Title: "Left in the Dark"
Pairing: Sherlock/John
TV Show: BBC Sherlock
Word Count: ~7,000
Rating: PG-13

A/N: I cannot write fluff, so I'm sticking to angst.

Sorry if I make you cry. I cried when I was writing it. How pathetic LOL


x x x x x x x x x x x x x

The lights went out. It wasn't a simple power outage, no; someone deliberately turned them off. The whole warehouse went dark, and suddenly the boxes looked like shadows on the brick walls. Even the slightest noises seemed human. Sherlock and John were stuck in the middle of the building, searching for some clues as to where their suspect was hiding. But everywhere they turned, another man would shoot at their bodies, causing them to dodge the falling boxes.

John was more skilled in the art. He had seen the battlefield and experienced Hell in pitch black. He could focus on the noises and know what direction the men were lying. Some were higher up than others, sitting on top of boxes and bars that held the lights up. Others were on the ground, scoping out shots in order to kill either man.

Sherlock, on the other hand, tried his best to stay calm. He was not one to panic under severe stress, because he had been in so many incidents like that, but he was not as skilled and prepared as John. He would look back, notice the movements John made in the dark, and he would try to mirror them. But they were stuck in one place, and they were doing no good. "John-"

"Sherlock, just stay with me, okay?" John harshly whispered. Sherlock could hear the panic in his voice, yet he had a calm demeanor. Sherlock hesitantly reached out for John's hand, but John met him halfway. "I don't want you dying on me," Sherlock felt John squeeze his hand.

"I will not die so easily." John did not smile; he kept the same frown on his face.

John closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. "Just, stay with me." Sherlock squeezed back.

"Okay." Suddenly, John was leading him away from the spot, the safest place to be. John didn't know where he was going, but he just wanted to get away from it. They needed to go. One step after the other, they both dodged boxes, holding onto the other for dear life. They didn't want to separate, that would be the worst. They needed to stay together, needed to get out alive. Bullets whizzed by, ricocheting off the metals at times, others embedding themselves in the boxes. John went around corners and stayed for a brief moment and looked over at Sherlock, to make sure he was not injured.

He was fine. Then they would be off again, Sherlock trailing John. Yes, John had a gun, but it would do no good. He didn't have the amount of ammo the others had. So they could only run, there was no other choice.

At one point, John stopped to catch his breath. They were behind crates now; they were getting close to the exit. "Where are you, Sherlock Holmes!" John looked over to his partner and held on tight again. He was not letting him go. He was not letting the other man have him. He'd be damned. "Oh!" John heard a small crack; he put his hand behind his back and reached for his gun. "There you are!" A man jumped from around the corner and aimed; John turned the other way. They were surrounded. Sherlock faced the one that aimed at him, John faced the one just turning the corner.

Sherlock stood in front of John, their backs to each other. They still did not let go of their hands. "Now, now, I'm not here for your little doctor, Sherlock Holmes. I'm here for you. You can come with these men alive, or I'll carry you out in a body bag, it's your choice." Sherlock pushed against John's back and squeezed. John was afraid it would come down to it, but he knew it would come anyway. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.

"Funny thing is, we're here for you as well." Sherlock replied; John fired. Sherlock would have to get out of the way of the other shooter, but he couldn't let go of John. What if something happened while he ran away? What if John was shot? Sure, he thought the work was more important, but this man was risking everything and more to save him. He couldn't just leave him. John's man crumpled down to the ground while the other shooter took aim. In a millisecond, he shot, and Sherlock was hit in the shoulder.

John felt the blood spray against his face and the bullet scratch his cheek. "Sherlock!" He screamed. When he turned around, he saw Sherlock moving to the ground while holding his wound and his hand. As he was pulling John down, the shooter moved his own gun down with them. Both men shot; John was shot in the lower abdomen, on the left side, while the shooter was shot in the neck.

