A/N: For Birch tree2.
They were both bleeding.
Sherlock because he'd stepped in front of an attack meant for John.
John because he'd retaliated when the knife tore Sherlock's skin.
Both John's gun and the suspect's blade were now at the bottom of the Thames.
"He's getting away!" Sherlock rumbled, vaulting a fence to give chase. His grip on the top of the chain-link left a shining smear of blood behind. "Come on, John!"
With a curse and a barely-stifled grunt of pain, John scaled the fence and sprinted after Sherlock, their footfalls echoing down the darkened street. By the sallow light of the streetlamps, he could just see the suspect running madly ahead of them, casting frantic glances over his shoulder. The man shouted something unintelligible at them, and then rounded a corner.
Sherlock had his mobile out already and barked commands into it without even lifting it to his ear. "Lestrade - head him off at the Cut! Coming up from Blackfriars!" Then, swiftly, the phone disappeared into a pocket and Sherlock was throwing himself against a fire escape, hoisting his weight up by his good hand.
Behind him, John climbed quickly, already winded from the chase, feeling naked without his gun as they raced to the rooftop. "How do you know - " he began, but Sherlock cut him off.
"The Tube station!"
They flew over the rooftops, one after the other, Sherlock leaping the chasms between buildings like a mountain goat and John following after, considerably less graceful but swift and sure all the same. All the time, Sherlock was talking, a rapid-fire string of words that made sense only in his own head as he predicted the late-night traffic and their suspect's course through it.
"There!" shouted Sherlock. Scoresby Street came into view, as did their suspect. At Sherlock's cry, the man stopped dead and spun, spotting them on the roof. Fear coursed over his features and he took off again at a full-tilt sprint, changing course to head for the railway tracks.
"Gonna lose him," John panted, taking off again toward the Cut.
"No chance," Sherlock growled sharply, and before John could stop him, he ran for the edge of the building and leapt off.
And landed bodily upon the suspect.
As John made a mad dash for the ledge to look down, he heard a cry and a crunch from below, then the gravelly scuffle of frantic feet. Bracing himself for the worst, he threw himself against the lip of the rooftop and looked down. To his immense relief, he saw Sherlock climbing to his feet, stumbling back from the site of impact, his chest heaving as he caught his breath. "Alright?" John called, already scrambling for the fire escape.
"Fine, I'm fine," came Sherlock's breathless reply. "Not him, though. Suspected pelvic fracture... a few broken ribs..."
John's feet hit the ground with a jolt that radiated uncomfortably through the gash in his thigh, and he staggered to where Sherlock was starting to double over with his hands on his knees. "You okay?" he asked again, assuming the same position, struggling to catch his breath in the chilly air that burned his lungs.
Sherlock took an experimental breath, rolled his shoulders, flexed his fingers, and glanced with disgust at the slice across his right palm. Everything in working order, minus a few minor annoyances. "Think so. McMann here broke my fall. How's your leg?"
John inspected the tear in his trousers, pain flashing over his face as he probed it with his fingertips. "Not bad. Hey - Sherlock?"
"Mm?" The detective looked over, his normally grey eyes now made a feline yellow by the reflected light of the streetlamps.
"Try to avoid leaping off buildings to apprehend suspects."
"I can't make any promises."
Footsteps rang out from behind Sherlock, catching both men's attention, and they straightened to see who had caught up with them first. Lestrade appeared round the corner, slowing to a brisk walk as he caught sight of the pair of them standing over McMann's still form. "Well, is he alive?" the DI asked as he drew close, trepidation evident in his voice.
"Yeah," John said. "Multiple crush injuries, though," he added, with the lilt of amusement.
"What?" Lestrade bent to examine his suspect, two fingers disappearing beneath the man's jaw to confirm John's diagnosis.
"Sherlock fell on him."
"Jumped," the detective corrected. "I jumped on him."
"From the roof," added John, pointing.
