colebaltblue: (sherlock)
[personal profile] colebaltblue
Title: The 5 Times John Went Differently
Author: [livejournal.com profile] colebaltblue
Characters/Pairings: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Mary Morstan/John Watson, Lestrade (Inspector)/John Watson
Rating: General, with mature themes
Warnings: mentions violence, drug abuse, adult relationships
Summary: There were five ways John's life could have gone, and one way it did.
Word Count: 6715
Notes: This was written for [livejournal.com profile] kscribbles for the winter 2011 round of [livejournal.com profile] holmestice.



ONE...
Harry was the only member of my family who made it to my graduation ceremony, and when I say “made it” I use the term loosely. She had made it to the bottom of a bottle of gin first and then my graduation second. But she was there and at that moment I cared more about that than anything else.

“My brother, the doctor,” she said in that slow careful way of a drunk. “When are you going to find yourself a companion? A pretty young girl?” She laughed at her own joke and I just sighed deeply. Harry thought she was hilarious when she was drunk and she was anything but.

“Where’s Clara?” I asked, hoping that her wife would be there to at least babysit her while I offered my congratulations to my classmates.

“Who cares?” was the dismissive reply. Right then, that again.

I pulled Harry to me with an arm around her waist and dragged her of. I would say hello and congratulations to a few friends before I’d leave to take my sister home and put her to bed with a glass of water and a few paracetamols. Maybe, if I was very lucky, I’d make it back in time to join everyone on the pub crawls. But, knowing Harry, I’d end up cleaning sick off her face and holding her hair back as she sobbed into the toilet. It was times like these that I hated Clara for staying with Harry, for trying to fix her and failing every day.

I checked Harry’s breathing one last time before I let myself out of her flat. At this point, I wasn’t even angry I had missed the pub crawl, just tired really tired of it all. I decided that if I was going to drown my sorrows, I didn’t want it to be in pints of beers with my fellow graduates. Shots and bodies writhing to a house beat that left you deaf enough you didn’t have to exchange names before a blow job in an alley would suit me just fine tonight.

That decision made, I had one last thing to take care of before I could lose myself in something wholly unconnected to my life as it currently stood. My flat was quiet and dark when I made it home and as I scrambled into jeans and tight black t-shirt I read the email I had received a few days ago one last time. It was a job offer, NHS-related, in Belfast. I had hoped for a position in London, or even somewhere in my native Scotland, but I suppose that I should just consider myself lucky that I had one at all when so many of my classmates didn’t.

Biting my lip, I pushed send on the waiting email I had composed which indicated my intent to accept the position pending successful graduation from the University of London. I shut down my computer and wandered about the empty flat for a few minutes, full of nervous energy and a sense that I had just made a decision that would alter everything.

I found myself down in SoHo, exactly where I intended to be, pressed tight up against someone nameless. Vodka was coursing through my blood and I was halfway to drunk. It felt delicious. Tonight, I wanted something different than alcoholic sisters and pints with med school mates and it had been more than a year since I had spent a drunk night in some man’s bed.

I left the looker on the dance floor and headed over to the bar. A long and thin torso leaned in beside me as I took my drink from the bartender. I looked up, and then up some more, into startling grey eyes and a mess of dark hair.

“Hi,” he said, all grin.

“Hi,” I answered back stupidly.

“Liam,” he said, leaning down close to my ear, he pulled back and winked.

“John,” I replied with a slow and knowing smile.

Drink half gone but still firmly in hand, I was tugged out into the sea of people by Liam. Score one for John Watson, I thought to myself. He wasn’t my usual type for drunk hook-ups, but he’d do just fine, I thought as I took in his long, lean torso clad in what had to be a ridiculously expensive shirt.

“What are you here for, Liam?” I asked as he pressed himself in close and gave an experimental grind.

“Same thing you are, John,” he answered.

Two drinks later and we had our tongues down each other’s throats, one more drink and we were stumbling back to his place, a dingy little place on Montague street. He nearly took me right there against his front door before I shoved him off and said condoms and lube as clearly as I could. He seemed to get it immediately and dragged me into the most cluttered bedroom I had ever seen in my entire life. From somewhere he produced the two items and then we quit wasting time.

