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Moats and boats and waterfalls
Alleyways and pay phone calls
I've been everywhere with you

That's true, laugh until we think we'll die
Barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you

And in the streets you run a-free
Like it's only you and me
Geez, you're something to see

Ah, home, let me go home
Home is wherever I'm with you
Ah, home, let me go home
Home is wherever I'm with you


Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Home

 


 

 

At Lestrade’s insistence, a police car drops them off at the entrance of Baker Street. The entire area is police cordoned off, but already some of the cleaning teams are picking up the debris. Speedy’s is pretty much undamaged but not much can be said for 221A, B and C.

Jesus,” John swears under his breath, “I could have sworn it didn’t look this bad when we left…”  He moves closer to where Sherlock is standing and texting, “Have you talked with Mrs. Hudson?”

“Yes, she is staying with her sister,” Sherlock fires off a text and looks up. “Mycroft is going to send some teams for the renovation, but apparently, it is going to take them weeks,” he sighs.

With one hand on his waist, the other covering his mouth, John watches two-man team who are balancing on some complicated looking crane to remove the broken piece of wall. “Well, it is an absolute mess.”

Sherlock clasps his hands behind his back and watches the wall being demolished as well, lifting an eyebrow. “Hmm, more than usual.”

John chuckles. “Alright then, where will you go?”

Sherlock looks surprised. “Me?”

“Yeah,” John turns towards him fully, “Come stay with us, with Rosie.”

Sherlock only hesitates a second. “You sure?”

“Of course. You're not going to stay in this dump,” John’s warm hand claps him on the shoulder, “Come on. You have anything to pack?”

Sherlock shakes his head, “I’ll buy some clothes... and a new laptop, tomorrow.”

John squeezes him on the arm, “We’ll find you something. Come on.”

 

***

 

He's been to John and Mary’s flat many times before, of course, but he did not linger long, and since her death, he only stopped by to pick John up. Without her presence, the place feels eerily unfilled. As if nothing changed, her touch is present on every pillow and every cup she picked, but those lifeless objects are the only legacies remained. It is no wonder John has gone a bit crazy. If Sherlock was ever in the habit, he too would have trouble sleeping in this frozen time capsule.

“You know where the bathroom is, go take a shower while I feed her,” John tells him while he lifts the little girl to his hip, her formula already heated and prepared. After an intensive background check, he has arranged an almost permanent babysitter to balance his absence between working at the clinic, working with Sherlock and the shifts with her godparents. Sherlock knows he is not pulling his weight enough and John is constantly tired, but he never complains.

Maybe not this time, then. They didn’t have the chance to pack anything before they left for Sherrinford and John only changed his wet clothes at the back of the ambulance with the ones Greg brought to him. He must be dying for a shower.

Sherlock folds the arms of his shirt and reaches out for Rosie. “I’ll take her. You shower first.”

It must be testament of how filthy John feels that he only gives a few feeble instructions to Sherlock before hurrying upstairs to the bathroom.

As the shower starts, Sherlock gets comfortable on the sofa. Like the little champion she is, Rosie launches on her bottle immediately while blinking slowly at him. She makes small, heavy sighs but continues on with her dinner. Gently, Sherlock traces her troubled wrinkles at the corner of her light blue eyes. What kind of woes could someone that young could possibly have? Does she have some internal knowledge that the adults around her couldn’t possibly bestow on her? Still, he feels an inexplicable unhappiness about how resigned she looks, so he does his absolute best to cuddle her properly. Maybe she too, misses her mother.

When he touches the bottom of her chin to catch the drop of milky formula she missed, she pays more attention to him.

“Hello,” says Sherlock quietly and is astonished when Rosie directly looks at him and grins.

“Oh…” He blinks. Should he talk, then? What does John do? How is it that something the humanity has done since before the dawn of the ages is still so complicated? He doesn’t really know what to do with her.

Rosie solves that problem by pushing the bottle and sneezing. She looks very surprised for a second, with her eyes crossed, then seems to be okay with looking back at Sherlock.

“You’re a bit cute, aren’t you?” Sherlock mumbles at her, tickling her chin, wanting to see her smile again. His efforts are rewarded when Rosie giggles and puts her two fingers into her mouth.

Sherlock almost drops the bottle when he hears the very telling, very loud sound of a phone taking a picture.

Dressed, but his hair still wet, dripping to the towel on his shoulders, John has the widest, smuggest grin on his face as he checks the photo. “Aw, I’m definitely printing this.”

Embarrassed, “Alright, alright,” Sherlock grumbles and fidgets, but can’t actually get up without disturbing Rosie.

John’s grin widens even further to his hot shower pinkened cheeks. He leans down to tickle his daughter from her belly. “Are you having fun sweetheart, with your grumpy old godfather?”

Rosie lets out a scream of delight and wiggles in Sherlock’s arms. She makes increasingly complicated yah-bah-bah-mah-yah sounds.

“Is she talking to you?” Sherlock is beyond fascinated. He didn’t realize there may be ways of intelligent communication with her. The rattle experiment did not go so well, after all.

“Yeah,” John laughs, “She just told me she needs to be winded, in fact, so you might want to give her to here.”

“Oh… of course.” As Sherlock elevates her tiny body, John gently takes her back, expertly putting her on his shoulder and patting her back.

Watching them rock together and John talk soothing nonsense to her, Sherlock feels his own chest squeezed with a deep sense of yearning. He quickly gets up to his feet to put some distance to that.

John looks up to him and his face is still lightened with a soft smile. “I’ve put out some clean towels and few things. They won’t fit you but just until tomorrow, yeah?”

Sherlock nods. “It’s no problem. Thank you.”   

Rosie makes an impressively loud, gassy sound and John is satisfied, he makes encouraging noises at her, while still managing to talk like a functioning adult. “Go on, I’ll order. What do you want?”

No matter how many times he witnesses it, Sherlock still finds that as fascinating as well. He thinks a minute and quickly decides. “That Chinese place from the-”

John is already dialling. “Yeah, yeah, the corner one, got it. Go on, then, be quick.”

 

***

 

Objectively, he knows that John still uses the same shampoo. As part of The Work, he trained his olfactory senses thoroughly and is able to pick up unfamiliar smells very quickly. As his nose was recently in contact with John’s head, objectively, he knew that John didn’t change his shampoo of late. The subpar quality of the brand is very memorable to Sherlock, as he did a six-column detailed chemical analysis and comparison of the brand against its same price range competitors with much better quality, and presented his results to John, expecting him to take action at the direction of Sherlock’s thoughtful, friendly and scientifically backed up suggestions. John, on the other hand, apparently possessed an uncalculated amount of loyalty to the brand or more likely, was simply a very stubborn man who took  his private time in the bath very seriously, because he did no such thing. He not-very-kindly requested Sherlock to leave the bathroom immediately and here he is, years later, still using the same shampoo.

He takes a quick shower using Rosie’s shampoo and deliberately stops himself from deducing the contents of the bathroom. Even though his hair becomes hatefully fuzzy, he doesn’t use Mary’s conditioner.

His room would be pretty much fine if the fridge hadn’t exploded (a cosmically well-designed irony considering its years long misconduct) but unfortunately the resulting chemical fire reacting with the flask of nitric acid he conveniently kept at the kitchen cupboard ate away his door and almost half of his closet. He didn’t mind the loss much until he saw the charred remains of his periodic table, a treasured gift from Grand-mère. The rare beetle collection is gone as well.

The soft grey shirt John laid out for him fits him perfectly, which is definitely going to be a problem. John also tossed on the bed a never-opened package of three pack underwear which is initially curious until he sees the pattern and cringes.

Well, beggars can’t be choosers. He puts on the tracksuit bottoms as well, a little short on ankles but John has wider hips so it doesn’t matter, nicks the familiar thick pair of socks he knows John hates, and goes back down.

John has put Rosie on her play mat with a bunch of toys, arranged an army of white carton boxes on the coffee table and is waiting for Sherlock to choose his pick. He immediately frowns when he sees him, which Sherlock knew he would.

“Curious gift,” Sherlock comments, “Secret Santa at the clinic?”

John ignores the jab, his eyes taking on Sherlock’s noticeably thinner form. “You’ve lost weight,” he worries his lower lip, then shakes his head off with a visible effort. “Come eat, there is enough to make it up for it.”

