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02 February 2011 @ 02:06 pm
(Sherlock fic) And Not To Yield  
Author:  frith_in_thorns 
Recipient:   For dakfinv as an incredibly late entry to the 221b_slash_fest</lj>  Christmas fic exchange
Pairing:   Sherlock/John
Rating:  15
Genre:  Angst, h/c
Summary:   Sherlock tries to keep John hanging on, which is difficult under the circumstances.
Word count:  900
Warnings:  PTSD

Note:  I am really sorry that this is so incredibly late. Um, happy February?


“John,” says Sherlock. “This is really not the time.”

Sherlock. But Sherlock’s too far away, too far away and not a part of this, not as real as the grit beneath him and the pain and the terror, amplified through memory, becoming the memory.

His mind is fragmenting, he can feel it, and Death is lurking inside the cracks, waiting. Waiting.

“John. Can you hear me? Can you respond?”

Respond. Respond. We have a man down, respond!

The hot stink of blood. The rattle-rattle-rattle of automated fire. These things overwhelming; unquestionably tangible; providing a place for ships of ghost and memory to tether themselves to.

Sand and sand and shouts and screams and the roar of turbines overhead.

“John, you’re suffering from a PTSD flashback – ”

Stay with me, Watson!

“ – presumably triggered by the current somewhat trying circumstances. Try and focus – ”

Shouts, and the bright silhouettes of jagged bare mountains emblazoned against the merciless burning blue above. The skyline stamped on his retinas.

“ – on what’s real. John?”

Please, God, let me live.

Sherlock is there somewhere, impossibly far away through space and time because he’s not there, he doesn’t belong there, he shouldn’t even exist yet. Just sand and sky and the sounds of war.

Let me live.


The train roars past through the underground twilight, over clattering rails, and sweeps a gale of warm oil-fouled air across them. John makes a noise like a gasp which would have been a scream if there had been more breath behind it and Sherlock twists helplessly against the steel edges of the handcuffs locking him against the wall. He felt the skin on his wrists tear long ago but he keeps struggling, shredding his flesh in an endless bid to break free.

Facts he’s aware of: this is an impossible task; he’s sacrificing dexterity in his hands which could be vital at a later stage of the escape; the piping he’s handcuffed to feels thick with rust and he’s probably picked up multiple infections already.

Fact he’s actually interested in: John is slowly bleeding out on the other side of the alcove, just out of reach, and he isn’t responding. Or not responding to him.

“John, I don’t know if you can hear or understand me, but we aren’t technically in a warzone. We’re being detained somewhere along the Underground. Piccadilly line, if my estimation is correct.”

Another train screeches past and unseeing faces are briefly visible in bright frames of windows, passing flick-flick-flick like a film reel, and gone.

“This must be hard. You’ve been shot. You’re in pain. But I’m here, we’re in London. I know you know that really, you just have to focus on it until Lestrade and the cavalry arrive.”

He’s read about flashbacks because knowing how brains function under pressure is essential in his line of work. And he re-read particular books shortly after John moved in, telling himself that understanding ways of helping to deal with trauma was merely a matter of efficiency. He didn’t want to be slowed down while solving cases.

John jerks and moans and Sherlock’s chest constricts.

Talk to the sufferer and reassure them that their trauma is in the past, not the present. Nowhere had been assumed a similar, present trauma.

“I know you can hear me,” he says, to reaffirm it to himself. And then he carries on talking, reciting verses half-remembered, hoping that John can find the anchor of his voice and follow it back to him, follow it out of the deeper place he’s incarcerated in.

Nothing else for him to do.


A thread of words half-known and wholly out of place amongst the heat and the pain.

He follows it, focuses on it, and the dust of the desert recedes behind the words and the voice, beaten back because the truth is that the desert and the voice cannot coexist, and he knows this.

Knows which he wants to be real.

He follows the voice down into the darkness.

And up, up slowly, in silence now but with the memories of the voice which was real still whispering inside his head. An incentive, to find their source.

He opens his eyes.

Hospital. Unsurprising.

Sherlock is there, which is something else John is not in the least bit surprised to find. Crumpled into an uncomfortable-looking chair with his head balanced on his shoulder, asleep. The chair itself pushed as close to the bed as possible; as close to John as possible.

People are supposed to look more peaceful when they sleep. Sherlock doesn’t. His face is creased with all the worry and emotions which he usually keeps locked behind a mask of rigid self-control.

John struggles to sit up and discovers the pain as he does so, blossoming from his bandaged left shoulder. He tries to be quiet but Sherlock jolts into waking immediately.

“John?” His voice is hoarse and cracked. There are dressings wrapped around both of his wrists.

John swallows away the last of the dust in his throat. “I’m okay.”

“You were hurt,” Sherlock says, stating the obvious against his nature. It’s clearly painful for him to talk. John knows he won’t want commentary on it.

“Yeah, I know. I’m okay, though, really.”

Long moments are filled up by the quiet around them.

“Of course you are.” Sherlock sounds as if he’d never doubted.

John grins, knowing better, and knowing that Sherlock knows that. “Thank you,” he says, softly.

Sherlock says nothing, but he puts his hand over John’s, and that’s what counts.
Sometimes I wish I was a hippo: sherlock loves johndakfinv on February 4th, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! This is wonderful. I love the John angst and how Sherlock is trying desperately to help him while still being Sherlock. It's certainly made my February. :)
Frith: BBC Sherlock - Sherlock - violinfrith_in_thorns on February 17th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm really glad that you enjoyed it!
red_chapelred_chapel on February 4th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
Frith: Films - POTC - Sandbank shipfrith_in_thorns on February 17th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
eglantine_breglantine_br on February 4th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
I did not even know that I was waiting for that! Thanks, you!
Frith: Zundry - Star jarfrith_in_thorns on February 17th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad that you enjoyed this, thank you!
coldlikedeathcoldlikedeath on February 15th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
Oh, god, John. And Sherlock. Jesus. Awwwww.
Frith: Books - Discworld - Wordsfrith_in_thorns on February 17th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
I write too much angst ;) Thank you!
Disassembly of Reason: Sherlock shock blanketdisassembly_rsn on January 13th, 2012 06:45 am (UTC)
Re: And Not To Yield
My apologies for not commenting sooner. Good story.

Just being shot again would probably have put John near the edge of, or pushed him over into, a PTSD attack, but the rattling noises of the trains certainly wouldn't have helped. Very plausible triggers.

And he re-read particular books shortly after John moved in, telling himself that understanding ways of helping to deal with trauma was merely a matter of efficiency. He didn’t want to be slowed down while solving cases.

Very much in character. Of course he'd have a cold-blooded reason ready in case anybody asked. :)

It’s clearly painful for him to talk. John knows he won’t want commentary on it.

No, I imagine not. :)

- shouldn't even existyet (missing space between 'exist' and yet')
- Facts he’s award of (typo for 'aware')
Frith: White Collar - Neal - smile hatfrith_in_thorns on January 13th, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: And Not To Yield
Corrected the typos now, thank you :)

And thank you for such a great review! It's always lovely to get comments on old stories :) I'm really glad that the story worked for you (especially with the triggers coming across okay), and that you enjoyed it. Thanks again!