Sherlock rolled over. The bed was far too soft and fluffy, bad for lumbar support. He squeezed open his eyes.
Clouds. He was sleeping on a cloud.
“Fuck!” he said, sitting up quickly. He didn’t get a head rush like he usually did, which would normally be a cause for satisfaction, but at the moment just underlined the fact that he was very very much not his usual self. Or rather, very very much dead.
“Oh, that’s you awake then?” a voice said in his left ear.
Sherlock turned to see a dignified-looking old man with a long beard and a pair of enormous blue wings peering down at him. “It’s Sherlock Holmes, isn’t it? Welcome to Heaven!”
Sherlock just stared at him. The man frowned, then pulled out a long scroll and a pair of spectacles, which he perched on his nose. “Let’s see. Sherlock Holmes, 31, jumped to his death—”
“I committed suicide,” Sherlock rudely interrupted. He rose to his feet slowly, balancing experimentally on the uneven surface of the cloud. It was rather like standing on one of Mrs. Hudson’s sponge cakes.
“Oh why, look at this! Well, that’s special, that certainly is!” The old man looked up from the scroll with a grin, and flapped his wings at him. “Sorry we weren’t expecting you, Mr. Holmes, we don’t have your personal wings ready yet,” he looked sorrowful at the admission—“but you can take these in the meanwhile, until we can get a pair fitted.”
He held out a small pair of yellow, paisley-print wings with an elastic harness of the type often seen at small children’s birthday parties. Sherlock glanced at the wings, but made no move to take them. Instead, he glared up at the man.
“Why am I here?” he asked in a scathing tone usually reserved for certain forensic scientists of his (unfortunately) intimate acquaintance.
The old man looked surprised, then chagrined. “Sorry, I keep forgetting that humans don’t know us as well as they used to. I’m the gatekeeper, St. Peter. Welcome to Heaven!” he repeated, thrusting the wings closer to Sherlock.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “You said that already. What I don’t understand is why I’m here.” He studiously ignored the proffered wings. They would clash horribly with his purple shirt. Odd that he’d turn up in heaven wearing Dolce & Gabbana; not exactly the designer one normally associated with sanctity. “I committed suicide. And I wasn’t a ‘good person.’ Isn’t that what gets you into heaven these days?”
“Well, you did commit suicide, but it was a self-sacrificing suicide,” Peter answered slowly, as though explaining something obvious to a small child. Sherlock gritted his teeth. “And we don’t keep people out of Heaven for a little thing like rudeness! Why, even our Lord,” and here the saint bowed his head in reverence, “had his bad days. That thing with the tax collectors, for example. Not to mention his mum.” He gazed up at Sherlock hopefully. “Are you going to take the wings now? Only, they’re quite heavy.”
Sherlock groaned and took the wings. They were heavy, considering how small they were. He slid them over his shoulders, suppressing a shudder.
Peter clapped his hands together, beaming. “Oh, they look gorgeous, on you!” he exclaimed.
“Whatever,” Sherlock grumbled. “Just let me through, this is boring.”
“Yes, right this way. Welcome to Heaven!”
Sherlock rolled his eyes again. It seemed like something he’d be doing a lot of in Heaven. He was about to step forward through the big pearly gates, when there was a loud popping noise and a man appeared in a puff of reddish smoke.
“Welcome to Heaven!” Peter announced cheerfully to the newcomer.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Sherlock shouted, outraged.
“Hello to you too, dear,” Jim Moriarty smirked, dusting off his suit. “Long time no see.”
“Mr. James Moriarty, is that right?” the gatekeeper asked, pulling out the scroll again. “Ah yes, here we are, everything’s ready for you sir. A few minutes late though, aren’t you?”
“In every sense of the word,” Sherlock added, sneering.
“Only fashionably,” Jim returned, raising an eyebrow at the detective. “Nice wings.”
Sherlock pouted, crossing his arms. “They weren’t prepared for me.”
“Really? I think those look quite fetching,” Jim said, slipping on his own red-and-black python patterned pair.
“Of course they’re not—wait,” Sherlock glared. “That’s not the point. Why are you here? You shouldn’t be here. You’re the last person who should be in here.” He turned to glower at Peter, who had been watching the exchange with a bemused expression. “You are aware that this person is a mass-murderer?” he said in tones dripping with disdain.
