Everything felt wrong. His hair was going the wrong way. His arms were bent in ways he wouldn’t choose to bend them. His neck hurt and he couldn’t really feel his toes. Something was dripping on his face – and rolling up.
No, this definitely wasn’t right.
“Sherlock? Sherlock!” a frantic and pained voice whispered next to his ear. Sherlock groaned and turned his head, hissing as the muscles at the juncture of his neck and shoulder flared with pain.
“All right, it’s all right, it’s fine.” Sherlock couldn’t finish turning his head for fear of the muscle seizing completely, but the rest of his senses were kicking back in. Metallic creaks and groans, cracking glass, the distinct smell of petrol and burnt rubber.
A car crash. He had been in a car crash.
“John? Lestrade?” His long fingers scrabbled at the buckle that was strapping him in.
“Still here Sherlock,” said the achy voice to his right. Lestrade was in the driver’s seat, Sherlock in the front passenger, and John…
“John!” Sherlock tried again to get at his seat belt, finally succeeding at getting it unbuckled. He tried to brace himself on his arms to keep from flopping over, but his arms, as it turned out, were a little numb. Sherlock tumbled down ungracefully and let out a muffled “oomph” in the process.
“All right there, Sherlock?” Lestrade’s voice came again. Sherlock shut his eyes against the pain in his shoulder and took several deep breaths as his neck tried to seize. The moment passed, and he carefully shuffled into a more upright position.
“I’m fine.” He took in his surroundings – the police car was nearly crushed, windows blown out, bits of metal and powder from the airbags were everywhere. “Are you all right?”
“I don’t know. I think my leg is broken.”
“You think?” Sherlock asked harshly. He turned and scooted forward, trying to look at Lestrade’s legs, but pinned as they were above him Sherlock couldn’t see them properly.
“I can’t tell either. But I don’t see a lot of blood, so that’s a good sign. Let me wake up John. He can help.”
Sherlock closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remember what happened. Case. String of serial murders under the Vauxhall Arches. No physical evidence so far, no motive, no pattern. Just dead bodies who don’t seem to have any explanation for being dead. Finally Lestrade had asked for his help and came to pick him up in a police car. Sherlock had only acquiesced to go in the car because it was cold and icy and slippery and John didn’t want to wait outside for a cab during the height of shopping and drinking season. Bloody December, Sherlock thought. But then… nothing. Last he knew, they were racing away from Baker Street as Lestrade was trying to describe his new forensics officer.
He shook his head and planned his attack to get at John. Sherlock thought it was probably a fair sign of a concussion that it took him a moment to realize that he wasn’t going to easily be able to get to the back seat. The grating between the front and back was up, Sherlock’s door was smashed in, and he didn’t want to have to climb over Lestrade if he could avoid it – at least, not without assessing other injuries first.
“John!” he shouted again, this time allowing some of his frantic worry to leak through. He pressed his face to the divider and saw John crumpled on the roof of the car, arm dangling in a broken seat belt at an odd angle, legs obscured by an aluminum case full of what Sherlock assumed was crime scene equipment. Sherlock held his breath as he focused on John’s chest. Breathing. Good. Very good. “He’s alive. I just have to wake him up,” Sherlock reported to Lestrade. “John? John! Captain Watson, wake up this instant! We have a soldier here in need of immediate medical attention!”
John groaned as he slowly came back to consciousness. “Yessss, sssirrr?”
‘Captain Waston! Report!” Sherlock felt along the edges of where the grating met the roof and base of the car, but couldn’t find any weaknesses.
“Fuck! Oh fuck! Where is my kit?! Bill! My kit! Now, Murray, goddammit!” John started to struggle and Sherlock could hear his panic breathing as he found himself trapped and nearly immobilized.
“John, it’s all right. We’re in London. In Lestrade’s car. Remember? We were in a wreck.” Sherlock scratched at the grating, desperate to reach John. “Remember?”
“Sherlock,” John gasped as he regained control of himself. “What happened?”
Sherlock sighed with relief as the slurring didn’t reappear. A very good sign. “Car accident. We were on the highway when someone hit us from the back.” Once he started talking, the details began to emerge from the fog in his brain. “We slid forward on the ice, spun, were knocked by another passing car, and rolled. I’m guessing we’re in the middle of a very large wreck on the highway.”
