AN: Hey there! This is the first in a series of Sherlock whump stories I'm going to be doing. Mostly they'll be scrappy little things unless one really catches my attention, just seems this fandom has missed one of my favorite things about the show – the vulnerability of the protagonist. Don't get me wrong, there are some great Sherlock whump stories out there. Just not nearly enough! So I'm making a little portfolio of my own. Do please follow in my footsteps, this is an essentially selfish venture; I want to read more of these! And I sincerely hope you enjoy this. Vignettes into the humanity of Sherlock Holmes.

This one, then, is based around a suspect circumstance I'm surprised more of us didn't pounce on. After Episode 2 of the first series (The Blind Banker), Sherlock has been quite seriously strangled twice. Mysteriously, especially following his strangulation at the hands of Jijou in Soo Lin Yao's apartment, he doesn't as time wears on in the episode sport the necklace of bruises that ought to have been the inevitable result of the trauma. Now, we could put this down to his not bruising very easily, but in series 2 Episode 1, he's sporting a bruise from John's punch within a day. Either John the Doctor is in possession of more brute strength than a paid, successful Chinese assassin, or the writers missed a tiny little detail that can be exploited. Obviously, I'm going with the latter.

There will be a little bit of John/Sherlock, but only fledgling and alluded to. Much like in the show really.

Please do bear with me on this. I'm characterizing Sherlock, John and co. the way I understand them. I accept not everyone perceives things in the same way, but if your complaint is merely a difference of opinion then while I'm happy to read it please try and be polite. Having said that, any constructive criticism is more than welcome.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'Sherlock', that belongs to the BBC, Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and of course, Conan Doyle. However, all original ideas, characters and storylines do belong to me. Please refrain from stealing them.

Let the games begin!

In his dream, a snake was creeping around his neck. It's skin was silky, dry. Sherlock knew that, knew to expect it, though he was curious as to what the reptile was doing in his bedroom to begin with. For a brief moment, he wondered whether one of his many enemies had planted it there to kill him; whether its poison (unknown thanks to his poor view of the creature itself) would have killed him before he had the chance to shout for help, to warn John.

Then his surroundings shifted, and Sherlock realized with a flicker of irritation that he was dreaming. One of the many things he detested about sleep were the convoluted fantasies his mind came up with when it could be doing something useful like mulling over the formula for the compound he was working on that would identify the age of human saliva. Reluctantly, he looked around, careful not to move for, well, not fear, he didn't feel fear, but for a healthy respect of the reptile still sliding leisurely over his skin. He was, to his surprise, back in Soo Lin's flat. Frowning at the ceiling, he waited for the most likely, and tedious course of events to follow. The assassin, (Jijou, his mind supplied) the struggle, his death…After a few moments, nothing had happened, the snake having coiled its warm body loosely around his neck. Sherlock scowled. Dream or not, he had better things to do than lie about all day. Taking a deep breath, he went to roll onto his side.

Which was when the snake, which up until that moment had been so docile Sherlock had had good reason to believe it was domesticated, began to constrict around his throat with alarming strength. Eyes going wide, Sherlock's hands flew to his throat, as they had done far too often recently, trying to get some purchase on the serpent's slippery body. Apparently oblivious, the snake continued to tighten around his neck and now his air was being cut off and the strength was draining from his limbs and his vision was narrowing and he couldn't breathe he couldn't breathe he couldn't breathe!

Sherlock's eyes snapped open. He didn't make a sound. He had far too much self control for that. Instead, with a forced calm that belied the rapid beating of his heart, he sat up, grabbed his dressing gown and wandered out of his bedroom to get a cup of coffee. On his way out he glanced at the time; it was 1 O'clock in the morning. He'd had about an hour and 47 minutes of sleep. It wasn't bad, all things considered. And he didn't feel like any more rest presently, thankyou very much. As he made his way to the kitchen, a thought about the saliva formula struck him, and he skipped the rest of the way down the stairs, muttering something about potato extract.

John wasn't sure what had woken him up, which was odd, really, because when one was woken in 221b it was usually by something obnoxiously loud; like a violin, or a gunshot, or (yet another bloody) explosion. For a few minutes, he simply stared at the ceiling of his room, frowning and listening to the silence. At last he heard something, a dull thud from downstairs.

So Sherlock was awake. John nodded to himself, rolling over with the aim of giving his poor body a little rest at last. However, just as he shut his eyes something else occurred to him, something which really should have been quite obvious from the moment he'd woken.

Sherlock shouldn't be awake. He never woke up the night after a case. He slept like a baby; John would know, it was the one time he was guaranteed respite. The only thing that would keep Sherlock up was his work, and he had nothing to work on at the moment, so….something was wrong?

John could almost hear Sherlock's voice, sardonic and mocking in his mind, 'excellent deduction Doctor Watson.' Still, he lay in bed a a little while longer anyway, mulling over the idea. It just seemed so alien. Sherlock had slept just fine after a Study in Pink. There was a faint chink from downstairs, the hiss of the kettle boiling, and with a heartfelt sigh, John threw off his covers and climbed out of bed.

When he came downstairs, he was greeted by the sight of Sherlock, mug of coffee in one hand, a pipette of a pale yellow chemical in the other, which he was meticulously adding, drop by drop, to a petri dish half full of a viscous, transparent substance.

"What are you doing up?"