Orgasms have a strange way of sobering me up when I’m drunk and tonight wasn’t any exception. Like most men, it appeared that Liam’s just put him straight to sleep. I slipped out of his bed and gathered up my clothes. In the yellow light seeping in through the half-closed curtains I could see him a bit better and my doctor’s eye caught the tell-tale signs of intravenous drug use. My lips twisted in a sort of smile as I thought about the irony of leaving a drunk sister just to have anonymous sex with a drug addict. Just because I didn’t attempt to fix my problems with substances didn’t mean I wasn’t just as broken as the man sprawled out in the bed before me or the sister I had left earlier that night.

A week later I left for Belfast.

I thought of Liam a few times in those first weeks in Belfast, but he quickly faded from my mind, replaced by other smiling lads from other gay bars and a few girlfriends thrown in there for good measure. It was a new town and a new life.




TWO...
I stepped off the plane at the Heathrow and made my way through the crowds. Just past security and customs there were crowds waiting, holding signs, children, and their tears in as they awaited their loved ones who were finally coming home. I didn’t even bother to scan the crowd. Harry, I knew, was in rehab yet again, promising this time she was going to make it work and maybe she would now that she had finally left Clara.

I hadn’t told anyone I was returning, well anyone besides Harry and she was not allowed to leave her facility. It was all right though. I wasn’t one for tearful reunions and I was ok with the fact that I didn’t have any family to return to, it’s not like I had left with much either.

A hand clasped me on the shoulder, “John, are you sure you won’t come home with me? I’m sure Annie wouldn’t mind.”

Bill had been asking me this for months, ever since we had received orders and finally knew when we’d be home. I had been telling him no for months. He hadn’t seen Annie in over a year and they had been newlyweds when we left. I didn’t want to be in the middle of that.

“Nah, I’ve got a sister to see and shit to do,” I demurred yet again.

“Watson, man, don’t do this,” he said shaking my shoulder. I sighed tiredly.

“Fine, fine, fine,” he conceded, “but next week you’re coming over for dinner.”

“Murray-”

“No, Annie and I already talked, you’re doing it.”

I nodded, now just wanting to go. Bill clapped me on the shoulder again and we walked on. A few moments later his name was shrieked across the airport and then there was a mess of red hair and limbs clinging to him. Annie. I melted into the crowds and headed out the door, fairly sure they wouldn’t even notice I was gone until they came up for air.

I meant to go straight to transitional housing, but decided that sooner was better than later to see Harry and had the cab take me to her rehab house instead. It was a nice place from the outside and looked just like all the other nice family homes on the block except for the small discreet sign on the front. Clara’s family money was paying for it then. Not that Harry wasn’t successful in her own right, I reminded myself, but money for these kinds of places came from Clara.

“You look good,” Harry said tiredly as I sat down at the table in the communal room. There was a counselor sitting discreetly off to the side acting as our chaperon. A tea tray and some biscuits appeared beside us and we ate and drank because we had nothing else to do.

I left with Harry’s house keys in my pocket and my promise that I wouldn’t do anything crazy. I didn’t really want to stay there, but with the place to myself it would be better than any sort of hotel I could get until I found something better. The first thing I did when I got there was throw out all the alcohol. No, not for Harry, for me. I was a doctor and I knew how addiction worked. The family already had one alcoholic thankyouverymuch, we didn’t need two. I suppose it didn’t matter though, I thought that night as I sat on Harry’s guest bed staring at the pill bottle beside me, I had other ways of escaping.

Annie and Bill were wonderful and I could see why he loved her. She was bright and cheerful in all the right ways. Annie didn’t treat Bill like the conquering hero, she didn’t ask questions about what happened in theater, and when Bill and I talked she just let us be. I stayed for hours and they invited me out to a pub a few nights later to meet a few of their friends.

“You’re not setting me up,” I told Bill as we stood on the threshold, but quite aware that I had probably already been set up and there was no way to back out gracefully or otherwise.

“Of course not,” he said unapologetically, “Annie is.”

I groaned and opened my mouth to argue or plead or beg or anything.

“John, please,” Bill interrupted with an easy grin. “Annie knows this great guy from work, says he could use a guy like you to remind him there’s something else out there besides police work.”

I looked at Bill, startled. I had never said anything to him. At all.

“Oh don’t look at me like that, John Watson,” he said, rolling his eyes, “you learn a lot about a man when you live with them in a war zone. Whether they want you to or not.”

