Magnussen smiled at his guest, waving her into a comfortable seat. He waited, letting the silence stretch between them, but his visitor – despite her concerns – was made of sterner stuff and was not letting it faze her at all. Magnussen's smile widened.
"Mary my dear, it has been a while, has it not?"
"The last time we met was when you told me you had sold my contract to James Moriarty – at a café in Saint-Germain-des-Prés if memory serves."
"Ah yes, dear James. Such a shame he lost his head over Sherlock Holmes…" Laughing heartily at his own joke Magnussen leaned forward and patted Mary's knee. "But I understand your time with him was… shall we say… enlightening? After all, did he not introduce you to the man you are to marry?"
"I see your sense of humour hasn't changed." Mary said quietly. "You always did find your amusement in the suffering of others."
"And yet here you are, back to your roots, so to speak." All trace of humour faded. "Now, what can I do for you?"
John stared at the cold, congealed mess of Indian food still sitting on the plate in front of him.
Both Sherlock and Mycroft had at least had the decency to leave him to his thoughts, and eventually Mycroft had returned to his home, or his office – John didn't really know or care. Sherlock slipped quietly back into the living room and lay down on the couch, eyes closed, fingertips pressed together under his chin, silent.
And John appreciated the silence, more so than ever he realised as he watched his life for the past year passing across his vision like a badly made film. Meeting Mary had seemed like a life saver, a gift he felt he wasn't worthy of yet he had grasped it with both hands – and yet…
Then Sherlock came back into his life. Sherlock, who had spent so long trying to persuade John of his sincerity and love. Sherlock who, once John had acknowledged the truth and strength of his own feelings had given him his heart without question.
John could still feel the cold shock of Sherlock's fall, his death and subsequent resurrection, and the conflict of knowing that their love was still there, as strong as ever, stronger than anything he thought he had felt for Mary.
"Mary" John said under his breath as he struggled to understand the news the Holmes brothers had delivered.
Sherlock lifted one eyelid a crack, seeing a shattered man as he quickly took in the pallor of his friend's face, the lines of sadness and the blank, almost dead look in his eyes. All this he saw, yet he didn't know how to solve this particular problem – the problem of making John Watson whole again.
In two separate buildings at opposite ends of London, two very different women sat poring over maps…
"I think we can safely assume that Miss Morstan boarded the tube at Caledonian Road, the CCTV there has been down for weeks." Anthea's well-manicured nail tapped against the dark blue line on the London Underground schematic. "With its usual flair for ineptitude Transport for London's closed circuit cameras are badly maintained or broken, so they neither offer the safety they were intended for nor assistance in tracking individuals."
"Have we any sightings at all?"
"One possible Sir, at Holborn underground." She tapped the map again. "A woman answering Miss Morstan's description was caught camera changing from the Piccadilly line to the Central line."
Mycroft's eyes roved over map.
"Contact TfL and ask for footage from both Bond Street and Swiss Cottage – if she has gone where I suspect she has gone, then she will travel to the latter via the former."
"I believe John's questioning her about her acquaintances has forced her hand – just as I hoped it would – and she has returned to her original handler." He picked up a manila folder and flipped it open, looking briefly at the grainy photographs of Mary Morstan and Charles Magnussen. "These unfortunately show that their association is long-standing."
"Has Dr Watson seen them?" Anthea's face was carefully neutral; despite their surface enmity she rather liked the army doctor.
"I don't believe it will be necessary to use these to persuade him of the truth about his fiancée."
And for that both Mycroft and Anthea were grateful…
Magnussen stood beside the table as Mary looked at the large-scale map of the City of Westminster and the London Borough of Camden. He watched as she chewed her lip, a habit she had when she was trying to absorb information.
"You see," he said pointing to an area towards the top of Regents Park. "Your fiancé, as I'm sure you know, has a habit of walking when he needs to think…"
"You always did know your 'subjects' well."
"That, my dear Mary, is why they have never been able to link me to anything other than my legitimate business ventures." Magnussen's smile was positively wolfish as he turned his attention back to the map. "Now, as I was saying, John likes to walk, and I happen to know that his meanderings often take him around the Outer Circle as far as the Zoo, and then he cuts up to Primrose Hill where he…thinks."
"John does a lot of thinking." Mary said dryly.
"It would seem he spent the evening thinking my dear, because shortly after you left home this morning he went back there –" here he turned and picked up a television remote and switched on a nearby screen, and as it flickered to life he continued "he didn't waste any time, simply packed a bag and made his way back to Baker Street, and no doubt back into Holmes' bed."
"Don't." With an angry snarl Mary launched at the businessman, only to be rebuffed, her wrists held captive, her clawed nails forced away from his face. With a savage twist Magnussen turned her to face the screen, to watch the CCTV image of John leaving their home with a suitcase.
"Face it Mary, you have lost him already. Once Mycroft Holmes involved himself, and you can be sure that Sherlock's older brother is behind all of this, it was only a matter of time before the good doctor's mind was poisoned against you."
Pushing her away Magnussen tapped a finger on the map.
"If you don't want him chasing you down and having you arrested you will have to take action. Take him out of the picture – that was your original task wasn't it? If Holmes lived then Watson must die?" Cold eyes focussed on her stunned face. "What? Did you think I was going to help you win him back? When I have a copy of your contract with Moriarty?"
"No!" The horror of her mistake was sinking in. "I want Sherlock out of the way – he's the one who has caused these problems! With him dead I can…"
"I'm afraid I can't let you kill him – that is a pleasure I want for myself, once I have him under my thumb…"
On his return from Islington John had taken his bag up to his old room and he was yet to return. Sherlock was not convinced that he was spending his time making the bed and putting his clothes away, but he couldn't bring himself to go up and offer help or comfort, in fact he was sure that if he did he would drive John away, so he lay on the couch waiting…
Up in his old bedroom John was trying, without much success, to get his head around everything he had learned both on the previous evening and subsequently at the house he had shared with Mary.
Curiosity had been his downfall, as sentimentality had been hers. John had always been aware of the locked memory box that Mary kept in the bottom of her wardrobe, hidden from sight by pairs of shoes and matching handbags, by various boxes of bits and pieces, and his curiosity led him to take the box from its hiding place and put lock picking skills he had learnt from Sherlock to good use.
Inside John found a selection of ticket stubs from theatre productions and film premiers that they had attended together – the latter thanks to a grateful director whose life John had saved when he had a heart attack on the tube – and photographs of the pair of them taken at the last Practice Christmas party by the senior partner's tipsy wife.
Under those he found the lock of his hair she had laughingly snipped off while he was waiting at the barber's to get his 'regulation' haircut. It was tied with a piece of string that she found in the bottom of her handbag. The memory had brought tears to his eyes, and he almost abandoned his search, had it not been for the photographs that lay, face down, under the grey-shot hair. With a little trepidation he took out the first and turned it over – and felt like he had been punched in the gut.
John found himself staring at a picture of himself standing sideways on beside a swimming pool, dressed in an oversized green parka jacket and looking up at something – or someone – out of shot.
The next photograph was more sickening still. He was standing in the road, his mobile pressed to his ear, his arm outstretched as if imploring someone (again out of shot) to do, or not do something. Through eyes blurry with unshed tears John recognised the background, was instantly transported back to the day he watched his lover fall from grace, and fall from the roof of Bart's.
Blinking the moisture away John Watson, Captain John Watson, brought his knowledge of firearms and covert ops to the forefront of his mind. These photographs were taken using a gun mounted camera, giving a clear high density 'shot' of whatever the shooter could see through the gun-sight. The camera was most likely military issue, because unlike the 'sporting' gun cameras this one could take photographs independently of the trigger.
Most heart-breaking of all was the knowledge that not only had he now found irrefutable proof (as if the video stills had not been enough) that Mary had been the one to direct a laser sighted sniper rifle at him at the pool, but she had watched as his heart had been ripped from him that day in West Smithfield, prepared to kill him if Sherlock hadn't jumped.
Soft tapping on his bedroom door brought John back to the present, and he looked down in surprise at the wet patched on the thighs of his jeans where his tears had flowed unnoticed and unchecked. Grabbing a tissue he quickly wiped his eyes and blew his nose before opening the door.
