21st, August 2020
“Oh sh---eets and blankets!!!” John’s eyes bugged out to the size of pound coins as he shifted Rosie from his right hip to his left. He quickly bent forward to set her tiny feet on the floor to the entrance to their flat. The keys to the main door fell from John’s hand to the floor.
“Daddy?” Rosie questioned, raising her head to search her father’s face. Her lower lip then protruded; worry crossing her three-year-old brow.
“John? Are you all right?” If anyone was more worried about John’s outburst, it was Sherlock Holmes. He was right behind John and almost stepped on his heels due to John’s sudden and unexpected stop at their front door. Rosie stood in front of her father and godfather in confusion; her head moving side to side waiting for someone to clear up the situation for her before she began to get upset.
“I’m fine, you two. Just tweaked my shoulder a bit on the cargo exchange there.” He bent his neck and winked at his little girl. “I’ll be just fine in a mo’, love. Just need a little ice!”
“John? Are you sure you’re okay?” Sherlock took a step forward and placed his left hand between the wings of John’s shoulder blades.
Ever since his birthday over two years ago, they’d become more tactile; less inclined to refrain from touching the other with comforting gestures. Crying against the chest of your best friend while he gently held you tends to thaw the self-imposed ice that froze your past emotions.
“Could you grab the keys and give them to Sherlock for me, sweetheart?” John’s breathing was laboured and his right hand was palmed against the door.
Rosie bent awkwardly to reach for the dropped keys and got on her tiptoes to hand them to Sherlock.
“Do you need help, John?”
John turned to face him and whispered so only the grownups could hear, “I’m going to need your help once we get her settled inside. I am currently unable to move my left shoulder.”
Sherlock’s brows raised almost to his hairline.
“I think it’s partially dislocated, so I’m going to need your help getting it back in place.”
Sherlock’s brows disappeared behind his fringe.
“It’ll be quick. Just a fast pull on my arm and I’ll be raring to go.”
“I don’t think ‘raring’ is quite the word you’re looking for, John.”
“You are absolutely correct, as always. Just trying to keep things light so the little Miss down there doesn’t start to get upset. I think we can both agree on that, yeah?”
WIth a fake-sounding perk to his voice, Sherlock said; “Rosamund, thank you for the keys.” He quickly flipped through the congested ring of keys until he found the one he needed. He stepped in front of John and guided Rosie into the flat.”
“Give me your coat, Watson. I’ll hang it for you tonight.” He heard John’s grateful sigh behind him.
“Rose? Why don’t you go play in our room for a bit while Sherlock and I get supper ready, hmmm?” John had his soldier face on. Sherlock was more worried than he had been two minutes ago.
“We’ll call you when it’s ready, Rosamund.”
“Oookaay!” she sing-songed her way up the stairs to hers and John’s bedroom. John’s outburst already forgotten.
Once the coast was clear, Sherlock raced to John’s side. “How may I help?” Despite his anxiety about the situation, his enthusiasm was surprising.
John smiled up at him and saw the concern, worry, and fear slide across his best friend’s face. Every time he saw Sherlock’s emotions so clearly written there, John is reminded how far both of them have come.
“Could you help me with - - this?” He had his right arm out of his coat sleeve, but a sheen of sweat had covered his forehead as he tried to wiggle his left out of the coat’s confines.
“Oh. Yes. Yes! I can do that!”
John kept his left arm close to his side, and Sherlock gently tugged until he was left holding John’s coat.
“Christ. Thank you for that.” John gave the best version of a smile that he had available in his current state. “Could you meet me in the bathroom? I’d like to do this behind another door, in case I make too much noise when you help me reset my shoulder. Don’t want to scare the wee one upstairs.
Sherlock went pale. John noticed.
“This is going to take less than five seconds, Sherlock. A quick yank, and a scream and then I’ll need an ice pack. I’ll be fine by tomorrow morning.” Sherlock didn’t seem convinced.
“I’ll talk you through it, but we should probably start dinner before we head back there, okay?” John’s beseeching tone was unmistakable.
“Yes. All right. Let me go into the kitchen and find something to put in the micro while we’re taking care of you. I’ll meet you back there in a few minutes.”
John’s face curled into a smirk. ‘While we’re taking care of you.' The man had zero clue at all how caring and nurturing he could be. John would do his best not to tell him since that could be misconstrued as teasing. John loved every moment of Sherlock’s attention. He just wished it was for a better occasion than his current predicament.
“Sure, Sherlock. I’ll meet you in the bathroom.” John held his left elbow in the palm of his right hand as he slowly made his way down the hall. He listened to Sherlock mucking about the freezer as he walked.
Sherlock settled on a frozen lasagne. He walked through the bathroom door to find John sitting on the toilet seat lid, cradling his left elbow, his left temple against the cool tile wall. Sherlock closed the door behind him.
“I need you to tell me what to do. I don’t want to make your condition worse.”
John rolled up the sleeve of his jumper and he pushed his left arm a bit over his chest, palm facing down. “I need you to grab my wrist and pull it towards the right side of my body. It feels like it’s only a partial dislocation.”
“If it was a full dislocation, I’d be in A&E right now, not sitting on the toilet seat in our loo.”
'Our loo.' Sherlock was temporarily struck dumb by the fact that John Watson and his daughter, were living with him at Baker Street. The flat he once shared alone with John. They were (a bit of) a family, Sherlock supposed. They were perfect enough for Sherlock.
Sherlock reached tentatively for John’s wrist, his long fingers wrapping loosely around the knobby bones there. John returned the gesture but had a tighter grip around Sherlock’s right wrist. “You need to really have a good hold of me here, Sherlock. This isn’t a halfway type of thing.”
Sherlock clamped his fingers around John’s wrist but took a few seconds to take John’s pulse as they stood there. Elevated. A bit more sweat shone on John’s forehead. A weariness to his face. His right shoulder pressed back, approximately twenty degrees behind his spine. Unconsciously trying to back away. It’s a good thing they’re in the bathroom, then.
“I’m going to sit here and you’re going to pretend to forcefully pull me from the seat. I’m not going to let you, and that should pop my shoulder back to where it’s supposed to be.”
Sherlock shook his head, unconvinced. “You’re going to hurt me Sherlock, but I need you to. I trust you, Sherlock. I need you right now. Can you do this for me?”
WIth a bit more conviction, Sherlock nodded. ‘John needs me. He just told me so.’ Sherlock copied the military stance he’d seen John portray over the ten years they’d known each other; straightened his back, and his own resolve in the process.
“On the count of three, yank hard for me?”
“All right. I’ll count it down, you just sit there.”
“Had no other immediate plans.”
At least John was able to joke.
“All right. Here we go, then. Three. Two.” Sherlock looked down at John’s scrunched up face.
A sickening pop.
“Christ fucking shit!!!!!!” Sherlock immediately dropped John’s wrist and John tipped forward, his forehead against Sherlock’s belly.
“Bloody buggering fuck!!!” His right hand was curled in a tight fist, his knuckles turning white. But they weren’t nearly as pale as his face.
“What should I do?” Sherlock tried not to panic.
“Just. Just stay where you are. If you move, I’ll tip right off the edge of this seat and faceplant on the floor. Just stay here a minute with me, okay?” John unclenched his right hand and gripped a hold of Sherlock’s hip, pulling Sherlock’s body closer to his own. Sherlock could feel John’s hot, laboured breaths ghosting across his dress shirt. John rested his left arm across his own knees and pressed his left temple against Sherlock’s soft shirt. Without even thinking, Sherlock raised his right hand and put his fingers in John’s hair. John released a stuttered breath at the calming contact and tried to regain control of his breathing. Fainting would not help matters in the least.
“Are you all right, John? Sherlock whispered a few minutes later; his hand still in John’s hair, but he dared not move it. But the surprising softness of John’s hair was tempting him to do just that.
“I’m fine. Just needed to catch my breath there a minute before I stand up. Don’t need to get wobbly and swoon like a Disney princess.”
“Rosamund would most likely just tell you to get up and get on. She seems to like the newer princesses; those who seem to take no shit. Moana, Merida, Mulan…”
“I don’t think there’s another with an ‘M’ as their first initial if that’s why you’re pausing.”
Sherlock stops and backs up a bit and looks down at John. A weak smile, but it reaches his eyes.
“Not exactly a princess, at least not in my time with her, but I get your meaning.”
“She’s going to be tough and strong and smart, just like her parents.”
“And if a little bit of you should happen to rub off on her, I’d be all the happier. Although, having two geniuses in the house for the rest of my life sounds a bit daunting at the present moment.”
Sherlock’s expression turned comic. He began to blink. The type of blinking he does when he’s well and truly out of his depth.
“Sherlock? Are you okay? Did I break you again?” A weak chuckle.
John just watched him blink. He released Sherlock’s hip and leaned against the back of the toilet. He went on like that for close to thirty seconds. With a final, pronounced blink, he came back to himself.
“Welcome back. Where’d you go? Lost you for a bit.”
“I. Don’t know. Don’t know what to say.”
“I don’t know how to reply.”
“Did I ask you a question?”
“No. You just said you would have two geniuses in the house for the rest of your life.”
“And? Why are you so confused by that?”
“You want me to live with you for the rest of your life? You want me to be around Rosamund for her rearing?”
John’s head tilted. “Of course. Of course, I want you around. For her and for me!”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“That seems pretty obvious at the moment.” Sherlock just continued to look befuddled. John suddenly felt like an enormous twat.
“I think I should be the one to say something then: I’m sorry that this was in doubt for you until a minute ago. I thought you knew. I thought you knew how important you are to both of us. You’ve been helping me raise her for the last two years; you let us move back into this flat with you. You’ve helped me so much, I couldn’t even be able to quantify it. Your support has been off-the-charts incalculable. We would be lost without you. I would be lost without you. In fact, I have been lost without you once before, and I’d rather not relive that again.” John took a breath, and it appeared that Sherlock had yet to take one of his own since John began to speak.
“I am very sorry that you weren’t sure of your place in this family, Sherlock. I will do better for you. For us.”
“Of course, family! Of course, us. You and me. You and Rosie and me. We’re a team, the three of us. A blogging doctor, a mad genius detective and a three-year-old that manages to repeat every bad word she hears.”
“That was rather quick-thinking on your part, John. At the front door.”
“Oh! You mean my rather odd rephrasing of the word ‘shit’? It was either that or hear her repeat it all evening.”
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” came a small voice from the other side of the door.
Sherlock stepped back and helped John off the toilet seat and to his feet. “You are not to say that word, Rosamund!” Sherlock exclaimed over his shoulder towards the door.
“SHIT!” she exclaimed with spite. John was helpless to stifle the laugh that roared it’s way past his mouth.
“You cannot laugh! That will only encourage her!”
“She can’t see me laughing in here, Sherlock!”
“BUT SHE CAN HEAR YOU!”
John lost it. Uncontrolled laughter, as Sherlock just shook his head in mock disbelief.
On an inhale, John said, “I think dinner might be ready soon. Would you mind feeding her? I'd like to lie down for a bit with an ice pack. Get the swelling down before bed.” They walked together to the bathroom door and Sherlock pushed him back inside.
“Where are you going?”
“I just told you. I’m going to lie down for a bit, upstairs so she doesn't see me hurting like this.”
“Just go into my room. Mrs. Hudson changed my bedding three days ago, and I’ve only laid on it once. Basically clean sheets. No sense on you going upstairs when there’s a perfectly good bed right there.” Sherlock pointedly tilted his head towards the door leading to his bedroom from the bathroom.
“That’s very kind of you.”
“I’ve been very kind this evening, or so I’ve been led to believe.”
“You’re always kind, Sherlock.” That elicited a quizzical look from Sherlock.
“Thank you. For everything.”
“No problem. I. I’ll go serve up dinner for Watson and bring you an ice pack. Go settle yourself and I’ll be there in a minute.” With that, Sherlock hurled himself through the door and saw Rosie standing there looking up at him.
“Hello, Princess Rosamund. How would you like a bit of lasagne and some applesauce?” He reached down and scooped her up, and pressed his nose to her silky, blond hair. She went soft in his arms, and let him carry her to the kitchen, and a yawn escaped her mouth.
John walked over and sat down on Sherlock’s bed and gently pulled off his jumper and flung it onto a nearby chair.
‘He said it was okay, so, here we go, then.’
He toed off his shoes and pushed them under the bed. He laid himself down gingerly, onto his right side. He felt around for the corner of the sheet and duvet and pulled them to his chest. He could hear Sherlock and Rosie in the kitchen, laughing and carrying on. John smiled. Would there ever be a day when he wasn’t surprised by how much Sherlock Holmes loved Rosamund Mary Watson?
He heard Sherlock walking briskly towards the bedroom.
“John? Sorry it took me so long. Rosie was pretty excited about the lasagne and I had to get her situated in the kitchen before I could bring you the ice pack you needed.” Sherlock came to John’s side and without hesitation, placed the ice pack on John’s shoulder.
“Should you maybe lie on your back? You won’t be able to hold this on yourself if you fall asleep.”
“I don’t plan on falling asleep.”
“John. You’re lying down. You’re going to fall asleep.”
“Will not.” John yawned.
“Already are. Here.” Sherlock helped situate John onto his back and tucked a pillow to his shoulder to hold the cold pack in place. “There. You can fall asleep all you like. That pillow will hold it in place for you.”
“Not gonna sleep, S’lock.” John slurred in spite of himself.
“Must we argue this? I have a child in the kitchen to tend to. Do I also need to parent her father?”
“No need for thanks. I’m happy to do it.” And he really was. Sherlock turned towards the door. He could only imagine what Rosie got up to in the three minutes he wasn’t in the kitchen with her.
“Thanks. Love you…” John’s voice trailed to an exhaled breath as he drifted to sleep.
At John’s words, Sherlock’s procession to the door halted.
While Rosie ate, and managed to actually get most of her food in her mouth, Sherlock helped himself to a slice of lasagne and a few covertly obtained forkfuls of her applesauce. He did the washing up and then arranged a plate for John and reheated a bit of leftover mixed vegetables for him.
Sherlock settled Rosie on the sofa and started a film for her. He wanted to check on John and give him his dinner plate.
“If you need anything, Rosamund, I’ll be down the hallway looking in on your father.” She nodded but didn’t seem to really hear what he said. He figured he had about fifteen minutes before she was seeking him out. She usually wanted company while she watched telly.
He walked through the kitchen and realised he should grab a glass and brought that and the plate with him down the hall. Halfway down the hall, he realised that John would need a new ice pack, so he turned around and made his way back to the kitchen and grabbed the spare one from the freezer door. He juggled all three items as he made his way back to his bedroom. He pushed the door forward with his foot and John was still on his back, a grimace on his face, despite being asleep. He walked into the room quietly and set the plate and fork on the night table beside John’s head. John stirred at the noise. As a former soldier, John slept poorly at the worst of times; always on the listen for the slightest noise; ready for action. Since becoming a parent, those senses were on an even higher alert.
“It’s all right, John. I wanted to check on you and see if you wanted something to eat.” He shuffled his feet as John blinked up at him.
“Just give me a sec, ‘k?” John stretched under the covers. Sherlock (again) tumbled to the fact that John was lying in his bed.
Sherlock stood there stupidly, as John tried to wake himself properly. Now was as good a time as any to fill that glass.
“I’ll go get you some water. Be right back.”
He shuffled off to the bathroom to fill the glass for John. Upon his return to the bedroom, John was trying to get himself to a sitting position but was failing miserably. He was biting his lower lip, appearing to want to keep the frustration and pain from his face. He should’ve known better than to try to fool someone who was basically a lie detector in human form.
“John! Stop that! I’m right here, for God’s sake!” He placed the glass forcefully on the night table, and a bit of water sloshed on the table as a result. He got John to sitting and propped him up by shoving most of his pillows behind John’s back.
“Is Rosie all right, Sherlock?”
“She was, last time I saw her. She was engrossed in that Disney movie about the ice sisters.”
“I suppose.” Sherlock watched John as he pulled the plate of food to his lap. He looked back and forth at the plate, and the fork he held in his right hand. He sighed.
“I don’t suppose you’d be able to go get me a spoon and a bowl, would you?” John’s face was filled with apprehension.
“Why would I want to do that? If Rosamund sees me, she’ll forget I wasn’t in the room with her all along and drag me to the couch to watch the rest of her film.”
“Because. I don’t think I’m going to be able to eat these vegetables without wearing them, seeing as I can’t use my other hand to push them onto the fork.” He glared at his left arm and crinkled his nose at its lack of competence.
Sherlock kept his tone light. Intentionally. Offering John help was usually akin to poking a bear. “I could help you with that if you’d like.”
“I don’t need you to feed me, Sherlock.” John’s lips became a straight line. Sort of like the emoji he sends to Sherlock when he disapproves of one of Sherlock’s life choices.
“I’ve found I quite enjoy feeding Watsons. I've received plenty of practice for over two years or so with Rosamund. I think I might be able to help her ailing father for a few minutes.”
“You’re serious?” An eyebrow raise.
“Of course. I wouldn’t offer if I wasn’t serious.” Sherlock was a photographic example of the word smug.
“That’s true. I’ve seen enough evidence of that.”
“I should hope so. I wouldn’t want to say for sure since you’re not always the most observant person I’ve ever met.”
“You know I feel like shit, right? I don’t need the conversation gymnastics right now.”
“I know that. You’re the one arguing the point. I offered to assist you. Instead of having your self-worth debate internally, you’ve chosen to voice it out loud.”
“Fine. You can help me with the vegetables first. I can manage the lasagne with one hand. I think I can get through all the noodles without a knife.”
“Finally.” Sherlock rolled his eyes.
John rolled his even higher in response. “Shut up and help me. I’m starving here.”
Sherlock waited for John to slide over a bit so Sherlock’s bum had room by his side.
“Here comes the aeroplane!!!” Sherlock had the audacity to make engine noises as he approached John’s open mouth, the fork poised at his open mouth.
John closed his mouth. “Fucking Christ.”
“I had to. Literally. Now I can say I’ve said that to both Watsons.” Sherlock tried so hard not to laugh.
“I hate you so much.”
“You really don’t.” He laughed anyway.
“If you tell anyone about this, I will end you.”
“You really won’t.”
John reopened his mouth, and it was then filled with a fork full of peas, carrots, and corn. As John chewed, between bites, Sherlock got to work on cutting up the lasagne. John didn’t notice until the yellow, green, and orange view changed to layered noodles.
“You weren’t paying attention, so I figured I’d help you out a bit.”
“Haven’t you done enough?”
“I don’t think so.” John thought Sherlock looked confused. He sort of liked that, since it was such a rare occurrence.
“You’re being very nice right now. I could get used to it.” An extremely soft smile passed over John’s face, and it stayed there for the surprising response.
“I hope you do.” Sherlock set down the fork after John’s last bite and placed the plate on the night table. They locked eyes, their gaze becoming loaded as the seconds ticked by.
Must. Break. Brimming. Silence.
