It’s been three years.
Three years since a man named Sherlock Holmes graced the tabloids, his name being followed by “Fake Genius”, “Suicide” and “Re-opening of Cases”. He was only concerned about the last part, where he saw cases by his colleagues - friends - being pried open and triple checked on the validity of the results. Results that came from Sherlock Holmes, and not Andrew Anderson. Within months, there were suspensions, demotions; the lucky ones got a slap on the wrist, but still, his friends got the huge block of the effects.
Dimmock, one of the youngest DIs who graced his lab, always prodding for results, got demoted. The shine in his eyes, the excitement in the prospect of solving crimes, gone.
Lestrade, oh, Lestrade. The last time they talked, his fate was being decided. But the amount of alcohol he consumed could only mean that the worst was in store for him.
Sally, his Sally. She was safe, she was the one who informed the Chief. But at the price of the scornful looks she receives from her colleagues.
And then there was Dr. Andrew Anderson.
When his time came, the Chief basically asked him one thing: “Why did they all feel the need to consult with Sherlock Holmes in the first place?”
He stood there, frozen, incapable of thought. To be fair, it was the one question he dreaded ever since Lestrade started to call in Sherlock more often that he was comfortable with. He was expecting that question to be discussed over drinks, not the Spanish Inquisition.
Answers danced across his mind. Because there were too many, and the numbers were piling up. Because there were lives at stake, and the pressure was there. Because he was practically a friend to us all.
Until the very first reason slapped him on the face.
Because they no longer believed in me.
And with that, he was given the leave to resign, a graceful exit. When Dimmock asked him, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Always wanted to try the private practice, figured I’d do it before I became the crime scene.” But it was a lie. And he can tell that they knew it too - the stares were stabbing him with the truth.
- - -
He took a job as a Medical Technician at St. Bart’s. The pay was fair, the job, not that stressful (unless there was a kindly woman who needed much coaxing that the procedure won’t hurt, at all), and the people were okay. There, he met a lady named Molly Hooper, who was kind enough to laugh at his jokes and accompany him during breaks. He also found out that she was a very close friend of Lestrade’s, and so he put out any plans of asking her out for dinner. He started changing the way he did things. He was more careful, more systematic - he wanted people to trust him with things. And with working at St. Bart’s, people trusted you with their lives, which was a nice change from handling things that involved death.
(But then, there were times when he missed the thrill of going through the evidence and the crime scene to look for clues. When he can hear Dimmock and Lestrade debate on the theories they had, while he and Sally were exchanging looks and/or betting on who was right.
No matter, it was from the past. He had a different life now.)
He started going out more, learning new things and taking some new hobby. He had discovered that he had a knack for drawing and can sing well enough. If there was wine involved. And the beard, oh the beard returned. His line of work did not have a strict “NO BEARDS BECAUSE THE SCENE MIGHT BE CONTAMINATED” policy, so he let it grow back.
(He does miss the random, unplanned Friday night "light drinking" sessions, where Dimmock grabs Sally and the two of them tag team on him and coax him to look away from the microscope and put some beer goggles on. And then the three of them taunt Lestrade with a promise of a good night, around three hours to forget what kind of world they live in, because God knows they all needed it.
Sometimes he calls or sends a message to the three of them, and he's relieved if he'll get a "Sorry mate, am busy" reply from Dimmock. At least he remembers who Anderson was.)
For two years, finally, life was becoming easy for Andrew Anderson.
If only he didn’t feel uneasy.
- - -
The one ordinary, "birds are singing in the trees" type of day, when he was going through a fairly routine procedures, an old man who was with him suddenly asked, “Are you looking for a friend?”
“I’m sorry?” he replied, unsure of where things were going, or what started it in the first place. The man coughed and looked at him, “I lost a friend, a long time ago. I had to let him go because there was too much at stake.”
“Oh great, another life story.” Anderson thought. Not that he didn’t like these. It’s just that there were some stories that he would very much prefer not to have heard. He was very particularly cautious on the stories that might make him tear up, or require his brain to be cleansed for the mental images they produced.
The old man did not seem to notice anything that should stop him, so he continued. “But it turned out that there was a lot more involved. People I didn’t knew that actually cared for me. People who believed in me.” A small, apologetic smile creeped into his features. “And they turned out to be the only family I could ever have. And if I could come back, I would make it up to them.”
Now Anderson was intrigued. “So why don’t you do it then?”
“Make it up for them? And please don’t give me the reason that you’re old. It’s better late than never, as cliched as it sounds.”
(He stops himself. Berating an old man for his actions was something he- and the hospital's policies- did not stand for.)
“Because there’s still danger-"
“Rather you face it with your friends, than alone. That way things will be much easier.”
“That’s the smartest thing I ever heard you say.”
The nerve of this - Wait.
“I ever said?”, Anderson echoed.
The old man suddenly looks away - though not fast enough, as Anderson caught a glimpse of the familiar pair of blue eyes. The man sensed Anderson was staring him down, and quickly, he grabbed for the pen and pad in the table and scribbled down.
DON’T SAY ANYTHING.
Please help me.
Anderson's eyes grew wide. He muttered, “No, it can’t be.”
The man frowned and scribbled another line.
I said, DON’T SAY ANYTHING.
Anderson grabbed the pad back and wrote down a messy scrawl,
Back from the dead, and you’re still an ass.
What is it?
And then the man gave him another note, though it wasn’t addressed to him. One look at it, Anderson could feel that it should have been delivered a long time ago. He looks back at his visitor, “He won’t believe me.”
“That’s what I am counting on.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” The old man reached for his coat and looked at him for the last time. “I owe that much to all of you.”
And the man left him alone in silence, leaving Anderson to think if it it wasn't too late to go back to the Yard and, well, help out.