Sherlock inspects the table, then correctly deduces and picks up the spring rolls. He is busy with breaking the chopsticks and taking a crunchy bite of one roll when he adds, “I’ll take a glass if you’re having one.”

“Oh, thank Christ.” John gets up to plop open a bottle, depositing two giant glasses of wine (again, Mary’s pick) and serves them both a generous pour. He clinks his glass with Sherlock’s and sits down to eat.

The wine serves its purpose to fire him up quickly from the belly, which he finds helpful. He wasn’t the one who had almost gone into hypothermic shock due to spending hours unconscious in the cold water withbonesSherlockboneshumanbones but he still appreciates it. John on the other hand, seems full of reverence.

They inhale almost half of their weight in fried goods before John surrenders the last of the broccoli to Sherlock, and leans back to polish off his wine. “God, I’m knackered. I should get you a pillow before I pass out in here.”

Woozy with food and alcohol and the warm shower, Sherlock thinks he too, could sleep. But it’s against his principles. “It’s not even bedtime for Rosie.

John laughs softly when they notice her looking up in recognition of her name and lightly kicking the floor with her socked feet. “It almost is, actually. You can pick her up while I clean this mess if you want. She’ll want her pyjamas.”

While John disappears into the kitchen to unearth a trash bag, Sherlock cautiously approaches Rosie. She is content to gnaw on her pacifier and easily lets herself be picked up, only throwing a small fuss when Sherlock commits the grave mistake of almost leaving her elephant behind. The elephant comes with them to her room, held on firmly by its soft long nose. She is clean as John took a break from eating earlier to change her nappy, she just needs an update of clothes. While she puts her heavy but wonderfully nice smelling little head to his shoulder, Sherlock carefully examines her choices and is appalled. Nothing is free of anatomically incorrect animals or patterns. Why are there so many stripes? After a quick search, he is finally able to locate one acceptable, %100 organic cotton overalls with a transportation theme over it. At least they don’t have smiley faces on them.

“Your parents have appalling tastes,” he informs Rosie, who doesn’t seem to care, at least not yet. “I guess I know what to buy for you, now.” He frees her tiny little digits and carefully snaps her buttons. He fixes the creases of the fabric on her belly and notices that there are also sailboats on the print.

“Sherlock,” calls out a concerned voice, “what are you doing down there?”

“He must be here,” he sobs, “that’s what the song says, she must have buried him.” He has long lost his hat, and his arms are shaking with the effort to hold the gardener’s old spade, but he won’t give up.

His brother is gentle when he gathers him up from the hole he’s dug. “Little brother, he can’t be there. Look, the ground is fresh and there are no hills. I’m afraid Eurus is only mocking you. She also kept saying drowned, remember? And the police looked everywhere, he isn’t here.” Mycroft seems truly regretful. “Victor is gone, Sherlock, I’m sorry.”

“Please Mycroft, mummy won’t listen,” Sherlock is crying, “I know she’s done something to him.  I saw her drawing me too, before. She’s angry we wouldn’t play with her.”

Mycroft frowns, as he dries Sherlock’s face with his own handkerchief. “Drawing as what?”

“Mycroft! Sherlock!”

They both turn around in alarm as Uncle Rudy runs towards them, to the beech tree.

“Sherlock? What’s wrong?” John’s concerned voice cuts through. Sherlock is startled into reality, he quickly blinks the blurriness out to check on Rosie. She is fine, but she is looking at him with her worried grown-up brows as if she sensed something is wrong and is holding on to his thumb.

“Hey, you’re okay?” It takes John two seconds to assess that there is nothing wrong with Rosie as well, then he looks at Sherlock’s face. “Oh, Sherlock…”

Sherlock is bewildered when he is gathered into a hug. Then he realizes his eyes are burning.

Oh. He is crying.

Well. He might as well.

John squeezes him hard around the back. “Let me put her to bed, then we’ll watch something, alright?”

Sherlock sniffs and nods, removing his face from John’s neck. John’s thumb is there, high on his arm, soothing for a minute, then he turns and gathers Rosie up from her changing table.

Rosie immediately drops her pacifier from her mouth and makes a series of urgent sounding questioning sounds. John hums and answers to all of them, while providing her with a new one and tucking her in.

She truly inherited her father’s inquisitive gifts.

Sherlock gives her a weak smile behind John’s back and leaves them to it to go wash his face.

When John comes back, he is armed with a blanket and a pillow. Without saying a word, he sits down next to him on the couch, picks something random at the TV, the volume turned low. When Sherlock wakes up next morning at the crack of dawn, he is still there; half reclined on the couch, dutifully accommodating a place for Sherlock’s pillow to lie on, deep in sleep. Quietly, Sherlock slips out of the blanket, covering him up and sneaks to Rosie’s bedroom before she throws a fuss and wakes her daddy up.

“This stays between you and me, Watson, okay?” he asks in a low murmur as he snaps her nappy on. She blinks seriously at him and puts both of her hands into her mouth.

Sherlock accepts it as a suitable answer.

 

***

 

John startles out of a weird dream in which he was chasing around a giant sandbox to find where Harry is, feeling like he forgot something important. For one second he is terribly disoriented, then recognizes where he is and how high the sun is. He sits up in alarm.

“Morning,” Sherlock cheerfully calls out from the kitchen table.

“Dah!” Rosie lets out a scream of delight from her highchair when she sees John approach.

“Hmm, Russian?” Sherlock lifts an eyebrow while continuing to speed-type on his laptop.

John lets out a laugh as he rubs his sleep addled face. It is a sleek, new laptop. Rosie’s got a new outfit as well. He is pretty sure she didn’t have those socks with anatomical bee drawings on it, before. They are cute. How long did he sleep?

“Did you two have a nice shopping trip?” John shakes his head quite amused and prepares himself a cup of tea from the already boiling water.

Sherlock’s cheeks pinken a bit. “Well, you were pretty tired,” he amends.

“Yes, I was,” John squeezes his shoulder, “Thank you.”

Sherlock pinkens even further and quickly changes the subject. “I have tracked down the original wholesalers for when Mrs. Hudson purchased the wallpapers and fortunately they are still in stock and can provide us with a new batch. One or two I think had some pattern changes but it is close enough so it won’t matter.”

“Really?” John butters his toast and pops down between them, giving Rosie a kiss on the head, who is currently wiggling multi-coloured, half-eaten egg looking weird spheres and gnawing on them. They are new, as well. “You don’t want to Feng Shui the flat with a whole new decoration? It is an opportunity.”

Sherlock is now madly clicking. “I thought about it and decided it would take too much work to achieve perfection, so I’ll stick to the original as close as possible. It won’t disturb the order of my mind palace that way.”

John chuckles. “In other words, you’re sentimental and lazy.”

“But you knew that, anyway,” Sherlock looks up to smile quickly before returning to his work. “I have to replace all my science equipment.”

“Hmm, the nitric acid?” John asks thoughtfully as he continues chewing on the bread.

“Yes,” Sherlock sighs. For such a small flask, it caused a lot of trouble. “Unfortunately.”

“Why not add a second fridge and a chemical cabinet as well?” John suggests, “It would be safer for, um, visitors.”

Sherlock is about to open his mouth and proclaim that any client curious enough to poke around his kitchen deserves to be taken to A&E for chemical burns and/or emotional trauma that he notices John fidgeting and he actually means it for Rosie.  

“Oh,” Sherlock pauses and looks at them. Rosie cheerfully throws the biggest egg to the floor. He carefully reconsiders, “Yes, of course. It does make sense.”

John smiles at him and bends down to pick the toy.

 

***

 

They dropped by twice for a few hours to inspect the damage done to 221B from the inside, leaving Mrs. Hudson outside with Rosie to chat with Mr. Chatterjee while they jumped over the holes on the floor. Her flat is not too badly damaged, but her kitchen is completely gone as well, as it was directly under the bomb. Theirs… um, he means, Sherlock’s… Sherlock’s flat is a complete mess, yet somehow his chair survived despite being in the middle of ground zero. He texts Lestrade, sitting on it, that he will be staying at John’s for a while. The books are covered with ash and soot, completely ruined. Sherlock doesn’t seem to mind, as he happily collects samples from all over the flat. Whatever material he used before (well 221B is very accident-prone) to coat the bison’s head and Billy the skull, saved their lives as well. Together they put its headphones on and sort it out to “to be kept” pile.