“Sherlock? I think I’ve got a bit of sauce or something on my chin. Could you get me a servi…?
Before he could even finish asking for the serviette, Sherlock was reaching forward with his right hand, his thumb grazing across the drop of sauce clinging to John’s 5 o'clock shadowed chin.
It was John’s turn to blink. When Sherlock then decided to lick his sauce covered thumb, John shook his head like trying to clear an Etch A Sketch.
“What was that?”
“I didn’t want the sauce to go to waste. For frozen lasagne, I’m still surprised it tastes as good as it does. A serviette didn’t deserve that sauce.”
“And you did?”
“Of course. I cooked it, fed you and your daughter. That serviette did nothing to reap such a reward.”
A laugh escaped John without permission. The shaking of his head was now due to Sherlock’s obvious sweetness. But, the laughter came with a price.
“Oh shit! That still fucking hurts.”
“Speaking of, I also brought the other ice pack with me. Let’s get you back down here and settled and I’ll swap out the packs.” The pain sapped all the fight out of John. He let Sherlock help him back down to his back, and he tucked the new ice pack around John’s shoulder. This one was a bit smaller than the other.
“I could stay awhile; hold this thing there until it melts. Let you get some more sleep.”
John’s face relaxed more than he’d wanted it to. A soft smile that reached his eyes formed unbidden.
“If you’ve got an experiment on or, if you wanted to watch Rosie’s film in the sitting room, I should be fine.”
“Nonsense. I will check on her, see how she’s doing, and come right back.”
As if on cue, the door to Sherlock’s bedroom opened. Fifteen minutes must’ve passed by already.
“Da?” She looked around the room for her father.
“Right here, darling. What’s up?” John leant to his right side to face her and forced a smile for her.
“You ‘k, Da?
“Are you, Rose?
“I come up der wiv you?”
“Of course, love!”
Sherlock watched Rosie climb onto his bed and settle in the curve of her father’s right arm as John settled, again on his back. The unbelievably domestic scene playing out in his bedroom made him dizzy in a way he didn’t understand. So, he panicked and made for the door.
“Hey! Wait! She’s already in here. It sounds like smarty pants here turned off the DVD player by herself. Come back and have a kip with us!” John prayed Sherlock couldn’t tell he was holding his breath.
Sherlock turned slowly, his arms to his sides. John’s face looked hopeful. Hopeful? That couldn’t be right. His eyes were certainly playing tricks on him.
“Get over here! I need a nurse to help me with this ice pack! It keeps flopping off my shoulder. And now I have this little monkey here, so I can’t hold it in place myself!” He softly tickled Rosie’s side as she settled in beside him. She tucked her head against his chest and was quickly ensconced in John’s half embrace. Sherlock felt a pang at that visual. Even though he had no reason for feeling it.
Sherlock walked, in spite of himself, to the far side of the bed. He laid next to John on his right side and brought up his left hand to securely hold the ice pack to John’s shoulder. He tucked his chest behind John’s neck, so he was able to curl himself around him. He rested his right temple on his right fist on his folded arm and he held the ice pack in place. He watched the rise and fall of John’s back as John fell asleep.
He left himself relax as well, his eyes quickly growing heavy; his breathing falling in alongside John’s cadence. A full belly. A full heart. His eyes snapped open at this conclusion.
Sherlock hadn’t known he wanted to be a part of a family until he already was.
They woke two hours later, a bit after nine. Rosie was snoring softly, and it seemed Sherlock was as well. John woke sandwiched between his little girl and his best friend. The proximity of his best friend was unexpected, but he laid there and thought about the situation for a few seconds. He hadn’t felt this safe in a very long time. Sherlock was draped along his back, his left hand still cupped around his shoulder, still holding the now warm ice pack. John tilted his head back and saw Sherlock’s right hand was touching his hair. His fingers were splayed across John’s forehead. He chuckled as quietly as his feelings would let him. He felt his hair rub against Sherlock’s face.
“Achoo!” John’s hair tickled Sherlock’s nose into a sneeze and woke him from his light doze.
“Hello, Sherlock.” John felt so much love for him at that moment, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to conceal it.
“John. Hello. Oh. Ew.” John felt Sherlock’s large hand drag across his hair. “Apologies. I appear to have unintentionally sprayed nasal mucus into your hair.”
“Nasal mucus! HA! Couldn't you just say ‘snot’?” John’s body was shaking the bed, his laugher uncontrolled.
“I could have, but that word is a bit vulgar.”
“Oh! Hello, love. Sorry I woke you! Would you like to go up to bed now?”
All Rosie could manage was a soft nod as she pressed her head further against her father’s chest.
“All right, my little flower, let’s get you upstairs and into your own bed.” Instantly awake, Sherlock rose to help John sit up.
“I think I can take her up. Just a few steps. Just gotta make sure I get the rails on her bed in place, though. I’ll holler down if I need you.”
“Please do.” Sherlock’s eyes met his, then drifted down towards the duvet.
John’s breath caught. Sherlock’s behaviour has been doing that to him quite a lot of late.
They shifted her around a bit until she was snug in the curve of John’s right elbow. He slowly took to the stairs and the duo made it to the top safely while Sherlock sat on his bed and waited to hear the tell-tale sounds of floorboards creaking overhead. He released a loaded sigh when he heard the first wooded squeak.
He left the bed and walked into the bathroom to dig around in John’s medical supplies. After a few moments of frantic searching, he clapped a hand on the mesh sling they had for emergencies such as this. He went to the bathroom cabinet and found a tube of ibuprofen gel and walked to the sitting room, sat on the couch, and waited for John to come back downstairs.
After less than five minutes: “You’re really taking this helping stuff seriously, aren’t you?” John was grinning at the sling and ibuprofen gel on the coffee table in front of Sherlock’s knees.
“I always mean what I say. I’m here to help.”
“Not much you can do right now.”
“I see at least two things right here.” John pretended not to know the implications of Sherlock’s statement.
“You’ve been wonderful tonight. For me and for Rosie. If you have something else you’d rather be doing, I can take care of that on my own. Maybe watch a little telly before going to bed properly.”
“I told you it was all right, John. You don’t have to keep thanking me. I’m here because I want to be. If I didn’t, I’d already be in the kitchen getting up to something mischievous. I do have a lab in there, you know.” Sherlock seemed a little put out.
“I just hate to be keeping you from something. Most nights, you have something on. This was sort of an emergency tonight. You’ve really stepped up, handled everything great. This could be one of the more serious emergencies we’ve faced.”
“I distinctly remember removing you from a fire with my bare hands.”
“You were wearing gloves.”
“Wasn’t there a bomb vest?”
“All you did was take it off of me and throw it not all that far away from me. Then you wanted to shoot it, therefore killing me.”
“And myself as well.”
“I thought you were listing times I was in peril and you did things to save me.”
“Well, there was that one time when I was on a roof and…”
“Oh, my God. If you even mention that right now, we’ll both be needing A&E!”
“For the last time, and not just for tonight, I hope. You moved in here with your daughter so we could hope to achieve a semblance of what we had before I fell. You are here. Rosie is here. I am here. I want to be. I want to help you. And Rosie if she needs me. Now come over here and sit and I’ll help you get your arm out of your sleeve so we can get this Icy Hot on you.”
John was dumbfounded. He gave Sherlock a tight nod and sat down next to him on the sofa, and then turned to face him. They wriggled John out of his jumper and then his vest. John made a move for the gel and Sherlock exclaimed:
“Give it to me! Christ! How are you supposed to turn the cap off with one hand?” John begrudgingly handed the tube to Sherlock. He heard the click of the cap, heard the (somewhat funny) squirting sound, and then Sherlock’s right hand was on his shoulder, massaging the gel into his skin. A moan escaped John’s mouth. Then John bit his bottom lip and cringed.
“Oh. I’m sorry, Sherlock. That just really feels nice.” Against his better judgement, John’s neck went limp and his head tipped forward until his chin met the base of his neck. Sherlock decided to massage John’s other shoulder at the same time, sans gel. The top of John’s head tickled Sherlock’s chin. Sherlock spoke into his hair:
“I’m a bit concerned at the amount of swelling I’m seeing here, John. Especially since we’ve iced the injury twice since it occurred. I think you might have underestimated the severity of your injury.”
“I didn’t want to say before, but I’ve felt both popping from the ligaments, and bones scraping in the joint. I think this might be really serious, Sherlock. If I’m not feeling better in a few days, I’m going to see an Orthopaedic surgeon. The ligaments around the joint feel very loose to me.”
“I could go with you tomorrow? I'm sure Mycroft could get you in to see someone.”
“We’ll see how I’m doing in the morning, yeah? Don’t want to make this into something it’s not and start worrying about it without having all the data.”
“You sound a bit like me.”
“Just because you’re an arrogant git doesn’t mean you’re not right almost all the time. You’ve rubbed off a bit.”
“That could be arranged.”
John’s head sprung up as though it were attached to a string and he was a puppet.
Sherlock hadn’t meant to actually verbalise that.
“I mean. I. I could rub some more gel into your shoulder if you think you need more. You’re the doctor. I. I defer to you.” Eye contact was literally impossible for Sherlock at that moment. The blush that spread across his neck and face closely resembled an advancing fire in a forest.
“No. Don’t do that. Look at me, please.” John sat back a bit to look at Sherlock’s face. John lifted Sherlock’s chin and waited until their gaze connected.
“Did you mean what you just said? Do you mean that?”
Sherlock was only able to nod.
“Do me a favour from here on, yeah? Do not be ashamed for saying what you want. Don’t cut into yourself like that. I can’t bear to see you do that anymore.”
“Are you saying that is something you’d be interested in pursuing with me?”
“I think I am.”
“I think I’ve always wanted that with you. But you’ve always tried to say you weren’t like that; you didn’t do things like that. You putting me off didn’t really work, you know. Just because you turned the extinguisher on me doesn’t mean you got all the fire, Sherlock. I’ve been smouldering for you for a very long time. I’ve been interested in you, in that way, since I first saw you. I admit, I didn’t make my feelings for you very clear. In fact, I made them quite the opposite of what I’m trying to do right now.”
Sherlock swallowed hard, but he remained silent. The touch of John’s fingers warming his chin; grounding him in that moment. Their moment.
John’s hand slid to Sherlock’s cheek, his thumb sliding back and forth across Sherlock’s chin.
“I know I’ve said, many times, that I’m not gay. And I stand by that. I do think I could be bisexual. I’ve never really felt for another man the way I feel for you. There were a few crushes in my younger days, but you? My eyes found you in that lab and I knew I had just met someone who was going to be one of the most important people I was ever going to meet. You had me at ‘Afghanistan or Iraq?’ You had me at ‘Goodbye, John.’ You had me at ‘Forgive me for all the hurt that I caused you.’ You had me as soon as we met. You had me when I thought you were dead. You had me the moment I saw you at that restaurant. You had me while I was married. You had me when I became a widower. You have me now. If I haven’t made you wait too long.”
Much to his chagrin, Sherlock gasped. It was now his turn to be taken care of.
“Oh, Sherlock!” John pulled Sherlock to his chest and put his right arm around him. He gently swayed them back and forth for a few minutes as Sherlock tried to breathe.
“It’s all right, now. We’ve said the words. The hardest part is over now. We’re on the other side of our walls. I’ve got you. You’ve always had me.” Sherlock’s gasp was watery this time.
“It’s okay, Sherlock! Shhhhh now. We’re okay.” John kissed the top of Sherlock’s head and inhaled the smell of his hair.
“I’m sorry, John.”
“Whatever for? This night could not have gone any better, despite my shoulder.”
“I’ve gotten more nasal mucus on you. This time on your collarbone.”
A laugh of relief. “You git! Let me see you!” Beautiful, damp, greenish eyes. But there was a smile behind them now. John’s hand cradled Sherlock’s face, his thumb passing over and wiping away the tears that were trailing down his cheek.
“Thank you for being brave. I am a former soldier, but you’ve always been the braver of the two of us. Tonight just reinforced it.”
“I think we were both pretty brave tonight, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yeah. I do.” John kissed Sherlock’s forehead.
“Was that all right?”
“You never have to ask permission to do that. Ever.”
“Good to know.” John bestowed a kiss to the tip of his nose; his chin. He dragged his thumb over Sherlock’s lips and cocked an eyebrow.
“I did just say you didn’t have to ask permission, did I not?”
John silenced the daft plonker with a soft kiss to his lips.
22nd, August 2020
They sat on the sofa together for over an hour, just holding each other and pressing soft kisses to nearby skin. Sherlock offered John his bed to sleep in for the night. John said he only would if Sherlock would be joining him. After absolutely zero convincing from John, they walked down the hallway together and closed the door behind them.
They woke up at almost the same time, a bit after six. John on his right side again; Sherlock pressed tightly behind him. He pressed gentle kisses to the sore shoulder as they rose through their sleepy fogs. John held Sherlock’s left arm tight to his own belly. John spoke first, in spite of hating to disturb their peaceful cocoon:
"Do you think we needed what happened last night to help us along?" Sherlock’s left arm was directly underneath his own, like his own personal support aide. John’s left thumb danced across Sherlock’s wrist as they spoke.
"How do you mean?" Sherlock pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the swollen joint.
"When emergencies happen, those situations tend to be accompanied by strong emotional reactions. I think what happened last night might have been something like that. I saw it a lot in the army. When a tough situation is navigated, those involved tend to become closer almost immediately. When adrenaline runs high, like it did last night, that sometimes translates to unintended emotional displays. Or the revealing of emotions that were repressed. Believe me, I'm not complaining. Look at where we are now."
Where they were was in each other's arms, in Sherlock's bed, praying for a few more minutes before Rosie awoke. The amount of time that had passed, (a decade) so much time spent apart, (a fall, a marriage, a falling-out, misplaced blame after a death that was going to come, a debt that would have come due at some point in Mary’s life) added to all of the walls and obstacles of their own constructing. They both seemed to realise how wonderful it truly was that they were there in that moment, together.
“Are you feeling any better this morning?”
“To be honest, not at all. I was really hoping for the best, but I guess I’ll have to just be satisfied with the other thing that happened last night.”
Sherlock took a soft bite at John’s shoulder.
“Oi! I don’t need a rabies shot, too!”
Sherlock scrabbled out of bed and sprinted around the foot of it, and laid back down facing John. He pulled the covers back over them and insinuated himself in John’s space. John didn’t mind one bit. He slowly lifted his left arm and brought it to Sherlock’s waist and pulled him closer. They pressed their foreheads into the spaces where necks met shoulders and laid there together, breathing each other in and savouring their well-deserved repose. They laid there, dozing, until a bit after seven when there was a soft knock at the door. She was so polite.
“S’erlock? Da? Where’s Da?”
“Oh no! This is the first time in her big-girl bed that she’s woken up without me in the room!” John loudly whispered against Sherlock's neck.
“There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.” Sherlock breathed against John’s stubbled chin.
“Come in, Rosamund! Your daddy is in here with me!”
It took her a few tries, but she was able to turn the doorknob and enter the room.
“Daddy? What you doin’ wif S’erlock?”
“We had a sleepover together, love! Come on over here and join us!” Rosie toddled over to the bed and Sherlock leaned over the side to help her up. She crawled between them and sat down. She bestowed a kiss on each of their foreheads and put her hands in their hair.
“I don’t wanna sweep an’more. Wake up! Time for bweakfass!”
The two adults in the bed didn’t like her declaration so Sherlock grabbed her and began tickling her in earnest. John sat up so he could utilise his good arm and joined in. After a lengthy bout of hysterical laughter, (from all three participants) and a few minutes to collectively catch their breath, Sherlock picked Rosie up from the bed and they made their way to the kitchen to make breakfast.
John took care of the toast and the boiling of the kettle and Sherlock made the bangers and eggs. (He even cut up John’s food for him. John let him without making a fuss.) While Sherlock did the washing up, Rosie sat with her father on the sofa while he called to make an appointment to see the next available orthopaedic surgeon. Rosie was able to see John favouring his left arm.
“Waz wong, daddy? You got a owie?” Rosie, very delicately, reached out a chubby hand and touched her father’s shoulder.
“Yes, love, I do. I’m going to see a doctor later today and she’s going to fix me up!”
“Dats good!” She stood up unexpectedly and leant forward to press a kiss to the injured appendage. John managed to get his right arm around her and give her a squeeze and a tickle.
“You are the sweetest girl I’ve ever known, my darling blossom!” John stared down at the bit of wonder on his lap. She was the only gift that Mary gave to him. Rosie made the whole ordeal with Mary worthwhile. A present he would be able to open every day she woke and gave him something new by which to be surprised.
“I would definitely have to second that opinion, John.” Sherlock entered the room, wiping off the last of the water on his hands with a tea towel. He sat on his chair with a thump and turned to the duo on the sofa.
“So, what did you find out?”
“I’ve an appointment this afternoon. I texted Mrs. Hudson and she said she’d be delighted to watch this one here for a bit while we’re gone.”
“Well, that’s settled. I wonder if Mycroft sped up the process?”
The lights in the flat flickered. Rosie gasped. As did John.
“THANK YOU, MYCROFT!” Sherlock yelled into the room.
You’re welcome, brother mine.
“That wasn't creepy at all,” muttered John sarcastically as he bounced Rosie on his knees.
They saw John’s new doctor, Dr. Martina Freeman, at half twelve. She ordered a few x-rays from different angles and a contrast MRI. Sherlock waited impatiently in the lobby for John to be finished with all of his testing and was relieved to see him a bit before two o’clock. Sherlock stood as John approached.
“Is there a verdict?”
“There was a radiologist on site during the testing. I think you might have to shout out another thank you to Mycroft when we get back home.”
Sherlock reached into his pocket and began to type. “This will have to be sufficient. Tell me what the doctors said.”
“Well, it’s about what I expected. I have a torn labrum. They think it happened as a result of repetitive motion activities. Between hauling a rifle, a med kit, getting shot, running around like a lunatic with you, and lugging a toddler about, my shoulder was a ticking time bomb. I’m not really all that surprised. It’s been acting up for months. As far as the soft tissue in the area, the ligaments around the glenohumeral joint are stretched out like useless elastic bands. They had me pop the glenohumeral bone out of the glenoid fossa a couple of times, and pose for a few x-rays. That felt tremendous.” John shivered and shook his head in recent remembrance.
“The radiologist isn’t sure about one other thing: He thought there might be something else going on, in the posterior area of my shoulder, but it wasn’t visible on the x-rays or the MRI. I’m to have an arthroscopy a fortnight from this Friday. Once Dr. Freeman gets digging around in there, she’ll be able to see exactly what’s happening, and she’ll fix it up as best she can. She also said I’d need a capsular plication, to tighten up some loose tissue around the lining of the joint.” John watched as Sherlock took all of the medical terminologies he’d just thrown at him. He was just blinking and nodding.
“Did you get all that?”
