Sherlock stood in the hallway of the empty flat for a good fifteen minutes after John had left, still trying to figure out what John had even been yelling at him about. Sherlock was utter shite at relationships. He was an awful flatmate and not all that good of a friend, and although he'd been terrified when John had first suggested they be 'more than friends' as he'd put it, John had insisted that Sherlock had nothing to worry about. They'd been living together for five years (most assuredly not counting the three Sherlock spent pretending to be dead), so John already knew the worst about him. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, apparently. Well, five months into their relationship and this was their first fight. Sherlock was used to being able to do everything perfectly the first time, and considered this a massive failure. And, like so many other perfectionists, Sherlock considered every failure not only to be something to be horribly ashamed of but the object of failure something he should never again try.
Unfortunately for Sherlock (and, I suppose, fortunately for John Watson?), he didn't consider this to be the fault of the object. John was far more educated in the affairs of relationships, so if something happened to make John yell at Sherlock, pack his bags and leave, clearly Sherlock was at fault. Sherlock just didn't know what he'd done to make John leave.
He started out by cleaning every inch of the flat, disposing of all of his experiments (admittedly, he did this with reluctance, and with much chagrin decided they could re-conducted at Bart's), and putting John's laptop back in his room upstairs even though Sherlock doubted John had even noticed he was using it. Sherlock made John's bed, alphabetized the books on the bookshelf, was polite to Mrs Hudson when she came up for a chat, attempted to sleep, and even managed to cook a meal (so what if it was microwave-able noodles? It was something, wasn't it?) for himself without setting off the smoke detector and ingested the thing. He was rather proud of himself. So was Mrs Hudson. But John still wasn't home. If Sherlock had any more idea about how the outside world worked, he might have chastised himself for thinking John might magically re-appear if only Sherlock completed the chores and whatever other menial tasks that needed doing around the flat. But Sherlock honestly didn't know where John went to when he wasn't at home or with Sherlock, so John's disappearance was, for Sherlock, as though the man had simply walked out of the universe and ceased to exist. What Sherlock did chastise himself for was not texting John first. What an idiot - if he couldn't deduce where John was going, why didn't he just ask?
Except, for Sherlock, 'demanding' and 'asking' are the same thing.
Have a surprise for you. Come home. - SH
Sherlock waited half an hour (an all-time record for him) in an attempt to be patient before picking his mobile up again, turning it off and then back on, disconnecting the battery and the SIM card and reconnecting them, before accepting that John was simply ignoring him. No, no, John's phone must be off. John didn't ignore him. Sherlock glanced at the clock; half-midnight. Hm. John must be asleep. He'd answer in the morning.
So Sherlock sat up for eight straight hours, surfing the internet and learning any small tidbits he thought might please John: the date of Valentine's Day, the date of their (actual) anniversary, who the Prime Minister was and the inner workings of the British Government (the American and Ugandan ones as well), pictures of Afghanistan and reports of what fighting over there would have been like, physiognomy, astronomy, and the James Bond franchise. The only thing Sherlock refused to touch was Cluedo.
Feeling rather proud of himself, Sherlock give texting John another go.
The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Pluto
isn't a planet anymore. Shame. I quite
liked that one. - SH
The response was almost immediate, and extremely negative.
I really can't talk to you right
now, Sherlock. Go tell Mrs Hudson
or Mycroft. - JW
Sherlock would never compare himself to a twelve-year-old girl, but as he'd never experienced a romantic relationship first-hand his only advice was coming from Shakespeare's heroes and heroines (another object of study in those frankly bleak eight hours; Ophelia, Desdemona, Othello-) and none of the subtext he was receiving was making Sherlock feel any more relieved. It brought back horrible memories from his childhood, in which his friends and even Mycroft left him, told him they couldn't work with him because he was too weird and too difficult. He could remember the words 'I just can't deal with you anymore' leaving the lips of his mother as she shipped him off to boarding school, Sebastian before he asked for a new lab partner, Victor before he all but ran screaming out the door and Sherlock never saw him again. Once upon a time a worried Lestrade asked Mycroft, fresh from putting Sherlock in rehab, if Sherlock was trying to kill himself. Mycroft's response had been to laugh and say that Sherlock was 'too fond of himself' for that, and for the most part, it was true.
He just happened to like John a bit more.
John groaned as his slippery fingers dropped the keys. Again. His back was killing him, and Harry's mental and physical health be damned - he was never rushing to her aid again. These past thirty-six hours had been something Harry could have very well handled on her own. She was more than capable of handling herself by now, and if she really did insist on his help he would prefer it if it wasn't because she saw a woman at the grocery store who vaguely (but not really, in John's mind) resembled Clara. It really shouldn't reduce her to a snivelling mess when she had a perfectly decent girlfriend now and her divorce from Harry was finalised six years ago - and according to her, the split was mutual.
John swore loudly when he dropped the keys again, this time more out of frustration directed at his body than at Harry. His blood sugar was horribly low, he hadn't slept in - well, forty-eight hours, actually - he was freezing cold and felt grungy from not having access to a shower while Harry was busy getting her stomach pumped... All he really wanted was to crawl into bed and sleep like the dead....no, eat, shower, make love to his boyfriend, and then sleep like the dead.
