peg22: (greg lestrade)
[personal profile] peg22
Two weeks in the fandom and I've veered off a side road. Well, sort of. I just can't get the sad, shattered face of John Watson out of my head. Plus Greg Lestrade is a very yummy chap. I got a soft spot for cops.

Four Times They Did and One Time They Didn't
by Kaye
It's Greg Lestrade/John Watson and always implied Sherlock/John
It's NC-17
It's spoilery for after The Fall until The Return . . .
There is a bit of teh sex.




I. Cold Comfort

The first time was three days after. Greg felt a little guilty about it. So soon. Probably just grief and stress and looking for somewhere, someone to stall the inevitable. The realization. John showed up at his door, hesitant, broken. They emptied the first bottle – the good stuff – and were half into the second – the not so good stuff – when the air in the room changed. John sat on the couch, clenching and unclenching his fists, Greg in the chair, trying to find a good reason not to kiss him. Misery was irresistible to him and John had to be the most miserable human being he had ever seen. Not that he blamed him – he blamed Sherlock.

John stood suddenly, crossed the room, and the next thing Greg knew he was up against the wall, John’s hands desperately sliding under his shirt, his breath hot on his neck. Greg put his hands on either side of John’s face, to slow it down or speed it up, it didn’t seem to matter. He knocked his head back against the wall when John nipped at his neck, reached for his crotch. There was no talking, just ragged breathing, pushing and pawing. At one point John stopped, looked hard into Greg’s eyes, and spun him around, shoved him back against the wall, pressing in close. They managed to stumble into the bedroom before they both passed out fully dressed. John was gone when Greg woke up.

II. Uncomfortably Numb

The second time was three months after. John showed up one afternoon at New Scotland Yard with a box of mail. “I was afraid they might be cases,” he said as he sat down in the chair. “Could be important.”        

Greg nodded and they chatted for a bit about nothing and everything. John looked thinner. Older. Kept worrying the crease in his pants. “Listen, Greg, I hope you know . . .”

Greg put a hand up. He sure as hell didn’t want to have this conversation. Especially not here. Not now. “You don’t have to say anything . . .”

“I do, though. I feel like I owe you an apology . . .”

“God no.” Greg pushed himself away from his desk. “You don’t. I should have called . . .” He stood and came around the desk. “I should have . . .”

John looked down at the floor. “I shouldn’t have taken advantage . . .”

Jesus, he can punish himself, can’t he. “Fuck that. It was what it was. Grief. Booze.”

“Sherlock . . .” John whispered.

“Yeah, Sherlock.” Fucking Sherlock. Greg leaned against the front of his desk. Folded his arms and tried to look nonchalant. “What say we get out of here and grab a pint?”

John’s raised his head and lifted an eyebrow.

“A pint. Just one. And a chat. Looks like you could use it, and I know I bloody well could.”

John stood. “Yeah, all right. A pint.” He headed out the door.

Greg wished he had the power to erase the pain John wore on his face. Fucking Sherlock was right. He’d been gutted about Sherlock’s suicide, but John? John was barely hanging on. Fingernails at best. And all Greg could think of was getting him back to his flat and figuring out a way to fix it. Fix him.  Where the hell did that come from? He’d had his share of drunken shags, and technically, it wasn’t even a proper one, but this? This need to take John home and take the burden from his shoulders, the heaviness so apparent the minute he walked through the door. What was he doing? Knight in shining armour wasn’t his thing. Or was it? He grabbed his coat and followed John out the door, trying to convince himself he was just being a good friend.

One pint became two became ten. They finally stumbled out of the pub around midnight and crawled into a taxi. “Baker Street, 221B,” Greg told the driver. The minute the taxi pulled away, John turned and Greg grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed the lips he’d been staring at like a besotted cow for most of the night. John tasted like beer and whiskey and his tongue pushed into Greg’s mouth and he hung onto Greg’s shoulders and Greg pulled John’s hips closer, thrusting, his feet braced against the front seat.

Suddenly John stopped moving. They were nose to nose, breaths tangled, chests heaving. Greg watched John slide down his chest, his head nudging Greg’s shirt up, his tongue finding bare skin. Greg grabbed the door handle and sucked in a breath. John unbuttoned Greg’s trousers, kneading the bulge, his tongue trailing down Greg’s stomach.

“221B Baker Street.”

