Update - No idea where this story went or what happened to it but here we go again. To the small group of you who reviewed it before it left the premises, thank you. I have no idea what you said so I can't respond, but thanks. I'm sorry. :o)
Author's Note/Warnings – This takes place three years after the episode The Reichenbach Fall and there are spoilers for that episode to follow. There are also references to the rest of the series, including series 2. If you don't want to know what happens, don't read this. This will also eventually be a slash story between John and Sherlock, there will be adult interactions. If you don't like that skip it. Other than that, hopefully you will enjoy it. This is generally separate from the vague universe I've created with my other stories so it will not tie to them in anyway. The title is taken from a poem by Christopher Logue. It's a great poem, has the same title. Read it now.
Disclaimer – I own very little, but you can have it if you want it.
Once again thanks to ScopesMonkey for being my beta, my cheerleader, and my friend. Trust me, without her things like this would never see the light of day.
Come to the Edge...
John didn't turn his head, keeping his attention on the granite table in front of him. It was clearly one slab of rock and was too big for the small conference room. It had obviously been very expensive.
"Are we boring you, Dr. Watson?"
John looked up at that, eyeing the man across the table from him. He was Scottish, from Glasgow if John had to guess. He was wiry thin, too tall, too young. John hated him - for no good reason really. The man was just doing his job. Mary was sat next to him. Mary, beautiful, beautiful Mary. That should have been the first clue that this wasn't going to work. Mary was entirely too beautiful for him.
"Yes," he answered honestly. "I don't particularly want to do this." He sighed and the wiry Scot opened his mouth. John held up his hand, cutting him off. "I know it's necessary." John looked at the document in front of him, glancing over the list, but couldn't immediately figure out what item they were on. He looked up, glanced at the wiry Scot then at his own solicitor.
"The china," Mary said, pointing at the list. Her voice was quiet, as if telling John a secret. He saw concern in her eyes. She always worried about him, it was probably the reason that she'd stuck with him this long. John was somebody she could help, she could fix. She loved to take care of things.
"The china that was a wedding present from my client's mother," said the wiry Scot. John just shook his head. He remembered walking through the store, looking at countless plates and saucers. He hadn't cared, not even a little. But he'd gone along because it had been so important to Mary. He remembered the look her face when she stumbled upon the plates with the small purple flowers and the vines trailing across the edges. She'd been delighted, she'd loved them. John had happily agreed.
"They're estimated at–" John's own solicitor began. Everything had to be equal, everything had to balance out.
"She can have them," John interrupted, picking up his pen and making a note on the list. It didn't mean anything; he just wanted something to do with his hands.
"And in return?" her solicitor asked. John just shook his head. He met Mary's eyes, still seeing the concern there. She had her hair pulled back, a pony tail resting at the base of her skull. She was so pretty when it was down.
"She can have them all outright. She always loved them." He remembered watching her take the set out of the cabinet for Christmas and for birthdays, meticulously cleaning what would be used and setting them out with pride. "I don't want them."
He looked back down at the list, the next item was the dining room set. That had been another wedding present but he couldn't remember from whom. They'd eaten hundreds of meals at the table, together in the beginning, alone towards the end. They'd had sex on it once, a silly afternoon romp that Mary had giggled through. Almost every night afterwards, he'd seen the sweet knowing smile cross her face as she wiped the table down.
The memory made him smile and he looked at Mary again. He could see the look in those warm brown eyes, she was remembering the same thing. For a split second his heart ached, but it was dull and faded quickly. It was far too late.
"She can have it," he said. He looked at Mary, the concern was back. Mary, always worried. John offered her a smile and hoped it showed that he was fine, that she didn't need to worry about him anymore. He'd be all right. Her look didn't change and something sank in his chest. He looked back at the list.
He nodded again, deciding, and pushed the paper away. He looked at his solicitor, the small man who Harry swore was great at his job and wouldn't try to be ruthless. John had no complaints really, other than the fact that the man had no personality and couldn't understand a joke.
