Title: The Faithful Monogamy of Flat-Sharing.
Characters: Um… everyone.
Word count: 'Bout 10,450 give or take
Warning: Character death. Spoilers for The Great Game. The fridge of doom, I love it so.
Disclaimer: Nope. Not the BBC. Or Moffat. Or Mycroft Gatiss.
Summary: The aftermath of The Great Game. How will Sherlock survive every day life without his blogger?. Spoilers, etc, be warned, and character death, dur.
A/N: Haven't read through it. One day I will. What's Lestrade? Is he Dectective Inspector? *doesn't care*
It's 04:28/9 and I've been working on this for days. Admittedly, there's been a lot going on in between bouts of writing, but eh.
"Why am I needed for what was obviously a crime of passion?" Sherlock Holmes asked Detective Inspector Lestrade, looking down blankly at the empty eyes of the young man at his feet, recently deceased and still horrifically warm. "You said the neighbours saw the wife leaving the house not half an hour ago with the children, straight after the gunshot. Nothing has been packed before hand for a quick get-away, so obviously it wasn't maliciously intended."
Sherlock looked around the hallway in which he stood, the body lying on its back through an open doorway. He had been shot at point blank range, straight between the eyes. There was no murder weapon to be found, but in her panic the wife of this man had probably ran off with it. The hallway was neat, dark linings to pale walls, with pictures of children and holidays and a beautiful white wedding hanging along the walls, as if showing a life story. The staircase spiralled with a dramatic flair that Sherlock appreciated, and he peered up them to see similarly pale walls up above with dark wood linings. It was modern, but with a stylish old fashioned twist, and while it was pretty enough, the neatness was something Sherlock wasn't sure he could personally live with if it were him. But, then, each to their own.
"He was obviously a rich man," Sherlock noted dully, thinking this all rather tedious. "And she obviously a house proud woman. Any amount of petty arguments or general disagreements could lead to a murderous result." This was not serial killers, serial suicides… in fact, it was not 'serial' anything. This wasn't even a challenge. A dispute started when this man arrived home, and she was close to the gun. Perhaps she was PMSing, which could potentially and easily, though often depending on the particular woman, encourage her anger to the point of shooting her husband through the head. Then again, if this had been a long time dispute, perhaps she had been ready and had kept the gun close by. Perhaps she had another home to go to – family, or friends, willing to hide her for when she finally had enough and shot the bastard. Perhaps she set it all up so it seemed like merely a crime of passion and not a well planned out execution. Yes, that would be truly wonderful for Sherlock, a real, decent murderess. But, then again, PMS or planned out execution; either way it was still murder. Why would she set herself up for something that wasn't really much better than the truth. Surely, someone clever enough to plan so well ahead could find some other, more reasonable excuse to shoot her husband. Or, set up someone else entirely. All one must do would be to break into the husband's bank account and take out a certain amount of money for a killer for hire. It seemed all very simple to Sherlock. Then again, he might just be overestimating a murderer's intelligence again. He did that much too often, and he often underestimated that of non-murderous people's intelligence level (but, then again, it was these non-murderous people who usually turned out to be victims, so perhaps this was justified).
Sherlock studied the photos, ignoring the hustle bustle around him, and trying to block out Lestrade hovering around him. Each photo was in a different location, some in the snowy streets of New York at Christmas, some in the beautiful plains of Africa on a family safari. They always included the children, and usually the woman whom Sherlock presumed to be the dead man's wife. Very few included the dead man himself.
"What is her name?" He asked, pointing to the wife, and Lestrade was quick to answer.
"Felicity Jordan, maiden name Woolley."
"Born poor and raised poor, but found she had a pretty face and used it to her advantage. I presume she likes long holidays and rich, dead men." Sherlock sighed, peering down at the corpse with a sort of disappointment in the man and his suggested naivety. "Oh, the pettiness of stupid people. It makes me want to cry."
"So, what do you think?" Lestrade asked, and Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him.
"What do you mean 'what do I think'? I think," He said turning around to face Lestrade calmly. "That you deliberately dragged me here for a reason that does not have anything to do with the crime scene, because it's so open and shut even you could, and in fact have, figured this out. I am baffled by reasons why you would do this, but it seems to be something of an emotional matter, seeing as Donovan and Anderson haven't done much more than glare at me today, which is peculiar in itself. The only one with so much authority to make them keep their mouths shut for so long is, hmm, let me think, you. So, the reason?"
"You know the reason." Lestrade said lowly, and Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Evidently I don't, else I wouldn't have bothered asking. If this is the height of excitement for tonight I plan to head home and very seriously ponder this deep and most riveting mystery. Come along, John, I've had enough." He exclaimed, looking for his companion, but was met with empty air. Sherlock frowned, cursing his brief moment of forgetfulness and John's irritating absence, but knowing there wasn't much he could do about it, which was possibly a first ever since Sherlock Holmes was born. He risked a look back to Lestrade who was giving him a pointed stare which Sherlock didn't like the look of before saying "Shut up." in a tone which came out harsher than he had intended and stalking off. There was no more pondering to be done Sherlock realised as he called a cab and stated his address, because the answer of Lestrade's strange behaviour hit him all at once and he didn't like it. One thing Sherlock had always been very uncomfortable with was human emotions.
Back at home, Mrs. Hudson met him at the door with a smile and a promise of tea. He thanked her, before trudging up the stairs to his apartment and neglected to close the door before sitting in a chair. 221B Baker Street was it's usual dump of books, graffiti, chemicals and body parts, with various mobiles of various colours littering the place, and stuffed full of vases which were overflowing with flowers long since withered – flowers which Sherlock hadn't been bothered to get rid of and Mrs. Hudson didn't have the heart to. He sank deep into his sitting place of choice and stared forward into the laboratory of a kitchen, which was still half sizzling from the experiment he'd abandoned to see Lestrade and his murder case which was less of a murder and more of a blunder, and which showed Lestrade was just grasping at straws now in endless vain attempts to distract him. Felicity Jordan could probably claim her husband had abused her or something equally ridiculous which anyone with two eyes could see he did not do, but juries were sympathetic to apparent 'abuse' victims, especially ones whom were mothers of three young children. She would probably get a charge of man slaughter if she claimed self-defence and if the children didn't see anything of the truth, or were wise enough to keep their mouths shut.
