A/N Happy Valentine's Day! So I thought I ought to post something for this special occasion, and what I end up with is a suicidal post-Reichenbach angst fic. Wonderful. I am actually very happy with this piece, though, so please review and tell me what you've thought. Also, keep in mind that there are some pretty heavy Doctor Who references in here, so if you don't watch it, just bear with me for that section. I can't help but think of John as a bit of a Whovian. Warnings for this fic include moderate to heavy swearing, suicide, depression, and mild homosexuality (but does a bit of Sherlock/John even count as such?). Enjoy, and, again, please do review! *Edit 4/4/12: Now a two-shot! Please review the next chapter! :3
Rated T for death and language
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock or any associated characters, events, etc.
The skull hasn't moved. It remains in place, shimmering with dust that its master never would have allowed on it in such quantities, where it's always been, always, excepting the brief time after my arrival when Mrs. Hudson removed it, confiscated it for a brief enough period—it had reappeared the next morning.
Well, I say friend…
Every thought in my head seems to set off his voice, like a burglar alarm, like a smoke alarm, like any sort of alarm, a plea for help that no one's going to give me, because there's no one to give it. No one, not really. I can't let a single thought dash through my mind that isn't linked to him, that doesn't carry him with it, a thick, foggy whisper of thin smirks and blue scarves and long coats and pale eyes, blue or grey or green depending on their mood and that of the lights illuminating them. His voice is so clear, fresh and stabbing, real and yet so, so imaginary every time his words flit through my brain.
Mrs. Hudson took away my skull.
I confiscate it.
You can turn that off, now, John.
I meant what I said, John.
John, you are amazing, you are fantastic…
John, John, John.
It's the only real question, the one that my mind insistently circles back to, time after time after time. Why? Why the hell would he do that? Was there not enough, was I not enough to keep him in place? It would seem that way.
An apology… it's all true.
"No." I don't realize that I'm saying the word until it's in the air, and I hardly recognize it as my voice, it's so faint. Only makes sense… I haven't spoken in a while, I realize. Not since… when? The last time Mrs. Hudson checked on me, I suppose. Can't recall when that was. Can't really recall anything but those final moments, that glow all too clearly in my mind.
That's what I said then, too. No.
I want you to tell Lestrade… I want you to tell Mrs. Hudson, and Molly… in fact, tell anyone who will listen that I created Moriarty, for my own purposes.
I don't know why the words are burned so vividly into my memory. Is it some kind of torture, some kind of punishment for a crime that I never realized I committed?
I didn't tell them, of course. Not Lestrade, not Mrs. Hudson, not Molly. None of them would have believed me, I don't think. None of them did believe Moriarty, as far as I know… not in the end. That was the public's view, but we knew him, we really knew him.
I really knew him.
I must have. I must have. No one can fake being such an annoying dick all the time. I wouldn't take that back now, not if I could, because it's damn true. I hated him sometimes. Most of the time, even. He was arrogant, he was obnoxious, he was a showoff and an insensitive jerk and an absolute asshole. He made every day a hardship, trying to drag through it after him, amending for his mistakes, treating him like my own child, when I needed to.
So why do I miss him so much?
I am angry. So angry. It makes sense, I suppose, for a selfish bastard, for him to end it in a way convenient only for himself. Were the things rooting him to life that weak? Did he really find it so… easy?
It certainly seems so.
It's all true.
It can't be true. I can't let it be true.
If it's true, I've lost the only damn thing I have to hold onto in this fucked-up mess of a world.
But, come to think of it, even that's been gone for a while at this point.
"You have to come back to work at some point, John. I don't want to pressure you, but… well… there are other people who might—who might, well, get sicker if they don't have a doctor. We're one short."
She does want to pressure me. Of course she does. She hates me, or at least that's what I think sometimes. After our breakup, she's been… icy. Breakup. It's oddly disrupting to realize that Sarah and I really were dating at one point—that, in fact, I thought she might be the one. The one woman who would become Mrs. Watson. Sarah Watson. The name had run through my mind so many times, but something about it had always seemed… off. It was too plain, too ordinary of a label. There are hundreds of Sarah Watsons in the world. That would be me, then, joining the crowd of Johns married to Sarahs. A normal man living in London. Leaving the flat. Leaving my life behind.
