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For the remainder of his tour as a combat medic in Kandahar Province, John receives only two emails from Sherlock, but they’re both rather memorable ones.

~ 24 December 2008 ~

think i may have miscaalculated again. probablt not faatal but just incase my appppologiesfor any distress
sh

John is spending the holiday at a makeshift canvas-roofed combat hospital somewhere in Panjwayi, which has the luxury of occasional internet and phone access. He reads the message late Christmas morning and his mouth goes sand-dry. Ludicrously, his hand twitches toward his gun first, as if he’s in danger himself, as if there’s something he can do.

Not funny, Sherlock. Where are you?
JW

Fucking answer me, you idiot.
J

Right, I’m phoning your brother, pretty sure I have his contact info somewhere.

He doesn’t, actually--can’t even remember the posh bastard’s name. The only phone number he can find in connection with Sherlock is that damned detective inspector’s, and John’s not even sure if it’s a private line or a police number. He dials it anyway.

“Five-thirty on Christmas morning,” says a raspy, sleepy voice 3500 miles away. “This ought to be good.”

*

~ 26 December 2008 ~

He’s fine, more or less. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Found him in the Montague Street flat as you suggested, off his head and sick as a dog. Dragged him back to my place till he can get cleaned up and on his feet again. Will send you the bill for my ruined rug and spoiled xmas dinner. (Joke. No worries. Nothing better to do anyway since my ex has the kids for the holiday.)

If he’s too embarrassed to say thanks then I’ll say it for him. Thanks. You’re a better friend than he deserves. Hope it’s going all right for you out there.

Happy New Year to you and yours and the troops,
(Detective Inspector) G. Lestrade

~ 27 December 2008 ~

Thanks for letting me know. Happy New Year to you, too.
John Watson

John doesn’t trust himself to say anything else, or to try and get in touch with Sherlock directly. There’s no time, anyway, and no space in his brain for it these days. Fucking addicts, he thinks to himself, and goes to clean his weapon again.

*

In April 2009, John gets a manila envelope in the post. From the looks of it, it’s been to every province and district in the country and been opened up, rifled through, and re-sealed at each stop along the way. It contains a collection of newspaper clippings, most but not all from London papers, one in Spanish and one in Arabic. There’s no note attached--lost, or never included to begin with, more likely.

He fires off a quick email to Sherlock:

Nice work. Glad to see you’ve been keeping busy. I especially like the one where the snake turned out to be the murder weapon.
JW

The reply is sent several days later.

Sensationalised media account. He was injecting his victims with the venom, in fact, but that makes for a much less showy story. It does help to stay busy as much as possible, I find. Not always possible. Will you be back when your tour ends?
SH

John doesn’t answer. First because he doesn’t get the message for over a fortnight, then because he’s not sure what to say, and then because it’s been so long that he’s fairly sure Sherlock no longer cares about his reply. If he ever did in the first place. If he wasn’t just asking to be polite.

Sherlock doesn’t do anything just to be polite, though, he remembers.

So he plans to answer the email, the next time it’s feasible to do so. He composes a number of responses in his head, and maybe he’ll even get round to typing one of them out and sending it, eventually, whenever he’s on base again. Right after the Maywand operation, probably.

~ 27 July 2009 ~

He’s only a few feet away from the open door of the Chinook when the first blast clips him in the back of the leg, throwing him to his knees. The second one shoves him flat to the ground, face in the dust while he waits for the third. Please, God, let--

~ 31 July 2009 ~

He isn’t killed. Not quite. Consciousness is hard to come by and excruciating to maintain, but he’s almost certain he’s not been killed. Instead he’s still being killed, the bullets tearing into his flesh over and over and over and over again in an endless repeating time loop.

Then he’s sedated more heavily again, which is like death. It’s too bad. There was something he meant to do. There was everything he meant to do, but it dwindles in the distance.

*

~ Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, 28 August 2009 ~

The second operation on his shoulder goes badly, though he won’t realise how badly for some time. Pumped full of drugs and buzzing with fever, John lies in bed and hallucinates entire landscapes composed of pulped and screaming bloody things that used to be human, crunching under his feet. He can’t help them, can’t even silence them. His arms end at the wrist in mutilated stumps, bright bone shards protruding.

There are respites, too, kinder scenery from time to time when the morphine level peaks. Cool water and gentle hands. Sherlock is there, one of these times, standing by his bed looking crisp and restless.

