Disclaimer: I own nothing, let alone anything British.
Summary: Sherlock finds his best friend dead in their flat. A death he doesn't want to share with the world.
Set: During Season II.
Rating: T for being both angsty and really morbid (not necrophile, mind you, but morbid nonetheless).
A/N: I really wasn't planning on writing any Sherlock fanfiction - after all, I have so many others that desperately need finishing and you probably won't find a single almost canon Sherlock fanfic that hasn't been written a dozen times before. But the plot bunny popped up and I wanted to do it, so here it is. Nice and angsty, but I can picture Sherlock doing this.
I'm German and mostly write American English, so I hope this passes for British English. If not, tell me what I did wrong. I apologize in advance for possible mistakes.
Please read and review! No flames, please.
Deduction of decay
I walk into the room and I know something's off even before I see him. It's one of those grand entrances – the only ones I find fitting for my sheer intellectual prowess – and I stop dead in my tracks before the sentence is finished.
"John, put down that laptop and go make me some t-…"
He's sitting there at the table, probably having written in that insufferably ineloquent blog of his. His hands hang limply down his sides and his chin touches his clavicles. It doesn't take my genius to deduce he's not breathing.
A part of me, something small and aching and disbelieving wants to shout his name, run to him and shake him until he has no choice but to wake up, but it's easily dismissed. There is no use in that. I can tell by the pallor of his skin that he's been like this for a long time and I briefly wonder how long it's been since I last saw him – a little over fourteen hours, out on the case I'm still solving in the back of my mind, because it's so obvious, so obvious what happened – and I take in the cold cup of tea, half-finished next to his laptop.
I could check for all known and some unknown poisons, but it is not necessary. Moriarty has won.
It almost disgusts me how little he has tried to hide his signature, how much he didn't even bother to make it look like an accident, how he didn't even make it crass. Slip him poison – probably in the tealeaves, because we don't drink the same type or on the rim of John's favorite cup, the only one that's not Mrs Hudson's and that hasn't at some point been used to conduct an experiment of any kind (or so he thinks) – and let me find him. I don't doubt Moriarty will be in touch, to taunt, to gloat, as all villains do when they've gained a victory.
I still haven't moved from the spot where I stood when I realized John was dead, hand still on the door, coat and scarf feeling strangely constricting all of a sudden. I have more important things to do than take them off, though, and so I pull out my mobile phone and quickly dial an all-too familiar number.
Lestrade answers after seven rings, sounding like he had just woken up. He's obviously only had two cups of coffee today, having cut back due to his doctor telling him he was provoking heart failure – runs in the family, Lestrade is upset and actually worried. A short glance in his general direction a few hours the day before had given it away. He was so easy to read, always.
I tell him where the body he's currently searching for can be found according to my analysis of the case, then I hang up and put the phone back into my pocket.
I walk over to John, calmly assessing the situation. Yes, everything is the way I expected it. His blog is opened, last entry incomplete - …
The Heart of Disaster
I think even if I spent the rest of my days watching Sherlock solve cases, it wouldn't get boring or cease to astound me. I envy him for that brain, sometimes more than I can say and certainly more than I'd admit to his face – yes, he has stopped reading this a long time ago, bored with it, of course – but on the other hand I don't think anyone else could handle seeing and understanding so much at once.
Anyway, there we were, chasing a killer through the streets of London yet again and just when we were about to lose him, Sherlock slows down and retreats to that place he calls his 'mind palace'. It's tedious to watch that happen, especially in the middle of the street. He doesn't notice when I drag him on the pavement so that at least he won't get run down and pray it won't take too long. I don't have two hours to stand with him, waiting for him to return, I have to go back to the surgery.
Thankfully he snaps out of it sooner rather than later, exclaiming: "The flute!" and breaks into a run in the opposite direction. I follow the best I can, I always do, but I don't know what the hell he even
… and his eyes are still open, fixated on the keyboard he can't see anymore. It must have been quick, like I would have expected of Moriarty: a fondness for drama and grandeur, but sometimes just subtle enough to hit you exactly where it hurts.
I clear off the other chair – hardly ever used – and sit down opposite of John. Part of me is bored already. My arch-nemesis (the one who isn't my reprehensible brother) has made his move and I should answer, but where is the point? I will catch him sooner or later, but this is as far as he can go to hurt me. I will have his endgame figured out quickly, especially after this. It's almost disappointing things between us haven't had time to really get interesting – a mind like his – but killing John is something only a man who has nothing left to offer would do.
I stare intently at John, at his face, at those lifeless eyes and I wonder why it doesn't hurt more. I can feel something, something dull and fluttering in my chest, but I don't seem to be capable of more sentiment than that. As long as he was alive and tagging along while I solved cases and let him think he had any part of it, I had been worried for his safety. Genuine worry, an emotion I had hardly known before. Had I known before this hour I was going to lose him, this man I called my best and only friend, I would have cried, I would have shouted, I would have raged until I could make it stop and he could go on being annoyed by my habit of playing the violin at 4.30 am.
It all seems superfluous now. I failed, because there were no signs and I didn't know and he is dead now and no intellectual power in the world can bring him back. Maybe the reason I can't grieve is because he's just sitting there, not so much unlike he did when he was alive.
It's dark outside now and I remember he would tell me I had to eat something, because I hadn't eaten all day. I haven't eaten all day. Uncharacteristically, I eventually stand up and get the leftover Indian food from the refrigerator. I don't feel like eating, as I almost never do, but he seems to be telling me, so I do.
