A Man's Home

A/N - if you haven't read Greater Love, then some of this may not make sense to you. It is slightly AUish. In other words, I tweaked the Canon.

- gasps from horrified readers -

London. Its precisely ordered streets teeming with busy citizens. The damp, yellow fog that rolls in from the Thames with unflagging regularity. The vile alleys of the dock areas and the stately glamour of the theatres and financial districts. The old but ornate government buildings along Pall Mall. The small but pristinely kept parks and squares. The chaotic world of the railway and Underground stations.

Baker Street.

I stand in the compartment of my railway carriage, my head close to the glass, eager to catch my first glimpse of the city I so loved and had not seen in so long. We have not much farther to go, and then I shall be home.

Home. The word yet sounds strange to me. I have not had a home in nearly three years. Or should I say I have had countless homes?

No, for a man's home is the place he can look forward to returning to after he has had a long day. London, 221b Baker Street, is my home, and I have not seen it since that fateful day three years ago, when Professor Moriarty forced me to flee London in order to save the life of my dearest friend.

Watson. I smile at the mere thought of his name. How much I have missed him! I can hardly wait to see his face when I miraculously reappear before him, safe and sound. My love of the dramatic is spinning a thousand ideas through my mind about how I should reveal myself to him for the first time.

But a frown crosses my face as I realize that I have some very serious explaining to do. He will not understand why I had to remain in exile for three years, for he still knows nothing of the bargain I reached with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.

I cannot explain my long absence without dredging up that whole sordid affair, something I am loathe to do. The emotions wrapped around that case are not a part of my memory I would willingly recall after so long.

Which means, I shall have to fabricate yet another story for him. And I doubt I can do so without seriously wounding his sensitive nature.

Poor fellow, I wonder how he is holding up. I still remember the day last winter when, while in Paris on a personal matter, I saw a copy of the Times, in which was the small, concise paragraph telling the world that Mrs. Mary Watson had died in childbirth. Poor Watson! I knew then that I had to find a way to return to London soon. I so wish I could have been there when he needed someone, as he so often has for me. But to return prematurely would have been his own death-sentence.

Ha! My sobering thoughts are pushed aside for the moment as I see the buildings of London in the distance for the first time. An unaccustomed excitement fills my heart at the prospect of being back in my city once more.

Satisfied, I sit back in my seat and pull out the collection of newspaper clippings Mycroft has been forwarding to me for the last week or so. He had seen the accounts of this Ronald Adair's murder and immediately drew the correct conclusions. Only Von-Herder's air-gun could possibly have fired the shot that killed that unfortunate young man.

And only one man, we both knew, could be behind the sights of said gun.

Colonel Sebastian Moran. The late Professor's second in command. I had exchanged Moran's freedom for Watson's safety that day at the Falls three years ago. Moriarty had instructed his right-hand man that no harm was to come to Watson unless I returned to London.

I was returning, but for the purpose of putting Moran where he could harm neither Watson nor I ever again. And it had to be done carefully, so very carefully.

I had to let Moran know I was back so that he would try to eliminate me for good, but I had to somehow make sure Watson would be out of harm's way in the interim. Which meant I should have to keep him in sight every moment of the morrow, when my plans would come to a head.

I hear the warning for Victoria Station being shouted in the corridor, and I hastily begin to don my disguise. No one would be expecting to see a dead man in London, but I could take no chances, not with Watson's life as the price for any slip-up of mine.

I promptly quash the thrill and elation I am feeling at the prospect of being back in London after a three-year hiatus. My emotions can and will most definitely have to wait.

I have work to do.

Will be continued... thanks for reading!