Jim grinned evilly. Peter looked uncomfortable. “Well, there are still certain, um, regulations governing the cleansing of earthly souls…I’m sure you’ve heard that prayer can shorten time spent in Purgatory and such…” The gatekeeper shrugged helplessly. “We’ve been trying to change the rules, but you know how slow bureaucracy can be…”
“So, you paid off some imbeciles to pray for your soul?” Sherlock rounded on Jim. “How many idiots does it take to get a bastard like you into heaven?”
“Dear, dear, rude already,” Jim drawled, wiggling his right wing experimentally. “I bought an island, just a little one, you know. Somewhere in the Pacific.” He waved his hand airily in the direction of the clouds below. “They wanted to name it after me, but I refused, of course. As your biggest fan, I felt obligated to name it after you. Actually, I had wanted to call it Holmesland, but that name was already taken—”
“Mycroft,” Sherlock muttered under his breath.
“—so I had to settle for Sherlockesia. I hope you’re flattered.”
“I’m not,” Sherlock groused, pursing his lips. “You named an island after me without my permission.” He paused. “Is it tropical?”
Jim leered. “Very.”
Peter wrinkled his forehead in confusion.
For lack of better company, Sherlock and Jim stuck together once they entered the heavenly citadel. It was very big and grand, and the streets were crowded with throngs of the heavenly host, all of whom seemed desperate to shout a friendly howdy! at each and every passerby. Sherlock wondered if there was actually an unusually high percentage of Americans in Heaven or whether it was a statistical anomaly. And, as if to make matters worse, Sherlock’s eyes kept watering from sunlight reflecting off the gold-paved streets—clearly, the Holy Architect had failed to take into consideration the lack of cloudcover in paradise.
“So,” the consulting criminal began. Sherlock squinted at him. “What do we do now?”
“How should I know?” Sherlock retorted mulishly. “You’re the one who wanted to come here. I got dragged along against my will.”
“If you’re bored, you could always visit me,” a feminine voice purred.
The two men turned. Behind them stood a slender brunette attired in lacy, mint-green lingerie with matching wings curled along her back. Her smile widened as Sherlock’s eyes lingered, but he wasn’t thinking about her 32-24-34 measurements…a memory was stirring in the back of his mind, something about a catalog he’d seen once or twice on John’s bedside table. Someone’s secret. Elizabeth’s?
“Irene, darling,” Jim said, leaning forward and giving The Woman a peck on the cheek. “You make me want to die another death.”
“You flatterer. Westwood?”
“And how about you, Sherlock?” Irene turned to the detective, hands on her hips. “Enjoying the afterlife?”
“Wait a second,” Sherlock cried, his eyes narrowing. “Why are you here? Didn’t I save you from the Taliban?”
“Yes you did, you good boy you,” Irene cooed, patting him on the cheek. “I died about a month ago. Ham sandwich. E coli can be quite fatal, you know.”
“And you’re in heaven because…”
“The usual,” Irene replied placidly. “I know the gatekeeper, and I know what he—”
“Alright, thank you,” Sherlock interrupted hurriedly. There are certain mental images not even consulting detectives can delete.
Suddenly there was a loud flushing noise, and a small, blue, winged baby appeared in midair beside the trio.
“Message for Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” it said in a tinkly voice.
Sherlock stared at the tiny cherub. “I am he.”
“St. Peter, Apostle, requests your presence at the Hall of the Blessed Virgins immediately,” the cherub tinkled.
The cherub paused. “I was not informed, sir.”
Sherlock crossed his arms. “No. I’m not going. Not without an explanation.”
“The Apostle said to proceed immediately,” the cherub repeated, looking strained. “He stressed that it was quite urgent.”
“I don’t see why I should go without a reason,” Sherlock said with a waspish sniff. He’d had enough of Mycroft’s bossing around to last a lifetime.
“Oh, go on Sherlock,” Irene said. “The poor thing looks like it’s about to combust.”
“Or like it’s extremely constipated,” Jim added, examining the cherub with interest. “Do you realize you sound like a toilet when you materialize?” he asked it.
The cherub blushed purple with embarrassment. “There’s something of a bug in the system,” it explained.
“For how long?”
“About four thousand years,” the cherub said.
“Holy shit!” Irene exclaimed.
“Exactly,” sighed the cherub.