I never imagined that it would be stolen before I even got a chance to truly appreciate its madness.
"I know you miss him. And I'm sorry. Believe me when—when I say that."
My eyes widen, fixed on the windowpane, and the phone feels cold in my hand. I don't know what to say. It sounds like she's actually choking up, but it's probably some sort of ploy to get me to come, a method of sliding guilt in under my senses.
"You hated him."
"I… he was a good man," she replies, her voice muffled. Suddenly, she's too far away. Her voice is too static-filled over the invisible phone line, and for the millionth time, the flat is too empty, the tables too bare without his science equipment. It's all neat—no, not neat. There's no organization to it, just… a lack of anything, anything that really matters.
"He was," I agree quietly, simply. "He was the best man I ever knew. There was never anyone else like him. There's never going to be. It's all gone. Wasted. He wasted it himself."
"I'll be back next week." The words are dry in my mouth, like cotton or perhaps woodchips. Maybe the two combined. Gag-worthy. I'm not sure why I say them, just that I'm sick of her pestering me. My finger hits the button to end the call without really thinking and I turn around, not really directing my gaze. It falls upon the door to the stairs, the one that Lestrade came bounding through the very first day I moved in. That night… after Sherlock left in the taxi cab… the recollection of his triumphant, excited jump at the news of the fourth suicide sends a tremor of agony down my spine.
And someday, if we're very, very lucky, he might even be a good one.
Someday, huh, Greg?
That night is suddenly filling me, echoes and fragments. Seeing his back, his silhouette through the college windows. Seeing the pills, vivid, horrific pink speckles scattered in the clean whiteness.
Knowing what was going to happen.
I was able to stop it that time. The very beginning… it had all started with him about to kill himself. I prevented it, that time. I killed a man for him. It was very vivid in my mind—just the burning knowledge that I couldn't lose him, not so soon.
Eighteen months later.
Nothing to do that time.
His face, so pale, scarlet lines spidering across it like cracks in a perfect, snowy mask. A shattered identity. Broken. Irretrievable.
Something's blocking my throat, all of a sudden, and a furious stab hits me right between the eyes, so that I grimace and double over, a hand raised to my forehead, stumbling sideways to the couch, the action marred by the limp that I'd thought left me for good. I find myself slumping onto the leather, welcoming its softness, as everything's washed away from my brain, leaving just the ferocious white light of a migraine. His eyes are there, too, empty, so empty that not even ghosts haunt them. My eyes hurt like hell. I hiss in through my teeth, trying to orient myself, clinging onto my own arms, a firm grip, since there's nothing else to reach for anymore.
The first time I text him, I'm not actually thinking. I don't even consider the fact that his number isn't going to be reachable. I just pull out my phone, scroll down to his name, hit it, and I'm typing before it can cross my mind that I'm acting completely insane.
Why did you do it?
I don't sign the inquiry, just hit send.
The phone drops to my side, and I tilt my head backwards, sighing slowly, letting my eyes drift shut. Why. Why did you? I could have helped, you know. We were going to do it, Sherlock. You and I… we were going to bring Moriarty down together. Kill Rich Brook and bring back Jim Moriarty, remember? Don't you remember? You have to remember.
The unobtrusive beep of a text alert.
It's like there's no delay time at all—just out of nowhere, my palms are sweating, I can't move fast enough. My eyes are swimming in and out of focus, and my breath has accelerated to what must be a million miles an hour. Christ. There's no way. I'm letting myself get out of hand.
But I can see it—it is from him, dear God, I have to be dreaming, this isn't possible—
Words jump out at me, clearly outlined against the blur that's the solid block of text.
May have been temporarily… disconnected…
I should have known.
It's at times like this that the tears really come, when there's nothing reasonable to provoke them at all, nothing but hope. Maybe that's how these things work. It's not the actual misery that hurts so bad.
