Title: Can We Believe
Warnings: Spoilers for RBF, Mentions of 'supposed' character death,
Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Greg Lestrade, Molly Hooper, mentions of Mycroft Holmes, mentions of Mrs. Hudson.
Pairings: Sherlock/John, Greg/Molly, Raz/OFC
Notes: Sequel to 'We Believe'. Read that first! You won't understand this at all if you don't. Thanks to Princess_Aleera for the beta and summary help and Jademac2442 for her teacher's touch!
Disclaimer: Sherlock, John, all of their friends and the many places the visit do not belong to me. If they did, I wouldn't have to write fanfiction, now would I?
Summary: One sentence started a movement. A movement John's not sure he believes in anymore.
The paper shopping bags are heavy in Greg's arms, but he can't help the big, stupid grin on his face as he tries to juggle them while reaching for his key. His Key. To Molly's flat. The smile gets a touch wider as he slides it into the keyhole. Molly's flat that maybe, at some point, could be his flat too. Though he thinks they'd have to re-paint. All of the colours are so neutral and flat, and now that he knows Molly the way he does he's aware of just how much they don't fit her.
He's decided to surprise her with dinner, because she deserves it and he got off of work early. Molly always seems so pleased when he does little romantic things, and he thinks that this will make her that much more excited. Homemade lasagna, a few romantic candles, nice wine…
God, he's got it bad. But the smile she gets during the little things always makes him absurdly happy, so why not go all out? And it's not like she knows just how he feels about her.
Maybe he'll tell her after dinner.
That familiar warm feeling fills his chest and he whistles a little as he pushes the door open, kicking it shut behind him with one foot and walking to her bright, white kitchen.
Where he finds John Watson standing quietly, one hand wrapped in a pristine bandage and wearing the same clothes Greg had seen on him the night before, when he'd trudged to bed and called a soft 'Night, John' down the stairs. Old jeans and one of the tamer jumpers, his green jacket slung over the back of one of Molly's kitchen chairs.
A thousand thoughts rush into Greg's head as he stares at his flatmate, who blinks back at him.
"Greg." John's eyes widen. "No, Greg, it's really not what it looks like."
Greg stares and puts his grocery bags on the table, feeling really, truly old for the first time in months. He can't feel the warmth from before, just a sudden drop in his stomach like he's plummeting down the largest drop on a roller coaster. It's a sickening feeling.
"No?" He asks, and John shakes his head.
"No, Greg, I would never—"
"Because it looks like you've spent the night." And it's Katherine all over again. He leans against the table, he can feel his legs buckling under him and god does this hurt. This is so much worse, because it isn't some random P.E. teacher. It's John.
"I know that's what it looks like, but that's not it. I swear, Greg, I wouldn't do that to you." His flat mate's tone is soothing if not a little bit panicky.
"Then what is it?" Now he feels the unfamiliar swell of rage, which had never been there with Katie. It had always been a dull, resigned acceptance instead of this fierce, uncontrollable fury. But Molly isn't Katie. Molly is sweet and soft and looks both amazed and embarrassed and so, so pleased when he shows up at the morgue with a bouquet of lilies. "What is it, John?"
"I believe I can answer that question, Detective-Inspector," a voice says in the most serene tone he's heard in a long while, and Greg turns his head ever so slightly to see.
It's Sherlock. 'Boffin' Sherlock Holmes is leaning in the kitchen doorway, staring at him with a quirked eyebrow and that stupid, 'I'm-so-bloody-smart' smirk. His face is a mess of colourful bruises and Greg can spot at least two stitched gashes, and he's wearing a loose grey hoodie and worn jeans, but it is without a doubt Sherlock. Even if his hair is ridiculously bleached and cropped short.
Greg stares for a moment, then turns and looks at John. "You're seeing that, yeah?" John nods sharply and leans on his cane. "No, I'm serious. You see that."
"Yeah, Greg. I do." John looks more tired than Greg has ever seen him, and that might be the most terrifying part of this whole thing.
