Title: Come Home
Author: Rewrittengirl (or rather Leffie)
Fandom: Sherlock (TV series)
Wordcount: 8,840 words
Rating: T for teen.
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, Sally Donovan, Mycroft Holmes, DI Lestrade, Anderson, Stamford, Angelo.
Warning(s): Too much angst for some to handle, heartbreak, death, sadness, despair, clinically insane... ness.
Contains: A kind of cray cray acting Sherlock. Thoughts of suicide, depressive behavior, brb crying...
Notes: As promised, I didn't finished this chapter until you'd FINALLY given up hope on reading the end. SUCCESS!
... Obviously I'm kidding, but I am really sorry, as I have been the past few chapters. Once again my Sherlock muse dwindled, in fact I thought I might never write a word of Sherlock fic again, but then A MIRACLE. I suddenly wanted to write. I dunno, it was weird... Anyway, this is the long awaited next chapter, and I hope you enjoy it. I think my writing has grown over time, and I believe this to be the most well written chapter of the fic. If you want to watch my progress of REVISING the fic, just find me on Archive of Our Own, where I'm uploading (slowly) revised chapters as I finish them. Only chapter one is up, but you can at least read that if you want. :3 You know what happens anyway, you lucky ducks over here on FF .net. ;D
Disclaimer: I don't own Sherlock Holmes, nor any of the characters mentioned in this fic. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns the characters, and the BBC, Steven Moffat, and Mark Gatiss own the modernized version. If I owned the BBC version, Holmes would have kissed Watson in a dark alleyway in thanks for saving his life. Episode one. :3
Summary: When John is redeployed to Afghanistan, Sherlock can barely cope, especially since his newfound feelings for John have overpowered him. Video chats and phonecalls aren't enough, but when the doorbell rings, Sherlock's world melts down in seconds. Can an unasked question mend him, and can he ever be whole again?
This morning I woke up feeling greatly refreshed. I know I really needed that sleep, and I was against it from the start, but now I felt a bit more grateful.
I yawned and stretched among the sheets. I'd actually made it to the bed this time, instead of John picking me up off the stairs to the flat (I'd done that before; when you don't have a John around to help you, waking up on stairs is literally a real pain in the neck). I scratched my head and licked my lips, staring up at the fan spinning in its cycle. John must have turned it on for me, how thoughtful. I wish I thought of things like that for him...
I sighed, smiling a little. Groggily, I picked myself up and set my feet on the warm hardwood floor. The light was spilling in from the window. It was nice, the feeling, so I closed my eyes and sat there for a moment.
My nose was sniffing the air. What a delightful smell! Mrs. Hudson must have cooked again. She wasn't bad, the old bat. She burnt the toast sometimes, but if I'd cooked it would have been charcoal, so I take what I can get.
I stood, mindlessly grabbing my red dressing gown from where it hung on its hook and slipped it on, twisting the door handle.
Quietly I walked from the bedroom to the breakfast table. I do so with silence, because I know he's sitting there, reading the paper. By force of habit, John always rises at six o'clock in the morning, showers, shaves, dresses, and is downstairs before 6:30. Military breeding, of course. He doesn't ever wake me when he crawls out of bed; he's too careful, and I'm always a heavy sleeper (hence my need to stay awake). It makes me smile, seeing him there. When I lived alone I saw no one, and that used to be alright, but then John made having company a staple of my life. I didn't mind.
I just liked to see him for a moment before I walked in behind him. He probably hears me every time, but I still do it. Force of habit.
Before I even reached him I saw the quirk of a smile reach his lips as he brought the toast with jam to his lips. Then, with as much grace as possible at 7:45 in the morning, I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face in his neck.
I felt him lay his own head on mine. "Good morning," I mumbled, smiling a little as I rested my chin on his shoulder. He said the same, and took a bite of his toast. He offered some to me, and I took a bit. Strawberry, his favorite. My favorite too, really, if you count the number of times I've stolen bites of his food in the past six months.
"Sit down and eat your breakfast," he demanded.
My eyes flickered-
-to the ceiling, and I thought for a moment. "Hmm, no, I'm perfectly content eating yours." With that I plucked his piece of toast from his hand and ate the rest.
He sighed, but I could tell he he wanted to laugh. I grinned, holding him tighter and pressing my cheek against his. "Come on, you know you love me."
John rolled his head toward me, his forehead colliding with mine. "Aren't you so sure of yourself, Mr. Holmes?"
He blindly, but skillfully took a piece of toast from my plate and placed it on his. My heart fluttered at the gleam of the ring on his finger, and I fiddled with my own with a smile. I chuckled, leaving his side and sitting in my chair, picking up the paper and unfolding it gingerly. "So, Dr. Holmes, any cases in the mail I should attend to?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "No sevens, at least that I can pick out." He grabbed the mail from the stack on top of the file on the Lindon case. I'd told John to file that... I'd just have to do it myself, then.
"Let's see... Missing award winning poodle?" I nearly choked on the piece of toast I'd stolen back from John's plate. "Haha... no, definitely not that one. How about the Little Orphan Annie case?" I shook my head. "Right, you don't do children. There's that one with the Russian nesting dolls I thought looked interesting..."
"Anything on the website?"
"Don't you check your own website?"
"I meant your website, John."
He rolled his eyes, and I chuckled with a fluff of the paper. He pulled his laptop closer to him and opened it. "Well! My last blog certainly got a lot of views."