It's the brief, weak idea that there might be some happiness left in the world.
Why can't I accept that it's truly over?
"Rose Tyler, I…"
I'm sobbing. Jesus Christ, I'm sobbing. Actual, real sobs, so that it feels like my lungs are on fire, and I can't see through my tears, can't make out David Tennant and Billie Piper. I've seen this before, seen this episode, so many times it's surely in the double digits. Hell, I probably have it memorized. It's a sweet moment for any Doctor Who fan, and a rather heartbreaking one.
What a pathetic word.
Heart-shattering, heart-disintegrating, heart-destroying, heart-evaporating. Doctor Who. Sherlock never watched it with me. Thought it was stupid. It is stupid. So stupid. I love it so goddamn much.
Something in me twists, threatens to rip itself apart entirely. It's odd to realize that there's anything not already in tatters.
The Doctor and Rose Tyler. A classic love story. A sweet, silly, shallow and yet endlessly real love story. And this isn't it—"Doomsday," this isn't the final episode with the Cockney-accented blonde in it. My hands are already moving, somehow I'm gasping, working through the tears streaming down my face, shakily sliding in a DVD of Season 4, "Turn Left." It's only a few minutes in, huddled in a blanket with the Union Jack pillow clutched to my lap, that I realize that the Doctor dies in this episode.
Rose doesn't seem upset. She doesn't so much as shed a tear. She just says it's wrong. Blankly, to Donna. How it wasn't supposed to turn out this way.
Then she disappears again.
The episode ends, but I'm not done, because I've seen the expression on the Doctor's face, that wild, terrified hope that comes with Bad Wolf. Next one, "The Stolen Earth." Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister. She dies. Nobody cares, not really. The Doctor is shot by a Dalek. Rose is crying. He says he's regenerating; it's a lie. Even the audience knew that. Next episode. "Journey's End." Davros. The Daleks. Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones. Mickey, Martha, Jackie Tyler. Then it's ending already. Rose gets her own Doctor, a copy, she's kissing him now.
The unidentified something in my stomach twists harder.
And then back to the Doctor. Everyone's leaving him, all of his pretty companions, and he's alone again. He's always alone. Always so alone. The credits end and the flat goes dark, the last note of the electric theme tune still buzzing in my mind. Silence is pressing in from all sides. I glance down at my watch, squint through the blackness, see that it's well past midnight. I can't go to bed, though, because bed is more nothingness. The tears caused from Rose's departure nearly three hours ago are dry and sticky on my cheeks, holding my eyelashes together, and my face feels hot. I'll be exhausted in the morning, but that doesn't matter. My hands move aimlessly through my stack of box sets, searching for a season finale that doesn't end in the Doctor being alone. Season 5, Matt Smith, "The Big Bang." It's playing now, and I try to focus on it, but something's off. It's the Eleventh Doctor. He's worse than the Tenth.
He's more like Sherlock.
The dark hair, the cheekbones, the pale skin. The brilliant, enthusiastic madness. He's so inhuman—the opposite of the consulting detective in some ways, and yet there's something about him… I think that I told Sherlock at some point that he was like the Doctor. I can't remember his reaction, not exactly, but I'm sure it involved scoffing, eye-rolling. Please don't associate me with an overacted extraterrestrial from a cliché science fiction series, John. Something like that.
It's 2:37. My eyes are burning with exhaustion.
Silence and darkness wait for me upstairs.
I put in the first disc of Season 6.
"John… I'm sorry."
My sister's voice doesn't belong to her. It's actually gentle instead of brash and callous, almost genuinely sorrowful though she never even met Sherlock. She has no reason to mourn. She's lucky.
"No, you're not," I mutter. I'm staring straight at her image on my computer screen, knowing that my gaze is off from her end. She's gazing directly at the webcam, though, so that it feels rather like she can actually see me, and not some pixelated image. Her eyes are darker than mine, more hazel, less blue. She looks bad, too—definitely not off the booze, as Sherlock most definitely would've been kind enough to point out.
