Don't own Sherlock BBC yadda, yadda... there are also some references to the James Bond franchise and I don't own that either. Finally I don't own the song that inspired this fic either.
Yet again my infinite thanks to Ariane DeVere for her amazing transcripts.
I'm not British, have no Beta, and I'm sure you all know what that means by now.
Finally, for this piece the song is Regresa a Mi, the Spanish cover of Unbreak my Heart, as sung by Il Divo. As for why these details are important, well, the lyrics in spanish, when translated back into English, literally, don't say the exact same thing as the original song. The changes aren't too considerable, but still there. Also, the title itself fits so much with what I had in mind when I thought of this story, I had to do it this way.
This is a reworking of my other Reichenbach fix-it Johnlock fic: Unbreak my Heart. Those who have read that fic know John made a lot of plans in case Sherlock ever needed him during his two years away, only to never have to put them in practice... I asked myself what would have happened if he'd needed them. And this came to mind. It was supposed to be a one-Shot, but then it kept getting longer and longer... also, I'd promised a post today, but I'm not done with the fic itself, so i decided to split it in two parts, the next one will be up in two weeks (because next week I'm updating Ties that Bind, my Avengers/Sherlock crossover... Also, in case anyone's interested, it's still my headcannon that John once worked for MI6 and was a 00 candidate... the backstory and flashbacks concerning that storyline which appeared on John's Vow are all valid for this too.
So, that's it for now, please enjoy!
Come Back to Me
By: Lalaith Quetzalli
Sherlock Holmes found his heart before he lost it, John Watson stopped looking for normal and saw the value in what he already had, through the struggles and the pain, they were each other's one and only and they knew it. And then it came, the final test, the one that would make them or break them, forever…
Regresa a mi (Come back to me)
Quiereme otra vez (Love me again)
Borra el dolor (Erase the pain)
Que al irte me dio (That came when you left)
Cuando te separaste de mi (When you left my side)
Dime que si (Tell me yes)
Yo no quiero llorar (I don't wanna cry)
Regresa a mi (Come back to me)
- Il Divo, "Regresa a Mí (Come Back to Me)"
- Spanish Cover of "Unbreak my Heart"
In one world Sherlock Holmes steps off the rooftop of St. Barts, John Watson screams from the ground, unable to do anything to save his flatmate/best friend/partner. The doctor searches for a pulse the consulting detective no longer seems to have, there are tears and denial and grief. A funeral and guilt, pleadings to a tombstone for a miracle, and a sense of not being able to breathe. In the end there is surrender, the moment when one man gives up and simply walks away.
And in that world, even when years later the death is pronounced nothing more than a magic trick and laughed as such, it's already too late. The doctor has moved on, and hard as the consulting detective might try, their chance is long since passed, lost. They will never be able to truly meet in the middle again; will never be all they could have been... together.
In another world Sherlock Holmes finds his heart before the end, he finds his heart (his love), his courage and decides to take a chance; and it's those actions that shall change everything else in the end.
"Keep your eyes fixed on me." The voice on the other end of the line, high above him, was becoming frantic. "Please, will you do this for me?"
"Do what?" His mouth was going dry with tension.
"This phone call, it's... it's my note." The other stated with some hesitation. "It's what people do, don't they? Leave a note?"
"Leave a note when?" He shook his head, sharp with denial, though deep down he knew the reality of what was going on already.
The phone stopped mattering then. The two stared at each other intensely, both wishing in some deep corner of their minds and souls that there was some way they could eliminate the distance between them, of a street and several floors, even as they knew it simply wasn't possible. It was too late to change what had already been set in motion.
Then a mobile was thrown carelessly aside, no longer important, arms splayed wide open, and a body was falling...
John Watson woke up screaming the name of his flatmate/best friend/partner, like he had so many times since his fall; he refused to see it as him having jumped, having killed himself with no regard for his own life, or John's... because Sherlock was a genius, which means he must have known what his death would do to John, right? Or maybe he was so bad at feelings he hadn't seen it... or perhaps it was just that he did not care enough...
John let out a breath, it hurt too much to even contemplate the possibilities, unable to reassure himself of either option, whether it might be to be able to hate the dead man or finish mourn him properly... but no, it wasn't like that either, because deep down the doctor knew he could never truly hate the consulting detective, even if he'd really chosen to disregard John's feelings, his friendship, his... love, so completely. And regardless of how much time passed, it was unlikely the former army-captain would ever fully stop grieving him.
