Icarus Burning

Chapter 7

Kiss With a Fist

Time slows down.

Rather, time appears to slow down. Sherlock knows that this phenomenon is actually the amygdala storing extra sets of denser memories due to the incredible amount of adrenaline coursing through his body at the unexpected sight of his best friend. Here. In Barcelona.

He no longer sees the crowd in his peripheral vision, no longer feels the ground beneath his scraped palms – every sense narrows and focuses until he can only see John. The last time Sherlock had seen him, he had been staring down the barrel of his gun in a wintry graveyard. For a wild moment Sherlock wonders if this is not also a dream. Or a nightmare.

John's eyes are hard and ablaze with energy, his mouth set firmly in a no-nonsense line. With an effort, Sherlock wrenches his gaze away from John's face to the hand that is thrust toward him. The knuckles on his proffered hand are red from where they had impacted Sherlock's potential captor. It is this observation that snaps Sherlock back to reality.

They are in danger.

The man with the gun is still unconscious in the bushes, but his backup will be making their way toward them, no doubt well-armed. While they have been commanded to bring Sherlock back with them alive, he doubts they would have similar instructions for John. No, they will kill him.

It occurs to him that, in all of the scenarios that he had anticipated and mentally prepared for, he had failed to account for the possibility that John would somehow find him. Because it was simply not possible. He can't be here. And yet, there he is. I have to get him out of here.

Time lurches back into real time, mere seconds having passed since he and John locked eyes.

And then time speeds up.

Sherlock ignores the startled gasps and murmurs of the pedestrians around them, their wary gazes travelling over John and the man sprawled in the shrubs. His hand flashes forward and seizes John's, who tugs him quickly to his feet again. Instead of relinquishing his grasp, Sherlock laces their fingers, throwing a brief glance over his shoulder at the two men pushing their way through the crowd around the fountain. He turns back to John, who is looking a bit startled now, and commands in a tone that comes out harsher and a little more breathless than intended,

"Run."

Without waiting for John to reply, Sherlock runs, dragging his doctor behind him as they weave through the crowd. Sherlock deliberately knocks over a young man who fails to get out of the way and is pleased when he looks over his shoulder to see that one of their pursuers has tripped over him in his haste. But the other has taken out a gun and is aiming it in their direction as they reach the top of the stairs leading down to the street.

Sherlock yanks John hard to the left just as the crack of the shot rips through the air over the sound of the music from the fountain that continues to sweep on epically in the background. There are screams in the crowd, which has come to life at the sight of the armed man and churns as people attempt to flee. But Sherlock doesn't look back again.

He is frantically thinking through all of the possible escape routes, taking the stairs two at a time, his hand like a vice on John's, who clasps his hand back equally hard. Just as they are almost at the bottom of the stairs, he spies the bus. The last few tourists are just climbing aboard when they reach it and Sherlock launches the pair of them on board right before the doors close behind them with a hiss of air.

Sherlock fumbles in his pocket for his metro card and passes it through the scanner twice, his breath coming in great gasps and his heart pounding so hard it almost hurts. The family seated near the back doors glares at them with fascination for a moment and then resume their conversation in Catalan.

As his breathing evens out and the bus lumbers forward, Sherlock steadies himself on one of the railings above him. For a moment, he just stands there breathing, but then his pulse picks up again when the calloused hand he is still holding squeezes his own.

John.

He hesitates for a moment before turning to face the former soldier. John's face is flushed from the excitement and the exercise, breathing heavily through his mouth and staring at Sherlock with wide, unwavering eyes. The knuckles on his right hand are white where they wrap around the pole by the doors they had just come through.

As Sherlock watches, John shuts his eyes tightly, breathes through his nose until his breathing has quieted, and then opens them again. They bore into Sherlock and he takes note of an infinitesimal quiver in his mouth just before he presses his lips into a firm line.

They say nothing for the entire ride.

Sherlock does not relinquish John's hand, feeling like it is the only thing tethering him to reality at the moment. It is too much, suddenly, all of it. His thoughts come hard and fast, the vertigo induced by the power of his own mind threatening to send him spinning off the deep end, much as he'd done back when he'd been using in his late 20's. To focus himself, he sets to the task of analysing John, all the while the bus rumbles along, making its occasional stops to let passengers off and on.

He's thinner – much too thin. He used to be so… solid. He hasn't been eating. And here I was making sure that I ate for him! That's a fairly new jumper, probably a present from Mrs Hudson, and he's already swimming in it – oh God! John's birthday! I missed it, that's right… His trousers are wrinkled from sitting for too long. Not a plane to get here then – a train.

He rakes his eyes over the doctor, finally coming back up to his dark blue eyes that are still trained on Sherlock's face. Sherlock has a hard time figuring out exactly what that look is in John's eyes. He had thought he would see anger or resentment, but it's really more like… fear.

