Sherlock would never admit it to John, but his Mind Palace was not actually a palace. It was a house1.
A palace was not a home in the same way a house could be called a home. Sherlock's mind was inarguably his second4 home (after No. 221B Baker St London, Greater London NW1 6XE, UK) and so "palace" was not entirely accurate. Sherlock Homes was no ordinary man – it was not a boast, merely a factual statement – however, in matters of personal presentation he was very ordinary indeed.
When Sherlock said, "I need to go to my Mind Palace." He did in fact mean "palace". Mind Palace simply sounded better than a Mind House. "Might be a few hours."
John looked up from his newspaper. There was familiar warmth in the way he rolled his eyes. "Don't forget to take your coat." John quipped, and returned his attention to the paper in his hands.
"I probably won't make it in time for supper." Sherlock said and didn't add that he fixed the heating. John didn't really understand the physical/mental aspects of the Mind Palace.
John nodded without looking up from his newspaper. "I'll head by to Jenny's, then."
Sherlock didn't know who Jenny was, so he made a mental note to pass through and see what had changed in John's Room (previously The Armoury, previously The Music Room). Sherlock closed his eyes, and began to concentra-
Sherlock opened his eyes. He was no longer in his sitting room with John, but standing on the house's doorsteps. In here it was only a house. Personal presentations did not mean much inside one's own mind. Here, the only person Sherlock had to impress was himself. The house's only function was to store Sherlock's memories, everything in it arranged to be straightforward and neat. Sherlock had no patience for metaphors.
He faced the main door. Sherlock's fingertips ghosted over his family tree, engraved into the wood. His fingers lingered on some of the names (Holmes, Violet. Holmes, [illegible]. Holmes, Mycroft. Holmes, Sherlock. Watson, John H.) before Sherlock closed his hand over the door handle and pushed his way ins-
Sherlock opened his eyes. They hurt; dry, flaking, and unaccustomed to the light. He closed them to ward off the pain. His head hurt, thumping as if he spent too much time in bed, and his muscles ached as if he hadn't used them in a while.
Eyes still closed, Sherlock observed:
1. He was not in his Mind Palace anymore (pain.)
2. He was in the hospital (lying on his back on an unfamiliar bed, the smell of antiseptic, the IV attached to his arm and, mortifyingly, he appeared to be wearing a diaper.)
3. John was there with him (all too familiar snores.)
His deductions proved correct when Sherlock's eyes finally opened. He was indeed not in his Mind Palace anymore, but lying in a hospital bed (a private hospital, from the look of it). Most importantly, John was indeed there with him.
John was fast asleep, sitting curled up on himself at Sherlock's side. His arms were crossed over his chest and head slumped so low Sherlock could only see the top of his head. The posture did not seem too comfortable, and John's shoulder would surely complain later.5
"John?" Sherlock said, and winced, because his mouth was dry and his voice rasping.
John woke with a start. He stared befuddled at Sherlock for several long moments.
"Hello," John said very softly. "About time you came back to us, Sherlock."
Sherlock mulled this over. "Is it safe to say I've missed supper then?"
John laughed softly. "I started to get worried after the first ten suppers, see."6
Sherlock tried to sit, alarmed at having lost so much time. John's hand on his shoulder stopped him. "How many days?" He demanded. A water glass sat atop the bedside table (John's) and he reached for it, drowning it gratefully before imploring, "John?"
"Thirteen days." John replied. "I didn't think much of it at first, but when I got home that morning and you still hadn't moved...." John squeezed Sherlock's shoulder. "What happened?"
Sherlock didn't know. Brows knitted, he hesitated a moment before speaking. "I think I got lost."
Shortly thereafter, Sherlock's private hospital room became a battlefield of activity. Sherlock was examined, poked and prodded by one medical expert after another. They told him nothing he did not already know, but continued to flash their torches in his eyes, made him follow their fingers' movement and asked him a variety of useless questions.
"How should I know who the Prime Minister is?" Sherlock snapped finally.
John, thankfully, never left his side. "That's fine," John assured the frowning Neurologist. "That's normal for him. Sherlock, what's the, ah," John stopped and thought for a moment, "twenty-third element on the periodic table?"
"Vanadium," Sherlock answered immediately.
"Okay. And can you tell me all the streets adjacent to Dorset Street?"
Sherlock recited, "Clay, Rodmarton, Montagu Mansions, Montagu Row, Broadstone, Kenrick, Chittern and of course, Baker Street." Sherlock sighed hugely. "Is this quite necessary?"
"Mycroft7 spares no expenses." John said with a smile. "Looks like he already knows you woke up. He just texted me, says he's on his way."
Sherlock frowned. Something in John's words did not compute, though he knew it should.
"Who's Mycroft?" Sherlock asked.
1 Semantics, some2 would argue. What made a house a palace? The Mind Palace's structure was the same as Sherlock's boyhood home, which was as near a palace as any other centuries old mansion. The only major difference was that the house in Sherlock's mind was built upwards instead of across, and only because Sherlock thought the mental exercise would do him good.
The other difference was the occupant.3
2 All the arguments in the footnotes are strictly Sherlock's. Which isn’t to say Sherlock hears voices, he simply likes to consider all point of views. For clarity's sake, the author's comments will be made in Calibri - AM
3 Irrelevant. the Other was locked inside the Panic Room.
4 It would have been his first home, and it was for many, many years. But unlike the Mind Palace, 221B had a John.
5 Observation. John would occasionally fall asleep in his armchair. (21/05/2011, 30/07/2011, 09/08/2011, 15/09/2011, 22/11/2011-23/11/2011, 03/03/2012).
7 [reference not found]