"Is the counter still broken?"
John looked up. "No, I f-f-f-f-f-f-fiiiiiiiiiiiiiixed it, f-f-fiiiixed it."
W-what? I looked up, and he was smiling at me.
I tilted my head, and that caused his brows to furrow.
"Something the matter?"
I shook my head. "No... Please, continue."
He looked at me strangely, but resumed checking his blog. "The Sign of Four was the one... People seemed to like that one."
I glared at him over the paper in my hands. "Mary Morstan seemed to take a liking to you, Dr. Holmes."
John's eyebrows quirked, and he glanced at me from the corner of his eyes. "Don't be jealous," he said.
"Jealous? I'm not jealous. I'm simply stating facts."
He huffed with a laugh. "Alright, I'm finishing my breakfast, then I'm leaving." He closed the laptop and began to eat again.
My heart nearly stopped for some unexplainable reason. "L-leaving?" I said before I could catch myself.
John tilted his head. "Yes, leaving, for work!" he chuckled as he took a few more bites and stood up. He picked up the Lindon case file and arranged it in his hands, mumbling something about forgetting to put it away. He leaned forward and tapped my head with the file. "Remember? The world doesn't revolve around Sherlock Holmes."
He looked at me... so sincerely, as if it was the last time we'd ever meet. I leaned back as he came closer. He hooked one arm around my neck and rested it on the back of the chair. I felt the blush before he saw it, but he laughed all the same.
He placed his other hand against my cheek, brushing my stray hairs away with his fingers. I closed my eyes and sank into his palm. John... John was the only tangible thing that comforted me. Everything else was the facts, the work, the data... They couldn't keep me warm at night. "John..."
"Hmm...?" he muttered as he came closer, leaning his forehead against mine.
"I feel..." I began, my eyes fluttering as my hand reached up to touch his. I sounded like I was drowning in something other than water, something that made my breath catch and my words pathetic. "I feel like I'm forgetting something..."
John, the stable thing, laughed again. "What are you forgetting?"
"Well that's just it, I don't know!" A foreign set of words from my lips... I opened my eyes and John was ever closer, his mouth nearly brushing my own. My heart flicke-
-fluttered as I touched his sandy hair. Hmm... There was more gray than I'd noticed before... Odd, because I noticed everything.
"Sherlock..." he whispered, finally closing the distance between us.
It was muted. I felt the electric spark I often felt when kissing him, but it was as if his lips were far away, in another country. I was merely kissing a screen, fashioned in the shape of my love's lips. My brows furrowed, and I pulled away.
"What's wrong?" He asked with concern. No... still there. Not far away, right here.
"N-nothing, nothing," I said, shaking my head in disbelief. I touched my lips, and feigned a smile. "You have to go to work remember?"
His eyes lit up as he recalled. "Yes, of course... Silly old me!" He stood up straighter, his arms leaving my side. "Has anyone ever told you how good a distraction you are?"
I smirked. "My husband tells me that, yes."
John grinned, chuckling. Then he turned and headed toward the door to fetch his coat. Just at the entrance, however, he stopped short, looking at his hand and staring at the file still lodged in his fingers.
He seemed frozen, but I knew he wasn't. I could see him breathing. I tilted my head, getting up and moving toward his chair, touching the back lightly. "John?"
A smile spread across his lips, and he shook his head. "I forgot again. Would you just file this? You know your system better than I do." He turned abruptly and threw the folder at me.
John continued to smile as the papers rained down around us. There were more than had been in the folder, that was certain. They whipped about as if someone had opened the window and a tornado breezed through. I covered my face as they smacked against me, every which way. Briefly I glimpsed the pages, trying to see John through the madness.
His face seemed everywhere, but nowhere at the same time. I stepped through the paper, batting the sheets away until I was closer to the door. "John!" I cried, grabbing one that had flown into my face and crinkling it, ripping it away. I wiped my sweaty bangs from my eyes, looking down at the page. It was a file on military personnel. One man... A doctor in Afghanistan.
DR. JOHN H. WATSON - deceased.
His image... Red... Watson...? Deceased... D-deceased!
No... No...! I shook my head no, throwing the paper to the side and looking up.
The papers finally fluttered to the ground.
The door was now at the end of a long corridor. He was still standing there, smiling. He seemed... different. His clothes... A uniform. In his hand... a bag. He was bathed in light, and in the distance I heard the whir of an engine. An aeroplane.
The corridor was dark, behind John the only light.
"I'll miss you," he said. I started forward, my dressing gown flapping behind me.
"No... No, John!" I cried. His image laughed as the corridor grew narrow. The doctor... my doctor, my love reached his hand, as if to tempt me. I reached my own hand, and I thought if I stretched, I could save him from leaving me.
"John, please don't go! Don't leave me!" Tears, and my voice was muffled again. Suddenly, the wind picked up again, and the papers blew around me once more. I ran to him.
His outstretched hand moved. He saluted me.
"NO! JOHN DON'T!"
I clawed the air. The corridor was tilting up, and I was sliding down into the whirring paper. Or... was that the whirring engine of the plane? Or was it the sound of rapidfire? Or the sound of an explosion? The sound of a thousand people sighing?
...Or was it my scream?
John's lips were drawn in a line as he lowered his hand. He turned.
I forced my legs to move faster, as much as they were beginning to hurt. Had to reach him, had to save him!
"JOHN, I LOVE YOU! PLEASE, COME BACK! COME HOME!"
