Since the beginning of his remembrance Bilbo Baggins had been gifted with the most extraordinary imagination. His dreams, of a world built on stone and buildings of sky-reaching metal and glass and brick gave way to games just as strange upon his waking. Ever a Tookish child for all he was a Baggins he would often be found in the forests searching for elves. However it was his games when he was not out among the trees that brought the occasional voicing of parental concern. He would call himself a doctor and with him an imaginary friend the Great Detective, and together they would solve all the little mysteries that a child could dream up.
His strange dreams and games would have been harmless enough but for the nightmares. On rare occasion the child would awaken with horrific screaming, howling strange words in no discernible language. Nothing done for him helped those nightmares, and it was a blessing that he did not remember them upon waking, but for fleeting impressions of soft, mad voices and blasts like fireworks.
He grew older, the nightmares grew less and the games faded away into the sedate adult life of a properly respectable hobbit. Despite the peace and tranquility he always felt as if something was missing from his life. There was an ache in his mind and soul that nothing he thought to do could fill. And so he grew used to the sensation of far off longing even as he grew ever more rooted and ever more restless at once. It felt often as if the world was pressing in around him, holding its breath and waiting for something significant to happen.
Then came Gandalf and the dwarves and with them the promise of adventure. But he was set in his ways by then, and not even the faint stirring that this was something he needed to do was enough to convince him to agree to be their burglar that evening. He woke to the house as silent as a tomb, a silence that stirred something deep within him and truly frightened him as much as any of his nightmares ever had and set off a sense of loss that had him reeling. Perhaps he should have gone on that adventure after all...
In that moment of indecision a voice, a flicker of a long forgotten dream or memory, whispered through his mind. The language was of none spoken in Middle Earth and yet he understood for it was the language spoken only in his dreams.
'It could be dangerous...' The deep baritone pounded through his head as the world crashed down around him, that longing flared in his chest, hot and alive and pulling him to the east. He gave no thought to resisting the call, only to following, to finding what would fill the aching hole he had lived with since birth.
The journey was hard, surprising him at every turn with how woefully inadequate he was. It roused a smoldering anger in him, realizing that he could not, did not know how to do things that at some base part of him he felt he should not merely know how to do but should have been easy. But he learned, and found his dreams growing more clear, more vivid, more detailed, with each passing day.
The dreams felt like memories now, and he would often awaken to the disorienting realization that he was not a human man, not battle worn and healed from injuries that in this world would have killed him...and that he was alone. For always his dreaming was with another, a man with eyes the color and chill of a winter sky, skin elven pale, curls black as night tumbling around high cheekbones and thin lips, and that voice that had summoned him right out his door. A man with an intellect and wit as keen as an elven blade. It was disorienting to remember all that, and to wake surrounded by dwarves.
He said nothing of these dreams, nothing of the pull to the east and the ache in his heart that grew stronger with each passing day. Not a word to the dwarves who were slowly gaining his trust and friendship, nothing to Gandalf who already had it, and nothing to the elves that looked upon the ever distracted hobbit with too knowing eyes. He did not see the way they all watched him, members of his own party included, for ever his eyes were drawn to the east, towards the pull in his soul that gave him the needed courage to go on.
After his first taste of battle and blood his dreams abruptly changed. The world that he thought he had imagined erupted into such violence that he knew he could not have hoped to have created it all himself. There was a strange comfort in the knowledge that the place in his mind was not pristine, a comfort that he took from realizing that he could not have dreamed up that world that was so very very real. Yet the violence made the man he was in his dreams all the stronger, a strength that did not carry over to the waking world, did not carry over to his shaking hands upon his small sword's hilt. The part of himself that was slowly feeling more and more like the man from his dreaming world despised the weakness.
It took the near death of Thorin to throw open the final lock on the door in his mind separating dreams from reality. The dwarf he had befriended, come to respect, was thrown upon the ground, dazed and bleeding, dark hair obscuring his face from the hobbit's angle. Bilbo saw another in his mind, the pale eyed man that haunted his dreaming world. Protective fury roared hot within him, drowning out his fear. With hands entirely steady, he hauled himself up the tree and charged the orc stalking towards Thorin. The charge and a lunge gave his small body enough momentum to drag the larger creature to the ground.
