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A Trial Of Friendship

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A Trial of Friendship

John was in a rush. He was hurrying to get back to his flat. They had forecast heavy rain showers overnight and he was already late leaving the clinic. He had stayed late to finish off the mountains of paperwork he needed to have done by the end of the week, his pile seemed endless but he was eventually able to get it all done. He was rushing to get home before the rain started.

He looked at his watch and was surprised that it was a little bit after 1:30AM. He really needed to start leaving his office earlier! Today now marked the 243rd day since his best friend’s death. Sherlock Holmes had died and honestly John wished he had taken him with him. It would have been much easier than living through the aftermath. In the months since his deaths John has been accosted almost everywhere he went. Everyone asking him questions about Sherlock. It was one thing to want to be in the spotlight, but John certainly didn’t. He was just trying to move on with his life. It didn’t help that some people wouldn’t leave him alone. Mycroft Holmes was at the top of the list.

A few days after Sherlock’s funeral Mycroft had approached him, offering to pay Sherlock’s half of the rent if it made John stay in Baker Street. John was almost disgusted that his attempts at bribery. He was not going to accept charity from the man. Instead, John had moved couple of tube stations away. It was not as central as Baker Street, but it was actually closer to the new clinic he worked at. It was easier for him to work these later shifts when he didn’t need to worry about catching the last tube. Now he could focus on his work and walk home on the late days.

That’s what he was doing now. The streets weren’t particularly busy at this hour, and John was able to slip away unnoticed for the most part, which was fine by him.

“Hey!”

John wasn’t sure if the strange, rough voice was directed at him, but considering there weren’t many other people walking the street at this hour, it must have been. From what he could tell from the brief sound, it coming from behind him but it had happened so fast, he couldn’t really be sure. Not wanting a confrontation, he chose to ignore to voice and continue walking down the long, eerie road back towards his apartment. It was getting late, and didn’t want to even think of the possibility of anything occurring right now. All he wanted to think about was how nice it would be lying comfortably in his nice warm bed, not walk in the impending rainstorm that had been forecast. There were already tiny droplets falling from the sky, so he was determined to make it home before it got any worse.

“Hey, you! I’m talking to you!”

The voice called again, something that only made his anxiety reach a new level. It was late, surely he must be reading the signs wrong. That was what he was hoping for, but before he was even fully aware of anything, he felt a meaty fist grab his arm and he was suddenly forced to turn around and look the stranger in the face.

His eyes quickly found him, an older man, probably in his mid to late forties, tall and broad-shouldered with a giant scar starting right below his left ear and stretching down the line of his face and past his nose. His culprit seemed to have quite a few days of stubble growth, and with their close proximity, he could see how the scar was deep enough to stop the line of facial hair around it. One quick inhale let him know that his attacker was likely under the influence, the familiar scent of scotch staining the man’s breath. It was so strong, John had to stop himself from wanting to gag, almost tasting the vile liquid from the stench alone.

He could feel his body instantly try to fight back, his arm meeting the strangers as he tried to pry it away, but this only made him all the more aware of just how tight the man’s grip was on his arm, and the abundance of fear soon encrypt upon his entire body.

“Lemme go!” He cried as he roughly attempted pull his arm back to his own body, though unsuccessfully. Almost as if in response, the attacker quickly stood up straighter, standing to his full height, well over six feet, in a clear attempt to intimidate him. Well, that was the stranger’s second mistake of the evening. Height rarely imitated him; he’d taken out men twice his since back in Afghanistan, so he wasn’t going to let this drunk get the better of him.

“What the bloody hell do you want?” He wasn’t going to back down, not now to this drunk.

“You that fellow, John Watson? That sorry son-of-a-bitch?”

For the second time that evening, the man’s strange voice entered his head, only this time, John could easily note a strong Cockney accent, and now once the light from the streetlight was shining down upon the drunk, he could see that several of the man’s teeth were missing, particularly the front two. Coming to this realization, it took all the effort he had not to roll his eyes. Over the past several months, different people, complete strangers and mysterious reporters alike, all seemed to have no issues walking up to him, even in the middle of the street like this, and demanding answers and interviews revolving around Sherlock and his dramatic fall. While he had done his very best to ignore them, he could only take so much.

Thankfully, or maybe not so thankful, the man in front of him was clearly not a reporter. He figured the man was just some drunk who wanted to use him as a punching bag for his less than fortunate life. The fact that the stranger seemed to know his name was surprising, but he’d been in the news so much recently, the creep must have just seem or heard of him somewhere.

Unfortunately for the mysterious stranger, John had much better things to do than to repeat the same story over and over again. He couldn’t do it anymore, he just couldn’t. It was just too painful. The fact that the rain was now pouring down on him, soaking him in a way that felt like he’ never be warm again, he just wanted to get home. He did his best to hide just how much the cold was bothering him, doing his best to ignore the twinge in his right leg or the shivers running down his spine as a heavy gust of wind blew past them.

“Listen, I’m sorry, but I’ve not got the time for another interview right now. It’s late an-”He never had a chance to finish his sentence before he felt something hard, definitely metal and definitely cold, connect with the side of his head and the next thing he knew, everything was black for a quick moment, his body quickly falling to the cold, wet ground.

***

Pain; that was the first thing that registered into John’s mind as he slowly came back into the conscious world. His head was throbbing, a pounding hard ache was propelling into his temple and he immediately brought his hand over to his face, unconsciously rubbing the freezing raindrops into his skin as he attempted to shield his eyes from the downpour as he carefully opened them. He couldn’t tell if it was from the rain or from his head, but his vision seemed to be blurry, the buildings swaying in and out of his focus on top of a constant ringing in his ears to make his aching head even worse.

As soon as he lifted his head just mere inches off the ground he became very aware of how badly he must have hit it as his world went spinning again, and he brought his hand back down to the cold cement to steady himself as he finally opened his eyes to take in his surroundings again.

Although he could barely see straight, he could tell, obviously from the rain that he was still outside and reckoned that he couldn’t have travelled very far from where he was before. The large drunk must have dragged him here. It appeared to be in the middle of an alleyway, musty old buildings still looking somewhat familiar in his blurred daze. He couldn’t be that far away, so he was confident that he could find a way out of this situation.

When the pain of his head became too much, he brought his hand up to where he could swear he could already feel a large bump forming, and let out a groan when his hand connected with the sticky thickness of blood. Following the trail, he knew the blood was dripping down the side of his ear and his face, and this seemed to snap him out of whatever daze he was in as he straighten himself out, ignoring his pain as he lifted his upper body off the ground and begun looking for the annoying drunk who attacked him in the first place. Surely the idiot was still around. Nobody would go through the trouble of knocking him unconscious just to leave him alone.

With that thought, his hand immediately went down to his jacket pocket, and was thoroughly surprised to still feel his wallet in there. Yes, his attacker must still be around, especially since this clearly wasn’t a mugging. Much more assured, he did his best to steady his vision whilst he turned his head, deadest on finding his attacker.

His sharp blue eyes barely set upon the man before he felt a swift, hard kick into his ribs, causing him to double back to the cement in pain, an unexpected groan leaving his mouth as he curled himself in a ball, doing his very best to protect himself from more attacks that he sensed may be coming.

“Sorry there, Johnny-boy!” That was definitely the voice of his previous attacker, there was no doubt about that.

“Consider this pay-back for that fucker, Sherlock fucking Holmes.” Another voice, one he didn’t recognize. It was male, that much he could tell, and it had the genuine raspy sound of a smoker that he’s heard in the previous, but it was much higher pitched, almost flamboyant. He wasn’t even aware of how close this one was to him before he felt another kick, this one landing directly to his lower back and he tried his best not to cry out as the pain begun to overtake his body, hot tears now warming his face as the flowed down his cheeks.

The next thing he was aware of was the pain register through his entire body as a serious of vicious kicks started coming down upon him in full force. He didn’t even know how many men there were, two, three? He couldn’t he sure. All that he was certain on was that he was in pain that came with each kick, each seeming increasingly harder and more painful than the last and he knew he wouldn’t survive much longer if he didn’t do something and quick.

This thought seemed to snap him out of the submissive death role his body had easily accepted, and he tried to get his feet under him to get in better position to fight back, but it was all for nothing out as a particularly brutal kick, this one he thought was from the original drunk, but couldn’t be sure, made contact with his chest and he felt as one of his already battered ribs break, the pain suddenly becoming so much worse. He cried out and quickly fell back on his chest. At this, the attack seemed to come to a halt.

“Oi! That didn’t sound too good, Johnny. Remember when this is all and done that this is only happening to you because of fucking Sherlock Holmes!”

The man speaking, he suspected it to the be the flamboyant one, the more unknown man, instantly stomped his heel down onto his vulnerable left shoulder that he accidentally left exposed, and the only thing he saw was red, red bloody pain. He knew he was screaming but he couldn’t think past the pain in his shoulder, as the man only seemed to increase the weight. It was radiating through his entire body, not a single inch of his body felt unaffected by pain, whether it be his head, shoulder, chest, or broken ribs, it was overwhelming and was beginning to consume his mind as little white dots started to cloud his vision.

It was like something inside him snapped, the pain in his body disappearing as he found himself acting on pure instinct, his hand that had previously been cradling his broken rib reached out and grabbed onto the closest ankle he could as he somehow found a hidden strength and ripped away at it. Instantly the man, the drunk, fell to the ground, letting out a loud, painful grunt as he fell.

It was almost like he now had a brief respite, and he gladly took it, all pressure now off his throbbing body. He tried to take a deep breathe but let out a slight hitch when he felt his ribs move, the pain easily reminding him of their fragile state. The pain only caused him curl even tighter into the tiny ball he had set for himself earlier. Sadly as he situated himself nice and tight, he could hear the grunts and groans from the fallen man and knew he’d have to fight back if he wanted to live after pulling that stunt, a thought that didn’t thrill his aching body.

“You little fucker!”

While he couldn’t be sure, John swore he heard the swift sound of a switch-blade flicker open, his panic immediately coming full force as his heart rate seemed to intensify. Right now, he wasn’t sure of anything beyond the pain in his shoulder, ribs and legs, combined with the resounding throbbing in his head, so he hoped he was wrong.

The drunk continued to approach him, and even with the panic in his system, John couldn’t bring himself to move his body as he felt a rough pair of hands flip him over onto his back, and offered no resistance. He was tired, so very, very tired. The raindrops now fell full force onto his face, and as odd as it was to admit, it felt nice. The coolness offered a contrast to his sweaty body and it only seemed to remind him just how alive he really was, despite all the pain.

This realization seemed to spark a new fire in him as he slowly opened his eyes, the raindrops falling directly into his sockets. Still, despite the blurred vision, he could easily now confirm the switch –blade from earlier, and could see it in the drunk’s hand as the man took a few paces closer towards him. He had just enough time to raise his arms and try to shift out of the way as the man suddenly swung the blade at him.

Everything happened so fast! One thing John was sure on was hearing his jacket tear open as the blade ripped through his left forearm dragging almost up to his elbow, in a low, deep thrash he as he cried out in agony. The pain was overbearing, but somehow, for some reason, he could feel as his body decided to act on pure adrenaline, his free hand reaching over and wrapping against the attackers, his nails digging themselves into the man’s skin until he felt the blood seep under his nails. The larger man let out a yelp and instantly dropped his body back to the ground. Although that was exactly what John wanted, he continued to dig his nails into his attacker, determined to cause as much pain as possible until the other guy, the one he’d basically forgotten about, Mr. Flamboyant, came back into his vision and landed a swift kick at to his arms, effectively making him lose his grip on the others leg as he drew himself back into the tiny ball he’d used for protection.

“C’mon Tim. We’re bein’ paid to ruff im’ up, no more. I ain’t willin’ ta lose some blood for this tiny welp!

The words barely register into John’s mind, though it sounded like they were coming from Mr. Flamboyant, the one unharmed at the moment. He didn’t know what concerned him more, the fact that he was too pitiful to do anything to stop this assault, or the fact that somebody was paying them? What the heck was going on?

“Yeah, yeah. Stupid fucker!”

 

With those words, clearly a response to the others, John could feel as a harsh kick was thrown to his already abused ribs and cried out as the throbbing pain immediately took focus of his mind. It overclouded his mind and he was barely aware of the footsteps slowly fading away as the strangers finally seemed to leave. While he couldn’t be sure if they had actually left, the footsteps seemed to be fading off into the distance and he was far too sore to turn around in loo. No, he didn’t think his body was capable of doing much of anything at this point.

*************

John slowly opened his eyes. His whole body, absolutely everything was throbbing and he couldn’t for the life of him remember why he’d be in such conditions. He couldn’t focus on any single aspect of his body that didn’t currently ache, something that was incredibly concerning. It was only now that he became of the harsh and bitterly cold rain that was falling onto his entire body at an uncontrollable tempo, the raindrops feeling more like pellets of ice than of the cool rain it should have been. God, his head was pounding and the raindrops did nothing to ease his pain. It felt like a giant sledgehammer was beating down onto his brain and he squinted his eyes to try and ease the pain, though it did nothing to help. Knowing that he was likely going to need some medication to ease the ache in his head, he reluctantly opened his eyes, determined to figure out what the hell he was doing lying on the ground, outside and in the rain.

From what he could tell, he seemed to be in the middle of a dark alleyway, the buildings appearing to be very tall, tell-tale musky and questionable looking fire escapes all being visible though his somewhat blurry vision. Okay, he definitely didn’t recognize this alleyway, not like he spent a whole lot of time in them in the first place (at least not since Sherlock’s death.) and he certainly didn’t remember walking down here on his own accord. Hell, he wasn’t even sure where here was.

Being as careful as he could, he gently tried to lean over onto his left arm to get himself on his feet, purposely trying not to put too much weight on it, though as soon as he even put the slightest amount of pressure he was assaulted with a flash of hot searing pain burning throughout his entire arm. He let out a small groan as he collapsed back down to the cold cement, cradling his sore arm against his chest. 

Now once he was suddenly more aware of his body, it was hard for him to ignore the raging fire burning in his chest, his ribs screaming out in protest at every inhale and exhale. What the bloody hell had happened to him? Could he have been attacked? That was the only thing that really made any sense. He closed his eyes and did his best to calm his breath, trying hard to focus on the last thing he was conscious for. He knew he was walking home, it was raining, and it had just started pouring from the high heavens… but all of that seemed normal, didn’t it? He didn’t even know! Just thinking back on these simple memories seemed to make him more confused than he had any right to be, something that if he was in his right state of mind, he’d be very concerned about. He… he must had been attacked. It was the only thing that made any sense!

As soon as he came this conclusion, he let go on his injured arm and used his good one to reach down into his pockets. Surprisingly, yet luckily, he managed to feel his heavy wallet, still coated with pounds coming from it, and his mobile, both of them intact. Strange…it couldn’t have been a regular mugging; they never would have left those items behind. It was just then that he realized how cold he was, this unsettling feeling starting to form in his stomach, almost like he’d never be warm ever again. Almost as soon as the realization came, his body started shivering in a frenzy as the rain continued pounding down into his body, effectively drenching him.

This is definitely not good, he thought to himself. His ribs were screaming at him, blaring out in constant pain, and judging how his last attempt went, he didn’t think he could even get up right now, much less get out of this weather to get dry. The only positive in this scenario was that he happened to have his mobile on him. He could call somebody, but it would just be a matter of whom?

There was no way he’d be going to the hospital, no way in hell. He just couldn’t deal with their constant questions, and knowing that they’d probably get the press and police involved somehow and things would fly out of control way too fast. No, he’d rather take his chances on his own. If all he had was a concussion, a couple cracked ribs, and a broken arm, he could deal with that back at his flat, no need for the hospital. He let out a long, pained sigh as he debated his options in his head, although it was clear there was only one person he could call. It made perfect sense, but… being perfectly honest with himself, he didn’t know if he could call them. It’d been so long…

Before he was really even aware of it, he could feel as his good hand reached down towards his mobile, hitting on the speed dial numbers. Just doing this simple act seemed to reinforce just how bad his concussion must have been, his vision blurring to the point where he couldn’t even make out the numbers on his phone. He could only hope he manage to hit the right number or else he’d have a lot of explaining to do, because the number he wanted to right next to the number of DI Lestrade, and the number on the opposite side was his sister, Harry. Neither of them were wonderful options, though as soon as he hit the tiny button, he lost his strain of thought and doubted just who he was calling.

Steadily he brought his mobile up to his ear and did his best not to cry out in the pain the tiny action caused to radiate though his body, and instead chose to focus on the dull, yet steady ringing of the line. Unsurprisingly it took a few minutes to connect, and he began to wonder just how bad this rain was. After the fifth ring he was ready to give up, but that was when he heard the familiar click of the line picking up.

“Hello?” The voice sounded very shaky and nervous, and he couldn’t figure out if he had actually meant to call this person or not. In fact, who was he even calling in the first place? The voice sounded so familiar, definitely feminine and despite the nervousness behind it, the voice sounded oddly comforting. This made him question just how many comforting females he even knew? Who was he calling again? He pulled the mobile and look at the current time and was utterly shocked. Bloody hell, it was 2AM!

“Uh, hello?” He responded back, still not entirely sure who he’d even called. Sure, he hit a number on his phone, but lord only knows what he pressed. What if he was talking to a complete stranger? Even if he was, what was he planning on doing anyway? He already determined that he wouldn’t be going to the hospital! Clearly he hadn’t planned this out in his mind very well.