The heavy voice, drenched in blood. My voice was sobbing out the negative, as if I could cancel out John's positive. He told me he'd come home... He promised me...
He began to walk into the light. I came closer, but the papers were catching me, like Death's hands reaching out and dragging me into a dark oblivion.
I kept shouting his name, but he couldn't hear me. I reached as far as I could, closer, closer.
I was there! I could touch the light, bathe in it. It was his light!
He was walking away. I reached once more to touch him, to take him in my arms and never let him go.
Flicker, Flicker, FLICKER!
Just the same as I asked him to stay, he left me alone in the dark. He was swallowed by light.
I do not jolt awake from nightmares. I merely open my eyes from them. They are figments of my pathetic imagination, dreams that repeat even though I banish them from my thoughts. I delete nightmares, but sometimes they reappear on the saddest of occasions.
I opened my eyes.
This time when I woke up there was no light. It was dark, three in the morning it said on the clock on my nightstand.
Unlike previous nightmares, I remembered everything. I don't think I'll ever forget this one. Everything in my power, to the core of my very being tells me to delete it. Everything in my logical mind knows I should delete him.
Delete John Watson. It says that, really. A command. Delete John Watson. Delete John Watson. Delete John Watson.
This morning I didn't get up. Huddled on my bed. I was freezing cold. Wasn't it summer time? John, wasn't it summer... time...
I didn't get up. I stared at the clock as it counted the minutes.
Blinking red. An hour I laid there, still exhausted.
I took a deep breath, unwilling to exhale.
Finally, my eyes flickered shut.
I won't get up.
The grief is endless, the sorrow is endless. I've brushed with death, but never before have I truly wished it to descend upon me.
Mycroft told me once that caring was not an advantage. Not for our kind, at least. I wish I'd listened to him at the time, but I don't know if I had a choice. The heart, though in reality a vital pulsing organ, is metaphysically connected to emotion, which registers in the brain as being a tangible thing. I had told myself, no, taught myself not to be deceived. But I was careless. I wanted no consequences. Now they've only just begun to take hold of me.
The image never fades. I close my eyes to delete, but I continue to find the backups stored away. In the folder I'd been forced to make of the solar system, the 243 ashes, the alkaline metals, the Bach and the Tchaikovsky playlists, the Woman, New Scotland Yard's blueprints, how to make tea, how to bake, how to dress, how to get up in the morning...
I delete all I find. But then the back ups make more backups, as if they want to be sure of their preservation. I can't wake up without seeing it. I expect to open my eyes and it will be real. When it's gone, I can't stop crying endlessly.
I am now incapable of living. Mrs. Hudson calls Mycroft when I collapse on the stairs. Instead of sleep it's sickness, and there's no John to pick me up and say goodnight.
Mycroft doesn't scold me, even though he wants to. I can see it in his eyes when he stares at the ring on my finger. He sets me in my chair, but we don't speak. I'm afraid I might have lost the power to confront him these times, because there's so much I want to say. "I can explain!" "This is wrong!" Dare I say the words, "Help me, brother?" No, because caring is not an advantage.
He speaks. "Goodbye, Sherlock." He leaves. Rinse and repeat.
I stumbled out of the flat. It was beginning to get cold out again, but I'd forgotten my coat. I never leave without my coat, but I couldn't go back.
I didn't know where I was going, only that I didn't want to be in the flat anymore. I tried chemicals, eyeballs, organizing files, tea, the violin, organizing the files of the files, solving cases on my blog... I'm flabbergasted that I'm still able to deduce. But the flat has been strangling with memories, and now I wanted out of it.
I hailed a cab, because I could barely walk today. Malnourishment, I supposed. John couldn't take care of me, so I didn't eat. Sleepless nights could also be a factor. Nightmares, for the first time. I ought to go see my therapist again.
Maybe that's where I wanted to go, but instead of the office building, I told the cabbie the cemetery. Why? I didn't know. I don't know anything anymore. Lestrade would be shocked, and maybe... disappointed. But he doesn't call on my services anymore. He sent me a text two weeks ago.
Only when you're ready. - D.I. Lestrade
Ready? What's that supposed to mean? Surely Lestrade knows I'll never be ready.
The road was trafficked all the way to Soho. My knee bobbed up and down in frustration.
"Patience is a virtue," the cabbie said in front of me when he noticed my agitation.
I leaned my head to look at him with steely eyes. In another time, I might have said "I'm not paying you for counsel." I might have...
Instead, I pulled my knees to my chest and stared out the window. In between my knees the necklace jingled. His ring, as well as the dogtags. Suddenly the metal burned my chest.
"Hey, I recognize ya!" the cabbie started again. "You're Sherlock Holmes, right? My wife loves that blog!"
My eyes narrowed... In the rearview mirror I saw dull gray in the irises. I muttered, "Please... tell me you mean The Science of Deduction?"
The cabbie looked up in remembrance. "Nah, wasn't that. Something like... The Blog of Johnny Watson? Yeah, brilliant stuff, that! The missus' been saying that there weren't no new posts. Hang up the old deerstalker, eh?"
The cab had been stopped in traffic for a long time. I got out. I didn't even feel like bothering to correct his grammar.
"Hey, what are ya doin?" the cabbie yelled, rolling down the window. "Ya have ta pay me, ya know!" I kept walking. The image was being obstinate, and the cabbie kept yelling.
