It was not very subtle to buy a second chair to fit opposite his own in the renovated flat. Sherlock had not intended for it to be subtle. It had taken him two weeks of research to find the exact same model and he had paid too much money for it, but it was worth the message it would send towards John.
And John ignored it.
John ignored that his chair was waiting for him in Baker Street to come back, so they could continue life as it had been before the fall. Well, with the addition of Rosamund Mary Watson, who was, quite frankly a delight to be around. Sherlock had always preferred the company of children to that of adults because they were still open to new ideas, unbiased, and curious about anything and everything, and so he enjoyed their weekly meetings at the park immensely. They would walk to the pond, feed the ducks, have ice cream and Sherlock would tell her about his experiments. She never called him a freak or yawned at him for going on about ash. Instead, she waddled alongside Sherlock, her tiny hand in his, and repeated words she liked out loud.
He never met her at the flat, because as soon as the renovations had been finished, John had avoided Baker Street like the plague, and the chair stood vacated. As he watched John walk away, Rosie on his arm, waving at him, Sherlock wondered why that could be.
They were good. John had said so. They had forgiven each other as well as they could and tried their best to forget what they had done. They were good, but they were not the same. Where Sherlock enjoyed every second together and counted the minutes to see John again, his (former) best friend kept his distance, even when they sat on a bench together and watched Rosie run around the park. To Sherlock John was home, and John had found a different one.
Sherlock’s hands clenched into fists, as John Watson became smaller and smaller, until he disappeared from view. He was tired of waiting for John to make up his mind.
John sat on his chair in his living room in the house he had called home for the past three years. The chair didn’t quite fit the shape of his body, and the living room was furnished to be functional. Mary had not been the type of person to be cosy, or prone to collecting things. The house, nice as it was, was just a house and nothing more. It was a roof over their heads.
John missed Baker Street. He missed the clutter and the experiments on the table, he missed the violin in the early morning hours, and Mrs. Hudson bustling about. He missed Sherlock. And what was worse, he knew he could just go back there. They would welcome Rosie and him with open arms. Sherlock would not help with the move of course but would show the little one around the flat. John could cut back on shifts in the clinic without the mortgage for the house hanging over his head and they would go on more cases together. They would look at bodies and chase robbers and come home to Rosie for a cuddle. John would make dinner and Sherlock would play Rosie to sleep.
And John couldn’t do it. As wonderful as that sounded, it would not be enough. John got up and walked to the kitchen. His first instinct was to grab the bottle of whiskey off the shelf and pour himself a drink. Instead, he switched the kettle on. Tea was the best and most British way to deal with heartache after all. He listened to the water boil, the only prominent sound in the flat as he closed his eyes for a moment.
Mycroft had found him the best therapist, a real one this time, so he could deal with his hurt, grief and anger. For the first time in his life, as if a switch had been flipped, John had talked, and Matt had listened, two hours a week for over six months.
His wife’s betrayal.
Being a single parent.
Abandoning his daughter.
Those things would always haunt him, make him feel guilty and angry and hurt, but he had the tools to deal with those feelings now. He knew when he had to remove himself from a situation, or go for a run, or turn up the radio. He still wasn’t a good man, but Sherlock had been right, he was only human.
And he knew now, when something was too much to handle.
Sherlock, Baker Street, that was too much and not enough. Too much, because being near Sherlock meant he had to fight those tender feelings down constantly, and he was exhausted. So, instead of fighting the temptation, he had to avoid it. John had to stay strong, even though it took almost the same amount of his strength not to just give in and be pulled into Sherlock’s orbit again. It was a trap and John found himself unable to act, to change his fate.
John cleared his throat and blinked the wetness from his eyes. In the glass of the kitchen cupboard, his gaze found his own reflection. He had looked worse, that he knew. The moustache had made him old. He liked the beard better. He liked how it made him different from the John he had been before Sherlock Holmes had taken that small, fatal step off the roof. He wasn’t that John anymore, the happy John. He didn’t need to look like him. First, after the moustache had turned out to be a major failure, he had chanced his hair. He prefered hit to the clean military cut. The beard was the newest addition. John had been surprised by the silver colour that his hair had faded to. He was middle aged. That was okay.
Shaking his head to tear his eyes away, John reached out for a cup. Just as he placed it on the counter, there was a knock on the door.
John’s first instinct was to grab his gun, and he almost laughed at himself. This was not central London; this was a suburban neighbourhood. Nothing ever happened here.
Nothing ever happens to me.
The words echo in his mind as he walks to the door and opens it. Sherlock had never been here, but somehow it was not a surprise to see him standing there. Who else would come here at one in the morning like it was a normal thing to do?
“You can make me a cup as well.” Sherlock said, as he walked past him and into the living room. “Two sugars, in case you forgot.”
John shook his head, but he could feel the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. He was halfway through the kitchen when he stopped and turned towards his best friend. “Sherlock?”
“Hmm?” The detective looked up from his phone.
“What are you doing here?”
Sherlock looked at him with a face that said something along the lines of ‘you should already know that. I am tired of explaining the most obvious things to you, John. You are an idiot, why do I tolerate you?’. He had seen that face many times and had grown to love it.
“Don’t look at me like that, Sherlock. It’s one in the morning, you’re here, and you brought a suitcase. So yes, an explanation would be nice.” Neutral words, when John could barely cope with the excitement that flooded his whole body every time he saw Sherlock Holmes.
“We renovated Baker Street. We made it liveable again, but for some reason, you don’t want to come home. I suspect, it is the size. There is not much room for Rosie. I can understand that. So, I am here, now. I only brought the most important things; the rest can be dealt with later.” Sherlock picked up his suitcase again. “The guest room is on the right, if I am not mistaken.”
And John could not even protest. He watched as Sherlock dragged the suitcase up the stairs.
The tea, for the night, was forgotten.