Mrs. Hudson wasn't long in her tea making and came up with a tray full with teapot, cups, saucers, sandwiches, toast and half the cake she'd made yesterday. He thanked her as he collected a cup, and she tutted at him, pushing a few sandwiches his way.
"I will be making you a proper meal tomorrow." She scolded. "When was the last time you ate anything at all, young man? Probably days, judging by the look of you. You have to eat, you know."
"I am aware." He said, accepting the sandwiches and taking a bite. It didn't help anything, and in fact it make him feel a little sick, but he chewed it obediently trying to avoid the steady gaze of his landlady who smiled as well as she could and touched his hand lightly.
"It'll get better." She promised and he sighed heavily, having heard this all before but knowing Mrs. Hudson would be insistent upon speaking the same words over and over again until even he started to believe them. "You'll find a good case and life will be brighter again, you'll see."
He dragged a hand over his face and closed his eyes briefly, breathing in and feeling a heavy weight on his shoulders which he couldn't shake off. He was bored, he was irritated, he couldn't stop fidgeting, or tapping his foot when he stood still too long, nor could he even play his violin due to the slight shake in his fingers which he couldn't rid himself of.
Mrs. Hudson saw him staring at said shivering digits and gripped his hand tighter.
"Just hang in there, love." She said as comforting as she could. He met her eyes and she wasn't intimidated by the intensity in his deep greens. She was getting old, now, and Sherlock was a young, misunderstood, socially awkward, lovely, brilliant, wonderful man, and she would do anything for him for he had done so much for her. Especially now, when he was bristling with energy which had no release and a mind that wouldn't for the life of him shut down even when it had nothing to focus on. The least she could do was make sure he didn't wither away by keeping him company, brewing some tea, cooking an extra portion for the meal she made to be sure he had been fed, or just making sure he knew someone was there when he stumbled in at all hours of the night.
"Do you have enough milk?" She asked, offering to get some if he didn't, but he just nodded.
"Yes, I have milk." He said, and she sighed again, feeling his hand tighten around hers in acknowledgement.
Sally Donovan was the one who came to get him three days later. At the time, he had been lying on the sofa, violin bow in his right hand which dangled limply of the side without a violin to go with it. He wasn't sleeping, but was staring up to the ceiling immediately above him which he had spray painted with seemingly random patterns the day before. It was in the same garish yellow of the smiley face on his wall (which was made by the spray paint he'd stolen from the Black Locus group for no real reason) and Sherlock seemed to find it transfixing enough to not look away when she burst noisily into the room. Donovan just thought he was insane, as usual, and didn't try making sense of what it said. It was probably some made up language which Sherlock found glee in creating, just so he was alienated that little bit more from the rest of the world.
"Oi." She said, not visibly getting his attention but she knew he was listening, even if he didn't look away from the yellow ceiling. "We've got a case for you."
"I am aware." Sherlock said absently, his expression not wavering and his tone bland in his deep, endless, tragic ennui. "Lestrade text me. Four people found dead in quiet places, though not killed there. We haven't all heard that one before. It was the butcher who lived near the first victim. Or maybe the baker, whom the last one would never buy bread from out of a misplaced sense of self-righteousness."
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah." She said in a manner as sarcastic as his own, trying not to get too pissed off at the freak of nature before or. "Or maybe it was the candlestick maker, who beat them all to death when they came asking for refunds."
"Don't be so stupid, Donovan," Sherlock said, managing to successfully ignore the sarcasm in the exact same way he manages to ignore everything else other people say. "The candlestick maker faints at the sight of blood."
"Look, we know who he is, we just need to know where he is." She said, feeling her anger rise, and he sighed, finally turning his head to look at her.
"Christopher Richmond, fifty-seven years old, working class, having worked as a factory worker down the east end docks since he was sixteen. Four children, seven grandchildren, wife deceased for twelve years. Killed the four people because of a tumour lodged in his head telling him these people are after his grandkids. Like you already know, these people have connections to his grandchildren's schools at various levels. He stalks them, waiting for them to be alone-"
"Sherlock!" Donovan cried, and he stopped abruptly. "We know. You need to help us figure out where he has gone."
"Oh." He said, and for a moment he sounded a bit put out. "Well, he's gone into hiding at his grandparent's old shack on the outskirts of Nottinghamshire, where his mother was raised." He turned his head to the ceiling again. "Is that all?"
She stared at him, flabbergasted and cantankerous as usual, trying to remind herself that Lestrade had told her to tread carefully and be as kind as she could be. She would have had a harder time of it and remembering why she had to be nice had she not seen the dead flowers littering the room.
"You can't stay in here forever." She told him in a soft voice which startled Sherlock enough to make him drop his violin bow.
"Forever is not a necessity for me." He told her after a moments beat. "I merely need to remain in here up till the day I die."
"You can't stay in here until then, either!" She cried, and he seemed calmer when she herself wasn't. It pissed her off even more, but another look to the state of disarray of the room Sherlock called his home, which was getting so bad she couldn't even see the floor anymore, reminded her once more of the requirement of cool emotions, if any at all. She needed to be understanding and patient, but it was hard going when she was trying to be understanding and patient towards Sherlock Holmes – the source of endless headaches, painful migraines and weeks of irrational anger.
"I beg to differ." He replied, picking up his bow again and looking around the room warily, possibly for his violin. "It isn't a particularly hard task. And when it comes down to it, it's quite practical. If I never move Moriarty knows where to find me. Perhaps you should set up the apartment with surveillance and security just to make sure I don't leave. I'm doing you a favour, here, don't you see?"
"Being stuck here won't help you solve anything. You have to get a case or something, because you're pissing everybody off!"
