“Court rise! The honorable Judge Wellington-Smith presiding.”
The obedient shuffling of feet echoed around the courtroom. The judge entered, red and black robes flowing smoothly behind him. He sat heavily, the creaking of the judicial platform in concert with the rest of the chairs in the room, and examined the papers in front of him closely. His plump fingers constantly adjusted the small glasses on his round ruddy face. After a minute, he gestured to the clerk.
“Members of the jury, the prisoner stands indicted for that he, Sherlock Holmes, on the 23rd day of March, did, without lawful excuse, murder John Hamish Watson. How do you plead, Mr. Holmes?”
Sherlock stood slowly, the clinking of his handcuffs abnormally loud in the silence. He knew that there were 63 people in the court, equivalent to 126 eyes, and he could feel them all on him. Mrs. Hudson’s sad brown ones on the nape of his neck, Lestrade’s concerned frown on the side of his temple, Harriet Watson’s accusing glare boring through his center. He tried to imagine John’s eyes; they would be fond, even now, and always slightly melancholic.
Sherlock woke up in his clothes, hopelessly tangled in the sheets of his bed. He had been sweating profusely during the night, judging by the stiffness of his clothes and their frankly awful smell. His head ached slightly and his muscles were sore. Must have been a restless night. He stood up gingerly and headed for the shower.
He wandered aimlessly into the kitchen, hair dripping onto the counter. Maybe if he sat long enough, John would make him a tea. John. No, John had been angry, so John had gone out. Ergo no tea. He gave a plaintive yell for Mrs. Hudson, but she was out too. He began to itch for something to do, so forgetting the tea, he picked up the violin and plucked absently as he listened for John’s return.
His mobile rang instead. Looking up, he saw it was already midday. The light fuzziness that had skirted the edges of his mind since the morning still had not let up. He picked up the phone to hear Lestrade on the other line.
“Sherlock? I need you to come down to Bart’s. There’s...a body you need to look at.”
“Fine. Something interesting?”
“Just come, please. As soon as you can.”
Something that Lestrade refused to talk about was always interesting, so Sherlock was down at Bart’s morgue within twenty minutes. What he opened the door to, though, was more disturbing than interesting. Mycroft stood there, along with Molly and Lestrade. Molly was wringing her hands and alternating her gaze between the floor and Sherlock. Her eyes were red-rimmed. Lestrade stood still, gaze focused on some spot above Sherlock’s head. Mycroft’s features were composed in an impassive mask, his eyes watching Sherlock as carefully as he was watching him.
“Judging from your expressions and the ominous presence of my brother, this is something personal...” The rest of the deductions died on his lips. He managed to get only a few steps away from the body before Mycroft blocked him.
“The body was found in a skip three miles away. The victim sustained a gunshot wound to the head and then was burned in the skip. We got the call after the fire department put it out.” Lestrade said stiffly, systematically avoiding any gender and name. “No discernible identification was found on the body.”
“DNA?” Sherlock asked in his most steady tone. Mycroft’s infuriating face kept blocking his view.
“Sherlock,” Molly sobbed out, covering her face, “I’m so sorry, oh God, I’m so sorry!” So it was someone Molly knew - that left John and Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock could barely form a thought over the relentless hammering of his heart.
“It’s John, Sherlock. I am sorry.” Mycroft’s tone was soft. He did not step aside. The pounding of his heart was all Sherlock could feel now. He felt as if every single bone in his body vibrated in tandem with its beat. Molly’s sobs started again, painfully loud even as Lestrade tried to calm her down. Sherlock would have given anything to cry, scream, hit, to do something besides stand dumbly and tremble. Mycroft made a move to grasp his arm and guide him away, but he jerked away sharply. Mycroft lowered his hand and stepped aside, leaving only a white sheet and a metal table in front of Sherlock.
He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, rooted to the spot, without a single thought running through his once brilliant mind. Eventually, a single morbid curiosity settled down. He pulled the sheet down slowly, becoming painfully aware of the smell of burnt flesh. What he saw under it made him freeze. He was young again, when things he did not understand made him hide in fright instead of excite and thrill him. Barely anything remained of the face but the mouth, which was open grotesquely wide - enough to see the burnt remains of the tongue sticking to the back of the throat.