The voice came from nowhere. They hadn’t even realized the taxi had stopped. John rolled away and sat up. Greg watched John’s face – the haunted look was back. He watched his shoulders turn back to stone, and he leaned up to the driver and gave him another address. His address. The taxi pulled back into traffic. John closed his eyes briefly, squeezed Greg’s thigh and stared straight ahead.

The pang Greg felt in his chest confused him. Empathy. Yes. Sympathy. Hell yes. The aching need to pull John into his arms and let him stay there – forever – this was new. He didn’t care if they fucked or not. He just wanted to feel John’s weight against him, to hear John’s heartbeat, to erase every shred of evidence of pain from his body. Bloody hell – at this rate he’d be writing bad sonnets by morning. He should probably sleep on the couch tonight.

They barely made it in the door. John was on his knees in front of Greg, tugging his trousers over his hips. Greg leaned his head back against his front door and closed his eyes. He felt John shift, and looked down to see him struggling out of his own jeans. He pushed John’s head away from his crotch and slid down the door onto the floor beside him. Reached for John as John’s mouth resumed its assault. It was awkward, up against the door, half in half out of their clothes.  It was hot. It was over too soon. Greg came first, his hand squeezing John too hard as the wave overturned all his senses and he was drowning. He heard John’s shout as he joined him and from somewhere he wondered if someone could die from this.

They both rolled over on their backs, readjusting clothes, maneuvering around legs. Greg was surprised when John rolled back toward him, curling in against Greg’s side, his arm across his chest.  Greg pulled him closer, wrapping one arm around John’s shoulder, wincing already at the hard floor against his spine. But there was no way he was going to move an inch. He fell asleep listening to John’s steady breathing. His last conscious thought was, oh yeah, gonna be a huge fucking sonnet.

He was alone when he woke up, wedged against the bookshelf, a shoe up his ass. He smelled coffee and stumbled into the kitchen. There was a note on the coffeemaker, a cup in the sink.

Probably should talk later. Just talk. Thanks. J

Thanks for what exactly? So far they’d fucked against a wall and on the floor. So drunk both times it was a wonder they could even stand – hell, last night they couldn’t. What were they doing? And what was he supposed to do about it? If Sherlock were alive, he’d hire him straight away.

Your best friend keeps fucking your best copper, due in no small part to the fact you took a header into the wind (selfish prick) and now they have to go have some kind of talk. How does this end, Sherlock? Moriarty might have been on the verge of killing us, but you’re doing a pretty bang up job of it yourself now.

A hot shower chased most of the booze and the rest of the stupidity out of his head. Yes, he and John should have a proper sit down. In a public place. No booze. It was the right thing to do.

He grabbed his coat and found his keys wedged under the radiator. He probably ought to check in on Mrs. Hudson today. Who knows what mischief she could be getting up to? Fucking Sherlock.

                   

III. Take Comfort

The third time was not his fault.

After their talk (Starbucks, middle of the day, Oxford Street), he and John settled into a routine of sorts. No more drunken shags (pity shag John called it – chiropractor shag, Greg corrected). They decided John should check in at least once a week – by phone. Greg would go by 221B and check on Mrs. Hudson from time to time. And John, under no circumstances, could disappear. Greg added that one. Could see it in John’s face, felt it in the way he sat in the chair – on the edge of a cliff, the weight on his shoulders tilting him closer. Didn’t know whether to hug him or handcuff him. Take him to the nearest facility that would fill up all the hollowed out places inside him. Yes, his new predilection for flowery phrases continued. Fucking Sherlock.

Greg got busy at work. His caseload doubled and his detective load shrunk. Donovan got called to consult in Cardiff, and he found himself staring at piles of paperwork, the word unsolved stamped on over a quarter. He didn’t even notice the first week John didn’t call. Work, pub, bed – wash and repeat.

The second week, he called John and got his voicemail. Tried to sound breezy, ended up sounding like a dick. “Call me John. Been a couple of weeks. Don’t want to send out the dogs for you. Don’t really have dogs anymore – budget cuts and all – but I’m sure I could round up a couple . . . fuck, just call me.”

Three days later he stood staring at the knocker on the door at Baker Street. Mrs. Hudson hugged him and sat him down for tea. She looked tired. Sad. Fucking Sherlock.

“I don’t know what to tell you, Gregory. He hasn’t been here in months. Not since we visited Sher . . . the grave . . . Sherlock’s grave. Lovely stone. I’m sure his brother had a hand in it . . .”

She told him the name of the surgery where John had once worked, his therapist, and three women he’d dated. Not much to go on with that last bit, since Greg knew any bird that landed on this windowsill usually got shooed away by a giant. He called out for the rest of the day and went looking for John.

He found him two days later by way of the therapist and a woman named Tiffany, who knew a girl named Jane who used to provide private physio for John (whatever that meant) after Afghanistan. A small flat in Hackney. The dodgy part. He stood outside the building and rang John’s mobile – straight to voicemail. Headed up the stairs to the door of the flat, still not sure what he was going to say. Say? You were supposed to fucking call me every week, arsehole. I was worried about you – I was afraid you were going to follow Sherlock off a bloody roof, I was afraid I was going to lose you just when-

“Greg?” John stood in the open door, staring at him.

“John.” Well, this was working out.

“So you found me.” John didn’t move, didn’t let him in.

“I am a detective, John.” Regretted the words the minute they left his mouth.

John eyes narrowed, but he stepped back. “Come in.”

Greg walked in to the most pathetic bedsit in all of London. All of England, probably. Bed, table, chair, kettle, lamp, laptop, gun. Gun? Greg walked over and picked up the gun from the desk.

“Bad neighbourhood?”

“Better safe than sorry.” John took the gun out of his hand and shoved it in the desk drawer. “Tea?”

“Sure.” For once all the poetic gobbledegook failed him. He had no idea what to say. He was uncomfortable, and relieved, and scared. Of this place, this man before him. Who looked like he could blow away in a faint breeze. It was this change that scared him the most. Now, instead of a dark heaviness surrounding John, there was nothing. It wasn’t just the loss of a stone, it was the way he moved, the way he set the cups on the table. He was empty.

“Fucking hell, John.”

John looked up. “Why are you here, Greg?”

“You promised you’d call – and yes I know how that just sounded, but I went around to Baker Street and Mrs. Hudson said-“

“I haven’t been back there.”

“Yeah, she told me-“

“Since we were there.”

“Oh.” Fuck all. “John, I hate to say it, but you look like five kinds of shite.”

John motioned to Greg to sit. Greg thought about all the possible outcome to both of them perched on John’s bed, and he chose in the chair.

John took his teacup and sat on the edge of the bed, facing Greg. “Sorry I didn’t call. I lost track of time, I guess. I was okay. Am okay.”

“Hardly.” He’d guess about as far from okay as you could get.

“Comparatively okay, then.” John worried the handle of his cup.

“I guess that’s better, considering.”

“Yeah.”

Greg took a sip of tea, weighing all the pros and cons of wading in. Set the cup down and waded in. “John, have you seen anyone?”

“You.”

“Me? I haven’t seen you in two months. I’m talking someone who has a bloody clue. A doctor.”

“I am a doctor.”

“I know you haven’t seen your therapist since . . .”

“You went to see my therapist?”

“I was looking for you.”

“Right. Detective.”

Greg wanted to throw the teacup against the wall. This was getting them nowhere. They were dancing and the music wasn’t right. Why was he so prolific in his head and when he had to actually talk to this man, he became all Yeah, sure, okay, yeah?

Greg stood, set the teacup on the table, pushed the chair closer to the bed and sat down, his knees an inch from John’s. “You’ve really got me worried, John.”

John didn’t move, didn’t look at Greg. “I know,” he whispered, “worrying myself these days.”

Greg felt a familiar stab of pain. “What am I supposed to do with you?” He ignored the warning claxons in his head and moved forward, sliding off the chair and onto the bed next to John, moved his arm around John’s shoulder. Hoped it seemed sympathetic.

John didn’t move, didn’t flinch, just looked down at the floor.

“You know you only have to call, text, I don’t know – send a fucking homing pigeon. I’d be right here. Anytime.”

John smiled. Well, his lip curled. Greg would take it as a smile. Anything else at this point would probably make him cry. Greg took the teacup from John’s hands and set it on the chair.

“You can’t do this alone, John. Of all people, I know what you’re going through.” Jesus, he was a bloody self-help book now.

“I know. I’m sorry. It’s . . . it’s a little complicated . . .” John lifted his eyes for a minute, looked at Greg.

“A little? I’d say we passed little a long time ago.”

