The first time John had seen the graffiti, his leg had nearly given out on him in the middle of a busy London street. The pain was still too fresh, too recent, and seeing his best friend’s name scrawled across a building in that familiar yellow paint had brought back all the memories he had been working so hard to suppress. And yet even though it hurt more than he could have possibly imagined, he couldn’t look away. John felt himself becoming nearly hysterical as he stared at the hastily written message, and for some reason the thought that kept circling around his brain was I’m not alone.
The graffiti began to spread, slowly but surely. One tag turned into two, which turned into ten, which turned into a London-wide message. John had no idea who was behind the messages, whether it was part of some larger campaign, or simply the work of one dedicated fan, but soon enough he began to see a new tag every few days. Sometimes it was in the distinctive yellow paint that gave John the shivers every time he saw it, sometimes it was in black, and sometimes it was just scratched into a park bench or written in chalk. But however it was written, the message began to filter throughout the city of London with a tenacity that was startling. No matter how often it was painted over, or how much people laughed, it spread.
The media speculation was wild, of course. Several newspapers guessed that it was the work of the internet group Anonymous, while others believed it was simply one deranged man on a mission. Many suspected John because of the last post he had written for his blog and his unwavering support for Sherlock, but so much of the graffiti had gone up where John could not possibly be that he was not truly suspect. The media attention only renewed the discussion about Sherlock’s death, and John soon found that he could not turn on the television or pick up a newspaper because of the memories it brought him. But despite the pain, John found that he looked out for the graffiti every time he left the flat now. It brought a smile to his face to know that others felt the same as he did, and he felt a thrill of pride every time he saw that someone else had not bought the lies. It wasn’t enough – nothing would ever be enough – but it was something.
It was three months after John had seen the first tag. Three months since the idea had planted itself in his head, and three months since he had started building up the courage to do it. But it was finally time. After digging through Sherlock’s old box of disguises (resolutely ignoring the feeling that he was being stabbed through the heart as he did so) and meeting up with Sherlock’s old graffiti artist contact Raz, John was ready.
And that was how Captain John Watson of the Fifth North Umberland Fusiliers, doctor and respected member of the community, found himself in a darkened alleyway at three in the morning with a mask on his face and a can of yellow spray-paint in his hand. Spraying these words felt like freedom, and John knew with sudden clarity that he would keep on doing this for as long as possible. He would help spread the message whatever the cost, because he owed it to Sherlock. He owed the man so much, and this was the least he could do. He would protect his friend’s memory with a can of yellow paint and five simple words.
I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES.