Take all the courage you have left

John remembers Sarah inviting him to move in temporarily until the work in the flat is finished (and when did it even go from just fixing the windows to a full refit?); he does not, however, remember her inviting Sherlock to move in.

Which does, sort of, to some degree, explains why The Skull is sitting on the side table next to her sofa. John could assume that it got mixed up with his things when they were sorting through the burnt debris and leftovers of their belongings scattered around, but it's Sherlock's Skull and—

"Your day was tedious I presume," Sherlock says towelling his wet hair as he walks into Sarah's living room and then past a very incredulous John and into the kitchen. "Did you pick up the milk?"

-wherever The Skull goes, Sherlock goes.

John frowns because his day was tedious and he did pick up the milk and what the fuck is Sherlock doing here.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" John says, as he joins Sherlock in the kitchen and dumps the Tesco bag on the counter.

"I bought nicotine patches," Sherlock begins and John can feel his eyebrows raising because Sherlock actually paid for something. Either way, it's probably a euphemism, "and then I conducted three experiments using-"

John cuts him off because he cannot handle this anymore and all his stress translates into a lot of arm waving, "No, Sherlock. What are you doing here? You don't live here!"

Sherlock looks at him like he's an idiot, "Don't be absurd John; of course I live here—only temporarily though; just until the flat is renovated."

John does the only sensible thing he can think of: he locks himself in the bathroom and calls Sarah.

"He's what?" She hisses down the phone line and John is suddenly very glad that it's Sherlock she's angry with and not him.

John coughs and very pointedly does not look at all three toothbrushes in the glass by the sink, "Maybe, he might have moved in with us."

"Well unmove him in with us," Sarah says in a tone that leaves no room for arguing, "surely he has somewhere else to go?"

"I'll ask him."

Sarah sighs, because when she signed up to be John Watson's girlfriend; she did not sign up to be the full time carer of his flatmate. Her mother taught her not to put up with bullshit.

"So," John says as he shuffles back into the kitchen where Sherlock is stirring milk into his tea and has placed a tomato on the counter. "How long do you think you'll be staying?"

Sherlock raises an eyebrow, "Really John; I just told you: it doesn't bear repeating."

"Oh yeah," John mutters, "not before then?"

Sherlock doesn't say anything, but rolls the tomato his way.

"Erm, thanks," John says, picking it up suspiciously, because he's lived with Sherlock for a while now and food isn't always food at the best of times, "what's this for?"

"You're obviously constipated," Sherlock says because he is one nosy, nosy man and John wants to shake him until he sees sense and moves out of Sarah's tiny one person flat and into one of the gazillion safe houses or just, you know, houses that he's about 70% certain Mycroft has stashed all over London. "Why else would you be in the toilet for so long and not flush?"

John really can't think of anything to say to that that doesn't involve the truth and so, weaves his way around the millions of boxes (how does Sherlock even have this much stuff when most of their possessions got blown up) that are everywhere, to leave the room.

"Are you going for another try?" Sherlock calls after him, "because you left your tomato."

John ends up calling Mycroft, because Mycroft is the one Holmes brother who actually has common sense.

"He's not going to take anywhere I offer," Mycroft says, sounding like the smug bastard he is and is probably sitting in an office which is twice the size of Sarah's flat. John hates him on principal alone at this point, "I'm his arch enemy, remember? You're both stuck with him for the foreseeable future."

"You're an awful brother," John says, "and an even more appalling human being." He presses the end call button with more force than strictly necessary to the sound of Mycroft laughing (in a dignified manner, no less) at him.

When John gets back into the sitting room/kitchen thing he finds Sarah and Sherlock watching Cash In the Attic, both of them trying to guess how much each item will sell for at auction. Predictably, Sherlock gets it right most of the time.

He shoots Sarah a look saying what are you doing? I thought you wanted him gone and she shrugs a, what can you do and plays with an expensive looking diamond necklace she didn't have on this morning when she was leaving for work.

John needs a drink. There has to be alcohol in one of those boxes, right?

(Sherlock later tells him that their conversation went like this:

"Sherlock—you're lovely and everything but you can't live here; there simply isn't enough space."

"But, Sarah—"

"I'm sure Molly would gladly offer up her flat. Don't you have a brother?"

"Well, I mean I had bought these diamonds as a thank you for your generosity, but it looks like I'll have to return them now."

"Stay as long as you need, sweetie.")

#####################################

John wakes up because Sarah's digging her toes into his ankles and is whispering angrily in his ear: "I swear to God that if you don't shut him up; I will."

John focuses from the half asleep/half awake state he's in and then hears Sherlock playing the violin. Loudly. He doesn't need to open his eyes to know that it's probably about three in the morning or that Sarah is ready to commit murder. He can't blame her.

"Go for it." He mutters and then pulls the pillow over his head because Sherlock has a case and he spent all of last night looking at the dead body of a gang leader.

