John’s entire body is throbbing with pain. He’s fairly certain he’s got broken fingers on his left hand, and his entire left side is going to be one giant bruise come morning. Their suspect had ambushed them in the alleyway, then ran up here. John pauses on the rooftop to catch his breath. Where the hell was Sherlock? He’d followed him up here once he made it to his feet, up all seven flights of stairs, cursing both Sherlock and the suspect the entire, painful way.
Where the hell was the suspect, for that matter? Shit. John grabs the Browning from his waistband, wincing at the stretch along his aching side as he reaches back for it. “Sherlock,” he hisses. He’s answered by a quiet, “Over here.”
At first John can’t see him anywhere—and thankfully can’t see his earlier assailant, either. “Sherlock?”
‘Here’ means over the ledge of the building. “Fucking hell!” John looks over the ledge to find Sherlock dangling over the street by his fingertips. Sherlock wears an almost blank expression, not entirely unlike the one he wears when he’s deep in thought. He’s about a meter and a half below the roof, hanging on to a decorative bit of stonework. His feet kick against the building for purchase, with no luck.
“What happened?” John lies flat on the roof and stretches, gritting his teeth at the pain, trying to reach Sherlock’s hand.
“Thompson,” grunts Sherlock. “Knocked me over—he’s not up there with you?” He reaches for John’s hand, but comes short.
“No,” says John. “Just hang on.”
“I’m not going to do much else, I assure you.”
John reaches for his phone with his left hand and bites back a scream as his broken fingers brush against his coat. Awkwardly, he reaches with his right hand into his left pocket and manages to pull out his phone, nearly dropping it. Thank Christ he has Lestrade on speed dial.
“He’s sending help,” John says, after hanging up. He lies down on his belly again, scooting forward as far as he dares.
“John, I—” Sherlock’s face is paler than usual, his eyes wide. It takes John a moment to realise that Sherlock is terrified. “I don’t think I can hold on that long.”
“Try reaching for me again.”
“I can’t,” says Sherlock. “I’ll fall.”
“Look at me,” says John, and Sherlock does. “I am not going to let you fall.” He wriggles forward just a few precious centimeters more, his body precariously close to the tipping point. He throws his centre of balance back as far as he can while still reaching forward. ”Sherlock, on the count of three, I want you to swing up and grab my hand.” Sherlock shakes his head. “Just do it,” John orders. If Sherlock can just get close enough, John can grab him.
Sherlock meets his eyes for several heartbeats, then nods.
“All right,” says John. “One. Two. Three.”
Sherlock lunges up and John leans down. Their hands touch, then miss. On the downswing, Sherlock’s other hand—the hand holding him to the building—slips. He cries out, and John nearly throws himself off the roof after him, grabbing him around the wrist with his right hand and holding on to the ledge with his left, screaming at the feeling of bone jarring against bone.
Sherlock’s boots catch in the brickwork of the building, giving John just enough leverage to pull back from the tipping point. Once Sherlock manages to grab the top ledge, the worst is past. He scrambles over the ledge while John falls backwards to the rooftop, panting as much from pain as from any exertion.
Sirens sound from the street below, and Sherlock laughs, out of breath himself. “Lestrade has impeccable timing.”
“You stupid, sodding git,” pants John. “Next time will you wait for me before charging after someone?”
“Probably not,” admits Sherlock, and a moment later laughs, a slight edge of hysteria to the sound.
John struggles to a sitting position and reaches out with his uninjured hand, grabbing Sherlock’s. Sherlock, to his surprise, not only doesn’t pull away, but squeezes his hand tightly in return.