The shooter instantly fell to the ground. John dropped his gun and fell with Sherlock. Sherlock could hear him quickly panting, one after another. There would be times when John would stop breathing and tried to keep up with the pain, but he could continue to breathe. Both men were squeezing the others hand as much as possible, trying to get through all the pain. John was the worst, he was digging his nails into Sherlock's hand.

"Take care, Sherlock Holmes!" The lights went back on; everything was back the way it was. John moved alongside Sherlock and bent down over him, going over the wound. Sherlock could see John's face. He was trying so hard to mask the pain, but it wasn't working at times, as his lips were tightly wound together and his eyelids would close every now and then. He would still be holding onto Sherlock's hand for help, so it was obvious that he was hurt.

"John," he whispered. John wasn't responding, he was just checking over the wound.

"It…it looks like…like it was a clean…clean shot." His breathing was getting sporadic. Sherlock dug into his coat pocket and felt for his phone. When he pulled the phone out, he texted both Lestrade and Mycroft: one for help and one for family.

Send help. Warehouse. Near Cardiff. Shots fired. Injured. – SH

Sherlock's arm limped and crashed against the ground. "John," he whispered. He tried getting up, but John would have none of that. He was applying pressure to the wound. Sherlock just eyed John's wound and watched the red color grow after each second. He was losing blood, fast.

"Just hang…hang on…" John whispered. His whole body was trembling.

"John, stop, I'm fine! Tend to your own wounds," Sherlock replied. He could see the blood trickling down his legs, creating a massive puddle underneath them. When John coughed, a little bit of blood escaped.

"N…no," he replied. "I…okay. We'll…go…now…" he wasn't making any sense. Sherlock pushed against John's pressure and sat upright; it was a bad idea, seeing how he suddenly was dizzy. He must be losing a lot of blood, too. But he stared at John, sitting in the same position, trying to help him. Sherlock pushed him down onto his back and laid him there; John was still shaking.

"John, hold on," Sherlock pressed down on the wound with both their hands, not wanting to let go of John. He couldn't. There was no way he could. John let out a long sigh as he felt pain shoot up and down his body. Sherlock felt more blood pile out of John's wound and seep down to the ground, adding more to the puddle. His breathing was getting heavier, his blood was not stopping. He needed help.

John was rapidly blinking. Shaking and holding onto Sherlock, he kept trying to close his eyes, but whenever Sherlock saw this, he pushed down on the wound more. "John, no, you have to stay with me," John would open his eyes again and look over at Sherlock, understanding everything.

"I…am here…" Sherlock nodded.

"Yes, that's a fair answer," he replied. Everything was spinning around them, but he tried to shake it off. "Help should be here, sometime. Stop talking, it makes it worse," John swallowed (it tasted like blood) and started to close his eyes.

"Thank…you…" he whispered. Sherlock pressed down some more.

"John," he said. He wasn't opening his eyes. "John, don't," there was no response. His breathing was getting heavier and heavier. "John, open your eyes," Sherlock started to shake his arm with his free hand, do something to get him to open them. But nothing was working; his eyes were closed. Sherlock pressed down some more and kept looking to John's face. "You can't, you have to stay with me," he whispered. Everything was really spinning now, and it was only a matter of time before he'd join John. He saw blue lights out of the windows, followed by doors slamming. But he didn't care. He just cared about John. "John…" he whispered, before releasing some of the pressure.

He could still hear his breathing, still knowing he was alive. But he was barely still on Earth, in some form. Sherlock felt the blood pulsate out of John's body once he started moving away. It wasn't his doing; it was his damn body. He heard some shouting in the distance, far distance, shouting orders to people. It must've been Lestrade. Sherlock fell to the ground next to John and rolled on his back; he had to let go of John. He didn't want to let go, he wanted to stay awake. But he couldn't. The lights were getting darker, and finally, a power outage.

He blacked out.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Sherlock heard the same tune echo in his ears over and over again. It was going the same rate, keeping pace with his own heart. There were no sudden noises around, just quiet little whispers from outside. He could hear someone inside, though, rustling papers and flipping through something. Someone was clicking against something, too. Sherlock was kept in the dark, and he was somewhere else. He was right; when he opened his eyes, the light strained his vision and he was staring at a white ceiling.

