I got off that train and back to the village I had called home, that crazy day in May and made my way back to the cottage where I had lived and looked around. I had always thought that it was a dingy place that held no light but even in the fading light of day I saw that it wasn't that way at all. It was a good place but it wasn't home. My outlook had changed the world was brighter than it had been before.
In a way I was sad it took me leaving it to see it's charms. I had only picked it because it was the complete opposite of London and the life I'd left behind. And now that I was going back to that world, I could see the small town charms. Maybe some day when life had slowed me and Sherlock down where we no longer needed the thrill of the case and the chase, we could settle down out here.
I stuck my hands in my pockets and pulled out my keys. I looked at them and released that still on the chain was my key to 221B Baker St. I frowned at it slightly. I didn't remember it being on there before but realized that it always had been there. I hadn't really given up hope that Sherlock would come back to me. I smiled and let myself in.
I looked around my little house and realized that while I had contributed to the decoration at Baker St. there was nothing here that said who I was. There were no medals displayed, or pictures of my army buddies, there were no tokens of my life with Sherlock. There wasn't even a picture of my family. Well of course there wouldn't be one of Harry, as we didn't get along but there was nothing about my life here. It was like the hotel room the army had been putting me up in before I met Sherlock, barren.
I had all that stuff but it was still in boxes. Like some part of me believed I wouldn't be here long. That some part of me still had hope. I smiled again. I was getting use to that part of my face again. I don't think I smiled a true smile in all the time I'd been here. I went to bed feeling better than I had in years.
The morning dawned dark and dismal but it couldn't wipe the smile from my face. I had so much to do and I just didn't know where to start. So I opened the laptop and checked my emails and among the spam and junk were two emails one from each of the Holmes boys. My smile grew wider. The first one was from Mycroft.
Here is a list of places near Baker St that could suit housing your practice.
And attached was a list of about five places, complete with links to the realty sites and phone numbers to the direct lines of the agents. I had to say, whatever I thought about Mycroft and what he'd done to Sherlock and I, he was efficient. After going through the list and making a few calls, I went back to my email to read Sherlock's.
I hate to bother you with such trivial things when you are so busy, but I can't find my skull and some of my equipment is missing. Mrs. Hudson has been of no help and I need them. Would you know where they are?
I miss you.
I laughed and picked up my phone to call him.
"Hello?" I silently cursed myself. I had forgotten that I had changed my number to avoid getting harassed by fans and haters alike.
"Sherlock?" I asked, even though I knew it was him.
"Ah! John! Calling about my email." It wasn't a question.
"Yes," I said smiling into the phone. "Your skull is on the top shelf of your closet in your bedroom. And I believe that's where the miss equipment is as well but I'm not sure on that."
"Hold on…" I could hear Sherlock move through the flat and it made me home sick as I waited. "Who the hell put them there?" came the angry cry on the other end.
"I believe it was Greg…" I could hear mild cussing on the other end. "Is that all Sherlock?" I asked.
"Yes. Thank you, John."
"I miss you too Sherlock, I'll be home soon." I could hear a small murmur of agreement before he hung up.
I wish we had talked more. But it was my fault we hadn't. I briefly wondered if the equipment was for a case. But I had to push those type of thoughts from my mind otherwise I would be melancholy again. I just just didn't have time for that. I had things to do.
I made my way to my surgery whistling a happy tune. I wished the people I saw along the way a good morning. I probably shocked them but I just didn't care. All was right in the world again. I walked in to my surgery and my nurse and secretary was already there.
"Good morning Ellen," I said as I picked up my mail. She looked stunned. "Who do we have to see today?" I asked.
"Um… uh… let me see…" I smiled. Usually she had it memorized but I had thrown her off her game. For the first time, the unflappable Ellen Edgeworth had to look up who had appointments today.
"Uh… an emergency call with Tommy Barrett and then later at 2 pm Mrs. Gregson," she said.
"All right. let me know once Tommy and his mother get here, I'll be in my office." I smiled at her and walked briskly into my office whistling that same happy tune.
I sat down and called the one other Doctor in town. "Dr. Coulson? Dr. Watson speaking."
"Oh, hello John. I almost didn't recognize your voice. You sound different. Better. What did you do, meet a girl? Or whatever it is that floats your boat?" I laughed.
"No. No, nothing like that. I just had a pretty good day, yesterday."
"Mrs. Kelson was telling me that she saw you walking through town this morning without your cane. And you were whistling a happy tune. She suggested checking your cottage for pods." I laughed again. "I thought you had a family emergency yesterday, emergencies don't tend for good days make." He was curious.
"Yes well," I hedged. "It turned out for the best."
"I see." I wasn't sure if he believed me. "Well, I'm pretty sure you didn't ring me up just be social."
