7 May, 2012
PRESENT: Monday, 4 May, 2015
221b Baker Street
"If we're going to do this, you cannot interrupt me," John's voice wavered. Sherlock raised an eyebrow. "No, Sherlock. No. You always talk, and I always listen. I may not understand, but I always listen. And eventually you help me to see. Well, it's my turn to talk now."
"But, I was alive John," Sherlock condescended.
John looked away, and took a deep breath. "Yes, Sherlock, I know that now. But I wasn't."
"Nonsense," Sherlock waved his hand indifferently, in an effort to remind John that he was, in fact, alive and seated next to him.
John closed his eyes and sat very still for a moment. If Sherlock had physically slapped him the sting would not have been so severe. "Right. Well, we’re done here then."
Slamming the laptop resting between them closed, and despite the complaints of his bruised and broken body, John moved to stand from the couch. "Watch them if you want, but I’ll not sit here and let you insult me for suffering, which YOU caused by the way."
"John?" Sherlock’s eyes were wide with… hurt? No, not hurt. Concern? No.
He couldn’t be certain, but John thought perhaps he read guilt in Sherlock’s eyes.
Or the closest thing to guilt Sherlock Holmes was capable of.
With a sigh John settled on a new approach. "Twenty minutes ago, when you thought I was dying, what did you experience? Review the data."
Sherlock sat thoughtfully for a moment. "I don’t see…"
"No. Data. Give me the data."
"Why does it matter?"
"Whatever it was you were feeling, at that moment, was enough for you to tell me you love me," John explained, as he settled himself back onto the couch. "For Sherlock Holmes to make any sort of sentimental confession, there has to be something…"
"Despair, okay? What I felt was despair." Sherlock hung his head. "Knowing I had already given up two and half years with you, and had only just gotten you back, the thought of losing you forever, being left here, alone, was unbearable."
"Sherlock?" John’s voice was barely audible. He waited for his friend to raise tear rimmed eyes to look at him. "Exactly."
"John…" Sherlock whispered.
"Except, I didn’t have to imagine it. I had to watch that despair and loneliness become my reality. Add to that the guilt of feeling that I didn’t do enough." John exhaled deeply, and grimaced with pain. He opened the laptop and brought up the video dated 7 May, 2012.
"Don’t. Just… I haven’t even seen these. Please, just let me do this, okay? You know how hard this is for me, bringing up the past. Don’t interrupt, yeah?"
Sherlock nodded silently.
St Bart's Hospital
External Camera C
It was never John Watson’s intention to end up on the roof of Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital…
"The date is wrong, John," Sherlock pressed pause and motioned to the corner of the computer screen.
"What did I say about interrupting me?" John snapped.
"But the date, John. I jumped on May 4th, not May 7th!"
"Yes, we’ve established that, Sherlock. This is the first time I went up there, that doesn’t mean it was the first anniversary."
"If you would let me talk, I could explain. Now be quiet and drink your tea," John implored. "And don’t stop the video again. I’m serious."
Sherlock sniffed. "Fine."
St Bart's Hospital
External Camera C
It was never John Watson’s intention to end up on the roof of Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Yet there he found himself, seated on the ledge of the roof, in the very spot Sherlock had jumped from, his back to the street below, both feet planted firmly on the rooftop, facing the smear of blood and skull fragments that James Moriarty had left behind when he had blown his own brains out.
Mycroft had assured John that Moriarty had ended himself, that Sherlock had no part in the criminal's death. Pity.
John shielded his eyes from the afternoon sun as he scanned his surroundings. The day was gorgeous, verging on too warm, which hardly seemed fair; he had assumed the day of the funeral would be overcast and dreary.
One last contradiction, just as Sherlock would have wanted it.
He didn't know what he was looking for. Something.
He loosened his tie, undid the restricting top button of his shirt, absently swiped his hands over his knees, and inhaled deeply. "C'mon, Sherlock. Talk to me."
Closing his eyes, John attempted to sort it all out in his mind. Certainly he had nothing so complex as Sherlock's mind palace to organize his thoughts. But he was a doctor and a soldier -- a diagnostician by trade and a strategist by training.
He knew how to compartmentalize, recall, and sort information, Sherlock just normally beat him to it.
"Sherlock." A strangled, broken plea.
Pounding a fist down on his thigh, John swore under his breath.
"HEY! Why do you get to stop the video?" Sherlock demanded.
"Because it's my story," John rebutted. Sherlock rolled his eyes in frustration. They silently agreed that was a terrible reason.
"The reason I stopped is because I'm not sure exactly how long I just... sat up there. A good long time, I know that. So I'm getting ready to tell you what I was thinking about while I was just sitting there. And then we can fast forward to speed things along."
"Ugh. Your internal thought process is so labored and... dull... John. Can't we just skip it all together?" Sherlock huffed and sunk deeper into the couch.
"No we cannot. There are a few things you don't know, because Mycroft didn't know them. I... figured a few things out." John ducked his head to avoid Sherlock's questioning look.
"What things? John, what did you figure out?"
"Hmm," John hummed knowingly as he pressed the play button.
St Bart's Hospital
External Camera C
"Sherlock." A strangled, broken plea.
Pounding a fist down on his thigh, John swore under his breath.
That Sherlock Holmes had taken a walk off the ledge of St Bart's roof just days earlier (three? Only three days?), had not been a part of the plan. John couldn't say for sure what said plan had actually been, but it had involved Sherlock being brilliant, coming to an impossible conclusion based on improbable proof, and him taking notes and keeping the consulting detective out of harm's way. The result should have been Moriarty locked up forever. Or maybe John could've had a go at shooting him. That would have been both acceptable and satisfying, to say the least.