He turns, slowly, to take Sherlock in right and make sure he hasn't missed some sort of elaborate facial reconstruction that'll make this man in front of him not who he looks like.
"You're alive," he whispers.
"Clearly your deductive reasoning has improved," Sherlock mutters dryly.
He stands there, just staring, for a good thirty seconds or so. Then he lunges forwards and clocks Sherlock firmly in the jaw. The connection of fist to skin is brief but intensely satisfying.
The detective staggers and nearly falls on his arse, but manages to catch the doorframe with his spindly fingers and haul himself back up. Greg glowers.
"You stupid, idiotic, self-absorbed git!" Greg yells, clenching his fists as a form of physical restraint. John's taken a half step towards him, but his face is surprisingly neutral. "We buried you! We thought you were dead!"
"John." Sherlock looks at the blogger with a strange mix of anger and calm acceptance that looks like it hurts his face. "Explain to the Detective why the ruse was necessary."
John shakes his head, and he leans against the counter as if it's the only thing holding him up. "Not this time, Sherlock. You can explain yourself."
The rather tense quiet that follows is broken by Molly opening the door, a plastic shopping bag dangling from her fingers and her cheeks red from the cold. "I've brought crisps like you asked, Sherlock, I—" She stops, looks at the three of them standing silent in her kitchen, and visibly pales. "Oh."
"You knew about this?" Greg shakes his head and walks to her, putting his hands on her shoulders and giving a tiny, nervous smile. "How long did you know, though?" Molly doesn't reply, and she won't meet his eyes, and Greg finds himself rambling like she usually does. It's a strange role reversal. "He just swept in all dramatic-like last night and did one of his bloody speeches, right?"
Molly raises her eyes to his, but her expression doesn't change. He feels his smile fade slowly. "Right?"
"I'm so sorry, Greg, I—" He lets go of her quickly and turnsto John, who shakes his head again.
"So, let me sort this, because I'm having a bit of a hard time." He crosses his arms and feels himself bristle a bit. He jerks his head in Sherlock's direction. "You've been waltzing around London for a year—"
"I wouldn't call it 'waltzing'—"
"—You knew about it the whole time." He jabs a finger in Molly's direction, and she flinches. "And you…" He turns to look at John, who is smiling bitterly.
"Found out last night when I spent a few hours stitching him up." John replies. "I was going to call you, but I passed out before I could dial."
Greg accepts that pretty easily. John wouldn't have been so… lifeless, if he'd known Sherlock was alive. He meets the doctor's gaze easily. "Feel like a pint?"
"God yes," John mutters, and limps past Sherlock, his shoulder bashing roughly against the detective's. Sherlock gives a visible wince and moves when Greg follows his flatmate.
"Greg…" Molly whispers, but he doesn't turn. He can't deal with it right now.
They're sitting in their usual booth at the Globe before either one of them speaks, and John's half-done with his drink before they get to the actual topic.
"Ask away, and I'll do my best to explain." He twists his glass on its coaster, fidgeting.
"What the bloody fuck, John?"
John explains, even though he told Sherlock he wouldn't. Explains Jim Moriarty's threat to kill the three people Sherlock truly cares about, Greg included (and while Greg's still unbelievably pissed off about all this, that makes him smile a touch), unless Sherlock jumped to his death. He describes the way Sherlock did it with far less enthusiasm than his former flatmate would, his tone dull and his eyes fixed on the table.
Greg takes it all in, thinks for a moment on the proper reaction, and then downs the rest of his beer. "Shit."
"Yeah," John nods. "And then this morning 'round three I got a call from Molly, saying a friend of hers was hurt and needed a doctor, and she didn't know who else to call. I go over, and who do I see?" John laughs, but it's not an amused sound. "Sherlock bloody Holmes. I nearly passed out."
Greg raises a hand in Marty the Bartender's direction, signalling for another round. "He looked pretty beaten up."
