Title: The Truth is Out There
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Word Count: 3600
Pairing: Maybe Sherlock/John if you squint
Warnings: Mentions of slight depression
Spoilers: For Reichenbach
Summary: A sort of sequel/add-on to a story where Lestrade sees security camera footage from the rooftop at Bart's. In this one, he shows it to John.
Prompt: This was written as a sequel/add-on to Ashnight_1214's story, Not Much, No, which can be found on her Live Journal page, in which Mycroft gives Lestrade surveillance footage from the roof of Bart's. It shows everything that happened. I liked her story, but I found myself wondering, how would John deal if he saw what really happened. I started out to write that, but I just couldn't leave it sad, so, here is where it went.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)
Author's Notes: Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for making this Sherlock and John so amazing. I tried to fight it, but they were just too remarkable not to fall for. Thank you to Ashnight_1214 for inspiring this and for letting me tack onto her story. Big thank yous to Gemma for the super fast beta job. I owe you! Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me and her wonderful encouragement. And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
The Truth is Out There
John is sitting at the desk, staring at his laptop. He's only been back at Baker Street for just over a week and he finds that he's still adjusting to the haunted feeling the place now has. Not that he thinks Sherlock's ghost is plaguing him, rather every inch of this flat holds a wealth of memories and John has trouble keeping them from overwhelming him. But he can't hide forever and 221B is his home. He tried taking a flat across town, but the wrongness of it bothered him until he talked his way out of the lease.
He tries to do the normal every day things, fighting to get his life back, but even something as mundane as checking his e-mail brings on the tightness in his chest, causing him to blink back tears. He can almost hear Sherlock's voice.
Tell me we have some interesting cases, John.
John swallows hard, running his hands through his hair. How is he ever going to survive this? His thoughts are pulled back by a knock at the door. John takes a deep breath and wipes his eyes with the heels of his hands. Shaking his head, he crosses the room and opens the door. He's mildly surprised to see Greg standing there.
"Can I come in?" Greg asks quietly.
John nods, stepping back in silent invitation. He's not sure what to say to the man. Part of him is still angry that Greg betrayed Sherlock, though he knows he was only doing his job. They haven't really spoken much since Sherlock died. Greg's invited him out for drinks, but John can't bring himself to accept. Now, Greg sits on the sofa, looking down at the DVD case in his hands.
"How have you been holding up?"
"As well as can be expected." John's voice is clipped and he feels a bit bad for being so curt, but he just can't help himself. He's so tired of that question. "Is there a reason you stopped by?"
"Actually, there is." Greg looks up at him and John sees guilt and sadness in his eyes. Greg holds up the DVD. "I've come to show you this."
"What is it?"
"It's…it's surveillance footage. From the rooftop at Bart's."
It takes a second for that to sink in, but when it does, John loses his breath. His eyes go wide and he feels like he might faint. He swallows hard, taking a deep, painful gulp of air.
"From…you mean…that day…it's…him?"
"Them," Greg corrects. "Sherlock and Moriarty. All of it."
"Moriarty was there? He…was that why…" John bites his lower lip, fighting to keep his breathing even.
John reaches out for the DVD, but Greg shakes his head.
"I'm not leaving you alone with this. At least not the first time through. It isn't easy to watch and…well, I'm going to sit with you."
John nods, desperate to see what happened, needing to know what drove his friend to end his life. Greg sets it up and brings it to the proper place. At first there isn't much, just Moriarty sitting on the ledge of the roof, but then Sherlock walks up and John can't take his eyes off of him. John knows there's something morbid in feeling such a thrill at watching footage of his dead friend, but he doesn't really care. Sherlock is there and alive and he can hear his voice again. When Moriarty admits to making up Richard Brook, John practically jumps out of his chair. He points at Greg.
"See? We told you, but no one believed us!"
"I know," Greg says quietly. John shakes his head.
"It's all true, everything Sherlock told you, and here's the proof."
John presses his lips together and goes back to watching. When Moriarty tells Sherlock to jump, John shakes his head. All he can think is how crazy Moriarty is until the moment he suddenly understands what he's seeing.
"Okay, let me give you a little extra incentive." Moriarty's voice is positively vicious. "Your friends will die if you don't."
John sees a look cross Sherlock's face, something he's never seen there before. In anyone else, John would call it fear. Sherlock swallows.
"John." The whispered, reverent way Sherlock says his name catches at John's heart.
"Not just John. Everyone. Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade. Three bullets; three gunmen; three victims. There's no stopping them now.Unless my people see you jump."
"My god," John says, looking at Greg. "He…for us…"
Greg nods wordlessly. On the screen, Moriarty is still talking.
"You can have me arrested; you can torture me; you can do anything you like with me; but nothing's gonna prevent them from pulling the trigger. Your only three friends in the world will die ... unless ..."
"Unless I kill myself and complete your story." Sherlock says, just above a whisper.
Suddenly Sherlock's desperation to keep John off the roof makes sense, though it really doesn't make John feel any better. John about jumps out of his skin when Moriarty shoots himself, flinching, his eyes going wide as he understands exactly what it means for Sherlock.
"Christ," John gasps. "He…he might as well have pushed him."
When the tape gets to the part where Sherlock calls John, suddenly John can't take anymore. He knows how it ends and every word of this conversation is burned in his brain.
"Turn it off," John whispers. When he can still hear Sherlock's voice, he looks at Greg. "Turn it off!"
The room goes suddenly silent and John lets out a long slow breath.
"I'm sorry," Greg says. "I just thought you should see…"
"I don't have to see," John says, putting his hand over his eyes. "I was there, remember?"
John looks up to see Greg watching him, his eyes full of sympathy.
"Tell me the right people have seen this," John says, fighting tears.
"I'm doing my best to make sure everyone sees it," Greg says quietly. "I'm actually considering putting it on Youtube."
John shakes his head, fighting a chuckle.
"Sherlock would have hated that. He never let me put any videos of him up and he took down the ones I managed to sneak on there." He presses his lips together, fighting the memories. He swallows hard and when he speaks, his voice doesn't sound like his own. "I'd like a copy,"
"I'm pretty sure Mycroft would say no to that, but I'll see what I can do," Greg says, snapping the case closed. He pauses when he gets to the door. "I am sorry, John. I can't tell you how much."
John's not sure how long he sits, staring at the blank television screen, his thoughts running circles, but when he gets up from his chair, he's surprised that he actually feels better.
Knowing why Sherlock jumped is both a blessing and a curse. All those dark, insidious questions that run around John's head, taunting him, making him wonder what he missed are gone. He knows he wasn't mistaken in trusting Sherlock and he knows that he didn't let his friend down in not seeing some hidden depression. But he finds himself questioning Sherlock's decision. Is John's life really worth losing Sherlock? John is a simple doctor, a mere flunky for the real hero, the man who stopped murderers and saved children. The understanding that his best friend gave his life for John brings with it a guilt and a feeling that John is now going to have to do something amazing to make it up to Sherlock. He understands that Sherlock saved Mrs. Hudson and Greg as well, but the world has lost something wonderful and John can't seem to make the cost come out even in his head.
Two days after John watches the footage, a large manila envelope arrives at Baker Street and he finds a copy of the DVD inside. John knows he shouldn't, but he can't help himself and he watches it three times before going to bed. That night he dreams that Sherlock told him the truth and that they came up with a plan together. They defeated Moriarty's men and the last thing John remembers is Sherlock smiling at him.
"I knew I could trust you, John."
When John wakes up, he feels a stab of disappointment and he knows that the dream has just made things worse.
Over the next two weeks, the dreams come every night. In them he finds ways to save Sherlock, sometimes pulling off a daring, last minute rescue that has Sherlock thanking John. When he's sitting alone at night, he constructs more realistic scenarios in which he could have done something to change how it all ended. He worries that maybe he's getting worse, descending deeper into depression, but something tells him this is just his way of coping with the new information and the guilt it brings.
Three months from the day Sherlock died, John attends a ceremony at Bart's where a plaque is put up to honor Sherlock and his brave sacrifice. Scotland Yard officially apologizes to John and to Mycroft and the papers run stories on the amazing Sherlock Holmes. For John, it feels like too little too late and even knowing that Kitty Riley lost her job doesn't make him feel better. But at least the world knows that Sherlock wasn't a fraud and that does give John some small comfort. The dreams are all but gone now, and while John is relieved that he's not gone psychotic, he misses the intensity of that connection with his friend.
Six months after Sherlock's death, John gets another DVD with the post. This one is unmarked. There isn't any postage and there's no return address, which makes John pretty sure Mycroft dropped it off. He sighs, settling in his chair, pressing 'play'. It's more surveillance footage. It takes John a minute and a glance out the sitting room window, but he matches it to the building across from 221. John gets up and walks over, looking at the structure, eerily lit from the street below.
