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AN: Just a quick note on this. It’s not finished, nor have I perfectly edited it. Just a rough draft of an idea I had to chronicle Howard and Vince’s friendship through the Boosh series, as well as after the show ended. Enjoy!

The First Day Of School

Dear Journal,
Today’s the first day of eleventh year. As usual, I’m not looking forward to it. The other students don’t understand me, and frankly, I don’t understand them. You’d think that after sixteen years, I’d have at least one friend. I’m an outsider, a loner. I suppose I don’t need friends when I have books, jazz and documentaries. Maybe this year will be different.
-Howard TJ Moon

Posters of famous authors and grammatical rules adorned the walls of the classroom. The faint smell of chalk and cleaning products lingered in the stuffy air. Howard was the first to get to class, as always, and he took a seat in the back after offering a shy smile to the teacher. He noticed that if he sat in the back, he was less likely to be volunteered to answer questions and that’s how he liked it.
After the first bell rang, students began to filter into the room, taking their preferred seats. The preferred seats were as far away from Howard as possible. It had always been this way. They didn’t like Howard, and Howard wasn’t particularly fond of any of them. There was always a circle of desks around him that never had occupants.

The late bell rang, and the last of his classmates ran in and took their seats. Just as Howard predicted, no one sat next to him. Sighing with relief, he opened his notebook and began tuning out the teacher’s start-of-the-year lecture, keeping an ear open for attendance.

“Howard Moon,” the teacher said after a few minutes, looking around the room for an answer.

Howard glanced up, “present,” he mumbled, turning his attention back to his doodling.

Just as Howard began a sketch of a trumpet, the door to the classroom opened. Normally he wouldn’t give a visitor to class any of his interest, but with all the whispering and scattered snickers, he couldn’t resist having a look at the intruder.
In the door, a thin, pale boy with a weird nose and disheveled blonde and black hair stood, his eyes darting around the room; he was wearing tight trousers, a hot pink fitted t-shirt and heeled boots. Howard could have sworn he heard one of the popular boys, a jock rugby player, whisper “poofter.” The derogatory slang made Howard unintentionally shoot a glare at the jock.

“Is this room twenty-eight?” the boy asked, smiling.

“It is, can I help you?” the teacher raised an eyebrow, putting her glasses down on the desk.

“I’m new, I just registered and they told me to come here,” the boy walked over to her desk and handed her a paper, “I’m Vince.”

“Have a seat where ever you want,” she shooed him, continuing her role call as if she’d never been disturbed.

Howard watched the Vince boy look for an empty seat. The only ones left were the ones next to him. Still smiling, Vince sat down to Howard’s right. He smelled like women’s perfume and Howard couldn’t stop himself from staring. He wasn’t like most of the boys in school, not only in appearance but also how he carried himself. It wasn’t that the boy was feminine, there just seemed to be a nice energy surrounding him. It was intriguing. 

“Hey,” Vince whispered, looking at Howard.

“Hello,” he said, unintentionally curt.

“I’m Vince,” he continued, smiling.

“I heard,” Howard said, avoiding Vince’s gaze by concentrating on his drawing.

“What’s your name?” Vince watched Howard doodle, “Are you drawing a trumpet?”

“Mr. Noir, Mr. Moon is there something you’d like to say to the class?” the teacher stood up, glaring at them.

“No, Mrs. Graham,” Howard mumbled, feeling his cheeks flush from the sudden spotlight on him.

“I do,” Vince chimed in, “going over the syllabus is well boring. Why can’t we have a free period? We’re all English, what’s the bloody point of teaching it?”

“Why don’t you take up your dissatisfaction with the dean?” she narrowed her eyes.

“I think I will,” Vince got up, shooting a glance to Howard before walking toward the door.

“I,” Howard cleared his throat, “I agree with Vince.”

It felt like everyone was staring at him. Everyone was definitely staring at him. Howard never spoke in class. His cheeks were burning. Vince had stopped and was grinning broadly at Howard.

Mrs. Graham folded her arms, “is that so?” Her voice was dangerous.

Howard nodded, “yes.”

“Well, you can join your mate in the dean’s office then,” she pointed to the door.

As they left, one of the popular girls whispered, “buggers,” which made her circle of friends laugh. 

* * *

“I take it you’re not the chatty type,” Vince mused, following Howard to the dean’s office, “everyone looked shocked when you spoke up.”

“I don’t have a reason to talk here. Everyone’s a bastard,” Howard rolled his eyes.

“I’m not a bastard,” Vince looked hurt.

“You might be the only one,” Howard chuckled, “I’ll be honest, you’re the only person I’ve talked to in school, other than a teacher. Most people don’t bother with me.”

“I’ve gotten the mysterious Mr. Moon to speak. Genius!” Vince laughed, “Want to cut class for the day?”

“What?” Howard stopped, staring at Vince, “Cut class?”

“Yeah, it’ll be brilliant. We can go see a film and eat sweets or go to the zoo,” Vince was beaming, “can we go to the zoo, Moon?”

“Howard.”

“What?” Vince tipped his head to the side, his large blue eyes confused.

“My name. It’s Howard.”

“Howard Moon,” Vince’s smile returned, “that sounds like a proper porn star name.”

Howard snorted, “and your name makes you sound like a fruity wizard.”

“Who says I’m not one?” Vince winked, punching Howard playfully in the arm.

“You’re a strange little man,” Howard shook his head, finally smiling.

“I like you, Howard,” Vince said, shy for the first time since Howard met him, “you’re different from everyone else.”

“What? No, I’m not gay,” Howard said quickly, putting his hands up defensively.

“Gay? I’m not gay,” Vince laughed loudly, opening the door to go outside, “you coming?”

After a moment of debate, whether to join Vince or not, Howard followed the strange little man out of the school. His conscience was telling him not to go, but for the first time in his life, Howard trusted someone. For the first time he had a friend.

* * *

One Month Later

Alright, Diary?
I ain’t written in a while. Living in England is brilliant- way better than the jungle’s of India with Bryan Ferry. School is well boring, but Howard’s in all my classes so I guess it could be worse. Today Howard said we could go to the zoo. I like being near the animals, but I don’t know if I should tell Howard that I can talk to them. Howard loves them too. He told me he wants to work at the zoo. That would be genius! Howard and me working at the Zooniverse- maybe one day!
Vince x

It was sunny and unseasonably mild. The zoo was bustling with families; Howard and Vince sat at the bench across from the gorilla enclosure, watching Bollo, the oldest ape in captivity, take a nap.

“Hey, Howard?” Vince turned, “Can I tell you something?”

“Sure, Vince. What’s up?” Howard looked at Vince.

“I can talk to animals.”

Howard laughed, “what?”

“I can talk to animals,” Vince said again, “I learned how to when I lived in the jungles of India.”

“I guess you should get a job at the zoo then,” Howard smiled, “you’d be good at it.”

“You think so?” Vince’s face lit up. He’d never met anyone who thought his ability wasn’t weird. At the moment he realized Howard was special, “I want to quit school and work at the zoo.”

“Me too,” Howard sighed.

“Let’s do it,” Vince suggested, trying to contain his excitement.

Howard raised an eyebrow, “really?”

Vince got up, “yeah! I wonder if they’d hire us.”

“You’re really serious, aren’t you?” Howard stood up.

“Course I am. School is well boring. The zoo would be a right laugh,” Vince beamed, “and we could work together so-“

Vince was cut off by yelling from the office behind them, “you can’t quit! Tommy’s gonna be friggin pissed at me!” came a voice with an American accent, “The hut isn’t that bad for two people! Come on, please don’t go! Shit!”

“Piss off, Fossil. We’re sick of this place,” said one of the men, with a heavy Scottish accent. As he walked out of the office, he threw his uniform jacket on the ground before storming off, closely followed by another man.

“Jerry! Please!” the American ran out of the office, “Tony! Come back!” he cried, “Shit!”

Vince didn’t skip a beat before walking over to the distraught man, “I hope you don’t mind, but I overheard that those wankers quit the zoo.”

“I’m in shit city,” the somewhat overweight man frowned.

“My mate Howard and I were just talking about how brilliant it’d be to work at a zoo,” Vince waved Howard over.

“You wanna work here?” his eyes widened.

“If there are positions open, we’d love to,” Howard said, walking over, “provided there’s on site housing.”

“You’re hired,” the man said, “I’m Bob Fossil.”

“I’m Vince,” he grinned.

“Howard Moon,” he offered his hand, but Fossil ignored him.

“Vince, that’s a nice name. I have a good feeling about you,” Fossil waggled his eyebrows.

“Oi, you have an erection, mate,” Vince took a step toward Howard.

Fossil looked down, “Uh, I get off on firing people?”

“They said they quit,” Howard argued.

“Shut up, Moon,” Fossil turned and headed back to the office, “be here at ten tomorrow. Move your shit into the hut tonight,” he added before slamming the door.

“What an idiot,” Howard muttered, looking at Vince, “I guess this is our calling, huh?”

“Guess so,” Vince chuckled.

* * *

Six Months Later

Dear Journal,
Dropping out of school to work at the zoo was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I just turned seventeen and now I’m head zookeeper. Bob Fossil is an absolute idiot, but working with Vince makes it all worth it. He’s my best mate, and since working here we’ve become inseparable. We have our own hut. It’s small, but I don’t mind sharing it with Vince. Never a dull moment. Just last night we got pissed on cheap beer and had a water fight. Hilarious. I think I’m finally happy. I belong somewhere and I owe it all to Vince.
- Howard TJ Moon

“You’re up early,” Vince groaned, rubbing his eyes. He sat up in his sleeping bag, “what you doing?”

“I was writing,” Howard shut his journal and tucked it away in the desk drawer.

“Since when do you write?” Vince unzipped the sleeping bag and stood up, walking over to the stove to put the kettle on.

“I always write,” Howard sat back on the couch, crossing his legs, “could you make me a cuppa?”

“Sure,” Vince peeked around the corner, “how do you like it?”

“Straight, no sugar or milk,” Howard couldn’t help smiling at how hungover Vince looked, “how are you feeling this morning?”

“Let’s not drink Pabst anymore,” he chuckled, “my head hurts.”

“No one made you drink ten of them.”

“I drank ten? No wonder I’m in such a right state today,” Vince mused, walking back into the kitchen nook, “Did you hear that they hired a shaman to run a kiosk?” he called.

“A shaman? Interesting,” Howard stretched before getting up to join Vince in the kitchen, “have you met him yet?”

“I saw him. He looked like he was about twelve,” Vince laughed as he pulled their mugs out of the cabinet, “Gideon said his name was Naboo.”

“Gideon?” Howard felt his cheeks flush, “Did she say anything about me?”

“I don’t think she even knows your name, Howard,” Vince smirked to himself, pouring the kettle.

Howard frowned, “I talk to her almost every day. How can she not know my name?”

“Maybe you’re not memorable,” Vince shrugged, handing a cup to Howard.

“I guess not,” Howard sighed, leaning against the wall, “plain, old, boring Howard, doomed to be alone forever.”

“You have me,” Vince blew on his tea before taking a small sip.

“But you’ll get a girlfriend one day and then I’ll be alone,” Howard put his cup down on the counter, “I’m going for a walk,” he mumbled, leaving the hut.

* * *

It was raining outside, and Howard immediately regretted his decision to have a walk. The only people in the zoo were employees. A voice caught Howard’s attention.

“Moon! Where the hell have you been?” Bob Fossil yelled.

“There’s no one in the zoo, Mr. Fossil. I was having a cuppa,” he replied, turning to face his boss.

“I’m Howard Moon, I don’t have to work if there’s no kiddies in the zoo. I drink tea because I’m English,” Fossil mocked him in the worst English accent Howard had ever heard.

Howard was used to Fossil’s outbursts, “sorry, Mr. Fossil, it won’t happen again.”

“You’re damn right it won’t! Now go feed the black and white Chinese people,” Fossil folded his arms.

“The what?” Howard frowned.

“The black and white guys who eat the sticks!” Fossil pointed toward the panda enclosure.

“The pandas,” Howard corrected him, trying not to laugh.

Fossil pulled out his voice recorder, “say that again,” he pressed record.

“Pandas,” Howard repeated.

“That’s the one,” Fossil put the recorder in his pocket, “what are you still standing here for? Are you constipated?”

“No, Mr. Fossil, I’m going,” Howard rolled his eyes, walking toward the panda exhibit. He looked at the ground as he walked, as to avoid contact with any of his coworkers. It wasn’t like any of them actually talked to him, but nevertheless, he wanted to avoid them.

When he got to the panda enclosure, Howard noticed they’d already been fed, so he took a seat on one of the indoor benches to gather his thoughts. It wasn’t entirely unlike him to get into his “everyone leaves, I’ll end up alone” moods, but for some reason, the thought of Vince being with someone made him jealous. Vince was his best mate, and he wasn’t very hospitable to the idea of sharing him.

Jealousy wasn’t a totally foreign feeling for Howard. He always envied those who were handsome, socially accepted and talented; he didn’t openly admit it because he tried to force himself to believe that he was a desirable young man, but deep down he knew that he was eventually going to end up alone. Vince would leave him for a beautiful woman, he would never have Gideon and his only friend would be jazz. Jazz and a number of cats.

“Are you alright?” the heavenly voice of Gideon tore him from his internal angst.

“Ms. Gideon, hi, I, um,” Howard stumbled over his words, feeling his cheeks start to burn, “I was just thinking. Nothing to concern yourself with.”

“Oh, okay,” she turned and started to walk away.

“I was thinking about you,” Howard blurted out, immediately hating himself for it.

Gideon stopped and slowly looked, giving Howard a quizzical expression, “do I know you?”

“I’m Howard. Howard Moon, head zookeeper?” Howard smiled hopefully, “We work together.”

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” she cocked her head to the side.

“I talk to you almost every day,” Howard said incredulously.

“I don’t remember ever talking to you, I’m sorry,” she looked apologetic, but also extremely uncomfortable.

Howard sighed, “don’t apologize, it’s fine.”

“Alright,” she turned and walked back out into the rain, leaving Howard alone again.

Vince was right, Howard thought, I’m not memorable. Even coworkers can’t remember my name. I’m hopeless.

The rain was getting heavier, and Howard’s desire to go back out in it to walk back to the hut was disappearing. He wondered how long he would be able to sit here until someone came to find him. Would Vince come looking? Maybe no one would even notice that he was gone. Surely, Vince wouldn’t miss him, or would he? Vince had plenty of friends and never had trouble being popular because of his magnetic personality, so he would most likely be fine without Howard. Howard wouldn’t be missed.

Howard was lost in his thoughts and the sound of rain falling. He didn’t hear his name being called and didn’t even notice Vince walk into the exhibit. It wasn’t until Vince sat down next to him that he snapped back to the present.

“Howard?” Vince was soaking wet and shivering, “Are you alright? I was looking everywhere for you.”

Howard looked at Vince, “Why?”

“You’re upset,” Vince shrugged, “I hate being alone when I’m upset, so I thought I’d keep you company cos you’re my best mate.”

“I am?” Howard felt a lump rising in his throat. He considered Vince his closest friend, but this was the first time Vince referred to him as his best mate. It made him want to cry.

“Course you are, you berk,” Vince hit him playfully, “I wouldn’t drop out of school to come work at a zoo with just anyone. You’re brilliant, I’m glad we cut class that day.”

Howard felt tears in his eyes, and hoped Vince would just think he was still wet from being out in the rain, “me too,” he said quietly, straining himself to sound nonchalant even though he knew he probably sounded like he was going to cry.

Vince sat next to Howard for a long time. Neither said anything, but the companionable silence spoke more than any words could. They understood each other. After a while, Howard noticed Vince’s teeth were chattering.

“It’s pouring outside, why didn’t you wear a jacket?” Howard shrugged out of his jumper and draped it over Vince’s shoulders, “Let’s go back to the hut. You’re going to get sick.”

Vince hugged the jumper around him, a smile crossing his lips, “thanks Howard.”
“Come on, let’s get you some warm clothes and a cup of cocoa,” Howard got up and ushered Vince back to the hut. He knew he sounded like a mother, but he’d always been mature for his age. Ever since he met Vince, he’d had someone to take care of because Vince was so childlike; Vince had a tendency to eat sweets for meals and not wear jackets because they didn’t match his outfit, but Howard was always there to make sure Vince was okay. He liked it. He liked Vince.

* * *

Several Years Later

Alright Diary?
I’m not okay. Today was a bad day. I thought writing my feelings was a good idea. I’m rubbish at writing but I needed to say this somewhere. Today Howard died. They found him in Bollo’s cage. No one knows what happened. I don’t know what to do. Without Howard I feel so alone and I can’t stop thinking about him. I can’t believe he’s gone. What’s worse is that I think I loved Howard as more than a mate and now he’ll never know. This is the shittiest day of my life.
Vince x

Sun beamed through the broken blinds, casting a cheerful glow into the hut. Birds were singing, and the sound of zoo visitors’ laughter echoed outside. It was truly a rotten day.

Just hours ago Vince had received the worst news of his life. Howard’s dead. He was found in the ape enclosure without a pulse and there wasn’t anything anyone could do. There were no words to describe how Vince felt the moment Bob Fossil told him.

Vince laid on the floor of the hut, staring blankly at the ceiling. The plethora of emotions he was feeling ranged from depressed to angry, and everything in between. The only thing he didn’t feel was happiness and he was almost certain that he’d never be happy again. How could he be happy without Howard?

Just thinking of Howard’s name brought tears to Vince’s eyes. A lump was rising in his throat, and he was unable to control himself any longer; he rolled on his side, reaching for Howard’s pillow, burying his face in it, letting the sobs come. He was well aware of how loud he was crying, but nothing mattered anymore. He just didn’t care.

The pillow smelled like Howard. Musky soap, tobacco and something faintly minty. Vince inhaled deeply, feeling guilty that he was getting his tears and snot all over Howard’s favorite pillow. It wasn’t like Howard would care anymore, but something in the back of Vince’s mind refused to believe that Howard was truly dead. Even though he was nothing but a corpse now. Very much dead. Dead, dead, dead. Howard was dead.

Vince didn’t know how much longer he could go on. Who would take care of him? Who would be his best mate? Who would be his Howard? 

Two Days Later

Alright Diary?
Howard isn’t dead!! He was in monkey hell. I had to go and save him after his ghost came and told me what happened. Naboo helped too. He got me to the mirror world where I had to deal with the wanker made of rags. Naboo’s a diamond for helping. I’m so happy that Howard is back for good but now I don’t know if I can tell him how I feel about him. He must know. I did go to hell and back for him after all.
Vince x

“Vince?” Howard’s voice broke the silence of the dark hut.

“Yeah, Howard?”

“I never properly thanked you for saving me,” Howard shifted in his sleeping bag, “I owe you my life.”

“You would have done the same for me,” Vince said, smiling to himself, “besides, it was well boring here without you.”

“You and Bollo seemed to be having fun smashing my jazz records.”

“Bollo was having fun. I was mourning your death and accidentally took my anger out on your jazz. Sorry, Howard,” Vince rolled on his side, reaching over to touch Howard’s arm, “I’ll make it up to you.”

“This isn’t like you, Vince. What’s up? You’re never this affectionate,” Howard swatted Vince’s hand away, “don’t touch me.”

“Do you know what I did when they told me you were dead?” Vince asked, ignoring Howard’s usual ‘don’t touch me’ get up.

“Went through my belongings?” Howard asked; his sleeping bag rustled so Vince assumed he shrugged, “Maybe tossed that jumper you hate in the bin?”

