Based off of a bizzare entry on Tumblr. Ps: I do not claim ownership over any of the fantastic shows.
Once I started thinking about this though, it made me realize how much we owe Mike. If he wasn't such a chatty SOB Sherlock would have had a far shorter run.
"Who would ever want to live with me?"
John had meant the question to be rhetorical; he hadn't expected Mike to actual release a chuckle.
Mike shook his head, telling John that he had merely thought of something from earlier that day. For a moment he was tempted to pry, ask for more information, but what was the point? Nothing interesting ever happened to him.
He continued to sip his coffee in silence aside his friend. He paused and glanced to the side when he felt a pair of eyes boring into him.
Mike once again gave a weak shake of his head, "Nothing. I just thought I saw something on your back."
Their stilted conversation didn't last much longer, and they soon parted with half promises to meet for drinks sometime in the future.
The next night John watched the news as a fourth victim of a string of "serial suicides" was confirmed. He sighed and sat back, pondering just how suicides could be linked. Sure he was aware of cults and the like drinking the punch and donning their sweat suits, but four suicides over a stretch of time?
He pulled out his laptop, deciding he should continue with his damnable 'homework' that the shrink insisted was necessary.
Rather than his usual one line bemoaning a dull life, he left a few sentences discussing the bizarreness of serial suicides. He finished with just one question. 'Can there be such a thing as serial suicides?'
That night he fell asleep to dreams of desert and explosions, of men's shouts matching the symphony of the heartbeats pounding in his ears.
It was the noise of the morning news that woke him up. He had forgotten to shut the television off the night before. But rather than turn it off he watched as the news unfolded about a fifth victim. The man's picture was in one corner of the screen, and he looked genuinely peeved to be having his picture taken at all. He was tall, pale, and a mess of dark hair. Apparently his name was Sherlock Holmes, and he was something called a consulting detective. John wasn't sure what was more puzzling, that there had once been a man named Sherlock, or that there was such a thing as a consulting detective.
The report claimed the man had been recruited to help solve the mystery around the suicides. Rather, he became the fifth victim.
It was a pity John thought as he turned off the television. He looked like he could have been a good man.
He froze when he caught his reflection in the television's dark screen and checked it again. There was nothing there, but for a moment John thought that he had seen something on his back. He shook the feeling off and began preparing for an interview at a local clinic.
Two weeks into his new job he felt the cool eyes of a little girl on him. He turned and had asked her if everything was alright. She told him that there was something on his back. He told her he didn't understand. Before she could say anything more, her mother was telling her to stop making up stories and the woman was leading the girl from the clinic.
He mentioned the oddity to Sarah, but she only shrugged it off. Children had bizarre imaginations sometimes.
And so the calm and unremarkable civilian life of Dr. John Watson continued.
The media was abuzz with the news of more serial suicides. Right when the overdose cases had abruptly stopped, a new rash rose of people shooting themselves.
As John hobbled through the gray morning he couldn't help but ponder when London had become so depressed. Sarah had asked him the same thing the night before as they were closing up the clinic.
That's when John saw the advertisement for the circus. He grinned as he typed the number into what once was Harry's phone.
Perhaps Sarah would fancy going to a circus. Those always cheered people up, and John had been trying to find an excuse to ask the woman out.
Sarah had laughed, but agreed to the date. She said it sounded like fun.
But then they got to the address and it went to hell. First, it wasn't a circus, it was performing art. At least Sarah complimented that it could be taken as he had refined tastes. The former soldier rolled his eyes at that.
It only got worse. The woman who was serving as the 'ringleader' took one look at him and began wailing that there was something on his back. She wouldn't stop her screaming and Sarah begged for them to leave. But what did he do? He walked right up to the screaming Chinese woman and demanded what she meant.
A bit of a scuffle broke out after that, and John escorted Sarah home murmuring apologies the whole way. They agreed that maybe they should just remain friends, keep things from getting weird at work.
When he got home that night he realized he had left his cane behind. Like hell he was going back for it.
Then he stood in his small bathroom, staring at the reflection of his profile. There was nothing there. Not that there would be. Nothing interesting ever happened to him.
The front page news a few days after the circus incident was the death of a detective inspector. John read the article as he tried to be normal and just sit at a café and sip some coffee. Apparently the man had been in charge of the previous serial suicide cases and insisted that the shootings were linked.
He had linked them to a mob operating out of China. Apparently they found his body along with the body of a secretary of one of the previous victims.
He was shutting the paper when it was ripped out of his hands.
"Sorry," the paper snatcher apologized, "Thought I saw a friend. Just needed to check."
John watched as the young man's smile faded as he stared at the picture of the fallen inspector. "Ridell."
"I think they said his name was Lestrade, actually," John corrected.
The man scoffed, and said something about names being changeable. Then he tossed the paper on the table and walked off without a word. John was almost certain the man had never once looked at him.
And who on earth actually wore bowties anymore?
She was attractive. That was John's first thought. His next few thoughts on the woman were fairly similar. She must have sensed him looking at her from across the bar, and she met his eyes. Rather than glare or look away, she actually smirked.
He blushed and looked into his beer, only to look up as someone sat down next to him. It was the woman.
"You have fine tastes," she smiled.
John stuttered out what he sincerely hoped was a word of thanks.
He wasn't sure how it happened, but she had invited him back to her place. She claimed an ex was giving her a hard time and wanted the company. Then she asked if he wanted to have a bit of fun, and he was perhaps a little too drunk and agreed.
He had never been tied up before. She said she rarely did this for free, or with men. John assured her he was grateful. She said she wanted to keep him like a puppy.
He was unnerved by that last one.
After some acts that he had never once considered doing, especially with a complete stranger, he began to drift off to sleep. His last memory was of her stroking his face, whispering, "Little Johhny is such a good puppy."
"Thank you Ms. Adler," he murmured as he fell asleep.
He was woken from his sleep the next morning by a gunshot. He tried to leap from the bed only to find himself still restrained. He yelled in anger, and continued shouting until he was found by the woman's assistant and/or girlfriend. He never got the full story behind that one.
It didn't help that she was with the police when she came in. The sergeant investigating, Donaldson or some nonsense, had originally had the nerve to consider him a suspect. That was until one of her colleagues untied him from the bed and pointed out his fairly good alibi.
It was as he was leaving that he saw what had been the commotion. Lying on the floor, surrounded by her own congealed blood, was the woman. It took John a few minutes to actually understand what was happening. Irene Adler was dead.
According to Donaldan (or was it Dobson?) the hit looked professional. Someone had grabbed Irene when she was making coffee, and ended her with a single bullet.
In a daze he wandered past the coroner and a doctor whose name he never got and walked right out of the house. No one stopped him. He wasn't a suspect. He leaned against an old police box and struggled to control his ragged breathing as reality once more caught up with him.
He hadn't been able to protect her. She was dead. He should feel terrible. Yet all he could think of was that his leg didn't hurt.
His life was never dull after that it seemed. It wasn't dull for anyone.
There was a terrorist attack. It managed to blow up a whole plain in mid-flight. The whole affair heightened security in the US and UK. Apparently MI6 and the CIA were scrabbling for understanding on what had happened.
Then there was a car bombing in London. John had been only a block away when he heard the blast. It was instinct that had him running towards the familiar noise. The inferno had consumed two cars, and was working on a third.
John's attention went to a man who had been placed on the ground and was surrounded men in suits. All John was aware of was that the man was bleeding.
He raced forward, dodging one of the guards who tried to stop him.
"Let me through. I'm a doctor, I can help." He kept reciting the mantra as he came up to the older man. He knelt by the man's side, and soon saw there was little he could do.
The man was wearing what had once been an expensive suit, but between the burns and blood it had lost its luster. John reached out and grabbed the older man's hand, feeling a weak pulse.
"My name is John Watson, I'm a doctor. I'm here to help," he tried to reassure the stranger.
"Mycroft," the name was whispered softly, and for a moment John wondered if he had heard correctly.
John began to pull out a few spare bandages that he had left in his coat and was struggling to find where it was best to start on the man's ruined body.
