AN/ I realise that a Hiatus fic isn't the most original of premises, but hey, I wanted to add my own slant on it. Abandon hope all ye who enter, for here be angst =] Originally penned as a oneshot, this thing grew in the telling into something a bit too long and cumbersome, so has been split into chapters.
Summary: Sherlock Holmes vanishes at Reichenbach Falls, presumed dead. John spends the next three years trying to move on. J/S
The thrown up spray from the Falls splatters along the exposed skin of his hands peeking out from upturned jacket cuffs, dots darker patches of damp along the lower leg of his trousers. His limbs are frozen, a culmination of icy water stiffening the material of his clothing, and a more internal iciness, dragging sharp scratching nails down his spine, a painful parody of something affectionate. The sun is at its afternoon zenith, high above and aloof, providing no warmth despite the summer weather, and the cool bland sky is devoid of clouds all the way to the horizon.
To John, it feels like it should be pitch black midnight, witching hour, the end of the day, end of everything; for no birds chirp and moan out their dreary tunes, there is no rustle of leaves, no voices – not even the one John wants to hear – nothing at all, a void where there is no sound except for the incessant roaring of the waterfall.
He leans out over the precipice as far as he can, and he isn't quite sure what exactly he is hoping to catch sight of amongst the waves crushing against harsh jutting rocks and the foaming white where the ridges of water snap and break. He only knows that he searches desperately for it – a flash of black coat, blue cotton scarf, just something – with frantic pacing eyes, and what he is hoping to see does not do him the honour of appearing.
"Sherlock!" he bellows, calling to the man – surely he is hiding, surely Sherlock wouldn't leave him, not in this way, not with no goodbye – and as time stretches brutally, boisterous and flaunting itself, knowing that the longer this goes on, the less chance there is of Sherlock turning up, alive or not at all, John continues to shout the man's name out, like the lamenting cry of a lone bird, his voice cracking, rubbing his throat raw.
John stays there for a long time. Kneeling over the side, even venturing to try and clamber down the protrusive slope down, like teeth, like the rocks are molars and incisors, biting into his hands. He wants to be able to climb down, because it's something to do, because it distracts his mind, the jangling, hollering whispers that say you go down there and you'll only find bodies, and John doesn't credit the thought, even though he knows it's right this time. He wonders whether his own body is down there too, whether he's tumbled down already, and that this is merely his presence prolonging his consciousness. He imagines his limbs shattered and askew, twisted at right angles, a mouth filled with blood that in death warps into a smile, his glass, fragile heart in pieces so small that glue would be superfluous.
He wonders if that's what Sherlock looks like down there, and bile rises in his throat and coaxes another desperate shout out of him.
The projection of the rock is too far out for him to get a foothold on the indents of stone beneath it, and with a sickening lurch he nearly loses his own grip on the slick surface, almost descends down, grasping helplessly at nothing as he follows down his partner and their arch-nemesis. He thinks their, because Moriarty became the goal they both strove to obtain, not just Sherlock; and although the detective chased shadows from Budapest to Sierra Leone because this was a game, the game, John didn't trust Sherlock to protect his own well-being over the promise of winning, so chased after him with a gun tucked into the back of his jeans with a bullet he had every intention of driving into Moriarty's brain. He had killed for Sherlock once before, would do so again.
Although when the chance finally came, John got there too late and both men were already gone.
Finally, reality seeps in, an evanescent fog, the dreamlike trance that John can wrap himself in pulling away, fading and leaving him alone. There is something in his chest, but he doesn't know what it means, what purpose it serves anymore. A deluge of rain is starting up that is no different from the spray, and it's anarchic and soon soaks everything; the sparse grass turned limp, the rocks no longer even majestic in their proud indifference.
John drags himself away from the scene. Slowly, fumbling steps taken with a different version of his own body, with the weight of every second behind him, he makes his way back down the trail.
"Sherlock." he murmurs, and he ruins the fallacy he had constructed by saying out loud. God, this was real, wasn't it? Yet even then, John's steps don't falter, his hand is ominously steady. He does not hear his own words over the cursing roar of the water, and he thinks there should be some logic to this, that this should follow a pattern pre-set and simple to follow. He should break down, cry, scream, curse God or Moriarty or even Sherlock – especially Sherlock – for being so fucking stupid, wants to swallow back down his heart because it's dying in his throat along with any words he has claim to. But he doesn't do any of those things.
He stops dead, just for a second. He doesn't look back, for there is nothing to see but the water and the rocks, but he closes his eyes. No tears fall, but he listens to the noise of the waterfall again. It is not beautiful, but nothing is anymore, and he imagines in that brief moment a future he could have had, tortures himself with it, while something unsettling starts at the centre of him and pervades out. Invasion, but then John doesn't fight it. His entire body is freezing, turning to stone, and he doesn't do anything but wait for the process to finish, breathing softly like he's almost apologising for doing so.
He should feel something. Something inside of him, like burning, a shrieking charring as the flesh inside him coils and shrivels away to a husk. There is merely an apathy instead, an absent sensation, like the empty barrel of a gun, an empty promise on his ring finger that fulfilled itself well – Till death do us part, wasn't it? It's funny now, but at the same time it's not, it's definitely not – and instead of a flesh and blood man, John is formed of rock, moulded from the clay of the earth, and inside him a waterfall churns out a eulogy.
He limps down the path he came up. He has no cane to support him, so stumbles often, and the roar of water in his head finds all the right places to tear him apart.