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Sherlock Fanfic: The Fire (JWP 2015 #16) - CaffieneKittySpace
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Sherlock Fanfic: The Fire (JWP 2015 #16)
Title: The Fire
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Alternate Postings: AO3
Rating/Content: PG13, fire, multiple POV, post-Mary, unrealistic crisis decision-making for the sake of BAMF John, 221B whump, John whump, bad fire safety, bad firefighting, bad first aid, DO NOT TRY ANY OF THIS AT HOME DEAR GOD
Warnings: none
Word Count:2420
Disclaimer: Not my world.
Notes: Written for watsons_woes July Writing Prompt #16: Picture Prompt: Ablaze. According to AO3, this is my 100th Sherlock story posted so *blows party horns* It hurt me to write this. Please forgive me, 221B. D-:

Summary: When John wakes up, his room is full of smoke.

The Fire

John was in the bonfire again but something was different. The smell of accelerant, the choking smoke stinging his eyes, the paralysis he fought against, that was all the same, but this time there was no sound. No crowd, no Sherlock or Mary (no Mary, oh Mary) screaming his name, just him alone in fire. He fought to move, rolling, coughing, and woke when he hit the floor beside his bed.

A dream. But the smoke had followed him.

For a moment he rolled into another dream; incoming artillery fire at a forward operating base in Helmand province (half-awake, running for the unfortified field hospital, move the patients, get them out, get them safe) but he coughed and choked his way back to consciousness. Get them out, get them safe.

Sherlock. Mrs Hudson.

Adrenaline rushed through him and he gasped, choking on the acrid smoke. In the faint light from the window, he could see the smoke swirling above him, and now he could clearly hear the roar and crackle downstairs. He stayed low and crawled to the door of his upstairs room, Call 999, bloody phone's on the charger in the sitting room, felt the door and found it only warm. He reached up, opened it and scrambled down the stairs.

Why isn't the bloody smoke alarm- Sherlock and his ash experiments, he took the battery out. Explains why it didn't go off last week for my accidental risotto flambe. Idiot! If Sherlock's burnt the flat down- but if Sherlock had started a fire that had got out of hand, he would have shouted for John or he would have dealt with it, so either this fire was not caused by Sherlock, or- Sherlock couldn't shout for help. The thought rolled sickly in his head.

At the bottom of the stairs John stayed low, trying to catch a breath. The doorway to the sitting room was a view into Hell. Fire roared, engulfing the half the room nearest the windows with yellow-red flames and thick black smoke. One of the windows was broken; a wind fed the greedy red beast, pushing the black smoke out of the room and up the stairs to John's bedroom. The broken window and the scent of kerosene tickled something in John's memory but he was coughing too hard to catch it.

John gathered enough breath to shout: "Sherlock! Mrs Hudson!" then lapsed into coughing. He got to his feet, crouching low, and closed the sitting room door, hoping to slow the fire's progress through the flat, not even letting himself think that Sherlock might be in that room. If he was in that room and not yelling for help, he was dead. There was nothing John could do about that right now. Deal with it later. Check other places for Sherlock first, then if he's not in those, come back-

Deal with it later.

Turning to the kitchen, John had a twitch of relief the fire hadn't gotten there yet. All the chemicals, the room would go up like a bomb. The sliding doors to the sitting room were open, that would need dealt with quickly. But no Sherlock in the kitchen. John glanced over at the kitchen fire extinguisher and didn't bother trying to use it, running with his head low through the kitchen and down the hall toward Sherlock's door. "Sherlock!"

Please god, be in here, please god be alive.

John burst into Sherlock's room to see his flatmate blinking muzzily, half sat up in his bed, coughing hard. "I- John?"

Doesn't sleep much but when he does he sleeps like the dead. John shivered and pushed the thought away. "Flat's on fire!" Coughing himself, John made an immediate turn and flung open the bathroom door. "Don't know where Mrs Hudson is! We all need to get out!"

Sherlock reacted quickly, launching out of bed as John dove into the bathroom. Grabbing the towels from the rack in the bathroom, John ran them under the taps, hearing Sherlock coughing in the bedroom behind him. As he ran the tap something clicked about the fire. Christ. Bad to worse.

"Here," he pushed two wet towels at Sherlock. "Mouth and nose. Get Mrs Hudson, get her out the back of her flat, stay with her. Call 999."

"You too," Sherlock coughed, wrapping one of the towels around his face.

John wrapped a towel around his own face, feeling relief at the limited filtering and cooling it provided to the too-warm smoky air. "Have to keep your chemicals from going up, close the kitchen doors or something."

Sherlock's eyes went wide above the towel as John crouched low and turned to get back to the kitchen. "I'll get Mrs Hudson out and come back-"

"No!" John snapped, the familiar solace of command entering his voice, pointing into the sitting room. "Broken window and kerosene. It's a fire-bomb. That case last month?"

