"You can't kill an idea, can you? Not once it's made a home: there."
It wasn't every night that John had the nightmares. At the beginning, every time his body would allow him a moment of rest, his mind was still planted on the event. Sherlock falling, his body a bloody heap on the London sidewalk. As the weeks went by, though, he would have nights where he wouldn't dream at all. They would simply pass in blackness, and when he woke up he'd have to remind himself that Sherlock wasn't there, that he would never be there, and that he was alone.
As the months went by, he'd have the occasional nightmare, and sometimes the nightmares weren't Sherlock related at all. Sometimes they were from Afghanistan, sometimes they were about saving Mrs. Hudson from the city's latest criminal, and sometimes they weren't nightmares at all, just odd little images from daily life, or even enjoyable dreams where John was running off with a beautiful woman he'd seen that day.
But sometimes, over the years, he'd still dream of those last few minutes spent on the phone with Sherlock Holmes, and that awful moment when he saw his best friend laying dead on the ground.
A year after Sherlock's death, John dreamt of that day. Sherlock was standing atop the tall building, and John was beneath him, trying not to sob into his phone. Was Sherlock crying, too? He could not hear the words-he rarely dreamt of the words-and then the consulting detective threw his phone away, and he began to fall. Only this time, when he fell behind the shorter building that blocked John's view, a slew of colourful balloons flew through the air, as if he had fallen into a pool of them. John woke up, caught his breath, and fell back into an undisturbed slumber.
A few months later, John wasn't sleeping alone anymore. There was a woman with him-the same every night. Her name was Mary, and she was the most beautiful girl John had ever seen. She woke him from a dream one night. It started the same way: John and Sherlock were on the phone, and only their breathing and crying was audible, but for one line. Sherlock told John that he had been researching him all along, that no one could be as clever as John assumed he was. John told him otherwise, and Sherlock made that strangled scoff. More silence, and then Sherlock fell, only this time, he never hit the ground. Instead, he landed feet first onto an invisible wire, and he tiptoed away from John on it, back towards 221B Baker Street. John woke up clapping his hands in astonishment. Mary giggled when John lied to her, saying he had been dreaming about the circus. A month later, he took her to one, and they had a wonderful time.
Two years had passed since Sherlock's death, and as it was an anniversary, John was of course dreaming about that awful day from his new townhouse with Mary. But the dream wasn't horrific as much as it was bizarre. It began with Sherlock falling, skipping over the phone call. John rushed to Sherlock's body, and all of a sudden, a brightly dressed man on a unicycle ran into him, not even stopping to apologize. He juggled as pedalled away, and John woke up before he could reach the crowd around his friend. A deep breath, a wiped tear, and he slept again, this time dreaming about Mary, riding an elephant, dressed like a princess.
Not a week later, and another dream: the unicycle steered itself this time, and John hit the pavement, the pounding in his head becoming a unique drum beat, and then a song-one that he recognized as a popular carnival tune. He pushed himself to the crowd, but all of a sudden he was in the centre of a massive carousel, real-life horses bouncing on poles around him. Eventually, the horses escaped the ride and left in a line, leaving John with a view of the crowd. He woke up dizzy, and went to the bathroom to vomit. John had never liked riding the carousel.
John didn't dream again for two months, and this time, the only thing blocking Sherlock was a small car. When John was mere feet away, the doors of the car opened up and every person he had seen that day was there, pushing him away from Sherlock's side, grabbing at his hands as he tried to take the dead man's pulse. He could have sworn he heard someone say his name as they held him back, but when he woke up it was just Mary complaining that he was unsettled in bed. John proposed to her the next morning, as he'd been planning to.
The night of their engagement party was only days later, and John couldn't believe he was dreaming about Sherlock again. Perhaps it was his imminent marriage, and the wish that his best man could have truly been his Best Man. Of course, Sherlock would have planned a terrible bachelor party. John's nightmare began in the crowd of people, only this time it was not the mixture of businessmen, girlfriends and paramedics it had been before. They were all clowns, each with a different talent, their make-up and costumes all different. Siamese twins, body-builders, lion-masters, ringleaders...but not one magician, which he found odd. John had always been fond of a good magic show.
John didn't dream again for months. His wedding was fast approaching, but he wasn't worried. He was too happy to be worried: happy to be marrying the girl of his dreams. Mary was away that night, visiting her family, and John slept alone. For the first time in a very long time, he dreamed about that day. There were no clowns, no animals, no circus. Just a phone call, with no words but a few he had never once heard in dreams before, that he'd barely remembered had been said at all. Those untrue words following a guilty confession of fraudulence.
"It's a trick. It's just a magic trick."
John woke up in a cold sweat. Sherlock did not even fall in this dream, but it still felt more like a nightmare than any of the others had, and John could not figure out why. He took a warm shower and, since it was practically morning anyway, poured himself some coffee.
He had to go to his suit fitting later that day. Lestrade met him at the shop, also to be fitted for his Best Man suit. "How'd you sleep?" he asked John, grinning. "You know, about to be tied off, as it were?"
John lied. "Slept like a dead man."
"Not far off." The two men laughed and let themselves get poked by needles and measured all over. Afterwards, Greg insisted he take the groom out for a drink.
A few beers in, and things started getting sentimental. "Look, John, I know I'm not your first choice-"
"-You don't have to say this-"
"-No, I do. I know I'm not your best Best Man, but I hope I'll do as a fill-in." Pause. Silence. "Mary's a great girl. He might have actually liked her." More silence, more drinking, and then:
Perhaps it was the alcohol, but before John went to bed that night, he was drawn to his laptop. He opened a word document with a blog entry he'd never come up with the courage to post. It was the entire story, word for word, from Moriarty's trial to Sherlock's arrest to Richard Brook to Mrs. Hudson's fake shooting to that final "note." It was all there: everything that had been spoken, taken from a transcript Mycroft's people had been able to get off Sherlock's extra-smart phone after his death. Everything, except one line.
As John tucked himself into bed, Mary still gone for the weekend, he set an alarm on his cellphone to wake him up for brunch with Harry the next day. Before setting the phone down on his bedside table, though, he clicked on Sherlock's name in his list of contacts. It was silly, especially since he knew that Mycroft probably had his brother's phone locked up in a storage bin somewhere, but something in the buzzed John's mind gave him the instinct to text:
When John woke up the next day, it was still dark outside. He reached over to his phone and picked up up, looking for the "Snooze" button, but it wasn't the alarm that had woken him.
New text alert.
John's heart raced. Probably just Mycroft, he reminded himself. On any other occasion, he would have ignored it and gone back to bed, but he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep now. Inhaling, he opened the message.
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