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can we always be this close?

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There are two men that live at the end of the road.

Angeline has just moved into a cozy house that sits comfortably in between two similarly cozy houses, and she hasn’t had much of a chance to go out and make friends yet (mostly because her mum keeps dragging her off to shop with her, ducking into small shops that specialize in clothes or food or stationary - Angie is starting to think that there is no part of this town that can be described as anything but cozy) but she has seen two men walking around the small town, sometimes together, sometimes by themselves.

They aren’t particularly interesting by themselves - one is rather short, blond, and is always wearing some sort of jumper. His cozy look fits in perfectly with the rest of the town, and he usually flashes her a kind smile whenever he catches her looking at him. The other is very tall, and his hair is dark and curly. He doesn’t smile when he’s by himself, and he looks kinda mean - but together, they are. They look at each other like her mum and dad look at each other, like they love each other. The tall one even smiles when they’re together.

Angie asks her mum about it, one day. They are in the park, and while scanning the area for other kids her age, Angie spots the two men, walking together. The shorter one says something that makes the taller throw his head back and laugh. The blond’s eyes sparkle as he watches him laugh, before joining him in his laughter. “mummy,” she says, tugging her mum’s trouser leg. She points to the two men. “Are they in love?”

“Don’t point, honey,” her mum says first, and so Angie drops her arm obediently. Only then do her mother’s eyes stray to the two men, and she smiles as she watches the two of them walk. “Doctor Watson and Mr. Holmes? Yes, they’re married.”

“Just like you and daddy?”

“Just like me and daddy.”

Angie had never met two men that were married and in love, but the way they make each other smile it must be true, so Angie shrugs and turns back to looking for other kids.

---

It’s a while before Angie thinks of them again. School has started by that time, and she has plenty of new friends. They’re playing in the road in front of their houses, and the five of them are trying to see who can reach the end of the street on their bike first. They had to start over because Jafar was cheating, but they’re finally back in line and ready.

They had decided the easiest way to start was to count down at the same time, and they do that, chorusing. “Three . . . two . . . one!” Angie is off in a flash - she knows she’s the fastest out of all of them, this will just help her prove it. The wind flies through her mousy brown hair, the stands falling out of her ponytail and she races to the end. She’s almost there, she can see the end of the road come closer and closer-

There is a sudden skid sound from behind her, then a thud, and then a cry. Angie quickly breaks her bike and turns back to see what happened.

James is on the ground, on his hands and knees, and as she watches, he turns around to sit on his butt, revealing two bloody knees. His lower lip trembles, and as Angie quickly gets off her bike and runs towards him, the training wheels that she insists she doesn’t need keeping her bike steady, he bursts into tears.

Angie drops to her own knees much more gently than James had fell on them, and panics for a minute. What is she supposed to do? Her mum is too far away to get, and Angie has never met James’s mum, so she can’t find her. James is still crying, so she says, “It’s okay, stop crying!” He doesn’t stop crying.

Safaa drops down on James’s other side, pats his back and repeats, “It’s okay,” over and over again. James’s cries get quieter, but they don’t stop.

Jafar, meanwhile, is standing, and he turns to Ada on his side and says loudly enough for them all to hear, “What do we do?!”

She replies, also nervously, “I don’t know! I’m gonna- I’m gonna go get my mum!” Ada turns on her heel and runs back towards the houses. Angie tries to call after her, tell her to take her bike, it’ll be faster, but the words are drowned out by James. She wasn’t very loud, anyway.

“Oh no, what happened?” comes a voice from behind them, and they all turn to the source. Coming out of the house is the man Angie recognizes as either Doctor Watson or Mr. Holmes - whichever one of the two was the blond one.

Jafar only looks more nervous that he already was, and Angie doesn’t know if she’s allowed to say anything to him. Her mum had always told her not to talk to strangers, but Doctor Watson or Mr. Holmes wasn’t really a stranger, if she (kind of) knew his name?

Safaa is the bravest out of all of them, and stands up to say, “James fell off his bike and hurt his knees!”

Doctor Watson/Mr. Holmes turns to look at James, who is still sniffling. Angie is glad that he’s (mostly) stopped crying. She hadn’t been sure what to do and it wasn’t a good feeling. “Well, that’s no good,” he says, lowering himself onto the floor carefully. He’s carrying a black box that Angie hadn’t noticed before, and he puts it on the ground next to him as he sits. “Don’t worry, I’m a doctor, we’ll have you patched up in no time.”

