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The Awake World

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It all begins in St Bart's Hospital. That much is true. The rest is not. Or let's say, the rest is at least inspired by the truth.

When it starts, everything is moving. He is moving and he is being moved and people around him are moving and his head is about to explode. A pained sound escapes his throat. He tries to turn it into words but he fails. Where is he anyway? Opening his eyes or any sort of communication seems impossible. He feels dizzy. Is it because he is being moved so fast? Is he even being moved at all?

'…at St Paul's,' someone says and that makes sense. He was at St Paul's before, too, there was the case of the tattoo murderer. He was waiting for the criminal to turn up, just distracted himself a little and maybe collapsed?

The movements stop. The noise does not. Why does everybody keep talking and moving and thinking when he needs to focus on his case?

He finally manages to open his eyes. Everything is white at first, then blurred and draped in rainbows. He blinks (which hurts). There is a man leaning over him with a worried expression. He is wearing a white coat with fresh coffee stains and clutching the knob of a walking stick with one hand. Though he doesn't look so old, younger than thirty even. His hair is short and blond, a military cut, and he is clean shaven.

Their eyes lock and he figures that this man might help him solve a murder case. Also those eyes have a very nice shade of blue, so he tells him who is the killer and how he's found out.

Sadly, the man with the white coat reacts taken aback, but then again, one can't really blame him. Ordinary people make a habit of being surprised at everything. It has to be awfully boring to be normal, he thinks, muttering something and closing his eyes. Moving his eyeballs has hurt. Every part of his body hurts.

As time passes, it finally becomes blissfully silent around him, the noise fading into distance and the further until everything is quiet like in a morgue. Ah, peace. The scene has changed, but he doesn't exactly realise. Everything just changes. And he forgets about the tattoo murder, about the cocaine and the other thing. Finally, he can focus on his microscope. At least for a little bit. Then people enter his lab, how dreadful. Well, at least he can borrow someone's phone now.

'Er, here. Use mine,' the blond man with the walking stick and the green-brownish parka says, taking a mobile phone out of a pocket.

None of the three people in his lab moves until he gets up to take it. 'Thank you.'

'It's an old friend of mine,' Stamford introduces the stranger he's brought here. 'John Watson.'

He doesn't look up from the phone and start s typing. 'Afghanistan or Ira q ?'

 


 

It is a sunny day–or as sunny as it gets in England. Particularly less sunny than in Afghanistan. Though the tan line on John Watson's wrists has long since disappeared. The walking cane is still in use. That's why busy days are good: many people running around and talking so that the steady sound of the stick, even louder and slightly echoed in the hallways of the hospital, isn't so noticeable and embarrassing.

Today is not a busy day. Just routine. Just a few emergencies, quickly handled. In the late afternoon, John just got back from his coffee break to hear sirens from outside. Someone at the other end of the corridor calls his name, tone speaking of urgency so he gulps down the rest of his coffee. The nurse calls him again, voice alarmed and John hurriedly presses the empty paper cup into Mike's hand.

'You spilled some,' Mike informs him, but John figures he has no time to look as he rushes down the hallway.

'See you,' he calls back and turns around a corner. Mike Stamford isn't really working as a doctor, like John, but teaching. He's been a friend of John's since he came back from Afghanistan a couple of years ago.

He reaches a paramedic from the ambulance and a nurse that push a stretcher along the corridor. 'Junkie with overdose,' she tells John and picks up a clipboard with an empty form from a desk they pass. 'Fill out later.'

'Sure,' John says and tries to keep up with their fast pace. Damn his leg! 'Do we know who he is? Any relatives called?'

'No wallet or phone. He's been unresponsive since we fetched him at St Paul's. Civilian called,' the paramedic says and looks at John. 'Can you take over?'

John nods and tucks the clipboard under the leg of the trembling man on the stretcher so it won't get lost. The nurse does most of the work, John rather steering with one hand (the other one on the bloody walking cane).

The man is shaking, black curls sticking to his sweaty forehead. His breathing is rapid, far from normal. Just as John has assumed before checking, his heart is hammering very fast in his chest. Along his arm are several traces of injections, some fresh, others a day old and some mere scars. His face is pale, expression pained. It could be a pretty face, John thinks, the cheekbones and the philtrum could look quite attractive. To someone who liked men, that is. John isn't gay, and anyway it certainly does not matter now!

They've just reached a room, the stretcher stilling finally as the man opens his eyes, staring directly at John. 'Of course Wilson is the killer, you must have seen the ink in the victim's lymph knots!' He speaks confusingly quickly, voice dark and clear, just a bit rough. Probably from previous vomiting.

John startles a bit. 'Well, I didn't see that one coming,' he mutters.

'Naturally,' says the man with a roll of his eyes and falls back into a state of unconsciousness, though his eyes move behind his eyelids as if he's slipped back into a dream.

'Hey, wait, tell me your name. Can you hear me? Hello? We need to know who you are!' John tries to wake him up again while someone at the door calls his name.

The strange man doesn't react. Not within the next minutes, nor the following hours. They take care of him, do what they can. After medical treatment, he is washed, changed and put a hospital bed. He looks calm now, John thinks as he stands next to the bed. Finally, his breathing and heartbeat have become slow and steady. He looks as if he is merely sleeping, perhaps dreaming something good. John likes to imagine that after the pain and confusion before, this man is at least having a nice dream. It could be very nice.

'Very nice indeed,' John adds, leaning on his stick and looking into the kitchen.

They're in 221B Bakerstreet, they're looking at this flat, they might become flatmates.

'Yes,' Sherlock says, taking a deep breath. He wants this one to like him. Friendship would be good. He likes to imagine that after sharing a flat, one might become at least friends. 'Yes, I think so. My thoughts precisely. So I went straight ahead and moved in.'

'What do you think then, Dr Watson?' A rather old nurse had entered the room and John looked up.

'There's another bedroom upstairs, if you'll be needing two bedrooms,' Mrs Hudson continues.






In the late evening, they find out who he is: a tall white pinstripe-suited man with a black umbrella turns up and pretends to be very important, powerful and fearsome. Though John has caught him referring to someone on the phone as Mummy.

After several fruitless orders he shows two ID-Cards, one being his own and the other unmistakeably the stranger's one, judging by the face. John wonders where he's gotten it but then again the younger man didn't have a wallet with him so he might have left it at home (if he hadn't lost it). However, with the new information that the two men are brothers, it is decided to reunite them.

Now, he is standing in front of his younger brother, who is more or less peacefully lying in his hospital bed. Around the recently identified William Sherlock Scott Holmes are now several machines, one a monitor showing his heart beat, breathing etc. His brother keeps referring to him as Sherlock, though, instead of William.

'He hasn't woken up since he got here,' John breaks the heavy silence. It had been his task to fill this Mycroft Holmes in with what they knew and he's gone through several lists and forms with him. 'It might tip into a coma.'

When he gets no reply he continues talking, telling him in more detail what drugs they've been able to find in Sherlock's blood, what they know about the drugs he'd been taking before.

'Wasn't there any list?' Mycroft interrupts him suddenly, though without turning. He just keeps staring at Sherlock. 'There should have been a list.'

John frowns. 'Er… no… not that I know. A list of what?'

Mycroft grips the bar at the end of the bed hard, his knuckles almost white. 'Of everything. Everything he's taken. There's always been a list.'

'Perhaps he's lost it.'

Mycroft sighs.

Sherlock relaxes, sinking back against his seat. While the cab is driving them through London he checks stuff on his phone. John glances over more than once.

'OK, you got questions,' he says eventually and pretends to be annoyed.

'Where are we going?' John asks and looks outside the window.

'Crime scene,' Sherlock shoots back. 'Next?'

John remembers something else. 'When he got here, he woke up briefly and said something about a killer and… what was it? Ah, ink in the victim's lymph knots. Could that be of any importance?'

And there, John could have sworn the corners of Mycroft's mouth curl into a smile, barely noticeable, but it's the first time that John sees something like affection in his face. 'Oh right, the tattoo murder. We should tell the police, shouldn't we?'

'How come he … solved a murder case? Is it a real case after all? Is he from Scotland Yard?'

Now he does glance at John, the small smile gone. 'He's certainly not. Make a guess. What do you think he does?'

'I'd say … private detective?'

'But the police don't go to private detectives.' He pauses. 'They go to Sherlock.'

John stuffs his hands into the pockets of his white coat, waiting for the other man to reveal the answer.

Mycroft Holmes straightens, picking up his umbrella and letting it swing slightly. 'Consulting Detective, that's what he calls himself. The only one in the world. He invented the job.' One last time he looks to his unconscious brother. 'Take good care of him, Doctor Watson. Please.' Then he leaves.

'What does that mean?' John asks.

'It means when the police are out of their depth which is always, they consult me,' Sherlock says now, trying not to look smug. This must put him in a good light to John, right?

But John only laughs briefly. 'The police don't consult amateurs,' he points out.

Sherlock gives him a look. And then he starts his first deduction in front of John. Might (hopefully) impress him.






It is day three and now they have officially identified this as a coma. John stops by with his cup of coffee and a newspaper. Unsurprisingly, it is comfortably quiet in Sherlock's room.

'Just met your brother again,' he tells the unconscious man. 'He is proud to claim to be your arch-enemy. Do people have arch-enemies?'

Sherlock looks up. 'Did he offer you money to spy on me?'

'Yes.'

'Did you take it?'

'No.'

'Pity we could have split the fee. Think it through next time.'

'Oh and did you know about those serial suicides? Was in the papers last week.' Obviously, Sherlock's eyes are closed (and he doesn't listen anyway), but John still holds up the newspaper. 'They've solved it, finally.' He smiles a little. 'Bit slow without you, hm?'

Sherlock doesn't react.

After leaning the walking stick against the small table and sitting down, John opens the paper to start reading the case to Sherlock.






On the fifteenth day since Sherlock's arrival, John brings a book f or the first time. He sits down in his chair by the window, the sky outside being pitch black. Of course, he could just go home, to the small flat, he hate s a little bit. Or to a pu b , but tonight he ha s a date. John Watson gathered all his charms to ask a colleague of his, Sarah from oncology, out on a date. It is the 'how about we … just go out after work tonight?' kind of date and as it turned out she finishe s later than John. He lied blatantly, telling her that sure, they finish at the same time, so here he is, waiting . With a book. A crime novel, Sherlock might like that, he th ought .

So, he sits there, leans the walking stick against the window sill and opens the book but then looks up. 'For the records, I wanted to bring my own coffee today,' he says. The paper cup with the bad coffee from the vending machine receives a glare. 'The only thing I didn't have is the coffee powder and a Thermos.' He sighs. 'Didn't get the shopping.'

'What, why not?' he asks, glancing over his book with an expression of irritation. John is standing there, a tad restless. He hasn't used his walking stick since the serial suicides. Their first case together.

John remembers that Sherlock can't hear him because of the coma. Well, most likely can't hear him. 'Because I had a row in the shop with the chip and PIN machine,' he admits.

'You had a row with a machine?' he repeats. Sherlock wonders how that could actually happen. John isn't that dull now, is he?

'Sort of. It sat there and I shouted abuse. Have you got cash?'

'Take my card.'

At least someone in a com a doesn't look at you, expression showing irritation or how ridiculous they find you. So John sip s some of the bad coffee, before he beg ins reading. It start s off a bit boring : a young woman working in a museum, with teapots. Teapots. Of all things. Sherlock however doesn't complain. Well, he never does.

It takes the detective in the book awfully long to get a single hint and John rants how even he has understood more. His gaze falls on Sherlock's calm expression as he talks and he loses track of the initial topic. Instead he asks him questions about his consulting detective work. It really is ridiculous so he stops after a while and instead just imagines going on a case with Sherlock. Chasing criminals through London.

In the end, John is almost too late for the date.

Sherlock needs just a few days to solve the whole case, even if not without deaths.






A whole month passes. Two.

Three months.

It is still comfortably quiet in Sherlock's room. He's still in the coma. John has to go there regularly, to make this clear. It's his patient and he has to check twice a day. But he's still in the coma. Status quo, no change at all.

Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, hasn't opened his eyes since he told John about the tattoo murder. John supposes he won't forget that moment, ever. He still remembers the deep voice and sometimes imagines Sherlock replying to what John tells him: little things from his everyday life, stuff he's read in the papers–like the mysterious death of that Connie Prince. Every once in a while, a certain DI from Scotland Yard dropped by. He talked to John and even told him a bit more about some cases of his. After he left, John proudly presented Sherlock his theory: 'The scratching on the Connie Prince's arms,' he said. 'And we saw the pictures of her brother with that cat in the telly, remember Sherlock?'

Sherlock didn't react.

Sherlock smiles, walking down the road with a very happy John. 'You think it is the cat,' he says and glances at him. 'It isn’t the cat.'

John has told him about other cases, too, reading out the papers to him. He's also installed a coffee machine in Sherlock's room. For visitors, of course. Mycroft Holmes or Detective Inspector Lestrade, who appears rather in need for Sherlock to wake up. Once he even brought a full case file. 'We never know when the day comes and Sherlock wakes up,' he muttered and placed the folder on a shelf. 'What if it's today, John? I'll just leave this here, keep it secret, yeah?'

'I'll rather take it with me then, I guess. All the other nurses and visitors, you know. I have to come here every day anyway.'

Greg looked at him for a long moment. 'At least read it out loud and here, if you have to anyway.'

John gave a weak smile. 'I'll even describe the pictures to him, I promise.'

But eventually, Greg had to solve it by himself, for Sherlock is still in his coma after the third month.

On a Tuesday evening, one of many, John is in Sherlock's room to write a few emails. The Wi-Fi connection is rather good here, that's the only reason, obviously. It's dark outside, Sherlock isn't moving, and John is sitting in a comfortable chair at the table, typing. The telly is on, because sometimes, it has to be. Even though he initially spent some free time here because of the silence, now and then, John can't bear it.

As much as Sherlock enjoys John's presence, his typing is tedious. He only ever uses his digits to press a key, then it takes a few centuries of searching for the next. Truly tedious. Luckily, there is a TV in the living room of 221B Bakerstreet. So they are sitting there together in the evening: John typing (probably a new blog entry) and being terribly slow, Sherlock on his chair, in his coat, shoes and scarf, knees drawn up to his chest as he watches TV.

'Of course he’s not the kid’s dad! Look at the turn-ups on his jeans!' Sherlock shouts at the man in the telly.

John makes sarcastic comments, but continues typing in slow motion. Every once in a while, Sherlock hears a key being pressed. Instead of finally going out like he's calculated for this very minute, John seems to want to talk more. 'You given Mycroft the memory stick yet, Sherlock? I'm still waiting for you to admit that a little knowledge about the solar system and you’d have cleared up the fake painting a lot quicker, Sherlock.' Sherlock keeps replying and eventually John does get up. But he's still talking. 'I'm going to Sarah's, Sherlock. There's risotto in the fridge, Sherlock. We need milk, Sherlock.'

'I'll get some.'

'Really?'

'Really.'

John needs a moment to stare at the door frame, nod and smile in disbelief. 'And some beans then?'

Gaze firmly fixed on the telly, Sherlock makes a noise of agreement and John leaves. As soon as he hears the door snap shut he grabs his laptop. After informing the bomber about the Bruce-Partington-Plans on the memory stick, he gets on the way.

John blinks. There is a quick beep sound, repeated. His laptop doesn't normally make this kind of sound, but he does know it, he is sure. He blinks again, suppressing a yawn and straightening on his chair. Slowly, the tiredness sets him free and he spends a few seconds hating himself for having fallen asleep in the hospital. Well, nobody has noticed hopefully. Most certainly not Sherlock.

The alarmingly fast beeping is still there.

Oh god.

For the records, monitors with flat lines work better than coffee.

But there aren't any flat lines. This isn't an American cliché film after all, this is Sherlock Holmes in a real coma with one computer by his side that showed one steady heartbeat line and several numbers and symbols. It's those. They are, just like the beeping sound, rather alarming and would have about the same effect as a double espresso on John.

Yet, right now, he finds himself feeling as if he's drunken five energy drinks. Not my Sherlock, he thinks as he jumped up and rushes over to the bed (walking stick? What walking stick? What limp?). He checks the monitor again, then the tubes and everything. He's John Watson, he knows what to do.

A nurse arrives soon enough, the computer having called someone. Together, they work quickly, figuring out what exactly is wrong, what needs to be done and how. They have to be fast, but Sherlock will be in the stable position again. He will, John tells himself. And some day, he'll wake up. They just have to be quick and professional now.

'Doctor Watson.' Another nurse has brought new tubes and bags with liquid.

John looks up briefly to take a new catheter. 'Evening,' he says, glancing to the monitor again. 'This is a turn-up, isn't it?'

Sherlock is still staring. His hand that holds up the memory stick freezes in the air. It's John. Why is John here? Why John? But John isn't that Moriarty guy! (Sherlock abandoned that theory in the minute he thought of it.)

'John,' he breathes. 'What the hell-'

'Bet you never saw this coming,' John interrupts him, his voice toneless. A quick deduction explains: Stress. Fear. …an earpiece–he is fed in what to say. Now, Sherlock also registers that John is blinking in the same rhythm as a moment ago. Three times short, three times long, three times short. S O S in Morse code. With a deep breath to calm himself, John pulls his hands out of the pockets of his parka. He reveals explosives. Obviously scared, nevertheless outwardly calm, John glances at the red dot of light dancing on his chest. 'What would you like me to make him say next?'

As relieved as he is to see John isn't the Moriarty person, Sherlock finds he does not like his John being in so much danger.

'Gottle of geer,' someone in the telly chants. 'Gottle of geer. Gottle-' One of the nurses turns the telly off. At least, she doesn't have time right now to ask why the hell John was watching TV in a coma patient's room.

They keep going. Three people, rushing around a hospital bed. Their moves are fast, efficient.

Well. While Sherlock's blood levels seem to be on the way to getting better, his heart beat loses the steadiness it once possessed.

'What is this?' John mutters quietly.

'Who are you?' Sherlock says loudly. He looks around.

At the other end of the big room, he hears a door being opened.

'I gave you my number, thought you might call. Is that a British Army Browning L9A1in your pocket–or are you just pleased to see me?'

'Both.'

'Jim Moriarty. Hi.'

Sherlock's heart stops.

