They’re in the country investigating the murder of a single mother and her kids.
They run through the rain and the trees, a dog at their heels, jaws snapping. Sherlock is pulling John forward by his wrist, and John can’t stop swearing, even though it’s the best fun he’s had all month.
“If we live through this I’m going to bloody kill you, Sherlock!”
Sherlock doesn’t say a word, but John can tell from the turn of his cheek by the light of his torch that he’s smiling, and John swears again, loudly. The snapping dog behind him sounds like thawing ice in spring.
His lungs are burning and so are his legs, and he’s already got blood running down his fingertips from a bite he got earlier. He’s not as young as he was and he’s pretty much just running on adrenaline. It’s glorious.
He catches John with both arms before John can run past. For a red blinding moment all John can see is the sharp steep gorge inches before them, and the bloody mess he would’ve been if Sherlock hadn’t pulled him back.
The dog has reached them. It’s come, eyes burning yellow in the light of the torches. Its teeth are gleaming savagely with saliva and there’s froth billowing at its lagging tongue. It’s only one moment and all John can see is his breath clouding and mingling with Sherlock’s, the sinister curl of the dog’s lips, the gleam of wet on its nose, the way it runs that makes it look like it’s flying towards them, towards Sherlock and John. John shuts his eyes as the dog leaps at their throats.
And then all of Sherlock’s weight is pulling him down and he falls on his face, his mouth suddenly full of soggy leaves as the dog goes sailing above their heads and into the gorge. There’s a whimper, the sound of tumbling, and then silence.
John turns over onto his back. He’s thoroughly bruised and completely covered in mud and leaves and there’s rain falling into his open laughing mouth and beading in the corners of his eyes like tears.
He’s come to love the rain. He used to have to shoulder through it, not let it get to him. Ignore that it was rain and not missiles, it was hiding under umbrellas and not steel roofs. It meant days in and curled up with tea, no time for his heart to jump in his chest or for him to wonder what his last words would be.
Now John doesn’t have to wait in the rain, because London’s criminals don’t either. And definitely not Sherlock. John cannot imagine the thing that would make Sherlock Holmes wait. He’s pretty sure it would have to be death, and he hopes he never has to witness that.
Sherlock ends up figuring out the owner of the dog and the consequent murderer by the breed of the dog, and they’re back home in 221B as the sun is rising, Chinese food settled comfortably in their stomachs.
It’s still raining in Baker Street, but John finds it is so much easier to dress in warm clothes and draw a blanket close around him when there is still adrenaline churning inside of him. He’s restless and can’t sit down for too long, definitely can’t sleep. His arm is hurting him where the dog bit him so he takes painkillers absentmindedly.
And beside him, Sherlock watches him from the sofa, his eyelashes drifting downwards slowly to brush shadows onto his cheekbones. Everything about him is now a study in slowing down. He has lost all energy, like he always does at the end of a case. John knows he has only slept two hours in as many weeks. He’s like a trumpeter who won’t take a breath, he just keeps going on and on with his dazzling solo, won’t stop until it’s finished and he must breathe and breathe.
And here is John, singing Beatles lyrics under his breath and already brainstorming the next title for his blog.
“Don’t touch the egg carton on the second shelf in the fridge. It’s an experiment.” Sherlock always does this when he’s about to go to sleep, lists things for John to do as if he’s going away for a long time. John will try not to miss him in the silence that settles over everything when Sherlock is sleeping.
“Go to sleep, Sherlock.” It’s always a struggle.
John puts a blanket on him like always.
He watches the rising sun outside send shafts of light through the shutters and onto everything in their flat like stripes of gold, like trophies, pale flags to show the rain’s stopped falling outside.