John's sixth sense was nagging at him again. He sat and stared at his office door. Every time he had felt his senses stirring, it usually meant that something drastic was about to happen. Lestrade had once humorously referred to it as a 'hyper-militarized Spidey Sense'.
The first time he had ever felt it since meeting Sherlock was when an unoccupied payphone started ringing as he passed by.
The last time was when he rushed to Baker Street with the news that Mrs. Hudson had been shot but realized that it was a lie.
He never really liked when his sixth sense started trying to tell him something that his other five couldn't figure out on their collective own.
But nothing happened during the next five minutes and patients were not going to diagnose and cure themselves so John shook his head and continued working.
Lestrade woke up with an itch at the base of his skull. He did not like it. Well... not like many people relished the feel of a particularly tenacious itch on their neck.
There were only a few circumstances in which Lestrade felt this itch; when he was being watched, when he felt threatened, ...or when there was a massive disturbance in the Force.
Darren, who had been running around in his little snow boots, eager for snow this Winter, tugged on his pinky finger tentatively with his mittened hands and cocked his dirt-blonde head to the side in an inquisitive way. "Are you okay, Uncle Gweg?" he asked, eyes wide.
Lestrade ruffled his young nephew's hair. "It's alright, Darren." Then, he bent down and scooped the three-year-old into his arms. "Now, where's your Mum, hey? Let's go find her, shall we?"
Mycroft's fingers tapped rapidly on his mahogany desk, eyes sharp, lips pressed together into a thin line. He held his phone in his unoccupied hand and stared at the little line of text he had recieved five minutes ago.
Back in London. Be alert, Brother. -SH
He frowned a little and pulled on a thick coat as he made ready to leave his office for a meeting. It looked like it would snow today.
Dimmock woke up that morning and stretched languidly. He grinned to himself. It was a sunny morning. No morning was complete without a touch of gold filtering through the curtains.
It was just a normal morning. He got up, tidied his room, washed, changed, ate breakfast, and walked out the door to get to work...
... Only to come face-to-chest with the late Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock only smiled wide, an expression that was all faux-saccharine. "Ah, Inspector Dimmock!" he greeted brightly as if he had never left and was unaware that there was a black marble tombstone with his name on it. "I know that I've been quite negligent with my attentions toward London as of late, I was hoping that you'd be able to tell me where Lestrade has disappeared to? I've dropped by his flat, but he seemed to have moved out."
Dimmock just stared, one hand holding his doorknob with a deathly white-knuckled grip. His mouth opened, but no noise escaped him.
Sherlock smiled back patiently.
"Um..." Dimmock finally squeaked, pale in the face.
"Oh, no. You've got that look..." Was the last thing Dimmock heard.
... Before he passed out.
That evening, John stumbled back to Baker Street after a long and fufilling day of work. The niggling in the back of his mind still hadn't given up bothering him.
Sherlock stood on the side of the pavement, waiting for John to return. A cold hour-and-a-half after he had taken up his position, he caught sight of the little doctor limping up the street toward him through the lightly falling snow.
He sucked in a breath. The damned psychosomatic limp was back. If anything, it had gotten worse. He wasn't irresponsible enough to believe that it wasn't his fault. Besides, he had heard from Mycroft that John had returned to his therapist.
He saw John's eyes, still sharp and alert after three years of no action, sliding across their surroundings like a soldier taking stock of a situation. They scrolled over Sherlock, froze, and backtracked.
Their gazes met.
Sherlock took that has his cue and pushed himself off the lamp post he had been leaning on and stepped toward his former flatmate, hand outstretched as if moving to touch the man's shoulder.
It was a primitive gesture to solidify the fact that this was really happening. That he himself was here. That John was here with him. At Baker Street. Like three years ago had never happened.
But it had. John broke his gaze and walked right past Sherlock, barely skirting the consulting detective's outstretched fingers. Like he hadn't seen Sherlock at all.
Like he was invisible.
But he knew John had seen him. Why ignore him, then? Sherlock had expected John to be happy to see him, angry too. In no scenario did he predict that John would not react.
He swallowed and lowered his hand, his throat constricted. John didn't believe it was real. He had been inches away from John and yet he hadn't stopped. John saw him, but didn't let on. Which led to only one conclusion.
John was accustomed to seeing Sherlock on the street. John thought he was hallucinating, imagining seeing his dead flatmate, but believing that he wasn't real.
Sherlock rubbed his hand over his face. The return of the psychosomatic limp was not the only reason John had made the decision to go back to talking to his therapist.
"Oh God, John, I'm so sorry." he breathed, voice hoarse.
But John had already disappeared inside the flat.
John walked into 221b Baker Street and marched up to his flat without even a word of greeting to Mrs. Hudson. He closed himself in his flat and collapsed his weight on the locked door.
He let out a slow breath. That had been Sherlock in the street. He hadn't imagined up his ex-flatmate in months. It had taken all his willpower not to react. His stirring sixth sense must've triggered the hallucination.
He rubbed his hand over his face and it came away slightly damp from persperation. He shook his head. Get it together, John. He mentally berated himself as he tossed his phone and keys onto the coffeetable as he shrugged out of his coat and moved about in the kitchen, making a cup of soothing tea.
