Sherlock sat at the kitchen table, pursing his lips at the infernal clock above the sink. As a child he'd found the slow, steady tick of a clock to be soothing. Time often moved out of order for him, and a steady metronome that ticked away the moments meant consistency to his otherwise hectic life. Nowadays, as an adult, he had grown to hate the sound. Instead of a ballast to cling to, the clock now meant he was a prisoner, doomed to live every second exactly when it was intended to be lived. Normally this wouldn't have bothered him enough to warrant the deadly glares he was sending towards the clock, but it was different today. Everything was different today.
It had been two weeks now since John Watson had discovered one of the deeply held secrets of his flatmate. He appeared, at least to Sherlock, to have become something akin to comfortable with the fact that he was living with a half alien. After that first night, Sherlock had been on edge for days, waiting for the other foot to drop. Any day, he'd thought, any day now John will realize the gravity of the situation. He'd be able to see it in his friends eyes when he realized what everyone else already knew- that the Holmes brothers were freaks. Every day he would sneak a furtive glance at John's face, but each time the dreadful word was not mirrored back to him.
Despite all common sense, John was willing to look past the secret of his birth and childhood. But there was another secret, something that couldn't be so easily swept beneath the rug. Sherlock wanted nothing more than to keep this final secret to his grave, and before the last visit by his parents that had been his intention. This was a delicate situation, and the truth needed to come from his own mouth. Time was running out though- his mother was threatening to come forward before he had a chance to. It was unavoidable. He had to tell John that he was in love with him.
It was almost time. He'd made this decision three days before-that he'd give himself the proper time to prepare, and then be obligated to tell John the truth an hour after he returned from work on Friday night. This was mostly based on things he had observed while living with the army doctor, with the goal being to catch him at the best possible time. John was always in a poor mood Sunday and Monday night, so those nights were not a possible option. Tuesdays he usually watched some little singing show whose name Sherlock repeatedly deleted from his mind whenever he accidently learned it. Wednesdays he updated his blog, and although he doubted his flatmate would be angry enough to immediately post about the incident, he didn't want to take the chance. Thursday was a plausible option, but if John needed time to process the information then he would be distracted at work the next day. Friday and Saturday were left, and he was more apt to have a drink as soon as he was home from the clinic Friday. The logic was sound, impeccably poured over, and sure to be his best bet. He was terrified.
His phone buzzed twice- his notification that someone had sent him an email. He rolled his eyes; he'd been ignoring some boring-looking cases since they'd had their trip in the blue box. There was no need to bother with simple cases when most of his brain power was focused on the task at hand.
He heard the key turn in the lock. Both of his hearts beat out an adrenal Symphony, but his face was composed and smooth. John came into the flat, unaware of his friend's intense distress.
"Sherlock," he asked, as he pulled off his coat, "why was the door locked?"
"A particularly boring client has been trying to visit. I heard him knocking like a maniac when I was trying to sleep earlier."
"Have you spoken to him?"
"Then how do you know he'll be boring?"
"Persistence like his only comes into practice when there's a love affair. Love affairs make for boring cases." Sherlock inwardly cringed once the words came out. Yes, good idea, tell him what a bad idea love is now, you idiot.
John shrugged and locked the door behind him, flopping down in his red chair in front of the fireplace. Sherlock bit the inside of his lip and picked up the small brown bag he'd been hiding behind his feet. From inside he pulled a tall bottle of John's preferred beer and a small bag of red licorice. He walked casually over to John's chair and set the snacks on his stand before folding himself into his own chair across the rug from his friend.
John frowned at the small offering, raising a suspicious eyebrow. "Beer and licorice?"
"You prefer it to chocolate, correct?"
"Well, yeah, but why did you buy some?"
"I was already out."
"You never shop."
"We were out of milk."
"So you bought milk then?"
"Nnnnnnno, I forgot the milk."
John looked him once up and down, sizing him up slowly. He leaned forward accusation swimming in his eyes. "Sherlock, is this poisoned?"
"What? No, why would I—"
"You've done it before."
"Oh, one time, John! And it turned out to only be sugar."
"Then why would you buy me beer and licorice?"
"Because we're friends, John! I'm allowed to do that, aren't I? Friends can buy each other something to nibble on after work. Or is that some great silent rule, like not telling someone they've gained weight but congratulating them when they lose it? Honestly I can't be expected to memorize all of these silly little human guidelines."
"Okay!" John said, quickly, holding up his hand. "Okay. Thank you." He opened the beer quickly, letting Sherlock see him take a sip to show he appreciated it. "Any interesting cases come around today? It's been a while."
"No, nothing important."
John winced. "Ouch. You must be going mad, cooped up in here with nothing exciting to do."
About twenty minutes passed. For any other two people, sitting in such heavy silence would have been awkward, but the two of them were used to just existing in each other's company.
"John," Sherlock finally started, taking a moment to steady himself. "There's something…we need to discuss something."
"What is it?"
Do it quick, like a Band-Aid. "I… Okay, last week when my parents were here—"
There was a loud knock on the door. "Mr. Holmes?" a deep voice called. Mr. Holmes, are you home?"
Sherlock sighed, rubbing a hand over his face as he dropped his voice to a whisper. "Oh, God. Ignore him, he'll go away. Anyway, John, I was talking to my mother, and she suggested that I tell you—"
The next knock at the door was much fiercer, and this time it was a woman's voice. With a thick welsh accent she hollered into the flat. "To hell with this! We don't have time to be chasing after you!"
There was a buzzing sound, a whining charge echoing through the flat.
John frowned. "What is that sound?"
Sherlock's eyes widened, then he dived across the rug and pulled John to the ground, covering both of their heads at the last possible minute. There was a loud explosion as the locked door burst into hundreds of small pieces, flying past their heads and scattering all across the room. Sherlock heard a window shatter somewhere and the sound of John's favorite teacup shattering on the coffee table.
Sherlock winced as his ears rang, automatically brushing a few light splinters out of John's hair before jerking his hand back. He'd never actually touched John's hair before, and he was struck by the soft, choppy feel of it. This was not the time.
Smoke settled and the two men peered up from the carpet as a man and woman walked through the smoking hole where their door had been.
"Jesus, Gwen!" the man said, rubbing his ears. "I thought you said it would just open the door!"
"It did," she shrugged, wincing a bit. In her hands was a large gun unlike anything John had ever seen.
The army doctor jumped to his feet, grabbing his hand gun from its hiding place underneath his armchair and pointing it back at the woman.
"Hey!" she said pointing the barrel of the weapon towards him. "Drop it!"
"I don't bloody think so!" John said, mouth hanging open in shock as he surveyed the damage. "Look at my door! Who the hell are you?"
"Are you Sherlock Holmes?" she asked skeptically. "I thought you'd be taller."
"John," Sherlock said quickly, "you can lower the gun. She can't hurt us."
"That…. That thing she's holding just blew in our door!"
"It's a Sontaran Squareness gun. A malfunctioning, old model, but definitely Sontaran. She won't be able to shoot it again for at least a half hour while it recharges."
Gwen frowned, inspecting the weapon. The man next to her crossed his arms. "Really? That's a terrible idea for a weapon."
"It's not a weapon," Sherlock said angrily, stalking over and ripping the gun from Gwen's hands. "It's used for emergency exits. Only an ignorant, stupid life-form, playing with things beyond their base intelligences, would use it as a weapon. I am Sherlock Holmes, and you need to leave. Now."
My name is Ianto Jones, and this is Gwen Cooper," the man said holding out his hand. Sherlock just glared at him so he shrugged and put the hand back in his pocket. "You've been ignoring us, Mr. Holmes. Do you ever check your Email? We must have left a thousand messages, and I've been to your flat every day—"
"I'm aware," Sherlock snapped, turning on his heel. "If you're here so often, it should be easy for you to find your way home from here, yes?"
"I decide what cases I take on!" he said sharply as he walked away through the kitchen. "I thought my complete lack of reciprocity might be enough, but I guess I'll have to spell it out for you. I'm. Not. Interested. We'll be sending you the bill for the door. Now get out before we call the police."
"You will listen to what we have to say!" Gwen started, but Ianto held up his finger to her.
"Mr. Holmes, Captain Jack Harkness sent us here."
They heard Sherlock's footsteps stop, then he slowly walked back into the living room, fixing the suited man with a suspicious glare. "Jack Harkness has my mobile number. If he needed me, he would have called."
"That's the point, Mr. Holmes. Jack is missing. Has been for almost two weeks. He left us protocols, instructions on what to do is he goes missing and doesn't contact us. There were places for us to check, contacts to ask about his whereabouts, but no one knows anything. At the top of the protocols, it says that if we can't find him, we find Mr. Sherlock Holmes at 221 B Baker Street."
Sherlock frowned, staring at the floor as the wheels in his head turned. "Who are you?"
"I told you—"
"To him. Who are you to Jack Harkness?"
"I'm…he's our boss," Ianto said.
Sherlock saw the slight tinting of his cheeks and remembered his father talking about Jack's special male interest of this century. "Any leads?"
John guffawed. "You're actually considering helping them? After they broke our flat?"
Sherlock sighed a bit guiltily. "Jack is family, John."
John's eyes widened. "Oh. Like… your family?"
"Sort of. If you don't want to get involved—"
"No," John said quickly. "I didn't know. I'll help."
Ianto pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Sherlock. "This is our only clue. It was laying on top of Jack's desk the day he disappeared."
Sherlock took the paper, and almost immediately smirked. Across the little paper was a number.
"We don't know what it means," Ianto said. "It's too long for a phone number, too short for proper coordinates—"
"I know what it is," Sherlock said, flipping the little strip over. His smile faded immediately. There, typed in small black letter, was a three word message that made his heart pound in his chest.
Love, From M