I left, resigned to my fate and next week found myself having a drink bought for me by a Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade. His salt and pepper hair made him look a bit older than his 43 years, but it also made him look good. We watched the rugby match and ignored Bill and Annie’s pointed looks. It was a comfortable and fun evening with Bill, Annie, and a few other of the mutual friends and perhaps the least awkward first date I ever had.

That first date led to others which eventually led to our first sleepover a few months later. Lestrade had teased me about treating him like a girl by waiting a few months and I told him for that he had to make me dinner with wine and candles at his place before I’d put out. He did and then I did. In the middle of the night his phone started buzzing and with a string of curses he got out of bed and got dressed. He left, but not before extracting a promise from me to not leave his flat until he came back.

It was nearly noon the next morning when he returned, sheepish, and with take out in hand. Over a breakfast so late it might as well have been lunch he told me about a madman named Sherlock Holmes and I didn’t believe him. But I stuck around anyway because the man could make a mean beef stew and no matter how many times he disappeared in the middle of the night or didn’t show up for a date he always made it up to me.




THREE...
The nightmares didn’t let me sleep for longer than a few hours at a time, so to cope I started taking my pain pills because they numbed more than just the pain. When those ran out I asked for more. When those ran out, I found a new doctor who would give me more. When that supply ran out, I started forging my own scripts and wrote the prescriptions for myself. It wouldn’t work for long, but by then I didn’t care.

I played my first card game to win a bottle of pills. I was good enough that most nights I walked away with the chemicals to numb myself or the money to buy them. At first I stuck to the legal ones, telling myself that I wasn’t doing anything bad at all, just getting more pills without getting doctors in trouble. Soon enough though I was hooked on whatever worked for that night. The drugs worked for awhile and I could keep up on my debts, especially when I was winning as often as I was losing.

But then, it wasn’t enough, so I started gambling what money I had. I moved in with Harry and her drinks. I didn’t say anything about those (not like I used to) and she would lend me whatever money I wanted. It was perfect, her money enabled my addiction, and my silence enabled hers.

It wasn’t long though before I was in even over Harry’s ability to bail me out. But I kept playing because that’s really all you can do when you’re in that situation. One night, it finally caught up with me and a bag was thrown over my head and I was tossed in the back of a van. The smell of wet industrial London was a lot different that the hot dry desert of Afghanistan, but that didn’t matter and I was right back in the thick of it again. The sweet, sweet adrenaline coursing through my veins was better than any high the pills, drugs, or booze offered. I fought and the hired thugs kicked me. The blood was the best thing I had ever tasted and I let it dribble out my mouth as I curled around my bruised ribs.

“I can see you’re enjoying yourself, John Watson,” the carefully cultured voice said as I was finally dragged out of the van and held upright. I could hear the echo around me that told me when were in a large empty building. The breeze and a pungent odor in the air told me it was open to the outside and close to the Thames. Docks, or industrial building by the river I thought. The bag over my head was ripped off and I looked around me. Industrial building. There was a man in front of me, legs apart, hands clasped, hard to make out beyond the stark silhouette illuminated by the bright headlights of the car parked behind them.

“You know, you could have said please,” I answered back with a grin as I approached the man. He curled his nose when he caught sight of what were surely bloody teeth.

“There is no need to ever say please, John Watson, when it’s your will to be done,” he answered.

“Right. Well, get on with it. Break my legs, my hands, my neck.”

He laughed.

“Oh I have no intention of doing any of that. If I did you wouldn’t be useful to me, John Watson, and I so do want you to be useful.”

For the first time since the bag slipped over my head, I was caught off guard.

He chuckled, low and dark.

“Oh yes, that’s right. See, John Watson, you owe me money. And do you know what happens to people who owe me money?”

I waited, allowing my silence to be my answer.

“I own them, John Watson. I own their souls.”

A shiver ran through me at the softly spoken words. The man took a step forward and peered at my face.

“I see, doctor,” he said so quietly I almost couldn’t hear him, “you are beginning to comprehend the situation.”

I took a step back and reached behind him. Out of the lights a man stepped forward, carrying a hand gun and a semi-automatic rifle.

“I had a look at your records, John Watson and you know what they told me?” The man inclined his head to the side, voice going sing-song. “They told me that you were just as good at taking lives as you were at keeping them.”

I eyed the man holding the guns. At some unseen signal he stepped forward and handed them to me.

“I have a job for you, John Watson.”

That’s how I started working for James Moriarty. At first I refused to shoot the guns and I spent my time patching up members of his gang that were injured. I quit asking questions after a visit from a man named Moran. I told myself that it was ok that I was working for a drug lord because I was doing good, I was saving lives.

Soon though, Moriarty brought me in for another visit. As valuable as my services were to him and his work in London, it turned out that he felt I still owed him far more than what I could pay back in saving the lives of those that he felt were more or less expendable in the first place.

I rode with Moran and two other men I had never met before to the public pool and settled down in the rafters above. Moriarty told me he was going to be meeting with a friend that night, a friend who owed him something and wasn’t to leave the pool alive. If all went as planned, he whispered in my ear, I would be a free man, I could walk away and never look back and I’d never hear from James Moriarty or Sebastian Moran again.

One last job. No one had to know. I would do it and go. Besides, I reasoned with myself, it’s not like it would be my bullet that would kill Moriarty’s friend when it came down to it, there would be three others shooting too.

A tall thin man with dark hair and a cultured accent entered the pool. He raised his hand as I sighted him through the scope and I saw it held a USB drive and he was saying something about plans.

Moriarty stepped out from the changing area and began talking, but I tuned the words out and focused through my rifle sight. Do the job and get out, I told myself. It wasn’t going well, I realized when Moriarty pulled a hostage forward, covered in wires and plastic explosives. But I kept that man in my sights like a good little soldier.

It all happened so fast, the shove, the splash of the water in the pool, the concussion of the explosion. I saw the man dive out of the way and lost him. Laser sights lit up everywhere and I heard shots ring out. I fired a few blindly myself.

Someone got him if the explosion didn’t, I told myself, and crawled out of the wreckage of the pool. I’m not sure how I made it past the police and out into safety, but I did.

I ran for blocks before I finally stopped and took a moment to breathe in a dark alley. Then, I stepped out into the crowds and melted away.

The man had to be dead, I told myself, and if he was dead I was free. I didn’t allow myself to think of the alternatives. What it would mean if he had survived. I caught a cab and returned home. Harry was there, glued to the television.

“Oh my God, John!” she exclaimed as I walked in the door, “did you see this?””

“Yeah, scary shit,” I answered, heading towards the back room. I emerged again carrying an overnight bag full of my clothes. “Pack your stuff Harry, we have to go.”

“Go?” she asked, confused, “go where?”

“Anywhere but here,” I answered.

“You’re crazy,” she said, crossing her arms and leaning back into the sofa. I didn’t want to argue so walked out. I flung open the front door and almost ran face first into a tall and slightly balding man holding an umbrella. There was an attractive woman holding a blackberry behind him. The man’s expression was cold, dark, and dangerous. I knew in an instant I was in more trouble than I was at any point in my relationship with Moriarty.

“Doctor John Watson, if you would come with me please,” he said calmly, slowly, quietly, as he stepped to the side. I could see a black car parked on the street, a man holding the door open.

“Or what?” I asked, frightened, but trying not to show it.

“There is no ‘or what’ John Watson. You will get in the car.”

“No.”

“Ah, perhaps this would be easier if I simply explained,” he replied.

I looked at him and impossibly his eyes got even colder.

“You are responsible for my brother’s death and from this moment on, you simply don’t exist. Because whereas my brother is dead, you will only wish you were.”




FOUR...
Mary Morstan was the sister of an American doctor that I was stationed with in Afghanistan. I caught sight of her one day on his computer screen as I walked by and couldn’t leave him alone about her after that. Some gentle teasing revealed she was a sister, not a girlfriend or wife, and earnest conversation revealed she was his only family and that he had joined the Army to pay for medical school so that he could take care of her.

We started off saying hi to each other whenever he’d call her, then after a careful introduction and a slap on the back that said, ‘if you fuck this up I’ll kill you’ we started chatting ourselves. One thing led to another and next thing I knew, Mary was waiting for me at Heathrow when I returned home from Afghanistan. I kissed her for the first time right there, just past security.

