Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, and am making no profit from their use, more's the pity.
Warnings: Non-con and slash, Sherlock/John.
Summary: Written for a prompt on the kinkmeme: Before shoving him in the explosive vest, Moriarty fucked John, viciously. John makes it through the whole encounter with Moriarty and Homles via his own badass soldier nerves of steel, but afterwards, when he and Sherlock are admitted to the hospital for minor burns and abrasions and shock, the hospital staff find other injuries on John.
(Title page by birddi)
Three days into his hospital stay, John was beginning to wonder if Sherlock ever actually left the room. Sherlock was there when he woke up, spent the day pacing, deducing things about the nurses and complaining about hospitals in general and this one in particular, and he was still there when John went to sleep. When John woke in the night, startled into alertness by a nightmare or by the ghost of malicious laughter, Sherlock was there at his bedside, his eyes on John.
Only once had he actually seen Sherlock sleeping. He'd awoken last night after a surprisingly peaceful rest at about two in the morning (the painkillers he'd been given on the first day and the various naps he'd slid into at their behest were really screwing with his internal clock) to find Sherlock asleep in the chair beside his bed. He was folded into it in a position that would make John worry over anyone else, but the way Sherlock tended to sprawl over the couch and kitchen table had long ago led John to decide the man had a spine made of rubber. Sherlock's legs were folded up and tucked into his chest, while he was somehow simultaneously resting his head on the arm of the chair.
John had smiled a little in spite of himself – he'd found himself wondering if Sherlock ever slept, and it was always nice to see that Sherlock was still a human being, however much he protested against it.
It was then that he'd realised that Sherlock's hand was on his knee. He hadn't noticed it before; Sherlock wasn't resting against the bed or leaning towards him or anything so obvious. The taller man was curled into his impossible position on the chair, limbs folded up like he'd been attempting origami with his own body. It just his right arm that was stretched out, his hand resting on John's leg. Not grabbing or clenching, just resting there, as though to confirm John was still with him.
Still half-asleep himself, John hadn't wanted to wake him – he'd just placed his hand carefully over Sherlock's, closed his eyes once more and drifted back into unconsciousness.
When he woken up five hours later, John was surprised to realise that Sherlock hadn't moved. Though a tapping, jerking leg betrayed his agitation, his hand was still resting beneath John's, even though his current position made it a bit of an awkward stretch.
“Have you gone home at all?” John asked, by way of announcing he'd woken up.
Sherlock started a little as John's voice snapped him out of his reverie, and his mouth quirked. “Not as such, no.”
John followed that train of thought to its conclusion. “Please tell me you've at least taken a shower.”
“I've used the shower when you're asleep,” Sherlock said, looking almost offended.
“How have you been getting food?”
Sherlock said nothing, and John's eyes narrowed. “You have been getting food, haven't you? If you've starved yourself for three days straight-”
“I've eaten,” Sherlock muttered, almost mulish.
John cast his mind back, and seemed to remember complaints about hospital food mixed in with Sherlock's disdain for the places in general. Coupled with the fact that John hadn't had much appetite recently and he could guess where Sherlock had found sustenance.
“Have you been eating my leftovers?”
“It's not like you were going to eat them.”
“You need something more substantial than that,” John grumbled, but with no real force behind his words. He'd largely given up on lecturing Sherlock about what he ate, so long as he ate something.
“I've managed perfectly well.”
How often had John heard those words in regards to Sherlock's eating habits? Remembering their previous arguments on the subject, amusement brushed John like a swift breeze.
His laugh felt tight and wrong, like he'd forgotten how to do it.
“How have you managed to stay here all this time? Hospitals have these little things called visiting hours, you see, and the doctors and nurses tend to get a little irritable when you ignore them. Should I suspect Mycroft, or did you just deduce things about the hospital staff until they got scared and left you alone?”
Sherlock looked so put-out at the question John assumed Mycroft had made some calls or called in some favours or done whatever he did to control the world.
“Why'd you break the phone?” he asked abruptly.
He'd been springing that question on Sherlock at random intervals for the past two days in hopes of a response. Given that Sherlock had never replied once, John wasn't hopeful, but he kept at it.
Three days ago, he'd emerged from the bathroom to find Sherlock sitting in his chair with Lestrade standing over him, waving around an evidence bag with a handful of broken plastic and pink rubber inside, ranting about impulse control. Apparently Sherlock had smashed the pink phone Moriarty had sent him into little tiny pieces, and Lestrade had been less than pleased at the destruction of evidence.
Thinking about the phone inevitably led to thoughts of Moriarty, and John told his brain to shut up – this had been a good day so far, and he wasn't going to remember why he was in the hospital for at least an hour.
Except he was going to remember, of course he was. When you were lying in a hospital bed, there wasn't much to do but remember, as he had been doing for the past three days. It didn't help that he had police and doctors swarming around him like a cloud of benevolent wasps – they were kind and sympathetic and certainly meant well, but they were really only reminding John of what had happened.