"Oh, woe betides all who are disturbed by a man who has made an informed and calculated decision not to leave his house. How you all must suffer. Personally, I've always thought you the kind to want to be rid of me."
Donovan didn't have anything to say to that one, knowing it was the truth, and he smiled smugly to himself, standing up and pointing the violin bow at her.
"I realise you're all imbeciles, but you have survived without me in the past. What's more is that I've already given you the answer, yet, instead of pursuing a violent, deranged, mentally sick serial killer you are still standing here telling me what I can't do. Usually, I might say that's behaviour I could expect from you, but you're alone here when you hate being alone with me and you haven't called me a freak or any synonym of thus since you arrived. In fact, by your standards of normal conduct towards me you've been downright delicate."
"It's because it's getting ridiculous, Holmes!" She said, batting the bow from her face and he rolled his eyes as he lowered his arm away from her. "You will go insane in here."
"Which proves to be an invalid argument, dear Donovan, when you already think I'm insane. On a number of occasions before you have given me phone numbers for psychiatrists just to cement your views on the matter of my psychological state of being."
"Sherlock, a psychiatrist could help you through this." Donovan said huffily, following the man as he started to walk off towards the kitchen.
"Through what?" He called back over his shoulder.
"Through this slump of yours! I realise that everything pales in comparison to Moriarty or whatever the hell his name is, and I also realise that nothing has been the same since- Is that a real human skull on the table? Do you really eat on that?"
"Your skills of observation never cease to amaze me, detective." Sherlock said, opening the fridge where Donovan closed her eyes instinctively, just in case it held something in it similar to the microwave incident or worse. She, personally, didn't want to know if there was. "And no, I do not eat on the kitchen table, evidently, as it has an experiment on top of it, as shown by the chemicals in the test tubes. You know, the bright coloured stuff in the see-through thingies." What he brought out of the fridge turned out to be milk, but when he opened it the stench was instant and overpowering. "Oh." He then said, mostly to himself. "Maybe we do need milk."
"Sherlock, you have to get over it." She said, ignoring his erratic train of thoughts, insults and sarcasm.
"Please pick a name for me and stick with it, Donovan. You have a choice of 'Sherlock', which is what most people call me, 'Holmes' which is my surname so equally acceptable, or your customary 'Freak'. There is, of course, 'deranged psychopath' if you wish to pick Anderson's most original, albeit inaccurate, naming of my person."
"You didn't hear a word passed 'Sherlock' did you?" Donovan demanded.
"On the contrary, you said 'Sherlock, you have to get over it', but I chose to ignore you much like you just ignored me. It works both ways, Donovan."
"Sherlock, please." Donovan pleaded, and Sherlock raised an eyebrow at her.
"'Please' what? I'm afraid you don't make yourself very clear."
"Please, get over yourself and pull yourself together. Snap out of it! Get dressed, put on that stupid coat and scarf and come help us."
"I've already helped you without doing any of those 'stupid' things, Donovan. The mystery remains why you're still here. You're losing daylight. Nottingham is roughly two hours away, after all, and that's just the city. Even then, you need to find the shack itself and come back. Sounds like a full day for you."
"And with you helping it could be even easier."
"Fun as this is, I'm tired of this banter. Tell Lestrade to leave me alone while I think and recuperate from my traumatic experience which you all initially insisted upon me doing even when I didn't want to. Yet, now you won't leave me along while I am doing as you all advised. Further more, tell him that by attempting to interfere with my life he's just serving to distract me and thus encourage my solitude for with such distractions I cannot successfully recover as the process is constantly being interrupted by outside sources which serve to bring home the pain." He took a breath and Donovan just stared at him wondering if any of that even deserved to be dignified with an answer. Without anything coming from Donovan, Sherlock felt strangely compelled to continue. "Maybe, with any luck and on my own, I will, as you said, 'snap out of it', but unlikely when people insist on badgering me. Hint. Goodbye."
It was then that Donovan tried to argue, but Sherlock wasn't particularly one for being above maturity and every time she tried to talk he would stick his fingers in his ears and say 'la la la' as loud as he could manage. Eventually she threw her arms in the air dramatically in a grudging acceptance of defeat, snarled that his violin was close to being burnt by the fireplace, who has a fire burning in the middle of the day anyway? It's only your fault when your stupid, precious instrument turns into firewood, and upon collection he played a set of violent, shrill notes to accompany her exit. As she went to leave, she accidently knocked over a vase full of rotting flowers and it smashed by her feet. The violin stopped its screaming at her and she hesitantly turned to look at him, somewhat afraid of what she'd see cross his features. He was staring at the flowers, but his expression gave away nothing. After a moment he looked up at her again and pointedly played another angry note. She took the hint and left, not bothering to feel too guilty about her failure in making Sherlock leave the house.
A week later showed a new visitor whom Sherlock wasn't expecting. He found Molly Hooper standing nervously at his door as he aimed to go downstairs and have a very serious talk with Mrs. Hudson about the misplacement of his skull. Again. Sherlock understood why Mrs. Hudson thought the skull wasn't helping him on, quote, 'the long, hard, twisting road to recovery', but he had several very good arguments he knew the woman wouldn't listen to that went against this idea and which he wished her to note down, even if he had to write them in bright pink post-it notes and stick them on her forehead, illogical as that may be. If he was to go with that plan he'd have to write the list backwards so she could read it in the mirror.
Molly's arm was raised as if to knock when he swung the door open, and her eyes expressed her own surprise at his sudden appearance. Her hair looked dull and her lip bitten to bleeding in what was obviously nerves, and he said 'hello' only after he told her she was bleeding and then stating that biting her lip to a pulp was a bloody stupid thing to do when she'd obviously not been eating and looked as pale as he did on a good day (which, for the record, didn't mean 'good' for anyone else).
She'd said 'hello' after she'd thanked him for the toilet roll he got from the bathroom to stop the bleeding. He asked her why she was there, and she looked to a seat instead of looking at him.
"You can sit down." He said absently, pulling up a chair himself from the other side of the room to face her critically as she sat on the settee.
