London lay languid, painted a thousand shades of brilliant orange and gold as the sun began her nightly descent toward the horizon; Britain's jewel doubly adorned by nature herself. John stared out of the cab window, for once oblivious to the raw beauty of the city he loved. The placid face John wore would have convinced any who met him of his state of calm. The effect was somewhat spoiled by the fingers drumming against his thigh as his knee bounced up and down rhythmically. All unconscious actions indicating the somewhat distracted and nervous state in which John found himself. John was, in fact, so lost in thought that he failed to notice their arrival at Baker Street.
"Oi, mate," the cabbie called for the second time, "We're here yeah!"
John shook off his daze, quickly apologizing and paying the cabbie. Alone on the sidewalk he glanced up at the windows of their flat wondering if Sherlock was home. A smile lighting his face as he thought of the night ahead, while a glance at the papers clutched in his hands sent John bounding up the stairs two at a time, hoping anxiously that Sherlock would like the gift he had for him. His enthusiasm waned immediately as John found the flat silent and empty. There didn't seem as if a note was about and a quick glance at his phone showed no messages from Sherlock. In the aftermath of the Fall, conscious of the emotional toll on John, Sherlock did his best to always let John know where he was off to now. It wasn't a perfect system and Sherlock certainly still forgot plenty of times but John had been greatly reassured by the effort being made. Which was in fact why, he wasn't deeply troubled by Sherlock's absence at the moment. Lestrade must have called him off on an interesting case and he had just forgotten in his excitement. John accustomed as he was to tardiness from his mate due to cases, even if they had plans for the night. Unperturbed by the situation John set about making his tea and settled down to read the newspaper. An hour later John had emptied his tea and finished reading the paper, the sun had fully set and there was still no word from Sherlock. John finally gave in and sent a text.
"Where are you?"-JW.
A reply quickly arrived, "On my way home. Shouldn't be too long."-SH.
John smiled and didn't bother to reply deciding instead to indulge in a hot shower.
The shower had done wonders for John, the hot water soothing tense muscles as well as nerves. John found himself feeling refreshed as he began to dress. Glancing down at the all-important papers he had placed on their bureau earlier, John couldn't help but smile as he pulled on the red shirt Sherlock favored on him. Combined with dark jeans and indigo blue jacket, John thought he would pass muster. Sherlock hadn't told him formal dress would be required wherever they would be going tonight after all, nor had he laid out a suit for John to put on so he thought he would be dressed appropriately. John shook his head still wondering at Sherlock's insistence that he be allowed to arrange everything, and his insistence that it be a surprise. Tonight was the one year anniversary of their bonding. Not the anniversary of their ceremony, which was a very nice event at Mycroft's estate with just them and their closest friends in attendance. No, John and Sherlock chose instead to celebrate the date of their bond being formed. The night they became what neither had ever expected nor planned, a mated pair. Two halves of a bond so strong that the only way either of them had found to describe it was a profound sense of being made whole both by and with the other. Sherlock still scoffed at the sentiment inherent in such a statement; however it was John, and it was the truest phrasing of their attachment of one to the other. He learned to accept the sentiment. Sherlock had never sought nor wanted an Omega in any way before meeting John and even then he ignored the pull he felt toward John for a very long time. John likewise had never planned or expected to find an Alpha he felt he could submit to in any way, until he met Sherlock. Mad, strange, eccentric Sherlock who swept into John's life and saved him from himself, repairing the damaged man he was without even knowing it.
Despite years of denial, followed by years of sorrow and suffering, both men found themselves immensely grateful for whatever cosmic twist of fate had brought them together. Sherlock was constantly awed, not because he could love John freely, but that he could receive the same love in return and that alone made him a fortunate man. For his part John was happier than he had ever expected he could be as a mated Omega. They were in no way a typical Alpha and Omega, and genders aside they certainly weren't perfect. Sherlock would never indulge his Alpha nature and command John to his will and John would fight him tooth and nail if he tried. They were both equally stubborn and adept at arguing their points of view, of manipulating the other and getting their way, but they were able to share a give and take most mates never found. Each man completed the other and together they were whole. John chuckled to himself as his thoughts returned to the present and tonight's anniversary. The smile remained as he returned to the living room to await Sherlock.
Another hour had passed since John had received Sherlock's text and John was getting a bit hungry for dinner and starting to feel a bit annoyed at his mate. Still when John heard Sherlock's footsteps on the stairs, he rose quickly to greet him. Sherlock blew into the flat with his usual flurry of energy in motion, the cool mist of an evening fog clinging to his coat and hair.
"Hello Love", John smiled as he reached to put his arms around Sherlock's waist and give him a kiss.
What John received was a mumbled ,"Mmm..", followed by a distracted kiss that hit the corner of his mouth as Sherlock brushed past him without a hug.
John bit down the instant twinge of hurt he felt. He knew how Sherlock's moods could be after all, even on a night like tonight. Perhaps something had happened with the case….maybe their plans were going to have to wait and Sherlock didn't want to tell John. It wouldn't really be surprising either way, John thought, not with the life they led. John had gotten so lost in his thoughts again that it took a moment to realize Sherlock was talking to him.
"John! Really can you focus please! Have you seen where I put the file on the Thompson case? There's been another killing that's almost identical. I need my notes so we can compare them with some other cases Lestrade has open. May actually have another serial killer and you know how I do love those!"
Sherlock had rummaged around the desk as he talked and smirked to himself at his latest quip expecting John's soft chuckle to follow. When a response wasn't forthcoming, he finally glanced up from the desk. John still stood near the door where he had met Sherlock. Hands hanging loose at his sides, John remained silent simply staring at Sherlock as if waiting for something. Sherlock sharpened his focus on John feeling something was off but could not place the expression on his face.
"Yeah," John seemed to shake himself and square his shoulders as he brought his eyes up to meet Sherlock's, "Uhm...right. The folder is in the top file drawer with your most recent cases".
Sherlock finally took in John's attire, too dressy for a night of cases and take-away. His favorite cologne hung in the air and his face was too clean-shaven for this late in the day. Sherlock found he couldn't stop the eyebrow that rose in surprise or the same tone in his voice when he asked, "Going somewhere tonight?" John hadn't mentioned anything about an engagement or friends in town.
John reacted in the blink of an eye and none but Sherlock would have ever caught the flash of emotion in John's eyes before it he had smothered it away and John faced him once more with his implacable soldier's face. Oh how Sherlock hated that face! That face was the result of some mistake or failing made by Sherlock of the "bit not good" variety. And there was no mistaking the emotions he saw, no...Sherlock knew good and well John was bottling up a veritable Vesuvius at this moment. The problem was he didn't know why or what he could do to fix it. He could barely even process his own reaction to his mate's distress at this moment. Sherlock took in John's tense shoulders, his left hand clenching unconsciously at his side, jaw rigid and set, and the intense gaze directed at him. Struggling with his deductions only made Sherlock more uncertain and uncomfortable. What was wrong?
John looked on passively even as he fought his own disappointment and anger. He had been willing to accept if something important had come up to change their plans. That was always possible with them. John could concede annoyance that it couldn't wait til morning but that really was petty and an apology and a rain check could have squared everything. He knew how Sherlock got when there was a case on and that would never change just because of John and an anniversary. But that wasn't it, that wasn't the thing that had him so upset. John just hadn't known. He truly did not realize until Sherlock looked him up and down and instead of complimenting him asked his question.
Until that moment, John had not realized there were no plans for tonight. Despite his insistence, Sherlock had forgotten the anniversary, forgotten about John, and in a way forgotten their bond. John knew none of that was true but he was struggling to stay rational at the moment. Right now, as much as John detested it, his needy Omega nature was making itself known. Reminding him just how much he had needed and wanted this from Sherlock. Something special just for him, a bubble of private time for just the two of them alone, to share gifts, share each other, and a chance to remake their bond anew.
When John thought of the gift he had intended for Sherlock and how even that seemed ruined, the dull ache in his chest became a sharp pain, breathing became a bit harder, and a distinct prickling started behind his eyes. John was about at the limit of his ability to stay calm but damn it all if he was going to start crying in front of Sherlock! He was furious with Sherlock and the situation, then he was furious with himself for being so upset and needy. God when did he start acting like a woman?! That is Not who John Watson is at all! He struggled to keep his composure in front of his hyper-perceptive mate, blinking slowly as he fought the urge to cry in anger, frustration, and hurt. He had to go….had to get out...away from Sherlock before he did or said something pointless. It had only been a moment or two since Sherlock spoke to him but John didn't even realize he had failed to offer any answer as he grabbed his keys and headed out the door, not even trusting himself to speak.
Sherlock had observed everything John worked so hard to hide passing across his face in those moments. He was dizzy from the waves of distress he felt radiating from his mate and took a moment to realize said mate was leaving without a word.
"John! Wait! Aren't you coming to the crime scene with me?"
John froze at the top of the stairs but did not turn.
"No Sherlock. I have to go somewhere." Somewhere far away from you as it so happens, John's brain quickly supplied. "Good-night." It was all John could manage to get out.
Sherlock continued to stare after John, confused and troubled by emotions he often didn't understand. He didn't like this kind of upheaval in his life, certainly not when it pertains to John. Unsure of his next move and feeling less than sure-footed at the moment, Sherlock was not happy. His logical mind battled with deeply seated instinct. Unbidden a low growl issued from his throat as the alpha expressed his displeasure with the situation, instincts screaming at him to calm and soothe his mate. Uncertainty only served to make Sherlock spiteful in defense. Speaking so he was heard down the stairs he called, "Just as well, it's not like I'll need you there to get the case solved!" Sherlock knew his comment had found its mark as surely as any marksman when he heard John's steps falter on the stairway. A moment later he recalled why he should not sling such arrows at the man he loved when the arrow returned and pierced his own heart with the ache carried in John's voice.
"You're right Sherlock….why would you ever need me?"
John had already left the building, the door closing quietly behind him before Sherlock's reply drifted down the empty stairwell. "I always need you John."
John managed to hail a cab and get inside before the shaking started. "Can...can you just drive," John asked the cabbie, "Anywhere you want to go...just drive."
"Sure mate. It's your money." he answered as he started the meter and merged into traffic.
A shaky "Thanks." was all John could manage before leaning his head against the window while the tears began to fall unchecked.