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Sherlock had never before hated that there were seventeen steps up to their flat. For that matter, he didn't even remember that it was seventeen steps; he must continuously delete that information. But step-counting only mattered right now because of his injuries from the latest case. In fact,both he and John were in bad shape; Sherlock was limping, heavily favoring his left leg. Their case had scarcely been on their radar for two days, but that was the fast-paced world of smuggling for you. They had wrapped it tonight after an all-out brawl in an alley (inelegant, but thrilling, four against two, injuries were inevitable). They had each dealt with the smugglers, taking down two apiece. But it had cost them: Sherlock had a bloody lip (only a few teeth loose), a black eye (should have known he was left-handed), and a sprained knee (spectacular kick, really, it was worth it to take out the last smuggler). John had been finished with his assailants by the time Sherlock looked over; both of them were out cold on the pavement and had remained so even after the police caught up. John had flexed his fingers with a wince (bloody knuckles from punching so hard) and straightened, reaching out to steady himself against the wall. One hand went to his right side, his eyes closed in pain (bruised or fractured rib, hard to tell the difference without an x-ray).

Lestrade had offered to take them to the hospital, but both of them waved it off. There was no pressing reason to go, so instead John and Sherlock had painfully piled into a cab and gone home. Here they were, coming through their front door, both of them in rather excruciating pain. John slowly made his way over to the fridge and opened the freezer. "Sherlock," his said softly. "Get the bottle of pills from the underside of your chair, would you?"

Sherlock passed through the doorway and limped over to the chair. He tipped the chair over; he could not get down on his hands and knees at the moment. There, taped exactly where he said it would be (clever John), was an unmarked bottle of pills. Sherlock bent at the waist and pulled it up, then limped over to the kitchen table. John had put two bags of frozen vegetables, a bag of ice, and an ice pack on the table while Sherlock had gotten the pills. John was now opening the first aid kit (retrieved from under the sink), tugging out some plasters and a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

"What are these?" Sherlock asked, grabbing two glasses and filling them partway with water.

"Ibuprofen with codeine," John answered, eyeing Sherlock's knee. "Will you sit down?"

He put the glasses down and passed the bottle to John before levering himself up on the table, evening out the height difference somewhat. John pushed a chair over and sat, groaning.

John's fingers fumbled slightly as he rolled up Sherlock's trouser leg. Sherlock saw that John's hands were shaking, mostly likely due to exhaustion, fatigue, the draining of adrenaline from his system, and the pain. "Are you alright?" Sherlock asked as John flexed his fingers gently.

John flashed his crooked smile. "Sure, just ignore my hands and my ribs and I could run a marathon," he answered.

"Well, you're obviously not that hurt, since you're still—" Sherlock cut himself off as his hissed with pain. John had started to gently examine his knee.

John hummed, gently kicking Sherlock's leg. His soft fingers probed the knee; it was already bruising. "Just a sprain. Here," he said, reaching into the kit and pulling out a knee brace. "Can you get this on?" John looked up at Sherlock questioningly. He would do it, if he had to, but his ribs were protesting a bit too much.

Sherlock nodded and grabbed the brace, sliding it up and over his knee, clenching his jaw against a pained groan. John picked up the cotton balls and rubbing alcohol from the table. He dripped some alcohol onto the cotton ball and grabbed Sherlock's arm, tugging him down. "This will sting a bit," he warned, reaching up and dabbing the cotton against Sherlock's split lip. Sherlock hissed and jerked away reflexively, pulling John with him. John bit down on his lip as his torso twisted slightly, and Sherlock froze.

"Sorry," Sherlock mumbled.

"S'alright," John responded, relaxing himself again. Sherlock gave him a scathing look (no, it is most certainly not alright), but John reached up and rested his palm against Sherlock's cheek, stilling the younger man. John quickly cleaned Sherlock's lip, then pulled away. He handed Sherlock two of the ibuprofen and a glass of water before taking two of his own. "Now, Sherlock. You can chose between the ice pack, the ice, the peas, or the carrots," John's voice was wry, a hint of a smile playing at his lips.

"In a second. Let me help you first," Sherlock replied. John tried to pull away, but Sherlock grabbed John's hands. "No, let me do this for you," he said. John sighed out, but nodded. Sherlock reached over and grabbed the rubbing alcohol and cotton balls, and set to work on John's knuckles. John gritted his teeth, but didn't otherwise react. When he finished disinfecting, Sherlock bandaged up John's knuckles as best he could. "Jumper?" Sherlock asked, raising an eyebrow. John looked up at his flatmate and gulped before nodding slightly. He shrugged out of his jacket, but winced when he tried to tug his jumper over his head.

