Pill bottles on the table.
Prescriptions for pain and depression, no doubt.
There is much less clutter now, though the place still retains a healthy amount of junk.
The books are slightly askew on the top most shelves –though straight where the good doctor could reach, and some are still stacked up on tables and in the corners of the room.
The furniture has been moved.
A new flat screen television sits in the corner, one chair facing it.
In fact, most of the things still remaining in the flat are his.
His moth collection in the center of the mantle, flanked by his skull, and that awful terracotta soldier statue he'd been given one year for Christmas.
His old Walkman and its headphones still grace the bull's skull on the wall.
His case files are still on the table beside his chair.
The smiley face filled with bullet holes still has residence on the wall, seemingly untouched at first glance.
Upon closer inspection, however, one notices the change in depth of the holes.
Someone has perfectly replicated each shot three or four times.
The mark of a soldier, hitting his target with every shot.
There is a pillow and several blankets on one end of the couch.
Indications that someone has been sleeping there far more often than is normal.
The kitchen, in contrast to the living room, is completely devoid of all things his.
Save for his mug on the drying rack.
Two cups of tea are still being made, then.
A hand covers a mouth to hold in a sob when his eyes once again rest on his chair.
He can see it now.
The image of the lone occupant of this flat curled up, crying.
The cane that had once been abandoned propped against the arm-rest each time he sat down.
He shook now.
He shook now.
Violent tremors wracking his body.
The door slammed shut downstairs, the uneven gait of a man with a cane, shattering the utter silence of the building.
A man entered the room slowly.
He had expected violence, passion, astonishment, some sort of response at all.
Or rather, to be completely ignored.
The man who had fallen felt it all happening again.
It was a whisper.
There was a pause, as the other man stilled.
Laughter filled the space.
Not the laughter of joy, or happiness.
But broken, sharp, pain-filled laughter.
The former doctor turned, looking at him with that stupid grin of his firmly in place.
"Hello Sherlock. Nice to see you again."
Another fit of laughter, this set verging on giggles.
"You picked a fine day to turn up. The third anniversary of your death."
The detective was confused, his chest burned with emotion, bile rising in his throat as realization struck him.
"It's a fitting day for me to finally go mad. I'm just glad that you look in one piece. Well, mostly one piece, I was half expecting that the last image my mind would conjure would be the last one I saw of you."
The one of him a bloodied mess on the ground.
The one of him a corpse on the ground.
The one of his headstone.
"I was so alone and I owe you so much."
"You're looking thicker than I remembered; more muscular. Maybe I'm just subconsciously enhancing your appearance. Your hair is shorter too. It looks good, I suppose, although I miss the way your hair curled over your forehead."
John shrugged, tapping his cane and hobbling into the kitchen.
"Fancy a cuppa?"
Sherlock couldn't move.
This was wrong.
Desperate now, pleading.
"Really, you were so much more articulate in life, Sherlock. Then again, that was a word you used more than any other. It makes sense then, that I'd remember every way you'd say my name. Each little inflection. Each breath you'd take when you'd speak. Spent everything I had trying to memorize that speech you gave. Your note you called it."
By this point the doctor had started the kettle and had opened a box of Pimms.
The same kind as he had given Sherlock three years ago.
The night they had admitted to loving each other.
Sherlock watched John, his John, going about such a mundane task, chatting so calmly.
"My therapist would be appalled, I'm sure. Trust issues and I'm opening up to a figment of my imagination. You know, it took me over a month to even admit that you were dead."
The kettle whistled, and he poured his mug, carrying it to the living room and taking his seat.
He gestured to Sherlock's chair.
"Sit. It belongs to you after all."
There was another of those sharp, painful laughs.
"I wouldn't let anyone touch that chair for a year. Until your brother came, and tried to convince me to leave Baker Street. He just propped himself in it and waited for me to come home."
That smile again, one of nostalgia.
"I was so cross that I flat out punched him. Broke the nose of the British Government, if you can believe it."
Sherlock moved slowly, crouching in front of the doctor, studying him.
The doctor rolled his eyes.
"See there? That is the I-don't-know-how-dangerous-this-is-I-must-be-caref ul, John. You used it at the pool. That seems like so long ago, doesn't it? Nearly five years. Before Irene Adler, and Henry at Baskerville."
There was a pause, the doctor once again lost in his memories.
"I miss you, you know. More than you could imagine. I wrote you letters, and emails. I never sent them, though. Can't message a dead man."
His features changed then, his lip trembling dangerously, eyes shining with un-shed tears.
He coughed, squaring his shoulders and staring forward.
"Why did you do it Sherlock? I have spent so much time trying to puzzle through it."
A pause, as Sherlock contemplated speaking.
Words seemed to fail him.
"At first I thought Moriarty had forced you. That he had been holding a gun to your head, telling you to jump."
"I got a copy of the case report, though. His estimated time of death was earlier than yours, not later. You had his confession on tape; your name could have been cleared. Logically, you had no reason to kill yourself."
He hung his head, defeated.
"So then it hit me. As in, it must have been me. Something that I'd said. Something I'd done. I thought that maybe you'd felt trapped, or cornered. Or your hatred of sentiment had caught up with you. Maybe it was the shame of being constantly associated with me. Hindered by me."
He scoffed, looking up to meet the pained eyes of the consulting detective.
"You could have told me, you know. That you didn't love me. I'd have understood. There were more ways out than suicide."
Sherlock could only sit there and blink.
The detective's heart was shattered, ground, and marred.
He had no idea to what extent he had broken his blogger.
Sherlock's brain went into overdrive.
Speech was offline, but evidence, evidence he had in abundance.
He unbuttoned his coat, slowly, pulled off his scarf, and shrugged the items onto the floor.
Around his neck hung a titanium ring on a silver chain.
A match to the ring John Watson wore on his finger.
John simply shook his head.
"It figures that you'd have that. They couldn't find it on your body. Molly even looked for it. I had thought you'd thrown it, left it somewhere. It's the thing that showed we were together. You must've hated it."
Sherlock was now on the verge of tears himself.
"John, please. Listen. I'm here. Really here."
"A full sentence with exactly what I wanted to hear. That's it, then. I've lost it."
There was the soft clicking of heels on wood as Mrs Hudson walked in.
"Yoo-hoo. John! I brought tea-"
"Thanks Mrs Hudson. Bring it up."
"Do you have company? I thought I heard you talking."
John shook his head.
"Nope, only mad old me up here, talking to myself."
Mrs Hudson rounded the corner.
"Oh, you've not gone –"
A crash, as the tea service fell to the floor.
Mrs Hudson stood in the doorway; her hand clutching her chest, another clamped over her mouth.
"Sher-John! Who is this, it can't be."
She was shaking, her eyes pooling with tears.
She took a tentative step forward, reaching out.
The doctor was up, beside his landlady.
"No one is here. Just me."
"Mrs Hudson. It is me, Sherlock. It's over. It's all over now. I'm back. Alive."
The woman looked at the detective as though he were a ghost.
A specter returned to haunt her.
John followed her gaze, his own eyes resting on the figment of his imagination.
Watching it interact with his landlady.
He turned to her, confused.
"Mrs Hudson? Who are you talking to?"
She stared at her tenant, aghast.
"It's Sherlock, John. He's back."
John spun around, eyes wide, mouth locked open.
"You can see him too?"
With those words, John Watson's world went black.