We had a life, we had a love,
But you don't know what you've got 'til you lose it.
Well that was then and this is now,
And I want you back.
How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?
Once again Mycroft had made an unwelcome appearance at the flat of 221b. He was giving an unwanted lecture to his younger brother about the predicament he was in. Sherlock wasn't paying attention, instead he sat on his leather chair staring into space, fingering the bow of his violin.
"-John-" Sherlock winced, it still hurt to hear that name, to think of his face, the first day they met, the day he left…
Mycroft was still going on. Sherlock only half heard what he was saying, but he knew it was basically what he had been saying for weeks now.
"-you brought it upon yourself you know. Did you really expect him to stay through all your tantrums and demands? You were lucky he stayed for as long as he did! Honestly Sherlock, you could have tried harder to-"
Sherlock ran through that last day in his mind for the one thousandth time. He had brought home a human hand from the morgue and left it in the kitchen sink to putrefy. John had not appreciated it, and after the stress with Sarah - she had just broken up with him because of the baggage John carried around in the form of Sherlock, he had exploded. Sherlock had never seen John so angry. Feeling guilty and slightly afraid Sherlock had left the flat to work on a project at Bart's, and returned to find all life of John removed from the flat. Everything he had owned was gone. The only proof that John had ever lived there was a letter pinned to Sherlock's replacement skull (from the one Mrs Hudson took). It explained how John had tried to be patient and forgiving, but he just couldn't take Sherlock's selfishness anymore, and that he would be moving in with his sister until further notice.
How can something so good go so bad? He thought to himself. "How can something so right go so wrong?" He asked aloud, looking at Mycroft with childish, puppy dog eyes, truly in pain. Mycroft's heart went out to his pathetic little brother.
"I don't know, I don't have all the answers." Sherlock broke the eye contact with Mycroft, that wasn't the answer he had wanted, and lost himself in his thoughts once more. In his head he was chanting over and over,
but I want you back, how many times can I say I'm sorry?
"What do I do?" Sherlock asked. The question came out as a snarl, he hated asking his brother for help, but for once he was willing to swallow his pride to get his John back. Mycroft twisted his umbrella around his hand.
Sherlock had tried that. For weeks he had continued to solve cases, but even that had lost it's appeal since John left. He no longer had anyone he could talk a case through with, the skull really did attract attention, and if he ever needed assistance, like a text needed to be sent, John was no longer there, first in line to follow instructions with his full trust and co operation. Even shooting things with Lestrade's gun wasn't as affective as John's weapon. Sherlock had debated numerous times to just text John, to apologise, but his pride would never allow it. Instead he spent his days drowning in self pity and guilt.
"If you just give me Harriet Watson's address, or the address where John works-"
"You can run, and you can hide-" Mycroft sang.
"Please." This stunned Mycroft, his brother had never been so sincere before. Even when Sherlock really needed something he insisted on being sarcastic, but there was no hint of malice in his voice here.
"I am off to see a high member of parliament about something of national importance. I think you need to take your mind off this, why don't you assist me?" The corner of Sherlock's mouth curled upward in disgust.
"If you have no intention of helping me, then you can leave," said Sherlock dismissively.
"But I'm not leaving less you come with me," Mycroft threatened with a smile, passive aggressively. "We've had our problems, Sherlock, but I'm on your side." Sherlock said nothing, but his eyes narrowed and his lip twitched. In a dramatic sigh Mycroft kicked the bottom of his umbrella so it swung up in the air and then fell back down again. "You don't look well Sherlock," he paused, "perhaps you should go see the doctor on Canon Street."
Sherlock's expression changed slightly, catching Mycroft's smug look out of the corner of his eye. With a suggestive raise of the eyebrows Mycroft headed for the door. Sherlock waited until he was certain that his brother had left, and then he jumped out of his chair and ran up the stairs, two steps at a time, a plan forming in his mind.
You're all I need, John, please believe in me.
