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John Holmes

BBC Sherlock fanfic
Rating 12 (het)
Spoilers: The Blind Banker
Written for a prompt I now can't trace about this blog post in which John attempts to stop people confusing himself and Sherlock.
2100 words
 

 

Once Sherlock had gone out, John started his regular internet check of possible threats to his and Sherlock's lives. As usual, he wondered why he was the one who ended up doing this: he wasn't the computer genius. On the other hand, Sherlock was a man who, once he had decoded an obscure message placed on his website's forum, was perfectly capable of ignoring important details. There were more practical responses to the message 'YOU WILL BE SHOT AT MIDDAY TOMMORROW' than attempting to deduce the author's educational background and how many fingers he typed with.

Nothing alarming on 'The Science of Deduction' this time, however. Just a quick check on Google then. Twelve million results, but no real need to check more than the first two or three pages. It mystified him why criminals should want to announce on the internet their plan to kill Sherlock at all, let alone use search engine optimisation techniques to boost their page rank, but then he wasn't an evil psychopath.

He started scanning down the first page of hits rapidly. Mainly harmless stuff about Sherlock's forthcoming trip to America. Then he got to the 'Images of Sherlock Holmes' and several versions of a familiar face gazed out at him. Far too familiar: no ruffled black curls and high cheekbones, just a plain stocky man, who looked like he'd seen too much trouble. Himself.

Half an hour later, he was really getting to hate that face. Did that idiot not realise that by having his mug plastered all over the internet as 'Sherlock Holmes' he was setting himself up as a target for every criminal gang going? Just like...oh, God. Back to his own blog: his picture had disappeared from the top corner, but maybe that was just WordPress hating him. Must try and find the right post, it'd be before he wrote up the Blind Banker case, what had he called it? "FYI", that was it. There was the post, explaining succinctly to the criminals of London, with pictures, who he was, and who Sherlock was. Except the pictures were now reversed.

It was an hour more before Sherlock came home. That had given John time to dispose of the hypotheses that he was drunk, drugged, or had a tumour affecting his optical nerve. Unfortunately it had also meant he had had rather a long time not to look in the mirror. Because if he did look in the mirror in order to be absolutely sure that his face had not mysteriously been replaced by Sherlock's, that would not be a good sign. Instead, he reminded himself that since he had eliminated the impossible, whatever remained, however improbable, must be the truth. (Unless, of course, he'd accidently forgotten the blindingly obvious).

"Sherlock", he said, as his flatmate bounded in, "Have you been tampering with the internet again?"

"Sounds rather a big job, even for me. You need someone with rather more influence than that."

"Then why has your picture been replaced with mine?" He belatedly realised what Sherlock's first answer implied. "Mycroft?"

"Of course. "

"Why?"

"You remember I'm off to the States next month to collect a Congressional Medal, after foiling that assassination attempt on the President? It's odd by the way, isn't it, how it's always the Klu Klux Klan, when it isn't the Mormons. Anyhow, I'm not going. You are."

"I reckon that might be taken as an insult to the entire American people. It's not like the Oscars, you're supposed to turn up yourself, I think."

"Don't be an idiot, John. You're going as me. Hence the need to prepare the American public."

"But how do you think you can fool everyone? Even if you change what's on the internet, there's passport control, the FBI, the CIA..." John ground to a halt. "Can Mycroft really get them to agree to this?"

"Of course. But you haven't yet asked the obvious question." John stood and looked at Sherlock, trying to work out whether he meant Sherlock-obvious or John-obvious, because that would at least give him a starting point

"Does it pain you that you can't think properly or do you just take it for granted by now? The obvious question, John, is why you need to go in my place? Or rather, why I need to be somewhere other than where I'm very publicly supposed to be?"

Put like that, yes, even John could now see that something might be more at stake than sibling one-upmanship. "Mycroft wants you to go somewhere secretly, and you've agreed?"

"I do occasionally co-operate with him."

John hastily tried to remember the foreign news from the last week, and came up sadly short. There wasn't another bloody Korean election due, was there? Floods, heatwaves: not even Sherlock could solve global warming, surely? Not.. oh please, not...

" Afghanistan?" he whispered.

"No. I wouldn't agree to go there without you. Iran."

He argued, of course, for several weeks in fact. But with Sherlock and Mycroft on the same side, it was futile in the end. A ten day visit to Washington awaited him, along with the expectation of the greatest humiliation of his life.  A man didn't have to live down the Black Lotus mistake, but he was almost certainly now going to be revealed as an idiot and an imposter on prime-time TV. It couldn't possibly work.

***

He'd forgotten that Mycroft was rather more practical than Sherlock. Once he was there, the quality of his daily briefings meant it was hard not to come out with 'amazing deductions' about everyone he came into contact with. He had to remember to come out with vaguely plausible reasons for how he knew that the senator he met was harbouring secret plans to run away with an illegal immigrant. And , of course, for the really important occasions, he had the feed in his ear. He couldn't imagine how they could possibly have the technology that could get Sherlock in Iran being able to tell him instantaneously exactly what to say half way across the world, but apparently they did.