“I meant to write you,” John tells him. “I would have.”

“Did you? I wondered.”

“You’re not actually here, are you?” John asks, after a bit.

“Definitely not,” Sherlock assures him. He looks subtly different from the way John generally sees him in his head, and John closes his eyes, not wanting to see Sherlock’s face melt off or whatever his brain has planned for him, but it doesn’t happen. When he looks again, Sherlock has simply vanished, leaving nothing behind, not a thread or a lingering scent or the memory of a ghost-touch. Nothing.

~ 8 October 2009 ~

The physio has been grueling and the psych counseling is frankly offensive, but John endures it all with determinedly cheerful stoicism until the day he gets called in for a meeting that he believes will be about his reassignment but turns out to be instead about his medical discharge and pension plan. It’s like being shot all over again. Worse, because he feels the shattering impact of every word, without the mercy of ever losing consciousness. He begins to argue--how could he not argue?--but stops when the uniformed men across the table begin exchanging significant looks.

“There are psychological issues at play here as well,” one of them says. “We have notes here in your file, dating back to--”

“Whose notes? Notes on what?” John demands, reaching across the table in blind outrage.

The commander slides the brown folder out of his reach and raises his eyebrows. “You’re proving our point here, you do realise. Why don’t you take some time and--”

“No, got it, thanks,” John says, pushing back his chair and grabbing for the cane. “I’ll read through the paperwork. I’ll have plenty of time, apparently. Good morning.”

His hand is shaking so violently that he drops the sheaf of papers he’s been given. He can’t stoop to pick them up. He can’t stop moving, or he’ll go down.

*

~ 12 October 2009 ~

I need a medical opinion on the amount of shaving foam an adult male could consume without permanent damage or fatality resulting. Please respond soon if possible.
--SH

John ignores the message.

~ 14 October 2009 ~

Will need to engage self as a test subject in lieu of a response on the shaving cream question. Please respond.
--SH

~ 15 October 2009 ~

I’m disappointed, John. I thought you cared. All right, I’ll have to come at the problem from a different angle, then.
--SH

The next day, Sherlock turns up at the ambulatory ward during afternoon visiting hours. When the nurse on duty notifies him, John thinks of refusing to see him, but decides it will be easier to get this over with here and now.

Sherlock walks in as if he owns the place, wearing a dramatic-looking black coat that John hasn’t seen before. He looks strikingly out of place. And striking, period. John watches him look carefully at every object in his curtained-off section of the ward and then finally at John himself. John steels himself and just about manages not to flinch.

“Oh, I see,” Sherlock says softly. “Well. That’s excellent news, isn’t it? You’re no longer in danger of being horribly killed at any moment, and I can make good use of you in London.”

John surprises himself with a very rusty-sounding laugh. “I’m of no use to anyone, I’m afraid,” he says. “How did you know I was here?”

“I have connections who kept me informed of your whereabouts,” Sherlock tells him. “I’ve been here before,” he adds. “Twice, in fact. You seemed partially lucid the second time; I thought you might have remembered.”

John had suspected it might not have been a hallucination. The fact that there was another time is a bit of a shock, though, along with the news that there are apparently shadowy government presences keeping tabs on his movements--presences in three-piece suits, no doubt.

He thinks about Sherlock watching him when he was in god-knows-what state, observing him. He should be moved, or angry, creeped-out, something. He should be curious about why Sherlock had bothered coming all the way to Birmingham more than once, but John isn’t curious. He isn’t anything.

“Come round and see me in London,” he says, because it's an easy way to extricate himself from awkward hospital visits, he’s found. “I’m getting out of here in a few days. Staying with Harry for a bit until I find my feet. I'll get in touch.”

“No, you won’t,” Sherlock says, studying him keenly.

“Would you--” John starts to snap. Stop looking at me, he wants to say.

“Yes?” Sherlock asks.

“Nothing.” John blinks up at him, smiling politely, swallowing it down. “Never mind. Bit tired. Thanks for coming, I’m really very touched that you’d think of me.”

“Hm. Unpleasant being on the other side of the hospital bed, isn’t it? And you’ve never answered my shaving foam question yet.”

“Quite tired actually,” John says, settling back against the pillow. “Sorry.”

