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Gifts Woven in HeartStrings

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Mrs Hudson

Mrs. Hudson smoothed the fabric of Sherlock’s tuxedo, and straightened his collar. It was beautiful fabric, smooth, with the jet black colour sharpening it's edges, like, she thought, the cold precision that he claimed to like. It was almost like Sherlock. Almost. She picked up a light pink rose, and placed it in his pocket. There you are, Mrs. Hudson smiled to herself. Perfect balance, common sense and reasoning, completely upset by the presence of the rose- a betrayal of the emotion within. And yet the suit could not have been better complemented.

Actually, Sherlock, you and I both know, it's the rose that is you entirely, isn't it?

"Stand in front of the mirror, Sherlock." she said to him, and he obediently turned, so that they could look at his reflection.

Sherlock stood poised, elegant, and beautiful in the suit. The darkness of it brought out his own paleness, making him look like a skillfully sculpted marble statue. And though he looked spectacular, it was his face that was worth looking at more than his body. A big smile stretched across his features. The smile of a man who was deeply, madly, irrevocably in love, of a man whose future excited him more than words. It had a sort of happiness in it that was child-like. Pure, unadulterated, limitless.

 

Mrs Hudson smiled fondly at him, and it momentarily filled her with a warmth and pride like that of a mother’s. he had always been the son she never had, but always wanted. A memory came to her mind, and she could not help but smile wider as she recollected it.

For a moment she let herself feel the very same emotions she had felt on that night.

---

I close the windows, but the strong wind shows some resistance. Firmly putting the latch, I draw the curtains, and then come back to your bedside, tucking you in properly. You sneeze violently in response, and I give a sigh.

"I sometimes don't know what you are thinking, Sherlock." I mutter, mostly to myself, but you are close enough to hear it. "Chasing criminals, and what not in the streets when it's raining cats and dogs outside."

I get up and turn down the lights, leaving them very dim.

"Now you've gotten a cold. Were you this troublesome as a child too?”

You mutter something, which faintly sounds like, ‘Only for you’.

I chuckle at this, and gently caress your forehead. It burns at my touch, and I recoil my hand with an exclamation.

Rushing downstairs, I bring up a tray of water with ice cubes bobbing in it. I stay with you for th next two hours. I take the cloth soaked in the ice cold water, and press it onto your forehead. It's a tedious process that I have to continue, but I never complain. All that matters is that the fever should fade away. There is a sheen of sweat all over your body, and you look slightly delirious because your lips twitch a little, and you look sick, Sherlock. Properly ill, and so I take care of you. Then the temperature starts to fall, and though not wanting to leave you, I know you need your rest, and so I know I should let you sleep.

 "Sherlock, rest now. I will check your temperature after a few hours." I am about to leave, when I hear you mutter something.

Your voice is low, and unclear, and you are on the verge of sleeping.

 "Thank you, mother."

For a moment, I freeze in my tracks.

Mother. Warmth floods my chest. Even though I know that it was your fever talking, for a split second I savour the feeling of what it means. It feels wonderful, and I turn to look at you in the dim light of the room. It glows a little as the golden light falls on your face. There is an innocence to your face, one that you always had. It's not the innocence of the naive, but of the powerful, the untouchable. And yet the calmness on your face as you sleep is childlike. For a moment, I am taken aback. Your face has no trace of the cold, calculating mind that you like to show everyone, for now it looks tired, vulnerable. I smile because it is then that I realize who you truly are.

A little boy with a curious mind and a golden heart, who flings himself into the world, going on adventures, and figuring out the impossible. And underneath it all: a will to love, grieve, get angry, and be surpised with what the world has to offer, hidden only for the fear of getting hurt.

And perhaps I am not your mother, but in that moment I feel a wave of affection drown me and I smile, closing the door behind me quietly.

 -----

I look at you through the mirror, and you almost look the same, Sherlock. You still have that look of innocence on you. Your eyes still shine bright, only there are lines of old age that emerge from their tips. It makes me realize how old I am myself. Young at heart, of course, but the oldness still gets to me sometimes. Like that hip. Sometimes I want to remove it and throw it out. But that's okay, Sherlock, because we all grow old.

But I have lived so much, a lot of it thanks to you.

Is it not a few days ago that I had first seen you Sherlock? So young and clever and bored. You had spewed something horrible about my husband. And then I smiled. I laughed and I ruffled your hair and asked you if you wanted a cuppa. You looked so surprised Sherlock, and it was then that I was sure that you needed a lot of love.

I glad I did that. You loved being clever and being praised, and you loved me too, I think. And you used to tell me all about the crime that you solved, and I would just laugh and kiss you on your forehead. They were fun times.  And loved every day of it. And I think you know it too.

"Very handsome, Sherlock. John is going to be head over heels over you today." I smile fondly.

You laugh lightly, "That he will, Mrs Hudson."

"Well, now.I am going to go and meet him. So don't go trying to talk to him. It's tradition."

You pout at this, as if being subjected to some great injustice. Ah, you always have a flair for the dramatic, don't you? I put my hand on the doorknob, and am about to turn it, when you quitely say to me,

"Thank you, mother."

You say it so softly, I am not sure if You actually said it, and so I turn to look at you, to make sure I am not imagining things.

Your eyes are filled with gratitude, and love, your lips in a small, uncertain smile. Not my imagination, then.

I smile widely and reply, "You are always welcome, Sherlock."

----

Harry Watson

Mrs. Hudson entered John's room, where Harry was busy grooming him.

"John!" Mrs Hudson exclaimed as she saw him, "You look very handsome."

He indeed did. Wearing a matching tux as Sherlock's, his silver hair were combed backwards, as Sherlock had taken a likening to, John stood still with Harry fluttering around him, making little adjustments, and looking at him critically, as if to find imaginary mistakes. There was only one difference between the way Sherlock wore it, and the way John did. Sherlock looked like an aristocrat, whereas John, like a army man, a commander, if you will. Harry stepped back a little, allowing Mrs Hudson to take over, and as the latter chatted excitedly, Harry looked at them, warmth flooding her chest.

----

Mrs Hudson talks to you, excitedly, her eyes gleaming with happiness, and I can see that she is thrilled at this. You and him. And you, you are thrilled too. More than thrilled. Ecstatic, I should say. You are smiling, grinning, like a complete idiot, and there is a flair in the way you hold yourself, as if you are proud of something. You stand taller when you introduce me to Mrs Hudson. A warm feeling floats into my chest. Everything that I've gone through seems to be worth the pride in the way you look at me.

