A/N: This could either be a oneshot plot bunny exorcism or a more developed story, depending on the response. Let me know what you think!
Amy Lindner read the headlines from English-language newspapers around the world every day. She considered it part of her job, as an editor for Newsworld magazine. Every day she filed away the triumphs and tragedies the world over, trying to come to grips with a globe that was spinning for too fast for her liking. She found herself nostalgic for college, and for the year she'd gotten to spend at Cambridge. And then she found herself feeling old.
She'd dabbled in chemistry and literature when she was there, simply because she could. She was a journalism major at the University of Michigan, and had leaped at the chance to spend an entire year in England learning international reporting. The extra classes were just to fill her credit requirement. That's how she had met Sherlock.
She leaned back in her chair, puffing out a breath. That had been, what, 10 years ago now? She hadn't spoken to Sherlock more than once or twice in the intervening years, and usually he was prying her for some kind of information. She didn't mind giving it to him. He was still probably just as attractive as he had been during college, and just as unattainable. He had this smile that could light up a room as long as you ignored the slight bitterness that had likely inspired it.
He was the smartest person she had ever met, even though he often insisted that his brother was smarter. Sherlock hated that, apparently he hated his brother, too, though Amy had never really clarified why. It wasn't any of her business. She was still learning to find that line between journalistic inquisitiveness and friendship. She was better at it now.
Of course, he had assured her several times that their snog sessions were no more than that. He rattled on about hormonal release and boredom and pheromones and all sorts of scientific mumbo-jumbo that made him feel better about the fact that he occasionally woke up next to her. She laughed, remembering all the deals he half-consciously cut with her to keep it quiet, though neither of them ever bothered to define what it was. He was already forging into areas of questionable practicality, and Amy had big plans for her return home. She had lined up an internship with the New York Times – the Times! – and as much as she thought Sherlock was cute, if a little eccentric, she wasn't ready to do anything to keep up with anything. And as he often told her, there was no way that he was leaving England.
She looked at the time on her iPad, then thought six hours ahead. It wasn't very late in London, and she picked up the phone that work provided for her. They could pay for this one; Sherlock had never been a talker, so she doubted checking up on him would take long. Just a little satisfaction to the nostalgia, that was all.
It rang five times. That was too many. Finally, a beleaguered voice answered, a voice that wasn't Sherlock's. She knew that for certain. She had heard him mimic endless people – his Alan Rickman was impressive, to say the least – but she could always tell his voice. This was the voice of grief. "I'm sorry, I was trying to get Sherlock Holmes."
"He… he won't be taking any more cases." She could hear the struggle in the man's voice.
"Oh, this wasn't a business call. I'm just an old acquaintance from university, just calling to shoot the breeze."
There was momentary silence on the other end of the line, and a woman took over. "I'm sorry, miss, but you say you're a friend of Sherlock's?"
Friend was probably a grander word that Sherlock would have applied to their relationship, but for Amy it was an easy "Yes, from university."
The woman on the other end sighed. "Then I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, dear, but Sherlock passed away yesterday."
Amy's throat constricted suddenly and unexpectedly. "What…what happened?"
The woman on the other was crying now. "I'm sorry, but you'll just have to read it in the papers… I can't…"
Amy found her professional bearings. "It's alright. I'm sorry to have bothered you. If there's anything I can do from here in Chicago, please, let me know. Goodbye."
Her fingers shook only slightly as she typed into her search engine. Sherlock Holmes obituary.
The London Times popped up and she clicked. She didn't believe it, not for a minute. She couldn't believe that Sherlock was a fraud. He'd analyzed every little bit of her – and she meant every bit – and was too accurate. He had helped her find missing keys, and when her purse was stolen, he'd tracked it down, lamenting all the while that it was mundane and boring. She'd read a few of his cases a few months ago, astonished by how unchanged he was in his thinking processes.
She read for several hours, consumed by this revelation that Sherlock was being maligned by the British press. The next day, the French journalists followed suit, switching their allegiance to a paunchy Belgian named Poirot. Then the Americans, always interested in a fall from grace, jumped on the bandwagon. Her boss tried to run the article, but she begged him for an extra week. She would fly to England and find out what was going on, and they would have an article to match the Times' glaringly inaccurate tell-all. Whoever this idiot journalist was… she'd never known Sherlock.
That was how Amy Lindner found herself aboard a Delta flight to Heathrow with a small carry on, every scrap of memory she had of Sherlock, and a few names scribbled on a piece of paper.
Mycroft Holmes, Diogenes Club.
John Watson, 221B Baker Street.
Richard Brooke, address unknown.