"You're not yourself when you're sad."
"Yes. I am. This is me, Harry. Right here. This is what I am. This is what he's turned me into. You should hate him more than you already do. Don't be sad. God knows that I'm miserable enough for both of us."
She hesitates for a second, biting her lip in a characteristic nervous trait that she's possessed since childhood. "Did you—ever consider that, well, you know… to be this, well, wrecked… I think he might have been more than a friend to you, John," she finally gets out, rushing the words but keeping a determined glint in her eye. "And I know you don't like to think about it that way, but—"
"It was never like that," I sigh, faint exasperation filling the gap in my chest in an empty way, like a mist, a transparent fog. "We were close, but not like that, alright?"
"John… all your life you've been attracted to women, I know that, but please think for a second—"
I don't want to think. I've had too much time to think, far too much, and I'm done with it. I'm done thinking. Thinking just hurts. I know that now.
People say that deaths grow less painful after a while. I guess that they just learn to block things out somehow, because there's no way in hell that this has been improving. And now Harry's words are like ripping the wound open all over again, because I realize that I don't even know whether or not the denial coming out of my mouth is true.
I have no idea what he was to me.
Now I never will.
I miss you.
I wish that we could have had a little longer. Or maybe a lifetime longer.
It's empty without you.
The texts are becoming more and more frequent, and I've almost forgotten that they actually cost me money. It doesn't matter. Money doesn't matter at all. Going to work has been an off-and-on thing for me, and lots of the clothes I wear are a couple of years old, or at the very least bought secondhand. I think Mrs. Hudson is lowering the rent—something on the bills seems off, but I can't quite put a finger on it. Maybe I'm losing my mind. It does seem harder to focus on things, and I've noticed the looks that people send my way.
They're afraid of me, in a way. Intimidated by my loneliness. I can't understand why humans are made to function that way. Shouldn't it be the opposite? Shouldn't my predicament invite sympathy? Apparently not. Others—others who are happy, content, even, like I used to be—they don't want to poison themselves with my imperfection.
The hit counter on the blog is fixed. It just sort of happened one day. No one visits it anymore, though. I guess we were just a passing fad.
No one remembers you anymore, Sherlock.
I always get the same response, of course. Just those few lines, telling me that his number has been disconnected. It doesn't exist anymore, just like him. He went out without resolving himself—now everyone believes he was a fake, even Harry, though she denies it. Even Sarah. Even Mike Stamford and Bill Murray, even Donovan and Anderson and Lestrade. More like of course Donovan and Anderson and Lestrade.
Mycroft and I haven't spoken since it happened. It was his fault, in the end, for giving Moriarty access to Sherlock's childhood. I hate the bastard. He deserved his brother's fate. He still does.
I still believe in you. I never stopped.
I check every time that I get a return text, even though I know what it's going to be. There's some hope inside of me, somehow. It just refuses to leave. I wish that I could get rid of it, throw it all out into the dark, watch it get run over by cars and cabs, dissolve into the smoky fog of London and vanish like an unheard whisper in the emotionless night.
"Did you doubt him, Greg?"
It's a stupid question, but it had to be asked. This morning, I woke up with it flaming in my mind, insistent. I rode a cab to Scotland Yard just to get the answer in person, to be able to see the Detective Inspector's eyes as he spoke it, tell if he was lying or not. Sherlock's taught me how to detect a lie. I'll never be as brilliant at it as him, though.
"John…" His face is dark, pained, like a kicked puppy, and I can tell that he's been trying to block the whole thing from his mind. Trying to block the memory of Sherlock. It's been two months; I don't blame him. It's not leaving me, though. I'm plagued by it every single second of the day, and I don't want to be alone in that.
"Tell me. In the end… did you think he was a fraud? And don't just say yes or no, really think about it. Please." My knuckles are white, gripping the edge of his desk far too hard. He takes a slow breath, raises a hand and massages his temples.
"I don't know, John. I want to think he was real—what can I say, he was a brilliant bloke, when you really got down to it—but I don't see why he would have—you know… if not because he'd been exposed."
