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Double Entente

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John Watson was floating, hanging suspended in a sea of thick molasses. His limbs were sluggish and slow to obey him. It had been like this since he had come back to London. Lost and slow and out of rhythm with the busy hustling crowds. He barely felt his own body save for the constant dull ache in his—technically perfectly healthy—leg. He heard the commotion around him, the happy buzzing of strangers meeting for the first time over a gin cocktail and the laughter of old mates reuniting for a pint after work. He heard it. But the noise reached him as if he were sinking to the bottom of some pitless, ever expanding well and everyone else was standing at the top, in the light, living, laughing, whole, without him.

He was staring at the gentle effervescence on the surface of his Guinness when a familiar figure slid into the seat opposite him. 

“Watson,” said the booming friendly voice, “thank you for coming.”

“Not like I was doing much else, to be honest,” John admitted, flashing a smile at his old friend despite his state of depression.

“And that’s the other reason I asked to meet,” said Bill Murray, a fellow army Captain and one of the best shots John had ever encountered, “I heard about what happened, Watson. And I’m terribly sorry. You’re the last person who should be sitting at home. You weren’t meant for that.”

John smiled bitterly. “Well, I won’t be running around in a desert any time soon,” he said, pointing at his  leg, “or shooting at things, for that matter. Honestly I was surprised when you said you needed my help. I don’t know that I can help you in any substantive way unless you’ve got a cold and you need an unemployed doctor.”

Bill regarded him with a stern look. “It’s not like you to be self-pitying.”

“It’s hard to keep the self-esteem up when I’ve got nothing to do."

“I may be able to help with that.”

“Go on.”

“I’m coming to you because we need someone we can trust. Not just someone we can trust with sensitive information but also someone who’ll do the job right. But it can’t be someone in active service, it needs to be someone living as a civilian,” Bill explained, “that left us with a very short list. You’re the only man for the job.”

“The job being?”

“I’ve been brought in to work in conjunction with MI6. Someone is selling our movements to the other side, John,” Bill whispered gravely.

“Jesus Christ. How?” John breathed, sitting up. He was immediately on alert and concerned for the troops he was no longer leading.

“That’s what we’re tasked to figure out. We know it’s happening. They know things. They know some classified information. We’ve had to evacuate two bases and put three more on high alert,” Bill whispered, edging forward in his seat. “We have a few leads and I need you to investigate one of them.”

“Yes,” John agreed immediately. “Of course. Anything you need.”

“The prime suspect…is a civilian, highly intelligent, history of drug abuse but no criminal record per se, has an older brother high up in the intelligence community,” Bill explained.

“So he and the brother are colluding?” John ventured. 

“No,” Bill sighed. “If anything he’s stealing information from the brother and selling it. The older brother has been monitored and cleared but this man…he’s clever enough to steal that type of information from his brother. We think he’s working for a source named M who is then selling it to the Taliban.”

“What? M like in James Bond?” John giggled.

Bill gave him a chiding look, which made him sober up. 

“And how am I supposed to confirm this?” John asked. 

“The subject is here tonight,” Bill said. “That’s why I asked to meet here. We’ve been tracking him and knew where he was going to be but we can’t get close enough to monitor his exact activities. That’s where you come in. We need someone to get close to him and bring us information. His routines, who he meets with, computer files and phone calls.”

“Whoa,” John said, holding up his hands in surrender, “I don’t know how I would do that.”

Bill winked at him. “I didn’t choose you without a reason Three Continents Watson.”

“No, no, no,” John said, shaking his head. “I’m not actually 007. I’m not going to sleep with someone as a surveillance measure. Why doesn’t an actual MI6 agent do this?”

“Because he’s too clever. He’ll know MI6. He’ll know you’re a retired Captain but that’s not suspicious in and of itself,” Bill explained. “Please, John. No one is asking you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. Woo him, take him out, be around him for a few days so we can track him.”

“You said he’s a suspect,” John pointed out, “what if the poor bloke’s innocent?”

“Then no harm done!”

“Except a fake relationship!”

“Look,” Bill said, exasperated, “I’m not asking you to hurt anyone. Just do whatever is necessary to get close. I’ll have a file dropped off at your place with the information we’ll need. There is stick you need to get on his laptop that will copy the contents and let us monitor them but other than that, it’ll mostly just be monitoring his movements and reporting them back. Nothing indiscreet, nothing you’d feel uncomfortable sharing. Everything you need will be included in the file. We’ll meet again in ten days and hopefully your observations will help our analysts make definitive conclusions. We’ll let you know about the time and location as the date gets closer. It’s best if we have no contact until then, just in case.”

“What if he’s not interested?”

Bill rolled his eyes. “Then make him interested. What do you say?"

John took a swig of his beer and shook his head. This didn’t sit right with him. He was a man of action, not of lies or tricks. He dealt with the enemy in blows and guns, not words and deception. Yet, he’d been adrift this past month and this was the first hint of a mooring. 

“John, can I count on you?” Bill said. “It could be dangerous. I know how you love that."

John set his jaw and nodded once. 

“Excellent,” Bill exclaimed, looking relieved.

“Now where is this man I’m supposed to be seducing?” John said, already feeling a hint of adrenaline seep into his tired limbs and light him on fire. 

“Turn subtly. Your five o’clock, sitting at the table near the bar,” Bill said.

John shifted ever so slightly to regard the man from the corner of his eyes. The young man in question had must have just been told something ridiculous by the woman sitting next to him because he snorted derisively and rolled his eyes, leaning back in his seat and stretching out his impossibly long legs. His inky curls framed his angular face and pale sharp eyes perfectly. But beyond the fact that the man was good looking in a very odd way, what arrested John was the sharp and focused way in which he regarded his companion and the rest of the room, as if he were seeing through each and every one of them. He was breathtaking.
“That…” John mumbled. “Yeah. I can do that.”

 “No, no, no,” Sherlock announced, sighing in exasperation. “He has a girlfriend. Serial cheat. And a mortgage the size of London.” Better not bother Molly with the fact that his nails and fingers indicated his poor lovemaking.

Molly groaned. This was the third man she’d suggested going up to and just as many that Sherlock had dismissed as unsuitable. “Are there any non-philandering men in this entire bar?” she asked, dropping her head to rest on the table, rather melodramatically. “Why are all men pigs?” 

“Well, I would say that’s rooted in the historically patriarchal structure of society which has created an inflated sense of entitlement and self-worth for most young—“
“That was really a rhetorical question, thanks,” she said, still frowning. “The good ones are either uninterested, self-proclaimed sociopaths with a fondness for dead people or they’re perfectly nice and take me out for a lovely meal only to never call me back again.”
Sherlock granted her a smile for the “uninterested sociopath” joke: a sly reference to the period (early in their association) when she had been endlessly fascinated and besotted with him. Then he waved away her complaint with a flick of his wrist. “As I’ve already told you, you were too honest with your last boyfriend," Sherlock said with a cool edge. Relationships were tedious and awful and he wasn’t about to pretend otherwise. “As you have been with every previous boyfriend of yours. You let them see that you are interested and your unconcealed emotional vulnerability drives them away. That, coupled with your willingness to leave lengthy voicemails and your unabashed attempts to make them…” He paused here, lowering his voice to a whisper, lest the entire pub hear what he was about to say: “Your unabashed attempts to make them “snuggle" with you while watching Glee!
Molly, long immune to his form of honesty, which would have lesser men and women weeping, simply frowned at him. “I’m only being honest about who I am. You’re wrong about people, Sherlock.”
“I’m really not. I manipulate them every single day. My work depends on it.”
“Yeah, you’re good at all the surface stuff but…I’d rather be honest about who I am so I that the person I end up with is someone who likes me…well, for me and not some fabricated version I put on to impress people,” Molly said sagely, taking a generous sip of her wine.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and was about to obliterate her with a searing comeback when his phone finally chimed with the long-awaited phone call. “I have to take this Molly,” he said, leaning back in his seat. “Hello, brother dear,” he cooed. 

“Sherlock. I see you followed my instructions and are on-location despite your myriad insistences that you were not interested in this mission,” Mycroft said smugly.

“I’m bored. All the good criminals seem to be on holiday,” Sherlock sighed, “where is the target? What’s the objective?”

“Patience, brother. He’s in the building,” Mycroft assured him. “Sherlock, let me put aside our enmity for a moment to tell you that I would not have asked this of you if I didn’t think it required more skill and discretion than even our highest MI6 agent could manage.”


“There are only two scenarios at play: either the target is completely innocent or he is working directly for M and gathering classified information for him and is, therefore, lethal. Do not let your guard down,” Mycroft told him.

Sherlock sucked in a breath.

“Ah, I see I have your attention. Perhaps I should have told you earlier that this involves Moriarty. I forgot that you were particularly interested in him."

“No you didn’t. You haven’t forgotten a single thing in your life,” Sherlock snapped, “brief me on my mission. Quickly.”

“Returned army doctor. Wounded in Afghanistan. Possibility he was recruited by Sebastian Moran while he was serving there, more likely he was recruited after his injury and is now exploiting old army contacts as a way in and stealing information for M. Any MI6 surveillance would set off their crew and they would extract him. It has to be you. You have to make it look like you’re interested in him but have no clue about his possible criminal activities. Get close. Deduce and observe and tell me whether or not he’s a threat. It’s entirely possible that M is planting information to falsely point us in his direction but I think there is a genuine possibility that he’s high in the ranks,” Mycroft explained.

“This sounds tedious,” Sherlock sighed, “and beneath my pay grade. Seriously, Mycroft? You want me to seduce someone because he may or may not be working with Morairty and Moran?”

