A/N: Something about putting the supernatural element into Sherlock makes it so much fun. Enjoy!
All Sherlock could feel was pain (oh so excruciating pain) as his lungs burned in chlorine.
He could faintly remember a mass of body flying at him, pushing him into the pool, just seconds ago. But he had been too focused on the sight ahead at the time - too focused on the consulting criminal in front of him -, determined to verify Moriarty's death with his own two eyes, to notice anything else.
What had happened afterwards? What was happening now?
Sherlock struggled to find his way out of the murky mess that was his mind. He scoured hard though his mental faculties, weaving through room after room of his mind palace, dodging lines of error codes and blaring emergency alarms, to locate the elusive reboot button hidden away.
His head spun and whirled in colours of hurt, letting stray words echo disconnected and uncoordinated, with no sense of present or past. Sherlock's brilliant brain tried to make sense of it all, but the whole of his body and mind seemed to be rebelling him. Still, he tried and tried, because even though he couldn't remember, he knew there was something important out there. There was something - someone? - relying on him.
Time drifted onwards, urgently, yet detachedly.
Then, just when Sherlock finally thought he was getting the hang of his mental functions once more, the entire world around him fell abruptly silent (so unearthly silent).
His brain halted, overthrown by his instinctive fight-or-flight response.
His limbs tugged and flailed, but they felt constricted, confined by the unseen and unfeeling. What was going on? Where was he? Everything felt wrong, wrong, wrong...
And then, suddenly, the world beneath him fell.
Sherlock jolted upwards, and his eyes snapped open like a gasping breath. His eyelids finally forced apart to take in stimuli - only to be greeted with the horrifying sight of a crumbling pool.
The scene wavered as Sherlock took a shuttering gasp. Reality and realisation hit the detective. It was only then that the source of the wrongness became apparent.
Slowly, the consulting detective dropped his gaze to his fingers (his transparent ghostly fingers) in shock and amazement. Then he looked lower to his helplessly kicking legs, floating unhindered, several feet above the ground. His heart (wait, did he still have one?) sped in fear as he stared down at the pool, free from the constraints of physics and gravity.
"... No ..." the words whispered through his lips.
But it clearly wasn't, because Sherlock himself was experiencing it right now, and he was never one to discard any information he saw with his own two eyes, no matter how improbable it seemed.
Ghosts did exist!
The absurdity of the being proven wrong about such a supernatural phenomenon astonished Sherlock to no end, and he should've been delighted, intrigued, exhilarated, but all he could think of at that moment was how much he hated it. Because if he was here, dead, then ... John ...
Icy eyes flickered wildly around the pool side, searching desperately for signs of life. Suddenly, they narrowed and focused under a deceptively inhabitable tower of plaster. With a single push off the air, Sherlock drifted towards the ground.
Even before he landed, his fingers were already reached out, frantic to attack the debris. But ghostly fingers on a ghostly hand could do no damage to the physical world. No matter how much Sherlock clawed and clawed, mass and matter did nothing more but pass through Sherlock like whispers of air.
"No, no, no." He hated, hated this.
The supernatural was stupid and useless, so why did people find so much delight in it? What good was he as a spectre when he was unable to do anything but watch and stare, and only hope the good doctor could get himself out?
Around him, the poolside grew nosier as policemen, alerted by the loud explosion, scrambled onto the scene.
"Over here!" Sherlock shouted, unheard as he'd expected. But he had to be heard. He needed to be heard. Because below where his ghostly body was floating, he'd seen movement and small tremors, as though there was a conscious body moving underneath.
He saw John.
And he'd be damned if the doctor lost his life for his game. Sherlock was no hero because that was John's role. And John; John could not die. Not like this.
"Listen to me, you ignorant buffoons," Sherlock snarled, flying circles around the useless members of the yard, "John is over there! Listen for once in your pathetic little lives!"
"Sherlock!" a new, familiar voice cried over the driveling lot.
Sherlock spun around, an illogical feeling of relief flooding through his veins. But the Detective Inspector wasn't looking at him. The DI couldn't hear him either. The greying man was looking frantically around the ruins of the pool, using his rank to bully the men (not the Inspector's own lot, Sherlock noticed subconsciously) to let him through.
The man likely read the incriminating post on his website, no doubt.
"There's someone over here!" A voice finally shouted from beside Sherlock. The unnamed policeman kneeled beside a waving, pale hand protruding between cracks of granite.
"Help me," a weakly hoarse, and rasping voice echoed from inside.
Guilt erupted inside of him as Sherlock stared worriedly, watching men pull huge chunks of rock to clear John's path. Lestrade scrambled his way over, trying hard not to step on anything (God knows where Sherlock was buried under).