"I made you tea." Sherlock said simply, his eyes noting the John's weary, emotional state, and his brain reminding him that it would be a bit not good to mention it unless John did so first.
"I was planning on sending to Angelo's for takeaway, do you want some?"
John frowned and looked at his watch – had he really been siting, lost in his thoughts, for so long that he hadn't noticed that he had missed lunch and it was now almost dinner time?
"Um, yeah." He said quietly. "Yeah, get me anything that you think would be good."
"You love Angelo's food John; to you all of it is good."
Sherlock held his peace as the two men sat at the kitchen table to eat. John had declined crap telly, saying he really wasn't in the mood, and so the younger man, respecting his friend's request, served up the food and then sat silently eating.
It struck him as strange, how he didn't feel the need to take apart John's feelings and broadcast them; it seemed he had learnt a lot from both his time spent with the other man and the time he spent alone afterwards – this was a new and improved Sherlock, and he wasn't sure whether to be unhappy about it or pleased.
"She was on the roof."
John's voice startled Sherlock out of his reverie.
"At Bart's." Sherlock didn't try to dissemble. "I'm not surprised."
John's eyebrow rose sharply, prompting the other man to explain.
"She was the sniper at the pool John; that means she knew her target and was trusted by Moriarty. As you are the most important person in my life it makes sense…"
"Yeah, I know. That doesn't make the truth any harder to take."
Sherlock nodded and continued to eat in silence, mulling over some information he had received, wondering whether or not to share it. He had forgotten that John had long ago perfected the art of knowing when there was something on his mind.
"You might as well tell me." The blond doctor said quietly. "Knowing my pregnant fiancée was once employed to kill me is probably the worst news I could get, you couldn't make it worse by telling me whatever it is you're considering withholding."
"I received a text from Mycroft. When Mary left the flat this morning she went, by quite a circuitous route, to Swiss Cottage."
John stopped pushing his food around his plate and put his fork down, looking expectantly at his friend.
"One Charles Augustus Magnussen has his offices there, in a large house conversion. He owns the building, and stays there whenever he's in London."
Sherlock waited, but it seemed John had nothing more to add, so he continued
"It took a while to get access to the CCTV evidence; apparently the link to their control room was down…"
"Someone's head will roll for that." John smiled weakly.
"No doubt." Sherlock agreed. "As I was saying, the CCTV proved conclusively that she went to Magnussen – and she doesn't appear to have left the building since."
Pushing away his half eaten dinner John stood up, shrugging tiredly.
"I'm going to bed. Goodnight Sherlock."
The younger man watched as his friend wandered out of the kitchen.
"Goodnight John." He replied softly.
Mary didn't bother to question why Magnusson should have a stock of hair dyes of varying colours – the man, it seemed, was prepared for any eventuality. Choosing a shade of brown so dark that it was almost black she sat on the side of the bath in the guest suite and took the first steps to changing her appearance.
In a small back room, behind his main office, Charles Magnussen watched a bank of television screens. A flick of a switch brought the live feed back from the map room, and the final blank screen flickered before once again showing the street view at the front of Mary's Islington house.
"I imagine Mycroft Holmes would be livid if he knew that he wasn't the only person to have eyes on the whole of London."
Magnussen turned around, his eyes travelling over the slim, black clad figure.
"I see you found your old clothes. I knew it was a good idea to keep them for you."
"And of course, you have a reason for me to be 'dressed to kill'" Mary's joke was in poor taste, but neither party seemed to acknowledge it.
Instead Magnussen held out a set of car keys.
"You know where to wait. The choice is yours – up close and personal, or from a distance. We both know he will eventually go there, if not tonight, then tomorrow, the day after, and you will be ready for him."
"Are under the front passenger seat, as always."
Mary nodded and took the keys. There was nothing more to be said. Letting herself out of the back entrance of the building she moved quietly through the late evening streets to the small and unassuming black Ford Fiesta. The lights flashed twice as she unlocked it and she climbed in, her hand automatically going to the slim case stashed away, out of sight.