Suddenly, however, as I walked in between cars and honking horns, the cabbie stopped shouting. I turned around, thinking he'd given up.
There was a stranger there. A woman. Dark wavy hair, mid to late twenties, tanned olive skin. Black dress with dark jacket. Above her was a deep navy umbrella, however it was dry, as there was no rain. Curious...
As she pulled her arm out of the window, obviously parting with change destined for the cabbie's hands, I caught her eyes. Softly, sadly, she smiled.
I turned and walked again.
I arrived at the cemetery half-past four, according to my watch. Anthea had been smart, as it began raining soon after I saw her. I was soaked, but the rain hadn't reached the graveyard. The clouds were still dark.
I was slow in my strides to his plot. When I got there, I wanted to turn around. But I stayed.
The wind beget a soft breeze. My teeth chattered and I rubbed my arms. There were dead flowers resting against his tombstone. I cleared them away, dumping them on the dead sod next to him.
"Bit not good, Sherlock."
Twitch. I rubbed my arms, sighing. "Right, right. Courtesy." I took the flowers again, and hugged them to my chest. "I'll dispose of them later, then."
Somehow there had to be silent approval, somewhere. My mouth hung open, and I sobbed. The tears fell again.
"I... keep seeing your face." My voice raised at the end then died away in a whisper. Whenever I cried real, honest tears this happened; I must alter my acting job in the future. "The one of you," I continued, "at the airport, smiling at me. I can't seem to get rid of you, no matter how I try..." I looked down at my feet. My legs were shaking. "Tell me... Tell me what I'm doing wrong. Is there a medical cure for grief? An... an herbal tea?! I can't-"
Collapsing. I collapsed, because I let the weight of the feelings overtake me. They are impossible to get rid of when you have them. The flowers crackled against my weight above them, but I could hardly hear the petals screaming over the sound of my own sorrows. From my knees I had fallen further. On my side, sobbing, shaking, clutching the flowers to my chest... on his chest.
Love. I should have listened to my brain, all my rational thinking. Years and years of building boundaries and walls and protection broken down and disintegrated, like Rome and chemical reactions. Love, this is where you've led me.
No one would believe Sherlock Holmes truly had a heart, and this sickness is the price I paid for it... Some heart that is. Some nightmares I traded insomnia for. Some feelings I have that keep me from work. Once it was the only thing I enjoyed, but then I found his company, and how he cared for me. It was unlike anything I'd ever known.
Deleting the past might seem a viable option, but my past self-damn my past self- made sure I could never forget.
I tried to concentrate on something other than the fact that I was six feet above where his ceremonial coffin was, so I found in my line of sight a small bluebird. It hopped about on top of a grave a few yards away. It had a lovely song.
Slowly I rose and crawled past his plot. The flowers were destroyed, but I would clean them up nevertheless. I simply watched the bird hunt for things for its nest, with knees once again curled tightly to my chest.
It found things, yes. Dead grass, twigs... I moved as little as possible so as not to disturb it. It flew back and forth between the ground and tree above us, John and I. While it was in its nest once, I picked up a few dried petals from the bouquet and flung them across the way. Potpourri for it's home, if you will... It took them like I'd deduced. Bluebirds are naturally attracted to red things, and these petals had been of a rose. Probably Harry Watson, or Mrs. Hudson, thinking they were the elegant choice. Was I the only one to know that John loved tiger lilies? '
I imagine I knew a great deal of things about John that no one else knew. No one cares to look at things and actually see them. Things that are staring them in the face elude them, and yet they remember the feelings and the words. Words, they don't matter. Anyone can fabricate a lie, but everyone tells the truth with the way they speak, the way they move and sigh... with their eyes...
John loved tiger lilies and the blue mug in the cupboard. He hated football; much preferred rugby, but was always polite with his die-hard friends about it. He typed with two fingers because he hadn't owned a computer until after his service in the army. When he was furious, his voice was calm... so many people mistook it for forgiveness. He was always tired, despite his lack of nightmares...
"Was I the only bloody one in London who didn't know?!"
No one answered. My hands covered my eyes and shielded me from the chirping little bluebird.
"I want to know! How couldn't I have known?!"
"Because you observe, Sherlock... You observe but you do not see."
I heard... That was a voice! His voice! No... No there was no one there. No one around me, least of all John. Nobody to hear my speak as if I'm mad except the damn bluebird.
I shook my head and stood, gathering the bouquet quickly.
"Just leave me alone, John," I said as I gazed at the words. "Why can't you just leave me alone?"
He had this to say.
DR. JOHN HAMISH WATSON
September 9th 1973 - December 18th 2012
Brother, Blogger, Friend
Instead of taking a cab, I spared myself the uncomfortable idiocracy that would consume my eardrums and walked. I supposed I was going home.
It was a long walk from the cemetery to Baker Street. More than once I didn't pay attention and was almost hit by a car. The most observant man in the world wasn't me at the moment. I saw nothing and everything at the same time. It was excruciating. Love had rendered me useless in processing information. Or perhaps it was the absence...
More and more my mind was in a trance. The bluebird, though gone from my sight, still sang in my inner ear. I saw the date and the name in my mind, and the image that followed me everywhere. I'd cried enough, so many times, that my tears were now invisible. No one could see them, but I knew they were there, tainting my skin with emotion.
