The gun stuttered, two shots back-to-back. John reacted instantly by knocking Sherlock to the ground and holding him there, a hand fisted in his hair to keep him from popping his head up to look. Their cover was laughable at best - a low decorative wall, barely high enough to block the goon's view of John's back as he lay half-sprawled on top of his flatmate. He wished desperately for his gun.

"Sorry," Sherlock mumbled with his face pressed into the cement walkway. "Didn't think you'd need it."

John didn't bother answering, just concentrated on breathing himself into that zen calm that sometimes helped in battle. Like now. The thug was yelling, unintelligible threats from the other side of the parking lot, but John didn't waste any brainpower listening. More important to check out escape routes - nothing completely free of sight lines, but depending on where they wanted to go -

Another bang, this time accompanied by a sharp jolt as Sherlock stiffened under him. John twisted his head back to see - no, Sherlock wasn't shot, but his feet were sticking out from one end of their cover and his left ankle was . . . wrong. Sherlock hissed a soft curse.

"Did he hit you?" John asked under his breath. God help him if he did -

Sherlock squeezed his eyes closed and swallowed. "Not bullet - ricochet debris, maybe. I can move but it hurts."

Shit. John dared a glance toward the shooter. Still chasing them, presumably, but momentarily out of sight behind some of the parked cars - with luck there was time -

In one practiced motion John swept an arm under Sherlock's torso and another under his thigh and stood, balancing Sherlock in a combat-style fireman's carry. Sherlock was surprisingly light, for all he was eight inches taller. John took off as fast as he could at a crouch, trying not to present more of a target than necessary to their pursuer. There was no way Sherlock could keep up on his own, not with that ankle. The corner of the nearest building was only ten yards away, five, two -

The goon with the gun was shouting again, obviously catching sight of them just as John made it to safety, but he didn't get another shot off yet. Instead, John shifted Sherlock to a slightly more stable position and hoofed it as fast as he could. No way he could outrun the man, not carrying Sherlock, but if he could get enough distance -

There, around the back of the building, a rubbish skip. It wasn't ideal, but it was better than being out in the open. John flung the lid open and dumped Sherlock not-entirely-gently over the edge, then hoisted himself in after. It was completely empty and didn't smell like much of anything. Maybe it wasn't used much. Sherlock had landed awkwardly but relatively quietly. He was squeezing his ankle and wincing, but watching John with something akin to respect and awe in his eyes.

"What -"

John pinned him with a look, one he had perfected during his years in the army. It worked.

"On one knee. Quickly."

Sherlock's forehead creased, a sure sign he was about to argue. He didn't, though, just lowered himself down on his knee so his injured ankle was behind him. "I forgot to get you a ring, love," Sherlock murmured. A terrible time for humor, of course, but Sherlock was pants at deducing when drama was not appropriate.

"We'll save the kiss for later then," John hissed back. And held up his hand for silence. The thug's footsteps were coming closer now, a slow jog toward the skip, the only logical place John and Sherlock could have gone -

Bam. The man's hand - with gun - appeared over the rim, precursor to what was probably supposed to be a spray of bullets across the inside of the skip. Except he never got the chance, because John was already springboarding off Sherlock's knee and leaning all his weight on the goon's forearm, helpfully draped squarely over the metal edge. John got the wrist with one hand and the elbow with another and used them for leverage as he jumped, and then there was a sickening snap and the man dropped the gun down the inside wall of the skip with a high-pitched scream as his forearm folded at an obtuse angle.

But John was already coming down, both boots squarely aimed at the thug's chest, and they both hit the pavement. John hadn't quite gotten the angle right - it was hard to judge where a man stood solely by the position of his gun - but he'd been close enough to land hard on the man's ribs and knock the wind out of him. One more step backwards, a stomp really, and the goon's other hand was pulverized below John's boot heel. Only then did John allow himself to stop and take stock, to scan the property for any other armed attackers. Nothing.

"John?" Sherlock's voice had a metallic echo from the skip, but he didn't sound in too much pain.

"Hold on," he ordered back, not taking his eyes off their attacker. If only Sherlock had told him they'd be on a case today, he'd have brought his gun. And rope, or handcuffs, or zip ties, or something. The thug was making little wordless whimpers now, obviously too overwhelmed by the pain to do more than stare open-eyed up at him, but his legs were still perfectly functional and as much as John was tempted to break them on principle for shooting at him and Sherlock, they'd still have to explain this to Lestrade afterward.

No, he'd have to improvise. John hauled the man up to a kneeling position - ignoring the cries of pain at how the movement jostled his injured arm and hand - and yanked hard to untie the man's boot laces. Good heavy combat-style boots, with solid ankle support and correspondingly long laces. It was the work of a minute to pull the thug's multiple gold chain necklaces around backwards (why anyone would wear them as a fashion statement, John would never know) and run the boot laces up his back inside his sweaty t-shirt to tie them firmly to the chains. The man couldn't get his boots off without use of his injured hands, and he couldn't sit up from his awkward kneel without literally choking himself on his own poor fashion sense. He'd work his way free eventually, injured hands or no, but at least at the moment he was no danger to anyone.

It took more effort to get Sherlock out of the skip than it had been to get him in. John ended up having to jump back in himself and help Sherlock hook his good leg over the edge - Sherlock could have gotten out no problem with two good legs, but it was obvious he was trying to hide how much his ankle was bothering him. When John managed to haul himself out for the second time, Sherlock was eyeing the improvised restraints with interest.

"Very nice."

"Thanks. Did you call Lestrade yet?"

"Sent him a text."

John glared. "Call, not text. I don't intend to babysit this idiot for the next half-hour until he gets around to checking his phone."

Sherlock pouted, but gave in under the weight of John's simmering disapproval. He spent the ten minutes it took the police to get there in a sort of generalized snit, alternating between exaggerated poking at his ankle and sending dark, unreadable looks John's way. John was tempted to ignore it as the usual pique when not everything went exactly according to Sherlock's plan (and getting a three-centimeter shard of paving stone embedded in his ankle certainly counted), but there was something different about Sherlock's mood this time and John couldn't put his finger on why.

Lestrade and Donovan found them with little difficulty. Sherlock barked his way through his usual monologue at something near double-speed, drawing together the duchess's prank calls and the missing necklace and the seemingly-abandoned house filled with marijuana plants and the now-properly-handcuffed thug with the snapped radius and ulna and the shattered hand. Lestrade shot John a sideways glance at this last bit, but Sherlock didn't elaborate and John could tell Lestrade wasn't entirely sure he wanted to hear it right now.

Once everything was properly squared away and they were back at the flat, Sherlock finally let John bandage up his ankle properly. And then disappeared into his bedroom without another word.