Warnings: Spoilers through Reichenbach Fall, Swearing, Graphic sex
Authors notes: This has been edited because in my post RF grieving my spelling and grammar was absolute crap! But this is probably my favorite story I've ever written so I thought it deserved to be cleaned up. Within the week it should be up on Ao3 (same penname) if anyone wants to download. =] Enjoy.
The Miracle on Baker Street: Part 1
About three months, that's how long it had been since the Fall. He found calling it by that name was much more appropriate than anything else, as it wasn't just one person who fell that day. A whole society fell; an idea, a hope, a man, many men, John—Sherlock, Sherlock fell. Indeed, calling the event the Fall made much more sense in his mind and more than anything—It allowed him to avoid one word: Dead. Because that's what Sherlock really was; he was dead. John knew that now.
It had taken around three months for John to be able to say that aloud—except for once in therapy, and he could hardly ignore it at the gravesite. John wasn't actually completely certain of the amount of time that had passed since that day. At the beginning everything was a blur. He went to stay with Harry. Any pride or disapproval in accepting her offer was infinitesimal in comparison to John's complete and total inability to return to 221B Baker Street. Someone had brought him a bag of essentials in the first day—he couldn't remember who. Maybe it was Mrs. Hudson or Harry. Or perhaps even Lestrade; he had come to see John fairly regularly in the past months. John thought he felt guilty. He didn't know whether it was for turning against Sherlock before his death or for the fact that he still couldn't help but believe somewhere deep down that Sherlock was a fraud. Maybe it was both.
John honestly didn't care. All he had was the truth and as long as Lestrade didn't try and take it from him he didn't mind the company. They never talked about Sherlock, but instead most often Lestrade's family, or the mundane and ridiculous cases that came through the department. It was Scotland Yard so by most standards the cases were intense, but after the insanity John had seen…
Then a few days later boxes of his things arrived at Harry's. It was most of his stuff, everything he used regularly, but not everything he knew he'd owned. This made him suspect Mycroft but couldn't be bothered to investigate. Again he was just happy to stay as far away from 221B and its haunted, empty rooms as he could.
At the beginning John just sat and sipped tea when people came to see him, for others came, too. The same guilty smiles on their faces, like a parent who accidently let their slip to their six year old that Santa wasn't real—and then knew that he'd seen Santa jump of a building and slam into the pavement and saw the blood seep out and out and—no, he had to stop thinking about it.
Over time though John began to open up again, returning to his polite and more social self—almost. His limp was back. He thought it would have come back immediately if at all, but it didn't. It came back the morning after he finally brought himself to visit the graveyard, where the dirt was still freshly turned from when Sherlock had been buried in a closet casket ceremony. For that John was glad. It was so much easier to pretend he was somewhere else when he couldn't see that face, eyes closed—like he was sleeping. But that didn't make sense, because Sherlock so rarely slept. It was wrong.
That day, on that visit to the gravesite in a last attempt at denial, John begged Sherlock for a miracle. He begged Sherlock to not be dead. Like a three year old who lost a parent. Please just stop being dead—just stop it. But he hadn't stopped. Sherlock Holmes continued to be dead.
The next morning when John had stepped out of bed, he stumbled and fell even further. By the next morning his old cane arrived at Harry's. John guessed Mycroft again. He wanted to be furious that Mycroft was still watching him, as painful a reminder as it was, but then perhaps Mycroft himself was at a loss of what to do with his surveillance now. What was he supposed to watch?
The cane itself did infuriate him, though. It was like he'd never even met that man. Even his body was erasing Sherlock from his life. He broke the cane. Snapped it in half and flung it violently at the wall. He stood there breathing hard; defiant for just a moment, but then he collapsed back, broken on the bed. Harry had come to see what was wrong. He didn't say a word to her. He didn't look at her. Harry wasn't good at feelings, so when she saw the tears sliding silently from the corners of John's eyes back into his hairline she turned and walked awkwardly back down the stairs. The next evening there was a shiny new cane on John's bed. John didn't break this one.
Days passed around John. Sometimes they moved forward with him, making him a little fraction of a hair better each day but sometimes it just flowed around him. He worked at the clinic. He no longer fell asleep while on shift, even though he was often tired. The nightmares frequently woke him, but he didn't stay up all night breaking ciphers or shooting mad cabbies—who weren't very nice—not anymore. John hated it, somewhere deep under the growing numbness.
