It was certainly not the first time they'd been admonished as of late, but the prospect of being called into Lestrade's office was never a pleasant one. John deliberately avoided Sherlock's eye while they waited for the Detective Inspector and had purposely seated himself to one side, his leg giving him more trouble than ever since Sherlock's dramatic return two months ago, funny that - considering it was psychosomatic. Sherlock wandered around the office, upturning one of Lestrade's potted plants and examining the soil out of boredom. John fought the urge to shout at him, to tell him to stop pissing about and sit the fuck down, but he'd done enough shouting and swearing for the day and it was only 11am.
Lestrade flew into the room, slamming the door behind him.
"I have just spent the last twenty minutes trying to calm down the victim's wife because of you two!" He hissed angrily, sinking down into his chair and glaring at them. "What do you have to say for yourselves?"
"Sorry?" John suggested, knowing it was weak at best. Sherlock just clicked his teeth indignantly - tearful relatives had never been his forte.
"Don't you bloody start." Lestrade snapped at him. "This is the fifth time in as many weeks! Sherlock you owe Mrs Larter an apology at the very least."
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry your lover offed your husband." Sherlock said sarcastically, Mrs Larter was not in the room but had she been, Sherlock would have been just as callous. Lestrade sighed.
"I'll look into it, but our original verdict stands until then." He said firmly. "She still insists her lover was with her the night of her husband's death."
"Well of course she'd give him an alibi you moronic..."
"I still say it was suicide." John said softly. Sherlock rounded on him.
"Oh for goodness sake, not this again!" He growled. "He found out his wife was cheating on him, he lost his temper, went round for a row and came off worst!" Sherlock said waspishly, he had evidence that the husband had confronted the lover, but nobody was interested in a ginger cat hair and a green tea stain when there was a man lying dead in the morgue. Nobody listened to him lately, no matter how sound his deductions were, even though Scotland Yard had issued a full apology, the press had retracted all statements regarding his so called 'fakegenius' and a law suit was pending against The Daily Mail for defamation ofcharacter - Sherlock had lost the power he had once held. He no longer had the influence over Scotland Yard. He may have cleared his name and proved he was not a criminal mastermind, but he had faked his own death - and that made him untrustworthy in the eyes of the rest of the world.
"Or he found out his wife of twenty years was cheating on him and, heartbroken, decided he'd had enough." John retorted.
"Yes well, you're just obsessed with suicide." He retorted offhandedly. Lestrade and John both froze, Sherlock knew vaguely that the looks on their faces meant he'd said something a bit not good. John's leg trembled slightly in his seat.
"And whose fault is that?" John's tone was soft but gently venomous. Lestrade ran his hand through his hair.
"I can't do this any more, you two." He said, shaking his head. "I've tried to tolerate it and God knows I've turned a blind eye more often than I should have but, no... enough is enough." John raised an eyebrow, he'd lost enough jobs in his youth to know the 'you're sacked' speech when he heard it, but technically they weren't under the employ of Scotland yard - they couldn't be fired.
"I don't want to do this but... the pair of you at each other's throats constantly, you two only work as a team. No offence mate but you're bloody unbearable without John's backing." Lestrade told him, Sherlock shrugged carelessly. "And John, your medical expertise is always handy but seriously, you're becoming a liability the pair of you."
"If you don't want our help we'd be happy to find another form of entertainment..." Sherlock started cuttingly.
"Shut up,Sherlock." John growled - partially because this wasn't entertainment, it was work - and important work at that (John knew Sherlock knew that really, he was just being a prat for the sake of it), and partially because, damn it, even John knew not to mouth off when you were being severely reprimanded.
"We DO want your help - both of you. Together. But you're not working 'together' any more and frankly you're putting a strain on the entire team." Lestrade steepled his fingers under his lips in a habithe'd picked up from Sherlock years ago, as he surveyed the pair of them, John looking suitably sheepish and Sherlock rolling a dirt clod between his finger and thumb.
"Look, I'm going to be as blunt as possible here: you've got issues."
"The bastard faked his own death - of course we've got issues." John said hotly.
"I have told you countless times why I did what I did, it's hardly my fault you can't accept an apology." Voiced the detective, a hint of anger in his usual unflappable tone.
"You're not bloody apologising though, you're explaining and rationalising and trying to justify it!"
"ENOUGH!" Lestrade said, thumping the table and dragging the attention of the squabbling men back to him. "The point is, if you two want to continue working in association with us, we're going to have to step in, before one of you gets the other killed or so help you god, somebody else."
"Please let it be Anderson." Sherlock said.
"I'm being serious!" Lestrade countered exasperatedly.
"So am I!" Argued Sherlock.
"I'm referring you to Scotland Yard's working relationships team." Lestrade said with grim finality.
"No." Sherlock said quickly, before John could respond. "No psychoanalysing. Absolutely not. I refuse."
"I said no." Sherlock growled.
"Then you leave me no choice." Lestrade sighed. "The two of you are to be suspended from all police work in the United Kingdom until you've completed the therapy course."
