The day was dreary and wet, rain pelting the top of the cab as they drove through town, but to Sherlock and John it was a good day. After weeks in the hospital, John was finally able to return home. He sat in the cab and watched lazily through the window, listening to the rare silence. He'd been having headaches almost nonstop since the accident and the hospital didn't help; it had been so loud. All the sounds, talking, monitors beeping had added to the intensity of his headaches and kept him from sleeping well. It seemed that for once Sherlock could sense John wanted silence; for once, he was quiet the entire ride from the hospital back to the flat. For this, John was very grateful.
He turned his head and looked at the detective; he was sitting with his eyes turned toward the window though John doubted that he was also watching the rain. He was sure that his mind was racing with million thoughts but he was kind enough to keep them to himself. John was both surprised and relived at how Sherlock had been helpful since the accident. He had stayed by John's side pretty much the whole time even after he had woken up, leaving only for brief periods of time. He had surprised John on a few occasions by bringing some of John's favorite take away to the hospital, much to John's delight and the nurses' dismay. And he had had the foresight to bring John some clothes before they left the hospital for which he was extremely pleased about. John was so sick of wearing those horrible hospital gown which covered next to nothing and left him continually chilled. He was glad to be wearing a full set of clothes now. Sherlock had even brought him a cap for head which helped a lot. Since John's hair only just began to grow back in, he felt ridiculous with the way that he looked. Vain and stupid maybe, but he was glad to have his bare, scarred head covered.
When the cab stopped at John's flat Sherlock paid the cabbie as John struggled out of the cab. He'd been in a wheelchair to get down to the cab and now that he didn't have that it put him in the awkward position of trying to hobble out. Since he had a broken arm on the same side as his broken leg, the crutches that they gave him were useless. Until this moment he hadn't considered exactly how he was going to get around; he hadn't exactly done a whole lot of moving in the hospital and when he did need to get around he'd had nurses to help him. This put him in a rather awkward position; the last thing on earth he was going to do was ask Sherlock to help him hobble around. He liked to think that he still had some dignity left.
John used his good arm to grip the side of the cab and pull himself out. He stood on his good leg and proceeded to hop towards the door. He got about three steps when he lost balance. Right before he fell flat on his face he felt strong arms grab him from behind and catch him. "What on earth do you think you're doing?" Sherlock asked as he pulled John up.
"Um, walking to the door. What do you think?" John asked. He was embarrassed enough that he had almost fallen.
"Well, you're doing a great job of that" Sherlock observed. " Trying to injure yourself further?"
"Shut up" John muttered as he flushed red and attempted to hobble again. He got two steps away when he felt Sherlock's arm around him to steady him. His faced turned about twenty shades redder. "What are you doing?" he asked embarrassed.
"Shut up and stop being so bloody proud" Sherlock said as he walked towards the door. John wasn't sure that he'd ever been so embarrassed as having Sherlock's arms around him on a public street, but as usual, Sherlock did have a point; he couldn't get very far without help.
Sherlock helped John into the house and back to his room. John hopped awkwardly onto his bed, stretching his broken leg out. He moved his pillows behind him so that he was comfortably sitting up and when he turned around Sherlock was gone. John listened and he could hear Sherlock puttering around in the kitchen. A few minutes later Sherlock returned to John's room with a cup of tea and a few of John's books. He placed them on the nightstand.
Sherlock fidgeted slightly (still a surprise to John) and he said, " Uh, so there you go….need anything else?"
There were a great number of things that John wanted actually; a decent meal would be a nice start and a couple of warm quilts for the bed wouldn't hurt. Not to mention that he would love to get into some pajamas but he didn't even want to attempt that until Sherlock was long gone. "No, I think I've got everything that I need. Thanks for the cuppa" he held it up and took a drink.
Instead of leave, Sherlock just stood there and fidgeted some more. He paced back and forth, his eyes darted around; it was totally bizarre. "Nothing? Are you sure? You sure that I can't do something for you? I know that you are uncomfortable, surely I can do something to make your feel better?" he asked.