When John got out of the bed that morning he'd made up his mind. That was the last day. The last day he'd lose himself in his pain, his grief; the last day he'd remain detached from the world. Mrs. Hudson, Sarah and everyone else had remained so understanding ever since Sherlock's... since he was gone, but things couldn't stay like that forever. Eventually John had to move on. The world didn't stop turning just because Sherlock Holmes was dead... though a part of John couldn't help but feel it should.
It took no time at all for the doctor to pack his bags. Aside from a suitcase of clothes and a smaller bag with toiletries, a few books and scientific journals and other basic necessities (and his gun) he didn't have that much. Many years before he'd grown used to living with few things, and it was something he'd never grown out of. Especially when the flat had already been furnished and Sherlock had filled it with all his things. And even though a part of John couldn't help but feel attachment to a good few of them, he couldn't even contemplate taking the out of the flat. It would be like destroying the only home he knew.
While packing was relatively easy and took no time at all, John devoted the rest of the day to slowly saying his goodbyes. To the place, the objects, the memories, his home... the last object he laid eyes on was the skull above the fireplace, it brought back to him the memory of the first time he'd set foot in the flat:
"That's a skull." Was what he'd said.
"Friend of mine." Sherlock had replied nonchalantly, before revising. "When I say friend..."
And that brought yet another memory, over a year after that:
"Listen, what I said before, John. I meant it. I don't have friends. I've just got one."
It made him feel so special, to have Sherlock acknowledge him as a friend, as his only friend... John wished it'd been enough.
He was about to turn his back on the skull, on everything, when a corner of his mind noticed something odd: a rolled up paper which had been slipped inside the skull through one of the eyes. John didn't know why it caught his attention so completely, but he just couldn't remember a time where there had been anything inside that skull. Nothing at all.
Driven by a mix of curiosity and something else the doctor couldn't name (not hope, he could never call it that, wouldn't dare), John slipped a hand inside and pulled it out. When he unrolled the paper and first laid eyes on the contents, he could have sworn, loudly; yet in the end the shock was so great all he could do was drop to his knees in absolute shock, the sheet of paper held so tightly in his hands he almost tore it in two without realizing.
It wasn't just any piece of paper, it was a letter, written with black fountain pen in an elegant, almost aristocratic calligraphy John knew painfully well: it was Sherlock's handwriting. And if finding that out wasn't shocking enough, the contents certainly were:
I'm sorry. If you read, if you believe nothing else I've ever written, ever told you, believe this. I'm sorry. As I write this letter nothing has happened yet, but I know what's coming. I know Moriarty, I know his plans. He told me he owed me a fall, and something tells me that falling from grace in the eyes of the press and the public won't be enough for him. No, he's aiming higher and if things go as I expect them to, then I won't be there to explain things to you once all is said and done.
The short of it is, if all went well, then I'm not dead. Surprise? I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you will want (if you'll even read this at all), but I have hope. You're not an idiot John, if anyone can find this letter it's you. So, there's a plan, there has always been a plan, and if it all went as expected then I'm not dead.
Why didn't I tell you there was a plan? Why didn't I bring you in on it? Under normal circumstances I would expect you to be intelligent enough to be able to see the obvious, but I don't know how much my 'fall' might have affected you (for some reason I don't really like thinking about it, either).
Moriarty is insane John, you know that as well as I do. The original plan was to take him down and be done with it. But I now know it won't be that easy. We have contingencies, of course, and if you've found this letter, that means one was needed; one that included the need of me faking my death. Again, why didn't I tell you? Because there are too many eyes and too many ears, people who need to believe I am dead for everything to work out the way it's supposed to. And they're all on you.
You're my witness and my proof John. As long as act like I'm dead, they'll believe it; and as long as I'm dead you're safe, we both are. It's why I couldn't tell you. Your reaction had to be authentic, had to be enough to leave no doubts about what had happened.
I should have just left things like that. If Mycroft ever finds out I wrote this letter he will not like it. He doesn't believe you can keep up the act... but I do. I trust you John, with both my life and your own. I believe you can know the truth and still convince those who might be watching that I'm dead.