“I completely broke down,” Vince admitted, “I’ve never cried so much,” Just thinking about the news of Howard’s death made Vince feel physically sick. He never wanted to go through that again, “Howard, please don’t die again,” he added in a whisper, trying to swallow the lump in his throat.

Howard sat up, “you cried?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Vince hugged his pillow, trying to blink away fresh tears. How could Howard think no one would cry?

“I never thought anyone would miss me,” Howard scooted closer to Vince and touched his shoulder, “you’re shaking little man, are you alright?”

“You think no one would miss you? What about me, Howard?” Vince sniffled, trying to contain the sobs threatening to escape.

“I’m not memorable. You said it yourself when we first started working at the zoo,” Howard said, sighing, “Gideon can’t even remember my name.”

“It’s always about Gideon, isn’t it?” Vince slapped Howard’s hand away and sat up, “Gideon’s a proper git! If she can’t remember your name or anything about you, why are you so hung up on her?” It wasn’t that Vince hated Gideon, in fact, he thought she was great. But, when it came to her forgetting Howard, it irritated him. No one appreciated Howard like Vince did and no one ever would.

“Don’t talk about Gideon like that, Vince. She’s beautiful and intelligent,” Howard said stubbornly, “she may forget my name and face, but that doesn’t make me like her any less.”

“I don’t forget your name. I’ll never forget your face or anything about you,” Vince folded his arms, “you can do better than Gideon.”

“Gideon is perfect for me. She’s exactly my type. One day she’ll realize it.”

“You’ve gone mad,” Vince mumbled. Howard’s stubbornness was one of his biggest pet peeves. Sometimes Howard was so disillusioned by a pretty girl that he couldn’t see what was right in front of him. It took every ounce of self control for Vince to keep his feelings for Howard a secret. If they came out now, it would be a disaster.

“Why are you so haughty?” Howard asked, “You’re acting like a child.”

That was it. Vince got up and started laughing; his laugh was cold and humorless,

“I’m acting like a child?” he snorted, “You’re lusting after a woman who has worked with you for like three years and she can’t even remember your bloody name!” he made a disgusted sound and stomped off to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. If Howard was going to be stubborn, Vince was going to give him a run for his money.

* * *

A Couple Weeks Later

Dear Journal,
Vince has been acting up since he saved me from monkey hell. Usually he’s so cheerful and bubbly, but lately he seems to be upset with me. I don’t know what I did. We’ve been having arguments, especially when I mention Gideon. It’s almost as if he’s jealous of her. I don’t know why he’d be jealous, I prefer him to her. I guess what I’m saying is that I have these feelings for Vince that I can’t express. It would ruin our friendship. If Vince knew I was falling in love with him, he’d laugh at me. I wish I knew what to do to make Vince happy again. It would kill me if he left because of a petty feud. I don’t want to be alone again.
-Howard TJ Moon

* * *

Alright Diary?
Since the last time I wrote Howard’s been acting like a berk. It’s always something about bloody Gideon and I’m sick of it. She’ll never love him like I do. I don’t know what to do. We keep fighting and it’s getting worse. I can’t tell Howard how I feel because he’d think I was lying. Why doesn’t he think he’s brilliant? He actually thought I wouldn’t miss him if he died. What’s he on about? I told him how rotten it was without him. I even bloody told him I cried when I found out he died. Maybe Naboo can give me some advice. He’s turning into one of my good mates. He said he wanted to leave the zoo to get a flat in Camden. How genius would that be? Camden is proper trendy. Maybe Howard would be happier if we left the zoo. Camden would be good for him. I bet I could give him a makeover so he wouldn’t look like Tom Selleck in tweed. Although, I’m rather fond of his moustache- don’t tell him!
Vince x

“Have you told Howard how you feel?” Naboo asked, poking at the hot coal on top of his hookah before taking a long puff from the hose.

“I can’t,” Vince frowned to himself, feeling a little light headed from the hardly legal haze that filled the back room of the kiosk.

“Why not?” Naboo blew a few smoke rings, watching them float up toward the ceiling.

“I told him I loved him before, when we were in the tundra, and he told me I only said it because he said it,” Vince closed his eyes, remembering the arctic adventure. When they were held prisoner for the Black Frost to deal with, Howard said he loved him. It caught him off guard and made him so happy that he accidentally laughed. It was all downhill from there. Howard refused to believe Vince when he said he loved Howard too. Vince wished he could redo everything.

“Sometimes talking isn’t enough,” Naboo took another hit from the hookah, coughing a few times before continuing, “show Howard how you feel.”

“How?” Vince looked at Naboo, watching him swat at one of the fresh smoke rings billowing over his head.

“I don’t know,” Naboo shrugged, putting the hose on the table in order to pull a joint out of his turban, “make him a jazz porno or learn the bassoon.”

“How high are you, Naboo?” Vince chuckled. Naboo’s answer was a cheeky smile and giggling, “Never mind,” Vince rolled his eyes, as Naboo lit up his newly acquired joint, “so I should make him a jazz porno or learn the bassoon, yeah?”

“And make him a salami and jam sandwich, on cinnamon raisin bread,” Naboo sat back, relaxing, “or you could make me one.”

“How did you get on about me making you a sandwich?” Vince asked, starting to get frustrated, “You’re supposed to be helping me figure out how to tell Howard how I feel about him.”

“I really want a sandwich,” Naboo smiled to himself, taking a small hit off the joint, “a sandwich would be brilliant.”

“Earth to Naboo,” Vince snapped his fingers a few times in Naboo’s face, “we’re not talking about sandwiches.”

“You keep mentioning them,” Naboo laughed, handing the joint to Vince, “try this, it’ll help you think.”

“Howard told me that drugs’ll rot your mind,” Vince smirked at Naboo, but took the joint.

“It’s not like it’s crack or ketamine,” Naboo rolled his eyes, “one hit won’t kill you. It’s not even a drug. It’s a plant. A mighty good one at that.”

“Don’t tell Howard,” Vince said, taking a long drag. It burned all the way down and he couldn’t stop himself from coughing. The light-headed feeling he initially had from the secondhand smoke was beginning to intensify. Everything around him felt fluffy, mellow and wonderful. He risked another hit, but still coughed until he could barely hold onto the joint. Luckily Naboo grabbed it back before it fell on the ground.

“I told you it was good,” Naboo mused, tapping the ash on the floor, “give it a few minutes and you’ll want a sandwich…and some curry…and apple juice,” Naboo puffed on the spliff a few times, “and pizza with grapes on it.”

“What the hell?” Vince sputtered, still coughing, but laughing at the same time, “Pizza with grapes?”

“It’s a Xooberon thing,” Naboo handed what was left of the joint back to Vince, “finish it. You’ll understand in a few minutes.”

Vince’s throat was burning, but he smoked the last of it before extinguishing it in the ashtray, “promise you won’t tell Howard about this, Naboo.”

“I probably won’t even remember this happened,” Naboo admitted sheepishly.

“Just promise,” Vince said again.

“Yeah, yeah, I won’t tell him,” Naboo closed his eyes, propping his short legs up on the coffee table, “I’ll let you try to pretend being sober when I kick you out in five minutes.”

“You’re kicking me out?” Vince stared at the tiny shaman, “Why?”

“Shaman business,” Naboo said cryptically, “now stop talking so I can listen to this song.”

“What song?” Vince asked, confused.

“The one playing in my head,” Naboo said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Vince shook his head, smiling as he relaxed into the sofa. He’d been in Naboo’s kiosk when it was filled with smoke plenty of times, but this time was different. Everything seemed to be in slow motion and he felt like he was floating. It was a strange feeling, but not entirely unwelcome. He’d never been high before, but Naboo was right- his thoughts were clear and an idea was forming in his head, “hey, Naboo?”

Naboo sighed, clearly getting irritated by the constant questions, “what?”

“Are you really going to leave the zoo to live in Camden?”

“Yeah, why?” he turned and looked at Vince. His eye were half-shut and he looked like the personification of the stereotype for a pot head. Bloodshot eyes and all.

“If you’re looking for flatmates, Howard and I could come,” Vince suggested, “we don’t have much money, but if we start our band, we’ll have paying gigs to give you rent money.”

“Howard’s a buzz kill, but I wouldn’t mind having a flat share with you. Bollo’s coming too. He wants to be my familiar,” Naboo stood up to stretch.

“I won’t go without Howard,” Vince said firmly, “he’s brilliant once you get to know him.”

“I’ll take your word for that,” Naboo slipped on his trainers, “he can come as long as he doesn’t piss and moan about my habits.”

“He won’t,” Vince got up, beaming.

“Keep this hushed, but the zoo won’t be open much longer. It’s bankrupt, I’m giving it two weeks,” Naboo pushed aside his beaded curtain and pulled out his magic carpet, “I overheard Fossil talking to Bainbridge.”

“Can I tell Howard?” Vince shrugged into his Zooniverse jacket.

“As long as he keeps his mouth shut about it.”

“Genius! I can’t wait to move to Camden. You won’t regret having us as flatmates, I promise,” Vince hugged Naboo, “you’re a diamond, Naboo!”

“Get off me, you wanker,” Naboo pushed him, but had a smile on his face, “I have business to attend to, so good luck acting sober. You don’t look it at all.”

“Really?” Vince peeked in the wall mirror and snorted, “Howard’s naive, he probably won’t notice.”

“He will if he smells it,” Naboo chuckled to himself, opening the drawer to his side table, pulling out a sandwich bag of perfectly rolled joints. He took five out of the bag and hid them under his turban, “just douse yourself in cologne and you’ll be fine.”

“Cheers, Naboo,” Vince grinned at him, “keep me posted about the flat, yeah?”

Naboo nodded, waving Vince off as he turned his attention back to sorting himself out.

Vince was glad to get out of the smokey kiosk. The fresh air felt like heaven in his lungs. He couldn’t help but chuckle to himself thinking about the cloud of smoke that must have escaped when he opened to the door to leave.

As he walked back to the hut, Vince hummed to himself. It was warm and sunny, which was perfect considering his mood at the moment. He was so annoyed with Howard earlier, but talking it out with Naboo had helped immensely. It may have been the smoke, but Vince was in a wonderfully cheerful mood now. The only thought on his mind now was how badly he wanted a salami and jam sandwich on cinnamon raisin bread. He laughed out loud, Naboo was totally right.

* * *

The Last Day At The Zooniverse

Dear Journal,
This is the last time I’ll be writing an entry from my tiny hut at the Zooniverse. The zoo’s gone bankrupt and is closing. Vince and I are all packed and it’s kind of bitter sweet to leave the place we’ve called home for the past few years. We both have so many memories here, good and bad. I know I’ll miss it. But, thanks to Naboo, Vince and I will have a place to live. He agreed to take us on in a flatshare with Bollo in Camden. I’ve never been fond of Camden because of all the trendies, but Vince is so excited to move to the city that I can’t help but be happy. I know there will be plenty more adventures to be had in Camden. Hopefully they won’t include the arctic tundra, a killer kangeroo or a cockney nutjob. Goodbye, Zooniverse. Hello, Camden.
-Howard TJ Moon

* * *

Alright Diary?
Howard locked himself in the loo, so I’m going to write this now. Today I move to Camden with Howard, Naboo and Bollo. It’s going to be genius in the city, but I’m going to miss the animals. The flat Naboo got is perfect. Howard doesn’t know he and I will have to share a room yet, but it’s all part of my master plan to show Howard that I love him. I have to finish packing my boots, but in a few hours I’ll be away from the zoo and in CAMDEN!
Vince x

The hut was finally empty after three days of packing everything. A strange energy lingered; a sad one. Every inch of their home had memories associated with it, down to the tack holes in the plywood walls. Howard stood in the middle of the former parlor and bedroom, reminiscing of the times he’d had with Vince. His stomach twisted uncomfortably and suddenly he felt like crying. This was his home, and he was leaving to start a new chapter in his life.

A hand on his shoulder snapped him back to the present, “I just moved the last of my things in the van, Howard,” Vince said softly.

“Oh, okay, Vince,” Howard turned and looked at Vince, “are you alright?” he asked, noticing his friend’s flushed cheeks and smudged eye liner.

“Yeah,” Vince offered a smile, “I’m fine now. It’s just a big change to leave this place, you know?”

Howard knew perfectly well, “I’m going to miss it,” he said, returning the smile, “we had a lot of fun times here.”

Vince looked down at the dusty floor, “a lot of bad ones too,” he whispered.

“Don’t think of those,” Howard put his hand on Vince’s back, his mind flashing to the monkey hell incident, “I promise there will be nothing but happy memories to come in Camden.”

Vince looked up, fresh tears staining his cheeks, “Howard?” his voice cracked.
“What is it, Vince?”

Without warning, Vince lunged at Howard, wrapping his arms around him. Howard froze for a moment, his typical ‘don’t touch me’ reaction crossing his mind before he overcame it and hugged his best mate. The moment Howard hugged him, Vince immediately started to cry, burying his face into Howard’s jumper, “shh, it’s okay, little man,” Howard cooed, squeezing Vince, “everything will be fine. You’re going to love Camden. Lots of shops and people. You’ll be in your element.”

“I love you, Howard,” Vince murmured into Howard’s chest.

“Are you ballbags coming?” Naboo’s voice made both of them jump and separate,

“Traffic is going to be awful if you don’t hurry up.”

“Traffic’s always bad, Naboo,” Howard noted.

“It wouldn’t be bad if you’d agree to take the rug,” Naboo folded his arms, smirking.

“Friends don’t let friends drive stoned,” Howard quipped.

“You’re hilarious, Howard,” Naboo rolled his eyes then looked at Vince, “alright, Vince?”

Vince wiped his face on his sleeve, “yeah, I’m fine,” he said quietly.

“Good,” Naboo turned to leave the hut, “ten minutes, yeah?” he said before walking away.

Howard turned to Vince, “I guess this is it.”

“Guess so,” Vince looked around the hut one last time, before heading to the door, “ready, Howard?”

Howard nodded, “let’s go, little man,” he said, following Vince out of the hut. Before shutting the door he took a deep breath and exhaled, finally getting up the courage to close it and start the new chapter of his life.

Author's Note: This isn't finished, and it's not perfect by anyone's standards. Just something I'm writing to see where it goes. A few bits I need to rework, and this is still being written so it's bound to change. I know it doesn't follow the "Sherlock being gone 3 years" thing. But it's my fic, and I'm going to write it how I want. Just posting it because it's been quite some time since I've posted anything I've written. So, enjoy? x
----------------------------------------------------


"Goodbye, John."


The words reverberated in his mind, constant reminders that he was alone. Over a year had passed like a blur. He no longer wished to associate with anyone. He had no reason to. Everyone he knew only made him remember. Fond memories now brought more pain than he ever thought imaginable.
The first couple of months were the hardest. Between the well-wishers and the media, the attention never ended. Eventually people stopped bothering him. There's only so much to say to someone who no longer responded.

The last time anyone spoke to him was weeks ago. Mrs. Hudson had been nothing but kind, but he pushed her away without saying anything at all.

"You can't sit around and mope forever, love," she said, a sad smile adorning her weathered face, "just think of what Sherlock would say if he saw you in this state."

He stared at the wall. Mrs. Hudson was sat in front of him, but he wasn't looking at her. He saw right through her, as if she wasn't there at all. The name made his stomach churn.

She sighed, touching his hand, "I'm here if you ever need to talk, John," she added, taking her time getting up- flinching as she stepped the wrong way with her wonky hip. She offered another smile before walking out of the flat, whispering, "poor man," to herself as she crept downstairs, shutting her door softly.


It was Sunday. Or perhaps it was Wednesday. He'd lost track of the days because days no longer mattered. Nothing did.

Since he came back to Baker Street, the flat hadn't been touched. Everything was almost exactly how it was that last night. He couldn't bring himself to clean out anything. Just in case.

He pulled out his phone, looking at the sent text messages over the past six months. All of them to a recipient who would never see them.

Found your secret stash today. Hid them where you won't find them. -JW

You're right. Deerstalkers are ugly. -JW

Took sugar in my coffee today. -JW

Thought about patching up the bullet holes in the wall. But you get bored easily. -JW

It's my birthday today. Stayed in and had a cuppa. -JW

Had to clean the fridge today. Your thumbs were smelling up the place. -JW


He stared blankly at his sent text messages. There were dozens upon dozens of them, all without responses. He didn't know why he sent any of them, he just felt like he had to. It would make everything seem normal.

An idea struck him at the moment. Maybe, just maybe, if he begged, he could have his best friend back. It was worth a try. He started a new message, typing quickly: I know you're not dead. Stop being so bloody selfish and come home. -JW

A second later an auto-reply message popped up: Failed to deliver message. Phone number no longer in service.

For a minute, he felt like he was going to be physically sick. He chewed his lip, feeling a lump rising up in his throat. He'd sent countless texts, but this was the first time any kind of response came back. His eyes were blurring with tears as he threw his phone across the room. The reality of everything was sinking in.

His friend was gone. His best friend in the world was never coming back. Sherlock Holmes was dead.
Silently, he stood up and grabbed his coat, stuffing a small torch in his pocket. The sun was setting and the light was fading fast, but that didn't matter. Night time just meant another day had passed. One day closer to death. His eyes strayed to a scarf that had been thrown on the table. It was Sherlock's. Molly had washed and given it to him to hold onto for sentimental reasons. He hadn't touched it since.

After a moment of hesitation, he grabbed the scarf and wrapped it around his neck before walking out of the flat. He shut the door and tromped down the stairs. Mrs. Hudson cracked her door and peeked out, "you look flushed, dear. Everything alright?"

He stopped and looked at her. His cheeks were still wet with tears. He opened his mouth to speak, but decided he had nothing to say so he turned and left without another word.

After hailing a taxi, he mumbled the name of the cemetery he hadn't dared visit since the funeral. The drive seemed to take hours, but time stopped when the cab pulled up to the gates. He exhaled softly, paying the driver and exiting the car silently. The sound of it's engine faded as he stood, staring into desolate lot dotted with headstones.

His body took over at that point, not matter how much his mind and heart protested. He made his way to the large tree in the back of the cemetery. As he got closer, there was just enough light left in the sky to show off the gold lettering of the shiny black stone. Sherlock Holmes.

He sat down on the damp grass, his reflection on the marker sending a chill down his spine. Nothing was said for a long time. When he finally spoke, it was completely dark except for the torch he'd turned on and stood up in the grass next to him, "Sorry I haven't come to visit. I've been busy," he said softly, almost choking on his words.

A soft breeze rustled the leaves overhead. The air smelled like rain, "I guess I haven't really been that busy," he swallowed hard, "it's been hard to cope. I've got poor Mrs. Hudson worried. She says talking to me is like talking to a wall," he almost smiled, "she misses you."

He sighed, "I think everyone misses you. Even if they don't admit it."

A twig snapping caught his attention, he looked around quickly, before dismissing it. He looked down at his knees, "I think I miss you more than anyone though," he whispered, "I've never been more alone. If you could just do that one last favor for me and not be dead, I'd appreciate it more than you'll ever know," he felt the tears coming, so he grabbed his torch and stood up, "I'd better get going. Wouldn't want anyone catching me in a cemetery at night, people might talk," he half-laughed, touching the top of the headstone, "I know you're not an emotional person, but, I love you. Yeah," he nodded to himself, "I'm still at Baker Street if you ever need anything," he turned, pausing for a minute to collect himself before walking out of the cemetery.

When he turned to walk away, a dark figure watched him from behind the tree, "I miss you too, John," he whispered when John was out of earshot, before disappearing back into the shadows.

