Notes: the characters aren't mine, and the story is! I've had this plot bunny for a while now, so I figured it was time to put it to use during the long wait for Series Three. I'm being deliberately vague on the amount of time passed since The Fall, since I don't know how long the actual hiatus will be.
Sherlock Holmes had waited long enough, as far as he was concerned. The time had come for his return to the world of the living and to round up what remained of Jim Moriarty's network. It was something that could've been easily done on his own; indeed, he knew that the wise thing to do would be to make sure that the ring was shattered before announcing to the world that he was alive. However, Sherlock wanted someone else to be with him as he—no, they—brought the ring down to its knees: Doctor John H. Watson. John had been with him since Moriarty first declared war on him at their confrontation by the pool (albeit not by choice, though Sherlock was certain that John would've been there by his side even if he had been given a choice); it was only fair that John be there to see the end… assuming that was what he wanted to do.
It wasn't just something that Sherlock wanted; it was something that John needed. And, perhaps… it was something that Sherlock himself needed, too. After being alone for so long and having finally met John on that cabbie case—"A Study in Pink," as John had called it—Sherlock had found that returning to his life of solitude after the fall was surprisingly unbearable. Sherlock, despite himself, had learned to care, against Mycroft's advice, and now he had to deal with its effects.
Among those effects was being able to feel empathy for the doctor, and that was why he was hoping that John would take the revelation of Sherlock's death being faked as well as could be expected. And that was a long shot; Sherlock knew he had put John through a lot—forcing him to watch him die, then not telling him that he really wasn't dead, and allowing him to agonize over the loss for as long as he had. But, perhaps, a case… and another adventure, just like the good old days… that would be the perfect offering in the hopes of making amends for all that Sherlock had done. And as far as Sherlock was concerned, the time to make amends to his long-suffering friend had come.
Unfortunately, there was another person who seemed to think otherwise. Sherlock didn't know or care as to how his brother had found out that he was alive and planning to return, but the closer he approached London, the more texts he received, all saying something to the same effect:
"Most unwise at this time. Advise you to stay away."
"This whole affair of hiding has been an utterly dull bore," Sherlock had texted back after ignoring the majority of them. "I have had enough."
That was only the partial truth; yes, Sherlock was bored. The main reason for wanting to return was, of course, to see John once again, but Sherlock saw no reason to let Mycroft know about that.
The detective was soon jolted from his thoughts as his phone signaled another incoming text.
"Too premature," came his brother's reply.
Sherlock quietly scoffed at the screen and didn't even dignify it with a reply. When had he ever listened to Mycroft, anyway?
"Will state this plainly—once and only once," Mycroft messaged. "Return now, and you will regret it."
"Really, such melodrama is beneath you. You disappoint me."
Mycroft didn't send another reply, and Sherlock assumed that he had just given up on the conversation. Pleased with himself, Sherlock put his phone away and continued towards the address that Molly Hooper had given him; Molly had informed him of John's activities, including the address of his new flat upon leaving Baker Street. Even if he had trouble voicing it, he was genuinely grateful to Molly for everything she had done—helping him fake his death and keeping a watch over John. It was through her vigils and subsequent relays to Sherlock that provided him with some amount of sanity during his time away.
But the only true return to sanity would arrive when Sherlock had his blogger by his side once again. If Sherlock was fortunate enough, hopefully, he could convince John to return to Baker Street. If he wasn't that fortunate, well… He couldn't blame John if he didn't forgive him, but after all the time he had spent at the graveside, talking to him, pleading for him not to be dead, Sherlock was hoping that whatever anger John righteously harbored would only be temporary.
The anticipation of their reunion increased with every step Sherlock took—first down the street, then into the building, up the staircase, and down the corridor. A quart of milk was in his hand—the first of many peace offerings and a tie to their friendship from the days before the fall from St. Bart's.
He stood for a moment outside the door of the flat, steeling himself. There would be many different possible reactions he could get from John upon the revelation that Sherlock wasn't dead, and he had to be ready for all of them.
The detective raised his fist and knocked on the door, but as he did so, the door creaked open slightly; it had been left both unlocked and opened. Slowly, he pushed the door fully open, revealing the darkened rooms within.
Sherlock checked his watch, frowning. It was two in the morning; why on earth would John have left his door open? He was never that careless!
Sherlock stepped inside now, his heart in his throat for the fear of what he was about to find. Had Mycroft been right? Had Moriarty's network realized that he was alive and had gone after John in retaliation?
As Sherlock took a look around, he saw that his fears were unfounded; he could see John's sleeping form on the sofa, illuminated by the flickering light from the TV set. As Sherlock walked over, he could see that there were two sets of dinner plates on the coffee table, some uneaten food on both of them. The TV screen was showing the DVD menu for Casablanca, and between that and the two sets of dinnerware, Sherlock quickly deduced what had happened; John had been entertaining a date, more than likely after a long day of work, and had fallen asleep before the movie had been completed. John's date must have left to let him sleep, either out of politeness or annoyance—perhaps even a bit of both, though judging from the smear of red on John's cheek, she had, at least, kissed him before taking her leave of him, signifying a bit more of politeness.
The detective wasn't at all surprised to see that John's date had left the TV on—perhaps with the movie playing all the way through; John had a death grip on the remote control, and Sherlock knew from experience that there was no feasible way to get John to relinquish the remote once that happened.
