Hello strangers. I have no idea how long it's been since I wrote something for this site. And this is my first try at Sherlock fic too so double the pressure.

Yes, folks, this is yet another Post-Reichenbach/attempted suicide (sort of) fic. I know, how original right? I just really wanted to do my own take on this and was also in inspired by a gorgeous piece of fanart over at DeviantArt. Feel free to put your slash goggles on for this if you wish though I did originally write it as just friendship (it's kind of hard to tell where the line is with these two). So like I said, I'm a bit rusty here but I am happy with how this turned out even though I'm still trying to get a hold of these characters. I hope you enjoy.



Shield Me


His shoes were slowly beginning to wear out as he dragged his feet along the pavement. Ever since that day, wherever he walked, he moved on autopilot. No sense of direction. No choice. No purpose. His body led him to where his instincts needed to go. To get out of bed, to go to the bathroom, to the kitchen, out the door, to work, back to his bedsit, kitchen, bathroom, bed.

Lather, rinse and repeat.

So if John Watson appeared to be moving like a zombie; face blank, heavy lidded, limbs tense and eyes piercing their way through empty space, it was a due to a simple reason. His body was hallow. He could fill it up with food, water or even the few pints of alcohol he'd poured down his throat tonight. It didn't matter. Nothing ever filled that void. His eyes stared into nothing because there was nothing left to see. Nothing left that they wanted to see. Even as the lager caused his vision to distort, the world could not be any less stale and tedious.

Walking along the river bank past midnight on this blustery night, he managed to find the will to tell his body to stop. Just for a moment. He stood still and leant his head on a nearby lamp-post. His screwed his eyes up. Gritting his teeth, he remembered the day this mental torture had begun.

And no. It wasn't the day one would think it began. Definitely not that day.

When he'd stood on that road and watched, helpless, as the best man he'd ever known had stretched out his arms and fell through the air...to when he'd seen his body broken on the pavement below, blood pouring from a concave skull; he hadn't felt empty. Everything from terror to rage had boiled up inside of him to the point that his mind had no other option that to shut down under the pressure. And so he'd fallen to his knees mere metres from where Sherlock Holmes lay dead on the ground. He'd managed to steal one last touch, one grasp of his wrist, before the crowds dragged him away.

In that touch; the anger had vanished, just for a second. In that touch, his friend's arm still warm with remnants of life, every moment of their friendship had flickered through his mind. Every smile, every joke, every look, every last second that Sherlock had made him feel alive. And Sherlock was alive with him, held safely in his hand, everything was okay – until he'd let go.

The next few weeks had passed like a dream. John went through what his therapist had said were the typical stages of grief.

Denial. It was a trick. A set up. Only Sherlock Holmes could pull off a stunt like this.

Guilt. If I hadn't left him in the lab...If I'd dragged him to check on Mrs. Hudson with me...If I'd got to Barts sooner...If I'd just said the words he needed to hear...

Bargaining. Your stash, Sherlock. It's all under your favorite chair, right under your nose, you twit. Take it. It's all yours on one condition. Just...come back. Please, just come back to me.

Reflection. Mrs. Hudson keeps on knocking on my door. Harry keeps on ringing my phone. I'm not interested in seeing or talking to any of them. I have to stay here, in this chair, staring at the empty space in yours opposite. If I concentrate hard enough; you're there. You're sat in some strange, cat-like position, donned in your blue dressing gown, playing a crooning tune on that violin as you stare at the ceiling. Any distractions, no matter how well-meaning they may be, it means I've lost you again.

Rebooting. One day I get myself dressed. I let Harry know I'm ok. I've told work I'm ready to come back. I'm talking. I'm eating and meeting up with people. They ask me how I am and I have the strength once more to lie. And suddenly; you're no longer in your chair.

