I wake up with John's name on my lips.
The details of the dream fade almost immediately, but the sense of danger and the desperate need to get to him linger for a while. I lie quietly on the bed for a moment in order to reorient myself and allow the sickening fear to dissipate. Rationally, I know it was just a dream, but it had felt so REAL. More like a memory than the random neural firings that usually constitute dreams.
Once I am calm and fully awake I realize that I am not in my room - or even in my flat. I take quick stock of my surroundings. The bedroom is sparsely furnished, plain and clean and belongs to someone who, until recently, was sharing the bed with me. The smell on the rumpled sheets confirms that this person is definitely male and definitely not John.
I am alarmed to discover that I cannot remember how I came to be here. I can only assume I went home with some stranger I met in a club last night. The ache I feel between my legs as I move to sit up leaves no doubt as to the activities we engaged in after that.
I stumble to the toilet adjoining the bedroom, splash some water on my face, and take a moment to go over the physical evidence left on my own body.
I am naked, but I am clean. So obviously one of us had been sober enough to think of taking care of the post-coital mess. I have stubble burns and faint bite marks decorating my neck and the insides of my thighs. I have light bruises around my wrists and scattered across my torso and deep, dark ones in the shape of hands wrapped around my hips. I reach tentatively between my legs and feel for what I can't see. The skin around my anus is swollen and sore and something wet spills on my fingers as I prod at it. I yank my hand away and stare at the trace of semen in horror. I had unprotected sex with a stranger. Never - even at the height of my cocaine addiction - have I been so reckless.
I scrub my hands clean as thoughts and theories race wildly through my mind. Drugs would explain my inability to remember anything, but had I taken them consciously or...
"Will," a voice calls from behind the door, disrupting my thoughts. A tall, slim man with dark hair and soft features tentatively pushes it open. "Are you all right, darling?"
Will? Did I use my given name with him as some sort of disguise?
I do a quick cold reading on him as he steps into the bathroom. Whatever he is, he is not a rapist. He is looking at me with far too much kindness and adoration. Except beyond his physical features and his obvious care for me I can't really deduce much. He is definitely the man I had sex with last night. Although he is fully dressed, I can see the edge of a bruise peeking from beneath the rolled up sleeve of his silk shirt. More importantly, his smell matches the one on the bed sheets I woke up in.
His ejaculate is still inside me.
I shake this last thought off and focus on his left hand, which is curled around a glass of water. A simple gold band surrounds his ring finger. I had unprotected sex with a married man?
"You don't know who I am," he says gently as though he can read the direction of my thoughts.
He looks a bit disappointed, but not surprised. "Sometimes you do. You've had good days and bad days since we changed medicines."
My eyes narrow. What the hell is he on about? "Medicine?"
He holds out his right hand to reveal three white pills. "I was just bringing your morning dose. Plus some paracetamol." He gestures toward the bruises on my hips. "I'm afraid I got a little carried away last night. Although in my defense, you were a bit gasping for it and you gave almost as good as you got. I already took some of these myself."
I run through the many questions in my mind - eliminating the ones that might compromise me should this prove to really be some sort of con - and settle on the most important one. "Where is John?"
His face falls and he sighs. He sets the glass and tablets on the counter beside the sink and reaches for me, hesitating only a moment when I instinctively flinch. He carefully frames my face between his hands, tilting my head with the faintest pressure of his fingertips until I am looking directly into his blue/green eyes.
"Sherlock...sweetheart. John Watson is dead."