“John, is that you?” The voice asked again, though she sounded somewhat more assured this time around, her voice holding more security and confidence. Still though, he couldn’t figure out where he recognised the voice from. There were only so many females he even knew well enough to have the number of on his speed dial.

“Uh, yes… um, who am I talking to?” For some reason he seemed to have the sense to know that he sounded extremely pathetic and stupid asking who he had called. He was the one who was bothering this person at 2AM, yet he didn’t have the sense to know who he was talking to, even after hearing the unique voice.

“John? Are you okay, John? This is Molly, Molly Hooper from Bart’s. You… uh, called me?”

Ah, Molly! Now that made a lot of sense and he felt like a complete idiot for not figuring it out sooner! He had to hand it to himself though, out of all the people he could have called, she was by-far the best option. Molly just seemed to have this trustworthy vibe about her, and he knew that she wouldn’t take him to the hospital, not he asked her not to. She was also a doctor, so unlike others, she could actually help him with his injuries, making the whole need for a hospital useless. Almost as if on cue he received another flash of pain from his left arm, causing him to let out a small groan as he cradled it closer to his throbbing chest.

“John?” Molly’s voice entered his mind again, this time sounding even more concerned, though somewhat in character to her regular self. Well, he had just grunted, so she had every right to be concerned. “Are you okay, John? Where are you?”

Her question threw him off a bit, though it was a very good question to ask, one he didn’t even know the answer to. Where the bloody hell was he? He had no idea. He didn’t even remember getting here, wherever here even was, so how was he supposed to get her to help him if he didn’t even know where he was? Nothing made sense to him, absolutely nothing. Ignoring the burning fire of pain, he turned his body around, forcing himself to take in all the different buildings, though nothing seemed clear between his already blurry vision, and the heavy rain coming down upon him, only making the task harder.

“Shit…” Everything was just so blurry, much more than it was when he first woke up and the harder he tried to concentrate on the different shapes, the worst the throbbing in his head became.

“I, uh… I don’t know?” He admitted, though questionably as he found it rather hard to believe himself. How on earth was Molly supposed to help him if she couldn’t even get to him? Perhaps he would have been better off just calling an ambulance and going to the hospital. Clearly he was messed; he couldn’t even form rational thoughts and act on them.

“John, are you… are you okay?” Molly’s  concerned voice rung into his ears again, the worry growing increasing more noticeable, especially as he left out a few shaky breaths. Turning his head around again, still trying to determine his surroundings, he let out another groan as his body yet again protested in the action.

“No… no, I… uh, I think I’ve been attacked.” Well, clearly he’d been attacked. Nobody just ended up like this on the street. Something must have happened to him, he just didn’t know what! Nothing made sense in his mind. He wasn’t mugged, so this wasn’t about money. Perhaps it was personal? He didn’t know. Maybe things would be made clear later on, but until that time he was left defenseless and as hard as it was to admit, he was scared.

“Oh my God, John!” Her voiced whined in his ear and he had to pull the receiver away from his hear to protect his ear drum from the mindless yet high pitched rantings the woman on the other end quickly gave out. He couldn’t process her words, she was talking far too fast for his mind to comprehend, though the one thing he could recognize was her concern, and he immediately felt guilty.

“No, Molly, I’m fine… really.” No, that was a lie, a lie she most certainly could see through. If he was fine, he wouldn’t be calling her of all people to help him. He loved Molly; she was an amazing person.

“John, please, let me call up Greg! He’d want to know about this and he could really help you.”

Oh, hell no. There was no way he could ever let Greg Lestrade know about this. While the air had been cleared between him in the man, he wasn’t entirely sure how much he could trust him, not anymore. Besides, deep down, the man was a cop and wouldn’t feel morally conflicted to report this? Especially since he was a supposed ‘friend’? Just the thought of all the paperwork and hassle he’d have go to through if this was made public caused a shiver to run through his already frozen body, only reinforcing the fact that he was terribly cold and would most likely be sick after this.

“Molly, please. I don’t want any police involved.” He did his best to sound as solid and stern as he could given the circumstances. Praying he didn’t sound as weak as he thought.

“But, John, it’s just Greg, he wo-” As soon as he heard the start of her words he cut her off, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stay in control if he let her emotional side get to him. He was aware that Molly seemed very trusting and friendly with Greg, but he couldn’t let the inspector know, at least not now.

“Molly, no. My word is final; no cops. Maybe I shouldn’t have called you in the first place. Sorry for bugging you.” At 2AM? Of course he regretted his choice. His voice gave away just how disheartened, or maybe it was exhausted, that he felt and he didn’t know how he felt about being so vulnerable in front of somebody. It made him feel eerily uncomfortable and he regretted calling the poor girl again, especially for nothing.

There was a long pause between them, and he could hear her uneven, shaky breathing on the other end and wondered what exactly she had been doing. Did he wake up her? Probably, right? Was she thinking he was a complete idiot? He must say, he’d been forming sentences quite well, so maybe he wasn’t as bad off as he thought, and perhaps he wouldn’t even need her help? Then again, he’d all but shut her out, yet he was sitting here waiting for her to respond to him. Did he even deserve a response? He didn’t even know. Although adorable, Molly was an incredibly hard person to read, or at least he thought so. He could never really tell where her head was at and now was no exception.

Another moment passed of them in silence, and he was about to simply hang up on her before he heard the sound of a long sigh come from the other end, and it seemed to do well enough of a job to catch his attention.

“Fine, no cops. Listen, do you know where you are?” Her reply was very short and uncharacteristically stern, especially for Molly Hooper, and he was actually taken aback for a quick moment in the change of character.

“I… I-I don’t know.” Hell, if he knew the answer to that, he wouldn’t be here right now asking for her help, would he? “One minute I was walking home from the clinic and now I’m lying in a back alleyway somewhere.” Somewhere was the big question in his mind. Where the bloody hell was he?

“Does any of it look somewhat familiar?” She asked him, genuinely seeming concerned and willing to help him, something that only comforted him.

No, if it did then he wouldn’t be in this boat. The question was becoming increasing annoying since he has asked the same thing to himself multiple times before even calling Molly. “No, I can’t even see straight.” Something he felt his fellow doctor should probably know. Still though, for about the millionth time that evening he looked around again. It could have been his imagination, but the rain didn’t seem to be falling as heavy at the moment and he wanted to use this brief reprise to the best of his ability.

Looking around, things didn’t exactly seem much clearer, though he could only blame on how questionable his vision was to begin with. In fact, the harder he tried to focus on things, the more his head begun to throb, and he couldn’t help but think that the two were connected. With a sudden surge of pain travelling from his eye to the back of his head, he let out another loud groan. 

“My head is pounding and it hurts to focus on anything for an extended period of time.” Again, something he should probably tell his fellow doctor. He suspected he has a concussion, but surely with this knowledge she did as well, so he didn’t even bother to bring it up to her. Damnit, his head was ridiculous at the moment, the throbbing only getting worse as the moments passed. The fact that Molly had a rather high pitched voice didn’t help, though he couldn’t help but close his eyes, hoping blocking any light would potential save him some pain.

For the second time that evening there was a long pause between him and the woman on the other end, and if it wasn’t for her breathing (although the she steadied down considerably), he would have thought that she’d hung up on him. Perhaps the silence wasn’t as long as he was imagining, but once thing he was certain on was how tired he was slowly becoming, so he must have been right. Then again, he didn’t know if he was really the best person to judge time at the moment.

“Molly?” He couldn’t help but pipe up, suddenly feeling rather alone. Okay, so maybe Molly wasn’t his favourite person in the world, but she was better than nobody at the moment and the last thing he wanted to be was alone, at least he thought so.

“John, when was the last time you looked at your watch? It’s about 2:10 right now, so when did you leave the clinic?”

Her sudden question through him through the loop at bit, especially considering he didn’t see the relevance in it. He didn’t exactly think of himself as somebody who relied on time considerably, so he wasn’t exactly sure when he’d left work at. Sure, he could make a guess, but he really wasn’t paying attention.  His army friends would find him shameful, but he liked to think he had an impeccable internal clock. He was never late for anything, so while he looked at his watch occasionally, he didn’t rely on it. He trusted his instincts more than he trusted that bloody thing.

“Uh, I dunno, about 1:30, why?” That would have to be his best guess, though he still didn’t understand her line of thought.

“Listen, just hang tight for a bit. You can’t be that far from the clinic if you were walking home, so I’ll come by and take a look around in some alleyways. If you’re able, try to walk to the main road. I’m only about ten minutes away, so I shouldn’t be that long. Sound good?”

“Uh, yeah…” That sounded more than good. This was what he was hoping for, right? He wasn’t even sure at this point, but Molly was coming for him, so everything would be fine. He was a doctor, she was a doctor… surely together get could piece him back together and they could act like this event never occurred.

Like he’d thought earlier; Molly seemed like somebody he could trust with safeguarding this secret. He didn’t know why she gave that vibe to him, but she just did. Perhaps it was her kind, adorable nervous nature, or the fact that she was so much smarter than she let on. He really didn’t know, but he was suddenly thankful that he’d managed to successfully call her.

“Do you think you can move to the main road?” Molly asked him, suddenly sounding a lot more like her normally timid self and less like the assured person she had been moments ago.

“Y-yeah, I think I can manage.” Though he couldn’t hold back a yawn that escaped him and interrupted his words. Damn, he really was getting tired, something they both knew wasn’t a good thing. He spoke the words without even testing to see how much mobility he had, but the last thing he wanted to do was worry the girl more than she probably was. Was she even worried about him? He would like to think so, but in the past few months they’d barely spoken, so how close and concerned could she be? He would wait until he was off the call with her before he attempted to move again; it would be for the best just in case he did have trouble.

“Okay, hang in there, John. Whatever you do, stay alert and don’t fall asleep. I’ll… uh, I’ll be there in just a few minutes.”

While he could have been hearing things, he was pretty sure he could make out the sound of her door slamming behind her, something that only made him want to smile imagining the image of the redhead running out of her apartment at this hour. Sadly, as soon as he smiled, he was reminded that his body was a lot worse than he was letting on and tried his best to hide the sudden pain he felt before he responded to her words.

“Sure… and, uh, Molly?” He was wincing now, but he still managed to get the words out, hopefully not sounding as weak as he currently felt.

“Yes?” Her voice suddenly seemed a whole lot more concerned, and perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him, but he could have sworn she just stopped in her treks. Damn, he was a bloody mess.

“Um, thanks for this.” It may have been the first logical thing he’d managed to say to her, but she really didn’t need to do any of this. Molly was a good person, this much he always knew, though today she seemed to be showcasing it and he wasn’t sure exactly how he felt about it. It made him feel… incredibly selfish.

“No problem, what are friends for, right?” She replied to him in such an innocently chirper way that he really didn’t know how to respond.

“Uh, right.” With that he simply hung up the phone, still not entirely sure what to think of her last comment. Were they friends? Sure, they were back when Sherlock was around, but now things were different. Perhaps he was the one making them so, he really wasn’t sure. Molly and Greg had constantly tried to reach out to him over the months, and he’d denied them every time. How could they consider him a friend when he’d been anything but recently? He let out a loud groan as he placed his mobile back into his pocket with his good hand, deciding he really wasn’t in the best frame of mind to be having such intense thoughts. Right now he needed to focus on getting back to the main road, something that seemed very daunting considering how badly he hurt from just lying on the ground and doing nothing. He didn’t even know if he’d physically be able to make it to the road or not.

Deciding he didn’t really have a whole lot of time to sit there and contemplate such personal matters, he took a long, deep breath closing his eyes as he forced himself to sit up straight. He knew he had to take baby steps, but the action alone made him cry out in pain, his whole chest protesting to the moment. It literally felt like his insides were being torn apart by the action, though logically he knew this was a lie. Still though, he managed to make it up and took a quick moment to gather his strength again. His world was spinning, the sudden movement making him feel incredibly nauseas and he couldn’t stop himself from leaning over onto his side and vomiting up what little contents his stomach had to offer. God, it burned so bad, his broken ribs protesting heavily to the pressure of his stomach emptying.

Once he was certain he had nothing left to throw up, he opened his eyes and attempted to straighten out his vision, but everything was spinning and he felt incredibly dizzy. Damn, perhaps staying still would be for the best? Besides, he was so tired, so very tired. Maybe he would just lay her and wait for Molly. Surely she’d be able to find him.

 

He… couldn’t move, but if he just stayed here, closed his eyes, and wait, surely she would fine him. It was a comforting thought, one he kept with him as he slowly lowered his head back down unto the cement again. Yes, lying his head down would be so much better than holding it up. He decided that he clearly wasn’t thinking right. And the only thing that really made sense was to do what his body so clearly wanted, and that was rest. Molly would be here soon, she he slowly turned his mind off and let it do what it needed. Slowly and steadily the pain he felt diminished and he was simply in a black stillness that seemed oh so comforting. Yes, he would just wait for Molly.

***

Molly wasn’t sure where she was or where to look. The GPS indicated that John was within a ten feet radius.  Looking around all she could see was the wet, empty street. The rain had finally stopped but the street was now shiny with water and the lights reflecting off the streets were making it harder to see. She knew this was the way John walked home from the clinic. She had passed his clinic less than ten minutes ago so he should be close.

She didn’t like being out in the dark like this. Walking down an empty street at night always made her nervous. It was rare to be walking around in London without someone around. The city was always so busy. She was brought out of her thoughts when she thought she heard a small cough.

“John?” She called in a quiet voice. She thought the voice was coming from her left, down a small alley between buildings. She quickly reached into her bag and grabbed the small torch Greg had given her months ago. She shined the light in the direction she had heard the noise. The alley was dirty, full of old fast food bags and cigarette butts. It smelled completely of garbage and bodily fluids. Just when she was about to move on to the next alley she heard another weak cough. She raised her torch and was able to make out John’s sprawled form in the corner. He was laying face down to the ground with his right arm under him. It looked as though he had been attempting to get up using that arm for leverage.

“John!” She instantly ran and dropped to his side. At the sound of her voice he once again tried to get upright.

“No, stay down John! Don’t move!” She gently put a hand on his back. His coat was completely soaked though. She wondered how long he has been in this rain for. At her touch he instantly flinched away.

“I’m sorry John... It’s me... Molly.” Had he even recalled calling her? She tried to get a good look at his face but she was hesitant to shine the torch in his eyes. She could barely see anything in the dark alley.

“Molly?” He asked, his voice shaky and confused. Two words she would have never used to describe John Watson. Risking a bit more light from the torch she could make out a pool of vomit mere inches from where his head rested. Obviously he had been ill.

“Yes, do you remember calling me?” She could briefly make out blood on his face so she was positive he had to be suffered some sort of concussion. That would defiantly explain his confusion and the sick. She had already suspected the concussion after his phone call earlier. She carefully placed her hands on his soaked hair in an effort to comfort him. Isn’t that what she should do? She had never so much as touched the man besides a handshake the first time they met. She really didn’t know what else to do. To her surprise he seemed to lean into her touch and relax himself back a bit more.

“John? Are you ok? Do you want me to call an ambulance?” He immediately shook his head in reply, earning a small moan when his head moved.

“NO…. No hospital. M’fine… Just let me get up a bit.” He certainly didn’t sound fine, but Molly wasn’t sure what else to do. John was a doctor, so he should know what’s best for himself, but she couldn’t help but think he was more injured than he was letting on. Why had he called her? She was going to be no help to him like this. He would have been better off calling Greg. At least he would be able to help him get out of here. She was useless.

“Are you sure John? You’ve concussed and bleeding. Perhaps a trip to the hospital wouldn’t be such a bad idea?” She didn’t want it to seem like she didn’t believe him, but he looked like he needed serious medical help.

“No!… M’fine. Just help me get up.” He sucked in a breath and she saw his left hand clutch at his ribs. He waved her off as soon as she offered to help. “I… I can manage. Just… gimme your arm.” She bent lower as he placed his right arm on her shoulder while his left remained clutched around his abdomen. He silently counted to three before he used her as leverage to get himself upright. Molly had to bite back a cry at his harshness of his movement. She knew he didn’t intend to hurt her, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. Using her as leverage John managed to get himself sitting upright, she could see him sway slightly but he managed to hide it well as he positioned himself with his back against the building and his legs out in front.

Now that he was higher Molly was able to get a better view of his face. As she had suspected, he had a large gash on the right temple. The cut was several centimeters long and looked as though it needed stitches. The blood from the gash ran down his entire face but it appeared to have stopped bleeding on its own.

“John, let me have a quick look ok? I’m doing to shine the light in your eyes alright?” She knew her bedside manner wasn’t great. She always came across as awkward, fortunately working with dead people that had never been a problem. She hoped John didn’t think she was stupid or inadequate.  She didn’t wait for a response as she quickly shinned the light in his eyes. He flinched at first but eventually accepted the fact she was going to check him out. As she predicted his eyes were unfocussed and he was unable to follow her finger when asked. Almost as soon as she was finished he let out another small cough and clutched at his chest harder. She didn’t know what to do. He really needed out of this weather and into somewhere warm.