 


 

It's become cold. The streets are now filled with brown snow slush, the sky is grey and an icy rain starts and stops and starts again. People are rushing down the road. The tube is overly crowded. Everyone's cursing the weather, Christmas atmosphere won't really settle. Merely shop windows and the people in the ads are excessively joyful. In the restaurants and cafés, someone has at least tried to pretend the world really does consist of red and gold glitter. Some even have decorated trees. In Sherlock's room though, nothing even hints at the upcoming holiday season.

But in the second coffee break on this Thursday afternoon, John is not in Sherlock's room. Instead, he's suffering the third time of Last Christmas within just half an hour. On the counter, above rows of sandwiches, a small electronic figure of Santa Claus is dancing. Apart from all that, it's nearly bearable in the café/snack bar, right across the street from St Bartholomew's Hospital.

'You're rather concerned, Dr Watson,' Mycroft Holmes interrupts the steady flow of facts that comes out of John's mouth.

John swallows and then continues. 'Like I said, we had him back at normal,' he tells. 'But just a minute after that it went really bad. Suddenly, everything changed and he was so close to, well, dying.'

Moriarty had left them, but just a minute after that he'd returned. Suddenly, everything changed and they were so close to, well, dying.

'It's as if there was … emotional attachment,' Mycroft says slowly, looking intrigued.

John ignores his words again. 'We got him eventually, thank god. Now, it's like it was before.'

'Sherlock doesn't even know you, Dr Watson.'

'Well, obviously not.'

'Don't be disappointed, if he just storms off when he wakes up.'

'Only about 25% of the people who wake up from a coma ever regain the ability to walk. Besides, after lying down for so long, he wouldn't even manage to stand up. He might never talk again, coma often leads to brain damage, and well, we can't know if Sherlock wakes up at all. Also–'

'Though, I sincerely hope you're still “crushing” on him when he comes back.'

John stares for a moment. 'For the records, I don't know him either. And I'm not gay! He's a patient, I care about all my patients,. That's why I'm a doctor.'

Mycroft lets out a small chuckle. 'No need to get so defensive, Dr Watson.'

'What is it he's taken by the way?' he changes the topic. 'What exactly was that drug?'

Mycroft becomes serious again. 'It's a new mixture called “Moriarty”. The dealer who sold it to Sherlock is a certain Bruce Partington, but the origin isn't clear. I'll have them found and imprisoned, don't you worry.'

John doesn't question the last statement. It's typical for Mycroft. However, in his mind, he sometimes likes referring to him as the Queen. So extra, that, surely, Dr Watson, you won't mind telling me everything in detail in your break in some café while I don't even listen but come up with stupid theories. And look, how powerful I am by the way.

'I've heard there are elections in South Korea today, you must love your brother a lot that you decided to come here,' John says.

'My best wishes to Sherlock.' He gets up. 'Ridiculous, but don't you talk to him anyway?'

'I'm thinking about giving him an MP3-Player for Christmas. Or rather a radio?' John jokes as he grabs his walking stick.

Mycroft rolls his eyes but plays along. 'MP3-Player, he likes classics. Violin.'

The violin it is.

There isn't an MP3-Player, though. The music that fills the room comes from John's phone. It's a spontaneous act, really: on Christmas Eve, two weeks after the encounter with Mycroft, John's at work, but free to go in the late afternoon. He'd already got rid off the white doctor clothes and Jeanette had just arrived to fetch him. They were on their way down the corridor when John saw a familiar face walking up to him. There was a brief round of 'Hello's and 'Merry Christmas's, John introducing Detective Inspector Lestrade to Jeanette, and his lovely girlfriend Jeanette to Lestrade. Who was on the way to Sherlock, as it turned out.

'Just stopping by, ya know? Bloody bastard's got no-one for Christmas,' he explained and off they went, just to briefly stop by his room.

One of the elder nurses came in, as well, and just at the same time, a young woman arrived, too. She's been here before, a pathologist called Molly Hooper. Sherlock used to examine the corpses or experiment with them, she said. Beat one up with a riding crop once. And to leave the topic of dead people with bruises and get back to a joyful Christmas mood, John then selected a playlist on YouTube. The nurse fetches some of the cookies she's made the other day and hands them around, John catches Lestrade placing a case file with a little red ribbon somewhere and Molly has brought a bar of chocolate that she hides in the pocket of the Belstaff coat that's been hanging in the corner since day one. The only thing John has is a bottle of champagne that's meant for later but Molly agrees to fetch paper cups from a water dispenser. Jeanette isn't exactly pleased until John mutters a promise to buy another bottle on the way to her place. They fill a cup for Sherlock, too. Because what if today's the day? What if? That's why there's also a biscuit lying next to the drink.

'No thank you, Sarah,' Sherlock politely refuses the cookies he's offered.

She turns away, looking rather bemused, but Sherlock doesn't care. He only glances over again when John rushes close and puts his arm around her back, muttering something about Sherlock not being good with names. Well, John's certainly not good with girlfriends if there are so many that Sherlock can't keep up.

'No-no-no, I can get this,' he says quickly and tries not to look at her as grimly as she looks at him. Why did John have to bring his girlfriend? Why couldn't she just spend Christmas with her family? Sherlock wouldn't ever openly admit this, but he really dislikes her for the mere fact that she's John's girlfriend. 'No, Sarah was the doctor,' he thus continues, '… and then there was the one with the spots; and then the one with the nose; and then… who was after the boring teacher?'

'Nobody.'

'Jeanette!' Grinning genuinely is out of question. John still has his arm around her. 'Ah, process of elimination.'

He preferred Sarah. When John was with Sarah, she only ever let him sleep on the sofa, it was obvious it would end. It's not about jealousy, naturally. Sherlock wouldn't be so stupid to fall for his straight (and unfortunately rather attractive) flatmate, he's just annoyed when they have to investigate something and John wants to go on a date with a woman instead. That's all.

They are five people standing around a hospital bed, talking about the man lying there and trying to ignore that their impromptu Christmas party seems a bit like a funeral. It's not because he could wake up anytime. He's breathing and alive, after all. But the conversations die out nevertheless eventually. Molly has to leave, the nurse does. Lestrade tells John how he got it sorted with his wife now, since she's cheated on him a while ago. John drinks away Sherlock's champagne and Jeanette eats the biscuit, he stops the music and puts the phone into his pocket. It's turning dark outside when they leave the hospital and head for the nearest tube station. It's snowing, so they rush.

Just when they reach the platform, John phone chimes. Jeanette rolls her eyes but grins a little. Her mood is getting better since they headed off for an evening with nobody else but them.

With a muttered apology he takes the mobile out of the coat pocket and accepts the call, turning a bit away.

'Hello, Doctor Watson. I see there were little anomalies with my little brother's blood pressure and heartbeat. I am aware that this is not ensuring too great danger or definitely promising that he wakes up soon, but I'd like you to stay near. Just to be on the safe side.' Mycroft Holmes pauses. 'I do have access to the computer that's constantly controlling him, don't question it.'

John glances to his girlfriend. 'There are other competent doctors there, you know that. This is my free time, it's bloody Christmas Eve. I have plans.'

'No.'

'Why me?'

'You care.'

John sighed. 'But–'

'Please, John. It's Christmas. Don't let him alone. Call me if there are any changes.' He hangs up.

John chews on his lip, packing the phone away, and then turns to Jeanette. 'I'm really sorry,' he says.

She stares at him. Around them, people rush for an arriving train. 'You know, my friends are wrong about you.'

'Hmm?'

'You're a great boyfriend. And Sherlock Holmes is a very lucky man.'

John winces. 'Jeanette, please…'

She steps away from him. 'No, I mean it. It’s heart-warming. You’ll do anything for him – and he doesn't even know you!'

He opens his mouth to say something, but she shakes her head. 'You don't even know him,' she says. 'Yet you keep mentioning him. Don't make me compete with a stranger, John. You know what? Don't call me again. Merry Christmas.' She storms off and John's left alone in midst the crowd.

He goes back to the hospital, picks up a book he's forgotten there the other day and reads it. Silently.

Sherlock doesn't die and doesn't wake up.

 


 

The novel of the mysterious ghost hound is the first that John reads aloud again. It's a good one, he feels like sharing it with Sherlock, having thought of him when he bought it. They watch telly together sometimes, Lestrade doesn't stop by very often anymore, but shoots John a text now and then. Peace returns. Or as peaceful as it could get with Sherlock still being in a god-damn coma.

For quite a while, nothing really changes, but John has long since figured that this Moriarty stuff has messed with Sherlock's brain and body. And well, coma patients don't all wake up normally anyway. Some stay in the coma for decades and then die. Some wake up after years. And almost half a year has passed when it gets really bad for Sherlock, worse than the last time.

'The junkie's about to die, let's face it,' Sally Donovan, one of the nurses, says one day. 'Anderson thinks the same.'

John calls Mycroft but they still haven't found the guy who created the Moriarty drug. The fucking mixture isn't even off the market.

'Someone under the influence of the drug broke into the Tower of London in an attempt to steal the crown jewels,' John tells Sherlock on a rainy day in February. 'The guy danced, and then actually managed to break the glass with a diamond and a fire extinguisher, Mycroft said. When police arrived he just said there and told them 'not to rush'. They call it the Royal Drug now. It's special, I don't know how exactly, but it opens you up in new ways or whatever. As if your brain is a world full of locked doors…'

'…the man with the key is king. And honey, you should see me in a crown,' Jim Moriarty says.

'The man with that story is in drug rehab now,' John continues. 'But the action was like advertisement. The mixture itself is still being sold, big client list…'

'…They all want me.' He lifts the knife with a piece of the apple and eats it. 'Suddenly, I'm Mr Sex.'

John's Mr Sex, a voice in Sherlock's head hisses but he ignores it. There's Jim Moriarty sitting opposite to him. In 221b Bakerstreet, in his chair. Sherlock expected him of course, he made tea right when he heard Moriarty is free. 'If you could break any bank, what do you care about the highest bidder?'

'I don’t,' Moriarty replies. 'I just like to watch them all competing. “Daddy loves me the best!” Aren’t ordinary people adorable? Well, you know: you’ve got John. I should get myself a live-in one.'

John isn't entirely ordinary, but how would Moriarty know? John is special, John likes Sherlock's deductions, John enjoys solving cases with him and doesn't hate him for the head in the fridge, he's not ordinary. Sherlock swallows to turn off the hymns in his head. Not now, not now, no pining now. 'Why are you doing all of this?' he asks, voice quiet.

'It’d be so funny.'

'You don’t want money or power – not really. What is it all for?'

Sally comes in suddenly and John tries to appear busy; checking this and that, taking the new bag with certain liquid she brought and replacing the old one.

She looks at the monitor. 'Looks rather problematic,' she comments, not at all caring. It really is 'problematic' though, Sherlock's not exactly doing well. 'The finale's coming then?'

John ignores her.

'It's gonna come very soon, isn't it? His end.' She pats John's back and he knows she's mocking him. 'But don't be scared, John. He'll by lying down just like now, except there's less of a need for medical help.'

'But don’t be scared. Falling’s just like flying, except there’s a more permanent destination.'

'Never liked you,' John mutters under his breath as she leaves.

'Never liked riddles.'

'Learn to. Because I owe you a fall, Sherlock. I… owe… you.'

 


 

On the next morning it's Philip Anderson, an ambitious but idiotic soon-to-be doctor, who's annoying John.

'We have to entertain the possibility, Dr Watson.'

'We all know it's looking grim but what if he's on the verge of waking up?'

'I really don't think so.'

John walks faster down the corridor.

'The TV was on when I got to his room this morning. Do you watch TV with that coma patient? Do you still know he's unconscious? Even if he'd wake up, this man won't know-'

Finally John's reached Sherlock's room, stepped in and shut the door into Anderson's face. Ah, silence. He has indeed watched TV with Sherlock yesterday. When his shift was over, he stopped by again and told Sherlock about those abducted kids. It had been in the news. And oh, they were on right then, so within a few seconds the TV was switched on. The volume was turned down however. Just in case there might come an alarm sound from the monitor. They watched the telly together because there was indeed a report about the kidnapped children. After the news, a film started, some modern thriller mash-up of Grimm's fairy tales and the legendary Round Table of King Arthur. John left it on for Sherlock when he went home.

'This man is dying,' someone behind John says and he turns to find another doctor there, standing next to Sally Donovan.

All assembled in the living room in Bakerstreet, then. Here to take him to the police station, here to jail Sherlock Holmes who seemed to have fooled them all with his deductions while he was behind all the crimes. Oh, Moriarty's smart.

So let's play.

Let's take John as a hostage to run away with him, jump in front of a bus and test the theory about the assassins, talk to the assassin, check the newspaper article again, go to that Kitty Riley's house, wait, confront her – meet Moriarty?!

But Jim Moriart is, claiming to be an actor called Richard Brook. Claiming to have worked for Sherlock, acting afraid of Sherlock, together with Kitty Riley trying to convince John that Sherlock's a liar, then running away.

Moriarty is smart.

What makes him dangerous is that he doesn't take anything serious. He's bored, so he plays with Sherlock. When he's held over the edge of a rooftop, Sherlock merely gripping the lapels of his coat, he doesn't seem concerned, but makes jokes: Sherlock calls him insane and Moriarty just replies, 'You're just getting that now?!'

More significantly: he shoots himself to force Sherlock to commit suicide.

And now, Sherlock's standing on the edge of the rooftop, ready to jump. It should all be fine, he's got everything prepared. He's sent the text to Mycroft and got the reply. The plan they called Lazarus is going. Everyone is on their place, he's going to pull the stunt and disappear for a while to destroy Moriarty's network. It's all fine, it's all planned, everybody and everything is where they should be.

So is John. Sherlock has told him where to stand after watching him leave the cab. John's still turning, saying Sherlock's name, unaware of everything. ' Okay, look up. I’m on the rooftop. '

John looks. 'Oh God.'

'I… I… I can’t come down, so we’ll… we’ll just have to do it like this.'

'What’s going on?' He sounds so anxious. Sherlock can't see John's face because he's too far away but he sounds horrified. It's really not fine. His John, his poor John. Sherlock hates himself for doing this, he hates Moriarty for making him do this.

'An apology. It’s all true,' he manages to say with a calm voice. John's going to think Sherlock's dead in a few minutes and now, he has to tell him all these lies instead of confessing what he really feels. At least he gets to speak to him again at all. What would he do if John wasn't there?

'Wh-what?'

'Everything they said about me. I invented Moriarty.'

'Why are you saying this?'

Sherlock's voice breaks.'I’m a fake.'

In fact, John is not there.

He's only walking up the corridor the late afternoon, in casual clothes and on the way home when he sees people go in and come out of Sherlock's room in a hurry. Anxiously he speeds up, nearly bumping into Sally Donovan. 'What’s going on?'

'The junkie's stopped breathing.'

'Goodbye, John.'

He stares at her and she stares back.

'What? …oi, Dr Watson, you don't need to – there are competent people in there taking care of the junkie. It's covered, you can go home.'

John's ignored her and now pulls the door open. There are people in there indeed, another doctor, Anderson and two nurses. Oxygen is now artificially pumped into Sherlock's lungs, he's getting an injection and someone else is doing something else. A beep alarm is just being turned off as John enters but a look at the monitor is terrifying enough.

'Sherlock,' John breathes.

His heart isn't beating anymore.

'I’m his doctor, let me come through,' he mumbles frantically and reaches the bed. 'Let me come through, please. No, he’s my patient. He’s mine. Please.'

One of the nurses tries to pull him away, muttering something about this being someone else's shift and John seeming not really ready to do anything. He manages to grab Sherlock's wrist and take his pulse, but there really is no heartbeat. Anderson pushes him out of the room.

While lying there on the pavement, Sherlock has heard John's voice break.

 


 

It's easier to stick with the facts: Sherlock Holmes didn't die right away. They found out several of his organs were irrecoverably damaged. His brother managed to get him transferred to another hospital, not in London. John hasn't heard of Mycroft ever since, nor of Lestrade.

It's more difficult to stop thinking of all that. Even if all John's lost is a little habit, more of a ridiculous tradition really, it's difficult to be a doctor and to know that by now Sherlock must have died. John could get Mycroft's phone number probably, and just ask, but John knows what answer he is going to hear because he is a doctor, he has seen the reports and he knows. Though Anderson suddenly started to come up with ridiculous theories, like that Sherlock actually woke up and got some new organs. Or that the whole thing was faked.

John doesn't listen to him and lets the weeks and months pass. Maybe (probably) it's good that he spends less of his free time in the hospital. John has met someone.

'Oh, what's his name?' a certain nurse asks him when he tells her. She's the only one here he genuinely likes.

'It's a woman.'

'A woman?!'

'Yes, of course it's a woman.'

She chuckles. 'We've all seen how you looked at that Sherlock Holmes back then. You'd have asked him out, had he ever woken up.'

'I… listen, I'm not gay!' And he's been dead for a couple of months, at least three.

She smiles.

'Anyway, I'm going to bring up the topic of moving in with each other tonight.'

She lets him get away with that change of topic and they continue talking about everyday life stuff until they've both finished their coffee. John wouldn't admit it but as much as he likes her, he still misses spending some of his coffee breaks with Sherlock.

Now, he checks his watch a lot more often than necessary, and finally, finally, it's six thirty and he can call it a day. John hurries to take off his white coat and change into jeans and a casual shirt, but then he has to wait. Mary has agreed to picking him up right in the hospital at a certain place so he's standing there and trying to look busy with his smartphone. People walk past him, a hospital bed is shoved into an empty room right by his side and the door remains open because of a nurse running in and out. John didn't pay attention but in the from the corner of his eye he saw a mop of unruly dark curls that reminded him of someone. He forces himself not to look (because he's dead, full stop) and looks up the wine card of the restaurant's website he's just opened. Someone talks to him and he answers, then he wants to check the champagnes of another restaurant.

'Here is a list of French vintage champagnes,' Google replies and he hurriedly turns down the volume in embarrassment.

'It is, you might in fact say, like a face from the past.'

'Great, I'll have that one.'

Sherlock frowns. 'It is familiar but with the quality of surprise.'

'Well, surprise me.'

'Certainly endeavouring to, sir,' Sherlock mutters, plucking the card from John's hand and leaving him. Has his John always been so oblivious? Good god. It looks as if Sherlock should have done the jump out of a cake thing after all.

