A/N – This is a giant PWP, so don't expect deep meaningful character development stuff. Thanks to ScopesMonkey for doing the beta work and for the leading me to the title, any remaining mistakes are mine alone.
Warning – Lots of dirty bits coming in the following chapters.
Disclaimer – If I owned them I wouldn't be painting my bathroom by myself.
I am sitting on the edge of the bed listening to the sounds of John moving about the flat. I can feel the weight of the suitcase as it sits on John's side of the mattress. He's double checked it to make sure he hasn't forgotten anything. I glance over at him as he walks back into the room. He tosses his toiletry kit in and starts to zip the case closed. I turn away, looking at the floor.
I lived without John Watson for over thirty years and now the prospect of him going away for five days makes my chest hurt. It's ridiculous and embarrassing.
He rests his hand on my head and his nails scrape across the base of my skull. It's one of my favourite sensations and he knows it. My eyes close as his fingers trace behind my ear before pulling on my earlobe.
"You can come with me," he says, not for the first time. "I know that it's last minute, but we can splurge on a ticket."
"My return to Las Vegas was strongly discouraged. Not Las Vegas specifically, I can return to the city. However, I am not welcome in any of the hotels, restaurants, or casinos. I believe it will seriously dampen the wedding festivities if we are sleeping in an automobile in the desert."
"I'll be sleeping in a luxury hotel suite - if you're in the desert that's entirely up to you." I can hear the smile in my still-new husband's voice. I know that he will lean down and place a kiss on my head just before he does so. "You've never told me that story. I want to hear it when I get back."
"You won't like it." That is an understatement. "You'll be upset."
"I can hardly get upset with you for something that happened before I knew you." Interesting that he thinks so, I'm fairly certain that he would, indeed, be angry. That was by no means my finest hour.
"You are rarely that logical, John. I'd rather not test that notion."
He kisses my head again. "If you say so." His hand settles on the back of my neck. He massages the muscles there, digging his fingers in just past the point of being comfortable. It is another of my favourite sensations.
"You could not go. Las Vegas is distasteful, John. You aren't going to like it. You can just stay here with me. You haven't even seen this man in…"
"Five years. I know. But we email all the time, you know that. He's a good mate and I'm honoured he included me." I nod, I do know all of this. Alan Turner seems like a decent man. He is Harvard educated and is marrying a Stanford educated woman, both doctors. They are perfectly respectable people - how boring. It's only natural that John would want to share in their happiness. John is sentimental that way.
"It's only five days," he says again.
Five days alone in our bed. Five days with no one to talk to. Five days with no John. I haven't gone more than two nights without John since we became involved, and that was for a case. I am not anxious to do so now, especially as he's going to be in a different country, thousands of miles away.
I already miss him and he hasn't even left yet. I'm aching for him. It's just uncalled for.
I reach up and wind my arms around his waist. He moves close and I bury my face into his stomach. He wraps his arms around my head.
"I'm going to miss you, too," he says, his voice barely above a whisper. I nod, glad he knows it without me having to say it. It's important to me that he knows.
We stay like that for a long moment before I take a deep breath and release him. He has to go, I know that. I let out a long sigh.
"I'll call you when I get there." He moves to the bed and grabs his coat. I stand and watch him as he puts it on. He looks awake and alert and that is out of place at this early hour. I don't like it. I don't like any of it. He grabs his suitcase and his carry-on and he follows me out of the room and down the stairs.
I open the door for him. He stands in front of me and stretches up to give me a kiss. His tongue brushes across my lips before he pulls back. He smiles at me before he turns and heads out the door. I listen to his footsteps on the stairs and then the front door opening and closing. I move quickly to the window and watch as John puts his bags into the cab. He looks up at me and smiles again. I feel the warmth settle in my chest that always comes with that smile. My smile.
He gets in the cab and I watch as it drives off.
I am alone.
His flight leaves Heathrow at 7:55, lands in Chicago at 10:10, leaves Chicago 11:55, lands in Las Vegas 13:46. Five days and counting.
I walk back into the bedroom, pulling my shirt over my head and dropping it onto the floor. John won't be back for five days so there is no need for me to pick it up right away. I used to leave clothes on the floor all the time before John.
I did lots of things differently before John.
The t-shirt John slept in is sitting on top in the basket. I pull it out and pull it on. John wore this shirt while we had sex last night. It smells like him and me and sex. It's powerful and delightful. I climb back into bed and bury my face into John's pillow. I take a deep breath and hold it. I feel surrounded by John.
I close my eyes and drift off.
I'm fairly certain that John has made me stupider. He's made me stupider and manages to fill the intellectual holes with his presence. Now that he's gone I'm an absolute idiot.
It was three in the afternoon when I woke up. I glanced at the clock and experienced an overwhelming moment of panic. I hadn't heard from John. I was certain that I should have heard of him.
I was actually in the process of searching for plane crashes before I remembered the time difference.
As I said, idiot.
Obviously this relationship is deteriorating my mental capacity.
And I miss him so much. When I think about John it actually hurts me, my chest gets tight and it's hard to breathe. Five days is forever.
I get up and move to the living room. The skull is looking at me, judging, laughing. I turn him towards the wall. He's less annoying that way. I go into the kitchen and open the fridge. I'd agreed to eat at least one container of food a day. I grab the first one and open it. It's an odd looking pasta dish, but John wouldn't have left it for me if he wasn't certain that I would like it.
It should probably be eaten warm though so I put it in the microwave.
I leave it in there for two minutes, which is apparently too long because I burn my thumb trying to grab it. I suck on the wounded digit before I hear John's voice chastising me in my head. I move towards the sink and the cold water, but reject it. He's not here, he doesn't get to tell me what to do. I grab a towel and use it to pick up my dish before heading back into the living room.
