The doorbell rang. The porch light was out and Mrs. Hudson had forgotten to buy a new light bulb. Wondering who could be visiting given it was almost 9 o'clock, she dragged her slippers and opened the door. A man who looked like a tourist was standing there.
"Yes? How can I help you?"
The man took a step closer, pulling his luggage, and walked into the flat. The door closed shut and Mrs. Hudson was about to scream for help when a low voice stopped her.
"It's me, Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock Holmes."
The man opened her flat door wider so that the lighting of her sitting room can illuminate himself. The intruder had just flung off his glasses, a wig, and a hat: pale skin, protrusion of the cheekbones, the green eyes, curly dark hair. The man sheepishly said something, which was meaningless noise. A bottomless darkness engulfed her and she just lost it.
She found herself lying on her sofa with a shawl covering on her body. She must have hallucinated as it wasn't possible to see him again. She had attended his funeral three years ago.
I might have dozed off while watching telly.
She thought and sat up, feeling very thirsty. A low voice stopped her immediately.
"Are you all right? Don't stand up. What do you need? Here's a glass of water."
She jumped at this. Her eyes found the man, her former tenant, sitting on her armchair.
"Am I dreaming still?"
"No, Mrs. Hudson. It's me. Sherlock. I came back."
Sherlock gently placed the water glass in front of her and kneeled before her. He looked thinner and paler; his skin looked almost translucent.
"Are you really Sherlock?"
He wrapped her hands with his hands and squeezed them. His smile was almost sheepish.
"I'm flesh and blood."
Mrs. Hudson slapped the sleuth hard on his back. The sorrow of losing her boy turned into an anger when she finally registered the reality. Sherlock Holmes winced but didn't say anything.
"You naughty boy… How could've done to all of us? John was devastated. Greg Lestrade, too. When we were told why you had jumped, we were all wrecks. Oh, Sherlock. I am so sorry."
"All is well. Mrs. Hudson. Don't."
Something snapped; she started to sob severely. Her frail body shuddered. Sherlock held her gently, and whispered.
"I'm so sorry that I couldn't say anything. I had to fake my death."
"We knew, we knew...why you had died... We just wished you hadn't."
The landlady wept,
"It's just I am so happy to see you again, Sherlock."
"I missed you, Mrs. Hudson."
Hiccupping, she managed to snarl: at least she thought she did.
"Don't you dare to pull this stunt again, promise, son."
"Yes, I swear."
Mrs. Hudson's mothering instinct kicked in. She wiped her nose and eyes with her sleeves, not caring that she was wearing a new nightgown.
"Did you have dinner?"
"I'll fix you something. Don't go anywhere."
Sherlock gave an assuring smile.
"This is my home, Mrs. Hudson. Where can I go?"
She couldn't say anything. Sherlock looked puzzled at the silence. He swallowed hard, and asked in a small voice.
"I can move in today, can't I?"
She nodded, and disappeared into her kitchen. After minutes, she brought a tray of tea, bread and jam, slices of cheese, and apples.
"I need to go to Tesco tomorrow. Oh, I need to fill your refrigerator, too. Sherlock, when you go upstairs, put the freezer plug to the power outlet."
Sherlock didn't decline food that Mrs. Hudson put on his plate. He chewed slowly, and tried to finish his portion.
"Your brother has been paying for the upstairs flat. Does he know you're alive? He knew, didn't he?"
"Mycroft couldn't say anyting to you."
"How can he put on a façade of indifference in front of John while he saw how John suffered?"
Her voice couldn't hide the accusation, and Sherlock knew it would take ages for his brother to be allowed into the building. He didn't defend his brother anymore, but changed the topic abruptly because that was his priority concern now. The detective asked in a voice with a fake nonchalance.
"How's John? He doesn't live here."
It wasn't a question, but a statement.
"His therapist advised him to move out. Too much painful memory, here. John told me that he said something to you that he really shouldn't have that morning when he got a fake call from a paramedic. After we knew there had been killers trained on us, he was more depressed. He hated himself for not being there with you at the moment that you needed him the most. It was almost a miracle that he met Mary."
"So this Mary person helped John to move on. Good."
He tried to hide his disappointment. He wasn't sure why he felt in that way. It should be a good thing that his friend was able to move on, getting over his death. Mrs. Hudson didn't notice the subtle change of his voice tone. She continued on and on about how John and Mary had met, how John got his job at a practice, and so on. Sherlock listened in silence, absorbing the information if necessary. Mrs. Hudson asked,
"And the DI..."
"I've just seen him at his place. Mrs. Hudson, there is one thing that I have to ask."
"Anything, my dear boy."
"John can't know that I'm alive. The sniper that had been trained on him was still out there. I need a few more days, then I will see John..."
The landlady was about to object, but Sherlock hastily added,
"For his own safety."
Mrs. Hudson fell silent, nodded gravely, jotted down the address and gave the note to the detective. Her voice was stern.
"When everything settles, Sherlock, you really have to go and see John. He suffered."
Sherlock said, and glanced at his watch.
"It's almost ten o'clock. You must be tired. I'll go upstairs. Ah, this is for you, Mrs. Hudson."
Sherlock held out a duty-free bag of Darjeeling tea boxes that Mycroft's assistant had given him a few moments before.
"You really don't have to... Sherlock. I'm so happy that you're back. I'll see you tomorrow at 8:00 for breakfast. Take this waterbottle with you. There's nothing upstairs."
After seconds of hesitation, it just slipped out of his mouth.
"It's great to be home, Mr. Hudson."
Sherlock took the water bottle and walked upstairs to his flat. She was cleaning away the tray when she heard a shout from upstairs.
She walked out to the staircase and asked,
"Where's Billy? The skull?"
"John took it."
Mrs. Hudson smiled. Over that night, Sherlock didn't realize that his landlady sneaked a visit three times upstairs just to check on him, to be assured that he was still there.
I hope you enjoyed the stories:-) Thanks for reading. Comments are very appreciated.