Disclaimer: Arthur Conan Doyle and the BBC own 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Sherlock'.
Baker Street was calm. It was 3am. A wintery breeze moved the night air, and felt like mild relief against John's tired, raw face. The ambulance driver that had accompanied him home put out his hand to steady him, and he jerked his shoulder away unnecessarily.
"I'm fine," he mumbled to his chest. He clenched his jaw, a ringing tinnitus continued in his ears.
"Is there anyone in to look after you?" the driver was asking. John pushed down an angry retort, and simply nodded. The door bell was rung, and the hall light flashed on. In the doorway stood Mrs Hudson, dressed in a purple dressing gown, her face pale with worry and fatigue. The woman let out a gasp as John shuffled forwards.
"Oh my Lord," she exclaimed, throwing her arms around the man who stood there on the doorstep, stiffly. "Thank goodness you're alright. Thank you, thank you," she called after the driver, who'd already begun to slink off. The door closed heavily and John stood there rooted to the spot, eyes fixed on the staircase ahead of him. Silence enveloped him, but for the ringing in his ears which became deafening. Through the ringing, he could hear Mrs Hudson, rambling incoherently. He tried to take a step forward and failed. His legs didn't want to be moved, and his heart couldn't bring himself to climb those stairs.
Nausea began to grow in his stomach, and his legs became weak. He'd been fighting this since the hospital, since the scene in fact, but one look at the black front door with shining silver numerals on it, and the stairway that led to his life, their life, was too much for John to bear. His vision blurred.
An unfamiliar sound suddenly filled his ears, and it took him a brief moment to realise that it was coming from himself. A gut-wrenching sob forced its way out from deep within him, and his legs gave way from underneath him. He slumped there on the floor, gasping for breath in between sobs, pain searing through his entire torso from the broken ribs he'd received that evening. John felt Mrs Hudson crouch down to the floor beside him, and she scooped him into her lap with surprising strength.
John couldn't tell how long they sat there on the floor in the hall way. The sky began to lighten through the window above the front door. He could feel Mrs Hudson's fingers stroking his matted hair, and offering words of comfort. It's alright. It'll be ok. You're safe now.
John wanted to scream. He was far from alright, and things were definitely not going to be ok. His lungs were burning and he couldn't get the words from his mind to his lips, so he remained there sobbing on the floor.
A broken man.
It was 6:03 am, when John roused on the sofa, his face stiff from dried tears. A blanket had been placed over him, and it had bunched around his knees. He tried to clear his throat. He had no recollection of moving upstairs, though he must have made it up somehow. Mrs Hudson, though a wondrous woman, was certainly incapable of carrying a man up the stairs. John's eyes scanned the flat. It remained untouched since he'd left it the previous evening.
Milk, we need milk.
I'll get some.
And some beans, then?
It felt like a lifetime ago. Someone else's life, in which buying beans and milk were something of a normal activity. Certainly not the life of Sherlock Holmes. John squeezed his eyes shut. If he could get through the next day without thinking about him he'd be ok. One day at a time. Unfortunately he knew that it was impossible.
A knock came from the sitting room door, making him jump.
"Are you awake, love? Detective Inspector Lestrade's here. He'd like to talk to you."
"No," came the quiet response, and he twisted his body on the sofa, shoulders hunched in a clear message.
"I said no," he snapped angrily into the back of the sofa. But of course it was too late, heavy footsteps could be heard clambering up the staircase. There was a shuffling of feet, and Mrs Hudson excused herself from the room. John heard the Inspector stand in the doorway uncomfortably, before making his way to an arm chair. John prayed it was the red chair.
A long silence settled in the room, and John could feel his eyelids become drowsier. There was nothing he'd rather do more than close his eyes and forget about the night before. Forget about the past 3 months. And when his eyes would open it'd be all some terrible, brilliant dream. He'd be in his single bed, in his dark bedsit, and he'd thank the stars that nothing ever happened to him.
A baritone voice tore the reverie apart.
