Disclaimer: This story is based on the characters written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes series of books and of course the BBC television Series Sherlock. I in no way claim to own these characters.
Walking briskly through the garden to the shed situated in the back, Mycroft didn't miss a step when he was met outside the door by Sherlock, fully kitted in his coveralls with Bee Veil attached. For some weeks now he had been cultivating his bees to stave off the boredom of being tethered and hidden away in the family, now Mycroft's, home.
"Brother." Sherlock said abruptly behind his mask.
"She's asking to see you." Mycroft responded by way of greeting.
"Is she?" Sherlock turned away from Mycroft as he entered his home away from the manor. Mycroft had made certain the shed was fitted out with the best small sized appliances, furniture, and bed & bath. Sherlock demanded privacy even when he was the one in desperate need of a secret place to stay.
"Will you see her again?" Mycroft asked.
Mycroft's face remained placid even when he said with some slight urgency, "I think if you wait too much longer, it will be too late altogether."
Sherlock removed his outfit a bit angrily and sat in his chair with his face set as hard as stone.
"Are you upset about something Sherlock?"
"I should have never gone to her room."
"Ah, well, now on that we are in agreement." Mycroft's voice was quiet but Sherlock could still hear the faint traces of anger in it as if it were a month ago when Mycroft came storming into the shed spitting fire that Sherlock could have been discovered. He railed at his brother for risking such public exposure as to have gone to Mary's hospital room, albeit disguised, and staying long enough for her to realize his true identity. This wasn't just a matter of his big brother secreting him away in the back garden, as Mycroft screamed; there were low men and very high ups that were secretly assisting in this very necessary endeavor. Sherlock knew he had to stay away from John, Mary, Mrs. Hudson, indeed everyone from his past. He had to stay away, to keep them all safe, and more importantly to Mycroft, to keep himself alive as well.
Speaking out loud as he calmed his agitation, Sherlock remembered how Mary recognized him.
"I'd never met her, but because John spoke, speaks of me often, she realized who I was." I'm sorry Mycroft."
"So you said at the time, and I've said that I forgive you. Now, that she does know you however, and despite my initial hesitation, I think you should go and see her one last time."
Sherlock knew Mycroft wanted him to say yes, and a small part of him wanted to agree to go as well, but the closer Mary gets to death, the more painful it is for Sherlock, because from his one visit with her, he could tell what it was that made John fall in love with her, and he couldn't see her knowing that once again John would be all alone. He never thought he would grow to appreciate John's wife, but he had.
"I don't think it's a good idea. I think from our last conversation that Mary will try and get me to visit with John. She knows how much he has missed me, and now I know how much he will miss her. If I see her, I don't think I will be able to refuse her wish."
"I understand, but even I can have some sympathy. I know you wanted me to see her, to put some fear in her. To get some agreement that she would never reveal that she had met with you, but as I sat there while she was struggling to breathe, Mycroft said as he looked at his little brother, I wanted to do her bidding, not yours. So, here I am, going against my better judgment and passing along her message to you."
"It's not safe Mycroft."
"I am asking you to disguise yourself, and offer your hand to her in comfort Sherlock. I will have my best agents covering your back. It's not wise, but you will be safe."
"I've stayed away for 2 years now Mycroft. John's moved on without me. He's gotten married and he would be having children if Mary hadn't gotten cancer. Haven't I suffered enough?"
"Don't be crass Sherlock, you're not suffering. Mary and John are suffering. You're living. You're hurting, I can give you that, but you are most certainly not suffering."
Sherlock got up from his chair and stormed to his make-shift lab, or to anyone else's eyes, his kitchen. He had to get out of the room before Mycroft could see the tears slowly making their way down his face. He excused himself further to go to the bath to clean his face and blow his nose.
Mycroft had seen and he hated himself for speaking so sharply. Of course, Sherlock was suffering in his own way, he knew that and he wished that he could do something to end it, perhaps this visit would be cathartic for his brother and would help him knowing how happy Mary had made his dear friend for these tragic few years.
