Disclaimer : As usual, not mine

Without John

-John, can you hear me? John?

That was Sherlock's concerned voice. That thought filled John's heart with happiness, even though he knew, even before opening his eyes, that he was lying in a hospital bed. Which meant bad news. John was desperately trying to remember the chain of events that brought him there, a soft male hand grabbed his arm, forcing him to react. Sherlock's face was just in front of his when he opened his eyes. He looked exhausted, with a black eye and multiple scratches all over his face.

-John! You're finally awake.

Sherlock gave him a genuine smile before turning to the nurse next to him, who seemed more than a little annoyed.

-Told you he was awake. He just didn't want us to know. My guess is, he doesn't remember how he got here, and wanted to figure it out before letting us know!

Sherlock and his self-satisfaction whenever he could prove people wrong. John shone an apologetic smile on the nurse who rolled her eyes and left the room. Then he turned back to Sherlock.

-You're right of course. What happened?

Sherlock's smile vanished as he started to tell John how they had both escaped the explosion of Moriarty's bomb by jumping into the pool. He didn't give many details, and it wasn't necessary, since John's memories slowly came back. At the end, both men stayed silent for a while. John remembered it all too well now, how terrified he had been, for his life and for Sherlock's. He gave another look at his friend, noticing some bandage visible under his robe.

-How are you doing?

Sherlock frowned, as if that question had been a difficult one, and maybe it was, according to his personal logic. He nodded and suddenly looked oddly shy, as if there had been something he didn't dare to tell, not even to John. But before John could ask him about what seemed to bother him so much, the nurse came back in, bringing a doctor along with her, and Sherlock was forced to leave the room.

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A few days later, John was finally allowed to go back home. He'd already had two visits from DI Lestrade, for filling in the gaps intentionally left in his report by Sherlock. Lestrade knew better than to ask Sherlock if he had another way of getting answers. But behind the official pretext, John could see that the DI personally cared for him, and for Sherlock. That was of some comfort, especially since Lestrade had told him that Moriarty's body hadn't been found, nor any part of it. How could that man have managed to escape from his own bomb and leave before the police had arrived, when he and Sherlock had both been hurt in the explosion? Even though they'd suffer no serious injuries, they couldn't have escaped like that, had they wanted to. That criminal mastermind was a real challenge, even for Sherlock Holmes. At least, that would keep the man busy for some time, John thought to himself.

Sherlock had been sent home the day before, partly because he had managed to drive all the nurses crazy. John tried to call him and sent him several messages, but the man wasn't available to get his best friend out of the hospital, it seemed. He probably even didn't see how doing so would be nice, and John knew better than to be annoyed by such antisocial behaviour. He knew now for sure that despite everything Sherlock could say or do, the man did care. That whole Moriarty's thing had at least proven that, and John was glad to be of some importance for his friend.

He arrived at 221B Baker Street in the late afternoon. He lightly jumped up the stairs, grateful once more that Sherlock had cured his bad leg, and glad to go back to his new life full of adventures. The living room was dark and silent, so silent that John almost didn't notice Sherlock curled up on the sofa, gazing at him with burning eyes over his crossed arms. John's smile faded as he realised something was wrong.

-Hey, there! I'm back. Everything's al right, Sherlock?

The man on the sofa didn't move. John felt his discomfort change into fear.

-Moriarty...?

He felt his throat contracting as the name came out of his mouth.

-I knew he was going to use you as his next messenger.

-What...? Come on, Sherlock, it wasn't your fault.

Relief overwhelmed John. That was just normal guilt from the genius. Of course, Sherlock was upset, he didn't see it coming and wished he had. John walked to the kitchen, he wanted to do some tea for both of them. On his sofa, Sherlock still hadn't move. John took two cups and poured some hot water in.

"I knew he was going to use you", "I knew" : John suddenly realised what Sherlock really wanted to tell him. This wasn't an apology, nor a regret : This was a fact, and it just meant that his so-called best friend had used John with absolutely no regard to his life at all.

A cup full of hot water crashed on the floor and John stared at it with empty eyes, hands shaking. It took him an inhuman effort to rise his head and look at Sherlock. The air in the room suddenly felt like ice. John couldn't believe it. He didn't want to believe it. He stare in disbelief when Sherlock added with his far too calm voice :

-Sorry.

