The first gift arrived on the Tuesday morning, by courier. John was barely awake when he stumbled to the front door dressed in only his boxers and an old undershirt. He stared blankly, blinking tiredly, and lent against the doorframe.
"Package for a, uh…Dr. John Watson?" The currier read from his clipboard, sounding too awake for so early in the morning.
"That's me …" John muttered, reaching out blindly for the clipboard. Signing his name sloppily, he exchanged the clipboard for the package. Waving and mumbling a goodbye, he shut the door.
The package was fairly light, square, and was covered in stamps from all over the place. In his half-asleep state, he could almost have sworn there was a Hawaiian stamp on there. It wasn't actually opened for another couple of hours, once the 34 year old had gotten dressed and was properly functioning, when the military doctor finally sat down and relaxed. He stared down at the package curiously, his hands brushing against the seal of the envelope.
Sherlock watched him closely out of the corner of his eye.
"Do you think it's safe?" John asked randomly.
Sherlock arched an eyebrow. "Why would you think it isn't?"
"You know, with the whole Moriarty thing – didn't think you'd want to take that kind of risk …" John justified, his hands moving to play with the opening again.
Seeing his hesitation, the consulting detective rolled his eyes and stood up abruptly. Blinking befuzzled, he watched as his friend balanced the package on his fingers. It tilted slightly before he handed it over.
"It's safe." He commented, sounding decisive, before dropping the parcel onto John's lap and returning to his armchair. The laptop was on his lap a minute later.
Deciding to trust his roommates deduction skills (after all, they hadn't been wrong for as long as he'd known him) John slowly and carefully peeled the envelope open, pulling the content onto his lap. He raised an eyebrow.
Sitting there was a limited edition box set of Strike Back – an army television show of six episodes, based on the books by Chris Ryan that he'd watched an episode of a while back. He remembered saying he wanted to watch the rest of the series. And now here it was. He examined the DVDs case closely, out of habit more than anything, before his eyes zeroed in on a pale yellow piece of paper sticking out from within. He plucked it out gently.
It was a post-it note, the stick completely gone from one side as to not ruin parts of the case. Five words were written with a biro, scrawled curved and elegant across the paper.
"'I heard you liked it'," John read aloud, his eyebrows drawn together in confusion. What the…
"Hmm?" Sherlock hummed, his eyes never leaving the computer screen, "What is it John?"
"Uh, what? Oh, I um, got Strike Back DVDs…" John muttered, sounding distant as his mind wandered once again. He had one question in mind: who had sent this?
Lestrade called them when the second package arrived. Apparently, it had been sent to Scotland Yard under his name and the mail room had called him in confusion – there was no John Watson in the homicide department. There was no John Watson in the precinct. As soon as he had received the square package in his office, he had the envelope analysed for fingerprints or hair fibres while he called 221B Baker Street.
Sherlock answered on the second ring.
"Sherlock. You need to get John down to the station as soon as possible. Something just arrived for him."
A moment of pause. "…has it been analysed?"
Lestrade leant back in his chair and made a low noise at the back of his throat. "As we speak. I had Anderson looking at – don't start," he warned when he heard an intake of breath that resembled a scoff, "We should have something by the time you get here. So, are you coming?"
Another moment of silence. "…five minutes…"
Fifteen minutes later, the consulting detective and the military doctor slandered into the office of an agitated Detective Inspector. Sherlock dropped into one of the chairs and almost immediately began staring at his fingers, seeming disinterested, while John instantly moved to stand in front of Lestrade, only the desk between them.
"Where is it?" he asked, sounding on edge.
As if on cue, Sergeant Sally Donovan entered the office, clad in her usual grey dress-suit, and deposited the envelope on the glass desk, along with a brown folder containing the detailed report.
As she turned to leave, she sneered at Sherlock. "Freak."
"You really must learn to clean yourself properly Donovan," Sherlock stated, not looking up from his hands, "You still have grit on your knees."
The Sergeant flushed, shot him a glare and stormed out of the room. Lestrade gave Sherlock an exasperated look but the detective seemed unfazed. He sighed in defeat before he opened the paper folder. His eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he absentmindedly held out the envelope to its owner. John accepted it hesitantly.
"So?" he pushed gently, "Did you find anything?"
