The door was unlocked, and nobody answered when he knocked, so he opened the door and walked in.
And was blown straight out again by the ear-shatteringly loud chorus of a clearly inexperienced young woman belting out a distressingly upbeat version of Adele's Someone Like You.
It was unexpected, perhaps, especially given the place of origin, but he was not a man to be swayed by a little discomfort like that, and so Detective Inspector Lestrade squared his shoulders, held his breath, and marched straight in again.
This time he was expecting The X-Factor with the volume on the telly at maximum, but it still took him a moment to grit his teeth, identify that the sound was coming from the downstairs flat, and force his way through the soundwaves to the door to try and address the tiny landlady.
It took a few moments before he got close enough for her to realise that he was standing behind her; when she finally noticed her entire body jolted in shock and her lips moved in a sound that might have been oh! Inspector! had he been able to hear it.
"Sorry, Mrs Hudson," he shouted over the television. "I didn't mean to scare you – I was just wondering if you could turn that down!"
The smaller woman shrugged and shook her head to indicate that she hadn't heard; Lestrade looked around until he caught sight of the remote on the arm of the settee. He picked it up and reached for the volume button; he thought he might have heard a quick shout of no! before he'd pressed the button and dialled the television back to a more manageable level that didn't make him want to scratch his eardrums out with his fingernails.
He turned back to Mrs Hudson. "That's better," he ventured cheerfully.
She looked downcast. "Well, you see, Inspector," she said slowly, "the boys upstairs –"
And then he heard it. "Ooh," someone with a deep, lazy baritone rumble of a voice groaned through the floorboards. "Ooh, John – that – you – oh!"
Mrs Hudson nodded perfunctorily as his fingers feverishly hit the volume button again, bringing it up until it cloaked the unmistakeable grunts and groans from upstairs. Lestrade grimaced. "Does this happen often?" he shouted. The landlady shook her head again, mouthing pardon? and waving her hands aimlessly. Lestrade frowned again.
He pulled his standard-issue notepad out of his back pocket – God knew why he still carried it around but it did come in handy every now and then – and repeated the message on that. The landlady sat down at her table to scribble a reply.
This is the first time I've ever heard them. I think it's the first time it's happened. I'll give them today as a grace period and then talk to them tomorrow if it carries on.
Lestrade's always had a sense for how much their landlady does for them, but this – The X-Factor slowly and brutally drilling holes in her brain all day just so her tenants can have loud just-got-together sex – is beyond what he had imagined. Not that he had imagined that it might be necessary, of course. It wasn't as if he had given the issue too much thought.
Mrs Hudson, you're a saint, he wrote back. She beamed. I just wanted to give them a wrap-up of the case they were on yesterday. I'll come back tomorrow.
The landlady shrugged and shook her head; they should be done soon. Stay and have a drink.
Lestrade smiled at her, his stomach twinging in pity. We could go to the café next door, he suggested. Get you out of here for a bit. She smiled kindly back at him and shrugged.
They sat there deliberating for a moment; Simon Cowell finally gave up on the unfortunate candidate and stopped the music on the telly. In the few second's relative silence in the flat, they were handed their answer in an actual scream from upstairs.
"Oh! Oh, JOOHN!"
Mrs Hudson waited a moment, her head tilted to one side as she listened for further noise. When it was not forthcoming, she reached over and switched off the television. Lestrade struggled not to laugh as he watched her. So, John and Sherlock had finally got it together. He wondered what John had said to make that happen.
The older woman sighed happily. "I am glad they finally opened their eyes," she remarked. "They did dance around each other something awful."
He chuckled. "I can't help but wonder what a regular sex life will do to Sherlock, though," he said wryly. "It could make him absolutely insufferable."
She smiled fondly at him. "Give them ten minutes to clean themselves up and then you can go and knock on their door," she said, standing up briskly as though she had just suggested care of a wound he had sustained rather than how to deal with her post-coital tenants. "Cup of tea, Inspector?"
Lestrade laughed, deliberated for a moment, and then nodded. It was worth ten minutes' wasted time just to see what a post-coital Sherlock would be like.
"Thank you, Mrs Hudson."
A/N: I can't believe it's finally over!Everyone who has reviewed, favourited, added to a collection or alerted this story has made me hugely happy and made a considerable difference to how and when this story ended. I love you all.
Being me I do have another project lined up to replace this one: it's called Fantasie and was written for the prompt, five ways Sherlock could have let John know about his feelings for him, and the one way he actually did. It's smutty, so if that's not your cup of tea I don't recommend it, but for sheer Johnlock fluffiness you should look out for it.
BUT having said that, I intend to participate in NaNoWriMo, so I'm going to be taking a hiatus for the month of November for that.
Extra big thanks must go to meredithriddle, SuspiciousFlower, Statistiques, IdrisLady, minlin, Captain Betty, Zarra Rous, Lawliet's Angel, Pilikia18, Theodora Helena Miller, saysesydo, key-conductor, forgetmenotjimmy, Rairakku1234, Hikari Kame, Sherlock'sScarf, OrangeSpiral, Artemis Fortune, Ju Lara, manuwei, freya7040, insertwittynicknamehere, , HopeCoppice, I'llbeyourPatronus (sorry, love), Mirus Infidus, power0girl, MojoFlower, theonewhodoesn'tquitefitin, lonewolfe001, Meghan1313, Parodys, emmish, Rebecca Cumberbatch, I Dont Know What Im Doing, thelightfantastique, Ertal77, Estefani1509, Johnlock-lover, and DuShuZhi for their constant and beautiful encouragement.
And thebookworm214, Mirith Griffin, Artemis Fortune and CaskettFanGirl, who all deserve extra-special love and Johnlock kisses for being super-amazing specimens of womankind. This story has been an adventure; thanks very much for sharing it with me.