A/N: Hello, and welcome to the sequel to Moving Day. This can stand alone, but Moving Day is only a two-parter so you might as well read it if you haven't already. Go on, you know you want to ;-)
It had been 18 months since Sherlock had been rudely defeated by the washing machine. He often caught it staring at him with its large glass eye. It had unnerved him, until he came to his senses and remembered it was simply a washing machine. It had been a lesson and he had tamed it. He was the overall winner.
Over the past 18 months, Sherlock had surprised himself at how easy it was to do all the domestic stuff that John had insisted on doing when they had lived together. John would always huff about it; the hoovering, the washing up. Sherlock couldn't understand John's irritation. It was mundane but relatively straightforward. He'd even begun to pride himself on the way he could now make a cup of tea at the same time as doing something else, just the way John used to do.
On a wet October afternoon, Sherlock lay on his sofa, pretending to read a magazine as he thought about his current case. After John had moved out, Sherlock had found that Mrs Hudson felt inclined to speak to him if he wasn't showing signs of doing something else, hence his developed skill in fake-reading.
His thoughts were barely interrupted by the bang of the front door, followed by the unmistakable sound of John Watson making his way up to the first floor. Sherlock's eyes remained on the page as the man arrived in the doorway.
"Real-reading or fake-reading?"
"Fake-reading," replied the baritone voice from behind the magazine.
"What's got you thinking?" John asked, crossing to the sofa and lifting the other man's feet so he could sit himself down. Sherlock lowered the magazine and regarded John. His face looked tired and although he was smiling at his friend, the smile didn't reach his eyes. Sherlock glanced at the John's hands placed gently but awkwardly on Sherlock's ankles. The magazine was raised again.
"You didn't come here to hear about my latest case."
"No, no you're right I didn't." The pair sat in silence for a moment. Sherlock placed the magazine on his stomach and stared thoughtfully at the ceiling while John tapped absentmindedly on Sherlock's feet in his lap. "Go put the kettle on," John spoke up eventually, and Sherlock swung his legs over and made his way to the kitchen.
"Tea or coffee?" Sherlock asked as he walked away.
"Guess." That was John's usual reply, but it made Sherlock chuckle nonetheless.
"So she kicked you out," came the voice from the kitchen. John scowled on the sofa.
"No, I left actually," he called back indignantly.
John rolled his eyes and waited for Sherlock to reappear. He carried two mugs with him into the living room and splashed John with tea as he handed him a mug.
"I wanted coffee."
They sat in a comfortable silence, sipping their tea. Both men rested their heads on the back of the sofa and looked up at the ceiling. After a while, John turned his head towards Sherlock.
"Can I move back in?"
Sherlock considered this for a brief moment before turning his head to regard John.
"I suppose. If you admit that the past eighteen months have been a terrible mistake, and that I was right all along."
"Say the words, John."
"No," John huffed. "Sherlock, it wasn't a mistake. It's been a learning curve for both of us. It just didn't work out."
"For you," Sherlock added smugly. "It didn't work out for you. I've been perfectly fine on my own."
It was true. Sherlock was capable of living on his own. Much more capable, it would seem, than John was of living with a woman. Sherlock was the victor. He smiled to himself.
"I'm never going to get rid of you, am I?" John said, resting his head on Sherlock's shoulder.
"No." At least he was honest. They sat quietly for a moment before Sherlock spoke up. "Let me think about it."
John looked puzzled.
"Think about what?"
"Letting you move back in." John scoffed at this and opened his mouth to retort, but Sherlock continued to speak. "I know it was over a year ago, but you abandoned me, and I found that highly hurtful and inconvenient."
John sighed loudly and then took a sip of his tea.
"May I at least stay tonight while you think about it? I literally have nowhere else to go," John finished quietly. This change in tone provoked Sherlock's curiosity and he spent a brief moment studying John. John flinched under the scrutiny.
"You left in a hurry," Sherlock stated. John stared blankly at him, waiting for the elaboration which was bound to come. "You didn't bring anything with you."
"Maybe I didn't want to be presumptuous," John retorted, picking at his sleeve. No, there was more to it than that, Sherlock mused. John had left his flat on a drizzly October evening without a coat. Judging by the dampness of his hair and jumper, Sherlock knew John had gotten the tube rather than a cab, so he had his Oyster card on him at least. John had left his flat with a purposeful march to the tube station rather than a reluctant wander down the street in the hope of hailing a cab. Sherlock was pleased. John had wanted to come to Baker Street. It was just a shame that John looked so sad.
"What? No...Maybe. It doesn't matter." He let out a long, staggered breath and stared up at the ceiling, hoping that Sherlock's mind would take him back to his case. Unfortunately, Sherlock seemed to find staring at John much more entertaining.
"She's been seeing someone else." The words were spoken to the ceiling and sounded loud in the otherwise quiet room. They were followed by a scornful groan. "I dunno, maybe part of me knew all along but couldn't quite face up to it, because that kind of thing doesn't happen in real life to people like me. Cheating," he spoke the word bitterly. "But unfortunately, to be more honest, I hadn't got a fucking clue because I'm a prize idiot."
"You're not an idiot John," Sherlock spoke quietly. Of course, he was an idiot. But not about this. He was a wonderful, trusting man who had fallen in love. He wouldn't be the first man or the last to be in this situation. It had made him blind, but not an idiot. In fact, if anyone was the idiot, Sherlock decided, it was Sarah though he knew it probably would be best to let that comment go. He felt John's eyes on him, and leant forward uncomfortably, reaching for his mug.
They stared at each other and then Sherlock looked away.
"Did you...Hang on...You knew! Didn't you?" John said in disbelief. Sherlock nodded after a pause. "Oh for f– Why the hell didn't you say something?"
"Because it's none of my business! Besides, I was rather hoping that you would find your way back here which you did. Predictable, John, predictable. I didn't want to ruin the chances so I kept quiet. People have a nasty habit of shooting the messenger." Sherlock slurped his tea, signalling he'd finished his brief explanation.
John sat, blinking at Sherlock. He felt like the man had physically struck him in the face.
"How fucking selfish!" he exclaimed. Sherlock gave a little frown of confusion.
"Well, yes. I am selfish, John. This isn't news to you."
"So, you haven't got the slightest bit of guilt?"
"What? I never said that. I feel guilty. But the selfishness outweighs the guilt. So, there you go. Anyway, you're back here now, so no harm done. And I've decided to let you stay indefinitely," Sherlock said firmly with a smile. He knew that he was pushing his luck. John looked hurt and rather fraught. Sherlock hoped the news might make his friend feel a little better. They sat there in a long, awkward silence.
"How did you know?"
Know what? Oh. Sherlock thought they'd finished the previous conversation.
"Well there were several clear signs John; the main one being that Sarah hasn't been able to look me in the eye for the past six weeks."
There was a sharp intake of breath.
"Six...six weeks? You've known for six weeks?" John let out a sound which was a mixture between a laugh and a sob. "I could cry."
"Lovely. Well, I'll leave you to that. I am supposed to be working after all," Sherlock rose from the sofa and grabbed his coat. "Unless you'd like to come along?" he asked suggestively. John frowned and looked down at his knees, shaking his head sadly.
"I don't think I can move."
"Suit yourself. If you find you can move in the near future then we need some milk." And with that Sherlock headed for the door.