Author's Note: This was an idea that I couldn't help exploring even if it gets a little angsty. I'm not sure how long each chapter will be, but please enjoy!
Another night shift at the hospital had left John exhausted. He'd slept for the entire first fourteen hours of his three days off before giving in to the hunger gurgling in his stomach. Try as he might, the doctor couldn't manage to learn to ignore the calls of nature as well as Sh-
Well, he couldn't manage to do it. That was all that mattered.
A quick bacon sandwich was all John bothered to make, even in his current state. He often made full meals only to lose interest in them half way through so less effort was better in the end. A sandwich he could manage as he sat in his favourite armchair, resolutely staring down at the plate in his lap and not the chair opposite him.
After all that time, he couldn't so much as move a piece of furniture. In fact, John had just about skinned Mycroft alive the last time the insufferable man had graced the doctor with his presence while trying to sit in His seat.
No one else could sit there, wasn't that obvious? a deep voice said inside the doctor's head and John silently agreed. If someone else sat there, they would ruin the consulting detective shaped indent which had been left behind along with everything else. John included.
There had been offers to clean out His things, several of them. But John always refused. He couldn't bring himself to part with one expensive button from one expensive suit jacket, forget about the set of test tubes on the table. They simply had to stay there.
John had destroyed some of what was left to him. The doctor had taken to sleeping in His room and may have stolen a few shirts that still clung to that spicy musky smell with only one point of reference for John's mind.
Given the better part of three years to do things like steal his dead flatmate's old shirts, 221B Baker Street had taken a nose dive as far as the number of visitors was concerned. John didn't mind. He might even have preferred it. Surely it was better than the pity shown to him by anyone who bothered to come to call. Even Mrs. Hudson had gone almost two weeks without coming up under the guise of at least dusting the flat if John couldn't be bothered to do it himself.
So hearing his landlady call up the stairs that someone was at the door for him did not fill John with glee. Part of him wanted to yell back to tell whoever it was that he wasn't in but realized that yelling that down the stairs might have made the whole plan redundant.
Reluctantly, he opened the flat's door and made for the main entrance. When he cracked the heavy black door open, John almost sighed in relief to see it was just a postal worker with a small package he needed the doctor to sign for. A comment on how unkept and wrinkled the other man's uniform was was on the tip on John's tongue before he remembered that he was in no position to judge. It was a miracle that he was wearing clean clothes, forget about being uppity about a few creases.
Taking the package with a quiet thanks, John was quick to both shut the door and run back up the stairs before an offer of tea came from 221A.
It was only once he'd dropped the box on one of the few clear spots the kitchen table had that John noticed something was out of place. The box didn't have any return address, or stamps or anything on it which indicated it had gone through a shipping process of any kind.
He almost smiled at himself for noticing these details, how proud Sh-
It was clever of him. That was all that mattered.
Those small oddities faded into the background rather quickly though. What wasn't on the box was much less concerning than what was. What was there felt like a knife twisted into both of John's lungs until he couldn't breathe any longer.
Slanted, long scrawled writing that looked as though it had been done just before the writer had dashed out the door in a hurry. So familiar to the doctor that he took a step towards the box. So terrifying that he quickly took that step back. This was not something he could do. Instead, John put the kettle on.
It took him a day to work up the courage to open the damn thing.
There was no packaging inside. No bubble wraps or foam peanuts. All that was inside was a sleek looking phone, one that clearly cost a great deal of money. It made John want to cry and scream at the same time while maybe also vomiting. He recognized that phone. Had seen it so many times before that the doctor didn't know if he could have erased the memory of it if he'd tried. John Watson never tried to forget though, that was the problem. He couldn't forget something as insignificant as a certain phone, not like Sh-
He remembered the phone. That was all that mattered.
It had been His phone. The one those long, elegant fingers had flashed over faster than John would have thought was humanly possible if his own eyes hadn't seen it happen. The phone had always been inside one of His pockets, in stupidly tight trousers or equally stupidly tight suit jackets. John didn't like that now the phone could sit in a box on the kitchen table for a day and no one complained. It didn't surprise him, but still. It didn't bode well with him. John just didn't like it.
A left hand, shaking with a fresh tremor, went to pick up the offending device. Clicking a button to light up the screen, John released a shakey breath when he saw the message on the screen.
Voicemail Full. Please check incoming messages.
Gripping the phone tighter, John managed to get to the couch before his knees gave out. He gave the phone a look of complete distrust but was still reluctant to place it gingerly on the coffee table. The doctor felt he had a good idea of what would happen if he listened to the electronic command he'd been given, but he needed a moment to steel himself up for it. John was a soldier, a doctor, not a man to shy away from anything and yet. Here he was, shying away from this. This cliff that he stood on the edge of without any idea what lay at the bottom if he were to jump.
He had to be reasonable though. The twenty four hours he'd waited to rip open the cardboard box had kept him up all night as it was. John couldn't handle not knowing. A tanned finger pressed the play button before the ex-army doctor's brain could protest further.
"John…" Came that deep, baritone voice smooth as silk from the speaker. John could have sworn the world stopped spinning. This was the first time he had heard that voice outloud, anywhere besides his own head really, in 1065 days. Almost three years. The voice seemed to know that it should pause to let this fact sink in, but only for a moment.
"John, if you're listening to this then the first thing I must do is offer my sincerest heartfelt apology," Sherlock's voice told him and John knew it was real because he could never have imagined the genuine emotion he could hear in his friend's words.
"I gave instruction that this be given to you should the worse happen, so I am going to assume that this is the case. Again, for that I am sorry. I do not expect you to forgive me, I would not ask that of you my dear, dear John. It was your blog that gave me the idea to do this. If I should leave you as I must have where you are, then I wanted to leave you something. I do not know how much time has passed since I recorded this, or whether you care to hear from me. Is it painful? Sentiment was always more your area. I will understand if you don't wish to listen to the rest of these messages. Feel free to turn this off and get on with your day, make a nice cup of tea perhaps," said the voice with a small chuckle before giving a long pause which John realized was Sherlock waiting for John to turn the recording off. As if he could manage such a thing now.
A sigh came over the airways.
"Loyal to a fault then, perhaps. Alright John, if you are still listening then the second thing I must give you is an explanation.
Author's note: Reviews/Ratings are wonderful and always apperciated!