“Are you sure you don’t need a hospital John? You’re obviously concussed and you’ve got a pretty deep gash on your face. I’m sure your ribs are bothering you as well. Maybe just-

“No. I don’t need a hospital. I can stitch myself up and wrap my ribs. I…” He looked confused for a moment. “I just need help… getting home.” She frowned. John barely looked like he could put two feet in front of himself. She didn’t even know where his new flat was. Her concern grew higher when she noticed he had begun to shiver. She slowly got back up to her feet.

“Ok… Um… Did you need a hand getting up?” What a stupid question. It was obvious he needed help. He was already starting to hunch over in his sitting position.

“Yeah just… give me a moment…” He said as he seemed to clutch his chest tighter. Defiantly ribs she thought. Once he seemed to compose himself she lowered herself down so he could throw his arm around her shoulder. She then took a deep breath and heaved herself up with John attached to her shoulder. She couldn’t help but grunt as she took a great deal of his weight. John might be small and slight but he was still a great deal heavier than her and she was not used to doing much heavy lifting. The whole ordeal took less than twenty seconds and once he was up he almost immediately get go of her.

“Christ!” He screamed as he quickly stumbled back against the wall, both hands almost instantly falling down to his right knee to examine it. He probably couldn’t see much. His jeans were soaked through and clung to his body. After a few moments he finished and swore again.

“What’s wrong with your leg?” She dared to ask. She knew he was obviously in a great amount of pain. She didn’t want to risk asking him if he needed help.

“Shit! I’m sorry Molly. I... I don’t know why I called you.” He looked at her helplessly. He then turned his gaze back to his leg. “I think it’s a sprain. I can’t really tell with the light.” He looked lost for words. Molly didn’t know what to do. He obviously needed help getting back home but it was late and the tubes weren’t open. The main street was quiet and she doubted they would be able to catch a cab.

“Do you think you will be able to get back to the main street?” She asked. It was only about fifteen steps away… barely a minute’s walk but she knew with John injured as he was the short distance looked endless. He looked to see the distance and she could see his whole thought process on his expressive face.

“Yeah.” He raised his hand in an effort to keep her away for a moment. “Just give me another minute here...” He said as he clutched at his chest again. She could see his left hand was trembling earnestly. In fact his whole body was shivering, whether it is from the cold or the shock. It was another minute before he gave another quick nod to indicate he was ready. She slowly walked closer and braced herself to take a portion of his weight. He slowly raised his right arm to grip around her shoulder. He kept his left arm secured around his chest and for the first time she wondered if his arm was hurt as well as he had scarcely moved it since she had arrived. She didn’t have time to dwell on it because he quickly removed himself from the wall and they were moving.

As predicted it was slow going. The injury to John’s leg was severely impairing his already slow walk. His breathing was ragged and she could feel just how hard he was trying to not cry out. Molly had to bite her own lip as they got closer and closer to the main street and John was slowly leaning more and more of his weight on her petite frame.

It was at least five minutes before they reached the empty, main road. She almost let out a sigh of relief when John immediately let her go and grabbed the side of the building instead, balancing precariously on one leg. It was another three seconds before she saw him go down in a pile of limbs as he violently threw up whatever was left in his stomach.

“John!” She cried as he continued to get sick. She quickly looked away to give him some privacy. She didn’t know what to do. He obviously didn’t want to go to a hospital but he clearly needed help. She glanced down to her phone to see if Greg had replied. She knew he hadn’t, so it was no surprise when the phone showed no new messages. Greg never had his phone on when he was working. She couldn’t hold back her sigh. Greg would know what to do more than her. Despite the fact John had not wanted him involved she still contacted him. Greg was John’s friend.

Just as she was about to try phoning him again a black car suddenly drove up right where both she and John were situated. John had finished vomiting but he was currently gasping for breath and didn’t seem to notice the suspicious black vehicle. Molly stepped in front of her injured friend, keeping a hand on his shoulder for comfort. She certainly hoped she looked more intimidating than she left.

“Who…. who are you?” She asked. Cursing the way her voice cracked. She knew it was a stupid question. For all she knew it could be the very people who left John in such a state, coming back to finish the job.

“Get into the car Ms. Hooper.” A deep, rough voice said as the door opened. It revealed a massive, blond man wearing a pristine black suit. He had to be over 6’5 and powerfully built. When he stepped out of the car he towered over her small form, she couldn’t help but take a step back, nearly bumping into John.

“Who… who ARE you?” She asked again. The man gave her a long look.

“Let’s just say I work for a friend of his.” He said as he pointed to John’s prone form. John was completely spent and now looked to be struggling to stay awake. “I’ve been told to transport the two of you back to your place.” Molly looked shocked. Who did he say he worked for?

“I’m sorry... Who um... Who did you say you worked for?” The man gave her a small smile as he opened the back door to the car.

“I didn’t. I work for a friend of his, and a friend of yours.” He then gestured for her to get into the car.

“How… How do I know I can trust you?” She asked. This was certainly not how she thought this night would turn out. It had started as a regular night and now she was about to accept a drive from a complete stranger. She certainly couldn’t think of any of her friends that would hire such an intimidating man.

“You don’t need to accept my help. I’m just offering to take you both back to your flat… Unless you had a better plan to get an unconscious army doctor back to your flat… By yourself… in the rain.” As if on cue the she felt the beginning sprinkles of what was no doubt going to be another long rainfall. She really didn’t have any other options.

“How about you take us to a hospital?” John certainly looked like her needed one. Hopefully the man would be able to see that. Unfortunately he just gave another small smile.

“I was told you would say that. I was also told you are just as qualified to treat him, and that he has voiced his unwillingness to go to a hospital many times.” She tried to hide her frown. Obviously the man knew what he was doing. She didn’t think she could treat John. It had been years since he had treated a live patient, and she had never treated a doctor before. Surely a hospital would be better?

The mysterious man didn’t wait for a response. He simply walked over to John and with a surprising amount of gentleness was able to heft John’s entire body over his shoulder, being careful with his obviously injured ribs. The man lifted John as if he weighed nothing, and considering the man’s obvious size and bulk it was probably true.

With practised ease the man was able to carry John over to the car. He stopped when he say Molly had not entered.

“I suggest you get in the car. Ms. Hooper.” He said. Molly didn’t need to be told again. She really didn’t have much of a choice. It’s not like she could out run this man. Perhaps he was here for good reasons. He was careful with John and was doing his best to not hurt him, so he clearly wasn’t here for evil purposes. Ignoring the sneaking suspicion that this could be a bad idea she carefully settled herself in the back of the car.

It was much bigger and fancier in the inside. Clearly whoever had sent the man had a lot of money. It was practically a limo! The seats were pure leather and extremely comfortable, there was also a lot of leg room. Another set of seats were across from her. As soon as she got settled she noted a package with a note sitting to her left. She quickly grabbed the note.

Take care of him.
-M

Molly had no idea who this “M” person was. She abandoned the note and looked to see what was in the box. To her surprise it was a bunch of high quality medical supplies: Wraps, gauze, antibiotics and pain killers. Not to mention every sort of leg brace she could think of. Who was this man? How did he know about John? She didn’t have much time to think as the mysterious man managed to settle John along the seats across from her. John was unconscious and if possible he looked paler now than when she first saw him.

“I trust you will use the supplies my boss was kind enough to offer?” He asked. She just nodded in reply.

“I will have you back in your flat in approximately seven minutes.” He said before he slammed the door in her face. She had no idea what to think about all this. Accepting a drive from a complete stranger? A stranger who seemed to know a lot about her… including where she lived? She had not given him her address but now that the car had started up they seemed to be going in the right direction.

Try to ignore the uneasy feeling she had in her stomach she turned to her new patient. The heat was turned on in the car but it didn’t stop the John from shivering. The first thing she needed to do when they got to her flat would be to get him out of his soaked clothing. She had some old clothes from her previous boyfriend that he could wear for now. Once he was dry she would be able to give him a full examination. Hopefully after a few hours and some pain killers he would be ok to go back to his own flat and they would be able to forget about this.

He’s not going to be able to just forget this! She though. It was silly to think. The poor man had been attacked on the street. She hoped once he was less disorientated he would be able to explain what exactly happened. She can’t imagine who would want to hurt John. He had such a kind demeanor and was nothing but nice to her. At the same time the viciousness of the attack and the events of the last few months made her think this wasn’t just a random act of violence. There was something more to it. She just didn’t know what. Perhaps Greg could help?

It wasn’t long before they reached the recognizable buildings of her street. Without being asked the driver managed to stop right outside her flat. The doors were unlocked and he was instantly opening her door.

“I trust you have a key?” She nodded. Of course she had a key! She quickly stood up, ignoring the stiffness of her back from carrying most of John’s weight around. Tomorrow she would have a nice, long bubble bath. She quickly grabbed the package with the medical supplies  made her way to the door, leaving the tall man go once again gather John up and over his shoulder. She held the door open for them.

“First door on your left!” She called as they marched past her. She quickly followed, struggling to separate the keys. She just now remembered her flat was a mess. She had been meaning to clean it up a bit on her day off tomorrow. She hoped the tall man didn’t notice.

For the first time she was glad for the late hour, and no one else was awake to see what was happening. She was often very quiet. She didn’t know any of the other tenants well at all, so it would be weird for them to be seeing herself with a large, muscularly man carrying a small, unconscious man on his shoulder. Not something that happened every day.

She opened the door to let the tall man through when she heard a loud screech before the large man swore. Her cat!

“Shoot! Toby!!” She quickly bent down to grab her cat. She had totally forgotten about him. Toby hated meeting new people. As soon as he had seen the unfamiliar leg at the door he had lashed out and attacked. Luckily the mysterious man didn’t seem too fazed by it. Molly muttered a small apology as she held Toby close to her chest. She could feel her cheeks turning a bright shade of red. The man just gave her an amused look as he made his way into the flat. Gosh! This was so embarrassing. Her flat was a mess. Books and clothes lay scattered everywhere.

“Where do you want him?” This made Molly panic. She has not thought about that.  She couldn’t very well leave him on the couch. That certainly wouldn’t be good for his injuries but at the same time would it be weird if she offered her bed?

“Um… Just leave him on the couch for now. Um… I will figure something out later.” The man didn’t need to be told twice. He stepped over a couple of books without comment and then ever so carefully deposited John on the sofa. To her surprise he even grabbed a pillow and placed it under John’s right leg to help keep it elevated. Once John was settled he turned around to face her.

“Well Ms. Hooper. It’s been a pleasure.” He quickly held his hand out for her to shake. She hesitantly took it and reciprocated. Was he seriously just going to leave?

“You’re leaving?” She asked. She tried not to sound upset. While she did feel uncomfortable with the stranger in her house she didn’t want to be left alone with John as injured as he was.

“Yes. I have somewhere else I need to be. My job was to successfully transport you and Dr. Watson to your flat.” He gave her a small smile. “It was lovely working with you Ms. Hooper.” Then to her great surprise he slowly bent down, took her hand in his and laid a gentle kiss on her hand.

Molly stood dumbstruck. A squirming cat in one hand and the other had just been kissed by a really tall, blond, good looking man. She could feel her face immediately heat up and she knew he cheeks were red. The man then looked up to her face and smiled.

“Till next time…”  He said again as he brushed passed her to go out the door. She didn’t know what else to do. Nothing like that had ever happened to her. It was like something from a romantic movie. The last time anything remotely similar happened was at Sherlock’s Christmas party last year, and he had only kissed her after insulting her.

“Do you…. Have a name or something?” She couldn’t help but ask. The man stopped at the door and once again smiled, showing off his perfect white teeth. He seemed to think for a moment.

“Artemis…” He head was suddenly filled with hearts upon hearts with the name Artemis written on them. She almost felt like a little school girl. Artemis have her one last smile before he quietly left the building, leaving Molly with flushed cheeks alone with her injured friend.

Once she heard the second set of doors close she bent down and placed Toby on the ground, the tabby cat immediately scurried over to where John was resting on the couch. John’s left arm was now hanging off the couch. Toby approached the still limb with caution, but to her surprise he didn’t attack it like he normally does. She was shocked to see Toby approach John’s hand and start licking it. Toby had never reacted in such a way before normally he was biting and scratching strangers, including Greg who did everything a man could to try and gain Toby’s affection. She smiled as she inched closer to her cat.

“Toby, leave him alone.” One she got closer she could actually see what Toby was licking. There was a fine stream of blood running down John’s arm. She silently swore as she went to the bathroom to grab some old towels and cloths. She didn’t even know where to start. Then she went for a box deep in her closet that had her old boyfriend’s clothes. It had been a bad breakup and even though it happened over two years ago he had never returned for his clothes. Moly was too scared he would come back for them to actually throw them out. They would be too large for John, who was quite small, but at least it was something. She grabbed the warmest looking pajama’s she could find. Once she grabbed the towels and a bowl of water she quickly made her way over to the couch, pushing Toby out of the way.

She had decided to start cleaning the obvious wound on John’s head. Hopefully the warm water would be able to rouse him enough to help her get him out of his clothes. She would be mortified if he woke up in the middle of her undressing him. She was very nervous about it, obviously she has seen naked men before, but most of them were dead at the time of her examination, and none of them were her friends.

Was John really a friend? She shocked herself when she labeled him as one. He had always been very nice to her, always treating her with respect and often apologizing for Sherlock’s rude behaviour. They had seen a lot of each other over the past year or so but at the same time they had never really talked beyond the basic pleasantries. She hasn’t seen the man since the funeral and she felt bad about that, perhaps she should have tried to reach out to him? She was very surprised when she received his phone call earlier in the night.

John started stirring almost as soon as she touched his head wound. She paused and waited for him to come around and open his eyes. It was slow going but eventually he managed.

“John?” She asked. She really hoped he didn’t panic when he realized he was in an unfamiliar flat. For his part John just looked confused.

“Molly? Why…” He paused as he winced in pain of the harsh lighting. “Why are you here?”

“You’re at my place, John. Do you remember what happened?” John suddenly realized he was in an unfamiliar flat. He almost seemed to panic and made an attempt at getting up.

“No, no, no. Stay down.” She said as she placed both of her hands on his shoulders, easing him back down before he hurt himself more.

“You were attacked John. You hurt your leg and your ribs so be sure to stay still.” John just looked confused. It was then that she noted he had started shivering again… Now for it.

“Here John, you’re shivering. You must be freezing in those wet clothes of yours. Let’s get them off and get some dry ones on.” She prayed he didn’t remember this in the morning. It was embarrassing enough as it is. Without even waiting for an answer he grabbed the neck on his soaked black jacket and pulled it up. John let out a small moan as his sore muscles moved but he was slowly able to help her get him out of his jacket.

Molly quickly discarded the jacket on the floor, she would wash and dry his clothes later. She wasn’t surprised to see that John’s jumper was also soaked through, that might prove a bit harder to remove. She brought her gaze down to John’s left arm and she was surprised to see the entire side of the jumper was soaked with blood. The black jacket had hidden most of it from her. Without saying a word she grabbed a dry towel and placed his arm on it. She then grabbed a pair of scissors. With the amount of blood, saving the jumper was a lost cause. She cut the jumper from John’s wrist up to his elbow. As soon as the cloth fell apart she could see the damage. This was defiantly why John had been protecting his arm earlier. He had a long, deep cut along the inside of his forearm, running just inches from his wrist right up till his elbow. It had evidently been bleeding a lot and needed stitches.

Molly quickly grabbed a wet cloth and wiped away as much of the dried blood as she could, ignoring John’s small hiss of pain as she put more pressure on the wound. Once she got most of the blood away she could see that the area around the cut was red and swollen. She had to be careful, considering John had been unconscious in a dirty alley for god knows how long he would no doubt get an infection from this. She prayed the mysterious package had some strong antibiotics.

Once she had cleaned the cut as best she could. She moved on with the scissors, cutting the rest of John’s sopping wet jumper off. John seemed to understand and even elevated himself better to give her better access; she dreaded thinking about his jeans, as those were soaked right down to his body.

Once she had the jumper successfully removed she threw it over with his jacket. Perhaps she should buy John a new jumper after this? John was wearing a plain white vest under the jumper and there and she could now see he had another, smaller wound just above his right hip. She could also see that even under the jumper John’s bare skin was wet and clammy. She was amazed the man had not suffered severe hypothermia. He was cold for sure, but he wasn’t at a dangerous level. Still though, she needed to get him into warm clothes.

“OK John, let’s get you out of this wet shirt. I have a towel you can dry yourself with. I’ll examine your ribs and wrap them. Then I have another shirt for you to wear.” She tried to smile at the end of that but she wasn’t sure she quite managed. She really didn’t know what else to do. John just nodded and placed his arms over his head so she could remove his vest. She could see that he was moving his left arm very gingerly.

She silently grabbed the hems of his white shirt and slowly dragged it up and over his head. John’s entire torso and back was littered with bruises, his abdomen was especially busied. She was now concerned for internal bleeding. Another thing that shocked her was just how... petite John was. She could tell when she saw him earlier that he had obviously lost some weight, but his layers and large jumpers really hid exactly how much he had lost. He was frail and downright skinny, she could see he still maintained a small amount of muscle definition in his chest, but he was still entirely too thin. Molly could easily see each of his ribs through his skin. She felt a sudden pang of guilt food though her. This was because of Sherlock’s death…. If only John knew…

Ignoring his unexpected thinness she grabbed a dry towel and started to dry him off as best she could. The small cut on his hip would probably require stitches as well but to her relief it didn’t seem to be infected like the big one on his arm. Once he was as dry as he could be he grabbed the wrap from the box. She already knew his ribs were cracked, probably broken. She could see that John was examining them himself while her back was turned.

