Author's Note: This fic. I don't even know what to say about this one. I had this idea the other night, and this was it. It may end up reading a little bit ridiculous and OOC, but everyone has their moments, right? Point is, it's a bit funny and I like it. That's what really matters, right? Hope you like it as much as I do. I'm quite fond of it, actually.
The SUV was over-heating. John knew that way before it had actually begun to do so. The amount of stress, the model of the car, the burning smell that had started faint... all signs had pointed to it. "Sherlock, we need to go back." he said, for the millionth time it seemed.
"We've already come this far, John. Besides, if we go back now, we've wasted the trip." Sherlock replied.
"Sherlock, we're in the middle of nowhere."
"Hardly my fault. Perhaps we should insist the illegal weapon dealer move closer to the city line?" he retorted, his voice dripping in sarcasm.
John tensed his jaw, looking out the window. Nothing but frozen tundra seemed to spread as far as his eyes could see. Miles and miles of snow and ice, a sea of it almost. The sun was beginning to set over the Latvian wasteland. Darkness was beginning to fall. "We should definitely go back." John said once again. "Weather is forecasting snow tonight."
"The sooner we get this case handled, the sooner we make the trip home. I'd rather prefer we get this inquisition done tonight. We've almost cracked it-this man, this dealer..." Sherlock took a deep breath, "He's the last bit of information we need."
It was an international case. Not usually the type that Sherlock took, but it was at the request of Mycroft. A man, some government official, had been gunned down while vacationing. Though no one could come up with any forseeable reason-the man had been a desk worker mostly, with little power over anything of any value to the common criminal. Sherlock had-at first-refused it. But something had piqued his interest. What it had been, John wasn't sure. But he was there, in Latvia, in the middle of winter, and assisting Sherlock in the only way he knew how.
"We're going to get stranded." he said with a shake of his head.
"John, I'm going to ask you nicely to stop talking."
John's eyebrows raised. "Oh? I'm waiting."
Sherlock didn't reply.
John sighed, resting his forehead against the glass of the window. The sun was falling quicker now, the sky becoming an inky black. He pulled out his phone, hoping for a distraction from the nerves that seemed to be settling into his stomach. Instead, he found a little red signal. "My phone's dying." he mumbled.
"Hm?" Sherlock asked.
"My phone." John said again. "The battery. It's dying."
"Oh no!" Sherlock's voice went up an octave as he spoke, "Now you won't be able to update your twitter feed!"
"No, you prat, it means if we get stuck out here, we'll be stranded for sure." John's patience was wearing thin. He knew Sherlock's phone had no reception where they were. They'd checked it just outside of the city, and he'd already had problems. They'd been relying, of course, on making it to their final destination before the sun had set. Now that John's battery was running low... He sighed. All he wanted was a nice cup of tea and a warm shower.
The smell of burning oil was becoming stronger.
"Sherlock, turn back."
"We aren't turning back. We're practically there."
"You haven't the faintest idea where we are!"
"I know exactly where we are."
John's jaw tightened. He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose. Convincing Sherlock to do anything was similar to attempting to convince a wall of such. At least the wall may take an opportunity to listen. There was a tense silence hovering in the air. It was broken only by John's groan as the first snowflake landed on the windshield. "Fantastic." he said.
"John." Sherlock said patiently.
"No, Sherlock. No. It's snowing now." John lamented. "Snowing. I told you it would start snowing."
"It's a single flake. It indicates nothing."
That was when the car began to rattle. The smell of burning oils was overwhelming. The needle of the car's temperature had fluxed quite quickly, having been inching for a long while. It was red. Both men looked to the hood of the car, where smoke was beginning to rise from the cracks. Sherlock's jaw tightened as he pulled over to the side of the road. He twisted the key, allowing the engine to sputter to a stop. The men were silent. John was seething. He opened his mouth, preparing to verbally abuse Sherlock in ways that only he could, when Sherlock held up his hand for silence. "John, if you even... think... of uttering one word of a derogatory nature." he hissed. "You will not live to see the morning. Are we clear?"
John's eyebrows shot up into his hairline. "Excuse me, who-Are you serious?"
The muscles in Sherlock's face were twitching. John watched as his upper lip and nose seemed to jump involuntarily. Sherlock's eyes closed quite slowly and he let a shuddering breath escape him. John reconsidered the argument he was about to start. Perhaps, in that moment, Sherlock would've been serious about his demise.