The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them, and though John was perfectly aware that he sounded like his best friend's mother, it seemed the most obvious question.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes, carefully setting down the pipette and starting a stopwatch on the kitchen table. He took a sip of his coffee and leant back against the counter. "I got bored. Sleeping is boring. Why sleep when one can experiment?"

John was torn between punching him and laughing. He refrained from both, moving towards the pool of light that was the kitchen in order to make himself a drink.

"It's sleep you can't just – Sherlock…Sherlock, what the hell are they?"

Ever attentive, Sherlock followed John's horrified gaze to his own neck, his slender fingers self consciously brushing over the skin, which was covered in black, blue and purple bruises winding about the normally white flesh like a necklace.

He shrugged. "You're the Doctor John, isn't it obvious? They're the result of strangulation."

"Yes, yes I know that." John frowned, coffee forgotten, stepping closer to Sherlock; not really bothered about the personal boundaries he was breaking as he examined the bruises. This was Sherlock after all. "But there are two sets of bruises. You were strangled in the tramway but…this other set, they're older, going yellow round the edges…" John trailed off, tracing the edge of the marks as gently as he could before looking up to meet Sherlock's slate-silver eyes.

"When did that happen?" John's voice was a little rough now, and he was unable to make it much louder than a murmur, because now his thoughts were spinning, faster and faster. If Sherlock had two sets of bruises, then he'd been strangled before, not very recently, but not long ago either. He'd been hurt, and vulnerable, and John hadn't helped, hadn't even noticed and of course Sherlock being Sherlock he wouldn't even think it worth mentioning.

The Detective, for his part, was staring at his friend with narrowed eyes, an expression of deep concentration and the faintest confusion on his face. "When we went to Soo Lin Yao's apartment. You were outside. The brother hadn't left yet. It was stupid of me not to have noticed actually. We had a bit of a fight and he strangled me with a sna- scarf, scarf obviously, until I was unconscious. Then he left, dropping a trademark black lotus in my pocket."

During this narrative, the blood had drained from John's face, and now he leaned back against the counter next to Sherlock, putting a hand to his forehead. "Jesus Sherlock, you could have died. You could have died while I stood outside and," John laughed in a self deprecating manner, still vaguely horrified, "while I stood outside and shouted at you for not involving me." He turned to look at his friend, having to lift his chin slightly to meet the taller man's gaze. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Sherlock shrugged, "it didn't seem important at the time."

John felt himself slump, and unwillingly allowed a small smile to creep onto his mouth. "I shouldn't even be surprised. Tell you what, next time you find yourself in a life threatening situation, or get hurt, let me know, ok?"

With that, the smaller man moved past his friend to start on his coffee, leaving Sherlock to stare at the back of his head with an expression of perturbed irritation before shrugging it off and turning back to his experiment. For a while, they stood in companionable silence, before something else occurred to John. He was still too worried to broach the subject of Sherlock's most recent experiment.

"So, what woke you up?" Sherlock glanced at him impassively, and John sighed before adding, "and don't give me that 'sleep is boring' nonsense. I know to you our bodies and their needs are pretty irrelevant, but you always sleep after a case. Always. What makes this time any different? Is it because Shan got away?"

Sherlock shook his head absently, narrowing his eyes at the mixture in his petri dish which had begun to foam. "Just a dream…" He said it so quietly that John almost missed it, and even then the good Doctor wasn't quite sure he'd heard correctly.

"A-a dream? A bad dream? I wouldn't have thought you were even," he paused, then, because Sherlock was looking at him with that oddly vulnerable expression in his eyes and he'd been about to say something that, in retrospect, would not have been very kind. John felt himself color a little at the realization. He wasn't Sally Donovan. Just because Sherlock was…different, it didn't mean he was psychopathic, or that he was not capable of being human from time to time. And no one liked nightmares. He took a scalding sip of coffee and cleared his throat before speaking again. "So, ah, what was it about?"

Sherlock scowled at the substance in his dish which was continuing to foam. "It was stupid. Back in the apartment. Snake round my neck. Strangled. Dying. Irrelevant."

John blinked. "You dreamt you were being strangled to death by a snake? Sounds…terrifying. So you decided to come down here and do an experiment?"

The curly haired detective shrugged. "Sleeping is boring anyway." The stopwatch beeped and he turned to look at the mixture in his dish.

It had gone a certain shade of beige, and was a little thicker than before. The edges still bubbled slightly, but apparently it was what Sherlock had been looking for, because a smug smile spread across his face, at odds with the dark bruises still wrapped like a noose around his slender neck.

"It works! I knew Mrs.H was lying about her age. No one has hip problems like that until they're into their sixties, not without good reason anyway."

John blinked, considered asking and then decided against it. Instead he just smiled as Sherlock danced around the kitchen, writing down his observations and muttering strings of formula to himself under his breath.

And if Sherlock didn't get back to bed, then that was ok, he'd sleep later. And if John stayed up with him, regardless of how tired he was, and listened to his friend shout at the tv, and if at one point Sherlock reached for his hand and just held it, tightly, like a child, then neither of them commented on it.

And if a small pot of salve for Sherlock's bruises made its way to 221b the next day from John's surgery, well, it couldn't do any harm.

Hope you liked it! Please do leave a review, doesn't have be long, it's just nice to have feedback!

Watch out for more soon! The next one will be 'Nicknames'.