The walk was taking longer than I thought, as it began to grow dark with night. Nighttime in London is unclear and smoky. If I squinted my eyes hard enough I could see the stars John so loved. They didn't really matter, because I didn't matter. In real life there was none of that grammar school hogwash they cram down your throats. They tell children they're special and important, when truly nothing anyone ever does makes a difference. Obviously I'd been blind to this, as well; here I was beginning to think heroes existed... The importance of a man is relative to the company he keeps...
He was a hero to me, because he saved me, in more ways than one. Now I regretted that I let him go...
"Careful Sherlock... You're slipping..."
The voice lifted me out of my thoughts, and the cracked sidewalk snagged my foot. I fell hard against the pavement and a brick wall, but my foot's condition was more worrisome. I hissed, clutching my leg and sliding down the building. No one was visible at this time in this part of town, but that didn't mean no one was there. So, in lieu of someone being falsely concerned, I hobbled into the alley beside me and sat attending my wound.
Merely twisted, I'd deduced, and when I pulled off my shoe and sock it was as I predicted. The rain had stopped long ago, but the concrete under me was still damp. Unimportant, really, as I'd left my coat at home. Nothing was important anymore.
I folded my legs to my chest after re-applying my footwear. I was so tired, so I stayed there resting. Dark had fallen completely, and I of all people knew the consequences of remaining in a random alleyway. But I could barely breathe. The sorrow was choking me, so I fell asleep.
It might have been hours, or it might have been minutes before I opened my eyes again. It was still so black, and my twisted ankle was throbbing more than ever. It had been a dreamless sleep, thankfully, but the rest was already slowing my movements. I tried to stand, but a multitude of obstacles prevented me from doing so. There was the ankle, my continuous inability to breathe properly, the whirring headache in my brain, the lack of vision, the cold, my thoughts... They dragged me back down and begged me to collapse again, and perhaps never wake up.
Again and again I tried to stand, but it was a useless effort. More love, more pain, more sadness crushed me down to the ground. I wanted to run, wanted to scream, wanted to cope with the blame I felt for letting him go. It was indeed my fault, as I'd calculated multiple possibilities of the outcome of his stay in Afghanistan. None of them ended the proper way, with him coming home happy- and alive. Had he lived, he'd be changed. Had he died any other way, I'd be just as miserable. Secretly, I'd promised I'd protect John with my very life, but I failed.
I shuddered and hugged my arms to my chest. It was not cold enough to make me ill, but it was still chilled. My continuing descent also made me shiver. I couldn't get up, and I couldn't go home. Suddenly I wished Mycroft would find me and take me away from this damp, pitiful spot. Pathetic! Relying on my brother! Had I really sunk this low?
Apparently I was to sink further. I couldn't control the tearless sobbing. It was the moaning and the screaming. Silent screaming. It was the tearing at my hair and my scalp, because I couldn't get the image out of my head. It wouldn't go away, wouldn't go away. My body gave in and sank; sank down to the ground, curled and aching. I wasn't screaming, truly, because I could no longer form sounds. There was just my lips moving, words back and forth, vying for audacity.
John... John... John... John Watson... John... Holmes? Forever... married... The Work. Work, work! Wrong wrong wrong! I'm never, ever bored...
"Stop fighting!" I sobbed. "Stop it! Leave me alone!" It was the head and the heart, fighting each other for dominance. The head begged for work, data and figures. Physically you're fine, Sherlock Holmes. Emotions are bad for the physicality. You mustn't bother with frivolity, lest you decay.
The heart spoke of grief. Chemically you're torn asunder, Sherlock Holmes. Emotions led you to happiness and pain. Love is happiness, ignorance is bliss. But when happiness is gone, love always remains. It remains and eats you alive.
The competitors rendered me motionless, save for my eyes. Wide open and darting, back and forth. Simply staring at the dark.
I heard an ambulance in the distance, though my exceptional hearing pinpointed it miles away. But it sounded so close to me, as if it was running me over. The sound, already adding to the screaming in my head, likely would have cracked my skull open had I not covered my ears.
The dark and the noise... The screaming and the breathing... The siren whirring... In and out... Delete... Delete you... Breathe and delete you...
"Delete me? Now why would you want to do a thing like that?"
I closed my eyes.
Like an REM cycle, they darted and rolled with the information crossing in front of
consciousness. There were exactly 156 ways to commit suicide that I'd catalogued in my brain. More existed, of course, but I'd dismissed some as having extremely low possibilities of being successful, and others I'd not yet come across. My lips trembled as I tried to pick one suitable... Moving on from this passed through my brain, but my lack of focus in deduction left me nothing to live for now.
A gun to the head... I tried to laugh at imagining myself pointing John's Browning to my temple, but it came out as another sob. An overdose... No, someone would find me before the drugs took me. Poison would be more likely, but it caused so much pain before it ended. I needed quick and painless... Something painless...
The ambulance was getting closer. I could now judge its speed by the sound of its tires on the pavement. Someone was indeed in trouble tonight. The siren was growing louder...
My eyes opened, and the dark became light. Red light.
I pushed myself off the ground and waited. My limp was pronounced but I ignored its cries. It would be over soon. I slid across the wall, blinking and rubbing my dry red eyes. I breathed. It was closer. Closer, ever closer... Time it perfectly, Sherlock Holmes, or you may survive with just a scratch.
Calculations. Breathing heavily. Pain. Wincing. More blinking from the red, red light. Now the light was gold and blood; headlights and emergency.
Time seemed to halt.
