Warnings – Some post drunken unpleasantness, but nothing too disgusting. And once again, I tried to use arse, but, I just can't do it so it says ass.

I dreamt of Jamie.

We were at Bastion, but it was deserted. Not like everyone had packed up and gone home, but as if they were wiped out of existence. Cars were in the middle of roads, there were bags and boots just laying everywhere.

Jamie was leaning against a jeep across the street from me. His arms were crossed, sunglasses on. He looked the same as he always did.

We stared at each other across the small distance.

"You're dead." I said.

"You're not." He replied.

"But I should be."

"You're angry about that? Angry that you and I were shot at the same time and only one of us lived? And it was you?"

I shake my head ready to disagree, but he disappears. I know he's dead. It hurt, again.

The first thing I became aware of was the throbbing in my head. The second thing I became aware of was the fact that I was going to be sick.

I was on my stomach. I pushed up and leaned over. I saw the bucket and aimed in the split second before my body seized violently. The smell of stomach acid and alcohol filled the space around me. It only lasted a moment, but it was horrible.

I collapsed back down and released a groan that managed to resonate through my body and my throbbing head for different reasons. I closed my eyes intent on going back to sleep, but the spinning began. I opened them and focused on the wall across from me.

I was surprised that I wasn't looking at the wall of the bedroom, but at the bookcase. I was on the couch. Why was I on the couch? I struggled to bring up memories from the previous night, but couldn't. The last thing I remembered was Sherlock having to drag me up the stairs. He'd been trying to get me to move my legs; I'd been under the impression that they were moving. I remembered hitting the floor and Sherlock groaning.

"What an ass." I mumbled to myself, feeling the shame of indulgence sweeping over me.

I shifted as soon as my insides felt stable and let my gaze move about the room. There were two glasses of water on the table next to a plate of Ritz biscuits, Alka-Seltzer, and ibuprofen. I reached for a biscuit and rolled over. The move made my head ache, but thankfully the nausea seemed gone.

At the other end of the coffee table sat a phone. I recognized it as mine, before remembering that it couldn't be mine. Mine was in a thousand pieces somewhere. I reached for it, it was the exact same phone I'd had, just a newer model. I turned it on and sorted through the screens, all the apps were there in the correct places, all the phone numbers seemed to be there, and the pictures that I'd manage to back up onto the computer were back on the phone. Except for case photos, he hadn't reloaded the case photos.

There was a notice that I had a waiting text message, I opened the feature and read.

"Doing the paperwork. See you later? – SH"

I stared at the small screen, trying to keep it in focus. I was pretty sure he was asking me, in Sherlockian, if I was leaving him. Had I really scared him that badly? What had I said? I rubbed a hand over my eyes and settled deeper into the couch. I also could have been wrong. I was feeling far from clever.

The post-mortems were still very clear in my mind; the thought of Emily still causing a twinge of pain in my chest. But sleep had worked its magic and taken the edge off. I knew she'd stay with me, but it would be manageable. Like the others.

But Sherlock, I was furious with Sherlock. Sleep and alcohol seemed to have focused it. The things he'd said. That he'd dared to say. To me. I knew we'd have to talk, set some different ground rules.

But even being furious, I couldn't imagine leaving him. It might have killed me. But things were going to have to be different. I noticed my hands were fisted, one around the phone just like the previous day. I forced my body to relax.

I sat up and tried to ignore the swishing feeling in my head. I quickly downed three ibuprofen and the two glasses of water, feeling better as soon as the liquid hit my throat. I ate a couple more biscuits and stared at my new phone. I needed to reply, knowing as soon as I did he would come home. I had no doubt he had left to do the paperwork, but he wouldn't come home until he'd heard from me. Until I told him it was ok.

I sighed and opened the text feature again. "We'll talk about it when you get here." I responded. That answered his question, kind of.

I tossed the phone on the table, grabbed the bucket, and headed towards the bathroom. I didn't want to smell like alcohol anymore.

I wondered where he was waiting, because I wasn't in the shower for 10 minutes before I heard the door open. I wished he'd waited for me to finish, but I rolled my eyes and pushed the curtain back to look at him. His arms were crossed and he was leaning against the counter.

I was suddenly hit with the image of Jamie from my dream, leaning against the jeep. It startled me and my breath caught. Sherlock straightened, alarmed at my reaction. I shook my head pushing the image away. I looked up at his face; he'd see I was alright. I watched his concern for me fade from his features, only to reveal the fear and uncertainty beneath it. And a second later the mask of indifference was firmly in place. His fingers where white where they were gripping his arms, he couldn't hide everything.