Somebody else might have lost it, yelling at the man on his sofa, maybe even punching him, destroying everything in the kitchen to let the whole universe know how upset he was, how hurt and desperately disappointed. But John just walked up to his room, feeling numb, he put all of his meagre belongings in his bag and let the room, and the flat, without a word, even ignoring Ms Hudson who had been worried by the noise of the crashing cup. She didn't seem to realise what kind of noise had just been avoided. Once in the street, John hailed a cab and gave his sister's address, feeling that he should have done that much sooner.

Ms Hudson saw Dr Watson leave with a big bag. The usually so polite young man didn't answer her worried questions, and totally ignored her. That was so unlike him that the landlady didn't even feel upset about it, just very curious. She cast a glance upstairs, but there was obviously nobody in the flat any more, no light filtered under the door, and it was all silent. Too bad, she'll have to wait until either man came back to satisfy her curiosity.

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The next morning, DI Lestrade arrived at 221B Baker Street early. The Irish police had given him a lead on Moriarty, and he felt that Sherlock and John had a right to know all about that case. As usual, he didn't bother to ring the entry bell, he just walked in and directly inside the flat. Sherlock was there, on the sofa, looking at the door as if waiting for him to come in. It startled Lestrade.

God, this is becoming really creepy, this way of foreseeing everybody's move. Like he's a psychic or something.

-Morning Sherlock. We have an Irish lead on Moriarty, thought you and John should know.

Lestrade waited for Sherlock's usual overexcited reaction, but nothing happened. The young man looked tired and pale in the morning's dime light.

-Did you hear what I just said? Are you coming or not?

Sherlock slowly move his limbs to stay, and Lestrade got the weird feeling that the man had been waiting there for a very long time.

-I'm coming.

When Sherlock passed him by to go out, Lestrade noticed how his clothes were unusually messy and his look stern. Damn Moriarty who'd manage to disturb even Sherlock Holmes like that. He followed him down the stairs, surprised that John wasn't joining them.

-Sherlock? Where's John? Shouldn't we call him?

Sherlock didn't even turn to answer. Lestrade heard a muffled " No need", and he assumed that John had taken some days off, which seemed like a good idea given the circumstances. He chose to ignore the part of his mind that felt there was something wrong about that, that John wouldn't leave Sherlock in a middle of a case.

The way to the police station was very quiet. Sherlock didn't even ask to use the blue lights, as he usually tried, to annoy the DI. At the station, Lestrade took the consultant detective to his office, where many pictures and documents about Jim Moriarty were pinned on the wall. Sergeant Donovan was waiting for them. Even though she was always against the mere idea of using a consultant, this time she couldn't deny the need to keep Sherlock informed about the case. She didn't seem overly happy to see the man, though. As soon as the door closed behind them, she turned to see Sherlock, and the traditional sneaky remark came out of her mouth.

-Where's your pet-friend? Did he finally get some sense and abandon you to your silly little games?

She didn't expect her words to have the slightest effect on the man. She'd known him for more than five years, and had never seen him upset in any situation, which was a big part of the reason why she disliked him so much.

Sherlock's reaction took both Donovan and Lestrade by surprise. He froze, and then turned back and hurried out of the station before either of them could react. When Lestrade turned to his sergeant, she was still staring at the door with her mouth wide open. It was a pretty funny picture, but the DI didn't feel like laughing. It stared angrily at her until she looked back at him and took the clue that it was time to leave. He couldn't really hold it against her, though. Sherlock and her had a history of fighting at crime scenes, and Lestrade couldn't see why things were different this time. Unless...

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Sherlock was upset. And he was even more upset to have shown how upset he was in front of Lestrade and Donovan. The sergeant hated him deeply, and she wouldn't miss the next opportunity to mock his lack of self-control. He was right outside the station, but he thought he could hear laughs coming from inside. He grab his hair with both his hands in an attempt to make it stop. It was stupid, really, he couldn't hear a thing. He was being irrational and stupid and sensitive like any other dull person in the world, and he hated that above all.

He had made John leave for a perfectly good reason, and in a perfectly efficient way, ensuring that the good doctor would not come back any time soon. He could picture him in his head, talking to his sister, explaining to her how Sherlock had betrayed him, even sharing a drink or two with her, which he hadn't been doing in years. Yes, he knew all about John Watson, as he has always known everything about everybody since as long as he could remember. (Ok, except maybe Mycroft, who was still a surprise on some rare occasions.) But he hadn't planned what would happen next, how deeply he would miss John, how life would seem even duller than usual without him. Sherlock's feelings hurt, and he didn't know what to do about that, since that never happened before.

