…It’s okay, John.
Sherlock woke with a start, heart rate pounding at what felt like two hundred beats a minute. Disoriented he frowned at his surroundings, right hand already groping for the knife buried beneath the layers of flannel and wool that persistently failed at warding off the fierce grip of the Serbian winter. His fingertips met a thin layer of soft brushed cotton with nothing but skin beneath. Warm skin, kept at an even temperature by the snug grasp of the eiderdown duvet atop his body.
Tentative rays of light sneaking around the curtains revealed the chart of the periodic table hanging to his right, the sound system, rippled over the silk of his blue dressing gown that was hanging from its hook on the door. So he truly was back at Baker Street then… roused from a nightmare by Mrs Hudson’s – Sherlock listened a little more closely – blatantly obvious attempt at consoling and pacifying John while boosting Sherlock’s morale.
Clever woman, to remember from the weeks they’d spent in Florida that the mere raise of a voice stirred him from sleep as effectively as a poke in the ribs. Useful remnant from the nights and days he’d spent kipping at doss houses.
Sherlock’s left eye socket throbbed. No doubt a glaring shiner had developed overnight, a vicious reminder that virtually popping out of a cake in front of a still grieving John Watson may not have been one of Sherlock’s best schemes. True, Mycroft had warned him but when had he ever listened to the pompous git?
A shiver ran down Sherlock’s spine as scenes from the nightmare unrolled in his mind’s eye again. He snorted. John’s idea of welcoming a flatmate who’d spent two years rooting up and unravelling every thread and Gordian knot of Moriarty’s network and keeping his friends safe hadn’t exactly worked out to plan but it was still infinitely preferable to the visions Sherlock’s tired brain had conjured. It was hard to decide which had been the worst. One scenario had the two of them locked with Mycroft in an island fortress straight out of one of those third-rate action movies John favoured. There they had to fight their way like brainless morons through an increasingly weird sadistic universe ruled by a lunatic compared to whom Moriarty was a model citizen who collected for both the Save the Children Fund and the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, volunteered at the nearest National Trust shop and served tea at the local nursing home two times a week.
Still, that was perhaps infinitely preferable to the one where Sherlock had returned to find John engaged to a free-lance assassin who declared she’d been working for Mycroft all along and promptly went and shot him. Ludicrous. John’s most adventurous date – ever – had been the vet who ran the Panthera breeding programme at the London Zoo.
“I understand, dear. But surely he told you why it had to be a secret. I’m glad now I didn’t know he was alive for I ‘d have been worrying my poor old head twenty-four seven. Only imagine what poor Molly had to live with. We had it easy, John, you and I.”
Good woman. More of a mother to him than Mummy had ever been. Lord. He snorted again but this time in genuine amusement as he pictured his mother’s haughty displeasure at the discovery of her representation in her wayward youngest’ mind. The proud chatelaine elbow-deep in potato peelings and nattering about lottery tickets with fake pearl ear clips dangling from her lobes. Oh, she would have been furious, if she hadn’t been dead these past ten years and he really hadn’t quite determined yet whether that was a sorrow or a relief.
Best not think about that now.
“…Course I’m happy.”
John still sounded disgruntled but at least he’d admitted he was glad Sherlock wasn’t dead after all. Now would probably be a good moment to sidle out of his room and into the kitchen. With Mrs Hudson there the likelihood of John closing his other eye for him seemed pretty negligible. He’d cajole Mrs Hudson into serving them one of her patented Full English to celebrate, maybe suggest they invite Lestrade and Molly for a little homecoming party.
He was back home again, back for business. Surely, for John, that was the only thing that mattered.