From: Heart In the Whole
Sherlock wasn’t buying it. John was pulling away from him, trying to stand, now actually attempting to prise Sherlock’s fingers off his sleeve. There was something very wrong.
John was always there, at his side, a constant presence that he had just accepted ever since he first opened his eyes to darkness.
Now John was trying to get away from him and Sherlock found he didn’t like that at all.
He tightened his grip, then slid his hands up to John’s shoulders. “Tell me what’s wrong,” he insisted. “Is this about what I said? I wasn’t thinking – look, I’ve already apologised, and we both know that I never apologise,” he tried to lighten the situation.
John’s breathing was getting quicker and he was still pulling away. If only he could see! If he could just get one look at John’s face he’d know exactly what was going on. John was clearly agitated, this was so frustrating… Sherlock gripped his shoulders more tightly and shook him. “Tell me!”
There was a sort of choking gasp and then John suddenly switched directions. Instead of pulling away he threw himself forward, wrapping his arms around Sherlock’s neck and holding on tightly.
Sherlock could feel that John’s body was shaking and there was wetness against his collar bone… John was crying, he realised.
John, who was always the positive one, constantly trying to cheer Sherlock up, telling him how lucky he was, how things would get back to normal, that everything would be all right.
His friend John, who had been there for him almost every minute since he woke up in the hospital, who had rescued him from an array of indignities, who had become almost a part of him, just there, a constant, warm, reassuring presence… just John.
Just John, whose chest was now heaving with great, wracking sobs as he held on to Sherlock and cried into his neck.
Cautiously, Sherlock raised his arms and rested them on John’s back, patting it tentatively, not sure what he should do. Why was this happening? Surely his comment had not been upsetting to this degree? Thoughtless, yes, he admitted to himself, but for John to break down like this…
Think! he told himself. John says your brain is still extraordinary, so use it. For the first time since he had woken up, Sherlock started to consider something other than his blindness, his frustration, his fears. He started to think about things from John’s perspective.
What must it have been like for John at the time of the shooting? Hearing Mycroft read the report didn’t really tell him what John had gone through, how he had felt. He knew that was very important to people – how they felt. He wished he could remember what had happened, but there was nothing in his head after setting off for the pool.
He knew that John had been forced to wear one of Moriarty’s bomb jackets, that he had been wearing it when they first saw each other. A shiver went down Sherlock’s spine and his hands flattened against John’s back as a new thought occurred to him… what if it had been the other way round?
What if it had been John who was shot and left in a coma for a week while he, Sherlock, had been relatively uninjured? What if he had spent a week at John’s bedside, not knowing if he would wake up or what he would be like if he did?
Would he even have done that? Would he have kept a vigil for John, as John had done for him? A whole week lost, with no guarantee of a result at the end of it. Seven days and nights in an uncomfortable chair, just thinking about everything that could still go wrong, even if things went right…
Yes, he would, he realised, with some degree of surprise. If it had been John who was lying in that bed then he, Sherlock, would have been sitting in that chair. This was interesting.
He tightened his arms around John, who was still sobbing uncontrollably, and started stroking his back in what he hoped was a soothing manner.
So what had been John’s biggest fear? From Mycroft’s report he knew that John had offered to sacrifice himself in order to give Sherlock the chance to escape. Clearly his fear would not be a selfish one. He thought back over John’s words, hugging him closely and trying to offer whatever comfort a blind sociopath could provide.
After a few more minutes, John started to calm and Sherlock could hear words being muttered against the collar of his shirt. They were muffled but he seemed to be… apologising?
He moved his hands up to John’s shoulders and sat him back slightly, before reaching over to the table and feeling around for the box of tissues.
With a muttered, “Thanks.” John took a few and sorted himself out before starting up with the apologies again. “Sorry. Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to… I’m all right now, just a build up of stress, I think. I’m fine now. Sorry.”
“Shut up, John,” instructed Sherlock firmly. How he wished he could see, even just for a moment, to see this strange creature who had saved his life but apologised for showing any weakness.
“Your biggest fear was exactly what mine would have been, had I been presented with this scenario as a hypothetical case and not distracted by the blindness, or any other factors.”
He reached out to touch John’s face, checking his expression.