Category: Sherlock BBC

Title: In the End

Summary: " . . .every breath he takes, and every heartbeat brings the bullet closer to his heart. I'm afraid that Mr Holmes will not make it through the night." - Sherlock/John. Angst. Major character death.

Rated: T, just in case.

Hey guys!

I have to warn you about this one, there is MAJOR character death, and it is EXTREMELY angsty! So, please don't read this if you're not in the mood for that sort of fic! If you are though, carry on reading.

This fic took me . . . a very long time to write. But I'm glad I didn't just rush it, and write it in one day, because I wouldn't have been able to tell the story properly. I know it's very long, so maybe you might not want to read it all in one, I don't know.

Anyway, please review afterwards, as it did take me a long time.

Megan :)

John ran behind the crowds of doctors and nurses, as they wheeled a gurney down the pristine hallways. His head was pounding, and his vision was blurred. He was having trouble keeping up, but managed to stay only a little behind the gurney. He could hear very faint voices in the background, but he was too panicked to hear them properly. He felt sick. He could feel cold sweat covering his body, and he was having trouble breathing properly. As he crashed through the doors of Accident & Emergency, he managed to get one simple thought out of his clouded mind; How did I let this happen?

Although it was the only thought that John could get out of himself, it spun and whirled around his head like a tornado. And that was how he felt. Like he'd been swept up by a tornado, and all the air had been sucked out of his lungs. He felt like the ground had been pulled from his feet, and he was just being tossed around in the air like a child's toy. The only thing that kept him from passing out was the worry.

Please be okay. Let him be okay . . . be okay! He thought, as he reached the waiting room. They'd taken the gurney immediately down that hallway that he knew to lead to the operating room. He sat down on a soft, green chair in the corner, and put his head in his hands. How had he let this happen? If only he'd been a little more aware, moved a little bit quicker . . . John knew that people were watching him, but for the first time, he didn't care. He didn't even care if he had an emotional breakdown in public, he just wanted him to be okay. He didn't think he could live with himself if . . . if he . . . He couldn't even think about it. Just the thought of losing him again made John want to curl up in a ball and sob for weeks.

Come on, he thought to himself, think! John knew that he could quite easily work out the outcome of the operation, and of the injury, if he thought about it hard enough. He'd had medical training, and he'd been an army doctor for two years for God's sakes! John could remember coming out of the flat with Sherlock, and locking the door behind him. They'd only taken a few steps, before John had gotten a text. He pulled out his phone then, in the waiting room, and read it again, his eyes stinging.

Second time lucky? - JM.x

It had only taken John a matter of seconds to figure out what it meant. Unfortunately, he was a few seconds too late. He heard the gunshot before he could even look up. He saw Sherlock fall to the floor, and he saw the blood. So much blood. More than last time. It was all over his chest, made more visible by his white shirt. Without a moment's hesitation, John dropped the phone and fell to the floor beside him. He pressed his hands to Sherlock's chest, trying to stop the bleeding a little, and shouting for help. And whilst he sat there, hands covered in his best friends blood, he looked up to the roof of the building across the street, and saw him. Moriarty. Moriarty was alive.

John shook his head, feeling slightly sick at the memory. Judging by where the blood had been coming from, and how much there had been, he'd been shot quite close to the heart. Luckily, it hadn't gotten to his heart, as Sherlock had still been breathing when the ambulance came. Still, John knew he still didn't have a very good chance of surviving. But it all depended on the placement of the bullet, and how close it was to his heart. Knowing how severe the injury was, and how long it was likely to be before he got any news, John lay down on the chair, and closed his eyes. Though, he had no intention of sleeping.

John was woken by the sharp taps of shoes coming down the hallway. For a moment, he almost managed to convince himself that it was Sherlock, coming back, fully recovered already. Coming to tell him that it had all been a big misunderstanding, and it had looked a lot worse than it was. Then he would complain that the hospital was 'dull', and they would go home. But then, the rational part of John's brain kicked in. Of course it wasn't Sherlock, he would only have been asleep for a few hours, if that. No one could recover from a gunshot wound that fast, not even Sherlock Holmes.