Angie stands up and moves back to go stand with the rest of her friends behind who she now knows is Doctor Watson, and watches as he pulls out a small white packet, ripping off the top and pulling out a white cloth-looking-thing. It smells like a doctor’s office.

“Now, this is going to hurt just a bit,” Doctor Watson warns him. “Do you want your friends here?”

James nods, and all three of them crowd him again. Angie sits next to him and awkwardly pats him on the shoulder. James grasps onto Jafar’s hand - Jafar looks even more nervous that James does. Doctor Watson smiles at all of them, and James closes his eyes as the cloth inches closer to his knees, only for them to fly wide open again as he yells, “Ouch!” as it comes into contact with the cut.

Doctor Watson wipes both of his knees with the cloth quickly, and James is sniffling again at the end of it, but he hasn’t broken into tears. “There, sorry about that. We have to make sure nothing bad gets into your cut, just in case.” Then out of his box comes two big bandages, big enough that they’ll probably cover the entire cut! They each have one big smiley face in the center. Doctor Watson sticks them onto each knee, and then stands up with another smile, reaching into his black box again to pull out a lolly. “Here you are, for being brave.”

James eagerly grabs onto the lolly, and then remembers his manners. “Thank you, mister!”

Angie kinda wants a lolly, but she definitely isn’t going to ask for one. Doctor Watson picks up on it anyway, and pulls three more out of his box. “You’re welcome - do you want one too?”

Angie nods eagerly. Doctor Watson laughs and hands her one, as well as to Safaa and Jafar. “Thank you!”

“Yeah, thank you!” “Thanks, sir!”

It’s just then that Ada comes back, her mum in tow. “Ada, look!” James says before she can say anything, holding up his lolly. “The doctor gave me two bandages and then this!”

“Cool,” Ada says quietly, looking at Doctor Watson nervously. Angie knows that she doesn’t like new people - it had taken them forever to befriend her, and only recently has she stopped being so nervous around them. She tried to communicate to Ada that Doctor Watson is nice, but she doesn’t think the point gets across very well.

“Well, thank you for taking care of James,” Ada’s mum says to Doctor Watson, holding out a hand. “Idaline Adelaide.”

Doctor Watson shakes her hand. “John Watson. It was no problem.”

Ada surveys the kids and the bikes, still splayed out on the road where they had stopped (Angie, now that James isn’t hurt anymore, sees that her bike is clearly in front of all the others - she would have won) and starts, “I think-”

She’s cut off by loud voice coming from inside the house yelling, ”John! John, what are you doing? Come back inside!”

Angie marvels at how loud they are, to be heard all the way outside the house. Apparently Doctor Watson is just as loud, because he yells back, “Hold on, you prat! I’m busy, I’ll be right back!” The words are harsh, but the tone is anything but, sounding almost fond.

Speaking of harsh words - Angie gasps along with all of her friends at the word ‘prat’. “You shouldn’t say that word, mister,” she says. Her mother has always told her to not use that word, along with many other words. They were rude.

Doctor Watson coughs awkwardly. “Ah, yes, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t.” Mrs. Adelaide tuts, but for some reason, she is smiling.

Safaa looks at him disapprovingly, the same look she gives Kevin when he tries to take her spot at lunch. James, on the other hand, looks much more interested in the yeller than what had been yelled. “Was that your wife, mister? You have a ring, just like my parents do!”

“That was man’s voice, though,” Jafar disagrees, anxiety gone now that James is okay.

Doctor Watson smiles. “You’re right, I do have a ring. That was my husband, Sherlock.”

Angie remembers this - Doctor John Watson, and Sherlock must be Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The ones that were in love just like her mum and dad were in love. That would explain the fondness - whenever her mum yells at someone, it’s usually over the phone, and it isn’t nearly as soft-sounding as Doctor Watson’s tone.

James doesn’t understand immediately like Angie does, however. “Husband? But then . . . who’s the wife?”

“There is no wife,” Safaa snorts. “Just two husbands.”

