An End

Do you ever get the feeling that you've been here before? Same place, different time...

Baker Street. Even in ruin as it was, it retained that unmistakable air of home. It had been one of the strangest days of John's life (bear in mind that he had indeed once awoken to find a jackal chewing on his arm) and it was all he could do not to fall into sleep.

They lay together, Sherlock and he, on the remains of the living room floor, not speaking, apart from each other as the crowded room allowed. It was an understanding; a peace, of sorts.

John could hear every beat of his heart, each shallow breath of his companion, even the tickle of wind on the window sent a carrying thrill through him. Dramatic as it was, he felt that they couldn't possibly be in the London he once knew. This was another world, where he was alive with the small pleasures of simply being, of having another person by your side in utter silence and feeling nothing but contentment in between. It was surely another world.


Lost in thought, the other man did not respond. John looked to him. The smile on his face slipped.


He scrambled to his knees, grabbing the detective by his slender wrist.


A hand on his forehead revealed a clammy heat. His face was bloodless, still, his breathing shallower than ever.

"For God's sake, Sherlock, look at me!"

With an audible gasp, the formerly immobile corpse of a man sprang to life. "What on earth is it?" he demanded, frowning up at the stunned doctor.

John breathed again, for what felt like the first time in a long minute. "What's wrong?"

"Excuse me?" Sherlock bristled. "I believe it was you that started with the panic and accusations."

He would have laughed, had he believed for a second that Sherlock was being deliberately ignorant.

"It was like you were in a trance or something," he explained, trying desperately to reel in his own annoyance.

Sherlock made a tutting noise. "Don't be ridiculous."

"You're ok then?"

Sherlock glared, "meaning?"

"You don't look so good."

He was pale, it was true. And maybe it was John's imagination, but he could swear the man looked thinner.

"You didn't seem to mind earlier," Sherlock smirked.

"Don't change the subject."

"The subject is dull though, wouldn't you say?"


John cut off abruptly. The pair of them froze as a noise became painfully clear: footsteps.

Sherlock's eyes widened. "With me," he hissed, gesturing towards the kitchen.

There was no time for questions. Together they made their way from the open ruin of the living room to behind cover of the kitchen.

"It's my landlady," Sherlock noted in a whisper. "And she's got company."

Two pairs of footsteps advanced. A voice was becoming clear.

"This is it then?" A woman asked sadly. "Compensation doesn't even begin cover it." Her voice was tinged with tired anger.

"I'm doing everything I can." A man spoke now, exasperated and equally morose.

Sherlock shifted beside him. He muttered something that sounded like "strayed," leaving John confused as ever.

The woman sighed. "I know dear, I know."

They had stopped waking. For a moment they simply stood, simply taking in the damage. There was a sniff, before the woman blew her nose noisily, causing Sherlock to shuffle uncomfortably in place.

"I just wish we knew where he was. Honestly, after all he's done for the police!" She said indignantly. "It's not right. They should be looking for him."

"I agree."

"But...?" Sherlock's landlady pressed him.

"I said I agree with you."

"But you think he should have made more of an effort," she insisted, "been friendlier. I know what they said about him. I know it, dear."

"Well, maybe. But I'm not sure it would have mattered so much. Sherlock making an effort isn't exactly..."

"Orthodox," she suggested.

"I suppose not."

Neither stranger spoke again for several minutes.

"I'm sorry."

It was the man, his apology full of regret.

"Oh, Inspector, don't go blaming your-self for this. He's got a good heart, no one can convince me otherwise, but the boy was always reckless; he thought he was indestructible if you ask me."

Sherlock was oddly rigid now, his breathing muted.

"'re right, I know. I just can't help thinking it was me that pushed him other the edge. What with that drugs bust stunt and all."

The woman just sighed again, "Reckless boy."

Sherlock moved noiselessly to the small bathroom, indicating firmly that John should not follow. When he returned, his skin seemed papery as the note he held in his hand. He held the scrap away from John, placing it, ever so carefully, as to not attract the attention of their unexpected visitors, on the kitchen table.

"I promise you, Mrs Hudson," the man was saying, "if nothing else, we'll find the person who did this to your flat. I'll find them..."

John felt a hand on his sleeve, and then Sherlock's lips were at his very ear, "time to go."

Without a sound, they hurried through the kitchen door and down the hall. The stairs were more problematic. John's leg burned painfully and unexpectedly. He cursed loudly before he was struck with the realisation of reality.

The conversation upstairs halted.


Sherlock's eyes nearly rolled out of his head, "now!"

John didn't need to be told twice. They bolted, down the stairs, under the police tape.


The man shouted after them. He intended to follow, that much was obvious. But they didn't look back, and by the time the chance came, they were already in a cab, racing into the night.

If someone had told John 24 hours ago, that he would soon be on the run with Sherlock Holmes, free of hospital and free of the numbness that has encompassed him since returning from Afghanistan, he wouldn't have believed them. But if someone had told him the truth, he would probably punch them and give up altogether.