“I have a bit of shoulder knowledge filed in my mind palace. When we met, and I found out about your being shot in Afghanistan, I became well acquainted with information available on a few medical websites I found. It looks like I’m to become rather friendly with Google this evening. I have some old files to clean out of my mind palace anyway. Now’s as good a time as any, I should think.”
“How about I take you to a late lunch and I tell you all the other things we talked about?”
“I could go for pizza, if you don’t mind.”
“I only need one hand for that. Let’s go!”
They sat at a quiet table in the back of Angelo’s while they shared a large supreme pizza.
“We have sixteen days to plan for what’s going to happen during my recovery.” He pulled the folded sheets of paper from his inner coat pocket; the outline of instructions given to him by his doctor, and spread them across the table. He tapped his other pockets looking for a pen and realised he couldn’t even use it if he had one.
“Would you mind jotting our ideas down, Sherlock?”
Sherlock took his phone from his Belstaff and opened up his notes app and they got to work, referring to the paperwork, research from internet searches, and their own brainstorming:
John’s pre-surgery to do:
- Catch up all laundry
- Clean flat
- Buy a few more ice packs
- Grocery shop afternoon before procedure
“Wait. Do you really need to do that?” Sherlock asked, afraid of the answer.
“I’d like to get a bit of a trim since I most likely won’t want to sit and socialise when my shoulder is aching in a few weeks.”
“Oh. Um. Okay. I was just curious.”
“Oh. I see. I think you like my hair this length.” Sherlock scowled, caught out.
“It is rather fetching. And also softer than I thought.”
John reached out, twisted a finger in one of Sherlock’s curls. “Just a trim, Sherlock. Let’s keep going.”
- Buy a plate guard
“What the hell is a plate guard?” John inquired.
“I was doing a bit of research while you were having your tests. Since I’ve never been accused of being an optimist, I realised that you are going to have a difficult time eating certain foods. The plate guard snaps onto a plate and creates a raised area to slide food onto a fork or spoon so you don’t end up spilling your meals on the table or yourself.”
“Where has this gadget been all my life?”
“It will save us a small fortune in laundry soap.”
- Buy squeeze ball to exercise John’s wrist and hand while his arm is immobilised
- Change all medications to non-childproof caps
- Buy pump bottles of shampoo and face cleanser
“Oh shit! I’m going to need you to help me shave!”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
- Set John’s phone to remind him to stop taking multivitamins a week before his surgery
- Fill John’s pain medication prescription
“I don’t really want to take the pain meds.”
“I just don’t want them in the house. Rosie and all. One less thing for her to get up to.” John’s eyes shifted to the wall behind Sherlock.
“John. You can trust me. I’m done with all that. I have no reason to go back to my crutch. I have no need for chemical enhancement. I have you for that, now.”
“I can’t give you chemical enhancement, Sherlock.”
“I beg to differ. Oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine are chemicals and they are definitely enhanced when I’m around you.” John released Sherlock's curl and sat back against his chair.
“I want to take things slower with you, Sherlock, but Christ, you saying things like that, I don’t know if I can wait to have it off with you.”
“I’d like to wait until you’re feeling better. As you’ve already been made aware by my brother and Irene Adler- I’m. I’m what they said I was.”
“I still can’t believe that. Honestly. I see you and you ooze it. That ‘thing’ that sexy people have.”
“You must be the only one who’s ever seen this ‘thing’ you’re talking about, because no one else ever has.” Sherlock felt embarrassed and bewildered. And most of all, confused. And all of those feelings showed on his face.
“Bollocks to that! I can name three people right off the top of my head: Irene, and-”
“Please don’t. I know the three women you’re going to mention. I had zero interest in all three of them. One possessed a challenging mind, another was a means for me to obtain critical information, and the other is a rather close friend who has finally, it seems, gotten a bit closer to getting over whatever it was she saw in me. They do not count.”
“They absolutely fucking do! And you know it! Just because they’re not your type, doesn’t mean they didn’t notice how fucking fantastic you are.”
“I call bollocks on that, then.”
“Christ. It’s hot when you get all sciency, but also equally hot when you use plebeian words like ‘bollocks’. When we get home, I’m going to put you in front of a mirror and show you how striking you are.”
Sherlock had the nerve to roll his eyes.
“It’s not just the outside of you that’s dramatically appealing. It’s all of you. That giant brain. Your immense heart. Your fierce need to protect those you love. And you do love people, quite a few in fact. We all see it, Sherlock; you're not fooling one of us. All that sentiment you claim to loathe. It just so happens that all of those things that make you-you are all wrapped up in a monumentally gorgeous package.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I’ll make you believe me.”
“I highly doubt that.” Sherlock tried to look unimpressed, but a shiver went up his spine and a warmth he’d so rarely felt pooled in his lower belly.
“You just wait until I’m feeling better.” John knew Sherlock was full of shit.
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“Christ, I hope you do.”
“I’ll hold you directly against me. Or something. Isn’t there an insipid song along that line?”
“If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” John sang the lyric off-key, but Sherlock found John’s valiant attempt endearing nonetheless.
“That sounds about right.”
“Oh. I definitely promise. And if I forget, I want you to hold it against me.”
Their laughter startled all the other diners around them. And they couldn’t possibly have cared.
13th, September 2020, 06:20 AM
“All of this drama will be over in a few hours, Sherlock. Stop fretting.”
John was given his surgeon’s first surgery of the day, at 07:30. Despite the early hour, he’d already been admitted and was lying on a narrow (and not very comfortable) hospital bed; an IV cannula was inserted and taped down on the top of his right hand. A pulse oximeter was clipped to his right index finger. The patient information, and allergy bracelets hung loosely around John’s right wrist. About thirty minutes ago, a nurse hooked him up to all the necessary machines, which included getting him wired up to a heart monitor. They attached compression pump stockings to his calves and ankles and also put a soft pair of yellow anti-skid socks over the stockings. If someone walked in the room not knowing any better, it would appear to be a serious situation facing the room’s occupants. But Sherlock didn’t seem to realise that the situation wasn’t nearly as severe as his emotions were leading him to believe.
“This is the easy part, Sherlock. The game changes when I wake up and you have to do almost everything for me for six to eight weeks!” He was met with silence. Attempting to lighten the mood with a few jokes did not work on Sherlock this time. He just sat beside John on the hard, plastic chair a foot from his bed, and watched Sherlock nervously wring his hands in his lap while he stared at the needle in John’s vein. John decided to try again.
“This is such a common procedure, they’re going to let me go home in a few hours. I’m going to be fine.” Something about what John said snapped Sherlock out of the revolving scenarios that were playing across his vision.
“Apologies, John. I’ll keep my melancholic thoughts to myself and let myself ruminate on them while you’re having your surgery.” He actually harrumphed.
John shook his head with a fondness writ all over his face. “Please don’t apologise for being kind, Sherlock. I’m really glad you’re sitting here with me, keeping me company. Hey. Give me one of those giant paws you call hands for a second. If you’re not careful, you’re going to squeeze your own fingers the wrong way and need a procedure of your own. Gimme.”
While content to stew in his own grim imaginings, Sherlock begrudgingly disentangled his long fingers from their tight grasp and offered his left hand to John. Carefully, John got most of his hand around Sherlock’s palm and gave it a light press, his thumb sliding gently across Sherlock’s fingers.
“This is really nothing, Sherlock. As I said, this is the easy part. When I wake up, things are going to be very different and pretty difficult. We both read about the before and after of this surgery... our eyes are open. We prepared ourselves the best we could. We bought everything we’d need for a few weeks; Rosie’s going to hang out with Mrs. Hudson or Molly during the afternoons in case I need to have a kip. We’re good, Sherlock. Everything’s going to be just fine.” He pulled Sherlock’s hand to his lips and grazed them with a dry, chaste kiss. He returned their hands to the rail between them and searched Sherlock’s face.
“I’m not really frightened of the surgery, John. I think my anxiety is about the future. The more immediate part of it. Especially after what we have recently become.”
“I don’t understand. We both know what to expect. There shouldn’t be too many surprises.” John continued to slide his thumb across Sherlock’s fingers. With every stroke, he could feel a bit of tension leave Sherlock’s body.
“I just don’t want there to be a huge argument when I need to help you with something, and your pride and ego step in between us. I couldn’t stand it if something happened to our new relationship because of something so idiotic.”
“I know I’m not an easy person to help. But, how about this? How about I promise you that I will let you do anything I need you to do for me, after I find that I’m unable to do it after trying for myself?”
Sherlock’s left eyebrow raised. “Be careful about promises you can’t keep.”
John’s surprise pushed him further back against the raised bed. "Sometimes, we're chalk and cheese; most times, we're tea and biscuits. But I mean it. You mean too much to me to have an argument about something that two months from now will be moot. ‘We’ mean to much to me. Things are going to be tense enough, without me having a tantrum. Just tell me to pipe down and leave you to it. Whatever ‘it’ may turn out to be.”
“John. Do not speak of ‘piping down’ while we are out in public. We wouldn’t want to scandalise your medical handlers.”
That was all it took to get them to giggling and suddenly they knew that they were on the right road. At least they were trying.
Three and a half hours later:
“Jesus Christ, I already want to rip this bloody thing off and watch it get run over by a lorry and dragged down Baker Street!”
When John awoke from his surgery, he was already ensconced in his shoulder abduction sling . And he would be trapped in it for the majority of the next six to eight weeks. Sherlock managed to wrangle John and his newest appendage into a cab and back to their home. As Sherlock fiddled with the lock at the front door, John sighed.
“I’ve already lost the plot with this thing, and I’ve only been wearing it for three hours.” He tipped his head forward and it landed on Sherlock’s shoulder. “This really sucks, Sherlock.”
After unlocking the door and kicking it open with a gentle push from his left foot, he put his left arm around John’s back and helped him inside, being extra careful not to bump his shoulder and brace against the door’s frame. He let John lead the way up the stairs but stayed close behind him in case he became dizzy during their ascent. The staff in charge of him at the hospital gave him a snack and some water and let him go home two hours after he woke from the anaesthesia. Sherlock told them John was in good hands and that there was someone else at home who would be able to help him look after their patient. Now, John was Sherlock’s patient.
Time for Nurse Holmes to get to work.
He was able to manoeuvre John into the flat and guided him to, and down onto, the sofa. Tea would help. That’s tea’s main job. He busied himself in the kitchen, filling and starting the kettle, and rummaging around for the scones Mrs. Hudson made for John’s return from the hospital.
“I’m so knackered but also starving. My arm is so numb, but it also hurts. Christ, this nerve blocker isn’t messing about.”
Sherlock entered the sitting room and made his way to John with a tea tray and a plate of chocolate digestives, John’s favourite.
Despite his nausea, he lunged for the treats and grimaced in spite of his enthusiasm. A large bite: “Oh! She is an absolute angel! We have to get something marvellous for Mrs. H to thank her for these and for watching Rosie! We don’t deserve her!” A few crumbs landed on his new brace.
“I’m sure she’ll say that being with Rosie and seeing you so delighted will be thanks enough.”
“Come sit with me. I might need you to help me at some point here. I’m a little dizzy.”
“Oh. Of course! Let me get your pain medication and I’ll be right back.”
“You’re making me dizzy. Stop fluttering about and sit here with me.” John patted the sofa cushion next to himself. “If I fall asleep here, I’d like to tilt towards and land against your shoulder, if you don’t mind.”
“I would never mind any part of your body against any part of my body, at any point, ever.”
“Easy with that kind of talk. I won’t be up for any of that for a few more weeks. At least not the good stuff.”
“What we’ve been up to the last three weeks has been fine with me.”
They’ve not yet passed ‘second base’ in that time, but that’s further than Sherlock’s ever been in his life. John had wanted to keep things slow. Still does. But despite wanting to wait for ‘the good stuff’ to happen when he was feeling up for it, it was becoming more difficult with every second he was around his genius. His. What a lofty thing.
“Just sit here with me and feed me biscuits until I need a kip. Which I don’t think will be much longer. Hold my tea for me so I don’t have to try to reach the table?” John pushed his cup into Sherlock’s right hand without waiting for confirmation and then munched away as Sherlock held his half-empty teacup. Sherlock couldn’t help but grin.
Through a mouthful of biscuit: “I’d love to see Rose right now, but I’m not awake enough to see her and I don’t want to scare her with this monstrosity hanging around my neck until I’m properly awake.”
“Mrs. Hudson has things under control downstairs. She's going to bring her up here to see us around six tonight. We can all have dinner, I can bathe her and get her to bed. That way, she’s here with us for a bit in the evening, can sleep here and have breakfast with us in the morning before we take her downstairs around ten. Everyone wins. I get to take care of you without having her underfoot, and you can sleep whenever the urge overtakes you.”
“I don’t deserve Mrs. Hudson, or you, for that matter.”
“We all deserve each other.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes as John ate and sipped at his tea. Sherlock just watched him, saying nothing; until he couldn’t hold it back anymore:
“This morning, you were right. I wasn’t just preoccupied with our future. It was really difficult to see you lying there like that. Hooked up to machines, looking so tired. I could see the pain you were in; it was all over your face.” John swiped at the bit of crumbs that settled on his chest from the last scone on the plate. He turned to face Sherlock on the sofa.
“That’s what’s it’s like for me every time you do something stupid and make me have to look at you in the same position. It’s shit. And I hope we can keep instances like these to a minimum.”
“I can agree to those terms.” Sherlock smiled, despite the heaviness of the topic at hand. There was a bit of sadness behind it, but it there for a reason. John set the plate on the coffee table and inched closer to Sherlock, tipping forward, his forehead resting against Sherlock’s. He spoke against Sherlock’s face, his chocolatey breath further warming his words:
“It should feel weird, this. But it doesn’t. It feels new, but not weird. This should be awkward, shouldn’t it? Me and you, sitting here like this? It just feels like we’ve been doing this for ten years instead of three weeks.”
“We’re very lucky, John. To have finally found this with each other.”
“Could’ve happened a bit sooner, but I suppose I should just be happy with things as they are now, yeah?”
“I’m going to take the less pessimistic route for one of the few times in my life and say that I am happy that this ever happened at all.” Sherlock sat back and kissed John’s forehead. John leaned back, his eyes looking a bit dazed. Fatigue was beginning to settle in his bones.
“Thank you, sweethea… oh shit.” John’s eyes grew wide in horror.
“It’s fine.” Sherlock barely blinked.
“Is it? Are you sure?”
“I would tell you if it wasn’t.”
“Just ‘fine’, though?”
“No one has called me ‘sweetheart’ since I was a child. Sorry, John.”
“You will find that I’m severely lacking in relationship experience. I’m not used to pet names or endearments.”
“If it’s all right with you, I’d like to work on that with you, sweetheart.” John reached for Sherlock and scratched his scalp with his trimmed nails. Sherlock hummed in agreement.
Chapter 7: Week One of Recovery
John spent the first thirty-six hours waiting for the nerve block to wear off. He waited and stared at his arm as it lagged in its sling, useless and droopy. He willed his fingers to wiggle, but it was no use. Medical science was a marvel. Until it wasn’t. The burning and painful tingling receded over the course of a few hours, but then the pain from his six incisions roared to the forefront. Sherlock set a timer on his phone and gave John his Co-Dydramol every four hours. Sherlock was never further away than the kitchen. At a few points, John wanted to be left alone, to suffer in silence, and not worry Sherlock. Knowing Sherlock the way he did, John should’ve known better. Sherlock just spent the hours they were apart listening with a keen ear for a moment when he could sense John would need him. He was right every time.
For the following three days of his recovery, he laid about on the sofa, watched telly, and became frustrated with his situation. It seemed to him, that every task he tried to attempt was more laborious than the one previous. There were even more things that he and Sherlock didn’t think of that were to prove themselves difficult or impossible. John was able to perform a few of the easier tasks around the flat when he realised he was able to slide his arm forward in the sling to free his fingers to help him hold onto things. Mainly Rosie.
“Da? Can I sit wif you on da sofa?”
“Certainly, my little bud. Just be careful of my shoulder, all right?” She climbed onto the cushion next to her father and settled against his right side, and she tucked her head against his chest. Sherlock poked his head into the room when there was a moment he didn’t have to stand over the cooker and stir the chilli.
“Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. No napping!”
He came back to the kitchen’s entryway: “Yes, John?”
“I’m allowed to take a shower tonight, right?”
“I believe that’s what the paperwork your surgeon sent you home with said. You had to wait for three to four days for the incisions to stop weeping. They looked fine this morning.”
“I think I might need your help, if you’re okay with that.” Sherlock stood as straight as John’s ever seen him. “I suppose I could do that for you. If you really need me to.”
“I’d hate to slip and fall in the shower and hurt my shoulder again. Could use your help soaping up my right side and washing my hair.”
Sherlock actually looked frightened the longer John spoke. John sensed his fear immediately.
“Sherlock? It’s okay if you’re not ready for anything to happen tonight. I can try a shower on my own.”
Sherlock cleared his throat. “Would it be all right if I took a bit to review and analyze some data that’s just flickered to life in my Mind Palace?”
John’s right hand went to his mouth to try to stifle the laugh that tried to escape. Laughing at Sherlock when he was completely serious would most certainly cause a row.
“Take all the time you need, love.”
Rosie stirred. “Yes, Daddy?”
“Oh, Rosie. I was calling Sherlock ‘love’.”
“I fot I was wuv’, Da?” She tilted her head in confusion.
“You both are. Is it okay if I call Sherlock that once in a while, Rose? I love him very much. Just like I love you.”
Sherlock was blinking again, and his eyes looked a bit wet. He spun around and went back into the kitchen, stubbed his toe on his own stool, cursed, and John heard him drop the lid that had been on top of the pot of chilli right onto the counter next to the cooker.
Rosie was unfazed by the commotion happening in the kitchen. “I wuv him, too. Iz fine, Daddy. Can I caw him wuv, too?” Sherlock dropped the spoon he was using to the floor. It bounced off the linoleum.
“Oh, I think he’d love that very much. Almost as much as he loves you!” He tickled her right hip and she pressed herself closer to her father’s side as she laughed.
“Dinner’s ready!” Sherlock yelled out to the sitting room. And then he promptly blew his nose.
John could only shake his head. The expression of fondness that passed over his face was one that he’d never thought himself capable. “Be right there!”
Rosie toddled into the room and clambered onto a chair, with John close behind her. John walked up behind Sherlock and slid his right arm around his belly. “Are you okay?” John whispered.
“Yes. I’m fine.” Sherlock whispered in return. He gave himself away with a sniff.
“I didn’t mean to pressure you. If you’re not ready for that sort of thing, I’m not ready for it either. We’re in this thing together.” John kissed Sherlock’s shoulder, rubbing his nose against the softness of the fabric of Sherlock’s dressing gown.
“I don’t think I realised how ‘together’ we all were until a few minutes ago.”
“She loves you very much. Sometimes, kids just make things like feelings so damn simple. Somewhere along the way, we lose that part of ourselves.”
“Usually when people reach the age where they stop being kind to you.”
