It was late evening when I finally got back to Baker Street. I'd spent a lot of time in the grave yard that day, just sitting and thinking and then I had wandered all over the city. I found myself walking around all of our favourite places...I stopped outside Angelo's on the way home and looked in through the window at that table where we had sat on our first night together. Angelo saw me and waved me in. But I shook my head and walked away. I didn't think I would be able to keep my composure if I went in there.
I walked home. Mrs Hudson was waiting for me. She offered me a cup of tea. I declined. I didn't think I could eat or drink anything and manage to keep it down. No, I needed to grieve all over again. I walked up the steps, counting them off as I went. I don't know why I did that exactly, but it was just one of those habits that don't make any sense. I put my key in the lock and noticed that the door was unlocked. I was a bit surprised, but not much. I figured that I must have forgotten to lock the door on my way out.
I walked in and hung up my coat. I turned on the lights and then I froze...I saw Sherlock lying on the couch. He seemed to be asleep. My first thought was that I had finally gone around the bend. I was seeing things that simply couldn't be true...or could they? My heart was pounding in my chest and my legs felt wobbly. I made my way over to the couch and put my hand on his arm. It felt warm and solid, so it had to be real right? He had to be real.
I don't know how long I stood there and watched him...I noted the steady rise and fall of his chest, the thin arms and legs, the bruises on his arms and his face. What is going on? Is Sherlock really here? Am I losing my mind? Why does he look so thin? And what's with all the bruises? Who the hell has been treating him this way?
I sank to the floor beside the couch and sat there looking at him. I was overwhelmed by what I was feeling. There was shock. If this was real, if he was real, then Sherlock had faked his own death...the bastard...the brilliant bastard. So that phone call, the ridiculous admission of guilt, it was all a bloody set up. There was anger. He'd let me go a whole year thinking he was dead. How could he do that? Why would we do that? Didn't he know how hurt I would be? How much pain and agony he would put me through? Maybe he didn't know. I never exactly said anything to him, did I? That still doesn't make it alright. But he's back. Isn't this the miracle that I've asking for? So there was joy as well...so much of it that I could barely contain myself.
I don't know how long I sat there looking at that beloved face as he slept. Despite all our closeness, I had only seen Sherlock asleep a couple of times. It is quite a sight. I mean Sherlock is all action and energy. Awake, he's either talking nonstop and rushing around in a blur of activity or staring glumly at nothing wondering when the next case will come along. It is only when he's asleep that he looks truly peaceful. All the lines of his face are smoothed out, there's a hint of a smile and it is as if the years fall away from him. He looks very young and innocent, more a boy than a man really.
Slowly, the shock wore off. I was able to accept that Sherlock really was alive and back home, sleeping peacefully. I had got my miracle. I sat there asking myself all the questions that I wanted to ask him and I came up with answers that were far from satisfactory. I was torn between joy and anger so that when he finally woke up, I didn't know whether to hug him or to hit him.
He saw me the moment he opened his eyes. There was a flicker of something there that I did not recognise. "Hello John." He said softly and then he smiled. It was a very tentative smile, almost as if he was unsure of his welcome. That smile did me in. Sherlock Holmes is the most confident and self assured man I have ever met. Tentative does not suit him at all. No matter what he had done, he should not have to doubt his welcome on his own home...There will never be a day when I will not be glad to see Sherlock and he had better know it, I thought. So I sat on the couch, took his hand in my own and I just looked at him.
"I'm sorry." He said after a bit.
"You better be. And you'd also better have a damn good explanation for all the shit you've put me through."
He nodded. I was angry. I was hurt and confused, but at that moment the only thing that mattered to me was that Sherlock was back in my life. He sat up and winced. He was obviously in pain. I decided that all the questions and explanations could wait. I had to attend to him first.
"We can talk later and trust me, we will talk, but I want to deal with all your injuries first. Get your shirt off. I'll go get my kit."
He nodded and started undoing the buttons of his shirt. I went up to my room and picked up my medical kit. I walked back down and saw him sitting on the couch looking distinctly uncomfortable. I was taken aback by how thin he was. Clearly he hadn't been eating often or enough. Not sure why I'm surprised by that. It's not like he ever used to eat properly unless I was forcing him to. What concerned me more was the sight of all the bruises on his shoulders and his back. There was a gash on his left shoulder...it looked like someone had gone at him with a knife. It was a thought that made me really angry.
I walked up to the couch and pulled the coffee table closer and put my medical kit on it. Sherlock was staring at me intently. "I expected you to be really angry." He said.