Are you afraid of me, John? Sherlock thinks the words but does not ask them, cocking his head slightly to one side. What are you afraid of? His eyes. He hasn't slept a whole night through for… at least three weeks. Nightmares. Are you dreaming of me, too, John?

Sherlock finds that he can't look at his friend anymore and he closes his eyes when the memory of his nightmare comes to the surface of his mind like a spectre: John standing by his tombstone with gun outstretched and hatred in his eyes.

This wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to have time to come up with a plan. There was going to be a plan! He wasn't supposed to find out this way. Though, if he's here, he must have found out another way. Mycroft, fucking Mycroft, no doubt. He always ruins everything! Oh God, I've ruined everything. He hates me. Or if he doesn't, he will. He will hate me. I can't – I couldn't bear it if… It's too much, all of it. Too much. I missed you. God, I missed you so much, John.

John's hand squeezes his again and Sherlock clenches his jaw before opening his eyes to look at him again. John's eyes are filled with a look of concern now and Sherlock is dumbstruck when John takes his other hand and raises it slowly to wipe a finger gently across Sherlock's cheek, startling Sherlock by wiping away a tear he hadn't even realised he'd shed. For a few seconds, John's finger lingers on Sherlock's cheek, a spot of warmth that pierces through months of loneliness and cold.

Sherlock can't bear it any longer. He hauls John toward him with a sudden tug, letting go of his hand to clasp the doctor desperately to his chest. His hand cradles the back of John's head as the smaller man wraps his arms roughly around Sherlock's torso, burying his face in his shoulder and clutching at him as if he never has any designs to let go again. Pressing into the top of John's head, Sherlock inhales the comfortingly familiar scent of his best friend. All of the thoughts running through Sherlock's brain stop spinning and come back instead to the one word, repeated over and over:

John.

xoxoxoxox

John doesn't remember the journey back at the dormitory.

He realises that they must have gotten off of the bus at some point to switch onto the subway, because he can vaguely recall the automated feminine voice calling out, "Proxima estaciòn… Vall d'Hebron." The ache in his legs and feet speak of their long trek through side streets and past the football fields at the bottom of the hill by the dorm. All of that is a blur. The only part that John remembers of the evening, in any real sense, is Sherlock.

He hadn't been able to wait patiently in the room for Sherlock to come back. After pacing back and forth, twisting his coat in his hands and glaring at Sherlock's handwriting in the book for several minutes, he knew that if he didn't get to see him as soon as damn well possible, he would go positively mad. The coat wasn't enough proof; he'd had to see him with his own eyes.

After disembarking from the train in Montjuïc, it hadn't been very hard to find the fountain. The sky was lit up around the building behind it like the runway at an airport, guiding John to his destination. He had been surprised by the sheer amount of people who had come to see a bloody fountain, but as he neared it, he was able to see that it wasn't just any fountain.

The show had already started when he'd begun climbing the stairs, and he noted that they were playing the theme from The Fellowship of the Ring, but John wasn't looking at the colourful swirls of water leaping into the air; he was busy examining the crowd for the familiar shock of messy black curls. He hadn't really given much thought as to why Sherlock would come to such a spot, but if he was there, then he was determined to find him.

And he did.

After snaking through the multitude, his heart leapt as he first took in the dark hair, then the high cheekbones, and then everything else fell into place. He'd been standing on the outside of the courtyard, , the fountain throwing colourful shadows across the severe planes of his face, arms crossed over his chest and a very Sherlock-like sneer on his face.

He wasn't sure what he'd expected to feel when he'd finally get to see Sherlock again. Over the last few weeks, John had run through the entire spectrum of human emotion; unmitigated sorrow, betrayal, hope, elation, desperation, and anger... All of it building up to that moment when he spotted Sherlock on the periphery of the courtyard and convalescing into a truth so blinding and shocking that his mind reeled with the force of what he actually felt upon seeing Sherlock again: love.

He loves him.

Until that moment, he'd had no idea.

Before he was able to properly process this, a man had come up behind Sherlock and placed a hand down hard on his shoulder. From where he was, John could just make out the flash of metal as the man pressed a gun into Sherlock's lower back.

At that point, John's emotions had been shut off and effectively tucked away as he switched into soldier-mode. Before he'd really known what was happening, he had punched an armed man and was running after Sherlock like they had all those months ago when they'd fled from the police.

Upon making their escape onto the bus, he was finally able to return to normal. He squeezed his eyes shut and switched from John Watson, RAMC, back to John Watson, flatmate and tea-enthusiast.

