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Title: To Everything a Season
Author: [livejournal.com profile] daymarket
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: implied Sherlock/John
Word Count: ~2.3k
Spoilers: series 1, I would think
Warnings: zombies, implied gore, character death (highlight to read)
Notes: World War Z/Sherlock fusion. Written in the style of World War Z (a really depressing/awesome book about the zombie war), but you don't need to know anything about World War Z to understand it. I'll probably be writing a much longer version detailing the events in this fic, so stay tuned! :D
Summary: In the aftermath of the zombie war, Sherlock goes mute.


~*~

[The sight before me is of a picturesque pre-war cottage. The path ahead of me is shaded by trees, and there is a strange buzzing sound in the air. As I approach the house, it takes me a few minutes to realize that I am being watched. To my right stands a tall, thin man whose curly hair is liberally shot through with gray. He looks to be perhaps sixty years old.
 
The door opens. Dame Molly Hooper greets me with a smile.]
 
I’m glad you’re here. We really don’t get many visitors these days, you know. Well, don’t just stand there! Come on in! The bees’ll get in if the door stays open too long.
 
The bees?
 
They’re Sherlock’s. [She gestures at the man.] When we first moved here, there was only one hive, a wild one, out in the woods. Sherlock’s done wonders with them. [Mr. Holmes does not appear to react at the mention of his name. Dame Hooper sighs.] He’s sulking again. Don’t mind him. [She looks at me.] Well, come on, then.
 
[We enter the house. It appears to be rather old-fashioned, but it exudes a sense of warmth and comfort. I sit in a chair as Dame Hooper pours us both a cup of tea. She gazes down at her cup with a contemplative, almost wistful expression.]
 
You know, it’s silly, really. Tea, such a British stereotype, along with Queen and country and stiff upper lip. I used to be rather silly too, you know. So obsessed about childish crushes and…well. Certainly not the best of priorities, I’ll admit. It’s amazing how some things change.
 
[She smiles at me and sets the cup down carefully.]
 
And how some things don’t. We’re still here. One nation, one kingdom. Never thought much about patriotism before all this, but it’s amazing how quickly Zeds can set your priorities straight. You know what my biggest worry was before the war started? How to get a man. Because it turned out that my previous boyfriend was a bit wrong in the head and I still had a desperate crush on someone who didn’t even really know that I existed. My time was for my own problems, not anyone else’s.
 
Being heroic was John’s thing. He was the ex-soldier who wanted to save people, preserve some semblance of order during the early years. And he succeeded to some extent, I think. The Panic in Great Britain never got quite as bad as what you lot got on the other side of the Atlantic.
 
You’re talking about Lieutenant General John Watson of the Royal Isles Corps?
 
Yes, although the Royal Isles Corps didn’t exist back then. In the beginning, it was just me and John and Sherlock, locked up in quarantine. I was busy panicking because John had just shot a moving corpse on my examination table. I mean, I was used to dead bodies, but most of them don’t actually move, you know? At that time, everybody was still on Phalanx [1] and Solanum [2] was supposed to be some sort of African rabies, but no strain of rabies in the world will reanimate dead bodies. The truth then was still dead and buried, but we’d stumbled onto it and there was no going back, apparently. It was one of those “now you know, I’ll have to kill you” type of things.
 
Obviously, they didn’t kill us. They put us to work instead. Working and researching on the Warmbrunn-Knight [3] report with Sherlock was a way to do something. By the time it was done, we knew a little more than most about the characteristics of Zeds and how to kill them. Getting Parliament to take their heads out of their asses was another affair altogether, though. If it hadn’t been for Mycroft, we might have gone ignored entirely.
 
Mycroft?
 
Sherlock’s brother. He died in the Panic, I’m afraid. I was never very close to the man. I had the impression that Sherlock despised him, but it’s amazing how death changes things. [Dame Hooper is silent for a moment.] Mycroft tried so hard to convince us to leave during the early years. Go somewhere north. We knew that Zeds didn’t like cold, so we’d probably be safer there. I often wonder how things would’ve been different if we had followed his advice. Perhaps Sherlock would be…well. There’s no use on dwelling on the past.
 
You never know what you’re going to be capable of until it actually happens, I guess. After the disastrous Battle of Basingstoke [4]—and I don’t know what the hell they were thinking at that one—it seemed that the whole of Parliament was busy running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. [She snorts.] Bunch of wankers, all of them. If anything could be said to be good about Basingstoke, it was that it pressed home to Parliament that the time for politics was over. They listened to us after that…although, I still don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.
 
We couldn’t save them all. We lost large swatches of England; everything below the Bristol-Canterbury line was swarming with Zeds. Above that line wasn’t much better. Ireland fared worse, and for a while it was one of the worst White Zones we had to deal with. Then you get the islands, and…well. Castles were our shelter, our oasis from the desert of Zeds. At the strategy room in Windsor, we had a map of zones that was updated the second we got new information. When we began, it was a giant swathe of white with dots of other colors.
 
[She pauses as the door opens and Mr. Holmes enters.] Sherlock. How’re you feeling? [Mr. Holmes does not reply. He watches us for a moment before disappearing into another room. Dame Hooper sighs.]
 
I hated him for a while during the war. I don’t just mean that I got over my infatuation with him, I mean that I would’ve willingly clawed his eyes out. It was a puzzle to him. It didn’t matter that people were dying, because they were acceptable casualties. The fact of the matter was that we couldn’t save everyone. We had to plan, to save the most for the least amount of resources. It sounds heartless. I know I was against the Redeker-Holmes Plan [5} for such a long time, but the truth is that reality isn’t kind, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices. There’s no other choice.
 
So what did you do?
 
Ha! Pre-Zed me would have probably sat in a corner and sobbed about it because Sherlock had shouted at me, but no, I’d grown tougher than that. I’d seen corpses walk the earth and decapitated more than one myself. After all that, Sherlock didn’t frighten me nearly as much. John was the middleman between both of us in the fights we had: he didn’t like the idea of sacrifices either, but he saw the necessity sooner than I did. After a lot of discussion, we did eventually go with Redeker-Holmes: saving what we could, trying to help the rest, and ultimately abandoning what we couldn’t. Part of involved the creation of the Cabinet of Strategic Assets, which was responsible for allocating assets to the maximum benefit.
 
Which you were responsible for as Cabinet Minister.
 
Let’s not bother with the titles. You know, pre-war, I was a coroner. I dealt with dead people, the kind that actually stayed dead. You know they say about coroners? “The worst that can go wrong is that you bring someone back to life.” Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but the point is that as minister I had big responsibilities. It wasn’t just the dead now, albeit walking dead, but real lives that I held in my hands. Which region would get saved? Which region wouldn’t? I’d second-guess myself constantly: who could I save? Who would I have to leave to the Zeds? It was bitter work, some of the worst I’ve had to do.
 
But it worked, sort of. The Isles Campaign was formed. John would plan how to clear White Zones [6], and I’d plan how to make sure the people could survive before and after our triumphant arrivals.
 
And was Mr. Holmes with you?
 
Sherlock? He was just along for the ride, I guess. Making sure that John didn’t get gnawed on or blown to pieces like he almost did at Basingstoke. I used to think that Sherlock was on the front lines for the thrill, the adrenaline. Now I just think that it was the only way he and John could stay sane.
 
We lost a lot of people during the campaign. Sally Donovan was killed at Dublin. A pack of Zeds swarmed her and down she went. We never saw her again, which I think is a blessing, because we would’ve had to put her down if she were a Zed. Greg was permanently injured at Kilkenny. Given a choice between a rock and a hard place, he picked the hard place and broke his hip in eight places. Michael, bitten at Bristol. Elaine, killed at Exeter. The list goes on and on. We were winning, but we were paying a hell of a price for victory.
 
At the same time, victory was drawing closer. Slowly, but still close enough that we could taste it, dream of it. John started talking about retirement. He wanted something small, something homey. Sherlock was the opposite; he wanted adventure. As if he hadn’t had enough already to last him a lifetime! He was so scornful when John first brought the subject up. He’d never felt more alive, he said. World War Z was the greatest puzzle of all in so many ways. For god’s sake, they’re zombies! Walking, talking conundrums. The stuff of horror films. They’re not supposed to exist. It was all one big game to him, and all of the pain belonged to others.
 
