Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Word count: 3000
A/N: Written for the summer 2013 round at sherlockmas for the prompt Sherlock/John; With superpowers. They are superheroes of different perspective to the world and how they save it. It's a lot more on the superpowers side than the superheroes side, but whatever. Kind of magic realism, I guess? Also available on AO3.
Summary: There's a time to hide how powerful his Healing actually is and there's a time to save Sherlock from bleeding to death. It's an easy decision, but John's still not looking forward to Sherlock turning his Sight onto things that John would rather he not know.
If John could say anything about Sherlock Holmes, it was that he didn't do anything by halves. Which was marvelous when he was tearing around London solving murders, infuriating when he was expounding on his own superiority at length, maddening when he was sprawled out all over the flat in a morass of boredom.
And more than a little harrowing when he was bleeding to death in an alley.
The man who'd stabbed Sherlock collapsed with John's bullet in his brain and John didn't bother waiting for him to hit the floor before he dashed to Sherlock's side.
Sherlock hissed out a garbled breath, both of his hands gripping futilely at the wide gash that was encouraging his innards to escape from his stomach. The tang of blood was thick enough for John to taste, mixing sickeningly with the panicked bile rising at the back of his throat.
"Christ, Sherlock… easy!" John helped Sherlock lean against the wall, throwing a doctor's keen eye over the wound, the blood and the gray of Sherlock's face, and coming up with a truly unacceptable conclusion. "Bugger, okay. Just, just hang on."
John's mobile was in his hand in an instant. He hit speed dial two and hardly waited for Lestrade to answer before he snapped out "Sherlock needs an ambulance", rattled off their current location and rang off without bothering to put his phone back in his pocket.
"N-no point," Sherlock managed between bloodless lips.
"Shut up," John said, stripping off his coat and rolling up his sleeves with quick, brisk efficiency. "Less talking, more breathing. You are not dying on me."
"This is going to hurt," he told Sherlock, no time for platitudes. Not that Sherlock would have appreciated them anyway.
Sherlock blinked sluggishly, more as a result of blood loss than confusion. "Wasting y-your time," he gasped. "W-w-won't be enough-"
Ignoring him, John took a deep breath and reached inside himself for the spark of life that always burned there, just waiting to be used. His body temperature soared immediately and John focused that heat into his hands, feeling the tingle of it racing through his veins. He pushed Sherlock's slack fingers aside and pressed his own against Sherlock's skin instead.
The heat sank into Sherlock's body and John used it first to siphon off as much pain as he could, knowing as he did that it was the equivalent of sticking a plaster on a bullet wound. Once he'd done as much as he could, John turned his attention to the wound, feeling out the shape of it so that he could put Sherlock back together.
John kept pouring energy into Sherlock, ignoring the fatigue swarming over him. It had been a long time since John had Healed on this scale and he found it almost comforting to slip back into that relentless, vigilant state. He kept going, willing torn veins and punctured organs to re-knit themselves. Above him, he could faintly sense Sherlock's laboured breaths evening out, but he didn't concern himself with that. He was touching Sherlock's very life force; he didn't need external cues to tell him that Sherlock's condition was improving.
Once John was sure that Sherlock was no longer at Death's door, he allowed the flow of power to trickle to a close. He didn't seal the wound entirely, much as his instincts told him to; Sherlock was going to need blood to replenish what he'd lost, and John couldn't have explained why if there wasn't a wound to blame it on.
Finally, John had Sherlock at a point where the EMTs would be able to take over without worrying about Sherlock dying on them and he sat back on his heels with a relieved breath, shaky with adrenaline and exhaustion.
"No leaving without me," he told the air, as much to himself as to the crumple of Sherlock's body. "You can't."
The distant whine of an ambulance sounded in the distance and John gave himself a mental shake as he prepared to pretend that he'd been able to do considerably less to help Sherlock not die. His Healing wasn't supposed to be that powerful, after all.
Sherlock made a faint noise and John glanced up to find Sherlock staring at him, eyes glassy with pain and blood loss but still alert enough to let John know that his secret wasn't a secret anymore. Which didn't fill him with as much worry as he would have expected.
It had only been a matter of time before Sherlock found out, really. Frankly, John was surprised that Sherlock hadn't got himself mortally wounded long before this.
Everyone had a Quality.
Qualities fell into broad categories, easily identified during adolescence, but every person's Quality was distinct, unique. Strong, subtle, active, reactive. No matter their shape or strength, Qualities afforded people skills and strengths that others didn't - and couldn't - possess. Some people actually had two, but they were few and far between, and multiple Qualities substantially increased a person's likelihood of suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and similar disorders.
John had Healing.
It was, understandably, a valuable Quality for a doctor. Sherlock thought that it was the most 'mind numbingly obvious' thing about him, but John contented himself with the knowledge of just how often Sherlock found himself in need of some Healing.