Sherlock swung the door open, fighting his seat-belt off as he stepped out of the car. The snow had begun falling harder, cascading down in large flakes. John looked on as Sherlock walked around to the front of the car. He wrapped his coat around him tighter, flipping his collar up over his neck. Quickly, he stuck his hands beneath the hood, flipping the latches and lifting it upright. John could only make out the cloud of smoke that came billowing out, spewing in every which direction, up into the starry night.
He sighed as he slipped out of the car. A breeze was blowing, pressing the flakes of ice against his skin. He tramped around to stand beside Sherlock, who was staring into the engine of the car. "Any ideas?" John asked after a moment of silence.
"Cars aren't quite my area." Sherlock murmured. "Something burned. Obviously, the vast amount of smoke told us that." he exhaled sharply, shaking his head. "Phone Mycroft. Instruct him to send towing services."
"Right." John said. He slipped his phone from his pocket, tapping the side button quickly to reveal the dim screen. "Oh. Oh. Shit." he grumbled. Sherlock's eyebrows furrowed curiously. "What?"
"My phone. I was saying this just a few minutes ago Sherlock. The battery is dying. I can't make calls."
Sherlock's jaw tensed. He swallowed as his hand dived into his coat pocket. Just as they'd figured, upon looking at the screen, Sherlock's phone had no reception. Sherlock took a deep breath through his nose and held it in his lungs. "So, what now?" John asked after a tense moment of silence.
The snow was beginning to fall more. John watched as Sherlock's eyes flickered over the burned engine, could almost see Sherlock sifting through filing cabinets of information and resources in his mind. He looked down the road both ways, but darkness met him. "It looks as though," he said, "We wait."
John looked disbelievingly. "We wait? For what?"
"For another car to pass. Tracks on the road indicate that this isn't a road as untraveled as it seems." Sherlock said with certainty, pointing to the ground. "Which then assumes that someone will be passing, in either direction. At which point we'll have to flag them down, and-though it pains me to say-ask for assistance. Perhaps just enough to contact Mycroft..." he said thoughtfully.
"So we wait." John affirmed.
Sherlock nodded, making his way back around to the driver's seat. John followed suit, and both men slid back into their respective seats. They were silent for a moment before John thoughtfully asked, "Heating doesn't work then, does it?"
Sherlock shook his head, "Engine isn't running, heating won't run."
They were silent again. The snow fell steady then, the temperature was dropping down enough so that it began sticking to the windshield. John sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. The chill from outside was beginning to creep in through the cracks of the car.
Every so often, one of the men (they'd decided to take turns) would quickly dash outside to clear the windshields. They'd need the visual to know if anyone was coming down the road. But the air was bitter cold, and each time they were forced to open the door, the chill would seep in just a little faster.
It wasn't long before John found himself quite cold. He sneaked a glance at Sherlock, who was himself beginning to shiver just slightly. "There aren't any cars passing." John noted.
"Road's probably been closed until morning. Weather conditions." Sherlock replied somberly.
"Can they do that on a road like this?"
"I'm certain the type of road isn't quite the question they ask themselves."
John huffed in disbelief. "So now what?"
"Plan hasn't changed."
"We... we're just going to sit in this car and wait for something to happen?"
"Have you any better ideas, John?" Sherlock's head pivoted to face him. "We're unsure of how far the next home is. It could be miles. I suppose, in the circumstances, we could attempt to walk to the closest place that may have civilization, but there's currently a snow storm in progress." His eyes were sharp and bright, illuminated against his skin. "If you'd rather risk the travel in this weather, than feel free to do so. However, this car is currently shelter, and I'd rather not abandon it."
His voice was quick, cutting through the air like a freshly sharpened butchers knife. John didn't say anything. Instead he simply nodded, drawing his coat tighter around him. Sherlock's focus was back out the window once again.
"We're going to freeze." John murmured after a while of pure nothing.
"We aren't going to freeze." Sherlock countered.
"No, we are. Scientifically, if we stay in this condition, we will begin to freeze. This car will turn into an icebox, and we will be bits of meat inside of it."
Sherlock inhaled deeply. John watched him once again, fascinated each time Sherlock became entranced in thought. He waited, noting the way Sherlock's eyes seemed to dance over each and every square inch of matter in front of him. Finally, he turned to look at John. "You're a military man. You know what we have to do."