So that's why I faked my death, as for why I'm staying dead. I'm sure that one must be easy enough for you to understand. Moriarty isn't working alone, he never has been one to work alone... but this time a well-timed call won't be enough to steer him away from us. This time he needs to be taken down, as do all who might be working with him, who might be a threat, to you and to me. I must stay dead until it's done.
I wish you could come with me. I truly do. But you must understand John, if you were to come, if you were to disappear, those watching you would have reason to be suspicious; and then their attention might turn onto others. Others would be in danger, like Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, possibly even your sister... I... we cannot allow that. I hope you understand. You're a soldier after all. You know about duty. Well, this is mine.
I will come back, I cannot tell you when, I do not know myself, I cannot even give you any guarantees. But I do believe I will find my way back I hope you'll wait for me(several words were crossed over, but could still be read with some effort) to see you again when that day comes.
You're my only friend John, never forget that.
John spent what seemed like a very long time kneeling on the carpet, before the fireplace, holding Sherlock's letter tightly, trying to wrap his mind around it. Though, after having read the words, the explanation, it all seemed so obvious, like there was no other way things could have been.
And so, at the end of the day, John took a deep breath, picked up his bags and left 221B Baker Street, looking to all like a man moving out, trying to move on...
John couldn't help but look surreptitiously around before pushing the key into the lock, and going into his flat. It was a small, one-room place, in a low-income neighborhood, with a very small sitting room and a kitchenette with a counter that doubled as table. It was barely bigger than the bedsit where he'd lived right after his return from Afghanistan, and nothing when compared to 221B Baker Street; but it was what he'd in that moment. And it wasn't even about what he was able to afford; while most people did not know it, John Watson had considerably more money than most would expect. There was the percentage Sherlock had insisted he get from their private clients, claiming his help had been highly valuable in each occasion; then there was the percentage Amanda Paulet had insisted on giving both him and Sherlock, from the auction of the jade hairpin (which had appeared small, but ended being quite considerable); and finally there was the money Sherlock had left him in his 'will'.
Granted, John knew his friend wasn't dead, but no one else did. Except Mycroft, obviously, Molly, because John wasn't an idiot, if she'd signed on the death certificate she must have been in on the plan (which, incidentally, would also explain the pained looks she directed her way whenever she happened to see him), and possible some of his Homeless Network (the other witnesses that day, those who'd kept him from checking the 'body' too thoroughly, from asking the wrong kind of questions). In any case, publicly Sherlock had died, which meant his will was read… he'd left everything to John.
The whole thing came as such a surprise that John didn't even need to act, the rant that came from his mouth after the news were delivered to him was absolutely honest. He also made a point to go sign all the papers, before leaving the bank, stating no one needed to wait for him because he'd no plans on returning, what point was there for money when he'd lost the man, his best friend? He'd never cared about money, he never would, no amount of it would ever be enough to fix what had been broken that day…
No, no amount of money would ever un-break his heart… but Sherlock's return would, so John kept waiting for that. He was very meticulous about keeping up the act of 'grieving friend'; more than one person had tried to convince him it was enough, that he should move on, had pointed out that what he was doing was no longer a sign of a friend mourning another, but a widow grieving the loss of their partner… not for the first time, John wondered how blind he'd been. Sherlock Holmes had become such a intrinsic part of his life in so short a time, so absolutely necessary, more than water food, almost like the very air he breathed… and John hadn't seen it. Even with all the people that kept teasing him about it, even when Mycroft had questioned him about a man with his trust issues, trusting Sherlock Holmes after only meeting him twice, even when the Woman herself had pointed out the way the two of them acted… It'd taken seeing Sherlock standing on that rooftop, hearing him talking about goodbyes, being forced to face the prospect of life without him, to make John sit and take notice of what was going on. It was like his heart had already made its choice, it just hadn't notified his mind of that fact.
Finding that letter, on that very day, his last in 221B Baker Street… it had been a balm to John's broken heart, to his torn and bleeding soul. Not enough to put him back together, not by a long shot, but at least enough to allow him to carry on until the moment came when they could be together again.
