Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.
AN: Erm…my apologies for what is essentially eleven pages of utterly pointless (and possibly OOC) fluff. :/ Consider it a celebration of eighteen months of sometimes quite challenging (though enjoyable!) work, which could not have been completed without my beta, prettybirdy979. Thanks one last time to everyone who has left feedback; I hope you enjoy the last chapter!
'This is getting to be quite a habit,' says Sherlock as John stirs to wakefulness the next morning. John blinks against the light and twists his head to squint up at the detective's face.
'What is?' he asks blearily. He makes as if to push himself up, feels the slight pressure of Sherlock's hand on his shoulder – not pressing, just lying there – and settles gratefully back down again. The events of yesterday are something of a blur in his memory. They come back to him slowly as he surfaces from a deep sleep. He doesn't try to hurry them; quite the opposite, as his eyes begin to slide closed again before Sherlock has even answered.
'You using my ribcage as a pillow,' Sherlock clarifies. There is a hint of amusement in his voice as John's eyes snap open again at the sound. The only reason Sherlock is even in bed is because he'd wanted to avoid another outburst from John, this time regarding his forced insomnia. There is still the remainder of Isadora Klein's organisation to round up, her sons included, after all. But he has to admit that the warm weight of John's head on his chest is not an unwelcome one. He finds himself smiling at John's voice, still thick with sleep.
'Three times counts as a habit?' John protests feebly, and feels Sherlock shrug beneath him.
'I don't know,' Sherlock replies. John can hear the smirk, 'We'll need more data; see if the trend continues.' John smiles and shakes his head against Sherlock's bare chest,
'You are impossible,' he mutters. Sherlock scoffs,
'Merely improbable,' he corrects, and John shoves him reproachfully.
'Well at least this time it was in a bed rather than on the sofa,' says John sleepily. 'Actually, come to think of it, that's probably the first full-night's rest I've had in nearly two months.'
'Did you know you talk in your sleep?' Sherlock asks abruptly, hardly aware of the fact that his fingers are tracing light circles across John's shoulder. He is peering at the top of John's head as though trying to break through and literally see his thoughts played out before him.
'You talk in your sleep,' Sherlock repeats. 'Did you know?' This is another fact about John he has been careful to file away in his mind, and one he found strangely endearing at the time. It's strange that such dull occurrences can be of such interest merely by being linked to John. It's John's turn to shrug.
'Did I say anything interesting?'
'Something about elephants and daffodils,' Sherlock tells him. John can't tell if he's being serious or not. 'What on Earth were you dreaming about?'
'I really don't remember, can't you deduce it?' John teases, tilting his head upwards again to see Sherlock's face. 'At least it wasn't bloody –' he breaks off, forcing away the pressing images from his recent dreams. 'Well, it wasn't what it has been.'
'And what has it been?'
'Oh come on; I assume you can figure out that much at least,' John challenges, nonplussed. Can Sherlock really not know?
'Even since I woke up?' John lifts his head right off Sherlock's chest this time, and half sits up to stare at Sherlock incredulously. Sherlock's hand drops away from his shoulder, and there's a cold patch where he instinctively misses the contact. Sherlock is frowning.
'Are you being serious?' John asks.
'What on Earth do I have to joke about?'
'After what you did yesterday; after everything I've told you about being worried that you're going to get yourself killed, you're really asking me this? Sherlock we kissed, we actually kissed and…I suddenly had everything and then the car…You were in the hospital for weeks. I had nothing to think about but the fact that the instant I'd been given everything it had been taken away again. I thought you were going to die, Sherlock. Do you really think that just goes away?'
Sherlock's frown doesn't budge. 'But I didn't die,' he protests, 'and we've been in life threatening situations before.'
'I know.' John sighs and drags a hand over his face. Sherlock looks genuinely confused, an expression John can't quite manage to take completely seriously. It just doesn't belong on Sherlock's face. 'But it was – you've never actually come that close before. Have you any idea how much of a miracle it is that you came out of that unharmed?'
