A/N: So I wrote this before I saw the new season. But it was just sitting in my files, looking lonely, so I figured it might as well go up. (I loved the way the new season dealt with the whole scene, far more than my brain's version, BTW.)
Anyway, don't own it, blah blah blah. Just borrowing to play with the characters for a bit.
For a moment, Sherlock thought over the events of the day and came to the conclusion that this had been A Spectacularly Bad Idea. He didn't often think of his ideas in that category. Others' plans, absolutely. Yet he'd never truly regretted one, not much. He usually just filed it away under 'things not to do again'. Somehow he didn't think that this situation would be able to be slotted there.
At the time, goading Moriarty 'out to play', to use the man's own term, had seemed like such a good tactic. Sherlock had managed to keep the plans away from Mycroft for a little bit longer, keep John unaware while stealing his gun, and show up for the actual faceoff. It had all gone so well until… well. Until John had come onto the scene.
Now, sitting on the bumper of an ambulance, Sherlock allowed a medic to poke at the various injuries that he'd collected in the explosion. The woman wasn't exactly gentle, slapping bandages here and there while repeating that he should really be going to the nearest A&E. He disregarded her brusqueness, having already realised that she was a mother with two children (necklace with two stick figure charms, boy and girl), divorced (pale patch of skin on left ring finger), and stressed (bitten nails and continual chewing on bottom lip). Probably did not enjoy being called out in the middle of the night, leaving her kids alone. (In his mind, he added: Why would you take a job that you knew would give you misery? Maybe she didn't have to originally, maybe the husband brought in the money, maybe she's just very good and can deal with explosion related injuries. Then again, by the way she keeps looking at the scene; the last can't be an option. Too curious, should be jaded.)
Around the ambulance, officers milled and portable lights illuminated the entire scene. Somewhere, Lestrade was shouting for people to "just get a bloody move on already. We don't have all night." There were snippets of conversation everywhere, and Sherlock eavesdropped with no guilt whatsoever. Two dead in the blast, neither of them Moriarty. (Obviously.) Pool was an absolute write off, something that pleased him inexplicably.
Sherlock was not allowing his inner filings, the ticking that held him together, to distract him from his original train of thought. He was very good at categorising (numerous therapists, behavioural exams, bewildered teachers), so he continued to think over the past hour: John; the bomb vest; Moriarty; the snipers; the lucky pocket of debris that had protected them from death when Sherlock had detonated the Semtex. Still, despite the absolutely tremendous explosion that had occurred (Study it? John would never let him. Even the slightest bit of Semtex… John would probably beat him over the head if he found any form of major explosive in the flat. Bomb range?), all that Sherlock could focus on was the look that had passed over John's face at the end, when Moriarty had returned. That look that proclaimed that he'd already accepted death, that it wouldn't bother him.
For some reason, Sherlock wanted death to bother him. Wanted him to miss something, make him hate that his life could be snatched away. Terrible thought, who was he to interfere with another man's beliefs? (Scientifically wrong beliefs were another matter altogether.) Except, this is where he got stuck, he couldn't quite understand how to bring this about. Shove Sarah at John some more? Buy him a puppy? Book Harry into a clinic, where she'd emerge a stable member of society? It was a perplexing problem.
At that moment, the medic dragged an honest to goodness flap of skin over a gash and Sherlock was forced to focus in on the sudden burst of pain. He hissed and attempted to snatch his arm away, quite ready to release a tirade of how to properly handle medical situations on the woman. Just as he began to pull away, a hand closed over his upper arm. Wasn't the medic, as both of her hands were busy attempting to hold the gash together while wrapping gauze around it.
When he looked up, he came face to face with the subject of his musings. John looked worse for the wear, face scraped and beginning to be shadowed with bruises. There was a thick patch of gauze extending from his temple to the corner of his left eye and there was still plaster and glass in his hair. His right arm was in a sling and Sherlock felt a twinge of something that might have been, if not guilt, but responsibility. (To discuss at a later date.) That had been the arm that John had used to break their fall when he'd tackled both of them to the floor.
