Sherlock Holmes was sat with his nose in a book about bees, completely absorbed by the subject matter and totally unaware that he had another customer, an impatient old lady who slapped her book against the counter for the second time.
"Young man!" She chastised him. "It's a surprise you do any business at all the way you treat your customers!"
Sherlock glanced up with barely concealed contempt and rested down his book, moving his hands to pick up hers and check the price.
"2.99," he muttered, holding his hand out half heartedly.
He hadn't wanted to run a bookshop. He would have much preferred something more exciting like a morgue or a private detective agency, but Mycroft had been quite insistent. It had to be something as far removed from his actual occupation as possible, and a second hand bookshop was the perfect cover, apparently. He'd been there five years, having spent three years abroad immediately after the Moriarty affair and then the next nine years flitting back and forth between London and Europe, and although he saw John regularly he had never really had a proper home in London, staying in hostels and cheap hotels whenever he was over, and eventually it was decided he should move back into the city on a more permanent basis.
He had settled down quite nicely into the routine at Benedict's Books, that was the name of the shop - his new alias being Benedict Sigerson. He still took cases for private clients, mainly abroad, and so often the shop was closed for weeks on end anyway, but business ticked over slowly and it was much easier than staying in hotels. It was important that he stayed close to London, more important than ever, as six years ago they had heard reports that Sebastian Moran was back in the capital.
Sherlock had first encountered the sniper upon his original return to London fourteen years ago, but he had escaped their clutches and gone underground. Although Sherlock always kept his ear out for news, he had heard nothing about him. Then an informant told him Moran was back in London, and the detective had members of his Homeless Network constantly on alert. The only problem was, the sniper is reported to have changed his appearance and identity, and Sherlock had no idea what to look for anymore. It was most frustrating, and more often than not he felt his hands were tied.
He sighed and handed the old lady her change before standing up and throwing on his leather jacket. That was another thing that had changed. His appearance. He no longer wore his preferred suits and Belstaff, but a pair of scruffy jeans, T-shirts, checked shirts, trainers and an old leather jacket. His hair was considerably shorter, and although still fluffy and curly, was now a dark shade of red.
"I'm closing now," he announced, pinging the till. The old lady shuffled out muttering to herself and Sherlock grabbed the keys to lock up. He was off out to St Barts to see John, his favourite part of the week.