The bizarreness of Sherlock's behavior was increasing. He never fidgeted. He never wanted to "take care of" anyone. He'd been completely quiet almost all day except for now. And now he was "hovering". " Sherlock, really, I'm fine" John said. " My head hurts, sure but I'll just take a nap and I'll be okay. Some sleep, a little peace and quiet, really that's all that I need"
He was sure that Sherlock would leave now. Only he didn't; he continued to pace agitatedly as he said, "Surely I can do something John, I want to do something to help"
John was confused and he was sure that it showed on his face. " Really, Sherlock. I don't need anything. I'm fine" he said.
"No you're not!" Sherlock said loudly, throwing his hands out as he faced John "You're not fine, you've been in a terrible accident!"
"Um, Sherlock" John said unsure of why he was acting so bizarre. " Yeah, I was injured, but I'm out of the woods now. I'm okay, really. I'm glad you're so willing to help me but really if I need something I'll let you know"
"Well, of course I'm willing to help!" Sherlock almost shouted as he began to pace again and gesture angrily with his hands. " I should, shouldn't I? I did put you here so it's the LEAST that I can do!"
Suddenly it made sense to John. It may not have made sense to Sherlock, at least not completely but John understood. Sherlock was being so helpful because he blamed himself for John's injury. He felt that since John had left after their fight and had then gotten into an accident that it was his fault that he had almost died. Honestly the thought hadn't even occurred to John, but he could see where Sherlock was coming from.
John didn't want Sherlock to run away so he treaded lightly on the subject. " What do you mean you put me here? I had an accident, that's all it was. A total accident; I wasn't paying attention and ran out into the street. You had nothing to do with that"
"Oh don't be so dull, John" Sherlock exclaimed. " You were out there because we argued, you got angry and left. If we hadn't had a row you would have never been in that accident"
Sherlock stopped pacing and looked at John. For the first time ever, John thought that Sherlock look….vulnerable. His face was red as if from anger but his eyes shown with pain. He was actually upset. John tried to think of something to say that would keep Sherlock going but he couldn't think of anything. " Sherlock…." Was all that he managed to utter.
In the way that John said Sherlock's name he must have set him off to the fact that he had said something of meaning because Sherlock started for the door. "Wait!" John called out, and to his surprise Sherlock stopped. "You come back here right now, Sherlock Holmes" at this Sherlock turned around, probably surprised that John sounded so commanding. " I obviously am in no position to force you, but please, as my friend, come back here and talk to me"
Sherlock stood in the doorway with a look on his face that said he was weighing the options of staying and running. "You asked me if I needed anything" John said, " Well, actually there is something you can do for me. You can come back here and talk to me"
Sherlock rolled his eyes in frustration but he walked over to John's desk, pulled his chair to beside the bed and sat down. "Really, John? This is what you need?" he asked as if it was the most ridiculous thing. He was avoiding eye contact.
"Sherlock, I don't blame you" John said calmly. He waited for a moment and eventually Sherlock's eyes looked up at him. In the light that shown through the window and fell upon Sherlock's face, John could see Sherlock deducing again (sometimes that really got old); probably deciding whether or not he was telling the truth.
"Really, Sherlock, I don't" John continued. " The thought never crossed my mind. It was my fault; I darted out into traffic like a toddler and so I got hit. Really, I should have been looking."
Sherlock looked down at his hands. " You were distracted because you were upset" he said. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand. He was obviously uncomfortable, but John was just glad that he wasn't shutting down completely.
"Well, yeah I was upset" John admitted. " But that doesn't mean it had anything to do with my accident. Sure, I was furious at you. You made me feel like a total spectacle. You were harsh, cruel. But I know really that's not who you are."
It was silent for a long time. John thought he'd go crazy from the silence, silence he had so longed for for weeks. But silence with Sherlock Holmes wasn't a good thing. There was no sound save for the ticking of the clock on the wall and the distant sound of traffic outside.
After what seemed like forever, Sherlock finally spoke. " I am…sorry, John" he said. He wouldn't look at John and his voice sounded strained. " I know that I've been…..a little….impossible lately. I know I said things that were…..not good. My words hurt you and….I'm sorry"
John couldn't really believe Sherlock was apologizing to him. It just wasn't something that he did. He felt like he should say something, to point out just how hurtful he had been, but he couldn't. "Its okay Sherlock" he said. When Sherlock apologized to you, you simply accepted because it was a big deal.
