Exploring Sexuality

A/N: Sorry not sorry about the cliffhanger, hope this chapter is worth the wait! Your reviews, favorites, follows, etc. are always greatly appreciated xoxo

Ch. 23

"What? What happened?" Liz asked nervously as John got to his feet, trying to listen to the com with Sherlock yelling at Lestrade over the phone. It went dead.

"We don't know yet," John replied more calmly than he felt as he walked to Sherlock and grabbed his waist, holding him still so they were facing each other. Forcing him to stop pacing and listen and think.

"He hung up on me!" Sherlock cried indignantly, glaring down at John like that was his fault.

John ignored the glare. "That was probably because all you were doing was yelling in his ear," he pointed out rationally. "Whatever happened, chances are someone will have to go to the hospital, right? So that's where we should go, and then you can talk to Lestrade."

Sherlock took three deep breaths, then nodded, looking over John's shoulder. "What about Liz? I'm not leaving her alone." His voice was quiet, but firm.

"Unless you don't think she can, she can come with us."

Sherlock nodded, ghosting a kiss over John's forehead with a whispered thanks before pulling back and walking over to Liz. "We were only connected through sound, but four gunshots went off and Lestrade hung up on e. We're going to go to the hospital and find out what happened, and you're welcome to join us." He paused, almost self-consciously. "Unless you don't want to. Then I could stay with you and John could go, but-"

"I'll come with you," she said, sensing Sherlock's uneasiness about leaving either herself or John. "I don't mind, I can stay out of the way, and you can stay with John."

Sherlock nodded and smiled, his cheeks a very light pink. "Okay. Good. Thank you. Let's go, then," he said, shaking it off and looking over his shoulder at John. "Tell Lestrade we'll meet him at the hospital," he ordered, already walking out the door.

John walked beside Liz as they left and looked at her seriously. "It's fine that you're coming, it really is, but I know you've probably been through a lot lately, so if anything triggers you, I want you to find me and tell me, alright?" he said, his voice soft and reassuring.

Liz looked up at him and nodded silently before looking to Sherlock ahead of them again, furrowing her brows slightly. "Something's wrong, isn't it?" she asked quietly.

"Well, we don't know what-"

"No, not with that," she said, shaking her head, then trying to backtrack. "I mean, of course something went wrong, but that wasn't what I was talking about," Liz amended. "I meant with Sherlock."

John looked from this strange little girl, to Sherlock, then back again and sighed a bit, nodding. She was smart, good at reading people, John could tell already. "This case has been really hard for him," he confided quietly. "In a personal way. But he'll be fine again once he solves it."

Liz nodded as they walked outside, Sherlock already hailing them a cab. "Alright."

Sherlock made John slide in first so that he could sit in the middle, but then all he did was bounce restlessly between John and Liz.

John texted Lestrade saying they'd meet him at the hospital, then sighed and put a hand on Sherlock's knee. "I know it's bad, and I know you're keyed," he started sympathetically, "but I swear to God, Sherlock, if you don't stop bouncing, I am going to stop the cab and make you walk there to calm down."

This made Liz giggle quietly to herself, determinedly looking out the window as if to hide it. But Sherlock took a deep breath and let it out slowly and ceased his bouncing. He took John's hand and held it tight, like he was channeling all his energy into that instead. "I need to talk to Donovan when we get there, not Lestrade."

"We'll see," was all John said in response.

John paid the cabby as Liz and Sherlock got out, letting Sherlock take his hand again as they walked in and the detective did a quick once over of the reception and waiting area. He kissed John's cheek briefly, squeezing his hand. "Stay with Liz a minute; I'm going to talk to reception," he murmured before doing just that.

"Do you two realize that I am sixteen and can actually hear when you talk about me?" Liz asked curiously, her voice light.

That only made John smile a bit at her. "We might be doing it if you were sixty, so don't take it too personally," he replied warmly, watching Sherlock talk with the woman at the desk.

