Author's note: Just a little ficlet I felt the urge to write while bored rigid at work. How I would love season three (and it WILL happen, Misters Gatiss and Moffet, or there WILL be blood) to begin – with love, hugs and violence. Depending on how many good reviews this gets, I am considering doing a sequel which will feature kisses and more for my fellow Johnlockians! XP

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

"Is that the last of it?" Harry asked as John set down the last cardboard box on the floor. The wooden planks creaked as he moved over to the window, staring out at the street below, where a group of teenage boys was making something of a racket. It was a far cry from his previous abode in Baker Street, but it was all he could afford.

"Mm," he grunted, not looking round. Harry sighed. It added to the pure strangeness of the situation that Sherlock's death had ended up bringing the two siblings closer together. Even Harry couldn't stand to be unsupportive of her little brother when he was so clearly miserable.

Sherlock's death. The words still felt like punches in the pit of John's stomach. He could barely believe it had been eighteen months already since he'd watched his best friend throw himself from the roof of that building – watched his life come a cruel, abrupt stop on the pavement below.

"John," Harry said. John forced himself to cut his thoughts short and turned to look at his sister. She was staring at him in what was most likely concern, but to John it was just one more sympathetic grimace. He'd seen it more times than he'd wanted to in the past year and a half – from his parents, from his therapist, from anyone who'd known his connection with Sherlock Holmes, the late consulting detective.

It was a non-hilarious joke that, since his death, all prejudice against Sherlock seemed to have watered down considerably. After the hype died down, people started to talk about him like he was an urban myth – the misunderstood phantom legend of the London police force. Still, when the coroner report had been released, revealing that Jim Moriarty's death had been administered by himself, all sorts of theories had been leaked into the press, some of which claimed Sherlock had forced Moriarty's hand, or vice versa. However, out of all the hare-brained ideas and wild claims, there had been one that had really set John's blood boiling. Some jumped-up reporter had suggested that Sherlock and Moriarty may have been romantically involved, and their deaths were part of some lovers' suicide pact. Whenever the preposterous rumour crossed John's mind, it made him want to punch something. Mostly the reporter.

"You gonna be okay?" Harry asked, checking her watch. "Only I've gotta be off."

"Yeah, fine," John said, trying for a smile. It must have looked painful.

"You've got my number," Harry said, closing the door behind her as she left.

There were quite a few people – namely the feeble attempts at girlfriends he'd tried in the past couple of months – who thought John's depression was going on a lot longer than it probably should have, as if that made any difference to the fact that it was stretching on. There was nothing he could do about it. It was literally like someone had taken pieces of his organs out and replaced them with burning coals or barbed wire. Every time he thought about Sherlock it hurt, and considering he thought about Sherlock most of the time, this didn't do much for his mood.

When the time had finally come that morning to move the rest of his things out of 221B, the rush of memories at seeing the place again had been almost overpowering. John hadn't cried since that day at the graveyard, but if there'd been a time for it it would have been then. All of Sherlock's old things were still there – slowly gathering dust – and so he'd decided to take a few choice items with him. The skull from the mantelpiece, the knife Sherlock always kept lodged in the wood beside it, an old pack of nicotine patches, and the headphones from the skull on the wall. He'd taken a few of Sherlock's clothes with him too – one of his scarves, the purple shirt that had always been a little too tight for him, and his second-best dressing gown. Everything else had been moved to the attic when Mrs. Hudson's finances had forced her to rent the room out to someone else. The fact that it had once been home to the great detective had been quite the selling point, and John's was sure that the new owner was boasting sickeningly to their friends and relatives about it. Again, John wanted to punch something.

John was just wondering whether to start unpacking now or wait until the morning, when he heard the sound of the letter-slot clicking shut. Curious, he thought, as nobody but Harry, his parents and Mrs. Hudson knew the address of his new establishment, and why would they post him something when they could just pop by or ring? John walked down the hall and saw a small yellow jiffy bag sitting on the carpet. John opened the door and stared down the long apartment-building balcony. There wasn't anyone to be seen. He closed the door and bent down to pick up the parcel, sliding his fingers under the glued opening to release it. Turning the bag upside down, he allowed whatever was inside to fall out onto his hand – and slid down the wall to the floor. The black mobile phone looked just as it had the last time he'd seen it – down to the last faint scratch on the back where the battery lid came off.

This was Sherlock's phone.

