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There’s a memory, a faint one, of running along a beach, wind whirling around him. The sea is lashing at his ankles, water seeping through his plimsolls and his socks. He cannot hold onto the image beyond that. There’s no specific location in mind, it could be any beach. Only ever a beach in England though; no other place on earth could so master a view as enchanting, contrasted with the bitterness of an ice cold sea.

It hovers there, the memory, like a faded photograph. It conjures images he cannot see beyond. Cliffs, cottages, fish and chips… all fragments of days and nights spent by the sea, but he cannot place them, cannot work them into the same snapshot of a young child, running down a beach.

The image hits him from out of no where, as it so often does. Though it seems freeing, that prospect of running along a sandy shore, wind in hair, drizzle on his cheeks, something else looms on the edge of his consciousness. A realisation, perhaps, that it cannot last forever.

He is running towards a safety net while he is trying to outrun it, never knowing what it is. It looms, dark, invisible. He’s running, just running. Hoping something will be better at the end of it all.

He doesn’t think his destination could ever prove to be utopia he craves.

It’s why what he finds just inside the door of Lestrade’s flat such a constant surprise.

It’s sanctuary.

The heating is on. Lestrade sees no point in being cold when a few presses to the thermostat can keep him cosy and comfortable as he whiles away the hours at a computer screen or signs paperwork he is not technically allowed to take from the office.

Lestrade has become so comfortable with Sherlock’s presence now that he barely registers his entrance. He keeps typing away at the table, the slow and steady typing of a man who could work more quickly, but chooses not to.

Sherlock has read his police reports. His sentences are always short and direct. He leaves nothing to interpretation, no sentence which could be read out in court and played with by a defence lawyer as a performing sea lion may take hold of a ball and enchant a paying audience. No, Lestrade leaves nothing to chance.

The warmth cocoons him as he strips off his coat, scarf and gloves and leaves them in a trail on the floor towards the sofa. Lestrade’s eyes are half on him, and his typing slows to a standstill.

“Keep working,” Sherlock instructs, as he toes off his shoes and stretches out, closing his eyes. The beat of fingers on keys begins instantly, and Sherlock can imagine the words Lestrade is adding to his paperwork, leaving no doubt as to what his actions were at the crime scene, leaving no hole a barrister can wriggle through to pull a client to freedom.

Sherlock sinks into the cushions, wills himself to let go of the crushing monotony, the noise and the decisions he has to make. He swipes through his thoughts as one would swipe at a smartphone notification. Now smartphones have been invented, he can explain the way his mind works so much clearly to other people... or at least he can explain it to Lestrade, when they lie spent in bed and huddle together in the darkness. He tells him how the notifications appear in front of him regardless, and he can try shutting them down, but somehow they return with a vengeance. And if he does somehow shut them off, he misses them, wondering why he’s been left alone, out of contact. That he becomes so out of step with reality that he is sure he has become a ghost in the centre of one of the world’s busiest cities.

Still, Sherlock does his best to swipe through his conflicting ideas, those cases he is working on in the back of his mind, like a computer working through some puzzle, whirring away. It’s the whirring that hurts him the most. It’s always there, a weight he carries and tries to dismiss. It means he cannot give moments like this his full focus, means Lestrade is more likely to keep typing away, and leave Sherlock to his devices.

It’s what Sherlock likes best about the man; his focus. It’s also what Sherlock dislikes most about the man; that he’ll leave Sherlock lost in his thoughts until he is called over. And that is something Sherlock cannot verbalise. He does not yet know how to ask for comfort from him.

Lestrade will learn in time how to distinguish between the moments when Sherlock needs to be alone, and when he needs firm hands on his. Because Lestrade has learned to do everything else involving Sherlock. He falls into step with him at cases, asks questions at the right points, analyses the theories in the seconds Sherlock is drifting off track.

They’re in step now, at least at work. Sherlock can imagine it so clearly, how the pair of them are at hundreds of crime scenes, any location, and how they buzz around each other, snap and pinch at words and clues.

They always get to the answer.

Here, though, there is more at play, more possibility to wrongly gauge the moment. Sherlock knows he is to blame, because he cannot vocalise what he does not understand. There is so much racing inside his mind, he cannot tell the difference between what a hand in his would feel like compared to a mouth dropping light kisses down his bare chest.

The memory of a beach, no peace before, no peace after, hovers there still. He hears the rushing of the waves, the certain knowledge that the coast has to end eventually, for some beaches are open and spacious… and some are just rocks, jagged and deadly.

He’s so lost there, tortured by a blurry picture and descent into endlessness, that it takes a few moments to register that lips press against his forehead. His nose is filled with the aroma of coffee and that smell of Lestrade, impossible to place the source of, yet undeniably him.

Mouths meet. Sherlock reaches for him, yet he trembles still, the way he always does when he draws Lestrade near. It’s still so new, all of this. Lestrade has started to occupy pieces of Sherlock’s mind that he never knew existed. He fills parts of him he never knew were empty. He breathes warmth into his core, matches the beat of his heart with the steady rhythm of his own.

He nudges Sherlock’s mouth open, lowers his body onto his, and surrounds him with safety and the surety of home.