"I wouldn't be encouraging you to go and see her Sherlock, if I didn't think she was near to dying. Mycroft said this loudly so that Sherlock could hear him above the running water. She's asked about you. She knew who I was as soon as I walked into her room. She told me she'd never reveal you had visited her to John, but if we wanted her to keep this promise, I had to ask you to see her before it was too late."
When no response came, and Sherlock didn't exit the bath, Mycroft knew it was pointless to belabor this discussion. He picked up his umbrella and made his way to the door.
"Think it over Sherlock. If you decide to see her, I will move my best into place, and you two can have your moment of conversation and peace."
Sherlock only came out once he heard Mycroft shut the door behind him. He sat in his chair, leather with silver frame, so reminiscent of his in 221B, and put his head in his hands. He looked as if he were crying anew, but he was really only isolating his thoughts as he accessed his mind palace. He went through the events of these last two years, John's overwhelming grief at his "death," John's move out of 221B to his sister Harry's house in the country, John's move back to 221B after one too many drunken rows with Harry, John's depression and recommitment to therapy, Mycroft pulling a few strings to secure John a position at the clinic for veterans, John's meeting and first date with Mary. John hadn't known it, still didn't know it, but Sherlock had been hovering in the background nearly for it all. Mycroft thought he was becoming reckless with his safety and more than a little obsessed, so he ordered him away to Australia.
Sitting so still in his darkening little shed of a home, Sherlock allowed himself a small laugh as he remembered the day he gave his big brother a shock. Mycroft, being the conscientious brother that he always was, made it his business not to be surprised by anything Sherlock got up to or did, but after alluding even Mycroft's agents sent to watch over him, he turned up, happy as you please, after only six months away, to the Diogenes Club. Mycroft only raised his eyebrows slightly when he saw Sherlock sitting patiently in the darkened back seat of his chauffeured car. He spoke to Sherlock as if he expected just such a sight, but Mycroft's very slight stammer over his name betrayed him. Mycroft didn't speak the rest of the ride home except to tell him that he'd have the contractors out in the morning to prepare the shed.
The security detail noticed the stammer as well and knew immediately that they were in for a going over on the morning's pick-up. Richardson, who had some previous dealings with escorting Sherlock, knew as soon as he knocked on the passenger window that he was going to bring trouble. The agents all actually liked Sherlock even if they considered him Mycroft's equally intelligent, but very worrisome little brother. They weren't used to seeing Mycroft display any emotion, he was pleasant, a generous boss, but very studious and a bit off-putting. It was only when Sherlock was around or up to some excitement that they could get a glimpse of the more human side of Mycroft Holmes. Richardson had the most interaction with Sherlock, as he would never forget the day he drove him to Buckingham Palace dressed in nothing more than a sheet. He kept a stoic face all through the drive but couldn't stop laughing as he saw the guards rushing to escort him, one in front, one in the back and two on each side, so as to minimize his viewing from visitors and potential family in residence alike. Richardson also wouldn't forget the day he was tasked with driving a disguised and unusually quiet Sherlock to the airport. He was to hand him over to a waiting agent and make certain Sherlock remained in the plane until it took off. They didn't speak as they weren't friends, but Richardson felt a bit sad to see him leave nonetheless.
Now Sherlock was back, and telling from that slight stammer from his boss, he knew he wasn't expected and Richardson knew already that this breach in protocol would be the cause of his headache in the morning.
Back in his thoughts, Sherlock remembered offering an apology to Richardson just before Mycroft made his way to the car. He liked Richardson and he knew Mycroft wouldn't hold a grudge, but he felt it was only right to apologize for making him think Mycroft approved of his allowing him to sit in the car. Sherlock knew that had Richardson been aware Sherlock shouldn't have been back in England, that he would have immediately driven him straight away to the airport and placed him on the next available return flight to Australia.