“Broken?” She asked. John just shook his head.

“I think one might be broken, but at least two more are bruised or cracked. I’ll be fine if you can wrap them up.” He said with a slight wince as he raised himself up higher so she could get the wrap around him. She nodded and approached him with the wrap in hand. The bruising around his ribs was pretty horrific after only a few hours, it was easy to tell it had been the primary area of attack. As gently as she could she touched the skin, searching for breaks. She noted that under all the bruises John’s chest was pale, at least paler than the skin on his arms. She also took note that he had very little body hair, and what hair he did have was almost too fair to see. She panicked as she felt a small blush crawl its way onto her face. Stop thinking like that! She told herself. She prayed John didn’t notice. She had to be professional.

For his part John didn’t seem to notice her blush. He had his eyes closed as he raised both his arms over his head so she could wrap his ribs. It was then that Molly noticed his shoulder. She had been so preoccupied with the bruising on his abdomen that she had not even looked higher. John’s entire left shoulder and collarbone was littered with scars. She could make out the one small bullet shaped scar right at the center of his scapula. That must have been the bullet wound. She had briefly remembered asking John about his military service and why he was sent home when she had first met the man. John had just shrugged her off and said he had been shot. That had obviously not been the entire story. She could see the evidence of multiple surgeries all across his chest. She could even recognize the scar from where the surgeons had removed a good amount of infected flesh from his shoulder. Looking at it now she was shocked he was able to move him arm as well as he did. Had she not known he had a shoulder wound then she would never have guessed. He seemed to still have most his mobility, which considering the scarring, was quite a miracle.

When she examined the shoulder more carefully she could make out a large footprint bruise. She went to touch it but John surprisingly backed away.

“Don’t…” Molly immediately flinched back. John brought his right hand up to cover most of the scarring.

“It’s fine… just a bruise. Just a bit sore.” Molly tried not to hide her concern. It wasn’t any of her business but a bruise that bad on an already tender area wasn’t good. She would try to keep an eye on it, clearly it was a touchy subject with John. Moving on she gathered the wrap for his ribs in her hands.

 He winced as soon as soon as the wrap made contact with his skin.

“No internal bleeding?” She asked as she once again took in the awful bruising.

“No, if I had that I’d already be dead. I don’t know how long I was passed out before I even phoned you… but I think it was a while.” He replied. He was now resting his head against his right hand, indicating he probably had a headache. What he said made enough sense. It’s probably been at least forty minutes or so since she found him in the alley. If he did have internal bleeding he would be dead by now.

“Ok.” She didn’t really know what else to say to that. He was right. John was a doctor after all. She continued to wrap the material around his chest, noting that John was holding his breathe the entire time. He was trying to stay as still as possible but Molly had begun to note that he was starting to shiver more and could see gooseflesh all over his pale and arms and chest. She tried her hardest not to touch him unnecessarily. It was something she never really had to worry about working with dead people all the time, now she was extremely conscious of every touch and movement. John suddenly let out a pained whimper as she tightened the wrap

“I’m sorry! It’s not too tight is it?” She asked. John took a moment to compose himself before feeling around the edge of the wrap with his hands.

“No, it’s fine… Just… Just caught be of guard is all.” He fumbled with his words and she could see his shivers begin to increase. She quickly grabbed the large, cotton sweater she brought with her.

“Here, it’s my old boyfriends. It might be a bit big, but it’s all I have that’s not girly.” She said with a smile as she helped him into the long sleeved shirt. A bit big might have been an understatement. John was practically swimming in the sweater, the sleeves were too long and the collar hung low on his chest. With his rumbled hair he looked like a kid wearing his dad’s sweater. Once he was settled enough in the oversized sweater she grabbed a duvet from the sofa and place it over his shoulders. John gladly accepted it and was quick to rearrange around himself so it covered more of his chest.

Now that she had his ribs wrapped and cuts cleaned (She still need to stitch them but it could wait until John was warm) she turned her face to his legs. John was wearing a dark pair of blue jeans that were now thoroughly stuck to his skin. She knew she had to somehow get them off him, check his leg and get him into a warm pair of pants all before she could let John fall back asleep. Getting the pants off was defiantly going to be the biggest challenge.

“John, I’ve got some pants for you to change into. We gotta get you out of these wet jeans. Then you can check out your knee.” She said nervously. John just nodded his head and gingerly tried to reposition himself better. Once he was satisfied he carefully unbuckled his belt. Molly busied herself with removing his now ruined shoes and socks, trying to give him as much privacy as she could. She stopped when she heard him grunt.

“I…I think you’re going to need to cut them off.” He said, obviously embarrassed to be asking. He had barely gotten the jeans off his hips before the pain became too much. Between his ribs and knee she didn’t blame him.

“That’s fine” She said as she grabbed the scissors she had used earlier. John didn’t say anything but he huddled up under blankets a little more. Molly started with his right ankle and slowly made it all the way up to his knee. The process was slower, with the soaked jeans being much thicker than his vest or jumper. She managed to make it past his knee easily enough. At that point she was able to grab the jeans with both of her hands and rip the rest of the way up. John flinched a bit as his entire leg was revealed.

“Sorry! I just thought... it might be quicker…” She said. John just gingerly nodded his head.

“No, it’s fine. Just took me a bit by surprise. Bit cold now…” He managed to finish his comment off with a small smile. To Molly’s relief John was wearing a dark pair of boxers. The boxers only appeared to be mildly damp so she didn’t think she would need to deal with getting those off. They could stay.

As gently as she could she grabbed another one of her towels and promptly dried off most of John’s right leg. Every time she accidently touched his skin she was reminded at how cold John was, he was practically freezing. With that thought in mind she quickly started on cutting the jeans off his injured left leg.

She tried to be as careful as she could, knowing from experience just how painful a sprained limb can be. When she was eleven years old she sprained her left ankle during a dance class. The sprain had been bad and he had to miss the entire dance season because of it. Throwing those thoughts from her mind she slowly managed to make her way up his legs with the scissors. She paused when she reached just below his knee. She could visibly see just how swollen his knee was.

“Ok, so I’m just got to cut right through the jeans now... It will probably hurt but I think its best just to do this as fast as possible and get it over with ok?” She looked over to see John nod in approval. She noted that he had his left hand clutched around his ribs again. The wound was still covered with a towel but she knew she wound need to stitch it up soon, along with his head wound and the one on his hip.

Not wasting any more time she quickly sliced up the thick fabric, she could feel John hold his breath as she managed to quickly cut her way past the swollen knee and right up past his thigh. John left out a loud exhale/groan as she managed to rip away the rest of the jeans. Almost as soon as it was visible she examined the knee.

Just as predicted the area was red and swollen. She could feel John try to pull away slightly as she gently probed the area. She didn’t think anything was broken, she could see slight evidence of a previous injury based off an old scar but she couldn’t really be sure without an x-ray. John was probably right, it was most likely a sprain; however she did not know the severity of it. Not for the first time she wondered if John would be better off in a hospital than at her flat.

“Just a sprain I think…” She said. She quickly noticed that she had left her right hand resting on John’s naked thigh. She instantly whipped her hand back, hoping John didn’t notice, once again she felt her cheeks turn red.

“Thank you, Molly” John sounded half asleep. She looked over to see him curling up a bit against the couch.

“No, no, you can’t fall asleep yet John. I’ve got some sweats for you to wear and… we have to move you. You… um can’t very well sleep on the sofa” John turned to look at her. “You can use my bed tonight. The mattress is a bit hard but I’m sure it’s better than the... um… sofa” She hoped this didn’t sound as awkward as it she thought it did. With his injuries John really shouldn’t be on the sofa… he needed a bed. Besides with a head injury such as his there was no chance she would be getting a full nights rest.

“I can’t do that to you Molly. I’ll be fine here on the sofa. I’ve slept in worse situations, trust me,” he finished it off with one of his killer smiles. Unfortunately Molly could see that it didn’t reach his eyes. John was very obviously in pain. There was no way she would leave him on the sofa.

“No it’s fine John, I’m not going to be sleeping much tonight anyways.” She said as she walked back over to the package she had received, looking for some pain medication. The package was a complete pharmacy, full of almost every time of legal painkiller there was. Not for the first time she wondered who had sent it, someone with an “M” in their name. Once she found the appropriate pills she grabbed a glass of water and wondered back to where John had managed to get his feet off the sofa, he was inspecting his knee again. She hoped she didn’t miss anything.

“Everything ok?” She asked. John just nodded in approval.  She hoped he was up to making the short walk to her bedroom. It’s been the one thing on the back of her mind ever since Artemis left. Now that she was here in her living room she regretted not having Artemis here carry John to her bedroom.

“My room’s just around the corner. Do you think you’d be up for the short walk?” She asked, trying her best not to sound concerned as she watched John clutch at his bound chest.

“Yeah, just give me a moment…” She watched as he took a moment to compose himself. Molly slowly inched herself closer so offer John some support as he got to his feet. Just like earlier in the alley she could almost feel John count to three in his head before trying to rise. Unlike before though, John was much more careful rising. He had his left hand clutched around his ribs while he took Molly’s offered support with his right hand as he used her to get himself to his feet.

“Fuck…” Almost as soon as he got up he leaned more heavily on her and brought his right hand up to his face. Molly could see he was pressing his palm into his eye. She gave him a couple moments to get himself settled to being up and about before she chose to speak.

“Come on John, it’s only a couple feet of feet,” She tried to nudge him a bit in the direction of her room, John slowly complied, trying his best not to lean too heavily on her petite frame.

“Once we get to my room I have some sweats for you to change into and then I will stitch up your head wound and the cut on your arm. Not sure if the one of your hip needs stitches or not.” John just nodded his head in approval as they slowly made the short walk to her room, Molly had even noted that Toby, her cat, was following them. She could almost see John’s strength failing him as they got closer and closer to her room. Once they reached the door she let him rest against it as she went to tidy out a few things.

Gosh, this was so embarrassing! As quickly as she could she removed all the underwear and bras that lay scattered around the room, praying that John didn’t notice. It wasn’t like she had visitors at her flat all the time, much less have anyone (especially male) in her own room. Once she had cleared away most of the mess she made a leap for her long-time teddy bear that rested on her bed. She gave him one last glance before stuffing him under the bed. She then wondered back to where John was resting heavily against the doorframe, he appeared to be almost asleep standing.

“Alright, John. Let’s get you to bed.” She said was she stirred John in the direction of the bed, despite appearing to be almost asleep John was able to gather the last of his strength and was able to make the short distance to the bed with little help from her. Just as he was about to ease himself down she stopped him.

“Oh I have these sweat pants for you. I know they might be a bit big but they will help you stay warm.” John just nodded in approval with between the both of them they were able to get the baggy pants of him. She was sure to be extra careful with his swollen knee. Once the pants were on John gingerly settled himself down on the bed, Molly helped him fluff out a pillow to put his bad leg on. She then travelled back out to the living room to grab the package full of meds and equipment.

When she returned to the room John had already made himself comfortable on the bed, she could see that his eyes were still open but he was very clearly fighting off sleep. Her cat, Toby had also found his way onto the bed. She quietly walked over and gently nudged John on his uninjured shoulder. John turned to face her.

“I’ve got some pills for you to take for the pain, they should make you feel better.” She said as she placed them in his slightly shaking hand, she then passed him a glass of water. She noted that while he was still shivering slightly, he did not appear to be nearly as cold as he had been earlier. “How are you feeling now? She asked.

“M’Good…. Just tired… I think I will feel a lot better once I get some sleep.” He said as he tried to shift his body under the blankets a bit more.

“Ok, well I still need to stitch you up but after that you’re free to sleep for as long as you like.” John gave a small smile at that.

“At this point I might fall asleep while you’re working.” He gave what would have been a small laugh had he not immediately recoiled from the pain in his chest.

“Fuck!” He cried as he clutched at his ribs once more, breathing slowly. “It’s been a while since I had a broken rib. Forgot what a bitch they are…” He finished and gave her another one of his killer smiles.

Molly smiled back as she took an alcohol swab and started to clean the cut on his right temple. “I’ve never broken one before but when I was a young girl my brother broke two ribs playing football. Gosh it was like torture for him. He had to miss the entire season and it was almost six months before he could breathe without any pain…” Perhaps that wasn’t the best thing to say at the moment.

“Yeah I broke a couple almost four years ago, I was out of commission for almost two months so I’ve got an idea what it’s like.” John said as he turned his head to give her a better angle to work with. To her surprise he didn’t flinch at all when the alcohol touched his cut.

She worked in silence after that, John concentrating on his breathing while she concentrating on the process of giving stitches to a live patient, something she hasn’t done in long while.

“Molly, I just want to um… thank you for helping me tonight.” John said very softly out of the blue, she had been so concentrated on stitching him she barely heard it. She smiled.

“Really John, its fine. “ She tried to explain.

“Not fair to you…”He mumbled out, his blue eyes looking into hers. She broke their eye contact with a sigh. She didn’t mind helping John out. He would no doubt do the same for her. At least it gave her something exciting in her life, ever since Sherlock’s fall her life has been pretty mundane.

It wasn’t long she finished, the cut itself was not very large, it had just appeared larger do to the amount of blood. Now that the cut was cleaned she could very clearly see where the area was starting to bruise. As she was observing John’s face she noticed that his eyes were closed and his face relaxed, he appeared to be asleep. She let out a small smile, glad to see him finally relaxed.

As quietly as she could she repositioned herself to the other side of the bed, sticking her tongue out at Toby and he moved to now rest in-between John’s right arm and his shoulder. It almost made her smile. This was the first time her cat had taking a liking to anyone. In fact, if she were not responsible for feeding him and cleaning his litter she doubted he would like her either. Now he was curled up near John’s armpit, his head resting on John’s chest, he was watching her.

Forgetting about her cat she carefully took John’s injured left arm from where it was resting on his chest. She peeled back the sleeve of the large grey shirt and unwrapped the towel from where she wrapped it earlier. Now that she had to time inspect it the wound looked worse up close. It was deep and jagged looking; it reached from right above his wrist to his elbow. He was very lucky it had not severed any arteries. Despite looking gruesome it was nothing several stitches couldn’t fix. She took yet another alcohol stab (thanking the lords for that mysterious package) and started to clean the messy wound.

John immediately flinched and let out a small whimper, which caused Molly to quickly stop. He did not however wake up.

“Sorry John, I gotta get it clean.” She said, even though the man was still asleep, it was more for her own comfort than her own. She often talked to herself as she was doing autopsies; it was just something she did. Despite the fact she knew it was hurting him, she continued to clean the area, making soothing noises as she did.

Almost as soon as she finished sterilizing the wound she went straight into stitching it. John slept peacefully through the entire thing and after the cleaning he hardly moved at all. It was almost unnerving to Molly as she continued to stitch him that he didn’t once flinch. She thought back to the injuries he saw on his shoulder. John was probably used to painful procedures being done while he was sleeping. After seeing some of those scars, the stitches on his arm were nothing.

She was almost done when she had to wipe the sweat off her forehead. She was positively melting. She had forgotten that she had turned the heat on its highest setting. She quickly shoved her cardigan off and continued her work. When she had finished she took a moment to admire her work. She always thought she was pretty good at stitching. The cut on John’s temple probably wouldn’t even scar. The one on his arm was no doubt going to be a nasty one but considering how close the blade had come to his wrist she doubt John would mind.

After bandaging his arm up as best she could she slowly got up and out of the chair she had been sitting in and stretched out her aching back (defiantly a bubble bath tomorrow) and looked at the clock. It was almost 4AM. She couldn’t believe how long all of this had taken. It didn’t seem long; John had called her at a little after 2AM. Gosh, three hours ago she never would have thought anything like tonight could happen. She still had not been able to get any information from John about whom his attackers were. At this point she doubted John would remember anything, especially not with that concussion of his.

Withholding a sigh she carefully bent back down and lifted some of the covers off John, she wanted to inspect the cut on his hip to make sure he didn’t need stitches. She gently lifted up the bottom of his shirt, praying that John didn’t wake up anytime within the next two minutes. It was embarrassing enough for her helping him change; she didn’t want him to think she was taking advantage of him or anything.

She was glad to feel that the cut looked fine, it wasn’t even that deep. She was being overly cautious thinking it needed stitches, she had already cleaned it earlier and it looked the same now. With everything else wrong with his body she doubted John would even notice the small cut. Molly was also glad to note that despite still being quite pale, John was beginning to warm up. He was no longer shivering and the skin on his stomach and hip was almost warm.

She suddenly felt John shift and she immediately pulled her hand back and covered him back up with the blankets. Gosh! Why was she so nervous around him? John was a doctor, he would understand her checking up on him. Perhaps it was because she “knew” John. He wasn’t just a regular patient, he was her friend, or at least he used to be her friend. Now she wasn’t sure what they were.

 

Discarding those thoughts from her mind she carefully clicked off the bedside light. John was still sleeping soundly. She would leave him that way for now. She would need to wake him every few hours to make sure he wasn’t bleeding into his brain, but for now she would just make sure he got as good a rest as possible. Grabbing her cardigan she quietly left the room.

