Therapy hadn't helped.
He thought going to his old meetings would help him work through things. All they did was remind him of what life had been like before Sherlock. What his life was now.
It's not like he could bring himself to talk to his psychologist about it. He couldn't bring himself to talk to anyone about it.
He couldn't bring himself to explain out loud how on that first day, after the ambulance ride, after the dead on arrival, after the cab ride home he couldn't remember, he'd walked into the flat, sat down on the couch, and lost it. He'd buried his face in his hands and sobbed, and all the while all he could think about was his own breathing. Just breathe, John. Keep breathing. Focus on breathing, or you might stop. Focus on breathing. In. Out. It's so easy to breathe. Don't stop breathing. It's so easy to stop breathing.
The next day he'd posted in his blog. There wasn't much to say, but he figured people would be waiting to hear from him.
He was my best friend and I'll always believe in him.
Even then, he couldn't bring himself to say more than that. The only time he'd been able to talk to anyone was at Sherlock's grave. And talking out loud to a dead man didn't exactly count as sharing your feelings.
He disabled comments on the post. He didn't want to hear any of it. The cynicism and sympathy alike.
He got it anyway though, through text or email. From his sister. Can't believe it. Hang in there. Xx. From Molly. Stay strong, John! Stamford. Didn't want to believe it. Call if you need a night out. Lestrade. I'm sorry. He hurt a lot of people. Stop by if you need to talk. Even Sarah. John, I just saw the news. I'm so sorry. I know you two were close. Call if you need me.
Since Sherlock's death, he'd been out for drinks with Stamford, over to Harry's for dinner, to a movie with Sarah, and had several other outings that he knew his friends went through the trouble of setting up in order to help him. And sometimes it did help. But then he'd get back to Baker Street. And he'd expect to hear gunfire in the sitting room. Or to find a human head in the fridge. And he wouldn't.
He tried not to go back in the blog and re-read old posts, re-read the comments Sherlock had written. He tried not to wander into Sherlock's room without meaning to. He tried not to hope, every time he opened the door to Baker Street, that'd he'd hear his friend's voice or violin upstairs. But he did. And he always would.
Life went on. He lived day to day, morning to night. He still had his practice. He still had Baker Street. It wasn't easy to afford without Sherlock, but Mycroft helped, against John's wishes. Rent wouldn't make up for what had happened to Sherlock, but evidently that wouldn't stop Mycroft from trying. John still had most of the things he'd had before. Like someone had taken his whole world, ripped it from underneath his feet, then put it back only slightly different, hoping John wouldn't notice. John did notice.
In some ways, life was better than before Sherlock. In others, it was much, much worse. But in most, it was exactly the same. And that's what made it unbearable.
You're falling, John. You're falling, just like he did, only you won't ever stop.
A month passed.
He was at the ATM one day, praying he had money in his bank account, when he heard a voice behind him.
"Hey. You're the blog guy. John Watson."
Surprised, he turned around. A young man looked him over. Brown eyes. Blonde hair and beard. Probably a college kid, judging by his clothes and the way he slouched over lazily. "Yeah, that's you, all right. I was a big fan, back before..." He trailed off a bit and looked away, suddenly sheepish. "You know."
John tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his chest.
"Thanks," he said.
He was about to turn around when he heard he man go on.
"I am curious about your last blog post."
Oh, no. Not here. Not right now.
"I think it's pretty self-explanatory," John said. He tried to keep polite, but still give the hint. The man didn't take it.
"What I don't understand is why," he said. "Why keep on believing?"
The sinking feeling grew. And something else there now. Unidentifiable at the moment. But growing.
"It's hard to explain," he said.
"That's not good enough," The man said, shaking his head. "It doesn't make sense. Wouldn't it be better to move on?"
John shook his head. "No."
"It's not healthy to dwell. Especially on a bastard like that. He never did anything for you. He lied to you."
The new feeling swelled, and John recognized it now. Anger.
And rightly so.
"And what if I don't believe that?" he asked, trying not to show his annoyance.
"Then you're an idiot," the man said, quickly. Snapped it, almost.
