(Ack! Felt like writing a quick reunion fic. Not as funny as usual, hope everyone still likes!)
John was strong in his absence. Sherlock tailed him for a week before he knocked on the door of 221B, about to put on his Greatest Performance. John has had a girlfriend recently, but nothing serious; nothing that left him messy. He is still working in the at the hospital, and volunteers for the police on weekends. He isn't quite a detective, but Lestrade likes to have him around, calls John a 'grounding force', and, if the way he glances at John with a mix of fear and hero worship, has had his life saved by the man at least once. So, John does not limp.
But Sherlock, crouched in the alley by the flat, has also heard John Watson listen to CDs of instrumental violin music at three in the morning. He has seen John stop as he was walking past the graveyard with Sherlock's tombstone, roll his shoulder's back, and nod, with a tired, forlorn face. John may be getting on all right, but he still misses Sherlock.
Sherlock paced and paced and thought and thought. John was essential to coming back. If it weren't for John, Sherlock's not sure if he'd bother with England at all. Moriarty's network is done. England is as safe as she'll ever be. He can hardly stand Mycroft, and while Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson are important they are probably safer without him. Mummy has always been distant. So that leaves John, who quite frankly, Sherlock cannot imagine NOT coming back to.
But he doesn't want John to punch him and be cross that the annoying git that left him three years ago can just waltz back into his life. The thought of Sherlock's John without his adoration, without his 'brilliant's and 'fantastic's, but instead the cold hard man that almost strangled him outside of Irene Adler's is distasteful. He wants John to love him, perhaps embrace him when he first sees him again. So, Sherlock practices his biggest, most important performance ever, over and over again in the large mirror in Mycroft's sitting room at 4 in the morning.
To be effective, Sherlock decides, this Act has to be as close to Sherlock's character as possible. There will be no 1) crying 2) kissing 3) fainting. However, there must be emotion that John can relate to. Sherlock must act as if he loves John. He knows that, technically, three years is too long for an attachment to last to a high functioning sociopath. John's warm eyes and rough hands held nothing of intrinsic value. The time Sherlock went to a thrift store and furtively purchased a horrible unfashionable jumper to keep under his pillow was merely nostalgia, not an act of longing and adoration. Sherlock knew that technically he could not relate to these emotions, so he would have to do his best to perform them so that John would be convinced. Frankly, if Sherlock cannot have his John back, he will probably leave, and he's honestly not sure where he'll end up. Perhaps he'll find cocaine again. Or Perhaps he'll simply find the alter of The Work again, and bloody himself at Her alter until She has consumed him.
When he tugged at his scarf as he stood in front of 221B he got into his role. He shuffled his feet, he caught his bottom lip between his teeth. Nervous. He sucked in air, then let it out. He let his mind sink into that of a person who would feel this way, someone who has been gone from their love for years and is unsure of the way he or she will receive them. He tugs on his blue scarf absently, and knocks on the door.
There are footsteps as John comes down the stairs. Sherlock made sure Mrs. Hudson was out, he didn't want her shrieking or fainting on him just yet, though he was sure her time would come. Right now was for John. He felt himself sink into his role of the repentant traveler, as his pulse thrummed in his ears. This has to be perfect. John has to believe he cares about him, and loves him, and will never leave him again. Panic rises in his throat at the thought of John seeing through all of this to the sociopath beyond, but he quickly tamps it back down as the door knob rattles and John opens it.
God, John is beautiful. The dark blue eyes widen as he stares at Sherlock, and his mouth falls open slightly. He is wearing a collared shirt and a brown button down cardigan. His nose is still a touch too big and he still has bags under his eyes. There are more lines around his mouth, but not many, and his hair is a little softer and edged with grey.
John's voice is stunned, but not broken, and Sherlock shakes himself out of drinking in and cataloguing every new facet of John that presents itself to him. He has to act before John gathers himself enough to react.
"John." (He lets a tear fall. This is surprisingly easy, Sherlock occasionally struggles to produce tears during an act. It is probably easy, Sherlock decides, because John is his favorite idiot out of all the idiots in the world) "I'm sorry I didn't come home sooner…" (Voice break. John must believe that he did want to come home sooner. Of course, Sherlock did, but it wasn't because he felt for his blogger, it was because he was obsessed with seeing him again) "…but Moriarty was going to kill you and" (words rushing, act nervous, good) "I couldn't stand to see that happen to you." (Lean in, hug him. Soft, slightly scratchy cardigan. Warm smell, tea and antiseptic. Don't pull away unless he wants you to. Good, he doesn't want you to.) "Is it okay if I come home? I don't ever want to leave you again." (Wipe your cheek. Be careful! You got a bit carried away with the tears. Just how many tears would John expect out of YOU Sherlock Holms? Honestly.)
John's soft hair is under Sherlock's chin, and his mouth is moving against Sherlock's shoulder. The detective can hear the words "idiot, moron, daft wanker, and mad git" repeated over and over again until it feels as though John is trying to pull Sherlock inside his heart with the words and his strong arms that are now shaking with emotion. John doesn't cry, Sherlock remembers. John is too stoic to cry. But John will stare a hole through your heart and collapse if you're not careful.
"Come upstairs." (John's voice is rough and hoarse and lovely) "We're going to sit on the couch and you're going to be as intellectual as always and I'm going to try and convince myself that I'm not completely bonkers." (Sherlock is holding John upright now. It's okay. He expected something like this.)
Sherlock waits for John to figure out The Act. It is true that he was performing it flawlessly, and that it was easy to wake up every morning, roll over and remember to hug John awake (John had insisted on sleeping in the same bed because he wanted to keep an eye on Sherlock), remember to sometimes make him tea or coffee in the morning before he left for work, and remember to kiss him on the top of the head at particularly invigorating crime scenes. But honestly he had expected more out of John, expected John to FIGURE IT OUT because John, while an idiot, wasn't daft and usually saw right through Sherlock. But John played along until one night Sherlock was sitting on the couch with his knees drawn up to his chest and his shoulders feeling oddly narrow in his blue dressing gown, completely glazed over with boredom. He flicked his gaze up when John walked into the room, and the consulting detective watched in fascination as John's eyes softened at the sight of him, pupils dilating, crow's feet becoming less harsh as the muscles in his face relaxed to a smile.
"Oh Sherlock, look at you. I do love you," he murmured, his voice gently scolding as it always was when Sherlock was in this half mad state of mind. He sat opposite him, and wrapped his legs around Sherlock's and his arms around his shoulders, cocooning him next to his chest. He kissed the detective's jaw, hands, and forehead, and finally tugged Sherlock out of his reverie as he kissed his mouth.
Sherlock whimpered softly into the kiss. "John," he murmured (one person's lips moving against another's, even while talking, is still a kiss.) "Please, John, it's an act. I'm sorry, I didn't want you to be cross with me. I don't love… I faked that, I just wanted to be close to you."
For a moment Sherlock was sure John had suddenly gone deaf, because the kiss got deeper, fuller as John teased his mouth open with his tongue.
"Did you hear me John?" Sherlock asked, slightly breathless when he was finally able to come up for air. "It was just a trick."
John smirked. "You tend to lie about your tricks Sherlock, and besides, it doesn't matter. Are you going to wake up next to me tomorrow morning?"
"Do you mind if I love you?"
Sherlock shook his head.
"Then does it matter?"
Sherlock opened his mouth, and found The Act spilling out again, but he was becoming used to it now. "Only if it matters to you, John."
John pulled Sherlock's head down to his shoulder, and kissed him gently on the neck. "I love you too, you idiot."