I set the food on the coffee table so that it can continue to cool. I don't wish to burn myself further. I turn the telly on and start to move through the channels. I settle on one of those ridiculous James Bond movies that John enjoys so much. They are trite and predictable but brainless entertainment seems fitting currently.
I settle into watch it, not bothering to criticise it because John isn't here to be annoyed with me. What's the point?
I'm completely distracted by it until the Bond character and the redheaded woman end up in Las Vegas. I see some of the recognisable buildings and have to change the channel. John is going there and it is so far away. I flip up one and settle on something I cannot identify. There are cars driving around.
I glance at my food sitting on the table and reach for it. It's at room temperature now and I debate heating it again. I decide against it. It's good, very good actually. I should not have doubted John on this; he would not lead me astray. Eating is too important to him for that.
I miss him. The cars driving around are stupid and boring. They aren't even running into each other.
I set the container back on the table. There's no need to take it to the kitchen. John won't be home for five days. I can grow things in it until then. I can study the bacteria that make the container home. It will be interesting.
John doesn't like it when I grow things on the food containers. He insists it is unhealthy. But he isn't here to prevent it. He shouldn't have gone away.
And the cars driving around are still stupid.
I'm going to take a shower.
I carefully pull John's shirt off and set it on the bed. It still smells passable so I'll wear it again tonight. No point in getting another of my shirts dirty, that's just more laundry for John. I know he'd rather not come home to a whole basket full.
I turn the water up to a higher temperature than I normally use; John likes it this way, but always settles for the cooler water when he showers with me. Always compromising. Always John.
The hot water stings but I don't adjust it. It feels good as all of my muscles relax because of the temperature and the steam. Perhaps John is onto something here. I grab John's shampoo and wash my hair with it. It smells like him and I want to smell like him.
It makes my chest ache a little more, but I feel good, too. I use his soap to wash and then stand there until the water runs cold. John likes to take long showers. I only see the appeal if John is in here with me.
I open the curtain and grab John's towel. He used it this morning before he left. I can still smell him on it as I wipe it across my face. It smells so good.
I drop the towel on the floor as I leave the bathroom. Towels on the floor are one of John's pet peeves, but by the time he gets home the towels are going to need to be washed again. How long can they sit on the floor before they acquire that sour smell? I might as well find out.
Besides, I used to keep towels on the floor all the time before John. I don't like hanging up towels. It takes time and the bar can be difficult to navigate.
I walk into the bedroom and grab John's shirt and pull it over my head. I still smell like him, that's nice.
It's 10:42 pm when John calls me. I almost don't answer it because I am currently angry at him. I can't believe that he did this to me, that he left me here by myself. But he won't know that I am angry if I don't answer the phone . What's the point of being angry if John doesn't know it?
"Hello," I snap at him.
"Hey," he replies, not bothering to acknowledge that I am angry. His voice is calm and far away. I miss him, my chest hurts. "I just got to the hotel, the rooms they are putting us up in are huge." He pauses. "I wish you were here to see it." John's voice doesn't waver. If his chest is hurting too he's covering it up very well. He's better at things like this than I am.
I still don't say anything. I just listen to the John noises as they come through the phone. His breathing is even and normal. He's walking around as we talk, probably unpacking what he brought. I can hear the slight alteration in the echo as he enters the bathroom. John sounds different surrounded by the tiles.
"What did you do today?" he asks after a moment, I can see him as he sits down, waiting for my reply. He's tired, probably from boredom. John likes to sleep on planes. I have no doubt that he did so on the flights today.
"I watched some telly, ate one of my required meals."
"Good." John is pleased that I ate. I knew he would be. "Did you call Lestrade to get the cold case files? He mentioned that he'd pull some for you."
No, I think. "Not yet," I reply. He won't be happy that I didn't do this. He worries about me when I get bored. I'm not exactly bored. "I worked on an experiment instead." I look at the container sitting on the coffee table and think of the towel sitting on the floor in the bathroom. It isn't precisely a lie.
"Did you learn anything from it?" he asks, he always shows interest in my experiments. It is one of the many areas where John is truly unique. He is genuinely interested in what I do.
"It is still ongoing," I reply. "I should have a definitive answer by the time you return. And before you ask, no there are no acids involved."
"Glad to hear that." He lets out a little chuckle, "Call Lestrade tomorrow if you get the chance. Well, I just wanted to let you know I arrived safe." I'd known that already. I'd monitored his flight status continually on the airlines website and kept a constant search for airplane crashes. There hadn't been one. "I'm going to try and grab a quick nap before Stag Night Take 1."
The idea seems ridiculous to me. Grown men running around a city devoted to vices, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, looking at naked women, gambling away funds and all of it to celebrate the termination of one's status as an unmarried individual. I'm glad John did not feel compelled to have one of these celebrations before we were married.
"Where are you going?" I ask because I think it's required of me.
He sighs, he's tired. "Dinner, drinks, and some club that Alan knows. Apparently, it is some sports establishment, so you don't have to worry about me running off with a stripper." Well, I hadn't given that any thought at all until he'd said something. I add that to my list of concerns. I know that John will never cheat on me. However, a part of me is always concerned that John might decide that life with me is too complicated. It is an irrational fear, but one that I can never completely dismiss. "Apparently there are some basketball championship thing going on in the States right now, I think Alan called it March Madness. I think I'd rather watch the naked women."
"All things considered, I think I prefer you to watch basketball." He laughs at that. It's an amazing sound and I miss it.
"Of course you would. I'll talk to you later. I love you."
I feel the warmth that those words always bring. When we first became involved I expected that I'd find the continuous repetition of them tiresome. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love hearing them every time. I also love saying them.
"I love you, too." I say. The warmth helps curb the ache as John rings off.