John's hand stretched over the worn handle of the cane as he hobbled to the kitchen in 221B. He hadn't moved out and didn't have the strength to find another place. Mrs. Hudson was lenient on the rent, thankfully, and he found himself late often. She understood this as another one of his weaknesses however, and simply smiled when he apologized. Out of everyone surrounded in the death of Sherlock Holmes, John had taken it the hardest. After three years, though, the good doctor was soldiering on as best as possible. Mary moved in after he proposed to her half a year back and that was helping immensely. They shared John's room upstairs, because John couldn't possibly move the man's things out of his bedroom. After Sherlock died, all of his annoying experiments were thrown out as they molded, bringing a terrible stench to 221B. John hadn't noticed at first as Mrs. Hudson began to subtly move all of Sherlock's things to his bedroom. If one went into the dark green room (no one did, except for Mrs. Hudson to air it out once a week each month), they would find a sort of museum to the detective's life. Everything the man ever did or loved was in that room except for the violin and music stand that still stood by the window like a lone monument to the man who changed John Watson's life for the better.
This morning was just like every other morning. John woke up before Mary even stirred and left their bed, slowly putting on a light button up shirt and some jeans before seizing his cane and limping downstairs. That was the physically hardest part of the morning. At the beginning of the three years, John would nearly stumble down them, forgetting completely that he had the cane and he needed to use it once more. With Sherlock, he didn't. With Sherlock, he became a better man. Without, he was just the shell of a boring, ordinary man. Well, he was always ordinary, just less so with the Consulting Detective. A small smile tugged the corner of his mouth as he remembered the first night they had ever taken on the pink woman's case. A Study in Pink. Brilliant night, and the first night John had begun to fall in love with the annoying Sherlock.
He turned on the kettle, taking out three mugs, forgetting himself for a moment. "Sherlock, would you like any tea?" He paused for a moment, not hearing any answer. "Sherlock?" He began to walk to the living room. "Are you even listening to me, Sher-" His face fell just slightly as everything came back to him and he remembered. Sometimes it slipped from his memory that Sherlock was... gone... and he found himself asking the detective if he wanted tea or anything. It was these moments that broke through his otherwise strong exterior. It was the moments where the flat was so absolutely empty that made his heart pang with the pain that the absolute death got to him and made his chest ache. It wasn't a sharp pain, it was more of a dull stabbing that slowly spread to each of his limbs and creeped over the top of his skull, making his eyes water in just the slightest. But he had cried too much over the years, and he stopped around the two year mark. Had it already been three years? It seemed like yesterday Sherlock was lying on the ground with blood painting his hair and John held back by those annoying pedestrians.
He jolted out of his thoughts as two thin arms wrapped around his middle and a soft cheek pressed against the back of his neck. "You're thinking about him again," a feminine voice murmured against his skin. John nodded.
"I know, Mary. I shouldn't, but sometimes it's all I can do not to forget."
"You really should forget about his death and move on, John. You slip from me sometimes, back into what he helped you become, and I don't know if I like that or not." Her voice was low, urgent and he could hear the catch in her voice as she detailed it to him. He knew everything she was going to say already, they had been over it so many times. He pulled away a little bit and turned around to press a light kiss to the corner of her mouth.
"I'm going to the clinic today." She nodded.
"At what time?"
"In about an hour or so." She nodded and kissed him again.
"Let's have some tea before then, okay?"
An hour later, John was hailing a taxi. He got into the small black vehicle, waving to his future wife with a small smile. Small smiles were all he could manage. Really, he was lucky to have Mary. She understood that he was broken, and tried to mend him as best as possible. She couldn't offer all that Sherlock could, but she tried. She would take him for midnight walks through the city and listen to the stories he would tell. He could see the jealousy tingeing her eyes some nights, though. After these, they would retire to their bedroom for fierce lovemaking as she tried to help him. It didn't really help, it only made him hurt for Sherlock's insane sleeping schedule and strange reasons for keeping John up all night. John liked being the skull, missed being there as Sherlock would make a devilishly fantastic deduction about the newest murdered victim. The taxi stopped outside the building, and the doctor paid him and hobbled upstairs. Making a brief stop in his office, John put on the coat and picked up his clip board. First patient's name was John Smith. He flipped through the man's papers. Seemed he had a stomach problem, and it seemed simple enough. John shuffled through the papers and found he only had two more clients that day. A woman and a man. He squinted at the two names. They seemed rather familiar, but he couldn't remember just where he had heard them from. Shaking his head, John picked up his cane again and walked to Examination room number two. He opened the door, his eyes widening and his heart stopping in his chest as he saw a dark head of curls fiddling with the examination equipment.
Thinking it was yet another hallucination, John shook his head and strode into the room. "Don't play with the equipment. It can be very sensitive." John Smith grunted.
"I'll do as I please." Same baritone, and it hit John with the same kind of grief he experienced that morning. Started as a dull throb in his chest and spreading to each limb. Now over the skull and to his eyes until it became hard to stand.
