So, this is the last chapter. I want to thank first and foremost my lovely beta Steffi. Thank you so much for helping me with your knowledge, your ideas and for your hard work. Without you this fanfic would not exist.
And I also want to thank you all who have read, favorited and alerted my fanfic and especially Skyfullofstars, dianaj2w, JustBeenCumberbatched, reflekshun, Vikki20, Doyle0915, Noremac1, veryloyalveryquickly, Beccalily, Electryone, Nattie Finn, HopeCoppice, Zarra Rous, rowsdowersavesus, w84u, KingHerod, rapalacha, Kagollie and LogicandWonderland for your kind and encouraging words. Your reviews kept me going.
Thank you all for sticking around with me so long. I'm planning to write a sequel. I have some ideas for the plot and at the moment I am working on the concept. So, if I like what I write, then, one day there will be another story. Until then goodbye and good luck and take care!
An electric flash shot through his body when Sherlock made the connection. John's lips felt soft and warm, but he wasn't responding. Still no movement. So he broke the kiss. Exhausted Sherlock lay his head in John's lap. He closed his eyes. There was nothing else he could do. He was frustrated and heartbroken. The fear that John would never talk again was overwhelming now. He felt like crying, but his logical brain denied the feeling, didn't want to give into the desperation. There must to be something he hadn't tried yet. No, he wouldn't surrender.
They sat like this for a long time. Sherlock's legs got numb. He knew sooner or later he had to get up, but he didn't want to lose the connection. Suddenly a butterfly touched his hair. And another one. Fingers ran through his curls ever so slightly. Sherlock grew still. He held his breath as if any movement he made could stop the gentle caress. The stroking continued. This felt good. He exhaled and relaxed. A sigh escaped from his lips. The fingers stopped, the hand stillresting on his head.
"Please, don't stop John. This feels so good." he demanded. "If you wish." was the hoarse respond from above. Sherlock froze and his thoughts began to race. "Yes, please." was the only thing he could say. Sherlock melted into the soft affection. Joy and happiness flooded his system. John had used his voice. He had spoken again. So fairytales could come true. Everything would be all right again in the end. John would be John again, his John.
"Sherlock, I..." rasped the voice from above. "I want to..." John hesitated once more. Sherlock could feel his friend tense up and so after a moment, he rose from John's lap and gazed at the man in the armchair, missing the tender warmth of the stroking hands already. "John, you are talking!" Once in a lifetime Sherlock allowed himself to state the obvious. A small smile crept over his lips. "John! You're here, you're conscious." Just to say his name and the knowledge that John was able not only to hear him but also to recognize him and to react towards him filled his heart with felicity. "But when? How?"
"Yeah, Sherlock I... I'm sorry." John's voice was only a faint whisper. "This, this is getting...getting too much for me." He cleared his throat. "I have to... I mean, I want to be alone right now." Shaking slightly he rose to his feet and walked up the stairs with unsteady steps.
Sherlock felt numb. This had not been what he had imagined happening as soon as his John would be back again. This felt so totally wrong. The sound of the closing door from upstairs tore him back to action. Sherlock got on his feet and stumbled towards the stairs.
"John, wait! Please wait!" He followed John upstairs, his knees protesting with the sudden movement. Slowly, he took one step after another, unsure what he would do, what he would say if he reached the door at the end of the stairs. To understand someone else's feelings had never been his strength. In what mood someone was and why, the impact that his inconsiderate remarks had on others, emotional intelligence, to name it, was his blind spot in contrast to his otherwise so comprehensive and perceptive deduction skills. John had made it his task to guide and compass him in these unknown fields. A guide he needed so urgently right now . He was afraid he could lose John with one careless comment again. He had to be very careful. He took a deep breath before he knocked gently on the door. Nothing, not the slightest sound did answer his knock. "John? John, it's me, Sherlock." Silence. He knocked again. "Please, let me in. We need to talk." Still no response. He tried the doorknob, but John had locked the door. Of course he could simply pick the lock and gain access. The locked door, however, clearly signalled that John did not want to let him in, did not want to talk to him. "John, please talk to me. If you do not want to open the door, that's fine, but please talk to me. I have been missing your voice." From the other side Sherlock could hear a faint squeak of the bed. He waited for the sound of footsteps and the turning of the key, but nothing happened. The silence on the other side of the door frustrated him increasingly. "John, I don't want to push you, I will be in the living room. If you're ready to talk, I'm waiting for you." He turned around and descended down the stairs, listening all the way, whether the door would open.
