This story is based on Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" which is the first short story set after Sherlock's return post-reichenbach (after the Empty House) hence this is a short story based on one of the first cases Sherlock and John take after the return, when things are still a bit awkward all round and they're still getting back on their feet life-wise.
"Nothing is happening," Sherlock muttered, stood at his old position in front of the window looking out onto the street with an expression of extreme distaste. Sherlock had been back from the dead for over a month and although he had initially tried to reign in his detestation of the boring, the fact that the second he'd walked back into London something hadn't blown up was beginning to become detestable, "and no, John," Sherlock continued, without turning away from the window, "it is not due to the lack of your blogging. I had cases before you had your blog. It's because there is no one to consult."
"Well," John returned, "I don't think anyone else is going to join your mourning."
John couldn't help but feel slightly irritated at Sherlock's continual complaints of boredom and the temporary-lockdown on his blog which John was entirely sure was the cause for the lack of cases, but then perpetual irritation at Sherlock was something he'd missed greatly over the period of his absence. The comment about the blog issue stung more (Mycroft had, for reasons unknown to John but probably transparent to Sherlock, forbidden John from updating his blog with the news that Sherlock was just fine until further notice) because, despite it all, John did like to feel valued sometimes – which was a stupid wish, when his best friend was self diagnosed sociopath who'd just finished the long, messy business of being dead for three years.
Sherlock made a noise of discontent, crossed the room and sank down onto the sofa. "Mustn't be selfish," he continued in his usual drawl, "London is at peace and everyone is happy. Except, of course, the world's only consulting detective who is –"
"-bored, yes, I get it Sherlock."
"He was everywhere. The spider. At least, before, there was the scent of something interesting amongst the mundane." Sherlock pulled his dressing gown around him and frowned. The problem was that he'd known his course of action would lead to this, to a crushing state of boredom, but continued onwards out of sentiment and the desire for things to return to how they once was. And they just hadn't. The fact that his life was subject to a great deal of rumour and no hard facts (the blogging-ban also stretched to any form of media coverage, meaning that only a handful of people who'd seen Sherlock even knew that he hadn't joined his skull on the mantel piece) meant that only the ever faithful fanbase and the Yard were responsible for the few cases that had trickled in. One of them had been quite interesting. A second hadn't been as mind numbingly dull as expected. But even that didn't change the fact that John was finding the whole reunion exactly as Sherlock had anticipated (as in, difficult) and the warning Mycroft had issued when Sherlock had finally rang him after inadvertently spending all his emergency savings on his accidental-return to his drug habit, skipping the part when he explained how he was alive and fast forwarding straight to 'fifty thousand would probably last until I've finished, if you can spare your change,' that he was an idiot for believing – or more, hoping – that whilst he was busy completing his mission life at 221B Baker Street and Scotland Yard would have just paused until he was able to return to it. Largely, Mycroft had been angry that it had taken Sherlock nine months to contact him and so little time to go off the rails – but the words had still stung.
And it was true. Things just weren't the same. And it was hateful.
John wanted to push the blog thing further, but Sherlock's poor attempt to recount the events of the past three years had been purposefully ambiguous when it came to how Sherlock had run out of money (John wasn't an idiot and it had taken him less than a minute to deduce why that had been) and about Mycroft's role in the following proceedings. In fact, the more John thought about it the more he thought Sherlock's explanation of just what the hell he'd been doing, whilst he wasn't rotting in a coffin in a cemetery that John had visited every bloody month (it used to be more, but he'd come to accept that he had to move on right before Sherlock's reappearance), was utterly underwhelming.
He wanted to fill in every single unknown hour in because he was still having a hard time understanding the fact that Sherlock was alive, but after the initial explanations Sherlock had clammed up and refused to talk anymore ('does it matter, John? I'm back. It's over') which only further convinced John's hypothesis that Sherlock had hated it almost as much as he had.
"We'll watch telly or something," John said, "cluedo?"
He was half expecting a curt, derisive comment or two, but instead Sherlock pulled himself into a sitting position – which John took to mean was an affirmative answer to his suggestion.
The familiar sound of the bell cut through the quiet, followed by the sound of someone banging on the front door. Forcefully. The door was thrown open (Mrs Hudson had, no doubt, seen to it that whoever it was that was so desperate was able to get in) and then Sherlock and John heard the rapid sound of feet, the clatter of the stairs and –
The man barrelled into the room so haphazardly that he nearly fell over; he bent double, his arms resting on his knees as he fought to get hold of his breath. Sherlock was no doubt making a whole sea of deductions, but John merely thought that the man looked like he wasn't going to be able to stand for all that much longer and nodded towards one of the seats.
"Sorry," he said breathlessly, "I am so sorry, I –"
"Apologies are dull," Sherlock said (John thought this rather explained Sherlock's half-arsed attempt to make things okay again – not that there was anything that anyone could say to take away the pain of three long, hard years of mourning), "and considering you just used all your cash to get a cab as close to here as possible and sprinted the rest of the way despite your asthma, I'm assuming it's important."
