It all started with Greg. And he knew it was entirely his fault.
A long Thursday capped off a long week and a long case (that didn’t involve Sherlock) was finally wrapped up. And before he knew what he was doing, Greg was scrolling to John Watson’s name and texting him to meet at the pub.
He walked the short distance without waiting for an answer; he knew John would show up. They had been visiting the same establishment for months now, normally after the more trying cases or the most annoying Sherlockisms.
The case played over and over in his mind as he walked: four young children were dead, and the two mothers had been arrested, childhood best friends with some sort of strange pact made between the two a long time ago. Greg still didn’t fully understand it, and he doubted he ever would.
He approached the bar and ordered two pints. The barmaid was pretty and young; she quickly eyed Greg over, pausing quickly at his hands. No doubt noticing the tan line where his wedding ring used to be, she smiled sweetly and filled his order. Greg found a small table and promptly downed half his pint in two gulps.
“Hopefully one of those is for me.”
Greg rested his chin against his chest, looking back over his shoulder. John clapped him on the shoulder and took the seat opposite. Greg slid the second pint over, finishing his own off and going up for another round.
“It’s finally over, John.” Greg placed John’s second beer beside his barely touched first one. “After spending probably the next six days on the paperwork, I can forget all about this.”
John nodded, taking a sip of his beer. Greg followed suit.
“I mean, what would possess someone to do something like this? I’ve seen a lot of shit over the years, but the parent-child things…” he trailed off, staring into his glass. Between his job, the messy divorce, and Annie’s new paramour, he hadn’t had much chance to visit with his kids; but to imagine that someone as together as Annie completely snapping was something he was having a hard time doing.
But Greg was at least grateful for John Watson: a comrade, a companion, a sounding board. He looked back up at John, silently pleading with him to say something, anything, to assuage his fucked up feelings about this whole thing.
But John said nothing; he sat seemingly contemplating how to proceed.
So Greg decided to keep plugging away. “And honestly? Y’know, I’m glad Sherlock kept his nose out of this one,” Greg said as took another gulp of his pint, motioning with his hands through the air. “I can barely comprehend what happened; I definitely didn’t need Sherlock breaking it all down with that clinical coldness he’s so renowned for.” He finished his second pint and stood.
“Another?” he asked John, who silently declined by motioning with his mostly-full glass to the still-full second one. Greg shrugged, ordered a third from the pretty young barmaid, and sat back down.
“I just…” he began again, sipping his drink. “I can’t understand how a parent could do something like that to their own kid.”
John calmly sipped from his pint. Settling the glass down on the coaster, he twisted it around in his fingers. “Well,” he sighed, “an unfortunate effect some mothers experience after childbirth is postnatal depression.”
Greg’s mouth hung open. “You’re saying the baby blues did this? Annie had that; she was fine in a month. After that, you couldn’t pry the kid away from her.”
“I’m saying that in ten or fifteen percent of mothers, the ‘baby blues’ becomes something much more severe. It can show up anytime within the first year after birth and can last for years if left untreated. It can be dangerous for infants, especially babies of first time or low income mothers.”
“But these kids were all between four and six years old,” Greg said as he took a long drink. “Seems a little long for postnatal depression.”
“Well,” John cocked his head and looked at the ceiling. “There’s also FII.”
“By proxy, yeah. It’s rare, but the abuse that children are put through rivals anything else.”
Greg was dumbfounded; he still couldn’t imagine the desperation it must take to hurt a child, let alone his own. “Does that mean this shit makes sense to you?”
John shook his head and reached for his glass. “Not in the least.
“But there is one other option,” he said as clinically as possible as he finished off his pint, “As we say in the medical profession, those two were just completely off their fucking rockers.” And Greg couldn’t help himself: he let out a loud burst of laughter that echoed in the quiet pub. John smirked and quietly laughed along with him.
They sat in companionable silence for a while, John eventually nursing his second pint, Greg working on his fourth. John finally broke the quiet when Greg made for his fifth.
“Think that’s enough for tonight, mate,” John smirked.
Greg glared at him, but knew he was right; he still had to work in the morning, and as much fun as paperwork was, paperwork hungover was even less so.
John moved to help Greg stand. “I’m not that far gone, John.” Greg hoped that that didn’t come out as sharp as he thought it did. If it did, though, John didn’t react; he did live with Sherlock after all.
