i was meant to be doing work. and then Sherlock ate my brain.
Sherlock/John, 1556 words
A chase through half of London's West End. Business as usual for them – Sherlock's long legs carrying him easily across roofs and over balconies, him lagging behind as usual, the phantom not-really-there pain of his leg nagging at him enough to make his gait unsteady, even now.
A chase in pursuit of a criminal – again, business as usual. Using some kind of martial art discipline that Sherlock would probably be able to narrow down to the school and the teacher if asked – or not. John had adapted to just being Yorick's skull when the chattering mood struck the consulting detective.
The psychosomatic limp had damaged him worse than the cause. Still, he lumbered along, slow and steady in the wake of Sherlock's parkour. His therapist would probably kill him if she realised that the reason for the limp disappearing was that he had decided to run across London at all times of the night.
He followed Sherlock down a flight of steps, watched as he friend – colleague – leapt down easily onto a lower street and kept running. He eyed the drop. A set of railings with the fleur-de-lis on top ran the length of the bottom street, inviting him to fall on them with their pretentious black spikes.
Sherlock had heard him stop – of course he did – and twirled on his heel, colourless eyes sparkling with the thrill of the hunt, and he pretended that the look didn't do odd things to his insides. 'The game's afoot John! No lagging!' Did he have to sound that excited about following a possible serial murderer through dark alleyways?
John jumped down.
He felt his leg catch slightly and he was hurled to the floor, the catching-tearing-sweet Jesus how can anything hurt that much pain of it leaving him heaving for breath like a man drowning. He hissed through his teeth. He thought he was past the pain his brain faked for him.
He dragged himself to his feet, and ignoring the nagging sensation that all isn't well, and runs after Sherlock's dark form.
Four hours and two serial killers caught – not bad, nothing particularly remarkable but he accepts the compliments with his usual good grace (never mind John muttering about smugness and bad manners and get over yourself behind him) and they take the short walk home from the corner of Cavendish Square. They're at the black door when he realises that something is off. He, Sherlock Holmes, is only reliant of instinct as an extension of logic. It's less reliable and predictable, but he would have to be an idiot to ignore it. So he muses over the feeling, analyses the situation. Nothing wrong with him certainly. The house? No, no signs of entry, apart from Mrs Hudson's milk collected from outside the door, is it that late/early already? John then?
John has been quiet the entire walk back. Nothing extraordinary there. He closes the door behind him and absently leads the way up the stairs, leaves John in the living room and makes his way up to his room. He stands there and listens.
He hadn't noticed the sound – he filtered extraneous noise out, it would be detrimental to his mental health to listen to every inanity in the world, unless he wanted to. John's breathing is a little heavier than usual – nothing unusual, for someone not used to running across London.
Then he catches it. The limp. Not the usual twisted, awkward limp, subconsciously acted, being played out on a stage John has no control over. The one that sounded like a bird with its wings cut off, dragging itself across the ground.
The foot falls heavier, but the step is quicker. As if the limper doesn't know he's been...
He bursts back into the room in record time 4.6 seconds. 'John!'
There. Startled, John turns and his left leg staggers, making him shift his stance to compensate for the automatic reaction to recoil from pain.
But John just blinks at him, lashes sweeping low in a gesture that could be considered coy if it wasn't so exhausted. 'Sherlock?'
John shifts, deliberately this time. Shoulders edging up, weary defiance crawling its way back into his expression. Indignant, sensitive subject. Not the correct subject, this time.
'Psychosomatic, Sherlock. I can't help it sometimes.'
'Not this time.' His voice is tight, restraining something. Why is he panicking? There is nothing to panic about. John follows his gaze, watching the blood stain its way through the weave of his jeans at his thigh.
He pushes John against the wall, feeling the slide of muscle and the slight scar tissue under one of his hands, and ignores the hiss of an intaken breath as the good doctor's brain finally decides to inform him that he's bleeding and probably should be in pain. He crouches, rummaging in his pocket while he eyes the injury. The bleeding has stopped and started again at least three times, most likely from the scab being torn open repeatedly during the chase – denim 1878, wide leg, these are around two years old judging from the scuff marks was not a kind material.
So John won't mind too much. He draws his pocket knife – a ridiculously expensive gadget from Myroft. Handy all the same. He presses a hand against the inside of John's thigh, feels the muscle twitch under his fingers. And takes care in slicing through the fabric now an odd blue-red oxygen imparts a strong red colour to the heme group. John has been bleeding for the last few hours and he didn't notice.
'Sherlock!' Ah, apparently he did mind. Slight miscalculation. He finished cutting through the jeans, pulling the half-wet, half-stiff fabric away until he can see the long slice making its way across his Vastus Lateralis muscle. What if he got an infection? Tetanus? Sepsis?
Ridiculous. 'It's not deep.'
'I could have told you that.' Humour. Worry? Who for? 'Sherlock?'
There again. That edge of amusement and concern. Like someone with an easily offended squalling child.
Sterner. 'Sherlock.' He needs to tell John to stop taking that tone. It makes him sound a little like Mycroft and he doesn't need his friend-colleague-John to sound like his brother. He looks up from where he is crouched anyway. John frowns at him a little, brows drawing down to crease his forehead and his eyes suddenly focusing.
Trust John Watson to be John Watson. Steady and blunt and inquisitive and suddenly sharp as a knife – and he keeps them very sharp in this house. One never knows when unpleasant visitors will appear.
A small smile, a sudden look of I'm onto your game, Holmes. Because he just might be. Sherlock Holmes has played his hand carelessly. He's crouched between John's legs with a piece of torn denim in his hands and red stains John's blood and why is he panicking the doctor is very obviously not dead decorating his fingers like one of his botched very definitely on purpose experiments. And suddenly having his easily damaged face next to one of John's bony knees doesn't seem like a very good idea anymore.
But he doesn't move the hand with fingers splayed on the inside of his friend's-colleague's-whatever they are's leg. And John doesn't stop looking like he's just solved a crime all on his own. Which isn't helping.
He gets the vague idea of what he should be doing – getting up and moving away, possibly doing something domestic and inane like making tea, all to get John from looking at him like his mind is written over his skin it's not, I'm meant to be better at smoke-screening than this when John grabs his lapels and hauls him up to kiss him like all of history is watching.
He doesn't make a habit of kissing people – it requires close personal contact, for a start. But he feels that something is off, like the doctor is waiting for something until he pulls John up a little more by his waist, bends his neck a little. And he finds his arms full of John, flush and alive and pumping with blood around 60 beats per minute, ten pints of blood and some of it on his fingers and on the streets of London.
He realises he's leaving stains on John's new shirt, red spirals in the shape of whorl and arch ridges. He likes it – marks individual to him on John. He thinks he might forget to tell John they're there.
John presses closer and harder, crowding his space with bone and scars and a feeling of finally and Sherlock stops thinking, at least for a little while.
(Black railing, as evidenced by the small traces of chipped black paint, angle of the cut indicates the spike widens at the bottom. From the course of our run, the fleur-de-lis between Queen Anne and Harley street.)
I shall have to leave it a thank-you note.