Series: Firestorm over London – Book 1
Title: Crystals in the Storm Glass
Chapter: Prologue part 1
Summary: After a disastrous reunion, Sherlock and John inadvertently find themselves becoming flatmates once more. When Irene Adler asks them to solve an international espionage case, Sherlock is willing to risk everything to win back John's admiration and love.
Main Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, Mycroft Holmes, "Anthea", Harry Pearce (Spooks), Erin Watt (Spooks),
AN: This is part one of the prologue to the main story. It sets the scene and contains the important events that are very important to the rest of the story.
Eight months before Chapter 1
The Dog and Duck Pub, Hammersmith, London
John sat in the smoky bar sipping his pint and causally sweeping the other patrons with a trained military eye. The person he was supposed to meet had not appeared yet but a strange nagging feeling of unease was beginning to build.
The bar was a typical working man's establishment that had been hastily overhauled to cater for other demographics. The greasy beer stained tables each had a crystal vase filled with fake orchids glued to the centre and the new chairs made from fake mahogany and red leather looked even more out of place. Cigarette smoke hung in the air, suffocating the patrons with a thick almost translucent haze of grey smoke.
It was nice to know that No Smoking could be interpreted so many different ways.
His date was over an hour late but John was enjoying the atmosphere of the bar and despite persistent inhalation of carcinogens, he was beginning to feel a bit more human. The evening shift in A&E on a Monday was anything but pleasant and added to that the emotion turmoil and paranoia that had been plaguing him last week was taking its toll.
Drinking a generous gulp of beer, he relaxed back into the comfortable leather chair and wondered if he could be bothered to get up and buy a second pint. The barman was eyeing him beadily from over the bar, and having occupied the best spot in the establishment for over two hours, John was beginning to feel more like a parasite than a customer. In front of him, a young couple barely above the legal drinking age were downing brightly coloured shots that stank of artificial fruit flavouring.
John was beginning to feel a dull haziness settling like cobwebs over his mind. It had been a long 12 hours and frankly he no longer cared whether his internet "friend" bothered to show up. The smoky atmosphere was interfering with his vision and even the young couple in their garish garments were beginning to look grey and blurry around the edges. Perhaps it was time to call it a night and write off his chance of getting any sexual gratification.
As he tried to stand up, his legs wobbled unsurely and John ended up sitting back down again with a heavy thud.
Drinking on an empty stomach would do that you,
He hadn't eaten anything since the morning and then it was only a cereal bar scoffed hastily in between tending to a bleeding gastric ulcer and a severed femoral artery.
Can't hold my drink as well as I used to,
He was suddenly, inexplicably reminded of the time he had been drinking with Stamford four weeks ago. He had almost lost consciousness and Stamford, being a doctor, had embarrassingly dragged John into Bart's A&E where his own nurses had taken care of his sorry backside in a private side room so as to not utterly ruin his reputation.
He wondered if the splitting headache and sympathetic looks had been worth the four hours of mindless bliss. For the first time in 18 months, John Watson had been able to stop think about Sherlock Holmes.
Even when the man had been dead, his spirit lived on inside John's mind and his own internal monologue was hijacked by Sherlock's voice. His very own inner Sherlock accompanied him everywhere. Inevitably the whole uncomfortable mental state had sent him running for a therapist, who simply reassured him that hearing Sherlock's voice inside his head was a natural part of grieving. But it wasn't natural; it felt like a Sherlock was haunting his mind and pointedly refusing to allow John the luxury of moving on.
He hadn't wanted to move on after Sherlock died, partly because he didn't want to believe a life so brilliant could end so tragically but after 6 months even Sarah had lost patience with his increasing wild theories. She had gone so far as to suggest John "dig up his damn corpse and see for yourself!"
He moved on after that, slowly but surely with help and support from Mrs Hudson, Stamford, Sarah and even Molly. Now nearly two years later, he could go through a hospital shift without thinking about Sherlock, and without hearing his disparaging remarks echoing inside John's head.
Then four weeks ago on a cold, wet day in January Sherlock returned from the dead.
John found out from Mrs Hudson's HD TV in between watching East Enders and Hollyoaks.
He instantly dashed to Stamford's place and drank himself stupid on whiskey, gin and Sainsbury's basic cider.
When he regained consciousness in Bart's A&E, he made a solemn vow that he would, for the sake of his mental health, pretend Sherlock was still dead.
Unfortunately it was easier said than done; Sherlock had somehow managed to get hold of his new phone number and began a concerted campaign that could only be described as obsessive stalking. Every morning there would be fifty or sixty text messages all from Sherlock demanding to meet up. Even Mycroft had turned up at the Baker Street flat with his ever present umbrella to politely interrogate John about his understandable but rather foolish principal of "pretending Sherlock never existed". John threw him out without any pretense at courtesy and demanded he tell Sherlock in no uncertain terms that John Hamish Watson never wanted to see Sherlock Holmes again. Mycroft might be footing half the rent but it was his brother's fault for not giving due notice before disappearing off to play chase with an international criminal syndicate.
The trial of Moriarty's organization was headline news everyday for over three weeks. Posters, signs and even placards started to spring up with the slogan "I believe in Sherlock Holmes." John's blog now had more hits than Stephen Fry's twitter page. Advertising companies frequently offered to pay him vast sums of money if he would update. Newspapers reporters camped outside his front door for a week before they finally got the message that he wasn't going to talk about Sherlock. As far as John was concerned Sherlock Holmes was still dead.
