Sherlock has been in a weird mood all morning, ever since John woke him from what was obviously a nightmare. He's said barely a word to John since then, and has passed the time pacing the small room, interspersed with the odd terse phone call in German. John has no idea what's going on, but he trusts Sherlock to tell him at some point.
John's just checking his gun (for about the hundredth time) when Sherlock comes to a stop in front of him.
"It's time to go."
Sherlock won't look at him properly and John gets to his feet with a sigh, tucking his gun into his waistband. "Where exactly?"
John grits his teeth but says nothing about Sherlock's evasive comment. He pulls on his coat and follows Sherlock to the door like the obedient soldier that he is. Sherlock hefts open the door and leads the way up the stairs. He pauses at the door which leads out into the street - well, alleyway - and listens intently before pushing it open.
Sherlock steps out into bright sunshine and John follows, hand shielding his eyes before he turns to shut the door behind him. There is a blur of motion from John's left side but he has no time to react before a blow to the back of the neck sends him crumpling to the floor.
Sherlock opens his eyes carefully, the room swaying into focus as the sedative he'd been given wears off. He's in a low chair, his hands tied in front of him, but no further restraints. John, slumped unconscious in a chair across the room, is also similarly restrained. Sheer arrogance on Moran's part. Useful, though.
Although, Moran clearly isn't taking too many chances - there's a burly blonde man standing at John's side, pistol clearly visible at his hip. He gives Sherlock a wide smile.
"Lukas," Sherlock snarls at his contact, prompting laughter from somewhere behind him.
Moran appears, smiling as he steps in front of Sherlock. "Hello again, Sherlock."
Sherlock ignores him, taking stock of where they are: a large sitting room in what seems to be a holiday villa. French windows on one side open onto a stone balcony. He can smell freshwater, hear the faint roar from the open windows. They appear to have left the city far behind and that matches up with his estimate of the time - they've been unconscious for a few hours.
"Come," Moran says pleasantly, beckoning for Sherlock to get up. "Why don't you have a proper look around?"
Sherlock gets hesitantly to his feet, glancing at John before turning towards Moran. Moran wanders over to the windows and out onto the balcony, gesturing for Sherlock to follow. Lukas follows every movement with his eyes, but does not budge from his spot at John's side.
Sherlock steps out onto the balcony, subtly twisting his hands to test the strength of his bindings. He walks up to the edge and looks out over the mountain landscape and the river a long way below them.
"Do you know where we are?" Moran asks with a smile, and then continues on regardless. "That, down there, is the river Reichenbach."
Sherlock says nothing.
"You know, I was actually the one to think up the whole 'Rich Brook' thing. Me, not Moriarty. He was just the one to execute it. He couldn't resist - he was so obsessed with you."
Moran laughs. "It made him weak. Crazy."
Sherlock acknowledges that with a tilt of his head. "Whereas you're just out to get the job done."
"Although I notice you've decided to adopt some of Moriarty's dramatics for this little scene. Otherwise you would've just killed the both of us outright."
"It just wasn't going to be satisfying enough," Moran allows. "You see, it's personal now."
"You're so right. It is personal," Sherlock says, turning to press his back to the balcony, his eyes fixed on John through the large, open windows. "You made the wrong move, Moran, and I'm afraid you're going to pay for it."
"Oh, really?" Moran asks with amusement. "How do you figure that?"
"The problem is, you're just not as clever as you wish you were." Sherlock locks eyes with Lukas. "Nicht wahr, Lukas?"
Moran spins round in surprise, only to find Lukas's pistol trained on him from across the room. Moran reacts instantly, whipping a gun from God knows where and taking Lukas out with a single shot. Sherlock uses the momentary distraction to slip his hands free from the restraints, and rushes at Moran.
John comes round slowly, his vision blurring for a moment before it clears, revealing the scene in front of him. A blonde man lies dead by his chair, a single neat hole through his forehead. The sounds of a scuffle draw John's attention to the balcony, where Sherlock is fighting a man who can only be Moran. Neither of them appear to have noticed that he is awake.
He spots the gun in the dead man's outstretched hand instantly and gives a testing wiggle in his chair, relieved to find that only his hands are tied. He tests the bindings, only to have them slip off easily. Something's not quite right with this scene, but he's not going to waste time figuring out what.
