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Lay Me Gently

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He almost died.

That's been happening more than he would like, first over in Afghanistan and now because he had gotten himself wrapped into the life of bloody Sherlock Holmes, where angry Chinese circus members want to put an arrow in his head and bombs get strapped to his chest and CIA members press guns to his head.  They are asking Sherlock for the code and Sherlock keeps insisting that he does not have it and John knows that he doesn't know, really, because he can see the panic building in his eyes and bleeding out of his voice, because it is the same panic that he was wearing that night of Moriarty and the pool.  It is the look that Sherlock wears when he thinks he is about to lose.

But he doesn't lose.  He gets it right, and gets the phone, and then there's a squabble in the upstairs bedroom, so suddenly John is on his knees again, grabbing Sherlock by the shoulders as he seizes and writhes on the floor, threatening to do just what Irene had warned them about and choke on his own vomit.

"Shall I tell him?"  She's still wearing his coat, still has the cell phone, but John will not move and she knows it, knows how terribly tied up in each other he and Sherlock are.  She had known everything about them from the moment that they walked through the door.  

"Tell me what?"  It's not important, really, but he has spent this whole day standing on the edge with no one bothering to pay him any mind, her completely bare except for that coat and Sherlock unable to tear his eyes away like she is his new favorite toy and he is waiting to figure out what tricks she can do, and he wants to know this one thing.

"That he knew where to look after all."  She is talking to John but she is speaking to Sherlock, the two of them not breaking eye contact, and John swears that there is a moment where Sherlock answers, with just one tiny shake of the head.  "The code."  It takes him a moment to remember -that had seemed so long ago- but when he does, his stomach is already sinking without hearing the answer.  "It was my measurements."

My measurements, she says, and it is with the same look in her eye when she had swept her hands across Sherlock's face and proclaimed that someone must love him, and John felt the same uncomfortable heat rising in his stomach, because neither he or Sherlock were protesting and she knew, somehow, knew how to get underneath John's skin just like she knew how to knock Sherlock off balance, only this time it was more of a punch to the stomach than a gentle shove.

I see you, she is saying to him, even as she is having her silent conversation with Sherlock, because in this game that John had gotten himself caught up in there are so many players, each of them locked in so many battles and playing on so many different levels, and this was just for her and John, a silent game of who does he love more.  Didn't you notice?  I know what he likes.  I know what everyone likes. Including you.