Title: Whatever Remains

Author: Dayja

Summary: Sherlock dies. When he comes back, he takes detective work to a whole new level.

Genre: Sherlock BBC, gen but strong friendship, AU, ESP

Warning: Some violence, character death (sort of), occasional but rare strong language, wip

Rating: PG-13, teen

Spoilers: nothing specific but references to the first series might come up.

Disclaimer: I do not own/am not associated with Sherlock.

Chapter 1

It was strange how it didn't hurt. The knife had been very sharp and his adrenalin had been pumping and he hadn't even realized the knife had found its mark until after the fight was over and knifeman was lying unconscious in the remains of a broken crate, his own knife stuck through his hand. Sherlock was glowing with success and energy until it came to his attention that his sleeve was wet. He thought it odd because there was no water around.

Then he looked, and said "oh". So the particularly vicious swipe he had thought he had managed to avoid was actually a hit. And now his arm was covered in blood.

He spent a good minute simply staring at the wound, his mind analyzing it and the rate of the blood that still flowed freely with every beat of his heart and he thought, this should hurt. It didn't feel real, and so it didn't feel like it could be truly life threatening. There was no thrill of danger or icy terror that his blood was draining away. Then he shuddered, and it did hurt, and his mind shuddered for a moment before deciding that perhaps he should be getting help.

His fingers were slippery when he pulled out his phone, and it bothered him that he was getting it dirty. He managed to text John anyway, because John was a doctor and knew about these things. And then he thought he really should be applying pressure because free flowing blood was bad, and it hurt, and the world was starting to go a bit dizzy. It might have helped if he sat down but the ground here was dirty and old and looked entirely uninviting. He started to text Lestrade that he had a criminal for him to pick up when his legs decided he was going to sit anyway, and he dropped the phone.

He was growing cold. He knew this was a bad sign. He didn't think a major artery had been sliced through or he would already be dead, but he knew he was in danger and should be doing something about it. It still didn't feel quite real or like there should be real consequences to a momentary lapse in a knife fight that he hadn't even felt. He hadn't felt it so it couldn't kill him now. His phone started ringing. He stopped his half-hearted attempts at pressure to try to pick up the phone.

It took a few tries, his fingers felt clumsy and slick with blood.


"Sherlock?" The voice on the other end sounded worried. "Sherlock, tell us where you are."

"On the ground," he answered sensibly, and frowning because he didn't want to talk to John on the phone. He wanted John to be there. John would make the blood go away that was sticky and wet and cold and completely ruining his clothes. There was a brief silence over the phone.

"Where is the ground?" The question made no proper sense because the answer was in the question; the ground was on the ground. Sherlock frowned, considering this new riddle.

"Under me," he finally decided.

"Sherlock," the voice said decisively, the kind of voice that spoke of authority and a need for absolute obedience, "You ran ahead of us; we need to know, which way did you go?"

Sherlock considered this.

"I went…I…" His thoughts were twisting away from him. The answer was easy, he could almost see his rout, but it kept dancing away. His mind didn't dance away like that; it didn't desert him when it came to a simple memory of an event that had just happened. He was starting to feel scared in ways that the blood itself didn't affect him. "John? Where…you should come here, I need…"

"Sherlock, I'm trying, I'm coming, I promise, just…I need you to help me. I need to know where you are." There was something odd about John's voice, disturbing. It wasn't the way John was supposed to sound. Almost like he was angry, but not quite.

"I'm..I…left," he managed to say, "Ran left…s'wet, don't like it." He heard John's voice again but not the words. Holding the phone was tiring. He wanted John to be there, perhaps with a blanket. "John? Come…s'cold. Where…John?" Where was John? He heard his voice but he was alone, lying on the ground. Why was he lying on the ground? Cold and wet and sticky and this place smelled. And he was so tired. He thought someone had told him to talk, that sleeping was bad.

Then warm hands grabbed him, pulling him up. John?

"Damn you fucker!" a snarling voice growled, and the world tilted, the hold on him clumsy as the stranger tried to hold him with his injured hand and threaten him with his other. Sherlock frowned at him. The man was supposed to be unconscious still. Sherlock had time to think 'this isn't good' and then there was an explosion and he fell.