"Ah, you're finally awake." He heard a familiar voice next to him. He turned his head and saw his brother sitting in the chair, a notebook in his hand. The woman next to him was staring at her Blackberry. "I was wondering when you'd open those eyes."

Sherlock spoke, but his voice was very raspy. "What are you doing here, Mycroft?" Mycroft crossed one leg over the other and stared down at his brother. He had a gratuitous smile on his face.

"I'm here for you, brother," he whispered. "Plus I wanted to be here when you woke up."

"You are not needed. I am obviously fine."

"You were not so fine during surgery, or after surgery." Sherlock shifted in his bed; he hated hospital beds. They were very uncomfortable. "I saw to it that I stayed in your care for at least a week, to be sure that you would be alright. Plus, we did not know we would catch the criminal that shot you so quickly," Sherlock looked at his brother, listening to the monotonous tones the machines gave next to him.

"A week, surely the government would be in shackles by the end of that," he said. Mycroft gave a little laugh.

"It seems a week was not needed," he opened his little notebook and wrote a few things down. Sherlock eyed his handwriting; after all those years, he still could not read what Mycroft wrote. "And it seems I am not needed here anymore. You seem fine now," he continued. Mycroft snapped the book shut and rose from the chair. His assistant did the same almost immediately. "I'll see that a doctor comes in here when I leave."

Sherlock blinked and looked around the room. He was alone. Why was he alone? Where was John? Was he in another section? What was going on with him? Where was he? When Mycroft reached the doorway, Sherlock stopped him with his voice. "What about John?"

Mycroft turned. "You mean Dr. Watson?"

Sherlock's lip twitched. "Of course I mean John Watson!" Sherlock's shoulder tensed up and he closed his eyes. The pain was exhausting, so he tried to relax. The least his brother could do was cooperate.

Mycroft looked at his assistant; she immediately left. Mycroft shut the door and stood in the room. Sherlock opened his eyes and stared. "Well? Is he in the ICU?"

Mycroft stared back. "Tell me, could you tell me what day it is?" Sherlock looked around the room for a calendar. He remembered the day was November 17th, when they were shot in the warehouse.

"It must be the 18th, Mycroft. It's only been a day, after all." Mycroft took out his notebook and began to write down something. Sherlock was getting annoyed. "Stop writing down nonsense, you haven't a reason to write at all." John must've had the blog of a lifetime now, since he was shot. He was probably writing it at the moment, just sitting in an ICU bed—

"It's the 22nd, Sherlock."

No, that was impossible. Mycroft started to walk over to Sherlock's bed, as Sherlock began to think everything through. "Mycroft, we were at the warehouse on the 17th, thereby the next day being the 18th. There is no possible explanation for it being the 22nd."

Mycroft took out his phone and illuminated the screen. He handed it to Sherlock and explained. "You were in a medically induced coma. The doctors had a difficult time during surgery, and you continued to digress after surgery. There was no other choice. We had to wait and see on your condition." Sherlock stared at the phone. There, in tiny letters and numbers, read the date: "November 22nd, 2011". But…how? Why were there complications? He was shot in the shoulder, there couldn't have been that many. "You had lost a lot of blood at the scene, and your body was already weakened, judging by how you never eat. During the surgery, another vein burst, which then had massive blood loss added to the blood already lost. You were dead for almost three minutes before they could bring you back."

So he was in a coma. And he lost a few days. But now he was better. "What about John?"

Mycroft took the phone away. "John's surgery didn't last. He had lost more blood than you, had more organs at risk because of the blood, and actually nicked his stomach lining. When the surgeons cut him open, blood poured out of him." Sherlock's eyes were flittering left and right, looking up at the ceiling. All that blood that was in the warehouse—there was more? Sherlock swallowed.

"How much blood did he lose?"

"A lot," Mycroft replied. He was afraid to give an estimate. "They did all they could, Sherlock."

