Second in the Acts of Poetry Quartet, as I have decided to call it. Sequel to i carry your heart. Based on the poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Warnings: Mentions of Suicide.
Dr. John Watson crept through the graveyard at half past midnight, trying very hard not to be bothered by how he must look – a forty-year old man with a cane weaving between the headstones like a teenager up to no good. He would have laughed at the image a year ago, regardless of the lack of respect laughing in a graveyard would show.
John doesn't laugh in inappropriate places anymore. John doesn't laugh at all.
He found what he was looking for in short order. He hadn't been here since the funeral (closed casket), but the location was engrained in his memory.
The grave bears a simple "Sherlock Holmes: 1977-2010." No epithets, no titles. Clean and simple.
John sets his cane against the edge of the headstone before lowering himself down. He rests his back against the marble and looks up, trying to make out the stars through the light pollution London provides.
"It's been a year, you know. A year, down to the minute according to your death certificate." A long silence. "I know you'd think this is stupid, but frankly, I don't care. You were always an idiot about these sorts of things anyway.
"Lestrade was transferred to Scotland. Scotland, can you believe it? By the time I finally got around to making myself get out of bed, he was already gone. He hasn't returned any of my emails. I think he blames himself. Which is stupid, of course, but you never really had a very high estimation of his intelligence, so I doubt you'd find that surprising.
"What you probably would find surprising is that Sally and I go out for coffee about twice a month. She's really one of the only people I can stand to be around now. She isn't always asking me how I'm doing or if I want to talk about it. You know the first thing she said to me after she found out? That everyone was full of shit. That it hurts like hell and it isn't going to get better.
"I tried. For a long time, I tried. I waited. I waited for those people to be right. I waited for it to stop hurting, but it didn't. They all told me it would, and they all lied. Not that that would surprise you – you always had a very low opinion of humanity as a whole.
"And you know what? The lying was bad, yeah. But then, they decided as a whole that I wasn't allowed to grieve any more. That time had made it better, and so they shouldn't have to hear about how alone I felt, how I remember you everywhere and it hurts, and how in the places I don't remember you it still hurts. It wasn't like I loved you, after all."
A short, sharp huff here. It would have been a laugh, a year and a bit ago.
"In case you were wondering, you have the ability to induce sexual identity crisis from beyond the grave. That would make you proud of yourself, vain git that you are. Then you would have gone into that speech about being married to your work again.
"That speech is probably the only thing that kept me from driving myself mad with maybes and could-have-beens, so thank you for that."
"I like to pretend your wife killed you. I like to pretend it was your work that did you in. And it sort of was. It mostly was. But it was me a bit too, wasn't it? If anyone else did what I did, you would have run. Mind, no one else would have done what I did, but still. I saw your face though; I saw your pacing afterwards. You were absolutely frantic, weren't you? If it was anyone else, you wouldn't have cared. You would have been detached enough to be clever and calculating, and then you could have gotten everyone out.
"Anyway, Sally and I get coffee every other week to grieve over people the rest of the world has decided we aren't allowed to miss anymore. Her best friend in uni, Teresa…well, she killed herself. She was in an abusive relationship. That's why she hates you, by the way. You remind her of Teresa's boyfriend."
John takes a deep breath, pulling a folded and faded sheet of paper out of his jacket pocket.
"I never was one for poetry. But after Afghanistan, after you…after I realized I loved you and would never be able to do anything about it…I find it a lot more relatable. I started going through your anthologies-for someone who claims to be a sociopath, you make very insightful annotations regarding emotions. I found a poem that really seemed to articulate what Sally talked about…about what you're putting me through. You're going to hear it, whether you want to or not. Because I need to say this. I need to say it out loud instead of just inside my head, and maybe then…"
There is a rustling as he unfolds the paper. John Watson clears his throat, then begins reading in a steady voice.
"TIME does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide!
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim!
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!
Edna St. Vincent Millay"
There is complete silence in the graveyard as John shakes silently, gripped by the grief he isn't supposed to still be feeling. There is no memory of Sherlock here. This is all he has left of Sherlock, and there is nothing here. And John is angry. So angry.
"You bloody idiot! How could you do that? How could you call him? How could you go and see him on your own? How could you leave me behind?" John's voice brakes. "How could you leave me behind?"
John stares up at the moon, the only celestial body visible in the London sky on the cloudy April night.
"I don't know what to do without you. When I came back from Afghanistan, I thought I was done. I had nothing, no purpose. You gave me purpose. You made me feel alive again. I have nothing without you. Nothing. What am I supposed to do? What is my reason now that you're gone? What is my purpose after Moriarty…"
Silence again, this time surprised and contemplative. John Watson stands, places the poem on Sherlock Holmes' grave using the phone Mycroft foisted on him as a paperweight, and walks away.
He leaves the cane behind.
He takes a purpose with him.