---

It wasn't long before it had started raining. To make the night even more dismal, the big droplets soon turned into a heavy downpour. He almost regretted his decision to walk home, even more so because he wasn't exactly walking home. His subconscious was taking him to the last place he'd want to go, but, for some reason he felt he needed to be there.

St. Bart's. Just the sight of the building made his heart sink. Every memory associated with the building came flooding back at once. He felt dizzy as he steadied himself and sat down on the bench just outside the building, staring at the pavement.

Just over a year ago his best friend was lying lifeless on the concrete just a few feet from where he was sitting. The incident was foggy in his mind, but it didn't ease the trauma of watching someone plummet to their death from eighty feet up. The scene seemed to be on repeat in his mind. It didn't matter what he did, that afternoon was forever engraved in his memory.

He didn't realize how long he'd been sitting in the rain. He was soaked to the bone, and had lost feeling in his fingers ages ago, but he couldn't seem to make himself leave. His attention was focused on that one bit of sidewalk.

A soft voice brought him back to the present, "John?"

Slowly, he turned toward the voice. Molly Hooper stood next to the bench under her umbrella. She smiled awkwardly, "Why are you sitting out here in the rain?" she asked, pulling a set of keys out of her purse, "Do you need a ride?"

He shrugged, looking back to the pavement, "no," he said, sighing to himself.

"Please, John," she touched his shoulder, "it's right on the way. Besides, it'll save you cab fare."

"Can't argue that," he said, defeated. After another quick glance at the concrete he got up and followed Molly to her car, muttering an apology for being soaking wet as he got in.

"You know, if you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm here," Molly said sheepishly, shooting side glances to John, "you're not the only one who loved him."

"Thanks, but no thanks," he said curtly, staring blankly out the windshield.

"He loved you too, you know," she continued, "he never said it, but I could see it."

"Molly, I can't-"

"I could see it in his eyes," she ignored him, "when he didn't think you could see him, he looked sad. You've got to know that you were his whole world."

"Molly, listen-"

"No, John. You listen," she raised her voice uncharacteristically, "it kills me to see you like this. I know how much Sherlock meant to you," John flinched at the name, "believe me, I do. But you can't just go on like this, it isn't healthy."

"Coping with a death in my own way isn't healthy?"

"Coping means you're moving on with your life and accepting that he's gone," she pulled the car over, looking sad, "you're torturing yourself. This is the most I've heard you speak in months. I talk to Mrs. Hudson, I know that you never leave your flat. She's so worried about you, and frankly, so am I. Things will get better. Just know that if you ever need to talk, I'm here."

He grabbed the handle for the door and opened it to get out. Molly grabbed his arm, "John, promise me you'll call if you need anything."

"I do need something," he said looking at Molly.

"What is it?" she asked, letting go of his arm.

"I need you to stop fretting over me. Unless you or anyone else can bring him back, I don't need any of you. I have myself and that's all I need," he shut the car door and walked into 221B without looking back to the car.

Mrs. Hudson was sweeping when he got inside. He avoided making eye contact as he started up the stairs. She stopped her chore and looked up at him, "you look like you could use a cuppa, dear."

"I'm fine, Mrs. Hudson," he took a few more steps upstairs.

"I'll bring it up to you," she smiled kindly before walking into her apartment.

He didn't bother shutting the flat door. After his shoes were kicked off, he flopped down on his favorite chair. His phone was still laying on the floor where he tossed it earlier on; it kept beeping with an alert, but he ignored it. There was only one person he wanted a text from, and that was entirely impossible so it didn't matter.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Hudson walked in, holding a tea tray, "here we are," she set it down on a coffee table and took the seat across from him in his chair. It made John flinch. She didn't notice, "I didn't put any sugar in yours. I know how much you hate it," she took her own cup and sat back, "you're soaking wet," she said, frowning, "you need to take better care of yourself," she stood up again, placing her cup on the side table, and walked back to the loo. When she came back, she was holding a towel, "now dry yourself off before you catch a cold."

"It's just a little rain," he finally looked at her, "you're my land lady, not my mother."

"That's my line, dear," she half-smiled, draping the towel over his shoulders.

That made him almost smile, "thank you," he grabbed his cup and took a sip.

"There's the polite John Watson I know," she sat back down, "so," she picked up her tea again, "how is he?" she asked, "I know you went to see him."

"He wasn't very sociable," he looked down at the carpet. His phone beeped again, so he finally reached down and got it. There was one text alert from a number he was unfamiliar with. He opened the message: I'm sorry, John.

"Are you alright, love?" Mrs. Hudson asked, watching him.

"I need to sleep," he lied, standing up.

"Don't you sleep in those wet clothes," she warned, cleaning up the cups, "and, John?"

He glanced at her, "Yes?"

"When's the last time you've eaten? You're looking skinny."

That was a good question. He couldn't remember if he'd eaten the previous day or the day before that, "Um, what day is it?"

"Tuesday, dear. I'll bring you breakfast in the morning," she said, picking up the tray and walking out of the flat, mumbling something to the extent of, "one Sherlock was enough."

After Mrs. Hudson left, he locked himself in the bathroom, sitting on the cold tiled floor. He checked the text on his phone again, to make sure he wasn't seeing things. It still read I'm sorry, John. His mind automatically shot to him.

It couldn't be him. There was no way. Someone was taking the piss. Several more minutes passed before he finally typed out a response: Sorry for what? He sent it, pleased with himself for avoiding the cliched 'who is this?' text.

He leaned against the side of the tub, staring at his phone. It didn't take long for another text, from the same number, to pop up.

For everything.

Vague. His sneaking suspicions were becoming more solidified. It was just like him to be mysterious. Smirking to himself, he sent another message: Prove it.

When over ten minutes passed without another response, he felt his heart sink. He was getting himself excited over nothing. How could someone send text messages from six feet under? It wasn't possible. This was no more than a prank. A cruel, heartless joke.

Slowly, he stood up, putting the phone back in his pocket before leaving the loo. He hated himself for getting the idea in his head that maybe, just maybe his only prayer had been answered. This was all a horrible nightmare. He needed to go to sleep, then he could wake up and everything would be miserable and hopeless again. Things would be normal.

Usually he would go upstairs to his own room, but his feet disobeyed. Before he knew it, he was standing in the middle of his room. The periodic table of elements still adorned the wall, the bed sheets had sat, untouched, for the past year and the entire room smelled of him. It was like walking into the past.

He stepped out of his trousers and slipped his jumper off, dropping them in the unused laundry bin. After a fleeting moment of hesitation, he crawled into the bed, curling up under the duvet. The familiar scent made him shudder; memories came flooding back. He squeezed his eyes shut, in hopes of preventing more unwanted tears, though, it didn't work.

Before he could work himself up too much, his cellphone pinged with a new message. He opened his eyes and stared at the phone sitting on the nightstand, the light from the screen lit up the dark room. Exhaling, he reached for the phone. The same, familiar unfamiliar number adorned the screen. His heart was racing as he opened the message.

Ok.

No texts were exchanged after that. Something funny was going on, that was for sure. He didn't know who he was texting, but surely whomever it was thought they were being hilarious. Unless it really was him. No, sod that thought. It couldn't be him. He was dead. The end.

Surprisingly, it didn't take him long to fall asleep. He felt strangely comforted sleeping in the bed. Even after a year, the scent of him lingered. It was a peaceful sleep. The first night in months that he genuinely slept without nightmares. He hadn't been this relaxed in so long, but the the relaxation was short-lived.

The sound of the bedroom door creaking woke him up. He sat up quickly and looked around the pitch black room, "who's there?"

He knew he wasn't alone. He could feel someone else in the room. It was just a matter of finding them. He turned the lamp on and found the intruder immediately, pressed up against the far wall, staring wide-eyed at him. His jaw dropped, unable to speak.

"Please, please tell me you weren't," the stranger made an obscene wanking motion with his hand, "in my bed."

A nauseous feeling in his stomach was rising up in his throat. He was going to be sick. Without thinking, he leaned over the side of the bed and gagged, hearing the sound of his sick hitting the wood floor. Finally he looked up at the visitor, "Sherlock?" was all he could manage to say.

"Good God, really?" Sherlock stared at the mess on the floor, disgusted, "I heard you weren't coping well, but this is unbelievable. Molly just said you were depressed."

Confused anger was bubbling up inside him, "What?" he asked, blinking through new tears to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing, "You were dead..I...I saw you fall..."

"Surely I can't be a ghost. Ghosts don't exist, John," he cocked an eyebrow, "I never died."

"You jumped though," he was still trying to wrap his mind around everything, "wait," he frowned, "Molly knew you were alive?"

"Of course she did," Sherlock gave one of his classic 'are you stupid?' looks, "Molly and Mycroft."

"What?" he was practically screaming.

"I had to leave the country. Molly helped fake my death, Mycroft helped me go into hiding," he rolled his eyes, as if it was the most obvious answer in the world, "I thought you'd have figured all that out by now. Did you not get any of the clues I left for you?"

"Clues? What clues?"

"I take that as a no," he sighed, "that would explain why you're such a mess. You haven't had a shave in at least two weeks, it's been at least two days since you've showered," he cringed, "and good lord, John, drugs?" he leaned over the end of the bed, examining him, "I know you've been smoking cannabis in this flat. I can smell it. Also, judging by the dark circles under your eyes, I'd say it's been at least a month since you've had a decent night of sleep," his expression suddenly softened, "why are you crying?"

He was in such a state of shock that he hadn't even noticed that he was crying, "Jesus, I thought you were dead," he wiped his eyes on the back of his hand, "do you have any idea what I've been going through?" his voice cracked.

"John, I had to disappear," Sherlock watched him, looking pained, "if I didn't, you, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade would have all been in danger."

"What are you talking about?"

"Three gunmen. Three bullets," he frowned, "if I didn't jump, you'd be dead."

"You did it to save me," he stared at him, feeling his heart sink, "why?"

Sherlock stood up, facing away from him, "you're my best friend," he said softly, his voice barely a whisper, "I'm not an emotional person, John. I don't know how to cope with human feelings," he sighed, "I can't comprehend how I feel about you. It confuses me."

"Love," John got out of bed and walked over to his friend, touching his arm, "you understand the chemistry, but feeling it is completely different."

"Is that what it is?" Sherlock mused, "Interesting."

"Interesting?" John almost laughed, "Only you would find a human emotion interesting."

"I've never felt it before. It is interesting," Sherlock turned to look at him, "are you upset with me?"

"Yes," John admitted, still trying to comprehend everything that was happening.

"I'm sorry, John," Sherlock offered one of his charming smiles. His apology was genuine, but there was also something about the smile that made him think that Sherlock wasn't telling him something.

"I missed you," John returned the smile, suddenly wanting to cry again. He wasn't even fully sure if this was a dream or not. There was a nervous feeling in the back of his mind. If this was all just a dream, he didn't want to wake up because it would crush his soul. He didn't want the empty feeling back.

"I apologized, why do you still look sad?" Sherlock looked confused, possibly unsure of what to say or do next.

John shook his head, "I'm still in shock," he looked down at the floor, "also dreading that this is a dream," he pinched the bridge of his nose, sniffling, "if I wake up, I don't think I'll be able to handle being alone again," he stopped talking, still refusing to look at Sherlock, crying softly to himself.

To his surprise, Sherlock wrapped his arms around him. It was the first time he'd ever felt physical affection from him. Without a second thought, he hugged Sherlock back, unable to stop himself from sobbing anymore. Sherlock was tense, but awkwardly rubbed John's back. It was clearly a new experience for both parties.

"I was alone too," Sherlock murmured, "before I met you. I just didn't realize it until I left."

Unwillingly, John let go so he could look at him, "so, you missed me too."

"I suppose I did," his cheeks were flushed. John wasn't sure if it was because of the hug or because of the human emotion thing, but it made him smile, "you're judging me."

"Of course I am," John laughed, "the great Sherlock Holmes actually has emotions. He isn't a machine."

Sherlock chuckled, "I'm glad my confusion is entertaining you," he said sarcastically.

"You love me," John said, teasing before he could say something sarcastic, "shall I put the kettle on?"

"It's one in the morning, John."

"Ah," he looked at the clock. One AM precisely, "I guess I should clean up my sick and get some sleep then," he ducked out of the room to grab paper towels from the kitchen, then quickly wiped up the mess and tossed them into the bin just outside the door, "I'll let you have your bed back, I can sleep on the couch," he turned to leave, "you are staying right?"

"If you've forgiven me," he shrugged out of his coat and hung it over the back of his desk chair.

"I'll see you in the morning then," John smiled, "good night, Sherlock," he grabbed his phone off the nightstand before leaving the room, shutting the door. He felt his way through the dark apartment to the couch, pulling the blanket off his chair beforehand. It was comfortable, and he felt himself drifting off to sleep almost immediately. At least until his phone pinged with a text.

I miss you.

John felt his cheeks burning; he grinned as he typed out a response: I'm only in the parlor.

My room?

His eye widened: Do you need me?

Yes.

Right now?

Yes, John.


John sat up, yawning. Sherlock had a tendency to text when something wasn't as important as he was making it sound so he took his time getting up. Another text came through as he was sitting there: Are you coming? He laughed silently, finally standing and strolling back through the kitchen. Quietly, he opened Sherlock's door and peeked in, "what's wrong?"

"Can you sleep on the other side?" Sherlock asked.

"Why?" John walked into the room, closing the door.

"I told you," Sherlock's voice had a hint of annoyance in it.

"Right," John sat on the bed, "you missed me."

Sherlock grumbled something unintelligible, rolling over to face the wall. John slipped under the covers and laid down, leaving as much space between them as possible. Secretly, he wouldn't have minded a cuddle, but if people found out Sherlock was alive and cuddling with him...they would definitely talk.

"You're thinking too loud, John," Sherlock mumbled, "Why do you care what people say?"

"What?" John had nearly forgotten that Sherlock could read him like a book. Even in the dark, without saying anything, he knew what he was thinking. It should have been creepy, but in a weird way it was comforting.

"You care what people say," Sherlock turned over to face him, "but you put yourself in predicaments like this. You crave the abuse, John."

"I do not," he argued, "how'd you know what I was thinking about?"

"Your catch phrase is 'people will definitely talk.' You're laying in a bed with your supposedly dead male best friend. I'm just using common sense," he exhaled softly, "Did I miss anything?"

John sighed, defeated, "no. You got it all. Brilliant as ever," he closed his eyes, "I'm going to sleep now."

Sherlock was quiet for several minutes before he spoke again, "John?"

"What is it, Sherlock?"

"You were right about what you said earlier."

"About what?" John rolled on his side to look at him.

"When you said I loved you," Sherlock didn't sound like himself, but that made it even more endearing, "I do. You might be the only person I love."

"Are you coming on to me?" John sat up, "I, I don't think I can handle that tonight."

"I can't say that I love you?"

"You don't say things like that. It's not you," John cocked his head to the side, "are you sure you're really you?"

"I was alone for a year, two months and seven days. I had a lot of time to think," he sighed, "truth be told, I thought about you more than I care to admit."

John laughed, "I'll take that as a compliment coming from you."

Sherlock sat up, "I'm no good with being affectionate, John. I apologize. What I'm trying to say is that, well," he stumbled over his words, "you always seem to be on my mind and I don't give you the credit you deserve and-"

"I love you too, Sherlock," John interjected, "it's okay, really. You don't need to explain anything," he looked at him. Sherlock's face was dimly by lit the street lamp just outside the window. The contours of his face were perfectly shadowed; something about his expression was pained.

They sat in silence for what seemed like hours. John was used to Sherlock going through phases where he didn't speak at all. This time was different though. Normally when Sherlock was thinking, he was stonefaced. But, right now, though his lips were pursed and expressionless, his eyes told another story.

"You look troubled," John said, finally.

"I'm not," Sherlock said immediately.

"You are," John argued, "tell me what's wrong. You made me come all the way in here. I know there's something bothering you."

Sherlock was thoughtful for a minute before he spoke, "Do you know why I came back, John?"

"Tell me."

"Mycroft told me you were dead," his voice was a whisper.

"He did what?" John stared at Sherlock, "Why?"

"Mycroft said you killed yourself. Of course, I didn't believe him, but I had to be sure," he exhaled loudly, "I risked everything to come back here. Now that I'm here, I don't think I can leave. I rarely feel any kind of attachment toward another person, but I can't even begin to describe how I felt when my brother told me that you..." his voice trailed off, unable to finish the sentence, "it felt like time had stopped. At that moment, I wished I was dead," He leaned forward, burying his face into his knees, sitting in an awkward fetal position.

John had never seen Sherlock look so vulnerable. It was unsettling. Hestitantly, he scooted closer and put his hand on Sherlock's back, "I'd be lying if I said that I didn't consider suicide after you jumped," he mumbled, "but my refusal to accept your death kept me going. I'm not saying I handled everything as well as I could have, but in the end, you came back and now everything's okay. Right?"

"For now," Sherlock turned his head to look at John, "but I do need to figure out how to remain invisible. It's too risky for me to show up again. Moriarty is dead, but I'm still in danger. Mycroft is going to be furious when he finds out I'm here," he smirked, "that alone makes coming back worth it."

------------

"John?" Mrs. Hudson's voice made John jump, "John are you up here? I brought you some breakfast, dear."

John sat up and looked beside him. Sherlock was awake, watching him silently, "what do I do?" John mouthed, feeling a twinge of panic hit him.

"John, dear. Where are you?" her voice came closer to their hiding place, "you have until the kettle boils until I wake you up myself, John," she called, a little louder.

Sherlock sat up and pushed the blankets down. He was only weaing pajama trousers, "I'll handle it," he whispered, stretching for a moment before strolling over to the door.

"You're just going to walk up to her?" John asked incredulously, his eyes wide and his voice barely a whisper.

"Yes," Sherlock cocked an eyebrow, "she won't tell anyone I'm here."

"Don't give her a heart attack," John got out of bed and grabbed his white jumper from the previous night out of the laundry bin.

Sherlock slowly opened the door and looked out into the kitchen. Mrs. Hudson was busy at the stove making tea. He turned and grinned at John, putting his index finger to his lips to tell John to be quiet. John watched him creep up behind Mrs. Hudson; he knew this was either going to be extremely funny or extremely bad.

"Good morning, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock said nonchalantly, just a few inches from her ear.

Mrs. Hudson's reaction included a shriek and a series of hard slaps across Sherlock's chest, as a string of profanities were yelled before she realized what was going on. Sherlock's reaction, however, made John double over laughing; he yelped in pain, but his voice cracked as he yelled out. As if the feminine cry wasn't funny enough, he was coughing and whinging from the beating like a child, "Why'd you slap me? Jesus," he whined, his voice about an octave higher than usual.

"Sherlock?" she was finally processing everything, "You're alive," she steadied herself on the kitchen table, "I need to sit down."

John rushed and pulled up a chair for her, "are you alright?" he asked, helping her sit down.

"Just a little surprised, dear," she said breathlessly, looking at Sherlock, "well, come here," she held out her arms for a hug. Sherlock's smile returned as he wrapped his arms around her. She squeezed him for a moment before she clapped him upside the head, "if you ever do that to us again, I'll throw you off a building myself, Sherlock Holmes," she scolded, "don't you ever put us through that again!"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Hudson," he looked down at the linoleum floor, "please forgive me. I can't explain to you right now."

The kettle began whistling, making all three of them jump, "oh dear, I've forgotten the tea," Mrs. Hudson stood up, "you two go sit down in the parlor. I'll bring in breakfast this one time. But, don't get used to it. I'm your land lady-"

"Not our housekeeper," John and Sherlock chorused, before laughing and taking their respective seats.

"So, what's the plan for you being alive now, Sherlock?" John asked, crossing his legs.

"Are we keeping you a secret, dear?" Mrs. Hudson chimed in from the kitchen.

"Yes, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock called, before fixing his attention on John, "I don't know what the plan is. Mycroft hasn't found out I'm here yet, but he will. Soon," Sherlock's eyes darted to his phone, "most likely today."

"Then what'll we do?" John spoke softly to avoid Mrs. Hudson overhearing.

"We'll do whatever needs to be done to keep you and me safe," Sherlock smiled, "I wouldn't worry about it until Mycroft-" His sentence was cut short by his phone ringing. Sighing he reached over and picked it up, "That was fast," he mused, answering the called, "Hello, Mycroft," he listened, rolling his eyes, "what an idiotic question. Where do you think I am?" he sighed, listening again, "Brilliant deduction. Would you like an award?" he drawled, looking bored as he paused to listen, "we'll figure it out," he ended the call and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"What's wrong, dear?" Mrs. Hudson looked at Sherlock as she walked into the parlor and set down the tray of tea and muffins.

"I need to think," Sherlock got up and walked into his room, slamming the door without another word.

"He hasn't changed a bit," Mrs. Hudson chuckled and sat down, "have a muffin, John. You must be hungry."

"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," he said, looking toward Sherlock's door, "something's wrong," he mumbled to himself.

"What was that?" she asked, taking a sip of her tea.

"Nothing," he brought his attention back to breakfast, "did you make these?" he grabbed a muffin and took a bite.

"Do you think I would feed you store bought muffins?" she feigned offence.

"Silly question on my part," John laughed, nibbling on his muffin. He kept glancing over to Sherlock's door. Something happened. It had to have. He wasn't sure what, but Sherlock was certainly bothered by it.

After two muffins, a cuppa and some friendly banter, Mrs. Hudson went back downstairs to her flat, leaving John sitting in the parlor alone. Sherlock still haven't come out. Another ten minutes passed, still silence. Finally, John got up and went back to Sherlock's room, knocking softly on the door, "Sherlock?"

"I'm thinking," he replied, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"What happened?" John asked, determined to be persistant.

"Let me think," Sherlock sighed irritably.

"Sherlock, I can help. Tell me what happened," John opened the door, "I could see it in your eyes that something's wrong. What did Mycroft say?"

Slowly, Sherlock turned to look at John and spoke in a whisper, "Moriarty is alive."

---------------------------------------------

"You know what my stance on the situation is, Sherlock," Mycroft said, stonefaced, crossing his legs, "with Moriarty's return, you're putting John and yourself in danger."

"Moriarty can't possibly know that I'm alive," Sherlock rolled his eyes.

"Not yet. It's only a matter of time before he figures it out. You and I both know this," Mycroft leaned forward, lowing his voice, "with Moriarty back, he's bound to keep an eye on this flat. You need to be absolutely certain that coming back here was worth every risk."

"You told me John was dead," Sherlock growled, "I had to come back. This is your fault, Mycroft."

"I told you he was dead to protect you, Sherlock," Mycroft said evenly, "so you wouldn't come back here. I've known Moriarty was alive for several months. It was safest if you stayed away."

"Your plan clearly didn't work," Sherlock smirked.

"Apparently not," Mycroft frowned, "what do you propose we do about this problem?"

"I'm not leaving," Sherlock said in a final tone.

"You're in love with him, aren't you?" Mycroft raised one of his eyebrows, interested, "That's why you came back," a smile played the corners of his lips, "you've changed."

Sherlock opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out.

"I'm right," Mycroft spoke softly, "I never thought I'd live to see the day where you cared about someone other than yourself. Tell me, when's the wedding? Are you going to be Mrs. Watson or is he taking your second name?"

"You only want to know if there's a wedding so you can eat the entire cake, and claim to be losing weight," Sherlock snapped, folding his arms.

"Touchy, touchy," Mycroft remained composed, though a hint of annoyance flickered across his face at the mention of his weight, yet again, "back to the matter at hand, Sherlock. You do realize that you're going to have to stay hidden."

"Of course."

"And I'll have extra security around Baker Street as a precaution," Mycroft continued, "I'm assuming you've only told John and Mrs. Hudson that you're back? Keep it that way."

"What about Lestrade?" Sherlock asked.

"Not yet," Mycroft stood up, "you need to keep a low profile, Sherlock."

"Yes, of course, brother dear," Sherlock got up as well, yawning out boredom.

"I'm serious," Mycroft picked his umbrella up off the table, twirling it behind him, "you're not to leave this flat. You can't be seen. Don't put yourself or dear John in danger."

"Don't you have a bakery to buy out?" Sherlock narrowed his eyes.

Mycroft sighed, "I'll be in touch," he strolled out of the flat, shutting the door softly.

Sherlock looked out the window, watching Mycroft leave. He hated to admit it, but he knew that his brother was right. Coming back to Baker Street was a risk, especially with Moriarty on the rise again, but, he also knew that it was worth it.

----------------------------------------------------

I'm bored. -SH

John was unable to resist smiling at the text as he walked into St. Barts. He told Sherlock he had to run to the shop to get food, but he knew he owed Molly an apology. She was nothing but kind to him, and he was shamelessly rude to her. As he got into the elevator, he typed out a text.

Clean the flat then. -JW

When the elevator stopped, he got out and headed toward the morgue. Before going in, John peeked through the window on the door. Molly was next to a black body bag, with a clipboard, writing. Quietly, he opened the door and walked in.

Molly jumped when she heard the door click shut, "oh, John," she laughed in spite of herself, "you scared me."

"Sorry about that," John smiled, "alright?"

"Just doing paperwork," she raised one of her eyebrows, "are you smiling, John?"

"I guess I am," John chuckled to himself, feeling his phone vibrate. He pulled it out to check the text: Mrs. Hudson cleans. John, I'm bored! -SH

"And laughing?" Molly frowned, assuming John had finally lost his mind, "Are you alright, John?"

"Never better," John tapped out of a response on his phone, Put the kettle on. I'll be home soon. -JW, before looking at Molly, "I actually came to apologize to you."

"You didn't do anything," she put her clipboard down, "really, you don't have to apologize."

"I do," John put his phone in his pocket again, "I was so rude to you, and for that, I'm sorry. I was upset because you brought up Sherlock."

"Forgive me for that. I hated seeing how depressed you were getting," she walked over to John, "you seem to be having a good day. If it's not a rude question, why are you so happy?"

"I met up with an old friend last night, after you dropped me off."

Molly stared at him, "he's back?" she mouthed.

John nodded, "I know you knew everything."

"John, I'm sorry. I couldn't say anything," her voice was barely audible.

"I was actually going to thank you," he pulled her into a hug.

"Thank me?" she asked, letting him hug her.

"He's alive because of you," John whispered, "thank you," he finally let her go, "the kettle is on, how about you take your lunch and come have a cuppa?"

"I'm nearly done here, give me five minutes."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

"You look different," Sherlock said the moment Molly walked into the flat, "you've changed your hair. That color makes you look paler than usual."

"Oh, um," Molly blushed, shutting the door.

"Sherlock," John nudged him.

"Sorry," Sherlock sighed, "nice of you to come visit, Molly."

"John invited me, I hope I'm not intruding," she shrugged out of her jacket and draped it over the arm of the couch.

"Of course he did," Sherlock shot a glance to John before grabbing the tea tray from the kitchen, "I thought you'd gone to the shop, John?" He handed cups to John and Molly before taking one himself.

"I ran into Molly before I got there, and it wasn't like you were being cooperative of me going out. I was afraid you'd wreck the flat out of boredom," John sat back in his chair, kicking his shoes off.

"I managed to entertain myself without you," Sherlock sat across from John, "I went through your laptop."

"How did you crack the new password?" John asked, glaring at him.

"Honestly, John. Have you forgotten who I am?" Sherlock rolled his eyes, "It only took me about thirty seconds to get in," he said smugly, taking a sip of his tea, "very creative, for what it's worth."

"You could have just asked if you wanted to use it," John stirred his tea.

"My phone was in my pocket."

"Of course it was," John sighed.

Molly cleared her throat, "should I go?"

"Sorry, Molly. Sherlock can't leave the flat. He's a bit stir crazy," John said apologetically.

"So we're keeping him a secret?" She asked, tracing the rim of the tea cup with her index finger.

"For our safety, yes," Sherlock chimed in, "I'll be blunt. Moriarty is alive, and my coming back was risky but necessary, so please keep my return quiet."

"You can trust me," Molly gave up on her tea and put the cup down on the desk, "why did you come back?"

"Blame Mycroft," Sherlock said quickly, "he's a proper git."

"Mycroft told him that I'd killed myself," John finally took a sip of his tea, "he came back to see for himself."

"That's kind of romantic," Molly blushed, when they both stared at her, "I mean, well, John never accepted your death, Sherlock. And, clearly, you didn't accept John's death either. It really is touching how much you care for one another. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you guys were in l-"

"Stop talking, Molly," Sherlock cut her off, his cheeks flushing lightly.

"Sorry," she avoided their gazes, "I, um, have to get back to work. Murder victim to get sorted out," she stood up and slipped her coat on, "if you need anything, you know where I am," she said before leaving the flat.

"That was unnecessary, Sherlock," John folded his arms.

"What?" Sherlock asked, attempting to look disinterested.

"Interrupting Molly like that. We both knew what she was going to say," John half-smiled, seeing Sherlock's eyes widen.

"She had no right saying it," Sherlock pursed his lips, pouting. Molly was right, but he didn't want anyone but John to know his feelings.

"Why not?" John asked, a sad look crossing his face, "You said it, and I said it. She was just making an observation. I don't know why you're so uptight."

"It's none of her business," Sherlock mumbled, refusing to make eye contact with him, "I don't want people knowing-"

"That you have feelings for someone?" John got up, "Or are you ashamed that those feelings are for me?" he turned and walked into the kitchen.

"That's not it, John," Sherlock followed John, "you know how I feel," he touched John's shoulder.

"I need a shower," John went into the bathroom and slammed the door, leaving Sherlock standing awkwardly outside.

"John?" Sherlock knocked softly, "Please don't be upset, you know how I am."

"Leave me alone," John threw his toothbrush at the door, before turning the shower on.

"John," Sherlock knocked again, "I told you how I feel, isn't that enough?" he whined, sitting down on the floor.

"You're ashamed," John leaned against the sink, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"I'm not ashamed," Sherlock mumbled, picking at the paint on the door, "John, open the door."

"Why should I?" John reached in and shut the shower off.

"Because I love you," Sherlock rested his head against the wall.

John couldn't resist smiling to himself. It wasn't possible to stay upset with Sherlock. Most of the time the man had fewer emotions than a machine, but sometimes his inner human came out, and never ceased to catch John off guard.

Slowly, John opened the door a crack and saw Sherlock sitting on the floor. Without a word he sat down next to him. Sherlock didn't look at him, and brought his knees up to his chest, hugging them.
"Are you going to tell me why you're so against people knowing how you feel?" John asked finally, watching Sherlock pick a piece of lint off of his trousers, "Sherlock."

"I'm not ashamed of you," Sherlock spoke softly, focusing his attention on the aged linoleum of the kitchen floor.

"Then what's wrong?" John was starting to get frustrated.

After a moment of compiling his thoughts, Sherlock finally looked at John, "If people know, Moriarty could find out," he kept his voice low, "I don't want to even entertain the thought of something happening to you," he sighed, "for all we know, he could have our flat tapped and even me telling you how I feel was a risk."

John's heart sunk, he'd all but forgotten about Moriarty. Sherlock was right, as usual, "I'm sorry I doubted you," he whispered, feeling a lump rising in his throat.

Sherlock scooted closer to John and rested his head on his shoulder. John snaked his arm around Sherlock's waist, making him tense up, "doubting me never plays out well. You of all people should know this," he murmured, "or have you forgotten that day at St Barts?"

"Stop," John tightened his grip around Sherlock, "I apologized, so stop being a dick."

"You like it," Sherlock drawled, chuckling to himself and sitting up.

"Not as much as you like me," John smirked and shifted so he could look at Sherlock, "I guess I can't blame you."

"Narcissism doesn't suit you," Sherlock returned the smirk.

"Are you calling me ugly?" John shot Sherlock a playful glare, "It's because I don't have your perfect cheekbones, isn't it?"

"You think my cheekbones are perfect?" Sherlock asked sheepishly.

John's expression softened as he reached up and cupped Sherlock's cheek in his hand, "Everything about you is perfect," he said, feeling Sherlock's cheeks burning, "especially your cheekbones."

"I'm not perfect, John," Sherlock frowned, "I'm far from it, actually."

"To me you are," John smiled, caressing Sherlock's cheek with his thumb, "Sherlock?"

"What is it?" Sherlock asked, letting his eyes drift shut at John's soft touch.

"Are we, you know," John furrowed his brow, trying to think of a good word, "an item?"

"We're human beings, John," Sherlock opened one eye and looked at him.

"You know that's not what I meant," John rolled his eyes, withdrawing his hand.

"Then what do you mean?" Sherlock reached for John's hand, turning it over to examine his palm.

"Are we together?" John asked, irritated, "Not here at the current moment, but together together, er, like a relationship."

"Oh," Sherlock cocked his head to the side, "I don't like labels, John."

"I'm not putting a label on it. I just want a mutual understanding between us to what we do or don't have," John contorted his face, thinking, "I'm just confused because of the love thing."

"Meaning?"

"Are we exclusive to one another, or am I allowed to date?" John asked bluntly.

"Take a look at your track record for dating, John. All the women you've seen have left you because of me. You put me ahead of anyone, and I've always chosen you," Sherlock traced his index finger along one of the lines on John's palm, "you're the only person I need. If you want a mutual agreement, I can be exclusively yours, but in return, you're mine."

"And what about the physical part of being exclusive?" John watched Sherlock run his finger along the vein in his wrist, shivering at the soft touch.

"Physical part?" Sherlock looked up, catching John's eye.

"The kissing, the sex, you know, normal stuff," John said nonchalantly.

"Dull," Sherlock dropped John's hand and stood up, "I've gone this long without it, and I'm just fine," he walked across the kitchen and went into his room, shutting the door.

Slowly, John got up and strolled over to Sherlock's room, "I'm coming in," he said, opening the door, "for the record, sex isn't dull," he said, folding his arms, "you just wouldn't know."

"There is nothing wrong with celibacy," Sherlock snapped, sitting down on his bed.

"You've never even kissed anyone, have you?" John sat down next to Sherlock, frowning.

"Who would kiss me?" Sherlock looked at the carpet, "I dropped out of school because the other children were horrible to me. I used deduction as my own form of payback to them, but that wasn't the best way to get close to anyone," he looked at John, his eyes were sad, "I'm different. No one wants to have any form of relation with the weird boy."

"Are you trying to tell me you've never even had a peck on the lips? Nothing?" John stared at him.

"Let's change the subject, shall we?"

"If you're mine and I'm yours, does that mean I could...kiss you?" John touched Sherlock's hand.

"I don't know," Sherlock sighed, "I don't know about any of this. Until I met you, I never had to deal with human emotions. This is all so confusing."

"I won't push," John half-smiled, "just know that I'm yours and I'll always be here."

TBC
"Calling me on a weekday? To what do I owe the pleasure?" Mycroft sounded as he always did. Cocky, narcissistic and drenched in sarcasm.

"I need your help, Mycroft," Sherlock whispered. He hated admitting he needed help, especially when it involved asking Mycroft. It had always been that way.

"Oh, you need my help? What have you done now?" Mycroft mused, "You didn't kill anyone did you?"
Mycroft's attitude never ceased to irritate Sherlock, "shut up and listen to me, Mycroft," he felt a lump rising in his throat. Exhaling, he spoke again, "I need to disappear for a while."

"What happened?" Mycroft's tone had completely changed. Despite being a complete wanker most of the time, he truly knew when his brother needed him. In the end, they were still brothers and whether they admitted it or not, they loved each other.

Sherlock weighed every possible explanation before speaking, "Moriarty," was all he said in the end.

Nothing else needed to be said. Mycroft sighed, knowing full well that this was partially, if not entirely his fault. He told Moriarty everything he needed to know. He sold out his own little brother to get a psychopath to talk, "tell me what you need."

"I need you to get me out of the city without anyone seeing me," Sherlock was starting to feel jittery. He didn't have much time, "tell me you can do this for me, Mycroft?"

"Why can't anyone see you?" Mycroft asked, a hint of confusion in his voice.

"If I don't die, others will. Just tell me you can do this," Sherlock grabbed his rubber ball off the counter and threw it across the room. It bounced off a microscope and rolled under a bench.

"How do you know others will die?"

"You're an idiot," Sherlock closed his eyes, "Moriarty is deranged. He wants to destroy me and he'll do anything he can to succeed. He's going to threaten people I care about, and I'll have no choice but to go along with his plan. Once his henchmen, as well as John, Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson think I'm dead, everyone will be fine."

"Are you going to be able to pull it off?" Mycroft asked, interested.

Sherlock laughed, "you doubt me, dear brother."

"Always," Mycroft chuckled, "do tell me how you're managing this."

"I'm jumping off of St. Barts, into a lorrie  that'll be waiting," Sherlock said simply, "my people are taking care of the body as well as the death certificate. Now, for the love of God, tell me you'll help me. I don't have time to play games."

"Can you have the driver take you to my safe house just outside the city? I can help you if you can get there. Will that be a problem?" Mycroft spoke softly, as if he was afraid someone might be listening.

"I won't be long," Sherlock stood up, "I'll see you soon."

"Don't do anything stupid."

"I'm not stupid," Sherlock snapped, "don't doubt me. I'm smarter than you."

"Let's not argue yet. Do what you need to do. I'll be at the house," Mycroft hung up.

Sherlock composed himself, putting the phone in his pocket. As he strolled out of the lab and up the stairs to the roof, he went over the plan in his head. It was fool-proof. Only one concern remained: John. He paused in front of the door, hoping that John wouldn't have to see this. It was all part of the plan, whether John showed up or not, "stay away, John. Just stay away," he mumbled to himself as he pushed the door open and walked out into the bright sunlight.
Author's Note: Ok. So, this is just what I've written from the Sherlock fic I posted like a week or so ago...it's not perfect, and I'm not entirely pleased with it...but it's my first BBC Sherlock fic, I suppose I'm a little attached to it. :)
---------------------------------------------------------


"Goodbye, John."

The words reverberated in his mind, constant reminders that he was alone. Six months had passed like a blur. He no longer wished to associate with anyone. He had no reason to. Everyone he knew only made him remember. Fond memories now brought more pain than he ever thought imaginable.
The first couple of months were the hardest. Between the well-wishers and the media, the attention never ended. Eventually people stopped bothering him. There's only so much to say to someone who no longer responded.

The last time anyone spoke to him was weeks ago. Mrs. Hudson had been nothing but kind, but he pushed her away without saying anything at all.

"You can't sit around and mope forever, love," she said, a sad smile adorning her weathered face, "just think of what Sherlock would say if he saw you in this state."

He stared at the wall. Mrs. Hudson was sat in front of him, but he wasn't looking at her. He saw right through her, as if she wasn't there at all. The name made his stomach churn.

She sighed, touching his hand, "I'm here if you ever need to talk, John," she added, taking her time getting up- flinching as she stepped the wrong way with her wonky hip. She offered another smile before walking out of the flat, whispering, "poor man," to herself as she crept downstairs, shutting her door softly.


It was Sunday. Or perhaps it was Wednesday. He'd lost track of the days because days no longer mattered. Nothing did.

Since he came back to Baker Street, the flat hadn't been touched. Everything was almost exactly how it was that last night. He couldn't bring himself to clean out anything. Just in case.

