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The argument started over nothing. 

“John your concerns over the opinions of others are excessive and irritating.”

John glared at him.  “Excessive?  Excessive?  Oh, of course, because not wanting to be kicked out of the supermarket is completely unreasonable of me.”

Sherlock barely repressed a sigh.  They were walking back from yet another failed shopping trip.  He didn’t see how it was his fault.  That Omega woman should never have been talking so loudly to her Alpha lover on the phone in the first place and if anything, he had performed a public service by throwing her phone in the freezer.

“What does it matter?  There are many other shops around here.  Go there instead”
“Yes and you’ve managed to get us kicked out of each one.  I’m getting sick of it Sherlock.” 

“Well you’re the one insisting I have to join you on these endeavours.”  This was the 3rd such argument they’d had in 2 days. 

“Because surprisingly I’m not the only one living in the flat, ergo I’m not the only one eating all the food.  And before you even try and deny it, I’ll ask you who ate all the biscuits last week and then had the audacity to blame me for not buying more?”  John huffed as they arrived back at the flat.  Sherlock unlocked the door and trotted upstairs, expecting John to stop and say hello to Mrs Hudson.  He was surprised to hear the footsteps follow him but he pretended not to notice and went about dumping his coat and scarf outside before going to perch on his chair, adopting a thinking pose and hoping to be left alone. 

John stopped in the doorway, staring directly at him, jacket still on before heading to the kitchen.  The flat, usually a calming mix of Alpha and Omega balance, was today instead an uneasy mix of frustration and anger. 

Sherlock’s hopes that John wouldn’t look in the fridge crashed as he heard it open and then a few moments later slam shut.  John stalked back over until he was level with his own armchair, looking furious. 

“What the hell is that Sherlock?  Because, correct me if I’m wrong but it looks like you’ve put a partially decomposed foot in there, even though we explicitly talked about that and agreed that you’d at least only use the lower levels for your experiments.  Only the foot is on the top shelf.  The top shelf where things like bacon is kept.  You mind explaining that to me?  Your genius brain got anything to say about that?  Because I bloody well hope you’ve got a good answer because I’ve really had enough of you today.”

Sherlock remained silent.  He had known that John would be angry but he figured that his argument that the foot wouldn’t fit on the lower level wouldn’t be acceptable.  The urge to bare his neck in submission heightened as a new wave of angry pheromones burst from John but he tampered it back to a slight shift in his chair. 

“Nothing?  You’ve got nothing to say about that?  You see know, know it looks like you’ve been deliberately sabotaging my shopping trips in order to stop me from seeing that which would mean you’ve been trying to keep a secret.  Now I seem to remember someone asking that we were completely honest with one another after we bonded, which I thought I fully understood and have been trying to be very open with you.  So Sherlock, what else are you keeping from me huh?  Got anything else you’d like to share?”

Sherlock shook his head minutely; pointedly avoiding eye contact by staring at the wall behind John’s left shoulder. 

“Look at me,” John demanded and Sherlock had no choice but to meet the glare.  God he hated his biology sometimes. 

“The foot was given to me by St Barts.  They had no need for it and I supposed it might come up in a future case and so put it in the fridge for storage.”  Simple enough explanation.  It probably wouldn’t be useful to mention the amount of manipulation it took before they let him take it.

“So how long were you planning in keeping it in there?  Where you hoping I just wouldn’t notice?”

“No I hoped you wouldn’t be so boringly pedestrian about everything, though I suppose that was too much to hope for.”

“You hoped I’d be okay with you putting a foot in the fridge?” John stared at him incredulously.  “You know usually people aren’t okay with any body parts in any part of the fridge.  God maybe Sally was right, maybe you are a-” John chocked back the last word as the room filled with a new layer of tension, moving the argument away from common trod ground and into a new, much more dangerous level.  Previously their arguments had ended with one or the other giving up; never before had they properly attacked the other. 

There was a crackling silence.

“Say it,” Sherlock hissed, “Gone on.  Say it.  I dare you.”  He could almost see John’s vision cloud over red at the goading statement.

“Maybe you are a freak,” John lashed out, chillingly quiet but like a shout in the silence of the room.  Sherlock flinched, even though he’d been expecting it.  Then he began closing down, shutting out all emotional receptors and concentrating solely on keeping a cold, indifferent mask over his features.  He peripherally noticed that John was searching his faced for something, perhaps looking for an emotion to latch onto, to somehow either continue arguing or apologise.  Whatever he found there however caused him to stick out his chin, set his jaw and, with precise, military-style movements, turn and walk out the door.  Sherlock shut his eyes.  Waited.  The outside door slammed. 

Sherlock breathed out slowly.  He was fine.  It was all fine.  It wasn’t anything to be bothered by.  Just another stupid Alpha-.  Oh God.  AlphaHis Alpha

He sank to the floor, shaking as the flood of thoughts he’d been holding back broke through.  His hands came up to pull at his hair, nearly tearing it from his scalp.  But the pain of it wasn’t enough to distract him from his thoughts, from the thought of John, his Alpha John, leaving.  His anger at John was swallowed up by a sense of panic.

What if John didn’t come back?  Sherlock’s thoughts began to spiral out of control.  What if he’d driven him too far, so that he would simply go and start over again?  What if he was left here, alone again, not even able to be good enough to keep the one person that could stand him?  He’d been bad and for what?  To prove he was clever?  Because he was impatient?