"I'm here because I'm worried." She said, and he rolled his eyes.
"Why are you worried?"
"I haven't seen you in two months." She said nervously, biting her lip again and wincing on doing it, pressing the paper harder into her cut. Sherlock hoisted himself up to sit on the back of the chair, his long legs folded close to him and his feet resting on the seat. Her eyes followed his left foot, which was covered in his sock.
"How is your leg?"
"Perfectly usual. As it has been for the last month."
"I'm sorry I didn't come before. I heard about it all though, the night they told me about Jim…" She trailed off slightly, mouth twisting in remembrance of painful memories, but he couldn't bring himself to feel anything, as usual, besides annoyance at her idiocy towards Jim Moriarty. "Not just about you, of course." She said. "Though I'm glad you're leg is better."
He waited in silence for her to continue, not sure what he was required to say. He wasn't compelled to point out the obvious misplaced distress which bled into the way she looked because it was such a dramatic change that it couldn't just be him who noticed. She had dark circles under her eyes to show her lack of sleep, and had lost at least half a stone in the last month, though probably closer to eight pounds, which Sherlock didn't even know she even had to lose. Besides occasionally pointing out the obvious to her, Sherlock had never really talked to Molly much outside of a work basis, and now he didn't have any work so he was rather stumped on the social niceties which dictate what he should say in this situation. But she seemed so sad and small and broken, and also guilty which was an emotion Sherlock couldn't understand why she was feeling at all, unless it was her to put the evil thoughts into Moriarty's head which was something Sherlock would deny even if God himself brought down a hand to slap him upside the head and tell him Molly was the source of all that evil. Because she wasn't, and therefore nothing was her fault to feel guilty about.
An idea struck him, and it was an idea which was so totally alien to him that Sherlock was amazed it had entered his mind at all. But then, without his cases, his mind had been an endless stream of seemingly useless information which had never meant much to him before and it still didn't now. Mixed among them was a distant and half forgotten voice offering sarcastic suggestions of how normal people would help others.
"Would you like to join me this evening for some dinner?" He asked, slightly awkwardly but no less sure of his decision. Molly's head snapped up so quick Sherlock suspected she might have whiplash as a consequence of her fast action.
"Excuse me?" She asked, as if she hadn't heard him properly, though Sherlock was sure he hadn't stuttered.
"Dinner. Tonight? John always said the best cure for boredom was company."
Molly was very obviously speechless, and Sherlock took that as a good sign and pointed to the table by Molly. "My phone." He said to her, as she started to snap out of her astonishment. "Could you pass it to me?" Wordless still, she did so without asking questions. He texted Sarah Sawyer blindly as he told Molly to meet him at the Golden Dragon at eight that night. It is not a formal occasion, so there is no need to dress up smartly.
She nodded, shaking herself a little and blushing when he looked to her outfit. "That will be fine." He nodded, and she smiled at him with a glowing intensity that Sherlock couldn't dream of mustering, even with all his acting ability combined into one concentrated, extreme expression.
She let herself out soon after, before Sherlock could even offer her tea, even though he'd broken the kettle when he used it as a container for a small explosion (the spout had proved perfect to see the colour of the smoke, though he hadn't anticipated it destroying the inside of his kettle to such an extend that it couldn't boil his water anymore. Instead, it leaked every time he tried, and he hadn't quite given up quite yet out of sheer defiance at the kitchen appliance). Worse than that, though, he only had a few soggy teabags festering away and growing mould in an old mug, because he had been relying completely on Mrs. Hudson for his caffeinated needs the last few months.
It was a few minutes after Molly left that he realised he's neglected to tell her that other people would be joining them that evening because Sarah had planned this little get-together weeks back. Sarah wouldn't mind an extra person, though she may have already reserved seats. Oh, well. It wasn't like they didn't know Sherlock there at the restaurant. Like most places Sherlock ate at, the owners had been in distress with the law at some point in their lives and Sherlock had managed to help out in his own magnificent, unique and frankly wonderful way. Because of that they would bend over backwards for him, if he'd asked or not. An extra seat wouldn't be a problem. He could always text Molly, he supposed, to warn her, but she would find out later either way.
He had met Sarah there a bit earlier than expected, but she was already waiting with Harry and Clara (whom had gotten back together those two months ago) and four friends whom Sherlock had only seen once before, about a month and a half ago, though they hadn't been introduced. One was called Jake, and Sherlock could tell he was a school drop out who worked at a fish n' chip takeaway and who went to the same pub as Harry. One was called Alice, and Alice was a challenge to work out. Sherlock figured she'd gone to a University further up north and got a degree in arts. She was probably an actor, who worked mainly in theatre. That, or she was a part time charity worker for Oxfam who taught Rainbows to be Brownies, but he couldn't be sure without asking her. Finally was an obvious army man called Craig who had his leg amputated and managed to get a prosthetic one when he got home, and he was as pleased as punch with it, liking to show it to people. Sherlock, personally, thought it was pretty cool. Finally there was Bill Murray, who was unemployed for the time being, but seemed fairly happy about it. He'd looked a bit like a man who'd lost a bit of weight in a short time. To be honest, a lot of them looked like that.
Also meeting them was Mike Stamford, who shook Sherlock's hand when he arrived, saying 'long time no see', and then greeting everyone else in a more awkward way because likewise to Sherlock he'd only met most of these people once. Following was Ella Thompson, who was interested in seeing Sherlock again and studied him critically whilst asking about his leg but analysising 'covertly' him for other things. When Harry motioned to go inside, Sarah stopped her, giggling slightly saying they were still waiting for Sherlock's date. Sherlock wasn't moved by the shocked faces of those who knew him, or at least enough about him to know a date was not in the usual order, if not impossible, spinning to look at him in a curious manner as if they couldn't believe it.
"Molly isn't a date, she's a co-worker. And she's very upset about everything, just like we are."
"Molly? Oh, Molly from the blog! Yeah, she'd comment occasionally wouldn't she?" Harry said, and Sherlock nodded in confirmation.
