John sprinted up the steps ahead of Sherlock, winter air still invigorating his lungs. He stretched through his chest as he stepped through the flat’s door and let his coat fall down his arms. Really, he should be heading home, but surely a few minutes for a cuppa wouldn’t hurt anything. Hell, he hadn’t even had dinner, and it was--oh--half nine. If Mary hadn’t texted him by now, she and Rosie were sure to be asleep.
“Tea?” John threw his coat over the back of his chair and loosened his cuffs before spinning to face the door.
He paused with one sleeve a quarter of the way up his arm. Sherlock wasn’t in the door.
“Sherlock?” John called, peering down the steps. “All right?”
“Fine,” he said, but he was only halfway up the stairs, and slow going.
“Are you su--”
“I said I’m fine!”
John propped his left fist on his hip, massaging his trapezius with his right. “You’re clearly not.”
Sherlock brushed it away, standing tall as he scaled the next step. “It’s just a scratch.”
“And we are the knights who say ‘nee.’” Jogging down the handful of steps to Sherlock, John insinuated himself under Sherlock’s shoulder and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Let me help you.”
Sherlock huffed, but then he sagged against John like a deflated balloon. “Fine.”
John couldn't quite contain a chuckle, it coming out as a nearly silent puff of air, but he had to admit he was worried. For Sherlock to allow himself to depend on John so thoroughly, even for just a few steps, he must have been in a right state. Was he merely exhausted? The case had gone on for a few days, and John hadn't seen any evidence that Sherlock had slept. Hell, he’d only changed his suit once in four days. But this felt different. The sagging was more than just exhaustion. He was having trouble putting weight on his left leg.
Despite all this, the moment they created the final stair, Sherlock broke away, executing his best pantomime of an equal gait as he swished himself out of his coat.
“I do believe you mentioned tea.” He hung up his coat and worked his scarf free as if their tiny trek up the steps had never happened.
John boggled, but that didn't stop him from looking up and down the back of Sherlock’s leg for any sign of injury.
“Very well.” Without turning, Sherlock veered off to the kitchen. “I’ll make it myself.”
“Sherlock.” John followed as Sherlock filled the kettle. “Look at me.”
Sherlock peered over his shoulder. “Will you check if there’s milk?”
“Jesus,” John sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I don't know why you’re pretending, but it’s obvious you’ve hurt yourself. Let me see.”
“No. It’s fine.”
“Then hop on your left foot.”
Bracing himself on the counter, Sherlock slowly bent his right knee, raising his foot behind him, but when John saw him crouch for take off, he rushed across the room.
“No don’t!” He grabbed Sherlock's hips. “Don't.”
Sherlock shifted his weight to his right foot, letting out a long, controlled breath. “All right.”
John found himself mirroring, staring at his hands over the dark fabric of Sherlock’s trousers. “Let me see.”
After a pause, Sherlock swiveled, and John released his hips enough to let him, his hands hovering nearby, reluctant to leave lest Sherlock lose his balance. Or perhaps they were just reluctant to lose the heat of Sherlock’s body underneath them.
John pressed his lips together to will those thoughts away. It wasn't as if he wasn't aware. He’d resigned himself to his feelings long ago. But even if Sherlock went in for that sort of thing, John had a wife and a baby. No matter how complicated the circumstances, he’d promised them fidelity.
When Sherlock finally faced him, John’s unconsciously held breath punched out of him. “My God. How did that happen?”
A rip about ten centimetres long slashed diagonally across Sherlock’s left hip, pointing from the top of his pocket to the base of his zip. Between the dark fabric and the ancient fluorescents in the kitchen, it was hard to tell just how far the blood stain had spread, but it was sizable.
“During the chase.”
“Whe-- Oh.” He remembered now. Sherlock had clipped a wall in a dilapidated warehouse as they’d run through.
“I believe it was a nail.”
John pulled up a chair and sat, lighting up the torch on his mobile for a better look. “When was your last tetanus shot?”
“Two years ago, right after I”--he swallowed--”got back. Mycroft insisted on a whole battery of vaccinations.”
“Seems a bit like closing the barn door after the livestock have got out.” John shut off the mobile. “Take your trousers off so I can get a better look.”
Sherlock stared at his twiddling hands.
“Come on. It won't be the first time I’ve seen you with your kit off.” John pushed back the chair as he stood to give Sherlock some space. “Speaking of, do you have a first aid kit?”
Sherlock got his trousers to his thighs before easing himself into the chair John had vacated. “Not per se. Check the first shelf to the right of the stove.”
He had to stand on his tiptoes to do it, but soon John had everything he needed--bandages, suture kit, disinfecting swabs, gloves, ointment, Novocain.
Wait. “Why do you have Novocain?”
Sherlock shrugged, bare toes curling against the lino. “Seemed silly to have the suture kit without it.”
