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Ariane DeVere
Sherlock fic: Next 
6th-Jun-2012 02:23 am
Sherlock - Now Tea (angrybeige)
Title: Next
Author: Ariane DeVere. Story Consultant: Verity Burns
Word count: 697
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to way more powerful and wealthy people than me.


“Next, please.” John released the intercom and sat back in his chair while he waited for the receptionist to send in his next patient. Despite his attempts to concentrate on his work, his mind began to wander, as it so frequently did even after all this time.

Sometimes there was a day when he didn’t think of him. Just occasionally John would go an entire day without thinking about the man who had given him a purpose in life. And he would wake the next morning and realise, and would ache with the pain ... but the pain was real and necessary, and he would be tempted to carve Sherlock’s name on his arm to make the pain even more real so he would never forget again.

A persistent tickly cough, and advice that over-the-counter medicine would actually be cheaper than if John wrote a prescription. The patient seemed indignant at being offered the less expensive option, certain that prescription medicine must by its very nature be more powerful. A tired explanation that ‘expensive’ didn’t mean ‘better’, and a disgruntled departure full of mumbling that next time she would go and see Doctor Sawyer instead.


Sometimes there was a day when he schemed: John had no idea whether there was an afterlife but if he and Sherlock eventually met in such a circumstance, he planned out in great detail what he would say to his former flatmate, and it wouldn’t be pleasant. He had so many things to tell him about his rage at being left behind with no rational explanation, his confusion at Sherlock’s obviously false admission of being a fake, his sense of betrayal that Sherlock apparently hadn’t been able to trust him ... and his grief at losing his only real friend. If there was a rule against punching spirits in the afterlife, John was very likely to be booted out and would spend the rest of eternity in a much darker place. It might just be worth it.

A lump under the skin of the man’s arm which had only appeared during the last couple of weeks. A recommendation to keep monitoring it and to come back if it got any larger. An addition to the patient’s notes to put a flag on the computer to phone the patient and check that all was well if he hadn’t come back within two months.


Sometimes there was a day when he wrote a long blog entry about the pain, or about the words he intended to say. He would pour out all his anguish, his rage, his guilt ... and then delete the draft. Not even Ella knew about it – despite his therapist’s encouragement that he should write down his feelings, he could never bring himself to tell her what he was doing. There didn’t seem any point: his outpourings of emotion never made him feel any better afterwards.

A request for a repeat prescription of anti-depressants from a mother of two youngsters who wasn’t coping well with parenthood. A long conversation allowing her to pour out her woes, a suggestion that she seek counselling as a better alternative to help her with her troubles, a list of telephone numbers to call ... and a momentary temptation after the patient had left to write out the ’scrip anyway and fill it for himself.

“Next, please.”

And sometimes – just sometimes – there was a day when he was so busy working in the surgery that he didn’t have time to think about the pain, or the words he might say, or what he might write in his blog. Today was not such a day. The patients’ ailments were fairly mundane and predictable and not enough to distract him in between appointments. John hoped that his next patient might be someone more interesting, someone who would take his mind off his continuing anguish for just a few precious minutes.

“So, what can I do for you, Mr. ...” John looked at the name on the card on his desk “... Sigerson?”

What happened next, after the man in the hooded jacket finally raised his head and met his eyes, would never appear on John’s blog.


Author’s Note: It takes more than a few thousand miles of distance to keep a Verity Burns down, and I couldn’t have done this without her help. This story was trying to be a 221B but even I knew that it didn’t feel right and so sent it to my other plotbunny, verityburns, despite her being on holiday with her family in America. In what was apparently a blessed break from running around theme parks, she took a look at it and agreed that it wasn’t working and then tossed in a few ideas about how it might improve, though she was aware that it might mess up the word count.

I promptly mis-read part of her email and took off in an even more different direction, but both of us agreed that it felt better regardless of the fact that my little 221B grew to almost 700 words. But at least the now almost-obligatory final ‘b’ word stayed put.

Couldn’t have done it without you, Vez. How you do it with nothing but not-salt-and-vinegar crisps chips to keep you going is a mystery to me. Love you! Have a lovely holiday ... but come home soon! x

6th-Jun-2012 02:04 am (UTC)
You are really WAY too generous with your credit-sharing, my love - all I did was throw in a couple of suggestions, this is all you... and it's brilliant!

I love the way you've broken it down with the various patients, building up to the ultimate one. I have to say, though... I can't be the only one (yes, I'm looking at you, chocolamousse!) who is left wanting to see the unwritten blog entry resulting from the last few lines...


6th-Jun-2012 02:44 am (UTC)
Oh, pshaw, woman - if it hadn't been for your 'couple of suggestions' I'm not sure I would have found a way forward for this thing.

And FCOL do not encourage chocolamousse - not that she needs any encouraging ... No doubt she'll find something to slash in just about every sentence anyway.
6th-Jun-2012 02:29 am (UTC)
Gah! This gave chills. Could just picture that moment, their eyes meeting...and John suffering some sort of arrhythmia, I'm sure.
6th-Jun-2012 02:42 am (UTC)
Thanks! I kind of see John passing out a la Conan Doyle canon, hence him never having the guts to tell his readers on his blog!
6th-Jun-2012 03:07 am (UTC)
Well then.

I can see John just sitting there, in complete shock.
For about three seconds.
Then the punch. Which would be glorious, and they are already at a clinic, so John will patch him up, all the while bitching him out and begging to know how he did it, and where he's been . . . I think this story needs an encore!
6th-Jun-2012 03:48 am (UTC)
Poor Sherlock - why do so many people want John to thump him?! I mean, yeah, I can totally see it, but still ...!

Well, at least he'll be in the right place to get treated ...
6th-Jun-2012 05:57 am (UTC)
I guess Sherlock would expect the punch. What if John just would start with the bickering? From the build up that would fit perfectly. Sherlock might for once be the one being surprised and gobsmacked – not getting a word into the flow of John’s righteous anger. Well, and then he would have to get over to John and the whole thing would end with one of these Verity kisses (she's got to have some blueprints for them). And after that!

*wanted to write ellipses, but thought the better of it, this being the Ariane de Vere*

Hmm. Sequel? I mean the title is ‘Next’.
6th-Jun-2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Blueprints?! I'm hoping she's got video.

Ah yes, it would be a braver person than you who would risk the DeVere wrath over ellipses ...
6th-Jun-2012 08:44 am (UTC)
But at least the now almost-obligatory final ‘b’ word stayed put.
Do you think we are contagious? *lol*

I was seriously dreading to read on after I realised what this was about, I'm so glad you wrote a happy ending. Though sadly the entry is missing the make up sex they then have in John's office. *ahem*
6th-Jun-2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
'b' words are definitely contagious for me. I don't seem to be able to end a story without one!

After having to hide in the cellar after the reaction to Revelation, d'you think I would dare do another unhappy ending?! Well, not for a while anyway ... ;-)
6th-Jun-2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
awwww I adore this. I'm such a sucker for post-hiatus reunion fics :p well done. Love the angst and then how you leave it all to our imaginatiion :-)

My favourite part, though, is this one:
If there was a rule against punching spirits in the afterlife, John was very likely to be booted out and would spend the rest of eternity in a much darker place.

LOVE this.
6th-Jun-2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm a devil for leaving it to readers to make up their own endings. Or maybe I'm just too damned lazy to finish these stories off.

Glad you enjoyed it. And can I add how lovely it was to meet you a couple of weeks ago!
6th-Jun-2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
You *are* a master of surprise!
Love it. Thanks.
10th-Jun-2012 12:16 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it!
6th-Jun-2012 06:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, I adore the ending! (though I'd love to see what happens next.) This was really good. Angsty without being too much, great buildup to that end. Wonderful!
10th-Jun-2012 12:16 am (UTC)
Thanks! I appear to be being repeatedly urged to write a sequel, though there's no particular inspiration yet. We'll see ...
7th-Jun-2012 09:55 pm (UTC) - Next...
I would really like to see what happens next... Will there be another short to follow maybe? Or maybe the blog entry that got deleted? ;)
10th-Jun-2012 12:14 am (UTC) - Re: Next...
Ooh, I dunno. I'm not known for writing sequels. But have a word with VerityBun, my fluffy plotbunny, and see if she gets any ideas!
8th-Jun-2012 01:24 am (UTC)
aaaaaaaand it's cannon. ready? Go.
8th-Jun-2012 07:54 am (UTC)
Argh, I haven't commented! That's what happens if I read a story in the middle of the night. Sorry.

I can only imagine how hard all this time without Sherlock must have been and this story really sums it up for me. Heartbreaking.
10th-Jun-2012 12:15 am (UTC)
Well, it wasn't meant to be too heartbreaking and at least it had a potentially happy ending this time, which is not always what I'm led to write!
25th-Jun-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, f***! Perfect! More? (opens her eyes reaaaaally wide and bats her lashes prettily).

Sorry, so sorry, I'm not prone to cursing, but fanfic brings something out of me that's really uncontrollable.
26th-Jun-2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
Ah, there's nothing wrong with a bit of cursing. I'm just happy that this fic prompted such a strong reaction!
11th-Jul-2012 08:50 am (UTC)
count me in - with all the others calling for an encore!
I do love the post-Reichenbach/Return stories, and this felt like a start in a good direction. I hope you get inspired to come back to it!

Edited at 2012-07-11 08:51 am (UTC)
11th-Jul-2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
Who knows? I certainly don't - and just because I'm not currently planning a sequel doesn't mean I might not suddenly get inspired one day!
14th-Aug-2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
29th-Aug-2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
Ah, now that's a good deal better! ^^ You've done a great job at capturing both the raw emotions and the numbness of ongoing grief, and the structure of the piece is brilliant.
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