Working Through. I'm 'living' in every primary sense of the word. I'm doing the housework, I'm buying groceries, going to work, paying the bills, going out to stop myself from being shut up in the flat and trying to rebuild your image in my head. Everything is back to how it was before...My life pre-Sherlock Holmes.

And, finally; Acceptance...

Mrs Hudson had rang him to say that she'd found some gorgeous carnations that she wanted to lay on Sherlock's grave. John hadn't been to the site since the funeral, nearly three months ago. Everyone had been telling him to go, that it would help with his closure. Even Mycroft had contacted him recently, saying the ground had been ready for Sherlock's headstone to be planted and suggested John go see it, as if that hadn't been a pointless incentive. But John couldn't contemplate the idea of standing where his friend's body lay rotting six feet below. He didn't want to think of him down there, cold and alone in the dirt. To John, he was still in Baker Street. In his chair, talking to his skull, playing his violin, shooting at the wall, breathing.

In the end he'd relented and travelled with Mrs Hudson in a cab to the church. It was there that he'd finally spoken the words he'd wanted to say about who Sherlock was to him. How important he was to him, how much light he'd brought into his lonely existence...and how to him, he could never be a fake. His friend and their friendship; nothing in the world could convince John that either of those were a lie. Nothing.

And before John had left, he'd tried one last time, one final plea of desperation.

"One more thing. One more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don't. Be. Dead."

He'd begged. He'd cried. He'd ordered his friend to stop this silly joke he was playing on him.

When no miracle came, John's tears dried and he raised his head. That was when it happened. That was when the last few embers of hope fled from his heart. The retired soldier had turned and practically marched back to meet Mrs. Hudson, leaving the true soul of John Watson crumpled next to the flowers placed tentatively on Sherlock's grave.

He'd found his acceptance. Little had he known that this stage would be the cruellest of them all.

Which was why, tonight, he'd found himself limping beside the Thames after abandoning his friends at the pub. Bill Murray had invited him to come out for a few beers. John had ended up sat at the table while Bill and a few other blokes, a couple of whom John knew, chatted and laughed in a language that seemed alien to John as he simply sat staring into his half-empty pint glass. It was only when Bill tapped his shoulder and asked if he was alright that John made his excuses and briskly left the pub. No one followed him. He was left to wander, aimlessly, as the Acceptance continued to torture his brain.

His best friend was dead. Sherlock Holmes. Dead. Gone.

His old life, their adventures together, the thrills and the mysteries, the running and the surviving, the arguments and the laughing. Gone. Gone, gone, gone, gone!

John's hands flew up to either side of his head, his palms pressing against his ears in a pointless effort to drown out the words that were only inside his own mind to begin with. He cursed at his brain to shut up but, of course, no one was listening.

No more severed feet in the fridge. No more withdrawal tantrums. No more bantering via blog post when they were both in the same room. No more insulting strangers with tactless deductions. No more giggling about the stick up Mycroft's arse. No more dashing through the city like the world's most British superheroes.

"Heroes don't exist and if they did then I wouldn't be one of them."

No more near-death experiences.

No more feeling his heart race with the danger that living with Sherlock Holmes promised him.

He wasn't even sure if his heart beat at all anymore. Maybe it had stopped along with Sherlock's.

That's all he was now. A walking corpse. A mobile husk of a man who's life had once meant something. A man who could walk through fire and come out charred yet standing. A man ready to continue fighting for what was right. Not just his country, but his friends and for innocent people who's lives had been stolen from them. Now Sherlock had joined them – and John couldn't fight for him. There was no Moriarty, none that had been found, not even the supposed 'Richard Brook'. Sherlock had taken his own life. And, with that, taken away John's whole life purpose.

He found himself on a bridge. He wasn't sure which one, he didn't have any clue how long he'd been walking since he'd left the pub or where his absent mindedly controlled feet had led him too. The London Eye gazed at him from over several buildings. Other than that, few people littered the streets in this witching hour, most of them seemingly as vacant as John had been moments ago.