John's intention was for this case to be the same as every other case. They'd come out victorious in the end, if a little worse for wear. Exhausted, egos a bit bruised, but intact. Together.
Then Sherlock had jumped. He'd plummeted to the ground with a nauseating thud, and pulled John's whole world down with him.
Sentiment. Stop. Focus.
There was no adrenaline rush of the after case high. No shared late night Chinese take away. No knowing glances and inappropriate snickering from the wrong side of the police tape.
There was only John, frantic, kneeling over the still, ethereal form of his friend as tendrils of blood spread out across the pavement.
Hands pulling him away.
Someone had been shouting. Maybe it was him. He could never really be sure.
He had clenched his fist when the tremor in his left hand started, until he realized his hand wasn't the only thing shaking.
John wasn't sure how long he knelt there, knees and chest aching. Long after they had carted off Sherlock's body he slumped there, eyes focused on nothing, reminding himself to breathe, and failing miserably.
He should probably cry, yeah? That's what people do (oh... nope... that phrase would not be revisited any time soon). But there weren't any tears to cry. No sobs to release.
Only loneliness. It raked its claws over his heart and infiltrated his mind.
He was alone.
So alone, even his own emotions had abandoned him. His senses betrayed him.
There was nothing.
Positively maudlin, Watson. Get it together.
A car door.
Yes, start with that. It all gets twisty with the car door.
Because the whole Moriarty disaster, and Sherlock doing the swan dive off the roof, wasn't quite screwed up enough.
The approach of a familiar footfall.
He knew to expect the metal tip of an umbrella before it snapped into his line of sight, soon to be followed by polished high end leather.
Something in the ridiculously mundane sight of this unwelcome interloper forced John to recover himself, and he focused his sight on the pattern of the blood pooled on the concrete just behind the wool clad legs in front of him.
There. Right there. Something was wrong.
He'd seen enough blood patterns, too many in fact, to recognize the difference between blood that had fallen to the ground from above and blood that had flowed out at ground level. There was something off in the way Sherlock's blood was pooled.
Definitely not right.
"Mycroft," John managed through clenched teeth.
"Doctor." Startled by the cool detachment of the other man's tone, John looked up sharply. From his vantage point, the already imposingly tall elder Holmes towered over him. He hadn't expected to find sympathy or compassion on Mycroft's face, but as it was his own brother's blood that marred the sidewalk, John had expected something. Grief. Hurt. Anger. Anything.
What greeted John were lips pressed into a tight thin line, gunmetal eyes fierce in their ability to be unreadable, and an overall posture of steeled reserve.
Mycroft revealed nothing.
John had seen this stoic facade before. It was all very Holmesian. But John knew Mycroft well enough to know that when a situation came down to Sherlock, big brother had a "look." It was protective and fierce, if muted and barely discernable to the uninitiated.
No. This look was a put on, and it was for John’s benefit alone.
Very not right.
"Help him up," Mycroft ordered one of his lackeys. John struggled against gruff hands that pulled him to his feet, and wavered a moment trying to regain his equilibrium. He took a breath and stood at attention, or as close to it as his still shaking nerves would allow, in an effort to let the man in front of him know he'd not tolerate inane abuses.
"James Moriarty is dead. Blew his own brains out moments before Sherlock jumped. Detective Inspector Lestrade has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately, for his part in allowing a sociopathic amateur detective and an invalided army doctor suffering from PTSD to traipse around his crime scenes and contaminate evidence. Every case Sherlock consulted on, every piece of evidence the both of you handled, every scene you stepped foot on, has to be reopened, reevaluated, and now risks being thrown out and the criminals being released into society." Mycroft was all business, quick and calculated in his delivery. John barely had time to take in all that had been said before he continued.
"Sergeant Donovan and her merry band of idiots have been sent out to collect you for arrest. They have been dispatched to Baker Street and your clinic. They will be here next. I suggest you join me in the car, unless you fancy an evening in lock-up."
John had nodded curtly, and followed Mycroft to the idling vehicle. He paused only long enough to scan the puddle of Sherlock's blood once more and snap a quick photo with his mobile.
"John," Mycroft motioned to the interior of the car. The sound of distant police sirens caused them both to turn and scan the street beyond them, only briefly, before hastily retreating into the safety of tinted windows and locked armored doors. Mycroft nodded at the driver and away they sped.
Having slumped down into the plush leather seat, John scrubbed a hand over his face. "Why." He knew he needn't elaborate. Mycroft was a Holmes, after all. He could do more with one syllable than most could do with a thesis.
"Assault charges. You did strike the Chief Superintendent, did you not?" Mycroft pretended not to hear John's distressed groan. "The Superintendent is an acquaintance, strictly business. Horrid man. I have arranged for the charges to disappear as we speak. More complicated, however, are the claims that you were an accessory to kidnapping. Those accusations cannot be simply swept away as they are tied to this whole," here Mycroft gestured with his hand, as if brushing away imaginary crumbs in the air, "Moriarty debacle that Sherlock has... had... got himself, and now you, mixed up in."
The stutter was unexpected. John didn't allow himself to respond, he only cast a quick sidelong glance at Mycroft, long enough to catch the elder Holmes blink his eyes closed slowly, and for just a fraction of a second longer than usual.
A bit not good, that. Especially if you're Mycroft Holmes.
For John Watson, it was everything.
"I will need a few days, but with your stellar service record, I am confident we can supply enough character evidence to have the claims dropped. Though you will likely receive summons to testify. Until then I have arranged a room for you, under an alias. You are to remain invisible until..."
"Until the funeral," John interrupted. "I'll not miss the memorial service."
Mycroft sighed with exasperation, in the way only a Holmes could, and the sound forced an unexpected twinge of grief to explode in John's chest. "Very well. Though do know you are severely limiting my ability to help you."