"Oh, god," groaned Lestrade. He shook his head in exasperation.
Paramedics and forensics arrived within minutes. Naturally, Sherlock was ready to leave almost as soon as Lestrade had taken over custody of the suspect, but the DI threatened him with legal action if he didn't stay long enough to give a statement, and Sherlock decided this would be even more tedious than standing and waiting. So he and John stood and waited, comparing their battle wounds and waving off most of the paramedics' attempts at being helpful. A uniformed officer took their statements while Lestrade and Donovan spoke to the paramedics who were loading McMann into an ambulance.
"Well, Sherlock, you were right," Greg said, jogging up to where Sherlock and John were waiting to be dismissed. The ambulance was peeling away behind him. "McMann was definitely involved in the smuggling operation."
"I know," said Sherlock, disinterestedly. "I take it we're free to go, then?"
"Ah - not so fast, you two. The reason I know he was involved was because he was carrying samples of the Rosewater toxin on his person."
Sherlock and John exchanged a glance. "Are you sure? Seems a bit risky," John said sceptically.
Lestrade fished an evidence bag out of his pocket, holding it up for the boys to see. Inside was a tiny vial half-full of a viscous blue-green liquid. Sherlock snatched it from his fingers and held it up to the light, inspecting it closely.
"Interesting," the detective murmured. "Why would he be carrying it with him? One microgram could have killed him. He wasn't completely stupid, he would have known…"
"Well," the DI said cautiously, "one reason could be that he was using it to poison his weapon."
There was silence as this sunk in for a moment. Sherlock merely frowned, but John paled to a sickly yellow as he glanced from Sherlock's freshly bandaged hand to the rip in his own trousers.
"Yeah. So you both need to get to hospital and get tested."
Sherlock scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous. The toxin is too volatile for that kind of handling, and he wouldn't have had time to coat the knife blade with it anyway. More likely, he was taking a sample to a prospective client, and wasn't expecting us to turn up at all."
"No - no," John said, sensing where this was going. "Sherlock, this isn't optional."
"I have work to do," the detective insisted.
"You won't be doing much work if you're dead," John said firmly. He put a hand in the small of Sherlock's back and pushed him toward the police car parked against the kerb. "You're going. We're both going. It'll take five minutes, and then you can... dissect eyeballs or whatever."
"Eyeballs," Sherlock muttered, allowing himself to be guided away from the crime scene. "Child's play."
Sherlock was unusually fidgety as he watched John get swabbed and prepped for his blood draw. John chalked it up to his keen desire to get back to work, but he couldn't help noticing a certain tightness of his expression. He was also dead silent, which was odd following such a huge break in a major case.
"When's the last time you ate?" John asked suspiciously, his eyes narrowing upon his friend.
Sherlock's gaze swept up from the floor and met John's dead-on. He glowered petulantly. "Day before yesterday."
"You look peaky." John's mouth tightened almost imperceptibly as the needle slipped under his skin.
"I'm fine." The detective watched impassively as John's blood flowed into a small vial.
"All done," declared the nurse a moment later. She pressed a cotton ball into the crook of John's arm and withdrew her needle. Then she set the sample aside and waved at Sherlock. "Your turn, sweetie. Switch places."
Sherlock gave John a look that could only be translated as, She called me 'sweetie', John, now I'm going to say aloud all the things I've noticed about her - like the fact that her boyfriend is cheating on her with her sister and the job interview she thinks she nailed yesterday actually went so far south that -
And John gave Sherlock a look that plainly said, Stop. Now. That woman is going to stick you with a needle, do you really want to make her angry?
And Sherlock obediently - and quietly - traded places with his flatmate.
"How long will it take to get the results back?" John asked mildly, turning a strangely sympathetic and slightly pitying smile on the nurse.
"There's a rush on it," she said, glancing at the paperwork as she prepared her instruments. "So maybe an hour or so?"