John had begun planning before he even left Baker Street. He knew Sherlock had gone on a hunt of Moriarty's old allies, anyone who might represent a danger to the consulting detective and the precious few he cared for (and anyone who still believed him to be a sociopath obviously did not know him, at all). John had put out some feelers, trying to see what others knew about it all. He still had friends in MI6, even in the highest ranks, even though it'd been more than half a decade since his service as an agent (and that was one thing no Holmes knew about him). It'd taken a while, enough that he'd begun fearing that either his sources had all dried up or, on the other (riskier) hand, his message might have somehow reached the wrong kind of people. Then someone had appeared on his flat:
"You know what my first thought was, when your coded message reached me?" A low, cultured voice asked from the shadows. "I thought, someone must have killed Watson, either that or he's being coerced, tortured, or worse… because there's just no way he just asked about a Class A, Priority 1, mission on an open channel. He's just not that stupid! Then I remembered Istanbul, the pretty redhead… you were completely on the pull for that redhead, bloody slapper that one. Though you're pretty barmy yourself, I mean, the bitch tries to put two bullets in your head and you were still all slap and tickles…"
"You must have definitely been absolutely legless by that point if you think that's what I was trying to do right then." John snapped before he could stop himself. "She had the bloody trigger on her, and you know M would have had both of our hides if the Russians had blown the Greek Ambassador's car as they were planning."
A breath, two, and suddenly John's eyes widened as he realized who it was he was talking to.
"James!" He called brightly, then practically bit his tongue. "Is this a social call, or is one of us absolutely snookered?"
"Neither of us is in trouble." The one called James stated, then paused, as if to consider that. "I can't believe I just said that, and meant it!"
"Yeah, neither can I." John snorted. "When are you not in trouble with M? Or Alec? Or Q? Or Moneypenny? Or…?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah… I get the point, lay off me!" Even with those words, there was no bite to them, showing James wasn't really angry.
"So, what brings you here to my humble abode, then?" The doctor asked, sarcasm only masking the steel behind his words, even as his whole body tensed in preparation for whatever might be coming next.
"This place truly looks like a hovel, you know?" James drawled. "I much preferred your old one, pretty little flat in central London…"
James didn't say more, but he didn't need to, John understood perfectly what wasn't being said there. James knew exactly where John had been living for the past year and a half or so (a little more than that actually), which meant he most likely knew about Sherlock too… The soldier –turned intelligence agent – turned soldier again – turned doctor (and sidekick to a self-proclaimed consulting detective) didn't say a word, just waited for the other shoe to drop.
"Here." The word was followed by the sound of a bunch of papers hitting the counter.
John hadn't been expecting that, which made him tense even more, something that only worsened once he saw what exactly was in those papers. They were files, on criminals all across Europe, and even some in Asia… and every single one had the same note scribbled on the corners, the suspicion of them belonging to the same crime syndicate… Moriarty's.
"Those are just copies of the originals, of course." James stated with a shrug. "But I imagine they will be enough. There are some on the preparations they made before your detective went on his crazy-ass mission."
John didn't try to correct him, didn't see the point, if James, who'd known him to flirt with any and every pretty female they met in every single country they were sent to for a mission (there was a reason he was called 3 Continents Watson… though it hardly ever went past flirting, if he was completely honest) could see the connection there, well, what was the point? Also, John had promised himself to stop lying about it. Even if there wasn't anything really between them (yet), he was done lying about his own feelings.
"I very much doubt M approved of you getting this information out of HQ." John commented, trying to hide how much James doing that meant to him.
"M doesn't need to know about it." James shrugged carelessly, before growing abruptly serious. "I'm not the kind of man to forget a debt owed, especially involving my life…" He shook his head briefly. "Whenever you need me, I'll be there."
John didn't know what to say. He knew how thankful James was, of course he knew, and to think John had saved his life after he'd left the agency… It truly had been absolute accident that John (back in the army after his five year stint with MI6) had been in that country, and especially on a free day when James fell off that train with a bullet on his shoulder. In any case, it didn't matter how many times John told him there was no debt, James just wouldn't let it go. And the doctor couldn't help but feel so very thankful for a friend like James… something told him he would be needing to cash on that favor before the end.