John actually feels his heart ache when he sees what happened to the violin. He can’t even imagine what Sherlock feels, as he normally guards it to the death. John hopes fervently that it wasn’t a Stradivarius. Even though, he is pretty sure it’s a very valuable one.

Sherlock says nothing, but John sees his mouth drop into a downturned expression. Quietly, he puts it to the trash pile.

When he is busy combing through his wardrobe, John quickly takes a picture of it, and for the hell off it, digs around to find its case and Googles it.

When he sees the price range on it, he bites his lower lip. Quietly, he checks if Sherlock’s watching, and opens up a new text. He adds the first picture he has taken, the one of the scorched violin.

 

***

 

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I hope you are resurrecting Signor Stradivari himself for a custom made. JW

Mycroft sighs and re-locks the screen. He is already sporting a giant headache since Mummy and Daddy decided to stay at the house until they could be allowed to see Eurus. They finally allow him to actually secure the place first, considering Eurus herself was kept in another private isolation somewhere else, before a new governor could be installed. Sherrinford is still her best option and yet after what happened with Sherlock, she doesn’t seem to be itching to cause any havoc, yet, which is somewhat a relief. She wouldn’t talk to anyone, though.

Mycroft thinks of the Stradivarius he had brought to her on her particularly good year. It is an incredible masterpiece, perfect in every way and priceless. But perhaps, he thinks, Sherlock deserves something a bit different. A bit more special. He’s been holding on to this for when he really needed a favour from Sherlock, but perhaps the little brother earned a bit of a treat.

 

***

 

They are sitting together in the living room, arguing about Sherlock’s best options for the new kitchen table. Sherlock wants to buy a truly horrifying second-hand one he found on eBay, claiming to be as close to the original, John wouldn’t let him; even from the low-quality picture, he can see the questionable marks on the wood and won’t even consider imagining the amount of sanitizing it requires. There are stripes of bedbug infestations on it.

John shudders in disgust. “I don’t care how original it looks Sherlock, if you ever want any of us to actually eat on it, you won’t buy this piece of crap.”

Sherlock opens his mouth and thankfully is saved by the bell. John gathers Rosie up in his arms to answer the door.

An expressionless henchman is standing at the door, accompanied by a metal case. “Special delivery for Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson.”

“Um, fine-” John hesitates a minute, before noticing that the case has a suspiciously curvy form. “Sherlock!” he bellows.

“Is it the curtains I ordered?” Sherlock yells back and then appears a second later. He seems frozen by the sight at the door.

The henchman removes his black glasses and puts them to his pocket, turning the case horizontally. “Mr. Holmes, I must ask you to please put both of your thumbs here and here.”

John stands back to watch, quite amused at this random Bond act.

Sherlock, on the other hand, seems to be shaking.  

The metal case pops open to reveal another, normal-looking black violin case. Whatever it is, must be good, because Sherlock actually thanks the man after he gently lifts it and cradles it to his chest.

John can’t wait to see it. He kicks the door close after man leaves and hurries after Sherlock to the living room.

He’s already freed the violin and is making adjustments. It’s a really beautiful one, John has never seen anything quite like it. It has delicate floral decorations at the sides of it and beautiful, intricate white edges. It is quite a feminine design, considering, and he is a bit confused why Mycroft chose this one for his brother. When Sherlock plays a short piece on it, the sound is incredible. Even to John’s woefully uneducated ears, it sounds amazingly rich.

Deposited once more on her play mat, Rosie looks up in surprise at the sudden music and claps, just once, and collapses into giggles. Both John and Sherlock chuckle at her enthusiasm.  

“So, is it a Stradivarius?” John asks, excited.

“Of course it’s a Stradivarius,” Sherlock says softly, while lovingly caressing the instrument, “But it’s a special one. This used to belong to my grandmother.”

“Oh,” John sits down for a treat he is sure is about to come. “That explains the- the beauty.”

“Yes,” Sherlock says quietly, “She loved to play. Eurus told me she taught me how to play when we were children, but really, I don’t remember playing with her at all. I used to spend my summers at her house, with Grand-mère. She was an excellent chemist and a virtuosa. She would tell me her tales at the German border.” Sherlock bites his lower lip, lost in a good memory, then shakes his head, “She was a British spy of course, a family tradition, really. I thought this was destroyed in the war.”

“What?!” John is startled, “Okay, never mind, I don’t want to know. Play something for me.”

He patiently waits while Sherlock tunes and tweaks a bit. He seems to be quite irritated with something concerning the bow.  

John chuckles, “What is it?”

“It’s not the same one,” Sherlock murmurs, a bit irritated. “Mycroft must have it as well, he must be saving it for future leverage. God, I will strangle him, the pompous-”

“Alright, alright,” John laughs, “Come on, we’re ready.” He picks crawling Rosie to sit on his lap.

Both pairs of Watson eyes on him, ready as the audience, Sherlock swallows and fidgets a bit. “Any requests?”

“Something nice,” John requests kindly, then grins.

Sherlock half smiles as well, then puts the bow on.

Hours later, he is still playing it, sound lowered not to disturb sleeping Rosie upstairs.

It is a very good night for all.

 

***

 

John would never admit this to anyone, not even to Ella, whom he sheepishly has gone back to, but he missed living with Sherlock. Okay, he is useless as a functioning flat mate, such as picking up and cleaning after himself, leaving the shower alone after a reasonable hour for the use of other human beings living in the flat, but considering his health and safety nightmares, he is actually very considerate in many other ways. Since he’s temporarily moved in, John has never woken up to feed or change the baby, or to soothe a nightmare. Sherlock continues playing softly in the nights whenever he feels like it and is still up at the crack of the dawn to pick Rosie up before John is even awake.

John knows that’s because Sherlock himself, is having some sleeping troubles. He tries his best to mask it, but John can see it whenever he zones out looking at his computer, or searching through his files, there is a backlog of worry, there. Much like 221B, Sherlock has his memories scrambled, as well and he needs time to put them together. Surprisingly being around Rosie seems to help, as she is as much of a force to reckon with. She is very neat at sensing when Sherlock needs a bit of a distraction and provides excellent excuses for John, but really though, he doesn’t need to trick Sherlock into it. He’s an excellent babysitter really. If Mary  were still alive, John would have some reservations leaving her daughter alone with Sherlock for long hours, unsupervised, considering all Sherlock did in her presence was to text and tweet. But now? He has no doubts. The bags beneath the bags under his eyes have disappeared after a week of good sleep. He actually feels like a human being, for once. He has also taken a light shift at the clinic, since Sherlock hasn’t taken up any cases yet, not while he is busy with putting 221B back together. Lestrade told them not to worry, he called once or twice to consult with Sherlock but on nothing too serious.

“He is getting better,” Sherlock grudgingly admits, after hanging up with him. John chuckles, concentrated on the pea thing he is currently making and comments, “Well he’s bound to pick up some of your methods, after all. How long has it been, ten years between you two?”

“Don’t make me count them, it’s tedious,” Sherlock grumbles, and opens another package of delicate tubes. The kitchen table is full of them.

Rosie really wants to grab one really badly, it seems, but is quickly distracted when presented with plastic cup of soapy water, with a giant circle tipped stick in it.

“She’s taking a bath later anyway,” Sherlock defends himself when John lifts an eyebrow.

Rosie is fascinated when she is shown how to make bubbles. She can’t quite make them herself as she blows too quickly on the soap, but takes great delight on popping those Sherlock creates for her.

Sherlock grins when one of the giant ones pops on her nose, making her go cross-eyed.

John realizes he is standing in the kitchen, just watching Sherlock make faces at his daughter and quickly returns to not burning their dinner.

Fucking hell, he’d better not start on that route again, not after all that happened.

It’s of course not all rosy. It’s Sherlock, after all. He seems to be really upset when he can’t actually repair John’s chair, the fabric all burnt and the foam destroyed completely. It needs to be replaced with a new one and each suggestion seem to make him even more angrier.

“How about this one, dear?” Mrs. Hudson shows him the one she liked from the Home Renevo catalogue, “It is a really comfortable one, I’ve sat on it. Easy on the back.”

“No, no, NO!” Sherlock throws the brightly coloured prints all over the floor, “It HAS to be the same one! It has to be!”