And I should thank you. Because you helped, helped me get rid of the drinks. You, Sherlock and Clara. She came back to me after everything, when I was at my worst. It was then, I realized, how grateful I am for having her in my life. It's like Sherlock, isn't it,  he's changed you too. I know he was the one who forced you to meet me again, and help me kick the bottle. He helped you trust me. But it's not just that.

You look, lighter. As if you have been freed, like a load was lifted off your back. You seem more carefree, not like someone who is sure of not getting hurt, but of someone who is brave enough to take the risk of getting hurt. You seem younger, and stronger than before. Sherlock Holmes has changed you for the better, then. He is a strange man, that fellow. But in a nice way. He has eyes that look like they can see though everything. But somehow, they're reassuring too, like your secret is safe with him. He smells like danger, and adventure. I can see why you like him.

I want to thank him, John, for so many things. The most for helping me become sober. And for making you believe in me to do it. It's one of the things that I thought could never happen. Not after I had broken your trust. Not after so many times. Not after that day.

----

Tears stream down my face. I sniffle, and the pathetic state I am in becomes apparent to me. Anger spurts randomly, but soon gets mixed with the pain and fades into it.

My parents and I got into a fight. At first it was about my alcoholism, but the topic soon shifted to my homosexuality. That's what bothers them. The most, more than the fact that I get wasted almost every other day. I know it, they know it too. They just won't say it. Like it's a disease. The thought makes me furious. But then the anger goes away. It occurs to me that I probably should give them time to adjust to it, because it's new to them. But then their harsh words come back to me, and I throw the thought away. Suddenly I hear some voices outside, arguing.

I recognize the voices, They're muffled because of the door, but they're clear enough for me to make our what you're saying. Two of them are mom and dad's voices. The other is yours, John.

I open the door silently, but only slightly, so that I can hear what they are arguing about.

"She's your daughter, mom and dad." Your voice is a plea, John, like you're asking them to consider the fact.

They don't reply.

"She's my sister too," You continue. "We cannot just abandon her like that. And it's not her fault that she's like that."

I flinch at the reference to my homosexuality.

"John, she has gone out of control. First this disease," I can hear the disgust in her voice.

"And now all this drinking. That's the kind of things i/those/i type of people get in." I want to cry. I hate hearing the utter disgust in her voice. I hate myself.

 

"Mom, it's not like that. She's just under peer pressure. And this is just temporary, she will stop drinking."

I am surprised. You've never stood up for me before. A wave of gratitude rushes through me.

"John, don't you see?" Mom's voice is incredulous.

There's a pause, and I close my eyes, waiting for you to say yes. Say that you see it, see what a mess I've become.

"You know what I see, mom?" Your voice has risen to a shout, John, you've never done that before. For a moment I am taken by surprise at the anger in your voice. "I see a scared girl, suffering from peer pressure, and doing all of this, because she wants acceptance. And the one who made her feel like that are her parents. She probably hates her guts now, dad. Please. " Your voice breaks a little, you sound tired. "She's family. We can't do that to her." There's silence. You storm off.

Tears run down my face. I sob. I don't know what to do. I want to thank you, John, for everything that you said. But I don't know what my parents think now. In times like these I hate myself. Hate myself, for being. This. What I am. A failure.

Some time later, you come in.

"Hey," your voice is cautious. "I told mum and dad, okay? They'll understand, Harry. We're family. And family always sticks together."

I don't say anything. I don't know how to. I just look at your face. You look  tired, frustrated even. But you still smile, trying to be encouraging. For a moment I am angry at him. Angry, because you're so perfect. So normal. But then it subsides, as I realize something. This is your first fight with mom and dad, John. You've never argued for anything. Always took what they gave you, never disagreed.

"John?"

"Hmm?"

"Thanks."

You smiles softly, and patting my head saying, "It's okay."

"Hey listen. I am going to kick the bottle, alright?"

"I know, Harry. I know you will."

You get up, and leave, without saying anything else.

It's two days later. My blinds are drawn. The room is dark.

The door suddenly cracks open, and there's a lot of light. I squint.

Too late I realize it's ,you, John.

I try to hide my bottle, but in vain. I am too drunk, the glass of the bottle clinks as it touches the floor.

"Harry? What the hell." Then you see me.

Miserable, wasted, slopping drunk over the floor.

"John?" I slurr.

" 'S nothing. Yeah, just some orange juice." This only shows how drunk I am.

"Harry you promised." You are hurt. Don't be. Here, have some. It helps for the pain to go away.

"Never mind. Forget that." You slam the door.

Before you leave, I see your eyes for a moment, glistening in a stray ray of light. They're angry and hurt. And not looking at me, as if you were unable to.

"John!" I shout at the closed door.

"S alright! I promise. I promise I 'll stop." I take another swig. This time everything looks even more blurred, and the alcohol burns my throat, but leaves that warmth that makes me believe everything will be fine. I fall asleep like that, making false promises to myself. But in the dimmed light of the room, and the soft lull of the drink, I believe in them.

----

That's what I would still have been like, John. If it weren't for you. Or for Sherlock. He helped me quietly you know. Sometimes, during the process, when I felt like giving up, somehow he would always know. I would find him at whichever bar I chose, even if I did it randomly. He didn't say much, just took me to some cafe. He talked about normal things you know. Sometimes about your relationship, sometimes about Rosie, or some crime that he was solving. He said it mechanically, most of the times, except when he was saying something cute Rosie did, or a funny thing that you did. But it helped, weirdly enough. I could tell sometimes it made him uncomfortable, especially the first few times.But he had this fierce determination in his eyes. He loved you enough to go through all that. He's a good man, John, and he's made you an even better one.

As I add my final touches, you talk about your honeymoon, and Sherlock. You talk like you're in constant awe of him, but not with the blind admiration of a puppy, but of someone who's seen his devils. Seen him conquer them. Like you're proud of him for doing it. And now I can see you two, old and fragile, holding hands, smiling like two lovesick fools. But you deserve it, you know. And I really am happy for you.

You suddenly stop talking with Mrs Hudson. "Harry, are you okay?"

"Yeaj, why wouldn't. I be?" I realize that my eyes are wet.

"You look like you're crying."You look concerned, and it makes me smile

"Nothing, it's just that I am happy for you." I take a deep breath, and see Mrs Hudson step back, out of the corner of the eye. "And I wanted to thank you-- for believing in me."

It sounds like it needs a little more explaining, and so I say, "For helping me believe that I could, you know, kick the bottle."

For a moment, you are silent, and I know you're thinking of those dark days. And then you look at me and smile, the corners of your eyes crinkling.

