Dreaming: Hey guys, here we are, at the end of things. It's been so fun writing all the even-numbered chapters of this, like you have no idea. And even though I can't reply to your reviews, I am so thankful to each and every one of you for doing so, and to any of you who favorited this story! So thanks. :D

Aero: Hello, everyone! Like what Ari mentioned before, it's been so much fun writing down the odd-numbered chapters. Words cannot describe how enjoyable it was to write with Ari again! Thank you so much for your support for this fic! We are so grateful for all of your reviews, alerts and favourites! You make me speechless sometimes. I feel like I can't say anything but to say 'thank you'. You're so awesome and thank you to umqraisntmorsecode for sending me this prompt. We had a lot of fun writing it and I'm sad to see it go already sob Thank you for reading :')


Chapter 13


Waking up the following day isn't hard as he originally thought.

When the detective wakes up, he first thinks that last night and John forgiving him is all a dream. But as he collects his surroundings and the soft and gentle sounds receding from the sleeping man beside him, Sherlock corrects himself.

He doesn't want John to fall out from his pleasant dreams, so he remains on the bed, feeling content about his life. He stares at John, examining the doctor's features, as if John is a reminder of how greatly their lives have changed just by simply asking this particular person to be his flatmate. Ohhh, how times have changed.

Time isn't really a problem at the moment for Sherlock, and he reminds himself that he hasn't had any indication of time. He peers back at John's bedside clock and he's a bit surprised he didn't wake up any later or sooner. It's late afternoon and the sun has managed to leak through the blinds from the window. Sherlock likes the way the sun's rectangular form illuminates the room, highlighting John's sleeping figure.

He finds his attention back to John. His eyes tracing up and down, deducing and collecting more information about the latter. And who can blame him? He hadn't be able to do it properly in a while (plus, second nature).

Not too long ago, when he was once 'Benedict,' he had dully noted how exhausted John had looked, as if he's aged five years in three years, and as the days went on, John looked a bit fresher. And now, the ex-solider appears to taking a rest – one that anyone can long for, after a tiring and unending day or maybe years – as if John has been in a long battle, for rest and sleep.

Now the doctor is sound asleep, having it claim him with such luck.

The first nap in years, perhaps.

And maybe going into slumber is a good thing for these two because the pair needs it as much as they can. After all of those years, being in hiding, and with all the lies (which Sherlock hopes for John to surpass someday), they can finally have some shuteye from all of the surveillance cameras, nightmares, longing for one another, before going forward for some new challenges and cases.

Oh, yes, cases. Sherlock hums to himself, in anticipation. He props himself on his elbows, his eyes refusing to leave the doctor's side.

We can go back to Baker Street. Give Mrs Hudson and Molly a call. Converse with Lestrade about some new cases. Investigate more. As usual, his brain is heading full speed with the thought of him and John going back to what they used to do.

Something John has accompanied the latter with, as if it was made for him: running around in London and out, just him and Sherlock. New cases, new faces, and maybe a game.

Like a fly buzzing transversely in the bedroom, a tiny thought – no, memory – of Moriarty, the consulting criminal, commands Sherlock to hold his breath.

It feels awfully silly to feel such trepidation because one man. But this man, criminal, a spider in the corner of any room, caused him to take such action. Threaten to rid his few and only friends. It's a bit pitifully to have such need and want for others, but Sherlock has to remind himself that he needs them.

Mrs Hudson, Molly, Lestrade, Mycroft, and (espcially) John are all essential.

Sherlock can lie about it to Mycroft or to anyone else, but he knows it's true.

Then why should he feel in denial about the whole thing?

Well, he doesn't have to say it from his own mouth. Only when he's alone with John, can he make up for it all.

Oh yes, John... He peers back at his doctor, after realising that he was too deep in his musings, he was boring his eyes into the wall.

Sherlock finds himself beaming at the latter, and he can't help himself when he closes the gap, kissing John on the forehead.

"What time is it?" John asks, weakly, possibly still half-awake.

"Three in the afternoon." Sherlock states matter-of-factly, giving his lover more meaningful kisses.

"Sherlockkk..." he moans, turning his back to the detective. "Let me sleep some more."

A low chuckle escapes Sherlock's throat when he stands up from the bed, admiring John once more. When the bed gives up half of its weight, John blinks his eyes open, viewing the other with a smile, over his shoulder.

"Hello." He says, after he clears his throat. And he sounds like it's the first time they've ever met but Sherlock knows he means well. More like their first meeting in what feels like forever. Properly, face-to-face, at least, and Sherlock feels his chest tighten with remorse and yet overwhelmed with joy at the same time, so much so that he can finally be at the stage where he aspired to be for a while.

