Author's Note:

A few things before you start reading the sequel. The vacation scene was skipped, because really it would have been mostly just gratuitous sex and we felt it would retract and detract from the story arch we wanted to address next. So, we just never wrote it. The story picks up again on the day John leaves. This story will be a little more Sherlock-centric, but there is and will be Johnlock scenes! I probably won't be able to update this every day, like the other story. So far the chapters are shorter. Once more I am uncertain how long this will end up being. Possibly longer than the last one, so brace yourselves. Any and all feedback is welcome!

It had really been a lovely vacation, better than anything he could save imagined. He and Sherlock had spent three weeks alone. The final week had been spent back in London while John got all of his uniform clothes and got acquainted with the group of men he would be working with.

Which led to today. John was standing in the living room of 221B in his full uniform, his hat held in his hands and all his bags at his side. The reflection in the mirror was different, his hair close cropped and his skin already tan from his week of work on the base. He turned slowly to face the rest of the living room, taking a deep breath. "Sherlock?" His voice was shaky and less confident than he would have liked but he didn't care because it was okay for Sherlock to hear it. "Ready?"

The weeks flew by. If heaven existed, Sherlock imagined the time spent in Scotland would be it. It had ended all too quickly. Today was the day. He had known it was coming but he couldn't shake the sense of trepidation in the pit of his stomach. He was in the bathroom. He was staring into the sink, his hands holding onto the sides for support. John's voice brought him from his thoughts. He walked out with a confidence he didn't feel. "Ready if you are, my dear doctor." He strode over to John, his blue-grey eyes locked on the other man. He took hold of the army doctor's hand and gave it a tight squeeze briefly. Now was not the time to be emotional. He had to be strong for John. Support his decision. Be an adult. He hated every minute of it, but the situation was out his control. So many times, he had thought about trying to talk John out of it. However, he had refrained because he knew a fight would ensue. He kept true to his word, and not once did the two get in a row and all be damned if he would start one on the day John was leaving.

John bit his bottom lip before letting his mouth hang open. It wasn't supposed to be this hard and it certainly wasn't this hard leaving the first time. Except he didn't have Sherlock last time, or any relationship for that matter. He squeezed Sherlock's hand again before rushing forward and smashing his mouth against Sherlock's desperately. He pulled away and pressed his open mouth against Sherlock's neck, his hands running down the front of Sherlock's pants swiftly. "I love you," he whispered, his voice cracking as he tried to keep the tears from his eyes. "I love you so much. Don't you ever forget that." He placed his hands on Sherlock's shoulders and moved to turn him to sit on the couch. "Sit, Sherlock," he rushed the words out.

Without hesitation Sherlock leaned into the brief moment of intimacy. He took a deep breath, fighting for control of his emotions. John was clearly upset, he needed to be calm. He took a seat next to the army doctor. He turned his head, so they could look at each other. He had taken quite a fancy to wearing John's dog tags and since coming home from the hospital he hadn't taken them off once. He removed them now, grasped both of John's hands with his own and placed them into his gently. Once more he gave a firm yet brief squeeze, but didn't' let go of the hands. "John I love you. Stay safe. Stay safe for me." His voice held a considerable amount of control, despite the depth of emotion he was feeling. His voice may have been even, but his eyes and slightly rigid posture were a dead give away to what he was really feeling.

John hung the dog tags around his neck without hesitation, a bit of a smirk passing his lips as he looked at them. "Looking at these will make me blush in public," he whispered softly, setting a hand on Sherlock's upper thigh. "You wore them then entire time we were in Scotland." He cleared his throat and shifted to get off the couch, moving to his knees in between Sherlock's legs. "You have to promise me that you'll stay off drugs," he muttered, keeping his gaze locked on Sherlock while his hands moved to slowly undo Sherlock's pants. "That you'll keep in touch with Lestrade and Molly and Mrs. Hudson." He shifted Sherlock's underwear and grabbed his penis with a sure, knowing grasp. "And that you'll write me when you can and always be near your laptop so we can video call." He lowered his head, placing a soft kiss at the tip of Sherlock's penis.

Right now, Sherlock would have agreed to pretty much anything John asked. He squirmed and whimpered from the advances. He had already planned on having Skype open at all times on his laptop when he was home. He had even downloaded the mobile version, for just in case. He had also planned on throwing himself into cases hard, so keeping in contact with Lestrade and Molly wouldn't be that difficult. Of course he would write. However, the drugs were a different story. He could feel the itch and call, just thinking about them. He would try to avoid temptation for John. He would most likely take up smoking again, even though he hadn't a cigarette since staying with Lestrade last month. He nodded his head in silent compliance to John's words. If they started something now, John would be late so he pulled away. He redid his pants and stood up from the couch. He cleared his throat before finally speaking, "we should probably go."