The pillow is then removed and Sarah hits him with it because she can. "He's your friend—you have to tell him."

"I am very happy sleeping through this," John says face down, and mostly to, the mattress. Sarah elbows him in the ribs until he gets up and out of the bed.

"Sherlock," John mumbles from the bedroom doorway because he's very much feeling like he's stuck between a rock and a hard place, or in this instance: a woman with very sharp elbows and a man with a violin bow, "can you stop with the violin playing?"

Sherlock looks up from the nest- conglomeration-thing that used to be Sarah's sofa and that looks someone attempted to transmute it into a lab but gave up half way, "it helps me process. Give me ten more minutes."

Sarah walks in at this point and makes her away, around all the boxes still on the floor, across the living room to the kitchen.

"Sarah—you're awake?" Sherlock says in that way he does when he's pretending to be a normal person and not someone who John wants to kill, eviscerate or defenestrate on a regular basis.

Sarah eyes the knifes on the worktop as she sips her glass of water and John intervenes before this turns into one of those epic showdowns and no-one (read: him) will get to sleep, mostly because they'll be too busy killing each other. It probably wouldn't be quiet either. "How about you do this when we go to work in a couple of hours?"

Sherlock eventually acquiesces and then Sarah's hissing at him again when they're finally back in bed: "This is why I didn't want him living here!"

"Yet he bought you a diamond necklace and you change your mind?" John mutters sleepily because, damnit, he is tired.

"Shut up," Sarah rolls over and takes most of the quilt with her. John finds he can't summon the energy to pull some of it back his way, "no-one's ever bought me diamonds before."

#####################

"How did you even know where we were staying?" John says one evening when Lestrade knocks on the front door with Sherlock in hand.

"I'm the police," Lestrade offers as an answer and pushes Sherlock into the flat.

"Well going by that reasoning you'd know absolutely nothing then," Sherlock snipes and shrugs his coat off, leaving it one of the many boxes still crowding up Sarah's flat. John hopes he's bought her more diamonds.

Lestrade sighs wearily because he's been dealing with Sherlock all evening. "Just... breaking and entering? Especially private property; warehouses. People sue. He's not above the law, you know."

John wonders why people give him instructions about Sherlock's behaviour because if anyone knew them at all; they'd know Sherlock does what he wants and doesn't give a damn about what anyone says.

So he says: "I'll remind him." Because he's the one out of the two of them that actually has manners and then thanks the detective for bringing Sherlock home.

#######################################

"What's he doing here?" Sherlock says petulantly one day after they get back to Sarah's from Boots and John frowns, really frowns, because if anyone should be asking that question, it really should be him. Or Sarah.

Mycroft looks up from where he was admiring the juxtaposition between the two TV remotes and Sherlock's skull on the side table. "I just came to see how you two were coping." He smirks and John tries to be a good person and not punch him, because Mycroft probably has stupid secret ninja training or his umbrella does and John is not an idiot because he's learnt to expect the unexpected when it comes to the two Holmes brothers.

Sherlock rolls his eyes and shoos Mycroft away from the sofa-nest that has become Sherlock's 'Space'.

"I'm here to ask about some of the remodelling in the flat," Mycroft says, settling for standing opposite John and away from Sherlock's nest.

"You want to help?" John asks, hanging his coat up on the rack.

"Sherlock didn't tell you I was paying for it?"

John looks at Sherlock, who's apparently ignoring their conversation and examining a scalpel which he has suddenly produced from nowhere and a range of talcum powder that they bought in Boots, which apparently are the key to the case. "What, so it's okay to accept your brother's money to pay for the repairs for the flat we are renting, but not for a hotel for us to stay in?"

Sherlock ignores him.

"I'm actually financing the repairs for the whole of two hundred and twenty one Baker Street and neighbouring houses." Mycroft says.

John ignores him.

"You are so lucky Sarah doesn't know about this," John mutters to Sherlock and counts to ten because being angry with him will not solve anything.

"Do you want any extras added?" Mycroft asks.

John glances at Sherlock and shakes his head, "everything back as it was is fine."

Mycroft frowns because he hasn't expected this and has most likely replaced their home with some one bedroom (he still thinks they're sleeping together and they're not, how many times do they have to tell people), science lab monstrosity with maximum security complete with sniffer dogs in an attempt to stop Sherlock taking drugs, "Not even bomb proof curtains?"

"Well last time there was a bomb, the curtains were open," John points out and last time he checked soldiers weren't given curtains instead of body armour. They probably only come in black. "Our other curtains were fine."

Mycroft raises an eyebrow and shifts his weight on his feet, "Those old curtains were ugly."

"They gave me a headache whenever I looked at them," Sherlock adds from the sofa because, apparently, he doesn't know when to shut up.