Sherlock, reached for his violin and strummed the strings softly, as his thoughts turned back to his original ponderings, John and Mary.
After only 8 months of dating, John and Mary married. Sherlock had been back in town for a few months himself and he was not happy at all with this turn of events. He thought about causing some ruckus to get John to cancel, but he couldn't get close enough to him to interfere. Mycroft doubled his security detail, and whenever he got outside of a certain radius, a sleek black car would pull up along side him and blow his cover. On the day of the event though, he'd managed to slip even Richardson's notice. Unfortunately, somehow Mycroft bested him as he arrived at the church just after the deed was done. He should have been more suspicious when Mycroft casually mentioned the time and place. While he made a show of warning Sherlock from attending, he also made certain that Sherlock wouldn't get there in time to stop the proceedings. Dressed as a cleaner, Sherlock had made it to the church after all was said and done with no one present save the minister.
Married barely a year and a half, and Mary was dying. Sherlock had known for weeks now that Mary wished to speak with him. She didn't realize it, let alone anyone else, but he'd already been to visit her a few times when John was stuck on his over-night shift at the clinic. Twice, in her delirium before sleep, she called out his name. The first time he heard it, he thought surely he had been caught, but once he turned to her, he could tell from her heavy lids that she was fighting sleep and could barely keep her eyes open, much less tell that he was standing just off to the side of her bed. Dressed in his blond wig, prosthetic nose, and male nurse's uniform, he'd been able to even sit with her during one of her more torturous nights dealing with the after-math of her regular radiation treatments. He knew just when the prognosis had turned from bad to death. He had to dress extra carefully on this day as John would be visiting and Mary would be lucid. He'd dressed as an orderly, put in brown contact lenses, a prosthetic nose, and changed his wig from blond to brunette. Unfortunately for Mary, she had been sick all day, but Sherlock found that his outfit was perfect as he could be in the room with them both while they spoke quietly and lovingly with one another. Sherlock busied himself mopping up around her bed and in her bathroom. It was while he was doing this that two Doctors and a nurse entered. The nurse tried to get Sherlock to leave, but surprisingly Mary asked that he be allowed to stay as she wished to have the sick cleaned off the bathroom floor before she had to go back again. Sherlock grunted and moved himself a respectable distance from the group, but the room was so small, he still heard the most important bits of the conversations.
Sherlock left the room behind the Doctors while the nurse remained to assist Mary back to the bath. She was so tiny. He could remember her on their first date. She was full of life and she had such a strong and lovely laugh. Sherlock thought it was a bit harsh back then, but now, he wished more than anything for John that she had reason to laugh like that again. On that last visit, Sherlock was also reminded as the door was closing, that when he glanced back at his dear friend, that he saw Mary staring at him with a very determined look in her eyes over John's quietly sobbing head.
Sherlock finally came out of his revery to the sound of his mobile going off.
There was only one person now who had this number…Mycroft.
"Sherlock, I've had a call from John. Mary's condition has deteriorated even more; she has a week and a few days remaining. John was very agitated, he feels he's spoken of you so much that Mary has been hallucinating visits from you."
Mycroft sighed deeply and decided it was best to reveal that he was not as totally in the dark about his brother's activities as Sherlock thought he was. "Richardson's told me you've been to visit Mary several times. I knew that already, but tonight, I really do wish you would go and see her."
Before he could change his mind, Mycroft said, "Richardson's pulling up to the gate as we speak. I'm having John picked up as well, but he won't go immediately to the hospital. I've instructed a few people to fabricate a traffic snarl, so after a few detours and delays that should give you an hour to speak with Mary so that she can have some peace."
"We already take care of John. I simply can't understand why she has this need to speak to me."
"Maybe she needs to hear the words Sherlock. I tried to tell her myself, but it doesn't seem as if she will be satisfied until she hears the words from you.
