Summary: A case goes wrong. Watson has to learn how to say goodbye.
A/N: Hopefully, I wrote this with a very fine line between slash and the (b)romance. Enough so one can pick which way they want to read it. This is movie-verse (since I never read the books) and can be set whenever.
Watson swears 221b Baker street is haunted. There are times when Watson has the overwhelming sense that if he looks over his shoulder, he'll see his old partner standing there. That he'll see Holmes hunched over some experiment, probably ready to call out Watson's name to drill home the fact he deduced something. Sometimes, Watson is foolish enough to walk to the front steps as if to go in.
He reminds himself that he is a doctor, damn it, and he is too old to fall for these petty mind tricks. He was a soldier, after all, and is by no means naive when it comes to death. Watson grips his walking stick with white knuckles. If he is such a good soldier, then why can't he let go?
Mabe it's not 221b Baker street at all, but Watson who is haunted. He wakes up at night to the sound of an explosion that didn't happen. He swears he hears mumbling from the hallway and won't go back to sleep until he's absolutely certain that no one is there. There is very little chance of Watson falling back asleep on nights like these. The nostalgic part of him believes he won't fall back asleep until he hears the erratic sound of an out of tune violin that is neatly tucked away in his closet.
There are days when Watson thinks about the night it happened. They are long and tiresome and they make the doctor swear he is going insane. On nights like these, he curses Holmes for it; for being arrogant enough to run after Boucher with no plan of how he was going to do it. For not stopping for three seconds to make sure he had everything he needed. For not bothering to get Watson before he went on such a foolish mission.
Then there are days when Watson blames himself. They are lethargic and if he wasn't a smarter man, he would have reached for Opium to get him through them. Mary watches him from the door frame but he never acknowledges her. He feels a connected to Holmes during these bouts of apathy that he hasn't felt since Mary came into his life.
They fell apart somewhere. Honesty, sharp like the knife that took the detective's life. Watson and Holmes never talked, not really. Not in that, 'you'll listen to what I say and absorb it kind of way.' It was all passive aggressive the last few years. All jokes and pseudo arguments because neither of them were man enough to begin the conversation they needed to have.
So, Watson moved. Watson moved because he couldn't bare it anymore. He was being eaten alive and he knew Holmes was, too. If he didn't move, then he would have know Holmes had gone after Boucher. He would have seen the forgotten pistol, and he would have tracked Holmes down sooner. No, he have been by Sherlock's side when the detective went after Boucher.
It all boils down to the fact that Watson wasn't there when Sherlock's luck ran out.
"You bloody idiot," Watson says. He doesn't know why he says it aloud. The silence is simply another reminder that Holmes is gone.
It's the silence that causes his headaches. Dull ones, right between his eyes. It's the silence that makes Watson wish he could go back in time. Grab Holmes by the collar and shake the man until common sense slapped in his already probably bruised face. "Your pistol, Holmes. You fool."
It was always a joke once Watson handed the gun to the most forgetful detective London has ever seen. It wasn't a joke anymore.
It didn't take long for Watson to figure out where Holmes had run off to. A brief glance at discarded papers with a circled address and a missing detective and Watson knew. It wasn't rare that Holmes investigated a location before he called for aid but the pistol lying near the side of the couch caught Watson off guard.
It wasn't by Sherlock's notes or on a stool next to one of the tables or door. It was half way under the couch meaning it wasn't meant to be forgotten. With a quick check of the address, Watson grabbed the gun and made towards the destination.
It wasn't much trouble following the footsteps of Holmes. He easily located windows and doors with broken locks. Watson wasn't half way down the steps of the third floor when he saw the slouched form of a man with unruly hair. Watson sprinted down the stairs to his fallen companion.
"Holmes, you're bleeding."
"Remember Watson, you have two days to stop him before he tries to tests the explosive."
"Holmes," a little more aggressive this time. "You're bleeding."
"Oh, yes. Cut to the lower abdomen. I've been sitting here for the better part of ten minutes, and, uh, judging by the fading vision and labored breath, I must say -"
"No." Disbelief. "I can help you. I can get you help."
"Watson," Sherlock's voice was strained, "I'd hate to undermine your experience as a doctor. Surely not after you failed to locate the pulse on Lord Blackwood, but I feel-"
The doctor faltered. He looked at the stairs then down to his friend. Help wouldn't come in time.
"It's all right, Watson." Holmes continued. "And you have my distinctive permission to hate me for a while."
"Well, thank you for that Holmes." The rustling of clothes. The doctor's hand took hold of the detectives. Their grip was tight.
"Watson. Boucher is probably well out of the building by now. Your sentimental attachments have proved quite detrimental to the case. It appears your background as a soldier is failing you." His smile was stopped by a cringe.
Holems' breath was slower. Watson's arm moved to supported him. The words were always at the back of his throat but he couldn't say them. Not there. Not like that. Watson knew Holmes wouldn't either. There was too much to say in too little time. It wasn't a shock when Holmes defined everything by saying almost nothing.
"Watson," Holmes' voice was trembling. "We were special, weren't we? As a team? We were good."
"We were the best Holmes, the best."
That was the end.
Watson didn't let go of Holmes long after the detective stopped breathing. He didn't want to let go.
It seems as though everything Watson has been working so hard on has shattered into pieces right before his eyes. He wants to control his pointless tears but he can't and they come anyway. Long, silent sobs because the aggravating little prat that Holmes was, anchored him. Gave him a purpose, a job, a bloody companion.
The memories have attached themselves like parasites. The arguments, the laughter, the fights are swimming in the back of his head. It was easy to yell at Holmes because Watson never expected him to die. Watson realizes the only person to ever truly understand him is gone.
He leans against the wall. Shoulders trembling, eyes red. "I'm sorry how I handled everything with Mary. I didn't mind when you took my clothes. I'm sorry I left." He's talking to no one but he can't seem to stop himself. "I miss your voice, the God awful smells from your room." Everything sums up to, "I miss you, Holmes."
The doctor composes himself. He gives one more glance at the apartment and begins walking down the street. Watson likes to time how long he takes to turn around and check. He's not exactly sure what he is checking but suspects he's looking for Holmes. There is never anyone behind him. Watson suspects he will always check. Just in case.
I should have spent a little more time with this fic but it had to come out and I'm tired. Hopefully, it has the right emotion.