****
Cinnamon; that was the first thing that John noticed as he slowly woke up. Something around him smells likes cinnamon, and he had to smile, finding the sent to be oddly comforting. Perhaps Mrs. Hudson had made those famous cinnamon scones she knew he liked? It was a possibility and he couldn’t help but feel a smile make its way to his face at the thought of it. If she had made the cinnamon ones, then maybe, just maybe he could force a couple down Sherlock’s throat. Now that would be an epic event!

The second thing he seemed to become aware of was how unbelievably tired he was, especially considering he was just waking up. Christ, it felt like he hadn’t gotten any sleep at all. Perhaps he would just have to ignore the cinnamon scones and just spend an extra couple hours in bed today, at least until he felt even marginally rested. Currently the simple idea of walking down the stairs seemed like a marathon right now, something he didn’t really want to commit to.

Another thing he noticed was how badly his head was pounding, and almost as if on cue, he felt a sharp pain flair up in his lower right leg, just like it had before. Damn it, not again! Up until now, he thought he was over his psychosomatic limp issues, and definitely couldn’t see a reason why it would return, especially now. Why, was his body aching all of a sudden? It simply didn’t make sense. Perhaps this was just a sign that he should actually get up today, despite his exhaustion. With great reluctance, he slowly opened his eyes.

One of the first things he noticed was that he was definitely not in his flat, definitely not. For starters, the walls were decorated in bright red and yellow, with pink flowers accenting the décor. It was almost blinding and he was positive that he’d never been here before. There was no way he’d ever forget walls as dreadfully bright and awful as these. Also, looking over towards the sheets, they were a bright shade of pink!

It was only now that he noticed that the clothes he wore were also not his. Not only were they several sizes too big, but they were entirely the wrong style in comparison to what he normally wore. Normally he would just sleep in boxers and a shirt but these were a pair of sweats and a cotton sweater. Lord, he was actually afraid that if he moved, the pants would actually fall off his waist.

To say that he was concerned would be an understatement. He was going to call out, but as soon as he moved again, he noticed a small weight resting on his upper chest. Lifting his head up to inspect further, he found a small, tabby cat simply staring him in the face as if he was some monstrosity. He held eye contact with the small animal for a quick moment before the cat decided he was unimportant and apparently a non-threat and decided to go back to licking its tiny paws. Where was he?

He spent the next few moments trying to figure out just how he would arrive at this place. Doing his best to think back to the previous night, he was shocked that most of it was a black hole with no information to be found. He remembered leaving the clinic… and then nothing.

Suddenly he felt a small tingle at the back of his throat and quickly gave out a small cough to clear it. As soon as he forced his chest to move, he instantly regretted it as his was quickly assaulted by an intense pain, almost like a roaring fire that was set ablaze in his chest and immediately doubled back on the bed in pain.

“John?” Out of nowhere he suddenly heard a tired, yet familiar sounding female voice call out to him, and before he had a chance to even attempt to hide himself, Molly Hooper came into his line of vision.

“Molly?” He didn’t even mean to say her name aloud, but once he came out he became aware just how rough and scratchy his voice sounded and immediately took a quick moment to clear his throat, this time being careful not to aggravate his chest as he did so. Well, if he was at Molly’s, it would certainly explain the bizarre colour scheme. While he had never been to her place before the bright colours certainly seemed to fit her character.

Molly suddenly arrived mere inches in front of him. She looked tired, that was for sure. Her normally vibrate appearance seemed somewhat toned down at the moment. Normally, when he saw the woman outside of work she was either dressed to the extreme, or dressed very lazily. Today seemed to be one of her lazy days, dressed in a simple blue t-shirt with bunnies on it, that did hug for form rather well, and a worn-out pair of blue jeans. Also, she wore a very worn out looking pink cardigan, and he couldn’t help but smile, finding it something that she would wear around the house. Finally, something that didn’t surprise him. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail which at one point of time looked to have been tight, but now was rather loose. That, on top of the tiny baggies on her eyes really made her look worn out and for some reason he couldn’t help but think he was the cause of her exhaustion.

Completely lost in his own thoughts, he didn’t even notice as she neared towards him and flinched as soon as he felt her hand make contact with his skin. His sudden movement must have frightened her because she retreated her hand so quickly and immediately took a few steps away, obviously frightened.

“J-John, do you remember what happened to you last night?” God, even her voice sounded exhausted, only adding more to his guilt. Despite the constant pain radiating from his head, he took her words to heart and thought he owned it to her to at least think about last night. He remembered leaving the clinic, and the constant rain but… everything between physically leaving the clinic and waking up here seemed a mystery to him.

“John, you were attacked on your way home from the clinic.” Molly paused there and her blue eyes drilled into his own, likely searching for something, but he didn’t know what. So, he was attacked? For some reason that made a lot of sense to him. It explained his aching body, and gave him an excuse for him being at Molly’s place, likely in her bed.

“You called me after it happened for help. Does… does none of this ring a bell?” If anything she sounded way more concerned and nervous now than she had just minutes ago, and he didn’t know if he should be comforted or concerned because of it. Molly was a nervous girl anyway, so maybe this was an attempt to comfort? Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t working. He was about to respond to her, but as soon as he opened his mouth, his body forced him to let out a serious of small coughs, once again causing the raging fire in his chest to come ablaze as the pain roared through his system again. He must have hurt his ribs in this attack. It would certainly explain his raging chest pains.

Hearing his painful cough seemed to make Molly even more concerned as she took another step back, her hand going up to cover her mouth before it found its rightful place back at her side again. To her credit, Molly looked extremely concerned for him.

“You’ve got a concussion, some cracked ribs, a sprained right knee and quite a large cut on the inside of your left forearm.” At this she actually pointed out towards his arm, drawing his attention towards the large bandage covering the arm in question. She seemed to sense his concern and didn’t continue speaking until he turned back to look at her.

“Not to mention you have more bruises than I can possibly count.” Molly explained, a quick smile on her lips followed by a tiny chuckle, likely her attempt to be cute in a funny, though in an incredibly inappropriate moment. When he didn’t smile back towards her, she seemed to get his point, and quickly cleared her throat before leaning in and placing her hand on his forehead. This time he was expecting it and didn’t flinch away, even if it was awkward to have Molly Hooper doing this to him. Well, he certainly didn’t recall getting attacked, but everything she was saying seemed to explain his injuries, and deep down he knew that he could trust her.

“It’s the cut on your arm that I’m concerned the most about.” Again, she pointed towards it, clearly giving him the option to examine the wound himself, an opportunity he willing took. Using his good arm, he peeled away at the bloody bandage and inspected the cut for himself. It was hard to see, mainly because Molly had stitched it up, but… it was satisfactory work. Sure, it would definitely leave a scar, but since he’d clearly chosen not to go to a hospital, he could never complain.

“God only knows how long you were actually outside in that rain, and the fact that you have a cough now concerns me. I’m worried that the cut may be infected. Who knows what they used to cut you.”

He simply nodded his head as he listened to her words, and took a closer towards the cut in question. It looked like Molly took a lot of care into her stitching, but it did look rather red along the edges, something he knew wasn’t the best sign. Still though, he couldn’t very well sit here and critique his savior, especially since we wasn’t sure if his cut was even infected or not. It could be, especially with the redness, but he also did spend a long period of time in the rain yesterday, or at least to his understanding, so his cough could easily have something to do with that.

 Almost just to remind them both of its presence, he was suddenly thrown into a brief fit of coughs, instantly clutching at his chest in pain. Before he knew it, Molly was at his side, quickly grabbing a glass of water from the bedside table and offering it to him. He didn’t need to be offered twice as he instantly grabbed out to it, downing as much as his body could handle, not quite realizing how dehydrated he’d become.

Once his coughing stopped, Molly met him with two tiny pills in her hand. “Here, take these.” She quickly offered them to him and he didn’t even question their intent before taking both into his good hand and using the rest of his water to shoot them down.

“One is for the pain and the other is to fight your fever.” Fever? He had a fever? Now that she mentioned it he did feel uncomfortably warm, but it wasn’t too bad. Almost as if reading his mind, or potentially reading the confusion that likely plagued his face. Molly smiled towards him and continued on.

“Nothing too bad yet, but I don’t want it getting any higher. Not with your ribs currently the way they are.” She said with a small, sad smile as she slowly got up from the bed, giving him his own personal space. He figured he could accept her reasoning. As a doctor, she made perfect sense and he really was in no position to question her. As the bed shifted with the weight of her leaving, he was again reminded of the furball on top of his chest who’d surprisingly remained untouched and unmoved, even throughout his coughing fit. The cat had even managed to situate itself on the ideal spot on his chest where it didn’t put pressure against his damaged ribs. How... well, how odd.

“Who’s this?” He said gesturing to rather adorable feline.

“Oh, Toby! No!” She quickly panicked and reached out and grabbed the cat, tearing the feline off of his chest. It was rather amusing seeing the claws that came out as the cat clearly enjoyed being in its position on his chest and wasn’t in any hurry to leave. Still though, the cat, Toby, instantly seemed to melt in Molly’s arms and he couldn’t help but smile seeing how at home Toby looked with Molly in that moment.

“Oh, John, I’m so sorry! Did he hurt you?” The concern on Molly’s face right now was so much different compared to what it had been concerning his healthy. It was almost a complete 180, and he couldn’t help but continue to smile.

“No, he was fine. Don’t worry.” Again, he wanted to cringe just hearing how raspy his voice sounded. He didn’t like it at all and wished that he had some more water or something to maybe make him sound somewhat normal. It was embarrassing to sound this bad, especially in front of somebody who’d done so much for him. In the same sense, Molly had now seen him at his worst, so really, his voice should be the least of his concerns.

“I’m so sorry. He’s my cat, obviously. He… um, well, he normally doesn’t like people, so I just assumed he would stay away from you. Again, I’m sorry… though, I was beginning to wonder where he’d gone off to!” John simply wanted to smile at her rambling on. Sometimes Molly could be rather endearing and cute, and now was one of those moments, something he was oddly thankful for. Any sense of normalcy at this moment he’d take as a comfort. Still though, he couldn’t help himself from smiling at her, but as soon as he did so, he was interrupted by another coughing fit and couldn’t hold make the long groan that accompanied it.

“Um, do you need me to rewrap your ribs again?” Molly asked, taking another step towards him and pointing towards the arm he currently had clutched against it. Still, he couldn’t help but frown. To be perfectly honest, he didn’t think rewrapping them was really going to change very much, at least not now. Naturally he’d give them a check later on, but the vibe he was getting from Molly was that she’d done them recently. He certainly didn’t want to critique her work, so he decided he’d do them himself later on when she left him alone. The poor girl had already given so much of herself to him… he really couldn’t ask her to do any more. Besides, he was far too exhausted right not to consider any sort strenuous work, so he didn’t really want to bother with much until he got more sleep.

“No, no, don’t worry about it. Honestly, I should be fine for now.” He attempted to give her a weak smile, more so  trying to convince her that he really was okay, the cough, fever and broken bones aside.  Actually, the more he thought on it, the more pathetic he figured he looked to her. He was far from fine, but he just wanted to be left alone for a bit.

“I’m actually feeling a bit tired though, so I think I’m just going to take a nap. Don’t worry though, when I wake up, I’ll do a much more thorough check of myself and I’ll be out of your hair, Molly.” Again, he tried to smile towards her, definitely not wanting to insult her or her work. She simply smiled back towards him and he felt a great sense of relief flow through his aching body. The last thing he wanted to do was offend the girl in her own room. Felling slightly more confident, he inched himself closer to the side of the bed, ignoring all the pain that flowed through him and did his best to attempt to close off some of the distance between them.

“Listen, I don’t think words can describe how appreciative I am for what you did for me last night. You have no obligation to do what you did, yet you did so anyway, and it’s a debt I will not easily be able to repay.” He met her eyes, doing his best to let her see the truth spewing from his own. Their eyes connected and he held her gaze, not risking dropping from it a minute too early, even if it meant he’d be embarrassed later. Naturally he was relieved when she finally abandoned their glare moments afterward, a quick chuckle and a smile forming around her small lips before she chose to respond to him.

“Oh, John… it really wasn’t such an issue. I wasn’t doing anything else at the time, and I’d do it again if you ever needed me to.” She sounded so confident and sincere with her words, and John honesty felt touched.

“Anyway, I, uh… well, I guess I’ll leave you to your, uh… sleeping. I’ll leave the door open a tad, and just holler if you need me for anything. I won’t be far and trust me, it’s not any sort of hassle.” Again. He was about to say something in response to her, but before he even knew it, she had left the room, taking Toby with her. For some strange reason he couldn’t help but feel like things were somewhat awkward between them, but maybe that was Molly just being Molly? He wasn’t quite sure.

“Mmmm, okay, Molly.” He said the words anyway, hoping she could hear them before he shifted back down onto his bed, still trying to ignore the pain that occurred as he did so.

Now once Molly was no longer glaring down at him, he allowed his face to squint and unravel as he resituated himself onto the fluffy bed. Whatever pills Molly had given him seemed to be doing their trick and he could easily feel his body fall asleep on him before his mind willed it so. It was rather awkward, he had to admit. Knowing that he wouldn’t have much longer, he gently took his sore arm into his good one and re-examined the wound again. It looked very similar to how it had before, very well cleaned up, but still, there were obvious signs of an infection, and he trusted Molly knew this as well. While he normally would have been very concerned about this fact, he knew he could trust Molly and the longer he stared at the wound, the more unfocused his vision became and he just decided that he would deal with the issue when he woke up. He couldn’t deal with it now, not with everything he’d just had to digest, and despite all the pain he was currently experiencing, he found sleep very quickly that afternoon.

*****

For nearly the fifth time that afternoon Molly took John’s temperature and looked at her watch with concern. Since their brief conversation earlier John’s fever has steadily risen and John had been very unresponsive to any of her attempts to wake him. Whenever she tried he just swatted her away and told her to leave him alone, never fully waking, a stark contrast to his behaviour this morning when he had been awake and responsive, albeit a little cranky.

She gently took John’s injured arm in her own and inspected it. She knew this had to be what was causing John’s fever. The area was clearly infected. She had been cleaning it non-stop since last night, changing the dressings every few hours, and while the area seemed to be looking a bit better, John’s fever was still getting higher. To make matters worse she could hear the beginnings of a chest infection whenever John breathed. Fortunately for him though, he had not been coughing as much since his fever got worse.

She was really considering taking the man to a hospital soon. He was very clearly sick and had yet to respond to the antibiotics she had given him, in fact, John had gotten worse. Now she could barely even get him awake enough to drink water, something he clearly needed as he has been sweating profusely since this morning.

Another curious thing to her was that her cat, Toby had refused to leave John’s side since had had entered the flat. Every time she tried to move the feline, Toby just hissed at her. He didn’t seem to be bothering John at all, he was currently curled up at the end of the bed by John’s feet, he wasn’t even sleeping, he was just watching John. It was slightly eerie for Molly to watch since Toby never reacted this way to anyone else, not even her!

Withholding a yawn she was just about to try and rouse John for more meds and a drink she heard the familiar sound of her phone buzzing, she quickly ran to grab it, remembering what had happened last time she answered her phone.

“Hello?” She tenitively asked.

“Hey, Molly? I just got your text from last night. Is everything ok?” Relief flooded through her system as she realized it was Greg. She now remembered texting him last night when she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to manage to get to her flat with John. Perhaps he could help now? He could know what to do.

“Hey, Greg… It’s a long story. Would you mind coming over to my flat for a bit?” She asked. Both she and Greg were planning on meeting up for coffee today anyways. John liked Greg, he wouldn’t mind if she asked him for help. She remembered John refusing Greg’s help last night, but she knew Greg, he wouldn’t report this if John didn’t want him to.

“Uh yeah. Did you want me to come straight over?” He asked.

“Yes please. Just get here as fast as you can and I will explain everything to you.”

“Are you sure you’re ok, Molly?” The concern was evident in his voice. Greg was really a nice guy.

“Yes, I’m fine. I will explain everything once you get here ok?” She didn’t want to explain anything on the phone, it would be much better just to let Greg get here and see for himself.

“Ok, I will be there in ten minutes.” He said before he ended the call. Molly looked back to her patient.

John was in the exact position she had left him in. He was lying on his back and was slightly curled onto his right side, right leg managing to still stay perched on the pillows she left earlier. Even from several feet away Molly could see how much the man was sweating. The overly large shirt was practically sticking to his body. While he was very clearly asleep Molly could tell that it was not entirely peaceful as she could see John flinched every few moments.

Withholding a sigh she gently moved over to where she had left a clean bowl of cool water and a cloth, then are carefully as she could she brought the clean cloth up and wiped the sweat off John’s face. John let out a small moan as the cool cloth touched his hot skin but eventually he started to lean into the touch. When she was done with his forehead and face she moved down to wipe at his neck and upper chest. The shirt he was wearing was entirely too large and was able to access his chest with little difficulty.

As she made her way to his left side she gently pulled the shirt down a bit so she could get another look at John’s sore looking shoulder. Just as she had predicted the night before there was a large, boot-shaped bruise covering the fragile shoulder. It looked worse now that the bruising was beginning to darken, turning it back and blue. She still couldn’t get over the fact that John had this much damage done to his shoulder and she never knew about it. The only time she had ever seen him favouring his shoulder was after a friendly NSY rugby game, John had taken a hit from a man more than double his weight and still came out with the ball, at the time she hadn’t thought much about him hugging his shoulder close. Now she knew why.

