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There may be teardrops to shed (3/3)

BBC Sherlock

Rating: 18 (slash)

Spoilers: For The Reichenbach Fall

A sequel to There May Be Trouble Ahead, Before They Ask Us to Pay the Bill and While We Still Have the Chance.
Betated by the ever wonderful Blooms84.

Part 1, Part 2

Summary: Sherlock's dead, but John's still alive and kicking.



A week later John finally makes himself read the newspapers. He has to know the worst; it's no use pretending the articles don't exist. He finds the same quote over and over again. Captain John Watson (40) saying: "Sherlock wasn't the first of my friends I've watched die, but I hope to God he's the last". He can't clearly remember saying that, but maybe he did. When he was being collected by the police, perhaps, or when he was coming out of the police station and all the cameras had been going? He'd still been in shock, he wasn't entirely sure what he'd said at that point.

Whether he did really say or it not, somehow it's had an effect. He's not a "confirmed bachelor" to the papers any more, but a "tragic war hero" and the references to his friendship with Sherlock no longer have heavy-handed hints. He's inadvertently inned them both just when they've finally slept together, which is bloody ironic.

The thing is though, they're almost right. He and Sherlock were friends, and that's what counts, what remains. Not what they did together in bed – on an exam couch – even though that was surprisingly good – but what they did together in their lives. When John dreams about Sherlock – not the bad dreams, where Sherlock's body crunches onto the pavement, but the good ones – it's most often about them running through London, like they did on the day he moved into Baker Street. Or he dreams that they're back in Buckingham Palace, or in the sauna with the poisonous snake. He never wrote up the snake case in his blog, did he? Too late now, but he must tell Greg about it some time, now Sherlock can't be prosecuted. Or Jacob Sowersby, who is still Sherlock's number one fan.

John's ended up having long chats on the net with Jacob at 3 a.m., when he needs someone, anyone to tell about Sherlock. Jacob's very strange, of course, but he's easy to talk to, oddly understanding about why John is haunted by his mad bastard genius of a flatmate. Jacob knows Sherlock isn't a fake, and anyone who comes out and says that is almost automatically on John's list of friends now.

He's not telling Jacob about that last night at Barts, of course. He's not sure he'll ever tell anyone about that. He's still not sure why it happened, why he agreed to it. Why Sherlock wanted it. None of it makes sense: that's the worst thing of all.

***

He certainly can't tell Ella about what happened. She'll get hung up about sexual identities and miss the key thing. That he loved Sherlock and now he's gone.  He goes to see Ella because it's the sensible thing to do. And then he can't talk to her, because this isn't something he can be sensible about. He talks to Sherlock instead.

Well, to his gravestone. They've only just got it up, and it says nothing but Sherlock's name. But what else would it say? "Sherlock Holmes, beloved son and brother"? "Sherlock Holmes, insufferable genius, but definitely not a fake"? "Sherlock Holmes, never happier than among the dead"?

John can't say that out loud, but he can say at least something to Sherlock. That he was the best man he's ever known. That he saved him from being alone – because that's one of the things that Sherlock has left him, a bizarre ad hoc family of his supporters. But it's not enough, and he ends up making a stupid, emotional plea for the impossible, for Sherlock not to be dead.

He has an odd feeling as he leaves, that he's being watched. Big Brother, most likely: Mycroft's probably has cameras in the graveyard to ensure there's no vandalism. Or maybe it's Moriarty.

No, it can't be. Three days after Sherlock...after it happened, John had texted Mycroft. There's one man I hate more than you. Tell me where he is and I'll deal with him for you. JHW. And Mycroft had texted back: Your offer is appreciated, but unnecessary. The matter has already been attended to. M. He should have guessed Mycroft would sort out Moriarty, John thinks, heading back to Mrs Hudson.  Shame he couldn't have done it a whole lot earlier.

"Did you...did you feel he was there?" he asks, as the taxi draws up at Baker Street. Mrs Hudson's about to get out and John has to remind himself to stay in the cab, that he doesn't live there anymore.

