Author's Note: I don't own Sherlock, and to infringe copyright is not my intention, to break my reader's hearts and then fill them again is. Thanks so much for reading. This is the continuation of Goodnight (My John), and Cemeteries of London.

Song: A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

How to Be Brave

Three years to the day, three years he had waited, three years since his heart had stopped beating. John Watson, climbed out of the cab, paying and thanking the driver as he did so. He leaned heavily on his cane, the bloody psychosomatic limp was his ever-present companion. John had tried to run, to avoid the need of his cane for as long as he could. It was only a few months after...after the incident that he could no longer move without it. It was a damp and dreary London morning, this anniversary of his best friend's (alleged) death. John clutched the single white rose in his hand, took a deep breath and began his walk through the cemetery.

It never got easier. Each time that he visited was different; sometimes he was overtly angry, some days he was exhausted, some days he had a story to tell, some days he was so sad he could barely move, some days he was ready to give up; last week, John was so infuriated that he had thrown the dozen white daisies he had brought at the headstone, calling Sherlock a "smarmy pigheaded bastard," then saying that he wasn't going to apologize for his temper tantrum, because "I have bad days!" Recalling when he punched Sherlock during the Scandal in Belgravia case. He laughed a little, and then mumbled, "I love you, you selfish git."

However angry or sad John was, he always, always told Sherlock that he loved him. He didn't care that it was just a grave marker-it was as close as he could get to Sherlock, and John decided that he was never going to waste opportunities.

John knew that he was going crazy, that he was losing his sanity slowly. He wondered if you could miss someone so much that the sorrow would rot your brain, that maybe his heart really was dying; his body giving up like his mind so dearly wanted to do. He'd imagine that he'd see Sherlock across the street, through the window of a cafe, in a cab, just around the corner. He'd imagine he'd hear violin music at three in the morning. He had started talking to Sherlock's skull, too. One day, when John was particularly smashed, it even talked back; that was a dark day in the Baker Street flat.

John slowly approached the grave, today was a sad day. He could feel his shoulders sagging, knowing that he would not be able to fight the sadness tonight, the nightmares that plagued him. Tonight he would allow himself to be defeated, his one night of privacy in so long. He could feel a presence with him-the one he so often felt when he would see the mirages across the way. The swirl of a coat, the back of a dark head of curls, brief flashes of the one he diligently waited for. He closed his eyes, searching for something to say, what to tell his best friend today.

"I'm still waiting on that miracle, Sherlock. I haven't given up." John cleared his throat against the closed-tight feeling. "I don't believe this nonsense for one second..." he trailed off, taking a deep breath to collect himself. "I miss you, Sherlock. Please...come home," John whispered hoarsely. The army doctor was so small in that moment, his frame had thinned, from a lack of sleep, and the complete lose of a regular appetite. He worked long, hard hours at the hospital, a welcome distraction intended to exhaust him so sleep might find him, a sleep deep enough to fight the nightmares off for a few hours a night.

John stood there, with his eyes closed for a long while, thinking of Sherlock, thinking of how his therapist-long since abandoned-told him that he needed to accept Sherlock's death, that he needed to move on with his life, to let it go. "I can't let it go!" He had shouted at her, he had thrown his hands over his face, and rubbed them angrily through his short hair. He stared that woman in the face and told her something he had never told anyone, "I love him." She had tried to comfort him, to tell him that Sherlock was in a better place, that he'd always "live on in John's heart" and all of that horse shit. John tried to explain to her, that he wasn't dead, that he was not a fraud. After taking one look at that pitying look on her face, he'd stalked out and hadn't returned. John was managing, he was existing; he worked, he watched evening telly, he had a morning cuppa, he read medical journals, and he slept in Sherlock's empty bed every night. He had a routine, a set stagnant pace of things. He was in the realm of waiting, a burning hope that he clung to desperately.

"John,"

The doctor's eyes snapped open, wide in shock.

Standing in front of him, a ghost he thought momentarily, was a tall, slender man. His hair, longer and significantly messier than previously, still in dark, inky ringlets. He had sharp cheekbones that added an air of gauntness to his thinned out face. A perfect cupid's bow mouth formed his name again, "John." The doctor found his way to the man's eyes, that piercing blue, those dark lashes-dark circles under them-filled with life. Burning with life. There was a rushing sound in John's ears, like he had stuck his ear to a seashell. He felt lightheaded and dizzy, and when he opened his mouth to speak, nothing came out. After a few minutes of silence, John found his voice.

"Sherlock." That's all he could manage. Just a name, just his name. John bit his tongue, hard, to see if he was dreaming. He did not wake. He said it again, "Sherlock." The world's only consulting detective nodded. He took a tentative step forward.