He pulled out his phone, looking at the sent text messages over the past six months. All of them to a recipient who would never see them.

Found your secret stash today. Hid them where you won't find them. -JW

You're right. Deerstalkers are ugly. -JW

Took sugar in my coffee today. -JW

Thought about patching up the bullet holes in the wall. But you get bored easily. -JW

It's my birthday today. Stayed in and had a cuppa. -JW

Had to clean the fridge today. Your thumbs were smelling up the place. -JW


He stared blankly at his sent text messages. There were dozens upon dozens of them, all without responses. He didn't know why he sent any of them, he just felt like he had to. It would make everything seem normal.

An idea struck him at the moment. Maybe, just maybe, if he begged, he could have his best friend back. It was worth a try. He started a new message, typing quickly: I know you're not dead. Stop being so bloody selfish and come home. -JW

A second later an auto-reply message popped up: Failed to deliver message. Phone number no longer in service.

For a minute, he felt like he was going to be physically sick. He chewed his lip, feeling a lump rising up in his throat. He'd sent countless texts, but this was the first time any kind of response came back. His eyes were blurring with tears as he threw his phone across the room. The reality of everything was sinking in.

His friend was gone. His best friend in the world was never coming back. Sherlock Holmes was dead.
Silently, he stood up and grabbed his coat, stuffing a small torch in his pocket. The sun was setting and the light was fading fast, but that didn't matter. Night time just meant another day had passed. One day closer to death. His eyes strayed to a scarf that had been thrown on the table. It was Sherlock's. Molly had washed and given it to him to hold onto for sentimental reasons. He hadn't touched it since.

After a moment of hesitation, he grabbed the scarf and wrapped it around his neck before walking out of the flat. He shut the door and tromped down the stairs. Mrs. Hudson cracked her door and peeked out, "you look flushed, dear. Everything alright?"

He stopped and looked at her. His cheeks were still wet with tears. He opened his mouth to speak, but decided he had nothing to say so he turned and left without another word.

After hailing a taxi, he mumbled the name of the cemetery he hadn't dared visit since the funeral. The drive seemed to take hours, but time stopped when the cab pulled up to the gates. He exhaled softly, paying the driver and exiting the car silently. The sound of it's engine faded as he stood, staring into desolate lot dotted with headstones.

His body took over at that point, not matter how much his mind and heart protested. He made his way to the large tree in the back of the cemetery. As he got closer, there was just enough light left in the sky to show off the gold lettering of the shiny black stone. Sherlock Holmes.

He sat down on the damp grass, his reflection on the marker sending a chill down his spine. Nothing was said for a long time. When he finally spoke, it was completely dark except for the torch he'd turned on and stood up in the grass next to him, "Sorry I haven't come to visit. I've been busy," he said softly, almost choking on his words.

A soft breeze rustled the leaves overhead. The air smelled like rain, "I guess I haven't really been that busy," he swallowed hard, "it's been hard to cope. I've got poor Mrs. Hudson worried. She says talking to me is like talking to a wall," he almost smiled, "she misses you."

He sighed, "I think everyone misses you. Even if they don't admit it."

A twig snapping caught his attention, he looked around quickly, before dismissing it. He looked down at his knees, "I think I miss you more than anyone though," he whispered, "I've never been more alone. If you could just do that one last favor for me and not be dead, I'd appreciate it more than you'll ever know," he felt the tears coming, so he grabbed his torch and stood up, "I'd better get going. Wouldn't want anyone catching me in a cemetery at night, people might talk," he half-laughed, touching the top of the headstone, "I know you're not an emotional person, but, I love you. Yeah," he nodded to himself, "I'm still at Baker Street if you ever need anything," he turned, pausing for a minute to collect himself before walking out of the cemetery.

When he turned to walk away, a dark figure watched him from behind the tree, "I miss you too, John," he whispered when John was out of earshot, before disappearing back into the shadows.

---

It wasn't long before it had started raining. To make the night even more dismal, the big droplets soon turned into a heavy downpour. He almost regretted his decision to walk home, even more so because he wasn't exactly walking home. His subconscious was taking him to the last place he'd want to go, but, for some reason he felt he needed to be there.

St. Bart's. Just the sight of the building made his heart sink. Every memory associated with the building came flooding back at once. He felt dizzy as he steadied himself and sat down on the bench just outside the building, staring at the pavement.

Just months ago his best friend was lying lifeless on the concrete just a few feet from where he was sitting. The incident was foggy in his mind, but it didn't ease the trauma of watching someone plummet to their death from eighty feet up. The scene seemed to be on repeat in his mind. It didn't matter what he did, that afternoon was forever engraved in his memory.

He didn't realize how long he'd been sitting in the rain. He was soaked to the bone, and had lost feeling in his fingers ages ago, but he couldn't seem to make himself leave. His attention was focused on that one bit of sidewalk.

A soft voice brought him back to the present, "John?"

Slowly, he turned toward the voice. Molly Hooper stood next to the bench under her umbrella. She smiled awkwardly, "Why are you sitting out here in the rain?" she asked, pulling a set of keys out of her purse, "Do you need a ride?"

He shrugged, looking back to the pavement, "no," he said, sighing to himself.

"Please, John," she touched his shoulder, "it's right on the way. Besides, it'll save you cab fare."

"Can't argue that," he said, defeated. After another quick glance at the concrete he got up and followed Molly to her car, muttering an apology for being soaking wet as he got in.

"You know, if you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm here," Molly said sheepishly, shooting side glances to John, "you're not the only one who loved him."

"Thanks, but no thanks," he said curtly, staring blankly out the windshield.

"He loved you too, you know," she continued, "he never said it, but I could see it."

"Molly, I can't-"

"I could see it in his eyes," she ignored him, "when he didn't think you could see him, he looked sad. You've got to know that you were his whole world."

"Molly, listen-"

"No, John. You listen," she raised her voice uncharacteristically, "it kills me to see you like this. I know how much Sherlock meant to you," John flinched at the name, "believe me, I do. But you can't just go on like this, it isn't healthy."

"Coping with a death in my own way isn't healthy?"

"Coping means you're moving on with your life and accepting that he's gone," she pulled the car over, looking sad, "you're torturing yourself. This is the most I've heard you speak in months. I talk to Mrs. Hudson, I know that you never leave your flat. She's so worried about you, and frankly, so am I. Things will get better. Just know that if you ever need to talk, I'm here."

He grabbed the handle for the door and opened it to get out. Molly grabbed his arm, "John, promise me you'll call if you need anything."

"I do need something," he said looking at Molly.

"What is it?" she asked, letting go of his arm.

"I need you to stop fretting over me. Unless you or anyone else can bring him back, I don't need any of you. I have myself and that's all I need," he shut the car door and walked into 221B without looking back to the car.

Mrs. Hudson was sweeping when he got inside. He avoided making eye contact as he started up the stairs. She stopped her chore and looked up at him, "you look like you could use a cuppa, dear."

"I'm fine, Mrs. Hudson," he took a few more steps upstairs.

"I'll bring it up to you," she smiled kindly before walking into her apartment.

He didn't bother shutting the flat door. After his shoes were kicked off, he flopped down on his favorite chair. His phone was still laying on the floor where he tossed it earlier on; it kept beeping with an alert, but he ignored it. There was only one person he wanted a text from, and that was entirely impossible so it didn't matter.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Hudson walked in, holding a tea tray, "here we are," she set it down on a coffee table and took the seat across from him, "I didn't put any sugar in yours. I know how much you hate it," she took her own cup and sat back, "you're soaking wet," she said, frowning, "you need to take better care of yourself," she stood up again and walked back to the loo. When she came back, she was holding a towel, "now dry yourself off before you catch a cold."

"It's just a little rain," he finally looked at her, "you're my land lady, not my mother."

"That's my line, dear," she half-smiled, draping the towel over his shoulders.

That made him almost smile, "thank you," he grabbed his cup and took a sip.

"There's the polite John Watson I know," she sat back down, "so," she picked up her tea again, "how is he?" she asked sheepishly, "I know you went to see him."

"He wasn't very sociable," he looked down at the carpet. His phone beeped again, so he finally reached down and got it. There was one text alert from a number he was unfamiliar with. He opened the message: I'm sorry, John.

"Are you alright, love?" Mrs. Hudson asked, watching him.

"I need to sleep," he lied, standing up.

"Don't you sleep in those wet clothes," she warned, cleaning up the cups, "and, John?"

He glanced at her, "Yes?"

"When's the last time you've eaten? You're looking skinny."

That was a good question. He couldn't remember if he'd eaten the previous day or the day before that, "Um, what day is it?"

"Tuesday, dear. I'll bring you breakfast in the morning," she said, picking up the tray and walking out of the flat, mumbling something to the extent of, "one Sherlock was enough."

After Mrs. Hudson left, he locked himself in the bathroom, sitting on the cold tiled floor. He checked the text on his phone again, to make sure he wasn't seeing things. It still read I'm sorry, John. His mind automatically shot to him.

It couldn't be him. There was no way. Someone was taking the piss. Several more minutes passed before he finally typed out a response: Sorry for what? He sent it, pleased with himself for avoiding the cliched 'who is this?' text.

He leaned against the side of the tub, staring at his phone. It didn't take long for another text, from the same number, to pop up.

For everything.

Vague. His sneaking suspicions were becoming more solidified. It was just like him to be mysterious. Smirking to himself, he sent another message: Prove it.

When over ten minutes passed without another response, he felt his heart sink. He was getting himself excited over nothing. How could someone send text messages from six feet under? It wasn't possible. This was no more than a prank. A cruel, heartless joke.

Slowly, he stood up, putting the phone back in his pocket before leaving the loo. He hated himself for getting the idea in his head that maybe, just maybe his only prayer had been answered. This was all a horrible nightmare. He needed to go to sleep, then he could wake up and everything would be miserable and hopeless again. Things would be normal.

Usually he would go upstairs to his own room, but his feet disobeyed. Before he knew it, he was standing in the middle of his room. The periodic table of elements still adorned the wall, the bed sheets had sat, untouched, for the past six months and the entire room smelled of him.

He stepped out of his trousers and slipped his jumper off, dropping them in the unused laundry bin. After a fleeting moment of hesitation, he crawled into the bed, curling up under the duvet. The familiar scent made him shudder; memories came flooding back. He squeezed his eyes shut, in hopes of preventing more unwanted tears, though, it didn't work.

Before he could work himself up too much, his cellphone pinged with a new message. He opened his eyes and stared at the phone sitting on the nightstand, the light from the screen lit up the dark room. Exhaling, he reached for the phone. The same, familiar unfamiliar number adorned the screen. His heart was racing as he opened the message.

Ok.

No texts were exchanged after that. Something funny was going on, that was for sure. He didn't know who he was texting, but surely whomever it was thought they were being hilarious. Unless it really was him. No, sod that thought. It couldn't be him. He was dead. The end.

Surprisingly, it didn't take him long to fall asleep. He felt strangely comforted sleeping in the bed. Even after six months, the scent of him lingered. It was a peaceful sleep. The first night in months that he genuinely slept without nightmares. He hadn't been this relaxed in so long, but the the relaxation was short-lived.

The sound of the bedroom door creaking woke him up. He sat up quickly and looked around the room, "who's there?"

He knew he wasn't alone. He could feel someone else in the room. It was just a matter of finding them. He turned the lamp on and found the intruder immediately, pressed up against the far wall, staring wide-eyed at him. His jaw dropped, unable to speak.

"Please, please tell me you weren't," the stranger made an obscene wanking motion with his hand, "in my bed."

A nauseous feeling in his stomach was rising up in his throat. He was going to be sick. Without thinking, he leaned over the side of the bed and gagged, hearing the sound of his sick hitting the wood floor. Finally he looked up at the visitor, "Sherlock?" was all he could manage to say.

"Good God, really?" Sherlock stared at the mess on the floor, disgusted, "I heard you weren't coping well, but this is unbelievable. Molly just said you were depressed."

Confused anger was bubbling up inside him, "What?" he asked, blinking through new tears to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing, "You were dead..I...I saw you fall..."

"Surely I can't be a ghost. Ghosts don't exist, John," he cocked an eyebrow, "I never died."

"You jumped though," he was still trying to wrap his mind around everything, "wait," he frowned, "Molly knew you were alive?"

"Of course she did," Sherlock gave one of his classic 'are you stupid?' looks, "Molly and Mycroft."

"What?" he was practically screaming.

"I had to leave the country. Molly helped fake my death, Mycroft helped me go into hiding," he rolled his eyes, as if it was the most obvious answer in the world, "I thought you'd have figured all that out by now. Did you not get any of the clues I left for you?"

"Clues? What clues?"

"I take that as a no," he sighed, "that would explain why you're such a mess. You haven't had a shave in at least two weeks, it's been at least two days since you've showered," he cringed, "and good lord, John, drugs?" he sat on the end of the bed, examining him, "I know you've been smoking cannabis in this flat. I can smell it. Also, judging by the dark circles under your eyes, I'd say it's been at least a month since you've had a decent night of sleep," his expression suddenly softened, "why are you crying?"

He was in such a state of shock that he hadn't even noticed that he was crying, "Jesus, I thought you were dead," he wiped his eyes on the back of his hand, "do you have any idea what I've been going through?" his voice cracked.

"John, I had to disappear," Sherlock watched him, looking pained, "if I didn't, you, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade would have all been in danger."

"What are you talking about?"

"Three gunmen. Three bullets," he frowned, "if I didn't jump, you'd be dead."

"You did it to save me," he stared at him, feeling his heart sink, "why?"

Sherlock stood up, facing away from him, "you're my best friend," he said softly, his voice barely a whisper, "I'm not an emotional person, John. I don't know how to cope with human feelings," he sighed, "I can't comprehend how I feel about you. It confuses me."

"Love," John got out of bed and walked over to his friend, touching his arm, "you understand the chemistry, but feeling it is completely different."

"Is that what it is?" Sherlock mused, "Interesting."

"Interesting?" John almost laughed, "Only you would find a human emotion interesting."

"I've never felt it before. It is interesting," Sherlock turned to look at him, "are you upset with me?"

"Yes," John admitted, still trying to comprehend everything that was happening.

"I'm sorry, John," Sherlock offered one of his charming smiles. His apology was genuine, but there was also something about the smile that made him think that Sherlock wasn't telling him something.

"I missed you," John returned the smile, suddenly wanting to cry again. He wasn't even fully sure if this was a dream or not. There was a nervous feeling in the back of his mind. If this was all just a dream, he didn't want to wake up because it would crush his soul. He didn't want the empty feeling back.

"I apologized, why do you still look sad?" Sherlock looked confused, possibly unsure of what to say or do next.

John shook his head, "I'm still in shock," he looked down at the floor, "also dreading that this is a dream," he pinched the bridge of his nose, sniffling, "if I wake up, I don't think I'll be able to handle being alone again," he stopped talking, still refusing to look at Sherlock, crying softly to himself.

To his surprise, Sherlock wrapped his arms around him. It was the first time he'd ever felt physical affection from him. Without a second thought, he hugged Sherlock back, unable to stop himself from sobbing anymore. Sherlock was tense, but awkwardly rubbed John's back. It was clearly a new experience for both parties.

"I was alone too," Sherlock murmured, "before I met you. I just didn't realize it until I left."

Unwillingly, John let go so he could look at him, "so, you missed me too."

"I suppose I did," his cheeks were flushed. John wasn't sure if it was because of the hug or because of the human emotion thing, but it made him smile, "you're judging me."

"Of course I am," John laughed, "the great Sherlock Holmes actually has emotions. He isn't a machine."

Sherlock chuckled, "I'm glad my confusion is entertaining you," he said sarcastically.

"You love me," John said, teasing before he could say something sarcastic, "shall I put the kettle on?"

"It's one in the morning, John."

"Ah," he looked at the clock. One AM precisely, "I guess I should clean up my sick and get some sleep then," he ducked out of the room to grab paper towels from the kitchen, then quickly wiped up the mess and tossed them into the bin just outside the door, "I'll let you have your bed back, I can sleep on the couch," he turned to leave, "you are staying right?"

"If you've forgiven me," he shrugged out of his coat and hung it over the back of his desk chair.

"I'll see you in the morning then," John smiled, "good night, Sherlock," he grabbed his phone off the nightstand before leaving the room, shutting the door. He felt his way through the dark apartment to the couch, pulling the blanket off his chair beforehand. It was comfortable, and he felt himself drifting off to sleep almost immediately. At least until his phone pinged with a text.

I miss you.

John felt his cheeks burning; he grinned as he typed out a response: I'm only in the parlor.

My room?

His eye widened: Do you need me?

Yes.

Right now?


Yes, John.

John sat up, yawning. Sherlock had a tendency to text when something wasn't as important as he was making it sound so he took his time getting up. Another text came through as he was sitting there: Are you coming? He laughed silently, finally standing and strolling back through the kitchen. Quietly, he opened Sherlock's door and peeked in, "what's wrong?"

"Can you sleep on the other side?" Sherlock asked.

"Why?" John walked into the room, closing the door.

"I told you," Sherlock's voice had a hint of annoyance in it.

"Right," John sat on the bed, "you missed me."

Sherlock grumbled something unintelligible, rolling over to face the wall. John slipped under the covers and laid down, leaving as much space between them as possible. Secretly, he wouldn't have minded a cuddle, but if people found out Sherlock was alive and cuddling with him...they would definitely talk.

"You're thinking too loud, John," Sherlock mumbled, "Why do you care what people say?"

"What?" John had nearly forgotten that Sherlock could read him like a book. Even in the dark, without saying anything, he knew what he was thinking. It should have been creepy, but in a weird way it was comforting.

"You care what people say," Sherlock turned over to face him, "but you put yourself in predicaments like this. You crave the abuse, John."

"I do not," he argued, "how'd you know what I was thinking about?"

"Your catch phrase is 'people will definitely talk.' You're laying in a bed with your supposedly dead male best friend. I'm just using common sense," he exhaled softly, "Did I miss anything?"

John sighed, defeated, "no. You got it all. Brilliant as ever," he closed his eyes, "I'm going to sleep now."

Sherlock was quiet for several minutes before he spoke again, "John?"

"What is it, Sherlock?"

"You were right about what you said earlier."

"About what?" John rolled on his side to look at him.

"When you said I loved you," Sherlock didn't sound like himself, but that made it even more endearing, "I do. You might be the only person I love."

"Are you coming on to me?" John sat up, "I, I don't think I can handle that tonight."

"I can't say that I love you?"

"You don't say things like that. It's not you," John cocked his head to the side, "are you sure you're really you?"

"I was alone for six months. I had a lot of time to think," he sighed, "truth be told, I thought about you more than I care to admit."

John laughed, "I'll take that as a compliment coming from you."

Sherlock sat up, "I'm no good with being affectionate, John. I apologize. What I'm trying to say is that, well," he stumbled over his words, "you always seem to be on my mind and I don't give you the credit you deserve and-"

"I love you too, Sherlock," John interjected, "it's okay, really. You don't need to explain anything," he looked at him. Sherlock's face was dimly by lit the street lamp just outside the window. The contours of his face were perfectly shadowed; something about his expression was pained.

They sat in silence for what seemed like hours. John was used to Sherlock going through phases where he didn't speak at all. This time was different though. Normally when Sherlock was thinking, he was stonefaced. But, right now, though his lips were pursed and expressionless, his eyes told another story.

"You look troubled," John said, finally.

"I'm not," Sherlock said immediately.

"You are," John argued, "tell me what's wrong. You made me come all the way in here. I know there's something bothering you."