I stumbled back as the ambulance continued past my shaking form. I could barely breathe, let alone believe what I was seeing. I couldn't believe it. I refused to see it.
I groaned. "John... John!"
He smiled at me softly. "Where do you think you're going, Sherlock?"
His voice... so clear in my ear. But this was not real. It was impossible! "N-nowhere," I muttered, eyes cast to the ground. We were still on the sidewalk. I peered around him, thinking I was having a ridiculous out-of-body experience like people wish for when they die. Perhaps I was sprawled out on the pavement, still reliving my final moments and dreaming that this was it, this was the end and John was here with me.
But I wasn't there. I was here, standing in front of him on the sidewalk. I closed my eyes, then reopened them. He was still there. I rubbed the front of my jacket, as if I was trying to impress him. Of course I was a mess... And he was here.
"Mmm..." He was not angry with me, only... he was disappointed, I could tell. I could always tell. His eyes drifted down to my feet. "You're injured-"
"It's just twisted," I swallowed. "I'm fine, really."
He looked at me with disapproval. After a pause, he said, "Let's go home, then? Mrs. Hudson will have left you some food, since I'm not around."
My brows furrowed, and perhaps a tear escaped, finally. "But you're here now."
Another sad smile. He closed his eyes and leaned his head to the sky. "Yeah... I'm here Sherlock. I'm here."
I smiled. I was terrified, but I stepped forward. Forgetting my limp, I stumbled backward instead.
Just then, as he looked back down at me, a male cyclist- out uncharacteristically at night, judging by the state of his shoes as quickly as I could make of them- sped past me, and through him.
John. I looked to see if perhaps he joined the cyclist, but his receding apparatus carried only one passenger. John disappeared. John was no longer there. John...
I looked around me more. Turning, round and round on the sidewalk, covering all areas with my eyes. No, John would never be able to escape that quickly. Why would he want to...?
My hand reached up to hold the necklace on my chest. I looked down the alley and combed my fingers through my hair. "John..."
Just then, a glimmer caught my eye. I looked back to the street, and shook my head. I wanted to turn around and run, and even attempted to do so, but my aching ankle caused me to tumble into the building. A sharp pain dragged across my cheek, and when I touched it there was blood from where the brick struck me.
It was then that Mycroft helped me into the car. When he closed the door my face fell against the glass, smearing the window with red. I distinctly remember him getting in next to me on the other side, but exhaustion overtook me. I fell into another deep and dreamless sleep.
I awoke this time to light. I thought it was the nightmare again, but then I remembered that that had indeed been a dream, and I've never been aware in my dreams that I was dreaming. So I deduced I must be truly awake.
The clock said ten-thirty. I was aghast at the time, considering I never slept more than five hours a night if forced. If not pressured, I had two to three hours sleep at the most. This "waking up at ten-thirty" was unprecedented.
I was not greatly refreshed. I felt like I most likely looked: dead and worn. My eyes roamed the room, as I was unable to move with my body aching as it did.
First my eyes found a tray on my nightstand. It was the tray Mrs. Hudson usually set out for me in the morning, but I was shocked that it was here, in my room. She was not allowed in my room; no one was but John, who was the second thing I saw.
He was staring at me, his arms and legs crossed with a slight smile on his face. When he noticed I saw him he tilted his head. "Morning, sunshine." He nodded toward the meal. "Breakfast?"
I blinked, but he was still there. Another dream, I thought, but as I began to sit up I felt the pain again. My ankle seethed with fury at me for trying to move it from its spot, so I pulled myself up as efficiently as possible before I looked at him again. Still there.
I rubbed my eyes. "J-John... ah!" I hissed as my foot throbbed. It was definitely not twisted; it was a sprain. Someone had bandaged it in the night. Mycroft knew I didn't like to be touched by anyone; I hope he was at least the one to do it, despite his laziness. I groaned, knocking the back of my head against the headboard and rubbing my forehead. "Idiot..."
"That you are," he said. I looked back to him, and he was frowning. "I know what kind of stunt you were trying to pull. Do you want me to have a bloody heart attack, or were you testing your ability to survive the pavement?!"
I reached over and picked up the tea that was waiting for me. It was not hot, but it was still warm, which was good enough. I sipped it, but it was ghastly; Mrs. Hudson did not know how to fix my tea... Not like John.
My eyes narrowed. "You're already dead," I muttered with exasperation as I continued to sip. Despite its taste, it was liquid, and my throat had been dry.
"That's beside the point, Sherlock," John said, uncrossing his legs and leaning forward. "You tried to kill yourself."
I raised an eyebrow. "Your point?" I touched my cheek, and along it was a patch; I also hoped this was Mycroft's handiwork.
I looked down to my cup and drew my finger around its rim. Suddenly, the bed shifted, and the weight it carried was redistributed. John had joined me, oh how lovely!
He was not there. I reminded myself of this fact. I knew my mind was capable of the greatest things, but this was not something I'd planned for. Though I was clever, I hardly had an imagination like this, and I did not believe in ghosts. But I felt his weight somehow, especially when he touched his own fingers to my cheek. I winced at the pain.
"Sorry..." he muttered shyly. His hair was longer, and swooped to the side. It was blonder, as if it had been sun-dyed from the gray.
I laughed lightly at his sweet face... Yes, it was the first time in months I'd laughed. Possibly. No, I was sure of it. "So you're here... What now?"
