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A First Step

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When John had thought about Sherlock he'd always thought about him as untouchable and unreachable, the one thing in his life he'd never have.

It's not that John had been pining for Sherlock, not really. But there had been nights when he couldn't find sleep, when the nightmares were chasing him, and all he could do was trying to think about something else. Only that there had been little else at this point in his live but Sherlock. Sherlock, who had saved him and who had seemed to take all the space in his life afterwards. And at the same time he was unreachable, unreal in a twisted way.

Anyway, Sherlock was married to his work and John was not gay, so he ignored his initial attraction and kept their friendship.

After he had lost Sherlock, there had been nothing left what was worth living for.

There had been battles with the soldier he still was in his core, battles for mere survival when he was close to giving up, his gun in his hand. He was still grateful that Mary had saved him eventually, had helped him to find his way out of the darkness where he'd been lost.

But now Sherlock was back.

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When Sherlock had thought about John he'd always thought about him as untouchable and unreachable, the one thing in his life he'd never have.

Sherlock had never felt something like that for another person. He didn't do feelings, had never done. He was a sociopath, a loner, he'd never ever needed anybody else and it took years and a fall for him to realise, that that wasn't the truth, at least not anymore.

But he was aware that John, strong, straight, stubborn, loyal, wonderful John, would never be his. All he could do was to ensure John's happiness, so he had killed the man who had threatened and endangered Mary.

Sherlock knew that he would be dead in about six month, his pain wouldn't last long, so who cares. The worst part was that he had barely managed to stop himself from crying or saying something absolutely ridiculous in front of John at the tarmac.

But now Sherlock was back.

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John held Sherlock close; held him as tight as possible until finally Sherlock returned the hug and he could feel that Sherlock's tension eased somewhat. Eventually, John pushed him back a bit and took his hand to lead him to the waiting sedan. Mycroft filled them in with the meagre information he had already at this point while Sherlock's luggage was stowed in the boot before ‘big brother’ grudgingly allowed them to return to London together.

John couldn't help but was looking at Sherlock every so often during their ride back. He had to ensure that the consulting detective was really there, sitting with him in the back of the car. He was still a bit jumbled; too much had happened in the last few minutes and he wondered for the umpteenth time whether he was dreaming or awake.

Sherlock gazed out of the window without seeing the landscape flying past. He tried to concentrate on the case, Moriarty's message from beyond his grave, but he couldn't. Stock still and motionless he sat in the car and forced himself not to look at the seat beside his leg where John's and his hands were entangled.

Since he had left the plane, John hadn't released his hand and Sherlock didn't dare to move, hardly dared to breathe. He waited for John to turn to him and withdraw his hand with an apologetic smile, to tell him that everything was just a misunderstanding. Human error.Sherlock gritted his teeth and braced himself for the inevitable when he felt a slight pressure on his fingers.

When John squeezed Sherlock's hand slightly and looked at him once more, he frowned with concern. Sherlock's face was ashen; he had a haunted look and stared with a scowl and small lips straight ahead.

"Sherlock?" Cautiously John ran his thumb over Sherlock's hand. "What's wrong?"

"I ..." Sherlock opened his mouth - then shut it again. His eyes followed the movement of John's thumb, and then he stared at John like a deer caught in the headlights.

"Hey, it's all right." John covered Sherlock's hand with his own and held it tight. "You're going nowhere, you're safe now."

"I know." Sherlock swallowed hard, and then he forced his gaze back towards the window. "I'm fine," he murmured.The rest of the ride they remained in silence.

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Obviously they weren’t allowed to go back to Baker Street. Sherlock was still under arrest and two fearsome bodyguards (or rather prison guards) followed them to a safe house Mycroft had insisted on.


Throughout the day, Sherlock grew more and more tense and John wondered what he could do to help him to relax, or if he could do anything at all. This was not his normal agitation and restlessness during a case, there was something amiss with Sherlock and John didn't have to be a detective to see it, and he didn't like it at all.

 

In addition, John himself was nervous, very nervous. Everything had happened so quickly that he hadn't had much time to think things through. When had he decided that he was going down that road after all? Had he ever had any real choice in this? He had followed Sherlock's lead from the very first day; their relationship had always been a bit like a runaway train and John had no control over it, never had. He knew he had idealized Sherlock and now - after what had happened at the tarmac - he simply was lost.

 

John took a deep breath and shook his head; no more games, they needed to talk, time to come clean. But every time he tried to talk to Sherlock, he blocked him categorically until finally John had enough.


