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The Space Between The Change and Now

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457 days since the accident. Not that John was counting. In all honesty he’d stopped counting each individual day after the fifth month – it was something he learned to stop doing from his group therapy. Group was every Wednesday night in a church basement with an assortment of elderly men and women. He was the youngest on in group.

Group was all Harry’s fault, really. She thought it’d be good for him. But, as much as he reflected on his first meetings at group sardonically, he was thankful underneath it all. Harry’s search for a group therapy for John started as soon as she realized that she was watching her older brother drink himself into a coma on her couch. Too close to the heart, she had found group with the subconscious desire that fixing John would also mean fixing herself. Not entirely true. However, she was getting there. That pleased not only Harry but John and Clara. It was nice to see everything working out for a while.

The only time he had counted the number of days since the accident, past the fifth month, was the anniversary. Any other time, John just knew more days were being added since the change. (Another thing he learned from group: refer to the life-altering-heart-breaking-death as a “change” not “accident”.) Within himself he felt as though he was getting situated. He had his own flat by the 457th day.  The flat was near the hospital where he worked A&E. There was enough of a thrill in that. It kept him going. When he wasn’t working long shifts, he was walking his dog. Originally gotten to be a PTSD therapy dog, Roxie had turned into just being chaotic in John’s small apartment. He couldn’t deal with losing her, though. So, she stayed – barking away, pissing off the neighbors and even John.  

On the 457th day, there was another change.

It had been a crisp September morning. John had just gotten off of his night shift at the hospital. He was exhausted, but didn’t trust himself to sleep in case he overslept and missed his lunch with Harry and Clara. (Things were going well with them again. He expected an announcement about a second marriage.) To keep himself awake, John trudged to the nearest coffee shop. He sat down at a table in front of the window with a mug of tea. He looked at everyone walking by, halfheartedly trying to find out what everyone’s story was. Habits like that… they were just hard to break- even if no one else was there to take part. John drifted into his own world.

“Excuse me,” a voice said which brought John back into reality. “Are you reading that paper?” John looked up. The voice belonged to a woman with long, auburn hair. She wore a pale blue dress. John was enticed by the dress which had daisies dancing along the hem. The pale blue color of it seemed to speak only of happy thoughts, like the daisies were just inviting him to frolic about.

“Well,” the woman added rather impatiently, “are you reading that paper or not?” Her annoyance brought out a rougher tone of her voice.

“Oh, uh, well no I’m not,” John smoothly replied. Idiot, he cursed in his head.

“I’m going to take it then.” She slowly made way for the paper, obviously doubting how “there” John really was. She started to turn away with the paper tucked under her arm.

“There may be a rule about the paper,” John blurted out, praying that the woman and the daisies wouldn’t leave yet. To his surprise, she actually turned around.

“What?” the woman asked slightly confused.

“I think you have to read the paper here, at this table,” John added, “with me.” He shot her a smile, hoping that would work on some level of her being.

“Oh, I see,” she added finally smiling. She smiled with full teeth. John liked that. It seemed like she had nothing to hide. “Mary,” she said as she sat down in the chair opposite of John. “Mary Morstan.”

“John Watson,” John introduced himself with another smile.

//

“Oi, can you put the DVD in already?” Mary hollered from the couch.

“You speak rather eloquently for someone with a PHD,” John teased from the kitchen. He started toward the couch with a huge bowl of popcorn.

“You see, I lured you in with this idea that I was proper. You’ve lasted 4 months. I think I can show my true fucking colors,” Mary stated, grabbing a handful of popcorn.

“Oh yeah?” John challenged.

“Put the fucking movie in,” Mary whined.

“I’m never letting you drink beer again,” John joked as he put the DVD into the player. “I miss my true lady.”

“You see why I only drink wine - it’s to hiding this entirely ‘slobbed’ person from you.” Mary kissed John. “Also, I see why you we rarely go to yours. This place seems so small.”

“Size shouldn’t matter to you.”

“Oh, but Johnny dear, another thing you should learn is that size does matter.”

“Ha, ha; shut up and watch this God forsaken movie. I got this just for tonight, you know. I don’t have musicals lying around.”

“Oh, but you seem like that type,” Mary chimed. “The sensitive guy who watches musicals. Besides, Sound of Music is a classic.”

“Oi, now shut up,” John teased some more, only to end up kissing Mary again. God, he loved her.

“I love you, too,” Mary whispered close, going in to kiss him again.

He hadn’t really meant to say it out loud.

God knows what happens in The Sound of Music.

//

Two years since the accident. It was too fucking hot in John’s apartment. It was too fucking hot outside. While working his shift at the hospital John swore more than usual.

Harry was out at work. Secretary for some lawyer. She wasn’t too thrilled with it. She watched the minutes pass by on the clock. Her thoughts on the day were different than usual – less about herself. She knew the date. She knew what it meant. She thought of John. Her phone rang. “Hello?” she grumpily answered. “What is it?” As much as she should have been keeping her voice down – no personal calls while on the job – she really couldn’t be arsed to.

“Harry? It’s Mary,” the person on the other end of the phone said. Ah, Harry thought, John’s perfect girlfriend. Psychologist. Helping everyone. Buckets of love and laughter. Let’s cure everyone’s mental disease! I understand even though I don’t know you. John seemed to pick up the type who thought they knew people without fully talking to them. Figures. Meet them for a minute or two and they seem to think they know your life story. But John loved Mary. Crazy about her. So Harry figured she could stand her.

“Oh, hi. What can I do for you?” Harry responded. Remember, Harriet, she scolded herself. Be kind. Be pleasant. For John.

“I was wondering if you knew why John was acting so… distant today?”

Oh, Harry sighed. Oh, the poor thing. No idea what this day meant. She had to know about Sherlock. Please. Everyone who knew John did. Maybe she hadn’t put two and two together?