"Any idea what happened, Mycroft?"
The man looked at him sadly. "Retribution." He then looked about and began choking out a woman's name.
John looked to one of the guards, but he mutely shook his head. John grimaced, so this 'An-something' woman hadn't survived the blast. He tried to distract Mycroft with more questions, keep him talking until the ambulances arrived. John looked around in frustration. Where the hell were the ambulances?
"Is there anyone you need us to get in touch with? Family?"
There was only sadness mixed in pain in Mycroft's eyes. He looked up at John and mouthed, "No."
That's when John saw the familiar flicker in the eyes, the moment the spark started to fade. It was a sight he never liked to see. It was the cue that he was losing a patient.
"Stay here Mycroft. Talk to us, talk to me." John refused to take his eyes from the broken stranger in front of him.
"John," the man choked, and the doctor leaned in to better hear the man, "what's on your back?"
Despite the heat of the burning cars not far away, John felt a chill at the words. "What? What does that mean?"
There was no answer though. The man name Mycroft died. John remained frozen next to him for only a few seconds before he began to seek out any others who were hurt. His training would not let him rest while there were those so close that he could help.
When the ambulances finally arrived he still remained, using their supplies to do whatever he could to help. He saved most, only losing one other. She had been a fiery red head, but the affect was ruined by the dark stains of blood that ran through her hair.
She kept yelling for a doctor, regardless of how many times John tried to reassure her that he was one. Her husband stayed by his side, helping where he could. The man told him he was a nurse, that he could help, but John doubted it. The woman had been hit by a second blast when she came running out to help. Large bits of metal had dug mercilessly into her body and John was surprised that she had lasted as long as she could.
"Amy," her husband begged as her eyes began to grow distant, "Stay, please. Don't leave me. River is expecting both her parents at Christmas. Please."
The man's pleading turned into pitiful sobs, and John remained silent as he watched his second patient of the day die.
Once there was no more John could do, he stood at the edge of the blast radius. He watched as the scene was taped off and sheets were placed over the bodies of those that had not survived. He noted the nurse had yet to move from his wife's side, his body shaking as he wept.
He was about to turn when a man approached him, quickly flashing an ID badge that john never got a proper look at. "Any idea what's going on here?"
"Car bombs, I think," John answered flatly. "I just came to help."
The man was glancing distractedly over the scene, trying to take in the whole mess. "And your name?"
The man glanced back toward him at that. "We've met somewhere, haven't we?"
John looked and suddenly realized where he had seen the man before. He had been one of the doctors at Irene's house. John attempted to explain as much without bringing up how the police had found him.
The man began nodding and was halfway through something about paradoxes when his eyes fell on the nurse and his fallen wife.
"No…no, no, no." John knew the tone, it was begging. The man left with no ceremony, racing over to the weeping man.
John left without a word, wearily walking back to the small flat he was renting. He had found it at a decent price. It was in the basement of an old building, and there was always a fait smell. The landlady had reassured him that it "was just the damp."
She was a kind woman, and John hoped that he wouldn't bump into her covered in blood.
In the weeks following the bombings it felt as though all hell was breaking loose in England. One of his army friends told him the graphic story of two people being mauled by wild dogs near Baskerville. The first had been a little girl who had snuck out to look for her lost pet rabbit. The other had been a fairly well off young man.
Then there was the outbreak of paranoia and violence in a small town just a little south of Baskerville.
Then in London itself there was outbreaks of gang violence. There were rumors that it was all tied to one organization, trying to take control of the country, or churn it into chaos.
The government was reeling to keep up with the chaos. It was as though they were caught by surprise, as though whoever typically handled these types of things had just checked out. But that was impossible, there was no way for just one person to keep the British government going.
There had been riots one night. The next night the police overreacted and ended up killing a kid who had just been spray painting an abandoned building.
It only created more riots in response. The world was twisting upside down.
John took his sorrows out in a bar. For a while Harry had been joining him, until the night of the crash at least. Then John was alone, until he met a young medical examiner who seemed to enjoy drowning her sorrows as well, her name was Molly.
