Disclaimer: BBC Sherlock belongs to Moftiss and the BBC, not me.
Author's Notes: I got this idea from a post (/post/17341163880/) by the fabulous Brie (deanspartyhat on Tumblr) who graciously gave me permission to upload my fic. I was encourage to write this by my new fandom soulmate, Brittany (badnews-for-brainwork on Tumblr.)
Warnings: It has an M rating for a reason. People will die, there will probably be smut/sex at some point, and it's certainly going to contain more than the daily recommended dose of angst.
Run Him Like a Blade
Mrs. Hudson had told him to wear a scarf or at least a thicker jacket, but John Watson barely feels the bone-numbing chill of the late fall air as he stands by the grave. It's too beautiful a day for such a gloomy errand, but John's attention is focused on more important things than the beautiful blue sky or crisp, vibrantly colourful leaves. Faded flowers are propped against the black marble headstone, brought by Mrs. Hudson a few weeks ago. It's been two months since he had barely controlled himself enough to walk away from Sherlock Holmes' final resting place without crying (too unmanly, crying in public, even at a loss that left him feeling as though his insides had been torn out and never replaced.)
Back then, he had wiped his eyes and walked away. Eight weeks later, it's getting more and more difficult to walk away from his weekly visits with any conviction that his therapist is right about grief. It hasn't lessened, only shifted, becoming less raw but more unbearably heavy. A weight has settled in his chest and refused to budge. He had come back from Afghanistan with little hope that life would improve beyond dull olive walls and beige jumpers. Suddenly, there was Sherlock, petty and rude and a pain in the arse but so much better than post traumatic stress disorder and a psychosomatic limp that garnered him pitying looks wherever he went.
For a year, he had had the thrill of sprinting down dark alleyways with Sherlock in pursuit of some vital clue or miserably fast suspect, limp forgotten as he tried to keep up. He had had late night takeaway and early morning tea (all Sherlock would take in the morning, unless John forced him to eat a bit of toast or the occasional egg.) There had been crime scenes and crap telly and bickering and accusations and finally, those long seconds when John had wished he had used his knowledge as the only person Sherlock Holmes had called a friend in over ten years to realise that the look in Sherlock's eyes had been a painful but necessary bluff of coldness and disdain. He had told John to go and John had gone, furious beyond belief at Sherlock's lack of compassion for Mrs. Hudson. Now the olive and beige, the colour of his army uniform and his lonely bedsit, has come back, and this time there is no Sherlock to dislodge the endless, monotonous boredom.
His fist clenches slightly at his side. No matter how many times he recalls the day, what he remembers most is the contrast between the looks on Sherlock's face when John had screamed at him, calling him a machine and heartless, and when he had reached his hand towards John from the roof of St. Bart's only hours later. He had told his therapist all of this, only to see that same look of pity in her eyes as she told him that Sherlock's death was not his fault. He had pulled away from the touch of her hand on his wrist as he replied dully that indeed it was. She had removed her hand and asked about Mrs. Hudson instead.
The mobile in his pocket beeps softly and a tiny tendril of anger blooms in his stomach at the interruption.
Breakthrough in the Alexander case. Hoping you could stop
by the lab to see Molly when you're free – Greg
The few people who are important in his life knew exactly where John is today and every Sunday morning for the foreseeable future, and Lestrade damn well knows, yet he had still sent the text. John shoves his phone back into his pocket and stalks away, furious with Lestrade and furious with Sherlock and furious most of all with himself when he isn't too busy being completely numb.
Bart's is quiet, as usual for a Sunday morning. He manages to make it to Molly's basement lab without running into anyone familiar (god forbid he see Sarah and have to put up with the look and have to lie to her with false reassurances and an even more false smile for the umpteenth time.) Down in the basement, it's quiet and dark and peaceful. Is this what death is like, cool and serene and comforting? No more pity and loss, only relief at finally being done, no standards to meet, only relief from the exhaustion of pretending to be interested in the endless repetition of life.
Molly is bent over a microscope when he leaves the darkness of the hallway behind and steps into the warmer glow of the lab's yellow lights. A brief expression of shock appears on her face, barely noticeable before it's replaced with a small smile.
"There wasn't much to go by, but I was able to extract a DNA sample from the blood on the hairbrush. Looks like it was her husband after all. Greg's working on figuring out where he's hidden away since he hasn't been back to his apartment yet."
The silence lengthens, and John realises it's his turn to speak. "Anything else?"