Somehow it worked and a year later I was working in a hospital in central London and Mary Morstan was Mary Watson and setting up house for us in Kensington. I loved her bright smile and her beautiful red hair. She had an easy laugh and a simple charm about her that had Harry in love with her almost at first sight. I kept them apart for while because past experience had taught me a few painful lessons, but I needn’t have worried.

We were comfortable and happy and life was simple and good. Almost before we knew it we had been married for four years and had a infant son. Mary now worked part-time as a preschool teacher and was beloved by her students and their parents. It was a Thursday afternoon when I received a page at the hospital that my wife was trying to reach me. Fearing the worst for our son or her or anything I bolted to the phone.

“Mary, sweetheart, what’s wrong?” I said frantically.

“John, everything is fine, but I’m going to need you to come home as soon as you’re done there.”

Despite her assurances, I couldn’t concentrate so doctor to cover for me as I slipped out a bit early. I made it home and was greeted by Mary and a strange man sitting in the front room.

“John,” Mary said, “this is Mr. Miller, a lawyer from New York.”

I shook the man’s hand before he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a folder.

“Doctor Watson,” he began, “you’re wife, Mary Watson, formally Morstan, has been named in my client’s will.”

I looked at Mary, my brow furrowed. “Remember, when I met you, I was a nanny?” she said.

I nodded and motioned for Mr. Miller to continue.

“A trust fund has been set up in Mrs. Watson’s name. It is to provide for her and any children she might have.” He handed me the stack of papers and I stared at them, not understanding anything. I mumbled something about my solicitor looking over the papers and that we’d be in touch.

It was hundreds of thousands of dollars, all carefully allocated for Mary and any of her children, very cleverly set up, my solicitor was impressed, so that it was Mary’s and Mary’s alone. We began talking about schools such as Harrow for our son and the possibility of having more children, something we had decided to put off for a few years because of costs.

The phone rang and the American lawyer was very sorry, but the managers of the trust, a pair of brothers by the last name of Agra had disappeared along with most of the money. He assured us that ‘the authorities’ where on the cause and they were ‘doing all we can’. Mary cried for a day before she put herself back together again. Two days later she announced she had found someone on the internet that could assist us and we had an appointment with a consulting detective.

The three of us met at a coffee shop. He was unconventionally attractive with sharp cheekbones and sharper grey eyes. He was also an arrogant bastard, but he seemed interested in the case if a bit dismissive of Mary. Me, he favored with a long hard searching look before agreeing to take it on. His fee would be a portion of whatever he recovered no matter what his expenses were. “I take the cases I find interesting, I charge what my clients can afford,” he said dismissively by way of explanation.

He communicated a few times through short and cryptic text messages and once sent me a picture of the Empire State building that it appeared he took himself. I didn’t think he was making progress, but Mary seemed optimistic and I let things be.

We both received a text a few weeks later with New Scotland Yard’s address and a demand to come quickly..

“Ah, there you are,” he said, striding towards us, shoes clicking on the marble floor and coat flapping. He had just entered through the door behind us. “This way,” he said, barely breaking his stride.

We followed him 15 floors up and into the office of a Detective Inspector G. Lestrade.

“Holmes,” he said with exasperation the three of us walked in together.

He looked at us with something that may have been pity or sympathy.

“News Lestrade?”

“Sherlock, you know I can’t give you that information.”

Sherlock Holmes gestured impatiently towards Mary, “This is Mary Morstan and her husband John Watson.”

“We have official channels for a reason, Sherlock,” Lestrade said tiredly. He ran his hands over his face and sighed deeply, “the money is gone, for the most part at least,” he said to Mary. “You’ll spend more trying to recover it than what it’s worth. I’m very sorry, Mrs. Watson.”

Mary nodded and smiled a brittle little smile.

“We will contact you if we recover anything.”

“Thank you, Detective Inspector,” my wife said softly.

We stood to leave. Sherlock Holmes was watching us carefully.

I reached forward with my hand and opened my mouth to ask him about his fee. He waived my hand away, “nothing recovered, nothing owed. I’ll be in contact if anything else develops.” Then he was gone in a swirl of coat, leaving me with my hand still outstretched. I looked over my shoulder at Lestrade who simply shrugged and looked back down at the work on his desk.

Right then.

Mary and I returned home together. There wasn’t much else to be done.