[She pauses.]
 
That mindset finally broke when John was killed.
 
I told you we never found Sally’s body. We don’t have John’s body either, but only because we couldn’t carry it back across the infestation line. He killed himself rather than turn into a Zed, and I don’t think Sherlock’s ever forgiven me for not stopping John. We had to leave John behind to save the rest of us, and that’s one of the hardest sacrifices I’ve ever had to make.
 
[She is quiet for a very long moment.]
 
That shattered the illusion more than anything else.
 
But the war wasn’t over yet. What happened after that?
                                                    
Duty, queen, country. We had work to do, I had work to do. So many people had lost loved ones, and it was only through the work that I could face another day. [She runs her hands through her hair.] What was I supposed to do? I didn’t have the luxury of breaking down, of just hiding from it all. I wanted to, so much, but I couldn’t.
 
It took another year to clear Great Britain. And after that, there was rebuilding, recovery, an unending checklist to complete. So many things to do, so little time…stepping up to the job was both a blessing and a curse, because it gave me too little time to think and too much time to forget.
 
No. I didn’t forget him. I didn’t forget Sherlock, either. Greg took care of him while I couldn’t, and he helped keep me together more than a few times, if we’re to be honest. I just put them away for a while, because if I thought about it too much, I would probably break down into hysterics—and hysterics were a luxury that I simply couldn’t afford. I might have been silly and shallow once, but that was before everything happened.
 
You served as Prime Minister for seven years. What made you decide to step down?
 
Greg died about a month before my resignation. We’d known it was coming for a while. It was a peaceful death, I think. A good death, insofar as any death can be good. [She sighs.] But it made me think about…think about other things. A dream, maybe, something that John once had.
 
So I decided to retire. Nothing big or fancy, you know. Get a little place in the country and mess around. Try to find peace, as hard as that is. I don’t think Sherlock’s up for adventure anymore, but there are bees to entertain him instead.
 
[As if summoned by his name, Mr. Holmes appears in the doorway. He reaches out a hand as if to touch my face, but he draws back at the last moment.]
 
It’s all right. He won’t bite. [She smiles a little sadly.] You do look a little like John, you know. I expect that’s it. He usually doesn’t like visitors much at all.
 
Is he all right?
 
He doesn’t talk. He hasn’t spoken a word since the day John died. It’s funny, really. I used to live for the sound of his voice, scathing or sarcastic as it might be. I’d hang around him and flirt ineptly just so he’d talk to me. Then came Redeker-Holmes, and for a time when I grew to hate his voice, because it sounded so unbearably smug. So self-righteous as he condemned others to death without ever giving a damn himself.
 
But now I miss it. I’d give anything to hear him again. Him and John, laughing together like they used to do. Sometimes I think I can hear them talking, but it always turns out to be a product of my imagination.
 
[The buzzing of bees fills the air as she peters off into silence. As she does not seem inclined to speak further, I thank her and take my leave.]
 
----

Interviewer’s Notes:
 
[1] A hoax vaccine for Solanum.
 
[2] The virus responsible for reanimating the bodies of the dead. It can be transmitted through any kind of open wound.
 
[3] A set of research studies intended to warn against the infected and provide strategies on how to deal with the infection.
 
[4] The first British offense against the walking dead, akin to the American Battle of Yonkers. A spectacular failure which resulted in massive casualties on the British side.
 
[5] The British adaptation of the Redeker Plan. The Redeker Plan was originally intended as a “worst-case scenario” guide should the Black African population in South Africa rise up against the White Afrikaners. It was adapted by the majority of countries for survival during World War Z. The plan detailed the creation of “safe zones” that would be taught how to fend for themselves at the expense of the surrounding countryside. The plan also called for pockets of survivors (“acceptable casualties”) deep within the Zed population in order to draw fire away from the safe zones.
 
[6] White indicated that a zone was primarily populated by zombies. Blue indicates civilian survivors, green indicates military safe zones, red indicates strategic assets. Several other colors were also used with their definitions varying by country. 
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