A/N: I am so, so sorry.

"This room?" Sherlock asked, looking around the crime scene. "This is where she was killed?"

John winced; the crime they were looking into was the murder of a young girl. He hated when children were involved.

"Yes." Lestrade answered, motioning at the dried blood. "Her body was gone, but there's too much blood for her to still be alive."

"You're positive it's her blood?" Sherlock did what he does best; examined, analyzed. He began pacing the room, seeing more than anyone else.

"We're still waiting on the DNA results, but it's the same type." Lestrade was doing a good job at staying professional, but John felt sick to his stomach and he knew it showed on his face.

"I'm going to get some air," he told Sherlock, closing his eyes briefly and willing the nausea to fade. Sherlock hummed to indicate he heard but did not stop his movement.

When John was outside he leaned against the side of the house and took several deep breaths. Normally it didn't bother him so much. He knew why this one was different, of course he did, but perhaps there was more to it. He searched within himself but came up empty.

Every decision in John's life was about keeping people from getting hurt; coming in after the fact on this one struck a chord in him.

Seven. The age of the girl invaded his mind, despite his attempts to forget it. How he wished he hadn't seen the number, or the picture. He didn't want to imagine that innocent face mutilated, covered in blood….

John slammed his hand against the side of the building, using the pain to distract himself. That was better. He examined the cuts on his knuckles with a detached eye; he'd need some gauze, or paper towels at the very least.

He reentered the house and went to the kitchen, purposefully avoiding the room with the crime and Sherlock and Lestrade. John barely felt the water as it washed the blood from his hand.

Sherlock poked his head in as John was taping the paper towels around his hand.

"Are you alright?" he asked hesitantly, and John knew Sherlock understood what had happened.

"Fine." John said shortly, not meeting his eye. Violent outbursts were a sign of weakness, ones he avoided, but damn he'd needed it.

"This might upset you further," Sherlock began, which is never a good sign, "But I do not believe the girl is dead."

"What?" John turned on Sherlock, stepping a little closer than socially acceptable. "What do you mean?"

"The blood is the same type, but not the same species. It is pig's blood."

"How do you – no, I don't care, let's find her!" Now John felt even more foolish about his lack of control. But, why would Sherlock think the girl being alive would make him angrier? There was no time to question it now, though; now they had to find that child.

Sherlock led the way to the police car, John and Lestrade following behind. As they walked, he explained, "I saw bits of fabric torn from what appeared to be a child's sweatshirt; the fabric is popular with children's clothing, and the alarmingly bright color indicates a less-inhibited wearer."

"You realize that sounds crazy, right?" John asked, his optimistic tone conflicting with the judging words.

Sherlock caught his eyes and the shadow of a smirk crossed his face. "Perhaps. But I'm right."

"I don't doubt you."

"Where am I going?" Lestrade asked, unlocking the car. Sherlock took the front passenger seat while John, shaking his head, sat in the back.

Sherlock gave an address. Glancing back, he saw John's confused look and elucidated, "It was written on a pad of paper, then ripped off." Sherlock shrugged. "Not everything is amazing."

John shook his head. "No, this is brilliant."

Sherlock smiled warmly.

"We did it, Sherlock!" John gasped, exhilarated from the chase. Bad guy caught, girl saved – this was exactly the kind of case with which John loved to assist. Sherlock was absolutely brilliant, following the clues all around London until they finally found the missing girl, crying and scared but ultimately unharmed. Normally John hated kidnappings, but his trust in Sherlock and the rapidity of his friend's actions allowed John to run on faith, and it was all worth it. And kidnapping was far better than murder.

In his mind's eye John saw the mother grabbing her daughter, sobbing with joy, and even Sherlock had cracked a smile when the father lifted them both right off the ground.

"We did." Sherlock agreed, letting his head fall back against the wall and tilting it to look at John. They grinned at each other, adrenaline still coursing through their veins. John realized they were standing very close, arms brushing, but he didn't move away. He felt warm and bright and far more joyous than he had in years. John was ready to tackle the world.

Their eye contact lasted longer than normal, and as it continued the atmosphere between them shifted. John's breathing, which had begun to even out, hitched and got caught in his throat. The thought rose, unbidden: He is gorgeous.

Normally John would question his motives, would wonder at the unfamiliar fluttering in his abdomen and the flush of anticipation spreading across his skin. But as their heads drifted closer (so slowly John didn't even realize it was happening), the only question he could ask himself was: Why haven't we done this before?

It felt right.

The iridescent hue of Sherlock's eyes darted back and forth between John's and John reacted on instinct, reaching his hand up to brush across Sherlock's cheek.

Sherlock froze and John felt a pit of ice form in his stomach, dispelling the pleasant heat.

What am I doing?

He pulled away, realized he'd crossed a boundary, Sherlock couldn't possibly want this, and what about Mary?

John cleared his throat, "I'll, uh, go make some tea, shall I?" reverting to his normal reaction at the unexpected and taking off up the stairs before Sherlock could reply.

Sherlock watched John go, blinking rapidly, a small frown crossing his face.

Obviously I did something wrong.

Sherlock had run back the situation in the hallway dozens of times in his head, and that was his final conclusion. John had been moving forward, completely focused on Sherlock (gaze more focused on his lips than his eyes) and then he was gone, off to make some completely irrelevant tea.

Now John had retreated to his room, leaving Sherlock's tea on the table with a short, "Here you go," and leaving so quickly Sherlock didn't have time to reply. He took it as a good sign, though, that John hadn't left the flat; in the stress of the moment, Sherlock was 87 percent confident John had forgotten he didn't live here anymore. Again.

With a sigh, Sherlock sat up and ran his hands through his hair in frustration. How did he talk with John about this? Sherlock had made it perfectly clear how much he abhorred romantic relationships.

Maybe I should… the thought didn't get very far as the annoying image of John and Mary popped up in his head. Surely John would not want to be a cheater. It went against everything Sherlock knew of his character. And while Mary did not seem like the violent type, the passion of love so easily translated into acts of hate. Better for Sherlock to put this all behind him, forget the way his heart raced and his fingers twitched in anticipation…

Stop. He'd spent most of his life training his mind to focus. Sherlock would do that now.

John was with Mary. John loved Mary. And until such time as those statements were false, Sherlock would forget what had happened. He would delete – well, he'd never been able to delete anything about John. But he would not think of it, would not ask if there was anything he could have done differently.

There were some experiments Sherlock had pending. He would use those to distract himself

John sat on the edge of his bed, trying to come to terms with the contradicting thoughts and feelings that were raging within him. On the one hand, John had Mary. John knew he loved Mary. She was good for him; she was there for him – a constant steady presence in his life.

On the other hand, Sherlock made him feel alive. And the heat of shame of what he had almost done was tainted with the heat of desire – John's head dropped to his hands and he groaned.

What do I do now?

Sherlock must not have realized what was going on. The moment John had touched him, he froze. John made the leap that Sherlock had no experience with physical relationships, and therefore didn't read the signs until John had made it too clear to mistake.

Shaking his head back and forth, John looked up to stare blankly at the wall. Who was he, to think that Sherlock would even want him that way? Brilliant, fantastic Sherlock. No one would ever be good enough for him. John knew he was lucky to even be considered Sherlock's friend.

He should act like nothing had happened. Sherlock never broached uncomfortable topics – John would take that approach, not mention it.

He could do that.

Right?