I was pleased to see that he had at least gotten some sleep. The dark circles were lightened and the eyes no longer bloodshot.

"I'll be done here in a minute." I said, letting the curtain close. "Did you finish your paperwork?"

"Naturally." He responded. "Lestrade was particularly tedious." I heard him draw in a deep breath. "Are you leaving me John?"

Always right to the point, I was annoyed. "Can I finish my shower Sherlock? I feel like I've been hit by a train. I'd like to feel like a human again before we get into this."

I heard his footsteps. He pushed the curtain back to stare at me, his eyes darting up and down, reading me. I stood still and let him. "It's a simple question?" He stated, unable to keep the tension from his voice.

I stood straighter in the shower, "Is that really what you're going with? Let's insinuate, yet again, that John is an idiot?" I paused and watched surprise cross his face. He'd clearly meant no such thing. "It's a simple question?" I said his words back to him and added. "Even you should be able to answer it."

"I…That isn't what…" his mouth opened and closed, unsure. "I didn't mean…"

"Fine." I say trying to calm my voice again. "It might be a simple question, but maybe the answer isn't. So can I finish my shower, please?"

He nodded, looked me over one more time, and was gone. I heard the door close behind him. I should have felt guilty. I knew I wasn't leaving, but he could wait.

He was sitting on the couch when I walked into the living room. I noticed there were two cups of tea sitting in front of him. I grabbed the one that was mine and settled in my chair.

He sat forward on the couch, elbows on his knees, waiting for me.

"Don't you think you are the one who should be starting this conversation?" I said taking a sip, it wasn't sweet enough, per usual.

Even that panged on my nerves, we'd only lived together 14 months. I knew how he liked his tea, coffee, and just about everything else. He couldn't bother to learn my preferences. I opened my mouth, but swallowed the words down. That was petty, and even as angry as I was I recognized that. He'd tried and it was the thought that counted. Instead of snapping I said, "Isn't there something you'd like to say to me."

He looked confused for a moment. I imagine that the whirlwind of emotions that had crossed my features in those split seconds before hadn't helped him to get his footing. He probably wanted to say that he'd tried in the bathroom and it had blown up in his face and that I should lead the way. I wanted something specific though, and given a moment he would figure it out. I waited.

I watched the realization cross his face. "I'm sorry." He said finally. "Surely, you know that. You also must know that I didn't mean any of what I said. I was…annoyed." His face was still neutral, but he was fighting to keep it that way.

"Apologizes aren't understood, Sherlock. They need to be stated. And you weren't annoyed, you were frustrated." I paused. "And you attacked me because of it. You didn't just yell to alleviate your frustration. I wasn't your sounding board. I was your enemy. You attacked me." I didn't bother to hide my anger, but I kept the volume low.

Pain flashed across his face, but he didn't flinch away. I knew his instinct was to run. There was nothing he disliked more than me upset.

"I didn't mean it." His voice was quiet, but his eyes didn't waiver from mine. "Not a word of it. You are not stupid. I wouldn't love you so much if you were. I just…I…I couldn't figure it out." I was surprised by the admission of weakness. Usually, it would have been enough to make me cave. But I still had more to say.

"I know that. I know you were struggling, but that doesn't somehow make it acceptable. I don't mind listening. I don't mind dealing with the frustration. I don't even mind the yelling. I do mind that you attacked me. ME." I pointed at my chest to emphasis my point. He looked away from me, focusing on the wall.

That made me want to raise my voice, but I took a deep breath and continued as I had been. Nothing would be gained if I lost my temper. "You asked me to do those post-mortems. You knew I didn't want to do it, and that it might bother me. But you asked me, so I did it. Then you belittled me for it. I was tired and upset and you berated me. I didn't deserve that."

He turned his head around looking at me again, eyes glowing. "I know that. I am sorry. Tell me how to make it better. Tell me what to do and I'll do it. I love you. Just don't go."

I stared at him. He looked horrible, but was deadly serious. He thought I was about to walk out the door and was prepared to do whatever I asked to prevent it.

He'd solved the case like I'd asked and then found me. He got me home safe, took care of me, and bought me a new phone. And he'd actually apologized, twice. All the while afraid that he'd finally pushed me away. I felt myself relax and watched him relax in response. I wasn't angry anymore, even if I still wanted to be.

"Why did you think I was leaving?" I wondered what I had said. I'd been pretty pissed at him.

He frowned at that, his cheeks taking on a slight pink hue. He was embarrassed. "You've never stormed away before and I was researching it." I groaned and sat back in my chair. "A woman said her husband always spoke condescendingly to her so she finally walked out on him."

