The voice comes, rough and uncertain, from somewhere down the hall; Sherlock looks up from the microscope instantly and cranes his neck to see John standing just out of the reach of the light, still in shadow. He’d gone to bed nearly two–no, three–hours ago and should be fast asleep, not standing tentatively just where Sherlock can’t see his face. Nightmare, probably.
“John?” he answers, sliding off the stool and coming around the table. John takes a step back and Sherlock stops, steadying himself with one hand on the worktop. “You okay?”
John hesitates, his left hand clenching and unclenching ever so slowly by his side. The collar of his t-shirt is misshapen where it’s been pulled away from his neck. When he speaks, his voice is deliberate. “Are you coming to bed?”
“Yeah,” Sherlock nods, and then, because John is trying to hide behind some semblance of normality and Sherlock doesn’t want to crowd him just yet, he adds, “Yeah, just let me finish up here, I won’t be long. Another five minutes.”
There’s another long pause but eventually John says, “Yeah, okay.” He doesn’t turn around, though. He doesn’t go back to bed. He lingers in the hall and watches Sherlock take one more look through the microscope lens and make a notation–it says experiment abandoned (J)–and then do a cursory tidy-up before locking up the doors and turning off the lights.
Finally Sherlock switches off the last light in the flat, leaving everything cloaked and shadowed, and then John is in his arms, coming forward in the safety of the darkness to push his face into Sherlock’s neck and wrap himself around him. His cheek against Sherlock’s skin is damp and overwarm. There’d been tears, then.
“All right?” Sherlock asks quietly. He rubs John’s back, firm but gentle, reminding him of the boundaries of his body, revealing the edges of reality under the blurry film of dreaming.
John shakes his head. “No,” he says, hoarse with honesty, settling himself along the lines of Sherlock’s body, giving over his tension, giving in to his exhaustion in the shelter of Sherlock’s arms. He gives the tiniest sigh of relief. “But I will be. I will be.”
“I’ll be here,” Sherlock promises, and he cradles the back of John’s head and closes his eyes. He’ll stand here until John’s feet get cold and then take him to bed, and he’ll hold him there until he falls asleep, and in the morning they might not yet be all right, but they will be. They’re working toward it. They’re trying, together, and that’s enough.
It’s not an answer, and it’s not a solution, but it’s enough. It’s hope, and for tonight, it’s enough.