Sherlock wouldn't exactly say he was excited – he usually saved that sort of thing for when he was on the cusp of working out something helpful, difficult or complex – but he'd dreamt amount the moment for months, ran scenarios in his head over and over and now the moment had arrived and he entirely tended to seize it and enjoy it.

Of course, for the time being things had to be functional; he needed Scotland Yard if he was going to have Sebastian Moran arrested. And Mycroft had assured him that in this case, having him in prison was by far the best form of approach. He'd offered a suggestion that, if Sherlock got him arrested, that he wouldn't last a great deal of time inside (a promise, coming from Mycroft Holmes, rather than a prediction) and thus Sherlock had waited, dreaming of the moment when he could come home, for Sebastian Moran to do something wrong. Not wrong as in morally-wrong, the man was heavily involved in dealing, acquisition of guns and increasing the funds of the organisation through various illicit deals, but wrong as in a mistake wrong. And given he'd have to be beyond the normal levels of stupid not to realise that, after all the other top men in Moriarty's business had disappeared under dubious circumstances, been arrested or had died due to unfathomable accidents, that someone was after him. So it had taken a long time.

Long enough for Sherlock to go half mad with boredom and to imagine coming home so many times that he was almost bored of unoriginality of his own mind, but not quite.

He'd returned to Baker Street to acquire his coat, had nearly shocked Mrs Hudson into a heart attack (he had attempted to approach the subject delicately with her, but there's only so much sensitivity a self-diagnosed sociopath who should really be dead can achieve without help – and Mycroft was being singularly useless on this point) before asking about John's generally whereabouts in relationship to Baker Street.

The well he moved out, years ago Sherlock, had been news to him and he'd endured a rather heated telephone conversation with Mycroft about the subject. After Sherlock had been forced to accept – well, ask for, really – financial aid the trade off for semi-regular updates about the state of his well being had been tell me John's okay (an awkward conversation that had been most decidedly done by phone, or else neither would have been comfortable enough to even attempt broaching the void: Mycroft had thought that money and the added fact that he'd been mourning his brother's death for nine months should have held more weight in the negotiations, but at that point Sherlock was half-drugged, angry and desperate meaning he had no qualms bringing up the this-is-all-your-fault-anyway-card which had made Mycroft go very silent for awhile). So, on one of his fake-phones, Sherlock had a sea of texts detailing John's every day movements John forgot to buy milk. John returned to practice at the surgery. Sherlock made a big show of being quite annoyed at the inane pieces of information Mycroft delivered (usually with some sort of mocking and derisive comment about feelings), but he'd lived for them for years.

He wasn't stupid enough to trust Mycroft. He'd regularly sent anonymous notes (with large sums of money attached) to the irregulars asking them to provide updates on a certain John Watson. And none of them had been able to contradict Mycroft's tales, meaning that Mycroft had anticipated his distrust (of course he had) and had someone made it appear, for years, as though John was still inhabiting Baker Street. Upon this news he'd actually resorted to yelling down the phone in his old sitting room, at which Mycroft had told him to grow up and reminded him that he wasn't supposed to be seeing John until the post-arrest stage of proceedings, so really he should have avoiding 221B Baker Street all together. The excuse I needed my coat had almost fallen off his tongue before he resisted, pulling the coat on and exiting Baker Street in a rush (I'll need your help later, Mrs Hudson). Because Mycroft was right. After being back in London for less than a week he was already acting like a careless, over excited school boy who was about to receive some great treat. And he needed to focus on the case because god damn it all if Sherlock let sentiment ruin his return a well as dictate his exit.

He'd paused slightly outside Baker Street, giving himself a long moment to take in the familiar street, to turn his collar up and slip his scarf round his neck before hailing a cab. So familiar.

Mycroft rang him when he was in the cab. Sherlock ceremoniously rejected the call. The text arrived a few secondly later.


Sherlock let out a derisive laugh at that. He wasn't about to tell Mycroft that was the point, he was sure his brother would work that out fairly swiftly. In fact, he'd probably already had and was around oiling the wheels of his plan and setting it jittering into motion. If his brother wasn't so utterly convinced that Sherlock was going to mess this up in the name of feelings, he wouldn't have bothered calling at all.

Sherlock had his secrets too. Last time the two brothers had been face to face, Sherlock had been almost completely bald with blonde eyebrows and eyelashes, shoulders slumped into a ridiculously unnatural posture and an oversized hoodie. Although Mycroft had been struck by how much Sherlock was able to pull off the student look, he'd also been able to recognise Sherlock in less than a minute and chastised him for being so careless ('I've been dead for two years, Mycroft, and those who believe I'm still alive think I'm currently in Russia') resulting in another heated debate about the necessity of plastic surgery. "I'll arrange everything with no draining of your funds, Sherlock." "We're not all happy to abuse the NHS so readily." "The British Government has a percentage of the national wealth invested in keeping you alive, if you weren't so stubborn as to accept help."