“Well, I will do my very best to be kind to you for as long as you’ll have me.”
“Then you plan on being kind to me for at least 50 more years.”
“Holy shit. That’s a long time. But, I think I can handle it.”
“I think I can handle it, too.”
“We’re not talking about the same thing right now, are we?”
“We would be if we were talking about showering together at some point this evening.”
“If that’s the case, then we are, at this moment, talking about the same thing. Besides, my hair is really dirty.”
“GO SIT DOWN, please.”
John couldn’t hide the grin on his face as he sat next to Rosie and waited for Sherlock to bring the pot to the centre of their table.
They managed to get Rosie settled into bed around half-seven. After they both gave her a kiss goodnight, they made their way down the stairs together.
“Since we’re both up right now and have nothing on for the rest of the evening, would you still like to take a shower tonight?” John turned to face Sherlock at the bottom of the stairs. Although Sherlock couldn’t look John in the eyes, the right side of his mouth and face quirked up into a smirk, clearly giving himself away. John was delighted.
“I would love to take a shower with you, Sherlock.” He reached for Sherlock and grasped his left elbow to steady him. And himself. This was a huge step and they needed to take it together.
John backed them down the hall, past the kitchen and towards the bathroom and Sherlock followed. Once inside, Sherlock locked the door behind himself, and took a step forward and helped John out of his sling and set it on the counter by the sink. John made for Sherlock’s dressing gown ties and managed to untie it and push it over Sherlock’s shoulders one-handed.
After weeks of sleeping next to one another, touching each other over the top of their clothes, and kissing as chastely as they were able, here they were.
“I won’t be able to help with those buttons but I can watch you.” John’s tongue poked between his lips and he bit the lower one in anticipation, an incisor pulling and holding it between his teeth.
Sherlock lowered his head and got to work. As he slipped the last button from its hole, John slid his right hand from left to right, shoulder over his upper chest to the other shoulder, and pushed off Sherlock’s dark blue dress shirt. It joined his dressing gown at his feet. Sherlock shivered at the sweep of John’s gentle hand across his body. John grabbed Sherlock’s left shoulder and pulled him forward. “C’mere.”
Sherlock whimpered at the desperation in John’s voice and he pushed closer to John’s warmth. He squeezed Sherlock’s shoulder as he pulled Sherlock down and pressed his mouth to Sherlock’s lips. “Easy. Watch my shoulder. One push too hard, and I probably won’t be able to breathe.” John laughed against Sherlock’s mouth as he cupped his face and tickled his left ear with his thumb. “Christ, I love you.”
Sherlock gasped. “Off. This needs to come off.” He grasped at John’s shirt. “I’ll help you out of it.”
With a bit of contortion and a few grunts of pain, John was able to escape the confines of his sweatshirt. Sherlock tossed it on the pile of clothing that was accumulating on the bathroom floor. They both grabbed at the waistband of John’s sweatpants and shimmied them down his thighs. John stepped on the elastic at each ankle and pushed them over his heels and feet and kicked them away. John was standing there in his pants. Sherlock just blinked. John broke the silence.
“You now. Off. Those trousers need to go. I’ve been wanting to see those legs of yours for so long. Lemme see them, Sherlock.” John stepped back to give Sherlock a bit of space. And plenty of time to change his mind.
He made quick work of his belt, button, and zip. His hand lifted from the waistband. “Would you like to help me?” He raised his eyebrow lasciviously.
“Fuck yes.” With a growl, John advanced, and his right hand helped Sherlock push off his black trousers. He put his hand on Sherlock’s bum and pressed Sherlock against him. He scratched his short nails softly against the warm roundness of Sherlock’s backside, pushing Sherlock’s cock against John’s stomach. It was still trapped behind his soft, silk black pants.
“Are you sure, Sherlock?”
“I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more sure, or ready, for anything in my entire life.” John searched his face. There was no hint of fear. He looked a bit nervous, but likely a bit more along the lines of anticipation and excitement.
“I’ll meet you in there?”
“No. I want to do this out here. May I?” John’s breath caught in his lungs. His body refused to move. He was only able to nod his head, once, and briskly at that. It was enough to get Sherlock to move.
Sherlock stalked forward and pressed their chests together. His hands drifted down John’s back, then to his sides and then his hips. He lowered his head as his fingers slid between hot skin and elastic. “I love you, too,” he sighed into John’s ear. John’s hand made its way to the small of Sherlock’s back and it slipped inside at the top of Sherlock’s pants. He kissed Sherlock’s left pectoral muscle. And it was interpreted as the question it was made to be:
“Yes, John. Please.” Needing no further supplication, his hand made its way further inside and he managed to get one side of Sherlock’s pants over his hip, but that’s where the progression halted.
“Shit. I can’t. Shit.” He inadvertently broke the sexiness of the moment. Sherlock laughed. “I can get the other side; get in while I finish disrobing.” John turned towards the shower but looked over his shoulder at the picture Sherlock made: so close to naked, save for his crooked pants, which rested on his bony left hip. Legs for a mile. What a lucky bastard he was.
“Don’t keep me waiting. Please. I can’t do much in there without you anyway. Besides, the view in there without you is going to be sufficiently lacking in scenery.” John wiggled his rear-end and stepped gingerly into the shower. Banging his injured arm or shoulder at this point would effectively kill all the romance out of the evening. He flipped on the water and pulled the tap diverter and stepped under the spray as soon as it was warm enough. He got his face and hair wet before Sherlock sidled up behind him, his front pushed tightly to John’s back. He hooked his chin over John’s healthy shoulder.
“Sweet Christ, you feel good against me, Sherlock.” Sherlock’s length was pressed against the small of his back. He reached his right arm back towards Sherlock and settled his hand at the place where arse meets thigh. John turned his head a bit and placed a soft kiss to Sherlock’s cheek. “Let me look at you for a moment, all right? I want to see you, properly.” Sherlock nodded his head against John’s shoulder and John slipped out from under him and spun around. He stepped back further under the spray and gave Sherlock a gentle push and he took the hint and stepped back.
He could only shake his head. “You're lovely, Sherlock. I can’t believe this. This is happening. You’re so lovely, and you’re mine, at least I hope you’re mine, and I’ve never loved anyone like I’ve loved you and you’re doing this with me, and I’m not sure how I should feel about it.” He gasped for breath, the enormity of their circumstance pushed all of those words out in one go.
Sherlock stepped forward and cupped John’s chin with both of his hands. “If there was ever any doubt that I am yours, your disbelief will be quelled before we exit this shower. I’ve never loved anyone before. Not like this. And I’ve certainly never loved them enough to be in a situation of this magnitude. I didn’t know I had an ‘it’ before I met you, but you’re ‘it’ for me, John. No one else. Not before you. Not now. And not ever.”
John surged forward and pressed his mouth to Sherlock’s. In between kisses, they said:
“I wish I could get both of my arms around you.”
“As long as I can get both of my arms around you, there is no room for wishes.”
“You are too good for me.”
“I’d certainly like to try to be. I was under the impression I was in here to assist you with your first shower since your surgery. Was I lured in here under false pretences?”
John’s forehead landed at the centre of Sherlock’s collar bones, his nose brushing against the top of his sternum. A kiss. He lifted his head to look up at Sherlock. “No, you were not. Shall we get down to business?”
“Then we’ll get to the task at hand.” Sherlock winked. The bastard. John had to laugh.
“I’m not doing all the work. You can wash your left side and I’ll get your back and your right side when you’re finished.”
“I’ll also need to wash my front, too?” John was praying he hadn’t got the wrong end of the stick.
“I was saving that surprise for later. You’ve ruined it.”
At that, John held out his right palm expectantly and waited for Sherlock to squeeze out a bit of shower gel. Sherlock got to work on John’s hair while John sudsed from his incisions down to his wrist. After a bit of low moaning from John when Sherlock’s fingers massaged his scalp, Sherlock laved John’s right arm and back with his own hands, lathering the soap as he rubbed the tired muscles of John’s body. John was slow to relax, but when he finally did, he leant back against Sherlock’s chest while his right arm was washed. Sherlock kissed his neck, as the hand that had been soaping John’s chest made its way over John’s belly and stopped at his belly button, his pinky finger tangling itself in tight, sandy-coloured curls. “If you’ll allow me, I would like to try and attempt this for you.”
“I think you’ll be able to do more than ‘attempt’.”
“I’ve never done this for anyone other than myself, so I’m a bit apprehensive to pursue this endeavour.”
“Do whatever you do to yourself. I’m sure that will be plenty good enough for me.”
“I don’t want it to simply be ‘good enough’ for you. I want this to be fantastic.”
John craned his neck to see as much of Sherlock as he could. “I’m in your arms, naked, in our shower. This has already been fantastic. Anything else that happens is ice cream on top of a brownie. Enough small talk, let’s get to it then. I’m recovering from surgery and I need to be comforted by my partner.”
John sagged back against Sherlock’s chest and waited, giving his genius time to register everything John just said to him. After about ten seconds, Sherlock reached to his right side to squirt a glob of shower gel on John’s upper belly. He gently lifted John’s left arm, bent it, and set his hand to the centre of his belly, and brought his own arm to join it, supporting it from below. He dragged his right palm and collected some of the shower gel and slid his hand past John’s belly button and into the nest of curls cushioning his cock.
John’s whole body jerked at the touch. “Oh, Sherlock...”
“Just lean back against me. I’ve got you.” Sherlock’s hand continued its downward journey until he reached John’s half-hard cock. After a few delicate sweeps of his palm, Sherlock got to work. He let his fingertips dance across John’s belly, then back down to John’s prick. John’s right arm twisted itself until he was able to get his hand back on Sherlock’s hip. Sherlock nipped and licked and kissed John’s neck as his hand continued to wrap and squeeze around John’s cock.
“Sherl, Sherl-ock. Faster. Please, sweetheart. I’m close. That feels so, OH! good. Oh, I’m sorry, love. I’m not going to last much long-ger.” John stretched his neck to try to kiss Sherlock, but he missed his lips and got the tip of his nose. The sound of the water pounding on their bodies as it rained down the slopes of their skin was drowned out by the sounds of their hard breaths and John’s moans.
Sherlock removed his left arm from under John’s and brought it back to John’s arse and then underneath, as he reached towards John’s balls. He tucked underneath until he found John’s perineum. He pressed against it as he licked at John’s neck.
“It’s all right, John. I’m doing this for you. Always for you. I love you. I love you more than everything. Come, John. Please. I need to see you come in my hand.”
John’s abdomen undulated, his body tensed, and he rode the cresting waves in Sherlock’s arms.
Chapter 8, Week Two of Recovery
“Could you send me a life for Candy Crush when you get a free moment?” John was sat on the end of the sofa, tablet on his lap, as he sent a beseeching glance to Sherlock, who was peering eagerly at a specimen on a slide on his microscope.
“I stopped playing that as soon as I realised they made certain levels more difficult to get people to pay for extra moves.”
“I noticed. But could you lift your embargo for a mo’ and just send me one so I can keep playing?” John’s smile was all teeth, but nowhere near his eyes.
“There’s nothing else you could be doing?”
Hackles became raised. “What would you suggest someone do with one functional arm?”
“Don’t you have anything to blog about?” Sherlock spun the fine adjustment a few millimetres.
“We haven’t had anything interesting on in weeks, what with me not being of any goddamn use to anyone at all! It’s also kinda hard to type up something for the blog with only one functional hand!”
Sherlock still wasn’t looking at John. “You only use two fingers when you type anyway; there are four of them and a thumb on your right hand. You’re ahead of the game, if you think about it.”
“Wow. Picking at the recently operated on, and, medically, legally handicapped. I see how it is.”
“Oh please! That was two weeks ago. Your surgeon’s PA told you yesterday that you’re doing very well. You’re moving along on schedule. A month or less and you should be out of that sling.”
“You do realise that’s the amount of time I’ve been in it, multiplied by two, right? You do understand that’s double the amount of time I’ve been stuck with it, added to what I’ve already done?”
“Oh, do be more dramatic, John! That’s certain to help!”
They stared at each other, squinting death glares. John tossed his tablet on the sofa by his feet and leapt from its cushions. He walked with a vigour he hadn’t known he’d possessed to get to a room that had a door so he could slam it. It seemed the entire building shook with the force of the bang. Sherlock just hoped it was just the door to their bedroom, and that it was not a metaphor for their relationship.
Sherlock removed the slide from the stage, and, from his spot on his stool, he tossed it into the sink. His hands went to his hair and he pulled the strands in self-dissatisfaction. He could have, most certainly, handled that situation better. He waited fifteen minutes before ambling down the hallway to the bedroom. Silence. He stood with his ear pressed to the door for almost five minutes. He tapped at the door four times, but John didn’t say anything. He also didn’t tell Sherlock not to come in…
He opened the door to find John sitting on the bed, taking in large breaths through his mouth. John heard a floorboard creak and lifted his gaze.
John spoke first.
“Sorry. I’m being a dick. I’m trying to stay awake, but the thought of a kip sounds wonderful. I’M SO SICK OF NAPPING AND HURTING! I want to see my daughter, but she’s downstairs because we’re afraid of her accidentally hurting me. I’m afraid I’m going to snap at her or fall asleep when I should be watching her. I feel like I’m inconveniencing EVERYONE I KNOW and want to punch something, but I can’t, because the arm I throw punches with is trapped in this bloody thing!” John swung his shoulders about and winced.
John has always hated himself more than anyone else could. That train of thought had to be halted immediately. At this station.
Sherlock crossed the room and sat next to John. He undid his sling and set John’s arm on top of John’s left thigh and then he sat behind him. He pushed the sleeve of John’s t-shirt over as far as it would go and he got out the vitamin E cream and began a light massage of John’s shoulder.
“I was being a bit of a dick as well. I know you’re frustrated, and I just helped make it worse. Does it make you feel better to know that I’m a bit frustrated as well? I hate seeing you like this.”
“Actually, no. That makes it worse. But the sentiment was nice, just the same.”
“Sentiment, again. Always creeps in there when I’m least expecting it.” John relaxed under Sherlock’s hands and let his neck hang forward and lull about his chest.
“I’m sorry if I bollocksed things up, Sherlock. I hate feeling like this.” Sherlock pulled John back to his chest and put his arms around his middle. He spoke against the left side of John’s neck:
“I want you to know. What you said a few minutes ago? You’re not inconvenient. You are loved. Infinitely. By so many people. You’re a caregiver, but never want to be taken care of. If I were to tell you I felt burdensome, you’d be yelling at me up and down Baker Street, calling me an idiot and a twat. Why is this situation any different?”
This conversation had taken a sudden turn. They were supposed to be making up, not making it worse. John’s always viewed conversations of this nature to be the fucking up of the status quo.
“Because. I’m a doctor. It’s my job to take care of people, Sherlock.” John sat up and rubbed at his shoulder.
“From what I’ve been told, people that love and care about other people, take care of them when they’re ill or injured. Or just poorly in all senses of the word. Why is it, when it’s you that needs the support, that you feel as if you don’t deserve it?”
“I don’t know. Never given it much thought.” John was grateful that Sherlock couldn’t see his face.
“You heard me. Are you deaf now, too?”
“Christ. If this is you taking care of me, I’d hate to see what it’d be like if you didn’t give a shit.”
“This is me giving a shit. Your inability to let yourself be loved by those who love you is distressing.”
“Distressing? Do you understand what it’s like to be from a family of alcoholics? A child of a dysfunctional family? A sibling of a shunned sister? I’ve tried, for most of my life, to be liked. To be an example of what I thought everyone wanted me to be: I was a soldier and a ladies’ man for my father. A doctor for my mother. A shoulder to cry on for my sister. A medic and commanding officer to my fellow soldiers. A loving husband to Mary, and a caring, patient father to Rose. A partner in work and in life, and now, a lover to you. I’m a different version of myself to everyone who knows me. I don’t know how to be all of those things at the same time without feeling like I’m a fraud. Like I’m putting on a show.
“Invariably, I disappoint people, and they leave. A bit of the person I hide will rear itself, and people recoil. Or run away. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be, most days. I don’t really understand how I’m supposed to react when someone sees me for who I really am and still decides that I’m worthy of their affections. It’s happened so seldom in my life, I get uneasy, and I lash out, say shitty things, and push them out before they can get out on their own. I give people what I think they want from me, so they don’t leave, but even if they don’t decide to leave first, I always make sure to plant the idea for them. I’m self-sabotaging at best, and self-flagellating at worst.”
“You’ve been all of those things, versions of yourself, the whole time, John. That’s why so many people love you. We see all of who you are, and we’ve embraced all of you. Your goodness, your loyalty, your all-encompassing benevolence is what draws people to you. You are the perfect blend of all of the things you mentioned, but of all the things you’ve missed.” John turned to face Sherlock at that.
“You’re also lethal, and dangerous. You’re self-effacing but also confident in who you are. You’re an idiot, but also the smartest person I’ve ever known. You have the ability to make those around you better versions of themselves. You’re a teacher and a caregiver. You’re chivalrous, courageous, and brave. The bravest person I’ve ever known. No one is perfect. But to me, you are the closest to reach that absolutely unattainable zenith. You’re John. You’re my John. And you’re the man that many love.”
John couldn’t help the tears that fell down his cheeks. He would try every day, to be worthy of such praise.
“I don’t always feel like that guy.”
“You’ve been ‘that guy’, since the moment I met you. I was drawn to you as soon as I saw you. I’ve never felt that way about another person before you. On days when you don’t see ‘that guy’ in the mirror, just tell me, and I’ll remind you. As many times as you need to hear it.”
“I will do my best.”
“That’s all I can ask of you.”
“Not quite all I can ask of you, however.”
“An open, honest relationship where communication is a focal point isn’t enough for you?”
“Could you just send me a Candy Crush life so I can go to sleep?”
Chapter 9, Week Three of Recovery
“Hello, my darling! How’s my niece this morning?”
Molly walked through the entrance to 221B with a bag of pastries. (It also looked as though she was trying to smuggle something into the flat in a pie box.)
Banoffee pie. Oh dear. They were going to have to strategically disguise that before Rosie was able to see the box…
“Banooooffeeee!” It was one of the only words she was able to pronounce correctly at her age.
Rosie dropped the pieces to her Dotty Dinosaurs game on the coffee table and ran over towards Molly. Sherlock was able to intercept and put himself between Molly and Rosie and take the pie box from her. He rose it over his head and walked right through the still-opened door to the flat, into the hall and then through the door that led to the kitchen. He tiptoed into the room and put the box in the refrigerator. That could wait until after supper. Molly distracted her by shaking the pastry bag. “I have Parkin and Shrewsbury Cakes!”
It was a Saturday morning, only just; a bit before noon. Looked like pastries for lunch instead of the fruit they were planning on feeding Rosie.
“Molly! What a wonderful surprise! You didn’t have to bring anything!” John pushed himself off of his chair to meet Molly halfway across the room. He pressed a kiss to a cheek. Molly stepped back after pressing one to one of his in return.