'Miracles don't exist –'
'Nevertheless,' John interrupts, holding up a hand for silence. He leaves it there for a moment, and then brings it down to rest over Sherlock's heart, continuing quietly. 'There's always been something I could do in the past anyway. It's always been part of some case or other. I know this was, but I didn't know that at the time, did I? It was completely out of the blue. I was stuck in limbo for six weeks waiting for you to wake up. And then you had to go and announce that it wasn't an accident –'
'Which it wasn't –'
'Not the point. You announced that and we were off again. Why do you think I tried to stop over Christmas? I just needed a break. Even then all I could think about was what if you hadn't woken up, or what if you'd been killed outright in the crash? And it was worse because by that point I'd found out just what I'd be missing.'
Sherlock raises one eyebrow quizzically.
'Well,' John says in mock thought, 'apart from anything else, you happen to be a damn good kisser. I wasn't in any rush to let that talent go unpractised.' He allows Sherlock to pull him down into a kiss now, and revels in the warmth of his tongue and the softness of his lips, and his hands, which slide down John's back and make his spine tingle. For several moments he just basks in Sherlock's presence, as he very thoroughly proves John's latest statement. 'And if you remember,' John continues a little breathlessly as he pulls away, 'I didn't even really know where we stood when you woke up. I didn't even know what was going to happen or whether you regretted it –'
'Or whether you would change your mind –'
'We never talked about it, really. We still haven't.'
Sherlock grimaces pointedly. 'You aren't going to insist we do now, are you?' he asks, distaste evident in his voice.
'God no,' replies John. 'I was just making a point.'
More than once, Sherlock has found himself doubting his own decisions since meeting John. Was it really a good idea to have a flatmate? A colleague was useful, but was he really necessary? Wouldn't Sherlock be far better off on his own, as he has always insisted on being?
As for letting John pull him – albeit kicking and screaming – into this messy tangle of feelings, as colleagues became friends almost without him knowing and certainly without his consent…
And then – he balks at the term lovers, it sounds ridiculous even in his head. It's superficial, somehow; not a word he has ever wanted to apply in connection with himself. Certainly nothing close to the reluctant, the inexplicable bond that has formed between himself and John – his John...
He'd never even considered this sort of thing before. It wasn't important. It was irrelevant. It got in the way. It almost frightens him how fast and how uncontrollably things have changed. Yet at the same time he knows he is somehow far stronger now, with John, than he ever was before. He would once have dismissed it as impossible. Why would he ever want to get caught up in that sort of emotional nonsense? A year ago had somebody described his current situation to him, he would have said they were spending too much time around Anderson. But John is – well, John.
And as John laughs and leans down again, as he kisses his way across Sherlock's jaw and as Sherlock finds himself leaning into the touch and unable to imagine a life without John in it anymore…He knows he has made the right decisions, after all.
Anderson is staring again. He spent most of yesterday staring, when John and Sherlock arrived to give their statements, and John can't decide if he is amused or irritated that he is still doing it.
'…and when you've done that I need the results of the tests emailed to me…' Sherlock is telling an indignant Lestrade, apparently oblivious to Anderson's scrutiny. John resists the sudden childish urge to stick his tongue out at him.
Neither John nor Sherlock have mentioned their relationship to anyone, and while John trusts Lestrade to have been discreet, Anderson has evidently noticed something. John has long since abandoned concerns for what anyone might have to say, the likes of Anderson least of all, but the attention is beginning to make him uncomfortable.
'What do you think, John?'
'Hmm – what?' John jumps guiltily at being addressed, and Sherlock rolls his eyes.
'Carlos Dawson,' Sherlock waves a page of lab results in from of his face, 'he was an experienced user, do you think these levels were enough for an overdose?' Tearing his thoughts away from Anderson, John chews his lip in concentration,
'Possibly,' he replies slowly, 'but to be honest I doubt it.'
'Excellent!' Sherlock exclaims, spinning back to face Lestrade. 'And what about the girlfriend?' he demands.
