Sherlock is lucky. He knows he is. He knows John deserves better than him. He knows John is better than him. He knows that it’s a miracle that John is with him, puts up with him, wants him, loves him.
But he also knows that John feels the exact same way. Which is why Sherlock doesn’t understand this. Doesn’t understand why John would put him through this. Doesn’t understand how John could be so evil.
From the other side of the kitchen table John glances back over his shoulder.
“Are those your deduction skills at work, then?” John asks. He turns away again, back to the worktop where he is making tea.
“We have to leave, John.”
“Not without tea, Sherlock.”
“I don’t care about the tea, John.”
“Well I do, so you can just sit down and bloody be patient.”
And this time when John looks back he smirks. And then he turns away again. And then. Then. Then he wriggles his hips and even though Sherlock can’t see his face he knows John is blushing because when John blushes, all of John blushes.
“John!” he chokes out.
“Drink your tea,” John says. “Or Anderson will get there first.”
* * * * *
Anderson is already there. Sherlock scowls. He isn’t sure if he’s more annoyed about all the people crawling over his crime scene or the fact that he could have taken ten minutes to shag John on the worktop without it making any difference after all.
John seems to know what he’s thinking because he looks over at Sherlock and with a wide-eyed look he drops a hand to his chest and Sherlock watches as the fingers tease at a nipple, invisible under vest, shirt, and jumper, but Sherlock has John memorised by now and he can easily imagine just what is happening to that particular body part at this particular time. He bites his lip and glares.
“John,” he says warningly.
“Dead body, Sherlock,” John says. “Don’t get distracted.”
* * * * *
The suspect is half a block ahead by the time they start to give chase and by the time they narrow it down to a few yards Sherlock is doing his best to ignore the stitch in his side. John, with shorter legs, finally outstrips him and it’s he who launches himself the last few feet, tackling their quarry to the ground in a flurry of limbs and curses.
Sherlock is on them in a moment but it’s unnecessary. The man hit his head in the fall and is lying dazed on the ground, still entangled in John’s limbs. John himself has a graze running down the side of his face and though he’s hanging on to the suspect Sherlock can tell something is paining him. His shoulder, probably, judging by the way he had hit the pavement.
First thing first, Sherlock cuffs the dazed man and because they’re getting old and because John is bleeding, he strips off his scarf and wraps it around the man’s ankles as well before texting Lestrade. NSY can do some work for themselves for once. Sherlock’s not a bloody delivery service.
And then, only then, when he thinks he can talk to John without yelling, does he kneel on the ground beside him and with a hand that’s probably a little too rough he turns the bloodied graze towards him. John is grinning, the idiot, and Sherlock allows himself the luxury of a derisive snort.
“Shut up,” John says. “You’re just mad I got to him before you.”
Yes, Sherlock is mad. Sherlock is mad that John got there before him. Sherlock is mad that before John he wouldn’t have had to be concerned about this tight, bright pain in his chest like a heart attack just because someone else was injured and lying bleeding on the ground. Sherlock is mad that they’re both getting older which means that whatever time they have is slowly running out. Sherlock is mad that a few years ago it would have been him bleeding and in pain, not John. Not John. He doesn’t say these things of course. John would just roll his eyes and tell him to stop being so bloody sentimental and if he’d wanted to marry a watering pot he would’ve made a move on Nazreen in NSY’s accounting department years ago.
So instead Sherlock just glares at him and John’s grin widens and he leans up and puts his lips against Sherlock’s neck and the slow reassuring pressure of a warm wet tongue dips out and tastes him, followed, a moment later, by the nip of sharp teeth.
“I think you should probably take me to hospital now,” John says. “The shock is starting to wear off and I’m fairly sure something is broken.”
* * * * *
Something is broken. Just his wrist. His right one, so not even his dominant hand. And it’s a clean break. So Sherlock doesn’t understand why the heart attack feeling in his chest hasn’t gone away yet. He paces restlessly on the pavement in front of St Mary’s waiting for John to come out.