"Oh yes," she replies promptly."Watching us.  I mean I know Sherlock would say I was being a silly old woman, because he's dead and buried, and you can't really imagine Sherlock as an angel, can you, John?  But yes, I did feel that." And then she gives him that sweet, shrewd smile of hers, as she leans across and pats John's hand. "He's in your head and your heart and he'll always be there. So you should tell him the things you couldn't tell him to your face. Just keep on telling him, because the poor boy can't demand we shut up any more, can he?"

He will outlive God trying to have the last word. He'd said that once, hadn't he? Wrong again, John thinks. He smiles unconvincingly at Mrs Hudson, and promises he'll look after himself, and sits back in the taxi as it heads off to his new bedsit in Clapham.

And then, because Mrs Hudson is right, and what else are taxis for but to talk with Sherlock, he stares out of the window and addresses the sardonic memory lurking inside his own head.

"I don't regret it, you know," he says, so quietly that it's lost in the traffic's noise. "Sleeping with you, I mean. Maybe I should do; maybe it makes it harder. But I'd have regretted it more if I'd said no. It was always worth doing things you wanted me to, whatever the risks." He shakes his head. It's true enough, but it's still not the heart of the matter. He has to try and say it, though as usual, he can only approach it via a joke.

"But it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of my sex appeal when you top yourself a few hours after sleeping with me," he adds. "Any explanation for that one, Sherlock?"

This is the point where Sherlock would doubtless call him an idiot. Or do the "we both know what's going on" face yet again. It isn't as if Sherlock gave John straight answers even when he was alive, after all.

"Why did you do it?" he demands, which is the real question, the only question, has always been. He's not going to get an answer, of course. They're can't be one. There's always every reason, or no reason, for suicide. But suddenly, it's as if John can see Sherlock out of the corner of his eye, sitting there in the cab beside him. He mustn't look round or he'll vanish, but Sherlock is here and his voice echoes through John's head: Wrong question.

And then, of course, he sees that it is. Why is always too general a question for any crime, any death. The question should always be: why then, why there? Not why Sherlock killed himself in the abstract, but why he threw himself off the top of Barts on that particular day?

For a start, why had they gone to Barts at all? Sherlock wasn't running any experiments, and it abruptly occurs to John that it was a pretty stupid place for a couple of fugitives to hide. Everyone knew Barts was Sherlock's home from home. He spent most of his free time there, when he wasn't at Baker Street or New Scotland Yard, or haring round London.

Oh. Moriarty's assassins had made 221B off limits, and Sherlock wasn't going to be getting any voluntary invitations to New Scotland Yard any time soon, after Moriarty's success in framing him. Sherlock was waiting at Barts because that was the obvious place where Moriarty would come.

No. It was where Sherlock invited Moriarty. Because that explains the phone call. John's been thinking it was Moriarty who decoyed him away, but that's because he's an idiot. If Moriarty had lured John back to Baker Street, Mrs Hudson really would have been shot. Or John would have been arrested. Or at the very least, there'd have been a silly note on the door saying "FOOLED YOU". It wasn't Moriarty's style, that distraction, was it? It has Sherlock's fingerprints all over it, because he is a fucking bloody idiot who always thinks he can get on fine just on his own.

Was an idiot. So assume that Moriarty came to Barts. What then? He defeated Sherlock and Sherlock was so distressed he killed himself? As soon as John says it in his mind, he knows that's wrong. Sherlock didn't give up like that, never would do. So why did he jump? Why did he claim he was a fake and then jump? Because Moriarty was threatening him. Obvious next link in the chain. Moriarty threatened to kill Sherlock, unless he faked his own suicide.

No that's not right, he thinks, but he can't get the next piece of the puzzle.  The taxi's drawing up outside his door, but after he's paid the fare John doesn't go inside. Instead, he wanders off, heading for Clapham Common and ends up standing by Eagle Pond staring into the murky depths.

Sherlock wouldn't kill himself just because Moriarty wanted him to. Sherlock might kill himself accidentally when he was trying to prove he was clever, but then he wouldn't have claimed he was a fake. Think. What else did Sherlock say when he was up on the roof? Anything odd, anything that didn't fit? He'd talked about a note, he'd claimed he'd researched John. No, not that.

Ah, one odd thing. Sherlock had told him to stand in a particular place. When John had tried to go into Barts, he'd stopped him, hadn't he? Insisted several times, that John had to stay where he was. Oh fuck, he thinks, and he can feel his knees buckle as he realises it, has to fight to stay upright. Not even Moriarty would have thought of that, surely?