'Sorry that took so long.'

John looks up and his lips curl into a smile.

'You OK?' Mary asks.

'Yeah, yeah,' he says and quickly slips his phone into a pocket. 'Me? Fine. I'm fine.'

'Now, then, what did you want to ask me?'

He looks away, a little nervous suddenly. He wanted to ask the question later. 'So, er … listen, um…' Calm down Watson, he tells himself off, you're not proposing or so, you're just asking if she'd like to move in with you. 'I know it hasn't been long, but … if you see me almost every day now, I moved into a bigger flat, so could you imagine… um, could you see your way to…'

'Doctor Watson?' He glances aside to see the nurse that's been running in and out of that room next to Mary and him. 'About this new patient, could you come and have a look for a moment.'

Mary chuckles.

'Nobody else here to take care? Or is it an emergency?'

'Yes, Doctor Stapleton would be here, and no, no emergency, but Doctor Watson, you're just–'

'No, seriously,' he interrupts her. 'I've finished for today, I'm on my way home.'

'The new patient's brother wanted none but you. Um, he's called … Christ what was it? Er, it sounded like Microsoft or so.'

John stares at her. Then he rushes into the room to look at the patient.

'John? John, who is it?' Mary asks behind him, probably following.

It's him. It's Sherlock. It's definitely him. It's his face, his hair, those cheekbones and he's sleeping. Is he? John doesn't dare to wonder if this is a normal sleep. If he'll wake up in the next few hours, if he could wake him up by shaking him. Next to his bed is a monitor, and there in Sherlock's hand is an envelope with John's name, inside a piece of paper with two words.

'…not dead,' Sherlock says clearly and straightens.

 


 

'Do you think he would like your moustache?' Mary asks, breaking a heavy silence.

She and John are standing at the end of Sherlock's bed, watching him breathe and do nothing. He's still the coma, but doing much better than before his “death”. During a call half an hour later Mycroft has told John that he'd brought his younger brother to a secret government whatever-John's-better-off-not-knowing-any-details place. There he had experts implant a new heart, a new liver and a new set of kidneys, as well as special medicine. The newest there was. John personally thinks Mycroft had scientists develop it just for Sherlock. Someone so close to death wouldn't have got new organs normally either, but Mycroft had easily got some from a criminal network in Serbia. After the biggest danger was over, the younger Holmes brother had still enjoyed special treatment for the past months but now, according to Mycroft, it was time to reunite him with a doctor who genuinely cares. 'Do I?' John had asked and snorted, to which Mycroft had laughed a little and said, 'Admit it, you missed him.' And so, John took care of Sherlock himself and was now standing there with Mary and looking at him.

'You like it, that's enough.'

'No, she doesn't,' Sherlock says. It's obvious that nobody likes this ridiculous moustache at all.

But John and Mary have left the room for Sherlock never really opened his mouth or showed any sign of criticism. Nevertheless, John does shave it off eventually. And he also moves in with Mary. They have a lovely little party, which John tells Sherlock all about the other day. He doesn't spend so much time with him as before but he comes to his room in some of the coffee breaks and sometimes even watches TV with him again.

'Mary wants a cat,' he says one morning.

'I met Greg! He's glad you're not gone,' John tells him another time.

'I watched that film about secret agents last night. And there was this guy who blackmailed people with things he knew about them. He had this strange memory technique only clever people can use. Greg told me you're pretty damn smart, so do you have a memory house? A mind house or so?'

'Mary lied to me about something and we had a fight.' On this day, he stays at Sherlock's for a while after finishing work.

'Hey, they show that Victorian ghost detective film today, and Mary's at a friend's place over the weekend anyway, shall we watch it together? It's about this bride whose ghost rises again. Critics say it's surprising and clever.'

'We got the cat.' He sighs. 'To be honest, I would rather have a dog. Well, we wouldn't have the time to walk it anyway, I guess.'

'Look – sorry, right. Um, I'm holding the phone right in front of you right now and it's a picture of our cat. The fur is rather bright, not really white though. Mary insisted on calling it Rosamund.'

'Rosie shoved the Thatcher bust off the mantle of the fireplace but we forgave her right away.'

On a particular day in June, John hurries into Sherlock's room, bent over a little. He closes the door firmly then steps towards the bed. 'I really know I shouldn't do this, but you never open your eyes so…' He goes quiet and sets down something small on the bed. It meows and moves. Gently, he takes Sherlock's hand so his fingers touch the soft fur. 'She's really cute, Sherlock.'

Cute, but wayward: the cat makes it's way over Sherlock's body in her adorable clumsy way then jumps to the bed stand.

'If you want to keep the rattle,' Sherlock says, looking the small human dead into the eyes. 'Do not throw the rattle.'

Rosamund Watson proceeds to throw the rattle.

She stays with John when he and Mary break up. It's her who moves out after too many fights. Too many lies and faces from her past and it just didn't work out. John tells Sherlock how they talked again at the London Aquarium. She had liked being John's girlfriend, but they could both see that it was over. 'So, Mary's gone and I got to keep the cat,' he closes. 'Mary's kind of dead to me. Oh god, no, that sounds too dramatic.'

In Sherlock's world it is quite dramatic, though. And John doesn't talk to him anymore. So he goes back to the drugs, not allowed to babysit Rosie anymore. He asks nevertheless.

It's Molly who's at John's place. 'He said, he'd rather have anyone but you. Anyone.'

'Anyone what?' John asks when he meets Molly in Sherlock's room.

'You'd rather have anyone but him on one of my tables,' she says, leaving the room.

'I'd rather have no-one dying at all,' he replies and she smiles a little. She's right though.

When Mrs Hudson reunites them at John's therapist's house, Sherlock is high off his arse. When they encounter Culverton Smith, it feels good to investigate with John again. Only until he gets beaten up by none other than John, of course.

'I killed his wife.'

'Yes, you did.'

Sherlock doesn't know how to cope with all of that. He needs John. He doesn't want to die.

'Once more for luck,' Smith mutters, rolling up his sleeves.

'I don't want to die. I don't…' Sherlock hates that he can't help the tears in his eyes. '…want to die.'

'Lovely.'

In the real world, John's there, as usual. And Sherlock doesn't move. Nothing happens at all. The crime novel he's reading (out loud) is exciting though. In the end he goes back home late, very late. John sneaks out of the hospital, after all this time still embarrassed for staying in the coma patient's room for so long. The sounds of the walking cane betray him. Damn the leg. And damn that book and the procrastinating, John won't have more that five hours of sleep then. He'll be damn tired tomorrow and it's going to be a damn long day. Damn Tuesdays. Damn the flat for being so cold. It's June for god's sake. After feeding Rosie, John goes straight to bed.

He really is damn tired the next morning.

In the tube he would have missed his stop if it wasn't for the routine that makes him get out at the same stop every day. He would take the right stop if he were a brainless zombie.

His first destination is the coffee vending machine. Ah, elixir of heaven. John gulps down all of it before he even reaches the right floor to start his shift. It's a dull day at work, a particularly exhausting but dull and tiring day and the only person not complaining is Sherlock but then again, he never does. Sometimes, John wishes he would.

John spends the lunch break in Sherlock's room with another coffee and a newspaper. Later, after his shift, he just goes there because his telly is broken. He's already changed into normal clothes again and deliberately goes after a nurse left the comatose man. If nothing happens, nobody will disturb the peace. John pulls the armchair by the window next to the bed to have a better view at the telly. He presses a button on the remote and the black screen flickers to life. Just in time for–ugh. Ads. With a sigh he mutes the TV and glances at his watch. Half of the film he wanted to watch is already over, but it's an old one he already knows.

'Do you even like all that crime drama?' he asks Sherlock.

No yes and no no.

'Do you have a secret pleasure like romances from the fifties?'

No answer, but John has quitted feeling foolish for talking to Sherlock a long time ago.

'I'll bring “Casablanca” next week. We might need to watch it on my laptop if your TV doesn't have a DVD player.' He sighs. 'Pity you can't see anything.'

Sherlock doesn't seem to mind it much. His face is as emotionless and peaceful as ever. Well, if one is attracted to men, unlike John obviously, one could say Sherlock Holmes is a very handsome man. With those cheekbones and that philtrum. Oh, and the dark voice. John remembers it from the day Sherlock arrived. Fit body, too, well, back then anyway.

He keeps looking at him, which might be a bit creepy if Sherlock wakes up, but he doesn't. The ads change to the film, but it's still muted so he doesn't notice. It's quiet and outside, it's getting dark. John shifts in his chair, half asleep and then he really dozes off.

Two men next to each other, sleeping, and guess who wakes up first.

 


 

'Boring.'

Other sounds, other voices. They stop. Music plays instead. A groan.

'Boring.'

The sounds change again, several times, then die.

'You know, John, there's a reason why I don't ever watch TV with you. John. John.'

A sound of something hitting the floor. John blinks. There is the remote of the TV next to Sherlock's bed. It's switched off and the room is relatively dark. He groans and straightens in the chair. His whole body aching.

'John… Ah. Finally. God, you slept for an eternity. Tedious.'

John turns his head. Oh god.

They stare at each other for several moments.

Sherlock cocks his head to the side. 'Can I have a glass of water?'

John stares at him.

'Please?' His head is turned to John, his eyes are open. They have a piercing shade of turquoise and they are looking right at John. Sherlock is pale, but he always has been. His curls are like they always have been. John has never seen how they bounce a bit when Sherlock moves his head. He points at the empty glass on the table, his hand is shaking slightly.

John looks at it as if it's suddenly alive as well. His gaze flicks back to Sherlock, then he grabs one of the glasses and the water bottle that is also standing there for visitors. He gets up and brings the filled glass to Sherlock. By now, Sherlock has figured out how to use the remote to lift the top end of the bed to make him sit up.

'No! You can't-'

But Sherlock grabs the glass with fierce determination, gaze focused on it as if it was a hard challenge. Which it is, since it's much heavier than the small plastic remote and that bit should have powered Sherlock out enough. He was asleep for about a year. It's a wonder that he can move his hands and arms at all and talk so naturally already, not more than a slight slur to his words.

As to be expected, the he can't keep hold of the glass. It drops when he tries to drink and by the time that John catches it, it's already empty. He sighs a little and walks back to the table to refill it. His brain has shoved the OH MY GOD HE IS AWAKE AND ALIVE AND COMMUNICATING away to switch to the Professional Mode™. There's still an awkward silence though.

'You're mad at me,' Sherlock breaks it, voice quiet. When John glances over, he's fidgeting with the wet hospital gown.

He returns to him. 'No, I'm not,' he says softly. Why would he be angry at a patient for spilling some water?! 'I don't approve of the drugs, though.'

'You must have understood that it was the only way, John.' Sherlock huffs. 'Idiot.'

John raises an eyebrow and holds the glass away from him, even though he knows he's being childish and totally not professional. What is wrong with him?

'Thank you for saving me,' Sherlock says and suddenly sounds very genuine. 'And for forgiving me.'

John smiles, a little amused. 'My pleasure,' he says albeit not entirely understanding the bit about forgiving. Does that refer to the spilled water again? He steps closer and slides a hand to the back of Sherlock's head to lift it while he holds the glass to his lips. It's not the first time he feels the dark soft curls brushing over his fingers but everything has changed five minutes ago. Sherlock takes small sips.

'I need to call Lestrade. No, I need to see him,' he says after the drinking, glancing around the room.

'He'll be over the moon,' John replies with a smile.

Sherlock chuckles. 'Nah, I don't think so. He's going to be annoyed like usual.' He glances around the room, eyes lingering on the walking cane leaned against the table. 'He's got the recording of Smith's confession, right?'

John doesn't really listen. He forgot his cane, he walked without like he did before the injury years ago. There is definitely something wrong with him today. Or right. (He feels good.)

'How do you feel?' he asks Sherlock while beginning to check the monitor and feel his pulse himself. He is still standing like any normal person, for once not leaning on a cane.

'Terrible, but I'll be better. Let's go and see Lestrade.' He tries to sit up and moves his legs over the edge of the bed.

'Sherlock, stop!' John rushes over. 'You need rest.'

'I'll rest at home,' Sherlock says and smirks. 'I have my personal doctor, do I not?'

'Just lie down,' John orders. 'I'll call your brother.'

'Mycroft? No, thanks.' With remarkable strength, he shifts to the edge. Sherlock tilts over when he attempts to get up and John catches him. The wet fabric of the gown is pressed against his own shirt and he feels Sherlock's fast breath against his neck.

'John.'

'You can't walk, Sherlock. You just woke up!'

'I have to be there when they question Smith. You know the imbeciles at Scotland Yard! They'll ask only stupid questions, in the end he'll talk himself out of it! That's a serial killer, John! John, don't put me back down, help me walk!'

'Don't worry about some case, Sherlock.' He makes the top end of the bed sink down a bit and puts Sherlock's feet back up. It occurs to him that he maybe shouldn't call Sherlock by his first name. He's just his doctor, even if Sherlock calls him John. 'You can talk to the detective inspector later, Mr Holmes.'

Sherlock gives him a look. 'What is wrong with you?!' He huffs. 'Get me dressed and into a wheelchair.'

'No.'

Sherlock narrows his eyes and doesn't speak for a few moments. 'You're weirdly concerned today,' he says and suddenly speaks very fast. 'You always care but you behave different today. You have a new haircut, but you're wearing those clothes from four years ago again. You had a long day, but you didn't spend it with Rosie because there are cat hairs on your shirt. They're from this morning, and then there are slight scratch marks on your wrist from a week ago. Who do we know that has a cat? It's not Molly, nor Mrs Hudson, and why don't I see any signs of Rosie on you? Where is she?' He pauses, eyes wide. 'John. You're not dating someone new with a cat, are you? Not after Mary. Not so soon.'

John stares at him and doesn't know if he should be in awe that Sherlock knows about Rosie or confused because his speech doesn't make any sense. 'That is my private life, Mr Holmes,' he manages in the end, voice tight.

Sherlock looks up to him and their eyes meet. Slowly, his lips curl into a smile and he chuckles, fully laughs then.

John can't help a smile. He's thought about Sherlock's deep, rumbling voice. It's less hoarse now, than it was a year ago and the laugh is … it sounds nice. Frankly, it suits Sherlock much better than the emotionless expression he had during the weird sort of coma. When he leaves the hospital some day, maybe … maybe John could … experiment. In the past months, he's been wondering whether he might be attracted to men. Sherlock definitely is very attractive and people have teased John. He's not gay! Just … maybe … he might … like … Maybe when Sherlock leaves hospital, John should just ask him out. An experiment. Back in the army, he never really admitted to himself that he appreciated the fit forms of some of the other soldiers even though he knew it. In University times, he kissed men on parties when they played stupid games. John … might have liked it.

'John?'

'Sorry, what?'

'You look conflicted. You're not having qualms about smuggling me out of the hospital, are you?'

'You want me to smuggle you out of the hospital?' he repeats dumbly.

Sherlock actually smirks. 'Don't pretend, John. You miss that kind of things. The thrill.'

John frowns. 'But-'

'Last time, I ran away all by myself to talk to a master blackmailer. And I was more dead than alive. So you better stay with me this time, don't you think?'

The frown deepens.

'And I was alone with Moriarty! Twice. Come on, John. This way or another I'll get out of here anyway.' His smile is so confident and devilish that John nearly believes him. From Mycroft, Molly and Greg he's heard enough stories to know Sherlock would definitely try and do something crazy or manipulate somebody else to help him.

The word Moriarty is the most alarming. He can't let Sherlock go back to the drug.

They exchange a long look and Sherlock sighs when John takes out his mobile. 'Tell Mycroft his caring is flattering. Or bug Lestrade until he gives me a new case!'

'I'm texting Molly Hooper.'

'What, why?'

'To convince me not to do something stupid like getting you out of here.'

Sherlock groans in frustration and throws his head back. 'She's an idiot. You're an idiot. Sometimes you're worse than Anderson.'

John looks up, offended. 'Hey!'

Sherlock smirks. 'Well, he would never let me get out, you know,' he drawls.

'Why exactly do you want to leave the hospital again?' he asks, feeling like an idiot indeed. Their banter has distracted him. He hasn't even told Sherlock about the coma yet though he wonders if Sherlock knows. The fact that he knew about Mary and Rosie, about Afghanistan and Anderson and how he talked to John as if talking to a friend builds up to the theory that he's heard everything that has happened around him. But why isn't he freaking out now? How can he be so calm? John composes himself. 'Sherlock. I mean, Mr–'

' I have had time to think, John,' Sherlock interrupts him and rolls his eyes. 'You should be used to the idea that that takes me a little less time than you.'

'No, this is serious. Do you know–'

'That what I first believed to be real, then turned out to be a dream caused by a high consummation of drugs, was in fact partly true but different in reality than what I thought? Yes, I am aware of that, John, and to piece it all together correctly, prove it to myself and move on I NEED TO GO TO MY FLAT.'

'YOU JUST WOKE UP!' …oh for fuck's sake. What's this? Shouting at patients?

'YES I KNOW, JOHN. I KNOW EVERYTHING.'

'Oh?' He lets out a short laugh, still feeling bad for the shouting but Sherlock didn't seem to mind much. 'Do you? Then-'

'Hamish. Doctor John Hamish Watson. Or Captain.' Sherlock smiles a little. 'Fifth Northumberland fusiliers. Injured in Afghanistan, that's why you used to walk with a cane. That walking cane over there.'

For a few moments, John is quiet (part of him is still wondering how he can stand like this, without the cane). 'So… you do … remember everything that happened?' he asked slowly. It is indeed quite possible: a coma where the person hears and feels everything but cannot react.

'Obviously.' Sherlock pauses. 'I do admit that the extensive use of certain substances that could be called drugs might have had a hallucinating effect on me so that I perceived unimportant details slightly differently, but I'm getting better.'

There is a long silence.

'I'm not smuggling you out of the hospital,' John says then. 'What sort of doctor am I?!'

Sherlock's piercing blue eyes fixate on him, like a predator looks at its prey. Or as if he's about to say mine. 'One that misses the war and loves the thrill.'

John huffs a laugh and steps away. This is not the standard procedure for a patient waking up from the coma. He should be going home anyway and leave this to a doctor whose shift is now. He should call Mycroft.

