This is my own attempt at an Empty House update, with a view to giving my own ideas about what and why and how relating all the lovely cliffhangers from Reichenbach. As such, this story will contain spoilers for that episode! Read on at your own risk!
I'm publishing it complete, and now I can go and read everyone else's theory!
The characters are not mine, and I haven't made any money from the publication of this fanfic.
Enjoy, and please review.
John strolled through the cemetery, wishing good afternoon to the groundskeeper as he always did. He glanced towards his destination, and noted that there was a new grave being dug two plot's down from Sherlock. He felt a moment of heavy depression; sad that someone else had lost someone else, and annoyed that the ground just meters away from Sherlock was being disturbed.
There was something else he noticed too. Mycroft was there, staring at Sherlock's grave.
He sighed, annoyed, and veered towards a bench where he sat down to wait his turn. He leant his cane against his leg.
After a moment Mycroft turned and looked towards him. John gave him a quick, polite nod of the head, and looked away. Mycroft was not deterred, and he walked straight towards John, and sat down with him.
"Good afternoon, John,"
"I didn't expect to see you here at this time."
"Yes you did."
"Yes. I did." Mycroft sighed.
"Thursday at three is my time, Mycroft. Everyone knows that."
"Even the fan-club doesn't come here on a Thursday afternoon."
"Oh, the blasted fan club."
"Thursday at three is my time."
"Yes. I apologise."
John watched the JCB scoop another huge sod of earth from the ground, and deposit a short distance away.
"I wanted to talk to you," Mycroft said.
"Yes. I know. I knew the phone calls, the texts, and the annoying black car that keeps following me around the streets."
"You don't get into my car. You don't answer my calls or my texts."
John's hand shook, and he clenched it for a moment.
"And what does that tell you, Mycroft?"
"John, I need to talk to you."
"Tough." He got up, and picked up his cane.
"I have a letter for you, John," Mycroft held a small, white envelope out to him.
"I'm not interested," John said. He started towards the grave.
"He left it with me to pass on to you."
John stopped for a second, and stared at the ground. He turned around, snatched the letter from Mycroft, stuffed it into his pocket, and marched off towards Sherlock's grave.
He stood quietly while the JCB finished its work. When all was quiet, he glanced around and then nodded to the stone.
"Afternoon," he said. "I just had a thought." He sighed and smiled. "I know, I know, did it hurt, I thought heard the rusty cogwheels turning and all that, but I can assure you it does happen sometimes. I was wondering whether you think that my sole interest you is because of that thing that you do, and the fact that I find it entertaining. I mean, you do know everything, obviously, but just in case you don't know this; it isn't just that you're clever. I like the clever, but it isn't just that. I imagine that's why I didn't just rush off and idolise Mycroft when you… you know. So just in case you were wondering whether you were nothing but brain, you weren't." John stopped and sighed for a moment. "I'm still not happy with him, you know. I'm still on your side. I know he's lost his brother, but I'm just not able to care about that yet. I'm still trying to work out how to get itching powder into his pants and to put linseed oil into his tea but that plan's going slowly. I think I need someone clever. Right, I'm going to strip you again, to get you nice and ready for the next lot, so feel free not to blush."
John bent one knee stiffly and he started picking up the notes and cards that had been left on the gravestone. There were two new posters from the 'we believe' campaign. John smiled and straightened them. He left them where they were. There wasn't much else today, but the weather had been bad this week. There was a small teddy, which he put it into his pocket, and there was a pot of daisies that looked fresh enough to stay another week. He put them more firmly into the grass in front of the grave, so that they wouldn't blow over if the wind picked up.
He groaned quietly as he got upright again and he stretched for a moment, and then he headed off.
John read the grave notes as he travelled home. One girl wrote a letter to Sherlock every week. He fretted about her, but had made a conscious choice not to contact her or to write back. He didn't contact the people who left puzzles or clues for Sherlock to solve. He had spoken to someone from the fan-club just once, to politely request that he was given some slight privacy once a week. They'd settled on Thursday afternoons and the fan-club had made it absolutely clear that the cemetery was out of bounds between two and six. So far, John hadn't needed to contact them again over it, and he was astoundingly grateful.
There were other cards expressing the usual sympathies and sadness, and the same protests that people knew that he was innocent, and were unwavering in their belief as to his powers. Two of them had added 'just like John'. He sighed and put them in his pocket. Even the ones he didn't like would be added to the box. He wondered how long people would keep on visiting the grave and leaving notes and flowers.
