Reichenbach, you kill me every time. I can't stop thinking of things to write. I'm so angsty I guess.
This lovely one-shot is inspired from texts from Sherlock. I found it on Tumblr though I can't remember the source. It said. "Followed you on the bus today. You thought you recognized me for a minute. I'll never forget that look on your face when realized it couldn't be me. I'm sorry. -SH" It is also inspired by Mary Elizabeth Frye's poem. I hope you like it. The two combined broke my heart. I hope this does it justice.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of it.
John is sitting on the train. He looks at his watch. He sighs. He doesn't care to take a cab anymore, since they are particularly lonely. He thinks the people on the train listening to their music, chatting, will hold him over. A bag is resting by his feet, a milk bottle is visible as well as some jam. He's wearing that gigantic cable knit sweater again. It almost swallows him up.
A man with high cheekbones and short blonde hair observes John Watson over his paper. Sherlock believes himself to be a very calculated man, besides being observant, thank you very much.
He knows when the traffic lights will turn red. He knows when the prices will go down at the supermarket. He even knew what train John would take. He stops staring at John and then down at his paper to distract himself. He was staring too long into the troubled, distant eyes of his old flatmate and his friend. He begins skimming the paper when he sees an article about himself. He can't believe the papers are still talking about him. This is old news. Granted, it's not a large article. His mouth twitches as his eyes scan the page. They were still including that ridiculous picture with that ridiculous deerstalker hat. Sherlock wonders if he should ask Molly to make a scrapbook for him, but he doesn't know if that's a little morbid.
That wasn't really the most morbid thing to think. He has done far worse. He had faked his own death and attended the funeral from a tree. That was the first time he had been checking up on John. Albeit for being a clever man, he was profoundly foolish that day. He had not dyed his hair or changed the way he held himself. He still wore the coat and the scarf. He was lucky that his friend did not see. He was lucky that John wore a veil of grief and could not see past the gravestone with his name.
He listened to the former Army Doctor beg for him to come back. "One more thing, one more miracle for me, don't be dead. Would you do that just for me? Stop this." Sherlock did not budge from his tree. "You were the best man, the most human, human being I've ever known and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie."
Anyway, his mind shuffles back to the present. He realizes that for being a very calculated man, he always forgets one thing in his equations or calculation - human interaction.
As Sherlock goes to check his watch, he catches John's reaction out of the corner of his eye, which he slightly planned to view while "checking" the time. Unfortunately, John has spotted this man with blonde hair who had been staring at him earlier. John blinks a couple times, hard. Sherlock notices he has started to bawl his hands into fists.
Sherlock is not fond of this new trait for John. His mouth twitches, human interaction. He always failed to include that into the equation.
Sherlock had dyed and cut his hair, worn brown contacts, but for whatever reason, he should have realized that this was never going to be enough. Molly would yell at him. She would tell him to stop visiting, to only come back when the job was finished.
Well, she had a right to be angry. Sherlock would consistently scare Molly by randomly showing up in her living room at odd hours. His answer was always the same as he flopped on her couch,
" I think you like having me as company."
However, she has learned how to read between the words he spoke.
Two months ago, he showed up at 3:23 A.M. He quietly picked her lock and started to make himself a cup of tea. That was a way to tell Molly that he wasn't the average criminal, trying to steal anything. Though, Molly's house didn't have anything too valuable in it. As he began to light the stove to boil the kettle, right on cue, Molly came out of her bedroom, pink bathrobe wrapped around her. She didn't scream at the intruder. All she did was sigh.
"It's been two months. Are you coming back, for good?"
She had stood in the hallway, still grasping at her bathrobe, stuck between looking relieved and being frustrated.
He ignored the question as he reached for the top cabinet and delicately took out two mugs. It was odd. John had taught him a thing or two about tea or maybe it was about tact; he could never remember. It was like the solar system, things he tended to delete.
"I had to check on…"
"John." She leant against her counter top. "I wish you wouldn't. I'd keep you updated. I know it's not enough, but it has to be."
Sherlock slid her cup silently to her. He then also slid a box of ginger hair dye out of his pocket. His roots had begun to show. She sighed as she took a sip from her tea. They both know it would never be enough.