"Dr. Watson! John! Can you hear me?" His hands reached for John, helping steady doctor up, and gently guided the man towards the paramedics outside.
Sherlock watched as his flatmate, his doctor, his friend, resist and refuse. "Sherlock," he loyally repeated in that dry, hoarse whisper of his. His eyes were wide and flickering.
"We'll find him," Lestrade promised.
"No … Sherlock," John whispered insistently.
The consulting detective had a distinct feeling John was looking at him when the soldier's dazed brown eyes locked onto his relative area (but how was that possible?). Then, Sherlock quickly brushed off the though before it could take root; it wasn't even probable and he honestly should stop trying to delude himself with false hope.
The cold hard fact was that he would never be seen or heard ever again.
And while Sherlock had been drowning in his thoughts, Lestrade had already managed to maneuver John towards the half-standing entrance. "We'll find Sherlock, and he'll be just fine," the DI murmured consolingly to John.
Sherlock couldn't even conjure up the spirit to scoff at Lestrade for being wrong as always. All he could do was stare at the living (oh God, John was alive and safe!) form of John Watson, and follow the man dutifully out.
Ghost Sherlock stared as John continuously tried to shrug off his blanket and worm his way out of the paramedic's hands.
"I'm fine," he repeated, over and over, his voice building up volume and strength each time. "I need to get Sherlock …"
"John, we'll find him," Lestrade stated, as he did every other time. The DI's nervous twitches gave away his fears, despite his confident tone, but Sherlock doubted John noticed them. "Let the professionals do their work."
"There's another one here!" a voice called.
Lestrade bolted up, eyes wide with relief. "See?" he cried, rushing over to where the men were hauling the body out. John stayed strangely still as he sent a pitying look at the DI's rushing form.
"Get the paramedics!" voices yelled. Men and women surrounded Sherlock's body, trying hard to save - or rather, trying to detect even a feeble sign of life.
Sherlock held himself back from his morbid curiosity, opting to keep John company (that's why friends were supposed to do, right?) rather than to study his own dead body. John's pace was slow as he made his way up, eyes trained between the gaps of the surrounding paramedics in order to gaze upon Sherlock's cold, pale form.
"Don't worry," the doctor whispered quietly, but to whom he was talking to, no one knew.
Sherlock watched mutely as the rushing movements of the paramedics died down, left with no further choice but to pronounce him dead (hadn't that been obvious from the beginning?). Lestrade clutched helplessly onto his lifeless hand, tears clung to his lashes.
Apologies were offered to the DI, low and quiet, as no one was willing to interrupt the solemn atmosphere. That is, until a sharp voice cut through it all.
Heads whipped around, facing the bruised soldier strolling towards them, limp suddenly nonexistent.
"John…" Lestrade began.
"He's not dead," John stated firmly.
Around him, the paramedics, officers, and rescue team, shook their heads, assuming the man was in shock and denial. But Sherlock could see the utter determination and confidence in John's brown eyes – completely free from any signs of confusion or doubt.
"John, you have to accept it; Sherlock's gone. He's not breathing. He has no pulse," Lestrade reasoned rationally, even as he ached not to believe it himself.
John Watson was unyielding. "I'm a doctor. I know," the man said, swiftly elbowing people out of the way as he kneeled down beside Sherlock. "He's not dead."
"Doctor Watson -"
"Sherlock Holmes chose me to be his assistant for a reason. I know what I'm saying. He's not dead!" the doctor's voice declared, growing louder and sterner with each word. Furious eyes focused on the Inspector, daring the man to contradict him.
"You're too aggravated," Lestrade murmured softly, "It's clouding your mind. And you just got out of the rubble yourself. We should get you to the hospital for a quick check up."
"We're going home," John interrupted abruptly, arms wrapped around the consulting detective's limp body. "We're going home."
"You can't bring Sherlock back to Baker Street with you."
"I can and I will," the doctor called out resolutely, turning his back to the DI.
"What would Mrs. Hudson say? Don't scare the poor woman," Lestrade protested.
"She'll welcome us home," John stated, voice calm as ever. "And after a good night's sleep, we'll both gather in the living room with her to retell tonight's fanatical tale."
Old, grave eyes of Lestrade's closed in pain, knowing there was nothing he could say to change the doctor's mind.
"I'm dead, John," Sherlock whispered. "Accept it."
John tightened his grip around the body, burying his head into Sherlock's chest. "You're not dead," John whispered throatily into the dusty coat, and then he lifted his head and glared once more at everyone around him. John rose a second later, his legs wobbling as he pulled the body up and took steady steps towards the road. He blatantly ignored all the pitying glances sent his way.
"John," Sherlock called at the man's back, voice pleading, "Listen to the Inspector. Don't do this."
