"What happened, Sherlock?" John asked after the two of them calmed Mrs. Hudson down and moved upstairs for a cuppa. Sherlock sat himself in his usual seat and stared at the sitting room window contemplatively. "Sherlock?"
Sherlock glanced at him. "You'll have to be more specific, John. Many things happened in three years."
John rolled his eyes. "At St. Bart's." Sherlock opened his mouth but John stalled him with a raised hand. "And not the 'how', Sherlock, I could care less about that. Why?"
Sherlock looked at him, and then looked away. "Moriarty was going to kill you, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade if I didn't jump." he told John bluntly. "I couldn't let that happen. For the first time in years, I asked Mycroft for help and he assisted me in my fall. It was necessary that Moriarty's men believe that I was dead or they would have gone ahead and killed you three. They had you on surveilance for a few weeks after that, to assure themselves that there was no foul play."
"That's why you couldn't let any of us know?" John nodded slowly in understanding.
"Mycroft tried to keep me locked up under the radar but I escaped him. I heard of one of Moriarty's former clients attempting to re-create his computer code..."
"...That never actually existed." John cut in.
Sherlock nodded back. "I'm sure you've heard of the deaths in the news."
"A few of them." John shrugged modestly.
"I had been investigating the case when I had the misfortune to run into Moran in New York." Sherlock shook his head self-deprecatingly.
"Sorry, who's Moran?" John asked.
"You don't know him personally, you'd better know him as a red dot on your chest, or the crosshairs on your forehead." Sherlock growled as he thought of the man.
"Oh..." John bit his lip. "But... it's okay for you to come back now?"
"That has yet to be established." Sherlock shrugged. "I had been moving from country to country, avoiding detection from Moran and Mycroft could never quite catch up to him without complicating things." Sherlock grimaced a little and looked at John. "Now that he knows I am alive, I'm sure it won't be long before he shows up here in London to carry out what Moriarty promised. So I beat him here to set a trap for him."
"You mean, you're setting yourself up as bait." John realized perceptively. "Why am I not surprised? As if dying once was enough." he said dryly. "You do know that fishing never ends well for the bait."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "If there had been any other way out of the situation, I would have taken it."
That said, they sat in silence. Mrs. Hudson appeared five minutes later with the tea. If she had any complaints about not being their housekeeper, she kept it to herself.
Sherlock looked at John, John stared into his teacup. Then John raised his gaze to glance at Sherlock and Sherlock swiftly turned his eyes toward the window. They continued the painfully awkward silence and gaze-tag for a while.
"So..." Sherlock prompted after what seemed to be forever.
"So." John shot back.
"I hear you have a girlfriend." Blunt and tactless. How had John been expecting any different?
"I've had a few."
Sherlock's eyebrows rose. "Oh? And how did that go for you?" he inquired conversationally.
John rolled his eyes. "Well! This is right awkward, isn't it? Considering you were still my boyfriend when you jumped off a bloody roof and died!" He crossed his arms with a slight look of accusation. "Where does that leave us, Sherlock? Now that you're back."
"I'm not angry at you, you know, John." Sherlock said.
"Three years, Sherlock, I don't think you'd have that right." John retorted, glaring. Then his expression softened slightly. "Mary and I broke it off a few months ago."
Sherlock glanced at John from under his dark curls. "I know."
"Course you knew." John growled. "Did Mycroft send you weekly reports on my status?" he asked snidely.
"No. We never contacted each other once since the year I 'died' until this morning." Sherlock sighed. "I'm sure it took him every scrap of self-control not to look for me. If he had really wanted to find me, he would have."
John took another sip of tea as the silence lingered again. "So." he began, slightly louder than necessary in the silence, Sherlock raised his eyebrows. "You mentioned a trap for Moran?"
Sherlock's eyes glinted with hidden laughter. "It's been three years, John... " For a moment, John thought Sherlock might suggest he sit this one out and was ready to argue. He needn't worry. "You ready for more?"
"Oh God, yes." John grinned eagerly, almost before Sherlock even finished speaking.
Then, Sherlock really did laugh.
"So, what are we doing here?" John asked quietly as Sherlock and he snuck into an abandoned flat. Sherlock had directed their cab through so many twists and turns that John was fairly certain that he had no idea where they had ended up.
"Take a look, see anything familiar?" Sherlock nodded his head toward the window.
John peered out of the window in question. "But- that... we're at Baker Street?" he gasped incredulously.
