John had had enough. Enough of the pity (Mrs Hudson, Lestrade who was wracked with guilt, Molly, Mike, even random people on the streets who recognised him), the self-righteousness (Donovan and Anderson, both smugly unrepentant, and others at the Yard), and the scorn (again, random people on the streets, who thought he should have known all along Sherlock was a fake—but he wasn't, he wasn't!). Enough of Baker Street with its constant reminders (the chemistry equipment on the kitchen table, the skull on the mantle, the gruesome things left over in the fridge). And he'd had more than enough of Mycroft bloody Holmes, with his constant surveillance (CCTV cameras turned towards him whenever he went out, sometimes a dark car followed him, and he'd found a camera in his bedroom!), as if in Sherlock's absence John was to be the new victim of the man's heavy-handed 'protection'.

He'd just had fucking enough.

Then he remembered the offer. A few years ago, fresh from Afghanistan and sunk into depression, but before he met Sherlock, an old army mate had come to see him. Well, Air Force actually, an American, but they'd worked together on a covert mission once and got along well. Kept in touch. He'd talked to John about a possible posting, experimental treatment for his injuries.

At the time John had been too angry and hopeless to listen. Experimental treatment? He was a doctor for god's sake, he knew there was nothing to be done. The limp had was all in his head they claimed, and the nerve damage to his surgeon's hands was irreversible. He'd sent the man away and dropped contact.

But now…

FROM: john. watson (a) google. com
TO: e. lorne (a) atl. af. mil
SUBJECT: Long time no see


It's John Watson, that British Army bloke you bestowed with that god-awful nickname. I know it's been years, but I just thought I'd write to catch up. See how life's been treating you. Still in the Air Force?

Hey, I was wondering, that offer you made me way back…is it still on the table? I know it's been years, I'm probably too late, but I'm at a bit of loose ends right now. Figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

Let me know,

It took about a fortnight to get a reply.

FROM: e. lorne (a) atl. af. mil
TO: john. watson (a) google. com
SUBJECT: RE: Long time no see

Three Continents Watson!

It was a brilliant nickname, if accidental. Didn't mean for that unit mate of yours to overhear it, and even then, didn't expect to hear it'd caught on so well.

I've been great. Still in the Air Force of course – nowhere I'd rather be – but on a rather different assignment in recent years. I love it, but it's quite isolated. We only get mail in and out on alternating weeks, hence me taking so long to reply. Sorry.

Anyway, regarding that offer, I checked with my superiors and they're definitely still interested in having you on. Someone will approach you soon regarding an interview. It'd be great to see you out here.

Good luck,

A day later John found a man on his doorstep with a sealed manila envelope. He was plain clothed, but John recognised the military bearing, and spotted the concealed weapon. He tensed, feeling a flood of adrenaline the likes of which he'd long been deprived. It was a thrill.

The envelope, once opened, turned out to be information for the interview Lorne had mentioned. And, apparently, he was scheduled to leave now. There was a taxi idling at the curb and, as John slipped into the back seat, he saw the driver had a similar bearing to the man who slid in beside him.

A false taxi, rather than a conspicuous black car with dark tinted windows. Whoever Lorne was involved with was hell of a lot more subtle than Mycroft. Not that that was hard. John had long ago decided that 'drama queen' was a Holmes family trait. Speaking of which…John turned a level, somewhat defiant glance on the CCTV camera at the end of the street.

The interview took place in an upscale office building at Canary Wharf.

To start with, John was subjected to a physical. John was glad that chasing after Sherlock had kept him in a fit enough state to not be embarrassed by his results, even if he wasn't quite up to his army days standards. The other doctor took a lot of blood, did about a million x-rays, even had him do an MRI for some reason. They were very thorough.

Then had followed a psych evaluation and John had something else to thank Sherlock for. The man had given him a very thorough lecture one afternoon, after a particularly frustrating meeting with Ella Thompson, on how to run rings around therapists. John now knew how to tell them just what they wanted to hear, without going so overboard as to be suspicious.

There were a few tense moments when they brought up Sherlock. Probably if John had talked about betrayal and disappointment it would have gone smoother, but he still refused to pretend the man had been less than what he was, less than a true genius, no matter what the media and Scotland Yard's higher-ups claimed.

