By J.H. Watson
[Author’s Note: Absolutely slammed with work right now, but John and Sherlock wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote this one. I’ll be doing a bit about Season 3 later this week. Thanks for your patience.]
“What happened, John?”
God, how John Watson hated that question. It seemed to be how his therapist started every session lately. Of course, it would probably have helped if he saw her a bit more regularly.
But he’d see her and things seemed to be going better, so he’d skip the next session. And maybe the one after that. And sometimes the one after that. And then, well, then something would happen and he’d call up and make a new appointment.
John sat for a moment, silent. His therapist sat silent as well. John licked his lips and said, “Notcertain.”
John flattened his lips in a pinched frown before clearing his throat and saying, “I’m not certain.”
“What do you mean?”
So he told her about New Year’s and Sherlock’s birthday and what he could remember and what he couldn’t explain the next morning and how he’d been feeling like he was being watched, which might be true, but he hadn’t wanted to ask Mycroft and find out if it was true because it would just make him angry, or angrier, and whenever he thought of Mycroft he wanted to punch Mycroft and John figured that wasn’t a very healthy impulse on a lot of levels and what he really wanted for his life to just be normal.
He didn’t tell his therapist that he was really starting feel like he might be losing his mind from grief.
“What do you mean by normal, John?”
Oh, hell. Now I’ve stepped in it, he thought. Don’t say anything crazy.
“You know. Getting up and going to work at a decent job, a night out with friends from time to time. A girlfriend. Maybe with time it becomes serious and we get married, have kids, a mortgage. You know. I want to settle down.”
“Is that what you really want, John?”
No! What I want is a bloody miracle. I want Sherlock Holmes to walk through that door and to have it all the way it was before with his brain racing, my adrenalin pumping, and us solving crimes back at 221B. But that’s not going to happen, is it?
Instead, John answered, “Yes.” It was the answer he knew she wanted.
After the session, he did feel a little better. Of course, he always felt a bit better after the therapy sessions. That’s why John kept coming back. He’d feel better — for awhile.
John reached the door to his flat and hesitated. Along with the missing sweater, the disappearing flowers, the indexed sock drawer, there’s been other times when he’d felt things were different. Like the other day when he’d come home from the pub to find milk in the fridge and beans in the cupboard, but couldn’t remember shopping. But the cash receipt was there. Or the night he’d gone to put a splash of whiskey in his coffee and found the bottle nearly empty, but didn’t remember finishing it. Or the time he couldn’t find his gun, but it showed up the next day under a magazine.
John stepped in and paused.
He didn’t see anything different. He let out the breath he’d been holding.
Get a grip on yourself, John Watson.
His therapist said he should focus on the “normal” aspects of his life, so John made a shopping list, gathered up his laundry, and went back out.
He waited while a man argued for ten minutes about the lipstick still on his collar. As the man stormed out, John dropped his laundry bag on the counter. The laundry employee glowered at him and then, apparently recognizing John, broke into a smile and said, “Can you believe that guy? Claiming that lipstick was our fault. Bet you ten quid he got drunk at pub or a club and just doesn’t remember gettin’ lucky. So the usual?”
“Uh, yeah. The usual is fine.”
“Next Tuesday then.”
John turned to leave when the employee stopped him with “Oi! Don’t forget your jumper.”
“Cream. Cable. Back in a tic.”
The employee disappeared for a moment, returning holding John’s missing jumper. As he handed it to John, he said, “Good as new. Beers easier to get out than lipstick.”
“Uh, yeah. Thanks.”
John stepped out and stared at the jumper in his arms. Ooo,kay. So he apparently did take the jumper to the cleaners after a binge and just didn’t remember it. John was glad he hadn’t mentioned the missing jumper to Harry. After all the lectures he’d given her about her drinking problem, she’d never let him live this one down.
He started walking to the store for the shopping. As he passed the shop with the large display of floral bouquets, an attractive young woman with an apron asked, “Problem at the cemetery?”
John stopped. “Wait? What cemetery?”
“When you bought the flowers you said they were a birthday gift, but then I heard you tell the taxi driver to take you to a cemetery.”
“I did? When was this?”
“How can you be so certain about the date?”
The young woman’s eyes narrowed. “Because a woman remembers when she’s stood up.”
John frowned. “Wait. What?”
The young woman smiled at him. John thought it was a charming smile. She said, “You don’t remember me, do you?”
“Yeah. Of course I do.” The young woman crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. The smile disappeared. “I…” John trailed off and glanced down at his shoes and then looked up from under his lashes and confessed, “Okay, sorry. I was pretty drunk apparently and…there are some gaps in memory about that night.”
The woman didn’t say anything for a moment, then she grinned. “You were definitely drunk. And bleeding. And smelly.”
“Then why’d you agree to go out with me?”
“You kept going on about missing your best friend’s birthday. Or maybe it was missing your best friend on his birthday. You weren’t exactly clear. But you were kind of cute and I felt kind of sorry for you.”
John straightened. “Sorry for me.”
The young woman laughed. “Well, you gave me the most ridiculous line of bollocks I’d ever heard to try and pick me up. You said you’d been a detective with your friend and the two of you had solved major cases for the police. You even claimed to have fought a criminal mastermind. Oh, and you said that you knew someone who worked for MI6 and the CIA. You even tried to tell me that you were a doctor.”
“I am a doctor!”
The young woman raised both eyebrows and looked at John from head to toe and back again and then she held his gaze. He said, “I’m a retired army doctor.”
She tipped her head and asked, “Retired?”
“I was invalided out. I got shot.”
Suspicion still in her voice, the woman asked, “Afghanistan or Iraq?”
“Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.”
“My brother’s in that regiment!”
“What’s his name? I might have known him.”
“Same as mine.”
There was an awkward pause. The woman grinned at John. “You don’t remember my name.”
“I… Sorry. I can only remember the highlights of that night.”
The woman smirked and crossed her arms again. John replayed the last sentence in his head and hastily added, “I mean I can only remember the unpleasant highlights of that night. Not that meeting you wasn’t a highlight.”
“You’re really bad at this. I thought it was just because you were drunk that night, but you were actually better at it drunk.”
“No, it’s cute.”
John glanced at the woman. “So maybe a rain check on the date?”
“It just so happens I don’t have any plans tomorrow night and there’s absolutely nothing on the telly.”
John smiled. “Great! I’ll pick you up?”
“I get off here at six.”
“Right. Here at six tomorrow.”
John started to turn away, stopped, and turned back. “Uhm…”
The young woman was grinning. “I wondered when you’d ask my name. Again.”
“Sorry. I won’t forget it again. Promise.”
“Here.” She handed him one of the bouquets. “To help your remember.” John took the flowers and raised his eyebrows. She continued, “It’s Summer Bloom.”
“You said that last time, too. See you tomorrow night, John Watson or else.”
“Or else what?”
“Or else you’ll find yourself facing a Summer storm.”
With that she went back into the shop. John sniffed the flowers and smiled to himself. Right. He’d taken the sweater to the cleaners and the flowers to the cemetery. He wasn’t losing his mind. He was just drinking too much.
“Time to lay off the booze,” John told the bouquet.
A passing weedy youth glared over his shoulder at John and said, “Piss off!”
“It went just like you said it would. I even got a dinner date out of it.”
“I know, Ms. Bloom. You had the pork with a Pinot Noir. He had the beef with a Pellegrino. Coffee with pudding.”
Summer Bloom’s eyes widened. Sherlock Holmes passed her an envelope and continued, “Thank you for your assistance.”
“My pleasure. Really. He’s sweet.” She picked up the envelop, slid off the bar stool, then paused. “If you don’t mind my asking, what was that lie about the date and taking the flowers to the cemetery all about?”
“Some behavioural modification.” Summer simply looked at Sherlock so he continued, “I wanted him to stop drinking so I arranged it so he believed that the drinking was negatively affecting his cognitive awareness.”
“I thought you said he was your friend?”
“Wow! Do you have a lot of friends?”
Summer rolled her eyes and said, “I wonder why.” Then she turned and left.
Sherlock Holmes watched the gaze of various men, and a few women, follow Summer Bloom out of the bar. He pushed his hipster glasses back up to the bridge of his nose, ran a hand through his now ginger hair, and stared into his empty coffee cup.
The bartender came over and asked, “You want anything besides coffee?”
To go home. To have everything back to normal, Sherlock thought.
Aloud he said, “No, thank you.”
### The End ###