“FINE!” Sherlock burst out. “I’ll go.”
“Certainly, sir,” the cherub said, inclining its blue head, and with a great echoing SWOOSH! they disappeared.
They rematerialized in a huge hall with high gothic ceilings and wall-to-wall mirrors. Peter was pacing around in small circles, wringing his hands, furling and unfurling his frankly massive blue wings. He was the picture of beatific distress. Irene poked Sherlock in the back.
“He’s making up for something, with those wings. If you know what I mean,” she sniggered. Sherlock deliberately ignored her.
As they approached, the saint looked up and almost sagged with relief.
“Mr. Holmes! Thank His Glorious Name that you could be found!”
“Yeah, yeah, get on with it,” Sherlock grumbled. “Swirlie here said you needed me for something.”
“Yes, indeed,” the saint said. He nodded pointedly at the cherub who, recognizing a dismissal when it saw one, bowed and vanished in its (un)usual style.
“Aren’t you supposed to be watching the door or something?” Jim said.
“It’s alright,” Peter responded distractedly, still fiddling with his thumbs. “We don’t get much foot traffic at the front door anymore, not now we’ve installed those automatic self-checkin machines.” He moved closer. “Besides this is an issue of Cosmic Consequences, and it couldn’t wait.”
Sherlock’s ears pricked up. Cosmic Consequences, huh? He’d had some difficult cases, but those were odds he hadn’t encountered before.
“There’s been an accident,” the saint revealed with a sorrowful shake of his whiskery head. “One of the seraphs was found at the foot of the Golden Stairway. It appears he fell.”
“So?” Sherlock sighed. What a disappointment. He should have known crime in Heaven would be dull. “Accidental angelic deaths aren’t really my area. Go find an negligence lawyer instead.”
“We don’t get many of those around here,” Peter said. “And the ones we do get tend to be useless. But that’s not the problem, you can’t hurt seraphim. The problem is that he was in charge of guarding the Ring of Poor Artistic Judgment, which has mysteriously gone missing.” Peter’s voice fell to a frightened whisper. “And when I think of what happened last time—”
“The Ring of what?” Sherlock began, but Irene interrupted him:
“What happened last time?”
“Oh, it’s always horrible,” Peter said, still in a hushed undertone. “But most recently was in 1999. Some film director got a hold of it and created Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace.”
“My god,” Jim breathed. “I’d always suspected there were dark forces behind that movie…”
“Still,” Irene commented. “You have to admit, Natalie Portman was hot.”
“Even Natalie Portman can’t undo the damage done by Jar Jar Binks,” Peter retorted.
“Well I think—”
“EXCUSE ME,” Sherlock interrupted loudly. The other three fell silent and turned to him. “While I can fully appreciate your concern for the cultural devastation perpetrated by Star Bores, this is not what I would call an issue of Cosmic Consequences.” He glared at Peter. “Hardly worth my time.” He turned to leave.
“Wait! The Ring has another power,” Peter cried holding out a hand to detain the disgruntled detective.
Sherlock snorted. “What now? The power to propagate talk shows? Revive reality television series?”
“No.” Peter shook his head without a hint of sarcasm. “It has the ability to raise the dead.”
Silence. Sherlock cast a suspicious glance in Jim’s direction.
“Don’t be silly Sherlock,” Jim answered his unspoken question. “I’ve been with you the entire time.”
“Yes,” Peter agreed. “And anyway, none but an angel can touch the Ring while it’s in Heaven. It’s when someone drops it into the mortal realm that it causes real damage.”
“Why didn’t you tell us this immediately?” Sherlock nearly whinged in exasperation. “And why the heck would you call this ring something so misleading as ‘the Ring of Pasty Animated Jokers?’”
“The Ring of Poor Artistic Judgment,” Peter corrected morosely. “Because that’s not what the Ring was intended for,” the saint explained, his forehead wrinkles deepening in consternation. “So it doesn’t really work all that well. Kind of like when Neo revived Trinity in The Matrix.”
“What do you mean by ‘it doesn’t work so well’?” Jim asked, frowning warily.
“To put it bluntly,” said Peter, “everyone comes back as a Japanese schoolgirl. On the outside you look normal, but on the inside—”
“—it’s all karaoke, cupcakes and cat ears?” Irene looked pale.
Peter sighed. “Exactly.”
There was silence in Heaven for about half an hour, during which time all three recently deceased looked horrified by this news. Finally, Jim broke the silence.
“We have to get it back,” he asserted fervently.
“Yes,” Sherlock agreed without hesitation.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of Hell, a decent-sized pool of molten lava froze over.
Sherlock never thought he’d live to see the day when he’d miss how the Met handled a crime scene. Well. Technically, he hadn’t.
“You’ve cleaned everything,” he moaned, eyes raking helplessly over the spotless floor and pedestal where the ring had previously sat. “With holy water.”
“Yes, of course,” said their nervous cherub guide (this one was higher ranking and didn’t seem to be plagued by a lavatory-themed soundtrack). “We always do that.”
“But you’ve erased all the evidence.” Sherlock rolled his eyes upwards in pained dramatics, but no one seemed to be paying attention. He felt a twinge at the realization. Where was his loyal audience?
“Sherlock.” Irene waved at him from the corner where she and Jim were crouching by a long, sweeping curtain. “I think we found something.”
Sherlock stalked over to them. She pointed at the piece of feather clinging to black velvet. Sherlock plucked it from the curtain with a pair of tweezers and examined it. Colour: burnt orange. Feather type: primary. Additional characteristics: slightly singed. His grin was feral as he deposited it into the evidence bag that appeared magically in midair at the slightest thought. Maybe there were a few things about Heaven he could get used to.
“What have you discovered?” Peter had come up behind them, the cherub hovering by his shoulder.
“Not much.” Sherlock straightened, shrugging. “Just that our culprit is roughly seven foot two, at least three thousand years old, injured, and has orange wings and a comrade. Or possibly a subordinate.”
The cherub’s jaw dropped gratifyingly, but Sherlock found himself oddly disappointed. He wanted to shake his head to clear it of this annoying funk. What was he missing?
“H-how do you know that?” the cherub queried tremulously.
“It’s obvious. The feather is a primary, a flight feather. Given the size, we can assume the angel is of significant stature. From my observations, it appears that only angels fly, and only the oldest would be moulting flight feathers. The state of the feather indicates that he has sustained significant injuries recently. He was present for the theft, but most likely only to distract the guard while his companion stole the ring. He would have had to escape on foot.”
“Oh.” The cherub seemed let down. “I guess it is obvious when you put it that way.”
Jim cackled at the frustrated look on Sherlock’s face. Sherlock stuck his tongue out at him. It just made him laugh harder.
“Well,” Peter said once the consulting criminal’s manic laughter had finally died down, “there’s only one angel in Heaven who fits that description—Count Regretto.”
“Angels have nobility?” Irene commented, sounding amused.
“Technically no,” the saint replied, looking everywhere but her face. “That’s just his name. It was a fad back in the 1390s BC.”
“And he’s dangerous,” Peter continued, suctioning his eyes away from Irene’s cleavage with an almost audible pop! “He’s a tricky one, Regretto. Served in Our Lord’s holy army with distinction, or so I’ve heard. And his follower, Smerfton, is a dab hand with the angel’s sword.” The gatekeeper’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed anxiously. “Are you sure he’s our thief, Mr. Holmes? Because there’ll be hell to pay if I accuse such powerful angels without proof.”
“Oh, you’ll have proof,” Sherlock assured him, haughty. “Contact him. Tell him I have the evidence to get him thrown out of Heaven, and that I’ll meet him tonight in my study to work out a deal.”
Jim frowned. “But you don’t have a study.”
A doorway popped into existence at Sherlock’s elbow. He leaned past Jim and opened the door, peering in. A warm, wood-paneled room met their eyes, complete with squashy mismatched armchairs, a large goldfish tank and roaring fire. There was even a skull on the mantel and the Stradivarius sitting in its case. Sherlock smiled.
“I do now.”
The knock came at half-past eight. Sherlock opened the door to reveal roughly seven feet of irritated angel dressed in full Renaissance Faire regalia. Dumb sidekick included.
“Hark! Thou must be the villain Sherlock Holmes,” the angel sneered, sniffing the air. “Thy hath been dead yet barely a day,” he added with scorn, before pushing past the detective into the study.
“And you must be Count Regretto. Charmed,” Sherlock said, sounding anything but. He stared meaningfully at the stocky angel still standing dully in the doorway.
