At night, the sky over Helmand is full of stars, and strangely, the sight is the only thing that consoles John when he has lost another soldier.
Mycroft Holmes thinks himself a man of exceptional will-power; therefore, it is quite irritating that every Friday afternoon he forgoes his diet and buys a large piece of chocolate fudge cake simply because he knows that, at some point during their weekly debriefing, Anthea won't be able to resist sharing it with him.
Meeting several comrades from his old Afghanistan unit again has reminded John of one thing: war could do worse things to the human mind than be the cause for nightmares; and yet, in the darkened silence of his bedroom, the thought is merely a cold comfort.
They have been within a hair's breadth of being discovered, John knows when he is pressed flat against the wall in a nameless side alley, and they still might need a cover story should their presence be noticed, though when Sherlock's mouth descends on his in a hot, devouring rush, he silently thanks the owner of those footsteps echoing over the wet cobblestone.
To the ideal reasoner, it is an unpardonable weakness to allow one's emotions to prevail over logic; however, when John reveals the Semtex-laden vest beneath his parka, Sherlock cannot even deduce the cause for the skipping of his own heartbeat.
Mrs. Hudson sighs and lets the teacup sink; she has always loved to hear Sherlock play the violin, and she missed it deeply during the last three years, but since the doctor announced he wouldn't return to Baker Street, the melodies from the first floor simply break her heart.
The explosion is bright, blazing like a supernova, and John leaps forward in a blind search for Sherlock, because if anything should happen to that stubborn idiot, the core of his own universe might collapse.
Sherlock tells himself he would never stop hating the dullness of repetition; he simply makes an exception when it comes to tasting the mix of tea and honey on John's lips every morning.
Anthea frowns when she closes the laptop; it doesn't need a trained MI5 profiler to conclude from John's blog that the bond between him and Sherlock runs deeper than friendship, and Mycroft wouldn’t appreciate that crucial piece of information being out there for the whole world to see.
People die, and people suffer; that's all part of the game, and it never reflects in his own emotions, though when Jim hears Sherlock's shock, the hurt and betrayal in that single uttered word–John–he feels a flicker of happiness.
John's hand looks oddly small and lost on the white hospital bedsheet, but that's so wrong because Sherlock remembers how gracefully it once glided over a cut on his forearm–it's a surgeon's hand, after all; it is reliable and gentle and... oh, so cold and still right now, and he would sell his heart along with his soul to Moriaty to feel its touch again.
From their first meeting at St Bart's it takes 19 months, 1 week, 17 hours, 43 minutes and 28 seconds, two near death experiences and Irene's appearance for John to finally kiss him, but for Sherlock it feels like forever.
Mycroft has always been the perfect son, bright, polite, well-mannered and successful; therefore, it is with an odd twinge in his chest that he realizes that he has never received the kind of loving smile Mummy gave Sherlock when he appeared late for her birthday dinner.
After Helmand, John had thought himself accustomed to pain, but nothing could have prepared him for the tearing of his heart when he looked down into Sherlock's empty grave.
Sherlock pauses briefly before he opens John's text on his mobile, knowing that by now the doctor must have learned from Mycroft of his failed attempt to pursue Moran on his own in Paris, but instead of the anticipated words of anger and disappointment, only a short line appears on the display and causes his mouth to curve into a small smile: "Come home, you idiot."
Mycroft draws a short breath before he slips the golden band from his right hand; he has feared this moment for the fourteen lonely years, but if he wants to give Anthea the chance she deserves, he has to let go and allow this part of his heart to finally rest in peace.