Author's Note: I'm so dearly sorry about the wait for this chapter. I've had a lot of college stuff happening lately and it's kept me quite busy. I'll officially be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall. So, that's awesome. Go Heels! Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter, and do let me know what you think. Thanks, always!
When John awoke the next morning he was met with only the company of a cold bed. A bed that was very clearly lacking a certain detective. John rubbed at his tired eyes and sat up slowly. A neat, already completely packed pair of suitcases sat beside the door. So Sherlock had gotten up early to pack then. Bit odd, but helpful nonetheless. He must be anxious to get back to Baker Street. As much as he loved his family, John understood the feeling.
The bags were accounted for, but Sherlock remained nowhere to be seen. John stretched his legs off onto the side of the bed and stood, stretching to work out the kinks that had settled in with sleep. He started to pull clean clothes for the day out of his bag, but stopped upon seeing that an outfit had already been laid out on the table in the corner. Sherlock had thought of everything. Of course.
John pulled on the dark trousers and blue jumper, which he was quite sure he hadn't even owned, let alone packed, and hurried downstairs.
He found Sherlock alone in the kitchen, midway through a cuppa with a paper folded in front of him. "Good morning, John," he said, without sparing so much as a glance up from his reading.
"Morning," John mumbled, starting to prepare himself a drink as well. "Sherlock," John said, once he'd settled into the seat across from him, "Where did you get these clothes?"
"Your clothes?" Sherlock asked, although John was fairly certain that he didn't actually need any clarification at all.
"Yes, the clothes that I'm currently wearing."
"The trousers came from your suitcase,"
"And the jumper?"
"The jumper?" Sherlock asked, his eyes flicking up and over John's chest.
John gave him a small nod, his eyes narrowing slightly.
"I bought it," Sherlock said simply, taking another sip of his drink.
"I already had clothes, you know. You could've just grabbed something from my bag. Which, um, thanks for packing that, by the way."
"Not a problem. The jumper is blue. Quite a nice blue, really," Sherlock said, as if this explained everything.
"So you bought this because it's blue then?" John asked slowly, still trying to work out the reasoning of the man before him. "Is blue your favorite color? Do you even have a favorite color? Never would have thought you for the type, but I…"
"Like your eyes," Sherlock said, his voice filled with exasperation as he cut John off. "Designating a color as one's favorite is so juvenile, John. Surely one's favorite color would depend on the day, on what's being represented by the color, on the emotional attachments, if there are any. So many factors. The jumper is nearly identical to the shade of blue of your eyes."
John felt the air rush out of him in one swift moment. "My eyes," he uttered, his voice ringing with disbelief.
"Yes. Blue. Due to a low concentration of melanin in the stroma of the iris. You're a doctor, John, surely you were aware of the reasoning behind eye color."
John rubbed at his forehead and gave a small nod. "Yes. Yes, I am aware of why my eyes are blue, thanks. That's not what I was…" he looked up at Sherlock's bewildered expression and his words fell away into a smile. "Never mind. The jumper's nice, Sherlock," he said, after a moment. "Thank you."
The corner of Sherlock's mouth twitched upwards ever so slightly, but he merely pressed on to the next topic. "I've just had an extensive conversation with your mother."
John felt his eyebrows jump upwards on their own accord.
"Well, she talked for the most part; I listened," Sherlock continued, "Or feigned listening, rather."
"That's rude, Sherlock," John said, quick to keep him in check.
"I did try to listen," Sherlock insisted upon seeing John's frustration. "Even when the discussion turned to mindless small talk, I tried to listen."
John felt a sudden rush of admiration for the man before him. He was trying. Sherlock Holmes was trying. Even at small talk. And God, that was all John could ask of him, really.
"It's fine, Sherlock. What did you talk about exactly?"
Sherlock's brow furrowed and he looked away from John and back to the cup on the table in front of him.
"Sherlock?" John asked, his voice rising in slight panic when he imagined all of the things that could have been said. "What did you talk about?"
"I'm not sure I'm supposed to tell you," Sherlock said.
John sighed and brought a hand up and through his hair. "Alright then," he said, mostly to himself. "I can ask when I talk to her."
Sherlock's eyes met John's again. He seemed… apologetic, sheepish? The emotions that played over his face weren't usual for him. And as John held his gaze he was able to identify one more strong emotion, a look of doubt, which alarmed him.
"I'm not angry, Sherlock," John said, leaning closer towards the detective.
"I know," Sherlock said.
"Then what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Sherlock said, but his words were too abrupt, too short, even for him.
"I don't believe you," John replied, his tone just as stoic.
Sherlock's eyes raked over John for a moment before he finally mustered the courage, or energy, or whatever it was that he needed, to speak. "Should we kiss?" he asked, his words methodical and precise.
John was forced to shake his head slightly in order just to gather his wits. This wasn't what he'd been expecting at all. Sure, he had thought about kissing Sherlock all morning. Hell, he was nearly always thinking about kissing Sherlock. That's what had gotten him into this… well, this… relationship, in the first place. But he hadn't really realized that the thought might be playing at Sherlock's mind as well.
"Do you want to kiss?" John asked, unsure of exactly how to respond.
"It's morning and we've just woken up to a new day. I understand it's typical for many couples to greet with a kiss," Sherlock said.
John's eyes widened only slightly at the word "couple." He still wasn't used to it. He still half-expected to wake up in an instant and find that all of this had been some crazy, drugged-by-Sherlock induced dream.
"We don't have to kiss just because it's typical," John replied. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Sherlock."
"I don't do things just because they're typical. And I very rarely do anything that I don't want to do." Sherlock's words were honest, John knew. Goodness, the man hardly even ate; he obviously didn't do things just because one was "supposed" to do them.
