Chapter Two

Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.

"I know it's weird," Anderson was saying when John walked in. The man was clearly exasperated, probably because Lestrade –standing a few feet away – was rather skeptical. "But it is what it is."

"Yeah but why would this body be stolen from the morgue?" Lestrade asked him.

"I don't know," Anderson said, tugging on his sleeves irritably. "I suggest that you ask him. With that smirk, he has to know what's going on."

"Me?" Johan asked surprised. "I'm not smirking."

"I believe he was talking about me," Mycroft's voice came from behind him. "Although I assure you that I was not smirking, either."

John turned around to see Mycroft standing there smiling pleasantly and toying with the handle of his trademark umbrella. He had never run into the man when he was raining and he had a weird urge to do so, just to see if he ever actually used that umbrella that he took everywhere or if it was secretly a weapon or something. Or both. Or maybe he had just been reading too many bad adventure books since Sherlock had left.

"Your default face could look kind of like a smirk," John told him. "And if you don't know what's going on then I will eat your hat."

"You don't even have a hat," Donovan spoke up.

"Then I will find a hat and I will eat it. But that won't be necessary since I know that he knows what's going on," John reiterated.

Mycroft's expression didn't change in the slightest which was a little creepy. "Your faith is touching, John. You aren't wrong in this instance, though." He turned towards the door. "Mrs. Hudson, Ms. Adler, please come this way."

The two women were chatting as they walked in.

John stared at Irene in disbelief.

"I'm just saying, dear, that I don't think that blackmailing the government is very nice," Mrs. Hudson was saying. "And I have to wonder if the kind of person who would do that is very nice, either."

Mrs. Hudson declaring someone was not nice was akin to Sherlock saying that someone deserved to be shot for their stupidity (not that John would ever fetch Sherlock's gun) and a normal person saying that they didn't like someone.

"Well not giving me what I want wasn't very nice either," Irene claimed.

"You're rather missing the point, Miss Adler," Mycroft told her, almost sounding annoyed but not quite.

"Okay, now we have to do with Sherlock's landlady at our crime scene?" Anderson complained. "John's not so bad even if we didn't call him but this is too much."

"Hey," John said, raising his hands but not taking his eyes off of the supposedly dead woman. "I didn't even know that this was a crime scene. I was just looking for lunch."

"And the police tape didn't clue you in that something was up?" Anderson demanded.

"Oh no, it did," John replied. "But then I was curious."

"I think I might have been kidnapped," Mrs. Hudson told them. "But Mycroft was so polite about it that it's really hard to tell."

"I don't mean to brag but that's a talent," Mycroft said modestly.

"You're probably some high-up government man but who the hell is she?" Anderson demanded, gesturing to Irene.

"Her name is Irene Adler," John explained. "She's, as Mrs. Hudson put it, not very nice. And she's also supposed to be dead."

"Right, because that explains everything," Anderson said sarcastically.

"Am I?" Irene asked, sounding surprised. "I could have sworn I somehow got into witness protection in America. That's what Sherlock told me at any rate. And you wouldn't lie to dear Sherlock, would you?"

John refused to let himself feel guilty. Since Sherlock had apparently been in contact with Irene he had been keeping secrets, too. And, unlike with John, his secrets wouldn't be designed to protect. "You're not really one to talk about lying to Sherlock, Irene."

"Yes but I'm 'not very nice', remember?" Irene said pointedly.

"How did you even get back into the country? Aren't you wanted for…pretty much everything?" John demanded.

Irene smirked and shook her head. "Oh, no. They let me go and dropped all charges in the hopes that foreign agents would brutally murder me. So very considerate of them."

"Is anybody going to get into the fact that this 'murder victim' came straight from the morgue?" Anderson demanded.

"I can," Molly said as she stepped forward.

John was rather embarrassed to realize that she had been standing there the whole time but he simply hadn't noticed her.

