Warnings Slash because that's what I write, though nothing explicit this chapter. Possible swearing, and some silly gross stuff (i,e. description of someone's experiment)

Disclaimer I don't own nothin' Sherlock.

Chapter 1

I have a case that requires me to travel to Paris for a week. Your assistance is not required, so you may rest and enjoy your leisure. SH

John re-read the note that he found stuck to his laptop. A note, a bloody note stating that his assistance was not required.

It's the beginning of the end. I might as well start looking for a new flat, pack my bags…I've overstayed my welcome. John felt like he'd been punched in the gut.

He had just returned from another exciting day at the clinic to find the flat empty and his so-called partner, gone-just like before.

John put his jacket back on and went to the pub. Three drinks later, he realized that the pub was in fact dull; it was boring just like Sherlock always said it was. He went back to the flat and sat in the dark sitting room. The flat was too quiet. He missed the sounds of tantrums and breaking glass and someone to watch crap telly with and violin music, especially violin music. He turned some music on fairly low and spent the night in his chair trying to think of what he might have done to antagonize the great Sherlock Holmes.

The week before had been very busy trailing jewel thieves, John remembered. The ex-army doctor had snatched only a couple of cat naps the entire week. Meals were few and far between. John had worked himself to the point of collapse as an undercover operative for Sherlock by day and Sherlock's assistant and bodyguard by night. John had also managed to put in a few shifts at the clinic, much to Sherlock's dismay.

There had been a spectacular chase though the alleys and subways and abandoned basements. During the chase, Sherlock was captured and nearly killed before John crashed though a window, shooting one thug and scattering four others with his gun and his determined fists. There was another chase while holding a bag of stolen jewelry. They had taken refuge in an old warehouse. Sherlock scouted on ahead. Then John realized the building was on fire. John had searched for Sherlock until he passed out from the fumes. Somehow, Sherlock had found his partner and carried him out to safety.

John remembered Sherlock holding him in his arms. He had rubbed his back while John coughed and gasped. Sherlock had caressed his face and hair, and he had spoken softly and gently to John. John was sure that Sherlock Holmes had kissed the top of his soot-covered head.

John must have been delirious. Obviously that was all just wishful thinking.

The next morning, without any sleep, the doctor forced himself to shower and dress to go to the clinic. Sarah was waiting in his office.

"John here is the schedule for next week, and by the way, you look like absolute crap. Out chasing down the bad guys again?" she asked with a chuckle.

"Thanks for the compliment. No I just had trouble sleeping, it happens even to the best of us," John said with a forced smile.

"Oh, I see, trouble with your boyfriend. I'd have thought the two of you would be inseparable after you saved each other's lives the other day," Sarah patted John's arm. "Don't look so surprised; I can read the newspaper. You singlehandedly rescued that Sherlock of yours from some gang, and then he carries you out of a burning building. Frankly it's so romantic that we are all jealous…"

"Sarah, for the last time he's not my boyfriend. There is no romance. There is nothing there at all. Sherlock is married to his work. We don't hug; we don't kiss; we just… don't. We don't even work together all that much anymore so can you please leave off?" asked John rubbing the sore spot between his eyes. Today was going to be a long day.

It was a very, very long day. John had checked his phone repeatedly throughout the day, no texts. The doctor forced himself to attend to his patients despite his exhaustion and worry. He drank coffee all afternoon to keep awake.

John brought home chicken curry from which he had taken exactly two bites; then he sat and stared at his mobile. He glared at the offending phone until he drifted off to sleep at two or three in the morning.

John woke after three hours sleep. Having sat up in a chair two nights in a row, John was extremely stiff. His left shoulder was all but immobile until after he had taken two paracetamol and a very long, very hot shower.

He finally broke down and sent Sherlock a text.

Hope your case is going well. Had a busy day at the clinic and chicken curry for dinner. Saw Molly at the coffee shop; she said Hi. JW

There, just a nice friendly text, not pathetic or whiny, thought John. He decided to start jogging, today, now in fact. He ran for an hour before the panic stopped trying to claw its way out of his chest.

He climbed up the stairs exhausted and disheartened. Not only does Sherlock, not want John as a romantic partner; apparently he doesn't even want John as a friend or colleague.

