest of his aching body. "Sh-sher...lock!" John managed to gasp.

"Shhh," mumbled the sleeping Sherlock as he pressed a little closer into John's warmth.

John couldn't have screamed if he had wanted to. His vision flashed white with the new wave of pain, and he squeezed his eyes shut. No longer focused on not screaming, or anything else for that matter, he attempted to keep himself breathing. He was failing miserably considering the already limited lung capacity thanks to six broken ribs; he could only manage very short, very shallow, very erratic breaths. Somewhere in his cache of medical knowledge he knew he was going to lose consciousness in a few short minutes.

Frankly, it didn't matter. Might even be preferable.

To his credit, Greg did not overreact by launching himself across the coffee table and forcibly removing Sherlock, realizing immediately that the ensuing struggle would only cause more harm to John. He did, however, overreact by tossing the full cup of tea away from him (and on to Mrs. Hudson's clean area rug... there would be consequences), shouting a string of profanities John would have ordinarily applauded for their colorful creativity, shoving the coffee table out of the way (mindful of John's leg, of course), and roaring at Sherlock to wake up.

Sherlock stirred, but true to form, failed to respond.

"John? John you have to keep breathing. Can you slow it down any?" Greg had crouched down in front of John and, despite the fact that he was feeling rather frantic, held the doctor's face in his hands and spoke with as much calm as he could muster. His mind raced to find a way to dislodge John from Sherlock's grip without causing the injured man any further harm. He had very nearly settled on a tactic (a late addition to his list of Ways to Save John Watson, number 108: Suffocate Sherlock Holmes. He could see that one having multiple applications, honestly), when John, nearing the end of his pain and oxygen deprivation endurance, attempted to plead with the comatose Sherlock one more time.

All he could summon was a whimper.

So, John Watson whimpered.

It was weak, and broken, and terrified.

Greg's heart lurched at the sound.

Small as it was, there was urgency in the plea that found its way through Sherlock's hibernation and forced his mind to resurface. John whimpered.

John.

Sherlock's eyes flew open. He stared up at the odd angle of John's face, vision bleary with sleep. Focus. FOCUS. John's eyes were screwed tight shut.Tense, not asleep. Below him, Sherlock could hear John's heart racing. Too fast. Why is John's pulse so high? He could feel the too rapid, too shallow rise and fall of John's chest. Breathe, John.

"John?"

No response. Just breathing. Almost as if all of John's effort was in that one action.

Oh God.

OH God. John.

"Slowly now, Sherlock," Lestrade instructed. He placed a firm hand on each of Sherlock's arms, and urged him to release the grip he had on John.

OH GOD.

Ignoring Lestrade's pleas, Sherlock scrambled hard away from John, to the far end of the couch, until he was able to perch on the opposite arm rest.

"God, Sherlock! What the..." Lestrade was ready to tear into the clearly shaken man when John suddenly groaned in agony and lurched forward. Lestrade's hands were quickly out, gently supporting his friend. "John? John. C'mon mate." John's breathing had slowed down, but was still too shallow. Greg checked for a pulse. Entirely too weak. With a shout and string of curses, Greg tried once more to rouse the now limp man. The only response to the outburst was from a stunned Mrs. Hudson, who, having heard the commotion had rushed upstairs to check on her boys.

"Detective Inspector Lestrade, what is the meaning of this?" The diminutive landlady stormed up to Greg's back, prepared to give him a piece of her mind, but was stopped short. "Oh! Oh dear. John! Sherlock? Sherlock, what's happened?" She turned fear filled eyes to the consulting detective.

Still balanced precariously on the arm rest, Sherlock had drawn his knees up, and sat clutching a pillow to his chest. He worried his bottom lip with his teeth, and tears rimmed his eyes. "I..." with a sob he stumbled from the room and disappeared behind a slammed door.

"Son of a..." Greg caught Mrs. Hudson's eye, and sheepishly let the vulgarities drop with a murmured an apology. "I think John's in trouble, Mrs. H. I have to get him laid out flat. On the floor will be best... Just... Just in case." John was still breathing, but Greg had to prepare for anything... CPR included. "John's phone is right over there on the window sill, would you please ring 999? And... Uhm..."

"Don't worry, dear. I'll open the doors. You help John."

A sigh of relief, and Greg set to work. He scooped John off the couch, and gently laid him out flat on the floor. He placed a pillow under his friend's head, and then propped up his legs. Kneeling, Greg checked John's pulse once more, and then placed a hand on his chest just to feel the rise and fall. "C'mon John. You gotta wake up. I need you to breathe mate. CPR with those banged up ribs will hurt like hell, and I don't know if I can do that. Don't make me find out. Your pulse is still too low, John. And you're getting clammy. Don't you dare go into shock. Do you hear me, John Watson? You're the doctor here, you know what needs to happen." Greg grabbed a throw blanket from the couch, tucked it around John, and sat back on his heels to wait.

"I knew it was a bad idea for you to leave the hospital yesterday. God, John, you idiot. You know better than this." Greg had the distinct feeling he was being hawkishly watched. He didn't even turn around. "Sherlock, you decent? Mrs. H called for an ambulance."

"What were you talking about?" Sherlock's voice was low with a dangerous rumble. John had once called it his murdery voice. As the one on the receiving end, Greg had to agree with the assessment.

Greg swore under his breath, and in an effort to deflect Sherlock's ire, he checked John's pulse again. "Oi, mate, that's not very encouraging. Come on John. I need you to respond to me, let me know you're in there. God, where is that ambulance?" His mind raced, he needed to get a rise out of John. Oh God. Number 109 was a really, really bad idea. With a quick look at the stairwell to ensure Mrs. Hudson wasn't nearby, Greg took a deep breath, and glanced to make certain Sherlock was watching him.

He was. Arms crossed. Glaring. Waiting impatiently for Greg to answer his question.

At least he was dressed.

"John, I'm sorry..." Greg whispered. He scooted back a little from his prone friend, leaned across him, and mercilessly pressed down on John's abused shoulder. The unconscious doctor gasped, taking in the deepest breath he'd managed in several minutes. There was barely time for the D.I. to locate a pulse before he heard Sherlock launch himself across the room. Fighting every natural impulse, he let himself go limp as the enraged Sherlock tackled him with a feral roar.

Startled, John inhaled deeply, and with a cough whispered "Sherlock?" He wrapped his left arm protectively across his abdomen.

