Conductor of Light
John arrived home from the clinic exhausted and starving to find freshly delivered Indian food from his favourite place, and an unusually solicitous Sherlock.
"What have you done now?" he asked. Sure, Sherlock was still doing unspoken penance for--well, they had agreed not to discuss it anymore--but this current display was...worrying.
John looked around the flat, searching for signs of recently cleaned explosive residue or blood spatters. He sniffed the air for evidence of poison gas or burnt flesh. The flat looked like a tidier version of normal and all he could smell was delicious curry.
"All right…" He drew out the words, still dubious. Too hungry to argue, he hung up his coat and sat down to eat with his partner.
It was when the gulab jamun came out that so did an explanation--of sorts.
"So," began Sherlock. He'd been walking on eggshells around John since his return from the dead, but that had eased over the past several weeks. Now it seemed the caution was back. "Why is Asha Chopra sending you a hand-addressed package containing an autographed copy of her debut album?"
John nearly choked on the last of his lager. "Asha? Where?" He looked around. He'd not spotted the day's post in his look round earlier, but then that wasn't what he'd been looking for at the time. "How d'you know what's in it?"
Sherlock rose and retrieved the little package from the mantel. He handed it across the table as he sat back down.
"Well, that explains how you know what's in it." It was obviously a postal service CD box. "You haven't opened it. How do you know it's autographed?"
Sherlock gave him one of his looks, specifically the one that demanded to know how he could live in such a tiny little brain. "She hand address the package," he repeated.
"Of course." He tore it open and out slipped the CD. The cover art was a painting of a violin emerging from a dark shadow into a shining light. Barely visible in the shadow, like wisps of smoke or swirls of dust, were hints of Asha's troubled past, so subtle that if you didn't know what to look for, you wouldn't see the telltale shapes. Conductor of Light swept across the bottom of the front with the artist's name in a smaller font in the upper corner.
John opened it to find not only the predicted autograph on the inside sleeve, but a personalised note. He read it silently and felt his smile grow and his eyes prickle with tears like he'd not felt since Sherlock's miraculous resurrection.
"John?" Sherlock leaned forward, a rare look of confusion on his face.
"I'm okay." He sniffed once, nodded once, and closed the CD case. He flipped it over to look at the track listing on the back. "She's a friend of mine. From...when you were gone. Long story. I'll tell you sometime if you need me to."
"Only if you want to."
"I know." That made both Sherlock and John chuckle. A new question struck John. "How do you know who Asha Chopra is?" John had made a point of following her rocketing career ever since she'd first started hitting the news as a rising star in classical music. It wasn't outside reason to think Sherlock had noted the same things, if only in passing. He had no idea what, if any, eye he kept on the music scenes.
"I Googled her."
John laughed outright at that, although he couldn't say why. It just wasn't the answer he expected, he supposed. "Feeling jealous?" he teased.
"Perhaps a little. Do you want to put it on?" Sherlock nodded to the disc.
"Yeah. Um..." He handed it over and followed Sherlock to the sitting room. "Play the title track, would you? It's an original of hers and I-- Just. I'm curious. It's track five."
"Okay." Sherlock placed the disc in the player, selected track five, and hit play. The flat was immediately filled with solo violin. Solo violin that wept and sang its sorrow and loss. That shrieked of pain and pounded fists of rage. It rose and fell like an angry ocean in terrible storm. And finally, like a light guiding the player home, it focussed to a single perfect note that drew out and finally faded away into silence.
Sherlock stopped the disc before the next track could begin.
John reached a hand to his cheek to wipe away the tears that had fallen as he listened.
"John? Are you all right?" Sherlock's tone was full of concern, his expression worried.
"Yeah." John nodded and wiped at his cheeks again. "Yeah. I'm great."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah," he said again. "You--" He cleared his throat. "What did you think of it?"
"Read the note she wrote me. It's okay. Go ahead. You would've later anyway," he said with a chuckle. "When I wasn't around."
"That would be an invasion of privacy."
"When has that ever stopped you? Go on."
Sherlock opened the case that was still in his hand and read the inscription Asha had written there.
I can't repay you and you'll say we're even anyway, so I'm letting that go.
PS. I'm glad that you got your Sherlock back. You deserve joy.
Sherlock closed the case and set it on the table. "She's right," said Sherlock.
"Don't you think it's pretty? I think it's beautiful."
"I meant the post script."
Sherlock stepped in to John. "I'm going to do my best to make sure you get all that you deserve." He leaned in and pressed a loving kiss to John's lips.
When they parted, John smiled at him. "Start the CD from the beginning, and come sit. I want to tell you about an amazing young woman who's a friend of mine. Her name's Asha."