"So where is he?" He quickly replied. He was still looking at the lights, still looking for some answer up in the ceiling. Something, anything.

Mycroft frowned. "He's gone, Sherlock." Sherlock's hand twitched.

"Where, though?" Sherlock looked over at his brother and frowned, looking for the answer. He had to be right, somewhere. John was in the hospital somewhere, in some room, waiting for Sherlock to wake up. He'd be writing out his blog right now.

Mycroft reached down and grabbed Sherlock's hand; Sherlock felt John. "Sherlock," he whispered. Sherlock rolled his head away and looked back up at the ceiling. He knew that voice, that tone. It was the tone his mother used when their father died. "Sherlock, he's gone. He's not coming back. He can't come back." Sherlock closed his eyes. "he didn't survive."

That couldn't be possible. He was alive when Sherlock blacked out. What happened? How did he die? Who was next to him? Where was Sherlock when he was dying? Why did he die? All these questions, they fluttered into his head and it started to hurt. Everything started to hurt again. But he realized he was wrong. He had been wrong since he woke up. But why? Why was he wrong? Why did he have to be wrong? Why couldn't he be right?

But the truth was there, right in front of him. All he had to do was think: Mycroft was right. He was wrong.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

He didn't go to the funeral. It was the next day. Mycroft wanted him to go.

"I'm not healthy enough," was his excuse. Mycroft did not buy it, but he understood. Sherlock tried not to think about it, really, but what else could he think about in a hospital?

Everyone visited him after the funeral. First was Molly, which she tried to talk to him about the bodies at the morgue and what he wanted done with them. "Burn them, I don't care," and he didn't. He had no reason to look at the bodies. He would try to live on after John, but without someone there to confirm his assessment, without someone there, he couldn't. She quickly left after that. Mrs. Hudson was next, but she was crying the whole time. He didn't pay attention.

Lestrade and Mycroft came in together. Lestrade was there to get insight on cases; Mycroft was there for support. Sherlock didn't say a word to either of them, so they both left. He could hear their conversation outside of the door—

"He doesn't look good, Mycroft."

"He will come around. He will forget John and start over again. It's what he does."

"I don't know, he looks like a mess."

"Sociopaths never are a mess. He's organized. He knows."

Sherlock just stared at the ceiling. He felt nothing.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

A week later, he was out of the hospital. Mycroft drove him back to his flat. Sherlock didn't say a word during the ride, and when they arrived, he said nothing then. "Sherlock, please do take care of yourself. I do not want to get a housekeeper for you," Mycroft whispered. Sherlock opened the door, then quickly shut it. He did not need to listen to Mycroft's empty words. He didn't care about him—he didn't care about John when he was alive. Why should he care now?

He looked down at his arm. It was in a sling. The doctors were afraid of the work Sherlock did, that he would hurt himself it swung wildly. He imagined John would say the same thing. "Sherlock, you need to take better care of yourself. Stop being reckless." But he can't. It was his life, wasn't it? To run around, catch the bad guys, make sure crime would at least decrease overnight? Wasn't that what he was supposed to do? "Don't make people into heroes, John…"

He opened the door to the building. He wanted to turn around and see John there, to see him right behind him. He would have either a smile on his face, after they caught the criminal, or a disappointed look when he was tired. He was always tired. Maybe that's why he died, he thought. Sherlock thought nothing after that and took a few steps in. The mirror next to the staircase—he glanced in it. He saw how tired he looked. His eyes were a little red (sociopaths cared, he thought; they were not heartless). His hair was a mess. His lips were dry. He closed his eyes and remembered everything from weeks ago, all the touches and voices and silences that were there. He opened his eyes and saw his reflection.

Mrs. Hudson came from her flat when he reached the stairs. "Sherlock, dear, would you like a cup of tea?" He said nothing. He didn't want to talk. He just wanted to be back in his flat—did he want to be back home? Maybe he could talk to his skull (unlikely, he thought). He just walked up the stairs and ignored the question from his landlady, trying to piece everything together. He didn't hear the familiar footsteps following him; he didn't hear the little utterances of groceries from his friend; he didn't hear anything. It was silent.