FIVE...
I came home from Afghanistan with a bullet in my shoulder and a limp that they said was all in my head. My hands shook too much for me to even hold a tongue depressor, let alone a scalpel so instead I concentrated on learning how to best kill myself. Then Clara called, Harry was in the hospital on detox and they weren’t sure if she was going to make it and something just snapped. That week I had researched the perfect drug cocktail for suicide and now my sister was as good as testing the results herself. And I knew that more than anything, I didn’t to end up in the same place as my sister - not giving a shit and just wanting it to all go away.

The Army offered some PTSD therapy and I badgered the NHS until I received some cognitive behaviour therapy. I started keeping a blog, at first because that’s what my therapist said I needed to do to get better. Eventually, I did it because it really did help to talk about it all.

It was at a veteran’s self-help group that someone said that the stress of being normal just got to them sometimes. They were sick of trying to be the spouse that left for the war, rather than the one that came back for it. I quit trying to be the Dr. John Watson I was Before and simply became Dr. John Watson, After. I took a job working the overnight shift at King’s A&E and it was everything I needed.

My life fell into a routine reminiscent of the Army. I slept, wrote, worked out, volunteered a bit, visited Clara on my days off, and at night I put people back together again under the shouts, bright lights, and chaos that made my blood sing. The nurses and other doctors loved me because I wasn’t afraid to dive right in and take charge on the worst cases and I was always available for an extra shift that needed covering. It kept the limp and the tremor at bay and that’s all I really cared about.

A few months on the job I managed to get Bill Murray a position on staff as a nurse and we worked as a team and the others just let us. Except for the fact that we had exchanged the crisp, dry, bone chilling cold of Afghanistan with the damp, dark, bone chilling cold of London, it was almost like we were back again and it suited us both. Bill and I would share cigarettes, huddled outside against the wall, on our breaks. Sometimes, after a shift, we’d head down to the bars and pick up girls at closing time, taking them back to our respective flats for a quick shag, an even quicker breakfast in the morning and a “no, I’ll call you,” for a goodbye. It was glorious.

So it went on, long past times when other doctors burnt out, no longer able to care and feel. A few years in though I had my first truly memorable patient. He had pale skin, like he rarely saw the sun, with the barest hint of freckles that looked like they’d love to come out of hiding. His eyes would have been gray, except his pupils were blown and I vaguely wondered how he was still conscious. His hair was dark and messy and curly yet clean. He might’ve been pretty, but his face too angular and full of sharp lines to truly be considered so.

There are two main types of drug addicts, City Boys who were rushed off to private hospitals faster than you could blink. We often didn’t even have time to even start their paperwork. And, those that came in off the street, messy, dirty, and high on whatever they could get their hands on. This kid was different. He had nice clothes on that would’ve easily marked him as a City Boy, but he was practically carried in by street girl that I had seen a few times before. She referred to him as her friend and he seemed to feel comfortable in her presence. Whatever he was high on was clean stuff, not the kind of smack you bought on the streets of Brixton.

We strapped him down to the bed, Bill and I, so that he wouldn’t hurt himself when he seized. The girl who brought him in disappeared mumbling something about not wanting to be around when He showed up. He couldn’t or wouldn’t tell us his name - every time we asked he had a different answer. He snorted in disdain and muttered, “amatures” when we asked him what he had taken so we could treat him.

I found a police badge in his pocket, but when I had the nurse call New Scotland Yard about it, the owner, one Detective Inspector Lestrade told me he didn’t care if ‘that bloody cock up’ lived or died, although he did ask that we hold the badge for him.

Bill started the saline drip and then all we could do is wait and check on him. He was there two hours when a man in a dark brown suit and carrying an umbrella strode through the doors. He headed directly for the kid’s room and I moved quickly to intercept him.

“Excuse me,” I said, stepping in front of the bed.

“Doctor...” he paused, glancing down at my chest, “Watson, I do thank you for looking after Sherlock here, but your services are no longer necessary.”

“Sherlock, right,” I said grabbing the chart and scribbling the name in. The chagrin on the man’s face was so quick I almost missed it, and he affixed me with a calculating gaze.

“Drugs again, I suppose.”

“I don’t think-”

“Really, doctor,” he interrupted, pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket, “let me save you the trouble of all of that. I am his next of kin.”