As the key finally clicked John literally fell into the door. Sex could wait, then. He wouldn't be averse to using Sherlock as a pillow, though. He was absurdly comfortable for someone who was made out of triangles, rectangles, trapezoids, and other sharp objects.
The first floor was silent. John took out his phone and frowned. He hadn't received or sent a text to Sherlock since his (admittedly quite harsh and rude) one at about noon, telling him to take his newfound appreciation for the stars and tell it to Mrs Hudson or Mycroft. What was even more worrying was that Sherlock didn't have a response, snide, witty, put out or otherwise. That really should have been his first clue; Sherlock would have noticed John was no longer in the flat and would have texted him with the details of whatever location he was en route to, had there been a case. It was impossible that Sherlock was asleep, because even now that they were together he never slept unless John either drugged his tea with alcohol (perfectly harmless, right?) or laid down on top of him. Recently John was beginning to find Sherlock could drift off to sleep easily as long as John said 'I love you' first. He felt guilty about that, but he hadn't the time to call or text him while he was away.
The second clue startled John more than the lack of texts and noise, to the point where John felt his heart start to palpitate and his head start to buzz. The flat felt clean. It smelt clean. It looked clean. Because it was clean.
John dropped everything and started screaming for Sherlock as he checked the kitchen, sitting room, Sherlock's bedroom, the room-upstairs-that-wasn't-really-John's-anymore-because-he-and-Sherlock-were-in-love-yes-it-was-fantastic-you-don't-need-to-tell-everyone-Mrs-Hudson, and as he jumped to the bottom of the stairs from said room with stupidly long name, John heard Mrs Hudson toddling up the stairs. He flung the door open and shouted at her, 'Call the ambulance and the Yard, Mrs Hudson, I can't find Sherlock.' She took one look at the cleaned flat and froze, eyes wide. John lost his patience. 'Mrs Hudson, now!'
John didn't wait to see if his landlady followed doctor's orders and ran into the one plausible place he'd failed to look. The image displayed for him in the bathroom didn't do anything to alleviate the stress; it was Sherlock, head down in the full bathtub and barely breathing, if he was breathing at all.
John shouted his name again and dragged Sherlock up from the water, beginning basic CPR and failing to keep the tremor out of his hands. Afghanistan, bombs exploding, getting shot, and this terrified him more than anything else. Especially the wide puncture wound, and the exaggerated vein on Sherlock's right arm.
Sherlock turned his head to the side and vomited a little. It didn't bother John; cliched though it was it might have been the most gorgeous sight he'd seen in forever. He caressed the side of Sherlock's face, attempting his best to tone down the amount of pure rage he was feeling at the moment. (Sherlock had been clean, he'd tested him, Sarah tested him, Molly tested him, Lestrade tested him; whywhywhy would he do this to himself? to John? to Mrs Hudson?) Instead he asked, as calmly and as gently as he knew how, 'Sherlock? What happened?'
Sherlock looked up at him, eyes clouded. 'John? What are you doing here?'
'I live here, Sherlock...so do you.'
Sherlock frowned up at him. The confusion did something to John's chest that he'd never felt before and hoped to God he never felt again. 'You left, John...'
'To go see Harry, yeah.'
Sherlock shook his head as much as he could within his limited moving space. 'No...you yelled at me...you packed things...you left...like people do when they don't love you anymore...'
John felt himself go pale and light-headed. He feared he might faint. 'No, Sherlock - god, no, not at all.'
John was standing outside of the door to Sherlock's room in the hospital, doing what was probably a really awful rendition of one of Sherlock's many thinking poses. He felt worse with each passing second. He and Sherlock had had a row - he couldn't remember who started it or why anymore, just that he'd done some yelling, some packing, and then some leaving; ignored Sherlock for the better part of thirty-six hours; and came home to find his brilliant, ridiculous, socially awkward and apparently extremely insecure boyfriend, colleague, flatmate, friend, the love-of-his-fucking-life-god-damn-it had attempted to kill himself. Because he left.
John knew he should be annoyed right now, but the hopeless feeling at the pit of his stomach was overwhelming the need to be angry and lash out at someone or something. He'd lived with Sherlock long enough to know how he thought, and the words 'only conclusion of all of the facts' were haunting John right now. John yelled, packed, left, didn't say where he was going, ignored, redirected and despite what Lestrade said, he couldn't consider what Sherlock had done as selfish. John hadn't told anyone - because really, what was there to tell? - but he'd nearly killed himself after Sherlock -
No. He wasn't going to think about that. He wasn't going to talk about that. Everyone - even Donovan, Anderson, and the newspapers - referred to it as the Richard Brook (or 'Reichenbach,' for those who wanted to be clever) incident and no one ever talked about it. John was sure Sherlock knew about what John had done and what he'd nearly done. According to Molly (who'd been told by Lestrade, who'd been told by Mycroft), the only reason Sherlock came back, really, was because of John's...troubles, to put it lightly. John was furious at the thought that initially, Sherlock wasn't going to come back at all. When he asked Sherlock if it was because he was too boring for him, Sherlock gave John an odd(ly affectionate) look, as though he'd suddenly sprouted two heads, donned a tutu, and begun reciting 'I Sing the Body Electric.'