"Didn't stop you from punching him, did it?" John smirks at him, and Greg feels his ears turn red.
"Yeah, well…" There's really nothing else to say, so he just thanks Marty under his breath and takes the cold glass in one hand. "Know what I think?"
"I think we should finish this round, take a cab to the liquor store, go back to the flat and get piss drunk."
John gazes at him for a moment before nodding. "Agreed."
So they do that. Greg buys enough whiskey to drown a fish and John just grins when he plunks it in the seat between them.
It's near ten when the flat door opens and loud, light footsteps tromp in. Greg blurrily turns to look up from his spot on the couch, neck of the whiskey bottle dangling between his fingers and mobile staring accusingly from the coffee table. Five missed calls and nine texts from the lovely miss Molly Hooper, and each time she rings he takes another pull from his bottle and ignores John's raised eyebrows. They've only got a single table light on in the corner, because John thinks it's the right amount of illumination for depressed drinking, and after six shots of the swill Greg bought he can't help but agree.
It's Sherlock, of course. He's still in the hoodie and jeans and he still looks like he's gone a few rounds with a meat grinder, but the air of righteous superiority is rolling off him once again.
"Charming," Sherlock mutters, and isn't he a right prick. Righteous superiority doesn't go far in a room where the only other occupants are drunk off their arses.
"You're a righ' prick." Greg slurs, and he can't help but giggle a bit. John starts at the sound and sits up a little in his chair, which is as far away from where Sherlock used to sit as it can be. "Seriously. Sherlock Fucking Holmes, consulting prick." 'Seriously' becomes 'Sherioushly' and 'consulting' 'conshulting', but Sherlock's a genius and Greg's sure the point has gotten across.
"Thank you, Detective-Inspector, for reminding me why I don't drink."
"No problem." He laughs. John sits up and, with surprisingly good aim, hurls his empty bottle in Sherlock's direction. The Detective edges to the side and it misses by a hair's width, shattering against the wall behind him. Greg gives a rather enthusiastic cheer—it was a good shot—and raises his own bottle in salute.
"Go away!" John shouts. Greg thanks Christ that Mrs. Hudson is off visiting her sister for the weekend.
"Ain't your flat anymore, mate." Greg's always been told that his slang gets worse when he drinks, but he can't be arsed to care much when Sherlock has an expression of pure confusion on his face. "John's got a new roomie, don't he? Go back to Molly. 'M sure she'll welcome you back with open arms." Oh, that was a bit sharp, wasn't it? "Seeing as how she's in love with you, and whatnot."
"'Ey!" John swats him with one hand. "Molly's a sweetheart. An' she loves you, and whatnot."
Greg snorts into his bottle.
"I'm serious!" John insists. "Besides, Sherlock wouldn't do anything. Emotion is beneath him." Sherlock doesn't give any outward reaction to that. Greg kind of wishes he had.
"I am, currently, standing in the room," Sherlock mutters, taking his scarf off with a sneer. "In case your eyes are having issues focusing properly."
"Oy, don't get comfortable!" Greg yells, jabbing a finger at the git with a frown. The room seems to sway from side to side. "We didn't invite you to stay! And this is our flat, thanks. You don't pay rent."
"Yea'! If any Holmes is gonna live here, it's Mycroft."
Greg bursts into laughter, and John follows a moment after. The idea of Mycroft Holmes living in 221B is hysterical.
Sherlock just stares at them. "I'm going to bed," He finally growls, and strides in the direction of his old room.
"'Ey! Cheekbones! No, no, no!" Greg hauls himself up, staggers, regains his balance and manages to clamp the hand not holding his whiskey onto Sherlock's shoulder. The detective shakes him off with a hiss that Greg easily ignores, and he fixes Sherlock with the most pissed off glare he can arrange on his face, which feels like it's moving a touch too slow. "That is John's room, all righ'? You don't get to sleep in John's room."
