Word Count: 2166
Author's Note: Missing scene for Episode 2.03, "The Reichenbach Fall"
Disclaimer: Sherlock is a British crime drama created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and is produced by them along with Beryl Vertue, Rebecca Eaton, Bethan Jones, and Sue Vertue. The programme is based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a BBC production, and airs on BBC1. All characters, plots and creative elements derived from the source material belong exclusively to their respective owners. I, the author of this fan fiction, do not, in any way, profit monetarily from this story.
When Sherlock was bored and had nothing to do, or rather, when there was no case to occupy him, he would sometimes pass the hours arrogantly deducing things that were beyond deduction: the year that extra-terrestrial life would be conclusively discovered, the names of future monarchs that were yet to be conceived, the exact time that he would receive his next visitor. Once, he'd even stumbled onto the topic of his own funeral.
In a rapid-fire assault of words and with his classic confidence (bravado? bombast?), Sherlock regaled his ever-loyal audience of one with a list of particulars he was all but sure would come to fruition: He'd outlive his mother (she would die at 84 from the complications of a diabetes-induced amputation), but he'd die before his brother (as Sherlock's life span would be shortened by a bad temper, the abuse of illicit substances and excessive exposure to Anderson). Mrs Hudson's presence was a question mark, and he could only hope that John would still be alive as he'd be the sole attendee weeping over Sherlock's grave with anything approaching sincerity. John's protests that he would maintain a stiff upper lip in a proper fashion regardless of his grief were dismissed with a protracted eye roll.
Sherlock proceeded with the declaration that the rest of his "mourners" would compose a moderately-sized crowd (not too large as he had managed to effectively offend a majority of his acquaintances, but large enough as to afford himself a proper bereavement) of former clients, various members of the police force, obsessive fans, and persons seeking to ingratiate themselves to his brother—who would most likely still be slaving away in some bureaucratic capacity for Queen and Country until he was lowered into the ground. The lot of them would be idiots. His requests to be cremated and interred within 24 hours would be wholly ignored and instead Mycroft—his unfortunate next of kin—would deck the ceremony with the pomp and circumstance afforded the most faithful members of the Church of England, a pious display of absurdity Sherlock was glad he would miss.
John had offered an alternative scenario: by the time of Sherlock's death, he would no doubt be celebrated not only throughout Greater London but the whole of Great Britain and would have had any number of superlative awards, medals and honours (including knighthood) bestowed upon him. His funeral would be broadcast on the telly with accompanying tributes, and would be attended by the humble and mighty alike, all genuinely sad at the loss of a prodigious British institution. His obituaries (plural) would be written by dignitaries of society that would then be published in all distinguished periodicals, and people would weep onto the pages of the newspaper as they took their morning tea. Sherlock had returned a pointed look of condescension and replied with a simple, "You're wrong," then diverted his attention to the newspaper in his lap and the tea in his right hand. After a few moments of silence, he'd suddenly looked up with a pressing request: "If any attempts are made to bury me with 'the hat,'" he'd pleaded, "I implore you to do anything in your power—up to and including the use of firearms—to prevent it's happening." John had agreed to comply, a smirk on his face, and then took a sip of his own tea.
As it turned out, Sherlock had been right on some counts (as he typically was): he would have an Anglican funeral (his mother had insisted on it), his request to be cremated was indeed ignored (and not even remembered, actually), and he'd managed to precede Mycroft in death. John, to his credit, had been right on some points as well: Sherlock's obituary was, in fact, ubiquitous and the doctor had (just barely) succeeded in fighting back tears at his graveside.
In each and every other respect, however, and in any way that could possibly matter, each man had been horribly, horribly wrong.
There are things that a man could never deduce, never imagine, even in his wildest bouts of conjecture. Watching someone you love—your best friend—careen to his death was a kind of torture John wouldn't wish on the worst of his enemies. Even the horrors of combat couldn't match it. In the hours and days that followed, he walked round in a fatigued stupor, a protective fog. His numbness was only interrupted by the acute stabs of a voracious public fuelled by a salacious media intent on maligning his companion and all that he was. All that he'd been. John diverted his eyes when he passed the newsagent's shops, and the telly sat silent in the flat.
Mycroft had, of course, paid for all the arrangements, and Mrs Holmes had certainly had her input, but much of the actual legwork of had fallen to John—his role in Sherlock's life unchanged even in death.
Three days later, and at the appointed hour, Mrs Hudson and John had travelled to Mrs Holmes's house, where a hired car had collected them and brought them to the graveside service. Considering the rabid intrigue and infamy surrounding their loved one's demise, a private ceremony was thought best, and the vicar stood waiting for them by the headstone. Hand in hand, and with a woman on either side of him, John made the daunting walk from the kerb to the grave. The journey was not a hundred metres, but it seemed to be eternal and devastatingly overwhelming. Each step took them to an eventuality that was unthinkable, unbearable, and too excruciating to fully process. Stopping just beyond a rectangle of loose dirt, they waited a moment; Molly had phoned in the car to alert them she was on her way. John crossed his hands in front of him, willing them to stop trembling.
Moments later, there was the sound of an engine and Molly alighted from the car. Some male companion had accompanied her, but remained in the idling vehicle that was parked just down the walk. She was dressed as they all were—in muted colours and mostly black. She'd even worn dark shades. She was a girl that wore her heart on her sleeve, and Molly was fond of Sherlock, fonder of him than he often acknowledged, or cared to acknowledge. John had imagined that she would be racked with grief, virtually inconsolable. Instead she walked with a certain dignity and calm that surprised him. She was composed and sure-footed. She joined them quickly, acknowledging them with a nod of her head. With that, the vicar commenced with the ceremony.
In the end, only four people showed up for Sherlock's funeral. Well, five. John didn't hear, but the others saw and he sensed them turning their heads to the left. He followed with his own eyes and saw a well-dressed, ambling figure with a lowered head coming across the garden.
It was Lestrade.
John immediately set off in the man's direction. "No!" John called. "No! No! NO!" Within seconds they were face to face.
"Good morning to you, too," Lestrade said, clearly offended.
"GO!" John said, pointing in the direction from which Lestrade had come. "Right now."
Lestrade, however, didn't budge. "You can't dismiss me from this funeral."
"Can't I?" John replied. "Who's to stop me?"
Lestrade's face faded from indignant to something akin to empathy. "I know this must be a difficult time for you and—"
"Oh, don't bother!" John interrupted, disgusted.
"I'm serious, John," Lestrade insisted earnestly. "It's a shattering day for us all."
"Courtesy of yourself," John muttered, dropping his head to the side.
Lestrade was visibly accosted by the words. "How do you mean?"
"You know my meaning exactly," John spat back.
"Are you seriously implying that I somehow caused Sherlock to comm—"
Lestrade's words were cut off by John wincing, and action accompanied by a visceral grunt. That sentence coming from that mouth was more than he could bear. His friend's name sounded profane on the inspector's lips. His reply was terse.
"You didn't trust him."
"It wasn't about me 'trusting him,' John, it was about—"
"Bollocks. You set this entire grisly nightmare in motion. You gave credence to the accusations of his detractors, fuelling his desperation. You all but pushed him from the roof of that building."
"That's not fair," Lestrade said, frantic and taking a step forward. "I had a job to do, a duty to fulfil—"
"Right. Where have I heard that before?" John asked, facetiously turning his face to the sky, "Ah, yes, from Mycroft, another conspirator in his own brother's death."
"Mycroft?" Lestrade said. "What does he have to do with all this?"
"Doesn't matter now, does it?" He took a hard breath, trying to contain his fury. "At least Mycroft had the decency to stay away."
Lestrade remained silent.
John could barely look at him. He turned his face away. "Perhaps you should go as well." He went to leave, taking a few paces before turning back round. Lestrade hadn't moved, and was gazing at the other man; his mouth was agape and his eyes wide.
"John," he panted.
"The sad thing," John said, continuing, "is that Sherlock considered you a friend."
Lestrade faintly shook his head. "I seriously doubt that."
"Well he did," John insisted.
Lestrade seemed to consider the idea. "I suppose he told you that?"
"No, I deduced it," John replied.
Lestrade turned his eyes away dismissively. John took a step closer.
"I may not be the Reichenbach Hero, but I learned a thing a two about observation from the master. I saw it in the way he looked at you, the way he spoke to you. Whenever he was on the brink of a revelation and threw everyone else from the room, two persons remained: you and me. And it wasn't because you were the Detective Inspector," he said with a tortured laugh, "Sherlock stood on ceremony for no one. You were allowed to remain because you mattered to him. You—" he paused, then swallowed. He looked away, then back. "You were his friend. Hell of a lot of good it did him."
Lestrade eyes were glassy; his face was pained. It did nothing to appease John.
"Sherlock may have been a first-grade arse," he began, "but he was never a traitor." With that, he turned back round and marched off purposefully—his gate determined, his posture square—and he joined the other mourners. Once re-established in his position between the weeping women—each dabbing their tear-stained faces—he glanced back at where the inspector had been. Lestrade was gone.
"Shall we resume?" the vicar asked, and John nodded once in affirmation.
The clergyman spoke, opening with a passage from Psalms, but John didn't hear him. His own thoughts were too intrusive, scattered, and grotesque. Blinking images of the man they were memorialising filled his mind, recollections of times they'd had tea together, read the paper in silent tandem, interviewed perspective clients, or engaged in some mischief. Incidental, innocuous and even forgettable memories plagued his consciousness—distorted, swirling, foreboding fragments as if clipped from a horror film.
Unwittingly he let out a groan. All heads turned to him; he turned his head down in embarrassment.
"We now commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust: in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life."
With that, the vicar concluded the ceremony and the finality of it was…
Sherlock's mother walked off, clearly weak with grief and eager to sit. Molly took the older woman's hand and walked her to the car. Mrs Hudson clung to John a minute more, recounting aloud a number of memories she seemed to cherish in that moment only because they had been so infuriating once upon a time. Soon enough, she walked off as well.
Finally, there John stood, alone with what was left of the person he cherished most in the world. "One more miracle," he pleaded. "Just for me."
Even he knew, however, that such a request was as foolish as the notion that Sherlock, the great Sherlock Holmes, could ever have been a fake.
He walked off to join the others in the town car, saddened by the fact that he wasn't able to save the life of the man that had saved his own life in more ways than one.
Of course, if he'd looked cross to the trio of headstones just beyond the clearing a stone's throw away, John might have seen what he should have already known: that the great Sherlock Holmes was more than capable of saving himself.
He might have seen the moment in his friend's eyes when the hubris of lingering at his own funeral gave way to something darker, something full of gloom. Sherlock turned away, then slipped off into the shadows of London. He had to get back to living, and soon.
There was someone waiting for him.
Endnote: Thanks for reading! The world's best consulting beta (Lionne6) gave this fic the ole look-see. All errors are mine.