John sat up in the chair, and sighed. He saw the doctor coming down the hallway, carrying a clipboard, and he sat up a little straighter. His heart began to race, and it felt like it was going to beat right out of his chest. He'd like to say that he'd never been more nervous or scared in his life, but that would be a lie. The only other time he'd ever been that scared or nervous was when Sherlock had . . . when he'd died. And John had sworn when he came back that he would never go through that again. It had almost killed him. Yet, there he was, once again, worrying about Sherlock bloody Holmes.

Still, he prayed that the doctor was coming to him, and that he had good news. Maybe they'd been able to get the bullet out already? And John could see him now? Maybe John had been asleep for longer than he'd thought, and Sherlock was already awake? But then . . . what if they had operated, and it hadn't gone well? What if the bullet had done irreparable damage to Sherlock? Something that meant he couldn't live by himself anymore? Something that meant John had to take care of him, and he couldn't do things for himself? John realized in that second that he didn't care. As long as Sherlock was alive, he didn't care about what he'd have to do. If he had to take care of that ruddy sociopath for the rest of his life, so be it.

John knew the doctor was coming to talk to him, as their eyes met across the large waiting room. There were only a few people left in there, so it probably wasn't that hard for the doctor to guess who John was, plus, he was the only person on his own. As John saw the doctor walk towards him, he knew that the news wasn't good. He could see it in the other man's eyes. It was the same look that John had given to patients when he had to tell them a relative had died. Please don't be dead. Please don't be dead. The words circled John's head, as the doctor gestured for him to come with him somewhere.

He was surprised that he could even get up, and his legs did sway a little when he tried. But he tried to ignore the nausea and weakness in his muscles, and followed the doctor down the hallway. His vision was blurry once more, and his hands, balled into fists, were shaking. The walls were spinning, and it felt like they were closing in on him, so tight that he couldn't breathe. The only thing that kept him walking was the idea that Sherlock was somewhere down that hallway, waiting for him. The doctor would take him there, and Sherlock would be okay. He'd be sat up in the hospital bed, laughing at John for being so stupid as to be worried about him.

John knew that wasn't what he was going to find, though. No matter how hard he tried to convince himself. Whatever the doctor was about to tell him, it wasn't good news, he already knew that. As they approached a door at the side of the hallway, John knew that whatever had happened, Sherlock wasn't going back into surgery. They must have already tried something, and it had failed. Because the room that John was walking into was a room used for overnight patients, and it was a private room, not on a ward. That could only mean one thing, and it was something that John didn't even want to think about.

Sherlock would have been proud, John figuring all that out from just the length of time, and the room that Sherlock had been placed in. Clearly, he was a lot better at deductions than he'd originally thought. Yet another way that Sherlock had changed John's life.

As the doctor opened the door, John breathed a sigh of relief. There, behind the door, was Sherlock Holmes. And he was awake. He was sat up in the hospital bed. He wore a white, and pristine hospital gown, and had been cleaned up since John had last seen him. He had the bed covers up to his waist, and as far as John could tell, he was not plugged into any life support machines, or heart monitors, which was good. It all looked too good to be true, until John looked into his best friend's face. Sherlock was trying hard to smile, but John could tell how obviously fake it was. It was too tight, too wide, and it didn't reach his eyes. His eyes. John looked, searching, into his eyes, but all he could see was sadness.

The doctor gestured for John to enter the room, and he did so with cautious steps. He sat down on the bed, wanting to be as close to Sherlock as he could. He wanted to make sure that he was alive. Though he still knew that something was wrong.

"Mr Watson, um . . . I'm afraid I have some terrible news . . ." the doctor began. And John's heart sunk as he realized that he had been right. Something was wrong, horribly wrong, and he wasn't going to like it. "Mr Holmes has already been informed of his current situation, but he insisted that we tell you straight away. The bullet . . . it, um . . . it only avoided his heart very narrowly, so it is very deeply embedded beneath the skin. So deep in fact, that, well . . . if we tried to remove it, it would only . . . Mr Holmes would not survive the surgery. And, leaving it in, well . . . every breath he takes, and every heartbeat brings the bullet closer to his heart. I'm afraid that Mr Holmes will not make it through the night."