The air crackled with flame and within him something snapped into place, and drowned out Bilbo Baggins. It was John Watson in his hobbit's body grimly driving his sword through the orc's heart with a surgeon's precision. It was John Watson that leapt without backward glance from the creature whose life he had just taken to face the rest of the pack to protect his fallen friend; John Watson who stared down Azog the Defiler, realized that as a tiny hobbit with a tiny sword he had no chance but never once let the fear show or his blade waver.
That moment of perfect clarity was shattered by the arrival of the eagles. No longer John Watson, but not entirely Bilbo Baggins either, though more the latter than the former. But his hands did not begin to shake again and Bilbo stood his watch over Thorin until the dwarf had been borne away. His turn came, and he barely had time to sheath his blade before surprisingly gentle talons bore him up and deposited him on the back of yet another eagle.
He was grateful for the length of the flight and that the distance and the beat of the greats bird's wings forestalled any conversation between members of the party. It gave him time to think, time to try to sort out his mind. He remembered now, remembered the whole of another life as a doctor, a soldier, a friend and flat mate to the man who haunted his heart and shared his dreams. It was impossible, this world of fantasy and that world of technology and yet...both worlds, both lives, both realities were real, as real as the feathers beneath his hands, and the bruises he could feel forming.
'….When you have eliminated that which is impossible, all that is left, however improbable, must be the truth.' that haunting sonorous voice echoed painfully though his mind. He clenched his hands into the eagle's feathers, burying his face in the soft warmth as memory coursed through him.
Sherlock...He'd been missing Sherlock. As if in response to being acknowledged the pull to the eastern lands flared, the ache in his chest responding in kind. In a daze he responded to the pain, not thinking as he grasped the lifelong ache in both mental hands and pulled it to him, telling it to stop, he knew, and if Sherlock was in this world he would find him. The pain stilled, and subsided back into the longing, and faintly, just faintly, anticipation before going dormant again. Shock flickered though him and he decided that it was high time to talk to Gandalf.
He did not have time to further examine the feeling as his eagle landed rather heavily and he was forced to make a quickly controlled exit or be dumped on the ground as it ducked its head. Immediately he looked to Thorin, Gandalf hovering over the unconscious dwarf and winced, a hand going to his head as medical knowledge centuries ahead of its time crashed into his brain. The sensation quickly faded and he was more Bilbo than ever as the dwarf regained consciousness, dragged himself upright, and confronted him with rather startling results.
It was a good deal later that evening before Bilbo got the chance to speak privately with Gandalf. If anyone could help him make sense of what seemed to be a past life, of his dreams and of the pull to the east it would be the wizard...as he wasn't even sure if Sherlock existed at the moment. He was tired of trying to figure it out, tired of trying to bear it alone now that he remembered half a lifetime spent at Sherlock's side. Even still, he waiting until the rest of the party was asleep before approaching the wizard; he sounded mad enough without bringing the dwarves opinions into it.
"G-Gandalf?" Bilbo began quietly, unsure of how to approach the subject that weighed so heavily on his mind.
The gray clad man turned and his pale eyes gave the Hobbit a brief glancing over before he spoke. "Yes, Mr. Baggins? Is something on your mind?"
The hobbit took a deep breath, then sat down beside the large wizard. "I've, um... erm, I wanted to talk to you... about when I was a boy..."
"Ah, yes," murmured the wizard, "I recall. I said before, I remember a child who longed for adventure. I dare say you've found it."
"Yes," Bilbo replied, laughing a bit, though that laugh had a touch of apprehension in it. "But... There's... There is something that I never told anyone about... And only Mother and Father, and, well, my grandfather, knew about it, really. It was... a bit embarrassing for our family to speak of it."
The wizard tilted his head, and leaned forward. The hobbit had his attention.
"Well," Bilbo went on, "When I was a lad, I had these... dreams. Every night, when I'd go to sleep, I would... dream of a different life. A life full of adventures, and in an... an entirely different world than this one." He closed his eyes, and as he spoke, the images of his dreams began to mold themselves in his head. "There were tall spires. Man-made buildings made of glass and metal, gleaming in the sun. A city- a large, sprawling, city, both ancient and brand new all at once- cut in half by a mighty river, and I lived there. I lived in that city."