Still, recently Sherlock had been letting his appearance to return to the realms of the comfortable: his hair had grown back to its usual length, the natural colour, he'd gotten rid of the facial hair he'd been using in his last disguise, removed the dark brown contacts and had instead relied on his rudimentary disguise techniques to get him into London undetected. The result being, Mycroft had been unaware of Sherlock's return to his former glory until he'd stripped off the layers of disguise in Baker Street, pulled on his coat and his scarf feeling almost normal. Mycroft was doubtlessly annoyed that Sherlock had fed him a fake-plan until the last moment, but Sherlock didn't imagine that it hadn't been unexpected – when it came down to it, the cases were more important than the sibling rivalry and if Sherlock didn't believe and, well, trust (sort of) his brother to react appropriately and conveniently at short notice, he'd give him a great deal more of notice.

"Scotland Yard." Sherlock told the cabbie as a second text arrived.


Sherlock rolled his eyes and turned off his phone, flipping it over and removing the battery. Mycroft had no doubt stored some sort of GPS device to track him that would probably work even when switched off. He supposed, if this was another occasion, the only way to really rid himself of its tracking-power as to throw the phone in the Thames, but if someone found it then he really would be in trouble... and this was one of those occasions where Sherlock had deemed enlisting his brother's help as prudent. Particularly as he'd rather revealed his hand with the whole John business (Sherlock's stomach jolted slightly and Sherlock made a mental note not to think about John until this was all over, as dictated by his own plan). But, for now, he didn't want to be tracked and given that he was entirely sure that the only reason Mycroft hadn't attached a tracking device under his skin because he knew Sherlock would noticed and rely on all means necessary to get rid of it – from removing it with his own fingers to black market surgery, Sherlock didn't really care as long as he felt he could be a breathable distance away from his brother – taking the battery out of the phone would have to do. Rudimentary. Obvious.

He'd be glad when the case was over.

The walk through Scotland Yard was every bit as liberating and satisfying as he thought it would be. The gritty feeling of not being able to be himself properly had stung. He'd had no choice. Sherlock's acting ability was usually refined for short, sharp bursts... but Sherlock had spent three years reigning himself in and constructing new alias after new alias for himself – cultivating his behaviour and having to navigate himself around other people. He'd suffered through having to tell jokes, having to laugh at other's jokes, having to benignly sit in pubs and be talked at and had, on several hideous occasions, found that going on dates had been necessary to acquire the information he acquired. The role that John usually performed (don't think about John, don't think about John, don't think about John - ) in getting information and whatever else he was searching for (company? Sex?) from women like Louise Mortimer had fallen down to him. And without the blogs Sherlock would arduously pick apart and criticize, sometimes he felt like none of the catalogue of events had even happened. In fact, that's what he tried to tell himself on a regular basis – that this was a long, extended dream that wasn't really happening. And any second he would wake up, and John would call him an idiot and make him a cup of tea.

Several eyes followed him as he walked through Scotland Yard, but not as many as should have done – given the fact that he was both a stranger who shouldn't really be there and that he was supposed to be ten feet under. Typical Scotland Yard: don't even notice when a corpse walks right through their head quarters.

There were new faces. The layout had changed. Sherlock didn't like that, but there wasn't much he could have done to restore everything about his life to precisely as how he had left it.

Then, there he was, stood in front of Donovan's desk exactly how he'd anticipated thousands of times before. Mycroft would say he was being dramatic and childish. Perhaps he was. But he'd been dead for three years and this was the first time he'd been allowed to be very much alive and he was going to enjoy it.

"Lestrade around?" Sherlock asked. "I need a word."

Donovan's head shot upwards. She blanched, her mouth twisting into an expression of upmost horror. Her eyes widened. She froze.

"I've got a case," Sherlock continued, "It's a good one. He'll want it."

I know it's been done before, but after starting work on a retelling of the Norwood Builder, I just really wanted to have a go at this one too. So this and 'The Builder' are adjoining fics, although you can read one without the other or whatever. This is, obviously, my take on 'The Empty House' which belongs to Conan Doyle and so obviously isn't mine. But, I really enjoyed writing this and I have another one or two chapter written (I was going to wait to post it till after I'd finished 'The Builder' but, well, I'm procrastinating to the highest degree of things)... but, yeah, if you enjoyed it let me know. Reviews would be lovely. Thanks for reading! :)