His eyes fall on the newest case file. Greg left it here just yesterday and John hasn't opened it yet. 'How about you stay in bed and take a look at this? That's the file Greg brought.'

'Who's Greg?'

'Your friend.'

Sherlock frowns. 'You're my friend, John.'

'I'm your doctor.' But he realises he likes Sherlock calling him a friend. John has often thought that when Sherlock wakes up, he'd just stalk out of the room. It's undeniable that he means something to John, but he'd always thought that it wasn't like this the other way around, even if he'd pretended things to be different. John clears his throat. 'Detective Inspector Lestrade.'

'Oh. Him. Why did you call him Greg? Does he pretend to be somebody else sometimes?'

'It's his real name,' John says and gives him the file.

Sherlock takes a look at it. 'Dull.'

'You haven't even read one word, have you?'

'Bring me to my flat, John.'

'Solve the case. I'm going to get some coffee.' Because he wants to stay. It's the middle of the night but John wants to be the one taking care of his patient and he wants to see if Sherlock is really as good as they say. He doesn't want to go home yet.

Just when his hand touches the door knob, Sherlock speaks up again. 'Uncle.'

'Sorry, what?' He scurries back.

Sherlock has dropped the file and tries to sit up again. 'Where's my coat?'

'What uncle?'

'The victim's uncle. Goodness, John why are you so stupid today? Call Lestrade. If I'm right, you help me get out of here. If I'm wrong, you can go home. I'll bribe someone.'

John takes the file and looks at the pictures. There are some suspects but none is an uncle. He only spots the word on the second page in some statement. 'Why did he kill the woman?'

'She wanted to tell people that he raped her. It would have destroyed his career.'

John eventually calls Lestrade and tells him everything Sherlock says. Lestrade barely cares about the case.

'He's indeed over the moon to hear that you're awake,' John informs Sherlock after anding the call. 'He'll come by tomorrow.'

'Yeah, but what about the case? It was the uncle, right?'

'They don't know yet but they'll question him and look at what you said.'

'Can we go home then?'

'As soon as they arrest the guy,' John hears himself promise. 'You should have some rest.'

Sherlock complains and grumbles to himself for at least another hour, then he tries to brainwash John. Halfway through an argument about fake moustaches, glasses, bow ties and French accents, he falls victim to the exhaustion. John checks, but it's normal sleep.

At about five o'clock in the morning, John fetches a coffee for himself and a tea for Sherlock. It's crazy how after a whole year, he was awake now and they were talking as if he always had been. Like friends. When Sherlock explained the case to him, John uttered a 'brilliant' and Sherlock smiled. John felt at ease talking to him, like before, but it was so much better now that Sherlock's eyes were open and focused on him. It was so much better now that he reacted and replied. Even if it were remarks like 'idiot' or 'stupid'. He said it in a fond tone, actually.

They haven't really spoken about the coma again. Sherlock doesn't appear to have the need for it and John doesn't know what to say.

It's half eight when Sally Donovan comes in for a routine check and to change the artificial nutrition. By that point, Sherlock's asleep again and John has changed into his white clothes, but he doesn't much like the idea of starting his shift in thirty minutes and leaving Sherlock alone.

'Has anything happened or did you spend hours goggling at his face again?' she asks sarcastically and studies the monitor.

'You're in no position to talk to me like that,' he mutters. She's a nurse after all. He's the doctor. And this is his Sherlock–has John really just thought that? He straightens. 'Mr Holmes woke up from his coma last night. I talked to him and as it appears, he was able to hear what happened around him and thus knows about his state.'

She turns and after the initial surprise they talk about the medical proceedings. Eventually, John leaves the room (reluctantly) and calls Mycroft. He doesn't pick up so John leaves a message, telling him to call back ASAP. He starts his shift then.

 


 

'No!' John says for what feels like the hundredth time.

'Oh, come on, John.' Sherlock's voice sounds weirdly seductive.

Two days have passed and Mycroft turned up twice, Lestrade, too, but Sherlock was asleep then. Neither Anderson nor Donovan got to talk to him and John feels weirdly smug about it.

'No, I won't do it.'

Sherlock makes a face, but he doesn't give up.

'I can't believe I'm doing this,' John mutters and checks Sherlock through again. Whatever was in the drug, it resulted into a very weird sort of coma because Sherlock is in a better state than to be expected. Still, he is very weird. Clearly, his brainwashing skills though are perfectly alright. John fetches soup for to see if he can eat and then waits another thirty minutes until he finally decides to carefully remove the needle on the back of Sherlock's hand and sets him free from all artificial nutrition.

'A good doctor would never do this,' he mutters while pulling the covers back and setting down a stack of clothing on the bed. 'No-one who's in their right mind would do this. You've clearly manipulated me. This is the stupidest thing I've done.'

Sherlock snorts. 'You invaded Afghanistan.' He jerks a little when John's fingers touch his thighs to pull up the gown.

John stops. 'I'm a doctor. I see naked people often enough, it's no difference. I've seen you naked before, too.' There's a pause. 'Of course, we don't have to do this. You can just stay here.'

Sherlock swallows and opens his mouth, but then he just shrugs and looks to the window. 'No. Go ahead.'

So John does, quickly changing Sherlock into the pants and the suit he's found. It's true, he does see naked patients often enough and he has the medical view on it. In the hospital, for him as a doctor, it's just another part of someone's body. Even if he's had brief thoughts about asking this particular patient out.

Soon after, Sherlock is put in a wheelchair, now wearing a coat and a scarf. It was John's idea to gel back his hair and Sherlock suggests glasses and a small fake moustache. He says something about John not having recognised him like that the last time and while he gets that it's a joke he doesn't understand it at all. He doesn't agree to steal glasses, hair product and eyeliner either. Well, he borrows it instead.

They quickly make their way to an elevator. Luckily, their cab is already waiting outside. Even if Sherlock didn't do anything himself, the short trip already exhausted him and he leans back and closes his eyes as the driver leaves the parking of the hospital.

'Where are we going, sir?' he asks with a glance at John in the rear mirror.

'221B Bakerstreet,' Sherlock mutters. He turns his head to look at John. 'I need to ask Mrs Hudson a few questions.'

John closes his eyes for a moment. 'We could have called her. Actually, I'm sure she'd have agreed to coming to the hospital anyway.' Mrs Hudson, John's favourite colleague retired earlier this year.

'Need to look at the flat as well,' Sherlock says.

'Just… why?'

'I'll explain it to you when I've found something.'

John sighs.

Sherlock looks out of the window.

When they arrive, Sherlock is much more awake again but Mrs Hudson isn't at home. Or she's sleeping. Nobody opens the door anyway.

'Give me something to pick the lock,' Sherlock commands, holding out his hand.

'No!' John says and pulls the wheelchair back and away from the door.

'But John, this–'

'No!'

Sherlock pouts but he can't rebel really because he is weak and John is much stronger. Next to 221B Bakerstreet, there's a small bistro and that's where John is taking Sherlock, getting them both something to eat and drink.

'This was a bad idea,' he says. 'Why am I doing this? What if I lose my job in the end?'

'Well, I, for one, am not going to fire you,' Sherlock says and gives John a crooked smile.

John can't help but smile back until he knows this moment of eye contact and stupid smiles has lasted too long so he clears his throat and glances around the room. 'You know,' he starts then and looks back at Sherlock, 'I'm very glad that you…' He clears his throat. 'Made it,' he says then and frowns at his sandwich. 'What I wanted to say, I'm of course glad about your current state but I also, uh, appreciate the fact you and I…' No, wait, “you and I” sounds wrong! 'That we are on good terms,' he closes eventually, feeling stupid.

Sherlock doesn't give him a sarcastic answer but actually appears a bit nervous as well. 'John, well, you have been so nice to me. And after all this time and everything that happened, we're… you're my friend.'

Again, John smiles. 'Yes. Okay. I'm your friend,' he says because Sherlock looks strangely lost. John straightens then. 'Let's eat and get you back to the hospital before anyone notices you're gone.'

They fall into an easy conversation after that. Back in the cab, they continue talking, until Sherlock falls victim to the exhaustion and falls asleep, head sinking against John's shoulder. They're so not just a doctor and his patient.

Luckily, though, officially they remain just that because nobody notices when they get back and Sherlock gets back into bed. Mycroft stops by again that evening just when Sherlock is being transferred to another room in a different part of the hospital. He's awake but drowsy from the medicine they just gave him. While Mycroft and John have a little talk in the cafeteria, John feels like Mycroft is looking right into his brain again, much like his brother does but with Sherlock, John feels more comfortable.

'You say he knows?' Mycroft asks eventually and John nods.

'He was oddly calm about it but Sherlock explained to me that he had dreams that were sort of contortions of the reality. So while he did seem to know a lot of things about me or the past months, he keeps getting them confused.'

'He knows he was dreaming but he still can't quite tell the difference between dream and reality?' Mycroft summarises.

John nods again. 'He wanted to go to his flat to get himself proof and clearing.'

Mycroft frowns. 'He doesn't have a flat.'

Sherlock trie s to bribe a nurse that night but it d oes n't work, sadly. He desperately need s to leave this god damn hospital! He need s to find out who that woman was that came to his flat and pretended to be Faith Smith! Or has he hallucinated the whole visit altogether? Maybe nobody has ever come and he just imagined it in Mrs Hudson's trunk.

It is driving him mad, especially since John is being so slow and weird.

No! No complaining about John because John has forgiven him. Sherlock has killed his wife and John still comes to the hospital on a daily basis!

In the morning, when Sherlock wakes up, he retreats into his mind palace for the rest of the day. Some nurse tries to talk to him but he flicks his hand in a dismissive gesture.

It takes Mycroft a moment but then he sigh s and bur ies his face in his hands. 'He must have meant the place he stayed at before the coma,' he sa ys . 'I had it located and searched but his belongings were just an old mattress and a few syringes with remnants of cocaine and “Moriarty”. It was just some room in a drug den. You can't allow him to go back there.' He sound s deadly serious then. 'If he tries again, call me,' Mycroft add s and g ets up. 'I'll talk to you soon, Dr Watson. My best wishes to my brother. I took the freedom to give him newly developed pills earlier. The best medicine I could find.'

It is John's turn to sigh then, getting up as well. A bit later, he goes home and the next day, today, is his day off so he stays at home. The small, dark flat is downright depressing.

'I should get myself a flatmate,' he says to Mike on the lunch break the day after. ' You know, together with someone, we could afford a better apartment and I wouldn't be alone.'

Mike huffs a laugh.

'What?'

'You don't want a flatmate, you want a boyfriend.'

'Girlfriend, ' John corrects.

'Doesn't make much of a difference.'

'I'm not gay, Mike!'

' Doesn't mean you're not bi. You did seem to enjoy making out with James Peterson in your second year of university.'

'We weren't making out, it was just some party game and a kiss. Doesn't mean anything. Also, it was years ago!'

Mike laughs again. 'Man, I didn't mean that time! I meant when you were hiding in a literal closet with him. To be fair, you were dead drunk.'

John looks away and sips on his coffee . He barely even remembers. 'Still, I am looking for a flatmate.'

Mike is quiet, looking up as he thinks. Then he shakes his head and pats John's shoulder. 'Sorry, buddy, I don't think I know anybody you could ask.'

 


 

Sherlock is recovering miraculously fast which is the good news. The bad news are that Anderson gets a promotion and is even more annoying than before.

Even Lestrade is getting pissed off. 'I hate Anderson!' he rants, entering Sherlock's new room where he finds John. 'And Donovan, too!'

Sherlock rolls his eyes. 'Tell me about it,' he mutters.

'Asked me stupid questions about that case from last week today,' Greg says and looks at John. 'He knows that I gave you the file! Man, Anderson and Donovan can both go fuck themselves.'

'They actually still fuck each other when Anderson's wife not at home,' Sherlock says.

John and the inspector stare at Sherlock for a few moment, impressed at the deduction, then they start laughing and Sherlock grins a bit.

'You don't have the right to complain though,' John says. 'You don't get to see them here.' In his new room, Sherlock is treated by other nurses and doctors. Only John insisted to keep the patient because he knows the history and because he's sort of a familiar face and voice to Sherlock, so he argued.

' Let's hope I never have to leave this hospital room then,' Sherlock says dryly. But John knows that even though he's still easily exhausted and very unfit, he's doing fine otherwise. It'll take time and therapy until he'll be able to properly walk again but he can already hold half filled teacups. It's crazy how a few days ago, he was still in the coma . John's only task as a doctor is to check up on him on c e a day but he also comes here after his shifts to talk to Sherlock, already changed and in casual clothes then. Ever since Sherlock woke up, John hasn't used the walking cane.

L estrade shakes his head a bit, smiling, when him and John are walking down the corridor later to leave the hospital. 'That thing about Anderson and Donovan, he got that all from just hearing their voices and figuring about their characters? You know, John, I've seen him make many deductions, but he keeps amazing me.'

John smiles back. That patient turned out to be amazing indeed. 'Well,' he says then, 'They probably were alone in his room at some point.'

'Yeah, okay… At least he couldn't get visual context.'

John snickers, then they have to say goodbye. On his way home, John's thoughts continue to circulate around Sherlock. He tries to prepare good conversation starters for the next days but it's hard with Sherlock because he doesn't know him all that well after all even if he likes to pretend he does. He knows the way Sherlock's breathing and he knows what his hair looks like splayed out of the blanket. John knows about the mole on Sherlock's shoulder and he could draw the shape of his lips from his head. Is he being a creep?

S herlock's lips are very nice looking. Recognisable, he means. Though John wonders, hypothetically, what a stubble burn feels like.

The next day, when he comes for the usual talk, conversation starter prepared, Sherlock's asleep and John allows himself to look at him like he used to when Sherlock was in the coma.

On the day after, Sherlock is pissed. 'I want a phone,' he announces, when John walks in. 'Where's my phone?'

'You don't have a phone, as far as I'm informed,' John says.

Sherlock sighs. 'Can I borrow yours?' he asks.

'What for?'

'I want a case!'

'You just solved one!'

'That's what you always say,' Sherlock grumbles.

'I said it once !'

'I don't care, give me a case!' He tilts his head a bit. 'Please?'

'I'll tell you when Lestrade calls.'

Sherlock sighs and slumps back in the bed. 'Can we go out and smoke?'

' No !' John half shouts, then his lips curl into a grin. 'You're ridiculous.'

'You are,' Sherlock says but he smiles back.

The moment lasts too long for John to not feel the heat creep into his cheeks so he turns away and sits in the chair. 'You are officially allowed to leave the bed now, you know?'

Sherlock rolls his eyes. 'Fascinating. I've been dying to sit at the table instead of in the bed. Besides, I can't make my way to the toilet on my own yet.'

'Let's go out,' John says suddenly. 'You can mostly eat on your own and I'll push your wheelchair again.'

'You want to go out for dinner?' Sherlock looks up and stabs John with the deduction gaze.

'Yeah, why not? I'm your doctor, I know what you can eat.'

Sherlock smiles a bit. 'So. We're going out.'

Is it a date? John wonders but he doesn't dare asking. He couldn't date Sherlock anyway because John is his doctor. It's against the guidelines . 'Friday night, half seven ?'

'It's not like I have a tight schedule, John.'

 


 

There's a lot of emergencies on the next day so another doctor does the routine checks on Sherlock.

Of course, John doesn't want to date Sherlock (yes, he does) but he can't help the realisation that if the other doctor is Sherlock's new doctor maybe there would be a way. Even if the officials would advise against it.

John is well aware that if he is bisexual, Sherlock is not the ideal object for the big experiment. In the unlikely case that, first of all, Sherlock is attracted to men and secondly, willing to go out with John. 'Sherlock's a special person, very special,' John says after his third drink. 'I'm just…' He thinks. 'Me. I'm not as smart and stupidly special.'

'We've definitely found a candidate for the flatmate slash boyfriend thing,' Mike says. 'Cheers!'

John gives him a dark look. 'I'm his doctor! And it's not even been a week since he woke up.'

'He's listened to your stupid talking for a whole year and you're all gone for him anyway. Just tell his rich brother that Sherlock can leave the hospital if he lives with a personal nurse or something and don't tell people here.'

'I'd be surprised if Mycroft hasn't organised that yet anyway. How I know him, he'll want me to be Sherl ock 's nurse,' he adds, huffs a laugh and takes a big gulp of his drink.

' Maybe you'll get to do the wanking for him,' Mike suggests and receives an angry look. 'Have you checked out gay porn maybe? See if it arouses you. '

John shrugs. ' Maybe,' he sa ys. 'What if I'm actually beginning to have feelings for my patient?' he whines.

'Beginning to?' Mike echoes and scoffs.

'Shut up.'

'I'm trying to help you, mate.'

'Stop grinning like that!'

But Mike doesn't stop so John orders another drink.

 


 

When John enters Sherlock's room Friday night, he's wearing nice clothes. Sherlock is not. Sherlock isn't wearing any clothes, to be precise.

' You know, normally on a date, people eat first and have sex after,' John says sarcastically. Then he stops walking, eyes widening when he realise he's said that out loud. He doesn't even know where that thought came from.

Sherlock looks equally shook, staring at John. 'What?' he manages dumbly. It's a completely new expression on his face. But then again, even if John does know his (very handsome) face very well, he's not accustomed to every possible expression.

'Will you explain to me why you're sitting naked on the floor?' John asks then, wishing he could erase the last minute from both their memor ies .

S herlock's pale face goes all red now but he doesn't move, covering himself with his hands. 'I made Mycroft send me clothes I can wear in public and when I tried to get dressed I fell off the bed and didn't reach the wardrobe,' he mutters embarrassedly.

'Well, that's worse than my joke,' John mutters, earning a glare. He grins a bit and goes to the wardrobe to open it. 'There's only p yjamas, underwear and expensive suits in here. Don't you have anything in between?'

' Have you ever seen me wearing anything else?' Sherlock asks, raising an eyebrow. 'Give me a set of pants. I can pull them on by myself.'

'I changed you last week, I still remember what you look like naked.' After he's said it, John realises that this is not date flirting.

'Leave me some dignity, John,' Sherlock says but his tone is almost fond.

John gives him a pair of briefs and turns to look out of the window. He does indeed remember and actually, he really wouldn't mind seeing Sherlock all naked again without his hands covering anything. Well, of course not, because he has a doctor's view on it and he's seen enough men naked to not mind so much anymore. As he waits and hears Sherlock shuffle around, he actually finds himself looking forward to getting Sherlock into the suit. And he wonders what Sherlock will look like in fine clothes.

'John.'

John turns. 'Which suit do you want then?'

Sherlock chooses one and John takes it out. Then, he lifts Sherlock to help him back on the bed. First, he helps him into the trousers which gets a little difficult at the arse. Sherlock takes care of the belt himself while John unbuttons the shirt.

'Let me try…' Sherlock's arms shake but he manages sitting up at the second attempt.

John applauds and gives Sherlock the shirt, helping him only a bit, same with the blazer.

Sherlock's smile is proud, like a child who has tied their shoe laces for the first time. 'Thank you for not making this too awkward,' Sherlock says and the words “thank you” seems strange on his lips. It's the second time he's said it to John now.

John returns the smile and goes down on one knee for the socks and shoes. 'Well, it's not what usually happens when I pick someone up to go out with them. '

Sherlock doesn't reply, just observing John with a slight frown on his face.

Why is everything so weird since he woke up after the Culverton Smith case? Sherlock wonders. Why does John keep making quips about “going out”, “dates” and “sex”? Then, a very frightening though hits him: what if John knows that Sherlock's hopelessly in love with him? But he can't tell and he doesn't understand why John would react like this.

It's all very weird.

'Coat?' John asks and gets up.

Sherlock blinks and nods.

John helps him into it. He's brought the wheelchair right away so he pushed it next to the bed and lifts Sherlock by reaching around his torso. This time, Sherlock clutches onto him and feels less limp in John's arms. John's weirdly conscious of every place where they touch, especially when Sherlock's thigh presses against John's crotch. Now John is almost sure he's bisexual.

'Ready to go, Mr Holmes?' He asks when Sherlock's in the wheelchair.

'The cab must be waiting, my dear Watson.'

Now that was almost flirting, wasn't it? John slowly pushes the chair forward. When they reach the door, Sherlock leans forward to open it.

'This is nice,' he says when they leave the elevator. 'I've been in that room for too long.'

'Just a few days.'

'Still… Hurry, John, I want to leave this bloody hospital.'

'Don't order me around.'

'Oh, would you rather give me commands? You're not my superior in the army, John.'

John gets the wrong thoughts, again. 'Let's find our cab,' he says which is a lame comeback but whatever.

When they're in the cab, they talk again, bickering like before and Sherlock mutters a deduction of the cab driver into John's ear. This dark voice could technically be considered attractive. All John manages is an uttered 'Amazing!' and Sherlock leans back with a proud little smile.

At the restaurant, some waiter puts a candle on their table. John doesn't quite know how to deal with it and looks to Sherlock.

The man just smirks. 'Reminds us of something, doesn't it?'

'Huh?'

'Come on, John.' Sherlock rolls his eyes. 'Girlfriend? Not my area. Does that ring any bells?'

When John slowly shakes his head, Sherlock looks disappointed but he wipes that expression off his face within a split second.

'Girlfriends are not your area?' John asks.

'Nope,' Sherlock mutters, and pops the p. He focuses on the menu.

'Oh. Good to now. I mean, it's fine. It's all fine.'

He spots a small smile on Sherlock's face but Sherlock doesn't look up or say anything.

Awkwardly, John takes his own menu and scans it. 'I'm paying for you, too, by the way.'

'Yes, well, why would I have money on me?'

'I'd pay even if you had.'

Sherlock's smile is back. 'Okay… Thank you,' he adds clumsily. 'That's… very nice of you.'

John smiles back. This is going better than he thought. So Sherlock is into men. Apparently. Unless he meant that he isn't the kind of person for relationships…? John reads the same line in the menu for the third time.

'Am I allowed to eat this, Doctor?' Sherlock breaks the heavy silence and turns his menu, pointing at something. His tone is teasing.

John leans forward to read it. 'Yes,' he says then. 'Yes, you can, patient.'

Sherlock pulls a face. 'That sounds awful.'

'Not half as sexy as “doctor”.'

'Oh, so you found what I said sexy?' Sherlock asks, raising an eyebrow.

John clears his throat. 'I was joking. About the sexy thing. I didn't mean anything, it's all just fine,' he rambles.

Fortunately, Sherlock doesn't laugh at him.

Yet another flirtatious line! Where is John going with this? He clearly didn't let Sherlock flirt back so what is this?!

'Look, I'm new to this,' John says after a long and awkward pause.

'New to what?' Sherlock asks, frowning.

'I was just making a dramatic pause.'

'Go on then.'

'Can I offer you something to drink, gentlemen ?'

They both look up at the waiter with a certain annoyance in their faces. 'Just water for now,' John says.

'Can I have a juice?' Sherlock asks gleefully, not looking at the waiter but at John. 'They only have orange juice with pulp in the hospital!'

'Fine, what juice do you want?' John is a bit irritated by Sherlock's childish behaviour. Perhaps he should overthink all of this.

After ordering, Sherlock looks back at John. 'Now what did you want to say? What are you new to? Making terrible jokes? I'm sorry to tell you but that's not new.'

John gives him a look. 'New to going on dates with men. Hence the awful flirting.' He feels his pulse going fast after he's made it clear he considers this a date.

Sherlock freezes.

Fuck, John thinks. He didn't want a date with me, he thinks we're really just friends or anything. Fuck, fuck!

Sherlock is still staring at him. 'This is a date?' he says slowly, incredulous.

'It could be, if you want,' John replies, feeling utterly foolish.

'Yes!' Sherlock says, then he frowns at himself. 'I mean.' He stops and blinks. 'What is going on? You want to get … romantically involved with me? Sexually?'

John swallows, confused. Sherlock wants this but he's incredibly shocked? 'I…'

'But… you're my… I'm your…' Sherlock pauses and then talks very slowly. 'John. You are my…'

'Doctor, I know–'

'Best friend,' Sherlock finishes at the same time. 'What?'

'What?'

They stare at each other for several moments.

'I'm your best friend?' John asks. 'Are you trying to friend-zone me?'

'What does that word even mean?'

'It's when someone tries to hit on you and you clarify that they're just a friend to you.'

'You're not just a friend, John, you're my best friend. But why would you hit on me?' Sherlock gives John a puzzled look.

John searches desperately for the right answer.

'I thought we're friends again,' Sherlock says. 'You said you'd forgiven me for the death of your wife.'

John sits back. 'Sorry, I'm a bit lost here,' he mutters eventually.

'It was my fault that Mary died,' Sherlock said, stiffening. 'You said so, too. That I killed her.'

'But… Mary's alive,' John says confusedly, blinking. Is this brain damage speaking?

Sherlock leans forward, putting a hand on John's arm. 'You keep seeing her, don't you?'

'No!'

'You need to accept she's dead, John. It is, what it is. You need to focus on Rosie now.'

'Rosie's fine. When I left, she was happily sleeping under the sofa.'

Sherlock gives John disconcerted look. 'Not that I'm an expert on babies, but I believe that's not what you're supposed to do with them.'

'It's a cat, Sherlock.'

'What?'

John frowns. 'I thought you heard everything that happened while you were in the coma. Oh! Was Rosie a human baby in your dream?'

The waiter brings them their drinks, but Sherlock doesn't notice. 'What coma?'

'Uh, the one you woke up from last week. You were gone for a whole year after that Moriarty thing.'

'Moriarty is back?!'

'No! You're not getting anywhere near it ever again, trust me!'

'But… it?' Sherlock looks like he doesn't understand anything anymore.

John sighs. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. 'Let's go and settle this somewhere else.'

'No! Here! Now! Why is Mary alive? What is Moriarty? What this thing with the coma?'

John buries his face in his hands, trying to piece it together. Whatever Sherlock has dreamed must have been a very twisted version of the truth. So Mary was John's wife but she died? Sherlock was responsible for it? Rosie is their child? Moriarty is a person?

'John?' Sherlock asks quietly.

John takes a deep breath. 'You came to the hospital about one year ago,' John starts. 'With an ambulance. You had an overdose of a drug called “Moriarty” and after telling me about a killer and the victim's lymph knots you fell unconscious. That was the first time we met. I'm your doctor.'

A myriad of emotions fly over Sherlock's face before he can school his face and straighten. 'So we never went to solve a single case together?' he asks coolly.

'I read crime novels and case files to you and I came up with theories.'

Sherlock asks more questions and slowly, John gets an idea of what his dream has been like. He kind of wishes it could have been the truth. They order food eventually and John makes Sherlock eat something as they keep talking. It's amazing how Sherlock stays this calm and attentive. His whole world is out of joint.

It's in the cab when they go quiet, and in the lights of the cars and lamps, John sees how Sherlock's eyes glistening with tears.

'I'm sincerely sorry,' he says quietly.

Sherlock shrugs. 'Thank you for dinner,' he mutters, lips shaking. He turns his head and looks out of the window. 'At least I didn't have to make you believe I was dead.'

'Well actually. There was that one time… I absolutely panicked. I was devastated.'

Sherlock gives him a small, sad smile. 'I'm sorry,' he says with a small smile. 'Did you actually have an appalling moustache?'

'It looked good!' John complains.

'What did it look like in reality?'

In hopes to make him smile, John shows Sherlock a picture on his phone.

'This is even worse than in my mind!' Sherlock says loudly. 'I am glad you didn't keep that.'

'Don't be rude.'

'Why? Flirting doesn't work with you anyway.'

John smiles. 'Tell me something about your dream. You and I were living together, you said?'

Sherlock's smile grows wistful and sad. 'We were just flatmates but on the second day, you killed a man to save my life.'

'Epic. Your mind must have put on quite the show.'

'Oh, I didn't even get to Baskerville yet.'

'Baskerville?'

Sherlock tells him the story of Baskerville. It is very epic.

He finishes as they're nearly back at the hospital. John's absolutely amazed. And he has to admit, he likes the version of them in that story. 'Your mind came up with all of that? That's–'

'No need to rub it in, John,' Sherlock interrupts him and looks away. He sighs.

John mutters an apology and pays the cabbie as they stop. When he gets out of the cab and helps Sherlock into the wheelchair, the atmosphere is tense. Sherlock barely speaks until they're in his room.

'I don't want to call you “Doctor Watson”,' he says quietly while John takes off his blazer.

John doesn't look at Sherlock and puts the blazer aside. It'd be the work for a nurse to change Sherlock's clothes. 'Am I calling you “Mr Holmes”?' he asks.

When he glances up, Sherlock's smiling. 'You were being so nice to me that I didn't realise for a whole week that we're not actually best friends that have saved each other's lives multiple times.'

'I did save your life more than once, you know.' He sits down in the armchair by the window.

Sherlock rolls his eyes and leans back, obviously exhausted. 'You're so much like the version of you I know,' he mutters. 'Well, that is you. Makes it hard to get used to the thought that we didn't really go through all those things together.'

'I would have loved to investigate a monster in Dartmoor with you.'

'Sap.' Sherlock smile is back. 'You really aren't making this easy for me, John.'

John swallows. 'I'm sorry. It's just actually very easy to talk with you.'

Sherlock tries to toss a pen at John. 'I'm trying ask you for a break here, John,' he says. 'Some distance,' he adds when John frowns. 'I need time to myself to think.'

From the first date to a breakup in one evening. A round of applause, please. John gets up and clears his throat. 'Yes. Of course. I'll try to have the other doctor perform the routine checks on you.'

'That would be good. Call a nurse to get me changed, okay?'

'I will. Get some rest.' John smiles, even though he feels like he's losing something important.

'Can I… can I have your private mobile number?'

'I'm your Doctor.'

'You meant for today to be a date,' Sherlock says dryly.

John closes his eyes for a moment, considering jumping from the rooftop. 'Yes, yes, sorry for that,' he mumbles, but suddenly remembers Sherlock's excited “yes”. He looks at him and squints his eyes a bit. 'You were totally in for it,' he says incredulously. 'You thought we're best friends and nearly died together a couple of times and, and you were surprised by my terrible flirting but you…' John stops because Sherlock looks utterly mortified. 'Sorry,' he mutters again, stepping back.

'John, please leave me alone.'

John wonders if Sherlock still wants his number but he doesn't dare to ask so he just nods and turns to leave. None of the two says another word.

At home, John sends Mycroft a text, explaining what happened. He leaves out the fact he took Sherlock out on a date in a restaurant.

 


 

It's weird working in hospital and not seeing Sherlock for a longer period of time. Completely different to when John thought Sherlock had died because he was very alive and awake and close now and more importantly, John knew him now. A bit.

A whole week passes until he asks the other doctor how Sherlock's doing.

In the week after, he sees Lestrade walking through the corridors and stops him. 'Do you know he's found out?' John asks without preamble.

'Sorry, what?'

He quickly explains.

Lestrade sits down in one of the chairs in the hallway, John next to him. 'That's…' He doesn't quite know what to say. 'Why wasn't I the best friend?' he asks then.

'He did call you when he needed help for writing his best man speech for my wedding.'

'You got married? To whom?'

'Mary. But she died from a bullet intended for Sherlock. Only after making a baby with me, of course.'

'Ouch.'

They are quiet for a moment, staring at a poster about first aid that hangs on the opposite wall.

'You know what,' Lestrade says, 'at least he never had to be serious with you while looking at that stupid moustache.'

'Shut up.'

'I have a case for him. A nice, bloody murder, that might cheer him up,' Lestrade says then and takes out his phone. 'Wanna see the pictures?'

'God, yes.'

 


 

After a whole month, John goes to look for Sherlock but he's gone. When he asks someone, they tell him that Sherlock's been transported to his parents' house. He probably has a personal nurse there, doing the physiotherapy with him.

Of course, John could text Mycroft, but Mycroft could just as well give Sherlock John's number if Sherlock wanted to talk to him again.

After two months, he does text Mycroft and gets a short reply stating Sherlock is doing well under the circumstances.

It's been nearly four months, when he gets a text from an unknown number while doing the dishes: I'm dying. Let's go out. SH

John's eyes widen in alarm. Somehow he manages to frown in confusion at the same time. And smile a bit.

When it vibrates again, he nearly drops the phone into the sink.

Dying of boredom. Don't worry. SH

Maybe you should worry after all. SH

Said that to make you reply to my texts. SH

John can't help a small smile, leaning against his kitchen counter as he types. Sherlock?

Don't play stupid, John. SH

How about you stop putting an SH behind each of your texts now? John sends back.

Let's go out. SH

John bites his lower lip. Just to clarify, going out as friends?

No. SH

Okay, he sends back before thinking. When and where?

London Eye, now. SH

Didn't think you'd be such a romantic. He hesitates and then adds: JCW

Bring your gun. And hurry, Lestrade said we only have five minutes with the body. SH.

So that's your idea of a date? JCW

You were less complicated in my head, you know? London Eye. Now. Hurry. SH

Grinning ridiculously widely, John leaves the dishes in the sink and takes his jacket. He grabs his keys and wallet.

 


 

Sherlock is sitting in a wheelchair near the ticket counters, waiting. The wheels are small and there's a joystick on one armrest. John walks faster. It feels like he's the only Londoner here.

'Hi,' he says when he reaches Sherlock. They haven't seen each other for months but Sherlock looks just like John remembers him. His curls are wild and he's wearing a suit, his coat and a scarf over it. His gaze is piercing as if he can look right into John's soul. There's this sour look on Sherlock's face when John greets him with a grin.

'Your second name isn't Hamish?!'

'What?'

'I thought your full name is John Hamish Watson. John H. Watson, not John C. Watson.'

John chuckles. 'I'm sorry to disappoint you, William,' he says.

'We have a body waiting,' Sherlock says and tries to steer the wheelchair through the crowd.

'How's therapy going?' John asks.

Sherlock shrugs. 'Physiotherapy is going well. I can walk for short distances but it's exhausting.' He pauses. 'Mycroft made me go to a psychotherapist. She disapproves of my affinity for murder. It's tedious.'

John wonders how he can ask about the whole thing with the dream. Actually, he is dying to ask Sherlock to tell him more about their adventures. They're inspired by the reality and over the past months, John couldn't stop fantasising.

Sherlock leads him around a building and there are police cars and yellow tape. Obviously, John shouldn't be excited about this but he can't help it. When Lestrade brought him case files, he imagined going with Sherlock to the cases. Lestrade said that Sherlock came several times before the coma.

The dark skinned woman at the tape doesn't allow them to come closer but luckily Lestrade sees them and jogs over. He looks incredibly relieved to see Sherlock and surprised that John's there as well.

'Tell me everything you know so far,' Sherlock commands and Lestrade gives him a notepad. 'John, push me so I can focus on this.'

John takes the handles of the wheelchair and pushes it through a door into the huge building.

'Right here,' Lestrade says after two corridors, pointing at an open door. In a rather small room, there's a man, leaning against the wall. The eyes are open and a trail of dried blood runs from his mouth down his chin and neck. John doesn't see a big wound, nor is the shirt very soaked so it has to be either a wound on the back or just internal bleeding.

'John,' Sherlock says while pulling on gloves. 'Help me up and over so I can kneel down.'

John glances at Lestrade. 'Is it okay?'

'Wait,' Lestrade says and steps out of the room. 'Pull that on,' he gives John a white crime scene onesie and blue bags for his shoes.

'Hurry, John.'

'Aren’t you gonna…?'

Sherlock carefully slides out of his wheelchair, kneeling on the floor by the victim's feet. From a pocket he draws a small magnifying glass and examines the soles of the old trainers. He lifts the hem of the jeans to take a sniff before waving at John, giving him the sign to come over.

'Is helping you move around my only job here?' John whispers as he crouches down.

Sherlock shakes his head, gripping John's shoulder as he moves forward and carefully let's his hands wander over the dead man's chest. 'I want your medical opinion,' Sherlock whispers back and then gives John all the information he has. 'So? What would you say?'

John thinks for a few moments, before turning around and asking Lestrade about the victim's lighter.

'There wasn't one.'

'Matches?'

'Neither.'

'He smoked regularly, here's a small pack of cigarettes, that window over there is wide open and on the sill are remnants of ash. If we assume he worked here, this room was where he smoked in his break. Where's his lighter and how did he lose it?' John elaborates. From the corner of his eye he sees a proud smile on Sherlock's face.

