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John scrubs a hand over his face, setting the bottle of whiskey on the counter and shuffling out into the sitting room, tumbler in hand. The flat is quiet, Sherlock down at NSY with Greg filling out the last of the paperwork on Mary’s case. Grimacing, John takes a sip of alcohol, feeling it burn through the numbness curled up in his chest, cold and hard and heavy. Swirling the amber liquid around and around and around, he gets lost in himself, in his memories. 

Was it real? Any of it?”

John, you’re being ridiculous.”

“Right. Okay. Just tell me the truth. For once in your bloody life!”

“I’ve never -”

No. No, Mary. I’m done with your lies. Is. She. Mine?”

He flips on the radio dock, the silence too stifling for his liking, leaving him alone with his thoughts, and that is always a dangerous thing. Sherlock’s iPod lights up, soft music playing though the speakers, classical pieces with violins and gentle melodies filling the flat. Sighing, he allows himself a moment to be angry, to let the wave of fury roll over him and consume him, body and soul. He sniffs, pursing his lips. After everything he’d done for her, after everything she had put him through, it wasn’t enough. Everything was a lie, Mary was the new Moriarty, his daughter was actually David’s, David was Moran, and John…well, he’d been played for a fool through all of it. It had ended the way it had started, really: a whirlwind of passion, of an obsession bordering on violence, and a web of lies. He closes his eyes, stains of crimson painting the backs of his lids, the smell of copper and smoking guns lingering in his nose. It’s over now, everything done and gone, but he can’t bring himself to feel anything other than empty.

John takes a sip of whiskey, perching on the arm of Sherlock’s chair, eyes opening to wander over the worn wallpaper and the garish yellow paint still peeking out from beneath the case web tacked over the sofa. He wonders when 221B had started to feel like home again or whether it had ever stopped feeling like home to begin with. He wonders when he’d begun to yearn for Sherlock’s casual touch instead of the intimate brushes of his wife. He wonders whether he had ever moved on after the Fall or if he had spent every day going through the motions, waiting for something he couldn’t name with a longing that left him feeling unsettled, on edge.

The symphony on Sherlock’s iPod comes to a dramatic crescendo and fades into silence, a soft piano piece replacing it, the mournful violin behind it making John’s eyes feel a bit misty. He turns, letting his eyes fall shut, listening to the soft lyrics.

I’ve waited a hundred years
But I’d wait a million more for you
Nothing prepared me for
What the privilege of being yours would do

John swallows, remembering those long nights spent sitting up, praying, screaming, crying, wishing desperately for one more miracle, for Sherlock to come back, to be alive. Christ, he’d waited for so long. Even moving back to Baker Street after the debacle with Mary, he still feels as though he’s waiting for something more. He sets the glass aside, hands clasped in his lap, listening intently.

If I had only felt the warmth within your touch
If I had only seen how you smile when you blush
Or how you curl your lip when you concentrate enough
Well I would have known
What I was living for all along
What I’ve been living for

John?” Startled, John looks up, finding Sherlock standing at the doorway in his flared Belstaff, his cheeks pink from the cold, hair tousled by the wind, his curls wild and falling freely across his brow. “What’s wrong? What happened?” Sherlock crouches in front of him, wiping his cheeks with one gloved hand, cupping his face so gently that it makes John’s chest ache, makes his body yearn for things unnamed, makes feelings still unspoken bubble up to sit heavy on his tongue.

“I’m fine, Sherlock,” he murmurs, leaning into the touch, the leather cool against his skin.

“You’re not. I don’t know…I can’t deduce what’s wrong.” Sherlock’s face falls and he settles on his knees, looking up at John with a tortured expression. “It’s my fault. I should have realized…”

“No, no. It’s not…I knew. She told me. Everything. Before you’d arrived with Greg.” Sherlock blanches, and John knows that he’s thinking over John’s pained expression when the paternity test was complete and the infant taken away by social services for her own protection, the death of her biological parents ruled as accidental, every lurid detail swept under the rug with a flick of Mycroft’s wrist. That had been months ago, now, the final pieces of the case squared away tonight. It had given him closure, in a sense, helping Sherlock to piece it all together. John had grieved, has cried, has shouted obscenities until his throat was raw, but now…the crushing weight in his chest has nothing to do with Mary and the lie that they had lived together and everything to do with Sherlock and everything they had missed. “It’s this song.” Raising a hand, he gestures vaguely, arm bumping against Sherlock’s.

Sherlock looks over at the iPod, listening to the lyrics, his cheeks darkening to a vivid pink. “Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“I shouldn’t have..” he clears his throat. “Of course it would remind you of Mary. I’ll just…” He makes to rise and John stops him, laying a firm hand on his forearm. Blinking rapidly, Sherlock looks from his arm to John’s face and back again, mouth falling open into a small ‘o’.

“No. It wasn’t about her.”

“John?” Sherlock’s voice sounds so soft, so hesitant, full of something that speaks to the hopeful part of John nestled just between his collarbones, fluttering and tingling and spreading through his body until he shivers.

Taking a deep breath, John rises, restarting the song. He offers one hand to Sherlock, heart thrumming with nerves just beneath his sternum, making his chest feel tight. “Will you? Dance with me, I mean.”

Sherlock’s face does something complicated, his eyes crinkling at the corners and his mouth pulling tight, but he takes John’s hand and rises slowly to his feet, settling his other hand at John’s shoulder. John reaches up and takes him by the waist, laying his head on Sherlock’s chest and breathing him in, the soft edge of the blue scarf tickling his cheek. He smells of wool and cigarettes, of cheap coffee and London air. Sherlock shivers under the weight of John’s head, letting out a small noise that sounds impossibly sad. They spin idly, twirling around the sitting room with no real direction, bodies swaying to the music.

I surrender who I’ve been for who you are
For nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart
If I had only felt how it feels to be yours
Well I would have known
What I’ve been living for all along
What I’ve been living for

I’m sorry.” John pulls back, sliding his hand up to cup Sherlock’s nape, thumb smoothing over the stray curls gathered there. Sherlock lets out a shaky breath, leaning his forehead against John’s. “Forgive me?” Sherlock stares at him imploringly, eyes wide.

John tilts his chin, slotting their mouths together, kissing Sherlock with gentle lips and a curious tongue, mapping the dip of his upper lip and the soft texture of his tongue. This. It’s this that he was missing, and kissing Sherlock feels like coming home, feels right. Sighing softly, he pulls away, swaying slightly on his feet. Sherlock steadies his, arms clasped around the small of John’s back.

Though we’re tethered to the story we must tell
When I saw you, well I knew we’d tell it well

“I already have. Just…don’t make me wait for you any longer?”

Sherlock smiles gently, pressing his lips to John’s brow. “No more.”

With a whisper we will tame the vicious seas
Like a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees

Sherlock presses another kiss to John’s lips, holding him tightly as though he might fade away. Relaxing into the hold, John murmurs against Sherlock’s skin. “This is what I’ve been living for.”

Sliding his nose along John’s cheek down to nuzzle at his neck, Sherlock sighs, giving John a light squeeze. “Me, too. All along.”