John stands on the roof of Barts.
It is a rainy day for June but the fresh water feels good on his face even though it does chill him through his green jacket.
Looking down from the ledge should feel frightening. But it's comforting to know that Sherlock was here only months before. He feels like he's closer to the man than he has been in a long time. He can sense him, smell him, and touch him here, at the edge of the world.
He only has to take one step off…
There's a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back from the ledge, from seeing Sherlock again. John turns around to meet the brown eyes of a man in a brown suit and trench coat. His hair is plastered to his forehead because of the rain. The man has an air of eccentricity about him.
"Come with me," he says. His voice isn't deep like Sherlock's nor does it have a ring of pity or concern like a normal person would when talking a man down from jumping.
The man cocks his head over his shoulder to an old fashioned Police Box. One of those used in the 1960s, John thinks. He vaguely remembers them as a kid.
"Come with me," the man repeats.
And for some reason, John does.
The Doctor talks fast and speaks of things that would entertain Sherlock for years. John simply nods and tries his best to keep up with the Doctor. The Time Lord takes him to planets and to different periods in history. There always seems to be a problem or a case to be solved. There's an awful lot of running. It reminds John of the good old days.
His limp is gone again as well.
When they became lovers John likes to consider it as an accident.
Although when he thinks about it later while watching the Doctor sleep it was rather inevitable. Secret touches and glances that neither thinks the other notices. Questions about each other's pasts that are rather uncomfortable for both of them. John isn't quite ready to open up about Sherlock yet and he's sure the Doctor is in the same situation.
The Doctor is a different kind of lover than Sherlock. He's more gentle, takes things slowly. Sex lasts so long with the Doctor, John thought at first it would be excruciating. But it turns out to be rather lovely. The Doctor's focus is entirely on John and nothing else. The Time Lord spends hours mapping John's body, caressing, sucking, nuzzling, and licking. He takes time to prepare his body so when the time comes that the Doctor finally enters him John is completely relaxed and wanton.
When John comes, he's silent, always out of fear will cry out Sherlock's name. He can't help but notice that the Doctor is quite as well.
Things go to shit one day. Absolute and utter shit.
John vaguely wonders as they run through the live gunfire and bombs, why the hell he agreed that popping down in World War One would be a fun idea. Ha. The Doctor, or perhaps the TARDIS had some hidden agenda that John doesn't know about yet. Some evil monster to defeat that is corrupting time and history, the same old story.
They'd stolen, although the Doctor would never use the word 'stolen' he'd say 'borrowed' some British uniforms. John is wearing a medic's of course and the Doctor is wearing a Captain's. The old instincts are coming back. He's ducking the fire, hiding behind every available cover, rushing to aide wounded soldiers.
The Doctor doesn't seem too pleased. "Come on, John!" He tries to pull at his sleeve. "Leave him! We haven't much time!"
John shrugs off his lover's arm and continues to stitch up the wounded soldier. "I can save him, can't you see? I won't be a minute."
The Doctor frowns. "He's not important, John! I can fix this! I can fix all of this! Can't you see? Just leave him!" His voice is so fanatical it frightens John.
"Why are we here, Doctor?" John asks, looking up into the eyes of his savior. "Why are we in bloody No Man's Land?" The Time Lord is covered head to toe in mud, his borrowed issued rifle is in the hand not trying to pull John up. The Doctor's eyes… they aren't kind or even old. They are insane.
"I can fix this, John. I can end all of this." He gestured widely with his arms to indicate the battlefield. "It will be over in a matter of minutes. We have to go now."
John glares at him, his mouth opens and closes. "You're barking mad. You want to end The First World War a year after it's started? You'll change history! Completely change history! You can't do that!"
The Time Lord stares at him in bafflement. "The Battle of Somme. World War Two? It will never have happened John. I will save millions of lives. Don't you see? It's brilliant. So that man can die today because we have a world to save."
John feels like he doesn't know the man before him anymore. The man who showed him a play put on by the William Shakespeare and a planet where you could only speak a hundred words per day. The man who had started to heal his heart after Sherlock had committed suicide and saved John from joining the same fate. "Who are you?"
The Doctor bends down and envelopes John's face in his pale hands and kisses him slowly. "I'm the Doctor," he answers with a grin that scares the shit out of John. "Are you coming, John?" He nuzzles John's neck and begins to suck, making a mark. "Will you come and save the world with me once again?"
John shakes his head and roughly shoves the Doctor away. "No," he chokes out. "I'll be in the TARDIS when you get back."
The Doctor stares down at him for a moment, observing him and then runs away further into No Man's Land.
Tears fall from his face and his hands tremble as he stitches up the soldier once again. It takes a few minutes for John to realize that the man is dead. He sobs and leans against cover, hands covering his face.
What the hell has he gotten himself into?
John briefly looks up to see a man desperately running away from a nearby area to his left.
It takes John a millisecond to click what the soldier meant by 'gas' before the Mustard Gas explodes and hits him.
I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.
