Here’s a ‘What If’ story for you Johnlock fans.. What if John hadn’t forgiven Sherlock? [When Sherlock returned from his faked death, John could not forgive him for the deception and broke off their friendship. Ten years later, John returns to London in search of yet another new beginning. Sherlock, not surprisingly, is waiting. ] A brilliant story written by emmagrant01. Art above by sweetlittlekitty at deviantart.com & on tumblr!
For you fans of The Cure, read an interview I had with emmagrant01 [Emma] months ago!
Chapter one of Nothing to Make a Song About:
Ah, grocery store sushi: John Watson examined the cellophane-wrapped package and wrinkled his nose. It was always disappointing, but for some reason he kept buying it, as if he expected it might be different this time.
That was the definition of insanity, wasn’t it?
He turned in the direction of a familiar voice, and it was a full second before he could speak. Standing a few feet away, shopping basket dangling from one hand, was Greg Lestrade. John shook his head, almost incredulous, and grinned. “My God, Greg. It’s good to see you. It’s been… Jesus, years.”
Greg’s hair was greyer than John remembered and there were more lines around his eyes, but the grin on his face was just as cheeky as ever. “Eight, maybe? Too many, anyway. I thought you lived in Chelmsford.”
“Back in London now, since about a month ago. I’ve a flat just around the corner, actually.”
“Have you? We live just a few streets away. Jesus, we’re neighbors and I had no idea. How is—” He paused and winced. “God, sorry, I can’t remember your wife’s name.”
John’s lips pressed together in a tight smile. “Mary. And she’s not my wife anymore, so don’t worry about it.”
Greg’s expression fell. “Oh, shit. Sorry.”
“Don’t be. I’m not.” John smiled, and realized he meant it. “So how have you been? Congratulations on the promotion, by the way. I saw a mention of you on the news a few months back, with that triple-homicide case in Knightsbridge. I meant to email you.”
“Yeah, cheers. It’s mostly a promotion in title, though. I don’t get out in the field as much as I’d like, but it’s nice to have fewer people telling me what to do, I must admit.”
“I can imagine. I heard you got married a couple of years ago.”
Greg’s face lit up. “Yes! Lori is the woman I should have married in the first place. Hindsight, eh? She works at the Yard as well, in the IT department. I don’t think you’ve met her, have you?”
“Not that I recall, no.”
“You’d love her; she’s fantastic. Smart, funny, much hotter than I deserve.” Greg pulled his phone from his pocket and glanced at the time. “Shit. Look, her son and daughter-in-law are coming over for dinner tonight and I’ve got to get back with all of this.” He held up his basket. “But I’m so glad to know you’re back. We should get together at the pub around the corner later this week, and catch up.”
John smiled. “Yeah, that’d be fantastic.”
They exchanged numbers and Greg walked away, turning back once to grin and wave before disappearing around the end of an aisle. John took a deep breath and released it slowly. He felt oddly empty now, even depressed. Shouldn’t he be happy to reconnect with an old friend, to know Greg was happy and doing well in his career and his life?
He ought, definitely. But of course, what had John done with his life in the last decade? Not fucking much. Nothing that had lasted, anyway. He sighed and turned back to his contemplation of cooking-free dinner options for one. Maybe the sushi would be better this time after all. He dropped it in his basket.
Greg gave John a one-armed hug at the door of the pub. “God, it’s great to see you. Come on, I’ll buy the first round.”
They found a table in the corner and settled there with pints in hand. John had been in this pub once before; it was a boisterous spot full of locals decompressing from their days, small and cozy, and completely packed. It was the sort of place where everyone seemed to be catching up with friends. Which was the main reason he hadn’t been back.
“I’ve got news,” Greg said, barely containing his grin. “I’m going to be a grandfather.”
John nearly spewed his lager. “A grandfather? That’s…”
“Well, step-grandfather, technically. Lori’s son Scott and his wife told us at dinner the other night. Baby’s due in July. Lori’s over the moon about it.”
John shook his head, still shocked. “That’s amazing. I… I suppose you’re chuffed about it then?”
Greg raised his glass to his lips and took a sip before answering. “It’s still a bit bizarre, you know? I don’t even have kids of my own, so I never expected anyone to call me ‘Grandpa.'”
John raised his glass to cover his grin. “Does that mean I can call you Grandpa?”
Greg rolled his eyes. “See what happens if you try. But enough about me. What have you been up to?”
“Not much, really. Got divorced, decided to move back to London to… start over.” Again. He smiled into his lager.
“How’d you like Chelmsford?”
“It was fine, at least at first. That’s where Mary’s from. Her parents were getting on in years, so she wanted to be close to them. I worked in a private practice there for nearly six years, and I enjoyed it. But it wasn’t home by any stretch, and when we split up for good, I knew I couldn’t stay.” He took a drink and forced a smile. “I’m working A&E now, over at Queen Elizabeth. It’s insane, but I like it.”
“You always did prefer a bit of excitement.” Greg winked at him. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out with Mary, though. You seemed happy, before you moved away.”
“I was, I think.” John paused to take a sip of lager. “I don’t know, really. Thought I was. Hindsight, right?”
Greg was silent for a moment. “Have you seen Sherlock since you got back?”
John stared into his pint glass again. “No.” He ought to ask how Sherlock was, what he was doing, if he was all right – but no, that was a can of worms he’d rather leave unopened. “You still follow rugby?”
Greg’s smile was one of understanding, and he nodded. “I do.”
John’s phone vibrated in his pocket as he walked, and he pulled it out to glance at the screen. Text from Greg.
Busy right now?
John stepped into the alcove of a shop, out of the rain, to tap out a response. Off today. A bit early for a pint, isn’t it?
I could use your opinion on something. Can you come to Moscow Road, near the Bayswater Tube station?
John stared at the screen for three full seconds, breath caught in his throat. Crime scene?
Yes. Can you come? Murder. Very messy.
John pursed his lips. He’d left this sort of thing behind him a decade ago, and he hadn’t thought about in ages. Didn’t Greg have people for this, people who had been trained in forensics and hired to do exactly this? Surely the opinion of a surgeon from A&E wasn’t all that valuable.
But hell, he had nothing better going on. Maybe it would be interesting. He exhaled and considered. Maybe Greg would want to go get a pint later; it had been nearly a week since they’d last got together. Right.
Be there in twenty.
The crime scene was fairly easy to find, it turned out. John didn’t recognize any of the officers who were running about, busying themselves with the task of sealing off the area. He had to wait for Greg to come over and vouch for him before he was let past the yellow tape.
He felt awkward and out of place as he followed Greg down a winding alley and through a battered metal door into a dark, musty building. It seemed to be a storage facility of some kind, though it was empty now. Industrial caged lights hung from the high ceiling and the bare bulbs cast multi-faceted shadows as they walked across the dusty floor.
“Right through there,” Greg said, pointing at a corridor beyond another door. “Four fucking murders in London today, and my usual forensics team is stuck at another one. They’ll be here in half an hour, but we needed someone who could give us some information before the trail gets cold.”
“Yeah, of course. I’m glad to help.”
“I owe you one. I’ll be back in a few minutes; gotta make a quick phone call. They’re expecting you, so just take a look and tell them whatever you can.”
He turned and walked away, already tapping at his mobile. John walked through the door and down the corridor, through an open doorway into a well-lit room.
And froze, heart in his throat. The corpse of a woman was lying prone on the floor in a pool of blood, limbs unnaturally askew, and leaning over the corpse was a very familiar figure.
John closed his eyes, transported back in time for a brief, exhilarating, dizzying moment.
“John, glad you could come.” Sherlock didn’t even look up at him; his gazed was fixed on the body. “I could use your opinion on this.”
John remained in the doorway, unable to breathe. Sherlock looked remarkably like he had done years ago. There was a touch of grey at his temples, but otherwise his hair was still an unruly mop of dark curls. His face was more gaunt than John remembered, as if his lack of attention to the “vessel” was finally catching up with him, but the expression on his face as he studied the scene before him was… John swallowed.
Sherlock looked up at that. “We’re in a bit of a rush, if you don’t mind.” His eyes were exactly the same. Jesus.
“Right, of course.” John took five steps forward and knelt next to the corpse, opposite Sherlock. He inhaled smoothly, steadying himself. Sherlock held out a pair of nitrile gloves and John pulled them on with a stiff nod of thanks.
For Greg. He was doing this for Greg. And the next time he saw Greg, he would kill him.
He’d seen horrific injuries in A&E, but he’d forgotten how grisly crime scenes could be. The victim appeared to be in her early twenties. There were bruises around her throat, though they were difficult to make out clearly, since she’d been nearly decapitated.
“Cause of death?” Sherlock asked.
John pursed his lips. “Strangulation, I hope.” He pointed at the bruises on her throat, lifted her hands and examined her fingers and wrists, then leant down to examine her mouth. Her eyes stared back at him, glassy and lifeless. “There doesn’t appear to have been much of a struggle.” He lifted one arm and pushed her sleeve up. “Puncture marks here. Multiple, faded. And from the state of her skin and teeth, I’d say she was an addict.” He glanced down at her clothes, which, while worn, seemed to be in order. “No obvious evidence of sexual assault immediately prior to death. Or of consensual sexual activity, for that matter.” That was an issue for the technician performing the autopsy, but he was thinking aloud.
“You think she was strangled before the partial decapitation?”
John nodded. “She was probably already dead, or at least unconscious. Look how clean the cut is, no sign that her attacker had to hold her down through it.”
Sherlock raised his eyebrows. “You think there was only one?”
John hesitated and looked around the room. It was empty of furniture, but there were footprints visible on the floor. Some were sharper than others, but he couldn’t be sure which belonged to Sherlock or to any of the officers on the scene, and which belonged to the killer. He looked at the body again.
“The bruises are concentrated on the upper half of her body. If there had been another person involved, they would likely have held her feet. One attacker could have sat on her, held her down and strangled her. Unless…” He paused and examined her head more closely. “Well, I was thinking that a second attacker could have held her head still while the other—” he made a slashing motion with one hand a few inches above her throat. “But no, there aren’t any marks or bruising there either.”
He looked up, expecting to be criticized, told what he’d missed, but Sherlock simply smiled at him. “It’s good to see you.”
John blinked, completely taken aback. This was hardly the place for a reunion, but then, it was Sherlock. “Yes, same, I suppose. Look, is there anything else you need me for?”
Sherlock’s smile faded. “No, I suppose not.”
“Right.” John stood and stripped off the gloves. “I hope that was of some use. Best of luck with this case.”
Sherlock stood. “Aren’t you going to stay and help?”
John gave him a tight smile. “No. Not my area, Sherlock. Not anymore.”
Sherlock’s lips twisted slightly. “Yes, of course. Well, thank you.”
John stared at him. He could count the number of times Sherlock had ever voluntarily thanked someone on the fingers of one hand. “You’re welcome.” He paused a moment more, words poised on his lips, but he swallowed them down. No, better to leave it like this. He turned and left the room.
He found Greg the moment he got outside, and shot him a murderous look. Greg winced and crossed to where John was standing, a good distance from the other officers.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” John spat. “You could have at least given me a warning.”
“Would you have come if I had?”
John snorted. “Not the point.”
Greg ran a hand through his hair and groaned. “Look, I know it was a shitty thing to do, but he’s been begging me to call you in ever since I told him you were back in town.”
John’s eyes widened. “It was his idea?”
“Yes. And I know you’re still pissed off at him, but after all these years, couldn’t you just, I don’t know—”
“What, let it go?” John shook his head. “He lied to me, Greg. He let me think he was dead for two fucking years. Me, his best friend – or so I thought. And then he just shows up one day and thinks we can pick up where we left off, and I’m the one who’s being unreasonable?”
“No, I’m sorry, but no.” He pressed his hands over his face and exhaled. His emotions had risen so quickly that it was shocking. How was it possible that Sherlock still had such a hold on him after all this time?
Greg groaned. “I’m sorry, you’re right. I should’ve said something, I just…” He shrugged. “He’s changed a lot, you know. He’s not nearly as much of a dick as he was back then. And all he has is the work, really. The look on his face when I told him I’d seen you, you’ve no idea. I suppose I thought… I don’t know.”
John’s gut twisted. He’d wondered about Sherlock, of course. It had been nearly a decade since John had severed their friendship, and it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. But he had to do it; he couldn’t let go of the anger and betrayal he’d felt. If he’d welcomed Sherlock back with open arms, what further horrific things might have happened? No – John had made his choice, and it was undoubtedly the right one.
“I can’t, all right? I don’t doubt that he’s changed, even for the better, but…” He shook his head.
Greg sighed. “I’m sorry, John, I really am.”
John could only shrug in response.
“You all right?”
“Yeah. I reckoned I’d run into him at some point, anyway.” And honestly, he should have been suspicious. If he were going to bump into Sherlock anywhere in London, the odds were quite high it would happen at a crime scene, especially at one supervised by Greg Lestrade. And for fuck’s sake, why would it even make sense that Greg would need John at a crime scene? He winced. “I’m being an idiot, sorry.”
Greg’s expression was sympathetic. “No, you’re not. You’re just responding to Sherlock like every normal person does.”
John’s heart clenched slightly, but he managed to smile. “I suppose.”
“Want to get a pint this weekend?”
John nodded. “Yeah, I really would.”
Greg clapped him on the shoulder and turned back toward the building. John stood there a minute more before heading back to the Tube station.
Behind him, Greg paused to watch him disappear around the corner, and sighed.
I’ll have the next chapter of Sherlock’s December Ficlets posted soon too!