“Hello, John!” Her eyes fell upon the sling: “You’re looking, oh my! That thing is rather cumbersome, isn’t it?”
Molly hadn’t seen them since just before John’s surgery; she wanted to give them both a bit of space. Sherlock, however, had been texting her and let her know that things with himself and John had taken a turn for the romantic. And sexual. She didn’t really appreciate those texts. At least he hadn’t sent her any photographic evidence.
After the heartbreaking events of Sherrinford, Molly and Sherlock had a few coffee and lunch dates to talk through some things. He was able to explain to her what happened that day, and they’ve been all the better for it. Over two years later, she was now one of his closest friends. A role she’d already mastered, but neither of them truly realised it. I guess there was one thing to thank Eurus for after all.
Rosie clung to one of Molly's legs and squeezed. “Ma-whee! Come pway!” Sherlock came back into the room and collected the pastries bag and set it on the kitchen table and then rejoined everyone in the sitting room.
“Would you happen to have something else, Molly? The ‘thing’ we were talking about yesterday?” Sherlock’s attempt at nonchalance was noticed immediately.
“They may or may not be in the pie box?”
“What are you two on about?” John’s eyebrows raised.
“Molly has, hopefully, brought me a bag of eyes on which to run a few key experiments.”
“Eyes. You’ve brought him eyes.” Molly nodded shyly.
“And it’s not even Christmas yet.”
“Christ. Do we really think that’s okay to have in the flat with Rosie?”
“Well, I happen to think it’s fine, since I plan to keep them in the designated area of the refrigerator and well away from the smallest tenant of this flat.”
“They’re in the box with the dessert we’re meant to have tonight! Maybe get them out of there, yeah?”
Molly looked helplessly between them both. Rosie offered her a few of the pieces to her game as a way of getting her to play along. Molly had never been more grateful to play a children's game before that moment.
“I’m sure Molly put the specimens in an appropriate container, John.” He had the nerve to be condescending.
“Not really the point.”
“Then what is the point?” He also had the nerve to sound impatient.
John gave no shits about Sherlock’s exasperated nonsense. “I don’t feel comfortable having them in the flat while Rosie’s here.”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve had hazardous waste in the flat,” he stated obviously.
“You even acknowledge the hazardous aspect. That’s progress at least.”
“Again. Not the first time. What about this has your teeth gnashing?”
“I’m not sure?”
“Is that a question?”
“I think so?” John was befuddled despite himself.
“You’ve done it again. That lilt at the end of your sentences, involuntarily punctuating statements into questions when they clearly aren’t grammatically correct.”
“I’m not sure why, but it seems like there shouldn’t be eyes in the flat right now.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
“Welcome.” John’s arms waved about the flat. ”This is how it feels to be me when dealing with you.” John’s sarcasm was slowly returning.
“You figure out your issue while Molly and I go into the kitchen and gather some plates and make some coffee.”
“Tea for me, thanks.” John helpfully supplied.
Sherlock tilted his head, jerking it towards the kitchen. Molly caught what Sherlock was throwing. She followed behind him as Rosie watched her go. She walked over to her father and decided he needed a cuddle.
“What the hell is wrong with him?” Sherlock whispered to Molly.
“If I didn’t know better, he was being a responsible father trying to keep body parts not attached to living people, out of the flat where his daughter lives. Seems pretty legitimate to me, Sherlock.”
“But why all of a sudden? This is hardly the first time I’ve had things of that nature in the flat in the last three years.“
“You need to ask yourself something: What has recently happened that would make John have such an about-face about something that hadn’t been an issue before today?”
“We’ve begun a romantic relationship?” offered Sherlock.
Molly was going to have to prod him along. “And what else?”
“We’ve committed to each other. Long-term. For the rest of our lives, if we understood each other correctly.”
“And why would something that momentous cause John to panic a bit?”
“Because he’s had failed relationships? Many failed relationships?”
“Nope. Try again. A hint? The answer you’re searching for is the opposite of what you’ve just said.”
Sherlock looked at the ceiling for a few moments. “Oh dear.”
“Oh. He’s got it. The genius finally got it.” Molly’s grin was entirely smug.
“He’s panicking because we are a family, hopefully forever, and he doesn’t see anything happening to make us stop being that. There’s no exit. No reason for one. He wants us to all be safe because we’re all going to be here forever. No more explosions or accidents. This is our home and homes are supposed to be safe.”
“You’re not a consulting detective for nothing. Good on ya.”
Sherlock called from the kitchen: “John?”
“Yes?” John answered from his chair in the sitting room.
“I’m going to discuss creating a lab next door with Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Turner.”
Molly and Sherlock could hear John fumbling about before he entered the kitchen.
“What for?” John got up and carried Rosie into the kitchen on his right hip. The four of them were now huddled at the back of the kitchen; Rosie at eye level with all the grownups, looking at each of them as they spoke.
“Because I think you’re right.”
“Me? I’m right?” John’s tone was a mixture of scepticism, bemusement, and a bit of understanding.
“Of course. You’re always right. I agree that we should keep the more precarious experiments out of the flat. Especially as Rosie gets older.”
“Wowsie ohduh!” At the mention of her name, Rosie decided to join the adults in conversation.
“That’s right, sweetheart! We want you to grow up in a safe place!” Sherlock dishevelled her hair with his fingers as he smiled down at her.
“Wif you, and Daddy!
“Yes, love! With me and papa and nana!”
“Pardon me?” Sherlock looked stricken, but in the best sort of way.
“Oh. I meant to ask you if that was okay a few days ago. I’ve been teaching her to call you papa when she and I have been alone. It was meant to be a surprise, but I suppose I’ve ruined it.”
“I assure you, it is still indeed flabbergasting. I don’t know what to say to that.”
“If it’s not okay, I can stop.”
“I'm not sure?”
“Apparently, making normal sentences into questions is catching.” Sherlock just blinked.
“Shall we try it out?” Sherlock just blinked some more.
“Is this Papa?” John slid his left arm a few centimetres out of his sling to poke Sherlock’s belly.
“Do you love Papa?”
“I wuf Papa vewwy much!”
Molly couldn’t believe what she was seeing. A few years ago, at the sight of what she was currently seeing, the tears she would have been crying would have been those of selfishness, knowing that she would never have this with Sherlock. Now, they’re tears of unrepentant joy. Her love for Sherlock has never diminished, it’s just shed its skin and changed its form.
“I love you, too, Rosamund. Very much.”
“'Tank you, Papa!”
“You’re a good girl, Rose. Give Papa a kiss!” Sherlock struggled against the forming tears.
John leant forward to let her do just that. During her short journey to Sherlock’s face, she decided she wanted to be held by her papa. Once the transfer was complete, she settled against Sherlock’s chest, her little arms around the back of his neck as she plastered a sloppy kiss to his mouth. He kissed her forehead and finally gave up the fight and let his tears go. Rosie was confused by the tears. She didn’t understand they were there because of bliss. John stood and watched his daughter’s godmother and his partner cry. Time to lighten the mood:
“I thought I asked for tea a few minutes ago. Whatever happened to that? I’m handicapped, don't forget.” He aimed for serious, but a chuckle followed his words.
Sherlock leant forward and, with Rosie in between them, pressed a chaste kiss to John’s lips. Rosie squealed. It was the first time she’d seen them be open about their relationship.
“Papa kiss Daddy!” She clapped her hands. She was as happy as the adults were in that room with her.
John set his left temple against Sherlock’s chest and looked up at his girl and his love. Molly watched the familial tableau as she wiped at the tears on her face with the sleeve of her flower-covered jumper. She was so grateful to have been here to witness this. There would have to be a phone call to Mrs. Hudson very soon. Or maybe a visit when she left this small, sweet family for the evening. They had much to celebrate. Good thing she brought them dessert.
Chapter 10, Week Four of Recovery
‘Please don’t remember the aquarium. Please don’t remember the aquarium.’ John silently thought.
Recently, Rosie had developed an affinity for fish. She saw a telly advertisement for London Aquarium less than a week ago. She shouted out during the commercial, while John was trying to read up on his emails and look for any comments on his relatively dormant blog: ‘Daddy! Daddy! Wook! Fishies!!!”
John glanced up from his laptop and felt his stomach swoop. He swallowed hard and tried to tamp down the flashes of memories he was having. His little girl was sitting next to him on the sofa, going on excitedly about fish and sharks, not knowing that her mother died at that place. John glanced around the flat, forgetting that Sherlock was out, and had been out, for a few hours. He worked his breathing exercises and listened to the voice of Ella telling him to remain calm and just breathe. He did his best to not show his distress to Rosie. He’d never been more grateful for her three-year-old attention span than he had at that moment. By the very next commercial, she’d moved on to ads for her favourite cartoons. After twenty minutes of lightheadedness and sweating, John was able to control himself until Sherlock came home forty-five minutes later.
It was all over John’s face, and there was no use in attempting to hide his distress from Sherlock. He surveyed John’s body language and immediately herded Rosie into their bedroom and gave her Sherlock’s old tablet and started a film for her. He barely made it into the sitting room before John was in his arms, the sling between them. They moved back to the sofa, removed the sling, and Sherlock held John as he wept. Mary had been dead for almost three years, but Sherlock also shed a few tears in her memory. Without her sacrifice, he and John might not be where they were now. They’ve been able to put her death into perspective, and are usually more at ease when memories of her are brought back to the forefront of their lives. This time was a bit different for them.
“It was so sudden. One second, I was reading an email from Harry, the next Rosie’s yelling about fish! I look up, and there are the shark tanks. I could still hear her telling me I was the best thing that ever happened to her. I didn’t believe her then, and I still don’t, but I still feel like shit that she’s gone. Rosie won’t ever know her mother. Sometimes, I think that’s the best thing for her. Having a former assassin for a mother isn’t exactly something most kids wish for, or could deal with in real life. I could still see us both on that floor, her slipping away in front of my eyes, and I was a little relieved when she passed. We weren’t happy. I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t trust her. I was thinking about leaving her, but I never had the chance. I’ve never really forgiven her for all she put us through.” He looked up at Sherlock’s face. “She knew how much losing you gutted me. And she tried to take you away from me again. She was selfish. She never loved me. She loved the idea of having a different life. I was just caught up in it. And Rosie was, too. But she was, is? the mother of my daughter. And I'll always be grateful to her for giving me Rose. But I don’t think I’ll ever forgive her for what she put you and me through. I don’t know why I lost it when I saw that advertisement.” John settled against Sherlock after saying all of that, the invisible weight left his shoulders. If John needed Sherlock to be his therapist, that was what he would get.
“The woman you married, the woman you loved enough to marry and have a child with, died in your arms, John. The circumstance of her death was traumatic. That would cause almost anyone to have PTSD responses to things that would stimulate that sort of memory. People have PTSD regarding situations they’ve had with complete strangers, John. She was your wife. At one point, you loved her. That counts for something larger than how you’re assessing it. You need to stop holding yourself to such a high standard.”
“I’m around you all the time. Your poshness has begun to influence me.” He sat up a bit, but let Sherlock hold him against his chest. The sound of Sherlock’s heartbeat enough to slow his own.
“My level of flawlessness should not be something to which you should aspire. Leave that to the perfect amongst you.” He kissed John’s hair. He spoke softly against it: “Just because you had contention in your relationship does not, and should not, mean that you erase all the good things you’d had with her.”
“I know. I dread having to explain all of this to Rosie one day. She’s going to ask one of us, and I still don’t know what I’m going to say.”
“If you’d like, we could discuss that. Think of ways to tell her about Mary, anecdotes and the like. We’ll most definitely leave the murdering aspect of Mary’s CV out of the conversation until Rosamund is old enough to hear about it.”
“God, I love you.” John kissed Sherlock’s chin and got his right arm around his back and hugged him close. “You know, while the commercial was still playing, I glanced around the flat looking for you.”
“Now you know how I feel when you’re out at the shops without me. I still ask you to throw me a pen on occasion.”
“You’re astonishing. Thank you for all of this. Thank you for not letting me wallow. Sometimes, I just want to be angry about this. There will be times when you won’t be able to pull me from the bottom of this. But tonight, the pep talk, the therapy, the offer to talk about how to handle Rosie when she asks about her mother: You keep me right, too, you know. You always have, but I never told you that before. Going forward, I won't make that mistake anymore."
Sherlock hugged him closer. “I will always do my best to ease your self-recrimination. Sometimes, I won’t succeed. But I will always try.”
John had been cleared by his doctor to begin physio two days before the commercial incident. He visited the therapy office and was able to be seen that same day. The therapist told him his range of motion was fantastic for only being four weeks post-surgery. He was already ahead of schedule! He made future appointments with her, Brianne, and another therapist he knew from various injuries he’d sustained by hanging around with Sherlock, Stephanie, for a fortnight from that date.
Since John was feeling a bit better, he and Sherlock discussed and then decided to go on a family outing; one where John would be able to take a break and sit if he got tired. He was taking fewer naps these days, but the fatigue of his recovery often caught up with him at odd times. Usually in Tesco when he and Sherlock were halfway (or less) finished with their shopping.
Today, though, they had a few brochures on the coffee table describing the places they thought would be fun for Rosie and easy enough for John to get through. On the ballot: The Science Museum, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (Sherlock’s first choice) and, London Zoo.
They were all on the floor around the coffee table, Rosie standing, staring with wide-eyes at the colourful brochures.
“Fishies?” She looked at both of their faces, seeming to remember the advertisement from a few days ago, but not being able to place it.
“Sweetheart, look at this! We could go here and see things about space! The moon and the sun, other planets, stars! Or we could go here and see beautiful flowers and exotic plants! The zoo has so many cool animals! Like the kinds you see in the books we read to you before dinner!”
Her lower lip began to tremble.
Sherlock began tapping at his phone. John glanced back and forth between them, praying Sherlock had another option to avoid a full-on wobbly. After a few seconds, and before she could fall head-first into a complete snit, Sherlock bellowed as he slid the pamphlet for the zoo into her immediate view:
“How about we go here, Rosamund? We can see tigers and pandas and fish, all at the same place!”
She clapped her hands and shrieked with glee. John looked at him with gratitude. Sherlock winked.
London Zoo it was.
Chapter 11, Week Five of Recovery
“Nice to see you again, Harriet.” Sherlock offered his hand. Surprisingly, Harry took it and gave it a sturdy shake.
“Sherlock. Lovely to see you as well.”
John’s sister was the last to arrive at a John-got-good-news-from-the-doctor get-together/‘do. Also huddled in the small flat were Rosie, Mrs. Hudson, Molly, Lestrade, and, astonishingly Mycroft Holmes. John was sat on his own chair; Rosie on his lap. Lestrade, Molly, and Mrs. Hudson were on the sofa. Mycroft stood a few feet from the door, and he looked as though he were contemplating making a break for it.
“I’m so glad you made it, Harry! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you! Rose! Look! It’s Auntie Harry!”
Rosie turned towards the door. “Haweeee!” She tumbled off of John’s lap and ran to the door. She hadn’t seen her Aunt for over six months, but she still remembered her.
Harry went to kneel to greet Rosie properly. “Hello, my little angel! How are you?”
“I good. Papa! Dis my Aun’ Hawee!” She apparently didn’t remember that Sherlock and Harry have met before.
John gasped from across the room. And everyone heard it.
“Your what, Rosie?”
“You my Aun’ Hawee!”
“No, love, who’s this?” She poked Sherlock in the chest. He grimaced at what he was expecting to happen in the next few seconds.
“Dats my papa!”
Harry turned to face John, whose face was an embarrassing shade of pink; even his ears were blushing. She watched John but spoke to Rosie.
“He’s your papa? That’s great, Rosie! When did this happen?”
“I dunno. Fu days! Papa kiss Daddy in kitchen! Dey wuv each uver!”
Harry’s eyes went large but in a somewhat mocking way. “Is that true, John. Do you love Sherlock?” Her tone was anything but ‘somewhat’.
John glanced behind his sister, to see Sherlock’s face. It was an amalgamation of apprehension and fear. Fear?
John spoke softly, as if there was no one else in their sitting room. “Sherlock? Should we tell them?” Sherlock nodded, but he wasn’t breathing.
“Tell us what, dears?”
“Mrs Hudson? Everyone?” John could feel fourteen eyeballs watching him. It should have been disconcerting, but it wasn’t in the slightest. “Sherlock and I have begun a romantic relationship. It’s just started, a few weeks before my surgery, so about two months or so. Things have become more serious, of late. We were waiting for the right time, but I guess there’s never one of those. So. There. Sherlock and I are together.”
Everyone sat stunned for a few seconds. Even Rosie, who had no idea why all the adults had stopped talking. Sherlock started to laugh. That deep, rumbly thing, that often turned into a giggle. It was one of John’s favourites.
“I can’t imagine that any of you are too surprised by this announcement. Most of you have insinuated your thoughts on our relationship at one point of another in the ten years John and I have known each other.”
“I wonder which of us was the first?” Molly offered up to the room.
Mrs. Hudson laughed as she raised her right arm and waved her hand around. “Oh! I think that would be me, dearie!”
“Why do you think you were the first?” asked Greg.
“I asked them if they’d need the room upstairs about three minutes after I met John. I knew John was the reason Sherlock looked so happy that evening. Just instinct, I guess.”
“I wasn’t around to see them together first hand, but the comments they left for each other on John’s blog, it was pretty hard to not see what was happening. I was in the comment threads! I got emails in the beginning before I knew how to turn off the notifications! Then I turned them back on so I could laugh at how ridiculous they were being.” Harry chimed in with a laugh.
“We were not ridiculous!” John and Sherlock shouted simultaneously.
“Wow. Guys, you’re not helping your case, at all.”
“Shut up, Grant!”
John coughed obviously, and Sherlock turned to him. He mouthed Greg’s name, and Sherlock nodded with exasperation.
Lestrade felt the urge to share his two pence. “For me? It was their first case together. The way Sherlock acted when John complimented him. His reactions to it. Donovan and Anderson told me after how they acted on the pavement together before they came in to view the crime scene. John wasn’t taking any shit from those two, and they seemed to just gel from the beginning. I watched them walk away from that first case, so close I almost thought they were holding hands. It was dark, give me a break! There didn’t seem to be any awkwardness in their beginning.”
During the above exchange, Harry was busy messing with her phone. She cleared her throat and proceeded to read aloud:
John, I've only just found this post. I've glanced over it and honestly, words fail me. What I do is an exact science and should be treated as such. You've made the whole experience seem like some kind of romantic adventure. You should have focussed on my analytical reasoning and nothing more.
Sherlock Holmes 28 March 17:46
It's your turn to buy the milk, Sherlock.
John Watson 28 March 18:12
“Those are direct quotes from John’s first blog post after their first case, the twenty-eighth of March, 2010.” Harry seemed to be gloating.
“That proves nothing.” Sherlock did not appreciate that.