"You don't get any input; you've been ignoring this conversation since it started," John says then turns to look at Mycroft who looks so smug he might explode.

John kicks him out ("You can't kick me out; you don't even live here." "Watch me.") and then orders a take away from the Chinese down the road. He asks Sherlock to test its not poisoned when he gets it because Mycroft is not above that sort of petty behaviour.

#####################################

On the plus side, living with Sarah makes it a lot harder for Scotland Yard to do unannounced drug busts.

"Who do you think you are?" Sarah rages at Lestrade when they get back from dinner to find Sherlock pacing a corner angrily and several officers going through her belongings. "I am a doctor; not some junkie! How dare you!"

And that is all John gets to hear before they take it outside and then all they can hear is angry voices. Mainly Sarah's and then the occasional, "I'm sorry Ma'am," and "no, we do not have a warrant," and "yes this could be classed as police harassment". Sherlock is staring at the door with a mixture of pride and awe on his face.

"Why didn't we move her in sooner if that's all it'd take for them stop those ridiculous drug raids?"

John looks at him curiously; because it's them encroaching on Sarah's space, and because he knows for a fact that Sherlock has all, alright—most of his drugs hidden in the sofa cushions (last week he tried to sit down and nearly got impaled with a needle), within easy reach.

Anderson's in the corner with one of Sarah's chocolate bars, but Sally has the decency to look really contrite. "So?" She says brightly, pretending it isn't awkward because she and Anderson hate Sherlock and Sherlock hates them back with equal vigour. John would rather be on Sherlock's side. "How are things going with Sarah?"

"They're, um, really great actually," John says and then the front door opens and Sarah comes in looking very pleased with herself.

"You can go now," she says to the remaining officers in the room, like she's the one in charge of the situation. John realises that she probably is. No-one moves, Sarah crosses her arms over her chest. "Yes, sometime today would be good."

################################

John is having lunch with Sarah, at the surgery, when his mobile rings.

"I'm busy," is the first thing John says because it's Lestrade on the caller ID, "can't you just lock him in a cell until I've finished my shift?"

Lestrade sighs, "If we could find him; I assure you we would. We've received a ransom letter—he's been kidnapped."

And then in a blur of taxis and panic and stress John finds himself at Scotland Yard in Lestrade's office.

"By the time it got here, it was late," Lestrade admits sheepishly, "the kid who delivered it knew it was a ransom letter—he says the perps made him write it, and decided it would be more effective here, than in the hallway of your burnt down house."

"Fair enough," John says, "is he in custody?"

Lestrade nods from the edge of his desk, "But you won't get anything out of him. Part of a fucking gang. All the kids are these days. Loyal to the death."

John nods slowly, "Alright, I'm going home—I'll let you know if I find anything."

"You're going home?" Lestrade asks, "You know what he was investigating—you can help us."

"Only bits," John adds. "Everything he was looking at is back at the flat. I'm going to piece together what I can, like I said, I'll contact you once I know something."

#####################################

The crime scene pictures are horrific. There's a story behind what the gang have done to their leader and John just has to read it.

He lays the photos out on Sherlock's boxes that are still clogging up the living room. The photos get bloodier as he lays them out. The message is loud and clear, there are close ups of dismembered hands; he was found meddling, and one of his decapitated head; his tongue was loose.

There's one picture of his hand which has been magnified and the biro scrawled along the back of it is clear. It's a series of random letters and numbers that make no sense at all.

He takes the best chance he has at finding something and types them into Google , because while he's smart; he's not Sherlock. As luck would have it, the first link that appears is that of some ambiguous URL shortening service. The other is the link to a Google Document with several maps and, more importantly, several addresses. John's willing to bet everything he owns that one of them is where Sherlock is being held and another is the warehouse that Sherlock was investigating.

############################################################

John doesn't even try to not look surprised when he's dragged into the room and he sees Sherlock tied to a chair.

"Hello!" Sherlock says rather cheerfully which tells John that their captors haven't tied his ropes properly and he's thought of about six different ways to escape and one of them probably involves using a button as a sharp object.

"You let yourself get kidnapped?" John replies because he knew Sherlock's plan was stupid, he just didn't expect it to be monumentally, Jedward, stupid.

"Stop talking!" One of the kidnappers insists.

"I didn't allow them to kidnap me," Sherlock muses from his chair, "it was more of a drive by and then they dragged me into one of the new Mercedes Benz vans. Possibly the new Vito. Either way; it's a very effective method of kidnapping."

"Right," John mutters, as one of the gang members kicks him in the back of his legs and he crumples to the floor, because that is the kind of shit Sherlock worries about in life or death situations.

Sherlock looks at him sprawled on the floor, "Wait, are you here to rescue me?"

John manages to sit up, "Lestrade got a ransom note addressed to me at Scotland Yard about an hour ago. It was delivered late because no-one knows where we live."