Sherlock released Greg's throat. "Alright, John? Are you alright?" He untangled himself from Greg and knelt next to John's left shoulder. "John?" Taking John's left hand in his own left hand, he gingerly placed his right hand on John's forehead; the chill and pallor of the doctor's skin was more than a little unnerving. John opened his eyes and tried to focus on Sherlock's face. He furled his brow, and shook his head "no" ever so slightly.

"Ambulance is here, Sherlock," Greg grunted as he pushed himself up off the floor. He patted Sherlock's shoulder. "Nicely done, mate." The consulting detective looked up at him perplexed. "I'll explain later. Let the medics get in here."

Shrugging away from Greg's hand, Sherlock leaned down to John. "You promised me yesterday you weren't dying. I'm holding you to that, John Watson. Do you hear me? You tricked me into saying I love you once, I won't do it again."

John attempted a breathless laugh, and winced in pain. He freed his hand from Sherlock's and tried to push his friend away. "'M fine. Spleen. Easy."

"Hey Doc," a young medic stepped into the flat, ahead of two others bringing a gurney up the steps with practiced ease. Of course, this wasn't their first visit to 221b. A newbie followed them cautiously into the sitting room. "Mrs. H. was just telling us you've had a bit of bad luck. We're just gonna take you and let a doctor take a look okay?" John nodded weakly, and closed his eyes. "Okay, Doc, none of that now." He squatted next to John, and felt for a pulse. Maintaining his propriety, he kept his tone light and soothing, but worry crept into his eyes. "Mr. Hol... Sherlock, did he say what he thought the problem was?"

"Spleen. He had a bruised spleen, but he mentioned it just as you were coming in. Could be a rupture. Or a bleed. Oh God. GOD. I... John, please..." Sherlock stood abruptly, and stumbled back into Greg.

"Calm down, Sherlock. It's going to be okay. Let's let them get John squared away. You gather up anything you might need, and we'll follow them to the hospital. I'll even use the lights and sirens, yeah?" Greg turned Sherlock so he could look him in the eyes, and held him up by the shoulders. "Not your fault, you hear me? This is on that monster Spaulding. And to some degree, that bloody incompetent A & E doctor who let John convince him he was well enough to be released. But not you."

Sherlock really was a mess if Lestrade knew what he was thinking.

With a quick nod, Sherlock silently looked around the room, grabbed John's backpack from the day before and shoved the John binder and laptop into it. As an after thought he added his own binder and the tin of Mrs. Hudson's scones. Greg smiled at that. Anything the dear lady made really did seem to have mystical restorative powers.

"Detective?" The young medic stood. "We going to Bart's? We need to move; we'll get him stabilized in the bus. If this is a bleed..."

Greg glanced at Sherlock, who looked altogether shattered. "Yes. Bart's. We'll follow. Do whatever you have to, okay? Just get him there." The other medics nodded and hustled out the door with John in tow. "Joe?" The young medic looked up from packing his kit. "The new guy, he was there wasn't he? At the shopping center yesterday? He's the one..."

Joe smiled, "If you're going to be introduced to the Doc for the first time, is there really any other way?" He grabbed his kit and dashed after the others.

"Mrs. Hudson, are you coming with?" Greg hadn't realized she'd followed the medics up. She sat quitely in John's chair, turning John's phone over and over in her hands.

"I think I'll stay here for now, dear. Tidy up a bit maybe." Her face was etched with worry, but she turned to Sherlock with a smile. "Don't you worry, Sherlock. John's strong. He'll be right as rain soon enough. Try not to fret too much..." She was cut short when Sherlock stooped down to kiss her cheek and wrap her in a tight embrace. "Right, off you two go now. Go look after our John." Mrs. Hudson handed Sherlock John's mobile, and patted his back, urging him toward the door.

Ducking down, Greg placed his own kiss on her cheek. "I'm sorry about the tea, Mrs. Hudson. I'll stop by later and clean it up."

"Don't give it a second thought, dear. You can do it tomorrow." She winked up at him and patted his hand. Were those tears in her eyes? "Thank you Greg. I don't know how you do it, but you just keep saving my boys."

Greg cleared his throat, and blinked back his own emotions. "I wouldn't have it any other way."


Wednesday, 6 May, 2015
St Bart's Hospital
Patient Room: Watson, John H
.

"Watson, you bloody well are the worst patient I've ever had. What on God's green earth were you thinking?" Doctor Matt MacGregor burst into John's hospital room with an unexpected jolt of energy. His light framed, low backed wheelchair made it possible for him to get directly up next to the right side of the bed as he glanced over John's chart. "Seriously John, what kind of an idiot refuses to be admitted with all of... this..." He waved his hand to indicate John's general poor condition. "And you being a doctor," he tsk'd. "No wonder I'm stuck in this chair."

"Oi! Watch it, Doctor, that's no way to speak to the weak and infirm," Greg winked. "Matt, how are you?" He stood and shook the doctor's hand.

"Greg," Matt grinned. "I'd be better if the good doctor would at least make an effort to act like he doesn't have a death wish."

"I hate you both. You know that, right?" John made a valiant effort to appear hurt. "Jerks." With that he laughed, but only briefly, as the exertion was too much for his incision, and gave way to a hastily strung together curse laden diatribe. He pressed a pillow into his side and groaned.

"I fail to see the humor in this situation. John was brutally attacked, and as a result has had to have his spleen removed," Sherlock condescended. His efforts to appear detached and calculating thwarted by the uncomfortable nature of the molded plastic chair he occupied and the concern creased across his brow.

"Ah, Sherlock Holmes I presume? It's a pleasure, I've heard so much about you!" Doctor MacGregor thrust his hand out across John's bed eagerly.

"Doctor Matt MacGregor. I wish I could say the same. I only just learned of your existence two days ago, under rather unfavorable circumstances." The consulting detective gave the doctor a scrutinizing look, and then glared at John.

"Sherlock." Even in a hospital bed, broken, battered, and drugged, John's Captain Watson voice was one of very few things that could compell Sherlock Holmes to unwilling action. With a sigh, Sherlock warily shook the doctor's outstretched hand.

"Mr. Holmes..."

"Sherlock, please."

"Very well, please call me Matt. Sherlock, I... this is awkward... can you, would you, maybe, do the thing?" Matt grinned sheepishly. Sherlock cocked an eyebrow questioningly.