"The last of the extremist cell." Sherlock's breath came faster through the towel. "Thrown in through the window. They'll be waiting outside to shoot anyone who comes out."

John nodded. "Get her out, don't be seen, and don't leave her out there alone! Call 999! I'll deal with this." He picked up a pair of oven mitts, not having any time to feel ridiculous for it.

Sherlock nodded back and tore down the stairs to Mrs Hudson's, shouting her name.

Pushing the chemical-laden table as far from the sitting room as he could first, John went to the kitchen's sliding doors - face first into the heat of the fire - and pulled on one side with oven-mitted hands.

The door stuck.

Heat, warping the wood? John coughed underneath his rapidly drying towel mask and pulled again, mitts slipping off the small handholds. Growling with frustration he pulled one off and gripped the fire-heated handle, sucking air through his teeth under the towel at the sting of hot metal.

Downstairs he heard Mrs Hudson's treble distress and Sherlock's baritone directions. Smoke goes up. We'll have got the worst of it. She'll be okay, John thought in relief.

The door finally slid partway across with a shriek and a tinkling clatter. John's heart dropped; the heat had already shattered the glass panels in the door. It would be useless as a fire-break.

John spun to look at the chemical-compound-laden table and spotted - just at the first glance - two that would explode if they got too hot, and three that would create caustic gasses that could spread through the street if they caught fire, along with well over a dozen unknowns. Smoke stung John's eyes, obscuring the labels. The combination of the lot didn't bear thinking about.

I could shove it all into the fridge! Fine for what was on the table but what about anything else Sherlock had hidden in the cupboards? Where did he keep the tank for his blowtorch? Did he still have that possibly-a-dud mortar round under the sink he mentioned last fall? Sod it. Flood the kitchen. More possible, but still not enough.

Behind John, the heat of the fire beat at his back, and a cinder stung his ear. He heard a door slam below. Sherlock had got Mrs Hudson out, but John didn't hear any sirens yet. The air coming through his now dry mask held the choking taste of unfiltered smoke.

Only one thing for it. John took as deep a breath as he could before removing and rewetting his towel-mask at the kitchen sink. The warmth of the water coming from the cold tap didn't bear thinking about either. He wrapped the wet towel around his face, and this time also over his hair, then put the kettle under the tap and let it run.

Snatching the small fire extinguisher from behind the microwave, John had a flash of thought of grabbing the box of bicarbonate lurking in the fridge to fight the fire but dismissed the idea with an adrenaline-fueled giggle. I'd never find it in there. He turned back to the sink, grabbed the full kettle, then pushed the tap over so it was pouring water full force down the backsplash. Water spilled over the worktop and across the floor.

Right then. Fire extinguisher in one hand, kettle in the other, John waded into Hell.


Sherlock had led Mrs Hudson out the back and down the alley while calling 999, then kept her hidden in the shadows at the end of the row of buildings, watching the street opposite and texting the location and descriptions of the prodigal extremists before the first fire truck had arrived.

"Everything's going to be alright, Mrs Hudson," he rasped, keeping an arm wrapped around her as they stayed out of sight. Mrs Hudson clung to Sherlock as they waited for John. As the time stretched, Sherlock itched to go back inside and drag John out, whatever condition he was in.

Fire trucks, police cars and an ambulance filled Baker Street quickly; firefighters attacked the building with water. Officers shoved the two men Sherlock had spotted - now sporting bruises they hadn't had when Sherlock sent the text - into a police van, and carried the men's rifles away for processing into evidence.

Sherlock's phone queeped with a text.

I do apologize for the lapse in security; someone will be severely reprimanded. Let me know what assistance you require. - M

Sherlock didn't bother to respond. I require John. With a reassuring squeeze, Sherlock guided Mrs Hudson over to a squad car and left her with a young constable. He then ran into the street to accost the firefighters.

"Have you found him?" he demanded of the first he met, wheezing and coughing after even the short run, lungs still clogged from the smoke.

"Mate, your flatmate's an idiot," the woman by the firetruck shouted over the engine noise.

Sherlock bristled, but kept silent except for coughing.

"He is the main reason the building's still standing, though. Acted as a one man fire-break 'til we got here. They're bringing him out now." She adjusted a pressure knob on the side of the engine. "What are you doing in there with all those bloody chemicals in your flat anyway?"

Two firemen helped a small figure with a blackened towel around his shoulders and a fireman's breath-mask on his face out of the building. Still on his feet, but not fully under his own power. Sherlock ignored the question he'd been asked and intersected the group's trajectory at the back of the ambulance.

"John! Are you alright!" Sherlock pushed between the firefighters to examine John as they sat him down in the ambulance doorway. Scorched hands and arms, laboured breathing, eyes reddened, coughing-

"Sir, back away." An ambulance attendant pushed Sherlock aside firmly. "We need to help the patient."

Without a word of complaint Sherlock stepped back and let the paramedics work. "John, are you alright?" he croaked.