"Ah. Um, no. The emergency is forcing me back to London." There was silence on the other end and it seemed to stretch ad infinitum. But it was most likely a couple of seconds.
"Hence the better mood," came the emotionless reply.
"Oh, hey…" I sought to defend myself. It wasn't like that. Well, it wasn't exactly like that.
"No, John," Dr. Coulson's voice on the other end was quiet. "We've always known that London is where you belonged. We all wondered how long we could keep you here."
"Oh." I was speechless. Even they thought I was here on borrowed time.
"So, why don't we have lunch today and begin transferring over your patients to me?"
"Thanks, Phil. I appreciate it."
"No problem," and then he hung up. I didn't wait long after I ended the call until Ellen poked her head to tell me Tommy was here.
"Thank you." I walked to the other door in my office and opened it up to my surgery. Mrs. Barrett sat with Tommy who was clutching his arm. She looks pretty today, I thought as strolled up to my patient. I pulled the stool over to where Tommy sat and gently pulled on his arm to take a look at it.
"Ooh, ooh, ooh…" I cooed as tommy winced. "Let's get this x-rayed." I told him as I handed him off to Ellen. "If you're good maybe she can find you a treat." I flashed a smile up at Ellen and she nodded. I turned back the mother.
"So what was he doing in the oak tree by the school?" I asked.
"How did you know he fell from the oak tree?" she looked more stunned then when I came in with a smile.
"Well, it's not hard. I remember being a boy, and what boy could resist climbing that tree." I laughed. "But in all seriousness, judging from the time of day, it being just before school. Plus there was the oak leaves in his hair and the rough gravel in his knee."
"I didn't even noticed the scrape on his knee." She sounded horrified that she had missed that.
"Oh, don't worry, you were concentrating on the main thing, the break. And the rest just slipped your notice." I gave her my best warm smile as Ellen brought Tommy back with a sucker and the x-ray. I took the x-ray and put on the light box.
"Let's see what we've got here, shall we?" i told them as I turned on the light. I pointed to the two lines on the image. "Looks like two clean breaks, kiddo. Looks you get a nice cast there."
I pulled out the colors and had him pick one, then I went to work setting and casting his arm. Once I was done I turned to Mrs. Barrett. "In about six weeks take it to Dr. Coulson and he'll take a look to see if the cast can be taken off or if it needs two more weeks."
She looked at me strangely. " You won't be here then? Going on vacation?"
I simply smiled and said, "Going home."
By the time I got to my lunch appointment, I was the talk of the town. People were saying that I had changed, that I was happy for the first time since they met me. And that I was going home.
I walked into the small cafe and looked around. I spotted the good doctor sitting the corner with a notepad and cup of coffee. He was an older man nearing the fifty mark, a bit taller than me, though really that wasn't hard. He didn't look his age but he had this sense of gravitas, this stoic nature that made him a good man and better doctor. He would be one the people I would miss when leaving.
"Well, Johnny. The whole town wants to throw you a going away party." I moved to sit down and placed my patient files next to me on the table.
"Just John please. The name Johnny has bad memories for me."
"Ah. I didn't know. I apologize." I nodded. "Well anyway... what do you say to the party?"
"Does Friday work for everyone?" I said laughing. He clapped his hand on my shoulder.
The party was a huge success. I drank, I laughed, I had girls throw themselves at me. And I just laughed off their attempts. I was leaving for one thing and for another… well… there was Sherlock.
I woke up to a hang over and movers taking my things. Standing in the middle of them all was Mycroft.
"Good morning Dr. Watson." he intoned. I rubbed my eyes and forehead. He handed me a cup of coffee and muttered my thanks.
"Everything will be back at Baker St. before you arrive on the train. You'll have unpack yourself but everything else will be taken care of."
"Thanks. For everything really. Not that it even comes close to making up for the backstabbing thing. But thanks." He smiled wanly.
"I do realize that, you know." His face was calm but his voice held this little note of tension. I had struck a nerve.
I got dressed and watched as everything I owned got loaded into the moving lorry and the looks people were giving Mycroft. Once the last thing was loaded up and the lorry driver pulled away, Mycroft handed me my train ticket.
"You should be able to be back home by five this evening." I nodded my thanks as a fancy car pulled up and he got in it and drove off too. That's when people finally had the courage to ask who that was. I just laughed. I grabbed my laptop bag my phone and my keys and walked toward the train station. When I got there Dr. Coulson was waiting for me.
"Hello, Phil. Here to see me off?" He smiled at me.
"You will be missed you know." He said.
"I know but this was never how I wanted to live my life. I love London. It's sights, it's sounds, it's seedy underbelly. It's people." I thought of Greg, Mrs. Hudson. Of Mike and Bill. And of course of that crazy mad man. Sherlock Holmes. I couldn't wait to be back with them.
