He is under 24 hour surveillance. There is no reason to follow him like a lost puppy. – M
This is my last warning. Don't force me to lock you into your room again. – M
That wig looks ridiculous. – M
Each time the phone silently buzzed in his pocket he flipped it open, stared blankly at his brother's message, and shoved it away again. Though his old phone was long gone and his number had been changed several times now, Sherlock Holmes still found himself expecting there to be a different name illuminated on the screen. He took a sip of his coffee and turned his attention back to the store across the street. As John emerged, heading back to Baker Street with a large bag swinging from his hand, Sherlock stood up and left the café, pulling his dark sunglasses over his eyes and leaving behind a more than generous wad of notes on the table.
He remained a fair distance from John, walking on the opposite side of the street and weaving his way through the crowd.
John stopped. He turned and cast his eyes down the street. Sherlock moved into the shadows of a building.
John called a cab.
Sherlock did the same and received a strange look from his cabbie when his only given directions were to "follow that other cab." When it became apparent enough where John was going, Sherlock had the driver stop a few blocks away from the cemetery. He walked with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, his eyes cast down to the sidewalk. John had been here a lot recently and Sherlock had generally tried to avoid encroaching upon his privacy, even secretly, but today he wanted to see.
He entered the cemetery through a gap in the fence not far from his own burial plot and hid himself amongst the trees. John was at the headstone now, looking down, not speaking. After a moment he straightened himself and began to shuffle through the bag. Sherlock's phone buzzed in his pocket.
Get out of there. Now. – M
Sherlock held the phone in his hand and turned his attention back to John. He had just pulled a bundle of flowers – dark purple calla lilies – from the bag and had placed them at the base of the stone. He then took a thermos from the bag, sat down crossed-legged in the grass, and poured himself a cup of coffee.
"It's been a year. One whole year, you know that?"
He sipped the coffee.
It was evident that John hadn't slept in several days. His pants were dirty and he hadn't showered. A beard was beginning to show. He'd called Sarah this morning and she'd been the one to suggest the lilies. He had also called Harry just to check in and they had a brief row about how he was feeling. John had assured her that he was fine, as he always did. But she had known what today meant.
Something in the doctor seemed to wilt and Sherlock could see he was shaking. When he spoke again, his voice was strained.
"You just have no idea how difficult this is. For me. I.. I can't believe Sarah talked me into those flowers."
A choked laugh.
"I know you'd think they were stupid. But I don't really know what else to do."
John sniffed and wiped his face with his sleeve. Sherlock frowned. His phone buzzed in his hand but he stuffed it back into his coat pocket and switched it off.
"So, yes. A year now. Still d..gone. You always will be, I guess."
John took another sip from his coffee.
"But, I'm still hoping, you know. For that miracle."
There was a long, weighted pause. Sherlock wondered if he ought to leave. John straightened his posture.
"Because, despite everything, I still believe in you, Sherlock. You're, well, completely mad and a downright pompous bastard to the point where I'd like to take a swing at you but you wouldn't do this. I know you better than anyone else and I know it didn't just end like this. Not after everything you've done and everything you've been through. I know there's got to be something I'm missing, but I just can't figure it out yet."
John finished off the coffee and screwed the top back on the thermos. He pulled a moleskine from the bag.
"I've been taking notes. I don't know if you'd laugh at me or be intrigued if you were here right now, but I've been keeping track of everything I notice. Lestrade's been trying to talk me out of it. Your brother, too."
He stared for a moment at the notebook before tossing it aside. He rested his hands on his knees.
"I just.. don't know what you want me to do. I guess the point here is for me to just get over it and forget about everything, but I won't do that, Sherlock. Even if nothing else comes of it, I need to at least knowwhy all of this happened."
John started to reach for the flowers but stopped himself. He stood up, dusted himself off and started to gather his things together. He knelt down to pick up the notebook and leaned forward to touch the headstone. His fingers curled around the cold granite and his head drooped between his shoulders.
"Please. I miss you. And I'm sorry."
He remained that way for some time.
When he finally stood up, he wiped his face and took a few steps back from the headstone. He nodded.
John Watson turned and walked out of the cemetery.
Sherlock took his phone from his pocket and switched it back on. There were five messages from Mycroft. He closed the notification without looking at any of them and began to respond.
On my way. – SH
He pushed his way back to the sidewalk and lit a cigarette. He stood there for a few minutes before taking out his phone again and starting a new text message, this time to a different number. A number he knew by heart.