Notes: Last chapter and conclusion to this story! Can't believe it's done. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting this fanfic – you guys have spurred me on. There might be a sequel to this, but not for some time – although I am thinking of doing a fanfic for Merlin, if anyone's interested in the show (I love it!). An important character from the Sherlock Holmes Canon is mentioned in here, and definitely not human.

Yay! Enjoy! (I will be away for under a month, just to let you guys know!) Also, if there are any typos, I apologise! I've been so busy this wk!

{Chapter 17 – Between Two Lungs}

Gone are all the days of begging
The days of theft
No more gasping for a breath
The air filled me head to toe
And I can see the ground far below
I have this breathe and I hold it tight
And I keep it in my chest with all my might
I pray to god this breath will last
As it pushes past my lips as I...

(Florence and The Machine – Between Two Lungs)

'Sherlock, I'm fine, really. It's been four months since I got shot – three months since I was released from hospital – I'm good, promise -'

Sherlock quiets him with shoving an alarming amount of toast on jam into his mouth, steadying a mug of tea in the other hand.

'You don't need to feed me,' John says, half-giggling, half-choking. 'God, I ought to get shot more often if you're like this.'

It's a joke, but Sherlock's face darkens. John places his hands up in protest. 'I'm sorry – was only joking. I know how much distress I caused you… But you've got to give me some credit, Sherlock. I'm a soldier. I lay down my life. It's a vulnerable occupation, and you are – of all people – aren't exempt from that. My first thought, waking and seeing you in the hospital, was that you were OK.'

Sherlock gives him a half-smile. They're at 221B, and it's nearing winter, the light from the streetlamps flickering. The fire inside roars, and John sits by it, contemplating the man he loved so dearly in front of him.

'Go to sleep, Sherlock. It looks like you haven't slept in months.'

'I haven't.'

'I know,' he says, sympathetically, beckoning Sherlock with a finger. Sherlock finds himself pulled towards John, as if by some other unknown force. And there is a understanding, a look between them, in that moment: that they both know only John can beckon Sherlock, and only Sherlock would come to him.

Sherlock leans himself into John on the chair, his unruly mass of curls catching the sparks of light from the fireplace with brilliance and wonder, and the familiarity of intimacy makes him tingle. All the weeks of worrying, of not having his John whole, now fades, and somehow the feeling of John combing his fingers through his hair (he had a subconscious habit of doing so), Sherlock can breathe, allow himself to fall asleep.

'Where's Gladstone?' he hears John say.

He answers sleepily, 'Mmph … Certainly not allowed in my lab anymore.'

'You mean the kitchen?'


'What's our pup ever done to you? After all, you got him for me, remember?'

'I remembered a photo …'

'What photo?'

'The one at your house … I never told you about it at the time, but I was very much intent on looking at your family pictures. You had a childhood dog.'

'Yes … I didn't think you – God, you're a big softie after all!'

'I am no such thing,' Sherlock says, looking offended.

''Course not,' John says, kissing him on the cheek.

Mrs Hudson busies herself in the background, winking at John and quickly clearing off, and even after all these months of being with such an impossible man, he still blushes.

John strolls through the park, a scalding polystyrene cup of coffee in his hand. It's been a while since he's last walked this way, but he's managed, under a lot of persuasion, to let a reluctant and concerned Sherlock to let him out of the flat.

He sees a familiar figure in the distance, the chatter between a couple of elderly ladies on the bench, and the laughter of schoolchildren in the background, fading.

'Mike?' he calls towards the figure. 'Mike Stamford?'

'John Watson!' Mike says, hugging him. 'It's been too long… I confess I was meant to give you a ring sooner. I heard what happened.'

'Heard? You don't have to lie to me, Mike.'

'Alright, then. Saw – I saw it - it was all over the newspapers, as well as confirmation that Sherlock Holmes faked his death.'

There's a short pause, until John speaks, amused. 'You don't sound surprised.'

'Sherlock is not an ordinary man, and neither are his circumstances. You're very close to him. You know how it is… How are you?'

'Better. Much better – Sherlock's seen better days, though. He's been paranoid about my health – thinks that my getting shot was his fault.'

Mike raises an eyebrow.

'What?' John asks.

'Nothing,' Mike says, walking along with John. 'Just unusual. Never heard of Sherlock expressing concern for anyone. You must be an influence on him.'

'Well, I guess … perhaps.'

'People will start to talk. I think I should have known that the moment I introduced you guys,' he laughed, but it's a sincere laugh.

John is a little awkward, half-giggling with the irony of the whole situation. 'I suppose I should be thanking you for introducing me to this madman.'

Mike laughs. 'Oh, more like I'm forever in your debt, John.'

'It's been some time, and we haven't really told anyone outside of 221b – with the exception of a few people – that my relationship with Sherlock isn't strictly platonic anymore.'

'Oh.' Mike stops for a moment. 'Oh…'

'Yes,' John says.