“Ooh,” the second angel said, shuffling inside. The Count rolled his eyes. “Really Smerfton, thy sloth is immeasurable.”
“Sorry, boss,” Smerfton apologized, his stumpy beige wings drooping.
Sherlock shut the door, then turned to survey his heavenly guests. “Tea?” he offered sarcastically, slipping far more poison into the word than one might expect from such an innocent beverage. “Or would you prefer something a little more sinful?”
Before Regretto could respond, Smerfton gave a little yelp of alarm. “Oi, boss, look! There’s another!” He pointed to a curtain the corner of the study, where sat a figure that looked exactly like Sherlock.
“Oh that.” Sherlock shrugged. “Pay it no mind. It’s just a dummy I borrowed as a stunt double. I keep it around for company, when the skull needs a break.”
Smerfton stared at the dummy. “‘oly cow, it sure looks real lifelike,” he gasped. “I fink I can even see it breathin’!”
“Indeed, though it’s not quite as good as the original,” Sherlock replied with a hint of a smirk.
The Count scowled with heavy, threatening eyebrows. “Enough!” he growled impatiently. “I hath come hither to entreat you to retract the ridiculous aspersions thy hast cast against my—”
“Oh shut up,” Sherlock snorted derisively. “Don’t lie to me. I can see into your mind, and it’s a very poor view.”
The Count sputtered, deflating. “Well, I—”
Sherlock leaned forward. “I’ll be frank. I know you know that I know that you did what you did.”
“Do you?” Count Regretto paused, confused. “Didst I?”
“Yes,” Sherlock confirmed. “And you also know that I don’t know where you hid the Ring.”
“Oh.” The Count frowned. “And you wisheth me to divulge this information?”
Sherlock sighed, but managed to prevent an eyeroll. John would have been so proud of his restraint. “Obviously I want you to tell me, but you’re not going to tell me, are you? That would be stupid.”
“No! No, of course I willeth not,” Regretto agreed, still looking slightly bewildered.
“So instead, I’m offering you a deal. Return the Ring to its original location within the next 24 hours, and we’ll pretend this entire thing never happened. Agreed?”
“Yeah!” the count exclaimed wildly. “I meaneth, nay! I meaneth—I am yet not sure!”
Sherlock rose, striding over to the table. “I imagine you would like some time to discuss your options with your confederate in private,” he said, lifting the violin from its case. “I’ll be in the next room, if you need me.”
He swept out of the room through a second exit leading to a small bedroom. After a few minutes, the first bars of the theme song from Cheers could be heard through the shut door.
Smerfton immediately drew closer to the Count. “‘ow much d’ya think ‘e knows?”
Regretto grimaced, dropping the Shakespearean accent. “I don’t know. Everything, maybe.”
“Everythin’,” Smerfton gasped, blanching. “We could be kicked out o’ ‘eaven! Or worse.”
“Well, we did steal the Ring of Poor Artistic Judgment.”
“Is it safe?”
The count waved a nonchalant hand. “Don’t worry. I checked on it an hour ago, it’s right where we want it.”
There was a scuffling noise, and both men started, looking at the curtains. “What was that?” Smerfton asked fearfully, fingering the sword at his side.
“Probably just a mouse,” grumbled Regretto. “Are you scared? Thine angel’s pride must weep!”
“I can’t ‘elp it,” the smaller angel whinged, glancing at the stunt dummy in the corner. “Tha’ dummy just gives me the willies.”
“Oh, give me that,” the count growled in disgust, pulling his comrade’s sword roughly from its sheath. “I’ll show you how to deal with dummies!”
He raised the sword over his head, about to bring it down on the hapless figurine, when suddenly the dummy sprang to life and pressed a gun to his throat.
“Playtime’s over, darling,” the figure hissed. “Daddy’s had enough now!”
The violin music screeched to a halt and the bedroom door burst open. Sherlock sprinted into the room still holding the Stradivarius with Irene following closely clutching a pink camera phone.
“What happened?” Sherlock demanded, taking in the scene.
Smerfton looked ready to faint. “There’re—there’re two o’ them!” he exclaimed.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Of course there aren’t. The man holding the gun is merely my arch-nemesis in a mask that makes him look exactly like me, despite the nine inch difference in our heights. Obviously.” He turned to Jim. “So what really happened?”
