It was only a couple of weeks after Sherlock's jump that John got the first email.
Well, he'd gotten lots of email recently, all from nutters who swore at him or accused him or blamed him for Sherlock's (supposed) shortcomings. There were some from former clients with messages of support, it's true, but most were from nutters. And so it hadn't taken him long at all to cancel his email account and try to move on. As if moving on were even possible.
So, when he received an email on his new account—the one that only about three people knew about—he was suspicious. It looked like junk mail, or spam, but … something made him click anyway.
What he found was a link to a website filled with fan fiction—something he'd never even heard of. Apparently people would spend hours reading and writing their own stories about favorite characters from television or movies … he'd had no idea. And this link was to a forum of stories aboutSherlock. More precisely, about Sherlock and him.
To say he was appalled was to put it mildly, and when he saw some of the descriptions … truly horrified. How many times did he have to tell people he was NOT gay?
The odd thing, though, was that the email directed him to a specific author, CouldBeDangerous. So far, that writer had published three stories. The first was about John and Sherlock's first meeting and … it was almost creepy, the number of details it got right. He'd never told this story on his blog, not to this degree, so how could this stranger know these details? (Though, thankfully, it did NOT have John shooting the cabbie.)
The second story was about the Pool and Moriarty, as told from Sherlock's point of view. Again—filled with details a stranger couldn't possibly know.
John paused after reading it, thinking hard. It was clearly fictional, and not everything was perfectly accurate—but still. It was as if the writer had been there, and … how was that possible? The only other person who had been Sherlock. How could this writer possibly have this accurate an imagination? And who outside of Scotland Yard even knew Moriarty had been involved in those explosions last year?
When he clicked over to the third story … everything changed.
The third story was an imaginary account of what had happened to Sherlock on top of that roof. He knew it was imaginary, knew it couldn't possibly be true, but … how did the author know about the phone call that had pulled John away? And how could they possibly know about the last face-to-face conversation he had had with Sherlock? And to propose that Moriarty had forced Sherlock to jump…?
It was as if these stories were written by a ghost.
John stared at the computer screen in complete shock for several minutes before slamming it shut and pushing it away. He marched into the kitchen to get a drink and stood, breathing hard, trying to make sense of what he'd just read.
Ignoring the fact that a bunch of strangers were writing frankly creepy, even pornographic stories about him and his dead best friend was bad enough (and something which he'd rather not think about). But how could this one author know so much? It couldn't be someone who'd been spying, because even if there had been hidden cameras, the events in his story had happened at widely different locations and times.
Could it be one of Moriarty's people messing with him? He would think maybe yes, except … there was no way Moriarty knew what he and Sherlock had said in the cab the night they met.
If he didn't know better, he'd say that Sherlock wrote these stories. Except Sherlock not only never read nor wrote fiction (a waste of time, he said), but he was dead, and dead men tell no tales—literally.
But … those details.
John swallowed the rest of his drink and retrieved his laptop and left a comment.
"How dare you? The man is dead and you're making up stories? It's an insult to a great man's memory."
He clicked "comment" and poured himself another drink.
Moments later, his laptop announced that he had a new email. He opened it to find it was from the author.
"I'm sorry you didn't like it, John. People need heroes and maybe Sherlock is one of them after all? Friends help friends, after all, and I choose to believe that he would have sacrificed himself to save his only friend."
John just stared at the screen. What were the odds that this author could have essentially quoted two of the most private conversations he and Sherlock had ever had?
He clicked reply and wrote, "He would have, which is why I honor his memory and ask that you do the same."
"The average visual memory is only sixty-two per cent accurate, John. Do you have photos?"
John was starting to feel like he'd fallen into a Twilight Zone episode. Whoever this was had an eerie knowledge of his conversations with Sherlock. "Who the hell are you?"
A live chat window opened on his screen.
-CBD: The most human human being you know, John. One who misses you terribly.
John's cursor blinked at him as he tried to decide what was going on.
