A/N: Thanks to Mirith Griffin for inspiring this story by picking up on the idea in my story Non Dimenticar – I think this is what should happen post-Reichenbach. And also thanks for that mp3 mash-up of John and Sherlock going at it you sent me, which wormed its way onto my iTunes and I found myself listening to it when I was cooking last night. Made my flatmates and I laugh.
I realise that I don't elaborate much on the relationship between John and Sherlock here – in my headcanon for this story, they're not together, but they'll probably get there soon after this. It just would have wrecked the pace of the story to stop and explain their relationship.
I know it's not good from the look on his face. Mycroft 's emotions are like a book written in an exotic language; most people can't read him at all, but if you know how it's glaringly obvious. That little downward quirk in the left corner of his cruel lips, lips that are a shade redder than normal from all the times he's bitten them in distress. The vein in his temple, jittering with nerves like it's not quite sure how I'll react.
"Just tell me, Mycroft."
One reaches a point where nothing he could tell me could possibly be worse than all the scenarios I could imagine for myself if he continues to stay silent and look this worried.
Mycroft sighs. "John is not doing well."
I think what I did three weeks ago is quite possibly the worst thing I've ever done. The stupid thing is, I've hurt so many people on purpose just because I didn't care, and so many more by accident because I missed some social cue and didn't realise that what I said or did could be offensive or insulting. It smarts somewhat that the worst thing I've ever done to hurt someone not only hurt the one person I want to hurt the least, but was done with me knowing full well exactly how much it would hurt him and not being able to do a thing about it.
And of course, illogical as it is, I've spent these last three weeks since I jumped off the roof of St. Bart's brooding around first Molly's flat, now Mycroft's, with a broken arm, a dead man's face, and intermittent memories of John's expression as he tried to feel my pulse accompanied by constant imaginings of how I'd feel if it had been him that had jumped. When these occur together the pain in my chest is so strong I have to stop pacing and sit down.
I don't think I can do this.
"Tell me." I need to know, I have to hear everything rather than fill in the gaps myself, because the John I'm imagining feels the way I feel, and I never want anyone to feel like this. Least of all him.
My brother levels his head until he's staring at me like I'm hiding something from him, when he's the one who won't tell me how badly I've hurt my best friend – the person I love the most in all the world. "You won't be able to do anything about it, Sherlock. You have to try and put Doctor Watson from your mind until this is done – if you want to find him again, you'll have to do this without distraction."
He's right, of course. I've thought this through a thousand times, there is no other option than the one I've taken. I have to stay 'dead' until I've found all the people who knew, all the people who would still follow Moriarty's orders to kill Mrs Hudson and Lestrade and especially John, and stopped them from carrying it out. I can't tell John, because if he knows, they'll know, and then they'll kill him. My darling John was never much of an actor.
"How are you planning to fix this situation?" Mycroft asks, resting his chin on his fist. I finally succumb to the urge to pace relentlessly until he'll have to replace his carpet – serves him right, really. He could at least pretend he wants to comfort me. Isn't that what family's supposed to do?
I take a deep breath. "There's only one thing I can do. I can't tell anyone. I have to do this myself – and I'll need your help to track down the people Moriarty have watching John, and Mrs Hudson, and Lestrade, I'm assuming you're keeping tabs on them all?" He narrows his eyes slightly. "They're watching. I know John would keep it a secret if I told him, but he'd… he'd act differently, and they'd figure it out. I'll have to find them all and stop them."
"And if you can't stop them?"
He knows what I'm going to say, and really he didn't need to ask, but I say it anyway. "I'll kill them."
I stop my pacing to glare at him in silent challenge. He could try to stop me, but I know he won't. He knows I'm smart enough not to get into any trouble for it. "Sherlock," he says, and it almost sounds like he's trying to be gentle. "You are not a killer."
"If I have to, for John, I will be."
To my surprise, he blinks and sits back as if that's news to him. "Dear Lord," he says quietly. "You really love him, don't you?"
