The world had become so cold. Chill air and cool concrete biting into his bones. The world, he also noted, had become awfully flat. He sighed. A heavy kind-of sigh that reached into the recess of his lungs, could be described as mournful. It shook his whole body, racked his expensive suit and turned him into a shuddering, convulsing mess. You see, Sherlock Holmes was lying in an alleyway, scarred and broken.
He was lying on his bed of syringes, ash and dirt, utterly ignorant of the world outside. For outside, there were monsters. Sherlock clamped his eyes shut. Crows feet clutched at the corners of his eyes, lines etched into his forehead. His fingers curled, grasping at something invisible. Something that wasn't there anymore.
"John." It came out in a breath, a gasp, a plea. His blogger, his friend, his everything. And he had to go and spoil that too.
A gentle thrum tickled at his ribs. His phone tinkled. But, he didn't have to look at the text. One Holmes knew when the other was trying to poke their nose in. Sherlock murmured some retort about a diet to an insult that had never been said. A shaking palm swiped vaguely at his forehead. It was all so cold. "Why did you go?"
It had been two months. Two months, four days, seven hours and thirty-eight minutes if you wanted to be precise. All that time since his last case. It was only a robbery. Nothing grand. Nothing clever. But it was enough to kill him.
At first, it was the same as usual. Holmes would dance his merry dance around the dead, singing deductions and impossible truths. It was his cadenza. The song to which he knew all the words. John could stand there, his muse in this all. Every great man had his muse.
Then there was the part where they ran. They would run past the point their legs started to groan. Their lungs would wheeze in protest. Breathing was hard, intense. Both of them were smiling though. Their eyes caught and they giggled even more. This was right.
Neither of them expected the shot.
It crackled through the air. Sliced through the echoing room. The space between them became static. Everything so still.
Cupid's arrow is often said to penetrate the heart. The most innocent and loveliest form of torture-the start of something gorgeous. At the other end of the scale, it's the end. A shot to the heart, bullet to the chest, leaving nothing but devastation in its wake.
"John, please, hold on, I can...Just...John!" for the second time in his life he was scared. Not even he could deny it. The man who knew everything-faced with the unpredictable, the unknowable. Death.
The word is harsh on the tongue. That aroma of finality shrouding it. You could conduct as many experiments as you liked, but death was the one that the conclusion would never be recorded.
And for the first time, he didn't want to say goodbye. They told him later it was instant. Or at least, as instant as instant could be. Instant still gave him the time to crumple. Wince.
"Sherlock..." it gushed out. His last breath. His goodbye.
It took the police three hours to find them. Shattered and bleeding. One dead. The other half way there. It then took Lestrade a further ten minutes to prise Sherlock off the body. Not John anymore-just 'the body'. All John Hamish Watson ever was; it was gone now.
Footsteps. His eyes jerked open, searching the skies. Expensive shoes on fractured pavement. Pricey fabrics rustling.
"Get up." Mycroft. "I thought you'd sorted this out a long time ago." Snobbish. Insufferable.
"Things change," he remained on the ground. He could see the sky better this way. Dotted with twinkling lights and tracks of aircraft, smoky, smooth. They littered the horizon, choking London with their loads of tourists and lost luggage.
"You're a disgrace. What would John say?"
"He wouldn't say anything," Sherlock was aware of the tremors that shook his voice with some old grief or maybe rage. Emotions gave him away and he hated it. "He wouldn't say anything because he's dead. Remember?"
Mycroft shifted from one foot to the other. He had always envied his darling brother. Other people saw him as a sociopath. A freak. They were all so wrong. He was all skin and bones and heart. He had friends. He had Mrs Hudson and Lestrade. Once, he had a Doctor. Sherlock Holmes had so much to live for. What did he have? Other than the obligation to stalk his broken brother in the hope he wouldn't get hurt. He'd already failed at that. Sherlock was falling apart.
Nails dug into the skin of his palm. Tears gathered in his pupils. Not many people knew it, but he had a heart to break. "It's my fault. It's always my fault. I just had to tell him to go."
"It was never really that simple though, was it?"
"I miss him," his eyes remained trained on the sky. They were an exceptional grey-flecked with grey and blue and stars.
"The heroin isn't going to help."
"But it stops it. The noise." He could see everything with such clarity. The blackest of black secrets lay out before him. All of their lives reflected in his eyes. It wasn't life. It was just data. Dull. Bleak. Boring. Delete. Delete. Delete. The man over there, 47, three, no, four children. Cheating on his wife. Woman in the coffee shop, recently lost her son-Timothy, maybe Terrence. Continuous, never ending. He could never turn it off. It was worse in the crowded places. So many people. So much data.
His head would begin to pound. His eyelids would clamp against each other, swimming through the sea of facts, fishing out what was important. The crowds engulfed him as his mind raced.
It was the same process, over and over again. He could see their whole life in a few glances and then it was gone. Words flashed in his head. Sirens and statistics. Numbers. Records. Ages. Dates. Screaming. Snarling. Snagging. Screeching.
Silence. "Do you hear it too?"
"John could stop it."
"Drugs can't replace him, Sherlock. You know that," he held out his hand. Mycroft was a rock. Steady, solid, stubborn. Unmovable.
"I'd rather stay here, thanks."
"I'm not watching you destroy yourself all over again..."
"Then go. No one's forcing you to stay,"
"I can't just leave you here, Sherlock," sprawled backwards like that, he already looked like he was in his grave. Rotting down on his throne of decay, the death of Sherlock Holmes was always going to end in drama. It wouldn't be a death where he would just quietly fade away, no; it had to be in a wildfire. "Please, leave."
"Now. Don't even try and think for one moment that you could help me. Just run along and sort out the nation. You can't stay away from the office or the Diogenes Club for more than ten minutes."
A haughty breath inwards hung in the air. Twisting on the heel, the expensive shoes stalked away. The detective just stayed. Stars winked at him, they stayed too. Stayed until the exceptional grey began to fade.
It took three hours for Mycroft to get the call. A further ten minutes to reach the hospital. To see Sherlock. But he wasn't Sherlock any more, he was just the body.