She shakes her head, a wrinkle of worry appearing on her forehead. "No, but…I just wanted to see how you're doing. You haven't been down here since the last case two weeks ago, and—"
John doesn't let her finish. "I'm fine, really. Everything's fine." Perhaps he should have attempted to put a little more effort into the statement because Molly doesn't look convinced.
"John, I know it's been difficult, but you know if you need anything, you can come to me. Because you don't sound fine and you don't look fine."
He pastes a close-lipped smile onto his face. Clearly a bad idea, since now Molly's eyes have teared up and she looks like she is about to hug him and he really, truly can't pretend to be feeling something he isn't when all he feels is a void occasionally cut through with an acid burn of frustration that's probably the start of an ulcer. Christ, he is almost forty and feels so tired at pretending.
"I've got to go. I'll, er, call you." He retreats quickly, already out the door before a few tears spill down Molly's cheeks, too far away to hear her whisper, "No, you won't," before she wipes the drops off her cheek and goes back to work with shaking hands.
He runs into Mrs. Hudson in the hallway at Baker Street. Nowhere is the look found more often than on her face; in fact, it seems her default expression for him nowadays. He puts up with the look and the copious amounts of food she thinks it necessary to give him daily, even though he insists that he can and does still shop for himself and is still capable of cooking. Today it's some sort of quiche that she thrusts into his hands after he takes off his jacket.
"Oh dear, look at the state of you. Have you slept at all? I know you said no before, but some of my herbal soothers really might help you get some rest."
"I'm a doctor, Mrs. Hudson, I can get sleeping pills if I need them. Thanks for the quiche."
As he makes his way upstairs, he can tell without seeing that she is shaking her head sadly. "It's so sad to see you like this, dear. It's been two months, don't you think you should—"
Perhaps he slams the door as he retreats to the flat. Or maybe just closes it a bit harder than necessary.
No more piles of books or papers to navigate. No knife in the mantel holding a dusty stack of letters. No mouldering remains rotting away in the fridge. Most of Sherlock's belongings had been packed away by John and Greg in the days right after the funeral, sorted into banker's boxes labelled carefully and placed in neat stacks in Sherlock's bedroom. The books that had been shelved next to the fireplace remain in their place and a few racks of test tubes still live on the kitchen shelves, but the flat is cleaner and far too empty now. Greg had offered to patch the bullet holes in the wall and try to find the paper to repair the damage, but John had just shaken his head numbly and the project had been forgotten.
The boiling water in the electric kettle is suddenly fascinating. John carries his tea over to the living room and sits in his chair. His shoes are kicked off to land by the fireplace. He drinks cup after cup of tea as the shadows on the wall grow longer and the sounds of traffic in the street below grow louder. Weekend visits to the countryside would be over soon as Londoners returned home to prepare for the start of another work week. He hadn't been to the clinic in three weeks, and Sarah had stopped calling.
His growling stomach reminds him that food is probably necessary by this point. He heats up a slice of the quiche and returns to the chair, flicking on the telly. Some sort of history programme about the pyramids is on, and he watches mindlessly, the noise a welcome break from the quiet. It's only five o'clock; five more hours before he can shower and sleep and wake up to more pity and no chases or shootouts or brilliant blue-gray-green eyes studying him as he tries to catch up with Sherlock, who had no doubt deduced the solution dozens of minutes ago but still waits for John to figure it out.
He must have dozed off sometime after finishing the quiche, because he dreams. He is limping, cane in hand, through the park. When he passes the duck pond, Harry is there, feeding the birds seashells because the pond is no longer a duck pond but an ocean. They sit on a bench as the surf moves to cover their feet and the ducks paddle around them, quacking loudly until Harry feeds them more shells.
She frowns at him then, studying his face. "There's something wrong with you. You're not right anymore." He doesn't respond, and she goes on, still feeding the ducks without her piercing eyes ever leaving his face. "You've got bags under your eyes and your limp is back. Don't you think you've carried on enough already?" He gapes at that, unable to speak. The tide had surged and now the water covers their laps, but Harry hasn't noticed. "He's dead and he's not coming back and frankly, John, this is starting to get pathetic."
The water reaches his chest, and there are more ducks coming from among the half-submerged trees, and he still can't speak. "Why can't you just get over it? It's been two months and he's not coming back and everyone's getting sick of tiptoeing around your grief," Harry hisses. "What are you waiting for? Pull yourself together." He finally manages to whisper, "I can't," before the water reaches his lips and he chokes and the ocean swallows him.
John wakes with a start to find that the sky is dark, the lamp in the corner has been switched on, and Mycroft Holmes is perched in Sherlock's chair, watching him.