A/N: Hello, my lovely fellow Sherlockians! I've had quite a few ideas sprinting around my head the past few months about Johnlock fanfiction, and I've finally written one out. So here 'tis: my first complete Johnlock fic! As I'm sure you'll quickly figure out, I am not British and I have not had this Brit-picked at all. Still, I hope you enjoy it. Rated teen for violence and mild slash.
There are a thousand ways to tell someone you love them.
Actually saying it, for instance. Letting the words "I love you" out from behind the pale prison of your lips. But as it turns out, vocalizing it in such a way is not always the most effective method of displaying affection. Depending on one's partner, such words can actually be detrimental.
So there are other ways.
Like suggesting an umbrella when your oblivious flatmate is about to go out in the pouring rain in nothing but a long coat.
Or just happening to decide to heat up water just before your medically-inclined flatmate returns home from work.
Not commenting when violin music wakes you up at 3 AM.
Actually picking up milk.
Accidentally knocking a very hot mug of tea straight into the lap of a naysayer.
Moving a molding experiment out of the vegetable drawer.
Or jumping in front of a bullet.
"John, he's heading down the next alley. I'll go around to cut him off. Keep him in sight!"
And he's gone. John sighs sharply but does as he's been told, pumping his legs and lungs to keep their latest pursuit in his range of vision. Just as Sherlock has foretold, the man veers right at the last moment, heading down a dark alley that smells almost exactly like the two-month-old pasta John had found in the fridge that morning.
Panting almost exclusively through his mouth now, John sprints just that little bit harder, beginning to close the gap between him and the criminal. He's just about to lunge when the man stops. John would go in for the tackle, but years of training and war have made him wary of any sudden surrender.
He's grateful for the instinct when the man - Markus Bender, a small-time thief who turned to murder - pivots around with a gun in his hand.
John takes a stumbling step back, hands lifted above his head. Instinctively, his gaze sweeps the rest of the alley for Sherlock. He sees nothing and isn't sure whether to be angry or relieved. He just hopes the detective doesn't try to enter dramatically and get himself shot.
"All right then, back up. Against the wall."
John nods, starting a slow backwards trek towards the dirtied brick somewhere to his left. He's hyper-aware of the handgun in his own pocket, but doesn't dare reach for it yet.
Where are you, Sherlock? Anytime now.But for God's sake, be careful.
"How'd you find me?"
It takes a moment for John to realize Markus is talking to him. His back is against the wall now; he can feel his heart beating against the cold bricks. It's a more than disconcerting sensation.
"We, um, we found your button."
There's a brief silence.
"We found your button. At her house. I mean, the woman you killed. At her house, you left a... button." His voice trails off as the gun travels closer to his nose.
"What do you mean, 'we?'"
"We, um, yes. Me and Scotland Yard."
Wrong answer, apparently. Though it does get the gun away from his face. "Scotland Yard? Are they here? Did you bring them?!"
John is pressing back against the wall, mind racing. "I, um, no. Of course not. They don't know I'm here, I didn't have time to tell them-"
Abruptly, the gun is at his temple.
"If they aren't on their way... tell me why I shouldn't just pull the trigger."
"Because, Markus, that would mean you'd have to deal with me, and I really don't think you want to do that."
Markus jerks as if burned, spinning around and pointing the gun at a very-suddenly-there Sherlock Holmes.
"Who are you? Where did you come from? How do you know my name?"
Sherlock raises a very unimpressed eyebrow.
"Generally, the idea is to ask a question at a time so the receiver may actually answer it. But since you're so eager... My name is Sherlock Holmes. I came from the same place you did, allegedly. And as for your name, well. We don't really have time for that. All you need to know is that I know everything about you and your crimes, and you really stand no chance against my associate and me. So please," and here there is a rather condescending glance towards his weapon, "put that thing down and come with us. You've nothing else to do, after all. Your partner is dead, your wife left you three days ago... Jail should be appealing."
That's it. John sees the man tense and knows Sherlock has gone too far. Markus pulls the gun up and sets his finger on the trigger. There's no time to think, no time to plan - there's only the gun and the shocked look on Sherlock's face as for once his words can't save him.
In the end, there's really no conscious choice at all.
John moves. The gun discharges at almost the precise moment he shoves his stupid detective to the ground. Somewhere in the back of his mind he feels a sudden pressure in his side, but it doesn't register at all. He grabs his own gun from his pocket and puts a round in Markus' chest before even taking a breath. The man collapses, gurgling.
Not even the doctor in John can find pity for the man as he turns to his friend. Sherlock is pushing himself off the ground, actually managing to look affronted.
