Warning: Mentions of an unpleasant sexual encounter. Also blood and pain but only a little.

A/N – No beta or brit-pick. I walk like and American and talk like an American but have spent a lot of time in the UK. The hybrid language I use in my everyday life probably carried over. I did manage to avoid using ya'll though so small victory. Consider yourself warned. Finally, I haven't written for fun in a very long time, so this might be horrible. I hope not but let me know either way. Thanks!

They're Only Echoes

My eyes search the people walking outside of the coffee shop window. Typically, I'd be studying them, but today I only have a mild interest. Today, I have other things to consider.

I sigh, glancing at my watch just as my cell phone beeps. I smile, knowing exactly who the text is from. John is supposed to be here in exactly 27 seconds and isn't in sight.

"Sorry, had a difficult patient. Just leaving the clinic now. Be there in 10. Forgive?"

Typical of the ailing masses to interfere with my evening, but I always plan accordingly and this will just dip into the allotted travel time. Any other day I'd have been exasperated by this, but tonight I'm willing to overlook it.

"I will consider it and inform you of my decision upon your arrival. – SH"

I smile as I hit send and know exactly which smile will appear on John's face as he reads it. Not for the first time I wonder if I should be alarmed at how happy John can make me, sometimes despite my best efforts to be otherwise. It really is shameful and I should take efforts to restore all of my emotional control. Then I smile again. Too late for that, Sherlock.

I lean back in my chair taking a sip of my coffee and focus my attention back out the window. Since I have a few minutes to spare…

Woman in the atrocious read pant suit, on the phone with her husband while on her way to meet her lover.

Woman in the sunflower print dress and white sweater, just confirmed that her suspicion that she is pregnant is correct. She is happy but unsure if the boyfriend (not husband, not fiancé, boyfriend) will be. She appears to have come from a responsible family and will be a successful mother.

Older man, 67 would be my guess, casual clothes, has come to terms with the fact that he is dying of cancer, bone cancer. Carpe Diem.

Young man in the I Heart New York t-shirt, never been out of England, lost his virginity last night with a woman who was labeled as "out of his league". Feeling particularly smug but it will not be repeated.

Young mother with the infant girl…

"Sherlock Holmes is still watching the inferior and performing his parlor tricks." I close my eyes recognizing the voice without having to look over my shoulder. I open them again just as he appears in my line of sight. He takes the chair opposite me and blocks my view outside. He chuckles as his eyes meet mine. He's been drinking, quite a lot already if his glassy stare and flushed cheeks are any indication. I stare at him for a moment then cross my arms, accepting his annoying presence.

"Please do have a seat Sebastian." I gesture to the chair he's been sitting in for approximately 13 seconds already. He laughs again, louder than necessary even if my comment had actually been humorous.

"What has it been this time? 3 years?" I mentally add 2 months, 18 days and 2 hours to his calculation but do not speak them. I would dislike it if Sebastian thought I remembered our last meeting fondly. Besides having to interact with Sebastian again, she had been involved in that case.

"That is an accurate approximation." I reply annoyed that he is not recognizing my tone or sitting position as unwelcoming. Anyone with any knowledge of body language or basic social skills would know that I am not encouraging his company.

Sebastian reaches an arm across the table, slapping his palm good naturedly on the edge closest to me. He is unable to reach me, which is what I believe he was trying to do. Probably one of the shoulder slap, good-natured male gestures. I repress the urge to retch.

"It is so good to see you Sherlock. I think about you quite often, about our time at university together. Those were some good times, weren't they?" Alcohol induced companionship. It really is repulsive.

"For some." I reply, not really wishing to discuss university. I peak at my watch; John's arrival is at least 4 minutes away. I contemplate leaving and meeting him on the street, but the coffee shop is close enough that there are a few different ways to get here from the clinic. And John will be curious if I suddenly alter the plan. I don't particularly want to discuss my time at university with him tonight either.

Sebastian laughs again, obviously remembering something fondly. "Do you remember…" he starts but breaks off into a fit of giggles. A grown man laughing like a 9 year old girl is rather ridiculous. "I remember how you'd sit there and announce who was gay, who was lying about sleeping with who, who had an abortion…" he was laughing again.

"I'm sorry that I don't find the social awkwardness of my adolescents as amusing as you. I do not have many fond memories of university." This causes him to laugh harder. I refuse to leave now as a matter of principle. This is my table where I am waiting for my John. I will not be driven away by him.

He slaps the table again, "social awkwardness of your adolescents" he laughs out. "I take it you've overcome those issues then?" Idiot, I think but do not respond. He was never the most competent of men and the alcohol will not have enhanced this. I will make an effort to maintain civility as I do not wish to be forcibly removed from this establishment by the ownership. This is John's favorite little coffee shop after all.