"Didn't ask for the help, though it's appreciated," John snipped, "but I'll not be prevented from attending my best friend's funeral." The words left a bitter taste in his mouth.
"Of course. I'll contact you with the arrangements," Mycroft had completely recovered his cool demeanor. "Will you be wanting to say a few words at the memorial?"
"I... ah..." It was John's turn to hold his eyes closed a beat longer. He had been Sherlock's flat mate, colleague, blogger, and friend. It would be expected of him to speak. To not would indicate weakness on his part. He was a lot of things, but weak was not one of them. "Fine. Yes."
"Very well," Mycroft nodded smugly, as if he already knew the answer, and the reason behind it. "Anthea, send Doctor Watson's measurements to Antoine. He will be in need of a decent suit for the memorial service. Shoes, belt, tie as well."
John, startled, sat up straight and noticed Mycroft's mysterious assistant seated in the corner of the seat across from them for the first time. She hummed a barely audible acknowledgement of the instructions given her, never lifting her eyes from her phone, though the rate of her typing increased drastically. "He'll be at the room tomorrow at 1:30 to make adjustments," she stated with bland indifference.
"Thank you, Anthea," Mycroft nodded once, and looked at John.
"What... What's that now?" John stammered.
"You mustn't leave the hotel. For your own protection. I have taken the liberty to provide everything you will need for the next several days. You'll find clothing, sleepwear, toiletries, a laptop, all at your disposal. Room service has already been prearranged, as I must insist you maintain your health. I could do nothing to stop my own brother's self destruction, I will not stand idly by and allow you to descend into his madness." Mycroft had always taken a rather disdainful tone when addressing John in the past. That his voice resonated with the condescension normally reserved for Sherlock caused something deep inside John to snap.
Not just something. No, specifically, it was his propriety, the pretense of decorum that he had worked years to construct, that cracked into a million little shards, exposing the rawness of his loneliness.
Feral, wild heartache.
"H... How dare... How. Dare. You." A threat as much as anything else, John's voice remained even, but the danger behind the tone forced even Anthea to glance up for a fleeting moment. John clenched and unclenched his fists.
John relished the fact that Mycroft noticed. The corner of his mouth quirked up ever so slightly.
"This is," John began quietly, controlled, so that Mycroft had to strain to really hear him, "as much your fault as it is anyone else's. Certainly the blame lies with Moriarty and his sick game. And with Sherlock for taking the bait. Fault falls to Lestrade and his officers for jumping to false conclusions. I failed in my own responsibilities, as Sherlock's friend, to protect him. But you... You," in a flash of agility that took Mycroft completely by surprise, John took advantage of the excess space between the seats of the car and had crouched in front of the elder Holmes, fisted a handful of his impeccably pressed shirt, and pulled his face within centimeters of his own, "betrayed him. Sold him out to the highest bidder. What was it? Information for information? This. All of this is on you. I hope it was worth it, Judas. Your brother is dead. Sherlock is dead, Mycroft." John spat the other man's name with venomous force, and shoved him back into his seat.
Taking his place next to Mycroft, John continued, "You don't get to dictate my life just because you feel guilty. You think you can prevent my descent into madness? You clearly haven't been paying attention. It's been a slow decline, but one that started long before I met Sherlock. Everyone thinks I grounded him, tamed him somehow. They're all blind idiots. We balanced each other out. He did as much to pull me from the grips of lunacy as I did for him. Now he's gone? There's no hope for me. I'd very much appreciate it if you'd just leave me to my misery. Just... forget you ever knew me. It'll be better for us both in the long run." John faltered slightly as he ended his tirade, but he continued to hold his head high and maintained eye contact with Mycroft.
When Mycroft shied slightly away from John's frigid glare, the doctor noted a definite sense of... accomplishment? Pride? Yes, pride. He had out iced the Ice Man.
"This is just part of..." Mycroft paused, eyes wide. For the second time, Anthea looked up sharply from her phone. The elder Holmes attempted to recover, "Sherlock would want this. For you to be protected. He never intended..."
Wait just a bloody moment. Mycroft Holmes was genuinely floundering.
Wrong. This is very, very wrong.
"Stop," John snapped. "I don't know what you're playing at, what the end game is here. So let me lay it out for you. I will cooperate with your little plan to clear my name. I'll be a good little soldier and obey orders to stand down. But the minute the funeral is over, we're done. Do you understand? And beyond that, you will do everything within your power to get Greg Lestrade reinstated, fully. I'm not forgiving him any time soon, but THAT is what Sherlock would have wanted. I don't care what happens to Donovan or Anderson, or the whole lot of them. They can rot for all I care. But you will help Lestrade. And you will. Leave. Me. Alone."
A moment later and the car pulled up to a garishly ornate hotel. John could easily imagine the Queen herself staying there. "God, Mycroft. Really?"
Anthea pulled an envelope from a very well concealed pocket, and handed it to Mycroft, who in turn slapped the packet into John's hands, his apathetic demeanor recovered. "Turn off your mobile. Now. No outside contact. No one. Antoine, 1:30 tomorrow. I will contact you; you will know it's me. If you attempt to leave before our agreed upon time, I will know, and necessary action will be taken to detain you. Do you understand?" John nodded with as much civility as he could muster. It wasn't much. "Good afternoon, Doctor," Mycroft issued the dismissal with indifference, and John took his leave without looking back.
John made his way to his room slowly, taking in the excessive opulence down every corridor. He was fairly certain he was underdressed. As he approached his room, he noted Mycroft's goons, ill-disguised as hotel staff, posted sporadically. He also noticed the poorly concealed bulges that indicated they were fully armed.
Lovely. If Donovan had arrested him, at least the guards wouldn't be carrying guns.
An errant gasp escaped as John stepped into the room he'd been assigned. If the corridors were excessive in their opulence, the room itself was superfluous in its extravagance. He was suddenly overcome with the fear that he was going to break... well, everything. Even the temporary indentations his shoes left in the plush carpet wracked him with guilt. God. What the bloody... Mini bar. John scanned the exorbitant price list and shrugged. Mycroft was paying. He grabbed four, hmm, no, five small bottles from the refrigerator without even looking at the labels, and dropped them onto the oversized, pillow laden bed. There was a brief moment where he considered showering and changing into the sleepwear Mycroft had provided, but honestly, who had the energy for such needless exertion? Especially when a fully stocked mini bar required his attention.
Toeing off his shoes, John stripped to his boxers and undershirt, flopped across the bed and opened the first bottle.
The whole weekend got just a touch blurry after that.
Okay. More than a touch.
Unfortunately there were some things he just couldn't forget.
While John's father and sister were always violent drunks, John himself was more disposed to becoming emotional when he drank. All the tears he couldn't seem to find as he knelt over Sherlock's body made their way to the surface that first long, bleak night alone in that hotel room with only his thoughts and the mini bar to keep him company. He hadn't even been able to watch television because it seemed every station was reporting the suicide of the fake genius.
He knew he hadn't slept at all that first night. He remembered a lot of cursing. He cursed Moriarty. He cursed LestradeandDonovanandAnderson as if they were one three headed conglomeration of a beast, and the whole of Scotland Yard. He cursed Mycroft. Vehemently.
And he cursed Sherlock. Oh, he really laid into Sherlock. Such vulgarities and venom. For every lie, for every wrong, for every little slight, perceived or otherwise.
John cursed Sherlock for being a coward, for taking the easy way out, for making him watch, and worst of all, for leaving him alone.
There were more tears, though medically speaking, he wasn't sure how that could be.
Then John remembers begging. Pleading. But not to a deity he wasn't sure even existed. No, he pleaded with Sherlock. To forgive him for the curses. He took them all back, every single one. See, Sherlock, it's okay, you can come back now. It's okay. Really. He promised to be better. To be braver, to be faster, to be a better shot, to be cleverer, and more forgiving.
But Sherlock never answered.
So there were more tears.
And the mini bar grew dangerously near empty.
It was in the throes of more drunken weeping that the illustrious Antoine made his entrance. It was the worst suit fitting either of them had ever experienced. The only thing they agreed upon was that neither would discuss the encounter once Antoine walked out that door.
John was 73% positive he had vomited in Antoine's sewing kit. He would never know for certain though, because despite everything, Antoine was a man of his word.
After that John decided he probably did need to bathe. He reeked of alcohol and sweat, and though it was probably just his imagination, all John could smell was death.
Once he was clean and wearing the pajamas Mycroft had sent, which he figured cost more than his entire wardrobe, he attempted, unsuccessfully, to eat something from one of the long abandoned and cold room service trays. John couldn't remember anything after that. He wanted to believe he fell asleep, but based on the number of empty glass bottles littering the room, he most definitely passed out. He desperately needed the rest, but once the alcohol started working its way out of his system, his mind started to clear, and recall.
And then the nightmares came.
Nearly half were simply Sherlock standing on top of St. Bart's. Sherlock tumbling through the air. Sherlock bleeding on the pavement. Over and over and over again.
Those dreams would have been more than enough torment, but John's mind had decided to punish him back for the abuse he had done with the liquor. At some point during his anguished sleep John's dreams shifted from London to Afghanistan, and every wound he had dressed, every soldier he couldn't save, passed back under his helpless hands, and every mangled one of them, at some point during his fruitless efforts, morphed into the likeness of Sherlock.
He woke from one such dream just before dawn on Sunday, and spent most of that day violently ill.
His only remaining friend, the mini bar, had turned on him.
A telegram arrived for him. Of course Mycroft would communicate by telegram. The memorial service was set for Monday (Monday? Tomorrow?) morning. John spent the entire evening and long into the night attempting to write a fitting eulogy for his best friend. By the time Mycroft's car came to collect him for the funeral John had managed some dry toast, aspirin and tea, a shower, to dress in his new suit, and to write exactly two words on the notepad he found in the hotel desk.
The service was held graveside and the casket was closed. The shiny black granite headstone stood attention, bearing the name of the one to be memorialized.
Odd, yeah? Grave markers take weeks, sometimes months to prepare and place. And where are the dates? Birth to death?
John had been to far too many gravesides to overlook the peculiarity, even considering the Holmes money and influence.
Attendance was sparse at best.
John had tuned out most of what was being said, and was staring with deep intent at the headstone. He was startled when someone said his name. It was his turn to speak. He stumbled only once, and made his way to the front of the small company. Mrs. Hudson's tears started anew when he made eye contact with her, and he had to look away. Molly avoided his gaze altogether. Lestrade appeared to be as hung-over as he himself had been not many hours before. And Mycroft glared. Everyone else, which amounted to about a dozen people, only a few John recognized, stared at him with sympathy. He'd seen that look before. Made it himself far too many times. It was the look of pity one reserved for the despairing widow of the dearly departed. John cursed in his mind; he was not Sherlock Holmes' bloody widow.
He steeled his nerves, narrowed his eyes, and stared back at the small gathering until a few of the guests began squirming uncomfortably. Mycroft had the audacity to clear his throat. John snapped his attention to the elder Holmes and suddenly realized Sherlock's parents were not in attendance. He knew Sherlock had parents, simply because he worked so hard to avoid them, and Mycroft made every diligent effort to include Sherlock in family functions.
