|Come Crumbling Down
Author: Elizabeth Lily PM
Spoilers for S2E03 The Reichenbach Fall. Accompanied by angst, happy ending not included. This is an AU, set in a world where those who fall in love receive Marks on their ring finger.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - John W. & Sherlock H. - Words: 2,180 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 96 - Follows: 12 - Published: 01-31-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7792145
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Note: I wish Sherlock 'Not My Area' Holmes, John 'I Had Bad Days' Watson, Jim 'That's What People Do' Moriarty, Greg 'Not My Division' Lestrade, Mrs 'England Will Fall' Hudson and Mycroft 'A Matter of National Importance' Holmes were my original characters. Of course, that could only be traced back to BBC, who will then trace it back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Do you remember the finale in Reichanbach Fall (sob sob hyperventilate sob some more), where Sherlock and John raised both their hands? Well, I turned it into an AU fic (sortish).
Also: this is for a friend of mine: to prove that I can write angsty fics.
Un-brit picked. Hopefully I don't mess things up too much.
Everyone in the world knows of it. Most of the world's population has it.
When a human being (homo sapien) falls in love—the real deal, not an infatuation, and certainly not a crush—an indelible Mark will begin to appear on his or her ring finger. This Mark is an inscription: an inscription of your beloved's name.
Evolution decreed it so: too many people committed suicide over loves they didn't truly want. Thus, this Mark developed: so that you would know if he or she truly was the one. No time wasted over any other futile pursuits.
That's not to say that people still self-delude themselves into love sometimes, thinking their Mark will develop soon enough. But most people are practical enough to move on when they realise that this is not the one for them.
It's hard to say when the Mark truly begins, or when it truly ends, but once there, the Mark will never leave you.
White is for the start and the end, pink is for the end of the beginning, black is for the beginning of the end, and red is for the middle of the middle.
John Watson has always worn a ring around the fourth digit of his dominant hand for as long as he could remember. Most people do, for a modicum of privacy. But you can always tell if there is a Mark there, even if you're not Sherlock Holmes. As a doctor, John knows the signs, even if he's not a psychologist.
More than two glances down at the dominant hand in fifteen minutes. Attention paid to the ring finger. Scratching at the ring finger (love hurts, doesn't it?). Some people have dreamlike, vacant looks on their faces when their brains send down electric pulses to the skin cells on their ring finger.
John Watson has seen plenty of Marks before. He has seen his mom's white scar, inscribed George, ten years after his father's death. He has seen Harry's bright red Mark (Clara) slowly dull to black, during the terrible divorce and the alcoholism.
But there is one thing John Watson still does not have at 35 years old, and that is a Mark on his hand. Not that he really wishes for one, of course. He has too many images of injured soldiers, proffering their hands up, which read in bright red ink, indistinguishable from the blood they are soaked in. "Tell her I love her," they whisper in unison in his nightmares. And it falls to a plain white letter, posted in the mail, to deliver the awful, awful news. If they reciprocated with their own Marks, it will turn black from grief now.
And so John has given up on Marks. Harry's drunken outbursts about Clara in pubs are more than enough to convince him that love is generally not the best course in life. After all, he is a broken man, just arrived from a war of blood and tears.
And then he meets Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes, one of the rare few who does not wear a ring, displaying for the world to see that he is unattached. But still John feels the need to confirm. Strange, but he convinces himself that it's because he needs to know if his flatmate will be inviting anyone to stay overnight.
"You don't have a girlfriend, then?"
"Girlfriend? No, not really my area…"
"Oh right then. Do you have a boyfriend? Which is fine, by the way."
"I know it's fine."
"So you got a boyfriend?"
"Right, okay. You're unattached, just like me. Fine. Good."
That night, John kills a man for Sherlock.
When he gets back home, he finds a white smudge on his finger when he removes his ring for the first time in months. Powder burn, is all he thinks, before shrugging and going to sleep.
Humans do tend to neglect the obvious truth, even if it was staring at him or her in the face.
White heralds the start.
And so, unbeknownst to John, the Mark develops. Over the course of ten months, it gradually changes from white to pink. The name is rather obvious too, hidden under the ring and in bright pink, reflecting their very first case together.
Pink is the end of the beginning.
And so cases and months fly by. A particularly memorable one include Moriarty and Semtex bombs, but still John doesn't see the development of his Mark. To be honest, he was rather busy with girlfriends and the flu season and Sherlock's cases (in order of ascending priority).
But finally, when John does realise that he has a prominent Mark on his ring finger, it is right after the meeting with Irene Adler (who was supposed to be dead). He is back at 221B Baker Street, and he suddenly has the urge to take out his ring, which he had not removed for ages. He used to, before Sherlock, but now he has been so overtaken by his work and girlfriends and Sherlock's mad cases that he has forgotten.
What follows after is a half-hour of cursing expletives and an unhappy night spent tossing and turning in bed. For 'SH' is written clearly in pink on his ring finger: the person he is falling in love with. And really, when John thinks about it, it's as clear as daylight. He has been falling in love with Sherlock, ever since he knew he would kill for Sherlock and not regret a single moment of it.
