Title: Five Times Sherlock Realised This Was Different and One Time He Admitted It

Author: starjenni

Disclaimer: Not mine! Well, the story is. But not the wonderful characters.

Pairings/Characters: John, Sherlock, implied S/J

Warnings: Swearing. And John singing. (And the stealing of a few lines from Dr Who.)

Rating: T

Spoilers: The usual.

Summary: John makes Sherlock's life different.


John makes Sherlock's life different.

It's such an easy thing to say, and yet Sherlock cannot fit this seemingly simple fact around his otherwise genius mind, cannot work out exactly how he did it, how it happened, how he let it happen (is it a good thing? Is it?). John is here, where there was no one before, and it is different. That is about all he can bring himself to realise.

(I)

It's half past four in the morning, Sherlock is bounding through the flat because Lestrade has called, and before he was so bored, but he is thrilled now, the world sparkles now, and he grabs his scarf, wrests it around his neck, shoves on his coat, and is halfway across the landing -

When he stops. And thinks.

John.

He could bring John with him.

He turns and stares up the other staircase to John's closed bedroom door, and says to himself well this is different.

Never before has he had anyone to bring with him, anyone to talk to before he gets to the crime scene, it has always been him, just him, and then the case and crime and chases and murder…and then him again. John is filling up the little corners in between cases, the little lonely, quiet corners with…with…himself.

This is different.

He dashes up the stairs, bashes through the door. John leaps up in bed, stares, then mumbles confusedly, "Sherlock? What the - "

Sherlock jumps onto his bed, he can't help it, this is wonderful, his legs either side of John's, effectively trapping him into looking at him. "Case," he announces brightly.

John looks at his clock, sees the time, then glares at him. "Fuck off," he responds, and flops back down, pulling the cover over his head. Sherlock scrambles forward and yanks it back.

"Come on."

"Sherlock, it's the middle of the bloody night! Go away!"

They wrestle with the covers for a while.

"A double murder," Sherlock says between struggles. "Locked room case. Police baffled. Probably a lot of dastardly deeds aboard. And you want to sleep?"

John pauses and Sherlock thinks got you.

"Will there be running?" John asks, straight-faced.

Sherlock's eyes brighten, and he leans forward so they're almost nose to nose. "Tons of it," he promises.

John smiles. Sherlock grins in response, and gets off the bed so John can get out.

This is different.

(II)

It's all gone a bit wrong, the criminal was a bit too quick, they were a bit too slow, Sherlock didn't judge the height of the ledge quite right, and now he's limping and swearing and crashing his way through 221b.

All as usual, except that now John is here to hold him upright and stop him from careering into painful things like steps and berate him for using foul language where Mrs Hudson might be around to hear.

They struggle into the living room, Sherlock hopping on one foot and complaining loudly, John supporting him and rolling his eyes, and Sherlock is dropped gently onto the sofa.

John drags a chair round and lifts Sherlock's foot onto it, disrobing it neatly of shoe and sock and inspecting the swollen flesh beneath carefully.

"Looks like a bad sprain," he says eventually, using what Sherlock secretly labels as his 'doctor voice', all warmth and reassurance and professionalism. "You'll be laid up for a week or so, but it's not too bad. You got off lightly considering the insane height you jumped from." John gives him a severe look. Sherlock tries his best to look ingratiating. John stands up.

"Do we still have those peas in the freezer?"

Sherlock knows they don't - he replaced them with an arm several days ago - so they make do with ice cubes and frozen carrots instead. John makes up a bagful, then kneels by the chair and places it lightly onto Sherlock's ankle, watching Sherlock wince.

"Next time," he says quietly, "Try to look before you leap."

Sherlock can find no words to say to this. No one has ever cared before. Usually he would dash around, crashing and burning himself, and would get no more than a tut from Lestrade that he has been so silly, and perhaps a small snigger from Anderson or Donovan. No one has ever helped him home, or diagnosed him, or made up a bag of frozen parts for him that aren't human.

This is different.

(III)

It's been days - possibly a week, he's not sure - since Sherlock slept, and after the case he's just had, he is so exhausted that he simply cannot find the energy to crawl to his room. He goes for the age old option instead and curls up on the sofa (ah, those many lovely days with various sofas - if he was pressured, he would probably admit that he likes them better than beds, he has certainly spent more time sleeping on them) and falls asleep.

He wakes up, and it is different.

Usually he wakes up due to the cold, feeling hungry and a little sick from sleeping at a strange time, the room dark and forbidding and empty, but this time…

There is a blanket placed on top of him, carefully arranged so that it even covers his toes, and the room is warm and bright, fire lit, curtains drawn. Wonderful smells are wafting from the kitchen, and he sniffs appreciatively and loudly.

"I'm making risotto, do you want some?" John calls from the kitchen, clanking things around.

Sherlock wriggles his toes into his blanket. "Yes, please," he says.

He is not a great fan of domesticity, of safety, of security, but he is starting to think that sometimes just a little is just enough.

This is different.

(IV)

He walks into the 221b, and his spirits are low because he has spent the whole day chasing around an interesting case that turned out to be little more than a rumour, and all he has waiting for him are letters about lost cats and stolen bracelets, and sometimes he wonders just why he bothers, with anything, ever.

He is planning on lying around and playing dreadful tunes on his violin until Mrs Hudson complains, but is distracted by an already abysmal caterwauling coming from the kitchen.

He peeks through the doorway. John is standing with his back to him, drying dishes and singing badly to the radio. The noise he is making is so loud that he hasn't heard Sherlock come in.

