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How John Met the Other Holmeses

Chapter Text

John Watson just had another row with the cash register.

This time, however, he did manage to buy his groceries, albeit after making quite a scene at the store. He’s currently balancing three bags in his arms as he goes up the stairs. He grumbles about how Sherlock always makes his damn excuses so he won’t help John in doing the shopping.

He opens the door to their sitting room and finds Sherlock on his chair with a faraway look on his eyes. He’s leaning back, cross-legged. His hands are folded under his chin as he stares blankly at the ceiling.

“Oh, don’t mind me. Continue your brooding. I can manage,” John says while he struggles to keep the three bags from falling after closing the door.

When no reply came, John becomes suspicious. Sherlock always has the last word. Although it isn’t the first time that Sherlock chose to ignore John for hours. Particularly when they’re working on a case and Sherlock is deep within his mind palace.

John sets the bags on the counter and approaches Sherlock. He asks, “Did you have a case while I was out?”

There is still no reply so he snaps his fingers in front of the man’s face.

“Sherlock?”

John sees today’s newspaper on one of the armrests of Sherlock's chair. The man must have been reading it before John arrived.

“Now what’s gotten you unresponsive?”

John picks up the papers and sees the headline: MI6 Terrorist Attack. He says, “Oh. Do you want to take a look into it? Mycroft might actually think of asking you.”

He then skims the article. Someone initiated a gas leak and lighted it up. There were eight casualties, ninety-three wounded. Sherlock doesn’t really go for these kinds of cases though. Queen and country never did pique his interest. But then there was the missile plans case Mycroft gave them a year ago. John thought Sherlock ignored the case just to spite his brother but was proven wrong when Sherlock –

Sherlock abruptly gets up, startling John and interrupting his train of thought. Sherlock picks his scarf up and wraps it around his neck and goes to the door.

“Come on, John. We’re going out.”

John is confused but follows the man nonetheless.

“Out? Out where? I just got back!” John protests half-heartedly. He wants to be annoyed, but it has been quite a while since their last case. God forbid he was becoming bored.

“We’re going to pay someone a visit,” Sherlock replies and he goes down the stairs.

John looks at the disregarded groceries beside Sherlock’s experimental setups. John ought to put them away, but with Sherlock’s impatient “Are you coming, John?” he heads out as well.

 

--

 

Their cab pulls over a small posh-looking building. Sherlock enters it wordlessly and John pays the cabbie before going after him. Someone has to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble too much.

When John got inside, Sherlock was already half-way up the stairs. John follows, exasperated. They go up two more flights of stairs then Sherlock walks briskly down the fourth floor’s hallway. He suddenly stops in front of a door and John almost bumps into him.

Sherlock turns around twice. His eyes focus on one thing then another. He tilts his head sniffs the air and finally faces the door on John’s left.

Sherlock claps his hands once and says, “He’s still not here. Good. Let’s make ourselves at home then.”

John starts at that, “What –? Sherlock!”

The man in question takes out his lock pick and flails his coat as he kneels.

John whispers, “You can’t just break into somebody’s home.”

Without looking up, Sherlock replies, “We already did it countless of times. What’s different this time?”

“You haven’t given me any explanation as to why and whose flat this is. And it looks like someone who could and would actually sue us! We’re not even on a case as far as I know.”

Sherlock scoffs and doesn’t stop, “Oh worry not, John. I’m rather close to the owner of the flat.”

John squints at him, “So why don’t we just give them a call, tell them we’re waiting outside their bloody door?”

“But where’s the fun in that?” John sees Sherlock smirk and with a final twist of his wrist, the door opens. When they enter, Sherlock reaches for a black box on the wall. He opens it to reveal a keypad and he enters a series of numbers and letters.

John rolls his eyes and says, “Deducing people and figuring out their key code is not really ‘being close to them.’ You know that, right?”

“He told me himself the code that overrides the security system. Unfortunately, he confiscated my keys a while back.”

“You had keys to someone’s flat? Who is this person? Don’t tell me this is an actual friend?”

“I have no friends, John. He’s more of an acquaintance.” Sherlock steps further in and takes a left to the flat’s kitchen before continuing, “Now fancy a cuppa? I know where he hides his hidden stash of exotic tea.”

 

--

 

After half an hour, the door handle rattles as someone turns it. A figure enters and stops abruptly in the middle of the sitting room. The lights were off since John insisted they conserve energy since the electrical bill wasn’t theirs to pay. John is starting to see how this was a bad idea as he looked ominous and threatening in the dark.

He was just about to approach the man to explain, but before John could register what was going on, he was on the floor with the carpet chafing his cheek. He feels the cold barrel of the gun pointed at his head and hears the safety clicking.