And it wasn't a few minutes until Molly arrived, apologising for being late, then looking awkwardly around at other people. She blushed, having only ever met Sherlock and Mike before in her life.
Harry was the most forward, with a wide grin and a friendly hand offering Molly a place in their little circle. "Hello!" She had cheered in a manner Sherlock though should never be necessary unless someone has squeezed the life out of several someone else's and then managed to disappear into thin air. Then, and it should be noted in those same bright pink post-it notes that only then, should that level of happiness be expressed at such a high pitch.
Inside, the restaurant owner personally greeted Sherlock and his party with open arms and so getting Molly that extra seat was nothing less than an honour and certainly not an inconvenience at all. They all introduced themselves properly, explaining to each other their jobs and their lives, and Sherlock was right about them all, seeing as Alice was both charity worker and trying to make it as big as she could in amateur dramatics. She also helped Brownies become Guides after successfully moving up in the world from the lowly Rainbows. Molly easily fell into the group, and was very open about her job (which most of the table thought was cool, and the ones who didn't hadn't really wanted to hear about it over food but were too polite to say so), and they even squeezed a few words out of Sherlock that weren't sarcastic or about other people.
It was soon that the stories started flowing, but it was an accident when they started. It was Craig who had been the one to get the ball rolling, when he explained his leg. Harry had been quick to start regaling her own tales, be they either funny or sad, then Mike, then Bill, then Alice and Jake and Ella and Sarah. Molly had a few small tings to say, and Clara too, and in the end it was only Sherlock who had kept his lips tightly shut throughout the entire, long, somewhat painful conversation.
Silence fell for a short while, and the table looked at him expectantly. He looked around, honestly surprised that they were waiting for him to talk, and then he met Harry Watson's eyes across the table. Harry had the same eyes as her brother, and the same general face structure, and tonight she had her brown hair pulled back in a pony tail. She looked so much like John for a moment that Sherlock had to close his eyes.
When he opened them again, she was just Harry, and Harry had those big, glittering eyes which wanted him to tell her everything all over again like she'd never heard the tragic story before, even when she had him tell it every time they met. He steeled himself and felt the resolve in him break a little, feeling slightly like he owed Harry something even when he knew that he didn't. He cleared his throat slightly, and straightened himself up in his chair. Everyone was watching in anticipation, waiting for his words, and he forced them to come even though they had a hard time climbing from his lungs to his mouth.
"For a moment, I thought it was him." Sherlock said, scoffing at himself a little bit as he said it. "Ridiculously, I though it was him who had caused the death of all those people. I mean, I knew he had no problem with death or violence – the army having wiped that out from his system – but I also knew that it wasn't possible, because this was him; this was John Watson, who'd do anything to keep others alive. Of course, as I know now and should have known in the first place, he was just another victim, with bombs strapped to his chest and a sniper aimed on the bombs and it was all very over-the-top dramatic, like something out of those horrific Bond movies he made me watch." A small, knowing laugh went round the table, because these people had all read that stupid little blog of John's, and some had even sat through 'Bond night' with him before.
"I don't remember a lot of it in the rush of fear and adrenaline." Sherlock continued, which was a blatant lie and everybody knew it, but they also knew well enough his feelings and they felt only Harry had the right to call his bluff. But Harry never had; never would, either, and Sherlock suspected this was because she felt somewhere inside her heart that she truly didn't want to know everything. "All that matters is that in the end I was pointing a gun at a bomb with a crazed maniac grinning at me, John looking at me patiently. And then the gun goes off, and he's pushed me into the pool."
It was Lestrade who found him, as he staggered out of the burning building, wet, coughing, hardly able to breathe for the fumes, on the verge of unconsciousness, feeling air-headed and floaty in that very distinctive not-good-at-all-for-your-health kind of way. His foot was bleeding heavily, that being a part of the body exposed at the time and thus caught by pieces of metal and fire flying around at god only knows what speed because he didn't actually see it, and he was having extreme difficulty keeping himself upright for the pain. He needed something strong and numbing to make himself feel well again.
"Jesus!" Lestrade said, coming to catch him as he stumbled, wrapping Sherlock's arms around his shoulder. Without having to completely support himself anymore, Sherlock instantly felt better. "What happened in there?" Lestrade demanded. Sherlock smiled at the DI and felt a bit of laughter rise up.
"I think we got him." He said, nodding his head and feeling only a small pang of disappointment at the highly probable demise of Sherlock's only true intellectual match, including even Mycroft. "He deserved it, making it so very personal like that."
"What the hell are you babbling about? 'Personal' how? And who's 'we'?" Lestrade sighed heavily, knowing that despite the physical injuries, Sherlock was a-okay and would probably be back to normal in half an hour if he could. They were approaching the ambulance now, and the paramedics were starting to notice them which was good because tending to the injured was their job, not Lestrade's; he had a murderer to find, be it corpse or not. "Look, I don't have time for this, I will talk to you later."
"'We' being John, of course." Sherlock replied before Lestrade could rush off because he was still draped dependently across his shoulders, looking to the ambulance passed the paramedics who were now rushing towards them. "But, you go and do your mucky cleaning-up and destroying the whole crime scene thing, please do. Where is he, do you think?"
"Watson's in there?" Lestrade shouted, and Sherlock, for the first time in Lestrade's five years of knowing him looked positively stunned at his outburst, turning to look at the DI when he'd previously been looking around for John. "Oh, I should have know, he's always following you into dangerous situations!"
"He's not out?" Sherlock said, as if that wasn't obvious enough as it was with Lestrade's shock and the ambulance's clear lack of patient. "No, he has to be out, he was held hostage by Moriarty, with bombs to his chest and everything – he needs a blanket."
"Sherlock, stay here. We're going to go find him." Lestrade said, realising the need for delicacy in this situation. He passed Sherlock over to a paramedic, trying to avoid looking at the man who was shaking his dark head of curls, refusing to believe what Lestrade said despite all logic telling him otherwise, and trying to get over his momentary speechlessness to shout out what Lestrade could only guess was the normal rant on their stupidity. John had to be out, obviously, you stupid people, you just don't use your eyes or brains enough to see him. I'll find him, you'll see. But he didn't say any of that because he was still attempting to wrap his almighty grey matter around the fact that John was not out of the burning building.
