For the first time in three months, John saw Sherlock. He was wearing his long Belstaff coat as per-usual with a pair of black trousers. The last time John had seen him, Sherlock had been in need of a haircut, his dark curls longer than usual, just above brushing his shoulders. His hair was cut now, short, soft looking curls that reflected the golden sunlight. John had caught a quick glimpse of him just before Sherlock disappeared around the corner ahead of him. John had been walking to the bank, then. So the shouting going on around him as he stood just inside the door took a little longer to sink in than it normally would have, as his thoughts were distracted by Sherlock as they always seemed to be lately.
"I said everyone get on the ground!" John heard growled behind him, and then someone kicked him in the back of the knee, causing John's legs to buckle. He collapsed forward onto the dirty linoleum, landing hard on his kneecaps. A phantom twinge shot through his left leg telling him that even if he wanted to get up now, he probably wouldn't be able to without help.
John hissed, then thought better of it and clenched his teeth. He didn't want this guy to think he was a threat. He glanced over his shoulder at the man who had assaulted him. He was met by a man peering down at him with bright blue eyes and a black ski-mask concealing the rest of his facial features. There was a golden tint to his skin; recent time in the sun.
The man planted a booted-foot on John's shoulder and shoved him forward, forcing him to look away. John barely caught himself before he could face-plant on the floor. He braced his hands on the linoleum, feeling the grit of the dirt under his hands, and looked up in front of him to meet the eyes of a woman with sheer panic expressed on every inch of her. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
"Don't try anything, or we'll shoot you," the man snapped from behind him. John picked up the hint of a southern accent on the 'y's.
John sat slowly back on his arse, his knees aching with the movement. His mobile dug into his hip and he gave a cursory glance around, making sure no one was looking at him before he took it out of his pocket. He pulled up a new message to Greg and texted quickly. 6 rbbers 15 r so ppl cnt see all hddn bhnd countr guns bllet prff vests -JW. Someone was likely to have already signalled the police, so Lestrade would know which bank he meant.
John quickly slipped his mobile into his sock, making sure it was on vibrate, then scanned the room again. From where he was located near the door, John couldn't see half the room, as it was hidden by the large, rounded desk. He just hoped there were no children.
Sighing heavily, John shifted around so he could lean against the counter and watch the masked men continue to point their guns.
John's arse had gone completely numb from sitting in one place for so long. He shifted and caught one of the masked men looking in his direction. He sighed and dropped his head back against the wall. He wished Sherlock was there to deduce the masked men and whisper in John's ear their reasons for robbing the bank. John wasn't sure what it was they were doing now. They'd simply been standing around with duffels of cash since the police had arrived outside.
The woman from before was still crying close by, her face pressed into her hands and her red hair a curtain in front of her, blocking out their capturers. John tentatively reached out and settled his hand lightly on her shoulder. She flinched at first and peered over at him with wide green eyes. John felt a shudder run through her, then she settled back into his touch. He brushed his hand soothingly down her back, shushing her quietly.
The police had arrived a long time ago with flashing lights and a loudspeaker, which they called out to the masked men with, saying, "come out with your hands up!" John had cringed when one of the men huffed a laugh and the masked men ignored them.
The men were hidden from outside view, one man for each side of the door, two in the far corners of the room, too close to John for his liking, and another two on the other side of the room.
The masked men had forced everyone to toss all their electronics into the middle of the room and John had sworn up and down that he didn't have a cellphone.
"I've just come home from Afghanistan. I haven't had a chance to get one, yet," John had said, low to keep his anger from showing through. He hadn't survived all this time to die by the hands of some bloody bank robbers. John was surprised when the men actually believed him.
There were raised voices from the other side of the bank and John's hand froze on the woman's back. A shuddered breath shook her and she buried her head farther down into her knees.
"Tell me why I shouldn't shoot you right now!" one of the masked men, the man who'd knocked John down, growled angrily. He was standing at the end of the counter, pointing his semi-automatic at whoever was leaning against it.
"We both know you can't do that," a familiar voice, Sherlock's voice, John's brain cheered, said. "I'm your incentive. Without me, this whole little show you're putting on would be all for nothing, don't you think?"
John's heart, which had stilled in his chest upon hearing the familiar deep baritone of his former flatmate, began to beat again, this time in a quick staccato. Sherlock was here. Sherlock was here, and he was going to get himself shot, the bloody git!
John inconspicuously slid his mobile back out of his sock and sent Sherlock a text. Lean forward -JW, he texted quickly.
Sherlock huffed and flicked his hands in the air, dismissing the blue-eyed masked man. A moment later, John watched as Sherlock abruptly un-crossed his ankles and sat forward. He scanned the room quickly, his brows pushed together. When his eyes settled on John, his lips parted in surprise.
When Sherlock had returned from the dead, John had nearly punched his lights out. If it hadn't been for Mary, his girlfriend of two years at that point, he definitely would have. Mary had caught his arm as he'd pulled it back, ready to slam it into Sherlock's cheekbone. "John," she'd whispered softly, tugging his sleeve, "hear him out."
John had been absolutely fuming. His body had been shaking with rage and he couldn't stop it no matter how hard he tried. He'd forced himself to stand in the doorway of the flat he shared with Mary and met Sherlock's eyes. They took his breath away, as they always had, and he'd glared at Sherlock because of it. After all this time, and he still made John feel this way.
"Hello, John," Sherlock had said, and John couldn't stop himself. He reached out and he slammed the door in Sherlock's face. He hadn't seen him since, until today.
Things had gone pear-shaped with Mary after John found out about Sherlock's continued existence. While Sherlock had been gone, John had started to imagine what life might be like if he had admitted his feelings to Sherlock before. He let himself imagine approaching Sherlock as he lay on the sofa and handing him his tea, imagined carding his fingers through Sherlock's dark curls and the accompanying sound Sherlock would make. Imagined coming up behind Sherlock while he leaned over his microscope or stood playing the violin and putting his hands on his thin hips and his lips on Sherlock's neck.
John left Mary, because he didn't feel right staying with her while thinking of being with him. He got his own flat and focused on his work, and read every text Sherlock ever sent, but he never dared reply. He didn't know if he could face Sherlock when he still woke up every morning with the sound of Sherlock hitting the pavement still echoing in his head. Every time he closed his eyes, Sherlock's face covered in blood waited behind his eyelids, his unblinking eyes always staring.
He'd forgiven Sherlock, of course he had. For once, Sherlock had cared about the victims. He'd explained to John that he'd had to do it, had to jump, because Moriarty's gunmen had three bullets, one for John, one for Greg, and one for Mrs. Hudson.
The last time Sherlock had texted him, one month ago, Sherlock had only written six words and his name. I miss you, John, every moment. -Sherlock. John had looked at that text every night since, put a lock on it so he wouldn't accidentally delete it, and he deleted every reply he almost sent: I miss, you, too, I love you, Sleep well, I can't stop thinking about you, I want to come home, You're my home.
He didn't know if he could be around Sherlock without it being abundantly clear just how he felt, and he couldn't bear the thought of Sherlock not feeling the same, so he stayed away.
A text buzzed in John's pocket and he glanced around before he pulled his phone out. When he looked up again, Sherlock's was mostly out of view, his shoes the only things visible on him. Say you need to use the restroom. -SH
John raised his hand, feeling like a kid in school as the masked men looked at him. "I need to use the loo," he said, trying to look like he was in urgent need without going overboard.
One of the men jerked his head in a nod. "Try anything and we'll shoot you."
John nodded and slowly rose. He strode as non-threateningly as possible to the bathroom and got a text as soon as the door closed behind him. Walk close by me when you exit. -SH.
John ended up actually using the toilet, not knowing when he'd have the opportunity to again. When he left the bathroom, he saw Sherlock look in the other direction. He felt jumpy as he walked the floor, feeling all eyes on him. He swallowed thickly as he passed by Sherlock and- his feet were knocked out from under him.
