I looked over the letter I got the mail a dozen times tying to understand what it all meant. I was glad that my annoying flatmate wasn't around to hear the strangled cry that emitted from my mouth when I read it the first time. That night I approached him.
"Sherlock…" I ventured.
"Hmm?" He murmured not looking up from his laptop. I moved to stand over him.
"What John? I'm busy." I sighed. I took his face in my hands and turned it toward me.
"This is important Sherlock. And I need you to actually listen to me. This is too important for you to forget I'm leaving."
"You've leaving?" His face contorted painfully.
"Only for three weeks. But this can't be like the time I went to New Zealand or Dublin. You have to understand I'll be gone." His face darkened.
"What's going on, John?" I thought I noted a hint of worry in his voice.
"I've gotten a letter from the army. They are calling me back up for a three week seminar. In Afghanistan." He looked absolutely shell shocked.
"No…" his voice had gone hoarse. "You can't."
"I don't have a choice. It's this or thrown into a military prison." I laughed hollowly as I tried to make light of it.
"Mycroft…" Sherlock suggested. I shook my head.
"I'm sorry Sherlock. I don't think that even he could get me out of this."
Sherlock looked as if he'd been punched. It was a face I was familiar with, having punched him before.
"When do you leave?"
"End of the week."
"That soon?" he asked, his eyes glistened.
"I'm sorry Sherlock."
The next few days Sherlock was mournful. I think he took it harder than I did. Sometimes I would catch him looking at me as if he wanted to say something but then he'd mumble something under his breath and wander off. I wanted to ask him what was wrong. But I was a little afraid of the answer. He went with me to the airport. We stood in line for me to get checked in and he smiled at me but it didn't reach his eyes.
"There's one good thing that's come out of this." His voice hadn't raised above a low rumble since he got the news I would be leaving.
"What's that?" I was looking forward to any silver lining to this ordeal.
He waved his hand my direction. "I get to see you in your uniform."
I looked down at my military duds and looked back up to him, eyes brimming with tears.
"I'll miss you." I told him. Wait… did I actually say that? I did. Well, fire exposes our priorities and there's no fire quite like the sound of gunfire.
"And I'd be lost without my blogger." I stretched out my hand. He smiled and he took it and pumped it once, hard enough for me to stumble forward. His eyes were lit with an incandescent light.
"Three weeks." I told him as I fought the urge to embrace him. He nodded and watched as I passed through security. I looked back once and I thought that I saw him raise a hand to his cheek. Sherlock, crying? I wasn't sure if i had imagined it. I shook my head and walked through security. As I reached the gate, I felt a single tear slide down my cheek.
"You're girlfriend see you off?" The Security agent asked.
"No. Just my flatmate." I told him as I wiped the tear away.
"You're going to miss your flatmate?" He sounded incredulous.
"He's a special flatmate." I smiled sadly.
"You got feelings for him?" I looked up at him sharply. "Not that there's anything wrong with that."
"I know there's not." I felt the flush to my cheeks.
"Right. Have a nice flight."
I wandered off to find my terminal. From my pocket, my phone chirped happily. I thought briefly of changing it as I glanced at the message.
Come home to me John- SH
I smiled as tears flowed down my cheeks.
As soon as I can Sherlock- JW I texted him back.
I knew it was going to be a long three weeks.
I came home and I could tell that John was upset about something but I assumed it was Harry. It was the only thing lately that would produce such a response. But when he uttered my name I knew there was something worse going on.
He took my face in his hands. My eyes filled with tears upon hearing his news. Afghanistan? Why?
After he had gone to bed I searched for the letter. Upon finding it I looked it over and sunk into his chair in despair. He was right. There was nothing I or Mycroft could do short of kidnapping him and then he'd be a fugitive and unable to go with me on cases. So for the sake of the long term, I must give him up for three weeks. I knew the cold hard fear that fell upon my chest.
He might not ever come home.
All the way to the airport I wanted to tell him how I felt. To tell him how much I want hold him in my arms and never let go. But like I had all week, I couldn't do it. I was too afraid. I watched him the whole taxi ride to Gatwick. He stared out the window the whole time barely uttering two words together. I don't think he wasn't frightened. But I was.