"I'll make us some tea," Sherlock announces, with a nod. "Unless you want to go back to sleep." He jokes and John laughs slightly at the remark.

"Tea is nice. Coffee is stronger, and therefore, better," John replies. "Might as well get out of bed sooner or later."

"Good."

As Sherlock manoeuvres out of the room, he hears his own name stringing out from John's mouth.

He spins around and John is already out of bed, looking far fresher than he has resembled in days. "Yes?" Sherlock questions with a cocked brow.

John wraps his arms around Sherlock's neck, presenting him with an afternoon kiss. Ooohh yes – Sherlock almost forgot in the span of his thoughts how it feels to kiss John with his inviting and warm mouth. His hands immediately land on John's hips, urging the doctor to deepen the kiss. Somehow, Sherlock schools himself not to frown when John pulls back with a wide and cheeky smile, something that can light up the room. Sherlock almost feels helpless at his will.

"Yes?" He tries again, trying not to lose his composure or his patience.

"I love you, too." John finally answers, with warm eyes.

He doesn't register it in time, when his body automatically moves. Sherlock shoves John back onto the bed, hands roaming, kisses claiming him with his mouth and John whimpers in response to it all.

Their forthcoming beverages are already forgotten because they know they have all the time that they need. So there was nothing wrong, disregarding their afternoon tea – or, in this case, coffee – this one time.

XXX

"Cheers~!"

Raised glasses makes a strange soothing sound, as they chime against one another's surface, being lightly tapped by their holders. Applause is made with meaningful claps and even a party popper gets popped and its colourful streamers float in the air.

The atmosphere is bright and blissful with the small number people in the living room. It's not even close to Christmas, but it seems like Sherlock and John are celebrating something far more than returning back to their old flat.

"Welcome back to Baker Street, lads!" Greg whoops, taking a sip of the champagne Mycroft brought for the occasion.

"Thank you. It's nice to back at home!" John grins as he and the detective inspector give each other a high five in the air. He gestures to the place, with the glass in his hand. "It really is great being back here again! You have no idea."

"I've missed you boys, with all of your fighting and going all over the place! It wasn't the same when you two were gone." Mrs Hudson adds as he points at John. The doctor returns a bashful nod to their landlady. "And after all this time, I thought Sherlock was dead!"

"Oh, yes..." John smiles again before looking over at Sherlock, who is occupied in the kitchen, surprisingly with his older brother. He faces Mrs Hudson, Molly, and Greg again, who are all wearing uncertain expressions, frightened that John would become overcome with emotion or something of the sort. However, John isn't even close to tears, and if he were, it wouldn't be about him being upset, it'd be him feeling complete. Him and Sherlock. Together again. "Well, he does have his tricks up his sleeves. Let's hope he doesn't do it again, eh?" He regards to the whole reason why he left Baker Street. He winces slightly, thinking about Moriarty forcing Sherlock to die, and Sherlock choosing to fake his death. And he doesn't want to remember it. Not now, not anymore. Not when they're finally back to how things were, but better. "Who wants more champagne?" He changes the subject. "I believe Mycroft has spoiled us too much with this! We should make the most of it!"

"Oh, yes, please!" Molly nods, and John picks up the bottle from the coffee table and pours more into her glass. "Thank you, John!"

"No problem."

"It looks like they're getting along quite well." Molly shifts her eyes to the kitchen. John follows her gaze and turns back.

After raising their glasses up to celebrate their return, Sherlock toddled into the kitchen in haste, Mycroft lingering behind him. From afar, it looked like they were arguing, and in some way, they could be. However, they are less resentful toward each other, now, and John can not only see, but also feel the change whenever Mycroft is in the same room as the two.

Sherlock seems to have lessened his hurtful way of speaking to Mycroft. When the older Holmes came over to help Sherlock and John remove his things from the detective's flat, he didn't even bat an eyelash, not saying a word to send the latter away.

It's hard to explain to those who haven't seen the Holmes brothers together previously. The only thing John can describe their relationship is by saying there is a lot less tension and awkwardness. No one has to jump across to the other side of the room, in fear of getting caught in the crossfire. They aren't hostile anymore, but the small, sly comments would pop up and the older Holmes brother didn't wear a displeasing face or the look of judgement.

They're now acting like brothers.

Something John couldn't even imagine to see.

And it isn't even Sherlock and Mycroft's approach to one another that changed, but also Mycroft's accession toward John. Mycroft no longer has that eerie chill whenever Sherlock leaves them alone to attend an importance of a case.

John doesn't need to feel awkward, and it's nice to have his boyfriend and other Holmes be less crude. And no matter how strange the sighting is, he has to get used to it sooner or later. And that gives him a warm and nice feeling whenever he catches them standing near one another.