“It’s just a chair, dear, we’ll get a better one…” Mrs. Hudson tries to cajole him but actually has to step back when Sherlock jumps to his feet in anger.

“NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! It HAS to be the same ONE!!” Sherlock actually stomps his feet with fury, the big drama queen that he is.

John brings Mrs. Hudson her cup of tea, throwing Sherlock a disapproving look, then pushes his cup to his hand as well. “If it is my chair, I have no bloody idea why you are throwing such a big fuss about it! Yours is fine, isn’t it?!”

Sherlock points a finger towards his chest, shaking with anger, “You frequently, almost consistently, sit on that stupid chair during all of our cases and it provides an unchangeable visual when I picture them in my mind palace!! I can’t just replace THAT with a La-Z-Boy!!”

“Oh,” John sips from his cup, thinks for a minute, then suggests, “What if I go out with you to actually pick a new one and sit on it and wait for you to replace the old memories with the new chair?”

Sherlock huffs, “My mind palace is not a Photoshop program!!”

John lifts an eyebrow, “Will it work, though?”

“I don’t know,” Sherlock grumbles, then bites on a biscuit, “Might be worth a try.”

So that’s why John spends the next three days and nights sitting on and off a Victorian looking chair, munching on snacks, drinking his tea and dutifully asking questions as Sherlock re-enacts his previous deductions to the clients who visit. It is actually quite amusing and John does take some notes to gather up some more detailed accounts of their cases together. Who know, maybe one day he’ll write a book.

Admittedly, he is nodding off a bit towards the end but something in Sherlock’s accent rings odd to his ear. He blinks rapidly to shake it off and looks back at Sherlock. “Why are you calling me Watson?”

Sherlock seems to wake up from some kind of dream as well. “Oh, sorry. Ignore that. That wasn’t necessary data. I must be getting tired, as well.”

John heavily rubs his eyes, “Was it the overdose case, with Ricoletti and the vengeful brides?”

“Yes,” Sherlock sighs, “As I said, unnecessary of course, since Moriarty didn’t even fake his death.”

“Well, thank Christ,” John snorts, then smiles at him, “It is amazing what you can do, with your brain. I wish you wouldn’t be tempted so often to abuse the poor thing.”

Sherlock fidgets. He is sitting in a random chair in John’s living room, since his role is not necessary to update, as he claims. He picks a small bit of lint off the arm of the chair. “It’s not temptation.”

“Sherlock,” John softly admonishes him, “I know you think you can go on and off the hard drugs at the drop of a pin, just like that, but it is not true and you’ll be damaging your heart, your body, everything. You don’t need me to tell you that.”

“Some people survive without their hearts,” Sherlock mumbles and grabs an apple from the bowl of fruits John brought earlier, a bit irritated, “And thrive, apparently.” He bites on it, chewing and brooding.

“You’re not one of those people,” John gently reminds him, “And thank God for that. I wouldn’t know what to do with you if you…”

Sherlock completes his words. “Turned out to be a real psychopath instead of a sociopath?”

“Jesus,” John rubs his cheek, “No. I was going to say if you didn’t care about what happened to us at all. We would all be dead within a week. And by the way, for the record, I want you to hear this from me, as a doctor and your closest friend,” John pointedly looks at him, “You are not a sociopath, not a high functioning one, not a middle one. You never have been. It is a real condition and your sister sincerely suffers from it to some extent, but you, Sherlock, you’ve been simply. Coping. In a very unhealthy way.” John sighs out. “I’m definitely not the expert you’ll want to be talking about this. I just want to tell you that if you want to tell that to other people to feel more comfortable, it’s okay. But with your friends and family, you don’t have to… try to be something you actually are not.” John offers him a quick smile, “We’ve been doing good lately, haven’t we?”

Sherlock turns the half-eaten apple in his palm and nods, not looking up.

“Good,” John smiles at him. “I’ll be needing all these talks when boyfriends come knocking on the door.”

Sherlock’s neck almost cracks from how fast he looks up. “What boyfriends?!”

“Or girlfriends,” John adds thoughtfully, “Rosie’s, of course-”

“Oh,” Sherlock blinks rapidly.

“What do you think I- oh,” John’s ears quite suddenly pinken.

Sherlock clears his throat, “Well, she is quite young.”

“Indeed, she is,” John’s blush descends to his neck. He is biting down on his lower lip, like there is something he wants to say but can’t actually say.

Sherlock blames the hour and the few restless days, it must be quite late for him to slip up like that. And now, he made John uncomfortable. “I didn’t mean to imply-”

“Will there be- other- boyfriends? Coming to knock on the door?” John talks over him, quite fast.

Sherlock’s mouth hangs open, no sounds coming out of it. He closes it, frowns at John’s blushing face and is not quite sure if he understood. “What do you actually mean?”

“Well you said,” John bites his lower lip again and it is quite distracting, “You never really said it, actually, only that-um, married to your work and romantic entanglement thing which we both know is complete bullshit.”

Sherlock blinks a few times, wanting to reset the conversation back to where it made sense. “Are you asking me if I’m gay?”

“Yes,” John takes a large gulp of his ice-cold cup of tea, his eyes never leaving Sherlock’s face. “Yes, that- I am asking exactly… that.”

“Define gay,” Sherlock demands.

“What?!” John laughs, bewildered.

“Does it count if one… has no experience in one field or the other?” Sherlock fidgets, uncomfortable.

John covers his face with both hands and doesn’t talk for a minute. Sherlock is afraid John is laughing at him. But instead, he gets up to open the glass cabinet and pours them both a glass of whisky. His face is no less red but he has a look of determination, half doctor, half soldier. Instead of his chair, he pulls the small, lower pouf in front of Sherlock’s chair and sits on it, facing him. “Yes, it does,” he says and gives him the glass, “It’s about how you feel. Not what you actually have done or not.”

Sherlock takes a small sip of the fiery liquid. “People would argue with you on that.”

John almost inhales half of the glass, “I don’t care. It’s the truth. Nobody can force you. You’re the only one who can decide.”

Sherlock looks at him, “You’ve actually done this talk before.”

John snorts, “Well it did no good for Harry nor for our parents, if you want to know. I must be notoriously bad at this.” His face is gentle when he prompts, “You didn’t sleep with Janine?”

“No,” Sherlock fidgets.

John hesitates, can’t quite put it together in his head how Sherlock actually managed to achieve that. “Um, The Woman?... Irene Adler?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes to the heavens. “She’s gay, John, actually, really gay.”

“Well, she definitely was interested,” John defends himself and finishes off his glass. “Don’t look at me like that, I know she was. And you were too. So, that’s a no, then?”

“For the love of god, it’s like all over the greenhouse, again,” Sherlock mumbles angrily to his glass.

What greenhouse?” John fidgets, “Don’t talk about imaginary ‘me’s, I don’t know what I say to you in your funny little head.”

Sherlock is astonished. “Funny little head?!”

“Don’t change the subject,” John chastises him. “No Irene?”

Sherlock wants to shake him. “No!”

“Okay, that’s… um,” John nervously licks his lower lip, Sherlock wishes he would just stop doing that, “So, um- there is no easy way to really ask this so… I’ll just…” John waves a hand and Sherlock is suddenly having a heart attack. What if he- asks, what would he… does he?...

Lestrade?...” John weakly asks and Sherlock actually gets out of his chair to push him off his pouf. “Ouch, hey!” John complains, landing heavily on his bottom. He rubs it unhappily.

“You are an actual idiot, John Watson,” Sherlock rants, “I’m starting to pity your sister, now. I said, no one.”

“Alright, alright…” John takes the hand Sherlock offers to get up and mumbles, “Well, people have said he’s, I dunno, ruggedly handsome, I guess. I was just checking. But you are not asexual?”

“No,” Sherlock quickly lets go of his hand.

“Okay,” John simply looks confused, “Maybe you… haven’t met the right person?... Sexuality is kind of fluid for some.”

“Maybe,” This conversation is an actual hell. But it is worth it if John never mentions The Woman in a sexual content, again. He can no longer help it, “You’re bi,” he blurts out.

John is struck. His eyes are widened with shock. He asks, softly, “How did you…”

“James Sholto,” Sherlock mumbles. He actually knew it before, of course, but it still hurts a fair amount to see it confirmed on John’s face.

