Authors Note: This piece is based on a prompt, given to me by tumblr user vampygams. The prompt was that "Sherlock sneaks into John's apartment and waiting for him to wake up in the morning." I went a little bit off with this, I realize, but I'm pretty pleased with the final product. Here's hoping she is too!
London was cold. He'd almost forgotten its chill in the winter, having been away for so long. Snow was beginning to fall, hitting the ground quite delicately before melting away into its own abysmal puddle. The streets were quiet. Snow always seemed to have that power, no matter which country he may have landed himself in. It was always intriguing to see how similar everywhere was.
He turned up the collar of his coat, a quirk he'd passed along from coat to coat, against the chill and settled the hat he wore over his eyes. He checked his phone once again, eyeing the well-informed source's text. There the address sat, glaring with bright white light into his face. He looked up at the building, sucking in a cool breath.
He counted the windows. Flat numbers in buildings such as those were based on floor number. His flat number was 2B. Ironic, he thought to himself as his eyes flickered over the windows, that he would find a flat that bore similar numbers. Up two, that would be his flat. Over two, possibly his room. He settled his eyes on the window. The light was turned out.
He crossed the street quickly, making for the door of the complex. Simple key-entry door. He shook his head, surveying the perimeter quickly before procuring his entrance into the building. John should have known better than to be so easily accessible.
Sherlock stripped the hat from his head, ruffling the short crop of dark semi-curls that he'd taken to having (maintenance of personal aesthetics were time consuming. Hacking off his hair allowed him less personal grooming. It also made him less recognizable to those who may be questioning his death, though who would be, he wasn't certain.) His eyes darted around the poorly lit hallway, stopping on the illuminated sign hanging at the very end—a graphical photo of a staircase.
He took the steps two at a time, cautiously opening the door just wide enough for him to slip through. He didn't let it slam close—he held the knob, pulling just lightly enough to keep the door from echoing shut.
The hallway was dark. Only two flats sat on the second level. The doors were adjacent to each other, staring one another in the face. Sherlock stepped between them. His eyes squinted against the darkness as he read the door to his right: "2A"."Therefore…" he reasoned as he turned his head to the left. There, on a dark front door, were the metal hangings that read "2B".
His mouth twitched into a faint half-smile.
It was too easy to slip into John's flat. He hadn't even struggled—it was almost insulting how little John seemed to care of his personal protection. Sherlock shut the door quietly behind him and peered into the dark room. Living room. One couch, one coffee table, one small television set. No pictures on the walls. Boxes still stacked against the wall. Possibly a recent move, more likely that John hadn't found the motivation to shift anything. Sherlock squinted in the darkness at the top of the closest box. Dust. Motivation-less. Sherlock couldn't help the soundless chuckle that came from his chest. Still a bachelor, perhaps.
He stepped into the flat slowly, his eyes scaling each and every aspect of the layout. He continued onward, surveying the kitchen (small, rarely used. Clean stove, dirty microwave, unmarked plastic bags—regular take-out. Full time work then, odd hours. Must have taken up at the hospital.) and restroom (tiny, tidy. One toothbrush. Bachelor looks more and more plausible.) before coming upon a closed door. "Bedroom." Sherlock murmured to himself. He took a single deep breath before gently grabbing hold of the doorknob. He held his breath as he slowly began to turn it, his stomach tensing with each (seemingly) loud click. He exhaled quietly, pushing the door delicately.
One bed, size: double. Standard dresser, four drawers. A single desk, his laptop closed atop it, a lamp beside it. Nightstand, alarm clock. Another small lamp. No pictures. John in bed, sleeping. Sherlock walked on light feet, attempting to make no noise against the wooden floor. He slid the desk drawers open. Phonebook, address book, miscellaneous paperwork. Newspapers. Pens. Ordinary. He skipped the dresser drawers—nothing interesting about socks and shirts.
John made no motion as Sherlock stepped up to the side table. A couple of untouched books lay on the shelf beneath the drawer. The alarm clock glowed with the current time: 3:37 A.M. He carefully slid the small drawer open.Newspaper clippings. He squinted suspiciously at them, leaning forward. 'Fake Genius Dead' the yellowing paper's headline read. He could see the picture—that god awful hat picture—staring at him from the page. He looked over to John. He still hadn't moved.
Sherlock quietly pulled the desks chair out, taking a seat. He brought his hands up, steepling his fingers at his lips. John's gun was missing—it had been that which he'd been searching for. Certainly, upon waking and finding a strange man sitting in his room, John's first reaction would be to pull his gun. Three possibilities of its location popped into Sherlock's mind:
1. The dresser. Perhaps John had become accustom to keeping it hidden beneath his socks, knowing very few people would want to peruse through a man's undergarments.
2. Beneath his bed. Veritably closer. He wouldn't keep it in the nightstand, as it would be easy for a would-be assailant to locate it. He dips below the bed, pulls a gun, and the assailant is never the wiser.
3. Beneath his pillow. Virtually undetectable to an assailant. Easiest reach. Slips hand beneath pillow, assailant is dropped to his knees.
Sherlock was betting on the third.
He'd have to speak quickly then. The moment John was roused from sleep, he'd have to begin. Where did he start? The memory of the fall was weighty. He watched John and remembered the small figurine on the street, reaching his hand up. His plan was dangerous and precise, and could not involve John Watson.