"Oh God," covering his face with both hands, Greg groaned.

John cursed under his breath. "You can't be serious."

"I'm sorry? 'Do the thing?'" Releasing the handshake, Sherlock shifted his chair closer to the bed and levelled a precision gaze in the doctor's direction.

"You know, the deductions? I was just..."

"Matt, just shut up. He's already started." Shaking his head, John rolled his eyes. "This is your own fault."

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, interrupted only by the beeps and hums of the monitors keeping track of John's vitals.

Matt cleared his throat. "Ok, well..."

"You're younger than John, but only a couple of years. Two years. John mentioned that he knew you in university, that you were friends. I dare say there was a bit of idol worship on your part, at least to begin with." Sherlock narrowed his eyes at Matt, who was blushing and avoiding eye contact with John.

John huffed a laugh. "Too right. God, I thought you were annoying the first few times we met."

Clearly pleased with himself, Sherlock smirked and continued. "You don't carry yourself with a military bearing. It's unlikely that there is much military history in your family, and that being the case, it was never your original intention to join the military. You joined after September 11th, but not out of some misguided duty to Queen and Country, in support of our allies. No, your reasons were personal. You lost someone. No military history, so not anyone at the Pentagon. Someone in New York, in the towers on that day. Someone close enough to impact you deeply. Not a sibling, you're clearly an only child. So a friend... No, a significant other. You lost your fiancée that day."

A hesitant nod and a stunned blink was all the response Matt could manage. Greg shifted uncomfortably and attempted to intercede on the doctor's behalf. "Ok, Sherlock, that's probably enough for now..."

"But there's still the matter of his injury. John mentioned they served a full tour together, which means his injury was sustained during his second tour. Was it an IED? You lost your left leg below the knee, but the reason you're in the chair is due to the spinal trauma. You wear a prosthesis purely for the sake of your own vanity."

"Sherlock." The consulting detective looked up at the warning in John's tone. "I think that'll do."

"Wow... Uhm, so," Matt stumbled over his words. "I was thinking you'd, I don't know, tell me what I'd had for breakfast, or I don't know, what my wife's favorite shade of lipstick is." He laughed nervously. "You're right John, that was remarkable. Really, brilliant Mr. Holmes. Spot on."

With a sideways glance at John's cautioning expression, Sherlock sighed. "My apologies for any discomfort, and for overstepping any socially constructed boundaries of propriety." His mouth quirked upwards slightly. "Also, turkey bacon with eggs scrambled poorly by your young daughter, and I believe your wife's current shade is Charmed."

Matt laughed outright. "Oh God. Right. No apologies necessary, I did bring this on myself." With that he glanced at his watch, "Ah, okay John, I have to get back downstairs. I've got patients who actually want to be taken care of waiting on me. I'll be back up later, and we'll talk about what course of antibiotics you want to try. And tomorrow you are talking to the orthopedic doctor. I'm not happy with those x-rays of your clavicle, and he agrees. Since you're already in hospital, we're going to get it pieced back together. Don't look at me like that. I know you, and I know you won't sit still long enough to let it heal on its own."

Ignoring John's grumbling, Matt turned to leave. "Greg, once we get Captain Death-Wish here squared away, we need to get a pint. It's been too long. And Sherlock it was... a pleasure." And with a cheeky grin, he was gone as quickly as he had come.

"You sure can pick 'em, John." Greg's laugh was cut short when he caught sight of the intense way Sherlock was staring down his flat mate.

"Antibiotics?" Sherlock's tone was less concerned and more accusatory, which Greg thought inappropriate under the circumstances, though he refrained from pointing it out as he too was curious.

John inhaled deeply, closed his eyes, and exhaled slowly. "The spleen is actually a pretty vital part of the human immune system. It acts as a filter, stores white blood cells and platelets for the body to use in fighting infections, and is the first line of defense against the bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis. Most people who have their spleen removed adjust over time, and their immune system functions just fine. But some patients are more susceptible to infection, and end up taking antibiotics for the rest of their lives. My immune system was pretty well destroyed after I got shot and ended up with those post-op infections. It'll take a while to be certain, but I'm probably going to be on antibiotics indefinitely."

Greg cursed and scrubbed his hand down his face. "God, John. What does that mean for..."

Sherlock stood abruptly with a growl, and kicked his chair back into the wall. He frowned when John winced at the outburst, and then again in pain from the sudden movement. As if frozen place, Sherlock stood beside John's hospital bed, sharp eyes deliberately assessing every centimeter of John's battered and broken form.

"You okay, Sherlock?" John carefully reached out his left hand and brushed his finger tips along his friend's arm. Sherlock wrenched his arm away from John's reach and his eyes went wide as he stepped back from the bed.

Fear.

What did Sherlock have to be afraid of?

"Sherlock, I don't understand. What's happening here?"

"You have to stay away from me John. I... I am not safe. I am going to get you killed. Or worse, I will end up killing you myself... with a mold sample, or something else equally as ridiculous. I can't. I cannot live with the fact that you are perpetually at risk in my presence. I did not spend two and a half years out there," Sherlock swept his arm broadly toward the window, gesturing to the world beyond the hospital walls, "just to come home and watch the life drain out of you simply because you refuse to see that I am a hazard. I'll arrange everything. You just... just stay here, where it's safe."

Stunned silent John and Greg watched as Sherlock shrugged into his great coat and spun around to sweep dramatically out of the room. Greg came to himself first, jumped from his seat, grabbed Sherlock by the wrist and twisted his arm up behind his back.

"You... What are you saying, Sherlock?" Greg's voice resonated with rage, though he kept his tone low. They were in a hospital after all.

Sherlock struggled against Greg and growled, "Isn't it obvious?" The two were poised to start throwing punches when a screaming alarm sounded and two nurses charged into the room.

One nurse dealt with the alarm on the heart monitor then fastened an oxygen mask onto John, as the other checked his pulse and took his blood pressure.

"Doctor Watson? John, are you in pain? Your heart rate got a little high there, and it seems like you were having some trouble breathing. Is it your ribs? I'm going to check your incision now, okay?" One of the nurses cooed over John as her hands flitted quickly from his wrist to his side. She moved quickly, and kept talking in soothing tones. John's breathing evened out, and his heart slowed noticeably as she worked. "Everything looks okay. Feeling better?" John nodded weakly. Normally he would have smiled, but Sherlock noted he didn't even attempt it. "We'll leave the oxygen on for a bit longer. I'm going to go fetch you some good tea, not that swamp water they serve down in the kitchen, and be back in a few minutes, yeah?"

