"I'm cold," Sherlock said. He extended his hand so that it hovered a few centimeter's above John's forehead. The heat radiated upward toward the palm of his hand.
"What?" John rasped, and Sherlock blinked. He had thought his offer was quite obvious. John must be asking a different question.
"The mold. I ought to have seen the connection before," Sherlock said. "The very same kind was growing under the sink in the loo at the dance studio."
"Yes." John nodded weakly.
Sherlock had answered the right question, then. Of course, John would have wanted to know how he had solved the case; his dedication was quite admirable.
"Did you catch the killer?" John asked.
"Don't concern yourself," Sherlock said. He would, in time. He had more pressing business to attend now. His hand was still hovering over John's forehead, and finally he clamped it down over John's burning skin. John tensed, and Sherlock frowned. He had surmised that the gesture was appropriate -- as a boy, he had always appreciated his mother's cool hands on his fevered skin -- but perhaps it violated a boundary of their friendship. A second later, John's face relaxed, and Sherlock permitted himself a small smile. He had not miscalculated after all.
"I can track down more murderers from this room than Dimmock running all over London with a bloodhound," he said. Keeping one hand on John's forehead, he fished his mobile from his pocket and began composing a text. Writing it one handed slowed him down, but he did not consider removing his hand from John. Curious.
"Blood," John murmured. Obviously, he'd caught hold of the wrong part of what Sherlock had said. His hand drifted toward the thick bandage that covered his right side beneath his shirt. Sherlock stared at it too, frustrated that its exact dimensions were difficult to ascertain. At the surgery, he'd asked several times about the length and depth of the wound, but the doctor had told him it didn't matter and Sarah had told him to be quiet. John's hand flopped down atop the bandage, and he winced. Sherlock let go of his mobile, picked up John's hand by the wrist, and tucked it safely against John's chest.
"Did you get hurt?" John asked. His eyes, only half-open before, settled on Sherlock's face. Beneath the feverish haze in his eyes, Sherlock saw the familiar mix of clinical detachment and concern.
"No," Sherlock said. "I didn't get there in time." The words were surprisingly difficult to say. "If it's any consolation, we both got a good soaking in the Thames." It wasn't the time for levity, but Sherlock did not want John to be angry with him, even when he had a right to be.
John frowned. "I've told you not to jump into rivers."
"I had a good reason," Sherlock said. Selflessness was not among his virtues, but he wouldn't have let John drown. He realized that he'd never let go of John's wrist, and he pulled his hand back too abruptly -- at least, he thought it was too abrupt. He lacked the necessary data to judge social appropriateness in this situation.
Sherlock's other hand was growing warm against John's forehead. He stepped out for a moment to wet a towel.
"Sarah said the fever might not break for twelve hours," he said when he returned. He folded the towel so that it was exactly the width of John's forehead.
"Fever, right," John mumbled. He fidgeted beneath the covers. "Dress clothes are such a bother."
Sherlock plucked at the hem of John's vest.
"Do you want me to take this off?" He'd made John put it on before they left the surgery; John had been shivering then.
"No." John snorted. "I'd catch hell from Harry." A smile spread slowly across his face. "You don't have to lead all the time, you know. I'm short, but I'm not exactly clumsy."
But I like it when you follow me, Sherlock thought, but he didn't say it. He was getting better at guessing what sort of comments might start a row. "Do you want me to go?" he asked instead. He could not fit the question into the conversation correctly, but he did not want to stay if John wanted him gone.
"Then I wouldn't have a partner," John said. "There are always more women than men at these classes. Opportunity of course, but I'd rather dance with someone who knows what he's doing."
"Disorientation is to be expected," Sherlock said absently. Sarah had told him that before they left the surgery, so he wouldn't worry. At the time, he hadn't understood that he was worried, though now he knew better. They had been dancing earlier that night; they'd been undercover at a party. Then John had been stabbed, and he'd ended up in the river. Obviously, he'd confused those memories with some dance class he'd attended previously. Sherlock wondered if he should explain, but he would only have to tell the story again when John wrote his blasted blog. "When did you take dance classes?" he asked. He liked knowing about John's life before they'd met, even though it should have been boring.
"Before Harry's wedding," John said. "Disaster, the whole undertaking. The wedding, I mean, not really the classes. Still, I'm glad you know the steps."
"Yes." Sherlock's left hand had settled on top of John's right. He did not remember putting it there but chose not to move it. "I'll take care of you out there."
"Mm." John's eyes drifted closed. He did not pull his hand away from Sherlock's. "Next time let's wait for a song that plays less rough. No one gets stabbed and dropped into the Thames during a waltz."
"I'd have thought you'd prefer a tango," Sherlock said.
"Takes two," John said solemnly, then giggled. Pain creased his face when he laughed, and Sherlock frowned. It takes two to tango was the phrase, wasn't it? He would have to compare it against his past behavior, see if he needed to make changes. Assuming he was capable of changing at all, of course.
Sherlock let go of John's hand, slowly this time.
"Waltz it is," he said, and he thought he'd done an admirable job making his voice sound bright. He picked up the violin from the case at his feet and settled it under his chin. John watched him play through heavy-lidded eyes, and Sherlock felt a strange electricity beneath the music's steady rhythm.
The music swelled to a harmonious finish, and Sherlock lowered the violin reluctantly; he had not really wanted John to stop watching him. No matter; now was not a time to be selfish. He leaned over the bed, and his hand accidentally brushed John's fingers. "Sleep," he said. "I'll be here."
John's eyes drifted shut.
"You'll tell me when it's time for the next dance?" he asked.
Sherlock let his fingers curl around John's. "Yes. I promise."
"And you won't dance with anyone else while I'm asleep?"
"No." He considered the metaphorical implication of the question and felt an unfamiliar twinge in his chest. "No, I won't."
"Well, then." John gave a satisfied nod and drifted back into sleep. Sherlock watched and did not let go of his hand.