John flinched when she brought the cool cloth to his bruised shoulder. She ignored the small whimper he made as she continued to clean at the area. She knew it had to hurt, John had not reacted well to her touch last night, but at the same time she had to make sure it stayed clean. She was almost done cleaning the area when she heard another small whimper, followed by a few words she couldn’t understand.

“Please stop… please…” The words were followed a couple others in a different language. She immediately stopped with the cloth. She quickly brought the cloth back to John’s already drenched forehead as he continued to mumble phrases in a language she did not understand. Maybe she was in a bit over her head? John wasn’t responding to the antibiotics and his fever was getting worse.

Just as she was considering calling the hospital she heard a knock at the door. Greg! She had almost forgotten about him. She quietly left John alone with the cat and went for the door. She was greeted with Greg’s concerned face.

“Molly! I came as soon as I could, are you ok?” He asked as he entered her now clean flat.

“Yes, yeah I’m fine Greg… It’s not actually about me…” She said as she looked at the floor. She didn’t even know if John and Greg were friends anymore. She knew they used to be, but a lot had happened in eight months. “When was the last time you saw John?”

“John Watson?” Greg looked slightly confused. She nodded. “Not recently. Hell, I don’t think I’ve seen the poor bloke since the funeral. Not for lack of trying. I’ve tried to ask him out for a drink at the pub but he always cancels or pretends he didn’t get my messages. Why do you ask?”

Best to not beat around the bush, Molly thought. “Ok, well it’s a long story and I don’t really have all the details, but he was attacked last night-“

“Attacked? What happened?”

“I don’t really know, all I know is that I got a call last night from him. He was disorientated and didn’t want to go to a hospital.” She said as she nervously tucked her hair behind her ears. She hoped Greg understood and didn’t get angry for involving him.

“Where is he? Is he ok” Greg asked. His right hand finding a way to clutch at the back of his neck, something Molly noticed he did when he was anxious or concerned.

“Well that’s the thing. He didn’t want to go to a hospital and he really shouldn’t be left alone, so he’s… um. He’s here…” She said, once again averting her gaze from Greg.

“Here? As in your flat?” He said as he looked around. Molly was glad she had the time to clean around a bit last night. She had to wake John up every few hours to make sure he wasn’t bleeding into his brain, not to mention clean some of the bandages. Between that and the stress of everything that happened that night she was unable to sleep, which is why she was so tired now.  She cleaned her flat in the meantime.

“Well, he was very adamant to not go to the hospital. I found him passed out in a dirty alley near his clinic, I couldn’t just leave him there…” She tried to explain as she felt the beginnings of panic rise through her blood.

“No, I’m sure you did good Molly. How is he? Where is he?” Greg asked, suddenly looking around.

“He’s alive but not well. I’m really considering getting him to a hospital soon. I don’t care if he wants it or not. He’s got a pretty bad concussion, a few broken ribs and a sprained knee. All those are treatable, but he also sustained a nasty cut on his arm, I stitched it up the best I could but it managed to get infected. Now he’s got a raging fever and nothing I’m doing has been able to bring it down.” She finished with a frustrated sigh. Maybe she just wasn’t good enough, and that’s why John wasn’t responding well. She startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see Greg’s kind face.

“I’m sure you’ve done excellent, Molly. Can I see him?” He asked. Molly just nodded and took his hand in hers as she led him through the flat to her room. She stopped once they were outside her door.

“Now he’s got quite a bad fever so I’ve just been trying to cool him off and hope for the best… Just ignore the mess.” Greg just smiled; he was really handsome when he did that.

“I’ve probably seen worse, trust me.” At that she led him into the room where John was sleeping. John was still resting uncomfortably where she left him. The areas she had wiped down were already coated with another layer of sweat. He was incredibly pale except for his cheeks which were flushed bright red. The cut on his head seemed to be healing nicely besides the fact the area was now terribly bruised. All in all John looked like he had been put through the ringer.

“Jesus, John?” Greg called as he released Molly’s hand and inched closer to where John lay resting. John did not appear to have heard him.

“He hasn’t been very responsive. Not in the past couple hours at least… I was going to try and get him up a bit to take more meds soon.” She watched as Greg took her previously occupied seat at the edge of the bed. Greg placed a hand on John’s forehead to check his temperature.

“Has he been conscious at all? How did you get him here?” He asked.

“Yeah, he was a little out of it last night, suffering from an obvious concussion, but he was able to look himself over, diagnose himself and communicate with me. He slept fine most of the night. I woke him up every couple hours to check his concussion but he seemed fine all the times I did. He woke up at like 9AM and was pretty coherent; he was almost going to get ready to leave. I could tell he had the start of a fever, but I didn’t expect it to escalate this quickly.”  Greg just nodded at her explanation. He then took in John’s elevated leg.

“How’d you get him here with his leg all messed up?” He asked as he pointed to the leg.

“That’s the other interesting thing that happened last night.” Molly smiled, once again thinking about Artemis. Greg raised his eyebrows in question, causing Molly to once again blush.

“Well, I found him in an alley near his clinic. It was cold and raining and he was quite disoriented. I managed to get him all the way to the main street but even that was a struggle. John could hardly walk. By the time we got to the main street he was practically passed out.” She paused, to sit on the edge of the bed. “Then out of nowhere a black car appeared. It stopped right in front of us and a tall, blond man in a black suit came out. At first I thought it was maybe one of the men who attacked John, but he instantly assured me he was here to help.” Greg looked shocked that she had accepted help from such a stranger. She was quick to raise a hand and defend herself.

“Don’t look at me like that Greg! He said he worked for “a friend of John’s” and apparently a friend of mine as well. I had no idea who he was and I still don’t know who he was referring to. “She said as she shrugged her shoulders. She knew it sounded bad but honestly in the heat of the moment, taking a ride from Artemis didn’t seem wrong. Greg still looked doubtful.

“Anyway, Artemis was able-“

“Artemis!? Who the hell is this guy?” Greg all but shouted.

“He’s the one who picked us up. He was really big and strong and was easily able to carry John to the car, seriously, the guy was so tall!” Molly beamed. She wasn’t lying, Artemis had to be at least 6’5, and it had taken no effort for him to carry a much smaller John. Molly could almost imagine herself in his strong arms. Greg just rolled his eyes.

“Once we got settled in the car I noticed a small package that was addressed to me. It said “Take care of him”-M. I have no idea what the “M” is supposed to mean. Maybe it’s a person? I don’t know.” Greg seemed to think for a moment.

“Was the car nice?” He asked. Molly nodded, remembering how it almost looked like a limo from the inside.

“What was in the package?”

“Everything! It had almost legal pain medication, wraps, gauze, bandages. Seriously, Greg it was like a mini-pharmacy. I have no idea who sent it or where it came from.” Greg was nodding; he had the same look on his face that he gets when he has an idea.

“Everything about the situation was entirely weird. Artemis knew my name and address without being told, he also knew that John was adamant about not going to a hospital. I can’t understand how he could have known those things.” She shook her head as she finished.

“I think I have an idea of who it was.” Greg said with a small smile.

“Who?” She honestly had no idea, whoever it was, she was very grateful to them.

“Mycroft Holmes”

“Who?” Holmes? Did that mean…

“Mycroft Bloody Holmes. Yes, he is exactly who you’d think he is. Sherlock’s brother. God, this makes so much more sense now…” Molly had never been so confused in her life. Sherlock had a brother? How did she not know that? Greg seemed to take in her confused look.

“I don’t know too much about him but Mycroft is Sherlock’s older brother. He works within the British Government.  He has control over everything. Medical records, CCTV… anything you can think of. The man you met tonight no doubt works for him. I’ve met several of his… employee’s over the years.” Greg stopped to look at the ceiling. “Yes, this makes so much sense. Mycroft’s been watching John… that’s how he knew about the attack and that’s why this Artemis fellow showed up so quickly to help you. It all makes sense now!”

Molly didn’t quite understand what was happening. She was still stuck on the fact that Sherlock had a brother she never knew about. Why had he never told her? Perhaps this Mycroft was also in on his faked death? She was brought out of her thoughts when John suddenly let out a loud, pained shout.

He was once again babbling in that foreign language. She bent down with the cool cloth and placed it on his forehead, making soothing noises as she smoothed back some of his sweaty hair from his forehead.

“Come on John, wake up for me…” She looked over to see Greg staring at her. John just continued to call out in his dream. “Can you run over to my freezer and grab a bag of ice? I set a couple aside earlier.” Greg just nodded and ran off to get her what she wanted. Perhaps things would be easier with another set of hands around. There was something else she wanted Greg to go, something she was defiantly too nervous to go about doing, especially after last night.

Greg came back in the room two minutes later carrying the ice and a fresh glass of water, both of which she handed to her.

“Thanks, Greg.” She said as he made her first real attempt at waking John up. Since he wasn’t responding to her verbal commands she thought perhaps she would get some reaction from the physical. She placed the knuckles of her hands right on the top of his chest and pressed down hard. It wasn’t long before John groaned, his eyes finally opening all the way for the first time in hours.  Almost as soon as he opened them he shut them and turned himself away from Molly and trying to curl up as much as his abused body would allow.

“No, no John, I’ve got some meds to make you feel better.” She said as she grabbed his shoulder and forced him to turn back around. John just looked up at her confused. “Here, did you want some water?” She asked as she brought the glass close to his face so he could see. Perhaps it was John’s body automatically reacting to his need to fluids but he instantly reacted when she mentioned the water. She smiled.

“Okay, Greg here is going to help you sit up a bit ok? Just so you don’t spill anything. I’m going to check out your ribs ok? Might hurt a bit.” She looked over to Greg to step in. Quite frankly she was done with the heavy lifting. Greg took her sign and with gentleness Molly didn’t expect he managed to grab John around the shoulders and heft him up a bit so he was sitting up a bit straighter against the headboard of the bed. John let out a small cry of pain as his ribs were slightly jostled and his right hand flew up to press against his head.

“Shit! Sorry John.” Greg cried, clearly not expecting John’s negative response to being moved. John surprisingly turned to face him.

“S’Okay Greg,” Molly was slightly shocked at the weakness of John’s voice, but at least he was coherent enough to notice that Greg was in the room.

“Greg can you get his sweater off him?” She asked. The shirt was drenched in sweat. It was only getting in her way as she attempted to remove the wrap from John’s chest. Even the wrap was soaked. Greg just nodded and with gentle ease he was able get the dirty shirt off John. Not for the first time Molly thanked the lords at the shirts massive size as Greg did not need to jostle John’s arms too much to remove the shirt.

“Shit…” Greg quickly covered his month as he took it the massive amount of bruising that covered John’s chest and abdomen. The bruising looked worse today than it did last night. Slowly Molly was able to move the soaked wrap and discard it on the floor with the ruined shirt.

“Who the hell did this to him?” Greg asked. Molly just shrugged.

“He doesn’t remember anything from the attack.” She explained. Greg just shook his head, clearly unconvinced.

Between the two of them they were able to get the wrap secured around John’s ribs a lot quicker than she had done the night before. Greg had managed to get the pills down John’s throat before he fell into another feverish dream.

“His ribs aren’t the problem, it’s his arm.” She then carefully peeled back the sweaty bandage, revealing to Greg the extent of John’s cut. The whole area was now read and swollen, her predictions from the night before coming true. She swore he could see the beginnings of puss forming in-between her perfectly placed stitches.

“Shit, that looks buggered…” Greg commented.

“I’m trying my best to stop the infection, right now I think it’s contained but we have to be careful. We can’t risk it getting any worse. His fever is already a lot worse than this morning.

“Well I’m here to help, Molly.” Greg said, looking incredible eager. She wasn’t really sure what she was going to get him to do. Greg wasn’t a doctor but he was better than nothing. He was a cop so he shouldn’t mind the gore. He could at least look over John while she got some shut eye, something she was looking very forward to doing.

“Would you mind watching him while I take a quick nap? I’ve been up all last night…. He should be fine… He um… obviously you know he just took his meds… I will just be over in the living room; you can come get me any time. I just-“

“Its fine Molly, I’ve looked after my own sick kids. I can handle an ex-army doctor…” He said with a smile on his face. Molly just hoped he was right. She had looked after plenty of sick patients before, but the fact that she knew John just made everything different, more personal.

“Thanks Greg…” She said as she gave John once more look over. He was still resting uncomfortably but she was going to give the meds time to work. If he was still this bad after her nap she would consider something else. As she left her bedroom she couldn’t help but feel it was going to be a long couple days.
****

 

 

Greg was positive this was a bad idea, absolutely positive. If all of his years as a cop had taught him anything, it was that things like this never ended up well for any of the parties involved, yet here he was.

If had all started last night, probably close to midnight. For some reason, he still wasn’t quite sure how, he had managed to fall asleep despite all the chaos surrounding him, and he had to admit, it was a pretty good sleep, though it all ended when Molly came up to him in a panicked frenzy, shaking him awake, demanding to know if he had a number to contact Mycroft Holmes.

 He had given her the number, clearly wanting to help out in any way he could, and the next thing he knew it was three hours later and a strange man, apparently a surgeon, was currently in Molly/John’s room, examining him.

Being perfectly honest with himself, he had no idea what he should even be thinking at this point. Molly was so frightened and he wanted to do anything he could to make her feel better, so he simply nodded his head and whispered her words of encouragement while she attempted to fill him in on what he had missed. While he had only managed to sleep about four or five hours, John had taken a dramatic turn for the worst. It was Molly who was on watch, and during one of her examinations, she’d noticed just how swollen and red John’s managed arm had gotten, puss and discharge soaking the bandage. There were even some tinges of black surrounding the area, something that concerned the medical examiner even more. It was pretty clear to her what needed to be done, but she had the sense of knowing she couldn’t do it herself, thankfully. Apparently there was a common procedure surgeons preformed in cases of severe infections that involved removing the infected flesh before it could spread and make matters even worse. Honestly, he didn’t understand it completely, but they both agreed that it wasn’t something she should be doing. While she may have been a doctor, she was far from a surgeon.

This is where Mycroft came in. Now, typically Greg liked to minimize the contact he kelp with the ‘figurehead’ of the British Government, but it was a sacrifice he was willing to make for his friends, and the man was more than willing to help them out. Three hours later. Dr. Kalen Michaels was in Molly’s flat, bent over John’s unconscious body and examining the wound. A strange and unsavory looking bag residing by his feet.

The man had not said much, just that he owned Mycroft a favour. And absolute discretion was to be advised, something he and Molly both eagerly agree upon. While the doctor was not pleased to be performing such a task in a less than sterile bedroom, he seemed be willing to follow the directions of Mycroft, so after a few minutes of complaining, the man went silent.

Now, Molly had been a superstar this entire night… he had been nothing more than a common bystander, but he had to give credit to where credit was due, and the quirky redhead certainly deserved some. Everything had been discussed between the three of them. Obviously, Molly and Dr. Michaels would be doing the actual procedure, while he only task was to guard Toby, a task he didn’t even enjoy taking, but Molly had asked him and he didn’t think he was able to say no to her.

Apparently Molly had thought it would be best for him to get some rest, but also understood he wouldn’t be able to sleep with the mysterious surgeon in her flat, so this was her attempt to make him useful. He felt truly useless… Looking after a cat that hated him, really? One thing he also didn’t understand was why the cat held such an attraction towards John, yet despised him. To his memory he’d ever done anything bad to Molly or the fuzzy feline, yet he still received such unwarranted hate. He supposed this was a legit task to do considering the feline refused to leave the John’s presence, so… he supposed somebody had to hold the cat back, but why did it have to be him?

“Guess it’s just you and me” Old Toby…” He couldn’t help but smile down at the cat, not really even knowing its age. Perhaps it wasn’t old, but he snickered to himself at his joke.

Slowly he closed the door to the room, knowing that they would be starting the procedure any minute now. They didn’t need him or Toby anywhere near them, and he was thankful for it. He simply took his place back on to the couch he’d previously been sleeping on, cradling the cat in his arms and doing his best to comfort it. Despite being downright hostile towards him earlier, Toby did seem to accept being in his arms, almost like he knew what was going on. It was rather odd, but the feline kept its beady little eyes glued to the closed door the entire time and he didn’t know if it was because of Molly, or if he was really that obsessed with John.

 To his own credit, his eyes had been glued there too, but that was simply because he was a human being, and he also had the brain capability to know just how serious the situation at hand was. The minutes passed slowly, but not a peep came from the room. He wondered if that was supposed to be a good thing or not. No noise meant no complications, so after debating it back and forth in his mind for a few moments, mainly to pass the time, he decided it was a good thing.

The moments continued to go by, no noise ever coming from the closed room. It was just him and Toby, and as surprisingly as it was, the cat had begun purring at him as he slowly started to pet it’s silky fur. While it was a far cry from actually liking him, at least he seemed to bonding with the cat. Molly would be so pleased! Really, anything was better than the constant hostility the beast constantly showed him. Tonight was a well-deserved reprise.

“You know, you’re not so bad yourself.” He gestured down to the feline who in response, almost like he understood the words being spoken, sneezed on his hand. Little bugger…

He was about to say something, anything really back towards the cat but before he had the chance to speak up, the door suddenly flew open, an exhausted and somewhat bloody Molly appearing in the doorframe, leaning her slender body against it. Before he even had a chance to tighten his grip on Toby, the cat jumped off of him and bolted into the room, likely to take back his place on John’s lap, ignoring his owner along the way. Since Molly only seemed to smile at the funny feline, not protest, he assumed that it would be allowed… meaning that John must have been okay.

