John spent half an hour sitting on the bench in Regent's Park. It was the same bench he and Stamford had sat on, all those years ago. He wasn't thinking, or doing much, or doing anything really. He was just sitting, and letting the information sink in.
John recognised the signs of shock when he saw it, and he was definitely seeing it in himself right now. He was numb. Something was thrumming in his throat and chest, but it felt suspiciously like tears. He wouldn't let himself cry, of course not. He was a doctor, and a soldier. He wouldn't cry.
A woman came and sat down next to him, and gave him a nervous smile. Normally John would have leapt at this opportunity, but a critical eye that he had gained from time with Sherlock swept over the woman, and he dismissed her. Previously married, going by the indent on her left ring-finger, and also her expensive taste, despite the fact that she had a low paying job as a secretary in the city. So, the divorce was in her favour, then. She'd probably married one of her bosses or a banker or businessman, but those marriages never lasted long. Bleached blonde hair, nicely done makeup, well-chosen but sensible clothes- this woman wasn't in for a quick hook-up, she was in for the long run, searching for a husband. Unfortunately, John could only provide her with a quick hook-up. He didn't have enough time to provide her with matrimony.
He stood, trying not to see her disappointed expression, and decided to go back to his flat, to Sherlock, a man who wouldn't expect anything from him but loyalty and cups of tea. John could provide that.
He also needed to go tell Sherlock about...about it.
John bottled out as soon as he saw Sherlock in his spotty tshirt and old cotton pink trackies that were too long for him.
"John, they're repeating the Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who episodes, back to back," Sherlock announced, flouncing past John from the kitchen, a mountain bucket of popcorn under one arm and a six-pack of Mountain Dew. "I do not expect to be disturbed for the next six hours."
John laughed fondly, and went upstairs to put his pyjamas on. Might as well be comfortable.
He joined Sherlock on the sofa, and was immediately presented with two very white, spindly feet on his lap, as Sherlock stretched across the sofa, popcorn propped up between his knees. He cracked open a can of Mountain Dew, cursing when it frothed over onto his chest, but then ignoring it in preference to sing along to theme tune, as Doctor Who began. He grinned uncontrollably as John joined in with the bass line.
"Don't drink too many of those," John observed, as the opening scene commenced. "You know how you get."
Sherlock rolled his eyes, and slurped noisily, then turned his attention to Christopher Eccleston materialising on the screen.
John slowly nodded off, one hand resting on Sherlock's foot, the other hanging off the side of the sofa. He didn't awaken until he felt soft hands prising under his shoulders.
"John, wake up," Sherlock muttered, shaking him slightly.
"Hmm?" he grumbled sleepily. "What time is it?"
"Midnight," Sherlock replied. "I can't carry you upstairs."
"'ll kip-on dasofa," John slurred.
"Come on," Sherlock said, somewhat impatiently. "Your shoulder will hurt in the morning."
John was touched enough that Sherlock cared to force himself to stand and trudge up to his bedroom. As soon as he hit the bed, he was asleep, and did not wake until late the following morning.
The first thing he did was quit his boring job at the clinic.
When he told Sarah, she started to cry, even though they hadn't dated in over a year.
"Oh, J-john," she wept, blowing her nose loudly and letting him pat her on the back. "I'm so sorry."
"So am I," John said. "I just need as much time as possible to- to do what I want to do."
"Of course, of course," she cried, wiping her eyes. "Oh, John. Promise you'll come out with me for a drink or something soon?"
He agreed, but knew in his heart that he doubted he would go through with it. He said goodbye to Sarah for the last time.
When he came back home, Sherlock frowned deeply at him.
"You quit your job," he stated.
"Yeah," John mumbled. He knew he should say something, but he couldn't. The words wouldn't emerge. "It was too boring. Even I couldn't stand that amount of tedium for so long."
Sherlock sniffed, but seemed to accept that answer. "I wouldn't have thought Sandra would have gotten so upset about it," he observed, nodding towards John's tear-stained shirt.
"Sarah," John corrected automatically, but Sherlock didn't care. "And she just got a phone call when I told her. Her mum died."
The lie fell so easily from his lips, and Sherlock didn't suspect a thing. Thank god.
A week later, John took advantage of a mild evening to go on a walk around London. He was pulling on his coat, when Sherlock was suddenly by his side, also putting on his coat and scarf.
