Dreaming's notes: Oh, thank you all so incredibly much for all your support! I'm a little jealous I can't reply to all your reviews like Anna can, but I am so happy to go to her page each day and see which new one you guys have added. You are all fantastically supportive for our wild little idea, and that means more to me than you know. #heart# —Anyway, thank you again, and I hope you enjoy our final chapter! This has been so fun for me, and I hope you all get the benefit of another collab story between myself and Anna again sometimes soon! Tootles. ;D
Aerorolo's notes: My feelings for this fic, is the same as Ari's XD I'm very very thrilled to see and read the response for this fic! It makes me so happy. I've enjoyed writing this very much and I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as we did :'D I'm so grateful to have Ari write this with me and hopefully, there'll be another collab story C: Just thank you so much for the interest and support! Let me love you all downnnn~ Thank you for reading! xxx
Chapter 9: Epilogue
"So that was how you did it, then? Very clever, Sherlock!" Mrs. Hudson congratulates him with a pat on the back. "I would have never suspected!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock smiles. He peers over at John and awaits the doctor's own response. He sips at his tea and pretends, however, that he isn't half as eager as he is to know.
John exhales slowly and huffs a sort of dry laugh. "Having Molly store a pint or so of your blood, using a body double like Irene Adler, and using a cable from your waist while you fell, something you secured after Moriarty shot himself," John summarizes in awe. He shakes his head. "And then your pulse? You disguised it with that stupid rubber ball I saw you playing with in the lab?"
"Correct, John," Sherlock says. He normally hates it when people recap what he just explained to them, but with John, he lets it slide, because he knows it's a manner of acceptance. Also, he admittedly likes hearing the man's voice (he visited the hospital many times during the night while John was asleep and the defenses of the place were at their most vulnerable; it ached to see his dear friend in that state, but he had to keep his eye on him, and now, he's just eternally grateful to be able to hear John's voice again).
"You're a real prat, Sherlock," John huffs with another weak laugh. "Putting me through all that."
"I told you to keep your eyes fixed on me," Sherlock murmurs in his defense. He takes another slurp of tea. "If you had, you would have noticed how carefully I fell, and how I had landed. And it only took the right people in advance to be there at the bottom to spread the blood over me. Some lads from the hospital, in fact; that's why I was found so quickly, even being outside of St. Bart's itself. And those women holding you back from me; I told them to. If you believed my death the most, then Moriarty's men would follow suit. It was horrible deceit, I know, and for that, I'm sorry. But it was necessary."
"When I think on it," John says softly, "What really bothers me is the fact that so many people were willing to help a man fake his own death. How can their conscious be clear, knowing that?"
"Yours wouldn't be, of course; you knew me. But these people didn't have an inkling as to who I was. They didn't care about a Sherlock Holmes, and some of them were my homeless allies, people who did anything for money. And what would it matter, anyhow, if their conscious told them to confess to the police about helping a man fake his death? No one would believe them," Sherlock explains. He sighs and rubs his forehead. "It's rotten business, I know. But it needed to be done. I wouldn't… I couldn't stand to let Moriarty or his men murder you, John. You or any of the other few, select people I care about."
"Alright, fine," John sighs. "But I'm only forgiving you for this because I know you won't try it again."
"And if, for whatever reason, I need to do this again, you'll be the first to know, and the main person to get me out of suspicion," Sherlock swears.
"Damn right," John says firmly, but he's smiling again soon. "Mrs. Hudson, would you mind getting more tea?"
"Anything for you boys," the older woman agrees kindly. She takes the teapot and brings it into the kitchen, putting more water on the boil in the kettle.
"If it's any consolation," Sherlock murmurs as he glances down at his empty cup, and John returns his attention to him. "I did often visit you in the hospital, during your coma. I disguised myself, of course; I wore a ginger wig, and wire-rimmed glasses, and a more unique style of clothing. And when asked, I went under the alias 'Benedict Cumberbatch' – something obviously fabricated, but just unusual enough to be convincing, and of course, it was convincing because Mycroft made me the ID – and I spoke to you often. That's what people do, isn't it? Speak to coma patients to help wake them?"