"I am," the man said, gulping in another mouthful of air, "John McFarlane."
"Illuminating," Sherlock said, "do continue this fascinating narrative."
John sent him a let the man breathe look. Sherlock returned with a breathing is boring look. And both men suddenly felt like things were a little bit closer to how they'd once been. Sherlock almost smiled.
"Tea?" John suggested, glancing at the other-John with a worried expression. Asthmatic.
"Please," Sherlock returned. John McFarlane nodded, still apparently trying to breathe, "so, you're a solicitor, living with your long term girlfriend and feel I should know his name – not much to go on, Mr McFarlane. I'm not that brilliant. I do tend to require a little more data."
John knew that Sherlock was only too keen to show off a little after being cooped up in the flat for too long and took that at his queue to disappear to the kitchen, flicking on the kettle as he continued to listen.
"Yes," John McFarlane said, "all of that, and the unluckiest man in London. Please listen to me, Mr Holmes, before they come and arrest me. Going to jail...if I knew you were working on the case... well..."
"Arrest you?" Sherlock asked, leaning forwards in his chair slightly. "What charge?"
"Murder." John McFarlane breathed, just as John returned and offered him a cup of tea (it was a strange world, John concluded, when he didn't find the fact that he was making tea for someone who'd just admitted to being a murder suspect remotely unusual).
John McFarlane seemed to compose himself slightly with the cup of tea in hand. "Jonas Oldacre," he said, the sweaty sheen not yet disappearing from his brow, "murder and arson. They think it's me, Mr Holmes, and if they're not trying to find me right now than -"
"Well, do tell the story quickly," Sherlock said, "I'd rather not have to visit you in jail to hear the rest of what's promising to be a fascinating story."
"He is very rich... was rich, I suppose. I hadn't heard of him at all until a few days ago when I received a phone call from his secretary. He wanted me to draw up a will for him... only it turned out that within the will he had named me as the heir to everything he owned. He was a very rich man, Mr Holmes. I was confused," John McFarlane took another deep breath, "he said that he was unmarried, had no family or children and that he'd known my mother when he was younger. When he said it I began to briefly remember my parents mentioning the name – I never thought anything of it, but I supposed that he must have been telling the truth. He told me not to mention it to my mother – said it would be a surprise. I organised to have the will finalised. It was finished last night and then, rather than make the journey home I stayed at a hotel and -"
"It would seem," Sherlock said, glancing towards the window, "that your time is up."
"Is that...?" John asked.
"Obviously," Sherlock said, "your girlfriend knew you were a fan, then. Told them where she thought you would go."
The man looked startled, heard the doorbell ring and began to sweat again. "You'll take the case, Mr Holmes," He said urgently, "you'll collect the rest of the date. You will take the case."
"You really should have gotten here sooner," Sherlock said, looking bored as two pairs of footsteps were heard on the stairs, "it's much more inconvenient to investigate if you've been arrested."
Sherlock didn't look up as Lestrade and Donovan burst into the room. John nodded his head slightly and decided against waving, instead turning to look at the other John who'd turned a nasty shade of white. As potential-murderers went, he certainly looked slightly panicked about being arrested. Of course, John didn't know what could be deduced from that – he was, once again, displaying his remarkable ability to see and not observe, but the man certainly did not look very well.
"Arresting people in my flat, it's almost like déjà vu, isn't it?" Sherlock continued, looking up lazily. Sally Donovan looked slightly uncomfortable. John assumed that had been the point. Lestrade shifted slightly where he stood before he was able to speak.
"John McFarlane?" He asked.
John McFarlane nodded, standing up shakily and looking vividly more ill as he did so.
"Lestrade, please do try to refrain from arresting my clients on the doorstep, it's bad for business." Sherlock said, standing up and finally shedding his dressing gown (God knows how the-other-John must have felt upon finding out that his last remaining hope was still wondering around his pyjamas) and reaching for his jacket.
"Your client? Sherlock, we're arresting him for murder." Sally Donovan looked like she was half considering making a remark about Sherlock's best friends all being murdering psychopaths but thought better of it, instead folding her arms and raising one of her eyebrows slightly.
"Yes, I just heard about that. John, shall we?"
"I didn't finish..." John McFarlane muttered.
"Oh, don't worry about that. Lestrade can text me the rest of the details." Sherlock continued, pulling on his coat.
"We weren't going to call you in," Lestrade said, "it's completely clear cut."
"We'll take the case, Mr McFarlane," Sherlock said, turning towards the shaking man with a deliberate look, "consider our services hired. We'll get back to you."
John pulled on his jacket hastily, sending Lestrade an apologetic look before following in Sherlock's wake. For a moment it was almost, very nearly, back to normal.
So, what did you guys think? The next chapter is going to be the cab ride to the case, where Sherlock and John have a bit of a talk. Then, to the case! I really need to stop writing and start revising, but I really feel like I'm getting the hang of this Sherlock-writing lark. Reviews would be lovely.