He was John. He was never afraid. I wasn't afraid before I met him. And now I fear all the time. I have these emotions that I didn't have before. Though, I suppose I did have them at one point. I thought they had had be buried deep. But he brought them out with the most tender of care. A smile. A look. A word. And my world crumbled.
He looked fantastic in his army uniform. His lines seemed slimmer. His blond hair cut into a buzz cut once again. He'd let it grow out when it was clear the army didn't want a former surgeon who's hand shook. But now he was famous. He had proven his worth beyond a shadow of a doubt. Now they wanted him back. And they could take him and I would never see him again.
Just as it was about time for him to get on the airplane I texted him. I hoped it was enough. Until he got home.
About a week later I called out to John on crime scene accidentally and Lestrade pulled me aside.
"What was that about Sherlock?" he asked me.
I looked around and then pulled him close to me and whispered menacingly, "If you tell John I swear to whatever god you subscribe to that you will be the next body Scotland Yard investigates."
Lestrade nodded I could tell he knew I was serious. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink. You look like you could use one."
A few minutes later we were at the pub around the corner nursing our drinks.
"So out with it. I know John told you he was leaving. He told me to keep an eye on you."
I looked down at the floor trying to deduce something from the stains rather than think about it. "It's just easier." I finally muttered, my voice low and pained.
"What is?" Lestrade was being his usually dense self. Maybe he wasn't good with emotions either.
"It's easier…" I had to force it out, "It's easier to pretend he's gone than," I swallowed hard and took a drink, "than to live with the heartache he's not there."
"Oh, god. Sherlock… you have to tell him." I shook my head. "Why not? He worships you. He would love to hear that you value you him that much."
"I can't." I whispered.
"Why not? Wait. Hold on. Are you in love with him?"
I looked up then. "I don't know."
"Describe what you are feeling." He prodded me.
"It feels as though all the happiness in the world is bubbling up out of my throat, and my insides are on fire; my heart is a hammer, and it feels as though I can do anything- anything in the world!" My ability to articulate had failed me. I felt like some beast.
"Sherlock…" I looked him in the eyes, his dark brown orbs filled with pity, "you just described being in love."
"Then yes." I breathed, my heart racing at the merest thought of John. "I am in love."
"Damn. He's like the straightest guy I've ever met."
"You think I don't know that?" I hissed, bile rose from the bottom of my stomach. I could taste the bitterness, it was so palatable. "I know that we can never be. But I can't help it. I don't understand how I lived without him in my life."
"To be honest I can't picture you without him. And I knew you five years before he came along. It just seems so natural to see him by your side."
I nodded. Yes. John is a part of me now, I thought to myself. Even others could see it. So why couldn't John? Perhaps he did. Perhaps that is why he took my face in his hands. If I closed my eyes I could still feel the warm touch of his hands on my skin. His breath warming my lips. I shuddered.
"Is that so wrong?" Lestrade asked, misinterpreting my shudder.
"I don't know, Lestrade. I've never felt this way before. The only reason I know it's love, is the simple chemistry of it all. But I never thought that I would experience it first hand."
"You've never been in love before?" Lestrade was astonished.
"Does that really surprise you?" I asked as I leaned my head on my finger, my elbow resting on the bar.
He stopped to think. "I suppose it shouldn't. And one-sided love is the hardest to get over."
I closed my eyes. "That's not exactly helpful, Lestrade."
"Drink up." He said before he downed his mug. I finished my drink and took off toward Baker St.
Time passed slowly and quickly at the same time. I was waiting for John at the airport when this annoying woman came up and started flirting with me. Nothing I said seemed to dislodge her.
My time away from England was uneventful. Not even worth blogging about. I saw Sherlock and this beautiful red-head talking and my heart sank to the floor. I didn't even understand why.
"John!" Sherlock called as he spotted me. He seemed happy to see me.
"Sherlock…" I asked suspiciously.
"What? I'm just happy to see you." He got close to me. "This is how much I missed you." And then he planted his lips on mine. The next thing I knew was that my arms were wrapped around his thin waist pulling him in closer.