I handed Dr. Coulson my number and address. "Call me up if you're ever in town, we'll do drinks." He took my card and smiled.
"Will do. Good luck, John." He shook my hand warmly as the train pulled into the station.
"Good bye Phil. Good luck with your new patients." I got on the train and smiled as it pulled it away I was going home.
Arriving at Baker St. i could hear gun shots. I dash up the stairs and he is shooting at the wall again. i pull the gun away from him and shove it back into the drawer.
"Missed me then?" I asked and he smiled.
"Of course I did, John." We were so close I wondered if we were just going to pick up where we left off. But he moved back and my heart felt a little heavy. It was going to have to take some time. After all, I thought he was dead for two years. Did I still trust him? Did he still trust me?
He started getting cases again and I followed him on a couple of them. It was great to be back. I would spend a couple hours a day at my surgery and then my nights chasing criminals with Sherlock.
That was until I caught a cold from one of patients. My eyes were watery, I had a high fever and was coughing up a storm. Sherlock took one look at me and ordered me back to bed.
"But the case," I croaked.
"I'll be fine, John. Get better so I can drag you around again." I smiled but a coughing fit erupted and he frog marched me back to bed. And that's when the nightmares started back up again.
They were always the same. I was chasing Sherlock through the foggy streets, hearing gun shots ring out. I fall clutching my stomach I look up to see Sherlock come crashing to ground and he dies in my arms as I bleed out our blood mingling and I hear just before I wake up screaming that voice. "Got-cha!"
The first time I know Sherlock isn't home. I can feel the void in the house. I cried myself back to sleep. The second time I wake up screaming, I hear the violin wafting up from downstairs. I clamp my hand over my mouth trying to keep me from screaming again. The sound of the violin changed and lulled me to sleep and the night becomes dreamless in its music. The morning finds my fever broken and my body ravaged from the sickness and the dreams. I stumbled down to the kitchen to find the flat devoid of Sherlock. I made it as far as my chair before I collapse. I heard footsteps running up the stairs and I hope it's Sherlock.
"Dearie?" I heard. It's Mrs. Hudson.
"Sorry Mrs. H." I told her. "I was just trying to get a cup of coffee." I closed my eyes against the pain pounding in my head.
"Got a cold then?" I nod. She is gone and few minutes later I have soup and peppermint tea. She watches as I take in the food and drink and then carts it off. She comes back with a blanket and I drift off to sleep. This time my body is too weary for the nightmares and I slept soundly.
When I awoke, I was back in my room. My eyes were still watery and I blinked several time to clear them. Once I could see, I noticed a note on my night stand.
I found you on your chair. I figured you would get better sleep up here.
I smiled at the note before drift back to sleep and back to my nightmares. This time they changed. I was fighting off shadow men as the dragged Sherlock off into the night. I keep fighting to try to get Sherlock but the shadow men keep pushing me back. He's my friend! I scream. Or try to but nothing comes out. I see him get ripped to bits and I wake up screaming his name. I was sweating and breathing hard. I didn't want to sleep anymore.
I stand up and only wobble a little. I make my way downstairs but Sherlock isn't home yet. I cough a bit as I make tea for myself but the cough like the fever is on it's way out. The next day I feel well enough to follow Sherlock and he seemed pleased to have me back. They were still on the same case as before and I briefly wondered if Sherlock was worried about me. I pushed the thought from my head.
I thought that the fevered nightmares and torment would be gone with me back on the case but they were still there. Sometimes the two nightmares would merge and it would be like hell.
For the next few night I didn't sleep. I stayed up on my blog, or watching telly. Or reading. Anything to chase the nightmares away. But I knew I couldn't hold out much longer. I fell asleep on the couch reading a book.
It was good having someone to talk to those first few weeks back. When he called in response to my email I was overjoyed. But then he asked if there was anything else I needed. I wanted to tell him, "Yes John, I need you." But he was busy. Busy trying to get home to me. So I hung up. I didn't even really hear what he had said before that. He didn't love me anymore.
When he came home and asked if I missed him, I wanted to kiss him then. But I remembered that phone call and backed away. I regretted doing that when I first learned he had gotten sick from one of his patients. I wanted to hold him in my arms and leave off the damn case. But Lestrade wouldn't stop pestering me about it. So I told Mrs. Hudson to take him.
On the second night of his being ill, I had been playing my violin to help myself think. As all my thoughts were tangled up in John and I thought I heard a sound from upstairs. I paused briefly but upon hearing nothing, I used my music to lull him back to sleep, in case he had awoken.
