TITLE: The Quiet Man
FANDOM: Sherlock (BBC)
GENRE: Grief/angst, Johnlock
Reading Sherlock fan fiction, especially Sherlock return stories, is like living in a world of parallel universes. Each story paints an image of a possible future where the smallest choices create different dynamics in the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. One of these stories, The Quiet Man by ivyblossom
paints a world with an ending so sweet that we want to close our eyes and let it linger for a moment as Sherlock does in one key point in the story.
This work, an epic at over 157,000 words, tells the story of John Watson enduring the loss of Sherlock Holmes for three years before his eventual return. Needless to say, there is a lot of angst in this work. John Watson spends most of his time feeling lost and horribly depressed. Some of the early chapters are a bit slow as John continues to live in a fantasy world where the image of Sherlock talks with him, and he seems to make no progress forward, but his story picks up again after we meet Mary.
The Sherlock return story is one of tension and expectations. We know that Sherlock will some time come into the picture, and we know that what happens to John during this separation will have a great part in deciding how their reunion will go. Will he marry Mary? Will he commit suicide? Will he tell his therapist his true feelings? Will he learn to hate Sherlock? Each decision affects the outcome.
In this version of the story, John becomes a writer for The Strand
magazine, just as in the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books. He works through his feelings for Sherlock while creating the novelization of his blog as he continues to be haunted by images of Sherlock that he seems to see everywhere. When he finally does encounter Sherlock, we are still left wondering how he will act. Will he be able to accept this sudden change in circumstances?
The story doesn't try to go too fast. It lets us comes to terms with each decision as John does, allowing him a depth of characterization that is underscored by the title "The quiet man". John now thinks a great deal before he speaks, and we are spectators viewing his thoughts. The story is in first person. We stay deep in John's mind. Like him, we don't know what Sherlock was doing on the rooftop at Barts, and when we meet him, we don't know what he's thinking. It makes everything a bit muffled and uncertain as John is when he goes through the world uncertain of who he is and what he should be doing.
It is mostly a work of mood. it spends its time conveying the sense of loss and mourning that John endures. This makes the story a bit of a downer in parts, but it is alleviated by the interesting experiences and observations that John makes of the world around him.
The story is very well written and beta-edited. The explicit rating comes from some fantasy scenes and a few sex scenes at the very end of the story, as well as some violence.
At fifty eight chapters, this story is a bit of a commitment, but it is well worth the effort. Although the road of loss is long, ultimately the reunion is beautifully sweet.