The incessant ringing of my phone woke me. At first I couldn’t understand why it hadn’t gone to voicemail and then it dawned on me. Mycroft had somehow disabled it. He’d probably found a way to increase the volume of the ring as well.
“What,” I snapped.
“You’ve kept the same number.” The voice was cool and even, familiar and rumblingly low.
“I’m hanging up.”
“Wait, John. Please.”
Maybe he meant it. Maybe he was pretending. Against my better judgement, I waited. “Go on.”
“Not over the phone. Can I see you?”
“Now? Sherlock, it’s four in the morning.”
“Yes. Fine. Whatever. Do you need my address, or are you standing outside my door already?”
“Oh, I have your address,” Sherlock replied. “But I want you to meet me somewhere. Call it ‘neutral ground’.”
“Neutral ground” turned out to be the roof of the building across from Mrs Hudson’s. The sight of Sherlock standing near the edge of a roof made me uncomfortable and I said so.
“Hold my hand, then,” he said flatly and took my right hand in his left. Raising his right hand, he pointed across the street to the open window of our flat. Our old flat. Sherlock’s flat. Two-twenty-one Baker Street. Whatever it was, the windows were open and someone was inside, pacing the floor; the silhouette was clear through the drawn shades.
“I assume that’s Mycroft?” I asked. Sherlock shushed me.
The person stopped pacing and moved close to the window as if he were about to look out. A split second later, a shot echoed from the floor below us.
The street was suddenly flooded with police. They stormed the building. Sherlock kept hold of my hand even as Lestrade appeared on the rooftop.
“Alright?” he asked, panting slightly after his sprint up the stairs.
“Did you get him?”
“We did. And you’re sure that’s the same guy who killed Garland Peters?”
“When you compare the bullets, you’ll find they match. And I’m sure Moran will tell you who hired him to kill Peters.”
“Sorry. Who’s Garland Peters? And Moran?”
Lestrade said, “Garland Peters is the man who was shot this morning. Some sort of internal auditor or financial consultant. The word is he was about to file a report naming some executive types who’d been skimming company funds. One of them hired this Moran fellow to shut him up.”
Sherlock picked up where Lestrade left off. “Moran is one of Moriarty’s hired killers. He was the last one. The only one left who could harm you. When I heard he’d been contracted to kill Peters I knew I had to let him see me. Draw him out. He didn’t know I was aware of him, so he never suspected a set-up. Sherlock turned to face me directly. “I’m sorry, John. I didn’t stop him before he had a chance to kill Peters. I know that sort of thing bothers you.”
“I’m sorry that I made everyone keep you in the dark. Surely you can see why I was doing it.”
“It should have been my decision. I can take care of myself, you know.”
“Not against Moriarty’s men. You and Mrs Hudson. I had to keep you safe.”
“We’re fine now. You’ve got Moran.” I realised Sherlock was still holding my hand and pulled away from him. “Safe to go down?” I asked Lestrade.
“We’ve got him locked up tight.”
“Right. Goodnight, then. And goodbye, Sherlock.”
For the second time in less than twenty-four hours I walked away from Baker Street.
The sun was just starting to rise when I made it home. I hated the idea of missing another day at work, but I was too exhausted to be of any use.
“You needn’t worry, Doctor Watson. We’ve made sure you’ve been granted a leave of absence from your job.”
Mycroft Fucking Holmes was standing behind me.