John didn't actually see James again for a while after that, though every several weeks he would arrive in the evening to the flat to find manila envelopes carefully placed on the counter; nothing was ever written on the outside, but John always knew who they were from, even before actually seeing the papers inside. It was how he learnt how things were progressing with Sherlock's mission. It probably wasn't the best, seeing how he was in London and not Italy (or France, or Spain, or the States, or wherever else Sherlock happened to have to travel for a mission), but at least it was a way for the former-captain to feel close to his friend, for him to know the consulting detective was still alive…
Six months after the 'Fall', John was growing particularly restless. He'd been waiting for a new file for five days, and nothing yet. He wanted to believe that it was because nothing interesting had happened yet (maybe Sherlock was taking a break?) but, sadly, he knew all too well how things were when it came to missions like the one Sherlock had assigned to himself. No reports tended to mean more bad news than good ones… Still, John was trying very hard not to focus on that, trying to keep himself thinking positive. He knew some of it was coming through, Mrs. Hudson had acted particularly motherly on his last visit to her flat; and just the day before Sarah had asked him if he was truly alright…
It was later than usual when he got back to his flat, as he'd gone to a pub in an attempt to distract himself (not that it'd done much good). He was still sober enough to notice his lock had been picked, and with very specific tools that instantly gave away just who'd done it…
"Bill?" John asked softly as he stepped into the flat, all senses on high alert in case someone else had broken in. "Is everything alright?"
"Brought you a patient doc." The one called Bill answered in his thick brogue.
Bill Wiggins was in fact one of many people living on the streets whom John had gotten to know in the last few years; part of Sherlock's old Homeless Network. Opposite to what most might expect, the Network hadn't disappeared when the consulting detective had. They'd been the ones behind the 'I Believe in Sherlock Holmes' campaign.
It had all started with John writing said phrase as the closing on his last post (it was actually a hiatus, but as Sherlock was believed to be dead, the blog was believed to have ended). John had written that phrase. The next morning those same words had been painted in black graffiti on a wall in the alley closest to 221B… and that was just the beginning. Since then those same words (or the initials IBiSH, when the space was too small to allow for the full phrase to be painted) had appeared all over London, in every color of the rainbow). John knew the Network were at least partly responsible.
Then came the day when Jeany approached him after his shift in the clinic ended. A woman she knew was sick and needed help, and no doctor was willing to help them for being homeless… John knew Jeany, she'd been the one to help him and Sherlock when they were tracking down the Golem; and the doctor knew she'd helped Sherlock before that too. It took no time for him to make up his mind, soon John made sure he'd a well supplied first-aid kit, and he followed Jeany under a bridge, where the sick woman was.
That was just the beginning. John realized that particular woman probably wasn't the only one in need of medical attention, and who either couldn't or wouldn't get help from formal doctors. So he'd made his offer, he was willing to treat any and all homeless, whenever. His door would always be open for them too. His offer also gave him unexpected rewards: like the time when a kid, high-as-a-kite, had tried to mug him; only to be stopped by an older man John had treated for a dislocated wrist once. No one ever tried to mug him again after that. And it wasn't only that either, some of the homeless began approaching him, not looking for his help, but offering tidbits of information. Sometimes about a current case (and John always made sure to send anonymous tips so NSY might do something about it… he'd a feeling Lestrade knew it was him, but not how John was getting the information exactly); however, must of the time the information concerned one of two things: Moriarty or Sherlock. That information John did not share, instead he was putting it all together carefully, preparing a case so when the right time came, Sherlock would be vindicated… and the time would come, John would make sure of that.
In any case, in the last few months John had treated a number of homeless, most of the time on the streets (or under bridges, in parks, etc.), but a few times in his flat. Only two people took people there and knew how to get inside: Jeany and Bill.
When John saw the so-called patient Bill had just placed on the pull-out bed where he treated the few patients who actually went to him there (on in a kitchen chair, it depended on how badly they were hurt) he stopped breathing, he could have almost sworn his heart skipped a beat or two as well. The shock was so great that for all of two seconds he had no idea what to do. Then he smacked himself mentally, reminding his conscious mind how important it was to keep the charade. He trusted Bill to a point, but there were a few things he trusted to one but himself with, and Sherlock's life was at the top of that list. And he might have been covered in dirt and grime, the clothes he wore old and half-tattered, his hair a shaggy bleached blonde and his eyes gray… but John knew, deep inside his soul, that the man before him was Sherlock Holmes.
"Lets see what we've got here." He announced, perfectly even, as he approached the plastic-covered bed (the covers would be taken later on, if the patient decided to stay for a wash, some dinner and sleep; some did, but not all, and not every time).
The injuries were serious. A couple broken ribs, a badly treated slash to the side of the neck, a bruised collarbone, but the worst of all was the poorly treated stab to the top of his left pectoral… the knife had barely missed all vital organs and arteries on that one. John didn't know what he wanted to do more: scream or cry, in the end he could do neither, so instead he channeled all that energy into treating his patient to the best of his abilities. Thankfully he'd everything he needed right then, in a couple of first-aid kits, including some things that were only used by medics tending to soldiers on the front (he'd cashed in a few favors some old army friends owed him to get most of those).
Bill left after the worst injuries had been treated. Insisting that 'Siggy' stay the night, let the 'doc' look after him for a little while. John dutifully offered his shower, a change of clothes, food, and the bed for the night. Surprisingly 'Siggy' agreed.
A number of people knew what John did, helping the Homeless. A few boxes had arrived, with basic necessities (like bandages, sterile wipes, clinical-grade alcohol and the like), there had been also a couple with clothes, old, the kind that had probably been in a lost&found deposit for a long time, or maybe sent to good will. Those were the clothes John offered the homeless whenever they happened to drop by his place. There were also restaurants who insisted on lowering their prices for him, or they just didn't charge him for delivering the food to the flat (though those were mostly because of what Sherlock had done for them at one point, and John's own connection to the consulting detective). A few also knew that whenever he asked for extra it was most likely because he was helping someone, they knew him that well.
John called for curry that night, he hardly every ordered it anymore, too many memories related to Sherlock, which he couldn't always handle. And yet, in that moment he was feeling the man's presence in the flat so keenly, and unable to do or say a thing about it… the curry was his private way of celebrating. He was sure Sherlock would be able to deduce it too.
The rest of the evening went well enough, 'Siggy' accepted a full change of clothes, and half a portion of curry, as well as some soda (a part of John wanted wine, but he knew purchasing such a luxury would call the wrong kind of attention upon himself, so he didn't). The doctor really wanted to say something, especially when, upon leaving the bathroom, he could see that his patient's eyes were no longer gray, but the dazzling mix of blue-green-honey he had always been drawn by (even before he realized what he felt for the younger man). It was obvious Sherlock had taken his contacts off… still, John silently swore to himself not to say a word unless the other man did, he wouldn't do anything that might put him at risk.
'Siggy' said nothing that evening, and neither did John, they ate dinner in an almost charged silence before going for their respective beds. John carefully placing the remaining curry, chicken and rice on a sealed container, before telling 'Siggy' he was free to take it with him the next day. And he was always welcome in the flat…
The next morning John woke up to find the pull-out bed once again folded into the couch, sheets folded on top. The curry was gone. However, the most important part was the piece of paper (torn from one of John's own notepads) that had been left on John's pillow, two solitary words written in a calligraphy the former soldier knew by heart: 'Thank you'. John picked it up, held it once against his own body, as if somehow able to feel the touch of the hand that had written those very letters… before carefully placing it inside a small metal box, along with the letter Sherlock had left him in the skull, and placing that deep inside a knapsack filled with his old army stuff (where no one would ever find it).
That was the first but, thankfully (and also, to a point, regretfully) not the last time John saw Sherlock during the time the hunt of Moriarty's web lasted. After the first time he didn't need anyone to show him to the flat, or even inside. Every time it was the same, John would arrive to the flat to find the injured younger man sitting on the couch, over some plastics, treat whatever awful wound he'd recently acquired; then he was left to shower while John called for some take-out (after the first time he made sure to vary places and dishes, so as not to create any sort of pattern), then the two would go to sleep. Sherlock was always gone before John woke (at least he took the leftovers with him… it was the one thing that helped John).
The files from James kept coming. The one late actually arrived a couple of days after Sherlock's first visit. It'd explained how the 'asset' (because, of course, the consulting detective's name would never appear in any file) had unexpectedly gotten into a scuffle against some old gangster-kind of man in Prague when the appointed MI6 assassin had failed his shot. The man was dead, but the 'asset' had gone missing before anyone from the team could assure his continued wellbeing; at least until resurfacing in Amsterdam earlier that very day. No one knew where he'd been in the interim…
Even James hadn't suspected the truth, for which John was infinitely grateful. The man had been clever enough to deduce who the asset truly was, and that his former partner knew both about that and the elaborate-mission taking place all across Europe. Still, he hadn't been able to make out there was more to John's knowledge and involvement, even at that point (or maybe he did know and was pretending ignorance for everyone's sake).