“That means they’ll be awhile in getting to us.” John shifted, then seemed to bite his lip in pain. “Oh god, that hurts. Fuck.” Another pained gasped as he shuffled, another moment of fast breathing, and then he seemed to calm himself. “Sherlock? Are you all right? Lestrade?”
“I’m fine John.”
“I’m here,” Lestrade called back. “But I think I broke my leg. I’m still bloody hanging upside down and Sherlock won’t release me.”
Sherlock ignored Lestrade and looked carefully at John’s face. “Are you all right?”
John finally looked up, and Sherlock couldn’t hold back a wince as he took in John’s face, bloodied by broken glass, pale from pain. John looked up at his arm and tried to pull it out of the twisted seat belt. He groaned, then used his other hand to unwrap the strap and maneuver himself free. “Arm is dislocated. Not broken though.” He looked down at his stomach and down past to his legs. He froze for a moment, blinked, and turned back to Sherlock. “Nothing much. Just a scratch.”
Sherlock was about press further when Lestrade growled “Good for you!” and shuffled.
“All right, don’t get your knickers in a twist, Greg. Can you move your toes?”
A brief moment of silence was followed by a triumphant “Yes!”
“Numbness, tingling, or weakness in any of your limbs?” John rasped out as he tried to roll onto his back. Sherlock gave up on the grate and turned to focus on the door. They could hear Lestrade shift his arms and legs and gave another grunt of pain. “Leg hurts. Rest is fine.”
There was a moment of silence from John, and Sherlock spun back to the grate. “John?” He peered forward to see John’s eyes tightly shut, both hands shaking.
“Sorry. A moment please – if we’re going to be trapped here for awhile, I really don’t want to vomit.”
Sherlock chuckled in relief and returned to inspecting his door. The weight of the impact as they rolled had crushed the top of the car like Popeye would crush a tin can. There wasn’t really enough room for Sherlock to wiggle through unless he wanted to get himself sliced up further by the jagged edges of metal. He could probably have gotten through the windshield if the pane hadn’t stayed in tact, but no so luck there. He could vaguely see snow and other cars through the front, but no rescue lights yet.
“All right, Greg? How bad is it? Do you think the bone is severely fractured, or just broken?”
“Just broken, I think. It doesn’t hurt too bad… just enough to make this difficult.”
“I don’t think I can get to you, John. We’ll just have to wait.” Sherlock sighed. He caught John’s gaze and was stopped by the pain and what appeared to be a hint of fear. “Are you all right?” He was starting to hate the phrase, but even as he said it he realized John had yet to actually answer him.
John reached forward and pressed his working arm to the grate. Sherlock looked at him in alarm, but pressed his fingers through the mesh to capture John’s.
Lestrade appeared to have been distracted enough not to notice the exchange. “Any time now, Sherlock!” he shouted.
Having already eliminated the passenger door, the grate, and the windshield as methods of escape, Sherlock now turned his focus to the driver side door. For a moment he yanked and tugged on Lestrade’s seat belt, but wasn’t getting anywhere. “Damn it Lestrade, a little help!”
“What do you think I’ve been doing all this time, resting for my health?!” Greg renewed his struggle with the buckle, and Sherlock joined in. It seemed to be smashed, the inner mechanism stuck from being dented inwards.
“I need a screw driver or a flat, thin piece of metal to pry the lock free.”
“Is there one in this kit?” John asked, his voice low and stuttered. He pulled the metal case up with his good arm, and dragged it towards himself. Sherlock held still and used the opportunity to try and get a look at whatever injury John was hiding, but he couldn’t see past John’s knee. “Found one! How do I get it to you?”
Sherlock glanced around the car. “If you can get to the window and hold it out to me, I should be able to reach it.”
John groaned and looked at the two feet from his head to the window as if it were miles. “All right. OK.” He took a deep breath, reached out and grasped the grate, and pulled himself forward. He gasped in pain, but didn’t say anything – merely pressed his lips into a thin line and tried again.
Sherlock found himself uncharacteristically unwilling to observe. John was clearly in serious pain, and every inch was a battle. But he didn’t show anything that would hint at the actual extent of his injuries. Didn’t show the deepest pain or fear, just the determination. “Greg, you better really hate being upside down for me to do this,” John ground out. “You owe me a pint or two or ten when we get out of here.”
Lestrade’s face was red and sweating and he chuckled darkly. “I wish I could say that all this blood rushing to my brain is helping me solve cold cases while I’m just hanging around, but I’m getting a little concerned about the pounding in my ears. Feel’s like my head’s gonna explode, mate.”
