Sherlock's phone buzzed and he lifted it to glance at the screen.
Ready. Set. Go.
He tucked the phone into the pocket of his track bottoms and started down the dirt path through the park, running at an easy pace. Three minutes later he rounded the corner into an open area and headed toward a stand of benches, slowing his pace slightly.
Five men clustered near a statue of St. Gregory, their dark suits making them a bit conspicuous in the park at this hour. One held a briefcase tightly at his side and raised a cigarette to his lips with his free hand. He blew a long stream of smoke into the air above him and nodded at something one of the other men said.
On one of the benches a man sat reading a newspaper, legs crossed, his face obscured by the page he held before him. Two teenage boys stood by the fountain; one held a football under one arm and gestured at his friend with other, apparently in the middle of a rather amusing tale.
All of this was observed during the two seconds it took Sherlock to run within a few yards of the men. He paid them no attention as he ran past; they eyed him warily for a second before dismissing him entirely.
Just as he neared the edge of the clearing, Sherlock grimaced and stumbled, falling to the ground with a strained cry, one hand clenching his chest.
"Oh my God!" one of the teenagers shouted, and the men in suits turned to gape as Sherlock thrashed on the dirt path for several more seconds before going still.
The man sitting on the bench dropped his paper and leapt to his feet. He dashed across the clearing and dropped to his knees at Sherlock's side.
"Are you all right? Sir? I'm a doctor, let me--" He broke off then, his eyes widening at the sight of Sherlock's eyes rolling back into his head. He pressed two fingertips to the pulse point in his neck and nodded once, then leaned across Sherlock and put an ear over his mouth, his eyes watching his chest. "Pulse is weak and he's not breathing."
"Is he going to die?" one of the teenagers asked as he drew closer, the football clutched against his chest. He fumbled with the strap of the rucksack on his shoulder and looked back over his shoulder at his friend, who seemed happy to keep his distance.
"Have you got a mobile?" the man asked him. "Call 999."
"I haven't got one. My mum took it away." The teenager looked stricken.
"One of you lot, then," the man said, turning his gaze to the men standing by the statue. "Don't just stand about. This man's life may be at stake!"
The men looked at each other, clearly panicked. The one with the briefcase fumbled in his pocket for his mobile.
"I'm dialing it now," he said.
"What are you doing?" one of the others hissed and batted his phone away. "Are you mad?"
"That's 500 quid, right there," the man retorted, scrambling for his mobile in the dirt. "Have some respect."
"Oh, for fuck's sake!" the doctor groaned, pulling his own mobile from his pocket and punching the number. He handed the phone to the teenager. "Tell them we need a paramedic. I'm starting rescue breathing."
He leaned down over Sherlock, his back to the men, and whispered, "Here goes nothing." He pinched Sherlock's nose shut, tilted his jaw upwards as he opened his mouth, and fit his own lips over Sherlock's in a not-quite seal. He took a deep breath through his nose and then blew part of it into Sherlock's mouth; Sherlock inhaled at the same moment, letting his chest rise sharply. John turned his head to look at Sherlock's chest as he exhaled. His lips formed numbers as he counted silently. Two fingers pressed against his neck again, checking his pulse. After several seconds, he pinched Sherlock's nose closed, retilted his chin to open the airway, and fake-breathed again.
They ought to have practiced this beforehand, but John had seemed oddly reluctant. It was a strange sensation: John's open mouth pressed against his own, lips touching in something almost like a kiss as they shared a breath. It was startlingly intimate. Perhaps that was why John had refused to practice?
"Oi, I think I heard a siren," the football-wielding teenager said. "They're coming. It sounds like the police as well."
"Go meet them," John said as Sherlock exhaled. "Tell them where we are."
The boy nodded and took off at a jog. John's lips pressed against Sherlock's again, and as Sherlock inhaled he couldn't help shifting a bit, just enough that their lips moved softly across each other. John turned his head and Sherlock's lips brushed his ear as he exhaled, and Sherlock could swear he felt him shiver slightly.
There was a quiet argument behind them and a scuffle of shoes.
"We've got to get out of here before the Met turn up."
"The briefcase! It’s gone!"
"What? Where the hell could it have gone?"
"It was here!" Panic seemed to be setting in now. "I set it down when you knocked my phone away and--"
"One of those kids, must've been."
"Who just ran to meet the cops?" A note of incredulity in that one.
"They just pinched your case, you dolt. They aren't going to the cops."
"Shit, that kid took my phone!" John said, looking around frantically. "Just fucking perfect. Try to do a good deed and look what it gets you." He shook his head in disgust and pressed his mouth against Sherlock's again, not fully pinching his nose closed this time. Sherlock inhaled through his nose, and somehow this last "breath" had seemed more like a kiss than any that had gone before.
"Let's split up," one of the men said. "They can't have gone far." The scuffle of feet grew quieter, and then the clearing was silent.
John looked over his shoulder. "I think they're gone."
"Don't get up yet," Sherlock whispered. "Wait until we hear from Kyle."
"I wasn't going to." John leaned over him again to give the impression he was still performing rescue breathing. This time his lips hovered a centimeter above Sherlock's. It was oddly disappointing.
A minute and three faux breaths later, Sherlock's phone buzzed. John dug it out of his pocket to glance at the screen, and immediately rolled his eyes. "Clear," he said, sitting back on his heels.
Sherlock plucked the phone from his hand.
Made our getaway, so you can stop snogging now. Meet you at the spot at the time.
"I told you it would work." Sherlock pushed to his feet and dusted himself off.
"My definition of this working would include us actually getting our hands on the contents of that briefcase before the day is out. Are you sure you can trust Kyle?"
"I trust that he wants to collect his payment, and he won't get a penny until he delivers the files in that briefcase to me."
John sighed and thrust a rucksack at him; Kyle's football-wielding accomplice, Alton, had dropped it when he came over to signal that Kyle had taken the briefcase. "I'd better get my phone back."
"As soon as he places some extraordinarily expensive calls, I imagine you will." He opened the rucksack and pulled out its contents: a neatly-folded change of clothes to aid his exit from the park. "See you at home, then?"
"Yeah." John glanced around the clearing once more before standing.
Sherlock watched him disappear around the bend in the path before turning to walk in the opposite direction.