Actions

Work Header

A Very Sherlock Musical

Work Text:

“And you invaded Afghanistan,” said Sherlock, his voice still choked with laughter.

“Not alone,” managed John through his own giggles. Music started to swell and he felt a surge of joy. He hadn't been part of a duet for ages, and never after knowing his partner for so little time. The opening bars made it clear that this was going to be the best kind of duet as well, the 'we're in this together' kind of song that made you feel as if the two of you could take on the world and win. He met Sherlock's eyes, opening his mouth to let the first line come out and-

“Sherlock, what have you done?”

The music cut off abruptly, but not before John had seen the look on Sherlock's face. All his amusement had wiped away with the start of the music and been replaced with a look of total panic. When Mrs. Hudson interrupted, relief was his first reaction, although he quickly focused on her and her worry instead.

John frowned as he followed Sherlock up the stairs. Why would he be panicked by a duet? It was a really good way to start a flatshare, surely? You didn't duet with people you weren't compatible with, everyone knew that.

The revelation that the police were conducting a drugs bust quickly put the incident out of his head, and then Sherlock disappeared and John was forced to chase after him, laptop in hand and panic running through his veins. It wasn't much of a surprise when a frantic, pulsing beat started up and he found himself singing about how desperate he was to find Sherlock.

Rushed off into danger with no-one at his back!” he sang, ignoring the taxi driver's long-suffering sigh. “Where has the crazy madman gone?

The song sped up when he arrived at the college, keeping pace with him as he dashed from room to room, still singing.

I need to find my madman, my crazy, crazy madman.

Christ, it was probably a good thing that no-one was around to hear these lyrics. It was a bit revealing. Was he really already using a possessive pronoun for Sherlock?

When John saw Sherlock through two windows, about to take a pill that was almost certainly poison, the music swelled to a crescendo. He pulled out his gun as a note held for several beats, aimed at the man who was somehow making John's new flatmate kill himself, and fired.

The music cut off as if it had never been. He ducked to the floor to avoid being seen and took several deep, gasping breaths. Jesus Christ, what had he done? He wanted to blame the music, but everyone knew that didn't count as a defence in court. The pounding rhythm of atmosphere music only ever pushed you faster into doing what you were going to do anyway.

When he next saw Sherlock, sitting on the back of an ambulance, wrapped in a blanket and scowling at the Detective Inspector, he felt the hook of the duet they had almost shared earlier drum through his heart. Oh, it wasn't just a duet, it was a theme song. A theme song for just the two of them, already fully realised before they'd even known each other a full day. This was definitely going to be a memorable flatshare.

As they strode away from the crime scene, leaving Sherlock's creepy brother and his PA behind them, the theme started to play again, as background music. John wondered how long it would be before they ended up singing the whole thing through properly together and couldn't suppress a smile at the thought. Hopefully, the lyrics would be less ridiculous than his Crazy Madman solo.

Sherlock twitched at the sound of it, tensing his shoulders.

“Don't panic,” said John. “It's just an instrumental – no actual singing right now.”

“Yes, I'm aware,” snapped Sherlock, and then sped his pace up. It took John a moment or two of trying to keep up with him to realise that he was deliberately walking out-of-sync with their theme.

Right, he thought. Doesn't like singing. Which was weird, given that the majority of people just accepted it as an unavoidable and occasionally rather fun part of life, but it wasn't as if that was the weirdest thing he'd already noticed about Sherlock.

****

Within a few weeks, John had to rethink that assumption. It had become clear that Sherlock didn't mind singing solos and that he even had a few personal recurring ones, as most people did. There was a song for when he was bored, which was all over-dramatic wailing chords, and a rather bouncy tune that he sang whilst he did experiments, with lyrics about discovering the mysteries of the universe through science and a rather long bridge that involved listing the entire periodic table.

He also had an excited, breathless song that signalled a breakthrough in a case. John privately dubbed it The Clues Are Coming Together. From the resigned look on Lestrade's face the first time Sherlock sang it in front of John, it was an old favourite. Unusually, no-one else joined in the chorus or even provided back-up support. Sherlock sang and danced his way through the whole song alone, and all the assembled police officers just watched.

The third or fourth time John heard it, the music thrummed in his mind and he felt the notes begin to move through him, making him part of the song. On the second chorus, he started to hum a quiet counterpoint to Sherlock's melody.

The reaction was immediate. Sherlock stopped singing so suddenly that the music carried on for a few notes without him before dying out, and he spun on his heel to glare at John.

John ducked his head, suddenly feeling horribly awkward. “Uh, sorry.”

Sherlock didn't say anything, he just gave a curt nod and then swept off to continue his investigation, the song left only half-sung. John felt horribly awkward as the police all looked at him, and then wondered why. Joining in with someone else's song when you were sharing the same music as them was as normal and natural as – as so many other social cues that Sherlock resolutely ignored.

The next time Sherlock sang The Clues Are Coming Together, John bit his tongue on the harmonies he wanted to contribute. It was probably for the best, anyway – he had a feeling that the lyrics the music would give him would be along the lines of That's incredible/you're brilliant, and it was embarrassing enough that he couldn't stop saying that out loud, let alone singing it.

They'd been living together for nearly two months when John came home from the supermarket empty handed and annoyed with himself.

Sherlock spared him a glance. “You're late,” he observed.

John made a face. “Got caught up in a street ensemble of It's Bloody Raining Again,” he said.

It's Bloody Raining Again was one of London's most popular anthems. It was hard to live there and not end up getting caught up in a mass rendition of it at least once every few months.

Sherlock made a face, but didn't pass comment. “You're also missing the shopping,” he pointed out.

“I had an argument with a chip-and-pin machine,” admitted John. It had been less an argument and more a rage-filled solo, but there was no need to tell Sherlock that.

Sherlock was unimpressed by that, and then suddenly announced they were going to the bank. John trotted along behind, trying to stop himself from humming the melody of It’s Bloody Raining Again as they headed back out into the rain. He got the feeling that Sherlock wouldn’t approve.

And then one thing led to another, as it so often did around Sherlock, and John found himself tied to a chair being interrogated by the Chinese Mafia. There was no way he was getting a second date with Sarah after this, he thought glumly, just as strings soared and Sherlock appeared on the scene, accompanied by a triumphant, energetic song that actually included the lyrics here I come to save the day. John would have rolled his eyes at the cheesiness, but he was too preoccupied with keeping Sarah from being shot by circus equipment.

Sarah declined John's offer to accompany her home, which he supposed was understandable, so he and Sherlock left the scene together, in search of a taxi.

“I suppose I should just accept that this kind of thing is just going to keep happening to me,” said John.

Sherlock shrugged. “Only if you continue to spend time with me,” he said in an off-hand manner that John saw straight through.

“Well, I suppose it's better than sitting in front of the rubbish they put on telly these days,” he said.