And finally, finally, John was there. He wasn't alone. Sherlock managed a brief smile of satisfaction before the world slid sideways.

Then it just went.

When the world returned it came back too strong and not strong enough, like waking up in a cartoon. His brain worked and it didn't; he understood everything he saw as details and facts but the facts refused to add up and make sense. Like the fact that he didn't hurt and his mind was perfectly clear but he wasn't in hospital. Like the fact that he was still in the old warehouse and it was filled with people and John was leaning over a body, arms straight leaned over him, crushing the body's chest over and over while a white faced Anderson was doing something to the body's arm and Lestrade shouted into his phone. Like the fact that knifeman was standing in the middle of all this, leering at him, and none of the policemen wandering around were restraining him.

Sherlock wanted John to come over and explain it, but he was a doctor and looked a bit busy and Sherlock wasn't quite so selfish to try and interrupt his resuscitation attempts. Lestrade didn't look like he'd answer either, so he sought out another familiar looking face to try.

Sally Donovan was standing over a dead body. Since this was a sight Sherlock often saw, this didn't seem odd. This body was obviously beyond any resuscitation efforts, considering the hole in the side of its head. The expression on Sally's face was a bit odd, Sherlock noted, a mixture of disgust, fury, and deep satisfaction. And then Sherlock looked again and felt weird because her expression was perfectly blank. Sherlock might be good at reading people, whether they were lying or not and what motives might be driving them, but he still found emotions tricky. And her blank expression had no tells. He decided, for the moment, to not worry about it.

"Sally," he said, and waited for her to turn to him and answer with the familiar, "Freak." She said nothing. She didn't even look at him. Sherlock frowned. That wasn't how it was supposed to work. She was supposed to look annoyed and eye him suspiciously and he was supposed to earn that annoyance. She tells him he's a heartless psychopath and he tells her she's a blind imbecile and then he solves the case and proves it. It's their thing.

"Donovan," he tries again, in case it was the first name thing that had her ignoring him. She didn't look at him. Not even when he moved right in front of her.

"She can't see you." And knifeman walked up, still leering unpleasantly, "I might be dead, but I'm not going alone."

"Don't be preposterous," Sherlock answered, frowning. He avoided looking in the direction of John and the body.

"Look at us!" the man laughed, far too delighted for someone who had just died. Sherlock felt slimy just looking at him. Knifeman had no problem wandering up to the frantic activity located around John. "Isn't it pathetic, how he just keeps pounding away at your useless flesh?"

"Shut up," Sherlock answered, staring now. Because suddenly the body John was leaning over made far too much sense. And it was very very wrong that he was standing outside of it. And damn it, this wasn't how death was supposed to work. He had been almost certain that spirits didn't walk the earth, though his mind had still been open on the afterlife thing. If this was the afterlife then…well, it wasn't fair. It was too disappointing.

"I bet I could still hurt you, like this," knifeman said suddenly, "I bet I could rip you to shreds, surrounded by your friends and them not doing a thing. I wonder what happens when you kill a ghost?"

And somehow knifeman still had his knife and Sherlock had…nothing. And knifeman charged, and Sherlock tried to twist away and something colder than ice grasped his throat and for that moment all the color and emotion in the world dissolved into ice and he knew a fear deeper than any he had ever known, the fear of disappearing and being nothing and alone for eternity.

Then knifeman was gone, and the world shuddered back into place.

He didn't see what happened. No opening chasm to hell, no bright white light. He got an impression of hooves and feathers and heat and cold, of something so much larger than himself, beyond himself. Terror and Love and Justice. For a moment, it felt like he was feeling all of everyone at once, like he had gone utterly mad.

And then it was gone and he was alone.

The living were still there, shadows of light and fire and emotion. John was a maelstrom of fury and fear and sorrow and pain and hope and love. He was staring at where the paramedics had taken over on Sherlock's body. And Sherlock wanted to return to him and didn't know how.

Side by side two friends stood, each completely alone.

Then something pulled, and the world dissolved and rearranged itself into pain and cold and lungs that burned and a heart that struggled. A corpse drew in breath. A still heart stumbled into life.

Afterwards, he didn't really remember his short episode as a spirit. He remembered a deep fear of not existing, of being completely alone. And a bit like muscle memory, something deep inside him remembered what it was like to look into the universe and feel.