"I'm sorry, Doctor Watson, but I'm afraid we were unable to save your wife."
John closed his eyes and put his head in his hands, his fingers tugging at his hair as he fought to keep tears back. Within the space of an hour he'd lost both his wife and his daughter.
The doctor in front of him shifted. "The operation was always going to be risky, as I'm sure you know, but we did everything we could–"
"It's okay." John rasped, eyes still closed and head bent. "I knew the risks and that the likelihood of survival was low. Thank you for trying." He looked up eventually and the doctor smiled sympathetically.
"Of course." he said. "If you need anything else, just ask. Can I call anyone for you?"
"No, it's fine." John murmured. "I'll be fine."
The doctor didn't seem convinced, but he didn't object. With a stiff nod, he turned and walked away.
John let out a deep breath and sat back in his seat to stare at the ceiling, tears brimming but refusing to fall. His emotions were all over the place, he didn't know what to feel. Grief, at the loss of losing his family, or anger at the unfairness of it all. He wanted to shout, scream until his throat ran hoarse or sob continuously until he grew exhausted, but he knew it wasn't the place. Instead, shaking fingers drew out his phone and he dialled one of the two numbers he had memorised. It was a moment until someone answered.
"Sherlock," he choked. "Mary, she's d-dead." He heard his friend curse on the other end of the line. "And... and our baby, she d-didn't–"
"Alright, alright." Sherlock interrupted, knowing what he was trying to say. "Are you at the hospital?"
"Okay, I'm coming now, don't go anywhere."
The detective hung up and John hiccoughed, wiping a stray tear from his cheek. He didn't know what to do; he wished this was all a dream and he'd wake up any second...
John awoke with a gasp and half raised himself in his bed, looking about their – his – dark room and taking in deep breaths, calming himself down. After a few moments he flopped back onto the bed and scrubbed his eyes, brushing away the memories and stray tears that had surfaced during his sleep. He exhaled heavily and stared aimlessly at the ceiling.
It had been three days since his wife had died in childbirth, consequently losing their child as well. John had been on autopilot for the majority of the days, ambling about his empty house without any actual idea of what to do. His work had given him a few weeks off to grieve, but he almost wished they hadn't, so that at least he'd be distracted. Anything to get him out of this lifeless routine.
John rubbed his hands over his face as he tried to think of anything other than his deceased family. Not that he wanted to forget them, but right now he was shattered and wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and stave off reality until the morning. His arms dropped to his sides and he sighed, his eyelids drooping and he wondered if the third round of sleep was going to be as eventful as the past two.
His eyes had been closed for no more than ten seconds when he heard a crash downstairs.
He bolted upright and swung his legs over the side of his bed, Mary and his child completely forgotten. His feet silently touched the floor as he rose and quietly opened the bedside drawer to retrieve his gun, checking to see that it was loaded. Then he padded over to the door and slowly pulled it open.
John paused for a second, straining for any noise downstairs. It was silent. The doctor entertained the idea that something had just happened to fall over and nobody was there, but when he heard one of the stairs creak below he decided it wasn't a draught. The footsteps were making their way up towards him and he swiftly stood behind his open door, clutching his gun and staring at his room, waiting for the intruder to step in.
There was a pause as the stranger stopped on the landing, most likely peering into John's room. They took a few steps forward and stopped again, seeming almost hesitant. John willed the person to come in further so he could slam the door and surprise them.
As if hearing his request, the impostor moved closer and John was able to see their outline. Being dark, he couldn't note any prominent features, but he was immediately able to point out weak points that would take down the intruder within seconds.
John counted to five in his head before he took action. He slammed the door loudly, startling the stranger and causing them to turn. Before they could attack, though, John whipped his gun across the man's face, making him stumble backwards and fall to one knee. The doctor kicked him onto his back and followed, pinning his arms down with his hands, his gun resting above the stranger's head.