Sherlock gave him a swift, pleased look and a moment later the opening notes of their theme song began to soar around them. John felt a smile widen over his face as the music channelled through him, changing the rhythm of his steps to fit the music and filling him with the anticipation of finally sharing this duet with Sherlock.

Sherlock stopped short in the street and the music came to an abrupt halt. “I've just remembered, I need to get something. I'll see you at home.” He turned and practically ran away. John watched him go, the frustration of a cut-off song burning through him. What the hell? Why was Sherlock so set against singing with him?

****

It kept happening. Usually at the conclusions of cases, but sometimes just when they were sharing one of their versions of a domestic evening in - John poking away at his blog and Sherlock doing something dangerous in the kitchen. The intro would start to play, John would feel the song beginning to fill him up, and then Sherlock would make some excuse and disappear, shutting the song down as if it had never been. It was possibly the most frustrating thing that John had ever experienced.

He'd had theme songs with people before, of course. There had been his family one when he was a child, although that had only grown more melancholy as the years passed. He'd had one with his first girlfriend which had been so saccharine that he was embarrassed by it now, but that was pretty much par for the course when it came to your first teenage love affair. The group of rugby mates that he'd lived with in his second and third years at uni had had one, a rambunctious tune with lyrics that weren't really more sophisticated than We're lads together! We love sport and sex and beer!. He'd sung it with them hundreds of times, both drunk and sober. Mostly drunk.

This felt different though. It felt like the most important song he'd ever sing, and yet he didn't even know the words yet. Sherlock's constant refusal to even let the first line play meant that John knew the intro as well as he knew his own heartbeat, but he couldn't even begin to guess at the words. If it had been his song alone, he might have been able to make a guess at it, but it was part of both him and Sherlock. God only knew what Sherlock thought of their partnership, or how that would express itself in lyrics.

It came to a head when they left Kenny Prince's house laughing together, camera equipment slung over Sherlock's shoulder, and their theme started up, the introduction playing even as John explained his theory.

“He coated it onto the paws of her cat. It’s a new pet – bound to be a bit jumpy around her. A scratch is almost inevitable. She wouldn’t have-”

“Wrong,” said Sherlock with enough force and derision to make the music stutter and stop.

John made a frustrated noise between his teeth. “Christ, Sherlock, can't we just bloody sing it? Just once?”

Sherlock gave him a cold look. “I don't sing with others,” he said, and changed the conversation to how Connie Prince had actually been murdered.

Combined with the realisation that he had been sent off on a wild goose chase after a case that Sherlock had already solved, John began to get the creeping suspicion that, maybe, their theme was more one-sided than he'd realised. Their partnership clearly meant more to him than it did Sherlock. Maybe Sherlock didn't want to sing it because he knew that their lyrics would be different, that the song would be about their differences rather than their similarities.

That thought hurt. And if it was true, then John should really be looking for ways to distance himself from Sherlock. As soon as there was a lull in the constant stream of cases that Moriarty was sending to Sherlock as some kind of twisted courting gift, John took his chance and went to Sarah's. He'd had quite enough of trying to convince himself that Sherlock cared, deep down, and that his coldness was just a mask. Time to find a new duet to be part of, if he could. Things with Sarah weren't going well enough for that yet, but if he just gave it a bit more of his time, maybe that would change.

Except, of course, that plan back-fired completely by giving Moriarty a chance to kidnap him and strap a bomb to his chest. So much for spending quality time with his girlfriend.

“There you are, all packaged up,” Moriarty said with an unhinged grin once the bomb jacket was on John. “It suits you.”

John bit his tongue. No point in getting trapped in a conversation with someone who so clearly only wanted to taunt him.

“Aw, come on, have a reaction,” said Moriarty. “Go on, you know you want to. You could even sing a song. Who will rescue me from this nightmare? Where is the detective who will save me from the genius with the sexy hair?” He sang those lines in a high, warbling voice that made John grit his teeth. “No? Well, maybe later, when Sherlock turns up.”

There was not even a hint of a song in John's heart when Sherlock did turn up. The look of shock on his face when he saw John, the moment when he clearly thought John was Moriarty, swiftly followed by the horror of realisation when he saw the bomb, was more than enough to wipe away any doubts John had about how important their friendship was to Sherlock. The taut thread of emotion that ran between them in that moment was too complicated for a song, and there was utter silence for a heartbeat.

Moriarty interrupted it when he made his entrance. He sang a creeping, deadly solo about the many evil pies he had his fingers in, helped out by the invisible choir of his snipers.

I'm the spider in the web,
I'm the shadow in the dark,
I'm the brain behind the crime,
Come to burn your heart.

Throughout the whole song, John kept his eyes on Sherlock's face. Moriarty's song and the threats he followed it with were not even a little bit as important as the way Sherlock was focused on John.

The minute Moriarty finally left, Sherlock bounded forward to rip the bomb from John and sent it skidding across the floor. John felt his knees go weak as the adrenalin left him and he sank down to rest his back against a wall. “Christ,” he said, weak with the knowledge of how close they had come to death. “Jesus Christ.”

Sherlock was pacing, scratching at his head with the gun in a way that John should really yell at him for. “That, er, thing that you, er, that you did. That, um, you offered to do. That was, um... good.”

He sounded completely freaked out and John realised he needed to lighten the mood or risk Sherlock having some sort of emotional breakdown.

“I'm glad no-one saw that,” he said. “You, ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk. ”

Sherlock looked non-plussed for a moment, and then laughed. “People do little else,” he said, and their eyes caught as they both grinned, weak with relief.

The opening notes of their theme started to play and Sherlock twitched. John waited for him to find an excuse to cut it off, but instead he stayed where he was, eyes fixed on John and a reflection of his earlier fear in his eyes. Was he finally going to sing with John? God, John hoped so. He wanted to find out what the lyrics were even more now that he had seen how scared Sherlock had been at the prospect of losing him.

He filled his lungs with air for the opening line and felt his mouth shape itself for a 'B', watching as Sherlock did the same. His heart filled with anticipation, and then-

Sherlock's eyes fell to his chest and filled with dread, and the music shut off as John realised that the lights from the snipers had reappeared.

“Sorry boys, did I interrupt a duet? Bad manners, I know, it’s just I’m so changeable! It is a weakness with me but, to be fair to myself, it is my only weakness. ”

Sherlock met John's eyes, and then lowered his gun to aim at the bomb. John resigned himself to never getting to sing with him and took a deep breath in anticipation, and then tinny, upbeat music began to play.

For a horrible moment, he thought Moriarty was going to launch into a bouncy pop song about how excited he was to get blown up and then he realised that it was just a mobile ringtone.

“Do you mind if I get that?” Moriarty asked.

Sherlock was clearly as surprised by this turn of events as John was, but he covered it well. John stayed where he was, every nerve on edge. Even after Moriarty had declared that today was not a good day for him to die and walked out, still talking on his phone, John couldn't relax. He could come back at any moment. There was no way this was over so easily.

“Come on,” said Sherlock tersely. “Let's go, before he comes back.”

John nodded, and climbed unsteadily to his feet. Sherlock glanced at him, and then put an arm around his back to chivvy him along, towards the exit.

It wasn't until they were outside the pool and safely in the street that John realised he was chanting a low stream of curse words under his breath.

“My thoughts exactly,” said Sherlock, once John managed to force himself to stop. “Back to 221B, I think.”

“We should let Lestrade know,” said John.

Sherlock made a face, but reluctantly nodded. “When we're home.”

John nodded. There was nothing he wanted more than to be back home with Sherlock, with the doors locked and the windows – well, the sheets over where the windows used to be firmly taped down. It would only be a false sense of security, but he was willing to take that over the creeping feeling that they were being watched as Sherlock hailed a taxi. Besides, he desperately needed a cup of tea.

****

They didn't hear from Moriarty again for a long time but there were plenty of other cases for them to investigate together. Their theme played rather often, but Sherlock never let it get far if it seemed that they were likely to end up singing. John still found it intensely frustrating to hear the intro over and over without ever getting to the first line, but at least now he had the memory of the look on Sherlock's face at the pool to remind him that this wasn't a one-sided thing. Whatever the lyrics were, they would both mean them if they ever sang them.

Now John was paying attention, he realised that Sherlock never sang with anyone else at all. His solos were always without back-up and John never saw him provide any for anyone else's songs, and certainly not John's. It felt strange to sing his tea-making song, The Comfort of Tea, without the assistance at the chorus that he was used to whenever he was making it for more than just himself, but he got used to it. Besides, Mrs. Hudson was often around when he made tea, and she was more than happy to join in.

Sherlock somehow managed to avoid getting caught up in the street ensembles too, even when John found himself swept up in It's Bloody Raining Again or that other London favourite The Government Is Screwing Us Over. Instead, Sherlock just stepped to the side of the road, watched the singing and choreography until the big finish, and then continued on the moment John was free of the melody.

Several weeks later, John and Sherlock were at a crime scene when the assembled police got caught up in a quick chorus of Justice!, which was the theme of the Metropolitan police. It was only after he'd joined in with the choreography that John realised he was now enough part of the team to be swept up in the song. He felt rather pleased about that and joined in with gusto, holding the final note with the others while Sally warbled a descant.

They all exchanged grins and then turned back to what they'd been doing, which was when John realised that Sherlock had ignored the entire song in favour of continuing his examination of the corpse. He wasn't the only one to notice.

“Too good to join us, freak?” asked Sally with a sneer. “Or is that you're not actually interested in justice, only in getting your rocks off?”

“Or maybe I just have no interest in singing with you lot,” said Sherlock, not looking up from whatever tiny detail had captured his interest. “And certainly not that song. The lyrics are trite and simplistic, and the choreography makes you look as if you're all about to goose-step into Poland.”

A collective hush fell over the room. It was more than bad manners to criticise someone else's song; it was practically unheard of. Everyone knew that the music and lyrics just came from nowhere and weren't in any way controllable, especially for a song like Justice!, which London police officers had been singing for well over a hundred years now.

“Sherlock,” said Lestrade in a warning tone. “You need to apologise for that.”

Sherlock glanced up and then sighed when he saw the assembled looks of shock. “Oh, honestly. You must have noticed that it's a particularly ridiculous song.”

“Right,” said Lestrade. “That's it. Get off my crime scene.”

“Sherlock,” said John, stepping in to try and prevent this escalating. “Just apologise. Don't be difficult.”

“Difficult?” repeated Sherlock, standing up. “Difficult would be trying to solve this case without my help, given the distinct lack of intelligence currently present. Are you really going to refuse my help and so endanger the justice you all claim to be so keen on over a few bland bars of music?”

“That's exactly what I'm going to do, yeah,” said Lestrade. “Go on, get out of it. You're not getting any access to my cases until you apologise.”

“Oh, for god's sake,” muttered Sherlock, but he swept out of the room without arguing further.

John gave Lestrade a look. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I'll try and talk him round.”

“Yeah, good luck with that,” said Lestrade.

“I don't know how you can stand to be around him,” said Sally as John started to follow after Sherlock. “I've never once seen him join in an ensemble. What kind of personality disorder must he have not to sing with others?”

“Sociopath, remember?” said Anderson.

John gritted his teeth, but couldn't think of a rebuttal. When he got outside, he discovered that Sherlock had already found a taxi and left without him. He had to stand still, stare at the sky, and take a few breaths to work through the immediate rush of boiling anger, then he got his own taxi and directed it back to Baker Street.

When he got there, Sherlock was collapsed in his chair, cradling his violin and plucking out the tune of The Clues Are Coming Together. He didn't bother looking up at John's entrance, so John strode over to place himself firmly in front of him.

“What the bloody hell was that?” he asked, trying to keep at least some rein on his fury.

“What was what?” asked Sherlock.

John drew in a deep breath through his nose. Sherlock was looking at him with his head tipped slightly to one side, as if John was an interesting specimen that he was observing.

“That!” said John, gesturing vaguely in the direction of the crime scene. “Insulting them all, refusing to apologise, and then bloody leaving me behind! I thought we'd got past that one, at least.”

Sherlock gave a little shrug. “I thought you'd be happy enough to stay with your new choral partners.”

John gaped at him. What the hell was that meant to mean? “Of course I'm not – why would I stay at a crime scene without you? You bloody-” He cut himself off, examining Sherlock's expression. He was looking even sulkier now and there was a hint of something else, something it took John a moment to recognise. He ran back through what Sherlock had just said, and the bitter way he had emphasised 'choral partners'.

“Oh god, please don't tell me you're pissed off that I sang with them.”

“Of course not,” snapped Sherlock in the tone that meant John had put his finger straight on the problem.

“For fuck's sake!” said John, rubbing a hand over his face. “Sherlock, you have had plenty of opportunities to sing with me, and you have shut them all down. You don't get to be jealous about this.”

Sherlock scowled and hunched his shoulders over. John was so bloody angry with him. It was his fault they'd never had their duet and now he was pissed off because John was actually becoming part of the team they both worked with? Screw that.

“Right,” he said. “I'm going out. I suggest you get over yourself and apologise to Lestrade, or you're going to be stuck investigating cheating spouses and finding lost cats for the foreseeable future.”

He left the flat, leaving Sherlock to his sulk.

****

He got a text just over an hour later.

Took your advice. Back on the case. Meet me at Barts. SH

John stared at it for several long seconds, and then called Lestrade.

“Did he really apologise?” he asked without bothering with a greeting.

“Yeah,” said Lestrade. “He was surprisingly good at it, actually. What the hell did you say to him?”

John shook his head, raising a hand to summon a taxi. “I have no idea.”

At Barts, Sherlock was crouched over the body from the crime scene, examining some mark with his magnifying glass. John paused in the doorway, feeling a surge of anger again. Why had he come running so quickly, without Sherlock having to do more than demand his presence? What did it say about John that he hadn't thought twice about it, hadn't even considered asking for an apology himself?

Sherlock looked up at John. “I need your opinion,” he said. “What kind of surgery is this scar from?”

John took a deep breath and thought about just turning and walking away for a moment, and then he accepted the inevitable and went to have a look.

He was still angry with both Sherlock and himself when the case was solved and they'd headed back to 221B. There hadn't been even a hint of their theme playing, which John was glad about. The last thing he needed was to be reminded that Sherlock didn't want to sing with him, but didn't want him to sing with anyone else either.

He made tea without the strains of The Comfort of Tea. He was still too angry for that as well.

Sherlock accepted his mug from John without a word of thanks, then just sat and stared at him with a faint frown while John drank his own tea and tried to pretend this was any other evening, and that the mood between them wasn't crackling with tension.

After a few minutes, Sherlock let out a long sigh. “I suppose I need to apologise to you as well.”

John glared at him. “Don't bother. I know you too well to believe your apologies.”

“Just because I am unwilling to apologise doesn't mean it would be insincere if I did,” said Sherlock. John snorted with disbelief, which made Sherlock frown. “I am aware that my behaviour earlier was unacceptable,” he said stiffly. “It is not my business whom you choose to sing with.”

John gave him a careful look, trying to see the signs that meant he was just acting. Rather than looking overly sincere as he did when he was trying to con a witness, he looked stiff and almost pained, as if apologising was a physical trial. John felt his anger start to melt away and let out a quiet sigh.

Sherlock clearly saw that he was relenting and leaned forward. “I was not expecting you to become part of that ensemble,” he said. “The surprise made me act rashly.”

“Why not?” asked John. “Why didn't you think I'd join in with a group of people I've been working with for several months now, and whose goals I share?”

Sherlock gave an uncomfortable shrug. “I suppose I think of you as working with me, rather than with them.”

John let out a bitter laugh. “And yet you won't bloody sing with me. Besides, as much as you hate to believe you're not a lone wolf, you're working with them as well, even if you won't sing with them.”

Sherlock was silent for a long moment before saying, in a quiet voice, “I have never sung with anyone else.”

John started. “Never? But surely when you were a child-”

“Never,” repeated Sherlock. “Our family's theme was instrumental only, so we never had to sing it. The other songs that children tend to sing together passed me by. I was taught at home until I was old enough to go to boarding school, by which time I had already decided that I had no interest in sharing a song just for the sake of it. As I grew older, that only became clearer to me. You know how little I have in common with the things that other people consider worth singing about.”

John tried to imagine a life spent singing only solos, and couldn't. He'd sung with other people at least once a week for his whole life, usually more often. The only exception to that had been when he'd arrived in London after being shot and had been living alone in that depressing bedsit, but even then he'd been involved in the odd street ensemble.

“What about street ensembles?”

Sherlock made a face. “What do I care if it’s bloody raining or not?”

John stared at him. “Right,” he said, faintly.

“I do not want your pity,” said Sherlock sharply. “I am perfectly content with things as they are. Singing with others would mean dragging myself down to their level.”

“Including singing a duet with me?” asked John.

Sherlock clenched his jaw and looked away. “Our theme works perfectly well as an instrumental piece,” he said. “The lyrics would only ruin that with saccharine sentiment.”

John regarded him for a long moment, then gave a little nod to himself. “Right,” he said. If Sherlock didn't want to cope with John's emotions over their partnership, then there was nothing he could do. “Well, I'm not going to stop myself singing with the police, or anyone else, just because you think it's a waste of time.”

“I don't expect you to,” said Sherlock. “I won't let today's incident repeat itself.”

That seemed like the best John was going to get out of him, so he let the matter go.

****

Now that he knew they were never going to sing their theme together, he became acutely aware of every time it played, even if it was nothing more than a bar or two in the background. Knowing he and Sherlock would never sing it hurt, no matter how much he told himself that it was instrumental only. He could feel the lyrics inside him, bottled up and waiting for their chance to burst forth.

John's blog started to become really popular, especially when Sherlock solved a series of high profile cases that put him on the front pages of the newspapers. Things just seemed to be going from strength to strength, and John found himself humming their theme when he was sitting at his laptop, typing up the latest incredible chain of deductions. It seemed as if it was never far away, underscoring everything he did even when he wasn't with Sherlock.

Sherlock seemed to be affected in the same way as case followed case. Late at night, John occasionally heard him playing the melody on his violin, although he always turned it into something else if John came downstairs to listen.

They received a visit from Henry Knight, who told them all about a murderous hound. Sherlock was initially dismissive, but something in what Henry said caught his attention, because John heard the melody of I Have a Case begin to play with increasing excitement towards the end of the interview. John began to mentally pack for a trip to Dartmoor.

Indeed, the moment that Henry left 221B, Sherlock launched into an excited solo, spinning around the sitting room and occasionally leaping over their furniture.

A case! I have a case!
An intriguing case full of complex mysteries!
An end to boredom and a chance
to prove I’m better than the authorities!

John didn't seem to be needed for it, so he went to let Mrs. Hudson know that they'd be away for a few days.

****

The churchyard was peaceful. John hadn't spent much time just sitting in the open air somewhere quiet since he’d met Sherlock and he found he was rather enjoying it. Of course, he'd probably be enjoying it more if he didn't have Sherlock's bitter words still ringing through his mind.

I don't have friends.

No matter how much John tried to tell himself that Sherlock was just reacting badly to the events at Dewers Hollow and that he hadn't meant it, he couldn't eradicate the hurt that came in the wake of the words. How could he keep spending so much time with Sherlock, to the point that he'd stopped trying to find time for a job, or a relationship, if Sherlock couldn't even admit that they were friends?

What hurt even more was the growing realisation that part of John wanted them to be more than friends. A lack of time and commitment had only been one part of the reason that he hadn't bothered finding another relationship after Janette dumped him. The main part was that, deep down, he was hoping for that kind of relationship with Sherlock. It hadn't been until he'd been chatting up Louise Mortimer the previous night that he'd realised just how much he wanted to be flirting with Sherlock rather than some stranger, no matter how pretty or charming.

But Sherlock didn't even think they were friends. John had no hope of more with him, no matter how completely their theme had infiltrated every part of his life. Of course, they'd never actually sung it, had they? That said it all, really. If Sherlock wouldn't let John in far enough to sing with him, then there was no way he would let him in enough to have a romantic relationship with him.

The train of thought was just starting to get seriously depressing when Sherlock himself turned up and made a complete hash of trying to apologise.

“What happened last night- Something happened to me; something I’ve not really experienced before.”

“Yes,” said John, trying to escape the graveyard before he lost his temper properly. “You said: fear. Sherlock Holmes got scared. You said.”

Apparently Sherlock wasn’t going to let him go, because he caught John’s arm and pulled him back to face him. “No, it was more than that, John. It was doubt. I felt doubt. I’ve always been able to trust my senses, the evidence of my own eyes, until last night.”

John paused with a frown. “You can’t actually believe that you saw some kind of monster.”

“No, I can’t believe that,” said Sherlock. “But I did see it, so the question is: how? How?”

John couldn’t be bothered with this. What the hell did it matter what Sherlock had or had not seen? It didn’t give him any right to treat John like shit. “Yes. Yeah, right, good. So you’ve got something to go on, then? Good luck with that.”

He started to walk away and Sherlock called after him, sounding a bit panicked. “Listen, what I said before, John. I meant it - I don't have friends. I’ve just got one.”

John stopped walking away despite himself.

Sherlock clearly took that as a sign, because a chiming series of notes started to play and a moment later, Sherlock joined in.

John, you are my only friend,
Please don't walk away,
I don't mean to offend.

He was serenading him. There was no way John could leave now. He turned slowly and Sherlock visibly relaxed as he continued the song.

You lack my intelligence but somehow spark my genius,
You illuminate answers despite the differences between us.

John let out a quiet sigh. Of course a serenade from Sherlock would include just as many insults as compliments. Well, it was something, at least. He felt the stiffness leech out of his face and Sherlock beamed at him, clearly realising that meant he was forgiven.

He didn’t stop singing, even as they left the graveyard together. John wasn’t going to complain about that, though. He rather liked hearing Sherlock singing nice things about him – well, mostly nice things.

I don’t have friends, I just have one,” sang Sherlock, managing a bit of a side-stepping dance as they continued down the road. “But as long as that one is you, why should I mind?

John huffed out a breath. “Flatterer,” he muttered. Sherlock beamed at him, looking as amused by the lyrics he was singing as John was.

What other friend would I need when your comments are so well-timed?
They point to the door I need to unlock in my mind,
And yet to the answers you remain completely blind.

“Yeah, alright, I get it,” said John.

Sherlock’s grin only grew wider and he managed another verse on how helpful John was despite his apparent stupidity. John shook his head and found himself inserting interjections at the end of every line.

Sherlock brought the solo to a close with a repeat of, “I don’t have friends, I just have one/ but as long as that one is you, why should I mind?

He held the final note for several beats while John added, “You utter git, thank god that’s over.”

It was only then that John realised that his additions had become part of the song. He may not have sung with Sherlock, but he definitely taken part in his song. He glanced at Sherlock as the atmosphere music faded away, wondering if he was going to be annoyed that John had chipped in like that.

Sherlock didn’t appear to have even noticed. In fact, he seemed to have forgotten the song entirely in favour of moving back to the case.

“H.O.U.N.D.” he was saying excitedly. “What if it’s not a word? What if it's individual letters?”

John let himself get caught up in his excitement and followed close behind as they headed off to god-knows-where.

Sherlock's new song made a brief reappearance the next morning, after John had worked out that Sherlock had drugged him and then deliberately tried to make John hallucinate, terrifying the life out of him.

“Oh God. It was you. You locked me in that bloody lab,” he realised, and Sherlock's face fell into the familiar lines of 'faking contrition'. In the background, the strains of I Don't Have Friends began to softly play. “Oh no,” said John quickly. “That one only works once – you can't keep singing the same song and expect it to keep working.”

The music died off. “Well, I knew what effect the drug had had on a superior mind, so I needed to try it on an average one,” said Sherlock.

John sighed. Just another day in the life of being Sherlock’s only friend.

****

Moriarty dramatically reappeared, dressed in the crown jewels and smirking in a way John didn't trust as he was arrested. Sherlock was asked to testify at his trial, which John thought was going to prove to be a mistake.

He was proved right when Sherlock launched into a solo whilst on the witness stand, despite the judge's repeated warnings that any singing would be treated as being in contempt of court. John put his hand over his face and tried to ignore the fact that the song Sherlock was singing was the same as the one Moriarty had sung to them in the pool, with only minor lyric changes.

He's the spider in the web,
He's the shadow in the dark,
He's the brain behind the crime,
Nothing but evil in his heart.

The judge did not appreciate the solo and promptly had Sherlock arrested and banned from the court for the rest of the trial. John watched the verdict be read out alone, so there was no-one for him to express his utter outrage to when Moriarty was proclaimed not guilty. He called Sherlock as soon as he could but he didn't seem surprised at the verdict, and he definitely wasn't interested in listening to John's rant about it.

It was with some relief that John saw Lestrade and a couple of other police officers leaving the courthouse. “This is bullshit,” he said in lieu of a greeting.

Lestrade looked as sickened by the whole thing as John was. “You can say that again.”

“I can't believe he's just walking free,” said John. “After everything!”

“We'll get him next time,” said one of the other officers. John thought he might have been called Lawrence.

“What, after he's blown up the centre of London?” asked John.

Lestrade put a hand on John's shoulder. “We're going for a drink,” he said. “Want to join us?”

“Definitely,” said John.

He was pretty tipsy when he got back to 221B, and still a bit down from the Sometimes Justice Just Goes Wrong lament that he'd sung with the police in the pub. Sherlock was sat in his armchair, fingers resting together and the look on his face that meant his mind was so far away that he wouldn't hear a word John said. For some reason he'd got out the expensive tea set and it was still on the table. John looked at it and tried to work out the chances of Sherlock washing it up, but the probability was too minute for his brain to be able to comprehend it.

He sighed, picked it up, and headed for the kitchen. “I’m going to assume that if you knew what Moriarty was up to, you’d let me know,” he said as he went. “Although, god knows I’ve got no basis for that assumption.”

Sherlock only responded with a distracted hum that turned into a tune. It took John a moment to realise it was Moriarty’s spider song and he felt himself shudder as he set the tea set next to the sink. This wasn’t going to end well.

****

It didn’t. Moriarty’s web closed in around Sherlock and the police arrived at 221B, half of them whistling Justice! as they led Sherlock away. It wasn’t until the Chief Inspector actually starting singing it that John punched him. This wasn’t bloody justice, this was the opposite of it.

He was handcuffed and shoved against the car next to Sherlock, who threw him a smirk. Their theme started to play in the background, and John couldn’t keep in a laugh.

“Only we could have a theme that plays when we get arrested,” he said.

“No,” disagreed Sherlock. “Only we could have a theme that plays as we escape police custody.”

“What?” asked John, by which time it was too late. Sherlock had grabbed a gun and they were running through a back alley, the music swirling around them as it sped up to match the rhythm of their footsteps.

It kept playing all through the night, slowing to a quiet, stealthy beat as they waited in the dark at Kitty Riley’s flat, speeding up again as Moriarty fled out of the window and they chased after him, and then fading to a background beat that John barely heard as he confronted Mycroft. By then it felt as much a part of him as his heartbeat, as if it could never end while he was still breathing.

