A/N- This is a sequel to "Come Forth, Lazarus", which is itself a sequel to "After the Fall." They'll make much more sense to you if you read in this order!
This is a modern-day retelling of a real case, which you can find easily elsewhere online. The case against George Edalji, sometimes know as the Great Wyrley Outrages, was worked on by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. The result was the first Criminal Court of Appeal, established in 1907.
For the fifth time in three days, John turned on the hall light switch and remembered that the bulb had blown the previous Sunday. This wouldn't have posed any problems six months before. But now, number three on the ridiculously long list of things John was Not Allowed To Do, courtesy of Dr. Hanrahan, was: raise arms above shoulder level.
Couldn't run. Couldn't climb. Couldn't lift anything heavier than Casper and that included Toby, who was a great lump of a cat and who didn't understand at all why the sudden change in John's body language. He was taking it personally.
Hopefully, that last rule wasn't going to last much longer. John wasn't entirely sure, having little personal experience as yet, but he suspected that a baby quickly became heavier than a cat.
Stay away from crowds. Avoid being cold or wet. Have the most careful sex imaginable.
It was all quite intolerable.
But just then, the hall being in deep shadow at three in the afternoon was most intolerable of all.
He'd kept meaning to remind Molly about it. A chair and two minutes of her time would be all that was needed. But he'd kept forgetting to mention it, and Molly had other fish to fry. She was rushing out the door to work in a disorganised flap most mornings, and coming home tired and hollowed-out ten and sometimes even twelve hours later.
But at least she'd stopped throwing up every ten minutes, and was back at work again at all. Those first two weeks after the hospital had been the worst for both of them. She had made the sweetest and most patient nurse in the world - and John had found, with a lot of bitterness and self-loathing, that he made the surliest, sulkiest, most difficult patient in the world. It sure as hell hadn't been a time of quality marital moments. John was fairly certain they'd both hated every second of those weeks.
Dismissing the light with another flick of the switch, he went back into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Before leaving for work, Molly had taken the coffee down off the shelf where the canister usually lived, for his easy access. Can't lift arms above shoulder level. He grudgingly boiled the kettle.
There was one thing he could boldly go ahead and do without fear of that disappointed, worried look Molly had perfected so well…
He refused to go back to Ella, or to any other kind of therapist. But the basic principles he'd learned over all that time in therapy had stuck; get it out before it eats you alive, even if you only write it to yourself. The blog was a thing of the past - it had been inactive for years now. But that hadn't stopped John from opening the occasional Word document and furtively pecking out something awkward.
I don't think anyone understands how bored I am.
I'm trying to not blame anyone.
They said they didn't have a choice.
Sherlock saved my life. He explained it and I believe him.
Things are going well.
I'm alive, Sherlock's alive, Molly's alive. We're having a baby. Everything's great.
Inevitably, the program would ask him: do you want to save changes you made to Document1?
And he would click the appropriate button: no.
But aside from the occasional "blog post" that nobody ever saw, there was always the rest of the internet. Some sites that could be discussed in polite company. Some that couldn't. And then there was Sherlock's website, which was an odd sort of no-man's-land between the two, and which he had necromanced back to life.
I'm alive and have resumed work. My number has changed. See side panel. Thank you.
- SH. February 16th.
No work since then, apparently. No work that Sherlock was prepared to actually take, anyway, though as the days and then weeks had passed since then, John had perceived Sherlock getting more and more bored. His resistance was low. Over two months after his grand re-entrance, he was probably prepared to take on an escaped rabbit by now.
Loading up the website, coffee at his elbow and both cats at his feet, John immediately noticed that there had been an unusual lot of activity since he'd checked things out, the weekend before.
Dear Mr Holmes,
Forgive me for contacting you like this, but I couldn't get an answer to my email. My name is Caroline Edalji. My son George has been sentenced to twelve months in prison. My niece suggested you and gave me your website. Please help. We are willing to pay.
I don't work for money.
Then work for good.
No, I don't work for good, either.
We've heard such good things about your work. I've been looking through your past cases here on your site. Quite extraordinary. I'm sure you'd be able to help. Could I phone you?
I don't talk on the phone. Text only.
Then I'll come to London to see you. We need help, please.
Then pray that your case interests me. What has young George done, then?
He's been accused of pony mutilation.
The eleven minutes between this shocking proclamation, and Sherlock's reply, gave away the fact that his interest had been piqued. He was possibly even searching online. The corner of John's mouth twitched slightly as he read on. Pony mutilation? Sounds like something Sherlock would sink his teeth into. In a manner of speaking.
I'm the world's greatest detective, Mrs Edalji. It sounds like your son needs the world's greatest lawyer.
Yep. Google. The bloody cheater.
As I said, lawyer. That is what lawyers do.
Mr Holmes, just an hour of your time. Please.
Another gap in the posting times- this one was just over half an hour.
Text me the details. My mobile number's on the sidebar.
Hope you take the case Sherlock. You've been growling at everybody like a bear with a sore head lately.
Thank you, Inspector. I don't need your commentary on the situation. Incidentally, please learn how to use a comma correctly.
All this was timestamped between 7:03 and 8:46 the night before last. John had spoken with Sherlock at length just the night before, and he hadn't said a word about any of it.
John snapped the laptop shut in a rage (regretting it at the last minute; can't-afford-any-new-gadgets-we-are-now-a-one-income-family.) He got up, found his phone on the kitchen bench, and shot off a text to a well known number.
When were you going to tell me you got a case?
I haven't got a case. I saw Caroline Edalji yesterday. Boring.
You saw her WITHOUT ME.
You'd have been as bored as I was.
Seriously doubt it. And why do you keep signing your texts anyway? That's so annoying. Nobody signs their texts.
Nobody normal signs their texts.
Stop sulking and answer your phone.
Answer your phone, John.
Don't ignore me.
I am calling Molly in precisely three minutes if you don't answer your phone.
And Mrs Hudson.
"Oh, that's mature of you," John snapped down the line as he picked up twenty seconds later. "Yes, great, let's call half of London and worry them just because-"
"Mature?" Sherlock sounded shocked and aggrieved that anyone would dare accuse him of immaturity. "John, you're the one being childish about this. All because I saw a client without you -"
"You've never seen a client without me before. Not once. That's not the way we work, Sherlock."
"Oh," John said, briefly and quietly. "Um. It's… like that, then."
Sherlock sighed heavily. "Like what?" he asked peevishly. "John, I had a mad parson's wife spamming my website. To get her to stop it, I went to Staffordshire to see her yesterday. The case was utterly boring - some petty little village drama."
"A parson's son who's been accused of gutting ponies? Sounds bloody interesting to me."
"I applaud your choice of words. Anyhow, it isn't interesting, and I'm not going to take it. The end."
"You seemed to be having quite the interested conversation with Mrs Edalji on your website."
"I changed my mind."
John paused thoughtfully for a few seconds. Sherlock didn't bother with online searches unless he was interested in the first place. Nor did he go out all the way to Staffordshire for something he thought would be boring. He wouldn't walk from his bedroom at Baker Street to the kitchen for something he suspected might be boring.
"Sherlock, listen, you know, I want you to take cases," he said. Just then Toby, demanding attention, jumped onto the kitchen counter beside him. John swatted vaguely in his direction. Not-allowed-to-lift-the-cat. "I just want you to take cases with me. I'm going stark raving spare over here all day with nothing to do."
"Any reason less... self-interested?"
"Because you..." John paused. "Because we operate better when I get 'round victims and witnesses and suspects, and you do all that looking around that I can't do."
"I'm capable of interviewing people on my own," Sherlock protested.
"No, you're not. Look, I don't know who's been in your ear about this -" John suspected strongly that it was Lestrade - "but I'm not made of glass. It's been four months since I took that bullet. I'm fine."
"How's the physiotherapy going, John?"
A second later, Sherlock found himself listening to the hum of a disconnected line.
Hmm. Perhaps… perhaps he shouldn't have made that remark about the physiotherapy.
No, John needed to grow up about this. He was not a consulting detective himself, and he was of absolutely no use while he was still unable to fulfill some basic tasks. Like defend himself.
Sherlock threw the phone petulantly down onto his bed, so hard that it bounced off the mattress and hit the floor with a loud, satisfying clatter. Ignoring this - even though the phone may have broken, judging from the sound - he stalked back down the hallway. As he reached the end, he adopted the almost-manic false smile that was the best he could do under certain social circumstances and which made most people extremely uneasy.
"Dreadfully sorry about that. Personal matter. Not important," he said cheerfully, addressing the middle-aged, sleekly dressed woman sitting in the old patchwork armchair. John's armchair. He threw himself into the one opposite her, perched up on the back of it like an owl, steepling his fingers to his lips and looked penetratingly at her with his pale grey eyes.
"Now tell me, Mrs Edalji, clearly, concisely and in a non-boring fashion. How did all this start?"