Greg deadpanned, “Sherlock, please. You were fighting like a married couple, about milk, no less, two months after your cohabitation. Online, for all of John’s followers to see!”
“It proves that you were skulking about John’s blog and commented on a posting seven weeks after he posted it!” Et tu, Molly?
“Since you have so much to say, when did you know John and I were ‘destined to be together’.” The air quotes were heavily implied but not missed by anyone. Sherlock was trying for nonchalance with a sprinkling of annoyance, but everyone knew he was full of shit. He was encouraging this conversation.
“I think I was a bit blinded by my own affection for you, but when I saw your demeanour during the Moriarity case, and then the fall, I was able to see how much you loved John. You kept so much of yourselves hidden from each other back then. When you called me ‘John’ during the case I helped you with right after you came back.” She stopped looking at Sherlock, as her gaze connected with everyone in the room at least once. “I was standing right there; it wasn’t a slip of the tongue. He heard John’s voice the entire time we were investigating that crime scene. I wasn’t even jealous. I was sad for him, how heartbroken he was that John was so angry with him.”
“I had a right to be.” John readjusted himself in his seat. He fussed with the perfect-as-they-were straps on his sling, as all the eyes in the room shifted to him.
“No one’s saying you didn’t, John. It was just hard for all of us to watch.” Mrs. Hudson gracefully supplied.
“Wonderful. Another country heard from. I thought you’d left, brother mine.”
Mycroft addressed the room: “John was broke and broken when I first met him. I offered him money to spy on my brother, and he flatly refused. I tried to make him uncomfortable, showed him I had notes from his therapy sessions. His loyalty to Sherlock was so sudden, but so very fierce. Nothing I had to say was going to sway him from Sherlock. He was not intimidated by me in any way. That is not a normal occurrence in my daily life.” He turned to Sherlock then: It was very difficult to see you floundering, Sherlock. I do love you, in spite of you saying I do not. It was an arduous affair, watching you pine. That whole wedding planning exercise, I thought, would be your undoing.”
The room fell silent. All involved in the conversation either wringing their hands or staring off, lost in a memory they all (except Mycroft) shared.
“I thought I hid my distress well.” Everyone else was (still) quiet.
“Sherlock. I’m sorry I put you through all of that.”
“I deserved most of it, John. I meant everything I said to you that day. And I still do. You, and now Rosamund, are under my watch, my care. Just as I hope to be yours someday.”
There were wet eyes in the room now, this scenario playing out in an eerily similar manner to that Best Man speech. (Yes. That speech deserved to be capitalised for the rest of eternity.)
“I’ve been caring for you since our first days here together. I had to buy us food; get you to eat it. Sleep once in a while. And I’ll do those things for as long as you’ll let me.”
Sherlock walked to John as if pulled by a string. He leant down and pressed his lips to John’s. “Thank you. For wanting people to know about us.” He spoke against them as he pulled back. John opened his eyes after they parted.
“I’m proud of us. I wish I had been sooner, for both of our sakes. Better late than never, as that saying goes. You’ve got me, you madman. Have for a very long time.” He turned to face the room, and was met with smiling faces, that also glistened with tears. Even Greg appeared to be moved by the spectacle in front of him. Mycroft watched his brother out of the corner of his eye, trying not to let on that he was happy for all involved. Mrs. Hudson saw him, though. Nothing gets passed her.
Time to lighten up the room’s spirit.
"Well, now that you've all gone and wasted anecdotes you should be saving for wedding toasts… can we get back to congratulating me on the good news?!” Everyone decided to move the conversations along to other topics.
John looked over to Sherlock, expecting to see a grin. He saw shock instead. He mouthed, ‘Wedding?’ John just winked at him. Sherlock began to blink.
There was a knock on the flat door, and since the door hadn’t been shut behind Harry, in walked the late invitee, Mike Stamford. “Sorry I’m late, everyone! Got distracted by some paperwork and an intern caught me while I was trying to walk to my car. What’d I miss?”
“Well, apparently, John and Sherlock have ‘been together’ for two months, and the only people who knew about it before today were Molly and Rosie!” exclaimed Harry.
“Daddy wuvs Papa!”
“I. Knew. It!!!!!”
Chapter 12, Week Six of Recovery
John received another bit of good news at his six-week post-operative checkup. He was allowed to take off the sling! He was instructed by his surgeon and her Physician Assistant to do a few things he hadn’t been able to do before, but to not do anything too risky:
“You can help with the shopping, some light tidying of the house. Carry in the shopping with your right arm and hand. No washing up dishes that need a good scrubbing. Nothing heavier than a can of soup should be carried in your left hand. Anything you carry must be held close to your body. You can also sleep without it now, if you think you’ll be comfortable. You may drive. You may exercise, but nothing more than the physical therapist instructed exercises on your surgical side. You will notice some muscle weakness. It is all normal. You’re a doctor, John. You should be the easiest patient when it comes to common sense when coming back from a surgery like this. Do what your therapists tell you. Be careful, and you should be able to hold your daughter on your left hip within the next twelve to sixteen weeks!”
On their way home, John did a bit of what he was allowed to do: He drove them back to the flat, and Rosie was so excited to see him without the sling, she almost pitched a fit when they tried to leave her behind to do some food shopping.
The day progressed as John had hoped it would. He helped Sherlock with a bit of the washing up. He helped him fold the laundry. And he was able to give Rosie a bath (alone) for the first time in six weeks.
It was nearing eight-o’clock. Rosie had been in bed for nearly thirty minutes: her fathers were sat on their chairs, a glass of Lagavulin for John (a gift from an extremely grateful client, meant for Sherlock, but they’ll never know.) and a glass of Felton Road Calvert Pinot for Sherlock. They kept peering at the other over the rims of their glasses. John broke the silence, as Sherlock had hoped he would.
“What’s up? Looks like you’ve something on your mind.”
"Don’t I always?"
“Yeah. All the time actually. But, something seems a bit different with you tonight. You’ve got a look in your eyes. Are you all right?”
"More importantly, are you all right? You’ve had a bit of a big day."
"First, don’t make yourself seem unimportant. I don’t like hearing you speak that way about yourself. Secondly, yeah, I’d have to say I do feel all right. I don’t miss that sling, mind. It’s nice to know if I need it, the doctor told me I could use for a bit if my arm becomes achy. Nice to have a bit of a backup plan if I doing something stupid and hurt myself a bit. I’m just glad I don’t have to ask you to do so much for me as I had been... Driving us home this morning was a treat I was expecting to have to wait for at least a week or so longer.”
"You know it was my pleasure doing all of those things for you."
"I’m most excited to not have to sleep on my back tonight! I must thank you again, for the arrangement you conceived to help me with that."
"I know that you prefer to lie on your stomach or left side. Face to pillow contact is an important element of your being able to fall asleep. You being able to rest was a huge factor in your recovery. I was happy to help."
"You spooned me every night and let me lie against you, you holding me in place so I could lie as close to being on my left side as that bloody sling would allow. You did that for six weeks, Sherlock. You held me still for six weeks so I wouldn’t hurt myself and so I could sleep better."
"Holding you wasn’t exactly a hardship."
"I know how you worried. How you still worry. I’m doing so much better. I took that sling off during the appointment and when she told me I could leave it off, my shoulder almost felt normal again. Until I went to make my first turn with both hands. That sent me right back to Earth. But, you did that. Don’t sell yourself short, Sherlock. WIthout you, and all you did for me, I’d hate to think where I’d be right now. I could put my arms around Rosie today. I missed that from the moment I saw her after my surgery. One-armed hugs are a poor substitute."
"I’ve not received many of those, so I couldn’t really comment."
"Oh no. I just realised. I’ve not hugged you at all, properly, since we started, um, being us. I would like to remedy that immediately, if you don’t mind.” He put his glass of whisky on his tea table and smiled at Sherlock. Sherlock did the same, the base of his wine glass sounded delicate as it tapped against his table. They sat on the edge of their chairs and looked at each other. They weren’t able to hide behind the glasses anymore."
“Come here, Sherlock. I haven’t hugged you in a very long time. And now I can do it adequately."
“Well, that remains to be seen.”
“Get over here, you idiot!”
They stood simultaneously and took a step forward. John tried to lift his arms to go around Sherlock’s shoulders, but a grimace passed over his face. “Nope. Arms will have to go around your waist. Can’t get them up that high, you ostrich!”
"It’s a good thing I won’t stoop to your level and make jokes about your height."
"You just did, you cock."
Sherlock slid his arms around John’s shoulders instead, and John’s settled around SHerlock’s waist.
John pressed his face against Sherlock’s chest, and Sherlock pushed his nose into John’s hair. After an exaggerated inhale from them both:
“How do you always smell so good?” They both asked the other as if they’d rehearsed it.
"I showered this morning. Probably not smelling as nice as I did then…"
“You smell nice because you’re you. You smell like John.” Sherlock kissed his hair. John pressed himself in closer, tightening his arms around Sherlock as well as his shoulder would allow.
“Same goes for you, ya know. All your posh products in the shower can’t hide your Sherlocky-ness. That ‘thing’ that’s inherently you.”
“Weird that we’re talking about how we smell. It’s nice, though. That we’re beyond all the ridiculous shit we did to censor ourselves, before.”
“Is your arm all right?”
“More than.” Sherlock pushed his neck back a bit and looked down at John’s face. Half of his mouth was curved into a smile.
“Sherlock? If you’d like to, I’d like you to take me to bed.”
“Are you sure? You just got out of the sling ten hours ago.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this sure about anything before. And that’s after our first time showering together.” John winked at him. Sherlock smiled in return.
“I would like to freshen up before...before whatever it is we’re about to do.”
“I’ll go first, and while you’re in there, I’ll gather up some things for us, yeah?”
John kissed his nose and stepped out of Sherlock’s embrace. “I’ll be out in a few ticks, okay?” And with that, he turned and headed for the loo.
Sherlock stood, rooted to the floor in front of his own chair. ‘Well, this is certainly a turn-up.’ Sherlock thought silently, ‘Didn’t expect the evening to take this turn.’ He stood there for the duration of John’s shower, which was only six minutes. John walked into view and stood under the arch of the kitchen entrance.
“All done, if you’re ready to get in there!”
“Yes. All right.” As he jogged past John, John let out a guffaw.
“I’m not going anywhere, Sherlock! No need to sprint! I’ll meet you in bed.”
Sherlock stayed in the loo for fifteen minutes until he felt comfortable enough to go into the bedroom. True to his word, John was already in bed. He glanced over to the night table to John’s right, and saw a bottle of lubricant, a package of Rosie’s nappy wipes, and a box of tissues. Sherlock stood and stared at the items while draped in his burgundy dressing gown.
“Oh. Sherlock. I love you in that. Your skin. It looks so beautiful against that colour. As much as I love seeing you in it, I would really love to see you out of it. Come here, love.” John patted the side of the bed he wasn’t occupying and lifted the duvet. He was already undressed. Sherlock gulped. As he walked towards the bed, he removed the dressing gown and hung it up on the hook on their door. He slipped beneath the sheets and duvet and turned to face John.
“So, here’s what I was thinking while you were in the shower: we’ve both been recently tested, me, right before my surgery, and you, a few months ago when we weren’t sure about your iron levels. We’re both negative for any STDs. We can forgo a condom if you’d like. If not, I may still have some upstairs in my night table. I’m also thinking this time, because of my shoulder, I would love it if you would be the penetrating partner. I can be here on my back. That should eliminate any possibility of me re-injuring myself. Does that sound all right to you?”
Sherlock nodded with surprising enthusiasm and John had to laugh.
“Could I just? Hold you for a few minutes? I haven’t been able to do that since all of this started and I just want you in my arms for a bit, yeah?”
Sherlock nodded and pushed himself towards John who opened his arms. “Oh. That’s the stuff. Let me hold onto you for a little while okay?” John’s right hand went up and down Sherlock’s back as his left found its way to Sherlock’s hair. The hand on Sherlock’s backstopped on its trail, feeling the raised lines of Sherlock's scars. Luckily, Sherlock couldn’t see his face. That was something they definitely need to talk about. But not right now. This was not the time for what was sure to be a gut-wrenching conversation. They laid that way for a short time, John sensing Sherlock’s apprehension as soon as he’d stepped into the bedroom. Sherlock relaxed in his arms as he kissed John’s neck and cheek. John kissed his forehead and scratched tenderly across Sherlock’s scalp. They went on that way for a bit until John could feel Sherlock’s erection poking his belly.
“Come with me this way, yeah?” John put his left hand at Sherlock’s nape and pushed against it and scooped Sherlock towards and then on top of his chest. Sherlock bent his neck and kissed John’s chest.
“Fast learner.” John arched his neck.
“You can learn a lot by watching porn on the internet. I hope I’m able to apply some of what I learned for you tonight.”
“You did research? Also, I’m not the only person here. We’re both doing this, so you need to be enjoying yourself as well. No pressure on yourself, okay?”
“How else would I know what to do?”
“We’re going to be talking the whole time, you know. You don’t have to worry about that. You being here right now is awe-inspiring enough.”
“I want this to be good for you, John. You’ve been saddled with someone with zero experience in these matters.”
"I’m not saddled or stuck or whatever nonsense you’re psyching yourself out with. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never been in this position before.”
“Never? You’ve never been with a man?”
“I have, but not like this, no. There’ve been other activities, but not this act in particular.”
“So, this is a first for the both of us then.”
They just stared into the other’s eyes. “You can kiss me, you know. No need for shyness. Your dick is pressing into my belly. I think we’re past all that.”
Sherlock surged forward and softly licked at John’s mouth. He opened his mouth to laugh at Sherlock’s eagerness, and Sherlock was nipping at John’s tongue and using his own to inelegantly explore John’s mouth. John smiled against Sherlock’s mouth. “Hang on, hang on. Slow down a bit!” He brought his right hand to Sherlock’s cheek. No rushing. Let’s slow things a little, all right?”
Sherlock blushed. “Here, just push your lips to mine, okay? I’ll show you something here. Probably the last time I’ll know more about something than you for the rest of my life.” John settled himself back against his pillow. He moved his hand from Sherlock’s face and curled his index finger. “Get down here. I need that pretty mouth on mine, immediately!”
Sherlock did as John said. After a few chaste presses of lips, John traced Sherlock’s bottom lip with his tongue. Sherlock bucked against him. John’s left hand went to Sherlock’s lower back and slid back and forth, helping him to further relax. John continued the kiss, but began to nip and his lips. The flood of sensations were very new to Sherlock, and he began to rut against John’s stomach. By this point, John was already hard, but he wanted to make sure Sherlock was loosened up enough to proceed.
“Oh, John. This feels so good.”
“Are you all right, sweetheart? I’m ready to keep going if you are.”
“I am more than fine, John. Is your shoulder okay?”
“I am absolutely wonderful down here.”
“Can we, you know…? He gave a slow thrust, his hard cock dragging across John’s pubic hair and belly.
“I’ve been ready for that for a very long time! Grab the lube and get a bit on your index finger for me.”
Sherlock reached across John and brought the lube between them, opened the cap and poured a bit onto his forefinger. John planted his feet and spread his legs for Sherlock. “Take one of those beautiful fingers of yours, and massage me a bit and then press inside when you think the muscle is relaxed enough, okay?”
“Please tell me if I hurt you.”
“You’ll be the first to know.” Sherlock pinched his right knee. Then kissed it for good measure.
John laid back and waited. Slowly, Sherlock brought his slippery finger to John’s hole and rubbed it in slow circles. John moaned at the sensation, which only gave Sherlock confidence. After a minute of rubbing and massaging, John spoke up. “Get a little more lube and I think I’ll be ready for your finger to go inside. Just slick me a bit on the inside, and smear a bit around the hole and we should be all ready.”
Sherlock swallowed hard enough that John heard it. “I’m waiting.” he sing-songed. That made Sherlock laugh. He poured a bit more lube onto his finger, rubbed his finger in three more circles and slowly pushed inside. John’s breath caught in his chest. “Holy. Holy shit. Oh. Sherlock. That feels so good. Keep going. There’s plenty of lube on your finger. Get me nice and wet for you, love.” Sherlock pushed forward and dragged his finger inside John’s snug heat. John writhed as Sherlock watched, making sure John didn’t strain his shoulder and that he himself wasn’t hurting him. After a few moments, John managed to speak:
“Okay. I am so ridiculously ready for this to proceed. Slick yourself up, and put a bit on me, okay? Your belly is going to be rubbing against me and we don’t need any sparks.”
John heard the squirting sound he’d be anxiously awaiting. Then, Sherlock’s hand was on him, and oh shit was that nice. “A couple of strokes; if we need more, the bottle’s right there beside us.”
He heard another squirt and heard Sherlock sigh. That was the first time he’s touched himself since they started. Sherlock pushed himself between John’s knees and kissed each one. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to John’s erection and it twitched in response.
“For ages. Go ahead. You’re not going to hurt me.”
John felt the head of Sherlock’s cock press against him. He inhaled a long breath, and Sherlock deduced what he was doing. Of course he did. Sherlock pushed inside as John exhaled and he whined. It was a lovely sound.
“Sherrrrlock! Oh, Oh shit.” Sherlock was motionless, he just looked down at John as if in a state of catatonia. He held John’s knees under his shoulders and stayed as still as he was able.
“Now just lie back and think of England.”
“Give me a, oh fuck. A sec to, uh. Oh. This is fantastic. She will be the very last thing I’ll think about, by the way.” John could only smile up at him. Another deep breath and then: “Are you all right?”
Sherlock nodded, but he looked flustered. “Are you? All right?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been better in my entire life. One thing is wrong, however.”
“Oh! Do I need to get us more lube? Get you a pillow for your shoulder?”
“If you move from inside of me right now, I’ll never forgive you. What I need, is a kiss. Get down here this instant. Let me get my legs around you. If you can, get your arms under me and we can hold each other while we do this, yeah?”
Sherlock looked relieved once more; John was guiding him, as was their modus operandi. Sherlock leant forward and helped John get his legs around Sherlock’s lower back and bum.
“Oh, that’s even better. I didn’t think this could get better thirty seconds ago, but I was wrong. Get that beautiful mouth on mine this instant!” Sherlock obliged, embracing his lips against John’s, in a kiss that was more virtuous than this moment could have predicted.
Sherlock slid his arms under John’s back and John tightened his legs around Sherlock.
“You can move now, love. When you’re ready.” John got his right arm around SHerlock’s back and pulled him tighter to his body; his left hand on Sherlock’s nape. He slipped his fingers in the dark curls there and played with his hair until Sherlock found himself again.
Sherlock tightened his arms around John’s torso and pushed his mouth to John’s left shoulder. He mouthed against the three scars there, kissed them all, and moaned John’s name as he began to thrust.
“John. John. John.” He continued to press uncoordinated kisses to John’s injured shoulder. As he became more comfortable, his hips began a lovely rhythm.
“I know, love. I know. I love you, Sherlock.”