He wondered how long he would.
He found the letter that Mycroft had given him too. He thought about reading it for a moment, but the thought made him take a long, shuddering breath, so he put it back in his pocket again, unopened.
He wondered whether it was maybe time to shake himself out of it, and perhaps forgive Mycroft. He hardened at the thought. Perhaps he could forgive Lestrade though. He thought about perhaps responding to his next text.
Mrs Hudson started of as blooming and false cheerful as she always did. She'd made a cake, and John sat down with his cup of tea, and they chatted about the weather, and passed gossip about the people in the Speedy's. There came a time though, when she broke off, and stared out of the window for a while. Usually she'd snap out of it and blink it off, and she'd be back to smiling and charming again. Today she didn't though.
Today she hesitated, and then looked at him.
"John, I was wondering, could I ask your opinion about something?"
"Yes, I would think so."
"Good, thank you. Well, look, I received a letter the other day. Here. It's from the fan-club."
John frowned and took it.
"They want me to set up a blog about Sherlock," Mrs Hudson said. "You know, now you're not writing yours."
John swallowed and nodded. He read the letter. It was politely worded and very respectful, so he was surprised to find his heart racing and his anger building up. He bit his lip for a moment before giving Mrs Hudson a short smile.
"Well, do you want to? Is it something you want to write? I mean, they say here they'll give you technical support and that."
He clenched his fist again. Support for the computer that Sherlock had given her. Pushing themselves into her life, in his place.
"Well, I don't know. I have got some funny stories and that. I had a go at writing one down, just to see."
She picked up a foolscap pad with neat, spidery writing on it, and held it out to him. He took it, but he didn't read it.
He calmed down again.
"Did it help you?" he asked. "Did writing it down help?"
"I don't know. Maybe a little bit. He was a funny man, wasn't he!"
"Yes he was." John tried to keep control of his voice. "And how would you feel about sharing these funny stories with the wider world?"
"That's the thing, isn't it? I mean, I feel a bit sorry for the fan-club now they haven't even got you…" John flinched, but Mrs Hudson didn't notice it. "But at the same time, I'm not sure I particularly want to share him just yet. Maybe later, but not yet."
John nodded and calmed down.
"Well, you could always write them down and just keep them. Or you could email them to me. Maybe it's time for me to start..."
"Accepting that he's gone." He swallowed and smiled. "Sorry, Mrs Hudson. I'd better get on upstairs. Thank you for the tea and the cake."
"Yes, OK then John. I'll write to the fan-club and say not yet, I think."
"Yes. They've been very reasonable so far. It might be worth reminding them that Sherlock didn't seek fame, and that he was quite a private person."
He thought of his own role in Sherlock's fame.
"Good idea. Thanks, love."
John stood up and massaged his perfectly healthy thigh, picked up his cane and headed upstairs. His slow, uneven footsteps on the familiar creaky steps didn't sound remotely familiar. He stopped outside the flat door for a moment, and put his hand on the door handle.
He closed his eyes.
"Please, God, please, please, please," he whispered.
He opened his eyes, and he opened the door, holding his breath.
The room was devoid of anything detective-shaped, and John sighed.
Mrs Hudson had given up on the packing several weeks before, and there were half filled boxes lying around.
Technically all of it belonged to him now. Sherlock's will had been read, and he'd been the sole beneficiary. Mycroft hadn't even attended the reading. John had had it somewhere in his mind to select something to send to him, or perhaps to invite him to come and choose something, but he hadn't managed to get through the anger as yet.
He went to the box on the desk, and he added this week's notes and the teddy bear to it. It was surprisingly full. He gazed around, and looked in the mirror for a moment, and he became depressed looking at the old, pale reflection looking back at him. He noticed Sherlock's violin on the coffee table too, and on a whim, he picked it up and tucked it under his chin. The smell of the polish and the resin were a pleasing memory, and he walked over to the window for a moment. He smiled, then turned and put the violin down on the table, and thought about opening the letter in his pocket. The smiley face and the sofa made his breath catch unexpectedly, and Mrs Hudson suddenly called from downstairs. He leaned to see if he could see her.
A bullet whizzed past his right ear, breaking the window and he fell to the floor.