John hit the ground and landed on his shoulder. He hissed and nearly growled at Sherlock in anger, but when he looked up, all the masked men were pointing their guns right at him. His eyes went wide and he quickly scooted back until he was up against the counter. He could smell the familiar spice of Sherlock's body wash and he inhaled it deeply. He'd forgotten how good Sherlock smelled.
He could feel Sherlock's warmth on his left side and Sherlock's eyes on his face. "I'm so sorry," Sherlock said. He was acting like he didn't know John, but John could hear something in Sherlock's voice that told him that Sherlock wasn't just apologizing for tripping him, but for everything.
"It's fine," John nodded. He turned to Sherlock and met his eyes. They felt like home. "I'm fine."
They sat quietly watching as the masked men waited.
"They know that I'm Mycroft's brother," Sherlock had whispered to him sometime ago. "They're waiting for the call to tell them what they're requests are. If their needs aren't met, they plan to kill me."
John hadn't been able to reply as one of the masked men focused their attention on John and Sherlock.
"I will get you out of here, John," Sherlock said quietly.
John lifted his head off the counter and swiped at his face to make sure there was no drool. He'd somehow managed to fall asleep. Sherlock's words sank in and John gritted his teeth together. "Don't do anything stupid, Sherlock. We're both getting out of here. Don't you dare do this to me again."
Sherlock's eyes flickered over to meet John's and their gaze held for longer than was considered necessary, but John could not look away. He imagined leaning forward and kissing Sherlock right that moment and his breath caught in his throat.
"That man knows who we are," Sherlock eventually said, directing his eyes toward the blue-eyed masked man. "He's deeply homophobic. We need to get him to come over here."
It was like Sherlock had known exactly what it was John had been thinking. John couldn't help the smile that came to his lips. He nodded, letting Sherlock know that he understood what it was Sherlock was aiming for. John didn't think twice about what he did next. He'd wanted to for so long, and if it meant getting them all out of there, there was nothing that could keep him from doing it. He grabbed Sherlock's lapels and pulled him into a hard kiss.
Sherlock's eyes went wide and John pressed his tongue against the seam of his soft lips. Sherlock parted his lips and they slid their tongues together. John watched as Sherlock's eyes closed and he allowed his shoulders to relax. Sherlock was accepting the kiss. Not only that, but Sherlock was kissing him back. If they were going to die today, John decided, then he was going to have the kiss of a lifetime. He let his hands slide under Sherlock's jacket and he held onto Sherlock, his hands fitting perfectly around Sherlock's rib cage. He could feel the thundering of Sherlock's heart against his palm and he let his own eyes close to block out the rest of the world around them. Sherlock was kissing him back, hard and wanting one moment, then soft and caring the next. Sherlock dug his fingers into John's back and made a needy sound that had John half-hard in his jeans in moments.
"Oi, shirt-lifters! Get away from each other!" the blue-eyed robber shouted.
They ignored him. John delved his tongue in deeper and held Sherlock just a little closer as Sherlock kissed him back with growing urgency, like the kiss was the start of something, the first of many, and like it was the last.
Pain shot through John's ribs as the masked man kicked him in his side. Just as quickly as John had taken a hold of Sherlock, he released him and sprang up. He punched the robber in the throat and grabbed the gun, pulling the strap up and over the masked man's head as the man bent over and gasped for air.
John slung it over his torso as Sherlock jerked the robber around and held him out in front of them as a shield.
"Put your guns down in the middle of the room and step away," John said in his best authoritative voice. "Try anything and I will shoot you." He switched the gun between aiming it at the man Sherlock had deduced to be the only one who actually knew how to use the gun and the one Sherlock deemed most likely to shoot the place up for the fun of it.
Two of the masked men slowly lowered their guns to the ground and John's racing heart slowed just a little.