Lestrade spoke into his walkie-talkie, saying "We have a man in there. John Watson, short, brown hair, ran in after Sherlock. Find him."
"No." Lestrade heard Sherlock say about half a minute later, when Lestrade was a small distance away and reality caught up to the clever but oh so idiotic man. "No, you're wrong as usual, Lestrade!"
Lestrade turned when he heard Sherlock fall to the floor, the paramedics arguing with him and some police trying to restrain him. Over their supporting shoulders, Sherlock looked crazed. Lestrade stood frozen even as other police officers ran passed him towards the building, not noticing Sherlock Holmes' wild eyes, and his frenzied movements, jerky and strong, but he was so tired and injured and in so much pain, and he couldn't do anything against the paramedics and it made him so angry. He wasn't looking at Lestrade now, but to the building where the fires blazed and the smoke rose up a mile in great black plumes, and somewhere in there was his flatmate, colleague, and dare Lestrade say it, friend. His calling for John started low, in the same voice he usually used, and as they dragged him away his desperation grew in pitch and violence. "John!" He was screaming, and more policemen were running up to help contain the consulting detective and his thrashing, fighting limbs. "Let me go, I need to find John! John!"
Lestrade could only close his eyes and pray for Sherlock's sake that they at least found Watson in one piece.
John had been caught in the explosion, the force having thrown him backwards whilst he had made sure Sherlock had toppled into the pool, and gone through a wall which had knocked him out and damaged his spine and the back of his skull. This was before the fires had even started. Eventually the flames had swallowed him up, and later the roof had caved in as well, with big parts of the ceiling hitting him in crucial places that would have crushed the life out of him had the fumes and shock of impact and bleeding or whatever he died from done so first. There were so many injuries that doctors just shrugged, surmising it was probably a mix of everything and Mycroft had, out of some amount of love and curtsey towards his little brother, had made sure the body was but in St. Bart's in order for Sherlock to see him a few days later when Sherlock had been released from the hospital. Sherlock had his very own crutch to show for his brush with death, and an arm sling for his struggles with the police. Molly had been absent that day where he had gone in to see John, and Sherlock was able to goad her replacement into leaving him alone, taking his time in assuring the suspicious man who'd heard the tale's of Sherlock Holmes (probably through John's stupid blog) that he wasn't going to make off with any body part that the deceased's family (a certain Harriet Watson) wouldn't mind said deceased keeping. While Sherlock was suddenly very tempted to see what he could saw off and how long he could hide it from Mrs Hudson, he decided it might be best for everyone if John Watson was left in peace, as a whole.
Sherlock looked down at the tattered remains of his best friend, his only friend, expecting it to revolt him or to upset him so thoroughly he couldn't stay in there long. That's what pop culture television had told him – that's what they expected of people. That's why he had been able to get rid of the doctor for a while. That's why he was able to come here: because they didn't expect him to stay. But something about seeing John there brought the opposite feeling – a feeling of closure and calm, because before now Sherlock was able to deny John was dead, because he hadn't seen the body, even when everyone else had told him repeatedly that a corpse was all that remains. He had been able to say that John was alive with a certainly that was ill-filling and ridiculous and understandable and not particularly real because all the clues pointed in this direction – towards the morgue at St. Bart's, and it was driving Sherlock insane. But now… well, now that defiance had died and Sherlock was able to stare down at the body of his friend and feel glad he was in tact, albeit dead and in tact, instead of dead and in pieces, which would be less pleasing to the eye, and mean that Sherlock could go on denying until he'd run a thousand tests himself, and continue to not only drive himself mad, but drive the scientists who needed those labs mad, and Lestrade mad at his refusal to think of nothing else, and Mrs. Hudson mad for not coming home and Harriet Watson mad for giving her hope. Harriet had already been to see her brother, Lestrade had told Sherlock, and could stand with him for a whole of two minutes. She was probably at this exact moment drowning herself in some drunken stupor. Sherlock wondered vaguely if she would even survive to see her brother's funeral.
Sherlock started to prod his way around John's body, looking for his own clues, deducing his own conclusions on time of dead, reason for death, what he was thinking as he died, the usual. When he was done he had drawn the firly obvious conclusion that it was the being forced through a tiled brick wall and a locker to reach the other side which had knocked him out, the gases caused by the fire had kept him there, and his actual life was crushed out of him pretty soon after when the wall itself crumbled due to the same explosion which had forced John backwards and judging by the bruising on his chest had a locker fall on top of him with a wall still attached, breaking his ribs and squashing him like a pancake, rupturing his internal organs, including his heart and lungs. And even if it hadn't John wouldn't have been able to breath. It wasn't particularly quick or elegant, as deaths go, but Sherlock supposed he hadn't felt it. Or he had a little, but it is okay, because now he wouldn't remember anyway. Because he's dead.
Sherlock, once he was done, found he was glad he had exercised this activity on John, and waited for his friend to sit up and roll his eyes and tell him he wasn't doing that again ever and then Sherlock came back to reality and felt a headache coming on concerning his own emotional stupidity. He then pulled up a stool and sat on it, leaning forward, elbows on his knees and fingers tied together, watching those closed eyes and wondering if it was usual to feel this sort of serenity. On one hand, yes, John was dead. On the other hand, John was dead and that was that. Sherlock couldn't drag him into anymore stupid, dangerous, horrifying situations anymore and give Sherlock a heart attack every time he almost died, because you couldn't get much deader than the dead and thus this was as bad as it was going to get. Admittedly, it really was very bad, but it really couldn't get any worse.