Wheezing, John held up a soot-blackened thumb. "Mfs Humdsn?" He mumbled through the breathing mask between deep coughs.

The ambulance attendant looked over at Sherlock who pointed to where the young constable was draping an orange blanket over Mrs Hudson's nightdress-clad shoulders. "Sam, go check on the old lady with the constable."

One of the ambulance crew grabbed a carry-case and trotted over to Mrs Hudson. She'd gotten very little smoke in her flat and her cough had cleared up long before the fire crews arrived, so Sherlock was sure she'd be alright. "The perpetrators have been captured," Sherlock said to John adding, not drawn and quartered as they should be, in his own mind. He fought the urge to cough but coughed regardless.

John nodded and raised his thumb again, brow furrowed.

"We're going to switch you to the ambulance O2 now, sir," the attendant said, overly loud, before reaching for the breath mask.

John patted the arm of the attendant as she raised the mask, and pointed at Sherlock. "Him too-" he strangled out before being caught in a paroxysm of coughing. Sherlock took an involuntary step forward, hand reaching out to try to do something.

"Try not to talk, sir! Just breathe. We'll get to him, but we've got to get you set up first."

John pinned Sherlock with a baleful red eye, then nodded again, slower, eyes closing.

As the paramedics swapped the bulky breath-mask for a more familiar medical oxygen mask and began cleaning and assessing John's wounds, Sherlock stood by and fidgeted, watching. John's forehead and the area around his eyes were blackened with soot, but his mouth and nose area were reddened and clear of damage. His hair wasn't singed; Sherlock mentally traced the edge of the soot line over John's brow. Towel over the head too. His pyjamas were burned through in spots, particularly his arms, sticking to his skin.

The paramedics blocked Sherlock's view and he stepped back further to allow them space, looking over at the flat. Hoses snaked into the building, and fire fighters outside were still spraying the front and in through the windows. Smoke stained the brick above the windows, and both windows were broken now; steam came out and nothing more. In the early light of dawn the windows were dark caverns. No sign of the curtains on either side remained.

Sherlock was not processing the physical contents of the flat that were lost, not now, only reassuring himself that the most important parts were saved. He glanced over at Mrs Hudson, then back to John.

John was lying on the gurney inside the ambulance, head held laboriously up, watching Sherlock. The attendant cleaned off one of John's less damaged fingers and clipped a pulse oximeter to it. "You're doing far better than you could have been, but we'll be taking you to hospital." She glanced over at Sherlock's residual coughing. "You too."

John nodded, then laid his head back on the gurney and closed his eyes. Sherlock felt the heaviness in his own lungs and wasn't at all inclined to fight being pulled into the ambulance to sit next to John. The paramedic sat him on the bench alongside the gurney and hooked him up to an oxygen mask. The faint swimming feeling in his head he hadn't quite been aware of until it eased began to dissipate under the influx of oxygen.

"Is there anything I can do, John?" Sherlock asked, muffled through the mask.

John opened one eye and raised the mask slightly, breathing and speaking in slow gasps. "Put the batteries back. In the bloody smoke detector. When you've pissed off. Fire-bombers. Who aren't in jail. You bloody wanker."

Sherlock smiled tightly and nodded, resting his hand on top of John's unburned hair as the ambulance doors closed.

(that's it)

Notes: Mycroft will make the flat look like nothing ever happened. And Sherlock's violin was luckily out at the violin shop getting restrung or something because that's just a step too damned far.

Tags: , , ,
Current Location: Morning, apparently.
Current Mood: guilty guilty
Current Music: "Die Another Day" ~ Madonna

8 comments or Leave a comment
borgmama1of5 From: borgmama1of5 Date: July 18th, 2015 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have only watched a tiny bit of Cumberbatch's Sherlock (and seen the Robert Downey movies) so not really into this fandom, but your stories are so engaging--and in this case, heart-pounding--that I'm reading them all anyway!
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: July 20th, 2015 07:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm quite flattered you're enjoying them despite not being familiar with the source material!
gardnerhill From: gardnerhill Date: July 18th, 2015 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
A thrilling story, and a real nail-biter! Good old John.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: July 20th, 2015 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
John won't let a chance to be a badass and save a neighbourhood go by easily.
methylviolet10b From: methylviolet10b Date: July 18th, 2015 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, well done! (But you barbequed the flat!!!!) Your characters were all very IC, and I can just see John acting the way you have portrayed.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: July 20th, 2015 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
(But you barbequed the flat!!!!)

I know! I still feel horrible about that, especially after the treatment the flat got from Magnussen in HLV. D-:

rojo3131 From: rojo3131 Date: July 20th, 2015 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I am so glad no one was gravely hurt and hurray for John, being such a hero! And Sherlock has to make sure that doesn't happen again!
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: July 20th, 2015 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Sherlock will never let his fire safety lapse again.
8 comments or Leave a comment