Now his mind was screaming. Taunting him. He stood alone in the heart of the city containing millions of lives – and all he could hear was one word being repeated over and over.


Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.

"SHUT UP." He growled to himself, his fingers pulling at the hair on his temples.

He slammed his palms onto the edge of the bridge and peered over into the water. There he saw himself, what he'd become, what he'd remain as until the day he died. The man who walked through life as a ghost. Not really existing. Not feeling anything.

And that realisation gave him...anger.

It felt good. It felt more than good, it was bloody incredible but it wasn't enough. He didn't just want the emotions. He wanted his whole body to burn. He wanted the ice to melt away and to be able to scream as every vital organ in his body ruptured and bled. He looked into the water and saw the lust for his own pain glowing in his eyes. It was a euphoria he'd never be able to feel again. Not without Sherlock.

Or maybe he could.

Just one moment, just one, that's all he wanted. And after that; to Hell with what happened to him. At least it would silence the sneering voice in his head.

It was wrong. It wasn't all gone. John could bring him back. He could be alive again.

John took a step backwards. Quickly he turned his head from left to right. A few stragglers were near but no one looking in his direction, too swept up in their own tribulations to notice the man who didn't exist. He looked back over the railing to the water stretching out before him. The heavy breeze caused it to become choppy, small waves slamming violently against the bank. Perfect.

He closed his eyes. Suddenly, he was with Sherlock, on the rooftop. They would end this the way the way it all began. Together.

Without even counting down, John's feet took off in a mad sprint for the edge.

His hands gripped the railing and he managed a true gymnastics vault over the bar.

The wind whipped up against his face as he fell trough the air and John Watson laughed.

The fall was no where near as long as Sherlock's had been. But it was enough for John to feel that mix of fear and excitement. That buzz for daring and death-defying adventure that had been absent from his life for so many weeks. In the distance he could make out gasps and screams from those who'd just caught a view of his jump. The few seconds he spent tumbling through the air had caused all his senses to collide together. Sights, sounds and the scent of salty water all came to crash in upon him until everything was chaos. And somewhere, beyond the veil, he almost believed he could hear someone crying out his name.

Then he hit the water.

All of John's senses that, only a split second before, had been in override, were suddenly forced into hideous order. The near freezing temperature of the water stabbed into every part of his body with razor sharp daggers. His lungs quickly began to panic while he made no effort to scramble for the surface. His heavy jacket weighted him down along with the pull of the undercurrent. All around him was clouded darkness. And best of all; the voices in his head had finally shut themselves up. All John could hear now, through the echoing rush of water in his ears, was his heart beating again.

He closed his eyes and wondered if it was possible to cry underwater. Cry from the physical agony of the subzero water or the euphoria of feeling that beloved rush one last time. He wasn't entirely sure which. As the world faded to nothing around him and his chest began to collapse, he wasn't sure of anything. There were no last regrets, no faces flashing before his eyes.

There was nothing except the fall.

And then a crash somewhere above him. A disruption in the current. Arms moving around his torso and bringing him up and away from the forgotten depths of the river.

In John's barely conscious state he let himself fall for the fantastic idea that he'd won. He'd finished his life and here was the promised angel to carry him up to wherever he was destined to rest. And now he truly felt ready to do just that.

Except there was no bright light. There were no pearly gates.

Another crash, or what felt like one, as his head broke through the water. He could barely see anything except towering buildings of tiny lights in the dark. He felt the arm of his saviour pull him close while he swam and John remained limp as a rag doll in his hold before passing out.

"John! John, you idiot. Can you hear me? John!"

Someone was hitting him. On the chest. Was he being beaten up? Mugged?

After thirty or so hits they gave up. And then there were a pair of lips upon his. Okay, now John was really worried what the fuck was going on.

"Open your eyes, for me! Please, John! Would you please wake up!"

Sherlock, for heaven's sake, let me sleep in for once!

