It's the first time Donovan has ever heard something so human from Sherlock, ever.
"Sherlock, you need to calm down…"
Sally watches, slightly shocked, as Lestrade places his hands on the still soaked detectives arms and tries to look him in the eyes. Sherlocks hair is flat from the dip in the sea and his coat is as dark as the water, the lights from the cars and boats occasionally flashing over them both.
"Sherlock, I think you might be in shock, you need to sit down…"
"Sherlock, it's dark, the current is strong here. He was shot and fell over-board."
"No, he can't!"
"Sherlock, it's been half and hour. I'm sorry, but chances are we won't ever find him…"
"I'm sorry… Sherlock I'm so sorry."
The noise Sherlock makes isn't human. Sally has no name for it. It's not a cry, or a sob or a shout or anything in-between. It's loud and low at the same time and everyone on the dock stops at the sound of it. Then the tall dark figure sinks to his knees, crashes down like he lost all strength he ever had.
Lestrade looks just as sad and surprised as everyone else, John was a good man, and he sits down in front of Sherlock and places a strong hand on his shoulder. Sherlock's pale fingers grip the front of his jacket and Sally turns away, can't look at him a moment longer, can't hate him anymore.
It's no until she puts her hand over her mouth that she feels the tears running down her cheeks.
John Watson is gone.
Lestrade's first clue was Sherlock flapping his blanket, stating (rather unconvincingly) that he was in shock.
He was slightly insulted that Sherlock actually thought he was THAT stupid, but he decided not to mention it. Ever.
John Watson was a good man, the cabbie had not been one. Lestrade usually didn't like it when people took the law into their own hands but from what he had gathered, John had saved the idiot's life with that bullet. So Lestrade let it slide, and buried the loose thread under mountains of paperwork. Nobody really cared who had shot the damn cabbie anyway.
It kept going like that. Wherever Sherlock went, John was right behind him. Sherlock would call John idiot, silly, stupid, dimwit and some times even fool. John would answer with git, bastard, moron, dumbass and on one memorable occasion, "So's your face."
John made Sherlock better and Sherlock made John worse.
They sort of melted together after a while. The few times one of them was seen on his own, everyone else started looking around and asking where his partner was. Or friend, or flatmate, or colleague, or whatever they were this week.
Sherock was much more manageable when John was around. Not that he was easier to deal with or anything, just less infuriating. Not so hard to work with. The two of them had some sort of language between them, (Lestrade was sure they didn't even notice) and once they had a conversation that goes as follows.
They caught the crook, Lestrade still didn't know how.
Over the months, they seemed to just merge together, like they had always been like that. Like they had always been living in that flat on Baker street, like they had always known each other.
Now, things where different, and Lestrade didn't know if Sherlock could go back to not being around John. To being a single unit.
"Oh, detective inspector! How nice of you to drop by!"
"Greg, please! I'm off duty Mrs. Hudson."
The old timid landlady is still in black, has been for the past three weeks. It doesn't look like she's been crying, maybe her tears have run out. Now she just nods and lets him in. Greg hangs his coat on the stair post and goes through the polite smalltalk about the hellish weather before asking what he came to ask.
"Is he in, by the way? I haven't heard from him in a week, so I got a bit worried."
"Oh, he's upstairs. He's been so quiet since John…"
She turns away, hides her little sob in her hand, then turns back.
"He doesn't make much noise now a days. I thought I would sleep better without that violin, but I was wrong."
Greg nods, gently pats her arm and walks up the stairs. The door is closed, for once. Sherlock rarely remembers to close and lock the door.
John used to do it.
Greg knocks, but doesn't wait for an answer.
"Hey, Sherlock? How are you doing?"
The consulting detective is on the couch, feet towards the door. He looks like he's been in the same pajamas and bathrobe all week. Greg sighs and walks over to his head, face covered by a slim, pale arm.
"Sherlock… Look I know it's hard but you have to get up! Come on, don't be like that."