'I should say 'congratulations',' he smiled. 'Sherlock barely lets anyone into his life.'

'Well, he's special, I suppose.'

'Ever thought that perhaps you're the one who's special?' Mike smiles at him.

John scoffs. Normality of the most absurd kind – discussing his relationship with the world's only Consulting Detective in a park – starts to sink into his mind. Only months ago he was shot at, and Sebastian was incarcerated.

'It's not going to get easier,' Mike continues. 'As your friend, I should warn you. people may have joked and made suggestions about your relationship before … but people can be narrow-minded. The press will have a field day. You know what they'll like.'

'Don't remind me. The press and I haven't exactly been the best of friends for the past three years.'

'You know, those 'I believe in Sherlock Holmes' posters are coming back again. I've seen them round Bart's.'

'Yeah … I saw a couple after I thought he died. Should be interesting to see how Sherlock reacts to them.'

When John reaches the flat at 221b, Sherlock is resolutely clicking away angrily at the laptop. John's laptop, of course.

'You've been gone for an hour and thirty two minutes.'

'You can tell the time. Well done, Sherlock,' John says, drily, kissing him on the lips. 'I wasn't gone long. I'm fine. Still whole.'

Sherlock's previous scowl is now replaced with a dozy compliance and a quick eagerness for more kisses.

John smiles into each one, sometimes sweet, sometimes feverish, indulging in the fact that he can usually persuade Sherlock out of sulking with such methods.

They break apart gently. 'I hate it when you do that,' Sherlock says, softly.

'Oh, it's very much the opposite, I should think,' John laughs. 'Tea?'

'Are you sure you don't want me to-?'

'While I appreciate the gesture, I think it would be best if we both drank tea without vomiting.'

'That solution I put inside the tea instead of milk was an accident, and I only did it once. It's not hard to understand how easily one could lose concentration with such a mundane task. I had other things on my mind.'

'This from the man who thinks breathing is boring.'

'Hmm… I've seen a couple of those posters around London, now that the Scotland Yard released an official statement about the Sebastian Moran incident and my reappearance.'

'Yeah, thought you might,' John says, his voice distant in the kitchen.

'I'm not sure how savoury it is to have my face plastered over lampposts for dogs to-'

'Piss on?' John finished, laughing into his freshly-made tea. He sets it aside and makes one for Sherlock.

A quick glance towards the living room, and he finds Sherlock looking up at him, his stature suddenly composed and still.

'What? Have I got something on my face again?' John asks, puzzled.

'No …' Sherlock says, and John notices a look of uncertainty and shyness, an odd assembly of child-like innocence painted on his face, those rare occasions in which this man reveals himself to another and not the mask he wears. 'I was just thinking… if some of these posters were around after you saw me - fall from Bart's… It mustn't have been easy for you.'

John brings a tray of tea over towards him, sets it beside them on a table, and sits opposite Sherlock, strangely at ease.

'Yes … I won't deny it, Sherlock. It was hard. But at the same time, oddly gratifying. No one could convince me you weren't who you said you were. And I suppose there are others who think the same.'

'Others,' Sherlock says, his brow burrowed, ruminating on the word. John finds it amusing that Sherlock finds this a little perplexing and hard to believe.

'You haven't complained for weeks, Sherlock.'

'About what?' Sherlock says, astounded.

'A case, silly. Any new ones?'

Sherlock studies John's face for a moment, smiling. 'No.'


'I am most certainly not.'

'I saw Mike Stamford today… and of course, you already knew that.'

'I won't bore by explaining how I know. I'm under the assumption that he now knows about us.'

'And you're OK with this?'

'Yes,' he says, as if it is the most obvious answer in the world. 'What society labels us is little interest to me. If they don't understand it, and I don't expect them to, then it isn't a problem. My main interest is you.' He looks at John, intently. 'You see, something quite ordinary and preposterous has happened.'

'Oh, really?' John muses, moving closer towards him. Their hands touch slightly. 'What's that?'

'The most mundane experience of all human existence, the motives that underpin the criminals we hunt everyday, the fundamental rules of chemistry and biology, the very thing I care little for – must I say it? – love – I don't think the word is great enough to explain what I mean, but … I have been and will continue to be completely in love with you.'

And John is kissing him before Sherlock can even so much as exhale.

'My goodness, John,' Sherlock mutters, in between kisses, 'I think you've forgotten I need to breathe.'

'Hmm. Breathing's boring, remember?'

Sherlock finds himself under John on the couch, his pale skin flushed and bruised with kisses.

'Yes, quite.'

There's a knocking at the door. 'Lestrade,' Sherlock breathes.

'A new case after all.'


'Oh God, yes.'

They share one more kiss, a swift movement between two lungs, a giving of life to one another, each of them indulged in the feeling of completeness in embracing each other, in loving nobly. And both could allow themselves to let the years stretch out before them, no longer alone, but together.