"Sherlock, stay still. It's no use jerking about and making it worse for everyone." John was using his official voice; the one that Sherlock imagined must have worked very well on the soldiers in Afghanistan. He wasn't them, however, so he squirmed and attempt to pull away from where the medic had moved on to his face. The sensation of having someone touching his face was unnerving and he considered his retreat to be tactical not fearful. In the end, he was only rewarded by John's grip moving to the collar of his shirt (Jacket long gone, must replace. And what does he think I am? Some wayward puppy?). "Stop moving. Let the nice woman do her job and you can go on you way."
Exchanging a narrow eyed glare with the suddenly grinning medic, Sherlock demanded, "How are you done before me? Obviously your treatment was provided by some better talented individual." His 'lesser-talented-individual' prodded at a cut above his eye with sudden viciousness, sending a spike of pain straight to his skull.
"He doesn't mean it," apologised John, sinking his own fingers into the skin at Sherlock's neck. It was a wordless warning but the recalcitrant genius didn't take it. He shot a filthy look upwards and finally met the other man's eyes, something he'd been avoiding doing. (Why? Just occurred to me.)
That exchange of looks was enough to silence Sherlock. When he'd looked at John's face fully, for the first time since they'd been dug from the wreckage, he remembered the panic. The panic that had manifested into shaking hands and stuttering motions as he'd torn the vest away and tossed it down the pool deck. The panic that had made him pace unsteadily, barely reacting to John's quips, only focusing on . That memory made him shut his mouth with a nearly audible snap, biting back whatever cutting thing he'd been about to say next. The medic was able to finish her job, fixing more gauze and tape over his face and trying again to send him to a hospital.
"He probably has some sort of head injury," she said seriously to John, hands fisted on her hips.
In return, he responded just as gravely, "I'm a doctor. I can handle most things that he can throw at me. Things I'd never inflict on the rest of the London medical profession." Normally, Sherlock would have resented being discussed, being talked over as if he was some sort of deaf and dumb child. (Never was. Why do people assume that children cannot understand? Useless belief.) However, he was busy, brain occupied in working over a revelation that had just occurred to him. Struck him almost worse than the explosion had.
He'd been worried about John. Panicked and frightened. Something that, as the sociopath that he'd been diagnosed, he should not have been. But he had been. So badly that he'd nearly hit the ground when he'd realised what was truly going on. There had been no derision for John's stupidity at getting involved in the scheme or disregarding him as a necessary sacrifice to get to Moriarty. ("I will burn the heart out of you." "I've been reliably informed that I don't have one." "Oh, but we both know that's not quite true.") It had just been a constant, almost mind numbing terror that he could lose the one person who he could… he wasn't quite sure what, but he was sure that it was never-before-seen.
It should have been overdramatic for him to proclaim that his world had just been shoved off kilter, but Sherlock found it profoundly appropriate. He allowed John to pull him to his feet with a mutter of, "Come on, you. Before you cause any more damage," and to tow him towards Lestrade.
The DI looked drawn and tired but when he caught sight of the two of them, a fierce angry light came to his eyes. "You," he growled, jabbing a finger in Sherlock's direction, "I don't even… never again. Go home. I do not want to see you around here."
He nearly argued but John intercepted him quite neatly. "Thanks. Statements tomorrow, then?"
"Yeah. Yeah, get around to that." Lestrade raked his hands through his hair and closed his eyes. With a quick check, Sherlock decided that now would, while entertaining, would probably not be the moment to tell him that he really should get his blood pressure checked, if the ruddiness of his cheeks was any indication. (A good indication.) And God, John must be affecting him terribly if he's editing what comes out of his mouth. The thought gave him another pause so he didn't even argue when Lestrade commented, "What a bloody mess. Thought I could have a quiet night in. I should never assume that again, should I?"