"Yes, that's what people do," John whispers, staring stupidly at the other. He feels touched and amazed and a bit… a bit like a fool, because Sherlock Holmes is one for disguise, and he is such a wonder. And – and something about all of that is incredibly vaguely familiar, and somehow, John is reminded again of a promise and all of his coma-induced dreaming. He smiles. "Thanks for that, Sherlock."
Sherlock would blush were he the type; he waves it off and glances away. He clears his throat when Mrs. Hudson soon returns with their fresh tea, and he holds out his cup to the little teapot.
And so the three residents of 221 Baker street enjoy a quiet evening together, catching up and enjoying each other's presences after all of the pain, grief, deceit, and illness.
Somewhere in Mrs. Hudson's room, a clock chimes, and idly, John thinks how wonderful it is that clocks forever move clockwise, in one direction, much like the flow of life.
"Oh, I love black widows!" Sherlock cheers as Lestrade texts him about the current puzzle in the police about a chain of men linked to a single woman who keep dying by accidental deaths. "They're a lot like serial killers, but they're a lot more foolish because they think they're safe in their years between kills, and they think all their saved money from collected life insurances will protect them, but how wrong they are! Come along, John, we need to inspect the most recent body and see if we can't track down this woman. She's the sort who changed identity between marriages, too, which is loads of fun!"
He's putting on his coat, scarf, and gloves while he speaks, and outside, snow covers the streets and buildings and rushes through the air from the wind. Part of John is extremely hesitant in going outdoors into the brisk chill of a London winter day, but he knows he has no choice. There's no stopping Sherlock once he's fired up and all triggered like this.
"Just don't be too obvious this time when we go to the crime scene, got me? I think Anderson's beginning to think you're back, and no one but Lestrade on the police force is supposed to know you've been back and alive for three months," John reminds. He shimmies into his own jacket and zips it up.
Sherlock pecks John on the mouth and heads for the door, opening it wide. "Mm, no, Anderson's too stupid to figure it out. Sally might, though, and that's why I will be careful. Can't have word getting out yet! I'm still too freshly in the media. Need to wait a couple more years, I think, before they won't associate me with the former Sherlock Holmes. It'll work itself out as long as I don't wear that godforsaken deerstalker, which is the only good thing to become of this, since I despised that hat." He turns, then, to look John in the eye. "You're going to be cold."
"I'll survive," John retorts, shrugging it off by putting his hands into his pockets. "We should get going."
"I'm buying you a scarf and matching gloves for Christmas. Maybe even mittens," Sherlock notes aloud, and John starts shoving Sherlock out the door.
"Let's see to that dead man first," John replies. He's smiling affectionately, however. He stops pushing on Sherlock's back long enough to stand on his toes and beck the man on the ear. "But I am not going to wear mittens if you buy them."
"What if I make them myself instead? Would you wear them then?" Sherlock argues as they make their way down the stairs, John pausing to lock up their flat. They don't use the second bedroom upstairs any longer; John stays in Sherlock's with him.
"You can't knit!" John contradicts, and Sherlock grins.
"I can learn. Shouldn't be too difficult to figure out. So, would you?"
"No, not even then," John answers.
"What if I bought you a scarf to match mine?" Sherlock eggs on, fully enjoying wasting their time before they reach the crime scene. They open the front door and feel the bracing wind on their faces, a few snowflakes clinging to their hair and eyelashes.
"Then I would feel insulted, like you were treating me like your little housewife, and then I would be confused why you would be so domestic as that," John chuckles, and Sherlock grins in reply.
"Well, it's a good thing I don't plan on doing any of that, then. Buy your own damn scarf and gloves if you get cold. That's what any smart person would do." And with that, John shoves him and climbs into the cab they called before Sherlock can protest, and soon the doctor and the consulting detective are riding on their way to one of their favorite places to be: a crime scene.