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It was a rather cool night, so the fireplace was lit and the sound of the wood cracking was slightly peaceful. Nothing in 221B had changed. Well, no, that's a lie; a lot of things had changed. It was . . . more quiet, less – what's the word? . . . ah, yes – it was less home-like. John Watson sat in his chair next to the fireplace, staring into the small flickering flames. It had been four months since he'd watched his best friend – Sherlock Holmes – jump off of the rooftop of Bart's Hospital. His life had changed completely after Sherlock's death.
The first two months were the worst. John would rarely leave 221B, but when he did leave he'd only go to the grave-yard and sit in front of that dead black marble headstone that had 'Sherlock Holmes' carved into it. Around the third month he would leave the flat and shop for groceries. This relieved Mrs. Hudson. She'd been worried that John would sit in the flat, all alone, not feeding himself for a long time. So for the first two months she'd been taking care of his rent and getting food to him. Around the end of the third month John started working at the hospital. He only worked there three days a week, though; it was still painful to look at the hospital. He gave Mrs. Hudson all of the money he had earned for the first two weeks of work, but she gave back half of it, saying "It's okay, just pay your normal rent. I'll take care of the other half."
Today, though, John seemed to have reverted back to the sad, hopeless man he became the day that Sherlock had jumped. It was nearly Summer, May – to be precise, and today was the exactly 4th month without his best friend. So as he was sat in his chair by the fireplace he thought of all his memories with Sherlock. He could see Sherlock laughing, Sherlock smiling, and Sherlock sitting silently in his chair, fingers pressed together at his chin, which indicated that he was in deep thought and didn't want to be disturbed. John could feel his eyes welling up with tears, but when he heard the door open he cleared his throat, blinked a few times, then turned to see Mrs. Hudson bringing in a tray with the tea kettle on it.
Mrs. Hudson looked over at John, then sighed slightly. "Good evening, John," she said slowly. She expected him not to answer, but he did.
"Evening," John muttered, turning back around in his chair. Mrs. Hudson put the kettle on, boiled the water, and made some tea. She poured some into a mug for John and sat it on the end table next to his chair.
"Thank you," John said quietly, but didn't touch the mug.
Mrs. Hudson stood there for a moment, then said "Do you want me to stay?"
John turned to face her again, then tried to put on a smile. "Actually, I think I'd like to be alone tonight."
"I understand," Mrs. Hudson said, touching his shoulder in sympathy, then walking from the room.
John looked back at the fireplace, which now had glowing coals instead of flickering flames. The room was growing quite dark, so he got up from his chair and turned on the lamp. With the light from the lamp lighting up the room, John could see all of the dust on certain things. His things were dusted, thanks to Mrs. Hudson, but John insisted that anything of Sherlock's mustn't be touched. The violin was propped upwards against Sherlock's chair, exactly where he'd left it, just gathering dust each day. He stared at the violin, remembering the music Sherlock would play on it.
John could see the street lamps turning on outside on Baker Street, lighting the sidewalks. He walked to the window and pulled back the curtain, looking down at the sidewalk. Something caught his eye at the corner, but he blinked and it was gone. He spotted a young couple across the street at the door of another flat. They had smiles on their faces as they walked inside and shut the door. John wished he could be smiling like that, but nothing made him happy now.
Just as he was about to walk away from the window John saw a black car pull up in front of 221B. No one got out, but John knew exactly who would send a car out at night to park in front of his flat. He grabbed his jacket and went downstairs. The cool night air brushed across his face, making him shiver slightly. He pulled on his jacket, opened the car door, and got into the back seat.
Everything was silent as the car moved along the road. John sat silently, not even trying to look out the windows at where he was going. The back windows of the car were tinted so that nothing inside could be seen from the outside, and vice versa. Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes had passed and the car stopped. John's door was opened for him and he stepped out. The driver of the car got back in and drove off until John couldn't see the car anymore. He looked around at his surroundings and saw a small building with one room lit.
John knocked on the door of the building and it was opened. A young woman, one he'd never seen before, stood at the door. She looked at him, then asked "Dr. John Watson?" John nodded in response. The girl opened the door the rest of the way and let him in. John walked in and turned to the woman. "Just tell me where to go," he said slowly.
"Turn left down the hall, two doors to your right," the woman said, nodding towards the nearest hall.
John nodded to her then followed the directions she had given him. He opened the door to the room. It was dimly lit by a light on the wall and the smell of alcohol was in the air. There was a chair turned away from him in the center of the room. A small end-table sat next to it, holding a glass of what John assumed was scotch. A hand reached from the chair and grabbed the drink.
"I thought you wouldn't leave your flat," the man in the chair said. "Seeing as it's been four months today since –" he didn't finish, but instead motioned his hand to the seat across from him. "Have a seat, John."
John walked across the room and sat in the chair opposite the man. They stared at each other for a moment, then John said "What do you want, Mycroft?"
Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother, was a very powerful man. John really didn't know what to think of him. Mycroft looked upset, but was able to say what he wanted. "I've seen you up and about lately," he said slowly, sipping from his glass. "Are you doing okay? I trust Mrs. Hudson has been looking after you."
"Mycroft," John was getting impatient. "Just get to the point."
Mycroft inhaled deeply, then nodded. "Right," he said. "I've brought you here to ask for your help."
"What for?" John asked. "And why me?"
"Just listen," Mycroft said impatiently. "You don't need to help. I've got men who can do this, but I'd like it if you could do it instead."
"All right," John muttered. "What do you need?"
Mycroft sat his glass down and put his hands together. "I need you to go to Inspector Greg Lestrade and report three murders. No one knows about them yet, and you need to be the first to tell Lestrade about them."
"Whoa, hang on," John said, putting his hand up. "This isn't going to get me in trouble or thrown in jail, is it?"
"No," Mycroft answered. "Tell him exactly this: you've seen three men murdered and the murderer got away."
"Ah, I know what's going on here," John muttered. "You, or your people saw three murders, but lost the killer. Mycroft, how can you lose someone? You can basically find anyone, no matter where they are."
"Not this time," Mycroft actually sounded helpless, which was quite a rare thing.
John thought for a moment, then looked at a clock on the wall. It was nearly one in the morning. "Right," he said, raising his eyebrows. "I'll do it, but after I've gotten some sleep. I'll call Lestrade first thing in the morning."
Mycroft nodded and stood, as did John. "Thank you," Mycroft said, holding his hand out to John.
"Yeah," John frowned slightly. "Not going to shake your hand."
Mycroft just nodded again, then the woman from earlier opened the door.
"There's a car waiting for you, Dr. Watson," she said. John nodded to her, then walked out of the room.
The car ride back to Baker Street seemed short. He climbed out of the car and onto the sidewalk, then watched the car drive off like before. John walked into 221B and up the stairs to his flat. He walked in, threw his jacket onto his chair and flopped down on the couch. For the first time that day the sadness about Sherlock changed to worry about a crazy murderer that even Mycroft couldn't track down. Tomorrow was going to be a strange day.