A quick check of the street showed Mary that there was no one in sight, and so she deftly undid the locks and opened the case. A sniper rifle, broken down to its bare components – lock, stock and barrel – along with a laser scope and scope-mounted camera took up most of the room. Beside it sat a handgun – plastic – lightweight yet deadly. Mary had favoured the Glock 18 since she had first learned to shoot, and as she looked at the gun she decided that this was her weapon of choice for this job.
The decision made, she started the engine and slipped the car into gear. As she drove past the front of the building she smiled – Mycroft really should train his people better. The one watching Magnussen's office stood out like a sore thumb.
Kicking back the duvet John sat up. Sleep was elusive, and as he glanced at the clock – 2.30am – he realised that he couldn't lay in bed any longer. Bone-weary his body may have been, but his mind was replaying the past two days as if stuck on a loop.
Pushing up from the bed he reached for his clothes, and once dressed he padded quietly downstairs. Peering into the living room he half expected Sherlock to be there, but all was silent and empty.
Relieved, John sat on the couch to put on his shoes and then, grabbing his coat he headed softly out of the flat and out onto the street.
Seconds later a silent figure dressed in black emerged from a side street, and keeping a reasonable distance between them followed the blond doctor as he headed for the Outer Circle of Regents Park.
It was fortunate for John that there was not a lot of traffic on the roads as he seemed to walk in a daze, barely conscious of the world around him, his mind on the woman he had thought he could love and trust.
He had always known his feelings for her paled in comparison to those he had – and still felt – for Sherlock, in the same way that he had known that having made the commitment to marry her, especially with the child she now bore, he would have hidden his heartbreak and done the honourable thing.
That thought alone brought a grim smile to his lips. Honourable? What was so honourable about a loveless marriage? What was honourable about breaking Sherlock's heart as well as his own? With a shake of his head he pushed that particular thought away, because now he knew there was no way he could marry Mary no matter what.
And all the while this was going through his mind, his shadow stayed behind him, out of plain sight but there nonetheless, watching his every move, dogging his every footstep.
John's route was a well-trodden route, he didn't have to think about where he was going, he was content to let his feet carry him along the road to Primrose hill, and there to climb the steep path to the vantage point at the top, where he could stare out at the multitude of streetlights patterning London, and try to empty his mind.
Unfortunately this caused his shadow something of a problem. Once on the path to the top of the hill John would be able to see that he was being followed, and so on light feet the figure in black hurried across to the shadow of the trees, from here it should be possible to stay relatively close without being seen.
John didn't know how long he had been sitting on the bench when a voice from behind him broke into his thoughts.
He leapt up and turned around.
"Mary?" Quickly he noted that she had dyed her hair, that she was dressed from head to toe in black, and he almost laughed out loud – she looked like one of the ninja's that he and Sherlock had pretended to be once, for a case, what seemed like a lifetime ago. He saw the dull glint of the gun in her hand and he nodded. "I assume you are here to finish the job you started back at the pool?"
"John, I'm sorry. I do love you, truly I do, but you have to understand that my safety, my anonymity has been compromised, and if I'm to survive…"
"Then I have to die." John's voice was flat, emotionless.
"I've never been a coward John, but I would ask one last thing from you."
John raised an eyebrow, waiting for her to continue.
"Would you turn around? Sit down as you were before, so that I don't have to see the condemnation in your eyes."
Mary was unsurprised.
"So be it then…"
"Mary Morstan!" Sherlock's voice called as he strode from the shelter of the trees. "I cannot allow you to do this."
Mary sneered. "You can't stop me you fool! Only now I'll take you both out, despite what Magnussen may want…" She glanced at Sherlock's expression. "Oh, didn't you know? He wants to control you and then to kill you. I would have settled for killing you and trying to win John back…"
"Never!" John interjected.
"Then do it – if you can." Sherlock sneered right back at her, his voice overriding anything else John might have said.
Mary drew a steadying breath and turned to aim the Glock at Sherlock's chest. There was a loud crack of gunfire, and with a startled expression Mary sank to the ground, a neat round hole in the middle of her forehead.
John stood silent and still, his Sig held steady in his right hand, still aimed at the figure on the floor even though he knew she was already dead. Without a word Sherlock crossed to the where Mary lay and picked up her gun.
There was no response as the ex-army doctor stared at the trickle of blood running across his fiancée's forehead, so Sherlock turned instead to his mobile.