He got so used to it, saying Sherlock's words for him, almost imagining once or twice that he was becoming Sherlock, that it alarmed him when they said that for his personal meeting with the President he'd have to have Mycroft as his feed instead. No, there was nothing wrong with Sherlock, they insisted. It was just that they didn't dare let him talk to the most powerful man in the world, even through another man's lips. John spoke Mycroft's words for that hour and it felt all wrong, and he was so frustrated about that that he wasn't even sure afterwards whether Mycroft had been trying to start another war or not.

But even when he didn't have the feed or the briefings to help, it didn't seem to matter. Maybe it was that anything said in a British accent seemed to be taken as clever or at least amusing by American audiences. The papers were full of gushing articles about how his razor-sharp mind would suddenly emerge from behind his unassuming manner and shabby clothing. Sherlock wasn't going to like the latter, but not even the finest British tailoring could make John look Byronic. And there were some things that John could manage better than Sherlock...

He hadn't, he really hadn't expected the groupies. He was on duty, so he ignored them, and he rapidly grew used to politely declining approaches from those he was officially introduced to. But then he led his guard down at the White House dinner and dance. That clumsy waltz he had with Laura Fairlie: it wasn't just that he'd tripped over her feet, but that the physical contact made his subsequent claims of asexuality completely implausible, even to a less experienced woman than Laura.

***

Laura was experienced, all right, but she was also smart, funny and surprisingly sweet, even if rather too tall for him. And really, how could he have found someone more suitable for a brief affair? She was a White House aide: she didn't bat an eyelid when the secret service men came round first thing each morning, just slipped off discreetly. And she seemed completely unconcerned about calling him John at night and Mr Holmes during the day, as if he was a mere acquaintance.

John had stammered and blushed as he'd explained it that first night in bed: "Sherlock was really a bit of a mouthful, but Mum, Mummy had a thing about unusual names. I'd prefer it if you called me John, it's my middle name." She'd replied, with absolute savoir-faire: "Well I'm officially Brandy Lauren Fairlie, so I've got no cause to object to John."

He hadn't checked the briefing papers on her afterwards to see if that really was her name. He hadn't looked at them at all, even though they turned up every day. He wanted to learn about her the normal way, and he didn't think he did badly, given the other constraints on his time. By the last night, he was sorry he would have to leave her, but how could you maintain a relationship with someone when you weren't who they thought you were? There were times he thought maybe she did care for him, for John, not just for the famous Sherlock Holmes, but he didn't dare push the thought further. And yet she'd seemed somehow to understand the last night, when he'd had a bit too much to drink and started talking about how he wasn't really the person he seemed to be.

"None of us are," she told him, "what matters is what we are now, just the two of us here." Then she'd started taking off his trousers and he'd rather lost the thread of the conversation.

***

The secret service men came even on the last day, when he'd hoped to be able to linger in bed with her. "Don't mind about me", she said, dressing hastily as they paced up and down outside the hotel bedroom. "I'll just pop down into the lounge and do some blogging there."

"Blogging?" said John, with a sudden note of horror, but she was already gone. When he'd finally got rid of the MI5 men, he looked hastily through the file on Brandy Lauren Fairlie (and she'd told him the truth about her age as well, though not about the reason for the scar on her arm). Nothing there, nothing there, and then the simple statement: "her online identity has not yet been confirmed".

***

Once he was back in England it took him six months to find her blog. Someone more knowledgeable about computers would no doubt have found it more quickly, but he obviously couldn't mention it to anyone else, and he could only carry out the searching in internet cafes. When he found the blog, he spent more time looking at that than he should have done.

It wasn't as bad as it might have been. Well, that depended on how you looked at it. She'd been fairly discreet: it was only if you were looking for SH and specific dates and places that you'd find it. And it did seem that it'd been John she fell for as much as Holmes. On the other hand, some of the descriptions of what they'd got up to were alarming. They'd been inventive, well, she'd been inventive, but there was quite a lot of creativity in the blog posts as well. He wasn't really quite like that.

He'd hesitated for a week before going to Mycroft, and it was only after he'd read some of the posts enough times that they felt burnt into his hard drive...brain. But if he could find the blog, despite its obscurity, soon or later there was a chance it would come to Sherlock's attention.

"Why won't you wipe it?" he asked Mycroft. "Come off it, of course you can do it. It's one little blog, not half the bloody internet. And you owe me, you know you do."

"Sorry, it's simply not feasible," said Mycroft. "US freedom of information regulations, you know. Besides, I don't see what harm it would do even if Sherlock did read it."

"It might give him...ideas."

"That sounds absolutely splendid. Excuse me while I bookmark it. Anthea will take you home, now, by the way, unless there's anything more. Give my regards to Sherlock."

"Yes," said John, and went out thinking, once an idiot, always an idiot.