'Missing since Christmas Eve,' Lestrade replies; Sherlock beams.
'Can you keep it quiet for another day?'
'If you've got a theory –' Lestrade begins testily,
'What? No, nothing yet; not really. But if I can just…one day, no leaks, alright?'
'I know how to do my job –'
Sherlock scoffs and opens his mouth to say something scathing. Before he manages to speak John very purposefully, and very obviously, stands on his foot. Lestrade smirks as Sherlock abruptly closes his mouth and John accepts the file from the DI gratefully, ignoring Sherlock's venomous glare.
'We'll get back to you,' John promises. Lestrade nods and glances sympathetically back at Sherlock, who has turned to stride away without waiting for John.
'Good luck,' he says with the air of speaking to a man about to enter a lion's den. John laughs and thanks him, before hurrying after Sherlock. Anderson watches him go.
'Have you got a theory?' John asks as soon as he has caught up with his flatmate,
'Obviously,' Sherlock replies shortly.
'And you wouldn't tell him because…?' Sherlock raises an eyebrow but doesn't reply. 'Of course,' John finishes for him, slightly exasperated, 'that would just be far too easy for the rest of us wouldn't it?'
'I see no reason to spoon feed him, he has all the information I have,' Sherlock defends calmly. 'If he fails to reason from his observations it's hardly my fault is it?'
Sherlock is walking quickly and seems completely unaware of Anderson's eyes still fixed on their retreating backs. At least until, without a pause in the conversation, he spares a pointed glance over his shoulder and snakes his arm across John's back to place his hand quite deliberately on John's backside.
Anderson's mouth drops open. Sherlock smirks.
When John sees the toes in the fridge, he barely bats an eyelid. He's so used to coming across Sherlock's experiments now that half the time he doesn't even notice. Even when he finds that the milk has run out because Sherlock used the last of it to soak said toes in, it only causes a prickling irritation that he is quickly over. He can always have his tea black, he supposes.
But when he discovers that the teabags have been sacrificed to a similar cause, he has had enough. Sherlock has been insufferable all day; his theory of yesterday fell flat, and neither of them slept last night. Sherlock spent his time alternately immersed in the files of the Isadora Klein case and scraping noisily on the violin. This in turn meant each time John finally managed to close his eyes he was woken again by the infernal sound which Sherlock refused to stop.
This is the final straw.
'One cupboard, Sherlock!' he shouts, slamming the cupboard door and marching through to the living room to find Sherlock sprawled on the floor inspecting something on the carpet with his magnifying glass. He glances up, looking distracted.
'One cupboard! One place in the whole bloody flat that I told you not to experiment on. Nothing in that cupboard to be touched, or used, or looked at or smelled or anything by you. You promised, you said –'
'What on Earth are you talking about?'
'The teabags!' John explodes, 'my teabags, the ones that are for me only so if nothing else I can be guaranteed a bloody drink if I want one!'
'You're overreacting –'
'No I am damn well not overreacting! You've taken over everything else in there; can't I have one little space that's mine? Eyeballs in the microwave, heads in the fridge –'
'There was only one head –'
'Skulls on the mantelpiece –'
'The tree, actually, and technically again –'
'Toes in the milk! And now my tea! What the Hell is that stuff in there anyway? Actually no, you know what, I don't want to know. I don't care what it is or what you want them for, you don't touch things in that cupboard! We had a deal!'
'I needed them!' Sherlock counters, standing up, 'I'm conducting a very important investigation –'
'I don't care!' John yells – this is it, this really is the absolute limit. And Sherlock doesn't even look sorry. He looks practically amused by John's outburst and just once wouldn't he like to have a simple drink without worrying if it might poison him?
'If you're that desperate for teabags go and buy some!' Sherlock shouts, 'then perhaps I can conduct my work with a little peace!'
He seems to realise he has made a mistake as soon as he has spoken, and John literally hears him clap his mouth shut.
