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Fic: A Selfish Apology

Title: A Selfish Apology
Author: Erin Giles
Rating: PG
Words: 1650
Characters: Sherlock, John, Sarah
A/N: Written for a prompt on sherlockbbc_fic. The prompt was 'John gets hit by a car'.
Summary: John's been hit by a car and Sherlock is looking to assign blame. But who is at fault? John? Sarah? The driver? Or Sherlock himself?


Sherlock still doesn’t know who reacted first. Whether it was the squeal of tires or Sarah’s scream that he heard first. When he thinks about it, it might even have been him because before he’s even reached the crumpled body of John lying under the tires of a car - shell-shocked driver still with a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel - he’s already got the phone pressed to his ear asking for an ambulance.

John looks like some kind of circus contortion act the way he’s laid on the road. A crowd is slowly gathering and Sarah has somehow made it back across the road without being run over herself. She looks terrified, and her hands hover over John’s still form like she doesn’t know where to start, what part of him needs her attention most. Sherlock’s got his fingers pressed to John’s neck, searching out a pulse. It’s the only first aid he really knows so he’s almost grateful that the ambulance response time is above the London average.

He doesn’t understand this overwhelming nauseous feeling that’s sitting uneasy in his stomach as he perches precariously on the edge of a waiting room seat. Sarah’s crying - a natural response to the situation, although entirely unnecessary. Tears are not going to fuse bones back together or stop the flow of blood from John’s wounds. He wants to tell her to shut up, because her sobs are ruining the quiet calm that Sherlock is trying desperately to cling onto but his mouth is dry and words get stuck on the way out.

He decides to analyze the evening’s events. Nothing in the waiting room holds interest to him now. He’s already diagnosed the six occupants, two of whom don’t even have anything wrong with them – this does not include he and the snivelling mess that Sarah is. He’s mildly grateful that she’s not trying to engage in conversation.

‘It’s my fault,’ she says. There’s a hiccup between the words and John would be making false reassurances to her but Sherlock will do nothing of the sort.

He doesn’t know where to assign blame. John for stepping out into moving traffic – something Sherlock has done on more than one occasion, but always made away unscathed. The driver for not breaking hard enough - soon enough - not looking out for idiot pedestrians that are preoccupied with what they deem more life and death matters. Sarah for walking out the restaurant and telling John he had to make a choice between her and Sherlock, that she wasn’t willing to share him. Which, frankly, made two of them. Or himself, for showing up in the middle of their date and demanding John help him unmask a smuggling ring two streets over in the Indian take-out.

He wants to dismiss himself as the guilty party, but the churning in his stomach won’t let him, which intrigues him somewhat. Rationally Sherlock had no part in the moment John stepped out into the traffic to try and cross the road to Sarah, but he set in motion a chain of events that lead to the horrible conclusion just by showing up at the restaurant.

‘John Watson?’

Coma. Closed head injury. Blood pooling in parts of his brain it shouldn’t be. Broken pelvis and ruptured spleen removed. Fractured wrist - left. Cuts and bruises. The only thing Sherlock sees when he’s eventually allowed into ITU to visit is the silver white scar where the bullet went in several months ago and the scalpel marks where it was removed.

It’s almost a week later when the guilt finally eases.

Mrs. Hudson says that it’s a terrible business and that Sherlock mustn’t blame himself, it was no ones fault. She keeps bringing in packets of biscuits for John like she’s expecting him to wake up half way through visiting time and have a sudden craving for tea and ginger nuts. Lestrade blames the driver for not looking, piles on so much judgement and facts about RTAs that Sherlock almost believes he has no part to play in this. Mycroft tells him rationally that it was just unfortunate circumstance that led to John’s accident. He stands at the foot of the bed, leaning on his umbrella making annoying and irrelevant observations about Sherlock’s lack of hygiene and sleep. Even Sarah finally admits begrudgingly that it’s not his fault. She doesn’t cry again, but there’s a tremble in her voice and her eyes keep flicking towards John.

‘I’m sorry.’ He’s been building up to it for days now as he stares unseeingly at the hospital blanket that has a thread pulled on it. John doesn’t say anything. Why should he? He’s still deeply unconscious, a tube breathing for him, a tube feeding him, a tube hydrating him, a tube emptying his bladder, a tube medicating him, a tube for every bodily function required of him that he can’t seem to manage on his own.

‘My reasons for apologising are entirely selfish, something I’ve no doubt you would be quick to point out if you were-‘ Sherlock looked up at John’s face just to make sure. He waited for two mechanical respirations before he continued. ‘But I can’t concentrate on my work because of this entirely unprecedented feeling of guilt, and it’s entirely your fault, John.’

Sherlock waits as if he’s expecting John to sit up and yell at him. He waits until long after the bell for the end of visiting hours has gone. A nurse eventually comes in to remove him but he falters when the beeps on the heart monitor increase exponentially. John’s Adam’s apple is bobbing up and down like a ship lost at sea and the nurse pushes past him to press the call button.