That produced an actual smile. Greg felt relieved. And then alarmed. John’s hand moved to Greg’s knee, thumb tracing the crease in Greg’s pants. It wasn’t deliberate. John’s eyes stared ahead, lost in some thought, some nightmare. “Fucking Sherlock.”

“What?” John lifted his hand and looked at Greg.

“What, what?”

“You just said, fucking Sherlock.”

“I did? Sorry, I was thinking out loud.”

“Apparently.”

“I say it a lot lately.”

“Why?”

“Because of you.”

“Me?” John shifted away from Greg, moved to the foot of the bed.

Greg couldn’t take the space between them, what it meant, so he stood. Walked two steps away, turned and came back. “Well, hell, John – I see what his death’s done to you, how you’re carrying it so heavy, like you’re wearing his fucking coat, and it pisses me off. Didn’t have to happen you know, we could have figured something out, so fucking brilliant he is and this is what he does? What he does to you? I mean, look at this place, look at you, look at me . . .” The steam blew out of him and he sat down heavily in the chair. “Bollocks. I’m having an actual hissy fit when I should be figuring out a way to fix it for you.”

“You can’t fix it.”

“I can bloody try, though.”

John shook his head. “You can. I think I need you to.”

Greg’s chest felt hot. “If you make me cry, John Watson . . .”

“I’m serious. Only two times I’ve felt like . . . well . . . a bit normal . . . since . . .”

“This is anything but normal.”

John nodded, grabbed the edge of the bed with both hands and stared at the floor. Greg knew not to speak. Tried not to move.

John raised his head and waited until Greg looked him in the face. “Come here,” he whispered.

Greg hesitated, saw the look in John’s face, pain and desire indistinguishable from each other and walked over to the bed. John fisted the front of Greg’s shirt and pulled him down, kissing him hard, scooting back onto the bed, forcing Greg on top of him. Greg rolled a bit, pinned between the wall and John. He knew he shouldn’t. Knew they really shouldn’t, but John’s tongue was forcing the issue. For one sane moment, Greg managed to pull John back. He looked him directly in the eye and said, “You sure?” He hoped it didn’t show on his face that the only answer he could deal with was yes.

John answered by shoving Greg on his back, pulling his shirt open.

“Hey, watch the shirt. It’s new.”

John lowered his head and sucked one of Greg’s nipples between his teeth.

“Fucking hell.”

John lifted his head. “You talk a lot.”

“I’m sober.”

“Is that a reason or an excuse?”

Greg’s whole body tensed as John’s hand slipped under his trousers, massaged his too hard already cock.

John’s hand stopped. “You need to get undressed.”

“You talk a lot, too.”

“I’m sober. Sort of.” John stood and unzipped his trousers. They dropped to the floor and he stepped out of them. He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it behind him.

Greg saw the evidence of months of too much booze and not enough protein etched across John’s body. Too thin, too pale. Too beautiful to bear. He quickly got out of his own clothes and threw them on the floor. Looked at John, still standing, staring at him, his cock hard. Greg drew in a sharp breath as John reached down and touched himself. Felt his hand moving toward his own cock. Didn’t want to take his eyes off John standing there with his eyes closed, his head tilted to one side, his hand sliding up and down his cock. A small moan escaped his lips and Greg couldn’t stand it. He stood up, pulled John’s hand away, took John’s cock and slid his hand up and down, fingers squeezing lightly. He slid his other hand behind John’s neck, pulling John’s mouth to his. John reached down and took Greg in his hand. Greg’s legs twitched at the contact and he stumbled back a step. John pushed him back another step and they were on the bed, legs tangled, hands slick, moving slow, then frantic, then slow again, their rhythm growing more insistent, their hearts frantic.

“Open your eyes,” John hissed against Greg’s neck.

He opened his eyes and looked into John’s. John stared at him, moved against him. He knew they were both close, but there was something in John’s eyes . . .

“Save me.”

Later, Greg never knew if John actually said the words out loud or if his eyes and his hands and his body had just seared it onto his heart because they came together with a jerk and a shout (his), and a string of expletives (John’s). The aftershock crumbled the rest of their bones and they lay motionless on the bed until John got up, locked the door, and crawled back in beside Greg, pulling the sheet over both of them.

