John was accustomed to his flat being chaotic so he shouldn't have been surprised to come home to this; Ash was sat at the desk using their printer for what must have been the umpteenth time judging by the paper that surrounded him, Sean was playing tug-of-war with a dog on the floor, Emma and Mickey were sticking up plans on the wall, Eddie and Mrs Hudson were making dinner in the kitchen and Albert appeared to be haggling with someone over the phone. In the midst of all this activity, John noted Sherlock and Lestrade's absence but also the fact that there was a truly awful statue of a unicorn in the middle of the room,
"What is this?" John asked.
"A statue," Ash answered not looking up, "Specifically the one we are going to sell to Frank Thumble. Well, not that one exactly."
"Right," John shook his head, "Where is Sherlock?"
"He went with Lestrade to look around Harrogate's flat," Mickey told him, "He said something about missed evidence."
"Of course he did," John stated as he moved to sit down in his chair.
"Oh, John, you're home. Would you like a cup of tea?" Mrs Hudson was already popping the kettle on.
"I would love one, thanks," John smiled. He sat and watched the conmen for a few minutes, "I take it you have a plan now?"
"Hmm," Mickey moved to sit down opposite the doctor, "Not quite as detailed as I would like but-"
"Done," Albert exclaimed interrupting Mickey as he hung up his phone, "We have a deal."
"Excellent," Mickey responded, "Now all we need to do is set up the auction house."
"Auction house?" John asked taking his tea thankfully as Mrs Hudson passed it over.
"Yes. We are holding a fake auction to sell a fake statue," Ash somewhat explained.
John rubbed a hand across his eyes, "I'm not sure I want to know."
"Is Harry well?" Mrs Hudson lent on the side on John's chair.
"She is actually; let's just hope it lasts." Although Moriarty was back playing his games, John was adamant that he would keep his promise to visit his sister at her new flat so he and Sherlock had parted ways after their meeting with Gareth Harrogate's sister. That meeting had proved that Gareth Harrogate had indeed got himself into some trouble; after being conned he had begun gambling to try and increase his wealth again but luck had not been on his side and a few weeks later he was threatening his own sister for money.
"Do you think Betty would let me keep him?" Sean's muffled voice just about broke through the fact that there was a dog sat on top of him.
Emma sighed, "You couldn't look after a dog. You can barely look after yourself."
"Yeah, you'd get bored and then we'd have to deal with him," Mickey parented.
"I wouldn't" Sean protested and then laughed as the dog's nose tickled his face, "Hey, John, have you ever been to Mycroft's office?"
"Too many times," John told him, "Why?"
"It's...it's...I mean..." Emma couldn't quite find the right words.
John chuckled, "Yeah, I know."
The next half hour passed in a hustle and bustle of activity and it was only as Mrs Hudson and Eddie were ready to serve dinner that the tell tale sign of Sherlock's footsteps could be heard up the stairs.
"Do you think we could get him to eat?" Mrs Hudson whispered to John before the younger man entered the flat.
"We'll give it a go," John replied quietly before greeting his friend normally as he finally came into the room, "Hey, you've been gone a while."
"Yes," Sherlock said. He stood still in the doorway and scanned the living room carefully, "Are you sure that you can pull the con off quickly?"
Mickey raised his eyebrows but he was becoming accustomed to having half-conversations with the detective, "It will be a push but we like a challenge."
Sherlock nodded, "Good." He reached inside his pocket and pulled out a photograph, "This was at Gareth Harrogate's flat."
"What the..." John started and he took hold of the photo to get a closer look. Mickey, Ash and Emma moved so they could also see.
"What is it?" Sean asked putting down the last plate at the table.
Emma gulped, "You don't want to know."
The photo was of a dead man. A dead man covered in a lot of blood. There was a message written on the bottom, 'Here is your Murder. M x'.
"Who is it?" John questioned.
Sherlock almost growled, "We don't know. The quality of the photograph and the amount of blood have left identification difficult. Lestrade and I have been through missing person files but there was no match."
"So..." Ash began but Sherlock took back hold of the photograph and stated forcefully,
"We need Gareth Harrogate. He holds the answers."
There was a moment of silence for a moment as everyone let this new development sink in. It was Mrs Hudson who broke it;
"Well, you can't do anything on an empty stomach," She looked pointedly at Sherlock, "So why don't you all just settle down for a while and enjoy your dinner."
"Yeah," Eddie agreed draining vegetables in the sink, "Its homemade lasagne too"
"Sounds lovely," Emma perked up, "I'll definitely have some."
"I will too," Albert flashed a smile at the landlady and positioned himself next to her at the table.
Within a few minutes they were all sat down around the table tucking into the lovely prepared food. All but one;
"It's been three days, Sherlock." John pointed out, "And even then, it wasn't much."
"You should really try some of this," Sean said enthusiastically, "Although, if you don't want yours...can dogs eat lasagne?"
"You are not feeding mine and Edward's hard work to a dog," Mrs Hudson scolded.
John watched his friend; he was stood by the fridge with a look on his face that wasn't frequently seen. On any other person, John would call it confusion. It seemed Sherlock did not quite know what to do with the fact that there were once again people sat round his kitchen table like a sort of dysfunctional family.
John sighed, "You could always take something into the other room?"
Sherlock's eyes stopped scanning and focused on the doctor for a moment. Then taking John by surprise, he pulled up a chair and seated himself next to Mrs Hudson.
Mrs Hudson knew better than to make a fuss at this so she just placed a plate in front of Sherlock without a word.
"Why have you never cooked Lasagne for us before, Ed?" Ash asked.
"I didn't know how until today," Eddie admitted, "Although, don't be getting any ideas. You already take the mick with the amount of cooked breakfasts you eat."
Suddenly the door downstairs crashed open and Lestrade's voice could be heard bellowing up the stairs, "Sherlock!"
Sherlock rose quickly and went to stand on the landing.
Lestrade took a breath when he got to the top, "Gareth Harrogate's sister. She's dead."