John showered and went to clinic; he brought a large espresso to work. Hopefully the caffeine would get him through his afternoon shift. The nurses were all unusually kind and helpful. The patients were supportive. Christ, do they all know? Do I look that bad?

John bought another espresso and another takeaway on his way home. He put the untouched food in the refrigerator. He sat in his chair for hours, drinking the espresso, and listening to depressing break up music.

That night, for his own good, John forced himself to lie in his own bed. The dark crowded around him as he lay awake remembering Sherlock. He smiled when he remembered the sheet-clad Sherlock at Buckingham Palace and Sherlock wearing the deerstalker hat. He nearly cried when he remembered Sherlock's so-called suicide. He couldn't make up his mind about the their reunion two years after the Fall. It was funny remembering Sherlock's shock when John threw his tea in his face. The git had deserved it after he magically appeared from his bedroom with no warning for the doctor. But the pain of the abandonment and grieving had never really left John, so it was sad too. And then there was the hug, long and clinging and not really all that platonic. John must have imagined that hug too.

John eventually gave up sleep as a lost cause and wandered the dark, quiet flat for a couple of hours, before he went jogging again in the rain and dark.

John watched the sunrise from the top of St. Bart's. The roof had become a refuge for John during Sherlock's long absence. John sat there now trying to deal with the painful reality of the long dreaded break-up.

John choked back a contemptuous laugh. What break-up? John was in a one-sided relationship with a sociopath that had grown bored with John just four months after his return. What the hell had John expected? Sherlock warned him from the beginning that he was married to his work. Sherlock was just being Sherlock, and John had only himself to blame if his heart was broken.

Then again, on the night he had returned to 221B,Sherlock had seemed so sincere, so earnest. He had promised John that he needed John's friendship. Sherlock had promised that he would never leave John again. Christ, Sherlock had said that he couldn't live without John. John had finally been convinced that he was the exception, that he was really Sherlock's best friend.

That was enough for John. He certainly wasn't going to force his attentions on the detective and ruin the most important relationship in his life. Still there was that little, tiny hope that someday, John would be even more than a best friend to the World's Only Consulting Detective. Had all of that friendship talk been an act, just Sherlock manipulating him? Maybe that was it; maybe John wasn't so special to Sherlock. Maybe John was convenient, like an ATM for buying milk and keeping Andersons out of Sherlock's hair. John didn't know what to think anymore.

He rubbed his tired eyes. The breeze was making his eyes water; thank God he was too tough for tears.

John finally gave up on the view; the sunrise was drowned by the weeping mist. The cloying clouds covered any hope of sunlight. They smothered all hope entirely.

John sat with his laptop the whole afternoon; he was disappointed to find that he could not afford any suitable flats in London. He would have to find a new job and a new flat somewhere else. The only available jobs were dull locum /clinic jobs like he had now. They wouldn't pay the rent even in the rural districts.

On a whim, he began reading up on private defense contractors. It looked interesting, and the more he read, the more interested John got. Private defense contractors, aka mercenaries, must lead exciting lives, and the jobs paid well, very well indeed. It was perfect. John could go back to the war that he supposedly missed and get money to do so. He sat up most of the night converting his CV into a résumé. Then he sent out emails and applications. He only got out of the chair to make more coffee.

He finally decided to go to bed after 0400 hours. He went into Sherlock's room and curled up under the covers. It smelled like Sherlock even if the detective seldom slept there. Sherlock need never know that John spent the night in his bed.

John woke before 0800 hours that morning, and he called the clinic to quit his job. John checked his email while he downed his coffee. He had one actual job offer, based solely on his résumé, and two requests for interviews, one each in New York City and Washington DC. There was a mysterious inquiry that seemed to have come from the American CIA even though John had not sent any applications to them.

John checked airfares to the United States. Afterwards, he ran out of the flat to jog for 50 minutes. Then he went to the bookstore to get a copy of Soldier of Fortune magazine and a large espresso.

When John arrived back at 221B Baker Street, he ran up his stairs still chuffed. Mrs. Hudson stood in the doorway, "John, I don't understand. He says he's looking for drugs."

