John is used to taking cabs back to Baker street alone, so when he climbs into the back and utters the address to the cabbie, it doesn't feel any different. The ride is taken in relative silence, save for the cabbie's questions about John's day- questions that more often than not go ignored. Normally, Sherlock would have spoken up from his side with an icy "Piss off." But the words go unsaid in the unusually stuffy cab, and John feels his stomach twist painfully.
When at last the black cab pulls to the shoulder, John hands the driver a fistful of singles and change before exiting into the now chilly London air. His shoes scrape beneath him, a byproduct of his shuffling gait. But he can't be bothered with any of it.
A teary eyed Missus Hudson greets him at the door, a tissue blackened with eye makeup clenched in shaking fingers. Neither of them can speak and John reaches out and rubs her shoulder in comfort before brushing past her. The soldier in him screams from the back of his mind to keep control, but as he rounds the bend in the stairs his traitorous emotions turn coat on him.
The first thing that assaults John Watson's raw nerves is the gentle, creeping smell of rain. It's an advancing dampness that takes up residence on chilly window sills and hangs in the air like an almost breeze.
He can't bring himself to travel past the threshold of the flat that he shares- shared with his best friend. Sherlock's being hasn't quite left the tiny flat and John feels like he is intruding on Sherlock's space, much like he had in the beginning.
But he isn't, not anymore.
Believing it to be his only way out, Sherlock had jumped.
Sherlock had pleaded with a distressed, hysterical John to keep his distance. "John, will you do this for me?" Sherlock's normally flat tone was tinged with grief, and desperation. Aside from his brief spells with migraines, John had never before seen the detective in such a state.
Then, in a jump that would have otherwise been graceful, Sherlock plummets to the ground below, leaving the world of the living behind.
John doesn't look where he is going, and it doesn't even register that he had been hit by a biker. He just needs to get to the body, maybe something can be done. Maybe he can be saved. But he can't get through the crowd until a large pool of crimson blood stains the sidewalk and John knows that there is nothing that can be done.
But he doesn't think about Sherlock's odd behavior, because he's Sherlock. He has always been odd.
John looks into the flat through rapidly filling eyes and finds a stray teacup atop a pile of books next to the fireplace that was only lit once a year. The whole flat bore the weight of Sherlock's spirit well after his suicide. It resided in his arm chair and walked grooves into the floor with the well remembered footsteps of an antsy detective. It is as if the whole flat was suspended in time; like he isn't actually gone.
If one were to look around the flat, it would be assumed there would be only one occupant. One set of dishes dirty at a time, one laptop out. One long worn spot on the couch where his sock less feet would clench and unclench while in the throes of a post case migraine. John had lived around Sherlock, much as living with a person like him would require.
Taking his first step into the flat is difficult and almost immediately his boot brushes against a pile of medical journals to the right of the door. He ignores the ensuing miniature landslide and continues into the cramped living room.
He sits in his usual spot, across from a violin now void of an owner, and finds his military training fleeing him. One foot is drawn up close to the leg of the chair and the other is sprawled out beside the fireplace. Something is amiss, and John knows that this will never feel, be, the same. His usual sanctuary is tainted with the events of the day, and John finds it impossible to think beyond the headache manifesting in his temples.
"He can't be gone. I can still feel him. He is quite active person, I can't imagine he would do something like this. He's much too fond of himself." Missus Hudson is standing at the threshold, and John makes no move to turn around to face her. The doctor in him insists he turn to her and offer her some sort of comfort. But John is drained, and isn't sure he could be of any help.
John considers her words as she retreats back downstairs, and writes them off as denial.
If Sherlock had taught him anything it would be to trust his senses, above all else.
He had seen his best friend fall from a rooftop.
He had heard the resulting frenzy around the body of his flat mate on the sidewalk.
He felt the still, ivory skin beneath his own shaking fingers.
His friend was gone.