Mary slowly opened her eyes, and there she saw him, dark curls, light blue eyes, finally without any facial prosthetics, and his fuzzy but all too fake mustache, sitting so rigid and straight as he softly played the only classical song that she loved with all her heart, Debussy's Clair De Lune. It was this sweet soft music that roused her from her medicated sleep.
She'd asked John if he could hire musicians to play this piece for her at her funeral service. Sherlock locked eyes on Mary as he was finishing the tune. He was encouraged when he saw her small smile, and heard her whispery voice request that he play the tune again. During the middle of the second playing, Mary began to silently cry. Sherlock abruptly stopped and reached his handkerchief to her. She hadn't even realized that tears were falling lightly down her face, but accepted and gently wiped her cheeks.
"Thankfully, I won't be here when that's played at my funeral. It's so beautiful, it always makes me cry."
"It's a pretty simple tune actually. I'm surprised it evoked such a reaction from you."
Mary thought if she could blush she would have turned a bright scarlet. "You're right, you've caught me out, I don't know much about classical music, and this is the only song I remember from my youth. I wanted to have something beautiful played and could only think of that."
Sherlock recognized that he sounded a bit elitist and harsh and that was the farthest thing he wanted to do in this moment.
"I'm sorry, I only meant…"
"No, don't be sorry, Mary rasped as she could barely speak, it is simple, and it is beautiful, so we're both right. No need to apologize at all."
Mary suddenly held her hand out as if to be shook. "Hello Sherlock Holmes, I'm Mary Watson."
Sherlock took her hand gingerly, "Hello Mary Watson, it's so nice to finally meet you."
"You're very good at disguise. On one of John's visits he was speaking about you and your disguises."
Sherlock raised his eyebrow and worked hard to suppress the smile that wanted to erupt across his face. Mary thought he looked upset, she hastened to say, "He knows I like to hear about your past adventures."
"No, that's quite alright. I'm happy to hear he remembers them fondly."
"Of course he does. There's no one in this world he remembers more lovingly than you. Now he'll have two of us to mourn over."
"On my last visit, did you recognize me?"
Mary smiled as if caught in some grand scheme. "I did. I knew it was you as soon as you came into the door. I was too ill to stop you from cleaning the floor, but you were so in character I thought it would give the game away if you were stood there holding a mop with nothing to do."
"How could you tell it was me? Did John realize?"
"No, he's never mentioned any suspicions. I remember a case he told me about where you wore this very bushy, fuzzy moustache. He said it always made him laugh because you looked so ridiculous, a youthful face, amazing cheekbones and a huge bundle of what looked like matted cat fur on your top lip. Just the thought of that image made us both laugh so much and then one night low and behold, the vision came to life. There you were dressed like a nurse, sitting at my bedside, baby faced, impossibly high cheekbones and that drowned cat covering your mouth. I knew instantly it was you."
"That was nearly a month ago…You've known all this time?"
"Yes. Once I knew your height and the way you moved, it didn't matter what color hair you wore or how wide or narrow your fake nose. I always knew."
"Thank you for not telling John."
"You're welcome, but I didn't do it for your benefit. Mycroft and I had a talk one evening. I'd just been given my death sentence, pancreatic cancer. Six months to a year and now down to a week, maybe two. I didn't tell my husband at first, he'd already lost you, and now he was going to lose me as well. I knew that I needed to speak to your brother. I had to find you. I had to tell you that John will need you. I wanted Mycroft to send you a message.
"To come home…I told him John never believed you had died and now neither did I….I wanted him to find you and bring you back to London."
"Where you successful…?"
"I had to first find Mycroft. John told me that periodically if we were out and about, doing whatever, shiny black cars may pull up along- side us and I wasn't to worry when he'd stopped whatever he was doing, got inside, and was driven away. He said depending on how far I was from home; another would be along to escort me back safe and sound."