John had tried to speak those words but had ended up coughing up a lung full of salty water. It made his body shake violently as his mind was rapidly brought into consciousness. He opened his eyes to find himself lying on the ground, the sound of the river close yet a safe distance away and, looking over him, the face that hadn't left his thoughts for over four months.

He thought he'd dreamed the voice. But there he was. Kneeling beside him, his eyes wide with worry while his mouth gaped at the relief of John opening his eyes.

A gloved hand touched John's cheek as the man beside him released a breath he must have been holding for a long while.

"You're all right." he sighed; "Oh Christ, John, I thought-"

John slapped the hand away from him and scrambled backwards in a furious panic. He tried to stand but his weak legs barely supported him. He tried to balance himself to stay up, one arm reaching out with his palm up to the taller man while he continued to back away.

The man instantly tried to move towards him, hands outstretched; "John, I-"

"DON'T. Just...don't. Stay away. Don't you dare come a step closer."

Sherlock's face flashed with hurt as he straightened up, his hands up in a surrender motion.

For a few seconds, all John could do was glare at the figure now standing a couple of yards from him. The figure he'd felt touch him. The figure who's voice he'd heard clear as day.

Any other day, any other moment, John would have assumed he was imagining things. That he'd finally lost the last of his marbles and needed to be locked in a padded cell. Any other day except the one where only seconds ago he'd been drowning and knowing how it felt for reality to physically dissolve around you. Now he was back on the surface and everything was clearly solid, hard and cold all around him, from the wind to the ground beneath his feet. He'd felt it all come back to him and along with the world came Sherlock fucking Holmes.

He began to laugh, in hysterics, his gut aching with each one. If he didn't laugh then he'd scream.

"John, calm down. I know you most likely think you're hallucinating after-" Sherlock pathetically tried to comfort before being cut off.

"That your deduction is it?" John scoffed; "Well I hate to tell you this – except I don't; you're wrong. I know exactly what I'm seeing. I get it, Sherlock, believe me – I get it."

The laughter ceased and John was back to glaring through a clenched jaw at the man before him. He hadn't changed at all from the image he'd been holding in his mind since the day he fell from Barts rooftop. Same coat, same scarf, same hair – only now all soaked through from having dived into the river after John. His face showed no obvious signs of scars or injury or even reminders of any over the several months gone. Aside from the damp; he looked well. He looked really, really well.

How could he have done this to me?

It was only when his eyes focused on how much water was still dripping from Sherlock that he felt how soaked his own clothes were. The effect of having just survived plunging into rough, murky waters caught up with him and he began to shake. He stumbled further back and found himself falling back against a wall and realised he was leaning against the very bridge he'd just leapt off. Sherlock had carried him to the bank, climbed with him away from the water and laid him out of plain sight of the small crowd now gathered on the bridge, waiting for help to come to search for the two men who had disappeared into the black water.

Concern still tainting his famously stoic face, Sherlock continued to move closer to John, ignoring his previous orders.

"John, listen to me-"

"No. No, no, I don't want to hear, I..." He buried his face in his hands; "Oh, shit. It was all a lie, wasn't it? I was right all along, where I started. It was all just a stunt wasn't it, you wanker."

Sherlock pinched his lips together and nodded; "Well. I'm glad I don't have to go through the monotonous effort of convincing you that I'm alive."

"Guess I'm not as stupid as you thought."

"I never said you were stupid."

John cocked his head to the side.

Sherlock's lips twitched; "Alright, I did but it doesn't mean I never valued what you thought."

"You obviously didn't value what I'd think about you dying – seeing you die, even!" John hissed. The fall, the blood, those beautiful eyes so dim and empty. "You set that all up like a sick prank just so you could win your stupid game with Moriarty. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

"I needed you there, John. I needed you to see it!"