On the television, he sees a man slink from the shadows. He pulls out binoculars and looks across the way, then brings out a rifle and sets it up, adjusting the field-sight on it. John pulls back from the window. He knows it's not happening in real time, but he can't help it. Is this a warning? The man lines up the scope and settles behind his gun. John is so focused on the weapon that at first, he misses the dark figure walking up behind the assassin. It catches his attention when the figure pulls out a handgun and steps from the shadows, his face visible in the security lighting. John's heart stops and he swallows hard; this can't be real. Sherlock puts the pistol to the gunman's head.
"Take your finger from the trigger." Sherlock's voice is low and John scrambles forward to turn up the volume. The hit man spares Sherlock a glance, but goes back to his gun. Sherlock takes a couple of steps back, readjusting his grip on the pistol. "Oh, you could fire, but I think I've thrown your aim off sufficiently for you to miss and that would give you away. And of course, I'll kill you before you can shoot again. Now, step away from the gun."
"I'm not sure what you hope to accomplish, Mr. Holmes," the man says, putting his hands up and taking a few steps towards Sherlock. "Are you really naive enough to think the organization died with Moriarty? We still exist and we will carry on in his name."
"Are you too stupid to communicate with each other or is it just arrogance? Your people don't move in secret and there aren't as many of them left as you think."
"The police will never find us, Mr. Holmes. Especially when they aren't looking."
"It's not the police you have to worry about, Colonel. I've not been idle in my afterlife. Most of your men are in prison or dead."
"I don't need them and I'm not just another common criminal," the gunman says, smiling enigmatically.
"I know who you are," Sherlock says, his expression going dark. "The irony wasn't lost on me. Moriarty's second in command that he commissioned to take out mine? Very dramatic and overdone, just like Jim. I also know that now you are attempting to pick up where he left off and that killing John is a message to all your followers. You must know I cannot let you continue."
"Are you going to arrest me, Mr. Holmes?" The man's voice is impassive and John can see that he's not really concerned with the answer.
"We both know that would be a waste of my time, wouldn't it? Especially now that you know I'm still alive. You'd either get out of prison as Moriarty did or you'd orchestrate things from there. Either way, John's life is forfeit and I died for nothing." Sherlock tips his head, looking at the man and his hand tightens around the handgun. "No, as much as I'd rather it not go this way, I'll do what I must to keep the people I love safe."
"Really, Mr. Holmes, sentiment? I was told you didn't have any."
"I've picked up a few things in the last couple of years."
"I'm sorry, but I don't believe you'll do it." The man's tone is mocking and he turns back to the rifle, adjusting the sighting scope.
Sherlock sighs, shaking his head, then he steps forward. There is a loud noise with a muted flash and the gunman collapses. The picture fades and John stands there shaking, breath heavy in his throat. Suddenly, the blank screen changes and Sherlock is there, talking directly to the camera. John can see it's not the security camera, the quality is too good, so this must have been added on afterwards.
"I'm sorry, John. I know you must be angry and hurt. I had no choice, but it's finally over. Moran was the last and you're safe now. I'm not sure if you'll ever want to see me again, but I'm standing outside of 221. If you don't, I'll understand and I'll go away, but…"
John doesn't wait for the rest. He's out the door, not even stopping for his coat. He steps outside and looks around. A tall man is leaning on the iron fence a few feet away. He turns and looks at John, his eyes wide and his lips pressed together. John doesn't even think about it. Suddenly he's hurling himself at Sherlock, who catches him with a startled gasp. John throws his arms around Sherlock, hugging him tightly.
"You're alive," John whispers, his voice catching.
Sherlock stands for a second, holding himself stiffly, then his arms come up, returning the hug.
"No," John cuts across Sherlock's apology. He lets go of Sherlock and steps back, looking at his friend. "There's no need for that. I'm just glad you're home."
"Am I, John?" Sherlock's voice is quiet and his eyes are studying John's face.
"Of course you are. I even talked Mrs. Hudson out of getting rid of your things, so your room is just the way you left it, though you may want to give it a dusting. I didn't even mess up your sock index." He smiles at Sherlock. "Come upstairs. We'll order Chinese."
Sherlock follows John, but he keeps watching him like he's waiting for an explosion. He's obviously expecting John to be upset and maybe some part of him is, but watching the first DVD helped John come to grips with the truth. Any anger and disappointment John had was spent months ago and the second DVD took the edge off the shock, so all John is left with is a profound gratitude that Sherlock is safe and back in his life.
