Damn you, LJ, for not allowing me to post an entire chapter in one post. WTF even? This used to be no problem, the chapter isn't even long.
And before John could process what was about to happen he felt Sherlock's palms on his cheeks and lips on his mouth. He froze.
He didn't know if he had stopped breathing, if mere seconds had passed or more, and he could not think. Could not form one coherent thought on what was happening and why. He only felt his heart thudding even faster than with the previous worry and anger, and his legs feeling slightly weak and heavy, and he could not move a muscle. The kiss, gentle but strangely desperate, did not end by John's doing; in fact, he unconsciously felt his mouth react to the touch a mere moment before it ended, and he found himself blinking into the blue-grey eyes in front of him.
“See. You're not. You would have punched me.” All previous agitation had seemed to have faded, leaving Sherlock with hunched shoulders and that sad, broken look on his face. John found it very hard to breathe in that moment.
“You never call. Same as after the wedding. You're just... occupied elsewhere. With her.” A hint of bitterness lay in his voice.
“I've lost you, John. You're only ever here,” he pointed to his temple. “I've lost you to her, by my own doing. By my own vow. And I'm never getting you back. You're... you're gone.” The last word, barely audible, left Sherlock's lips as he suddenly swayed worse than before and started shaking like a leaf. His fingers slipped as he reached for something to hold on to.
It was extremely lucky that John managed to shake himself from his momentary paralysis and was at Sherlock's side in an instant, catching his fall; and it was even luckier that his instincts took over, shoving all other thoughts into the back of his mind while he needed to be a doctor, not John: confused and overwhelmed best friend of Sherlock Holmes.
He looked at Sherlock’s pupils - slightly dilated but responsive, quickly felt for a pulse - quickened and weak but luckily even, all within a few seconds. Sherlock’s skin looked much paler than usual and there was cold sweat on his face and neck. Movements tired and weak, he struggled in John’s arms, trying to sit up but failing so that he remained half lying on the ground with John holding his upper body against his chest as Sherlock took a few somewhat even breaths.
“You… you arse,” John finally let out, though it was barely more than a hoarse whisper. “Why…” He didn’t know what he wanted to ask; a million thoughts seemed to be racing through his mind now, and he couldn’t let any of them surface to be reflected on for more than a split-second. It completely overwhelmed him: confusion, anger, something odd and indefinable that made his chest feel tight.
“John,” Sherlock breathed out, weakly. “You’re not supposed to-- No, this is wrong. It’s wrong. I shouldn’t have... You were supposed to wait for me. I didn’t account for this to happen. I didn’t think. Why didn’t I think?”
“Shush now,” John said placatingly before Sherlock could ramble himself into another frenzy. Even though he wasn’t far from a complete circulatory collapse it was an improvement from the agitated state he’d been in earlier and one step closer to getting Sherlock into bed to sleep it off. John still held his best friend close and, almost unconsciously, let his free hand caress Sherlock’s ice cold fingers soothingly. “Just calm down. I’m here.”
“Are you really?” Weak and hazy as he was, Sherlock sounded utterly terrified and John didn’t quite know whether to stick to the truth or not. “You can’t be. I… wanted you to. But you’re not supposed to be real.”
“Shhh, everything’s going to be fine, Sherlock. I promise. Just stay calm. Breathe.”
“Nothing’s ever going to be fine,” Sherlock replied, voice slurred but bitter.
“It will. Just take easy breaths. In and out. Deep and easy. Yeah. Like that, good.” John brushed a lock of damp hair out of Sherlock’s face, and for a moment he felt the overwhelming urge to kiss his friend’s forehead.
Don’t. You’re a doctor. Be a doctor. Think later.
“Do you think you can get up?”
John saw Sherlock nod faintly, but the first attempt ended in Sherlock slumping right back onto the floor, his ridiculously long limbs too shaky to hold him upright.
“Hang on. There.” Having got up himself, first, John carefully pulled Sherlock back onto his feet and supported him with his own body. Luckily, it wasn’t far to the bedroom, and the doctor managed to get Sherlock into bed without incident. He helped him out of the dressing gown, put his feet on top of the mattress and pulled the covers over him.
