Heartbeat

Author's Note: Hello! I am alive! Sorry to all my Klainers who might be getting this alert and getting angry at me for not posting a Klaine story in a while. Don't worry, I could never leave those boys behind; my babies (FIANCES) will get quite a few more stories. But not today. Today is Johnlock time. And I hope you enjoy this no matter what fandom background you come from or what happened to bring you here.

Disclaimer: I don't own BBC's Sherlock or any of the characters.


John Watson used to dream about the war. Explosions, gunfire, screams of his comrades and enemies alike; that's what would make him shoot awake in the early hours of the morning, struggling to breathe and clutching at his rapidly beating heart.

Now he dreams of piercing blue eyes, musician hands delicately caressing the strings of a violin, a worn bathrobe draped over thin shoulders, and a voice like velvet rumbling in the darkness. These dreams don't make him shock out of sleep in panic; instead, he wakes and stares blindly at the ceiling while the darkness pins him down and slowly drowns him.

John Watson has never known loneliness to hurt so much. He's dealt with loss before-too much for a lifetime-but nothing that has cut as deep as this. Not even the death of his mother when he was twenty-one had hurt him like this.

Sherlock's suicide broke something inside of him and he wasn't sure if he could ever be repaired.

John goes about life in a haze. He rises early in the morning after a night of barely any rest, the grasp of his latest dream still curled around his heart, and makes himself a cup of tea. He sits at his desk, opens his laptop, closes it again. He gets dressed in clothes that hang off of him, but he doesn't care enough to get new ones that fit. And then he goes about his day, the fog in his mind never leaving.

There are brief moments of clarity that come with accidental bursts of pain, but he tries not to dwell on that too much.

He attends a therapy session once a week and doesn't say a word. He goes through physical therapy for his shoulder and rewards the same amount of silence. He sometimes forgets to eat and he barely sleeps, but he hasn't collapsed yet, so he considers that a small accomplishment.

Although he sometimes wishes he would just dissipate and be swept away by the cool London wind.

Even though he moved out of Baker Street long ago, Mrs. Hudson still invites him to tea every few weeks. John goes only because he knows she doesn't have many friends. She fusses over him, tries and fails to make him eat, calls him "dear", and John tries his best to imitate a smile.

Lestrade pays him the occasional visit, even though John hasn't been down to Scotland Yard since the incident. He talks to him about the situation with his ex-wife and doesn't mind when the doctor doesn't respond; the DI just stares at him with dark brown eyes and a concerned frown. He pulls John into a tight hug every time before he leaves, as if he could physically hold him from breaking apart.

Mycroft sends him the occasional text, which seems like it means to be supportive but just turns out cryptic. But that describes Mycroft himself quite well, anyway.

And John carries on, not living. Surviving.

Barely.


When Sherlock returns (of course he did, that would be the man to cheat death) John collapses. His legs give out and he falls into the darkness that has been pressing down on him since the day his life shattered on the pavement.

When he wakes up in his bed, for one horrible moment he thinks his friend's return was another dream, a whole new level of torture his mind decided to give him. But then he sees Sherlock silhouetted by the window, his blue eyes bright in the hazy almost-darkness of dusk. He rises, graceful like a cat, and turns on the bedside lamp while John just watches his movement, not sure how to react. Sherlock's hair isn't the dark mess of curls it used to be; it's been cut shorter, curling slightly over the top of his ears, and it's deep red.

But John would recognize that face easier than he would his own reflection. He tries to form the name on his lips, but it won't get past a block in his throat. He swings his legs over the edge of the bed and fights the familiar wave of dizziness. Sherlock watches his progress without saying a word, and John is overcome with irrational anger at his silence. A whole year, one bloody year, and he had nothing to say.

John lunges to his feet, and Sherlock stands as well. The height difference fuels John's anger for some reason. He's always hated feeling small, and this is one of the first times he's felt this way around Sherlock. The consulting detective still looks at him like he's the only person in the room and that also hurts.

Sherlock lets the shorter man hit him. He stands there as John punches him one, two, three times in the face. Then, he takes the doctor's wrists gently in his musician hands, and John stops his assault as the rage leaves him.

The Sherlocks his mind would conjure had never fought back, were never tangible like this.

At this realization, John's knees give out and Sherlock catches him and cradles him to his chest. The fact seems almost impossible, unreachable, but he smells like Sherlock, feels like him. John rests his head against the other man's thin shirt and listens to the strong heartbeat thrumming underneath the flesh and bone. Every beat is a reminder that Sherlock is here, alive.

John doesn't fully realize it, but he is crying. Sherlock must feel him tremble because he clutches him closer. John can't be sure past his own overcoming reaction, but he thinks he can feel Sherlock's own tears.

"I'm sorry," Sherlock whispers. Yes, there are signs of crying in his voice, barely there, but John knows Sherlock second best to himself and that hasn't changed.

The doctor looks up and searches the man's face for confirmation of reality. The visual results are the same as the tactile; Sherlock is, impossibly, alive. John reaches a trembling hand to touch at the detective's temple, the place where his skull had broken, leaving him bleeding on the pavement below St. Bart's.

And then Sherlock leans down and kisses him gently on the lips. John freezes as the haze in his mind dissolves, the anger fades, and he is struck with a sudden clarity. John allows himself to return the kiss. He holds Sherlock as close as possible and promises himself that he will never let go, won't let him fall ever again.

Their heartbeats echo against each other, sealing the promise and singing it out so that neither of them will forget.


Author's Second Note: Please, please review! Writing fanfiction is kind of tough for me at the moment (writer's block, school stuff, etc.), so I really do appreciate any feedback you can give me. I know this was your standard post-reichenbach, but do tell me your thoughts! xoxo

Take care.

-Patricia Sage