"Tea?" John asked.
"Please," replied Sherlock as he picked up the newspaper on the table and started flicking through the pages.
"Sherlock, where are the tea bags?" John asked as he found they had disappeared from the kitchen.
"Oh, my room. Top shelf in the cupboard." A questioning look crossed John's face. "Don't worry those ones are safe to use. The ones I used have disintegrated." John raised his hands above his head in defeat; he had given up understanding Sherlock's experiments a long time ago.
He went up the stairs and paused outside Sherlock's room, hesitating before slowly pushing the door open. It felt odd entering this room; it was like opening the door to Sherlock's mind. An ordered mess was probably the best way to describe it. There were objects and bits of objects everywhere but there was space to move around it all. Careful not to touch anything suspicious John got to the cupboard in question and opened it. Because he was slightly shorter, John couldn't quite see over the top shelf and so had to feel around. When he found what felt like the box of PG Tips he pulled them down, causing a small booklet to fall down too. He picked it up and looked at it. It was a small sketchbook. John had never seen Sherlock draw before, barely even pick up a pen, so he couldn't help but have a look at it.
The first page was a watercolour of a crime scene. The red blood contrasting against the blue tint of the scene, caused by the police lights. The sadness and emotion in the painting overwhelmed John that he felt like he was actually at this crime scene. Sherlock had a talent of music, he played the violin beautifully when he wanted to, but John had no idea that he had such skill with a paint brush as well. Was there nothing this man couldn't do?
The next picture was a sketch Sherlock had done of himself. The pencil lines were sharp and full of anger, the eyes piercing your soul. Underneath the image it said 'The Devil'. Clearly Sherlock had drawn this at a time when he had made a mistake and was cross with himself, possibly after the explosion of the 3rd pip during Moriarty's 'great game'.
The next page was a pencil drawing of a donkey, the title underneath 'Anderson', which John couldn't help but laugh at.
He turned to the next page and gasped. On it was a simple but brilliant pencil sketch of John. He had captured every feature perfectly, every line placed with care and love, the expression on his face a simple but warming smile. Sherlock had named the image 'My John'.
"John?" Sherlock called from downstairs. "John you haven't touched the orange liquid in the beaker have you?" John could hear him coming up the stairs but he couldn't move. He was fixated on this sketchbook. He flicked through the pages; there were more pictures of him. some of his dozing in his chair, some of him and Sherlock together, there was one of him in his army get up called 'Hero' which caused him to blush.
He turned to the last page and froze before a pale hand took hold of the booklet and yanked it out of his grasp, a furious Sherlock staring at him waiting for an explanation.
"Sherlock, I… it fell." Sherlock said nothing but looked down to the last image John had looked at. It was named 'Nightmare'. Sherlock quickly shut the pad and placed it at the back of the cupboard and walked out. John, still frozen, heard the front door open and shut which brought him back to his senses. He slowly walked downstairs and sat dazed on the sofa, the image engraved on his mind. Why had Sherlock painted that? He rubbed his chin as he recollected the details. It was a watercolour of Sherlock kneeling on the floor holding a very dead looking John Watson close to his chest, with his hand partially covering a gun shot wound to the liver area on John's body, a single tear on the cheek of the detective. The background was completely out of focus but the image of the two figures was sharp and unmistakable. The colours vibrant and harsh to look at, full of reds and oranges, the colour of anger. Had Sherlock dreamt this? Was Sherlock afraid of John being in Afghanistan in case this happened? Sherlock had been reluctant for John to go away.
John picked up his mobile and twirled it around in his hand, contemplating. After arguing with himself for far too long he dialled a number he had stolen from Sherlock's phone.
"Mycroft? Do you know where Sherlock is? I need to talk to him."
Within a few minutes John was walking back to the park, to the bench that he had sat on only a few hours earlier.
"I used to feed the ducks bread when I was little, what did you feed them?" The corner of the mouth of the man sitting next to him curled upward.
"I gave one some copper sulphate once."
"And what happened?"
"I don't know, my mother took me home before I had a chance to find out." The two men laughed.
"Sherlock, your artwork-"
"It's incredible. I had no idea you could draw." Sherlock was not a modest person, but whenever John found out something about Sherlock that made him even more like a freak, he would stiffen and get defensive.
"Just a hobby."
"You are truly amazing." Sherlock fiddled with the end of his scarf awkwardly.
"Would you sit for me one time? I'd like to do a portrait of you properly."
"Sure, I'd be honoured. Dinner?" Sherlock nodded and they walked back to the flat in silence.
John found a frozen pizza in the freezer and attempted yet again to show Sherlock how to work an oven.
"So you turn it to 220 degrees and put it on like so." Sherlock, however, had no interest in learning this information.
"John, I will not fill up my hard drive with useless information."
"Knowing how to cook is not useless information," John retorted but Sherlock had put his fingers in his ears.
After dinner John decided to ask the question that had been plaguing his mind.
"Sherlock," Sherlock looked at him, "your painting 'Nightmare', tell me about it." John could see Sherlock's brain going, trying to work out the best way to deal with the situation, should he lie, say it was inspired by something and it was just nonsense? No he couldn't do that. He took a gulp of air in and started to explain.
"I kept having this dream where I was watching you fight but you couldn't see me. There was an enemy hiding behind a wall and you couldn't see him, and I could, and I was calling out to you, telling you to watch out but you couldn't hear me. You thought it was safe so you walked forward and this man jumped out and shot you. I ran to you and held you in my arms begging for help but no one could hear me. You died in my arms. I had this dream every night you were away so I stopped sleeping. I painted it to try and make sense of it but I didn't help."
"It was only a dream," John said, resisting an urge to put his hand on Sherlock's shoulder. "There was nothing to worry about." Sherlock nodded in agreement but he was thinking the opposite. John had no idea of the fear he had felt, how he had woken up sweating and screaming John's name. Even talking about the dream now he could feel the perspiration on his fore head.
"I'm going to go to bed." John stood up and stretched his arms apart to express his exhaustion. Without warning Sherlock jumped up and clung to his chest, digging his face into John's jumper.
"Don't leave me," came a muffled voice. John, stunned, tried to pull Sherlock off of him. "Promise me, you won't leave me ever again."
"Sherlock, what-?" Sherlock looked up at John, his crystal eyes watery and more beautiful than John had ever seen them.
"I love you." John stared at him for a moment in disbelief, but then slowly wrapped him arms around Sherlock and pressed his head to his chest and whispered,
"I love you too, and I swear I will never leave you. You're stuck with me forever, whether you like it or not!" Sherlock hugged him tighter. In those few minutes he had shown more emotion than he had in his life. He loved John and he never wanted to let him go. Ever.