That morning he walked out of the house with Molly. He had a mass of curly ginger hair. His bright blue eyes were now dulled by brown. He had bought brown contacts at a cosmetic store in Brussels. He had worn a suit. Not the usual kind that clung to him. It had been Molly's father's. She had kept it in the back of her closet. He didn't make a sound as she wordlessly handed it to him. He wouldn't comment how it was unhealthy to hold on to possessions of the deceased especially the clothing of the opposite gender. He just nodded and walked to the bathroom to put it on. It was a little baggier then he would have liked, but he ran his fingers through his new ginger hair to soothe the urge to complain.
Before he walked out of the door, Molly had handed him a pair of thick-rimmed glasses. She said they were a fad, whatever that was. Anyway the lenses were fake so it wouldn't impair his vision.
She wordlessly looked him up and down. Then she spoke, finding the right words.
"All right, you don't look like Sherlock at all. Now, will I see you when I come back?" She held her hands in her pockets. It was asign of nervousness and tension that Sherlock had come to associate with her. She was like his new landlady, always fussing about.
"Probably not. It will be a long day." He can see her hands wanting to give him a hug, but instead she gave him a nod. She knew he hated hugs.
He had not told her where he was going, why would he? But if he had, she would have dead bolted the door and barricaded the windows.
He had gone to Speedy's of all places. He couldn't help himself. It was just like the funeral. While the location was obvious, he didn't look too out of place. He looked like a businessman. He would order a breakfast or maybe a coffee. God, what do you order at a café?, he thought to himself.
He waited all morning to see if John would show up to pick up the usually order of breakfast treats. He ate two scones and had a pot of tea himself. He knows it was getting suspicious and he would have to leave soon. He unfolded his paper, always the perfect prop. Just a few more minutes, John could show. The door jingled opened and Sherlock looked through his glasses to see not John, but another familiar face.
Mrs. Hudson. He took a sip from his now cold tea and listened to his former landlady, a mother in her own right. He missed her.
"He won't come down. I tried. I thought I would bring him his tea. I don't have the heart to kick him out to get some fresh air."
Sherlock saw Mrs. Hudson was still cheery, but there was a hint of sadness like it was trying to be suppressed. If she gave in, England would fall. The man who Sherlock believed his name to be Mr. Chatterjee smiled and they chatted about other things, boring things. He's surprised the two of them are still friendly with one another after the whole relationship debacle. The lone tenant of 221B must be the reason for this amicable turn of events.
Mrs. Hudson smiled again and left. She never glanced over to the businessman in the corner. Sherlock eyed Mr. Chatterjee over his own mug as the owner came over to refill his pot. He wouldn't recognize Sherlock. Sherlock was never one for pleasantries.
"You know about that suicide with the detective?"
"He was my neighbor." He said a little proudly...too proudly. "His friend still lives there. He's not doing so good. A bit of sad man actually. I don't know why people do that… go kill themselves."
Sherlock wanted to tell him, "Maybe you shouldn't read the papers. You don't know why he did it….to protect the ones he cares for." He wanted to punch this Mark. He wanted to knock on the door of 221 B Baker Street and go up the stairs, but he didn't.
Instead he grunted back and rolled up his paper. He's had enough. He doesn't go back to Molly's flat. He left straight for Vienna.
He hadn't returned until yesterday. He showed up with a new box of dye and Molly's father's suit on a hanger.
"Thanks." She said as she took the suit and put it back in her closet. Sherlock eyed her apartment. Nothing had changed. No boyfriend. No new cat. She was still Molly Hooper, pathologist of St. Bart's.
Molly was too good of a person. She deserved better than waiting up for a dead detective. Even, Sherlock could see that. Molly was the one who had texted him that John has finally left the flat and begun to venture out into the bright lights of society. She deserved better than to be part of this back and forth tug of war happening between he and John.
Sherlock had found himself on a stool, sitting like a disobedient child whose mother had found that their child had cut their hair because they were bored. Molly began to scrub the dye a little too forcefully into his hair. He knows she thought the update would be enough.