'There's a stab wound on his back but the killer or someone else stuffed their sock into it,' Lestrade says. 'Must have been right after the attack because there's barely any blood on the floor.'

'I need to see the victim's desk,' Sherlock announces, 'John. The wheelchair.'

John nods and pulls him up, helping him back into the wheelchair.

Sherlock takes several deep breaths.

'You okay?' John checks.

'Yes, yes. The desk!'

The desk is a small one in a large room with many others. It's half eight pm now, so nobody is here right now apart from a caretaker and a manager. In the victim's wallet was an ID, now on the desks there are plaques with names. Sherlock pushes the chair away and rolls his wheelchair there instead. But instead of looking into the drawers, he just sits right in front of the computer and looks out over the room. Then, he checks the position of keyboard, mouse and screen and corrects his own.

'What's this about?' Lestrade asks quietly while him and John observe Sherlock drive through the room at different speeds. 'You being here, I mean.'

John shrugs. 'Apparently, in Sherlock's world this is a date.'

For a moment, John thinks Lestrade will hav e a heart attack.

'Just kidding, Greg.'

Another moment of silence, then Lestrade laughs. 'Fucking hell.' He pats John's shoulder. 'That was a good one.'

John forces a smile, eyes back on Sherlock. Did he call it a date to make sure John would come or does he actually consider it one? Had he had big feelings for the John he knew? Is this actually going somewhere?

For his own part, John has come to terms with his bisexuality by now. He's watched gay porn, bought magazines, allowed himself to imagine certain things, he's done research and twice he's gone to a gay bar. Once, he went as far as making out with a good-looking black man but he refused to go to the guy's apartment with him.

Today, when he's seen Sherlock there was no doubt John was attracted to him. Their banter was as easy as four months ago as well. Sherlock is a very strange man, but John finds himself being drawn to him.

Especially, when Sherlock returns and fires off one deduction after the other. Suspect number one is apparently a colleague's sister.

They all go to that woman's place after finding out her address and Sherlock doesn't need more than one look around her bathroom to prove her guilt. His cold and analytical demeanour towards her is a new side of him. It almost scares John but then Sherlock turns around to look at him, just as if he wants appreciation. John smiles a bit.

'You were amazing,' he says later as they sit in a pub. None of them has an alcoholic drink in front of them but John doesn't really miss it.

Sherlock smiles a bit at his hands on the table. 'See, that was an advantage about everything having just been a dream: you're not yet used to my intelligence. I can still impress you.'

John chuckles.

'I take it, my flirting skills aren't so bad after all.'

'You were trying to flirt with that line?' John asks, grinning in amusement.

'I managed to make you laugh a bit. Does that not mean I was successful?' Sherlock shoots back.

'Making people laugh isn't the same as flirting.'

'You go and try to date your best friend who doesn't have the memories you thought you shared with them.'

'You had four months to overthink,' John says. 'I thought you're good at that; thinking.'

'Well, clearly you shouldn't even try to think.'

'That's rude.'

Sherlock grins. 'I can also reuse all my best insults now, too.'

'Watch it, Holmes. You locked me in a military base and made me have hallucinations about a monster dog. I'm not going to forget that.'

Sherlock gives him a glance. 'You shot a man for me two days after our first encounter, so there was nothing to lose.'

'The me you envisioned was certainly a lot more heroic and selfless.'

Sherlock hums. 'Better looking, too.'

'You pay tonight.'

'Not a problem, John,' he says smoothly, grinning.

John rolls his eyes and their banter continues like that. John tells a bit about his week which must be terribly boring to Sherlock but he still listens to most parts of it, John thinks. However, Sherlock doesn't talk much about his private life. Instead he deduces the people around them to impress and entertain John.

When they leave the pub much later, the silence is a bit awkward.

'Well, I had a great evening,' John says and smiles. 'I started out as a very unusual date, but I had a great time.'

'Me too.' Sherlock smiles back. 'It's weird to look up at you. I'm rather tall actually, you know?'

John laughs. 'Are you taking a cab?' he asks then and gets a nod for an answer. 'I'm taking the tube.'

'I know.'

'I'd love to see you again,' John offers.

'Yes!' Sherlock says immediately. 'We'll text.'

'Yeah, okay.' He clears his throat. 'Well, then… see you soon, Sherlock.'

'Bye, John.'

They smile at each other, open and warm smiles. Eventually, John manages to turn away and walk toward the tube station. Despite seeing a corpse, it had been a nice evening. Just when John unlocks the door to his flat, his phone buzzes with a new message:

Now what does the C stand for? SH

John grins and closes the door behind himself, putting his keys aside.

 


 

'Why won't you tell me?' Sherlock asks instead of a greeting when they meet up the next time about a week later. He continually tried to pry it out of John as they texted nearly ever day. His guesses became more and more ridiculous. 'It's not a code for nuclear weapons, it's just your middle name, for heaven's sake.'

John grins, closing the door of the cab and leaning back in the seat. 'It's nice to know something you don't.'

'You know a lot of things I wouldn't bother to waste brain capacity on. What relevance does it have if we have a queen or a king?'

'It's nice to know something you seem to want to know but don't,' John corrects himself.

'Well, find yourself a new thing “I want to know but don't”, John Calvin Watson.' Sherlock gives John a sour look.

'It's not Calvin.'

'Worth a shot.'

John grins, Sherlock changes the topic to the case Lestrade gave him the day before.

 


 

It's their seventh date when they get there. Magic number, it seems. Or maybe it's the fact that they're all alone for the first time since the hospital.

After drinking virgin cocktails in a bar (no alcohol for Mr Ex-Drug addict), John has walked Sherlock home to his expensive flat paid for by Mycroft. The flat is in a tall, modernised building with elevators and whatever you can wish for. Now, Sherlock lives alone and without a personal nurse anymore. He can walk short distances with crutches or by supporting himself on furniture but occasionally he still uses the wheelchair when he goes out. Not tonight, which is also why he leans against John in the elevator and why John supports him as they make a beeline for the couch. Sherlock's exhausted but he refuses to say anything about it.

When Sherlock sits down, John steps over to the light switch and suddenly it's less dark in the room. The wallpaper though is of a dark, cold blue and Sherlock's pale face is a stark contrast against the shadows behind him. He's beautiful, smiling up at John like that. It's not the first time John's here: two weeks ago there's been a case and they pulled an all nighter. It had been half seven in the morning when they got to Sherlock's flat, excitement wearing off and exhaustion taking over. Especially with Sherlock. He hadn't said anything apart from a small, muttered “thanks” when John helped him into bed. John himself had been tired so after making sure Sherlock was fine, he left to go home. He'd barely even looked around the flat then but now, he glances at the furniture, the open kitchen and the tall windows. It's far from tidy in the flat. When John's gaze focuses on a microscope on the kitchen table, Sherlock's dark voice cuts the silence.

'Experiments.'

John looks at the bloody tissues before raising an eyebrow at Sherlock.

'From experiments, too,' Sherlock says with a shrug. 'Molly Hooper managed to get me a heap of fresh toes from pathology.'

'Thrilling.'

'You might want to avoid the fridge.'

'You put chopped off toes into the fridge?' John asks. Dear god, the hygiene.

'No. The toes are in the bin. I've got some dead frogs wrapped in human skin next to the milk.'

'You're really not helping create a romantic mood, you know?'

Sherlock scoffs. 'What did you expect? Candles and roses?' he mocks.

John opens his mouth to toss back another sarcastic comment, but then he decides to fuck it. He's not teenager, panicking before his first kiss. So he walks over with three steps and sits down.

Sherlock's been studying something on his phone. Just when John extends his hand to put it on his cheek and turn his head, he looks up and their eyes meet. Now, John thinks, shifting a bit, handing sinking down again. A small smile plays on Sherlock's features but he visibly tries not to smile. His eyes are glinting, wonderfully blueish and greenish. As terribly cheesy as it may be, he loses himself for a moment, not yet leaning in. They have time after all and Sherlock doesn't seem like he's about to run away.

'John?' he says, smile growing now and his voice is that quiet, dark rumble that John… fell in love with? No! Came to love? No, no. Not gonna use the L-Word. Likes? Yeah… well, more than “like” though. Adores? Hm. Sherlock's deep voice is perfect and that's what it is. Also, John's attention is drawn to his lips and those are perfect as well. What would ensue now is some waxing about the cupid bow and the shape of the lower lip as well, but Sherlock has in fact more asked than said John's name so he looks to the (perfect) eyes again.

'Yeah?' He leans a bit closer.

'You might want to see what's in the envelope on the kitchen counter,' Sherlock announces. By now the smile is in fact rather smug and pleased.

John pulls back. 'Why?' he asks with a frown.

'Get up and see for yourself, Watson.'

Suppressing a flash of doubt in the Special Moment™ and a sigh, John gets up and walks over to the open plan kitchen. He ignores all the weird things (that thing swimming in the half-filled cup of coffee looks suspiciously like an eyeball) and grabs the opened envelope. After returning to the sofa, he leans against the backrest from the backside. Sherlock looks up at him, a bit excitedly but also like there's a silly booby trap inside the envelope. John takes out a sheet of paper and unfolds it. He feels Sherlock's eyes on him as he reads the title.

'Seriously?!' he asks then and looks down.

Sherlock smirks. 'You wouldn't tell me.'

'Can't believe you didn't give up on such an unimportant matter!'

'I discovered I didn't like not knowing things about you.'

'You're a lunatic,' he said but it's gentle teasing.

'At least I'm not a Clive,' Sherlock says and scrunched up his nose.

'Hey! It's a perfectly normal name.'

'Boooh! Hypocrite!'

'It was fun in the beginning and then it became a matter of principle. I didn't think you'd get my bloody birth certificate,' John says, holding the damn thing up.

Sherlock grumbles to himself. 'John Clive Watson. Clive. Of all things. I'd just got to terms with Hamish.'

'Don't wanna kiss a Clive?' John says and puts the certificate and the envelope on a cupboard nearby.

Sherlock instantly shuts up and looks at him again, gaze sharp. 'I've been dreaming about kissing John Hamish Watson for years,' he says then, cocking his head ever so slightly. It's the mix of blatant honesty and teasing spite, that makes John's knees go a bit weak. Then, Sherlock just shrugs and puts his feet on the coffee table. 'But I suppose, if nothing better comes around, I'll have to take John Clive,' he continues airily.

At this moment, John loses all hesitancy and nervousness. It has been pretty predictable so far, yes. He feels more relaxed now though. They're going to get somewhere tonight, kissing or further and it will be fine.

Because he's not going to miss out on anything, he goes into the kitchen then instead of returning to the sofa. Frankly, John's dying to finally kiss and touch Sherlock but he also want to get back at him for stopping just that from happening earlier. With John's goddamn birth certificate and moaning about his middle name (really, Clive isn't as bad as Hamish, i s it?).

'I'm making tea, do you have any clean cups?' he calls over.

'Go find them by yourself,' Sherlock replies. 'What if I come up from behind and bang you right there on the kitchen table?'

Surprised by that suggestion and Sherlock's sudden use of the crude words, it takes John several moments to realise Sherlock had merely meant to put John off his stride. He huffs a laugh. 'Not what you imagined the glorious first time with John Hamish Watson to be like,' he tosses back before thinking. Crazy how they can joke about it like this.

'Well, it would be coping mechanism to deal with the loss of my heroic John Hamish Watson.'

'I doubt John Clive Watson will like being your substitute for someone else.'

'I'm beginning to doubt he's going to my anything.'

'Oh, but he's your date tonight,' John quips, opening the fourth cupboard.

'He may be servant for the tea.'

'Do you even have any clean dishes?'

Sherlock sighs. 'I think there are unused bowls in the freezer. I wanted to use them for an experiment. Oh, maybe we can just use one and share it?'

'As if.' He takes out the bowls and puts them under warm water from the tap for a moment while the water in the kettle starts to boil. Luckily, John's found milk, teabags and sugar. The quiet, only broken by the boiling water and then the spoons in the bowls as he stirs the sugar, is comfortable. It's good, John thinks, that they can have easy banter like this about seemingly everything and that the silence isn't awkward in the least when Sherlock is awake and watching John. It's good how they can sip tea from bowls together and talk about murder and medicine and lots of other things. Sherlock makes John laugh and seems less put off when he discovers more little differences between the coma and the reality.

'You and Jeanette broke up over … me?' he asks at one point, frowning.

John shrugs, putting their empty bowls on the coffee table. 'Oh, I think she was rather jealous.'

Now, Sherlock smirks. 'And that while I wasn't even awake.'

'Stop being so smug, you were dreaming about … what was it at that time? Running after a killer with me? Defeating a monstrous dog with me? Being saved by me?' he teases.

Sherlock sniffs. 'I was looking at naked women in the morgue.'

'Thinking about me being naked probably.'

'This conversation has become insufferable,' Sherlock says and runs his eyes all over John. He makes a thoughtful face, biting his lips a bit. 'Speaking about naked people,' he says, 'you've seen me naked before and I think that's unfair.'

John snorts at that. 'You can basically read my mind and that's what's unfair.'

Sherlock grins smugly now. 'I'm merely being attentive. And a genius, obviously. What's your world like? It must seem so simple and mysterious at the same time. When you can't–'

'Shut it now,' he cut him off. 'You got Harry's gender wrong, Mr Genius.'

Sherlock groans. 'I didn't have much material to go by, especially not considering my brain was only hearing you, not seeing anything. Besides, it was years ago!'

'You mentioned him last week!'

Sherlock sits up straight. 'Him?!'

'Well, you called my brother a “she”.'

'Harry is not short for Harriet?' Sherlock asks, looking absolutely irritated.

Admittedly, John really enjoys seeing that look on his face.

'Why didn't you say something last week then?' Sherlock snaps, pouting a bit. This should be considered childish, but John finds it cute.

'Wanted to save it for a moment like this,' he murmurs.

'Have you had your special moment then?' Slumping back into the couch, Sherlock sighs heavily.

'It was quite nice, yes.'

'Idiot.'

John smirks. 'Oh, you've just proven yourself to be one.'

Sherlock glares. 'Go away.'

John grins. Without really thinking about it, he reaches out and put his hand on Sherlock's cheek. He turns his head and shifts closer. The scowl is wiped off Sherlock's face just like that and instead his eyes widen a little as John leans in. His lips part a bit and they look even better from this up close, John thinks. He doesn't allow himself to stop and get all too self-conscious or nervous. In the next split second, Sherlock is tipping his face up and the last inch of distance is being closed.

When their lips meet, it's soft and gentle at first . John's eyes slip close as they kiss slowly. He feels a hand on the small of his back and presses closer. Sherlock's kissing is a bit clumsy at the beginning and hesitant like he's afraid to do something wrong. Gradually, the kiss deepens. Their tongues touch and slide along each other. John decides he likes t he sensation of rougher, shaven skin around the lips. Sherlock becomes more confident, sucking lightly on John's lower lip.

Now, John slides both hands to Sherlock's waist. He breaks away to shift. When he's sinking down onto his back on the couch, Sherlock easily goes on top, smiling at John before kissing him again.

'Don't go away,' he mumbles against John's lips and breaks away again. 'But don't call me stupid again. And put more sugar into my tea next time, while we're at it.'

'So hard to please,' John teases, threading his fingers through the dark curls. He feels like he wants to touch and kiss every part of Sherlock's body.

Sherlock smirks. 'We'll see how well you'll do.'

John swallows. Kissing is one thing, but he has no experience with sex with other men. H e isn't even entirely sure what he wants. He doesn't want to rush this. Even if he didn't know it at the time, he's been attracted to Sherlock for well over a year and since he woke up, John's been basically falling for him. But he's strangely afraid to destroy something, with his inexperience or nervousness. Especially considering Sherlock's more or less in love with him (he feels crazy and entitled to think that but it seems to be the truth somehow…?) and John really, really doesn't want to disappoint him.

'John, I can practically hear your thoughts, goodness,' Sherlock mutters. 'The internet emphasises it's better to wait if you're unsure.'

'The internet?' John asks, raising an eyebrow. 'Don't tell me you googled how to be a good… lover.' At what point exactly would they be “boyfriends”? There were going to get there, right?

Sherlock scoffs. 'I merely pursue to act according to your general standards and manners concerning sexual and romantic encounters of all nature,' he says.

John stares for a moment, then he narrows his eyes. 'You prepared that phrase to justify the fact you fucking googled dating advice.'

Sherlock actually blushes. 'Semantics.'

'You're a sweet person, Sherlock Holmes.'

'You're tedious, John.'

John laughs nervously. 'I… I just want to make it good for you.' He presses his lips to Sherlock's neck, maybe mostly to hide his face for a moment.

'I know,' Sherlock says. He dips his head down to peck John's lips. 'You've never had sex with a man and I've never been this much–' He stops himself and frowns. 'You're important,' he says then and John knows what Sherlock means. Best friend. Love interest. Adventure companion. And Doctor, stupidly.

But he's afraid this derails into an awkward conversation about love and other things. Sherlock's certainly been in love with his version of John and John doesn't know if he is all that different in reality. Character wise, that is. It's strange to think that Sherlock might be deeply in love with him as he is.

The pause is too long now and John makes himself smile. It's not like they have a big problem between them, is it? Things are going pretty well. 'You're a very special person,' he says quietly and the smile on Sherlock's face warms him from the inside. 'Y eah, l et's just kiss. We've only just started that.'

Sherlock nods. 'Even though you spent the better half of the evening looking at my lips and thinking about it,' he says. The cocky smirk returns and he doesn't allow John to reply.

This kiss is less tender and more demanding than the previous one. John wants to show off his best skills and Sherlock's clearly enjoying himself. One of John's hands is on the small of Sherlock's back so he slides it further down until he can cup his arse. Sherlock pushes into the touch and slips a hand under John's shirt at his waist.

For quite a while it goes on like this. They're getting to know each other on another level. John learns how much he likes it when Sherlock kisses his neck and his slightly scrubby chin brushes over John's skin. After that, he discovers how he can make Sherlock gasp if he tugs at his hair. Biting his lip appears to be appreciated as well. John's hands roam over Sherlock's back, arse and shoulders, feeling his muscles work under the fabric of his shirt. He explores his mouth and takes in his scent when he presses his lips to Sherlock's jawline and neck.