Wrong. Wrongwrongwrongwrongwrong. They would be here. This is wrong. So very not right.
Digging in his suit pocket, John pulled the small notepad out and read over the words he had scribbled.
Yeah. Neither of those words were appropriate for mixed company, let alone a funeral for a man who, if John's growing suspicions were correct, wasn't actually dead.
With a shrug of his shoulders, John shook his head. "I've got nothing. I can't, I won't, do this." He ripped the page from the notepad, crumpled it up and tossed it into Mycroft's lap as he stormed away from the gathering.
"John? Dear?" Mrs. Hudson cried after him, and Lestrade stood to follow after him.
"Let him go," a rather scandalized Mycroft hissed as he re-crumpled the note and shoved it into his pocket.
With nowhere else to go, John caught a cab to Baker Street. The place had been tossed. John growled. Donovan would pay for this. He could think of 13 ways to kill her with her own badge, and not leave a mark.
A bit not good, Watson.
He rummaged through the bookshelf, and found the pack of cigarettes he had hidden from Sherlock two months ago. God. Two months. John headed to the kitchen and found a thermos he was relatively sure hadn't contained one of Sherlock's experiments, and carefully poured in what was left of the scotch Lestrade had given him for his last birthday. He made sure the clip in his gun was full and tucked it against the small of his back, grabbed an ink pen and a lighter from Sherlock's desk drawer, and slammed the door to 221b behind him.
And so he found himself on the rooftop of St. Bart's.
Sherlock sat silent for a beat. "That was..."
"Tedious? Dull?" John supplied.
"Hmm? No. I was going to say... enlightening. We'll have to discuss your observations later. I need to... process this information." Sherlock seemed deep in thought.
"Oh, well, okay Sherlock." John had hoped Sherlock would've been pleased with him, but this was Sherlock Holmes after all. "I'll fast forward now."
"Very well," Sherlock nodded slowly. "And John? I don't say this often enough. No one does; you're never given enough credit. But you really are brilliant. That," Sherlock pointed to the screen, and then gently tapped John's forehead, in an effort to indicate John's mind, "this is amazing. You are amazing."
John was grateful his face was slightly battered, so that the bruising could cover the blush that was spreading there. He nodded his head in thanks, words escaping him, and pressed play.
St Bart's Hospital
External Camera C
And so he found himself on the rooftop of St. Bart's.
He wasn't going to jump. He didn't have the stomach for it. Too much time to think before the end result. Even that was sketchy.
And wasn't that really why he was on the roof? Because it didn't happen often, but people had survived horrific falls, and if anyone could, it would be Sherlock. John pulled the notepad and ink pen from his jacket and began a list.
Proof Sherlock is dead:
1. No pulse.
2. So much blood.
3. They zipped him in a body bag.
4. Death certificate (?) Haven't seen it in person yet.
Proof Sherlock is still alive:
1. Moriarty offed himself, why would Sherlock have to die?
2. Lack of pulse can be faked. Reference: the four other times Sherlock pulled that trick, and twice he fooled me.
3. He said "It's a trick. It's just a magic trick."
4. The blood was pooled as if poured on the ground, and not as if it had seeped out. *see photo
5. Mycroft misspoke, and then blinked.
6. Mycroft misspoke again, and couldn't recover his initial thought.
7. Closed casket, could've been empty or weighted.
8. Headstone placed only three days after death, no birth/death dates present.
9. Sherlock's parents were not at the funeral.
Well. Perhaps Sherlock had been right all those times playing Cluedo. Maybe the victim could have done it after all.
"Now what?" John shouted at the sky. "What am I supposed to do now, Sherlock? Just sit here and wait for you to come back?"
John tossed the pad and pen away from him and buried his face in his hands.
"God, Sherlock. What have you done? I'm acting like a lunatic. Denial. Isn't that one of the stages of grief? Well, cheers to that, I'm finally doingsomething right for once in my life." With that John took a drink from the thermos and winced as the liquor hit his already weak stomach.
He cast a quick glance over to his notepad and realized the pen had rolled off towards one of the air conditioning units. From his slumped position he saw something catch a glint of sunlight.
"Hello, what's this now?" John shrugged off his suit jacket, tucked his gun and his tie into the inner pocket, and laid it gingerly on the ledge. He approached the cooling unit and got down on his stomach to conduct a search.
There. Just within his reach. A familiar piece of technology.
He had tossed it to the side before he jumped! John did remember that.
"Oh God. Oh my God. Sherlock. You bloody brilliant idiot." The battery was dead and the glass was cracked, but John knew a guy who knew a guy (oh God, thank you Sherlock) that could get past all that to access the contents.
Even if he couldn't prove Sherlock was still alive, though at this moment no one could convince him otherwise, he could at least prove him innocent. Sherlock would have recorded the meeting with Moriarty. Why wouldn't he have?
"Sherlock Holmes, when I find you I am going to kill you myself!" John screamed at the sky, unable to restrain a breathy laugh or to hold back tears. He picked up the pen and pad, and shoved them along with Sherlock's mobile into his jacket pocket.
He wouldn't be writing that note he had been outlining in the back of his mind after all. Now he had a purpose. If Sherlock really was dead, he would have time to mourn him after he cleared his name.
"Focus on the case, John." He turned to look out over the city, to see what Sherlock saw. Of course, he would never be able to see the way Sherlock saw, but maybe he could catch a glimpse...
What if, just for a moment, he stood where Sherlock stood? Could he feel what Sherlock felt? Perhaps see some great new insight? Strictly for research purposes. "For an experiment, John," he mimicked the phrase he'd heard a thousand times.
