"The Yard called with a new case", John said to the detective, who was sitting by the window where the sunlight was playing upon his curly, white hair.
Sherlock put down the book he had been reading – a strange one called The Lost World, written by an author of whom John had never even heard. Sherlock had started passing his time reading novels only six months ago, after finally accepting he was too old for beekeeping. The memory of that painful day, when operating the crank of the honey extractor had given him a heart attack, still made John shiver. Five hours he had spent sitting at Sherlock's bedside, listening to the sounds of the ECG monitoring and the respirator. Although determined to stay with Sherlock until the very end, he had known that he would not be able to live without him – not for a second time. It would wreck him. When the detective's eyes had finally opened again and he had smiled up at him, John Watson had been the happiest man in the world.
"The one with the mysterious blue ribbon?" Sherlock asked with a glance out the window at the blossoming apple trees. "I read it in the paper this morning. Easy one. It was the gardener."
John could not help smiling. He let go of the door handle, shifted his weight onto his walking cane and limped over to the detective's chair, musing about how much after all those years, all the troubles and quarrels they had gone through, he still loved him.
He let himself slide down to the floor until, despite the pain in his knee and knowing he would have major difficulties getting up again, he sat on the rug at Sherlock's feet, and laid the cane aside. He adjusted the slightly askew blanket on the detective's lap, placed his head on it and said, "So explain it to me, you impossibly brilliant man. How did you work it out?"
"Oh, it was easy", Sherlock repeated with emphasis. "The ribbon they found was not a part of the murderer's clothes as everyone thought. It was from a florist's shop where her lover had bought her a bouquet of flowers. An expensive thing wrapped in fancy paper, embellished with bows and adornments. The blue ribbon was found under the corpse. That means the lover was lying when he said he had come to visit her and found her dead. She had obviously received the flowers from him before she died. She probably unwrapped them and put them into a vase. The blue ribbon came off and landed on the floor. Then she was stabbed, she fell and buried the ribbon under her body."
"Fine", John commented.
It took him a while to follow Sherlock's train of thought. He could not fend off the impression that something in the detective's reasoning was wrong. But his own brain had become a little slow over the years and he could not quite grasp it.
"But don't you think …" he murmured thoughtfully. "Didn't you … Didn't you say the killer was the gardener? All the evidence you just specified suggests that she was murdered by her lover. And he has nothing to do with gardening, if I remember correctly."
"Yes, of course", Sherlock answered. His legs began to shift and tremble under the blanket. Softly John patted the detective's knees, and the uneasy movements stilled.
"That was because of the fairies."
"The what?" John huffed out a laugh into the sunlit warmth of the sitting room. "Fairies?"
"Yes, the fairies. Didn't you notice them?"
"On the photograph in the newspaper. Come on, it was impossible to overlook them. They were all over the place. Only gardeners have access to fairies. Therefore –"
"Sherlock?" John blinked in confusion, lifted his chin from the detective's lap and looked up. Sherlock was still gazing out the window, his expression unreadable, his pale eyes twitching to and fro. It was only now, while supporting himself with his hands on the arms of the chair to get up, that John noticed the book the detective was holding in his hands was still open at page one, where there was nothing to read but the title and year of publishing.
With an audible creak he straightened his knees, put his hands on the detective's shoulders and forced Sherlock to look at him.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes, of course I am", Sherlock said insistently. "Just a little distracted, that's all. But thanks for asking anyway, Mr …"
The beautiful, intense eyes did their pondering movement again. After a few seconds they came to a rest on John's face, but remained empty.
"Who … Who are you?"
Author's note: Thanks to Davina for proof reading.