"Damn it, Sherlock!"

Sherlock's eyes widened slightly. "John, wait, in my defense-" he started, scrambling up from his chair.

"I don't care about your defense!" John stormed down the staircase. "Why-"

"It's an experiment!"

"In my room?!"

"I'll clean it up-"

"You bloody well will! Get moving! And take the harpoon with you!"

Sherlock hurried for the stairwell, taking them two at a time. "It's just pig's blood, it's not going to hurt any-"

"Don't care!"

"Sherlock, what the- what the actual... hell," John coughed, doubled over over the sink, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention-" Sherlock scrubbed the back of his hand against his nose, chasing away the tickling sensation.

"Why the hell did you put cayenne pepper in the sugar bowl, anyway?"

Sherlock hummed non-commentedly. He didn't remember, to be honest. He was half tempted to tell John that it was his own fault, not paying attention to what he was putting into his tea, but something about John's coughing and watering eyes stopped him.

He was both equally put in his place as well as in fear that John might punch him when he came back around.

Sherlock rinsed the sugar bowl out again and reached for the towel. "I'll make some tea, with actual sugar."

"S-Sure," John muttered, sipping at some water.


"No!" Sherlock spun around, sprinting the distance between him and John. "We can't stop now, they're still on us!" He grabbed for John's hand. "Unless you're more privy to getting shot than I am, come on!"

John huffed, out of breath, but ran all the same, partially because Sherlock wasn't letting go of his hand. He'd stop if he did, and if they slowed down from exhaustion, they may as well be sitting ducks.

A solid five more minutes of running later, Sherlock pushed John off into a blind alley and put his hand over John's mouth to muffle the sound of his breathing. They both waited with bated breath - John moreso than Sherlock - until they heard their pursuers run by and then... silence.

Sherlock dropped his hand. "Finally."

John exhaled in a rush, staggering slightly.

Sherlock instinctively reached over to steady him. "Careful."

"You... are such... an idiot."

"Well, it's hardly my fault that they took offense to the truth," Sherlock said, off-hand.

John flashed a grin that went down under his gasping for breath. "You owe me. You... so owe me."

"For slowing us down and almost getting us caught?" Sherlock tilted his head.

John rolled his eyes. "Go hail a cab. Now."

Sherlock went - after making sure John still had his gun - smiling all the while.

"I cannot believe you did that."

Sherlock shrank down a little in the cab. "I needed a cover-up."

"So you decide to give that poor woman a heart attack?"

"... She kissed me back." His ears were still burning. He could feel them burning. The irksome part was that he didn't even know why. He'd kissed women before. Or had been kissed by women. And men. Both, actually.


"She kissed me back." Sherlock shook his head slightly. "I thought..." Well, he had thought the woman would be so shocked that she wouldn't get a hold of herself until after the fact. Or maybe he had expected to be slapped. He just hadn't expected her to respond positively, much less with so much... gusto. "I didn't expect that."

John glanced over at him, eyebrows hitched up towards his hairline.

Sherlock shifted. He was irritated with the blush still burning his face. He had a feeling John wasn't going to let him live this down for a-

John burst out laughing, shaking his head as he turned away. "You are bright red."

"She surprised me, is all," Sherlock muttered, but suspected that John couldn't hear him over the sound of his laughter.

Sherlock rolled his eyes, and tried to forget the memory of the kiss - with tongue, even- phantom against his lips.


Sherlock smiled, leaning against the wall in the stairwell.

"I thought I told you that I didn't want a birthday party," John continued, crossing his arms.

Sherlock glanced sideways at him. "You know you like it."

John blew out a breath and grinned. "Okay, maybe. Are you coming in?" He thumbed over his shoulder towards the sitting room.

"Maybe. It's a bit hectic at the moment."

"Alright." John paused. "Wait, you're going to skip out, aren't you?"

Sherlock's smile grew. "It's your birthday, John. I'll be here."

"Yeah, you'll be here now, or you'll be here later?"

Sherlock looked towards the wall. "Go have fun, John."

John sighed but smiled. "Don't stay out the entire time." He shuffled his feet. "And, uh, thanks. For setting this up."

Sherlock smiled to himself. "Many happy returns, John."


"We're sleeping out here tonight."


Sherlock dumped a pile of blankets and pillows onto the floor. "We're sleeping out here, in case something happens."

John eyed him warily. "What's going to happen?"

"Someone might try to break into our flat."


"We'll sleep in the landing," Sherlock said, kicking his pillow into the hallway.

"Wait a second, why can't I sleep on the couch? Why can't I sleep upstairs?" John retorted, following him into the hallway.

"Too far away with no escape route. They won't come in through the front door. Our quickest escape, if necessary, designates we sleep here. Just don't sleep too close to the descending stairs."

"Now just a minute-"

A half hour later, they were laying side by side in the landing. The initial arguments had already passed ("Can't you move over so it doesn't look like we're actually sleeping together? No, then I'll roll down the stairs. It would suit you." "That's my blankets, stop stealing it! They're all from my collection, let's not get picky, John." "Bloody hell, this isn't my pillow, where did you get this? From a mountain wall?") and they were cloaked in silence.

"... This is just peachy," John muttered.

Sherlock clasped his hands over his chest. "You've slept in worse places."

"Of course I have." John rolled onto his side. "But that doesn't make having a bed upstairs and having to sleep on the floor because of a bloody possible break-in better."

"Oh, where's your sense of adventure?"

"Trying to sleep, that's where."

Sherlock tilted his head towards John and raised an eyebrow. John peered at him after a moment, then rolled his eyes and smiled as he closed his eyes again.

"Go to sleep, Sherlock."

Sherlock hummed and closed his eyes. "Goodnight, John."

"Well, it's not yet," John mumbled.

Sherlock smiled wryly. "I'll wake you if someone breaks in."

"Oh, thanks. Because that'll make it a good night," John said sarcastically.

"You know it will."

John stifled a laugh as a sigh. "Go to sleep."

Sherlock wasn't sure if he planned on going to sleep, but he closed his eyes nonetheless. The flat was silent. He didn't know if would stay that way, but, either way, he was sure to be content.

A brief description of zesty: in terms of food, something spicy like. In terms of otherwise, something special, ie: zest. Curiosity or something different. At least, that's the way I was taking it here. And there's no one special like Sherlock; Sherlock has brought zest to John's life ever since they met, and so, I thought it was a good, final chapter to bring the story back around.

And that being said: this is the last chapter! It's taken over two years, seventy-eight chapters, frantic word searches, buckets of irritation, and a great deal of patience on both my end (many a time I had thought why did I take on a story like this?!) and yours (thank you all for sticking with this story!) I want to thank you all immensely for sticking around with your reviews, your favourites, and your follows. You all are amazing, and I love you all for your dedication to this fandom as much as my own fanfiction. Happy holidays to all, and a very wonderful new year to all!

I do not own Sherlock. Thank you for all of your support!