Then suddenly it was three months since the Fall and the world hadn't ended, which John thought was hardly fair. Society had condemned Sherlock Holmes for months and got away without any repercussions. Maybe there were more unsolved crimes but nobody noticed. With Moriarty gone the state was safe, and that's all people paid attention to. And that man was dead because of Sherlock Holmes—ungrateful bastards.
But John only felt angry like this in the worst of times. Honestly, John didn't have the energy to get angry. He just focused on going forward until maybe he could visit Mrs. Hudson without breaking down into a crippling episode. He hadn't even made it into the flat when he tried to visit a month ago. They had to have tea at a shop down the street. But he was better, now. Soon, he told himself. He would make it soon—that's what he thought, before the insanity began to set in at least.
It was when he was on his way to a pub near New Scotland Yard to have a pint with Lestrade that he saw it the first time. A tall man standing in the moving crowd across the street. The street was busy. It was Friday night. Everyone was on their way somewhere, and usually somewhere fast. But in his periphery a man stood at least a head above most of the men and women bustling around him. Just… standing there. It took one second, then two, and then John's head snapped around, stumbling a little in stopping on his bum-leg, but nobody was there—well lots and lots of people were there but not the… No. Nope, he was not doing this. Not this too. He was just fine with his psychosomatic limp and night terrors, thank you very much.
Lestrade greeted him warmly when John entered the pub, waving him over to an open spot next to him at the bar. Once, Lestrade probably would have asked why John was acting so guarded but it was barely noticeable in comparison to his normal mannerisms these days. He asked Lestrade about his daughters, and his wife. Lestrade asked about Harry and John chuckled before letting a few real complaints about Harry's treatment of her new girlfriend fly, softened in the interest of cordiality of course. Harry's old habits were beginning to seriously bother him again. Perhaps that was a good sign.
"Thanks for coming out, John," Lestrade said clasping his hand on John's shoulder as they said their goodbyes.
"No, Greg, thanks for calling," John said, amiably. "It's nice to get out."
By 'nice' John of course meant 'distracting' but the two were basically the same these days. When John walked out on to the street it wasn't as busy as before. He walked to the edge of the road and hailed a cab. He nodded in greeting to the cabbie and climbed into the backseat. As the cab pulled away from the curb he caught what he thought was a familiar silhouette slip into an alley. He twisted in his seat to look out the window and in his rush slammed his head into the glass.
"E'vrything alright, sir?" the cabbie asked, glancing over his shoulder.
"It's fine. Everything's fine," John mumbled, rubbing his temple.
But nothing was fine anymore, not really.
It took John two weeks to accept his insanity. What were light hallucinations on top of the PTSD, the psychosomatic limp, the insomnia and nightmares? What was the swish of a tailored overcoat, the shadow of a man? They didn't help the nightmares but other than the new hallucinations he was still getting better. He'd even had a row with Harry the other day about the—now—ex-girlfriend. He really needed to find a flat, but he couldn't bring himself to move back into 221B because of the pain, and he couldn't even begin to look for a new flat because he couldn't let go.
Then one day John ran into Mrs. Hudson on the street, and he was happy. He found a smile on his face that was not forced in the least.
"Mrs. Hudson!" John greeted eagerly.
She looked up from her shopping in surprise, smile blooming on her face when she recognized his face.
"John!" She said as she moved out of the flow of traffic. "How are you doing, dear?"
It was a silly question but John didn't have too much trouble lying convincingly. It was easy and he almost believed it himself.
"Getting along, and you?"
"Oh you know…" she began prattling on about the new neighbors and all the mundane details of her fantastically boring life.
She paused at the end of her ramblings and looked a little uncomfortable. She shifted her weight from one side to the other. John cocked his head in question.
"John, dearest… do you think you could come back yet? I am so sorry to ask I just… he had so many things… I haven't the slightest clue of where to start."
His heart sank. The good feeling was gone. John wanted to say no. He wanted her to not have asked at all, because it forced him to face how broken he was, but she did and John knew he couldn't avoid it any longer. He'd once been a brave man. He couldn't hide from that place forever. It wasn't fair to Mrs. Hudson he told himself.
This is how John Watson found himself in front of 221B Baker Street on a freezing winter day. The sky was silver and sharp. It would snow today, John was sure. Strange, for this early in the year. It was going to be a long winter. The clouds were looking heavier by the minute. Perhaps he should have come a different day… No, he was just making excuses.
It didn't look any different on the outside. It didn't even feel any different. There was the same black door… same brass numbers. He knocked.
Mrs. Hudson warmly answered the door and John gingerly stepped through the threshold, cane clicking on the floor. He paused there and looked around. This room wasn't different either.
"Thank you so much for coming, dear," she said as she took his coat.
John's shoulders were stiff and hunched. He nodded stiffly in response. He was glad Mrs. Hudson had never been discouraged by silence and she began to prattle. It distracted from the fact that every fiber of John's being wanted to flee far, far away from this place. They walked towards the stairs. Mrs. Hudson's voice sounded so far away and the world moved to slow and too fast at the same time. John wondered if he could still turn and run.
But then he was on the stairs, his steps echoing far louder than Mrs. Hudson's chatter. She unlocked the door at the top of the stairs and it creaked as it opened. Had it done that before? Was he just imaging the ominous noise?
Mrs. Hudson stepped aside when she reached the top of the stairs and waited for him. He stopped, too. This place… this place wasn't so different either… except for the fact that everything—everything was wrong. It was dusty and the cold light cut beams through the dark air. It was utterly silent and freezing to boot. It was dead.
Then Mrs. Hudson flipped the light switch and with a jolt, jarringly brought the room back to life. But it was like a mad scientist's experiment. It was neither here nor there—living dead, the zombie house, because it was totally soulless. Sherlock Holmes was the life of this place and with him gone it was just an empty shell. It was a body without a soul. John decided it was worse in the light, somehow even colder.
After a few seconds of paralyzed silence Mrs. Hudson spoke again.
"Your limp is back, dearest?"she asked.
John couldn't tear his eyes away from the empty walls. He shrugged.
"Thought it was psycho… psychotra…," she said, stumbling over the word.
"Psychosomatic," John corrected absently.
"Yes, that. Thought it was all in your head? Why did it come back… the psychosomatic thing?" she asked, without any poor intentions.
But John laughed bitterly, eyes closing and head tilting back. The loud noise bounced garishly around the room.
"Probably because I'm psycho again," he said humorlessly.
Offense and shock flashed across Mrs. Hudson's face.
"John, dear, don't say such horrible things. You and I both know that's not true."
Maybe she did but John certainly wasn't sure, but as always he dutifully complied with Mrs. Hudson's requests and apologized as he pushed himself to take an unsteady step into the flat.
"Someone went through the kitchen and had it cleaned. I came home to it cleaned out a few weeks after…"
Mycroft, John thought. He glanced toward the kitchen and saw all the beakers and equipment were still there, but devoid of chemicals or whatever else he had always put in there. John would bet the fridge and microwave were empty as well. That was good. Untouched, it would have been a complete biohazard by this point.
John wandered forward, towards the mantle. The skull was still there. He looked at the spray paint smiley and bullet holes marking the wall. Most of his own things that he knew had accumulated in the main living area were gone, his laptop on the desk, the book that had been folded over the arm of his chair—collected by Mycroft's people. John trailed away from the hearth and looked down at the coffee table. It was covered in a mix of papers and mug rings. The newspapers caught his eye. There were headlines proclaiming Sherlock's brilliance, Sherlock in the damned ridiculous hat, Sherlock the hero splayed over the surface. Then over those, Sherlock: the Fraud. He knew what the headlines said later but they'd never bought such papers… for obvious reasons.
Suddenly John realized his hands were shaking and his throat was tight. His eyes were wide and glassy.
Wrong. Wrong. WRONG!
Mrs. Hudson's voice barely reached him, but he heard. She saw that he was losing it.
"So sorry, darling. I just remembered I promised Liza I'd pop down before four and pick up a few things from her," Mrs. Hudson said, obviously making an excuse to give him space.