“Did you make a new friend?”

Her perky voice rang into his ears and he couldn’t but smile back up to her, throwing his arms out at the nothingness surrounding him. “What can I say?” He couldn’t help but allow his smile to grow a bit as he took in just how great Molly did look, even with her messy appearance. Sure, she had seen better days, but knowing that she had just contributed to saving somebody certainly made her more appealing than she had been previously.

Wanting to focus more on the cat and less on how he viewed the examiner differently, he piped up again. “Though his hostile nature reminds me of one of my ex-wives, so I suspect he’ll end up ditching me once he meet’s someone else.” He let out a nervous laugh as he continued to smile towards her, hoping that she would find his joke somewhat humorous, though he realized comparing her precious cat to one of his dreadful ex-wives may not have been the best thing he could have done, especially in this scenario. She truly seemed confused by his words and gave him a rather puzzled look, something that actually made him somewhat embarrassed and he was suddenly glad it was still dark out so that she couldn’t see the faint blush that assaulted his cheeks. Yikes, bad timing.

“Sorry, bad joke.” Maybe he should stop trying to be funny and lighten the mood. So far it hadn’t worked very well for him. Before she could berate him for his lack of appropriate humour, he decided to speak up again, this time hiding his embarrassment by talking about something a lot more relative.

“So, how did it go?” The procedure, of course. He raised his eyebrows, trying his best to seem as concerned as he truly was. He couldn’t help it, he wasn’t an overly emotional guy.

She simply continued giving him a confused look until what he meant truly hit her and she suddenly blushed, likely embarrassed before she quickly spoke up. ”Oh! The procedure, right. Um, I think it went very well!” A smile immediately assaulted her lips, and he couldn’t help but smile back towards her as he quickly lifted himself from his chair, almost jumping with joy.

“Oh, well, that’s great news, right?” Well, he could only assume so. From what he understood, John’s arm was clearly the most severe out of his injuries, and it was mainly due to the risk of infection. Once the risk of infection was gone, John’s life would at least be off the hook. While he understood the other injuries were damaging and would certainly hold the doctor back, at least he would be alive.

“Yeah, yeah, according to Dr. Michaels John should make a full recovery, even with his other injuries.” She easily responded, sounding rather chipper and more like her normal self than she had all evening. Not that he blamed her for being stressed at all. Hell, he knew he was and he barely understood what was happening. All of this ‘doctor business’ was right over his head.

Still though, he didn’t quite know how to respond to this news, but before he knew it, he had jumped over towards her, wrapping his much larger arms around her tiny frame and forcing her into a tight hug. He hadn’t been planning on doing it, but here he was, hugging Molly Hooper! It didn’t take her long to respond to him, and soon he could feel her arms wrapped around him, and as strange as it was to admit, it felt few nice. Just that thought alone he suddenly became aware of how awkward it was, just sitting here and hugging her. It was safe to say that neither of them had even really been remotely intimate with each other, but things had changed now, hadn’t they?

Not wanting to force her into hugging him back for any longer than necessary, he slowly started to pull away, but was utterly surprised when he could feel her pressing back against him, forcing him to maintain their intimate moment.

“Thanks, Greg, You’ve been really great through all of this.” Her words sounded somewhat muffled as her head was pressed tightly against his shoulder, but he was still able to make them out and started to respond to her.

“Oh, don’t even mention it. You’re the one who-”

He never got to finish is sentence as wonderful Dr. Michaels decided at that moment to barge right past them, almost knocking Molly to the floor. If he hadn’t been holding her, she most likely would have ended up there.

 It took all of his self-control not to lash out at the surgeon and tell him to watch where he was going, but he knew Molly wouldn’t like that and… as hard as it was to admit, this man had just saved John’s life, so he knew he couldn’t be too rude. Instead he simply took a few steps away from the redhead, distancing them and doing his best to make it look like they hadn’t been having an intimate moment.

“The infection should be mostly cleared. He’s still going to have a fever for a bit, but it shouldn’t get any worse now that the source has been removed. I left some extra medications to help make sure it doesn’t come back. Just some ‘under the counter’ stuff that I’m sure you’ll be able to keep a secret.” He said, giving them a dorty look. “His arm should be fine after a little physio. He’s not going to have much movement when he makes up, but after a few weeks of physio he should be fine.”

At this the man looked directly at him. Maybe the man knew his occupation, but why would he rat them out now? If he was going to go to the police with this, he would have done so before inviting a strange surgeon into Molly’s flat to perform a highly illegal procedure! The words irritated him and he was going to comment further on it, but the doctor beat him to it, continuing on.

 “Listen, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. We’re going to pretend this never happened. Just, let Mycroft know that ‘our debt is paid.’” Without saying another word to either him or Molly, the mysterious doctor continued right out the door, bringing his equally as mystery bag with him. Greg was satisfied to never see the man ever again.

When Molly didn’t say anything. He chose to follow in her suit and remained quiet about the whole ordeal. The two of them spend the next few moments in silence, and when he turned back to face her, Molly quickly spoke up, tilting her head in an awkward way which only seemed to make her look cuter.

“Listen, I’m pooped after all of that. Would you mind watching John for a few hours? We gave him some sedatives, but I’d prefer it if somebody was with him, especially if he suddenly wakes up.” Her voice sounded oddly hopefully, almost like she expected him to say no. How could he do that?

“Oh, uh no problem.  You get all the rest you need and I’ll wake you if anything happens, alright?” He nodded his head as he spoke. Certainly he could handle that much at least. He may not have been a doctor, but he was far from useless.

“Thanks Greg. I, uh, meant what I said, ya know. You’ve been really great through all of this.” The way that her eyes shined despite the darkness made a weird sensation run through his stomach and he couldn’t help but smile back towards her, certainly enjoying being complimented from her. Not knowing if it was the right choice or not, he took another step towards her, closing off their distance like he had earlier and reached down and grabbed her hands, intertwining their fingers and a much more intimate manner than they ever had before.

“Hey, you don’t need to thank me, you’re the superstar here, and you know I’d do anything for John.” Another nod of his head as he stared into her eyes again, losing himself in their serenity.

“I-I know, but I just, uh, wanted to say thanks anyway.” She still managed to sound nervous and he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe he was making her by his actions. The way she smiled at him and then averted his gaze make him want to  laugh at her, finding the poor girl to be utterly adorable at the moment, but luckily he refrained from it.

“Anytime…” and he meant it

“Well, uh, I guess I’ll be going to bed then.” She glanced down to their intertwined hands and he immediately let them go, placing his own rightfully back at his side as he stepped out of her way, giving her all the space she needed to sidestep past him, though he’d be lying if he said he didn’t mind letting her walk by him.

“Right… I’ll wake you in a couple of hours.” At least he could do that much for her.

Upon hearing his words, she turned around and gave him another quick and friendly smile. “Thanks…”

 

 Slowly he watched as she made her way down to the couch, still in her bloody and gross clothing. Well, she was a doctor, so surely blood didn’t bother her, he couldn’t help but think it was somewhat odd. Oh well, now certainly wasn’t the time to call her out on it. He doubted he ever would. Something he had come to learn to like about Molly Hooper over these past few days was that she had her quirks, but once you got used to them, they were rather endearing. Yes, he was definitely getting to know Molly better, but it was stirring unusual feelings in him. Turning her gaze away from her, he looked into the bed John was currently lying in. Well, he had a job to do and could only hope Toby stayed civil with him as he did so.

***

“What’s the next step?” Greg asked as he walked into the living room to where Molly was resting. He had just spent the last hour sitting next to John’s bed, listening to his cries for his dead best friend. It nearly broke his heart to hear. They had almost tried everything to lower his fever, their most recent attempt being to place bags of ice on John’s neck and chest, and while that had not lowered his fever, it didn’t rise, which was a good thing. The creepy doctor from the night before had assured them that John’s fever would dissipate over the next couple hours. Needless to say, it didn’t!

Molly looked up from the book she was reading. “I think maybe a cool bath?”

Oh John would hate that! Greg thought. He had not reacted well to the bags of ice, not that he blamed the man, Greg himself had gotten cold just holding the bags in place. He couldn’t imagine being in John’s position, especially where John was so obviously cold.

“Think it will work?” He asked.

Molly just shook her head and sighed as she looked to her bathroom. “It’s honestly the last thing I can think of, at this point his fever isn’t rising anymore, but we need to get it to break. I think as long as the water isn’t terribly cold he should be fine.” She knew ice baths could send your patient into shock, but getting John submerged in cool water wouldn’t be a bad thing. Decision made she stood up and walked over to the bathroom.

“I will get the water and everything set up, we should probably change his sheets while he is out of the bed as well. Do you think you can manage to get him in here on your own?” He asked as she stopped to grab some towels and fresh sheets.

Greg’s thoughts automatically went back to the other day, when Molly had been beaming about how strong Mycroft’s man, Artemis was. How he could easily carry John around. Sure, he might not be as young as he once was, and he certainly wasn’t 6’0, but he should be able to carry John the two minute walk from the bedroom to the bathroom.

“Sure! No problem. Just yell at me when you’re ready.” He said as he made his way back into the room. John appeared to be sleeping, just as he had been when Greg had left the room moments before. He was also greeted by Molly cat, Toby. He could not get over how much the cat had attached itself to John. Despite their time together last night, Greg couldn’t even get close enough to touch the damn thing, much less cuddle against it like John had done earlier.

He could hear Molly had the water running in the bathroom. He hated to bug John when it was obvious he was actually sleeping, not the fever dreams he had been having the past several hours. Still though, he trusted Molly’s judgement. He always had, she was an excellent doctor. Last night only seemed to prove that fact! She was a superstar!

As carefully as he could he bent down and undid the wrap around John’s chest, just as Molly had instructed him to do earlier. He took a moment to once again observe the horrific bruising on John’s chest. Who would to this to him? He had vowed to find out just who John’s attackers were. He knew John didn’t want to pursue anything, but at the same time he has hardly been in the right set on mind since the attack. Greg was hoping that once he had recovered from this God awful fever he would be able to remember more about what happened. If not. Well then he would contact Mycroft.

Once he had removed the wrap he threw it on the floor. John was wearing nothing but his dark pants. They had realized yesterday that it was no use having him wear clothes if he was just going to sweat through them in five minutes; they only served to get in the way. John had not been fully awake since then anyways.

“I’m ready.” he heard Molly call from the other room. Greg stood there and silently debated how he was going to get the unconscious man into the next room. John certainly didn’t look like he was particularly heavy; he had a slight frame and had obviously lost some weight in the past few months. He couldn’t be much more than nine stone. Nine stone was still a great deal heavier than anything he’s lifted in the past year. Silently saying a prayer for his poor back he bent down and carefully hefted the small man up and over his shoulder, trying his best to be careful with his ribs. He was shocked to feel just how hot John’s body was. He was practically a furnace he was radiating so much heat. Greg certainly hoped the water Molly had set wasn’t too cold.

He walked nice and slowly, trying to make it seem like John’s weight was nothing, when in reality his back was killing him. He gave Molly a smile once he got in the room. “You want me to get him in?” He asked gesturing to the half –filled tub. For his part John had not even stirred throughout his entire adventure to the bathroom.

“Yeah, just make sure you put him in nice and slow. He’s probably going to lash out as soon as he touches the water so make sure you’ve got a… um… a strong grip!” Greg nodded and quickly started to lower John into the tub. Just as predicted almost as soon as John’s foot touched the water he lashed out.

His bright blue eyes flashed open and he instantly panicked, limbs flailing everywhere. Greg had to be careful that he did not just drop John right away. Despite John’s protests he continued to hold him tight and lower him into the water.

“Fuck! It’s C..Cold!” John cried as more of his overly hot skin made contact with the water. Greg could feel that although John was panicking because of the temperature, the water was not cold at all. It was slightly below room temperature. Molly had drawn it out perfectly. John was merely panicking because his temperature was so much higher than normal.

While Greg focused on trying to keep John’s body submerged, Molly made sure his bandaged left arm did not make contact with the water. John continued to thrash, and it was one of the hardest things Greg has had to do to keep pushing John’s chest back down under the water when it was clearly causing him a great amount of distress. John kept screaming, he now had tears running down his face. Greg had to bite his lips to avoid saying anything.

After a few minutes of thrashing John seemed to understand that he was not leaving the water and he eventually started to relax a bit in Greg’s grip. Greg was finally able to release his grip entirely. He had to wring his fingers out a bit to restore feeling. He certainly hoped he did not leave any bruises although with the amount of bruises already cover John’s chest he doubt John would even notice.

Once John relaxed a bit more in the tub Molly grabbed a cup that was off to the side and started to pour some water on John’s face, cleaning away all the grim from his tears and sweat. She then gave the same treatment to John’s hair. Greg watched her work, admiring just how gentle she was being. John closed his eyes moments ago and Greg was not sure if he was conscious or not. He didn’t seem to be responding to anything Molly was doing.

Greg took a moment to look down at his shirt, which was now soaked due to John’s thrashing. He probably should have thought this through a little bit more. Considering Molly kept coming up with clothes for John to wear he hoped she maybe had an extra shirt he could pop on.

John stayed in the tub for well over ten minutes, eventually the water started to cool off a bit more and John started to shiver a bit. It was only then that Molly decided he could be taken out.

“Here, I’m going to go change the sheets on the bed. Do you think you can get him out, dried and into the room by yourself?” She asked. Greg nodded, although he was slightly nervous about drying the man, he just didn’t know where to touch John that wouldn’t hurt him!

“Yeah I will be fine.” He called. Molly then nervously walked back into the room.

“Do you um... also think you can uh… change him into these?” She handed him a new pair of blue pants. Her face was bright red and it was almost cute to see how nervous she was about asking him. He smiled and nodded his head.

“No problem, Molly.”

“Ok… Good. I will um... just be in the other room.” She said as she awkwardly left the bathroom. Greg couldn’t help but smile. Molly really was adorable sometimes. Laughing he turned his attention back to John, who was shivering slightly on the floor, he seemed to be completely out of it.

Without a second thought he grabbed the nearby towel and gingerly started drying John off with it, being careful not to press down too hard on his wounds. Once John was relatively dry Greg did what Molly was too nervous to do. He quickly changed John’s pants.  He didn’t mind, John had nothing he hasn’t seen before. The whole process of changing him and drying him took less than five minutes. He wondered if Molly was finished in the room.

“Ouch! Toby!” He heard. He wanted to laugh, that cat was a menace!

“You ready for us in there Molly?” He called.

“Yes, if Toby ever decides to give me the bed back! I managed to change the sheets so maybe once he sees John he will calm down a bit.” He smiled again. Molly was too cute sometimes. He took a moment to stretch his back before he slowly bent down to pick John up again. He carefully hefted him over his back just like before and slowly made his way back into the bedroom.

Molly was there, with a squirming at in her hands. Once Toby saw that John was in the room he managed to wiggle his way out of Molly’s hands.

“Ugh, Silly cat!” She then looked at Greg and then to the bed. “Shoot I forgot to pull back the blankets, one sec Greg.” Greg tried to hide his concern. He was almost shaking. Carrying John while he had been moving was ok, but now that he was stationary he could feel almost all of John’s nine stone, hell maybe he was more than that… Either way his back was protesting heavily.  Thinking back to Molly’s face while talking about Artemis he redoubled his efforts. He had to maintain his strong face in front of Molly.

Almost as soon as the sheets were pulled back he immediately discarded John on the bed, trying not to make it look like he was just dumping him. Once John was settled Greg instantly rubbed at his back, he was going to need a long bath after this. Molly was already taking John’s temperature with the thermometer. Greg took a moment to quickly brush his hand against John’s temple.

“You know, I think he’s actually a lot cooler.” He honestly did. Perhaps it was because his own hands were quite cold, but even as he carried John back into the room he was no longer radiating heat like he had been before.

Molly nodded as she waited for the thermometer to beep. “Yes! He’s down to 38.8 C” Greg couldn’t help but sigh in relief. While John was no way out of the woods, he was no longer in the danger zone.

“That’s excellent, Molly.” He had a sudden urge to hug the women, just as he did the night before. She has been such a pillar of strength these past few days. He made on step closer to engulfing her in a giant hug before she stopped him.

“Greg, your shirts all wet. Here…” He stopped mid-stride and watched as she walked over to the box that held the clothes John was wearing. She seemed to tear through the clothes before she found a bright blue shirt.

“Here, it’s probably a tad too big but it’s better than wearing that wet one.” She said with a slight blush. Greg looked down to his soaked grey shirt. Molly was right. She handed him the new shirt. Should he change it here in front of her? Or should he ask for privacy. He had no issues changing in front of other people, even women. Molly was different though. He felt as though these past few days had brought them even closer. It wasn’t that he was self-conscious. He might not be as built as the Artemis fellow Molly had talked about, nor as skinny as John (who now appeared to be sleeping soundly on the bed) but he had nothing to be ashamed of.

Without a second thought he silently stripped out of his wet grey shirt. He watched as Molly’s face turned bright red, all the way up to the tips of her ears. She then awkwardly busied herself with picking up some of the mess in the room. He purposely slowed down as he put the new shirt on, almost laughing as he watched the young women scramble around the room.