 

"You're welcome." We embrace lightly for a few moments. Neither of us are touchy people.

"Come on John," I smile, "you've got a wedding to attend, a man to take to bed."

"Oh shut up" you say it like you're disgusted with me, but I see your cheeks tinge pink.

 

I tease you about it as we make our way outside. It feels good, hell, it's wonderful.

And sometimes the drink gets to me, sometimes I'm tempted to have a sip or two. But then I see you, and Clara and Sherlock, and Rosie, and sometimes mum and dad. People for whom I need to stay sober. And most importantly, I see myself, in the mirror. I look healthy, happy. I look like life.

And it feels amazing.

Chapter Text

Rosie

Rosie walked daintily down the aisle with a little basket of light yellow rose petals, that did brilliant job of going along with the light blue of her gown, which she took care didn't make her stumble. After all, this was the wedding of the best dads in the world. Behind her, supervising the child was Molly, who affectionately looked on as Rosie excitedly threw rose petals around, leading up to the end where John and Sherlock stood waiting. This elicited a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs' as Rosie charmed her way down the aisle, stealing the hearts of everyone in the room.

Far in front of her stood Sherlock and John, both of whom where grinning madly, and as their eyes alternated between resting on Rosie and each other, everyone could see two things quite clearly: one, that they were immensely proud of their daughter, and two, that they were deeply, passionately in love with each other. As Rosie finished her detour, she was met with hugs from both her parent.

Once everyone was settled, the priest began with the verses, and though Rosie tried to concentrate at first, some of the words went above her head, and she gave up. Instead, she looked at her dads, and smiled.

She remembered how the two had gotten together. So for a while she thought of that day, the first time she'd seen her dads kiss. She smiled widely, and then frowned a little. It wasn't all rainbows and unicorns.

***

Rosie was two, then, and had only begun speaking. It was a fun time, when John kept telling Rosie to call him "Papa", and try to get her call Sherlock anything from uncle to Sherlock. But for some reason, Rosie just wouldn't. Initially, they had tried getting Rosie to say "Mrs.Hudson" but then gave up on it. That day John had gone downstairs and asked Mrs Hudson, if she would do them the privilege of being Rosie's grandmother. She had, of course, accepted the offer, with tears in her eyes, and an affectionate yet tight embrace. It was thus that Rosie began to call her 'Gramma'.

It was a lazy afternoon, when the domesticity was at its highest, and the living room of the flat emanated a soft aura, that a harsh crashing sound disrupted the peace.

Rosie's sleep had been effectively terminated by the sound, and irritated, she began to wail loudly. The culprit was found to be Sherlock, who had accidentally dropped a beaker. John rushed in to the sound of the breaking glass and Rosie's cries, and stumbled upon a wonderful scene. The chemical in the beaker lay in a guilty puddle, beside Sherlock, who seemed to have forgotten all about it. He had picked Rosie up on his arms, and was rocking her back and forth, humming softly, trying to calm her down.

As soon as he saw John, though, he froze, as if a deer in headlights. He quickly handed over Rosie to John. Rosie, sensing a change of hands, and the absence of Sherlock's singing, looked up to find her father. Though she loved him, she also loved Sherlock's lullabies, and therefore turned to where Sherlock was standing, struggling in John's arms.

"Dada, dada ."  She appealed, her arms outstretched.

"That's right Rosie, daddy is right there." Sherlock said pointing towards John. Ignoring his statement, she continued repeating 'Dada', her arms outstretched towards Sherlock. It was then that both of them understood the situation.

Sherlock froze. Then, feeling slightly unsteady, he looked down at his feet and said in a shaky voice, "Forgive me, John. I had no intention of such an accident occurring. I played no part in this, and am not trying to act as a parental figure for Rosie. Rest assured, I will take all possible steps to ensure--" he was about to suggest all the different ways he could have Rosie emotionally detach herself from Sherlock. John cut him off.

"No, no, no. Sherlock," he said, setting Rosie back in the cradle. He held Sherlock's shoulders with both his hands, as if trying to steady him, "it's not like that. If she- if Rosie wants you to become her father too, if that's the way she sees you, I have no objection, Shelrock. "

Sherlock still refused to meet John's eyes. "Sherlock, look at me." At this, Sherlock slowly looked at John, and John could see the fear in his eyes. "Sherlock, it's okay," his voice was soothing. "You can be Rosie's dad. I don't mind. The only thing that matters is, do you want it? Do you want to be Rosie's dad?"

At this Sherlock took a step back. John's arms fell limply to his sides, and Sherlock said. "John, I--I. I am going out." His voice was apologetic and urgent. Grabbing his coat and scarf, he dashed out of the flat. Rosie began crying. Trying to pacify her, John rocked her back and forth, thinking about what had just happened. Through all of this, he had not properly registered what had happened. All be knew was that when Rosie had called Sherlock dada, a warm glow had spread all over John's body. John wondered what it would be like if Sherlock became Rosie's dad. What would they be then, a family? A vision swam into John's head.

Sherlock was sitting on his arm chair, with Rosie in his hands,.playing with her. He tickled her chin, and grinned as she giggled. John had kneeled near them both, and grabbing Sherlock's head, placed a kiss on his forehead. All of them were happy. They were a family.

 

John was surprised at the smile that the idea left on his face, and the warm feeling that seemed to radiate from him.

After Mary had died, and John had moved back in, he had begun to realize something. That the affection that he had for Sherlock before, was still present, stronger than ever before, but something else had creeped in too. He found himself staring at Sherlock's lips, and sometimes wondered what it felt like to kiss them. He began to become overly conscious of little things: their hands brushing when they reached out for the same thing, their closeness as they sat on The couch, Sherlock's breath on his neck when reading through John's writing, his head JOhn's shoulders.

After much thinking, and over thinking, John reached to a conclusion .

He liked- no loved Sherlock.

But that of course, didn't matter.

Sherlock, who was married to his work , could never love him back. He had made it quite clear already.

 

It was three hours later, when Rosie had been given some toys to play with, seeing that sleep was no longer an option, that the door below opened, and footsteps ascended the stairs, John breathed a sigh of relief. The handle turned, and John wasn't sure whether he would be relieved or scared at what was behind the door.

Sherlock stepped inside. His entire appearance was disheveled. His hair were awry, his scarf at the verge of falling, his clothes wrinkled, and his countenance shaken. It looked as though he was physcially disintegrating.

It occurred to John that maybe Sherlock had used, and a wave of anger erupted within him.

"Where were you, Sherlock? You cannot just disappear for hours without telling me." 