"I feel like some fresh air," Sherlock said, without being asked, and John let him come too.
Together they walked down to Oxford Street, and John bought two coffees for himself and Sherlock. They walked through the crowds of shoppers until they got to Piccadilly Circus, where they crossed over to Shaftesbury Avenue. An hour later, they were in Covent Garden, and were accidentally pulled into a street performance. John laughed himself hoarse as the acrobat/clown man asked Sherlock to help him jump up onto his unicycle, then, when he asked Sherlock for his name, almost slipped off it as he recognised London's famous detective.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's Sherlock Holmes!" the performer cried into his microphone, and Sherlock smiled slightly as people started applauding. "That must mean Doctor Watson is out there somewhere too."
John hid as best he could, but Sherlock pointed him out, and John had no choice but to go out and also assist the performer with his act.
By the end, both he and Sherlock were giggling like children, and John had forgotten all about his moroseness and the time left. They accepted the claps the crowds gave them, as they dashed away from the performer on his unicycle who was simultaneously juggling knives.
"Come on, I'm hungry," Sherlock muttered, pulling John away by the sleeve.
Sherlock led them into Soho and into a restaurant called the Union Jack which served British styled food on flat bread. It was very quiet and had dimmed lights, but they sat in a corner table, sharing jokes and remarks. Sherlock ordered them a jug of margaritas, and whilst John knew he shouldn't, he didn't care enough. They were suitably tipsy by the time they crossed over to Holborn, and night had set in quite well.
St Paul's cathedral was lit up against the mute-black sky. They stood and looked up at it, then crossed over near the Old Bailey courts, along the road, but John didn't like to go any further, because that was near St Bart's pathology department, and that particular stretch of road had too many horrible memories.
Sherlock then led them, after John's protests, away towards the river. They got halfway across the Millennium Bridge, when John stopped, and Sherlock didn't say anything. He looked out across the river, seeing the Tate Gallery, and all the famous buildings, the Shard building which he would never see completed, the HMS Belfast in the distance. And then Sherlock, silhouetted by the lamplight, a slight crease between his eyes, but a soft smile on his lips. John leant against his friend, and sighed.
"Tired?" Sherlock asked. "We have been walking for a long time."
"No," John replied, absolutely refusing to let his own body's weaknesses ruin the night. "Want to walk across?"
"Okay," Sherlock agreed, quite readily.
They crossed onto the south-side, and continued east, past the Globe theatre, until John felt a constant aching in his feet.
"We've come too far now, John," Sherlock told him gently. "We won't get home until late if we don't turn back now."
John looked around, and saw a sign for London Bridge Hospital. "Oh yes. Underground?"
"All right," Sherlock agreed again.
They headed towards London Bridge tube station, and John said goodbye to London.
John tried not to use the phrase "dead on his feet" when he collapsed into his flat at about eleven o'clock, but his mind was foggy from exhaustion. He fell, fully clothed, onto his bed, not having to worry about getting up in the morning.
Something was very, very wrong. And it wasn't the growing mass of death in his lungs.
The sweet smell of bacon and eggs were wafting up into his room from downstairs. John blinked blearily at his digital clock next to his bed, which read 10:47. He deemed this a suitable time to wake up, and pulled on his dressing gown, then proceeded downstairs.
Sherlock was frying up more eggs and bacon than John could possibly consume in a lifetime.
"Oh, you're awake. I'm testing the efficiency of certain types of eggs cooked at different temperatures, in different oils. Then I decided, what the heck! So I'm doing the same for bacon, and in a moment, pancakes!" Sherlock said cheerily, and John wondered for one moment if his flatmate was high.
At least someone is, John thought wryly, his mind going to his prescription for medication stashed in his room upstairs.
"Why?" John asked, sitting down at the table. He really ought to tell Sherlock now. "And where did you get all this food from?"
"I'm owed a favour from a farm in Buckinghamshire," Sherlock waved a spatula in the air. "They provided me with a delivery this morning."
John watched avidly as Sherlock pranced around their hazard of a kitchen. In fifteen minutes, Sherlock had a plate of eggs, bacon and pancakes in front of John, with a bottle of syrup, and a hot cup of tea.
"What's this about, then?" John asked, not complaining, but curious.
