Setting: Four Months Post Reichenbach, 3:17 A.M., 221B Baker Street

It looked the same. Exactly and precisely the same as it had four months ago. Sherlock hadn't known what to expect when he tripped the lock on his old flat just minutes before, but it wasn't quite this. All of his possessions and things laid exactly the same way they had before, his skull still sat on the fireplace mantle, and the wall he had used for target practice on a bored day remained covered in bullet holes. Sherlock sighed and slowly shut the front door, locking it back, and turned to face the hall. He shed his coat and laid it across the arm of John's chair, pausing to breathe in the familiar scent the flat held nostalgically. It had been a long four months- a long, painful four months. Sherlock wandered around for a few more seconds before heading purposefully towards the room that had been his, but stopped to pause outside the shut door. From inside, he heard a faint, yet shockingly familiar snore. It hit him in the face like a freight train. John was sleeping in his room? Slowly and silently, as to not awaken the doctor, Sherlock opened the door and peered in. This room had hardly changed either- the only real difference was the man in Sherlock's bed and the endless amounts of envelopes piled on top of the desk in the corner. Sherlock carefully walked to the bedside and sat down on the floor, watching John.

And there he sat, wondering. About precisely what, he hadn't a clue, just wondering. John remained asleep, but had turned to face Sherlock in his sleep. Sherlock couldn't help but think about how peaceful the man looked. Maybe time without Sherlock had done the doctor good. After nearly an hour, Sherlock stood and wandered to the desk. Absentmindedly, he picked up one of the envelopes on the top of the stack. He glanced down at it, glanced back up, and then took a double take. The envelope was addressed to him, his name written in the familiar hand of John's. Going by the age of the ink and how easily the envelope popped open, Sherlock assumed the letter had been sealed and addressed earlier that day. Inside, a thick pack of folded pages sat. Sherlock un-folded them and checked the date at the top. He was right- the letter was dated that day. Under the date, still in John's handwriting, Dearest Sherlock, was written. Sherlock dared not read further, but instead shoved the letter back into the envelope and tossed it aside, digging under the stack to the bottom-most letter. He frantically tore it open, acting as if his life relied on what was in that envelope. He quickly unfolded the paper and settled into his chair, reading the letter dated four days after the jump.

Sherlock,

Well. Here I am. Writing you a letter. Honestly, it seems a bit too much, but the therapist said it would help. Said that writing down all of my feelings about you in a letter to you would help me get over the shock. If only she knew...

I don't want to talk about feelings, though. So what do I talk about? You know what, I can't write anymore. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. Just... know that I miss you. And I'm sorry. And I really miss you.

-John.

That was all that was written. Just those 91 words. Sherlock looked over to John and then back at the letters, questioning his authority to read them or not. After a moment, he replaced the first letter and retrieved the next. They were, after all, addressed to him. As the letters went on, they changed. John got less upset, and more angry, but began starting them with Dear Sherlock, and ending them with Love John. He was also becoming more brave every letter, and they stretched from 91 words to over 300. Sherlock kept reading through them all. Dear lengthened to Dearest, and Love to Love Always about a third through them, and then, finally, there was only one letter left. Just one.

Dearest Sherlock,

Here I am. Still writing letters. But I've decided now- It's time. It's taken four months to man up and do this, but I drank tonight, and the alcohol has made me brave. But what has made me brave has also made what I have been blind to these past few months glaringly obvious. You aren't coming back. These past four months, I've been holding on tight to everything of you I can because I couldn't accept it, you know, the whole idea of life without you. I thought that... that if anyone could fake a death like that, you could, so I hoped. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second has been filled with that hope and tonight I realize it was stupid. So, so stupid to believe you were coming back.

But like I said, I may be slightly drunk, and if, tonight, I accept you are dead and gone, then there should be no reason for me to not get everything else inside of me that is about you out. So here it is: why I hoped.

I hoped because I love you.