To this Sherlock gave no response in particular, only a gruff sound. Rosie noticed that her dad had come home, and gave an exclamation of delight, before a stuffed elephant caught her eye and she started playing with it. Sherlock looked at her and smiled tiredly in response. He walked past John without meeting his eyes, as if the latter did not exist at all. His anger fueled, John roughly grabbed Sherlock's arm, and turned him around to face John. His earlier worry about whether or not Sherlock would accept the role of being Rosie's father had temporarily subsided.

"You cannot walk away from me like this, Sherlock, you cannot walk away from us."

Sherlock struggled to free himself from John's grip, but abandoned it soon, knowing that it was useless. Instead, he stared firmly into John's eyes. How longer would the ruse work? How long until John would know the truth?

John was taken aback by the bitter misery in Sherlock's eyes. But before anything else, John looked at Sherlock for signs of drugs. Sherlock had promised that he wouldn't use anymore. For John. For Rosie. He felt extremely relieved at not finding any, but was still startled by the helplessness and melancholy in Sherlock's eyes. He could think of no reason for it, but it diminished his anger a little, and he asked gently, "Are you okay? Look, I already told you that you can be Rosie's father too, if you want. And it's okay if you don't want to. I understand that--"

"Of course you do. You understand everything John, but nothing at all." Sherlock was surprised at the extent of bitterness in his own voice.

"What are you saying, Sherlock?"

"You wouldn't be able to comprehend it John."

"What will I not comprehend, Sherlock?"

"What I'm feeling right now." "Oh really? Try me."

"Leave it."

"No, Sherlock," John's voice was restless and gruff. "I will not leave it. Goddman it Sherlock! I will not leave it. Sometimes, people care about other people, you know? And they want to know what happened to their loved ones when anything is wrong." It Was meant to be a statement, but came out as a shout.

 

Rosie let out a cry of distress at the shouting, and looked on as her parents fought. It seemed a little confusing to her.

John's words seemed to provoke the feelings that Sherlock had tried his best to bury, "Sure, John. How convenient for you to understand things and play dumb as you please."

"Sherlock, what is wrong with you? I know it is difficult for you, but it's not been a ride in the park for me either, you know?"

"Yes of course John. But what if I agree to become Rosie's father? What happens when you get another girlfriend, another wife. Where will this extra 'father' go?" He spat at John angrily.

"Shut up, Sherlock!" John's voice was dangerously low, "You know that nobody can ever replace you. And it was never I who left you, you did." He pointed a finger accsusingly at Sherlock.

 

"I left you? I struggled for two years John! Dismantling Moriary's network, making sure that there were no loose ends. All so that you wouldn't be shot by Moriarty's men. I did it for you, John. It's always been for you John." His voice had a shiver to it, and he seemed to no longer be talking to John.

"But you never saw it, did you? John 'not gay' Watson. You never saw it and you never will. Because you can never love me back!" The last sentence was loud, and yet his voice shook audibly, the resultant effect of which voiced only to clearly the depth and intensity of his emotions. Rosie sensed pain in her father's voice, and she held her hands out, in order to somehow comfort him.

And then, as if hit with the full meaning and implications of what he had said, Sherlock's hand rose towards his mouth, trying to take back the words.

"I am sorry, John, forgi--"

"No, no,no, Sherlock," John's voice was a breathy whisper, "What did you mean,  when you said 'never love me back'?"

"Nothing, John. Just forget that I ever said it."

"No, Sherlock. I need to know." There was fascination in John's eyes, as if he was scarcely believing what he understood and saw.

"Need to know what, John? How I have made a fool of myself?" Sherlock said bitterly. He hated, in that moment, every feeling of affection he had ever felt for John. How could he have ever thought John would reciprocate his ridiculous sentiments? He was afraid that John would unravel them, and then look at him in disgust as he picked up Rosie and walked away; out of the room, and out of his life. He couldn't lose John, not again.

"I need to know, if you feel the same way. If you- if you--" John choked a little, and at the same moment Sherlock looked into John's eyes, and he knew.

"I- I. John." Then lifting his hand to touch John's face, but withdrawing it, not Sure if he had the right to. At last, he said, "I do."

For a moment they stood there, looking foolishly into each other's eyes, trying to process what each had just felt, and what new knowlegde they had acquired.

And then, like shy teenagers, they twittered around the thought of kissing, until John mustered up the courage, and asked, "Can I- I mean, can I kiss you?"

In reply, Sherlock cautiously put a hand on John's neck, and pulled him forward somewhat roughly, not because he didn't have enough experience, but that for all the experience, his mind had gone blank. The only coherent thought was a single word.

John.

He repeated it like a prayer in his mind, as their lips met. Initially their lips were still, savoring the moment, the feeling of their own lips pressed against the other's. Then John used Sherlock's shoulder to steady himself, and kissed him, a little roughly, but then, slowed down to let Sherlock pick up the pace. They grabbed at each others lips, and John traced the lower lip with his tongue. Thrilled, Sherlock parted his lips, perhaps to let in some air, and John dove in.

It seemed as if a circuit had been completed, for sparks of electricity, like fireworks clouded their brain.

With it came a sudden wave of want. It's depth was all-consuming, and it left both of them suddenly exhausted, and yet energized by the want. It was a longing, the longing for deliverance after all the years of pent up emotions, trying to come through all at once, like a river trying to flow faster than could be contained, resulting in a flood. They drowned in their own emotions, parting from each other to breathe, come up to the surface.

John fondly stroked Sherlock's face, the pads of his thumbs trying to memorize every sensation, every surface. Sherlock looked at John, marvelling the view - his luck, elated.

Rosie, having sensed that the atmosphere had lightened, and that her parents were happy, gave a little cheer, and looked, mystified, at their closeness.

 

For their faces were close. Close enough for John to see the wrinkles that were slowly becoming more pronounced, the faint hint of grey at Sherlock's temples. The tenderness of the eyes that held his own, the galaxies hidden in them. It stirred something inside him.

They were close enough for Sherlock to see a layer of.moisture glisten in John's eyes. Worried, he stepped back a little, so that he could see John's face properly.

His eyebrows where scrunched up with worry, and John smiled between the tears because it looked endearing.

"What is the matter, John? Does this," his hands gestured to them both, "bother you? I'm so sorry, John. I have offended you by this, haven't I? I shouldn't have tried to-do forgive me, John."

There was a fear in his eyes that made John want to take his face in his hands, and rub the lines of worry away.

"No, no Sherlock. Please don't apologise. You don't ever have to apologise for loving me. Okay? What we have- what we have now-- it's amazing. But it's just that we took so long," John's voice broke, as he said the last few words. He looked at Sherlock, and suddenly the feeling- the want, filled him again.