Sherlock was thoughtful for a minute before he spoke, "Do you know why I came back, John?"

"Tell me."

"Mycroft told me you were dead," his voice was a whisper.

"He did what?" John stared at Sherlock, "Why?"

"Mycroft said you killed yourself. Of course, I didn't believe him, but I had to be sure, so I texted," he exhaled loudly, "I risked everything to come back here. Now that I'm here, I don't think I can leave. I rarely feel any kind of attachment toward another person, but I can't even begin to describe how I felt when my brother told me that you..." his voice trailed off, unable to finish the sentence, "it felt like time had stopped. At that moment, I wished I was dead," He leaned forward, burying his face into his knees, sitting in an awkward fetal position.

John had never seen Sherlock look so vulnerable. It was unsettling. Hestitantly, he scooted closer and put his hand on Sherlock's back, "I'd be lying if I said that I didn't consider suicide after you jumped," he mumbled, "but my refusal to accept your death kept me going. I'm not saying I handled everything as well as I could have, but in the end, you came back and now everything's okay. Right?"

"For now," Sherlock turned his head to look at John, "but I do need to figure out how to remain invisible. It's too risky for me to show up again. Moriarty is dead, but I'm still in danger. Mycroft is going to be furious when he finds out I'm here," he smirked, "that alone makes coming back worth it."

------------

"John?" Mrs. Hudson's voice made John jump, "John are you up here? I brought you some breakfast, dear."

John sat up and looked beside him. Sherlock was awake, watching him silently, "what do I do?" John mouthed, feeling a twinge of panic hit him.

"John, dear. Where are you?" her voice came closer to their hiding place, "you have until the kettle boils until I wake you up myself, John," she called, a little louder.

Sherlock sat up and pushed the blankets down. He was only weaing pajama trousers, "I'll handle it," he whispered, stretching for a moment before strolling over to the door.

"You're just going to walk up to her?" John asked incredulously, his eyes wide and his voice barely a whisper.

"Yes," Sherlock cocked an eyebrow, "she won't tell anyone I'm here."

"Don't give her a heart attack," John got out of bed and grabbed his white jumper from the previous night out of the laundry bin.

Sherlock slowly opened the door and looked out into the kitchen. Mrs. Hudson was busy at the stove making tea. He turned and grinned at John, putting his index finger to his lips to tell John to be quiet. John watched him creep up behind Mrs. Hudson; he knew this was either going to be extremely funny or extremely bad.

"Good morning, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock said nonchalantly, just a few inches from her ear.

Mrs. Hudson's reaction included a shriek and a series of hard slaps across Sherlock's chest, as a string of profanities were yelled before she realized what was going on. Sherlock's reaction, however, made John double over laughing; he yelped in pain, but his voice cracked as he yelled out. As if the feminine cry wasn't funny enough, he was coughing and whinging from the beating like a child, "Why'd you slap me? Jesus," he whined, his voice about an octave higher than usual.

"Sherlock?" she was finally processing everything, "You're alive," she steadied herself on the kitchen table, "I need to sit down."

John rushed and pulled up a chair for her, "are you alright?" he asked, helping her sit down.

"Just a little surprised, dear," she said breathlessly, looking at Sherlock, "well, come here," she held out her arms for a hug. Sherlock's smile returned as he wrapped his arms around her. She squeezed him for a moment before she clapped him upside the head, "if you ever do that to us again, I'll throw you off a building myself, Sherlock Holmes," she scolded, "don't you ever put us through that again!"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Hudson," he looked down at the linoleum floor, "please forgive me. I can't explain to you right now."

The kettle began whistling, making all three of them jump, "oh dear, I've forgotten the tea," Mrs. Hudson stood up, "you two go sit down in the parlor. I'll bring in breakfast this one time. But, don't get used to it. I'm your land lady-"

"Not our servant," John and Sherlock chorused, before laughing and taking their respective seats.

"So, what's the plan for you being alive now, Sherlock?" John asked, crossing his legs.

"Are we keeping you a secret, dear?" Mrs. Hudson chimed in from the kitchen.

"Yes, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock called, before fixing his attention on John, "I don't know what the plan is. Mycroft hasn't found out I'm here yet, but he will. Soon," Sherlock's eyes darted to his phone, "most likely today."

"Then what'll we do?" John spoke softly to avoid Mrs. Hudson overhearing.

"We'll do whatever needs to be done to keep you and me safe," Sherlock smiled, "I wouldn't worry about it until Mycroft-" His sentence was cut short by his phone ringing. Sighing he reached over and picked it up, "That was fast," he mused, answering the called, "Hello, Mycroft," he listened, rolling his eyes, "what an idiotic question. Where do you think I am?" he sighed, listening again, "Brilliant deduction. Would you like an award?" he drawled, looking bored as he paused to listen, "we'll figure it out. Bye," he ended the call and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"What's wrong, dear?" Mrs. Hudson looked at Sherlock as she walked into the parlor and set down the tray of tea and muffins.

"I need to think," Sherlock got up and walked into his room, slamming the door without another word.

"He hasn't changed a bit," Mrs. Hudson chuckled and sat down, "have a muffin, John. You must be hungry."

"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," he said, looking toward Sherlock's door, "something's wrong," he mumbled to himself.

"What was that?" she asked, taking a sip of her tea.

"Nothing," he brought his attention back to breakfast, "did you make these?" he grabbed a muffin and took a bite.

"Do you think I would feed you boys store bought muffins?" she feigned offence.

"Silly question on my part," John laughed, nibbling on his muffin. He kept glancing over to Sherlock's door. Something happened. It had to have. He wasn't sure what, but Sherlock was certainly bothered by it.

After two muffins, a cuppa and some friendly banter, Mrs. Hudson went back downstairs to her flat, leaving John sitting in the parlor alone. Sherlock still haven't come out. Another ten minutes passed, still silence. Finally, John got up and went back to Sherlock's room, knocking softly on the door, "Sherlock?"

"I'm thinking," he replied, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"What happened?" John asked, determined to be persistant.

"Let me think," Sherlock sighed irritably.

"Sherlock, I can help. Tell me what happened," John opened the door, "I could see it in your eyes that something's wrong. What did Mycroft say?"

Slowly, Sherlock turned to look at John and spoke in a whisper, "Moriarty is alive."
Author's Note: It's a little sad...and not that good...but here's my first ever Sherlock (BBC) fic. x
----------------------------------------

"Goodbye, John."


The words reverberated in his mind, constant reminders that he was alone. Six months had passed like a blur. He no longer wished to associate with anyone. He had no reason to. Everyone he knew only made him remember. Fond memories now brought more pain than he ever thought imaginable.
The first couple of months were the hardest. Between the well-wishers and the media, the attention never ended. Eventually people stopped bothering him. There's only so much to say to someone who no longer responded.

The last time anyone spoke to him was weeks ago. Mrs. Hudson had been nothing but kind, but he pushed her away without saying anything at all.

"You can't sit around and mope forever, love," she said, a sad smile adorning her weathered face, "just think of what Sherlock would say if he saw you in this state."

He stared at the wall. Mrs. Hudson was sat in front of him, but he wasn't looking at her. He saw right through her, as if she wasn't there at all. The name made his stomach churn.

She sighed, touching his hand, "I'm here if you ever need to talk, John," she added, taking her time getting up- flinching as she stepped the wrong way with her wonky hip. She offered another smile before walking out of the flat, whispering, "poor man," to herself as she crept downstairs, shutting her door softly.


It was Sunday. Or perhaps it was Wednesday. He'd lost track of the days because days no longer mattered. Nothing did.

Since he came back to Baker Street, the flat hadn't been touched. Everything was almost exactly how it was that last night. He couldn't bring himself to clean out anything. Just in case.

He pulled out his phone, looking at the sent text messages over the past six months. All of them to a recipient who would never see them.

Found your secret stash today. Hid them where you won't find them. -JW

You're right. Deerstalkers are ugly. -JW

Took sugar in my coffee today. -JW

Thought about patching up the bullet holes in the wall. But you get bored easily. -JW

It's my birthday today. Stayed in and had a cuppa. -JW

Had to clean the fridge today. Your thumbs were smelling up the place. -JW


He stared blankly at his sent text messages. There were dozens upon dozens of them, all without responses. He didn't know why he sent any of them, he just felt like he had to. It would make everything seem normal.

An idea struck him at the moment. Maybe, just maybe, if he begged, he could have his best friend back. It was worth a try. He started a new message, typing quickly: I know you're not dead. Stop being so bloody selfish and come home. -JW

A second later an auto-reply message popped up: Failed to deliver message. Phone number no longer in service.

For a minute, he felt like he was going to be physically sick. He chewed his lip, feeling a lump rising up in his throat. He'd sent countless texts, but this was the first time any kind of response came back. His eyes were blurring with tears as he threw his phone across the room. The reality of everything was sinking in.

His friend was gone. His best friend in the world was never coming back. Sherlock Holmes was dead.

Silently, he stood up and grabbed his coat, stuffing a small torch in his pocket. The sun was setting and the light was fading fast, but that didn't matter. Night time just meant another day had passed. One day closer to death. His eyes strayed to a scarf that had been thrown on the table. It was Sherlock's. Molly had washed and given it to him to hold onto for sentimental reasons. He hadn't touched it since.

After a moment of hesitation, he grabbed the scarf and wrapped it around his neck before walking out of the flat. He shut the door and tromped down the stairs. Mrs. Hudson cracked her door and peeked out, "you look flushed, dear. Everything alright?"

He stopped and looked at her. His cheeks were still wet with tears. He opened his mouth to speak, but decided he had nothing to say so he turned and left without another word.

After hailing a taxi, he mumbled the name of the cemetery he hadn't dared visit since the funeral. The drive seemed to take hours, but time stopped when the cab pulled up to the gates. He exhaled softly, paying the driver and exiting the car silently. The sound of it's engine faded as he stood, staring into desolate lot dotted with headstones.

His body took over at that point, not matter how much his mind and heart protested. He made his way to the large tree in the back of the cemetery. As he got closer, there was just enough light left in the sky to show off the gold lettering of the shiny black stone. Sherlock Holmes.

He sat down on the damp grass, his reflection on the marker sending a chill down his spine. Nothing was said for a long time. When he finally spoke, it was completely dark except for the torch he'd turned on and stood up in the grass next to him, "Sorry I haven't come to visit. I've been busy," he said softly, almost choking on his words.

A soft breeze rustled the leaves overhead. The air smelled like rain, "I guess I haven't really been that busy," he swallowed hard, "it's been hard to cope. I've got poor Mrs. Hudson worried. She says talking to me is like talking to a wall," he almost smiled, "she misses you."

He sighed, "I think everyone misses you. Even if they don't admit it."

A twig snapping caught his attention, he looked around quickly, before dismissing it. He looked down at his knees, "I think I miss you more than anyone though," he whispered, "I've never been more alone. If you could just do that one last favor for me and not be dead, I'd appreciate it more than you'll ever know," he felt the tears coming, so he grabbed his torch and stood up, "I'd better get going. Wouldn't want anyone catching me in a cemetery at night, people might talk," he half-laughed, touching the top of the headstone, "I know you're not an emotional person, but, I love you. Yeah," he nodded to himself, "I'm still at Baker Street if you ever need anything," he turned, pausing for a minute to collect himself before walking out of the cemetery.

When he turned to walk away, a dark figure watched him from behind the tree, "I miss you too, John," he whispered when John was out of earshot, before disappearing back into the darkness.

Fan Fiction Post #44 {Noelian. Part 3/?}

Author's Note: Smut. Read at your own risk. Also, I suck at writing smut...so forgive me. Don't be too critical. It's one of my first smut bits. Haha. x
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The gentle caress of Noel's finger tips on his cheeks gave Julian goosebumps. He shivered, making Noel laugh as he pressed his body against Julian's, "what do you want to do?" Noel asked in a whisper.

"I dunno," Julian draped his arm around Noel's waist, playing with the hem of his shirt, "do you have any ideas?"

"I can think of a few," Noel snickered, "your bed is plenty big enough for activities."

"Activities?" Julian mused, tickling the small of Noel's back, "I don't fancy finger painting here. It's a new duvet."

"Well there goes my plan," Noel rolled his eyes, pulling the duvet up a little, "I was hoping to paint all over your pasty white arse."

"You must have the most bizarre sex life," Julian chuckled.

"It's because I'm a good kisser. I can get away with anything in bed," Noel said, leaning in so his lips were just about brushing against Julian's.

"I don't believe that," Julian breathed, resisting the urge to kiss Noel. His breath smelled like polo mints, "prove it."

"I rather like teasing you," Noel murmured, curling his hand around the nape of Julian's neck.

"Tart," Julian pecked Noel's lips, "I can play that game too. Goodnight," Julian sat up so he could turn over and lay down facing the wall.

Noel made a "hmph" sound, rolling onto his other side, "I have a headache anyway," he muttered, yanking the blanket so he  could cocoon himself.

"Don't be like that," Julian sighed.

"You try kicking a coke habit and be cheerful."

"I've heard orgasms get rid of headaches," Julian turned over, pulling Noel close to him again. He pressed a kiss against his neck to distract Noel from thinking about his addiction.

"Yeah?" Noel giggled as Julian slid his hand under his shirt, "never knew that. Maybe I'll have to try that," he let Julian take his shirt off. The skin on skin contact as the shirt was discarded on the floor sent a jolt of excitement through his body.

Julian squeezed Noel's hip to get him to turn over, "I've heard kissing also helps," Julian said brushing his lips against Noel's jaw, down to his neck, smiling when Noel shuddered.

"Maybe you should kiss me then," Noel whispered, his voice cracking as Julian flicked his tongue against his collar bone.

"I think I can do that."

Julian kissed him without any hesitation. Noel twisted his fingers into Julian's hair, holding him close and making happy sounds as their tongues met. Frenching had never been Noel's favorite, but Julian was surprisingly good at kissing. It never ceased to amaze him. Every kiss with Julian was like a first kiss over and over again.

Noel pressed his hips against Julian's, feeling himself getting hard as the snogging became desperate and hungry with lots of tongue and occasional lip-nibbling. Julian moaned softly when Noel started grinding against him. Every movement seemed to be made in perfect unison.

What seemed like an eternity had passed when Julian's hand found it's way to the tie on Noel's pajama trousers, "take 'em off," he said gruffly, untying them.

Noel slipped them off to the bottom of the bed without question before tugging at Julian's, "you better not be wearing any boxers," he mumbled, smiling to himself as Julian kicked his pajamas down to join Noel's somewhere in the bed.

Julian's hard-on brushed against Noel's making him whine. He reached down, running his fingers down Julian's length, "what do you want me to do?" he asked in a low, seductive voice, attempting to sound sexy when he was feeling unsure for the first time. They'd snogged plenty of times, but this was the first time they'd ever been nude together.

"Stop talking," Julian kissed him again, swatting Noel's hand away so he could wrap his fingers around Noel's member.

Noel tangled his hands in Julian's hair, moaning into his mouth. Julian stroked Noel lightly, his hand barely touching him, teasing. He loved making Noel beg, although he'd never openly admit it. Julian stopped only to kick the duvet down, so he could stroke Noel properly.

Noel rolled onto his back, as Julian picked up where he left off, his hand barely touching him, "and you call me a tease," he whined.
Julian smirked, "you are a tease," he murmured, flicking his tongue against the tip of Noel's cock.

"Fuck me, Ju," Noel pleaded, "please," his breathing was getting heavy and he words were becoming incoherent.

"Is that what you want?" Julian asked, finally wrapping his lips around Noel's cock.

"Mmm...uh huh," Noel's voice seemed to go up an octave, "Ju, fuuuck," he groaned happily.

Julian sat up and reached over Noel, opening the drawer in his nightstand, "I think I have a johnny in here," he mumbled, feeling around, "ah, here is it," he kissed Noel's cheek, "have you, er, done this before?" he asked, his awkwardness finally surfacing, "I, uh, don't want to...hurt you."

"Yeah," Noel whispered, watching Julian tear open the square package.

"You'll tell me to stop if you need to, right?" Julian knew his questioning was a mood killer, but he'd always rather be safe than sorry. Especially when it involved Noel.

Noel sighed, "yeah," he was getting impatient.

"I just need to make sure," Julian tossed the wrapper on the floor, "ah, it's already got lube on it."

Noel burst out laughing, "jeez, Ju, are you sure you ain't a virgin?" he sat up, taking the slimy rubber out of Julian's hand, massaging it onto Julian's cock, still chuckling to himself.

"I've had sex with women," Julian breathed, "just haven't done it this way."

"With a man," Noel said, kissing along Julian's jaw, "I'm your first," he smiled against his cheek, his nose brushing against the stubble.

"Yeah," Julian admitted sheepishly, "what do you want me to do?" he hated himself for asking so many questions, but he read somewhere that communication in bed was essential to a great sex life.

"Use your fingers first," Noel whispered, straddling Julian's lap. He grabbed Julian's hand, sucking on his index and middle fingers for a second before winking, "there you go," his lips were on Julian's immediately, kissing hungrily as Julian reached around, "it's okay," he mumbled into the kiss, noticing Julian's hesitance.

Slowly, Julian slipped one finger inside of Noel, "alright?" he asked, feeling Noel's muscles tighten.

"Keep going," Noel murmured breathlessly, scattering kisses down Julian's neck as he grabbed Julian's wrist, guiding him. After a minute, a second finger was added; Noel let go of his hand, letting Julian continue, "oh, yeah," his voice cracked, "don't stop."
Julian moved his fingers in and out, grinning to himself as Noel whined his name. It wasn't as strange as he was expecting it to be because it was almost like being with a woman, except not. In a way, he was starting to prefer it- especially since Noel's reactions where making him even harder. Experimentally, he curled his fingers, to get even more of a rise out of Noel. It worked, but then Noel stopped him.

"Fuck me," he whined, spitting in his hand and stroking Julian over the johnny.

"How?"

"I want to look at you," Noel sat up on his knees, "let me," he positioned himself and carefully guided Julian inside of him, exhaling loudly as he took him in all the way. He rocked his hips against Julian's, holding himself up with one hand, and draping the other around the nape of Julian's neck.

Julian held onto Noel's hips, matching his thrusts. Beads of sweat gathered on their foreheads as the pace picked up along with their breathing. Noel babbled incoherently, occasionally slipping in an "oh," "fuck," and "Julian" into his sex banter.
The tightness from Noel's muscles, clenching around Julian's cock was unlike anything he'd ever experienced. He was getting close; with one hand he started waking Noel, hard and fast, matching the pace of the thrusting.

"'m gonna," Noel whined, "Julian," with a long moan, he came on Julian's knuckles, pressing a sloppy kiss on his mouth.

Julian followed shortly after, feeling Noel's muscles pulsing around him as the warm, tingly sensation of an orgasm spread through his body. Everything went hazy as he moaned Noel's name into the kiss.

Noel flopped down on the bed, breathing softly, "I love you."

After discarding the johnny, Julian laid next to him, letting Noel snuggle against him, "that was amazing," he brushed Noel's wet fringe out of his face and kissed his forehead, tasting sweat, "I'll never love anyone as much as I love you right now."

"You mean that?" Noel asked, resting his head on Julian's chest.

"Mm," he murmured, pulling the duvet over them.

"This might be the best day of my life," Noel sighed happily.

"Want to know mine?" Julian asked, tracing little hearts on the small of Noel's back with his index finger.

"Tell me," Noel yawned.

"Remember the first night we spoke?"

"Mhm," Noel's grunt was barely audible.

"That's my best day," Julian closed his eyes, "because I met you."

"And you got snogsies," Noel added quietly.

