The underground was crowded, sweltering and noisy. People filled every square inch of the station, children lying on spread out coats, women sitting against the wall, old men standing at the foot of the stairs and talking. A dull roar could be heard above their heads, above ground. A baby cried.
‘This is hateful,’ Sherlock muttered under his breath, looking over John’s head into the darkness of the station’s tunnel. He frowned and pulled a cigarette out of his solid silver case with shaking hands, biting down on the end of it. John struck a match, cupping his hand around it to make sure the draught from the tunnel didn’t extinguish the flame as he lit Sherlock’s cigarette for him.
‘I know,’ John murmured, shaking the match until a thin line of smoke curled up towards the ceiling. The baby continued to cry.
Sherlock drew the smoke into his lungs with a quick, deep breath. ‘The last time we can be together for God only knows how long,’ he spat, pressing the tips of his fingers to his forehead, elbow resting on his drawn-up knee. Smoke escaped his mouth as he spoke. ‘The last time before they keep me under lock and key at Bletchley bloody Park and you get sent to the buggering continent and--’
‘Sherlock,’ John said, his tone quiet and firm as ever.
‘It’s not fair, John,’ Sherlock hissed, inhaling deeply again, locking his wide, wild eyes on John’s. ‘It isn’t fair, and it’s horrid and hateful and beastly and it’s our last night together and we’re in this Godforsaken place and I...’
‘Sherlock,’ John whispered, wrapping his hand around Sherlock’s ankle and squeezing briefly. ‘Calm down.’ The baby let out a loud wail. Its mother rocked it frantically, cooing to it under her breath.
Bristling, Sherlock straightened his back and turned to glare at John. ‘Don’t treat me like a child, John. I don’t want you to go and I don’t want to be here.’ He dropped his voice. ‘I want you in our bed, underneath me. I want my hands on your skin, my lips against yours, I--’ He broke off and brought the cigarette to his mouth, sucking in a shaking breath. He fisted his other hand in the material of his deep grey suit, where it covered his strong thighs. The heat from John’s body next to his bled through the layers of clothes they were both wearing.
‘It isn’t fair,’ Sherlock whispered. ‘It isn’t fair.’
‘I know it isn’t fair, but it is what it is and there’s nothing for us to--’
The baby’s crying rose to a piercing shriek.
‘Oh, will you stop it making that infernal racket?’ he roared at the baby’s mother, silencing the part of the station where he and John sat, causing all eyes in the vicinity to turn to him. He lifted his shaking hand up to inhale from his cigarette again. The young mother lifted her frightened, exhausted eyes to Sherlock, and then to John.
‘I’m sorry, Sir,’ she said, sounding near to tears. ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t get ‘im to settle and--’
‘It’s quite alright,’ John reassured her, giving her a kindly look. ‘My friend didn’t mean anything by that outburst-’ Sherlock scoffed, and John glared at him. ‘Please excuse him, he’s being posted tomorrow, I’m sure you understand.’
‘Course I do, Sir,’ the mother said, nodding, and most of the people staring at them turned back to their own business.
‘I’m sorry,’ John said to her, and she nodded again before attempting to quiet her baby once more.
Neither Sherlock nor John said anything for a minute.
‘Always have to cause a bloody scene, don’t you?’
‘Oh, here we go,’ Sherlock muttered darkly.
‘Always causing a scene because you’re the great Sherlock Holmes and the world must bend itself to your will--’
‘Shut up, John.’
‘Don’t tell me to shut up,’ John snapped, looking in the opposite direction to Sherlock.
There was a rumble and a crash overhead. A collective intake of breath was heard as the walls shuddered and brick dust fell from the ceiling, falling onto Sherlock’s hat and scarf which John held in his lap.
‘I don’t like you very much sometimes,’ John murmured, frowning down at the hat and scarf of Sherlock’s spread across his knees.
‘You’re the only person I can stand,’ Sherlock muttered after an eternity of silence between them.
‘I love you,’ John breathed, turning his head so that it appeared he was looking at the ceiling as he spoke, his mouth six inches away from Sherlock’s ear.
Sherlock swallowed and nodded once, slowly. He pulled his huge, blue coat out from underneath himself and threw it over their knees, using the movement to shift closer to John. He ran his hand along the dirty ground until he found John’s and laced their fingers together, clutching tightly, desperately. John squeezed back.
‘Come back,’ Sherlock whispered. ‘Come home safe.’
‘I will,’ John said, closing his eyes and rubbing his thumb over the inside of Sherlock’s wrist.
‘I need you,’ Sherlock said, sounding small and lost and scared.
‘I know,’ John replied. ‘I know.’
The sky trembled. The walls shook. The baby cried.