That is because John Watson was not free; he was merely passing by a moment. Unbeknownst to him, it was a moment already long gone.

"Why here?" John asked finally.

There was no bitterness between them anymore. No space.

Behind them, a cab drove away.

"I really don't know," said Sherlock. "Shall we find out?"

John grinned, "Let's."

They stood before two grand pillared buildings, pale and adjacent. The carving below the stone crests declared them a college, but their name was long-since unreadable.

The college itself was tall-ceilinged and cool; shadows crawled over them as they walked through its empty halls. Each footstep cried out beneath them. John didn't know where they were going. He knew better than to ask by now.

Sherlock demanded leadership. In the shade he looked more gaunt than ever, taller than John remembered him, and final. It was in his slow, defiant walk, and firm tilt of his chin. No emotion passed his face here.

At last, they reached the end.

"This is the place," announced Sherlock.

It was grave. Perhaps it was just another spacious, if somewhat emotionless classroom. Maybe in the day it was a perfectly delightful place to be. Maybe...

John stalled. "You went to school here?"

Sherlock was glassy-eyed.

"Do you teach here?" he fumbled with the thought of Sherlock engaging a class of young people and thought better of it. "Do you reckon we were followed, then?"

It seemed a safe question. The cab that had been on their trail until a particularly messy series of back streets was fresh in both their minds.

"Sherlock...Please, just don't be cryptic about this. I need to know what you know."

"You will never know what I know –"

If John didn't hear the low key of pain in his friend's voice, he would have assumed arrogance at his words. But the sadness was there, as was that old foe hopelessness.

"That's one thing I'm glad of," Sherlock finished. "But you deserve this much; it's all I can do for you now. Do you know why I found you?"

John frowned. "Why we met?"


"You said...drugs."

"No, I said I had a run in with something a little strong."



Blue lights flooded over them and soon the wail of sirens filled the room. It seemed that the police had caught up with them after all.

"What do you mean? Why poison?"

"Because I was alone,"

Turning to face him, Sherlock's eyes glistened with something beyond help. "I want you to know that it was real. It was all real, and I owe you...I owe you everything."

John's leg seared with pain again, and he found that his hand shook uncontrollably in his pocket. "You're not ok, are you?" He said.

Sherlock laughed shakily. "I suppose I'm not, no."

John nodded, swallowing emotional words with difficulty. "This room, what's the significance of it."

Sherlock looked out at the fast approaching siren-callers, his sharp features now enveloped in an uneasy defeat.

"This is where I died."

When John would look back at this moment, he would notice the sickly pallor of Sherlock's face, his bone thin face or his tired, matted hair. He would notice, in hindsight, the haggard mouth and the beginnings of a rank smell.

But if you asked him right then and there, all he could have told you was that Sherlock was fading.

Chilled, it was all John could do to watch.

"You see, it's simple. So simple," Sherlock spat the word in repulsion. "The day I died, you should have been there. The day you started wanting to kill yourself, I should have been there. We should have been partners, and we could have been legends. But it's too late. It's just too late."

John neither spoke nor cried. He held as still as he ever could, and he held himself tall. Because if this was the end of Sherlock Holmes, it was the end of him, and John Watson does not go down without a fight.

"Moriarty," he said at last. "You said that earlier, you said he was after you...he destroyed your flat! He did this."

Sherlock closed his eyes, smiling lightly. Twisted and fading, he had never looked more beautiful than he did to John right then.

"Moriarty was wrong. I know now what he wanted, an equal. Then he wanted to destroy me, and he wanted to do it heart first. But he was wrong."


"Moriarty was wrong," he repeated. "And I'll tell you why. That flat was never home, and I never had a heart."


John destroyed the space between them, reaching out for Sherlock, finding nothing at all.

The body. There was a body.

Just a corpse where he had lived and breathed.

Even in pure death, Sherlock was magnificent. There were no words, nothing but the roar of loss and denial and pure unadulterated rage pounded in John's skull. He stared and he stared, and then he fell.

He collapsed over the broken body of the man he had never met, shaking him, screaming swear words and promises and prayers. He needn't have bothered.

It was over.

The room swam in and out of consciousness. Police and paramedics came and went. Sherlock's body remained, lying horribly still like a terrible attraction amid a crowd of disrespectful tourists.

The man called Lestrade leaned before him, his familiar voice questioning and breaking like a frightened child.

"Sherlock? Oh my God, Sherlock!" he was saying, over and over. "Oh God."

"He can't hear you." John heard himself say the words.

"Who the bloody hell are you?" asked Lestrade, grief screaming through his words.

John smiled. "I'm with him."


It has been said that every Holmes needs his Watson, and this is intrinsically true. But Watson, he tends to draw the short straw. He watched then as his friend faded forever. And he knew that it wasn't fair. Had the world been fair, they would have had each other. Had their universe been as it should, they would have been happy. They would have lived, and loved, and simply been. But not now; that moment had passed.

"But the most special

are the most lonely

God, I pity the violins."