A/N I started this a long time ago to pass the time, and then forgot all about it. Today, it has been finished. It's darker than I intended it to be, but that's how I roll. I'm trying to get back into FF again, so this is just me practising. Enjoy. Thanks for reading. K x
John felt funny. The feeling had started around lunch time. He'd shrugged it off as hunger, but it was a peculiar feeling; like he'd forgotten to lock his front door, or switch his bedroom light off. However, as the clock neared his shift's end at the surgery, it gradually dawned on John what the feeling was: He hadn't heard from Sherlock all day.
John made his way home from work, in his usual fashion, grabbing an Evening Standard as he headed down to the Tube. He flicked through quickly. There was nothing out of the ordinary. He began to think that his feeling of growing anxiety was for nothing. It was only as he made his way out of the Underground and onto Baker Street that John stopped in his tracks and swallowed down a lump of dread that lodged in his throat. There, in front of his house, was parked a fire engine. He hurried through the stationary traffic, towards his front door. There was a fire officer, tweaking with the side of the vehicle. He cleared his throat to gain attention. The officer looked up.
"Um, hi. Is it ok for me to go in? I live here," he added as an afterthought.
"What? Oh, yeah. Go ahead. Mind the stairs, they're a bit wet."
John nodded his thanks and went in through the already-open door. From the floor above, John heard a familiar voice. At least he was still alive, John mused and he climbed the stairs carefully. The voices from the kitchen were heated, and John listened outside of the kitchen door. The smell of stale smoke stung his eyes and caught in the back of his throat. He fought not to cough.
"Really, that's enough Sir!" came an unfamiliar voice from the kitchen. "Calm down, or I shall call the police."
John stepped into the room quickly.
"That won't be necessary," he said, and three heads turned to him. He surveyed the damaged. The oven was gutted, and the wall behind it was charred as was a large part of the floor and work surface. He could hear the sound of water, dripping slowly from the open grill door. Mrs Hudson let out a little sob as she saw John, and rushed towards him. He folded his arms around her instinctively.
"What the hell happened here?" he asked.
"And you are?" replied the fire officer, who had been stood in between Mrs Hudson and the surly looking Sherlock.
"I live here," John replied bluntly. The fire officer looked relieved.
"Ah, in which case, they're all yours. I don't deal with social problems." He left the room, hurriedly. Mrs Hudson called a quiet thank you, in between her sniffs.
Silence fell between the three of them.
"Well?" John prompted again, looking at Sherlock.
"He left the bloody grill on, John," Mrs Hudson answered angrily. "And then went out, without a second thought about my home!
"I said I was sorry," Sherlock bellowed back. John noticed that his cheeks were blotched with red. "Sorry, sorry sorry! I've said it ten times. Contrary to popular belief, I don't have magical powers, I can't go back in time and undo it. I've said I'd pay for the damage, what more do you want from me?"
"I want a little bit of consideration," Mrs Hudson snapped back, and John found that he had to step in between the pair. He wasn't entirely sure who he was most concerned for. "I've put up with it, I've been as patient as I can, but no more. You need to learn, young man, that actions have consequences. No one can ever put you in your place. It's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt, and I won't stand for it Sherlock."
Sherlock looked away uncomfortably.
"Lord knows what your brother's going to say…"
"He needn't say anything. He doesn't need to know."
"I've already phoned him."
"Why?" Sherlock groaned. "Why the hell would you do that? What's wrong with you?"
Mrs Hudson began to cry again.
"Enough!" John shouted, and the pair fell silent. Mrs Hudson risked a sniff. "Sherlock, go into the living room and calm down."
"I don't need to calm down," he replied.
"Just do it," John warned.
"I knew you would take her side!"
"It's not about sides," John replied, blinking back a headache which had begun to creep in. He wished he was back at work. The air was so stuffy. He blinked again. It was taken as a sign of impatience.
Sherlock huffed out of the room, and grabbed his coat from the banister.
"Where are you going?"
"Out. I'm leaving. I'm not going to stay and be treated like some sort of child."
"Then stop acting like one," Mrs Hudson said crossly. John was pleased he didn't have to say it. Sherlock scowled at them both.
"Don't expect me back." He stomped out nosily down the stairs and slammed the front door.
Mrs Hudson began to cry again. John stood there and briefly wondered how he could cook his dinner with a destroyed kitchen. He supposed it would be take-away again.
"John," Mrs Hudson exclaimed, bringing him out of his reverie. "Go after him, for pity's sake!"
John sighed. Dinner would have to wait.
John found Sherlock on his regular bench in Regent's Park. He looked the other way upon John's arrival, and rubbed his hands together in his lap. The sun had set a while back, and the December air was cold around them. Sherlock's breath rose as he huffed.
"Can I sit down?"
"It's a physical possibility," Sherlock replied bluntly. John grinned. It wasn't returned.
"Budge up." He sat down heavily next to Sherlock and sighed.
"You're cross with me too."
"Hmm? No, not cross. I'm tired and hungry. I could have done without this tonight, if I'm honest."
"I didn't do this deliberately," Sherlock replied sharply. "It was an accident. So, I left the grill on one time…" John gave him a look. "Ok, twice! Two times, I've left the grill on. I shall never do it again."
Sherlock shivered and looked away again. John pulled out his gloves from his coat pocket, and placed them on Sherlock's lap. He looked down at them for a brief moment before pulling them on.
"What's going on, Sherlock?"
"Nothing," he replied too quickly. "I'm fine. Apart from setting my kitchen alight. But, like I said, accident."