When Sherlock leans away eventually, propping his head up on his elbow, he's slightly breathless. John can feel his warm breath huffing against his cheek. It's not like there's really enough space on this sofa for two grown men to lie side by side so Sherlock's still half on top of John, one leg thrown over John's thighs as he's on his side between John and the backrest. His hand is under John's shirt again. John turns his head to look at him, seeing an open smile.

'Happy, are you now?' he murmurs, in awe with this face and the soft expression. Especially when Sherlock looks away and sheepishly fiddles with the hem of John's shirt.

'There's a reason why I'm the clever one,' he mutters, looking up again. 'Of course I'm happy, for god's sake.'

John grins. 'When did you realise you liked him?' he asks then.

'Him?'

'Me. Well, the other me.'

'That's just you,' Sherlock says. 'Except you didn't seem like you wanted to go on dates with me.'

'Did I look differently?'

Sherlock shrugs. 'Not much. You got a new haircut towards the end. I liked it.'

John smiles. 'But personality wise? Behaviour?'

Sherlock brushes his thumb over John's lips. 'Well, my mind made up some parts,' he says, 'I… obviously I don't know how you behave in situations where you're likely to die.' He sighs, then he leans forward and kisses John. 'I miss those times.'

'Not a very healthy lifestyle, was it?' John mocks gently.

'Didn't need cigarettes or cocaine when I had a good case.'

'Hm.' He tips his chin up and meets Sherlock's lips again.

'But as I gathered,' Sherlock says when they break apart several minutes later, 'you used to talk to me a lot. In reality. You said you didn't just read out case files and novels but you told me about your day and thoughts. Considering that I showed no sign of understanding, you probably didn't fake anything. And you must have interacted with other people in my presence. Friends, girlfriends, colleagues, Mycroft, Lestrade… That should have given me a relatively broad spectrum and obviously, my vast intellect makes up for the fact I had no visual context.'

There is a moment of silence. 'You haven't answered my first question,' John says then. 'when did you realise you liked …me?'

Sherlock thinks for a moment. 'I was attracted right away,' he says, 'and I really wanted to be friends with you. But I didn't dare hope for more, especially not as you went out with one woman after the other. I think I was still in denial of my jealousy the first time we celebrated Christmas together but I accepted it eventually. Then I needed to fake my own death and when I returned, I interrupted your proposal to Mary.' There's a faint smile playing on his lips. 'You asked me to be your best man once you were done being angry with me.'

'Well, waking up had its benefits, clearly,' John says and kisses him again. He can feel him smile against his lips.

He rolls on top of Sherlock now and there's another long series of kisses on lips and necks. John lets it grow slower and more tender eventually before he ends up aroused. Not tonight.

It's late when he leaves. They've talked some more, kissed some more. To be honest, when they were kissing in the hallway next to the door, John was close to asking Sherlock if he could just stay the night, but then Sherlock pulled away from the kiss and told John to bring milk, cucumbers and curry next time.

'Why?' John asked, frowning.

'I'm out of it,' Sherlock simply said.

Which started a discussion about Sherlock doing his own shopping and John not being his maid to run errands for him. Obviously, John agreed eventually and it earned him another thorough bout of snogging just when the doors to the elevator opened. They had to call it again minutes later and John grinned at Sherlock before the doors were closed. Sherlock had grinned back.

He i s walking at a fast pace now , trying not to look like a maniac, smiling at nothing in particular. It was a good evening, John thinks. He definitely enjoys kissing a man and especially this one.

 


 

T hey text more than before over the next days, even though Monday turns out to be the start into a particularly exhausting and John only has Friday evening off but Sherlock grudgingly tells him he has to see his parents over the weekend.

'A whole weekend! It's not even Christmas!' he rants during a phone call on Saturday. 'Mycroft obviously approves of me leaving the city for a few days. Idiot. I'm going to tell Mummy he's fucked up the South Korean government last week!'

John just laughed at the childish behaviour, then he announced that Sherlock was adorable.

'How did he react?' Mike asks curiously, ordering another set of beers for them. 'My money is on him hanging up.'

'I hate the fact you're not even wrong,' John mutters. 'Can we finally change the topic?'

'When are you seeing him again?' Mike is way too interested in this. Sure, he's always liked a good bit of gossiping but he's like a fanboy or a matchmaker. Well, and actually, John's glad he's got someone to tell all the annoying (cute) things about Sherlock. Besides, Mike was all cool and supportive about John suddenly being into men, too. Probably because it didn't come all that sudden for Mike.

'Wednesday noon for lunch,' John says. 'Stupid thing, lunch dates but it's already been a week and it'd be another one until next weekend. We are going to meet up Saturday though.'

'And?'

'And what?'

'Do you think, Saturday is going to be the glorious night, Doctor John Watson finally gets a cock up his arse?'

'Shush, Mike!' John needs to drink more before he can discuss that in more detail. 'I don't know, but I think he's in for it. He's got the experience with men anyway.'

'Are you nervous?'

'Of course not!'

Mike doesn't reply until their beers arrives, then he takes a big gulp. ' Good luck, buddy.'

'I don't need luck, it's going to be fun.'

'Then don't stress yourself over it. Don't think too much.'

John huffs. 'Only because you didn't get it up in your wedding night.'

'Oi, it can happen to any man.'

'Yes, I know,' he says with a roll. 'Anyway. Do you have any more interrogation questions?'

'Have you heard of Mycroft? The scary big brother, usually always there to protect his princess little sibling?'

John laughs. 'Nope, but he must know and if he minded, I'd know for sure.'

 


 

'You're planning to pay for me but let me stop you right there,' Sherlock says when John walks up to him on Wednesday. They're meeting in a small Italian restaurant, Sherlock's already sitting in a booth by the window.

' Have you ever said “hello” to anyone at all?' John asks and sits down opposite to him.

' Dull. A nd d o I really have to ask you about your day every time we see each other? '

John smirks and picks up a menu. 'I'm afraid internet research will have told you it's little things like these,' he mutters, skimming through the menu.

Sherlock groans. 'Next up, you want to walk through the streets holding hands with me.'

Without looking up, John extends his hand, palm upwards for Sherlock to hold it. He does it just to be petty which is probably why Sherlock doesn't take his hand. Then, John wonders if Sherlock considers them to be in a proper relationship.

' What's your verdict on hello and goodbye kisses?' he asks.

Sherlock's expression is conflicted. 'If we must,' he says eventually.

John narrows his eyes. 'You'd like it!' he says then.

'I–'

'Sherlock!' A middle aged man with a grey beard and an apron appears at their table. 'Sherlock, it's so nice to see you! ' He pats Sherlock's shoulder. 'Angelo,' he introduces himself to John then and they shake hands. 'Sherlock solved a case once where I was falsely accused.'

'I proved that, instead of murdering the victim, he was involved in a burglary at the different end of the city.'

'Cleared my name!'

'A bit. What can I get you? Have you and your friend chosen something yet? It's on the house. '

'I'm not his friend,' John corrects him before thinking.

It's the wrong thing to say. The sturdy Italian has a Proud Mama moment and excuses himself. Sherlock gives John a dark look when Angelo returns with five candles, putting them all down on their table.

While John orders, Sherlock looks out the window. 'My therapist doesn't know you're the same man as my doctor,' he says, smiling slyly. 'She was delighted to hear about the events of our last date.' He looks at John again. 'I've summarised it for her, but she says I should subtly define the relationship at some point. I don't know why I still have to go, but Mycroft doesn't let me have any parts of dead bodies if I don't attend the meetings. Just give me word, whatever you prefer, so I can make this ridiculous woman happy.'

John looks at him for several long moments, leaning back. 'What do you want?' he asks then. 'I mean, if you don't want to label it yet or make it look serious in any way, it's okay. You don't want an open relationship or something though, or do you? We don't need to call it a relationship at all, we can just keep going and see where it leads. '

Sherlock sighs in exasperation and takes a pen out of his inner suit pocket. He grabs a napkin and quickly writes down a few words. Then he hands it to John.

'And you call your therapist ridiculous?' John asks after reading it. He can't help but snicker. 'Or are you just doing this to piss her off?'

Sherlock smirks. 'Just tick the right box, John.'

'Let me think first.' He taps the pen against his chin, faking deliberating the question on the napkin. Dear John, it says, do you want to be my boyfriend? Please mark where applicable. Yes Maybe No.

Sherlock sighs dramatically, looking out of the window again.

John draws a heard around the box next to Yes and fills it in. 'Shall I draw a few dicks, too?' he asks.

'Brilliant idea,' Sherlock says and looks at the napkin after John hands it back. 'I'll give this to her when I see her later. '

D id she like it? John asks in the evening.

I got told off for not taking anything seriously. SH

You better do take this relationship seriously now. JCW

You'll get your exclusivity if I get my hello kiss on Saturday. SH

Can't believe I just had to type that out. I'm taking it back. SH

But he gets his hello kiss anyway. A series of them actually: when John steps into Sherlock's flat Saturday evenin g , he goes for a peck on the lips at first. Sherlock smiles down at him and they lean in again at the same time for another short kiss. The third one is longer and now, they both put their hands on each other's bodies to press closer. The kiss is a demanding one. Even though they haven't even talked yet and John's still wearing shoes and coat, he doesn't want to stop just yet.

'You're free to greet me like this every time from now on,' Sherlock says eventually.

'Jesus,' John mutters, slightly embarrassed now. 'I didn't mean to be a desperate teenager.'

He just knows that Sherlock's smirking so he doesn't look up and takes off his his coat. 'You've had dinner, yes?'

'Yes, a bit, I'm fine. The Indian takeaway y ou bought yesterday was still good, I see?'

' I did bring you some milk, by the way,' he says and picks up the plastic bag, that's standing on the floor by the door. 'And fruit.' He walks past Sherlock and into the kitchen to put the milk into the fridge (ignoring the jar of unidentifiable red stuff) and the apples into a bowl for the kitchen counter.

'Great, now let's take the conversation to the bedroom.'

' I literally just arrived,' John says. 'I'll make a tea fo r myself, okay?'

'Go ahead. No, I don't want one, before you ask.'

'Any new tasks from the therapist? I didn't ask the other day.'

'She told me to make dinner for you.'

John looks over. 'You could have told me not to eat something before coming,' he says.

Sherlock gives him an annoyed look. 'You think I'd really do that?'

John smiles amusedly and turns, leaning against the counter while the water is working. ' Has Mycroft said anything about us, by the way?'

Sherlock shakes his head. 'You wouldn't be here if he disapproved,' he says matter-of-factly.

'Thought so,' John mutters. 'Does Greg know?'

'Who?'

'Greg Lestrade.'

'His name's Greg?'

'You know it is.'

'Greg. Greg . I deleted that. Just Lestrade is perfectly fine.'

'Does he know you and I are together?'

'Haven't seen him for two weeks,' Sherlock says. 'I don't think he knew anything before.'

'Are you going to tell him?' John wonders how Lestrade would react as he pours the water into a mug and puts a teabag in.

'Why?'

'He cares. And he knows the both of us.'

Sherlock shrugs and picks up his phone from the table to type out a quick message.

'No, tell him when you see him!'

'Oh. Too late for that.' He frowns at his phone, then at John, cocking his head to one side.

John shakes his head a bit but then his lips crack into a grin. He finishes with the tea . 'You are cute, you know?'

'Ugh, don't say things like that.'

John laughs now and steps closer. 'What do you want to hear then?' he says, one hand on Sherlock's waist. 'Handsome? Hot? Is that better?'

'Might be. A bit.'

' Still cute as well, though,' he says and retreats to the sofa with his mug.

Sherlock follows, grumbling to himself. Only when John asks him about new experiments, he lights up and begins to tell John about several of them. He explains it all in fast monologues while John sips his tea and the atmosphere is calm and comfortable.

J ohn annoys him with the chitchat from work then until Sherlock perks up and asks about a particular nurse. John repeats what he's just said. After that, Sherlock listens more closely and tries to deduce as much as he can to entertain John. The mug of tea is by now cold and empty, standing on the coffee table and they're sitting close, touching in various places. There are moments of comfortable silence, then kisses, talking again and they snicker about something. In the end it subsides to kissing.

It's heavy and deep, hands are running over backs, chests and arses, pulling slightly at hair. John's lying on top of Sherlock on the sofa eventually, enjoying the easy slide of tongues.

It's when Sherlock's fingers fumble at the buttons of John's shirt that he stills, tensing a bit.

Instantly, Sherlock stops. 'I was just… it's just your shirt. We don't need to go further tonight,' Sherlock says after breaking away from the kiss. He's visibly nervous now.

'No, I…' He goes quiet, eyes wandering over Sherlock's face and John imagines Sherlock's lips around his cock. What is is face going to look like when he comes? 'I'm…' He's not nervous, he's not. 'I think I just want to be … diligent,' he murmurs. 'I want to take my time and learn how to take you apart.' He leans in and kisses him slowly, regaining his confidence. 'I'll make sure to pay attention to every single sound you make,' he whispers right into Sherlock's ear before tugging at his earlobe with his teeth.

It's enough to draw a soft moan out of Sherlock's throat.

'There we go.' John kisses his neck again, scraping his teeth over the skin, nibbling a bit until Sherlock moans quietly again. Okay, then. It's going well so far. He pulls back a bit. It's rougher skin, no boobs, a deeper voice. John's got a cock of his own, he'll manage to deal with someone else's, right? Pressing his lips on Sherlock's again, John hesitantly pushes his thigh down and between Sherlock's legs. Just for a little experiment. He forces himself to relax and shift a bit so he can roll his hips down slowly. The buckle of Sherlock's belt is annoying but there's definitely something else (surprise, surprise). Their bodies move while they're kissing and John grinds his hips down tentatively.

Sherlock gasps. 'John, John,' he mumbles. ' Are you sure? Make up your mind. If you want to wait then stop this now .' John can feel his cock hardening through the fabric of the jeans and pants. H e likes it. He wants to hear more of t hose moans . He wants to see more of Sherlock's body, feel more, taste more.

'No, I want to hear you groan again,' John says without thinking. 'I want to know if you're loud during sex.'

'John…' Sherlock pushes his hips up, one of his hands on John's arse.

'Yeah, I want this,' John says. He sits up, straddling Sherlock, and slowly takes off his shirt. 'You too, yeah?'

'Yes,' Sherlock mutters, running his hands over John's chest. 'God, yes, I've dreamt about this too many times.'

'What you mean is wanked about it.'

'Can't deny that,' he says and sit up. He slides a hand to the back of John's neck and kisses him deeply. 'Bedroom, come on. I don't fancy falling off the couch mid-sex.'

John snorts and gets up, pulling Sherlock in for a brief, but hungry kiss as soon as he's standing, too. When Sherlock breaks away he's slightly breathless. He doesn't let go of John's arm and tugs him away from the sofa. In the middle of the way to the bedroom, there's another deep kiss, where John pushes Sherlock against a wall.

The door falls shut behind them and John grins at Sherlock. He takes off his socks quickly, then Sherlock backs him up against the door. 'I believe you wanted to take it slow,' Sherlock says in his deep baritone. God, it's hot. 'Take me apart, get to know my body.'

' You guide me into this,' John says and opens the buttons of Sherlock's shirt. 'You tell me what to do when I'm not doing it right.'

'No worries, John,' Sherlock says and kisses him as soon as John pushes the shirt off him.

'You've got condoms and lube here, I hope.'

'Bottom drawer of the bedstand,' he mutters, sliding his hands to John's belt. 'Mind if I…?'

John kisses him. 'Not at all.'

Sherlock deftly unbuckles the belt, opens the fly and pushes the trousers down. He drops to his knees, pulling the pants down, too. John's about to say something but Sherlock's already reaching for the bedstand that's close by the door so he just steps out of the trousers and pants and kicks them aside. Quickly, Sherlock rips open the condom package, then he looks up at John with a grin before rolling it on him. John's breath is going faster and arousal and lust are sending a shiver of anticipation down his spine.

Sherlock just teases at first, languorously licking up John's erection and sucking at the head until John groans and tells him to get the fuck on with it. Chuckling, Sherlock places both hands on John's hips, pressing his arse against the door, then he leans in and starts to take more of him in, bobbing his head back and forth slowly and sucking hard. John swears again. Sherlock's good, albeit out of practice. He must have trained to suppress his gagging reflex though, god, and the training pays off. It's incredibly hot so see his lips wrapped around him, especially when Sherlock looks up with this hungry, intense gaze of his. Embarrassingly soon, he almost brings John to the edge. When he pulls away and gets up though, John makes a sound of frustration.

Sherlock smirks and raises one eyebrow. 'Not so quick, John,' he mutters. 'You want to draw it out? Trust me, so do I. And don't dare fall asleep after your first orgasm.' While he talks, he's slowly pulling off his socks and trousers. The bulge in his briefs is obvious.

Catching his breath, John sits on the bed, lounging in the middle of it as he watches Sherlock. 'S o, are we going to–'

'Whatever you want, John,' Sherlock cuts him off. 'I can bottom, I like either way.' He's put a condom on himself, too, and crawls over John. 'We don't need to do anything involving penetration but god, I want you inside me,' he murmurs and leans down to kiss at John's neck.

Moaning softly, he puts his hands on Sherlock's arse to pull his hips down and feel his erection slide along his own. 'Sounds very good,' he says.

'Have you ever had anal sex with a woman?'

John shakes his head. 'But I know a fair bit in theory.'

'Don't be too proud to ask – ah – questions.' His sentence is interrupted by a gasp when John slides his fingers between Sherlock's cheeks until his fingertips find the rim and press gently at it. 'Wait, lube.'

John softly massages the sensitive skin. 'Mhm, I know,' he mutters, eventually pulling his fingers away. Without warning, he pushes them around so he's on top now and because he wants to hear another gasp like that, he rolls his hips down a few times. At the same time, Sherlock pulls his head down for a kiss and John takes his lip between his teeth, tugging a bit. He is rewarded with a groan and breaks away, fetching the plastic bottle with the lubricant.

'Do you want me under you? On top?' Sherlock asks when John slicks up his fingers and rubs them against each other to warm the lube.

'Sit on my lap for now,' he orders, sitting with his legs bent and spread a bit.