Nevertheless, it can't compare to the overwhelming feeling John gets when he's with Sherlock.

"Yes, yes, they are..." John hums as he drinks. And Molly looks delighted to hear the response. "Never thought it'd happen, but it did," he chuckles.

Molly smiles. "Them getting along?" She urges.

"Yeah."

"I guess it takes some time for siblings to get along, right?" Molly says, but later winces when she remembers John has yet to talk to Harry. "Oh, bugger! I'm sorry! I didn't mean – crap – I just… oh, John, I'm sorry!" She stammers and John gives her a reassuring smile, as he pats on her shoulder.

"It's okay." He laughs and tries not to let it get to him. "I should see what they're actually doing in there. They've been taking a while." Molly smiles through her guilt, as John strolls into the kitchen, sighting Sherlock throwing a fork at the older Holmes.

So, maybe, they're not getting along as he thought they were...

"Shit!" Sherlock yammers, when Mycroft manages to catch the flying fork in time. He turns to John, ignoring Mycroft, and leans toward the doctor, granting him a kiss on the forehead. "I thought you were talking to Molly."

"I was, but I felt a bit jealous that my boyfriend is hanging out with his brother!" John jokes and Mycroft frowns slightly. "What was happening a second ago?" He gestures in the thrown fork's direction.

"I wanted to see how fast someone could catch a flung piece of cutlery!" Sherlock replies and John cocks a brow at him. "What?" Sherlock says and he's close to sounding like a child, being caught in an act. "We got a new case, if that's what you're thinking about."

"I wasn't thinking about that." He retorts, as he takes Sherlock's hands into his. Mycroft turns to converse with Greg by the time John eyes the room to see where the other Holmes went off to so quickly. "It's a bit amusing to see you and Mycroft getting along."

"We're not." Sherlock frowns instantly. "Meeting each other halfway is as close we can get to 'getting along.'" The detective regards in a flat tone, but he means no harm when he walks toward the fridge. "Go back into the living room. It's time for dessert!"

John starts to get the plates and cutlery out for the necessary task and walks into the next room to see everyone, sipping their champagne.

Even though Sherlock has stopped being 'Benedict,' John had once bothered his boyfriend about his bakery skills and Sherlock explained to him how the stories about his childhood were true. And John had to mull over it and he laughed, thinking of how Mr and Mrs Holmes reacted to their son's baking.

They probably thought they were going to make a pastry chef out of him! He muses for a moment.

When Sherlock moved in with John, (before they went back to Baker Street), the detective went back to his old 'eating' habits and John tried to encourage him to eat more. (Sherlock attempted to improve his eating needs.) And John kindly asked for the detective to bake some more, because he really did love Sherlock's baking. The latter would always come to the doctor – if John came back from work or early in the morning or even late at night – with something new, ranging from cookies to pastries to cakes. He's come home and they would be in the fridge, with a note, Sherlock expressing his love for the other.

Sherlock doesn't at all mind baking for John. He loves to make new desserts for John to taste, and sometimes, when he gives John a plate of freshly made chocolate chip cookies or a slice of strawberry cake, he notes his lover's expressions, pleased to know he did his job very well. Even though they never got to do this before, Sherlock knows it's something new he can add into their schedule, mixed with cases and John's work.

"Did you make that, Sherlock?" Greg gapes at sight before him.

Sherlock presents one of his infamous lemon cheesecakes to his and John's guests, with a triumphant expression. "I would have bought it if that didn't require so much effort!" He scoffs and John nudges him in the stomach.

"To you, buying cheesecake requires more effort than making it?" John laughs.

"Of course." Sherlock says with no regrets, but he sounds so serious at his joking remark. John isn't sure if he should really take it seriously. Sherlock starts to cut slices for everyone as they continue to stare at the cheesecake. "Enjoy!" He speaks with a small smile on his face, as he passes it first to Molly.

John has to pause himself for a second to acknowledge Sherlock's approach to everyone. Perhaps it's only the group of them or mainly for him, but it appears to the doctor that Sherlock's acting on his own will, a changed man, in part. Sherlock probably wants to show a bit of affection toward them from time to time because this is the group of friends he sacrificed so much for; they are why he chose to fake his own death.

And maybe it is a bit astonishing that Sherlock can be 'human' for once, but it seems to work out for the lot of them. Perhaps it was 'Benedict' rubbing off on him, or just Sherlock being uncharacteristically nice. Nonetheless, the sight will forever stun him; the detective, it seems, still has tricks up his sleeves, more untold stories about him Mycroft, that John has yet to find out about. But in the end, Sherlock will be forever be… well, Sherlock.

"Thank you, Sherlock!" Molly accepts the plate with a bewildered expression. "I never knew you could bake."