James frowns for a second more before shrugging. “Okay.” Angie wonders if he has picked up on their love as well, but he doesn’t pay any more attention to the subject at all, instead turning back to the bikes. “Should we finish?”

Mrs. Adelaide cuts in here. “No, we’re all going back home now. While walking the bikes,” she adds, before James can open his mouth.

Disappointed that she won’t be able to win the race, she grabs her bike, sweet in mouth, and heads back with her friends, only barely catching the second thanks Mrs. Adelaide gives Doctor Watson.

---

John heads back into the house with a smile on his face. Dealing with kids can be either very good or very bad, there’s never any in between, and this was, thankfully, one of the good times.

Sherlock scowls at him when he enters the house from where he is laying down on the sofa. “Where did you go? We were busy!”

“I don’t know if your unbelievably stupid genius brain realized, Sherlock, but there was a kid crying outside and I decided to see what was wrong,” John says. Sherlock is a lot like a child in many ways - the most obvious being that he really is just one overgrown child - and one of them is his tendency to also never have any in between. He was either very observant or very oblivious, and both could be very frustrating (and amazing, but mostly frustrating).

“Yes - scraped knee?” Then, after a peek out the window, “biking accident?”

John didn’t bother to conceal his smile. “Yes. Brilliant.”

Sherlock preens as he always does when John compliments him - it’s been a little more than a decade since the first murmured ”amazing,” but it really doesn’t seem that way. The years since he met Sherlock have passed in a blur. Sometimes it feels as if he has lived two separate lives, one filled with adrenaline rushes and gunfire, running towards danger and watching crimson decorate the edges of his vision, worrying for and about Sherlock, shooting a (more than one) man for him, and another filled with domestic moments, reading with his head on Sherlock’s lap as he solves cold cases, typing up an old case as Sherlock plays a gentle tune on his violin, snipping about how it would be much more efficient if you would just use all your fingers instead of one, arguing about the mold cultures in the fridge and what happened to the milk.

Sherlock connects his two lives, weaves them together seamlessly. He’s the one constant in a very unpredictable life and John loves him for it, loves him for so much more than it.

John doesn’t know when they decided to retire, when they decided that they’d had their fill of danger and instead of murky London and chasing killers through alleyways and stopping criminals obsessed with being the next big game for Sherlock Holmes, they’d rather have bees and a dog and fresh air and together (that’s not to say they don’t occasionally enjoy the thrill of the chase, but they’re definitely not in the thick of it anymore).

John collapses back on the couch where he had been seated, picks his book up again and chuckles when Sherlock’s head returns to his lap, bumping against John’s hand like a cat asking to be pet. That is, of course, what Sherlock is asking for, so he uses the hand not holding the book to run his fingers through Sherlock’s curls, curls that have managed to stay inky black even as John’s own hair grays. Sherlock hums, pleased, and closes his eyes.

Sometimes John thinks of 221B. Their new house mirrored it in many ways, from the new head still in the fridge, to Sherlock’s papers and science experiments cluttering every available surface. Sherlock’s skull had taken up residence on the coffee table, only to be moved to another counter when the space was needed.

Even as much as he thinks of 221B, even as much as he thinks about the men they used to be, flying through life, gun in hand, adrenaline high and in Sherlock’s case, so very clever, he knows he would never go back, now. Those years had been some of the best years of their lives, danger at every corner, but those years didn’t have to compete against where they were now.

John had never expected that he would eventually be able to settle down with someone, the adrenaline junkie that he was. John had never expected Sherlock to be able to settle down with someone. But right now, John finds that bees and a dog and curling up with Sherlock on the sofa and listening to him criticize cop shows and dramas is much more enticing than running after London’s newest thief or murderer.

When the urge does hit, as it sometimes does, they find that Sherlock isn’t as fast as he used to be, find that John’s punches don’t land as hard as they used to. With age comes difference, after all, and even after dealing with the elderly for years as a doctor, John hadn’t expected it to catch up with him so soon. Some things still haven’t changed, though. John’s marksmanship is still as accurate as ever, and Sherlock’s mind hasn’t diminished in the slightest.

They are still John and Sherlock, and they are still very much in love, even if they are not London’s crime-fighting duo anymore.