“Don’t be alarmed, Sherlock. You don’t have to have sex with him,” Mycroft teased.

“Alarmed? I’m not alarmed.”

“Well, then, look to your left. Table in the back corner. He’s wearing a brown jacket and a rather plain blue shirt. I can’t ID his companion, probably he’s meeting with an old friend. He’s been rather diligent at pretending he’s living a completely boring and normal life,” Mycroft told him.

Sherlock turned around ever so slightly just as the man in question was rising to his feet. He had sandy blond hair and a strong and soldierly bearing. It was a matter of a split-second but Sherlock saw it: the man stood steadily on both feet before one leg gave out and he had to reach for his cane. The limp: it was psychosomatic. Interesting.

“I’ll take the case,” Sherlock said immediately and ended the call.

“Sherlock,” Molly sighed, unsurprised, from his left, “did you ask me out for a drink and offer a bit of wingman help as a cover for one of your brother’s ridiculous missions?”

Sherlock grinned at her maniacally, unapologetic, and put down a few notes on the table, rising to his feet. "No need to worry. You've been an excellent cover, Molly. I have to go seduce a bisexual retired army doctor with a psychosomatic limp now. Laterz."

John really didn’t have any plans beyond making it to the bar and sending the young man a pint of beer. Did someone who wore a suit like that even drink beer? Wine? Whisky? John had confidence in his abilities but it had been years since he’d chatted up strangers at pubs and he was suddenly aware that he had a limp, no job, out-of-fashion clothes and a diminishing savings account.
“Two pints of the house brew,” John said to the bartender, handing over his card. “One for me. And do you mind sending the other one to that man—“
“Afghanistan or Iraq?”
John turned to find himself staring straight into the cold green-grey eyes of the exact man in question. The first thought that popped into John’s mind was that surely, he couldn’t be a spy because he was about as discreet as a movie star. He was dressed exactly as one would imagine a spy to be dressed in a movie: sleek, dark, expensive but discreet. 
“What?” John stammered after a moment.
“Was it Afghanistan or Iraq?” the man repeated, holding the hard ‘k’ sound in his mouth for a second longer than necessary. The man was smirking and looked perhaps even more striking up close. John was baffled by his question.
“Afghanistan. How did you—“
“Two house brews for you,” the bartender said. “Who did you want me to give the second one to?”
“Never mind. I seem to have found him on my own,” John said, pushing the pint over to the man.
It was the man’s turn, seemingly, to be surprised. “Excuse me?”
“I was just going to send you a pint and you magically appeared behind me,” John said, smiling slyly. “Seems like we’re of the same mind, you and I.”
“Very funny. Who were you actually buying that beer for?” asked the stranger, eyes narrowed in curiosity.
John blinked. “You.”
“You really were, weren’t you?” the stranger whispered in surprise, more to himself, and finally took a sip of the offered pint.
“Yes, I saw you at your table with your friend and it was….a little hard to stop looking,” John said, slipping into what Bill called “Captain Watson flirting mode".
The man looked torn between blushing and rolling his eyes at the obviousness of the line.
“Is that your girlfriend?” John asked.
“Girlfriend?” the stranger snorted. “Not really my area.”
“Good. That’s good. Are you going to thank me for the drink then?” John teased.
“I’m bored,” the stranger said curtly. 
“You must get bored very easily,” John raised his brows. 

“You’ve no idea,” agreed the stranger with a slight smile on his lips, “let’s get out of here."

John stared at him incredulously. “We’ve only just met and you want me to leave with you?”
“I could be a serial killer for all you know,” John said.
The man seemed to find this inordinately amusing and laughed heartily. “No you really couldn’t.”
“Alright then. Dinner?” John ventured.
“Starving,” the stranger said, pulling on the coat he had been holding.
“John Watson.”
“Sherlock Holmes,” said the stranger. “I know a good Chinese place down the road.”

"And you could tell all of those things about me just by watching me walk across a room?” John Watson said to him later as they exited a taxi. "That's actually brilliant. Unbelievable."
Ah, good. Sherlock had given him the toned down version of his deductions, careful not to be too honest lest he scare away this man whom he needed to seduce. 

Still, it was surprising that John was responding to his magic trick with genuine amazement rather than faint amusement. Just as it had been surprising to find out, back in the bar, that John had been genuine when he had said that he’d been intending to send him a drink. Was it possible that in addition to being a snitch and a security threat, he was also a good enough spy that he knew what Sherlock was up to and was playing him? Was he faking interest so well that even Sherlock was fooled? Unlikely. This man, however interesting, was still ordinary. Hardly a criminal mastermind. Certainly not enough to fool Sherlock.

Possible that he was guilty of what Mycroft was accusing him of? Yes. Possible. Only time would tell.

Well, at least Sherlock wouldn’t be bored to death by this man in the meanwhile. He would do Mycroft's bidding. It was always good to have the most powerful man in England owe one a favour and even better to have one's smug older brother in one's debt. And if he managed to solve the mystery of the psychosomatic limp in the meanwhile, all the better for him.

“That was amazing."

“Amazing?” Sherlock snorted, a little disbelieving.

“Yes. Absolutely extraordinary,” his companion said breathlessly as he held the door of the restaurant open for him, looking at him like he was…interested in him. “What else can you deduce?"

Sherlock paused in the doorway for a moment, staring at this anomaly of a war hero, this man who was interested in his deductions for some mad reason, and then stepped into the restaurant, smirking slightly.

“Well, I can always guess the fortune cookies.”

John snorted, following him inside. “No you can’t.”

It had been two hours since John had met Sherlock Holmes and he knew three things with absolute certainty: One, this man was clever enough to have done exactly what Bill had suspected him of. Two, nothing but his impressive intellect even remotely suggested he would be guilty of what Bill had suspected him of and, what? Were they going to start investigating everyone who had a brother in the government and dared to be smart? Three, he was the most fascinating man John had ever met.

The man he was supposed to be seducing had approached him first out of a bar full of people and that should have made him suspicious but he dismissed the nagging thought. Surely, hitting on injured war veterans when one could be hitting on sleek bankers was a little unusual but, much like being intelligent, was not a crime.

John was sifting through all of this information as put down his chopsticks for the umpteenth time that evening and stopped eating lest he choke on his shrimp Lo Mein from laughter induced by Sherlock’s deductions. He didn't want to die a sudden and tragic death just when his life was beginning to look stunningly interesting.

“Alright, what about those two? The couple sitting in the booth by the kitchen,” John prompted him, drinking more of his beer.

“Ah, the women is clearly fantasizing about having sex with Brad Pitt and the man is a former drug dealer who is currently employed as a clown and struggling to master the art of juggling more than three objects,” Sherlock deadpanned.

“Now you’re just making things up to make me laugh,” John said, giggling.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Sherlock said, eyes glimmering mischievously. 

“So…consulting detective then?”

“Only one in the world.”

“Well, you’re very good at it. I can tell,” John said, feeling happy for the first time in a long time. 

“And you, John Watson, what do you do now that you’re not off shooting people in a desert?”

“Can’t you tell?” John teased lightly.

This seemed to sober Sherlock Holmes, who stopped smiling and looked at him with wide earnest eyes. “You’re not doing anything,” he said, “that’s a shame. You don’t deserve to be bored like that.”

John looked away from the focused stare and went back to the noodles on his plate, suddenly feeling exposed and uncomfortable. “Well, life’s not fair, is it?”

“Would you—would you like to come up for coffee?” Sherlock blurted out as the cab pulled up in front of 221B. 

He said it in a way that came off as perfectly spontaneous and adventurous but in truth he had been planning this moment (this illusion of authenticity and timidness) since they had been cracking open fortune cookies in the Chinese restaurant (Sherlock had managed to guess one out of three). John Watson hesitated for a long moment. Sherlock found that he was genuinely disappointed that the man was not more enthusiastic about his invitation and a little afraid he had misinterpreted the nature of his interest entirely. More important than his hurt pride, however, was that he needed John Watson to be wooed in order to carry out the mission Mycroft had burdened him with. 

Ah, well, he’d have to find another (less romantic) avenue to John Watson’s secrets.

“Never mind,” he said hastily, opening the door to get out of the cab. “I seem to have misunderstood—“

But suddenly there was a warm hand on his, keeping him in place. “You didn’t misunderstand a single thing,” John said to him in a low whisper, licking his lips. “This is fine for both of us, thank you,” he said to the driver and paid for the cab. 

He never let go of Sherlock’s hand. Odd. Not when he was paying the cabbie, not when Sherlock struggled to unlock the door with one hand, not when they struggled up the stairs, not when they stumbled into the flat.They walked slowly, letting the charged silence stretch between them.

“Sorry about the—er, mess,” Sherlock said, waving his free hand around to indicate the general state of the sitting room, as John’s free hand slipped around his waist.

John chuckled, still holding his hand with his left and pulling him close with the other. “It’s charming,” he said, his breath tickling the nape of Sherlock’s neck. “It suits you.”

Sherlock’s eyes fluttered closed as he felt the ghost of John’s lips trailing along his jaw. The hands holding him by the waist were firm, one thumb gently massaging circles on the small of his back. And Sherlock realized after a moment that he was just standing there uselessly, clutching at John’s arms. This really wasn’t his area. He had invited John upstairs with the hopes of shagging him into wanting a second date but the likelihood that he would botch this up was near certain and he needed to guide the night back to safe territory if he didn't want to put John off entirely.

“Can I get you tea?” Sherlock ventured, struggling to speak evenly.