After he had poured the third cup of cold tea into the sink and Sherlock had ceased tormenting his violin for a moment, John cornered him in the living room where Sherlock occupied one of the armchairs. The doctor took the violin from his hands and put it carefully to the side before he squatted down in front of Sherlock and grabbed his now empty hands.

"Sherlock," John looked at him sternly, "we need to talk. Now."

Sherlock's eyes darted through the room, searching desperately for an escape. He didn't want to talk. Sherlock was sure to know what would happen - and he didn't want it to happen. 'We need to talk' was always the beginning of the end, but he didn't want it to end now, he didn't want to lose John again, he couldn't. Panic rose in Sherlock's eyes when he realised that there was no way out, and it took John some effort to get his attention.
 
"Sherlock. Sherlock, look at me!" John raised his voice a little bit and Sherlock froze stone-faced, his gaze focused on John's shirt collar, still refusing to look into his eyes.

Confused and uncertain John sought for clues in Sherlock's face, something that might help him to understand.

"Sherlock, please tell me what's going on. I can see that you're ... upset ... agitated, but I don't know why. Is it the case? Moriarty back in the game?" John hesitated, and then he continued quietly. "Or ... is it me? Did I do something wrong? Something you didn't like ... you didn't want?"

At least he had Sherlock's attention back, for he stared at him startled. "No!" he breathed and their eyes met for the first time in hours. John could see Sherlock's walls crumbling and breaking down right in front of him. So softly that he had almost overheard it, Sherlock whispered the same words again and again. "Please don't go, John, please don't, please John, don't leave me ... "

For a long moment John could just stare at him with wide eyes before the words slowly began to make sense to him.

"Oh god," he gasped. "Sherlock, no, shhh, no, Sherlock, I'm not going anywhere." He cupped Sherlock's face with both hands. "Sherlock, I'm not leaving you, do you understand me? I am not leaving." When Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut John hugged him tightly and caressed his back, murmuring reassuring words until Sherlock finally stopped trembling, his head resting heavily on John's shoulder. He gently pushed Sherlock slightly back to look at him, and took his long fingers back in his hand. "I will not leave you, understood?"


Again Sherlock's eyes fell to their entangled hands. "But ... why? Why are you still here? With me."

"Why? Where else would I be? Of course I'm here, with you, Sherlock," John replied gently. "And as long as you don't tell me to go to hell, I will stay."

 

"But... John, you're not gay as you emphasize again and again. Why on earth would you want to do this? And Mary ..."


"Listen, Sherlock," John interrupted him while his gaze followed his thumb drawing random patterns on Sherlock's hand. "I don't know what to do about Mary right now, but we'll figure it out. All I know is, that I was a bloody ignorant idiot and I'm so sorry that I didn't realise earlier ..., that I've been so blind ... that I didn't see ... I didn't realise, how much ...," he took a deep shuddering breath and Sherlock's scanned his face with narrowed eyes, not sure what John was getting at. "Jesus, Sherlock," John sighed, "why is it so hard to say 'I love you'?" He looked at Sherlock with an oblique smile and moist eyes. "You sacrificed your career, your reputation and almost your life for me and I … I don't know why I didn't get it all this time, but ... I love you, too."                

 

Sherlock just stared at him. This couldn't be real, so what was the catch? "You're not gay," Sherlock interjected again with a flat voice.

 

"No," John blushed slightly, "nevertheless, I love you. Perhaps that's the reason why I needed so long to recognise it for what it is, Sherlock. I'm sorry."

 

"... for what it is ..." Sherlock repeated quietly, then he focused on John again. "So, what exactly is it then? Pity? Because I don't need your pity," he insisted, his voice weary and exhausted.

 

"Pity? No, Sherlock. Not pity. I love you. More than anything else in the world."

 

When Sherlock didn't move or react in any way, John cupped his face with his hands like he did before and covered his face with feather light kisses, whispering 'I love you' tenderly between every kiss. Slowly Sherlock's eyes fell shut and he exhaled shivering. Nuzzling into John's touch a single tear escaped him and made its way down his face until John caught it with his lip.

 

And for the first time in months, maybe even years, Sherlock felt calm and the constant buzzing in his head fell silent. It was like drifting in deep water, free and weightless, no questions asked. He was at peace, and gradually a small smile crept on Sherlock's face and he diffidently began to reply John's kisses.