The cab ride from Heathrow to Baker Street was uneventful. John smiled the entire way, past the Fuller's Brewery and the Royal Albert Hall, through Hyde Park and down Wigmore Street. John's body buzzed with the electricity of being in London again, his blood singing as it always did upon returning to his favorite city. As they pulled up to 221B Baker Street, though, John remembered he did not feel this way when he invalided out of Afghanistan or the last time he approached this particular flat. He glanced at Sherlock sitting silently next to him and knew he'd always feel the most alive at his side.
John and Sherlock had lingered in Big Sur for two weeks, talking, hiking, laughing, eating and learning to openly love each other. Then they moved on to San Francisco, where Sherlock spent a week with John exploring the alleys of Chinatown and following in the footsteps of Emperor Norton. John learned Sherlock had an affinity for Dungeness crab and Ghirardelli chocolate in the touristy parts of town. The two men feasted their way through the Ferry Building and its farmers market, holding hands and deducing people the entire time. John had never seen Sherlock so relaxed and happy. John discovered Sherlock snored lightly and cuddled fiercely in his sleep. That Sherlock quickly became a fantastic kisser and that his fingers were as skilled at playing John's body as they were on the violin. And John became even more convinced he had never truly loved anyone before, including himself. For the first time in his adult life, John felt fully actualized, completely comfortable in his own skin and with who he was.
Both men had traveled light, so Sherlock took their bags and his violin up to the flat as John paid the cabbie. John took off his jacket as he bounded up the seventeen steps to the sitting room, their sitting room, but he came to an abrupt stop in the doorway.
Sherlock was standing in the center of the room, shoulders bowed, as he surveyed a pile of John's possessions. He turned to John, seemingly unsure. "I had Mycroft retrieve your belongings from your… Mary's flat. I hope it wasn't too forward of me."
John tossed his jacket over the back of his chair. "Of course not. You know I wanted to move back. I'm happy to return home."
Sherlock walked over to the window and looked out at the street below, where raindrops had begun to paint the pavement. "I… I didn't… do you...?" Sherlock raked his fingers through his hair and growled in frustration.
John walked over to him, placing his hands on Sherlock's shoulders. The tension was easily detectable, and John started to lightly massage Sherlock. "Hey, what's going on?"
Sherlock pulled away. His mouth pressed into a thin line, and then he took a deep breath before speaking. "I didn't know if I could tell Mycroft to have the bags put in my room or in your room, or if our room exists. I didn't know what to say, so I just had the bags dropped inside the door."
Sherlock looked directly at John. "I don't know what you want now."
Sherlock's statement stunned John. They had spent three weeks with each other, leading to the moment they returned home. John felt anger start to build in him because of Sherlock's doubts. "I want you. I want us."
"It was easy while we were in California. It was a blissful holiday, the best time of my life. It was easy for you to forget yourself, the 'not gay' John Watson, the 'married' John Watson, the 'Queen and Country' John Watson. But we're back in London now, so it'll be harder for you to forget."
John's anger dissipated in an instant. Of course, Sherlock would have doubts. The previous time the two men were in this room together, Sherlock had practically confessed his love, and John had responded carelessly. John walked over to Sherlock, who was standing in front of the sofa, and grabbed his elbows lightly. Looking up into Sherlock's vulnerable face, John said, "Let me tell you what I want to forget. I want to forget the last time we were in this room, when I was a heartless arse to you because I did not yet know my heart. I want to forget ever leaving you behind here, going back to a woman I never loved the tiniest fraction as much as I love you, because I did not yet know how to love. I want to forget all the times I felt like strangling you when we lived together, because I did not know what I really wanted was just to touch you."
John saw fragile hope form in Sherlock's eyes, but he still said, "John, please be sure."
"Boys, you're home!"
John and Sherlock had been so focused on each other that neither had heard Mrs. Hudson approach. She stood in the doorway beaming at them.
Sherlock started to move away, but instead John said, "Hello, Mrs. Hudson. Look who I found!" Then John placed a hand on Sherlock's neck and drew him down for a kiss.
John ended the kiss when Mrs. Hudson squealed with delight. "I knew it. It's about time the two of you figured it out."
Sherlock dropped wordlessly onto the sofa.
Mrs. Hudson placed her hands on her hips. "Manners, Sherlock. Really. You haven't seen me in weeks. Say hello."
Sherlock blinked. And blinked again.
"I may have broken him with a public display of affection, Mrs. Hudson."
Their landlady swatted John's arm. "Well, you'll just have to fix him before I bring your tea up."
Mrs. Hudson gave John a quick kiss on the cheek, and then she stepped over to Sherlock. She ruffled his hair. "Oh, my silly boy." Then she leaned over to kiss the top of his head.
As she walked down the stairs, she called, "I'll be back up in ten minutes, so be decent."
John grinned at his still silent Sherlock, who at least was able to look at him now. John sat next to him and hugged him. "Hi, there."
"You kissed me in front of Mrs. Hudson."
Sherlock remained stiff in John's arms and did not hug him back. "She knows."
"She knows. You know. I know."
To John's dismay, Sherlock's lower lip trembled as he asked, "And you're okay, with the knowing?"
John squeezed Sherlock even closer to him and punctuated his words with kisses. "I am John Watson, and I love Sherlock Holmes. Miraculously, you love me, too. I want Stamford to know what his introduction has meant to us. I want Lestrade and Donovan to know, the whole Yard to know. I want Harry to know. I want Mycroft and your lovely parents to know. Sherlock, I want the whole world to know."
Finally, Sherlock's arms wound around John's waist, and he nuzzled into John's neck. "Thank you, John. As much as I hate to admit it, I might need reassurance for a while yet. Part of me still can't believe you're here."
"I'm finding it easier to talk now that I'm not doing so much lying to myself."
Sherlock kissed John's neck before lifting his head to smile at John. "Me, too."
After exchanging a few kisses, John said, "Can you imagine the look on Mycroft's face the first time we snog in front of him?"
"Please do not mention my brother and snogging in the same sentence." Sherlock shuddered.
Realizing there were many topics they still had to discuss, John said, "In all seriousness, though, I can move back into my old room if you'd prefer."
"Not a chance. You'll move into my room, our room, because it's the larger of the two. I'll even make room for your clothes, but do not touch my sock index."
Sherlock smirked, and John responded mockingly, "Oh, I wouldn't dare."
John intertwined their fingers. "Things might get a little awkward when people ask about Mary and the baby, though."
Sherlock raised their hands and kissed each of John's knuckles individually. "We'll get through it together."
"Oh, look at the two of you, all soppy and romantic." Mrs. Hudson's tone was giddy as she walked in the sitting room.
"Mrs. Hudson, you might find it wise to knock from now on."
"You better start closing your doors, Sherlock. Not like you boys could possibly do anything to shock me." Mrs. Hudson winked at them as she set down the tea tray on the table.
Sherlock blushed, John laughed. "Please join us, Mrs. Hudson."
"I brought a third teacup just in case you asked."
Mrs. Hudson prepared their tea to their individual preferences, and then she settled into John's chair. John kept his arm around Sherlock's shoulders, and Sherlock relaxed against him.
"So, you finally ditched that awful Mary. I'm glad, John, but I am sorry about the child." Mrs. Hudson winced sympathetically.
John asked, "Mycroft filled you in?"
"No, why would I need Mycroft to tell me this? I can read you boys like a book, always could. That's why I was so surprised when you told me you were moving on…"
As Mrs. Hudson babbled happily at them, Sherlock rolled his eyes at John and rested his head on his shoulder. In that instant, John had everything he needed and would ever want. As he turned to kiss Sherlock's precious curls, John knew he would never forget the pain or sorrow littering the path to this moment. He also knew he would not want to forget, because the journey led to this, John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, together as they were always meant to be.