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A Death in the Family

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The call that changed everything came at 5:32 PM on a Thursday. Sherlock and John had just wrapped up a particularly exhausting case. The suspect in question had led them on a chase around the city that had worn John down to a panting jog. Even Sherlock, who very rarely succumbed to any signs of physical work on the body, was clearly tired as he lay sprawled across the couch, holding his phone close to his face. John was working on his blog post for the case when he received a phone call from Harriet.

He'd answered expecting the same mundane update about his sister's life that he received on a regular basis. She'd always seemed to want to keep him informed, even if it was simply so that she would have someone to rant to about her problems. Instead, John was met with blinding grief and a pounding headache. He stood from his chair and hurried into the bathroom, desperate to find a place where Sherlock wouldn't pick apart his every move.

He felt sick, literally empty, and yet his stomach threatened to empty its contents. He knelt over the toilet, struggling to breathe and fighting the tears that had sprung into his eyes. His legs threatened to buckle underneath him and he fell to a kneeling position. Guilt flooded into him in a wave. It had been months, nearly a year even, since he'd spoken to his father and now he would never have the chance again.

They had been so alike, exactly the same person, many said. John always was the spitting image of his father. With age they had only grown to look more alike. They had clashed constantly, as two similar people often do, but over time they had finally reached a sense of respect for one another. It wasn't closeness by any means, and it wasn't warmth, but it was respect nonetheless.

A heart attack had taken him. According to Harry it was instant, so sudden that his poor mother hadn't even reacted until after he was already gone. Roger Watson had been as healthy as a horse. Every doctor he'd ever seen had told him so. He was active, always wandering about in his small garden and taking frequent walks. John rarely visited his parents, but when he had his father had always forced him to join in on adventures across the property. As healthy as a horse, yet a damned heart attack had gotten him without any warning whatsoever.

John raised his hand to his forehead and wished that he could dull the pounding in his head with a simple touch. The funeral was to be held on Saturday. John would leave straight away, tomorrow morning even. His mother would be broken. She would be shattered into a million tiny pieces. She would need him.

His mind raced back to the man in the living room. Sherlock. He would have to tell Sherlock. He would tell Sherlock, pack his things, and go. Sherlock. Pack. Go. Sherlock. Pack. Go.

He had reached a numb state. He couldn't feel anything. His mind played the same words over and over again. Tell Sherlock. Time to tell Sherlock.

He stumbled out of the bathroom, clutching to the wall of the hallway for support as his leg again threatened to send him crashing to the ground. In his head or not, his leg was acting up and he needed the support.

When he'd finally worked his way into the living room he found Sherlock standing, eyes wide, staring at him with a blank expression. "Something's happened," he mused, his forehead crinkling slightly as he looked John over.

Sherlock took a step towards John and gave him a quick sweeping look. "You've been crying…" he said, his eyes filled with what John, if he didn't know better, would have pegged as raw compassion. Sherlock stared at John's red-rimmed eyes as if the idea that the doctor could shed a tear was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever imagined.

John took a deep breath and broke Sherlock's gaze. Sherlock continued speaking, his words flowing out quickly, like his violin would on so many dark nights. Now, instead of the sounds of strings, a deep, melody of information filled John's ears.

"You've been crying. You don't cry. You never cry. You're favoring your leg, greatly favoring it, in fact. The tremor," He stopped speaking abruptly and reached to John's side to pull his hand into better visibility. John ignored the warmth and softness of Sherlock's hand. His tremor had returned, but in Sherlock's hand, it nearly disappeared. He ignored all of that. It was a physical response. A touch could be soothing. It was simply a fact.

Sherlock caught his eye for a moment and seemed to recognize that internally John was having some small struggle. He ran his thumb once more over John's hand before letting it fall gently back to his side. "Your tremor is flaring up." He glanced down at John's legs. "You've knelt, or fallen; knelt, most likely, due to your leg, in the bathroom. Must've been in front of the toilet. An emotional response. You show no signs of any sickness. No external symptoms. You haven't mentioned internal discomfort or acted in any way unusual. You answered the phone without thought, rolling your eyes. You expected it to be routine. Routine. Had to be Harriet then. Crying… You've been crying. Someone's died. Someone close. Likely a parent based on…"

"Alright, Sherlock. Enough." John couldn't listen to his calculated words any longer. John knew that Sherlock understood exactly what had happened. He'd likely known from the very beginning. John wasn't in the mood to be impressed by Sherlock's skills of deduction.

"My father," he said with a sigh. "My dad died. He, uh… a heart attack." Saying the words aloud made everything feel final and John willed himself not to crack in front of Sherlock both for his own good and the good of his friend. Sherlock surely wouldn't know how to handle this sort of emotion.

Sherlock's expression softened noticeably. "I am sorry, John." Sherlock said softly, stepping away from John and reaching for his phone on the table.

"Yeah, er," John ran a hand over his upper lip and watched as Sherlock began texting on his phone. "I'm going to have to leave tomorrow, Sherlock."

"For the funeral. Obviously," Sherlock said cooly.

John gave a curt nod of his head.

"Of course. We should begin packing then." Suddenly Sherlock was up and walking past John towards his bedroom.

John whirled around to call after him. "We?" he asked. Sherlock stopped and turned back to face John.

"Of course I'll be going with you," Sherlock deadpanned, as if no other idea had ever crossed his mind. "I've just texted Mycroft about getting us a ride. The car will be here tomorrow morning."

John's mouth fell open in shock before he could help it. "Listen, you don't need to do that. Sherlock, I would never expect you to…" John sighed, searching for words. Sherlock had thrown him out of the expected conversation. This was unknown territory. "I know this isn't your kind of thing. And I won't be cross with you at all if you stay here."

Sherlock cocked his head slightly to the side. "If you don't want me to go, you need only say so."

"Sherlock. No. That's not…" John fumbled over his words, trying to find a way to properly explain himself. "It's just there will be emotions and social niceties and it's just not your thing, is all. And you never even met my father. I don't expect anything of you."

"I've met you, John. We're friends, correct?"

"We're friends," John agreed.

"Good friends?"

"Yes, Sherlock,"

"Then I'm going with you. We live together and work together. I should know your family should an occasion ever arise that we're in need of their assistance. And I will be there for you should you need emotional support."

John, against all odds, despite how utterly terrible his evening was going, couldn't hold back a small smirk. But Sherlock's expression remained grave. He wasn't joking at all. No, of course he wasn't joking.

"My emotional support then," John said with a small nod. "Fine. Okay." He caught eye contact with Sherlock for a silent moment before they headed to their separate rooms to pack.