"Do you remember, Sherlock, the time we shagged?" He's chuckling again and my body tenses, despite my attempts to relax it. It is not a pleasant memory and one which I am unable to delete. "You were so bad, so scared? Were you a virgin, I never asked you?" The look on his face is absolute glee, but he isn't attempting to make fun of me. He appears to actually remember it fondly, genuinely curious about my answer. An answer he will not be getting.

"We will not be discussing that." I state simply. His face creases at that, thinking it over, confused, trying to determine if I have offended him in some way. Idiot.

I can't stop the flood of feelings that come at the memory of our sexual encounter. It had indeed been my first time and I imagine what I felt for Sebastian then had the potential to become love. I wanted greatly to please him even though he'd shown no real interest in me. That is unless, of course, he had been in need of something from me. I ignored this when he kissed me. I ignored it as he pushed his way inside of me without bothering to prepare me first, using only the lube that was already on the condom. It had been excruciating and I cried out. He'd simply pulled my hair and told me to love it.

His body collapsed on mine while I fought tears from the pain, but still happy he was there. He seemed to have enjoyed it. In the few moments before he stood up and left forever, I'd managed to convince myself it would be better next time. I would like it next time, sex was enjoyable, all of my research had stated as much. I was disgustingly pathetic.

He left though. He left me to work my way into the bathroom unable to stand properly. I had to clean myself up, the blood and the lube mixing with the soap in the shower. The burning as I forced the water over it. I couldn't sit down comfortably for two weeks and probably needed medical attention, but did not seek it. I'd been a willing participant, but I hadn't been the one who'd known things could be different. Thankfully, there had never been a next time.

All of it, every action, now stands in sharp contrast to my relationship with John. John, who without knowing my past, provided me with a soft, gentle, amazingly beautiful second sexual experience. John is still overly, sometimes to the point of being annoying, cautious and always generous, always enjoyable.

Sebastian is staring at me again and I can't immediately place it. His cheeks are more red, perhaps embarrassment. Maybe regret at how badly he treated me all those years ago. "Has anyone ever told you that you are beautiful?" He asks and continues before I can open my mouth. "Would you like to do it again sometime?"

Shock. This is has to be shock because it takes my brain a long moment to contemplate his words. I feel my face form into a snarl as I sit up straighter and prepare to eradicate him. But before I can move to remove the smug grin on his face there is a hand on my left shoulder. My initial reaction, probably because of the memories forced upon me and the anger I am feeling, is to shake it off. Then a thumb traces across my neck, sweeping behind my ear. It is a touch I'd know anywhere, John.

Sebastian's eyes move away from me to look at the man standing immediately behind me. I can feel John's weight as he leans into the back of my chair. I can smell him as his scent permeates my space. I take a breath in and hold it, calming instantly. John will know I was upset, he always does, but he is almost always diplomatic. He wouldn't have been if he'd knew my true history with Sebastian. I make a mental note to tell him, everything, on any night other than this one.

"Dr. Watson, right?" Sebastian asks holding out his right hand to John. I can see the pleasant smile on John's face even though I'm not looking at him, not friendly but pleasant. John's right hand brushes my shoulder and crosses in front of my face as he reaches to shake Sebastian's hand.

"John, please." He says and a stupid grin crosses Sebastian's face, eyeing my John. I stiffen even more at this, but now both of John's hands are on my shoulders and he squeezes them in one of his favorite "pacify Sherlock" gestures.

"John." Sebastian samples the name on his tongue as if he's never had the need to say that most common name in the world before. "Sherlock's colleague, right?"

"Not quite," John replies and I can hear the smirk in his voice.

His left hand drifts over my collarbone and down my chest. I know what he wants and reach my left hand up and intertwine our fingers. Even in a drunken stupor, Sebastian can't miss the light reflecting off our rings. It appears to be his time to suffer shock. John, being John, states the obvious. "Sherlock's husband actually, two years today."

I squeeze his fingers and he shifts placing a kiss onto the top of my head. Sebastian's jaw drops; I did not know that actually happened to people and almost laugh at him.

"Well," John fills the awkward silence. "Since I was running late, we are obviously running late on our evening. It was good to see you again Sebastian, but we must be going." John holds out his hand again. Sebastian takes it, barely, and lets go quickly. I know that my smirk now matches John's.

John breaks contact with me giving me room to push my chair back and stand. I do and reach out to lock our fingers again. "Evening Sebastian, I apologize for not enjoying the nostalgia as much as you, but my present is so much more enjoyable than my past."

"Evening" John adds without bothering to hide his pleasure at Sebastian's surprise.

Sebastian manages to nod, eyes completely glassed over with the combination of alcohol and confusion. Suddenly I pity him, he's not the 21 year old who took advantage of me all those years ago. He actually is barely a fraction of that horrible kid. I am Sherlock Holmes, the World's Only Consulting Detective and I am stupidly happy.

John pulls my hand and I meet my husband's eyes. He smiles, my smile, before he turns and leads me towards the door. I don't look back.

*The title comes from Half Light I by Arcade Fire.