Not that John ever did all that much. His Healing was registered as a rank three on a ten point scale; he fixed small cuts, corrected hairline fractures, reduced swelling and bruising, limited blood loss from flesh wounds. His low rank had always meant that John relied more on his learned abilities than many other doctors - his Healing playing an unobtrusive, but valuable, second to his medical acumen.
Sherlock had Sight.
Most people's Sight trended towards either towards marksmanship or fine detail work. Sherlock used his to solve things. He had an amazing capacity for assimilating the data his Sight afforded and using that ridiculously big brain of his to put all the pieces together, cutting straight through lies and obfuscations to get to the truth.
John wasn't actually sure how high Sherlock's Quality was ranked, which was an interesting thing not to know about a man who thought that the purpose of the entire world was either to keep him from being bored, be in awe of his majesty or, preferably, both. Sherlock had to be at least an eight, John suspected, which was ridiculously high; the majority of the population ranked between two and five, like John.
Except, not actually like John at all.
Sherlock passed out in the ambulance and John rode to the hospital with him, beyond grateful that Mycroft had already pulled the necessary strings to gain him access to Sherlock. He didn't let Sherlock out of his sight for a second longer than necessary and ignored the way his body wanted to crash now that the fear had had a chance to catch up to him. John had preferred it when he was too full of frantic adrenaline to realize how close he'd come to losing Sherlock tonight.
John spent a very uncomfortable night perched in a chair at Sherlock's bedside, watching Sherlock sleep and resisting the urge to help the healing process along. Emergency life-saving Healing in an abandoned alleyway was one thing; John didn't dare try anything in a hospital.
Once Sherlock woke up, John was careful not to spend any time alone in his company. It was obvious that Sherlock knew what John was doing - his eyes followed John around the room when John came to visit with Mrs. Hudson or Lestrade or Molly, and the look in them was one that John had seen him direct at dead bodies when he was using his Sight to learn every secret they had to divulge. John pretended ignorance. Sherlock wasn't going to be fooled for a moment, but John didn't want to have this conversation anywhere that it might be heard. If he had to avoid Sherlock to do that, so be it.
But John knew that it was a temporary reprieve at best and so wasn't surprised when Sherlock had hardly waited for John to shut the sitting room door behind them and make them both a cup of tea before saying, "You're not rank three Healing."
"Yes, I am," John said, instinctive and pointless. The only reason he'd been able to hide it so long was that Sherlock hadn't been looking; with his Sight firmly focused on John, there was no way on Earth that Sherlock couldn't tell that John was lying. All John hoped was that keeping Sherlock's attention on John's Healing would keep him from looking at John's other secret.
Sure enough, Sherlock simply gave him a condescending look and carried on talking as if John hadn't spoken. "That wound should have killed me long before the ambulance arrived."
"Should it?" John asked. Just because this conversation was inevitable didn't mean he was going to make it easy. He handed Sherlock's tea over to him and retreated with his own towards his chair.
"The paramedics were unable to correlate the severity of the injury with the amount of blood I lost," Sherlock continued. "You should have left a larger wound."
"And have you die on me?" John asked, not technically an admission although it may as well have been. He sat down with a weary sigh; he'd been rather short on sleep the last few days. "What was their final consensus?"
Sherlock's eyes sparkled with self-satisfied amusement. "That you're not very good at limiting blood loss for a rank three."
And John had to join him in grinning at that one. "They see but don't observe," he said, with a passable attempt at Sherlock's characteristic disdain.
"Exactly." Sherlock contemplated John's face in silence for a moment and then said, "Why didn't you register properly?"
"I did," John said honestly. Sherlock deserved that much from him.
"But you didn't amend your ranking on the standardized test to reflect later development," Sherlock determined, correctly of course. "Most people's Qualities are fully matured well before they get tested at age fourteen; the degree of development that yours subsequently underwent is highly irregular."
"You're telling me," John said, grinning a little. "Right bollocksed up some of my practical exams at uni."
Sherlock tilted his head, silently assessing. "Rank Seven?"
"Or thereabouts," John said, with a shrug. "Never got retested, so I'm not exactly sure."
"You're aware that that's considered a felony."
"Amazingly enough, yes, Sherlock, I did know that. D'you really think I've kept quiet about it my entire adult life for a lark?"
"Then why?" Sherlock asked again. "You should have been Healing in the top hospitals in the country, not mucking about in Afghanistan." It was said with curiosity rather than censure, which John appreciated. For Sherlock, that was downright diplomatic.
"That's exactly why I didn't." John took a fortifying sip of tea while Sherlock made his best 'I am not confused because I am Sherlock bloody Holmes and I don't do confusion, but am nonetheless rather confused' face. "I wanted to help on the ground, not in some fancy hospital where the patients need a multigenerational pedigree and a trust fund to get in the door. I'm a doctor, Sherlock. I went I felt I'd be the most help. "
"You could have been helping terminally ill patients and curing cancer," Sherlock pointed out. "Surely that would have suited your pathological need to take care of people."
"I did work with terminally ill patients, Sherlock; I was on the battlefield, remember?"
Sherlock waved a dismissive hand. "Bleeding to death doesn't count."
"Oh, it very much does."
"You're contradicting yourself," Sherlock said, his tone sliding towards irritated. "You claim that your skills were best utilized in the field, but you wouldn't have been able to work to your full capacity without being forcibly retested which means that you didn't care for your charges to the best of your ability. You did less good for all these ordinary people you care about so much than you would have working in a hospital or research institute."
John shrugged. "Maybe. Though you'd be surprised how much you can get away with at an IED site. There's usually too much chaos to keep a close eye on who's got a punctured lung or a missing foot. And it's not like all I can do is repair bullet holes; my Healing has more facets than that."
That brought Sherlock's eyes snapping to John's with sudden, narrowed interest. "What can you do?" he asked, which John should have expected.
"Well, repair bullet holes for one." John grinned at Sherlock's sour expression. "I've never really tested my limits properly, but I've reattached fingers, turned off a patient's pain receptors - did that for you too, by the way; you're welcome -, healed ulcers and a benign tumour once, cleared out light bacterial infections and fixed up all manner of standard combat wounds. Oh, and it improves my beside manner."
Sherlock arched an eyebrow. "Your bedside manner."
John nodded. "I'm very good at calming people down, providing a steadying influence, that sort of thing." He chuckled a little. "Pretty sure it's more my Healing than the joy of my presence."
"I wonder," Sherlock said, in a tone of voice that John wasn't sure how to identify beyond 'speculative'. His eyes were narrowed and he was considering John with a faint hint of what looked like disapproval tugging at his mouth.
John considered him. "You think I should have been retested."
"Of course!" Sherlock burst out, up on his feet in an instant. "How can you be satisfied when even you don't know what you can do? You're contenting yourself with mediocrity! What a waste, John!"
The desire to go unnoticed, unremarked. It was a foreign concept to Sherlock, John knew. Sherlock took pride in making sure that everyone knew just how extraordinary he was. John didn't fault him for it at all - the world deserved to know what kind of man it had in Sherlock Holmes - but that sort of notoriety didn't suit John at all. And Sherlock, who'd seen being different as a defense against a world that faulted him for being different, would never understand why John would rather be ordinary.
So John offered him a quiet smile. "I don't think it is. I never retested because I wanted it to be my choice what I did with my Healing. And what I wanted to do was help ordinary, boring people like me who needed my skills as a doctor just as much as they needed my ability to Heal. Good thing too," he added lightly. "Because otherwise you'd be dead a dozen times over by now."
"You knew I'd notice," Sherlock accused, and now they were getting to the part of this conversation that John had been hoping to avoid.
Sherlock cocked his head at John, openly assessing. "And yet you saved me. Even though, in the past, you've let men die rather than give yourself away." His gaze lingered significantly on John's shoulder. "Including yourself, nearly. It wasn't you who Healed your shoulder after you got shot."
It was all true and they both knew it, so John didn't bother answering. He waited, shoulders squared in automatic defense.
"Why did you do it, John?" Sherlock asked. "Why break the habit of decades for a man who Sees everything and is regularly spied upon by the British government?"
John felt his mouth thin unhappily. "What kind of answer are you looking for, Sherlock? I wasn't going to let you die."
"Why not?" Sherlock demanded, pushing, just like he always did.
"Because I wasn't," John snapped. "And I won't in the future, not if I can help it. So I'd appreciate it if you didn't take this as permission to be even more suicidally reckless than you already are. Because I'm not doing without you and I don't fancy having your brother cart me off to work in some top secret government hospital."
Sherlock was silent for long enough to make John start to worry about just what Sherlock was seeing inside him. Before John could make an excuse to escape, Sherlock strode over and planted his hands on the arms of the chair, leaning in close.
John's heart skipped, as it was wont to do when Sherlock got too close. "Can I help you?" he asked, because calm was something he was very good at, even with a face full of Sherlock.
"John Watson," Sherlock said, with a warmth that no one else in the world would have believed possible, John was sure. "You are a marvel sometimes. And not as subtle as you think you are." Then he leaned in that last few inches to press a quick, chaste kiss to the corner of John's mouth.
He was gone again before John had finished processing what had just happened. John stared, utterly gobsmacked. "Did you just…?"
"Really, John," Sherlock said, in exactly the same tone he always used. Only the sparkle of a grin in his eyes gave him away. "Even without Sight, the answer should be obvious."
And John smiled. "You always were a fan of running into things head first."
"And you've always been more than capable of not being normal when it matters," Sherlock shot back, something hopeful and uncommonly vulnerable in his voice.
Really, there was only one possible response to that. John heaved himself out of his chair and went after Sherlock. Just like always.
"Doesn't it feel good though?" he asked, stopping in front of Sherlock and tilting his head back with a smile. "Being the only person who knows that I'm not normal?"
Sherlock's grin was a wonderful thing. "Now that you mention it…"
John didn't bother mentioning that he knew a secret of Sherlock's now, as well. He arched up as Sherlock bent down and decided that some things were better left unsaid.
It was more of a joint secret, anyway.