They began walking in the direction of Greg’s small flat. It wasn’t too far, only nine blocks, and Greg was grateful for the company in his slightly drunken state (even if he did stumble once or twice, casually bumping into John). As they reached the door to Greg’s building, John reached out to put his hand on Greg’s shoulder. Greg knocked his hand out of the way and pulled him into a crushing embrace, a giant weight removed from his shoulders.
“Thank you,” was all Greg said before he leaned in and kissed John Watson.
And to his surprise, John Watson kissed back.
It was fast and messy and something completely different from how Greg had expected the night to end. In the morning, he could blame it on the alcohol, but for now, he was just going to enjoy himself.
Eventually, they parted, John looking quite flushed. He ducked his head and rubbed his neck before looking back at Greg. “G’night Greg.”
And that was when John Watson walked out to the sidewalk towards the main street, no doubt looking for a cab, leaving Greg on the stoop to process what the hell just happened.
The next few weeks played out as normal: people died, things got stolen, paperwork was filled out, Sherlock (and John) showed up at crime scenes. At first, Greg felt the need to distance himself from John, to make things (in his own mind, at least) less awkward between the two of them. But he soon realized this approach was foolish: John was too wrapped up in whatever case was at hand to be awkward.
His night started out normally, or as normally as a murder-suicide could start out. Sherlock and John had shown up soon after Greg himself had; Sherlock promptly declared the scene “boring”.
“Why on Earth did you call me here, Lestrade?”
Greg just gawked. “I only just got here, myself. No one actually called you this time!”
“It’s quite obvious to anyone with the brains: the husband was having an affair with the gardener and the wife…” Sherlock trailed off as he exited the flat, leaving John behind to shake his head.
Greg was turning to talk with Donovan when he heard his name called. He looked back at John, who was hovering in the doorframe.
“Call me when you’re done here. We’ll do the pub thing.” Greg nodded, and John disappeared, following behind Sherlock.
He turned back to Donovan and immediately rolled his eyes; she had an eyebrow crooked up and an amused smile dancing across her lips. “And what, pray tell, is so damned amusing?”
“Just thinking that you might succeed in getting a rise out of the Freak, stealing his boyfriend and all.” Greg glared at her. Donovan cleared her throat, “Sorry, sir.” She turned back to the bodies.
Greg squeezed the bridge of his nose; his night could not end fast enough.
Too bad it was one of those nights that just dragged on.
For a simple open-and-shut murder-suicide, it was sure turning out to be complicated. Anderson insisted that the way the bodies were positioned meant that a third person was involved, the coroner’s office was running two hours behind, and Donovan couldn’t keep that damned smile off of her face.
Four and a half hours past the time he originally thought he’d be finished, he stepped out of the flat and dialed John Watson’s number.
“Finally done, I see.”
He smirked. “Hello to you, too.”
John laughed softly into the receiver, “Had an idea.”
Greg suppressed a small groan: ideas are the things that led to snogging on front steps. He could almost hear the ulterior motive in John’s voice. “Oh?”
“Since you’re so punctual with your calling, why don’t we just skip the pub and watch some crap telly at your place?”
Oh, if there weren’t something behind this suggestion, Greg would hand in his badge.
“Yeah, sure. Meet at my place in thirty?”
“Done.” And John hung up. Greg sighed, wondering what he had gotten himself into this time, and began to head home.
Miraculously, he was able to beat John back, which was just fine with him; he needed a quick shower and a change, anyway. As he was toweling off his hair, there was a knock at the door. Greg quickly threw on a shirt and shorts and answered the door.
Standing there, bag in hand, was John Watson. He eyed the towel on Greg’s head and smirked that goddamn smirk. It was the same smirk that showed up at crime scenes, the one that Greg just wanted to wipe off of his face; he was still undecided if was going to use his lips or his fists to do the actual wiping.
Greg stepped aside, “In.” John immediately went to the refrigerator, depositing the contents of the bag (a six pack) while Greg went into the sitting room and turned on the television. John came back out of the kitchen with two uncapped bottles, handing one to Greg; they both collapsed on the sofa and took a swig of their respective drinks.
Greg chuckled, “Y’know, we end up drinking whenever we’re together. People might think we’ve got a problem.”
John snorted, sipping his beer. “That problem called Sherlock?”
“Oh god. What’s he gone and done now?”
“This time? Corroded a hole straight through the table with his ‘don’t-worry-John-that’s-a-non-reactant-solution’. Then he has the gall to wonder why I’d not cleared it up. The way that shit was spreading, I’d honestly be surprised if Mrs. Hudson didn’t have a hole in her ceiling by now.” John was staring at the television without actually watching it; he wore an expression that let Greg know he was a thousand miles away.
