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"What kind of a nurse are you?" he seethed, looking at her. "He clearly needs medical attention - if it had been me in that bonfire, he would be here demanding I submit myself to examination at least!"

"Well, I can provide medical attention quite well, thank you very much, Mr Holmes. Unlike you, I do have a degree in medicine!"

"You are a nurse," he snorted derisively.

"Sh..."

"Don't you dare diss nurses," she stepped up to him, eyes narrowing in annoyance. "I may be a nurse, but it's still closer to a doctor than a jumped-up chemistry drop-out!"

"Mar..."

"I may be just a chemistry drop-out, but I don't believe you have necessary equipment at home to manage smoke inhalation and probable poisoning!"

"Sher..."

"I'll manage. If I think he needs it, I will call for an ambulance."

"Ma..."

"I have already called for an ambulance," he informed her. "They will be here any minute."

"Sherlock! Mary!"

They turned to the doctor, seated on Sherlock's coat under a tree.

"Would you two just shut up?" he asked testily. "I..." he coughed. "I don't need a hospital."

"That's what I keep telling him!"

John rose slowly, propping himself on the tree.

"Yeah. Good to go. Thank you, Sherlock, but the ambulance will not be nee..."

 

#

 

Ambulance was, in fact, needed. Mostly it was because John had tripped and almost got a concussion, but also for the underlying reason of the stumble. And the third reason, if not obviously visible immediately, was the fact that in the action of pulling John out of the bonfire, Sherlock's injuries had opened and fresh blood was now seeping from between the ridges of torn skin. That worsened even further when he dived in order to save John from breaking his head. The quick move and desperately outstretched hands helped - John's head didn't hit the ground, having been cushioned by Sherlock's gloved palm - but it also pulled and moved around the barely closed gates to painful hell of Sherlock's back.

John was barely conscious by the time the paramedics arrived, but he kept holding on to Sherlock's hand - Sherlock's hand! - with both of his, unwilling or unable to let go. Which meant that the paramedics finally guided the two of them into the ambulance, leaving Mary to follow in a cab.

An oxygen mask put of John's face successfully prevented him from arguing with the ambulance crew and, after a few breaths, he seemed to settle, blinking in surprise over the edge of the mask.

"Good, clean oxygen," Sherlock pointed out, leaning against the side of the ambulance and relaxing slightly, trying not to wince too obviously. "Focus on it, John. Sweet, sweet oxygen."

"What happened to him?" one of the medics looked up from where he was checking some readouts. "First degree burns, scalp lacerations, smoke inhalation, that much you said to the dispatcher. What else? How did he even get these...?"

"Someone had put him in the bonfire. Probably drugged him, too," Sherlock closed his eyes, just for a moment. Just for...

"What? Who the fuck...?" the man looked closer. First at John, then at Sherlock. Again at John.

"His wallet is in his jeans pocket," Sherlock pointed out. "His military ID is there, so is his EHIC card and his driving licence. Check his name, if you really need to be sure. You anyway have to confirm his identity, don't you?"

"Yes, we have to do it," the other medic interrupted them. "But I know him, and I know you," he nodded to Sherlock. "I thought you were supposed to be dead."

"Well, I'm not," he shrugged. "But John might just as well have died today, so, if you wouldn't mind, can you please start paying more attention to him?"

The first man nodded at John's hand he was just now covering with a dressing. "He must have been holding something pretty hot. Won't be using these hands for some time yet. I hope the blistering won't go too deep..." he picked up the other hand and checked the palm carefully. "Not good."

A grumble from behind the mask reminded them that the patient was there, conscious and rather irascible.

"Second degree, doctor Watson," the man holding his right hand informed him with a grimace. "This will be a bitch to treat."

Another grumble.

"You are lucky you didn't try to go and treat it at home. Doctors are the worst patients... And I am one, so I should know."

"He is lucky to have a reasonable partner who knew when to call for help," the other medic added absently. "I wish more people would behave sensibly with burns. This kind of injury can mess you up..."

Sherlock blinked.

"I-ah-I'm not his... I mean, we're not..."

John made a weird sound, but stayed behind his mask.

"No worries... Nobody is going to judge you or whatever. People will be more surprised you are alive than..."

The ambulance stopped abruptly and the door was thrown open.

"Smoke inhalation, second and first degree burns, lacerations, bruising, possible drug usage, substance unknown."

