All That I Am, All That I Was
Summary: Without his memories of his life and of his friends, who is John Watson? Unusual circumstances place John in a very special kind of danger, while Sherlock fights against fear, doubt, and government obstruction to get him back.
Author's Notes: This was a ton of fun to write, but it was hard. I was in the midst of a rather insignificant bit of fluff about hypothermia (which I did finish and post before finishing this one) when I was struck by this scene: John Watson with amnesia, having dreams about his past life and trying to make sense of it all by explaining it to a sympathetic stranger. The tale grew in the telling, as J. R. R. Tolkien once said.
This is a complex story, with multiple points of view and flashbacks and a complicated timeline. Even after a dozen editing passes I'm still not sure that I got all the details correct, so forgive me if you find a few plot inconsistencies here and there. I know that you all are really reading the story for the characters and their relationship so I know that you will forgive me the occasional mistake or outlandish plot device.
As for the setting, this is very much post-second season and post-return of Sherlock. That's not the main point of the tale, though I do give it a bit of attention here. I really believe that the third season will bring us a Sherlock who is both still a bit shaken by the decisions he had to make at the end of the second season and who is changed by his time away. John probably won't change as much, except to come to know himself better. And now we've come full circle, because knowing oneself is really the heart of this story.
I do feel that I've gotten perilously close to melodrama here. Melodrama is when bad things happen to good people; true drama incorporates the weaknesses and failures of a character as part of the reason for the bad things happening. I think that this tale has a bit too much of the first and not as much of the second as I would like, but I still love it.
Warnings: None, really. Spoilers for the first two seasons. While there is suspense and (melo-)drama, there's not as much angst as I typically write. There is some graphic violence. This is officially a gen fic, no slash, although there is certainly deep loyalty and warm loving friendship here. You're welcome to look upon it any way you please. I have nothing against slash and read many varieties of it but it just doesn't set my heart thumping the same way that these friendship stories do. That's just the way I am wired.
Disclaimer: I don't own these boys and have no legal right to play with them, but I sincerely hope none of you will turn me in. Else how would I keep writing?
Please review and tell me what you liked best, so that I might give you more of it in the future. And as always, thanks for reading. Love to all of you.
oOo oOo oOo oOo oOo
Prologue: Dancing Just Out of Reach
"You asked to see me right away." She sat down across from him.
"Yes." He takes a deep breath. "It's about last night's dream. I had the one about the man on the rooftop, again."
"Ah." She drums her fingers on the table and is briefly silent. "That one is bad, isn't it? You're always upset after that one." She shakes her head. "I'm sorry. I had hoped that the bit of hypnosis last night would help your subconscious mind come up with some new memories."
"Well… It was different, at least. It was worse this time."
"This time… he did it. He jumped. I couldn't talk him out of it. He jumped from the rooftop, and I had to watch. And… he died, of course." It's hard for him to get the words out.
She holds his gaze. "And he was someone you cared about. A friend of some kind." It's a statement, not a question.
"Yes." His voice cracks, and he struggles for a moment to regain control. "I still don't remember his name, or anything else about him, really. Just his face, and what he was wearing... But he's in so many of the dreams… even the ones I haven't told you about. I think he must have been a very close friend, the only person I really …" He covers his eyes with his hands for a moment. "The emotion is there, even if I can't remember the facts." He dashes away the tears angrily, looks at her again. "It's a true dream, I know it is. It's a real memory. Whoever he was, I cared about him so much, and he's dead now.
"So there's no point. No point in thinking about who I once was, and no point in going back." He puts his hand forward, touches hers briefly. "I'll stay here, with you and your people and join you in your work. If you'll have me. Whatever I can do to help, you've got it."
Her face remains serious, almost impassive. Clear green eyes meet his steadily. "You still don't really know who we are, or what we are doing here. You still don't even know who YOU are. Are you certain you want to work with us?" She shakes her head. "You don't have to do this, if you want to stay a while longer. We can send in your fingerprints, like we talked about yesterday. We might still find out who you are."
"No. I've heard enough, and I thought about it all night." He swallows. "You've been more than kind to me. You took me in, even though I was unconscious and badly injured, even though I could have compromised your security. You… whoever you are, you have secrets of some kind, yes, but you are working toward goals. I have to believe they are something worthwhile. And I've overheard enough to think that we have a lot of common ground." He looks at her again, and he wonders if his eyes are burning with the intensity of his feelings. "I haven't got anything left to go back to, and there are so many things that I know how to do, even if I don't know who I am. I'm so alone now, and I owe you so much…" He stops. There it was again, that sensation. Lost memory dancing just out of reach, like a loose hair tickling his nose somehow.
She is silent for a moment. "I admit… we took you in, originally, to treat your injuries, and then to keep our operations base a secret. But we've all been very impressed with our mystery man, with his knowledge and skills." She smiles, a warm expression that reaches her eyes. "If you really feel that way, then I believe that we will be glad to have you join us. We can surely use you and your talents."