John's head is pounding.
"Sherlock, he'll be alright," a voice - Lestrade's - says. "He's... ah hell, Sherlock... look, he's coming round now, let him up, you hen -"
John struggles to push himself up on his elbows, awareness coming back to him rapidly, though he suspects he has a concussion. He's lying on pavement - he recalls falling to meet it after finding himself pistol whipped clean to the temple by the target of their investigation that evening. Police lights flash too bright across his vision, though from only one vehicle, John deduces, so Lestrade must have arrived before the rest of the Yard (not surprising). And Sherlock-
There's a twist in John's chest as he turns his head to find Sherlock close, very close, the strangest expression on his face and hands gripping John by the purple silk shirt he's wearing, and… what?
“And for christ’s sake, what are you two even wearing?” Lestrade’s voice cuts back in. “Don't tell me you- hell, you're the bloody weirdest pair I've ever met, you know that?”
John shifts back, still on elbows, to better take in the scene Sherlock is presenting him, though his head is still hazy.
“John,” Sherlock says to him, voice tremulous with emotion, and that concerns John, though not so much at that second as does the image of Sherlock wearing his jumper.
He opens his mouth, shaking his head just so in confusion, before the memory comes to him.
“How can you wear this, John?”
John comes out of the kitchen to see a disgruntled Sherlock moving toward him from the staircase, pulling a cream jumper down over the bare skin of his abdomen, where it falls just above his trouser line, too short.
"It's scratchy and frankly awful to look at-”
“Sherlock, that's- were you in my bedroom? Why are you wearing my clothes?”
“I was just curious,” Sherlock replies, waving a hand in the air, which John translates to “I was bored”.
“It's not scratchy,” John says, a little testily, and Sherlock rolls his eyes.
"Fine, quite unpleasant then.”
John purses his lips in frustration and turns on his heel towards Sherlock's bedroom. “Alright then, let's see how you like it. I'll try wearing one of your ridiculous, too-tight, stupid, posh shirts, huh? Maybe I'll throw in a suit jacket and cufflinks for effect!”
He shuts the bedroom door behind him loudly, for effect, and doesn't know whether to be surprised or not that Sherlock hasn't followed him with an arbitrary and hypocritical complaint. He sighs and pulls out a shirt from Sherlock's wardrobe, a deep plum article he knows will look like a tarp on him compared to how Sherlock flaunts it, and he mildly regrets his childish retaliation before he's even finished with it.
He strips out of his own pullover, leaving it unceremoniously on Sherlock's perfectly-made bed, and tugs the shirt on before heading back to the sitting room without even glancing in the mirror.
"Go ahead and laugh, Sherlock,” he says, stopping at the back of his chair. “You're a sight yourself in that jumper, but I know this isn't exactly flattering on me and, well…”
But Sherlock is looking at him with the strangest expression, amusement gone from his face, hands having forgotten to fidget with the hem of the jumper.
John clears his throat. “What?”
He can see Sherlock's lips forming what is probably the word “nothing” as he blinks and his face shifts back to normal, but then his mobile chimes and his attention snaps to it as always.
“Oh,” he breathes, in that tone that sets John's blood thrumming for danger. “Oh, wonderful! Lestrade thinks they've- he's right there at the shop, we can ambush him- come on, John!”
He's already running out the door, pulling his Belstaff over the ill-fitting jumper before John can protest, and then he's following the madman out, still awkward in that purple shirt.
He can see now that Sherlock is indeed still wearing the jumper, under the great black coat, a sliver of hipbone visible in the dusk. More of the evening comes back to him as he pulls himself up to sit straight and looks side to side for the criminal they'd tracked, finding him facedown not far from himself, Lestrade pulling his hands behind his back to cuff them.
“John,” Sherlock repeats, more urgently, and John turns again to look at him, another visual snippet of the evening coming back to him: Sherlock catching him with one arm as he falls from the blow of the pistol, and punching the assailant square in the jaw with the other.
Sherlock is looking at him now with more concern than he thinks he's ever seen in those light eyes, and for a moment he imagined he sees unshed tears there, but it must be a trick of the flashing lights and his own questionable perception at the moment.
“John, say you're alright.”
“Course I am, Sherlock.” John shifts uncomfortably in the unfamiliar sheer fabric of the shirt. “I've had much worse than a smack to the head, even if this might have caused a concussion… ugh.”
“John,” Sherlock says, yet again, the name twisting as though he's strangled. “I… I thought you looked very handsome. Before. Wearing my shirt.”
He says it quickly but hesitantly, and John can only blink and tilt his head (though, ow, perhaps he'd better not) because whatever he might have guessed Sherlock would say, it wasn't that. To their side, Lestrade clears his throat awkwardly and stands, hauling the handcuffed man to his feet and toward the car, looking grateful for the excuse to move away.
“I did, I thought you looked very nice and you were beginning to chastise the image of you wearing it, and, well.” He stops to take in a long, slow breath. “So many times you've been hurt, worse than this as you've said, and there's so much I might never have been able to tell you. So. I wanted to change that inexcusable pattern.”
John feels a flush spreading up his neck, and a slow grin stealing over his face. It's probably the concussion, he reasons.
“That's not to say I don't prefer you in your sensible button downs, and this hideous jumper that fits me like doll clothes fit a shepherd dog but that is perfectly at home on you, and-”
John laughs because Sherlock is rambling now, actually babbling on while his hold on the purple shirt hasn't lessened a bit, and his head swims with the desire to kiss Sherlock and pull up confession after confession of his own. Hmm. Perhaps not the concussion after all.
“You know, most people come out and say something like ‘I love you’ instead of talking about trading clothes that don't fit the other.”
“I've just said I find my shirt to fit you quite well,” Sherlock says, pulse noticeably elevating, though if he's flustered by John's words, his face doesn't give it away. “And oh, would you like me to tell you that? I should have so many times. It's true.”
John feels scorching desire take a leap in his chest at the idea that his brilliant idiot has finally caught up.
“I've half a mind to kiss you,” he tells Sherlock seriously. “The other half is almost certainly concussed and can't be trusted.”
“Glad the working half is the one that… loves me too.” He's suddenly shy, lost in new territory, and John wants to kiss him senseless until Sherlock doesn't remember what it's like to not be consumed with love.
“Yeah, I think. You know what. I think I will kiss you.”
“Yes, perhaps you should.”
“Christ,” Lestrade mutters, pushing off the car to walk around to the driver’s side. John didn't realize he was standing so close, but the inspector is grinning under his sheepishness, so John ignores him and pulls Sherlock in by the jumper.
Sherlock melts under his lips, startlingly delicate hands coming to clutch at his jaw as he pushes closer for more. John drinks Sherlock in like he's been parched for this since the moment they met, and if he's being honest, that's entirely the case. His temple throbs again and he moves back. An ambulance pulls up next to Lestrade, and John is grateful for the promise of medical attention, though impatient for the next opportunity to kiss his flatmate.
“Probably best to wait.” He sighs, hands tangled in black curls.
“Probably.” Sherlock smiles the gentlest smile John has ever seen and rubs absently at John's cheeks with his thumbs.
“You were saying there are so many things you've always meant to tell me?”
“Ah yes, I could tell you them now, if you'd like.” Sherlock helps John stand and make his way over to the ambulance.
“Wouldn't that take quite a long time?”
“There's my confident John,” Sherlock teases with his usual feline smile. “And as it stands, we have quite a lot of time. We're waiting on Scotland Yard.”
John laughs indulgently, and Sherlock joins in with the deep rumble he loves, and John thinks the evening's turn of events have made a concussion quite worthwhile.