"You're right. I set it all up. Not everything went exactly as I planned but I had sorted it all out before. Molly was able to-"

"Sherlock, I DON'T CARE." John shouted, his stomach churning bad enough as it was. "I don't give a toss about how you managed to pull something like that off. I'm sure it was very clever and brilliant and you can pat yourself on the back for it but, y'know what? I. Don't. Care. How you did it means nothing to me. It's why. Why did you leave me like that? Why did you need me to be there? Why you would have wanted me to see that after everything..."

He couldn't exactly define what 'everything' was. Everything him and Sherlock had been through. Every other death he'd seen from the friends and foes he'd witnessed being shot to pieces in Afghanistan to the bodies of mysteriously murdered victims. The two factors on their own could lay heavy on his heart but only together could they truly wound him. Which is what had happened when he'd seen his best friend lying with his head in a pool of blood.

Flashbacks of corpses and funerals and gravestones imploded in on him and he continued shaking both from the chill and the trauma. He pressed his back against the wall almost as if trying to sink back into it and hide away.

"John," Sherlock began, softening his voice at the sight of his friend's distress; "You know why it was important that you needed to see me. You were the one who had to believe I was dead. If you'd seen it, if you'd believed it, everyone else would fall along with you. You were the closest...person in my life. I wish it could've been anyone else but it had to be you, John. I'm sorry."

The doctor half-laughed again at that hollow apology; "So I was your winning move, is that what you're saying? The pawn you needed to sacrifice in your little chess match."

"I had you picked more as a knight but-"

"Stop it! Stop trying to make everything normal, Sherlock, it's not! I thought I saw you die. It was like having my heart ripped out of my chest – and YOU did that to me! You put me through that hell! How could you...Oh," John paused for a second, a wave of revelation crashing down on him again.

Sherlock frowned; "What?"

"Of course you would do something like this. Because you did it before. Remember the experiment at Baskerville? When you had me drugged and locked in a room, watching as I went out of my mind with fear while I begged for you to come and rescue me – and all the while you were studying me like I was a fucking lab rat! Is that what this was? Another little test? Witness the effects of grief on John Watson? Watch him lose the will the live, watch him try to kill himself, is this the result you were expecting?"

"Don't be ridiculous. This is nothing like what happened at Baskerville. I promised you that nothing like that would happen again, didn't I?"

"Then what the fuck is this all for, Sherlock? You have to tell me something I can believe, please!"

It was only when his voice cracked on that last plea that John realised how heavily he was crying. His cheeks were wet while the rest of his skin had begun to dry off in the wind.

Sherlock took another step closer; "I had to die, John. I had to die so that I could save your life."

"You have got to be kidding me..." John mocked, his gut twisting at the thought of Sherlock even daring to use such a ridiculous excuse. It was as much an insult to his previous trust in him than finding out his death was a lie.

"Not just yours. Mrs Hudson and Lestrade too. He said that if his men didn't see me jump then they would shoot all three of you." Sherlock was now less than an arms width away from John; "So you see? I honestly did not have a choice. It was save my own life or the save lives of my three friends. Would you have preferred it if I'd chosen the former?"

John cringed at being asked such a question. Of course, in any other situation, he'd have sacrificed his own life for Sherlock in a heartbeat. In fact he once had come close to nearly doing just that. Never mind adding two other lives to the equation.

Huffing, John asked; "Why didn't you just explain that to me on the bloody phone?"

"Haven't you been listening to me?" Sherlock asked, clearly getting frustrated as he always did when he had to explain something twice because some simpleton wasn't paying attention; "They had a bullet ready to fire at your head at any second, I needed you to believe so that they would believe it! Would you have been able to put on half a convincing performance as what your natural reaction was?"

"I would've tried, if you'd given me a chance. If I'd known what was at stake." John shot back.

Sherlock cracked a jeering grin; "I'd give you credit for a lot of your skills, Dr. Watson, but acting would not be one of them. You could barely keep a straight face when you lied to Mrs. Hudson about breaking her flower pot."

