Characters: John, Sherlock, Sarah, Gladstone
Warnings/Triggers: a bit bittersweet
Word Count 3,722
Summary: John and Sarah take another huge leap in their relationship—moving in together.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse, between 'Balancing Act' and 'Decent Proposals'. I left a gap in there to accommodate Series Three if necessary, so I thought I'd start to fill it in a little.
This is actually two short fics put together, one from John's POV and one from Sarah's, though they follow one right after the other. I've labelled them with subtitles, to mark the transition.
“No, you're not.”
“No, I'm not. Is it important?”
“No, never mind, it can wait.”
John stepped over the mess of Lego on the floor—Sherlock was constructing a miniature crime scene for 'reference' purposes. Which John was pretty sure translated as 'I am slightly bored, and somehow have Lego'.
“Are you sure?” Sherlock asked. “You only clarify that I'm listening when you have something you think is important to say.”
“It's nothing that can't wait,” John said. “It's important, but not urgent. Don't worry about it.”
Sherlock sprung up from the floor, Lego falling from his dressing gown. Gladstone nosed around the crime scene in progress. “I'm not worried about it,” Sherlock said. “But I can listen, now. I'm listening. This is my listening face.”
John snorted at the attentive smile. “Yeah, it's creepy,” he said. “Okay, I just wanted to let you know...Sarah and I have been talking lately...”
“Yes, I would imagine so,” Sherlock said, when John didn't finish. “I believe couples do talk to each other, in between all the sex.”
“Right, well we've been talking about moving in together,” John said. “Well, we haven't just talked about it, we've decided it. We're going to live together.”
Sherlock's face went blank, as though his brain had skipped a beat. “I don't think we have room for her, here,” he said. “Practically, speaking, there isn't enough space,and—oh, you mean living together elsewhere. Not here.”
“That's what I meant, yeah,” John said.
“You're moving out,” Sherlock said.
“Not right away,” John said. “We have to find a place, and all that. But eventually, I'm going to be moving out.”
Sherlock's brain skipped another beat, and then another one, until John wasn't sure if he might not have finally found the off-switch for him. Maybe he should check the back of his neck for a reboot button.
“We're thinking about buying a house,” John carried on, in hopes of getting a response. “Getting properly loved up.” Still no response. “I'm pretty serious about her, actually. I think...okay, you're going to have to say something, it's getting weird.”
“Have I not said anything?” Sherlock said.
“No...” John said.
“Oh,” Sherlock said. “I was thinking.”
“It's usually not that hard for you,” John said.
“What about the dog?” Sherlock said, pointing to Gladstone.
“I'll take him with me,” John said. “He's mine, so, I figured he'd stay with me.”
“That makes sense,” Sherlock agreed.
John waited for more, but didn't get anything. Sherlock stared back, blinking.
“Is that okay?” John tried. “I mean, are you okay with me moving out?”
“Do you need my permission?” Sherlock said.
“No,” John said.
“Then, it doesn't particularly matter, does it?” Sherlock said.
“It does to me,” John said.
“It won't change your mind, though,” Sherlock said.
“No,” John admitted.
“Then, it doesn't matter,” Sherlock said.
John couldn't really argue with that. What was he going to do if Sherlock threw a strop? Apologize, and do it anyway. He tried to think of a reason why it should matter what Sherlock thought, so he could hopefully continue the dialogue and hash things out if necessary.
“I won't be able to share the rent,” he tried.
“I can manage quite well on my own, now,” Sherlock said. “As can you. The money from the cases is more than enough to cover the rent. I haven't needed you here for the majority of the time we've been flatmates.”
“Right,” John said. “Okay, then. So...I'll start to make plans.”
“Very well,” Sherlock said. He sat back down with his Lego.
It had gone better than John had thought it would. He wondered why he still felt bad.
John knew very little about real estate, and after about half an hour of trying to learn more, decided he could be very happy not knowing about it. Sarah was more knowledgeable, to the extent that he suspected she might have been thinking about this for longer than they had been talking about it.
They had a very short wishlist in terms of what they wanted in a home. A very short wishlist.
“So, you'd like a house,” the estate agent summed up. “Possibly with a garden of some sort, and hopefully within reasonable walking distance to 221 Baker Street, but neither of those are clinchers.”
John and Sarah looked at one another, and nodded.
“And there's nothing else you'd like, anything at all?” the estate agent said. “Number of bedrooms? Parquet floors? Stainless steel appliances?”
John and Sarah looked at one another, and shook their heads.
“All right, well, I'm fairly confident I can find you something,” the estate agent said.