As the nurses moved to step out of the room, the one who had been speaking to John stopped in front of Sherlock and Greg (who still had Sherlock's arm pinned behind his back). She was tiny. Adorable even, but for the fierceness that burned in her eyes. "I don't know what you two are on about, but if it doesn't end right now," she grabbed Sherlock's lapel with her right hand, and pointed her left index finger directly in Greg's face, "I will personally drag the both of you out of here." Standing a little taller, she looked Sherlock directly in the eyes. "I don't care who your brother is." She turned on her heel and stormed from the room, the other nurse rushed after her, wide eyed and slightly in awe.

Sherlock shoved Greg off of him, and the two men practically tripped over each other as they moved toward John's bedside.

"John, I..." Sherlock stopped short when John held up his left hand to silence him.

"No. No. Greg, get him out of here. Both of you. Just get out. I need to..." John blinked a few times in an effort to keep tears at bay. He refused to look at Sherlock. "God. You idiot. Just, go!"

When John's petite protector returned with his tea fifteen minutes later, she was greeted by a truly pathetic sight. The doctor's two friends were moping dejectedly outside his room. The angry silver haired one had slumped into one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs, face buried in his hands, elbows propped on his knees. The intense, kind of scary, tall one was pacing furiously up and down the hall, fingers from both hands pressed to his mouth, and he was muttering nonsense to himself.

"I see you two decided to let him finally get some rest," she stated coolly as she reached for the door handle.

The silver haired one mumbled something unintelligible into his hands. She shrugged and looked to the tall one who sighed and flopped into one of the chairs.

"He said John kicked us out."

"Well, okay then." She genuinely tried not to smile. Really, she did.

The attempt was not successful. She quickly ducked into John's room to avoid the loathing glares from the two men in the hall.

Mere moments later she returned to the hall, and stood, arms crossed over her chest, in front of Doctor Watson's friends. "He says you can both go back in now. BUT, there is one condition. No talking. Go in and sit down. Greg? You sit in the chair on his right side. Sherlock is it? Left side." She looked from one to the other. "No. Talking." They looked up at her sheepishly. "Well, go on! He actually wants to see you, don't keep him waiting. Off you go!" She pointed to the door.

Without so much as a sigh the two men slunk into the room like thoroughly scolded children. John was propped sitting nearly all the way up in his bed, sipping his tea. His laptop was set up on the table across his lap.

"Sit." He commanded.

Silent compliance.

John smirked and looked at Greg. "You were here for this. Take it as a reminder. And no interrupting." Greg blinked in confusion.

"And you." John turned on Sherlock, who flinched (to John's delight) in response. "You've already seen this, but you're going to watch it again, and I'm going to explain it. And you will not interrupt. When I'm done, and only then, I want you say to me what you said earlier."

A look of sheer horror passed across Sherlock's face unchecked.

John pressed play.


CCTV Footage
04/05/15
St Bart's Hospital
External Camera C
Rooftop

John forced the door to the roof open. He had to stop and remind himself not to press in with his right shoulder.

He should have worn the sling. He knew better.

Sliding his backpack off his left shoulder, John paused and glanced around the rooftop.

Huh.

This was his first time on the roof completely sober, and he had to admit, he was underwhelmed. Of course, past memories were tinted with the likes of sorrow, anguish, and despair. In his mind, the roof had taken on an ominous life of its own when he had been looking for answers, or looking for an escape. Now that the reason for those searches was sleeping safe and sound on the couch in the sitting room of 221b Baker Street, the rooftop seemed perfectly innocuous.

Dull even.

He supposed he could understand the symbolism when considering why Moriarty had chosen the roof of St. Bart's for his end game. But honestly. The place was just so... plain. So ordinary. Common.

Oh. OH.

Of course. It was a game after all.

Let's play Prove Sherlock is Dull.

John growled and walked with determination to the spot where Moriarty had bled out. He stared at the spot for a moment, and then glanced up at the sky. Everything about this spot was unremarkable.

With the exception that James Moriarty had attempted to destroy Sherlock from Right. Here.

John spat on the spot.

"You came so close. You almost won. You got to me. It's true. I almost gave up. So many times. And then you would have won, because you really would have burned the heart out of him then, yeah? He would have come home to nothing, and that would have been a fate worse than death. And you would have been the ultimate victor. But we did it. Together. Greg and I here, and Sherlock out there. We stayed alive, and we kept Mrs. Hudson safe, and we're here, and you're... You're where ever the hell it is monsters like you go."

John spat once more. "Good riddance."

Turning with the the intention of never seeing that offensive spot again, John marched to the edge of the roof. Running his hand along the ledge, he looked out over the city as he slowly approached the spot.

Sherlock's spot.

The Altar of Sherlock he had drunkenly named it. God, he should really never be allowed to drink.

He stopped at the spot, dropped the backpack onto the roof, and leaned over to look down at the pavement below. Overcome by a brief rush of vertigo, John sat down quickly on the ledge and covered his face with his hands. "God, I'm a bloody idiot." He had come so close to ruining everything from this very spot.

But he hadn't ruined it.

He was alive.

Greg was alive.

Sherlock, that bloody brilliant, infuriating, madman was alive.

John smiled to himself and turned gingerly to swing his legs over the edge of the roof. He hoped Greg was near, his shoulder was truly aching now. He wanted to massage the tender joint, but just in case Mycroft was watching, or worse yet, Sherlock, he'd not give them the satisfaction of knowing he was in pain.

Maybe he should have gone to the hospital last night.

No point in letting Sherlock think he was right more often than necessary.

God, Greg. Hurry up.

As if on cue, the door to the rooftop creaked open.

"About time!" John shouted without even looking back. Greg grunted in response as he walked to Moriarty's spot. He spat once, paused, uttered a well thought out, if somewhat shocking, vulgar diatribe, and spat once more.

"That was obscenely poetic," John nodded approvingly.

Greg sat two coffees down on the ledge to John's left and placed his hand on John's shoulder. "Glad you liked it. It wasn't Shakespeare by any means, but it just felt appropriate."

"Oh my God, enough with the Shakespeare!" John giggled. Greg winked and grinned, then took his place on the ledge to John's left. They looked out over the city, glowing in the sunrise, and just enjoyed the beauty of it all for the very first time.