He reached the door. Sherlock didn't know whether to open it or stand there. He was afraid—it was the first time in a long time when he felt fear. The first time he felt fear was when he was saving John—trying to save John. He had to remember that he was gone. Was he, though? John was still very much alive in Sherlock's memory, still there in "spirit", as some would say. But Sherlock couldn't yet believe he was dead, in the ground, buried somewhere.

He rested his head against the door. There were no noises coming from the room. He closed his eyes and tried to picture everything as it was. There was John's jacket, lying on the back of the chair, along with piles of papers stacked to the ceiling surrounding the furniture. Sherlock could see his skull still resting on top of the fireplace. The bricks were still intact, as well as their wallpaper. Food crowded around Sherlock's lab in the kitchen. The bedroom…Sherlock couldn't see it. He had forgotten what it looked like, what inhabited it anyway. Sherlock opened his eyes. He knew that all that was inside was empty air circulating through all of their stuff, all of their belongings still intermingling with one another. But he wanted life to still co-exist with silence, with stillness of air.

He reached for the doorknob but flinched once he made contact.

It was cold. It had been the first time it was cold.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

For weeks, he tried sleeping. Lestrade would take him out on cases (which he would solve in almost 24 hours) and he would keep his mind busy. But when night fell, he would enter the forgotten bedroom and lay down on the soft mattress. He forgot what side he liked, but he was sure it was the left. John liked being away from the door.

But Sherlock could never sleep at night, or at least, not get a decent amount of sleep. He could survive on two hours, but he wanted to dream. He wanted to go back to when John was alive, when John could still talk him through cases and accompany him wherever he went. With Lestrade, it was dull; with John, it was lively.

Every night, he would lay in the bed for hours. It was empty. All of his clothing was on that side; Sherlock made sure never to touch it. He would stare at it before going to sleep, wondering what John would sleep in. And when Sherlock made it to the bed, he would stare at John's side of the bed, as if he were there. He tried looking away and just staring at the wall, but he'd eventually stare at the door and wait for John to walk through, saying, "Oh, you're actually in bed tonight." So every night, he would be looking at the vacancy that remained on the bed, and when he closed his eyes, John was there, sleeping with a light snore.

Sherlock barely slept. When he did sleep, he would be at old cases with John. He knew it was a dream, and would always beg John to come back. "I'm right here, Sherlock. Just wake up," and Sherlock cursed his eyes for opening each time. Most of the time, his hand would be where John would be, if he were there. Most of the time, John had nightmares, and if some part of Sherlock was touching him, then he would sleep in peace. He usually chose having his hand on top of his chest.

But the air just circulated around his hand, cursing him every night. John would not come back home; he would not sleep on the bed ever again. He had his own bed now, six feet under, underneath some small placard that probably had some generic saying on a piece of concrete. Sherlock closed his eyes; he didn't dream.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Sherlock forbade any visitors. Mrs. Hudson would be in every now and again, and Lestrade was only there because of cases, but otherwise, he was fine being alone. He had been alone before John, he would be fine being alone after John. Or would he? He couldn't tell; the things that laid around the flat had no sentimental value to him, yet was the world to him at the same time. Could he possibly get rid of his items?

Sherlock liked being alone; he hated being lonely.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Sherlock stared at the computer screen. John's computer was the first item Sherlock used that John owned. The first file he opened was John's blog. There were unpublished pieces that he was clearly working on, and the old blogs were there as well.

The second file he opened was a personal diary. He could hear John's voice reading it all to him, not skipping a beat. It wasn't much, just stuff about cases and about living with Sherlock ("I find it a bit hard to believe that this man has never washed a dish in his life"). There were intimate moments, one that Sherlock couldn't properly describe himself, and worrying moments that Sherlock never knew about ("I have to protect him. He's in danger, that's all there is to it.") One journal stuck out to Sherlock the most, and it was the night before he was killed:

"I don't know what's making me write this, but I suppose I should write it, in case something happens. I worry about Sherlock, all the time. There's no doubt in my mind that I have to help him. And I know I should keep him safe, and I will. I don't know what motivates me to keep him safe, but everywhere we go. When we're in public places, I have a feeling to keep him near. When we're alone in the flat, I want to keep him in the bedroom, safe and sound. It's just part of nature, I suppose.