"Hmm," mumbled Gandalf, as he took this in. "And...what was this city called, Bilbo? What name did you give it?"
"London." The name came out as if it was the most basic of knowledge. "London- old London Town- In the 'United Kingdom'. And my home was in a brick building at the heart of it."
"That sounds quite fantastical, my dear Bilbo," Gandalf said, though he did not sound as condescending as his words might imply. "And you said you had adventures? A United Kingdom sounds very peaceful to me."
"It- It could be but it wasn't," Bilbo told him. "So often, there were mysteries- missing people, robberies, attacks, murders, plots, schemes- All needing to be solved, and- and I- 'I' was in the thick of it. But... I... I wasn't 'me', me. If you understand."
The wizard nodded yes he did, then the Hobbit went on. "I was," he said, "I was always a man in these dreams. Taller than I am now, but still smaller than most. And I was brave. Oh, Gandalf, I'm so brave in the dreams!" he tells him with his heart beginning to pound faster as he recalls. "I'm a warrior in them- a soldier! A sharp-eyed marksman, and clever! A healer, too! I knew how to make the sick better! I could heal, but also..." His excitement began to dwindle. "I could kill."
"But...?" Gandalf prompted.
"But," Bilbo said, "I was trying to save people, as a soldier. And I only killed again once. To save my friend."
"You had a friend?" Gandalf asked, intrigued.
"Yes," Bilbo answered, his lips curling up in a smile. "And he... Oh, he was amazing. His intellect couldn't be measured, and his eyes could see EVERYTHING, Gandalf, they could see the smallest bit of detail and use it to tell a person their whole life's story, and he could figure out any puzzle or any mystery with just the smallest amount of information and clues. And," he let out a soft, snorting laugh through his nose, "He was an arrogant, egotistical, and oh-so annoying man, but I... I killed for him. And I was willing to die for him too. Because he made me feel alive. He was my best friend."
"And what name did this friend have?" Gandalf inquired.
"...Sherlock," the hobbit answered, the name said with affection and deep reverence, and a touch of longing that he always carried with him echoed in his voice. "Sherlock Holmes. The Great Detective, and my dearest friend."
Gandalf didn't respond right away. He looked at the little halfling with curiosity and interest before he let words come forth. "And you've had these dreams all of your life?"
"They were fragments, when I was young...but as we have continued on this journey they got stronger, clearer, something always pulling at me." Bilbo stared into the fire as he answered, "It got me out my door you know, those half forgotten dreams and that pull..." He trailed off.
"Bilbo?" The concern in the wizard's voice snapped the hobbit back to the present.
"I don't think they were dreams Gandalf." there was the faintest little tremor in his voice that he studiously ignored, "When I was protecting Thorin...I was that man from my dreams, I was John Watson and I was not afraid at all." He looked up at the wizard who was watching with wide eyes.
"What if...what if its Sherlock, pulling me to him? What if all of this is real and true and he's waiting for me? Is that even possible?" there was the real fear, that just because he felt it was real, just because he felt it was true, didn't mean it was.
Gandalf took a few puffs on his pipe before answering, his voice low and measured in the face of the hobbit's anxiety. "There are a great many stranger things than a soul returning for another life though it is a rare thing indeed...rarer still to share that privilege with another as you may be doing with this Mr. Holmes."
The wizard met the hobbit's gaze, "Perhaps, if you are truly sharing dreams with this man you can ask him yourself?" there might have been some sort of insincerity in his voice but Bilbo nodded.
"Sherlock would know better than me at any rate... Probably figured everything out by now." to the wizard's chagrin Bilbo seemed to have already made up his mind. The hobbit stood.
"Thank you Gandalf, Ill let you know how it went in the morning." Distracted yet again Bilbo went back to his sleep roll and settled down. If everything was real, and he didn't think his heart could take it if he made all this up, he would know as soon as he fell asleep, for everything would have changed now that he remembered it all. Despite nerves, it did not take long for the exhausted hobbit to drop into unconsciousness, and whatever awaited him there.