He went to Barts to find Sherlock holed up in a lab. The music slowed further, taking on a sinister, creeping tone that John tried to ignore. Things were bad, but they could still fix this. Sherlock could still fix this – he was genius. He’d come up with something.

John’s phone rang, and their theme cut out as completely as if it had never been. John blinked at Sherlock, who stared at him with a face so blank that it might have been carved from stone as John answered the phone.

“Mrs Hudson – she’s been shot. Probably one of the killers you managed to attract ... Jesus. She’s dying, Sherlock. Let’s go,” he said to Sherlock, but Sherlock’s expression didn’t change.

“You go. I’m busy,” he said, as if it was of no importance. John just gaped at him.

No amount of persuading could get Sherlock to even appear to care about Mrs. Hudson, so John dashed off on his own, after a few choice words about Sherlock’s lack of humanity. He was furious and worried and trying hard to keep calm as he rushed across London to Baker Street.

Mrs. Hudson was fine. John stared at her, then turned and dashed back to the hospital, the tune of Crazy Madman playing in the background as his heart pounded. He had to get to Sherlock before he did something stupid. Again.

Too late. Always too late. He wondered if he should get himself a new theme song with that as the main lyric.

Sherlock called him, standing on the edge of the roof as if he were a bloody bird. As John stared up at him, his heart in his throat, their theme started to play, the music surging between them with a melancholy air to it that he had never heard before.

Over the phone, Sherlock took in a deep breath and John realised he was preparing to sing.

“Oh no,” he said, cutting off the tune. “No, you bloody don’t. You don’t get to sing that now, not after- God, Sherlock. Just come down.”

“I can’t,” said Sherlock. “This phone call, it’s my note. It’s what people do, don’t they – leave a note?”

“Leave a note when?” asked John, nausea rising up in his stomach.

“Goodbye, John,” said Sherlock. “I wish I had sung with you, just once.”

Far above John, a tiny dark figure threw his phone aside, spread his arms and fell forwards.

John ran forward but it was like moving through treacle. A bike hit him and he fell down, but he barely noticed. All the sound had gone, swallowed by the sight of Sherlock’s body tumbling through the air and then hitting the ground with a sickening thud.

“No, he’s my friend. He’s my friend. Please,” he gasped, but he couldn’t even hear himself. He fell to his knees beside Sherlock and reached for his pulse, even though he could already see it was far too late. He clutched at Sherlock’s coat, and then allowed arms to pull him away.

“Please, he’s my madman,” he said. “My crazy madman.”

****

A week later, he was sat in 221B, listening to the silence that Sherlock’s death had left behind. There was no music any more. He hadn’t heard a single note since Sherlock’s death.

A month later, his therapist was trying to be understanding while she told him that he needed to find his grief song. He told her that he didn’t hear music any more, and she frowned.

“Not even street ensembles?” she asked.

“Especially not street ensembles,” said John. “What on earth do I care if it’s raining or not?”

It wasn’t until he’d said it that he realised he was quoting Sherlock. He took a deep breath and ducked his head to hide his face from her. “There’s just nothing to sing about now,” he finished once he’d got himself under control.

She sighed and made a note on her pad that he was sure wasn’t good. He couldn’t really bring himself to care.

A year later, he was standing in front of the grave, trying to find words for everything that Sherlock had meant to him, when he heard distant, floating notes. It was a slow, dirge-like version of their theme, and as it played, John realised he could sing it now. All the words would come to him, and Sherlock would be unable to stop him from opening his mouth and letting them out.

Instead, he gritted his teeth, executed a military turn, and marched out of the graveyard.

****

Three years after Sherlock had died, John was in his room at the surgery, making notes on his last patient when the door opened and an old man came in.

John glanced at him and tried not to frown. He hadn’t buzzed for his next patient yet, why had Linda sent him through?

“I’m sorry, I just need one more moment,” he said. “Please, sit down.”

The old man made an annoyed noise but stalked over to a chair without speaking. John turned his attention back to his computer screen.

He was vaguely aware of the old man moving in the corner of his eye as he typed, but he ignored it. It was rather warm in the treatment room, he was probably just taking off his coat.

When he hit ‘save’ on Kelly Landfirth’s file and turned back to the man, he had removed a lot more than just his coat. He’d pulled off a wig and a false beard as well, and was in the process of wiping what looked like make-up off his face.

“What-?” John started to ask, but he stopped dead when the man looked at him, and he realised it was Sherlock.

“Oh,” he gasped.

“John,” said Sherlock. “I am-”

“No,” said John. “No, it can’t-” He stood up, meaning to go over and touch Sherlock and make sure he was real. Standing was a mistake, though. He suddenly came over light-headed and had to collapse back into the chair as black spots formed in front of his eyes.

“Christ,” he heard himself say from a long way off.

“Damn,” said Sherlock, and it was Sherlock’s voice, deep and familiar, and annoyed by something. John, probably.

Jesus Christ, there was a dead man in John’s consulting room.

“Come on, John,” said Sherlock, a lot closer now. When had he moved?

John took a deep breath, and then another, and opened his eyes to see Sherlock kneeling in front of him, his hands hovering over John as if he had no idea what to do with them.

“You utter bastard,” he croaked out.

Sherlock’s mouth twisted. “I apologise, John. I wasn’t expecting you to be so affected.”

John gaped at him. “You weren’t- For fuck’s sake, Sherlock! You died! What did you expect?”

“I’m sorry,” said Sherlock again, as if those words ever meant anything from him. “I had to. It was that or watch you die.”

John stared at him, unable to find any words, and Sherlock took that as his cue to explain. He told John all about Moriarty’s plan, how there had been three snipers aimed at him, Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson, and how Sherlock had been forced to jump to keep them alive.

As he spoke, atmosphere music started to play, a version of Sherlock’s The Clues Are Coming Together that started quietly, but took on a triumphant air as Sherlock described how he’d taken down Moriarty’s organisation. As he reached the final part of his story, his words began to fall in with the rhythm of the tune, and John realised he was about to break out into song.

He wasn’t putting up with that. Being left to mourn for three years was bad enough without having to listen to Sherlock sing about how brilliant he’d been to do so.

“Fine,” he said, cutting harshly into Sherlock’s words and halting the music. “Moriarty forced you to jump. Why the hell didn’t you tell me you were alive? Three years! That’s more than enough time to send me a bloody note!”

Sherlock hesitated. “I couldn’t risk it.”

“Bollocks,” said John.

Sherlock scowled. “I couldn’t,” he insisted. “If you’d known, you’d have given it away – your acting is atrocious, John, we both know that.”

John stared at him for a long time, anger rushing in to replace the shock.

“You fucking bastard,” he spat out, and music rose up to join him. Angry guitars struck discordant notes as the lyrics came to his lips. “You left me alone/ You fucking bastard/ Couldn’t even pick up a phone!

“John,” Sherlock tried to interrupt, but it was futile. John was caught up in the full flow of the song and he stood up to get right up in Sherlock’s face to sing it.