John couldn't believe what he had just heard. His best friend, Sherlock Holmes, was going to die. In less than twenty-four hours. And there was nothing that could be done about it. Of course, the doctor had said that they could make it less painful for him. They had put him on strong painkillers, though Sherlock had told them not to use their strongest. He'd said he still wanted to have clear judgement. The doctor had agreed, whatever Sherlock wanted. Last requests of a dying man, John thought bitterly. All this time, wasted. All this time, and he'd never even told Sherlock how much he'd done for him. All those years, wasted.

The doctor was gone now, and John turned to face Sherlock slowly. The consulting detective looked back at John, his eyes full of sadness.

"I'm so sorry, John." he whispered, and John looked at him, astounded. Sherlock was dying, and he was apologizing? That was probably the sickest thing that John had ever heard. To think that . . . no. He could never blame Sherlock for this. The thought disgusted him.

"It's not your fault, Sherlock. Of course it's not . . ." John replied, and he suddenly, without thinking, reached out, and grabbed Sherlock's hand. He held it tightly in his, and smiled a little when the younger man didn't pull away. It was strange really, in any other circumstance, Sherlock would have pulled away from the contact immediately. He hated to show any kind of emotion, he believed it showed weakness. And though both of the men knew how much the other meant to them, it never had to be said.

"I just . . . I don't want to leave you, John." John heard the break in Sherlock's voice, and he felt his heart rip right down the middle. Why him? Why, out of all the people in the world, did it have to be him? Sherlock was the most brilliant man that John had ever met, had ever even dreamed of. He was amazing, larger than life. He was the person that the world needed the most. He had saved so many people, helped so many people, John being one of them. And yet, nobody knew about it. John doubted that even Sherlock himself knew how much he had done for people. John knew when he said people, he really meant himself.

"I know . . . " John whispered, in a voice that he would usually only use for a patient. He tried to be soothing, and calm, when really, on the inside, he felt like he was on the verge of a sobbing break down. But he knew he couldn't cry in front of Sherlock. That was the one thing that he knew wouldn't be good for Sherlock right now. Sherlock already seemed to be having trouble containing his emotions, which was rare for him. "Do you want me to call anyone? Mycroft? Your mother, maybe?"

Sherlock shook his head slowly, and looked out of the window. It was a sunny morning outside, as they'd arrived at the hospital at about one o'clock in the morning. John glanced at the clock on the wall, and saw that it was only six o'clock in the morning. That meant that he had all day until he had to say goodbye to Sherlock. Though he doubted that any amount of time would be long enough to prepare himself. Prepare himself, John almost laughed. It just sounded so business-like, and official. So emotionally detached.

"No," Sherlock replied so quietly that John barely even heard it. He sounded a little embarrassed. "No, I . . . I want to spend my last day with you, John."

John was amazed. Sherlock had one day left. One day, and he wanted spend it with him. Not with his family, not with any of his other friends, but with him. He felt a huge swelling feeling inside his chest that he couldn't explain. Sherlock was the most brilliant man that John had ever met, and he wanted John to be possibly the last face he would ever see. Words couldn't describe all the different emotions John felt at those words. He felt like smiling so hard it would split his face, but at the same time, he felt like punching the walls and screaming to the heavens. But he knew he had to be strong, if not for himself, then for Sherlock. It wouldn't be good for him to see John like that.

"Alright then. That's . . . that's fine," John said. Though it most certainly wasn't fine. His best friend was going to die in less than twenty-four hours. He was going to lose his entire world all over again, and there was nothing that could be done about it. Not a damn thing. John had always been able to accept death before, as a doctor. It was just a natural thing that happened sometimes, either by accident, on purpose, or just because. But . . . this was Sherlock, things like this didn't happen to him. Shouldn't happen to him. "What do you want to do?"