Wherever we go, whatever we end up getting ourselves into, there will be no part of me that wants him dead. He will be alive for years, I just know it. As long as I can help him be alive, as long as I know he's still breathing and my life is still occupied with Sherlock, then I will be okay. He might not be able to say the same about me—he'd probably like it if I moved out—but there is no doubt in my mind that I will stay by his side, just to make sure he is okay. Because no one else cares about him; I need to care about him.

With that said, if I die, and I'm sure he'd read through my journal, Sherlock, do not blame the death on you. It was their fault, obviously, because they shot me, or stabbed me, or did something to kill me. It was their actions that caused my death, not you. You were my greatest asset to protect; I'd never let anyone harm you; you-"

Sherlock slammed the computer shut and rested his head on top of it. He didn't know what heartbreak meant, but his chest hurt.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Eventually, everyone stopped coming around. Mycroft was the only one that contacted him, but only because he wanted to know if he was still alive. He didn't care about anything else.

Sherlock told Lestrade that he was done working. He was "growing bored" with the cases.

Sherlock told Mrs. Hudson he didn't need help with anything.

And at that moment, he sent a text to Mycroft to stop trying to act concerned.

He just wanted to be left alone.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

For the first time in ages, he went outside. He was wearing a suit—not that he ever wore a suit, but it had been the first time in months since changing out of his robe. It was all black, except the shirt underneath his jacket (that was white). But he knew where he was going. He had known all along. And the flat was somewhere he didn't want to be. Some other place was beckoning him, calling him over.

Mrs. Hudson did not ask where he was going. She stood at the bottom of the stairs, watching him walk out of the building. He was like a ghost now, wandering the halls, looking for the person that left him behind. And when he closed the door, she didn't join him outside. She didn't help him get a ride; she just let him go.

The ride there was excruciating. He wanted to be there, right there, right where he belonged. Someone left a map on the door (most likely Mycroft) of the place, because it was a vast place, a far off place. When he got there, he paid the driver whatever was in his pocket (which was more than enough to cover the ride, but he wouldn't need such things anymore). He stood at the gate and took in a deep breath.

He had been there before. Early on in his childhood, his father came to this place. Everyone was so very distraught, so very emotional, but he just looked on with disinterest and listened to someone drone on. He hated the experience; he hadn't been back since. Sherlock looked down at the items in his hands. He remembered his father had these things with him, when he last visited. It seemed everyone carried them. But they're such a burden to have. Sherlock glanced over the map and carefully looked out at the streets surrounding the place.

It wasn't magical. It wasn't beautiful. It was cold, deathly cold. He could see haunted memories strolling through the trees, casually sitting by the empty fires that one looks for. There were those that were alive, too, sitting in the short grass, hunched over, peering at something that was not there, that could never be there. Their hands covered their faces, their voices were nothing but quick breaths of air, their bodies shutting down. Sherlock walked on.

Somewhere in the trees was where he belonged. He would find it, eventually, but not quick enough. He would look toward the crowds of people, one in particular. They carried a load on their shoulders, stomping in rhythm to one place they desired. The women behind the parade wept; the men in the parade held honor for them. They were horrible cries, but nonetheless cries of life.

Through the short walk, he thought. That's all he did in life anyway, think. He thought about all the memories in his past, his life after the death of his friend, his partner. He thought about the moments in the flat, those that he could not forget. After all they had been through, they were separated, because someone was greedy. If he had one wish, would it be to bring his partner back? Would he bring back his doctor? He looked down at the items in his hands and frowned. Of course he would. If he could not be here ever again, if he could leave this place and be wherever John was, he would be okay.