John took one look at the man below him and then swore loudly.
"Jesus Christ, Sherlock!" he shouted, getting up and hauling the lanky detective up afterwards. He switched on the light and turned to glare at Sherlock, his arms folded and face showing no remorse for the gash on his cheek, which Sherlock had his hand pressed to.
"John." the younger man acknowledged.
"What are you doing in ou-my house?" John demanded, hoping Sherlock didn't notice the slip. He did, of course.
"I left my phone here earlier and I returned to retrieve it." the detective replied calmly.
"And it couldn't have waited until the morning?" the doctor growled.
"No." Sherlock answered.
John twisted and walked downstairs, hearing Sherlock trot down the steps behind him. "What did you break?" he asked.
"It was an accident. You moved it." Sherlock replied.
"What was it?"
"How am I supposed to be able to get about quietly if you move things all the time?"
John stopped at the bottom of the steps and spun to face the sullen detective. Despite the now prominent height difference – what with Sherlock being two steps above him – John was still able to look menacing as he glowered up at Sherlock.
"Do not test me, Sherlock Holmes." he snarled, pointing a finger at the brunette. "I have had a bad night and am in no mood to deal with your crap. Now tell me, what did you break?"
Sherlock glanced down at his feet and linked his hands in front of him. John was about to tell him to cut the innocent act when Sherlock cleared his throat, making it clear he was actually going to say something.
"The vase Mary bought fell when I knocked the table. It smashed upon impact with the floor." he muttered, not meeting John's eyes.
The doctor's lips tightened and he breathed deeply through his nose, willing himself not to lose control.
"Right." he said curtly, fighting his temper. "Will you go now?"
Sherlock looked like he wanted to say something but he decided against it and instead he nodded once. He turned down the hallway towards the front door without mentioning his phone, something which surprised John. The door opened and Sherlock stepped out into the cold night air without so much as a goodbye towards John, closing the door moments later.
John sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, ignoring the voice in his head that was begging him to just go back to sleep. Instead, he stopped in the doorway to the living room and switched on the light, dreading the mess he was going to see.
And like Sherlock had said, Mary's favourite vase was lying in pieces on the floor next to the coffee table. He doubted he'd be able to get it repaired, and John also ignored the other voice that was demanding he head to Baker Street and take a piece out of Sherlock. He quashed those thoughts down, telling himself that Sherlock hadn't done it deliberately, however many times he may have expressed his distaste for the vase in the past.
The doctor moved further into the room and gently scooped the china pieces into his hands, carried them into the kitchen, wrapped them in a paper towel and then – with a regretful look – threw them into the bin. He wasted no time mourning over the accident, deeming it best to just go back to bed and sort through this tomorrow when he had a clearer head.
Moving back through the living room, though, something caught his eye. Or rather, the absence of something caught his eye. Sherlock's phone wasn't here. The detective couldn't have picked it up because he would have told John earlier, knowing that the doctor would look for it in the morning. It wouldn't be in a difficult hiding place because Sherlock barely moved from the sofa earlier today. And now that he thought about it, John didn't think Sherlock even took his phone out from his pocket when he was here during the day. Meaning...
He opened the front door and wasn't in the least surprised to see Sherlock tumble backwards, having been leaning against the door moments ago. The detective's grey eyes looked up at him from the floor and John crossed his arms.
"What did you do?" he asked shortly.
"I blew the microwave up." the younger Holmes mumbled. "Mrs Hudson chucked me out."
John rolled his eyes. "For God's sake." he muttered, moving away from the door and heading towards the kitchen. He heard Sherlock get up and close the door before he appeared next to John, twisting his fingers and looking apprehensive.
"You're hovering." John said, switching on the kettle. Sherlock took a step back. "Go sit down, Sherlock."
The detective obliged and perched on the sofa, looking about the room with a pretend expression of interest on his face. John returned with two cups of tea and settled down next to him, handing over one of the cups.