"I'm pretty sure I've got the cooking down to perfection," Sherlock said, nodding at the sample he was giving John. "Tell me what you think. Cooking eggs now requires scientific methodology, John. People's lives will be changed."
John just smiled at his flatmate, who grinned back, and ate his breakfast. It was the best breakfast he had had in his life.
"We're going to Thailand," Sherlock announced, a week later. John still hadn't told him.
"Thailand?" John asked, dropping his newspaper.
"Yes. I've never been. You've never been. I want to see Thailand," Sherlock said, in a tone that suggested that John was free to protest, but his attempts would be futile.
"I'd love to go to Thailand," John said, mostly to himself. "I don't have enough money, though, Sherlock."
Sherlock just glared at him, as if John was insulting his intelligence.
"As if that's an issue," he scoffed. "We'll be going cheaply, anyway, on a small charter company. So don't worry about that. We leave on Monday."
John just gaped at Sherlock, who sashayed into the kitchen and started banging lab equipment together.
"Thailand," John murmured, and then shrugged. Should be fun. He stood to go and start packing.
John had no problems with aeroplanes. Sherlock, however, the rational, logical mind, was gripping hold of the armrests and twitching his foot.
"Calm down," John told him, pressing a hand over Sherlock's forearm. "We're not going to drop out of the sky. We haven't even taken off yet!"
"John, did you see the pilots?" Sherlock demanded. "It'll be a wonder if we don't crash in a field somewhere."
John giggled. "Yes. They were slipping James Bond quotes into the cabin address. Didn't you notice?"
"No," Sherlock snapped. "I didn't. I was too busy worrying about the fact that our First Officer is a former alcoholic, and our captain is five foot two!"
John grinned at his friend. "Size matters not, Sherlock. I'm sure he's a perfectly competent pilot."
"Judging by his haircut and the shoes he wears, he probably failed his commercial licence more than twice," Sherlock gabbled, as the plane started to taxi. "He lives alone, is allergic to daffodils, and does something that requires a lot of driving in his spare time. Does that sound like the sort of person you want to fly you across the world, John?"
John just patted Sherlock on the hand, and sat back. "You know what? If we crash and die, in heaven, you can tell me, I told you so."
Sherlock's expression softened, and then he looked away.
John put it down to nerves.
As he looked out of the window, he said goodbye to England.
John glanced at Sherlock, who was wearing Ray Bans and had liberal amounts of Factor 50 spread across the bridge of his nose. He was lying back on his beach mat, a copy of The Clerkenwell Tales in his hands.
John was just sitting, soaking up the sun. After two days in Thailand, he had successfully returned to his Afghanistan-tan, and looked less grey, and healthier. He was already losing weight, and over the last week had found it hard to maintain an appetite or keep down a large meal. He thought he looked more haggard when he looked in the mirror. Sometimes he had coughing fits that scared him. Sherlock's suggestion of a holiday had come at just the right time.
"There's a ferry that goes to Malaysia," Sherlock spoke suddenly, and John turned back to him. He was wearing swimming trunks, which was singularly the strangest thing John had ever seen in his life. They were blue, with little pink starfish on them. Also, Sherlock didn't tan, he just went very very pink, so the expanse of flesh that he had revealed to the Thai sun was making him look like a sort of pink insect. His nose, despite the crazy amounts of sun cream, was peeling, as well as the cheekbones that usually cast shadows wherever he went. John wasn't bothering with sun cream. He didn't burn, and it wasn't like he had anything to fear from exposure to the sun...
"Okay?" John replied. "Did you want to go?"
"Yes. There's a tour. Normally I abhor the idea of spending time with other tourists, but this looks like good fun."
"More fun than a triple homicide in Brixton?" John teased.
"Hmm. Possibly," Sherlock answered. He pulled off his sunglasses, and stood up. John tried not to stare too much. That one-time view he'd gotten of Sherlock in Buckingham Palace all those years ago had barely served to satisfy John's curiosity. Surprisingly, Sherlock was rather sturdily built; his slender suits and tight shirts gave the illusion that he was a very skinny, stick-like guy. "I'm going swimming."
"Okay," John stood too. "Good idea."
They trudged down the beach, passing a few other holiday-makers, and stopped just where the blue water was lapping the sand.