"Could you just . . . could you just lie with me?" Sherlock asked, his voice sounding so tired, so sad, and so . . . not Sherlock. It broke John's heart to see him like that, but he did as he asked. He shuffled across the bed, and lay next to the consulting detective. There wasn't much room on the bed, so they were quite close, but under the circumstances, they didn't mind. "John?"

"Yes, Sherlock?"

"Can we just . . . can we talk? About anything? Like we used to?"

"Of course."

Three hours later, Sherlock and John lay on the bed, laughing. They had spent those three hours joking about all of the strange and amazing things that they'd done. They talked about the time that they'd first met, and when they went to "look at" the flat together. They talked about the first time that John saved Sherlock's life, and John couldn't help but wish he could still do that, save Sherlock now. He wished it was within his power to do so, he wished he could just make it all go away, and he could be the hero. But he knew he couldn't. This was something that he couldn't change, couldn't help with. Sherlock was going to die that night, and there was nothing he could do to change that. The only thing he could do was whatever Sherlock asked of him. It was the least he could do.

John watched the way that Sherlock laughed, tried to memorize it, as he would probably never see it again. He watched the way his eyes crinkled at the sides, and his shoulders shook uncontrollably. He watched the unique way that his lips curved, and the dimples he had never noticed before, appeared. And he watched the way that Sherlock's dark curls bounced when he laughed. It saddened him more than he could say, thinking that he would never see that laugh again, never hear the way it echoed, and bounced off the walls. Watching Sherlock laugh was the most beautiful sight John thought he had ever seen. The fact that he was never going to see it again . . . it raised a subject he never thought he would think about again.

His feelings for Sherlock. They'd always been there, but John had never wanted to explore them. The feeling that he got in his stomach when there was any intimate contact between them, or the excitement he would feel each morning, seeing Sherlock coming down the stairs. The only time John ever let himself think about those feelings was when he was alone. It was too dangerous to think about around Sherlock, he would be able to tell straight away. But when John was alone, he let those thoughts creep in. The 'what if's, and the 'maybe's. But they were just that, thoughts. Until about five seconds ago.

"Sherlock. I love you," John whispered, half-hoping that Sherlock wouldn't hear it. But he knew this was his last chance. If these were to be his last hours with Sherlock, he was going to spend them the right way. Even if Sherlock rejected him, at least he'd tried. Because, if he hadn't told him, he only would have spent the rest of his life wondering what could have happened, rather than thinking about what did. But then again . . . if Sherlock did love him back . . . surely that would only make it harder? Thinking about what they could have been, if only John had spoken sooner. All of those thoughts . . . it was too much for John to take. He'd said it now, and there was no changing that, so it wasn't worth thinking about.

John watched as the younger man's head turned towards him. He looked dazed, as if he didn't quite know what was going on. He looked at John with confusion in his normally sharp and cold eyes. His lips were parted, as if he wanted to say something, but couldn't quite find the words. He was silent. For the first time in his life, Sherlock Holmes, was silent. John could have laughed if he wasn't so nervous. The happy atmosphere from a few minutes ago was now gone, and had been replaced with one of . . . John couldn't quite think of the words. He was about to find a way to backtrack, to somehow erase what he'd just said, but then, Sherlock smiled at him.

It wasn't the smile he'd had before, when he was laughing. This smile was full of sadness, and bitterness. It was full of despair, and hopelessness. It was full of pointless wishing, and . . . and John had never seen anything more heart wrenching than that smile. It didn't quite reach Sherlock's eyes, and his lips were trembling a little. It was a helpless and lonely smile. It was full of so many emotions that John was finding it hard to even look at the other man. It was fear, and pain, not physically, but emotionally. Deep, emotional pain. It was full of sorrow, and anguish. It was faithless, and lost. It was the smile of someone who had given up, and it was tragic.

"I think . . . I think I love you too," Sherlock replied, and his words hit John like a ton of bricks. Nope. Knowing that Sherlock loved him too hurt more. It definitely hurt more. Because now his head was just full of images, and thoughts, and . . . it was too much. John could feel the tears forming, but he tried to stop himself, he did. He really tried. The last thing he wanted was for Sherlock to see him cry, especially now. So he held them back. But he knew that the longer he kept pushing back his tears, they would just build up and up and up, until eventually, they just all came out in a flood. But he didn't care. He had to be strong.

He couldn't believe it. Sherlock loved him too . . . all that time that they wasted. All those years, never saying anything, and now, here they were, and time was almost up. John knew he would never love anyone in the way that he'd loved Sherlock, and in that moment, he wanted to die too. Because it was better to die with someone you love, than to spend the rest of your life in misery, missing them. Surely, that was better? Surely that was better than having to stand, at Sherlock's grave, again. Having to pretend that he was fine, that he didn't need help, having to pretend that he didn't feel like half of him was lost. Like he wasn't empty. Like he couldn't feel any more. Surely that was better?

Because a love like the one he felt for that man . . . it only comes once in a life time. A person can die, but your love for them never does. And John knew that he would love Sherlock until the end of his days. He would miss him as long as he would live, and that would never go away. The pain, would never go away.

In that moment, John knew there was something that he had to do, otherwise, he could never forgive himself. He leaned over to Sherlock, and pressed his lips to his gently. He tried to be as gentle as possible, as he already knew Sherlock would be in a lot of pain. He didn't want to hurt him. But, at the same time, he'd been waiting so long for that moment, so long. Though he had to admit, he never thought it would happen quite like that.

"Does it hurt?" John whispered, as he lay, facing Sherlock. He had his head propped up on one of his hands, and lay on his side, as did Sherlock. John wanted to make sure they could see each other. He wanted to memorize every detail of Sherlock, before it was too late. Before he . . . was gone. John knew it was stupid, he would never be able to memorize every molecule of a person, but he didn't want to forget what he looked like, how his voice sounded. That was stupid as well, as he would never be able to forget Sherlock, not even if he tried.

"It's fine." Sherlock replied, looking down at the mattress, instead of at John, and the other man could tell he was lying. There was no way having a bullet stuck in your chest wouldn't hurt, no matter how much pain medication they had given him. "I can barely even feel it anymore."

"Sherlock," John said firmly, using his thumb to lift up Sherlock's chin, so that he was looking him right in the eyes. And John was sure he was lying then. He could see it in his eyes. Sherlock might have been very good at reading others, but he was terrible at trying to hide his own thoughts and feelings, especially when it came to John. "Don't lie to me - "

"It's fine, John." Sherlock said sternly, giving John the hardest look he could muster. John would have said something, but he knew that Sherlock was trying to be strong for him, just as he was. Yes, he was lying to him, but John would rather that. He knew Sherlock was in pain, but hearing him talk about it would probably only make it worse for the both of them. John wasn't going to cry in front of Sherlock, and Sherlock wasn't going to appear weak in front of John. They were both trying to cause each other as least pain as possible, both trying to make the situation easier on each other.

Easier, John almost scoffed. There was nothing that was going to make their current situation easier. He felt like he was on the edge of a cliff, about to fall off. Like he was hanging on by his fingertips, about to lose it all. Like, his whole world was just about to be sent into chaos, but he was still trying to hold onto it all. Like, if he held on for just that little bit longer, someone might come along and save him. If he held on just a bit longer, it would all be okay. That would have to be a miracle.

"I just wish we had more time." John muttered, trying to change the subject. They hadn't really talked about Sherlock's . . . death yet. It was just turning one o'clock, which meant they still had lots of time left. But it still wouldn't be enough. No measure of time would ever be long enough. "I thought we had all the time in the world."

"Me too, though I wouldn't have my death come any other day. I got to spend my last day with you John, that's all I ever wanted." Sherlock said, smiling sadly. John was going to miss that smile. There was so much he was going to miss. "And I'd rather it was me who died than you, I could never bear to see you hurt, John. And. . . trying to live my life without you . . . it would be next to impossible. I always thought I'd be spending the rest of my life with you, though I never thought it would happen like this. I wanted to grow old with you John, to die with you. I just wanted . . . anything but this."

John nodded. He'd wanted all of that too. Him and Sherlock, they could have spent the rest of their lives together, if they'd wanted to. It would have been so easy. And in a sick, twisted way, he envied Sherlock. Because he wasn't the one who'd now have to go out, and live his life, half-alive, with a piece of him missing. He wouldn't have to spend his life in an empty flat full of ghosts, but unable to move out because it would be too much for him. He wouldn't have to go to his funeral, and sit there, trying not to cry because he wanted people to think he was okay.

But he would never be okay. Never again.

"I'm not scared, John. You don't have to worry about that," Sherlock continued, and John guessed he was probably trying to reassure him. And John tried his best to remember those last words. They weren't Sherlock's last words, but John had a feeling that they were what he wanted them to be. He could tell from Sherlock's tone that that was the last time they were going to talk about it. "You have to tell Mycroft though, and my mother. You have to tell them that I wasn't scared. And Mrs Hudson, and Molly, and Lestrade. They have to know that I wasn't scared.

Who'd have thought, John? All those lives I saved, and I was killed by a bullet. A single bullet, fired by Moriarty, nonetheless! I always thought I was stronger than that . . . "

"You are" John interrupted, taking Sherlock's hand again, and holding it in both of his own. "You're the strongest person I know. And you're a hero. You told me once, that heroes didn't exist. But they do, and let me tell you this, you, Sherlock Holmes, are one of them."

"I did do something right, though, I got you back on track. I saw you, John. I saw you after I died, what it had done to you. I wanted nothing more than to fix it, to make you better, and I did. I only wish I could do that again, once I'm gone. That's my only regret. Once I'm gone, I won't be able to help you again. You'll have to be strong for me John. Live. If not for yourself, then do it for me. Promise?" John nodded, trying to contain his tears again. "You were the only thing that I did right, John. Just . . . don't forget me? I know that's easy for me to say, but you have your whole life ahead of you, I'm nothing but a single page in the book of your life. I'm just a blip in time."

"Sherlock, you are so much more than that. Words cannot describe what my life is going to be like without you. But I will spend every day waiting, until the day that I can join you, and we can finally be together. Every day leading up to that moment will just be waiting."

"And I'll wait for you, John." Sherlock whispered back to him, and John couldn't believe it was happening to them. Of all the people in the world, why did it have to happen to them? The world needed Sherlock, more than it even knew. The world needed Sherlock to solve murders, and save lives, and . . . it wasn't fair. It shouldn't be him. It shouldn't be Sherlock Holmes, lying on the hospital bed. It should be someone else, anybody else. Just not him. It didn't feel real. It shouldn't be happening, it couldn't. Just yesterday, they'd been in their flat, arguing about the fact that they had to go and get some more milk, now Sherlock was dying. It didn't make any sense.

John had never really thought about God before, but in that moment, he was one-hundred percent sure that he didn't exist Because no God, no matter how mighty, or powerful, could be that cruel.

The next few hours went by too fast for John's liking, and before either of them knew it, it was ten o'clock at night, and Sherlock was getting tired. He could hardly keep his eyes open, but John knew that he was holding on for him. And that thought was the final pull that unravelled him. John Watson, an army man, now sat, in a hospital bed with his best friend, crying like he would never stop. He cried and cried and cried, but there was no release. He felt like he couldn't breathe, like all the air had been sucked out of his lungs, and his windpipe was being crushed. He felt dizzy, and sick, and an overwhelming sadness. He didn't want to cry in front of Sherlock, but it was like opening floodgates, once he'd started, he couldn't stop it. His whole body shook with sobs, convulsing, and twisting.

