The pond ought to have been picturesque in the late afternoon sunlight that streamed through the nearby trees. However, the bedraggled, John-shaped lump on its far side rather marred the image. Ford slipped between worlds to reappear at John's side. By corporeal necessity, Sherlock and Toby took the long way round.
"John?" Ford tried to shake John by the shoulder. It was a good thing he wasn't tangible because he unwittingly chose John's scarred and now reinjured left shoulder. "John, wake up!"
John's eyes opened to a squint as Sherlock and Toby reached him. Sherlock knelt in the dirt and clay, heedless of the effect it would have on his trousers. "John? John, wake up," he unknowingly echoed his brother's ghost. "Can you hear me?"
John blinked painfully against bright sunshine that poured into his eyes at precisely the least pleasant angle. "Yeah. Yeah," he mumbled.
Toby whuffled and snuffled at John's hair.
"You said you were okay," Ford accused, worry making him angry.
"Thought--" John accepted Sherlock's help to sit up and leaned against the taller man. "Thought. I was."
"You thought you were what, John?" Sherlock ran his hands over John's torso and his eyes over the surrounding terrain, searching for injuries and clues, respectively.
John's monosyllabic replies were worrying. Sherlock frowned and used his free hand to turn John's face to him. He looked into eyes narrowed against the sunlight, put himself between those eyes and that light, moved away again. Pupils reactive. One slower than the other. Concussion. "John, your patient appears to have concussion. What are your recommendations?" He knew what to do, but that was exactly why he asked John. Keep him awake. Keep him talking. Keep him focused. John confirmed as much, haltingly.
Ford got in John's face, causing John to start in surprise. Sherlock's solid presence kept him from overbalancing back into the dirt. "Why's he talking like that? All disjointed and stuff?"
"Concussion," answered John, blinking and squinting.
"Yes, John, we've established that," said Sherlock, unaware of the exchange with the ghost. "What other injuries have you detected?"
Focusing was difficult, finding words was more so. John had hit his head a great deal harder than he originally thought. His chilly bath had done nothing to aid the situation. He was no longer so cold or wet after his little afternoon nap in the sunshine and dirt, but that was the best that could be said of things. "Ankle sprained. Badly."
Sherlock wished he could trust John to stay upright on his own so that he could undo John's shoe and get a better look at the ankle. It simply wasn't feasible. "Anything else?"
The same one injured in Afghanistan. Damn it! Sherlock frowned deeply. "Severity?"
John started to shake his head and then opted against it. "Minor. Hurts though."
"Stop asking stupid questions!" Ford snapped, practically vibrating with frustrated impotence. He paced halfway round the two men and back repeatedly, causing Toby to turn in place as the dog watched him. "Where's the ambulance? Why haven't you called an ambulance?"
"Mobile. Dead," John muttered, answering the boy.
Sherlock replied. "I presumed or you'd have phoned. I'm calling the house." He pulled his own mobile from his pocket and dialled.
"The house!" exclaimed Ford, stopping to stamp his feet. He resumed his parabolic pacing as he ranted. "What good is that? You are so stupid I don't know how you feed and dress yourself, I don't! You useless numpty!"
"Stop shouting. Please," moaned John. "Head's. Killing me."
"I'm not shouting, John," said Sherlock, although he lowered his voice to say it.
"And pacing. Stop. Pacing. Making me. Dizzy."
Ford stopped moving and looked contrite. "Sorry, John."
Sherlock's frown deepened. "All right, John. I'll stop pacing." Never mind that he was going nowhere, propping John up as he was. John's words suggested hallucinations or possibly an inner ear imbalance severe enough to cause dizziness even while seated. "But I have to speak. I'll keep it quiet, though. All right?" He spoke into the phone in a low voice, giving a series of orders regarding ambulances and discretion. Mummy must be made aware of the reason for his and John's absence, but the guests needed no such enlightenment.
"Sorry. 'Bout this." John's voice was as pained and apologetic as the words themselves.
"It's not your fault, John. You slipped and fell."
"Stupid rock," agreed John. "Where's--?" He looked around carefully.
"Toby's right there." Indeed he was, seated in the grass at the top of the rise. Ford sat next to him, one transparent arm wrapped around the dog's shoulders for comfort. John could see both, although Sherlock was still unaware of the ghost's presence and wouldn't have believed it anyway. "He found me at the house and provided all the clues I needed, and he brought me to you."
John gave a pained smile and a nod to dog and ghost alike. He knew Ford had had a hand in his rescue, even if Sherlock didn't. So it was Sherrinford he looked at when he spoke. "Good boy."
"Sorry I wasn't faster, John," the boy said in a small voice. "Sorry I brought you here at all. I oughtn't to have."
"It's. All right."
"No, it's not," insisted Ford.
"Yes, John," said Sherlock at the same time. "Everything will be all right. Are you still feeling dizzy?"
That was a good sign. "Cold?"
"Just. My feet." His trousers clung damply to his calves. His socks were soggy, and his shoes were leaden lumps of wet. Having been stuck longer in the pond than most of him, there'd not been nearly enough time for them to dry out.
Sherlock nodded, relieved. It was a warm afternoon; chills would have indicated shock and he had nothing to warm John but his own body. (This was not the time of year he went about in his big wool coat.) The cold of John's sodden shoe might even have the benefit of keeping the swelling down in his ankle. There was no way to be certain without proper examination, which would have to wait for the ambulance.
As if the thought had summoned them, voices called out and were immediately followed by the appearance of two equipment-baring EMTs.
"Finally!" Ford leapt to his ghostly feet, and Toby stood, too, and barked.
"Sir, please restrain your dog," said the older of the two women. "We'll take it from here." She was professional and firm and she deftly manoeuvred Sherlock from his place behind John.
"I'll be. Fine," John assured him as the women set to work.
Sherlock stood back and called Toby to heel. The dog trotted over and leaned against his ankle.
Ford came to stand on the other side of the dog, needing the comfort and reassurance of proximity.
"He'll be all right," Sherlock said softly to himself, to the dog, to the air.
"You swear it?" asked Ford even though he knew he would not be heard.
"Yes. He'll be fine."