From what John could tell, she had always been alone and had fallen head over heels when a man had shown interest. At first he had apparently been sweet, and from the stories John wondered if the man had been using her as beard. But then he began to get violent. Toying with her. Playing mental games on her, games that sounded like mild psychological torture.
Molly almost lost her job after she left him. But with the upswing in violence came a similar surge in bodies, and the morgue needed every hand they could get.
John sympathized. His late nights and hangover had affected his work at the clinic, but they were so swamped that they couldn't afford to lose someone who was used to working in chaos. London was turning into a battleground, and it needed medics who were used to such conditions.
He was a shell, and she was shattered. They were a toxic pair, but they anchored the other in the screwed up world they lived in.
A month after meeting Molly, a group of students was protesting for peace. It was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration. Not that things ever went that way anymore.
It had been a blood bath. John and all other doctors on duty at the clinic were called in to help. When he got there John actually missed Afghanistan's war torn dessert. It was almost serene compared to the bloody monstrosity that was filling the civilian street.
John went from body to body, looking for any survivors he could help. That's when he saw the boy; he was struggling to stand despite several bullet wounds. He said his name was Luke. He kept telling John he needed to get home and let his mother know he was alright. John did his best to make sure he was comfortable, and he struggled to get the young man to a gurney.
Luke's pulse was starting to slow as John loaded him onto an ambulance. The boy looked out the vehicles doors and let out a ragged gasp.
John leaned closer, asking what was wrong. But the boy shook his head.
"I think he means me," a voice spoke up from behind. John turned and found himself looking into the sad eyes of the nameless doctor who seemed to follow him from one bad moment to the next. He turned his attention to the boy who medics were slipping an oxygen mask over, "I'm going to take care of this, Luke. We're going to fix this, you trust me?"
The boy weakly nodded. And the man smiled. "Good. It's the bowtie isn't it? You can always trust someone in a bowtie."
John jumped out of the ambulance and stood by the strange man's side as the ambulance pulled away, hopefully taking Luke to safety.
"Now, you" the man glared at John. "How is it that every time something bad is happening I turn around and find you there?"
"I've been wondering the same thing. Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor."
"Yes, well there seems to be a lot of us here," John began to walk away, trying to see if there were any more students he could save.
"No no, you're coming with me," the Doctor tried to stop him.
"There are lives that need saving!" John yelled at the man as he tried to walk away once more.
Then the Doctor said the only thing that could get John to stop. "What's that on your back?"
The strange man looked into his eyes, dark eyes pleading. "If you come with me, we can probably save all of them."
So John followed the nameless Doctor as they ran down streets. John had no idea how the man managed to keep up a steady ramble as he ran. If he didn't know any better, he would think that the man never stopped for a breath.
"It's all you. Everything comes back to you. Brilliant, just brilliant. You changed the entire world…"
John was relieved when they finally stopped by a police box. John was surprised that there were any still out on the street.
"What do you mean this is all my fault?" he hissed out.
"Follow me, I'll explain," without much fuss the man threw the doors to the box open and strode through. John stared at the open doors in shock. "Coming Dr. Watson?"
John blinked, how could the Doctor sound so far away when he was in that small box?He leaned his head through the doors and froze. He took a step away from the box and circled it before looking in again. It was bigger on the inside.
The Doctor looked at him over a counsel in the center of a large, metal filled room. "I promise to explain, I really do. But first we have a more pressing issue to fix."
John continued to stare in shock at the room that really shouldn't be there.
"Get in, John, chop chop." John found himself listening to the orders and walked into the bizarre room, the doors shutting behind him.
"What?" John asked weakly as he looked around.
"This is my time machine," the Doctor explained quickly. "Now sometime time can go wrong, that's what's happening out there. We're going to fix it. We have to fix it."
John looked around, and decided to let the bizarreness of time travel rest for the moment. "Sorry, but how?"
"Because John Watson, you are very important. You didn't do something, and world changed. Not many people can do that. Sure a choice will alter a few things, but this? You are very special."
"No, I'm not," John spoke forcefully, "I'm just John Watson. Nothing ever happens to me."