Then he notices that the chest under the thin fabric isn't moving, sees the spoon and the matches and the bag and the syringe on the floor and his heart stops.
He flips Sherlocks arm away, grabs his face and cheeks his pupils. The blue eyes roll and Greg curses when he sees the track marks on his arm.
He digs up his phone while shouting for Mrs. Hudson. He diles with one hand, trying to find a pulse with the other. His own is getting dangerously fast. There, a small beat under his fingers, thank God.
"Detective inspector Geregory Lestrade, requesting an ambulance to 122b Baker street, immediately!"
Sherlock blinks and runs his tongue around the inside of his mouth. The sheets under his fingers are stiff and itchy, the room smells of disinfectant. Hospital.
Someone is breathing next to him, sitting up next to his bed. Sherlock wills himself to turn his head, see past the bright lights assaulting his eyes.
The person next to him looks up, and Sherlock's heart sinks.
He closes his eyes again, but he hears Lestrade sitting up straight. He did something, something stupid. The pool? No, that was long ago. The docks? No, not that either. But his head is all fuzzy and he knows there when chemical substances involved.
"How much of that was a hallucination?"
Greg takes a deep breath, because he just found out how strong Sherlock is and he doesn't know if he'll survive the second impact with reality.
"We still haven't found John's body…"
Sherlock's face crumbles, scrunches together and then he turns away, almost with his back towards the inspector. Lestrade can't bring himself to feel insulted. He places his hands on the edge of the bed. He's been sitting with them clasped together, like he was praying.
"Do you want me to leave?"
Greg knows who Sherlock wants here now, but since that option is no longer valid…
The man on the bed breaths in through his nose, and Lestrade doesn't mention that it sounds like he has a cold.
He is about to take it as a yes when one of the long hands reach back, the slim fingers finding his and gripping them tight. Greg relaxes back in the chair.
Sherlock might have been strong once, might have been abled to make it through this alone. But John made him human, made him vulnerable.
Made him care.
Greg has no idea how long he's been sitting there, holding the hand of his friend who has long since fallen asleep again. He stays though, because Sherlock can't be alone anymore. John isn't here, and Greg knows he's a poor substitute, but he stays, and he holds on to the cold fingers.
Suddenly, there is a man in the door. Greg must have dozed off because the lights are out and the only reason he sees the man is because he is a dark silhouette in the bright block of light from the corridor.
"You are still here, Detective inspector?"
"Oh, Mycroft. Yeah I am… And I'm not on duty…"
Sherlock's brother walks up to them, looking at the sleeping figure. There is plain worry written over his face, together with deep grief and Lestrade is sure Mycroft doesn't know he can see it, so he pretends not to.
"You can probably let him go now."
Greg looks at his hand, still holding Sherlock's. He has no problem holding a blokes hand, not even in public. He's not a fag, but he has never understood why a straight man can't show emotions, so he doesn't care, and he tightens his hold a bit.
"He won't wake up for a while."
"But I'll be here when he does."
Lestrade has only met Mycroft Holmes a few times, and frankly, the man scares the crap out of him. But for all he is intimidating, he does have a fierce love for his little brother, and that sort of makes the rest ok. At least in Greg's eyes.
"Because he needs a friend right now, and since John can't be here, I'll stay."
Mycroft is quiet for a while, then he sighs, a very deep and tired sigh. He takes out a book that he's been holding under his arm and places it down on the table next to the bed. He sighs again, lighter, and puts a hand on Greg's shoulder. It's heavy, like lead.
"Thank you, Gregory."
Then he leaves. Walks back out the door and strolls down the corridor, thinking that this Lestrade-fellow is a very good man indeed.
Sherlock doesn't touch the book for three days. He sneers at it but eventually he picks it up and reads the whole thing.