"Is it cold?" Sherlock asked, dipping a toe into the water.
John stood behind his friend and gave him an almighty push. Sherlock fell, face first, into the ocean, and scrambled to get his head above the water. His hair was plastered to his face as he glared up at John, who was howling with laughter.
"Very funny, Doctor," Sherlock grumbled, and began swimming away. John stood back to admire the way Sherlock's body slid through the sparkling water, before shaking the thought out of his mind, and wading in.
The water was actually rather pleasant. In thirty two degrees of heat, it had had a chance to warm up a bit. There were rocks under John's feet, and he soon found it got too deep for him to stand. He swam forward, hoping his useless body wouldn't get tired too quickly. He peered around, bobbing with the slight waves, looking for Sherlock, but he wasn't in sight.
Something grabbed his right calf, and he gasped, inhaling a load of water in shock, as Sherlock emerged from underneath him.
"Fuck, I thought you were a fish or something!" John choking, a hacking cough rattling through him.
Sherlock's jesting face suddenly changed to concern as he held John's arm, giving him support as John's breathing returned to normal.
"No, I'm pretty sure they've sectioned off the water for tourists, so that no marine life can come near," Sherlock told him, and John nodded.
They looked out further into the ocean. The sun was beginning to set, half way in the sky, and the horizon was ever so slightly orange, but a brilliant blue up above to match the sea below.
"It's so lovely here," John sighed, treading water, but still aware of Sherlock's hand on his arm. "Thanks for bringing me."
"That's fine. Sometimes even a consulting detective needs a holiday," Sherlock mused.
"What about his sidekick?"
"You're not a sidekick, John."
John was startled by Sherlock's sincere and earnest reply. He turned sharply to stare at his friend, and all of a sudden, he knew that Sherlock knew. It slammed into him like a freight train.
"How?" he asked, a terrible, dreadful feeling pooling in his gut. He felt nauseous.
Sherlock looked away, and the most stricken expression fell over his face, worse than any expression John had ever seen him wear. "I'm not an idiot, John."
John rubbed his face with his hands. "So this is why you brought me here?"
"No," Sherlock replied quietly, and he lowered himself in the water so his chin was just level with the sea. "I brought you here so we could be together."
John surveyed him for a while. Part of him was glad that he wouldn't have to break the news to Sherlock, like he'd dreaded, whilst part of him was utterly destroyed that now he had to face the fact that he would have to say goodbye to his friend.
"How long have you known?" he asked.
"A few weeks now. You left your pills next to your laptop charger in your room. It wasn't a difficult leap," Sherlock whispered. "I-I didn't know what to say to you."
John snorted. "Well, that makes two of us."
"How long do you have?" Sherlock asked, and suddenly John had hot tears brimming in his eyes. He wasn't prepared for this. He wasn't ready to have this conversation with Sherlock, whilst swimming in the sea.
"Can we go back to the rooms?" he asked, and Sherlock nodded. He grasped John's hand and they began making their way back to the beach.
The hotel they were staying in was very sweet, and the rooms were furnished with big comfy sofas, and wooden tables and knickknacks and oriental style rugs and pictures on the walls. They'd gotten a suite, so there were two bedrooms. In the morning they had been woken by the sound of monkeys and parrots. John had found it all beautiful.
However, when Sherlock, still wet but with a loose tshirt that was sticking to his skin, flopped down onto the squishy sofa and hid his face in his hands, John felt like he was in hell.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier," John started, but he was stiff, and his throat was thick.
John had pulled on a short-sleeved button up that he hadn't been able to wear since before Afghanistan. It was well-worn, and reminded him of when he was young.
He stood before Sherlock, who was shaking into his palms despite the humid heat.
"I have about two months left," John said calmly, and Sherlock moaned piteously.
Everything had been so perfect this morning. So perfect, and then John had to go and ruin it.
He reached out and touched Sherlock's damp hair. In the heat, it was springing up into huge frizzy curls. It was surprisingly soft.
Sherlock lifted his head, and John recognised the face that he had seen when looking up at the top of St Bart's four years ago. Sherlock was crying, and he looked like a man who had kept a lot of pain bottled up inside for too long, and now it was all pouring out.
"It was inoperable, and spreading" John continued. "They offered chemo, but the success rate was pathetic, and it would only extend my life by about three months."