John grunted and slid the last six inches, pushing himself up and settling himself carefully over the broken window. “Sherlock?”
Sherlock wasn’t moving. He couldn’t move. All he could do was stare at the mangled mess of John’s lower left leg.
John had managed to toe off his shoe around the bloody destruction that was his smashed ankle and leg. Bits of bone protruded here and there, and the whole area was purple and swollen. Definitely not a scratch.
“I’m fine.” But John wouldn’t meet his eyes.
Sherlock carefully threaded his arm through the slight opening of his window, and reached for John’s cold, clammy hand. Shock was setting in. “I’ll get us out of here. Let me get Lestrade free.” While Sherlock had never been the most demonstrative of lovers, right now all he wanted to do was pull John into his arms and hold him there. But John wasn’t exactly demonstrative, either. He pulled back and nodded.
Sherlock shuffled back to Lestrade, hearing sirens in the background. “Thank god!” Lestrade exclaimed, but Sherlock shook his head. “We’re in the middle of several cars. It will be awhile before they get to us.”
John pulled his arm back into the car. “Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long. It’s bloody freezing.”
Sherlock jammed the screwdriver into the buckle and spent the next several minutes trying to jimmy the mechanism. He started to curse after ten minutes passed and still he was unsuccessful, paying no attention to Lestrade’s running commentary and trying to focus on John’s breathing. He could hear his breathes get shorter and the clack in his teeth get louder from violent shivering.
Finally the mechanism popped open and Greg fell with a yell of pain. “Goddamn mother fucker!”
“Wow, Greg, I didn’t know you had it in you.” John chuckled from the back.
“Owww…” Lestrade moved his leg forward to examine it. “OK, that really fucking hurt. Ow, ow, ow…” Sherlock carefully felt along his leg to check that there was no compound fracture, and upon determining it to be a simple break, unceremoniously pulled him away from the window. Lestrade yelped. “Jesus Christ, Sherlock, man with a broken leg here!”
“Shut up, Lestrade. I need to get to John.”
“Sherlock, it’s all right.” John's voice was quiet and calm and perhaps a bit more resigned than Sherlock generally preffered.
His partner ignored him in favor of trying to open the driver’s side door, trying to kick it when pulling the handle didn’t work. “Goddammit!”
“You know,” started John conversationally, tucking his injured arm closer to his body, “there really is something beautiful about totally destroyed objects sometimes.” Sherlock stopped kicking the door, eyes frantically seeking out John’s. His lips are turning blue he couldn’t help but observe.
“Have you ever been to Detroit?” John went on. Sherlock shook his head as he resumed his first plan – getting the grate off. He used the screwdriver to try to pry it from the floor – or the ceiling now, as it were. “One of my army mates took me home with him for Thanksgiving one year.”
“Really, John? Is this the best time for stories about your exes?” Sherlock raised his eyebrow. John looked up as Lestrade stiffened beside him. Oops. Chalk one up to the concussion he thought. But John just smiled.
“He grew up there, you know? Wanted to show off the Great American Ghost Town, he called it.”
“Ghost Town?” Lestrade interrupted. “I thought Detroit was one of the biggest cities in America.”
“Metro Detroit, sure. But inner city Detroit has a lot of abandoned buildings. Not just houses, either. Hotels, schools, libraries… modern era ruins in what used to be a great city.” Sherlock winced as the screwdriver slipped from under the bolt and cut his hand. “Sherlock?”
He shook his head, showed John the minor cut, and went on. “It’s fine. Go ahead, John. Continue with your story of sex in condemned buildings.”
John tried to laugh, but it just came out a shivery, rusty sound. “Well, there was plenty of that, but that’s not the point.” John settled back and closed his eyes. “It was amazing. We went into hotels that had art deco chandeliers just hanging there from ruined ceilings. The libraries still had books on the shelves even though the walls were peeling. The schools had chairs and desks tipped over, blackboards still bolted to the walls, remnants of lessons from the 1980s still decorating the walls.” John swallowed, and Sherlock noticed with some alarm that his shivering was slowing down. “It was amazing. Scary. Depressing. And beautiful.”
Sherlock sat back and closed his eyes, picturing the ruins. “Sounds fascinating.”
