The day was over.
Long shadows sprawled across the prim lawn, and a chill had set in, but it had been an insultingly beautiful day for early October. Floods of yellow sunshine and light, meandering little breezes that played among the chestnut trees and sent ripples through the grassy clumps over the graves.
There was no grass on Sherlock's grave; three and a half months and the great man's monument was a stark, glossy tombstone and a mound of dirt. John, drawing his jacket around himself with one hand, ran two fingers over the chilled words: Sherlock Holmes. No dates. No declaration that he was loved or missed. No clever quotes or generic pictures of flowers or birds. Nothing but a name.
John had brought nothing to soften that outline of dirt under that name, though he'd placed an bright florist's bouquet behind it. Not for Sherlock, whose contempt for flowers would have been able to strip paint. These were for graves John could not visit: Joshua Harris. Soo Lin Yao. Mum.
He had nothing to say to Sherlock today.
A movement out of the corner of his eye startled him. But it was only Greg Lestrade, carefully avoiding stepping on any graves as he passed the crematorium wall and made his way over. Jacket and shirt, no tie. Probably just got off work. John turned back sulkily to the grave.
"Hey." Lestrade paused a few feet away and purposefully fixed his gaze back toward the little pagoda near the Roman Catholic divison of the cemetery.
"What are you doing here?" John asked tersely.
"Look, I won't lie," he said. "Someone called in and let me know you were here."
John raised his eyebrows. "I wasn't aware that visiting a cemetery had become a criminal offense."
"It hasn't, so don't be like that, okay? They said you'd been here for hours. And the gates shut in..." he checked his watch. "Eight minutes. Come on. We'll go for a pint."
He moved back toward the gates again. John followed, with an anxious look over his shoulder at the solitary grave left behind.
I'm going for a pint somewhere warm, and Sherlock's lying in the dark under six feet of freezing dirt.
"So who was it?" he wanted to know bitterly as they went through the gates and started walking up the street to where Greg's car was parked. "Mycroft or Molly?"
"Neither, unless they've taken up chain-smoking and a Tyneside accent recently." Greg shoved his hands in his pockets. "Dunno who it was." They'd reached the car by this time; Greg fished his keys out and John gratefully climbed in the passenger side door. They'd reached the junction of Terry Street and Gray Road before Lestrade spoke again.
"Hey, John," he muttered. "You do realise it wasn't your fault... right? What happened."
"He was right in front of me that night." John clenched his hands. "Moriarty. He was six bloody feet away from me. If I'd just killed him then..."
"You didn't know what'd happen. None of us knew." Lestrade spoke a little vaguely; he was concentrating on merging into oncoming traffic. John wondered whether he meant what he was saying, or whether it had become a comforting litany over the last few months: not your fault. You didn't know. We didn't know. Not our fault. "And look, maybe..." He faltered for a second. "Maybe it wouldn't have changed things very much for Sherlock, anyway. Maybe it was lots of things. Maybe... maybe he was just in a very dark place and didn't know any other way to get out."
He's in the darkest place of all now.
"He wasn't a fraud, Greg."
John looked out the window absently for a few seconds. The unasked question hung between them: if Sherlock wasn't a fraud, why did he commit suicide?
John had known the answer since the day it had happened.
Because I left him there in the lab at Barts. Sherlock thought I was his only friend. He was wrong, but he believed it. And when I turned on him...
There were times when John felt the burden of Sherlock's suicide like a millstone around his neck.