Sherlock regarded the scene with a wan smile as he placed the quart of milk on the coffee table beside the plates. He had been so concerned for him after the fall—first for the fact that there could've been every chance that Moriarty's network would have eliminated John just for kicks, and then for the fact that John might have been too badly broken by Sherlock's fall to continue on with a normal life.
But Sherlock's fears had been unfounded; John was safe, and he had been able to continue with life, despite the pain, despite the non-updated blog, and despite the regular visits to the cemetery. The detective had never stopped being a part of the doctor's life, but he had not consumed the doctor's life, either. If he had truly been dead, this is what Sherlock would've wanted to have seen—a John Watson who was staying strong despite his mourning and was making a good life for himself, and even managing to find the time to try to charm the ladies of London.
But the time for John's mourning was over at last! It was time for John to return to what he loved, and what they both loved: reentering the battlefield—their battlefield! It was time for them to share it all again—the clue searches, the putting together the puzzle pieces, the deductions, the midnight chases, and the shameless flirting with Lady Danger as they danced circles around her!
These thoughts brought an almost-boyish smile to Sherlock's face as he leaned over his slumbering friend and shook his shoulder to awaken him—first gently, and then with a bit more force.
"John?" he asked, softly. When he received no reply, he repeated the name, a bit louder. "John!"
It was as John's eyes flew open and as he launched himself at Sherlock, dropping the remote control and grabbing one of the knives from the dinner plates, that the detective realized that using that particular method of awakening an ex-solider probably fell into the realm of Not Good.
He really had been quite out of touch on the whole empathy thing since the fall, but, hopefully, John would be able to serve as his moral compass once again—though, of course, he had to get John to recognize him first.
"John! John, it's me!"
Sherlock scrambled backwards towards the window, allowing the moonlight to fall on his face.
He gave an apologetic grin at his best friend, certain that the light would be enough for the doctor to recognize him, but the smile quickly faded from Sherlock's face as the moonlight illuminated John's expression. John was glaring right at Sherlock, a murderous expression blazing in his eyes.
The glint of the moonlight through the window reflected off of the knife as John swung it towards Sherlock's torso.
The detective moved out of the way only at the last moment. John's knife missed him by an inch, and the doctor was already turning back towards him, his arm poised to swing the knife again.
"John, stop this!" Sherlock ordered. "Stop!"
But John swung the knife again; this time, he sliced a hole in the sleeve of Sherlock's shirt, just missing his skin.
Sherlock now retreated again, trying to back out the front door of the flat, but John lunged with the knife a third time. Sherlock collided with the door instead, falling over. He then had to scramble away from John in an ungainly crabwalk as the knife came down for the fourth time.
Sherlock got to his feet again, now running for his life. Unfortunately, he ran right into the kitchen—a dead end.
"John, don't do this!" he pleaded, but his voice fell upon seemingly deaf ears as John approached him, knife still in his right hand. "Please!"
He could've counted the number of times he had said "please" and meant it on one hand—and oh, did he ever mean it now.
And despite its significance, the "please" apparently meant nothing to John, who now seized Sherlock by the shirt front with his left hand, as though ensuring that he would not escape this time.
Sherlock grabbed John's right wrist as he swung down with the knife again; John just gritted his teeth in frustration and tried to bring the blade down as Sherlock struggled desperately to keep the blade away from him. The two of them struggled across the kitchen in some sort of macabre dance.
"John…!" Sherlock exclaimed, trying to grab onto the counter with his free hand in order to gain some leverage.
But his hand, drenched in sweat, slipped, instead landing on the handle of the silverware drawer; as Sherlock put his weight on it, the drawer pulled open, and the sudden shift in his center of gravity sent Sherlock tumbling towards the ground, a rain of forks and spoons landing with him. His grip on John's wrist was released as he fell; Sherlock was certain that John would use this moment to attack again, but between the counter and the fridge, there was no easy way to dive aside.
But the knife in John's hand now clattered to the floor in front of Sherlock, as well. The detective looked up; his eyes had adjusted to the dim light enough for him to see John's expression. A dawning comprehension was now filling the doctor's eyes, as though he was only now just realizing who was in his flat.
"…Sherlock…?" he whispered. "Sherlock…!?"
The detective didn't move, still staring up at John with a horrified, frightened expression on his face.
For a split second, it was as though everything was as it should've been. John was staring at Sherlock in wide-eyed wonder, a mixture of emotions on his face as the doctor was sent emotionally reeling before the detective's eyes. This was the reaction that the detective had been expecting.
But as Sherlock looked on, John dropped to the floor in a dead faint, thankfully missing the knife and fork prongs.
The detective was inhaling and exhaling rapidly, trying to recover from what happened while being simultaneously concerned for John. Slowly, so as to make sure that John really was unconscious and not faking it in order to get in a sneak attack, he made his way to the doctor's side.
He spent a moment checking John's breathing and his pulse to confirm that, yes, John had just fainted. Instinct took over; even after what John had just tried to do to him, Sherlock knew he couldn't just leave him lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Gently, he picked him up, heading across the flat; he was halfway to the sofa before he gave his head a shake and, instead, put John to bed.
Sherlock left immediately after that—left the room, and headed straight out the front door of the flat, closing it behind him.
And it was there, in the corridor, that the full weight of what had just happened came crashing down upon him.
Doctor John H. Watson, the man who had been Sherlock's faithful blogger and best friend for eighteen months—and had mourned him for countless more months—had just tried to kill him.