Mycroft was a near-constant presence in Sherlock's hospital room, regularly bringing the couple food, coffee, Mrs. Hudson's biscuits, and changes of clothes. Anthea was occasionally sent instead of Sherlock's brother himself, but it was more common to see the overweight, balding government official lounging nervously on a stiff chair, asking John what the various machines and read-outs meant, only to forget an hour later and have to ask again.

Sherlock's progress was phenomenal: his sheer force of will seemed to heal him faster than any medicine known to man, and his doctors were continually awed at how steadily he seemed to be knitting himself back together. John wasn't in the least bit astounded with his partner's recovery; neither was Mycroft. The enigmatic man lying in the bed, demanding various foodstuffs and whining about the lack of his violin, was surely the greatest act of God since the biblical Flood. Nothing – not a bullet in his femur, not a staph infection in the wound, not boredom induced rage – could stop him, not for long. John was only surprised at the fact that Sherlock had even been shot in the first place: surely a man with that much supernatural appeal could have been able to bend air to protect himself.

Sally Donovan did visit Sherlock's hospital bed several times over his two-week stay, to the initial chagrin and, later, acceptance of the patient. Within several days they were talking and laughing, almost like old friends, both having realized that beyond the initial hatred of each other, they had a surprising amount in common. Sally offered to take the pair paintballing next time she was able, suggesting it as an alternative to shooting holes in the wall when Sherlock was bored, and John eagerly grasped the idea as a way to prevent further damage charges on their rent.

There was a parade of others – Harry, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, Molly, Sarah, and even once, with a reproachful glare, Anderson – but mostly there was just a quiet, companionable silence between the two of them, John rubbing tender circles into the soft skin of Sherlock's upper arm as his most precious patient dozed. Sometimes they talked long into the night (Mycroft's sway having allowed John to stay indefinitely in the hospital suite); other times not a word passed between them for hours. There was unspoken agreement not to speak about Hank, the wound not yet scabbed over enough to probe with their thoughts.

The court case came and went – Lestrade had offered to provide transportation for Sherlock to join in the questioning, but John had whispered fervently into his cell phone not to even suggest such a thing – and the pair watched with a detached interest. The case, for Sherlock, was over: he had solved it, no further input involved. He had been right, of course, on everything. All 20 of the murder victims were accounted for, Harnot Andrew Farwether being sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, and loved ones of the trans men all over London and beyond were coming together to grieve and remember their partners, parents, children, siblings, and friends. There was talk of giving Sherlock a knighthood, again: the detective merely groaned, shutting his eyes as if ill.

After the media frenzy died down and Sherlock was cleared to go home, stocked up on medication and scheduled to the hilt with physical therapy, the two found themselves back in the companionable silence of 221B Baker Street: Sherlock stretched out on the couch, his plastered leg propped on the armrest, John at the desk, clacking away on his laptop. Suddenly the doctor stopped, shutting the computer with a snap.


The taller man set down his medical journal (a gift from Sally), sensing this would be a long talk. "John."

"Were you afraid?"

"Of course I was afraid, John," Sherlock replied dismissively.

"Why did you do it?" his partner asked, his voice soft, but with an undertone of hurt sucking at its edges.

"John, there's hearsay that the average transgendered person has a life expectancy of 26 years. I'm not sure if that's a real statistic – I've never seen the study it's apparently quoted from – but regardless, it's a sobering one. If so, I've outlived that by 8 years. And they have been an amazing 8 years: especially the last two."

John didn't attempt to hide his smile.

"I am at the zenith of my life, John. I have everything I require in this world: a steady source of income so I won't starve, an endless source of excitement in the job I made, and the love of my life, my constant companion and best friend. If I would have died then, my only regret would have been hurting you. But it was for justice. Always for justice. I live on stolen time, I live in the center of chaos: it would have meant something. That's all I can ask for in this world. To not be bored, and to mean something."

"At the risk of sounding cheesy. . . "

"You always sound cheesy. I should sell you off to the milkman."

John rolled his eyes, stealing over to sit beside the couch and rest his head against Sherlock's right hip. "Regardless. You mean the world to me, Sherlock."

"And you to me."

"It's okay. What we were worried about – it didn't happen. So I can be happy for that. Even if I am still a little angry at you for being so stupid and reckless."

Sherlock purred, a pantherine growl deep in his throat. "Too bad we can't have angry sex to make up for it."

"Quite. You and your stupid gunshot wound."

"Damn my leg!" Sherlock shouted, in a perfect parody of his partner.

John laughed uproariously, pulling Sherlock to his feet with consideration for his cast. "We might be able to manage anyway, you know."

"Ooh, a challenge. I prefer those."

"Air of excitement in the bedroom – always good."

"The game is afoot, John. You could write about it in your blog."

"I think not. But we need to use the bedroom. Mycroft-"

"Fuck Mycroft."

"Rather not."

"Me neither."

Sherlock grinned evilly, practically dragging John along as he thumped toward the bedroom. "Come along. We need to gather empirical data on the efficacy of orgasms while one partner is partially immobilized by a hard cast."

"With pleasure, Sherlock, always."