It had been a long case. Took a full week to figure it out, then another thirty-two hours to finally catch up with the criminal. The last hour of the case had consisted of sprinting after the criminal and then being attacked with a knife. But it turned out all right in the end, like it always did, and now the man would be spending a number of years behind bars. Even so, Sherlock had immediately gone for the shower when he and John had gotten back to Baker Street. After a nice long and hot shower, he made himself a cup of coffee only to realize they were out of sugar. He'd have to ask John to go out and get some. For now, though, perhaps Mrs. Hudson would let him borrow a couple spoonfuls.
Sherlock gave his hair a tussle, flicks of water flying, as he quickly trod down the stairs to see Mrs. Hudson. He was about to open the door to her apartment when he heard voices and his hand froze on the doorknob.
"I saved his life again, Mrs. Hudson."
John. Apparently he hadn't gone up to bed. He sounded upset. Sherlock frowned, pressing his ear to the door and listening closely.
"What did he do this time, dear?"
"Cole, the rapist we've been tracking down? We caught up with him finally and he made a run for it. Sherlock, of course, goes bolting after him and I have to try to keep up. By the time I did, Cole had pulled a knife on Sherlock. Had the damn thing digging into Sherlock's neck."
Sherlock's hand went up to his throat, touching the cut gently. It still stung.
"Sheer luck he wasn't on top of his jugular," John continued. "The only reason Sherlock's body isn't cold in some alley is because I was able to use the element of surprise on Cole, threw him off guard." There was a heavy sigh. "You know, I wonder how he managed to keep himself alive before we met."
"He's very resourceful, you know," Mrs. Hudson pointed out sweetly. "He's always been able to take care of himself."
"Well, he's getting careless then. But I doubt he even realizes it. It's not as if he's ever thanked me for it. I mean, I'm not looking for recognition or anything, but... he can be so... frustrating."
Sherlock drew away from the door and leaned back against the wall, a strangely heavy weight settling in his stomach and throat. Did John really think those things? That Sherlock didn't appreciate having John at his side, always there? Sherlock had never been able to so easily trust someone, so completely too! And he did recognize how John was always so willing to put himself in danger for Sherlock. Sherlock thought back to the countless times John had saved his life, starting with the crazed cabbie. Had Sherlock really never thanked him?
No, Sherlock realized. He hadn't.
Apparently Sherlock had gotten a little lost in his thoughts because he was startled when the door next to him opened and John stood there, a look of surprise mirroring how Sherlock felt.
"Uh," John said awkwardly. "Hi."
"Uhm, yes. Hi," Sherlock greeted just as awkwardly. "I was just, uh. Wanted to see if Mrs. Hudson had some, uh. Sugar. That I could borrow. For my, uh. Coffee." Well, that had been eloquent.
"Oh. Yeah. Okay." John moved out of Sherlock's way, stepping to the side. Sherlock slipped past him, exchanged a greeting with Mrs. Hudson, grabbed his sugar, then turned back to see John was staring at him. Sherlock froze for a moment, the conversation he'd just overheard still ringing in his ears, before he ducked back past the doctor and out the door. He heard John follow him, the slight click of the door latching seeming to ring in the silence that followed. Unable to handle it any longer, Sherlock turned to face his friend and looked him straight in the eye.
It was dark in the hallway, John's face only lit by the small amount of light peeking from behind Mrs. Hudson's door. But Sherlock could see the weight of the conversation with their landlady was still hanging on John.
"John, I, ah," Sherlock started, not quite sure how to go about this. "Thank you. For your... for your help. Tonight. I, ah. I really appreciate it."
John blinked once, as if he weren't sure he had heard the detective quite right. And then he smiled. "You're welcome, Sherlock."
Sherlock returned the smile, satisfied by the response to realize he'd done the right thing. He watched as John turned, still smiling, to walk up to their flat. Sherlock didn't understand a lot of things about John. But John was the only person who had ever so willingly risked his life for Sherlock. It did mean a lot to Sherlock. And, he supposed, John needed to know that.
A/N: I love reviewers and live for constructive criticism!