Everyone knew it already but him, it seems, from Angelo to the last girlfriend (who didn't have a dog). John spends the night going through every moment, every time he hit the markers for 'falling in love with my ridiculous but genius flatmate'. It turns out that they are rather a lot.
He takes the next day off from Sherlock, knowing that if he even took one good glance at him, he would know exactly what happened. He spends the day with Harry, which he firmly regrets: Harry and Clara are getting back together and that's the last thing he really wants to see. Of course he's happy that his baby sister's Mark has turned red again—not quite the bright red of yonder days, but better than that shade of black in Harry's alcoholic period. But he really doesn't want a reminder of his Mark, proof of his love for a self-diagnosed sociopathic asexual.
In that time, Sherlock inadvertently foils the British Government's plan, breaks the code on Irene Adler's Blackberry, rips off her ring to reveal a whitish "Sher" Mark, and generally saves Europe (in that chronological order).
It is around that time that John also decides to give up on having a girlfriend. Which is how he missed his chance to meet a lovely lady named Miss Mary Morstan, who would have been his wife in another universe. Fortunately, the meeting never happens and John remains with Sherlock. Miss Mary Morstan also decides that marriage isn't quite for her and ends up happily single for the rest of her days.
In the months that follow, John tries his best to ignore the reddening Mark on his hand, and prays that Sherlock doesn't notice (of course he has, who are you kidding?).
Then they go to Grimpen village, to investigate Baskerville. They step on Mycroft's toes along the way, but John gets to pull rank, so all in all it's good. But before that, Sherlock manages to pull an amazing stunner.
"Hello brother dear! How are you?"
"Yes, yes. Listen, I want twenty four hours in Baskerville."
Presumably, Mycroft affirms the negative on the other end.
"If you don't give me clearance, I'll tell the good Detective Inspector that you have the Mark on your hand with the words 'Greg' on it."
They get clearance and John knows a fair bit too much than he wants to know about Greg Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes's relationship.
And now, of course, Moriarty is back. John remembers with a shudder the last time: a maniac dressed in Westwood. Evidently, the insanity has not abated in the slightest: on the contrary, it has increased.
But there is one thing that John will never stop believing in, and that is Sherlock. Even when Lestrade starts to doubt Sherlock as well, John remains steadfast. It never occurs to him that Sherlock is a fake. Which is probably the reason why Moriarty never attempts to convince John otherwise, never attempts to alienate Sherlock from his only friend. At least Moriarty knows a lost cause when he sees one.
As for John, on the other hand, the unreciprocated Mark on his hand is a bright red, and his feelings for Sherlock has grown into love.
Red is for the middle of the middle, the absolute peak.
John can't quite explain his feelings for Sherlock. He loves Sherlock- that is for certain—and he knows that Sherlock will never be able to return his feelings. But unlike others, whose love will grow dull and Marks turn purple (for disappointment), his never does. It remains as red as blood his heart pumps around his body.
But on that fateful day, John is not really thinking about his Mark. He is worried about Sherlock, about how Moriarty and his Final Problem are destroying Sherlock. And then he is worried about Mrs Hudson, which causes him to snap at Sherlock. (How he regrets that now.)
Friends protect people.
But when he arrives home to find Mrs Hudson safe and sound, he knows something is definitely wrong.
John turns and runs.
Somewhere along the way, his ring drops off. It registers somewhere in between 'I think that man is staring at me' and 'I hear a baby crying'.
And he sees Sherlock, his best mate, standing on a rooftop, and his world turns upside-down. For a moment, he is back in 'A Study in Pink', watching Sherlock do something fatal. But unlike then, John doesn't have his gun, and even if he had it, he has no one to shoot.
John grips the phone a little tighter and says, "No. Stop it now." Nobody can convince him that Sherlock is a fake. Not even Sherlock himself.
John raises his hand, revealing to Sherlock his Mark. The proof of his love for Sherlock. In that single gesture he says it all.
I love you. Don't go. Please. I'll die without you, without the cases, without the battlefield. I'll do anything, just please, don't jump.
Sherlock nods, as if he knew it all along. And then he raises his hand too.
Sherlock is twenty metres away, but John can see it, almost as clear as daylight. It's physically impossible, but then so much about his life is impossible anyway. There is a red Mark on Sherlock's hand too. How has John not noticed it before? Despite the distance, John can read the name inscribed on it.
It says 'John'.
Sherlock falls from the rooftop of St. Bart's Hospital.
John's Mark has turned black from grief.
Black, for times of bereavement and loss. It should be noted that black Marks indicate an increased risk of takotsubo cardiomyopathy, especially for males.
He rests it on Sherlock's gravestone.
"But please, there's just one more thing, one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me, don't be dead. Would you do that just for me? Just stop it. Stop this."
There, John has said it. Wished for the impossible.
Unbidden, Sherlock's voice rises into his head.
When I've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how mad it might seem, must be the truth.
Unbeknownst to John, Sherlock has been watching him. To be more precise, Sherlock has been alternating between watching him and looking at the Mark on his finger.
It is still red.
But John does not know that, and so he walks quickly away from the grave. He is no longer a broken man. He is a man who has crumbled into dust.