Title – Made To Feel Like Shadow
Companion To – A Question Of Assistance
Author - Moonbeam
Rating – A bit of swearing.
Spoilers – Season 2 of Sherlock (Reichenbach heavy) and the face of people from Skyfall
Disclaimer – Alas, I own absolutely nothing. I just play…a lot :)
Summary – The one where John watches Sherlock fall and discovers that his life is almost a shadow without the consulting detective until the reappearance of Bond and the dead detective. Companion to 'A Question Of Assistance' – can be read without that so long as you don't mind seeing Bond rock up. John POV.
Honestly, this turned into more of a John's POV after Reichenbach and Sherlock coming back than a true crossover.
Author's Note – I have been toying with this since I posted its companion.
Made To Feel Like Shadow
John had thought that the day he woke up in a post-op ward in the middle of a warzone that he would never be in that much pain again. He had thought that the months of rehabilitation and the second surgery and more physical therapy would have ensured that he would never again have to go through something that would alter the very foundation of his life.
Then one day in front of Barts; his gunshot and everything that came with it was reduced to something like a bad night's sleep. The pain of that was nothing but a shadow next to this.
Sherlock. Dead. Sherlock was dead. Sherlock Holmes was dead.
John's world didn't just shift or tilt or change it collapsed around him and he hadn't even realised how they have become so intertwined that the loss of Sherlock felt like the loss of his entire left side.
He had killed for Sherlock and offered to sacrifice himself. He had put up with experiments and manipulation and never being sure that Sherlock actually saw him sometimes and yet he had missed something so very fundamental in all of that. Sherlock was the love of his life. Platonic or sexual or nothing that could be defined it didn't matter because every part of John which knew how to love had loved Sherlock. He hadn't even realised that the tall detective had a right to claim ownership of his very cells until it was too late and he was dead.
John's world had collapsed down into two periods. Sherlock. No Sherlock. He remembered the time before 221B and cases and Mycroft and Lestrade but he didn't think about it as much as it was the period Before Sherlock and now he was buried in a pit of After Sherlock. Sherlock was dead and he'd tried to make John lie and ruin the only thing he had left of Sherlock - his absolute and unwavering belief that Sherlock had been real.
If you saw him on paper. The experiment at Baskerville or the fact he was a 'sociopath' then maybe you could believe but John knew Sherlock. Knew his family and his history and all the little things that came with living with the man. John knew Sherlock's soul and it wasn't pure but it was honest and real and Moriarty was lying.
John did not grant Sherlock his dying wish though he could not deny him that either so he refused to say anything. Newspapers asked him, TV reporters asked him and he said nothing. But the thing that broke him were people, just everyday people. People on the street who recognised and asked and John couldn't lie. Sherlock was real, was all he would say before he walked away.
Two weeks and three days.
Two weeks and three days after Sherlock...killed himself; those words woke John in a cold sweat often and left him feeling sick. Two weeks and three days after...was the first time that John saw it. On a wall, down a side street he had ducked into. In bright pink fluorescent spray paint.
I believe in Sherlock Holmes.
It was not the last time he saw those words but that first time had ended with him sitting on an overturned box in some doorway sobbing at quarter past two in the afternoon. After that he saw the graffiti regularly, on walls and fences, too damned regularly. At first it made John want to go back to Afghanistan, find a cave and live there for the rest of his days but he didn't, he walked past them not looking – never looking.
After the first time he went to Mrs Hudson.
Tea and sympathy was the old phrase, but it was more. They had both loved Sherlock, loved him even knowing everything they did and Mrs Hudson never asked. There would be a cup of tea and cake and then a hug, solid and healing, before he left.
Later, weeks and months later people would come to him. They had met Sherlock – he couldn't have made it all up, he couldn't have controlled the things in their lives and they believed.
John tried to leave Baker Street but he couldn't and Mrs Hudson would cry whenever he mentioned it. In the end he stayed, started working at an A&E – it was hard work but without the limp he was fit to operate and it gave him a little taste of adrenaline, even though the taste of it was sour on his soul.
Lestrade would come around – they'd sink their guilt in beer and whiskey until they didn't feel the ghosts of all the things they could have done to save Sherlock between them.
Mycroft called. Tried but John's anger and condemnation was pointed at Mycroft as well as Moriarty.
Q, Sherlock had always called him Q, sent emails. But they had never met.
And then, occasionally John would get a package and inside would be something innocuous and it would explode into a rain of latex gloves or a bouquet of flowers and John would remember the unnamed brother - not that Sherlock had ever mentioned him, Mycroft let slip one day.
John was being comforted by men he had never met who shared his loss. Sometimes John would feel the weight of all that Holmes' brainpower bearing down on him and knowing that he was broken now. Broken in ways nothing would fix. Broken in ways that made him watch how he drank and made Mrs Hudson promise to watch over him.
That was how his life passed, days off with Mrs Hudson, visits from Lestrade, unanswered phone calls from Mycroft, emails from Q and unexpected smiles caused by the one Holmes brother who had no name. He filled his days with work and his nights with sleep; when he could, and mostly he tried desperately to ignore the gaping hole in his life.
Some of Mycroft's men came just after the funeral and offered to do anything they could to help with the flat. He had left them with an instruction to throw away the experiments and box all of Sherlock's belongings. John stayed only long enough to collect the few things that he wanted to save. He didn't come back until well after dinner time. The sitting room was bare, the couch had obviously been cleaned – everything had been cleaned, the fridge was full of fresh food, there were new containers in the cupboards to replace the ones that had held bits and pieces of humans and animals. The old, scarred table was…resealed; John was always surprised by the effectiveness of Mycroft's men. The apartment was still the one he remembered but the clutter that did nothing but remind John of Sherlock was gone. He checked and a great many boxes filled Sherlock's old room. Mycroft's message offered to have them removed and stored if John so wished. John texted in the negative and closed the door, he would not open the door again for three years.
John had gone up to his room when it was all done; he went back down with the union jack cushion, his laptop and the skull. He placed them in the sitting room and went back upstairs to bed. The next day he went looking for a job. John never could be sure if he found a job so easily because of Mycroft and he found he just did not care, he didn't care that Mycroft was paying penance because nothing the man could do would ever be enough to make up for what he had done to Sherlock, and, through Sherlock, what he had done to John.
They said he was good. They claimed he was the fastest, steadiest and most competent doctor they had seen who hadn't been working in A&E since residency. John had shrugged and cited his time in Afghanistan. The truth of it was that John was hollow inside now and no amount of screaming or tiredness or blood and gore and body parts would ever get to him anymore. He felt distant from his patients, he could see himself speaking to them, knew they felt comforted by him and his unassuming, trustworthy face but he didn't feel any connection to them. John worked every shift he could, he had trouble falling asleep if he wasn't exhausted and luckily for him work in the A&E allowed him to wear himself out.
John spent three years being utterly normal and boring. He didn't date, he didn't make friends, he barely serviced the friendships he already had but somehow he didn't lose anyone in that time. Mrs Hudson, Lestrade, Molly, Henry Knight – who visited for a day to tell John that he believed and ended up staying for a week, who was living with a pilot from some tiny charter outfit now that he knew the truth, Angelo – who insisted that John came for dinner every week, every fortnight when work got busy, Mycroft – even though three years on and John was still trying to ignore him.
There would be random people on the street that remembered him and would stop him, offer their memories of Sherlock as well as the other ones who told him that Sherlock had just been a manipulative bastard who should not have taken his own life but should have let the police arrest him. Those people were lucky that John didn't carry his gun habitually anymore.
Over time John stopped looking for danger around every corner. He was never kidnapped; even Mycroft stopped trying to pick him up off the street when John kept sending his hired guns back with broken bones, bruises, scrapes, and for one very unfortunate man a knife wound. John didn't feel bad about any of them; they knew what they were getting into working for the 'British Government' and the last one should not have pulled a knife on John…though in hindsight it was a good thing he didn't pull a gun. Mycroft stopped sending people and then eventually John stopped expecting people to try and kidnap him off the street. He still worked out, joined a gym set up by an ex-soldier as a form of therapy through physical work – keep the body in shape and allow them to release their issues against other people who understood. He didn't know if it helped but it did keep him in shape.
The consequence of three years without anyone trying to chat to him through subterfuge or kidnap him to piss off his best mate caused John to miss the signs until it was all too late, until he was almost grabbed. John reacted too late, the guy who grabbed him screamed military in that silent way that only SAS could manage and John was in the boot of the car and that was the last thing he remembered as the stinging bite of a needle, and some form of medication, took over his body.
When he came to it was with a throbbing head and an ache in his shoulder he knew was not going to fade for days even if he could get up and go home immediately. The world was dark but the press of harsh cloth against his nose and ears told him that it was a bag rather than actually being night or in a dark room. The hint of light down below his chin told him there was light though he couldn't tell if it was natural or artificial; it did mean though that they would know he was awake.
"Well, well, well, John Watson," John would know that voice anywhere but he was supposed to be dead. "So very pathetic now without the Sun next to you."
"Fuck off, Moriarty," John said glad they hadn't gagged him. "Just so you know, I will get my hands on you and I will snap your neck."
Moriarty laughed. "No, I don't think you will. You are only here for distraction and to keep someone occupied."
"Who?" John asked as he tried to work out if he could toss the bag off his head without his hands.
Moriarty laughed and never answered John when the sounds of a warehouse door opening reached them, strangely magnified, and then footsteps…two people, rubber soled shoes, too loud to be natural.
"Moriarty," John's entire face went slack and his brain stuttered. He knew that voice too.
"This is Moriarty?" Another voice…sounded oddly familiar but that first one, that first one needed to speak again so that John could know.
"And this is your blunt instrument," Moriarty said. His voice was directly in front of John and he assumed that Moriarty was standing between him and the new arrivals. "Is he a trade-up from you last pet?"
"Moran I assume," John didn't realise he had been holding his breath until he let it out with a rush, leaving him lightheaded, when he heard that voice again.
Sherlock. No one else had that voice. Sherlock was dead and yet, that was his voice, no one else could…he was dead…unless. John really didn't like to think about the implications of Sherlock being alive. The possibility that for the last three years Sherlock had been alive and off somewhere else while John had been mourning him and living a shadow of an existence. It meant that Sherlock had done that to him on purpose. It was something that John desperately did not want to think about. Three years being a lie, John's crushing grief and the regret over the things he hadn't known to say could all be for nothing because Sherlock didn't care for him; cared for him so little that he could walk away and leave John alone.
John pushed the idea away, he needed to focus. He had been kidnapped by Moriarty, if he was alive then Sherlock could be too…he had been kidnapped and needed to focus.
The other three voices in the room seemed to fade to nothing and yet Sherlock's voice seemed too loud, too big for the room. John was torn; he wanted to break his bonds and see Sherlock but he was scared – scared that the illusion of Sherlock's voice would be shattered and then John would be alone again. This could all be the side effect of whatever drug they had pumped into him. John gripped the arms of the chair he was tied to and listened with every part of him, waiting for Sherlock's voice. John body felt alive and tight when Sherlock spoke and tensed when he didn't.
If Sherlock was alive then his entire life was twisted and bent and John didn't know if he should believe his ears. Then the hood was pulled off his head and Sherlock filled his vision, it was all Sherlock, tall and slender – his hair too long and…alive.
"Sherlock?" John's voice was small and disbelieving but no one else could look at someone with those strange grey eyes with that look, that amazing, probing, judging look and John believed, he believed that the last three years had been a lie and his body didn't feel like it was his own anymore.
"John," Sherlock's voice, attached to his face and those eyes and…he was alive and John wanted only to pull the taller man forward and kiss him, he forgot about his doubts and his questions all he wanted to do was offer his heart and soul to Sherlock if it meant that he was able to keep Sherlock – he would do anything he had to, to keep Sherlock.
John head the faint call of his last name but Sherlock's lips didn't move so he didn't shift his attention.
"You're alive," and John remembered that Sherlock hated obvious statements and he waited with hope for a look of derision, for a word of judgement but nothing came. Sherlock's eyes left John's face and John felt like it was a physical loss. Then things around him exploded, two men were fighting – the hard, dirty fight of men who had been trained to do it after they had already learned what they needed to know on the streets or at school. Sherlock was still speaking, to Moriarty though not to John, as the two men beside them fought. Moriarty had a gun; Sherlock had his brain and at least three weapons on his body. John couldn't get free, he tried, could feel blood on his arms, but he couldn't break out of the bonds that Moriarty had tied.
Then there was blood. It wasn't Sherlock's and in the moment after John was sure of that he looked at the man who was bleeding…it couldn't be…James? Then he saw the pen…a pen?
Then Sherlock's hands on his wrists, pulling at the bindings and John was free and he could touch Sherlock but the blood spreading beneath the man with Sherlock, could it be James, stopped him, stopped him from reaching out for Sherlock and doing the one thing he'd been regretting above everything else for the last three years. He regretted not showing Sherlock, who was so utterly oblivious; just how much he loved him.
John gripped Sherlock's hand and moved over towards the man who was bleeding out. John yanked off his own sweater and dropped down next to the injured man.
"He's with you?" John asked even as he turned the man over.
"Bond," Sherlock said confirming the identity. John had been sure as soon as he saw the man and started to treat him, the cut was long and deep. James had already lost a lot of blood and John didn't have any medical supplies.
"James," John said. "I know him, knew him, treated him a few times as well."
"You know him?" Sherlock said stepping in closer to John's back.
"Are Moriarty and Moran dead?"
Sherlock hovered, John could feel the heat and weight of him at his back and he pressed the curve of his spine back a little until it was touching Sherlock's calf. Sherlock leaned into him and John smiled even as he worked furiously to staunch the abundant flow of blood. His jumper was soaked through and he was a little worried that by the time the paramedics arrived the damage caused by the tourniquet would have done irreparable damage. John's hands and forearms were soaked with blood when he heard the sirens – a slightly different pitch and rhythm so they were in a different country. John stepped back only when he was sure they could slip straight in and then there was a hot, long fingered hand wrapped around his elbow tugging him out and away.
Sherlock ignore his protests and dragged John away from the warehouse and out to the pack of emergency vehicles outside.
"Are you injured?" Sherlock asked stooped over and looking John in the eye.
John paused and thought about it; his shoulder was no long simply throbbing and had started to burn, his wrists were bleeding and his knee and ankles were throbbing but overall he had no injuries that would need to be treated immediately.
"No," John said. "You?"
Sherlock shook his head. "Should get out of here."
John grabbed onto Sherlock more tightly. "No! I'm not letting you go again."
Sherlock responded by tugging John closer and kissing him. John sunk into the kiss and met him at every movement until finally he pulled away and looked up at Sherlock.
"I am not going anywhere," Sherlock said, then he looked at John for a moment. "Excellent, I love you too. I didn't leave because I don't care; I left to save your life, and those of Lestrade and Mrs Hudson. It's over now, we can go home…you didn't leave Baker Street, good, I wouldn't want to have had to bother with kicking her new tenants out."
John was at a loss for words for a while. "I should be mad at you."
"You're too happy that I am alive and back to be angry with me today. Three days…or four, and you'll be very angry."
"Mycroft should have told me."
"He didn't know, only Q and Molly knew."
"I needed her help and as she said she didn't matter and Moriarty wasn't watching her as closely." Sherlock said. "How do you know James Bond?"
"We worked together when I was in the Army, though he is Navy. He works for Her Majesty and MI-6 now. I have patched him up more than once; this is the worst."
"You weren't involved?" Sherlock asked when the local police came over to them.
John turned and looked at Sherlock with surprise. "No."
Sherlock kissed John and then handed the police some paperwork before he pulled John away from the scene.
"Sherlock, where are we going?"
"Home," Sherlock said. "You have questions and Q will look after his secret agent."
"Q? And Bond? Really?"
"Assuming James Bond doesn't decide to be noble."
"He was always the guy you wanted to have your back," John said. "Saved me once or twice."
"Then I shall send him a fruit basket, do hurry up John, we need to get to the hotel."
"Hotel? I thought we were going home."
"Tomorrow," Sherlock said and rushed around the corner with John's hand still securely held in his. "Tonight a hotel and you can start asking me all the questions running through your mind…very well, we'll have sex and then you can ask me the questions."
John didn't confirm that that had been what he was thinking but he did smile and pick up his speed.