Co-written by two of the most brilliant and disturbing minds in the history of Sherlock. Oh wait, no, that's Gatiss and Moffat. Actually co-written by two tumblr Sherlockians who met on Omegle and started a co-writing love affair. By shwatsonlocked and scribblesonapage. We accept sobs and laughs as reactions to this fic, comments and reviews are also welcome. Thanks for reading!
Author: A Study in Schaudenfreude
Pairing|Characters: No strict pairing
Genre: angst, action-adventure
Warnings: Post-Reichenbach Fall.
Disclaimer: Moffat, Gatiss, and Conan-Doyle own the characters, we're just making them dance to our tune.
Summary: John Watson's on the verge of leaving 221B behind. Until he receives a message that will change his life forever... "Text Received from Sherlock Holmes."
John didn't know why he was doing this. Scratch that, he knew perfectly well why he was holding his mobile right now, preparing to text Sherlock. It was late afternoon, the sun sitting lower and lower in the sky. The ex-army doctor thought he could hear the strings of Sherlock's Stradivarius being scratched as the Consulting Detective once abused them. It was just a phantom memory now.
Three weeks. No, two weeks, six days and nine hours since Sherlock had died. His therapist had given John a bloody horrible task of texting Sherlock's non-existent number whatever he wanted to tell him. It was so he could work through the grief, like telling a dead man secrets would help, like it would get to Sherlock somehow, in some way.
He knew it wouldn't.
Sherlock's dead. The words echoed in his head, and the fall replayed in his mind over and over again. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing the thoughts away, and started tapping away on his phone.
He hesitated, thinking it was stupid that he was actually going to do this. Was he really going to text a dead man's number to make himself feel better?
John picked up the phone, and continued typing.
Delete. Type. Delete.
What was he going to say? Hi, Sherlock, sorry you're dead, I miss you? John sighed, and briefly entertained the notion of throwing his phone across the room. He glanced again at the phone. He started typing again, determined to finish this time.
I believe in Sherlock Holmes.
He peeked down at the pale screen of the mobile, took a deep breath and hit send. There, John thought. That should make my therapist happy.
Sally suddenly looked up, and Anderson moaned in protest as she disengaged from their kiss. "Aren't you going to get that?"
"What?" Anderson asked, glancing around the Yard's forensic lab. They weren't supposed to be in there after hours, much less snogging each other's brains out by the mass spectrometer. He leaned in and started nuzzling Sally's neck again.
"Your phone. It beeped." Sally pushed him away with a sigh. "It could be your wife."
Anderson could hear Sally's disdain in the way she drew out 'wife.' Briefly looking heavenward, the ERU head walked to his desk and glanced at his mobile. No message. Shrugging, Anderson turned back to look at the curly haired woman.
"It wasn't mine that went off."
"Well, it weren't mine that beeped, so whose was it?"
Moira Anderson started a little, and squeezed his eyes shut in dismay. He remembered the third phone in the room. A phone that shouldn't be receiving any texts. Running a pale hand through his hair, he glanced at Sally who was tapping her foot impatiently on the vinyl floor.
Anderson's hand hovered over the metal handle of the top drawer. Surely it was just a message gone astray, a wrong number. He grabbed the handle and pulled, revealing the phone of Sherlock Holmes. He'd plugged the scuffed iPhone in to charge because he was curious what the freak had stored on the device. Anderson pressed the home button and frowned at the identity of the sender.
"Hold on, isn't that the freak's mobile? Why do you have it?" Sally's voice was closer than before, she'd moved around to hover over his shoulder.
The name was familiar, too familiar. He slid his thumb across the bottom of the glass, unlocking the mobile. It was the same as the message spray painted on a few local buildings.
I believe in Sherlock Holmes.
"Send a reply."
The forensic officer jerked around, blues eyes wide and spluttered "Are you crazy? Do you know what kind of mess that would start?"
