First Sherlock fic! Posted originally as a fill for this prompt over at the kink meme:

"John commits suicide. And in a sort of 'It's a Wonderful Life' twist, or as punishment, or unfinished business or whatever...he has to stick around as a ghost. And watch Sherlock fall apart. Watch him grieve, alone, watch him push away all future potential friends. Unable to help or comfort or touch, unable to remind him he's brilliant when the world calls him a freak, to stop his stupider impulses or stop him from self destructing. Unable to protect."

Hope you enjoy, and comments/criticism are always appreciated.

-E


People always said you saw a bright white light before you died. John closes his eyes when he jumps and doesn't see much of anything. When he cracks his eyes open, though; that's when the light hits him square in the face.

"Bugger," he groans over the sound of his pulse in his ears. It hurts to speak, so he doesn't do it again. In fact, everything hurts. His head is throbbing, his back aches, even his toes seem to be going numb. He's cold and wet and hurting.

This is wrong. Everything was supposed to stop hurting.

His eyes clench shut once more, this time against the rising whirlwind of images - staring into the glare of the phone in his hand, the operator's muffled condolences on the passing of his sister. Trembling fingers reaching for the pink slip from under Sarah's apologetic gaze. The usual clutter of the flat accentuated by the growing stacks of glassy beer bottles in the corner. The argument, and then the stark, red, hand-shaped mark blooming on Sherlock's shocked face… his wide eyes…

Then running. Snow. Bright lights swirling along in the current of the Thames. Hesitation, a leap, and then John swirling along in the current in the of the Thames.

The rush of water still echoes in his head, but slowly, everything drains down to a single voice.

"John. John. John!"

His eyes flutter open again. He focuses on the familiar face above him. "Harry?" he croaks.

His sister is indeed sitting next to his bed on a white chair that definitely belongs to the absence of color scheme in the foreign room. His dead sister. Dead of alcohol poisoning sister. She, however, is full of color and life. She doesn't look like she did in the coffin - there's color in her cheeks, her strawberry blonde hair is freshly curled, and her floral trench coat is pressed and crisp. She looks… alive.

She smirks. "You look bloody awful," she says by way of greeting.

"Well, feel that way, too," he huffs, a smile growing on his face before reality sinks in and pushes it off. He scrambles to sit up, immediately regretting it when his temples twinge reproachfully. She arches an eyebrow at him, and he swallows, brain still murky and very, very confused. "You're… dead."

"Mhmm. Seems you tried to join the club, too," his sister tuts. "Big brother Johnny, running from your problems and then taking the easy way out? Not like you."

His head snaps toward her. "Because that's no different than drowning them in alcohol," he replies coolly. They glare at one another for a few moments before he finally sighs and looks away. "What do you mean by 'tried', anyway?"

She lifts a hand and gestures at their wide, colorless surroundings. "Look about you, brother mine. This isn't hell, and it's definitely not heaven."

"So, limbo?"

"Sort of." The smirk returns to her face, and she uncrosses her arms and leans towards him. "You see, you made a real hash of things for the people upstairs. You're not supposed to die today, but you've gone out and seen to that. So, yeah, you did die, but now you're getting the opportunity to fix that."

He flops back down on the crisp white sheets, dampened slightly by his wet clothes, and expels his breath in a harsh sigh. "Can't even die properly," he mumbles, hands reaching up to rub his eyes.

Harry frowns next to him. "What kind of attitude is that, hm?"

"Why would I want to go back, Harriet?" John growls. By now his pain has abated somewhat, but the anger and confusion that has been building ever since he woke in this disorienting place is becoming too much to handle. He throws off the blankets and stands, glaring down at his sister, shaking arms crossed tightly across his chest. "I jumped for a reason. Everything was going to shit; first you, then the job, and then -" He breaks off, scrunches up his face. "It's better for everyone this way."

Regarding him with the first serious facial expression he's seen from her all day, Harry stands, too. A few moments pass, and then the hand by her side slowly reaches out to him.

"That might be true. And if by the end of what I'm about to show you it still is, then you'll be allowed to go on. No holds barred, no questions asked. Up to the pearly gates with you."

"I got into heaven?"

"Please, John, you're a war hero. And don't interrupt me!"

"Right, sorry."

Her face softens. "But, John, I think you're going to find out how much it really isn't the better option for anyone."

John could be dreaming, or hallucinating, or he could be dead, but she is the one thing that seems real. She looks exactly like she did before, and more than that, when he clasps her hand, it is warm - unlike everything else in this unfamiliar, cold, white place. They had more than their fair share of differences, but despite this, despite everything, he trusts her.

"This is mental," he mutters, and squeezes her hand lightly. "Alright, you can show me what it is you're supposed to show me or do whatever you have to do. Let's just get this over with."

She squeezes back, and with a sudden, blinding flare, they are clothed in black and standing in a field of daisies.