"You came to rescue me in that ugly jumper?" Sherlock says, "Besides, most people knew we lived at Baker Street there was that time with—"

"The ninja-pirate?" John interrupts and then frowns remembering that a couple of books had gone missing that week, "because you really should have told me about that before."

"Being a ninja is mutually exclusive," Sherlock insists, shaking his head, "if you're a ninja; you're a ninja—you can't be a pirate as well."

"Well we'll move back to Baker Street so criminals can send us future ransom notes that are delivered on time," John says and then remembers they're in a room full of gang members who are just staring at them like they're the oddest thing that they've ever seen.

###############################

The gang members have left the room and John has been tied to a radiator.

"I never imagined I'd ever get kidnapped," Sherlock says, "it's really boring and uncomfortable."

"You're not tied to a radiator," John retorts, "tell me why I'm here?"

"You, in a vain and noble effort, attempted to rescue me and failed?"

John rolls his eyes, "The case, Sherlock."

"Ah, one of the gangs in London; the leader was someone who I'd worked with approximately four times in the past." Sherlock begins, "he kept the gang sort of on the right side of the law; his name was Bill. Anyway, he'd had some suspicions about his deputy—thought he was getting a bit above himself and into other, more dangerous, things like narcotics."

"Sorry," John interrupts, "what? You associate with gang leaders?"

Sherlock ignores him, "He told me that he'd gotten them a deal—there was a large shipment of cocaine coming in and they got the transport and distribution contract. He was horrified, but the other guy—he never told me his name, had too much influence; they were on the verge of a mutiny."

A voice from the doorway cuts across him, "So he hid the drugs from us. Replaced them with packets of talcum powder, cheeky bastard." The man walks into the room, his face covered by shadows and his hoodie. "Was all going good for him 'till I caught him. You know the rest."

"Why are we here then?" John asks, shifting his shoulders. "He hid the drugs and he's dead. We don't know what he did with them."

"Consulting detective," Hoodie says pointing at Sherlock, "I recognise him off that website. He knows where it is. If he doesn't tell us we'll—"

"Cut me up good and proper, yes, yes, you've said already," Sherlock interrupts loudly. "You do realise that he never got a chance to tell me where he'd hidden them either? Maybe you should switch your work policy to one of: ask questions first and shoot later."

"You and that fucking website," John mutters, "we are taking it down when we get home."

"Where are the drugs?" The man repeats his question and there's an undertone to his voice that John recognises from his time as a soldier. This is a man fighting a war, one who's prepared to do what it takes to get his way, who staged an uprising to kill his boss.

"I don't know why you persist in repeating yourself," Sherlock says, "you're going to kill us as soon as we tell you."

John looks at Sherlock hard then because you are never supposed to tell the bad guys that you know that.

Hoodie tilts his head as if he's measuring Sherlock up, "You know what; you're right."

Sherlock beams at John smugly. John wants to smack him.

"We're going to take Dr Watson to another location," the man says quietly and it's as scary as fuck because everyone can tell that he's angry and frustrated, "set up a video link and then see how co-operative you feel then? The internet is wonderful, innit?"

John wonders how he can tell Sherlock with his eyes that everything's going to be okay, that he has a gun on him, but the only other obstacle is that his hands are tied so he can't really get to it.

"Ben, Steve." He nods to some men behind him in the hallway and two of them squeeze past him to cut the ropes tying John to the radiator and haul him to his feet. "Say goodbye to your boyfriend."

"We're not together damnit!" John shouts as the two men drag him down the hall.

#########################################################################

"I don't get it," John says. He has a bag on his head and he's lying on the floor in the back of a van. Presumably it's the one they used to kidnap Sherlock. "You're going to tie me up, leave me in a warehouse and then blow it up?"

A voice yells at him from the front, "Quit earjacking!"

John rolls across the floor (carefully though, he has a gun tucked into his trousers. He prays the safety doesn't come off what with him rolling on it) and into one of the walls as they turn a corner sharply, "What does that even mean?"

"You're eavesdropping," another voice says, "you had no business listening to that conversation."

"You're discussing my death," John points out, "I think I'd like to know the details."

"He's got a point there Ben."

"Steve; shut the fuck up." The van turns another corner sharply.

"Jesus!" John says as he smacks into one of the walls again, "Take it easy on those corners will you?"

"Shut up, Princess." John recognises it as Ben's. The next three corners are particularly harsh.

The van rolls to a stop, the doors are opened and John is dragged unceremoniously out.

"Can you at least take the bag off my head?"

"Not yet," Steve says with a touch of sympathy as they haul him to the warehouse, "when we get inside."

When they take the sack off his head, John almost regrets asking them to remove it. He blinks at the sudden flood of light.

"Is there something wrong?" Steve says kindly from behind this huge 80s style moustache. It's all John can focus on really.