When we finally pulled apart the girl stormed off. I waved vaguely her direction. "Please tell that that kiss wasn't about scaring off the annoying lady." I begged as closed my eyes against the possibility.
"Well… it wasn't just about scaring off the annoying lady." I looked up sharply. He grabbed my face and pulled me in for another kiss. "It was also about letting you know that I can't live without you," he said breathless once he ended the kiss.
"I- I," I couldn't think anymore. I didn't want to. I pulled Sherlock in for another kiss. We held each other for what seemed like an eternity. "We should go home." I breathed huskily.
"Yes. We have lots to talk about." He informed me. I didn't want to talk, I wanted nothing more than to feel his lips against mine. But I nodded. After all I had all the time in the world with this man.
When we got home he locked the door behind us and then turned off his mobile. I raised one eyebrow. But he just smiled. I put my arms around him.
"You would really like me to forget the bit about scaring off the annoying lady wouldn't you? Don't think I've forgotten." He laughed.
"It would make this go much smoother if you did." I raised my eyebrows and cocked my head to the side. He did have a point however.
"How long?" I breathed into his chest. He put his arms around me and kissed the top of my head.
"Far too long, John. Far too long." I could feel the rumbling of his voice in his chest. His heart was beating fast.
"I think- I think I've always loved you Sherlock. I just fought for so long."
"You're not fighting it now. What changed?" His voice trembled.
"Being forced from you. This trip. All I could think about the whole time was making sure I got back to you."
He chuckled. "Maybe it should have happened soon."
I shook my head. "I wasn't ready before now. I needed time." He pressed his lips to my hair.
I wanted to say more but I could hear Lestrade's voice calling from the stairwell. It stopped when he saw our silhouettes. Suddenly our phones chirped from our pockets. I frowned and pulled out my phone and nodded to John to do the same. There on both of our phones was the message:
Congrats you two. About bloody time. Good luck- GL
John frowned at his phone and then looked up at me. "Did you tell him about us?"
"He helped me figure out my feelings for you. I'm not very good at understanding them."
"Right so… how did this come about?"
I sighed. Lestrade wanted me to tell him. I just hoped it didn't destroy what we had just built. "I made a mistake." I closed my eyes painfully. "One that even he wouldn't miss."
John raised his eyebrow questioningly.
"I called out your name at a crime scene." He stepped away from me a bit.
"You forgot I wasn't there…?" The pain in his voice was evident.
"No! God no." I turned and looked away ashamed. I knew this was a bad idea. He pulled my face back to him.
I sighed. There wasn't much more I could do to hurt him. "I-I rely on you so much, John. You are such a part of my life that saying your name is as easy as breathing."
"Wait…" I could see him paste together all the other times he'd been gone. "Are you telling me that all those times you were talking to me when I wasn't there was because you missed me?"
Again I hung my head. I felt both his hands grasp my face and he pulled me in for another kiss.
"So when you said a long time, you really meant it. But you told me at Angelo's that you were married to your work, so it was after that?"
I nodded. "Since that night with the cabbie and you saved my life. I still remember standing there describing the shooter to Lestrade and seeing you standing there, acting for all the world like you had done the right thing. You looked so proud. Proud, that you saved my life. That you had done a good deed. My heart formed a lump in throat. I knew I wanted to keep for forever."
"Is that why you kept scaring off the girlfriends?"
I just smiled warmly at John. Of course that's why I had chased them away. I could keep them straight, straighter than he could. I just chose not to.
"I loved you from that those first words 'Afghanistan or Iraq?' But it grew slowly in stages. Every moment bringing me closer to the brink. 'Welcome to London', the fake drugs bust, giggling at the crime scene. Hell, I even spent more time looking at you then I did Sarah at the Chinese circus. Every little god damned look, stoking the flames."
"But you kept denying we were a couple…" I burst in.
"I kept fighting it Sherlock because I was attracted to women. Guys didn't turn me on at all. They still don't and the more people said we were a couple the harder I chaffed against the notion." He looked down, trying hard to find the right words. "But I kept looking at you with interest. But it couldn't be attraction. It just couldn't. But of course it was. You and those cheekbones." He kissed my cheeks. "Those wildly curly dark locks." He ran his fingers through my hair. "Those broad shoulders." His hands trailed down my face and across my shoulders. "That graceful body underneath tight shirts." I shivered as his hands ran down my sides.