"John's room." Sherlock sounds strange. "Interesting."
John murmurs something from his chair in the corner and Greg can hear the sharp clink of glass on glass, then a soft pop as the top of another whiskey bottle is removed.
"You can go back to Miss Milly's and sleep over there, you hear?"
"Molly's." John calls.
"You said 'Milly's'." John giggles. "It's Molly's. Molly. Molls."
"I see you've forgone glasses in your little binge of self-indulgence." Sherlock crosses his arms, and Greg suddenly wants to punch him again. John interrupts the idea just in time.
"What's more self indulgent," John starts, pauses to take a swig from his fresh bottle, then smacks his lips together and grins. "Spending a night with your mate getting pissed, or pretending to jump off a building to kill yourself?"
"Well that all depends, John," Greg stumbles a little before collapsing back on the couch, which wheezes under his weight. He drains the last of his bottle and reaches for another. "Did the best friend have to watch the guy jump?"
"Oh yeah, he was a wreck," John answers jovially.
"And did he stay 'dead' for almost a year?" He swings his legs up over the arm of the chair and lets his feet dangle over the edge. Sherlock hasn't moved, and his face hasn't shifted a fraction. Cool detachment, haughty indifference. Greg wonders if Sherlock's always been this much of a prick, if he hadn't noticed it before, or if it's just the whiskey making him think that.
"I think so. Something like eleven months and eighteen days."
Greg pretends to think on it for a few moments, then nods. "Huh, I'm gonna go with option 'B', John."
Sherlock turns on his heel and leaves, slamming the door behind him.
"Nice to see you, too!" Greg screams after him before sipping his whiskey. John laughs.
"To Mycroft Holmes, for paying our rent!" John calls and bumps his half-done bottle against Greg's before taking a hearty chug. Greg's got his arm slung around John's shoulders and takes a half-hearted swig of his own before setting it shakily on the table. He's done. His vision is swimming even when he's just sitting and he can't feel his face anymore, and that to him is a sign to lay off.
John slumps against him, and for a second Greg worries that the other man's passed out and he's going to have to attempt to carry him to his room. Then John shudders a little and whispers, "I don't understand."
Greg doesn't ask what he means because he doesn't have to. "I know. I don't either."
"I mean, I get it." John mutters. "But I don't understand. Does that make any sense?"
Greg shakes John's shoulder a tad. "No, mate, it makes perfect sense." He finds himself nodding rapidly. "Cause it's like, you get the why, but not the why, right?"
"Exactly!" John crows, and he slams his bottle on the table next to Greg's. "I get why! But why?" He leans in close to Greg's ear and whispers: "Do you wanna know a secret?"
"Yeah." Greg tries to sound like he's conspiring but just comes off drunk.
"Promise you won't tell?"
"I promise. You know me better than that." It's weird to be able to say that to someone. Greg doesn't have many people who he counts as friends, and most of them followed Katie after the divorce. The ones who are left treat him differently after the whole 'Sherlock incident', all of them were coppers and few of them understood why he'd cleared the arrogant man's name.
John sighs a little. "I don't hate him."
"That's a stupid secret. I knew that." Greg rolls his eyes.
"Well if you stopped talkin' and let me finish," John growls, and Greg laughs. "…I don't hate him, because I think I'm in love with him."
Greg reaches for his bottle. Maybe not quite drunk enough. "Knew that too." He gives John's shoulder a light squeeze.
"See if I tell you anything again."
Greg can't help the grin that slides over his face. "So, he thinks of me as a friend?"
"Don't be stupid, of course he does." John sits up on his own, and Greg's arm slides off his shoulder. "Could you really not tell?"
"The git didn't know my first name, and I knew him over six years."
The blogger barks out a laugh and takes another drink. "He didn't know the earth revolved around the sun." More laughter. "Out of everyone in Scotland Yard, he insulted you the least. And he bought you a Christmas gift."
"You bought me a Christmas gift." Greg rolls his eyes.