"Please," Sherlock whispered. "Please. Please don't- just...don't."
John knelt in between Sherlock's knees and grasped his head in his hands. "I'm sorry."
Sherlock closed his eyes, and a fat tear rolled down his face. "I don't-I can't-"
"I know," John said soothingly. "I know."
Sherlock rested his head on John's chest, listening to his heartbeat, and wrapped his arms around his friend. They stayed like that for a long time, until John was losing sensation in his knees, and stood, bringing Sherlock up with him.
They went into John's bedroom and curled up together on top of the sheets. John held Sherlock close, breathing in the salty smell of the sea in his hair, and trying to ignore the hitching of Sherlock's breath as he sobbed into John's shoulder.
They fell asleep like that, as John began to say his goodbye to Sherlock.
In the morning, John awoke to Sherlock sitting next to him, watching him intently.
"Good morning," he rasped, blinking in the light. Sherlock's face was stony, and did not speak. "Have you been up long?"
"An hour or two," Sherlock said, almost inaudibly. His mask was on, and John knew it well. He could only assume Sherlock had recovered from his emotional spill from last night.
"What have you been doing?" John asked.
"Praying. Ridiculous, isn't it?" Sherlock muttered in a bitter tone.
John didn't answer, but sat up, holding his head as the room span a bit. A cold hand grasped his jaw, and he looked up at Sherlock, who was frowning intensely whilst studying John's face.
"What are you doing?" John asked, gulping.
"Learning," Sherlock muttered, eyes scanning John's face. "I'm not going to forget a single detail."
John only just managed to hold himself together.
"It's utterly unfair," Sherlock proclaimed, when John was sipping a cup of green tea in their living area of the room, "that I should only have one real friend in my entire life, and that he should decide to die after only six years of knowing him."
"I haven't decided to...to die, Sherlock," John said calmly.
"Well then," Sherlock said petulantly, "don't. I forbid it."
John managed a smile and a small huff of laughter.
"I don't know why you're laughing," Sherlock said darkly, and suddenly he was in John's space, looming over him. "It's not funny. And it's not fair."
"I know it's not fair, Sherlock," John said patiently. "What can I do?"
"Don't," Sherlock said, and a flash of pain went through his eyes. "Don't do this to me."
"I'm sorry," John said again. He reached for Sherlock's hand and squeezed it. "I suppose we'll just have to be strong."
Later on in the day, John accidentally saw Sherlock weeping into one of his shirts.
They went on the tour trip to Malaysia, and for a few divine moments, John forgot about his condition. Sherlock held onto his hand throughout the trip, gaining them lots of smirks and raised eyebrows from the other tourists, but John ignored them.
It was very interesting. The guide took them around the town, then into the more rustic areas. They ate some fantastic food, and John laughed with some of the other tourists, whilst Sherlock simply stared at him intently.
When they returned back to the hotel, Sherlock didn't guide them back to their room, but onto a balcony near the hotel's restaurant, which overlooked the sea.
"I hope you realise this is a truly selfish thing you're doing," Sherlock said after a moment. The night sky was awash with stars, and John felt his breath leave him as he gazed upwards. The sounds of the ocean washing onto the shore were calming, and the moon was reflected in it, an incomplete semi-circle.
"I'm sorry," John breathed, too absorbed in such beautiful nature around him. "Now you know how I felt when you were gone."
It was the wrong thing to say, even if he had only meant it jokingly. Sherlock grasped his arms and pulled him roughly around to face him, before embracing him. John was cocooned by Sherlock's arms, one hand holding John's head against a shoulder, the other wrapped around John's waist.
"I'm sorry," Sherlock choking. "I'm so, so sorry. I didn't- I can't-"
"Sherlock," John sighed, breathing into Sherlock's neck and reciprocating the hug. "You came back. That's the important thing. I wish I could say that I'll come back."
Sherlock was shaking again. "I can't do this, John. I thought I could do this. I can't."
"Of course you can," John mumbled, but his words were lost.
"I don't want to go on without you. It doesn't work like that. How am I supposed to do anything when you're not here?" Sherlock was growing hysterical, and John pulled away to grasp him by the shoulders and make him focus.
"Don't speak like that. What would you have done if I had offed myself because you had died?" John demanded harshly.