Sherlock didn't cry. John didn't think he'd ever seen Sherlock cry before. Once again, he didn't know whether that made it better, or worse. Sherlock seemed to have fully accepted his fate now, the only part that he hated was leaving John. Sherlock had always known he'd die one day, and he'd probably always known he was going to die quite young. With his job, and what he did, something was bound to wrong one day. And when Sherlock had lived alone, he'd accepted that. Some days he'd hoped for it. Anything to end the boredom. But when he met John, that was when he truly came to fear death. At least a little. Because it meant having to leave John behind. And that scared him more than anything he'd ever come across.

There was no stopping it now though. He was going to die, and John had to be ready. He knew it was going to be soon, he was starting to feel very heavy and tired, and he could barely even stay awake. But he stayed for John, because he wanted to say something before it happened. He wanted to say something to John, to make sure he knew what to do, after. There was nothing more important than that John was prepared. Because tomorrow morning, Sherlock would be gone, and he wouldn't be coming back. Not this time.

He knew he had to it soon, as he was getting increasingly more tired, and he knew he didn't have a lot of time left. So he took John gently by the shoulder, and gathered him up into his arms. John's sobbing slowly subsided, as he realized what he was doing to Sherlock, and how he'd promised himself he wouldn't cry in front of him. He wiped his tears on the back of his hand, and gave a large sniff to clear his sinuses. He knew that Sherlock saw crying as a sign of weakness, an outburst of human emotion. Or, at least, he used to, as John could now see Sherlock himself had a tear forming in the corner of his eye.

"John." Sherlock whispered, his voice breaking slightly. "It's time."

No, thought John, it's too soon. John knew though that Sherlock was right. They were both incredibly tired, Sherlock obviously more so. It was unfair to make him hold on this long. It was physically and emotionally exhausting for Sherlock, and it would take a lot of strength. Still, though John knew it was selfish, he still wanted more time. He hadn't said everything he'd wanted to say, done everything he'd wanted them to do . . .

"You don't have to say anything, I . . . just stay with me John. I need you to stay here, please."

"Of course," John managed to choke out. He changed their positions slightly, so that he was now the one holding Sherlock in his arms. Sherlock didn't object, and buried his face in John's jumper-covered chest.

"You need to be ready, John, when it happens. I need you to be strong, can you do that?" John wasn't sure he could. He'd seen Sherlock die before, and he'd been a wreck. Going through it again was going to be one of the hardest things he'd ever had to live through, as there was no doubt this time. But he didn't want Sherlock to worry about him, so he nodded. "I know there's not really much I can say about this John, it's just words, but . . . I'll always be there, watching over you. And I'll always be there for you. Just . . . don't let me down. Try to be brave, and live your life to the fullest. Do it for me, because I can't. Live for me, John."

"I will," John whispered back, holding back tears. If these were to be his final moments with Sherlock, he wanted to do them right. Not like the first time.

"Can we sleep now, John? Can we rest?" Sherlock muttered, and John could tell how exhausted he was. And if he was being honest, John was tired too. He nodded again, and lifted Sherlock's chin so that he was looking him right in the eyes.

"I love you, Sherlock Holmes. And I will go on loving you, until the end of my days."

"I love you too, John Watson."

And with tear-filled eyes, the two men shared a gently kiss. John then stroked Sherlock's hair, as he placed his head back on his chest. They closed their eyes, and John relished the feeling of Sherlock's rising and falling chest against his own. And he was in too deep a sleep to notice when it stopped.

The next morning, John woke up to a motionless Sherlock lying on his chest. And whereas before, a silent Sherlock had been humorous, it was now the saddest thing John had ever seen. He was dead. He was really dead this time. Gone. And he wasn't coming back. The thought hit John like a ton of bricks, and suddenly, he lost all control of himself. He cradled Sherlock's dead body in his arms, screaming and yelling as he cried. He hadn't thought he had any tears left, after last night, and yet he felt like he could cry for days still.