"When you talked to me…." Sherlock continued " About how you felt ….I couldn't quite…..I didn't know what to say. You said that you missed me and then you wanted me to talk….I got angry because I didn't want to say…..I couldn't say….I…"
And in possibly the most unexpected thing John had ever had happen, Sherlock leaned forward and wrapped his arms around John in a hug. John was so surprised at first that he just sat there. At any second he was expecting Sherlock to do something weird, move away and try to act like he hadn't hugged him. But Sherlock didn't do that; he stayed with his arms around John in an embrace. John put his arms around his friend. John didn't want to admit it, but he felt something hard inside him melt.
At first the gesture seemed awkward, for both John and Sherlock, but when John felt all the hardness and resentment that he had felt towards Sherlock melt away in forgiveness, his muscles relaxed and hug felt more natural. When John relaxed he could feel Sherlock's posture relax as well and, though he couldn't be certain, he was sure he felt Sherlock's grip tighten.
Sherlock never finished saying what he was going to say and he didn't have to. In that hug John could read everything that Sherlock couldn't say with words. That he had had a hard time on his own, that he was still hurting, and that, deep down, he had missed John.
John carried the last box up the stairs and struggled against the fatigue that he felt; he refused to give up. It had been a long and tiring day but John honestly felt good. His legs burned, his arms hurt and he was sweating profusely, but he felt good. He walked the remaining stairs and into the familiar flat of 221 B.
It had been 2 months since John had returned home from the hospital and things had just improved since then. His broken bones had finally healed, and though for a while he had relied on his cane again because of his broken leg, this time it was not for a psychosomatic reason. Much to his pleasure his hair hand grown back as well and he was just beginning to feel normal again. He still had headaches from time to time but they weren't the everyday affair that they had been right after the accident. He had regained his appetite again and was eating on a regular basis now; he was almost back to the weight that he had been before Sherlock had left. Though he did have the occasional nightmare still, they were much like his nightmares about the war; they weren't as intense as they had once been and they didn't occur as frequently. John was beginning to think they would occur long term like his war dreams, but he had come to accept this. He was happy….actually happy and that meant that he could face things that came his way. He hadn't touched any alcohol since the night Stamford had brought him home drunk.
But what really helped was that things between him and Sherlock were better. It wasn't like they had talked about what had happened. In fact, after the day that he had come home from the hospital and their awkward hug, they hadn't talked about it at all. John still didn't know what had happened to Sherlock all that time, or where he had gotten those scars, and he was quite sure that he probably never would. But things were starting to be normal between them now. And right now for John that was enough. They still didn't see each other a whole lot because of John's hours at the office, but they were talking on a daily basis and that was something that hadn't happened since Sherlock had returned. John couldn't be sure, but he thought that Sherlock was feeling more at ease as well; he wasn't playing such sad songs now, at least.
John deposited the last box on the floor of the flat with the others. John didn't want to think about the work that lay ahead with unpacking (that he was sure to be doing most of) ; right now he just wanted to be content in the fact him and Sherlock were home. Really home.
Sherlock was sitting in his old chair which was positioned close to the window at the moment. The window was open but the hot, humid air of the summer day was still overwhelming. The sun shone brightly and not a leaf rustled on the trees; it was obvious no relief was going to come from the wind today. Sherlock's pale face was flushed with red and he was fanning himself with a magazine. John had tried to convince Sherlock to wear a pair of shorts and t-shirt – moving clothes- instead of his button downs, but as usual Sherlock wouldn't listen to anything John had to say that was supposed to be helpful.
John plopped down in his own chair, which happened to be much further away from the window than Sherlock's though he was sure that it didn't matter if the wind wasn't going to blow. " That the last one?" Sherlock asked as he looked at John.
"Yes, finally, that's the last one" John said through catching his breath. He mopped his sweating head with a handkerchief. "We've finally got it all."
