quick speedpaint ‘cause this has been in my head for ages. phone depicted above is Sherlock’s, not John’s.
And then, on good days (when he can stand to think about him and all the good memories they had), John calls Sherlock’s cell just to hear his voice before he leaves a voicemail. It’s a ridiculous sounding message, but so inherently Sherlock, spoken in that bored and exasperated tone John knew too well: “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective. Don’t bother leaving a message if it isn’t pertinent to a case.”
And, sometimes, hearing his voice would be enough for John. Enough to make him smile and laugh, and hang up and go about with his day.
Sometimes, though, he’d have to leave a voicemail. Just a “Hey, Sherlock, I’m not going to be at the flat tonight, just wanted to let you know” or even “Mrs. Hudson said you shot her wall again. I’ll let you take care of it this time.”
And, just once, years after Sherlock’s death, he said,
“I love you.”
Once was enough.
OMG UGLIEST CRYING
John stops blogging. He can’t see the point of it; nothing ever happens to him anymore - he’s just staying alive. But the good days begin to outnumber the bad ones through sheer bloody-minded placidity, and John fills the inbox of Sherlock’s phone with inane little messages and expects nothing back. With: “How many times can I get into a row with the chip and pin machine before they ban me? -JW”, or “Triple murder in the papers today. You’d have loved it. -JW”, or simply “Bloody raining again. -JW” - hundreds of texts about everything and nothing at the same time. And John stops blogging. But he never stops talking about his day.
JFC AS IF THE WOUND ISN’T FRESH ALREADY!
why are you doing this to me
all my brainings are crying mushes now
no why did you type any of that
And then one day, while John is in Tesco ambling around with a half empty basket, the phone, Sherlock’s phone buzzes inside his pocket. He stops dead, eyes widening and pulls it out. Before looking he stills himself and reminds himself that it’s probably just a wrong number or a mistake of some kind, maybe even a message he sent himself that has been delayed for some reason, it happens.
He sighs and turns the phone over, running his fingers over it like it’s some kind of precious object. The screen is lit, telling him there’s a new message, he pushes the button to open it.
Suddenly stiff fingers drop the shopping basket, sending it contents scattering across the vinyl floor. The phone slips from his other hand, bouncing on the hard surface and the screen cracks as once heavy feet are suddenly light in their hurried flight from the store.
The phone lies broken but still on and readable, the message reads *I’m sorry John, come home and don’t forget the milk. -SH*
Eventually John finds himself regularly at Baker Street again almost without him being aware it was happening. What starts as visits in Mrs. Hudson’s flat for tea and a chat (because she kept calling him and Lestrade kept calling him and Harry kept calling him but for entirely different reasons and when he complained to his therapist about it she asked him why he didn’t just go and he found the answer caught in his throat) gradually turned to dinners (‘Really dear, you’re skin and bones these days’ Mrs. Hudson comments with each visit). After 5 months, Lestrade has become a regular dinner guest as well, and it’s friendly and cozy and none of them mention the flat upstairs but John feels a little less suffocated every time he opens that familiar door next to Speedy’s.
Six months since John left Baker Street, Mrs. Hudson prepares his favorite meal for him and when Lestrade arrives for dinner with Molly on his arm John hugs them both warmly and gratefully accepts the really rather nice bottle of wine they’ve brought to have with dinner and none of them comment as John grows quieter during the meal and maybe his wine glass is being refilled more than strictly necessary. And the evening becomes much more blurred around the edges for John and that makes it better, being here, and when dinner is over and the wine is finished, John sees Lestrade and Molly to the door. Molly’s thin fingers wrap themselves around Johns wrists as she brushes her lips against his cheek and he feels Greg clap him on the shoulder before they leave and John focuses on their warm touches and pretends not to notice their sad, concerned faces. Mrs. Hudson is there too, when John turns and begins to walk up the stairs to 221b for the first time in months, and for a moment she reaches out to stop him but she sees the look in his eyes and turns to tidy up dinner.
Six months after his fall, Sherlock is holed up in an abandoned tenement building in New York. He’s been there for two weeks now, sharing space with other vagrants who have occasionally come in handy as he scours the city for more of Moriarty’s people. He was recognized last night, by two informants, and though he dealt with the problem (rather violently) before word could get back to their boss, Sherlock is still shaken.
Which is why he finds himself standing in front of a cracked, oxidized mirror in his condemned apartment, carefully studying his features. He’s been in more close fights than he’d like to admit, and his body is a study of fascinating cuts and bruises. He’s bandaged and taped the worst, but some he keeps carefully clean and disinfected and uses the opportunity to study his own bodies ability to heal. And now he runs his hand over his scalp, marveling at the feel of his closely cropped hair (something new something interesting something about me I haven’t known in ages and I look so different and what would John say) and his fingers clench on the edge of the dirty sink where curls of his hair have floated and settled and he glowers at himself.
He hates this.
In London, John has spent the night sprawled out on the couch of 221b Baker Street, occasionally slipping into restless sleep and waking confused and disoriented each time. At 2:35 in the morning, he jerks himself out of a violent nightmare and groggily removes his jumper and jeans (suffocating suffocating it is too hot and I can’t breath and I can hear the gun fire and I don’t know if it’s from combat or if Sherlock is here and shooting at the wall and it doesn’t matter) and now he feels like he’s going to be ill.
He makes his way to the bathroom in the dark, his body instinctively still knowing the flat despite his efforts to keep it shoved away in the back of his mind and when he flicks on the light and sees himself in the mirror above the sink John is not entirely surprised to discover his face is wet from tears as well as his panicked sweat. He leans over and splashes water (cold cold cold) on his face and scrubs and his body is soon racked with his heaving breaths as he tries to keep from sobbing.
He misses him so much.
Someday I’ll write something that doesn’t make me want to die.
I cannot escape angst. I can’t. I’m sorry. This is sort of a follow up to this fic/art because a lot of people wanted a continuation but really you don’t have to read one to get the other. It’s also obviously hugely inspired by this post.
Also I’m sorry this is longer than I’d intended D: Is there a way to do readmores with fic?
Sherlock’s hair has grown out.
It looks ridiculous, John thinks, and the thought ends up sticking in his head like a bad song lyric and he distantly he knows it’s the sudden shock of seeing Sherlock standing in the living room of 221b that’s got him stuck on a loop but he can’t shake himself. He stares. He opens his mouth. Moves past Sherlock to sit on the couch with his tea.
“Your hair looks ridiculous,” he says as he picks up the paper, and doesn’t look back up at Sherlock.
Sherlock stares at him now, feeling a bit deflated.
“Is… is that all?”
“Mmm. You look odd in that hoodie as well. Doesn’t suit you at all. But I guess they—”
destroyed your overcoat, the big black one you used to wear with the upturned collar so you’d look so cool but then you ruined it with all that blood you idiot. The sentence has died in John’s mouth and he washes it away with a sip of his tea.
Now watching John warily, Sherlock takes a seat beside him on the couch.
“John, are you… are we okay? I don’t know what the protocol for this… situation is. Is this alright?”
John chuckles and glances over at Sherlock for a moment “This situation? You mean you sitting with me in our flat when I think you’re dead? I don’t think there is any protocol for that. But. We’re fine. We’re okay.”
Just. Dont. Leave me here again. It was so hard to come back at all and I knew being surrounded by memories of you would rattle me and I don’t even care anymore what may be happening to my mind I just miss talking to you. I will take you however I can and as long as it doesn’t hurt me and you don’t leave me again we’re okay.
Sherlock doesn’t like what he sees on John’s face, the casual cheerfulness, the apparent lack of surprise at Sherlock’s return, but he’s so tired and John has not yelled or tried to hit him and Sherlock knows there is no gun in the room and so he puts his worries aside and leans against John sleepily and he doesn’t see the way John’s jaw clenches because John thinks that the warm weight settling against him is only imagined.
Mrs. Hudson presses a plate of biscuits across the table to Sherlock with a sad smile and he picks one up because he knows by now she would not only nag at him until he did but she would start to look sad if he continued to refuse and Sherlock is growing surprisingly tired of having people look sad at him.
He’s been back to Baker Street for three days. Each day he has visited Mrs. Hudson for tea without having to be asked because when he first returned and the old woman saw him walk through door, he’d had to catch her when her knees gave out on her and spent entirely too long in her kitchen trying to calm her when he had just wanted to go upstairs to see John. John, who was also not very good company to be around.
“He still won’t come down with you then?” her tone is concerned and she is right to be.
Sherlock nods the affirmative. John has declined all invitations to leave the flat with him. Even with the promise of danger or an interesting case from Lestrade (and oh god Sherlock wishes John had at least accompanied him to the Yard to help explain things to Lestrade because Anderson had to come snooping around and opening his mouth and really Sherlock can’t be blamed for hitting him, John knows all about the mad desire to punch idiot Yarders but now he’s not allowed back until Lestrade specifically calls for him and so Sherlock WILL blame John for that one.)
“He told me this morning that he fears people will think he’s…crazy if he’s out with me now.” And Sherlock can’t look at Mrs. Hudson when he tells her this, can’t look anywhere but where his long fingers are reducing his biscuit to a pile of crumbs because it had hurt when John told him that and Sherlock realized that maybe John actually had decided that staying away from him now was the safest thing for him, that he’d had a little too much of Sherlock Holmes already thank you and oh god what if he wishes that I had stayed dead and Sherlock is sure that is the reason John acts so coldly towards him now.
Mrs. Hudson purses her lips and reaches across the table once again, and covers Sherlock’s fidgeting hands with her own.
John is laying across the couch the way Sherlock used to, with his forearm draped over his eyes and his mouth working as he absently chews on the inside of his cheek.
Nervous habit, does it when he’s troubled about something, or when he’s depressed. Often when he’s had a bad date.
Sherlock is standing in front of the window playing his violin, though he is more focused on the study of John than the music coming from his fingers. It flows through the room organically all the same, Sherlock doing this small thing to try to sooth whatever has been bothering John.
It’s late, and Sherlock has changed into his robe and a worn tee-shirt he has found in a box of his clothes (found the box in Johns room, under his bed and I shouldn’t have been snooping but I asked him what he and Mrs. Hudson had done with my clothing and he just smiled and said he had held onto it but didn’t offer it back himself so I had no choice but to go find it). John too, is wearing one of Sherlock’s shirts, one of the more loose fitting ones and when he saw John wearing it Sherlock wanted to grin and wrap John in his arms but then he saw John’s face, the slump of his shoulders and it was enough to make Sherlock recoil.
So instead he plays for him, trying to draw out some sort of interaction from John even if it’s just John yelling at him to stop, to leave again, to go jump from another roof.
John lays on the couch, covering his eyes and doing a good job of acting as if Sherlock is not even there.
Just as it runs through Sherlocks mind to end the music in a jangled discord and stomp off to bed early, their front door abruptly swings open and a furious Mrs. Hudson marches into the room, glaring at John.
John nearly jumps out of his skin at her entrance, and fears he may piss himself when he sees the look she’s giving him.
“John. Hamish. Watson.”She is upon him now, standing over him and John is startled further to see she is blinking back tears in her fury. “How dare you act this way. I know it must have been a shock, but I will not allow you to stay here if your behavior is going to hurt us this badly.”
“Mrs. Hudson I… I don’t know what—”
He is spluttering and trying desperately not to look where he believes Sherlock is standing though he badly needs some sort of reassurance in the face of this small, yelling woman he is suddenly confronted with. Suddenly she points to Sherlock as well.
“I have been listening to the most heart breaking music all evening and if I have to put up with it a moment longer I feel like I may want to die as well. So stop being a child and forgive him.”
John’s heart stops and then tries to claw its way out through his throat, a feeling that apparently also drains the blood from his face because now there is a momentary shrill whistling in his ears and he is a doctor he recognizes the symptoms of going into shock, preparing to faint. He sways on the couch and would have fallen to the floor already if he hadn’t been seated, and suddenly Sherlock is there, his hands on his shoulders to steady him and John feels, really feels the warm, solid weight of them and he is slowly brought back around.
“She can see you too.” he chokes out as he raises shaking hands to grasp at Sherlock’s shirt. “Mrs. Hudson, you can see him. Please. Don’t be lying to me. I can’t…” His eyes dart between them, and across Sherlock’s face, really studying him now, seeing how it’s really not the face he would have imagined, realizing now there are new scars that weren’t there before, a slight bend in his nose where it had been broken and not set just right and his fingers clench harder into Sherlock’s shirt and robe.
Mrs. Hudson looks terrified now and she stammers to find words.
“Of course I can see him dear. He’s been by every day this week hasn’t he? Only you won’t come with him and he’s so lonely with you ignoring him like you have,” and she’s rambling now but John is not listening.
He springs from the couch, still clutching at Sherlock, and the momentum brings them both up and the backs of Sherlocks legs collide with the coffee table and he fights for a moment to keep them balanced and he is speechless and heartbroken now that he understands why John has been treating him so coldly. He can’t find words, but it doesn’t matter because now John is yelling, shaking with his own words, with accusations and pleas and so many questions. Sherlock has explained everything already, of course, during their days of quietly sitting together while John says nothing and nods when he feels it appropriate. And Sherlock let John’s anger wash over him and it felt so good to finally have John speaking to him, knowing he was real and alive and with him again.
Gradually the shouts diminish as John’s voice grows hoarse and Mrs. Hudson excuses herself quietly until Sherlock is left with John leaning into him, his face pressed tightly against his chest and he can feel John’s mouth still moving, still saying all the things John had wanted to say when he returned and Sherlock holds him as Johns words slowly bring him back to life.