Not wishing to be rude, John accepted Mrs Hudson’s offer of a cup of tea. He felt emotionally drained and just wanted to head back to Greg’s and sleep, but It had been a hard day for his Landlady too and she deserved some company since John had left her alone, for the time being, at Baker Street.
For the past week he had been staying on Lestrade’s sofa bed, and hadn’t set foot inside 221B since the day after Sherlock jumped from the rooftop. The flat had felt odd that day, not empty, with the absence of Sherlock. In fact it had seemed to radiate anger and frustration that the eccentric consulting detective was no longer causing chaos. As he had sat in his chair John became aware of everything in the room that belonged, and defined, Sherlock. The skull had stared at him from the mantelpiece. It almost looked sad, as though it had been willing John, pleading John, to talk to it, to confide in it, even to bloody hide stuff in it. The Smiley face on the wall on the other hand had appeared to smirk at John. It dared him to do as Sherlock once had and fire at it with his handgun. Mocking him silently. The violin had been leant against its case. It was begging to be played; John could almost feel it yearning to channel the hectic thoughts of a brilliant mind, to calm, to inspire someone, anyone. He could almost feel its fear of being packed away, of being forgotten. John couldn’t stand it, couldn’t bear to stay in the room that had been infested by, but no longer inhabited Sherlock Holmes. He’d rung Lestrade and asked if he could stay at his. Greg had agreed without hesitation, without any questions or doubts. Anything for John Watson. Anything.
The next day John had asked Mrs Hudson to send over a bag of clothes and toiletries. He informed her he would be staying with Greg for a little while. He felt guilty for leaving Mrs Hudson alone, but she understood. She always understood.
John sat down at Mrs Hudson’s kitchen table and looked up towards his home. He sighed. He was going to move back in soon. But not yet; not for now. He sipped his tea and allowed a small moan of satisfaction to escape his lips. The tea was strong, hot and perfect. Mrs Hudson chuckled lightly but said nothing. Tea will always make things just a little bit better, even if it is for the briefest of moments. But those moments are always needed, even if they are over too quickly, at least they were there.
When he was done he stood up and put his coat on. He felt a small object thump against his hip. He smiled sadly. It was Sherlock’s IPhone. He resisted the urge to get it out in front of his Landlady and settled for simply pressing his hand against his pocket as though he was checking that he had his own phone before he left.
“Right! I think I have everything, I better be going before Greg starts to worry.”
“Of course dear” said Mrs Hudson with a hint of sadness. John hugged her tightly.
“Thank you…Thank you so much for… for coming and, well, being with me today. It meant… I mean… I’ll be back here… I’ll be home soon. I promise.”
As they released each other Mrs Hudson gently patted his cheek and whispered, “I know John, I know. Be safe.”
Though Lestrade lived only a twenty-minute walk away John wanted to get home as soon as possible and go to bed. He hailed a cab and clambered in. Of course he would never admit out loud that that was only part of the reason. The ‘pain’ in his leg was slowly returning, he had managed to hide his faint limp from Greg and Mrs Hudson for now, as it only started after several minutes of walking, but he knew it was gradually getting worse again. The phantom pain annoyed him. It frustrated him. ‘Another thing to add to the list’ he thought as he pulled out Sherlock’s phone. Yes, the phone annoyed him too. The screen had cracked when Sherlock dropped it on the roof, but the rest of it worked fine, and the screen was still mostly visible. No, the thing that frustrated John was that Sherlock, the clever bugger, had put a pass-code lock on it. All John had been able to do was turn it on and off, and look at the Wallpaper Sherlock had chosen – A picture of Bluebell the rabbit, showing off its unusual skills.
The memory it gave of the Baskerville case made John emit an inexplicable giggle. It also made him suddenly furrow his brow in deep thought. Lestrade had given him the phone the first night he stayed over, claiming that the team dealing with the investigation to the ‘suicide’ hadn’t felt the need to examine it for further evidence. When they had discovered it was locked Greg had chuckled and told John that he had once found Donovan and Anderson trying to guess the code after they had ‘found’ Sherlock’s phone at the Yard. Lestrade had of course confiscated it and given it back to Sherlock (not before being safe in the knowledge that the code was not ‘S H E R’, ‘J O H N’ or anything like that). After thanking him, he was obviously in one of his more polite moods that day, Sherlock had apparently confided in Lestrade, “John would know. He’d be able to figure it out from the picture.” Before stalking away.
Naturally John had risen to the challenge and had attempted a selection of 4 numbered codes that could be related to the H.O.U.N.D. case:
“D R U G” WRONG
“G L O W” WRONG
“M I S T” WRONG
“B L U E”… Nope… “B E L L”.. Worth a try!
“M O O R” WRONG
He fiddled with the phone as he thought through many other possible codes ‘U M Q R… No that’s five! And so is H O U N D. Besides Sherlock wouldn’t be that obvious, that BORING.’ Then John thought about Sherlock’s revelation by the fireplace, how his emotions had ‘betrayed’ him. He swizzled the phone around and quickly typed in “3 3 2 7” or “F E A R”, a short pause and… ‘WRONG’. He read the cursed word in Sherlock’s dry tone, which just aggravated him even more. ‘Ok John think! What else was there about that case? What about those words Henry saw in his dream? ‘Liberty’ and ‘In’? Liberty is more likely to be connected to something else being the longer word… it means freedom… Free!’ Again John started typing “3 7 3 3” (“F R E E”)… WRONG “Oh for God’s sake!” John yelled, and in doing so almost scared the Cab driver out of his skin as he pulled up outside Greg’s address.
“Sorry, sorry! How much was it?"