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Keep Warm

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Used to live alone in a tomb
I made my own, but now I’ve
gone and given up my coat.
And it’s cold outside, but I’m
just fine.
You are mine to keep warm.
-Ingrid Michaelson

 

It must be noted that neither Sherlock Holmes nor John Watson was really a wilderness type. No, they were both most definitely urban men. This despite the fact that Sherlock spent much of his childhood on a country estate and John was not unfamiliar with the wilds of Afghanistan. The city was where they lived and worked and thrived. London was their kingdom.

It was true that on occasion they did venture into smaller venues, namely, various towns and villages that dotted the English landscape. Sherlock often pointed out that crime flourished everywhere, even in the most idyllic setting. One particularly gloomy afternoon in Baker Street [after an annoying case in deepest Cornwall] he had waxed quite poetic on the subject. “…the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

John had been forced to leap to his feet instantly and go quote the words on his blog.

On very rare occasions, they left civilisation behind completely, as they had for this case.

Tensions were running rather high inside the hire car that Sherlock was maneuvering through the wilds of North Wales. There were several reasons for that tension.

One was that it had been a number of hours since breakfast and John Watson’s hunger was always an irritable beast. The second reason was that the case had turned out to be entirely mundane, certainly not worth the journey into the hills and Sherlock’s intolerance for the mundane was a raging beast.

Having two beasts within the confines of a rather small automobile was never going to be a good thing.
Finally, just to complete the trifecta of misery, it had started to snow just after they set out on the drive back to civilisation, meaning a town that had a train station with links to London and since then the storm had steadily intensified. The GPS seemed to have given up in frustration and neither of their phones had a signal.

They were not men used to the wilderness.

Sherlock, while trying to navigate through the curtain of white that increasingly enveloped the car, had spent the last twenty minutes cursing his brother, upon whose insistence they had taken the case in the first place.

John, meanwhile, was searching his overnight bag again, hoping to uncover a candy bar or maybe some biscuits that had somehow evaded his previous three searches. “I think we missed the turn,” he commented idly.

Sherlock pounded the steering wheel. “You were supposed to be reading the map,” he said through gritted teeth.

“I did say the turn was close. You were calling Mycroft names and ignored me.”

“Useless,” Sherlock muttered. Then, because he was not quite the idiot he had been before Dr. Watson came into his life, Sherlock muttered, “Not you.”

John finally accepted that there was absolutely nothing edible in his bag and threw it violently into the backseat. “Christ, I’m hungry.”

“So you have said five times in the last hour.”

“Well, if you had let me get some lunch before we left---“

Sherlock let out a wordless roar.

A heavy silence descended. They both stared out at the snow, which was nothing like the snow they saw in London.

“Like a sandstorm,” John murmured, trying to fight off the memories.

Sherlock had slowed the car to a crawl. “Too bad they didn’t have a Rover available,” he said, almost to himself.

John glanced at the other man’s face and read the tenseness there. “You’re doing great,” he said, resting a hand on Sherlock’s thigh, his thumb making soothing circles.

It was almost an anti-climax when the car slowly ground to a halt, unable to move any further through the drifts blocking the narrow road.

For several minutes, Sherlock just kept his hands where they were, gripping the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles were white. He did not look at John. “I’m sorry,” he whispered finally.

John tightened his grip on Sherlock’s leg. “Not your fault. Despite what you might think, the elements are not under your control.” He took a breath. “We’ll be fine. Can’t snow forever.”

Sherlock turned to look at him, a softness in his expression that no one else ever really saw. “But you’re hungry. You need to eat.”

John huffed. “I’ll be fine.” He leaned forward and kissed Sherlock lightly. “Don’t worry.”

A moment later, they unfastened their seat belts and moved into a comfortable, familiar embrace. Sherlock rubbed his cheek in John’s hair. “Nobody is going to come along and find us,” he said.

“I know.”

They sat in silence and watched the snow build up around the car. Sherlock turned the car on briefly for some heat, but turned it off again in only moments. “If the exhaust is blocked…”

“Carbon monoxide, yes.”

“We’ll open the windows a bit next time.” Despite the snow, there was some small blessing in the fact that the temperature was not as low as it might have been. Still bloody cold, though.