And then he was out of the room, rushing for the small window. His breath was coming in shallow gasps as he fisted his hands in his coat pockets. He wanted to go, go where, go home, find John...stupid, stupid idiot, you found John, he’s there on the table, go say hello, watch him scream, watch him die, he did it for you nobody would’ve hurt him if it wasn’t for you congratulations you won again because love is losing and you’re losing your-
“Sherlock!” Mycroft. Of course. He’s looking down sternly, but he’s sad, and why shouldn’t he be? Sherlock would be sad too, if he could feel.
Sherlock felt himself being hauled up (how did he end up on the floor) and moved gently along. A black car, a nice hearse. And then home and a needle. Maybe Mycroft would let him have the cocaine now.
“The prosecution calls Martha Evelyn Hudson to the stand.”
“Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
Mrs. Hudson looked small and poised in the witness box, her usual bright blouse a somber gray color. She had spent the last few days arranging John’s funeral with Lestrade and trying to coax Harry out of drinking herself to death, but still sat calmly as Thomas Grey approached from the prosecution desk. She was not a stranger to court cases.
“Mrs. Hudson - or would you prefer Martha?” Thomas Grey was the same slippery character that populated the Inns of Court, but who seemed to make it his personal mission to tout the morals and values of British society.
“Mrs. Hudson, if you would.”
“Mrs. Hudson, is it true that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have been your tenants since January 29th, 2011 until the untimely death of Dr. Watson?”
“Yes, that is correct,” she answered, ignoring him in favor of looking directly at the jury.
“And how would you describe them as tenants?”
“Oh, it was never boring,” she chuckled. “They were always on some exciting adventure. You can read about them on John’s blog.” She kept smiling politely at Mr. Grey.
“Oh, believe me, I have. And how did Mr. Holmes come to share a flat with Dr. Watson and engage him in such fantastical pursuits?”
“An old friend of John’s introduced them. John had been looking for flat in London and Sherlock had been looking for a flatmate.”
“And why did you take Mr. Holmes as a tenant in the first place? His records show that he had been forcibly evicted from the last three buildings he lived in. Hardly a recommendation.”
“Sherlock helped me with delicate situation in the past. We became fast friends.”
“And by delicate situation, did you mean providing the evidence to sentence your husband to death in Florida?” The jury exchanged horrified looks.
“Objection! That is irrelevant to the ongoing investigation,” the defense spoke up sharply.
“Mr. Grey? Is this relevant?” The judge looked passively at him.
“Trust me, my lord, it is.” The judge waved him on to continue, letting his watery eyes droop down once more.
“Yes, if you must know. My husband was not a good man. There was nothing illegal or immoral about what Sherlock did.”
“Quite. So you agreed to a very generous monthly rent, and Mr. Holmes went to find a flatmate. How long did it take him to find one?”
“About a month and half,” she answered after a pause.
“6 weeks! That’s quite a while. Any reason in particular for this delay?”
“Sherlock is not...the easiest person to live with.”
“Please elaborate, Mrs. Hudson.” Mr. Grey prompted with a smile. Mrs. Hudson fixed him with a cool gaze.
“He has been considered by others, on occasion, rude and inconsiderate. He can be cold and aloof at times, which tends to put some people off,” Mrs. Hudson said with extreme hesitancy. “And, like all brilliant men, he makes a mess.” This earned her a small chuckle from the jury.
“And how would you describe Dr. Watson?” Mrs. Hudson visibly tensed, feeling the trap but unable to avoid it.
“He was very nice. Incredibly kind and generous. Good sense of humour - had a bit of a bite to him as well. Neat, like all military men.” Mrs. Hudson stopped, obviously lost for more generalities to state.
“It would seem the old adage is right - opposites do attract. How would you describe their...” he gestured broadly, “their relationship to one another?”
“It was a deep friendship - they were practically inseparable. Sherlock was quite taken with John since the beginning.”
“And, to your knowledge, did Mr. Holmes have many friends or close relationships?”
“I’m not sure,” Mrs. Hudson seemed to resist the very words. “DI Lestrade was one of his earliest friends, as I recall.”
“So, it would not be out of line for me to assume that when dealing with someone who has little experience with relationships and who might also possess an abrasive personality, there might have been some tension between them as well?”
“No more than with anyone else sharing close quarters.”
“That maybe so, but you testified earlier to the police that on March 22nd, there was a falling out between Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson. Is that correct?”
“Yes. Yes, it is.”
“Can you elaborate on the circumstances of the fight?”