-JW: He is DEAD. Why are you doing this?
-CBD: It's all a magic trick. A fiction, if you will, to ease my only friend.
-JW: This isn't possible. Prove it.
-CBD: U.M.Q.R.A. And I still say it could have been the sugar.
John almost dropped the computer. There was no way … nobody knew about … but how could he …?
He stood up and paced the room, feeling more energized than he had in weeks. Could Sherlock actually be alive? But why would he write those stories?
-JW: Then why the stories?
-CBD: Who would believe fan fiction could be true?
John found he didn't actually have an answer for that.
A part of him still couldn't quite believe this was true, but he was finding fewer points for argument. This "CouldBeDangerous" just knew too much—including how John took his tea, that he preferred blackberry jam on his toast, and where he hid his illegal service revolver. (Which reminded him, he'd need to move that now, just in case.)
If this was an enemy, he knew far too much about John and John may as well just give himself up now.
If this was Mycroft … well, it was possible. He wouldn't put it past the older Holmes to have surveillance cameras just about everywhere. And the man might feel some bizarre sense of guilt or remorse to make him try to soothe John's grief. But … U.M.Q.R.A. Nobody knew about that, did they? Just him and Sherlock.
-JW: Good question. Why should I believe?
-CBD: Because you have more faith in me than anybody I ever dreamed of knowing, and are brilliant enough to know the truth when you see it. It's no crazier than invading Afghanistan or shooting cabbies.
-JW: I want to believe you.
And, God help him, he really, really did.
-CBD: I'm not dead. Wish we could have dinner.
John knew it was crazy, knew this was probably just some lunatic but it seemed so real.
-JW: So, what should I do?
-CBD: Tell stories, John. Isn't that what fan fiction is for?
-JW: I will if you will.
-CBD: I did love adventure stories when I was a boy. Did I tell you I wanted to be a pirate?
And just like that, the knot inside John's chest eased. Heaven help him if he was wrong, but this … this had to be Sherlock.
-JW: How long?
-CBD: As long as it takes. Could be a while.
-JW: But in the meantime—stories?
-CBD: Better than nothing, yes? And who would ever suspect a fan-fiction author of writing the truth?
So, John became a fan-fiction author, writing Real Person Fiction about John Watson in the aftermath of Sherlock's death. He didn't post too often, or too accurately about what he was doing, just to be safe—but the intent was there. To show how much he missed Sherlock, and how much faith he had in him. He also wrote stories about some of their (unpublished) adventures together, and found that writing up short stories wasn't all that different than writing his blog. He put more effort into it, though, and was surprised to find that he had a following.
And the stories by CouldBeDangerous? Riveting tales of high adventure. Mournful glimpses of a lonely man on the run. Simple statements of faith that it would all be worthwhile. He never went into detail about how his 'Sherlock' survived the fall. He never got too specific about names or dates of the supposed-adventures of an on-the-run Sherlock, but he managed to convey that his vision of Sherlock Holmes was alive and well out in the world, taking down criminals, making the world safe.
The two authors never commented on each others' stories and never exchanged another email. You would never know that they knew of the others' existance at all.
But one night, far too many months after Sherlock Holmes had died outside of St. Barts, CouldBeDangerous posted a story of the man's homecoming. He wrote of having taken down the last sniper in a daring raid, and the relief of finally being able to return to Baker Street to his dear and only friend, John.
John's email had alerted him to the new story as soon as he got home from work and he read it with a sense of wonder, trying not to let his hopes rise. He had no proof, after all, that this was Sherlock. It could have just been his deluded sense of hope all these years, wishing for that one last miracle he'd begged for.
But when he read the last line, where CBD's Sherlock rang the doorbell at 221B, he couldn't help a wild sense of anticipation rising in his chest.
And when, ten minutes later, the doorbell rang?
John Watson had never run so fast.
Notes: Not beta'd or Brit-picked at all, and written remarkably quickly, so any mistakes you see are entirely mine.