Ben shrugs, "Who cares?" John turns to look at him and admires how his mullet hair cut moves with his head. "What are you staring at?"

"Nothing," John says, shaking his head and focuses on the video camera on the tripod opposite him.

Moustache—Steve fiddles around with it, a red light comes on and John knows that his image is being transmitted to that of Sherlock. He's determined not to look helpless.

"Twenty minutes, Mr Holmes," Hoodie says walking into the room, pulling out his phone to show John on screen hands and legs tied. A young man follows him in with a table and sets it down opposite Sherlock. "If you don't talk; we're going to blow the warehouse."

The young man hands him an orange timer, he sets it and puts it down on the table, across from Sherlock.

########################################################

"I'm ready to talk," Sherlock calls, "but I need you to see something first."

The man who was standing guard outside the door, pushes it open a crack, "See what?"

"You'll appreciate it. You're quite smart aren't you? Too smart to be working at the bottom of some gang."

The young man puffs himself up and swaggers over to the corner where Sherlock is, "Well everyone has to start at the bottom, you know."

"Yes," Sherlock says, standing up and shacking off the rope that had tied him to the chair, because they tied them utterly wrong. The kid yelps in alarm, "I know."

John wants to roll his eyes because this kind of slap-dash crime is really not worth his time (it's also very 80s and thereby very Die Hard) he really needs to make friends with people that value and appreciate this elusive thing called sleep. Also, he doesn't welcome criminals who don't keep their illegal activities to office hours.

The video camera is transmitting a live feed still, judging by the red light on it, but Mullet and Moustache have stepped out for a smoke ("We can't leave him alone!" "Look at him; he's probably never even got a parking ticket in his life.") and he doesn't know who else is watching him but it's now or never really. John looks around the mostly empty warehouse; there's a table a couple feet away but the only thing on it are a couple bags of fake cocaine. Explosive material lines the walls of the warehouse, and that's not going to be helpful to helping him escape. Either way, he just needs to get his hands in front of him so he can reach his semi automatic.

He ends up squirming on the floor, struggling to get his hands down and his legs up, and thanking every deity he can think of for the give on the ropes which actually make it possible without requiring him to be a contortionist. His feet are still tied together, but there are a distinct lack of sharp objects in the warehouse. The gun is warm from sitting flush against his skin, but clicking the safety off of it and quietly shuffling towards the exit seems like the easiest thing he's done all day.

"Hands up," he says, pointing the Browning in their general direction and cocking the hammer. "Don't move."

"You said he wasn't carrying, you fucking moron," Steve says with a resigned air. John suspects that he knew all along his partner was an idiot.

Ben ignores him and eyes John's feet, "Or what? You gonna hop over and shoot us?"

John wonders if he can shoot him just for being a dick, but he deliberates because when he came back to England, he wasn't expecting to be regularly shooting civilians. Steve pulls out his own gun and Ben takes this as a sign to reach for the detonator and John doesn't know who to shoot first.

Sherlock runs a lot as a part of his job. Generally, he runs to catch criminals; sometimes, he runs away from them and occasionally, like now, he runs to save the life of someone he cares about. He's never run so fast in his life.

#######################

When John wakes up everything hurts and he has the worst case of cotton mouth in the history of mankind.

"How're you feeling?" Sherlock says and John opens his eyes to see Sherlock hovering by the edge of his bed and Sarah slumped in the chair in the corner, snoring lightly.

"Like shit," John croaks because he didn't think that everything could actually hurt this much all at once. Ever. And he was in the army. "Water?"

Turns out that getting shot and then nearly/sort of blown up is all you need for Sherlock to do things for you. He wonders if he looks that pathetic. Maybe he should wait till he gets home and he has one of those woolly jumpers on to ask Sherlock for a cup of tea.

"I can't believe you were stupid enough to get shot," Sherlock mutters as he pours the water into the glass.

John just looks at him, because he never knew it was possible to stop a bullet from hitting you using only your IQ and/or the power of your mind. Or The Force. Realistically, Sherlock probably doesn't know what The Force is.

"Here," Sherlock says and lifts the glass to John's mouth so he can take a sip.

"I'm fine," John says quietly and then shifts up the bed slightly and lifts his arm up for the water.

Sherlock bats his hand away, "Hush. You've been hospitalised; I can do this."

John slumps back into the bed and lets Sherlock feed him water through a straw.

By the time Sarah wakes up, Sherlock has invaded and colonised the bottom half of John's hospital bed. The nurses don't even bother trying to shift him away from 'the trauma patient' after watching him go round the Acute Assessment Unit and accurately explaining the injuries of every patient who had been involved in an accident.

"Can you give us a moment here Sherlock," Sarah says rubbing her face. She looks like she hasn't slept in years and has dark circles under her eyes.