“You need to sleep. But first I need you to drink a glass of water, and I’ll also give you something to take the edge off and help your body detox. All right?”
Sherlock nodded weakly before John looked around, wondering where and when he had put his bag. Right. The living room. He quickly hurried out and returned with a full glass of water and his medical equipment. Sherlock, luckily, was still lucid.
“Can you tell me anything else about the drug? Any other side effects? Nausea, heart problems, neurological consequences, anything I need to know?”
Frowning in concentration, Sherlock finally shook his head. “It’s supposed to be a party drug.”
“Well, yeah. Most of them are. But I need to know how it affects people so I know what I can give you.”
Again, Sherlock seemed to be thinking for a lot longer than it would usually take him to give such a reply. Then, finally, he shook his head again. “Just the blackout.”
As he helped Sherlock sit up to slowly drink the water, John quickly went over possible drugs and their interactions with analgesics. Morphine was out of the question here because it may cause the blood pressure to sink even lower, so he was left with ibuprofen, which should be effective enough to counter any painful sensations of the comedown without causing negative side effects. A mixture of vitamins to help his system detox which he luckily had in his bag for the rare cases he needed to treat alcohol poisoning. He filled a syringe and injected it into Sherlock’s arm vein.
“All right?” he asked as the needle pinched the skin. Sherlock barely reacted.
“You need to sleep, okay? Just don’t worry about anything and sleep it off. We can talk in the morning.” Or better not, if a blackout prevents it, John thought. He was certain that tonight’s confessions and actions were nothing Sherlock would want to remember or even would have done in the first place, had he been sober.
“Jesus,” John sighed faintly and laid his hand on his mouth. He had to remind himself to keep breathing, too, and to focus on his patient’s needs.
“Ss…” Barely conscious, Sherlock was obviously struggling to speak.
“What was that?” John asked gently and leaned in more closely.
“Stay. Just a bit.”
“I will, don’t worry. I’ll watch over you.”
Barely a hint of a smile, Sherlock looked up at John once more and then closed his eyes, instantly falling asleep.
“Because that’s what you always did for me, too.” He had sat there next to his sleeping friend for many minutes before the words came over his lips.
Hours later, the first light of day still absent but the city slowly awakening around him, John arrived back at his and Mary’s flat. He felt utterly exhausted, drained both physically and emotionally and too tired to think. He took off his jacket, shoes, and on the way to the bedroom his jeans and cardigan before he crawled into bed in the near darkness of the room.
“Is he alright?” he heard Mary’s sleepy voice.
A lump formed in his throat as he nodded, and he needed a moment to swallow it down. “Yeah. He will be. I watched him for a while. He’s sleeping it off now.”
“Fine. I’m fine.” His voice cracked, and he hoped he sounded simply tired.
Mary didn’t reply, and John already thought that she had gone back to sleep before he felt the weight on the bed shift slightly and her sitting up. “Are you sure?”
No, I’m not sure. And I think I’m most certainly not all right. I just don’t know what I am.
“Yeah. Go to sleep.”
“John,” Mary started again after a few moments, and he felt her hand reach for his and grasp it gently. “You didn’t even call. Don’t lie to me.”
Her tone was as gentle as her touch, no reproach noticeable in it, yet John’s previous exhaustion faded somewhat and made room for something else. A bitter chuckle left his lips. “Like you haven’t been lying to me at all.”
“John!” She was still calm but reasoning with him now, and for a moment John had no idea whether he wanted to continue being angry (and at whom anyway: Mary, Sherlock, himself?) or feel guilty for taking it out on her.
“Sorry love,” he amended then and returned the touch of her hand. “But I told you I was going to be mad at you from time to time. I’m sorry. Just go to sleep.”
“Alright. But you can talk to me, you know that, right?”
John had to swallow to keep another bitter chuckle in. Because he really couldn’t.
- Chapter 2 -