After I finish swallowing, forcing down the rest of the meal, I carelessly throw the styrofam container into the sink. John's still sitting there and that feels wrong. He's always so tired. Surely, he should go to sleep now.
I walk around the table and touch him for the first time. Well, not for the first time, obviously we have touched before – a handshake here, a grip of the arm or the wrist there, me freeing him of the explosives strapped to his chest, him punching me in the face, an awkward pat on the shoulder – but the first time since he stopped being John Watson and just became another sum of particles that would soon fall apart. He's cold; no longer a stark contrast to my own cool skin, and the wool of his terrible sweater feels slightly scratchy underneath my palm. I stand there for a few helpless seconds, hand just resting on his strong shoulder – injured, sometimes aching, but healed enough to function properly in most cases – and I can't help but wonder how I am supposed to function properly now.
I wasn't lying when I told him I was a highly functioning sociopath. That hasn't changed since I met him, but it does seem as though I've discovered a lot more unsettlingly human aspects in me than I would have thought possible before. And while he wasn't exactly on the same level with me mentally, I had gotten used to having him around, to order him to do the work I didn't feel like, to show compassion in my stead, to make me feel like perhaps I had been missing something before, like I had maybe been something akin to lonely before he moved in.
I pull him up from the chair by hooking my hands under his armpits. He is already quite stiff, but the rigor mortis is not yet complete (less than 12 hours then, judging by the room temperature) and I drag him to the sofa without much of a problem. He really isn't heavy.
I pull him up and onto the sofa – usually my spot here, but I don't feel like carrying him all the way up to his room – laying him down and arranging him so that he is lying there facing me, eyes dead and still. I pull a blanket over him until it covers him up to his chest. On a whim, I press a kiss to the top of his head – a silly, meaningless gesture that feels right and terribly wrong at the same time. His soft grayish blonde hair tickles my lips before I pull away again. I can't smell any poison on him, just the shower he took earlier, the remains of disinfectant from the surgery and the Earl Gray (no sugar) that put him in this permanent lifeless state. I kneel down beside him, intently watching his face until morning, my hand resting on his.
The next days pass in a blur. I leave the house to help Lestrade with his case overload – nothing truly captivating, but enough to keep me on my metaphorical toes. When I get asked where John is, I answer he has caught a particularly nasty flu. I don't know why I lie. I know, sooner or later, everyone will know, but so far, I get away with it. I don't think I'm ready to share this with the rest of the world or what little of it will care about this one life that is no more.
It's interesting, really, being able to study up close what it feels like if it's not just an anonymous body, but when you're the one who has lost the person that used to be in it. Be a mourner for once, not a detective. Though it isn't strictly true. Grief seems to elude me, like every other human sentiment I felt stirring inside of him during the time spent with John. I sometimes wonder if I should feel relief over that.
I talk to him, to the lifeless body that used to be my best friend. I wonder if I should throw out the skull occupying the mantelpiece or take it back up. I wonder what would be healthier. I need someone to listen to me as I deduct, it helps me think and clears my mind. Except sometimes it isn't enough to just talk. The months with John have spoiled me with not always unwanted talking back. Naturally, he doesn't, now, and once I slap him across his face for not answering. He doesn't react, of course, and I never do it again.
The weeks go by and I watch with fascination as his body rots. I have seen several stages of decay, have studied them, but still, most corpses I see on a slap in the morgue, preserved and cleaned. This is something else entirely, it is the process itself. The smell doesn't disturb me much and I quickly get rid of any maggots I see.
By now, John is propped up against a wall, to avoid soiling the sofa and I keep a watchful eye to the happenings. I still talk to him, but most of the time I just kneel there, closer than I probably should and stare at him for hours.
It is only when Mrs Hudson, whom I had forbidden to enter does what I told her not to that I get found out. I'm not there when she is alarmed by the smell in our – my – flat and finds the half-rotten corpse. I don't hear her scream or call the police.
Lestrade is there when I do come home, looking older than ever, asking me what the hell I was thinking with a look of almost worry in his eyes. He never asks if I killed him. In fact, nobody does, not even Sally, who is quieter than usual (though I can tell she wants to) or Mrs Hudson, who is clearly in shock.
John's funeral is a quiet affair, Lestrade having kept the murder under wraps after I informed him of what I deduced. Only a small number of people attend. His sister, smelling strongly of bourbon. Three old army buddies. A selected few of his ex-girlfriends whose names I can't remember. Two random people from the surgery that he had never even talked about. Mrs Hudson, of course. Lestrade, Molly, Mycroft, all three seeming to be there for me rather than for him. I don't know why. I never once cry.
It's only when I go back to the flat and send a fussing Mrs Hudson away that it really sinks in he is gone. There are no tears for that. There are only the lines I read in his blog, because now I do read it, every last syllable. It's fitting, really, what he says there about me and I wonder if anyone will ever know me as well as he did ever again.
Sherlock Holmes is quite possibly the most brilliant mind of our age. Hell, what do I know, maybe of all ages. But I sometimes wonder if he isn't also the loneliest. And if that is the case, does he really want to be?
I looks up at the empty space my friend used to occupy. A soft, almost tender whisper I barely recognize as my own as I close the laptop.
Now, on to catching Moriarty. I have a case to solve, after all.