It was another dull day at the surgery today for John. The pay was good, the hours not bad, and he liked all of the staff. But there was still a gaping hole in his chest that would eat him up from the inside. Every day had the same old routine, John felt like a ghost in other people's lives, just existing the background. He would go to work, tell his patients to rest for a few days and stop being so dramatic, a cold does not mean you are going to die, and then he would go home to his sister, try and avoid an argument with her, and then sit on the end of his bed trying not to think about what kind of exciting cases Sherlock might be solving that day. Sometimes, if the days got really dark, the psychosomatic limp would return.
Today was one of those days. John did his best to walk without any assistance from his stick, but it wasn't easy and it slowed him down. It took him too long to walk to the bus stop and so he missed his bus. Cursing, he sat on the seat in the bus shelter and waited for the next one to arrive. There was a man beside him reading the newspaper. Out of curiosity John had a look at the front page, there was an article on the recent capture of an allusive drug baron by a DI Lestrade of Scotland Yard. So that is what you have been up to Sherlock, John smiled to himself. A pain shot through his leg. Again he cursed as he tried to massage his calf with his cold hands.
Was it really the right thing for me to leave? John asked himself for the up-teenth time. I only wanted someone to love, he thought to himself, but something happened on the way to heaven, because that was how he pictured his relationship with Sherlock, they were on the way to heaven, on the way to happiness. My life with Sherlock, it got a hold of me and wouldn't let go, but it broke down. God, why did it have to break down? An image of Sherlock looking beautifully peaceful, laying on the sofa flashed through John's mind. And I want you back. Without thinking John checked his phone. No new messages. How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?
John saw his bus at the end of the road coming closer, his life was calling him again.
"You can run, and you can hid," he murmurs to himself. John could almost hear life replying to him, a whisper in the wind.
"But I'm not leaving less you come with me." Real life was forcing him out of his fantasy.
On the seat next to him on the bus, someone had left a newspaper, it was the same one as the man from the bus stop was reading. Again the front page was facing him, the mention of Lestrade's name bringing back the good, and not so good memories. Oh Sherlock, we've had our problems but I'm on your side, you're all I need, please believe in me.'
Walking into Canon Street Sherlock resisted the urge to scratch the putty that was itching his face. The scruffy clothes he was wearing were uncomfortable as well. The opposite of his nice suits, these clothes were baggy and cheap, the faded blue jeans had a rip in them on the left knee and the striped shirt unfitted. It had taken Sherlock 2 hours and 3 boxes of putty to get the look he wanted. He had completely changed the shape of his face, his nose wider and his cheeks more rounded and flushed. He had made his eyes look tired with make up and he had yellowed his teeth. He had also fastened a wig to cover his raven curls that John was bound to recognise. Instead he had opted for a short, silvery blonde army cut that clashed with his skin, making him look ill. Or maybe he always looked ill these days.
Checking every building he walked past, Sherlock finally came to the house that had a gold plaque next to the door. It read 'Canon Street Surgery'. Sherlock hunched his shoulders before pushing open the door with one hand, and putting the other in his pocket.
Stalking up to the desk Sherlock waited impatiently as the nurse slowly finished filing her notes and eventually acknowledged his existence.
"How can I help you?" She asked pleasantly.
"I was wondering if I could see Dr Watson."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No," Sherlock said with an apologetic smile. The nurse checked her computer screen.
"Is Friday a good day for you?"
"No, I need to see him today, now." Sherlock was a little too forceful as he said this and the nurse gave him a strange look. She will be reluctant to do anything for me now, he groaned to himself.
"All of his appointments for today have been taken, Dr Crieff is available if you need-"
"No, it needs to be Dr Watson." She looked questioningly at Sherlock again. "Dr Watson treated me at his previous practise and so he knows my condition and so he will be the best judge on how to treat it," Sherlock explained. He had come up with the lie in seconds but he had told it with such conviction that the nurse had taken the bate.
"I will see what I can do, take a seat please, Mr…?"
"Mr Smith," she smiled and indicated the waiting area.
