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Haunted

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Sherlock was in a foul mood. He’d been in an incredibly foul mood for weeks now, if he wanted to be quite honest. Perhaps even months, but as the holidays crept ever closer it just seemed to get worse and worse. Of all the holidays he despised he despised Christmas the most. There was something about the good cheer and the urgings to be with friends and family that grated on him. He’d made a few attempts in years past to be a part of festivities; there had been the party at the flat that Irene’s “death” had cut short, and then, obviously, the fiasco that had been the year prior. This year he vowed to lock himself up at Baker Street and sit in doom and gloom and silence until the day had passed by completely. Probably until after Boxing Day had passed as well, for extra measure.

He heard John clear his throat by the door. “Sure we can’t interest you in joining us tomorrow night?” he asked.

Sherlock shook his head. “It’s your first Christmas as an entire family,” he said, not looking up from the microscope where he was studying a slide. “Far be it from me to intrude on that.”

“But you’re family too, you know,” John said.

“John, I have no interest in celebrating the holiday,” he said. “You and Mary and Annabelle enjoy your first Christmas together and I’ll collect you the next morning if we still need to do anything for this case.”

John was quiet for a moment and then he gave a small, almost imperceptible sigh. “All right. Don’t stay here too long, all right? At least eat something.”

“Fine,” Sherlock said, lifting a hand up and waving him off. He heard John leave a moment later and went back to studying the slides. A few minutes after that the door opened again and Sherlock sighed. “John, I promise, I will not spend all evening here. I have a bed, I will sleep there as opposed to a cot.”

He heard a soft laugh and looked up, seeing Molly there with a covered plate in her hands. “I ran into John and he said you were busy. Good thing I had this,” she said, lifting up the plate. “They catered dinner for the employees tonight. They’ll do it again tomorrow as well, but I have the day off. I figured you would be working up here so I brought you my plate.”

“You didn’t have to,” he said quietly.

“Oh, it’s all right,” she said, coming closer. “I do worry about you sometimes. I know you don’t always take care of yourself.” When she was close but not too close she set the plate on his work station. “Well, have a Happy Christmas tomorrow.”

“I’m planning on ignoring the holiday,” he said.

“Yeah, me too,” she said, her smile becoming a bit sadder. “After everything this year….” She trailed off and then shook her head. “Well, enjoy the food and I’ll see you on Sunday, I suppose, if we both don’t end up coming in tomorrow.”

He nodded and then watched her go. It had been a rough year for all of them, with his hunt for Moriarty and the tricks the man pulled. There had been a good enough ending, he supposed, but Molly had put her trust in the wrong person and it had cost her, and it pained him to see her withdrawn and sad so often. He had so gotten used to seeing one side of her, a vibrant and happier side of her, that this meek and withdrawn one was rather depressing.

He got up after a moment and then went to the plate. It smelled good, whatever was on it. He went to take the covering off but knocked the cutlery off onto the floor. He could rinse it off no problem, so he bent down to pick it up. The door opened again and he straightened in a hurry, smacking his head on the underside of the counter. “Damn!” he muttered loudly, rubbing his head. He looked at the door but saw no one had come in, though it was ajar. He stalked over to it and angrily pulled it open, looking out into the hallway. Spying no one, he shut it with more force than needed and then made his way back to his microscope, rubbing where he had hit his head.

His mobile began to buzz, alerting him to a text message. He picked it up and did not recognize the number. You will be visited tonight, it read.

He rolled his eyes. If this was one of Moriarty’s minions playing a prank he had better things to do with his time. I’ll have this traced in the morning. Anyone foolish enough to visit tonight will be shot. SH he texted back before setting the phone down.

A moment later there was another buzz. Three ghosts. Past, Present, Future. the new text read.

This time Sherlock let out a snort. Whoever was sending these believed the tripe Dickens had shoveled out. Unbelievable. I’ll believe it when I see further proof. SH he sent back before setting his phone down again. He went back to the microscope and looked at the slide until he heard a faint sound in the hallway. It grew louder by the second, and it was grating on his nerves. “Some of us are trying to work!” he said loudly through clenched teeth.

“I don’t care if you’re trying to work, Sherlock,” a very distinctive voice said from the hallway, about two doors down, and Sherlock felt his blood run cold. The sound got clearer and he realized it was chains dragging on the ground. He got up and slowly made his way to the door of the lab before looking out in the hallway. There, he saw James Moriarty, hands and feet clasped in chains, with more chains weighing him down, glaring at his door. The bullet hole in his forehead and blood running from the sides of it still looked just as it had when Sherlock had put it there at the end of their grand game. “You thought you’d seen the last of me, hadn’t you?”

“A bullet to the brain is supposed to be permanent, though as this was the second…” Sherlock said urbanely, trying not to show that it had just registered he could see through Moriarty quite well.

“Well, apparently there were other plans for me. Too wicked for Heaven, too devious for Hell, forced to suffer eternal damnation walking the earth,” Moriarty drawled, coming closer. “You may end up with the same fate if you’re not careful.”

“I don’t believe in Heaven, Hell or an afterlife so it makes no difference to me,” Sherlock said, glaring at Moriarty.

“You are a bigger idiot than I thought, doubting what you can see clearly in front of you,” Moriarty said with a shake of the head. He got in front of him them, and stuck a hand through his chest. Sherlock felt a sensation as though he was being frozen from the inside out go through him, radiating from Moriarty’s hand, until he pulled it aside. “Face it, Sherlock. We’re both bad men, in our own ways. Neither of us deserves a good ending.”

“Speak for yourself,” Sherlock said.

“Unfortunately, you get a chance to tip the scales in your favor,” Moriarty said. “You’ll have three spirits visiting you tonight. Apparently Dickens had it right after all. They’ll show you how to start to make things right. Because just remember: if you don’t, you’re stuck with me for all eternity.” Moriarty gave him a wicked grin, and then proceeded to walk right through Sherlock, who stood stock still until he passed. “First spirit will be with you at midnight. I strongly suggest you be more open.”

Sherlock turned to say something but Moriarty was gone. He shook his head. “Bastard,” he said under his breath. He made his way back to the lab and sat at the microscope, concentrating on the sample for a few more minutes. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get what were obviously hallucinations out of his head. He sighed and put the slides away and gathered his things, including the meal from Molly. He could come in and do more on Sunday.

He made his way out of the hospital and got a cab, having it take him to Baker Street. Mrs. Hudson was off visiting her son for the holidays so he had the whole place to himself. He took the food to the kitchen table and uncovered it. It was pot roast and vegetable, two dinner rolls and a slice of mince pie. He smiled slightly and began to eat. He was glad Molly had done this; if she hadn’t, he probably would have eaten much less of something not as healthy. When he was done he tossed the disposable plate and cutlery and then went to the sofa and turned on the telly to see what mind-numbing stuff was on. Without realizing it, however, his eyes began to flutter closed, and before he knew it, he was sound asleep, hoping that when he woke up it would be well into Christmas Day.