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Sherlock - 2018 Advent Ficlet Challenge

Chapter Text

The cold was seeping through his bones. His shoulders, his back, his wrists, everything hurt. He just wanted to get away, be at home, be safe. A cold draft let him shiver. Suddenly he felt himself fall, landing on the hard, concrete floor.
The next moment he was awake, shaking, sitting on the cold floor, but the floor wasn’t concrete. It was definitely the Serbian hellhole. Sherlock stared at the window, felt the draft that triggered his nightmare.
Suddenly the door opened and light spilt into his room.
“Sherlock? Are you okay?” Mrs. Hudson stood in the door, a long and entangled string of Christmas lights in her hands.
Sherlock stared at her, still shivering. He couldn’t help the tears forming in his eyes. He was at home. He was safe. Then why didn’t he feel safe.
“I am fine.” He answered.
You didn’t need great deductive powers to see that this answer didn’t convince her. She just opened her mouth to say something, but Sherlock was faster.
“Shall I help you?” He asked and slowly got up.
“That would be good.” She said with a smile that couldn’t cover up her worries. But she turned around anyway, muttering something about the impossibility to keep fairy lights in boxes without them being completely entangled.
Sherlock couldn’t help but smile as he grabbed his warmest dressing gown and some warm socks and followed her into the living room.
The next two hours were spent with disentangling what must have been at least a dozen fairy lights. At one-point Mrs. Hudson left him alone with the mess to make some tea and get some of ginger nuts. When she poured him a cup of tea and set down the plate with the biscuits in front of him on the coffee table Sherlock stared at the biscuits. Then his eyes travel to the mirror on the wall, already covered in fairy lights and to the skull wearing a Santa hat. He started to slight shake his head. He hated Christmas decorations. In the past he had let Mrs. Hudson decorate the flat, but only after much protesting. But now, now this was home, his home, a home he had missed so much.
He felt Mrs. Hudson sitting down by his side. Her hands moved over his, stopping the trembling he hadn’t noticed. He watched her wrinkly hands softly moving, caressing his hands.
“It is okay not to be okay.” She said quietly.
He turned to look at her, wanted to say, that he was okay, but his reply died on his tongue. He remembered that the woman sitting beside him had been through her very own hell, back in Florida with a husband who didn’t know any mercy, not even, or maybe especially not with his wife.
“It will be getting better. Just give it time.” A small smile graced her lips.
He nodded, unable to articulate the love he felt for this fragile but strong woman.
“I …” He stopped, didn’t really know what to say.
“You don’t need to talk about, not if you don’t want to. But know that I will listen if you need someone to talk to.”
“Thank you.” He whispered, averting his eyes as he could no longer keep his tears from falling. He closed his eyes and felt her hands wiping away.
“Now, there are still fairy lights to disentangle and in that box are colorful ones we always put on the windows.” With that the weight beside him vanished.
Yes, there were still things to do.

Chapter Text

John had only been here once before. It was a few weeks after the funeral. Back then he needed to be here, needed to see what Sherlock had seen, look down from here to try to understand what was incomprehensible. Back then it was a cloudless night, not that you could see many stars through the light pollution of London. But the night had reminded John of another night, when he had walked through an alley with Sherlock, looking up to the stars. And while Sherlock appreciated the beauty of the stars John felt himself falling in love a tiny step more. Then came Moriarty, the pool and all the steps that led Sherlock up to this roof. And here it all fell apart.
John sat down on the roof, his back to the chimneys and he stared up at night-time sky. Here it fell apart and he knew it was his fault. While Sherlock’s choices have been awful, had hurt John more than any other person would ever be able to hurt him, John knew that the reason for those choices were valid and if he was really honest – and he can be honest to himself, here alone on this roof – he would have done the same thing if he would have been in the same situation. It were his choices that let everything fall apart, but it was here on this roof where the crack started to grow that he, John, never allowed to heal.
And now Sherlock was fighting for his life, or maybe not, maybe he didn’t fight at all. He had stepped between the knife-wielding criminal and Lestrade very well knowing that he would be stabbed. John didn’t want to believe it, didn’t want to believe Mycroft’s deductions about his brother’s motives, but once he saw the cctv recording, he knew that Mycroft was right. He saw the moment Sherlock made the decision not to fight but just to step in and let it happen. And he didn’t need Mycroft’s harsh words to understand his role in Sherlock’s decision. He had seen the medical documents outlining the malnourishment and the still broken ribs, the barely vanished bruises.
John knew it was his fault, knew he never apologized, never asked for forgiveness. And now that he sat here on the roof of St. Barts and watched the stars moving on the firmament. Soon the sun would drown out their faint lights and John would have to stand up and walk back downstairs.
Back then after the funeral John came up here and prayed to a deity he didn’t really believe in anymore for a miracle. But he wasn’t worth that miracle, because when it happened, he didn’t appreciate it. Sherlock returned, but John was too angry – to angry to observe the changes in his friend, to angry to see the pain he must have been in. And then Mary nearly killed Sherlock and John was still angry, angry with Mary for not being who she pretended to be, but he was even more angry with Sherlock for leaving him in the first place and thereby opening the door for Mary to step in and for not telling him what he surely must have deduced about Mary. And then the idiot killed Magnussen and nearly killed himself with drugs on that damned plane. John was angry again, angry with Sherlock for throwing his life away. He was always angry with Sherlock, angry for him to include Mary into cases, angry for tracking down Mary when she left, angry for Sherlock to survive when Mary died, angry for him falling back into drugs again, angry for dragging him to the Culverton Smith mortuary, angry for Sherlock being able to easily forgive something that is unforgiveable.
The tears creeping into his eyes blured John’s vision. He didn’t deserve Sherlock, but he knew that if Sherlock died downstairs today that John would die as well. The stars would move on, but he would not.

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock peered through the window and watched John as he gently swayed with Rosie in his arms.
“You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town”
Sherlock had no idea that John had such a nice singing voice. The moment John turned around Sherlock quickly tried to step away from the window and misstepped and fell flat on his ass and took with him a ludicrous potted little Christmas tree.
The door to the flat opened and John was looking at him.
“Have you been spying on me?” John asked surprised. Was there a hint of anger in his voice? Sherlock wasn’t sure. It was like he couldn’t read John anymore. Sherlock got up and stuttered. “No, I was just in the area and wanted to visit.”
“Just in the area?” John raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I was.” But Sherlock couldn’t think of a plausible lie that had brought him out here into the suburbs. Stupid. He stared at the floor. He had longed to see John and Rosie. Since the Culverton Smith case, since Sherrinford and everything that has happened their relationship was still strained. It had gotten better. There were moments when things were good, but then there were bad days as well. Sherlock wanted John back and he found himself to be wanting Rosie back as well. He wanted them to be his family. He wanted to be part of their lives.
“Well, since you are already here, why don’t you come in.” John said fondly and turned around, leaving the door open for Sherlock.
Sherlock closed the door behind him, got out of his coat and sat down on the sofa and he immediately found himself with Rosie in his arms as John deposited her there without a warning. And Rosie smiled at him and booped his nose. He couldn’t help himself and smiled back. He loved her. He didn’t know why but he loved her. Maybe it was because she didn’t judge him. Maybe it was because she was always happy to see him. His musings were interrupted when John returned from the kitchen and place a steaming cup of tea in front of Sherlock on the coffee table.
“So, why are you here?” John asked.
Sherlock looked up at friend and opted for at least partly honestly. “I just wanted to visit you.”
“Just like that?”
“Yes, just like that.” Sherlock said a bit petulantly. “I’ve missed you, both of you.” He whispered, looking at Rosie who seemed confused by the current mood.
Next he feels a weight settling beside him on the sofa as John is sitting down.
“I am sorry.” John sounds sad. “I’ve missed you too.”
Silence spread, and Sherlock isn’t sure what to say. He just wants to start talking about something trivial just to fill the silence, but John is faster.
“I just don’t know how to do this.”
“Do what?” Sherlock looks up searching John’s face for a clue.
“Us.” John looks resigned.
“Us?” Sherlock fears that this is it, this is how John will end their friendship. He tries hard not to let the tears fall that are starting to build up in his eyes as he watches John who stares at the coffee table.
“Us.” John repeats. “I want us to be like it had been, before.”
There is no need to speak out what he means, because it is clearly about Sherlock’s faked death and Mary’s real death. He tried everything he could think off to heal those cracks, but it was never enough.
“John, I am sorry.” He starts, knowing that it will not change a thing. He his stopped by John facing him and the look of surprise on his face.
“You.” John starts and stops again. “You think this is your fault?”
Sherlock just nods. He tries to speak, but what should he say.
John abruptly gets up and starts pacing in front of the coffee table.
“I am really a shit friend.” He starts, and Sherlock wants to deny it, but is stopped by John’s hand shushing him. “Don’t deny it. I am. God, if you think my distance is your fault, then I am a shit friend. Yes, I was distant, but not because I didn’t want to see you, but because I just don’t know how to do this anymore. See you, go on cases with you, watch you play with Rosie. It is just, it is too good to be true. And then I come back here and everything reminds me of.”
“Mary.” Sherlock whispers, looking down again.
“No.” John shouts. “Not Mary, well, yes, Mary, but this here is a reminder that this was never the future I wanted. This flat in the suburb, a life with my lying wife, pretending with her that we could be normal.”
Sherlock looked up again and watched John pacing up and down.
“I told you. I wanted more. Back then, after, after. God, I didn’t even apologize to you.” John shook his head.
Sherlock didn’t know what he should say. Yes, John has not apologized to him for beating him up. And there were moments when it hurt that he didn’t, but then again Sherlock understood that, that John needed to hurt him.
“I am so sorry Sherlock for hurting you. And I did it again, didn’t I?” John stopped his pacing and looked at Sherlock. “I thought only about my feelings and didn’t realize how much it would hurt you when I keep a distance.”
“It is okay.” Sherlock said.
“No, it is not.” John said firmly.
“I know you want more, want something different.” Sherlock sounded resigned as he again started to stare at the coffee table unable to face John.
John sat down again and carefully guided Sherlock’s face to look at him.
“I am really shit at these things.” John started. “But for once I just want to get it right. So listen.” John look like a soldier – determined to make it through a battle. “I want more.” He hesitated for a moment. “I want you. I want to come back to Baker Street. I want to fight with you over your experiments on kitchen table and the mess in the living room. I want to watch Rosie growing up with you, you teaching her about science and music. I want to solve crimes with you and once we are too old to do that retire to the countryside where you will keep the bees you always talk about and I will write the books I always talk about. And Rosie will come to visit her two old dads.” John’s words got faster and faster and then suddenly stopped. Sherlock just stared at him not believing what he just heard.
“I want all that, but I don’t dare to ask.” John said quietly. “I am too afraid, that.” He stopped.
“That I say no.” Sherlock asked.
John nodded.
“You are an idiot.” Sherlock bit his lip. He shouldn’t have said that.
“Am I?” John asked and he looked hopeful at Sherlock.
Sherlock smiled. “Yes, you are. You just needed to ask, because I want all that too.” With that he pressed a kiss to Rosie’s forehead. She had watched the whole exchange with a quite curiosity.
John leaned in and kissed Rosie first, before placing a careful kiss on Sherlock’s lips.
“This is going to be the best Christmas ever.” He whispered in Sherlock’s ear as he engulfed them both in a hug and hummed the Christmas song he sung before.
“You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town”