God he was pathetic.  What was he doing, quivering on the living room floor, unable to cope with the consequences?  His brain snapped between his rational self and the Omega instincts.  Oh God, he didn’t think he could get through this, this intolerable tearing sensation near his heart.  It was illogical of course, his heart couldn’t actually break.  Or could it?  There were some unexplained symptoms that might be related. 

Oh please let his Alpha come back.  Please let it stop. Please.  Oh God, Oh God, please...

^^^

John dragged his feet back up the steps.  He’d allowed himself a few hours to calm down, wandering for a while until he found himself walking past the same coffee shop for the third time and feeling so unbelievably tired that not even the waft of coffee coming out the door was enough to revive him.  It was time to go home, go to bed and they could sort this out in the morning.  He would apologise for saying that thing while being adamant about the rest and Sherlock would pretend to sulk (but not really) and then things would fall back to normal after a while.  It was the way things went in their lives and John couldn’t find himself wishing it be any other way.  Sure, it was frustrating at times and his patience had been stretched to its absolute limit and beyond at points but most of the time it was his natural protectiveness pushing through and demanding to be felt, demanding he do something to protect, even if his Omega was perfectly capable of fending for himself (and had proved so time and time again). 

Thinking about it, maybe he should apologise before going to bed.

While walking past he had failed to notice the lights weren’t on in the flat and so blinked at the sudden darkness, pausing to let his eyes adjust.  Perhaps Sherlock had gone out, sweeping off in a spectacular huff.  Maybe he was annoying Greg for a new case.  God they needed one.  Being cooped up for too long was the reason their little fights had spilled over in the first place; too many pheromones in too little a space. 

He cocked his head slightly to the left.

There was a very faint snuffling noise, like that of a small animal.  It was coming from their bedroom door. 

Oh please God let it not be an animal attracted by one of Sherlock’s experiments.  If foxes had gotten in again he may be pushed directly over the edge.  John raised himself up onto his toes and moved stealthy across the floor.

The door was slightly ajar. 

John took a breath and peeked in.  What he saw was a shock.

Sherlock, his Sherlock, the Sherlock which ranted at nearly every person they met, was derisive, rude, and arrogant possibly to the point of being cruel when circumstances called for it, the Sherlock that wore confidence and pride like his grand, dear coat; that Sherlock was curled up on the bed, tiny tremors making his body shake.  He looked completely vulnerable with his back exposed and he hadn’t shown any sign of noticing John’s approach.  The air smelt sickly and laced with panic.  It appeared he’d found the source of the snuffling.

“Sherlock?” his whisper, a shout in the quiet room. 

The tremors and sounds stopped and Sherlock’s back went taught.  For a moment it was as if the room was suspended from time for a fraction of a second; two breaths held together in still air. 

“J-John?” a small voice asked.  John flinched as if slapped.  That wasn’t his Sherlock.  It couldn’t possibly be.  Sherlock talked with ease and elegance, words smooth or cutting at will. 

John walked carefully around the bed, as if he were approaching a wild animal easily startled.

Sherlock’s face was obscured by his hair and the oatmeal jumper clasped to his chest, covering his nose and mouth; only one quicksilver eye was visible.  John wanted desperately to run his hand through the curls as a sign of comfort but he merely put his hand on the bed, close enough so that Sherlock could bridge the gap when he wanted to. 

“Oh Sherlock,” he whispered as Sherlock shuffled slightly closer, invitingly, although his grip tightened on the jumper, as if to guard himself. 

“Y-You left,” Sherlock stated, not quite an accusation but more than a mere statement of fact.

“I know.  I’m sorry about that.  I’m sorry about a lot of things, especially the things I said earlier.  But you have to realise that sometimes you can be so frustrating Sherlock, so stubborn and adamant that you’re right that it’s difficult to get through to you and that’s all I want.”  There was a moment after when John wondered whether that was the correct thing to say as Sherlock’s eyes narrowed and glazed over into thinking mode.  His grip on the jumper however didn’t falter and John took this as a good sign.  If he got smothered with it then it may be an idea to reassess the situation. 

Sherlock lunged forward and John thought about panicking but instead was greeted to a surprisingly strong hug.  Well hug was a loose definition; Sherlock had wrapped his arms in an almost strangle-hold and had buried his face into John’s neck.  It was all he could to hold on and stroke the upper part of Sherlock’s back, hopefully soothingly.  Through the shock, it took a few moments for John to realise that Sherlock was muttering something into his neck. 

“I thought you weren’t coming back.” 

John pulled Sherlock even closer, bringing one hand up to smooth over his curls and the other firmly on his back. 

“Sherlock, listen to me right now and I want you to remember these words very, very carefully.  I will always come back.  I will get angry and I will storm out but don’t you ever think for a second I would just abandon you like that.” 

The detective made something close to a relieved sigh and started snuffling at John’s neck, breathing in the strong Alpha scent. 

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock said, his voice recovering slightly

“I know,” John replied calmly, “I know.”

“And you’re going to stay aren’t you?  No leaving forever?” 

At the almost child-like words John Watson felt his heart break a little. 

“No.  Never.  Not unless you ask me to.” 

“Never,” Sherlock stated, “I don’t want you to ever have to leave.”

"Then I won't," John stated simply as they clung onto each other, neither willing to let go, lest the other float away.