He gave one sharp nod and he vaguely heard her feet on the stairs. The front door opened and shut again. John laid his cane against his chair, the one he always sat in. Sherlock, in all his dramatic gestures, usually took up the whole couch so John rarely sat there. He turned to look at the chair that was once his own. It wasn't his now. Owning something meant it was something you used or had that others did not have. If there was no one else to have it… what was the point?
No point. There was no point in anything. Why was he here? Why did he do this to himself? To help Mrs. Hudson? Maybe, but he could have just waited until Mycroft handled it. He hadn't talked to the man once but John knew well enough that he would indeed have done it eventually. This was just masochism. What had he hoped to get from coming back here? There was nothing here anymore.
It was more than his hands shaking now, wired and ready to run—flee. His wide eyes latched onto the floor where an indiscernible amount of wrappers and spent nicotine patches lay forgotten on the ground. There'd been a lot of problems and a lot of patches near the end, looking back. John had realized after the Fall that Sherlock had known what was coming much earlier than he gave him credit for. He'd deliberately hid it from John, but in hindsight he realized… That was where the insomnia came from. He lay awake at night and agonized over each little sign, each little trick and wondered how he could have stopped him. To this day John wasn't sure who had lured him to the aid of Mrs. Hudson with that false shooting, Moriarty or Sherlock himself. He probably would never know.
John toed one of the patches with his scuffed shoe and suddenly all the energy in his entire body left him, leaving him as drained as the nicotine from the patch. His knees buckled, and his backside collided with the sofa. Then John leaned forward and buried his face in his hands.
"God… god damnit…."
His voice trembled pitifully. John was unsure if he was going to cry or give up on feelings and let the numbness take him for good.
Neither were destined to occur because suddenly an instinct rusty with disuse pricked at the back of his neck. The nerves had faded after the war and now again after the Fall, but they hadn't deserted him completely. His heart sped up and he froze. Not that he'd been moving before, but now his shoulders were tense, coiling. There was no fear, there was rarely fear, just acute awareness.
This all occurred in a millisecond and before John could decide the source of the instinct or an appropriate action a low voice broke the silence in the room.
"John, that's my spot."
The floor went out from under him. It was a punch in the gut that sent him sprawling as well as hook under his ribs that ripped him up and into the open sky. The voice of the devil and the song of the angels mixed in deadly union with the sole purpose of shattering John into tiny irreparable pieces.
Just a second and John broke the bonds holding him in place. His head whipped towards the door and without meaning to he rose to his feet fluidly, and there, leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe was a man. He was a tall man, a man with high cheek bones and dark curling hair. His eyes were almond shaped and sometimes they were green and sometimes they were blue and sometimes they were the color of steel. Right now they were the color of a forest.
John felt his eyes go wide and his mouth part in shock. There was a strange whooshing sound in his ears that made it feel like he was trying to hear through a wind tunnel. Sherlock's were wide and pleased, glancing down towards John's legs. They flashed up to meet John's again and he smiled lightly.
"John, your limp is gone!"
John didn't know how he could tell, as usual. Maybe it was the way he jumped off the couch. Perhaps it was the way he was standing. Honestly… John didn't give a flying fuck how Sherlock knew his limp was better before he'd taken a goddamned step. What Sherlock apparently didn't notice as quickly was the emotions rushing through John's body in a tangled, confused mass. Confusion—shock—elation—hope—desbelief—exhaustion—relief—anger—excitement—absolute and all consuming fury.
The pleasure in Sherlock's face faltered and fell. He cocked his head to the side. Sherlock probably expected a multitude of reactions from John. Most of them probably positive. He probably had taken into account that John would be shocked by this development and was prepared for that. But nobody, not even John, could foresee what he would do in the next few seconds.
"John, are you—" he began the question John had been asked over and over and over again since the Fall.
John, are you okay?
NO. HE WAS NOT BLOODY-FUCKING-GODDAMNED OKAY.
John didn't give him a chance to finish the question.
"YOU BASTARD!" John nearly screeched at him.
Huh, turns out Sherlock was right. John's limp was gone again.
John reached him before Sherlock could gather his wits about him. Then one of John's hands gripped his shirt and yanked him fully into the flat. Then, with a resounding crack, John's fist made contact with Sherlock's perfect-sculpted-stupid face.