With a quick look around John stepped up to the ledge with extreme caution, feet spread a little farther than normal, and arms out to his sides just slightly. The view was dizzying and exhilarating all at once. He could see clearly where he himself had stood as Sherlock said his goodbye. He scooted forward a few centimeters, just so he could look down the side of the building and see what Sherlock saw as he fell.
It was terrifying and everything went a tad fuzzy for a moment. A bit not good.
Just as he moved to slowly step back off the ledge, the door to the roof burst open and a familiar voice screamed his name. John's new dress shoes had not yet been sufficiently broken in, and his foot slipped, causing him to pitch forward...
"Sherlock? Sherlock breathe. You're going to pass out. In and out. Slowly. C'mon Sherlock, breathe," John paused the video only after he managed to pry his aching sprained wrist from his flat mate’s death grip.
"Sherlock! Snap out of it! I'd smack you if I could, but it really would hurt me more than it would hurt you!" John commanded.
Sherlock blinked. And again. Then drew in a slow, shaky breath.
"Where’s Lestrade? Get him here now. I'm going to kill him," Sherlock growled.
"God Sherlock, calm down."
"I... he... you..." the consulting detective huffed, unable to formulate a cohesive sentence as he motioned to the frozen image of John on the ledge.
"Yes Sherlock, Greg knows better than to run into a situation and startle someone who is literally on the edge. But he wasn't thinking clearly here," John was using his calmest doctor voice to ease Sherlock back from the brink of uncontrollable rage.
"But, look John. Look at you. You could die!" Sherlock's voice continued to rise.
"Sherlock. Hey, look at me." John laid his hand on Sherlock's shoulder only to have the other man wrench away from his touch. "Sherlock Holmes, you idiot, look at me right now!" John demanded with his Captain voice.
Dragging the back of his hand across his eyes and inhaling deeply, Sherlock turned to John with tear rimmed eyes. "You were never supposed to go up there, John. I can't. I don't want to see any more. I can't take it."
"I've already told you, I didn’t go up there to kill myself. I was never going to jump. And not that I want to spoil the ending but, Greg being an idiot didn't kill me either," John chuckled at his joke, but Sherlock only glared in return. "Just, let's finish this one, and then you can decide if we go on or not, okay? This one's almost done. I promise."
Sherlock exhaled deeply, and nodded. "Right. Proceed."
St Bart's Hospital
External Camera C
Okay. John stepped back. Door burst open. Lestrade screamed. New shoes slipped. John pitched forward.
Slightly. Barely at all. He righted himself almost immediately.
Unfortunately, Lestrade was under duress, very hung over, and terrified of another friend pitching himself off the roof of St. Bart's. In a demonstration of pure adrenaline, the D.I. reached John in ten steps, grabbed the doctor by the back of his belt, swung him off the ledge and pinned him down.
"You idiot! What do you think you're doing? God John, you bloody moron, why? Why would you do such a stupid, selfish thing? God. GOD. So stupid. Scared me to death. Get up so I can kill you myself!" Lestrade raged, gasping for air. His hands were shaking as he fisted handfuls of John's shirt and dragged him up. "I said get up! What were you thinking?"
"Get. Off. Me. Now." John threatened.
"Not until you bloody well explain yourself!" Lestrade shouted back.
Without so much as a flinch to signal warning, John landed a solid right hook on Lestrade's jaw, knocking the D.I. back two steps. "Do not touch me again," John growled, and Lestrade immediately released the hold he had on John's shirt.
"God John. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Lestrade put his hands up in front of him, admitting defeat. "I just, I saw you up there, and I panicked."
"Wasn't in any danger until you burst up here like an idiot. I wasn't going to jump, I was just trying to see... I don't know, to see what he saw before he jumped." John shrugged.
"You mean, I... oh God, I almost killed you?" Lestrade's knees went weak under him, and he fought to catch his breath.
"Okay, calm down Greg. Everyone's fine. I'm okay. You'll be okay if you start breathing," John put his arm around Lestrade's shoulders and directed him to sit down on the ledge. "In and out, slowly now. Here, take a drink," John handed Lestrade the thermos.
"Holy... what is that?" Greg choked as he swallowed.
"The Birthday gift you gave me. Smooth, yeah?" John laughed. He fished the cigarettes and lighter from his coat jacket pocket. "You look like you could use one of these."
"Doctor Watson, have you taken up smoking? For shame!" Lestrade's laugh was breathy and uncertain.
"They were Sherlock's. I guess I was feeling sentimental. Was going to light one, just to smell him one last time." John looked away. "It's stupid."
"No, no it's not. It's beautiful and oddly appropriate. Here," Lestrade pulled two cigarettes from the package and lit them at the same time. "Wish we had matches. My granddad always used matches, that's what I use to use too. Sherlock have a preference?" Lestrade handed John a cigarette, and turned the lighter over in his hand.
"Not really. He'd use whatever would light. The lighter, matches, the fire place, his bunson burner, the gas stove. A burning house one time," John huffed a laugh.
"Of course he did." Lestrade chuckled. He raised his cigarette, and John followed suit. "Sherlock, you idiot, wherever you are, this is for you."
Lestrade puffed away in silence as he watched John struggle with the dilemma of the cigarette in his hand. The doctor slowly raised it to his lips, drew in a halting breath, proceeded to nearly choke to death, and snuffed the cigarette right out.
"Lightweight," Lestrade laughed. "So, if you weren't going to jump, why come up here?"
John sighed. "Answers. I needed answers."
"Yeah? You find anything?"
"I did, actually."
Lestrade turned to John. "Really? Do tell."
"Well, I got to see for myself where Moriarty bled out. Kind of unnerving that it hasn't been cleaned up, isn't it?"