"I am. But I'm also really glad that you're back. Life without you is rather tame." I said as I laid out my supplies...the spirit and the bandages, the antiseptic, the sutures even. That shoulder wound looked like it might need stitching.
"I expected you to punch me, call me lots of names and then kick me out." The tone of his voice suggested that he thought he deserved that kind of treatment.
"I might yet do all of that...apart from the kicking you out." I said and then I started cleaning the bruises on his face. I was bursting with questions. I wanted to make indignant demands for an explanation, but he looked so battered and in so much pain, that the doctor in me won out. I had to fix him first. I would do the yelling later. I said as much to him and I got a faint smile in response.
"When was the last time you ate?"
"Um...I don't remember."
"Of course you don't." I said and then I got my phone out of my pocket.
"Chinese?" I said.
I called our regular Chinese takeaway and placed an order and then I got back to work.
"Who's been doing this to you?" I said as I cleaned the wounds on his arms. Most of them looked like they were a few days old. They clearly hadn't been attended to.
"Moriarty's minions." He said.
"Figures. So is that what you've been doing? Trying to destroy his network?"
"Is it done?"
"Yes. As of last night."
"Is that why you came back?"
"That's the only reason I stayed away."
I didn't know what to say to that. I asked him to turn around so I could look at the gash on his shoulder. It did need stitches.
"So are you officially alive now?"
"I will be."
"Okay. This wound on your shoulder is really deep. I need to stitch it. Just hold still alright."
It must have hurt like a bitch, but he stayed absolutely still and didn't make a sound. The food arrived just as I finished. I put the bags of take away on the table in the kitchen and washed up. Then I set out the plates and the bowls and served. Sherlock shrugged his shirt on and walked into the kitchen. He looked hesitant, almost as if he was waiting for an explosion. I won't deny that I was close to exploding. Now that I had no specific task to focus on, all the hurt and the anger and confusion rushed to the fore. But I had myself under control. I had decided that I would attend to him first and that included feeding him.
I didn't know what he would tell me in response to all my questions and how I would feel after that. And I didn't want to find out until he had some food inside him. I hadn't eaten all day either. "Let's just eat first. We'll talk later." I said. We ate in near complete silence. It wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Once we were done, I put the leftovers in the fridge and all the dishes in the sink. We settled down in the living room, Sherlock on the couch and me on my armchair. And we talked.
He told me everything. I tried to listen without interrupting but it was difficult. "Why the fake phone call about Mrs Hudson? I could have stayed with you. I could have helped."
"I was afraid Moriarty would find a way to use you against me, John. And I didn't want to put you in danger. It had to be just me and him."
I wasn't satisfied with that explanation, but I let him continue. When he told me why he was forced to jump off that building, I almost choked. And people call him heartless. And then he explained how he faked his death with Molly's help. While I was impressed with the brilliance and the simplicity of his plan I was furious that that Molly had known that he was alive all this time and I hadn't.
"Molly? She knew all this time and she didn't say a word. She saw what I was going through, how much I was hurting and she didn't say anything. I don't believe this!"
"I made her promise, John."
"Why? You had to go away and do what you had to do. You could at least have let me know that you were alive."
I couldn't. I was afraid that if you knew, you would follow me."
"Damn right I would have."
"You were being watched the whole time, John. If you had followed me, you would have let Moriarty's men right to me and defeated the whole purpose of this charade."
"Then you could have told me that and I would have stayed right here."
"Would you have? Be honest."
I didn't have an answer to that. "You could have died Sherlock. You were on your own."
"You already believed that I was dead." He said.
I was stunned. "I can't believe you just said that."
"I'm sorry, John. I didn't mean it that way. Please understand."
"I'm trying, Sherlock but this isn't easy. It's not easy at all. So who else knew?"
He didn't say anything to that. "Mycroft knew that you were alive, didn't he?"
Sherlock didn't say anything, but the look on his face was confirmation enough. I let loose a string of expletives and kicked the coffee table. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"It was necessary. I needed his help. I'm sorry John. I'm aware that I've hurt you, but I did the best I could given the circumstances."
"Maybe. But I still think you should have told me. We would have figured something out. I can't accept that there was no other way. I can't. I thought we were partners, that we were fighting Moriarty and everyone else together..."
"There was no other way, John." He insisted stubbornly. "I knew you would be hurt. But I assumed that you would move on after a couple of months. You are nothing if not resilient."
I couldn't fault him for thinking that I would move on. When had I said or done anything that might indicate otherwise? I sighed and put my head in my hands. "Well, I didn't move on. And it certainly wasn't for lack of trying..."