"I dare you to text back. If you don't want to, fine, but I'm going home." Sally headed to grab her things but he grabbed her arm.
"No, I'll..." Anderson trailed off. Why not? Some dark recess of his mind asked. It's not like you're friends. It'll be revenge for how Holmes always threw your failing marriage and affair with Sally in your face. He skimmed through some of the previous texts to understand how the dead man would respond.
"Alright, I'll send a response. Happy?"
Sally looked as if Christmas had come early, grin threatening to swallow her face. Shaking his head, Anderson began to text.
After sending Sherlock's missing phone that final message, John had flicked the telly on, hopeful for a distraction. Stories about Sherlock were few and far between now, but watching crap telly just reminded him how the genius man had deduced every show John watched, and so he turned the television off and sat in the silence. When the doctor's phone beeped, he thought it would just be his sister Harry checking up on him again, or maybe Lestrade.
Text Received from Sherlock Holmes.
This time, John didn't resist the urge to throw his mobile. There was no way, no possible way he had an unread message from bloody Sherlock Holmes' phone.
Sherlock's phone had been missing from the moment Sherlock said 'Goodbye John.'
So what was that?
Wetting his bottom lip, John marched over to where the Nokia N97 had landed, snatching it up and selecting the message inbox.
Thank you, John.
John gaped in disbelief. As he stared at the text, his phone beeped again, and a second line of text appeared.
Sorry I've been...away.
John typed furiously. It was almost like he wanted to punch holes through the mobile.
Whoever you are, this is not funny. The owner of the phone you're holding is dead. Who the bloody hell are you?
Sally was peering over Anderson's shoulder to read the text. "Not very friendly right now, is he?" she drawled. Before he could stop her, Sally was sending a reply.
It's me, John.
Anderson scrambled to get the phone back. Once it was back in his possession, he looked at the inbox. Each black letter in the message ate at him, stared into his soul. What kind of person was he, playing on the emotions of a man who'd lost his best friend? Although he'd abhorred working with the 'consulting' detective, John Watson didn't deserve this.
Anderson wasn't going to continue pretending to be Sherlock Holmes.
He typed his next words carefully.
Actually, no it's not. It's Anderson. I know it was a mean joke.
As he awaited what was sure to be an irate text, or maybe Watson would move on from texting all-together, Anderson looked at Sally with a withering glare.
"I think we're done today, Sally. Not in the mood anymore."
Sally scoffed and picked up her bag and coat. "Whatever, Anderson. I'll just hit a pub then."
As soon as she'd exited, Holmes' phone beeped with a new message from Watson.
Anderson, I am going to shoot you.
The forensic chief panicked. Being shot had not been on his agenda for the night. He had to explain, hopefully the ex-army doctor would let him. He began sending messages frantically.
The Yard made me do it!
It was a dare. Just a dare.
I have a bulletproof vest!
Another bubble of text from John appeared on the screen.
That's it. I'm calling Greg.
Anderson had the sudden urge to jump off the building too. This prank of Sally's was going to get his arse handed to him.
NO! Please don't, I'll do anything! We can discuss this.
And just what do you think I'd want from you? Especially after this.
The forensic officer rubbed both hands over his eyes. He couldn't believe that he was going to talk about this. He'd sworn he would never mention the report discrepancies to anyone, not when there had been witnesses to the fall.
I'm about to tell you something and I better not regret it.
There were...problems with some of the evidence from the St. Bart's.
What did you hear?
What do you mean hear? I SAW SHERLOCK BLOODY JUMP!
Anderson winced. Yes, good job Moira. Just keep putting your foot in your mouth. That'll keep him from tracking you down and shooting you.
...Oh, yes, they did tell me you were there.
John, there were some... anomalies.
I swear to God Anderson, if you're having me on...
I'm not. The blood patterns were close but they weren't right for that fall. He might have had some freaky way of getting out alive.
The mobile slipped from John's fingers and fell on the floor with a thud.
Sherlock was alive.