"Where are you?" Mycroft's voice answered at the first ring.
"Primrose Hill. Mary's dead."
"No, John. Protect him Mycroft."
"Don't worry little brother, I will. My team will be with you within half an hour, do you think John will be alright staying with you?"
"I'll make sure he is." Sherlock responded quietly before cutting the call. He turned then back to John. "Are you alright."
"Of course I'm not bloody alright!" John exploded, as if suddenly coming to life to face this scene of horror. "I've just killed the woman who is carrying my child – how the fuck can I be alright?"
And as suddenly as it had come John's anger fled and he collapsed to his knees with a keening wail.
"I've just killed my own child." He sobbed as Sherlock knelt beside him and wrapped him in his arms. "What kind of monster am I?"
"Not a monster John, never a monster. You did what you did to save my life." He tightened his hold on his former lover. "She would have killed me without a second thought, and then…"
"And then she would have killed me." With shaking voice John completed Sherlock's sentence, adding "Better that than an innocent child."
There was no answer that Sherlock could give to that, he didn't even try, opting to just stay by John's side until Mycroft's clean-up team arrived to take the body away.
Unsurprisingly, an anonymous looking black car also pulled up outside the gates to the parkland and Anthea stepped out, holding the door open for Sherlock and John. Sherlock nodded his thanks which she acknowledged with a small smile before closing the door and climbing into the front passenger seat.
The journey home had been made in silence, and without fuss Sherlock led John up to the flat, staying at the bottom of the stairs as the blond doctor made his way up to his bedroom. Once he had heard the bedroom door close he walked into the living room and pulled out his phone.
"What next?" Sherlock didn't give his brother a chance to speak before asking his question.
"There will be a post-mortem, performed by a trusted Pathologist."
"Yes, I had thought Dr Hooper would be the best person to do this – after all, you made her an integral part of this when you asked her to help cover up your fake suicide."
"What about Lestrade?"
"What about him?"
Sherlock sighed. "He is a friend of Johns; he will need to know about Mary."
"I will ensure he is made aware."
"Really brother?" Mycroft sounded more smug than sarcastic. "I hardly dared hope…"
"Then don't. Goodnight Mycroft."
Putting his phone away Sherlock removed his coat, retrieving John's gun from the pocket before flinging it over the back of a chair, then he flopped onto the couch, the gun still in his hand. It wasn't that he thought John might try to blow his own brains out – at least that's what he told himself – he was more concerned that Mycroft, or even Lestrade, might have wanted to take it as evidence, and he knew that John would prefer not to be separated from his last tangible link to his past. And if he were to hide it away for a while, then at least John had a chance to think things through, to realise that life has to go on.
He was still lying on the couch some hours later when John's voice broke into his thoughts.
"That's still loaded Sherlock, and the safety's off – be careful."
"Always." Grey/blue eyes stared up at the tousled blond hair. "Did you manage to get some sleep?"
"A little." John replied. "More than you I'd guess."
The silence hung for a moment, and then
"What happens now? I assume Mycroft is cleaning up this whole mess?"
"He'll keep us informed; make sure the necessary paperwork is done. There'll be no comeback on you." Sherlock wasn't too sure why he had omitted the information about the post-mortem.
"I should be charged."
"Don't be an idiot John, it was clearly self-defence."
"Then why aren't we trusting the British justice system to see that?" John knew he should feel angry at Sherlock's words, angry that once more Mycroft Holmes was interfering in his life, but he just felt numb.
"Are you making?"
"Like I said John, don't be an idiot."
"I thought you hated to repeat yourself." Turning towards the kitchen John went through the motion, filling the kettle, pulling out mugs and tea bags, amazingly there was a fresh bottle of milk in the fridge. From behind him he could hear the creak of furniture as Sherlock got up to follow him.
"I need to get the rest of my stuff…"
"Not right now." Sherlock sat down at the table, watching John move around the kitchen. "I won't suggest you leave it to Mycroft, or Anthea, but I will suggest you take a few days to…"
"To what, Sherlock? To get over it? Is that what you think happens next, that I just carry on as if nothing happened? Because I can tell you now…"
Sherlock leapt to his feet and banged his fist on the table. "Stop it John!" he yelled over his friend's ranting. "Just stop. No I don't expect you to just carry on – I don't expect anything at all from you, except that you might let me help, in any way that I can."