Sherlock gave in, and stood in silence as John sang out his rage and his pain. By the time he’d finished, he was out of breath and shaking.

I thought you were dead!
You have a grave,
And yet here you are instead.
Did it occur to you,
At any point,
Of all you’ve put me through?
You left me alone,
You fucking bastard,
You fucking bastard!

“John, you must understand that there was no other way,” said Sherlock. John glared at him and felt his fists clench.

Sherlock took a very deep breath and a slow thread of music started to play; low, sorrowful notes that stood out in stark contrast to the last song that had played.

I owe you a thousand apologies,” sang Sherlock.

John sighed, and moved back to sit down into his chair.

I beg you a thousand pardons,
I can never truly express,
Just how sorry I am.

Well, that was a good start, John supposed. He might as well let Sherlock sing himself out.

I never meant to cause you so much pain,
I never meant to hurt you this much,
I can never express,
Just how sorry I am.

By the end of the song, John was well on his way to forgiving Sherlock, to his intense annoyance. There was no way that Sherlock could be faking the depth of emotion behind his lyrics and by the time he finished his final verse, John could feel his anger crumbling.

I was so alone without my blogger,
I missed you more than I can say,
I can never express,
Just how sorry I am.

“I was alone too,” he pointed out when Sherlock had finished and was just staring at him with worried eyes.

“I am aware,” said Sherlock. “Now I have returned, neither of us have to be alone again. 221B is still empty, you know. I intend to move back in as soon as I have spoken to Mrs. Hudson, and I hope you will join me. Your current flat is terrible, after all.”

“You’re expecting me to just come back as if nothing has happened?” John asked incredulously.

“No,” corrected Sherlock. “I am hoping you will. Please, John.”

John didn’t speak, too caught up in the conflicting impulses. There was nothing he wanted more than to be able to get back the life he had had with Sherlock, but how could he just let three years of misery go as if they had never happened?

“Right, fine,” said Sherlock. “At least come with me this evening.”

John frowned. “What’s this evening?”

A small smile crossed Sherlock’s face. “The final nail in Moriarty’s coffin,” he said. “I thought you might like to help hammer it in.”

Well, John couldn’t deny that. “When and where do you want me?”

Sherlock beamed.

****

Apparently, where Sherlock wanted him was creeping through a house that was more building site than habitable building, and when was in the middle of the night. John followed Sherlock through rooms filled with piles of wood and bags of cement and up stairs that looked a strong breeze away from collapsing and couldn’t help thinking that this was just like the old times that he had missed more than anything.

Very faintly, atmosphere music started to play and it took John a moment to realise that it was their theme.

Sherlock turned back with a frown. “We have to be absolutely silent,” he whispered.

“I can’t control it,” John hissed back but the moment had passed, along with the music.

Sherlock gave him a fierce glare and continued to climb up the stairs.

Just like old times, thought John again, but this time there was no joy in the thought.

They made it to the top floor of the building without falling through any floorboards. Sherlock marched over to the window and looked out, and then turned back to John with a triumphant look on his face.

“Look,” he whispered, gesturing at the window.

John went over and had a look out. The window looked out over Baker Street and he could see right through the window of 221B. He blinked in surprise when he realised he could see Sherlock’s silhouette inside, perched on his chair with his back to the window. He threw the real Sherlock a confused look and only got a smirk in response.

Somewhere behind them, there was a creak from the staircase. Sherlock grabbed John’s arm, putting his finger to his lips as he pulled him into the shadows between the fireplace and the open door.

They crouched down, huddling back against the wall together, and John tried to ignore the way he could feel Sherlock’s body trembling with excitement where it was pressed against his.

The shadow of a man crept through the doorway, carrying a long case. He crossed to the window and looked out, just as they had moments before. Sherlock’s hand crept around John’s wrist, clutching at him to keep him in place.

The figure crouched, opened the case and started to take bits out of it and fitting them together. It took John several moments to recognise it as a sniper rifle, but when he did he felt every muscle tense. Sherlock’s grip on his wrist tightened.

It wasn’t until the man had stood up with the rifle, aimed it carefully through the window and pulled the trigger that Sherlock moved. He darted forward with a wild cry, grabbing the gun from the man’s surprised hands and flinging it across the room.

The man’s surprise didn’t last past that. He threw himself at Sherlock and in no time they were on the floor, grappling and clawing at each other. It was a mess, frankly, and John wondered why a man who knew how to use a sniper rifle had never learnt how to fight properly. He ran over to where Sherlock had dropped the rifle and picked it up, then turned back to the tangle of limbs on the floor. As he watched, Sherlock bit the man’s hand and was rewarded with a sharp tug to his hair. Honestly, it was like watching toddlers fight.

John waited until he had a clear blow, then brought the butt of the rifle firmly down on the assassin’s head. He immediately slumped, unconscious.

Sherlock pulled himself out from under the body and gave John a pleased look. “Thank you,” he said, and then added, “I was winning, of course.”

“Of course,” said John dryly. “Never doubted it.”

They were standing barely inches apart. Sherlock looked down into John’s eyes with a smile while his chest heaved from the vigour of the fight. There was a beat as they both just stared, and then music started to play.

Our theme, John thought, and wondered how long it would take for Sherlock to cut it off.

He didn’t, though. Instead, he took John’s hands in his own, looking at him as if there was nothing else in the world.

The intro reached its end and the music swelled for the first line. John felt his mouth open as the lyrics moved through him. God, were they actually going to sing?

Before I met you, I was so alone,” he sang, every part of him feeling the power and truth of the words.

The next line was Sherlock’s. “Before you, I didn't understand the concept of 'home',” he sang, his hands gripping tighter at John’s as if he was seeking reassurance. His voice was steady though, and John realised that they were finally – finally! - singing together.

The world to me was only grey,” he sang.

I kept my emotions locked away,” returned Sherlock.

My hand trembled and my leg hurt.

All that mattered to me was the work.

Then I met you, who set my heart racing.

Then there was you, who called me amazing.

John felt himself getting completely caught up in the surge of music as it built towards the chorus. It hadn’t just been him – Sherlock was feeling the same things as him and had been all along, since the first time this song had tried to play, on the very first day that they’d met.

The chorus began, and they sang it together, their voices reaching a perfect harmony.

I want us to run forever,
I want us to stand together,
I want our lives to take place side by side,
While we walk together, stride by stride.

Sherlock made a tiny face at the end of it and John knew he was despairing of how sentimental the words were. John just laughed as they headed into the second verse.

You share your brilliance with me,” he sang.

You make excellent cups of tea,” returned Sherlock.

The rest of the verse detailed the ways their lives had woven together and it wasn’t until the end of it that John realised the lyrics were three years out of date. When had he last made Sherlock tea? Before they were arrested, probably.