“I didn’t make it up, if that’s what you think,” Sherlock continues, pacing up and down the length of the tiny cubicle now. “Well, all right, I did make it up, but it was based on a query I used to solve a case of sorts when I was only ten years old. A knowledge of all the available brands of shaving foam and their unique chemical properties is absolutely essential, I’ve found, and it’s incredibly difficult because the market is constantly changing. I have to round them all up and run a full analytic study at least once every two years. Once a year would be better, but there are also toothpastes to keep up with, and deodorants, and let’s not even get started on the variety of hair care products out there...”

John feigns sleep, his never-fail last-resort gambit for getting rid of unwanted visitors. He actually falls asleep at some point while waiting for Sherlock to shut up and take the hint.

*

~ 23 November 2009 ~

London is cold, in every sense. It’s amazing to John that such a big city can feel so sterile and dead. Amazing, too, how easily he’s able to slip beneath the surface of things and disappear, after the first couple of weeks. He’s a textbook case of every cautionary tale he’s ever heard about post-combat psychology, which feels unbearably shameful. Even that is textbook. How can he know this and still fall into every trap the human mind can set for itself?

At least, he thinks, he doesn’t have a family to fuck up. Not much of one, anyway. Harry would be Harry no matter what; he’s only her latest excuse.

He’s not terribly surprised that there’s been no word from Sherlock. Off somewhere curled up with his habit again, probably. Or with Lestrade.

~ 18 December 2009 ~

It’s a text message this time, not an email. At first John fails to recognise the sounds his mobile is making.

In need of emergency medical assistance very near your flat.
Can you come down or shall I come up?
SH

John’s fingers are clumsy on the tiny keys.

come up if u can, or i cn phone ambulance 4 u? what’s rong?

He waits for a reply, frowning at the tiny screen, and finally tries to ring the number the text message had come from, but gets only an automated response. Ten minutes later there’s a knock on his front door.

“What are you doing here, what’s going on?” John demands as Sherlock brushes past him into the room. His coat is very damp--as well it might be; it’s been pissing down for the past two days. “Are you hurt? How did you even--”

Sherlock shushes him and goes to the window, holding up a hand to forestall any questions as he looks down onto the rain-washed street. John folds his arms and waits.

“Good,” Sherlock says finally, turning back toward him. “Excellent. So.” He looks around. “God, what a depressing little place. Why are you living here? I know they don’t pay Army surgeons all that much, considering the work they do, but years of savings, no dependents...? Oh, I see, the gambling. Well, that was stupid of you. You had to have known this was always a possibility. Anyhow, you’ve managed to scrape together enough to buy a gun on the black market; that’s good, it’ll come in handy. Gun oil,” he explains to John’s open-mouthed expression. “It has a very distinctive odour.” He smiles, clearly pleased with himself. “Were you going to offer me a cup of tea?” he suggests.

“No,” John says. “What emergency medical assistance are you in need of?”

“Oh, none at all.” Sherlock unwinds his scarf and shakes water droplets out of his hair. “I’m staking out a restaurant in the next street and wanted a place to get out of the wet. And I’ve been curious about where you’re staying. I thought if I just asked to come up you might say no.”

“Yeah, I would have,” John says with an edge on his voice. “Not exactly the sort of flat you invite company up to, is it?”

“No, it’s dreadful.” Sherlock goes over to the window again. “You must have had a terrible falling-out with your sister. She was very rude when I went round.”

“Yes, well, it’s a small place, but the privacy’s nice,” John tells him pointedly.

Sherlock scoffs. “You were in the Army for how long? You don’t care about privacy. You don’t know what to do with it.”

John opens the door to the flat and stands there, waiting.

“Aren’t you going to ask me about my case?” Sherlock looks offended.

“Not in the mood to provide an audience,” John tells him.

“Oh. Still too busy brooding. I see. I’d hoped you might be over that stage by now. Well, I’ll leave you to it, then.”

“What are you using lately, anyway?” John asks, as Sherlock finally turns to go. “Still the cocaine, or have you moved on to the really good stuff yet?”

“High on life,” Sherlock says, dripping with sarcasm. “Enjoy your daytime television. I’m sure it’s riveting.”

John manages not to tell him to piss off as he closes the door, but it’s a near thing.