The abrupt movement had thrown John off guard. He froze, on the floor, looking up at Sherlock. "Right." He nodded and stood, pulling his hat on to his head and yanking it down so the shadow cast over his eyes. "Wanted to spoil you a bit before I left," he muttered a bit pathetically, standing on his toes and placing a quick kiss on Sherlock's cheek before turning and slipping his backpack over his shoulders. He turned, grinning widely, and stepped forward to grab Sherlock's hand. "I'm four hours ahead of you so I'll be in Kandahar before the end of the night." He paused and reached into his pocket, slipping a folded up piece of paper into Sherlock's palm. "You can't read this until before you go to bed tonight. Promise?" He curled Sherlock's fingers around the note. "And then you write back. My address is on there."

Sherlock hadn't meant to be cold when he had pulled away; he just knew how they were. If one started something then before either knew it, clothes would be thrown all over the flat. The thought was tempting but if John was committed to returning to the Army, then by default so should he. He was really hating this being an adult thing. Soon though, he was certain he would be annoying everyone around him with his usual childishness nature. He took the piece of paper, "Promise." He leaned forward and kissed John on the lips lightly. "I'm going to miss you."

"I'm going to miss you, too," John muttered. "Don't worry, though. I'm sure we can Skype before the end of the week." He took a shaky breath, turning slightly at the sound of the taxi honking outside. This was it. "Well? You ready?" He held his hand out, wiggling his fingers and smiling weakly. He couldn't hold back and leaned forward to kiss Sherlock again, soft and slow and putting as much emotion in it as he could. He would stay safe for Sherlock, he would come back and live a normal life again. "Just think," he stated softly against Sherlock's lips, "You'll get a paycheck every month." He laughed, pecked Sherlock's lips, and moved toward the door. If he didn't leave the flat now he never would.

Sherlock took John's hand and returned the kiss. He put the letter in the front pocket of his white buttoned up shirt. "John, I don't care about the money. Although, I did use up most of my surplus money on Scotland. I guess I'll need it to make sure I eat at least once week." He smirked faintly and walked hand in hand with John to the door. He grabbed his long coat and scarf and put them on.

"Please eat," John said with a laugh and a squeeze to Sherlock's hand. "You honestly can't afford to lose any more weight." His free hand reached across them and patted Sherlock's stomach. "Need some of you when I get back." He grabbed his other bag with his free hand and tugged at Sherlock's hand as he headed down the stair, releasing it when they got outside. He opened the back of the taxi and threw his back pack and clothing bag there before climbing into the taxi with ease. "Y'know, I should have bought you a dog," John stated calmly as he bent to re-tie one of his combat boots. "Keep you company."

"A dog? John, that'd be a terrible idea. They are needy and attention starved creatures. Not really my area. If I were to get a pet, a cat would probably fit my personality better. Maybe a fish, but those things are so boring." He took the few paces that was between them and leaned his head down so they were nose to nose, his hand gripping John's coat a little tightly in attempt to bring their bodies closer together still. "I love you. I really will miss you. I'll think of you every day."

John closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around Sherlock's torso. "I love you, Sherlock Holmes." He placed a soft kiss on his lips before tightly hugging Sherlock, burying his face against Sherlock's neck. "Nine months. It'll go by faster than you think. I'll be back in no time." He squeezed Sherlock one last time before pulling away and glancing back into the taxi. "I can't wait for your letter." His chest shook as he took a breath, his eyes glancing down the street before he gave a sure nod. "Need to go. I'll be late." He kissed Sherlock one last time before climbing into the taxi, shutting the door, and watching Sherlock out the window as the taxi drove off.

Sherlock clung to John tightly, he didn't want to let go. He knew he had to and he watched the taxi drive away. He continued to watch the street, even after the cab had left his field of vision when it had taken a right hand turn onto another street. He sighed, trying to come to terms with how empty and alone he suddenly felt. Without any precursor, there was a crackle of thunder and it began pouring down rain. He didn't seem to mind the water pouring down on him, it would prevent anyone from seeing the tears now streaming down his face. He cleared his throat, straightened his posture and turned back toward the flat. He was about to go back inside when he heard a pitiful mewling coming from somewhere.

A tiny, drenched ball of black fur was curled up by the stoop. He hadn't been serious about getting a cat, yet here one was. He went to pick it up. It hissed at him and bit his hand. "Fine!" He growled and stomped up the steps. He almost lost his balance as the kitten suddenly ran up his pant leg and perched itself on Sherlock's shoulder. "Finicky squirt, aren't you?" He growled at the kitten with a glare, which in turn just stared up at him with pitiful yellow eyes. "For God's sake, I'm talking to a cat. A cat." He went to remove the kitten from his shoulder and got bit again. "Damn it! Stop that!" The kitten just blinked at him. He sighed, grumbled and walked back inside with the black lump of fur still on his shoulder. They were both soaking wet. He took off his shoes and socks at the door, water dripping everywhere. He was about to go upstairs when he heard Mrs. Hudson call his name.

"Good, Sherlock, glad I caught you," Mrs. Hudson glanced around and sighed. "Tea, dear? Why don't you come and relax?" She took another step forward and froze, looking at the kitten perched oddly on his left shoulder. "Oh... Sherlock, there's..." She shook her head with a laugh and motioned toward her kitchen. "Come on, let me make you a cup. We can talk," she met his gaze knowingly. "It'd be best right now."

"Let me get into some dry clothes and I'll be right back down." Sherlock told Mrs. Hudson before heading upstairs. When he entered the flat, the kitten jumped down and began stalking around the living room like it owned the place. He rolled his eyes, stripped, toweled off and put on set of dry clothes. Shit. The letter. Hopefully it wasn't in any kind of ink, because otherwise it would be unreadable. He removed it from the pocket carefully and set it on the kitchen table to dry. On his way out of the flat, the kitten once more scampered up his pant leg and came to sit on his shoulder. "Would you stop doing that?" Sherlock scolded the cat. "These were clean and dry clothes. You are impossible." He sighed and walked back down the stairs. He entered Mrs. Hudson's kitchen.

"You are talking to that cat like it's a human," Mrs. Hudson commented softly, setting Sherlock's cup of tea on the table with a soft smile. "I think it'll be good company for you." She took her seat at the small table with her own cup of tea and smiled. John had talked to her last night, coming downstairs looking rather disheveled with scratch marks covering his chest and love bites on his neck. He had blushed but Mrs. Hudson had merely smiled, pretended she hadn't heard the two of them upstairs, and took his hand. His request had been simple: look after Sherlock. She had accepted without a second thought, hugged him, and sent him back upstairs to return to his boyfriend. She glanced up at Sherlock. "You two should relocate. Your bedroom is directly above mine." She smiled and took a sip of her tea.

"What? Company? Oh no, no, no. I'm not keeping this…this…thing. I'll give it to Molly. She likes cats." Sherlock glared at the kitten on his shoulder before taking a seat at the kitchen table. He glanced at Mrs. Hudson with raised eyebrows and a smirk. "Wait until I tell John, he'll be mortified." He gave a small laugh, which surprised him because he didn't think he would be capable of that with his dear doctor away. The kitten did a few circles on Sherlock's shoulder, kneaded it's paws, laid down and went to sleep, purring loudly.

"Sherlock, I don't think you really have a choice in the matter. I have never seen a cat do that... and it already looks so attached to you." She took another drink from her tea cup. The silence that took over the room was tense. For a moment Mrs. Hudson had the idea of saying she had something to do but decided to speak up. "Are you alright, dear?" She wrapped her hands around the warm cup and leaned forward a bit. "You can come down here anytime. You and your little cat. I'm always here."

Once more Sherlock glared at the kitten, even though it was sleeping soundly and minding its own business. "Hmph. Maybe. If the damn thing will stop biting me and clawing its way up my pants." He wasn't really angry at the kitten but it was an easy target. He looked back over to Mrs. Hudson and gave a small shrug. "I'm…okay…considering…" Since being with John, he'd become a little more open with his emotions but usually only with the army doctor himself and no one else. The fact he had even admitted that much, had shown him just how much he had changed in a month.

"Well, you'll have your cases to keep you occupied." Mrs. Hudson reached out and patted Sherlock's hand. "I'm going to go shopping. Do you need anything?" She stood slowly and eyed the cat with a smile, as she shuffled over to the sink and placed her tea cup in it gently. "You look exhausted, dear. Why don't you go upstairs and take a nap? By the time you wake up, he'll have landed." She moved closer to him, placed a kiss on the top of his head and patted his shoulder.

"No, John made sure to stock up on food before he left. Wanted to make sure I had food in the flat so that I would eat." Sherlock got up from his chair, a small smirk on his face. He left the kitchen and went back upstairs. His movement woke the kitten on his shoulder and it bit his ear. "That's it, that's really it!" He picked the kitten up by the scruff of the neck and dangled it in front of his face. He was about to yell at it when it licked his nose with it's small, rough, pink tongue. "Oh fine. You can stay." He huffed and put the kitten back on his shoulder. Once back in the flat he picked up his violin, the kitten jumping from his shoulder down into his chair where it promptly went back to sleep. He smiled at it with the shake of his head. He played a harsh tune across the strings, the bow moving rapidly and without any real tempo. The noise wasn't pleasant sounding by any means, but it helped relieve the stress he was feeling.