"Come along, Sherlock," John said out loud, undaunted. He hooked his arm around Sherlock's waist (of that empty, hollow body), half-dragging the man as he hailed a cab. "Remind me to throw your scarf into the wash when we get back to the flat, won't you? It's gotten quite filthy," he murmured nonchalantly, patting Sherlock's tattered scarf in place.
"Turn around. Just leave me. No one's going to stop for a filthy man and a dead body," Sherlock urged, floating worried circles around the dust coated doctor and his former self.
From the corner of his eye, Sherlock could see Mycroft standing off to the side, frozen unnaturally, hand gripping his umbrella.
"Mycroft's here," Sherlock said, half-hoping John would - could - just listen to him. "Forget my body and get a ride from Mycroft. His vans are more comfortable than a cab. Less stares."
John ignored him (what else did he expect?), eyes fixed down the road, focused intently on hailing their ride.
Sherlock took another glance at his brother who was speaking quietly with the Detective Inspector now, in low murmured voices. The man looked over at John (at them) with disappointed eyes and a displeased shake of his head. Anger and stubbornness suddenly coursed through Sherlock. "On second thought, forget Mycroft. Get a cab," the ghost snapped, "There probably won't be enough room for you. Mycroft's been skipping out on his diet again."
A thin, wirily grin appeared on John's face at Sherlock's words.
Or more likely it was meant for the cab that pulled up right at that moment. But Sherlock could always pretend, couldn't he?
"Come on, let's get in," John said unnecessarily. He carefully nudged Sherlock's body into the backseat before climbing in himself. "221 Baker Street, please." He buckled Sherlock's seatbelt for him.
"Is he alright, sir?" the cabbie asked, eyes slanted into a nervous stare.
"Just unconscious," John lied.
"I'm dead," Sherlock corrected, but as expected, no one reacted to his words.
The cabbie nodded, if not a bit uncertain, but started the car.
They elapsed in silence before John turned towards Sherlock's body (and Sherlock himself sitting beside it). "Well, today was an eventful day, wouldn't you say?" John spoke, talking as though he expected Sherlock to be listening. "I can't believe Jim was Moriarty. Had you fooled too, didn't he? I know you didn't spare him a second glace in the mo- "
As the words flowed from the doctor's mouth, Sherlock smiled softly, nodding, pretending he was actually alive and breathing beside John. Before he was truly gone, and his ghostly body was forced to disappear off to wherever the spirits were destined to go, all he wanted to do was burn this moment into his hard drive. This scene he'd taken for granted – John, his friend, talking, teasing him – he would never forget.
He refused to forget.
Sherlock closed his eyes and let his face lift into a contented smile, head nodding in agreement with everything the doctor said. It didn't matter what John was saying to him; he just let the conversation wrap around him like a safe blanket. One he hoped he could bring with him up there in the beyond.
(Not that he planned to leave his doctor any time soon - not if he could help it)
John dragged Sherlock out of the cab, digging into his tattered pockets and thankfully coming up with the cash for the ride. He pulled Sherlock alongside of him as he knocked weakly at the door, rousing Mrs. Hudson. When the old woman pulled the door open, she was treated to the shocking scene of her two dusty boys, leaning on each other for support.
"Sorry for the mess," John greeted, sounding as cheerful as he could manage on such an eventful day.
"What happened, dears?" Mrs. Hudson exclaimed. Her eyes focused on the limp form of the curly-haired detective, who hadn't stirred even once through the conversation. "Sherlock…" Mrs. Hudson began, voice shaking ever-so slightly, "Is Sherlock…"
John smiled politely. "He fell asleep in the cab," the doctor said dismissively, hauling Sherlock up the stairs to the flat with him. "I'll tell him to come down tomorrow to apologise for giving you such a shock," the doctor continued.
John didn't wait for an answer as he eased their flat door open and quickly stepped through.
"You shouldn't give her false hope," Sherlock whispered softly, watching Mrs. Hudson's worried face as he drifted behind his faithful doctor.
"I'm not giving her false hope," John said, answering Sherlock's comment, in an chillingly lucky coincidence. Even so, even a mere fluke was enough for Sherlock. Sherlock supposed pretending he was having a proper conversation with John was preferable to the sad knowledge that he was alone and unheard.
Sherlock floated to the ground beside John, pretending he was walking beside the doctor. "Of course you are," Sherlock ridiculed, trying to delude himself into thinking that this was just another day, yet another typical argument between them. "If you'd only looked at the facts, you'll see you can't deny the truth that I no longer inhabit that body in your arms."
John stopped abruptly at the door and Sherlock flew through him, unexpecting the sudden halt.
"Oh, now you decide to grace me with a conversation," John groused, staring Sherlock directly in the eye.
A chill of (amazement? alarm? disbelief? anxiety?) shock ran through the detective. Could John really…
Sherlock hesitantly stepped off to the right, fear of disappointment gnawing in the depths of his stomach. His icy blue eyes fixed intently on John's.
And John; good ol' John's focused brown eyes followed perfectly.
"You can see me," Sherlock whispered, awed, and oh so excited.
John rolled his eyes, but grinned playfully back at the taller man. "Of course. Who do you think I was talking to in the cab? Then again, it wasn't much of a conversation. A bit difficult when all you did was close your eyes, smile, and nod the whole time."
"You were talking to me?"
"Of course I was. Who else was there to talk to?" John asked with a low chuckle. "Some great detective you're turning out to be."
Sherlock looked on amazed, staring alternatively between himself and the hollow body now lying face up on their cozy living room couch. "But I'm dead, and that," he pointed at his body, "that should be the only thing you can see."
"I'm not crazy, you know," John said conversationally. "I don't talk to dead bodies; an empty shell obviously can't hear me."
"No," Sherlock scoffed, unable to help the feeling of glee bubbling inside (was there even an inside for ghosts?) of him, "You just talk to spectres." And he was oh so glad John did.
"Better than a skull," John grinned.
Sherlock rolled his eyes, "I deduce to the skull. I don't talk to him expecting to have a conversation."
John grinned and shrugged and looked at him. Sherlock didn't know when he had ever been so glad to have the eyes of people trained on his self. "How is this even possible? How can you see me?" Sherlock asked, voice coated with curiosity. "This is illogical - supernatural."
"I know," John said softly, face in his typical embarrassed grimace. "It is a gift; a curse; an art."
Sherlock's icy blue eyes gleamed in contemplation. "The dark arts – black arts," he deduced, hardly believing in his own words himself.
"I am a White Doctor; I can save the living from death. I am a Black Doctor; I can save the dead and give them life."
"A necromancer," the detective confirmed in awed disbelief.
"And you can save me," Sherlock said – stated – because it wasn't a question.
"Yes," John smiled. "I told them you weren't dead."
"Of course." And then John blinked.
When he opened his eyes, the first thing Sherlock noticed was John's blue-lit (when did it turn blue?) irises, circling pure white pupils. Bright speckled rings formed and glowed unnaturally (and oh so eerily) in John's eyes as the doctor turned towards the spectre.
"Shall we?" he asked, strangely collected. Sherlock nodded. John smiled. "Give me your hand," the doctor, the necromancer, demanded, holding his own out.
The moment Sherlock touched him, lights erupted in his head. Colours whirled in front of his eyes as the world faded into glowing lines. Sherlock could hear muttering or chanting from John, but nothing he could make out or even understand.
The only thing the consulting detective could focus on was the sudden warmth (oh, it seemed like so long since he'd been warm) that enveloped him, pulling and squeezing his wispy transparent body.
He didn't know what John was doing. He didn't know how John was doing it. But this was John, and Good Doctor, Bad Doctor, White Doctor, Black Doctor; he didn't care what it was. This was John, and he trusted John.
The room itself seemed to heave, trying desperately to contain John's dark magic within its walls. Raw power and unnatural winds invaded the room, making it their own. Shudders rattled, furniture wobbled, and the air was thick and vile. The world herself practically screamed out in agony at the outrageous turn of events, as John snatched back what earth tried to claim as her own.
And then there was silence (unnerving, complete and utter silence), and then black, black, black, black, black …
"Welcome home," a soft voice seemed to whisper in his skull. Or maybe it was just Sherlock's imagination.
The door pounded loudly, rousing both men up from their slumbers. John blearily rubbed his eyes, still feeling the drain from yesterday's ritual. "I'm up," he groaned out, loud enough for the person on the other side to hear. "Who is it?"
"I am here to collect my brother," Mycroft's posh voice replied, calm as always. "You've had your rest. I do hope you're capable of thinking clearly today. I assume you don't wish to have Sherlock decaying on your couch."
John looked up at the man's words, before turning to Sherlock (alive, alive, ALIVE!) who was already awake and irritated at his brother's words. A smile quirked on John's lips on its own accord.
All was right with the world once again.
"Are you planning to let me in?" Mycroft spoke, the rhythmical tapping of his umbrella sounding impatiently on the floor.
"Er, yes. A moment please," John called out, swiftly standing up. He paused for a second before turning towards his flatmate. "I'll put the kettle on," John volunteered softly, eyes twinkling in a sudden thought of amusement.
"Excellent," Sherlock nodded, face split into a smirking grin, "and I'll get the door."