~ 19 December 2009 ~

Sorry about yesterday. Bad day.
--JW

There’s no immediate response, and after checking his email more often than usual for a few days, John begins to feel irritated. Why should he be the one to apologise, anyhow? It hadn’t just been a bad day, it had been a fucking awful day. He’d been awake most of the night before, his shoulder was killing him, and he’d fallen on the front steps to the building earlier that day trying to juggle a sack of groceries along with the cane and an umbrella. All of which Sherlock might very well have deduced for himself.

~ 23 December 2009 ~

You wanted sympathy? Concern?
--SH

No, but the tough love routine is a bit rubbish, too.
--JW

~ 24 December 2009 ~

311 Kilburn High Road
Come if convenient.
--SH

It’s the address of the pub where they met five years ago. It’s decidedly inconvenient, in fact, but John goes anyway, because all the alternatives are too depressing to contemplate.

Sherlock is sitting at the same end of the bar where John first saw him. He doesn’t glance up when John comes in, and John is able to observe him for a few moments, staring down pensively at his drink. His hair is longer than it was a few years ago, and it suits him. He’s still a weird-looking bloke, probably, but it’s been quite a while since John’s been able to think of him as anything but gorgeous. He almost loses his nerve and goes straight back out again, but Sherlock looks up and sees him just then, face lighting up in a surprised smile, and John squares himself to face whatever the evening may hold.

*

“I loathe Christmas,” Sherlock says, when John wishes him a merry one.

“Yes, so I gathered.” John signals to the barman for a pint. “Not trying for a repeat performance this year, I hope.”

“It has become something of an annual occurrence,” Sherlock admits. “Not by design, I assure you. Why didn’t you contact me after the last time?”

“I...wait, what? No. You were the one who fell off the face of the planet, after-- I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve drunk enough to have this conversation just yet.”

Sherlock’s eyes travel to the mobile phone John set down on the bar when he’d entered. “You enjoy having heartfelt intoxicated conversations?”

John puts the phone back in his pocket and shakes his head. “Why am I here?” he asks himself out loud.

“Because I fascinate you.” Sherlock rests his chin on one long, elegant hand and quirks a smile at him.

“Fascinate me, then,” John challenges. “Go ahead.”

Sherlock gives a short laugh, swallows the rest of his drink, and begins to tell him about his latest case. By the time he’s through with his third pint John is listening raptly, forgetting where he is, only interrupting with the occasional question or exclamation. It’s true, after all; Sherlock does fascinate him.

“These stories are bloody brilliant,” John tells him. “Your life. My god. You should write it all down. Seriously.”

Sherlock shrugs and makes a face. “Can’t be bothered. Anyway, no one would read it if I did. People want a lot of ridiculous suspense and sensationalism. They’re not interested in the facts.”

“Well, someone should write them down. And I’m interested.” John hears the words as he says them, and his ears start to burn. “Anyway. I’ll just. Be right back.” He jerks his chin toward the Gents’, and Sherlock nods and turns his attention to his drink.

The loos are much further away than John remembered from the last time he was here, and the cane is a lot harder to handle in a crowded pub when he’s had a few. Sherlock is watching, no doubt, and it’s the first time he’s seen John in motion, really, since his injury. It’s a long, long walk.

When he returns, Sherlock is gone.

So. No surprise there, really.

John finishes his drink mechanically, struggles into his coat, checks his phone messages (23:03 Happy fucking christmas little brother, whereever the fcuk you are, ring me tmrw not tooo early --xxHx), and heads out the door, looking up the street in vain for a cab.

“Where are you going?”

Sherlock is leaning against the brickwork front of the pub, smoking a cigarette with his gloves on and his collar turned up, looking...ridiculous, he’s just ridiculous, he’s something from a novel John read when he was a boy and dreamed up as a hallucination. Has to be. John’s back in that hospital bed in Birmingham and the past five years have been a shell-shocked veteran’s fever dream--even that would make more sense than Sherlock, real and in the flesh.

“Home,” John says. “Thought you’d left.”

Sherlock shakes his head and flicks his cigarette away. “Are you up for anything?”

John knows there should be a better, more physiologically accurate term than heart skipped a beat, but that’s fairly descriptive of what it feels like.

“Because I’ve just had a text from Lestrade,” Sherlock goes on. “There’s been a pair of bodies found in a council garden, appears to be a fairly standard stabbing but with some unusual details he wouldn’t go into. I can have a look-in if I run--it’s only a few streets away from here. Care to come along?”