He had laughed with me, but now he looked sad again. This was becoming regular with him. "Whatever you want, so long as you don't hurt yourself." John frowned with his eyes. "Please don't hurt yourself..."
I ignored that request and plucked a piece of toast from the meal that was far too large for my tastes; indeed, a single piece of toast is usually all I'll eat when on a case. But I suddenly felt incredibly hungry, so I brought the whole tray with me and set it beside me.
His presence was incredibly calming. He merely sat there as I ate; it was strange, him not eating with me, but I haven't been next to him in over a year and a half, so it was not as strange as it might have been. Since it was obvious I was not meant to die (considering my own highly developed brain created an entity to replace that which I'd lost to keep me alive), I thought I might as well get used to this. I felt... oddly content.
Breathing through my nose I swallowed more tea. My eyes drifted to John and noticed him staring out the window. I lowered the cup and cradled it in my hands, watching him. I gulped, my face heating up a little, and my stomach feeling strangely electrified.
"I-I love you."
It was the first time I'd said it to his face... and he wasn't even truly alive. But... he was moving. He turned to me and pursed his lips. Was this John the same one who loved me back, or had I gone too far?
Apparently not, because he smiled. "I love you, too, Sherlock."
I rotated the ring on my finger, eyes downcast. "You're not surprised?"
"No, of course not. I knew it all along." He tilted his head, smiling. "I saw it, you know."
"You mean observed?"
John laughed abruptly. "Ha! You mean like you observed me? Hardly!" I growled, but he just patted my bad leg in response, but I winced. He retracted that hand and frowned. "Sorry, sorry."
"Don't apologize," I began, rubbing my leg lightly where he patted it. "You are a doctor though; shouldn't you be taking better care of your patient?"
He looked to the ceiling. "I think being dead disqualifies me for the job. You'll have to find someone else."
I frowned at this revelation. He could touch me, but he could no longer be my doctor- the doctor I needed. "There is no one else..." I sighed. "I'll just have to fend for myself then."
Just then, my sensitive ears pricked at a sound coming from outside my bedroom door. I set down my tea cup and steepled my hands under my chin. John rolled his eyes and got up from the bed to sit in the chair. I already missed his presence that was so close to mine.
"Sherlock, dearie?" Mrs. Hudson began as she knocked on the door. "I heard your voice, are you awake or talking in your sleep again?"
I raised my eyebrow incredulously, looking at John and gesturing to the door. "Talking in my sleep?" I mouthed to him, but he simply shrugged. I rolled my own eyes and replied to the old lady. "Yes, I'm awake."
"Are you decent?"
I frowned, and with deadpan, "Yes, Mrs. Hudson, I am decent." John snickered beside me and I shot him an accusatory look.
"Good! You have a visitor!"
My eyes widened. I quickly slipped the necklace under my shirt, as only I knew about that. John continued to stare at me. "Who is it?"
But Mrs. Hudson had already opened the door. In stepped her... and Molly Hooper.
In her arms she carried a medium sized stuffed bear and a bouquet of yellow and purple daisies. Dressed a bit classy, a tweed knee-skirt, deep black sweater, dark tights and mary-jane shoes, with muted red lipstick and pinned curled hair. A card stuck out of her bag with half the name "Janice" written in Molly's familiar swirls, and a treble clef dangled from her neck as a small sterling-silver pendant. Her eyes downcast, she began to speak awkwardly. "I-I just wanted to stop by and check on you, if it's not too much trouble... D-Detective Inspector Lestrade told me you broke your ankle, and I, uh..." She looked everywhere but my eyes.
Mrs. Hudson in the meantime noticed the completion of my breakfast and proceeded to take the tray away. "I'll be back in a minute with your aspirin, Sherlock dear," and she was gone.
I rotated the ring again, looking back at Molly absently. I corrected her, "Not broken; sprained, actually. I should make a full recovery in a week's time," I smiled blandly at her. "Going to your niece's recital, aren't you?"
Her eyes widened considerably. "Yes! How did you-?"
"Your attire suggests a formal but not too formal event is about to take place; it's obvious you aren't meeting a man, as you stopped by to see me, the object of your affections. Not bright red lipstick either, so we don't care about impressing me today, but your hair suggests you care about the person you're seeing; ergo, family member. Could just be a friend you haven't seen in a while, but what friend gives a card for reasons other than a birthday? We can dismiss birthday because you lack a properly wrapped or bagged gift. Instead you carry flowers and a stuffed toy; thus we conclude you must be seeing your niece. How do I know niece and not sister? I've known you for years and you've never mentioned one, despite the fact that your favorite hobby seems to be beginning casual conversations with me about everything and nothing... That... and I've read your file. Ah, now how do I know she's playing in a recital? Simple really. If it wasn't by the distinct outline of the card inside the envelope that says 'good job!' (oh really, Molly, you can do better than that), it must be evident by the fact that you do carry flowers in your arms and your attire, as what woman your age goes to a family gathering dressed like that, especially in your taxing occupation? How do I know she's not performing in a play and is in a recital? Why it's the treble clef around your neck! It's obvious that she's the sole player, as you're not terribly close to your niece, but close enough to be invited to such a momentous occasion. If she was playing in an orchestra you would not have been invited as typically people with large families, as you come from, do not invite more than parents and a set of grandparents to these functions. I imagine your niece is what, seven? Eight? Judging from the stuffed toy in your arms and the fact that it was clearly the mother that invited you."