---

It’s been almost a month since Angie had moved in, and her parents are a lot more comfortable with letting her go outside on her own (or with her friends) now. Instead of having to play in the road in front of her house, they had can head the short distance to the park and play there. It’s a lot bigger, there, and there is a swing set that they take turns on. They’re having a rock-paper-scissors competition to see who gets a turn on one of the two swings first, and Angie is already out, so instead of watching the rest of her friends’ turns, she surveys the park to see what else there is to do. They can play tag, or maybe hide-and-seek in the flowers-

But someone’s already in the flowers. It’s Mr. Sherlock Holmes, his long limbs tucked compactly together as he squats down. He seems to be surveying the flowers in front of him, and as Angie watches, he picks three or four of the lilies and turns his attentions to the roses.

Safaa, the next one out, follows her line of sight. “That’s Mr. Holmes,” she says.

“I know. My mum told me about him.”

“He’s scary, and everyone says he’s really mean,” Ada adds, the last one to lose. Jafar and James have already claimed their prize, pumping their legs to get higher and higher.

“He’s not that scary,” Safaa disagrees, but Angie can see why people say that. His dark coat and scarf make him look very tall, and he almost never smiles, making him look very scary. Angie wonders how John met him, since they seem to be so very different.

Mr. Holmes turns their direction, and Angie instinctively swivels her head back around. Safaa’s ponytail hits her in the face as she does the same, and Ada follows suit. They stand quietly for a second, Angie, already nervous at the thought of Mr. Holmes, much more nervous with Ada’s warnings, tries not to let the thought of Mr. Holmes’s gaze possibly still fixed on them scare her. “Do you . . . do you guys want to play hide and seek?” she asks instead.

Safaa looks skeptical. “But there are only three of us.”

“Four!” comes a voice from above them. James has jumped off his swing, and Angie scatters along with the rest of her friends to get out of James’s way. He lands exactly where Angie was standing. She glares at him, but he only sends her a smile. “And I’m it.”

Angie’s fine with that - she always prefers to hide, anyway. She doesn’t get a chance to check if Safaa or Ada wanted to be it before James is already counting down from twenty (something he is always rubbing in Safaa’s face, because she can’t do it. Safaa always gets mad at him for it.)

Angie runs towards the flowerbed, making sure to hide on the opposite end of where Mr. Holmes is. The flowers are very tall, and if everyone thinks Mr. Holmes really is all that mean, they probably won’t check near him - it’s a perfect hiding spot, as long as Mr. Holmes doesn’t come any closer. She hears James hit ”ready or not, here I come!” and giggles quietly before slapping a hand over her mouth. She has to be quiet.

James catches Ada first, then after a couple seconds, she hears Safaa groan in annoyance and James’s happy crows. She’s the last person left - she hopes Safaa or Ada doesn’t tell James where she is. There’s a shuffling sound next to her, and her eyes dart towards it immediately. She’s probably been caught-

It’s not James, it’s Mr. Holmes. He stares at her for a couple seconds, and Angie stares back. She had been trying to hold her breath earlier, but couldn’t do it for more than a couple seconds at a time. Now, however, she’s doing it effortlessly, as though if she stays still enough, Mr. Holmes won’t see her. It’s painfully obvious that he does, however, and his blue eyes are scarier than the black that he usually wears, staring into hers as if he can read her mind. He probably can, and she tries not to think about how scary she thinks he is, but ends up only thinking about it more.

She’s shocked out of her trance by James pushing aside the flowers she had been hiding in, triumphantly crying, “Gotcha!” before letting out an audible gasp as he sees who is sharing Angie’s hiding spot with her.

To Angie’s relief, he turns his piercing gaze off of her, but lands it on James instead, whose face has changed from gleeful to looking like a deer in headlights. Instead of keeping up the stare like he had with her, though, he maneuvers his face into a smile, and says, “Hello.”

“Uh- hello,” James squeaks. Angie can see past James to where Safaa and Ada are hanging back, Ada looking nervous and Safaa laughing at James’s misfortune. “Sorry, we won’t disturb you anymore!”

“You weren’t disturbing me. I was just looking for flowers. Your game was rather harmless to my concentration, because although children are rather loud usually, hide and seek requires you to be mildly silent. You are a lot more tolerable than most adults, in any case,” Mr. Holmes says. Angie doesn’t understand half the words he said, and James looks like he didn’t either, but she did understand the first part, and Angie knows that there is a far better place to get flowers than from the ground in the park. There is a flower shop not very far from here, and all of Mr. Victor Poppon’s flowers smell and look pretty.