"That too," Julian chuckled airily, "do you want to sleep now, sweetheart?"

Noel nodded, "g'night Ju."

"Sweet dreams, little man."
Author's Note: This is part two to the fic I posted the other day. Enjoy! x
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Barely a half hour had passed before a soft knocking came on the door. Julian strolled across the parlor and opened it. Noel peeked up at him through his fringe, not quite making eye contact.

"Hey Ju," he said quietly, walking into the flat.

Mike got up and took a few steps toward Noel, "Noel, I-"

"Don't," Noel said, "I should be thanking you."

Mike shook his head, "I shouldn't have yelled at you," he held out his arms for a hug.
Noel wrapped his arms around his little brother, holding him close, "'m sorry," he murmured, closing his eyes. Mike didn't want to let go.

"That's what I like to see," Julian said, smiling, "shall I put the kettle on?"

"Please," Noel said, finally letting go of Mike to take a seat on the couch.

"The mugs are in the cabinet on the right of the sink," Mike said, sitting down next to Noel.

Julian nodded and walked into the kitchen. Noel looked at Mike, half-smiling, "I thought you didn't care for Julian."

"He's actually a really nice bloke," Mike admitted, "we bonded today."

"Bonded?" Noel cocked an eyebrow.

"I dunno how it happened. We were talking about you, and now I understand what you see in him," Mike scooted closer to Noel to rest his head on his arm, "he really loves you, Noel."

Noel put his arm around Mike, "I know he does," he said, sighing.

"Do you love him?"

Noel was thoughtful for a moment before he spoke, "not sure if there's a word for how I feel about Ju. Love is definitely a part of it though."

"Hey, Noel?" Miked asked, looking up at his brother.

"Hm?"

"Are you going to stop hurting yourself? Julian and I are really worried about you," Mike said softly, "I mean, I won't force you to do anything," he added quickly.

Noel finally made eye contact with Mike. His cerulean eyes were dull, tired and rimmed with dark circles and smudged kohl. He looked frail and exhausted; totally unlike the Noel that Mike knew and loved, "I'm going to try," he said, glancing over to Julian who'd just walked into the room with tea.

"Noel," he handed a cup to him, "more sugar than tea, right?"

"You're a diamond, Ju," Noel smiled, taking the mug and putting it down on the table.

"And, Mike," Julian handed another mug to Mike, before putting his own cup down on the table, "I put cream and sugar in it. I hope that's okay."

"It's perfect, cheers," Mike took the cup.

Julian sat on the other side of Noel, who automatically let go of Mike to curl up next to the larger man, "I couldn't help but overhear that you're going to try and get clean," Julian put his arm around Noel, "I have the guest room at my flat if you'd be interested. It'll be easier if you're away from temptation. Just temporarily."

"You'd let me stay with you?" Noel asked, his voice cracking. Mike knew Noel was going to cry.

"Of course," Julian brushed Noel's fringe out of his face, "you're welcome to stay as long as you need to."

"Can I stay with you tonight?" Noel's eyes were brimming with tears.

"We'd have to stop at your place to get some of your things," Julian wiped a tear from Noel's cheek with his thumb, "but I don't see why you couldn't crash with me tonight."

"I love you," Noel tilted Julian's face down so he could kiss him.

Mike chewed his lip; the entire situation was well awkward. He felt like a third wheel in a weird way. It didn't bother him that Noel was kissing Julian in the least, but he still wanted to get out of the situation. So he cleared his throat, "I hate to be a horrible host, but I kind of have some errands to run."

"Oh, Mike," Noel jumped, "I'm sorry. I, er, I..."

"Forgot I was here?" Mike smirked, "I figured."

"Sorry little brother," Noel ruffled Mike's hair.

"We should probably get going anyway," Julian got up, "it's getting late and Noel still needs stuff at his flat."

Noel nodded, "see you soon, yeah?" he stood up, pulling Mike up so he could hug him, "I love you."

"Love you too," Mike mumbled into Noel's jumper, "call me if you need anything, okay?"

"Will do," Noel let Mike go and walked toward the door.

"Don't be a stranger, Mike," Julian pulled Mike into a one-armed hug.

Mike wrapped his arms around him, "thank you," he whispered.

"Anytime," Julian gave Mike one last squeeze before following Noel out of the apartment.

When they were gone, Mike sat back down and sighed happily. He knew Noel was going to be okay because Julian would look after him. Propping his legs up on the table, Mike finally relaxed for the first time in months. Everything was going to be fine, he thought, thanks to Julian.

* * *

"Your hands are freezing," Julian complained playfully when Noel grabbed his hand once they left Mike's flat.

"You say that every time I hold your hand, you berk," Noel laughed, "I don't see you letting go though."

"I'm afraid if I let go, your fingers will get frostbite and fall off."

"Nice excuse," Noel walked close to Julian, brushing up against him every chance he got, "I really don't need to go to my flat. Can I just nick a pair of your pajama trousers for tonight?"

"We'll have to go in the morning then. You're not stealing all my clothes," Julian laced his fingers with Noel's.

"Deal," Noel grinned, "but we'll see about stealing your clothes. I might have a go at your closet. I bet you have some genius jumpers."

"I'm glad you're already making yourself at home," Julian chuckled, reaching into his pocket for his key as they walked up the steps to his flat. He unlocked the door and Noel strolled in, looking around. Julian shut the door, watching Noel disappear down the hall to where the bedrooms were.

After a moment of silence, Noel screamed, "Ju!"

Julian ran down the hallway and looked in the guest room, Noel jumped him, "what is it, little man?"

"I'm not staying in there," he whined, clinging to Julian.

"Why not?" Julian tried to see what was wrong with the room.

"There was a spider," he said sheepishly, looking up at him, "can I stay in your room?"

"You want to stay in my room because of a spider?" Julian raised an eyebrow.

"Please?" Noel looked like he wanted to cry, "I really don't like spiders."

"They don't eat much," Julian said, stroking the small of Noel's back with his thumb, "you'll be fine," he was trying to get a rise out of Noel, even though he knew that Noel would end up in his bed no matter what he said.

"But they're shifty little creatures. What if it crawls on me?"

"Make friends with it," Julian suggested.

"I don't trust nothing with more than two eyes," Noel frowned, "and if you make me stay in there, I'll just sneak into your room anyway."

"I have a perfectly good couch if you're frightened of a little spider," Julian was just being cheeky this point.

"I thought you loved me."

Julian sighed, smiling, "you can stay in my room tonight. But don't make it a habit."

"I promise I'll behave," Noel winked.

"Winking makes your lie much more obvious," Julian pulled Noel closer, "or at least I hope that was a lie."

"Maybe it was," Noel pressed a kiss on Julian's neck, "do you want me to behave?"

"Not particularly," Julian murmured, moving his hands a bit lower so he could grope Noel's arse.

"Didn't think so."
Author's Note: I was originally going to write Mike/Julian...but the Julian in my head is so in love with Noel, it's unbelievable. Haha. x
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"I'm only saying this because I love you, Noel," Mike said, raising his voice ever-so-slightly, "you need help."

Noel folded his legs up against his chest, hugging his knees, "I'm an adult," he mumbled.

"Age-wise, yeah," Mike stood up, "but if you're dumb enough to do shit like ketamine and coke, you really can't be all that smart," he folded his arms, feeling his anger peaking. Mike loved his older brother, but after Noel's breakdown, everything had gotten worse. Noel went days without checking in and when he did check in, he was off his tits. Mike hoped that the breakdown would help Noel realize that he can't keep putting himself through all of that, but clearly it only made things worse.

"You're not my mum," Noel narrowed his eyes, "why don't you just let me do what I want?"

Mike rounded on him, "because you're fucking killing yourself!" he yelled, "Do you have any idea how scared I am, Noel? I never know when I'll hear from you...if I hear from you at all," he stared at Noel, "I don't want to get a call saying someone's found you dead," he closed his eyes, trying to compose himself.

"Stop being so damn overprotective," Noel snapped as he got up and crossed Mike's parlor, stopping at the door, "I can take care of myself."

"So that's in then? You're just going to walk out on me for giving a shit?" Mike asked, his characteristically soft voice was back.

Noel grabbed the doorknob.

"If you leave, I swear I'll never speak to you again, Noel."

After a moment of hesitation, Noel opened the door and walked out, shutting it softly behind him.

Mike felt like he was going to be sick. For the first time in his life, he felt a deep, unadulterated hatred for his brother. There was only one person he could think to call, and he didn't think twice about calling him.

"Julian, it's Mike," he said when the  voice mail picked up, sounding as calm as he could possibly manage, "I couldn't think of anyone else to call. I just," he sighed, "Noel and I got into a fight and he took off. If you're in the area, could you stop by my flat? I'm home all night and tomorrow...I really need someone to talk to," he hung up his phone and laid down on his couch, staring at the wall. Every possible bad situation was running through his head and there was nothing he could do about it. As upset as he was, he hoped Noel was going to come to his senses and realize how dangerous his lifestyle was.

* * *

"I really appreciate you coming," Mike handed Julian a hot cup of tea, taking a seat next to him, "I didn't know who else to call. You know Noel better than I do."

"I know he'll come around," Julian stirred his tea to cool it off, "he just doesn't like confrontation."

"I know," Mike sighed, "I lost my temper..."

"You had good reason to, Mike," Julian sipped his tea, "I didn't have the nerve to tell Noel how worried I was about him and this lifestyle of his. I'm glad one of us finally said something," he smiled sadly.

"But God only knows what he's going to do now," Mike leaned back into the couch, closing his eyes, "he's fucked off with me and has access to hard drugs," he turned his head and looked at Julian, "you don't think he'd do anything dumber than he already has, do you?"

"I don't know," Julian put his cup on the side table, "Noel likes attention so, if anything, he's probably gone to pout," he scratched his beard, "but, Noel's also unpredictable so for all we know, he could be blowing lines in a bathroom stall somewhere."

Mike covered his face with a pillow, hugging it. He didn't want to cry in front of Julian, but everything happening was hitting him all at once- the flashbacks of Noel's breakdown, the fight he'd just had with him and the sudden realization that Noel could actually die. The tears were unavoidable. At least he had the pillow to hide his hideous crying face, he thought.

"Oh, don't cry," Julian pulled Mike into a side hug, "I didn't mean to upset you."

Mike sniffled and lowered the pillow to look at Julian, "I'm sorry," he wiped his eyes on his sleeve, "I've never been so scared in my life."

Julian got up, "stand up," Mike gave Julian a quizzical expression as he stood up. Immediately Julian wrapped his arms around the smaller man, hugging him close, "you need a real hug, little one," he mumbled, kissing the top of Mike's head.

Until the moment, Mike never knew what Noel saw in Julian. Mike always thought that Julian was stand-offish and grumpy, but now, he didn't seem so bad. There was definitely something about the man, Mike thought, something irresistible that he couldn't quite put his finger on. It must have been how Noel felt.

When Julian let go, he smiled at Mike, "feel any better?"

Mike nodded sheepishly, "I know why my brother likes you so much. You're a sweet man, Barratt."

"You sound surprised," Julian laughed.

"I am," Mike admitted, "Noel would talk about you for hours and I would just roll my eyes. But now I don't think you're half bad."

"I'm glad you're warming up to me," he ruffled Mike's hair, "I know it'll mean a lot to Noel."

"Noel hates me."

"I don't think he does," Julian sat back down, "he loves you more than anything. He told me."

"Why'd he walk out then?" Mike frowned, taking a seat next to Julian. Sitting closer to him than before.

"Noel doesn't like reality. He hates when reality hits him in the face. It scares him," Julian sighed, "his mind is a magnificent place, but it scares me because he can't seen to differentiate between his made up world and the real world."

"You think that's why he got into drugs?" Mike asked softly.

"They alter your mind into thinking things are better than they actually are," Julian looked at Mike, "Noel doesn't like seeing the negativity in the world. It kills him to see wars and general hatred. It kills him to know that the world will never be a happy place," he said sadly, "I wish everyone was as kindhearted as your brother. The world would be a better place."

"You really love him, don't you?"

Julian smiled to himself, "love doesn't even begin to cover the feelings I have for him. He's my whole world."

Mike felt himself blushing. Never had he heard anyone speak so fondly of someone. He couldn't help smiling. If he could choose anyone for Noel, there was no doubt in his mind that it would be Julian. Unable to contain himself, he hugged Julian.

"You're warming up to me pretty quick," he chuckled.

"If you and Noel ever end up together, I would be the happiest man in the world," Mike said, "he doesn't deserve anything less."

"That means a lot, Mike. Thank you," Julian leaned down and kissed Mike on the cheek before standing up again, "I think I'll give Noel a call now to check in. He knows better than to ignore me, because I'll go find him."

* * *

Julian held his phone to his ear, frowning to himself, "it's going to voice mail," he mumbled, ending the call and automatically dialing again. Mike watched him call Noel about five times before he left a message, "Noel, sweetheart, you must be very busy to be ignoring me right now," Julian kept his voice level, but he was clenching the first of his free hand, "so I suggest you call me back as soon as possible. You know I'll come find you. Please, Noel. Even a text. Anything," his eyes didn't look angry anymore, something changed; they looked kinder, sadder even, "I love you, little man," he added softly, hanging up.

"Do you think he'll call you?" Mike asked, watching Julian type out a text message.

"I'm sending him a text too. He can't ignore me," Julian glanced up, "I probably seem like an overprotective girlfriend," he chuckled.

"You have to prod Noel to get him to do anything when he's mad," Mike rolled his eyes, "he can be so stubborn. It's a Fielding thing. I'm just as bad."

"Oh, trust me, I know," Julian looked at his phone, "do you think 'if you don't call or text me in the next ten minutes I'm calling mumma Fielding' is too much of a threat?"

Mike laughed, " our mum can be brutal. I'll be surprised if he doesn't call the minute you send that."

"Good," Julian sent the message and shut his phone, "care to make a wager on how long it takes for him to call?"

"It won't be long. He wouldn't want to piss off-" Mike was interrupted by Julian's phone ringing.

Julian winked and answered his phone, "Alright?" he asked, frowning almost immediately, "Watch your tone with me," he growled, walking into the kitchen.

Mike strained to hear the conversation, but Julian was speaking in a low tone, making it extremely difficult. It was so quiet that Mike jumped when Julian raised his voice.

"Don't you fucking yell at me," Julian said, on the verge of yelling himself, "Well, I support Mike for telling you like it is!" he hit his fist on something; Mike assumed it was the counter, "I'm not angry with you," Julian said, sighing, "dammit, Noel, I'm worried about you and so is Mike," he paused for a moment, listening, "he's in the other room. He called me. I've never seen anyone so upset in my life," Julian walked back out into the parlor, "don't apologize to me. Mike's the one you're hurting," he ran his fingers through his hair, "oh, no. You're not doing it on the phone. Get your perfect little ass over here right now and say you're sorry," Julian chuckled, his cheeks flushing red, "yeah, yeah, yeah. Just come on over. I'll stay," he smiled, "I love you too. See you soon," he hung up and glanced at Mike, "he's, er, on his way."

Mike stared at him, gaping, unsure of what to say. After a minute or so of an extremely awkward silence, Mike spoke, "what the bloody hell just happened?"

"Noel was pitching a fit, so I raised my voice," Julian said nonchalantly, "it works every time. He's like a little kid, and I don't mean it in a bad way," Julian was thoughtful for a moment, "he's just child-like and sometimes you have to treat him like a child to make him respond. No, that was rubbish," he chewed his lip, thinking, "Noel doesn't like people being angry with him, so if you yell at him, he'll try to remedy the situation right away. If that makes any sense."

Mike nodded, "that's exactly right," he half-smiled, "I remember one time when Noel first started going to your comedy gigs, he would come home so upset because he thought you hated him."

Julian cocked an eyebrow, "he sat in the front alone, laughing at every joke like I was God's gift to comedy," he closed his eyes, smiling, "after my set, he wouldn't come up and chat with me, he'd just watch me, grinning. It was well creepy, so I usually just left."

Mike laughed, "did he really?"

"He did," Julian chuckled, "one night I finally sat down at his table after I'd performed and asked him if he'd like a beer. Never saw anyone smile and blush like that in my entire life. He was so excited," his smile widened, "I don't think I'll ever forget the first night we spoke as long as I live."

"Must've been a good night," Mike hugged a pillow, trying to resist the urge to laugh. They were having a good old fashioned girl talk, and it was funny to see Julian turning into a teenage girl as he talked about Noel.

"It was the best night of my life," Julian sat down next to Mike.

"Was it?"

Julian nodded, "because I met Noel."

"Oh, just marry him already," Mike joked.

"I would in an instant."

Fan Fiction Post #41 {Howince Part 5/5}

Author's Note: This is the fifth and final part of the Howince fic I've been working on. Read the other parts first. And, although there's nothing too intense in this last bit, read at your own risk. x
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The night in the alley seemed to be only a distant memory. It had been six months and Vince was back to his old, bubbly self, just in time for his birthday.

"Howard!" Vince called from the loo, "Have you seen my white go go boots?"

"Under your bed," Howard laughed to himself, spooning sugar into one of the two cups of tea he'd just poured. He walked down the hall to the bathroom and knocked softly with his foot, "tea?" he asked.

Vince opened the door, grinning. His hair was straight and he was wearing his new blue, sequined, leopard-print onesie. He hadn't done his makeup yet, but Howard already knew that it would amazing, "thanks Howard," he let Howard in and took his cup.

"You look," Howard weighed his words before he spoke, "stunning."

"I ain't even done my makeup," Vince took a sip of his tea, leaning against the counter.

"You don't need it," Howard set his cup down, "you're naturally beautiful."

"Old charmer," Vince put his cup next to Howard's, "I need to look extra nice cos it's my birthday."

"Oh, is it your birthday?" Howard smirked, "I'd nearly forgotten," he said sarcastically. Vince had mentioned his birthday at least twenty times a day for the past month. Howard had been planning Vince's birthday for even longer. Naboo and Bollo were in on the surprise, and to Howard's own surprise, neither had yapped off to Vince. It was going to be perfect.

"I've been thinking, Naboo," Howard said softly, taking a seat next to Bollo on the sofa, "Vince's birthday is in a couple of months and I want to do something special for him."

"Define special," Naboo took a long hit off his hookah, handing the hose to Bollo. He blew a few smoke rings, watching them drift toward the ceiling.

"I don't know," Howard twisted his hands together, twiddling his thumbs, "just something to show him how much he means to me."

Naboo laughed, "you're such a cheesy wanker. You know that, right?"

"Harold make Bollo laugh," Bollo blew some smoke toward Howard.

"I'm not cheesy. I'm romantic," Howard said proudly.

"Cheesy," Naboo and Bollo chorused.

"Instead of making fun of me, how about you give me some ideas on what to get Vince?"

"He likes jewelry," Naboo said, poking at the coal on top of his hookah, "why don't you get him some Topshop jewelry."

"Vince like rings," Bollo offered, taking another hit.

"A ring," Howard stood up, "that's it!"

"What's it?" Naboo raised an eyebrow.

"I know what I'm going to get Vince," Howard grabbed his coat and ran down the stairs out of the flat.

Naboo looked at Bollo, "You don't think he's going to get Vince a diamond, do you?" he took the hose from Bollo, inhaling more of the less-than-legal smoke.

Bollo coughed, "I gotta bad feeling about this."


"You wouldn't forget my birthday, Howard," Vince narrowed his eyes, "you never forgot before. If I know you like I think I do, you've got something ace planned."

"Maybe," Howard smiled, "you never know. I could have just gotten you a Topshop gift certificate."

Vince's eyes widened, "did you get me one?" he asked, excitedly.