Yes. I thought that was the whole problem, thought that was what we were talking about. Doesn't everybody know? That's why I never really mentioned it to him; I thought the way I felt about him was so obvious that even John in his infinite ignorance could see it. "Of course I do." But I still regret things, wish I didn't have to do this. I wish I could have even just one more day with him before he starts trying to forget me and then starts hating me because I left him, just one more day to chase each other around London until we're giggling and breathless and I'll hold him close and breathe in the clean smell of his hair and tell him how much I care about him, how much I'll miss him, how sorry I am that things have to be this way, because I am so sorry, John, I'm so sorry I'm so sorry I'm so –
"Of course I love him, Mycroft, how could I not? He's John." I open my eyes again and steel myself to bare my soul to my brother, because he'll see John again when I won't and I need someone to know. "And I never really told him. The last thing I ever said to him face to face was that I didn't have any friends. He thinks I didn't appreciate him, he thinks he didn't mean anything to me, and now I've hurt him so badly and I can't fix it. I don't want to leave him, Mycroft, I can't do it without him."
Even I'm vaguely surprised at the tears biting and stinging behind my eyes; I can count on two fingers the number of times I've cried in the last twenty years, and both of them were because of John. I suppose I would've been stupid not to fall in love with someone who could elicit this kind of reaction in me. But what really surprises me is that he stands up, my lanky impenetrable older brother, and stiffly puts his arms around me, offering me physical comfort and sheltering like he hasn't since I was seven or eight; and that when confronted with something I've trained myself not to crave, not to seek, not to like at all, I lean into his arms and sniff against his shoulder, trying to hold back the tears because I've embarrassed myself enough already. He rubs my back firmly. "Tell me," he says. I don't want to – this is Mycroft, I've spent years being rejected and shunned by him – but who else am I going to tell?
"I… I'm scared of what happens when I come back," I admit finally, and I think it might feel better having said it, just a little bit. "What if he's forgotten me?"
Mycroft's hand on my back settles into a circular rhythm that somehow manages to make my body relax. "He won't forget you. Trust me."
"That might be even worse. This might take years, Mycroft, especially without John for me to bounce ideas off – everything takes longer without John. What if I come back and it's been years and he's married? If I knock on his door and he's there with a whole family, and there isn't room for me in it? He'll hate me for lying to him and he'll turn me away – he'll get over me. And I'll never get over him. It's not like I'll show up and he'll say, great, you're alive, and drop whatever he was doing to move back into Baker Street and solve cases with me. Oh, God, there's really no going back, is there? Mycroft, what have I done?"
He gently steers me back to the sofa; for the first time in years I let myself be led by him, sat down carefully and propped up against the cushions. "You did the only thing you could for the survival of the ones you love," he reassures me. That doesn't make it okay. "Have you considered… taking John with you?"
I stare at him for a few moments. "I can't do that. I don't know what I'll have to do, where I'll have to live to get this done – It'll be dangerous. I can't bring him with me because if something happened to him…"
"Sherlock, John is a soldier."
I think I might pity him for being so ignorant of what this feels like. "You don't understand, do you? If I'd… even if I hadn't known Moriarty was going to do something like this, even if I didn't have a back-up plan, even if jumping off that rooftop would have meant dying, I would have done it. A world without John is not worth living in. If I lost him… if I pulled him into danger with me and he… didn't make it I'd…" There are no words. I think he knows what I mean, at least, even if he doesn't understand it. "I can't put him through everything he's been going through for the last three weeks just to drag him into more danger and have him die."
Mycroft is silent, and for a moment I think I've got through to him. But the quiet is heavy, a weight that feels like secrets. "What?" I ask after a moment.
He sighs. "John attempted suicide last Tuesday."
For a few moments I can't breathe, enough moments for me to start panicking about it – can't breathe, can't breathe, can't breathe – and then Mycroft notices that my face must be going purple and touches my cheek. "Sherlock."
Suddenly I can inhale again, and I do so frantically, feeling the air rush into my lungs so fast I cough and splutter. Mycroft's hand is at my back again, rubbing slow circles into the fabric of my shirt. "I didn't intend to tell you," he admits. "And this course of action I am about to recommend you take is not one I would advise under any other circumstances. But perhaps it would be best to have him near you for this. He would be easier for you to protect if he is close by, and you would sleep easier if you knew for sure he was alive and safe, get the job done faster if he was at your side, and save a lot of pain on both parts. Sherlock – John is not afraid of danger. What he is afraid of is losing you, something he thinks he has already suffered."
I stare at him. I can imagine it now, seeing John again, telling him I'm still alive, asking him to come with me. But what if he doesn't… it's already been three weeks. What if I've already hurt him so badly he doesn't want to come, doesn't trust me anymore? What if I've already lost my John who used to run from near-death experiences that we could have easily avoided and laugh?