He screamed and cried, but nobody came. The door was closed, and obviously the doctors could hear him. They were giving him his "grieving time". Those two words had annoyed John so much in the past. When everybody had expected him to get over Sherlock after a few weeks. Nobody seemed to understand that he couldn't forget Sherlock in a lifetime. He was the most brilliant man John had ever known, and when he was gone, it felt like John's world had just stopped turning. And nothing was worth it any more. Not living, not talking, not breathing. And there was only pain. Pain, and bleeding. It felt like someone had stuck a knife in him, and was ever so slowly twisting it towards his heart. As if he still had one.

No, John's heart was long gone. Sherlock had taken it when he'd died. He'd taken everything. John's life. His world. His hope. Hope that there was still something out there for him. Hope that it did get better. Because John knew for a fact that it didn't. If Sherlock wasn't there, it was never going to get better. And nothing was ever going to be alright, ever again. If Sherlock wasn't there, nothing mattered.

There was nothing for John anymore. Nothing for him to rely on. No one. Everything he had built with Sherlock, had all come crumbling down in one day. Sherlock had been the one person to break through the walls that John had so carefully built. And now he had to build them all over again. But he didn't think he had the strength. There was no life after Sherlock. A love like that only comes along once in a lifetime, and John knew it. He was never going to find that again. But he didn't think he wanted to.

Because a love like his and Sherlock's, it was full of so much pain and hurt. John couldn't go through that again. He had nothing left to love with. Sherlock had a piece of him, a piece that he needed, but he was never going to get it back. And if his heart was there, it was too broken to be fixed. It was so broken and shattered, yet it was still beating.

And John didn't realize, until he felt cold air on his face, that he had run up onto the roof. He was surprised he could even feel anything anymore. He walked, in a daze, to the edge, where he had once stood. Where he had called John, and lied to him, before shattering his life into a million little pieces for the first time. John stepped onto the ledge, and stood, looking out at the awakening city. He could see the sunrise peaking over the buildings, but it meant nothing to him anymore.

The sunlight gave him no warmth, he just felt cold. Cold and numb. Every part of him was just numb. And before he could stop himself, he screamed once more. But this scream was so full of anguish, and heartbreak, that it took all of his strength. He screamed at the top of his lungs, and just didn't stop. Because he didn't know how else to deal with it. He'd really thought him and Sherlock were going to be together. Forever. Whether as best friends, or lovers, he didn't care. Because he would've been with him. Like he should be, right now.

Because he never would stop loving Sherlock. He never could. He would love him literally as long as he would live, and John didn't think he could live with that pain. Yes, he could wait the rest of his life for a man that was never coming back, but what was the point? What was the point of anything anymore? John had never been a cynical man, but he really couldn't see himself living through Sherlock's death. Not this time.

His whole life had revolved around that one man. That one, brilliant man. It was always just him. And it always would be. There was never going to anyone else. No one could ever be good enough. And John tried, but even when he closed his eyes, all he could see was Sherlock. He was just there, behind his eyes. And he could try to pretend that everything was alright, that he could do it, he could be strong. But he'd be lying. And that didn't seem fair to Sherlock.

A love like theirs never dies, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the lovers themselves. Because John had always said he would follow Sherlock, wherever he went. And now, he was in the one place where John couldn't follow him. But, all he wanted was five more minutes with him. Because now he knew everything that he wanted to say. Just five more minutes, surely that wasn't too much to ask? Five more minutes just to hold him.

That was when John's phone beeped. He pulled it out of his pocket, and squinted at the screen in the morning light.

It would be a kindness . . . - J.M.

John looked up, to the taller building across the street, and saw the sniper, pointed right at him. He couldn't see the person behind it, but he didn't care. He looked down to his chest, right where his heart used to be, and saw the bright red dot there. John had never been a religious man, but he knew that this would be the only chance he had at seeing him again. If there was any way, this was going to be it. And so he nodded, slowly, in the direction of the sniper.

He was so numb, he doubted he would even feel it anyway. He just didn't care. All he wanted was to see Sherlock again, and too look into those eyes . . . he didn't even feel the pain of the bullet when it came. All he felt was a great release. He was going to see him again. And there was no greater mercy.

John knew that every story had a beginning, and an end. As did every life. He just never thought he would be so happy to see his.