"So, I stopped off to see Molly before I came up. Apparently some jerk made her cry earlier," Greg smiled broadly as he handed John a coffee and then took a sip of his own.

John laughed, but then exhaled deeply. "Greg, I need to apologize to you."

"No, don't." Greg cut him off. "I was pissed at her too, you know. Sherlock comes waltzing back into our lives like nothing happened, and oh, by the way, Big Brother and sweet innocent Molly Hooper knew the whole time." Greg scoffed bitterly. "God, I almost walked away. I don't think I ever told you that." John shook his head no. "I actually just slept in my office the first few nights. Showered in the locker room at the gym. Didn't even go home."

Greg shrugged."I was ready to call off the wedding, and that be the end of it. It hurt so badly, you know? I mean, all the times she just let me fall apart in front of her. All she had to do was say one word. And you. God, you were a mess John. We both were, but Judas Priest, there was a while that I really thought you had lost your mind. And there we were, you and me, grasping, clawing, hanging on for dear life, and she knew the truth the whole time. She knew, and she left us there to come unglued. Then you said what you said to her, about being a fraud like Moriarty. And I couldn't be angry with you. Of course not. I agreed with you. But that really crushed her, just, decimated her heart. She said she would understand if I left. She would even understand if you never spoke to her again. But the fact that you, compassionate, forgiving John Watson thought that she was anything like Moriarty? It destroyed her."

John hung his head in shame.

Greg sipped his coffee. "I took a long hard look at her then, and I realized how hard that must have been. To keep that secret. Watching her fiancée and her best friend falling apart, and knowing the one thing that could save them from themselves, but not being able to tell them. Having to live with the fact that if anyone found out, it could get Sherlock killed. Or possibly even the both of us and Mrs. Hudson. And I realized we were both hurting, in our own ways, but it would be easier to pick up the pieces together. So... I went home."

He smiled at John. "You don't owe me an apology, mate. You don't have to explain a thing. But thank you for talking to her, I know it wasn't easy."

"I missed her," John sighed. "I missed us. It was hard to imagine a way you and I could stay close after the wedding if I didn't make it right. And I knew I'd hurt her far worse than she'd hurt me. She didn't deserve that. Besides, Sherlock's been making my life miserable since I've been avoiding Molly and the lab. So, two birds, one stone I guess."

Greg laughed and lifted his coffee cup. "Cheers to that, mate."

"Cheers," John laughed in return. "God, what a mess." He set his coffee down, and dug around in his backpack. "Here, I got you something, for old time's sake. And after all that, you might need them." He handed Greg a pack of cigarettes and a small box of matches.

"Doctor Watson, I am shocked! You do realize these things will kill me right?" Greg laughed as he shook the pack. "You joining me? Sure, you are, just this one time, right?" Greg grinned and expertly lit two cigarettes at once. He handed one to John as he puffed away on his own and hummed in delight.

John held his up, and Greg followed suit. "To Sherlock... If it wasn't for him, I never would have met you, Greg."

"We few, we happy few." Greg smirked when John groaned.

Taking a deep drag off his cigarette, Greg nodded at John who hesitantly lifted his own cigarette to his mouth and inhaled deeply.

A little too deeply.

His bruised ribs made themselves known, and John choked on the inhaled smoke. The more he coughed the more his ribs ached. He pressed his right arm across his chest, despite the agony of his shoulder.

It didn't help that Greg found his plight to be hilarious.

John snuffed out the cigarette and flicked the butt at Greg. "Sod off," he choked out.

Greg just laughed even harder.

"Oh, just shut up and light me another one!" John grumbled.

Choking on a laugh, Greg shook his head in disbelief. "Feeling stubborn today, are we?" John narrowed his eyes at his friend. Greg just grinned and lit them both another cigarette; he puffed away expertly at his.

John tried to keep up. He really did. But for those cursed ribs. A flash of pain and another coughing fit. John turned to warn Greg off from mocking him when the unthinkable happened. That particular coughing fit was jarring enough that John lost his grip on the lit cigarette, and it tumbled from his hand, over the side of the building, and down towards the ground.

"Oh God," he leaned over as far as he dared, to watch its descent. "Oh God." He looked over at Greg, panic in his eyes. Greg stared back at John wide eyed.

With a glance to the ground below, Greg shouted "Fore!" John snorted. The two men desolved into hysterics.

"Fore?" John snickered and declined when Greg offered him another cigarette. "I think I'm not meant to smoke. I'll stick with the coffee."

There was more companionable silence as Greg smoked away to his heart's content.

He had quit. Really. But this was tradition, yeah? And he couldn't very well decline. John had bought them as gift. It wouldn't have been proper to turn them down.

"Maybe this goes without saying, but... Don't tell Molly, yeah? She'll be none too happy." Greg held his cigarette up and inspected it closely.

"Hmm, quit again have you? Just, very well done with that." John's smile was devious. "I did only just start talking to her. I can't make any promises about what might come up."

"Oi! Tell her about this, and I'll tell her about last night at that pub." Greg cast a sidelong glance at John. "Have to admit, I didn't know which was worse. Seeing you in pain, your arm just kind of dangling there unnaturally, or me encouraging you to finish your third shot. How long's it been?"

"Last night was my first drink in eleven months. And I haven't missed it. I didn't miss the loss of control, and I definitely don't miss the hang overs. Thankfully last night it basically just knocked me out, and I didn't get stupid." John looked thoughtfully down at his coffee. "Thanks for this," he held the cup up to Greg. "I know in the past..."

"In the past we were in mourning. Trying to forget."

John hummed in agreement. "Think I'm going to just forgo the alcohol from now on, except for the rare special occasions."

"Such as medical emergencies?" Greg playfully suggested.

"I was thinking weddings, but sure, okay. Medical emergencies too." With a laugh John shook his head. "Though I'd be okay with avoiding those altogether as often as possible!"

"Speaking of..."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm going down to see Matt when we're done here."

"So is that... Is that why you're dressed like a librarian?" Greg barked a laugh when he noticed the embarrassed blush spread across John's face. "I mean, a tie? C'mon, this is Matt."

With a roll of his eyes, John scoffed. "God no. I have a meeting with Mycroft and a lawyer later. I think this will be the last one, and we'll have Sherlock's estate settled, and he'll be listed among the living again. And it only took six months." He shook his head in disgust.