“It’s only three inches!” Jim protested. “And this overgrown turkey nearly gutted me,” he added, twisting the gun harder into the angel’s trachea. The count was rapidly turning blue. “So I thought I’d introduce myself. What were you doing?”
“Well," Irene began, "Sherlock was playing the violin—"
"—and you were filming it on your phone for future blackmail purposes?” Jim interrupted.
“Naturally," Irene replied with a wink.
“Did they say where they’d hidden the Ring?” Sherlock asked in a brave stab at relevancy. “And Jim, you’d better let up on that angel. I know Peter said they’re impossible to kill, but he’s drooling on the carpet.”
Jim sighed, but released his captive. “You’re no fun,” he muttered.
“Thou—cough—art too late!” the Count rasped with all the melodrama of an early afternoon soap opera. “The Ring hath by now fallen into mortal hands.”
“What?” Moriarty and Irene shrieked.
“How?” Sherlock demanded.
“It is in one of six commemorative wax busts commissioned by the We Believe In Sherlock Holmes Society,” the Count explained. He flourished at the fish tank. “Look! The truth is revealed in yonder reflection pool.”
Everyone rushed towards the tank and leaned forward to peer into its murky depths.
Despite appearances, John Watson was very good with cards. One does not exit the armed forces without a basic knowledge of the game, but John had a little more than that. He had a naturally good poker face and an air of quiet respectability that had misled more than a few bullish gamblers; not to mention a risk-taking streak the size of Sherlock Holmes’ ego. A streak he was currently prone to indulge in classic, first-stage-of-grief style attempts to distract himself from the glaring hole in his life—especially once the Finding Nemo marathons stopped working. So when Lestrade had mentioned the recent mysterious death of Ron Adair, a regular at the Park Lane Strip Poker Club, John jumped at the opportunity.
And that’s how he found himself, nearly three months after the event on the roof of St. Bart’s, sitting in nothing but his pants and smiling falsely across the table at one equally underdressed Sebastian Moran.
Moran was grimacing at his own hand, which told John that the man thought himself in the lead. He was exactly the kind of poor cardsman who could be trusted to try a little reverse-psychology. John grinned to himself.
Moran let loose a huff of air. “All in,” he said, pushing in the last of his tokens. “And...the bust,” he nodded reluctantly towards the wax statuette of Sherlock sitting beside them on the table. John glanced at it. It was surprisingly life-like, right down to the untamed hair, ghostly eyes and smug expression. Crivvens. He shivered and looked away. Frankly, the thing creeped him out.
"Well?" Moran prompted impatiently.
John shrugged. “I’ll see you,” he said, indicating his own larger pile of bets. “Shall we flip ‘em then?”
“Whenever you’re ready,” Moran replied, watching him tensely.
They flipped their cards.
“Two pair,” John stated calmly. “My win.”
“Like HELL it is!”
Moran was suddenly on his feet, whipping out an extremely illegal semi-automatic and aiming it at John. "You'll never take The Precious while I'm alive," he hissed, his words strangely serpentine and his face distorted in manic desperation. "My Precious."
John had no idea what Moran was on about, but he found he didn't really care. He felt oddly peaceful for someone with a very large gun pointed at his head. He wondered absentmindedly how Moran had smuggled the gun in with him. Had he kept it in his knickers? Impossible; John would have noticed the bulges.
“Any last words?” Moran asked, clicking the safety.
“No,” John sighed. “Can I just have a moment with my friend, here?” He pointed at the bust. “For old times’ sake.”
"A moment with The Precious?" Moran looked edgy, but nodded. "Just a moment," he agreed finally. John picked up the bust. It was surprisingly heavy. Perfect.
Before the mercenary could react, John smashed the bust sideways into the man’s head, knocking the gun from his hands. It spun across the room and slid under a chest of drawers. Moran fell across the table, stunned. John whacked him a few more times, for good measure.
When he was sure the man was out cold, he got dressed, texted the details to Lestrade and finally just stood and sighed, looking down at the wax statue. It was ruined; the nose had broken off as had bits of the hair, and there was a huge crack right down the middle. John picked it up again, intending to try and press the edges together, but as he lifted the bust a small piece of metal fell out and rolled across the table. John picked it up.