“Oh,” John says. “No. Sorry. Can’t. I’d better be getting back, anyhow.” He gestures helplessly toward his cane, but Sherlock fails to notice; he’s already at his mobile again, fingers flying.

“Right, another time, then,” he says absently. “I’m sure it’s nothing interesting, but just on the off chance-- TAXI!” he shouts, as one passes by, and it halts for him like magic. He’s gone while John is still stammering.

“Fuck,” he says to the departing taillights. “You said run, not drive, you utter cock.”

It’s nearly half an hour before another empty cab comes along and he can go home.

*

~ 2 January 2010 ~

The pounding on his door wakes John from a rare night of dreamless sleep, and he lies in the dark fuming with anger, attempting to ignore the noise until he hears the scrape of something in the lock. He yanks open the door to find Sherlock kneeling in the corridor with a very professional-looking set of picks in hand.

“You weren’t answering,” he says to John’s clearly outraged look. “You could have been lying dead on the floor in here.”

“Sorry to disappoint. As you can see, though, that’s not the case, so you can sod right off again.”

“I wanted you to know that I was hoping to sleep with you again the other night,” Sherlock says, straightening up. “I was distracted by the murders. It’d been weeks since I’d had anything decent going. Cases, not sex,” he adds after a moment or two of icy silence.

John swipes a hand down his face. “All right,” he says. “Let’s have the rest of this conversation inside the flat. You can be the one to explain it when the neighbours phone the police.”

Sherlock follows him in and shuts the door behind himself. “Not that I’ve had any decent sex recently, either,” he adds.

“What are you on?” John demands.

“Nothing! I’m not actually a hardened drug addict, you know. Why must you keep referring to--”

“Because you’ve overdosed, what, three times since I’ve known you? Probably more? And because sober people don’t say the sorts of things you say.”

“Such as asking you if you’ve found a decent card game since you’ve been back in London? Or is drinking with your alcoholic sister more your thing these days?”

“I’m sorry, I could have sworn you propositioned me less than a minute ago,” John says.

Sherlock sits down, looking chastened. “I’m not good with propositions.”

“No? You don’t say.”

Sherlock looks him up and down, slowly and deliberately, and John will say this for his methods: it’s got his blood warmed up, one way or another.

“I’m not sleeping with you, Sherlock,” he says, more quietly. “I can’t even imagine why you’d want to, honestly.”

Sherlock continues to look at him with an assessing sort of glint. “All right,” he says. “Strip poker, then?”

*

John is very good at cards, but Sherlock is good at winning. Also, there’s the fact that John started off with only a dressing gown, a t-shirt, boxers and socks. Sherlock loses his coat in the first round, shrugging it off and casting it aside as if it’s of no value to him whatsoever. Unconcerned, shirt-sleeved, he then proceeds to take the next four hands with ease.

John knows Sherlock is peeking up at him intently over the fan of his cards while he lifts up his t-shirt and pulls it off over his head, but he doesn’t hesitate. He sits back and raises his chin, waiting.

Sherlock chews his lower lip. “You could have won that last hand,” he says finally.

“You wanted to see it.” John is still breathing evenly, but it’s a controlled effort.

“It’s--”

“I know,” John says quickly.

“--lovely,” Sherlock finishes, and drops his cards face-up on the table, stretching out a hand toward the web of raised red scar tissue that covers most of John's left shoulder. “Can I touch it?”

John shuts his eyes, still working on breathing, and shakes his head.

“Can I kiss you, then?”

No and yes are both equally impossible words, but the sound he makes when Sherlock’s lips brush against his mouth, hesitant and warm, is presumably encouraging. And then, in the end, it’s John who gets to his feet and leads Sherlock over to the bed a few minutes later.

*

His body still doesn’t feel like his own. He can’t help being reminded of how effortlessly he’d used it the last time he was with Sherlock, and at first he doesn’t think he’ll be able to go through with it.

“You can’t want this,” he says finally.

“I do, though,” Sherlock murmurs. “Look at you. God, you were destroyed when I saw you in hospital that first time.”

John raises up on his elbows to look at him. “You sound excited by that.”

“I prefer damaged things,” Sherlock says, and traces his tongue-tip up the winding scar at John’s hip. “Much, much more interesting.”

John can’t resist when Sherlock leaves off from his reverent gentle touches and turns rougher, taking what he can get, naked and hard and urgently thrusting against John’s lower belly. Almost can’t resist. He pulls himself back from the edge just in time, while Sherlock gasps and begins to shudder and convulse.

