Note: I own nothing but my own plot, everything else is the BBC's and Arthur Conan Doyle's. I just like to play here. Not beta'd or Brit-picked. Inspired by Sarah Bareilles' "Brave."
John sat nursing a cup of tea. It was mid-morning and most of the early-morning, commute-to-work bustle had died down, leaving mostly tourists and people running errands out on the streets. People with places to go, things to do. A reason to get up in the morning.
Not him, though. Since Sherlock had died, there had really been no reason for, well, anything.
He had been surprised to learn that Sherlock had left him enough money to more than cover his living expenses. But then, he'd been surprised that Sherlock had had the money in the first place, until he had reminded himself of Sherlock's designer suits and apparently bottomless pockets for cab fare or bribes for the Homeless Network. Besides, it seemed fairly obvious that neither he nor Mycroft had been raised in poverty.
No, the real surprise had been that not only had Sherlock had the money (making his need for a flatmate null), but that he'd left it to John of all people. Not that Sherlock had had many (any?) friends, and it wasn't like Mycroft needed more cash since he was obviously doing fine as he was, but still, John had been touched.
It had been helpful at first—not having to drag himself out past the press camped on the pavement to go job hunting had been a blessing. Knowing there was enough to cover the rent for Mrs Hudson was a relief, even if he hadn't been able to bear staying at the flat after that first, dreadful night. He was staying stayed at the empty flat of one of his still-deployed army mates until he could bear to go back.
He'd forgotten how much he hated being alone.
His current state of loneliness and lack of purpose was all too similar to how he'd been when he'd returned from Afghanistan. His bad leg was acting up again, but he didn't know how to fix it. Sherlock had taken one look and diagnosed a need for adrenalin, for purpose and while John agreed with that, what was he supposed to do? The biggest surge of adrenalin he got these days was walking past a newsstand. Even if he were qualified without Sherlock, it wasn't like he could go to crime scenes and volunteer his services. After the hits his reputation had taken alongside Sherlock's, there was no point. The only way he was getting near a crime scene was to commit one himself.
Ironically, that would probably provide just the surge of adrenalin he needed. Luckily for Her Majesty's law and order, he was too law-abiding to consider it. For long. He had to admit he wondered if Mycroft would let him get away with it if he tried.
Sherlock's brother had been … quiet … since Sherlock died. Part of John wanted to believe it was all guilt-driven, but in retrospect, probably not. He wasn't even as angry at Mycroft anymore. He had been furious at first—beyond enraged at the brother's betrayal, but what was the point? Moriarty had been a genius and had been determined to play both the Holmes brothers. And he had succeeded. Mycroft had lost the brother he'd spent his whole life protecting, and, well, John was sure he was punishing himself more than John ever could.
No, he wasn't angry at Mycroft. If anything, he felt entirely neutral toward Mr British Government. He had seen Mycroft's hand in Lestrade's keeping his job—and the way the Chief Superintendent had lost his. (John found he could bear that loss to the police force with fortitude. About the only thing that had made him smile in that first week after Sherlock's jump had been the photos of the beleaguered policeman with his bandaged nose and black eyes.)
Of course, this all just contributed to John's total lack of purpose these days. His finances were covered, he had nowhere to go, nothing to do. No cases. No blog entries. No Sherlock.
He knew this had to stop. He had lost friends before, after all. It wasn't like the grieving process was new. The difference, though, was that this time, there was nothing else in his life, not really. When he'd lost people before, he'd had medicine to practice, or soldiers to save—he had mourned the fallen friends, but he had been busy. There had been distractions.
It wasn't until Sherlock was gone that John had realized how much his life revolved around that one man—his job had been looking after Sherlock, assisting him on cases. His recreation had largely centred around writing blog posts of their cases (or recovering from the exhaustion following their cases). He hadn't been able to keep a girlfriend, or a reliable job at a medical practice. His friends had mostly been connected to Sherlock, but going out for pints with Lestrade was … tricky these days.
So, here he was, sitting in a coffee shop at 10:30 in the morning, nursing a cup of tea and thinking about what a wasteland his life had become.
The worst part, he thought, was that not only had he lost Sherlock, but that he'd lost Sherlock's reputation. With Moriarty's character assassination on top of whatever he'd done to make Sherlock jump (because John refused to believe Sherlock jumped of his own free will), John was left with no-one who really missed Sherlock the way he did. Mrs Hudson came close, but while her faith was unshakable, she hadn't worked with Sherlock the way John had. She hadn't seen the sheer brilliance of Sherlock's mind at work. Those who had—the fine men and women of New Scotland Yard—had resolutely turned their backs and refused to discuss him at all.
John supposed he could understand that from an official standpoint. After the career assassination the Chief Superintendent had suffered, he could understand how the Yard might refuse to speculate on Sherlock's abilities in public. But, unofficially? Lestrade was the only one who John had heard anything from in the weeks since Sherlock's death. All the other people who had witnessed Sherlock's deductive abilities were keeping quiet.
John could still remember that conversation, one of the last at Baker Street, where he'd warned Sherlock that every officer he'd ever made to feel like a tit would be coming for him, and that was a lot of people. Well, almost to a man, they were all keeping a uniform silence about him now. They weren't speaking against him anymore, but they weren't trying to help resurrect his reputation, either.
He thought about how, in that same conversation, Sherlock had said he didn't care what people thought. John had protested that he'd care if they had thought he was wrong, or stupid, and Sherlock hadn't responded to that.
Then, less than twelve hours later, he had thrown himself off a building, claiming "it was all a lie."
It didn't make sense. If Sherlock had cared so little for what other people thought, why would he jump? If he had cared, he would have stayed and fought—because John didn't believe the lies for a minute. Sherlock's jumping would only confirm the rumours. He had said as much on the phone during that godawful last conversation.
But Sherlock hadn't cared—which he'd told John just hours earlier. Why the contradiction? Sherlock more than, well, anyone, was appallingly consistent. If he believed something today, he would believe it next month or next year unless you proved beyond a doubt that it was untrue. He honestly hadn't cared what people thought about him. Though John supposed he might have cared if his reputation had affected their receiving new cases.
No, the only thing John could think was that somehow, someway, Moriarty had made Sherlock kill not only himself but his reputation. Why else would Sherlock have asked John to tell people he'd lied? Because the only lie Sherlock had ever told John (that mattered, anyway) had been then, on that rooftop, when he claimed to be a fraud. John knew full well that Sherlock hadn't had time to research him, and if he had, he never would have made the assumption that Harry was his brother and not his sister. Never.
He had to have had his reasons, even if John didn't understand them. It was the only thing that made sense.
John sometimes wondered if he should feel guilty about denying Sherlock's last wish. Not only had he not passed on Sherlock's confession, he had asserted quite the opposite on his final blog post. He believed in his friend, and always would.
He just wished other people would believe him.
Not that John had tried all that hard. In the days following Sherlock's jump, it had been all he could manage to shower and make tea and toast. He certainly hadn't been up to facing the press gauntlet outside his door, nor had he been willing to allow himself to be interviewed by any of them. As much as he wanted to revive his friend's reputation, the guilt at going against his last (inscrutable, incomprehensible) wishes had kept him silent.
Now, though, he wondered if he'd done the right thing.
He took a sip of his now-cold tea and stared out the window, then realized his fingers were tapping on the cup in time to the shop's music. It was only then that he actually started listening to the words.
"… your history of silence won't do you any good. Did you think it would? Let your words be anything but empty. Why don't you tell them the truth?..."
Brave, he thought. I used to be brave.
Let the words fall out, huh? Maybe it was time he be brave again.
He got up from his seat and approached the counter. "Do you know this song?" he asked the young girl at the register.
"It's 'Brave' by Sarah Bareilles. Isn't she wonderful?"
He nodded. "Yes. Yes, she is."
And oddly, as he walked out of the shop, he was feeling a spring to his step that hadn't been there in far too long.
He looked up the song as soon as he got home.
It was almost eerie how much he felt like it was speaking to him.
God knew he'd stared down an enemy or twenty in his time, and he wasn't even sure James Moriarty had been the worst of them.
It was true, though—in cases like these, silence only helped the enemy. Had he been keeping quiet because it was what Sherlock would have wanted (as second choice from John spreading the lie he'd asked him to tell)? Or had he kept to himself because he was too afraid to speak up on behalf of his friend? Too scared to risk … what, exactly? More blows to his own now-shaky reputation? It wasn't like he needed a job. He didn't have many friends or family to embarrass, or whose condemnation would worry him. It's not like he and Harry were close.
What did he have to lose? Like the song said, he needed to find a way out of this cage, and speaking up for Sherlock? That just felt right. It wasn't facing down a madman with a gun or risking his life, but defending Sherlock's reputation would need a different kind of bravery.
And so, setting the song to loop on his computer, he pulled up his blog.
Before he could back down, John decided he would write just a quick entry to his blog. He pulled up the right screen, took a deep breath, and began typing.
I know it's the height of unpopularity to think well of Sherlock Holmes these days. Without wanting to be rude, though, I choose to believe that most of you reading my blog believe in him as much as I do. (And if you don't, why the hell are you even here?) I spent too much time with Sherlock to believe that anything he did was fake. True, he occasionally fibbed to get information from a reluctant witness. He had no problems bending the truth when he needed to, BUT he always did it with a reason. His goal was always to find the hidden truth, to unravel the puzzle, and if he had to lie to do it, well, it was for the greater good.
He had a reputation of a man who didn't care, but in fact, he cared deeply. Just because he did not allow himself to get distracted by things like a victim being a mother of three young children, or a child, or a victim of a serial killer didn't mean those details didn't affect him. His argument was that emotions distracted him, and so, therefore, emotions were not allowed to interfere—even if that occasionally made him look heartless.
Because that's all it was—him looking heartless. Because he was not. When he had a case, he gave everything he had to find the guilty party so that the victims' families would have closure. (Not that he would ever admit that as a reason, of course.) During a case he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't sleep, he would not allow distractions of any kind. He was dedicated and relentless, and if that occasionally (often) rubbed people the wrong way because he seemed uncaring, that says more about their lack of observation than his commitment.
I made that mistake myself, once, and accused him of not caring about a series of victims. He told me that there was no such thing as heroes, and if there were, he wouldn't be one of them. It seems sad to me that, right now, most of you reading would agree with him.
But I don't. No matter what Sherlock is accused of, I saw the man in action. I saw him deduce things about strangers when we were out on the street, waiting for a taxi. He would observe things and make statements that seemed like he'd pulled them out of thin air. Secret affairs, types of pets, lengths of marriages, whether an employer smoked or not … I know he's been accused of having somehow master-minded a series of crimes, but I cannot imagine why he could possibly have needed to. He had enough skill and dedication to solve any crime put in front of him, and I saw the proof of that every day. He had no reason to try to create them just so he could be the hero to solve them. In fact, quite the contrary.
Sherlock didn't care about his reputation. He didn't care if people thought he was right or wrong as long as HE knew he was right. He's accused of being egotistical, and he was, but it was all internalized. The only accolade he needed was knowing that he was right. The only rationale behind master-minding a crime so you can 'solve' it is to look good, look heroic, but that was the last thing Sherlock wanted. He hated being in the public eye, hated the notoriety that made it difficult for him to walk down the street unnoticed. The only benefit was that it meant more complex cases came his way—and that? That he loved.
I was told the night I met him that Sherlock Holmes was a great man, and that if we were all very lucky, he'd someday be a good one.
Well, I believe that he was. I don't know why he jumped off that building, but I will never believe it was out of a sense of guilt for a pack of lies—lies that make no sense, because they're based on the presumption that Sherlock Holmes cared what all of you think about him. He did not. He barely cared what I thought of him, and I was his best friend—his only friend, if he could be believed.
In my book, friends don't abandon each other in time of need. I never left my army buddies on the field, and I'm not going to abandon Sherlock now. Instead, I'm going to do my best to prove to all of you that his methods, the crimes he solved and, most important, the man himself were all real and true.
Sherlock Holmes was not a fraud. Because, honestly, he didn't care enough about what you think to have been worth his effort.
But I do. And I'm going to convince you.
John clicked Post and then leaned back in his chair, exhausted. He felt like he'd just run ten miles, but at the same time, he could feel a sense of purpose again.
He was going to prove to the world that Sherlock was the real thing.
He didn't have the resources to address the Moriarty issue, he thought as he walked across the room to pour himself a whiskey. (He deserved one, he thought, if only to be able to toast this new endeavour.) But he didn't need the big cases to prove his point. If anything, that would be detrimental because people had already made up their minds on those. No, he would start with the basics.
He had spent enough time with Sherlock at least to understand what he was doing, even if he didn't have half the man's observational skills—or encyclopaedic knowledge of, well, everything. John had been slower putting the pieces together, but then, so had everyone compared to Sherlock. But still—he understood the concept and the skill behind it.
So, without addressing anything in particular (like, say, Moriarty), he would start with the groundwork. Just like he'd been taught in school—you start with a foundation of common knowledge and then begin narrowing it down.
He would assume that his readers knew about as much as he had when he had met Sherlock—which was to say about what they picked up from watching mysteries on telly.
Then, using Sherlock's own website as reference, he would start laying down basic information—what to look for at a crime scene, how to read tracks left behind, how to analyse dirt or fibres. He would pull examples from cases he had worked on, or that were in Sherlock's files. He could photograph the packed bookcase here in 221B to give an idea of how much Sherlock had read and studied. (Maybe some pictures of the insides with his handwritten notes to prove that he'd actually read them?) He could talk about some of his experiments … if Sally had understood the science behind soil analysis, would she have been so quick to point fingers?
Sherlock had always complained that John's blog was too simple, that he skipped all the important details. Well, he would fix that. He would provide classes in "Deduction per Sherlock Holmes" and do everything he could to show that Sherlock had had the knowledge to solve every crime that had come his way. He wouldn't even have to worry about the Moriarty cases—he would just prove that all the hundreds of others were legitimate.
Maybe he could solicit referrals? He didn't want to turn his entire blog into Detection 101, after all, so maybe stories from satisfied customers, as it were? Even if not as actual blog posts, but a page of … comments? A forum? He didn't know enough to even know the terminology for what he wanted, but maybe finding a person to give the blog a tune-up or upgrade or whatever they called it wasn't a bad idea. He had the money in the bank, he thought, as long as the programmer wasn't too expensive.
Outside of the mechanics of running the site, the hardest part would be understanding enough of the deductions himself to be able to explain everything. But what better way to feel closer to his departed friend than to immerse himself in his work? If clearing Sherlock's name gave a purpose to John's empty days, all the better.
If you haven't listened yet, do go check out the song. "Brave."
Seriously. Go. The lyrics are so perfect for John here, you won't want to miss it.
brave . sarabareilles . com (remove the spaces)
(But don't blame me later when you hum it for days. It's worth it.)