"But they'll know," I tell him. No matter how appealing it sounds, no matter how much I'd love to have John back and not break his heart for three years and have him hate me when I come back, the fact cannot be escaped that it's just too dangerous. For both of us. "The only reason they're not looking for me now, not hunting down and killing everyone I've ever cared about, is because they think I'm dead. If John suddenly disappears, then they'll come after us."
Mycroft keeps looking at me as though I'm being extraordinarily slow. "John has already attempted suicide once."
I shudder. Just the thought… John sitting in his armchair by the fire with his Browning resting gently against his temple, like he's simply trying to scratch an itch at his hairline. But guns hardly ever fail – did he use pills? It doesn't seem like John to try slitting his wrists or something like that. If he was going to commit suicide, he'd take the gun somewhere he wouldn't make a mess for someone to clean up, or use pills - I can't believe I'm thinking about this.
My brother's face swims back into focus, and I latch onto it to try and stop myself from vomiting. "Do you think we could?" I ask him.
He smiles softly down at me. "I would help you, this time. We have more time to plan and therefore less chance of anything going wrong. No-one would doubt the sincerity of his actions, buying you more time that you would be able to utilise to its full potential."
I can feel my breathing speeding up as hope floods through my bloodstream and dances in my fingertips. "How soon?"
"A week, perhaps, to have everything in order?" His eyes are already full of plans and calculations; cradled in his lap like this I want to surrender to him, to lie back and close my eyes like he could rock me and sing to me like the mother we never really had. It's ridiculous; I'm thirty-four years old and I still long for comfort from the warm bodies of others. Ideally John's.
He looks down at me again. "But you can go and explain it to him tonight."
People never fail to underestimate how difficult it is to break into your own flat.
Well, I suppose technically it's not breaking in if I've still got my key, but all the same I spend a good ten minutes standing outside with my ear pressed to the door to make sure Mrs Hudson won't walk out into the hallway, and then a further five in front of the door to flat B listening to see if John has company, my stomach twisting itself into obscure shapes until I can't wait any longer.
The flat is a mess. Mrs Hudson's tried to pack all of my stuff into boxes, all my lab equipment and ancient case notes, and it looks as though John has tried to unpack it all again. From the doorway I can see my account of a case I solved in university spread out across the coffee table.
He's not in the living-room or the kitchen, and the twelve cups of half-drunk tea are all cold. It's late at night; I suppose it's not unreasonable that he might be asleep, despite it not quite being the usual time that he retires. People sometimes sleep more when they're grieving.
He isn't in his bedroom, either, though, and the bed hasn't been slept in. He must not be in the house; my chest sort of squeezes and I have to sit down on his bed and breathe for a moment. Where the hell could he have gone?
My heart deflates. I can't be seen running off around London looking in pubs and bars for him. And I'd really hoped to see him again tonight.
After a few minutes – resisting the absolutely ridiculous urge to take his pillow and hold it to my chest and breathe in the smell of his hair – I get up and go back downstairs, not bothering to be as quiet as I was on the way up, but still listening intently for sounds of Mrs Hudson or John returning with company; but I don't hear anything until I'm halfway across the living room.
Then someone sniffs.
I freeze where I'm standing, but where I'm standing happens to be right in the middle of the room, completely exposed with nowhere to hide.
After I've calmed down a bit when no-one walks into the room, I realise that the sound actually came from my bedroom.
I didn't even think to look for him in there – why would he be in my room? There's nothing in there, even I hardly spent any time in there. But it must be him – who else is going to be in my room at this time of night?
So I tiptoe over and push the door, hanging not-quite-shut, until it swings open with a gentle sigh of squeaky hinges.
John's almost-asleep on my bed, my pillow tucked between his legs and clutched in his arms as he embraces it like a koala in a tree, his face snuffling into the damp patches left by his tears.
I always assumed heartache was just a metaphor.
"Oh, John," I say quietly. He jumps at this, like he didn't hear me come in, unwrapping himself from the pillow and sitting up. "I'm so sorry."
He sniffs and blinks a few times. "Sherlock?"
It's two steps between the door and the bed, two steps to sit down beside him and just touch his knee. "I'm so sorry, John," I repeat.
"You, um…" his own strong, gun-calloused hand drifts down to touch mine on him, his voice rough from sobbing. "You're not dead."
I try a weak grin. "Well done." He doesn't laugh, but I don't expect him to. "I'm really sorry. I didn't want to. I shouldn't be here, really, but I had to see you."