Mary began coughing. Sherlock jumped up and forgetting he didn't have to pretend to be a nurse anymore, he quickly filled her glass with water and adjusted her higher on her pillow as she didn't have the strength to pull herself up on her own.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yes. Thanks. Anyway, I thought it was silly to think the government was following us, looking out for us, and that my husband knew one of the most powerful men in Britain. But then one Sunday, it happened just as he said it would, a sleek black BMW silently pulled along-side of us as we were making our way back from the market. A tall very elegantly dressed man stepped out of the driver's seat and opened the back door. He didn't speak, or even smile, and he certainly didn't look like he was a chauffeur."
"Richardson, he's one of Mycroft's best agents."
"Well, John gave me his bags and told me to wait, and he got in the car."
"And what did you do?"
Mary chuckled, "I waited. I wanted to see if it would be true for me as well. I stood on the corner with my five bags and waited."
"And did a black car arrive…?"
"No, silver actually. I thought well, it could be just coincidence. I didn't want to get in the back of some stranger's BMW, but as soon as the car stopped. Another man smartly dressed, got out of the driver's seat, opened the back door, and took my bags. He called me Mrs. Watson and told me to come with him."
"You and John, Sherlock said affectionately. These cars with their mysterious drivers, they could be taking you anywhere."
"Yes, I thought about that, but when I sank into those plush leather seats, I felt like Cinderella. I didn't care where he drove me, as long as it was further than the three blocks to home."
"Oh well, over before you know it."
"It was, Mary chuckled again, but it was great while it lasted."
"How about Mycroft, did you ever find him? You wanted to speak to him. As he's been to visit you, I know you were successful."
"Yes, Mycroft, as it turns out, reaching him, wasn't as hard as I imagined."
"Let me guess, Sherlock said, you rang the doorbell at the palace?"
"After being told that you have almost the fastest growing cancer ravishing your body, and six months to a year to live, stepping in front of a moving car is nothing."
Sherlock had been strumming his strings absently as he and Mary talked, but this information made him sit up.
"You did what?"
"I walked out of my doctor's office. I was meant to wait for John, he was going to meet me, but he was running late. I knew as soon as I got the news that I had to find you, and I knew the only way to do that was through your brother."
"I was dead, remember?"
"Well, John never believed it and I guess he rubbed off on me, because I came to not believe it either."
"So, you tried to kill yourself?"
"Oh no, the cancer was making a fine job of that all on it's own. One of the first things John told me, aside from his penchant for driving off in mysterious cars, was that he was being watched. He had handlers who did nothing all day but surveil him. If I ever needed help, I should create a commotion and our very own men in suits would rush to help me."
"So, you decided to march out into traffic and take your chances."
"Yeah, Mary grinned at the memory, but I made certain traffic was moving really…really slowly."
"And was the damsel in distress saved?"
"Like clockwork, two of my very own cars raced in position near me and when the first driver opened the door, I jumped in the backseat, and demanded that he take me to Mycroft Holmes."
"Impressive, and did he…?"
"No, he took me home, but later after John and I had eaten supper, and John had left for his over-night shift at the clinic, Mycroft came to me."
"Good old Mycroft." Sherlock said as he went to lift Mary back up onto her pillows.
"He told me, we were wasting our time. You were dead and he apologized to me for not coming to visit sooner. He told me what I already gathered about you and John that you were very close, almost like brothers, and that John was devastated when you jumped off St. Barts. He asked me kindly, not to step out into traffic again, and I told him I was dying."
"You told Mycroft before you told John?"
"I had too, I asked your brother for one wish, to bring you back from the dead. I don't know how you did it, but I couldn't simply leave John, all on his own."
Sherlock decided to drop the cool act as he responded quietly, "It wasn't easy, believe me."
"Well, good I'm glad we're in agreement. Thank you so much Sherlock for coming to visit and for playing my Clair de Lune so beautifully. I'm starting to feel some pain and it won't be long before John will be arriving."
"Wait…What exactly are we in agreement on?" Sherlock asked.