“Doesn't do much good without a syringe, though.” John set it back where he found it, but when he looked back, Sherlock was limping towards the bedroom.
“What are you--” John was cut off by the click of the latch and the thump of the lock. He rushed to the door, banging on it. “Sherlock Holmes, I swear to God. I will leave right now and let you deal with that yourself, and I won't raise a finger when it gets infect--”
Once again, John was cut off, this time by Sherlock opening the door and nearly taking John with it. Without a word, and with only the barest glance in John’s direction, Sherlock grabbed John’s hand and laid a fresh syringe, still in its plastic package, on John’s palm.
John stared, dumbfounded, for just a moment before anger started to push at the back of his throat. Needles in the bedroom. What could that mean besides…
He shook his head, squeezed his eyes shut, took a deep breath, squared his shoulders. While Sherlock’s blood was dripping on the lino was not the time to have a row about the drugs. The drugs he swore he’d stopped using. For God’s sake, he’d almost died.
With another deep breath, John walked into the kitchen. He set the needle with the other supplies and got down the Novocain. “Don't think we won't be talking about this.”
Without looking at Sherlock, John pulled up a chair and sat across from him. He turned on the light on his mobile, easing down the waistband of Sherlock's pants.
“They were left over. Do you expect me to just throw them out?”
The muscles in John’s neck twitched, making his head cock. “Don’t. Just… don't.”
Thankfully, with a clack of teeth Sherlock shut the hell up, and John went back to work, shimmying Sherlock’s pants down his hip. The cut itself was half the length of the tear in Sherlock’s trousers, still oozing blood, and when John got to the bottom, a bit of dried blood stuck Sherlock’s pants to his skin. Unfortunately, John didn’t notice until he’d already pulled the fabric away, and Sherlock flinched.
“Sorry,” John said.
“It’s all right.”
John nodded to his hand in Sherlock’s pants. “Can you hold that in place for me? I’m going to clean up the cut, see if you need stitches.”
Sherlock nodded, hooking his thumb right next to John’s hand, his palm lying over John’s thumb.
John cleared his throat. “Right.” He eased his hand away. “Good.”
As he set about scrubbing up his hands, John said to the running water, “If you do need stitches, you’ll need to lie down. I’d suggest the table, but…” God knows what’s been on there recently.
“The bed is fine.”
John’s hands went still under the running water. Sherlock. Lying in bed with his pants half off. John’s hands on his skin.
This was why he was planning to suggest the sofa, but given Sherlock's track record as a patient (difficult at best), maybe it was best not to argue.
“All right.” John went back to rinsing his hands. “Do you feel up to grabbing a towel?”
John shook water from his hands before shutting off the tap with his elbow. “Ta. I’ll meet you in there.”
“Should I take off my pants?”
John sidestepped to the supplies. He didn't dare turn to face Sherlock, certain his face had turned the color of a rutabaga. “No. I’ll leave you your modesty.”
Sherlock scoffed. “What modesty?”
John chuckled as he grabbed a plate from the drying rack as a makeshift tray, piling the supplies on top of it. When he turned around, Sherlock was gone, pants in a bloody rumple on the floor.
Two thoughts occurred so close together that John couldn't discern which came first. One, they were going to stain the floor. And two, Sherlock was currently waltzing around in a tight blue button down and nothing else. The realization swept through him like a shiver, knocking the breath from his lungs. God, how was he supposed get through this?
That question echoed in his head like a choir in a cathedral as he stepped over the threshold of the bedroom to find Sherlock standing next to the bed, his back to John, folded towel on the mattress next to him. His bum peeked out the bottom, and without realizing it, John stopped dead in his tracks.
Sherlock gestured to the towel. “I wasn't sure how you wanted it.”
John didn't roll his eyes, but it was a close thing. Sherlock knew exactly what John intended with the towel; he just didn't want to admit that his injury prevented it.
John crossed to the opposite side of the bed and set down the plate before reaching across for the towel. “It’s all right. I’ve got it.”
John’s gaze snapped up, making him pause in smoothing the towel down across the bed. It shouldn't startle him when someone says thank you. That was just ridiculous, but those two words cascading over his skin like sugar made him realize how long it had been since he heard them. Unfortunately, their current position also meant that John’s gaze stuttered on Sherlock's flaccid cock before reaching his face.
John cleared his throat, pressed his palms towards Sherlock's end of the bed until the towel lay in a single layer across the width of the bed. “Of course. Don't mention it. Do you need help lying down?”
“I think I can manage,” Sherlock said with a quirk of the eyebrow before sitting on the edge of the bed and easing his legs onto the mattress.
“Good. Good.” John ignored the miles of legs and body parts he’d long fantasized about having in his mouth in favor of arranging supplies on the towel. After snapping on the gloves, he pulled some Novocain into the syringe. “I don't suppose you have some topical lidocaine.”