"Probably not." Grinning wryly, John continued, "We'll come 'round tomorrow and do the statements. I'll get this one out of the way though, for now." With a shouted goodbye at Anderson and Donovan (Really, what does she see in him? She's merely an idiot, not brain dead.), he began to walk out of the main scene while still maintaining a firm grip on Sherlock's arm.
"They won't get all of the evidence." Muttering rebelliously, Sherlock followed with a final glance at the ex-pool. It looked terrible but he was glad it was gone. He'd have probably have gone and burnt it down himself, to obliterate memories. And where on earth had that idea come from?
John either didn't hear or he was doing a very good job at pretending because he flagged down a cab and herded Sherlock into it with no comments, doing a very good job for a man that had just been in an explosion. Inside the cab, Sherlock pulled into himself and gazed out the window, hoping for a few more minutes with his mind. Hopefully, his mental upheaval would be solved by the time he got back to Baker Street. That didn't appear to be a likely option as it seemed that John wanted to talk.
Leg bouncing erratically, he leaned towards Sherlock and said, "You've been quiet. You're sure you've not got a head injury?"
"I'm fine." The response was curt but it didn't put the other man off.
"You're sure." An emphatic head nod later and the doctor moved on, voice suddenly becoming hard, "What. Were. You. Thinking? Honestly? Running off, without telling me."
How was he supposed to explain? If he said he hadn't wanted him involved, John would be hurt. If he said that he hadn't thought it over, John wouldn't believe him, knowing him too well. Instead, he answered, still staring out the window, "It seemed the best plan at the time."
"The best plan?" The incredulity was there, obvious and glaring. (Distracting.) "How could you meeting a known bomber be the best plan?"
(What does he want? It was the best plan, until he got involved.) "I'm sorry that you became involved." Sherlock knew he sounded stiff and cold but he needed the other man to just stop talking. He needed to think.
"Is that what you think this is about?" John actually sat back into his seat and blinked at him. Quickly turned to anger though. "I don't mi- actually, I do mind. You set up a no win situation there. You could have died. I could have died. We nearly did. What went on in your mind?"
"You weren't supposed to be involved." He felt like he was losing ground somehow but he soldiered on. "I hadn't planned for that."
"Oh, for the love of-" Gesturing with his one good hand, he settled into a steady rant. More of a dressing down, to be more truthful. It was at this point that Sherlock managed to tune him out. Gave him more freedom to rattle about himself.
Acting like he was still watching the passing scenery, Sherlock subtly studied the other man. He knew what John looked like by now, of course, but this time he tried to act like he didn't. Shorter than him (Not hard. Too tall.), blonde toned hair with some gray, and blue eyes. Face lined as he scowled through his speech. Favored his right shoulder, the one that had been shot, with unconscious care. Still held himself with military efficiency even when wounded (good soldier), was still the doctor under everything else as he inspected both himself and Sherlock for injuries and how to treat them.
Brave, strong moral compass, protects others at risk of his own safety… kind. (They don't teach all of that in the military.) Lived for something exciting to happen. Missed the action of Afghanistan. Not as clever as Sherlock himself (who was? Really?) but far more intelligent than most. Could be depended on in any situation.
He liked tea but would turn to coffee at his most sleep deprived. He had a penchant for button downs and woolly jumpers. On bad days, he would use his cane again as his leg would be bothering him. Nightmares plagued him during the night, memories of battle and death. These nightmares would usually be the precursor to the bad days. He never quite understood Sherlock's varied experiments but at least he didn't throw them out (last flatmate did). For that matter, Sherlock didn't think that John completely understood him. He made the effort though, which was more than-
Sherlock hadn't realised he'd shut his eyes until they flew open. He knew he was staring at John by the way the doctor faltered in his tirade, a worried look crossing his face. "Sherlock, are you all right?" When Sherlock didn't answer, he shook his head and said, "You probably do have a concussion. Inevitable, really."
Disregarding this, Sherlock's brain whirred to as much of a stop as it ever did. The conclusion had been met and it was bewildering. He cared for John. (Howhowhow? Sociopath.) As a friend certainly, but friends didn't detail the way that the other person's face looked when he smiled or when he was in pain. Maybe they did, but they probably didn't catalogue it away in their heads and dissect it when they had a quiet moment. They also probably didn't get jealous when their friends went on dates with other people. (Jealousy. That's what that itching, angry feeling had been. Obviously.) Somehow, to use a trite and common expression, Sherlock had fallen for John.
It was obvious. It didn't mean he knew what to do now. Contrary to popular belief, Sherlock had been attracted to people before. He'd dealt with them, male and female, and hadn't been hurt when the connections had ended. Truth to be told, he was usually too distracted to even notice. Yet, this was John. If this ended, Sherlock would notice. His compatriot, not just flatmate, would be gone. What was he supposed to do?
Suddenly, the cab pulled to a stop and John was taking him by the sleeve, tugging him out and onto the street. On the sidewalk, he was released and Sherlock watched as John made his way up to the door of 221, pulling out his keys as he went. Something unfamiliar was starting to twist in Sherlock's chest. The closest he could liken it to was impatience, or that feeling when he was bored. The overwhelming pressure to do something.
"Are you coming? Come on, I'm not leaving you out here to die in the cold." Kicking himself into motion, Sherlock hurried up to the doorway, grumbling under his breath as his left leg burned from a combination of a scrape and a twisted ankle. They hadn't hurt much before but the adrenaline had worn off. In the main hall, John was waiting for him, an aggrieved look on his face. "Honestly. Are you going to be off in your head for the rest of tonight?"
It nearly made him laugh, just how spot on that accusation was. What would you do if I told you what was keeping me in my head? He wondered. It's you, for your information. Just in case you're confused. A quick check told him that John was still eyeing him. Can't you tell? You're so… no, not stupid. Dense but apparently, I also think you're something else. When did that happen? Why? Why? Do you know?
Obviously his lack of answer was not approved by John. With an impatient sigh, he reached to poke at the cut that was on Sherlock's cheek. He hadn't noticed that he'd already picked off the gauze that had been covering it but he did now, as John fastened it back down again and his skin flushed. "I suppose it would be useless to ask you not to do this again, wouldn't it?"
"Oh, probably." Sherlock made the words sound as arrogant as possible but his mental voice added: I won't get you implicated again, if that's what you mean. And he was fairly sure that was not what John meant. He knew that the other man would be by his side in every case he could, digging himself in just as deeply as Sherlock. (Wasn't that terrifying? Terrifying. Why was that terrifying? )
"Thought so." Finally, John smiled and laughed. He looked like he'd just been through a war (technicalities) but he still looked… Actually, Sherlock couldn't discern what the look was. That lack of understanding was the final strike. Straw and the camel's back.
Not thinking, for once, he crowded John back against the wall of the hallway. The smaller man made a questioning, shocked noise but was quickly cut off by Sherlock's mouth pressing down onto his. He went very still and didn't respond and that was when Sherlock's brain belatedly threw up the 'what on earth are you thinking?' sign. Panic gripped him and he pulled himself back, actually stepping away.
John still leaned on the wall, mouth a little open and eyes wide. (I feel odd… numb. That was wrong. Mistake.) Fully prepared to retreat, all the way out the door, all the way back to only a minute ago, Sherlock clenched his fists and waited for the inevitable. The embarrassment, anger, disgust, pity. (Oh, um. God. What were you thinking? Do you ever consider other people when you do things? And whatever gave you the idea that you had any right? Who would ever want someone like you, Sherlock? I mean, c'mon. I'm so sorry. I'm… I don't feel that way. I don't think I'm the person you want.)
Instead of any of that, the reaction was completely different. There weren't even words. Hand coming to rest on one Sherlock's bunched hands, John carefully worked his fingers into the tense knot. Both of their hands were scarred, John's from battles and Sherlock's from his own doing, mostly. For some reason, this comforted him. Almost as if they had some common ground.