Neither of them talked, which was just as well, because John was at a loss for what to say. He tried to keep the tremor out of the hand that clasped so tightly onto Sherlock's. That hand was so warm, real, and blessedly alive. He watched the detective's stony face as it swept over him, no doubt deducing every detail of John's existence over the last few months.

While Sherlock conducted his silent observations, John's heart shuddered back to life. It made so much sense now, everything. He loves Sherlock and probably has for a very long time. Everyone knew it. Irene Adler had known it. Mycroft, Lestrade, Angelo… anybody who read the ruddy paper or his blog probably suspected. Everyone had known but John. And perhaps Sherlock. But then Sherlock knew everything, so he probably knew as well.

Shocking John out of his reverie, Sherlock had closed his eyes and frightened John by shedding a single tear. John had seen Sherlock cry before; great crocodile tears for some conniving purpose or another. But this. This was different. This was real.

He hadn't been able to stop himself from reaching out to brush it away. The next thing he knew, Sherlock was hugging him. Hugging him! Sherlock's arms around him were the last things that felt real to John in their journey back to the dormitory.

He had followed after Sherlock at that point like a shadow, lost in thought. Sherlock did not take his hand again, and John longed for the reassuring pressure of his fingers in his, but he didn't dare. The scenery passed by, but John's eyes were fixed on the dark hair curling against the pale neck as Sherlock marched ahead.

Finally, they reached the safe house, going in a back way that John hadn't been through yet but arriving at the same room he had already been to that afternoon.

As John closes the door behind them, Sherlock finally speaks.

"John."

When John turns to look back into the dark room, he is startled to find that Sherlock is standing right behind him. Sherlock had never been much for personal boundaries, but after months of solitude, John is no longer accustomed to having him so close.

Sherlock is standing with his hands clasped behind his back, his shoulders squared and his jaw clenched in a hard line. His eyes are like quicksilver in the moonlight that comes in through the window, piercing through John in a way that sends a shiver down his spine. John is still unsure of what to say, so he clears his throat and gruffly replies,

"Sherlock."

"What are you waiting for?"

His question catches John off guard. Waiting? He has no idea what Sherlock is talking about. Sherlock must be able to read as much in his expression because he soon says in a resigned tone,

"Go on; give me your best shot."

John is taken aback, it's so completely not what he had expected. He thinks I'm going to hit him. And he's going to let me. John thinks in amazement before sighing wearily. He brushes past Sherlock and walks farther into the room, turning to face him with another sigh.

"I'm not going to punch you, Sherlock."

Sherlock faces him with the same impassive expression.

"I've gone through every possible scenario and the only situation that would allow us to return to normal as quickly as possible is if you were to punch me and get it all out of the way with now."

"That's completely mental."

This was not how John had thought their first conversation would go. His is still feeling weary after their escape and not quite like himself, but it's Sherlock who is acting truly strange.

"Just punch me," Sherlock grinds out through gritted teeth, taking a step closer to John until he's once again a little bit too close.

"No. This is stupid, Sherlock, we should just get -"

He is cut off when Sherlock shoves him suddenly hard in the chest, thrusting him backwards. John is unable to stop the automatic anger that flares up then. Suddenly the haze he'd wandered through since getting off the bus lifts and he finds that he is rather pissed off. He knows that he is playing into Sherlock's hands by getting riled up, but that only makes him even more mad.

Sherlock is waiting for the punch when John throws it, catching him on the side of his face with a tremendous cracking sound. Sherlock stumbles, but John isn't through yet.

He launches himself at Sherlock, seizing him by the shoulder and moving him backward until he is pinned against the wall with a thud. He braces his forearm across Sherlock's shoulders so he cannot move, but the detective makes no motion to escape. He peers down at the seething doctor with determination and John brings his face dangerously close before hissing,

"There is no 'normal' for us, Sherlock."

Then, without thinking, without considering the possible repercussions, without even bothering to resist… John seals Sherlock's mouth in an angry kiss.

It lasts for only a moment, a harsh pressure of lips on lips, and then John wrenches away, releasing Sherlock from the wall. John's chest still heaves with anger and he glowers at Sherlock unapologetically.

Sherlock's hands are braced on either side of him, his hair dishevelled and a blossom of pink distinguishable on his cheek from where John hit him as he stares at John with narrowed eyes. John can practically see the cogs spinning in his brain as they glare at one another.

It is John's turn to be surprised when Sherlock pushes himself forcefully off of the wall and strides across the short distance between them…

And kisses him.


Author's Note: The long awaited reunion! I'm terribly sorry that it took so long for me to finally upload this chapter. I had midterms and I decided to take my time to make sure I was satisfied with this instead of churning out something half-assed. Things are starting to pick up pace and I wanted to do it right.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Send me a review and let me know what you think. ^_^