Lestrade brings him more books, case files and little odds and ends. Sherlock, very worryingly, agrees to stay at rehab for the full three months. Greg tries to get him to talk about John, but Sherlock refuses, just turns away and is quiet for days.
Greg comes every other day, Mycroft comes once a week, Mrs. Hudson comes on saturdays, with a small snack of sorts that Sherlock politely tastes but then doesn't even look at. She doesn't mind, but she worries. Everyone does.
Sherlock does ask him, after a month or so.
"Why are you here?"
They are sitting out in the garden, freezing but both of them have given up nicotine-patches so there isn't much to do.
Lestrade flicks away some ash and shrugs.
"You need a friend and here I am."
"Are we friends?"
It's not an insult, it's just Sherlock being utterly slow on things like social status. Greg snickers before answering.
"Yes, Sherlock. We are."
"Oh… I didn't realize…"
"I know Sherlock, it's all right."
Then he is quiet because that's the closest they've come to talking about John for over a week.
Greg drives him home. Mrs. Hudson hugs Sherlock tight in the door, then ushers them inside since it's 'bloody freezing' out there. She won't let Greg leave until he has had at least two cups and half a plate of biscuits. Sherlock takes one sip then looks around the room like there's something missing but he can't put his finger on it.
When Lestrade bids the little landlady good-bye at the door, they hear the faint cry of a violin from upstairs. It's slow and high and it sounds like crying. To Sherlock, it probably is. They just nod at each other and part.
Sherlock grieves, properly, for a total of three weeks and two days. Then suddenly he appears at the Yard, half the current case figured out and requests to get a look at the murder weapon. Nobody even tries to stop him.
He doesn't smile, not for real anyway, and he doesn't show off as much as he used too.
(But he is still bloody Sherlock Holmes and he can't stop completely.)
He doesn't get into heated arguments with Anderson, he doesn't point out creepy things about Donovan's sex-life and he doesn't bully suspects until they crack. (They still crack, he's just not gloating about it. Much.)
Nobody really has the heart to call him psychopath anymore, not when he looks so darn human whenever he's introduced to anyone named John, or they talk about doctors. Not sad, not like a mourning widow, but human, very, utterly, completely human. Then the next second it's gone but everyone saw it, so there.
He breaks, a few times. One of them he goes around the country, looking at every un-identified corpse he can find. He does point a lot of people to their own lost ones, but he doesn't find his own.
Another time, he buys every ounce of drugs for sale that night in London. How he afforded it, Lestrade has no idea. He puts them all in a moving-box and hands it in at the front desk at the yard. Nobody knows what went on in his head and Lestrade tries to shout at him but nothing comes out, so he gives up.
The time after that he hides in one of the drawers at the morgue. Molly finds him after God knows how long and she has a slight nervous breakdown. Lestrade manages to shout at him for that one.
Some days, Greg comes up to the flat at Baker Street and finds the consulting detective practically comatose, draped over some pice of furniture, completely unresponsive. He sighs and carries Sherlock into his own room (which is hard, because he weighs far to much for suck a skinny bloke) and tells Mrs. Hudson to make sure he eats something, when he snaps out of it.
Some days, Sherlock doesn't come back to the flat at all. When he does, he is dirty and cold and half starved to death, with a slight euphoric look in his eye. Lestrade helps him clean up and shoves some food down his throat before leaving again.
It's ten months and three weeks before Sherlock mentions John's name. He's standing by the fireplace, hand on his skull. Greg is just about to finish his cup of tea and head on home, but Sherlock speaks before he can.
"Does it ever stop?"
"Does it ever stop? The pain? Does it ever go away?"
His voice is void of emotion. It's like he's asking about a victims stomach-content.
"I thought it might go away, with time."
Like it's the bloody weather, not his best friends death.
"But it's still there, every day, no matter what I do."
Greg stands up, but hugging Sherlock would be sort of pointless so he just tucks his hands in his pockets and sighs.
"No, Sherlock. It won't go away."
Sherlock turns his head a fraction, just enough to glare at him. Greg doesn't even bat an eye-lash, he is much to used to Sherlock glaring at him.
"It fades a bit, after a while, then it comes back. It's like a nasty smell. First, you can't get away from it, it's everywhere. Then, you get so used to it you forget about it, then there is a gust of air and it comes back full force. But it never really goes away."
There is a pout of disapprovment, but Lestrade is not about to sugar-coat the concept of death for this man. Not bloody Sherlock Holmes who not only makes a living off it, but actually has it as a sodding hobby to boot. Instead, he smiles a bit and puts a hand on the other mans bony shoulder.
"You learn to live with it, Sherlock. That's what it means to be human."
The black haired man looks back at his hand, running his fingers over the skull.
"I'd rather not be…"
It's not until Greg has gotten his coat on that Sherlock speaks again.
"I raerly wish for things. Especially things I know are impossible. Like for Anderson to develop a brain, or people to get some common sense… But I wish he would come back. Every moment of every day, I wish John would come home."
He looks at Lestrade again, who already has a foot out the door. He looks so lost for a moment, so small and sad.
"Is that human too?"
Lestrade is a bit happy that Sherlock is dealing with all of this, that he is analyzing his feelings and dealing with them accordingly. That he is asking for advice, for help when he doesn't understand. Mostly, he is sad though, because of what he had to loose to get to this point. He nods.
"Yes, it's very human."
Sherlock huffs and looks like himself again, picking his phone up from the mantelpiece.
"Yeah, I guess…"
He has taken three steps before Sherlock calls out the open door.
"Give my regards to my brother!"
That last bit doesn't make much sense until Lestrade comes home and finds it unlocked. He pulls out his gun and quietly sneaks into the apartment, towards the light coming from the living room.
"Ah, welcome home Gregory!"
The older Holmes smiles at him and puts down the book he has been reading. Greg tucks the gun back and point at the door.
"How on earth did you…? Never mind!"
He decides on something he actually WANTS to know the answer to.
"What are you doing here?"
"Oh close the door first, and hang up your coat. I thought we should talk."
Greg does as he's told (and for some reason, it doesn't bother him one bit to realize) and walks back into the living room, where Mycroft has produced a bottle and two glasses in the span of a few seconds. Greg doesn't ask, just sits down.
Mycroft smiles and pours up a glass for them each.
"Yes, talk. I think it's about time we did."
"We talk all the time. Like once or twice a week. What's so special about tonight?"
He sips the dark liquid, knowing very well that he could never afford that bottle.
Mycroft smiles, almost predatory in the dim light.
"Tonight, we will not speak about my brother, at all."
Greg tries not to look possessively flabbergasted, and takes a bigger mouthful before setting the glass down. He takes a deep breath and smiles back.
Mycroft looks so smug it's almost cute.
"What is it?"
"For the love of…"
"Sherlock I swear!"
Sherlock glares at him, and for a moment he is so much himself Lestrade almost hugs him, then, the consultant rolls his eyes and walks towards the crime scene.
"Could you please not show up for work in my brothers shirt! I really don't want to know such things!"
Lestrade ignores the positively horrified look he gets from Donovan and just laughs, giving Sherlock a small shove when he catches up to him.
Sure, Sherlock bitches and moans about the whole thing but Greg has absolutely no qualms about sleeping with his best friends brother. They are grown men, for crying out loud! Well, two of them are…
And Mycroft really didn't put the whole thing up for a vote. He sees something in Gregory and neither Greg or Sherlock has any clue what it is, and neither really wants to ask.
Considering that Sherlock is such a bloody child, he takes the whole thing really well. Both Lestrade and Mycroft are very proud of him. Sherlock glares death at them when they tell him, then he practically runs away with discomfort.
It's good to see him so lively again.
The anniversary for John's disappearance comes and goes, and Sherlock somehow survives. He is very quiet for a few days, but he pulls through.
