In honour of Sherlock and John's home at 221B Baker Street, this is a 221b ficlet, composed of 221 words, with the last beginning with "b."
"Just talk to him, Sherlock." Forced calm flattens John's words into a monotone. He doesn't look up from where his hands work steadily in a crimson mess of shredded cloth and flesh.
Folded on his knees, Sherlock leans in, studying Lestrade like an anomalous clue. "What should I say?"
Lestrade chuckles once, then arches against the agony that follows, blinking back involuntary tears. The movement makes John hiss, and Lestrade tries, truly he does, to hold still.
"Doesn'tmatter." Lestrade grinds the words out between gritted teeth. If he unclenches his jaw, he'll scream. "Say... everything'llbe... fine."
His palms scrub along the pavement, seeking some way to brace himself against fire in his side and ice everywhere else.
"I'm not entirely certain it will."
Behind them, Sally summons an ambulance, her voice staccato-precise with throttled fear.
"S'posedtolie... Idiot." Fondly.
John presses harder. Lestrade claws at the concrete.
After a heartbeat, Sherlock captures one of Lestrade's wayward hands between his own, and glances toward John, as if for affirmation.
"No," Lestrade groans. "Breakyourfingers."
Sherlock blinks, frowns, then guides the hand to a bony Holmesian ankle, encouraging clammy fingers to curl around the solid joint.
"As tightly as needed," Sherlock murmurs.
Lestrade nods his thanks. Swallows. Closes wet eyes.
He squeezes hard enough to bruise.
Vital Stats: The title alludes to the lyrics "Secure yourself to heaven/hold on tight the night has come" from "Secure Yourself" by the Indigo Girls.
Originally written in August 2011.