The car was silent for awhile as Sherlock continued to work. In the background they could hear rescue crews working on cars, the screams of people trapped inside, metal scraping and groaning as doors were pried away to allow the passengers escape. How long had it been? An hour at least, he thought. He looked at Lestrade, who seemed to have passed out. John continued to shiver intermittently.
“Don’t worry, John. They’ll be here for us any moment.”
“I should have asked you to marry me.”
Sherlock sat up a bit, leaning forward, a glare coming across his face before he could help it. “That’s enough of that. They’ll be here soon. Just shut up and hold it together.”
“You would have said no, of course. Probably don’t believe in such an outdated and religiously-based institution.” John gave one last shiver and was still, blue face staring desperately at Sherlock.
“Of course I would have said no.”
“Is Greg OK?” John tried to push his hand forward, and Sherlock captured his fingers through the grate.
“He’s fine. Passed out it. Idiot doesn’t have as high a tolerance for pain as you do.”
“Not his fault. It’s amazing how a warzone changes your tolerance levels.”
Sherlock gripped tighter, willing some of his heat from his own body to John’s cold fingers.
“We could have gone to Detroit for our honeymoon.” John said. “You could have studied the effects of… of…” His eyes closed, then opened with the same teary, pleading look.
“Cold climate fresh-water lake effect weather on the deterioration of brick.” Sherlock finished brokenly, stabbing at the bolts ineffectually.
“And, you know, there is a lot of crime there, too. Murder and mayhem. Detroit’s sort of known for it, I think.”
Silence again settled over the car, and Sherlock’s alarm grew as John’s eyelids got heavier. He banged on the grate, startling John awake. “No, no, no. Stay awake. Stay alert. Tell me more about the industrialized ruins of a formerly great American city.”
“Sherlock…” John swallowed and closed his eyes again, only to open them again tear-filled. “Uh, is there any way… are you sure you can’t get back here. I’m cold.”
Oh god. Sherlock’s heart clenched and he let go of John’s fingers to try a new approach – kicking the door over and over again as hard as he could. He knew it was useless, but he couldn’t stop.
“A moment, John, only a moment while I get this metal beast to acquiesce. Tell me more about the city.” Sherlock’s desperate kicks would draw attention to them if nothing else, but had the downside of waking Lestrade – who would be of absolutely no help.
“Sherlock, what the bloody hell!”
John’s head fell back the floor with a thunk. “They also call it Motown, though I have no idea where that came from. Hockeytown, because their hockey team is very popular there. Uh, Rock City.” Despite the adrenaline surge Sherlock’s sudden frantic movements should have provided him, John was fading. “Motor City. Jamal called it ‘The D’.” A pause. “Are you almost out? I really need you, Sherlock. God, it hurts.” The last part was said with a cut-off whimper. Sherlock would have given everything he owned to never hear that again.
“I’m coming John. Almost there,” he gasped out, even though the door didn’t budge.
“Please, Sherlock. I love you. God, I’m so cold.”
Sherlock shouted in frustration as the crumpled door refused to budge. His neck finally seized, flaring through him white heat, and he fell back in agony.
Finally, there were lights and movement outside the car. People in bright yellow reflective jackets with machines designed to cut through metal were shouting at them to stay clear. John didn’t react as Sherlock tried to reach him through the grate. “They’re here! Hold on, John, we’re getting out!”
John didn’t respond.
*Four Days Later*
Sherlock stared down at his friend, lover, companion. John’s entire lower leg, ankle, and foot were wrapped in thick white cast. His arm was in a sling to keep weight off his abused shoulder socket, and his face held a plethora of bandages hiding both minor and stitched-up cuts. But he was alive.
The days they had spent at hospital were excruciating, not in the least because all the pain held no purpose for them. No killer caught, no thief captured, no stolen treasure returned. It was just an accident. Pointless. Meaningless. And now John would need his cane again for a long, long time. Maybe forever.
Sherlock sighed, set his envelope down on the bedside table, shed his clothes, and climbed on top of John. Though he was careful to avoid his injuries, John grunted a moment before coming back to himself. Then he wrapped an arm around Sherlock’s bare back and pulled him closer.
“I’m sorry I started to loose it back there.” John whispered into the dark. Sherlock shook his head.
“If I had a nurse with such obviously fake bright red hair who tried to force feed me green gelatin, I probably would have thrown the milk carton at her too.” Sherlock chuckled, his deep voice reverberating through John’s chest.
