I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES
For the first few weeks after his "death", Sherlock spends his time drinking.
He's never experimented with drinking before; always choosing to avoid it because of the way it slows down his mind. Now, he can't get enough of it. He wants to forget the look that was on John's face when he saw the 'body.'
Every night (in disguise, of course) he walks to the pub down the road from Molly's place. Every morning at 3am, he can't be bothered to retain his disguise as he stumbles back to Molly's spare room.
The day he decides to stop drinking is the one month anniversary of his 'death.' Molly's been hounding him about it constantly, having finally dropped the crush to become a friend. "Don't drink yourself to death, Sherlock," she said. "We've tried hard to keep you alive. Don't ruin it."
The one month anniversary of his 'death' is also the first time he walks down Baker Street since that day. The urge to run to number 221B and break down the door is overwhelming. He's just about to turn his back on the place and head for the pub when he notices something in the corner of his eye.
He walks up to the only disused building on Baker Street (It's a rather decrepit old place that once housed a violent murderer – of course no-one wants it) and inspects the bright yellow spray paint that covers the entire front.
I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES!
It's sloppy, unprofessional, and after he rubs it a little, he determines that it's the exact same paint that he used to put a smiley face on the wall of his and John's flat.
It's a marginally happier Sherlock Holmes that leaves Baker Street that night.
Two months later, Sherlock begins to notice changes in the city.
For one, the sloppy and bright yellow 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES' is now almost everywhere in London. It humbles him that John still has so much faith in him, regardless of what he told him that day.
John has even had the gall to spray it on the front of Scotland Yard and still get away with it.
By this time, a second message has started appearing. 'MORIARTY WAS REAL!' is sprayed on the front of various newspaper stands, media offices, and amazingly, on the front of the BBC studios. Every night they clear it away, but by the next morning, it's back again, always in the same bright yellow spray paint.
It's this that prompts the media to dig deeper into the story of Richard Brook. He almost can't believe that no-one's done it before – it really was a rather weak cover story – but then he remembers that people are idiots.
They interview people that were allegedly involved in Richard Brook's productions, they discover that Brook's 'story telling' show never existed, and finally, they determine that Richard Brook was an elaborate ruse. Someone even figures out the connection between Richard Brook and the stolen 'Reichenbach' painting.
More graffiti has started appearing around London, but Sherlock can tell it's no longer just John.
It's far more professional now. Multiple colours, stylised writing and even his and John's silhouettes have been appearing all over London. They're everywhere. In the tube stations, at bus stops, and even on the sides of those big red buses.
He's got his own place by now. He's perma-rented a hotel room using money he filched from Mycroft's bank account. Of course, Mycroft knows it's him the moment the money's gone. The elder Holmes tracks Sherlock down with ease, but Sherlock doesn't care. It's been seven months since he's had contact with anyone from his old life. He doesn't even care that it's Mycroft.
The second Mycroft walks through the door, Sherlock is met with an umbrella to the head.
"What the hell was that for?" He bursts out indignantly.
"You upset Mummy," Mycroft says angrily before his emotions get the better of him. He pulls his little brother into a brief hug.
Mycroft has never been one for exhibiting his feelings, but he can't help himself. He whacks his brother once more for good measure, then they get down to business.
A year on, the 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK!' graffiti is still appearing consistently. On the occasions where he passes John in the street, he can hear the clanking of spray cans in his bag, and can see the yellow stains on his fingers. It takes all of his willpower to stop himself from pulling his friend into a hug and apologising profusely.
The media is calling it the 'Campaign for Belief,' and amazingly, it's spread from graffiti to posters, flyers, shirts and badges. He can barely go anywhere without seeing 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK!' these days.
On one of the days when he (stupidly) leaves his main disguise back at the hotel room, he passes Sally Donovan outside King's Cross. He's surprised to see that she's wearing an 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK!' badge on her jacket. She;s surprisedto see him at all.
"Sherlock?" She says, disbelief colouring her voice.
He keeps walking, speeding up ever so slightly so that when he turns a corner into an alleyway, he's able to duck behind a skip. Sally runs past it, a panicked but hopeful look on her face. She stops at the end of the alleyway, her shoulders slumping in defeat. She turns back the way she came and heads back towards the train station. As she turns the corner, Sherlock hears her mutter two words. "I'm sorry."
Sherlock has to sit behind the skip for another ten minutes before he feels ready to come out.
The next round of graffiti that went up was 'SHERLOCK IS ALIVE!' and 'SHERLOCK IS INNOCENT!'
It went all around London, accompanied by paintings of Sherlock in that bloody hat. Even Banksy had a shot at it.
Not long now.
When Sherlock's self-exile reaches the second year mark, the press treat the anniversary of his 'death' as an opportunity to sell papers. They interview the people that Sherlock helped. People involved in cases that he couldn't possibly have set up. Carl Powers' mother, those kids that had their comics coming to life, even those from 'The Aluminium Crutch' (He found it easier to refer to cases by the silly names John gave them.)
Bit by bit, more people believe that he's innocent. Soon, he can go home.
