Hello! This fic is a kind of/emotional sequel to another fic I wrote "To Dispel My Nightmares" though I don't think it is entirely necessary to read that one first. Some themes touched upon in that fic carry over to this one (ie nightmares, Sherlock's return, fear of each other's death). Also, there's a very slight reference to Chapter 1 of "Who Knew?" in case anybody's curious.

For those who haven't read "To Dispel My Nightmares," this fic takes place around 6-7 months after The Great Hiatus aka the-three-years-everyone-thought-Sherlock-was-dead.

Many thanks for reading and please, please, please for the love of riding crops and coats of swish, review.

After: a BBC Sherlock Fanfic

After Moriarty and Moran had perished, things seemed to return to normal. Well, as normal as they could get at 221b.

But really they weren't.

After something like that, a relationship changes, morphs, alters, transforms. As corny as it sounds, nothing is really the same again.

For me, it's like a second chance. I thought I had lost him, but now I haven't. Turns out I never really lost him in the first place.

And, in essence I guess, Sherlock is still Sherlock. I come home to head(s) in the fridge. We giggle at crime scenes. The skull is grinning on the shelf, eyes stuffed with "important papers" (a three year old mobile phone bill and an coupon for Cornish Pasties).

Yet...the flat seems cleaner. The hurricane that is Sherlock's living space seems like a bit more organized whirlwind in a silent gesture of leaving some space for me. The body parts in the fridge seem to be less in number and squashed well away from the food. The skull is in a more fixed in position rather than popping up random places as previously (previously, I'd wake up to the skull on the table, the skull in the cupboard, the skull on the bathroom sink, the skull in the bed instead of Sherlock etc). Sherlock picks me up from work sometimes, whisks me away on real dates, takes time out of this train of thought on a case to ask if I'm hungry, if I'm sleepy, if I want to rest.

Then there's the man himself. Physically, he seems thinner, tighter than he was before. Like a old elastic band stretched taunt and cracking. When he first came home, he was like a sharp bag of bones really, very tense and looming over others. Then he'd slowly gotten to be more normal, contracting in relaxation only to become stretched again when his nightmares started. But I hope to turn it around: calm him down, make him less nervous. We've got each other now.

Besides the physical, Sherlock is more emotional now, or at least letting the emotion he's always had show. He's a cold fire, like dry ice, a galaxy star, a fiery comet. On a case Before, he'd shoot off and dance about our reality, connecting the points to create whole theories and present us with a new constellation, a new truth. Now he seems more subdued but somehow more...dangerous. There's a glint in his smoky eyes to hide a past haunted desperation, a smoldering furnace of fire willing to engulf the criminal and everything around him or her until their existence has been burned away entirely. If they push him too far, it will come out. The rubber band will snap and hit their fingers, eyes, heart.

One time it did.*

I still shudder to think of it despite the incident's happy conclusion.

Then there's the physical aspects of our relationship. The first two weeks after he'd come back, we couldn't stop touching each other. It was like floating in a dream, the only thing mattering was that the one object of your dreaming was there. So we held hands walking. On the couch our favorite arrangement was on top of each other cuddling or with Sherlock lying his feet on my lap and me drawing absent designs on his calf as we watched telly. He would be at the table looking at something or other in his microscope and when I'd walk by he'd lean back into my passing form or I'd reach out to stroke the cool nape of his neck with my warm fingers. It was all so quiet, so peaceful, everything was so whole like it hadn't been in a long time. The little cracks in our remembrance of each other filling up again, spilling over in warm happiness. We didn't need to talk that much, even when we went out. The touch let me know he was there.

The dream, however pleasant, ended not with an almighty crash but a slow leaking away. The touches became more conscious, more insistent. We were getting bored, so Sherlock and I started on cases again. We were a bit apprehensive: we were courting danger (again) after all, but the initial uneasiness flowed away and we were back to ourselves. From before The Hiatus. Mostly.