Sherlock mewled against John’s neck as he pressed clumsy kisses wherever he could reach. John’s chest; his neck; his other shoulder; his open, gasping mouth. John’s ankles made their way to Sherlock’s ass, pushing Sherlock further inside. Their current position wasn’t stimulating John’s prostate, but Sherlock’s stomach sliding blissfully up and down his cock was enough. That and the sounds Sherlock was making.
John could feel the scars again on Sherlock’s back as his right hand flitted across the injured expanse of flesh. Sherlock lifted his head and looked at John, realisation finally hitting him. They’d never had this conversation. Sherlock had made it a point of keeping this from him. He never walked around the flat shirtless after he came home from Serbia. Even during the last few months, even while sleeping together in the same bed, Sherlock made sure to never expose his back to John. He wore a t-shirt every night and never changed in front of him. Even during their liaison in the shower, Sherlock never revealed his back.
John’s hand on the back of Sherlock’s nape pushed at his neck, pressing him as close as they could be. John whispered as Sherlock resumed thrusting:
"I see you, Sherlock. I see everything you are and everything you've done for me."
Sherlock sped up his pace. John’s ankles locked behind Sherlock.
“Come on, Sherlock. Harder, love. Take what you need but give me all that you can.”
Sherlock began to snap his hips as John’s cock began to weep from its tip. Sherlock was panting against John’s shoulder, no longer able to coordinate his mouth to kiss at John’s body.
"Look at me. You're bloody lovely, Sherlock. You’re breathtaking. You snatch the breath from my lungs every time I look at you. We are so lovely together.”
John could swear he saw tears in Sherlock’s eyes. He was blessedly quiet about that.
John laid there, holding Sherlock in his arms and he started to laugh. Sherlock felt him. He swallowed four times before he was able to speak.
“This is your fault.”
“I’m thinking of The Queen, and it’s your fault.” Sherlock completely lost his rhythm and began to chortle
“You have to be able to laugh during sex. Funny shit can happen.”
“I’m trying to concentrate, here. You’re distracting me.”
“You’ve been distracting me for years. Okay. Stop it now. No more giggling.”
“This isn’t a crime scene, John.”
“Not yet, it isn’t.”
John clenched around Sherlock and smiled at him, a wicked curve to his lips.
“Do. That. Again.”
So John did. Sherlock growled.
He resumed thrusting, and after less than a minute, the pace was becoming uncoordinated and erratic.
“It’s okay. I’m so close, too. Keep going. That’s it, love.”
Sherlock moved his left arm out from under John’s back and pushed it under his neck. He brought his forehead to John’s and he opened his eyes and exclaimed “John!” as he spasmed and released inside John. He kept rocking inside him, pushing his belly against John’s cock.
“John. Please come. Please.”
John was never able to deny Sherlock anything. After the fourth thrust, John shook apart under Sherlock, in Sherlock’s arms, his release painting his belly and chest, as well as Sherlock’s. Sherlock slid forward and back a few more times, trying to extend John’s pleasure as well as his own. They gasped when they became oversensitive. John set his legs down beside SHerlock’s hips and Sherlock reluctantly separated himself from John and laid down on his back next to John’s right side.
They laid there together while they rested to catch their breath. John reached for and found Sherlock’s left hand, and tangled their fingers together. He grasped it tightly and brought their hands to his mouth and kissed each of Sherlock’s fingers.
“That was, for lack of a better word, amazing.”
“I’ll never tire of you saying that word to me when using it to describe something I’ve done. My first choice for a word to describe what just transpired would be miraculous, but to each their own.”
“Hey, now! It wasn’t just you! Don’t get obnoxious. We were pretty fucking miraculous.”
“That we were.”
“We ARE miraculous, Sherlock. We have been this whole time but weren't ready. But we are now. This? Us? It’s going to be tough, but we’ve proven to be tougher than just about everything that’s ever been thrown at us. We’ve got this.”
“I’ve got you and you’ve got me.”
“There’s nothing else that I need.”
“I could use a few of those nappy wipes, though.” Sherlock chuckled and then stretched for the night table and brought the package to the bed and dropped it between them. He reached inside and pulled out several of them and began to wipe off John’s torso with his right hand while lying on his left side.
“I don’t want to ask and ruin the moment, and I’m not sure if I should even say it now.”
“If you’re having reservations, it’s probably best not to bring that up now.”
“Of course you knew what I was going to say.”
“And of course you should know that by now.”
“I’m just concerned.”
“No need. It happened long ago and very far away from here.”
“While you were away?”
“Were you tortured, Sherlock?”
“Christ. You were.”
“You cannot feel guilt over a situation over which you had no control. I could not bring you with me. I wanted to. So many times I spoke to you while I was gone. Knowing you were here, safe and breathing?...that made all that happened to me a worthwhile endeavour.”
“May I? Can I see your back? Please?”
Sherlock sighed. “I suppose this is going to happen at some point in the next fifty years. All right.”
John turned to his right side and Sherlock did the same. John laid his head on Sherlock’s pillow and took in the sight of something that he never expected to see.
“Oh, sweetheart. Oh no.” John’s left hand drifted over the raised lines and then suddenly stopped. He pressed his front to Sherlock’s back and draped his left arm across Sherlock’s belly.
“If you ever want to talk about it, I want to hear about it, but only if you want to. I will never force you to talk about it. Thank you, for everything. I meant what I said before, about seeing you. Seeing everything you’ve done for me.
“You’ve got me and I’ve got you.”
“So you were listening earlier.”
“I always listen to you, John.”
“That’s good to know. So listen up then: rest against me tonight. Let me hold you the way you held me for so long these last few weeks.”
Sherlock didn’t need to be convinced. John kissed the back of Sherlock’s neck and pulled him tighter to his chest. He settled in John’s embrace and sighed contentedly. “You’re like a giant house cat.” John tangled their legs together. “There you go. We need some rest now.”
And they did.
Nine hours later, John awoke lying on his back with most of Sherlock draped across him, his back resting against the right side of John’s chest and between his right arm and side. He was snoring. The sun was beginning its morning ascent and John could see the room turning pink and orange. A song came to him then, and as he held Sherlock, and watched the sunrise over the pale walls of their bedroom, he smiled and hummed himself back to sleep.
Sherlock woke on his back. He didn’t feel John’s presence in the room, so he sleepily dragged his arm and hand across the bed. His fear was confirmed. The bedclothes were still warm, so John hadn’t been gone for long. As he blinked himself to consciousness, he could hear music. He held his breath and listened. John was humming something in the kitchen, while he made, what sounded like coffee.
“Do do do do. Hm hm hm hm hm hm. It’s all right.” In between the words he was singing and humming, Sherlock could also here John puttering about; getting the mugs down from the cupboard. The utensil drawer opened, a jostling of metal. A spoon for Sherlock’s sugar. The drawer was closed more gently than it was used to. He tried to place the song John was crooning. After several seconds of replaying the sounds he’d heard John make, he had his ‘Aha!’ moment.
He queued the song up on his phone as he heard John tinking the spoon around in Sherlock’s mug. He got out of bed and slipped on the dressing gown he’d hung on the back of the bedroom door last evening. He opened the door as John was walking down the hall, still humming, his phone still in his hand.
“Good morning!” He noticed Sherlock’s phone. “Case? Lestrade? Kind of early for Lestrade to be texting, but the criminal class doesn’t keep to regular business hours, I suppose.”
“No. No case, not Lestrade. I’d like you to dance with me.” John nearly dropped the mugs.
“Sherlock, it’s seven in the morning.”
Sherlock starts the song. “That coffee is too hot to drink just yet. By the time the song is over, we should be less likely to burn ourselves.”
Sherlock opened his arms. John set the mugs down on the night table and let himself be held as they swayed. Here comes the sun, indeed.
Chapter 13, Week Seven of Recovery
“I can help out a bit now. I promise.”
They’re all crowded in the Holmes’ kitchen. Mr. and Mrs., Sherlock, John, and Rosie. Mr. Holmes made them all dinner, and, as per their agreement, Mrs. Holmes is doing the dishes.
“John! You’re our guest! You sit down this instant and let me handle the washing up!” Mrs. Holmes was adamant, shaking her right index finger at him.
“I’ve been a guest here for five days, and you’ve yet to let me help! My physical therapists said it was all right, as long as I don’t get involved with dishes that need a lot of scrubbing. Too much pressure on the shoulder joint for where I am in my recovery. But I can handle that!”
Dinner had been kedgeree for the grown-ups, and macaroni and cheese with fish fingers for Rosie (She had a forkful of the kedgeree and didn’t make a sour face. Success.)
After a rather uneventful train ride, John, Sherlock, and Rosie visited Sherlock’s parents in Hastings for most of the last week. Mrs. Holmes showed Rosie the garden, in which a few areas had been planted with her in mind. “See, my Primrose” I planted these because of your name! They’re called Primrose, just like the nickname I’ve given you! I just wish they were as lovely as you!”
Tonight was their last night there. They’d already cancelled one of John’s physio appointments so they could stay two additional days, and they were hesitant to cancel the one scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
Rosie was in the living room, playing with the toys Sherlock’s parents bought just for her visits there. Unfortunately, they visited so infrequently, the toys were almost new to her. After this visit, they all hoped visiting there, and back in London, would be a common occurrence. John and Sherlock asked if they could come down to visit the week before, wanting to tell them both in person about their new relationship. And to tell them one thing they’ve been bothered by for many years.
The easy part of the extended weekend happened on their first full day. They’d been on a nearby beach, Rosie between Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, dipping their toes in the sea as it lapped at the shore. John and Sherlock trailed behind them, at what they thought was a safe distance. They held hands as they watched Rosie, as she ran towards and then away from the rolling waves, squealing in delight. The bank of The Thames would never be good enough for her again. Mr. Holmes turned to see where his youngest boy had managed to get to and he saw what he’d never dared hoped for: his boy, in the arms of someone he loved, be kissed and held on the beach he played on as a child. He tapped his wife’s arm and jerked his head behind them. Mrs. Holmes squealed louder than Rosie had a few moments before. She jumped in the air in glee and leant down to pick up Rosie and spun her around as well. The trio all turned to see John and Sherlock holding each other while stealing glances between the horizon and each other’s faces. Their detective senses tingled: They felt eyes on them and turned to see the rest of their family dabbing at their eyes, Rosie bouncing on Mrs. Holmes’ hip. “Daddy ‘n Papa kissin’!” Mr. and Mrs. Holmes just stared at Rosie, her declaration stunned them both. She looked as confused by all the fuss as they looked surprised. The jig was up.
There were hugs and tears and details of how they finally ended up together.
“I knew it. I could see it on his face that afternoon when you came to visit Sherlock after he’d come home. His face when he saw you, John; I’ve never seen that look on his face before. I’ve never seen him look at someone like that. I’ve never heard him speak of someone as fondly and he has of you and now your little girl.”
John glanced at Sherlock who nodded.
“We discussed this before we left home for this visit. I wanted you both to know...We’ve never told you because it never seemed to be the right time. And as time passed, it was harder and harder to bring it up and discuss it properly. But, before Sherlock and I take things further; at least as far as I’d like to take them...When Sherlock was shot; we both know who it was.”
Sherlock bows his head. This is John’s story to tell.
“It was. Mary. My wife, Mary. She shot him.”
“Mary? Your Mary? Shot my boy?” Mrs. Holmes sat back against her chair, her hands squeezing the armrests.
John laughed, but there was no frivolity in it.
“I don’t know if she was ever mine. Her name wasn’t even Mary. It was Rosamund. That’s why the little one has that name.” Mr. Holmes sat ramrod straight as John spoke and Sherlock continued to look at the floor.
“She almost took him from both of you and Mycroft and Eurus. She almost took him from me! I wanted you both to know that it was her before I ask you a question. I want Sherlock to be her father. I want him to stand beside me and raise her. I would be honoured if you’d consider being her grandparents.”
“That woman was in my house. Sat on that sofa Rosie is sitting on right now. My boy was shot and he sat in this kitchen, the first time he was able to travel so far from home after his recovery, and she sat under the roof of our home as if nothing was amiss.”
Sherlock decided to speak up.
“She did what she thought she had to do to remain with John. While most of you deem her actions unforgivable, I made peace with her decision. She was backed into a corner and made a bad choice. By harming me, she alienated John further than the truth of her situation ever could. One of the few times Mary made a mistake so grave.”
“She almost put you in a grave, Sherlock!” The subject was still a poorly healed wound. Sherlock thought it would always be prone to be scratched open to bleed for the rest of their lives.
“I still maintain that her final act was one made in atonement. Though she never verbally apologised for her error in judgement, she carried guilt for what she did to me. To us. To you, especially, John. She made that clear to me during her last moments.”
John shook his head as the appalling memories conjured themselves in his mind.
“If, at any point, you both decide that you are willing, to put as much of the situation aside as you’re able to, she and I would be truly honoured and blessed to have you as part of her family.”
“Not to diminish what you’ve both just told us, but I believe I can speak for my wife when I say we’ve always considered Rosie to be a part of this family as soon as she was born. Our boy loved that girl as if she was his own from the moment he met her. Don’t concern yourself with the formalities, John.”
“I’m a bit hurt that you didn’t tell us about this sooner. But I suppose I can understand it a bit. This is going to be difficult to keep from the little one as she gets older. She’s bound to start asking questions about her mother sooner rather than later. I hope you boys have put a bit of thought to what you plan on telling her when the time comes.”
“To be honest, we’d love to discuss that with the two of you, if you’re up to hearing the story.”
“Have we still that bottle of wine in the cellar, dear? I think we might be needing it tonight.”
Mr. Holmes brought up two bottles, just in case.
After putting Rosie to bed, they spent the next three hours in the living room, in front of a crackling fire, detailing who (they thought) Mary was before John met her. They told Sherlock’s parents why Mary was reluctant to tell John about her previous life and how that fear led her to shoot Sherlock. John told them that the longer he stayed with Sherlock during his recovery, the more difficult the prospect of returning to her became. Sherlock explained how he told John to try to forgive her, to try and make things work for their child. They reached for each other and then found their hands in a tight grip. Mrs. Holmes wiped her eyes during that part of the story, as she watched the two men on the sofa speak of their difficulties during those times. How heartbreaking it must have been for Sherlock to tell John to leave him and go back to the woman who hurt him so grievously.
“She died on the floor, in front of me, and then in my arms, as sharks swam around us. Looking back on that, the sharks now seem apropos. A bit of a homage to the shark that swam into my path and preyed on me and those I loved. The only things I can say about Mary, with any positivity? She kept me alive long enough for him to return.” He shoved his right shoulder into Sherlock good-naturedly and continued: “She also gave me, us, all of us, Rosie. As far as I’m concerned, the best parts of her and I made Rosie. Mary took that bullet to save him. I hope she did it for me, but I’ll never know that for sure. I think she did it for herself, as well. She told us, posthumously, if you can believe that, that she knew what Sherlock and I could become when she was gone. She wasn’t all wrong. I just wish it hadn’t taken us so long to get here.” He put his arm around Sherlock in an act of supporting love that stunned the elder Holmes’. Sherlock let himself be pulled to John’s side and rested his head on the proffered shoulder. Mary’s death devastated them both, but for very different reasons; reasons they were both still trying to understand.
Both bottles of wine were consumed by the end of that evening. All four of them hugged each other before heading off to bed. Mrs. Holmes patting John’s cheek in confirmation of their unspoken familial intentions. He kissed her on the forehead, then hugged Mr. Holmes in thanks; for their support, understanding, and now, their love. Rosie just acquired, her very own grandparents, whether officially or not. That day may come for them all.
They made their way to their bedrooms. Sherlock and John had a peek at Rosie before retiring. They brushed their teeth side-by-side and changed into pyjamas and crawled into bed and laid together, face-to-face, under the bedclothes.
Their eyes held the other’s gaze for a few minutes, the moon shining through the gauze curtains. Sherlock cleared his throat, breaking the silence in the room: “I used to try so hard. I remembered things people told me. Names of their family members; their birthdays; things they liked and disliked. No one seemed to remember those things about me. Initially, I tried to not deduce people. I learned early on that that put people off. I turned off a part of myself, and no one seemed to notice that part of me was no longer shining. They just seemed relieved to not be under my deductive gaze.
“I grew tired of breaking off pieces of myself and giving them away and no one ever giving me any part of themselves in return. There are parts of me that, I fear, will always be incomplete. Every time I snapped off a piece of myself, there were fissures and cracks left behind. You’ve been the glue that’s mended me, John. I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t met you. I owe Mike Stamford a great debt.” Sherlock inhaled sharply, trying to keep the growing wetness from spilling from his eyes.
John’s face broke instead. “Come here, Sherlock.”
Sherlock shimmied across the bed into John’s arms. “I wish I could say I didn’t understand where you were coming from. I was invisible in my family. Harry came out and all my parents and she ever did after that was fight. Invisibility in your own life is a hard thing to overcome. Especially when that continued into adulthood. I always had a problem with being able to look forward because people never looked back. They moved on with their life, and never gave me a second glance as they walked away from me. I was always a stepping stone to something better, something greater than I could ever be for someone else.”
Sherlock pressed his forehead against John’s neck:
“I’ve never had this before I met you. The way your eyebrow raises when I’ve said something that surprises you. The smile and eye roll when I say just what you’ve expected. I’ve never been known, cared enough about, to incite a reaction. You’ve never been indifferent, always perceptive and aware of me. Like no one has ever been before or since I met you.
My windscreen had always been broken, but the rear-view mirror had always remained intact. I couldn’t see the future through the darkness of my past. But now? All I can see is straight ahead. I don’t want to look back anymore. At least not at the bad things. I know that isn’t realistic, but I want to try to look forward to our future, all it can be.”
“What it WILL be, Sherlock. You’ve my word on that.” Sherlock settled in John’s embrace and let out a sigh.
“You know what I’ve just realised? John was surprised by something.
“What’s that?” Sherlock had been drifting off to sleep, drowsy on the smell of John filling his nose. He dragged that nose against John’s Adam’s apple.
“I’ve never properly thanked Mike. For introducing us.”
Sherlock stirred with his own realisation. “I owe him, too. More than I’ve ever told him.”
“I think we owe Mike a night out, our treat. As a thank you, don’t you think?”
“I wish I’d have thought of it myself.” They settled together after that, a decision reached. The silvery-gold moon painted the room in peace.
(I took a bit of creative liberty with the flowers they see during their excursion. The flower wouldn’t have been in bloom at the time of year they were there, but for fun’s purpose, I said it was.)
Chapter 14, Week Eight of Recovery
“Do you think you can do five more?”
“If you keep your hand on my shoulder blade, I can. The heat from your hand is helping.” John is at home, lying on his belly, his left arm hanging off the side of the bed. Sherlock is kneeling on the floor, his right hand supporting John’s left shoulder blade.
“Fuck, this exercise hurts like hell and back.” He’s already done ten, but he’s supposed to do fifteen. He bites his bottom lip and presses down on it, as he performs the range of motion exercise.