“All right.” John sat on his knees at the edge of the towel, just south of Sherlock's hip. “This will sting a bit.”
Sherlock closed his eyes, resting his hands on his stomach. “I’m well aware.”
So, without further ado, John flipped up the left tail of Sherlock's shirt and injected the anesthetic, recapped the syringe, and set it aside. He’d have to find a safe way to dispose of it, but he’d figure that out later.
“It’ll take a couple minutes to set in.” He pressed gloved fingers along the edges of the wound. “Can you feel that at all?”
Sherlock fiddled with the flipped edge of his shirt, his eyes still closed, a slight flush across his cheeks. “A bit.”
John busied himself with preparing the suture kit, taking a bit longer than was strictly necessary because, how do you make idle chatter with your bottomless former flatmate and best friend? It certainly took a better man, with more self control, than him to find out.
Kit ready and needle in hand, John palpated the edges again. “How about now?”
Sherlock opened his eyes to watch John’s fingers. “A bit of pressure.”
“That should be fine. Let me know if it hurts.”
“Sherlock,” John demanded, and Sherlock met his eye. “You’ll let me know if it hurts.”
“Yes,” Sherlock croaked.
Once John got started on the sutures, it was easier to let the awkwardness of the situation fade away. His world narrowed down to thread and bits of skin, a simple but consuming task to focus his mind.
Which was probably why it wasn't until John was halfway done that he noticed the erection just a couple inches from his hand. And he probably wouldn't even have noticed it then if his wrist hadn't bumped it.
He paused, carefully peeking up at Sherlock's face. But he needn't have been so careful. Sherlock's eyes were shut tight, his breath so deep and even that it had to be purposeful. His hands were clenched over his chest, one of them with two fingers tucked between the buttons of his shirt.
“What?” Sherlock bit.
“Do you--” He nodded to Sherlock's cock, pointless as Sherlock’s eyes were still closed. “Is that--”
Finally Sherlock's eyes opened. “Do please spit it out.”
John stared into those eyes, thoughtful frown etched in his face. How does one broach the subject? It was obvious. They both knew it was there, but John couldn't fathom a way into the conversation that wouldn't humiliate one or the other of them.
So, he went with the simplest. “Never mind.”
John went back to the task at hand, but it was hard… difficult to concentrate. He’d started on the outside and worked his way in, so at this point it was difficult to find a comfortable place for his left hand that didn't leave his wrist so close to the base of Sherlock's cock that he could feel the heat coming off it. And to his ever-growing frustration, he felt an answering tension tug at his groin.
By the time he was ready to tie off the last stitch, his own erection was pressing painfully against his zip, and he had to prop his elbows on his knees to hide it. It was quite the uncomfortable position. His back was killing him. His feet were falling asleep, but any deviation would just make the situation worse.
However, there was nothing for it; he had to move eventually. So, he tied off the stitches, clipped the end, and sat up. Sherlock still had his eyes closed. His breath was just as even as before, but this time, it quavered with each inhale and exhale. His hands fisted in the pillow under his head, throwing his neck up. God, that neck. That long, sinuous neck. How many times had imagined licking it, kissing it, biting it, striping it with come.
And here he was, hard as an iron rod, body strung out in suppressed arousal. Like an offering.
And just like that, a decision was made. John squeezed a bit of ointment onto a square bandage and smoothed it over the cut. But before he lifted his hands from Sherlock’s body, he let his left hand slide past the edge and rotate until the blade of his hand pressed against the top of the base of Sherlock’s cock, slid around the side, and trailed away. It was a move purposeful enough for his intent to be unmistakable but small enough that they could both pretend it was an accident if need be. Or at least he hoped.
Because Sherlock's only reaction was a puff of breath through his mouth.
John snapped off the gloves and tossed them onto the towel. His hand hovered over Sherlock's thigh for a moment before he finally let it alight.
“Your stitches are done.” John shattered the silence like sugar glass.
Sherlock didn't speak, but his breath rushed in and out of his mouth. After a moment, he opened his eyes, fixing John with a stare.
He nodded, just one ebb and flow of his chin before his eyes floated closed again. John felt the breath rush out of him like it had been sucked from his lungs, and his hands moved as if on their own. His left hand slid up Sherlock’s thighs to his bollocks, cupping them in his palm.
God, they were already drawn up tight to Sherlock’s body. He’d probably come like a rocket after a few strokes, which was both scorchingly hot and vastly disappointing. He would have liked their first time together like this to be something slow and drawn out, not a quick wank, but the knowledge that his touch could do this to Sherlock was too much to take.
He slid his hand up Sherlock’s length and swirled a finger through the precome welled at the tip when Sherlock interrupted.
“Could you-- With the glove?”