It turned out, when combining their income, Sarah and John had more wiggle room in terms of rent or mortgage than they had thought. Enough that the houses they were shown were much bigger than they had imagined.
The estate agent had seven that met all the criteria, and all of them John could easily see himself living in. One more than the others, though. One had the same sensation he'd had walking into 221B the first time, as though it were already home and waiting for him to get there.
“That's it, isn't it?” Sarah asked, as they left.
“Yeah,” John said. “That's it.”
They did look at the other three on the list, but it was still it.
Sherlock didn't talk any more about what was going on, giving grunts when John talked about the houses he'd seen, or what the estate agent said, or anything to do with moving out. Molly and Lestrade both knew he was moving before he'd told them, however, which suggested that Sherlock had been voicing his opinions to them, at least.
“Do you want to see the place we've chosen?” John asked. “It's not that far a walk.”
“I assume I'll be permitted entry once you've moved in?” Sherlock said. “I'll be allowed to come over?”
“Yeah, of course,” John said. “Of course.”
“Then, I'm sure I'll see it at some point,” Sherlock said. “And it will be better decorated to your tastes, so I'll see the finished work and not the in-progress version.”
It was very hard to argue with Sherlock when he got stubbornly logical. All John wanted was a definitive reading on how he felt, and all he got was bloody logic, if he got anything at all.
“Well, we're free to move any time after the 12th,” John said.
“I probably won't remember. If it's important to know what day, you'll have to write it down for me, or remind me,” Sherlock said.
“It's...not that important,” John said. “Not to you. Just to me.”
It wasn't until John started packing that Sherlock started to show emotions, and all of them were annoyance. Suddenly, everything John was doing was wrong.
No, that was Sherlock's book. Yes, he was sure it was Sherlock's book, look at the the wear at the pages, that was clearly held by a right-handed person, so it couldn't John's. No, he hadn't just stolen it and read it, it was his.
That was a stupid way to pack a box, everything on the bottom would be crushed, put the lighter things on the top, didn't you do physics in school?
You can't leave that box there, someone will trip over it. It doesn't matter that no one walks there, someone might, and it would be in the way. No, he wasn't purposely changing the route he normally walked to make a point, don't be childish, John.
“Sherlock!” John barked, when he'd had enough. “Help me, or shut up. I swear if you sit there watching and make one more comment, I'm going to throw something at you. Possibly a bullet.”
To his surprise, Sherlock chose to help. He quietly began pulling John's books from the shelf, and placing them in a box.
“It's all off-balance, now,” he said, with a frown at the shelf. “The ones that are left are falling over.”
“Just rearrange them, they'll be fine,” John said. “Didn't you do physics in school?”
Sherlock shot him a semi-smile, and moved a few around to stop the avalanche.
“It won't be that bad, you know,” John said. “I mean, it will be different, but that's not always bad. And I'm seriously just a few minutes away. If you need me, I will be here. Always.”
Sherlock nodded, playing with a tome of poetry. “You lasted longer than I thought you would,” he said. “When I came back, I had contingency plan for you never forgiving me, and my having to be on my own. You stayed six months. Well, you stayed four and a half years, really. I didn't think you'd last past a week.”
“Me neither,” John said. “I don't know why I did.”
“Oh, good,” Sherlock said. “I've never been able to figure that out either. I assumed it was some sort of...emotional thing.”
“Well, yeah, it probably is,” John said. “Or Helsinki Syndrome.”
“That is one of my theories, yes,” Sherlock agreed, and they both chuckled. “It's not that I don't wish you well. I'm sure you and Sarah will be happy. I just...it's much easier for me when I am confident in my surroundings. I'll be—” he gestured to the bookshelf. “A bit off-balance. I'll just have to rearrange things. It's me being selfish, I imagine.”
“No,” John said. “It's you being human.”
“Oh,” Sherlock said. “Really?”
“Yeah, I'd say it's a pretty normal reaction,” John said.
“It's rubbish,” Sherlock said.
John laughed. “Yeah,” he said. “It can be, sometimes.”
Sherlock was wrapping up a case on the day John moved out. It was good in that he was distracted, and so not in the way. But also bad, as John had to leave the case in progress to do it, and so it just confirmed the theory that he would somehow no longer be available for cases.
Gladstone was very, very upset by the coming and going of John and Sarah. John kept assuring him that they would remember to pack him, and he would come with them, and it would be fine, but he was still very confused. Mrs Hudson had to take him in to her flat, and keep him company. Mrs Hudson at least was very positive about John moving out. She was a bit sad, of course, but pleased for him.
Sherlock came home mid-day, and very stubbornly stood in the middle of the room, talking about the case as John and Sarah heaved boxes around, sweating profusely. They'd cleared Sarah's flat out that morning, so now it was just John's things to lug the few streets over to their house.
“Okay, that's the last one,” John said, as he shrugged a box up into his arms.
Sherlock looked around. Baker Street looked a little sparse, now, as though it had bald patches.
“You just have to rearrange things,” John said.
“I know,” Sherlock said. He gave a smile. “I'll be fine.”
“Can you keep Gladstone for a bit longer?” John said. “I think it might be best if we're all settled before we bring him in, so he knows it's a home and not just a mess. You remember how weird he was when he moved in here.”
“That's because he was still under the impression that I was going to harm you,” Sherlock said. “He knows Sarah is a good person. But, I can keep him.”
“Thanks,” John said. “All right. Well. Not goodbye, because we're not moving out of the country, but...erm...you know.”
“Yes, I know,” Sherlock said.
John was completely out cold on the couch in their new living room. Sarah sat and stared at all the unpacked boxes. Moving was hard work. They'd been at it since seven in the morning, and it was almost ten at night now and there was still tons of work to be done. She had no idea how the two of them had managed to acquire so much stuff, especially since they'd both gone through and amalgamated and got rid of what they didn't need before they started to pack up.
Still, it was quite exciting to have one's own house, with one's own boyfriend. John always moved by huge leaps in their relationship. Three dates, and then off to New Zealand for a few weeks. One dance at Christmas party, and then getting reservations for the most exclusive restaurant in London on New Year's Eve. Deciding to live together, but not at her place. No, in a four bedroom home, with no trial first.
They didn't need a trial. John was it, for her. She wasn't sure if there was going to be marriage in the future, but for John, this was his equivalent of a proposal. This was 'I want to be with you forever'. Not romantic, just John.
Four bedrooms was a lot of bedrooms. One would be a guest room, on the ground floor. One they had chosen for a sort of den and office space for him to write. And then there was that extra one, which they somehow managed to avoid speaking about, because that was another huge leap and Sarah knew it wouldn't be taken for a while.
The doorbell rang. It was very late, but it was the first time the doorbell had rung at their new house and that was quite exciting. She trudged over to answer it, poor John not even stirring.
“Oh, hey Sherlock,” she said, surprised. “Is there a case?”
“No,” Sherlock said. “Gladstone insisted on being walked. I thought I'd test the time between Baker Street and here for future reference.”
“Oh,” Sarah said. She bent down to give Gladstone some love. He wagged his tail and licked at her face. “How long is it?”
Sherlock looked down at his watch. “Seven minutes, ten seconds,” he said.
“Not too bad,” Sarah said.
“I suppose so,” Sherlock said. He peered in, eyes moving around. He handed her a plastic bag. “I found some of John's things after you left, when I was rearranging. They were under bookcases or stuffed in drawers. I didn't know what to do with them.”
Sarah peered inside. Mostly just odds and sods of things. There was a folded piece of paper, though. She took that out and unfolded it. It was a sketch of Sherlock and John at a table somewhere, Sherlock explaining and John listening. “Oh, wow,” she said. “Who did this?”
“One of the Homeless Network,” he said. “She draws what she sees around here. It's useful for cases. I don't remember her doing that, but that's her style. John must have seen it and asked for it.”
“It's great, I'm sure he'll be happy to have it,” Sarah said. “Do you want to come in for a cuppa?”
“No,” Sherlock said. “Thank you.”
“All right, well, thanks,” Sarah said.
Sherlock nodded, but his eyes went past her to John, who stumbled into the hallway, scratching his head like a bear coming out of hibernation.
“You should ice your back, you'll feel it tomorrow,” Sherlock advised.
John blinked at him, sleepily. “'Kay,” he said. He blinked some more. “Is there a case?”
“No,” Sherlock said. “I was just out for a walk. I'm going now.”
“Wait,” John said. “I have something for you. Where did I put it? Christ, where did I put anything...”
Sarah gave Sherlock a smile while they waited for John. Gladstone nosed her leg, and she bent down to give him some more attention. Poor fellow was probably very confused. He probably thought that they were abandoning him to Sherlock's care. That was a scary prospect for anyone.
“Here we go,” John said, from the depths of the living room. He returned holding a small statue in his hands. “I saw this in a charity shop when we were looking for furniture.”
Sherlock took it, and examined it with a bemused smile. “It's a phrenology bust,” he said.
“Yeah, I know,” John said. “I thought you'd like it. It's weird.”
“Don't people usually receive housewarming presents?” Sherlock said. “Not give them.”
“Well, let's call it a flat-cooling present,” John said. “I thought you could use it as a book end. It might restore the balance a bit.”
Sherlock gave a proper smile. “I know where I'll put it,” he said. “Thank you.”
John grinned back. He bent down to give Gladstone some attention, now, and Sarah saw Sherlock admiring the bust properly. He was very happy with it. She smiled, and he stopped admiring it, and put his default uninterested look on his face.
“I hope you'll come over, when we get it all nice,” she said. “You could come for...dinner.”
“I think we both know that's unlikely, but I understand your motive,” Sherlock said. “And I appreciate your trying to make me feel welcome.” He tugged at Gladstone's lead. “Come. We're leaving.”
Gladstone gave John's face a desperate sort of lick, and trotted back to the pavement.
“We'll come and get you soon, I swear,” John said. “Good boy. You're a good boy. Thanks for coming by, Sherlock. I'll see you.”
“Ice your back,” Sherlock said. “I might need you, and you'll be useless.”
“Roger,” John said.
Sherlock waved goodbye, and Gladstone padded along, wagging his tail. John closed the door behind them.
“Is he all right?” Sarah asked.
“No,” John said. “But he will be.”
It took about five days to set properly settled in to the house, and get everything unpacked, and arranged and decorated. Sara had to return to work, but John had all the free time in the world to do things. Sarah fixed them when she got home.
She found a nice frame for the sketch of John and Sherlock, and hung it up on the wall next to John's computer table, where he planned to write up his cases.
If he ever had any again. Sherlock hadn't rung him once.
“He's not petty enough to not ring me, right?” John wondered. “I mean, is he childish enough to just cut me out of his life to make a point?”
“You could ring him and ask if there's anything,” Sarah said. “Or go over and see him.”
“I have been,” John said.
“You got Gladstone, it wasn't a social visit,” Sarah said.
“Sherlock doesn't do social visits,” John said.
“Well, if you're both waiting for the other to ring, neither of you are going to ever do anything again,” Sarah pointed out.
“I'll wait a bit longer,” John said.
“Boys are stupid,” Sarah said to Gladstone, privately. “Boys are very stupid.”
Sarah thought she might have to intervene. She thought she was going to have to grab John by the collar and drag him over to 221B and bash his and Sherlock's heads together. They were being very stubborn. Well, John was, she didn't know what Sherlock was up to.
Even after ten days, Sherlock was still incommunicado. John had only managed to engage him via comments on the blog. As one of those comments, posted on the seventh day read: 'Dear God, where all the murderers in this city? Have they gone on holiday? Is there a convention somewhere? SOMEONE KILL SOMEONE!', she was convinced it was not Sherlock being standoffish. Just a lack of interesting cases.
John and Sarah at least were doing well. Living with him was easy. An adjustment, but not a hard one. Just a few tweaks to be made, like untucking all the sheets before she got into bed, as he made it so tightly she could bounce a coin off of it. Or always standing on the right side of John when they were doing the washing up, otherwise his left elbow kept hitting her. And nice ones, too, like hearing his Motown music while he wrote, and listening to his endearingly off-key singing along with it. Or reading the newspaper with him in the morning.
Gladstone was having an harder time adjusting. He kept wandering around, peering into each room, as though he were searching for something. Sarah wondered if he was looking for Sherlock. He seemed content to have her around all the time, and was obedient, and generally happy, but John said he wasn't himself. Sarah hoped he would improve in time, and if not, maybe Sherlock would be willing to come over and visit him.
She'd be happy even with a call, at this point. A postcard. Something. Gladstone wasn't the only one missing him.
Finally, after twelve days of radio silence, Sherlock rang. At 2:26AM.
She was woken up by John throwing the covers over her face as he flung them off to get to his mobile. She pushed them down and rolled over, blinking into the darkness.
“Yeah, m'here,” John said, into the mobile. He added, to her, “It's Sherlock.”
“Figured,” Sarah said, smiling at how joyful John sounded telling her this.
“No, I can come,” John said. “Where am I going?...Okay, no, I know where that is. I'll grab my own cab, you don't have to come and get me, it'll be the opposite way. Yep, be there soon.” He ended the call. “There's a case. Sorry.”
“Don't be,” Sarah said. She yawned. “I'll just be sleeping. Stay safe.”
“I'll try,” John said.
He crawled over to kiss her, and then sprung up to get dressed. Gladstone trotted down with him, but came back up to Sarah when John was gone. He hopped up on the bed, and settled himself very well on John's pillow. Sarah gave him a few strokes.
“I think this might work,” she said to him, sleepily. “But boys are still stupid.”