Sherlock stays pressed against the wall by the door trying to blend into the wallpaper. John’s fighting against the tube that’s been breathing for him. It’s a harrowing thing to watch, but Sherlock’s brain is trying to reassure his heart that this is a good thing. John’s fighting. Something that Sherlock has found John Watson does exceptionally well.

Somehow Sherlock is still stood there long after they’ve removed the tube and the emergency is over. The sound of John gagging has been replaced by a deep guttural cough.

‘Sherlock?’ The voice is painful, raspy sounding. John’s eyes aren’t quite open. Sherlock steps away from the wall and the one doctor that lingers gives him an encouraging smile. Sherlock doesn’t venture any closer than the end of the bed.

‘John,’ says Sherlock. He does something that he realises is entirely uncharacteristic but the guilt is still curling up in a nest in his stomach. He lays a hand on John’s ankle covered by blankets, squeezing to let John know he’s there.


‘I can call her,’ Sherlock says, his stomach lurching, the ringing of Sarah’s scream in his ears telling John to choose. John doesn’t say anything and Sherlock thinks he’s maybe asleep again, but John’s foot twitches beneath his hand.


‘John.’ Head trauma, bound to be short-term memory loss, but the fact that it’s Sherlock’s name he keeps repeating like an endless litany relieves the guilt somewhat. Both of his hands are clutching at John’s feet now and the Doctor is explaining what Sherlock already knows. Sherlock nods, letting the words wash over him as his eyes lock with John’s, hazy with pain, confusion and a drug induced high.

‘I’m sorry,’ Sherlock repeats from earlier, as if somehow hoping for John’s forgiveness on the matter. John's doctor is conversing with a nurse about another patient. John frowns, his eyes closed, but he doesn’t say anything. Not then, or when he gains full coherency again and Sherlock doesn’t bother repeating his apology.

Several months later, when they’re in the middle of an investigation and John’s limp is no longer psychosomatic, they’re walking briskly down Baker St. They’re arguing about Sherlock’s lack of manners regarding their landlady – and lack of care when it comes to fire hazards - when John suddenly brings up that day again.

‘I see no reason to apologise,’ Sherlock says.

‘How about common courtesy, admitting that you’re in the wrong.’

‘But I’m not.’

‘Sherlock, will you please just apologise to Mrs. Hudson. I know you’re capable of it. I also know you’re capable of remorse.’

‘I see no point in being remorseful for something that is beneficial to the case in the long run and not something I could have any bearing on.’

‘You apologised when I got run over,’ John says. Sherlock doesn’t say anything but stops on the corner of the street and pretends to be looking for something.

‘Sherlock, did you-‘

‘Yes, yes, I heard you perfectly, John,’ Sherlock says.

‘Why did you apologise for something that wasn’t your fault?’

Sherlock doesn’t say anything at first, just takes off at a very fast pace so John struggles to keep up. At the next corner Sherlock stops and turns back.

‘Because I felt guilty,’ he barks. ‘I turned up, demanded you come with me, Sarah got annoyed and left the restaurant, you followed her out and straight into oncoming traffic. Whichever way you reasonably put it I was at fault as much as you or Sarah or the driver of the car.’

‘I-‘ John starts, closes his mouth again because he doesn’t really know what to say.

‘It’s not important anymore,’ Sherlock says rather brusquely and waves down a cab. They’re halfway to Barts when John finally speaks again.

‘Sarah never asked me to choose again after that night,’ John says, looking out the window at the passing cityscape. ‘But I made a choice.’

Sherlock looks round at John staring out the window and Sherlock can see him smiling in the reflection.

The next time Sherlock interrupts a date John follows him out the door with a sigh and an apology that neither Sarah nor Sherlock believe.


( 10 have written — Write to me )
Nov. 14th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
We finally got the series!
And it's brilliant--and this is even more brilliant! I'm so pleased you've turned your pen to this fandom. Excellent Sherlock characterization! I admit, I'm terrified of even trying to wrap my words around his mind *L* But you nailed it!

Looking forward to more!
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
Re: We finally got the series!
Hehe. Thank you. I've always loved the books since I was a kid, but I couldn't help but borrow Mr. Moffat & Mr. Gatiss' incarnation of these wonderful characters. Sherlock is really hard to write - it makes my brain hurt trying to do it for extended periods. ;P

I've already written a couple more here. ;)
Nov. 14th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Woman you should come with a warninf labels for new fandoms :P

But at least you always put them back togehter again when your done with them.

Great story.
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
I really should, shouldn't I? Erin Giles: breaking your fandom one character at a time?

Hehe. Glad you liked this, hun. :)
Nov. 14th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
oh this is fantastic, so well written andd perfectly plotted.
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed this.
Nov. 14th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Lovely, I do like a bit of bromance.
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks, glad you liked this. :)
Feb. 21st, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
I like, very good. :)
Sep. 14th, 2012 05:36 am (UTC)
I just found your stories, I love John/Sherlock and this story was really poignant. Sherlock cares about John more than he cares to admit and John definitely knows who is his priority.
Thanks for sharing
( 10 have written — Write to me )

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