"It's nothing, really." He says back as he sits on one of the arms of John's chair.

"Don't be so modest." Mycroft retorts, as he takes a bite out of his own slice.

"Just eat, you dolt!" Sherlock snaps.

"This tastes really good, Sherlock!" Greg says with a full mouth, but anyone can make out his sentence by the joyful look on his face.

"Very delicious, Sherlock!" Mrs Hudson giggles.

John takes his slice and leans into his armchair before glimpsing at Sherlock. "Aren't you going to have some?"

"Maybe later."

"You sure?" He offers the piece he forked out from the plate. "I can feed you," he suggests lowly, admiration laced in his tone.

"Maybe later." His boyfriend repeats himself, sounding very sure this time. And perhaps with some mischief, because Sherlock suddenly goes deep into his musings, possibly cooking up the next plan on what they should do the bedroom next time (Eating things off of another's body is always pleasurable for both involved, he thinks).

"Oh, Sherlock…" John shakes his head. He looks back at everyone else in the room, engulfing their desserts and chatting away amongst themselves.

It's rare to see it, and if Sherlock could, he would take a photograph of it. Just this moment, of everyone together. He feels his heart swell with affection for the people in the room. And perhaps they can have something like this again. It feels good. Maybe not too frequently, he realises, or else the 'magic' will be lost.

Is this how a family reunion is supposed to feel like?

If so, Sherlock thinks to himself how he wouldn't mind. Just this once. Then he could shower himself being with John everyday, and oh yes, that is something he doesn't mind having.

To obtain something – love,as it happens – that isn't quite tangible, save for with mere touches and words of tenderness, can prove to even the most heartless of them all or for those who are even incapable of such a feeling, that it's possible.

"Sherlock?" He hears John call.

"Hmm?" He returns to himself and feels John's fingers lace with his. "Was the cheesecake good?"

"It was scrumptious! Thank you, love." John smiles. "You okay? You've been thinking a lot. Want to share?"

"After this, when everyone takes their leave," Sherlock murmurs. "We can work on our new case!"

"Always the case before the sex, huh?" John sarcastically snickers.

"Oh no," The detective frowns. "Love-making can always be first, if you wish it." His frown is immediately washed away with an endearing smile. He pecks John's hand before he hears Mycroft cough, breaking their moment.

"Save that when we're gone, Sherlock." He picks an invisible fluff off his blazer.

"I do as I please!" Sherlock contemns.

"Oh, you can, I'm just saying you should at least wait for us to leave."

"There's nothing wrong with them expressing their love," Mrs Hudson joins in. "It's awfully cute! I haven't seen Sherlock like this before. So happy, more than with your serial killer cases. It looks good on you, dear."

Mycroft shuts his mouth but his lips quirk up a hidden smile (only for Sherlock to see). And when everyone turns away to helps themselves to their second or third slice, Sherlock and Mycroft catch each other's gazes. With a fast nod and a smile, they bring their focus into something else in the room, dismissing their previous conversation seconds ago; Sherlock informing John about their new case or Mycroft conversing with Greg, two brothers in a strange yet loving friendship.

Greg's phone signals everyone to be quiet in a matter of seconds. The detective inspector picks up and mutters a few things to Sally or Anderson on the other end of the phone. He shuts it and grabs his coat.

"Sorry! Something has come up!"

"Part of that new case?" Mrs Hudson asks.

"Yep!"

Sherlock almost bounces from the armchair. "Come on, John!" He doesn't need to be told that Greg needs him to accompany him. He stalks for his and John's scarf and coat, locating them on the coat hanger.

"Oh, I'm sorry for leaving." John says, with a frown. "But you know how this is."

"It's no problem. It's good to have things back to normal. Er– n-normal for our lives, anyway," Molly reassures him with a bright smile. "See you soon, boys."

"You can finish the cheesecake if you like, Mycroft!" Sherlock hails, throwing John's coat toward him.

"Back in Baker Street and a new case. It's like the good old days!" Mrs Hudson voices, with a wave of her hand. "Take care!"

"Don't have too much fun, Sherlock." Mycroft taunts.

Greg is already in his car by the time Sherlock and John make it downstairs.

The thrill, the danger, and the anticipation of a new case and a new event in the case boils in Sherlock's veins. He feels a bit reluctant if it means getting John into harm's way, though, but he knows it's electrifying for the latter, so it's all just as well. Then again, there's scarcely enough danger for the pair. They live and breathe it almost every day, and if harm does get in one's way, the other is always there as protection, and, at least, there's the comfort of knowing that no false deaths will be necessary again.

"You ready?" John asks after he zips up his jacket.

"Definitely!" Sherlock kisses him on the lips, before they hop into Greg's car, awaiting the developments of their new case.

Finite.