"In the flat across the street from our own. Good thing it's been rebuilt since Moriarty blew it up." Sherlock smiled back. "Looks like we've got visitors."
John peeked out of the window again in confusion.
There was a black silhouette standing dark and proud against the curtains. Sherlock's sharp features and curly hair was unmistakable. John gasped slightly and grabbed onto Sherlock's arm to make sure he was still there and not in their own flat.
Sherlock chuckled silently. "Well? What do you think?" he asked proudly.
"Holy shit." Was all John could think to say in reply. He sounded impressed, though.
"Rather like me, isn't it?" Sherlock grinned. "I've got Mycroft to thank for that, he had it made for me. Though I make it a point not to ask him how he convinced someone to do it. The dead and dishonoured don't usually get wax statues made for themselves."
"So, what you're trying to say is that that's what Moran is going to be shooting at?" John asked.
"Yes." Sherlock growled tersely. "But I expected him to make a move at least ten minutes ago." He sounded like a spoiled little boy who's plans wern't going quite as he had meticulously planned them to.
"Relax, Sherlock! Give it ti-...!" John's sentence was cut off by Sherlock smothering his words in a gloved hand.
Both crouched in their hiding place, frozen. Then, they heard footsteps approaching almost silently. A minute later, a man wearing black boots, jeans, and jacket slid into the room like a panther.
Sherlock and John saw him from their spot, but he did not see them in the dark. He crouched before the window and set himself up for his shot at Sherlock's silhouette. John had to admire the man's fluid ease at assembling his gun blind.
There was a faint noise of spitting air and the shrill tinkle of glass breaking and suddenly Sherlock was no longer at John's side. He darted at the assassin from behind and knocked him flat on his face. The man regained his composure quickly and retaliated by swinging his elbow back and catching Sherlock on the chin before flipping them both over, hands like iron closing expertly around Sherlock's thin neck.
As quick as it came, the steel grip on Sherlock's throat was gone and John was standing over them with his gun in hand, having just pistol-whipped the very unfortunate Sebastian Moran. The assassin fell to the floor again and Sherlock scrambled out of his grip, one hand digging around in his coat pocket and reappearing with a personal alarm that the consulting detective immediately set off.
The shrill ringing stunned John and Sebastian for a moment and suddenly the dark flat was lit up and swarmed with police officers.
"Inspector Dimmock!" John exclaimed, staring at the man for a long moment. Then he shook himself. "Sorry, I was half expecting to see Lestrade."
"I couldn't find Lestrade." Sherlock growled defensively.
"He's in Dorset." Dimmock and John told him simultaneously.
"Dorset." Sherlock scoffed. "Why?"
John and Dimmock exchanged glances as a few uniformed cops took Sebastian off John's hands. "Ask him yourself, Sherlock." John sighed.
"I will." Sherlock rolled his eyes. Then he caught a glimpse of someone. "What is she doing here?"
Donovan crossed her arms defiantly. "Here on Lestrade's orders." she replied, her tone challenging but not hostile. "Holmes." She nodded at the consulting detective. "Why am I not surprised to see you alive? The Afterlife not interesting enough for you?" she snarked without malice.
"Donovan!" Sherlock smiled back but it looked more like a grimace. "No more derogatory pet names? Did Christmas come early?"
"You wish." Silence fell between the two of them before Donovan made an apologetic face and Sherlock rolled his eyes before nodding. Then, the sergeant smirked a little and turned on her heel, leaving after the men who dragged Sebastian out. "But don't think this changes anything between us." Donovan told Sherlock frankly over her shoulder. "One wrong move and I'll arrest you for breaking the Laws of Nature."
Reluctant apology given and accepted.
Then, wonder of wonders, Sherlock laughed. "Some people just never change." he said aside to John.
"That has got to be the weirdest non-conversation I've ever observed in my life." John said flatly.
"Just like old times." Sherlock sighed. "Before DCI Meadows..." He made a helpless 'you see?' gesture. "Even when we didn't hate each other, we didn't get along."
"Wait, she said she was here on Greg's orders?" John wondered aloud.
"Lestrade's been in contact." Dimmock piped up. "Told us to keep an eye on Dr. Watson. He never quite stopped being a cop, looks like."
Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "Never quite stopped-... What do you mean?"
Dimmock and John exchanged uneasy glances.
Sherlock glared. "Where's Mycroft?" he positively thundered.