"That's blackmail!" Sherlock squawked angrily. "You can't..."
"I can and I will, Sherlock. I'm not having you two ballsing up my investigations any more. It's my neck on the line when you do and I'm already knee deep in the scandal you left behind." John had to appreciate Lestrade's tone, very few people understood that dealing with Sherlock was often like dealing with a spoiled child.
"You'll change your mind." Sherlock said, suddenly, smugness creeping in. "You'll get stuck. You'll need me. You always do." He smirked. "You'll come across something unusual or something you can't quite figure out and you'll ask me back."
"Sherlock." Lestrade said, glaring daggers now. "Three years you were gone, and do you know what we did? We carried on. We did our jobs. We caught murderers and smugglers and muggers and petty criminals. Yes, it probably took us twice as long as it would have done if you'd been on hand, but the bottom line is: you're not indispensable." John dared to look at Sherlock now, and was not surprised to see the fury light behind his eyes, fire and venom and a little bit of fear. People just didn't talk to Sherlock like that. Somewhere inside the robotic shell and the heart of ice, Sherlock was obviously wounded by that thought. That he wasn't needed, that he wasn't permanent, that people could and would get on with it without him. As with all children, when they need to be scolded you have to do it firmly, or they will never take you seriously.
"The team is really good, they've got therapists who deal with all sorts of stuff that goes on within the force..." Lestrade continued as though he hadn't just hurt Sherlock deeply. "They'll give you someone who you can talk to, see if you two can't get it all straightened out, yeah?" He sounded almost sympathetic.
"I... think it could be good for us." John said eventually. "Lestrade's right... we're not working anymore, maybe therapy could help? It's certainly worth a shot..." He trailed off awkwardly, because from experience, admitting you needed help was sometimes the hardest step - but getting Sherlock to sit down and talk about feelings wasn't exactly going to be a picnic.
"What do you say, Sherlock?" Lestrade asked.
"Well it doesn't look like I've been given much of a choice, does it." Sherlock snapped, irritated.
"I'll send them an email and let them know you'll be joining, they'll send you a letter with the time and date of your first appointment." Lestrade said, booting up the computer. Sherlock was still scowling.
"Make sure they send mine care of my brother." He muttered darkly.
"You still not living together?" Lestrade meant it to be conversational, but he had hit a nerve.
"Obviously not." Sherlock grumbled - it was a sore spot for him. Sherlock had not expected to return to a fanfare or a parade, he had expected John to be angry, hurt, grief stricken and shocked, but he had not expected his best friend to ban him from their flat and no matter how much Sherlock pestered, John was adamant. For now at least, 221b was off limits to Sherlock, it was no longer his home and he couldn't just walk back in like nothing had happened. Of course, this and the fact that he then had to crash in one of Mycroft's many spare rooms, was doing nothing for Sherlock's foul mood lately. John did not flinch at Sherlock's griping, he was standing his ground on this one.
"You know, we wouldn't need to go to therapy if you'd just forgive me already." Sherlock complained as the two slipped out of the office, leaving Lestrade to compose the email.
"It's not that easy and you know it." John shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked lopsidedly on a leg that kept threatening to give out.
"It never is with you." Sherlock muttered, turning his coat collar up. Sherlock walked a few paces ahead then turned swiftly to look John right in the eye. John had been doing a pretty damned good job of avoiding that gaze, he would not allow himself to be manipulated by a dead man's eyes - Sherlock had a way of almost hypnotising people with them and John knew the best way to beat Sherlock at his own game was simply not to play, but he'd been caught off guard and for the duration of Sherlock's next sentence, their eyes were locked.
"Can I come home, John?" He pleaded, looking almost - almost, sorry. John frowned, not just a gentle turn down of the corners of his lips, but with his entire face, creating lines that made him look painfully older than he really was. John wanted it to go back to the way it was before, the strongest friendship he'd ever known, but Sherlock was dangerous - John had always known Sherlock was dangerous, but before, when he'd been able to trust him, the danger had seemed new and exciting, a thrilling adventure. Without that sense of trust, the danger Sherlock emanated seemed too risky, too painful, foolish to be involved in. John couldn't let Sherlock back into their flat. As much as he longed to see Sherlock sulking on the sofa, or cutting up some poor bloke's fingers in the name of science - he couldn't, with good conscience invite this man back into his home. There was too much pain, too much tragedy. John could not look at Sherlock without seeing those deadened eyes, the pavement splattered in his blood.
All that occurred in the split second their eyes were locked. John broke the gaze, looking at the pavement before softly saying.
"No, Sherlock." Sherlock turned on his heel and walked away, leaving John staring after him.
A/n: This is for benedictcumberbatchruinedme who bid highest on me at the fanfiction auction, progress on this one might be a bit slow as (almost ironically) I'm in therapy myself and it's exhausting. It will be a many chaptered work but I am so in love with the prompt and very committed to it! Reviews are helpful and I'll see you next chapter!