52 Weeks (Sherlock/John, 1/4)
Title: 52 Weeks
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Warnings: death, depression, and the like.
Word Count: 1,822
Disclaimer: I borrow them, I don't own them.
Post Reichenbach. Sherlock is dead; John is going through the classic phases of grief ... badly. Divided into four parts, this fic chronicles his progress week by week, the reconstruction of his life without Sherlock. Can John possibly find a happy ending?
Immediately after the death, survivors may experience a wish to 'do something' for the sake of the dead person. An elaborate funeral, or even a simple service held 'the way they would have wanted it' often satisfies this need.
Mycroft allows John to choose the tombstone. Which he does, an automaton, moving blankly around what's on offer as if he were choosing new kitchen units.
The salesman asks, "Whose it for? Your mum? Sorry, I can usually tell, you look that sort of age."
John has seen better deductions ...
He chooses a tombstone he thinks would suit Sherlock. Suit Sherlock? It isn't a fucking coat.
The undertakers have a trolley, covered in a black cloth. John, with Mycroft, helps to place the coffin there. They place two wreaths of lilies on the top.
John can't think of Sherlock in the box. And can't watch the box go up in flames.
"There is just one more thing ,just one more miracle Sherlock, just for me, stop being dead, would you?" John hears his voice cracking. There's nothing there, just dead, dead air. "Just for me, stop it, stop this."
Oppressive silence, piling up against John's chest. John remembers that it isn't even Sherlock's body under the ground - it's just his ash. There's no resurrection from dust.
It begins to drizzle. John believes the world is weeping.
He tries to get a taxi, realises there is nothing in his pockets but his fists, walks the five miles back to 221B.
There, he stands in the middle of the sitting room. So much bleaker than before, he now notices the peeling paint, the layers upon layers of dust, the dull and yellow light. The flat feels so small, so lonely, huddled against the world.
The clock doesn't chime. Rain breaks on the window. John traces a hand over the table, taskless, quite lost, a moth without a flame.
Mycroft visits. Why?
John offers him a cup of tea, but when he opens the fridge he discovers there is nothing in there but ... the head. He closes the fridge gently.
Mycroft makes do with a glass of water, in a suspiciously smudged glass.
"You haven't been eating, John." he steeples his fingers under his chin, and looks at John intently.
John looks away. He can't see that.
The next day, the head is gone and the fridge is groaning at the seems, filled with fresh food. John's eyes prick. He wants the head back. Sherlock would be most irritated.
He meets Harry for coffee. He doesn't ask if she is still on the wagon. Doesn't give two fucks, to be honest.
Harry tried to talk about Sherlock. John responds with selective mutism.
She sighs, "John, love. You know, around a third of all people seeking psychotherapy are there because they are having difficulty getting over the death of a loved one."
Her tone is soothing, calm. John wants to punch her teeth out.
She slides a card across the table, "I spoke to this lady on the phone. She seemed nice. Understanding."
"Understand this," John stands up with such force his chair crashes backwards, "I don't want help in getting over this, because I don't want to get over this. Just ... let me be."
And he stalks out into the cold, wrapping his coat - and his grief - around him.
Mycroft, surprisingly, is more helpful.
He visits on a Thursday afternoon. John has been lying on the sofa, wearing Sherlock's dressing gown. Mycroft notices - of course he does - but doesn't comment.
"Here, have a book."
Mycroft tosses it across the room where it lands at John's feet.
He picks it up, "Symptomology and Management of Acute Grief. I wasn't aware that my grief was ... acute."
Mycroft smirks, "Acute and about to become chronic, I believe."
Before he leaves, Mycroft looks around the flat, "I'll send someone around to clean."
"Don't touch Sherlock's room. If, if - " his empty threat is left unsaid, as Mycroft nods,
John has run out of things to talk about, because his life has shrunk down around him, almost to nothing.
So he takes a book, Wonders of the Solar System.
"Right then, Sherlock. Astronomy. It's never too late to learn!" he laughs weakly, and settles himself down, legs crossed, next to the tombstone.
It's windswept and chilly, but a brave winter sun has come forth to join them. John has a flask of tea, which he sips intermittently.
"Does Xena have any moons?"
"One, I think, hang on I'll look it up - yes, Gabrielle."
"Loads. More than sixty. But most are tiny."
It's alright, John has discovered, to talk to the dead in a graveyard. However John doubts that anyone but Sherlock is talking back.
The unsolved crime rate in London has risen by 22%
John reads this is The Guardian, and smiles. Scotland Yard deserves it, the turncoats.
Lestrade calls the evening after the article comes out. John is silent on the phone.