Greg watched the afternoon turn to evening turn to night, thinking of every scenario where this turned out well. He absently stroked John’s head, rubbed his shoulders. He knew John wasn’t always asleep, could feel his heart speed up sometimes when Greg moved his hands lower than his shoulders, but neither one of them spoke. Somewhere in the middle of the night, John got up to use the toilet and came back into the same position. Greg took comfort in it. Maybe this did help. Did a damn sight of good for him. His head was clear, his muscles relaxed. But he knew that the morning would come and it would all be the same. Same problem, same pain, same depressing flat.

For only the thousandth time he wished he knew what to do. Something useful, not just shag him unconscious every time they were together. Fucking Sherlock. He’d have to quit saying that, too. He was using it as a pressure release now. Somewhere to store his own grief and pain and frustration. As the time between the fall and the present grew farther apart, he had grown angrier. He moved his head so he could see John’s face – only in sleep did the man lose the flinch of pain.

He sighed. He had known for a long time Sherlock Holmes was one of a kind. They’d had their own share of misadventures, miscues, missed clues before John showed up. Hell, Sherlock was the one who first suggested the healing cock theory one night after too many drinks and too much talk about dead victims and ex-wives. But how could the most brilliant man any of them had ever known be such a daft git? How could he leave? Just head out. Head first. He had to have known what that would do to John. Did to John. Does to John. How could he have deduced it would ever be okay?

He heard his mobile vibrating under the pile of clothes on the floor, snaked his hand out from under the sheet and pulled the pile toward to him, careful not to disturb John. He slid the phone out from his pocket, looked at the number, and almost dropped the phone. Holmes, Mycroft.

Bollocks. What, in the name of all that’s unholy, would Mycroft Holmes be calling him for? At 4am? On a Tuesday? He let the call go to voicemail. He’d really had enough of the Holmes brothers to last a lifetime. He looked down at John. Two lifetimes.

After an hour, he slipped out of the bed. John turned toward the wall and sighed. Good. Let the man sleep. He could use it.

He shrugged into his clothes, scribbled a quick and what he hoped was funny and sincere note, put it under the teacup and quietly left the flat.

He redialed the number on his phone and when he heard the clipped hello, he said, “Mycroft Holmes, you bastard. What is so important that you had to call me at 4 in the morning?”

He didn’t see John watching him from the window.

IV. Small Comfort

One year to the day. He hated to call it an anniversary. More like a macabre look back at something nobody wanted to look at. A day of doing all the things one does when one is trying not to think of something just because the same day has come around the calendar again. No one would call him sentimental. Especially about this.

Mycroft Holmes had offered Greg a sizable amount of money to spend time with John and report everything back to him. Greg refused. Mycroft didn’t look surprised, but it didn’t stop him calling Greg’s mobile three times a week, asking very pointed questions. He switched numbers once, but Mycroft called him within the hour, and it was more of a headache changing his contacts than just listening to Mycroft order him about. If he were being honest, he’d say he even started looking forward to their little chats – Mycroft would command, Greg would tell him to sod off in creative ways, Mycroft would sigh and threaten global retribution.

After the night in John’s flat (and the day after and the day after that), he found himself spending almost as much time with John than without. He was really starting to believe in his ability to fix it. Him. Them. They had dinner together, spent Sundays together. John even came on a couple of cases as a forensic specialist, until an old army buddy called to tell him of a job in a clinic – good money, good hours, no murder. Greg thought it was a good idea. Nothing in that clinic could hurt him. He’d have something of his own.

He’d been worrying for weeks as the actual day grew closer. Did he leave John alone? Throw a party? Take him on holiday? He was sure Mycroft could find and fund somewhere to go – an island with long beaches and tall drinks with little umbrellas. As had been the case lately, John figured it out for himself.

“Dinner, next Wednesday.” he said one night a week before. “Just us. Your place.”

He felt relieved. They had a plan. What had Mycroft just told him about best laid plans?

Wednesday morning found him hanging by his fingertips on a fire escape in South London while two men in demon masks used him as a piñata. He and Donovan had finally caught a break on the case involving smash and grab murders dating two years back and they had found themselves face to face and outnumbered. Donovan ran to call for back-up and in an idiotic combination of machismo and immortality, Greg had taken chase.

He tried to swing his legs up out of the way of the baseball bats the bastards kept swinging, but his left hand slipped off the last rung and he swung right into the bat, which knocked him to the ground. They were on him before he could roll over. A few well connected blows later, and the edges of the alley grew fuzzy. Then black.

He woke up in hospital, with a headache and a plaster on his arm. He put his hand on his stomach, which turned out to be a bad idea. His whole chest was tightly taped and when he pressed the bandages with his fingers, he was sure he heard rattling glass. Bastards broke his fucking ribs.

“Three cracked, the rest bruised. You’ve also got a concussion and a broken wrist.” John appeared at the side of his bed and took his other wrist in his hand. “Your pulse is good, though. How do you feel?”

Greg tried to sit up and swore. “Hurts. Fucking hell.” He looked at John, in a doctor coat, with a doctor badge and a stethoscope. Professional. Hot. Hot? Morphine as aphrodisiac. No wonder Sherlock . . .

“Oh hell, John. Dinner.” For a moment he wondered if it was still Wednesday.

John squeezed his hand. “Greg, you’ve just gotten the shite kicked out of you. I think we can postpone dinner.”

Greg couldn’t find the words fast enough. Not just dinner. Tonight. Dinner. “The day . . . are you . . .”

John nodded. “I know the day. Don’t worry. I have to say your little emergency has been quite the distraction. You know you called me from the alley?”

“I did?”

“Oh yeah, told me you had my next blog story – The Case of the Human Piñata – then you must have passed out. Mycroft sent people. They found Donovan knocked out by your car. She’s fine, though. Treated and released.”

“Mycroft sent people?”

John smiled. “All that information and you choose Mycroft. Interesting.”

“But I have people. Where were my people?”

“Your people couldn’t find you. You ran about a mile chasing them, doubled back twice. Apparently Mycroft has a tracker on your mobile – need me to trash it for you?”

Greg wished his head didn’t hurt so much. He was only catching about every second word. The one thing he knew is that John had yet to let go of his hand. His tether to the real world. He closed his eyes.

He woke up three hours later. Felt less fuzzy. Looked over to see John asleep in the chair beside the bed. Didn’t know what to do with that information. Flashed back to the many times he’d seen John in the same position in a hospital. But it had been Sherlock propped up on scratchy pillows, hooked up to noisy machines. He tried to scoot up in the bed, and the wail slash scream that came out of his mouth woke up John.

“Greg . . . you ok?” John was beside him in an instant.

“Fucking ribs,” Greg tried to breath softer. “Can’t move.”

“Probably not a good idea just yet. I just adjusted your morphine. Let it take effect before you move very much.”

Greg let out a slow breath. “Thanks.”

John pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat down. “So, you’ve been out again for about three hours. Your other tests all came back ok, so as soon as we can get your pain under control, you can go home.”

The thought of actually getting out of bed and walking and bending to get in a car made Greg break out in a sweat. “Well, you’re the doctor.” He hoped he sounded, what, not like a whiny child? Brave? What he really wanted to say was, John, you are not allowed to leave me. Now, tomorrow. Ever. Seriously, morphine was good. He should have been asking Sherlock for shares, not dumping it out all those years . . .

“Fuck. John. Dinner.”

John rolled his eyes and took Greg’s hand. “Greg, like I said before, we can have dinner another night. And I know you think it’s your job to get me through today, but it looks like it’s my turn to get you through tonight.” He squeezed Greg’s hand and readjusted the IV tape.

“Are you okay?” Greg wanted to pull John into bed with him, but knew that would hurt. Really, really hurt.

“Am I okay? Yes. Not hardly. Not comparatively. Not considering. Just yes. And I blame you.” John stood and leaned in closer to the bed, careful not to jostle Greg, but close enough so he could speak quietly.

Greg found it all so fascinating and he thought maybe there was a rib sticking in his heart because it was hurting now, too. He blinked and concentrated on John’s face.

“You have to know I couldn’t have gotten through this time . . . this year . . . without you. You’ve been . . .my friend . . . and you’ve led me out of a very . . . dark . . . and just want you to know, that I know what today is, and it’s hard and I hate it but when I got the call that they’d brought you here and you were unconscious, I just knew it was happening all over again and . . .

“Fuck, John. I’m sorry . . . Jesus . . . I didn’t . . .”

“Of course you didn’t and you have nothing to be sorry about. There are just some things you can’t fix and this is one of them. I’m never going to get over it completely – and I dare say, neither are you. But what we have done, what we continue to do is heal, right? One day at a time.”

“Now you sound like a self-help book.” Did he say that out loud?

“It’s trite but true. We’re better than we were, and we’ll get better. I’m just saying thank you. For all of it.”