Nodding, John looked to Sherlock, blue eyes scanning the pale face. "We should stay until the results come in," he pointed out, with the sort of cool authority that made it seem less like a suggestion and more like an order.
Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "Why?"
"Because if either one of us comes back positive, we'll need an immediate transfusion and anti-seizure medications and a whole host of other life-saving medical interventions?" John's eyes were very wide.
The nurse swabbed the crook of Sherlock's arm with a cold alcohol wipe. If possible, the detective's pallor increased tenfold.
"You sure you're okay?" John said, taking a step forward. "You really don't look well."
"I'm fine." Sherlock gritted his teeth.
The nurse tied a tourniquet just above the elbow.
Sherlock turned grey before John's eyes.
"You can't be worried about this?" John asked, looking quite dumbstruck by the idea. "If we were infected, we'd probably be showing symptoms by now. It's just a precaution."
"I know. John - there's something I need to tell you."
"Sherlock - "
"Okay, sweetie, quick little pinch!" the nurse said brightly.
Three things happened very quickly at that point. One: the needle slipped into Sherlock's skin. Two: Sherlock looked down at it. Three: his knees started to buckle.
"Chair, get the chair," John was ordering, even as he was stepping forward with arms outstretched.
In the next moment - before the nurse could react, before the chair could be scooted over, before John could push him down into it - Sherlock had completely and utterly fainted.
Shocked as he was, John still managed to close those last few feet between himself and his flatmate, and catch him under the arms just in time to avoid his curly head making abrupt contact with the linoleum floor. The dead weight did throw him off balance, however, and John slid to the floor rather more quickly than he would have liked, with Sherlock's upper half balanced awkwardly in his lap. Accordingly, the weight of the detective's head was centred squarely over the gash in John's leg, and he hissed in discomfort.
The nurse squeaked unhelpfully.
"Slide that box over and lift his legs," John said briskly. He gently but quickly shifted out from under Sherlock's body, cradling his neck with one hand as he lowered him to the floor. His mind was already running through the list of possible things that could cause Sherlock to collapse - low blood sugar, dehydration, exhaustion, or (though far less likely) the Rosewater toxin.
It was only seconds later that the detective's eyes popped open, and he gave a sigh as though he were very disappointed to be waking up on the floor.
"I tried to tell you, John." Sherlock's voice was strong, if quiet, and his pulse was within normal range. His eyes were clear as he blinked up at John, but he made no attempt to move.
"Tell me what?"
"I detest blood draws."
"Yes, I know, but it was necessary to - oh. Hang on. Are you...? No." The corner of John's mouth twitched. His expression was one of disbelief. "You're... afraid of needles?"
"Not afraid of them, no."
"Then... But wait, didn't you-?"
"Yes," Sherlock said impatiently. He pushed John's hands away and sat up slowly, drawing his knees up and placing his head against them as he waited for normal blood flow to resume. "But this is different."
"So you... fainted... because you were having blood taken."
"Fainted isn't quite the right word."
John barked a laugh, sitting back on his heels as he watched the colour return to the detective's cheeks. "Oh yes, it is. You fainted dead away, Sherlock, all because of a little pinprick. What I don't understand, though, is why that bothers you, when normally you gallop around London looking for blood and bodies and sharp, pointy objects."
"Well, I can't explain it, either!" Sherlock snapped irritably. "I just..." He shuddered.
The nurse appeared at John's shoulder with a paper cup of water and a cold compress. "Um," she said meekly. "I still need to get a sample."
John smothered his giggle in his shoulder.
"Haven't you got one?" demanded Sherlock , craning his neck to look up at her.
"Not really, no. I'm meant to collect 6 millilitres and I've only got... um... one." She held up the vacutainer.
"Better do it lying down," John advised, managing somehow to make his mouth a grim line instead of a (slightly sadistic) grin.
"Or you could pee into a cup!" the nurse offered.
Sherlock groaned and let himself fall back down onto the floor, doing his very best to ignore John's poorly stifled laughter.