I had been watching him for months. Every day when he would leave his new apartment to go to work, I would watch him step into the cab. At first it was innocent, but as the months passed, I grew obsessed. It was part of my daily routine. But I longed for contact; someone to talk to. Someone who knew what I was dealing with. We had both lost someone we loved that day and while he had his therapist, I was alone and unable to share my feelings. John Watson seemed to be my only solution.
One day, I had made my decision. It had been exactly six months today. And Christmas was nearing. If there was a time I longed for friendship, it was now.
It had begun to snow and I was cold. I had been waiting for half an hour now, since the doctor didn't seem to have a regular time of arriving home. Sometimes he was early. Sometimes he was late. I figured he would have had many patients on days like these. But finally, a black cab stopped in front of the house and the doctor got out. I saw my chance.
I walked towards him, seeking any possible way of trying to have a conversation started. I didn't have any excuses. No flat tires or lost directions. I would just have to speak to him. No excuses. No lies.
'Excuse me,' I spoke as I approached him, hands buried deep in the pockets of my jacket. They were red and sore from the cold and I didn't want him to think I had been waiting for him. The doctor had walked up to his house but when I had spoken, he had turned to look at me, halting where he stood, his eyes questioning.
'Yes?' he asked curiously but obvious ready to help a fellow in need. He just didn't know yet what I needed—
He probably wouldn't speak to me if he knew—
But I lost my nerve. What the hell was I doing? I never sought contact with any of my targets. It was against my own rules! It didn't happen often I had let a target escape. He should consider himself lucky! Why the hell had I come here? He was my enemy; my target. Jim had once told me to kill this man if Holmes hadn't jumped. I had observed this man through the scope of my rifle that day.
'Can I help you?' the doctor asked curiously, but also slightly impatiently. He was obviously eager to get out of the cold as well.
But then he narrowed his eyes as he scrutinised me. 'Do I – do I know you from somewhere?'
I'd sometimes forget he had been in the army as well. Hell, we had both been in Afghanistan! We'd actually met once very briefly at the camp before we had both been shipped out. We had never spoken, but I had recognised his face at once when Jim had shown me pictures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson.
I shook my head. 'I— I don't think so.'
'You look familiar, though.'
'I'm not from London,' I lied.
'Were you in Afghanistan?'
I shook my head again. 'No,' again I lied.
But John's eyes remained narrowed as he continued to scrutinise my face. I really hoped he wouldn't remember me.
'Well, is there anything I can do for you?' he asked, shaking his head in confusion. I still hadn't told him why I had addressed him. And it was getting dark and the snow began to fall faster now.
Again, I couldn't find the words I had wanted to speak. I hadn't prepared this moment, nor thought about what I was going to say. I just wanted him to know—that I knew.
I had wanted to start a conversation, but now that I had, I didn't know what about. Why the hell hadn't I just walked past him?
I would just have to come clean.
'Let's just say – I know how you feel,' I almost vomited the words.
The doctor frowned and tilted his head, still examining my face.
'What?' he asked. 'You—what are you talking about?'
'Your friend,' I forced out. I had to keep talking now. There was no turning back. 'Sherlock Holmes.'
He stared at me for a long time, his jaws clenched together. For a moment, I thought he was going to shout at me. But thankfully, he didn't.
'Oh,' John muttered as he turned back to his front door, fumbling with the keys, probably eager to get away from me. 'You've read the papers, then?' he then looked back at me, and added: 'Or were you a client?'
'No— I— I can't tell you.'
'What— why not?' John asked as he turned back towards me. He seemed to grow suspicious and probably impatient as well.
'Just— I know how you feel.'
His lip curled, but there was no amusement in his eyes. He shook his head.
'No you don't.'
'I do,' I urged and stepped closer, eager to have this man know what I felt. That I know how he felt. How we felt. 'Believe me,' I assured him, closing my eyes and nodding once.
'Why would I believe you?'
'I've lost my friend,' I replied at once. 'My – my best friend. He – he killed himself.'
And the doctor stared at me for a long time until he lowered his head, staring down at the keys in his hand. I had no idea what was going on in his mind, but after what seemed like a century, he spoke:
'Do you – want to come in for tea?'
I blinked sluggishly. I had not expected this. But I shouldn't! He was my target! My victim! I couldn't possibly have tea with my target!
But how could I refuse?
'Y-yes, sure,' I nodded, hoping I seemed thankful and not afraid.
'Will you tell me your name?' the doctor asked me.
I chewed my lip for a moment. I couldn't tell him my name. Not even my first name! He had already recognized my face. My name would do the trick, I was sure of it. I had been out of the picture for a year now, so the chances were slim he would lay the link between me and that soldier that had gone AWOL after killing an innocent woman and her infant.
'Seb,' I said, speaking the name Jim had always used for me. I hated it, but it had been Jim after all—
A faint but friendly smile appeared on the doctor's face.
'I'm John,' he spoke and nudged with his head towards the door, inviting me into his home.
'Please, come in.'
And I followed him in.