Taking a seat Sherlock begins to assess the room to pass the time. He had already decided that the nurse he had been talking to was pregnant, possibly 4 months, and she had already begun to shop for it. She wasn't married so it probably wasn't planned but she was excited about it.
"Thank you doctor." Sherlock looked up to see a young nurse exiting one of the consulting rooms down the corridor. She pushed her fringe behind her ear, she was flirting with the doctor in that room.
"You're welcome," said a voice behind the door.
"John…" Sherlock whispered, and then he frantically looked around. No one seemed to have noticed Sherlock's random outburst.
The nurse walked to the front desk and started to talk to the nurse Sherlock had spoken to. A surge of jealousy burned through Sherlock's body. He wanted to go over there and tell that woman to stay away from his John, but he knew he couldn't. And it killed him.
15 minutes of impatient waiting finally rewarded Sherlock with his first glance of John as he saw his alias appear on the screen.
Mr Smith, Room 4.
The nurse at the desk smile at him as he walked past towards the door. Sherlock would have smiled back but the adrenaline was pumping through his body and his mind was racing as he questioned how he would play this. Taking a deep breath Sherlock pushed open the door.
He could have collapsed to the floor at the sight of his army doctor. John was sitting behind his desk tapping away on his computer keyboard. He looked so tired, serene. Sherlock yearned to put his arms around John, as he looked apologetically at Sherlock and sighed.
"Mr Smith I am so sorry, I have been told you asked to see me because I have treated you before, but I have no memory of you." It took a moment for Sherlock to remember how to speak, it broke his heart to hear John sound so empty.
"That is quite alright." Sherlock remembered to alter his voice as he spoke, it was higher pitched and had a slight accent on the vowels.
"How may I help you?" John asked as he gestured Sherlock to the chair in front of his desk.
"I have this throbbing pain in my chest when I breathe in, and I get these migraines in my head," Sherlock placed his hands on the relevant areas and faked a wince as he spoke. John stood up and walked to where Sherlock was seated, picking up a stethoscope along the way.
"Any other symptoms?" John asked mechanically as he began to look into Sherlock's eyes with his light.
"Racing heart, increased breathing and perspiration." Sherlock was really getting into his character now.
"I need to check your heart beat, could you just undo your shirt buttons for me please." John's patient obliged as he continued to make up more symptoms.
"I've had trouble sleeping, nightmares, that sort of thing." John was only half listening to Mr Smith's problems, it just sounded like stress to him. But as he removed the shirt from his back John hesitated. There was a series of small scars on the right side of Mr Smith's chest, and one long one to the left of his belly button that gave John a feeling of familiarity. Those scars, I'd know them any where, and that pale skin, Sherlock…? John said nothing and continued the pretence of a doctor and his patient as Sherlock babbled on about other issues he has had.
The cold stethoscope tingled on Sherlock's chest and Sherlock stopped talking momentarily. He had noticed John's silence and thought he may have over done the symptoms a bit. John was staring at his chest and it made Sherlock feel self concious and uncomfortable.
John couldn't believe it. Could it really be Sherlock sitting before him? And why was he wearing this ridiculous disguise?
It had been such a long time since John had seen Sherlock, and now here he was, with his chest on display. It was what John had wanted for months when he lived with Sherlock. So many times Sherlock had ordered him to search through his pockets for some item or another and John had only done it because he was addicted to the feeling he had every time his skin met Sherlock's. And now the withdrawal was getting unbearable. Before he could help himself John reached out and hovered his hand over the scars, lightly brushing the stretched white skin. John's fingertips burned at the touch.
Sherlock was watching John through his eyelashes, his breathing getting faster as John touched him. He suppressed a groan that wanted to escape through his lips. He could feel goose bumps form all over his body as John's fingers passed over his nipple. His body stiffened, he had never been touched like that, John noticed the change and finally looked him directly in the eye.
John immediately dropped his hand, and Sherlock was slightly disappointed by this.
