After Sherlock's return, and the explanations, and the yelling, and the laughing that turned into crying, and the anger, and the understanding, and the forgiveness, and the things still left unsaid, and the return to a sort of a routine for Sherlock and John…something still wasn't quite right.

A part of John still felt a bit bruised. Sometimes it made his left shoulder ache. Sometimes closer to his chest. On the left side. But John wanted his old life back, so he pushed those feelings down, buried them in the sand, planted a lovely little cactus plant on top, and got on with things. And it was fun again. Exciting again. Everything was really really good.

There was no special reason that he'd been touching Sherlock a little more often that was strictly necessary. Nothing weird. Arms, shoulders, sometimes a hand on the back. Top of the back. He probably hadn't noticed, right? Friendly. Normal. Fine.

=== CHAPTER ONE: Just A Touch ===

John stumbled groggily into the kitchen and filled the kettle. Sherlock was at the table in his pyjama bottoms and robe, his black curls still tousled by sleep, peering at some kind of greyish goo in a set of several plastic containers.

"Experiment?" John asked, his fingers brushing the blue silk clothing Sherlock's upper arm.

"Mm," replied Sherlock, jotting down some notes in a little black notebook on the table. John translated the response to "Obviously."

"Anything on for today, case-wise?"

"Unfortunately, no, not really." Sherlock sighed, finally glancing up at John. "Although Lestrade wants me to come in and go over the Fleming case details. Shouldn't take too long."

John nodded and started preparing tea for himself and Sherlock, and a couple slices of toast. "The look on Fleming's face when he found out it was his wife in that jester costume was worth the night in the wardrobe, wasn't it?" He nudged Sherlock and chuckled.

Sherlock smirked and nodded. "So what's the title of this one for the blog?"

"Erm… 'A Fool for Love?'"

Sherlock rolled his eyes and sighed. "How droll." John grinned, stirred cream and sugar into Sherlock's tea and passed him the mug.

Their fingers rubbed together momentarily in passing and Sherlock's eyes flickered up to John's. "Thank you," he murmured.

"We're almost out of milk again," John noted. Sherlock stood up and watched him as he busied himself tidying the kitchen for a few minutes. John took a sip of tea and then spread a liberal amount of strawberry jam on his two slices of toast. "And jam. I'll go to Tesco's later." He moved past Sherlock to drop the empty jam jar in the sink for rinsing, touching a hand to Sherlock's shoulder as he passed. Sherlock's eyes lingered for a moment where it had touched. "You want a slice?" John asked.

"All right."

Feeling pleased at Sherlock's rare acceptance of a food offering, John dropped one of the toast slices onto a small plate for Sherlock and handed it to him. Again their fingers slid briefly together as John transferred the plate.


"Hm?" John grunted in reply, taking a bite of toast.

Sherlock was frowning down at his plate. "I notice that you're touching me. A lot."

John stopped chewing and stared. Idiot. Of course he noticed. He's Sherlock. Idiot. John swallowed what suddenly felt like a wad of hay and staples. He shrugged. Casual. Just act natural. "What, just now?" Because he was casual. Naturally.

"No." Sherlock put his plate down on the table and leaned against the counter, folding his arms, looking actually casual. "Not just this morning. For a while now. Since…."

John dropped his plate on the counter with a clatter. "So? So what if I am? I didn't notice. It's not… it's nothing. Is it a problem? It shouldn't be a problem. It's not on purpose. It doesn't…? Does it bother you? You're just there, in my way. It's not…." He shut his mouth abruptly and looked at the ceiling. Idiot. Bloody idiot.

"I didn't say there was a problem," Sherlock said slowly, his voice low and calm. "I just wondered why."

John took a deep breath. "I'm just…checking, that's all."

"Checking what?"

"That you're still there." John looked down from the ceiling to Sherlock, who was frowning slightly at him, a line of confusion crinkling between his eyes. They looked very blue this morning, sky on a clear day.

"Where would I—" Sherlock cut himself off and scowled. "But you can see that I am." He waved a hand up and down his long frame.

John's shoulder pulsed once (or was it his chest?) and he took another long deep breath, and then another, before he quietly replied. "It's not enough."

Sherlock blinked. They stared at each other in silence for what seemed like an eternity until Sherlock's lips pressed together tightly and he looked down at the floor. John turned his back, picked up his mug and plate, and walked back to his room. He didn't touch Sherlock as he passed him.

John stayed in the shower longer than he needed, just staring at the water. Once he was clean and dressed he headed down the stairs, expecting to find that Sherlock would have left for Scotland Yard already. Instead he found him waiting in his chair, sleek as ever in his dark suit, tapping his fingers impatiently on his knees.

"Ready?" Sherlock quirked an eyebrow at John.

"Ready?" he repeated blankly. "Oh… I didn't think you'd need me. You said you were just going to review the Fleming case?"

"That's right. A review wouldn't hurt for your blog, would it? Get the details right this time?" Sherlock jumped up and grabbed John by the shoulders. John's eyebrows rose slightly. An awkward moment ticked past. "Yes? Let's go, then."

John let himself be spun around and herded down the stairs and out into the clear day.