I crossed my arms, refusing to look at the paper and instead focused on him. “We don’t even know who he is, so how can you possibly be here?”

The man smiled at me with his lips, but it didn’t reach any other part of his face. “Sherlock has been making a tour of London hospitals, it was simply a matter of watching the computer systems for an intake of a John Doe that matched his description. Elementary, really.”

A woman appeared next to him. “The car is ready,” she said without looking up from her Blackberry.

“I’m not releasing him.” I said.

The man stepped smoothly to the side and looked down at Sherlock.

“Yes, Doctor, I’m afraid you are.” He turned to the woman next to him and without saying anything she stepped forward and produced a medical chart. “I believe you will find everything you need in there. Now, if you’ll excuse us doctor.” He bent over and began untying the patient’s wrists.

Sherlock had passed out, but the movement was bringing him slowly back to consciousness. He looked up at the man leaning over him.

“You,” he said with as much malice as he could muster.

“Me, mon frere,” the man replied.

With amazing strength he hauled Sherlock up and I just watched in amazement as he half dragged half carried him out the door. The woman with the Blackberry followed.

“What was that all about,” Bill asked, appearing at my shoulder.

“I don’t know,” I replied and then glanced down at the chart in my hand. It was filled for a William Scott who had been admitted for a possible drug overdose. All the information was correct, and it helpfully included a release time. William Scott had signed himself out at two o’clock in the morning. I looked at my watch. It was one-thirty.

“Huh,” Bill said, looking at the chart.

I looked back at the bed that Sherlock or William or whoever that was had just vacated and was unsurprised to see that his original chart was missing. I knew that the computer records would match the chart in my hand.

“Who do you think that was?” Bill asked as he handed the chart back to me.

“No idea,” I replied.




+ ONE...
Sherlock Holmes and I had been flatmates for a few months before I finally got around to taking Mike Stamford out for a drink.

“I have to say, John, I’m quite glad things worked out. I was half-afraid you’d hate me for introducing you two.”

I laughed at him. “I only hate you on Tuesdays, and since this is a Wednesday...”

We settled in with our scotch and had a superficial conversation and Sherlock, Mike’s students, and the London weather. It was awkward and we parted ways after making empty promises to keep in touch and see each other again.

I returned to the flat I now called home and wondered what sight was going to greet me this time. Would it be Sherlock bet over an experiment oblivious to everything around him, the flat eerily abandoned as he rushed out the door to follow the latest case, or would I have to rely on reflexes honed in combat as I avoided something flying at my head? All in the name of research, of course. I opened the door to see Sherlock leaning half out the window perched awkwardly in the armchair he had dragged over there. He was smoking a cigarette.

“I thought you quit,” I said, coming in and sitting down on the couch.

He looked at me and snorted.

“Nicotine patches and all that?” I tried again.

“They weren’t working,” he said.

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “I passed Lestrade on my way out, what did he need?” I asked, sorting the mail I had picked up on my way in.

Sherlock waived his hand dismissively, “The brother had the dog. Any imbecile could’ve seen that if they had taken two seconds to think about it.”

I hid my smile. It was best not to encourage him.

“How was Mike?” Sherlock asked.

I didn’t ask him how he knew. “Fine,” I replied.

“Did you get all that off your chest.”

“You know, Sherlock, sometimes some things are just best left unsaid,” I said with exasperation, setting the mail aside and pulling my laptop into my lap.

He was silent and looked up to see him watching me, cigarette forgotten in his hand.

“Did you thank him for me too?” he asked, quietly.

I smiled at him and he smiled back before crushing his cigarette out on the window sill. I glared at him.

“Come on John, I have a new theory I want to try out on curries and I need samples,” he said, getting up and walking towards the door. I considered not following for just an instant, but then realized that I would follow him anywhere, curry or no.

Since I was in the mood, I sent silent thank you to the bastard that put the bullet in my shoulder as I set my laptop aside and went to put my coat back on. He was as much responsible for me being here with Sherlock as Mike was.

“What’s this theory?” I called as he clattered down the stairs. I followed more slowly, not wanting to risk a broken neck.

“If I told you, that’d skew the data.” He said. He looked at me with a smirk, “what did they teach you in school about such things? Really, John I hardly see how the solar system is more important than basic statistical methods.”

I rolled my eyes as we walked out the door together.
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