“Absolutely not. Turn around and leave.”
Mycroft remains standing in the doorway, despite Sherlock’s demands. John is sitting on the sofa, looking rumpled and sleepy in his robe, eating toast, drinking tea. John in the morning. Two years since John in the morning.
But this is John being offered a search and recover mission. Is John even qualified?
Sherlock had never bothered researching John’s military career, confident in his ability to read what was necessary, what mattered. He’d never asked either, in the same careful way John so obviously avoided volunteering that information.
Now he regrets it, regrets not knowing more about the worlds inside John, his past, his exploits, and how those systems function as a whole.
And here Mycroft is, knowing more, as usual, because he pries and watches and hoards these secrets Sherlock doesn’t care about until it’s too late. Here Mycroft is offering John a mission he has no right to.
Kurgistan. Ethnic cleansing. Chemical fire raining down. Phosphorus. Mustard. Cyclosarin, and whatever else the local dictator had stockpiled since the last war. And someone has to go in, locate the disabled field agent, treat his wounds and exposure, then escort him through the seven circles of hell to safety and extraction.
John wrapped up in semtex, ready to sacrifice. John steadying his aim, taking the shot. John adapting to the crisis du jour.
John would be perfect.
“He doesn’t wan- he won’t.” Sherlock’s throat works for a moment. “He’s not taking it.”
John clears his throat, and Sherlock freezes. John’s eyes have grown tighter and harsher with every word Sherlock has uttered.
“Excuse me,” John says, edge in his words, “but I believe they were addressing me.”
And Sherlock wonders for a moment if his two year absence has rendered him more susceptible to John’s voice somehow, because he has to work hard and fast to keep from flinching or gasping or reacting to that quiet sentence.
Mycroft always notices. He smirks.
John’s eyes blaze, and a flashbang may as well have gone off at 221B. “That’s not a yes.” Even Mycroft takes a step back, and Sherlock realizes it’s not just him. Something has changed in John in these last two years. Something has hardened, has cleaved to a perfect edge.
“I’ll have the file, though,” John adds quietly, and Sherlock thinks that it’s almost worth this nonsense of John being considered for a mission to see the look of uncertainty on Mycroft’s face. “When you’re ready, of course.”
Mycroft hesitates and Sherlock doses him with a perfect copy of his previous smirk. Mycroft’s face hardens and he hands over the dossier. John takes it.
“You’ll have my answer in six hours.” His voice is calm, level, betrays no trace of his inner workings. “You may see yourselves out.”
Sherlock actually has to remind himself to pick his jaw up from the floor as Mycroft turns and his two suited companions follow him out, dismissed like children, dismissed and accepting it.
Sherlock stares at John, and realizes how little he knew about John when he decided he knew him well enough. There is an uneasy feeling of motion and dizziness building in his head.
“You can’t actually,” he began, but John cuts him off by standing, file in hand.
“You know, the more you tell me what I can and can’t, the more I wonder why you came back at all.”
It’s two years ago, and Sherlock is breathless, heartstill, on his back. He is looking up and up and up, and John is looking down –
Sherlock blinks, wondering suddenly why he’s standing and why John is here looking at him that way-
John covers what his face is shouting by turning and taking the file upstairs.
Sherlock clenches a hand. This is not over. Whatever this is.