'I would like to inform you,' Sherlock said, 'that despite what is normal for me, I find you infinitely fascinating, and have no intention of leaving you. I merely assumed, given your track record and clear wish for something in life approaching stability, that you would have married by now, moved on, and forgotten about me completely.'
John snorted at the idea, and before he'd realised what he was saying, asked, 'But who could ever want anything other than you?'
He was broken from his pleasant reverie by shuffling footsteps. He didn't turn to look. 'Bugger off, Harry.'
'He's a selfish twat,' she commented with a nod in Sherlock's direction.
John ground his teeth, really not in the mood for Harry's antics. 'Pot calling the kettle black.'
'I didn't try to kill myself.' There was a sadistic, twisted sense of pride in her words. John met them in a heartbeat, standing in front of her and invading her space so quickly the normally unshakeable woman flinched.
'Take a look, Harriet Watson, because where he is right now is your future if you don't clean the fuck up.' He grabbed a wrist, thumbing her pulse. 'You are slowly poisoning your body, killing yourself, and why? Mum and dad loved you, didn't move an inch when you came out. Clara gave everything to you that she possibly could. You're brilliant, gorgeous, have always been popular, and your way of repaying the world is by drinking yourself to an early death.' John threw Harry's wrist back down to her side, relishing the unadulterated fear on her face. 'That man,' John indicated Sherlock's hospital room, 'Has never been popular, liked, or appreciated by anybody. I'm the only person he cares about, possibly the only one he's ever cared about, probably because I'm the only one who's ever been nice to him. He nearly killed himself tonight because, once again, I had to drop everything and run to your aid and couldn't be there to apologise for whatever-the-fuck we were arguing about -' John checked his watch, vaguely aware that he was actually screaming at Harry now, 'two days ago. You didn't need my help, you just wanted my pity. I don't have any more to give to you. Take your sorry-ass pity party and leave. I don't know who told you to come in the first place and I don't really care. Just sod the Hell off.'
Harry sniffed, aiming for the air of the completely unaffected. 'He's not much to look at, but he must be fantastic in bed to turn you to a fag-'
John had never hit a woman before. Even with Irene Adler, he'd never really wanted to. He knew that it was very old-fashioned, but it's how he was raised. Now, however, Lestrade was coming out of the shadows to drag John off of his bloodied sister, quickly calculating in his head how many ribs he'd broken, how much damage he'd done to her nose, how black her eyes would be in the morning, whether or not her forearm would ever recover from the damage.
'Fuck you, Harriet,' he spat. Lestrade wasn't doing a good job of holding him in place, but there was no reason to worry anymore. All of John's vitriol was contained in his words. 'And it's not men, Harriet, it's not even men and women. It's him. It's just him. Too fucking bad you'll never get anybody half as decent, you gave that up. I hope you're happy in your misery. Don't ever contact me again.'
'You don't mean it' she whispered.
John ignored her.
When Sherlock awoke, he was only vaguely aware of where he was and why. Bits and pieces floated back to him like dust mites when a voice called cheerfully, 'If you ever do that to me again, I think I'll strangle you myself, Sherlock Holmes.'
Sherlock frowned. He felt the horribly depressing chest compressions again. He was just about to ask John if this was the final straw, if this episode was simply too much for him to handle and he couldn't love Sherlock anymore when John negated it all with a single, matter-of-fact statement: 'You're going to marry me.'
Sherlock blinked slowly. 'Am I still high?' he asked. John laughed. 'Are you high? Because yesterday, you -'
'Left, yes, I know. I didn't leave because of you, though, Sherlock. I left because of Harry. She'd fucked something up again and needed me to come to the rescue. I'm back now, though. I don't intend to leave again. Ever. For any reason. And before you get to some ridiculous thought like I'm only marrying you out of pity, I want you to know that this is for both of our sanity's; I want to know that you'll never pull this again and that if anyone else tries to pull it on you I'll be able to come visit you in a non-illegal, completely ethical way, and I want you to be able to look down at your hands, see the ring I put there, and despite your immense hatred of sentimentality remember that I love you, you stupid git, and I will never not love you, because we are abnormal people and we love abnormally, so much more so much better than normal people do. Is that okay with you?'
Sherlock nodded and smiled, bringing John down for a quick kiss that sped up his heart monitor, before pulling back with a confused face. John tilted his head questioningly, and Sherlock inquired, 'So is this our anniversary? Or is it the day we get married, the day we met, the day we moved in together, or -' John cut him off by kissing him again, slipping his tongue in obscenely, mimicking moves he'd wanted to act on two-and-a-half - almost three - days ago.
Sherlock blinked. 'The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.'
John laughed. 'Odd choice of vows, but I'll take it.'