John rubs his mouth, “Well, I never mentioned him to you, not before the wedding…”

“Yes,” Sherlock nods, “And that was the biggest clue.”

John laughs awkwardly and picks up his empty glass but makes an effort to put it down. His movements are uncomfortable in every possible way. Sherlock watches him and feels quite sad. “You don’t have to talk to me about it.”

“No, that’s... that would be hypocritical of me, wouldn’t it?” John finally picks his chair to sit down. He still won’t look Sherlock in the eye, but his body language is struggling to be open, so that’s an improvement, Sherlock guesses.

“You’re uncomfortable. You don’t want to talk about it,” he comments and looks down, “So don’t.”

“Sherlock, that’s…” John bites his lower lip hard and rolls his shaking left hand into a fist, but makes the effort to continue talking. “That’s not because… who you are or what we are… it’s. I have other reasons for it, and I- I actually never. Spoken about it, to- to anyone, so. I’m.”

“John, it’s fine,” Sherlock says gently, “It’s all fine, remember?”

John is silent for a while. His eyes are filled with angry tears. “It is what it is,” he says with a quick, self-conscious smile as one drop escapes down to his chin.

Sherlock regrets toppling down the pouf now. It makes it all the more awkward to quickly pick it up from the floor, surreptitiously drag it next to John’s chair and sit closer to him. But he still does it, and knows that his efforts are awarded when John actually snorts out a real smile from it, sensing Sherlock’s intentions.

“We are making a habit of it, aren’t we?” He bends down to let himself be hugged.

Sherlock rubs over his back. “I quite enjoy them.”

“Hmm, we don’t have to be in catatonic emotional distress every time for it happen, yeah?” John pats him on the back as well. He sniffs again, and smiles when he draws back. “Are you using Rosie’s shampoo?”

Sherlock draws himself straighter, “Yours is an abomination.”

John laughs, running a hand through Sherlock’s perfectly coiffed curls. “It’s been a week since you’ve moved in here. I’ve been to the shops almost every day. Why didn’t you say something?”

Sherlock hesitates, “It smells nice,” he admits.

John looks at him with such fondness he feels his heart elevate.

“You are a ridiculous man,” John says.

Sherlock nods affirmatively. “That, I am.”

His dark blue eyes are twinkling. “I would kiss you right now, if I wasn’t so emotionally repressed.”

Sherlock agrees, frantically. “I- would very much like to do that.”

John puts a hand to his face, and bends down to capture his lips-

“Sherlock? Hello? Did you hear me?” John blinks at him, from reality.

Sherlock shakes his head like a dog. “Um- yes, what?”

“Where have you gone off to?” John gives him an odd, still terribly fond look. “I said, I’ll pick up another bottle of it if you want, if you promise to leave my awful shampoo in peace. No tinkering with it.”

Sherlock blinks, “Well, you don’t know what you’re missing,” he huffs out.

 

***

 

“Mummy and Daddy want to see her,” Sherlock says quietly.

John looks up from pairing Rosie’s socks. “But she wouldn’t talk?”

Sherlock shakes his head. He looks tired. Mrs. Hudson’s flat is almost done, thanks to Sherlock’s excellent memory, they have been able to replace all her lost things. It did take a lot of tedious work, though. John wonders if Mrs. Hudson will let them take out her car and give it a spin now, just to lift Sherlock’s spirits a bit.

“She does need a therapist,” John says with a sigh, “No matter how much of an evil genius she is, entombed like that? Even a healthy person would go bonkers in there. Nothing to focus on but the mind itself.”

“And her violin,” Sherlock quietly adds. “If she cooperates, Mycroft says she may be allowed visitors… and maybe more help. She is still capable of causing a lot of damage.”

“Yeah,” John sighs again and gets up with the basket of clean laundry, “Music, you say?”

“Hmm,” Sherlock picks up a run-away sock from the floor and throws it in.

“You want to visit her, first.”

“Hmm.”

“For Christ’s sake,” John implores, “Don’t bring your shiny new violin out there. Go with a crappy one. And call me when you get there. I want to know if I need to hop on a helicopter to rescue your arse.” He pauses once more at the door of her bedroom and bellows. “And check out that the glass is there, first!!”

Sherlock throws him a look of utter affront up the stairs, “That really wasn’t fair!”

 

***

 

He has a late shift at the clinic the day Sherlock comes back from Sherrinford. Mrs. Hudson promised to babysit Rosie until he returned home. So, John is quite relieved to find lights inside when he enters the house. She must have left, so that means Sherlock is home.

He is. He is napping on the couch, his legs almost too long to fit properly, but Sherlock is more liquid than solid sometimes, he pulled himself into an impossible position and poured himself onto it, face down, snuggled into his quilt.

He should have been sleeping in a bed, really, John thinks, a bit desperately as he quietly pulls the pouf next to couch. “Hey,” he gently rubs his back, “How did it go?”

Sherlock lets out a huff of air and says tonelessly, “She played. We had a duet.”

“Yeah, I know, I called Mycroft,” John admits and continues rubbing up and down his back, seeing him relax into it, “He told me you left hours ago. Where you’ve been?”

Sherlock is silent for a while. “I went to visit Victor’s grave. His parents were there.”

“Oh…”

“They didn’t recognize me,” Sherlock adds.

“Oh,” John says softly, “At least they had a closure, yeah? Sometimes that’s all you can hope for.”

Sherlock’s back deflates with a sigh.

John looks at his wild array of perfect curls and thinks of them on a smaller, tinier version of Sherlock. He would have been adorable with his pirate hat and everything. John’s quite sure of it. His excuse of a beard was a bit ginger. Maybe he was a little bit more auburn back then? He might need to convince Mummy to bring out the photos next time she visits. John would love to see them.

“Do you want to talk about him?” John quietly asks.

Sherlock shakes his head. Then it seems he can’t quite stop himself, “I remember he was sweet to me,” he gasps, “All these years, his bones trapped down there, god, John.”

“It is horrifying what happened to him,” John whispers and swallows. He remembers quite clearly the horror he felt when he found the small skull. And he had Sherlock on the line, all the time. His heart squeezes when he thinks of the final moments of the little boy. He must have been so, so scared. “But in the end, you’ve found him. His parents finally know what happened to him.”

“Yes,” Sherlock croaks, and sniffs, wipes his face on his pillow.

“And you managed to save me, I'm glad for that,” John adds gently, seeing how miserable Sherlock is. Why did he ever think that this man could be anything but a soft-hearted creature? He gives up on his misplaced dignity, which he never really had anyway, and lifts a hand to bury his fingers in that lovely hair. “Take it easy a few days, alright? You’ve had quite a bit of shock, there. Baker Street is not going anywhere. You can stay here with me as long as you want.”

Sherlock gives him a small nod and closes his eyes. Soundlessly, he pushes his head a bit more into John’s hand. John gives him a small smile and scratches him a bit more firmly.

It really, really is not a chore. His hair is almost as soft as Rosie’s.

John internally sighs and quietly resigns on how his heart is kicking it up a notch.

Later when Sherlock crashes out again, his head on the pillow, balanced on John’s hip, barely into half an hour of the science program he insisted on watching instead of ‘the insipid sci-fi show’ John wanted and argued and bickered about it, claiming it was not scientifically possible until John gave up, exasperated, and here he is, not even seeing a blink of it. John looks down on him, so deep in sleep, he doesn’t even stir when John’s treacherous fingers are once again buried inside his curls.

Emotions get the best of him, John blinks a few times heavily and swallows.

Why is it so hard, when everything between them is so easy in here?

He watches until the end of the program and doesn’t get up from the sofa. It’s about space and distant stars anyway, something Sherlock knows nothing about and still, quite enjoys looking at it, apparently.

There must be a clever metaphor hidden in there but John is just tired of fighting with it.

 

***

 

Mrs. Hudson does let them borrow her car, only to drive her all the way up to the country, with Rosie strapped in the back, Sherlock in the front and John driving. It seems there is an old Persian artisan living up there, in a small little village, who produces amazing, handwoven carpets. She is quite old and almost blind and certainly deaf in one ear but she does have an army of young people who are willing to grin at the old woman yet still take her instructions to heart.

Rosie is quite beside herself when one of them quickly produces a handmade doll for her, with her exact clothes and hair and everything. John thanks the girl quite profusely and stays out of the hissing haggle Sherlock is currently conducting with the old woman. Apparently, they are old acquaintances, as she slips out her slipper to offer him an array of hand rolled tobacco, which Sherlock reluctantly has to decline after John’s very pointed looks.  

