The next morning John expected to wake up the same way that he always did when he had these dreams of Sherlock visiting him during the night. Alone, the bedsit the sort of quiet that you feel as well as hear, that told you were in fact completely and utterly alone.
But, instead he was woken a bit earlier than usual. He'd slept through the night, despite having gone to bed far sooner than normal, but he knew still knew it was the early hours of the morning. That wasn't quite so important, however, as what had caused him to wake so early.
It had nothing to do with going to bed sooner than usual last night and everything to do with movement on the bed. Movement he had not created, which originated from behind him.
His heart skipped a beat. He had always gone back and forth between thinking these visits were real and imaginary, a murderer or a fake Sherlock conjured by his sleeping mind. But, this was the first time he'd woken up to the sound and the feel of someone getting out of bed.
Woken up. He was sure that at this point he was no longer sleeping. Still, he kept his body pliant as if with sleep and his eyes shut, attempted to keep his breathing as even and relaxed as possible so as not to alert the mystery man to the fact that he was now awake.
The man, whoever he was, made a much quieter exit than he ever did entry. John could hardly hear him leave the room but he stayed completely still until he heard the door to the bedsit open and close, just to be absolutely certain he didn't open his eyes prematurely, that the man was still in the room with him.
Upon hearing the door, he sat up immediately and looked at the windows before the time. It was definitely early, very early, pre-dawn by about half an hour or so.
There was no time to sit and wonder, though. Getting up, he rushed to the window rather than just sit and stare at it, looking out and gasping at what he saw. He could hardly believe it but there he was. The very man he'd thought was dead for so long, the man he was still in the process of grieving, even now.
He was walking away from the building, adjusting his greatcoat a bit, and John could admittedly only see the back of him but he knew that man, would know him anywhere. That was Sherlock. That was his coat, his floppy hair, even his purposeful, brisk and graceful stride.
And the man was solid, this was no figment of his imagination. John knew he wanted it badly enough that he might invent this sort of thing, had even pinched himself to be sure, but the image never changed. It was the sort of solid, realness that you just knew wasn't fake.
"It really is you..." John murmured to himself, tears of relief, anger and confusion slipping down his cheeks. He didn't know why Sherlock wanted him to think he was dead, why he needed everyone else to think he was. And part of him was angry for not confiding in John that it was all a ruse, rather than let him grieve and think he was going insane.
But he was alive...and in the end that was all that really mattered, wasn't it? There would be time enough for explanations later.