Chapter 1: Those Who Get Left Behind
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.
Chapter 2: The Bloggger Returns
The night he had invited me in for tea was still a vivid memory. I had enjoyed it. We had talked. Just talked. It was almost midnight when I left, thanking the doctor for his kindness. John had thanked me too for the company.
I never spoke much about myself; I just mentioned I had been at Eton and Oxford and that I worked at a security company here in London all my life. That's where I'd met James. It was Jim's birth name but he'd always hated it. Watson didn't know this of course.
Within two hours of our conversation, it became clear there had been a sexual relationship between John and Holmes.
Just like me and Jim, I had thought when the doctor had returned to his kitchen to boil some more water. But I was sure he had fled away from my presence for a moment because his eyes had become wet a minute earlier. I had waited patiently until the man had returned with more tea.
I had been right about Doctor Watson; we were alike in so many ways.
We met for lunch a few days later. And dinner the week after.
Every time we met, I wondered why I kept in contact with him. I had thought that time he'd invited me for tea would be the one and only time I would speak with him. But compassion kept drawing me back to the doctor. I felt sorry. I felt guilty. But most of all, I felt alone. I was on my own in the capital where I had no friends. But the more we met, the more I hoped I could soon call John Watson my friend.
But secretly, I hoped he would eventually become more than just a friend.
But I wasn't in a rush. I didn't know if John was interested in men at all. I had figured by now he had loved Holmes. But what if that had only been the only time he allowed himself to be with another man? I had known from a very young age I was bisexual. But did John know what he preferred?
Every evening, I would look at John's blog. But he hadn't written anything since— well since then.
Slowly moving on
I never thought I would use my blog again, but it seems I have found a reason for it at last. I have moved out of Baker Street the month after the incident and I've kept to myself. I've visited Mrs. Hudson a few times, but apart from meeting with her and Mycroft sometimes, I have not had any social contact with anyone but my colleagues. Until recently. A few weeks ago... Read More
I clicked to read the entry.
A few weeks ago, I had returned from my practice when a man halted me on the street. At first, I thought I knew him but I still cannot recall if I really do (I suppose he's just got a face that makes you think you've seen it before). He told me that he knew how I felt. I thought he was some lunatic trying to get a story out of me, (I've been bothered a lot since last summer by the press), but he simply seemed to be a bloke who had lost someone too recently. I invited him in for tea and we talked the entire evening.
I've met with him a few times, and I've begun to really enjoy his company. And I feel sorry for him. He's like me. He's lonely and he just wants a friend. I think, maybe, I should be that friend. I'm sure Sherlock would have wanted me to continue my dull ordinary life...
I smiled, feeling warm and content. I scrolled down to reach the comments below the entry.
Hello, brother! So glad to see you writing and dating again!
Is he good looking? ;)
What are you doing for Christmas?
Harry Watson23 December 12:05
I'm writing, but not dating, Harry.
I'm staying home. Sorry, but I'm not available for Christmas dinner this year.
John Watson23 December 13:48
Will you be coming around for tea soon?
Mrs. Hudson 23 December 15:19
I'll take you out for lunch soon. I'd rather not come to Baker Street yet.
John Watson23 December 15:27
Hello, John! Lovely to see you updating again! Did you look at my blog recently? I've got a new cat! I was thinking about calling him... you-know-what but I decided that might not be a good idea. So he's called Timber.
Maybe this isn't an appropriate question now, but would you like to go out for a drink soon?
Molly Hooper23 December 17:08
You didn't answer the question ;) Was he handsome?
Harry Watson23 December 17:52
Why would you care Harry. Please remember you're a lesbian.
John Watson23 December 19:17
John! Goodness gracious, I'm so glad to hear from you again!
Call me soon, will you?
Mike Stamford 23 December 19:45
I just want to know if he was your type!
Harry Watson23 December 20:06
No one is my type at the moment.
John Watson23 December 20:41
John, I'm glad to see you writing again. I hope it helps you deal with your grief.
I would like to hear about this friend during our next appointment.
E Thompson 23 December 20:59
I felt touched John wrote about me on his abandoned blog. Had I changed his life in such a way he had decided to pick his old one up again?
But what touched me the most was that John understood what I wanted. I wanted a friend. And he did too. This was good. Very good.
I picked up my phone and sent a text to John Watson
Want to go out on Christmas Eve?
Less than half an hour later, I got a text back.
I didn't have any plans but I suppose sitting at home isn't any way to celebrate Christmas.
I smiled fondly at my phone and replied
No my friend. It is the night we shall make London unsafe.
Immediately I got a reply:
Chapter 3: And A Happy New Year
We went out for dinner on Christmas Eve. I had finally admitted I had been in the army, though I lied about my time in Afghanistan. I told him about my time in Iraq instead because I feared he would recognise my face in the end.