"John," Mary said, seeing something in him. He looked at her, smiled, and stood up.
"You can have it, Mary. You can have all of it, you deserve all of it." He looked back at his solicitor, the poor man appeared on the verge of a coronary. "Mr. Hamilton. I'm sorry, I know that you've been trying to do what's best for me. I just," he met every face in the room, "can't do this anymore. I was crap as a husband. She deserves better."
"John," Mary said again, standing this time. She reached across the table, an aborted gesture to connect with him. He smiled at the pale, perfectly manicured hand lying against the dark granite.
"It's fine, Mary. I have my clothes and my few personal items. I can get a new flat, or maybe move out of London. I've been thinking about that. Don't worry about me." He offered a hand to her solicitor who looked as if he'd won some sort of lottery. The wiry Scot stood as he shook it.
His solicitor had stood and John shook his hand as well. He looked back at Mary. "I'm sorry," he said, holding her eyes for just a moment before turning and pushing the glass door open, heading towards the lifts. He stared up at the counter, vaguely noting how many floor were between him and the lift. He was ready to go, the anxiousness to get out of the building itching just underneath his skin.
He got that feeling a lot now, the itch to go, to do something. He always half expected the feeling to dissipate, but it never had. He hated it, hated the way it made him feel. Therapy certainly hadn't eliminated it. He'd stopped going a year ago. Another two years wasted in a room with that woman. That had probably been the beginning of the end of his marriage. No, that was wrong - getting married had been the beginning of the end of his marriage.
He never should have done it. Mary had certainly deserved better.
"John?" He turned toward the familiar voice and watched as Mary closed the distance between them. She was looking worried still, and she reached out to touch his upper arm. "You don't have to do this. I don't need it all. We can sell it."
John brought his arm up and placed a hand on her waist. "No," he smiled. "Keep it. Or if you want to, sell it. You like it all, loved some of it. It's okay, really. I'll be fine."
She shook her head and brought her other hand up to cup his cheek, "I don't think you've been fine the entire time I've known you." She frowned, sympathy apparent in her fine features. She leaned over and placed a kiss on his cheek. He smelled her, that slightly sweet scent that was so beautifully Mary. He ached for her again, missed her. But he'd never really had her.
She pulled back as the lift door opened. "Please call me," she said. "If you need anything John, anything. I'll happily give you some-" she paused. She was going to say money, John knew. At times it had been a point of contention between them. He had none, except what he earned, and she had tons, plus what she earned. She took another step back and nodded. "Please just call me if you need anything. Please."
"I will," he lied and stepped into the lift. Mary stood in front of the doors as they closed and they watched each other. John waited until the car started to descend to lean back against the wall, close his eyes, and let the weight of his failure sink in.
In a flash he thought of Sherlock and pushed it away. He couldn't blame this on Sherlock's death. It had been three years, three long and horrible years. His marriage had nothing to do with Sherlock. When the doors opened he stepped through the lobby and out onto the street. It was a beautiful day, an absolutely beautiful day. John took a deep breath and walked away.
John smiled at the kid behind the counter, Mark, who grinned back and moved out of the way as John grabbed a styrofoam cup and poured himself some coffee. He selected one of the blueberry pastries from the display and sat down.
"How're your studies going?" he asked and the younger man smiled.
"Good. I'm thinking about applying to a program to do post-graduate work at M.I.T. in America." John nodded.
"That'd be exciting."
Mark smiled again as he wiped down the counter by the register. John took a sip of the coffee and watched the young man work.
