Chapter 1 - Right After

A/N - Reformatted

John pushed himself up and backed away from the clutching hands to the edge of the crowd, breath heaving, trying to avoid looking at the puddle of Sherlock's blood but unable to do so. His head was pounding and his stomach was nauseous. He couldn't think, couldn't move and somewhere inside his well-trained brain something was screaming that there was danger in that. He quickly assumed the mask that had so often served him well. With eyes set like stone he forced himself to survey his surroundings and assess the situation, to make a plan. He noted the crowd of distraught witnesses were now unsure of what to do. Some were on mobiles, some were looking up toward the roof, others at the blood soaked pavement, still others, its seemed, had already slipped away. He looked at his watch, 7:42 am. By the time he'd scanned the third floor corner window the sniper was gone.

He knew he needed to move, to do something even if he wasn't yet sure what that thing was. As he took a step his head swam a bit and he raised his hand to the bruise forming on the side of his forehead. Suddenly, the woman (was she a nurse, a doctor, an administrator?) with the long greying hair was back in front of him hands out solicitously. She was asking him his name. Was this his phone? Was there someone she should call? He took his phone without answering her and moved further back against the side of the building still surveying. He heard sirens approaching. Should he run? Was he a hostage or a fugitive now? Can you be a hostage if the hostage taker is dead? Sherlock! The name reverberated inside his head, over and over and over. He looked at the phone in his hand. He should report what had happened. People needed to know. Lestrade needed to know. Mycroft. He probably already knew and for that John felt sorry somehow. There was a flurry of activity now as the first members of the London constabulary arrived along with an ambulance. A little late for that, he thought. John pocketed his phone and remained standing against the wall. The constables were talking with the witnesses and cordoning off the area. A crowd was gathering beyond the tape. Two witnesses talking with a young constable turned and pointed to John. The constable eyed him before speaking into the radio clipped at his shoulder. Another constable soon joined the first and together they started to approach John. John instinctively stood up straight, let his hands hang loose at his sides, weight even over his feet, ready.

"John Watson? Are you John Watson?" the older officer asked in a commanding voice one hand outstretched, the other on the handle of his baton. John nodded. His head hurt. Both officers halted and assumed more defensive postures. The older one began yelling,

"Turn and face the wall, hands on your head." John blinked and winced at the sound. Fugitive.

"Now!" screamed the constable. About to be taken into custody for the second time in his life and the second time in 12 hours, John complied. The younger constable came up behind him quickly and pushed him roughly against the wall, baton pressed between his shoulder blades and kicking his legs apart. They searched him and cuffed him and then spun him around bodily. John swayed and nearly threw up. Sherlock! His face went gray.

"Oi, Watson?" the older office shook him. "Bring him over to the paramedics, Kendrick, he doesn't look good." With that the older constable spoke into his radio to report the apprehension of one John Watson.

The paramedic noted the bruise on John's head and shined a light into his eyes, something which John did not enjoy.

"Concussion, minor." John said quietly but with certainty pulling his head away. "Collided with a bicyclist. No blurred vision or vertigo," he lied. The paramedic looked to the constable and back.

"You a doctor, are you?" he asked derisively.

"Yes. Would you have a cold pack?" was John's even reply. The paramedic regarded him suspiciously then gestured to the rear of the ambulance and retrieved a chemical cold pack from his kit. He snapped the pack and held it out toward John who turned to look at Kendrick. The young PC paused uncertain and confused.

"Face the ambulance, on your knees," he finally ordered and John complied kneeling on the wet pavement. The constable un-cuffed John's hands from behind his back and re-cuffed his right to the grab bar on the ambulance.

"Thank you" John mumbled as he awkwardly stood back up and took the cold pack. He applied it to his head and leaned against the rear of the ambulance to stop the world from swaying. Sherlock!

After a few minutes, Kendrick's partner, PC Simons, returned.

"John Watson I need to ask you some questions. Do you understand?" Of course he understood. John stood, stared at Simons then nodded.

"Did you see what happened here?" Another curt nod but nothing more. The relatively tall constable was looking down at John apparently dismayed that he was not responding to his officiousness.

"Did you know the individual who jumped?" John flinched slightly before nodding again. Sherlock!

"Can you tell us the identity of the individual?" Simons pressed impatiently. John tried to speak but nothing came out. He closed his eyes for a moment and forced out measured breaths. He needed to report.

"Can you confirm that it was your associate, Sherlock Holmes?" Simons persisted.

John's reply was quiet but clear. "Yes."

- - - - - - / - - - - - -

Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade was exhausted. He couldn't remember ever wanting to go home and sleep more in his life but Sherlock and John were still at large. Damn, this was a mess, a complete, bloody, fucking disaster and it wasn't going to be over any time soon. The Bruhl boy was improving but still was in no state to answer questions. Sherlock and John had been missing all night. He'd just spent the last half hour in Pitts's office receiving the arse-chewing of his career. All the while, he'd constantly had to fight himself to keep from smirking at the chief superintendent's battered nose. John had really popped him good. He'd have to secretly stand John a pint for that sometime. His desk phone rang. Dimmock. Pitts was pulling in Dimmock to 'regain some perspective'. He couldn't stand the over eager git. Best to 'yes' him to death and get rid of him as fast as possible. After hanging up he stretched and looked up. Why the hell was that new guy, Tibbets, looking at him? He sank back into his chair and rubbed his face and wondered if he really had been thick. Was this really all a just a fabrication? Was Sherlock leading them all a merry chase just because he could? Sally Donovan was not dumb, after all. She was tough and smart and tenacious, a very good cop. Was she right? Had he become blinded by his belief in the 'world's only consulting detective'? Christ, even the title sounded preposterous looking at it in the rear view. Only one thing was certain, if Sherlock wasn't cleared, his career was over. Pitts had promised him as much. He sighed and glanced at the clock on his computer screen, 7:47 am. He'd been up for over 24 hours. Bone crushing fatigue weighed him down. Sally Donovan suddenly entered his office without knocking but then paused as if uncertain. She had her coat on.

"Sir, we've just had a report of a disturbance, a possible suicide, at St. Bart's." Lestrade interrupted her,

"Haven't we got enough going on at the moment..." but Sally continued grim-faced.

"Apparently John is there." Wordlessly, Lestrade stood up, grabbed his coat and followed Donovan out.

They arrived at the scene within minutes. The scene was crowded with almost a dozen witnesses, six PC's, an arriving forensics team and a crush of on-lookers and press. PC Simons started to approach Lestrade and Donovan as they ducked under the blue and white tape. At the same time Donovan caught sight of John at the rear of the ambulance. Grabbing Lestrade's arm she simply pointed. They ignored Simons and walked directly toward John, who was still holding the cold pack to his head.

"John? John, are you OK?" Sally started. John stood and fixed her with brutally cold stare. Donovan stopped short and retreated a few steps. Confused by John's reaction, Lestrade continued forward slowly.

"John, what happened? Where's Sherlock? John..." John regarded Lestrade, his neutral mask reasserted. Sherlock! He had to report. Lestrade needed to know. He straightened then spoke in voice that was quiet but composed. He's done this before.

"He's ...hmmm. He was on the roof." John tried to point up with his cuffed right hand. "Then he ... fell. I'm sorry, Greg, I tried. There was nothing I could ... I tried to talk to him. I tried but his pulse, there was no pulse." John's stone gaze moved from Lestrade's face to the bloody sidewalk.

"Jesus...JESUS..." Donovan cursed aloud. Lestrade looked utterly incredulous. Bringing his hand to his head, he opened and then closed his mouth, he turned away then back again. He reached out toward John's arm but John twisted away from the touch pulling on his handcuffs again.

"Damn it, who's bloody cuffs are these?" Lestrade exploded. "Get me the fucking key!" The scene was silent for a moment before PC Kendrick hurried forward.

"But, Sir, Mr. Watson assaulted a police ..."

"Doctor," Sally Donovan snapped turning back. Kendrick looked puzzled. "Doctor. Watson." she repeated enunciating.

Lestrade grabbed the key from Kendrick's hand and released John. John stiffly took two steps away from him looking around, assessing. Sherlock! Lestrade finally finds his voice,

"How? Why? Bloody Hell ... There must ... Are you saying ... S-suicide?"

At this John snapped his head back to Lestrade promptly closing his eyes and wincing at the pain caused by the sudden motion.

"Are you alright?" Lestrade asked stepping forward hand outstretched.

"I'm fine," John replied square-shouldered standing his ground. "I'm fine. Got knocked over by a kid on a bike." He brought the cold pack back up to his head.

"He needs to be checked out. We should bring him inside. Get him out of here." Donovan blurted adamantly walking forward. John tensed and stopped her with another stare. Lestrade stepped in front of her, his hands palms out toward John.

"What do you need, John?" he asked voice full of concern. "Should you see a doctor? Should we go inside? What do you need?"

"I don't need a doctor. I'm fine," he lied then paused looking aside. "They took him inside already." John said calmly. "They'll take him. He'll be brought ... Molly ... oh, Jesus. Molly!" John exclaimed wide-eyed and Lestrade instantly realized, too. Donovan was immediately talking into her radio demanding to know the location of the body.

"We have to go. She can't see, not without warning. We have to stop ... it." John turned and walked quickly toward the door. Sherlock! Lestrade jogged after him waving Donovan off. Near at the door another constable moved to intercept John hand on his baton. Lestrade quickly stepped between John and the new officer flashing his identification. He could sense John's building agitation as they moved through the hallways toward the mortuary.

"John, stop." Lestrade commanded as they reached the double doors.

"Stop. Just hang on. Please." Lestrade positioned himself in front of John again, between him and the doors hands out but carefully not touching him.

"Let me do this, OK? I can do this." John backed up taking several steps way from Lestrade. He leaned against the wall opposite the doors eyes closed, breathing heavily. Sherlock!

'He looks like hell,' Lestrade thought. Donovan appeared at the far end of the corridor. Lestrade nodded to her and then back towards John, she acknowledged holding her position. He let out a sigh, buzzed the door and entered the mortuary.

Molly Hooper jumped at the sound of the door buzzer panicking. This was too soon. Leaning in close to Sherlock's ear she squeaked,

"Oh God, they're here!" She then pulled the sheet up over his face. Thankfully the paralytic was still in full effect. Would it be John? John would never be fooled. She didn't think she could do this if it were John. She didn't think she could do this at all. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she went out to the front room. DI Lestrade was standing with hands in his coat pockets looking rumpled and distressed. Molly thanked God.

"Inspector Lestrade. Hi," she said awkwardly looking downward.

"Dr. Hooper I ... I ... there's been ... I need to ask you ..."

Molly took a shuddering breath. "He's here, Inspector. In back."

She turned away from him wringing her hands furiously. 'He'll know. I can't do this.' A small squeak escaped her as she led him back. Lestrade stopped short inside the second door staring at the shrouded body on the table. There was blood on the sheet near the head. Molly was speaking now her voicing shaking yet oddly professional as she folded back the sheet.

"... massive head trauma, several broken bones, probable internal injuries c-consistant with a fall from great h-height..."

Lestrade felt nauseous at the sight of the black curls plastered across a misshapen forehead. He turned away and Molly replaced the sheet.

"Are you OK?" he finally managed to ask when they were back through the door. Molly took another shuddering breath and nodded.

"Are you sure there's no one else who could do this for you?" Lestrade's face was grave.

"No. It's, umm, OK. I'll just finish..." Molly idly pointed back through the second door and Sherlock. Lestrade nodded and slowly opened the door to the hall. Through the opening Molly caught sight of John straightening himself as if in pain. She couldn't stop the tears from bursting forth upon seeing the haunted anguish in his eyes.

John locked eyes briefly with Molly Hooper through the open door only to have his mind explode again as she started to cry. It was really, actually true, then. All true. Sherlock was dead. He was in the morgue at St. Bart's, dead. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall forcing himself to breath as the door to the mortuary swung closed. Sherlock! Silence filled the hall way. Lestrade found himself staring a spot on the floor tiles. Fuck! was all that his tired brain could manage. After awhile, he mumbled,

"Come on, John," and John numbly followed the DI back outside.

John was barely aware of the stares as they passed the PCs and paramedics, the witnesses and the crowd. A barrage of camera flashes went off setting off an explosion of pain behind his eyes as he followed Lestrade to the waiting police car. Lestrade motioned for him to get into the rear seat and then climbed in next to him. Donovan wordlessly got in the driver's seat and pulled away as the cameras continued to flash.


A/N – OK, so this is my post-Reichenbach story. It'll be a multi-chaptered affair. Got to do something until next YEAR! Obviously, I have no idea what the actual resolution will be so I've just tried to write the characters as close to the Moffat/Gatiss characterizations as I can. I don't own anything nor do I pretend to. And of course this will all be AU once season 3 finally gets here.

I borrowed the name of the Chief Superintendent from one of my favorite fics, Ten Days by Engazed.

Not beta'd or Brit picked. I apologize in advance for any overt American-isms. We can't all be British. Besides I realized I like my spellings with a 'z'.

Reviews and comments are really, really, really appreciated. Really.