Then Sherlock, in seeming replacement for bringing down Moriarty, started taking cases that would bring down the mob. The mob is considerably less dangerous than Moriarty ever was: in the criminal world, a network like Moriarty's comes once every hundred years with that big, glowing spider of a genius pulling all the tiny strings to weave the world as he or she wishes. We squashed that spider (Thank God and good riddance, the twat bugger). The mob, however, as Sherlock explained, is organized and longer lasting, not all the chips in one basket. A new challenge for consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and trusty sidekick doctor soldier John H. Watson.

Accordingly then, the cases became more life-threatening. Which sparked the nightmares and, correspondingly, the new inferno in Sherlock.

When will we stop? When will we stop being so frightened of losing each other, the very thought making our eyes sting, our breath contract, our adrenaline run? They say that old couples find peace, that they eventually are so at home with one another and themselves and the world that if one dies, the other is grieved, but doesn't twist, doesn't alter, doesn't die, so to speak. I've been through it once, but Sherlock never, really. He's been without me, certainly: more times than I've liked. But I've always been retrievable. Never gone for good. What would that be like for the man sleeping next to me as I type this?

"I'll obviously never let that happen," he said.

John started, the laptop bouncing in his lap to accent his surprise. He looked down at Sherlock, who had cracked an eye open to stare up at him. "Right. How long have you been awake?"

"Nearly a half-hour, I suspect." The detective smiled and closed his eye again, rolling onto his side to snuggle closer to John's legs. He wrapped his long arms around John's waist and tugged insistently. "Come back to bed. It's too early on a Sunday to do anything productive."

John chuckled, "You're like a cat." He put the laptop on the floor beside the bed and slipped under the covers once again, nuzzling into Sherlock's chest. He closed his eyes and took steady breaths in and out, enjoying the moment and the warmth and the smell of Sherlock.

"Mmmmmm," Sherlock said, arms wrapped around John. He decided the best idea right now was to tuck John's head under his chin and to run his fingers up and down the back of the ex-solider's neck to tease the tiny hairs there. Sherlock opened his eyes and looked at the opposite wall unseeingly, thinking.

Then: "I die first. I still refuse to live without you now that I have you."


"That's a new rule I've just created. You always give me rules, so now I'll give you one. Just the one."

"Yeah I give you rules because acid next to the cabbage and eyeballs next to the stew meat will make you sick. You can't tell me to not save you."

"Double negative."

"Fuck you and your grammar."

"Please do."


In a burst of energy, Sherlock pulled away from John and flipped him on his back. He placed his hands on either side of the other man's head and loomed length-wise over him. His eyes were aquamarine fire, boring holes into the brown-blue earth ones below. For a moment the detective was all alien sharp angles and white with messy curls dipping down like Medusa's snakes. John's mouth went dry.

The deep baritone seemed to boom down to him like distant thunder. "John, I'm being serious. You must have noticed. You must have. I can't function without you. It has to be you. You must always be the one that survives. The storyteller always survives. If you're gone then I won't be solving cases or saving anybody else ever again. That argument is null. Everything won't matter because I couldn't save you."

John's mouth was hanging open by the end of it, but he still managed a weak, "Double negative."

Sherlock groaned and sank softly down to rest on top of John, his arms still framing John's head and his ear pressed on John's chest at the exact spot you could best hear the heartbeat. "You bastard. Look what you've done to me. You made me use improper grammar."

"And made you feel like most teenagers with their first crush."

Sherlock's body stiffened momentarily, assessing the statement. John laughed and Sherlock, despite worrying if he was just insulted or not, still felt a ping of pleasure at his ability to both hear and feel the laughter roll through John's chest. "These are my real feelings, John. Please don't laugh at them."

John quieted and bent a little to kiss the top of Sherlock's head. He could feel a pout coming on. He turned his head a little to rest his cheek against one of Sherlock's arms, nuzzling his nose into the skin so to breathe in Sherlock's scent. John then began to swirl circles into Sherlock's back, lazily and seemingly automatically, drifting his hand here and there.

"I know, Sherlock. I know."

* See "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" for a canon version or, for a fanfic version, see the end of ABakerStreetIrregular's "Tea?" for my favorite fanfic version of the event.

I'm sorry for all the references to other fics...everything got all connected in my brain. Thanks again for reading and please review! Your opinion matters to me! =D