The next thing John remembered was waking up in one of those limousines that he had often journeyed in, courtesy of Mycroft. He was fully dressed in his comfortable cable stitch pullover, jeans, jacket and boots. Next to him was Sherlock, his Belstaff coat draped around him, still slumped in the comfortable back seat of the car. John wiped his face, blinking his eyes a couple of times and trying to get his bearings. Sherlock had been correct about the drugging, however, John would have preferred to be allowed to dress on his own beforehand. He glimpsed at the watch on his wrist, which showed ten past eight in the morning. The doctor wondered when he had been given the narcotic, because he wouldn't usually sleep an estimated thirteen hours without waking.
The window to the front of the car was closed and John couldn't identify the driver. However, that didn't bother him since he was used to it from other trips. He looked out of the window and found that the houses and scenery flying by were familiar to him; they were on the Westway, already close to Baker Street .
Sherlock shifted in his seat and opened his eyes, rolling his head to release the tension that had built up in his muscles.
"Almost there," he remarked slightly sleepily.
"Finally," was John's quite curt reply. He was still angry. However, he was actually really looking forward to being at home again, and he strongly hoped that in their familiar surroundings things would settle a bit and they could go back to something that was close to normal, which included talking about all those things that had happened without hurling abuse at each other or Mycroft.
John remembered that he had been told that Mycroft's team would clean the apartment in their absence. He wondered if they had adhered to Sherlock's cataloguing system – his socks, shirts, pants and whatever was stored in specific arrangements.
Upon entering their home, John almost bumped into Sherlock when the Consulting Detective suddenly stopped in the doorway to their flat, thunderstruck and blocking the way into the living-room. He looked around disbelievingly.
After John had found a way past Sherlock into the flat, he simply joined him in his amazement. Never in the entire time they had shared the flat, had it been so clean and tidied up. Mycroft's men had really done proper work!
As opposed to Sherlock, John liked the rooms the way they were now. For his flatmate, however, this had to be a nightmare. All the seemingly randomly scattered books had either been piled into neat towers or put onto the bookshelves, which showed no traces of dust. The laboratory equipment had disappeared from the kitchen table, which actually looked like one now, clean and with a bowl of fruit on it. The counter and cupboards didn't show any signs that the kitchen had been used once. Normally, there would be unwashed mugs, packages of cereals and other kitchen items having been dropped there casually. All open packages had been replaced by new ones of the same brands, carefully arranged by their sizes. No matter where you looked, everything was tidy and shiny.
"Yoo-hoo! Boys!" they suddenly heard Mrs Hudson's voice coming closer. Upon stepping into the living-room she started nattering excitedly. "Oh, Sherlock, John! I'm so glad you're ok again! Look at the flat – isn't it wonderful? So neat and clean! I tried to get those men of Mycroft to clean my flat as well, but they wouldn't. What a pity! Don't you mess up everything again, will you?" John found that the most astounding fact about Mrs Hudson was that no matter what happened in her house around Sherlock, she never really was surprised or actually speechless about it. How many elderly ladies would react like this after there had been a nerve gas attack in their house?!
Sherlock came to life again, muttering something about a lot of work being destroyed, but kept comparatively calm. Instead, he turned to Mrs Hudson and gave her a hug. "Thanks, Mrs Hudson, I really need a nice cup of tea. Would you mind…?"
"Oh, Sherlock, I'm still not your housekeeper, so just this once, dear, because you look tired. You too, John. You sit down and rest, I'll be back in a minute." She rushed off into the very tidy kitchen, busying herself with making tea.
"Ah, home again," John sighed, dropping into his favourite armchair by the fireplace.
"Or what's left of it," Sherlock grumbled, positioning himself in the opposite armchair.
Taking the first delightful sips of tea that Mrs Hudson had handed them, John gave questioning Sherlock another try.
"Erm, Sherlock, you sure, everything's ok with you?"
Over the rim of his cup Sherlock glanced briefly at John, then put his cup on the saucer and placed both on the floor. Leaning in to John, now facing him directly, he stated in a very determined voice, "I. Am. Fine. John!"
The doctor pursed his lips, then shook his head. Under the surprised look of Mrs Hudson he got up with a sigh, took his jacket that he had just shrugged off a couple of minutes ago and left for a walk. He needed fresh air. If Sherlock didn't want to talk, so be it. "Off out", he grumbled while stomping down the stairs.
With long strides, John went up Baker Street in the direction of Regent's Park, taking in the bustle of the morning. He was aware of the fact that most likely he was beingfollowed by Mycroft's men, but he didn't care. Having reached the park he sat down on a bench by the lake. The winter sun wasn't really warming, but the take-away coffee in his hand was. John had to think.
Mycroft had made a clear statement as to what John had to expect if he talked about the secret remedy, but did that count for Sherlock, too? John wasn't sure if he didn't know anyway. The doctor was worried about possible side-effects of the substance. Sherlock's brother had admitted that it hadn't yet been tested sufficiently. Although John was sure that Mycroft would have his medical team keep an eye on Sherlock as much as he himself would, he had to tell him about it, so that his flatmate wouldn't be tempted to hide anything from John.
Suddenly John's mobile vibrated and made a "pling" for an incoming text. John pulled the device from his pocket and read.
Let's talk. SH
John shook his head. Sherlock could be really annoying! He had wanted to talk, but the Consulting Detective preferred to let the people around him dance like puppets, only willing to talk when he chose to.
John quickly typed a reply and hit the send-button.
Out for a walk, as you may have noticed! JW
John snorted. No, Sherlock would have to find something new to make him jump at his request. He waited.
I meant what I said. I am still grateful. SH
Oh, this was getting interesting. Sentiment as a means of manipulation. Well, that wasn't really new but it was new for Sherlock to use it on John.
You should be. JW
Bring some milk. SH
That was enough. They definitely had to talk. John slid the mobile back into his pocket and stomped home.
Having shrugged off his jacket, unceremoniously throwing it on the back of a chair, John positioned himself in front of Sherlock. The Consulting Detective was squatting in his armchair, knees drawn to his chin, his hands clinging to the Union Jack cushion. He didn't change his position, only looked up to John.
"There you are", he simply said.
"Yes, you saw, but, Sherlock, did you observe?"
"In fact, I always observe, but you don't, although … observe what?"
"That you are just about to piss me off again and if you don't start talking right now, I will honestly take that bloody cushion and suffocate you with my own hands."
That earned John a smile.
"You wouldn't be able to, you know that."
"You want to give it a try?" John felt his anger blow over and a laugh finding its way from his gut.
He felt the ice had been broken for the moment, and finally Sherlock started talking.