His Last Bow - The Adventures of John Watson

What happened to John after Sherlock's death? What happens to Sherlock after John's death?
Canon up until The Reichenbach fall - doesn't fit with season three.
Cover by the amazing @Squonk of the Nightshade

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5. The Final Problem

Silence fell. Even the sun seemed to bow its head in respect as the coffin was lowered into the ground. A stillness that no noise could penetrate settled, not just over the churchyard, but the entire area; no birdsong could be heard, no breeze rustled the leaves, no traffic rumbled past. The tears that slid silently down cheeks were frozen in the moment – glistening jewels of pure emotion.

The world saluted John Watson.

“We commit this body to the ground…”

The minister’s voice was quiet, but in this muted world, it carried easily to Sherlock’s anxious ears.

John’s spirit was finally free from the shackles that had held him down all these years. The weight of Sherlock’s ‘death’ that had been slowly drowning him had been lifted. All the people he failed to save swept away into meaninglessness. But this meant more weight on the people left behind.

The ones left behind are the cursed – burdened and broken. It does no good to dwell on the dead.

War was not glorious. He’d been crippled in more ways than one long before he’d met Sherlock. He’d died how he lived – protecting others in a foolish act of bravery, just as he’d done with Sherlock.

 

“Put pressure just there, Thompson. Just a few more minutes and we’ll have you back to safety.” The young man lay in a pool of his own blood, a ragged hole in his abdomen. His face was twisted with pain, but his gaze was strong as he looked up at the man who could save his life. Captain Watson, hands steady, was sorting out his instruments, making a makeshift bandage from the tattered remains of Thompson’s jacket.

He was in his element, but even John was not immune to pressure. He kept glancing around the area, watchful as always for enemies, or, more optimistically, reinforcements so they could get to cover. He was acutely aware of how vulnerable they were out in the open. But Thompson would die if they moved him now.

“You’ll be fine, soldier. We just need to stop the bleeding.” The doctor’s voice was calm, but inside he was worried. There was no exit wound for the bullet, and without the necessary aid in the next few minutes, Thompson would die. Although he hated to admit it, the likelihood that Thompson would survive was small. Captain Watson never let a soldier in his care die if he could help it. But there was only so much he could do. He was only human.

 

Only human. John could not have been described as only anything. He was human. He bled. He died. But not only human. He was a hero.

Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist and if they did I wouldn’t be one of them.

Sherlock knew now that he had been wrong. Heroes do exist, and John Watson had been one. But Sherlock was not. He’d faked his death, hurting his only friend. That was an act of cowardice, not heroism. He stood by that.

Lestrade bowed his head. It had hit him hard, losing John. To be honest, he’d lost John the moment Sherlock jumped. But at least they’d had each other then. John had stopped him from collapsing, motivating him to continue his police work. Lestrade had, he’d thought, stopped John from destroying himself by turning to drink, or worse. He hadn’t foreseen this outcome. He felt at least partially guilty.

 

The guilt was worse than the anguish he felt at the loss of a comrade. The feeling that he could have somehow prevented all these deaths. The pointlessness of war.

A groan from the prone soldier brought his attention back to the situation at hand.

“John…” A voice that was painfully weak reached out in desperation. “Tell her...tell Felicity I love her.”

He looked down, away from the gore that made up the man’s torso, but found his hands blood-stained.

“Hold on, Oliver. You will get through this.”

He wished he could believe it.

 

Molly had seen many dead people in her time at Bart’s, but this was different. She had known John. This was not part of her job description. She persevered anyway, for that was her way. She’d lost Sherlock, although not physically, and now John. Molly had known enough suffering in her life to know she had to move on. Before the pain her heart held burst and she imploded. She'd had no stability in her life since Sherlock. Crazy as it sounds, he'd made her feel secure, balanced in a way no one else could, especially since Ji - Moriarty. Now, she felt like a spinning top spiralling into darkness, helpless to resist the forces much stronger than her.

 

They sat in silence for a minute. Blood seeped through the bandage, despite John’s best efforts. Thompson had shut his eyes against the glaring sun as the pain intensified. He could feel Captain Watson's hands, gentle but strong, vainly trying to keep the wound clear of sand. He became aware of a series of vibrations running through the ground beneath him as even the earth's heart beat to keep him alive. He forced his sticky eyelids open. A shriek that morphed into a sob of pain made its way past his dry lips. John jumped at the sudden sound. He looked where his friend was pointing. Silhouetted against the setting sun he could see the figures of a group of men heading towards them. Enemy or ally, he could not tell.

 

Mary and Harry unconsciously stood close to each other, drawing strength from one other. They both missed John terribly - the ache in their hearts would never heal. Time heals all wounds? Maybe not this one. Over time, the pain would lessen, but right now it was agonisingly fresh. They both knew they could not afford to tumbled over the edge of mourning; Mary had Charlotte to look after, Harry was determined to make it up with Clara. They were not alone. Alone would really be hell.

 

He'd had a gun pointed at him before, but never with such intent. Such hatred in the eyes - the only feature visible. His mind was numb, but his hands never shook as he placed them behind his head.

 

"Earth to earth..."

 

He would not close his eyes. The barrel of the gun was dark and frightening, but he would not shut his eyes. He'd always thought he'd die surrounded by children, grandchildren and, of course, Mary. Not like this. Alone. Helpless. Forgotten.

Somewhere to the north, an unopened letter sat on a camp bed in a dusty tent. In bold letters it was addressed to Captain John Watson, and signed Mary x. It would never be opened.

 

"Ashes to ashes..."

 

One shot.

He was alone.

Two shots...

 

"Dust to dust."

 

 

 

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A/N - I was hoping to put at least two more chapters before this one, but I haven't had time. I may go back to them, I may not.

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