He sat on the edge of the bed, his feet planted firmly on the dirty carpet and his fingertips and palms placed together before his lips. The two people in the room next door had ceased fighting and were now groaning—but, no, they weren't hurting one another; it sounded much too pleasurable for that. In the small bathroom to his left, there was a leak in the sink faucet that dripped every thirteen seconds. The maid and her cart with the squeaking wheel had passed by nearly a half an hour ago, and he should know: he hadn't taken his eyes off the analogue clock, which ticked with every passing second, hanging on the stained wall in front of him all night.
But he knew he wouldn't have to wait much longer.
It had been two days since he got the texts. "Oak Grove, Oregon. Weeping Angels." And then, promptly after the first: "I'm staring right at John. He looks well."
He didn't answer either text, but the man who had sent them knew he would take the case, and he would be checking in on the results at any moment.
Finally, there it was: the sound of metal against the wind, partnered with a flashing light in the car park outside the motel room door. He stood up straight as soon as he heard it, tied his scarf around his neck, and flung his coat around his body before pushing up its collar to meet his cheeks. Then he stepped outside to meet the source of the noise, pocketing his hands while gazing at the solid blue wood of the Tardis.
The door creaked open and out stepped its pilot.
"Sherlock Holmes," the Doctor greeted him, grinning wildly as he rubbed his palms together eagerly and pointed at Sherlock. "Aren't you a sight for sore eyes?"
"Doctor," Sherlock said, the corner of his mouth twitching in a brief smile. "Back from the past, I presume?"
"Ah, nothing gets by you!" The Doctor was beaming again. "I've just spent the day saving King Arthur of Camelot with Merlin."
Nothing the Doctor said phased Sherlock anymore, but he did force a smile with considerably less difficulty than was required of late. Despite all his banter, the Doctor wasn't the blithering idiot he seemed to be. He wasn't boring. That was enough for Sherlock Holmes.
"Really?" he feigned impression. "It's a miracle you yourself didn't turn out to be Merlin."
The Doctor put on a dream-like grin and leaned against the side of the Tardis. "No," he said airily. "That would be a bit too obvious." He started again. "There were others! Dean and Sam Winchester. They hunt monsters."
Sherlock tried not to roll his eyes. "You know I don't believe in monsters, Doctor. Especially not your kind."
"No," he replied thoughtfully, stretching the word out to double its syllable. "It would take a lot to believe in my kind of monsters . . . And yet here you are."
The two men stared at each other for a pause, and Sherlock quite enjoyed the comfort of the silence, but he couldn't help but notice the absence of the constant bickering that usually accompanied the Doctor.
"Ponds?" he asked at once.
The Doctor patted the door of the Tardis. "Turned in for the night." And, although what the Doctor had said was the truth, it didn't mean he wasn't lying.
Sherlock grinned again. "You haven't told them," he said flippantly, but it wasn't a question.
"What, that you're alive?" the Doctor snapped. "They've only just found out you're dead. Give them some time to process. Blimey, Sherlock."
Sherlock knitted his brows together. "How much time is usually acceptable for people to process?"
The Doctor opened his mouth to answer this, and then seemed to reconsider. "No idea."
His next words came out before Sherlock could stop them: "And John?" He tried to ask it as casually as he had asked about Amy and Rory, but he felt his throat close up around the words and his apathetic tone seemed fake even to him. If the Doctor had noticed this, he didn't let on; but they both knew this was where the conversation would turn sooner or later.
"He's moving out of Baker Street," the Doctor informed him.
"Is he?" Sherlock tried apathy again, and it was easier this time.
"He misses you," the Doctor went on.
"Yes, I suppose he does."
"You miss him, too."
The Doctor raised his eyes expectantly at Sherlock, but Sherlock didn't answer right away. Instead, he fixed the Doctor with a hard stare. Yes, he had to admit that he did miss John, indeed. However, there was nothing he could do about it. He had tried to tell John he was alive—that it was all pretend. Keep your eyes fixed on me, he had said, but John didn't. He should have seen that coming, after all; John was never the most observant of people.
"The Angels," Sherlock said flatly, changing the subject. "They're taken care of. I've trapped them in the house."
"How'd you do it?" the Doctor wondered.
"Simply enough," Sherlock boasted. "Through their reflections. That household had an abundance of mirrors. Vanity is the one redeemable quality of Americans, when called for. And we can thank the wife for her taste in that particular décor. It was all her doing. Obviously. Her word was law in the family. Wherever the Angels sent her back to, I do hope it's a time of equal rights for women."
"Imagine the riots she'd cause, if not," the Doctor retorted.
"I imagine you'll want to take it from here?" Sherlock said, and the Doctor nodded.
"Oh, don't worry about that. I'll take the Angels to some desolate part of the universe where they can waste away in peace. Maybe that will get them out of my hair for a while."
Sherlock couldn't agree more. "You'll be off, then."
He was about to turn away when the Doctor offered, "Sure you don't want a lift back to England?" Sherlock turned to face the Doctor, and took in his pushed innocent expression and watched the way he jingled the Tardis key as he used it to point behind him at the doors. Sherlock knew what the Doctor was trying to do and, while appreciated, he couldn't go back just yet. He had to bide his time.
"No," he said. "I believe I'll stay in America for the time being."
The Doctor's face fell. "Fair enough," he said at last, but just as he climbed back into the time machine, he turned back around and caught Sherlock's eyes.
"And Sherlock?" he said. "I'd start believing in monsters if I were you. I have a feeling that's not the last we'll be seeing of the Winchesters—or Merlin."
Sherlock gave a dutiful nod, the one he learned from observing John. "As always, Doctor," he said with a smirk of anticipation. "You know how to find me."
The Doctor gave him one last sly grin and disappeared into the Tardis, and Sherlock watched as the box drifted away.
Read Part II: Haunted Men, The Slow Path: An Interlude, and Part III: The Rise and Fall.
1. God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash
2. Marching On - ONEREPUBLIC
3. Wake Up - Arcade Fire
4. Sail - AWOLNATION
5. Baba O'Riley - The Who
6. Don't Panic - Coldplay