"Are you all right?"
From the expression on the taller man's face, he's about to spout off some pretentious comment (probably about being none-too-gently shoved to the ground), but the words dissipate when he looks at John. The doctor himself frowns, noticing the sudden loss of color in his friend's face. He blinks as Sherlock seems to waver and wonders if Markus got lucky after all.
"Sherlock, are you hurt?"
His mouth opens as if to reply, but nothing comes out. John's becoming increasingly worried. He tries to take a step towards him, but his legs don't seem to be working properly. Odd.
He looks up to find Sherlock looking more stricken than John's ever seen him.
Sherlock points. Or rather, gestures vaguely, still apparently in too much shock to do much else.
At first John thinks he's pointing past him, but it triggers after only a moment that Sherlock actually means him.
Stomach shrinking, John looks down. There's a hole in the right side of his jacket, just below his pectoral muscle. And underneath there's a growing stain of red.
His knees buckle.
And suddenly Sherlock is there, nimble but surprisingly strong hands slowing John's descent to the concrete.
"I've been shot."
"Astounding observation, doctor."
The tone is dry, but John can hear its underlying tremor.
Sherlock is moving above him, doing something, but John can't for the life of him clear his vision. He's starting to feel now, and isn't it funny that until it came back, he didn't notice that feeling ever went away?
Then Sherlock is pressing down hard, and he wishes it were still gone.
A pained shout tears from his throat as the detective leans into him, pushing something into his ribs. John is in too much pain to figure out what it is.
"You're an idiot."
John coughs then gasps, decidedly not flashing back to hot sands and hopeless eyes.
"And to think... I'd thought we'd... gotten past that." John shuts his eyes and gasps again, wondering what would happen if he gave into the darkness.
Then there's a hand hard against his cheek, and he opens his eyes again to glare at the pale figure above him.
"Do not go to sleep, John. You should know that - basic first aid. You're losing blood quickly. Stay awake."
The pressure on his side shifts. Sherlock pulls something out of his pocket and soon John hears another voice.
"1228 North Morin Street. My friend has been shot. Do actually hurry this time."
Sherlock tosses the phone to the side.
"What?" The darkness is starting to sound really nice again. It's gathering in his vision, just at the corners. Bordering Sherlock.
"Talk to me."
John wheezes out what in no way passes for a laugh. "I thought..." Gasp. "Thought you hated p-petty conver... sation. Ah." Why is the air so bloody thin?
"No conversation with you is ever petty, John."
"Was that actually... a compliment?"
Sherlock smirks. "I believe the appropriate response is, 'don't get used to it.'"
John sighs. He knows Sherlock wants him awake - is even talking to him to keep him there - but he's so tired. And maybe if he just took a nap, it wouldn't hurt so much.
"Wha." Sod off, Sherlock. It's too early.
"John. Stay awake."
Then there's hands shaking him, and fire blazing through his side. He thinks maybe he yells.
"John. Tell me what to do."
"Hmm?" Since when does Sherlock Holmes take instruction?
"Please, John. You've been shot. I don't - I don't know what to do. Tell me what to do."
"Yes, John, shot. Because of me. Remember? You took a bullet for me. I don't know why - because you're an idiot, I presume - but that's what happened. And now you're bleeding out and it's causing a shockingly severe emotional response that you're missing because you won't open your damn eyes!"
Oddly enough, a speech like that from your supposedly sociopathic friend causes a small boost of adrenaline. Certainly enough of one to lift two eyelids.
"Sherlock." Dear. When did his voice get so thready?
"Tell me what to do."
"Well, if this were a romantic drama, you'd kiss me." Wait what?
"I do believe blood loss is making you delusional."
Neither of them speak for a moment.
Then, "oh hell."
John is about to ask what's happened when he finds Sherlock's lips on his own.
His only thought is about how shockingly warm they are before he hears sirens and the warmth is pulled away along with the last of his awareness.
There are a thousand ways to say you love someone.
Using your favorite scarf to stop them from bleeding out, for instance.
Or riding in the ambulance to the hospital with them.
Waiting through six hours of surgery standing in the corner of the lobby.
Sitting by their bedside for two straight days of nothing.
Being there when they finally wake up.
Telling them off for being an idiot.
Assuring them in your own brusque way that no, the kiss was not in fact a dying man's hallucination.
Maybe, for good measure, just to make sure their core temperature is back to normal, trying it again.
And if the nurse comes in to check out the sudden increase in heart rate and happens to see, well, you certainly can't be blamed for that.