John blinks at him as if he's surprised Greg knew. "Well yeah, but he let me. I tried to buy a gift for Mycroft and he practically ripped my arm out of its socket."
They laugh together about that, and it's warmer than either of them can remember from recent months. They enjoy a companionable silence, before Greg breaks it to ask a rather pressing question that seems more important than anything to his whisky-saturated brain.
"Why'd you try to by Mycroft something for Christmas?"
"It was before the twelfth kidnapping, so…"
The laughter is a little more heartfelt, and Greg takes another sip of whiskey to try and erase the realization that they've been talking about Sherlock in the past tense.
Bad boy! Whatcha want, whatcha want, what you gonna do?
"Shut up," Greg moans.
When the sheriff John Brown come for you?
Greg doesn't even have to open his eyes to know it would be a mistake, but the phone is singing at him and if he doesn't press some sort of button soon it will probably never stop. He inwardly curses John Watson and his joke ring tones.
Pain. Oh god, that is a lot of pain.
Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
He gropes along the edge of the table until his fingers meet cold plastic. He mashes his thumb in the general area of the 'talk' button and presses it to his ear.
" 'Ello?" He whispers, and even that makes him want to throw up. His throat feels like it's been scrubbed with sandpaper, and his hand is shaking.
"Greg? " Molly. Fuck.
"Ahhh…" He makes a slow, halting movement up until he's sitting on couch. John's passed out on the floor with his face smashed against the wood grain. "Molly. Hi."
"Are you all right? Is everything okay? Sherlock said you and John were really drunk, and I thought you might've passed out and choked on your own vomit or slipped and hit your head off something and I was going to call the hospital but Sherlock said to call you first, and—"
"Molly. Shhh." Greg wishes he could feel more annoyed with her, but all he can register is weariness and pain. His head throbs in time with his pulse. He scrubs his hand over his eyes and presses down. "We're fine."
"Are you sure? Because I can still call—"
"Fine, Molly. We're fine. No one's dead or choking on—" even thinking the word 'vomit' makes his stomach lurch. "We're fine."
And now comes the uncomfortable silence that Greg hates, and he just focuses on trying to push the pain of his head away. He stands up and steps carefully over John, who seems perfectly all right passed out on the floor. His stomach lunges up and he swallows back the sudden foul taste in his mouth. His tongue feels like a furry caterpillar.
The sound of the tap makes his head throb in protest, but he fills the closest mug with cool water and nearly moans over the phone at how delightful and refreshing it feels in his raw throat. He vaguely recalls singing at the top of his lungs with John, but can't remember the song.
"Can we talk?" Right, Molly's still on the line. He leans his head against the fridge. It feels amazing, cool and firm.
"I'm not up to it at the moment," he whispers. His heart is pumping a little faster than it should. He fills the cup again and downs it with greedy joy.
"…Okay. No, I understand." The tone of her voice makes him want to reach out and hug her. It's probably better that he can't. "You're all right, though?"
"Besides the massive hangover, yeah. I'm peachy." He finds quite soon after that that snorts of derision are not a good idea, when a nasty spike of pain drives itself into the middle of his brain. He winces. "Only found out that the guy I've spent a good year defending while trying to clear his name isn't dead, and that my girlfriend who was infatuated with him for five years was letting him stay in her flat and forgot to tell me he was alive." He hears her takes a shaky breath, but can't stop the words tumbling from his lips. "Then I got totally smashed with my flatmate, who I've been expecting to drop dead of malnutrition or sleep deprivation—which ever one hit him first—for months, and now I've got a massive hangover and I might—"
He clutches the side of the sink, leans over and retches. Retches in a way he hasn't since he was in college, when Katherine Ambler was a pretty thing with eyes only for him and the grey in his hair was a distant possibility.
When there's a pause in his heaving, he presses the phone to his ear and mutters, "I'm going to have to call you back."
He hangs up and goes back to the very important task of puking up his vital organs.