"Oh that's boring, don't be boring." John titled his head at the words. For a moment he thought that they sounded familiar. The Doctor continued, oblivious to the man's distraction. "Here, I can prove it to you."
He led john to a large mirror that was surrounded by large lights and a various wires. John looked at his reflection as the Doctor placed him in front of the large pane.
"It's just me, and we're wasting time," John yelled at the man in frustration as the Doctor played with several wires.
"Just keep watching. There we go," the Doctor jumped back as the mirror began to hum.
John looked at the man and wondered if he really was insane. The Doctor rolled his eyes, "Don't look at me, look in the mirror."
John complied and turned to once more face his reflection. Yet this time he didn't look at his tried eyes or paled skin. No, all he could focus on the massive creature he could see just over his shoulder. It looked like a beetle, but it was far too large. He probably could have said anything. He could have yelled. Spat profanity. But instead he found himself speaking the words that had so haunted him for the past two years.
"There's something on my back."
"It's a time beetle, it can change reality. It takes you back and changes one simple choice. Sometimes it doesn't do much. Other times, in special cases, it can change the world."
"I'm just a doctor," John tried to counter, never taking his eyes from the mirror or that thing on his back, "I was discharged from the army. There's nothing special about me."
"You were meant to meet someone, that's how these things usually work. And trust me; to that person you are probably the most important person in the world."
John risked glancing at the Doctor for a short moment. "I'm alone, Doctor. There's no one like that for me."
"In this reality. But in the one that you were supposed to have, you will have someone like that."
John wanted to believe him, but it seemed too good to be true. Was it possible that there really was something better than this?
"Think of all the people that could be saved."
John blinked and continued to stare at the beetle's reflection. All the while he thought about all the lives being lost in this violent world.
"How do we fix it?"
The Doctor smiled. "Ask a question at the right moment."
This got John to turn from the mirror, "Excuse me?"
John looked around the park in shock. There was no litter, it was well maintained. People were actually strolling, not racing from one safe spot to the next. He hated the fact that he couldn't feel or see the monster on his back. The Doctor assured him that it was still there. Apparently it would only come off if John could fix this one moment.
That's when the oddest thing possible happened to him. He saw himself limping down a path right in front of him.
Well, nothing like going completely insane and saving the world, John mused as he ran towards his past self.
The younger John looked back and stared in disbelief. John could only imagine what he looked like. Pale, tired, and covered in the blood of the victims from the student massacre.
"What the hell…"
"Just listen; there isn't a lot of time. You're going to run into Mike Stamford. Don't just brush off what he says; get him to tell you about this morning."
John cut himself off, "It doesn't make sense, but trust me." He checked his watch, "You have to go. Good luck."
John could vaguely recall this happening. He remembered being confused, following his advice and walking down the path that had been pointed out to him. Then he heard someone else call his name.
He raced back to the Doctor and his mysterious box, praying his past would make the right decision. As he got close he saw the strange man standing in the doorway of the box.
"When will we know?" he panted as he approached.
The Doctor checked a plastic watch on his wrist. "Soon."
John tilted his head. For someone who knew the exact moment a timeline was corrupted, that hadn't seemed very precise. "How so…" before he could finish his question he collapsed to the ground only feet from the Tardis.
There was pain, so much pain. He felt as though his skin had become ice, and his blood a horrible fire. It felt like his entire body was rejecting itself.
"Doctor," he gasped as the world began to shimmer and flicker. John was suddenly afraid. He felt as though he was dying.
"I'm sorry, John," he whispered, finally leaving his box to crouch next to the fallen man, "The good news is that it's working. You asked the right question."
John clenched his jaw, trying not to cry out in the busy park. He could barely hold his torso up and his sight was failing.
"What's it mean?"
The Doctor smiled, "It means everything is going to be alright."
John could no longer keep his eyes opened. The sounds of the park were growing distant. He felt a breath on his ear, and heard the Doctor's last words to him. "My regards to Sherlock. I'll see you soon."
The world spun very quickly and John struggled to maintain his balance. The damn fortune teller was screaming, and there was a series of angry clicks from his shoulder.