When their fingers were finally intertwined, Sherlock's almost limp in the hold, John gently pulled him in and down. (Not rejected? Wait for it…) This time, it was John who initiated the kiss and it was John who kept Sherlock from bolting. This time, there was reaction, from both of them. Apparently, John was very good at this. (Practice. Study? Could be inter-.) Mouth sliding, opening, forcing Sherlock's open as well. Breaths being shared. Sherlock found himself unfreezing, pushing the doctor more firmly to the wall in almost an attack. There was a muffled laugh from John then he was murmuring, "Easy there. Not going anywhere."
Jerking back, feeling clumsy, Sherlock tucked his chin into his chest so that he could stare at the ground as intensely as possible. "Not good?" That was their gauge, created all the way back in the first case, the one with the cabbie. (A Study in Pink. Ridiculous. Not full scope.) And now, he was waiting for John to say, "Bit not good." The tone of his own voice was so uncertain that it unnerved him and echoed in his ears. He was confident in his opinions, about 99.9 percent of time. This fell into that point one percent, he supposed. (Irritating.)
"No, no it's good." The feeling of John palming his jaw forced his head up, looking into blue eyes instead of his own shoes. Those eyes were kind, smiling. "You're fine, Sherlock. Stop worrying." Shrugging, Sherlock scoffed almost silently and John only made his voice harder, "Seriously. Stop. C'mere." He didn't expect to be held in a one armed hug, tugged down.
"What are you-?" Confusing turn of events. He wasn't sure if he liked it, not knowing where this was going. But it was John so he went along.
"Just shut up for a minute. You were quiet before." There was a pause then, "Was this why? It was, wasn't it? You probably picked this apart for ages." He allowed Sherlock to straighten so that he could inspect him.
Squirming, he submitted to the look, muttering away. "I considered options. I thought things over. I did not 'pick things apart'." Sherlock hated being studied, bringing to mind far too many childhood visits to the psychiatrist's office. Usually, he would just gazed back at the other person until they got uncomfortable. However, he stayed still for John. (And didn't that say something? Something. Not quite sure what.)
With a delighted expression, John began to yank him down again, saying, "You did. You were nervous." And of course that was the moment that Mrs. Hudson decided to come in.
"I knew it!" Practically clapping her hands, she shouted, "I knew it." Then when John turned red and spluttered something unintelligible, she fluttered at them. "Don't mind me. Continue as you were." And she stood there. Expectant and with a massive smile plastered to her face.
Exchanging a look with John, Sherlock growled, "For all that is holy, Mrs. Hudson." As he turned to race up the stairs, he discovered that he was clutching the other man's hand in his again. Made it so much easier to pull him up to the flat. Both of them staggering like last place finishers in a three legged race.
At the top of the stairs and through a door, with Mrs. Hudson's indignant "There's nothing to be ashamed of, boys," behind them, the events of the entire night finally hit. Sherlock felt giddy and unbalanced. To think, just an hour and… forty seven minutes ago, he'd thought that his world was ending and now. Everything. Beside him, John seemed to have been struck with the same thought.
He was laughing, trying to stifle the laughs while spluttering, "I shouldn't be laughing. Not right."
"Why not?" Grinning at him, Sherlock stated with as much sobriety as he could muster, "It's not a crime scene, after all." Parroting John's words back at him.
"No. No, it's not. But you look like one." The doctor soul returned and was currently jabbing at the various cuts that were displayed on Sherlock's body. It was tolerated with extreme restraint. "Half of these aren't even treated. But you had to be rude to that medic, didn't you? Come on, let's patch them up."
"I'm sorry." The words came out of nowhere and had Sherlock wincing. Apparently, his brain had decided to abandon him tonight. "I mean…" The sorry wasn't just about the rudeness or the cuts. It was for the entire night, everything.
And again, John was laughing and touching his face. "It's fine. We'll deal with it." Like Sherlock's apology, his words were about more than cuts and bruises. It was a promise and one that made an unfamiliar, honest smile appear on the maybe-not-such-a-sociopath consulting detective's face. Then John added, "But the head comes out of the fridge."
"But it's an experiment."
"That does not make it better."