John turned his back and closed his eyes, his head bowed.
"I'm sorry Sherlock, it's just all too…too…"
"Too fresh, too soon, I know." Walking around the table Sherlock put his hands on John's shoulders. "Just don't push me away, please."
Nodding John turned and rested his forehead against Sherlock's chest, feeling the other man's arms enfold him, his lips placing a soft, comforting kiss on the top of his head and strangely, John felt at peace.
The sound of voices talking low in the kitchen woke John. A quick glance at the window showed that it was late afternoon, and although he didn't remember lying down on the couch his back was grateful he hadn't fallen asleep in his chair.
Making enough noise to warn the other occupants of the flat that he was awake he stood up and stretched.
"Tea?" Sherlock called from the kitchen.
"You making this time?"
"He is." Mycroft walked into the living room, his eyes taking in everything about the man in front of him. "How are you feeling?"
Mycroft frowned. John nodded towards the manila folder tucked under older man's arm.
"Case notes?" he asked.
"In a manner of speaking. Do sit down John."
Sherlock joined them, three mugs of tea in his hands. He handed on to john, using his newly free hand to gently guide him into an armchair before handing a second mug to Mycroft and settling into his own chair.
"So?" The blond doctor looked at the brothers, waiting.
"So Mary officially died in a car accident. I thought that would be easier for you to deal with when you go back to the surgery." Sitting on the couch, Mycroft laid the folder across his knees. "For appearance sake, and to keep the paperwork as official as possible we had Dr Hooper perform a post-mortem."
"Put your tea down John." Sherlock said quietly, his eyes concerned.
"What – why?"
Sherlock reached across and retrieved the mug from John's lax fingers, then nodded to his brother.
"John," Mycroft waited until John had turned to look at him. "Mary wasn't pregnant."
"Not…" His forehead wrinkled in confusion John looked from one brother to the other.
"We'll never know for sure how she faked the test, although it seems likely that she took another expectant mum's urine sample and passed it off as her own."
"I don't understand, why would she do that?"
"I think she was just trying to hold onto you." Sherlock explained. "Maybe she thought that once you were married…"
"I'm a doctor, Sherlock. Eventually I would have noticed her lack of…of…"
"Whatever her thoughts, we'll never know now." Ever the voice of reason Mycroft interrupted before John could lose control of his emotions and turned the subject away from babies. "We also took fingerprints and had them checked against an international database."
Pinching the bridge of his nose John sighed.
"John, she wasn't Mary Morstan, she was Sebastienne Marella Moran. Her father was known to you I believe – Colonel Sebastian Moran. Her mother was Marella Mariton, a leading light of the GIA, they are..."
"Algerian insurgents, yes Mycroft, I'm well aware of who they are."
"Oh course John. Anyway, that would explain her choice of name…"
"And her abilities as a sniper." Sherlock added.
John nodded in agreement, a faraway look in his eyes.
"I never really knew her, did I?"
"No Sherlock, not now. Now I just need to be on my own."
The Holmes brothers watched as he left the room,
The funeral was held a week later. The practice was closed for the morning as Mary's friends and colleagues turned out to pay their respects and to support John and the senior partner authorised two weeks compassionate leave for the grieving doctor.
Two days later Sherlock and Greg helped John remove his belongings from the house in Islington, while Anthea removed and disposed of anything belonging to Mary.
John had quietly agreed that yes, Anthea could go through everything (including that damned memory box) in case there was anything Mycroft could use to strengthen his case against Magnussen, and then he simply went back to packing his things.
Greg had been a rock, offering to put John up at his flat if Baker Street was too much to deal with at the moment, and when his offer was refused he shrugged and said he'd be there for John, anytime, if he needed to talk, or just wanted a drinking buddy, and that he was not to be put off by the time of day or night.
And then suddenly it was all over. John was back in his old room in Baker Street, Greg was back at Scotland Yard, and the only people still discussing Sebastienne Marella Moran were the security services.
