Too Close to Holmes

Epilogue – On The Road

John woke up slowly, turning his head to place a soft kiss to the top of Sherlock's head. It had been a month since the trial, and, while things were a long way from perfect, Sherlock was slowly starting to recover. There were still nights – far too many nights – when John would be woken by his partner's thrashing and crying through a nightmare, but these were becoming gradually less frequent. There were days where Sherlock would refuse to eat, or speak, or where John would come home to find Sherlock sitting on the sofa, staring blankly into space with blood on his sleeves, or glaring at the loose floorboard in his bedroom, as if daring himself to open it and use whatever he found inside. As yet, though, John had never come home to find that Sherlock had given in to his cravings.

"Stop thinking." Sherlock mumbled, dragging John out of his musings. "It's very distracting."

"Sorry." John said with a smile. "Do you want breakfast?"

"Just toast." Sherlock replied, stretching as John climbed out of bed. "And coffee."

John wandered into the kitchen and started making breakfast while Sherlock showered. He flicked idly through the newspaper as he waited for the kettle to boil, dropping in onto the kitchen table when the toast popped.

He settled down at the table, blowing gently on the surface of his tea, and glanced towards the door, his brow furrowed. Sherlock was taking quite a while in the shower today. John wasn't sure why, but he had a feeling this meant something. He had just taken a sip of his tea – still too hot – when Sherlock walked into the room and silently slipped something into John's hand.

John glanced down and looked at the item in his hand. It was a packet of razor blades. He looked up at Sherlock questioningly.

"I didn't feel great when I woke up." Sherlock said bluntly as an explanation. "I'd prefer it if you looked after those for the day."

John nodded, smiling reassuringly at Sherlock. If he was honest, the relief he felt made him want to grin widely, perhaps even hug the other man, but he held himself firmly in check. This was the first time Sherlock had come to him for help when he was starting to feel bad. He normally kept everything bottled up, and it was up to John to notice too late that Sherlock was on the brink of breaking down.

"That's fine." John said, standing up and slipping the razor blades into his pocket as he heard the doorbell ring. "I'll get the door. You just eat your breakfast."

John opened the door and blinked in surprise at the sight of Lestrade waiting anxiously on their doorstep. The DI hadn't come to them with any cases since Sherlock had been raped, instead leaving the consulting detective to recover until he was told he was ready. John opened the door wider, stepping aside to let Lestrade in as he greeted him.

"Sorry to do this." Lestrade said as he stepped into the kitchen. "But it's the third case in a row, and we've hit nothing but dead ends. You don't have to, if you're not ready. It's totally up to you."

John looked at Sherlock, waiting with baited breath.

"Text me the address." Sherlock said, standing up with a wide smile. "We'll be right behind you."

John paid the cab driver and followed Sherlock onto the crime scene. They hadn't spoken at all during the journey, and John was aware that this could either be a brilliant step in the right direction or a truly terrible mistake. He looked up as a black Mercedes pulled up just outside the police tape, and nodded as Mycroft stepped out of the car, standing back and watching them walk towards the scene. He looked just as though he was feeling just as unsure as John felt.

Anderson was the first person they saw after arriving at the scene. He walked up to them as they stepped under the police tape and smiled weakly a them.

"Morning Sherlock. John." He said, turning to lead them towards the latest body. "It's just this way."

Sherlock tensed instantly, his eyes falling closed in dismay. He grew more and more wound up as they progressed through the scene, gritting his teeth as police officers fell silent and stared as soon as he stepped into view. John sighed deeply. He knew exactly which way this was going, and why it was going so badly. Before Victor Trevor had struck, Anderson had always treated Sherlock with unveiled dislike, while other officers went about their business without even acknowledging that they had noticed him. Now though, he was the centre of attention; they were openly staring at him, some with curiosity, others with concern, while Anderson was being uncharacteristically nice. All of it was making Sherlock more and more uncomfortable, making him hyperaware of what he was, what they all saw him as: a victim.

Sherlock glared as several officers approached him, asking him how he was feeling. The seventh time this happened, he whirled around, about to shout angrily at them all, when Sally Donovan appeared on the scene.

"Oi, Freak!" She called, stopping in front of Sherlock and John with her hands on her hips. "What are you doing here?"

John gaped, watching as she gave a split second glare at the officer who had so badly irritated Sherlock and the officer quickly scarpered in the other direction, her face white. Lestrade was standing behind Sally, his face filled with shock, stunned that she had addressed Sherlock like that upon his arrival at his first case back. He opened his mouth, as though he was going to reprimand her, when a gleeful smile suddenly appeared on Sherlock's face.

"I was invited, Sally." Sherlock said with a smirk, his eyes sparkling with warmth and mirth. "Since you're all too incompetent to do your own jobs, I have to do it for you."

"Well you know what I think, don't you, Freak." Sally said, glancing warmly at John in a way that told John she knew perfectly well that she was repeating the exchange from the first time she had met, and that Sherlock knew it too.

"Always, Sally." Sherlock retorted, striding past her with a smile. "Come along, John."

John hesitated. "Thanks, Sally." He said.

"Not a problem." She replied. "Bloody irritating pricks. He just wants to go back to how things were before. Treating him like he's a circus freak made of bloody glass isn't going to help. Now go. He'll go mental if you disappear."

John smiled, and, as he always did, followed Sherlock onto yet another crime scene.

It only took a day to solve the crime – the son of a prostitute murdering others of his mother's profession – and the next morning saw Sherlock and John walking down Ealing Broadway towards a Chinese restaurant Sherlock recommended.

They had just passed the tube station when the sound of someone calling Sherlock's name brought them to a halt. They turned around together, and John's mouth fell open in surprise when he saw Stephen Matthews, Trevor's 23rd victim, running towards them, closely followed by his nervous looking mother.

"Stephen." Sherlock said, peering down at the boy. He coughed awkwardly, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets. "How are you?"

"I'm ok." Stephen said, staring up at Sherlock. "Getting better. Are you ok?"

Sherlock hesitated, glancing at John thoughtfully. "I'm getting better too." He said honestly with a small smile. "Not there yet, but definitely on the road to recovery."