“Three more, John, and you’re done. Almost there.” Sherlock is watching John’s face for a tell; to see if he should have John stop or bear down and keep going. John’s trying very hard not to let the pain show on his face. Instead of verbalising his pain, he said:
“Instead of being a detective, you should have been a physical therapist or a masseuse.”
“I doubt that would’ve worked out very well for me, given my aversion to touching other people.”
“A shame, that. You have wonderful hands, Sherlock. You have a very soft touch, when you want to.” John sighed as he finished off the last of that set of exercises.
Sherlock smiled at the compliment and rubbed his hand, with a bit of pressure, along John’s shoulder blade. He’s been making great strides with his therapy. According to his therapists, he’s meeting or exceeding all the normal expectations of his surgical recovery. Sherlock’s went to as many of John’s sessions as he’d been able. He watched the therapists and asked questions. They even showed him a few at home that he could help John with. This was John’s favourite:
John flipped to his back, his feet by his pillows, as he waited for Sherlock to spin the lid off of the vitamin E cream. Sherlock helped him work his arm out of his sweatshirt to expose his shoulder. It was time to moisturise and loosen the scar tissue. Sherlock dabbed his finger in the jar and rubbed the cream into all six of John’s incisions. John tried, but failed, to contain the moans that escaped his mouth. Sherlock’s warm, strong hand, massaged the lotion into John’s still traumatised surgical area. Sherlock paid particular attention to the three scars at the front of John’s shoulder and the pectoral/deltoid area. During his procedure, John’s surgeon had to spend extra time repairing his completely torn labrum. The muscular damage from the procedure to that area was rather extensive. The scar tissue and continued inflammation there could still be felt by his therapists eight weeks post-surgery.
Sherlock spent a few minutes massaging John, as John’s eyes closed and he sighed. Sherlock saw him settle and then turn his head to face him.
“You’re remarkable, you know.”
“I’m just giving you your reward for doing your therapy. Twice a day you do the work, twice a day you get this.”
“Stop diminishing what I’m saying. You’re fantastic. I don’t say it enough, so I’m going to say it all the time.”
“Well. Don’t let me stop you.”
“I know how much you like it when I do.”
Sherlock blushed, just like John expected.
(I took a bit of creative liberty with the flowers they see during their excursion. The flower wouldn’t have been in bloom at the time of year they were there, but for fun’s purpose, I said it was.)
“Sir! You’re not allowed to touch the exhibit!”
“Oh, dear! I’m so sorry! She just wanted to see if the petals were soft or not! My apologies!”
Sherlock pulled Rosie up to his chest: “Did you get it, Rosamund?”
“Yup! Got it, Papa!”
“Have you just made our daughter complicit in a crime?”
The three of them were having an outing at the KEW Gardens . Rosie had been wandering towards some lovely, dark-purple bell-shaped flowers. Almost like she was on a mission.
Sherlock had her snap a Fritillaria meleagris off of its stem and stuff it in her pocket.
“John, that flower contains a genome fifteen times larger than a humans! I have to see what it look like on a microscope’s stage! Thank you, Watson!” Sherlock kissed her forehead and then her cheek.
“‘wacomb, Daddy!” She patted her palms against his cheeks and tugged at the hair hanging over his ears. Daddy. Daddy? Sherlock was dumbfounded. He looked over at John who’d seemingly forgotten about the flower.
“It’s all right, Sherlock. I love that she loves you as much as she loves me. I would never discourage her love for you.”
Sherlock’s phone buzzed, saving him for the emotional turmoil he was about to needlessly put himself through. He shifted Rosie to his left hip to retrieve it from his coat pocket.
“It’s Lestrade. He’s got something for us.” He looked at John with apprehension, but hope. They haven’t been to a live scene in over nine weeks.
"What’s he say about it? What rating would he give it?"
“He said a five. Body is fresh. SOCO is almost finished with the scene. They should be done around the time we’d arrive.”
John looked pointedly at Rosie as she obliviously toyed with Sherlock’s hair.
“We could hand her off to Lestrade for a few minutes? He has child-rearing experience. She seems to not hate him when he comes around to deliver us cold case files.”
John looked like he wanted to say yes. He really did. Much like the night of their first case. Sherlock watched as John’s face showed all the thoughts in his head; as he searched for any reason why he shouldn’t go to the scene with Sherlock.
“I think you’re ready, John. There’s little to no danger involved. You don’t have to worry about a chase or a scuffle. Just you and me and what we do best.”
“I think detecting might be the second best thing we do together. You have been present for all of our sexual encounters, have you not?” Sherlock could only laugh at that, thankful that Rosie wouldn’t be able to understand what they were talking about. At least for another year or so.
“Come with me. Please?”
“At the first hint of danger, we leave. We’ll have her with us and I’m not up to snuff right now. Might not ever be again.”
Sherlock actually hopped on his feet as John worked to convince himself to go along. He daren’t interrupt.
“I mean it. The first HINT. We go and let Lestrade and his team handle it.”
“Yes! Of course! Rosamund! How would you like to go an adventure with us this afternoon?”
“Nope! Not an adventure. Not even close!”
“Watson? How would you like to go on a really boring case with us?” He said it in such a way as one might to a pet to make them do something they’d regret doing. As long as the tone is positive they’re usually up for it. Rosie turned out to be no different.
John turned to walk towards the exit, and Sherlock jogged to catch up with him, high-fiving Rosie behind John’s back.
They arrived at the scene twenty-three minutes later. SOCO was just finishing up as Lestrade had predicted. Rosie toddled over to Greg after he’d yelled “Hello!” at the three of them.
“Hello, my darling! You and your dads doing all right today?”
“We wuz wookin at fwowers!”
"We took her to Kew Gardens. She seemed to have enjoyed herself."
"If you get a report of a stolen flower, can you make it disappear? Sherlock involved my daughter in the theft of a scientifically important flower."
"I thought she was our daughter."
"After that stunt, she’s mine for the rest of the day.”
Greg laughed at the absurdity of the picture their story painted. He gripped Rosie's hand and led her away from the scene so his consulting detectives could get to work. He was sure the version of events she was about to tell him would vary greatly from her parents’.
John took in a large breath and exhaled it with force. Sherlock circled the body, not missing a beat. John stood back from him, watching him hover. To be able to observe Sherlock at work was always something special, but after the last two months, he’s shown no ill effects of being case-less.
Sherlock crouched next to the corpse and pulled a set of gloves from his pocket. He ran a finger across the victim’s face and glanced past John and then right back to the body.
“John! Come here for a moment, please!”
John walked towards the body and stood next to and then crouched next to Sherlock.
“What do we have?”
“Don’t be obvious, but would you mind looking across the street? A young woman, light hair, jeans, tight jumper, open coat. She’s been here since we arrived. Hasn’t moved from the spot."
“Could just be a gawper, Sherlock.”
“Or she could have information. Or be the killer. We should go talk to her.”
John didn’t even look up before saying succinctly, “Nope.”
“Just talking! No chasing! No danger.”
“Did you not hear me earlier? I know you were excited about your flower caper being successful, and then you were presented with your first case in over two months. I said no.”
“But, John, there’s absolutely no…”
“Sherlock. Rosie is here with us. I’ve been out of that sling for two weeks. I can’t lift a gallon of milk with my left side yet. If she is involved, and she runs, you’re going to want to chase her. She may still have the weapon used to create this case. I don’t fancy getting stabbed tonight. I’d rather you didn’t, either. And I’d really rather not have either of us explaining what happened to the other to Rosie. I’m sure that conversation is coming, but I’d rather it be after I’m able to hold her in my arms again without you helping me.”
Sherlock lowered his head. To the woman across the street, it would most likely appear that John shared something and he was further investigating John's theories.
“Stay with me, please?
Sherlock stood, peeled off his gloves and pulled his phone from his pocket. He tapped at it for a few seconds and waited. John looked at him, completely perplexed. A few seconds later, he heard Rosie’s voice accompanied by Lestrade's. As the duo approached, a few members of Lestrade’s team moved in around the woman across the street and brought her to a panda car to be questioned.
Rosie’s eyes wandered to the body on the pavement, her curiosity piqued. “Waz wong wit da man, daddy?”
“Oh! He’s sleeping, love!” He was surprised at how easily the lie came to him.
“Are you ready to go home, Watson?” Sherlock asked as he took the hand Greg had been holding in his.
“How would you like pizza for dinner tonight, Rosamund?”
John just watched the spectacle in front of his own eyes. He actually pinched himself.
“That’s my job. Let’s go before I change my mind.”
John grabbed Sherlock’s free hand and brought it to his lips. “Thank you.”
Sherlock squeezed John’s hand in response, words feeling superfluous.
They were just finishing up their dinner that evening when a song, playing low in the background from the small radio next to the stove, interrupted John from shoving the empty pizza box into a bin bag. He stopped before the whole box was inside. The rubbish could wait.
“My father used to love Neil Diamond. Used to play him all the time ‘round the house. This song was one of his favourites. I think it’s time to make some new memories with it. Sweetheart, could you turn that up for me?”
Sherlock looked around as though there was someone else in the room tall enough to reach the radio. Then he looked up at John, who nodded.
“You’re sweetheart, yes, Sherlock! Hurry, before the song is over!”
He scrambled from his seat next to Rosie as John walked towards her. “My little sweetheart, you get up here with me and have a little dance, yeah?”
Rosie climbed onto the seat of her chair and John got his right forearm under her bum and hefted her to his chest. The music now blared through the tinny speaker. Sherlock turned to watch his loves.
John bounced her up and down, turning in slow circles as he sang the song to her, tickling her ear and neck as they spun:
“Oh, I love my Rosie child
You got the way to make me happy
You and me, we go in style”
He motioned for Sherlock to join them. He got his arms around them both and the three of them swayed together as John belted out the next part of the song:
“But you make me sing like a guitar hummin
So hang on to me, girl
Our song keeps runnin on!
Play it now
Play it now, my baby!”
Sherlock had never heard the song before. He had no idea who Neil Diamond was. But he was sure, that for the rest of his days, he’d remember this moment as one of the happiest of his life. He snapped a photo, freezing this moment for all of them. He was the only one with a mind palace, after all.
Chapter 15, Week Twelve of Recovery
“Sweetheart! Wait! Stop for a second!"
John unseated himself, Sherlock’s cock slipping from his heat. Sherlock was on his back, John astride his hips. Sherlock continued to thrust up, searching for the friction he’d had a moment ago. John put his hands on Sherlock’s thighs, tried to ground him enough to speak to him. He finally became aware of the different feelings his body was having.
“John? Are you all right? Sherlock shook his head from side to side on his pillow, trying to understand why they were stopping.
“Yes, love. I’m wonderful. You’re so close, but I’d like to try something before you come, okay?”
“Anything. Please, John. I need you.”
John slid down Sherlock’s thighs and then he knelt between them. “It’s okay, Sherlock. Give me a minute.” He ran his left hand up and down Sherlock’s right thigh to soothe him.
“I need you to take a few deep breaths for me, to calm down a bit for me, all right? I think it’s going to be over faster than I want it to anyway, but I’d at least like it to last for a few minutes.”
Sherlock opened his eyes, and took a big, shaky breath through his nose and exhaled it through his mouth. “That’s great. Keep doing that.” John continued the slide of his hand along Sherlock’s right thigh, occasionally scratching his nails softly against Sherlock’s soft skin, as Sherlock continued to do his breathing. Once Sherlock calmed enough to speak, John asked:
“Is it all right if I go inside of you, Sherlock?”
This was their first time talking about this. Since they became intimate, John had always been the receiving partner, Sherlock fearing for John’s shoulder.
“I think I can do this for you tonight. I want you to be able to feel how I feel when you do this for me. Would that be all right?” John tried to disguise the pleading look on his face. He didn’t want to pressure Sherlock into doing something he wasn’t ready for. This would be his first time.
He had no reason to worry.
“I would love to have you inside of me. I just don’t want you to overdo and hurt yourself.”
“You just lie back and let me finish this for us. You’ve done so much for me, and I want to do this for you.” He felt around the bed for a few seconds until he located what he was looking for. He reached for and found the lube they’d used a bit ago and squirted some on the first two fingers of his left hand.
“Continue those deep breaths, okay?” They both remembered the first time they did this, their roles reversed. John whirled his finger around Sherlock’s hole, getting it nice and wet, before he inserted his right index finger, to the first knuckle.
“Ohhhh, God, John. Oh, John.”
“I know how good that feels, Sherlock. Every time you’ve done this for me, I can feel the pleasure fizzle in my toes.” He looked up at Sherlock’s face and pushed further inside, twisting his finger, getting the lube spread around to make Sherlock comfortable. John spent a few more seconds preparing Sherlock and then slicked himself up.
“Do you want a bit more lube, Sherlock?”
“I just want a part of you inside of me. Preferably the part you promised me a few minutes ago!”
Leave it to Sherlock to get stroppy as he was about to get laid.
John knelt in between Sherlock’s knees and pushed inside in one slippery slide: Sherlock looked like he was about to convulse.
“Bear down for me, Sherlock. That’s the way. Loosen up for me. Oh. Sherlock. That’s amazing. You feel so good. I knew you would. I knew this would be spectacular.”
John shifted as he remembered their first time doing this a few weeks ago. Since it went so well the first time, might as well try recreating it.
John got his right arm under Sherlock’s back for leverage and brought his left up to Sherlock’s face. Instinctively, Sherlock’s arms and legs wound themselves around John’s back and arse and squeezed, as he mimicked what John’d done all the times they’d done it that way.
As soon as they were in their most comfortable positions, John began to move. John’s left elbow pressed to the mattress, his hand went to Sherlock’s right cheek, his thumb dragging across his cheek.
"You're like no one I've ever known. I figured that out the day we met. I don't think there's anyone else on this Earth like you. I wanted you in my life as soon as I saw you in that lab.”
John’s thrusts were slow and short. Enough to tap Sherlock’s prostate. Sherlock writhed, a sheen of sweat formed across his torso and forehead. John kissed and kitten-licked at Sherlock’s face.
“I still can't explain it. You're like me, but also the complete opposite of me. You're a paradox; a puzzle that I keep finding pieces of when I thought I was finished putting you all together."
“Yes. Yes. Yes! John! Oh yes! Oh, John!” Sherlock tightened around John’s cock, threw his head back, and reached his apogee.
John picked up his pace, chasing his own pleasure, but wanting to prolong Sherlock’s.
“Don’t hold your breath. Keep breathing, Sherlock. That’s it, it can last a few more seconds if you breathe through it.”
“Johhhhhhhn. Please.” He didn’t have to say what he wanted; to John’s body, it sounded like; ‘Thank you. I love you. Come for me, please, John.’ John’s body already knew.
Sherlock’s soporific voice pulled him to the other side. “I LOVE YOU! SHERLOCK!”
John’s hips stuttered, and he collapsed on Sherlock’s sweat-slicked body. Sherlock’s arms tightened around him and crushed John against him. They held each other until oversensitivity threatened. They reluctantly disentangled themselves. John went back to kneeling between Sherlock’s legs, and he sat on his heels.
Sherlock tried to sit up, always trying to follow John wherever he went, but his body hadn’t quite caught up to his brain. As usual.
"Lean back against the pillows for a mo'. Let me see you. I don't deserve this. Don't deserve you. You are tremendous. You've always been tremendous.”
As usual, Sherlock basked in John’s words of praise. Not only was John able to worship him verbally, but his body was also now able to as well. Sherlock laid there, and put his left arm behind his neck, fluffed his sweaty hair and struck a pose. John laughed at the spectacle.
“I wish I had my phone in here. To get a picture of you like this, all sweaty and debauched. Your mint-coloured eyes; dark hair on that pillowcase. Your body is covered with our pleasure. If you could see yourself, you’d know that you've clearly settled in your life if you're willing to spend any parts of it with me."
“You can’t see yourself. If you could, you would immediately cease in your malignant self-recrimination. What just happened? That was --- resplendent. Majestic. Sublime. Nirvanic. Transcendent…”
“I don’t think I did my job well enough. You’re able to talk sooner than you should be!” Sherlock’s words clutched at his lungs.
“You did everything quite right for me. I hope when I did that to you, it felt that way for you as well.”
“It did, Sherlock. Every time we’re together, it’s just, not to sound plebeian about it, it’s wonderful. It’s like that because it’s us.”
John got up from the bed to retrieve an old shirt, then got back on the bed and wiped off Sherlock’s chest, as well as his own. He leant to the foot of the bed and pulled the kicked-away duvet up and over their bodies. They laid side-by-side and just looked their fill.
John broke the silence after a few minutes. This had to be said. “It was worth it. To me. If me getting hurt was the catalyst we needed to finally get here, I’d have done it a long time ago.” Sherlock looked chagrined as he reached for John’s healing shoulder.
“I wish I could go back to that dinner at Angelo’s. You scared me, did I ever tell you that?”
John just shook his head and smiled.
“I’d never met anyone like you before. I saw your face across that table, and couldn’t believe what you were saying to me, what I thought you were asking me.”
“I was such a bastard. Practically yelling to anyone who could hear me. ‘I’m not his date!’ I did that twice. I am so sorry for that.” Regret suffused every word.
“Angelo was a bit overly enthusiastic that evening.” Sherlock rolled his eyes and snickered at the memory.
“Most people who met me, after I’d first met you, assumed that you and I were together. Mrs. Hudson at the flat; Mycroft when he sorta kidnapped me; Angelo... I was an insensitive prick. I was only concerned with my own feelings instead of taking yours into account as well. All those people knew you, knew who you were, and I was just clueless.”
Sherlock gently squeezed John’s shoulder. “That lip-lick of yours was very confusing. Quite a mixed-signal, that.”
“A Freudian slip, more like.”
“John. I just want to say that, that I was emotionally indigent for long periods of my life. Now? I’m embarrassingly wealthy. You are loved, and loved ardently. You and Rosamund.”
John felt the tears burning behind his eyes. “I’m so proud of you, Sherlock. For letting yourself be loved. For letting yourself feel worthy of it, even if you don’t believe it some days.”
The enormity of their words sat between them for a few moments, and a few tears slipped from both men’s eyes. Time for a bit of mirth.
"Can we crack on here, please? I’d really like to get some sleep tonight. I’ve got physio tomorrow morning, and I told Rosie we’d take her to The Science Museum after." Sherlock just stared at him. The look resembled awe.
"Can I kiss you?"
"I don't know, can you?"
“Correcting my grammar after I gave you that shag? You ungrateful nutter! Get over here, you sod! Sherlock launched himself into John’s embrace.
“Are we going to have our days planned out like this forever? Appointments and errands and chores?” Sherlock sounded wistful as he settled in John’s arms. ‘In John’s arms.’ What a heady thought.
“If we’re lucky.” John understood his meaning.
Sherlock kissed John’s left shoulder, then his mouth, and settled his lips against John’s neck as he whispered; “I don’t think luck has anything to do with it. Not anymore.”