Sherlock hiccupped, and looked away.
"I love you so much, Sherlock, and we've had such a brilliant time together-" John cursed himself for beginning to cry.
"Please don't say goodbye," Sherlock whispered, and pressed a finger to John's mouth.
John closed his eyes, and leant against Sherlock again. They stood absolutely still for a long time.
"There's so much I need to say," Sherlock said after a while, and his voice had returned to its normal deep rumble. "But there's not enough time."
John pressed a soft kiss to Sherlock's cheek. "The problem with us, Sherlock, is that we tend to know what the other is thinking, without having to say anything."
Sherlock hugged John close again. "When we go home, what will happen?"
John hesitated. "I'll probably stay at home quite a bit. Then, to hospital, where they hook me up to a morphine supply. And then I just fall asleep. The last few days will be rather uneventful. It'll just be me sleeping."
Sherlock didn't say anything. He didn't need to. John knew what he was thinking anyway.
Mrs Hudson greeted them back to Baker Street with such cheer and happiness that it broke John's heart to tell her.
After much wailing and histrionics, John went back up to his room to unpack. He kept it quite orderly so that Sherlock could sort it out without problems when he needed. John didn't have many possessions.
Sherlock came in after a few minutes, and just sat with John on his bed, neither of them saying a thing.
The next big thing was telling Harry. John took the trip alone to Harry's large townhouse, and sat her down, and told her.
Harry collapsed against his arms, crying silently. She didn't even make a sound. When she had pulled herself together enough to speak, she said,
"Sherlock must be devastated."
John was slightly surprised. As the only relative John had left, he had expected Harry to be take the role of main mourner, despite the fact the person who loved him the most was back at home.
"He's not taken it well," John agreed, and Harry managed a sad, humourless laugh at John's understatement.
"Are you in pain?" she asked.
"No. I have shortness of breath and sometimes cough up blood. It has spread," John explained, trying not to use too much medical terminology, "to my liver and brain, and other tissues. It just suddenly came on, so it's not like I could have stopped it earlier. I had no idea."
"When will it start to hurt?" she asked.
"In the next week or so?" John guessed. "I have about a month. The last week will be rather drawn out, and I'll be at hospital, so these next two or three weeks I'm going to spend with Sherlock."
Harry nodded. "I don't know what to say, John. I can't- I don't know how to process this."
"That's okay," John said softly. "Not many people do."
"You'll probably get a phone call from me tomorrow, crying into your ear," Harry said, trying for humour, but it fell slightly flat.
He returned home, and was greeted by Sherlock grabbing him tightly and breathing deeply into his neck.
"Hello to you too," John said, stumbling slightly when Sherlock abruptly released him. "What was that?"
"I need to remember how you smell. I was thinking about it, and I was only ninety eight percent positive about the exact way you smell," Sherlock explained.
John went into their kitchen, and brewed a cup of tea. "Any cases?"
"Oh please," Sherlock said despondently. "As if I would waste time on a case!"
John was flattered, but nonetheless, Lestrade came round three days later with a file on a crime ring that were somehow smuggling heroin in past British borders. Sherlock and John were sitting on the sofa, and Sherlock was inspecting John's hands whilst John was simply looking at his best friend.
"Will you come?" Lestrade asked, somewhat desperately. "You're not doing anything."
Sherlock gave Lestrade the most venomous glare that John felt it necessary to give the good man an explanation. He stood and led Lestrade into the kitchen, ignoring Sherlock's protests, and tried to explain.
"I have small-cell lung carcinoma," John began, making a pot of tea. "It's...um...not good."
Lestrade blinked a few times. "What do you mean? Are you having radiation treatment?"
"Er, no," John said. No matter how many times he said the same thing, it never got easier. It always broke him slightly, seeing the faces of the people he cared about slowly realise that John was going to die. "I have a few weeks left."
Lestrade was blank faced for a while, before he turned around and seemed to grasp for a chair. He collapsed into it and stared, shocked, at his own hands.
"I'm sorry, Greg," John said sincerely. "I've been spending as much time as I can with Sherlock, which is why we've been off the radar for so long."
John shoved a cup of tea under Lestrade's face when the DI still didn't speak. Sherlock pottered in after five minutes, and rested his chin on John's shoulder from behind, wrapping his arms around John.
