"C'mon Sherlock," John cajoled, waving a cup of tea in front of his flatmate like a peace offering, "What's wrong? You didn't get all of the members of the Black Lotus ring, but you got some of them, and you even figured out who had the pin." Appealing to Sherlock's ego was usually the best way to coax the consulting detective out of his moods, but now the slim man paid him no mind.

Sherlock stood by the window, violin tucked awkwardly under his chin. This was John's second attempt to get him to break his brooding silence, but the younger man had no inclination to. John may not be a consulting detective, but he was bright enough to figure it out if he'd just think.

"You know what," John said, setting the tea cup down on the mantle with more force than necessary, "Brood all you like. You should be smart enough to know that there was nothing else you could have done, and if you can't then I severely overestimated your intelligence."

At that Sherlock broke his silence, gently setting down his precious violin before whirling to face the older man, the light from the fire and lamps providing more than enough light to throw the marks on his neck into sharp relief. The vivid red marks that were proof of the night's struggle warred for space with the faded bruising from his previous near strangulation. Before John could do more than gape, Sherlock had pounced.

"And if you believe for one second that I am only in this mood because of a case," Sherlock hissed, towing over the doctor easily, "Then you are as moronic as the rest of the imbiciles I am surrounded by." With that, Sherlock strode away to the room he had little use for most times; his bedroom.

John stood gaping after him for a moment before he pulled himself together. He still didn't understand why Sherlock's feathers were so ruffled, but he did realize that he had missed a few things. General Shan's words from the tunnel came back to haunt him, detailing one extra near-death encounter with her forces, one struggle that he knew nothing of. The suspicious silence in Soo Lin's flat, coupled with Sherlock's wheezing as he left, told him all he needed to realize what had happened when Sherlock hadn't answered him. He hadn't answered because he wasn't able to.

He moved to Sherlock's door, testing the knob to find the door locked. He knocked, hearing no reply from the room's occupant. He curse himself and his bipolar flatmate, spreading the blame between them.

"Sherlock, let me in. Getting strangled twice in as many days can't be good for you. You should go to the A&E, get checked out."

Silence reigned for several minutes, before he heard Sherlock's almost inaudible reply. "While your concern is touching doctor, you are not my doctor so my health is of no concern to you. Rest assured that I will not expire during the night and will be perfectly able to solve the next case that the Yard is baffled by, simple though it probably will be to solve."

John's face fell, hurt more than he thought he would be by the other's assumption. "Sherlock, don't be an idiot. You're my friend…" He got no further as the door was suddenly flung open, revealing a very angry Sherlock Holmes.

"Colleague," he rasped, his blue eyes as cold as ice. "You are my colleague, and as such my health and well-being are none of your concern. As long as I am able to make rent and solve cases, nothing else matters."

Everything finally clicked at that. Sherlock's introduction to his old schoolmate, a man who acted more like a former tormentor. His own correction of Sherlock's introduction, inviting Sebastian's insults. The detective counted none among his friends, or so John thought. He had first been introduced as a colleague, with Donovan having the title of friend. He knew Sherlock didn't mean it, but he was loathe to be compared to that vile harpy. He thought the friend was mocking, not serious.

"Sherlock, I…" he began, unable to find the words to explain. I'm sorry I insulted you, accidentally. I'm sorry I embarrassed you. I actually consider you my friend. Sherlock didn't give him the chance to say anything however, brushing past John to where his coat and scarf lay.

John realized that if the other man left the flat now, without hearing John's explanation, then everything would go back to square one. Sherlock had told him next to nothing when they first met, and gradually he began to reveal more of his thoughts to John as time passed, trusting and respecting him more and more. If Sherlock left now, then it would go back to John being Sherlock's sidekick, his colleague in truth, and with no hope to be his friend or gaining his trust and respect.

Grabbing Sherlock's arm as he reached for his coat clearly shocked the younger man. Surprise was in the light blue eyes as they focused on him, trying to deduce his motives.

"I'm sorry," he said, seeing Sherlock's eyes widen in shock, "I just didn't want that prat to have anything else to mock you about. He didn't seem to like you much, and I didn't want to add to that."

Sherlock looked at John, searching his face to see if he meant what he said. In the older man's face was nothing but the honest apology he had just delivered, sincerity etched in every line of his face. Sherlock cleared his throat, he never was good with sentiment and barely understood why he was so angered at John's previous slight. He simply nodded, and his eyes said the words he wasn't able to say.

"Now," said John, leading his slightly more cheerful flat mate over to the sofa, "Let me take a look at those marks."

Sherlock smirked. "Yes Doctor."

A/N: I'm working on updating all of my other stories, but I couldn't get this out of my head. Let me know what you think, and happy holidays. :)