"You're alive… Jesus, you're alive. Three weeks, Sherlock, you've been alive for three weeks and you never told me? Where the hell have you been?"
His fingers on top of mine turn and clutch so that his fingernails are digging into my hand, and it hurts, but it's a good hurt because it's John and I'm seeing him again and he hasn't pushed me away yet. "Can you let me explain from the beginning, John?" I ask quietly. "Or it's not going to make any sense."
He stares at me with narrowed eyes for the longest time. "Okay."
So I take a deep breath. "I knew from the moment we left Kitty Riley's place that his plan would be something like this. The only thing he had to do after he had my whole life story was to make me do something that proved it was true. Something like suicide. So I… I wanted to do everything in my power to make sure it didn't get that far, but I contacted Molly and put a back-up plan in just in case, and then I orchestrated things so that Moriarty and I met on the rooftop, and then…" I've relived this so many times you'd think I'd be immune to it now, but it's different somehow, telling the story with John's half-worried, half-disbelieving face in front of me and the need to tell it so that he'll understand, so that he'll know how much this hurt me too.
"He had people on you. You, and Mrs Hudson, and Lestrade – they were watching you, and if I didn't jump then they'd kill all of you. I tried to manipulate him but then he shot himself, and John, I… if I didn't have you, the three of you, my life wouldn't be worth anything. So I jumped, and Molly saved me. I got a few cuts and bruises," I assure him, holding out my bandaged left wrist. "But after about a week with Molly looking after me I went and told Mycroft."
I pause for a moment, because this is the big bit, the bit I have to say right or I'll lose him. "They're still out there. Moriarty's people. And if they find out I'm still alive they'll come after you again. I couldn't risk you knowing I'm alive because you'd act differently, even if you were pretending you didn't know, and they'd find out. That's why I haven't come here before."
He frowns at me. "So why are you here now?"
My heart sort of thuds in my ears. I could tell him half the truth and he'd believe it, tell him I just wanted my assistant back, but would that make him come with me? I've made the leap now, and the time for 'all or nothing' is long gone. I've already chosen 'all'.
"Because I can't live without you." I twist my hand around under his until our palms are pressed together, holding hands properly. "I've been driving Mycroft insane pacing and worrying about you, and it's taken me at least three times as long as it should to do everything I've tried to do. And then he told me, this morning..."
Without warning, my throat closes mid-sentence and the words peter out; my hand tightens around his. He frowns at me, his own hand tightening too. "What?"
I try to level my eyes at him. "Mycroft told me what you tried to do on Tuesday."
John's voice contorts in pain. "Sherlock," he says quietly, "I didn't..." I hold up my free hand. I don't want to hear it.
"You're still here. That's enough for now. But John, I can't... I can't leave here, and go where I have to to track down Moriarty's people, if I'm going to spend every second of every day worrying about you, about whether I'm going to come back after years have gone by and you won't be here. This won't be worth anything if I don't have you to come back to."
The tear gathering in the corner of his eye trembles and falls; I catch it with a finger before it can mark his face.
"I... I realize that this is forcing your hand somewhat," I tell him softly, my heart becoming distressingly audible again. "And if it's not what you want, then we can... we'll look at alternatives, but I can... we can do the same thing for you as we did for me, and you could come with me. It won't be pleasant, and it'll be dangerous, but I could use someone capable to watch my back out there."
He blinks. "What, come with you?" he asks incredulously. My bottom lip jumps between my teeth before I force it down again.
"I understand that it's a lot to ask, and that I have no right to ask at all after what I've put you through. But I don't think I can do any of it without you."
Slowly, his frown clears into John's absolutely addictive grin. "Sherlock." He picks up my hand and wraps it warmly in one of his own. I offer him the other one too, and he assimilates it into the pile. "I... I would like nothing more than to go chase the bad guys with you, Sherlock. I'm just so happy you're alive."
He said yes. It bounces around my brain for a moment before it settles somewhere it makes sense. "Oh, John!" I cry, losing selective motor control and launching myself at him. He helps in surprise as we collide, my hands wrenching out of his grip to wrap around him and pull him down. We fall until the both of us are lying on my bed, his body heat warming and comforting. After a moment, he coughs.
"Yeah. Bit of warning next time you're going to hug me like that would be nice," he says, but he doesn't move away; in fact, he brings up one arm to wrap around my shoulder. "I've missed you," he says quietly.
I've missed him too, more than I can say, but rationally it seems silly. "It was only three weeks," I tell him instead.