Greg pursed his lips and nodded, carefully phrasing his next question. “But that’s not it, is it?”
John picked at the label on his bottle, peeling off little strips. “No.”
“That proverbial straw?”
“I suppose so.” John sighed and put his bottle on the table in front of him. “He’s been so bored these last two weeks; so absolutely, completely, insufferably bored, and you know how he gets when he’s like that. I’ve walked in on him trying to get Mrs. Hudson to teach him how to knit. She says she won’t do it again because last time he ended up dismantling her telly with the needles just to see if he could.”
Greg choked on the sip he’d been taking; the image of Sherlock in Mrs. Hudson’s sitting room being all domestic was almost too much. He half coughed, half laughed at what John had said, which caused the corner of John’s mouth to rise.
“But you know how he gets.”
“I think I’m the lucky one.” Greg said. “When he gets bored and annoying as all hell, I can just kick him out of my office. You’re stuck with him.”
John picked up his bottle, resuming tearing at the label, thousand mile stare returning; this time, though, it was mixed with another emotion that Greg couldn’t quite identify. “He just… y’know that lack of filter thing he’s got a problem with? It’s even worse when he’s bored. Like this morning; he flat out questioned how he could be living with someone so inept.”
“It came out more Sherlock-y, but that was what it boiled down to.” John stood and went into the kitchen, throwing the bottle with the shredded label in the bin and grabbing a fresh one. He plopped back down next to Greg.
“I can usually let it roll off, but, for some reason, today just struck a nerve,” he said as he took a long pull from his drink. “It’s been a long week at the surgery, and coming home to deal with a grumpy four year old has always been the last thing on my mind.”
Greg finished off his own, and set the bottle on the table. “What exactly did he say?”
John sighed. “’I can’t believe you, John. I thought I’d gotten a flatmate that wasn’t normally a complete idiot.’”
“There it is.” Greg pointed before getting another beer for himself. He popped the cap and sat down facing John. “I’ve known Sherlock a good while now, and everything he says is carefully calculated.” He took a drink before setting the bottle down on the table and leaning closer to John. “’Normally’. That’s the key. He’s not saying that you’re unworthy of being his flatmate; not in the slightest. He’s saying that you pulled some sort of boneheaded move that you didn’t even realize you’d done, and after all this time together, you should start to unconsciously recognize these things.”
He rested his hand in his chin. “It could be something as small as leaving the tea to steep too long. But the inclusion of ‘normally’ is as close to a compliment as I’ve heard from Sherlock Holmes.”
John’s mouth crooked into a small smile. “I really shouldn’t have missed that. I should be recognizing these small things by now, shouldn’t I?”
Greg smiled and pat John on the shoulder. “See? Sherlock can always be deciphe—“
He didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence; John had taken the opportunity to grab Greg by the wrist and pull him closer. Their faces were now just millimeters apart, and John chose that exact moment to fucking smirk; Greg made his decision.
He leaned forward ever so slightly and placed a gentle kiss on John’s lips. When he pulled back, the smirk was gone. John wet his lips, and, for a moment, Greg was terrified that he had made the wrong decision. They didn’t have alcohol to hide behind this time, not truly, so there was nothing for Greg to blame that on if this was to go south.
When John stayed silent, Greg made a move to clear the bottles from the table. “I’ll just get rid of these—“
And John Watson chose that exact moment to surge forward, capturing Greg’s mouth in a ravenous kiss.
Relief flooded through Greg, putting out the small panic that was burning in his belly. John was gently pushing forwards, and Greg followed John’s lead until he was lying propped against the armrest, allowing John to climb onto Greg’s lap. It was like he was seventeen again; but this wasn’t Derek McClain’s basement, and this wasn’t Abigail Turner: it was John fucking Watson snogging him for all his worth on his own couch in his own flat.
His brain had begun to completely shut down; all he was registering were hands and lips and teeth and oh do that again. He snapped back to the present when he felt John’s fingers playing at the waistband of his shorts.
With much effort, Greg pulled back, “Not here,” he breathed, pressing his forehead against John’s.
John was definitely on his way to looking thoroughly debauched: his eyes were dark and wide, his face was flushed, and there was a strain in the front of his trousers (a sentiment that Greg perfectly echoed) that was crying out for Greg’s attention.
John exhaled. “Yeah,” he slid off Greg’s lap and stood up, holding out his hand. Greg stood, carefully threading his fingers in between John’s, and led him in the direction of his bedroom.