"So long, Sherlock. Too long."

He looked at Sherlock with such fierce emotion, that for a moment, the latter stood shocked. He had not expected John to love him back- and never so much.

"It should have been sooner. We deserve so much. So much. Christ, Sherlock, why did we wait for so long?" He burried his face in Sherlock's chest, sobbing, "So much time lost. Can't we turn back time?"

"Shh-shh." Sherlock's voice was calm over John's own, which was really the result of a tremendous amount of self control. John needed him, and he had always given John his all. "John. We don't need to turn back time. I have never felt that the time we spent together was a waste. Every second with you is a pleasure." It seemed as though he had rehearsed it a million times, but as the words spewed out uncontrollably, Sherlock surprised himself. He was not very good at expressing emotions. Until now, probably.

He preseed a kiss to John's head, enjoying every sensation,every sound and smell, and whatever else he could salvage from his moment. They stood there for a while, even after John's sobs died away, holding each other in blissful silence.

Rosie simply watched them for a while, at peace, and then went to sleep quitely, somehow knowing better than to disturb her parents in a moment like that.

---

Rosie smiled at the memory. It was a happy memory, and she loved it. She loved her dads. They loved her a lot too.

And then, things changed little by little. Perhaps It was the presence of a child, that the domesticity that they had always shared, escalated to new heights.

There was these little times, that brought them closer to each other, and if it was indeed possible, make their love grow.

Like the time when John found Sherlock and Rosie in the bathroom, in an extremely adorable position. Sherlock was giving a bath to Rosie, and squatting down near the bathtub, his shirt, which was a beautiful aubergine, whose sleeves were rolled up to show his shapely arms. Rosie was in the tub with foam all around her, playing gleefully, while and exasperated Sherlock tried to bathe her. Then, with a joyous squeal, she started splashing around in the water, foam flying everywhere, and by a fortunate coincidence, a little bit fell squarely on Sherlock's nose.

If only adorable could explain the rush of affection John felt for the detective, and when Sherlock scrunched up his nose in displeasure, John couldn't take it anymore.

He went up to Sherlock, who was, unassumingly trying to get Rosie to calm down, and taking his face in his own hands, pulled him into a kiss.

Sherlock's eyes widened, at first, their grey irises slowly consumed by the black of his pupil, until he was completely distracted from anything else, even breathing, and settling Rosie in the corner of the bathtub, eagerly grabbed John's neck, pulling him closer, reciprocating enthusiastically. His hands were soapy and wet, but neither minded, and soon they pulled apart, albeit hesitantly, purely for the need of air, panting.

There were times when they, leaning against he headboard of John's bed, tried to get Rosie to sleep, the three of them ending up sleeping together, curled up around each other.

One such morning, when the day had only begun and soft sunshine filtered onto their bed, that Sherlock woke up, trying to understand what the heavy weight on his left torso was.

And in that soft light, he saw John curled up against him, with a Rosie in his arms.

He looks so peaceful, Sherlock thought.

And John did seem content. Content as if there were no problems in the world, as if he had everything he could ever wish for. Content like this was the only place he belonged. In Sherlock's arms.

His focus shifted to Rosie, and he found her wide awake, staring at him with the beautiful blue eyes which often stared at him with immense love from her father's countenance. They were so much like John's, inquisitively peeking out, their colour the brightest ocean waves retreating lazily from the sand. She Was just so much like John.

Suddenly Sherlock was under water. A thousand feet below the surface, with not a sound, except of silence, and a calmness that enveloped him completely.

All he could see was John and Rosie in his arms, and him with John and Rosie. And the three of them, for what they were. A family.

Us.

Rosie giggled softly, and he realized that he had said it out loud.

"Us. Us. Us."

He tasted the word in his mouth, as if just understanding what it meant. What it would mean if it were true.

As Rosie looked on at him silently, with a toothless smile that said that she knew what was in his mind, he said to himself, albeit not without some fear: He wanted to marry John Watson.

 

Chapter Text

As John scanned the room, he suddenly froze. No, not today, not after all this time. He tried to look away, but kept looking back at it.

"You should take her aside and talk to her, John." Sherlock's voice was soft, and understanding. At times like these, John wanted to kiss him full on the lips, and tell him how much he loved him. And since it was his wedding day, he was entitled to it. And so he pecked Sherlock on the lips, Whispered a 'thank you' in his ear, and turned.

He walked to the outside of the hall, all the while wondering how he had become so lucky? Lucky enough to be able to look into the beautiful eyes of Sherlock Holmes, and see the love that he held for him reflected back. Lucky enough to meet a man who could read his mind and heart. A man with whom he'd gone through hell, a man who'd shown him heaven.

He finally reached a secluded spot, and found her standing there, as if she had known that it was the place he would pick. She'd worn a black dress, as if in a funeral. It had been a long time since he'd last seen her.

"Hello John." Mary smiled.

 

"Mary." He tilted his head slightly. His voice shook only slightly.

"Remembering me on your wedding day, John? Don't you know, never invite an ex." She smiled mischievously.

John chuckled. "Well, that is true."

"Congratulations, I suppose." She was being polite, he knew that.

"Thank you." And then, in a way of a courtesy, since he could think of nothing else, "How are you?"

"Dead as ever!" She laughed, a little dryly.

John attempted at a chuckle. Sure he had come to terms with Mary's death, but seeing her again brought back old memories.

"So, John, how does it feel to be romantically entangled with the heartless detective?" She said the word heartless mockingly, as if they both knew that it wasn't true.

"Wonderful, actually", John's voice sounded very joyous, and he looked back subconsciously to where Sherlock would be,even if he couldn't see him through the walls. "I am a very fortunate man indeeed."

"So is he, John, so is he. I hope he knows that." She looked at him wistfully, and suddenly John felt a stab of affection for her.

"Yes, um, I suppose." He laughed awkwardly in reply, unsure of what to say next.

Mary looked at John, and how he stood, fidgeting, and laughed, placing her hand on his shoulder, "It's okay, John. It was going to happen sooner or later, anyway. One way or another."

And then, in response to John's look of bewilderment, added, "Even if I was alive."

John was confused, because he could not find anything to say to her. Was it true? He questioned himself.

"Oh John," she spoke in the way of explaining a simple thing to a child, "you loved him the day we met. You loved him when we were together. You loved him when he came back. You loved him when we married. And you love him even now John. You always have." She chuckled sadly, as if at her own fate.