"Nope. Whoever sent this…he's smart." Lestrade rubbed his eyes with his palm, "No fingerprints. No hair or skin particles. Nothing – and it has so many stamps, has been sent so far, that it can't be traced…on the plus side, it's not an explosive."
John gave the DI a dry smile. "Well, that's comforting…"
Gently and carefully, as before, he slid his thumb beneath the seal and slowly ripped the two pieces apart. Reaching a hand into the package a box – too small for the size of its container – velvet to the touch, sat in the palm of his hand. Using his thumb as a lever, he opened the lid and his eyes widened in surprise.
Another coloured note sat in the box, covering whatever the box was made for. It was written on the same kind of paper, same handwriting and pen, by the same person. This time the words said, "I saw this and thought of you." Definitely the same person.
Sliding the paper into his coat pocket, he gazed down at his gift in surprise. Sitting on a foam cushion, was a army commissioned dog tag – similar to the one he had been given at the military, but this one was real silver. On the first pendant, was the silhouetted image of a lightening bolt – his favourite weather. On the second, like his metal one, his name was engraved.
"'Dr. John Watson'" he muttered aloud, his fingers brushing the indented scripture, "'1976-present. Doctor, Solider…love…'" his hands tightened around the tag, deep in thought.
DI Lestrade watched John closely, curiously. "Do you have any idea who sent you this?"
John looked up, blinking surprised. "Hmm? Oh, no, I have no idea … I got the first one last week…" he wandered back into his thoughts, his eyes narrowed.
Lestrade sighed and turned his attention to Sherlock, who hadn't looked up once. "Do you have any idea who sent these to your friend?"
Sherlock raised his head and looked uncharacteristically surprised at been spoken to. His face relaxed into his disinterested expression. "Me? Not a clue."
The third gift arrived two days later. Well, technically it didn't 'arrive' because it was already sitting on the dining table when he awoke that morning. Sherlock must have gone out because the flat was silent, eerily so, as he left his room that morning.
His brown eyes found it before his brain had fully caught up with him. Absentmindedly, his hands drifted to the dog tag that hung limply around his neck. He wasn't sure how he felt about these gifts but if someone had gone to so much trouble to make something so expensive for him, the least he could do was wear it.
Hesitantly, wondering what the package held this time, John approached the envelope and picked it up. It was the same brown envelope that the others had been sent in and he vaguely wondered whether whoever sent it had a never ending supply of these envelopes. Shaking his head to clear the thoughts, he quickly and steadily ripped open the envelope, almost desperately. He paused only when he caught sight of his hidden gift.
But not just any jumper. It was the jumper had seen only the previous day in Top Shop. It was back and yellow, striped, and (as the shop clerk had pointed out) suited his eyes. But he didn't have enough money and wouldn't get paid until the end of the month, so he had resigned himself to waiting. The fact that very same item of clothing was now sitting in his hands proved one thing for certain: he was being followed.
It was that realisation that brought him to office of the biggest 'stalker' he knew. Mycroft Holmes blended in well with his suit and briefcase, and umbrella, though it was still strange to see such a powerful man in such a normal place. He sat comfortably in one of the leather chairs, holding a china cup, filled with herbal tea, with a sickly sweet smile on his face that made John's skin crawl. He shifted awkwardly in his seat.
"Is there a reason why you called me here, John?" Mycroft asked pleasantly, tilting his head to the side.
The military doctor was silent for a moment as he wondered how to put this forward. It was such a strange situation to be in. "You, um, watch the house don't you? For your brother?"
"And everyone associated with him." The older Holmes brother nodded and sipped his drink in a way that reflected his position, "Purely out of security reasons, I assure you, but yes. What of it?"
"Look, I've been getting these…gifts recently…"John began.
"I am aware of that." Mycroft interrupted.
John looked annoyed for a moment before he continued with his request. "I want to know if you've seen anything…if you know who this person is…"
"Yes, he does seem rather fond of you." Mycroft mused.
"It's a he?" his eyebrows raised in question.
For a moment, Mycroft seemed almost over-protective. Almost. "Yes, a he. Do you have a problem with that?"
John blinked surprised. "A problem? No…you, of all people, should know that…"
Mycroft seemed to relax after that. A small smile played menacingly on his features. "Why didn't you speak to Sherlock about this if it was bothering you? He is, after all easier to reach than myself."
