Nothing ever happened to him.
Once upon a time, things had happened, Sherlock had happened, but now all that happened were his own, lonely attempts to survive one day to the next. Life had been drained of all colour and significance, muted to grey like the rain lashing against the window panes, splintering the sky.
Get out of bed. Have breakfast. Go to work. Come home. Have dinner. Try and sleep.
John didn't even know what he did in the gaps between those six objectives, it seemed like a white space. Certainly, he did nothing worth mentioning or of merit.
He just tried. Soldiered on against the tedium of life-without Sherlock.
God, even in his own head he sound pathetic. He liked to think that one day when he told everyone he was fine he'd mean it, but after three years 'fine' seemed to be a long way away.
He was better than he had been, from an external position the general consensus was that he'd 'moved on.' Quite literally, in fact, since he'd moved to a crummier, smaller apartment. Mycroft had tried to get him to stay at 221B, but he'd refused.
The whole flat screamed of emptiness, and he already had enough ghosts in his mind without adding another thousand everyday in memories. This was better. The pain was never gone, festering inside his chest like another bullet wound untreatable by either doctors or therapists, but sometimes he could get it to dull slightly.
Dull. Boring. Monotonous. Ordinary.
Ordinary John Watson. Ordinary life.
He hated it.
He thought he'd managed to perfect his charade by now, the farce and facade of the man he used to be. Only a few people saw through the cracks, or suspected their existence Mrs Hudson, Lestrade and...to his utmost surprise, Molly.
He didn't know about Mycroft, the 'british government' probably didn't acknowledge his existence anymore. With Sherlock gone he was just another face in the crowd, and they'd never parted on good terms. He'd punched the man at the funeral, it had caused quite the stir. He hardly regretted it though.
He went to the graveyard on Sundays, that was all he would allow himself in his efforts for normalcy normalcy that numbed his insides and mind and it was only there that he allowed everything to wash over him once more.
People told him that grief faded after a while, but they lied. His wounds still felt raw, when he let himself feel them. His throat felt thick. He sat down, with a flask of whiskey, and started to talk.
Moran is on the move MH
Sherlock glanced at his phone, snatching it up, out the door in barely a moment.
He was exhausted, and the only thing that kept him going now was the opportunity of peace when his task was done seeing John again if the other would welcome him back.
He'd never expected to miss his army doctor, caring wasn't really in his nature and sentiment was an inconvenient, sticky thing that he'd largely managed to steer clear of in life.
Yet, now, affection clung stubbornly to his form like a well-fitting cloak, a cloak he couldn't shake off, and didn't want to because it was warm and comforting. It had disconcerted him at first, caused him to strike defensively against the unfamiliarity that crept under his skin despite his best efforts, but now...now he missed it. He just wanted to go home.
And Moran was the last piece.
He fired back another text.
Graveyard. John. MH
His heart ran cold in anticipation.
Sebastian saw Watson stiffen as he heard the click of his gun, turning immediately to face him. He had to give it to the good doctor, he was well trained. This was almost a waste, and, in another life, he may have regretted the loss of potential. He surveyed him calmly.
"I don't normally work like this," he said, lightly. "It's a pleasure to meet face to face at last, Doctor Watson."
Watson's eyes narrowed with suspicion,the previously prevalent limp fading immediately.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
Sebastian smiled, faintly, without humour. It had been a long time since he'd been asked that question and indeed a long time since he'd escaped the quagmire of grief and purposeless his boss' death had left behind to be asked it. Like a black hole, a vacuum, the space of Jim sucked up his will to create an empty man.
"Sebastian Moran," he replied. I'm one of Jim's." Forever, and always.
"Jim's dead," John said bluntly, brow furrowing. It was like a knife, twisting, a reminder he didn't want, a nightmare he couldn't forget.
"I know," he hissed, taking a step forward, shooting at the space where Watson's legs resided, not surprised or upset when the other leapt out the way, tense. He felt his anger surge, mobilising him, before he calmed again, the Moriarty void devouring that too. "That's why I have to do this," he added, more composedly.
"You're on a revenge kick after three years?" John questioned, eyebrows raised.
Sebastian was quiet for a minute or so.
Revenge...perhaps a little bit. Revenge was one of the few things that remained to him. It was a bitter, self-destructive sort of revenge, because Jim was dead and Holmes wasn't. He'd been stripped of everything and this former captain, the good man he could have been, still had all the potential for everything to come back.
It tasted like poison.
"You're like me, you know," he stated, circling the doctor, eyes tracing over the cracks in his armour, the perfect divides. "There are so many similarities between us...it was a pity the game ended so soon. I would have enjoyed playing with you."
"Similarities?" John returned, icily, obviously getting ready to protest, "I highly doubt-"
"-both ex army," he interrupted, curtly. "Both returned home, though I will admit my circumstances weren't quite as honourable." Then, his voice softened, a velvet coated blade, something sinister and dark wrapped up in a disarming pleasantness, like a spectre in westwood. A shadow cast over his mind. "Most importantly, perhaps, we're both haunted by the ghosts of the people we lost."
John's eyes widened, involuntarily, and Sebastian could see that agonising understanding colour the other's gaze.
Sherlock and Jim.
Holmes and Moriarty.
Holmes and Watson.
Moriarty and Moran.
Always two, now fragmented so only shadows and imprints were left.