Sherlock stares. John sings, "CAL-ifornia girls, we're unforgettable - " and Sherlock has to cover his mouth quickly to hold back the laughter. He waits until John gets to a "Oooooooooh oh ooooooh!" and then says pleasantly, "Good evening."

John jumps violently. The plate he was holding slips out of his grip and crashes on the ground and into hundreds of pieces. He spins around.

"You bloody - " he starts, but Sherlock can't hold it in any longer, he bursts out laughing, gripping the doorframe for support, howling until tears come into his eyes, and John goes bright red and flings a dishcloth at him, but Sherlock is already making his escape into the living room, where he lies on the sofa and laughs so infectiously that soon he hears John giggling along too.

He lies back once his own giggling fit is over and grins up at the ceiling. For some reason he feels far, far more cheerful than he did half an hour ago, even if he has nothing to do.

This is different.

(V)

Another case, another detective inspector who is not Lestrade and therefore who does not realise that Sherlock is not actually a madman (well, not much) and actually does know what he is talking about. Anderson and Donovan are also there, but they are not exactly falling over themselves to stick up for him. The inspector is refusing to let him see the body ("even if Lestrade did say I should let you do what you want, this is my crime scene, and I'm not having you destroy it!"), and is making all the signs of chucking Sherlock out altogether. Perhaps Sherlock shouldn't have implied that he was having an affair on his wife with one of the sergeants.

Usually, Sherlock would argue until he eventually gets thrown out, with Donovan and Anderson waving a mocking goodbye as he storms off, but now…

John puts a steadying hand on his arm and says to the inspector, very carefully, very sanely Sherlock supposes, "He really can help, inspector. I assure you. Just two minutes is all we need."

The inspector gives him a quick, searching, unfriendly glance. "And just who the hell are you?"

Bless John and his natural inability to take offence. He gives the inspector a friendly smile. "John Watson. His colleague. I won't let him contaminate the crime scene, I promise."

It must be his unassuming social skills, or perhaps the steady look in his eye, but his words make the inspector waver, and he finally (after another long stare at Sherlock) grunts, "Two minutes," and stands to let them pass.

John leads the way. Sherlock follows. Donovan and Anderson watch, abject disappointment written all over their faces.

This is different.

(and one time…)

He is getting more and more aware of it. Now its turning into silly things, like the fact that he doesn't get taxis alone anymore. He never realised how used to John he was getting until he gets one by himself whilst John is at work, and finds himself turning around every so often to ask John something, only to face an empty space beside him instead. It is unnerving, it is strange, it is different.

And then there is the domesticity. He is not used to having cooked meals at home; he rarely eats on a case anyway, and then when he did eat he used to go to a restaurant or get a takeaway. Now, more often than not, Sherlock will eat in Baker Street with John and sometimes Mrs Hudson, or he will eat some leftovers they have. If he wasn't running around all the time still, he suspects that he would be getting fat by now. John even tried to teach him to cook the other day, but gave up when he managed to burn an omelette to a crisp (is it his fault that he had suddenly thought up a fascinating reason why the White Street killer took the intestines out of every victim he killed?). It is different.

And then somehow, there is just…John. John being around Sherlock and Sherlock being around John. John's presence, behind him, beside him, ever steady and dependable. It relaxes Sherlock when he is at his most edgy, it makes him remember to think twice before he does anything too insane. It is a gentle, undemanding company, giving all and taking nothing in return, and suddenly the old days of being alone seem almost like a hell compared to this.

They are sitting on the sofa, having a rare night in with some dreadful film that John covets and a shared bowl of popcorn. Sherlock has been tapping away emails to various clients (dull, dull, dull, if it wasn't for the fact that he is late with the rent, he wouldn't even think to bother), but something has hit him, and he puts down his laptop in sudden thought.

This, too, is different.

He looks over at John, who is laughing at the television through a mouthful of popcorn. He is nothing extraordinary, John Watson, he is nothing extreme. And sometimes he drives Sherlock mad with his nagging, and his occasional disrespect of enormously important experiments, but…

But he is important. Without either of them even realising it, John has somehow lit up the life Sherlock has around his cases, and sometimes even within cases - he is, after all, an extra pair of hands, eyes and ears, even if he does always come to the wrong conclusion. Where there used to be gravity and quiet and nothing, there is now John. He is not the loudest person, or the most exciting, he does not do anything particularly mind-blowing but somehow…he is perfect.

He has become the most important person in Sherlock's life because he is his base, his foundation. He is Sherlock's home.

John abruptly looks away from the screen and meets his eyes. "What?" he demands.

Sherlock glances away quickly, suddenly and inexplicably embarrassed. "Nothing."

John gestures with a piece of popcorn. "No, you've been staring at me for like the last ten minutes. What is it?"

Sherlock stares blankly at the television for a moment. There is a ridiculously impossible and overcomplicated car crash happening on the screen. It feels like a metaphor for his life. He looks back at John, suddenly noticing how blue his eyes are, especially in the blues and whites of the television glare.

"It's just," Sherlock says, so quietly he can barely himself speak. "I'm just so glad I met you."

John blinks, taken aback.

It's not what Sherlock meant to say, it doesn't phrase what he feels exactly, but apparently he still gets his message across, because John does one of his invisible smiles, where his eyes crinkle up at the corners but his mouth doesn't move.

"Me too," he says after a moment.

There is a too awkward, too wonderful pause, and then something explodes on the television, and John looks back to it, clearing his throat, and Sherlock leans forward, takes a handful of popcorn from the bowl and eats his way through it.

He can't resist a smile, small though it is, and, when he glances swiftly at John again after a bit, notices that John can't quite either.

This is different as well. But it is good.