I stopped short, blinking in bewilderment at the sight of the man sitting in one of the armchairs in front of the fire. The first thought that occurred to me as I stood there was that the man before me certainly was not Sherlock Holmes.
This man was tan, gaunt, and worn looking. He also, judging by the way he sat blinking at me, had just been awakened by my arrival.
He stood up rather slowly and somewhat stiffly, I noticed, looking more alert as awareness crept into his eyes. He offered me a polite smile as his hand went to the arm of his chair, as if to steady himself.
"May I help you?" He asked a trifle uncertainly, albeit good-naturedly for someone whose sleep had just been interrupted.
"Um," I faltered, "I am looking for Mr. Holmes. I was told this was his new address…"
"It is." The man reassured me with another smile. He seemed a pleasant fellow, from what I had witnessed so far. "However, Holmes went out this morning, and has not made it back yet."
I stifled a groan. There was no knowing when the fellow might return, then. It could be anywhere from five minutes to two days before he got back.
"Never mind." I said to the man. "I'll call back tomorrow." And hope he was actually in, I added silently. "Sorry to trouble you."
Another smile. "Not at all, my good man" He returned easily. "Can I tell Holmes you called?"
I was never given the opportunity to reply, for at that moment somewhere below us a door was suddenly flung open with great vehemence, causing a loud crash. Sherlock Holmes had returned.
The man before me turned white as a sheet and let out a cry of alarm as he jumped at the sudden noise. I was about to assure him that he had nothing more to fear than the imminent presence of the world's most annoying amateur detective (which perhaps was some cause for alarm after all), but the sitting room door suddenly opened in much the same manner as the previous had and Sherlock Holmes himself entered the room. His entrance, surprisingly enough, seemed to reassure the startled man before me, for it was accompanied by a small sigh of relief the same.
If Sherlock noticed the effect his entrance had had on the other man, he didn't care. The amateur detective barely seemed to register his presence at all, in fact, as he darted over to a table absolutely covered in chemistry apparatus, and I myself was completely ignored.
"I say, Holmes?" The man called out after a moment, his voice still a bit shaky, and nearly flinched as the former spun around rather abruptly and impatiently to face him.
"What is it, Doctor?" The detective demanded.
The doctor seemed to be recovering from his fright, for he didn't seem bothered by Sherlock's terse reply. He merely inclined his head in my direction. "You have a visitor." The doctor informed him. Sherlock turned his head sharply to look at me.
"Oh." The detective said then, stepping away from the table. "I see."
"I suppose you would like to make use of the sitting room." The doctor offered, already beginning to retreat from the room.
"If it would not be too much an inconvenience, thank you, Doctor." Sherlock replied absently, waving me to the chair this doctor had so recently abandoned.
"Not at all." The doctor replied, pausing at the door. "Good evening, Mister-" He floundered for a name as we both realized I had never given it.
"Lestrade." Sherlock cut in. "Lestrade, my new flat-mate, Doctor John Watson." I nodded as the doctor excused himself. The door shut, and a few seconds later I heard the slow, uneven tread of footsteps on the stairs.
Flat-mate. Sherlock Holmes. I wondered how long this arrangement would last.
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes does not belong to me.