“What would you like?”

“You,” said John and then pressed him against the door and kissed him.

“I—haven’t—done this—since— I was—a bloody— teenager,” John giggled between kisses once they were sprawled on the couch.

“Picked up a mysterious stranger at a bar and let them lure you to what could have been a death trap after excellent late-night Chinese food?” teased the young man stretched beneath him on the couch.

“No…well, that too, but I meant snogging someone senseless on the sofa like this for half an hour,” John said, smiling at the way Sherlock shuddered when he kissed his throat. “I’m half expecting my mother to walk in on us.”

“Let’s hope not. That would be highly unusual,” Sherlock chuckled, pulling him down for another kiss. 

The job. John still had a job to do but spending the next ten days wooing Sherlock Holmes was going to be no problem at all. He deeply doubted that Sherlock, the same man who had so enthusiastically told him of all the crimes he’d solved, could be guilty of what Bill had said. Only a few hours after meeting Sherlock, his mission already seemed like it was nothing more than a lucky coincidence that was meant to help him meet this man.

He adjusted his weight to the side and winced when his leg reminded him once more that he was not as whole as he’d once been. He sucked in a breath in surprise, which caused Sherlock to look up at him with concern.

“What’s wrong?”

“My damn leg,” he grunted, trying not to sound ashamed. The younger man didn’t seem to mind and simply pulled him down, making him put most of his weight on Sherlock’s torso and off his aching leg. John kissed him again and then broke away, looked down at Sherlock’s half-lidded eyes and bruised lips and grinned.

“You’re…breathtaking,” John whispered, genuinely winded. Sherlock coloured slightly and averted his eyes, looking suddenly self-conscious. 

“Hey, no,” John said, cupping his face with one hand and kissing him again. “I didn’t mean to make you...I just…couldn’t help it. You’re stunning.”

He felt Sherlock relax beneath him and smile into the kiss. “You’re really quite good as well,” he said teasingly, mumbled against his lips.

Sherlock woke up warm, aching and oddly content and wedged between the back of the sofa and Dr. John Watson. This was odd because Sherlock: a) Did not sleep. b) Did not fall asleep accidentally. c) Did not fall asleep accidentally snuggling anyone let alone a stranger. d) Had possibly fallen asleep in the arms of a dangerous spy whom he had meant to be wooing, not drooling on.

He sat up with a start, panicked and distressed, and almost caused the man lying beside him on the couch to fall to the floor. John jerked awake and braced one hand on the coffee table and just barely managed to keep from stumbling over.

“Well good morning to you too,” he laughed, voice rough from disuse. He blinked rapidly in the face of the too-bright room and reached out to card his fingers through Sherlock's hair.

Sherlock extracted his legs from where they were tangled in John’s and leapt over him and off the couch. He was speechless. 

“It’s been ages since I fell asleep kissing someone, to be honest,” John laughed again, seemingly undisturbed by this rather disturbing turn of events and by Sherlock’s apparent state of panic. How was he so unruffled? Sherlock was nearly having a panic attack and this man was just laughing and looking at him affectionately. 

“That wasn’t meant to happen,” Sherlock whispered to himself, distraught.

“Well, no. But it was nice nonetheless,” John sat up, stretching and cracking his back. “A little uncomfortable on the back and leg but very nice."

“It’s all ruined,” Sherlock said, pacing the sitting room and running a hand through his hair. His plans. All that careful planning only to fall asleep!

“What is? Your not-so-secret plans to seduce me into your lair and murder me?” John said, still looking unconcerned about the lack of sex the previous night as he pulled on his shoes. “Fell asleep before you could bring out the knives, did you?”

“We were meant to shag last night!” Sherlock snapped at him, as if it was his fault alone that they’d fallen asleep on the sofa.

John looked at him with wide eyes for a moment before his face split into a resigned grin. “Ah, I was a bit slow. You picked someone up at a bar...of course you were looking for casual sex. Sorry your plans for a one night stand didn’t come to pass.”

“What?” Sherlock snapped. “No. Don’t be ridiculous. I only meant…that’s the reason you came upstairs, isn’t it? And then I proceeded to fall asleep on you. Utterly preposterous."

He really had not meant to divulge that but panic at the thought that his plans were falling through had made him think out loud. To his surprise, John laughed again and shook his head as he finished doing up his shoelaces and got to his feet.

“You’re a piece of work, aren’t you?” John said, walking up to him and kissing the corner of his mouth. Sherlock blinked at him in surprise.

“I had a lovely time last night and if it’s my interest that you’re worried about then don't,” John said with a sly grin. “I already wanted a second and third date by the time we’d ordered the food.”

Sherlock continued to blink at him like an idiot and remained immobile as John turned to leave.

“You’ll have dinner with me tonight then?” Sherlock asked cautiously as John opened the door. 

”When you like and where you like,” John said. 

Sherlock stared at the door for two minutes and twenty three seconds after John left.

They were in the middle of their meal at Angelo’s that night when Sherlock’s phone started to go off. John had thought the date had been going remarkably well and the man did look genuinely sorry when he said he had to take the call. John nodded, of course he should take the call, but had to confess to himself that he was disappointed when Sherlock said he simply had to go off on a case.

“Angelo will get you anything you need. He’s quite grateful that I proved he was carjacking instead of murdering,” Sherlock said. “The police are tragically out of their depth on this one.”

“Go ahead,” John said. It wouldn’t do to be clingy and disapproving. 

Pull yourself together Watson. Don’t get distracted. This is fun, yes. But you have a mission here. You have to try to go along with him. Spend as much time with him as possible so you can include his movements in the report.

“Unless,” Sherlock said, hesitating as he pulled on his coat.


“You were an army doctor.”


“You were good.”

“Very good.”

“Seen some trouble."

“Yes. Enough for a lifetime.”

“Want to see some more?”

“Oh god. Yes.”

John ran out after Sherlock, feeling infinitely alive.

Seven hours later Sherlock was brushing off a shock blanket and walking away from the crime scene with an (un-limping) army doctor who had just shot a man through a window.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, of course,” John replied.

“Well, you have just shot a man,” Sherlock reminded him. For me. You shot a man for me. He was working for Moriarty and you shot him. You’re innocent.

“Yes, well he wasn’t a very nice man,” John said. “Bloody awful cabbie.”

Sherlock snorted. He’d misjudged this man. This man was even more fascinating now than he had been when he was a treason suspect. This man had followed him home and kissed him and shot a man for him for no reason other than the fact that he liked it, liked him. Sherlock had said danger and John had followed him. And now here they were laughing at a crime scene. Fascinating.

They were both silent and beaming from the high of the case as they walked back to Baker Street. Sherlock, despite knowing that things had to end now that he was done with his mission, allowed himself to indulge in the quiet companionship and the post-case high. He’d earned it after all.

At the doorsteps of 221B, John kissed him again, which surprised Sherlock because he had already mentally broken off their “romantic attachment". It was additionally unfortunate because it reminded Sherlock that he had rather enjoyed the kissing the previous night, sprawled out on the couch like that, hot and desperate under John's hands. He let himself indulge for a moment, let himself kiss back eagerly before pulling away and leaning back against the door, breathless. He was surprised at himself: he wanted to invite John upstairs, wanted to continue kissing him, perhaps talk more about the case or perhaps even…But Sherlock was out of his depth here. He had been fully prepared to engage in sexual intercourse the previous night as a means of keeping John interested, despite the fact that his limited experience with such matters would probably leave the whole affair lacking. But now that the case was closed, what was there to gain from inviting him upstairs at all? The chances that Sherlock would make an idiot of himself were incredibly high. This fact was further complicated by the realization that he found himself wanting to see John again, wanting to…be his friend? That would be impossible, seeing as John probably wouldn’t be interested once it became clear that Sherlock couldn't provide adequately in terms of sex and romance.  

"I would invite you up but I’m incredibly tired after the case,” Sherlock lied. 

John blinked a few times and looked distinctly disappointed for a moment before smiling at him again. “Right. Of course. One should always rest after playing mind games with murderous psychopaths. Doctor’s orders. Goodnight then," John said, turning to leave. 

There. See? Easier to get rid of him than previously supposed. Most people are only interested in sexual gratification.

“Could I…” John turned to him again, oscillating on the pavement. “Erm. I would be afraid of coming off as overeager, I think the polite thing to do would be to call you in a couple of days, but to be fair, our date was rudely interrupted by a serial killer. So any chance I could see you again tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said instantly before he could stop himself. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid. No. What are you doing? You can’t see him again. The case is closed. 

John beamed and then rushed forward to plant a quick kiss on Sherlock’s lips, as if unable to hold back. “Goodnight. And thank you for this,” he said, indicating his leg. “And for everything else.”

Sherlock started to laugh uncontrollably.

“What?” John asked.

“You saved my life and you are thanking me,” Sherlock pointed out. John smiled at him.

“Well, you saved me too,” he said before turning around

He watched John walk down Baker Street towards the tube and could not, for all the world, explain what had just happened.

“It’s not him,” Sherlock said when Mycroft answered his phone. 

“Because he shot the cabbie?” Mycroft ventured.

“Because it’s not him. There is nothing to indicate that it’s him and any evidence you’ve found has been planted to distract you from the real trail. He shot the cabbie who confessed to be working for Moriarty.”

“Have you considered, Sherlock,” Mycroft said, his tone disapproving, “that he shot the cabbie in order to keep him from speaking Moriarty’s name? Or that he’s doing this in order to gain your trust? Have you considered that he may know exactly what you’re up to and merely be playing along with it in order to lead you down the wrong path?”