John squinted suspiciously.
"We have to conserve our body heat." Sherlock said simply. He turned, glancing at the backseat and nodding to himself before climbing over the center panel into the back. He was working with the back of the seat, pulling and looking over into the back. "You know as well as I do the best way to keep warm in situations like this is to share body heat with someone." The back of the seat finally gave, flipping down just over their few belongings. He turned back to find John staring blankly at him. He rolled his eyes. "Do remember your training John. It's common knowledge."
"No, no. I know it's common knowledge. I understand that bit." John replied, "I don't know how comfortable I'm going to be cuddling with you, I'll be honest."
Sherlock gave him a look. "Am I not good enough to cuddle with, John?"
John furrowed his eyebrows, laughing in disbelief. "The thought hadn't crossed my mind. I just wasn't sure you understood the concept of cuddling."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Technically, it isn't cuddling. This is for science, pure and simple. No, it's not even about science." His eyes were sharp again. "This is for survival. We need to stay warm. Individually, we won't be enough. Together, we'll act as heating mechanisms for each other."
"They say it works better if you take your clothes off." John added, giggling beneath his breath.
Sherlock's face was serious. "I'm delighted you're finding our situation amusing John, but you may be of more use if you took it a bit more seriously."
"I'm being serious. That's what I learned. It's more effective if you're directly, body-to-body with someone. Heat transfers easier and more rapidly." he replied. The two stared at one another, both pondering the exact question-Is he going to strip?
John clambered into the backseat slowly, sitting beside Sherlock. "It's all a matter of preference. We'll be warmer if we strip a bit, but we'll still stay warm enough if we huddle." John explained. He decided, then, that he'd make the first call. He unzipped his coat, pulling it off quickly. "Way I see it, we may as well do it properly." he replied to Sherlock's confused face. "I'm not taking off my pants, but if we're looking to stay warm, the best way to do so is skin-to-skin."
Sherlock cocked an eyebrow, watching as John quickly stripped off his jumper. "You make it sound so... inappropriate." Sherlock said.
John glared at him. "I'm no more pleased about it then you, but someone not a million miles away found it necessary to continue, even though I kept saying we needed to turn back." he snapped. He fumbled momentarily, hands beginning to quake with a new wave of anger, but he calmed himself. Becoming upset at Sherlock wouldn't do either of them any good. He concentrated on his buttons.
There was an awkward silence that hung in the air as the two men stripped their shirts. The only sound that could be heard was the rustling of clothing, both being stripped off as well as being replaced. For both men had taken it upon themselves to put their coats back on over their naked torsos. For a moment, the two sat uncomfortably, their backs pressed against the opposite doors. They stared at one another.
"It works better if we actually huddle together." Sherlock said finally.
"Right." John agreed.
Neither moved. Both were shivering.
It was Sherlock who moved back to the center of the flat-laid seat. "Come on then. We'll freeze if we don't." he muttered, positioning himself to comfortably lay down. John hesitated for only a moment more before pushing himself closer to Sherlock. Silently, he laid down beside him. It took him a few tries to scoot as close as he possibly could. However, he stayed laying on his back. Both men did.
"We aren't properly utilizing one another, are we." Sherlock said after a moment of silence.
John giggled. "No, no I don't believe so."
"Are we so childish that we can't muster up the ability to hug one another?" Sherlock asked, laughing as well.
"I wouldn't put it past us." John smirked.
They looked at one another, then John sighed, turning onto his side. He held his arm out, as though looking for a hug, and gestured with his fingers. "Come on then. We're both adults." he said. Sherlock exhaled quietly as he turned over to his side as well. John allowed his arm to tumble over Sherlock's waist. He pulled him closer, Sherlock's body pressing itself against John's.
It was a shock.
Sherlock's skin was smooth. He hadn't expected that. Sherlock draped his coat over John, nestling closer to him. "You are quite warm." he muttered. His body wasn't as stiff as John had expected. He could feel as Sherlock's arm slipped out of the sleeve of his coat. It found itself beneath John's jacket, sliding itself over John's bare waist and squeezing against his bare back.
Sherlock's breathing was slow and warm. John felt it against his chest. Sherlock had wrapped himself in John as much as he possibly could, having even slipped a leg between John's-though, John assumed, that was purely out of necessity, as the space available for Sherlock's legs was limited.