Greg didn’t like morphine anymore. It was going to make him cry. “S’ok, John, really.”

John shook his head. “You are not used to the good stuff, are you? And you should try to rest – you’re going to need it if Mycroft gets here before visiting hours are over.”

“Mycroft? Coming here? Why?”

John looked like he was enjoying himself. “Well, since Mycroft hates hospitals, and knows very well what day this is, I’d say he’s coming to see you. Which we should probably talk about after you’re weaned off the morphine.”

Greg nodded without understanding. The only thing that was clear to him was that John said he was better. That they were better. That sentence, more than anything else on this forsaken day, made sense. Made him stop worrying. Finally. Well, not finally. He knew John was not as okay as he was putting on. But just the attempt at okay was okay. Okay, dokey. He snorted. Which made him gasp in pain.

John was by his side again. He could get used to that. He shouldn’t get used to that. He was already used to that. A noise at the door stopped him from going round again in that sentence.

Mycroft stood, umbrella on one arm, holding a giant pink papier-mâché donkey in the other. John took one look and burst out laughing. It was the best sound Greg had heard in a very long time. He loved John. He loved Mycroft. He loved morphine. He really loved morphine.

Mycroft cleared his throat as though he needed to draw more attention to himself. He held the donkey by its string and let it twirl. “Did someone here order a piñata?”

The pain that sheared his chest in half was worth it. That man was funny.

V. Relative Comfort

The last time was a long time after. He’d stopped hearing so much from John. Who now had a girlfriend. A new flat. He flipped between happy as hell and jealous as hell. Most days he was happy. He had grown tired of being so worried for so long. His own life was predictable in a pedestrian way. Too much work, always. But tempered with friends, a few dates, some laughs. John had been right. They were better.

But it all changed in an instant. In the best of ways, in the worst of ways. Oh yes, the poetry remained – he was fucking Dickens now.

He’d been nursing a bottle of whiskey – if nursing meant chugging – since he’d left Sherlock in the parking garage. Yes, Sherlock. Fucking Sherlock. Very alive and very smug. Commenting on his smoking. Greg had first hugged him and then punched him. Felt bad about punching him and hugged him again. Cried like a little baby. Punched him again. This time Sherlock had been ready for it and merely stepped out of the way. They sat at the edge of the garage, backs against the wall, shared three cigarettes and two hours’ worth of recriminations and revelations. He’d faked his own fucking death. Moriarty’s network obliterated. Mycroft knew. Molly knew – that one floored him. How many times had Greg been to the lab in the last two years? Never suspected. Nice detective work, Lestrade. He had already seen John. It hadn’t gone so well. Fucking Sherlock. A restaurant? Really? He was aching to find out how John was doing, and what he was doing with this bit of unbelievable information.

So when he heard the knock at the door this night of all nights, he couldn’t even imagine who else was going to walk through his door. He opened the door and there John stood, half empty bottle in hand, moustached and slightly manic.

“Can I come in?” He peered past Greg, looking for someone.

“Mycroft’s not here.” Greg pulled him in and closed the door.

“Mycroft? Why would I . . .” John’s eyes grew wider. “Oh . . . OH.”

“Go fuck yourself and your ohs. I’m just telling you.”

John sat down. “Maybe you should tell me.”

Greg snorted. “Oh yes, John, that’s exactly what we should be talking about. That Holmes.”

John unscrewed the bottle and took a drink. Held it out to Greg, who sat down beside him on the couch and held up his own bottle.

“So I guess you know.” John took another drink.

“He ambushed me at work.”

“Restaurant.”

“He told me. Fucking Sherlock.”

John tipped his bottle to Greg and took a big swallow. Choked a bit. “Fucking Sherlock. Fucking alive. He’s fucking alive.”

Greg squeezed John on the shoulder. “It’s unbelievable, John. I’m surprised you’re not over at Baker Street.

“Fucking Baker Street.” John took another drink.

Greg was sensing that maybe he’d misjudged the situation. “I thought you’d be . . .”

“Really? Two years, Greg – you know what they were like – two years. And then he breezes in, expecting me to just . . . just, drop it all . . . shave my moustache.”

“Your moustache? Well, I can’t say it’s a bad idea . . .”

John turned to Greg, waving the bottle at him. “You too? Is there anyone in the whole bloody world who tells me the truth? Anyone?”

Greg took a swig from his own bottle. “Give me a minute.”

