Chapter Eight: Epilogue

It had been a year since Sherlock and John had gotten together, five years since Sherlock had faked his own death. Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson, Anthea, Lestrade, half of Scotland Yard, and even Angelo suspected a happy engagement any day now.

But first, Virginia and her wife were in town, along with Colin, Georgie's lover. John and Sherlock were going to dinner at Angelo's to catch up.

They got a booth near the back, ordered some of Angelo's finest champagne, and talked and laughed and ate for hours.

About halfway through the meal, however, Sherlock elbowed John lightly in the ribs, "Isn't that Alice Braddon and Gabrielle Henderson?" he asked as the two women entered the establishment.

Then John noticed another familiar face, "They're meeting with Freddy Croft!"

John got up and beckoned Freddy to come join them, and by extension Alice and Gabby. Gabby and Freddy apparently had gone to University together, and Gabby had been one of the friends that called Freddy an 'Army wife.'

More tables had been added to the party's booth, and more wine was poured. Introductions were made. Everyone had to know how everyone knew each other, of course, and they all had said they knew Sherlock and John. Glasses were raised to that, and hearty laughter followed.

John had a feeling Sherlock was antsy, though, and squeezed his hand under the table. "Too many people?" he asked.

Sherlock shook his head, "No…"

So he hadn't known that Alice, Gabby, and Freddy were to be there. That was a first.

Once all the food was eaten and everyone was on their last legs, the boisterousness of the table died down, and the silence was thick. It was a comfortable silence, but Sherlock still had to fill it. It was now or never. He picked up his half-full wineglass and said, "Ladies and gentlemen. I have to confess that I wasn't being entirely truthful about coming here to have dinner with Ginny, Georgie, and Colin… and then Alice, Gabby, and Freddy," he gestured with his glass at all of them once he had said their name, "I came here so that I could have witnesses. Because I don't always have an audience for when I do crazy things…" John grumbled something, and Sherlock rolled his eyes light-heartedly, "Okay… when it comes to the man sitting to my right here, I don't usually have witnesses for some of the crazy stuff I do because of him."

He turned to John. "John Watson, I love you. You know I have loved you since perhaps the first day I knew you. Of course, being the stubborn bastard I can sometimes be—" Alice and Virginia playfully raised their glasses at this "—Thank you, ladies… Being the stubborn bastard I can sometimes be, I didn't really know that it was love I felt for you until… well… until I had to lose you."

The corner grew solemn. They had all heard the story of Moriarty and the Fall. But there was a happy ending to that story, a return, a dance, and finally, confessions of love.

"So I want to thank everyone at this table for being here to be witness to me…" Sherlock knelt down on one knee, taking a box out of his pants pocket and making everyone—everyone—gasp. "Will you, John Hamish Watson, marry me, and make me the happiness man alive?"

John put a hand on his chest and gasped, for he had been holding his breath as soon as Sherlock reached in his pocket. The ring was a simple silver band, but John didn't care. He dropped out of his chair, tears in his eyes, and put his arms around Sherlock, pulling his close. "You bloody idiot, what do you think?" he asked.

"I think you should say yes," Sherlock murmured against John's collarbone.

"Not what I meant, Sherlock," John replied, warning in his voice. He scoffed, however and said, "Yes, you idiot!"

The room burst out into applause as Sherlock and John stood up and sat back down in their chairs, Sherlock turning to his new fiancé to put the ring on John's left ring finger.