John looks at him with something equivalent to, don't leave me alone with her please because she is scary when she shouts, but Sherlock looks suspicious and he's probably worked out what this conversation is going to be about, so leaves, presumably to go and piss off Molly or something.

"John," Sarah mutters, pulling the chair closer to the bed, "I know this isn't the best time to tell you this—but things between us, I don't think they're going to work out."

And this? John was not expecting this, he was anticipating a rant along the lines of, 'How stupid were you getting shot?', 'Sherlock is a bad influence on you; why are you such an idiot?' or 'Sherlock needs to go'.

"I mean, you're great John," Sarah says and if she's trying to make John feel worse, she is doing a great job. "But I can't deal with you getting shot. I mean, I know it's not about me, but I was a state for hours after you got hurt and I don't want to be in a relationship with someone where I'm up half the night worrying about whether or not you're going to come back home alive. This is going to be a regular thing, and if you even try to convince me otherwise; we'll both know you're lying."

She sighs and then continues, "It was good fun at first; but I don't think I'm the kind of girl who's just cut out for that kind of lifestyle. Do you remember our first date?"

"I'm stepping back. I don't want to make you choose," she adds, "between me and him—that's really not fair to you and really, there wasn't ever a choice was there?"

And then John does feel awful, because he's always the one leaving and he doesn't know what it's like to be the one who's left behind. The one who has to sit and wait by the telephone all night just in case something happens. It sounds horrific, frankly, so he nods dumbly because it's right, Sarah is right, and he was being so, so, so selfish when he began this relationship.

"I think we'd be better off as friends," Sarah says reaching to hold his hand, "I mean I'll never stop worrying about you or caring about you, but I thought I was going to go crazy out of mind over the last few days and that's not something I can handle on a regular basis. It's not something I want in a relationship."

So John says okay because he understands now, he really does, and Sarah tells him that he's welcome to stay as long as he likes with her, just until he gets himself back on his feet.

#####################################

Which is how he and Sherlock end up flat hunting around London.

John sends a text to Mycroft: How long until the building work is finished?, because for some reason he has completely taken over the unnecessary rebuilding of their flat.

"I don't see why you have to move out," Sherlock says, looking out the window of the taxi, "Sarah is useful to have around."

John thinks he's biased, "That's because you bribed her with diamonds. A lot." The taxi driver twitches and turns the radio off. He is definitely listening to their conversation.

Sherlock waves a hand airily, "Semantics. We were good for her; she got compensation out of Lestrade for that impromptu drug bust."

The taxi driver has wedged the dividing window open a bit more so he can eavesdrop better. John rolls his eyes and reads Mycroft's reply: A while longer - MH which is evasive and means that he either redesigned their entire place and is having it gutted since he and Sherlock decided that they wanted everything back the way it was, or he's been very busy ordering murders for people on the other side of the world and hasn't started it yet.

John turns to Sherlock, "You don't think it would've been awkward for us to share a bed despite not being in a relationship and just having had a recent break up?"

"I'd share a bed with you," Sherlock mutters and the taxi driver's eyebrows go up so high John can see them in the rear view mirror.

"Yes, but the difference is that we're not in a relationship," John says patiently because he knows Sherlock still doesn't understand what is socially acceptable and what isn't, "despite what the world and its occupants think about us and our friendship." He texts Mycroft back: How much longer; you are aware that we're moving out of Sarah's right?

"You could just not have sex with her," Sherlock argues, but he's not going to win this argument and they both know it, "there's nothing sexual about lying next to her and sleeping."

John doesn't want to tell Sherlock that they never actually got round to having sex, mainly because they never got round to it and also, Sherlock was always about fifteen foot away or dragging him away from all their dates with some case. He suspects Sherlock knows that he and Sarah never slept together (damn powers of observation) but Sherlock's never mentioned it, so.

Don't be condescending, is Mycroft's reply, of course I know. The fact that he hasn't signed his initials at the end suggests he's feeling a bit pissy. Frustrated, John slips the phone back into his pocket.

"Shut up," John says to Sherlock, "just shut up. You're just upset that you have take your nest apart."

#####################################

Sherlock announces that the first flat they view is unsuitable because it is damp, dark, too small and just downright horrible, in front of the owner. John apologies repeatedly and ushers them both out as fast as possible. The second is too far away from any good DIY stores and the third is too far from a reputable Chinese restaurant.

"We're actually going to be homeless," John says in the taxi on their way to view what must be the fifteenth flat.

"Don't be ridiculous," Sherlock says dismissively, "we wouldn't have to go through this if you just slept with Sarah."

John doesn't even bother getting angry because they've had some variation of this argument on the way to every flat they've gone to see, "I'm not going to share a bed with her Sherlock," John says in what he likes to think is a reasonable tone, but is probably sounding very frustrated, "she broke up with me—I can't just stay in her flat and sleep in her bed. I'd feel like some creepy stalker."