Suddenly, he was there. He arrived at his destination, before the sun hit its highest peak in the day. He looked around, noticing the ghosts that haunted the place were the only things keeping him company. Those that were alive were nowhere to be found. He looked down at the ground and stared deep at the person that spoke to him, that made him more alive when he was alive. He knelt down; he still could not believe it, but it had been months since he was gone.

His fingers brushed over the hushed words. His name was there, therefore his body was there, too. His soul, or spirit, or whatever was left of him, was next to Sherlock again. How he knew this, one cannot tell, but there was a strange presence surrounding Sherlock, someone that was sitting next to him the whole time. Sherlock looked at the dead leaves that laid on the ground, the dead petals that would occasionally move when the wind blew. He replaced them with beautiful ones, ones that John would've liked.

He stared at the hushed words again and placed whatever else was in his hands down on the grass. He never actually went to see his father in this place; he was somewhere in the mess. No, he cared more about John than he did his father, both in life and in death. Sherlock felt his chest hurting, his heart breaking—Mrs. Hudson confirmed that it was heartbreak that Sherlock was feeling.

Then, he spoke, as if John were still there, as if his grave would speak back. "Why did you die, John?" And when he closed his eyes, he envisioned John sitting right next to him, under the oak tree, looking down at his own grave. The whole place, it shone. There was sunshine, perfectly green grass that was trimmed, a heavenly blue sky. Everything was so bright, so exhilarating. And when Sherlock looked at John, it was like he was looking at an angel. He looked the same, he sounded the same…he didn't change. Sherlock didn't want to open his eyes.

"I suppose to protect you, but it wasn't my choice, Sherlock," he heard John say. Maybe he was talking to himself, maybe he was actually talking to John, or maybe he was going stark raving mad. But Sherlock already knew he was crazy—he'd known his whole life.

"No, it wasn't. It was your body that could not handle the amount of blood loss," Sherlock replied. John looked over at Sherlock and frowned.

"I'm sorry," he said.

Sherlock replied: "Don't be. We all have our flaws." John looked back down at the grave and stared long at the gravestone.

"It was a good service, when they buried me. But you weren't there, Sherlock. Why?"

Sherlock had an answer. He didn't want to see John being buried. He didn't want to confirm that his one friend, his one colleague, his one partner was actually and truly gone. He still wanted to run around and catch the criminals with his doctor, to save lives with his doctor, to be with his doctor. But he didn't tell John that; John already knew what his feelings were. "Funerals are dreadful."

John nodded. "That's true, isn't it?" Sherlock looked over at John's body. Rather, his ghost or spirit. He looked real; he looked alive. But he knew if he tried to touch him, his hand would slip through. He just wanted to feel him again, to feel John alive. John looked over at him and had a small smile on his face. When John reached out to him, Sherlock felt his hand rest on his shoulder. It was very cold, but how he wished to feel this his entire time alone.

John knew Sherlock could not cry, but Sherlock knew he wanted to cry. Sherlock reached up to John's hand and felt his fingertips, felt the soft, calloused hands he remembered from months ago. He felt John alive again, feeling the ghostly pulse beat against his own heart, against everything that defied odds. Sherlock turned his head, but could not look at John in his eyes; he was afraid he would see someone different. "John…"

John shook his head. "I know, Sherlock. I do, too."

For time, it did not exist. Sherlock sat under that tree for maybe hours, with his eyes closed, listening to nothing but the soothing silence he was used to when John was there. Sherlock couldn't open his eyes, not yet. Something about holding onto John for however long it was was all he needed. But, then, John spoke.

"I know what you want to do. Is there no other way?"

Sherlock knew what he was talking about. "John, you and I both know what I am capable of. I can't do it anymore." Sherlock felt John grip his shoulder more, and Sherlock could only hold onto his hand more.

"I can't stop you, Sherlock. But, what did I die for then?"

Sherlock looked at John. He almost sounded angry, but his face was peaceful, almost like he was looking for an answer. Sherlock knew what to say. "You kept your greatest asset alive, for however long he would want to stay alive."