John smiled, but didn’t laugh. “That’s not what I meant.”
Sherlock closed his eyes against the image of a broken, bleeding, pleading John in the back seat, dying just out of his reach. He pulled his head up to kiss John’s chest, but couldn’t think of anything to say.
“I’m also sorry for outing you to Greg.”
At that Sherlock leaned up angrily, glaring. “Don’t be absurd.”
John reached up and pulled Sherlock into a long, deep kiss. It left Sherlock breathless and shaky. “Sorry,” John whispered in his ear before kissing it lightly.
Sherlock settled back on top of John, running his hands up and down his sides. “I’m sorry, John. I should have been able to get to you. I tried, but I couldn’t…” He groaned in frustration, forehead pressed to John’s breast bone. Tonight was the night for being inarticulate, it would seem. John kissed his curls and held on tighter.
“It’s not your fault. And it all turned out fine.”
“God, I hate that word now.” Sherlock laughed, the movement inadvertently rubbing their hips together.
“There is something I want to tell you though,” John whispered even as he gripped Sherlock’s waist, pushing their hips even closer together. “I never say it, and I should.”
Sherlock groaned at the contact, and pushed off John’s loose pajama pants, careful to avoid jostling his leg. “You say I love you all the time.” Sherlock said, crawling back up John’s body, worshipping his chest and belly with kisses. “Especially in moments like these.” He slicked up John’s cock, rubbing and twisting in the way he knew John liked, before raising himself up and sinking down on it.
John threw his head back, arched, and moaned gratefully. Sherlock leaned forward, pressing his forehead to John’s, and rode him slowly and carefully.
“God, Sherlock,” John gasped, kissing him, running his free hand down his back, holding still as Sherlock very, very slowly brought John out of his pain and towards ecstasy. Moments passed where the only sound was the creaking of the bed and their voices hushed with pleasured breaths.
“That’s not what I meant,” John whispered several minutes later as he reached down between them to grasp Sherlock’s cock. Sherlock shuddered but kept his pace.
“Hmmmm….” Less like a question and more like a prayer, Sherlock carefully sat up, closed eyes towards the ceiling, and ever so gently increased his pace. He reached for John’s hand and held it over his heart. But John had other plans. He slid his hand up to Sherlock’s cheek and brought his gaze back down to John’s. Sherlock stopped a moment at John’s expression.
“Yes, I love you. But more importantly, I need you.” The fire in John’s gaze left no room for doubt. This was not a romantic declaration. This was a stated fact.
Sherlock suddenly was moving quickly, shifting himself so the angle was more pleasurable, bringing John’s body more deeply into his own. “Fuck, John…”
John groaned and held on, grateful for the morphine that was all that was keeping him from coming immediately. He watched as Sherlock lost himself to the pleasure, John’s grip on him tight and sure. “I need you Sherlock. Always.”
Sherlock shuddered and groaned deeply, bent over John, kissing him like his life depended on it. He shifted his hips one more time, raising himself on his knees, allowing John’s thrusts to go both more quickly and more shallowly.
“Sherlock!” John shouted, and held on tight as he felt himself fall over the edge. Pleasure exploded from him, and his body writhed as Sherlock held him down, carefully keeping John from putting weight on his leg. He came back down from the high of orgasm to watching Sherlock grasp John’s hand over his own cock, helping him move it tighter and faster. John pulled Sherlock down into one last kiss, watching with eyes wide open as Sherlock came, silently but forcefully, body bent over John’s.
After a few moments, their heart rates settled and Sherlock reluctantly got up to clean himself and John off. He climbed back into bed, bringing the envelope he had brought up with him.
John carefully cracked the envelope open and pulled out several pieces of paper. Tickets to Detroit. A copy of civil partnership papers. And finally, at the bottom, a pair of rings.
“The tickets are for three months from now. You should be walking well by then. The travel agent told me I was crazy for going to Michigan in April for vacation, but it’s not like we’re not used to the cold. And we’ll have to file paper work here first, because of the ridiculously homophobic laws they have there. But if you wanted a quiet ceremony, you and me in the rubble of a once grand ball room with decaying walls and art deco chandeliers, I wouldn’t mind.”
John laughed a bit breathlessly at the absurdity of it, grinning at Sherlock. “All right.”
They both broke out into slightly insane, but truly delighted laughter before falling into a deep, if not blissful, sleep.