John sunk into the couch, took another drink. “On the other hand – he’s back. Greg. Not dead. Not dead. Just a liar.”

“What happened after you left?”

“He found you, I guess. I had to take Mary home. I think I broke his nose.”

What part of that should he ask about first? “Mary was there?” Sherlock hadn’t mentioned that. Of course he hadn’t.

“Oh yeah, his new fan. I like him, she says. Sure, I did too, before he died and ruined my life.”

“And you broke his nose? That I’d like to see. Only got one good one in myself.”

John showed him the bruise on his forehead from the head-butt. They laughed, decided it was only because John was so much shorter that his head fit right under Sherlock’s nose. John grew quieter, muttering to himself. He’d stand up suddenly, shouting out another reason he should never speak to Sherlock again. Just as quickly he’d figure out a reason he should go over to Baker Street right now and forgive him everything.

Greg watched and drank and his heart broke in a hundred new ways. All that time. All that pain. For nothing. Absolutely nothing. He wished he’d have hit Sherlock harder. He wished he knew where Sherlock was. Typical, the man destroys John again and is nowhere to be found.

Both bottles were empty and they melted into the couch, drunk, exhausted. John leaned over and put his head on Greg’s shoulder. Greg stiffened. Not now. Not here. Not now. He couldn’t protect John from this anymore. He couldn’t wrap him up, shield him from this pain. This was all on Sherlock.

John moved closer, his head pushing against Greg’s chest, his hand wandering down Greg’s thigh. Greg thought of every reason this was a bad idea. Long list. Tried to think of a reason this was a good idea. Short list. Tossed both lists aside and pulled John up his chest and kissed him hard. John responded by wrapping his hands behind Greg’s neck and throwing his leg over his lap. The kiss lasted a long time. Hot and wet and slow enough that both of them knew what it was about. John unbuttoned Greg’s shirt, still kissing, moving to his neck, following the open shirt, kissing every inch. Greg was in hell. And nowhere near hell. John slid off the couch to his knees and slowly unbuttoned Greg’s trousers. Greg massaged John’s scalp, his neck, lifted his leg and rubbed his crotch with the top of his foot. John hummed soft and low on the ridge below Greg’s hips and he almost bucked himself off the couch. John took Greg’s cock in his mouth, sucked slow and soft. Greg dug his heels into John’s back, but John just kept working, driving Greg over a cliff and then pulling him back at the last moment. Finally John sucked hard and fast and Greg came with a long moan, his hips three inches off the cushion. He fell back against the couch and closed his eyes.

John joined him on the couch. They sat silent for a moment. Greg fought his way through the fog and reached over for John’s very apparent bulge in his jeans. John blocked his hand.

“No. I’m good.”

“You are, but you’re not done.”

“I can’t ask you to . . .”

“Ask me? I’m asking you.”

John’s eyes darkened and he stood. Held out his hand. Greg pulled his trousers over his hips and took John’s hand and followed him into the bedroom. He was hard again. He was so drunk. So fucking sad. John let go of Greg’s hand and undressed. Came back to Greg and helped him undress. They fell on the bed together. This time it was slow. This time there were ghosts. Not enough to stop them, just enough to make the time feel shorter. Not as sweet. Still just as hot.

John stayed another hour. Sat on the edge of the bed, telling Greg everything he wanted to hear, nothing he ever wanted to hear again. They both knew. Greg had known the minute he’d heard that voice behind him in the garage. The loss would always be there. This loss. Theirs, not his. When he heard the door click shut and he knew John had gone, he gave himself three minutes to have a good cry. Only he didn’t cry. He couldn’t. He turned over and begged whatever god was looking down at him to let him sleep for a week.

He didn’t think it was a coincidence when his mobile rang. He picked it up and saw Mycroft’s number. Did the man have cameras pointed at him? He answered the phone. “Yes I know he’s alive, Mycroft.”

“Gregory, hello, I was just phoning to inquire-“

“Shut the hell up and get in whatever car is closest to you and get over here.”

“I don’t believe-“

“Now, Mycroft. I need you and I doubt that will happen again anytime soon, so you’d better find a way to be at my door before I fall asleep.” Greg waited for an answer but just heard a click. He set the phone on the nightstand and buried his head in the pillow.

In three minutes the doorbell rang. Yeah, Greg thought as he got up to answer it, there are cameras in here. We have to talk about boundaries.


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