John gave Mrs. Hudson's arm a reassuring squeeze. Then he confronted Detective Inspector Lestrade whose team was tearing the flat apart. "Greg, a drug's bust? Really? Sherlock's not even here; besides he's been clean…"

"I'm checking the flat because of you John," John stared at Lestrade nonplussed. "John you've been behaving very strangely. You quit your job, you've been out wandering all over London at all hours of the night, you aren't eating and you look a wreck. Look at you, your hands are shaking," said Lestrade.

"Oh, I get it. Mycroft sent you. He's mad because I took up jogging and did not get special permission from him first. Look I'm out jogging, not buying drugs; it's supposed to be good for you. In fact, I just finished a little jog and I had a coffee; coffee's not illegal is it?"

John tapped his foot with excess energy, "Look, I'm more than happy submit to any bloody drug tests you'd like, and you just go right ahead and search the flat all you want. Does anyone want some coffee?" asked John tilting his head to the side. He put the kettle on to boil and put two large spoonfuls of instant coffee into his own mug.

"John, will you please tell me what's going on? Mrs. Hudson called me and said that you haven't eaten for days. You haven't returned my calls or Dr. Sawyer's calls or calls from Mycroft Holmes. I found that note on the fridge; where exactly is Sherlock?" Lestrade held The Note in his hand.

John snatched The Note away angrily. "That is my note, left for me. And now you know exactly as much as I do. Yes, he left another note. Sherlock has scarpered off again. End of story. As far as returning phone calls, I wasn't in the mood, and it isn't against the law." John carefully folded The Note and slipped it into his wallet for safe keeping. He chewed his lip while he waited for the kettle to boil. His fingers drummed on the counter.

John watched as a new PC dragged out another experiment. "Please put that mold back into the cupboard, it's some kind of experiment. No! Anderson, no! Don't touch that can, it's full of…"

Sensing victory, the weasel tore open the can. Flies and maggots and half eaten flesh poured out onto Anderson. "Argh!" shrieked Anderson. "Argh, get them off, get them off!"

"I told you not to touch the can. Sherlock will be pissed off when he gets back. You'd better pick them all up and put them back in the can," said John calmly to the Forensics tech who was dancing around the kitchen. "Lestrade, he's stepping on the maggots. Really it's too bad."

"They've gotten into my clothes, they're in my clothes!" shrieked Anderson.

John poured hot water into his mug and eyed the mess. "Well that's one experiment ruined. Not really sure what the point of it was , but still. I wonder what that fleshy thing was?"

"Flesh! They're eating into my flesh, get them off," screamed Anderson who crashed into the table knocking test tubes onto the floor,

John pursed his lips, "Another one bites the dust. Sherlock will be really, really pissed. I'm not taking the blame for this Greg,"

Anderson was hysterical and trying to rip off his blue suit. This was not going as planned; Lestrade pinched the bridge of his nose.

"You really should do something about Anderson; he's going to hurt himself," said John He sipped his strong black coffee. "Oi, put that box in the freezer if you're done with it; we really don't want that thing defrosting. It could be much worse than the maggots."

"John whatever's going on, I'm not going to watch you slide down into depression again. I'll make you a deal. I'll leave if you promise to meet me at the pub in two hours," said Lestrade. John nodded. "PC Jones, get Anderson out of here. The rest of you, clean up this mess. John, two hours."

"Sorry I'm late Greg but I had a strange visitor. Some guy claimed to be from MI6, and he was asking a bunch of questions." John slid into his seat and sipped the pint of beer that Lestrade had already ordered.

"Oh God, is it something to do with Sherlock?" asked Lestrade.

"No, no the bloke has this stupid idea that I'm going to go work for the CIA or something. I finally promised not to join the CIA unless I contacted the British Government first," John sipped his beer.

"CIA?" asked Lestrade flatly. "Is that a real possibility?"

"No, no, no. I mean they might be interested in me but I'm not interested in working for another government. See they called twice today and wanted me to stop in at the American Embassy for a chat," John smiled. "I turned them down, so problem solved. Maybe I could order some coffee?"

The waiter brought over two plates with hamburgers and chips. "I ordered dinner for both of us John. You need to eat."