Finally, Lestrade spoke. He looked up at John, with an expression of greatest sadness. "I-I don't know what to say," he said quietly.
"You've been a good friend, Greg," John said. "Just being here is enough."
Lestrade left later in the evening. He shook John's hand, and gave the most pitiful look at Sherlock.
Sherlock pulled John into his own bedroom that night, and they fell asleep with arms tightly holding each other. John didn't want to imagine being without this warm comfort.
John had thrown up that morning, and couldn't move without almost passing out. Sherlock was hiding his desperate hysteria well, but John could tell that he was suffering watching John like this. They called an ambulance and John was admitted.
John slept fitfully in the cheap hospital beds, compared to the warmth and comfort of Sherlock's at home.
At first Sherlock had to abide by the rules of visitor's hours, but after Mycroft's visit, Sherlock was exempt from these rules.
Mycroft's visit had been short and to the point. He had offered John his stiff condolences, shaken his hand, and told him that he was very grateful for his participation in Sherlock's life.
"You are very good friend to my brother, John," Mycroft had said, and John almost wanted to tell Mycroft to leave and put him out of his misery at having to be civil and nice.
From then on Sherlock didn't leave his side.
As John had said, he slept a lot. His left hand always was encased by Sherlock's, however, and often John would lie unconscious, but able to hear Sherlock.
"Sherlock?" John breathed, and through the darkness he saw a shadow move.
"John? You should sleep, it's late," Sherlock said quietly.
"I'm not tired," John muttered.
"How are you feeling?" Sherlock asked.
"Dandy," John replied sarcastically, and Sherlock crawled over to lie next to John. He wrapped his arms around John's frame and stroked the hair back from John's forehead.
"Are you in pain?" Sherlock pressed.
"A little bit," John admitted. His chest was aching. Sherlock leaned over him to press the button that upped the morphine dripping into John's system.
"Are you just saying that to up your dose?" Sherlock asked wryly. "I remember morphine. Knocks you out 'til you can't recognise your own mother."
John huffed a laugh, but it hurt, so he stopped.
"How long do you think left?" Sherlock asked quietly. He did that a lot. It was like he wanted to double check with John, to make sure he wasn't kidding around with Sherlock.
"I dunno," John sighed. "I feel so...paralysed."
"You're tired," Sherlock replied. "You should sleep." He made to get off, but John protested.
"No, stay. You're warm. I'm not tired. I just feel weak. God knows I've done enough sleeping."
Sherlock continued stroking John's hair.
"Sherlock?" John asked after a while.
"Are you actually capable of growing a beard?" John asked. "Because I have never seen you shave. Once. I just really need to know. I can't die without knowing."
Sherlock grinned, and John could feel it against his neck.
"Yes, I can grow a beard. I look like a complete idiot when I do. And you just don't notice when I shave. I am the master at subtle shaving."
"That sounds dodgier than what you mean," John muttered, feeling the extra morphine kick in a bit, "That makes it sound like you are a master at shaving in subtle places."
"Wouldn't you like to know," Sherlock muttered teasingly.
"I love you," John mumbled, feeling sleep come on to him anyway. "You're the best friend in the entire universe."
He missed what Sherlock said. It might have been I love you too. It might have been Don't do this.
John sighed in his sleep, and nothing felt more peaceful than the heaviness in his mind, accompanied by the darkness.
John, can you hear me?
Yes. I can. Sherlock. Please, Sherlock. Hold my hand.
John, they say sometimes patients can hear our voices. Can you hear mine?
They say you're not far off now. I doubt you'll wake up again.
No, Sherlock. I'm here. I'm with you now.
Even if you can hear me, there's not much you can do. The medication is too strong.
Oh, Sherlock. There are a million things I wish I could do.
I wanted to tell you a few things. Mycroft is waiting outside. I think he thinks I'll need him when...when you...when...
I can't even say it, John. This is unbelievable. All this preparation. All that time saying goodbye. And now it's about to happen and...and...I can't do it.
I'm here Sherlock. I'm here.
I suppose a thank you is in order. Thank you, John Watson. My friend. My t-true friend.
Why are you crying, Sherlock? What is making you cry? Tell me, and I'll fix it. Or shoot it for you. Don't cry. Please?