Chapter Text


If someone would have told him years ago that he would build snowmen with his daughter and Sherlock Holmes, John would have told that person that this idea was absolutely ludicrous. First, he had never thought of himself as a father. His own father wasn’t the best role model, quite the opposite and John had always been the afraid to end up like him. But here he was, a father of an absolute adorable little girl who right now squealed with delight as Sherlock Holmes lifted her up to place a carrot on the face of the snowman. And that is the second unbelievable thing - Sherlock Holmes smiling, laughing while building a snowman. John quietly shook his head and bowed his head. He had been an idiot for so long. He had believed Sherlock to be a heartless machine, the sociopath Sherlock always claimed to be. And it took them both to a ride through hell for John to realize his own idiocy. All the moments that clearly showed how human Sherlock was, how big his heart was, how much he longed to be loved and understood, all those moments ran by like a movie in John’s brain. And the moments when John had hurt Sherlock, believing the man couldn’t be hurt. Those memories always lead to the thought that he didn’t deserve this, being here with this man. The next even darker thought was interrupted by a snowball hitting him on his shoulder.
John looked up and saw a giggling Rosie and a smiling and shrugging Sherlock.
“You were thinking too much. It was annoying.” Sherlock declared.
“Is that so?” John asked smiling back.
“Yes, definitely. And besides, you see Rosie and I have already done our work.” Sherlock gestured to the two snowmen beside them, a tall one with a blue scarf accompanied by a very small one with a pink scarf. “And you a seriously lagging behind.”
John slowly made his way up to them. “Are two snowmen not enough?”
“No, dad.” Rosie said, pouting in way that looked so very much like Sherlock, it made John’s heart ache. “You are missing.”
John looked questioning at his daughter.
“There is me” Rosie pointed to the small snowmen with the pink scarf. “And there is Sherlock.” She pointed to the tall snowman. “And here you are suppose to be.” She pointed to the other side.
John needed all his self-control to not burst into tears right there. Instead he started to work on the third snowman under close supervision from his daughter and the world’s only consulting detective who also seemed to have added consulting snowmen builder to his business card.

Later, back in the Holmes family cottage where the stayed for the holidays, after Sherlock’s parents have long retired and after they have finally manged to bring Rosie to bed, John enjoyed the quite of the cottage with a cup of tea in his hand and Sherlock by his side on the sofa.
“What were you thinking?” Sherlock’s voice broke through the silence.
“What? When?” John asked bewildered.
“Back outside when Rosie and I were building the snowmen.” Sherlock said in a way clearly indicating that this fact was obvious. “You were lost in thought.”
John smiled at Sherlock and if his smile was a bit sad at least Sherlock didn’t feel the need to state it.
“I was just thinking about what an idiot I was.” John said.
“Obviously.” Sherlock said with a giggle.
“Oy.” John lightly poked Sherlock in his side eliciting another giggle.
“No, honestly, I was an idiot. When you build the snowman with Rosie I thought about all the time I misjudged how human you are, how big your heart is.” John explained and noticed the small blush on Sherlock’s cheeks.
“Thank you.” Sherlock whispered.
“For what are you thanking me.” John asked, a bit bewildered as he had expected a different kind of reaction.
Sherlock turned around to face John. “For noticing what I tried to hide.”
“I am sorry that it took me so long.” John said quietly. “I never wanted to hurt you.” He added.
“Stop it.” Sherlock raised his voice. “We are here, everything else is in the past, don’t dwell about it.”
“I know, but sometimes I can’t help it.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Tomorrow we should do a proper snowball fight.” Sherlock proclaimed. “I mean one with building a fort first and then we will defend it. I am sure Mommy and Daddy will join in. Not so sure about Mycroft though, he will probably want to command the whole fight without actually getting involved.”
John agreed with a nod and smiled and listened to Sherlock recalling the memories of wild snowball fights from his childhood. He may not deserve the man beside him but he was endlessly grateful to be by his side anyway.

Chapter Text

Sherlock didn’t believe in much.

He didn’t believe in a god since he was 12. He started calling himself an atheist when he was 14.

He didn’t believe in humans. He had seen too many people being cruel, full of hate, ruthless, selfish – the bullies at school who called him a freak, the teachers who didn’t do anything about it, his fellow students for whom he was useful when helping them with their homework but in the end made fun of him behind his back, the officers at the Yard who envied his abilities but made cruel jokes anyway. And then there were the endless number of murders and other criminals he had encountered. No, he didn’t believe in humans.

He didn’t believe in fate. There were a few moments when he did. When he met John and John became an integral part of his life. But if fate existed why had it given him John just to take him away again.

He didn’t believe in the Christmas spirit. People were just as cruel around Christmas as at any other time of the year.

But then he wanted to believe.

He wanted to believe in a god, maybe life would be easier if he could find a reason for the things that happened, if he could blame a deity.

He wanted to believe in humans. And there were good people he thought while listening to the Christmas songs that were played on Mrs. Hudson’s radio while she baked more ginger nuts. He thought about Lestrade hugging him when he came back. About Molly who always tried to help him without asking many questions. And then there was John, but it was too painful to think about him.

He wanted to believe in fate, wanted to know that the way through hell would bring him to a place where he could be happy and not alone.

He wanted to believe in the Christmas spirit, wanted to believe that the people he cared for cared for him as well.

He wanted to believe, but it was so hard to do it when all the odds were against you.

 

Chapter Text


Sherlock looked around. The living room of this old cottage was really nice, a bit like the living room in 221b. There were even two cosy chairs in front of the fireplace, and a real fireplace not the fake one like in 221b.
“Do you want to light the fireplace?” Janine’s voice tore him out of his musings. “It works. There is wood in that basket.” She nodded into the direction of a basket place beside the fireplace.
“No.” Sherlock shook his head. “That would be a bit too warm, wouldn’t it?”
“Maybe, but then maybe you want to try everything in the house before you buy it.” Janine had placed his mug with tea on the small table beside the dark red chair.
He sat down and started sipping his tea, watching the woman who now had sat down opposite of him.
“I believe you.” He said with a small smile. After a few moments of silence, he added. “You really want to sell the cottage to me?”
“Yes, do you think I just lured you here for tea?” She chuckled.
“No, but the price you asked. It is clearly not the market price.” Sherlock didn’t understand why she would sell this cottage to him in the first place but much less why for such a relatively cheap price.
“No, it is not the market price.” She agreed.
“So, why?” He asked, his voice slightly raised.
“You can’t live with something you don’t understand.” She smiled smugly.
Sherlock started nervously stimming with his leg bouncing.
“And you don’t trust anyone.” She added sounding a bit sad.
“It is not that I don’t trust you. It is just not logically.” Sherlock tried to explain.
“Logic.” Janine scoffed. “That is your benchmark for everything.”
“Yes.” Sherlock confirmed, stopping the bouncing of his leg.
There was another moment of silence with both just looking at each other.
“So you want to know.” Janine asked. Sherlock just nodded.
“It is because you saved my life.” She declared.
Sherlock frowned.
“Yes, well, actually you saved my life more than once.”
Sherlock frowned again. “More than once?”
Janine smiled again and then seemed to think about how to tell him something that he might not want to know.
“Promise me to listen to me and not to run away.” She said and waited for Sherlock to nod. “You shooting Magnussen on his front porch saved my life.”
“How can you know?” Sherlock was alarmed. This was classified information. How could she know?
“I know, because I know a lot.” She answered his unspoken question. “I have eyes and ears in a lot of places. It was why Magnussen blackmailed me, well that and the reason for me having all the eyes and ears.”
“Explain.” Sherlock said. He needed to know more.
“I know the resemblance is not that obvious.” She started. “Well, we have the same eye colour.” She stopped again, obviously waiting for him to catch up. “But he was rather small. Something that always bothered him.”
Sherlock shook his head. That could not be. “You are” Sherlock couldn’t bring himself to say the name. “His sister?”
Janine nodded. Sherlock jumped up. The impulse was to leave. This could be a trap. He started pacing. They haven’t found the source of the broadcasting. If Janine is Moriarty’s sister then what does this mean, he here in her cottage, alone, without any weapon.
Janine just stayed in her chair and watched him. “Calm down.” Her voice was soft. “I told you, you saved my life.”
“The broadcasting?” He asked.
“Well, selling you the cottage for a fair price might be a suitable thankyou for getting me out of the degusting clutches of Magnussen, but not enough for freeing me from my crazy brother.” She explained.
Sherlock looked at her. “You think your brother was crazy?”
“Don’t you?” She countered. “My brother was a psychopath. Yes, I was his sister, but all humans, whether related or not, were just pawns in his games. I never wanted to be part of his games, but he left me no choice. He told me what to do and there was no way to escape.” She looked scared and Sherlock didn’t want to ask what she had to do for Moriarty.
“And then he found you. And he was so obsessed. I knew he would either kill you or end up killing himself.”
“I …” Sherlock started.
“Don’t say that you are sorry. You are not and you shouldn’t be. The world is a much better place without him.” Janine stated firmly. “I am glad you won the game he played with you.”
“I am not sure I’ve won it.” Sherlock said, taking his seat again, trying to grasp what he just learned.
“Yeah, maybe not in the way you thought it would end. Anyway, I am glad he died. It saved my life. He was angry with me, back then. He had placed me with Magnussen but he wasn’t happy with the results.” There was silence again.
“So, you broadcasted the image of your brother just when I was about” Sherlock stopped the sentence.
“When you were about to fly of to your certain death?” She asked a small smile on her face. “Yes, I not only found out that you stopped Magnussen but also the punishment those stupid people thought would be right for you. I couldn’t let that happen. And I thought the broadcast would have the best effect with that timing. Didn’t think you would overdose on the plane though.”
“I, I didn’t” Sherlock stuttered.
“Yes, you did. Don’t lie to me. I saw the test results.”
“You really do have eyes and ears everywhere.” Sherlock said a bit admiringly.
“I am not the only one my brother or Magnussen used against their will. It is quite easy to get people to do something when it is the only kind of revenge you can get.” Another pause. “You won’t tell your brother?”
“No, of course not.” Sherlock said. He trusted her. He couldn’t really explain why he instantly believed her story. “You saved my life.”
“Than we are good.” She smiled.
“With me getting this cottage, for sure.” He smiled back.
“You want to see the beehives?”
“I thought you wanted to get rid of them?”
“Yes, but then the beekeeper who looked after them convinced me otherwise.” Janine smiled. “He is actually looking forward to meet you. Well, he is looking forward to teach you all about beekeeping.”
Sherlock smiled. The fireplace wasn’t the only great thing about the cottage.

Chapter Text


John sat in his chair. It hadn’t been his chair for a long time, but now it was his chair again. He watched Rosie who was babbling and playing with blocks on the floor by his feet. And then his eyes wondered to Sherlock who just got up and opened his violin case. Once he had the instrument ready, he turned to the window and started to play. John has never been good at memorizing the names of the pieces but he believed this one was one by Bach.
Johns’s eyes were torn away from Sherlock swaying softly in front of the window by the lack of Rosie’s babbling. He looked down and saw his daughter who mesmerized by the music just sat there and stared at Sherlock. John smiled at the sight and remembered the many times when he sat mesmerized by Sherlock’s ability to coax the most beautiful music out of his violin.
Back when he first moved into Baker Street John wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Sherlock when it came to violin playing. He surely hasn’t expected him to be that good. But of course there were the many moments when Sherlock just sawed away to let out frustration or to annoy his brother. John smiled at the memory. Or when he played God save the Queen just to make a point after the first encounter with Irene Adler.
But John’s fondest memories were the nights when Sherlock played soothing melodies after John was roughly awaken by a nightmare. And then there were the little concerts Sherlock played just for him. On those quite evenings they spent together. Looking back John realized that he was an idiot that he ever thought Sherlock was an emotionless sociopath who could not love. He just wasn’t able to speak out what he felt, to show openly that he loved, but it was always in his music. His music was a window to his soul, to his heart. John just had been too blind to see.
John was torn out of his gloomy thoughts by a change in music. Bach was replaced by some upbeat children songs and Sherlock himself has turned around and focused his eyes on Rosie who started to clap and cheer with the music. John had to smile again. He might have been stupid in the past, too blind to see, but that surely has changed. He now sees the man in front of him as what he is, a great man, a good man, the man he loves, a fabulous father for their daughter. John was looking forward to more music related memories as he was sure that Sherlock playing children songs for Rosie will not be the last memorable moment of this kind.

Chapter Text

 

Mummy said it was a gift, but for Sherlock it was nothing but a burden. He saw everything, he smelled everything, he heard everything, he tasted everything. It was always too much input, too many details. Every person contained so much clues. Every room was full of different sounds and smells. Every dish had too many components.

He hated it. The overload of the world around him. The senses he couldn’t shut down. His brain always looking for input, always prepared to use the millions of details to from a picture only he understood.

He knew this gift was the foundation of his work, but it was also a burden. People hated him for the way he was, for his ability to see and deduce.

And people didn’t get how he could see everything and yet be so blind for what came natural to all of them. The dos and don’ts of human interaction. Why he could deduce the motives of murders but didn’t get why him telling the truth in another situation was inappropriate. Why he could see the life story of each and every person, but sometimes just didn’t get the sarcastic jokes of the Yarders. Why he could manipulate witnesses with fake tears but didn’t have a single friend.

He didn’t have a name for it, for how he was. His parents despised the school doctors who wanted to diagnose him. They always said he was okay the way he was. And in a way he was, and in a way he was grateful for his parent’s acceptance, but also unsatisfied. When he was 16 he had read a psychiatry book in the school library. It was old and dusty. Sociopathy didn’t fit him, not really, but it became a shield, an armour to protect himself.

It was only when he was looking for psychiatric diagnoses for a case that he came across something called EQ Test – empathy, he was quite sure what to expect and yet was oddly shocked by the result. Such a low score he didn’t expect. Yes, he always pretended to not care for the victims of the crimes he solved. He told everyone that he was a sociopath, but the truth of the matter was that he felt things, lots of things, sometimes too much.

What started with a single online test, became a full-time obsession. He filled in every online test he could find, read every book and every article. The result was clear after only one day of research, but still he couldn’t stop looking for more information.

Autistic – another label, that was his first thought, but once he ventured away with his research from the realms of scientific research and into online discussions, he realized it was more then a simple label. It was an identity. His identity. And he was not alone.

Well, that was not true, he was alone, in away. The people around him didn’t know and while at the beginning he debated with himself if he should tell his findings at least his parents or maybe Mrs. Hudson, he decided against it. It was something for himself alone. It was his gift.

Chapter Text

“Myc, what are you doing?” Greg tried not to sound annoyed. He had hoped for a quite evening with the man he loved only to find Mycroft in his CCTV room where es seemed to watch two screens at once.
“Myc?” Greg needed to repeat. And finally he got a reaction as Mycroft turned around to look at him. Greg glanced at the screens. “Are you again watching John and Sherlock? Didn’t you promised them some space after all that happened?”
“Yes, I did, but this is important.” Mycroft answered determinately and turned around to watch the screens again. “Do you see what I see?”
“And what is so important?” Greg asked while leaning in to see what was so important on the screens. “Sherlock playing with Rosie? Or John having a drink in a pub with some friends.”
“John doesn’t have friends.” Mycroft said tonelessly.
“Of course, he has friends. I am his friend.” Greg argued. “At least sort of.”
Mycroft turned around a bit and raised one eyebrow.
“Well, okay, but still, John is at the pub and Sherlock at home with Rosie. What is so important about it?”
“It is John’s Christmas party from his new clinic.”
“Aha.” Greg said, but he still had no clue what this was about. “And?”
“Every second woman who works at the clinic tried to flirt with him, even two who are married.” Mycroft started to explain while displaying the smug smile that always indicated he was happy with something.
“And it is good that women flirt with him?” Greg asked carefully. “Don’t you want him be with Sherlock?”
“It is not that women flirt with him, that is important. It is the fact that he doesn’t flirt back.” Mycroft explained smugly.
“Okay, that is good. I get that.”
“And then there is Sherlock.” Mycroft gestured to the second screen which showed the living room of 221b Baker Street where Sherlock was on the floor building a small house out of blocks with a obvious delighted Rosie. “It is the first time John left Rosie in Sherlock’s care without any backup. Mrs. Hudson is away visiting her sister. Molly Hopper is out with her new boyfriend. And John didn’t hire is usual babysitter.”
Greg watched the second screen just as Rosie destroyed the little house while giggling. And he saw Sherlock smiling while he pretended to be horrified by Rosie’s destructive streak. Greg couldn’t help but smile as well. “So you think?” he asked without really finishing the question.
“Not yet.” Mycroft said. “But if not very soon John will make a move than I guess I will have to kidnap him again.”
Greg bumped a fist into Mycroft’s shoulder. “Oey, let them be.”
“I watched this drama long enough.” Mycroft said while turning around to face Greg. “They are now both ready and surely know that they love each other. And if they are too stupid to do something, after everything they’ve been through, then surely it is my brotherly obligation to help them.”
Greg smiled. When he first met Mycroft Holmes he thought he was a heartless and cold bastard, but by now he knew that it was just a façade to hide the softie behind.
“If those idiots will not sort themselves out, then I will talk to John.” Greg explained fondly. And seeing Mycroft smile he couldn’t shake of the feeling that this was exactly what his boyfriend intended to happen.
They watched the two idiots for a couple of minutes longer, glad that they both had already taken the steps towards each other that John and Sherlock still needed to take.

Chapter Text

 

 

Sherlock was stepping into the foyer when he heard Mrs. Hudson yell.

“Sherlock, is that you?” The next moment he saw her standing in her door, flour on her apron.

“Who else would come in with keys?” Sherlock asked her.

“Well, you never know.” Mrs. Hudson was about to turn around. “Come on, I am baking. You still need feeding up.”

“Mrs. Hudson.” Sherlock wanted to protest. He didn’t need feeding up, well, maybe a bit.

“Shhh, don’t argue young man. I made your favourites.” With that Mrs. Hudson turned around and walked away, leaving the door open.

Sherlock let out a sigh, but couldn’t help to smile a bit. It was good to be home. He didn’t realize how much he had missed Mrs. Hudson and her mothering.

So he slowly put his coat on its peg and walked into Mrs. Hudson’s flat. As expected she was in the kitchen which smelled deliciously after baked goods.

“Sit down, kettle is just on.” Mrs. Hudson said while checking another backing plate full of biscuits.

Sherlock did as he was told and sat down. In front of him he spotted three big tins already filled to the brim with biscuits.

“How many people do you want to feed up?” Sherlock asked mockingly and as Mrs. Hudson turned around he pointed to the tins.

“Mostly you.” Mrs. Hudson answered unperturbed and started to serve tea while glaring at Sherlock.

He couldn’t help but burst into laughter. Mrs. Hudson nudged him, but that only lead to more laughter.

“Drink you tea.” She admonished him before she turned around to get another tin of biscuits which she placed before him. “Those I’ve made especially for you. Ginger nuts.”

Sherlock smiled and eagerly grabbed some.

Over the next half hour, he watched Mrs. Hudson take out more plates full of baked goods and wondered a bit why some of the gingerbread biscuits were so big, but Mrs. Hudson delivered the explanation when she finally sat down to drink some tea as well.

“Now young man, you enjoyed my hospitality.” She started speaking very formal.

“You forced your hospitality on me.” Sherlock interrupted her.

“Hogwash.” Mrs. Hudson waved his interruption away. “You got tea and biscuits and now you have to do some work.” When he looked at her questioning she continued. “We will build a gingerbread house.” With that she got up and started to assemble the necessary tools and ingredients.

Sherlock tried to think of a reason to not participated but none came to his mind. Instead he remembered the gingerbread house he had build with is his grandmother once, one of his few happy childhood memories. And so he stayed.

In the end they build three small houses. They bickered over the decorations and Mrs. Hudson decided two houses will have her chosen decorations, but Sherlock was at least allowed to decorate one the way he wanted. When they were finished the both were exhausted.

“That was nice, wasn’t it?” Mrs. Hudson asked.

“Yes, it was.” And it really was. Sherlock couldn’t help but think back before his time away he would have never done something like this. He would have tuned her out, would have scoffed at the idea to build gingerbread houses. But it was nice. It felt like home. He felt at home. So many things were still off, he still had nightmares, his relationship with John was still tense. He was back in London, but more often than not he still felt like a stranger on a visit. But this here, this felt like home, even if it was something he would have never done before, he can do it now. He can enjoy the fact that Mrs. Hudson cared for him. And deep down he knew that this gingerbread house building evening was her way of distracting him from all the things that weren’t well. But he could accept it as it brought comfort and joy to his life.

Chapter Text

They were sitting outside of the small cottage they had rented for the holidays. Rosie has been sleeping for a while and John wanted to see the stars of this cold night. Even if the glow of lights from Brighton couldn’t diminish the beauty of the night sky.

“It is a beautiful sight, isn’t it?” John asked, not taking his eyes from the sky.

Sherlock looked at John and answered. “Yes, it is.”

They sat in silence for a while. The temperatures were becoming freezing as the night went on. Sherlock started shivering. The cold was biting through his skin. But he had his coat on and a scarf, but it felt like he was wearing nothing but threadbare trousers. But he could feel it, the cold, the pain of the raw skin of wrists.

“Sherlock” He heard John say, but John couldn’t be here. If he was here, then everything was for nothing. He was here for John, but John couldn’t be here.

“No, no, please, no.” Sherlock mumbled, shaking his head, shivering.

“Sherlock.” He heard it again. “Sherlock, wherever you think you are, that is not real. We are in Sussex. We are on holidays, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.” John’s voice grew a bit frantic.

Sussex. Could that be. Could he be in Sussex. He felt the cold, felt the pain, he smelt the mildew, but then his arms were free, they were never free in Serbia.

“Sherlock. You have a flashback.” John’s voice again and close by. “I don’t know what this is about, but I promise you it is not real. You are safe.”

Safe. Was he safe? But the cold.

“Sherlock, don’t be shocked, I am going to take your hand to hold it.” John’s voice again. “You need to get up.”

Suddenly he felt a hand, someone was tugging at him to get up. This must be a trick. They wanted to drag him into the torture chamber. But he was to weak to fight, to tired to fight. Maybe it was better if it all ended here. But instead being tied up he hear John again. “Here, sit down.” And then he was sitting on a comfortable soft surface and a woollen blanket was wrapped around. “It must have been the cold, but please Sherlock, get out of it. It is not real. We are in Sussex, in the cottage we have rented.”

With the warmth, reality slowly slipped back into Sherlock’s mind. He could see the well-worn sofa he was sitting on, the plaid pattern of the blanket that was wrapped around him and he could John who was putting another log on the fire in the old fireplace. This wasn’t Serbia. Suddenly his flashback seemed ridiculous.

“Are you back?” John was crouching in front of him worry written all over his face.

“Yes, yes I am.” Sherlock stuttered. He felt embarrassed. John didn’t know what happened back then and Sherlock never wanted him know. No, that wasn’t true, he wanted him to know, in his dreams, with a caring John, the John from before. But they were just finding back together. John had moved back into Baker Street just before Christmas. And this wasn’t the way he had dreamt it happening. He saw John rearranging the blanket and grabbing his hands.

“It is okay. You don’t need to talk.” John said, soothingly rubbing his hand to warm them up. “I don’t exactly know what happened, but I have an idea.” Sherlock frowned. John looked him in the eyes. “I saw the scars.” Sherlock’s eyes widened. “I didn’t mean to, it was by accident” He hastily added. “A week before we drove to your parents for Christmas. I wanted to ask you what presents to buy for your parents, but you hadn’t left your bedroom yet, so I walked in.” Sherlock looked away. He couldn’t face John’s eyes.

“Sherlock, please look at me.” Sherlock closed his eyes and shook his head. “It is okay. Well, not, it is not okay. It must have hurt and I can only guess that it must have happened when you were dead.” Sherlock flinched at the word dead. “I am sorry, I, I should have asked you long ago what happened.”

Sherlock couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. He didn’t know what to do or what to say. He suddenly felt a warm hand on his face, fingers swiping away his tears, so he opened his eyes. John was very close. Sherlock had expected pity, but what he saw was sadness and guilt.

“I am sorry, I was so caught up in my anger for so long, to not see, to not even ask. It was really only then when I was standing in your bedroom and saw the scars that I realized that you were alone as well, alone and fighting.”

“It is okay.” Sherlock whispered.

“No, Sherlock, it is not okay, it will never be okay, I was an asshole and I hurt you, I hurt you a lot while all you tried to do to save my life and make me happy.” John said, his voice wavering a bit. “I know I can’t undo what I did to you, but I can promise you I will do anything I can to make you happy.”

“John” Sherlock tried to intervene.

“No, let me say it, because this has nothing to do with your scars or with what happened to you. This is not pity.” John stared at Sherlock. “When I was back in that stupid flat and you were there visiting us and playing with Rosie on the living room floor. I realized then that my life is only worth living if you are part of it. I tried to deny that, hell, I married an assassin to prove it.” John let out a chuckle, but it sounded wrong. “I came back to Baker Street because I wanted to be by your side in which ever way you want and because I wanted you to be a part of Rosie’s life as well.”