The voice was heavy with pity. It made John want to be sick. He swallowed down hard.
"Listen, I know it's hard, but we need any information you've got in order for us to track down the bastard that did this."
John knew, of course, that they had no hope of tracing him. And a part of him couldn't care less. That man had forced his way in, wiped out John's entire life, and disappeared without a trace. John never wanted to hear the name Moriarty again. Lestrade began to grow impatient. He rose from the chair, a growl escaping from the back of his throat.
"God help me, John. I know you're grieving–"
"Did they find the body?" John had turned himself over onto his back, and blinked up to the ceiling. Lestrade was taken aback by the sudden question.
"No," he replied simply. John almost chuckled. Almost.
"No, I didn't think they would. And his brother, Mycroft, he's been informed?"
"Yes, as far as I'm aware."
"Good," John replied and sat up on the sofa, throwing his legs over the edge. "Well that's that then."
Lestrade looked at him baffled. John passed him with relative speed for someone who'd recently been in a trauma, and made his way to the kitchen. He flung open the door to the cupboard underneath the sink and begun to rummage around.
"John...John...For goodness sake, man. I need to talk to you."
"No, you need me to talk to you," John corrected, talking into the cupboard. He rose suddenly, bringing out a roll of black plastic bags. Lestrade looked on as John scooped the entire contents of the kitchen table into a black bag. Next, he opened the fridge, and removed what little contents there was, with a mild relief that the garrotted head had somehow disappeared over the past three days. He began to un-peg the pieces of shoe which hung from a line above his head. Carl Powers. Killed 20 years ago and of absolutely no importance to John Watson. John moved from the kitchen, barging Lestrade out of the way. The desk was swept clean with one arm.
"John...John, stop! This is evidence," Lestrade told him, grabbing the man's arm. John pulled away and reached for the laptop on the coffee table. Sherlock Holmes' laptop. It was thrown with force into the black bag.
"No, no it's not. It's all rubbish," John said through gritted teeth. He stopped briefly and regarded the wall above the sofa. Photos of Connie Prince, Carl Powers, news clippings about the lost Vermeer painting, Andrew West's apparent suicide. Photos of the dead. John Watson couldn't help them now and they had certainly been of no help to him. He began to tear at them with his fingers and shoved them without a second glance into the bag.
John's face was damp with tears he hadn't even realised he'd shed. He continued to pull at the collage of crime, until the wall was bare. John let out a little sob at what remained in front of him. Mrs Hudson entered the room briskly, a scowl on her face.
"You'd best go. He'll call you when he's feeling better."
The woman began to lead the Inspector out the room, but Lestrade's eyes were fixed on the wall. A smiling face had been painted in fluorescent yellow. John fingered at the holes in the wall, his breathing shuddering under the effort of his crying. He began to pull at the wall paper where it had ripped, and shouted incoherently as the smile was torn apart. Eventually, when John was satisfied that the face had gone, he stopped, and sat himself down heavily on the sofa. Mrs Hudson and Lestrade glanced at each other. John took a deep breath.
"I'd like you to leave," he said quietly at his knees. "Please, just go."
They both stood there agape in the door way.
"I want to be ON MY OWN!" he bellowed at them, and they turned on their heels. "Wait!" he called suddenly, and they stopped to regard him. John moved from the sofa to the fireplace and grabbed the skull from the mantel piece. He looked at it scornfully, and gave a disgruntled laugh before dropping it into the rubbish bag. It made a dull thud which reverberated around the room. John shoved the bag to Lestrade, who took it in his shock. He turned away from the Inspector and lay down on the sofa, grabbing the remote for the television, and thumbing it on. He gave a sniff and cleared his throat.
"Take out the rubbish when you leave."
As John listened to the footsteps fade down the stairs, and the door slamming shut, he closed his eyes and rubbed at them with the heels of his hands. The television filled the silence, but John was not listening. His eyes fell on the grey leather chair in front of him, and his heart broke.
There was no place like home.