Sherlock brought the drink up to his lips. "Sorry about the vase." he murmured, taking a sip.
John sighed. "Forget it." he said. "It was only a vase. S'not like Mary's going to haunt me for it, anyway."
"She didn't like it, you know." Sherlock said.
"What? Why would she keep it if she didn't like it?" John asked.
"She thought you liked it."
"I hated it."
There was a beat of silence before John chuckled quietly, and Sherlock allowed a small smile.
"So nobody liked it but we were all too polite to say so." John said.
"I said so."
"Yeah, but you were the only one who seemed to think you had a right to voice your opinion on our interior design. We just started to zone you out once you criticised the carpet." John smiled, though it wavered slightly.
"It's a horrible colour."
"I like it."
"Well you would." Sherlock muttered petulantly into his tea.
Minutes passed in a comfortable silence, before John looked across at Sherlock. "So Mrs Hudson threw you out after you blew up the microwave in the middle of the night and you... broke into our home? You couldn't have just knocked?" he asked with a small smile.
Sherlock shrugged indifferently. "I didn't want to disturb you." he said.
"Where were you planning on sleeping?"
Sherlock frowned slightly, as if the question was a stupid one. "I wasn't going to sleep." he answered.
"Of course you weren't." John sighed, before patting Sherlock's leg. "Well, I'll prepare the spare room and you can – scratch that, you will – sleep there tonight." He got to his feet and turned to face Sherlock, who had a scowl on his face.
"I'm not tired." he said.
"I don't care." John replied. "You broke into our home, you do as I say. So get up, we'll clean that gash and then you're going to bed."
Sherlock bit his lip, clearly wanting to say something but deciding it would most probably be detrimental to his health. John smiled smugly and stepped aside, gesturing to the bathroom. Sherlock huffed dramatically before slinking down the corridor, John not far behind him.
Seated on the lid of the toilet, Sherlock sat silently as John dabbed at the blood of his cheek.
"Remind me again why you thought it would be a good idea to creep up to my room, rather than let me know you were there?"
"I was hoping the crash from the vase had not awoken you, and so I went to check to see if you were still asleep. It seemed I was wrong." He winced when John applied antiseptic.
"It was your own fault, Sherlock. You know I sleep lightly, of course that was going to wake me up." he said.
"You were awake already." Sherlock muttered, and John fell silent as he continued his work.
When John finished cleaning the detective's gash, he rose from his kneeling position and chucked the wipes in the bin, before heading into the spare room, pulling the duvet out from the wardrobe along with a pillow. He knew Sherlock had shuffled into the room behind him, and when he turned the detective was lying flat out on the bed in a crucified position. John tossed the pillow on his face before spreading the duvet out and throwing that on top of him too, so that only his erratic curls were visible.
John reached under the duvet and toed off the detective's shoes, smiling slightly when the sock-clad toes wiggled in the open air.
"Why won't you come back to Baker Street?" The question was muffled and John's smile fell off his face when he heard.
"I can't." he replied.
Sherlock sat up, the duvet falling around his waist and the pillow tumbling to the floor. "Why not? You're unhappy here."
"It's not that easy, Sherlock." John said gently. "I can't just move on like that." He snapped his fingers to make his point.
"I don't see why not."
John sighed and looked away, sinking onto the edge of the bed. "I know you don't understand, Sherlock, and I'm not going to lecture you on the different ways in which people grieve, but you need to at least accept that I'm not ready to move on just yet. Maybe one day I'll move back with you, but not today, I'm sorry."
"Alright." Sherlock mumbled, and flopped backwards to lie down. John sighed and got to his feet, watching as Sherlock drew the duvet up to his chin.
"Please don't sleep in your clothes." John said. He was ignored.
"Fine. G'night, Sherlock." He left the room, closing the door softly behind him, and then made his way down the corridor to his own room, ready to face his demons for another hour or so.