Sherlock took a deep breath, trying to calm the turmoil of his thoughts. His head felt too light and his legs weren't steady. He felt dizzy, probably from the lack of food and sleep since a few days. He decided that he needed some tea with a lot of sugar, and then some drug. He hadn't been doing much since he had a room mate, not willing to seem weak or to disappoint John. He remember John's look during the drug bust, when the doctor had realised that he was, indeed, living with a junky. But John wasn't there any more, and Sherlock needed to clear his mind, so drug looked appealing again.

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DI Lestrade was exhausted. He'd been working in his office all day, trying to figure out where this Moriarty could be, what he was up to now, and he still didn't have a clue. The man was careful, and he seemed to have a whole organisation with him, which made it nearly impossible to solve the puzzle. Lestrade had to go home, now. He knew he wasn't useful any more. Almost everybody had left the station at least two hours ago, only Donovan was still there. Lestrade could see her, making phone calls and doing her best to obtain all the missing pieces of information. He hadn't talk to her after Sherlock disappeared, and he knew that she was feeling bad about what happened. She wasn't a bad person at all, rather a caring one, and she wouldn't hurt anybody intentionally. She just bore Sherlock a grudge, even more since he'd disclosed her private relation with Anderson. Lestrade could understand that, Sherlock was so insensitive at time. Making up his mind, the detective left his office and headed to Donovan's desk.

-Sergeant, I think it's time for both you and I to go home. Found anything yet?

Donovan shook her head with a sigh.

-That man is a ghost. Sorry, sir.

Lestrade gave her a reassuring smile.

-Don't worry, Sergeant, we'll find him.

Or at least, Sherlock Holmes will. Hopefully.

They probably both had the same thought, and Donovan looked like she wanted to say something but didn't dare to.

-And don't worry for Sherlock either, I'm sure he's fine.

Donovan smiled a little warmer at him, and he finally left the station. Sitting in his car, he wondered about Sherlock: That wasn't like him to let the police work alone on such an interesting case, a case he was already involved in. Maybe he should go to see if the young man was al right. But he was so tired... And he could picture Sherlock lying lazily on his sofa, a look of disdain on his face for anyone who would dare imagine that he needed help. No, not tonight. For once, DI Lestrade wanted to let M. Holmes alone and go back home.

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Sherlock was lying on the cold floor of his bathroom, his head as close as possible to the toilets. He felt hot and cold in the same time, and his whole body was shaking. Taking that much drug when you're not used to it any more, and on an empty stomach, that wasn't very smart, he realised now. He wanted to sleep, but knew there would still be a good hour or two before his body would allow that to happen.

At first, the drug had had a wonderful effect, making him feel high and powerful and far greater than all those dull people surrounding him. Just what he needed: To remember how great and smart he was. To forget all about Dr John Watson. Who would want the friendship of a mediocre traumatised soldier, anyway? A man who didn't have half his intelligence? What use was he to the great Sherlock Holmes, really?

But now, shaking and retching alone in his flat, Sherlock didn't feel that great any more. He would have liked somebody to take care of him, but that wasn't going to happen. Despite all his great intelligence, he just wasn't able to bond with anybody. And thinking about John's nice interest in him, Sherlock felt some tears on his cheeks. He closed his eyes, wishing to erase his pain and fell into oblivion. It worked.

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-Sherlock? Sherlock, are you here?

John was standing at the open door. There didn't seem to be anybody in there. The light was off, and he could see the usual mess of Sherlock's things here and there. Nothing out of the ordinary, not even the open door, since Sherlock had an habit of not closing it. Yet, something felt strange to John. He tried not to think of Moriarty, but of course he did. He hesitated on the doorstep, he wasn't living here any more, even if he technically still paid half the rent. There was a small noise upstairs, enough to get John's attention. He took the stairs up to his old room. There was light in the bathroom, probably where the sound had come from. John frowned, he didn't want to catch Sherlock half naked in there.

-Sherlock? It's me, John. We need to talk.

No answer, and no more noise at all. John opened the door. He froze as his mind didn't accept what he was looking at. Then his doctor's instincts took over, and he rushed to Sherlock's body, desperately searching for a pulse. There was one, however faint and too quick. Sherlock's skin was pale and sweaty, and his breath irregular.