Then things started to get creepy. Last week as he tried to collect his usually newspaper from the corner shop, the friendly Indian shop keeper apologized for running out of the Times but casually suggested he should share Sherlock Holmes' paper instead. John laughed it off saying that Sherlock never learnt to share and cheerfully paid for the Guardian instead, but as he was about to leave the shopkeeper started to talk in earnest.
"Oh, Mr John, Mr Sherlock was in this shop not twenty minutes ago. He bought your copy of the Times because he was going to see you soon, sir."
John had expected to feel a burst of annoyance but the icy feeling in the bottom of his stomach was definitely not anger or hate. All the way home, he found himself glancing over his shoulder as if he was afraid to see the solitaire of Sherlock Holmes lurking behind him.
Exactly why he was frankly terrified of meeting Sherlock face to face, John didn't know. His therapist had informed him that he didn't want to explore the natural sequence of emotions that Sherlock's return had generated, Sarah had told him to "man up" and Molly, well Molly hadn't been able get a word in edgeways during John's furious tirade regarding her complicit silence in the whole affair. He supposed he should really be thankful she hadn't called security or the police.
That evening John found his copy of the Times was lying on the mat under the letter box, looking terribly unassuming indeed.
The day after reading the Guardian because he didn't want to touch the Times, John was treated to a mysterious package at work. The hospital, as a general rule, never checked anybody's post so it could have contained anything from Lancet Journals to anthrax. The package was neatly wrapped in brown paper and tied by with white string but there was no address, only a neat cardboard tag that said:
"For John H. Watson"
"Well, it was on the reception desk this morning," the haggled receptionist had told him as she tried to force a frankly demented old lady to put her knickers back on.
He opened the package of course; John was not the paranoid type who liked to x-ray every suspicious package.
Inside the neatly wrapped package was a jumper, a brand new fluffy woolen jumper. It had broad black and white strips which looked surprising attractive. The note it came with on the other hand was anything but attractive.
I saw you yesterday shivering on your way home from work, so I bought you this jumper. Do not hesitate to ask if you need anything else. Also you appear to be drinking heavily every evening alone; I have taken the liberty of banning all outlets from selling you any more alcohol.
Looking forwards to seeing you soon,
With a stab of pure hatred, John screwed up the jumper and tossed it into the bin. He missed by half a metre and the jumper ended up draped over the pot plant like an oddly shaped tea cosy.
It took another five minutes before cold fear seeped into John's mind. Irrationally his brain was already wondering: "what does 'see you soon' mean?"
He was becoming paranoid and all because a resurrected corpse refused to leave him alone.
On the third day, having not been able to top up his liquor supply, John was feeling agitated and restless. He flopped tonelessly into his favourite armchair and reached for TV remote only to find that it was gone from its usual spot and in its place was a book that he didn't own.
"Coping with Negative Emotions by Jennet Bisset"
He burnt the book in Mrs Hudson's fireplace, whilst she looked on in confusion. John tried to drown the feeling of creeping fear by helping himself to some of her sherry but it couldn't wash away the horrid sensation that came with having his privacy and his home callously invaded.
On the fourth day as he rolled sleepily out of bed after a disturbed night with fitful dreams of being chased down a dark alley by a Belstaff coat, he stumbled into the kitchen only to find the empty tea container he had forgotten to refill was full of English Breakfast Tea bags and there was a mug of steaming hot tea waiting for him on the kitchen table.
Flabbergasted and suddenly feeling much more awake, John tore through the apartment looking for intruders. After finding absolutely no one, he ran downstairs to Mrs Hudson jabbering like a mental patient but she had not heard anyone come in. When he demanded she change all the locks, Mrs Hudson simply stared at him like he had lost his mind.
Now as he sat in the bar feeling slightly nauseous after enjoying his first pint of the week, he was almost glad his date had not bothered to turn up. He would not have been able to make a favourable impression with anyone whilst feeling like his limbs had turned to rubber. Strangely this weakened state wasn't particularly alarming, he was warm, comfortable and for once not being besieged by silent texts from Sherlock. He was been forced to turn off his ringtone when T-mobile informed him that they couldn't trace any one number to block.
As he gazed blearily around the bar his sluggish vision latched slowly onto a tall figure approaching his table. It looked oddly familiar, the long coat, the blue scarf, even the curly hair was triggering some sort of recognition but John's brain was too tired to bother joining up the dots.
"Hello John," said Sherlock as he sat down in the seat opposite.
John blinked lethargically and wondered whether he was still able to reply given the sorry state of his nervous system.
"Uh, hi Sherlock," he muttered uncertainly.
"Why don't you finish that pint and come with me?" suggest Sherlock reasonably.
Something in John's brain was telling him this was wrong. Instinctively he tried to move away from the suddenly menacing figure leaning towards him from across the table.
A spasm of amusement flitted across Sherlock's face, but John was too preoccupied with staying upright to really notice.
"You didn't appreciate my presents," remarked Sherlock, sounding more menacing than hurt.
"They sucked!" slurred John, wondering why his mouth was refusing to obey him.
"They were helpful, I had to swallow my pride and take Mycroft's advice for you."
"You are dead," replied John as firmly as his failing mental state could allow.
"Not anymore John, come with me,"
With one swift motion Sherlock was standing next to him, hauling him up by the armpits. John was dimly aware that several other people in the bar were getting up to help Sherlock frog march him out of the pub.
"St – st –stop!" protest John but Sherlock was making insistent shushing noises.
"Close your eyes, John," he said softly, "we can have a proper chat when you wake up."
AN: I really enjoy reader's thoughts, comments and criticisms of my work. It really helps me to improve my style and characterization.
I have actually written most of the this story (its over 10K+). Chapters 1,2 and 3 are already on my livejournal page: wellingtongoose (dot) livejournal (dot) com.