Suddenly a weight fell from his shoulders and John found himself staring at the damn beetle from the other world, his other life. Without thinking he grabbed a large rod of decorative bamboo, wrenching it from its vase, and slamming it down on the bug's body. Once it stilled the woman was finally silent and Sherlock was pushing through the beaded curtain that separated them from the rest of the store.
"John?" the familiar voice asked. The John saw Sherlock's eyes fall on the body of the beetle. The world's most infuriating (and only) consulting detective was about to actually touch the creature when John yelled at him, perhaps a little too loudly.
"Sherlock, don't! We're burning it, destroying the ashes."
"You can't be serious. I've never seen a specimen this size. I could use it to…"
John didn't wait to hear what Sherlock would do with the body. He brought the bamboo down on the repulsive thing until he heard the shell crack under the assault.
He turned towards the fortune teller, telling her to get him plastic bags so he could bundle up the insect.
Once she left he looked at Sherlock. He was there, he was really there. The other life already felt like some horrible dream. But it meant that Sherlock Holmes had come back from the dead twice for him. Without hesitation he wrapped his arms around the taller man's torso.
"What was it?" Sherlock asked, not bothering to reject John's attention nor question it for the time being.
"Time beetle. It undoes one person's choice and changes their life."
At this Sherlock pushed John away and checked the man's eyes and pulse. John glared at his friend and insisted that he hadn't been drugged.
"If I were to believe this, then what choice did it undo?"
John shrugged. "I hadn't asked Mike about what he found so funny. He never told me about this infuriating genius he knew of who was looking for a roommate."
Sherlock tilted his head and stared at John. "Was it that bad?"
John leaned into Sherlock, feeling tired despite not having actually dealt with the long day of the other reality. "You took that pill you stupid git. You died on me. Again."
John was happy that the last word at least made Sherlock look a little sheepish. It made John remember the argument they had right before they had entered the shop. They were supposed to be investigating a diamond smuggler, and had gone to the store to follow-up on a lead. On the way there they had once more gotten into a fight about the fact that Sherlock had yet to apologize over faking his death for several months. John had felt like Sherlock's pity case being brought along on the investigation since Sherlock had functioned so well without him.
He was supposed to distract the fortune teller, and he asked him to think back to the most important decision of his life. He had thought of moving in with Sherlock, but as he thought he realized it was Mike who had gotten them together. And then he got a chance to truly sample life without Sherlock Holmes.
John shuddered; the world had gone to hell without Sherlock. But it was only because Sherlock had actually needed John.
"Can we just pretend the last fight didn't happen?" John asked weakly as the woman finally came back with a handful of trash bags.
"I've been considering deleting it; it was taking up valuable space."
John bagged up the creature and they were soon out the door. Lestrade crossed the street from where he had been waiting for them.
"Anything?" he asked. John smiled at the familiar frown that came up on the man's face when Sherlock confirmed the woman had nothing to do with the smugglers, and that her only crime was overpriced trinkets and a small cannabis farm in a broom closet.
"What's in the bag?" Lestrade asked.
"John thinks it's a time traveling bug that changes history. I think we need to take him to the hospital."
"Sherlock, I'm fine." John insisted.
"Indeed you are!" a voice crowed from behind the trio. They turned and John found himself staring at the Doctor. "Glad to see you feeling better, John."
John nodded. "Doctor. So you remember then?"
"Timey wimey, wibley wobley. I remember lots of things that won't happen. Sorry it took me so long, I had to check in on some friends," seeing the question in John's eyes, the Doctor added, "They are doing good, fantastic even." The Doctor looked at the two other men, "And this must be Sherlock and Greg. Lovely to meet you both. Now if you wouldn't mind stepping into my box, I have a few things you might be interested in."
John didn't even hesitate to enter the police box that none of them had previously noticed, handing the bag of dead bug to the Doctor as he walked by. As he entered he smiled at Sherlock's eyes flashing around the impossible space and hearing the bizarre man called the Doctor ask Lestrade if he had ever been interested in big game hunting.
As a grinding sound surrounded them, John made a mental note to send Mike a much belated thank-you card.