John did go back to Baker Street eventually. He had no where else to go, after all. Mrs. Hudson was there for company and, if he was being honest with himself, she also took extremely good care of him. John helped her clear out all of the clutter, donating things here and there. He had entertained the thought of leaving it all where it was but decided against it quickly. A clean break was the best way to go. Leaving all the reminders around would only prolong the pain.
Mrs. Hudson asked him if he wanted someone else to move in to the flat. It was his choice, she said. John hadn't given an answer yet.
He didn't mope. He didn't get horrifically drunk every night or any other crazy coping mechanism like that. He never visited the grave after his final plea. He went about life as ordinary people do. He went to work. He went grocery shopping. He took a variety of women out on dates. He even slept over with them some nights. He never invited any over to the flat, though. If he spent the night with someone it would be at her request and her place. The truth was, he didn't really think about it at all.
Life was dull. Boring. Ordinary.
In the mornings when he did wake up at Baker Street, he'd trudge to the kitchen. He'd raise a hand to his disheveled hair, then run it down his face, unaware of the massive bags under his eyes and growing bristles on his chin. He'd make himself some tea. As he sipped at it absentmindedly, he'd read the newspaper, not really taking anything in.
One morning he didn't read the newspaper. He wasn't sure why. He was bored with it, he supposed. So instead, John stood at the window, staring at the street below. A taxi pulled to a stop and out stepped a man, his back to John. The tea cup halted centimeters from John's lips. The man was tall, skinny. He had curly black hair and a long black coat. The man stood on the sidewalk, seeming to stare at the buildings across the street from 221B as the taxi drove away.
The name slipped past John's lips in a hushed tone. It couldn't be. John turned away from the window, blinking wildly. Plenty of people in London were tall and skinny. With curly black hair. And a long black coat. It was pure coincidence, he told himself. Encouraged by this logic, he turned back to look out the window again. The man was gone. All right, then. It had just been his imagination.
John rose the tea cup up to his lips again when he heard the front door open. He stood paralyzed for one brief second before he set the tea down and tip-toed to the door to the stairs. Just as he was about to turn and open it, however, someone else opened it and strode in confidently.
"John," Sherlock said with a nod as he went straight for John's computer, which was sitting on the desk as usual. John stared blankly, his brain having shorted out momentarily. He closed his eyes tight.
All right, so he was going mad. Fantastic. He should've seen this coming. Or! Or, it could be a dream. John bit the tip of his tongue hard, letting the pain settle in before he finally admitted that it wasn't a dream. His eyes still closed, he tried to find a logical explanation to all of this. Mad. That was all he could figure. He was going mad.
He opened his eyes. Sherlock had settled down with John's computer and was perusing something on it. Slowly, slowly, John walked up to him and gave his bicep a long, hard prod. Sherlock's expression barely shifted.
"I'm real, John."
Those three words seemed to unstop the blockage in John's throat. "You're dead," he chocked out. One dark eyebrow raised high.
"Am I?" he commented mildly. "Is that your professional opinion?"
"I saw you jump," John said, his swirling, confused thoughts making him feel slightly lightheaded. "You said goodbye. I took your pulse. You-were-dead."
Sherlock didn't reply, his eyes still glued to the computer screen. John's eyes flicked to the screen. It was blank. It was just the plain, usual desktop image shining up into Sherlock's eyes.
"Sherlock!" John barked. "Are you listening to me?"
Sherlock looked up sharply, but not to John. Instead he stared around the flat, lips pursing into a frown. "Where are all my things?"
John let his hand fly lose, smacking Sherlock across the face with a resounding smack! "You! Were! Dead!" he bellowed. Sherlock turned his attention back to the computer, blinking against the slap.
"You're not immortal, you know!"
Another slap hit Sherlock soundly on the cheek.
"You're flesh and blood, just like the rest of us!"
"You can die!" John slammed the computer shut, yanking it from Sherlock's grasp, and gave Sherlock a good whap on the head with it. Finally, Sherlock reacted, shrinking from the blow and raising an arm in defense.
"You bleed, just like everyone else!" John cried, raising the laptop to hit him again. "I should know, I saw how much blood was pouring out of your head!" He delivered another blow and Sherlock rolled out of the chair, trying to get away. John went after him, hitting him again and again. "No pulse! Skin still warm! Eyes open, lifeless, blood in them, blood in your hair, blood on the sidewalk, blood everywhere!"
"How dare you just expect to just waltz in here like nothing ever happened, like it's normal for people to go around jumping off buildings and making their friends believe they're dead!"
Sherlock ducked and twisted, grabbing the computer and tossing it across the room before taking John by the arms forcefully. "John, stop it!"
John froze at the anger in Sherlock's voice, locked in the gaze of eerily pale eyes. Sherlock waited for a moment as John's breathing went back down to a normal pace.
"Are you all right?" he asked finally. John didn't answer, pulling out of Sherlock's grasp and looking around to avoid those pale eyes.
"So," he said heavily. "Are you going to tell me how you pulled off not being dead?"
Sherlock was watching him carefully, stoically. "I'm waiting for you to believe that I'm alive."
John looked up. Sherlock was standing there. Eyebrows raised. Expectant. Patient. Concerned.
Without a word, John walked away to his room. He stepped out of his bathrobe and pulled on some jeans and a sweater. He walked to the bathroom and took a good long look at himself in the mirror, noticing how ragged he looked for the first time. Slowly, he slathered on shaving cream and took his razor fastidiously to the offending bristles. Once he was almost done, Sherlock's figure appeared in the mirror. John stopped mid-stroke and stared at Sherlock through the mirror. A familiar half-smile formed on Sherlock's thin lips, a sparkle in those pale eyes. John turned, face quizzical.
Sherlock shook his head dismissively, the smile only growing. "Ready?"
John frowned. "For what?"
Sherlock nodded at him. "Finish shaving. I'm going to show you how I'm still alive."
The excitement on Sherlock's face was contagious. John couldn't help but grin back. Quickly, not paying much attention, he finished shaving and rather gleefully followed Sherlock back out down the stairs and out to the street.
"Taxi!" Sherlock called, waving a hand out. Something bubbled up inside John's chest. Things were back to normal. He and Sherlock were off on some high-spirited adventure. Life was not longer ordinary.
It was extraordinary.
A/N: Hello Sherlockians! I'm moving in. :) Veteran fanfic writer, just new to the fandom. Hope to stick around for a bit.
I love reviewers and live for constructive criticism!