When we as strangers sought

Their catering care,

Veiled smiles bespoke their thought

Of what we were.

They warmed as they opined

Us more than friends -

That we had all resigned

For love's dear ends.

It's been a month now, and John still can't understand why Sherlock had to choose such a selfish way to die. Granted, the man was (is) a high-functioning sociopath with what was probably undiagnosed Asperger's. But there were so many loose threads that he left behind him, enough to make a labyrinth, and he's left it to John to pick them up, one by fragile one. John knows that this is his friend's parting gift, more true than that suicide note: Dear John. Here's one last case for you. John can see in his mind's eye that look that tells him to try and figure it out himself. He can remember telling Sherlock not to do that look anymore, but now he'd give up anything to see it one last time, because then Sherlock could come home and tell him what to do. God knows John doesn't know.

It's a selfish death because Sherlock – despite that intellect – managed not to take into account the fact that the press would be outside their door for weeks, pitching tents and begging for statements, apologies, anything, tearing each other over the scraps. Mrs. Hudson would shriek at them as they hounded her to the shops and back, shriek and weep until the black car turned up and packed away the journalists one by one. John wouldn't look Mycroft in the eye – he knows how good the older Holmes is at lying and keeping secrets, and if John's going to solve this case, he's going to have to do it alone.

He still won't tell his therapist what she wants to hear, though.

John Watson closed down his blog a week after the death (escape). Two weeks after, he goes to stay in Mike Stamford's spare room but find it reminds him too much of that abysmal flat he stayed in when he returned to England, so he goes home and immediately feels safer. Three weeks after, he begins to get used to commentators saying that this event will mean a radical change in the workings of the Met. Four weeks after, he gets a letter. It's from Henry Knight, and simply states that no man could have faked what Sherlock did that night. John considers throwing it in the fire, but instead he rolls it up and tucks it inside Sherlock's Stradivarius. He keeps the flat in order, but throws away the experiment when it starts to smell too bad to bear. Sometimes he talks to the skull about his day and can envision the response so vividly that it makes him laugh.

Sometimes he awakens from dreams that frighten him: dreams of bombs and bullets and that long, long coat flying behind him as he falls. Sometimes he dreams of Sherlock Holmes offering him the sky. Sometimes he dreams of Sherlock Holmes offering something different and unfathomable and his heart taps out a tune by Bach.

Sometimes John Watson goes out walking and tried to look at people and mine the gold from the dirt in their souls. Sometimes, he does alright. Mostly he fails. He doesn't mind failing, though, because it's just adding more proof to a long, long list. Sometimes he sees shadows that take the shape of two people running, hands interwoven as the street pounds beneath their feet.

But he always makes two cups of tea, just out of habit. Sometimes he goes downstairs and gives it to his landlady. Mostly he just throws it down the sink and hopes for a miracle. Just one more, for him.

It's been a month now, and John still can't understand why Sherlock had to lie to him. He knows the man was (is) brutal and brilliant, manic and marvelous, great and good, but John Watson is no fool. He yearns for the day, envisions it in every way possible, when that door will open and he'll be there. Sometimes, in his mind, he drops the mug he's holding and it shatters on the floor. Most of the time he says nothing until he's offered the sky again, and then he says "Oh God, yes," just like last time.

John Watson is looking forward to it.

As we seemed we were not

That day afar,

And now we seem not what

We aching are.

O severing sea and land,

O laws of men,

Ere death, once let us stand

As we stood then.

(Extracts from "At An Inn" by Thomas Hardy)