Disclaimer: Don't own Sherlock, quelle surprise.
Warnings: Character death, angst, bad punctuation.
A/N: Happy Valentine's Day! Here's a story about death! (sorry to be so depresso again…)
This love is silent
~ T.S. Eliot
In this story, John Watson is not dead.
In this story, Sherlock does not wake at four and stare at the ceiling, counting backwards from a hundred thousand until it's time to get up. He does not shower and dress in silence, does not make tea and swear out loud, because he's forgotten to buy milk again and there's no-one there to remind him. He does not make two slices of toast and throw them straight in the bin before heading out of the door, because John would never let him leave the house without eating.
He does not open the front door with the utmost possible quietness so as not to alert Mrs Hudson to his presence, because he has nothing to fear from her greetings. He has no reason to dread the sympathetic gaze and motherly questions, no reason to feel still raw grief dredged up when she tilts her head to look at him.
At the crime scene, Lestrade does not rest one solid hand on his shoulder, nor ask if he's alright for what feels like the four hundredth time. Sergeant Donovan does not stand respectfully back to let him enter the house, nor does Anderson give him an awkward nod and half wave as he leaves. Because he knows they've never liked him, and nothing could have happened that would change that.
He does not return home to ignore the violin that stands in the corner, coated in dust. He does not place his phone in his dresser drawer and pretend not to hear it ring at intervals throughout the evening, nor does he ignore the gentle knock at his door - of a person that waits five long minutes, and then tiptoes quietly away. He does not sit in John's favourite chair in perfect stillness as darkness creeps across the room, until he can no longer see his hand in front of his face.
That night, he does not dream. Specifically he does not dream of a day when he and John gave chase to a masked assassin. He does not relive the moment he reached the other side of the street and heard a sound that has echoed through every day since he first heard it: a screech of brakes, a dull thud, and a soft cry of pain.
He does not recall, like a film in his mind's eye, sprinting across to where John lay and cradling his head in his lap. He does not repeat his fevered instructions to passers-by to call an ambulance, call a doctor, do something, anything.
He does not watch again the uneven rise and fall of John's chest as he struggles to draw in raggedy breaths. He does not observe the blood that trickles down the side of his friend's head, nor deduce from it the extent or severity of his injuries.
He certainly does not replay the moment as John whispered "Sherlock, I think I'm… I think…" before his eyelids began to flutter. He does not listen to his own voice, harsh and panicked, telling John he'd be fine, help was coming, there was nothing to worry about.
He does not see John smiling, gently, does not hear him murmur: "It's been… brilliant," with a voice that says goodbye. He does not watch John exhale for the last time, see the life leave his eyes like a hundred lights going out at once. He does not hug John closer to his chest, hold the compact, human weight of him; nor press his cheek against John's and feel the final warmth of his body.
And he most certainly does not shout and scream, does not keen like a wounded animal in the middle of a rainy street in Central London with his dead lover in his arms.
Sherlock does not dream of this, because John is not dead, of course. He's merely sleeping; sleeping in the room that Sherlock has not opened in two years, because to open that door is to break the spell. And Sherlock knows his fairy tales, knows that opening the forbidden door will cost him everything, so he chooses to leave it locked. To wear the key around his neck, resting cold against his heart, and never to tell anyone; to keep this one last secret safe and hidden.
In this story, John Watson is not dead. He is in the next room, and one day, maybe next year or next month or even tomorrow, Sherlock will find a way to wake him up.
If he tries hard enough, if he believes hard enough.