When Sherlock heard about John getting married, he snuck into the back of the church.
It was risky. Lestrade, Mrs Hudson and so many others were there. He went dressed in his best suit with his hair dyed to a light strawberry-blonde. He'd grown a beard (also dyed) and wore false glasses, just so he could go to John's wedding.
When the ceremony was over, Sherlock made a quick decision. He pulled an 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES!' badge from his pocket along with a pen and some paper. He scribbled a quick message and wrapped the badge up.
Hunching over, he walked up to John and shook his hand, placing the paper and badge in to his hand.
"Congratulations, John!" He said in a voice that was far from his own.
John smiled, but was wary. "Thankyou… who are you?"
Sherlock winked and walked away.
He'd just pushed open the church doors when John's voice rang around the room, silencing everyone inside.
It had been three years, four months and two weeks since Sherlock leapt off of that roof.
John hadn't been counting the days. Of course he hadn't. Because that would have been ridiculous.
Before he met Sherlock, he'd been close to empty. He had no friends, a bad relationship with his only sibling and a leg that didn't work the way it was supposed to, but he'd been mostly content. When Sherlock came into his life, John discovered what he'd been lacking; excitement, and a best friend.
When Sherlock died, John barely held himself together. He visited the grave every week. He'd go out for drinks with Lestrade. He'd watch TV with Mrs. Hudson. He'd work long shifts at the clinic. He seemed be doing fine, but on the inside, he hurt.
Every now and then, he thought he'd pass Sherlock on the street. He thought he'd see that deep blue coat out of the corner of his eye or be walking behind someone with those dark curls, or would catch those icy blue eyes, but whenever he'd look harder, they'd always be gone. He always put it down to his imagination working in overdrive, but he still retained that small modicum of hope.
It's why he started spraying 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK!' all over London. He didn't care about ASBOs or fines. When other people started to take up the tag, his heart leapt. With more people taking up the tag, there was more chance that Sherlock would see it… if he was alive, that is.
When he met Mary, his life flipped around significantly. He was in a large shopping centre about two years after that day. His leg had been acting up again (his therapist was determined that Sherlock hadn't been good for his PTSD recovery. He'd gotten a new therapist the next day), so he needed to take the elevator.
He'd held the door for her and her pram and she thanked him.
He looked at her, liked what he saw and hoped she had a nice personality to match. But, no. She had a kid. There was probably someone else.
He was about to leave the elevator without saying a word when she blurted out, "Would you like to go for coffee?"
They went for coffee.
A year later, they tied the knot. The ceremony was amazing, his stunning soon-to-be wife captured his whole attention, but a part of him kept thinking, I wish he was here too.
After the ceremony, John was cornered by a stranger with red hair and a beard. He was tall, graceful and had marvellous cheekbones, all complemented by icy blue eyes that reminded John far too much of Sherlock. He was about to say something when the stranger shook his hand and said very enthusiastically, "Congratulations, John!"
It even sounded vaguely like him, except Sherlock would never get as excited about something as mundane as a wedding. But just to be sure…
"Thank you… who are you?"
The stranger winked (Sherlock winked at me the first time we met), turned around and headed for the back of the Church.
The man was halfway across the room before John realised that the man had left something in his hand. It was something wrapped in a piece of paper.
He peeled it open and saw the 'I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK!' pin, and his heart leapt into his throat as he read the message.
'I'm sorry, John. Thank you for believing in me. – SH'
The stranger was pushing open the doors when John found his voice and screamed"WAIT!"
The Church went silent as John dropped his cane and sprinted to the back of the Church. The stranger had frozen and he had started shaking a little.
John reached the man and sized him up. Definitely Sherlock's height and posture. Yes, that appears to be that ruddy purple shirt beneath that jacket. Is it him…?
John placed a hand on his shoulder and spun the man around, peering into his face.
God, those are definitely his eyes and cheekbones. He pictured the hair dark and the beard gone. It's him. Oh my god, it's him.
The man offered a weak smile before John punched him in the face. The wedding-goers let out a collective gasp, and Lestrade actually ran up to try and stop John from punching him again.
"I deserved that," the man said, stopping Lestrade in his tracks.
"You bastard," John hissed. "I thought you were dead."
Sherlock had to bite back a smart-ass 'Well, obviously I'm not,' instead saying "I'm sorry." He smiled at John. "You can hit me again if it'll make you feel any better."
John fought that urge and instead said, "Sod that," while pulling Sherlock into a hug. "Don't you dare do that again."
Never, Sherlock thought as he wrapped his arms around his friend. Never again.
A/N : Yes, yes, hello, I'm not dead. It feels nice publishing a fanfic for the first time in years. What do you think?
This work was inspired by the fascinating 'I believe in Sherlock Holmes!' and 'Brook is innocent!' campaign on Tumblr. It's always so interesting to see how invested people get into this show.
Super mega special thanks to brotatoes . tumblr . com for beta-ing my work. She's lovely.
I have Tumblr and Twitter if any of you would like to follow me there. I'm wolfchasing at both of those places.