Originally posted on The Blanket Fort - Darth Stitch on Tumblr
There is No Plan B
Manila is a cacophony of constant streams of data - the acrid stench of petrol from various vehicles apparently unconcerned about things like global warming and pollution, the sweet sugar scent of candied fruit (bananas, from the looks of it) and the faintly floral scents from tiny white flower garlands called sampaguita, sold by smiling street urchins. There are splashes of wild color from the rushing jeepneys and the oddly folkloric art on the walls, meant to discourage graffiti.
(Amusingly enough, Sherlock notes that said street graffiti artists actually make an effort to blend in with the officially sanctioned artwork.)
There is music - he hears numerous songs on the radio in both English and the country’s official language Filipino. He hears someone singing on some sort of karaoke machine in the airport’s Duty Free area - voice isn’t half bad (amateur singer on their day job, dreaming of making it big in the business, preparing for their next audition). Sherlock will later learn, with some humorous eye-rolling and giggling from Filipinos themselves, that singing on the videoke is a popular hobby and nearly every celebration (which in the Philippines is probably every week) is not complete without a sing-a-long.
John would have loved it here.
And again, his wandering, traitorous mind leads him back to John.
When Sherlock manages to sleep, he often dreams and it’s not of London, familiar and more than welcome. He dreams of John standing by Sherlock’s gravestone, posture military-straight and face carefully composed and yet, broken and grieving all the same. In his dream, Sherlock walks towards him, puts a hand on his shoulder, finds himself gently cupping the other man’s face so that John can tell, by sight, by touch, that this is real, that Sherlock is here.
He will say, I am not dead.
He will say, John, I lo—
And that’s when he always wakes up, in some strange bed, in some strange place that is not where John is, that is not home and has not been for such a long time. And then, he’ll swear to himself that he should stop this ridiculous nonsense, that he needs all his considerable mental powers to focus, to think.
Stupid, stupid- as if that sickeningly maudlin reunion scene would even take place. Sherlock knows that for all that it is slow to rouse, John’s temper is formidable. A punch in the jaw is most likely the first thing he’ll get once he returns home. He’ll take it but he still won’t be sorry that he had to make this choice because it ensures that a world with John Hamish Watson alive in it will still exist and that is everything.
For where thou art, there is the world itself. And where thou art not, desolation.
Sentiment, emotion, feeling - these are distractions. It won’t help him - it can’t accomplish anything. Not now, when all he wants, all he needs is to finish off the last remnants of Moriarty’s web so he can go home.
And they are all here, in Manila.
Mycroft has let him know of the probable location of his potential allies, who are hiding here in this country as well. Sherlock has pointedly asked exactly why a quartet of American ex-Rangers who are in hiding from their own government (some CIA-botched scheme that involved money plates and a wrongful conviction) would be willing to help British operatives. Mycroft, damn him, only smiled.
Sherlock has opted to play the role of innocent, friendly tourist today, someone wanting to go off the beaten track and experience the Philippines in a way that isn’t sanitized by a tour from a travel agency. As expected, he’s promptly adopted by a family of Filipinos traveling home, whose considerable luggage and overlarge boxes of what apparently seem to be gifts for an entire clan of relatives indicate that they live in the general area of where he needs to go.
The matriarch of the family reminds him very much of Mrs. Hudson and she is, in fact, about the same age. She is cheerfully willing to play tourist guide for him, including Sherlock in her motherly warnings to her children and grandchildren to be careful with their belongings.
When they arrive at the airport, they are greeted by the expected clan - a whole baranggay - as Mrs. Fernandez has said gleefully, including small children, come to fetch them and bring them home. Somehow, Sherlock manages to fold himself inside one of the jeepneys they brought with them and it is in here that he sees Manila for the first time.
John would have had an easier time of it in the jeepney.
Luck, somehow, favors Sherlock this time around. His Filipino hosts actually live in the quaintly named Baranggay Pitong Gatang, a neighborhood located in one of the poorer areas of Manila. Most of the houses are built so close together that the byways are more like alleys than streets. And yet the people here are cheerful and loud and greet the returning travelers enthusiastically. Sherlock is immediately assumed to be one of the family - no wonder the Americans he’s looking for have hidden so easily, especially if they got “adopted” in the same way.
It isn’t long before Sherlock determines that there are four “Joe’s” living quietly in this neighborhood and that they have helped and protected the people here so much that they too are protected in turn. The people here have playfully nicknamed the man Sherlock is looking for “Fernando Poe” - after an apparently famous Filipino movie star, who seemed to be some sort of folk hero as well.
“Colonel John Smith, I presume?” Sherlock greets the man when they finally meet in the boarding house he and his men currently called home. Sherlock doesn’t really need to presume much. Mycroft did send him the files on Colonel John Smith and his three soldiers - H.M. Murdock, Templeton Peck and B.A. Baracus. Even if Smith had attempted to disguise himself, military screams from every pore - from his carriage and posture, to the silver hair still kept to the shortness of regulation standards and the calm, slightly amused blue eyes that regard him in turn.
Sherlock knows that Mycroft should have apprised the Colonel of all the details regarding him and his arrival. Something in those eyes remind him very much of John - there is both kindness and shrewdness in there and Smith has the same sort of quiet confidence that John possesses.
Finally, the Colonel nods and grins at him. “Call me Hannibal, kid. I hear that we’re in a position to finally do your Captain Watson a good turn.”