Sherlock eagerly climbs on John's lap, dipping his head down to kiss him thoroughly with both hands cradling John's cheeks.

Not stopping the kiss, John slips his fingers between his legs again, the other hand lying on the small of Sherlock's back. Sherlock moans into John's mouth when John carefully presses the tip of his digit into him. Slowly, he pushes his finger further until it's as far in as possible.

'Move it…yeah, like that… no, more like–yes, yes, that's good. Oh, oh, John…'

Slowly, he's getting the gist of it, paying close attention to what Sherlock says and the sounds he makes. John doesn't need very long to find Sherlock's prostate, having d one prostate examinations regularly a few years back. Now, of course, his only goal is Sherlock's pleasure. After a while of gentle pumping and pressing, John pulls his finger out to slide two back in.

S herlock drops his head on John's shoulder. 'I haven't done that in a long time, goodness,' he mutters before turning his head and kissing John's neck.

'Is it good when I do it like this?' He scissors his fingers, stilling instantly when Sherlock clenches around them.

'Let me relax. Let me… do it again. Yes!'

He speaks up a few more times and John tries more things. He has three fingers in by the end and Sherlock is clinging onto him. 'John,' he groans and kisses him hard, grinding his hips down. 'John, I want more.' He grabs John's wrist and pulls his fingers out.

' Yes, fuck, please,' John mutters, grabbing the lube bottle and spreading the lube on his neglected erection. He sighs softly and Sherlock kisses him.

Once he's done, he doesn't exactly know what to do next. Are they gonna do it like this? Another position?

'Lean back a bit or lie down,' Sherlock instructs. He has his knees on either of John's hips and lifts a bit, curling his long fingers around John's cock to position himself above it. Leaning on his arms, John watches, making a quiet sound when the tip of his erection slides against Sherlock's rim.

'Fuck,' he mutters when Sherlock lowers himself and John slides all the way in until Sherlock's seated.

Sherlock's breathing hard, grinning down at John. He is ridiculously hot and beautiful in the dim light. From one side, the lights from the city come through the window, behind Sherlock, at the wall opposite to the one with the door and the top end of the bed is a dimmed lamp that produces a warm golden light. Sherlock's lips are parted and his forehead is glistening with sweat, some hair being plastered to his skin. John's taken his time with the stretching. His gaze dips to Sherlock's erection and he reaches out. His strokes are light and slow, but Sherlock's hips instantly snap forward into John's fist. They gasp at the same time when John's cock moves inside Sherlock. To tease and revenge the edging from earlier, John lets go of Sherlock's cock. Instead, he puts his hand on Sherlock's hip, guiding him into tilting his pelvis and move. Moaning, Sherlock takes over and starts rolling his hips in tantalisingly slow rhythm.

They make eye contact again, John grins back, lips parting with a groan. He sits up straighter and presses his lips against Sherlock's sweat-dampened neck. Sherlock moves his hips up and down now, still rolling and tilting them back and forth in time. John's hand slides into his hair and fists in the dark curls when Sherlock clenches around him.

'Bloody hell,' he mumbles.

Sherlock laughs breathlessly. 'Enjoying your- ah -self there, John?' he asks, groaning. 'John, fuck .'

'Was that a swearword coming ou-ouh-t of your mouth?' John mocks which is undermined by the groans and gasps that are escaping his throat.

'You must be a bad influence,' Sherlock rushes out between pants. He tips his head down for a messy, wet kiss, moving his hips faster.

'Not what your therapist thinks.'

'Uh, leave her out of this, for god's sake.' He clenches hard again.

'Ah, Sherlock, fuck!'

'Turns out, you're the loud one,' Sherlock bites out, smirking.

John pushes at him without warning, holding onto him with one hand though. He doesn't even slide out as he flips them over and goes on top, pressing Sherlock into the mattress. When he starts thrusting, hesitant and careful at first, he feels how Sherlock wraps his legs around him, heels pressed against John's arse.

'You can go harder than that, don't worry,' he breathes, gripping John's arms. 'More… more… fuck, yes.'

Confident now, John thrusts faster, establishing a rhythm. Sherlock moans with every roll of John's hips.

'Not so quiet yourself,' John pants.

'I'm close, John.' He starts stroking himself now, in time with John's thrusts.

'Oh, yes, I want to see and hear and feel you come, ' he mutters, sliding in slowly before going back to a faster rhythm.

'John…'

He grabs Sherlock's thigh, hitching it higher on his hip to change the angle.

Sherlock makes a garbled sound, something like the mix of a groan and a gasp. He practically chokes out John's name several times, then John can feel him clench again. His face is beautiful, mouth open in a breathy groan, eyes shut tightly. As he comes, his fingers of one hand sig into John's arm.

He keeps on thrusting, gentler though, slower, but god, John's close, too.

'Just … just go for it,' Sherlock finally manages out and smiles a bit, trying to catch his breath.

It doesn't take long. John is louder than Sherlock indeed, and when the waves of pleasure ebb away, he pulls out and rolls off Sherlock. He turns his head after a minute or to look at him, grinning exhaustedly.

Sherlock rolls on his side and pokes him. 'No falling asleep,' he says. 'I want another round.'

'Can't get enough of me?' He pulls off his condom and Sherlock takes it from his hand. John doesn't even know if he's going to throw it away or keep it for experiments which should be weird but this was Sherlock.

'I waited for this for a long time, John.' Groaning, he sits up. John watches him get up and walk to the en-suite bathroom to toss their used condoms.

'It was great,' John says when he returns. 'I loved it.'

Sherlock makes himself comfortable on the bed again. 'I love you, too,' he murmurs.

'No, I said…' John stops himself. 'I mean. I…'

Sherlock pushes himself up, to look down at John. 'What?' His gaze is sharp, he's frowning and his eyes are examining John's face. 'What did you say? Did you not–'

'It. I… I meant the sex,' John forces himself to say. He feels guilty and stupid. 'But I…' Is he in love? Already?

Sherlock slowly sinks down again, not looking at John. 'Ah, yes,' he says, tone emotionless. 'Yes, it makes sense to say that. It was very good.'

'Sherlock… '

'It's fine, John. It's only been, what? Nine dates? And a few days at the hospital. It'd be a bit weird if watching me sleep for a year would have made you fall in love with me.'

John shifts closer, putting a leg over Sherlock's waist and turning his head with a hand on his cheek. 'Well, I'm definitely falling now, I think,' he says quietly.

'That's good,' Sherlock says. 'I suppose, I'm five years ahead of you. Well, I thought it was five years.' He swallows, watching John with uncertainty in his expression. 'I duly apologise for ruining the mood.'

John frowns. 'No, I' m sorry. My fault. And the mood isn't that badly ruined, is it?'

There's a small smile on Sherlock's face. 'You really think you're falling… in love with me?' he asks sheepishly. 'You didn't just say that, did you? Be honest.'

'You are an amazing person,' he says and kisses him softly. 'Being with you is so… I'm at ease, I'm happy, I'm stunned by your deductions and I sort of miss seeing you in the hospital every day. But it's good you don't need to be there anymore. It's really good, obviously. I heard stories about you, I was attracted to you, I had a stupid idea of you in my head, so once you woke up and we actually got along so well, I was definitely already having a big crush there.' He smiles.

'You wanting to date me was what helped me through the whole thing with finding out everything had been a dream. It was one of the few good changes,' Sherlock says and tips his chin up.

John indulges him and presses his lips against Sherlock's. The kiss lasts and he presses closer. For quite a while the lie there and make out slowly in the most sappy way imaginable.

They talk again then, over lighter things, bickering and telling each other anecdotes. Sherlock's relaxed again and he smiles at John.

' Speaking of late night movie marathons in my hospital room, you are staying the night, right?' he asks at a random point. 'Sorry, I just assumed you would, so I'm checking. Do you want to?'

'I'd love to,' he says, grinning and running his hand over Sherlock's back.

Sherlock hums, pressing against John. 'We can have a shower together. I'll give you a blowjob. And you can insist on making me breakfast but I won't eat anything and just drink the tea you make me. I won't even get dressed apart from pyjamas. Maybe a dressing gown. I have wonderful dressing gowns, John.' He shifts so he's lying on top of John, chin on his hands on John's chest. 'Maybe you'll stay for lunch, just to make sure I eat something of course. I'll lend you fresh pants and you'll smell like my deodorant. '

'Sap,' John accuses softly, smiling. 'Where's the cheesy morning sex in your visions?'

Sherlock presses his face against John's chest.

'It'd be slow and lazy, at least at first,' he murmurs, playing with Sherlock's mussed hair. 'Maybe I'd be slowly pounding into you. But it'd start with slow, sleepy kisses. Maybe we're just slowly rutting our erections against each other.'

Sherlock looks up now, then he moves and does exactly what John's describing. Ever so slowly, he's pushing his groin against John's, watching him.

John puts a hand on his nape and pulls him in for a lazy, open-mouthed kiss.

'Maybe I'll introduce you to the joy of having a cock up your arse,' Sherlock whispers when he breaks away. 'Pressing over your prostrate with every single thrust.' He highlights the last three words with a grind of his hips each.

It could be embarrassing how fast John's body gets very interested in the proceedings. 'Rimming,' he said out loud and frowned. No, that wasn't what he'd been going for. 'You could rim me if you want.' He blinks, thoughts slowed. 'After the morning shower, I mean.' He shifts a bit. How exactly do people even clean their arse? John realises he's secretly hoped he'd only top for the first time. He hasn't researched that whole disgusting topic very well. Needless to say, now that he thinks about it, his half hard cock becomes soft again. And Sherlock's stopped his hip movement, rolling off John. 'Sorry,' he mutters and tries to force those thoughts out of his brain.

Sherlock's lips curl up in an amused smile. 'Worrying about cleaning?' he asks, not in a mocking way, though. 'I can explain you how to do it. Is that awkward? There are good guides online.'

John shrugs, thinking about it. 'Skimmed through the beginning one the other day,' he says and folds his arms behind his head. ' I'll take care of it at home until next time,' he decides.

'You're free to use the stuff in my bathroom when you're here ,' he says and shifts, lying on his side and suppressing a yawn. 'Don't be embarrassed about it, John.'

' Well, it's not something I'd like to read about in a romance novel for example.'

Sherlock snorts. 'You don't like reading romance novels anyway,' he says. 'Aren't you a doctor? Have a medical view.'

'I do! But it stopped whatever you were starting there,' he says, making a sound of frustration.

'You know, I'll admit I was mildly terrified before I did it for the first time.'

'How old were you?' John asks.

'Twenty. There was this madly attractive man in one of my classes at university who kept thinking about how to ask me out. It was so obvious. Amusing, too.'

John smiles. 'Did you actually sleep with him?'

Sherlock nods. 'Three times. I'd had non-penetrative sex for about a year before that, though. How old were you the first time?'

'Seventeen.' He's glad the conversation is as easy as always. 'First wank?'

'Fifteen,' Sherlock replies. 'You?'

T hey talk about their firsts for a while, including the first direct contact with a dead body of course. And, as important, the first ingestion of peanut butter.

It's past midnight when the second pair of condoms is being used. John actually makes an attempt at giving Sherlock a blowjob. There's one moment, where Sherlock can't help but let his hips snap forward. John has to fight the gagging instinct hard, even if he hasn't even taken much of Sherlock into his mouth. After that, he firmly pushes Sherlock's hips down, one hand around the base of his erection. Sherlock says it's good for a first try.

In return, John gets a handjob while Sherlock's kissing him deeply, part of the time on the lips, some times on the neck.

It's his turn to toss the condoms, Sherlock declares and John indulges. When he returns, Sherlock's lying under the blankets and as soon as John is in reach, he gets pulled closer.

Sherlock smiles sleepily. 'I had a great night,' he murmurs.

'Me too,' John says, shifting to get comfortable. 'I'm going to fall asleep any second.'

Sherlock chuckles tiredly. 'Promise you'll be in bed when I wake up,' he mumbles.

'What if I have to go to the bathroom?'

'Hurry and pray for your luck.'

'What happens if you wake up alone?' he challenges.

'I'll put salt in your tea when you don't notice.'

' I see you've learned from the criminal classes,' he teases.

Sherlock pokes him. 'I thought you were going to fall asleep,' he complains. 'Must you always have the last word?'

'Goodnight, Sherlock.'

'Sleep well, John.' Sherlock sounds ridiculously happy. Understandably so, J o hn thinks, rolling on his stomach and putting an arm over Sherlock's waist. A hand slides from his back to his arse.

He does fall asleep soon, feeling warm and safe.

When he wakes up, he finds himself spooning Sherlock. John feels well-rested and good, stretching languorously. Sherlock stirs and turns. He blinks and smiles at John, expression sleepy, hair wild. His voice is husky when he talks and John's heart does something silly and sappy. They shag the sleepiness away eventually b ut a fter , John almost falls asleep again. He showers on his own and prepares breakfast while Sherlock takes his shower. His hair smells very nice after. Like he predicted the night before, John tries to make him eat something but against Sherlock's assumptions, John succeeds.

It becomes the norm soon; for John to make the coffee and breakfast. And to stay over, too. More often than Sherlock sleeps at John's but honestly, Sherlock's flat is just a lot nicer than the John's scruffy little a partment . The view alone is breathtaking and when John wakes up before Sherlock, he often stays in bed for a while and looks out the huge window in the bedroom. Sherlock assures him that you can't see through from the other side unless the it's darker outside than inside. Once, they have sex against the glass wall. Gay sex is great over all , John reckons, being top or bottom. They get to know each other's bodies anew, finding out what they like, how they react to different things and so on. There is a lot of touching aside from sex. Casual brushes of fingers over shoulders, arms, thighs and backs. Often, when they talk they lean against each other or run their hands through the other's hair. When it gets colder outside, they take long baths sometimes or sit directly in front of the fireplace. John love s it when Sherlock tells him about new experiments or cases and whenever Lestrade comes begging for help, John comes with Sherlock. Initially, Lestrade was shook to find out about their relationship but he approves, John thinks. Anderson gets a job somewhere else luckily and Mike keeps on ranting about his students. He rather likes his job though, John knows that. He takes up on the idea of him running a blog about Sherlock's cases and it's a new topic for a lot of banter.

'I like blue!' John insists.

'But it was green. Green , John, make it green! And don't get me started on that bloody C in your name.'

John snickers. 'How's my writing style?'

'Like I imagined it,' Sherlock says and smiles, picking up his violin. 'How are you going to introduce me in your first blog post? Any way you can leave out my drug habits?'

'I was thinking of starting with the Serial Suicides and the cabbie. Mike Stamford introducing us to each other, the first case.'

'That's horrendously sentimental,' Sherlock says and starts tuning his instrument. 'You're going to get it mixed up anyway.'

John writes it anyway.

It's the only case from Sherlock's dream that John writes down, the rest belong just to them, more or less. It's still inspired by reality. There are little random reminders sometimes, like when Sherlock wakes John up in the middle of the night at the end of N ovember .

'John, John! The woman is on TV!'

John grumbles, turning in Sherlock's back. The TV is still on and there is a woman's voice, music and moans. He opens his eyes. 'What woman?'

'The woman woman!'

Suppressing a yawn, John sits up and squints at the TV. There's an advertisement for phone sex or porn websites running. A woman with a whip and no clothes is shown and a supposedly seductive voice talks about control, pain and sex on tables. Photos to attain by SMS are being promoted next, including some with cheap crowns and fake royal looks.

'I thought you're gay,' he mutters and lies down again, turning on his front. 'Turn it off, I want to sleep.'

Sherlock obliges for once. He shuffles around a bit before getting comfortable next to John, snuggling up against him.

'She was so much more interesting in my dream,' he murmurs after a while. John's already half asleep. 'Except for the fact she kept flirting with me. That was annoying.'

'Can you tell me tomorrow?' John asks sleepily. 'Not now.'

'Yeah. I am gay, by the way, just to get that straight.'

John snorts.

'What?'

He turns and presses his face against Sherlock's chest, grinning. 'What a choice of words.'

'Go back to sleep, John.' Sherlock says softly, running his hand up and down John's spine slowly.

'Mhm. Don't stop that,' he mumbles. 'But do stop talking.'

There are about ten seconds of silence.

'I love you, John,' Sherlock says quietly, like he often does at random moments now. Sometimes he taps it out in Morse code, on the tabletop, on John's skin or on his phone when it's on standby.

'I love you, too, Sherlock,' John says.

Sherlock grins into the dark, still stroking over John's back slowly. He tips his head down to press a kiss to John's forehead. Even if John likes gestures like these, technically, they're horrendously sappy. Sherlock used to frown at those couples who walk across Christmas fairs holding hands. Who get each other personal gifts for Christmas and make sure to kiss at New Years. Those people who tell each other they're in love more than once and who cuddle at any given opportunity. Those who have silly nicknames for each other and suck up to their partner's parents at Easter. Who watch the sunset on a beach when they're on holidays in the summer and who open the door together when children go around trick or treating on Halloween. People who, when they move in together, put pictures of themselves together on the mantelpiece and share a sock drawer. Those couples that walk through Ikea holding hands and discuss if the sofa would match the curtains. And the worst: people who have a voicemail where they both finish each other's sentences. No, actually, wedding's are the worst. Really, spending a lot of money on just one night and having to tell each other how much they feel in front of a big crowd? Besides, many people get divorced nowadays. Yes, weddings are stupid, Sherlock was so sure.

He's been living with John for well over a year now. They moved into 219C Bakerstreet in their second autumn as a couple. John's planning to propose. He tries to keep it a secret but Sherlock knows of course. What's strange though is that he doesn't find the idea so bad. John promising him a “forever” in an official document, John being happy and dancing with Sherlock. And at any case, he's going to see John in a well-fitted suit (which he's going to take off at night, extra bonus!). Mrs Turner, their landlady is already trying all sorts of cake since John's told her in secret. Mike Stamford's in on it, too, John's best man probably. It's going to be Lestrade who Sherlock is going to ask to be his best man. Not that he'd ever admit to it, but he's already imagining the big day. What about the colour of the breast pocket handkerchiefs? Lilac? Or rather a deep purple like that shirt of his that John particularly likes? Or blue to bring out John's beautiful eyes? Yes, Sherlock's become one of these people who pine over their significant other's eyes. It is not all that terrible. Besides, this time the reality is going to be inspired by the dreams.