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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
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"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

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