"I shouldn't have told you, you stubborn man."
He knows she knows now it wasn't enough. She's angry at herself.
"No matter the hair color." He felt her nails scrap his scalp, not the usual ease she had with putting dye in his hair. "The color of your eyes." He squirmed. "He's going to notice you." He felt the dye start to drip. "You need to stop this, Sherlock."
Sherlock felt like was being told off by his mother or worse someone that mattered to him, Mrs. Hudson. God, he missed her.
He hadn't answered. He knew he had to protect John, but he just wanted a day a month to glance at the man who made him tea and indulged him. Sherlock just wanted to see how he was, that was all.
It was cruel on both accounts. It was a horrible new addiction, worse than the cigarettes.
Sherlock's reading the article lazily now. He wants to peek again to see, but he doesn't have to. He hears a change in seats. Looking below the crack of his paper, he can see John's shoes are missing. He frowns. Has his staring bothered John?
He sighs and ganders over his paper to see where John got off. Further down the row across from him, he sees John has decided to squish in between a mother, her crying baby and an elderly man who has not woken from his nap.
John's hands are still balled. John has started to look anxiously at everyone except him. The consultant detective is concerned. He decides he must get off at the next stop. His friend won't be getting off for another four, but he can't stay.
Sherlock rolls up his paper, stretches and stands up. He is not wearing his long billowy coat that he loves. He doesn't have the constant scarf around his neck. He is wearing jeans. He scoffs. Molly said that's what people wear. He is wearing a sweatshirt. He misses his purple shirt. He misses his shoes. He misses his scarf.
"It's a scarf. No one is going to notice me wearing it. It's a bloody scarf. All of London wears them."
He had had the scarf wrapped around him, but Molly had snatched it back from him earlier that morning.
He was taken aback by the loud, angry tone of her voice. He raised an eyebrow at her as she balled up his scarf in her hands. Her voice had gone quiet again. Quiet, but confident.
"You have this weird way of tying a scarf. If you are spying on John which I wish you wouldn't do, he above all people would notice. So please, Sherlock don't wear it."
He doesn't argue with her. He hugged her instead. He knew his reaction was rash. Within seconds, she cried. He backed away horrified, Mrs. Hudson never cried when hugged her. This is why he hated human interaction. It was always so unpredictable.
Molly wiped her tears falling down her face with the end of his scarf. He said nothing.
"Please don't get caught. Please finish what you have to do-"
So many pleases and Sherlock can't take it anymore. He goes to touch the doorknob, to escape, but he hears her last words.
"Please don't come back-"
There is a pause in her voice so he waits for her to finish. Molly, who had dyed his hair, come up with disguises, should be granted this grief. John had a tombstone to cry over, but Molly didn't have that. She had to deal with the disappearing, reappearing man and never asked for anything more.
"Only come back home when you know it's for good."
The door closes behind him. He knows what she meant when she said home.
As Sherlock politely weaves past the people standing on the train, he glances quickly at John and regrets this whole trip.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
John's head is down, his fists are still balled and his feet are now twitching. His whole body is actually twitching, like he's having a fit. The mother next to him, holding her baby with one arm, is tapping him on the shoulder with her free hand, "Are you all right?" She asks.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
Sherlock cannot wait to hear his answer as the doors of the train open. He cannot stay because he realizes what he has done. He's interacted with John.
The blinking, the balling of the firsts, Sherlock now knows what it means as he walks out of the station into the street. Previously Sherlock had only been glimpsing, listening, never looking at his friend, never actual interacting with his best friend.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
He ducks into a corner shop for a packet of cigarettes. This is the first time since he kicked his addiction that he's actually been itching for one to smoke.
It's all because of what's he's done. He needs to pick up his old addiction to get rid of the new one. It was too close this time. His friend saw faint recognition of his dead flatmate in a stranger whether it was the cheekbones or the smirk.
John then realized that it couldn't have been his friend because his friend is dead, very dead. Hence, the balled fists.
Curiosity did in fact kill the cat, not some tall building. Molly's right, he can't come back until he's done.
I am not there; I did not die.