John knew it was bad news before the doctor even started to speak. He could feel it in his body, the waves of dizziness, the seconds and minutes blending together with pain and confusion. The hallucinations–faint whispers of memories and flashes of Afghanistan, the times before and after. It seemed cliche his life was flashing before his eyes, but he did know he had a little more time, and was grateful it wasn’t sudden.
Sherlock was beside him, holding his hand tightly and looking at the doctor as she spoke. John caught her words, but didn’t register them right away. Sherlock looked alarmingly at John, his brows furrowing in a slight way, silently pleading for him to react.
“He likely won’t make it during surgery,” the doctor had said.
John focused on Sherlock and swallowed tightly as he took in Sherlock’s distressed look. His partner’s eyes were glistening, his jaw was clenched, and his expression was hard yet…helpless.
“So…” John started weakly. “You don’t operate, I’ll die. But if you do operate, I may die.” Sherlock stiffened beside him and the doctor nodded.
John sighed. “Not entirely bad,” he muttered. He looked at Sherlock, who was now looking at the floor. John squeezed his hand, bringing his attention back. Sherlock was clearly having trouble keeping it together as he met John’s eyes.
John let out a deep breath. “I think I want the surgery.”
Sherlock looked at the doctor, his lip trembling slightly. “If he doesn’t, how long does he have…?”
The doctor remained calm as she spoke. “It is hard to say, but it’s likely he won’t make it by the morning.”
Eight hours then, John thought. Sherlock looked back at him, and then slowly nodded.
John looked at the doctor. “How long can I–” he started, but pain shot through his body and he let out a groan. Sherlock held his hand even tighter and rubbed it soothingly. John let out a shaky breath and then tried again. “How long can I wait before I need to have surgery.”
“An hour at the most,” the doctor provided. “If you want the surgery, it’s best we start as soon as possible.”
John nodded and then looked at Sherlock.
“Yes, John?” Sherlock’s voice was shaky and quiet. John didn’t like it one bit.
“I need you to do something, only if you want to. I’ll understand if you don’t…” John trailed off, suddenly getting choked up. Sherlock leaned closer and looked into his eyes.
“I’ll do anything, John.”
John looked at him through blurry eyes. “Marry me,” he whispered.
Sherlock’s eyes widened and he let go of John’s hand. John’s face fell and his throat tightened.
“John…” Sherlock trailed off and he blinked rapidly. John was too tired to retract his offer, and he even didn’t want to. He waited as Sherlock collected himself. Sherlock wiped his face and looked at John.
“You can…” he trailed off as he voice shook. He eyes were glistening much more and John was having difficulty keeping his own emotions at bay.
Finally, Sherlock nodded and retook John’s hand. “Ok. Yes, John, I will.”
John relaxed and smiled weakly. The doctor smiled sympathetically and left as she spoke over her shoulder. “I’ll get an officiant.”
Not much time passed before she came back, leading a man behind her. John had forced himself to stay awake, and managed to keep his pain in the back of his head. He wasn’t in much pain anymore, which probably wasn’t a good sign.
The officiant stood by Sherlock, and held a few papers.
“Ready to get started?” he asked with a sympathetic smile.
John nodded and reached for the bed remote. The doctor went over and adjusted it slightly. John grimaced as it moved a couple of inches, and then inhaled deeply, urging himself to stay focused.
“Shall we keep it short and simple, straight to the point?” the officiant asked gently.
“Please,” John managed to say.
Sherlock had remained silent, and now was more attentive, however continued to blink rapidly and keep his face hardened as he took John hands into his own and met his gaze.
“John Watson,” the officiant began. “Do you take Sherlock Holmes to be your husband? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish, and trust him in sickness and in health, in adversity and prosperity, and to be true and loyal to him so long as you both shall live?”
John blinked as his eyes watered. He was relieved the officiant treated this as a normal situation, and disregarded the high chance that he probably wasn’t going to live much longer. John met Sherlock’s eyes, and smiled. “I do,” John said steadily. Sherlock’s eyes flickered and his face softened. John let out a shaky sigh and squeezed their hands.
“Do you, Sherlock Holmes, take John Watson to be your husband? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish, and trust him in sickness and in health, in adversity and prosperity, and to be true and loyal to him so long as you both shall live?”
“I do,” Sherlock said. He blinked and a couple of tears leaked out the corner of his eyes. “Always,” he added in a whisper. John blinked slowly and grinned.
“Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as the two of you have agreed to live together in Matrimony, have promised your love for each other, I now declare you husbands. Congratulations.”
John’s smiled wide and Sherlock immediately kissed him. John kissed him back as much as he could, and broke apart by resting his forehead against his. Sherlock sighed shakily. He quickly reached to the table and signed the paper the officiant had brought, and then held it to John. John sighed it as best he could, and then the officiant took it with a sad smile, and left with the doctor.
“We’re married,” John whispered. Sherlock exhaled shakily and nodded.
“John…” his voice broke and he leaned forward, burying his face against John’s shoulder and neck. John weakly wrapped his arm around his back and kissed his head.
“I love you,” John whispered.
Sherlock shuddered and leaned into him closer. “Please, try to–”
“I will, Sherlock. I’m glad we did this…”
Sherlock pulled away and nodded. “I need you to live. So we can…”
Sherlock leaned away and met John’s eyes. Sherlock face was blurry and John knew he was about lose conscience soon. He raised his hand and trailed it across Sherlock’s cheekbone.
“I’ll…” John trailed off as his hand limply fell to his side, and then everything slowly went black.