Had he been expected to leave in a fit of emotional instability? Probably, and he was suffering through private turmoil due to this tragedy, that much was true, but it made Sherlock wonder if he could just move in. The bright lights, buzzing and current company made Sherlock feel like it was merely a caseless three AM at Baker Street and John had fallen asleep in front of the TV whilst it was playing some late night reruns of Big Brother. Sherlock's fingers twitched on their own accord, and he entertained for a moment the thought of playing his violin for John now that he was in no position to complain about Sherlock waking him at this late hour. He smiled briefly.
221B Baker Street was never quiet, be it Mrs. Hudson's bustling or Sherlock's endless ranting or visitors popping in and out constantly, or the new flatmate Sherlock had been loathe to find for months. His name was Chris and Sherlock and he had a sort of truce where Sherlock could play all the violin he wanted but Chris would expect some amount of money in exchange for his lack of sleep. And if Sherlock was insistent on keeping body parts around, then at least don't put food without securely locked containers in there too. Chris had eventually brought a separate fridge for the body parts and pieces which Sherlock was adamant about staying chilled, and Mrs. Hudson took a liking to him, though would often mutter to Sherlock about him not being quite like our dear John, oh no, neat as that poor boy was, made lovely tea too. The upside was Chris wouldn't blink an eye, much less be concerned and call both an ambulance and Lestrade, if he found Sherlock high as a balloon and further due to him refinding his secret stash and then utilising it vigorously and immediately and without warning. Rather, Chris would just think that the stupid things Sherlock would do whilst drugged to kingdom come were perfectly usual for a happy, high genius ('stupid things' reportedly included illogical actions such as refusing to touch certain pillows, using the arm he kept in the freezer as a pointy stick, making art sculptures out of kitchen appliances and chairs, before putting the TV on the other side of the room, sitting on whichever chair was closest – safe being a term which was not in Sherlock's dictionary even when low, sober, ill and definitely not in a drug enticed state of utter daze and dazzlement – and shouting obscenities at whoever was on Jeremy Kyle that day in a voice so loud that Jeremy Kyle could probably actually hear him from here. Occasionally Sherlock would switch that for Big Brother).
Because of all this noise and kerfuffle and commotion and craziness, Sherlock had little time to think. There was always a case to do, Lestrade made sure, and even on the rare occasion there wasn't, there were other people, like Molly or Mrs. Hudson or Harry or occasionally Chris who would go out of their way to make sure he didn't think. Chris didn't know too many details, but was convinced Sherlock was gay, though was also convinced Sherlock was like a heart-broken widow so wasn't particularly worried that Sherlock would make moves towards him or any of the mates he brought round (which he did surprisingly often, considering the absolute tip they'd manage to make the flat through months of neglect in which they didn't have a John Watson to tell them that it was really getting stupid not being able to see his own damn carpet which he was damn well paying every month for so he had the god damn right to see it). Chris and Sherlock weren't quite as picky about seeing what was below their feet, though getting around was beginning to get like climbing a mountain. Also, due to company Sherlock still wouldn't get over (his own company being mostly heads of major murder investigations and Molly), there was a big Chris-written warning sign on the body fridge which Sherlock had once switched when he was particularly angry about Chris not being John – dear, missed John, who didn't go to the extremes of buying a new fridge when he found a head next to his milk. John was reasonable like that. He'd also done it again with one of Chris' friends, Adam, who particularly annoyed Sherlock due to the man's boyish and irritatingly free friendliness which included familiar punches to the arm when Sherlock most certainly wasn't familiar with him and an attempt to goad him into a friendly wrestling match. The man had also found Sherlock's violin bow and had not only said it was a 'stupid girly instrument' but had also touched the string. Sherlock felt no guilt in not switching the signs over but instead switching the fridges when Chris next told him Adam was coming over to watch the footie. An eye for an eye, and there were some chilled eyes in there (because Chris ate too many pot noodles for them to remain in the microwave) so the saying was fitting.
Sherlock was glad of his childish actions, even if, morally, he knew he shouldn't have been. That day, he sat in a chair dejectedly, waiting for Lestrade to call him about a case which had been offered though details were thin on the ground at the moment and the police were still trying to calculate their rather small chances of them figuring this out without him. He had his violin in his lap and was pointedly admiring his new bow string even if he knew Adam would never even realise it was a different one due to his unknowingly destroying the old one. When Adam himself came in and sat on the sofa opposite the TV with Chris waiting for the footie to come on, he had said hello to Sherlock as if he hadn't done a thing wrong in the world. Admittedly, Adam didn't know he had. Sherlock rolled his eyes, picked out his phone to see if he'd unwittingly received a text he hadn't known about (which he hadn't) before fiddling with his instrument again. He put down the bow on the opposite side of himself away from Adam though he knew Adam didn't notice, and started to tune his violin, playing a few chords when he was done, and measuring how long it took for Adam to get annoyed. There was no use in measuring Chris because he was fairly sure that his flatmates worked up a selective deafness to violin playing and tolerated it as long as it was played only before they had retired for bed. Sherlock didn't understand what the fuss would be about when Adam did finally get fed up of Sherlock's messing with him – the game hadn't even started yet, and even if it had you could see what was going on without the commentary. He was also fairly certain Adam wouldn't hit him when he got annoyed, but couldn't help wince away on part of his violin when the younger, but stronger looking man abruptly stood up. Adam, of course, just went straight passed him, calling out to Chris to ask if he wanted a beer. Chris said yeah, telling him it was in the fridge. Sherlock tried hard, and failed, not to smile, but luckily Chris wasn't paying him attention.
"Do you want anything, Sherlock?" Adam asked, and Sherlock said no, refraining from replying that he would like the new head no one had yet to find out he had to talk to if it wasn't too much trouble. It hadn't been discovered yet, what with everyone too scared to look deliberately into Sherlock's body fridge of doom. You'll see it, second shelf. His smile grew bigger without his say so and he played a few chipper notes to accompany his amusement, which Chris continued to ignore.
"Hey, Chris?" Adam asked, and Chris strained to look round into the kitchen.
"Yeah?" He answered back to his friend. The fridge had yet to open and Sherlock was delighted to figure that Adam remembered that the fridge which was sign posted with a DOOM warning was the other one last time, and changing them over was probably unhygienic.
