After Sherlock's return
The café was crowded. With the mercury hovering over 30 degrees – some blamed the changing climate, people often took shelter in air-conditioned spaces. Most people were tourists – some were talking souvenirs from shopping bags, others, London tourist maps. They glanced over each other's smartphones and awed at the photos they took. Excited murmurs filled the space. In the corner, there were they, her brother and his friend. Mary wasn't there. It was now or never. They were indulged in the talk too much, and didn't realise she was there until she was two-step away from their table. John half-stood up, puzzled at his sister's unexpected appearance.
"Harry. What's up? How did you know that I am here…"
The dark-haired man stood up, and stumbled his greeting to Harry when she slapped his face with all of her might without any words. The café got silent. Everybody stared at their table and the café's manager was about to splint to their table at a cue of any more disturbance. John reddened like an apple and managed to choke out,
The blonde woman didn't even turn her head at him. Her eyes glared at the man who she had just slapped.
"So you are not dead! How dare you appear in front of John! After all of his sufferings…"
Her sharp voice pierced the silence. John could see Harry's handprint on Sherlock's pale cheek. Sherlock didn't lose his cool. The detective had a knack of hiding impudence in the pretense of politeness, which the Holmes family was so good at. Unlike Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock was slow at "timing" and this time was no exception. The Holmes family disposition and the bad timing were an inauspicious combination.
"Well, Miss. Watson. That's a matter between John and me, isn't it?"
Harry snapped at this provocation, and she threw the John's tea on the detective's face. She seethed out words.
"You are despicable. Sherlock Holmes."
Sherlock's face was unreadable. Tea dripped from his chin to his scarf. John nervously glanced at the manager who was taking up the phone and muttered out in haste.
"It's all under control. I will take my sister out. Misunderstanding…"
He grasped Harry's hand.
"Let's get out, Harry. I appreciate your anger, but…"
"John Watson. Mum didn't raise you to become a stupid docile pet of Sherlock Holmes. The way he treats you…, endangering your life…."
"Let's go, Harry. Sherlock, Mary and I will see you at the flat later. Sorry."
John's last word unhinged Harry again. She spat venom at her brother.
"You embarrass me, John Watson. Why are you sorry to that bastard?"
John's stern voice shut Harry's mouth.
"Harry, you don't know the whole story. We'll talk it out...at your flat."
The doctor almost dragged his sister out and hailed a cab. Sherlock took some napkins and wiped water off his face. Ignoring the staring from people, the detective punched a few words and sent a text to John before leaving.
"Don't get harsh on her. She has every reason to get mad. SH."
Three weeks after Sherlock's funeral
"Mrs. Watson. Do you have to do this?"
"He needs to see the reality. His counselor suggested it after he failed to show up three times. Can you help me? He won't budge."
Lestrade opened the door for John, but the doctor didn't move. John looked like a shadow of who-used-to-be-the-sidekick of the dead detective. For the time being he didn't look after himself: his matted hair, unshaved face, and shaggy clothes... The doctor only moved his feet when Harry shouted at him like they were going to visit Sherlock.
"John, let's get out."
The doctor didn't hear it apparently. He was somewhere else; his shoulders shook slightly; his gaze glued at the tip of his shoes. No response. When Lestrade tried to grab the doctor's arm and pull him out, there was a strong resistance. John growled menacingly.
"No, no. Not here."
"Leave me alone."
Lestrade and Harry's eyes met. John or any of them could get hurt if John kept resisting. It had been almost a month after Sherlock's death. At the funeral, John looked functional enough to deliver a eulogy for his friend whose suicide he was forced to witness. John was summoned twice to the Yard, but he was sent straight away because of his deteriorating condition. The doctor seemed to be in a different world, his own world, locked away from the outside.
Life wasn't easy for Greg Lestrade either. He had trusted Sherlock and took the risk of involving the sleuth in his investigations. The DI was reaping what he had sowed, the seeds of troubles blossomed into the disastrous and discrediting scandal. After the funeral, Lestrade barely saw John. Then Harry Watson called him and asked for his help. To awaken John, he needed to face the reality. His counselor suggested that John visit Sherlock's grave and Harry asked Lestrade to help her.
Lestrade's mobile vibrated. He glanced at it wondering who it would be as he was off-duty that day, rather, in probation for an indefinite length of time. He softly closed the door, leaving John inside, and took the call. It was from the Yard. He could hear Sally Donovan whose voice was full of guilt. All the cases that Greg had to report to have been assisted by Sherlock Holmes were being reopened. Not so surprisingly to Greg, the previous closed cases were being validated one by one. Still there was another investigation of the second body found on the rooftop, so no details would be released for the time being. According to Sally, Sherlock's mobile that had been retrieved with a second body was restored, and it seemed that the dead sleuth had recorded the last moment of his life. The following morning, all the people concerned were to come to the Yard. The invitees included Mycroft Holmes, Greg Lestrade, and of course, John Watson.
Harry was yelling at her brother to no avail. Her voice got almost hoarse after so much yelling. Lestrade walked to Harry and told her about John's being summoned to the Yard the next day. It might be better to make him take a rest at home for the next day. They returned to Harry's flat. Lestrade, after making John sit down on the sofa, knelt before the doctor, caught John's eyes, and said softly,
"John, we've recovered the data in his mobile."
John, who had been unresponsive, stared at the top of Greg's head although his eyes wandered around.
"Your last call with him.. Remember? Sherlock had left his mobile on the rooftop before he took the plunge. You have to come with me tomorrow to the Yard. Sherlock apparently had recorded something before his… Don't you want to know what happened that morning at the rooftop? And the second body, the one you had alleged to be J. Moriarty..."
John's eyes got into a focus for the first time. Lestrade nodded and said before leaving,
"John, 9:30. So you have to be ready by 8:45 tomorrow morning. I'll pick you up. Eat something. Shape up."
The next morning, John Watson was ready and waiting for Greg on the sofa. The doctor had surprised his sister by taking a shower, changing into a proper suit, and eating a bowl of cereal and milk. Lestrade and Harry exchanged a worried look mingled with a hope. John obediently followed Lestrade to his car.
After Sherlock's return (after café)
Harry's flat was surprisingly tidy. After John broke the news of engagement with Mary, Harry voluntarily sought after help to stay away from alcohols. She had just finished a month-long program. Harry desired to attend John's wedding and John had attached only one condition: to get off the drinks. The doctor pretended to make tea in the kitchen while his keen eyes scanned the place thoroughly. No dirty dishes in the sink; pantry was rather full with some food; the bin didn't have any empty beer cans; and no alcoholic beverages. He smiled, opened a pack of biscuits, and laid them on a plate with a jar of jam. Harry murmured her apology for the words that she had used to hurt Sherlock. She swore that she didn't mean to insult John.
"Harry, it's my fault."
Harry stopped her drinking and stared at the doctor. Putting the cup back on the saucer, she snapped.
"John. You have no fault in this. It's all his fault."
John met her eyes and whispered in an apologetic tone.
"The way that I lived after his suicide… My memory for the six months since he "died" is hazy at best. But I know it was I who was despicable. And I didn't tell you everything…"
John' mouth got dry so he emptied his tea rather hastily and burned his tongue. He winced and continued slowly,
"Sherlock had to protect me. Moriarty had set a nefarious trap…There were three snipers trained on me, Mrs. Hudson, and Greg. Moriarty took his life to make Sherlock play his game. The sniper on me was supposed to see Sherlock jump. If Sherlock hadn't jumped, he had a go to kill me."
Harry's mouth opened into a silent O shape.
"I don't know how, but Sherlock realised the real motive of J. Moriarty the previous night. A fall in disgrace. Sherlock left me for hours. I think he must have gotten some help from Molly Hooper and his brother."
A memory hit the doctor and John's voice became a croak.
"I got a call from a man who introduced him as a paramedic. He said Mrs. Hudson was shot and dying. Sherlock didn't budge an inch, and I yelled at him before leaving… Sherlock played along with the caller whoever that was to ensure that I was out of danger for the time being while he confronted Moriarty. But my absence was useless if a well-trained sniper was targetting me. Sherlock had no other options but to make everyone in the world believe that he was dead. That was the only way to keep me alive."
Harry started to sob. John patted his sister's hand.
"Mycroft had deduced why Sherlock had jumped after the funeral. And the Yard was able to retrieve and recover what was in Sherlock's cell phone. Sherlock had pressed a recording button and although most of the last conversation between Sherlock and Moriarty were rather muffled, we were able to understand what really had happened on the rooftop. The findings confirmed Mycroft's theory… Moriarty created a fake genius scandal and forced Sherlock to take the fall."
John gently asked,
"Do you remember that Lestrade came to pick me up to the Yard four weeks after the funeral?"
Harry's voice was almost inaudible, mixed with hiccups and sobs.
"I remember…because (hiccup) after that day you began to live again (hiccup), John… You ate, drank, and met my eyes."
"I had to. I listened to the recording of the last conversation between Sherlock and Moriarty. It was a painful twenty-minute session... but I felt strangely lighter. He gave up his life to save me. I had to live every second of it fully…"
John hugged his sister and whispered.
"It's my fault that I kept silence. I should've told you all of these before today's event happened. Hopefully Sherlock will understand it. Next time if you come across him, just say sorry…"
"And a belated thank you for saving my brother."
Harry blew her nose and made a weak smile. Then her smile disappeared. She cried out,
"Oh my god, Mary. You were about to introduce Mary to Sherlock at the café. Did we stand her up?"
"Don't worry. I had texted her on our way here."
She kept drinking her tea while John answered the call from Mary.
"Wash your face. Your eyes are all blotchy and swollen. Mary's on her way. Let's go out and eat together."
John gave her a smile to assure Harry that Mary would not have been offended. Harry nodded and walked into the toilet. John washed up the teacups and waited for his sister to be ready. While waiting, he sent a short text to his friend.
"Everything's fine. Mary and I will visit you in two hours. JW"
I am a big sister, and all of a sudden, a thought hit me. How would Harry react at the return of the detective after all of these things John had gone through? It prompted this story. Thank you for reading and reviews are very appreciated.