He chuckles. "Yeah, but I thought you were dead, so..."
I clutch him tighter. "I'm sorry, John."
"It's okay," he mumbles against my shirt-collar. "You couldn't help it. Thank you for coming here tonight and telling me, and for what you're offering to do."
"Thank Mycroft," I reply. "I was too worried about you to think it through and realize that really dragging you into danger was probably the safest option for you. And the actual act will be much easier with his help."
John hums lightly. "How are we going to do it, then?"
I swallow. "Well… how did you try to do it last time?" he shifts against me uncomfortably; he doesn't want to tell me, and I don't really want to know, but it's statistically unlikely for someone to try the same method twice so I need to know.
"The same way you did," he says finally. "Off the top of St Bart's." I'd told myself I wasn't going to cry around him, but just the picture of him standing there where I was, on that rooftop with his arms outstretched, makes my throat close up and my eyes sting and water. "Some intern popped up for a cigarette and found me. Then Mrs Hudson locked me in the flat for three days." His arms squeeze me to him. "I just didn't want to live without you."
We lie there in silence for a moment because I can't find words worthy to follow after that. "It'll be easiest to do it with pills. We haven't had time to plan anything, but Mycroft will probably drop in with the details in the next few days." I pause for another minute; this is the part where I have to leave. I don't remember ever wanting anything less. "I should go. But I'll see you in about a week."
"Can you stay?" he asks quickly. "Just for a bit, just until I fall asleep?"
I shouldn't. Mycroft will have something to say about it when I come back. "Of course." he wriggles into a more comfortable position, dragging the pillow up under our heads. "John, um..." He hums gently, his nose cold against my collarbone. "I'll probably be gone before you wake up, so I just want you to know I love you."
He sighs happily. "I know, Sherlock. I love you too."
Given that I haven't had a proper night's sleep for three weeks, I suppose it's not really surprising that I fall asleep before he does.
I wake up at three a.m. feeling better than I've felt in a long time. It takes a moment to unwind myself from John, who looks as though he needed the sleep more than I did. I press a gentle kiss to his forehead, and leave a scrap of paper on the pillow beside his head for when he wakes up.
Not a dream. Still alive. SH
A paper cup of black coffee lands on the desk beside me.
Molly smiles at me when I look up in surprise from the CCTV feed on the laptop I've been glued to for half an hour. "Black, two sugars," she says.
"Thank you, Molly."
She smiles and shrugs her shoulders, the white lab-coat jiggling over her chest. "You look like you haven't slept in about a week," she passes off. I haven't, so I shrug back.
"Too much planning to do." I take a gulp of the coffee – made just the way I like it, of course – and gesture over to the Estee Lauder bag on the bench opposite. "Could you pass me that bronzer, please, Molly?"
The compact and a hand-mirror sail through the air to land in my outstretched palm. "Are you sure you don't want me to do it, Sherlock?" she asks, sliding her bottom up onto the desk beside the laptop feed of 221B's living room. I consider it; she helped me to disguise myself once before and did a fairly good job of it. I hand the bronzer back.
"I have to say, Sherlock, I'm really glad you decided to do this," she tells me as she slaps the brown gunk on my face. "It was just awful seeing John and knowing that the reason he was so… dead on the inside, was just a lie, and that I could just tell him that I'd helped you and he'd be all right again, and still not being able to say anything."
Her dark eyes are quite pretty like this, focussed on her transformation of my face with her teeth barely clenched over her bottom lip. I noticed it when I was staying with her, too, and she was taking care of me, and I remember thinking that if I didn't have John, if I hadn't fallen for John first… and yet, it was John' influence that taught me to see her like this. I knew Molly for two years before I met John and I barely looked at her unless I needed something.
I catch her hand from my face. "Molly," I start gently; her eyes rise from my cheekbone to my eyes. "Thank you. If I hadn't made this choice you could have suffered like that for years. There is no way I could ever repay everything you've done for me."
She laughs gently and pulls her hand out of mine, reclaiming the bronzer brush and going back to my face. "Well, if I ever have to fake my death, I'll know where to go for help," she says. "Try the glasses now."
My eyes are shielded from Mrs Hudson first in dark hazel contact lenses, and then tortoiseshell-rimmed square glasses. I put them on and shoot Molly a lopsided half-grin. "'ow do I look?" I ask in a thick Cockney accent. She laughs.
"I wouldn't recognise you. You'd have to be John Watson to know it was you under there."