They fell silent for a while. Sherlock sniffed, and kept his eyes on the path through the park. He gave a rub at his eyes.
"Do your eyes hurt?" John asked. Sherlock nodded. "It's probably the smoke."
Sherlock shrugged, disinterested.
They sat for what felt like an age. John's feet felt cold inside his boots, and he shuffled uncomfortably on the damp bench. He wondered how he could convince Sherlock that he was calm enough to return home. Sherlock looked down at as his lap as a couple walked slowly by on the path.
John cleared his throat.
"Right, well, I don't know about you but I'm bloody freezing. Do you fancy stopping being so stupid, and coming home, because if I go back without you, then Mrs Hudson –"
"I could have killed her," Sherlock said suddenly, to his knees. John paused and blinked.
"Martha…Mrs Hudson…I could have killed her, John." He cleared his throat and looked up at the cloudy winter sky. John hoped that, if he remained quiet, Sherlock might continue. "I was cross with her because she was cross with me, and she didn't realise that actually I was just extremely pleased to see her alive. I couldn't care less about the kitchen. It was ugly anyway. But she just didn't get it, John. I couldn't buy another Mrs Hudson."
"No, no you couldn't. That's very true."
"God, John, I hate feeling so stupid. I've been so very stupid. I just can't stop thinking about what could have happened."
"But it didn't happen," John pointed out.
"Yes, but…You see, this is exactly why I was cross with her. I just want to feel sorry for myself!"
"Hmm." John wished Sherlock would feel sorry for himself in the comfort of their warm home. Or better yet, be mature enough not to feel sorry for himself in the first place. He made a discreet glance down at his watch. His stomach rumbled quietly and he folded his arms heavily across his middle in an attempt to mute the noise.
"Right. Are we suitably sorry for ourselves? Good." He went to rise from the bench but was stopped in his tracks.
"My grandmother died in a house fire."
John's jaw dropped open and then clacked shut quickly. The words had been spoken so matter-of-factly, he had to stop and consider what he'd actually heard.
"Jesus, Sherlock –"
"She was living with us at the time – well, I say with us, Mycroft and I were away at school. The fire ripped through half of the house, taking everything in its way. Pretty selfish really, fire… and hard to control; but then I suppose my parents were used to that.
"We were told the old woman had fallen asleep, fag in hand. How very sad, but she was old and stupid, so I believed what I had been told. It's only when I was older - at university - rooting through things that my brother had told me to keep out of, that I discovered it hadn't been a cigarette at all. It had been a magnifying glass, propped up beside a pile of paper on a sunny day. My magnifying glass. My paper."
"Jesus," John said again, running a cold hand over his face. "That's terrible Sherlock."
"Yes," he agreed. "My mother never treated me the same after that day, could barely look at me. At least I finally discovered why. It was a shame really, my grandmother was the only family member who ever really spoke to me. But I suppose these things happen."
He shrugged, signalling the end of his tale as if it was a disappointing finale to a soap-opera storyline. John sat in stunned silence. It was hard to comprehend the fact that the words had been Sherlock's; that the story had been his.
"So, I guess my actions today may imply that I'm rather blasé about this sort of thing. I'm not. You know how my mind works, John. I was thinking of more important things. But nothing is more important than not killing Mrs Hudson, and I misjudged it. I won't do it again."
He gave a firm nod. John offered him a sad smile.
"I'm sorry about your grandmother, Sherlock."
Sherlock let out a long breath and then forced a smile in return.
"Don't be. It was a long time ago. Sorry can't put things right."
"Maybe that's how Mrs Hudson felt today," John said quietly. Sherlock stared at him.
"Yes, alright! Bloody know-it-all."
John laughed loudly. A startled passer-by turned to stare, reminding John of how cold and how late it was getting.
"Right, let's go home. I'm too old to be sat out in the cold." He rose from the bench and Sherlock followed.
The heat hit them as they entered from the street. The house smelled of damp and ash. John climbed the stairs, and Sherlock followed reluctantly behind him. There was obvious relief on his face when they found the flat empty.
"Right, I'm going to look for a menu," John said, pulling at his boots. "Pass me your phone."
Sherlock pulled it from his pocket, and noticed the numerous missed calls from his brother. He deleted them quickly before passing the phone to John. As John ended the call, the pair heard footsteps on the stairs. Sherlock visibly bristled as the door opened. Mrs Hudson stepped into the room quietly. Sherlock shuffled towards her, and then embraced her with enough energy to make her stumble slightly. She clung on tightly to his coat, and gave a sad, audible sigh.
"Oh you silly, silly boy," she said into his shoulder.
"I know," he mumbled, and gave her a kiss on the top of the head. They broke apart.
"I'm sorry," they said in unison and then laughed.
"Enough now," Mrs Hudson said firmly. "Let's say no more about it. Right, I'll put the kettle on. John, you look like you're about to drop."
"Oh, it melted," Sherlock said suddenly and Mrs Hudson smiled.
"Not to worry dear, I'll put it on downstairs. In fact, I think I have might have a spare." She bustled out of the room. Sherlock watched her go.
"She's fine, Sherlock," John said quietly. Sherlock nodded.
John sat in his armchair and groan in satisfaction. He was finally settled.
"John?" Sherlock said from the door way.
"Yes?" he replied tentatively, waiting for the moment he'd be asked to get up from his so-very-comfortably chair.
John smiled and closed his eyes.
"You're welcome. Now, if you could not speak or set anything alight for the next half an hour, I'm going to have a little nap before the food arrives."
Sherlock smiled to himself and sat in his own chair.
"Well...I can't promise you anything."