Y-you made my life so wonderful, and I can't thank you enough. We had such a fantastic time, and even though three of our six years was spent with me being an idiot, I'll a-always ch-cherish our moments.
You're not in idiot, Sherlock. Hasn't anyone told you? You're a genius. You're my genius. I'm telling you now. You're my genius.
I don't think my heart ever beat as fast as it did that first night as we ran after that taxi from Angelo's. It felt like I was high, again. You're like cocaine, John. You're addictive. I went through withdrawal for three years, but I relapsed as soon as I could, and it was glorious. And now I'm going to have to abstain for life, and the withdrawal symptoms are excruciating, John. Absolutely excruciating.
Please stop crying, Sherlock! Please. Let me help you! I love you!
So thank you. John Watson, I love you. You're my best friend, and you always will be, and our friendship was the best friendship this stupid little planet has ever seen. And now you're dying, and everything is dull, and grey, and my chest hurts so much, John. You've ripped open my heart, and you're burning it more than any criminal ever could.
Oh, Sherlock. I'll always remember you. Every moment, every single moment. I'll remember it. Even these ones.
I don't know how I'll live without seeing your face every day.
I want your face to be the last thing I imagine.
John Watson. I'll always think of you. You are my heart, and I can feel it breaking. I'll always think of you.
I'll think of you forever.
Starting, and ending, right now.
Sherlock stared at the grave dispassionately. Mycroft was tugging at his arm, but he shook him off, and told Mycroft to wait in the car.
It was the same type of grave as Sherlock's- black granite- but the difference was that Sherlock's didn't have a body under it. Yet.
They were side by side, and John's was covered in flowers, almost obscuring Sherlock's.
"You're a bastard, you know?" Sherlock muttered, and he heard John's laugh in his mind. "Do you know how much this hurts? John, I've never been particularly good at feeling emotions, but you've gone right ahead and blasted me apart, and now I've got to wander around aimlessly, without you, looking for the pieces."
He felt a soft, phantom hand brush across his cheek, and he closed his eyes and titled towards it.
"I have a case. It's only been a week, but I don't think you'd mind. Maybe you can help me?"
Sherlock sat down, leaning against his own grave, and rested his head against the stone.
"Twenty three year old woman. Afro-Caribbean. Last seen by her sister in the house they shared. She went out at seven in the evening, to go meet friends at a pub. She turned up the following morning on the other side of London, dead by a shot to the head. In her pocket was a cigarette lighter that wasn't hers, and a blonde lock of hair that hasn't been identified yet."
He fell silent, but all that could be heard was the rustling of the trees.
He opened his eyes, and looked around. He recognised the statue he himself had hidden behind when he had observed John paying his respects to Sherlock's "dead" memory. His vision was hazy, but he could imagine John's strong figure outlined against the forested background. He was wearing his sensible coat, and comfortable jeans. His face had that well-worn smile, and his eyes were crinkled, with the softest expression in them that made Sherlock's heart soar.
"Have you questioned the sister yet?"
"No," Sherlock replied, as the familiar warm touch brushed through his hair. "She was not in a fit state."
"Well, when she is, you should ask her if the victim knew any blondes."
"Don't be ridiculous," Sherlock muttered, eyes closed, revelling in the fantasy touch that was now tracing down his jaw. "Clearly the blonde hair and the victim are unrelated. It's a symbol for something."
"If you say so."
"I miss you."
"Focus, Sherlock. What else do we know about the victim?"
Sherlock smiled, and recited his deductions, as hot tears splashed down onto the grassy floor.
I don't know about you, but I managed to make myself tear up. Which is pathetic. It's not even particularly well written!
I hope you liked it. A bit of a change from my usual stuff, but I wanted a change.
Just to note, my friend Shula was proposed to by a fat clown wearing nipple tassels whilst in Covent Garden, which inspired a particular scene. ;)
Also, I don't know much about cancer (did anyone notice how I went through 6k words without mentioning the "C" word?), but from what I gather, nothing I've written is hugely incorrect. If it is, then I apologise. I'll go get my medical degree, and come back and edit it later.
Love you guys.
Also, if you're suffering from bereavement or grief, or have any issues regarding cancer or sickness, there are many people out there who can help, and who are trained to help. Or, if you prefer, I am always open for a chat.
Thanks for reading.