A/N- Part four! Again, please read in order, though this can mostly stand alone. I think my 'Reunion' series just gets sappier as it goes along… Please tell me what you think of this one! ;)
Also, I don't normally write omniscient, but it's a phone call, and it works best to see both sides. Apart from the first paragraph, the POV alternates from Sherlock to John with each.
Voice on the Phone
John sits up in bed talking on his phone to a man that anyone would tell you is dead. In another part of England, the clearly not dead Sherlock sits with his knees pulled up to his chest on a hotel bed, holding the latter end of that line.
Several seconds of silence have passed when he notices the lapse in their conversation to be more than simply that. "What's wrong, John?"
His question comes as a surprise, though the doctor realizes it shouldn't. "What makes you-"
"Oh, come, now," Sherlock interrupts with all due impatience. John should know better than to think the detective could be fooled so easily. "You're been quieter than normal all evening- you can't have expected me not to notice."
John gently scowls. He didn't mean to call attention to his silence, though he did unconsciously hope that Sherlock would address the matter, and help to solve the problem behind it.
Inwardly, Sherlock sighs. It's now, after he's spoken, that he sees how John has undoubtedly received these words, and wishes- not for the first time- that his friend could view things as they are inside of his own head. "If you want to discuss it," he offers, in a deliberately kinder voice, "I will listen."
John nods to himself before finding the words with which to oblige the detective. "It's… difficult," he manages, still considering how best to make his meaning clear. "This is the fourth time you're called me, Sherlock; you explained everything I needed in order to know to understand our situation- and it all makes sense, but…" He pauses, knowing how to proceed, though unwilling to state the matter bluntly.
Sherlock has a strong theory as to what John's getting at, but deems it wise to let him make the statement himself. "Then why do you doubt it?" he asks.
"Because," John replies softly, "I saw you die."
Sherlock is silent.
"It may not have been real," John continues, "But it- it was for four months, if that makes any sense."
"I understand," Sherlock tells him.
"It's difficult when- even now, when I know you're alive- all that you've been is a voice on the phone," John says, feeling awkward but glad to air his troubles. "A voice with perfectly sound explanations for any doubts on my part, of course, but still… I haven't seen you in person, Sherlock. And it's just hard for me to-" He interrupts himself with a sigh. "Do you see what I mean, Sherlock?"
"I do," Sherlock replies. "Because I can't meet you in person for some time yet, I'm not sure how I can put your mind at rest. Is it that you're still afraid that someone could be tricking you with my voice?"
"I know it must be you," John assures him. "That is, I feel like I would just know if it weren't really you."
Sherlock pays careful attention to his words, appraising the meaning behind them which John likely doesn't yet realize himself. "Curious," he says, sporting a ghost of a smile at the irony of his observation.
"What is?" John asks.
"That you tell me how you're certain, after, practically on the same breath, indicating otherwise."
"…I still have nightmares about it, Sherlock."
The detective's smile vanishes as he finds himself developing a more complete view of his friend's problem.
John, for his part, feels he may have said enough but continues to explain all the same. "No matter how hard I try- it's like I can't convince all of myself that what I saw wasn't real," he says softly.
Sherlock is surprised to discover that an answer to this seems beyond him, though he knows it's only because the issue pertains largely and rather strictly to emotion- one of the few areas where he's actually avoided furthering his knowledge. What had John Watson done to him that he should find himself now wishing he knew more on the subject?
"John," he says at length, "I'll make arrangements so that we can see each other- Thursday. Only briefly, mind, but you may find it worth the trouble."
"Sherlock- do you think that's safe?" John asks, suppressing his enthusiasm with difficulty.
"Granted you don't make it too obvious," Sherlock replies, his faint smile reappearing. "I'll call you tomorrow once I've designated a place, and I'll run you through the necessary precautions."
John can't help the joy he experiences upon hearing this any more than he can the smile covering his face. "Thank you, Sherlock."
"For what exactly?"
John shrugs. "For understanding. Or at least doing a good job of trying."
"You're surprised," Sherlock notices, slightly annoyed. It isn't that he's so concerned with being 'understanding', but the remark did come off as patronizing.
"No," John answers half-heartedly. "It's just I know that that sort of thing is different for you than for most people. I just appreciate it, that's all."
"…I'll talk to you tomorrow, John, granted there are no hostile developments before that time."
"Wait," John says before he can disconnect the line, guilty in the realization that the detective was a bit offended by his comment. Sherlock would be first to admit his differences- but he was also used to John's insistence that he was 'normal', deep down. "Sherlock, you… you told me once that you didn't have friends. That you only had one. Since then, I came to see that I could really say the same for myself. I didn't have anyone who I was actually close to before I met you. And I was lonelier than I've ever been when I thought you'd died."
Sherlock hesitates to respond for uncertainty of where John means to take this.
"…I just want to make sure that you know how special you are to me," John replies, hoping that Sherlock will react without patronage toward the sentiment.
Sherlock fixes his eyes upon a spot on the hotel wallpaper while searching for an appropriate response. This situation feels disturbingly foreign, but he answers finally, "Likewise."
"I mean it, Sherlock," John presses, fearing the detective may not take him as seriously as the doctor would like. As a result, he finds himself delving into matters he's not lingered on before. "You're-… you really are the most important thing in this world to me. I think it should go without saying that I love you." He considers tagging on the words 'and you know how I mean it,' but deems it unnecessary.
Sherlock briefly entertains the idea of returning these affectionate words. Perhaps if it wasn't sure to be so unavoidably awkward, he might- but as it is… "It does, John," he says simply, hoping that will suffice.
John sports a pained smile upon hearing it. Sherlock isn't one to expose what few feelings he's unable to ignore, but John would have liked to receive some hint of them all the same.
"Goodbye for now, John," Sherlock says at length, thinking it a convenient way to end the silence between them. "Take care," he finishes.
"Goodbye, Sherlock," John replies, and the opposite end hangs up before another word can escape him.
Sherlock eyes the phone a moment before setting it aside and bringing steepened fingers before his face. Despite a reluctance to admit caring about the ex-army doctor, excitement fills him at the thought of meeting John in only a few days. Even amidst the drastic change in his lifestyle, there's been a clear emptiness where he knows John belongs, and is eager to have him fill once more. Despite the lateness of the hour, Sherlock doesn't hesitate to pick his phone up again to speak with Mycroft and begin making arrangements for Thursday.
As John reaches to turn out the light, his eyes settle on the calendar against his wall and the notation for an appointment this coming Tuesday.
He switches off his lamp with a frown, but soon forgets his worry as his mind turns to things of seemingly greater importance.