“Mr. Victor Poppon has nice flowers!” Angie tells him. Mr. Holmes has lived here longer than she, but perhaps he still doesn’t know about it? “You can get flowers from there. There are a lot more of them there, too!”

Mr. Holmes’s face changes into something that looks sad, angry, and disappointed all at once, as well as something that Angie can’t identify. “Mr. Poppon doesn’t like me very much,” he says stiffly. “So I must get the flowers from here.”

“Why do you want flowers so bad, Mister?” James says, at the same time Angie asks, “Why not? Mr. Poppon likes everyone.”

“Well, I need the flowers to give to my husband-”

“Doctor Watson,” Angie says quietly to James, who looked confused. James nods, saying back much louder, “The doctor who helped me?”

“Yes, John,” Mr. Holmes says, and his tone and the look in his eyes is suddenly very different. He looks just as fond as Doctor Watson did on the day he patched James up. He’s smiling more openly now, and it looks a lot happier than it did a couple seconds ago. Angie likes this face more than Mr. Holmes’s usual face, the scary one. “It is his birthday tomorrow, and I have heard that giving flowers to your loved ones is romantic, so I have been getting him flowers all this week, because I am not sure which ones he will like, so, in order to get more data, I have given him one of each flower each day, so I can get him a big bouquet of his favourite on his birthday.”

Angie understands a lot more of this sentence, and she thinks it’s very nice. Her parents give each other flowers, she thinks, so it must be romantic. It doesn’t answer her question, though, so she asks it again. “But why doesn’t Mr. Poppon like you?”

“Well,” and the pinched look is back on his face. “He doesn’t like that I am married to John. He thinks I should be married to a woman.”

“But why?” This time it’s Safaa who asks. She has suddenly appeared next to James. Angie isn’t sure how long she’s been there, but it was probably when Mr. Holmes was thinking of Doctor Watson - he didn’t look as scary then.

Angie doesn’t think that Mr. Holmes will answer the question. Usually, when her mum wears the pinched face, she doesn’t answer her subsequent why? Clearly, Mr. Holmes is not her mum, because he does answer. “Because he thinks that women should not marry women and men should not marry men.”

But why? It’s very obvious that Mr. Holmes and Doctor Watson like each other very much. Also, Doctor Watson makes Mr. Holmes look not as mean, which Angie appreciates. Why is Mr. Holmes wanting to give Doctor Watson flowers so bad? Flowers always make her mum and dad happy.

It looks like Mr. Holmes is done with talking to them, though, because he stands up and says, “I think today I will try lilies. Good-bye.”

“Good-bye, Mister!” “Bye!” “Good-bye!”

When she gets home that day, it’s to a bright bouquet of flowers, and she thinks of Mr. Holmes and Doctor Watson again. They should be able to get flowers, too. So she asks her mum if she can give Mr. Holmes the flowers tomorrow, and explains what Mr. Holmes told her. At first, her mum wears the predictable pinched face, but then it smooths out into a smile. “Of course,” she says. “I’ll bring you tomorrow.”

She goes to bed vibrating with excitement, and has to remind her mum no less than three times the next day, but they are finally at the park. Mr. Holmes is not there yet, but Angie knows he will be, so she claims the empty swings while she waits. Her mother tells her they’ll only wait for ten minutes, but Angie knows that Mr. Holmes will come soon, and he does, heading straight for the flower bed. Angie waits for the swing to slow before grabbing the flowers from her mother and running towards Mr. Holmes.

“Here!” she thrusts them into his face. She has to use two hands because the bouquet is too big for her hands. “My dad got these for my mum, and my mum said I could give them to you so you can give them to Doctor Watson!”

He looks stunned, staring at the flowers in confusion for a couple moments. Angie starts to feel that she has done something wrong, and is about to pull the flowers back and apologize, when Mr. Holmes reaches out to take the flowers from her hands. “Oh,” he says, and then again, “oh. Thank you. John’s expressions over the past week did indicate that he would prefer multiple flowers to only one. I have not yet tested colour scheme, but he does like it when I wear a purple shirt, so this will be excellent. Thank you very much.”