“Today’s the two year anniversary of… well… you know… John’s friend who died…” Harry really didn’t know how to address the topic.

“Oh. Oh. Oh,” Mary understood. “I have to go right now. Talk to you soon. Thanks.”

Harry heard the line disconnect instantly. That girl was up to something.

Around midnight John’s shift ended. He had picked up any shift he could to get out of the day. Stupid day. Stupid time. Another person almost died today, too. John had to help someone who was having a fucking heart attack. Almost another person dead on his arms on this stupid fucking day.

Angry, he left the hospital. At least the day was over. He could move on.

When he reached outside, John noticed someone. Mary was there; she waved at John. He jogged towards her, confused but happy to see her.

“Listen,” she started as soon as John was near her. “I know what today is so don’t even bother talking. I mean like, we could talk about that if you need to. But don’t interrupt me now. I want to talk about the now. The current. Today is a shit day and a dumb anniversary. I have an idea though…”

Mary dropped to one knee. “John Hamish Watson, will you marry me?” She took out a ring. John stared at her. Not what he was expecting.

At a loss for words, he grabbed Mary and kissed her. “Yes,” John said lost in the moment. “Of course I will.” The day was still stupid. He was still upset. But it was a new day. It was 12:45am on the day after. And that day wasn’t stupid. He liked that day.

//

Mike kept up to date with John thanks to the random texts John would send him.

Wedding planning. So many choices. I honestly didn’t know there were so many shades of white? - JW

Just taste tested 3 different kinds of carrot cake. Don’t even like carrot cake. -JW

Molly Hooper got her wedding invitation. It was a bright an early morning. Birds were even chirping, which bothered her cat. However, as soon as she got it she thought, Sherlock’s not going to like this.

What’s something appropriate thing to say in a wedding vow? - JW

Greg Lestrade got the wedding invitation from his post. He stared at it, dumbfounded. He didn’t realize John was serious with his new girlfriend. Not marriage serious. I guess it only made sense. John wasn’t the bachelor living with Sherlock anymore.

I know you’re my best man but don’t mention our college spring break in the toast. - JW

Mycroft Holmes found out about the wedding from his casual search of John Watson. It was monthly, Sherlock requested it. John seemed to be normal… except… oh no. Wedding announcement. Mary Morstan. Sherlock won’t be pleased.

It’s months away why am I freaking out? - JW

Mary just calculated the months into days and it doesn’t seem that long. - JW

I calculated the days into seconds. That seems like a long time. - JW

Mrs. Hudson loved the news about John’s wedding. John delivered her invitation by hand. “I’d really love if you came, Mrs. Hudson,” he told her over tea and biscuits.

“Of course dear,” she said. She was happy to see John moved on.

Seconds pass by quickly. - JW

4 weeks. -JW

3 weeks. - JW

2 weeks. - JW

Soon. - JW

//

Sherlock Holmes hadn’t been back in London for more than 10 minutes before Mycroft showed up in his car.

“All finished?” Mycroft dimly asked.

“I wouldn’t be out in broad daylight if I wasn’t,” Sherlock muttered. He dived into the car, too weak to argue. There were bags under his eyes. Hair was a mess. Clothes not even his and a size too big at that. “I don’t even want to begin reflecting on the past three years. Storing all that information for later.”

“No one excepts you to start now,” Mycroft said. “How was Irene Adler? I saw you visited her in Moscow.”

“Fine,” Sherlock looked out the window bored. He was in London. He wanted to see John. He could. He’d dealt everyone. He’d done things he would have never thought of doing. Now was the time to see John again. Now he could do it. But, he knew, he’d have to do it slowly. Have to wait a while. He’d reasoned out a plan on the plane ride into London. He could do this now that his name was cleared.

“Listen,” Mycroft awkwardly began with no idea how to put it, “John in under different circumstances that I have not mentioned to you yet.”

“What? Has Roxie died since our last briefing?” Sherlock asked, trying not to show concern.

Mycroft checked his watch. “Right now, at this very moment, John Watson is marrying his girlfriend Mary Morstan.”

Sherlock’s world stopped. He yelled for the car to come to a halt. He got out the car and ran.

//

Jenny did the buttons on the back of Mary’s dress. “You look wonderful,” she assured her friend. “John’s a lucky man.”

Rooms over, John was redoing his tie for the seventh time. “It’s fine,” Mike assured him. “Listen, it’s time for you to go out there.” John smiled weakly and nodded. He made his way to the sanctuary of the church.

Cars honked as Sherlock ran through the streets. He thought back into his mind. Calculated John into what the question of what church he’d get married in. Thought of the variable of what his fiancé would like. Thought of the variable of what was even plausible. He had three options. He ran.

Mike and John made their way up the aisle. Everyone in the church looked so nice. Even Harry was smiling.

Sherlock came to the first church. He tried to open the doors. Looked around inside. Not what he needed. He started running to the second church. He could make this.

The Bride’s song filled the air of the church. Mary started down the aisle. The look on John’s face was priceless. His breath was taken away. He loved Mary. She looked beautiful. He could do this. It was going to be fine.

Sherlock was almost hit by a car for the third time. He was still hungry and frail. He was getting light headed. He ran. Sanity was lost to him.

“John,” Mary began, “I met you in a coffee shop and I thought you were not the brightest bulb. But you surprised me once I got to know you. You’re a whirlwind of adventure. You make me laugh. I love you so much. I promise not to get too mad when you leave empty milk cartons in the fridge. Or eat all the ice cream. I’ll only get mad for the big things. But really, all I want is to live with you forever. Because I love you so much…”

Mary couldn’t finish because a panting Sherlock Holmes had burst into the church and was able to utter the words, “John, don’t,” before he passed out.