"Because I wasn't the one who'd broken it. You were the one who smashed it with a mallet because you thought she'd hidden your cigarettes inside- Sod it, you're doing it again." John squirmed, the fleeting moment of distraction passed; "Just let me be mad at you!"

"Why? Why are you mad at me? You go on all the time about what friends mean to each other and here you are angry at me for not being dead – how does that work, Doctor?" He advanced further on the shorter man until there was barely space for an extra person between them; "Do you wish it had been me lying dead on that pavement? Do you wish I hadn't been here to save your life, again, tonight?"

"Sherlock, please..." John closed his eyes, squeezing out a few more stray tears.

The closer his friend got, the harder he began to shake all over, his back hugging the wall. One of Sherlock's gloved hands slammed against the bricks, colliding only inches away from John's head as the doctor gasped at the sudden outburst.

"Then tell me why you're being like this." Sherlock practically growled; "Just tell me, what I did wrong-"


Sherlock reeled back slightly. The annoyed spark in his eyes dimmed as the rest of his expression seemed to drop into that of a confused child.

Meanwhile, John was seething, almost spitting with rage; "Four months, Sherlock! Do you want to know how long that is to someone who's mourning the loss of their best friend? I've been hurting for all that time and you've been alive and god knows where. I had to nearly kill myself to finally get you to show yourself to me – can you contemplate somewhere in your sociopathic mind just how sick that is? What excuse do you have for leaving me like that for so long? Did you really think for one second that I believed what you said about being a fake and never wanted to see you again? How fucking short sighted can you get!"

The resurrected detective looked away in what John could only hope was shame.

"Well, c'mon. What do you have to say for that?" The doctor challenged; "I mean once the papers were all out saying you were dead and a fraud, Moriarty's men must have given up trailing me once the heat was off. Can't have taken them more than a few weeks. But you still let me carry on believing it. Where you just following me all this time, too cowardly to talk to me, watching me cry over you every day?"

Sherlock wet his lips, his eyes still refusing to meet John's; "Not every day."

John's jaw nearly hit the floor. Bile threatened to rise somewhere in his gut up to his throat. He pictured Sherlock watching from afar as he'd stood at his gravestone and broke down, begging for him not to be dead. All that time his wish had already come true. He could've come out to John and fulfilled the one favour he'd had ever asked of Sherlock in that moment. But he'd just stood there and let him cry. And with every day that had passed he'd continued to step on the pieces of John's broken heart instead of trying to fix it.

Damn him. Damn the sick, twisted machine of a man.

Like a ravenous dog, John lunged for Sherlock, not having to move all that far considering how close they were. He grabbed at his scarf and his collar while his teeth snarled and his eyes burned with fury at the taller man. He wanted to punch his teeth in. He wanted to strangle him. To choke the life out of him so that his grief hadn't been for nothing. He glowered up into those silver eyes looking back at him...and he remembered how empty they'd looked the last time. Now they were shimmering with life.

He froze for a moment, his body conflicting with itself on what to do next. Kill the man who he'd prayed for the past seventeen weeks would magically reappear in his living room? Embrace the man who'd knowingly let him suffer for months?

John's lips quivered, his shivers returning once the adrenaline rush of anger had gone. He could feel himself start to shut down once again. He thought back to when he was drowning. He remembered being smothered up by the darkness and just wanting to rest in peace at last. That was exactly where he was back to now. He was so cold...and so tired.

His hands continued to grip Sherlock's scarf as he crumbled forward. Tears fled from under his eyelids. All he could do was stand there, clinging to just one piece of his friend, while his body shuddered and heaved with his incoherent sobs.

Sherlock observed his friend as he openly wept before him. He'd found himself in a situation he had little to no experience in how to handle himself. And, for once, that wasn't an exciting thing. He hated feeling guilt but there it was in the form of one John Watson barely an inch away from him. Sherlock took a deep breath and carefully moved himself forward until John was sandwiched between him and the wall of the underpass. He placed one hand on John's arm, the other leaning against the place he'd slammed his hand before. Slowly, he leaned his head down until his nose was nuzzling his friend's sandy hair.