"John." He took another step, and then another, and one more. He was barely a foot away from John. The doctor looked up in awe at Sherlock, unsure if this was real or if he had finally snapped.

"Sherlock," he said again, almost posing it as a question. He raised his hand, slowly, to the detective's face, the tremor in his hand gone, and lightly brushed his fingers across his cheek. At the connection of his fingertips to skin, to real skin, a solid figure, John dropped his cane. He continued his exploration, looking for a weak spot in his hallucination. He cupped the man's face, and he felt him lean into his hand, the man's eyes falling closed, his mouth parting slightly. John moved his hand down the man's face and let his fingers probe just below his ear...checking for a pulse.

bum bum.

bum bum.

bum bum.

A heart beat rapidly beneath the doctor's finger tips and his face crumpled.

"Sherlock," he whispered, letting his hand fall down to his friend's chest, over the purple silk shirt to rest where his heart was, beating fast and strong. Sherlock lifted his hand and placed it over John's.

"I'm real, John," his deep baritone voice rumbled, he stared intently down at the doctor. He reached his other hand up to brush a tear from the good doctor's face. His eyebrows furrowed, "I am so sorry, John. You-you have to know. I never wanted to hurt you." When the doctor didn't say anything, Sherlock continued. "You were in danger, you, Ms. Hudson, Lestrade, you all were. Moriarty...Moriarty said that if I died...you would be safe." Sherlock found it all pouring out of him, finally. All the things he had been waiting to tell John, after all of these years, just exploded. "I wanted to tell you, but for you to be completely safe, you have to believe that I was gone, while I hunted his army down and dealt with them all. Only then would I come back...and...and I did it. I kept you safe. They're all gone, John." Sherlock searched John's face nervously, worried that now that he was here, John wouldn't accept him back, that he would be too angry with him. That these years of pain would be too much for him, and he would push Sherlock away, which he had every right to do. "I never imagined that I would hurt you so bad," Sherlock said, taking in the frail sight of his good doctor, "please forgive me."

Sherlock was about to shake John, to beg him to say something, anything, when suddenly, John yanked Sherlock's face to his own, pressing his chapped lips against the detective's. Sherlock was frozen for a moment in complete shock, his heart hammering in his chest, but when his brain caught up to his body, he wrapped his arms around the good doctor and hugged him to his body, molding their lines together. He kissed back, hoping to translate all the things he hadn't said in that moment.

John pulled back, eliciting a small uncharacteristic whimper from Sherlock. The grin that was spread across John's face was almost too bright for Sherlock's eyes, but it faded too quickly, the doctor becoming very serious. Sherlock noted a hint of fear in his eyes. The two men were still clinging to each other as John whispered, "I never gave up on you," he took a deep breath, "I love you, Sherlock Holmes."

Sherlock felt as if a firework had exploded within him, his heart, once so heavy and burdensome, felt as if it took wings and like a phoenix, exploded into flames, a light and new one fluttering from the ashes. His eyes grew very, very warm and he leaned close to John's ear and whispered, "I have loved you for four years, John Watson."

It was like the hole that had been John's constant companion since that day, three years ago, had filled up, and he felt an aching in his chest, his heart was beating. He had died every day, waiting for Sherlock, waiting for him to come back, to find his way back to John, and with those words, John's heart was electrified, it was so big, so full, so strong in his chest. He could feel everything. The light breeze across his cheeks, Sherlock's long arms wrapped around him; he could feel the beating of Sherlock's heart, the detective's breathing, his hair curling around John's fingers, the heat coming off of his skin. He could feel the tears running down his cheeks. John could feel it all, so deliciously, he indulged in it.

Sherlock took a step back, and John panicked, clinging to him, not willing to let him disappear again. Sherlock smiled and pressed a kiss to John's lips. He leaned his forehead against John's. "Don't be afraid, I'm not going anywhere–not without you–I'm never letting you go again." He wiped the tears from Sherlock's face and stepped away, taking John's hand, "Let's go home."

"I love you, Sherlock," John said, still wonder-struck.

"I love you too, my John."

John knew that Sherlock still had so much explaining to do, his list of questions increasing by the second, but at that moment, he all he could do was grin until his face hurt and tell Sherlock he loved him.

The pair walked away, holding one another close, John's cane long-since forgotten.

And they were happy.

A/N: Thanks so much for reading! I loved writing this, having A Thousand Years on replay for two hours straight, laughing and crying to what I imagine our two men thinking. I will be writing a more in-detail reunion, filled with fluff (and maybe even some smut) who knows! I may get crazy! I can't wait to write some more happy times for these two fellows. Cheers! xx :