A/N - Obviously this is a companion piece to Three Cases, Three Sherlocks. However, one is not dependent on the other. Once again thanks to ScopesMonkey. Eight days!
Warning - This story can cause dental cavities.
Disclaimer - I just borrow; I don't own.
The Cases, Three Johns.
"Now," comes John's voice through the cacophony of panic. I'm relieved to hear it, but know from the forceful tone that something is wrong. I wind through the crowd and am just stepping around the ambulance when he speaks again.
"Sherlock?" I hear the concern and wonder if it is apparent to anyone else. I doubt it. I doubt anyone else spends as much time studying the intricacies of John's voice as I do. "Sherlock?" he calls again.
I move around several paramedics working hectically on one victim and spot John on the ground. He's kneeling next to a young man, his arms locked as he puts weight on the man's abdomen. I can see blood staining the white towel and beginning to seep through John's fingers. The sight of blood on John stutters through my chest and I pause. I know that it is not his, but rational thought often abandons me where John is concerned.
He's speaking to the injured man; although I cannot hear John's words, I know that he is offering him comfort. I can see tension, a certain stiffness in the small compact body that I've become so familiar with. It is not looking good for this young man.
John looks up again, his concern for locating me - even though I could not possibly have been harmed - conflicting with his inherent need to doctor. "Sher-" he starts but spots me. A relieved smile crosses his face. He nods and turns back to the young man, giving his patient his full attention.
I take a moment to look around, examine the after effects of the explosion. The front of the bank is gone, but the structure of the building still looks stable. The Bandit is dead though, of that I am certain. The fire brigade will find his body when they start sorting through the building. He would not be taken alive. I suspected as much when I started the investigation.
It is over though and no one else will get hurt. A movement from John catches my attention and I look back to him. He's sitting back on his heels, his face deflated. I know that his patient has died. I take a step towards him and he grabs a random piece of debris off the ground as he stands, throwing it violently away from the crowd.
"Fuck," he says and I stop moving. He takes a deep breath, releases it slowly, and then nods. He looks towards me again with a mix of emotions on his face and I close the distance between us. We don't touch here, neither of us comfortable displaying affection in public.
"I'm sorry," I say. I am regretful that this man lost his life, but more so for John. He will question himself over this death, doubt his abilities. I believe it's hard for him to imagine losing patients while in the luxury of London when he managed to save so many during the horror of war. I'm not certain though, and he will not speak of it.
"You're all right?" he asks after a moment and I nod. I won't state that it should be obvious, I was nowhere near the blast sight and he knew that.
"As are you," I state and he meets my eyes. The look confirms that he's physically fine. He looks around at the crowd a moment before glancing at the young man lying near us. I know that he's committing what little he can about this man to his memory. He nods again and moves towards the ambulance, grabbing several sanitizing wipes from a kit and wiping the blood off his hands before tossing them on the ground. It's not like John to litter, but with the rest of the rubble surrounding us, it's hardly noticeable.
He jerks his head towards the partially demolished building. "What about the asshole?" he demands. Since The Bandit started referring to himself in letters to the newspaper with the capitalized italicized spelling John has called him anything but.
"They will find him dead," I say. "As he said himself, he wouldn't be caught."
John nods again then looks back to the man lying on the ground. An officer has just covered him with a blanket. John glances back at the building.
"Good riddance," John mumbles then turns back to the blanket. "I wish we found him sooner."
It understand that this is not an accusation against me. He doesn't believe that I could have done more. He blames himself for this man's death - himself and The Bandit. I watch him for another moment before resting my hand on his shoulder. He flinches at the contact and looks at me.
"We can give our statements tomorrow." I let my hand drop and turn slightly. "Let's go home."
He nods, glancing back at the body, and then moves. His hand brushes mine as he passes me and I'm tempted to weave my finger through his. Perhaps in the cab and certainly when we get back to the flat.
He'll insist on showering and I'll join him. I'll stand still while he meticulously moves his fingers over my skin checking each scrape and scar. He'll brush along my ribs inspecting the bones - he's done this since last year when I broke two and didn't mention it to him. When he has verified that I am indeed perfectly fine, we'll climb out of the shower and we'll take turns drying each other off.