It took all of John's energy to drag Sherlock's to his former bed. Calming down a little, John then made a full diagnosis of his friend's condition. Drug abuse, that much was obvious, but it wasn't an OD, thank God. There was nothing an hospital could do to help him than John couldn't, so he decided not to call for help. Instead, he put several warm blankets on Sherlock's body and settled as comfortably as possible in a chair next to the bed for what would be a very long night.

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The next morning, Sherlock woke up at once with a bad headache on the back of his head and an inextinguishable thirst. Before he could make a move, a helpful hand appeared with a warm cup of tea. He gratefully took it, and then almost dropped it when he saw John's concerned eyes staring down at him.

-No talking yet. You need to drink and rest a lot. I'll give you something to eat in a few hours.

John had his professional voice, and Sherlock didn't feel up to discuss. He fell asleep within minutes.

It wasn't until hours later that Sherlock finally woke up feeling much better. John lead him to the kitchen and both men had a meal together. They still hadn't talked, though, and the unusual silence between them started to become really uncomfortable. John was still looking at Sherlock with concerned doctor's eyes, and Sherlock was ashamed and slightly angry at John for coming back at such a bad time. At the end, it was John who broke the silence.

-So, do you want to tell me when you suddenly got so stupid?

Sherlock's anger rose, and his voice reflected it.

-What are you doing here, John? I thought you moved out recently. Was one drunker not enough for you?

John looked hurt at the insinuation, and Sherlock immediately regretted his outburst.

-Look, Sherlock, you're right. I left my sister, because I couldn't bear to watch her destroy herself like that, and I will leave if you start to do the same. I'm not going to witness you killing yourself with drugs.

-You already left, remember?

John sounded a little too dramatic to Sherlock's taste. He wanted nothing more than being left alone right now.

-Why did you come back anyway?

-Because you lied to me, Sherlock, and I was an idiot to listen to you. You didn't know that Moriarty was going to use me, you didn't have a clue. You just got scared when he escaped and you tried to get rid of me.

John smiled at Sherlock with that, such a nice smile that Sherlock had to look away. But he felt relieved, a big weight left his shoulders. He realised that he had hoped all along that John would understand and that he would come back.

-So, you're not such an idiot after all.

John's smile only got bigger, and then he laughed. A beautiful sound that Sherlock had missed so much in the last few days. He smiled too.

-Seriously Sherlock, I can do with high functioning sociopath, but not with drug addict. Do we have a deal?

John stretched his hand and Sherlock took it.

-Deal.

Both men shook hands, relief visible on their faces.

-Of course, a little well advised prescription doesn't count as drug. And neither do nicotine patches...

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DI Lestrade was on a new crime scene. Since nothing new concerning Moriarty had appeared, he had to goo back to his normal business. Even if there was nothing really normal about a crime, especially these one. He had called Sherlock for help, partly to make sure the consultant was al right.

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson arrived in a cab and confidently headed to the crime scene, despite a young officer who tried to stop them. Lestrade was in the room with Donovan at his side, while Anderson had already finished with the body. Sherlock didn't even take the time to greet them, he just went straight to the body, analysing everything on his way. John Watson stopped at the door and greeted both officers.

It took Sherlock ten minutes to find out everything he needed from the crime scene. He then turned to Lestrade, carefully avoiding to look at Donovan.

-Male, in his early thirties, head crushed with something very heavy, I'm guessing barbells of some kind. Look in the gym where he used to train, some jealousy of a man, probably over another man given that the victim is gay.

Lestrade looked surprised.

-No homophobia crime then, you're sure?

-No and yes, I'm sure. It was an easy one, really Lestrade, even you could have solved it at the end. Come on John, let's go.

Sherlock was already leaving, John following him with an apologetic smile to Lestrade, when Donovan joined them and caught Sherlock by his arms. He turned back to face her.

-Sherlock... Well, I'm glad you're back. Sort of.

To John's utter astonishment, Sherlock cast a bright smile at the sergeant, and she smiled back in return.

Minutes later, when both men were alone in the street, John was dying to ask Sherlock about Donovan, but he didn't know how. Sherlock suddenly stopped and said:

-The sergeant recently found out that I belong to the human species. End of story.

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Hope you liked it. Don't hesitate to tell me if you see something wrong with the language.

Sorry for the mention "in-progress" : It was a mistake, this story is over.