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an artery upon the hill

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The sun slants through the foliage, making their corner of Hyde Park shimmer with gold and rust and lingering green of the fading summer. The air has a bite to it, and John watches the lace of light and shadow gently move over the murder scene, covering the body on the ground, the stained grass underneath, the bared skin at the back of Sherlock’s neck as he bends over to examine the evidence only he sees.

Somewhere nearby, officers and gawping public are gathered to witness the inevitability of death, their murmuring ebbing and flowing with the wind. John can’t tear his eyes off Sherlock’s hands, long-fingered and clever, ghosting over the victim’s clothes, or the oddly vulnerable curve of his back, exposed to the world as Sherlock falls deeper into the case.

Except no, not vulnerable, not exposed. That may have been true before, but it isn’t now. John shifts, widening his stance, spine straight and hands loosely clasped behind him, ready to strike out, to defend if needed.

Sherlock lifts his head suddenly, the sun making him squint as he looks over, face breaking into a wide grin. “I got it, John!” he exclaims, every line of his body, every fibre of his being full of confidence, and wild, irresistible life. It is there in the rush of blood to the surface when their eyes meet, the shared vein of purpose that pierces them both and ties them together.

Yeah, John thinks, smiling back as he reaches out a hand, feeling Sherlock’s pulse against his fingertips as he pulls him to his feet, me too.