He just walked out of the kitchen with a hot mug and kicked off his shoes, curling up in his armchair to watch bad telly, when his phone chimed with a new message. He put his mug down on the coffeetable and picked up his phone.
I know you saw me, John -SH
John dropped his phone and recoiled as if he had been burned. He stared at the inanimate object lying innoculously on the floor and tentatively picked it back up.
Who is this? -John
You know who I am. -SH
Is this some kind of sick joke? -John
No it's not. And I'm sorry. -SH
This isn't funny! -John
You know I would never make a joke of something like this. -SH
I'm calling the cops! -John
John jumped up, face pale, lips trembling as he moved to find Lestrade's number in his speed dial. Nevermind that Lestrade no longer worked with the NSY, when he meant cops, he meant Lestrade. Always.
Consider it one last miracle, John. For you. -SH
John froze as he stared at the text. He knew those words. He spoke those words. Alone. At Sherlock's grave. Only a Holmes could've known something private like that without having been there.
His stomache dropped out and he darted across the sitting room and poked his head out of the window overlooking the street, ignoring the pinpoints of grey spotting his vision.
Snow was beginning to accumulate on the ground and John could see the faint outline of a tall, thin man in a Belstaff coat in the light of the street lamp outside. The figure was silent, unmoving, head ducked low, staring at his phone, just a faint sliver of blue scarf peeking out from underneath his collar...
Fighting down the urge to faint, John turned and ran, dropping his phone in the process. He bolted out of his flat, uncaring that he had neglected to close the door after himself. He rushed down the stairs, skipping two at a time and landed hard at the bottom, his knees nearly buckled but held firm.
There was no sign of a limp.
He fumbled with the front door's lock and threw the door open, letting a gust of icy wind inside.
Sherlock was standing a few feet away from the door on the pavement, back toward John. And after so many adventures of following that back, it was such an achingly familiar sight. There was a light dusting of white on the taller man's shoulders and black curls but it was undeniably him.
Without regard to his presently shoeless state, John stepped out into the snow and hesitantly touched Sherlock's shoulder. It was warm and solid under his fingers.
He looked as he had always did, if not, paler and thinner. His quicksilver eyes caught John's and this time they held. "You-..." John's voice cracked a little. "You're real?" he near whispered incredulously.
A pained look seeped into Sherlock's usually neutral expression. "John..."
John registered the pain in his fist before he even realized that he had punched Sherlock. Sherlock's head snapped around with the force of the blow and the man stumbled slightly but kept his footing.
He raised a hand to his mouth and felt the blood beginning to accumulate there. "Alright, I agree that I deserved that one..." he began ruefully.
So John punched him again.
"Ow!" This time, Sherlock went down arse first into the snow on the pavement. "John!" he yelped. "That is concrete, and it does hurt!"
John opened his mouth to shout at Sherlock but the words were lost before they ever found their way off his tongue. He clamped his mouth shut silently and breathed deeply through his nose. Sherlock's expression softened.
"I know that it does not make this whole situation any more forgivable, but I am sorry for what I did, John." Sherlock murmured quietly around the thin fingers nursing his bruised jaw.
They stood and sat in silence for a moment or two before John rolled his eyes Heavenwards and let his eyes fall shut, sighing. Then he extended his hand to his fallen flatmate.
Sherlock regarded him slightly nervously and took the extended hand to help himself up off the snowy ground. He looked down. "Can we go in, John? Your socks have been ruined and I'm sure it's not very prudent to stay out here health-and-safety wise."
John huffed out a breath and nodded. "Course." But neither made a move. Then, after what seemed to be an eternety, John reached upward and cupped Sherlock's face in both his hands and kissed him. The first kiss was soft and chaste, tentative at first, just a press of lips on the mouth, adjusting to the fact that Sherlock was real. That he had finally returned. Then the kisses grew more desperate. They tasted like pain and agony, bitter and angry, John clutched Sherlock's collar in his fist and buried his other hand in Sherlock's curls as Sherlock scraped his teeth over John's bottom lip, one hand circling around the back of his neck, the other on his upper arm like Sherlock was making sure John was really there.
Then they broke apart.
They stood there in the God awful cold, foreheads pressed together, breaths puffing through their parted lips in short pants in the shared airspace. The air tasted like unspoken apologies and forgiveness, both sweet and sorry.
John sniffed, eyelashes tickling Sherlock's cheek. "God, I've missed you."
"Are you catching a cold, or crying?" Sherlock asked in a hushed tone, concerned with all the sniffing going on.
"Shut up, Sherlock. We were having a moment." John chuckled breathily.
"Not good?" Sherlock's arms winded around John's back and hugged him closer. Which suited John just fine as long as he continued shielding him from the chill.
"Uh, uh." John shook his head slightly with a grin. "Bit not good, Sherlock."
"Oh..." Sherlock's mouth opened and closed once before he gave up and rested his cheek on the crown of John's head. "Sorry."
"Okay, Sherlock. But let's go in before we actually catch colds." John huffed. "How long have you been standing out here anyway? It's bloody cold!" He scampered off indoors with Sherlock following and stripped his sopping wet socks off his feet.
They heard Mrs. Hudson move around inside her flat and inquire as to what all the noise was all about. They exchanged glances. "You have the honours, Sherlock." John made a sweeping gesture.
Sherlock grinned back brightly and opened his mouth to call out... "Mrs. Hudson!"