“I’m afraid no more than what I’ve said before. I heard raised voices, but I could not make out what was being said. My hearing isn’t what it used to be. Then John opened the door and left.”
“In your opinion, was this fight more serious than ones they had in the past?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Were there any severe parting words exchanged that night?”
“I’m not sure, my hearing -”
“Perjury is a serious offence, Mrs. Hudson. Consider what you are about to say very carefully.” Mr. Grey came over to stand closer to the witness box, ignoring the defense’s protests and the judge’s sleepy replies.
“I heard John say, ‘One day, I’m just going to move out and see if you even notice before the end of the month.’” Sherlock replied,” she paused heavily, fidgeting with the seam of her skirt. “He said, ‘Go on, leave. See what happens.’” Quiet murmurs started up from the jury and the gallery. Mrs. Hudson looked absolutely crestfallen.
“We all say things we don’t mean when we are angry,” she continued. “They’ve said worse things to each other before.”
“Had Dr. Watson threatened to move out before?”
“Not that I know of,” she finished quietly. “But that doesn’t mean anything! Sherlock is a good man and he cared for him!”
“Not to be critical of your evaluations, Mrs. Hudson, but your husband cared for you too. That will be all.”
“Sedated. Still sleeping, if we are lucky. I’m sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, Mrs. Hudson.”
“I still can’t - he was just here yesterday, Mycroft - look,” she pointed to some dirty plates on the table, “we had dinner together and then he went to update his blog...” She let out a small sob, handkerchief wiping furiously at her eyes. “Oh, my poor John. This just so senseless. Why, of all people, did it have to be him? God, Sherlock, I can’t even imagine...if he got that broken up about some girl, I just...what are we going to do? What can I even tell him?”
“I don’t know, Mrs. Hudson. I really don’t.”
“Do you even know who might have done it?”
“We’re working on it.” There was a soft creak from the other room and both of them froze.
“He won’t come out of his room. At least, not for the next few days,” Mycroft whispered. “I checked it - it was clean. Don’t do anything yet, Mrs. Hudson, not the dishes, not folding John’s clothes, not locking John’s bedroom. Leave everything as is and call me if he doesn’t drink any water by tomorrow.” He turned to leave, but stopped. “I’m truly sorry about John. He was dearly loved.”
Mrs. Hudson was left alone. She puttered about, straightening a few things here and there. Tears kept on blurring her vision, but she kept on dabbing them with her sodden handkerchief. She decided to call Harriet and make some plans. Someone should post a farewell message on John’s blog. They could host something in his memory - at Baker Street, if Sherlock was up for it. For the first time in a long time, Mrs. Hudson felt truly old.
“How long have you known Sherlock Holmes, Detective Inspector?”
“Um, about six years now.”
“And has he, to your knowledge, at any point in those six years, engaged in destructive and illegal activities?”
“Please state for the jury which ones exactly.”
“He was arrested for the possession of cocaine twice.”
“And, according to the records, he was evaluated by a court psychiatrist. Were you aware of the psychiatrist’s medical opinion?”
“No, not exactly. I knew she had some misgivings about him, but I never inquired.”
“According to her written testimony, she says that Mr. Holmes suffers from antisocial personality disorder. Psychiatric records going back to his childhood corroborate the fact. Does this come as a surprise to you?”
“I’m really not sure.”
“Let me try to clarify - according to the diagnostic manual on psychological disorders, a person suffering from antisocial personality disorder is manipulative and charming, disregards own safety and the safety of others, shows arrogance and impulsiveness, and has problems with substance abuse. They are violent, but express no guilt over their actions. Would you deny that many, if not all, of these traits apply to the behavior Mr. Holmes exhibits?
“I can’t, but under that logic, all of us would exhibit some sort of psychological disorder.”
“Would you deny that the presence of these symptoms has impeded Mr. Holmes’ normal functioning in society, in terms of criminal behavior and the absence of social connections, and has at times, been a cause of distress?”
“I cannot deny that,” Lestrade admitted. “But it’s not some mental disorder. Unless being a genius is a mental disorder.”
“Not to doubt your credibility as an investigator, but you are not qualified to make assumptions on the diagnoses of mental health experts. Jury will disregard.”