He didn't get to the actual interview portion of the interview that day. He was just told they would look over his medical and psychological results to see if he was what they were looking for and get back to him.

"What are you doing here?" John demanded.

The last thing he'd wanted to see, on returning from the grocery store, was Mycroft Holmes in his living room. The man sat, as smug as you please, on a chair by the window. Thankfully he'd had sense enough not to sit on Sherlock's couch. Not after last time, when John's expression had grown cold enough to make even 'the British Government' flinch.

"John, you're well I hope," Mycroft drawled confidently, so bloody confidently.

John had to remind himself that the man had actually displayed guilt when John confronted him about supplying Moriarty with the information to ruin Sherlock. He had to remember the way Mycroft had looked at the funeral, pale and wretched and guilty. He had to remember those things, and not the way he'd so quickly recovered, otherwise he'd be tempted to punch the man in the face.

Apparently something of his thought shone through, as Mycroft shifted his grip on his umbrella, expression ever so slightly wary.

John stomped to the kitchen and shoved the cereal and bread in the cupboard, the milk and cheese in the fridge (clean now, and free of any heads or feet or rotting flesh, and god what did it say about him that he missed those things) before flicking the kettle on. Because he was English dammit, and Englishmen made tea for their guests, even creepy, uninvited tossers like Mycroft who didn't deserve it.

"Been fine," John eventually said, setting the cup down in front of Mycroft loudly and retreating to his armchair. "As you no doubt know, what with the stalking."

"Come now John, I'm just keeping an eye on your well-being. Speaking of which, I understand you're seeking new employment? Really, if you need something to do and the clinic is no longer to your liking, I'm sure I could find you a position."

"No," was John's short response. "If that was all?"

Mycroft's grip on his umbrella tightened. "John, I understand you're not terribly fond of me after everything-"

John's scoffed, "Understatement," went ignored.

"-but I have concerns about the people you're involving yourself with. They are…suspect."

It came to John in a flash of realisation, all the clues slotting together to form a suddenly clear picture. He wondered wistfully if that was what it had felt like for Sherlock. Mycroft didn't usually deign to visit John personally, so it must be serious. The curtain had been closed as if to hide the living room from external eyes. And there had been the barest hesitation, just a flicker of uncertainty in Mycroft's usually smug eyes. If it were anyone else, John might think he'd stumbled into some danger. But no, Mycroft doubtless had the experience and influence to handle that sort of thing with equanimity. So then what? But of course! What else could make a Holmes uncertain, but their own ignorance?

"You don't know, do you?" John said, leaning forward, and watched Mycroft's expression sour slightly in confirmation. "The job I'm looking into, you don't know a thing about it." And he laughed. "I'll do as I please Mycroft. And if these people are beyond your reach? So much the better."


"Get out," John ordered cheerfully.

A month later, after an offer that came with a stack load of confidentiality forms, putting his things into storage and saying his goodbyes, flying out to Colorado Springs in America, signing yet more papers, learning some quite shocking things regarding the nature of the universe and his own genome, being treated by some frankly sci-fi-esque technology which repaired the nerve damage stemming from his shoulder…

After all of that, John stepped through a wormhole and grinned. What had he said to Mycroft? 'Beyond your reach', wasn't it? Because apparently, even Mycroft Holmes's influence didn't extend to an alien city in another galaxy. Which was reassuring. He wouldn't have put it past the bastard.

For the first time since losing Sherlock, John felt hopeful. This could be just what he needed. Something dangerous and fantastic and challenging. Something away from the pity and self-righteousness and scorn and surveillance. Yes, maybe here on Atlantis he could learn to be happy again.

The End

Author's Notes:

I should probably have posted this before the new season of Sherlock aired. But when has contradiction of canon ever stopped fanfic?

I actually wrote this ages ago, but never posted because I never got around to finishing it. But it's just recently occurred to me that this could work just fine as a one-shot, with an ambiguous ending regarding the whole: 'what happens when Sherlock returns to find John gone and, oh yeah, in another galaxy?'

Maybe one day I'll add more. I had plans for this story. For now though, it's complete as is.

Reviews make me happy (hint, hint).