“It’s not him.”

Mycroft sighed at the end of the line. “Alright. I have a proposition for you. Act horrifically towards him and if he behaves normally and walks away, I’ll believe you. But if he is what I think he is then he’s tasked with keeping an eye on you and even if you treat him abominably he’ll have to keep to his mission."

“That’s ridiculous,” Sherlock sighed.

“A reasonable tactic, don’t you think?” Mycroft said. "If you're his mission then he won't be able to walk away no matter what you do."

“I meant ridiculously easy,” Sherlock said, smirking slightly at his empty sitting room, “I’ve perfected the art of making people run screaming in the other direction."

"Yes I knew that particular talent of yours would prove useful to me one day."

John wrapped himself tighter in his coat and breathed in the crisp December night. He caught himself grinning at the pavement as he made his way to the tube. He surrendered himself to the electric feeling that thrummed underneath his skin: happiness. It was as foreign to him as civilian life but for the first time in years, the road before him wasn’t shapeless and bleak but brimming with possibility. The possibility of getting that job he’d applied for, of finishing up this mission, of whatever it was he had with Sherlock.

Because John had figured it out. He’d figured out why he was being asked to investigate Sherlock almost as soon as he’d seen the way the officers at the crime scene—where they had gone to investigate the fourth and most recent of the murder-suicides— had treated him. They were afraid of him. They were all afraid of him because he was capable of doing something that they could not begin to understand. Sherlock would have been burned at the stake in the witch-hunts of Europe, was it so surprising he was suspected of treason today? His only crime was that he was different and that, in combination with having family in high places, had made him the subject of suspicion.

Well, he would set Bill straight. He couldn’t contact him now, had promised not to contact him until he received more information about where to meet up. But when they met at the ten-day mark for the information drop-off, he would tell them that they were wrong. In truth, he hadn’t bothered looking at the file they had sent and now he didn’t need to.

In the meanwhile, there was a not-so-fake relationship with the world’s only consulting detective that needed his full attention.

“The poor man,” Molly said, giggling as she cut into Mr. Wilson’s liver. 

Sherlock had no idea whether it was Mr. Wilson or John to whom the “poor man” comment referred. He had been perched on one of the autopsy tables in the morgue for the past twenty minutes and was in the process of leaving John his tenth voicemail.

“This plan is idiotic, Sherlock,” Molly said, jotting down her observations on a pad, “have you considered that he may just accept some annoying phone calls because he likes you and will accept your annoying habits because of that? Staying with you is not an indication of criminal intent, Sherlock.”

Oh, how wrong she was. No one had ever been interested in Sherlock before. Well, at least not the way John Watson seemed to be. So it did stand to reason that John’s interest was something to be suspicious of. Sherlock, however, was not about to admit to this self-depricating thought out loud.

“I’m going to do every little clingy and annoying thing that people do when they’re being ‘honest’ in a relationship, Molly, and you’ll be forced to conclude that relationships are just theatre,” Sherlock said imperiously, dialing John yet again and reaching voicemail.

“It’s meeeee,” he cooed into the phone in a voice that was his but not quite. “I just want to know how your job interview went. I’ve called you so many times now! It’s starting to seem like you’re avoiding me. Miss you. Call me back."

“You’re awful, Sherlock,” Molly said, laughing into her autopsy chart after Sherlock had hung up.

“Oh people do things like this all the time,” Sherlock snorted and looked at her pointedly.

“Are you still laughing about the time I x-rayed my boyfriend’s phone? It was just the one time,” Molly said. 

Sherlock’s phone rang. It was John. Sherlock blinked at it in surprise. Why would anyone call back after a dozen saccharine voicemails? 

“Sherlock Holmes,” he said.

“Hi, yeah. I got your twenty texts and twelve voicemails," said a bemused voice at the end of the line, laughing a bit. “Didn’t know you cared this much about my job prospects but it went fine. I got the job.”

“Congratulations,” Sherlock cooed. “Let’s celebrate tonight."

“Who is she?” was the first thing Sherlock said to him that evening when he walked into 221B.

“Yeah. I’m fine thanks. Just soaked through the bone from the downpour. I rang your doorbell for ten minutes. Your landlady let me in. She’s lovely,” John said, mildly annoyed at the cool reception as he took off his rain-soaked coat.

“I said: Who. Is. She,” Sherlock repeated. He was wearing a cotton t-shirt, loose pajama bottoms and a blue silk robe and lounging on the sofa. John was mildly confused to find him wearing anything but his usual impeccable Savile Row suit. He had thought they were going out again that evening but, well, he didn’t mind staying in either. Possibly the best idea Sherlock had had, considering the weather.

“Er. Sorry. Who?”

“Clearly you were spending time with someone else or you would be answering my texts and phone calls. So, who is it? Who are you sleeping with?” Sherlock snapped.

“Hold up. I told you I had a couple of interviews this afternoon. That’s the reason I wasn’t answering,” John said, confused about this sudden shift in Sherlock’s behavior.

“Oh now you’re lying to me,” Sherlock accused. “Was it the person who interviewed you?”


“What’s her name again…Dr. Sarah Sawyer?” Sherlock said grumpily, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Did you…follow me?” John cried, suddenly furious. He felt the bile rise in his throat. Well, Sherlock could hardly be a treasonous spy if he was admitting to following around a newly acquired love interest but John was an intensely private person and the very idea of someone following him around—someone whom he objectively did not know very well despite having shot a man for him the previous day— did not sit well with him.

“So you’re not denying it,” Sherlock said. “You are interested in her. She’s very pretty. So when are you going out?”

“What are you talking about?”

“If I’d known you cared so little about our relationship—“

“Wait,” John cried, increasingly frustrated and angry. “What relationship? We’ve barely known each other for two days!”

Sherlock gasped, hurt etched across his face. “Oh so it’s not even a relationship then. Are you sleeping with her?”

“You know what,” John huffed, “sod this. I don’t know what’s gotten into you but I’m not going to…you can’t follow me…I need some air…”

“Should have known you’d run away from something serious."

He ran down the stairs--and offered a mumbled goodbye to the landlady, Mrs. Hudson, who exclaimed: “Leaving so soon!”— and stepped back out into the rain, taking a few deep breaths. 

He should have known this was too good to be true. Those first two days had been so perfect, so other-worldly. And, of course, the smartest, funniest, hottest person he’d met had to be the type to follow him around and get jealous and possessive only three days in. Too good to be true had ended up not being true at all. And now…not only was he abandoning the assignment he’d been given by dropping the surveillance on Sherlock but he’d just ran out on the most interesting person he’d met…well, ever. 

Sherlock couldn’t help but laugh to himself a little bit at the performance he’d just pulled off. He had been blatantly ridiculous and it was a miracle John had tried to reason with him as much as he had. He heard him say goodbye to Mrs. Hudson and slam the door shut behind him.

“Dear, what did you do to that nice doctor fellow of yours? He ran out into the rain, Sherlock! He’ll catch a cold,” Mrs. Hudson cooed from the doorway.

“Oh don’t you worry about it Mrs. Hudson. He’ll be fine,” he grinned, stretching on the sofa. “I did him a favour if anything.”

He’d have to call Mycroft and tell him that he had—as usual— been right. He spared another thought for John Watson. He really had been…not boring. And he deserved someone who wasn’t faking a relationship with him in return for favours from the British government. He deserved someone far better than Sherlock.

He shooed Mrs. Hudson out and walked over to the window. He was just going to look at John one last time, was just going to watch him walk down Baker Street for a moment, to reminisce about the oddly pleasant two days they had spent with each other before he deleted the man’s existence from his mind and went back to his life, a life that didn’t include dinner dates or snogging on the sofa or worrying about ruining something he was only shamming at anyway. Back to the way he was meant to live: alone. 

There was a quick knock at the door.

“Mrs. Hudson, I said go away—“

“It’s not Mrs. Hudson,” John said. Sherlock turned to find him dripping and shivering by the door. 

“What are you doing back here?” Sherlock balked. “Haven’t you had enough of this?

“I’m sorry I overreacted,” John said.

You overreacted? You?” Sherlock repeated, baffled. 

“Well, you overreacted first,” John agreed, smiling slyly. “But I shouldn’t have shouted. And you shouldn’t follow people around after knowing them for two days.”

“Implying it would be okay to follow you around had I known you for longer?” Sherlock flirted back before he could help himself. What was wrong with him? Was John Watson some sort of sorcerer?

John laughed. “Yeah. It’s not the end of the world. So you’re a little possessive and jealous—“

“I’m not jealous,” Sherlock huffed before he could help himself.

“You were acting a little crazy,” John insisted calmly but still flirting rather than chiding.

Slip back into character. Be annoying. You have a point to prove here. He’s innocent and you have to prove it to Mycroft.

The key was to be as whiny and insecure as possible. John would find his neediness unattractive and he would walk away. That had been the point he’d been trying to prove to Molly. People wanted theatre in a relationship, not vulnerability or honesty. 

“Oh so now I’m crazy, too?” Sherlock snapped, voice suddenly hysterical, and turned his back to John to stare out the window at the rain. “Of course, you think I’m crazy. Well, I guess I should have expected that you’d think I’m a crazy freak just like everybody else—“

But suddenly wet, shivering arms were circling his waist, holding him tightly.

“Is that what this is about?” John said softly, hugging him close. “You think I agree with those people I met at the crime scene? With Anderson and Donovan?"

No. God, I’m overreacting. I'm being deliberately awful. Be annoyed. Please, leave. 

He made a noncommittal noise and felt himself being hugged even closer. 

“Listen to me,” John said fiercely, “you are amazing. You are honestly one of the strangest and most fantastic people I’ve ever met. I just meant…maybe next time you wonder where I am, ask me. I won’t lie to you. Just ask.”

Sherlock stilled completely, a hundred electrical currents running through his head, a million thoughts flittering in and out of existence:  What the hell was wrong with John Watson? Sherlock had done absolutely nothing to earn this. Why was he not being broken up with? Could it be that Mycroft was right after all? And what would Mycroft do now that his point had been proven? Was he going to interrogate John just because he’d been foolish enough to be interested in Sherlock? Torture him? And what if John was guilty? 

The one thing Sherlock knew with absolute certainty was that he needed more time if he was going to prove John Watson’s innocence—or, less likely, his guilt— and for that he first needed to save him from Mycroft’s machinations and get him far away from MI6 interrogation rooms.

It took him a mere three seconds to sort through these thoughts and come to a conclusion.

Back in reality, John was still hugging him close to his shivering body. Sherlock turned around and held him back, hoping to relieve the cold, if only a bit.

“Forgive me,” he whispered quietly. “You’re going to catch a cold at this rate. You should take a hot shower and dry these clothes. I’ll get you a towel and I’ll make some tea while you do.”

“Yeah that sounds like the most amazing thing in the world right now,” John agreed, teeth chattering.

Later, when John was sitting by the fire in a bathrobe after a long shower, Sherlock brought out two cups of tea from the kitchen and asked the question he’d been holding in since John had hugged him by the window.

“John, I realize this will make me seem overeager and the polite thing would be to wait until a few weeks into our association to even broach this suggestion but would you, by any chance be interested in going to Sussex with me for the weekend?” Sherlock said, sipping his own tea and reveling in the glow of the fireplace. He kept his eyes fixed on his drink instead of meeting John’s stare. “My parents have left their house abandoned in favour of going line dancing in Oklahoma. A silly hobby they’ve refused to give up even in old age. I’d rather not go and water their plants alone. I’d fully understand if this comes off as—“

“Yes,” John said and Sherlock finally looked up to find him beaming, his usually neat hair spiked and still a little damp and his warm skin bathed gold from the fire. “I’ll go. Honestly, I’m not usually the type of person to jump into... but yes I want to go away with you this weekend.”

Sherlock smiled back, fearing that the warmth in the pit of his stomach had more to do with John’s admission of interest than the hot beverage or any satisfaction he derived from the fact that his plans were proceeding swimmingly.

John spent the morning after the fireplace chat stuffing clothes into a small suitcase. He took an embarrassingly long time packing considering he didn't have an extensive wardrobe. What did one wear on a holiday with one's newly acquired boyfriend who also happened to only wear silk robes and tailored suits? He packed a couple of well-fitting jeans, button ups and a suit jacket. He took shower and shaved more carefully than usual.

He spent the rest of the day in his small bedsit unable to sit still. He tried to read a book but the venture proved unsuccessful when he found himself staring at the first page for a quarter of an hour. Then he cleaned and reorganized his desk three times, first arranging everything in the drawer by function and then rearranging according to the frequency of use of each item. After repacking his suitcase for the third time and checking the clock a dozen more times (only to find that their agreed upon departure time was still three hours away) he finally picked up his phone and wrote only one word to Sherlock:


The reply came instantly: 

Good. Come here. -SH

John grinned from ear to ear. 

“Are you alright?” John asked him on their way to Victoria Station.

My extremely dangerous brother thinks you’re a hired killer and spy, I may be more fond of you than I realized, you may very well be faking your interest in me simply because you have to keep an eye on me and I am no closer to figuring out your real motives.

Instead he merely grunted noncommittally and remained silent the rest of the way to the station and also all the way on the train from Victoria to Horsham.

John, remarkably, didn’t seem annoyed with him at all. Instead as Sherlock sat by the window, lost in thought and watching the scenery whiz by for an hour with his hands steepled under his chin John nudged a cup of hot tea into his hands and otherwise kept to himself and read a newspaper in the adjacent seat.

When John came back with a second cup of tea and settled it gently in the cup holder, Sherlock finally lost his cool.

“What are you doing?” he snapped.

“Getting you tea? You’re welcome, you wanker,” John said dryly, going back to his newspaper.

“Why? Why are you being so nice? I’ve been awful all day,” Sherlock growled in a demanding tone.

John glared back at him. “Yeah, you know, that doesn’t bother me. I sort of figured you weren’t a ray of sunshine that first night when I asked you if you were going to thank me for the drink and you said ‘no’ and then proceeded to tell me my limp was psychosomatic ten minutes after you’d met me. I’m not the cheeriest of people either, trust me. You can go back to admiring the English scenery now. It’s getting lonely without you.”

Sherlock opened and closed his mouth a few times but didn’t have an adequate comeback.

That first night at Sherlock’s parents’ house in Horsham, it rained the entire evening. They got in to the house at around five, at which point Sherlock told him to make himself feel completely at home and help himself to anything he’d like and promptly disappeared into the sitting room where he played a rather sad tune on the violin and refused to say anything when John remarked: “You never said you play the violin so well.”

At around seven o’clock John got bored reading his book and made some of the pasta he found in the cupboard along with some sauce. Sherlock refused to even acknowledge that John had asked him to eat.

Around ten o’clock, John finally felt brave enough to ask Sherlock if he’d done anything wrong. Sherlock told him to stop speaking. John huffed in response.

At eleven, John found the guest room and went to bed. Before arriving he had felt nervous in a giddy, school-boyish way about how they would organize the sleeping arrangement. Would Sherlock ask him to sleep in his room? Or would he shyly offer him a room of his own and would John then have the nerve to flirt his way into bed?

Now those questions seemed silly and out of his reach. 

John lay staring at the ceiling all night, listening to the easing patter of raindrops on the old tiled roof. The house was cozy and beautiful, even in the dreary rain, and John thought wistfully that it would have been enjoyable to sit with hot cocoa in front of the fire and listen to Sherlock talk about his old cases had it not been for the fact that Sherlock’s silence had started to feel less like needing time to think and more as though John was being punished for an unknown crime.

It did not seem like Sherlock was even interested in him anymore. John remembered the first time they had spoken—which had been less than five days ago but seemed a lifetime away— and one of the first things Sherlock had said to him.

You must get bored very easily,” John had said.

You’ve no idea,” Sherlock had replied. 

And now John was seeing evidence of that. Sherlock was bored with him, that much was clear. He hadn’t looked at him and had barely spoken to him all day. In fact, John had to recognize the fact that while Sherlock had made overtures—inviting him to Horsham and asking him to dinner— it had been John who had told him the morning after they had met that he was interested in a second and third date, it was John who had initiated every act of physical intimacy, who had told Sherlock point-blank that he found him amazing. Sherlock had, in turn, agreed to John’s advances and proposed they go to dinner a few times and then, quite uncharacteristically invited him away for the weekend. John was an idiot. Because, of course, it was unsurprising that John would be falling incrementally in love with the most brilliant and exciting person he’d ever met but it would be entirely insane to assume that Sherlock would feel remotely similar about him. No matter how intimately he felt he understood Sherlock, they hadn’t even known each other for a week. This was one of those whirlwind romances that people had in books and movies that ended after a few days. They were practically strangers, no matter how much John’s heart seemed to protest that idea.

A few things were clear to John: The first was that Sherlock regretted asking him along and had opted for ignoring him instead of asking him to leave. The second was that despite Sherlock’s lack of interest and withdrawn attitude, John had a good instinct about people and Sherlock wasn’t guilty. John no longer needed to monitor him.

With those two things decided, John looked up train schedules on his phone and got up to get dressed and repack the few things he had taken out of his suitcase. He tip toed down the stairs and made his way quietly through the sitting room. It was impossible to see anything in the dark and for a moment John chided himself for trying to leave before sunrise. But at least the rain had cleared completely.

“You’re leaving,” Sherlock said, out of nowhere.

John tripped over his feet in surprise. “Jesus! I was trying not to wake you up.”

“I wasn’t asleep,” Sherlock replied. John blinked a few times until his eyes adjusted enough to the dark enough that he could see Sherlock, still in in his shirtdress and sleek trousers from the previous night, standing by the window. That much was clear. The man had been up all night.

“Were you going to walk all the way to the station?” Sherlock inquired, his tone somewhere between derision and concern.

John realized that he really hadn’t thought it through. “Er…” he said inelegantly.

“I could drive you with my parents’ car. That would be easier than walking,” Sherlock offered, his tone soft and earnest in contrast to his words which seemed to indicate that he wanted John gone after all, “or call you a Taxi if you’d rather not be in my presence at the moment? I understand that I can be... I apologize for…well, I apologize."

“Wait. No. Look, you don’t need to apologize. You’ve made it clear you don’t want me here. I wouldn’t say you’ve been polite about it but you haven’t been rude either. You invited me along and now you don’t know how to get rid of me.”

Sherlock gave him a puzzled look. “I was thinking. I like to think in silence.  Sometimes I just don’t speak for days on end."

“That’s fine,” John said, “I don’t mind that. I’m alone most of the time anyway, it’s much more pleasant to be quiet with someone else than by yourself. I just…it feels like I’ve done something. It feels like you’ve changed your mind about this. I don’t want to…” he struggled to find a way to explain what he meant and he figured that if he was going to stop seeing Sherlock after this then it would be best to tell him now. “Look, I’ve just had the most amazing time with you and I think I’ve fairly shown my hand…I like you quite a lot but I really never wanted to impose this on you, I never wanted to trap you into…whatever this is. So—“

He was cut off by Sherlock who had rushed forward and was now kissing him soundly. “Please,” he whispered against John’s parted lips, “please stay. I’m sorry I'm awful. I want you to stay."

John dropped his bag and brought both hands to clutch at Sherlock’s disheveled hair, nipping gently at his lips. “Of course,” he grinned, kissing him quickly, again and again, in his giddiness. Happiness bubbled in his chest and spilled over into a dozen tiny kisses peppered on Sherlock’s jaw and cheeks and eyelids, “yes, of course, I’ll stay."

John napped the morning away in his parents’ sitting room while Sherlock paced the entire house trying to wrap his mind around the fact that John Watson “liked him quite a lot”, that John had tried to sneak away because he thought Sherlock had been bored with him, that he’d said “of course, I’ll stay” as if it was what he had wanted all along. It was time to admit he liked John more than “quite a lot” and had suspected it (if he was perfectly honest with himself) from the moment John had called him amazing and had known it with absolute certainty the night John had shot the cabbie. John probably had friends and acquaintances and past lovers. For Sherlock, meeting John had shifted the entire foundation of his life in only five days. For John…well, it was clear he was fond of Sherlock as well (after all, Sherlock had cured his limp and given him a bit of excitement) but for him this was probably just one in a series of pleasant relationships. 

And Sherlock realized that it was not okay to tell a man he had known barely five days that he had never felt so close to another human being in his life. Even he understood that that overstepped every social convention but his heart fluttered with the truth of the realization and with the fact that he would do whatever necessary to keep John’s interest now that he’d somehow managed to attract it.

The rainy night had given away to an uncharacteristically clear and pleasant December morning. Cloud-filtered sunlight streamed into the cozy room and Sherlock made a small fire before retreating to the kitchen to rummage up some food in case John woke up hungry. Years of avoiding home inevitably meant he had very little idea of where anything was kept but he could observe (and he had the advantage of knowing his parents’ habits) and managed to find enough to put together a meal (he looked up “quick romantic meals” and “best way to make sandwiches” on his phone a few more times than he cared to admit). 

By the time John blinked awake in the living room Sherlock had selected one of his parents’ best wines, made five different types of sandwich and arranged them along with artistically placed cheeses and fruits on a small table by the glowing fireplace.

John acted as if the modest display was the most fantastic thing he had ever seen and he proceeded to crawl into Sherlock’s lap and kiss him senseless instead of paying the slightest attention to the food. 

“You said your parents were in Oklahoma,” John said once he had kissed Sherlock adequately and they were lounging by the fire and nibbling on the food Sherlock had prepared.

“They are,” Sherlock said.

“And you said you had to come to their house to water their plants while they were gone,” John observed.

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed. “Your point?”

“Sherlock, I haven’t seen a single plant in this entire house,” John said, grinning at him. Sherlock looked at him, looking entirely mortified at being caught in such an obvious and simple lie, and then they both started laughing hysterically and laughed hard until their sides were hurting with it. John felt like he could burst: Sherlock had looked for an excuse to invite him away for the weekend.

Once they could catch a breath, Sherlock wiped the tears streaming down his face and looked over to John with a grin.

“I’m going to go collect rainwater samples for an experiment, come with me.”

“No, thanks,” John said, rolling his eyes, “I’ll be in here where it’s warm and dry.”

“Come on. My parents keep rubber boots by the door. Pull one on. We’re going to gather rainwater,” Sherlock announced, jumping to his feet.

John sighed a long-suffering sigh, one he would gladly practice for the rest of his life (one he felt like he was meant to practice for the rest of his life) if it meant he could be dragged into small (and large) adventures with Sherlock.

“Aren’t you going to wear something more appropriate?” he said to Sherlock as he himself pulled on the wellies and his coat. Sherlock was wearing a white button-down shirt, dark jeans and his usual shoes. He looked deliciously rumpled but nothing about him said “going to wade into puddles of water”.

Sherlock merely snorted derisively and demanded that John follow him.

In hindsight, perhaps going out in December without a coat (he hardly wanted his Belstaff soaked with pond water) had not been the wisest idea. Even Sherlock had to admit that as he hobbled his way back into the house soaked in water and mud, his shoes completely drenched through and every article of clothing (of which there were too few) clinging to his wet skin.

He had been expecting John (who was also wet but who had not literally fallen into a muddy pond) to laugh at him but the man seemed worried to death (and also seemed to be freezing to death) as they returned to the house. They had been laughing and bickering over the samples until Sherlock had slipped (no grip on his shoes) and fallen into the pond, splashing John from head to toe in the process.

“Go upstairs right now and take a hot shower or you will die of hypothermia,” John demanded.

Sherlock grinned at him, kicking off his shoes and socks on the tiled floor of the kitchen and wobbling uncomfortably towards the stairs. “I’m fine,” he said. “Come on I’ll get you some towels and show you where the second shower is. You need to warm up too.”

John waited for him in his (old) bedroom while he went to retrieve towels from the bathroom. When he returned he found John, coat discarded, clothing damp and hair in disarray, sitting on the very edge of Sherlock’s old bed, shoulders hunched and eyes staring straight at his own feet.

“J-John?” he said gently, suddenly worried. He couldn’t see the expression on the other man’s face. It was only five o’clock but it was entirely dark outside already: stupid winter sunsets. “John, what’s wrong?” he asked, the spare towel clutched in one hand and the other hand fisted at his side. He was shivering with the chill now but also with dread. Was John not having a good time like he’d assumed? Had he overstepped this afternoon?

John was regarding him with an inscrutable expression. “No. Just. You in a soaked-through shirt. Doesn’t leave much to the imagination. I’m a little flustered, to be honest,” John said sheepishly, chuckling a little, “I’ll pull myself together in a minute, sorry.”

“Don’t,” Sherlock said, barely a whisper and threw the towel he was holding to the floor in a deliberate motion. This had been stretching between them for days now. Ever since that first night in 221B, this heady current had been tying them together, and Sherlock had felt it keenly this evening as they sat together by the fire and went wading into puddles in he fields: every touch, every glance, every chaste kiss, it promised so much more and Sherlock wanted, wanted, wanted. It was time he asked.

“What?” John said.

“Don’t pull yourself together,” Sherlock whispered again, voice thick with want but trembling with the cold. He could barely see John’s features in the darkened room. “Please.”

John was on his feet in one swift motion (the limp seemed so far away) and yanked Sherlock onto the bed by his mud-caked hair. Sherlock followed willingly and returned the heated kisses as good as he got while John stretched him out on those well-remembered dove-blue sheets and climbed on top of him, carefully unbuttoning his shirt (as if it weren’t ruined beyond repair) and throwing it to the ground (where it landed with a disgusting wet slap agains the hardwood).

Sherlock ran his fingers quite delicately through John’s sandy hair, relishing the feel of it under his fingers, as John kissed down to the hollow of his throat and along his chest, all the while pulling his own jumper over his head and throwing it onto the floor as well. 

The first moment of skin-on-skin contact, just feeling John’s smooth torso slide across his as he moved up to claim another kiss, made Sherlock’s blood turn to fire underneath his ice cold skin. And so he was distracted when John finally reached for his trousers and undid his belt.

“Alright?” John whispered against his throat.

No, it wasn’t alright. There were a hundred thing wrong with this: John was going to be disappointed. Sherlock had no experience outside of a few awful fumblings in dorms (and once years later with a woman, for a case) and John was going to be so disappointed. Sherlock wasn’t made for this, wasn’t made to be loved and pleasured and teased and stroked. He was made to reason. And all reason told him he was going to dissatisfy the only person he had ever cared to take to bed.

“John,” he said softly, clutching at John’s bare back. “I’m sorry I’m so...frigid.”

He felt John grin against the smooth skin of his stomach and caress his waist, right at the edge of his trousers. “I’m going to warm you right up, trust me.”

“No, John. Not like that,” he breathed, “I meant…I’ve been reliably informed that I’m not good at this sort of thing. I’m a cold person.”

John looked at him as if he had just uttered the single most idiotic thing in the world. “Oh, Sherlock. No, you’re not,” he said firmly. “You’re really not.”

Suddenly warm lips and tongue were on his stomach and steady hands were divesting him of his sopping wet trousers and underwear. Sherlock looked down to find John simply staring at him with wide eyes. He had never been self-conscious before but now here he was lying on the width of the bed, hands stretched above his head, trembling and naked beneath John. And suddenly it mattered.

“What?” he snapped when it seemed like John was going to spend the rest of the evening staring at him.

John chuckled at his impatience. “You’re stunning,” he murmured. “I can’t stop looking at you."

Sherlock almost lifted off the bed in surprise the moment that hot mouth was on the sensitive skin of his thighs. It only took a moment of John’s heated kisses to realize he was murmuring nonsense under his breath about how good it felt, about how much he wanted John, John who hesitated for a moment once he’d kissed his way up to Sherlock’s pelvis and looked at him for permission.

“Please,” Sherlock muttered, overwhelmed, “I need you…Please, could you...I need…”

But he never had the chance to articulate what he needed because John suddenly took him in his mouth and was now sucking him with hollowed cheeks. Sherlock let out what he was sure was an incredibly embarrassing wail and tossed his head back, arching off the bed with the force of the focused pleasure, the hot and sudden arousal in his belly. 

Once he’d reached his shattering climax, he only allowed himself a moment to recover. He flipped John to lie on his back and divested him quickly of his remaining articles of clothing, set upon returning the favour rather enthusiastically. Vaguely, he was aware of John babbling and tangling his fingers in Sherlock’s hair.

“Tell me what you like,” he whispered after a moment, pulling away from his task.

“Oh my god,” John replied, panting, “Why did you stop? I’m going to die.”

“What do you like?” Sherlock pleaded, desperate to get it just right.

“Evidently, you. Everything you do makes me lose my fucking mind. For the love of God, keep going."

Sherlock did.

When John woke up the next morning, Sherlock was still sound asleep and plastered to his side. John cataloged his smooth, relaxed expression, his soft lips, his jutting cheekbones and his long lashes and grinned to himself as he remembered the events of the previous night.

Then he realized the frightening truth: this, this exact moment was the happiest he ever remembered feeling.

He disentangled himself from Sherlock’s embrace and made his way to the kitchen in a robe. When he returned with two cups of tea, he found Sherlock sitting awake in the bed, staring at him in dissatisfaction.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

Please don’t regret it. Please don’t hate me. I would die right now if you regretted me.

“Where did you go?” Sherlock whined, “I’d been looking forward to waking up together in bed."

John grinned and relaxed. “Quite right. I seem to have made a horrible mistake,” he conceded, handing Sherlock his tea, “I promise to make it up to you in the future.”

On the second day they got out of bed and went to the market for a few hours, which seemed like a successful venture at first because they had a lovely time deducing passerby as they bought food but soon proved to be a mistake when they found themselves unable to walk more than a few minutes before falling into each other’s arms and snogging rather inappropriately.

When they arrived back at the house, Sherlock reckoned it was as good a time as any to call Mycroft. 

 “Could I borrow your phone? Mine is out of battery,” he said before snatching John’s phone away. In truth he had turned his phone off because Mycroft could easily track his location using the signal.

“Of course,” John said, planting a gentle kiss on his neck. “I’ll just put away the groceries.”

The quiet domesticity of that was crippling for Sherlock.

“Finally,” Mycroft sighed. “Where have you been?”

“Don’t you always know?” Sherlock said. “But then I did deliberately pick the last place you would ever look.”

Mycroft sighed. “Of course, they’re in Oklahoma again. I should have known.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed, “now listen to me: it’s not him.”


“Okay?!” Sherlock cried.

“Yes, I think I agree with you,” Mycroft said. “Has he mentioned a man named Bill Murray?”


“Have you looked in his contacts? Is there a Bill Murray there?”

Sherlock had looked at the contacts list and quickly went through the list in his mind. “No.”

“Alright. Bill Murray is Sebastian Moran’s cover identity and an identity he uses freely. It’s also the name he’s using as he’s gathering information for Moriarty. If he’s working with Murray then—“

“He’s not.”

“Well, then,” Mycroft said, the sneer apparent in his voice, “enjoy your romantic holiday in Sussex. Hope mummy and daddy don’t come back early to get an eye-full of whatever it is you’re doing.”

Sherlock hung up instead of dignifying that with a response.

“Who was that?” John inquired, handing him a glass of wine, when he went back into the house. 

“My brother. The most annoying man in all of England and not my problem right now,” he said, pulling John along by his shirt-front. “Bedroom. Now."

“That is, without a doubt, the best sex I have ever had,” John told him the next day as they sat eating bowls of porridge in bed. In fact, they had not left except to take showers and to rummage the kitchen for food that needed minimal preparation.

“Was it? Which time?” Sherlock said, trying not to sound too eager.

“All of it. Though I’ll say, the first go and that second to last one on the floor were particularly memorable but altogether, just as a collection, best sex ever,” John said definitively.

Sherlock beamed with pleasure. “Yes, it was good, wasn’t it?”

“Oi, git. This is the part where you say you liked it as well,” John said good-naturedly, peppering kisses on his stomach.

“Liked it?” Sherlock scoffed, taking John into his arms, “John, in the past twenty-four hours, you’ve somehow reprogrammed every cell in my body to constantly crave you, I have barely left this bed in over a day and I can’t think about anything but having sex with you again. Liked it? Please don’t be facile.”

This statement seemed to renew John’s enthusiasm because he pried the bowl of porridge out of his hands and plastered him against the bed again.

“You drive me absolutely crazy,” John whispered against the shell of his ear.


“Please, please, tell me you’ll still want me when we go back to London. I’ve had a taste of you now and I don’t know what I’ll do when we get back and you decide you don’t want me anymore,” John confessed in a confidential whisper.

Sherlock simply blinked up at him and barely refrained from saying it: I love you.

“John. John. You must see by now that that won’t happen,” he replied, pulling the other man down for a kiss.

John dropped Sherlock off at Baker Street and stood snogging him in the doorway for so long that the cabbie, whom he'd left waiting on the curb, started to shout about charging him extra. They turned away from each other only to change their minds and fall back into it, giggling.

“I really have to go now,” John said, not making any move to go. “I start at the clinic tomorrow and I need to go home and actually get some sleep.”

“Yes, you should go. You’re going now,” Sherlock said, pulling him in for another kiss.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” John said. 

“See that you do,” Sherlock growled against his lips and then pushed him away playfully. John stumbled a little and then ducked back into the cab.

“Bloody took you ages,” the cabbie growled.

“Sorry,” he mumbled, too blissed-out to be truly apologetic. 

He had just had the best weekend of his life in Sussex with this man whom he had abruptly fallen in love with. And now, and now, it felt possible that Sherlock might return his affections as something more than a passing fancy. Sherlock had clung to him in the dark, had whispered nonsense in his ears, had begged him, kissed him, gripped his back with sweat-soaked palms, laughed with him, cried his name. John refused to believe that the man, ever sleek and imperious, allowed many people to see him that way: hands fisting the blue sheets, face open and slack with pleasure.

His mobile chirped and he looked down to see a message from Bill:

Watson. Tomorrow at 10 am at the Battersea Power Station. I’ll be there with two of the intelligence agents. Delete this text. Bring all relevant information on Holmes. 

Well, he didn’t have any information on Sherlock. He hadn't downloaded his computer files or checked any of the requests in the file. He would just take Sherlock with him. He was going to tell his mad, genius boyfriend the whole story once they met with Bill and the other agents. And Sherlock would catch whomever it was. Of that John was certain. Sherlock was an absolute genius and if anyone were to solve the case, it would be Sherlock. 

When his phone screen lit up with John’s name less than an hour after they had parted ways, his heart nearly leapt put of his chest. Naturally, he knew he was bound to be the more obsessive one in the relationship, the one who would be absolutely consumed by thoughts of John. He was determined not to come off as the insatiable person he was. He had tried so hard to keep these truths from coming out over the last few days: move in with me, I’m in love with you, I already know I’ve never cared about anyone this much, I don’t ever want to be without you.

So when John called him so soon after parting ways, he couldn’t help the flutter of excitement: he’s thinking about me too.

Has it been a day already?” he grinned into the phone.

“No but it has felt like it,” John replied slyly, “how are things at Baker Street?”

“Mrs. Hudson is absolutely fawning over my ‘doctor fellow’,” Sherlock said, “But other than that? Dull, dull, dull. I’m in much need of entertainment, doctor.”

John chuckled. “That can be arranged. Are you free tomorrow morning?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, more eager than he had meant to be.

“Look...Would you mind meeting me somewhere? I need your help,” John said, stumbling over his words

“Anything,” Sherlock said, without hesitation. “Anything you need.”

“A friend of mine from the army, Bill Murray…well, he may need help with a sort of case,” John said. “Better not say over the phone. Will you come tomorrow?”

Sherlock had to clasp a hand over his mouth to keep back the sob that was threatening to rip out of his throat. Mycroft had said. Mycroft had warned him. 

“See if he knows Bill Murray, Sherlock. That’s the cover name they’re using for Sebastian Moran so he and Watson can work together openly. If he know’s Moran’s cover than he’s definitely one of Moriarty’s.” 

Why else would John have looked at him that way? Why else would he have come away to Sussex with him? In the end, it had been that simple to fool Sherlock: have someone pretend to fall in love with him.

“Sherlock. Sherlock? Are you there?”


“Tomorrow. Ten in the morning. Battersea Power Station.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said mechanically. “I’ll be there."

“Oh and Sherlock?” John said, the usual laughter evident in his voice, though it now sounded malicious and mocking to Sherlock’s ears. “I can’t wait to see you again…I already miss you.”

“Yes,” Sherlock said. “See you tomorrow.”

He hung up the phone.

You were right, Mycroft. Send MI6 to round up Moriarty’s men at Battersea Power Station tomorrow morning at ten. Leave Watson to me. -SH

John climbed up the second story of the old coal plant with a ball of anxiety simmering at the pit of his stomach. Bill had to clear Sherlock, had to see how wrong they had been to suspect a man like him. A hundred worries passed through his mind—not the least of which was having to tell Sherlock that their relationship had been catalyzed by a misled investigation. Finally he made his way up the stairs and pushed open the creaking door only to find…no one but Sherlock waiting there.

“Er, hello you,” he said to Sherlock, who was standing on the opposite side of the long hallways, bathed in shadows. “Let me just see where Bill is and then I’ll explain everything.”

“The game is up, John,” said the rumbling baritone from beyond the darkness.

“Excuse me?”

“I know what you’ve been doing. Your accomplices have been taken away. Thank you for giving me the exact pick-up address. I owe you for underestimating me,” Sherlock explained calmly. “Though “Bill” did manage to escape, apparently. Other people’s incompetence, not mine, I assure you."

For a moment John felt his insides turn cold. Had he been wrong? Had Sherlock been working for M after all? It couldn’t be. He knew Sherlock. He knew--

“Of course, you must prefer to call him Sebastian Moran. How long have you been working for Moriarty then? Or do you call him M?” Sherlock sneered, walking into the light.

Oh no, no. Oh god no. He’d gotten it all wrong.

“Listen, I don’t know anyone named Moran—“

“Stop lying to me,” Sherlock roared. “I’ve had enough of it. I looked into it. You’ve known him since Afghanistan. Bill is his cover name.  Have you been working for Moriarty for that long or just since coming back to London and finding it inadequately dangerous?”

“Look, Sherlock,” John said in a conciliatory tone, taking a few steps forward, “there’s been a huge misunderstanding. And if I’m right then you’re in danger—"

“Did you have a little laugh with your friends about me? I do admit I’ve been a bit slow,” Sherlock said with a dangerous smirk. “Was the fucking an added bonus or an extra chore? I really can’t tell. You are clever though. Clever enough to make me fall for it."

“No, Sherlock. I think I know what’s happening here,” John said, more to himself, putting the pieces together.

“Go on. I need to hear you say it. Were you or were you not put up to being with me by Sebastian Moran so you could spy on me?” Sherlock demanded, face scrunched into furious lines.

“Yes, okay, but…yes…it started that way but—you can’t be doubting how I feel about you, not after Sussex."

Sherlock felt a hollow laugh echo in the room and realized that it was his own. “I suppose I should have been suspicious that you seemed to put up with me,” he teased, his voice dark and gruff. “But you are a good actor, I’ll give you that.”

John shook his head. “You’ve got it wrong.”

“Oh, so you were fooling me into bed and spying on me in a nice way. How stupid of me,” Sherlock spat back.

“I meant everything I said to you,” John insisted, “and the reason I was working for Moran is that I thought you were the one spying—“

“I don’t need to hear your lies or excuses. Yes, I’m sure Moriarty offers a great retirement package and paid vacation. How lovely for you.”

“It’s not like that. I care about you—"

“You made me…you made me think you cared about me,” Sherlock said, struggling not to fall apart, struggling not to die of humiliation.

“Sherlock I—“ John started, looking apologetic.

“You made me think you didn’t— you didn’t think I was a freak,” Sherlock whispered, squeezing his eyes shut so he didn’t have to look at the expression on John’s face. He couldn’t bear the apology, couldn’t bear the pity. “I was so stupid, so stupid. I refused to believe what my brother told me over and over, that you were working with Moran and Moriarty."

“No—“ John interrupted. 

Sherlock pulled out the gun he’d been hiding in his pocket and pointed it steadily at John’s heart.

“Don’t,” John pleaded, raising his hands in surrender. “You’re being an idiot. I’ve figured it out. Just listen to me. Just listen—"

“I will not listen,” Sherlock said. “I should turn you in. Or just kill you right now.”

John sucked in a breath.

"But we both know I won’t do that,” Sherlock said. 

John dropped his raised hands in surprise. “You won’t?"

“Mission accomplished, Captain Watson,” Sherlock said. “You made me fall in love with you. Wasn’t that what you were meant to do? Seduce me, woo me, distract me from Moriarty.”

“I think it was, yes, but not intentionally. I never knew that until—“

“No. Shut up. My mercy isn’t limitless,” Sherlock said, pulling the safety off the gun. “I’ll try to give them a false lead but if Mycroft’s men find you, there’s nothing I can do for you.”    

John hesitated for a moment, looking at him with such an open and soft expression that, for a moment, Sherlock was ready to pull him into a kiss and believe him all over again. Was it possible that despite working for Moriarty, John had still developed feelings for him? It didn’t matter.

He steeled his heart. “Go now. Run, John.”

And John did.

He had to find Sherlock’s brother. That’s what he had to do. Because he had accidentally been working for “M” all along and Bill Murray was, apparently, a man named Sebastian Moran and Sherlock was in danger and the only person who could stop this was a mysterious brother who worked for MI6.

He was sprinting down the street aimless when he remembered…Sherlock had used his phone to call his brother…hastily he pulled the phone from his pocket and, with trembling hands, composed a text.

I was framed. M used me to distract SH. I think he’s in grave danger. Please, protect him- John Watson

Head still reeling from the discovery, John set out for Baker Street. Perhaps, if Sherlock cooled down enough, they could talk once he got home? Hopefully his brother would see the text and move quickly to get Moriarty.

But he didn’t have time to truly contemplate this question. As soon as he turned the corner, rough hands were grabbing him, blinding him, dragging him away. A soft, mocking voice cooed in his ear.

“Let’s see if we can get our little detective to come out and play."

Sherlock blinked at the sight before him, unable to process what he was seeing. The smell of chlorine from the pool was heavy in the air, the bluish light danced off the tiled floor, the air was thick and heavy with moisture and heat. Sherlock could catalog all of those things but the sight before him was too horrific to comprehend. When he’d gotten the text from Moriarty he hadn’t thought this was what “come out and play” meant.

He’d been wrong. He’d been so so wrong.

John was on his knees, one eye blackened and thick, red blood oozing from his mouth and hands bound in front of him. Next to him, stood a tall man in a sleek gray suit, holding John up by his hair: Moriarty.

“No. No, God no,” John moaned in despair the moment he saw Sherlock, “Sherlock, please run. Quick.”

As if Sherlock was ever going to leave him again.

“I’ve been having loads of fun with your little pet here, Sherlock. He’s rather loyal, rather quickly,” Moriarty said with a sly grin. “Wouldn’t tell me a single thing about you, no matter how many times Sebastian bashed his head in.”

Sherlock was going to be sick.

“Let him go,” Sherlock commanded, “your business is with me. And I’m here now, so let him go.”

“Sherloooock,” Moriarty cried in a sing-song voice, “that would be boring. Why would I let him go? We’re all having such fun.”

The choice was clear. Sherlock drew the gun from his pocket.

“Nah-uh-uh,” Moriarty tutted, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Darling Seb is waiting in the wing and he’ll put down your little pet if you touch me. Has John told you? Seb is an excellent shot. Or I guess you know him as Bill?”

But Sherlock wasn’t listening, he pointed the gun at his own temple. Both Moriarty and John balked.

“What are you doing?” John hissed.

“Don’t you think I know why you asked me here, Jim?  I know why you’ve been playing this game for years now. Sending me exciting crimes. Sending John to figure out my habits. Trying to get him to see if I was really on the side of the angels or if I was like you. It’s all been for this,” Sherlock smirked. “You don’t want to kill me. You want me. You want me to join you. You think I’m like you? Well, almost. I’ll go. But I won’t do that unless you let John go first.”

“Sherlock, no,” John cried.

“Shut up,” Moriarty said, yanking his hair harder. “Well, sexy, I’m afraid you’ve shown your hand a little bit. It could be fun to keep him and see what else I can make you do if I use him as leverage.”

Sherlock sucked in a breath.

“But I won’t,” Moriarty conceded. “Usually I would love to play for longer but I’ve got what I want now. And honey, believe me we are going to have the time of our lives together. Off you go, brave little soldier. On your feet. That’s right. Now walk out very slowly, hands up, or Seb will blow your head off.”

John got to his feet steadily and looked Sherlock straight in the eyes, a world of meaning exchanged between them in one glance.

He simply stood there, not walking away.

“I’m getting impatient, dear,” Moriarty cooed. “Off you go.”

Every door in the place burst open, groups of MI6 rushing in, guns blazing, car engines running in the street.

Sherlock simply stood there. John simply stood across from him. They looked at each other.

“You texted my brother,” Sherlock said simply, beaming at him as they were both rushed by paramedics and escorted out of the building.

“I texted your brother,” John grinned back as he was dragged to the ambulance.

“So you really were faking the relationship in order to spy on me?” Sherlock said flopping down in John’s beside chair, legs spread and stretched out in front of him. His tone, in contrast to his words were affectionate and when John sought out his face, there was no malice there, only naked adoration.

“And you were dating me because you thought I was selling information to Moriarty,” John returned, grinning.

“Quite right,” Sherlock said, “and how’s your head? You took quite a beating.”

“Oh, yeah?” John quipped, “and whose fault is that?”

“You were the one who ran out instead of explaining to me that you weren’t a criminal mastermind.”

“You said you were going to shoot me if I didn’t leave!”

Sherlock rolled his eyes, “I actually confessed to being in love with you and your reaction was thinking that I was going to shoot you?”

“You were pointing a gun at me,” John said, laughing.

“It was for show,” Sherlock shrugged, “how is your head?’

“It’s really fine. I’m looking forward to being discharged,” John confessed, “but apparently I need to be supervised. The concussion and all that.”

Sherlock fidgeted a little in his seat and looked at his hands. “You could come home with me. I’d…supervise you,” he said in a smooth tone that did not betray any of his nervous demeanor.

“Sherlock,” he said, his heart swelling as he caught the glimmer of uncertainty in Sherlock’s eyes. It was unbelievable that Sherlock had told him and he hadn’t said it yet. “Sherlock, I love you.”

A faint blush appeared high on Sherlock’s cheekbones. “John, you don’t need to say—“

“Oh god, Sherlock, I love you so much,” he said again, emphatically. “And I think I fell in love pretty much right away. That’s ridiculous isn’t it? I never believed in love at first right and all that."

“Neither did I,” Sherlock said, blinking at him with a vulnerable expression on his face.

“But here we are, aren’t we?” John said, knowing and not caring that he looked as besotted as he felt.

“Yes, here we are,” Sherlock agreed. He looked quite besotted too.