"Killed himself, you mean." My voice is stone cold. "Took a fucking plunge off the bloody roof, didn't he?"
"It was Moriarty. I don't know how, but I swear to God that it was Moriarty who made him do it. Sherlock would never commit suicide. Never. And he wasn't fake. I knew him, I know I did. I knew him better than anyone."
"We all thought we did."
"No. You didn't. You were his coworker. That was it. He never cared about you. Not really." I don't know why I'm saying this, but I think I want to cause him pain. Punish him for daring to not believe, to not believe in the most real, wonderful, fantastic man ever to walk the earth.
"It's your fault." I say it with ice in my words as well as my intentions, and I can see each syllable strike him with almost physical pain. His mouth drops open in a mix of indignation and guilt, but I don't give him time to speak, just spit my own thoughts out. "People like you. He trusted you, but you betrayed him, you turned on him. It's all because of people like you that Moriarty was able to do something like this. If you'd believed in him… why couldn't you? Why couldn't you just hold onto the word of a man who has probably saved your life countless times? I… I know he has mine." My composure slips, just for an instant, but I don't allow it to last longer than that. "You're the worst of them all. You were his friend, Lestrade. And you bloody arrested him. You started this all. You."
I try to make it out the door before the tears come—angry tears, not sad ones—but I can tell by Sally Donovan's tight-jawed expression that I fail.
I'm facing the Thames, standing on a dirty beach, slowly breathing in the scentless breeze that wafts from the crests of the small waves. It's fresh, pleasant, even though I know that the river is truly filled with the most putrid of things. My hair is ruffled, just slightly, and I'm cool but not overly chilled.
Long fingers wrap themselves around my wrist.
I want to clutch back at them, but I'm too afraid that they'll dissolve if I attempt to do so. The temptation to turn around, to face him, is nearly overpowering, but I manage to hold back, focusing instead on the blurred outlines of birds soaring over the water. His touch is so light, so tender, absolutely perfect and yet nowhere near enough. It's like a drug—a tiny taste is exquisite, and though I know that more will do nothing but poison me, I can't help but desire it with all of my being.
I turn, look at him.
His face is cracked. Divided into thousands of little shards by infinite, crisscrossing branches and threads of blood—I know it's blood, even though it's blacker than pitch. His eyes are blank, staring, not the beautiful silver-green that I remember but instead a flat rock-grey, completely dead. I'm revolted, terrified, and yet somehow enraptured, because this is the most vivid I've seen him since it happened. His eyelashes, his hairline, the curve of his jaw—they're all crusted and matted with gore, and yet it's the precise profile of his face, and I have no choice but to gaze at it in trapped, horrified wonder.
His stained lips part, like they're trying to voice my name, but no sound comes out. Instead, a great chunk of flesh slowly peels off of his cheek, leaving half of a skeletal leer behind. Everything's fading into stark black and white, shaky pencil lines, like eerie illustrations from a book of ghost stories. He's decaying before me, and I can't feel his hand on mine anymore, can only see him collapsing, folding in on himself, becoming a pile of dust that, instants later, is nothing.
I'm falling, onto the ground, screaming for him over and over, pleading that he come back, cracked and destroyed as he was.
"Sherlock! Oh, God, Sherlock, please, please… please come back!"
When I wake up, I'm frozen. The sweat-stained sheets bunched around me provide no warmth. I'm shaking, shaking harder than I ever have in my life, and I turn around, twisting onto my side, reaching out for a pillow and pulling it to myself, pressing my face into it and filling it with disgusting, wretched sobs.
It's the sixty-fourth night like this.
I never even realized I was counting.
I don't know how long it's been since I've looked at myself in the mirror, but it's amazing how much of a wreck I am. John Watson, ex-army doctor.