"Judging by the recent weight you've clearly put on," Sherlock said to the gunman nearest to them, the one who knew how to use it, "you're wife is pregnant. It's clear by the care you've taken of your wedding ring how much you care about her. You've recently come into money trouble, quite common in this economy, and your friend," Sherlock said, glancing over at the only other man holding the gun, "offered you an out. Help him rob the bank and you'll get half. He plans to kill the others for the rest. What will your wife think of you, knowing you held all these people at gunpoint? What will she think of you knowing that you let your friend kill these men?"
"Don't listen to him, man!" the friend roared. He raised his gun and aimed it toward Sherlock's uncovered head. The man hit the ground before John even realized he'd pulled the trigger.
People screamed as the dead man hit the floor. The dead man's gun went off in his hands as he hit the linoleum and John heard Sherlock gasp beside him. He turned and his eyes went wide as he saw Sherlock look down. He'd been hit. Blood was blossoming red on his shirt. There were people crying. John's heart stopped beating.
Sherlock stumbled back and took the masked man in his arms down with him. John quickly shoved the other man off Sherlock. He yanked off his jumper and shoved it against the wound before pulling Sherlock into his arms. "Apply pressure," John told Sherlock urgently. Sherlock quickly complied.
John looked at the man holding the gun and the man's eyes were wide. John ignored him and ran past him, carrying Sherlock in his arms. He burst through the doors and said, "he's been shot, please help!"
"Jesus," John heard Greg say. "They're good! Get him in an ambulance!"
John rushed to the ambulance, unable to take his eyes off of Sherlock's. They were looking up at him, silver and red-rimmed, and they were smiling.
"I'm so sorry, John," Sherlock said. "I'm so sorry."
"Don't, Sherlock. You're going to be okay. You're going to live through this. You'll live through this and I'll move back in with you, and you can be the one to kiss me," John said. His voice was shaking and there were tears in his eyes that he refused to let fall. "I want you to be the one to kiss me."
They reached the ambulance then. Sherlock's eyelids kept drifting closed and dragging slowly open as John handed him off to the EMT. He grabbed the handles on the back of the truck and prepared to get inside, but was stopped by a hand on his chest by another EMT.
"You can't come, sir. You're going to have to follow behind," the woman said, her voice firm.
"I'm his doctor," John said. "Please. I'm his doctor."
The EMT opened her mouth, then closed it and nodded. John climbed inside and the doors to the ambulance were closed behind him.
John jerked at the feeling of the hand in his squeezing his weakly. He lowered the book he'd been forcing his bluring gaze to focus on and found Sherlock looking up at him from where his head was nestled into two white pillows.
"You're awake," John said, setting the book down. He'd been awkwardly changing the pages by resting the book on his knees, unwilling to let go of Sherlock's hand. He'd had his fingers on Sherlock's pulse most of yesterday and through the night. He hadn't slept a wink and only left Sherlock's side when he was forced to.
"As are you," Sherlock said. John was relieved when Sherlock left his hand cradled in John's.
"Couldn't sleep," he said, his voice sounding rough. "You look better. When was the last time you slept before this?"
Sherlock pressed his lips together and shrugged. "I've never slept much. Less than usual since... since I came back."
"Since I didn't, you mean?" John said, his voice soft.
Sherlock nodded and looked down at their joined hands. "Did you mean what you said?"
John brushed his thumb back and forth along Sherlock's and nodded. "I've wanted to come home for a long time now, since I found out it still stood," John admitted, sliding his fingers in and out of Sherlock's, sending tingles up his spine. "If you'll have me," he said, looking up hesitantly to meet Sherlock's gaze.
"You and your bloody poetry," Sherlock said in response, but he was smiling.
"How's this for poetry?" John said, leaning in close with a warm smile. "Kiss me, you fool!"
Sherlock's face sobered and he released John's hands to cup his cheeks. He tried to rise up to meet John, but he hissed with pain and John bent down to meet him instead. Sherlock lifted his head from the pillows and pressed his lips to John's. Even though they intended for this kiss not to be their last, for it to be one of many to come, John and Sherlock kissed each other like it was for the last time, because they never knew when it might be.
It felt like coming home.