In the end, there is some light back in Sherlock’s eyes, Rosie has rosy cheeks and 221B has now some excellent carpets. John is pretty sure they will have some love marks on them pretty much instantly. He sees Mrs. Hudson winking at him with exactly the same thought passing through her head and he grins back at her. Well, that’s how the Baker Street works, really.

When they are back home, there is an unpleasant surprise waiting for him, though.

He swallows and calls Sherlock back from visiting Bart’s. Molly accepted his apology and his backed-up explanation but she still is quite angry and refuses to talk to him. Sherlock is trying to make it up to her by dropping by to bring her lunch and her favourites every few days.

She’ll give in, John knows this. Molly loves Sherlock. He is her friend. She pretty much helped him out of a big mess when no one else could. She just needs time to move on with her life and Sherlock does respect that. Sherlock does a lot of things for the people he loves and protects.

Hence the evidence of it, John has it in his hands.

Miss you, Mary’s handwriting says, her voice curling around the letters, I missed you, John. Have you missed me?

John can’t look in for an answer, scared of what he will find.

When her smiling, warm face appears for the last time on the screen, he already knows the answer.

P.S.,” says Mary from the screen, as always, a bit condescending, but still smiling, “I know you two. And if I’m gone, I know what you could become. Because I know who you really are. A junkie who solves crimes to get high and the doctor who never came home from the war. Will you listen to me, who you really are, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the legend. The stories. The adventures.

A tick of a smile appears in John’s cheek. The small part of him still decaying and agonizing over what happened, finally sighs in relief.

Because good god, she couldn’t be more wrong.

Sherlock seems very anxious. “Are you okay?” he quietly asks when it finally ends.

John snorts and carefully extracts the DVD to put it away safe, for later, for Rosie. “Yeah, actually, I am. I don’t have to pretend anymore that I didn’t know a single damn thing about my own wife when she was alive, because apparently, she didn’t know a nick about me either.”

Sherlock looks astonished, “But- but she was right- about, the thing- she said…”

John looks up and laughs. “Jesus, Sherlock- well, she was right about the flat being scruffy, I guess but all the things she said about me?... You? Solving crimes to get high or, I don’t know, scratch an itch or something. It’s such an inverted way of saying it.”

“It is?” Sherlock seems utterly confused by John’s non-agony.

John hasn’t realized before how much Mary’s previous misguided words had affected both of them. He does his best to undo the damage, now.

“Yeah,” John smiles at him, “She was also right about the best and wisest men thing, though and that’s about it. You’re not a fix,” He says and adds softly, “you’re my best friend, my favourite person in the world.”

Something soft and wobbly passes through Sherlock’s expression, he bites his lower lip and nods.

John grins devilishly and takes a step.

Sherlock shakes his head. “Nope, not this time… we don’t need to- oh for god’s sake.” He hugs John back with all his might though, so it’s okay.

 

***

 

221B is shaping up like a well-oiled machine, thanks to Mycroft Holmes’ hordes of efficient people. Martha does her best to install some critical adjustments, such as forcing them to take down the kitchen counter and clean the mess behind it. John and Sherlock visit regularly now and take great delight in spray painting the lovely, newly placed wallpaper and shooting it. Martha is not that crazy about it, but it’s worth it to see her boys throw a giggle fest over it, the idiots.

She hopes little Rosie will follow in her steps, instead of their brand of craziness. As a woman of the world, she has much to bestow on the little angel.

 

***

 

The last day before Sherlock is able to move back to Baker Street, they throw a small party over it. It consists of three people, John, Sherlock and Rosie, and it suits them all very well.

There are petit-fours everywhere, and John cannot eat even a single one more.

“Why are they so small and so varied?” Sherlock frowns at his array of tiny cakes. “It’s disturbing, no one can sample that many sweets.”

“God, please, make some coffee or something, I’m dying over here,” John begs from the floor. He is lying with a giant food belly on Rosie’s play mat while she finds it funny to crawl all over her daddy.

Sherlock grins, “It’s good character building to conquer your weaknesses.”

“I might vomit if Rosie decides to sit on me,” John warns.

“Alright, alright,” Sherlock chuckles and gathers up the cakes to deposit them safely in the fridge. Five minutes later there is a delicious smell of brewing coffee.

John finally manages to sit up and snuggle a sleepy Rosie, before taking her up to her bed. She makes a small fuss but quickly goes out like a light when she snuggles up to her elephant.

John caresses her silky, blond hair and quietly goes downstairs.

His cup of hot coffee is waiting for him. Sherlock is reclined on the couch, his feet up on the coffee table, half-interestedly watching the science show again. “Did she fall asleep okay?”

John makes an approving noise and takes his coffee to sit next to him. Their feet accidentally knock against each other. “That was a nice evening, wasn’t it? We should do more like this,” he says.  Sherlock makes an affirmative noise as well. Feeling a bit reckless, a bit forlorn, John adds, “I’ll miss you being here.”

Sherlock turns his head toward him. “I’ll be here. And you’ll be… there.” He quite suddenly lowers his head as well.

John swipes a bit of coffee off the brim of the cup. “Yeah,” he says and drinks some more, smiling a little crookedly, “Maybe you’ll get a bit more sleep, with um- without a baby around.”

Sherlock is astonished, “Rosie sleeps better than me, any day.”

John’s smile turns real, “Yeah, well, okay, I give you that. Got um- any new messages?”

Sherlock looks confused. “From who?”

John doesn’t answer, instead he inhales almost half of his cup.

Something clicks with his expression. “Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Sherlock angrily starts.

John clears his throat, “Alright, alright, I’ve thought I should… ask…” he mumbles.

“You’re being surprisingly unreasonable with this,” Sherlock comments, “I really don’t know what I have to say to convince you. Is it because of all those terrible spy movies you love to watch?”

John grumbles something under his breath, but when he sees Sherlock grinning, he can’t help but smile. After a few seconds, Sherlock’s expression sobers.

“John, um,” There are tiny frown lines in Sherlock’s face, he sits up and lowers his half-drunk cup on the table. “I wanted to thank you. These couple weeks- um, were unexpectedly hard, for me. I- you were great help.”

“Anytime,” John says softly.

“I- she… she scared me,” he admits, a nervous gesture travels through his hands, “Not because of what she has done but, what she has become. It’s… it’s terrifying.”

John puts his cup on to the coffee table and leans on his knees, squeezes his arm. “You are not like that.”

“You must warn me,” Sherlock turns to him, troubled, “I- you must warn me, if I. Ever. A brain, without a heart.”

John has a pained expression, “You are not, Sherlock- I swear you aren’t. Even back there, you were so good. With the... um, girl, not-real plane girl. Your brother. And your sister. You did really good.”

“I did?” Sherlock looks at him with disbelief.

“Yes, of course you did,” John wants to find the magical words which will erase that doubt, permanently, “You were amazing. Even with Molly,” he adds, “It’s a hard thing to do, what you did.”

“I broke her,” Sherlock mumbles.

“No, you saved her,” John corrects him, “I know she doesn’t want to talk to you now but, believe me, you did her a favour. She’ll come around. Sometimes it is good to air things out like that,” John lets out an awkward laugh, “She's hardly at fault for falling for you?”

Sherlock blinks at him, “Interesting.”

“What?” John grumbles.

Sherlock frowns, curious. “I insist that there is nothing between me and The Woman, yet you don’t believe me and you are angry with me for not being in a relationship with her, despite all I did was to save her life. But when it comes to Molly...”

John takes a drink, “Well, Molly is not a deranged criminal,” He can’t help but add, “And you mourned The Woman like a lovesick Romeo.”

“No, I didn’t!” Sherlock exclaims in anger.

“Shh,” John points upstairs and lightly knocks him with his shoulder as a warning and whispers, “Yes, you did. You composed all that sad music for her!”

Sherlock wants to strangle him, sometimes. “It wasn’t for her.”

John blinks at him, “What? Of course it was, you were inconsolable after you saw the fake body on the morgue,” John is struggling to bring up the memories, the silhouette of Sherlock playing forlornly in front of the window is a very permanent one. “You didn’t um- eat, barely spoke…” Sherlock lifts an eyebrow to him, John concedes, “Yeah, okay, I wasn’t very clear on that either.”