'I'm interrupting your peace? I haven't spoken for three hours in case I disturbed you! You were on that violin all night last night –'
'So I barely got five minutes sleep, all I want is one cup of tea and that's too bloody well much to ask is it? In your way, am I?'
'John, I –'
'Forget it,' John hisses, 'I'm going out. I'll leave you in peace.'
He slams the door behind him, leaving Sherlock standing in the centre of the room looking uncharacteristically lost.
John stamps down the stairs as noisily as possible and storms out onto the street. Only once the door has swung shut behind him does he remember he has no coat with him, but he'll be damned if he's going back in there for it.
Within ten minutes he is freezing cold and shivering. His fingers have gone numb despite his hands being balled into fists and stuffed under his armpits for warmth. He walks quickly, head down and fuming. How dare Sherlock? John disturbing the peace? John being unreasonable? Who's the one using the kitchen to store semi-decomposed body parts? Who's the one making such a racket it's impossible to sleep?
Okay, perhaps running out of teabags doesn't quite merit this reaction, but still. It's the principle of the thing. Wouldn't he just love to be able to go into the kitchen and not have to be afraid of what he'll find there?
He has a sudden image of the kitchen as empty and untouched as it was just a few weeks ago; experiments conspicuously absent or abandoned, everything in its proper place and uncontaminated. He remembers how much, then, he had longed for this. He HHfeels a pang of guilt which goes some way to cooling his anger.
No; no, he's determined to stay annoyed about this. He's not letting this one go.
Sherlock realises after almost a minute that he hasn't moved a muscle since John left and orders himself to do something rather than standing here staring aimlessly at the door. To his surprise, he finds himself stepping towards the kitchen.
John is being ridiculous. He knows Sherlock's experiments are important, and how expensive are a few teabags? Is it so difficult for him to just go and buy himself some more? How is Sherlock supposed to think with John clattering around so clumsily while he is attempting very delicate and vital investigations? Really, John is being stupid. Sherlock is glad he's gone out; it gives him some quiet for once.
So why can't he think now? Why is John's absence so much more distracting than his presence? Why is the echoing silence infinitely more disturbing than John clattering about with the kettle while he tries to concentrate? Inexplicably he thinks of Pluto. Not a planet, he remembers, though why the fact hasn't been deleted by now he can't imagine. He thinks of the focusing effect of John's voice while he was trapped in that empty dream.
He's being stupid. John is overreacting; he'll realise that soon enough and be back in an hour at most.
Probably sooner, Sherlock amends, noticing John's coat slung over the back of a chair and feeling something uncomfortably close to concern. How can he possibly be worried for John now? He's angry with him. He can't be worried and angry at the same time.
Before he has really realised what he is doing, Sherlock has a cloth in his hand and is staring around the kitchen wondering where to start.
Well, what of it? He demands of himself irritably. The kitchen needs a clean and clearly John isn't going to do it if he's going to be so childish about everything. This mess is going to start to interfere with his experiments soon.
It has nothing to do with John. Really.
Half an hour later John returns silently with a carton of milk, a box of teabags and a no entry sign which he hangs on the cupboard door handle without a word. Neither of them mentions the argument, but John notices that the worktops are suspiciously clean. When Sherlock reaches almost tentatively for his violin, John nods his permission with a smile. Sherlock plays beautifully and John falls asleep to the strains of an unfamiliar but breath-taking melody Sherlock will never admit to having composed himself.
John is ignoring Sherlock. In the forty five minutes since his email to Lestrade, he has become more and more sulky each time he has pressed the refresh button to find no new reply. While neither of them are keen to repeat yesterday's experience, John knows that Sherlock's patience in waning fast. The lack of any new leads for several days is wearing on them both. John deliberately concentrates instead on the half built tower of cards in front of him.
'Oh, how long does it take to check one little fact?' Sherlock huffs as yet another attempt reveals nothing.
'I'm sure he's doing his best,' John assures him in a placatory tone, not looking up from his task.
'Yes; that's my point,' Sherlock sneers. John sighs.
'Maybe he's busy,' he replies reasonably.
'This is important,' Sherlock complains. He folds his arms across his chest and sinks further down into his chair, scowling. 'I can't move anywhere in this case until he gets back to me. How hard can it be to look up one single date? I mean he does realise that this is in order to catch a murderer, right? That has actually registered with him?'
'You just don't like not being the centre of attention,' John scolds lightly, keeping his voice carefully free of any real annoyance. In actual fact, Sherlock's current pose makes him look less like an angered genius and more like a sulky child, which John can't help but find somewhat endearing. Any irritation that might threaten to surface is soon chased away by the memory of the clean kitchen and the stunning violin performance. Not to mention the look of absolute relief on Sherlock's face when John came back yesterday. He can't really have thought John was actually leaving, can he? Leaving-leaving? The thought had never even crossed John's mind. He finds himself simultaneously feeling slightly guilty and somewhat mollified at the thought that he had made his point quite so effectively.
'How does he expect me to solve the case without information?' Sherlock rants, ignoring John's comment. 'Even I can't just pull solutions out of thin air – and I would have thought you'd be much keener to catch the man who tried to kill us both.'
'I am,' John says earnestly, 'but sitting around complaining is not going to help matters is it? Try this if you're so bored.' He roots around for a moment in a drawer, before retrieving a second deck of slightly battered looking cards and tossing them to Sherlock. Sherlock rolls his eyes and throws them back – right into the centre of John's tower, which collapses. John clenches and unclenches his fist slowly, taking a deep breath.
'Do you have to act like a two year old every time you don't get your own way?'
Sherlock doesn't reply, and John goes back to rebuilding his tower for several minutes before Sherlock moves over and flops suddenly into the chair on the other side of the table. John glances up, but neither of them speaks for a while.
'Are you going to be doing that all day?' Sherlock asks eventually, his tone disbelieving as he watches John start the second level of what must be his sixth attempt of building a full tower. John glances up again with an odd look on his face.
'I steady my nerves, that is all,' he replies, in a positively horrendous attempt at a Belgian accent. Sherlock raises his eyebrows, resisting the smile that tries to work its way onto his face.
'Sorry to disappoint, but I'm afraid I think the position of Hastings is rather more suited to you, John.'
John's hands freeze in the act of putting another two cards on, and he stares at Sherlock.
'What?' Sherlock asks defensively.
'Did you just…understand a reference?'
'It's Hercule Poirot, John, of course I understood it,' Sherlock responds in his "isn't it obvious?" tone. John opens his mouth to say something, then closes it again and shakes his head.
'Of course that would be the one thing you'd not delete,' he says. Sherlock leans forward and plucks a pair of cards from the pile beside John, popping them neatly on top of John's structure so far. 'Why don't you build your own?' John asks, pushing the spare deck towards him again. 'Surely that's more of a challenge for you?'
'I hardly think it counts as a challenge. And anyway, why would I want to start on my own when I have a perfectly good set of foundations right in front of me?'
John and Sherlock burst through the door of 221b in fits of breathless laughter and collapse against the wall gasping for air.
'Déjà – vu –' John says between giggles, leaning forward with his hands on his knees and struggling to get his breath back, 'thank – God for Lestrade's – timing, right?'
'I think you were managing quite well on your own,' Sherlock replies fairly, laughter still on his face but in a much steadier voice than John has managed yet. 'I don't think he expected you to move that quickly,'
'No,' agrees John, 'that was – sort of the point of the whole – faked injury thing…sorry about that by the way.'
Sherlock grimaces at the memory and waves a hand dismissively, straightening up and adjusting his coat. John refrains from reminding him that it was something of a taste of his own medicine anyway.
'Christ my hands are cold!' he exclaims instead, taking them off his knees suddenly and waving them about in an attempt to get the circulation going. 'How are you not freezing?'
Sherlock doesn't reply immediately, but swiftly takes both John's hands in his, wrapping his long fingers around the doctor's shorter ones and rubbing his thumbs slowly across John's bare skin.