"John," Sherlock whispered gently, the hand on his arm squeezing reassuringly. "It's okay now. It's over. I'm here, John, I'm right here."

The tension in the doctor's shoulders seemed to fade though he was still shivering in the cold. He could feel Sherlock's heavy, heated breathing stroke his face. In those breaths, those signs of life, he felt the memories all coming back to him. The images of Sherlock broken and bloodied on the floor were replaced by the two of them giggling like naughty schoolboys as they sat in Buckingham Palace. The thought of Sherlock watching heartlessly as John cried over his grave was succeeded by Sherlock admitting that he didn't have friends – except for one. The surge of happiness from those memories seemed to be even more destructive than the last as a new wave of tears arose inside of John.

He relaxed completely, resting his head underneath Sherlock's chin and crying into his already damp collar. The detective's other hand moved off the wall to the back of John's head and the two friends stood for a while in that awkward, yet tender, hold.

A few groups of people wandered near by, some of them nattering about what on earth they'd seen on the bridge moments ago. One or two of them spotted the tall man in the long dark coat pressing the shorter crying man against the wall. When any of them dared to venture near, Sherlock's face would snap up and his hands clutched John protectively to him, his ice white eyes daring anyone to just try to disturb them. It was all it took to scare them off and Sherlock went back to looking over the friend who tonight he'd come so horrifyingly close to losing. For good.

Sherlock brushed his lips against John's head again; "What you tried to do tonight...You are never to do anything so stupid and reckless like that ever again. Do I make myself clear?"

He half-expected John to snap back with a quip about how hypocritical such an order was from the man who'd thrown himself from a building. In fact, he'd kind of hoped that would be the reaction to being spoken to in such a tone. A tone that was usually reserved for John to use when talking down to him. So it only served to hurt Sherlock's heart even more when the broken man merely nodded against him, utterly obedient, his hands still grabbing fist-fulls of his coat and scarf. Sherlock sighed and relaxed back to stroking John's hair as he waited for the doctor's tears to run out.

Eventually, they did. Or at least the sobbing quietened and his body stopped shuddering every two seconds. Sherlock pulled back slightly to examine his friend's face, still keeping one hand in his hair. John's eyes were red raw and his lids heavy as if he was barely keeping himself awake. He didn't look angry or distressed. Just too exhausted to care anymore.

"We need to get to home to Baker Street," Sherlock saw John go to speak but stopped him; "It's okay, I went there this afternoon. I found Mrs Hudson's gone away for a bit but my old key still worked. Flat's barely been touched. It's where we need to be, right? Home."

John smiled weakly at the the thought of soon being back at the flat. In Baker Street. With Sherlock Holmes. He nodded. He wanted more than anything right now to just go home.

Sherlock released his companion and stood back. He scanned the nearby road for the nearest taxi rank. It wasn't too far, a minute long walk if that. He looked back at John who was rubbing at his face, obviously trying to regain his composure after that breakdown. Sherlock's eyes then scanned him up and down.

"Can you walk?" he asked.

John frowned for a second and then remembered. He stretched out his dodgy limb and was relieved the find the pain had all but vanished once more. Of course it had, he grinned to himself and nodded at Sherlock's question.

"Good," said Sherlock, with that slanted smile of his. "Take my hand."

"I said I'm okay to walk." assured John, his pride still in tact; "It's fine, Sherlock, I don't need to hold onto you anymore. And it's not like we're handcuffed this time."

"I know. Take my hand anyway."

John looked down at Sherlock's gloved hand offered out from his side. He bit down on his lip to stop himself remarking on the fans of his blog having a field day if they spotted this. His fingers slowly intertwined with those of the other man and settled comfortably as the warm leather enclosed securely around it. Sniffing back through the last few falling tears, he looked up to meet Sherlock's smile.