My hair is overgrown, stubble from where I haven't shaved for a few days, greasy blonde strands hanging in my eyes and purplish shadows underlying them. My eyes themselves—they're wide, too wide, and still, as though I'm trying to have a staring contest with myself. First one to blink gives a shit about the world. I could probably hold out on that one forever, if I had to. I watch my own disgusting face as intensely as possible, until moisture begins to well up in my eyes and I'm forced to squeeze them shut. The darkness is never a relief. Just gives me an opportunity to see him again, more clearly. The last thing I need.
I look mad. Poor. Unwanted. Like a schizophrenic beggar on the streets.
I can't remember the last time I shaved, took a shower, went out to get the groceries. I have a vague idea that Mrs. Hudson's been doing most of the shopping for me. I've never thanked her. Never spoken to her. Never spoken to anyone, for at least a week now. I wonder if I can still speak.
I try, and the thing to come out is his name.
It's weak. Too weak, dry, cracked, almost squeaking. A sad excuse, a voice not worthy of those two wonderful syllables.
He's all I can think about.
It hasn't gotten better, it's gotten worse. He's changed in my mind, become some sort of angel, an infinitely good thing that he never was in reality, and for God's sake, I can't get it out of my head just how damn beautiful his eyes were.
Four months, now. He's rotted away by now. Those eyes are gone, for good.
Like they weren't already.
I wonder if Harry was right, sometimes. If all of them were right. About us. I'm not attracted to men as a gender, never have been. I'm positive of that much, absolutely positive.
I'm also positive that I loved Sherlock Holmes more than any other man or woman I've ever known, or ever will know.
My head falls forward, hits the mirror with such force that a resounding crack rings through the air, though the splintered shards don't fall out of the frame, don't cut me. My eyes are closed, hiding from myself. Something warm runs down my chin.
Maybe I'm crying again, or maybe the broken glass did do damage after all.
I can't tell the difference anymore.
I'm on the rooftop, and everything's clear again.
I can't quite recall how I got here—in fact, everything's muddled, really, everything since last time, that last instant when I stood across the street from here, phone in my hand, watching him. It's like the past six months never existed, like I jumped somehow from then to now. It's a few paces to the edge, and I close them eagerly, raising myself onto the very edge in an almost bouncy fashion despite my heavier-than-ever limp. I haven't felt this confident in ages.
This is it.
Time for the end.
My hand slips into my pocket, pulls out my mobile phone. The scratched casing, part of what led Sherlock to deduce that I had a drunkard for a sister, glints in the unfairly bright sunlight. It gets in my eyes, and I squint, adjusting the angle so that I can see it clearly.
There we go.
He called me. The best I can do is text him.
So I do, my hands shaking slightly—select his name from my list of contacts like I have so many times over the last two years now. Eighteen months with, six without. I've learned that it doesn't get any better.
I've thought a lot about everything I could say to him. All the apologies, the wishes, the regrets, the hopes. But none of them really matter. None of them express the single thing that's clearest in my mind right now, that burns with the utmost intensity. The letters flow out from under my fingers, very slow and yet entirely steady.
I'm sorry. I love you. –JW
That's all it needs. I'm ready. With a long, final inhalation, I grip the phone as tightly as I can, letting my arms extend—just lifting lightly, as though I'm going to take a draft of wind and carry myself away from all this.
Which I am.
My stomach clenches as I fall, but it's a reflex, it means nothing, because I'm not regretting this, not at all. There's wind in my hair, all around me, and I feel so alive, so absolutely exhilarated. This is it. Right here, right now. I've made my decision.
I'm joining you, Sher—
The body of Dr. John Watson, 38, was found at the sidewalk outside of St Bartholomew's Hospital this morning. It's apparent that his death was an intentional one, quite possibly connected to that of his former flatmate, Sherlock Holmes, who committed suicide in the exact same manner six months ago.
Dr. Watson will be missed by his friends and the medical community alike, both of which he was immensely valuable to.
Though his specific confidant is unknown, it appears that he did tell at least one other of his intentions, for his miraculously unbroken mobile phone (held in the body's hand) received a text message moments after he hit the ground, according to bystanders. The contact, listed under the name Sherlock Holmes (though, of course, it's impossible that it could have been his late associate), had sent him a single cryptic word: "WAIT."