"But Mary--"

She interrupted him, "No John, I never meant that you didn't love me. You did. You were faithful to me that way, if not in the others," she spoke with full awareness of the sting in her statement. In this one, John deserved it, " You still love me. That is why I am here today. But the greatest tragedy remains John, that you always loved him a little more."

John stared deeply into her eyes, and then looked away, silent for a few seconds, as if thinking about something, and then replied, "I suppose, I did. Yes, I did, didn't I?" He said the last sentence with a shake of his head, and a chuckle, looking down at his feet.

 

"You can hardly argue with your own mind, darling." She cupped the side of his face, and placed a kiss on his cheek. "It's time to say goodbye!"

She stepped back, away from John, and turned to walk away.

Thanks, Mary. John thought as she walked away. Thanks for coming.

At this, she turned, and smiled, "You're welcome, John."

And with that she walked away, behind the nearest pillar. John knew that if he checked there would be no one behind it.

He went back to the crowd, and found Sherlock talking to a guest. When the guest had moved away, Sherlock asked, "So, how was it?"

"Um, yeah, it was good." John looked into Sherlock's eyes.

"Is she happy?" John knew what the question meant.

"Yes, she is." John smiled, and kissed Sherlock lightly.

The latter held on, fingers deliberately brushing John's neck in a gentle caress, playing with his collar indecisively, reaching beneath it,  and then retreating in a flash, leaving John wanting for more.

For now he curbed his urge to snog Sherlock on the wall behind him, knowing that there would be enough time tonight for payback.

 

On the other side of the room, unaware to John, between the chattering crowds, stood a lady in a black dress.

***

I settle down in one of the chairs. But for anyone who sees it, it will be empty. Even John. He's stopped seeing me. They're just shadows of me in his mind. Right now, I am a shadow of myself. But I came back today, John. You brought me back. You wanted me here. I feel a little happy. You remembered me. Anyway, John, this is a wonderful place. A wonderful place to get married. Better than ours, I seem to think. But that's just me being jealous. I don't really know why I am jealous. I made a choice when I jumped in front of Sherlock, that day. When I took the bullet for him, quite literally. I knew it then, too. That this was bound to happen. That you two were bound to happen.

I knew it on the day we had our first date. It seems like a lifetime ago, probably because it is. Back then, when you were still grieving over Sherlock.

***

Looks like you've been on a date for the first time in a long time, John, I think. Obviously I don't say it out loud. But it's easy to tell, really. You have dressed up a little more than people usually do, and you seem nervous. I feel a twinge of pride knowing that I am your first in some time. You sit down, and try to give me a confident smile. I wonder what is it that's kept you out of all this. I think it must be a breakup. She must have been someone very special, I guess. It's a nice little cafe, I observe, with low voices talking to each other in the early evening. Sunlight filters through the windows, and it hits your hair, making it glow with a golden colour. I want to run my fingers through them. As you get settled in, you give me an apologetic smile. "Sorry I am late."

I had been waiting for almost twenty minutes.

"That's okay really. I understand. The traffic is sometimes too much. Hardly anything you or I could do. It's not like we can make it disappear." I chuckle. And suddenly you think of something, someone, and your mouth's corner perks up, as if to say, i/ I know someone who could/i .

"No, I didn't leave on time. It's just that I haven't done this in a while. Well, ever since..." You stop, and then gulp, and then blink rapidly, as if trying to hold back tears. She must have been something, huh.

"Ever since, Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes. My friend." Your voice cracks a little as you say his name. I suddenly remember why your

name seems familiar. You are John Watson, partner in crime of the famous, or rather, now infamous Sherlock Holmes.

"Oh. I'm sorry." I take your hand in mine in a comforting gesture. At first you pull back a little to withdraw your hand, but then seem to admit defeat and let it stay there. I hold it tighter, as if to say, I am there for you John. You smile at me gratefully, and then firmly withdrawing your hand, say, "Enough about me, let's talk about you." I laugh lightly, and smile at you. "Alright."

We talk for a long time. I don't find any difficulty in keeping the facade of Mary Morstan. I have done this hundreds of times before. Only this is the last time. This is who I am going to be, forever. I am leaving my past behind, and if all goes well, the man in front of me is going to be my present and future.

At the end of the date, I have found out many things about John Watson. Some that he told me, and some that I picked up. I know that he's a retired war veteran, currently a practicing doctor. I know that he has a limp in his leg, apparently psychosomatic. I know that he likes to wear jumpers, and he doesn't like sugar in his coffee. And I know, that whoever this Sherlock Holmes is, John was in love with him. Correction: John is in love with him.

He probably doesn't even know it yet, or else he's too good at hiding it. My money is on the former.

You say Sherlock's name like it's a sacred prayer,  savouring it each time you says it, pausing a little. You talk a lot about him, and when you laugh, sometimes you looks to your right,  eyes stopping there for a second, as if you're looking at someone over there. I've checked, there's nobody. I shrug, because everyone has their quirks. I suppose it's just the way you're. It doesn't really matter.

Our date is over by seven, and it seems too early to have dinner. So we stand outside the cafe, looking at each other, trying to make small talk, anything to stall the inevitable. That we have to leave. Suddenly we both fall silent. We have nothing to say. Our eyes meet, and we laugh at the awkwardness of it all. And then it all fades away, with the realization of what is to happen next in both our eyes evident. And then you lean forward, and my heart races. You are going to kiss me. This is the moment that will define our relationship.

Our first kiss.

You lean in, but suddenly your eyes flit towards my left and your eyes widen. "Sherlock..." You whisper. And then you run. You Run like he's there. I look to where you seem to be heading. A tall man in a black coat is walking, his back towards us. His hair are a mop of black curls. And then, sensing someone is calling him, he stops and looks behind. I can see you stop abruptly. It's not him then. I can see you physically deflate. You really did think it was him.

How can you ever love me John, when you've already fallen for someone else to deeply?

 

****

But i was wrong John. You did love me. You still do, I know. It's just that you loved Sherlock too. And you always loved him a little more.

When we got together, John, I was sure that you were over him. But on that day, when Sherlock came back I realized how wrong I was. I had then decided to accept the fact. And I thought that we could share you, John. Not like a commodity, you know, but that we could share a place in your heart.

I was so desperate, John, to get rid of my old life, and everything was going well until Magnusson came into picture. I shot Sherlock, John, that day, and it was a shot to kill. But somehow, I didn't. I couldn't. I missed a little, just enough so that you didn't die immediately. But you were supposed to die there, Sherlock, somehow you didn't. I thought then that perhaps It was your will to live that had been so strong. But it wasn't that, was it Sherlock? It was never the wish to live, but your love for John. You came back from the dead for him. Twice.