“She was just a puzzle then,” Sherlock corrects him, “I was trying to crack the code. And now, at the very best, she may be a… friend. She had me as her passcode, how is it any different than how I treat Molly?”

John looks at him, doubt still playing shadows in his eyes but he lowers his eyes and licks his lower lip, “You're right, of course. It isn’t,” he mumbles.

Sherlock examines him, “You’re still angry.”

John fidgets, “No, I’m not. I'm being unreasonable, you are right.”

“I wasn’t attracted to her,” Sherlock insists, hopefully for the last time.

John blurts, “Yeah- but you said the same thing for Moriarty as well, alright? There was a time- you thought he was next best thing ever, I- I still remember that. I think some part of me- worries.”

“About what?”

“People toying with you.”

Sherlock closes his mouth, eyes cast down.

John wants to curse himself. “It's not... I didn’t mean your sister. But yeah. You love them, you trust them and they break your heart. It's unfortunately part of being human,” John’s smile is a bit weak and bitter.

“What’s so great about it, then?” Sherlock quietly asks.

John looks up to him, eyes soft. “It could be an amazing thing, if done right.”

Unhappy, Sherlock looks down again and murmurs, “I wouldn’t know.”

John swallows and traces his cup, “Yeah, me either.” After a while, he looks up again and says, “Thank you.”

“For what?” Sherlock looks at him.

John shrugs a bit, but he can’t hide how happy it made him. He gives out a small smile. “I'm family.”

The expression on Sherlock’s face is soft, so full to the brim. “You are. Of course, you are,” he whispers, “You are more than that.”

John can’t look away. He can’t say anything. He is completely mirroring Sherlock, his entire body turned towards him, nothing but a few millimetres between them.

“Sherlock,” John whispers, his heart beating in his mouth, “Tell me if this isn’t something you want.”

Sherlock’s fingers crawl onto his arm, “It’s everything I want,” he says.

John kisses him.

On this couch, the very couch he first watched Greg's uncut version of his birthday video, back when he was still grieving like his heart was cut out of his chest. Where he drank countless bottles of various beverages just to be able to function enough to fool people around him. Where he missed and missed Sherlock.

He kisses Sherlock like he would give his right arm to see him alive back then, desperately.

And it’s not just a kiss. It’s a heartfelt conversation, of sorts. He captures Sherlock’s lower lip between his lips, confessing, I wanted to do this for a long time, Sherlock catching his upper one, me too, for a really long time, another breathless, long one, sorry it took so, so long, a smaller, cuter kiss, it’s okay, it’s okay John, everything’s okay now.      

He is shaking. Sherlock has secured his face between his warm palms, timid thumbs caressing his cheeks, hesitant, yet so keen to stay there. Much like how John has spent hours caressing his lovely hair, hesitant, yet cherishing. He never expected even a slice of his feelings could be returned back then, much less this avalanche of devotion.

He can’t do anything for a minute but take crucial breaths and let Sherlock kiss him however he wanted, so entirely overcome. Sherlock breathes for him, kisses him and gently, oh, so gently coaxes him out. He feels less like his heart is going to burst out of his chest any minute and more like it may be okay if he hangs on to Sherlock. Sherlock makes a small huff of encouragement when John holds on to his elbows and returns to the kiss. It’s so fond, so full of affection for each of them. It tells a long, arduous story full of injurious adventures. Sherlock’s fingers on his hair tells him how injurious they were, and no, he doesn’t need any apologies. John tries to, anyway, drawing him closer, much closer, any closer and he would be inside his chest, where he really belongs anyway.

He has been really brave whole time, so John lets him rest a minute where Sherlock breathes in and out, his brow resting on John’s, while John kisses his cheekbones, his orbital bones, all of his lovely bones, really.

They meet once again when John’s lips catch on the corner of his mouth, Sherlock doing his absolute best to take it as slow as possible, savouring each new kiss. John gives them like he has endless supply of them, an array of hundreds, millions of varieties. Will it be possible to learn every single one of them, some day?

It ends as naturally as it has started, in one minute they were talking, by the other they were talking in a whole new way. John hasn’t broken off with him completely, his face still leaning on Sherlock’s, he is taking deep, chest expending, short breaths.

Sherlock wants to have something to hang on, staggeringly anxious about the silence, his fingers crawl between John’s, who immediately squeezes them back.

“Could you,” John breathes out, not able to open his eyes and look at Sherlock, “could you possibly give me a second, here?”

Frightful, Sherlock could do nothing but squeeze his hand and nod. John gets up to his feet and goes upstairs. Heart beating in his throat, frozen where he is, Sherlock hears him close his bedroom door and something heavy, like a bedframe, being violently kicked. Another loud thunk and John is crying.

He is trying so hard to stifle the sounds that he first doesn’t hear Sherlock’s soft call of his name.

“I should go,” Sherlock murmurs through the thick wood, in sorrow.  

“No,” John gasps and tries to take breaths where he collapsed, “No, please… You, um- you can come in.”

Silently the door opens and a minute later, Sherlock is sitting on the floor next to him, his shoulder and hips in line with his. John chokes out a laugh, “God, I’m such an arsehole,” he gasps out and rubs his face harshly, “This- this is not fair to you. I would kick their arses if anybody else has done this to you. Do you understand? It’s not fair.”

Sherlock swallows, his hand once again creeping towards John’s, feeling a bit better when John doesn’t fight him back. “I don’t want fair,” he says, “I- I don’t want anything, really.”

John lets his limbs fall down. His whole body turns towards Sherlock’s. He squeezes his hand, hard. “You should. You deserve the world.”

“I love you, John,” Sherlock tells him, soft.

John’s expression of self-hate breaks into pieces. He is crying again. “I love you, too,” he says, then lifts their hands together, “Is that enough? For a while?”

Sherlock’s body instantly bleeds out whatever rigidness is holding it up. “It’s more than enough,” he breathes out in relief.

He is once again, anxiously waiting downstairs. The sound of water ceases, after a minute John is down there, his face newly washed. He wastes no time to walk right into Sherlock’s side, sitting down next to him, drawing him to his chest, lying down and arranging them on the sofa. They snuggle under the blanket, concealing themselves, like they want to hide from the world. When Sherlock has his head to his chest, he is finally able to breathe easily.

Just holding him, caressing his neck, having those curls crumble under his fingers, it is the best night of John’s life.

They sleep like children, clutching on to each other, afraid of letting go.

 

***

 

Belstaff on, Sherlock lingers on the doorstep of the kitchen, picking his stuff up and putting it back down.

“You don’t have to leave-” John bites his lower lip, he puts Rosie’s little water cup in front of her, “I mean, whenever you want to, you can come back, anytime.”

Rosie shakes her cup at Sherlock enthusiastically. Sherlock caresses her head with one hand. “You too,” he says.

“Of course,” John replies, seemingly very shaken at the sight of Sherlock’s bags. His eyes keep wandering down to them.

“John,” Sherlock hesitates, “can I kiss you once more?”

That snaps his attention back. John stays petrified for one second, then in another, he is grabbing Sherlock and drawing him down. The height difference doesn’t really matter when, where Sherlock wants to be is on his level. They kiss like they will never see each other again, with the agony of long separated lovers.

Sherlock lets out a breath. He isn’t sure which side of reality is better- not knowing how it is to kiss John or knowing it, and not being able to get enough of it.

“Sherlock,” John’s hand brushes his face, “I- I can’t do this in, in this house, okay? But please don’t… don’t leave today. You can move back to Baker Street, tomorrow.” His voice is all over the place, “I don’t know,” he rambles helplessly, “I don’t know what to do.”

Sherlock sighs, his arms still on John’s waist. “Two bedrooms.”

“Yeah,” John gnaws on his own lower lip.

Sherlock continues, “You can’t just. Move in. Two bedrooms.”

“Yeah,” John nods as if he thought of the same thing.

Sherlock swallows against the cruel joke the universe has created for them. He should have rented 221C as well, back in the day. It’s no use, now. “What if I sleep on the couch?” he suggests.

John laughs out, brokenly, “For how long?” he says, “What- um, what people would say,” he adds, his voice gone all small.