And that was how one night with John Watson helped Greg feel more alive than he had in months, leaving Greg to wonder why the hell he hadn’t done this much, much sooner.
Ypure not at teh yard today right?
Two days after That Night, Greg was staring down at his phone. He’d gotten the slightly off text from John four minutes prior, and he’d spent those four minutes trying to figure out just what on Earth had gotten into the man who was nothing if not a stickler for sending grammatically correct text messages.
Just as he was typing his response, another message chimed in.
what did you do when you’re kids threw a tantrum
Oh lord. He quickly erased his previous message and texted his response. Sherlock still bored?
Another few minutes passed before his mobile chimed. ridiculously angyr aboout something. Wont say what
Greg pinched the bridge of his nose; he was bound to make a permanent groove there one day. An angry Sherlock was ever so slightly worse than a bored Sherlock. I’ll be over in 20
In fact, the ride over took nearly forty-five minutes, thanks to the majesty of London’s traffic. He knocked on the door of 221 Baker Street, and was quickly greeted by Mrs. Hudson.
“Oh, Inspector, I’m quite glad you’re here. They’ve been at it all morning. Or, rather, Sherlock has.” She ushered him inside and stepped aside; Greg nodded at her and rushed up the stairs. The door to the flat was slightly ajar, so he pushed the door open, eased inside, and quietly shut the door.
“… in the milk, John!”
Sherlock was pacing by the windows, deeply mid-rant; John stood by his chair, hand rubbing at his forehead. At the sound of the door shutting, Sherlock whirled around and stared at Greg; he turned to John, “And what’s he doing here?”
John eyed Greg, smirked the same fucking smirk that caused Greg’s stomach to do flip-flops, and turned back to Sherlock. “He’s here of his own volition.” John moved to stand by the coffee table. “And since you’ve been acting oh so much more like a child recently, I thought it nice to have backup that has experience dealing with grumpy toddlers.”
Greg flushed and pursed his lips. “Hello to you, too.” He strode over and sat in John’s chair, silently staring Sherlock down. If he was quiet for long enough, perhaps Sherlock would burn himself out, letting slip what the real problem was (at least, that’s the strategy that worked when his kids used to throw fits).
John circled to the back of the chair, passively placing his hand on Greg’s shoulder. “Tea?” he voiced addressed the question to no one in particular. Sherlock shot his attention to John’s small movement.
“Yeah, I think tea would be good.” John gently squeezed Greg’s shoulder and headed into the kitchen. Sherlock’s eyes stayed fixated on the spot where John’s hand had just been. Greg kept staring at Sherlock, knowing (hoping) that something would give the irate man away. Both men were silent; the only noise in the flat came from John’s movements in the kitchen.
When John emerged a few minutes later, carrying three mugs of tea, neither man had moved much: Greg had settled back in John’s chair and Sherlock had shifted his stance slightly; both had their attention held fast on the other. He handed a mug to Greg, set Sherlock’s on the table by the window, and sat on the sofa.
“So, Sherlock, have you decided to stop throwing a fit?” John asked, taking a sip of his tea.
Sherlock made a sour face. “I am not ‘throwing a fit’, I am merely expressing my displeasure.”
John cocked an eyebrow, “By leaving packing supplier websites up on my laptop with passive-aggressive Sherlock sticky notes on the screen? By throwing the paper all over the floor? That sounds like a fit to me.”
“I won’t repeat myself, John.” Sherlock began to pace again.
Greg could do nothing but sit back and observe as the two men continued to snip at each other. He looked around the flat, noting the classifieds from at least seven different newspapers scattered around the floor. Several flat listings were either underlined or circled, and it seemed they were all near Greg’s side of town.
He looked back up at Sherlock. As hard as he was trying to hide it, as much as he presented himself as the aggressor, Greg could see that Sherlock was on the defensive: while pacing, he tried to keep at least one object between himself and whomever he was speaking to, he was constantly crossing and uncrossing his arms, and when he actually would stand still, his would lean against the sill with his legs crossed at the ankles.
John, on the other hand, was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, watching Sherlock with visible concern on his face. But there was something else there that Greg couldn’t quite put his finger on; it was the same look that he’d seen John wear in his flat two nights before.
But then it registered: it was the same look that Annie would give him early in their courtship, when he would be so absorbed in his work he’d forget to eat, forget to sleep, and she’d be so worried about him yet so understanding about his needs it was almost like she could read his mind.
It was a look of hopeless love. Greg couldn’t help but smile.
“And what are you smiling about?” Sherlock snapped.