"I wore the tight shirts for you. Hoping you would notice me."
He looked up and pressed his lips to mine. "Oh I noticed. Believe me I noticed." I purred happily.
"Come to bed John," I told him as I led him into the bedroom and closed the door.
The next morning I woke with the tall, dark-haired detective curled up in my arms. It felt so good. I didn't know how I could have been happy before. I must have merely been content to be Sherlock's only friend, because this- this was better.
I snuggled my nose into his neck and he murmured happily.
"Morning, Sherlock," I whispered into his ear pausing briefly to nibble on it.
He turned around and snuggled into my chest. My phone chirped angrily from the pocket of my discarded trousers on the floor, signaling a phone call.
"Leave it." He purred. I sighed and kissed his forehead before I made a dive at the phone, barely managing to catch it before it went to voice mail.
"Hello," I muttered blearily into the device.
"Hey John, it's Lestrade. I tried Sherlock first but it went straight to voice mail."
"He must have forgotten to charge it last night after we got in last night."
"So how was your trip?"
"It was fine. I know you didn't just call me to ask about my trip. What's up?" I asked as Sherlock began to tickle my sides. I kicked at him gently trying shake him off.
"Can you and Sherlock come and take a look at my case? It's driving me mad and the bosses are breathing down my back." Sherlock stopped his administrations and cocked his head to the side.
"Tell him we'll be there in an hour."
"Sherlock is with you?" Lestrade sputtered.
"Yes, and we both need showers and breakfast." I told him before hanging up.
I turned to Sherlock, "Now people will do more than talk."
Sherlock frowned. "Does that bother you?" I shook my head.
"Nope." I leaned over and pressed my lips to his. "Not in the slightest." After a moment hesitation, I added, "Love." He looked at me sharply at that word.
"You don't like the pet name?" I asked worried.
"No. Quite the opposite." He purred in my ear. "I was tasting it out the feel of it in my mouth."
I kissed him deeply. "I like the taste of your mouth." Sherlock purred happily against my lips.
I pulled out of his grasp, "Come on Sherlock, you shower while I make breakfast. And then while you eat I get one."
"But I don't eat on cases John." He told me with pouty lips.
"You aren't on a case yet and I'll make it light, so as not to disturb that beautiful brain of yours." Sherlock smiled at me.
"As you wish." I smiled back and pushed him toward the direction of the shower. Once I was sure he was going to take one, I wandered into the kitchen and began looking for something to feed the great detective. Not finding anything suitable I went downstairs to Mrs. Hudson's.
"Hey Mrs. Hudson," I called out.
"Ah hey, I favor to ask. Do you have any fruit I can borrow? Sherlock's being picky again and he hasn't bought groceries the whole time I've been gone."
She smiled at me and prepared breakfast for both of us, mine hearty, Sherlock's light. I took the tray back up to ours and was setting it on the table when he came out his bedroom. I wasn't sure if he had taken extra effort this morning or if he just looked better to me because he was mine.
"I didn't know we had anything in the flat." I smiled up at him.
"We didn't. But thankfully Mrs. Hudson was willing to share."
"What's this?" He asked waving his hand over his bowl.
"Fruit and cream. It's nice and light but good for energy."
He took a small bite and then nodded appreciatively. He ate it all as I ate mine. After we were finished, I turned to him, "You think I got time for a shower?'"
He looked at his watch. "If you make it quick." I nodded and dashed to get one. And I did put extra effort into my dress. I put on after shave and my black v-neck jumper over my favorite blue shirt.
"John?" Sherlock called. "We need to leave, the taxi's here." I came downstairs to grab my coat.
He pulled me close and breathed in. "You look wonderful today." I glowed under his praise.
"Taxi?" I muttered mournfully. He let me go and led the way to the taxi.
In the cab ride over I had a hard time keeping my hands off John. Every glance, every touch, every smile would send me to the edge. I couldn't believe that two short weeks ago I believed my love for him to be a lost cause. That he would never love me the way I loved him. But he held my hand the trip and my heart felt like it could fly.