That smile. That one hundred and ten percent genuine smile of kindness that only seemed reserved for him (and on occasion, Mrs. Hudson). John's heart seemed to swell until it became a pain.

Sherlock hurriedly led the shell-shocked doctor away from the underpass and onto the street. He made sure to keep him close to his side whenever groups of people would wonder close. Sherlock knew even if his friend's limp had gone, the events of tonight, as well as his own actions, had already done enough damage to shatter him. Neither of them said a word as Sherlock tried to hail a taxi. But every ten seconds or so, he'd squeeze John's hand and feel his friend squeeze back.

When they finally managed to catch a taxi, which thankfully didn't take more than a couple of minutes, John let Sherlock state their destination while he lolled his head weakly against the car window. He'd never felt more drained in his entire life.

Hands still clasped together on the middle seat, Sherlock looked across at John and was almost irritated to see that he was still shaking. They were out of the wind but it was still awfully cold, even inside the car.

He leaned forward to address the cabbie; "Would you mind turning the heating on at all? It's like a fridge in here."

"Sorry, mate. It just packed out on my last punter. You think I got all these layers on for fun?" the old driver replied.

"M'fine, Sherlock." John mumbled, the weakness in his voice betraying his words.

His friend regarded him for a few seconds before he tugged lightly on his hand. John looked at him as Sherlock let go and made a gesture that had him truly wondering if he was now hallucinating. But the detective continued to hold his arm up, beckoning the doctor to him. Not fancying resting his cheek against a cold window for any longer, John conceded and shuffled across to rest against the taller man's side. Sherlock brought his arm down onto him while his other hand reached across to hold the one John had rested on his knee.

The journey to Baker Street was remarkably long for this time of night. The cabbie remarked that a collision at a roundabout had cause a few diversions. Sherlock worried for his friend's health as John continued to fidget in his hold. He wondered if maybe he was hugging him wrong and making him more uncomfortable. This wasn't an area he'd had a lot of practise in.

But John was merely nestling his head against Sherlock's chest, trying to rest himself in the place he needed to find.

He knew it was there. It had to be...Yes. There it was.

The doctor sighed, finally settling in Sherlock's arms. His friend's beating heart thudded against his ear. It was the sound he'd been searching for all these months. The sound that made him feel more alive and gave him more purpose than throwing himself into death's open hands ever could.

Feeling John Watson relax against him, Sherlock allowed himself a smile at not screwing up yet another 'act of love'. As he glanced out the window, he thought of the millions of things he wished to say to the man resting in his arms. Of course there was Show Off Sherlock who wanted nothing more than to explain to John every perfect point of how he'd so brilliantly faked his own death. He'd then ask if John had been in contact with Lestrade and to inform him how useless he'd been without his help. And then, on the other side, there was Sorry Sherlock. The Sherlock he could usually block out entirely but after tonight he knew would not rest until he'd said what needed to be said. All the apologies, all the reasons, everything that John and the others deserved to hear.

But now was not the time for that. As they continued their dragged out ride to Baker Street, the detective was more than contented by the realisation that he was holding his most precious of friends safe and alive. John hadn't been the only lonely one these past months. As he rubbed the doctor's arm, he sniffed and suddenly felt the water on his face from where he'd been crying for god knows how long.

"Sherlock." said John, softly.

"Mmm?" He merely grunted in response, not wanting his voice to give away the silent tears he'd been shedding.

"Thanks for not being dead."

Sherlock chuckled, bringing a hand up to run his fingers through John's hair again as he listened to his breathing slowly begin to even out against his own body. As Sherlock sensed his companion fall on the verge of sleep, he whispered; "Anything for my blogger."


Now I think I can happily say I Survived Reichenbach. :) Let me know what you think and thank you for reading.