“Since Mr. Holmes has been diagnosed by...one, two, three, four different psychologists with this specific disorder,” Grey continued, “I think it is safe to assume that this label is applicable. When asked about the possibility that Mr. Holmes could have killed Dr. Watson in cold blood, Dr. Laura McTaggart, who testified before you, stated that it was entirely possible, even likely, given the circumstances. Do you, Detective Inspector, with your experience in the Homicide Department at New Scotland Yard, believe the same?”
“I don’t,” Lestrade stated firmly.
“Do you believe it completely impossible that Sherlock Holmes could murder someone?”
“I think it’s possible for him to murder someone, just as it is possible for me to murder someone. But he would never murder John. That I will never believe.”
“It’s not looking good, Sherlock.”
Sherlock exhaled slowly, stretching his hands against the cuffs.
“Let me guess. They found no traces of accelerant on the body, but it is clear the body could not have burned that fast without it. It must have been a volatile chemical, whose container you no doubt found in the bins several blocks away. An investigation of St. Bart’s stock inventory showed one canister went missing that night. The gunshot wound was from a small handgun at close range. No gun was found at the scene, and an examination of John’s handgun showed that it was clean. No CCTV footage is available, nor were any prints found at the scene. No break-in at the flat either. A professional job, but if the point was to hurt me, why have there been no further strikes? This was personal, and that leaves only one suspect - me.”
Lestrade carefully closed the file he had just opened. He knew better than to think Sherlock hadn’t been spying over people’s shoulders since the minute he was arrested. “Do you have anyone that can vouch for you that night?”
“And you don’t remember anything after the fight?”
“God, Sherlock, I just...This isn’t good,” Lestrade sighed. “Be honest - do you remember feeling angry at John? Frustrated? Sad? Anything?”
“No. As I said, I don’t remember.”
“Sherlock, do you realize that when the jury hears this, they are going to think you’re a...a...a psychopath?! Someone who just kills their flatmate because he threatened to leave!” Lestrade leaned back, rubbing a hand over his face. He should have taken himself off this case, but he didn’t trust anybody else to understand how Sherlock is. Maybe he didn’t understand either.
“And do you believe that, Inspector?”
Did he? The evidence was pointing in Sherlock’s direction and he had no alibi. Wasn’t he taught to always look at the facts? And if there was anything they had missed, Sherlock would have pointed it out by now. God, this couldn’t be happening. He knew Sherlock and he knew John and Sherlock wouldn’t just kill John out of the blue. Or would he, because it had been John? John was going to leave and Sherlock had always been unstable - maybe Lestrade just never knew how much.
“I don’t know. I really don’t. But tell me the truth - could you have? Could you have done it and then ‘deleted’ the whole thing?”
Sherlock’s gaze was focused on his hands, which were clasped loosely together on the table. His face remained just as impassable as it had been when he was brought in. He could have been mistaken for a marble statue if not for the stark dark circles under his eyes.
“I don’t know.”
After escorting Sherlock back to his cell under the cold glares of his colleagues, Lestrade took the rest of the day off to help Mrs. Hudson with John’s memorial service. He promised to look through the photos and videos that Harry brought over to see which ones to use. He rifled through the numerous photo albums Harry had provided for two hours, coming up with about twenty good photos. Lestrade stretched and took a walk around the room to get his blood flowing again. He poked and prodded a few things, smiling sadly, and examined the contents of a few drawers. What he found in one surprised him - it was a professional camera. He was sure John wouldn’t waste money on something like that, so that left Sherlock. Without thinking, he took it out and plugged it into his laptop.
At first there were some blurry shots of a man and a cat, with John’s head making a quick appearance. That was followed by some truly gruesome time lapses that made Lestrade grateful he didn’t bother with lunch. Next was a video that showed John cooking, completely unaware of Sherlock’s presence. Lestrade could hear opera playing softly in the background. Several minutes passed without anything happening, when a voice joined in with the music. John’s voice was surprisingly clear and strong as he sang along in flawless Italian, stirring the soup in tune. Sherlock had kept filming for ten minutes, after which John came out of the kitchen and the camera was turned off to the sound of a self-satisfied chuckle. Lestrade could only let out a surprised ‘huh’.
What followed after that was a collection of random photos of John - close up, far away, laughing, on the phone, cooking, reading, writing, etc. Interspersed with them were candid videos of John singing. Lestrade’s favorite had to be John crooning in German to some trout he was frying. From the perspective of someone who worked with Sherlock a long time, Lestrade understood that this collection was nothing less than a case study.