"Layla," Liz said quietly after a couple of minutes. "That's my real name," she clarified when John gave her a confused look. "I figured you might want to know, even if he never asks. I'd… Liz was just the first name that came to mind, and I might change it later, but I'd like to stick with that though, if you don't mind. They used to… um, twist our names. Crudely. So I'd kind of not like to go by that anymore."

John nodded understandingly. "It was nice of you to tell me," he said, honestly touched that she felt comfortable enough around him already to do so. "We can stick with Liz, or whatever you'd like, of course," he promised.

"Thanks," she whispered with a shy smile, hugging John hesitantly.

"Of course," John repeated quietly, returning the girl's hug.

"Isn't it nice?" Sherlock asked, walking up behind them again with a small smile, making Liz pull away from John as a faint blush rose to her cheeks. "It shouldn't be, a simple embrace fixing everything. Sentiment," he scoffed, taking John's hand again, subconsciously possessive. "I like to think it's because he's a doctor. Fixing people is what he does."

"Or you could just admit you like hugs, you overly possessive git," John teased with a playful roll of his eyes before turning serious again. "What'd the receptionist say?"

"Nothing useful. We'll have to go find them ourselves; either they

Re not here yet, or, more likely, word of them hasn't gotten here yet," Sherlock responded. "Do you think Lestrade would pick up now if I called him again?"

"He might if you use my mobile," John said, handing it to him. He smiled apologetically at Liz, his way of saying 'don't mind him, he was just being obnoxious.' She smiled back and he knew it was no big deal.

"Oh, good, you picked up," Sherlock announced to the phone. "Are you here yet? Where's Donovan? What happened? No, ignore the last one for now." Pause. "Well, I need to see her. Be there in a minute." Then he hung up.

"So?" John questioned, accepting his mobile back and returning it to his pocket.

"Donovan should be in room 316 shortly, but I need to speak with her before she gets there. Stay here and wait for Lestrade, please," Sherlock answered, giving John a quick peck on the cheek before heading off to no doubt cause trouble. John sighed and shook his head, watching him go.

"Shouldn't we go with him?" Liz asked.

"Normally I would, but he said please. It's Sherlockian for 'I mean it, and I know you know I'm serious because I never say please ever, so just do whatever I'm asking of you,'" he explained.

Liz giggled a bit, looking up at John. "And does it work?"

That made John chuckle in response, but he nodded. "Nine times out of ten, I'm afraid."

"He didn't say please when asking for me to stay with you."

"He knew he didn't have to," John said, looking down at Liz. "He knew I'd agree."

Before she could think up anything to respond to that with, John's mobile buzzed and he fished it out of his pocket.

Come be a doctor. SH

"Bugger," John mumbled under his breath, reading as another text came in.

Room 316. Quickly. Need your help. SH

"Okay," John said, shoving his mobile back in his pocket. "Change of plans. We have to go find him; room 316."

Liz nodded and got out of the chair she had settled into, quickly following John through the halls and around corners. They found the room easily enough, a small blessing, and John knocked once before letting himself in.

"There; see, John Watson. Perfectly capable army doctor, fixed up plenty of gunshot wounds, out you go," Sherlock said tersely, pushing a baffled doctor past John and out the door.

"I bloody well hope he's better than 'perfectly capable,'" Donovan grumbled from the bed, and John was at her side in seconds, but felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Not yet; let me look," Sherlock said, and John only stared at him. "The other doctor wouldn't let me," he explained vaguely, cutting the bandaging away from Donovan's forearm.

"And why should I be letting you?" John questioned, eyeing Donovan wearily. Her hands were fisted in the sheets of the hospital bedding, face a bit pale and eyes squeezed shut. But she nodded just slightly.

"Because you know about the case."

"Then keep her arm elevated with pressure as you can," John instructed, hearing a small gasp from behind him when Sherlock removed the bandaging. He turned to see Liz turning away and dropping to sit on the ground, resting her head in her arms and her arms on her knees. He checked to make sure Sherlock was doing what he had said, and when he was satisfied walked over to Liz. He crouched down beside her and set a gentle hand on her shoulder. He quickly took it back, however, when she flinched. "Liz?" he said softly. "Are you alright?"

The girl shook her head and sniffled quietly.

