Title: Anon

Fandom: Sherlock Holmes BBC

Characters/Pairing: John, Mrs. Hudson,

A/N: So, this is the start of drabbles series. Some will be character-shots and some will be my attempt at humour. I'm hoping to at least touch on every character once, but we'll see.

Requests are open. : )

Summary: Sometimes the only way to step forward is to step backwards.

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"Mrs. Hudson?"

She stands at the door, flabbergasted, before moving back and letting him in. "John! It's so good to see you. It's been," she pauses, thinking back, "three months since I last saw you. You should have come sooner."

Her hand comes out to clasp his and she gives him an affectionate smile before letting go. "Do you want biscuits and tea?"

The staircase stands in front of him, reaching up into a slight darkness. It's late in the day and the faint sunlight streaming in allows him to barely make out a door he used to know. Looking down, he notices the worried look on her face and gives her a small smile back.

"I thought you weren't our housekeeper."

"I'm not." The emphasis in her voice makes him chuckle. "But you're my guest this time."

"That's right." The smile falls off his face at this remainder. "Maybe next time—it's getting late and I need to get that book back."

"If you're sure." She stares at him for a moment, reading his expression, before turning around and leading the way up. "I'll open the door for you—don't know why I lock it now."

She is still talking as she goes up, not even looking back once as they go, and he has to stop and watch for a moment. Behind him is another set of footsteps, a voice muttering lightly about how adequate she was as a housekeeper, as long as one ignored her. There was a call asking if they wanted snacks, only this once as it was a gift, and he turns around to ask a question.

But there is no one behind him, only the deepening shadows and a hollow emptiness. John moves forward before he can let it sink in.

"I tried to clean up a bit—you boys left a big mess." Her voice is slightly strained up here, her smile tighter, and she doesn't want to be up here anymore than John does. The living room is actually livable and he can see the mess in the kitchen from where Sherlock would pile his notes. "Well, I'll let you find your book."

She can't move away fast enough, down those stairs and around the corner. The door closes behind her and he is left standing in an empty apartment. The mantle is still cluttered with trinkets and notes and he can see the holes in the wall, the products of a bored mind.

A violin sits abandoned in a corner and it's too easy to slip here, to forget the passage of time. On the couch lies the textbook, covered in ink stains and scribbled notes. Atomic symbols are spread out beside it and he brushes off the benzene rings and aldehydes before picking up the book.

He only has to open a page to see where a bored mind drew mindless apples and piano-keys, anticipating John's reaction when he had to return the book. Another flip and he can see blackened eyes and crooked teeth, a devil's horn and a bullet. Another and he can't see very well, his sight blurry and eyes wet.

It's too soon. Closing his eyes, John breathes in and out, in and out. It's too soon to come back, too soon to see the life he left behind.

Opening his eyes, he notices the Queen's ashtray on the table and thinks it will always be too soon.