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Bullpup Press
A Creative-Writing House

Ch. 1    Ch. 2    Ch. 3    Ch. 4    Ch. 5    Ch. 6    Ch. 7    Ch. 8    Ch. 9    Ch. 10    Ch. 11    Ch. 12    Ch. 13    Ch. 14    Ch. 15    Ch. 16    Ch. 17    Ch. 18    Ch. 19    Ch. 20    Epilog

Event Horizon: Chapter 18


Carole Manny & Lynn Walker

The same annoying buzz woke him but it was fading, fading, replaced gradually by someone calling his name.

"Dr. Watson. Dr. Watson, can you hear me? Come on, love. Time to wake up."

Now his hand was being patted. Irritating. His eyes felt sticky, dry and burning behind their closed lids. His tongue was stuck, too, to the roof of his mouth, and he'd never been so exhausted in his life. Waking up was the last thing he wanted to do, and he tried to retreat back into the velvety soft darkness.

More hand patting, more insistent. "Open your eyes, Dr. Watson. We're not going to let you alone until you do, so you might as well get it over with."

"John." Sherlock's intimately familiar voice, taut with worry. "Please."

Finally he managed it. He squinted at the light, then blinked a few times until he resolved the broad, friendly face of a grey-haired nurse. That explained the hand-patting. Did he fall asleep during rounds? Christ, that was embarrassing.

"Look who's here," she said, pointing across the bed to indicate Sherlock, who was watching him anxiously and looking perfectly awful. His suit coat was thrown over the back of his chair, his shirttail was half untucked, his sleeves rolled up. The pupils of his red-rimmed eyes were dilated with emotion but he brightened when John's eyes met his.

"I'm Sharon," the nurse said cheerfully, giving his bandaged hand one last gentle squeeze before she let go and busied herself with the PCA pump. "You're in the PACU. Dr. Bramlage said your surgery went very well. Flying colours, and all that. Says he's met you before, from when your brother was in hospital a few months ago. There's your small world for you. How are you feeling, love? Any pain?"

He had to think about that for a second. "No," he decided, his voice a hoarse whisper.

"No, I should think not," she said with satisfaction, re-securing the loop of supplemental oxygen line behind his left ear with the casual, competent manner of a professional who'd done the same thing thousands of times. "We can't let you have anything to drink yet, but I'll be back in a bit with some ice chips. Your brother can help you with that. " She smiled, gave his foot a pat as she went by, and disappeared.

John looked at Sherlock. "'Brother'?" he said. His throat was dry as hell.

Sherlock shrugged. "They wouldn't let me stay until I said I was family."

"They blind?"

"Just unobservant."

"I'm far better-looking than you."

That had the desired effect of making Sherlock smile, but then John peered more closely at him, frowning. "You okay?"

"Of course. Just been-"

"You're bleeding."

Sherlock glanced down at himself. John's blood. From yesterday. "I-No. No, it's…fine."

On the chair next to him Sherlock's computer stood open to a familiar page. "That my blog?"

"Hm? Oh. Erm, yes. Your greatly-exaggerated story of how we met. Just, you know: reviewing. Makes me feel so much cleverer."

"Touch and go, then?"

"Of course not. It's merely an improvement over three year-old issues of Car."

John smiled and closed his eyes. Sherlock silently watched him, his eyes never leaving John's face. For the first time in hours he permitted himself a sliver of optimism, optimism he'd fiercely rejected when it was offered by his brother, Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, even the surgeon. But now John was awake. John, the one person whose word he was willing to take on that or any other subject.

For as long as he could remember, Sherlock Holmes had passionately sought to learn, to know, to understand. Both the pursuit and attainment of understanding almost invariably brought him unalloyed pleasure-until he knelt helplessly in an alley holding John's hand as he bled out. Although he had apologized more than once for the emotional wreckage he created by faking his death and while he meant it sincerely at least that many times, the implications were never fully real to him until he felt the hands of the paramedics pulling him away from John, until he stood there as they worked, powerless to help, irrelevant, unable even to tell John that he knew and that he was sorry, that finally he understood the scale of the grief and anguish he had caused, because by then John could no longer hear him and might never hear him again.

More than anything he wanted John to hear what he had to say now. "John," he began, and when John's dark eyes were focused on him he said, "I'm sorry. About all of it. Barts. Appledore. Yesterday. It wasn't supposed to be like that. I never meant to…It wasn't supposed to hurt you again. I wasn't-" His throat closed and he faltered and stopped, looking down and blinking rapidly.

John didn't have the energy to answer and he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer, but he edged his hand toward Sherlock, turned it palm up. Sherlock hesitated, then took John's hand in his. He felt the slight answering pressure that absolved him, and then John drifted away again.

– End Chapter 18 –

Ch. 1    Ch. 2    Ch. 3    Ch. 4    Ch. 5    Ch. 6    Ch. 7    Ch. 8    Ch. 9    Ch. 10    Ch. 11    Ch. 12    Ch. 13    Ch. 14    Ch. 15    Ch. 16    Ch. 17    Ch. 18    Ch. 19    Ch. 20    Epilog

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