'I wear gloves,' he says in a low voice.
'You didn't exactly give me much chance to make sure I was dressed properly,' John protests weakly. Sherlock is taking full advantage of his height, towering over John as his lip curls in amusement. His thumbs are still moving over John's knuckles, breath ghosting across John's forehead. 'Oh you know I didn't mean it like that…' John mutters.
'Your nose goes a quite shocking red when you're cold,' Sherlock says, 'I might have to warm that up for you too.' He leans forward and kisses the tip of John's nose, moving his hands up to John's cheeks while John slips his own – now much warmer – hands beneath Sherlock's coat.
'Have you reconsidered my suggestion yet?' John breathes, and Sherlock huffs in disbelief,
'Is now really the time?'
John smiles and pulls away, 'well, fine then…' he says, grinning when Sherlock tugs him back.
'You said yet as though my acquiescence was predetermined.'
'Oh it is,' John replies, 'I can be very persuasive.'
In the end, John's persuasion pays off; reasoning that they might even manage to apprehend a criminal or two before midnight – in a crowd that big, who knows? John points out – he drags Sherlock to the rapidly growing throng of people on the Victoria Embankment. It occurs to Sherlock vaguely that John ultimately manages to get his way far too easily far too often, but he does very little to rectify this fact.
The press of people is enormous but somehow not stifling. The air is so thick with careless excitement that even Sherlock seems to be infected with it, and doesn't complain once after they arrive. He points out various deductions as they weave gradually through the horde of tourists and locals alike. Everyone is chattering or laughing or singing, all wrapped in so many layers of clothing it's almost impossible to move.
John, who has remembered his gloves this time but whose right hand is still firmly ensconced in Sherlock's left, scans the people in front of them for another likely target.
'Him?' he has to shout to be heard above all the noise, though no one pays him the slightest attention but Sherlock,
'Journalist,' Sherlock responds loudly and decisively, 'divorced but remarried, two children…suffers from selenophobia.'
John automatically glances upwards and is relieved for the man's sake that the moon is covered by a thick blanket of clouds.
'Been together three…no, four years. Living together with at least one dog; she's planning on proposing tonight.' John smiles despite himself, knowing that Sherlock would deem it stupid to let the affairs of strangers affect his mood but unable not to feel uplifted slightly by the sight of the couple. 'Too bad he's cheating.'
John's mood nose-dives. 'Thanks for that,' he retorts grumpily, 'now you've ruined it.'
'It's hardly my fault! I'm just relaying facts.'
John sighs and scans the crowd for someone else hopefully, forcing the not-so happy couple from his mind in search of a more cheerful object. 'Her?' He points to a girl laughing brightly at something her companion has just said.
'Drama student,' he deduces quickly, 'first time in London, only child…in love with her best friend.'
'Happy things Sherlock!' John complains loudly, 'why don't you leave out the misery for once? Tell me…I don't know, what they got up to last time they were drunk off their heads or something. I don't want to know if he's cheating or she's got an unrequited crush or –'
'I never said it was unrequited.'
'Oh. Good. How can you tell? Hang on no; don't answer that, of course you can tell. I'll take your word for it.'
'So you should,' Sherlock checks his watch, looking smug. 'It's almost midnight,' he shouts over a fresh roar of the crowd as the countdown is announced to be imminent, leaning automatically towards John so the latter can hear him better.
'I'd noticed!' John calls, giving Sherlock's hand a squeeze and pressing closer.
'TEN!' thousands of people bellow simultaneously, and John raises his voice even further, though by now Sherlock is just reading his lips.
'I've thought of a New Year's resolution for you!' he yells.
'Three hundred and sixty five days without a near death experience!' Sherlock rolls his eyes, but agrees.
'I'll do my best!'
'Liar!' John shouts fondly.
John grins into Sherlock's kiss and barely notices the fireworks exploding above them.
'Happy New Year,' he says.