Why not? Moriarty had broken into the Tower of London and the Bank of England. He'd blown up a block of flats in Glasgow.  So why shouldn't he decide to blow up Barts, or at least some of it? Because dying was what people did, as far as Moriarty was concerned. Had he been planning to put the blame on Sherlock somehow? Or had he just not cared what happened after that?

He'd given Sherlock the choice: give up your life and your reputation or people will die. God knows how many people would have died. Had Sherlock known that all along, suspected that was how it was going to end? That "Jim from IT" would want to come back to where Sherlock and he had first met, shatter that memory, that building, into a thousand pieces?

Sherlock had gone off to Barts on his own after they'd met "Rich Brook". He'd summoned John there and then sent him away again. Sherlock had probably thought at first that he could outsmart Moriarty still, the way he'd finally defeated Irene Adler. But somewhere along the line he'd realised there was no way out, and he'd tried to protect John, at least.

There are complex ripples on the lake, ever-changing patterns, and John finds himself staring at them. He's doubtless missed some key elements, he always does. He's not a detective genius. He's still got no idea how the computer code fits in. Did Sherlock somehow find it? If so, he'll presumably have passed it on to Mycroft and there will be a whole additional set of plots involved there.

But he feels, he knows that he's got to the heart of what happened, and it brings a tiny bit of warmth to him. It won't bring Sherlock back, of course, nothing will. But it's like in Afghanistan: knowing that your friends had died for something they believed in helps, gives a purpose to the sacrifice. To all of what happened.

"You were a hero after all," he says, and then remembers it's not something he's supposed to say out loud. Sherlock always tried to hide the truth about himself. He claimed to despise emotions and then choked up in his last phone call. Sherlock pretended he was a sociopath, but he sacrificed his life – his reputation – to save others.

And, of course, most of all, Sherlock had sneered at love and then...that was what the encounter in the clinic had been about, wasn't it? A way of demonstrating with bodies what could not be said by words. Because Sherlock Holmes can fake many things, John thinks, as he heads back to his rooms, smiling for the first time in weeks, but not even he could have faked that orgasm.



Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
impishtubist
Apr. 11th, 2012 11:05 am (UTC)
Absolutely wonderful.
marysutherland
Apr. 11th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
Glad you've enjoyed the ride.
(no subject) - shehasathree - Apr. 11th, 2012 11:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
marysutherland
Apr. 11th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
What can I say? Someone else's RL work wrecked just as effectively as my own by the potency that is fanfic. Success is mine (EVIL CACKLE).
zauzat
Apr. 11th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
You have made it work - a series 2 compliant romance that ends with hope while not letting John guess Sherlock is alive. I love the way you get John to work out Sherlock's actions in a way that works, yet his explanation is not quite right. Feels very like canon. Lovely piece! I enjoyed the whole thing immensely.
marysutherland
Apr. 18th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Glad you thought this worked - I wanted John to work out some of what was going on, both because I didn't want it to be a purely sad ending and because John isn't stupid, even if he's nothing like as clever as Sherlock. I particularly liked the idea of parallels with him losing army friends - you often hear from those who've lost loved ones in Afghanistan that the fact that someone died doing something they believed in and serving others was a comfort. I think that may have been one of the hardest things for John initially with the way Sherlock apparently killed himself - that there didn't seem to be a meaning in it.
2ndskin
Apr. 12th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
Well, you already know I think this is ridiculously good. I agree with zauzat--just so perfectly, masterfully plotted and the characterizations couldn't be better to make it S2 compliant--yet different and romantic--and hopeful. Both J and S are --just wonderful here--so masculine, I think. Congratulations on this one. xxx <3

Edited at 2012-04-12 12:16 am (UTC)
maggie_conagher
Apr. 12th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
I'm typing because I want you to know that I read and enjoyed this, but I am drawing a complete blank. It is day nine of fostering a puppy and I am knackered.

It's you so I know that it's a fresh, clever take on the RF and that the boys are smart and funny and wry. Always glad to see you on my flist.
thesmallhobbit
Apr. 15th, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
I think it's great the way that once John's had time to ride out the worst of his emotions he's able to think through events and come to a positive conclusion.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )