It is still early when John crashes back in through the front door. You lurch out of a light and disturbed sleep at the sound, calculating it to be around 7:40 judging by the quality of the light at this time of year.
He looks like he hasn't really slept. Bags under his eyes, yesterday's clothes all crumpled to him, his hair slightly bedraggled. You leap out of your chair, standing up to face him.
"You haven't slept," you said, regarding him warily. Desperately happy to see him. Terrified of what that means.
"It's difficult," he says, "When your phone keeps beeping every few minutes."
"You didn't reply."
"I didn't reply. I was thinking."
You watch him, waiting for him to expand on his thoughts. He doesn't.
"Are you going to tell me what you were thinking about, or do you want some time alone with the skull?" you say, a little of your wit returning. He smiles despite himself, then looks up at you, suddenly intense.
"Sherlock, we need to have a talk about...boundaries."
"Boundaries..." you repeat, slowly.
"You're aware of the concept, I'm sure," he says, with a slightly twisted grin.
You nod. You understand the theory, at least.
John takes a deep breath.
"My confidential files, Sherlock, are my confidential files. You do not use underhand methods to access them in the future."
You nod, wincing slightly.
"My things, are my things. That is, everything in my bedroom. Anything I leave lying around in the living room is fair game."
"And finally, Sherlock. My thoughts, are my thoughts. You can't crack them open and you can't just solve them like they're a rubix cube. It isn't like that."
Hanging your head like a chastised child, you nod again, dumbly.
"But I thought we were... friends?" you venture, quietly, "And friends...share things, don't they?"
You aren't sure. You've never really had one before.
John smiles again, looking a little exasperated.
"They share, Sherlock, they don't take. If you want to see my things, just ask me. If you want to know my thoughts, just ask me. I'll try to be as honest as I can."
You stare at him, marvelling slightly at the idea of just being able to ask for answers rather than gather clues and draw deductions. You don't know where to start: with the fact that he'll travel halfway across London if you just text him saying you're bored, with the way that he's memorised exactly when and how you like your tea, with the fact that he's long stopped objecting whenever anyone refers to him as your "date"? You have so many questions.
"So, if I can bear in mind these boundaries," you say, finally, "Then we're still...what. Friends?"
John holds your gaze, tilting his head a little to the side.
You smile suddenly, delightedly, in the way that you've discovered you only really ever do around John Watson.
"Although as for being friends..." he continues, watching you thoughtfully, "I've always thought that there were certain boundaries that were made to be pushed."
You feel your eyes widen as you process the meaning of his words, reliving at the same time the last weeks of your strange obsession and preoccupation with the man that is currently stood in front of you. Yes, that makes perfect sense, you think. Of course. You don't know why you didn't see it before.
"Extraordinary," you say, shaking your head, "Quite extraordinary".
And, surprised once more by John Watson, you throw back your head and laugh.