The following day I came home to find him on his chair with a blanket draped over his shoulders. I lifted him up and was frightened by the weight. John was far lighter than I would I have thought. I told myself that it was just the illness but seeing the lines around his eyes and that the skin fit tightly to his frame, instead of loosely as with sudden weight loss, I knew he hadn't been eating right or sleeping well for quite sometime.
The weight was slowly coming back but the illness had taken whatever he had gained back since his return to Baker St. I laid him on his bed and made sure he well covered before I wrote my note.
Once John was better I was able to burn through the case quickly and solved it. The next few days I was starting to worry about him. I could tell he wasn't sleeping but i didn't know why. I came home from a minor case that had taken me mere minutes to solve and found the reason for John's sleepless nights.
He was on the couch, thrashing in his sleep, calling my name and screaming, "He's my friend." I rushed over to his side.
"John!" I called, starting to panic. "John I'm here!" But nothing I did could wake him. I was genuinely frightened. Hold him. Some part of my brain told me. I frowned. I didn't know where the thought had come from. Hold him. It said again. You'll have bruises but it'll be worth it. Bruises? I thought. And I moved to hold John still and his fist connected with my cheek. Right, bruises. That's going to swell up nicely. I thought and the other part of brain just smiled amused.
I held him close until the thrashing stopped and his breathing slowed. I muttered what I hoped was soothing noises as finally he fell into a restful night sleep. Worn out by the sheer will I was using not to cry I fell asleep too.
I woke up to the sunlight in my eyes and a very warm John in my arms.
"Sherlock?" I heard the plaintive cry.
"Hmmm?" I asked. Removing my arms from around his waist and I already missed the feeling. He sat up and looked at me.
"Oh my god Sherlock! What happened to your cheek?" I wanted to scream, you! You did this but the look of fear in his eyes told me that he might already know that.
"Oh I got this on the case." I lied smoothly. "Apparently, he didn't approve of me calling him a swindler, a liar, and a thief."
"Sherlock…" Oh good he believed me. And then I looked into his eyes and realized that maybe he didn't.
"About last night…"
"You were thrashing about John, it was the only way to get you stop." I was getting irritated. You don't love me anymore, I wanted to scream.
"Oh." He looked down crestfallen. Why would he…? Oh! Oh! I had misread his feelings again. He hadn't asked me if there was anything I needed to get off the phone quickly but because he cared. He was looking to kiss me that first day back. His nightmares should have been the first clue about how he felt. But I was so stupid. I grabbed his chin and pulled his face back to up. His eyes snapped back to meet mine.
"Not that I didn't mind having you back in my arms again…" I looked into those dark blue pools of light that were John's eyes. His lip trembled and I leaned forward not quite touching his mouth but close enough he could feel my breath. He leaned forward the rest of the way. After two years, three months, two weeks, four days, fifteen hours, and twenty-two minutes, I was finally kissing John again. I wrapped my arms around him and he sighed happily against my mouth.
"John," I looked down into his eyes after that wonderful kiss had ended. He looked back up at me and blushed.
"Why didn't you tell me about the nightmares the first time you had them?" He blushed a deeper shade of red.
"I didn't want you to worry. I just wanted things back to the way they were before. Before I moved in here, I nightmares about the war but the stopped my first night here. Granted I was too exhausted after that experience with the cabbie but they weren't there the next night or the night after that. They came back briefly after the incident at the pool but then they went away again. And then…"
"And then I vanished on you and made you think I had died and they came back full forced didn't they?" He nodded.
"It was good for awhile when I found out you were alive. I could follow you. Make sure you weren't going to leave me again."
"And then you got sick and I was still on a case," he nodded again. "Oh John," I said as I drew him under my chin.
"Why didn't they stop when you got better?" I asked.
"I don't know Sherlock, they've never stayed like this before." He seemed frightened.
I texted Lestrade and Mycroft both. We were not to be disturbed today, I needed the day off. Mycroft's response was knowing and said something about taking care of my doctor. Lestrade's was merely a wink emote. I sighed. It wasn't as though I was planning to have sex or anything. I just needed time alone with John. We were both exhausted and it was time to go back to bed.
I lifted him off the couch and made my way to my bedroom. He giggled and I smiled down at him.
"Oh and you keep going on about my eating and sleeping habits but neglect yourself? Not happening John." He looked at me shocked.
"Yes, sir." He said saluting. I laughed as plopped him on the bed.
"First things first, back to sleep. It is way too early and we both could use more sleep." He nodded.
"And then breakfast. Or lunch or whatever meal it is when we decide to get up, are we clear?"
He drifted off first and was soon whimpering in his sleep. I put my arms around him and muttered soothing noises and as quickly as the whimpering started it stopped and he drifted off to a dreamless sleep with a happy sigh.
"I love you John." I whispered as I too drifted off to sleep.