Nine years earlier
John was lying to him. Lying to keep his emotions from being hurt, or at least that was what John thought he was doing. Telling him that Irene Adler was in America, witness protection. Surely that was Mycroft's solution. John was simply going along with it because he didn't want Sherlock to think she was dead. He didn't want Sherlock to react the way he had before, when Irene had faked her death the first time. Sherlock felt...relieved that John was doing that. Grateful. It showed just how much John cared for him.
Love, sentiment. Things John thought Sherlock didn't understand, but oh! did he understand them. He sometimes wished that he didn't. It would have made his younger years bearable, his university years tolerable. But, the great Sherlock Holmes felt. He cared for those around him, though he, most of the time, was rubbish at showing it.
There were times when He thought he was being illusive with his emotions, but that was when they were on display the most.
Complaining, when he thought he was simply telling Molly that John was going away for Christmas. Kicking John out of his bedroom on Christmas Eve, when he thought that Irene Adler was dead; or simply saying "Happy New Year, John." When his flat mate brought up the fact that Adler was alive.
Sherlock sat at the kitchen table, hand outstretched. "There's nothing on it anymore, it's been stripped."
"I know, but I... I'll still have it." He wasn't looking at John, again trying to make it seem like he didn't care, though his body language and the way he paused screamed that he cared.
"I've got to give this back to Mycroft, you can't keep it." Sherlock didn't reply, he simply moved his hand closer to John. "Sherlock, I have to give this to Mycroft. It's the government's now... I couldn't give it..."
"Please." He stretched his hand closer. John carefully placed the camera phone in his hands. Sherlock moved slightly to place the phone in his trouser pocket. "Thank you."
"I better take this back."
John walked out of the room, and back in. "Did she ever text you again? After... all that."
"Once a few months ago." Sherlock replied, still looking into the microscope.
"What'd she say?"
"Goodbye Mr. Holmes."
John tried to come up with something to say, but he couldn't. He simply left. Sherlock watched him, though it looked like he was still concentrating on the microscope.
Her heart. Adler's heart. Both men knew the significance of the phone. John had never been told it, like Sherlock had, but he wasn't an idiot. He could determine that the woman cared deeply for her phone, that her whole life was on that phone. She had, after all, gone to John to get the phone back when Sherlock thought she was dead. The way Sherlock had protected it, after the incident with Mrs. Hudson. John knew. He suspected why Sherlock wanted it back.
Sherlock waited until John was out of the room to take the phone out. He was at the window, thinking about how she was still out there. This was her phone, and it represented her. It was her heart. She had loved him. She had admired him. He had admired her. She was, after all, the woman who had beaten him. Not just literally. He would keep it safe. He wouldn't take it out and look at it, as some people did when they kept items for sentimental reasons. He would simply just keep it. He would always know where it was, and that it was safe.
Five years later.
January 15, 2016
John was going through Sherlock's desk. Sherlock was sitting in his regular spot, simply strumming the strings on his violin. He was allowing John to go through his things because he didn't feel the rush to find the paper, that John was feeling.
He heard the shuffling of papers, and drawers opening stop. He didn't look up, or look over at John. If his husband wanted to show him something, he would do so.
"I see you've kept Irene Adler's phone." John's voice said, a little surprised.
Sherlock simply made a "mmm" sound.
John turned to look at Sherlock. Sherlock did not move. "After all these years?" John asked.
Sherlock turned and looked at John. "Is that a problem?"
John looked down at the phone. He hadn't found the phone when he had been going through Sherlock's items when he had thought Sherlock was dead. Five years earlier. "Did you have it with you for those three years?" He asked ignoring Sherlock's own question.
Sherlock shook his head. "I did not. I knew it was safe, here."
John nodded simply. He was silent for a few moments, and Sherlock knew that he was trying to come up with a suitable question to ask so that he got the answer he was looking for from his husband. "Why?" He ended up asking.
Sherlock frowned for a moment, and then relaxed his face. "Sentiment I suppose. The same reason why I keep my mothers pearl necklace, despite the fact that I will never wear it." He hoped that answer would suffice, though he knew it wouldn't.
"So you loved her." John asked.
Sherlock was silent for a moment. "Love is not the word I would use. Admired." Sherlock rested his violin on his shoulder, moving his chin to the piece and picking up his bow. "I never felt anything towards Miss. Adler, as I do towards you. I love you. Therefore I would not use that word to describe the reason behind my keeping her phone." He moved his head from the violin to look at John. "Will that answer suffice?"