Disclaimer: Don't own it, you know it, I know it, we all know it...
Sooo final chapter. Thanks very, very much for all of you who reviewed this fic with such kind words. Hope the last chapter doesn't disappoint. Some of you mentioned that you would like a sequel - not sure about that, not sure what I'd put in it... Still, doesn't mean I'll stop writing for Sherlock :)
Hope you enjoy it.
Strange, how taking a bullet for your sociopath flatmate could make life at home so incredibly awkward.
Free of the heavy pain medication, the endless blood tests and the numerous check ups and examinations, John walked the grey paving slabs of Baker Street with a strange nervousness fluttering his stomach. His good shoulder had now become his bad shoulder, and he was forced to carry the long, leather case in his left hand, which sent twinges of pain through the old scar in his arm. His limp had been playing up for a few days, but now it was beginning to slip out of his life once more, retreating to a small, barely noticeable falter. Sherlock dismissed its return with a wave of his hand, and had offered John the revolver to shoot at the wall. Scowling, John had snatched it and replaced it in the safe at the bottom of his wardrobe, all too aware that Sherlock would somehow figure out the combination and retrieve it the next time boredom crept up on them. But in all honesty the past few weeks, although uneventful, had been almost peaceful. Almost... pleasant.
According to Lestrade, who had dropped in to visit the day after John returned to the land of the living, Moriarty was under close surveillance in a secure unit owned by Mycroft somewhere in the British countryside. After their disastrous encounter with him in 221b, John had been unconscious for a week and a half. He also learned that Sherlock had demanded that he be removed from the hospital at around the same time and had managed to get Mycroft to set up a tiny clinic at home. John wasn't quite sure how he should react to this news. On one hand, he supposed he should be flattered that Sherlock had been concerned enough to refuse to leave his side. On the other, rejecting an entire hospital due to an inflated ego and a refusal to accept that anyone could possibly know more about what was the best course of action than himself was a far cry, even for Sherlock. Lestrade seemed to think it was endearing; Mycroft that it was slightly amusing. Eventually, John gave up on texting them. In the three weeks that followed, John contented himself with doing very little. He spent most of his time in bed or on the sofa, half asleep and enjoying Sherlock's running commentary on reality television. He limped from his bedroom to the living room and back again, rarely daring to venture downstairs. And once Mrs. Hudson returned there was little need to.
Sherlock was oddly attentive, oddly aware of John's presence. He, too, ignored the majority of cases that Lestrade offered up. When John fell asleep in front of the television, he would wake up with the thick blanket from his armchair thrown over him. When his punctured lung stung so much that all he wanted to do was itch, Sherlock would appear with cups of tea to keep his hands busy. For the first time John could remember, the world's only consulting detective seemed content to sit and read, or flick idly through old case files, or spend half an hour deciding what takeaway to buy. Mrs. Hudson's visits were frequent, usually involving home-cooked dinners or cakes, and a volley of high-pitched scolding, ordering that they were more careful, telling them that such reckless violence was completely and utterly pointless..
Eventually, John was allowed out of the house on his own. He had the dignity to feel a twinge of remorse for the way he had mothered Sherlock when their places had been reversed; once Mrs. Hudson returned, he got a fine taste for what it felt like to have someone watching over your every move. And even Sherlock's constant glances and scrutinizing stares were becoming stifling as the days crawled on. But John played the game, took his antibiotics and kept himself busy with as menial entertainment as he could find in 221b Baker Street. And as a month passed and he began to return to a relatively normal routine - which meant that Sherlock became less caring and more frustrated and bored - he began to notice just how quiet it was...
He didn't discuss Moriarty with Sherlock, and his flatmate didn't bring it up. It seemed to be an unspoken agreement between them; that Moriarty would be dealt with when they were ready, and that 'ready' was still a long way off on the horizon. In fact, John didn't discuss much with Sherlock at all. It seemed, particularly with the Holmes brothers, actions spoke louder than words. Some things couldn't be said. Some thing's were better demonstrated.
As he approached 221b, controlling his breathing as he walked in an attempt to lessen the small shards of pain spearing through his chest, John felt that anxiety tremble in his veins once more. He hadn't felt like this since he had turned up at Jane Morrian's house the night of prom and shaken her father's hand, knees jelly beneath him. Afghanistan brought a different kind of tension, a more brutal uncertainty. Affairs like these were... difficult. He hefted the case experimentally in his hand, wondering if it was meant to be so heavy.
"You can't just fix this one?" he had asked in the shop, watching as the large-bellied, hairy-armed man pawed through the carrier bag on the counter, his eyebrows raised.
"No, lad, I don't reckon. This one's past it. Shame, very nice make. What happened, again?"
John skirted around the question. "Do you have anything similar? As close as you can get to this one?"
The man's eyes had lit up, and he had vanished into the back of the small shop. John had waited for him to come back, and then appreciated with genuine awe the contents of the case he offered up. And then he had appreciated with genuine horror the price.
"You don't have anything... I don't know... cheaper?"
That had earned him a laugh.
But there were some things that surpassed life savings, that surpassed common sense, that surpassed almost everything for that matter. John Watson had all that he would ever need, here and now. He had his safety net back. And that was just about worth the strain on his bank accounts. Besides, if Mycroft was willing to shift hundreds of pounds worth of medical equipment into their flat at a moment's notice, John doubted the umbrella-twirling head of the British government was going to let him starve.