Mrs. Hudson had hired him a year ago when she bought the café. She said it was because he reminded her of Sherlock. John didn't see it. Mark was incredibly intelligent, far above average, but not at the genius level by any means. Yes, he was tall and thin with dark curly hair, but he was clumsy and awkward in his body. Sherlock had never been that way. Every single one of the detective's movements had been smooth, thought out. John didn't know if Sherlock had been awkward when he'd been younger, but he didn't see Mark growing into himself. He had the look of a stumbling adult already. But he made Mrs. Hudson happy, and that made John happy, or as close to it as he got these days.
"Mark, dear," came a voice from the back of the store. John smiled, feeling a swell of warmth for the first time days. "I need you to run– JOHN!" A huge grin spread across her face as she spotted him and he stood. He placed a kiss in her hair as she wrapped her arms around him and held tightly.
"Hi, Mrs. Hudson," he said, enjoying the familiarity of her. He saw her frequently but he missed her every day presence, more than he could say, especially now. She pulled back after a second and offered him a quick smile and a pat on the bum before turning back to Mark.
"Dear, can you run up to Tesco for me?" She handed him a piece of paper that he took with a nodded. He pulled his apron off and was out the door in a second. John smiled, watching him amble down the street. He sat back in his chair and Mrs. Hudson sat across from him.
They stayed silent for a long few minutes, John slowly sipping his coffee. He could feel Mrs. Hudson sneaking glances at him, wanting to ask, but not knowing if the questions would be welcome.
"I let her have everything," John said after a minute. He looked over at Mrs. Hudson and watched the shock at being figured out and the shock at what he'd said sink in. He smiled at her, picking up the pastry and taking a bite. "I didn't need any of it or really want any of it. If she can find a bit of happiness in it then she should have it. She deserves that. She deserves to be happy."
"So do you," Mrs. Hudson snapped. Her voice was unusually fierce. "So do you, John. So do you." She reached across the table and grabbed his wrist. "I thought you might find that with her. She's such a sweet girl."
John nodded, feeling a slight constricting in his throat. He looked away, for just a second, and then back.
"How are you feeling?" he asked. "Is your hip doing any better?" She eyed him for a moment and nodded.
"Yes, I've been resting as both my doctor and you suggested."
"Good," he said. "It's important that you listen to your doctor, and to me. We care about you." He stood to get some more coffee.
"You shouldn't drink so much of that stuff. It isn't good for you." He continued to pour it and took another sip. "You should listen to me," she said eyeing him across the counter. "I care about you."
He looked at her for a minute, smiled, and sat the cup down. He walked back around the counter and leaned down to give her a kiss. "I have to get to work. I'll call you tomorrow." He took a step towards the door when her voice filled the small space again.
"You can always move back in upstairs," she said. The words hung awkwardly between them for a minute. He swallowed and turned back to look at her, shaking his head, throat tightening at the thought. He hadn't been in the flat in years, since the funeral. He couldn't bring himself to. "You can't stay in that tiny place forever, John. It isn't healthy."
He shook his head again and looked away, staring out the window, across Baker Street. He'd looked at the same view countless times when he'd been on the flat above them. It hadn't changed at all. He missed it but he couldn't live here again. It was too much. "I can't," he said. He looked back at her, opened his mouth and then closed it again. He shook his head and walked out the door.
Mrs. Hudson stood at the window, watching John leave. She missed him - not just seeing him every day, but the man he used to be. She'd lost both of her boys to the same tragedy, one of them physically and the other in every other way.
She'd hoped Mary would help with that, but it had been an unrealistic expectation. Her heart ached for him. He walked out of her view and she watched for just another second before turning and heading to the back of the store.
She heard the bell above the door ring as she opened a cabinet to remove some supplies. "Just a minute," she called out and set the items on the counter. She wiped her hands together as she walked out of the backroom and looked up. "How can I help–" She stopped, staring wide-eyed at the man in front of her, then took a step towards him, a hand reaching out. Another step and her knee gave way; she hit the floor and managed to look up as the man moved to stand above her.
"Mrs. Hudson?" he said, the concern apparent. She stared at him for just a second before the world went black and she fainted.