Angie beams, glad that she hasn’t messed up. Mr. Holmes looks very happy now, and is even smiling at her. He gives her a pat on the head before walking off. She turns to her mum with a wide smile, and her mum smiles back. She hopes Doctor Watson likes the flowers.

---

Sherlock’s understanding of what is romantic and what is not has greatly improved in the years he has been dating John. Candlelit dinners: romantic. Body parts: not romantic. The internet has very clear guidelines on how to romance someone. Romancing John, however, is a whole other affair, because John isn’t predictable. It’s part of the reason Sherlock loves him so much. Most of the world is very dull, unsurprising, easily deduced.

With John, though . . . John isn’t dull. He manages to surprise Sherlock, over and over again, still does, and while most things that manage to surprise him are usually annoying, John is anything but. John is amazing, John is wonderful, John is absolutely spectacular.

In any case, because John isn’t predictable, it’s hard to figure out what exactly John would consider romantic. Sherlock had once read that scattering rose petals on the bed would be both romantic and seductive, but John had grumbled at the sight and immediately had started to clean it up before Sherlock had revealed his intentions. On the other hand, John was very pleased when Sherlock had applied his knowledge of chemicals to food and had cooked them dinner, even without the candles.

Earlier, Sherlock had had the memories of John romancing all his (rather short-lived) girlfriends as data he could use to find out what John would like. He had used up every last bit of data from those encounters, however, and for fear of being repetitive and dull he had returned to the internet for more clues.

He had finally fallen back on flowers, something he had been hesitant to use ever since the rose petal debacle, since it wasn’t clear on whether or not John had disliked the petals, or if he just wasn’t a fan of flowers in general. He had been very receptive to the singular flower Sherlock had been offering him for the past week, however, so Sherlock wasn’t all too concerned about the bouquet he now held in his hands.

A bouquet he had been gifted by a young girl that had been scared of him only the day before. Children were curious like that, he supposed. They were more tolerable than adults, anyway, who were so very concerned about social niceties and the proper way to do things. Chidlren might have a much lower intellect, but they were much more bearable to be around. And this particular one had given him a gift, something he was much more used to after years of knowing John, but still always managed to surprise him (only a little bit, though, because he was Sherlock Holmes, and almost nothing surprised him). It was sentiment, most likely, but of what kind he couldn’t tell.

The sound of the door unlocking drew his attention, and he headed towards the door to where John was taking off his coat after finishing his hours at the only doctor’s office in the town. It had been a slow day today, which meant mostly filing paperwork, something that John had never been a fan of. He much rather preferred working with patients, but for what reason, Sherlock still didn’t know. Was spending time writing and putting papers away really worse than being sneezed on and bothered by both kids and adults?

Now was not the time to ask him (for the 87th time), so instead, Sherlock greeted John with a kiss. John smiled against his lips, pulling away after a couple seconds. “You’re very forward today.”

Sherlock doesn’t bother responding, as his next words should be more than enough explanation for his mood. He holds out the bouquet (a beautiful thing, with all types of flowers but mainly lillies, with all sorts of colours, but mainly purple) and smiles. “Happy birthday, John.”

“I really am getting old, huh?” John says, words conflicting his happy tone and smile as he takes the flowers from Sherlock. “They’re beautiful, thank you. Is this what the past days were about, then?”

“The past week exactly, yes.”

John hums his acknowledgment, already grasping for a vase to put the flowers in, before pausing and taking another look at the flowers. “Wait, these didn’t come from the garden. Are these-?”

“From Mr. Poppon’s, yes,” and then, anticipating John’s next question, “one of the young girls down the street gave them to me after speaking to me the day before. She was scared of me, along with her friends, before, and were making a conscious effort to avoid me. However, after speaking to me for exactly four minutes and 23 seconds, they changed their minds. Children are curious creatures.”

“Yes, they are. And I’m sure Mr. Poppon would be very pleased to know exactly where these flowers are right now,” John says, soft smile now a mischevious grin, a grin that Sherlock still loves, even after seeing it time and time again after a case gone right, or after they’ve successfully fooled someone for any reason, or even after getting Sherlock to do something by means he had not anticipated.