They launched back into the chorus, but John couldn’t throw himself into it in quite the same way as he had before. This song should have been theirs before. What did it mean now, after Sherlock had left him to believe he was dead for three years?

There wasn’t another verse after that chorus. Instead the music slowed, calming to a melancholy bridge that Sherlock sang alone.

I left you behind, the hardest thing I’ve done.
An unforgivable crime, leaving you with no-one.
I wanted you with me every day,
But it was the price I had to pay
Far better for you to be alive and hate me,
Than to have you dead, never to make more tea.

Sherlock’s hands clenched at John’s tightly enough to hurt, and then he went back to the chorus, his voice singing alone until John pulled himself together enough to join in on the third line. Sherlock gave him a relieved look and his grip relaxed as they ran through the chorus again together, coming to a climactic finish.

There was a pause as they just stared at each other and then slow, sarcastic applause started from the doorway. John looked around to find Lestrade and Donovan standing there, watching them.

“Take it that means you’ve forgiven him, then,” said Lestrade.

John gave a bit of a shrug. He wasn’t embarrassed to have been overheard, but he would have preferred to keep the first time they sang that song private.

Sherlock let go of John’s hands in order to spin away and gesture at the unconscious man on the floor. “Detective Inspector, this is Colonel Sebastian Moran, Moriarty’s right-hand-man, assassin, and general all-round bad guy. You can arrest him right now for my attempted murder, but I’ll be able to provide you with evidence of a whole host of other crimes when I come to Scotland Yard tomorrow.”

“Yes, god, please arrest me,” said Moran, who was apparently less unconscious than John had thought. “Before they burst into any more drippingly sentimental duets.”

Lestrade glanced at Donovan, who sighed and pulled out her handcuffs. “Sebastian Moran, I’m arresting you. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence,” she said, pulling him to his feet and cuffing him.

“You’re not coming to the Yard today?” said Lestrade to Sherlock.

“No,” said Sherlock. “I’ve got far better things to do. Come on, John, let’s go and congratulate Mrs. Hudson on her dummy-moving skills.”

He darted out the door and John gave Lestrade a commiserating look before following him, wondering how it was possible for them all to fall back into their old patterns so quickly. It was as if the last three years hadn’t happened at all, which was just how John would like it, given the choice. Singing with Sherlock had finally laid to rest all his anger, particularly after Sherlock’s solo section. How could he stay angry when Sherlock had willingly sung his emotions like that? Without even grimacing at the sentimentally of it all?

Mrs. Hudson apparently knew that Sherlock was alive but hadn’t for very long, if the way she kept patting at him as if making sure he was really there was anything to go by. John could sympathise. He wanted to reach out for Sherlock’s hand again but now that they weren’t singing together, it somehow seemed an imposition.

They all went up to 221B together to inspect the Sherlock dummy that Moran had shot, but John was too distracted by being back in the flat and finding that nothing had been moved since he was last there to pay much attention to the details of Sherlock’s plan. Every single one of Sherlock’s possessions was still in place, where John had left them when he took his stuff and escaped all the memories.

“Didn’t Mycroft ever come by to pack all this up?” he asked Mrs. Hudson. “I did text him.”

“He came by,” she said, “but only to tell me not to move anything, and to take over paying the rent. He hasn’t been back since, just keeps paying the rent month after month. I thought it was a rather sentimental gesture for him, but now-” She broke off and looked at Sherlock, who was bent over the wax head of the dummy, frowning at the bullet hole.

“Yes, yes,” said Sherlock. “I put him up to it. I was hoping I’d eventually be back in London and needing somewhere to stay.” He darted a quick sideways look at John. “Somewhere with two bedrooms.”

John let out a slow breath and looked around the flat again. Could he really move back in here with Sherlock as if nothing happened? Dive right back in to being the detective’s assistant without stopping to think about whether or not Sherlock was likely to do something like this to him again?

He looked at Sherlock, whose expression gave away exactly how much he hoped John would say yes. God, of course he was going to.

“I’ll have to give a month’s notice.”

Sherlock beamed. “That doesn’t mean you can’t move in here immediately.”

“Oh, how lovely,” said Mrs. Hudson. “It will be so nice to have you both back here, as it should be.”

“Yes, yes,” said Sherlock. “Mrs. Hudson, why don’t you make us some tea to celebrate?”

“Well, just this once,” she said, bustling into the kitchen. “Oh, there’s no tea or milk or anything here. You’ll have to get some in, but I’ll use mine for now.”

She disappeared downstairs to her flat.

Sherlock gave John a small smile. “How much are you willing to bet that tea and milk have appeared in our kitchen by tomorrow?”

John grinned back. “I’m not stupid enough to take that bet,” he said.

“No,” agreed Sherlock. There was a long moment where he just looked at John, clearly as pleased that they were together again as John was. When Sherlock finally tore his eyes away to look around the flat again, John thought, I want our lives to take place side by side.

“Lots of other things we’ll need to sort out, though,” said Sherlock, wandering about and picking up his laptop. “This is horribly out-of-date now, if it even still works. And I’ll need a new phone. Should update the website as well, I suppose – my one, not your useless blog. You should feel free to let that stay dormant, you know.”

“Not a chance of it,” said John. He let out a long breath and then walked over to Sherlock, finally giving in to the urge to take his hand. “After all, I have a loyal readership to keep updated on both your brilliance and your moments of idiocy.”

Sherlock’s fingers shifted restlessly in his, then gripped back. “I don’t have moments of idiocy,” he said, but his voice was uncertain.

“We both do,” said John, and proved it by leaning forward and kissing Sherlock.

Sherlock froze and John began to feel panic well up in him that he’d made the wrong move. No, he told himself. We both sang the lyrics, we both want to spend our lives together.

He pulled away to see Sherlock staring at him with utter shock. “John,” he whispered, and then his voice dried up.

John felt his shoulders firm into a military posture. “You want us to walk together,” he said, as if that was any kind of useful explanation. Luckily for him, Sherlock was good at deciphering the meaning behind things.

“Stride by stride,” he agreed, and bent down to kiss John. John gave himself into it, feeling all the joy and relief at having Sherlock back, at getting this second chance, surge through him. Music began to swell around them, the triumphant chorus of their duet sweeping them up in its notes as they pulled each other close.

“Here we are,” announced Mrs. Hudson, coming in with a tea tray. “Oh! Oh, about time.”

John tried to pull away from Sherlock’s lips, but Sherlock just tightened his grip on John’s shoulders and kept him in closer.

“I’ll just come back later,” said Mrs. Hudson, and disappeared again.

“Sherlock,” hissed John, mortified.

“Plenty of time for Mrs. Hudson later,” said Sherlock, kissing John again.

“Plenty of time for this later,” John pointed out.

“Yes,” agreed Sherlock. “Both now and later.”

He kissed John again, and John gave up on protesting it.

“So much for needing two bedrooms,” he muttered against Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock just made an amused sound of agreement, and kissed him as their theme began to play softly in the background.