For my beloved friend Mickey. To help her with her Sherlock grief. :)
John sighed as he stepped out of the cab. It had been a few years since he had been in London. Almost three, he realized reflecting on the fact.
His sister Harry had been letting him live with him. It had been strange living with her again. He hardly had spoken a word to her for years and all of a sudden they were living together again. She had called him up a few months after everything had happened and Sherlock had… gone. She said, if you want to get away, my house is free.
And he had taken her up on it. She was oddly understanding of everything. She never asked him about anything or made him talk. But she was there, and it was nice to be around someone who didn't talk about Sherlock all the time.
In fact, the she had only ever mentioned his name once. And he had started the conversation. It had been a few months after he had moved in…
"I just don't understand," he muttered. He stared at his blog and was astounded by a particularly nasty comment.
"Why what?" she said, not taking her eyes off of her book.
"Why people would believe, why they would…"
"You said Moriarty was a master at getting inside people's heads. I figure he knows how to get a few gullible people to buy a story."
They were silent for a few minutes after that.
"Harry, why do you believe me?"
She had looked up at him then. "Because you don't believe in bullshit. If you believe in him, I'm just going to assume you're right. Besides, you lived with the man, if anyone knew him, you did."
Their relationship had improved by leaps and bounds after that. And when he got the call from Mrs. Hudson asking him to come back and live in the flat he still paid for, he was sad to leave her. But he decided it was time for him to go back. Harry was his sister, but 221B was his home.
He looked at his old flat, same as always. Well… almost.
He limped back up to the door and raised his hand to knock on the door. The door swung open before he could even open it. He smiled as Mrs. Hudson pulled him into a hug. For such an old woman, she was rather strong.
"Oh, John, I've missed you so much." He pulled her closer. As much as his relationship with his sister had improved, it had not reached the point where either of them was alright with physical contact. It was something he hadn't realized he missed until that moment.
"I've missed you too." She laughed and pulled away. He was a little pleased and embarrassed to find that she was crying. She took him by the arm and led him up the stairs.
"Mrs. Hudson, I know it's been a while, but I do know the way—"he stopped short when they reached the ungodly tidy living room. In the chairs were Mycroft (at whom he glared), Molly, and Lestrade. They smiled at him.
"Surprise," Mycroft uttered sarcastically.
John was a little taken back by them. Here were faces of friends he hadn't seen in years. He wanted to run away and give them a hug all at once. Well, maybe not Mycroft, but the other two, yes.
"Who…?" he began.
Molly piped up, "It was my idea!"
Molly stood up and came over to him. Little Molly. She seemed different. But maybe he was different… No, no, it was her. She had more confidence now it seemed. She stood up straighter and smiled a bit brighter and looked directly into his eyes and… she wore a wedding ring.
He smiled as she nervously stood before him. "I'm sorry if this seems like too much, but we've just wanted to see you and know how you're doing." She lifted her arms out a little bit, an invitation for another hug. He accepted.
"It's fine, it's fine." She pulled away and looked him in the eyes. "No really, it is," as she saw her doubtful expression. "I'm glad to see you all."
Molly's eyes sparkled a bit and turned to go sit back down.
He stopped her by grabbing her wrist. "Who's the lucky man?" he asked, holding up her left hand to exam it.
She blushed. "Oh, it's—"
"Greg?" John finished for her. Lestrade looked a bit surprised.
"How'd you know?" He didn't seem mad, just a little bit curious.
"Lestrade, he lived with my brother, he was bound to actually learn something." Mycroft said. He seemed different too. John and he hadn't spoken since before Sherlock… Since before. He was quieter now, and he was calmer. It almost made him pity him. Almost.
John looked away from him and stared at his three friends: Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, and Molly. They were all chattering away, trying to make it seem like what they were doing was normal, talking in Baker's street without Sherlock making them all feel like the village idiots or rambling on about tobacco. But he saw that they were like him, still not quite over it. It still hurt.
About an hour after John had arrived; there was a knock at the door. Both John and Mrs. Hudson made a move to go and answer, but before they could, Molly sprang to her feet. "Don't worry you two, just sit down, I've got it!" Before either of them could protest, she was out of the room and at the stairs.
John looked at Lestrade confused. Even Mycroft looked after her, his expression strangely reminiscent of Sherlock when he was working through a problem. His brows were furrowing as he slowly neared a conclusion. John almost laughed. Mind palace, he thought.
Mrs. Hudson just smiled, "What a sweet girl, thinking of my hip. Have I ever told you I'm rather pleased you married her?"
Lestrade grinned, "Almost every day since the wedding."
There was a slight lull in the conversation, through which they heard a snatch of conversation from Molly at the door.
"—they're all going to kill you. Couldn't you have postponed this? Tell them one by one?"
A mumble was her reply. John looked over at Mycroft who had a look of incredulity on his face. "Were we expecting anyone else?" He asked Mrs. Hudson.
"Not that I can think of. Maybe it's one of the neighbors, come to welcome you back."
Mycroft shook his head. "I doubt it. You weren't close with any of them." He said this more to himself than to anyone in the room.
"But then-?" Lestrade froze mid-sentence. John looked at his face. It was a mix between rage, terror, happiness, and awe. Mycroft's was a barely concealed mix of the four. Mrs. Hudson broke the silence by bursting into tears.
John turned around to see what all the fuss was about. When he did, his eyes nearly jumped out of his head. There, towering behind little Molly, was Sherlock, dressed as a homeless man.
Mrs. Hudson jumped up and hugged him, Lestrade started yelling, Mycroft sat with a slight twitch in his eye…
And John couldn't help it. He stood up and made a move towards Sherlock. He took one step and then blacked out.