"Speak…to…Sherlock?" John blinked a look of genuine surprise on his face. He hadn't thought of that. Hell, it hadn't even crossed his mind.
Holmes smiled eerily once again and took another sip, his eyes trained on his brother's roommate. "Go talk to Sherlock." He instructed simply.
By the time he had returned to Baker Street, he had recited how he was going to bring up the subject with his sociopath roommate. But when the door of 221B closed and he caught sight of the man in his usual armchair, his whole plan flew out of the window.
"Do you know who's been following me?" he blurted, hanging up his coat, his eyes remaining in place.
Sherlock stayed still for a moment, his eyes closed, before he sighed dramatically, sounding almost resolved. "Someone's following you? I hadn't noticed…"
John looked at him in disbelief. "How could you not notice? It's obvious. The DVDs…"
"You're a military doctor. It's perfectly natural for someone to believe you would like army dramas." Sherlock dismissed instantly.
"…the dog tag…"
"Simple to find in any good jewellery store and your dates would be public military records."
"…and now the jumper…"
"You do have a strange fetish for jumpers, John."
"…it's too much of a coincidence." John said firmly, agitated by the constant cut offs by the impatient detective, "And I find it really had to believe that someone who can tell if you are someone's father by the way you wear your trousers, could not tell whether he was being followed or not."
Sherlock didn't answer. Instead, he relaxed further into his seat, his eyes stilled behind his closed lids, his hands moved into fists.
John tried again. "What if it's Moriarity?"
Again, he received no answer. Sighing in defeat, the doctor shook his head and retreated to his bedroom. He wondered why Mycroft had sent him to Sherlock, when he really was no help at all.
The fourth (and final) gift arrived the next day, early afternoon, just after mid-day. Mrs. Hudson had answered the door and brought up the flat with a huge impressed smile on her face, as she set the glass vase on the end of the dining table.
"You must mean a lot to someone John," the old landlady had felt the need to assure him, "I have never seen such beautiful flowers in the florists, let alone had two dozen sent to me."
John smiled weakly. "Thank you Mrs. Hudson."
He waited until the older woman had disappeared behind the flat door, her footsteps distant, before he finally approached the bunch of flowers. His fingers traced the outline of a petal as his eyes narrowed thoughtfully. So soft, so delicate – so unlike him, but still roses were his favourite flower. Whoever sent him these knew him, knew him better than anyone out there. He wasn't sure whether to feel flattered or scared.
The yellowy paper caught his eye again and he instantly reached for it. It was the same writing as before, written in fountain pen and this time it was longer:
My identity may be hidden in shadows
But my love for you is strong.
Your eyes, your scars, your jumpers…
All make me think we've been apart too long.
Meet me on Tower Bridge tonight, eight o'clock,
And I shall reveal myself to you…
"Meet him tonight…?" John mumbled to himself as he read and re-read the small note placed among the red flowers, "Should I…?"
He wasn't sure why he asked. He already knew the answer. The curiosity would kill him if he didn't. That was why he now stood, in the cold of the British winter, on the famous bridge that was bright with lights. He let out a low sigh and hugged his jacket closer to himself to conserve heat, turning his gaze to the still, murky waters below.
The military doctor looked up at the sound of his name on such a familiar voice and blinked in surprise, "Sherlock? What are you doing here?"
The infamous consulting detective looked uncharacteristically nervous. "I'm, uh, waiting for someone…"
"Oh." John stated and shifted, feeling awkward, "Well, could you perhaps…wait for someone, somewhere else? I'm meeting someone here…"
"Is this about your 'secret admirer'?" Sherlock asked his hands in his pockets, his green eyes intense.
"Yeah…b-but why do you care anyway?" he asked sharply, "This is the first time you've even shown an interest in the topic…"
"…John…you're smart…" Sherlock gave him a sly smile, challenging his clueless roommate, "Think about it…"
John stared in confusion. What was he talking about? They'd hardly spoken in days and now he decides to take an interest. He didn't get it. Sherlock huffed, shaking his head, and stalked towards the older doctor. John couldn't move, couldn't speak, as he had his head tilted back and gloved hands caressed his cheeks.
"John Watson, for such a brilliant person, you can sure be really stupid." Sherlock gave him a rare but charming smile and did the unexpected:
He kissed him.