Chapter 1 A Box Does Not Portray Its Contents

It had been a few months since The Fall, as the media referred to it. For John, it had been a few months of mourning and an empty feeling taking home in his stomach, but he was getting better. Slowly.

As part of the healing process, it was suggested his therapist to clean the flat of Sherlock's things. Initially, the idea made John's head spin. He couldn't do that, no possible way could he ever get rid of Sherlock-Sherlock's things. Of course, after a few more weeks of staring forlornly at everything in the flat, John relented.

That's what had brought him to standing in the doorway of Sherlock's room. The last place he had to clean. John had previously spent a tremendous amount of time cleaning out their,-no.. his living room. He had been especially distracted looking through the bookcase, mainly at the large number of books on bees that Sherlock seemed to own. John felt a pang in his chest at the knowledge that he hadn't known about this minor obsession of Sherlock's.

Later, after removing everything Sherlock owned from the room, John had stared at the room with a stoic expression. He felt like a stranger in his own home, or what used to be home to him.

Snapping back into current time, John braved forward into the room he entered a number of times he could count on one hand. Well, two hands now, he supposed. Although this shouldn't really count, it wasn't Sherlock's room. Not anymore.

John rubbed a hand down his face, the stubble on his face scratching at his palm. He scanned the room, which screamed Sherlock. The haphazardly made bed, the framed picture of the periodic table, a desk with drawers exploding with papers, it was all utterly Sherlock. And it hurt.

John stepped in further, looking between areas he was contemplating starting at. Definitely not the desk, that seemed hazardous, John had decided. He eventually figured that under the bed would be good. Either there would be nothing and he could move on or there was an old experiment that he could dispose of quickly, before it got too corrosive or something.

Kneeling down next to the bed, his eyes fixed on the spot Sherlock must have slept in last. John smoothed a hand over the sheets, not really feeling the soft linen. Again, he caught himself, retracting his hand like the sheets had bitten him and sitting back on his heels.

Sighing, he leaned over and lifted the duvet to better see under the cramped space under the bed. Aside from the alarming amount of dust, there were only discarded paper balls, what looked like a belt (at least John hoped), and.. A small box.

Frowning to himself, John reached his hand out and grabbed onto it, pulling it out from the depths and into the hazy light of the room. He raised a questioning eyebrow, turning it over in his hands. The box wasn't impressive, about the size of a shoe box and its color, a plain grey.

John's mind whirred with the possibility of its contents. The slight excitement of opening a present on Christmas was humming at the back of his mind.

"Oh, stop." John said to himself, "It's probably just.. Mold samples." He huffed, turning it over to look at the small silver latch that held the lid to the base.

Tapping his fingers on the sides, he contemplated opening it. For some reason, it felt like an invasion of privacy, even if Sherlock was dead. He'll never know, John thought grimly as he flipped the silver latch and lifted the lid. It opened easily, as if it had been used often, and its contents were... Anticlimactic.

The box was filled with envelopes, a whole lot of closed envelopes. John scoffed at the sight, his fantasies of something scandalous dying with his next breath. He looked them over, thumbing over the top of them. They were neatly fitted, reminding John of an office filing cabinet, and there were enough to fill the box. Out of curiosity, John lifted one from the middle reading Sherlock's spidery scrawl across the front. It was a date, last June, John realized. He set that one back in its place and instead started at the beginning. After reading that date he frowned, putting it back and skimming through the rest of the envelopes. They were chronologically ordered, all the way to the day before... The day before Sherlock fell.

John picked the first envelope up again, the date was familiar to him, but not outstandingly so. He stuck his thumb under the corner of the envelope, ripping it open with a new found urgency. Pulling out the contents—a single sheet of paper, written on thoroughly—John's eyes skimmed the page. Although he didn't know was to expect in the first place, John was surprised to find that it was a letter.

A letter addressed to him.