Beta: Many thanks to iamshadow and kath_ballantyne
Summary: In another world, John Watson lies dead. But not in this world.
Content Notes: Contains some violent imagery
Disclaimer: Moffat and Gatiss legally own this version of Sherlock Holmes. This story is based on The Adventure of the Three Garridebs by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Word Count: Approx. 600 words.
Cross-posted to AO3
In Another World
In another world, John Watson lies dead.
In another world, the bullet found his heart and not his leg, or it had hit two inches to the left and opened his femoral artery, and John's life had bled out right there on the floor.
“It's all right, Sherlock, I'm all right,” John tells him. “It's just a scratch, really. I'm all right.”
But Sherlock needs to know, he needs to see, because in another world, John is dead, and Sherlock can't take chances. His knife cuts at the bloody fabric of John's trousers, careful, oh so careful not to touch the wound.
“Superficial,” Sherlock murmurs, as his heart re-forms in his chest. “It’s superficial.”
Sherlock knows thirty-seven different ways to kill a man with his bare hands, and in another world, he uses them all on the man cowering in the corner, shielding himself from the fire in Sherlock’s eyes.
* * *
In this world, John Watson sits with his bandaged leg propped up on the sofa, as he types away at his laptop, condensing the day’s events into an entry for his blog. He hums a stupid off-key tune, and he scratches his shoulder, and his jaw grows tight whenever he can’t find the right word. In this world, Sherlock watches him, cataloguing every blink, every breath, every sign that John’s heart still beats, that his brain still sends electronic impulses through his body and makes him John.
Sherlock can see the mortuary in which John grows cold. He can see the ice forming on John’s lips. He can feel the heat that still surges through him, after he’s broken every bone in his hands against the brick walls of his cell.
John’s voice cuts through everything. John, in this world, looking up at him with a half-exasperated smile.
“I really am okay, you know.”
“I know,” says Sherlock, far too quickly.
“No you don’t.” John is standing now—wincing a bit, as the weight falls on his leg, but standing anyway, limping across the room to stand in front of Sherlock. His hands come to rest on Sherlock’s shoulders, and he forces Sherlock to look him in the eye. “I’m all right.”
In this world, that’s true.
Sherlock feels himself trembling, because this world is so close to that other one, and he needs that not to be true, so for the one and only time, he leans in and he presses his lips to John’s, and he kisses him. Just once, only once, because Sherlock isn’t like that, not really, and John is like that, but not with men; just this once that doesn’t matter, because in this world, John Watson is alive, and his lips are warm and dry and safe.
When Sherlock pulls away, John looks at him with a furrowed brow, and a half-cocked head, but he doesn't ask questions, and Sherlock realises that John doesn't need to ask, because John understands these things, far better than Sherlock himself does, far better than Sherlock ever could.
“It was worth it,” John says.
John clears his throat. “Yeah. Getting shot. Worth it to know that—well, you know.”
And Sherlock nods, because whatever has happened today, whatever he's done, it means something to John; this John, his John, John who doesn’t care about that other world, who doesn’t even seem to know that it exists.
In this world, John is standing there in front of him, and everything is right.