"Hmm," Lestrade hummed in agreement as he lit up another cigarette.
"And I found Sherlock's mobile," John hesitated. "Shouldn't have told you. You're going to make me turn it in, aren't you?" John started to panic.
"God no. I'm on disciplinary leave right now. I'm not going to do them any favors. You get the information you need off that phone before you even think about turning it in." Lestrade waved his hand dismissively.
John released the breath he was holding, and smiled. "Thanks Greg. Thank you." He trailed off as a sinister thought entered his mind.
"If you're off duty, why are you up here? You had no way of knowing I'd be up here. You weren't..." John didn't finish his thought, he couldn't.
Greg stretched his legs out in front of him, snuffed out his cigarette, and sighed. "Yeah, yeah I was."
"God. Who's the stupid, selfish, idiot now, you hypocrite?" John asked, not unkindly. "What happened?"
Lestrade stood. "What hasn't happened, John?" His voice cracked and he scrubbed his hand over his face. "Sherlock was right, you know. My wife was having an affair. I should have left, but I stayed, tried to work it out. But when all this mess with Sherlock and Moriarty started, she used my involvement in the case as her reason to file for divorce. I was still staying at the house, in the guest room, until I could find a place. Then I got the disciplinary action filed on Friday afternoon, and I can still lose my job, which set her off. This morning she told me that if I decided to go to the funeral, I should just plan on never coming back. No way was I not going. When I got home after there was a suitcase and a cardboard box with my stuff waiting for me on the front stoop."
Greg ran his hand over his hair, and hung his head. He made no effort to keep his tears at bay. "As if all of that isn't bad enough... My wife is in love with another man, and my career is over, Sherlock jumped, and it's my fault. Why didn't I just listen to you? Why did I have to go along with Donovan? God. I've known Sherlock for years. Seen him at his very worst. There is one thing he would never lie about, never jeopardize. He would never risk his work. He might lie, cheat, and do any other number of illegal things to prove his point, but he would never, ever fabricate a case just so he could solve it and take the credit. God. I'm so stupid. I know he didn't take those kids and poison them. He didn't make those bombs. But he died thinking I believed he had."
Convulsed with sobs, Greg dropped to his knees in front of John. "I'm sorry, John. I am so sorry. Can you ever forgive me? I know I don't deserve it, but, God, if you could find it in you to forgive me then I could... I... I could die knowing at least one person knew the truth. And I..."
"Shut up!" John barked, his eyes ablaze with anger. Lestrade inhaled sharply and shut up. "God, Greg. I am so angry at you. I mean, so, so pissedright now. Yeah, I'm mad you didn't stand up for Sherlock, but you had to do your job. No one, not even Sherlock, could fault you for that. Right now, I'll forgive that. But if you jump off this building, or try any other cowardly stunt, I will NEVER forgive you. Not ever. Do you understand me? I will hate you more than I have ever hated anyone or anything."
John was seething. He clenched and unclenched his fists repeatedly, and had begun to rock front to back. His breathing was quick and shallow. Greg had been around John long enough to recognize the beginning of a panic attack. "John, you have to calm down. You're going..."
"No! You don't tell me what to do. You don't get to tell me to calm down. Greg, you just told me you were going to jump off this building. How am I supposed to react to that? Were you going to do it in front of me too? Force me to watch another friend die? Remind me again how inadequate I am? You'll excuse me if I can't calm down right now." John's voice had grown increasingly frantic.
"I swear to God, Greg, if you jump off this building, I'll jump too. Do you hear me? Blow your own brains out? I'm an excellent shot, I never miss my target. Pills? I've got a prescription pad. I mean it. Anything you can possibly think to try, know with certainty, I will be exactly one step behind you. So what'll it be, Greg? How are we going to die today?" John knew he was being cruel, that his words bit hard with venom, but he couldn't find it within himself to care one ounce.
Lestrade stared back at him in shock, horror etched on his face. He opened his mouth once to speak, but shut it quickly.
"Sherlock was my best friend, Greg. He jumped in front of me, and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it, to save him. After him, there's just you. Do you hear me?" Tears tracked down John's face unchecked.
Lestrade wrapped his arms around his middle and doubled over. "I think I'm going to be sick. Oh God. John. John I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He barely managed a whisper.
"This is going to be the hardest thing either of us has ever done. We need each other, yeah? We've both lost people before, in the most horrible ways imaginable. We made it through that, we can make it through this. But it has to be together. Okay? Can you hold on? For me? And I'll promise you the same." John's tone was even, and measured. Not calm, nor even necessarily kind, but precise. He held out his hand to Greg.
The D.I. nodded slightly and grasped John's hand. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I can do that. But I have to warn you, I can be insufferable when I'm miserable." He stood slowly, the shift in posture causing his head to go a little dizzy. He closed his eyes and took a few controlled breaths.
While Greg calmed himself, John pulled the notepad and pen from his jacket pocket, and started writing furiously.
"What's all that?" Greg asked.
"You're going to help me clear Sherlock's name... and possibly prove he's still alive..."
"John, wait. What are you on about? You saw his body. There was a funeral?" Lestrade was incredulous.
"I have evidence. We'll get to that later," John waved the topic off with his hand, and returned to what he had written. "You're going to help me clear Sherlock's name, and I'm going to help you get reinstated. I've already asked Mycroft to help. I'm going to stand by you through this divorce, and you're going to stay on the couch at 221b until you can get settled someplace. No, don't argue. I can't handle being lonely. It'll kill me. This is purely selfish." The two men shared a look of understanding.
"No matter what happens, every year on the 4th of May we'll meet right back here. We'll light a cigarette in Sherlock's memory, and share some bad scotch," John looked to Greg for his approval.
"Cheers," Lestrade nodded his assent.