"No," Howard chuckled, "I'm glad you're so easily pleased though."

"You had me all excited," Vince stuck his bottom lip out, faux pouting.

"If you pout, you won't get your real present."

"Oh fine," Vince laced his fingers with Howard's, "now why don't you go get ready. People are going to get here in an hour or so," he pressed a kiss on Howard's cheek.

Howard squeezed Vince's hand before leaving the bathroom to change. His cheek burned from the kiss; it didn't matter how many times Vince kissed him, he couldn't stop himself from blushing.

The outfit Howard finally decided on was one that Vince picked out while shopping one day. A pair of denim trousers that apparently made his arse look "unbelievable" along with a black blazer that made him look slim and youthful. After a moment of debate, Howard pulled out the horrible Gary Numan t-shirt Vince had gotten for him. He quickly dressed and peeked in the full-length mirror. He looked like a trendy modern wanker, but he knew Vince would love it so he sucked it up.

Several minutes later, Vince opened the door to the bedroom, his makeup done, and beamed when he caught sight of Howard, "You're wearing the outfit I got you," he said softly.

"Only because it's your birthday," Howard pulled on his favorite black socks.

"I think you look well sexy," Vince sat down next to him, "if I didn't just put lip gloss on, I'd want to snog you right now," he added, winking.

Howard laughed, putting his arm around Vince, "lip gloss?"

"Strawberry flavored!"

"I love strawberry," Howard whispered, "hope I'll get a taste later."

Vince giggled, playing with Howard's hand, "we'll see about that."

"You tease," Howard kissed the top of Vince's head.

"You love it."

"No, I love you," Howard corrected.

"Are you ballbags almost ready? There's about a dozen people here already," Naboo yelled, knocking on the door.

"Go out there, Howard. I need to be fashionably late," Vince got up and stood in front of the mirror, making sure he looked perfect.

Rolling his eyes, Howard left the room. Bollo was already playing some electro and the room already smelled illegal. A few people were dancing and chatting. Howard recognized a few people, but decided to avoid conversation and make his way to the wall. He preferred watching people over anything. Especially when most of the people here were part of Camden's finest. He would have looked like a berk trying to strike up a conversation with any of them.

About ten minutes had passed when Bollo's voice boomed from the speakers, "you all here for Vince's birthday?" he asked. Everyone there cheered.

Naboo grabbed the microphone, "get your ass out here, Vince. We're all waiting for you."

Howard looked toward the hallway in time to see Vince step into the party. The room went mental. Some people screamed happy birthday, while others just screamed. He truly was the mayor of Camden.

Vince made his rounds, hugging and kissing everyone in the room, before making his way to Howard, "alright?" he asked, giving him a quick peck on the lips.

Howard nodded, "quite a party," he said, smiling.

"It's brilliant," Vince beamed, "I'm going to go talk to Neville, I'll catch up with you in a bit," he said hugging Howard before disappearing into the crowd once again.

Howard sighed happily, getting excited to give Vince his present. The tiny box was in his coat pocket, wrapped in pink zebra print wrapping paper. Only a couple more hours to go.

The music seemed to be getting louder as people got drunker. Naboo stumbled over to Howard, leaning against the wall, "you never told me what you got Vince."

"That's a surprise," Howard half-smiled, "I'm only giving him his card now," he said, pulling out a pale blue envelope with 'Vince' scrawled across the front.

"If you got him a diamond, I'll personally kick your ass," Naboo looked at him, frowning, "Bollo said he had a bad feeling."

"I did no such thing," Howard laughed, "and besides, Bollo always has a bad feeling."

"Thank God," Naboo sighed, relieved, before walking off again.

Howard was enjoying watching everyone have a marvelous time. He'd always been more of a wallflower than a socialite, and he was alright with it. Vince did enough socializing for the both of them anyway. Glancing at his watch, he noticed that it was after eleven. Getting up his courage to face the crowd, Howard made his way over to Vince, who was chatting with Seamus, who'd they'd both met at Black Lake.

"Hey, Vince," Howard touched Vince's arm.

"Howard!" Vince smiled, "Having fun?"

"Sure," Howard returned the smile, "I wanted to give you your birthday card now," he pulled out the blue envelope and handed it to him.

Vince took it, "can I open it?" Howard had barely nodded before Vince was tearing it open, "Dear Vince, I'm rubbish at saying how I feel but I hope your present will say everything I can't. Meet me on the roof at ten of midnight. Love, Howard," Vince read aloud, "what time is it now?"

"Half eleven," Howard said glancing at the wall clock, "I'm actually going up to get some air now, so I'll see you in a bit, yeah?"

"Of course," Vince said, watching Howard walk away.

It didn't take long for Naboo, Bollo and Vince to usher everyone out of the flat. Once the last person was out, Vince checked the time. Quarter to midnight.

Howard sat on the roof, leaning against he chimney, watching everyone leave the party. He held the tiny, wrapped box in his hands, starting to feel nervous for the first time all night. Although he'd been rehearsing what he wanted to say for the past few months, he was drawing a blank now that the moment was here. He closed his eyes, trying to relax, when he heard the door to the roof open. Quickly, he stuffed the box back in his pocket.

"Alright, Howard?" Vince asked, climbing out onto the shingles. He scooted up to Howard and smiled.

"Hope you had a nice night," Howard said, pulling Vince closer.

"It was brilliant," Vince was grinning, "sorry you had a shit time."

"I'm just not a party person," Howard shrugged, "I had fun watching you have fun."

"You're too sweet," Vince hugged him.

"So," Howard said after a minute, "do you want your present?"

Vince sat up, his eyes wide as he nodded eagerly.

Howard reached into his coat pocket, "it's not much," he took out the box and handed it to Vince.

Vince turned the present around in his hands before carefully slipping his finger under the tape to open it, "the paper is genius," he mused, taking off the rest of the paper and pacing it next to him. He stared at the small, black, velvet box for a moment before looking at Howard, "um, Howard..."

"Just open it," Howard said, smiling.

Vince bit his lip as he slowly opened the box. He gasped, "Howard, I, what?"

"It's a promise ring," Howard was blushing, "you know, just to let you know that I promise to be here for you for as long as you want me," he took the box and pulled the ring out of the foam. The ring was silver and had the word "promise" etched into it. Taking Vince's left hand, Howard spoke softly, "you still want me, right?"

"I," a single tear trickled down Vince's cheek, "I don't know what to say, Howard."

"Yes?" Howard asked, feeling his heart racing.

Vince nodded, "yes," he mouthed, watching Howard slide the ring onto his finger, "it's beautiful."

"Just like you," Howard murmured, stroking Vince's hand with his thumb.

Vince leaned forward and kissed Howard. The last time this had happened on the roof, it was awkward and rushed. Tonight was different. Vince pressed against Howard, draping his arms around his neck, kissing him passionate and slow. Howard wrapped his arms around Vince's waist, feeling goosebumps all over his body as Vince slipped his tongue into the mix. Howard hoped the kiss would never end.

It seemed like hours had passed before Vince broke the kiss, to rest his head on Howard's chest. His breathing had gone all wonky, but Howard didn't say anything because his breathing was just as hitched. They sat together for a long time before either spoke.

"What're you thinking, little man?" Howard asked, massaging the nape of Vince's neck with his thumb.

"That you've screwed yourself," Vince said bluntly.

"What?" Howard laughed.

"You gave me a ring. You ain't ever getting rid of me now," Vince pressed a kiss on Howard's neck.

"It's a good thing that I was planning on keeping you then," Howard smiled to himself.

"Forever?" Vince whispered.

"You think that's long enough?" Howard asked.

"For now," Vince said, turning to look at the moon.

End.

Fan Fiction Post #40 {Howince Part 4}

Author's Note: This is a multi part fic. I'd suggest reading the 3 parts before this one, but, that's up to you. Also, as always, read at your own risk. Sensitive subject matter.
------------------------------------

Howard flopped down onto the couch, burying his face in one of the decorative pillows. For the first time in over two weeks, Vince felt well enough to go out with Naboo and Bollo. They'd gone to DJ for a new club just outside Camden, and Vince was the guest of honor. Although he'd been invited, Howard declined. It wasn't his scene.

In the back of his mind, Howard had a nervous feeling telling him that he needed to look after Vince, but, at the same time he knew he could trust Naboo and Bollo to keep an eye on him. Howard exhaled loudly, relaxing into the sofa. It was surprisingly comfortable, although his lack of sleep might've had something to do with that. He hadn't gotten a full night's sleep since Vince got jumped. Every little movement or noise that Vince would make, put him on guard; it was exhausting.

It was barely half nine, and Howard didn't expect his flatmates back until at least midnight. After making a cup of tea for himself, Howard turned on one of his Coltrane albums. Just as he took a seat on the couch again, his phone pinged in his pocket with a text message.

Unsurprisingly, it was Vince:

wish u were here x

Vince had become much more affectionate since the alley incident, and Howard was getting used to the unnecessary touches and flirty comments. Neither had said they loved one another since that one night a week ago, but somehow the chemistry between them increased. They were like two teenagers with mutual crushes on each other, except they were too shy to do anything about it, so they just went with the flow and it worked. They were content.

I wouldn't be any fun if I was there. Ha ha. Howard typed, half-smiling to himself. He was never much fun in social situations because of his awkwardness. That was okay though, because Howard was never a fan of large groups of people.

but im shitfaced n i want my howard xx

Howard chuckled. It wasn't the first time Vince had drunk-texted him, but it still entertained him.

Tell Naboo you need to leave then. It's boring here anyway.

Howard's mind started wandering to the possibilities with Vince drunk. It wasn't intentional, but he couldn't resist picturing Vince kissing him. The phone pinged again:

they r genius 2nite. crowd luvs them so we r gonna b l8. :(

Howard frowned a little, Do you want me to pick you up? I can get a cab.

Rly?

Vince's lack for proper grammar and spelling mildly frustrated Howard, but he ignored it for now. That last thing he wanted to do was cause an argument when Vince had been drinking.

Yes. I'll come get you. What's the club called again?

A message came back almost immediately, tart.

Howard laughed, It's really called tart?

ya r u comin?

I'll be there in a little while. I'll text you when I'm there.

Thx howard xx


Howard glanced in the mirror to fix his hair and slipped on his loafers before leaving the flat. He hailed a taxi, taking a seat in the back. It was a dreary night, but Camden's finest where still out, crowding dozens of bars on the way to Tart. It only took about fifteen minutes to get to the club, when the cab arrived, Howard punched out a text, Outside in the cab. Where are you?

A minute later Vince emerged from the club, spotting Howard immediately. He stumbled a little on his way to the cab; Howard had gotten out to help him, mostly out of fear of Vince falling. Once they were settled in the car, Vince rested his head on Howard's chest.

"You okay, little man?" Howard asked, draping is arm around Vince's waist.

"'m shitfaced," he slurred, his voice was soft, "fanks for coming, 'oward."

Howard smiled, "we'll be home in a little while and you can get some sleep," he murmured, stroking Vince's hip with his thumb. Normally, Howard wasn't this affectionate, but it felt right with Vince, so he just went with it.

"M'kay," Vince played with one of Howard's buttons, "can we have proper snogsies too?"

"I think you need a little sleepie before you do anything, Vince."

Vince looked up at Howard. The bruise under his eye had faded quite a bit, but even the concealer Vince was wearing didn't fully cover the remaining yellowish hue, "If you don't want to kiss me, you can tell me. I know I'm repulsive," he said sadly. His deep blue eyes were brimming with tears.

Howard sighed, "what did I tell you about that, Vince?"

"What?"

"You're beautiful no matter what you do," Howard caressed Vince's cheek, "so don't say that you're repulsive."

"Then why won't you kiss me again?"

"We're here, lads," the driver interrupted, pulling the cab over.

Howard paid the fare and helped Vince out of the taxi. Vince didn't need help getting up the stairs, but Howard walked behind him just in case. The last thing he wanted was for Vince to get hurt again.

Vince didn't say a word to Howard in the flat. He walked back to their bedroom and shut the door. After a few drawers slammed,  the squeaking of Vince climbing into bed echoed down the hall, followed by silence.

Howard was a little taken aback by Vince's sudden mood swing. Not wanting a repeat of two weeks ago, he gave Vince a few minutes to pout, while he took his shoes off and made two cups of tea. After the tea was finished, Howard put an obscene amount of sugar into Vince's cup, and left his plain, before taking the cups down the hall to the bedroom.

With some difficulty, Howard managed to get the door open, "fancy a cuppa?" he asked softly, shutting the door with his foot.

Vince ignored him.

"I put more sugar than tea in yours," Howard sat down on the edge of Vince's bed.

No response.

"Look, Vince," Howard sighed, putting the cups on the nightstand, "it's okay for you to pout, but could you at least tell me why you're so upset?"

Vince covered his head with the duvet.

"Okay then," Howard grabbed his cup of tea, "I'll leave your cup there if you want it," he got up, "goodnight," he bit his lip for a second before speaking again, "I love you, Vince," he crossed the room back to the door, leaving without another word.

Howard sat down on the sofa, sipping his tea. Naboo wouldn't be home for another hour or two, so he wasn't going to bother making up the sofa bed yet. He was going to give Vince some personal space, although it made him feel uneasy since they'd slept in the same bed every night for the past two weeks.

It's happening again, Howard, he thought to himself, another one bites the dust. You've messed up again. He felt a lump in his throat. Normally a ruined relationship or flat out rejection was just a part of his life, but this time hurt so much worse. He'd been pining over Vince since elementary school and it was over before it even began. Nothing would ever work out. I wasn't meant to be happy, he thought, pinching the bridge of his nose, to avoid giving himself a Chinese burn.

"Howard?" Vince's soft voice distracted Howard from his internal harassment.

Howard turned to see Vince standing a few feet from the couch, wearing only his orange v-fronts and one sock. His midsection was still dotted with fading bruises, but he still managed to look flawless, "What's up, little man?"

Vince looked like he wanted to cry, "I need you," he whispered, sniffling.

Howard got up and walked over to Vince, wrapping his arms around him, pulling him into a gentle embrace, "what do you need?" he asked, blushing as Vince flung his arms around his waist.

"I need you to protect me," he buried his face in Howard's chest.

"No one's going to hurt you, sweetheart," Howard cooed, stroking the nape of Vince's neck, "I'm the only one here and if anyone came in, they'd have to get through me if they wanted you...and that won't happen."

Vince looked up at Howard, "I mean protect me from myself," his eyes were brimming with tears.

Howard hadn't the slightest idea what Vince meant, "from yourself?"

Vince nodded, "you're the only one who can protect me."

"You're not making any sense," Howard's voice was gentle, "why don't we get you back to bed?" he said, walking Vince back to the bedroom.

Vince immediately climbed into Howard's bed, "can you sleep with me tonight?" he asked softly.

Howard sat down on the bed and took his shirt off, "only if you tell me what's frightened you," he climbed under the duvet and felt Vince scoot closer, "I can't help you if you don't tell me what's bothering you."

Vince relaxed a little as Howard put his arm around him, "you stop the scary flashbacks," he curled up against Howard's chest, "when I'm alone, I keep seeing that chav and," his voice trailed off, taken over by soft sobbing.

Howard wanted to cry. He couldn't even begin to imagine the flashbacks Vince must've been having, and he didn't know what to say. Vince trembled against him, so he pulled him closer and pressed a kiss on his forehead, "I'm sorry you had to go through that," he whispered, "but I'm here now. I won't let it happen ever again," Howard felt Vince hiccup, "stop that, your face is too pretty to have tear stains down it."

"He raped me," Vince's voice cracked.

Howard figured it had happened, but this was the first time Vince has said it so bluntly. He felt like he was going to be physically sick, "Vince, I," words left him. What could he possibly say to Vince? I'm sorry, surely wouldn't cut it.

"I've never been so scared in my whole life," Vince was shaking.

"Could you ever forgive me for not being there?" Howard asked, trying to swallow the lump in his throat, "Because I don't think I'll ever forgive myself."

"There's nothing to forgive," Vince cupped Howard's cheek in his hand, "you found me in the end."

"But I was too late," Howard sighed.

"You were on my mind the whole time," Vince stroked Howard's cheek with his thumb, "I could hear your voice telling me that everything would be fine."

Something clicked for Howard at that moment. He could deny it all he wanted, but Vince loved him just as much as, if not more, than he loved Vince. He'd never want anyone else in his life, because Vince was perfect. It was supposed to be this way. This happened for a reason; to bring them closer, "Vince?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I," Howard felt his heart racing, "can I kiss you?"

"You wanna kiss me?" Vince's cheeks flushed.

"More than anything," Howard curled his hand around the nape of Vince's neck, pulling his closer. Their noses brushed together, "is this okay?"

"Yeah," Vince breathed, shivering from the sudden closeness.

Without any hesitation, Howard kissed Vince. Time seemed to stop, the walls faded away and nothing else existed except for Vince. Their lips moved in perfect unison; every touch and every movement seemed to have been rehearsed. Vince twisted his fingers into Howard's hair, holding their lips together.

Vince ran his tongue along Howard's bottom lip, as if to ask for permission to deepen the kiss. Howard returned the gesture, opening his mouth and shuddering as Vince's tongue flirted with his own. It was his first French kiss. He knew he'd never forget this moment for as long as he lived. The taste of cheap, disgusting alcho-pops was now his favorite taste in the world. 

The sound of a door slamming and footsteps coming up the stairs forced Howard and Vince back to reality, "Naboo and Bollo are home," Vince whispered, pressing one last kiss on Howard's lips.

"Flawless timing, as usual," Howard sighed, hearing their bedroom door fling open.

Naboo flipped the light on, "oh, shit," he covered his eyes, "what are you ballbags doing in my room?" he asked, peeking through his fingers. Naboo was completely wasted. If not on alcohol, then some other mind-altering substance.

"Your room's down the hall, Naboo," Vince laughed.

"Where am I?" he asked, looking around.

"You're in our room," Howard sat up; his arm was still around Vince.

"What're you on?" Vince asked, "You're off your tits."

"Took a few tabs of acid," he said, looking up at the ceiling, grabbing at something invisible to Howard and Vince.

"Where's Bollo?" Howard raised an eyebrow.

"The couch," Naboo laughed to himself, not really paying attention to the conversation, "were you two kissing?"

"Yes," Vince glanced at Howard and smiled.

Naboo smiled, "S'about bloody time," he flipped the light off, "there's a unicorn in the hallway. I'm going to follow him to Saturn."

"Have fun, Naboo," Vince laughed when Naboo shut the door before turning back to Howard, "never a dull moment."

"You're telling me," Howard laid down and stretched, "Naboo was on another planet tonight, eh?"

"He was pretty bad," Vince mused, "I wonder if he'll catch up with that unicorn."

"I wonder what he meant when he said it was about bloody time we kissed," Howard thought out loud.

"I might've talked to him about you," Vince admitted sheepishly.

"Why?"

"Come on," Vince snorted, "you're mental. I've been in love with you for years and the only person I could talk to was Naboo. He let me rant about you when you were being difficult."

"You could have just told me," Howard frowned to himself, "I didn't have anyone to talk to about how I felt about you."

"I didn't want you to reject me."

"One would have to be pretty stupid to reject you, Vince," Howard kissed the tip of Vince's nose, "you're beautiful, talented and not to mention one of the most amazing people I've ever met."

"I'm nothing compared to you," Vince nuzzled Howard's neck, "anyone would be lucky to have you."

"You could have me," Howard whispered, getting goosebumps as Vince's lips ghosted kisses on his neck, "that is, if you want me."

"You're the only one I've ever wanted, you berk."