There are few things in the world that frighten Sherlock Holmes. John Watson in handcuffs is one of them. Sherlock/John

A/N: For the Make Me a Monday - Week 44 request at sherlockbbc on livejournal by tattoo_kink: Handcuffs. I wanted to rename it, since Fear was just a temporary title I gave it when I started...but I couldn't think of anything else. ...

There are few things in the world that truly frighten Sherlock Holmes. Murder does not startle him. Blood does not make him queasy. He thrills in the dark. There are few things that he wishes he'd never seen; that shake him to his core.

John Watson in handcuffs is one of them.

If he were being arrested for some crime, Sherlock wouldn't care so much. He could clear John's name in minutes. But cuffed to a pipe and with blood running down the right side of his face…..that Sherlock wished he could forget.

The case had been easy; too easy. Maybe that was what went wrong. They'd been careless. Sherlock had been careless. And John had gone missing for it.

Lestrade was taking care of Ian Snow now. They were putting him in his own set of cuffs and hauling him away. Sherlock was in the back room, frozen in the door and staring at the man across the room.

"Sherlock," John began, a little grin forming on his face. "Knew you'd turn up."

And suddenly Sherlock was kneeling by John, his hands grazing John's face, his neck, his arms, his sides, searching for wounds he prayed didn't exist. They didn't. The blood was from a single knock to the head. It was nothing serious. Head wounds bleed more than most, even when they aren't that bad. Still, the sight of it twisted something inside Sherlock.

"Sherlock," John said again.

"How's your head?" Sherlock asked, ignoring the unasked question in John's eyes. His hands still rested solidly on John's shoulders, near his neck.

"What? Oh. Fine. Just a bump." Sherlock frowned and let out a dismissive noise and John frowned with him. "Alright. More than a bump. But really, it's fine. It's my shoulder that really hurts."

He said it lightly, to assuage the frightened look Sherlock couldn't completely mask. But Sherlock simply shifted so he could see behind John, see the handcuffs securing the good doctor to the pipe more clearly. His wrists were red and cut in places. He'd tried to get loose. A moment of pride shot through Sherlock, but it was quickly extinguished. Now was not the time.

Pulling a key from his pocket, a key he'd taken from Ian Snow before Lestrade showed up, Sherlock quickly unlocked the handcuffs. John couldn't hold back the groan of pain when his arms fell forward. Sherlock placed a hand on John's shoulder to steady him; his left shoulder.

"John," he breathed out.

Sherlock wasn't good with emotions. He was a high functioning sociopath. He didn't like the world. It was a place full of sniveling idiots like Anderson and Donovan who watched crap telly and had friends and didn't have archenemies. But when it came to John, Sherlock didn't feel like a sociopath at all. John was special. He made Sherlock feel….like he had a heart. And then John got hurt. Whenever John was hurt or in danger, Sherlock really didn't know what to do with himself. It felt like failure every time.

"I'm alright." John's quiet voice broke through Sherlock's haze and he blinked. John had turned his head and was looking directly into Sherlock's eyes. "Really. I knew you'd come for me."

Sherlock took a deep breath, gave John's shoulder a brief squeeze, and stood up. He didn't offer to help John up. He didn't say a word. He simply schooled his features into one of boredom and watched as Lestrade walked in.

"John!" Lestrade greeted, relieved. "Are you alright? We've got a medical team just outside-"

John smiled. "Thank you, Detective," he interrupted easily, to the point where it didn't sound like he'd interrupted at all.

Lestrade escorted John out of the dimly lit room where he'd been held for almost four hours. Sherlock lingered. His eyes traveled from the door to the handcuffs now lying on the floor. He frowned.

"Sherlock?" John's voice called back. "You coming?"

With one last withering glare at the room as a whole, Sherlock followed his doctor's beckoning. The medical team bandaged John's wrists that night. And for days after, every time Sherlock saw them, he couldn't help but feel like that pain was his fault. If he hadn't been so haughty, so full of himself….He'd been right, of course, on every point, but it had still resulted in that pain.

But then John would look at him. Their eyes would meet, and John would shake his head, his eyes never once leaving Sherlock's. In that simple motion, he cleared Sherlock of that blame; that guilt. The sight of handcuffs still made him frown for weeks, but at least they weren't on John. At least that one human part of Sherlock was still fine.