John is limping, but that's nothing new.
"You really should put an icepack on that," Sherlock says, holding the door open for him. It's the only thing he's holding. John, of course, is stuck with the coolers full of hail. His taller friend isn't even wincing, damn him, though John would bet he has some spectacular bruises under his clothes.
"I really never want to see ice ever again, thanks."
They walk past the enormous animated globe in the lobby of the National Weather Center and toward the glass elevators. John stares at the wavy patterns on the side of the transparent cube as they travel up to the third floor. They're taking the hail to Molly Hooper, who, Sherlock had explained when pressed, is a PhD candidate he sometimes shares his research with. She's also agreed to store the hail in the cooler clearly marked "Sherlock Holmes," as John refuses to let it clutter up his freezer for the next few weeks.
John isn't really clear on what kinds of tests they're going to perform, but he hopes they aren't going to need any more samples.
At least not until the bruises heal. And he gets his car fixed.
"Hail over quite a bit of Nebraska, tomorrow," Sherlock says from John's couch. He's got the Weather Channel turned up loud on the little TV in the corner. "Bit of Colorado, as well, I should think."
Sherlock has taken to showing up at odd hours, alternately lounging about making a mess of the place and demanding John drive him somewhere.
"Bad luck for them," John says. He tosses a bank statement on the coffee table and sinks down into his ratty armchair.
"Bad luck?" Sherlock shoots him a look like broken windshields, bruises, and millions of dollars in property damage are something to be excited about. "Up to three inches diameter in some areas, John! We must go and observe."
John snorts. "Only if you're prepared to buy me a new car afterward." He puts his feet up on the coffee table, knocking the bank statement and a couple of bills onto the carpet.
"I paid for you to get your mirror fixed."
"Sherlock- you broke the mirror. You threw golf balls at it, remember? There's a dent in the door!"
"I needed to see how much force was needed for-"
"Either way," John says. "Neither of us has to pay for anything if nothing gets broken by baseball-sized chunks of ice falling from the sky."
John has had hail damage to his car before, both from chasing and from just generally living in the severe weather capital of the United States. One thing he has never done is sought it. He and Bill would happily drive through heavy precipitation in pursuit of a tornado or a particularly violent thunderstorm, but neither of them enjoyed the time inevitably spent at the auto repair center after the car was pelted with large hail.
"Stop under here," Sherlock says over the sound of rain pounding on the car.
"There's no tornado in this storm, right?" An overpass is one of the last places he wants to be caught during a twister.
"No, it was never organized enough for that."
The sound of the rain drops off as John eases the car under the overpass and onto the shoulder of the road. It's still a steady roar on the tarmac just beyond.
"The core's just to our southwest," Sherlock says. "The worst of the precipitation should be here in a few minutes." He snaps his laptop closed. "You've got the supplies?"
John unbuckles himself and leans to reach into the backseat. "Coolers, check. Helmets, check."
Sherlock makes a face.
"Yes, Sherlock, you have to wear one, too."
He looks annoyed but squishes down his curls with it anyway.
The rain soon strengthens, prompting other vehicles to seek shelter under the overpass, a small traffic jam forming behind them.
"There's the hail," John says as the sound of the rain changes. Little white spheres are bouncing off the road. He's more impatient than he thought he would be, waiting for the weather to come to him. "Should we get out now?"
"Not yet, they'll get larger in a minute." Sherlock doesn't want to waste space on inferior specimens. He slips a long, heavy coat on with some difficulty in the cramped space. It looks ridiculous with the helmet, but at least it might dull the impact of the falling ice.
The rain is strong enough that they cannot see into the windows of the other cars, though John can imagine the looks on the drivers' faces as the hail increases in size. They're going to have some spectacular dents after it's all over, probably cracked windows as well.
"Baseball sized, John!" Sherlock says. "Give me the container!"
They hurry out of the car and pause for a moment at the lip of the overpass. Ice is hitting the ground with surprising force and bouncing into the air. There are places where it's collecting thick enough to look like snow.
John feels at the bike helmet he's got on and is suddenly aware of every unprotected inch of his body. "Christ, this is going to hurt," he says.
Sherlock grins at him a bit madly, "Wouldn't be fun otherwise. Are you ready?"
"As I'll ever be," John says, squaring himself. "Let's go."
They dash out into the curtains of rain of hail. It's not the most exciting or dangerous thing John's ever done, but something in him is fiercely happy all the same.