John blinked; Sherlock saw the tears in his eyes. "Yes," he whispered, looking down at the ground. Sherlock could feel John shaking. "then I guess that's all I could ask for, isn't it?"

Sherlock nodded. "It's all anyone could ask for."

John didn't stop shaking. "Then," he whispered, "I suppose it's time," he closed his eyes. Sherlock knew John was against the idea. "I can't stop you. If this is what you want, if I'm what you're after, then don't make me stop you. Because, Sherlock…" John's voice started to break.

Sherlock felt his heart break, but it was okay. He understood what John was going to say. "It's all for the best." John looked over at Sherlock and made eye contact. They didn't want to break away, but they knew each other; they knew it was okay. They were going to be okay. John did a small nod and let his hand move away from Sherlock.

"Then I'll be right here, waiting. Open your eyes," and Sherlock did what he was told. Sherlock could see the world was a little less brighter, a little more boring. Sherlock looked where John was moments ago, but it was empty air. He knew that if he closed his eyes, he'd be there. So Sherlock wanted to close his eyes, oh how he wished to close his eyes again.

Sherlock turned away from John (John watched it all, Sherlock knew this) and looked down at the ground. He saw what he brought in, something other than the flowers. It was the other possession Sherlock wanted to have, to hold, to cherish, to use. Others wanted him to get rid of it, but he knew, at some point, it would be used for himself and only for himself. He wrapped his fingers around it and held it in his hand. The metal was cold at first, but how it felt right to hold it at that moment. It was lightless.

For a moment, Sherlock looked down at it in his lap, wondering if John really did want him to go through with it all. But John would stand by his consulting detective, whether it was dangerous or not. He knew he was right; Sherlock was always right.

Sherlock felt something in his eyes, something he never felt before—they reflected John's eyes moments before. "John," he whispered. John would not respond, not in that world. And it scared him. Sherlock lifted the metal higher up until it reached his head. "John, my head hurts so much," he gently closed his eyes and saw John sitting next to him again, still holding onto his hand.

"Sherlock, you can't turn back after this. Are you sure?" Sherlock opened his eyes and nodded.

"I'm quite sure, John. I haven't been this sure in a very long time."

The metal cracked.

He closed his eyes.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Mycroft closed his eyes. He followed his brother, because he knew all along that Sherlock was never going to be saved. And Mycroft didn't want to see what would happen next. He didn't even want to hear it.

He turned away from the site and took out his phone. Mycroft heard the distant dial tone ringing, then someone picking up. "Detective Inspector Lestrade," a familiar voice called out.

Mycroft closed his eyes again, feeling a few tears falling. He hadn't cried since his father died. Lestrade leaned back in his chair, with the phone against his ear. He looked out to his office and called out again. "Hello?" Mycroft opened his mouth.

"Greg," he whispered. Lestrade heard his first name being said; he closed his eyes. Mycroft let out a small sob before Lestrade understood it completely.

"I'll be over there soon, Mycroft."

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

It wasn't soon enough, but he made it. He was there after Sherlock was put away in a body bag, being rolled away from a familiar grave. Mycroft was standing next to the site when Lestrade made it there.

"Was it for the best, Greg?" Lestrade rested a hand on Mycroft's shoulder.

"Who's to say? It seems Sherlock thought it was," Mycroft knelt down and brushed over the gravestone now covered in spots of blood. Lestrade knelt with him. "Maybe now he can rest without thinking too much about it."

Mycroft nodded. Lestrade sat there with him, and he knew Mycroft needed a moment with himself. Mycroft needed the company, though. "There's no need to be afraid anymore," he whispered. "you're not alone. Sleep peacefully tonight, brother."

Neither one could see the two standing behind them, the two holding each other without ever wanting to let go, staring at the grave. One squeezed the other's hand when Mycroft said that; the other squeezed back.

"Don't leave me again," a deep voice cried.

"As long as time gives us, you can rest assured," the other voice replied.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

A week later, a new gravestone would appear, one that replaced the old, with flowers to accompany it.

"Together in death they live."