"Hope you haven't exerted yourself too much today" Sherlock said casually as he fanned himself. John was still getting used to this version of Sherlock that seemed to actually worry about him. Ever since the accident Sherlock would throw these causal comments in from time to time as John continued to heal. Comment that he needed to get more sleep, or eat more, rest your leg, take a nap….at times he'd actually been quite nagging. John smiled to himself; it was a good time of nagging.
"Trust me, I'm fine" John said though he was still catching his breath and every muscle hurt. He felt useful, normal, healthy again. " I feel like all I do in my hours at home these days are sleep. Trust me, I need some overexertion."
There was the sound of steps on the stairs and soon Mrs. Hudson walked into the flat, carrying a pitcher of water and glasses which she handed to Sherlock and John who took them gladly.
"Drink up" she said as she handed them the glasses " You two are going to dry up in this heat" She set the pitcher down on a stack of boxes and looked around at the flat, practically beaming. "I'm so glad you boys are back. Its hardly felt the same without you" She walked over to Sherlock, putting an arm around his shoulders and giving him a half hug " Shame on you for scaring me to death….scaring us all to death" she gave John a knowing look. She used a joking tone but her face showed her genuine gladness. Shortly after John's accident Sherlock had went to visit Mrs. Hudson and tell her he was alive. Because he was so ill John missed that reunion too, but Sherlock filled him in on all the "ridiculous" details as he called them. Details like how Mrs. Hudson " bloody passed out on the floor, I was just fortunate to break her fall in time" and how when she awoke she "beat me shamelessly with her handbag. Rather uncalled for". John had been bored in bed all day that day and he remembered laughing, genuinely laughing as Sherlock told the story. He was also pleased when Sherlock told him that Mrs. Hudson had not rented out 221 B; in fact she would be happy to have them come right back to their old home if they wanted to. Since the one bedroom arrangement wasn't working very well they decided to move back. Well, that, and the fact that 221B was their actual home.
And as John looked around at the flat, unchanged except for where their things now sat, the same old smell, the same bullet holes in the wall, listening to Mrs. Hudson dote on him and Sherlock, John was genuinely happy. He wasn't sure that he had been this happy since before Sherlock's disappearance. Finally, things felt normal again.
Mrs. Hudson walked down to her own flat to attend to a few things, leaving Sherlock and John in the silence of the flat. The only sounds that drifted into the room were the sounds of traffic through the window. Neither he nor Sherlock said how happy they were to be back, but John was sure Sherlock was thinking it as he was looking around the flat just as John had just been doing.
A minute later Sherlock's phone rang. "Hello" Sherlock answered. "Yes….I see, of course, yes…..I'll be there shortly" he put his phone back into his pocket and got up from his chair, starting for the door.
"Are you leaving already?" John asked, "We've only just settled in"
"I must" Sherlock said. Before he even said it, John could tell what Sherlock was going to say. John could read the excited flush of his cheeks and the light in his eyes. "That was Lestrade. Seems there have been five murders in the past month; he suspects they are linked but as usual the rest of the idiots around him do not. They do not see the signs…." Sherlock's whole face lit up. "Suspected serial killer we have on our hands."
John was just beginning to feel a little deflated that Sherlock was going to leave so soon after arriving back home when Sherlock began to tap his foot impatiently. " Well, John, what are you waiting for?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" John asked.
Sherlock rolled his eyes as if John was being impossible. "I said, serial killer. On a case like this I must have my blogger with me"
John turned around and looked at Sherlock standing in the doorway. Sherlock was smiling from ear to ear and John didn't suppress the urge to do the same.
And so it was with the same excitement that he felt four years ago on their very first case John followed Sherlock out the door of 221 B to whatever their new adventure was. Once again, the game was on.
Well guys, that's the end of this story :) Thank you all for your reviews, follows and favs. I hope that you have enjoyed "He's Shattered" I may write a story about what Sherlock and John did during the three years they were separated, a spin off of this story, but that will be a little further down the road. If you liked my story, try out my other current Sherlock fics, " Stagnation" and " The Secret Life of a Doctor and Detective" Thanks again for taking the time to read my story.