I smile back at her. "Thank you."
As I cross the room to get my NHS jacket, my phone chimes. "Molly, can you check that?" I ask, but I already know what it says.
Thirty seconds later Molly and I are sitting tight in the back of an ambulance driven by one of Mycroft's people, sirens clearing a path to Baker Street. "You won't be able to come in, Molly, but we'll see you in a few minutes." She nods quickly, giving me a brief, fortifying hug before Mycroft's man and I unload a stretcher and jump up the stairs to 221B.
Mycroft is standing over Mrs Hudson. My stomach clenches to look at her, collapsed in my armchair and sobbing into her hands. It takes every inch of willpower not to go over there and comfort her, but she gets up when she sees us; Mycroft directs us into the bedroom and she follows, watching as I take John's pulse.
It gives me pause, I admit, walking into my old bedroom to see John passed out with a trail of vomit on my bed beside him and two empty pill-bottles on the bedsit, to feel his wrist devoid of pulse. I can't help leaving Mycroft's minion to clean up the 'body' and approaching my landlady.
"Mrs…" I query by way of introduction.
She sniffs helplessly. "Hudson," she informs me. "Martha Hudson."
I bite my lip. "Mrs 'udson, I'm so sorry."
"Oh, no!" she cries, falling forwards into my arms and dissolving into tears. I let myself hold her close like I want to, making soothing noises and cradling her to my chest.
"I'm so sorry," I repeat, over and over because this is my fault, and it hurts so badly that I can't save everyone.
Eventually Mycroft peels her away from me and settles for looking vaguely discomfited when she latches onto him instead. "Look after her," I hiss at him. He tries to look sympathetic, but she turns around to me again.
"I'm sorry, dear," she says, semi-composed. I smile at her, and she recoils, looking shocked. "Oh! You – you look like someone I used to know." Fresh tears well up in her eyes and leak down the wrinkles in her cheeks. "He died about a month ago."
It's not fair that Moriarty can cause so much suffering and he's dead. I look at Mycroft again. "Well, I'm very sorry, Mrs 'udson."
She waves a hand. "It's hardly your fault, dear. John went to pieces after Sherlock died. They loved each other more than anything I've ever seen before, but I don't think they ever told each other." She gives an almighty sniff, leaning into Mycroft. "I suppose they'll be together now, won't they."
I smile at her. "Yes, they will." I know that for a fact.
He wakes up in the ambulance an hour later, his hand clutched in both of mine. It takes him a while to get used to breathing at normal speed again after Mycroft's drug slowed his heartbeat so drastically, but after a minute or so his eyes focus properly and he sees Molly and me hovering over him.
"Sherlock," he says, his voice strange and husky.
I squeeze his hand, and he squeezes back, slowly manoeuvring himself into a sitting position. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty." When Molly nudges me, I clamber onto the stretcher beside him and fold him into a careful hug. "I love you," I tell him again.
He laughs, squeezing me into a proper embrace. "I love you too."
Molly coughs nervously. "Right, well, if you could let me out at the station I'll get the Tube back and go 'find out', I suppose," she says. We turn back to her.
"Thank you, Molly," John says, slipping his arm from my shoulder to link our fingers together.
She grins. "Come 'round for coffee next time you're in London," she commands, and then she's gone. Mycroft's accomplice turns around in his seat.
"Next stop, Mister Holmes?"
I look at John. "Heathrow."
John looks back. "Right. So where are we going?"
The other man looks at me expectantly. I shrug. "I'd wager we've got about a week before we can start looking properly. So, for now, wherever you like. We could go to Switzerland," I suggest. "See the Reichenbach Falls for real."
He snorts. "No way. I'd be terrified I'd lose you over them, as well. How about Florence?"
I smile at him. "Okay. Florence it is – someone in the Italian government owes Mycroft a favour, they can get us into Witness Protection for a few weeks."
"Is there a government Mycroft isn't owed a favour from?" he asks curiously.
"Probably not. Text him for me, would you? Then chuck the phone out the window and we'll get another one at the airport."
He chuckles, nodding. "Fair enough. Where's your phone?"
"Top jacket pocket." I hold out my arm to give him access.
John shoots me a look that says, really, you lazy prat? For a moment it's just like old times. "Nothing's going to change, is it?" he asks wryly.
I wince. Perhaps I should have waited a day or so before I expected our relationship to return essentially to normal. "I'm afraid not." To my surprise, he grins and reaches into my pocket.