John, he really did love you, didn't he? He would go to the ends of the universe for you John. That's the thing with people like him. They love seldom, but they love with everything they've got. And you deserve that kind of love.

Before, I thought that we could share you. But now that I am dead,  I realized something. No, I had always known it. I knew when I took the bullet for Sherlock. I know it now.

We never shared John Watson, Sherlock. Because that would mean that half of his heart was mine. No,.Sherlock, you always had his heart and his love, I had just borrowed it.

And this is me returning it to you.

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock scanned the room, his eyes resting on Molly's, who had been looking back at him. He smiled.

Across the room, Molly stared at him for a moment or two before realizing that she had to smile back, and forced a smile on her face.

She wondered if he knew that she was sad on the inside. That she still loved him. Of course he did, she thought. He was Sherlock bloody Holmes!

But he seemed to understand, when he looked at her, as if he knew what was going on in her mind, and wanted to tell her it was okay.

Then John spoke something in his ear, and he laughed, his eyes crinkled, and though she was too far away to have heard him, she could have sworn his deep, bubbling laughter echoed in her ears.

With a small smile, which wasn't entirely fake, she kept looking.

---

You look happy, Sherlock. You don't look so sad anymore. Not like the day, when I told you you look sad, when you think he can't see you. You still look a little sad sometimes, when you think no one's around. But it's different now. As though the thing that made you so sad, is simply a memory of the past, tinged with a little melancholy. As if you let go of it. That's good isn't it?

Will I ever let go? No. I don't think so.

Do you remember Sherlock, when you said I was the one that mattered the most. That Moriarty had gotten it wrong. I was the one who had made it all possible. Your eyes looked so soft Sherlock, I thought you might have kissed me then and there, right on the lips. I would have let you Sherlock. Let you kiss me, just that once, maybe more than once if you would have wanted it. I loved you then. I still love you. I think I have always loved you.

But isn't that how you're wired Sherlock? Whomever you meet is destined yo fall in love with you. It's inevitable. Like death, perhaps. Perhaps it's not you, it's us who is wired that way. Because you never loved me Sherlock. Not like that. Not the way I loved you. But that's okay, Sherlock. I understand. You love John. And I , Tom, I suppose. But did I tell you that one other thing?

The people who fall in love with you Sherlock, there's a bug, a defect in their wiring.The people who love you, Sherlock. They can never stop. Never fall out of love with you. They might love others, but they will never stop loving you. However little , however detached.

I could never stop loving you. I never will. I don't ever want to.

There are moments, that I will never stop loving. Like that Christmas, do you remember it? I always come back to it, Sherlock. Always.

°°°°

"I am sorry. Forgive me."

I look up, surprised. Of course I am. You never apologize, Sherlock. You never have. Have I broken through, Sherlock? All those barriers, that facade of never feeling, have I seen through it? But then it strikes me. It isn't me. It's never me, is it? With you, at least. It's John. Always been him, come to think of it. He's changed you, hasn't he? Can you feel now, Sherlock? And what do you feel? Do you love him? I suppose you do.

Is it wrong Sherlock, is it sinful to be jealous that I wasn't the one? The one to break this a barriers, the one to help you feel. The one you fall in love with.

Still, it doesn't stop the hurt from flowing in. It comes like a huge wave, hitting the edges of my heart harshly. Causing endless destruction. Look Sherlock, I have turned a poet for you.

But it really does pain Sherlock. It pains that you keep humiliating me, it pains that I still love you.

Perhaps, it is your way of caring, being candid. Or maybe you do not know the extent of damage your words do.

Now it feels as though I am making excuses for you.

I feel frustrated, with you, with myself, with everything.

"Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper."

And then you do something unexpected.

You kiss me on the cheek, ever so tenderly. I have thought about it,how your lips would feel. They aren't anything like I have imagined. In my imagination, they are soft like rose petals, and they taste like something, I never know what it is, but it's somehow you. And there, you kiss me like my lips are the only place where yours belong.

But they aren't, here in the real world, they aren't. Not mine to claim. But even so, when you kiss me on the cheek, I get that glimpse, a glimpse of all that could be. Your lips, they aren't soft and smooth. They are a little cracked and rough, with a firmness to them. Like every action they partake in, every word they utter, is final. But there is a surprising caution to the kiss. It's just as unsure as it is tender.

And this shouldn't be enough for anyone to forgive the other, it shouldn't be an adequate apology. But it's you Sherlock. With you everything is different. And so I do, Sherlock. I forgive you. Just like that.

"Ah."

It's the sound of a woman. A moan. A sensual, perfect moan. Not mine, then. It brings me back to reality, and that kiss seems to be a dream. A peek of what could have been, from an entire different universe. That seems nice, doesn't it? A universe where this could be possible? Us?

 

For a moment, I can see it. I can see us, together, holding hands, and me laughing at something you just said. Your mouth quirks into a smirk, full of the satisfaction that you made me laugh. I can see you looking at me, with an odd look in your eyes, and we're close, oh so close ,and you lean in slowly. I can feel your warm breath.

But that's it. That is were I stop Every time, Sherlock. Because I never know what it feels like to kiss you.

John says something, and you reply. I feel a little light Sherlock, like I'm floating. Is it because you kissed me, Sherlock? But then I look down and see that I have a glass of wine in my hand. Is it the drink? I don't really know, but I take a huge gulp of it. It's bitter , but it leaves me more lightheaded, and I look at you.

In the bright light of the room, one thought plays in my mind.

 

You look beautiful, Sherlock.

°°°°

I have always wondered whether it was possible. Whether We were possible. In another universe, perhaps? But it doesn't seem likely, Sherlock. Seeing you with John feels as though he is the only one you belong with. In any universe, in any form. John is a very lucky man, Sherlock, you should know that.  But I suppose he deserves it. You are at your happiest around him.

That should have made me jealous, shouldn't it? But strangely, it doesn't. Not anymore. Does that mean I have stopped loving you, Sherlock?

No .

I haven't stopped loving you Sherlock. I never will. It's just that it doesn't sting anymore. Not even today, seeing you with John, happier than you were ever before. I don't feel jealous anymore.

I suppose people never stop loving you. It's only the way they love you that changes.

Because sometimes I see you clearly. Without all the walls, all the facades, or tricks. That is what I love the most about you. It's easy to overlook your moments of arrogance, rudeness or eccentricity when you think about these. Eccentric you still are, but the arrogance and rudeness has mellowed down. You started to show people you care about them. You thank me often, smile at me, and you look at me like you understand me.

I suppose that is our bond. We understand each other like no one else does. We see the weakness, the pain, when it's hidden.

And I am thankful for that.

-----

Molly caught herself staring at Sherlock in time, and looked away. She felt happier somehow. Better.

It was a nice feeling. And then, again, Sherlock locked eyes with her. It was purely coincidental, and yet, when he stopped to look at her, it felt as though he had invaded her mind, and gone through her thoughts, seen her free herself from him, in a way.

And he smiled with understanding, not of unrequited love, but a way of caring for each other that had been accepted by both of them.

She smiled back widely, this time genuinely, thinking, you look beautiful, Sherlock .

 

Chapter Text

Everyone was quiet. They were seated, waiting. Lestrade was about to give his best man speech.

"Okay, so, um," Greg smiled at John and Sherlock, "first off, congrats on your wedding." Some people smiled at this, and the tension in the room slowly diffused.

 

"Ladies and gentlemen, when I first heard that these men," Lestrade pointed towards John and Sherlock, "had finally decided to come together, I was relieved." At this he received some chuckles, and he went on, "To see them like this after years of enduring the sexual tension between the two, we'd given up hope that they would ever see that the other idiot loved him too." At this people laughed properly, since they'd all gone through this feeling at some point around the two.

 

"And so today, I will be giving Sherlock a specimen, on how to not prepare a best man speech as if you're in love with the groom. " At this Sherlock reddened, and laughed embarrassed, and John looked at Shelrock with adoration in his eyes. Everyone who had been to the mentioned wedding couldn't have agreed more, and resounding laughter echoed in the room.

"John and Sherlock are people who I have known for a long time, now. They've, in the very best way, changed each other's lives. When I first met Sherlock, he was a junkie sociopath and a whiz at solving cases. Reckless, as he still is, but young had naive. John Watson, a retired army surgeon, with a psychosomatic limp, and as we later came to know, a taste for adventure. I saw him the first time at the 'Study in Pink' case, as John's blog says. And as he had begun to live with Sherlock, I saw him many times afterwards, and we became good friends. It was then that I noticed a change." Lestrade turned to John, and asked him, "Tell me John, have you . ever suddenly seen a machine grow a heart? Well this one did!"  This earned him a few laughs.

"I've known Sherlock for a very long time, John, and let me just say this, Sherlock Holmes has always been a great man, but you made him a good one." He smiled softly to the applause in the room. " And Sherlock, now, I think your brother would like to say a few words."

There was complete silence in the room, for no one had suspected that Mycroft Holmes would have any interest in sentiments, especially where marriage was concerned.

Standing up quietly from Lestrade's side, he first looked at the room, then. At Sherlock, and taking a deep breath, began, "Brother mine, as you know, I have always despised sentiment, and everything that comes with it. I have always considered it to be a chemical defect, a weakness." There was no sound except those of his even, carefully spoken words, and as he looked at Sherlock, who had grown stiff. Sherlock knew that Mycroft did not approve of sentiments.

"But alas, Sherlock, I was proven wrong, by none other than my very own brother."

"You, Sherlock, were a changed man, once you met John Watson. Very subtle changes at first, but more prominently as we moved on. You had, to my surprise, kept completely clear of drugs, and had begun to eat food, however occasionally. It had appeared to me, that this John Watson, your flat mate, was good influence after all. But then, Sherlock, I saw small slips. Slips of sentiment. Of course, I had known that you could always feel, and had discouraged you from doing so. For your own benefit, I always told you. And yet, sentiment never hindered you in becoming what you are.What you're today. And perhaps even aided you in becoming it. The best detective in the world, one of the wisest men I know, and a younger brother of whom I will always be proud of. Dr Watson, you have saved the life of my brother, many times, broken his heart too, but always put it back together. And as I understand, Sherlock too has saved and broken you in many ways.  but it is in the institution of marriage to fight and disagree with each other. And come back to each other every time. Perhaps, it is not as much as a weakness, as it is a strength, then." He smiled lightly, and looked at the couple. "It has been a true pleasure to watch your distracting, childish rivalry evolve in to a distracting, childish courtship, and now into what I'm sure will be a distracting, childish marriage."

For a moment there was silence, and then laughter and tears and applause. Mrs Hudson clapped the loudest, saying that the Holmes always gave the best speeches to which everyone laughed.

 

Lestrade gave him an appreciative pat on the back, and his gaze fixed on Sherlock, who was looking right back at him. Stepping away from the crowd, they stood silently facing each other for a moment. Then, "Mycroft."

"Sherlock."

"That, was... Good."

"It was? Good to know."

And then Sherlock took a deep breath, and asked, "Do you, too? Sometimes?"

"Sentiment? Sometimes. A rarity, but not an impossibility."

"Mycroft, why are we so different than the- others?"

Mycroft looked deep into his brother's eyes, "Because we chose to be."

Sherlock nodded his head.

"Mycroft?"

"Yes?"

"Don't have too much cake" a smirk had begun to etch itself onto Sherlock's features, "Don't want you to go wasting all those weeks of dieting, do we?"

At this Mycroft sneered at his younger brother, and looked away. They stood for a few moments in silence.

 

Then, as if at a mutual understanding, they leaned their heads forward in recognition, and went back to their own places. And perhaps they'd come closer to the mystery they had made themselves into.

 

At the table, when Sherlock returned, a rose the colour of blood, passion, a deep red that was almost a black, and yet not quite that, lay, with a card attached to it.

W.

"John, " Sherlock nudged his husband, "Who left the rose on the table?"

"Oh, the one with the 'W'? A lady, your relative, she said, the one who recently became a widow? That's what she told me to tell you. That you'd remember who she was. A bit odd, if you ask me, telling me to say that to you. Anyway, she looked very happy that we had finally gotten married."

"Oh," he smiled at John, "Right. Yes, I do remember who she is. My cousin twice removed on my father's side, Mrs Norton."

And then a moan emitted from his phone. The people near him stopped for a moment, unable to figure out the source of the sound, and turned away again.

It of course, caught John's attention immediately. "The Woman again? I didn't know she still texted you."

"Oh, she doesn't. But this is probably to wish us a happily married life, and provably an invite to a session to teach me how to master action in bed."

John snorted at this, and settling a hand on his waist, pulled him gently saying, "Well, you don't really need them, though I daresay you could use some practice."

"So, when will you began teaching me, sir." Sherlock's voice blatantly emphasized on the innuendo.

"I think we've already begun!"

They laughed, and Sherlock took out his phone.

He read the text, which looked  a little obscure, but couldn't have been simpler.

 

No matter how hard you try, a disguise is always a self portrait.