"You will not in my examination room!" John stood straight, puffing up a little bit.
"That's the John I know," John said, turning around and looking at him. The air once more went out of John as he looked on the face of his old friend. No one could have those impossible cheekbones, those almond shaped eyes. The blue color was warm as the world's only consulting detective looked over John with a frown on his face. His hair was slightly longer, just almost hanging in his eyes completely. He hadn't really aged, either. Just slightly around the eyes. Sherlock, it had to be Sherlock, got off the examination table. "I'm sorry John. I know that it was a three years. But I had to make sure you were safe." He opened his arms slightly, like he didn't know what to do with them.
"Arse!" John shouted at the top of his lungs, thankful that the rooms were mostly soundproof. Cane and limp completely forgotten, his knuckles connected with Sherlock's seemingly perfect jaw. The detective's thinner-than-normal-even-for-Sherlock's body crumpled to the floor as John rained blow upon blow to him, purposely missing everywhere either fragile or important to the man. At the end, the two were a pile on the floor, Sherlock taking each blow to his body stoically. They were both breathing heavily and John stood, offering his hand to Sherlock. "You have a story to tell," he said quietly. Sherlock nodded, taking the hand and sitting on the examination table.
"I'm sorry, John." The words weren't forced, just foreign to the man's tongue. They sounded strange coming out of that heart shaped mouth. John stepped closer to Sherlock, wrapping his arms around the man's emaciated middle, feeling each rib there.
"I'm so glad you're home," he murmured with a smile. It took a second before Sherlock's arms encircled John's shoulders tightly, hugging the man to his chest.
"I've missed you. I've missed you so much." The admitted confession burned into John's ears and bones.
"So have I. It's torn me into pieces. Never leave me again." Sherlock nodded.
"I won't." The two men pulled away a little bit and John's hands came up and cupped Sherlock's cheeks lightly, looking at the damage. His nose wasn't bleeding and neither was his lips. His lips. John couldn't resist. He leaned forward just slightly, watching as Sherlock's body did the exact same and kissed him. It was slow, and tender, two old friends becoming something much more than friends. John only pulled away when he felt something wet on the thumbs resting near Sherlock's eyes.
The man, the machine, was actually crying. John just simply stared at the man who seemed so vulnerable in that moment. "Sherlock?"
"What about Mary?" he asked.
"How do you...?" He blinked in utter surprise. "Mycroft told me. He had been surveying you over the past three years while I took out Moriarty's army. That's all I've been doing. But now he's gone and I'll never have to leave you." John nodded, kissing Sherlock again and pressing his lips tightly against Sherlock's soft ones. When he finally pulled away, he smiled shyly.
"Does that answer your question?" Sherlock laughed breathily.
"Yes, yes it does. Can we go home now?" Home seemed fantastic.
"I have two more clients." Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"John, don't be thick. They were old victims of murder." That's where he had recognized the names. He paused, and ran a hand through Sherlock's curls. John admitted that he always wanted to do that. He always wanted to kiss Sherlock. He was in love with the frustrating, impossible man. John Watson would always be in love with him. Sherlock hopped off the table, pressing against John lightly. "Let's go home." John nodded, and only returned briefly to his office to hang up his coat and check out. They took a taxi home and tumbled to the couch as soon as they were back to 221B, a tangle of limbs and clothes that were soon forgotten about.
It was only a half hour later that John and Sherlock heard something other than the two of them. They had collected a blanket from the top of the couch, snuggling underneath it together and talking quietly. John was tucked underneath Sherlock's chin, pressing little kisses to his neck and soothing the dark marks John had left. The two men froze and John turned a sort of purple-red as he realized exactly what he had forgotten. It was Mary's day off today and she had invited an old friend from uni over for tea. They had apparently been in the bedroom going through old photos when the two had crashed into the flat, trapping the women upstairs to hear John's breathy moans and Sherlock's dark words. They walked downstairs, the friend from uni giving her an apologetic smile and turning red as she glanced at the two men entangled happy, and embarrassed, under the blanket. Mary gaped for a second before working the ring on her finger off, throwing it at Sherlock and shouting about how she would never be true competition for the detective because John was already too deep in love with the tall man. John really couldn't even apologize as she told them that she'd collect her things and be out by the end of the month. Long thin arms wrapped around John as the man sat up on the couch and Sherlock kissed John's hairline lightly. "I'm sorry, John. I know you loved her." He shrugged lifelessly and leaned back into Sherlock.
"Stop saying you're sorry. It's weird coming from you." The bow lips smiled and reached up to kiss John lightly. "Besides, I'd rather marry you," the doctor admitted quietly.
"Then why don't you?" John smiled and shook his head.
"You impossible, impossible man. I hate you."
"I know." Neither of them talked for another while, forgetting boundaries and society and whatever would come to them in time. They would take it step-by-step. All that mattered now was that Sherlock was home, and that made something in John's chest bloom instead of ache. Bloom in his chest and then down his stomach and to each limb, over his skull and into his eyes that watered, just a little bit as Sherlock kissed him after three long years of waiting.