"Sherlock, do you even have a license?" John asked nervously, clinging to the roll bar on the passenger side of the Mitsubishi that his flatmate had rented on, apparently, a whim.

The consulting detective merely smirked, moving expertly in and out of slower cars with the precision of a shark harassing a school of fish. "Don't you think you should have asked that before you got into the car with me?"

John sat back, cowed by his logic, as always. They were nearly to the edge of the city, Sherlock having avoided arrest for his erratic driving by perfectly timed defensive maneuvers and managing not to break any serious traffic laws. Fortunately.

His passenger dared to look at the speedometer and nearly fainted. "Sherlock! How the hell are you going that fast without getting us killed every half kilometer? Or getting pulled over? Or more importantly, where in God's name are we going that requires you to drive so recklessly? It's seven o'clock at night and we're not even on a case."

"Who said this was for a case?" Sherlock asked, seeming genuinely surprised. "No, no. Not for a case. But it does have a deadline."

"Fine," John replied. "Leave me in the dark, then."

He looked over to see the driver flashing a gleaming, playful smile – a rare sight from the usually staid and emotionless detective. "Oh, I intend to."

Sighing in defeat, John put on the radio – softly, or Sherlock would surely throw him out of the car – and settled back into his seat, watching as the light drained from the landscape until they were zooming through near wilderness.

John realized he must have dozed off when he was shaken rather roughly by Sherlock, who had parked the car on the side of the road by a thick, imposing forest. He glanced at the clock blearily: 11:49.

"Where are we?" he slurred as Sherlock came around to pry him out of the car, a mischievous enthusiasm bringing his whole face into light.

"You'll see."

They walked arm in arm into the forest – John assumed this was because he was half-asleep and in no way coordinated, more than Sherlock's enjoyment of human touch – casually side-stepping the barriers meant to keep out trespassers. John was awake enough to notice the sign going in, however: they were in Kielder Forest, exactly 224.40 miles from London off the A1.

"What the hell are we doing in Kielder forest at midnight, Sherlock? This is just beyond insane."

His flatmate tightened his grip on John's arm a little. "You'll see."

After a short walk, they came to a clearing in the forest, and Sherlock pulled out a blanket for them to lie down upon. John stretched out, looking over at Sherlock confusedly, when the taller man just smiled and pointed upward, to the sky.

Complying with the unspoken command, John looked to the sky – the whole of the cosmos spread out before them, infinite and perfect in its complexity; millions upon millions of stars, some dead, some dying, some barely born swirling together in a perfect, silent symphony.

"It's beautiful," John breathed, glancing at Sherlock to see him bathed in the same expression of wonderment and awe. "So this is what you broke all those laws for? To see the stars?"

"I realized that sometimes I live my life too fast. I wanted to slow down for a little while. You seemed like a good person to share this little moment with," he replied quietly, almost reverently, as if they were in the presence of a god – or many of them – and he needed to pay his respects. John knew that Sherlock was not a religious man by any means, but perhaps even he needed something to believe in, something to remind him that he was terribly small: perhaps that need for humbling came to him, as it did many geniuses and madmen, from the cold vastness of the universe. He smiled a little, trying to imagine what was going on in the amazing hard-drive whirring away beside him, housed inside a nest of wild curls. Then he chuckled.

"Sherlock, you do realize that the only way you got to come here and 'slow down' was by breaking every speed limit from here to London, right?"

The consulting detective laughed – truly laughed – a deep, rich, beautiful ring that sounded as if it came from the crust of the earth. John suddenly felt slim, delicate fingers entangle with his, and he wondered how a person's life could seem so complete from such a simple touch alone.

"Well, it's a compromise."