It wasn't easy for John, waking up the morning after treating Sherlock's latest wounds, knowing he would be gone already, without even getting the chance to take a good look at him, to hug him… it only became worse when Sherlock began slipping into his bed at night. John imagined he wasn't supposed to find out but he was a former soldier and a former agent, and like Alec had once said 'you can take the man out of the soldier (referring to those who became little more than animals), but you cannot take the man out of the soldier (because even when the war was over, soldiers never forgot…).
It became part of the routine. And John believed Sherlock must like it enough for he was going to him even with injuries that were simple enough he could have dealt with them on his own. John was grateful though, so very grateful that there would be no more scars caused by wounds that had healed under less-than-proper conditions (he'd seen too many of those on his detective's skin already, and he'd felt almost wounded himself). Still, it became part of the routine, the two would go to sleep, and at some point in the hours before dawn Sherlock would slip into John's bed. He always laid above the covers, and a slight distance from John, as if trying to keep the older man from noticing his presence there; but John knew that ever if he didn't wake the very moment the door to his bedroom opened he would have been able to tell, just by the smell Sherlock left on the pillow where he laid his head; his own smell… mixed with that of John's shampoo… it was almost enough to drive the (natural) blonde crazy.
Then came the night that shattered it all. The little niche the two men had carved for themselves, odd routines woven into the seemingly endless act that had become their lives in the last two years… John always woke when Sherlock (still going by Siggy, or sometimes Sigerson) went into his room and lay on the bed; but it wasn't hard for him to fall asleep again afterwards. In fact he might even argue that he slept better those few hours before the sun rose, when Sherlock curled up on his side, just inches away from him, on top of the covers, than any other full night.
It all changed one night, John had already gone back to sleep when something woke him up again. It took him a handful of seconds, but soon he became aware, through slivers of his barely open eyelids, that Sherlock was awake, and not only that, but he was propped on one arm, staring straight at the supposedly sleeping John, and then he was leaning forward so close, dangerously close, their breath mingling and…
"Don't." The word had left John's lips before he even realized it.
Sherlock froze, his whole disguise of 'Siggy' dropping in an instant (except for the hair, a muddy brown right then) as he realized John was awake. The consulting detective's reaction, delayed as it was by the surprise, was still quite fast, as he sat up abruptly and turned to bolt from the bed. Before he could, though, one of John's hands shot from beneath the covers, grasping the bony wrist (and Sherlock had gotten so awfully thin in the last two years; ever since John had known him he'd been a bit more underweight than medically recommended, and it'd only gotten worse since the beginning of the Hunt).
"Don't." The doctor repeated, even as he sat up. "You don't have to leave, you know? I don't mind you being here."
"How long have you known?" Sherlock asked quietly, hesitantly.
"From the very first night." John shrugged. "You might be quiet She…" he shook his head and let out a sigh. "I'm still a soldier, I heard the door opening every time, and even if I hadn't, I could detect your smell on the pillows every morning afterwards."
"Why didn't you ever say anything?" The detective didn't understand, and he did not like that.
"You seemed not to want to address the matter, and I decided it wasn't that important." The former soldier admitted with a slight shrug. "I thought we could sit down and talk about it when all this mess was finished…"
"All this mess?" The genius hated repeating himself, he always had, but he was at such a loss, he didn't know what to do.
"The Hunt…?" John clarified. "I imagine it'll be over at some point and… well… it was my hope you would be coming back then? That we might be able to go home… back to Baker Street…?"
"Yes, yes of course." Sherlock nodded, but he didn't sound as happy as most would have expected. "Home…"
"Is that… is that not what you want?" The older man was the one at a loss then.
"I suppose it's only logical. Yes. And you'll want everything to go back to the way it used to be. The cases, the chases, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade… your girlfriends…"
"What…? Si… She… what?!" John really hated not being able to say his name in that moment, especially when he couldn't find the right words to express himself either.