“What?” Greg quickly came back to the present. “Oh, nothing. Just listening to you two hens go at it.”
Sherlock lowered his eyes in suspicion, but turned his attention back to John.
Greg sat in silence, glancing around the flat and sipping his tea, the two of them fading back into the background, until his eyes settled back on the adverts on the floor and it all just suddenly clicked. He sat his mug on the table.
“Whoa whoa wait wait wait. You’re being an absolute prat because you’re afraid that John’ll move out?”
Sherlock froze and John stopped mid sentence; both men turned to look at Greg, who could do nothing except laugh.
“Oh, this is brilliant,” he said, gasping for air. “I don’t know how many times I’ve said this over the years, but for someone so bright, you sure are stupid.”
Sherlock glowered. “And what exactly am I missing out on this time?”
“Whatever’s going on between me and John isn’t going to change things between the two of you.” Sherlock raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “I’m serious. John loves you too much.”
Both Greg and Sherlock turned to John, who was turning a fantastic shade of pink.
“Oh don’t deny it, Doctor Watson. You get this kitten-y look on your face when you’re thinking about him. I saw it the other night; it’s actually quite adorable.”
John bristled at being called “adorable”, but chewed on his lip and stayed quiet.
“You’re jealous, Sherlock. Yeah. Don’t give me that ‘Lestrade-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-talking-about’ look, especially when you know I’m right.”
Greg got up and crossed the sitting room, stopping directly in front of Sherlock. He gripped Sherlock by the shoulders, resisting the strong urge to literally shake some sense into the younger man.
“Knowing you, you figured John and I out weeks ago; why you didn’t say anything, I’ll never know. But you’re hurt that John didn’t tell you himself.” Sherlock opened his mouth to say something, but Greg quickly interrupted him. “You shush. You want to act like a three year old, I’ll treat you like one. This is listening time.
“I’ve put up with a lot with you over the years, and you’ve gotten away with a lot of shit that you definitely should not have. But what I will absolutely not allow you to do is throw away what you’ve got with John, here. He’s been the best thing for you in every conceivable way, and god help you, I think you’ve even put on some weight. He’s not going anywhere.”
Sherlock quickly glanced down at himself, then looked at John to confirm; John nodded.
Greg moved his hands to Sherlock’s face. “And just so you know, I’m not going anywhere, either. You’re stuck with us.” He gently pulled Sherlock down and placed a light kiss on his forehead.
Sherlock’s eyes went wide; they darted between Greg and John. “That’s where you’re wrong. I don’t fit into this equation; you two are much better suited for each other.”
John snorted, and Greg smirked, “Now you’re just making excuses.”
Sherlock made to say something, but shut his mouth, crossed his arms, and hung his head.
“Oh god, don’t mope.” Greg pulled Sherlock into a hug, which was hesitantly reciprocated.
“You’re insufferable, Lestrade,” he said into Greg’s shirt. “Just as bad as John is.”
“I’ll take that compliment,” Greg replied. Sherlock shot up straight and stared down at Greg, who simply shrugged, arms still wrapped around Sherlock’s waist.
“You’re putting me on the same level as John. I had no idea you held me in such regard.” Sherlock flushed at being caught.
“We wouldn’t both be around if we weren’t attached to you.” Greg pointed out, feeling the urge to add, “You cock.” John choked on his tea and burst out into laughter.
“It’s true, Sherlock; I’m not going to leave. Whatever this is between me and Greg isn’t going to affect what you and I’ve got.” He shrugged. “Unless you want it to, of course.”
Greg and Sherlock first looked at each other, then at John, who continued, “The way I figure it, Greg here knows you in ways I never will; and as much as you try to hide it, you’re glad that he’s around. And I like having him around. So why don’t we keep him around more often?”
He sipped his tea. “And I don’t mean more trips to the pub or more time at the Yard. I mean have our favorite Inspector here over for dinner and telly and working and, hell, even staying the night should the thought fancy him.”
Greg released Sherlock and took a step towards John. “What exactly are you proposing, here?”
John stood. “I’m saying that I want you here, and I’m pretty sure Sherlock wants you here, so why not just integrate yourself into our daily bits?”
Greg looked back at Sherlock, whose normally stoic demeanor was marked with a slight nervousness. He smiled, “Alright. Let’s see where this goes.”
And that was how John Watson created the perfect proposition, leaving Greg hopeful of whatever ridiculous things the future had in store for the three of them.
And in the end it would all work somehow because one of them was John and the other was Sherlock and Greg just knew.