“I can’t, I don’t want to come,” John murmurs into the hot damp skin of Sherlock’s perfect throat. “Sorry, I’m just not ready to--”

“All right,” Sherlock says, still panting. “That’s fine, I understand.” He sounds a bit puzzled, but John can’t explain, even though he knows what he means: not quite ready to fall to pieces on him.

“Are you...you’re not asleep, are you?” John asks a minute later, when Sherlock begins to turn heavy on top of him.

“Nearly.” Sherlock yawns and flops over onto his side. “Sorry, was I digging into you? I can fall asleep in any position if I’ve been going long enough, and I’ve been up for nearly forty hours straight right now. Can I nap here? You don’t mind?” He settles firmly into John’s right-hand pillow as though the question is a mere formality.

“Well,” John says doubtfully, but Sherlock is already deeply asleep. Perhaps it won’t be a problem, John thinks. Perhaps this will be one of the good nights.

*

“What are you doing?” Sherlock is whispering when he wakes again. It’s still dark, and John has to snap on the bedside light before he knows who he is, where he is.

“Nothing,” John says, moving away from him. He’d been trying to staunch the bleeding. His hands still feel sticky with it. “You’re-- I’m all right, I’m fine. Sorry. Go back to sleep.” He curls up and turns his back.

“You’re shaking,” Sherlock observes, and puts the palm of his hand to John’s shoulderblade. Assessing or comforting, it’s impossible to say, but the sensation is calming either way.

*

He’s certain that Sherlock will have vanished in the morning, or that he’ll reach for his phone and make quick excuses first thing while putting on his trousers, but Sherlock is still there at seven a.m., and at eight, and eight-thirty, burrowed down into the blanket and looking like he means to make a day of it. At nine, John can’t stand it any longer and has to get up and throw on his dressing gown, leaning heavily on his cane to hobble to the toilet. When he comes out, Sherlock is watching him, wild-haired and bright-eyed, and John halts halfway across the room.

“Your limp,” Sherlock says, his voice croaky with sleep. “It’s psychosomatic.”

“So they tell me.” John changes direction, going over to the kitchenette to measure out coffee.

Sherlock remains where he is, watching John with apparent fascination. “Come back to bed,” he suggests, and John gives him a funny look.

“I thought you tended to panic.”

Sherlock frowns.

At the implications of interactions of that kind,” John reminds him.

“What? Did I say that? Oh, well that was ages ago.”

“You keep disappearing on me, you know.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “You’ve been a bit unavailable yourself.”

“Not for the past five months, I haven’t been.”

“You made it clear you needed some recovery time. Anyway you’re here now, and I’m here, and as I haven’t got any interesting cases right now I’d very much like to spend the day in bed with you. Don’t be difficult.”

“Sherlock,” John protests, but he’s weakening.

“You’ve left your cane in the kitchenette,” Sherlock says with a half grin.

John looks round in surprise.

“Never mind right now,” Sherlock says, reaching out to draw him back down onto the bed. “Let’s see what else I can make you forget.”

*

It’s unnerving to be examined and handled and hummed over like a forensics specimen, but it’s better, John supposes, than trying to pretend the scars aren’t there. It occurs to him, uncharitably, that it’s very convenient for Sherlock to have a captive willing audience, an on-call assistant with medical expertise, and a subject for physical and emotional damage to study, all together in one package with occasional sex thrown in.

“It’s convenient for you, too,” Sherlock says, when John points this out to him. His mobile makes a new message sound, and he reaches over John’s limp and sated body to pick it up.

“Let me guess. Lestrade?”

“N...o,” Sherlock says absently, reading. “Oh,” he says, glancing briefly up at John. “You’re jealous of Lestrade? That’s gratifying. And ridiculous. He’s straight, you know. No, this is a bit of luck, actually; there’s a flat I might be able to rent from a former client of mine on the cheap. Do you want to go round and look at it with me later on? It’s got a second bedroom, apparently.”

“You, you...you mean to look at a flat with you, as in--”

“As a flatmate,” Sherlock says.

“No,” John says very definitely. “Absolutely not. Out of the question. Anyway, who’d want me for a flatmate?”

“I would,” Sherlock says, putting down his mobile and settling his hands possessively on John’s hips again, leaning in to kiss him in the dip between his collarbones. “I always have.”