And when he does, Sherlock catches the look of pale exhaustion on John’s face before he catches sight of Sherlock and instantly his face is pulled into a reassuring smile. I’m fine, it’s fine, his face says, and Sherlock knows it’s true but he still wants to go to him and hold him and surround him and make him safe from the pain and the danger of the world. But he doesn’t, because he knows John would hate that just as he would hate it if John did it to him.
So instead he stops pacing and waits where he is, holding the door of the taxi open and closing it behind him again before going around to the other side and getting in himself.
As the taxi pulls away from the kerb, Sherlock holds out a silent hand and John grimaces and passes the prescription over to him. Pain killers, not very strong ones. Nurofen would probably be as effective. Nevertheless, they stop at the pharmacy and Sherlock paces and glowers as he waits for them to fill it before pocketing the bottle of tablets and going back to the taxi where John has fallen into a doze and the driver is reading what looks like a regency romance in the front seat. Sherlock gets back into the taxi and John starts awake as the door shuts and the car begins to move again.
“Okay?” Sherlock asks.
John hums an affirmative. “Tired,” he says. “Getting old.”
Sherlock snorts but doesn’t say anything and John looks at him with a look of such tender understanding that for a second Sherlock is afraid he might actually cry. The pain in his chest is making it hard to breathe and he pants for a second between clenched teeth before he manages calm himself down again.
Beside him, John shuffles closer on the seat, then rests his head against Sherlock’s shoulder and his left arm in Sherlock’s lap.
“Idiot,” he murmurs and turns his face inwards where he drops a soft kiss on Sherlock’s jaw before closing his eyes with a sigh. Sherlock squeezes his eyes shut as well, letting himself cave in beneath that reassuringly familiar weight, and he doesn’t notice right away that John’s hand in his lap has started to move, the fingers slowly circling his leg and then sliding inwards to his thigh.
“John,” he says warningly and he feels John’s smile against his shoulder.
“Sherlock,” John says, and his fingers ghost upwards and Sherlock bites back a groan.
“Sadist,” he growls instead and John chuckles tiredly.
* * * * *
Sherlock puts John to bed as soon as they get home and John doesn’t even protest. He hums sleepily and curls himself under the blanket, his wrist with its encasing cast a point of exclamation against the dark sheets.
Sherlock doesn’t join him right away. The phantom heart attack isn’t going away and he still can’t breathe properly and he’s afraid that if he touches John right now he’ll crush him, suffocate him under the weight of his need and his fear. So he putters about the flat, making tea and ignoring it, looking at random slides on the microscope, cutting up leftover fingers from yesterday’s aborted experiment. He takes pleasure in the neat cylinders of flesh and bone and he lets himself get lost in it for a while until a noise makes him look up and there is John, tousled and heavy-eyed in the doorway, watching him with a bemused expression on his face.
“Molly’s going to kill you. She had to lie to three different people to get those fingers for you.”
Sherlock shrugs. “It was a stupid experiment.”
John just looks at him, and then, without a word, he holds out a hand and Sherlock goes to him.
“Wait,” John says just before Sherlock reaches him. “Wash your hands first.”
Sherlock rolls his eyes but does as he’s asked and when he turns around John is still there, waiting for him to finish. John smiles but the expression wavers. “Hold me?” he says, and the words, so simple, so rarely said between them, are uncertain and half-ashamed, as if this is a weakness and John knows it but for a second, for brief syllables, he just can’t help himself. And Sherlock just nods, takes him in his arms and holds him while they both shake and if they’re both crying (Relief? Pain? Helplessness?) neither one of them mentions it.
And afterwards, John takes Sherlock by the hand and leads him to their bed where Sherlock holds him again, John’s heat pulled up against his front, their bodies tight against each other with nothing left to come in between, not right then, not in that moment. John presses back against him and Sherlock lets him, offering himself up as John nudges his hips into position and slowly they slide together and just like that John is surrounding him, making him safe from the pain and the danger of the world and the heart attack in Sherlock’s chest is gone as he cries his completion into the precious skin against his mouth.