“Oh God, yeah.” John grabbed a fresh one. “Do you have lube?”
Sherlock’s back arched as he reached for the drawer of the bedside table. It put his torso so perfectly on display that he would make a marble statue jealous. But John was only to enjoy it for a moment before Sherlock was tossing the bottle in John's direction. He squeezed some into his palm and spread it a bit before grasping Sherlock’s cock.
Sherlock gasped and arched like he’d been electrified.
“Too cold?” John asked.
“Yes-- No-- Well, yes, but it’s good. Don't stop.”
John watched the head of Sherlock’s cock appear and disappear behind the circle of John’s fingers, plump and plush and delectable. He wanted to lick it.
“Faster,” Sherlock hissed, his hips kicking against John’s hand.
John did as asked, and the effect was immediate. Sherlock arched off the bed, hips pressed to the sky, groan ripped from his throat. It was the hottest thing John had ever seen.
“John. I’m close. I’m going-- I’m going to--”
Seized with sudden panic, John closed his lips over Sherlock’s cock to keep anything from splashing onto the bandage. He couldn't help but grimace at the bitter mix of lube and semen, but he swallowed all the same. It was worth it to feel Sherlock shudder below him, to gentle him back to the bed and see satisfied drowsiness settle over him.
And just like that, he couldn't wait another minute. He fumbled open his button and fly with his right hand. Before he could even fully appreciate the sensation of his cock springing free, he had his hand around it. He wanted to come. He needed to come. His fist flew, the spring coiling tight within him. Almost. Almost.
He stuttered to a stop as he felt long, tentative fingers wrap around him. They explored the slick skin, worked his foreskin over his glans and pushed it back down. His face was rapt, joyful.
John collapsed forward, forehead pressed to Sherlock’s shoulder. “Sher--”
His orgasm took him slowly, Sherlock playing him like a violin as it crested and receded in waves. Finally, he felt the impending certainty and cupped his hand over the tip of his cock, catching his come as he shivered against Sherlock, breathed hot and fast on the skin of his chest.
He would have liked nothing more than to collapse next to Sherlock, tuck himself into the cocoon of Sherlock's body, but even if he didn't have a home to get to, he’d shot himself in the foot by spreading medical implements all over the bed.
So instead, planting a slow kiss on Sherlock’s jaw, John sat up, flipping his glove inside out and tossing it with the other rubbish on the towel.
“I should--” John cleared his throat. “I should clean that up.”
Sherlock sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “Yes, you should.”
As Sherlock got up, John piled the reusable supplies onto the plate. Sherlock crossed to his wardrobe, tossing a t-shirt and pyjama bottoms onto the foot of the bed. His fingers were stiff and efficient as he unbuttoned his shirt and whipped it off his shoulders. John could hear the popping of the fabric snapped to its limits.
He scratched the back of his neck. “Sherlock.”
Sherlock’s voice was ice. “John.”
“Maybe we should talk.”
Sherlock sat facing away to put on his pyjamas. “Go home to your family, John.”
John winced, eyelids fluttering, eyebrows raising. “Is that what you want?”
“It’s what you want,” Sherlock said through the fabric of his t-shirt.
John crossed his arms. “Read my palm, did you?”
A shiver shook Sherlock's shoulders. “Don't do that.”
“String this out. Better to rip off the plaster. You’re sorry. It can't happen again. For the baby. And so on and so on. Anything important I’ve missed?”
“Yeah,” John scoffed. “I’d say so.”
Sherlock echoed the scoff.
“How about I’m mad for you, you berk?”
Sherlock’s head dropped into his hands. “That only makes it worse.”
John circled around Sherlock, trying to get a look at his face. When that proved impossible, he ran his fingers through Sherlock's hair. It was just as silky as John expected. “Why?”
“You’ve been privy to the same cases I have. Once is a mistake; more is a disaster, especially with an assassin who’s already shot one of us in the mix.” So he said, but he pressed his head into John’s hand like a needy kitten.
John swallowed. He skated his hands down Sherlock’s neck to his shoulders, and to his surprise, Sherlock wrapped his arms around John’s waist.
Jesus, he was fucked. At this point, no matter what he did, he’d hurt the three people he loved most in this world. But he’d been in love with Sherlock for years. Was he just supposed to let that slip through his fingers?
They stayed like that, silent, wrapped in each other, until John croaked, “I don’t think I can leave here knowing I won’t touch you again.”
Sherlock hands clenched in John’s shirt, pulling the fabric tight across his stomach. He murmured something John couldn’t make out, and then with a sharp inhale through the nose, he sat up.
“I have an idea.” He stood, nearly toppling John to the ground. “Go home. I’ll have someone contact you.”
“No. I’m not leaving for some nebulous plan.”
“How would you feel about leading her to believe you’re having an affair with a woman?”