A fluffy Johnlock one-shot written for a prompt given to me by ktheaxis for the December gift exchange of Johnlock Challenges. The prompt was Colours and this is what I came up with.
Dear ktheaxis and all others ... Enjoy reading!
Black and Blue
'Jesus – Sherlock! Will you bloody wait a second! All I want to do is have a look.'
John hastened up the stairs behind his infuriating flatmate who was taking two steps at a time, fairly flying up the stairs with his long legs and his great coat billowing out behind him as if an invisible force was pulling him upwards, away from John.
'Sherlock! For God's sakes! - Why are you running away from me?' Fed up with his antics John stopped and spat out a heartfelt, 'Bloody hell!'
This apparently cut through because Sherlock abruptly came to a halt on the landing, and in a blatant contradiction to his former restless hurry stood firmly rooted to the spot. He avoided turning around when he spoke, and his voice was quivering with the force of suppressed anger.
'John, listen carefully as I will only tell you once and I won't repeat myself. I am fine. There is nothing wrong with me. So just leave me alone!'
Those words were not much more than a sibilant hissing, and although he slightly turned his head with every spat out syllable, all John was able to make out was a part of his profile against the darkness of the living room. He started towards him, up the few remaining steps, but before he reached him Sherlock stared straight ahead again and quickly darted into the living room, leaving a befuddled John behind on the landing.
John let out an exasperated sigh, even for Sherlock's standards this had been a rather rude reply to a friendly and in his opinion, very reasonable, enquiry. He dipped his chin, and shrugged out of his jacket before he followed him into the living room.
Sherlock had carelessly flung his coat and scarf over the next best chair and had retreated to the window, ostensibly focusing on the world outside, his back towards John. He hadn't bothered to switch on a lamp and so the room remained in a dark wintry gloom, only illuminated by the light falling in from the hallway. John took a step towards the sofa to switch on the lamp beside it.
'Don't!' Sherlock said softly, and John noticed that the fury from just a moment ago had gone from his voice, only to be replaced by something that was distinctly uncharacteristic and which John couldn't quite place yet. He had spoken, but he hadn't moved a muscle and hadn't turned around to acknowledge John's presence.
John realised then that he hadn't seen Sherlock's face properly since the moment they had stumbled into a dark alleyway over an hour ago, into a bloody trap as it had turned out. A robber they had been chasing all day had lured them there, confronting them, fighting them with all his might.
He had immediately focused on Sherlock, a predator sure of his prey, as if he had been waiting for such an occasion. The broad and muscular brute laid into Sherlock brutally, peppering his face and chest and back with unrelenting punches and fists. John tried to help and attacked the man with indescribable fury and determination, but one hard and well-calculated punch to the temple knocked him out, and so Sherlock was left alone in the fight. John lay there on the wet and dirty ground, helpless, slipping in and out of a dazed state and sentenced to listening to Sherlock's desperate grunts and gasps, trying to give the attacker the best that he could.
John only remembered vaguely that the robber relented and fled when police sirens wailed in the distance. And another blurry memory was that of a bloody and frightened face hovering mere inches above his own. But the second his eyes became more focused and he opened his mouth to utter something - a word, a curse more likely, or an enquiry- Sherlock brusquely averted his face and stormed away.
True, he had waited for him at the mouth of the dark alley, peering back across his shoulder to ensure himself that John could walk, but then he set off at a brisk and angry pace, John trailing behind. He himself was only mildly shaken by the fight, but shocked by what had happened to Sherlock and dazed and confused by his strange demeanour.
When John caught up with him at the main door of 221B, Sherlock still studiously avoided looking at him and literally turned his back. And when the door finally opened after some awkward fumbling with the keys accompanied by colourful and very uncharacteristic cursing between gritted teeth, he ran up the stairs as if his life depended on it.
John was confused, yes, but he was also quite used to Sherlock's erratic behavior. To be honest he probably was the only one who was used to it and would put up with him anyway. Besides, Sherlock had dished out his fair share of insults in the past months they had lived together, and once on fire the lines between friend and foe seemed to blur all too easily - But to his credit, there were also other, much more important, aspects of living with Sherlock: the excitement, the adventure, the fascination John experienced with him almost every day. Sherlock had literally brought him back to life, had chased away his loneliness and his bouts of depression and even his nightmares had become less frequent since they had been cohabiting under one roof.