The shirt didn’t fit him too bad. It was maybe a size too big but overall he has looked worse. Once he was finished he helped her to pick to the mess of bandages and sweaty clothes.

“Were you going to wrap his ribs up again?” He asked and he picked up the dirty wraps he had thrown on the floor earlier.

“Oh yes. Did you mind helping me?” She asked; face still bright right from her embarrassment earlier.

“Not a problem.” He said as he positioned himself on John’s bed. He and Molly now had a system when it came to wrapping the ribs. He would hold John up while she got the wrap all about his ribs. It only took about five minutes for them to do now.

As he watched Molly turn the wrap around he noticed how her hands were shaking. Looking closer he could see the bags under her eyes. She looked exhausted. Not for the first time he wondered how much sleep she actually got. They had both taken shifts over the past two days but she had also spent her time away cooking them dinner and organizing supplies. He had no idea how long she actually spent sleeping.

By the time she had his ribs wrapped and arm cleaned and bandaged almost her whole body was shaking. He watched as she bent down to inspect the wound on John’s temple he quickly placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Molly, when was the last time you slept?” She shook her head.

“Well I slept after Dr. Michaels was here.”

“Yes but that was only for about two hours, plus that was ages ago.” He took in her beautiful, yet tired face. “How about you go rest for a little bit? John’s fine here with me… He’s not going anywhere.” To his surprise Molly didn’t even protest. She just nodded her head in approval. She must be very tired indeed.

“Ok, yeah. I’m quite done in at the moment. You’re sure you don’t mind?” She asked again. Greg just smiled and pointed to the book on the dresser near John’s bed. “I’ve got a book to read, plus I have Toby here to keep me company.” He said as he pointed to the fuzzy furball that was once again resting on the top of John’s chest.

“Ok, thanks a lot Greg!” She said as she slowly shuffled her way out of the room, looking far more exhausted now then she did ten minutes ago. He was going to let her sleep for as long as she needed. In his line of work he was used to going without sleep.

Letting out a loud exhale he looked over to John. He seemed to be sleeping much more soundly than any other time Greg has seen since arriving. He also didn’t appear to be shivering anymore. He prayed John was out of the woods. Even now he even seemed a lot better than an hour ago. He then made eye contact with John’s protector.

 

“I guess it’s just you and me again “Old Toby”

The first thing John was aware of as he slowly regained consciousness was that he was being watched. He could feel someone’s eyes on him, watching him. The second thing he became aware of what just how thirsty he was. He felt as though he hadn’t had a drink in two years, in fact this was probably the thirstiest he has been since Afghanistan. He was also quite cold. He could feel that he was not wearing anything besides his pants! Panicking slightly he slowly opened his eyes to find that he was indeed correct about his first assumption. He was being watched. There were two sets of eyes on him, one human and one feline.

The dark eyes of Greg Lestrade were watching him closely. John was about to ask him why he was watching him sleep but when is opened his mouth to talk, all that came out was a garbled sound.

“Here,” Greg said as he brought a drink with a straw to his face. John didn’t care how he looked right now, he greedily took the straw in his mouth and sucked at the cool, refreshing water that was in the cup. Christ! It was like a godsend, his mouth and throat felt so dry, the water was a blessing. He managed to drink every last drop of what appeared to be only a half a cup of water. When he was done he looked to Greg for more.

“Not quite yet, John. Let’s see how that settles in your stomach first.” He said with a hint of a smile. “Do you remember anything that’s happened?” Greg asked.

John turned to face the ceiling. He knows he was sick, that much is for sure, while he didn’t remember the specifics about being attacked, he knows it happened, and that he called Molly. Oh God! He instantly turned to Greg again.

“Mo..lly?” God, his voice was rough. He sounded like an eighty year old talking on a microphone. He cleared his throat, ignoring the pain he got from his injured ribs.

“Molly’s fine. She is sleeping on the couch.” Good, Molly probably needed her rest, she had been going non-stop with him. Feeling no ill effects after drinking the water he turned back to Greg.

“Can I have… more water?” Greg nodded and filled the cup halfway again. This time John instantly lifted his left hand up to grab it from him. He was shocked to find that his entire arm was heavily bandaged and his visible hand was shaking. He then realized couldn’t even feel his hand! He quickly started to panic.

“Hey, hey, John.” Greg put a hand on his right shoulder. “Listen buddy, don’t worry about your arm ok? It’s going to be fine. I know you don’t have a lot of feeling right now but after a bit of physio you will be as good as new!” That did little to comfort him now. He didn’t understand why his arm was in such a condition. He accepted the straw from Greg (not caring about how pathetic he looked right now) and savoured his second drink in five minutes. As he finished this one he could see what Greg meant when he said to take it easy as his stomach was beginning to feel a little queasy. When he was done with the water he looked to Greg again.

“I remember some things about what happened, but not much after my first night here. When did you get here?” In fact he thought he remembered asking Molly not to call Greg, although he couldn’t be sure. Greg just shook his head

“I’m not really sure how much you remember. I guess I will start from the beginning…” Greg went on to explain everything. John had been at Molly’s for almost three and a half days. He remembered calling her after getting attacked. He also has vague memories of his first night here. Everything after that was a blur. Greg explained that he developed a fever overnight. Molly had called Greg over sometime during his first day. Together they had both taken care of them throughout his fever dreams. According to Greg at one point he was even screaming out in Pashto!

The reason why his arm was so bandaged was because at one point his cut had been so infected that they had no choice but to open up his stitches and cut out some of the infected flesh. Greg had assured him that they had called Mycroft to send in a proper surgeon to do the job and once the procedure was done on the beginning of the second day he began to bounce back. His fever finally broke on the second evening and he has been sleeping ever since.

To say he was surprised would be an understatement. He didn’t remember anything happening after that first night, but apparently he has almost died! He certainly felt like it, his body was sore and he had the overwhelming sense of fatigue about him. He could easily just curl up and sleep for another three days.

Now that he was more awake he was able to take it Greg’s state. The man looked exhausted, like he has been up the past several days. John suddenly felt incredibly guilty. Both Molly and Greg had been taking care of him the past three days. Day and night they had stood by his beside and he battled fever dreams. What did he do to deserve this? How could he ever repay them?

“Greg… I don’t know how to thank yo-“

“You don’t need to thank me, John.” Greg’s face turned serious. “Every single day I regret being the one to put the cuffs on Sherlock. I knew he wasn’t a fraud but I was too much of a coward to act of my true beliefs. Had I been stronger, more like you, he might not have done what he did. To this day I regret what I did and I wish for nothing more than your forgiveness.” John was shocked. He had never expected to feel this way. Admittedly John had been very angry at Greg for his behaviour prior to Sherlock’s fall. It was the main reason he has been avoiding the man since then. He knew Greg has been trying to contact him. He was just about to open his mouth to respond when Greg interrupted him.

“Molly is the one you need to be thanking John. Without her I doubt you would even be alive right now. That girl gave you everything! She waited by your bed day and night. She would only leave you alone once I assured her I would watch over you and let her know if there were any changes. The poor girl barely slept for two whole days. She is only sleeping now because she practically passed out on the sofa.” If Greg’s goal was to make him feel even more guilty then he succeeded by a large margin.

He has done nothing to earn this type of caring from Molly. In fact he barely knew her outside of Sherlock. Since the man’s death he had not even seen Molly. The fact she had been so willing to help him spoke of lot about what kind of women she was.

“I have no idea how I can even begin to repay her...” He said, speaking the truth.

“How about starting with being her friend? “ Greg said.  John looked confused.

“She doesn’t want money or flowers! She just wants you to keep in touch. I’m not only speaking for her here but you hurt a lot of people when you cut everyone out of your life after Sherlock’s death. You have people who care about you, John. We understood you needed your space, but we still want you to come back.” John knew exactly what he was talking about. He tried to run away from all the memories after Sherlock’s fall. He had not realized just how many people he cut out of his life.

“Now I know you didn’t mean to John, but you do mean a lot to some of us. Take Mrs. Hudson for example. She didn’t just lose Sherlock that day, she lost you as well.” John really had no thought about it that way. He had been too busy wallowing in his own self-pity to think about how anyone else felt. “Anyway, I just think if you make a little bit more effort from here on out. Maybe we can all get together once a week for a drink? Something like that?”

“I think I can manage that…” He said. It was instantly followed by a large yawn. “Sorry Greg I didn’t-“

“It’s fine John. I can see you’re knackered right now. I will let you fall asleep for now, but don’t think I’m not going to hold you up to this. Once a week at least ok?” John nodded. He could manage once a week.

 

“Ok” Greg got up to leave the room, but John was already asleep before the door shut.

 

Three weeks later…

Slowly, yet surely John made his way up the stairs of the tube station. Unfortunately this was one of the many stations that did not include elevator services, so navigating up the stairs and escalators at rush hour traffic while hobbling around on a cane, was not exactly an easy task. Still though, John was anything but discouraged, in fact… had there been an elevator he probably still would not have taken it.

He sighed as he reached the top of the steps, leaning his cane against the wall and fishing his mobile out from his pocket. He was late, he was only a five minute walk from the restaurant he had agreed to meet them at, but John always hated being late, in fact, he hated it when he friends were late for things as well. He looked back to his cane; it wasn’t exactly like he didn’t have a good excuse.

He was back on the cane for a bit. Actually, in his own opinion he didn’t think he needed to be on it anymore, but his physiotherapist would throw a fit if she saw him without it. When he had finally left Molly’s and his knee was no better he gave in and went to get it checked out at the hospital. He ended up having quite a bad sprain, his own treatment of rest and ice had been exactly what they recommended, however they also got him hooked up with a physiotherapist to help with both his arm and his leg.

His arm was a little bit slower to heal, but that was expected. It was still in a sling be he could move his fingers well enough, his main issue was with muscle strength (he couldn’t grip or hold anything yet) but he was slowly getting stronger. His main issue was that it was his dominant arm that was out of commission. For the second time in his life he’s had to try and readjust and do things with his wrong hand. It was no easier the second time around.

His ribs were healing perfectly, and despite how sick he had been he managed to recover most of his strength fairly quickly. The only thing that still troubled him a lot were his headaches, he was still getting them daily and sometimes they were bad enough that he would need to shut everything down and pass out in a dark room. The doctors told him to have patience, which he was trying to work on, but it was hard when he was suffering from them daily. To be honest though, it was his fourth concussion in his forty years of life, and three of them he received in the past four years. He knew it was going to take some time.

He was brought out of his thoughts as he found the restaurant he was supposed to meet at. As he walked in he instantly found who he was looking for.

Both Molly and Greg were engaged in a deep conversation with Mrs. Hudson at the table. John smiled at the sight. Ever since his accident Molly and Greg have been closer than ever. John was pretty sure they were dating now, although he didn’t want to imply anything. It would be good for the both of them. They were perfect for each other. He has been meeting them to dinners at different pubs twice a week now ever since he was well enough to leave. Mrs. Hudson was a new addition to their little group, only her second night out. She positively beamed when she saw him.

“Oh, John! You’re looking so well!” She said as she rose off her chair to hug him. John returned the hug with a bit of exaggeration. If there was one thing regretted after Sherlock’s fall, it was not continuing his relationship with Mrs. Hudson. Moving out of Baker Street was necessary, the memories there were too strong, and he couldn’t take living with all the memories of Sherlock. However, that did not mean he needed to shut Mrs. Hudson out as he did. He didn’t need to shut anyone out, as he knows now.

“Not as well as you!” He said with a laugh as he clutched her tighter. He could feel her rubbing at his shoulders. She (along with Molly) seemed to take his recent weight loss as a personal insult, and between the both of them he has received enough food to last a year.

She released her hold on him and led him over to the seats they had reserved. He greeted Molly with a quick hug and he shook Greg’s hand, not quite comfortable enough for a hug yet. They all ordered their food with ease (John was adamant he was only ordering the soup because it was the only thing on the menu that didn’t require using two hands).

“So, how are you John?” This is pretty much how all their nights started out. John wouldn’t lie, and in turn when he asked about Molly’s and Greg’s lives (even Mrs. Hudson) they wouldn’t lie either.

“Good, good. Hand is coming along fine. Um… my leg’s almost healed, only carrying the cane around now to please the physiotherapist. “He said with a quick laugh. “Um… headaches are the same, some good days and some bad days… but uh… none perfect just yet.” He didn’t mention how he was bedbound for two hours this morning, unable to tolerate any light or movement. He also neglected to mention that he was still not cleared to work, but at the same time, they didn’t ask. Trying to change the subject off himself he turned to Mrs. Hudson.

“And how are you Mrs. Hudson!” He quickly turned the tables on her and for the next fifteen minutes he got to hear all about the most recent celebrity gossip, not to mention to gossip around town. Apparently his old neighbor at Baker Street was having an affair? He had no idea how one  old lady was capable of finding all this information out, but then again if there was someone who could do it, it was Mrs. Hudson.

By the time their food had arrived Mrs. Hudson had asked Molly all about her last few days. John was struck by how much he missed this, the camaraderie of friends. Since Sherlock’s death he has cut everyone off, and he never realized how much he would miss his friends. How much easier those first few months would have been had he not isolated himself. He was so lucky now to have people who actually cared for him.

Molly had then asked Greg about his past few days. John listened intently as he explained their most recent murder case. A murderer who steals their victims shoes and socks after he kills them. It sounded rather interesting and he couldn’t help but think Sherlock would have had a field day with this! He would be visiting every shoe store in London looking for the murderer, John could only imagine the different disguises he would know doubt be forced to wear.

“John!” He snapped his head back and Molly called his name, wincing as his vision blurred for a moment. Damn his head! “Yeah, sorry… lost in my head for a moment there.” He tried to laugh it off. Molly smiled and switched her gaze from him to Greg.

“Well, Greg was just asking if you wanted to go take a look after your done eating?” The question was so shocking he dropped his spoon in his soup.

“Take a look at what?” He asked. Clearly she did not mean what he thought she said.

“The most recent crime scene? I mean, I know you’re not Sherlock Holmes, but you’ve spent so much time with the man that maybe some of his skills rubbed off on you?” John was almost going to roll his eyes. He wasn’t Sherlock Holmes and he wasn’t going to pretend to be, he let Greg continue. “I’ve seen the way you are at the scenes, you might not have noticed it but you make at least a dozen deductions without even noticing that our guys could never have made.”

“I’d hardly call those deductions, it’s mostly just pointing out stuff that Sherlock’s already said. Its not-“

“What about “The Blue-Nose Killer?”” Molly interrupted. John shrugged.

“What about it?”

“Well, you’re the one who figured everything out about the blue nose!” John shook his head.

“That was just a fluke. I happened to have read something about it the day before. It’s not like Sherlock, I’m not a genius… it was a fluke.” He turned when he felt Mrs. Hudson’s hand on his left shoulder.

“I think you should go, John. You’re smart, you’re a doctor. Perhaps a fresh set of eyes is all they need.” He looked to see both Molly and Greg nodding in approval. They actually wanted him on the crime scene?

“You’re serious” He asked again. He couldn’t believe this was happening. He would want nothing more than to go back on the crime scene. It wouldn’t be the same. Nothing will ever be like that, but a chance to make a difference? More than treating snotty noses at the clinic (a job he won’t be cleared to do until his headaches disappear and he has full use of his dominant arm)

“We wouldn’t have asked you if we weren’t serious, John.” Greg said. For the first time since before Sherlock’s death John felt a true smile creep its way onto his face. Then he remembered one thing.

“Wait, what about the Superintendent?” He asked. Greg slowly smiled and shook his head, knowing what John was referring to.

“What about him?” Molly asked, clearly lost.

“I uhh.. I chinned him last time I saw him. When he made fun of Sherlock…” He gave a small smile as he remembered the satisfying crunch of the superintendent’s nose. He looked over to see that Greg too was smiling.

“Well, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Besides, he’s retiring due to “Stress” in two months. I don’t think he would even care.” Greg said as he shrugged, John also noted how he was using Molly’s distraction and was secretly stealing the chips off Molly’s plate.  He smiled.

“You’re serious?” He asked one last time. Both Greg and Molly had big smiles on their faces.

“Okay” he said as he stood up, cane in hand and ready to go. He looked down to see Molly, Greg and Mrs. Hudson all unmoved.

“Not until you finish your meal, dear.” Mrs. Hudson said as she pointed to his barely touched soup. He felt his entire face turn bright red. Both M

“Yes!” Greg said once again. John took a couple deep breathes (ignoring the slight pain in his chest). He couldn’t get over how excited he was to go. He wasn’t even this excited when he went with Sherlock for the first time. Maybe this was it? Maybe this was how he could continue Sherlock’s legacy? Make sure everyone knew Sherlock was real. He could prove it, he knew he could. It’s just a matter of getting the world to believe.

Molly and Greg were laughing (John did note that they were nowholding hands). He felt like a twelve-year old that had been told he can’t play until he finished his vegetables. It made him think back to all the times he left his meal unfinished whenever Sherlock came up with one of his brilliant ideas. Things would be different now.

Perhaps his attack was a good thing? It might not have been good on his already abused body, but it brought him back together with friends. He knew now how much they meant to him, and how much he meant to them. One month ago he didn’t think he had a future, he couldn’t see past the darkness of his own depression. Now with the help of his friends he could see a future. A future in clearing Sherlock Holmes name, a future where James Moriarty was real.

Looking down at his soup he knew it could happen.


THE END.