John stared down at the body, wondering when this had become normal. Nondescript black clothing, semi-auto strapped against one thigh, shattered skull leaking blood and brains all over the pavement. It didn’t take a doctor to know that the fall could have been fatal, but John guessed it probably wasn’t. That honor went to the arrow that had somehow survived the six-storey drop, jutting at a slight angle from the dead man’s back — a perfect heart-shot.
He hung around the scene for the ten minutes it took for a PCSO to take his statement. Then he went home, glad that this one, at least, had nothing to do with him. Still, he made a mental note not to mention it to Sherlock. It wouldn’t be so bad if the man had been shot out a window, but John’s best guess put him up on the roof, since there’d been no broken glass near the body. Sherlock would want to sweep every roof in the area, and after a day of work and fighting the queues at Tesco’s John was too tired. At the very least, he felt he’d earned a cup of tea.
He put the groceries away, binned the baggie of veins that had gone untouched for two weeks, and went upstairs to change. Sherlock was out, hopefully not doing anything illegal, which meant John might actually be able to enjoy an hour or two of telly without Sherlock ruining the endings.
As he reached the top of the stairs, though, he heard a noise in his room. Sighing, he pushed the door open, hoping to find Mrs. Hudson and not Sherlock. Mrs. Hudson occasionally came up if they’d gotten socks mixed up in the washing. Sherlock, on the other hand, had no sense of personal privacy, and John was not interested in having his life dissected again.
He threw open the door, and for a moment, he saw nothing. Then a dark figure dropped down from the attic access, and John was lunging for the gun in the nightstand, tipping over the lamp as he jerked the drawer open too hard. He twisted against the bed, falling to sit on the edge, raising the SIG before he recognized —
His flatmate rose from his graceful crouch and turned, giving John an absolutely innocent look to which he had no right, clad as he was in tight matte black trousers, almost like a wetsuit, that hugged his body, and a zip-front vest that showed off the lean lines of his torso, leaving surprisingly muscular arms bare — the left arm, anyway. There were four black straps around his right arm from wrist to elbow, and as Sherlock turned, John saw they held a leather pad against the inside of his forearm.
In his right fist, he held a bow. Meant for archery. Meant for shooting people off rooftops with arrows.
John wanted to shout at him, to demand what the hell he’d been doing, but the sight of Sherlock’s body had him completely arrested. After all these months living together, John thought he’d seen every possible facet of Sherlock. Stylish suits and too-tight shirts, buttons straining below his long, pale throat. Silk dressing gown and inside-out T-shirts and casual pyjama bottoms over bare feet.
And it wasn’t even that of the two of them, he was the fighter. The soldier. Because he’d seen Sherlock defend himself, and he knew that Sherlock had studied judo and other forms of martial arts.
But he had never even imagined anything like this.
“Oh. John,” Sherlock said, as if this were somehow normal. “Hello.”
“Hello,” John repeated. “Just ‘hello’.”
Sherlock gave him that so-superior look of his, the one that reminded everyone that Sherlock in no way considered himself to be merely human. “Oh, is this where I’m supposed to ask how your day was?” He sighed and pressed a catch on the bow. Some hidden mechanism tightened the string, folding the arms down into a neat, compact package.
Realizing he was still holding the SIG, he quickly put it back in the drawer. “No. No, Sherlock,” John said incredulously. He got to his feet and slammed the drawer shut. “This isn’t about my day. It’s about what the hell you’re doing dressed like that!”
Sherlock looked down at himself as though only then realizing he was dressed like a big-budget movie version of an assassin. With a bow.
“Oh. Just... safeguarding... something important,” he said awkwardly. “If you’ll excuse me, though, I really do need to change before Mycroft arrives.”
John’s question — Something important? — died on his lips. “Mycroft?” he asked instead, following Sherlock out of the bedroom. Strapped over his left shoulder was a sleek black quiver with a dozen or so arrows sticking out the top. And dear God, the back of the outfit was just as body-hugging. John could see every muscle flex and tense, dragging his thoughts down paths he’d thought long since closed and forgotten.
“Yes. Misappropriation of government resources. He gets so touchy.”
“What — Is this all government?” John asked, scrambling to catch up.
Sherlock stopped abruptly at the foot of the stairs. He turned and looked right into John’s eyes, lifting his right hand awkwardly, uncertainly, before he rested his fingertips on John’s shoulder.
“You must be more careful, John. You look for threats on the street and in dark doorways, but you need to learn to look up.”