The limp may or may not appear as he makes his way to the bedroom, it's not consistent in its appearances. John will put on his soft, worn cotton pyjama bottoms and climb into bed. When he has settled I'll climb in beside him, straddle his hips, and begin to work my fingers through his tight muscles. He'll try to shake me off, insisting that it isn't necessary, but I'll continue. I will listen and note every groan and moan and the feeling of every muscle as it loosens under my touch. I will continue after sleep has taken him because it prevents the nightmares. It keeps the demons away.
He looks over his shoulder again as we move through the gathered crowd. I hear the siren from the ambulance as it starts to drive away from the scene.
John's scream penetrates the fog that has filled my head. I open my eyes - the room is red through the blood. I blink and it slowly starts to clear. My head is aching, but I push the realization away as irrelevant.
"DROP IT NOW!"
I turn in the direction of the voice and manage to make out the outline of John's back. He's between me and whoever he his yelling at. A blurry image of a hairy man comes to me along with something about an art theft. A case, I assume, but I can't make my mind bring up the details.
I open my mouth to say something to John, but his appearance stops me. His legs are spread slightly, his arms stretched in front of him. I can spot a shadow on the far wall and realize that he's holding a gun. The understanding that it might be dangerous to distract him keeps me quiet.
"NOW!" he screams louder.
"Your lover boy's ruined me," comes another voice I vaguely recognize but can't quite place. "I'll spare you if you let me kill him."
"I will shoot you," John says. "You'd be stupid if you think otherwise."
John always expects people to act on what little intelligence they have. It's ridiculous really and I've tried to explain that to him.
I lean back slightly from my position against the wall and try and see around John. I can see a figure standing across from him and a long shining silver object. A machete, I think at first but then realize it's a long sword.
I adjust my position and the swimming in my head makes me moan. "Sherlock?" John asks not turning or altering his stance in any way.
"Yes," I mumble, closing my eyes to keep the little stars from my vision.
"I'll kill you," says the other voice and I understand that his words are directed at me. I don't bother with a response.
"My head hurts," I say and John huffs. He obviously assumed as much. "And that man has a bloody fucking sword and based on his grip he knows how to use it."
"I noticed," John says. "I might have to shoot him."
"Do it already," I say, "so that I can take something for this blasted headache."
There's a grunt and the thief starts to run forward, hands rising as if preparing to swing. I tense, rationally knowing that John sees it coming, but unable to dispel the momentary panic of someone charging at my bedmate with a sword.
John doesn't shoot though, as I expected. He turns his body and moves forward, leading with his shoulder and charging into the large stranger. The man swings the sword down but John is no longer there. A second later John's shoulder hits his sternum and the thief collapses backwards, hitting the wall, the drywall buckling beneath him. The sword clangs to the ground and John straightens, looking down at the hole in the wall with a large man awkwardly sticking out of it.
John's holds the gun loosely at his side while examining the thief. When a disconcerted, pain-filled moan escapes him, a snarl crosses John's face. His body tenses as his left leg comes back and kicks forward hard into the man's side. He mumbles out a cry and John repeats the action before standing still and stoic.
I never doubt John's strength, but this man, this soldier, is so rarely seen that it always surprises me. The posture is perfect, the limbs stiff. He nods once as if accepting an order before turning and moving back across the room to me. His face is stoic for a moment before fear and concern appear.
"I don't remember," I say as his eyes start to move over my head.
"You have a concussion," he replies easily, brushing his fingers over my skull and making me nauseous. "I think that's it though," he says. "Does anywhere else hurt?"
The piercing blue eyes watching me are distracting as I do quick internal evaluation but I believe there's nothing else. "No," I say after a minute and he smiles.
"We'll get you to the A&E and get you stitches. You're going to have a hell of a headache for a few days. I actually think he hit you with that lead pipe over there. We're lucky it's just a concussion."
"Who is he?" I ask looking at the writhing blob on the floor.
"Owen Stevens, accountant by day, now failed art thief by night." Images started appearing in my head, along with something about his wife leaving him. I frown, trying to recall the details.
