Mrs Hudson was the first to leave. She had to go see Mrs Turner about something. Mycroft stayed a bit longer, giving instructions about the press conference the next day. He talked while Sherlock rolled his eyes at him and pretended not to listen.
"Well, I'd best be going." Mycroft said as he got up to leave. "I expect you to think about the questions you will get, particularly about the way you faked your death. You'll need to decide exactly how much you want to tell and stick to it...and please make sure you both agree on what you're going to say."
"Why? I'm not going to be taking any questions." I said.
Both Sherlock and Mycroft looked at me in a way that made me feel like I had just said something very stupid. "What?" I said.
"Of course you're going to take questions." Sherlock said. "You can't just abandon me to the mercy of the press. I won't let you."
"But Sherlock this is about you..."
"If I may, John." Mycroft began. "You may not be ready to acknowledge it, but no one sees my brother as just Sherlock Holmes anymore. When they look at him or think about him, they see the both of you. Like it or not, it is Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. You're...partners." He said that in a way that I can only describe as suggestive. I flushed. I hoped that Sherlock would not notice, but I knew that the possibility of that was nonexistent. I looked up just in time to see Mycroft give Sherlock a very knowing look, which was returned with a nod and a hint of a smile.
Right. So what's with all the wordless communication? I wondered. I thought I might have an idea, but I was afraid that it might just be wishful thinking on my part, so I let it go.
"The press will have a hundred questions for you, John...Did you know he was alive? When did you know? How did you react? And of course the ever present questions regarding the status of your relationship. Perhaps the two of you should think about that as well." Mycroft said as he looked pointedly between us. Again there was that suggestion of a subtext. Sherlock rolled his eyes. Mycroft smirked and then he picked up his umbrella and walked out of the door.
"Anthea will pick you up at eleven." He called after him.
It was obvious that Mycroft was telling us that we needed to think about our relationship. It was also obvious, that he, like everybody else, believed that it was a lot more than friendship. Now I was no longer in denial. I was sure that I was in love with Sherlock. Very much so, in fact. And this, despite all my uncertainty about being with a man. But I had no idea what Sherlock felt for me. I knew he cared. I knew that I was very important to him. But did he love me...enough to consider or even want a relationship? I had no idea. I hoped of course, but was that enough to risk ruining our friendship?
I was still deep in thought when, "John?" Sherlock said softly.
I shook myself out of my reverie and looked up. Sherlock was looking at me intently. There was nothing particularly unusual about that. But there was something in the way he was doing the looking that gave me pause. It was a very direct stare, like he was trying to see into my head...
"What are you thinking about?" He said finally.
"Um...nothing. Just wondering about tomorrow." He looked like he didn't believe me, but he didn't press.
"I guess I'd better get dinner going." I said as I got up and started messing about the kitchen. He watched me quietly for a couple of minutes and then he went into the living room and got out his violin. He started playing. He'd told me that he'd really missed his violin when he was away. That was obvious in the way he played now. I was surprised by his choice of music, though. There was a lot of Mozart and Vivaldi there. It is the kind of music that speaks of joy and evokes happy memories. It is playful music. The kind that he does not normally play. I listened to him as I went about my task. It felt nice to be in the kitchen, cooking again. It was something that I had almost not done in the year that he had been away. Somehow, I could never find the enthusiasm to cook when I was only doing it for me.
It was a couple of hours later. We had finished dinner. We had gone over most of what we wanted to say at the press conference the next day. It was important. It was an attempt to restore Sherlock's reputation after Moriarty had torn it to shreds. A good bit of this was already done. Everyone knew that Sherlock was innocent of all those charges, but the whole fake dying and going after Moriarty's network, was a delicate subject. We had to play it right. We had to make sure not to antagonise anyone. The press would be only too ready to jump in and cry foul if we got on their wrong side. And Sherlock has a particular talent for getting on people's wrong side. So I was worried. I guess it showed.
"I don't understand why it matters so much to you." He said.
"Why what matters?"
"What people think about me, what they say or write..."
"It matters, Sherlock, because you matter. You're unique. You're brilliant. You're important. I want the press to acknowledge that. Particularly after all the nasty things they said."
"And you're afraid I'll say the wrong thing and ruin it."
"Yes. Just keep a hold of your temper, alright."
"I'll try. But only because this is important to you."
"Thanks." I knew that was the most I would get out of him, so I let it go.
We talked for a while longer and then we went to bed. I couldn't get to sleep, of course. I tossed and turned, I squeezed my eyes shut, I willed myself to go to sleep. But nothing worked. I fell into a fitful sleep somewhere around two in the morning and suddenly I was standing on the road looking up at the roof of St Bart's. Sherlock tossed his phone aside and then he jumped. His head hit the pavement with a sickening crunch and there was all this blood and I was running and screaming and someone was shaking me, trying to get me to wake up.
I opened my eyes and saw Sherlock. He was sitting on my bed. He had his hands on my shoulders. "John, it's okay. I'm here. I'm right here."
I shook my head, trying to make the dream go away. My heart was pounding and my mouth was dry. My throat hurt like I had been screaming...Oh. So that was why Sherlock was here. I'd had this particular nightmare many times before, but the screaming was a first. I sat up. "I'm sorry. Was I screaming?" My voice was barely a croak.
"Yes. My name, over and over. Here. Drink this." He said and poured me a glass of water.
"What was it about? The nightmare?" He said.
"I think you know." I said.
"Does this happen often?"
"Every damn day."
"Is that why you can't sleep?"
"Yes. It is also why I keep coming down in the middle of the night to check on you."
I put my head in my hands and groaned. I felt awful and pathetic. I was embarrassed. Sherlock pulled my hands away from my face and drew me into a hug. I was tense and stiff at first. "Relax." He said and he started running his hands up and down my back. I sighed and relaxed into that rare and very unexpected embrace. "You are not pathetic." He said softly.
He pulled away after a couple of minutes and stood up. He got up and turned to go. I wanted him to stay. But I couldn't bring myself to say it. I was surprised when he merely went around to the other side of the bed, kicked off his slippers and got under the sheets.
"You're...going to sleep here?" I hadn't seen that coming.
"Not at all."
"Good. Come here." He said and then he drew me close. He was lying on his back. I was lying next to him. He had his arms around me and I had my head on his chest. He kissed me on my forehead and said, "Now sleep." Like it was the most normal thing in the world to get into your friend's bed in the middle of the night and go to sleep holding him close. Did I mention that I love him?
A/N: Please take a moment to tell me what you think.