Before John had time to craft a reply Sherlock had taken a stand from the chair, walked straight up to John, leaned low, and captured his face in his hands. He pressed his lips slowly, gently to John's for just a moment, a moment that was over too quickly, and pulled away.
"There," he said, his face still close enough for John to feel his breath on his cheek.
"Good morning, Sherlock," John said, unable to contain his smile any longer.
"Good morning, John," Sherlock replied, his own lips curving upwards as well.
As soon as they'd been having a moment, it was over. Sherlock was back in his seat and back to directing his attention to the paper.
"Well," John said, feeling the need to break the long silence. "Suppose I'll go talk to my mum then. It's nearly time for us to leave. I should give her a proper farewell, make sure everything really is alright here."
Sherlock gave a small hum in reply. John stood from the table and started to leave the room but stopped abruptly when he heard Sherlock call his name from his seat.
"John, do you have a favorite color?"
Sherlock was standing now, as if he meant to leave the room as well.
John didn't have a favorite color. Or he hadn't, at least. He'd never been the type to choose just one. He liked most colors. Or maybe he disliked most of them. He'd never given it much thought. Either way, when asked by anyone else, he probably would have replied with a simple no. But with Sherlock standing before him, for whatever unknown reason, an answer popped straight into John's mind.
"I like purple," he said, before he'd stopped to think about it. "I mean, uh, dark purple. The royal sort."
Sherlock met his eyes. He seemed to look right through him, before nodding slightly, turning, and going back upstairs without another word.
It was only once he'd left that John realized that Sherlock had been wearing a purple shirt. A dark purple shirt. A royal purple shirt that had accentuated each and every muscle on his chest. A dark purple shirt that made him appear to be more of a god than a man. Some perfect sculpture that couldn't possibly be real. A dark purple shirt that pulled so tightly against his skin that it made John's heart skip a beat just thinking of it.
John reveled in the thought of the shirt for a moment before composing himself, and walking to his mother's room. He gave a small knock on the door before entering.
Karen Watson was sitting on the edge of the bed, a book of photos propped open in her lap. She looked up with a small smile as John entered the room, but said nothing. John shut the door softly and sat next to his mother on the bed. Over her shoulder he peered at the photographs. Family photos from the past met his eyes and for several minutes he was silent as his mother flipped through the book and he became lost in his childhood.
When she flipped to a faded photo of John as a child, large grin on his tiny face, standing proudly next to his father, his mother finally broke the quiet of the room. "You look just like him, John. You always have." Her eyes glittered with emotion but she didn't shed a tear as she looked up at John.
"I really can stay, Mum, if you need me to. Say the word."
"No," she said quickly, shutting the book of photographs and setting it down in the empty space beside her. "It's time for you to go home. I've told you, I'll be fine."
John pursed his lips and looked down. "Alright," he said with a sigh. "Good. Just, please do call if you need anything. Anything at all."
His mum placed her hand on his shoulder and smiled. "I'll be fine," she said again, giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Are you leaving this morning?"
"I suppose so. Probably should be getting back to work. Listen, Mum, did Sherlock… say anything this morning? Anything, uh, not good? If so, he's just…"
"He didn't say anything bad, John," she interrupted. "Have a bit more faith in him. I think he's more capable of handling himself than you assume."
John raised his eyebrows and gave her a doubtful look. "Yes, if you say so. What did you talk about?"
"You," his mother replied, her voice oddly cheerful.
"Sorry… me?" John said.
"Yes, you. Well, I just told Sherlock how lucky you were to have him, and, you know…"
"I thanked him, for looking after you all this time. Properly thanked him."
John let out a short huff of laughter. "Trust me, Mum. I'm the one who looks after him. He can't even buy his own milk at the shop."
"I'm sure he helps more than you know," she said.
Oh, he did. In many ways. John felt his face turning red and he cursed himself for making any sort of sexual innuendo in the presence of his mother, even if it was only in his thoughts.
"I can't believe it…" John said, looking at her in disbelief. "He's got you properly charmed, hasn't he?"
"He's got you charmed, too," she replied, a smile playing on her lips.
"God. He really does."
Their eyes met in a moment of unspoken understanding and John stood from the bed. "Our things are already packed," he said.
His mother reached out, enveloping him in her arms and pulling him close. "Go home, John, darling. Be happy." They embraced for several seconds before stepping away.
"And you call me if you need anything at all," John said, trying to sound forceful so to cover the wavering of his voice.
"Of course," his mum said with a smile.
John gave her a final, lasting smile before leaving the room to say goodbye to Harriet. Their exchange was quick. After all, Harry did call often. They both promised to call if they needed anything, keep in touch better, and try to meet up more often. John knew the promises were empty. They always were. He and Harriet had never been the type to meet up for casual outings. Nonetheless, he hugged her and smiled, and acted as if he couldn't wait to see her again, just as he always did.
Once Sherlock and John had loaded their bags into Mycroft's car, they were left standing outside the house, unsure of how to proceed. John gazed up at the home he'd once known so well. Funny now how different his home was. If someone had told John as a child what his life would be like now, he would hardly have believed it, but this was life now. And he wouldn't change one second of it.
John glanced over at Sherlock who, instead of looking up at the house, kept his stare fixed on John. "Are you ready to go?"
Sherlock lifted his eyebrow slightly. "Are you?"
John gave the house one last look, let out a breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding, and turned back to Sherlock. "Let's got home," he said, reaching to take Sherlock's hand in his own.
"Home," Sherlock agreed, tightening his grasp on John's hand.
Author's Note: This is the final chapter of this story. I know it was subtle and nothing too serious ever happened, but that's what I feel is appropriate for the nature of the story. I do love a but of subtlety. Expect a sequel sometime in the near future, that likely won't be subtle at all... Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing.