It’s a thought that had plagued Sherlock’s mind since that night, burrowing itself deep in an uninhabited corner but coming out to the forefront at the most inopportune times. It’s selfish. It’s cruelly selfish, really, and he hated himself so much as soon as the thought had crept up while he watched, numb, as Mary bled to death on the aquarium floor, blue lights shimmering over her limp body as John’s wrecked sobs cut like the sharpest knife in Sherlock’s side.
Finally, oh, thank god.
Images of their early days together in Baker Street wouldn’t stop bombarding him. He thought of John’s happy smile, always so eager and warm, something Sherlock would finally be able to see everyday again. John, grumpy in the morning, puttering about making tea and mumbling to himself about Christ knows what.
No, those times were only a faint memory now, nothing would bring them back in all their innocent and bright-eyed glory. It was a kid’s fantasy to pretend otherwise. Looking at John then, still beautiful as the day they had met, but ragged with time and turmoil, hunched over the corpse of the woman who had changed everything for them, for better or worse.
Sherlock’s heart ached.
But, reality was the ever pressing and all consuming enemy, pushing Sherlock forward, and forcing him to watch John break down, and the guilt swallowed him whole, crashing tidal waves so loud he couldn’t hear.
A pale hand extended, the only solace he could muster, when words, as they so often seemed to do, failed him.
The look on John’s face was what he thought would break him entirely.
“You were supposed to protect her.”
The pitying look on Molly’s face when she answered the door, clutching to a bundle of blankets that was Rosie, all innocent and naive to the injustices of the world, that was what he thought would break him entirely.
“He said he’d rather have anyone but you.”
The sentence held a heavy weight equivalent to the world on his shoulders, and the note, god, the note, who even cared what it had to say? At that point, Sherlock knew he was deserving of all the vitriol it had to spew, but he couldn’t bear to stomach it.
It sat on his bedside table, doomed to grow a layer of dust while he took up chambers on the sofa, body turned toward John’s chair and with a closer proximity to the kitchen.
He would’ve done it even without Mary’s video. The aching truth is, he would’ve done it no matter what because yet again he was a selfish man, and at least this felt like accepting it.
Wiggins was irritating, but Sherlock could more or less block him out, especially when he was as high as he so usually was. It didn’t matter about John, it didn’t matter about Mary, and it didn’t matter that secretly he knew Mary was right, and that John was oh so beautifully predictable.
No, he hardly cared about that because John, more than being very predictable, was entitled to any actions he took after Sherlock so foolishly failed on his promise of protecting the both of them.
The heroin, as always, was such a comfort.
All the small misunderstandings between the two of them became monstrous in the face of a baby who no longer had a mother, and the ever impending threat of Moriarty’s supposed return looming over London.
So, it was Rosie on lunch dates with Molly and her new girlfriend. It was last-minute pleading with Mrs. Hudson to look after her for a few hours while the cases continued as they must and Sherlock caught himself staring at John, so weary, and yet so timelessly beautiful that it made his stomach lurch. It couldn’t be the right time. It was never the right time.
The scene was a Monday morning on Baker Street. Sherlock had barely slept an hour the night before, as was his typical schedule. With the increased need to take on cases to begin cutting back on the drugs, and the responsibility of Rosie, the days were not long enough.
Rosie slept in a simple white crib up in John’s room and appreciated a diet of baby formula that Sherlock assumed tasted abhorrent. With a baby in the house, Sherlock experienced a new desire to clean up after himself, and it made John smile with just a hint of the familiarity of old. That was enough for Sherlock to convince himself that cleaning equaled a good idea, but of course the fact that it kept Rosie safe was an added benefit.
She was miraculously still asleep, and John had just brewed tea. Sherlock sat in his chair, already dressed, and tapped around on his phone. John sank into his chair with a sigh.
“Well, proper parents, now aren’t we?” he quipped, sipping his tea, and flipping open the newspaper.
Sherlock paused, considering the weight of that particular sentence. “Yes,” he answered. “I suppose we are.”
He flicked his eyes back to his phone screen, and began tapping away again.
He could still feel the warm press of John against his chest that day about a month ago now, when the tensions exploded. No words could stand to match the simple fact that John was crying, and that Sherlock finally did the right thing for once. For all the drugs and dead assassin wives in the world, there would always be Baker Street to fall back on, and that was the one comfort they could both find in the mess of their stupid lives.
John had begun to move back in the next day. He was silent and quick about it, but there was just the slightest bit of spring back in his step, or maybe Sherlock was just imagining things. It could’ve been an after effect of all the drugs.
Sherlock looked at John now, sipping his tea and looking at the paper with that stern, contemplative brow that he always had, and felt the tug of a smile at the side of his mouth. He tried to mask it behind the phone, but to no avail.
“What are you over there grinning about? Serial killer on the rise?” John asked, looking up from the paper.
Sherlock clicked his phone off, and turned his head, really looking at John, straight in the eyes and uncompromising. He smiled again, letting the feeling take up his whole face.
“Okay, now it’s getting just a bit scary,” John said, but his eyes were bright.
“John, I just realized something,” Sherlock replied. “Not exactly just realized it, mind you, but I really experienced the magnitude of something I’ve been realizing for the last 7 years.”
“Oh? Out with it then, if it has anything to do with why you’re smiling like a bloody lunatic.”
“John you are the most important person in my life and I don’t know what I would do without you, in fact I do know what I would do without you. It’s called getting so high I almost kill myself and then chasing around a serial killer until he almost kills me, and then-”
John laughed. “Right, right. I was there for that bit. Saved your life, remember?”
“Yes, John. Saved my life because that’s what you do. That’s what you’ve always done.” Sherlock stressed, phone ignored now and hands clenched to the sides of his chair.
John rolled his eyes, laughing. “Yes, Sherlock, but what’s this got to do with what you’ve just realized?”
“John.” Sherlock said, voice shaking and body almost out of his chair and across the room. “I’m in love with you.”
John was quiet then, teacup likely gone cold in his hand and newspaper long ignored. “Well. I-uh, yeah. Um,” John stuttered over his words, not meeting Sherlock eyes.
Suddenly, the baby monitor on the side table went off, Rosie crying out. “Oh, dammit,” John grumbled, throwing the newspaper down and getting up from his chair.
“I’ll help,” Sherlock immediately offered, following him up the stairs.
Sherlock stood in the doorway, watching John lean over the crib, whispering to Rosie and leaning down to pick her up. “Shh, Daddy’s here,” he said quietly, rubbing a soothing hand down her back.
John looked up at Sherlock, standing still as a statue in the doorway, looking as out of place as he had ever been. John extended a hand.
With hands intertwined, they watched Rosie’s little face light up finally. “See, you made her smile,” John said. “More than I could do, isn’t it?”
Sherlock didn’t have anything to say, for once. His throat was tight, and pinpricks of happy tears started nestling themselves in the corners of his eyes as he studied Rosie’s eyes that looked so much like John’s, and felt the steady comfort of John’s palm in his, rough and smooth and unmoving.
John was watching him, watching with a satisfied smile that was brighter than any sunrise.
The three of them, such a mismatched and messed up group, all standing in the bright morning of John’s pale white room, the sun dancing across his navy blue bed sheets and Rosie’s light pink onesie, the three of them and all of the pain and hardship and trouble it took to experience such a moment of peace and clear understanding, the three of them were-
“This is family,” John said, squeezing Sherlock’s hand tight.
Yes, Sherlock thought, they were family.
“And of course I love you too, you big, beautiful idiot.”
Sherlock just smiled, and squeezed John’s hand back. “I know.”