When they returned to London, Sherlock threw himself into the cases Lestrade saved for him, and John returned to work.
A few days after they returned, John came home early from the surgery to see that Sherlock was out and that there was a raven, stockier than Sherlock, sitting on Sherlock’s chair and staring right into him when he walked in the door. He didn’t even blink at the intruder as he said, “Hello, Mycroft.”
John walked into the kitchen and filled the kettle. When he had finished making tea, Mycroft had changed and was sitting, perfectly composed, in Sherlock’s chair. John handed him a cup and sat in his own chair, waiting wordlessly for Mycroft to say his piece.
“I suppose this would be the traditional time for me to warn you that you will suffer grievous bodily harm if you break Sherlock’s heart, but I know that you would never do so, so that conversation can be avoided.”
John sipped his tea and waited.
“Although I am not the person you should be worried about if you should ever, for some unknown reason, hurt him. I know he’s told you of our mother. She has many children she did not give birth to, but adopted or created out of the kindness of her heart. He and I are her only two natural children, and there is nothing she would not do to ensure our happiness and our safety. And now that Sherlock’s made his choice, you are considered family.
“So, welcome, Doctor Watson. Take care of yourself and him. If you should ever need help, simply ask for it. There is nothing that is out of bounds in that respect.”
John nodded. Mycroft placed his cup on the table and changed back, croaking, “Good day, Doctor,” before flying out the open window.
John sat in silence, turning Mycroft’s words over in his head. There had been something in his tone that seemed a bit off, like he was trying to warn John of something lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on him. And now that he had accepted the feather of one of the Morrighan’s two blood children, perhaps there was a large target on his back. He shivered a bit in dread⎯if he was in danger, then Sherlock would be, too. He straightened his shoulders and stood. If there was a threat of danger, then he needed to be prepared; he needed his gun on him at all times.
There was nothing he would not do to ensure Sherlock’s safety, even if it was at the cost of his own.
They had five months of bliss.
Five months before everything ended in a dirty alley with a well-placed shot through one John Watson’s chest. Sherlock wasn’t there. He was coming, though, having sensed the danger a split second too late to do anything about it.
Sherlock ran faster faster John’s in danger, he’s just ahead around the corner faster faster DANGER John John John hang on I’m coming until the blood pounding in his ears drowned out even his panicked thoughts. They had split up to chase after their two suspects. Neither one of the suspects were supposed to have been armed, but his bond to John was firey red, screaming at him that John was in danger and he needed him. And there wasn’t enough time. He changed and flew faster than he ever had before.
He was too late.
The suspect’s gun was still smoking slightly and John.
John was lying on the ground, blood gushing from his chest.
Sherlock didn’t even stop to think. He flew right into the man’s face and pecked at him, tearing his flesh with beak and talons. He heard Mother’s scream, Mycroft’s too, before the world turned black and the man who had hurt his John was dead and gone, as if he had never existed.
Sherlock wasn’t aware of changing, of his feet hitting the ground. He wasn’t sure how long it took him to sink down next to John and gather him up in his arms and hold him close. John was going cold.
This was not right. This should not have happened. John was supposed to be smiling and warm and smell like home, not be choking on his own blood and cold and smell like copper and fear and resignation.
John coughed and forced his eyes open. He whispered, “hurts.”
“I know, just hang on. John⎯John hang on.”
“can’t. sorry. love…” he slipped his eyes closed and took one last breath.
“Don’t leave me. You can’t leave me. You promised. You promised you can’t leave you can’t you can’t what will I do without you? I love you John please stay I can’t lose you John I love you I gave myself to you and I will be nothing without you John John John John John please oh please please no no no⎯you can’t no no no no⎯”
He cut himself off when he felt John’s body grow lighter. He looked up, blinking to try to clear the tears away enough so he could see. What he saw was his mother, eyes deep with sorrow, taking his John away.
He clung tighter, pressing John into his chest and wishing for the thousandth time that he could just open up his body and tuck John inside of himself to keep him safe. “You can’t, Mother, please. Please. Leave him. Don’t take him from me. I’m not ready. He’s not ready. No, please please please NO!”
But Mother had not said anything and John was gone. The only thing left of him was his lifeblood coating Sherlock’s clothing and hands.
Sherlock remained where he was, unmoving, his muscles stiffening as the cold seeped into his bones. He would never be warm again.
Mycroft finally roused him hours later and took him back to Baker Street, where everything said John John John John John johnjohnjohnjohnjohn. Sherlock folded himself into their bed, clutched John’s pillow to his face, inhaled, and then let the tears fall.
He became aware, hours later, after he could cry no longer, that his Mother was sitting on the edge of the bed, stroking her hand through his hair.
“You took him.”
“I did, child. I had no choice.”
“He couldn’t have had time to ask for help.”
“Why what, child?”
“Why don’t I remember people after I die? Is this why? Because it hurts to think of them, of what they could have been, of what we could have had?”
“What would you give up for him?”
“Everything. My feathers, my form, my whole life, if it will bring him back. I need him, Mother. I gave him my feather and I swore to stay with him and he promised me always. We didn’t get to raise our bees and watch each other grow old, Mother, and I need that. I promised him that and I can’t break my vow to him. He changed me in every way. I don’t know how to be anymore without him here beside me. There is no me without him.”
She leaned down and kissed his brow and said gently, “I am sorry, little one.”
And then she was gone and Sherlock was alone again.
John Watson awoke and found he was staring up at a tree. He sat up carefully and looked around. He was utterly alone. Aside from the tree, there was no other living thing, not even grass, here. The only sound was the soft stirring of the leaves as a gentle breeze pushed them together and pulled them apart over and over.
He pushed himself to his feet and took stock of himself.
No blood. No wound. He distinctly remembered being shot. There should have been a lot of blood, but his cardigan, jeans, and button down were as pristine as the day he bought them.
He hoped that he would see someone, eventually. The emptiness and silence was a bit oppressive. He thought Heaven would have been more populated and livelier. A sharp snap caught his attention. It sounded a bit like Sherlock when he changed. John’s heart leapt. Perhaps Sherlock was here.
“Hello?” he called, tentatively stepping forward.
“This isn’t Heaven,” a woman’s voice said. “This is a small part of my home.” She stepped out of the shadows and John swallowed.
This had to be the Morrighan, Sherlock and Mycroft’s mother. She was tall and willowy, with their black hair. Her eyes were dark, though, unlike her sons’ all-too-perceptive, piercing blue eyes.
“You loved my son,” she added.
John nodded, not trusting his voice.
“What would you give up for him?”
John didn’t hesitate. “Everything. Hell, I already did, didn’t I? I gave him everything I had⎯my time, my words, my thoughts, my body, my heart, my soul. And he gave me all of that in return. He saved me from myself when we first met and I never thanked him for that. I don’t even know if he knew that he had done that. I feel like my whole life I was just waiting for him, even if I didn’t know why or what I was waiting on. Once I met him, everything clicked into place. It was like I became myself for the first time. I was finally complete, and it was wonderful. And now I’ve lost myself and him and it hurts.”
“Look at me, John Watson.”
He looked up and locked eyes with her, and his soul burned.
“What do you remember, John?”
“My God,” John breathed. “It makes sense now. But why?”
“Come, child, and I will tell you why this deception was necessary, and why it has gone on for so long.”
She drew her feathered cloak around John and said, “And I am sorry, child, that it had to come to this.”
When John fell asleep much, much later, after hearing his story, their story, his and Sherlock’s, his head was pillowed on the Morrighan’s lap.
When he awoke, he was in their bed.