It took five days.
Sherlock had counted them. He had also counted the amount of times John left his bedroom in the middle of the night to walk down the stairs, stop briefly outside his room, and then return to the upstairs bedroom. It happened two or three times a night. And every time it happened he hoped, fervently, that John would knock on his door and let him help, but every time it was the same – footsteps, a pause, and then a retreat.
The footsteps paused for the second time, and then there was a light tapping on his door.
"Sherlock?" John's voice was soft, only just loud enough to be heard. "Can I…"
Sherlock opened the door. "What do you need?"
"I… I don't know." John frowned. Can I come in?"
Silently Sherlock stepped back, gesturing for John to enter.
On silent feet John crossed to what used to be 'his' side of the bed and stood looking down at the rumpled sheets. He frowned.
"You still keep to your side of the bed."
"I'm still hoping you will take your side again."
"I don't know if I can."
A small smile crept onto Sherlock's face. "You'll never know if you don't try." He walked round and climbed back into bed, flipping the cover's down on John's side. "Get in," he encouraged softly. "If only for the company."
For a long moment John stood looking down at him, and then with a small nod he climbed into the bed, stretching out on his back and staring at the ceiling.
"Do you want to talk?"
John shook his head. "Not about Mary." He clarified.
"About anything else?"
Sherlock waited. He knew John would open up eventually, and fortunately he didn't have to wait long.
"I meant it you know, in that bloody tube car." Drawing in a deep breath, John let it out slowly. "I never stopped loving you."
Rolling on to his side John looked Sherlock in the eye.
"Am I wrong to want you now, so soon after…"
"Does it feel wrong?"
John shook his head. "Being with Mary never felt right, but I was content to settle for second best." He admitted. "I always wondered if I was being unfair to her."
"I think, in her own warped, twisted way, she cared for me, but she cared more for her life and freedom and her…" John's face screwed up. "…her bloody ideals, righteous killing or whatever – that meant more to her. When faced with having to kill me she was willing to do it to save her own skin."
"And you saved my life."
A small huff, not quite a laugh, emanated from John's lips.
"And I said I didn't want to talk about her – and I don't, I really don't." Reaching out his hand he stroked Sherlock's face. "I want – need – to talk about us. Where do we go from here?"
"Where do you want to go?"
"Will you stop answering my questions with questions you bloody git? It's not helpful!"
"Then let me tell you what I want and let's see if we both want the same thing hmm? I want to go back to what we had before… before my faked suicide, I want to hold you the way I used to hold you, I want the ghost of Mary Morstan never to get between us again. I want you!"
"Well thank fuck for that!" Reaching out John pulled the younger man into his arms. "I've missed you, missed this, so very much!"
Silencing him with his lips Sherlock moved closer, his arms sliding around John's waist, his hands slipping down to push at the waistband of John's pyjama bottoms. John's hips jerked against him and he pulled them closer, wantonly rolling against him.
"Jesus Sherlock, you wouldn't believe how many times I dreamed this would happen, how many nights while you were… were away, that I reached out for you only to find empty space."
"I'm here now John, and I'll be damned if I'll let you go!"
Any more conversation was swallowed as their mouths met and their bodies ground together, frantic hands scrabbled at clothing as the urge to press flesh against naked flesh became almost unbearable.
Sliding a hand between their bodies Sherlock took both their heated, swollen cocks in his hand and picked up a bruising pace; chasing their mutual orgasms to completion with the same single-mindedness that he applied to everything he loved. And John was like putty in his hands; head flung back, eyes closed, his body moving to Sherlock's command until with a cry he spilled his seed into Sherlock's hand followed closely by the man himself.
In the aftermath John wiped them both clean with his t-shirt and then curled into Sherlock's body, his head resting on the younger man's chest, listening to his heartbeat as it gradually returned to normal.
"Is it all over now?" He asked, not moving from his comfortable spot in Sherlock's arms.
"Over?" Sherlock mused. "No John, this is just the beginning."
A/N: Thank to all of you who have stuck with this story - I'm sorry it took so long to complete.
I would say I'll stop starting random multi-chapter fics when I already have several on the go...but I'd be lying, and I wouldn't do that to you :D