The last photo of the set was likely taken by Mrs. Hudson because Sherlock had finally appeared next to John. They were standing in front of the festively decorated fireplace, shoulder to shoulder, and with matching grins. He zoomed in and looked at it closely, battling the tightness in his chest. The secret is in their eyes, his chief once told him. Sherlock’s smile crinkled the corners of his eyes, and he was looking slightly to the left, as if his eyes were caught mid-movement. Lestrade tried to follow his gaze - the wall, the window, possibly decorations, and then John. He was turning to look at John.
Lestrade shut down his laptop and sat staring at the fireplace for a long time. His phone buzzed to remind him to prepare a testimony.
John woke up shivering, soaked in freezing mud and rain. This was only a marginal improvement over waking up handcuffed to a pipe in the basement of some abandoned house. He had spent his first night battling the splitting pain in his head, only to receive more splitting pain elsewhere when some masked thug stomped on his ribs with a large construction boot. He spent the next three days slowly regaining his faculties, though he suffered occasional setbacks when they would come to beat him. Perhaps if he had begged and promised information, they would not have done that with such alarming frequency, but John was nothing if not stubborn.
From listening carefully while faking unconsciousness, he realized he was being held for money. This was new, unless Sherlock had some secret account in the Caymans that he wasn’t aware of. He was only sure that his captors were all Londoners and very unsavory ones. On the fourth night, John had succeeded in loosening the screws on the pipe and slipped out, but not before he ambushed, knocked out, and tied up each of the four men in turn. He pocketed a gun and took a picture of each one of them on a mobile he found in the sitting room. Then he went to face the English countryside in March.
The mobile had absolutely no signal, which meant he could have been stuck in any remote woodland area of the U.K. Judging by the fact that there wasn’t a lot of gear at the house and true city criminals did not venture too far from home, John had been comforted by the fact that he was still relatively close to London. Possibly within safe driving distance, considering there were some old tire tracks leading up to the back of the house. In accordance with his luck, there was no car.
He had hiked south for a day, attempting to spy a plane to narrow down his direction before settling down for the night. Now he was soaking wet, in pain, and starving to boot. He was going to have a very serious talk with Sherlock when he got back. A part of him was also beginning to experience no small measure of guilt for picking a fight with him before all this happened.
The sun was beginning to set again but any attempts to walk faster only caused him more discomfort. His shivering was now reaching seizure-inducing levels. John took out the mobile and turned it on - he had been conserving its waning battery, but he couldn’t walk any longer without his knees giving out. The phone blipped to life, and John watched it unblinking. A tiny bar popped up. Forgetting his shivering, John sprinted off. He eventually reached a clearing and saw lights further downhill. Not London, but good enough.
He reached the town early next morning, unwilling to risk traveling at night. John had attempted to wipe most of the grime from his face in order not to frighten anyone, but couldn’t do much about the terrifying stubble he’d grown out nor the greenish-yellow bruise under his eye. His mobile ran out of battery before the signal strength was good enough to make a call, so he had to rely on his charms from now on. He skirted the edge of town until he spotted the police station. John proceeded to calmly and carefully walk in as they stared in surprise.
“Merciful God, what happened to you?”
“I was attacked and let’s leave it at that. Can I use your phone?”
“Attacked?! Where are they?”
“In a cabin up north. They won’t give you much trouble, I promise.” A general excitement started to build up among the officers as they began to delegate duties for probably the first time in a decade.
“You got a name, Rambo?” someone from the back piped up.
“John Watson. Can I use the phone, please?”
The excitement gave way to a shocked silence.
“No bleeding way. Doctor John Watson? Buggering hell, I knew I recognized you. I read your blog!”
“That’s fantastic, but I have somewhat of an emergency -”
“I can’t believe you’re alive!”
"What?" It was John’s turn to stare in shock.
“They thought they found your body burned to a crisp in a skip. The Met arrested Sherlock Holmes and now he’s on trial in the Old Bailey. It’s been a media circus over in London.”
The officer handed over the phone.
“You better call fast,” he continued. “Sentencing’s today.”
“Has the jury reached a verdict upon which you all agree?”
A small plump man stood up from the jury bench - electrician, happily married with two kids, car needs repairs, bad verdict blindingly obvious from the profuse sweating. Out of the corner of his eye, Lestrade had possibly just arrived at same conclusion judging from his tense expression. Mrs. Hudson’s face was hidden from view and Sherlock was glad of it. Perhaps it was for the best. This way he could just fade away in peace, become nothing more than a story within a few years.
“In the case of Sherlock Holmes vs. The Crown, the jury finds Sherlock Holmes guilty of the murder of John Hamish Watson. We recommend the full sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”
Muttering broke out in the courtroom. Lestrade openly hung his head in his hands.
“Court is in favor. Please move the prisoner to the holding cells. All rise!”
Sherlock stood up, careful not to turn around. He could hear Mrs. Hudson’s sobs behind him. He threw the last person who made her cry out of a window. John should have left after seeing that. They all should have. Two officers took him by his arms and escorted him down from the dock. He could see Lestrade, his barrister, and Mycroft fighting to get to him and he willed the guards to move faster.
The door to the public gallery opened with bang, and loud shouting filled the room. Sherlock spun around fast enough to catch a glimpse of a figure jumping down from the public gallery and into the dock.
“Stop him! For God’s sake, someone grab him!” Everyone had stood up by this point, making the back of the courtroom impossible to see.
“You have to let me through! Sherlock!”
Sherlock’s heart threatened to beat out of his chest. He knew that voice. He listened for it again, not trusting himself, but the whole court was now in an deafening uproar.
“Let him go! It’s him! It’s Watson!” Lestrade’s bellows resounded over the commotion.
“Order! Order!” Policemen were now forcibly keeping people back in order to clear a path, and two figures were beginning to emerge from the crowd. Sherlock could see Lestrade’s silver hair and flashes of the man he had his arm around. They managed to make it to the front of the room under a litany of gasps and murmurs. The man standing next to Lestrade was slightly gaunt, wearing muddy and damp clothes, and...Sherlock felt the room start to spin as his legs gave out.
The next thing he heard was someone telling him to put his head between his legs and breathe steadily. Sherlock, of course, did just the opposite. He looked up, directly into John’s eyes.
“Put your head down, you pillock! Or do you want to swoon again?” John was crouched down in front of him, smiling. Sherlock felt hysterical laughter threatening to surface. John looked absolutely terrible – dirty, skinny, and bruised – but he sat there smiling as if he was back home, cuppa in hand.
“That’s not fair,” Sherlock managed to say.
“What’s not fair?”
“You can’t just come back from the dead.” That was not even close to what Sherlock wanted to say, but it would have to do.
“Of course I can. I’ve done it before.” Sherlock started to laugh helplessly because of course John had come back from the dead already, how could he have underestimated him like that.
“Shh, stop laughing like that or they’ll have you sectioned,” John shushed him.
Sherlock could see Mrs. Hudson, Harry, Molly, and Lestrade gathered in a small circle nearby. His barrister, the judge, and Mycroft were in deep conversation a few feet away. But there was someone he didn’t see.
“Grey, the prosecutor, we have to find him!” Sherlock jumped to his feet, nearly bowling John over in the process.
“Relax. Donovan already took care of him when he tried to leave the courtroom during my return from the underworld.”
“Oh. Competence – how refreshing.”
That earned him an amused snort from John, who was weakly massaging his bad shoulder. Sherlock examined him from head to toe, and concluded that the only thing keeping him upright was the adrenaline.
“I suppose you have to go to the hospital.”
“You suppose right. I won’t be longer than a few hours, though.” John scraped at some dried blood at his hairline. “God, I must look a fright,” he muttered, giving Sherlock an apologetic look.
“John!” Lestrade must have noticed that they had gotten up because he was waving and brandishing a shock blanket.
“Looks like my ride is ready,” John sighed, waving back. “See you back at home.”
In the hour that followed, Sherlock received more apologies than he ever had in his lifetime. Every single person that approached him had the same guilty expression and awkward phrases. Seeing John made him feel slightly more magnanimous towards the human race, so he politely smiled and accepted all of them.
He walked outside, flanked by Lestrade and his barrister, only to be ambushed by microphones and cameras. Pulling up his coat collar, he shoved his way towards the street. John’s ambulance still had not left - it was stuck in a growing collection of news vans and interested onlookers. A familiar figure in a shock blanket loitered by the ambulance as the medics tried to argue their way out.
“I’m giving them five more minutes and then I’m going to walk to the bloody A&E,” John muttered as Sherlock walked up to him.
“If Lestrade doesn’t get his car out, I might be joining you.”
“You? Walk?” John huffed, pulling his blanket tighter around himself. “You have two speeds - run and taxi.”
Sherlock laughed softly, feeling strangely light on his feet. John stayed quiet, leaning against the side of the van, his face drawn and tired. Impulsively, Sherlock walked closer to him, stopping only when he was met with a confused look. Realizing that he had to give some sort of justification for publicly encroaching on John’s personal space, he wrapped his arms around John’s shoulders and pulled him into a hug. He may also have involuntarily squeezed some of his bruises judging by his sharp exhale. For a few strange moments, Sherlock could feel John’s heart beating in counterpoint to his.
Those moments ended with the sound of hundreds of cameras snapping photos. He could feel John shaking with barely suppressed laughter against his shoulder. A couple of people, who sounded suspiciously like Donovan and Harry, made catcalls. Sherlock let his arms drop. John stepped back, but stayed close. His expression wasn’t mocking or embarrassed, but rather fond and thoroughly amused.
“Not that I don’t appreciate the thought, Sherlock, but the timing could have used some work.”
“The men they picked up in the woods confessed to accepting payment from Grey to kill John and set you up. Apparently, they didn’t think the money was enough so they held him as leverage and picked some poor bugger up from the morgue instead.”
“Obvious. What else?”
Lestrade shuffled some papers.
“Oh! About your memory loss - one of them drugged you with Rohypnol when he ambushed you in your room. Made a clean getaway, despite still sporting a broken nose.”
“Mmm, must have. I didn’t notice anything amiss in my room.”
“Probably because you keep it in spartan conditions, unlike the rest of the house,” offered John. Sherlock shot him a dirty look.
“There must be something more. Why would Grey come after us in the first place? For all purposes, Sherlock helps him,” John continued.
“Grey isn’t as honorable as he seems,” Sherlock answered. Lestrade nodded in confirmation. “I took notice of some of his accessories when I saw him in court. Expensive, for someone in public office, and quite numerous. He’s been taking bribes for a long time.”
“Just another pawn, then? But who would...” John trailed off, face falling. “Gets bored often, does he?”
“It would seem.”
“We interrogated Grey, but as you can understand, he knew nothing in the first place. Just the name - Moriarty.” Lestrade gave a helpless shrug and the table lapsed into silence.
“Just out of curiosity, how did they manage to convince you it was my body?” John spoke up. “I’d like to think it’s information you wouldn’t exactly take in stride.”
“DNA analysis. I wouldn’t have trusted it had Molly not done it.”
“How did they manage to fake that? Did they sabotage the computer?”
“Quite right. For one night only, every single sample would have had your name on it. A simple hack, but effective.”
“We’re looking through the logs now,” Lestrade finished. “Doubtless it was a stolen identity, but it never hurts to check.”
“Christ,” John sighed. “This might sound twisted, but you have to admire the professionalism.” Sherlock gave a pleased smile, much to Lestrade’s chagrin.
“I’m more interested in hearing how our Doctor Watson escaped such professionals,” Mrs. Hudson said, appearing in the doorway. She took a seat at the table with them.
“Trade secret, I’m afraid. I’ve been thinking of starting some sort of class; for a low price, you too can outwit your captors. I could use you as an assistant, Mrs. Hudson.”
“That sounds lovely. Oh, and speaking of lovely,” she pulled a newspaper out her purse, “this such a darling photo of you and Sherlock.” She pointed to the front page, on which was a large color photo of Sherlock and John embracing. The headline read ‘Dynamic Duo Reunited.’
“I quite enjoyed the caption, too,” Lestrade added. “‘The famous detective and his blogger share a quiet moment after Friday’s shocking courtroom upset.’ Sweet, isn’t it, Mrs. Hudson?”
“Sweet, my arse. Half of London was there, snapping photos and whistling like it was a strip show,” John groaned.
“I believe you only have your sister to blame for the catcalls.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” John said, shaking his head. “We’re never going to live that down, are we, Lestrade?”
“Afraid not. Sally is doing the wedding invites as we speak.”
“Make sure my brother doesn’t get one,” Sherlock demanded quite seriously.
-SH (and by demand, Mrs. Hudson, DI Lestrade and the rest of NSY, Harry Watson, Mike Stamford, Molly Hooper, Mycroft Holmes and the Commonwealth, Bill Murray and the RAMC, some people from your surgery, some random women, people that read this blog, etc.)
P.S. I loved the picture. - Irene