Sherlock mutters something under his breath about much easier life is when you no-one expects you to react in a socially acceptable way. John finds he agrees with him.

"I don't like it," Sherlock says as soon as he gets into the kitchen.

John grits his teeth because this is a perfectly good kitchen (it's probably the size of half of their entire old flat, and the rent is so cheap it's ridiculous; John suspects there are rats)—and it has a rather large table in it which would be perfect for experiments and Sherlock is just being obtuse and unreasonable because he doesn't want to move out.

#############################

John comes out with the bright idea of staying in a hotel, because it's either that or lying awkwardly next to Sarah in the dark for another night and John doesn't think he can deal with that. Sherlock could, because he's a heartless bastard and John sort of wants to push him into Molly's flat (because everyone knows she'd have him) so he can move onto Sarah's sofa and then they wouldn't have this situation.

He points his finger at Sherlock towards the end of the rant, "and because you are irrational and insulting; half of those flat owners would be unwilling to rent to us anyway. And I don't care anymore about how we are going to be able to afford this, maybe we'll have to stop buying food or something, but we will and you," he pauses for emphasis here and looks at Sherlock meaningfully, "you are not going to make my life difficult and you are going to deal with it."

Sherlock looks at him for a long moment and then says, "If you insist John," in such a tone that it makes John feel like he's the difficult one out of the two of them.

"Good," he says instead and nods before picking up a newspaper and sitting back in the armchair.

Sherlock blinks at him, "Would you make me some tea?"

"Fuck's sake," John says, but gets up to make it anyway.

#######################

"We can only book for a maximum of nine nights," John complains, browsing the website on his laptop. "And it's ridiculously expensive—that price for just over a week was our rent for two months."

Sherlock pulls out a bank card because he's either fed up of John moaning about how they won't be able to afford it or how it's Sherlock's fault that they're in this position (Sherlock maintains that they can stay where they are) because he won't ask his brother to re-house them temporarily in one of the mansions he has secreted away somewhere.

"This should have sufficient funds to cover us for at least a month," he says and drops it neatly onto the keyboard.

John scowls at him, "And you didn't mention this before I had that rant, why?"

Sherlock shrugs delicately and then disappears somewhere.

"Sherlock!" John calls, "You need to dismantle your nest by Friday!"

Sarah walks out of the bathroom then, and stares at John who's shouting at an empty room.

"I'm not crazy," John mutters, typing in the card details, "I'm not."

#############################

It's Friday morning and Sarah's sofa still does not look right.

"I'm going to miss you so much," she says hugging John tight and John hugs her back equally hard because he will miss her as a soft, safe, comforting constant in his life.

He also doesn't want to admit to himself that things haven't changed at all between him and Sarah; sure they no longer go on dates, but if anything what they have now (aside from the awkward bed sharing) as friends feels right. He can't help but wonder if that's all they were meant to be; there was nothing romantic going on between them and the friendship is what should have been there from the start.

"Sherlock," she says and opens her arms up to hug him.

"I gave you diamonds?" He says hopeful that bribing Sarah to that extent will get him out of it, but stiffly acquiesces when she ignores him, and mutters, "only Mummy can get away with this."

John rolls his eyes and tells him he has fifteen minutes to transform the sofa back to its former glory or he's leaving without him.

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, depending on who's point of view, Sherlock does it in five.

("Did you get all your drugs out the sofa, Sherlock?"

"Yes."

"Even out of the armrests?"

"Cleared out both of them.")

They taxi it to one of the hotels that Lenny Henry advertises on the TV—i.e. the Premier Inn, but it's the one in Kensington and while it's closer to Baker Street (Sherlock says that the location of the flat was unparalleled compared to anywhere else he's ever lived in terms of both food and experiment supplies) than when they were staying at Sarah's—it's still on the other side of Hyde Park and they still have to wind their way past all the fucking tourists at Buckingham Palace and Oxford Street to get back to their usual haunts.

"Sherlock, there must be some kind of mistake," John says when he gets into the room, "there's only one bed."

Sherlock doesn't say anything, just clears aside the array of magazines on the table, opens his suitcase up and begins setting up equipment.

"Have you ever taken a holiday?" John asks, momentarily distracted from the bed situation, by Sherlock's obsessive behaviour in the corner.

"Too boring," Sherlock mutters. "Awful things. There's nothing to do."

John having, expected an answer like that rolls his eyes and goes down stairs to complain.

"So." John says when he comes back into the room. "The receptionist told me that they had it on record that 'I' had phoned back and requested a double."

Sherlock is up and racing round the room, picking up a miscellany of objects which he thrusts into his trousers pocket. "Really?"

"Obviously," John says, "it was you. Why?"

Sherlock pauses mid putting his coat on and looks at John, "Think about it John; really think about it."

And then John blinks and Sherlock is gone and the door is slamming shut.

