So here are Ian and Sherlock, post-Reichenbach:
A year after Sherlock’s death, Ian tracks her to a deli in downtown Manhattan. For someone on the run from just about everyone, she isn’t being as careful as she should, and that’s how he knows it’s time to intercede. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have—Sherlock is so proud—but he sees it as the payment of a debt. She saved his life, he’ll save hers. Again. The first time was from Moriarty at the pool, but who’s counting? Sherlock doesn’t even know about that, and likely never will.
Ian isn’t a guardian angel, and he knows it. Still, before he hit people for a living, he used to be an actor, and it’s fun to have a part to play. “Guardian angel” has more dignity to it than “obsessed fanboy.”
Then again, they are each other’s biggest fans, aren’t they?
Idly humming the chorus of a Lady Gaga tune, he looks through the window of the deli and sees her. Bundled up in an enormous coat, wearing some kind of knitted cap, she looks like an art student fallen on very hard times. And she’s done something to her hair. It’s red now, and tumbles over her shoulders in lackluster waves. He wonders when the last time she had a spare minute to wash it was. You don’t get many breaks when you’re hunting a criminal empire.
But the state of her hair isn’t what worries him. It’s her eyes, which are bright with fever, and her flushed face, and the way she huddles in on herself like it’s too cold even with her heavy coat. She’s ill—very ill, but with what? It could just be her immune system collapsing in on itself, honestly. Those cheekbones are sharper than ever, but despite the fact that she appears to be starving, she can’t seem to bring herself to touch the Reuben that Ian would bet she spent her last dime on. It’s bad.
He wonders how to approach her, and decides that the old-fashioned way will do. Ducking out of her line of sight and pulling out his phone, he types Hello Miss Holmes, lovely weather we’re having and presses send. It’s a new number. Sherlock probably discarded her old phone—so there will be no accompanying ringtone—but Ian’s willing to bet that very few people send her texts like that.
He watches Sherlock open her phone, look up, glance around for him, and then type back. His phone vibrates in his hand. It’s Sigerson now.
“I know it is,” he murmurs. He types back: And you didn’t invite me to the wedding?
What do you want?
Always to the point. He will be, too. You.
There’s a noticeable gap before her next text arrives. Come and get me then.
Ian smiles, tucks his phone in the pocket of his suit jacket, and enters the deli. She pretends not to see him—well, he supposes he deserves that, somehow. He sits down in the empty seat across from her and says, “Hello, sweetheart.”
Sherlock turns her face toward him. Her eyes focus on him, but all of her movements are too slow. She licks her dry lips before speaking. “You look well,” she says, “for a dead man.”
“I wish I could say the same for you,” Ian replies. “Let’s get you somewhere safe.”