Part One: Good Old Fashioned Nightmare
John sat at the café table in the sunshine. He was only a few streets away from Baker St. but it felt like he’d just escaped from prison. He’d been cooped up the flat for the past three months working with Sherlock. He’d been sorting through data, videos and files looking for anything that would implicate Moriarty or break his insidious web.
John had picked up a newspaper on his way to the café from the corner market and spent some time catching up on the London news. He’d been so engrossed in all things Moriarty, he’d been out of it for a while now, and it felt good to reestablish connections to the pulsing beat of the city. No matter how dire things were in Sherlock’s world, he had to take a break for a while. A young couple sat down at the table next to him and he nodded companionably to them, “Morning,” he chirped happily. It felt good to be out. He deserved this. He thought back over the past three exhausting months and felt relief once again for the reason he was out now among his fellow Londoners.
After Moriarty had kidnapped him and strapped him into an explosive vest at the pool, Sherlock had become extremely possessive of John and wouldn’t let him out of his sight. Even though they’d been living and working together agreeably for almost two years, John knew the stakes were higher now.
John felt an intense kinship with Sherlock and followed him loyally. He would do anything for the man. He could even admit to feeling physical attraction bubbling up at odd times during some of their mad dashes through the city although he’d never acted on it. Working together had always been enough. They lived in close quarters and shared everything two people could share minus the physical intimacy. But, he’d gone to great lengths to convince himself he wasn’t gay and that Sherlock wasn’t interested if he were. They didn’t do romance; they solved crimes and saved each other in so many other ways. John couldn’t imagine his life without Sherlock.
However, after his near brush with Moriarty’s death attempt at the pool, Sherlock’s personality shifted. He had thrown himself into his pursuit to punish the criminal mastermind with a fierceness John hadn’t known he’d possessed. And, since he’d already seen Sherlock madly chasing criminals all over the country, that was saying something.
At first, Sherlock believed Moriarty’s men would attack them in the streets of London, so he limited both their outdoor ventures to only those times necessary for survival. The Great Game consumed them. Although, John did suspect that Sherlock secretly disappeared in the dead of night when he slept, and would creep back into the flat before he awoke in the morning. Then, Sherlock stopped taking any cases or work that he didn’t believe would help him solve the Moriarty mystery. He even accompanied John to Tesco for shopping trips and paid for cabs so John wouldn’t have to walk exposed on the sidewalk. He kept a nervous watch the entire time.
“I think we should have our groceries delivered from now on, John. I’ll get one of Mycroft’s lackeys to do it,” Sherlock had said on their last shopping trip. He’d walked so close to John their shoulders touched. In what John assumed was an unconscious protective gesture, he’d even wrapped his long arm around John’s shoulders when they crossed the street after being dropped off by the cab.
“I think I can manage not to get kidnapped getting the groceries, Sherlock,” he’d quipped and instantly regretted it when he saw a flash of hurt cross Sherlock’s face. It had been replaced with a hard look of determination. He simply gripped John tighter and hurried them on.
“Just for now, John. He will not get to you again,” Sherlock said heatedly. And John felt a curious mix of warmth and dread at this new level of Sherlock’s protectiveness.
After that last shopping trip, he’d kept John so claustrophobically close, he had begun to quietly scheme ways to get some space away from the man. He could never carry out any of them because Sherlock kept one step ahead of him and thwarted every plan to get some time away from the flat. He always had an excellent reason why John should stay put. Sherlock loomed near him perpetually. Even when he went to the bathroom to shower and take a piss, he sensed Sherlock hovering in the hallway. He found himself longing for his hectic shifts at the surgery. He hadn’t gone on a date with a woman or even his mates in so long he almost forgot what it was like to just revel in the freedom of being away from the flat and out in real world.
John remembered the last morning three months ago when he’d tried to go to work at the clinic.
“You are not leaving Baker Street again until it’s safe,” Sherlock stated in his dark baritone when he saw John heading for the front door, keys in hand. He’d quickly jumped in front of him and physically blocked his way. “You can’t. He’ll kidnap you again or kill you. I couldn’t bear to lose you.” He’d been so fierce and sad about it that John had simply caved in.
Sherlock had forbidden him to go in to the clinic, and he’d kept having to call in sick or find some other excuse until he finally broke down and asked for a formal leave of absence. He had some savings, enough to last for about six months if he were careful. If this kept up, they would have to rely on Sherlock’s erratic income (or possibly Mycroft) more often if he could not leave the flat for work.
Sherlock had been so relieved; he hugged John tightly startling an “Ugg, from him in the process. John remembered he’d held the embrace a bit longer than a flat mate’s embrace should have lasted and let go finally with a satisfied look in his eyes.
“Thank you,” he said and bounded back into the kitchen to crouch over his laptop.
John’s employers had granted him a leave of absence, grudgingly, and he’d been relieved he might still be able to go back to work when this overprotective phase of Sherlock’s finally ended. It would all work out, he’d hoped. In retrospect, John should not have ignored all those red flags.
During those intense months, Sherlock’s unconscious touching had increased until John thought nothing of sitting on the couch typing away on his blog to find Sherlock sitting so close their thighs brushed. Sherlock had a nearly psychic ability to know when he was about to fix a cup of tea and when to hand John a mug down from the cupboard. He even passed him towels when he needed to dry the dishes.
“Thanks, Sherlock” he usually muttered both pleased and disturbed at this new level of helpfulness. He’d never been the focus of this much of Sherlock’s attention before. At first he’d been a little giddy and even blushingly flattered by it.
“Of course, John,” Sherlock always said sometimes letting his gaze linger a little too long. He’d even caught Sherlock hiding a small smirk at John’s blushes. Other times, he let his long fingers graze over John’s in a suggestive way as he handed him things. But, then Sherlock would turn back to whatever experiment he was working on and John brushed it off to Sherlock being Sherlock. But as the moments increased, John couldn’t help but worry that Sherlock wanted something more from him, more than his total allegiance, respect and companionship. He didn’t know what else he had to offer. Things had continued on in this way during what John had dubbed his “time in Baker Street solitary.” They threw themselves into their work and John let it go. He always let it go when it came to Sherlock.
However, John grew weary of the monotony, of life grounded in the flat and research, and he sometimes daydreamed about packing a bag and leaving this whole mad way of life behind. Then, he stopped and remembered his existence before he met Sherlock Holmes and thanked whatever gods that had granted him a life with this crazy man. Things would get better. They’d solve the Moriarty dilemma, as Sherlock called it. He just had to have faith.