"No, allow me," Sherlock offered, sliding off the table. He reached down and grabbed the bottom hem, the pads of his fingers skimming down John's chest. Sherlock's heart rate increased and he silently cursed himself, hoping it wasn't obvious to John. The shorter man didn't notice, or at least, didn't give any sign that he did. Sherlock tugged the jumper up and off, only requiring John to lift his arms slightly. John's chest was fairly well toned, which would have surprised anyone but Sherlock. He knew his flatmate kept up with his army regimen and was absolutely not disappointed by the results.

Sherlock leaned down a bit, not seeing anything wrong with John's chest, but often that meant nothing. He gingerly ran his hands over John's right side, closing his eyes to simply revel in the touch. Sherlock continued for a few moments, feeling along. John closed his eyes, too, and rested his hands on Sherlock's shoulders, one thumb resting beneath the soft hair at the nape of his neck. John involuntarily tightened his grip on Sherlock's shoulders when Sherlock bumped along the subtle ridge of the cracked rib. Sherlock paused, staring up at John. John took a breath and loosened his grip, finally turning his head away as he fully let go.

John didn't have a problem with the pain; he had a very big problem with having Sherlock look at him like that. Sherlock gently felt over the spot, noting how John's hands clenched as he did so. He cleared his throat before saying, "It doesn't feel broken, and if it's fractured then it's shallow. Do you want me to wrap it up?"

John shook his head. "I just need ice and rest, unfortunately," he answered.

Sherlock smiled wryly. "Want me to kiss it and make it better?" he offered, only half-joking.

"And if I said yes?" John deflected, a smile of his own forming.

Well, there was only one proper answer to that. Sherlock rested his hands on John's hips, leaning in. He breathed in John's scent (warm wool, clean ozone, tea, rubbing alcohol) before gently pressing his lips to John's torso. He felt John's hands on the back of head, lightly playing with his hair as Sherlock placed a few more tender kisses to the surrounding area. Sherlock stood, going back to sit on the table before drawing John's hands to his mouth. He watched John as he kissed his knuckles, felt a thrill when he saw John bite down on his lip. John's hands tasted much like John smelled, but with the added flavors of velvet skin (does velvet have a taste? further research needed) and copper blood. It was perhaps the most delicious taste Sherlock had ever encountered.

Too soon, it was over. Sherlock drew his head away, but John twisted his hands and interlocked their fingers. "It's only fair that I reciprocate," John said, his voice husky. Sherlock nodded slowly as John leaned down to apply his lips to Sherlock's knee. He covered as much of the area as he could without hurting Sherlock, his kisses unceasingly soft. John squeezed Sherlock's hands gently as he worked, so Sherlock squeezed back. Surely John must have realized by now how this would end? Please, let him have realized.

John stood, putting their heads at the same level. He tugged out of Sherlock's grip to gently trace the beginnings of a black eye. The older man leaned in and kissed Sherlock's eyelid. He traced out along the bottom with his lips, kissing across to the outside corner, then up across his eyebrow, down the inside corner of his eye, to the bottom which was already beginning to swell. Sherlock hummed with pleasure; he had never known that eye-kissing was so sensual.

Finally John pulled back to rest his forehead against Sherlock's. Sherlock kept his eyes closed as they both breathed, sharing each other's air. This was it; Sherlock only had one injury left. Would John dare? John's nose nuzzled his and Sherlock felt his flatmate's eyelashes move across his skin as John opened his eyes. John leaned back slightly as Sherlock opened his eyes and minutely tilted his head, inviting, asking. The older man leaned in, closing the space between their lips.

The world stopped.

That had never happened to Sherlock. When he had kissed, and been kissed, it merely felt like slightly more contact than normal. This was completely different, because it was John. It felt like the rush of falling with the thrill of discovery and the velvet of poured tea plus the pull of the tide. John was kissing him, he was kissing John. The world could have exploded or imploded or ended or began in that moment and Sherlock wouldn't have noticed. The new world was John's lips against his, and he was very interesting in discovering all it had to offer.

John pulled his lips away just enough to speak. "Sherlock," he whispered. Sherlock hummed in response. "Believe me when I say I'd love to keep kissing you, but right now we both really need to lie down with our ice packs for company."

Sherlock nodded as much as he could and opened his eyes. He smiled at John before grabbing the two bags of vegetables. "My room?" he suggested. "We can keep an eye on each other."

John smiled back, grabbing the ice and ice pack. "Not to mention and hand or two?" he suggested. Sherlock's reply was to lead them back to his room. In the morning, they could talk about new boundaries and this development in their relationship, but for now, Sherlock was just happy to have John by his side.