"And there she is, safe and sound. Well, mostly…"
Nobody's really listening to Sherlock anymore, they are far to busy watching the sobbing woman hug her long lost mother. He rolls his eyes at the ingratitude and slides back a bit. The nurses are all very pleased, having cared for the poor woman for years without knowing who she was. There are quite a few patients with amnesia in this ward, and they are always happy when someone comes to visit.
Lestrade pats Sherlocks back, nodding a job-well-done-my-friend at him. Sherlock smirks a oh-please-it-was-a-childs-play and turns to walk away. One of the nurses informs Lestrade about the little paperwork required from him on the way out, when suddenly Sherlock stops, literally mid-step and asks into thin air.
They stare at him for a second, before he dashes off through the corridor. Lestrade mentally slaps himself and runs after.
This could be bad, this could be very bad because Sherlock has seen John a couple of times before and it leaves him depressed for days to find out he was wrong.
Sherlock turns the corner in the corridor, one of those that go around a back-yard with windows all around, and runs into a cluster of patients, grabbing one of them and staring at his face.
The nurse stops right behind Lestrade, panting just a bit.
"Oh, do you know him too? He's been here for over a year, hasn't said a word the whole time…!"
But Lestrade doesn't really pay attention to her anymore.
"John? Doctor John Watson!"
Sherlock is almost shaking him, trying to look him in the eye. Then, the short, sturdy man blinks at him, furrows his eyebrows and whispers, just loud enough for everyone to hear.
Lestrade might have said something crappy like "Hello there, been looking for you!" or "Welcome back, old boy!" but the kinda forgets too when Sherlock grabs John's still very shocked face and presses their lips together like their lives depended on it.
Everyone sort of freezes and stares at them until Sherlock lets go (Just the mouths, he's still holding John's face in a slightly comical way) and John sways a bit where he stands
"Oh my god Sherlock… I'm… Oh my God…"
Sherlock holds John steady when his legs give out, slowly sits him down on the floor and leans him against the wall, hushing him in a low voice. John shakes and it finally sinks into Greg's brain that it's John bloody Watson, back from the dead.
He gestures for the nurses to leave them, so they do. The other patients are gently shoved away and Lestrade tells the personal what happened and who John is and reassures them that he can get proper care in London, no problem.
Sherlock sits with his arms around John, who cries, and nobody has any desire what-so-friken-ever to interrupt them.
It's a few hours until they can get John discharged and it's already dark before Lestrade packs them both in the back of the car and they head for home. They are halfway there when John looks up from his nest under Sherlock's arm and meets Lestrade's eyes in the rearview mirror.
"How are you doing, by the way?"
His voice is hoarse, like he's had a very nasty cold. Greg smiles at him, or what little he can see through the shadows and nods.
"Much better now doctor! We really did miss you!"
John smiles and puts his cheek back against Sherlock's shoulder. Lestrade drives on.
Mrs. Hudson actually jumps with happiness and practically glomps John. He laughs and hugs her back, lifting her feet of the stairs. Lestrade promises to help with the tedious paperwork to bring him back, but Sherlock tells him to leave it to his shagg.
"Boyfriend, Sherlock! He's my boyfriend!"
John looks curious, just now realizing how much he must have missed, being out of it for a year. Sherlock grunts.
Lestrade laughs and shrugs, leaning back against the car. Sherlock actually moans with annoyance and stomps up the stairs towards John and Mrs. Hudson.
"What? When did that happened? Sherlock?"
True to form, Sherlock promptly ignores John and gently shoves him inside, turning back to Lestrade.
"Thank you for the ride, Gregory."
Then he shuts the door. It's the only thank you Greg ever gets for the past year, for anything at all really, but he's sort of fine with that.
He stands there for a while, back against the car, breath a white cloud in the dark night, watching the lights come on in the flat upstairs. Then he smiles, gets in the car and drives home.
And suddenly, everything is all right again.