John eyed the food warily and picked at his chips. He looked longingly at a woman drinking some nice hot java. Lestrade ate in silence for a few minutes. "Take a bite of the sandwich John; I promised Mrs. Hudson that you would eat tonight. We know that you haven't eat since he left."

John glared and took a bite of the hamburger. It tasted like ashes. "He left," thought John; Greg had said it out loud. "He left". John forced down a second bite and put the burger down. So it's official Sherlock left. He left me again.

"John you are acting just like you did before. I know it; your friends know it, and I think you know it. You can't shut down again because of Sherlock. You can't quit work and start sulking around that flat like you did when we thought he died," said Lestrade.

"Well I suppose I can if I want to," said John stubbornly. "But I'm not. I can see that Sherlock and I aren't working out as flat mates. I thought we were, but I was mistaken. So I'm looking for work, something a bit more exciting than tending children with runny noses and old men with gout. I don't think the CIA is really it though, do you?"

"Um no, I do not think you should join the CIA or the French Foreign Legion...What's that look for? Are you trying to join the French Foreign Legion? Is there still a French Foreign Legion? Look John, if you two had a little spat, maybe you should just give it some time to blow over before you make any major decisions. You and Sherlock have a very close relationship…'

"No, that's the problem Greg. There is no relationship. You and everyone else imagine that there is one; I started to imagine that there is one. Well, guess what; there obviously isn't," snapped John. "Hell, I'm hard pressed to even define us as friends at this point."

"John, trust me, you're too tired and too upset to be making rational decisions. You're running on empty John, no food and no sleep and a hell of a lot of caffeine."said Lestrade slapping the table for emphasis.

"You were really exhausted after that case you and Sherlock just finished." Lestrade was on a roll. "I think you actually got in less sleep last week than he did since you were the undercover fence. You were frantic, when that gang kidnapped Sherlock. Then you almost died in that fire."

John glared sullenly and played with his food.

"I might add that Sherlock was beside himself when he brought you out of the burning building. He was almost hysterical until you started coughing and waking up. Just saying."

John's lips tightened further, and he slowly crushed some chips.

"Look mate, just don't rush into anything when you're worried and tired and over wrought. Just let the dust settle. Don't do anything drastic for a couple of days. Maybe tomorrow we can get together again?"asked Lestrade.

John nodded, but superstitiously crossed his fingers. He planned to be on his way to America tomorrow.

John walked into his dark flat. He half-expected to see the lanky detective stretched out on the couch or squatting in his chair. However the flat was empty. John put the leftover burger and chips in the fridge. At least Lestrade's team had cleaned up most of the afternoon's mess.

The flat echoed with the silence. John put on some of Sherlock's music, Beethoven's Fifth, full volume. Bah, bah, bah, bahm the music blared-yeah death knocking at the door, thought John. He made some more coffee, three teaspoons of instant in the mug.

The music was almost loud enough to drown out his thoughts.

John checked his phone, no messages. He walked into Sherlock's bedroom, no detective. The music was loud even in here. Good thing Mrs. Hudson was out tonight.

John checked the closet as if he thought that the World's Only Consulting Detective might be crouching behind the shirts and suits.

The closet smelled like Sherlock, like his soap and chemicals. John breathed in deeply. He gently caressed the shirts, one by one. He turned to switch on a light and admired the sleek tailored suits. Sherlock was so bloody elegant in them. Him with his long neck and stupid cheekbones, why do I want that stupid, skinny, abnormally tall git anyway?

Then John was irresistibly drawn back to the purple shirt. It was one of Sherlock's favorite shirts. It was certainly John's favorite shirt. It was The Sexy Purple Shirt. John stroked The Sexy Purple Shirt, and wondered when he started to think in capital letters.

John pulled the shirt reverently off its hanger. He rubbed his face against it; he imagined that Sherlock was wearing it. John slowly unbuttoned his own shirt. Moving faster he pulled off his own striped shirt and vest. Then he pulled the prized shirt on. It slipped like silk down his arms and across his chest. The Shirt was way too long; the sleeves covered up his hands. It was a bit too tight across the shoulders. He left it unbuttoned. When he moved, The Shirt caressed John like Sherlock would, should.

John sighed in defeat. Sherlock Holmes certainly would not ever caress John Watson. It was time for John to let the dream die. Sherlock did not want him even as a friend anymore. Dr. John H. Watson RAMC was not going to be the pathetic hanger-oner anymore.

The doctor marched up to his room to pack his duffel full of shirts and tees and socks and pants. He packed a pair of jeans and two old army fatigues. He squeezed in some toiletries and his notebook. There would only be room for one jumper and his laptop. Fine, Mercs probably don't wear jumpers anyway.

John could live out of this duffel bag indefinitely; it would be just like in the army, which was the whole point really.

If John couldn't have Sherlock, then he needed the army. The British Army didn't want him. He had tried to rejoin after The Fall, but they refused to let him rejoin. So John would join a private army. It wasn't the same but close enough.

Still wearing The Sexy Purple Shirt, John looked into the mirror. He was pale, the circles under his eyes looked bruised. His face needed shaving and his hair stuck up like a porcupine. He was too short and too thin; his chest hair was too pale. But the shirt, the purple shirt gleamed seductively. The torn, faded jeans he wore did not complement the ensemble, so he tore them off.

Yes, John would spend his final night at 221B Baker Street in The Sexy Purple Shirt and his black pants. Sherlock need never know. Exultantly, John marched down to the sitting room. The unbuttoned purple shirt flapped around him; it kissed his skin raising goose-flesh on his arms and legs.

He checked his laptop; his tickets would be waiting at Heathrow. This time tomorrow he'd be over the Atlantic Ocean on his way to the USA for a series of job interview, two more since yesterday. Ha, Ha John Watson, Soldier of Fortune, mercenary, hired gun. John would find excitement on his own terms, and sod everyone else.

John finished his seventh or eighth coffee. His hands had a very fine tremor, his mind was buzzing on overdrive. Stupid drugs bust, John chuckled darkly. Who needs drugs, I have all the caffeine I need.

John's heart raced; maybe he had more than eight coffees today. Maybe that was enough caffeine for now; John poured himself some whisky.

John took out his Browning L9A1. He'd be bringing that with him. Thanks to Mycroft he had permits to carry the gun and even to travel with it. It was one of the only benefits of his association with the British Government.

John ran his fingers over the satiny smooth metal of the handgun. His Browning was always ready when John needed it. It never promised that it would never leave again and then run off leaving a stupid two-line note. The handgun reminded him of better times, times in the Army with his friends, times with Sherlock on cases. John smiled.

John meticulously cleaned the gun as he sipped his whisky. The smell of the gun oil and the feel of the cold steel soothed the soldier in John. Beethoven thundered through the empty flat. John carefully reassembled the gun and loaded the magazine. Finally the gun was ready to be packed away.

John did not feeling like changing the disc so Beethoven's Fifth started over. Bah, Bah, Bah, Baahh! The orchestral music reverberated in his chest the way Sherlock's voice used to. Sod that, thought the doctor angrily. Forget him.

He aimed his Browning at the Smiley face. "Curse you Smiley Face. Death is too good for you," John said like a hardened gun for hire.

Mrs. Hudson was out for the evening; he could shoot the evil Smiley Face. It deserved death, and no one need ever know. He could shoot one of the old bullet holes so there wouldn't even be a new hole. Sherlock would never suspect that John had shot the Smiley Face many,many times, always aiming for a bullet hole and almost always finding his target.

John smirked. He could do it right now too; the tremors disappeared when he held his gun. Must be psychosomatic. Damn this psychosomatic crap.

The evil Smiley Face leered at him. It taunted him. He sighted down the barrel. He crouched down, taking cover from imaginary fire behind his chair. He pretended to return fire.

John jumped up aiming the gun again. He was a soldier again, but now he was a soldier of fortune, a free agent. He'd be an agent for good of course, but with a bad reputation. John scrambled behind Sherlock's chair. "That was close, Smiley Face, but not good enough."

John leapt back up and pivoted. He braced his legs, and took the Browning in both hands. The tremors were gone, history. As he concentrated, his face turned to stone; with hard blue eyes and parted lips, John took aim. John squeezed the trigger. Bam! Smiley Face had met its match.


A/N Reviews welcomed.