As if he needed extra reminders with his injuries in the stiff and itchy stage of healing. He kept feeling the need to scratch at his wrists and back, but the impulse was easily stifled; his damaged muscle were now tight and hard, and very difficult to move. His left shoulder was a mass of throbbing, raw nerves that sent shooting pains down his arm whenever he moved it.
John knew an analgesic would make him feel better, but he refused to take any more painkillers. They made him feel sleepy and stupid, and the lethargy that seeped through his body was just a little too reminiscent of being tranquilised for his liking.
He didn't like the drugs, he didn't like everyone stepping gingerly around him like he'd crumble if they breathed on him too hard...John just wanted to go home.
So he was going to. Last night, John had made up his mind that if he didn't get discharged today, he'd leave against medical advice.
It was almost amusing. He'd always thought people did that were idiots courting disaster, but now he understood why someone might be desperate to get away from the hospital. Besides, there wasn't really much the hospital could do for him at this point – it was just a matter of laying around and waiting to heal, and John would feel much, much better about the world if he could do that back in Baker Street.
It wasn't like he was completely clueless – he'd come back if he broke his stitches or started bleeding again.
And Sherlock was going to help him do it.
John opened his mouth to inform Sherlock just how he was going to be instrumental in getting John released from the hospital, when he realised Sherlock was – for once – completely oblivious to everything that had just passed through John's head. He was still scowling at the wall.
In a way, John wasn't truly surprised; mentioning the phone, when Sherlock didn't simply pretend he hadn't heard him, often made Sherlock glare at the wall or the window or John's chart or anything else that happened to offend him for upwards of ten minutes. Sometimes his upper lip began to curl, not like he was snarling, exactly...but as though he was considering it.
John made himself speak, glad that his throat was almost entirely recovered by this point. “Sherlock, there's something I'm going to need your help with...”
Two hours later, John was in a wheelchair on his way out of the hospital, feeling the ghost of a true smile on lips. It didn't actually appear – the muscles seemed almost atrophied, unable to rearrange themselves as John remembered, like he'd suffered some kind of nerve damage – but the feel of it lingered.
John wasn't very happy about the wheelchair, but he'd learned to pick his battles. If they were going to let him go home, he'd let himself be pushed to the taxi stand in a wheelchair. Usually a nurse would be pushing him, but Sherlock had been rather scary about that. In fact, Sherlock had been rather scary ever since John had been 'released into his care'. He'd cast aspersions about the nutritional value of the food John had been given, insulted the qualifications of doctors and nurses alike, and if it had been anyone else, John would have said Sherlock was fussing over him.
The back of John's neck prickled uncomfortably as they moved through the corridors – people kept giving them sidelong glances, and he couldn't shake the feeling that they all knew what had happened to him. That the rape was a brand, a stamp in blood-red ink scribed across his flesh, that everyone could read at a single glance. John knew it was ridiculous, knew it was nothing more his own paranoia talking...but he still felt it.
“I killed my fish, you know.”
John tipped his head back to get a look at Sherlock's face. “You had a fish?”
Sherlock nodded, and while it was hard to tell upside-down, John thought he looked...worried. “When I was eight. I forgot to feed it, and it died.”
John wasn't entirely sure how to respond that. “Well...I'm sorry your fish died?”
“I was running a series of experiments, and I became...preoccupied,” Sherlock said, his tone just a shade defensive.
John thought he could see where this was going; Sherlock had been jumpy ever since that doctor had told him that John was his responsibility now. He had a feeling people rarely trusted Sherlock with their well-being.
“Sherlock, I'll be fine – unlike your fish, if I need something, I'm not going to be quiet about it.”
Sherlock still looked unsettled. “Still, are you sure you wouldn't prefer someone with more experience in...this sort of thing? Like Sarah?”
Sherlock actually grimaced as he said the last two words, looking almost physically ill at the prospect.
John only barely held himself back from grimacing as well. Sarah had visited twice, and both times had been unpleasant and awkward. John had enlisted Sherlock's help to hide his chart so she wouldn't know exactly why he was in the hospital, and Sarah seemed to be under the impression he'd been tortured . It was at least partly accurate – and with his bruises now turning yellow and green John knew he certainly looked the part.
Their conversation had been stilted and full of uncomfortable pauses, some part of John reluctant to break up with her while he was in a hospital bed – he just had a sense that it wasn't done. When he split with Sarah, he wanted to be able to stand on his own two feet and look her straight in the eyes when he did it.
“No,” John settled for replying.
“I know you don't want her to know-”
“It's more than that,” John interrupted, feeling they should be very clear on this point – Sarah was not going to get involved with his recovery. “I'm going to break up with her.”
There was a significant silence from Sherlock. Then, “Why?”
“Better now than later,” John replied, with a lightness he didn't feel. Any thought about the break-up inevitably roused memories of exactly why he was ending the relationship, prompting his stomach to churn and his skin to itch all over again.
“What makes you think you'd have to break up with her later?” Sherlock asked, with the air of someone selecting their words very carefully.