Greg nodded his head in appreciation. "That is... Wow. I hope Sherlock appreciates the effort you've put into this." All it took was one sideways glance, and the two men burst into laughter once more.

"Right." John pressed his arm across his ribs and tried to catch his breath. "God, Greg. Sherlock's alive. He's actually alive." John closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. "Some days I still wake up, and I've forgotten, you know? I wake up and it's still so raw, and the grief is still there. And it would be easier to give up than to get out of bed. I feel like I should be concerned about that, yeah? That I shouldn't still be waking up with those emotions. But I'm just not, because eventually I remember. Or I call you and you talk me through it." He shrugged his left shoulder. "Maybe this is just my normal now."

"Just never forget that you can call me any time, yeah?" Greg turned slightly, to make eye contact with John. "But, have you talked to your therapist about this at all?"

"Ah," John ducked his head and cleared his throat. "I haven't been to see her for a few months now."

"John." Greg growled in exasperation.

"I was going. Every week. Even after Sherlock came back. Especially then. God, I was such a mess. But then something odd started happening. No, not odd. Infuriating. God. As a doctor and a patient, I should have reported it. Still might." John fidgeted with his tie.

"From the very beginning, I knew Mycroft was somehow getting copies of notes from some of my sessions. I still don't know how he got them. He used the information for intimidation more than anything else." John swallowed the last of his coffee.

"God. Pompous son of a..." Greg uttered a string of curses.

John huffed a laugh. "He left it alone after Sherlock... left. Never mentioned anything to me. Though, I suspect the threat assessment job at MI6 was an attempt to distract me from... well, everything during that time."

"You still doing that?"

"Only when I've the time. Now Sherlock's back, not as often. It's fascinating really, even if my security clearance is the lowest there is." John laughed. "Did you know there are at least four security check points to get into the actual inner workings of the building? Well, four that I know of, anyway. My clearance only allows me past the first one. I'm not kidding. My office is basically a shared broom closet. Granted, it's a very, very nice broom closet with the most advanced technological capabilities. I caught a glimpse past the second barrier once by accident. Mycroft himself debriefed me for four hours after that."

Greg shook his head in disbelief.

"Anyway, it was actually there, in my broom closet, that I first noticed something was amiss. Sherlock had been back about three weeks. I had complained to the therapist that little naggy things that Sherlock use to always do before he left, things I had just gotten use to, were really just starting to wear me down. We'd had a massive shouting match over the fact that he threw out a new box of chai tea I'd just bought. He said the spice contaminated the other teas in the cupboard, and that he only likes Darjeeling, so he didn't know why I would even bother with anything else." John sighed in frustration. "In the past I had always just given in, but after two and a half years, I didn't feel that having my own tea in the cupboard was asking too much. The next day. The very next day, next to the electric kettle in my broom closet, there was a brand new box of chai."

"Wait. Hold on a second, are you suggesting..." Greg's look was incredulous.

"Not just suggesting. I proved it." John grinned an evil shark-like grin. "It started out small, you know. And I always made sure it was something that would make sense for Sherlock to have ruined for me. My favorite ink pen broken to bits? A whole supply of them would show up in the desk drawer. One of Sherlock's experiments ruined my leftovers from Angelo's? Lunch would be catered my next time in." John giggled. "Sherlock intentionally ruined one of my cardigans, and I swear to God, on my next paycheck I had a bonus for the amount of a new sweater. Now, where I buy clothes and Mycroft buys clothes varies a great deal, so the amount was quite a bit more than what was actually needed. Not that I complained about that. But it set me to thinking, money didn't really seem to be an issue."

"Oh God, John. What did you do?" Greg's eyes glistened with excitement.

"Remember that crappy old watch I use to wear?" John cleared his throat. "It was about four months ago. There was that case out in the country. The suspect and I both ended up in that swamp because Sherlock couldn't be bothered to take two steps to the left? Hmm, yeah. I... I uhm mayhave exaggerated the watch's value to me. I mean, my therapist had a field day with the story I told her. And most of it was true. It belonged to a guy in my unit. He got hit by shrapnel during an ambush. I did everything I could to save him, kept him alive for several days, but he really needed to be moved to an actual hospital. We just couldn't get through the enemy fire in time. As he lay there dying, I did everything I could to keep his mind off the inevitable. Apparently no one had ever paid him any real attention. To thank me, he took the watch off his wrist and gave it to me. I had a watch, but it was my grandad's so I hardly wore it. Just to humor him, I put the watch on. I figured I'd send it home with his effects. Well, it all went to hell after that. He died, we were under constant fire, and not too long after that, I got shot."

"So, you inherited the guy's watch?"

"I did. But I didn't know him at all. And maybe it sounds heartless, but besides trying to patch him up, I had no connection to him whatsoever. I worked on so many people over just a course of a few days, most of them are all just blurred together in my mind. I only remembered this kid because of the watch." John frowned. "God, I sound like a terrible person. But it really didn't mean anything to me at all. I didn't feel right pawning it though, so I kept it, and once I started going on cases with Sherlock and working at the clinic, I'd wear it rather than ruin my good one."

Scrubbing his hand down his face, John continued. "I can't actually believe I did this. I just, I wanted to prove a point, even if it was just to myself. So... I whined to my therapist that the watch given to me by a fallen comrade, on his death bed, had been completely ruined while doing the leg work on a case for Sherlock." John screwed up his face as if he were about to burst into tears. His voice wavered ever so slightly. "It wasn't worth much, but it was valuable to me. And now it's gone." He sniffed for effect, then dropped the act, assuming once more his devious grin.

Greg nearly choked on his coffee at the sudden switch. "That was bloody brilliant. God, John."

The doctor laughed. "The next time I saw Mycroft, he presented me with a gift wrapped box, and said it was just a token to thank me for the hours of hard work I had put in."

"A watch?"

"Not just a watch..." John pulled back the sleeve covering his right wrist. The watch was platinum, and Greg was pretty sure those were diamonds.Diamonds. Plural. There were all manner of dials and gauges. It was beautiful in all of its garish opulence, and would have suited the likes of Mycroft Holmes very well. Greg knew it to be worth several thousand. And it was the very definition of ludicrous adorning the wrist of John Watson.

"Oh God. John, oh my God..." Greg started laughing, and the longer he looked at the watch, the funnier it got. He was in tears, and practically convulsing in laughter.