"And," John hesitated. "And we both agree... if the other does something rash, like offs himself, whoever is left will follow suit." John shrugged, and looked up with sadness in his eyes.
"A suicide pact," Greg stated flatly. He paused and thought a moment. "Hmm. It'll certainly keep us accountable, won't it? Where do I sign?"
John sighed in relief. "Here. And I'll sign here. Too bad we can't have a suicide pact drawn up into legal documents."
"When you were a lad, ever spit shake with your mates? The most legally binding contract you could enter into, you know," Lestrade offered.
John huffed a laugh. "Oh God, yes. That's perfect." The two men stood facing one another, after an awkward pause, each spit into their right hands and they shook on their agreement, binding themselves to one another. The handshake gave way to a hug that was really less sentiment, and more two lost souls clinging to each other for dear life. "Brothers in arms," John whispered. Overcome, Greg could only nod in agreement.
"Let's get off this bloody roof," John broke from the hug first, and collected his belonging from the ledge. "I need to eat something. And drink so very much."
"Agreed," Lestrade smiled weakly. He paused by the blood stain Moriarty left behind. "Wherever you are, I hope you're suffering," he hissed, and spit on the stain. He spit once again, for good measure.
"Rot in hell," John growled, then followed Greg's lead and spit on the stain twice. He turned sharply and marched to the door, Greg following closely at his heels as they vanished from the frame.
Silence hung heavy between the flat mates as minutes ticked by. John cleared his throat and massaged his aching right shoulder with his aching left hand. God, this was going to be a long recovery.
Sherlock watched his every move.
"Do you care to explain that little agreement between you and Lestrade?" Sherlock was working very hard to hide any hint of emotion.
"What more is there to explain? We agreed to help each other, which we did. And we kept each other from doing something stupid. Good thing, that. Since you came back." John offered a small smile.
"Is this a joke to you?" Sherlock exploded. "You... you signed a contract to kill yourself. With Lestrade. A suicide pact, John. Suicide. You promised another human being to kill yourself. I... I don't know how to take that. I don't know if I can get past that!"
"YOU get past that?" John couldn't mask his shock. "You jumped off a bloody building and made me watch. That alone nearly killed me. I cannot begin to number the days I woke up after that day, and the only thought I had was that I probably ought to end it all and stop being a burden to everyone around me. The only thing that kept me from that most days was knowing I couldn't ask Greg to do the same. That contract saved my life, Sherlock. It is the only reason I am alive, sitting here right now."
Sherlock gasped sharply. His quick eyes searched every part of John's face. "Do you still... Do you ever... Since I've been back, have you..."
John nodded slowly. "Yeah, twice."
As a medical professional John knew it was physically impossible for words to literally tear a man's heart out. As a human being who had borne more than his share of suffering, John recognized the second his words destroyed his best friend.
Sherlock's hands flew to his throat, and he clawed and struggled to undo the upper most buttons, as if the shirt was strangling him. The bruise around his neck from the night before stood out in stark contrast against the white shirt.
"No, I can't... I can't breathe... I... Oh God." Sherlock jumped from the couch and dashed to the toilet to vomit. John could hear his friend weeping, and he slowly worked his way off the couch and limped glacially along to the bathroom.
"My fault. It's my fault." Sherlock repeated as he lay curled around the toilet.
John positioned himself to lean against the door frame in such a way as to relieve the pressure from his right leg. "What you have to understand, Sherlock, is that after you jumped my PTSD issues were still there, only I had to deal with triggers and memories in relation to you as well as the war. I had nightmares about you, or worse, nightmares about you in Afghanistan. Some mornings I would wake up consumed with grief. But the really bad days, the days I needed Greg to remind me why I had to stay alive, were the days I would wake up and forget that you were gone. The realization would creep up on me, and I would be ready to give up completely. Those days never went away. As a matter of fact, the day before you came back, Greg had to come and sit with me for three hours."
With a sorrowful sigh, John pressed on. "After you came back, the nightmares eased up drastically. But I still have them. And it's always you. London or Afghanistan, it's always you I can't save. And those two times I mentioned? Happened that first month you were back. I woke up both mornings, and had forgotten that you were back. I was disoriented and terrified. You thought I left for work, but Greg picked me up both days, and he helped me through it. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to burden you with it. I couldn't bear the thought of this..." John motioned to indicate Sherlock in his prone and weeping state.
"I started setting an alert on my mobile, so the first thing I see every morning is a reminder that you're alive, and that you're here. And it works. Even if I wake up initially panicked, it assures me that you aren't going anywhere, you haven't left me alone, and I'm coping. Those panic days are fewer and farther between."
Sherlock hiccupped as he tried to swallow back a sob. "But you're only having to cope because of me. I am the cause of your distress. And there isn't anything I can do to fix it."
John sighed again. "Seems to me I've done a pretty spectacular job of causing you some serious distress as well. How about we call it a draw?"
Reaching for the roll of toilet tissue, Sherlock sat up and blew his nose. He sat for a moment, staring at John intently. "I need you to promise me," his voice was shaky, but he pressed on, "the minute you realize you're experiencing any distress at all, you'll let me know. No matter where we are, or what is happening. Will you do this for me?" John nodded. "Good. Very good." Sherlock looked John over once more. "You're in considerable pain. Why are you standing there? God, John, it's as if you only know how to make poor decisions. I'm going to help you back to the couch, we'll order dinner... Chinese, I think. Okay? And we'll pick up from there."
Sherlock extracted himself from his awkward position alongside the toilet, washed his hands and splashed his face, and offered John his arm for support.
"We're going to be okay, Sherlock. You and I, together. We're going to be fine." John's voice was barely more than a whisper.