"I… I don't know how much you saw or… or realized when you woke up just now. I assure you it was nothing more than a slip on my part, a mistake, it won't be happening again…"
"Is that what this is about? You almost kiss me, then try to bolt and now, what? You'll go back to all that bullshit about sentiment being a weakness and you being a sociopath…"
"Sentiment is a chemical defect, and I am a high functioning sociopath John, I was sure even your all-too-human mind would have grasped that al…"
"No, you're not! You're not a sociopath, and sentiment is not chemical, and certainly not a weakness, loving is not a mistake! You're my best friend, which means I care for you, I hold sentiment for you, are you telling me I'm wrong to do so?"
"It's what the rest of the world would tell you…"
"I don't care about the rest of the world, only about you!"
"Yes, well, in any case, my actions were still a mistake. After all, you're not gay and…"
"And that has nothing to do with this. And just for the record, my not being gay, doesn't mean I'm straight either. There is something called bisexuality after all…"
Sherlock was actually, probably for the first time ever, shocked into silence.
"You… does… might… that mean that you… that you might…" Something really had to be wrong with the consulting detective's mind in that moment, he couldn't even string a sentence together! It was embarrassing!
"I care about you." John repeated. "As more than a friend… a lot more. I didn't actually realized it until you were on that bloody rooftop and then… and then it seemed like it was already too late to do anything about it… then the letter and… all I've wished for in the last two years was for you to come back, for good. I might have dreamed on there being something between us, but never really dared hope for it." A self-deprecating smile adorned his mouth then. "I convinced myself that as long as you came back, nothing else mattered."
"Then why wouldn't you let me…?" The younger man couldn't finish the question, though there was no need, he was obviously referring to the almost kiss…
The reaction John had to those words was nothing Sherlock could have expected. In an instant he was flat on his back, John on top of him, carefully holding himself up on hands and knees, not touching the consulting detective at all, yet close enough to leave both of them breathless and almost vibrating with need.
"Because when I touch you, when I kiss you… I won't be letting go of you again." John stated, huskily, straight into Sherlock's ear. "You understand what I'm saying here, Sherlock? I don't want you to kiss me now, because letting you go afterwards would be the worst kind of torture. When he kiss, it will be a new beginning, a new life, one where I will never let go of you again. As much as I appreciate what you are doing right now, and that you're doing it for me and for our friends, I need you to understand this: It will never happen again, you're never leaving me again."
Never before had the detective heard his best-friend (his only friend) talking like that, with that voice, in that tone… it made Sherlock want, like he'd never wanted before, need things he'd long since convinced himself weren't as vital as they seemed in that very moment. Perhaps it'd been only that never before had there been someone that made it all worth it…
"Never again." He agreed without realizing. "I want you to kiss me, kiss me forever, John…"
"And I will." The blonde agreed, getting close until there was almost the ghost of a kiss pressed to the younger man's ear. "When this is over. When we're both home."
That was really all the motivation he needed. Sherlock Holmes was returning home, and it was happening soon.
John got working as soon as he got up the next morning. It was late, later than was usual, though he didn't regret the sleep-in. After the serious talk between he and Sherlock the two had lay back down together, without touching, but still. The consulting detective had purposefully woken the doctor shortly after dawn, as he was about to leave, to inform him that he'd only one mission left. Sebastian Moran was a former military man (sniper, dishonorably discharged), he was the closest thing Moriarty had to a right-hand man (not that, not exactly, the man was more of a sociopath than Sherlock ever claimed to be). He was in Serbia. The younger man believed that once he was out of the picture it would all be over, finally.
Sherlock would be returning soon, and as far as John was concerned, that meant the time had finally come for the country to realize the kind of man they'd vilified.
After two years piecing things together, through his own observations, as well as Mrs. Hudson's, official reports (Bill and a couple of other Homeless had gotten some things for him, and he chose to exercise his right for plausible deniability and pretended not to know where they came from, or how the others had gotten them). He knew it wouldn't be easy, not everyone would believe things, at least not at first, but he wasn't giving up, Sherlock was counting on him, and nothing would ever be more important than that.
Elsewhere Sherlock Holmes was getting ready for his last mission. It was one he would have to undertake alone, the group too tight to allow for more than one undercover. Still, he was confident on his ability. He also had a very good motivation to succeed, something to go back to. It wasn't London, much as he might love the city, not even the cases, though he was eager for the opportunity to get back to them, to the Work… no, all in the end all that truly mattered was John and nothing else. And he knew John was waiting for him to return, what else could he ever ask for? Now all he had to do was cut off the last piece of Moriarty's web, and go back home, go back to John…