The world is dark. He doesn't want to wake up.
Please, wake up. John… John…
There's a weight on his stomach and someone's holding his hand. His throat burns and eyes sting. He thinks he'll sleep for a while longer.
"John? John can you hear me?"
He's not sure how to respond. He doesn't want to open his eyes just yet. His throat is itchy. He needs water. He feels so heavy. He tries to move, squeeze his hand and is surprised to feel that someone is holding it.
"John?" The voice is hopeful. "John? Are you awake now? Squeeze me again."
It's terribly hard and takes so much energy but he does, he squeezes once, twice.
"Do you need anything? I'm going to go get Novice Jude."
The voice is gone and he sleeps again.
He dreams of a man with black hair, pale skin wearing a long coat. They run, oh how they run. They get trapped in a dead-end and the man corners him, pins him to a wall. John notices that their hands are handcuffed together. The man leans in and whispers in his ear, "I love you. Keep your eyes on me." Then the man is falling, falling, falling. And there is nothing John can do to stop it.
John wakes up and opens his eyes a crack. The artificial light is painful and he quickly shuts them again.
When he opens them a second later the first thing he sees is a cat. A cat, John notes wearing a uniform that resembles a nun's or a nurse from one of the old World Wars. He shivers.
"How are we feeling today, Dr. Watson?" She (well she sounds like a she) asks. She hands him a glass of water and orders him to drink half of it before answering her question.
"Crap," he croaks out. "What happened?"
The cat takes a few tests, his temperature, blood pressure, and reflexes before responding. "You received a dose of sulfur mustard, Dr. Watson. How exactly you came in contact with it after all these centuries? But you are traveling with the Doctor. I suppose that explains it." She smiled. "You're better than you were before, Dr. Watson. When you are up to it you may have a look at your charts, if you'd like. You're just lucky that we know how to treat your condition easily without any side effects in the fifty-second century. I have to be on my rounds now. But my name is Novice Jude. If you need anything just press this button." She indicated a large red button on the wall. "And I will be on my way as soon as possible."
"Wait, where's the Doctor?" John pleads.
Novice Jude pours him another glass of water. "He's just waiting out in the hallway. He'll be along in a minute."
True to the cat's word, as she's leaving the room the Doctor enters. They exchange some whispered words and glance at John every so often before Novice Jude bows and leaves.
The Doctor rushes to his side and grasps his hand, brushing the knuckles against his lips. "John, how are you feeling? Are you alright? What do you remember?"
John blinks. "I remember," his throat is so raw it hurts to speak but he needs to get this out. "That you were a madman."
The Doctor bows his head in shame. "I'm sorry John. I… get like that sometimes."
"What?" If he was stronger John would have laughed. "Sometimes you decide to go on a rampage and change major points in history just for kicks? I thought that went against everything Time Lords stood for."
"It does." The Doctor's voice is hollow. "Time has been rewritten because of my mistake, John. Not as harshly as it could have been. But it still hurts."
John braces himself. "What's changed?" He fears the worse.
"Mustard Gas is now used throughout the War." He sighs. "That's it. But it still hurts my head. Time has been undone." The Doctor scrubs his hand through his messy hair. "I should have known. I should have stopped. Oh, if I had her—" He stops abruptly and looks away from John, a blush creeping up his cheeks.
John squeezes the Time Lord's hand. "Tell me about her," he requests.
They’ve never told each other their secrets but it's time now. Better late than never.
"Her name was Donna Noble," the Doctor starts. "She is… was my best mate. And if she ever remembers me she'll die."
They talk for hours. The Doctor tells him of the fiery temp Donna who saved the world but will never know it. He tells John about Pompeii, ATMOS (John had a feeling the Doctor had something to do with that), Agatha Christie's disappearance, and more. In exchange John opens up about Sherlock. How he killed a man for Sherlock just twenty-four hours after meeting him. What a genius and an irritable prat he was. The game with Moriarty. Sherlock's suicide.
"I want to go home," he tells the Doctor when Novice Jude comes in and informs them that visiting hours are over.
The Doctor doesn't protest.
The exterior of 221B Baker Street looks the same as when he left it back in June. The Doctor assures that he's only been gone for about three hours. John notices that the rain has stopped.
He walks up the steps to the flat and before he can put his key in the lock the door suddenly opens. John expects to see Mrs. Hudson's face but he almost faints when he stares up into Sherlock's equally shocked face.
Sherlock catches him as his knees buckle and leads John into their flat. Sherlock presses John against the closed front door and studies John's face.
"I thought I'd lost you," the detective admits.
John gazes at him utterly confused. "You're dead. I saw you…"
"So much to explain, John." Sherlock nuzzles his neck, kisses his pulse. "I'm here now. Moriarty and his network are gone. When I came back my brother informed me that you have been missing for years. Where have you been? I've searched. God, I searched…"
John reaches up and pulls Sherlock's lips down onto his. It's an amazing feeling after all this time. When he pulls back he says, "I've seen the universe, Sherlock."