That had hurt him more than he had thought it would. Even the thought then, a few years later, stung him delicately.
What to say? Sherlock, for once, blanched. He could, in theory, simply tell the truth. Explain Moriarty's plan, explain his plan. But John would be wielding a gun. He'd have to think of something quicker, something that would cause him to lower his weapon. Sherlock's brain buzzed with memories, of Cluedo and Bond night, of case notes and blog comments, of texts. Picking a single detail to prove his identity was much more tedious than Sherlock had reasoned with.
John still hadn't moved.
Sherlock quieted his brain for a moment. He focused his attention into listening. The streets were still quiet. A clock ticked somewhere in the flat—his guess was in the living room. The whirring of the refrigerator could be heard quietly. John was breathing. Sherlock paused for a moment, focusing on John's breathing. It was quicker, sharper. He could hear him inhaling deeply through his nose. Sherlock's eyes flicked to John's body. It was heaving harder, only slightly, but noticeably.
John was awake.
Sherlock held his panic in check. He kept his fingertips to his lips and watched. He knew he'd have to say something. Any moment, John would realize he'd been noticed. John would soon be brandishing his gun from beneath his pillow, and it would be aimed at Sherlock's face. Sherlock's mind flickered over every possibility once again, checked every crevice and re-searched every crack in John's new apartment. Something, anything. John's hand was moving, Sherlock watched it, sliding beneath his pillow. Say something, Sherlock. Quickly.
"You're out of milk. Awfully hard to make a cup of tea in the morning without it, wouldn't you agree?" He told John.
John sat up quickly, gun in hand. He looked hard, tensed, slightly frightened. His arm and body were stiff. His jaw was clenched. The barrel of the gun was directed at Sherlock's head. "Who the hell are you?" John demanded. His chest was heaving.
Sherlock's heart thumped against his ribs. "Please lower your gun, John." he said evenly.
"Wha-? Why the hell would I drop my gun when there is a stranger sitting in my bedroom?" John spat.
"I'm no stranger." Sherlock replied.
He could see John's face contort in disbelief. He cocked his gun and held it in the same position. "You tell me who you are, or I put a bullet in your head." John snarled. Sherlock let his eyes focus on John's. They stared at one another, the silence overwhelming and heavy. "You know, John." Sherlock said finally.
"If I knew, I wouldn't be asking." John replied haughtily. "You don't seem to grasp the situation here. This is a loaded gun. If you don't give me your name within the next five seconds, I will pull the trigger." he went on. "Please don't insist I won't."
"Turn on your lamp, John."
"Give me your name."
"Do as I ask."
They were silent once again. The ticking of the clock seemed loud and intrusive. Sherlock's heart was still thumping wildly in his chest. He was scared. He was terrified that John would pull the trigger. Even if John turned the light on, was able to look at Sherlock's face properly, the probability that John could pull the trigger was still high.
He watched John's hand move slowly toward the lamp.
The light illuminated the room just enough.
John's eyes widened. He didn't put the gun down. His jaw clenched tighter. Sherlock noticed, however, that John's hand was beginning to shake. The gun, still poised at Sherlock's head, was beginning to quiver. His chest was heaving harder than it had been before. Suddenly, he began to shake his head. "No."
"John." Sherlock said.
"No." John repeated. His voice cracked, his breathing quivered, and his gun was held at the exact same place. "No, you… You're dead." he said. Sherlock could see the tears beginning to spring in his eyes. He blinked rapidly, attempting to clear them. Sherlock swallowed. "Please put the gun down, John." he said quietly.
His stiff arm, the one that shook with emotion, began to lower itself. Sherlock let the breath that had caught in his chest flow silently from his lips. "You're dead." John repeated, voice cracking more. "I watched… I saw you… I took your pulse." John insisted. "I saw the blood."
Sherlock swallowed as he stood. Cautiously, he made his way toward John's bed. Their eyes locked on one another as Sherlock took a seat at the foot and took John's gun. "I was in… I still am going through therapy. Over… over you." John went on.
"I'm sorry, John." Sherlock reached his hand out carefully and gently touched John's hand. He could see the cogs in John's brain working overtime, attempting to take the whole of what he was seeing in. John's body had physically recoiled at Sherlock's touch, but he soon relaxed. "Do you understand… what that feels like?" John's voice had grown quiet. His eyes were watering, and both men knew that any moment, tears would begin to fall. John pinched the bridge of his nose, shutting his eyes. "Do you know what it's like to watch your best friend … the person you lo-" John stopped, choking on his words.
Sherlock gripped John's hand. He could think of nothing more to do. He'd had plans of what to say. He had rehearsed variations of what he'd meant to say—four of them to be precise. None of them seemed to fit the state John was in. So he didn't begin any of them.
John's free hand moved delicately. It made its way to Sherlock's jaw, where it rested quite peacefully. He stroked his thumb over the stubble Sherlock had acquired and swallowed. "You're real." he stated.
"I'm having the worst bout of inner turmoil right now." John said, smiling a strange smile. "I don't know whether to hit you or…" he trailed off.
"Or…" Sherlock said.
John gave a small, half-hearted chuckle. "Or kiss you." His eyes were still watering.
Sherlock, for once, had no reply.