For the next hour or so they just sat, mostly in silence, running the heater very little, because it was obvious that the exhaust pipe would be blocked by now. They shared body heat and some kisses.

Daylight was fading.

“You know what next Tuesday is?” John asked languidly at some point.
“Of course I do,” Sherlock replied, sounding almost insulted that John might think he’d forget the first anniversary of the night they became lovers.

“I’ve made plans.”

“Dinner at Angelo’s.”

“Yes.” John lifted his head and met Sherlock’s eyes. “I was planning to propose.”

Sherlock blinked. “Propose? You mean, as in marriage?”

“That’s the usual thing, yes.”

“I did not think that mattered to you.”

John smiled faintly. “I didn’t think so, either. Surprised myself. You undoubtedly would have said no, of course, but I wanted to go on the record.”

Sherlock was trying to see his face in the encroaching darkness. “Why do you think I would say no?”

“Well…you’re you.”

Sherlock reached for the ignition again, but this time the engine just made a futile grinding sound. “Humph,” he said, his shoulders slumping.

They could no longer see one another.

“Ask me,” Sherlock said quietly.

John was leaning against him. “I had a whole speech prepared.”

Sherlock chuckled. “Did you?”

“I practised. Of course, there was also supposed to be wine involved. And a candle, because it’s more romantic.” A slight giggle escaped him. “Not to mention that I was going to adopt a rather hopeful expression.”

“Did you practise that as well?”

“In the bathroom mirror,” John joked.

Sherlock smiled into John’s neck. “Who could resist all of that?”
“Under the circumstances, though, maybe I should just cut to the chase. Sherlock Holmes, I love you. Will you marry me?”

Sherlock didn’t say anything for a long moment, then he sighed, a warm, moist exhalation of breath against John’s mouth. “Yes, John Watson, I would be honoured to marry you.”

John couldn’t seem to help giggling again. “I’m very happy to hear that. But would you say the same thing if we were not probably going to freeze to death in Wales tonight?”

Sherlock intertwined his fingers with John’s. “I would. Although that surprises me as much as it does you.”

They exchanged lazy kisses for a good long while. Abruptly, John yawned. “Going to nap for a bit, Sherlock,” he said. “Not freezing to death yet. Just sleeping.”

“All right,” Sherlock said softly.

Once the other man was snoring, Sherlock disengaged from him. With some effort, he managed to get out of his coat and wrapped it around John, tucking in the edges tenderly. Then he reached into the backseat for John’s bag and yanked out the other jumper, pulling it on over his suit jacket. Immediately, he felt better, but whether it was because the jumper made him a little warmer or because it smelt of John wasn’t clear. Then he wrapped himself around John again.

“I, Sherlock, take you, John,” he whispered, before closing his own eyes.

 

It was a surprise when a bright sun in a flawless blue sky woke John the next morning. Not that the sun came up or that the storm was over. The surprise was that he woke up. They were both shivering and their lips were slightly blue, but they were alive.

John woke first and frowned when he saw that Sherlock was not wearing his coat. He tried to drag some of it over the other man’s shivering form. That woke Sherlock as well and after a moment, he smiled faintly, although his teeth were chattering. “Good morning, fiancé,” he whispered.

The car seemed to be nearly buried in snow, except for the windscreen, which the wind had apparently blown almost clear. Sherlock wondered aloud about the possibility of forcing their way out of the car and walking down the mountain through the 1.2192 meters of snow.

John threatened violence if he even tried.

They huddled together, talking about possible honeymoon spots, all of which were very, very warm. At some point, John took out his gun and rested it on the floor. Sherlock met his gaze and nodded. Although if it came to that they both thought that attempting to hike down the mountain might be an option, although one not likely to succeed. But at least they would die trying.

An hour or so passed. It was through the windscreen that they saw the helicopter just after they’d heard the rapid clattering of the propellers. The vehicle that appeared above them was clearly no ordinary search and rescue copter; it was huge and black and screamed secret forces.

“Mycroft,” Sherlock said.

“How did he even know?” Then John shrugged. “Oh, never mind. He’s Mycroft. And he is most definitely invited to the wedding.” He kissed Sherlock’s cold nose. “You’re still obligated, you know.”

Sherlock just smiled at him and then they leaned forward to watch as two black-clad rescuers were lowered from the helicopter.

fini