A quick glance towards the balcony shows Sherlock and Moran grappling, both trying to find leverage in the enclosed space. He needs to use this advantage before he loses it. He rubs his wrists and tries not to move too quickly as he slides to the floor, eyes on the ongoing fight even as he crawls towards the dead man. He slips the gun from his hand, checks the safety, and turns back towards the balcony just in time to see Sherlock and Moran go toppling over the edge.
John runs to the edge, but they are nowhere to be seen. "Sherlock!" he calls out hopelessly. "Sherlock!"
It's a fifty foot drop to the water, maybe more, and John is trying not to think about the rate of survival for a fall like that. He scans the water desperately but the white surge of the rapids churns everything up and he can't see anything. He swallows hard around the lump in his throat. Sherlock survived a seventy-foot fall from a building - albeit with some assistance - so John is not going to give up just yet.
From his position on the balcony, he can see a precarious path at the side of the villa winding down to the river. It takes him ten minutes to find his way to it, but then he's rushing down the uneven steps carved into the side of the rock face. The river bank, when he reaches it, is rocky and there is no clear path along it, but that's not going to stop him. Adrenaline and desperation spur him on, leading him to half-scramble across the rocks, his feet slipping out from underneath him at several points.
Just up ahead, the landscape levels out a bit and the water calms, turning from a rushing torrent to something more meandering. There is still no sign of life. John jogs along the side, eyes flicking from bank to bank, hoping to get a glimpse of something.
There are large branches wedged against the rocks lining the banks in several places, and at one point even what looks like a whole tree. He's almost passed it when he spots a sliver of white among the branches and he's in the water without a second thought, gasping at the cold but forcing himself onwards.
What he finds is a hand and he reaches out for it, tugging the rest of the body free of the branches before he realises that the owner is blonde rather than dark-haired. Moran. His neck is twisted at an awkward angle, eyes staring up at John lifelessly. John closes his eyes at the sight and pushes the body back into the water.
He wades back to the bank dejectedly, runs a cold hand through his hair. He can't give up - he has to find Sherlock. He forces himself onwards, although hope abandons him with every step. If Moran was killed on impact... No. He won't even think it. Not until he has the proof right in front of him.
A large boulder blocks his path and he hauls himself up onto it, resting his head against the stone for a moment to catch his breath. "Come on," he whispers to himself.
He raises his head, and that's when he catches sight of a dark shape washed up on the bank just below him. "Sherlock!"
He slides down the boulder and rushes to Sherlock, dropping to his knees and rolling him onto his back. Sherlock is paler than ever - tinged blue from the cold - and John is almost too afraid to press his fingers against Sherlock's neck. He lets out a breath of relief when he finds a very faint pulse, but the fact remains that Sherlock's not breathing, his chest eerily still.
John checks Sherlock's airway and then tilts his head back, holding his nose and sealing his mouth over the top. He watches as Sherlock's chest expands and contracts with his breath and then pulls back, before repeating the process again.
"Come on," he whispers desperately between breaths.
Again, and again, until he's almost lightheaded. "Come on, you bastard."
He breathes air into Sherlock again, and suddenly Sherlock splutters and expels the water from his lungs, curling automatically onto his side with a moan. John can't help the relieved sob that slips past his lips.
Sherlock's eyes flutter open and he takes John in with a confused frown. "What happened?"
"You almost drowned, you bastard, that's what happened," John chokes out.
Sherlock tries to sit up and John grabs him by the arms to help. "Take it easy."
Sherlock is shivering, his clothes soaked through, and John rubs his hands up and down his arms briskly.
"We need to get you warm and dry. I'm not having you dying of hypothermia after I just saved your arse." He gives Sherlock a crooked smile and Sherlock lets out a huff of laughter, his teeth chattering together.
"Come on," John says, wrapping an arm around Sherlock's waist and gently guiding him to his feet. Sherlock lolls against him weakly, and John puts all his effort into getting them the hell out of there.
Sherlock is loathe to move from his spot curled in the bottom of the shower, warm water running over his head. It's been twenty minutes and he's only just starting to get the heat back into his fingers and toes.
It had taken them almost an hour to reach the nearest town and, by that point, Sherlock was shivering uncontrollably and struggling to walk. Somehow, John had managed to charm his way into the town's only hotel, despite a lack of money and identification, and had dumped Sherlock under the shower (clothes and all) as soon as they'd got to their room.