"I was asked to put this here so that it would simply…something," Molly trailed off lamely.

"It's like I'm dealing with crazy people," Anderson marveled.

"Now you know how I feel," Lestrade muttered.

"It's better crazy people than stupid people which is what I have to deal with all the time," Sherlock said, entering the small restaurant well. "Well, unless I'm talking to Mycroft in which case that's almost worse."

Everyone stopped moving, some even stopped breathing.

"Did you hear that?" Mycroft asked, pleased. "He said 'almost' worse. I feel like this is a breakthrough."

Well…nearly everyone.

"Sherlock!" everyone – except Mycroft – cried all at once.

"Yes, hello everyone," Sherlock said disinterestedly. "I'm done taking down Moriarty's criminal enterprise in case anyone's interested and so I decided to come back. I didn't want to have to go through this more than once – well, I didn't want to go through this at all but there was no avoiding it – and so Molly here suggested that I assemble you all and just get this over with. And what better way than to arrange a crime scene and then mention to the world at large that it would be convenient if Mrs. Hudson and Irene Adler were there at a certain time?"

"I think your stalking people thing might be getting out of hand," John said bluntly.

"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean, John," Mycroft said vaguely.

"I always knew that one day we'd be called in to look at a body and Sherlock Holmes would have put it there," Donovan said slowly. "I had expected that he would have been the killer but I still called it."

"Technically, I was the one who put it there," Molly corrected. "Sherlock just asked me to."

Donovan waved her off. "It's close enough."

"Are you, I don't know, going to get fired for this?" John asked, concerned.

Molly smiled at him. "I appreciate the concern but it's fine. My boss is remarkably understanding."

"It's true, he is," Mycroft confirmed. John wondered how much of that 'remarkable understanding' had to do with his interference. It wasn't easy finding people to put up with Sherlock, after all.

"Molly, dear, I had no idea that you were helping Sherlock with his disappearance," Mrs. Hudson told her. "That's very sweet."

Molly blushed. "Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. I had no idea that you knew that Sherlock just disappeared."

"Oh, I saw him at the cemetery one time," Mrs. Hudson explained. "I waved but he didn't wave back."

"I was choosing to believe that you had taken to waving at graves," Sherlock replied. "No one else seems very surprised, either."

"I've faked my death by jumping off a building a few times," Irene announced.

John groaned. "Of course you have."

"You could have asked me for some pointers," Irene told him.

Sherlock sneered slightly. "I did not need pointers."

"I don't know about that," Anderson told him. "I mean, I figured it out and you still think I'm an idiot."

"Now that the IQ of the room has been collectively lowered by twenty points," Sherlock said, sighing.

"You knew?" Lestrade sounded hurt. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I did note all of the inconsistencies in my report," Anderson replied. "If you'd read it, you'd know."

"I keep you around to summarize these things," Lestrade said dismissively.

"Lestrade already knew," Sherlock announced. "As did Donovan and John."

That stopped everyone cold.

"Wait, you knew?" Donovan demanded. "That doesn't even…how?"

"Why is it so hard to believe that I can know when apparently everyone else did?" John asked, annoyed. "Even Anderson knew!"

"Hey, it's bad enough I have to take abuse from someone who is legitimately far smarter than me but don't you go starting," Anderson snapped.

"It's about time he admitted that," Sherlock said, pleased. "The collective IQ of the room just rose three points."

"The room is pleased, I'm sure," Anderson muttered.

"Don't lower it again, Anderson, you're doing so well," Sherlock urged.

"You looked so sad, though, John!" Molly told him.

"You cried more than anyone else at the funeral," John countered.

"I cry at sad commercials," Molly retorted. "That doesn't really mean anything."

"So, just so I'm clear, no one here is actually surprised that Sherlock came back?" Irene asked.

"I'm a little surprised that Sherlock bothered to tell us instead of just waltzing back into everybody's life and pretending that he was never gone," Donovan offered.