“John, I.” Sherlock didn’t know what to say. He had been living the last few weeks since John has been back with the constant fear of losing him again any moment.

“So, you don’t need to talk about what has happened. I will listen if you want to. And you don’t need to run around on eggshells.” Sherlock frowned again. “Yes, of course I noticed, but Rosie and I will stay as long as you want us to stay.”

“Forever?” The word has left Sherlock’s mouth without his conscious permission. He turned away. Even with everything John had just said, Sherlock didn’t really believe it.

“Look at me, please.” John asked, and Sherlock eventually obliged. “Forever it is.” John smiled.

“But I, I don't, you will want sex, and I.” Sherlock wanted to explain that he could not give John what he needed, that he was different, that he didn’t function like other people.

“Don’t. “ John intervened. “I said in which every way you want, and I said forever and I meant both. Well, I guess Rosie will eventually move out, but you will be definitely be stuck with me forever.”

Sherlock smiled. “Being stuck with you forever, sounds good to me.”

“Yeah, stuck together forever.” John said with smile and moved to sit next to Sherlock on the sofa. He arranged the blanket to cover them both and found Sherlock’s hands again to give them a little squeeze which Sherlock reciprocated. He leaned into John’s body and let the warmth seep into his skin.

Chapter Text

 

“No, absolutely not.” John said while stomping his food on the floor as if that would change Rosie’s mind. Sherlock smiled while watching the interaction between John and his daughter and already knew that in the end Rosie would win.
“But you would look really good.” Rosie whined. “You would be the hero.”
“Yeah, but why would I have to dress up as a toy soldier?” John tried to work with questions. “What about Sherlock?” And with deflecting to someone else. Both strategies would also not work, Sherlock thought while putting on an innocent face.
“Sherlock will play the violin for our dance.” Rosie explained. Sherlock smiled and nodded.
“But it is a greeting card, no one would hear him playing.” John tried to argue again, but again Sherlock predicted that this would not change the outcome.
“He can be the mouse king.” John suggested, but before Sherlock could even think about a counterargument against that suggestion Rosie stepped in.
“No, he can’t, the mouse king is evil and will be defeated, so Papa cannot be the mouse king.” Rosie said and this time it was her stomping her food on the floor. She wasn’t able to produce an impressive sound as she was quite small for a ten-year old, but the similarities to her father were quite amusing so Sherlock had to be careful to keep a straight face and not start to laugh.
Since they became a family John insisted on family greetings card with a family picture each year. Sherlock loathed it at the beginning, he hated having pictures taking of him, but then he loved his family. He had never thought that he would have a family. He had never thought he would have John. But he had them both and as the years went on, he began to enjoy even the Christmas greeting card tradition. At first it was always John coming up with ideas and forcing them to do stuff like ice-skating at the Natural History Museum or dressing up and Santa Claus and his elves. But now Rosie wanted to tale over and had decided to use the Nutcracker as a motive for this year’s card. Sherlock could admit that it was partly his fault as he went to the ballet with her at the beginning of December. And this is how the ended up here in the living room of 221b Baker Street discussing the costumes Rosie had loaned with the help of Mrs. Hudson. A nutcracker/toy soldier costume for John and a ballerina costume for Rosie as Clara. Sherlock was supposed to wear a tailcoat and pose with his violin like an orchestra member. He liked it.
While Sherlock reminisced about the past of this tradition, he had missed the final moments of the argument between John and Rosie, but as he saw John angrily walk towards their bedroom with the soldier costume in hand, he knew that the expected result had occurred. He looked to Rosie who smiled.
“Mrs. Hudson organized the session with the photographer. We have to be there in an hour.” She informed him. “So you better get ready.” She informed him while grapping the Clara costume and the next moment she sprinted up to her room.
Sherlock got up from his chair took the tailcoat and walked to their bedroom. There he found a grumbling John who had already put on the uniform.
“Every girl loves a soldier.” Sherlock’s words made John turn around.
“It’s sailor.” John said. Sherlock could see that he tried not to smile but failed.
“Well, I love my soldier.” Sherlock said. He threw the tailcoat on the bed and stepped in front of John and kissed him. When they break apart John smiled.
“You like this, right?” John asked.
“You were the one who started with this Christmas card stuff, now you have to live with it.” Sherlock responded.
“Yeah, I guess so.” John turned around to watch himself in the mirror. “Can’t wait to see you in tailcoat.”
“Your whish is my command.”
Sherlock just finished dressing when Rosie stormed into their bedroom, her costume in a garment bag.
“Let’s see how you look.” She ordered, and John and Sherlock dutifully stood side by side to be inspected. After critically assessing them, she nodded. “You look good. Now change into you normal cloth or do you want to take a cab like that?” With that she turned around.
“I think she got the bossy tone from you.” John said while undressing.
“I think she is a Watson through and through.” Sherlock countered.

Two hours late, they were all finished. Rosie had tremendous fun during the photo shooting, ordering John and Sherlock and the photographer to do what she wanted. But the results were really good. John was a dashing toy soldier, Sherlock a serious violinist and Rosie a beautiful Clara. Even years later their friends will still say that those was the best greeting card they ever got.

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock had never thought that he would have something like this. Hell, he never knew he wanted something like that. He didn’t like to be touched, too much input. When he was a child, he wanted to be held by his mother but at the same time he couldn’t stand it. He would ask his mother to cuddle by her side on the sofa and felt uncomfortable as soon as he did what he asked for. It took him years to find out the reasons for the way he was, to put a label to it. But while knowing his problems with physical intimacy were connected to being autistic was a relief it didn’t change the contradictions of it. He felt a need for intimacy, but at the same time he couldn’t stand it most of the times. He wanted to be like other people, like normal people, but he also loathed them.

Thinking about all the past times when he felt like an idiot trying to navigate intimacy, he looked at the small girl cuddling him. Rosie had just turned four and today she had spent the day with John and some children she knew from day care at the zoo and having cake at Speedy’s afterwards. Thank god, Molly agreed to help, so that Sherlock could escape. He loved his daughter, when did she became his daughter. He couldn’t pin down the time it happened, but he knew he loved her deeply. And he loved to go to the zoo with her, but not with a horde of children on a Sunday afternoon. So, he had excused himself and thankfully, John understood and just smiled at him.

But now Rosie was back. The last two hours she had told him everything that has happened at the zoo and what kind of cake she had afterwards. He had listened and smiled at her. And he had hugged her, held her close, still did, now that she fell asleep in his arms on the sofa. John had draped an old afghan over both of them, so that they were all warm and cosy. And it felt good.

Intimacy, that thing he never managed to get right, that thing that always felt off with other people, even with John he still struggled with how much closeness he could handle, but with Rosie it just happened and felt right. And it didn’t matter whether they fell asleep together on the sofa or whether she wanted to carried home from day care or if she jumped into his bed in the morning for a cuddle. He was okay with it, with her need for closeness, her disregard for the boundaries he had set for all other people.  He was okay with it, because it was her, the daughter he never ever could have imagined to have.

Chapter Text

It felt strange, surreal, John thought. Everything was quiet. He was not used to such a silent night. He had lived in London for so long, he was used to the constant humming of the traffic. Even when he was living in the suburb there was always some kind of noise. Here he heard nothing. It probably will be different in the spring and summer when birds and crickets would chirp even at night. But now in the wintertime the cottage must be the quietest place on earth. The snow that had started to fall just after they arrived this morning and had just stopped falling around midnight. Thankfully they had gotten quite a lot of groceries on their way up here in Eastbourne. Snow was quite rare at this time in Sussex, but this wasn’t a normal year. John looked at the man lying beside him. The moonlight illuminated their bedroom and Sherlock’s pale skin looked even more beautiful.

It hasn’t been a normal year at all, John thought, looking at the man he loved. He had finally admitted it, first to himself and then to said man. For weeks he had debated if and how to tell him. He had waited for the perfect moment, had thought about a quite evening at Baker Street. But every scenario he had in his mind was thrown away when he was injured in the chase of a murderer. It wasn’t even a very serious injury, but while trying to avoid being stabbed by a knife he fell backwards without avoiding the knife. But the cut was bleeding quite a lot and the fall had led to him being unconscious for a while. When he woke up again, he saw a frantic Sherlock, pressing his scarf on the wound, babbling endless repetition of just two different sentences. “I love you, John, don’t leave me”. And John realized that this was the moment, not the perfect moment, but the moment he really needed to say it and so he said it. “I love you, Sherlock.” He will never forget how Sherlock’s head has snapped around and the wide-eyed looked Sherlock bestowed on him, blinking, stuttering. But before either of them could really say anything else the ambulance arrived, and John was whisked away. He had to stay at the hospital for the night and although Sherlock somehow managed to convince the hospital staff to stay the night by John, they haven’t talked about their love confession.

Only on the next day, when they were back home, they talked. Well, not really, John remembered with a fond smile. They both stood in the living room, awkwardly waiting for the other one to say something. Just when Sherlock started to advise John to lay down to rest a bit, John decided to just say it again. And it just broke his heart when he heard Sherlock say, that he wasn’t sure if John regretted saying it the night before. So, John did the only thing he could think of, he stepped closer and kissed Sherlock. Later, when they were lying in Sherlock’s bed they really talked, talked about all the misunderstandings, all the missed opportunities, all the pining the other one didn’t say. At the end they agreed that they were both idiots.