We reached the crime scene and saw that all of Lestrade's team was there, Anderson and Donovan included. I sighed but didn't let go of John's hand. He gave my hand a quick squeeze before we walked under the police tape and on to the crime scene.
Lestrade came over to us and whispered his congratulations again and gave my shoulder a quick squeeze. He seemed to be blocking Donovan and Anderson's view of our hands as he led us to the body.
There in the middle of the grove was the body of a twenty-five year old woman. I let go to examine the body. John smiled at me as he too bent to examine the woman.
He looked up at Lestrade. "This is Gail Kelly isn't it? That's why your bosses were breathing down your neck?"
I looked back and forth between the two men as they reached an understanding I didn't.
"She's an up and coming actress." John informed me. "She recently rocketed to fame on this new TV series about a famous fictional detective." I nodded. Should have known it would have been something like that.
"Boring." And John laughed. I missed that sound. I almost kissed him right then and there.
"Well let's see what we have here shall we?" John directed me back to the body. I did my usual scan and then turned John.
"What do you think, John?"
"She has several lacerations but I'd say that this one was the killing stroke." He pointed at the slash on her neck.
"And what makes say that?" I pressed him.
He pointed to a couple of the other wounds. "These are too swallow." He pointed to a couple others. "These are clearly post mortum. You can see that there is no blood. But this one you can see the amount of blood that gushed out. Nicked the carotid most likely."
"Brilliant!" I glowed up at him. I could see John positively beam from my praise and the warmth I felt at his smile made my heart flutter wildly in my chest.
"Nice of you to confirm CoD John," Lestrade informed us. "That's what our coroner said." I frowned, what he had said made what John did seem insignificant and second best. No one had the right to do that but before I could announce my righteous indignation, Lestrade got tired of waiting.
I rolled my eyes. "Clearly a rage killing. The way he kept slicing her even as she bled out confirms that."
"Him? what makes you say that?" Lestrade asked.
I pointed to the foot prints. "The feet are too large to be a woman, that plus the weight applied to make the indentations, clearly says male. He would be about 6'1, approximately 250 lb.."
"That's very specific. Why?"
"His gate that footprints take indicate leg length and how deep the prints are indicate weight."
"I assume there was a fight judging from the scuff marks all over the place. She struggled and put up a fight. Since it was knife they would have to have gotten up close, so she knew her attacker. Also there are blond hairs on the body which can't be from our girl considering she's a red-head. Short blond hairs."
"Sherlock?" John tentatively asked.
"Hmmm…?" He held up his phone and showed me a picture of a man that fit the description to a tee.
"Who's that?" I asked, squinting near the screen.
"Her boyfriend, Hester Northwood."
"Brilliant John!" I kissed him, quick and hard on the lips. "You just solved the case." I turned to Lestrade. "Go arrest the boyfriend. He'll have scratches on his forearm."
I looked around but they were staring at me blankly. "Well what are you waiting for?" I asked. I felt a poke in my side. I looked down to see John.
"They're in shock."
"Why because you solved the case?" I couldn't believe they would think John was that stupid. But then they were, so it shouldn't have come as surprise. No one seemed to know the value John had. Well no one but me. "I gave you all you needed and you came up with the suspect based on your knowledge of pop culture. It's not that big of a leap."
"It's not that Sherlock." I looked down at him confused. "You kissed me." I had? Oh. I bent down and did it again.
"You mean like that?" My words come out breathy.
He chuckled. "Yeah." He reached up and kissed me.
"Out! Now!" Lestrade barked and they scurried off to obey.
"Well that's one way to come out, I suppose," he said as he turned to us. I broke off from John's lips reluctantly.
"I hadn't meant to. I was just reacting to the high of the case." I muttered, looking at John side long.
John pulled me closer into his arms. "I didn't mind it all."
"You two really are perfect for each other. Now run along, I can take care of the rest."
"Perfect for each other?" I inquired of John as we tried run down a taxi.
"Yep. Where I'm smart, you're an idiot."
"Symbiosis personified." I said, smiling down at him. "Let's go home.