And suddenly John found himself back in the early days of his friendship with Sherlock, back when he wasn't even sure why he stayed in 221B, back when it still hurt to have Sherlock treat him badly, back before he realized that Sherlock treated everyone that way, back before he started noticing the small acts of kindness, of caring, that Sherlock showed John that he rarely showed to anyone else.
And it was too much.
"Yes, well," he mumbled, "Practically everyone is."
He forgot about the ATM and walked away, heading for home. He hadn't been in a stellar mood, now he felt worse than he had in days.
Bad enough that Sherlock was gone. This was how London saw him. How it would always see him.
Once back at the flat, he sat down on the couch and buried his face in his hands.
No one believed in Sherlock anymore. Not even Sherlock had in the end, it seemed. He himself had told John the supposed truth about him. So why was John the only one stubbornly clinging to his friend's innocence?
He knew why.
Hard to put into words. Hard to say out loud.
But if he didn't stand up for Sherlock, who would?
He got up and found his laptop underneath a pile of magazines. Sitting at his desk, he opened up his blog.
He hesitated before starting, unsure how to begin. Then he was typing, letting the words come to him without thinking into them too much.
I know I've been really quiet on here, and I'm sure it's obvious why, but I decided to post one last time because I feel like there's something I should say that I haven't really had the chance to say yet.
I said in my last post that I still believe in Sherlock. That's still true. You all may think what you want to, but I want to explain why I believe in him. And afterwards, if you want to call me crazy, go ahead. But you can't trust the news. The news knew the detective in the deerstalker cap. They didn't know Sherlock. I knew Sherlock.
Sherlock was a lot of things. He was the most pompous, arrogant, selfish, cold, insensitive man I'd ever met. He was a real bastard sometimes, and I'm not going to pretend like he always treated me with respect. He smoked when he shouldn't have and he laughed at crime scenes and boredom made him practically dangerous to be around. But the one thing I don't believe he was? A liar.
There's no way that every time he noticed something, every time he picked up on a detail that no one else would, he was faking it. He did it too often, to too many different people. An actor would slip and fall out of character. He was the opposite. He couldn't turn it off. Sometimes I think he wanted to.
To me, it just seems a little more far-fetched to believe in an elaborate and intricate plot all to gain attention than it is to just keep believing that Sherlock Holmes was the most brilliant man that I will ever meet.
I'm sure that's not very convincing, and this won't be either. It's more of a feeling than anything.
I believe in Sherlock because I believe that, in his own way, he really did care.
I spent a lot of time around Sherlock. More than anyone, having lived with him. And in that time, I got used to reading him a bit, just like he read me. Most people would look at Sherlock, and they would think he's just perpetually grumpy, and that he doesn't care about anyone. But I was able to tell when he was genuinely happy, sad, scared, excited, or anything else. And I could tell when he cared about something. He was the kind of man to do everything in his power not to let it on when he did care. But every once in a while, he would slip. And with Sherlock, that was enough.
He cared about Mrs. Hudson, for sure. He'd never admit it, but he cared about DI Lestrade. And I'd like to think he cared about me. I know he did. He considered me a friend, even if he didn't show it well most of the time. You can't tell me all those feelings were fake. Don't tell me he was just playing us all, because he wasn't.
I don't know who I'm talking to right now. I don't have any proof that he wasn't a fake. Some days I doubt myself. And this certainly isn't going to convince anybody who didn't already agree with me.
I just miss him. A lot, actually. And I want to remember him as I knew him, not as some news story made him out to be. Sherlock was a pain in the ass. There were days when I wasn't sure how or why we stood being around each other, let alone being flat mates. Most people would call me crazy for sharing a flat with him, and half the time I agreed. But it was the other half of the time that mattered. He was, and still is, my best friend. I cared about him, and still do. And he meant a lot to me, and still does. I just hope he knew that.
When he finally stopped writing, a knot was growing in John's throat. He swallowed and coughed, then posted the entry without editing it. He rubbed his eyes, then got up and walked away. Coffee sounded very good right about then.
About an hour later, John realized he'd never disabled the comments on the new entry. He debated leaving the comments on, but decided against it. The blog had been for him, not to generate a discussion.
But when he went back on the blog, a comment had already been posted. John's heart skipped as he clicked to read it.
An anonymous poster. Two words stared back at John. And when he read them, he once again felt the world ripped out from underneath him.