I wasn’t planning on writing today. I’ve got a lot work and cleaning to do, but Sherlock and John had other plans for me. So I hope you enjoy.
And a Happy New Year
By J.H. Watson
It had been an awful mistake. John Watson knew he should not have gone with Harry to a New Year’s party. But his therapist insisted he get out more, mingle, meet people and she was becoming suspicious of the meet-ups with Stamford and his coworkers, the dates, and the other social outings he invented. He’d had a row with Harry after he’d found her, drink in hand, chatting up someone by the bar. The drink was obviously not her first despite her promise of sobriety. Now John was alone again, a little drunk, a bit despondent, uncertain of his direction.
A sudden rush of people spilled out from a restaurant sweeping John into the crush. As he looked for an escape, he realized the restaurant was Angelo’s and that he must have come up Northumberland. He’d must have come this way by old habit. He’d avoided the area for months. Ever since he’d moved out of Baker Street. He wondered for a moment what Mrs. Hudson was doing tonight, if she was also alone. Perhaps he ought to check. No. He couldn’t go back there. Not yet. Certainly not tonight.
The crowd pressed around him had been counting down and now a cheer went up as Big Ben chimed, bells rang, horns honked. People began the indiscriminate kissing and hugging of desperate desire.
Above the noise came the sound of a violin and, as the individuals picked up the tune and began singing quavering versions of Auld Lang Syne, John Watson froze. “Sherlock?” he whispered. He looked quickly in the direction the music came. Through the swaying bodies he glimpsed a tall, thin figure in the shadows. As he pushed his way through the throng, he called out, “Sherlock!”
The music stopped abruptly. But the people continued to sing and sway and obstruct John’s way. It took him another ten seconds to break through and reach the musician.
A lanky young man in a ratty black coat was leaning over a violin case gathering up the coins and notes people still tossed inside as they passed. The man looked up at John for a moment with a questioning expression. It was just a busker, probably a student, taking advantage of the opportunity for some quick cash. It was just uncanny coincidence that the music had sounded exactly like Sherlock’s playing.
But Sherlock was dead.
John cast one more glance in the direction of Baker Street, then shoved both fists into his pockets and turned in the opposite direction.
The lanky young man stepped around the building and said to the equally tall, lean man standing there smoking, “He’s gone off.”
“Right. So that’s it then. That’s all I got to do? And I can keep the money?”
“Yes.” The young man turned to leave and the lean man added, “But not the violin.”
“Oh. Right then.” The young man handed the violin case to the other. “Sorry. Forgot I had it.” The other man simply blew out a stream of smoke. “I’m off then. Cheers.” Over his shoulder he called back, “Happy New Year!”
Sherlock Holmes didn’t reply. He finished his cigarette. He’d lost his quarry, but that wasn’t terribly important. He now knew where the man lived and could pick up his plan later.
What Sherlock couldn’t pick up was his detachment. Seeing John had shaken him.
Sherlock hadn’t anticipated that.
When he’d heard his name, in that tone, from that voice, a jolt of adrenalin struck Sherlock, a wave dopamine and a surge of oxytocin flooded his brain. He’d lost a valuable two seconds paralyzed by conflicting emotions of fear and joy.
By the time he’d grabbed the pick pocket he’d been casually observing and told him, “Stand here and hold this until the blond man with the black military jacket leaves, and you can have all the money in the case,” Sherlock’s heart was racing. To sweeten the deal, Sherlock had tossed two fifty pound notes into the case, then melted into the darkness and around the corner.
He’d watched the scene from the reflections of shop windows, taking slow, deep breaths to ride out the storm raging in his body and mind. John was so close and Sherlock felt so alone.
An intense desire to grab John, hug him, hold him, spill out all the details of what had happened in the ensuing months, what was going to happen, fought with his knowledge that now was not the right time or place. This was not the right way.
Every day since his faked suicide Sherlock had been haunted by questions. What if John didn’t understand? What if John couldn’t forgive him? What if the friendship had died in the fall?
But Sherlock had seen John’s face light up as he called out and a glimmer of hope had flared in Sherlock’s chest. His plan would work. Just a few more loose ends to snip, some holes to mend, and Sherlock could piece back together his life — with John.
He stubbed out his cigarette and moved into the flow of revelers on the sidewalk. A very young man walking entwined with his girlfriend bumped into Sherlock. The girl giggled. The young man called, “Sorry. Happy New Year!”
A happy new year? Perhaps. Later. But at least now Sherlock had a hopeful new year.
He smiled and walked on. It was enough for now. He could wait.
### The end ###