"You understand why I can never go back to that therapist ever again, right?" John giggled.

Greg doubled over in laughter. "You manipulative genius. God, you're my hero!" At that, he slapped John on the back in a sign of appreciation. Unfortunately for John, the bruised ribs and deep tissue bruising left by a pool cue across his back, did not share Greg's enthusiasm. Before he could stop himself, John winced and cried out in pain.

Greg cursed. "I'm sorry, John. I forgot about your back. I'm so sorry. I think it's time we get you downstairs, yeah?" Greg pointed behind him at the door.

"Yeah, okay," John wheezed. "Hang on just a minute though." John reached behind him into his backpack and dug out an old ratty envelope and a yellow legal pad. Recognition flashed in Greg's eyes. John pulled the tattered paper from the envelope and read over it. He handed it to Greg. "Ouragreement."

Greg nodded and read over it. Together they turned to face one another, each swinging one leg back over the ledge, to place a foot flat on the roof. They looked at each other almost sheepishly.

Ridiculous.

Utter nonsense after all they'd been through together.

Put each other through.

"I uhm," John pulled a pen from his pocket. "I think we should make a new one. Less... suicide, more support."

"Agreed. I think, no matter what, at least twice a month we meet. Doesn't really matter where. My place, Baker Street, a pub, anywhere. Just you and me. No wives... and no consulting detectives. Just to debrief, and decompress." Greg tipped a cigarette out of the pack, but instead of lighting it he tapped it against his palm as he thought.

"Good. What about a 24/7 phone policy? Call or text, no matter the day or time. No matter what. Good news. Bad news. Requests for help. Or for back up. Kind of goes without saying, but we'll have it in writing." John scribbled on the legal pad as he spoke.

"Definitely. What if," Greg hesitated. John glanced up and furled his brow at the frown on Greg's face. "Look, John. We've been through so much the past couple of years. I don't have any blood siblings. I've only just got you, you know? You're my brother. The only brother I've ever had."

"Same. I've got Harry, but no one's pretending that's a functioning relationship. You're my brother too. Only one I've got." John nodded confirmation.

"Good, okay. So, we agree, brothers no matter what. But, John, you... Well, you're my best friend. One of the best I've ever had. And I know you feel the same, but I also know that Sherlock is different. I know you two aren't together, and that's not how your relationship works. But I do know you're his best friend, and that he is yours. And I'm okay with that... I just... What if, I don't know, do you think he'd want to be a brother too? I mean, I know he's got Mycroft, but that's about as rubbish as any family relationship I've ever seen."

John sat up and looked Greg straight in the eyes. "You are amazing. I think that is perfect. Maybe he won't be interested, and that's okay too. But do we agree, as far as either of us is concerned, Greg Lestrade, John Watson, and Sherlock Holmes are brothers? A true band of brothers, and not just our little duo?"

"If you think so, then yeah, of course." Greg smiled. "You do realize that makes you the middle child though, and everyone ignores the middle child." He winked.

"Shut it, you." John laughed. "Okay, good. Good. I think I've got just one more thing then. I say we don't meet up here on May 4th anymore. No reason to. But, from here on out, if anything happens to one of ours, God forbid, we meet up here that day. We bring the scotch, and the cigarettes, and anyone else who needs to mourn with us, and meet up here to help each other through it. But then that's it. No memorializing it up here, no suicide pacts or insane threats. Just a few hours of supporting each other before we have to face the world."

"Brilliant. This will be where we come to regroup and prepare for the next step. Yes, we'll do that." Greg continued tapping the cigarette on his palm thoughtfully as John read over all he had written down. John handed the pad over to Greg, who read through it as well. "Yes, I think that'll do. I like this one a lot better than the last one. Where do I sign?" John handed over the pen, and motioned to the bottom of the page. Greg signed his name, then John did the same and dated it. He tore the page from the pad, folded it gingerly, and placed in the old worn envelope.

"I think we're through with that one," John motioned to the old suicide pact. "I know I never want to see it again."

Greg hummed his consent. He lit the cigarette he'd been toying with, and held it up once more in tribute.

"This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here"

"Hmm. Yeah. Okay, Shakespeare, I'll allow it. This time." John grinned, but couldn't hide the emotion in his voice. "Idiot."

"Cheers, mate." Greg held their old agreement to the tip of the cigarette. The page was so worn it burned up quickly, and together they watched the embers float away on the breeze. "Only one thing left to do now." The friends grinned at one another, each spitting into their left hands, clasped hands and shook heartily. John grinned his devilish grin and motioned in the direction of the CCTV camera with his head. They released their handshake and turned to the camera, and with much gusto, flipped it off.

The resulting laughter was uninhibited, raucous, and liberating.

It also caused John no small amount of pain. "Okay, I think it's definitely time to go downstairs now." He pressed his right arm around his ribs as he tried unsuccessfully to quell his own laughter.

Greg's phone rang. He fished it from his pocket, checked the caller ID, and went suddenly stiff. "It's Sherlock! Should I tell him you're here?" John shook his head no with a grin, so Greg answered the call. "This is Lestrade."

John chose that moment to make a lewd gesture.

Greg coughed and sputtered in an attempt to cover his laughter, "Oh, uh, Sherlock..." He cleared his throat and assumed a more serious tone. "No. Ah, no, not yet."

"What does he want?" John whispered like a petulant child. "Greg. Greg. Greg. What does he want?"

Greg held the phone against his chest, to muffle the sound and whispered, "Would you shut up? You're the one who said not to tell him you're here. God." He place the mobile back to his ear, but couldn't help giggling at John's ridiculous behavior.

"Look Sherlock, I'm in a.. a meeting. You and John come by the Yard later and we'll go over everything."

John picked up Greg's partial cup of coffee, popped off the lid, took a big drink of the now tepid coffee, and spit the entire mouthful back into the cup in disgust, making the most childish noises he could think of as he did it.

"Oh my God, knock it off!" Greg whispered. "Sherlock, I really have to go. Just..." Greg was very near losing his composure altogether and dissolving into a fit of giggles. "Just come by later, okay? And Sherlock, be nice to John, today especially. He's in a... fragile state."

"Hey! Take it back!" John whispered fiercely, grabbing for Greg's phone.

Greg pressed the phone to his chest and swatted John's hands away. "Knock. It. Off!"

"You want middle child, I'll show you middle child." John crossed his arms over his chest. Just as Greg rolled his eyes and was about to lift the mobile back to his ear, John punched him hard on the arm.

