Sherlock once said that habit makes the world go round. It's true, she thinks, in a way; Sherlock made a habit of being clever and showing off and making messes and being amazing and that made his world go round. She makes a habit of fussing and trying to help her poor boys to survive one another and that makes her world go round - spin like a top some times, she thinks, but on it goes nonetheless.

John has gotten into the habit of hoping.

"John?" she hovers tentatively on the threshold, hand just a centimeter from the doorknob and one foot already turning back down the way she'd come. If Sherlock had seen that, he'd have known. He'd have known she didn't want to go back in. She defiantly turns the rogue foot towards the door. "John, dear? You in?"

"Come and have a look at this."

She can't help it. She can't help it, but she hates herself for it when she sighs disappointedly, knowing now that John Watson is inside 221B Baker Street, waiting expectantly for her to enter. She thinks distractedly of the cup of tea, freshly brewed and waiting downstairs, that now will not be drunk. She thinks of the hour - maybe two - that she will now spend with John, trying to rescue him from the bottomless, inescapable pit that is his hope that his best friend might still be alive. She wants to turn around but he knows she's there now, so she bustles in like she always does, muttering under her breath about the mess but the only complaints she makes are halfhearted because John - the military man, precise, neat - doesn't make mess. It's like he's... broken. "What is it, dear?"

"Look at this." He's pointing, impatient now, at the article on the screen. She picks her way daintily through the carpet of old newspapers, Sherlock's case files and the empty cigarette cartons that signify a new, more distasteful habit of John's. Having traversed the length of the room she glances at the screen and her heart sinks.

"John, dear, I don't think-"

"Robert Brook, his first case," John announces proudly. He has bags under his eyes and his teeth are beginning to yellow from the endless cups of coffee and the chain smoking which he claims help him to concentrate. "Moriarty must have known. He's using it as an allias."

Some nights, it's "look at this, I found a kind of IV bag that explodes on impact, he must have used it to make it look like there was blood on the pavement" or "if they didn't let me see the body then it must have been a fake, mustn't it? They would have let me see it if he was really dead" but whatever it is, he never - never - says Sherlock's name.

She glances into his eyes sometimes and sees exactly what she knew she would - the glimmer of hope that's lurking in there, some nights clouded by doubt and other nights wild and bubbling to the surface like a pot that's going to boil over. She sees the unbending thought process that links Sherlock with immortality and thinks - still, even now, after his funeral - that he was never wrong, infallible. She's not as observational as Sherlock was, she knows that, but when she sees that in his eyes she wishes that she lacked any prowess in the area at all.

Because every time she sees it, she's reminded of the way that Sherlock never could.

AN - first of all, how AWESOME was last night's episode? I cried. Twice. And then I stayed up too late writing this when I should have been prepping for my exam today (it was awful, thanks for asking). Hope to update with a couple more reactions soon - Lestrade's, John's, maybe Mycroft's - anyone else you can think of, let me know. Ciao!