John's heart had started to beat faster than before. Who would send him this? His first thought went to Mycroft, though surely even the smooth-talking elder Holmes brother wouldn't be so insensitive as to send him something like this. Who, then? He ran a list through his head of everyone the two of them had known while Sherlock was alive. Lestrade? Molly? Donovan? Anderson? No, none of them. So who?

His head spinning, John ran a hand through his short hair, trying to piece things together. His deduction skills, while better than they'd been before his first meeting with Sherlock, were not up to figuring out who would send him such a personal gift. He was just about to get up to give Mycroft a late-night phone call, when the phone in his hand started to vibrate. His heart skipped a beat as he looked at the lettering on the screen – '1 text received'. Swallowing, John pressed the 'open message' button and read what it said.

St. Bart's. Midnight.

John glanced at his watch – it was nearing eleven-thirty now. Who in the hell would be wanting to meet him at such a random location at this time of night? Except it wasn't random at all. More than the fact that it was where John had trained for the majority of his early twenties, but it was also the place where he and Sherlock had first met. Where the strange man had managed to deduce from the smallest, simplest details of John's appearance where he'd been, what he did, and the state of his and Harry's relationship – back when anything Sherlock said would have surprised him.

A sudden thought struck John like a blow to the head – what if whoever had sent this, and wanted to meet him, had information relating to Sherlock's death? The thought had John reaching for his jacket faster than if the house was on fire, and he was out the door and striding down the balcony with his head whirring with thoughts. He also thought to slip his old army handgun into the back pocket of his jeans, just in case things turned sour or this was some kind of trap. It was starting to spot with rain, so he ducked his head and pushed his hands in his pockets. St. Bart's was only a short walk from his location, and he reached the front gates in just under fifteen minutes. He knew from his learning days that there was a secret entrance round the back of the main building where the wire in the fence was loose. Keeping an eye out for his mysterious host, he ran round the building and managed to squeeze himself through the fence. He saw immediately that one of the doors was standing open. As if sensing his location, the phone in his pocket vibrated again.

Come inside, John.

John pulled out the gun from his back pocket and walked slowly to the open door. The lights inside had been switched on, giving the place an uncomfortably empty feel as John made his way down the long corridor. Despite his war history, it was a while before John felt brave enough to call, "Hello?"

The phone vibrated again: Where it began.

John tightened his grip on the gun handle and hurried up the stairs that led to the lab room where he had first laid eyes on Sherlock Holmes. The door was propped open by a tall stool. John took a deep breath, his heart hammering, and, raising the gun to firing level, stepped into the room.

At first he thought it was empty, until a tall, dark figure moved from the shadows of one corner, their face hidden by the hood of their coat.

"Who are you?" John demanded, in his most forceful voice. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the phone. "Where did you get this?"

The person paused for a moment, seemingly considering John. Then, slowly, they stepped forward and pushed back their hood.

The gun fell to the floor with a loud clatter.

He was thinner, if possible, and his curly dark hair was shorter, but there was no mistaking – Sherlock Holmes.

"Hello, John," he said.

The hairs at the back of John's neck prickled at his voice, sending shivers down his spine. Sweat broke out on his forehead and it was suddenly incredibly hard to breathe. He opened his mouth, his voice catching in his throat.

"Y—you. . . you BASTARD!" he screamed, throwing himself at Sherlock and sinking in fist into the side of his high-cheekboned face. He expected Sherlock to protest, but the man just took the punch and braced himself as John landed another one on his left arm. John threw his arms around the detective's neck and crushed their bodies together, hard and there and real, before drawing back to punch him again and again, all the while shouting at the top of his lungs. "YOU BASTARD! YOU WERE DEAD! I SAW YOU! YOU LET ME BELIEVE IT! YOU BASTARD! GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!"

"John," Sherlock said, his voice surprisingly soft for all the punches he'd received. "I'm sorry."

"You. . . you. . ." John crumpled against his friend, his fingers gripping the material of Sherlock's coat so hard he almost ripped it. As if this is what they'd been waiting for, the tears sprang forth and cascaded down John's face as he clutched onto Sherlock, his face buried in his chest. As he sobbed, he felt Sherlock's steady hands on his shoulders.

"I'm sorry, John," he said again. "I had to. It was the only way."

"You're alive," John gasped.

Sherlock smiled – a real, Sherlock smile – and John thought his heart might burst, a glowing flame of happiness the like of which he hadn't felt in many months shimmering in the pit of his stomach.

"Sherlock," he whispered, reaching up to touch the pale cheek of his friend, returned to him. Sherlock gently put his arms around his old friends shoulders and – for the first time in their whole acquaintance – embraced him.

"It's good to see you again, John."