Sherlock stands in the sitting room, looking around and John understands that he's cataloging the changes, however small. He looks over at John, his brow furrowing.
"Aren't you upset with me? You have every right to be."
"I was angry, but I think I'm over that. Although, after I've gotten used to the fact that you're not going to just disappear, I might be pissed off that you left me out of the loop."
"I had to for your own safety, John. I had no choice." Sherlock's stance becomes defensive and John realizes this is the battle he expected. John moves to head it off.
"I know," John says, smiling at him. "Which is why I hugged you, rather than punching you in the face. But don't think this gets you out of explaining everything."
"Everything?" John sees Sherlock's shoulders relax and he starts unbuttoning his coat. "That could take weeks, John."
"Did you have anything else planned?" John asks, pulling out the menu for their favorite restaurant.
"I suppose not," Sherlock replies, hanging his coat on the back of the door.
"Good. You can tell me while we unpack all your science equipment."
Sherlock nods at him and sits on the couch. He watches John call in the food order and then Sherlock frowns.
"Aren't you even going to ask why?"
"Why what?" John asks, honestly confused.
"Why I jumped."
John motions for Sherlock to follow him and they walk downstairs to wait in the hall for the food.
"I know why you jumped," John says when they are standing, leaning against the wall. He tips his head and looks at Sherlock. "But you must know that. The news of your vindication was everywhere."
"I did see something about that, but I was in Kazakhstan for five weeks and I missed a few things."
"Why were you in Kazakhstan?"
"It's part of the long story, but that's where I had to go to find the man Moriarty chose to kill Mrs. Hudson." Sherlock says it with a flourish and he pauses, like he expects John to be shocked.
"Did you have to go that far to find Greg's assassin?"
Sherlock looks a bit crestfallen.
"How do you know all this?"
"I saw the video footage," John says simply.
"The video footage?" Sherlock's eyes go wide, then narrow, his face pulling into a grimace. "Mycroft."
"You really are out of the loop. He's the one who showed it to me. After he showed the whole of the Yard."
"He thought they should know that you weren't a fraud. I understand even Sally teared up a bit."
"Is that how it got everywhere?"
"I told him you'd be upset if he put it on Youtube, but I don't think he listened." John turns and looking at Sherlock, smiling, unable to contain his happiness anymore. "You came back."
"Of course I did, John." Sherlock looks at him and his eyes are overly bright. When he speaks, his voice is just above a whisper. "You asked me to and it seems that I can't deny you anything. You're my best friend. It was only fair to grant your request."
John doesn't know what to say to that. After a minute he frowns.
"Wait, you were at the graveyard?"
"I had to make sure you were going to be okay," Sherlock says quietly.
Now John is angry. There's something about knowing that Sherlock saw him broken and weak and just let him suffer that hurts. He glares at Sherlock.
"Who was going to hurt me in a cemetery?"
"You." The word is whispered, but Sherlock might as well have shouted it as it settles in the silence between them. John reaches up, rubbing his forehead.
"You thought I might…" He can't even finish the sentence.
"It's not unprecedented," Sherlock says quietly. "I know you considered it before you moved to Baker Street and I just couldn't…John, if I'd have lost you to something that stupid…"
Sherlock presses his lips together and looks away. Something about this honest emotion robs John of his anger.
"So you kept an eye on me?" John's voice is gentle and Sherlock looks at him, nodding.
"As best as I could. When I was out of London, I had Molly checking on you."
"Molly knew?" John is surprised.
"She helped me pull off my death. I owe her quite a bit. Without her assistance, I'd have either had to really die or I would have lost you."
"You know, that's the first thing you're explaining tomorrow," John says. "I want to know how you survived jumping from a building."
"It wasn't easy," Sherlock says, shaking his head. And suddenly John is struck by just how Sherlock that sounds and he can't keep from laughing. Sherlock looks at him suspiciously. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing. I'm just glad you're home. I missed you."
"I missed you too, John. Everywhere I went I'd turn to tell you something and it was…uncomfortable when you weren't there."
"Next time, you'll take me with you," John says, decisively.
"Next time?" Sherlock arches an eyebrow. "Haven't I died enough for one lifetime?"
"Well, maybe we'd better skip that part."
They look at each other for a second and then they are laughing. The sense of familiarity that this brings should be disorienting, but it's not. John's heart lightens and he feels like himself for the first time in over six months. They lean against the wall, both gasping for air, and John reaches over, taking Sherlock's hand. Sherlock squeezes John's fingers and in that moment, John understands that everything is going to be okay.