He reappears now, regarding Sherlock with amusement. "You look like a drowned rat."
Sherlock gives him a sour look but doesn't have the energy to respond.
"How are you feeling?" John asks, moving closer, concern colouring his voice.
"Warm," Sherlock slurs.
"That's good. Any numbness in your extremities?"
Sherlock shakes his head.
"Good. Want to get out of those wet clothes yet?"
Sherlock makes a non-commital noise, eyes fluttering closed. He's exhausted, just wants to sleep. He jolts awake when hands curl around his shoulders, giving him a shake, as John says his name.
"Don't fall asleep, alright?" John says. He's smiling, but worry lingers in his eyes.
"You're getting wet," Sherlock points out and John laughs lowly.
"You didn't hit your head, did you?"
He pushes his fingers into Sherlock's hair and Sherlock hums contentedly, leaning into the touch. John stops, sighs, and rests his hands on Sherlock's shoulders, pressing his head to Sherlock's.
"I thought I'd lost you again."
Sherlock is too distracted to answer as he presses his nose into the hollow of John's throat, breathing in the familiar scent of him.
"You need to stop falling off things, alright?"
"I promise," Sherlock says solemnly, tilting his head up to look John in the eye.
John smiles, but there's a seriousness in his expression, a tightness that Sherlock - in his addled state - cannot decipher.
"Come on, let's get these clothes off."
He levers Sherlock into a standing position and leans him against the wall, deftly undoing his sodden shirt and slipping it off. Next come his trousers, then boxers, and Sherlock clears his throat awkwardly as his body responds automatically to John's closeness.
"Ignore that," he murmurs.
John gives a huff that isn't quite a laugh and helps Sherlock lower himself to the floor once more. "Are you going to be alright left on your own?"
"Call me if you need anything," John says, brushing Sherlock's wet hair back from his face. "And don't fall asleep. Not just yet, alright?"
Sherlock just hums in reply, closing his eyes and tipping his head back into the spray. He doesn't realise John has moved until the bathroom door opens and shuts behind him.
John strips off his own wet clothes and wraps himself up in one of the complimentary bathrobes, sinking bonelessly onto the end of the bed. Moran is dead and they've both come out of it alive, but the thought does not make him as happy as it should. It's been an anticlimax, of sorts. And to add to that, he feels like his emotions have been put through the wringer, leaving him strung-out and exhausted.
The sound of the shower continues next door, and John knows he should go and get Sherlock out and put him to bed, but he's feeling emotionally raw, vulnerable. He's finding it hard to put his doctor face on and deal with it.
Finally, he forces himself to his feet and heads for the bathroom again. Sherlock is still slumped in the bottom of the shower, eyes half-closed, but at least his skin has lost its worrying blue tinge.
"Alright, time to get out," John says with forced cheer.
Sherlock starts at his voice and looks up at him with heavy-lidded eyes. John can't remember ever seeing him so helpless before. He turns off the shower, ignoring Sherlock's grunt of protest, and hauls him to his feet before bundling him up in a large, fluffy towel.
"I'm not a child," Sherlock murmurs.
"I know," John says distractedly, grabbing another smaller towel and attacking Sherlock's hair. Once Sherlock's hair is dry, John towels down his arms, legs and torso. He can feel the weight of Sherlock's gaze on him, but Sherlock stays silent throughout John's ministrations. Finally, John throws the towel aside and coaxes him into the other bathrobe, securing it tightly around his waist.
"I'll put our clothes on the radiators and hopefully they'll be dry by morning."
Sherlock says nothing and lets John lead him out into the bedroom and guide him down onto the bed. "You should sleep now."
Sherlock crawls under the cover without protest, a sure sign that he's not quite himself. John tucks the blankets up around his neck, and just as he's about to step back, Sherlock catches hold of his wrist.
"Stay," he says sleepily.
He's got his eyes closed already, and John watches him for a moment, before extricating his wrist from Sherlock's grasp. Sherlock is already asleep, and his hand drops to the bed with a low thud.
John drapes the clothes over the radiators and chairs as best he can and then, with a sigh, returns to the bed. Sherlock is snoring quietly and John smiles as he climbs in next to him. He's too tired to think about propriety and boundaries tonight, and once he's settled down, the low sounds of Sherlock's breathing lull him quickly to sleep.