John looked again at the pale body beside him. Sherlock was lying on his stomach now and John could see his scars shimmering silvery in the moonlight. He remembered seeing them the first time and the tears and anger that accompanied that discovery. It was one of these moments when John was angry with himself, with his selfish reaction to Sherlock’s return. And there were other scars on Sherlock’s body that reminded John on all the wrong decisions that he had made and the way they had hurt Sherlock. One small scar on the right eyebrow was a constant reminder that he had hurt Sherlock and that Sherlock had taken it as if John was entitled to hurt him. Those reminders were painful. They have talked about it and Sherlock had forgiven him, way to fast, John thought. And so there was a nagging feeling when John remembered those wrong decisions, the feeling that Sherlock might see his mistake and leave John for someone who didn’t hurt him. There was nothing John feared more than losing Sherlock. He knew how it felt, he knew he wouldn’t survive.

The man by his side stirred but didn’t wake up. In his sleep Sherlock sought out John, slowly crawling closer until he could capture John with one arm over his waist and on leg in between John’s legs. The warmth of Sherlock’s body seeped into John’s skin and John couldn’t help it, he smiled and but an arm around Sherlock to draw him even closer.
John looked around the room. It was a cosy bedroom and remembered the talk they had just a few hours ago. They were already in bed and Sherlock was visible nervous, fidgeting with the duvet. When he finally started to talk the words came out in a rush. It took John a while to realize what Sherlock meant to say, that the cottage wasn’t rented, but that he had bought it, that he hoped that one day they would retire here, not right now, but when Rosie was studying maybe. John had just stared at the man beside him and Sherlock started to ramble, to apologize for not asking John before. Just when he started to retreat not only verbally but also physically by making himself small, John realized that he must say something and so he said the only thing he could think of. “I love you.” Those words transferred best what he wanted to say, that he loved the cottage, but that he loved the idea to retire here with Sherlock even more. Hell, he would retire anywhere as long as Sherlock would be by his side. He said so later, because he wanted to make sure that Sherlock understood it. That this was it for John, that he would follow wherever Sherlock would lead him.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

John stared at the food on the table which should bent due to the amount of food that Harry had put on it. It was a true feast. There was a huge turkey, that looked absolutely delicious. There were chipolatas which John absolutely loved. Harry had also roasted a mountain of parsnips and brussels sprouts and the sauce looked creamy in its dipping bowl beside the Yorkshire Puddings. And when Harry finally sat down after loading the table, she already announced that she made a Christmas pudding, albeit without alcohol. Her smile was bright, and she looked truly happy when she turned to look at Clara. They had finally found back together. Harry was clean, no drop of alcohol for three years now. They were meant to be together, Clara had explained, as shy smile on her lips.

Meant to be together, John thought bitterly. He wished he was meant to be together with anyone, no not just anyone, he knew exactly who he knew he was meant to be together with, Sherlock.  But things have been difficult, since the Culverton Smith case. No that wasn’t true either. Things have been difficult since Sherlock came back. And John knew that it was his fault. He had asked for a miracle and when he got it, he reacted like an asshole. And now, he was here with Harry and Clara and couldn’t stop wallowing in self-pity while a stared at the delicious food on the table, and he was so lost in thought that he didn’t even hear Harry speaking to him.

“What?” John asked when he finally noticed her voice.

Harry looked at him with the kind of exasperated look that told him he did something wrong.

“You are an idiot” Harry proclaimed.

“What?” John asked again.

“I know exactly what you thought about.” Harry started and stopped his attempted at asking her what she meant by shushing him with a wave of her hand. “No, you will listen now. You are here, but you don’t want to be here.” He wanted to object again, but couldn’t get a word in. “You want to be with him.”

“Harry.”

“No, John, stop lying, stop lying to yourself, stop lying to him. You love him. It is time to stop trying to be what are stupid parents wanted us to be. It is not who we are, and we will never be happy if we constantly try to live up to their ideas. It nearly killed me and I nearly lost Clara, because of this conflict that cannot be resolved. When there is one thing, I learned in the last couple of years in therapy then it is the fact that you have to move on from the past and that you have to be who you want to be, otherwise you will always be miserable. And it will kill you and it will kill him. You are both miserable. Hell, when I picked up Rosie at Baker Street last week to go the Christmas market it was so plain to see how miserable you both are. When I asked you to join me and Clara for Christmas dinner, I could see how he watched at you and how dejected he looked when he wasn’t included. He wanted to spend Christmas with you and Rosie. He wants a sign that he is important to you, that you have forgiven him.”

Harry took a deep breath.

“I have forgiven him.” John said quietly.

“Yes, you have, but he doesn’t know it, because you idiots don’t really talk to each other.” Harry exclaimed angrily. John wanted to say something, but he didn’t know what to say. He wanted to contradict her, but he knew that she was right.

“John, you love him, and he loves you and you are both idiots not to act on that, but you cannot wait for him to do the first step. You have to say something.”

John started to shake his head. Again, he knew she was right, but he couldn’t say anything, neither here to her nor to Sherlock.

“He will never say anything, because he is way too afraid to lose you. You, you stupid man, who always has to proclaim that you are not gay.”

“Harry, please.” John whispered.

“No, John, I’ve had enough.” With that she got up and stormed into the kitchen, only to appear again loaded with an armful of food containers that she started to fill with the various foods from the table.

“Harry?” John asked and looked up to her.

“You will take the food and go to the place where you belong, to him, to Baker Street. And once in your life you will be honest, honest to yourself and to him.” Harry angrily showed more food into the containers. “I have cooked extra food because I thought you would do the right thing and asked him. Hell, I even asked you explicitly to invite him.”

“He deserves a better friend than me.” John said quietly, biting his lip. “I’ve hurt him so much.”

“Yes, you did.” Harry interrupted him. “And that is one more reason why he will not say anything, not after everything you did to him, not after how much you hurt him. He died for you, he killed for you, he let you marry that awful woman, hell, he allowed you to hurt him, both physically and mentally. He would do anything for you, but he will never say anything. He will not dare to suggest anything, not even to asked you to spend Christmas with him.”

“Harry.” John said, and it sounded like a whimper.

“Listen to me John. What you did to him was horrible, but you still love him, and he still loves you and you are the one who has to make it right. You have to apologize and tell him what he means to you. You have to asked for forgiveness and for a second chance. And you will start with bringing him this Christmas dinner.” She shoved the food containers into his direction.

“But Rosie.” John tried to object.

“Don’t you dare to use your daughter as an accuse.” Harry exclaimed furiously. “She can stay with us tonight and even tomorrow if you two need the time to sort it out.” And as if she sensed that he wanted to object again she continued. “And don’t you dare to suggest that Sherlock would reject you because of Rosie. He is so clearly besotted with her, you are blind if you didn’t notice that.”

And John knew he could not disagree with that. He had been surprised to notice the way Sherlock took care of the little girl and she clearly loved him as well. They adored each other, and it was plain to see for everyone.

With a sigh John got up and gathered the food containers.

 

Half an hour later he slowly walked up the stairs to Sherlock’s flat. When he opened the door, he was greeted only by the dim light of the fairy lights draped over the mirror and the window. He looked around and saw Sherlock curled up on the sofa. His eyes were closed, and he was wearing his blue silk dressing gown, clutching the union jack pillow to is chest. He looked way to thin and vulnerable. Slowly John walked up to the sofa, putting the bag with the food containers on the coffee table before he kneeled in front of the sofa.

“Sherlock.” He said quietly, not sure if Sherlock was awake. “Sherlock, are you awake?”

“No, no, no.” Sherlock started whispering and shaking his head while not opening his eyes. “I thought I manage to live without these hallucinations.”

John frowned. Hallucinations. Sherlock was thinking John was a hallucination and this was not the first time. The thought broke John’s heart a bit more. Had he hurt his friend so much that he imagined another John to cope?

“Sherlock” John started but stopped when he heard Sherlock mumble.

“Or I have a stroke. Isn’t smelling food when there is none a sign of a stroke.” There was a frown on Sherlock’s face, but he still didn’t open his eyes. “I hope it will be fast.”

John couldn’t stand hearing Sherlock talk like that and carefully laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“Sherlock, it is me John, I am not a hallucination and you don’t have a stroke. I brought food for a Christmas dinner.” John started to explain which prompted Sherlock to open his eyes. They were red rimmed. It was obvious that Sherlock had cried.

“You are real?” Sherlock asked cautiously, and the look of uncertainty was painful to watch. “But you are at Harry’s place, with Rosie.”

“I was.” John said. “The food is from her.” He motioned to the bag on the coffee table.

Sherlock followed his gesture with his eyes. “But, why are you here?” Sherlock turned to look at John again.

And John knew he needed to say the right thing and he remembered Clara. “I am meant to be with you and I am sorry it took me so long to admit.”

Sherlock sat up and stared at John and John knew he needed to say it all.

