Something More Tangible.
Summary: Sherlock died and left everything to John, including his skull. Not the one on the mantelpiece. The one in his head. GEN. One shot.
Disclaimer: not mine, folks.
Originally posted at LiveJournal: 5 January, 2011
When it came down to it, John had assumed he'd die first. He thought about it like the idea was a given. Sherlock was reckless but clever, so very clever in ways that kept on surprising John.
There was little that seemed impossible for Sherlock to handle. Even then, what seemed too big for Sherlock always turned out to be just fine in the end; the man always worked out something to shock all gathered and smile victoriously, high off success.
Not anymore though.
Looks like his luck ran out was not a phrase applicable to Sherlock. There was no luck to his deductions, merely intellect and observation. John could remember numerous times when Sherlock would emphatically repeat that.
The cane was back, his grip around the handle tight to keep his hand from shaking. He wasn't really sure these days whether the limp was psychosomatic or just from old age. Everything ached, in a slow burning way. His joints resisted movement, but John wanted to clear up 221B Baker Street before, well, before it was torn down.
A part of him thought, I should miss this place, and he would miss the place, but not as much as he originally thought he would. It was far from empty, papers and strange miscellaneous items cluttering the space, but without Sherlock's exuberant spirit, everything felt... hollow.
How many years had they been friends? How many years had they been fighting and running and solving crimes together? It was a long time, John's hair was grey and Sherlock's had been turning silver at the roots, but time in his memories blended together until it felt like no time had passed at all.
Clearing his suddenly tight throat, John moved slowly about the room, occasionally putting trinkets into boxes for moving. Unsolved case files were being sent back to Scotland Yard, some of them having Sherlock's jagged handwriting dotting the margins.
Papers upon papers documenting Sherlock's many eccentric experiments over the years would be sent to a list of specialists that Sherlock had written up. It seemed like those experiments weren't so idle after all. He wanted someone to do something with them if he couldn't—since he couldn't. There were no 'ifs' with Sherlock anymore.
Down, down, in the cold, cold ground.
Running and running 'til he falls, falls down.
Sighing heavily, John walked to the box Molly had brought over earlier. She mumbled something about how Sherlock wanted John to have it. Even after Molly had married and had kids, she still had a fond spot for Sherlock. It must have been hard for her to go through Sherlock's things, knowing he'd never see them again.
From the glance John had spared the box's contents on receiving it, they were more files and documents, but completely handwritten. Since he was trying to put some order to the documents littering the place, he opened the box again and pulled out a handful of papers.
For a moment, John was frozen, leaning heavily on his cane and his other hand half-raised with the notes. He couldn't believe his eyes.
There was a damned skull in the box.
John's eyes darted to the mantelpiece, checking and confirming that yes, Yorick was still there. Sherlock had eventually told John what he had named his skull and at the time it made John laugh in disbelief. You'd think that a man so brilliant could take the time to be a little more original.
So, Yorick was present and accounted for, which left the matter of whose skull was sitting innocently in the box on another stack of papers.
Picking it up, John could tell the skull belonged to a male, likely to be of European descent, probably dying in his... late fifties, early sixties? It was hard to be precise. Raising it above his head, he could see a reddish stain on the inside of the cranium, indicative that the cause of death was—
John nearly dropped the skull from shock, but instead he gingerly set it on the table. The gaping holes where eyes should be felt like they were tracking him, and he could imagine piercing gray eyes and no way would Sherlock do this.
Except he would; he would leave John his bloody skull without a word of warning and think it fine and dandy.
He was still holding the papers and they're being crushed in his grip. Loosening them, he wondered if they said anything helpful. After a few seconds of trying to find which pocket had his reading glasses, John brought the paper closer to his face, squinting, taking a few minutes to decipher the god-awful scrawl that was Sherlock's handwriting.
I am going to start this with—what did you call it?—some of my over-dramatic flair, as you so fondly dubbed my love of showmanship.
John, my dear friend, if you are reading this, then I must be dead. What a terribly hackneyed phrase, but no less true. Surely you've already read out my will if you've gotten this message.
Hopefully, Molly didn't look too upset when she gave this to you. I had to leave these instructions in her hands. There's no one else I quite trusted or who was competent enough—barring you, but even I can see getting you to cut my head up is a little cruel.
If people can carry the ashes of loved ones in their home, then I would assume a skull should be perfectly acceptable. Try not to put me too close to Yorick though.
You must be asking, "Why?" Well, I wanted to give you something more tangible to keep yourself company while you read my memoirs. Yes, I wrote some stories down myself. Some stories not covered in your blog. You deserve to know my life, even if you can't dissect it with your eyes.
Even as I write this, I know it will be hard for you, but please don't mourn me too much. Death is just another part of life, after all.
Call it another experiment to try out, if you will.
John was blinking back the tears and trying to ignore the way his throat felt all hot and closed up. A prickly burning feeling was building behind his eyes and he rubbed them with the back of his hand.
He re-read the letter and this time barked out a short laugh. The utter bastard. Even in death he could pull one up on him. Except this time, instead of amazing him, it just reminded John what he had lost.
Tiredly, John sank to his knees and just sat still on the floor, thinking of what had been and what will be; wondering whether Sherlock was finding anything in death and if there was anything for Sherlock to puzzle over in the first place.
A bloody skull, John thought with a shake of his head before slowly getting to his feet and putting it on the mantelpiece. Not too close to Yorick though.
A/N: In case you're unfamiliar with the greatness that is Shakespeare, Yorick is the guy whose skull Hamlet famously talks to in Hamlet.
Also, I adore the idea of John and Sherlock growing old together in bachelorhood.
Finally, I meant to write a short fill and it turned into 1000+ words. *Headdesk*.