It's not something he likes to talk about.
He can't remember how it started, the first time he tried this. What he can remember is the cool dark of the cupboard, climbing under the folded bedsheets, the gradual descent into stillness shattered by the crack of light around the door as Mycroft pulled it open. "Sherlock," he'd say, "you can't hide in there," and what Sherlock wanted to do was hit him, bite him, but then he'd have had to touch him, and that would be so much worse. So he'd climb out obediently, his legs always, always too long for this, and Mycroft would give him that thin-lipped smile and urge him to make an effort.
And Sherlock tried. He really did.
The violin was its own source of comfort. The noise it made was a distraction but he could block that out, or near enough, focusing instead on the way his hand was bowing and bowing across the strings, the lulling repetition of the movement, the same exercises again and again until he scarcely even heard them anymore, focusing on the rhythmic pressure of the strings against his fingertips. The same progression of notes, the same rhythm, over and over and over the strings, until it all took on a life of its own, outside of and apart from him.
Sometimes it worked so well he could forget he was even there at all.
Some nights John wakes to the sound of arpeggios suspended in the air. He lies on his back and listen, the sounds carving out space for themselves in the darkness, coalescing into the shape of Sherlock himself, all sharp edges when he can't bear the sound of words. He listens until the notes take on a life of their own, independent counterpoint as the man behind them slips into absence --
-- then, John swings his feet over the side of the bed and pads downstairs, leans against the doorframe to watch Sherlock standing at the window, profile stark against the pale yellow glow of the London streetlights.
Sherlock had known it was coming, knew what it would mean when he followed Moriarty up that mountain path. He hadn’t told John, of course, and John understands the inexorability of Sherlock’s logic in this final decision. Understands it well enough to hate him for it; understands it so well that now, in the aftermath, his hand shakes nearly constantly. He notices it again as he boots up his laptop, mouse point hovering over the document containing the first sentences of an entry he has no idea how to write.
John closes his eyes and breathes. He has to finish it, owes Sherlock this much at least. It’s what people do; or, rather, it’s what they do, the two of them, Sherlock with his calculated recklessness and John, left behind to pick up the pieces. To memorialise them, when there’s nothing left to patch together again. He’s opened this entry countless times; does it once more without looking. Promises himself it will be the last time.
When he opens his eyes theres’s a new sentence on the screen, an unfamiliar alignment of pixels, absence and presence palpable at once in the space between them, and John’s next inhale shakes in his chest. He knows he didn’t write this and even as the realisation sinks in he can feel the echoes of long, pale fingers ghosting over his own, the indelible architecture of skin stretched tight over bone-muscle-tendon, the monotonous tap-tap-tap of the keyboard as Sherlock risks everything with a few spare words.
There, stark black on harsh white: Followed to its conclusion, every story is a tragedy.
Not this one, John thinks. There’s a spark of something pained and joyous in his lungs, because he knows, even if he doesn’t know how, if the knowledge itself has stolen what understanding he had. His veins thrum with anticipation of the revelation, the surety of it; he doesn’t mind waiting, now that he’s seen the crack in Sherlock’s logic, the vital flaw that Sherlock will never see himself.
He poises his finger over the keyboard, takes a deep breath, and brings it down on the delete key, soothed by the determined tap-tap-tap of his choice as he reverses the inevitable, one letter at a time.