“I am sorry for so many things. I know I hurt you in so many ways. What I did in the mortuary.” He saw that Sherlock wanted to say something, probably downplay what has happened. “No, listen. It was not okay. What I did was unforgiveable. And I hurt you before. I hurt you when you came back. I asked for a miracle and when you gave it to me, I reacted like an asshole. And I married that woman, even though even back then I knew she was just a replacement for you and I was such a coward not admitting that to myself and instead I forced you to be my best man. Don’t think I didn’t notice that you left after playing that song for us. I noticed and I desperately wanted to follow you, but I was a coward again. And then again when I returned to her after she had shot you. And I should have told you that I wanted to stay with you, but that I feared for the life of my child. I should have asked you for help. And it just went downwards from there on. There were so many moments when I wanted to tell you, but I was a coward over and over again and I hope that you will forgive me for all the hurt I caused you and that you give me a second chance.”

Sherlock just stared at him, blinking. It went on for what felt like hours to John.

“Please say something.” John urged him.

“Is this real?” Sherlock whispered after a while and John’s heart broke even more. He stood up and sat down beside Sherlock to hug him as close as possible.

“This is real.” John spoke softly. “This is real. I am here and I tell you that I was a stupid idiot and a coward and that I know I hurt you but that I will do everything I can to make it up to you. I love you.”

He heard a quite sob and when he leaned back a bit to look into Sherlock’s face, he saw tears streaming down his face. “Oh Sherlock, please, don’t cry.”

“This cannot be real.” Sherlock whispered between his sobs.

“What can I do to make you believe?” John asked carefully, but he saw that Sherlock just shrugged. “Maybe we just need to take it step by step.” John got up and stretched out his hand to Sherlock. “Let us have Christmas dinner first. You look way too thin.” He tried to smile and was glad when Sherlock took his hand and stood up. “And when we are finished, we gonna talk a bit, yeah?” He saw Sherlock nod.

 

They went into the kitchen, Sherlock stayed close to John all of the time when he warmed up the food in the microwave which was free of any experiments, as was the table. And John remembered that Sherlock had relocated all of his experiments to 221c when John had started to turn up with Rosie in tow. Again, John felt like an idiot for not seeing the meaning behind the gesture.

Dinner was mostly eaten in silence. There was a brush of sock clad feet underneath the table and shy looks by Sherlock which John always answered with a smile. When they were nearly finished Sherlock started to speak.

“Is this just because of Christmas?”

“No.” John answered a bit forcefully. “Well, honestly, I was bawled out by Harry.” Sherlock looked shocked. “And she was right. She said all the things I needed to hear, called me an idiot, dressed me down for hurting you, for not talking to you, for not admitting to myself and to you how I feel.” Sherlock watched him intently. “And then she packed up the food and shoved me out of the door.”

“I understand.” Sherlock said thoughtfully.

“No, I don’t think you do.” John objected. He didn’t want Sherlock to think this was only a Christmas thing. “She saw that you love me, that you love Rosie.” Sherlock turned his face down so that John couldn’t see it anymore. “And she saw that I love you, that I have done so for a long time. She reminded me that there might still be a chance. That you would maybe forgive me. That I might not deserve a second chance but that I would probably get one nevertheless. And that we are both miserable and that I should starting to be the man I want to be.”

“And what man do you want to be?” Sherlock asked quietly not looking up.

“I want to be the man who loves you, openly for all to see and in any way you let me. I want to never hurt you again. I want to be a good father to my daughter and for her to grow up with two daddies who love her and who will show her that love is worth fighting for. I want to make you happy, for you to forget the hurt of the past. I want to grow old with you.” John stopped. He didn’t know where all the words came from and he now waited anxiously for Sherlock’s reaction.

Sherlock looked up. “I want that too.” His voice was just a whisper, but it was all John needed to get up, tug Sherlock to stand up as well and hug him tightly.

After that they moved to the sofa, cuddled together and started to really talk, about what they felt, about all the things that had happened. John had cried when Sherlock talked about his time away. Sherlock had cried when he heard about John’s feelings after he had faked his death. The both cried remembering all the things that happened after Sherlock’s return. Totally exhausted but also strangely happy they retired into Sherlock’s room. It was there that the kissed. It was a gentle kiss just before they fell asleep. John’s last thought was that he would wake up with Sherlock by his side tomorrow and that they would start their life together. With a smile he fell asleep.

 

Chapter Text


It was dark in the flat as John carefully walked towards Sherlock’s bedroom. He hadn’t been in here for ages, the last time was when he had taken care of Sherlock after he had been shot. And even back then Sherlock insisted on his privacy and often asked John to leave him alone. John guessed that Sherlock didn’t want him to see the scars on his back. John had seen them anyway, but he refrained to ask Sherlock about it. But it was the first time John realized that Sherlock’s time away wasn’t all fun and games. So now here he was, in front of the door. Just seconds ago, John had heard Sherlock scream. As he had not heard any other noises John suspected a nightmare. And his suspicion was confirmed when he finally dared to step into the room and saw Sherlock curled up in ball on the bed, quietly whimpering.

“Sherlock?” John asked quietly but his friend wasn’t answering. The whimpering just grew a bit louder. And John could hear his name been spoken. He frowned. Was he in Sherlock’s nightmare?

“Sherlock, please wake up.” He stepped a bit closer. He hesitated to touch his friend. He knew from his own experience that being touched while having a nightmare mostly wasn’t well received.

“John, please, don’t.” Sherlock’s voice sounded wrecked and so vulnerable, so hurt. What was it that John shouldn’t do?

“Sherlock, it is just a dream.” John said a bit louder. Sherlock whimpered again and curled himself up even more. John sat down on the bed. When Sherlock sobbed, he finally dared to touch is friend on the shoulder to carefully shake him awake. The next moment Sherlock jumped out of the bed and crawled to the far end corner of the room, visibly shaking, curling himself up as if to protect his body from an attack.

“Sherlock, it is me, John. You just had a nightmare.” John tried to calm his friend. He got up from the bed and took a few steps to get closer to Sherlock who just stared at the floor. He looked so scarred. What has happened in that dream?

“Please, John, don’t” Sherlock said again, he kept his head down, one arm up like he wanted to protect his head.

“Sherlock.” Said man flinched when John said his name. It was then that he realized that Sherlock was afraid of him. That he was the attacker in Sherlock’s nightmare. Frozen in the place where he stood in the middle of the bedroom all the memories came back, when he had attacked Sherlock, back then in the mortuary of Culverton Smith’s scary hospital. John looked at his scared friend who seemed to not really be awake but still in the clutches of the nightmare. Was it about what happened in the mortuary? John wanted to help, but he didn’t know how. They had never spoken about it. Hell, he had not even apologized for what had happened. But then speaking about things that really mattered wasn’t really their expertise, John thought bitterly. After everything has happened, after Sherlock’s birthday, they have just moved on. Sherlock was getting better, at least physically. John had visited him often, sometimes with Rosie. He had let Sherlock even babysit Rosie. His little girl clearly adored her godfather. And then a couple of weeks ago they had started to work on cases again. Everything seem to be okay again. But now, when John really thought about, he realized that things have changed. Sherlock was quieter, not as acerbic as he used to be, like he was trying not to say something wrong. And tonight, was the first night that John had used his old bedroom. They had a very long case and with Rosie safely staying downstairs with Mrs. Hudson it was the logical solution. Which brought his thoughts back to the situation at hand, standing in Sherlock’s bedroom, looking at his friend who by now was huddled in the corner of the room, shivering and staring at something only he could see. John got down on his knees and slowly made his way closer to Sherlock.

“Sherlock, it is me, you have a nightmare. Wake up.” He tried again. And this time Sherlock looked at him.

“John?” He whispered.

“Yes, it is me.” John crawled a bit closer. “We are in Baker Street. We finished the Maconi case yesterday. Do you remember?”

Sherlock just stared at him but eventually he nodded.

“Good.” John said, and he relaxed a bit. But as he got closer again, he saw that Sherlock flinched when he tried to touch his friend. It broke his heart. How could this happen? How could he ever hurt his friend so much that he now was afraid of him? John withdrew his hand. “You are cold. Do you want to go back to bed?”

Sherlock shook his had and stared at John. He was shivering even more now.

“Then let me get your duvet.” John got up and wanted to grab the duvet from the bed when he noticed that there were two. He grabbed both of them and discovered that one was a weighted blanket. He knew they were used as therapeutic means to help kids with autism, but also adults with PTSD. He swallowed thinking about the implications of that knowledge. Back when they lived together Sherlock definitely had his luxurious eiderdown duvet. John took both duvets and got back on the floor, trying not to spook Sherlock. But by now he seemed to be more awake. He was still curled up but some of the tension has left his body. John draped the two duvets around his friend.

“Thank you.” Sherlock whispered not looking at John.

“You are welcome.” John answered and decided to sit down beside Sherlock.

They sat in silence for a while.

“You can go back to bed.” Sherlock said after a while, still not looking at John.

“And leave you alone here on the floor. No, not happening.” John answered.

Silence spread out again. It took a while before Sherlock spoke again.

“I didn’t want you to see.” He said, and it sounded defeated.

“You didn’t want me to see that you have a nightmare about me hurting you.” The moment John spoke those words he knew it was the wrong thing to say as he saw Sherlock visibly flinch. Why does he always have to hurt his friend? “Sorry, I, god, I am an idiot. I always manage to hurt you. I don’t want to. I, I just don’t know what to do to make it right again. I made so many mistakes. I am sorry what has happened in the mortuary. I never apologized for that and you never asked for it, but I am so sorry.” John started to ramble on, repeating his apology over and over again until he suddenly felt Sherlock’s warm hand on his knee. He looked up and saw a few tears running down his friend’s cheeks.

“Oh, Sherlock.” John said. He desperately wanted to wrap Sherlock in a tight hug, but he didn’t dare to do that. So instead he just took Sherlock’s hand and gave it a little squeeze. “I don’t know what to do to make it right again.”

“You are here.” Sherlock answered.

“That cannot be enough.” John said looking at their hands. He started to shiver.

“Maybe not, but it is a beginning.” With those words Sherlock withdraw his hand and uncurled himself a bit just to offer John a place underneath those blankets. John scooted over and was wrapped up in the cocoon. The heavy blanket had an oddly calming effect.

“This is nice. I mean the weight.” John said. But it wasn’t only the weight, it was the body heat of Sherlock close by.

“Mmmhh.” Sherlock agreed. There was a long pause. “I had one as a kid.” Again silence.

“You.” John hesitated to ask.

“You can ask.” Sherlock said quietly.

“You are autistic?” John finally asked.

“Mmmhhh.” Sherlock nodded, not looking at him. “I always thought you knew.”

“I suspected it, but I didn’t know.” John pondered about the times when he had noticed the traits and the times when he had looked them up at his computer in the clinic as he hadn’t wanted Sherlock to notice his research.

“Does change something?” Sherlock asked and the vulnerability in his voice was hard to bear for John.

“No, of course not.” John turned to look at Sherlock, but he was still staring at the floor in front of him. After another pause. “You had a weighted blanket as a kid and now you got one again?”

Sherlock turned to John and it looked as if he contemplated whether to tell John the truth or not. He turned away again and started to speak very quietly. “It was a recommendation of my therapist.”

“You have a therapist?” John asked incredulous.

“It wasn’t really that I wanted one, but Mycroft made it a condition after the Culverton Smith case.” Sherlock said with a sigh. “And she isn’t that bad.”

So, Sherlock had a therapist, John thought. Was it because of what happened in the mortuary, was it because John had been acting like an asshole toward his best friend?

“Was it because of.” John hesitated.

“Yes, no.” Sherlock answered hastily.

“But the nightmare.” John tried to formulate a question, but he didn’t manage to get the words out.

“Yes. The nightmare was about the mortuary. But that is a rare nightmare. I have others.” Sherlock explained softly.

“Others?”

“From my time away.” Silence. “From my time in solitary confinement.” Silence. “From being shot.” Silence. “From what happened at the aquarium.”

With each sentence John’s heart broke a little more. It was a list of what Sherlock had done to keep John safe, to keep Mary save. And all he got in return was John’s anger and more pain. “I am so sorry.”

“It is okay.”

“No, it is not okay.” And now John dared to hug Sherlock and while his friend tensed up at first, he soon melted in John’s arms. “I don’t know how to make this right, but I promise you that I will do everything I can to make it right again. Sherlock, you are the most important person in my life and I am sorry that you had to endure so much pain and that I caused you so much pain. I wish we could go back in time, to the time when we were both still okay.”

Sherlock wriggled out of his hug and turned around to look at John. “I don’t want to go back.”

“You don’t?” John asked. He had always thought that Sherlock might have the same wish.

“No.” Sherlock shook his head. “I want to move on. I want to.” He hesitated.

“What do you want?” John asked as he turned around a bit to face Sherlock.

“I want you to move back here, with Rosie.” Sherlock said, quickly turning around again to look down at the floor again, as if he didn’t want to see John, obviously expecting a rejection.

“You want me back here?” John asked. He couldn’t really believe it.

“I always want you here.” Sherlock answered quietly.

“Even after everything that has happened? After everything I did to you?” John asked.

“We hurt each other, John.” Sherlock said calmly. There was a long pause, but John sensed that he would add something. “As I said, my therapist isn’t that bad. She made me realize that we could hurt each other so much, because we care so much for each other, no that is not the right word, because we love each other so much.” Sherlock hesitated a moment as he looked at John probably waiting for the denial. But John just nodded. He knew Sherlock was right. He loved him and over the last few weeks the more John thought about everything that has happened, the more he realized that Sherlock must truly love him as well. “And you just said that I am the most important person in your life and the same is true for me, you are the most important person in my life.”

“So, what now?” John asked. “We just forget what has happened. That will not work, will it? I mean just tonight you had a nightmare about how I have beaten you to a bloody pulp.” John shook his head.

“Now, now we try to move on.” Sherlock said. “Moving on, doesn’t mean to forget.”

“You sound like a therapist.” John said with a sad chuckle.

“Yeah, well, as I said before, she isn’t that bad.” Sherlock said and there was a very small smile on his face, a smile that gave John a bit of hope.

“Does she do double appointments?” John asked, and he wasn’t sure if he just joked or if he really wanted to know.

“I can ask.” Sherlock said.

John looked at Sherlock again and realized that indeed it might be a good idea. “Yeah, that might be helpful.”

They sat in silence for a while. John thought about all the things they had said tonight to each other. They were more open than they have ever been before. Maybe that was the way too move on, to finally talk to each other.

“Come on, lets get up from the floor.” John finally said after a while. “I am getting too old for sitting on the floor.” He got up and offered Sherlock his hand to help him stand up. As Sherlock crawled into his bed, dragging the heavy blankets with him, John had the distinct feeling that he missed something. Sherlock looked sad and defeated. And then John realized that he hadn’t answered Sherlock asking him to move back into Baker Street. And that Sherlock had said that he loved John, well not directly, but clear enough. So, John made a decision then and there.

“Budge up.” He said as he crawled into the bed to lay down beside Sherlock and the wide-eyed expression on his friend’s face told him that he hadn’t expected this, but he saw no resistance. Nevertheless, he asked to make sure. “Is this okay?”

“Mmmhh.” Sherlock mumbled and nodded merely perceptible.

“I love you too.” John said. Sherlock stared at him, blinking, so John waited a bit for what else he needed to say. “It was time to say, wasn’t it? And yes, I will move back here, if you have me, me and Rosie.”

“Of course, I will have you.” Sherlock immediately interposed. “Both of you.”

John smiled. “Then you have me.” John looked at his friend. He didn’t quite know how to say what he wanted to say, so there was a little pause. “In which ever way you want me.”

“Which ever way?” Sherlock whispered, and he looked a bit scared.

“Yeah.” John nodded. “I mean, god, I am really bad at this. I mean, we never really talked about it, not really.” He started to ramble, and he hated it. Get a grip, he thought. “You remember back the first evening at Angelo’s. I asked you.”

“You hit on me.” Sherlock stated matter-of-factly.

“Well, yes, sort of.” John conceded. Now Sherlock looked at him like he was a very interesting specimen under his microscope. “But what is more important, back then I said that everything is fine and that is still true. And I mean everything.”

“But you also insinuated that a romantic relationship would complete me as a human being.” Sherlock interrupted him.

“Yeah.” John admitted. “That was me, being an idiot again.”

“So, you don’t want a romantic relationship with me?” Sherlock asked. Leave it to him to ask such a direct question when John was only able to talk around the issue.

“I wouldn’t say no.” John said carefully. “But I would never ask something of you that you are not willing to give, that you don’t feel comfortable with.” John paused a moment, but Sherlock stayed silent. “I mean we already established that we love each other, right?” He saw Sherlock nodding. “Good. That is good. So, we know that and we both want to move on from all the shit we’ve been through in the past. And the thing I want to say, but seemingly I am not able to put it into simple words, the thing I want to say is, that I want to move back here, with you. That I want to raise Rosie with you. That I want to grow old with you.” John had to pause a moment when he realized what he had just said. He knew it was true, it had been in his heart for a long time, but in the past he had never even dared to think about it. “I want us to be together, in which ever way you want.”

“Hmmm.” Sherlock mumbled. “But I don’t know.”

“You don’t need to know.” John interrupted him. “We don’t need to know. Not now. We will find out.” Sherlock looked at him sceptical.

“But what if we want different things?” Sherlock asked very softly und very unsure.

“Then we will figure out how to deal with that.” John answered very determinantly. “Together.”

“Together.” Sherlock repeated, and it sounded like he tried to taste the word on his tongue.

“Together.” John echoed. “Because we are better together than not, right?”

“Yeah.” Sherlock nodded. “Together.”

“Good.” John said and scooted a bit closer to hug Sherlock who after a moment of hesitation hugged him back. “Let’s try to sleep a bit, okay?”

“Mmmhh.” He heard Sherlock whispering before the breathing turned into the even way that indicated that he fell asleep.

What a strange night, John thought. A nightmare turned into something John had never dared to dream of. But here he was with Sherlock peacefully sleeping in his arms. He knew it wouldn’t always be this way, it wouldn’t be easy, but somehow, he knew that they would finally be able to talk about the important things and he was sure that whatever will happen, that they will manage to deal with it together. With that thought John fell asleep.