His brain was racing at a speed of light, trying to understand the message now displaying on all the screens around him.
Moriarty was back.
Moriarty couldn't be back.
His head fell back and lolled loosely for a moment.
Moriarty was back.
Moriarty couldn't be back.
Just five minutes ago he had been standing on the tarmac of the little airport his brother chose for his very secure good-bye to his friends - friend - his country and his life.
Four minutes later a steward was handing him an on-board phone and Mycroft was telling him said country - the country that had just officially sent him into exile bare hours earlier and set him on the plane to a place where certain death awaited him - needed him.
And then everything stopped.
The plane executed a turn.
The airport was coming back into view.
The airport and the tiny figures on the tarmac.
Black figures and one red figure.
Tiny tiny humans so far away.
All thoughts of Moriarty fell by the wayside.
Slowly, he slumped forward, face in hands.
"Oh, God," he moaned. "John."
He was going to see him again.
He would have to face him again.
How much easier that would have been had he not...
Another turn, now towards the landing strip.
How head rolled back, eyes sliding closed.
...what did you take?
"Sherlock, what did you take?"
John. Terrified, horrified, angry and shaking.
Mycroft, hanging back, his handkerchief at his brow, very theatrical.
John's hands on his face, dragging him up, up, towards the light.
...I will have to go deeper...
"Don't you dare to die on me now!"
John's face, John's voice.
"The list, brother," Mycroft, patting him down from the other side. Paper rustling. "Here, doctor Watson."
More paper rustling.
"Dear God above. Sherlock!"
He felt his body sinking to the side, his brain floating away.
...or special outfits...
...I know when I'm in one!
"You are the absolutely craziest, most irresponsible idiot I've ever had the misfortune to encounter," John was griping. "You absolute, absolute, imbecilic..."
"Yes, thank you, John," he managed to utter and tried to rise up from the flattened seat. "We don't have time for you to work your way through the entire dictionary. We have to go."
But his legs weren't obeying. In fact, his body seemed less than willing to take part in the great enterprise of being upright.
"You, mister, are not going anywhere," John - his hands insistent yet gentle - pushed him back down. "That was moronic, I hope you understand that."
"Ah-- I--" he gasped for air, pressure in his chest growing slightly.
"Yeah, that. Hospital, definitely. Mycroft, get us somewhere safe. He will need to..."
"No. Home. I have to..."
John's hands on his shoulders. John's face in front of his own, noses almost touching. John's breath on his lips.
"You don't get to say that to me and not feel the consequences," the threat came calm and almost cold. "You will go to the hospital, you will get this treated, you will see a cardiologist and only then you will solve that bloody puzzle. Are we clear?"
He raised his eyebrows and show Mycroft an incredulous look, but his brother only shrugged.
"I would listen to your doctor, brother mine. Take care of him, John."
His brother and his best friend exchanged short nods.
"Take care of her, Mycroft. Make sure she doesn't run or do anything risky."
He blinked, slowly. He felt as if even his eyes were tired of looking straight.
"Come here, you stupid git," was said with a warmth unfitting the occasion. "Hospital. And ho checking yourself out early either. I will stay with you this time. You are not leaving until two independent cardiologists - one of them known to me previously - confirm you are fit for it. Are we clear?"
"You will deal with him when you are up to it."
He frowned, and there was a stretcher next to them.
He was losing pieces now.
There were fragments of... of something... floating in front of him, like strips of paper, newsprint cutouts, memories...
John crying on the street. Why was John crying?
Not street. The square. In front of Bart's.
John was crying that day.
Someone had hurt him.
Who had hurt John?
Sherlock had hurt John, yes.
Why would John be hurt?
He pried his eyes open just as a strong pair of hands secured a blanket over him, tucking it under the stretcher mattress.
"Give me the belt," someone ordered and again, again, the same pair of hands was on his body and there was a feeling of being pinned down, hateful, hateful restriction, no! Let me go!
He squirmed violently, but suddenly his senses were flooded with John John John because John was cradling his face with his hand and John was talking to him and John was there and John was leaning over him and John was touching him and John...
There was an ambulance ride, too, but he ignored the bumps and the jumps and the... that other thing that happened, because John.
There were people at the hospital, John told them what they needed to know and they all went away and John stayed. John.
"They are now testing your blood, just in case the list wasn't really true, but they will start working on you assuming it is."
John's voice sounded distant, as if he was standing on the other end of a church. Or maybe just next to him by the altar and yet divided by uncrossable chasm.
He tried catching some air, asking for explanation, but he found it hard to work his diaphragm and temporarily submitted to the weakness of his body.
He turned his head slowly, and here he was, his soldier, his hero, his saviour.
"Sherlock, what you said earlier today, on the tarmac... I..."
He shook his head, minutely. He wouldn't allow John to say it under duress.
"No, no, let me finish," John heaved a great sigh. "I... I am a coward, Sherlock. I am a bloody coward."
"No," he whispered. "No."
"I am. I am a bloody coward. I should have..." John sniffed and turned around to hide his face, but Sherlock saw the way his eyes suspiciously glistened.
"No, John..." he coughed and winced.
"They will come soon. They are only checking what you are allowed to take in the view of the surgery after..." John squeezed his eyes shut and a few wet droplets rolled down his face. "I have to say this. I should have left her the moment you told me she had shot you. I should have never got married to her in the first place. At least I can say I haven't bloody proposed to her! But..." his hand was again on Sherlock's cheek and it felt oh so good he wanted to melt into that feeling. "...but we got here now. And I am not letting you go. You idiot."
"John?" he felt himself floating apart again, words not linking into proper sentences, but that name still made sense. FriendSoldierDoctorOnlyMine.
"I do. The same. That thing. Just like you. I never... Never thought you would. I hoped, I sometimes thought that maybe..."
Since when do you call me John?
You'd be surprised.
No I wouldn't.
John's hand on his cheek.
Someone's hands at his elbow, putting in an IV port.
John's hand on his cheek, the thumb caressing his eyebrow.
Naltrexone coursing through his veins, up, up, to his brain.
John's hand on his other elbow, holding him down, down, stable, stable.
Heart and temperature monitors attached.
John's hand on his cheek, cradling it as he cried through the pain.
John's hand combing his hair away as he trashed in the restrains.
And John's voice like bright gleaming letters on the backdrop of midnight blue velvet dressing gown.
"I'm glad you told me the truth, finally."