But if John was entirely honest, and he usually was in the early hours of the morning when he was lying awake, he even wished for more, far more - more closeness, more contact, more Sherlock. But every time the night gave way to bright morning, he could only scoff at those ludicrous thought. Sherlock would never want to go there, it wasn't what he was or what he was able to give.
And now? Now something rather strange was unfolding here in front of John's eyes in the living room of 221B and he truly wanted to get to the heart of the matter. Leaving curiosity aside, the doctor in him reminded him that Sherlock was probably injured, maybe in shock, but definitely in need of some ministrations, gentle or not.
John braced himself and walked up to Sherlock who stood stock still in front of one of the two large windows, his angular and too thin body casting a lamentable shadow. He had wrapped his arms around his torso protectively as if he was freezing and sure enough when he came nearer John could make out a tell-tale trembling, a shivering, the aftermath of a shock.
'Sherlock, what's wrong with you?' he asked softly. Sherlock's back tensed in response, and his shoulders heaved as if he was widening his chest, drawing air - but then he only shook his head as if he couldn't trust his voice. He wouldn't talk. He, who could talk himself in and out of almost every tricky situation, and enjoying it. He, who could possibly talk a virgin out of her knickers with his velvety baritone. John frowned - Where did that come from? - He cleared his throat and tried again. 'Let me have a look at you. As a doctor - I'm sure you need some help. Let me, Sherlock. Please …'
It might have been the please, it might have been the softness of his voice, it might have been the shock, but suddenly all the fight and defiance seemed to leave Sherlock's body and his shoulders slumped. John gently placed a hand on the taller man's back, and when it was not shaken off angrily as his normal reaction would have been, John exerted a bit more pressure and forced Sherlock to turn around and face him. Their eyes met for a second and in one glance John took in the mess that was Sherlock's face. He involuntarily gasped and his hand flew to Sherlock's bloodied cheek protectively. Sherlock winced when John's fingertips grazed his cut skin, but he didn't shy away from his touch, only closed his eyes as if closing them would somehow lessen the anguish.
And suddenly John saw clearly what had been the driving force behind his strange behaviour. An overwhelming sense of shame had taken possession of Sherlock and it was burning its route in the guise of a blush onto those angular features right in front of John's eyes. Shame, that he couldn't have defeated the other man, shame that he had almost been beaten to a pulp.
'Jesus – Sherlock. What did he do to you?' John whispered, trailing his fingers down a cut on his left cheekbone, over the traces of blood and on to the dark bruises on his cheek and chin and down his neck. Sherlock willingly tipped his head to the side, offering him access and John's calloused fingertips checked for injuries on the neck where he found blueish-red finger-shaped bruises as clear indicators of utmost brutality. 'He tried to strangle you,' John assessed, those few sober words in startling contrast to what they actually conveyed and Sherlock weakly nodded, his eyes still closed. John's fingers moved on and he slipped one hand inside Sherlock's shirt, checking for damage on his collarbone, gently probing. He needed to see more, though, and so unhurriedly he removed his hand and started unbuttoning Sherlock's shirt. One button after the other, slowly revealing bruises of various colours and sizes, witnesses of the fact that Sherlock had been beaten black and blue, while he himself had been unconscious and unable to help.
'God … I'm so sorry!' John said and Sherlock's eyes flew open, his ice blue eyes locking with John's dark blue ones.
'No! - No, don't be,' he murmured, still unsure of his voice. 'I am sorry that I couldn't protect you and I am sorry that I couldn't…' he broke off, biting his lip, searching for words that had not even formed consciously in his mind, but of which he knew they were there, had been there for quite a while now. His jaw muscles worked furiously and he half-turned away from John, feeling exposed, vulnerable, feeling ill at ease. John watched him, tried to read him and all of sudden everything fell into place. He lifted his hand and gently put it on Sherlock's pale exposed skin, slowly expanding his fingers, trying to cover up one of the more angry bruises. 'You don't have to say it, Sherlock. I understand.'