"It's going to be alright. Donovan is going to be fine. It's not life threatening, and I'm going to help her, okay? It's going to be fine; you don't have to worry about it," John soothed.

"Ow, you dick, what the fuck are you doing?" Donovan snapped, voice tight with pain inn a way that made Liz flinch and John turn around.

"Applying pressure like John told me to," Sherlock snapped back, and John let out a little relieved sigh. "Watch your mouth," he reprimanded, almost like an afterthought, and John tried not to chuckle. Liz almost smiled into her arms.

"Let me shoot you and we'll see if you watch your mouth, you-"

"Alright, Sherlock, my turn," John said abruptly and leaving Liz's side.

"But I'm not-"

"I don't care. Go sit with Liz, let me be a doctor," John said more firmly, staring at Sherlock until he gave in.

"Fine," he muttered, mumbling crossly to himself until he sat at Liz's side. She leaned up against him carefully, and Sherlock put a reassuring, if awkward, arm around her shoulders, telling her quietly about all the times John had fixed them up.

John slipped into doctor mode and stitched Donovan up fairly painlessly and efficiently. She kept her eyes closed and fists clenched as he worked. "You'll probably be in a sling for a couple of weeks, but nothing major," he informed her when he finished, to which she did open her eyes and nod.

"Thanks, John."

"Glad I could help," John replied honestly, washing his hands again in the sink at the corner of the room. He was drying them when Lestrade walked in with a very upset looking doctor.

"You should probably give her a little something more for the pain, but other than that, she's fine," he said nonchalantly, throwing the paper towels in the bin.

The doctor opened his mouth and took a breath, probably to tell him off, and John mentally prepared himself for it, but Sherlock cut in before he could start. "It's my fault; Donovan was injured on a case that I am rather personally invested in and I needed to talk to her and assess the damage before her wound was properly taken care of. Don't blame John, he was only helping and already told me off for it." Bit of an overstatement on the last part, but hopefully effective.

Donovan, Greg, and John all stared at Sherlock open mouthed in surprise, but the doctor only looked slightly impressed. John spoke first, crouching down beside Sherlock to kiss the top of his head. "Thank you, love. But I do actually know the rules, maybe even better than you."

"You were an army doctor?" the doctor questioned, looking between all of them assessingly.

John nodded. "Discharged due to injury. I work part time at a clinic now."

"When he's not keeping me in line at crime scenes," Sherlock put in helpfully.

"Or just in general," Donovan mumbled.

The doctor didn't say anything for a while, but then he sighed heavily and nodded, looking to Lestrade. "I'll speak with you later, Detective Inspector. For now, all of you need to leave."

"In a minute," Sherlock replied, as if the doctor were only talking to him. He bounced up and walked over to Donovan. "Do you have it?"

Donovan nodded and reached into her pocket with her good arm. "Solve this damn case already," she said, handing Sherlock two small vials of white powder.

"Will do. Thanks for taking one for the team," Sherlock replied almost cheerily, holding a hand out to John but looking at Lestrade. "We'll be at Bart's," he informed easily before pulling John out behind him, Liz following in their wake.

"I need to talk to you later," Lestrade called, to which Sherlock merely nodded before turning a corner.

"Thank you," Sherlock and John both said at same time, which made Lis smile. John looked up at Sherlock confusedly. "What are you thanking me for?" he asked incredulously.

"Putting up with me, mostly. Finding us quickly enough," Sherlock replied in a way that John knew he was making light of it.

So he smiled softly and squeezed Sherlock's hand. "I do that all the time, lobe. Threatening my medical license is just another day of jumping over rooftops," he said in a way that ensured Sherlock would know it was okay and he wasn't mad.

Sherlock smiled a bit and scoffed. "I haven't made you do that in ages," he said, squeezing John's hand in return.

"You jump over rooftops?" Liz asked, part excitement, part shock.

"Not regularly, obviously," Sherlock said, his smile growing.

"You, only, like, once a month," John laughed, rolling his eyes.

And that made Liz laugh, and Sherlock even chuckled a bit, and John could see that they might be able to make this work.

At least for a little while.