"He was..." Sherlock straightened and pushed off the car wall "Agh. He was put in a bonfire and set on fire. He may have a puncture mark somewhere, they must have used something quick-acting..."

Everyone around John paused for a moment, looking at him wide-eyed.

"Yes, alive. Can you please help John now? Pneumonia is the most... possible outcome, isn't it?"

"Ah, sir?" one of the nurses approached him, hands held open. "Can I please see your back?"

"What? It's only my coat..." he shrugged it off, looking at it suspiciously.

"Well, unless it is your coat that is bleeding, I need to see your actual back, sir. Because, in my experience, clothing alone doesn't leave fresh blood marks like this," she pointed to something inside the ambulance and Sherlock turned finally.

Oh.

Indeed.

A smear of fresh blood that had seeped through his shirt, suit jacket and the coat, covered part of the wall where he had been leaning.

"Oh," a small voice said from behind him and he twirled in place, facing a now-sitting-up, maskless John Watson. "Sher..."

"Nothing. It's nothing," he tried quickly. "It's just..."

"Don't you fucking dare say it's just a scratch," John threatened in low, smoke-rough voice. "You go inside and get this looked at. At least for as long as I am getting treated."

"But, John, it's nothing..."

"Nothing doesn't bleed like this," the senior nurse pulled him by his elbow and manoeuvred him to the side. "Your boyfriend is perfectly right. He has the smoke inhalation to be taken care of and you wouldn't be anyway let into the room right now, so why not let me check your wounds... Oh my God."

His jacket was off now and she was looking at his blood-soaked shirt.

"You are coming with me, mister," she caught his elbow again and guided him inside. "Whatever the hell the two of you were thinking!" she shouted towards the surprised paramedics, now watching the scene with dismay, and turned to a little radio in her hand. "I need an operating theatre and someone who can do suturing... Give me someone from plastics department!"

 

#

 

Later, much later he found out that while he was unconscious and undergoing an exercise in needlepoint by a plastic surgeon, the hospital had contacted the persons they had on file for both him and John, making it the first face-to-face meeting of Harry and Mycroft. She was wobbly, but sober (temporarily, he would guess); he was stiff as ever and even marginally useful. That presented itself when one Mary Morstan showed at the hospital, demanding access to John.

That would have been embarrassing, considering he and John had been put in the same recovery room and no amount of garbled explanations could make the nurses stop chattering about how sweet it was that they cared for each other in such visible ways.

As another overenthusiastic young lady left them alone - until next check! - he glanced at his friend. With John reclining in a half-sitting position, hands dressed and turned up and an oxygen mask fitted carefully over his face to allow him to doze, should he want to; and with Sherlock lying flat on his front, they couldn't really converse too extensively, but the silence was slowly getting to Sherlock.

However it was John who broke it.

"I don't mind," he whispered hoarsely, slowly and quietly, barely audible over the concerto of the hospital happening around them. "He can keep her away."

"Why...?"

"She didn't care," John pointed out flatly. "Wanted me back home. You wanted me properly looked after."

"Well..." Sherlock tried to gather his thoughts, but with the way his back was pulsing it was a challenge. "Yes. But you..."

"What kind of a nurse would say that I should go home?" John's voice wavered. "You asked her that. And she said she would be able to help," he coughed and breathed deeply again for a minute or two. "But we don't have all of this at home. Oxygen. Burn dressings. Makes no sense."

"Can't imagine," he grunted and sighed. "Would be... irresponsible."

"Just like you two," Harry sighed from the door. "One should be sleeping off a major skin reconstruction and grafting and the other should shut up or forever damage his vocal chords."

"But... Mary..." he couldn't turn up and see her, which was aggravating.

"Mary started an argument with Mycroft and it escalated..." she paused and coughed. "Anyway, I think something about packing your suitcases was banded about. Would you rather have me do it, or some minion of Mycroft's?"

John groaned.

"Ask for two of Mycroft's men to help your sister and just get it over with," Sherlock suggested. "Because I have a feeling about Miss Morstan and I'm afraid she is not the nice kind of lady who will wait until you are ambulatory."

His friend just leaned on his pillows and sighed.

"Fine. Fine..." John shook his head slowly. "Harry, please have Mycroft send someone and pack my stuff. I will figure out later where I should..."

"Baker Street," Sherlock interrupted, his tone not allowing - not even accepting the potential of - a protest or resistance.

"Baker Street," John sighed in relief.

"Baker Street," Harry repeated softly.