John sighed, and resigned himself to having to lay it all out for his friend – Sherlock wasn't the sort to just let something go.
“Our relationship isn't strong enough,” John said eventually. “We've only been dating for a few weeks; we don't have anywhere near enough of a foundation to deal with...all this. And I won't bring her down with me.”
A rather simplistic explanation, perhaps, but he'd learned Sherlock needed those kinds of explanations when it came to emotional matters. John thought that would satisfy Sherlock's curiosity and that he'd dismiss it from his mind in the next second, and so was surprised to hear a swift intake of breath from behind him, as though Sherlock was in distress.
He tipped his head back again, to meet silvery eyes that had become as dark as the London sky right before a storm.
“I'll tell you now, John, to get any ideas about 'dragging people down with you' out of your head,” Sherlock spat. “And if you think for an instant that I'll tolerate-”
“I don't mean you!” John blurted, taken aback at Sherlock's misinterpretation. “I'm not going to leave you!”
He decided not to examine why that felt more like a reassurance you gave to a spouse than one you gave to a friend, and charged onwards with his explanation.
“We...we have a better foundation,” John said honestly. Then he forced himself to crack a smile. “And besides, I'm not completely convinced you wouldn't starve to death without me.”
Sherlock didn't smile in return. “So several months friendship is better than a few weeks of dating? The longer a relationship has been going on, the better this 'foundation' that you referred to?”
“Sort of.” John didn't fancy dissecting the reasons why he trusted Sherlock over a trained doctor, and faced forward again so he wouldn't have to look Sherlock in the eyes as he spoke. “And also because...well, we just seem to click. That's never happened to me before.”
“Nor to me,” Sherlock whispered, in a voice so soft the response sounded more accidental than anything else.
For some reason, that admission warmed John, and he tipped his head back again to catch Sherlock's expression. The taller man looked pensive and almost...wistful?
John reached over his shoulder – a little painfully, but it was worth it – and patted Sherlock's hand. “Don't worry, we'll be fine.”
And in that moment, John could almost make himself believe it.
Sherlock sometimes wondered just what it was about John that let the other man read him so easily. He knew that by other's standards – by normal standards – John's inferences were chancy and sometimes far off the mark, but Sherlock had made it his business to be inscrutable. And with most people, he was, but with John...with John, it didn't quite seem to work.
Sometimes it did, and he surprised John with a bit of acting or those revelations that John always marvelled at. Other times Sherlock had to run the conversation through his head again just to make sure he hadn't actually shouted his thoughts and motives aloud, so well did John seem to know them. Usually it was pleasant – Sherlock had never had anyone understand him on the level John did, save Mycroft, perhaps – but occasionally it was so unexpected, so unprecedented, that it was almost uncomfortable.
Like now, when John had said he'd be fine under Sherlock's care. Seemingly ignoring the fact that Sherlock had informed him the last living creature to be placed in his care had died.
It was rather new to Sherlock, being trusted.
Still, he felt somehow obligated to alert John to the staggering array of better options for his care, Sarah among them; surely any sensible man would prefer to be looked after by a doctor rather than a sociopath? It was true that on the two occasions Sarah had visited, John had been distinctly uneasy in her presence, but Sherlock had assumed it was the pressure of deceiving her as to exactly why he was in the hospital.
He hadn't expected John to be planning on the ending the relationship.
Sherlock ruthlessly suppressed the flicker of happiness that sparked up at the thought of John breaking up with Sarah. He had a good idea of exactly why John thought he should do it, and that wasn't something to be happy about; on the contrary, it made him feel sick.
He'd asked anyway, and had found himself quelling the urge to hit something when John expressed a wish not to 'drag someone down with him', as though what had happened had somehow rendered him damaged goods. John wasn't tainted – Moriarty had hurt him, yes (and Moriarty would pay dearly for it if Sherlock had anything to say about it), but he hadn't changed who John was.
He didn't smile at John's almost painful attempt at a joke because it wasn't funny in the slightest; he wouldn't starve to death without John, but he certainly wouldn't do well. In some ways, it was almost funny – before John, he'd been perfectly content with his life, but now the prospect of returning to that kind of existence filled him with something very close to horror. In the space of a few months, John Watson had seeped into Sherlock's world like some kind of strange disease, virulent, contagious and all-consuming.
As though he could sense his upset, and even though he was obviously stiff and sore, John twisted to pat Sherlock's hand. Sherlock stifled the impulse to seize onto his fingers and hold them in place.
“Don't worry, we'll be fine.”
And Sherlock knew it was true. Because beneath the bruises and the shadows in his eyes, John was as he had always been; shining and unbreakable and absolutely glorious.
“Oh, and Sherlock?” John said suddenly, as though just remembering something. “Why'd you break the phone?”
AN: As you can see, things are getting a bit lighter now, as John's at the point where he's trying to convince himself that it wasn't really that bad and he can get over it quickly. Obviously, that's not going to last...
And many, many thanks to my marvellous beta, ginbitch !