The room is oddly quiet.

John doesn't like it.

John hates Sherlock. He hates that Sherlock is sometimes so focused on something he doesn't notice his phone ringing. He hates that Sherlock is always putting his life in danger to solve stupid crimes. He hates the way Sherlock doesn't sleep and how he's never tired. He hates the way Sherlock always makes him make tea. He hates how the way Sherlock draws him in, yet is quietly unassuming. He hates Sherlock for playing the violin at half three in the morning, for making him do shit worse than when he was in the army, for leaving him behind to pick up the pieces. He hates the way people always assume they're together.

He hates this fucking weather more, though.

John is walking over the Serpentine Bridge in the middle of Hyde Park, why he decided to walk this way in this weather he will never understand, where the rain is fucking horizontal, when he realises that he's sort of, kind of, a little bit in love with Sherlock.

And that's how John finds himself sitting on a park bench in the middle of June, soaked to the bone.

John is numb by the time Sherlock finds him. He's not really sure if it's a physical numb or a numbness that's spread throughout his mind—either way he's not cold even though he's drenched and he knows that's not a good sign.

"And you always tell me that I'm the crazy one," Sherlock mutters as he guides John up, off the bench and stands him up. He takes off his coat and puts over John's shoulders. He sort of feels like a kid again, wrapped up in a coat that's probably at least a foot taller than him.

Sherlock bundles him into a taxi and then the next thing he knows is he's lying in their bed in the hotel room and he's as naked as the day he was born.

"I hate you," is the first thing John says when he wakes up.

"You certainly hate yourself." Sherlock says from the corner where all his experiment equipment is still spread out on the table, "I thought I was the one that did stupid things."

John ignores him and clutches his head: "I am an idiot." He grabs the sheet and lifts it up. "You undressed me?"

"Yes," Sherlock replies and then pauses, almost thoughtfully, "and yes you are."

"Did you carry me through reception?" John asks, frowning as he remember some of what happened earlier.

"Yes," Sherlock says and John wants to ask why did no-one stop him carrying what probably looked like a dead body through the atrium, but this is Premier Inn and Sherlock gets away with outrageous things on a regular basis.

John sighs, his head spinning. Really, if he's going to go down a relationship route with Sherlock, he only has one question: "Why did you want me to stay with Sarah so bad?"

Sherlock shrugs, "You seemed happy."

"You're an idiot," John says and then sits back in the bed to appreciate how straight forward and simple things are with Sherlock. None of that having to sit down and have a 'talk' about the way things are going. Maybe he can actually do this. "Come here?"

###################################################

Eight days later, on his way to St Bart's to meet Sherlock, John gets a call from Mycroft informing him that the building work on Baker Street is complete.

"Of course," John mutters, "no coincidence at all with the timing then?" Because he knows Mycroft knows.

Mycroft says, "I have no idea what you're talking about," with such a practiced ease that if John hadn't known he worked for the government before, he would have figured it out then.

John rolls his eyes and hangs up as he pushes the door open to the morgue.

"I'm so sorry," Molly is saying as he walks in, "I mean I don't think it would have worked out between us at all. You can't deny that we had chemistry, but the relationship we were heading towards—it wouldn't have worked out in the long term. So I'm going to end things between us."

She pauses and takes a deep breath and takes the hand of the guy standing next to her who is, essentially, a Mini-Me Sherlock, "Me and James. We're together now and he'll never be able to replace you because you'll always have a special place in my heart, but it's time for us both to move on now. You'll be okay, right?"

"Well, I don't know how I'll manage," Sherlock says, sounding choked up, and briefly flashes an amused look at John before sobering, "obviously I'll have to take each day as it comes and see how I cope from there."

He turns imperiously on his heel and walks past John out the room.

"He's obviously feeling a bit sensitive," John adds, slightly bemused, then follows Sherlock out.

He can feel Molly's worried gaze on his back.

"So what was that about?" John says when they're standing in the stairwell.

Sherlock reaches down and tangles their fingers together and John grins like an idiot because this is new and exciting and he never expected Sherlock to be his handsy (he is in fact one possessive bastard and John is okay with that, really he is).

"She dumped me."

"That was a nice thing you did back there," John says, "kind of."

Sherlock shrugs, "What can I say? After that rejection, I think I'm so heartbroken I'm going to start batting for the other side."

"Start?" John repeats, amused, and then runs his thumb over Sherlock's knuckles during the pregnant pause that has settled over them. "Let's go."

"Where?" Sherlock asks.

"Baker Street," John says by way of explanation and Sherlock does not even look surprised that the work has finished. Conveniently, actually, just as their hotel booking expires.

John's been around the Holmes' brothers long enough to believe in everything but coincidence. He can't stop himself from asking anyway: "Did you?"

"No," Sherlock says, but they both know he's lying.