"Wasn't the other fridge the bad fridge?" To which Chris gave Sherlock a glare, Sherlock shrugged as if caught, and wondered if this was going to be all the funnier because Adam honestly didn't know there were parts of dead people in the 'bad fridge'.
"Yeah," Chris gave Sherlock an angry roll of his eyes when he went to briefly look at which fridge held the 'Do Not Enter' sign. "Sherlock's pissing around again." He muttered, sitting down once more. Sherlock actually managed not to smile this time as he looked discreetly towards the kitchen under his eyelashes whilst pretending to dust over, under and in his violin. Making it funnier still was the fact Chris thought, even just for a moment, that he'd outwitted Sherlock.
"Right." He hears Adam say, and the poor, sweet innocent, naïve boy actually thinks with confidence that he's opening the 'good' fridge. Seven eyes, four fingers, one foot, and a head (the arm back in the freezer, thank you very much) clued him in otherwise, and a startled scream of disbelief clued Sherlock and Chris into the fact it was the very bad fridge.
"Sherlock!" Chris exclaimed as he jumped from the settee to tend to his gibbering mess of a now traumatised friend and Sherlock grinned happily to himself.
"Just a tea for me." He said, over Chris' cursing his very being and helping his friends out of the kitchen door and down the steps to a hospital. Sherlock, though, had sobered up immediately and closed his eyes as the sound of his own words bounced back at him in his head, echoing and lingering and he hated the déjà vu, the repeated scenario, the same act in the play but with the wrong supporting actor. He hated the analogies, the pretty metaphors, the stupid rule of three, it made him sick to the stomach. He stomped around the flat, taking everything out the body fridge and the normal fridge and scattering them about the flat, making it messier and more disgusting than before in anger at Chris for being Chris, and the flat for being so messy at all, and himself for being completely irrational and mardy. He didn't change the fridges back over in pure spite to no one at all and poured chemicals over stuff which didn't belong to him before setting them on fire and watching the flames flicker.
He never dreamed about that horrible night where he was rendered incapacitated by strong policemen and drugs and orange blankets, but when he remembered he could remember with startling clarity, recalling the exact way the flames worked at destroying that leisure centre, knowing the exact colour and smell and type of smoke. And this fire wasn't right. It made him even angrier. He put it out using over half of Chris' wardrobe, which wasn't the right distinctive shade of milk-with-tea or off Weetabix for Sherlock's exact standards, and then collapsed in a furious, tall, thin tower of dark clothes against pale skin. He ran a hand down his face and wondered what the hell he was doing. It was now seven and a half months ago, and he had his chance once a month to get together with a gradually growing group of John's peers, family, friends, and talk and remember him then. In between then he was kept busy for this exact reason – any excuse, and Sherlock was destroying things which weren't his and getting closer to outgrowing the 'sociopath' label and starting to fit rather neatly into Anderson and Donovan's 'psychopath' profile. Being something which they expected him to be made Sherlock feel worse, but he found he couldn't do much to help it. He had become dependant, attached and very happy with the fact he had found a person he could depend on and become attached to and wouldn't mind taking a bomb for him, sod everybody else.
Sherlock figured what was worse was that Moriarty had managed to escape when John hadn't, so he had basically died for nothing.
But, then, there was always something even worse, and in this case it was the fact that John hadn't died for nothing, because John had died saving him, and this made Sherlock the angriest of all, because John had survived Afghanistan but not him. John had been stupid enough to follow Sherlock, because with Sherlock satisfied his destructive need for the war; for destruction, recklessness, dangerous situations. John wouldn't be bothered about being blown away because that and being shot was really all you can expect from war and John had already been shot once. A bomb may have been the logical next step, and heroically saving someone was just part of the job.
Sherlock thought John an idiot, and then thought himself a bigger idiot for letting the man be ever the soldier, and ever the doctor, who would always put civilian life before theirs. Sherlock had survived, and John had died for him to survive. That was all there was to it, and it meant that Sherlock had better keep on surviving else John would have truly died for absolutely nothing at all. John had left Sherlock alone, to continue with his struggle with crime, Moriarty, and the rest of the idiotic human race, and Sherlock hated him for it, because Sherlock couldn't gamble away his life anymore, couldn't play the games of life and death, and was even careful with his cocaine, and once he'd even thought twice about how many nicotine patches he put on himself. Everything was delicate now, and it took the edge off life. Sherlock felt as if he were stuck in eternal limbo, with only the smaller of life's pleasures (like the beautiful time in the middle of every case where the police remained blissfully ignorant but Sherlock knew absolutely everything and exclaimed as such loudly to a point which drove the surrounding officers to consider homicide themselves) the only things around which he relied on to make sure he was not driven insane at the sheer ceaseless lacklustre state of the planet.
Sherlock looked to himself in the opposite mirror and then to the smouldering ashes of what was once a pile of Chris' belongings and felt there was some trouble with the law approaching. He looked to the head he had placed on the mantelpiece and wondered out loud what on earth was he doing, he had just been on another plane of existence, and it was quite terrible of him really, leaving the world around him in such a rude and dram like manner. That said, he went to fetch his violin, put it away neatly in its case before requesting Mrs. Hudson to hide it from Chris but refusing to specify why (she can find out on her own if she really wanted to. The stairs were just there, and the door was ever open), before heading out into the world. He wrapped his scarf around his neck in the usual manner and told Molly he was on his way over to St. Bart's; he has a wrinkle on the corpse's left little finger to base an entire case around.
The wind was biting against his neck, and he felt his cheeks and nose flush as he struggled against it. He couldn't say he felt particularly happy, or particularly alive, but he was alive and he supposed as emotions went he wasn't particularly unhappy, which, for now, was good enough.
A/N: First finished Sherlock fic. I anticipate more to come. You been on the sherlockbbc community on livejoural? Dude, they never shut up, they're so goddamn active, it is beautiful. I felt I just had to be a part of it.