“Quite,” Sherlock drawls, giving John a smirk of his own, then heading to the kitchen to do what is usually John’s job. “Tea?”

“Yeah, thanks.” There is the telltale sound of John settling into his armchair by the fireplace. From here, they will probably settle down for a relatively quiet evening. Sherlock will play his violin - he has been composing lately - and John will likely read the book he has been reading for the past two days. He is almost finished, and after that he might persuade Sherlock to walk around down the small streets with him, partly just to walk, partly to keep an eye out for any trouble (John has been restless lately, it might be time to call up Lestrade to see if he has any good cases for them). When they come back, he will check out the bees once more before they head to bed, John asking Sherlock to please take the liver out of the fridge, it’s been a month all the way.

It sounds terribly mundane when he puts it on paper. But it will not be mundane, because he will be with John, and John is the opposite is mundane. There really are no words to describe John. He is still as much of a marvel as he was ten years ago.

---

It’s Halloween, and Angie is dressed up as a pirate. She matches with Safaa, who isn’t wearing the same costume, but is also a pirate - Angie thinks it’s cool, and tells Safaa that wouldn’t it be cool if they were co-captains of a pirate ship together? Safaa agrees, and they tell that to everyone that asks. Ada is dressed up like a robot, but only partly, for some reason. She says that she’s supposed to be a cybord from a book she and her mum read sometimes, but Angie still doesn’t get it. Ada is happy with it, though, so she doesn’t keep asking, as much as she would like to. Jafar, the only other who understands what a cyborg is, is a doctor, and James is supposed to be Harry Potter, and he has the glasses and the robes and the hair, even if his eyes aren’t green.

They’ve gone all the way down the road, baskets full of candy, and are at the last house - Doctor Watson and Mr. Holmes’s house. Angie remembers Doctor Watson approaching her and her friends one day and thanking her for the flowers, but that’s the last time she has spoken to him. She wonders if, because he is a doctor, he still gives out candy.

James rings the doorbell, and they wait for the footsteps and the door to open, like they have been hearing for the past hour or so. Nothing happens. James rings the doorbell again, and they wait another couple seconds, before Safaa turns back around, the least patient of the bunch. “There’s no one home,” she sighs.

Angie and Jafar follow suit - most people answer the door on the first ring anyway, if they don’t answer on the second, they’re probably not there. Ada does the same, and James waits only a couple seconds more before also joining them, saying, “But everyone’s home on Halloween!”

“All the adults,” Jafar corrects.

“Yeah!”

Angie frowns. James is right - almost all adults are home on Halloween. Even at her old city, all the doors she had rung, someone had answered. So she asks her mum when they get back to where they are standing a couple meters from the door. “Where are they?”

“I don’t know, An-” her mum says, only to be cut off by James’s dad.

“They leave for weeks at a time, sometimes,” he says. “Back to London, to fight crime. Sherlock’s a detective, and John wrote a blog about them. It’s good stuff.”

A detective? Angie supposes she can see that - he’s dark and mysterious, like all the detectives on the TV shows her parents like are.

“A detective?” Safaa repeats. “Cool!”

“Yeah, detectives are so cool! I didn’t know Mister Holmes was a detective!” James says, much louder than Safaa. James is usually much louder than everyone else.

Jafar mumbles something like ”Doctors are cool too,” but James talks over him. “D’you think he’ll tell us detective stories, if we ask?”

“You’ll just have to ask him when they come back,” James’s dad says to him.

“When do they come back?” Ada says.

“Whenever they solve the case. It depends, we don’t really know,” her mum asks her.

She looks disappointed, as do James and Safaa, and Angie herself. Pirates are cooler than detectives in her opinion, but detectives are cool too, and she’d like to hear some detective stories. Maybe when they come back, she consoles herself, but until then, there’s more candy to be had.

---

It is midnight when they return. They call a final goodbye to Lestrade, who drives them back and forth, and head inside the house. Coming down from the adrenaline high, they’re both happy and giggly, and very, very contented. There is something about solving a case full of ups and downs, a case that takes days to solve, only to come back to their small, cozy town and to their soft, domestic life that both of them love, back to their bees and their dog and the kids on the street and sleepy mornings and quiet evenings and bright laughter and so much love-

They wouldn’t exchange it for the world.

---

grow old with me darling, the best is yet to come