The newcomer’s knees dig on John’s back as he speaks, “Who are you and how did you get in? There are two of you, I can tell. Where’s your accomplice?”

As if on cue, Sherlock enters the sitting room. Through squinted eyes John sees the man point another gun towards Sherlock, who says, “Through the front door, of course.”

The man withdraws the gun pointed at Sherlock with a frustrated sigh.

Sherlock added, “Will you let John stand, Gabriel? He’s going to strain a muscle in that pose.”

The man, Gabriel, sighs again. The pressure on John’s back of the head and the weight on his back are off.

“My apologies, Dr Watson,” Gabriel says as he offers a hand to help John up. He turns then to Sherlock, “What are you doing here, Sherlock?”

Sherlock gets a pinched look, “Isn’t it obvious?”

Gabriel puts his guns on top of the coffee table and proceeds to the kitchen, “Sentiment is not exactly your strongest point, so no, it’s not. But if that is why you’re here, you can see that I’m fine and you can now go.”

He reaches for his can of tea and takes one good look and groans, “Oh bloody hell, Sherlock. Who gave you permission to drink my tea?”

“You’re still tetchy about your tea, then?” Sherlock brings a mug and places it on the counter near Gabriel. So the git could really make a cuppa. Why do I always have to make one for him at home? John thinks.

“I just don’t like it when people touch my things.” Gabriel takes a sip and hums his satisfaction.

Sherlock changes the subject, “You don’t look fine. You look like you haven’t slept for thirty-six hours.”

“A little closer to seventy-two, actually. And I’m here to get some sleep, so please piss off. What are you doing here? The bombing was four days ago.”

“I smashed our telly a few weeks back and Mycroft didn’t inform me. I learned about your predicament in a newspaper and you know how slow they are. And we’ve been busy.”

Gabriel flashes a sarcastic smile (if smiles can be sarcastic), “Glad to know I’m at least on your top five priority. I really would like to sleep. I’ve been coding for three days straight, both trying to catch the source of the signal for the trigger and fortifying the firewalls.”

The bombing. Four days ago? Wait, does this mean that this man is MI6? John thinks, but before he could get a word in Sherlock says, “So you haven’t found the bomber, yet?”

“No, but we’re working on it. And no, I don’t need your help. This is my area of expertise and I can handle it.”

“It’s someone from the inside, isn’t it?”

“Yes. So now you understand that MI6 is a little hesitant in trusting people. Let alone from someone outside the agency.”

John finally was able to let out an “I’m sorry, but you’re from MI6?” which was overlooked by Sherlock’s “You can’t possibly think that those idiots could survive without me.”

Gabriel snorts, “Right, but they have me in charge now.”

“Of course, they truly are idiots if they didn’t assign you as such. Congratulations on the promotion, Q.”

 John does a double take, “Q as in –?”

Gabriel cuts him off, “Yes, Dr Watson, as in Quartermaster, and yes, as in from MI6. And if you told any other person than those who are in this flat, we would be forced to eliminate you.”

“Are you threatening John?” Sherlock’s eyes darken.

Gabriel waves him off, “Standard procedure. I know he’s trustworthy enough.” He runs his fingers through his hair and addresses John, “Forgive me, Dr Watson. I wish we could have met on better circumstances. I’m not normally this rude. Must be the lack of sleep and Sherlock here. Families always have the tendency to bring out the worst of you, especially the most immediate ones.”

“F-family?” John asks, “there are more of you?”

Gabriel chuckles and dons a small, sad smile, “Just me, don't worry. I’m the only one left.” He closes his eyes and starts to massage his temples. He suddenly blurts out, “It’s not Moriarty. I know that’s the main reason that you’re here.”

He opens his eyes and stares at Sherlock’s, “You think Moriarty is behind the attack, but I’ve been careful. No one knows about me or our relation.”

“So someone new,” Sherlock replies.

“Or someone from the past coming back to haunt MI6,” Gabriel shakes his head. “The date of the bombing is a symbolism: the beginning of autumn or fall. He’s trying to say that the dark days are ahead. And they waited for M to be outside the building. Meaning: he wanted to show-off, to look clever, to be seen. Meaning: this was carefully planned. This has to be from someone who holds a grudge against MI6.”

“You have some ideas, then?”

Gabriel hums, “About twenty. And like I said, we’re handling it. Now please leave? I don’t think I can handle standing any longer. And I’d rather not have you staying in my flat while I sleep.”

“You spies and your paranoia.”

“I just don’t want you snooping, Sherlock.”

“Sure, sure. Take care, Gabriel.”