In the living room, he stood silent in front of the fireplace for a while. Outside, the sun went down. With a sigh he lit a fire. The flickering flames danced on the stacked wood logs and he watched their dance. Following a sudden urge, he got up and walked to his desk. In the top right hand drawer he stored his emergency package. He opened a window and with a click of the lighter, he lit his first cigarette in months. Inhaling the smoke deep into his lungs, he tried to relax consciously. The cigarette smoke curled and mingled with the twilight of the evening. The nicotine caused a slight, but not unpleasant dizziness in his head. The idea to take something stronger than just a cigarette was tempting him. But he had to keep a clear head in case John would bring himself to come downstairs. Flicking the ash out of the window he looked at the road below. Life flooded through Baker Street as nothing had happened. The people hurried in every direction, the bell from Speedy's chimed softly in the background when a customer entered or left the café. Finishing his cigarette, he threw the butt out of the window.
"Smoking can kill you, Sherlock." It was only a faint whisper, but it stopped Sherlock in his movement of closing the window. Out of the corner of his eye he could see John standing between the sofa and the door frame, ready for escape if he had to. "I know, but it helps me keeping my head clear." His voice trembled slightly. Clearing his throat he closed the window and turned around. He took two steps forward, but seeing John flinch he came to an abrupt halt. He felt a sting in his chest, as he recognized the pained expression on John's face. All he wanted was to bridge the gap between them and touch the man opposite him. The urge to take John in his arms and never let them be divided again was growing unbearable. Nevertheless, he froze on his spot to give John the opportunity to adjust to the situation.
"Do you want some tea?" It was perfectly clear that John only wanted to flee into tea making, his old soothing ritual. "No, I don't want tea, John. I want to talk."
"Alright, so you've got questions?" John hesitated. Sherlock examined John closely. The muffled voice and the red rimmed eyes told Sherlock that John had been crying in his room. He was still sniffling a bit and held a crumpled handkerchief in his left hand, but his face was tight, showing his distress. His stance was upright and stiff. In Sherlock's mind so many questions were burning. Some of the answers he dreaded and some of them he anticipated because of the letter John had written to him. But there was only one question which needed to be answered right now, the rest could wait. Locking his eyes to the warm deep blue which he had missed so heavily over the last weeks he moved to his chair, but didn't sit down. "I just want to know one thing right now. Did you hear what I was saying before I kissed you?" "Yes."
John´s face melted with awe and showed something Sherlock couldn't pinpoint immediately. After a split second it occurred to him. It was hope.
"And did you not only just listen, but have you understood what I have said?" Sherlock persisted.
"To be honest, I am not sure. Your statement left room for interpretation." Breaking the long silence his voice was raw and tender. John's face faltered. He was clearly afraid of answering the question, like he feared he could be wrong with his interpretation.
"Maybe the fact that I kissed you right after could help you find out the meaning of my words?" Sherlock arched a brow.
John bit his lip and broke the eye-contact to sit down on one end of the sofa. He cleared his throat nervously and fiddled with his handkerchief. "Look Sherlock, before I answer your question I have to tell you something you haven't asked. The mutism... I am... I wasn't... I mean, I didn´t develop the mutism on purpose, but after I woke from my coma I felt paralysed. You weren't there and I felt so alone. So I took the opportunity and backed off deep inside my head. I ran away from the hurt." Gaze fixed on his hands John blinked rapidly. "And I felt so comfortable and cosy. Almost peaceful. The outside world was only a whisper. Most of the time I had no energy to concentrate on what was going on around me. I just decided that I didn't want to communicate. It was an easy escape."
"But there was no need for you to escape." Sherlock ran his fingers through his curls. He was clueless. John navigated around his question without answering it. This conversation was getting him nowhere near where he wanted to be and what he wanted to hear. He calculated his options. Perhaps a more direct move would lead him faster to his destination.
"May I sit on the sofa, please?" John his gaze still fixed on his fiddling hands gave a court nod. Sherlock would have missed it if he hadn´t watched him closely. Careful and controlling every move he sat down on the further end of the sofa. Resting his left thigh onto the cushions and his hands in his lap he turned his body and his full attention towards John. "Why did you want to escape? Did you want to escape from me? Oh, living with me must have been hell."
John's head shot up. "No, it wasn't hell. No, don't think that way. As a matter of fact I developed these feelings I couldn't cope with and you couldn't have helped me. I was a coward. I backed off." He shot a quick glance over to Sherlock. Trying to relax he leaned his back against the sofa. He hissed as his wounded side made contact. "But I'm not backing off now. I will be honest with you, Sherlock. I shouldn't be hoping, but I can't stop thinking of all these things I should have said, but never did. Until today. Call this my revival speech," he stated humourless and tucked the handkerchief into the pocket of his jeans.
John closed his eyes, like he couldn't take to make his confession open eyed. "I want to explain. I need to explain, why I have done what I have done, why I have asked your brother for help me. Please, just listen to me. This is important. To me. I want you to understand. When I'm finished you can say all you want, or leave, or punch me. Anything you want to do, but now just listen, please."
His eyes still closed, head bowed, his hands steady now, he continued to whisper: "Do you know what it feels like inside me? …Being afraid of losing the most precious person in the world. …The one that makes your earth spin. …The one that makes your heart beat every single second of your life?" John inhaled deeply and now his voice became firmer, clearer. "The one you need desperately to exist, more like the air you breathe. The only one that can resurrect you. The one that you are craving for with all your senses, going mad because you are not allowed to even touch that person. Your fingertips burning because they are not allowed to touch and your soul yearning so much it feels like bleeding. But the only thing you want is this one person to be happy and you would do everything for his happiness."
He paused. His hands wrenched and then he buried his face in them. Still unable to open his eyes to see which impact his word had on Sherlock he continued his speech: "Even denying yourself and your own needs. Do you know what it feels like to dream and fantasizes about how it could be if it would be mutual? And every morning, you wake up and know that it isn't, and you feel the loss and the hurt tearing your chest open. And it hurts so much, Sherlock. Every day you feel like drowning in your own emotions. And you can't tell the beloved because you're afraid to lose the little you have got? Because loosing it would tear your world apart. I am so afraid of losing you. It will kill me literally. I don't want to live a single day without you. You make me complete. It is you I see when I think of home, Sherlock." Slowly he raised his head and opened his eyes. Sherlock still sat next to him. His face was blank. John swallowed. Tears flowing down his face. The Silence spread between them and grew louder. Finally John couldn't bear it any more. Sherlock sat opposite him like a marble statue. Emotionless, motionless.
"And now I have lost you, haven't I?" John's voice broke. He slumped into himself as if his life energy had left him, his face grey with despair. "I have scared you with my words. I am sorry, really, really sorry for causing you so much trouble over the last weeks. And you had to take care of me and couldn't take on cases like you wanted to. You had to abandon your work and everything else because of me. It is my fault entirely, I know. I will leave tomorrow morning, if you wish. I will no longer be a burden to you."
Processing all this information and the emotions John had spilled over him like cold water from a bucket Sherlock sat next to the most important person in his life and felt helpless. Where had this gone so totally wrong? He had just wanted his John back. He would have done anything to get him back. His head was spinning. In fairy tales after the kiss the couple lives happily ever after. Wait...couple? Yes, he thought about John and himself as a couple, they had been in some kind of relationship almost from the beginning, but it had shifted over the last weeks into something else. And why had John ignored his words before the kiss? Maybe he hadn´tlistened properly. He had to repeat them. Carefully he moved closer to John until their legs made contact.
"No, you haven't lost me at all. Quite opposite in fact. John, please, look at me!" John turned his head. And there they were. Eyes the colour of the warmest blue Sherlock had ever seen in his life. The windows to John´s tortured soul. "John, now you have to listen to me. Are you listening? Good!" Sherlock reached out and placed his hands on John's. He could feel the racing pulse below mirroring his own hammering heartbeat. "You said, you gave me your heart to look after. I want to give it back to you. But now it has company." With one hand he touched John's face. The tips of his fingers followed the traces the tears had left on his cheek. "These last few weeks showed me what I am actually feeling. For you. I know it is black and dried-up." Leaning his body closer Sherlock could feel John's hitched breath graze over his face. "Not capable of much, but will you take care of it? My heart? Because it loves you."
A genuine smile lit the fire in John's eyes. He licked his lips and his eyes flickered down on Sherlock's mouth and back to his eyes. "Yes, I will take care of them both. No matter what it takes. Because I love you, too."
Sherlock smiled. "Kiss me, you stupid idiot!" And John did.