"They'll come back," John says as he leans over to place a kiss into my forehead. As if like magic the throbbing dulls and the room goes silent. I bask in the momentary sensation and sigh as John's lips leave my head and the pain starts to ease back in.
"I love you," I whisper, feeling tired and suddenly groggy. This man has just saved my life again and I wish for him to know that I am grateful.
He smiles brushing his thumb across my cheek bone. "I love you, too," he whispers. "But I'm not going to let you fall asleep so don't even try."
"Now," I hear John say as I step off the fire escape and onto the roof. He says something else, too quietly for me to hear. I'd been alarmed when I didn't immediately find him in the flat, but the window cracked open let me know that he'd gone outside.
He's sitting on several cinder blocks, folded in on himself against the cold. He has his phone against his ear and turns to look over his shoulder as I make my way towards him. I don't get the usual John smile and an annoying twinge of guilt penetrates my brain. I should have noticed there was something wrong before he left Scotland Yard. It should have been obvious and I was an idiot not to see it. My affection for John often hampers my ability to deduce things correctly about him.
"Listen, Bill, Sherlock just got home, I'll talk to you later." He listens for a moment and I cringe internally at the thought that he is speaking to Bill Murray on the phone. I detest that there's a part of John that is closed off to me and open to Bill Murray. I hate that there were people in his life before me.
I hate that I let him leave Scotland Yard without realizing that something else was wrong.
The case involved a RAF veteran who'd come back from Iraq injured. The man, Hadley, had no family, no friends, and was living in veteran's housing facility. He'd attempted to get several jobs, but without success. He had a new disability and a limited CV. He wasn't a surgeon like John, but the minimal similarities obviously upset my good doctor.
Bill Murray apparently says something else because John listens before ringing off. He watches my closing steps and then turns away to stare out into the night.
I squat down in front of him, and rest my arms across his thighs.
"You're not him," I say.
He shakes his head and doesn't look down at me. "I could have been, Sherlock, I was in a dark place. I thought—"
"You thought about hurting yourself, not about hurting others." He looks down at me then, curious as to how I knew it. I've always known it, since the second he walked into the lab at Bart's.
"Ryan Hadley was not a well person before the military. He was violent in his youth and that has carried on into adulthood. The post-war trauma only served to feed a psychosis that was already in place. You're a doctor, your inherent nature is to help, John, not hurt."
"I've murdered people," he whispers.
"You've killed people," I say. "There's a difference." He shakes his head and looks away again. I dig my thumb into his thigh and he winces slightly before looking back at me.
"I understand him," he says quietly. "I understand how he, why—"
"That's not because of your similarities. You've shown an amazing propensity for empathy. It can be dreadfully annoying."
He chuckles and looks past me again. The mood is broken though. The tension is leaving him. We're silent a long time before he speaks again.
"I wonder who I would have been if I hadn't met you," he says.
"If memory serves, I wouldn't have lived long if you hadn't come into my life." I pause and he looks at me again, a simple smile on his face.
"You'd have found a way. You're nothing if not resilient. Well – that and a genius." I smile up at him.
"But it would have been horribly boring." He laughs, tipping his head back as the sound fills the night. I move forward, sliding my hands up his thighs and around to his lower back. He shivers and I know it's from the cool evening air.
"I am sorry I didn't leave the Yard with you."
He shakes his head and brings his hands to my biceps.
"I should have asked you to come with me. You would have."
"I would have," I confirm. There is very little that I will deny this man.
"I just– I don't want to be a bother. I know the cases are important and—"
"You are important," I say, digging my fingers into his shirt on either side of his spine. There's doubt in his eyes and I'm astonished to see it. Shocked that he doubts his significance. I sit up slightly and place my lips against his. He is stiff for just a second before he kisses me in return.
"Let's go inside," I whisper when I pull away. He smiles again and nods. I intend to get him in the shower; that will help soothe the remaining tension from the muscles. And then we'll shag –hopefully that will ease the nightmares. I'm sure they'll come, but perhaps they won't be the terrors that so often strike him.
He nods and stands, half bringing me up with him. He wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me close. I go willingly and drop my arms across his shoulders.
"I didn't call Murray. He called me about something else entirely," he says, more than familiar with my jealous tendencies.
I smile, happier than I will ever admit to hear it.