“You, too, Sherlock.” Gabriel nods to John, “ Dr Watson. Let’s have some tea after all this madness has died down. Though I’m quite sure my hours would be longer now that I’m Q.” He sighs again, “Good night to the both of you. Please lock the door on your way out.”

 

--

 

As John and Sherlock are in a cab on their way home, John says, “Huh. Who knew that you could be a loving brother? Well, as loving as a Holmes could be.”

Sherlock lets out a snort, “What stupid thing could possibly have led you to that conclusion?”

“You were worried about him, actually worried. Moriarty never crossed your mind at all, did he? You just let Gabriel think you only cared about Moriarty because you’re too embarrassed to admit that you care for him. And besides, you made tea for him. You have never made a cuppa in all the two years I’ve met you.”

“I made you one during the Baskerville case!”

“Yeah, to drug me.”

John bumps their shoulders and touches his nose, “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Heaven forbid that the whole world would know that Sherlock Holmes is actually a decent human being.”

Chapter Text

Everything feels like a dream.

It has been eleven months, thirty-one days, nineteen hours, and twenty-seven minutes since the incident. It has been so long since the fall, since the death of John’s best friend.

The day is as normal as it gets. John pours himself some whisky, leans on the kitchen counter as he downs it, and he waits. What he waits for, John doesn’t know. Maybe he waits for the opening notes of Bach to be played in the violin. Maybe he waits for the tinkling of glass as they get picked up and put down for some experiment. Maybe he waits for the stench of rotting body parts to hit him as he opens the fridge.

He finishes the bottle, but John keeps waiting for things that will never become.

His phone on the counter vibrates with a notification that he’s scheduled to meet Ella on Saturday. He barely manages to keep himself from throwing the damn thing across the kitchen. What’s the point? He thinks, Why bloody bother?

He needs to go out. He knows he can’t stay here any longer. The longer he stays, the more he sees. The longer he stays the more he becomes hyper-aware of the gun he keeps in the bedside drawer in his room. The longer he stays, the more he sees and all he could see is him. John sees him by the window, in his chair, in the kitchen, and then he sees how he jumped off the roof of St. Bart’s.

John sees his hands taking a gun, putting it in his mouth and –

He leaves. He goes out the door and leaves the loud bang and his visions in exchange for the autumn chill.

 

--

 

John walks aimlessly around London and he ends up at the park.

He doesn’t have anywhere in particular to go to. He just walks as the wind bites his nose and leaves crunch under his feet. He feels these sensations around him at the same time he doesn’t. It feels as if the wind passes right through him and the ground he walks on is actually air and that he should be careful not to miss a step or he’ll fall.

It’s like his whole being is wrapped in a filter and he’s suffocating in it.

He walks some more until he sees someone on the bench. He stops dead in his tracks as he takes in the unruly mop of dark hair and the upturned collar of a blue coat. The impossible man has his back on John so he doesn’t see his face, but he knows that it’s him. He seems a bit thinner, John thinks. A blond man in a suit with two cups of coffee approaches. The sitting man tilts his head up at the newcomer and John could almost see the cutting cheekbone he knows the man have.

One moment John’s rooted on the spot, the next he’s marching towards the two men.

Without any preamble, he takes the man by the collar and demands, “You bastard! You better have an explana–“

And then he was ripped away from him by the other man, who twists John’s arm towards his back. He holds John in such a way that John is facing away from the man and in one move the man holding him could dislocate his shoulder.

“Arthur!” The man that John just assaulted shouts. John immediately realises his mistake. While the man does have a low voice, the pitch is still wrong. And when the blond man – Arthur, John supposes – pushes him a few steps away, John turns and actually looks. Everything is wrong. The man’s face is shorter, the ears bigger, and the cheekbones higher. The man is shorter, which is more distinguishable with how the man holds himself smaller.

And he looks at John like it’s the first time he sees him.

John then raises his hands and he tries to apologise when all he wants to do is cry. He doesn’t realise that he’s shaking because of course, it’s not him. He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s –

The man reaches out to him, hovering at John’s arm, but not touching, “You must be Doctor Watson? Why don’t you take a seat?”

John barely hears the quiet ‘Swefn’ by the man and he’s overwhelmed by the feeling of calmness. He sways a little and the man guides him to the bench. The blond man hovers and looks like what he wants is to put John in jail.

The man rolls his eyes, “Don’t worry, Arthur, he’s –“ he hesitates for a second, pursing his lips, “ – a family friend.”

John snorts, “I don’t have that many friends and we’re certainly aren’t. You just looked like someone I know.” Knew, his mind corrects him, because he’s dead, dammit.

We aren’t, but as I said, you’re a family friend. And well, I have been told countless times that I do look a lot like my brother.”

John couldn’t stop the gasp that leaves him, “There are more of you? I thought Gabriel was the last one?” How many secrets could a dead man possibly have?

“To be fair,” The man sits down beside John, not looking at him, “I was dead three months ago.”

“And you were brought back to life?” John desperately asks. He doesn’t like dabbling with magic, but if it can bring someone back, then why not? And to think that there exists a magical Holmes.

John just really, really wants his miracle.

“Not in the literal sense, no.” His hopes are then crushed by that statement. The man shrugs before continuing, “Something happened and I was presumed dead over three years ago.”

Arthur must have sensed something as he, too, sits and then takes the man’s hand. The latter smiles at the former and then to John he says, “I was lost, and then found again. My name’s Merlin, by the way.”

Merlin offers his free hand for John to shake. And when John took it, Merlin gives him a sad smile, “I know what you thought just moments ago, but we Holmeses set boundaries for ourselves and Necromancy is one of them. That kind of magic requires too high a price. A life for a life.”

And I would gladly give mine for him, John thinks. Something must have shown in his face because Merlin is too quick to say, “And no, your life is just as precious as Sherlock’s, Dr Watson.”

“Is it though?” John all but screeches. “I don’t think it does. You know, before meeting him, I was nothing. He gave me –“ his breath hitches, but he promises himself that he wouldn’t cry.

“He gave me life. And when he di–“ John sniffs just a bit, “When he jumped, it was as if he took my life with him. I am nothing compared to Sherlock Holmes. Who would care for a former army doctor who barely functions on a day-to-day basis?”

Merlin purses his lips and his next words are careful, “We find it hard to see that people care for us because we have this notion that broken people don’t get to ask to be loved.” He offers a small smile and continues, “However, isn’t that a bit egocentric and it forgets about the actual agency of other people? We aren’t loved because we ask to be loved like how we don’t love because other people asked us to.”

Merlin looks away from John and sets his gaze on the intertwined hands of his and Arthur’s. John follows his line of sight and sees Arthur’s thumb slowly caressing the back of Merlin’s hand. John’s chest constricts with envy and wills himself to look away.

He hears Merlin say, “We’re loved because other people deem us worthy of their love even if we think otherwise. We don’t ask for love because we think we’re too broken for it, but that doesn’t mean that someone would be stubborn enough to defy all logic. There are people who care for you, Dr Watson, even if you think there aren’t. You ought to remember that.”

Merlin grasps John’s arm so hard in hopes to make the latter listen, “And of course, another point is that you deserve to be happy. You have to let yourself be happy and be loved.”

He squeezes John’s arm, “Forgive yourself and free yourself.”

John lets out a wet laugh. He doesn’t want to believe what Merlin is saying. However, either Merlin is a mind-reader or reading him like his walls are transparent is a Holmesian inherent trait, Merlin says, “Whether you believe it or not, Dr Watson, your belief doesn’t make it any less true.”

He looks at Merlin and he sees a glint in his eyes. The same glint Sherlock gets – got – when he was winning an argument. John knows better than to argue with a Holmes. So he concedes, “Okay.”

And maybe, just maybe, John thinks that he’s right.

 

--

 

It has been a year, an hour, and thirty-one minutes since the fall. John isn’t suddenly okay with his best friend being dead, but maybe he will be.

After the heavy exchange, Merlin stirs the conversation on something lighter and they talk a bit more for almost two hours until Arthur gets a text saying that they should go.

“I’m still on probation,” Merlin explains, “Myc’s orders.”

“You let Mycroft treat you like a prisoner?” John asks incredulously.

“He just wants the best for me,” comes the defence.

 John wants to say more but with Arthur’s slight shake of the head, he drops it. They exchange numbers and Merlin says that John should feel free to drop by Gabriel’s flat if he ever wanted to talk more as it’s where Merlin is currently residing.

He feels more solid, like he’s actually here, as he walks back to Baker Street.

 

--

 

When he gets back, he finds Mrs Hudson sitting on the stairs to his flat. She says that she may not be his housekeeper but she made him some biscuits and tea. You are loved.

John stops holding it in and gathers Mrs Hudson in a hug. And then he cries for what felt like an eternity.

 

--

 

The next day he goes to work, refreshed.

And then his assistant introduces him to the new nurse who will be working with him.

“How are you, sir?” The nurse asked. “My name’s Mary. Mary Morstan.”

“I’m good, thanks. A pleasure to meet you, Mary.”

“Pleasure was all mine, sir.”

You have to let yourself be loved.