Molly stared slack-jaw. Realizing she must say something, she echoed what John might have said had I been dissecting motives for murder (as it was he who glared at me across the room; he did not like me deducing people like that). "E-excellent!" She laughed nervously, but paused. "Except-"
"Was I wrong? I can't be wrong…"
Molly sighed, stepping forward. She presented me with the toy. Her hands had previously obscured the heart it held, which read the obligatory words "Get Well Soon."
"My niece has a piano recital today… The flowers are for her," she explained quietly.
I awkwardly took the bear, and John laughed. I glared at him.
"W-what are you staring at?" I heard her say. "Do I have something on my…" Molly looked at her shoulder and her side, to find the embarrassing substance.
I looked up at her. "No, no, I just… thought I heard a fly. They annoy me." This was directed at John, for interrupting my attempt to act normal. Molly was colored with confusion.
I fiddled with the bear's ear. Suddenly I no longer wished to lay in this bed. I was absolutely desperate to stick my head in a basin of water and stay there, but as that was very nearly impossible in my current state, I needed the ability to at least distract myself with something. I set the bear to the side and sniffed.
"Well, I'll just… er…" she turned and began to walk out the door.
"Molly? Before you go, will you fetch me my violin?"
Turning back to me, she stared as if I'd spoken another language. "You're… trusting me with your violin?"
I blinked. "Well I bloody well can't get it myself," I said plainly.
She, too, blinked in confusion. "A-alright." Numbly, she exited my room, leaving the door open. A few moments later I heard a disturbing racket. I winced. I just knew that she'd knocked over something of relative importance.
John leaned his head to peer out the door, but when he couldn't see he got up and left the room. "John!" I whispered. "John where are you going?! Stay!" I was terrified he might disappear again.
Molly returned the next moment with my instrument, but John was not following her. I held my breath as I took it from her. Absently I said the word thank you, and began to make sure the violin was in tune. Molly tried to leave, but I stopped her as I began to play.
I played Bach, for what else in life is there if not for Johann Sebastian's music? I closed my eyes, and did not stop, even when she sat in John's chair. I wanted to tell her to move, but if John was here, he would highly disapprove of my rudeness… Where was he? I tried to conjure him with my mind, as it was his creator. I lost myself in the music, the one part of my brain that breathed with creativity; there was nothing, despite my pleading. The music grew more frantic and fled Bach's original tempo, and I couldn't control my shaking.
Suddenly, I felt a hand on my arm that was not John's. I open my eyes and looked at her. "What do you need, Sherlock?" she asked, both pity and sadness in her eyes.
I stopped playing and lowered the instrument. I did not like her touching me, but I was hesitant to move. "I'm fine."
Thankfully, she removed the touch, but the presence of her concern still lingered. She was not like the faux Samaritans I'd been afraid of when I hurt my ankle.
"I miss him too…" she said. I stared with narrow eyes. "He was so nice to me, and… he made you so happy." Her usually squeaky voice was oddly calm, as if she was actually sure of the things she was saying. She fiddled with the plastic around the bouquet. "If you ever want to talk, you know I'm always available… You know, in that… I mean…"
"I know what you mean," I replied as I looked away. I laid down the violin and turned the ring again. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her tilt her head.
"What's that? A ring?"
I looked down, as if I didn't know what she was talking about. I should have put the ring away, too, but it wasn't as if no one knew. Mycroft knew, and so did Mrs. Hudson. I didn't feel like explaining myself though.
"You may go, Molly. Enjoy the recital."
I didn't look at her, but I knew her face was saddened as she walked out. I didn't move until I knew she was out the front door from the sound of her footsteps on the stairs.
When I did move, it was to get up. I tried to be as quiet as possible, but if John saw me now the hopping on one foot might attract his laughter. I clutched the wall as I looked out into the living room, leaning my head against the door frame.
Still, he was not there. Just the emptiness again, the one I've lived with for months. I couldn't help the sigh, couldn't help it when I paused to wipe something dreary from my eyes. I wanted to sink. Into nothingness. Into a world without hope... But then I was already here in the real world, wasn't I? Perfectly fitting, for a man who doesn't deserve true happiness.
I hobbled to the bathroom nearest my bedroom and turned the faucet on full blast, ice cold. I leaned my head and gathered water in my hands, drenching my face. I breathed it in, pretending that I was drowning.
"Bit not good, Sherlock," he finally said.
I didn't raise from the water, because its coolness mixed with my tears and made them indiscernible. My mouth lifted, however, and spoke his name. "John," I said, and John I repeated again. "John..."
He raised me. He took me from the water, made me drop my hands and gasp for breath. The air was bitter and cold. My face dripped. Tears, water... The bandage on my cheek was slipping off, but I didn't care... All that mattered was the fact that John was holding me again. I was slouched against him, resting my head on his shoulder. I breathed again, drowning in his presence.
John wrapped his arms around me. John was not here. He was not real.
No one saw him. Molly hadn't seen him, but he'd been right there, gazing at me lovingly. Nor Mrs. Hudson, nor my brother. Surely Mycroft would have remarked that it was nice to see John alive. He cared that much, at least.
John was not real. John was dead. John was a ghost.
Not a ghost. I didn't believe in ghosts.
But John was mine.
John was mine and he was not real.
I must have been crying, because he whispered in my ear, taking his hand and wiping the tears from my eyes. "I'm here, Sherlock," he said. It was so soft, so inviting.
It somewhat eased the pain.