In another life, John is not dead. Sherlock found a cure. They are still solving crimes. John's hair grows back. They still bicker. John buys milk. John meets someone. Sherlock insults her. She insults him right back. He eventually tells John he can put up with her…almost. John gets married. Sherlock is an annoying best man, but John's new wife knows she must compromise with her husband's best friend. John has kids. Sherlock is a godfather to the horror of the Scotland Yard. Years go by, they are still best friends.
However, this is not that life. That is another life.
In this life, Sherlock lies on one side of his bed. He doesn't jump around with nervous energy. John is dead. He just lies on the bed. The other side is empty. No cure. You let him die. Sherlock has never sat this still.
THE APARTMENT IS COLD
SOMEONE IS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
His left hand is outstretched; the right hand is clenching and unclenching. Inside the palm of his right hand are morphine pills, leftover from John. Sherlock had found them in his room when they took his body away. Sherlock pocketed them. He never gave up on the idea of following his friend.
It would be nice, he thinks. Life would go on. His body and mind hurt and he doesn't know what it means. He closes his eyes.
On the edge of his bed, he feels the weight of the bed sag. John is sitting on the edge, shaking his head, tapping his foot impatiently.
"What a waste – the world would be lost without the mind of Sherlock Holmes - "
Sherlock opens his eyes. His brain hurts. His body hurts. The bed is empty except for him. "But I'm lost without my blogger." He says, but his hand close over the pills.
Not today. John would be ashamed of him.
He gets up and stumbles.
HAVE NOT EATEN IN FOUR DAYS
HAND IS CRAMPED
He unclenches his hand to see the pills still nestled in them. He pockets them in his dressing gown. He shrugs on a bathrobe and scratches his head. He realizes he must have fallen asleep.
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
Sherlock does not go to answer.
The door opens anyway. "Mrs. Hudson, I told you -" He stops and scowls at the visitor. "Oh. It's you."
Mycroft ignores him, leaning on his umbrella, observing his baby brother.
"Have you eaten?"
"You've eaten quite enough for me."
Mycroft walks past him into the apartment. Sherlock begins to protest, but realizes his brother's attention trains on something else.
EYES LOCK ONTO PIANO
"Remember when mummy was so cross you wouldn't continue the piano?" Mycroft muses.
Sherlock rolls his eyes. "It got boring." It's not true. He just didn't want his mother to pick the instrument he wanted to play. He mastered the piano at the age of six. He liked the violin instead. Its fickleness was the challenge.
Mycroft glances at the beginner's book. "You didn't come to the funeral."
Sherlock ignores him and flops into his chair. He continues to follows his brother's eyes and movement like a lion watching its prey.
LINGERS ON JOHN'S CHAIR
SITS ON COUCH INSTEAD
LEANS FORWARD ON HIS UMBRELLA LIKE A CANE FOR SUPPORT
ALL THE BETTER TO SEE YOU MY DEAR BROTHER
"How long what?" Sherlock says, putting one hand in the pocket of his dressing gown absent-mindedly.
"How long will you endure it?"
MYCROFT IS WATCHING HIS HAND FUMBLE IN THE DRESSING GOWN'S POCKET
"Sherlock - "
"If you want them so bad, come and take them. You did that many a year ago." Sherlock snaps at him.
Mycroft does not move. "Death will be the end of us all. It's an unfortunate part of life. Don't waste yours baby brother. He wouldn't want you to. You didn't cause thi-"
"Leave." Sherlock gestures to the door with his free hand. Mycroft sighs and leaves.
His days blur together. Mrs. Hudson knocks. Sherlock ignores it. She eventually gives up and leaves food outside his door. When he is asleep, she somehow manages to tidy up the little mess he makes.
One day his curiosity and loneliness gets the better of him.
He walks up the stairs, but stops midway in the door like something is yanking him back by a chain.
The smells are intoxicating. It smells like his best friend. It does not smell like death or disease. Disease has not penetrated this room for over a month. Sherlock's room on the other hand smells like death and guilt. However, this room smells like John.
John is not on his bed, dead. John is reading the newspaper. John is rolling his eyes. John is laughing. John is snoring.
Sherlock feels an odd sensation in his chest. It is tight. His eyes feel stinging at the corners. He pinches his eyes and blindly and walks out.
His room on the other hand is ten times worse. His laptop is now dead and the charger is in his room, a place he has been avoiding. He tries to walk in with his eyes closed, using his other senses but it doesn't work. It's horrible.
He can still smell. He can still hear. He opens his eyes. They land on the night table. It is not his laptop charger… it is something else.
He immediately grabs it and dashes out of the room. Sitting cross-legged on the piano bench, rubbing his eyes, he flips open John's laptop.
The Internet history is very sparse, boring.
THE SCIENCE OF DEDUCTION
Sherlock's mouth twitches. Guess his blog wasn't so boring after all. He goes on John's blog. John has not been logged out into writing new entries. The last new entry was two months ago about their last case they both worked. He does not mention that he is sick and will not be able to update this blog.
Out of curiosity he checks the draft just to see if John left a message, a note for himself. There's one… short. It's dated the day after Sherlock cut all of John's hair off. A month before his last post.
Having Sherlock as a roommate is a blessing more than a curse these days.
Sherlock blinks. It is a last gift from John. John does not blame you. His heart and mind do not ache as much.
His phone buzzes at least once a day, probably more. Mycroft is always asking him if he's still alive and Lestrade is always wondering if he wants a case.
For both of these he responds, NO COMMENT -SH. They get the message.
He finds a new way to occupy his time. The object calls to him.