They were quiet. The warmth of one another's bodies had lulled them into a comfort neither had thought they'd find. John was tempted to mimic Sherlock's hold of him, to slip his arm beneath Sherlock's long overcoat and feel his spine. It alarmed him for a moment, but he wasn't going to think on it for too long. After all, it was cold and he hadn't held anyone so close in a while. Perhaps, he reasoned, it was instinctive to want to touch Sherlock in the ways he might touch a lover. He did care for Sherlock, more than he ever thought he would've. Hell, he loved him. But how?
John gulped quietly.
In the backseat of a broken down car in a Latvian snow-storm wasn't the time to think of such things.
"Sherlock, what if a car comes by?" he murmured. He let his eyes travel down to Sherlock's head. It was tucked just in the crook of his neck. "No cars will come by right now." Sherlock mumbled.
"You don't think so?"
He felt Sherlock's head move from side to side. "No. I'm almost certain that they've sent out warnings, told people to keep off the streets. They do in almost every country-no one would want to deal with the repercussions of people's horrid driving." Sherlock muttered. John couldn't help studying the way each word felt against his skin.
"Are you comfortable, John?" Sherlock asked quite suddenly.
John nodded, his chin delicately bumping Sherlock's head as he did so. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm fine, Sherlock."
"We may have to sleep this way."
"I could think of worse things."
Both of them grew quiet after that. John listened to Sherlock's breathing for a long while, until it had grown slow enough and steady enough to indicate that Sherlock had, in fact, fallen asleep. And once that normally impossible task had come to a close, he too found himself drifting off in a pleasant warmth.
The next morning, John woke with a start. He shot upright, feeling unfamiliar and groggy. He looked around. The sun was up. He wasn't nearly as cold as he had been the night before. Sherlock was missing. His eyes darted around the car, confusion and terror welling up into his chest.
He was struggling to get out of his coat, sleep still clouding his head, when someone knocked on the rear windshield. John jumped, whirling around quickly. It was Sherlock.
"Dick!" John yelled. Sherlock was wearing a smirk. He gave two uncharacteristic thumbs up, then held up a familiar object. Though John knew Sherlock was holding his phone, he involuntarily patted his coat pockets. "Why do you have my phone?" he called through the window. He watched as Sherlock took long strides to the drivers side of the car and flung open the door. "John, you never told me you packed your computer." he said.
"I... I did. Yes, I did. I didn't trust the hotel."
"You have the USB chord that came with your mobile packed away with it."
"Well, of course but..." he trailed off, the thought suddenly striking him. "You charged my phone using my laptop." he said, grabbing up his shirt.
"Drained the battery of the laptop, but it gave your phone enough of a charge to last us." Sherlock replied, glancing down at the phone in his hand. "So now we have a car coming for us. A reliable one. I'm going to finish up this case, and we're going to be on the next flight back to London." He was chipper, excited even. John wasn't used to seeing him in such a state.
"Are you alright?" he asked cautiously, sliding his shirt back over his arms. He did up the buttons quickly. Sherlock was smiling to himself, flipping the phone over in his hand. He looked thoughtful, his bottom lip tucked up under his teeth. "Yes. I'm very alright. I'd even venture on calling myself refreshed." he said with an affirmative nod.
John slipped his jumper back over his head. "Slept well then?" John asked.
Sherlock's head turned quickly. His eyes darted over John's body, then ventured back to his face. Then he looked back to John's phone in his hands. "Erm... yes, actually." he said, his tone both surprised and quiet. "Quite well, if we're being honest."
John nodded, slowly clambering back into the front seat. He flopped into it with a sigh. "Right. Well, if we're being honest, then..." he trailed off, lips pursed in thought momentarily. "Me too."
Sherlock turned, facing him once again. There were words building up in both of them, John could feel them sitting in his chest, waiting anxiously to burst from his mouth. The cogs in Sherlock's mind were reeling, John could see it in his eyes. Sherlock licked his lips, opening his mouth to speak when a black, unmarked town car rolled to a stop beside them.
"Ah. Our car. Let's grab our things." Sherlock said instead, slipping from the seat. John sat for a moment longer, contemplative. Would Sherlock have admitted it was the touch of another person that had allowed him proper sleep? Could it have been John himself that had "refreshed" Sherlock Holmes? It looked as though he'd never know. John sighed, hiding the desire of revelation he'd become engulfed in before wrenching open the door and heading to the back of the car.