"Sherlock, stop it. We've gone over this before. There are no universal rules or actions in relationships. I need you to trust me, and trust in me."

"I do," his words were suddenly loud. "I just…"

"Just stop it." I said, interrupting. "I'm not leaving." He let out a sigh. "Now, back to the issue at hand, I need you to promise me that you will never, ever speak to me like that again." He was nodding before I finished the sentence.

"Of course." He replied, looking relieved. "It will never happen again." This being Sherlock I was certain that it wouldn't. He'd probably rewired his brain to self-destruct if the urge to speak to me in that fashion ever arose again. The image made me smile.

"I want to apologize for what I said to…" He held up his hand and stopped me.

"Please don't. You have nothing to apologize for. I deserved everything that you said and more." I nodded and was about to stand and go over to him when he spoke again. "Can I make a request?" He asked.

I stopped moving and nodded. He took another deep breath. He seemed nervous about asking. "Please don't ever leave like that again and if you do, stay in range of the cameras. I didn't know where you were, you didn't have your phone. I couldn't find you. I had to call Mycroft and use what we could of the CCTV and then I resorted to calling places all along the direction you were headed. It took hours."

Hours? I couldn't quite make the concept of hours work with my time in the pub, but I believed him. I'd had entirely too much to drink.

"I promise." I said.

"And," he continued. "If I ever ask you to do something and you don't want to do it, please say so. You are invaluable to me on the cases; I hope that you know that. But it pales in comparison to your importance in my life. No case or puzzle is worth that. I can't guarantee that it won't annoy me, on occasion, if you refuse, but always know that you can. Just tell me to shut up if I get too pushy or maybe we can develop a scale of importance. Then we would both know where the other stood on issues." He perked up at that.

Sherlock loved to create a rating system. We'd already established ones for television viewing, restaurants, food and drink in general, and danger associated with experiments. I'm also fairly certain that he had a secret one, rating enjoyment on everything from touching to sexual position, for both of us.

Though, all of Sherlock's rating systems had one fatal flaw. "You'll just rate it higher to guilt me into doing it." I said, "The same way we never eat what I want to. How a restaurant, that I know you love, will suddenly be ranked so low because you want something else. " There was no harshness in my voice and I knew the smirk on my face would relay that it didn't make me angry.

He frowned though, and I wondered if it was because I'd figured it out or because I'd called him on it. He finally nodded accepting the flaw in his plan.

"It's just that...that…" he looked towards the floor. "That look, on your face." He cringed at the memory. "I don't ever want to see that again. Ever. It hurt me."

I stood and moved to stand between his legs. He buried his face in my hip, one arm settled around my thighs, the other on my lower back. His hand worked under my shirt and his index finger settled into the dimpled birth mark on my back. It hadn't given the mark more than a second thought my whole life, but Sherlock had latched onto it. It was his security blanket to make sure that I was ok. I couldn't say that I minded.

He took a deep breath and held it, savoring me.

I wrapped one hand into his curls, they needed to be washed, and the other between his shoulder blades rubbing small circles.

"I will let you know if something makes me uncomfortable in the future. Ok?"

He nodded, face not moving from my hip, but he did tighten his arm around my thighs.

We stood like that for a long moment before he turned his head so I could hear his words. "I don't know if you want to know this." He paused. "But it would have taken a lot longer to solve the case if you hadn't been in those post-mortems. The fight helped me find the others."

I was surprised, I surely didn't feel like I'd contributed anything useful, but then I didn't stick around for the solution either. "How?"

He settled his chin into my hip so that he could look up at me. "You pointed out that they'd all had surgery in the last two years. The other girls had surgeries dating back farther. She found them through the NHS. She took 15 year olds because her daughter was 15 when she killed herself. She tried to recreate their relationship."

Somehow knowing the solution didn't make me feel any better. Three girls were still dead, five traumatized, probably for the rest of their lives. I was glad that I'd helped though. Glad all the drama we'd gone through had a purpose other than us understanding each other better. Glad the pulsing headache that was returning hadn't been in vain.

"I'm glad you found them." I replied, not wanting to discuss it further. I traced his ear with my thumb. "Thank you for the phone, by the way."

He beamed at that, glad that I'd appreciated it. He really did enjoy making me happy.

"I'm going back to bed for a bit. Do you want to come?" He beamed even more with a sultry look crossing his face. It made me smile.

"I have a pounding headache, dear." I smirked. His face fell. The disappointment was genuine the sulk was feigned. I traced his ear again, his eyes fluttered. "I need some more sleep, so do you."