"How do you know?" Anderson asked, nodding to Mycroft. "And who are you, anyway?"

"Mycroft Holmes," Mycroft introduced. "I am in the government, yes, but I merely occupy a minor position."

Minor compared to what, John didn't even want to know.

"He has family?" Anderson whispered, horrified.

"Most people do," Sherlock said dryly. "It's called biology, Anderson. I know you're terrible at what you do but you should at least know that much. I was once able to teach a dog that much." He paused. "The dog was genetically modified, though-"

"Sherlock," Mycroft said mildly. John didn't even want to know. "And I knew because Sherlock is my brother and it's a brother's job to know these things."

"And because he knows everything," John clarified.

Mycroft chuckled. "It's always so fascinating to hear what new silly theories emerge about me. Most of them are Sherlock or his influence, of course, but no one else really has a reason to notice me to that extent."

John translated that as 'If my brother weren't so fond of you I would have had you killed long ago.' And their relationship had actually improved since their first less-than ideal meeting.

"I feel like everyone's missing the obvious here," Donovan told them, shaking her head.

"Are we? Really?" Sherlock asked a bit contemptuously. "Do tell, Sergeant Donovan."

Donovan ignored his tone. "How is it that we all knew and yet none of us noticed that anybody else knew?"

"Well I knew that I was making sure not to tell anyone," John offered.

"You were doing more than that!" Lestrade exclaimed. "You were in therapy again and everything! I was really worried!"

"But not," John noted, raising his eyebrow, "worried enough to tell me that Sherlock wasn't dead."

"You already knew that," Lestrade defended himself.

"But you didn't know that I knew that so you really should have told me," John insisted. "And of course I was in therapy again. I'd look like a heartless bastard if I wasn't."

"That's real dedication, John," Mrs. Hudson complimented.

"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson," John replied graciously. "I'm glad somebody appreciates my efforts."

"You whined to your idiotic therapist for a few hours," Sherlock said, unimpressed. "It's not difficult. It's like you're vocalizing your blog or something."

John decided getting offended would be too much effort, especially since Sherlock had only been back for all of ten minutes. "Well, I was without my blog for all of this time in memory of you."

"I guess good things did come from my 'death'," Sherlock said brightly.

"If you didn't pester Mycroft for status updates then I'll eat my hat," John announced.

"You still don't have one," Molly said helpfully.

"I still don't need one," John replied. "But anyway, Lestrade, why didn't you tell me?"

Lestrade looked down and shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I figured that Sherlock had faked his death for a reason and telling people about it would only endanger whatever reason he had for doing it. And it's not like I could prove it, either."

"And so you all independently figured it out or were told or saw me," Sherlock said delightedly, rubbing his hands together. "And you felt the need to hide it from each other. Oh, it's Christmas!"

"I don't know why he keeps saying that," Mycroft confided. "He doesn't even like Christmas."

"I like Christmas just fine," Sherlock argued. "I just dislike how certain people celebrate Christmas."

John decided then and there that he did not want to know anything about how the Holmes family celebrated Christmas. Chances were Sherlock was just talking about the average person but just in case

"You were kind of a jerk not to tell anybody about you not being dead even if they did all figure it out for themselves," Molly said reprovingly.

"Indeed," Sherlock said dryly. "Let's hope it doesn't lead to another witch-hunt the next time I scare a child."

Everyone from the Yard winced.

"Sherlock…" Lestrade began haltingly.

"Save it," Sherlock told him flatly. "Apologies are boring."

"You know that this makes the last…oh, year or so a complete waste of time, right? With pretending and comforting people and whatnot?" Anderson asked, annoyed.

"I can't believe I'm going to say this but…you're completely right, Anderson," Sherlock told him. "But don't worry; it wasn't any more of a waste than your years would have been regardless."

And then it was that John remembered why everyone had been so quick to buy Moriarty's story.

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