A story for Sirro134, who requested I write more about John's life after the events of Conductivity. :)


Signal


They run.

The early night billows up around them, soft wide wind dashing across their faces and streaming over their swift legs and arms, urging them onward, filling them with the immense energy of the chase. Sherlock and John run, run, run. They whisk over the rooftops, free as birds, and before them flee two men: one tall and scrawny, the other short and stumpy and slower than his companion.

Sherlock is fast. But John is at his heels, close enough to hear the detective's choppy breathing.

They leap over a staggering gap of four feet to reach another roof.

Sherlock lands gracefully; his flapping coat spins up around his waist. Thumping down hard on the roof, John catches himself. He is still running, gaining, and then Sherlock has hold of the shorter man's collar. He pulls him down on the roof with a crash.

John shouts at him: "Watch it!"

For the other man has stopped and turned, reaching into his pocket –

And then John is there, there. He tackles the taller man around the ankles and brings him down hard. The suspect gasps weakly, the wind knocked from his lungs, and John grabs hold of the man's clammy wrists, forcing them behind his back.

He can't breathe.

He kneels on the grimy rooftop tiles, panting, and blue fire surges painfully behind his eyes. There are bloody tracks across the suspect's pale skin, looping around his wrists; his wild eyes glint back at John in confusion and anger.

"John!"

His name is like a whiplash. John straightens, lifts his head towards Sherlock. He can feel the pebbles in his pocket bounce against each other.

Sherlock stares back at him, the worried knowledge set deep in his sharp face. His opponent is unconscious at his feet, his close-cropped head thrown back against the roof tiles, short arms outspread and empty.

"Got any twine?" John manages.

Sherlock shakes his head. "Lestrade is coming."

John nods. Gradually, the burning power in his hands is receding, flowing minutely back into his chest. The fire coalesces back into coolness and he can breathe easier. The captured suspect squirms beneath him, swearing. Blinking away the last of the pain, John grips his wrists tighter, sets his knee in the man's damp back to hold him down.

"Lie still."

"Geroff me, you-" the man snarls.

John tightens his grasp on the man's wrists, breaking off the rest of the profane sentence. Now he can hear Lestrade clattering up the fire escape; the DI's flashlight beam wavers brightly back and forth across the rooftop as he emerges onto the roof.

"Good work, you two," Lestrade gasps. He's grinning, a brilliant line of teeth in the near-darkness. "Well, there's another case wrapped up."

"Yes," John agrees, still panting.

Lestrade crouches down beside him and cuffs the suspect's hands together. The man stops spitting swear words and lies still, resigned.

Sherlock comes to John, extends a long hand.

John takes it and gets to his feet. He's still shaky from the sudden reappearance of his magic, but as Sherlock lets go he feels the last of it settle back into place. He breathes in deeply, sucking in great gulps of the cool night air.

That's better, he thinks calmly, and is once again grateful for his Anchor. He grins at Sherlock.

His friend smiles back, a smile so brief and yet entirely sincere – surprisingly so, for someone as cold and unemotional as Sherlock. And John remembers once again how different Sherlock has been since his return four months ago, how he is more caring, more understanding, more vulnerable. How he seems to have forgotten his hatred for 'sentiment.'

But Sherlock has changed in other ways, too.

John's eyes move to the first suspect, still unconscious. There's a thin line of blood dripping from the corner of the little man's slackened mouth. He crouches down, feels the man's pulse. It's steady, rhythmical. He'll be fine.

Lestrade glances up from his suspect, and John sees the same thoughts mirrored on his expressive face.

Sherlock turns away, looks out over the rooftop.

John shrugs at Lestrade, a clear signal to drop it, and the DI shrugs back and rises to his feet.

Sherlock stares into the darkening sky, his hands deep in his pockets.


A half hour later, with several policemen gathered around the suspects, Lestrade having taken their statements, the two of them go down the fire escape.

At the far end of the dimly lit street, a familiar umbrella furls shut in a whirl of black fabric.

Neither John nor Sherlock notice this; they turn and head towards home, and soft footsteps recede in the opposite direction, going away.