He reached 221B and stopped outside the glossy black door, hesitating. He felt ridiculous hovering about on the door step, and his eyes traveled up to squint at the window, half expecting Sherlock to be peering out. His flatmate had been rather more restless than usual recently; the calm phase of their holiday from crime was over, John no longer needed handling with kid gloves and every book, case note and document in the flat had been read and re-read. Which restricted him to trawling endlessly through internet posts and emails, which led to boredom, which led to general destruction and bad tempers throughout the flat... If nothing else, perhaps this would jolt him out of the grouchy, stubborn mood he had been stuck in for the last week or so. Shaking himself, John slid his key into the lock, turned it, and slipped inside. He called a greeting to Mrs. Hudson, received a muffled 'hello!' in response, made his way up the stairs. His chest was throbbing violently by the time he reached the top, but he felt good after the walk in the fresh, autumnal air, his lungs refreshed, his skin remembering how to feel the sunlight. He moved into the living room, smirked at the sight of Sherlock curled on the sofa, eyes glued to Jeremy Kyle, lip curled.
"For god - no - for god's sake are you all insane? No, it's not the cousin! Are you blind? How can you call yourself a professional? How?"
John put the case down quietly on the kitchen table. He paused, not quite sure what to say. In the end, he simply said, "Tea?"
Sherlock waved a hand. "Yes, yes, of course, I told you to make some half an hour ago, were you not listening?"
John snorted, turned to put the kettle on. The roar of boiling water filled the kitchen. John leaned against the counter, rubbing his chest, sighing, listening to Sherlock scream abuse at the television. Eventually, the detective leaped to his feet, turned the TV off with such force that it almost fell from its table, then stalked over to the desk and hunched over his - John's - laptop. John watched him scroll through their - John's - blog and the emails he had received, watched his face contort in frustration.
"Good god... Is it fun, John? Is it fun, with you normal people, having your normal little lives, I mean, have you read this drivel? Is this all I have for the next few weeks? My mind, John, my mind must be kept awake, my mind is falling into a coma!"
John poured out two mugs of tea. He carried them across the room, set Sherlock's down on the desk, then retreated to his own armchair. He picked up the paper, shook it out with a sigh of contentment, put his feet up. As he scanned the front page, Sherlock took a sip from his mug and then slammed it down on the desk with a bang.
"Too much sugar! Can you do nothing right, John? Two sugars, two teaspoons, is even that beyond your minuscule intellect?"
John rolled his eyes behind the paper, opened it up to the first page. "Mmmh," he said in response, cradling his own mug in his lap, wriggling into a more comfortable position in his armchair. Sherlock muttered under his breath, pushed some things on the desk around a little. He stood up, stormed over to the window, glared out at the street. John read the same sentence four times before opening his mouth to speak again, his breath strangely short.
"There's something on the table for you."
"I don't want any more ridiculous teenage clients!"
"It's not anything to do with clients."
"Well, I'm not having any more of Mrs. Hudson's oatmeal biscuits, they're disgusting and you're only encouraging her by wolfing them down every chance you get."
John's temper was inching from warm to hot, and he cleared his throat, closed his eyes for a moment to remind himself that he was supposed to be avoiding stress, he was supposed to be relaxing. "Will you just go and look?"
He could feel Sherlock's answering scowl through the folds of the newspaper. His flatmate scooped up his mug loudly, strode past so fast that the pages of John's paper fluttered. "Fine. I suppose I'll make another tea while I'm at it, seeing as nobody else in this entire city seems to be able to drum it through their thick skulls that-"
He broke off sharply, his footsteps came to a halt. John kept his eyes trained on the words of the newspaper, tried to stare at a picture of children conducting a charity event in Hampshire. The colors faded to grey before him; his ears were straining for sounds in the kitchen. He heard three quiet steps on the kitchen floor, heard the creak of buckles flipping open, the gentle squeak of leather as the case opened. John didn't know what to feel. Embarrassed? Smug? Proud? He didn't know. So he just sat in silence, carried on pretending to read his newspaper. His pricked ears heard a soft clunk, the whisper of a thumb against fine wire strings. There was a pause, a pause that seemed to stretch for a long, long time. Then the footsteps returned, and stopped behind him. He waited for a few seconds, and then craned his neck back to see Sherlock standing at his shoulder, his face still, his eyes oddly wide and brimming with something that John couldn't name. It wasn't an expression that John found familiar in his flatmate. In those long, slender, pale fingers was the dark, reddish neck of the violin, the sleek bow. John let his eyes rove over the instrument once more, taking in every smooth detail, reveling in the fact that if such a creation had the power to render Sherlock Holmes speechless, it must be worth all the money in the world. John felt a smile pushing at his mouth, glanced up at Sherlock, whose silent lips were parted.
"Well?" he prompted, grinning. "Give us a tune."
For a few moments longer, Sherlock simply stared at him. Something echoed between them as John held his gaze, something wordless that could never be restrained with words, something that was never meant to be said aloud. Something akin to gratitude and companionship and understanding... John shook his paper, returned to his article before Sherlock could grow uncomfortable. And yet still his flatmate lingered, standing frozen beside him. And just when John thought that the detective may have actually had some kind of stroke, Sherlock lifted the violin, rested it under his chin, and began to tune it.
And even before he had begun the concerto, John had lowered the paper, enraptured, watching the sunlight glide along the strings and reflect on Sherlock's porcelain skin, watching the bow arc gracefully through the air, watching the horsehair sing as those pale green eyes closed. Like tears, John thought suddenly. Like shimmering droplets of music, falling from somewhere private, and gracing the real world with their presence for fleeting, beautiful moments before slipping away again. John shut his eyes too. He listened to Sherlock play.
In a way, all the millions of worst possible moments that had come flying at him in the last few months were nothing compared to a moment like this. The moments that felt like, somehow, it was all worth it.
For now, they had won.
Hope you all enjoyed the story. Not sure if I'll write anything else for Sherlock for a while, although if anyone can think of some fun one-shots let me know :)
Reviews are welcome.