But John watched him die. It was impossible
He picked his phone up and dialled Anderson's phone.
"Repeat what you just said, Anderson." John immediately said when the man picked up. "Repeat it. Tell me you're lying."
"The blood patterns are wrong." Anderson said, steel in his voice. He scoffed. "Contrary to what you and Sherlock believe, I am actually bloody well good at my job."
John exhaled, and closed his eyes. This could not be real. Sherlock would not do that. Sherlock was not that huge of an arse that he would let John suffer for three. fucking. weeks thinking that he was dead.
No, Sherlock would actually do that.
"So there's a chance that he's...alive?" John asked, his voice breaking. He closed his eyes, and exhaled slowly. He was not going to break down, not now, not ever. This wasn't news to him, that Sherlock was alive. He always held out hope that he was alive.
Who was he kidding. Hell, he saw it with his own eyes and -
- no. Not breaking down, not ever. He would see this through, whether Sherlock is alive or not.
Anderson continued. "I don't know. Maybe. I did wonder why the funeral was close casket - Molly does a great job on cases like this." John winced at the insensitivity, but Anderson apologized.
John sighed. "Mycroft said Sherlock wanted..." His eyes lighted up in realization. "Bloody big-nosed penguin. I'm going to kill him."
"John, I'm taking a huge risk telling you this. Things are quiet around here, when it comes to Sherlock's death. I'm not sure what happened. Someone's trying to sweep things under the rug. There's something wrong about all this."
John clenched his fist. Who was trying to cover it up? Why would anybody try to cover it up? Everyone believed his best friend was a fraud. There must be a reason someone didn't want anyone to look too closely, but what could it be?
"Even if the man was a fucking bastard, he was good." Anderson continued. "I would never admit it to anyone in the Yard, of course. But he was. Hell, I didn't want him to be fake. But the evidence pointed otherwise."
"You doubted him." John reminded him with gritted teeth. "You and Donovan practically turned the whole Yard against him." He closed his eyes, trying to get back his anger under control.
"Processing evidence is my job, and everything pointed to him. What should I have done, fake it?"
John didn't answer. He was thinking, mulling over and playing with idea that wormed itself into his head. Sherlock might be alive. He might be in danger.
The feelings he had during the war were back. He felt like everywhere he went, there was someone watching him. It wasn't paranoia. He told his commanding officer once, and they found terrorists eyeing them through scopes in the building adjacent to their position.
John trusted his instincts. He was in danger. And that meant Sherlock might be in danger too.
He could try to find Sherlock. But how? How do you find dead men?
You die. You die yourself.
His mind was racing, could he do this? Die for Sherlock? The answer was immediate.
"Anderson, I need your help." John said. He exhaled. Even he couldn't believe he was going to say this, much less ask Anderson for help, but needed to do this. After these words, there was no turning back. "I need to die."
There was a pause on the other end of the line. John waited for comments on his sanity, and Anderson did not disappoint him. "What? Are you insane? Have you gone mad?"
"I want... no, I need to find Sherlock and I can't do that 'alive'." John explained slowly, trying to get Anderson to just see, see what he needed to do.
"John, this is idiocy. You do know that?" Anderson sounded like he couldn't believe what John had asked. John could hardly believe they were having this conversation himself, but this was something he had to do and nothing, nothing was going to stop him.
"You said you were good at your job. Prove it. You said you wanted to believe in him. Prove that you believe in Sherlock."
"Show me proof that he's real. And then I'll help you."
John was astounded. The other man was incredibly lucky to be on the other end of the phone line; John would have chinned him if he could.
John sighed. Reverse psychology was a childish method, but it worked.
"You are unbelievable. I'll do it without you then. If you tell anyone, I'll come after you."
"Wait. John. I... I can't believe I'm doing this but..." The forensic manager sighed, and John knew that he had him. John whispered thanks to whoever might be listening. "You need to use your own blood to make it more convincing. And write the suicide note yourself. Make sure the body fits your profile."
"Done and done. I'll do whatever it takes. Thank you."
John hung up, and grabbed his coat. "Mrs. Hudson, I'm going out. I'll finish packing later!"
He didn't even wait for her to answer.
He had work to do.
Two days had passed. Anderson had put most of the phone call out of his mind. John had never alerted Lestrade, and so his job was mostly safe. The whole bit about killing himself was mostly forgotten too. The man was probably just stressed, toying with idiotic ideas that would never work.
So Anderson was stunned when he found John waiting in his kitchen, chatting amiably with his wife.
"Ah, John," was all Anderson could manage.
John smiled at him. "Hello, Anderson. I was just talking to your wife while waiting for you. She's lovely." Anderson's wife beamed, and John nodded at her. "I'm sorry, can you excuse us please? I have to talk to him now."
"It's alright. I hope I see you again." His wife stood up, and whispered to Anderson. "I like him more than that Sally person. You should invite him again." She gave him a small kiss, mostly for John's sake, Anderson thought to himself. His wife always wanted to keep the charade of a good marriage when his friends were around, like nobody knew that their marriage was on the rocks.
Anderson tried not to laugh at his wife's request, considering what John was already planning. He pulled up a chair, and sighed. "What do you want?"
"I'm doing it in three days." John said. "Any advice?"
Anderson huffed. "I can't believe this. Are you actually going through with this? This is stupid, John." He stood up and headed to the fridge. "Beer?"
"Tea or water, please." John said. "I need to be alert."
Anderson shrugged, and drank. He put a pitcher of water and a glass in front of John. "You are going to throw your life away for one man."
John shrugged. "I'm not." He looked at him straight in the eye, and Anderson looked away. "You told me you would help."
"I will. I just want to know why you're doing this." Anderson murmured as he finished his bottle. "You are throwing your life away, John. For Sherlock. He's not even that great of a friend."
"Do not pretend that you know him." John said quietly. "You don't know Sherlock." He raised his eyes at Anderson. "I'm doing this because a friend needs me. Sherlock needs me whether he wants my help or not, and I'm going to make sure I'm damn well going to be there."
"You don't even know if he's really alive."
"You told me there were discrepancies."
"That was all it was, discrepancies." Anderson sighed again. "For all we know he is really dead."
"Anderson, it's Sherlock. He rarely makes mistakes. He's sending a message. He's alive." John said with finality, and Anderson knew that was the last to be said on the subject. There was no room left for argument.
Anderson looked away, and there was silence.
John really wanted to do this, Anderson could see. And there was nothing he can do to stop him.
At the end of this all, anyone who would say that Anderson was not true to his word should shove their mouth up their arse.
"I gave you my word." Anderson said. "What do you need?"
"Tips. How-to's." John said. "I know I'll need a blood bag ready. I just need you to help me with the splatter and the patterns. And the rest of it."
"How are you planning to do it?" Anderson leaned forward. "I assume you're going to use your Browning. You should point it under the fresh corpse's face, under the chin to destroy his face. Hug the corpse so the angle would be right." He thought for a moment. "I'll give you a diagram for it."
"Thank you." John said. And he meant it, Anderson could see it in his eyes. "Thank you, Anderson."
"If anything goes wrong, I wash my hands of this. And I would not help you then." Anderson clarified, and then he looked away, thinking. "The fresher the corpse, the better. I would fix the reports. I would send your body to one of my friends, and not to Molly Hooper. I cannot get you a body though, John."
John nodded, his face unreadable. "I'll take care of that."
"I'm going to have to think on this. I'll have someone get something to you tomorrow." Anderson said.
John stood up. "Anderson, thank you." He repeated. "I'll show myself out."
"You owe me for this." Anderson stood up, and followed him anyway.
John scoffed, and shook his head. "No. You owed Sherlock."
And the door shut.
A/N: Chapter 2 coming soon.