“I miss you,” Sherlock says simply, he learned to do this with John, the hard way. “When you are not in there, it’s… it’s not the same. 221B is home, but,” Sherlock looks around, shrugs, “This too, was close. Here. But only because of you.”

John nods miserably.

“I don’t know what to say. I want you to be there,” Sherlock adds, “Wherever you feel comfortable. I don’t know what can I say,” he lets out a breath like he is frustrated with his inability to solve their problem.

Rosie lets out a series of incomprehensible babbles, shaking both of her hands, including the one with her water cup, spraying it everywhere. It sounds awfully like she is trying to say something.

It makes John smile. “Could you not leave today? Let’s not… for today. Let me. Let me think about it. Let’s take a walk with Rosie.”

It’s an amazing day to be out and Sherlock would do anything John asks, for much less.

***

 

In the end, it is very, very simple. It is so simple that John wants laugh with it, hysterically, of how dumb he has been.

After Sherlock returns back to 221B Baker Street, it takes exactly one day for John to understand that he is not home.

The house is just an empty shell of what he tried to build when Sherlock was not there. Even Rosie looks forlorn, like she knows someone is missing.

Mary knew.

Mrs. Hudson knew.

Hell, everybody knew.

In the end, John knew, too.

The task is still overwhelming. He needs a lot of help.

But Sherlock built 221B for them. Perhaps now, he can return the favour.

 

***

 

It is the hardest thing John has ever pulled off.

“Oh, John,” Mrs. Hudson has cried constantly since she was given the news, “He was so disconsolate yesterday. So unhappy to be back here. Oh, I can’t stop crying, this is such wonderful news, I’m sorry…”

“It’s okay,” John nervously fidgets and looks around the group of people he has gathered. “Do you think we can manage it?”

Mycroft is standing next to Rosie’s highchair, who is curiously examining the tall man’s umbrella. “Well, with my help, we ought to.”

Greg bounces between his heels, both excited and anxious, “Somebody needs to get him out of there. I don’t have any cases on right now.”

Mycroft texts something, “You have now. It’s a dud, of course but it won’t take much from police resources.”

“Alright,” Greg nods, serious, “I’d better leave now, John, so that we have time-”   

“Okay, yeah, thank you,” John breathes out.

Molly comes out of the kitchen, wiping her face, still sniffling, “I’m sorry, sorry,” she babbles, “It’s. It’s NOT- I’m happy, that’s all. I. We talked, before. And- he… he told me. I’m so happy for him. For both of you.”

John is so grateful for her grace, he feels a burst of affection for her. If it was him in her shoes, he wouldn’t be that graceful about it, that’s for sure. “Thank you, Molly,” he says softly and hugs her.

Molly smiles and bends down to pick Rosie, who is cheerfully enthusiastic to see her.

Greg slaps him on the shoulder, “Good luck, mate,” he says, grinning, utterly happy.

Mycroft is last to leave, standing on the doorstep, he lifts an eyebrow to John. He has a knowing, gentle expression on his face. “I suppose after all, I will be welcoming you to the family, John,” he says, smiling, “Finally.”

True to his word, Mycroft is a godsend. With his horde of people and Mrs. Hudson combined, they are a force to be reckoned with. John knows what he has to do and with an army given to command, he does so, willingly.

At five o ‘clock, everything is done.

The car is sold.

The house is sold.

The few items of Mary’s he wanted to keep safe for Rosie, are kept secure in Mrs. Hudson’s house, on her insistence.

He arranges Billy to secure the perimeter, while they move into Baker Street. John’s old room upstairs has been converted into a beautiful room for Rosie. Remembering the anatomical bee socks, John picked a light grey wallpaper for her, with amazingly detailed animal drawings.  

Her highchair is in the kitchen.

Her toy mat is in the entrance.

The entire flat is already pretty secure, but he still has a few places to be baby proofed.

John hangs the last of his shirts into Sherlock’s new wardrobe, next to his jackets, and breathes out. His flat mate spent almost a month on his couch. He won’t let him stay on the couch this time.

Finally, he sits on the bed and looks at his ring and carefully removes it. He puts it inside the small bag where he keeps his army stuff, next to Mary’s engagement ring.

He is finally, home.

 

***

 

Sherlock is suspicious. The case is barely a two, yet Greg insists on dragging him to every possible corner of London, utterly distracted with his phone. He feels eyes on him whenever he tries to run off, once or twice.  One of the homeless network even bumps into him, causing him to be caught.

Finally he snaps, when he can’t take anymore of Greg’s useless chatter. “What the hell is going on?! Did my brother put you up to this?? Whatever he promised you, it’s a LIE,” he emphasises, voice gone hard.

Greg gives him a sheepish look, “It’s not your brother okay, it’s almost time anyway. I’ll drive you home.”

“No! I’ll go myself, leave me alone,” Even thinking of the empty 221B hurts, now.

Greg grabs him from the arm, “I bloody will, for your own sake, you useless oaf. I have to.”

Sherlock suddenly feels quite unnerved. Did something happen to Mrs. Hudson? “What’s going on?” he asks, his voice shaking.

Greg looks at his wobbling lower lip and swears, “Oh, bollocks. It’s good. It’s good. Come on. Trust me.”

He doesn’t let go of Sherlock until they are at the door of 221B. Thankfully, Mrs. Hudson bursts out of the flat, unharmed but quite obviously crying.

“Oh, Sherlock,” she sniffs, “I- I have to go to the shops… I’ll be back, soon.”

“The shops are closed,” Sherlock says helplessly, bewildered and very much scared of breathing. He can see the door knob- it is crooked.

“Greg will take me, yes?” Mrs. Hudson nods at the D.I., who is enthusiastically nodding his head, then she hugs him. “Oh, you. Go, on.”

They drive off in Lestrade’s car.

Sherlock is suddenly very nervous. For the first time in his life, he has trouble of trusting the evidence in front of him. He doesn’t want to believe. He can’t believe.

Slowly, he opens the door.

It’s evident even at the entrance.

Baby car.

John’s black coat.

Rosie’s tiny coat.

Overwhelmed, he grabs the handrail. He can even hear her little chattering, upstairs.

Slowly, he climbs the seventeen steps.

John is there, waiting.

Rosie is in her highchair. In the kitchen. Their kitchen.

“If. If you,” John rambles, as nervous as he is, “Have no objections. Um, I really hope you don’t have any. We. We’d like to stay here. Permanently.” John swallows and adds, “As. As a family. Us three. I would like to be your boyfriend. Or partner. Whichever. In a romantic way as well. I’m- I’m not sure how you feel- about husband, yet, but- but that’s not out of the options either.”

John,” Sherlock whispers.

John laughs out shakily, “Please say something, I’m about to lose it here, Sherlock.”

Sherlock needs only to take two steps to reach and grab him, and kiss him until he is senseless with it. “Yes,” he says between kisses, “Yes. To all of it. Yes.”

John lets out a breath of utter relief, “Thank god,” he laughs.

“You’ve given me everything,” Sherlock says, completely overwhelmed.

“Yeah,” John whispers, still shaking a bit with residual nerves, “I told you- you deserve it.”

“I’m taking it,” Sherlock says to him firmly, “it’s mine, I’ve taken it now.”

“Good,” John laughs, “Can we, um. Sit down. A bit. That was nerve wrecking.”

Sherlock grabs Rosie out of her chair as well, hugging her firmly and bringing her to the couch.

John is already sitting there, breathing deeply, blinking away the tears.

Sherlock makes her sit on his knees, facing them, “Rosie,” he whispers, “you can tell your daddy now, we don’t have to keep it secret.”

Rosie looks at him seriously as she gnaws the ear of her elephant one more minute then plops it out. She grins toothlessly and says, “Sheelock!

“Oh, you,” John laughs out in tears, “her first bloody word-”

“Daddy!” Rosie exclaims and beams in delight, putting her sticky hands all over his face, “Daddy, Sheelock! Baaa!”

John grabs her and kisses all over her face. He is beaming with happiness, when he turns to Sherlock, “A true Watson, she is,” he says to him, “already obsessed with you.”

Sherlock bends down to kiss his face, “Well, I’m obsessed with both of you, as well.”

John grabs and kisses him properly, until Rosie puts both of her hands onto their faces, babbling quite happily.

Grinning madly, he lets himself lie back onto Sherlock’s chest and listen to him instruct Rosie how to say his name properly.

 

***