I had lied about my surname as well. My new passport said my name was Ian Tofield, so I had told him my name was Sebastian Tofield, but that I preferred to be called 'Seb'. I hated it though. Every single bit of it. Jim had teased me with that name and after his death I had developed a sentimental feeling towards that nickname. But I wanted to keep every attention away from my real, full name.
But I was happy. Happy I had a friend. And most of all, happy that I had someone to share my pain with.
To more we met, the less we talked about—them. We had a lot in common, also personality-wise. And our talks about our interests soon flooded over our pain. Which was good I suppose. We would have to move on at some point. And somewhere, I hoped John would be willing to move on with me
But it was on Christmas Eve when we picked up our conversation about them again. I had bought John a present which I gave him when we were having a cup of coffee after enjoying our dinner.
I took the package from my inside pocket. It wasn't that big, but I had wrapped it and tied a bow on it. I had felt stupid when I had looked at the finished product, and had almost decided to throw it away right there and then. It was a stupid present; maybe even inappropriate, but I hoped John would like it.
'I, er-,' I stammered, looking down at the present in my hands, still doubting whether it would be a good idea or not. 'I read this— a few weeks back and I thought— that you would like— well not like, actually – I thought it might help you too.'
His eyes widened with confusion as I pushed the package in his hands.
'Help me?' he asked as he narrowed his eyes, looking at me and then down to the package. He was silent for half a minute.
'I haven't got you anything,' he said as he looked up at me, shaking his head as if he meant to say he was sorry.
I shook my head and assured him: 'I don't want anything. Your company is a gift already.'
John jerked his head back and pressed his lips together, eyebrows now deeply frowned.
'That sounded really corny,' but his lip curled with amusement as he pulled at the ribbon.
I shrugged my shoulders and chortled with amusement.
'It's true,' I admitted and watched how he unwrapped the present.
It was a book; one that I had read as well. I figured it wasn't a nice present, but I never believed in niceties. It was useful. It had helped me the past few months. And I hoped it would do John good as well.
John read the cover, which said:
Those Who Get Left Behind, by Dr. J. Finnemore.
I awkwardly scratched the side of my head, averting my eyes as I spoke:
'I – I've read it. It – it helped me. I thought you would—'
I looked up at the man across me and felt my heart sink when I saw he didn't look amused. He stared at the cover, and I could see he had his jaws clenched tightly together. He swallowed hard.
'I— I know it's not something one wants to think about during Christmas—'
No reply came from the other man.
'If you don't like it, just throw it away. I've already read it, so—'
The doctor abruptly got up, seized his jacket from the back of his chair and marched out of the restaurant, leaving me to stare after him with confusion and fear.
I shouldn't have given him the damned book.
I got up at once, taking my jacket as well. I had already paid the bill so none of the staff looked up as I rushed out after John.
Once outside, I looked down the road, to my left and right. I spotted John marching away in the distance, and I started to run.
'John!' I shouted and caught up with the other man, placing my hand on his shoulder to halt him. 'John, I – I'm sorry if I –'
He raised his hands, the book still in his left. But he didn't look at me, and when he spoke, I could feel the pain in his voice.
'N-No, I'm sorry,' he apologised, although I didn't know why he would. I had given him a ridiculous present after all. 'I—sorry, I shouldn't have—'
'It's fine,' I assured him, my hand still on his shoulder. 'It's an inappropriate present. I shouldn't have given—'
'No, it's—it's good,' the doctor said and shook his head, briefly meeting my worried look.
I feared what my present would do to him now that he reacted like this. Would it help him? Or would it push him off the mountain I had tried to help him climb? I had extended my hand to him, but would this book make him let go of my hand?
I hoped he still saw that therapist of his...
The doctor continued:
'It's – it's a good present, Seb. Thank you, it's just—'
And he turned away from me again and I feared he would run off again. But instead, he spoke:
'It—it's just— I miss him so much,' his voice trembled and he didn't meet my eyes, which he had pressed shut so tightly, as it trying to shut them off from any tears.
'I know you do,' I said and without thinking wrapped an arm around his shoulder. To my great astonishment, he flung his arms around my chest. I placed my other hand on the back of his head and let him cry.
Normally, I wasn't the hugging type. In fact, I hated physical contact in forms of affection. Jim had never been affectionate but we would only touch when—
Well, when we needed to.
But John Watson was the complete opposite of what Jim Moriarty had once been. He was friendly, caring, and gentle. He would probably be a completely different lover than Jim had been.
I shut my eyes at that thought, feeling disgusted with myself for thinking that right now. I was a man in control, and I would not touch John in any other way until— until—
Until he wants me to.
Kudos for those who spotted the cameo ;)