"OW!" Greg narrowed his eyes at John and spoke quickly into the phone. "Later, yeah?" He hung up before he heard Sherlock's response. "What is your problem? Oh wait.. He's texting now." Greg exchanged a few texts with Sherlock and frowned. "Does he really not know what today is?"

John stood, knees a bit wobbly from the laughter, and gathered up his backpack. "Doubt it. I'm sure he remembers that it all happened. And certain specifics he considers vital. But the actual date? He probably deleted it. I'm sure he'll figure it out." Without thinking about it John moved to sling the pack over his right shoulder. "Oh! Son of a..." John groaned in pain. "God, I keep forgetting."

"Okay," Greg stood. "Let's get you downstairs before you do something really stupid."


Wednesday, 6 May, 2015
St Bart's Hospital
Patient Room: Watson, John H.

John clicked the laptop closed. "So."

"Why did we watch this?" Greg asked, confusion evident on his face.

"Mycroft sent this to Sherlock on Monday. He watched us on the roof, but had no idea why were there, or any of the context. In the interest of full disclosure, and the hope that he'll be fully honest with me in the future, I showed Sherlock the other times you and I met up there too." John looked at Greg with uncertainty. "I should have asked you first."

"No, no it's... Wait, Mycroft had them all on video? Did any of them have sound?" Greg ran his hand back over his hair.

"What doesn't Mycroft have on video? And no, I had to narrate them all."

"God, John. No wonder you two were an emotional mess. You should have called me. I would've helped." Greg scooted his chair around so he could face John more directly. "You don't have to do these things alone, yeah? Brothers. We help each other."

"I know, but, it's something I needed to do with Sherlock. He wanted to know what I went through, and I needed to be the one to tell him. Does that make sense? Is it okay?"

"Of course it's okay, John. God, I understand. Just like I had to tell Molly. I get it. I'm just sorry you had to see all of that, and relive it all. That must have been awful." Greg cursed. He looked over at Sherlock and the tension in his face eased. "John, I think you need to talk to Sherlock now. I'll be right here."

With a nod, John turned to look at Sherlock on his left side. The consulting detective had somehow managed to pull his knees to his chest, placing his heels on the lip of the seat of the molded plastic chair, and had wrapped his great coat tight around him. His collar was up, and his forehead was resting on his knees, completely obscuring his face.

"Sherlock? Will you scoot closer? I want to talk to you now." John glanced back at Greg, and assumed his soothing doctor voice. "Please, Sherlock, can I at least see your eyes, so I know you're listening to me?"

From within the confines of his great coat, Sherlock mumbled something unintelligible.

"I... Sherlock, I couldn't hear you at all. I have no idea what you said." John sighed, making every effort to suppress anything even resembling frustration. "Help me out here."

Sherlock reluctantly unfolded himself from his cocoon, stretched his legs out in front of him, shoved his hands in his pockets, and looked up at John with a defeated sigh.

Every bit the petulant three year old.

"I know it's dull, but would you mind repeating yourself just this once?" John asked carefully.

Sherlock closed his eyes. "I don't understand. Why? Why would you two want me to be your brother? You both know me. I am, by all accounts, a horrible human being. And of all the people I have been horrible to, you two, and you especially John, have had to take the worst of it."

Opening his eyes to reveal tears ready to spill at any moment, Sherlock pulled his chair right up next to John's bed. With some hesitation he reached out to take John's left hand, battered, bruised and braced though it was, in his own. He paused, and John covered the distance for him.

"Why?" Sherlock looked up at John. A few errant tears spilled over and ran down his face unchecked. He glanced over to Lestrade. "I call you by the wrong name on purpose. Did you know that?"

Greg huffed a laugh. "I had my suspicions."

"See, you know how I am. What I am. So, why? Why would you want me?"

"I can't speak for Greg," John smiled, "but I want you to be my brother for the same reasons you gave me two days ago. Remember? We're Sherlock and John. We're better together, and we're more than any label anyone could ever give us. It's not romantic love, but it's love. And I do, Sherlock, I love you. You're my best friend, and my brother."

"Look Sherlock, you and I, we don't have the relationship you and John have. Or that John and I have. But do you remember all those years ago, when we worked together, you and I, to get you out of the mess you'd got yourself in? You were as good as dead, but for some reason, you let me help you. We may pick at each other, and intentionally agitate one another, but to me, you will always, always be the one who let me help you. I've offered it to so many, and they've rejected it, or walked away. But you let me help you, and then you stayed. I don't understand it, but it's meant the world to me. And I may have failed you in the past, but I will spend the remainder of my days defending you. And John. We're in this together." Lestrade looked from John to Sherlock and then hung his head as if awaiting a verdict.

"I..." Sherlock worked his jaw as if he wanted to say something. Anything. But the words seemed to fail him.

"There is one condition, though." John whispered. Sherlock's head shot up and questioning eyes searched John's face. "You can never ask me to leave the way you did earlier. Not ever again. If you decide you'd rather part ways, that's fine. We'll discuss it. But please, don't ever do that again. Please." John's voice cracked, and he pulled his hand from Sherlock's to wipe his eyes.

"John," Sherlock groaned. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"I understood what you meant, Sherlock. Your intention was to express that you feel you are a detriment to me. But imagine being the one broken to pieces, just finding out that there are parts of me that are never going to be whole or well again, and then hearing you say I am too fragile, and too weak, and it would be best if I just left. Because that's what it sounded like from this hospital bed. And you were so certain that was the right answer, you were ready to go take care of everything right then."

Sherlock groaned once more, covered his face with his hands, and laid his head down on the edge of John's bed.

"I thought my heart was literally breaking Sherlock. I'm in so much pain right now, but all I could feel was this gaping wound in my chest, and I didn't want those nurses to come in and help me. If you were asking me to leave, I would've rather just died right here. Do you understand? It almost killed me when you left. What do you think would happen if you asked me to leave and I believed the reason to be because I was too damaged or not good enough?"

"Always enough. Always, John." Sherlock sat up and scooted his chair nearer the head of the bed. He took John's hand once more. "Please don't go. I didn't really want you to. I thought you needed to. But I need you." He looked sheepishly at Lestrade. "I need you too... Greg."

John huffed a breathy laugh and Greg blinked in surprise.

"I would be honored to be counted as your brother. If you'll have me."

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.