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Sherlock watches the bees in their endless tiny rituals and thinks, you are aerodynamically impossible (whatever remains, however improbable...) and the perfect specimen of fierce kamikaze loyalty. If I threaten what is precious to you, he thinks, you will sting me until you are dead.

Familiar, says the whimsical part of him that has become more apparent in his dotage. He isn’t sure that John will appreciate being compared to a bee - he still remembers the chimp debacle - but he will share the thought with him anyway. Maybe if he takes care to point out beforehand that he means it as a compliment.

He remembers, unbidden, the quiet little boy at school and his bee pictures. Looking back, it’s obvious the child was being sexually abused by someone. To Sherlock’s knowledge nothing was ever done, and by the time Sherlock himself was old enough to make the connection the animal killings had graduated to larger and bloodier crimes.

Little Benjamin is secure and numb in a Chelsea hospital, these days. Sherlock likes to keep track. But for the grace, after all. He isn’t some young idiot anymore, flinging around half-baked inaccurate self-diagnoses like some inverted badge of honour, but he’s well aware that a mind and a personality like his could have as easily turned to crime as to the detection of it, without the appropriate guidance. But for the grace of Lestrade then, he supposes, and John. Mycroft. Mrs Hudson. All the random contributors to his psyche, modelling humanity whether they knew it or not. Somewhere, he muses, Anderson just had a series of small strokes and will never know why.

The bees are getting sluggish now as the evening air cools down - so do they all these days, he thinks with a wry sniff. John will have retreated inside for his slippers, getting ready to microwave two bowls of soup and toast the last of the week’s bread. The thought of his chair with the fuzzy blanket and one of John’s old movies is a welcoming one, he admits.

“Go on then,” he tells the bees, feeling old and fond. “Stand down. No one will come for you tonight.”

He takes his own advice, then, and John is waiting for him at home.