What a word that is- love. It can mean so many things. I could love you like Molly loves you, like Mycroft loves you, like Mrs. Hudson loves you, or like Irene loved you. But the thing is, I don't love you like any of that. I love you like I, Me, John, loves you. To the end of the universe and back as many times as you wanted, even though you don't know any of those planets' names. I would teach you their names. So there it is. I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. Forever, and ever, and always. But I'm sorry that it's taken this long for me to grow the balls to tell you. We could have had so much. But alas, it is gone. So tonight, I stop these letters. I have a feeling this letter was the only one the therapist wanted me to write. Maybe she knew. Who knows? I certainly won't. Oh well. It is done. I'm sorry. I miss you. I love you. I wish you were here. Goodbye.

Love Always,

Your John.

Sherlock set the letter down gently. His heart ached- it was a strange feeling. One he wasn't familiar with. He lifted a hand to brush the hair out of his face, but when his hand met his cheek, he found it wet. He quickly wiped his eyes- was he crying? Crying. That was new. Suddenly, he launched himself up, shoving the desk back towards the wall, the chair crashing loudly to the ground. What was this? This, this... This feeling? How absurd it was. He had never in his life cared for someone other than himself before, and suddenly, here he was, shedding tears over a letter. A letter. He picked the letter up once more, staring at it- acknowledging it's meaning in the real sense for the first time.

"Oh John." Sherlock sighed, for the first time feeling lost for words.

"Who the hell are you and how the hell did you get in." The string of words was not a question, not a suggestion, not even a statement. They were a demand. Slowly Sherlock turned. Standing directly behind him, visible only by the moonlight streaming in from the window, stood a small man in a dressing gown, a gun held in his right hand, pointed at Sherlock's head. John. Sherlock was all of a sudden struck with fear. This wasn't supposed to happen- he wasn't done. It was supposed to be a quick visit, a check-in, done without the knowledge of anyone else. But it was spoiled- ruined. John knew. In the time Sherlock had taken to draw the conclusion that his stint of hiding was over, John's hand never moved a muscle. Slowly, Sherlock reached up. John cocked the gun.

"John, I know this may be confusing and upsetting, and unsettling to you, and I know you've been drinking tonight, so I'm just going to ask you to put the gun down and let me talk to you." Sherlock said slowly.

"You're dead. I'm talking to a ghost. You are dead. I am hallucinating. You are dead, this isn't real." John repeated, moving his finger to the trigger. Sherlock began to panic- yet another new feeling to him- he'd never been in proper, real panic before.

"No, John. I'm alive, you're awake, it's all a big mess. I'll fix it though. I made a mistake. I'm sorry. I'm alive. Please. John." He stuttered, the words falling out in a jumbled mess.

"Sherlock Holmes is dead."

"John Hamish Watson, I am telling you. I. Am. Alive."

"You can't be. I was there. I saw. You're dead."

"No, John, you never believed that. You knew I would find you eventually. You knew it. You knew there was no way I would leave you like that. For a normal person, you're so incredibly smart. Please, trust me. I'm alive."

John's hand began to tremble. He was loosing focus, Sherlock could see it. John was beginning to get it. He could see it in the man's eyes. Slowly, Sherlock extended his still raised arm, keeping a careful eye on the finger wrapped around the trigger. All it would take was a squeeze, yet the finger remained still. Sherlock's hand finally reached John's upper arm. He grasped it gently.

"John. I'm here." He said, meeting John's eyes. For a few tense seconds, the two of them remained locked in their gazes. Then, something broke. John's hand started to shake uncontrollably, and tears began to well up in his eyes. Sherlock pulled John toward him, wrapping him in his arms and burying his face in John's messy, overgrown hair. The gun clattered to the ground, going off when it hit the ground. John's arms folded around Sherlock, and Sherlock held him tighter. The lights in the surrounding apartments began flashing on, one by one, and frantic footsteps echoed up the steps. Mrs. Hudson's voice carried into the flat, the pure terror in it evident.

"John! John talk to me! Come out! John! John!" She shrieked. Sherlock sighed heavily into John.

"They were blanks."