"What are you doing here?" He asked, trying to hide the pinkness in his cheeks.
"I just wanted to see how you were."
"You came here, dressed like that, to see how I was?" John didn't sound impressed.
John folded his arms.
"I am fine, I have this job, good pay, nice people, no nasty surprises." He seemed to emphasise the last point. "And yourself?"
"I'm fine, fine." The two of them were in silence, both of them had so much they wanted to say but neither of them would take the first step. Stubbornness was something they had in common.
John laughed suddenly.
"It's just, I don't think blonde suits you." John pointed to the wig Sherlock still had attached to his head. Sherlock smiled and walked over to the mirror in the room and removed his disguise with care. He took the wig off and ran his hands through his hair to give his curls their bounce back. As he picked off the last bits of putty from his jaw John said teasingly, "now there's the Sherlock I know!"
Sherlock smiled again and then proceeded to wander around the room, pretending to look at John's new life.
"Very nice," he murmured.
"Yes, well, as I say this job is exactly what a recovering army doctor needs."
It's not what you need though, Sherlock thought to himself.
"I want you to come home."
John was bewildered at Sherlock's admission. He couldn't be serious? Not after all that he had put him through, the body parts, the late nights and early mornings, the lack of empathy and the demand for attention.
"Sherlock, I have a life now." And he was just getting used to it. Living with Harry was getting tolerable, the serenity of his new life was becoming normal, and he had considered asking one of the nurses out. He was certain she had been flirting with him for a while now. But he had decided against it, she wasn't what he wanted so it wouldn't have been fair.
"You can run, and you can hide but I'm not leaving less you come with me."
Sherlock watched as John assessed the situation. He meant what he had said, he wouldn't be leaving here without John.
John walked towards the door and Sherlock panicked, he wasn't going to walk out on him again was he? He debated going after him but was relieved when he heard John's voice talking to the receptionist.
"Something very important has come up, can you give the rest of my patients to Dr Crieff and tell him I will make up for it. Thank you."
John returned and picked up his coat from the back of his chair.
The taxi journey to 221b was done in complete silence. John refused to look at Sherlock, and he was certain Sherlock was thinking the same.
As John entered the flat for the first time in months he recoiled as the stuffiness suffocated him. He immediately went to the window, drew the curtain and opened the window, letting the air in. He was sure this room hadn't seen sunlight for a very long time.
The flat was a mess, papers and chemistry equipment everywhere, just like usual then, he thought to himself.
"Why have you brought me here Sherlock?"
"I want you to come home," he repeated. John shuffled on his feet, unable to think of a suitable reply. He still wasn't sure. Sherlock took a step closer into John's personal space. "We've had our problems but I'm on your side, you're all I need, please believe in me."
"They say you can't take it with you," he said slowly, "when you go, and I believe it. But taking what I've got or being here with you, you know," his watery eyes met Sherlock's, "I'd rather leave it." John swallowed, his throat was dry and raspy.
"We had a life-"
"We had a love," corrected John. Sherlock continued.
"But you don't know what you've got 'til you lose it. Well that was then and this is now, and I want you back. How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?"
Sherlock edged closer.
"You have to promise," and closer, "that it will be different this time," and closer.
"I promise John, I will do everything I can to make you happy," and closer.
Sherlock had backed John up against the wall, their noses were almost touching. Sherlock could see John was afraid, so was he, but he allowed instinct to take over. He brushed his nose down John's jaw line and hesitated as he reached the dip in the collar bone, his breath warming the skin. Feeling his heart beating wildly, Sherlock slowly moved his mouth closer to John and placed a tender kiss on the base of his jaw line. John couldn't help but let a small quiver of pleasure escape from his throat. Sherlock smiled as John tilted his head, exposing more of his neck for Sherlock to have his way with him.
John's lips were in line with Sherlock's ear, so Sherlock could pick up John's murmurs between groans of pleasure. The words burned through his skull and carved themselves on his heart.
"You can run, you can run…"