"I suppose you reckon you're putting me out my misery then," John said, no expression on his face, though his chin jutted out with defiance. Sebastian stared at him in return.
Holmes would be coming, as he came for them all. He didn't have much time.
Sebastian would make Holmes share his misery, this acid. He would burn the heart out of him, finish what Jim had started. Only then could he perhaps find his own peace and move on from Moran and Moriarty, from the chains that shackled him to a faceless grave.
He would live again.
Live to die. Born to die. He would see Jim again. He edged forwards, herding John back until he was pressed to the grave of Sherlock Holmes. Fitting. Jim would have approved.
His hand was unwavering, he couldn't miss, and smiled, almost grateful.
"You're my closure, John, the last task he ever gave me. Goodbye."
Goodbye Jim Moriarty.
A shot rang in the night.
John felt himself being shoved aside by a black and white blur of motion. He hit the ground hard, the air knocked out of his lungs, the smell of grass in his nostrils. His head whipped to the side to see Moran aiming again, hatred in his eyes, hatred and something else, and then there was another shot.
The assassin slumped, dead, fingers slack on the trigger.
A tall figure towered over them both for a moment, dark hair glinting in the moonlight.
John's heart stopped, his breath catching in his throat. He was suddenly glad he was on the floor, because it felt like his knees were going to buckle, because that looked like...the man turned.
Sherlock. No. This wasn't possible. Sherlock was dead!
It looked so much like Sherlock though-the Sherlock doppelganger dropped the gun with a dull thud, and the next second hands were all over him, slender fingers tracing over his pulse, his chest and heartbeat, almost frantic.
It reminded him of the pool. He got the hysterical urge to giggle, but then the voice pierced through him to his bones, bringing a gleam of life to his veins again.
"John, are you alright? John?"
"Sherlock?" he croaked, automatically, in question.
"John..." Sherlock breathed, seemingly in relief this time. Relief soon faded to something else, a tangible awkwardness in the air, thick and suffocating. John pushed himself to sit up, eyes fixed on the ghost in front of him.
"I'm dead, aren't I?" he asked, surprisingly calm.
"No," Sherlock replied immediately. "Don't be absurd. Of course you're not...I...John, I faked my death. I didn't really die. I'm alive, do you understand that?"
Sherlock was talking to him as if he were a child, very slowly and clearly. Patronising bastard. No one else could possibly fake being this annoying, but his hand darted to Sherlock's pulse anyway, the warmth of the skin nearly searing him from the inside out in juxtaposition to the chill of the body, of the black marble he'd become so familiar with in the last three years. His mouth was dry.
"John? Say something?" Sherlock demanded.
"You left me."
"Yes," Sherlock said, expression not changing. There was no great show of concern on his face, but a glint in his eyes that spoke of something similar to that. "It was necessary."
"Necessary?" John repeated, dangerously. "Necessary!"
"Yes, necessary," Sherlock frowned. "Did you not hear me? Was the bullet too lou-"
"I heard you," John replied tightly. "I'm just having trouble seeing how you letting me think you were dead for three bloody years was necessary."
Sherlock stared at him, hands still partially resting on his shoulders, unmoving in their grip. John craved to lean into the proof of existence, proof of life...his mind was spinning.
He'd wished so many times that Sherlock would be alive, that this miracle would occur, and even, at first, envisioned how it would happen. Now, now he could hardly think, and all those previous ideas and imaginings seemed pale and insignificant to reality.
"You left me," he repeated again, very softly. For the first time, the smoothness of Sherlock's character seemed to falter slightly.
"I'm sorry," the detective murmured. "Moriarty had guns trained on you." John's eyes flicked over Moran, involuntarily, before back to Sherlock, feeling sick. "If they didn't see me jump, my friends would have been the one to suffer. I understand that you're confused...angry...but you would have made and hoped for the same outcome in my shoes."
"And after?" John persisted. "I saw you dead! I went to your funeral! Did you at no point in the last three years think that maybe you could have filled me-"
"-I thought so everyday," Sherlock interrupted, a sharp edge to his voice for the first time, his eyes flashing. "But I didn't. Because I was trying to keep you safe. Is that not what friends do, John?" the other demanded. John swallowed, thickly, his fists curling, while his posture remained completely still.
They surveyed each other for a moment, and something seemed to splinter.
"Don't ever do that again," he ordered quietly.
Sherlock studied him, before nodding once, sharply, raking his form with that piercing gaze, no doubt reading the story of the last three years, the needle thread of hurts and the stitching of scraps.
The detective, too, looked tired. Before he was pale, now, he was like a ghost. The living dead. John nearly snorted at the thought, but also felt himself softening, just slightly. Most people thought ghosts coming back was a nightmare scenario, but, in this case, he only welcomed it.
"Home?" Sherlock asked, lips curling into that half-smile. John managed to scrape together a smile himself, in response, a real one.
A/N: My first Sherlock fanfiction. Wow, I'm scared to post this.
Even if it is a somewhat cliche 'reunion fic' haha. It turned out more as a sort of character study then anything plot-y, but hey, maybe once I have a grip on my characterisations I will move on to bigger and better things.
Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this and didn't find it dull or anything like that. I have yet to decide if this will remain a oneshot, or be a threeshot or something about them settling back into life post-Reichenbach. Most people seem to stop at the return, and I like being a little different What do you guys think?