52 WHITE KEYS
36 BLACK KEYS
Eventually, his mind begins to sooth itself. The chaotic mess of his mind is beginning to find a calming, repetitive pattern. At one time, he might have called it boring. He's not sure how to describe it now. It's still a pattern.
Play scales. Play. Play. Play. All the while his phone beeps with more text messages.
Got a case if you're interested -Lestrade
Let's get a coffee -Molly
I heard. I'm sorry. -Irene Adler
This pattern begins to change late in the night when people stop trying to text him. He's thankful real people sleep. He's also thankful that he no longer wants to sleep.
Jots notes on scrap paper…
The memory of buzzing John's hair off…
Writes new notes on new clinical trials…
The memory of John's laugh…
Chemical notes and scribbles litter his books
The pills sit on the top of the piano. Each day is a test and each day Sherlock beats it. They continue to sit there.
THERE IS A PACKAGE BY THE DOOR.
It's December. Mrs. Hudson adds lights to 221B. He doesn't argue.
THE PACKAGE IS STILL BY THE DOOR.
It's January. Molly brings the package in and rips it open. He is about to argue, but decides better not to. He just watches her unpack the box.
IT'S A PIÑATA.
She hangs it up and begins to whack it. Sherlock sighs and soon joins in. They beat it to death as Lestrade walks in the door, carrying a case of beer.
John, is this the kind of party you wanted me to have? He takes another good whack at the piñata. Molly gives a whoop as Lestrade raises his beer. Sherlock hits it again. Happy Birthday to me.
It's February and Molly is back. She boxes John's things up. He continues to play. She doesn't ask him to help. At one point, he hears her voice. He can't block it out.
"Is this yours?" She says holding a pair of pajamas.
The back of Sherlock's head bobs.
"Have you been living… in his room?"
Sherlock does not turn around, but continues to play.
Molly sits on the edge of the piano.
"Sherlock, I just need -"
He pauses and says, still staring at the keys. "He died in my room."
SQUEEZE ON THE SHOULDER.
"Can you play Moonlight Sonata?"
The sound of the piano is a welcome distraction for both of them.
It's March and Lestrade comes over to drink a scotch.
As Lestrade unscrews the bottle, Sherlock notices something else.
A STACK OF MANILA FOLDERS
SCOTLAND YARD SYMBOL
"Anderson is crap."
Sherlock glances at the Detective Inspector.
LESTRADE IS LYING.
IF THIS WAS TRUE, LESTRADE WOULD'VE FIRED ANDERSON
LESTRADE KNOWS SHERLOCK'S WEAKNESS
He glances at the files.
"The watchmaker did it." Sherlock says pointing to the top file.
Lestrade laughs. "Cheers."
Sherlock never returns to a crime scene. He only continues to handle cases over a bottle of Scotch with Lestrade in the comfort of his own home.
They don't have the same drive anymore. Instead he's determined to find a cure, whatever it takes.
It's April when he walks back into St Bart's Morgue. As soon as he sees Molly, he wordlessly hands his research over to her. She glances at the first words and smiles. Sherlock grumbles and walks over to his usual microscope.
"I need some bodies. Tests."
Molly tries very hard not to smile wider as she uncovers a John Doe she has been saving for him.
This is also the month Sherlock sleeps in his room... after ordering all new furniture. It's a start.
It's May. Sherlock begrudgingly shows his work to the lead oncologist at St. Bart's. Molly forces him too. He needs more backing before he can test the drugs, she tells him.
The doctor recognizes Sherlock.
JOHN WATSON'S FRIEND
MAN IS RAW, DIFFERENT, BRUISED
Sherlock snarls. "So are you going to take part or do I have to find some other oncologist? I'm only showing it to you first because - "
"Brilliant research. Yes, Mr. Holmes. I would love to work with you. I'll show it to my colleagues." He says.
They both knew the end of the sentence that Sherlock hadn't finished. My best friend is dead and you were the cause of it. I was the cause of it. Not the disease. We couldn't save him. We let him die.
It is still May.
Sherlock is so busy these days. He's always at St. Barts. He's always working. They, the medical professionals, say clinical trials cannot start until the beginning of the next year. More testing needs to be done.
Sherlock throws a fit in the morgue. He wishes he were sick so he could test it on himself.
This type of waiting kills, this bureaucracy, kills him. He is so impatient. He hears John laughing over his impatience in the back of his mind.
It is June.
Someone in the government has intervened. Clinical trials will start in the next month.
Sherlock's mouth twitches as his phone vibrates.
YOU OWE ME. -MH
Sherlock doesn't write back thanks. The Holmes Brothers don't do that. He just laughs as he tosses his phone up in the air and catches it. He is gleeful as he tells Molly the news.
It is July. July 6 to be exact. Tomorrow the clinical trials will start. Today though, Sherlock stays in 221 B. No one texts him. No one knocks out his door. He is thankful.
He sits at the piano. He arranges his feet onto the pedals. He places his fingers on the white keys.
He begins to play Bach's Prelude No. 1 all day, on repeat. Once it finishes, he plays it again...and again…and again. He wishes it were a longer song.
His phone alarm goes off.
Sherlock closes his eyes, releasing his hands from the keys and places them in their usual steepled position, and says,
"Happy Birthday John."
Whether this life or the other life, one thing has not changed, it is the constant in both…. they are still best friends. They will always be best friends.
I just want to thank everyone who started reading this story and continued it until the end. From all the reviews, the alerts, the favorites... thank you. I appreciate all your lovely words. I hope to read your own writings or in see you reading my fellow stories.
Thanks again my fellow Sherlockians.