"You're coming out of hiding. There are only two people on this earth who make John happy, that's you and me. Sometime next week, I will cease to be, and after, I'm gone, you're going to reunite with John, and you're going to have more adventures. Welcome back from the dead Sherlock. It's time you and John began living again. Now, Mary yawned as widely as her mouth could open, if you don't leave soon, John will see you in the flesh here and now."
John slowly made his way up to the altar. He passed Mary's closed casket festooned with flowers. He took a moment to look out over the large group friends who had come to say their goodbyes. Molly, Mrs. Hudson, Greg, Mycroft, and even Richardson were on the first row, The other rows were filled with former co-workers, several of whom had come to their wedding, just three short years before, then there were a few of her Doctors and nurses as well as some hospital and hospice staff who had grown close to her while she was in their care. Still further there were some neighbors who Mary met within two weeks of moving into 221B and who John still didn't know even-though he had been living there for going on six years himself. Lastly, but not least were the agents, anonymous faces to John, but who Mary made certain to give Christmas gifts too each year to show her appreciation for riding her around the long way from the store to home. They'd all volunteered to be pallbearers when it was time to carry her coffin. If John would have continued looking towards the back, he would have seen an unrecognizable man sitting off to himself. He had green eyes, long red hair, and the mangiest uncombed moustache anyone would ever see. Sherlock wore it especially for Mary, he knew she would appreciate his efforts.
"Well umm, as you all can imagine this is very difficult for me. No, that's not right, it's difficult for all of us, and so I'm sure you can all imagine what I'm going through because you're going through the same. One day, I was sad, John swallowed as he paused to collect his emotions, no, that's not quite right either, before I met Mary, I was depressed. I should have been working, occupying my time with labor instead; I'd wander down to the park and read or just stare off into space. Anyway, one day, this woman came and sat beside me. She said, hello, my name's Mary, and if you are thinking of killing yourself, forget it, I won't allow it. Well, as you can imagine, John said as he looked at his friends in the first row, I stopped going to that park and I haven't been back since."
Through the sounds of sniffles and quiet laughter, John continued…
"Luckily for me, this woman and I met several more times, at the market, the clinic and once even at my front door. You see she had been following me and she'd decided, well if he's not going to introduce himself, then I'll have to do it for him. Eight months later, we were married. Before Mary, I was devastated after having lost my best friend Sherlock, after Mary, the pain dulled and she brought happiness back into my life. I loved her and while I tried to tell her every chance I got, I wish I could tell her a thousand times more."
John bit the inside of his lip, he knew he wouldn't be able to go on, so he folded up his paper, awkwardly patted Mary's casket, and took a seat between Mrs. Hudson and Greg.
Three weeks later, an exhausted John emerged from the clinic, after pulling three all-nighters. Parked at the curb was a gloriously high buff black BMW and beside that beauty, even at 5am, was an impeccably dressed and well-groomed as usual Mr. Richardson. He was standing beside the car with the back door already opened. He wasn't smiling as usual, but John could see in his eyes, a warmth.
"Ah, I'm ever so happy to see you, John said as he climbed into the back seat. I'm exhust…"
John's words were abruptly cut off as he noticed someone was occupying the back seat with him. He stared at the man seated next to him, knew who it was, but his eyes wouldn't believe it. His heart began pumping so hard, he was finding it hard to breathe. He shut his eyes time and sharply inhaled his breath.
"Sherlock?" The name left John's mouth on the next breath. He couldn't believe his eyes. His long lost friend sitting here beside him. He had known it all along. He never gave up believing. Sherlock was alive.
John launched himself at Sherlock and grabbed him up in the tightest hug. He didn't care how they looked or how cramped the back seat of the car was, this was his friend, he very best friend, and he was returned.
"Hello John. Sherlock smiled at his old friend. Are you hungry? Fancy some breakfast? I know this great little restaurant that should be opening up just about now, and then once you're fed, the adventures can begin anew."