'It's not that easy …' Sherlock pressed out between gritted teeth, avoiding eye contact. He looked utterly miserable and out of his depths. John quirked an eyebrow, 'I think it is, Sherlock.'
'No, John! It is not! How can it be?' Sherlock briskly moved away from John causing his hand to fall away from warm and soft skin leaving it strangely exposed and lonely. John cleared his throat and fixed his gaze on the form of his flatmate, distress and uneasiness oozing from every pore. He had started pacing the short distance between John and the window, and was growing irritated that John was stubbornly refusing to get out of the way and was blocking his escape. Sherlock shot him an infuriated glare, obviously bundling the confusion and anger that had been bothering him for some weeks and focusing it on the fact that John wouldn't budge.
'John!' Sherlock came to halt in front of him, recklessly invading his personal space as he so often did. It made John's skin tingle and a flush crept up his neck, but he stood his ground, didn't back down. 'John!' Sherlock repeated, his voice much softer now. 'John, get out of my way.'
'Nope!' John answered curtly, but with an amused glint in his dark blue eyes.
Sherlock frowned, a deep furrow above his nose. He tilted his head to the side and took yet another step towards John, enveloping John in his body heat and the scent that was coming off him in waves: the scent of excitement, past and present, irritation and … arousal. John swallowed thickly around a lump that had formed in his throat and locked eyes with Sherlock. And what he saw in them made his heart skip a beat and then resume pounding at an almost impossible rate. He read interest in those mesmerizing eyes, insecurity … arousal and … love … and without even thinking John got on tiptoes and closed the gap between them, pressing his lips on Sherlock's soft and warm mouth. Sherlock winced and broke off the kiss immediately, leaving John gasping and confused, but wanting for more. 'It hurt,' Sherlock said, as a way of explanation when he saw the confusion in John's face. 'The cut on my lip – um – it hurt – um - when you kissed me.'
He made to turn away, but John wouldn't let him, and gently placed a hand against his cheek to guide him back, to make him look at him. 'It's okay, Sherlock. We don't have to do this - now - if it makes you uncomfortable.'
'Thank you,' Sherlock murmured, but instead of freeing himself from John's grip, as he would have done with any other person, he wrapped his arms around him and buried his face in his hair. He held on to him like a child would hold on to his mother, and John instinctively responded to what seemed a very basic need for comfort and closeness.
And then it hit him - Oh my God, I got it wrong - John thought, a cold hand reaching out for his heart - Completely wrong. It's just the shock and the need to be comforted - An instinct. You stupid idiot! - He bit his lips and tried to force back all other, frankly ludicrous hopes and expectations he might have harboured just a few seconds ago - But I saw it! In his eyes, it was clear to see, it was there! - He closed his eyes and let out a defeated sigh, involuntarily enforcing his grip on Sherlock.
'Don't fret, John.' Sherlock whispered against his hair. 'You didn't get it wrong … everything you saw was true. I just don't know what to do with it. It drives me out of my mind, this confusion.' Even whispering Sherlock managed to infuse contempt into this single word. 'You are confusing me, John … And when you were knocked out by this maniac today and I couldn't help you because I was too weak … I was so disheartened and ashamed. So afraid that you would detest me now…' his voice trailed off which made John tighten his grip around his lanky body some more, feeling the bony hips and the ribs clearly underneath the fabric of his suit. Sherlock winced again in response.
'Sorry,' John reacted to the soft moan of pain at once and marginally loosened his grip. But he wouldn't let go, no, he would never let go again. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, listening to his wildly pounding and elated heart.
'Why don't you let me have a look at you now? Let me clean those cuts … You might even might have a broken rib or two. I really think I should take care of you.'
There was no answer and John's heart sank again - How does he do that? - John thought - He's sending me on a rollercoaster of emotions just by not answering - but his dismal thought was interrupted.
'Yes, John,' Sherlock answered softly. He sounded drained all of a sudden and leaned heavily on John's reassuring and strong frame. 'Yes - Please do take care of me.'
A/N Dear ktheaxis, I hope you liked it – even if it might not be exactly what comes to mind when thinking of colours ;-D
Thank you for reading and … Please tell me what you think, comments are very much appreciated, my lovelies!