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The Day After

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“John? What day is it?” Sherlock looked up from his book, removing his glasses and slipping them into his pocket as his gaze fixes upon John.

“The fifteenth of February, Sherlock,” John replied, not bothering to look up from his own text. “And very warm for the season, but you really ought to go put on at least a thick jumper.”

“Are you sure?”

“Course I’m sure.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Sherlock scowled.

“Anything about what?” John sighed and gave up on reading, looking to his husband.

“Well, society generally celebrates.”

“Celebrates what, exactly?” John asked, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“Valentine's Day, John, do keep up. We didn’t celebrate.” Sherlock grumbled, crossing his arms.

“Why would we celebrate?”

“Well, we are together. Generally speaking, one commonly would exchange tokens with their romantic partners. Afterwards, based on the data I’ve collected, there is either a fight or sex, sometimes both.”

“Well, we’re hardly going to fight. Sex might be a bit ambitious as well, though it would be nice,” John pondered, before shaking his head and refocusing on his husband. “Sherlock, what is it you think people exchange?”

“Well, Valentine’s day is rather heavily marketed in order to encourage consumers to hastily purchase heavily overpriced sweets, flowers and jewelry. I would assume that a gift along those lines would be most acceptable, despite the ridiculous sentiment that such things embody. ”

“I have flowers,” John replied, gesturing to the rose bush behind them. The first buds are just poking out, small and red, courtesy of the abnormally warm weather. “I have sweets.” He gestures to the beehives in the distance, to the cup of warm tea and honey sitting just to the side of his chair. “And I have all the jewelry I could possible want.” Arthritis swollen knuckles reach into the collar of his wool jumper, pulling out a chain upon which hangs a single silver ring.

“So...you are not upset that we didn’t celebrate, because you have nothing to gain from this holiday?” Sherlock replied, fingers going to fiddle with his matching ring. His hands are wrinkled in the daylight, dotted with age spots, but his fingers are still long and graceful.

“Sherlock, Valentine’s day isn’t about what you get. Valentine’s Day is the one day out of the year where people are supposed to show their love for their significant other. Of course, you don’t need a specific day to show your love for somebody else, but sometimes it’s easier to do when everyone else around you is too.” John smiled. “So, really. Don’t worry about it. It’s not that I have nothing to gain, it’s that I’ve already gotten so much. No celebration or “societally influenced” gift exchange could come close to just being here with you.”

John gave a short chuckle at the disgusted look on Sherlock’s face, confronted as he was with so much awkward sentiment. “Sherlock. Come back here to me please.”

“John?” Sherlock blinked, shaking his head slightly.

“Sherlock.”

“Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“That!” Sherlock gestured wildly, book nearly slipping off his lap. “That thing where you say something and you mean it, even though it makes no sense, even though it’s sentimental and complete trollop. John, you always mean it!”

“What do you mean?” John asked, eyes raised to the sky in defeat, aware that the conversation wouldn’t be ending anytime soon.

“You. And your ridiculous ability to be sentimental. About me. It doesn't make sense.”

"Why doesn't it make sense?" John replied, staring at Sherlock with a strange grin on his face. His eyes were soft as Sherlock scoffed in response.

"You should have left ages ago."

"But I didn't."

Sherlock rolled his eyes."Because you are an adrenaline addict."

"No. That's not why I stayed."

"What?"

"Well, I am an adrenaline addict, I'll admit it now. But that's not why I stayed."

"Well, then you stayed for the cases. Because you wanted to prove your worth to society after the dismissal from the army."

"I'd like to think my ego isn't so big that I'd have to prove myself to the entirety of London to be happy, Sherlock. And I could have chosen a better way to prove my worth."

"Then why, John? Why would you bother to stay with me?"

John snorted. "You haven't deleted our wedding vows have you?"

"No."

"Good. Then do me a favor and repeat them."

"I, John Hamish Watson...."

"No, skip ahead just a bit," John said, fingers tapping gently on the arms of his chair.

"To the part that starts at ‘Even though you’?" Sherlock questioned.

"Yeah, right there."

"Even though you can be a complete arse sometimes, ruin my favourite jumpers with acid, leave ears in the sink and toes in the kettle, I will never leave you,” Sherlock recited, hands moving in the air as if he were turning pages of a book. “Because I know that in this entire world, there is only one person for me, and his name is William Sherlock Scott Holmes. He wears a long coat, hates funny hats, and is unbearably stubborn. But I love him more than my own life, which is something I’ve demonstrated on several occasions.”

“Oh.” Sherlock blinked twice, and he cocked his head, hands stilling. “I..”

“You’re nearly there pet, keep going. Only taken me forty-two years to really drive the point home.”

“You love me.”

“Mm...Yeah.”

“But...”

“Sherlock, any number of things can be explained away based on the fact that I love you. Is that healthy? No. Is that even remotely sane? No. The amount of codependence we have on each other isn’t normal, and really isn’t that great from a psychologist’s standpoint. But it works for us. I’m nearly eighty years old Sherlock, my shoulder is shot to hell, and I’m all but confined to a wheelchair. I’m still finding bits and pieces from that exploding corpse back in 2020 in my pockets. But in all the moments, all the criminals and injuries and frankly disturbing experiments, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because each of the moments have led me here, to stay with you. And I know I’m an idiot, but I’m certain I’d never be stupid enough to give you up.” John took a deep breath as he finished his speech, extending his hand to rest palm up on the arm of his chair.

Sherlock looked at it for a moment, then placed his own hand into the cup of John’s. Sherlock slowly closed his hand around John’s, just holding tight.

“John?”

“Yes, Sherlock?”

“I...I’m glad you stayed.”

“I’m glad I stayed, too.”

“I love you, John.”

John hummed. “I love you too Sherlock.” He reopened his book, cleared his throat, and wiggled his fingers happily in Sherlock’s grasp. Sherlock gave a bemused smile, and turned back to his pages, smoothing them down.