He frowned. "Can we have sex when you wake up?" He asked. I just shook my head.

"I'll make you a deal. If you come with me to get some more sleep, we'll have make-up sex when WE wake up."

He pretended to think it over. "Deal." His right hand came up and he offered it to shake. I did so and used it to pull him up. He invaded my space for a moment before placing a kiss on my forehead and moving past me. I followed him down the hall.

He stripped down and looked at me expectantly to follow suit. I did, tossing my sweats on top of the chair to be put back on later.

I lay on my back and he snuggled up right beside me, one arm draped over my waist and one leg resting between mine. He placed a kiss against my temple as I adjusted the blankets around us. Then I shoved my arm under his neck so he could rest his head on my shoulder. We were clearly practiced in the maneuvers, settling against each other with ease, the presence of the other familiar and welcome. I placed a kiss into his hair.

"I love you." I finally said. He just squeezed me tighter in response. It was enough.

I closed my eyes and silently wished for peaceful dreams. The previous two days having provided a breeding ground for nightmares.

Sleep had just been dancing on the outskirts of my mind when Sherlock spoke again.


"hmmmm." I kept my eyes closed hoping to fight off full wakefulness.

"Chopin was her favorite composer." I opened my eyes. Non sequiturs tended to do that to me.

"What?" I tried to see him, but he wouldn't lift his head from my shoulder.

"Emily Harper. Her favorite composer was Chopin." Unexpected. I tensed beside him, having absolutely no desire at all to talk about Emily, especially while in bed with Sherlock.

"Sherlock…" I started. He interrupted, tightening around me once again having noticed the tension.

"She studied the piano exclusively, but her favorite work was Cello Sonata in G Minor. A beautiful piece actually. I have it in my iPod we can listen to it whenever you'd like." He paused. "I can play it, but it loses something on the violin. She was apparently an excellent pianist and probably would have succeeded if things had been different."

"Sherlock." I'm more emphatic this time. "Why are you…"

"I want you to let me carry her, John. For you. You have too many and I never want there to be one because of me." He tightens even more, completely serious. "I promise I won't delete her, I'll keep her forever. I can't promise that I'll have dreams about her, but I'll think about her on her birthday and the day she died. I'll think about her when I hear Chopin or piano concertos. I'll play them for her and regret that she can no longer play them herself." His voice was pleading. "Please."

I was stunned, shocked to the point of silence. It doesn't work like that, no matter how much I wish it did. But it was, without a doubt, the single nicest thing anyone had ever tried to do for me. My heart swelled and my throat tightened at the gesture.

"I'd carry them all if I could." He added in a whisper.

I pulled on his hair slightly to get him to look at me. He did, reluctantly.

"Thank you." I said with every ounce of sincerity I had. I swallowed past the lump in my throat, I knew he'd notice. "I know you would, but I would never wish that on you. They're my demons. And I can't promise that I'll never think of Emily, I can't turn it off. But I…"

"Please try." He interrupted, again. "I…I don't like it that you hurt sometimes. You're honest and kind; you don't deserve that." His eyes were piercing and sincere. I was very aware that I'd earned my demons, the people and the events. They were mine to carry. I didn't want to argue that point with Sherlock though, especially as his offer was genuine.

Instead I kissed him, soft and sweet. I mumbled an "I'll try" against his lips before he pulled back. He wanted to make sure I was serious. Finding what he needed he settled his head back on my shoulder and snuggled against me.

I closed my eyes and was surprised how quickly sleep approached again. It had almost overtaken me when an image from the previous night popped into my head.

"Sherlock?" He popped up instantly meeting my eyes. Curious.

"Can we go to New Orleans?" I asked, simply, not wanting to explain.

He frowned, confused for a moment but nodded his head. "We can go anywhere you want." He answered. "Except Dubai, we can never go there." He paused. "And honestly, Las Vegas should probably be avoided."

I laughed at that, it hurt my head, but felt wonderful. It had been too long since I'd laughed. Sherlock looked down at me pleased at the noise and at himself for causing it.

He kissed my shoulder before settling his head back against it. "When do you want to go? May I suggest we avoid Mardi Gras?"

"Absolutely," I said. "And soon. I've just…"I didn't know how to explain it. "I think I'd like it there."

The slight nod let me know he accepted that. Silence fell around us and I closed my eyes. I didn't push the sleep away.

I dreamt of Sherlock.

A/N – Thanks, once again, to ScopesMonkey for allowing me to borrow Jamie. And just as I promised I'm returning him in the exact same condition he was in when I borrowed him, dead.