It was a ring. A rather simple gold ring, with some carving on the outside. John turned it this way and that, but he couldn’t read it. He sighed, rolling it between his fingers. If only Sherlock were there. He’d probably know immediately who it had belonged to, how they’d lost it, and why it was in the bust to boot. John didn’t even notice when the ring began to glow.
Sherlock felt a tug behind his navel, and suddenly he was wrenched away from the scene reflected in the heavenly fish tank and sucked into what could only be a space/time wormhole, but looked rather more like a sixties-themed kaleidoscope.
His kneecaps collided painfully with the floor. “Ow, fuck!” he yelled.
In front of him, John Watson jumped nearly a foot in the air and dropped the ring he’d been rubbing so contemplatively. It rolled away beneath the table and out of sight.
“Sher—” The doctor blanched like he’d seen a ghost.
Sherlock stood slowly, wincing, taking stock of himself. So far so good. Aside from his knees, he felt fine—no strange urges yell “Sugoi!” or dress in frilly aprons or replicate his favorite anime characters. Wait, was it already bad that he knew what anime was?
“Sherlock? Is that you?” John had drawn closer. His face was still pale, but it was becoming redder.
“Clearly,” Sherlock replied distractedly, still trying to diagnose his inner Japanese adolescent. “Who else could it be?”
“You—” John stopped again. He seemed to be having unusual difficulty forming sentences. However, when Sherlock voiced his concern, it didn’t go over well.
“You utter sodding, fucking bastard!” John yelled, gaining steam with each word. “You bloody bugger-fucked piece of shite!”
“Why are you so upset?” Sherlock huffed, crossing his arms. John was being completely unreasonable, he thought privately. “It’s barely been a day.”
“It’s been THREE MONTHS you daft git!” John roared, launching himself across the room at the gobsmacked detective.
“Been.” SLAP SLAP SLAP
John was sniveling as he smacked Sherlock (rather ineffectually) about the face. Sherlock took the fact that he’d avoided breaking his nose as a good sign.
“In Heaven. Thank god I escaped,” he gasped finally, his face pink and smarting deliciously. “I’d be lost without my flogger.”
“I mean, my blogger, obviously,” Sherlock said. Then he grabbed John by the collar and kissed him.
When they finally broke apart, John blinked up at him, flushed, dazed and tousle-haired. Sherlock admired his handiwork with pride. “What—” John’s voice cracked. He swallowed and tried again. “What the fucking hell was that?”
“Prevention,” Sherlock answered honestly. “I’ve been to Heaven, and I am never going back.”
John gave him a look that said he thought Sherlock had finally lost his marbles. It was a gloriously familiar sight. “And you think kissing me will stop you from going to Heaven.”
Sherlock shrugged. “It was worth a try.”
John licked his lips. “How about we go again?” he suggested. Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “For insurance,” the doctor added hopefully.
Sherlock grinned. “Be my guest.”
This time, there was tongue.
“Well, what do we do now?” John asked as they strutted away from the scene. “Go back to Baker street? Cases, corpses, life as usual?”
“Actually,” Sherlock said, glancing down at his compatriot, “I was thinking of taking a vacation. I happen to know there’s a very nice tropical island in the Pacific with my name on it—” suddenly Sherlock froze, eyes glued to a darkened storefront window. He rotated slowly, staring at his reflection. “John,” he said seriously. “I am going to ask you something. It is of the utmost importance that you answer truthfully.”
“Yeah?” John urged, anxiety rising in his throat.
The world’s only consulting detective pouted at the window and posed, hand on his hip. “Does this make me look fat?”
Meanwhile, back in Heaven…
“Hurry up, Jim!” Irene called, settling back in her armchair in front of the fish tank. “They’re starting again.”
“Just a minute!” Jim hurried into the study, a bowl of popcorn in his arms. “Here we go. Where are they this time?”
“John’s room. I hope they do that maid cosplay again…”
“You know,” Peter said, drawing his eyes away momentarily from the figures onscreen with a worried frown. “We should really get the Ring back. It can’t stay in the mortal realms, it’s causing all kinds of problems already.”
“Really?” Irene stated in a tone of surprise. “That two-story brontosaurus made of cheerios was rather creative, if you ask me.”
“Stop talking, it’s just getting to the good part,” Jim complained. “Ooh look, he’s got a riding crop…”