"John," Lestrade begins, "I ... "
John presses 'End'.
"I will not", he whispers between gritted teeth, "Absolve you."
He leans against the window, staring into the night. Sometimes he thinks the night stares back.
Abandoned fox cubs yelp. Once upon a time he would have helped. Now, he'll let them die.
He makes a cup of tea, wraps a blanket round his legs, and sobs without reason in the dark.
The mourner may feel numb in all emotions.
John has taken to sleeping in Sherlock's bed.
He curls in foetally, and completely submerges himself underneath the duvet. Sherlock.
This is now the only way he can find to sleep, cocooned here, the only place in the world that still feels like Sherlock.
It has been nine weeks, of course things have changed.
Mycroft's staff came by and cleaned the flat. Though they tried not to disturb too much, John can see , Sherlock's papers are not scattered as artfully as they once were. And the violin is at a different angle to the window.
He spends an hour trying to recreate it's position before giving up, having worried himself to tears.
It hurts him, to see the marks that Sherlock made melt away. Once all evidence of him is gone, what will John have left?
I was so alone, and I owe you so much.
Once all of Sherlock is gone, every mote, every proof, John will be alone again. The thought terrifies him.
After the initial shock comes a period of intense sadness, and the grieving person may withdraw from social contact.
John begins drawing the chain on the door to 221B, to keep Mrs Hudson out, despite her master key. He no longer answers Mycroft's calls. Sarah's phone calls and then, Sarah's increasingly desperate banging on the door, are tuned out.
He goes for a long, long walk each morning, just after dawn. Keeping himself in gear, ready for when - for what? Nothing, just ... ready.
He sees the morning tide of commuters rocking the cold chest of the train, milky light making ghosts of their faces. They appear to hug each other, they are so close.
I want to hold, and be held by you, like that.
Leaving the flat becomes like dipping a foot into an icy, rolling sea. John dreads everything but his invisible morning walk, hates being forced to go to the bank, the pharmacy, the doctor.
He feels old, creaking, the coming days an expanse of excruciatingly slow dying. Every day death robs him a little more: during dinner, which is tasteless. In the shower which without him noticing, is scalding his skin. Each morning, when he wakes and cannot hear footsteps from the other room. It is in the silent screen of his phone. It is in the still bow of the violin.
Nothing left to take, no one else to love. No one to recollect me through grief.
John rings his own voicemail.
"John. I'm in All Saints, you must come quickly. Bring a bottle opener, some rope and a heavy book. This is Sherlock. Holmes."
John smiles faintly, gazing off into the distance. He puts the phone on speaker, and listens again. And again.
The world becomes dark.
John visits his mother, in Winchester. Sarah had been coming round daily, standing outside the door reading out 'happy news' from the Metro, and he needed to escape.
Judith Watson had never met Sherlock, had only been vaguely aware her son was living with some flatmate or other, who died, horribly. She hadn't managed to attend the funeral. John had said he was fine. Sad, shocked, but fine.
Thus, it was a shock when she opened the door to a John who was two stone lighter than her memory - almost emaciated - whose fingernails were bitten beyond the quick, whose eyes were red and sore.
"Oh, my dear boy, what on earth has happened to you?"
She's his mother, so of course she manages to extract some information from him.
"Sherlock was ... astonishing," John rubs his eyes and gives her an exhausted smile.
"I was broken. He fixed me," he bites his lip, "Now I'm broken again. Differently. But worse."
She doesn't know how to make it ok. So she makes him a hot water bottle, and puts him to bed in his old room, surrounded by Enid Blyton books. He sleeps, that's something.
John's driving home from his mother's when it happened. He stopped at a pub in Eastleigh, intending to have just one solitary pint. It didn't quite go that way. At some point since Sherlock's death he's become unable to just stop.
He finally understands how it is for Harry. The slow, teasing loosening of tension in his back, then his mind, as he drinks. The buffer against the world as he becomes unable to process pain ... it's addictive.
He drives through the New Forest, at dusk. His blood is dancing with alcohol. The branches overhead hanging like great gallows, a ship's rigging, antlers in the dark swinging, disembodied.
The deer springs blindly from the trees, an arc of flesh and fur and fear, the hot sharp stink of deer in heat. The wet sluice of blood as, too slow to react, both collide.
After the scream (his? the deer's?) John sits, breathing heavily, hands still clutching the wheel. He wants to get out of the car, look, see if the deer is dead or not.
He can't. Can't see a broken body on the road. Can't. Can't even start the car and drive past. He closes his eyes, and scrabbles for the door. Turns, walks back the way he came, into the dark.
John's heart is broken. This is not backed up by science, but in every other respect, it's true.