"Oh," Sherlock says one afternoon out of the blue, "that's different."
"What is?" John asks, not particularly interested. He's divided his attention between the telly and writing up a blog post about yesterday's adventure with the roofied ducks. The news hasn't got anything interesting on at the moment, and he's thinking he might make the post title a pun somehow when Sherlock finally says, "You."
"Me what?" he asks, typing away. Something about wild goose chases, maybe?
Glancing over at Sherlock, John stops typing. Carefully neutral, he asks, "And how's that?"
Sherlock doesn't answer, so John turns to look at him properly and repeats the question.
Sherlock frowns. "Not sure," he admits, resting his chin on his hands. "Something in the way you're holding yourself is different, but I can't tell why." He stares at John in that penetrating way he has when he's found something curious. John would rather not be curious, if it's all the same to Sherlock, and he must pick up on that, as after a moment he sits up and turns away. "Never mind," he says, typing away on his phone. "Go back to your blogging."
Keeping one eye on Sherlock, John starts typing again. "Was that encouragement?" he asks, purposefully lighthearted. "Do you secretly like my blog?"
"God no," Sherlock says, sounding utterly disgusted. John tries to hide a smile, and clearly fails, as Sherlock sounds even more appalled when he adds, "But if you must do such a thing, better to do it with me around to correct you when you get the facts wrong."
"Oh, naturally," John says, rather agreeably he thinks, and keeps typing. His racing heart will slow down eventually, he's sure of it.
Later, over takeaway that John devours and Sherlock pushes around in its box, Sherlock asks, "Is it your shoulder?"
Mid-bite, John can only blink at Sherlock in confusion.
Sherlock points at his shoulder with a chopstick. "Your shoulder, is it hurting you? Because there is something different about your posture, the slope of your shoulders has changed."
John blinks again, swallows, and says, "It's not bad, honestly."
"But it does hurt."
Sherlock hms to himself, looking not entirely satisfied with the answer. Then, standing up, he murmurs, "Yes, I suppose that must be it," and leaves the table without another word.
John goes back to his Thai, hoping the sweat prickling at his brow wasn't as noticeable as he feels it is.
If Sherlock is still investigating the mystery of John's changed posture, he doesn't show it. A change of underclothes took care of the problem, anyway, so what should Sherlock care?
It does occur to John that fixing the problem might have aroused Sherlock's suspicions further. It indicates he knows what it is Sherlock noticed, and him knowing something Sherlock doesn't tends to bother his friend.
But whatever, it had been bothering him a bit too. It might not be comfortable, exactly, but it doesn't feel right not to wear it.
Mycroft already knows, of course. It's a matter of public record, as he'd told John during one of his elaborately planned meetings. Sherlock sees that as cheating when he's not working on a case, which is probably the only reason why he hasn't known since the beginning.
This suits John just fine, who would rather nobody knew at all, if it were possible.
Sherlock being Sherlock, he does find out eventually. John wishes he were more surprised that it's because he's been shot, but with the way Sherlock's cases have been of late he knew it was only a matter of time.
And shot in the stomach too, that's no fun at all. Lying on the floor of the warehouse their suspect had been using to hide the drug ducks, John reflects. This is really nothing like his last gun shot wound - icy cold concrete versus hot dusty desert, pain very immediate and present versus pain distant thanks to shock - but at the same time it's very similar. Trying to save a life, stupidly not watching for a second shooter, being saved by a panicking friend.
Sherlock has to rip open his shirt to get at the wound, and then tear apart the shirt for fabric to staunch the blood. There's no way he could have missed seeing the binder John's wearing.
But he doesn't say anything, not even an "Ah" of comprehension like he usually does when an answer lands in front of him. No, he's rather more focused on keeping John's innards in him, which John is vaguely thankful for as he passes out, distant sirens echoing in his ears.
John wakes up in a hospital, as expected, to find Sherlock sitting at his bedside, which is not expected, exactly, but it's growing more commonplace by the day. He likes that, oddly enough. Though that might be the morphine talking. Er, thinking. Might be the morphine thinking. Somehow.
Yes, almost definitely the morphine.
"I was wrong," Sherlock says. He's hunched over his phone, typing away, so John presumes he's talking about the case.
"Wrong about what?" he tries to say, but is rather inconvenienced by his mouth. All that comes out is an inquiring sound.
"You." John's stomach turns into a block of ice. "There's nothing different about you at all."
The ice melts, leaving him shaky and lightheaded. "Oh," he manages.
"You're still recovering, John. Go back to sleep," Sherlock says, and the morphine must be kicking in now, because he could swear he sees Sherlock smiling. Smiling. A smile, on Sherlock's face. And not a mean one, or a "yay, dead people!" one, a real, proper smile. The thought is so amusing he ends up smiling himself as he drifts off.
Though that might have been Sherlock's plan. He's a clever one, that Sherlock. And a very good friend.