They were standing on an airfield in Pakistan, him and Irene Adler. She was about to leave on a plane to America, full of homebound soldiers.
"I imagine this is the last time we'll ever see each other," said Sherlock.
"I imagine so," said Irene with all the sentiment Sherlock had, which was none, as they both liked to pretend. "Well It s been fun. Thanks for saving my life."
"I was in the area," he lied.
She turned to go, but stopped. "You know when you told me you'd never begged for mercy in your life?"
"Yes." Sherlock was confused as to what this had to do with anything.
"You have though."
"I have not," Sherlock scoffed.
"Yes you have. I saw you."
"In my sitting room. When they were going to kill John if you didn't give them the code," she replied smugly.
He had to admit he was caught out there. "An amendment then: I've never begged for mercy for myself."
"But you have for John, and I imagine that wasn t the first time."
"What's your point?" Sherlock was wary of the ground they might be treading on.
"I'll admit this was a nice little game we've been playing and there is definitely an attraction here. Yes, I am technically bisexual, but I really do prefer women. And you... You prefer him."
"Have you ever begged for anyone else's life? Even a child, a little old lady?"
Sherlock didn t answer, but thought of the voices on the phone that Moriarty had spoken through. He also had the sneaking suspicion that Irene knew and was referring specifically to them.
"Why not? she asked of his unspoken admission. Why him? Why not even for yourself. You're vain enough. Is he more valuable to the world? More deserving of life?"
"Those two aren't the same thing."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm a genius. I can do things no one else can. Of course I m more valuable. But John... He is more deserving of life."
"I may be an amazing man, but I am, by no means a good one. John is. He's the very embodiment of goodness and loyalty and idealism and bravery."
"And you love him," she said with a smile as if that was her point all along.
"Love, as I've said before, is a weakness," said Sherlock plainly.
"When John picks up his gun to defend you, when he fights tooth and nail to save you, is that weak?"
"No. Of course not."
"Then wouldn't you say he draws his greatest strength from his love for you?"
Sherlock was silent.
"If I killed him, what would you do?"
"I'd skin you alive," he said immediately.
"Because..." she baited.
"Because I... because I love him," he admitted sounding defeated.
"And what are you going to do about it?" she smiled devilishly.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Then show him!"
"Well, kissing him would be a nice start."
Sherlock shifted uncomfortably. "I'm not quite ready for something like that yet."
"Then do something nice for him. Make him a cup of tea, I don't know. Just make sure he knows." The plane's engines started up. "I have to go," she said. "Just man up, okay?" She boarded the plane and blew him a kiss as the doors closed, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
Back at Baker Street, John was reading the paper when he heard Sherlock come in. "How was your trip?" he asked.
"Fine," said Sherlock flippantly and went into the kitchen.
"What was the case?"
"The one you flew halfway around the world for?"
"Oh, it was nothing. Dead end."
John heard some clinking in the kitchen and assumed it was one of Sherlock s experiments. "See any kangaroos?"
"What?" said Sherlock incredulously.
"In Australia," John replied in an obvious manner.
"Oh, Australia, right," he remembered that was where he told John he was going. "No, stayed in Sydney."
"Oh." John went back to reading his paper and suddenly there was a cup of tea in front of his face. He looked at Sherlock oddly and took it. "Did... Did you just make me tea?"
"Is that so odd?" he sat across from John.
"Yes." He stared at the tea. "Are you testing a drug?"
"No! ...No, it s just tea. That I made. For you."
John took an experimental sip. It was exactly how he liked it. "Thank you."
Then Sherlock smiled one of those rare, small, genuine smiles. They sat in comfortable silence drinking their tea and it was in small moments like these that John remembered why he loved Sherlock, and Sherlock, for the first time, fully realized that he loved John.