The news comes over a phone call. John chokes on his breath when he hears it.
"When?" If he gets an answer, he doesn't remember. If he asks anything else, he doesn't remember. He runs straight to Tesco, and past police tape. The police try and offer him an orange blanket. He takes it, thinking he'll give it to Sherlock. Sherlock will need it, in case he's in shock.
Sherlock is dead and still bleeding in the milk aisle, and the bastard is barely holding the skim, not the two-percent, fingers loosely curled around the plastic handle. God damn it, John reminded him so many times. Two-blooming-percent.
John wipes up the spilt milk and blood mixture with the blanket, his tears mingling. Sherlock, dead beside him, murmurs something about heterogenous mixtures. John remembers he hated chemistry in high school and almost pulls his gun to shoot the prat in the mouth before he continues rattling again. But he's dead again. Again? Again. Yes. Again again again, always dying. But this was real. The pink milk tells him so, swirled with Sherlock's blood. The blanket isn't doing shit for the mess, and John heaves a sob and drops to Sherlock's cold body, arms wrapping around him. He twists them around onto the messy floor, weeping like a poor widow, and they're more underwater in the milk and blood than anything now. Sherlock's eyes open of their own accord, and John stops crying a moment as the large hands cup his cheeks. Sherlock's lips are growing blue, purple, dark violet. His hair is falling out steadily. Blood is streaming from a cut on his cheek, and he's wearing a priest's garb, and no, now he's in his bloody sheet, which is correct in both senses.
"Sherlock." The thought of him talking underwater is not occurrent to him. "I love you." It's easy.
Sherlock twists his lips into a grimace, but then a coy smile. "Don't blog this."
John is crying again, body shaking with sobs and flushed in embarrassment as the dead consulting detective just watches, watches, watches. He's fading away as he lights a cigarette, taking a puff, and the smoke is thick as Sherlock quietly murmurs, "Stop it. Open your eyes." And John does have his eyes closed, doesn't he?
John swims to the bottom of the milk blood pool and finds the drain plugged up by an old, decaying wedding ring. Mary's.
John screams, and he doesn't know why.
Fingers tug away the ring, and milk, blood, water, tears all drain, drain, drain. He's gasping like a fish out of the ocean now, and he's dying, he's dying, just like Sherlock.
At the bottom of the pool where little Carl died, John, wet and bloodied and stuck to the floor, finds the ring hooked on his pinkie finger and chokes back another scream.
"Open your eyes. John, John, come on," he hears, and John, conflicting and crying and scared, cold, cold, cold, in a forest in Antarctica, opens his eyes.
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‘ ‘ ‘
John is on the couch in 221B. John is panicking. John is breathing too hard. Sherlock is leaning over him, hand grasped in his. "Open your — John. You're awake." Sherlock looks a bit wrecked. A violin rests in his other hand, tightened in a hard grasp. "You were having a nightmare. Afghanistan?"
John schools his expression, sitting up shakily and considers answering yes.
"You were saying my name. And other...things. I didn't know what I was to do."
John wipes a hand through his hair. "What else?" he croaked.
Sherlock pauses, unsure of even mentioning this. "Mary. And...uh, skim milk. Not sure what to deduce from the last one."
John stares at his feet.
"Are you all right, John?" Sherlock asks after a long pause. "Would you like me to play?"
John looks up and hesitates, then reaches forward to bring Sherlock into a hug. Surprisingly, Sherlock reciprocates after tensing for ten seconds.
"It's...all right," he comforts awkwardly, patting John's back.
Disoriented and worried, John pulls back, face inches away from Sherlock's, and sees the other man flush pink. "You died. In the dream. And I — fuck it, I held you. I cried, and I told you that I —"
"You...?" Sherlock urges.
"I love you."
Sherlock's lips part in confusion. "Surely, ah, that is, by terms of love in friendship, then yes, me...too. To you. Yes?" is his nervous reply.
"No?" Sherlock whispers. "You don't mean..."
John kisses him tentatively. This kiss is very unpredictable for even the world's only consulting detective. Questions, John thinks, can come much later.
Sherlock grapples at John's back, stilling a moment before sinking into John's arms, weight heavy and warm.
John breaks the kiss, amused to see Sherlock's lips following before stopping, and pushes at the other man's shoulders. "What kind of milk did you get at the store yesterday?" he asks.
Sherlock pauses to think. "The one that started with the 's'. Skin? Skim? Scum? Why? Can we kiss again? Is the talking necessary? I've actually wanted to do the kissing bit for quite a – "
He's babbling. Anxiety? Surprise? John goes for it.
"Goddamn you," John laughs, grabbing the detective's flustered face to bring him down again.