John sees him every single time he closes his eyes.
Keep your eyes fixed on me!
Please, will you do this for me?
Perched on the rooftop, arms spread wide, as if he might take flight.
Oh, God, Sherlock, John thinks even now, months later. Don’t you know? I’ve had my eyes nowhere else since the moment we met.
But his gaze couldn’t keep his friend, my best friend from lifting his arms one last time, wish stones pouring from his fingertips like rain. Tourmaline and ruby and opal falling from his hands, hanging in the air as if they might catch him as he plummets to earth.
The sky is filled with them, secrets only John understands, scattered in the wind.
Prayers like broken glass burst from John’s skin, cutting the air with shrieks of pain.
But Sherlock steps off the ledge; falls and falls, hurtles, helpless, to the ground, his body striking the pavement with a sick thud.
The world stops turning.
When John hits the cobblestones it’s almost a relief.
The way his head spins feels right. Confusion and horror and the pain in his body are all as they should be.
Sherlock has fallen.
Sherlock is hurt, and he has to get to him.
John’s voice, hoarse and broken, sounds far away against the rushing in his ears.
Let me come through, please. He’s my friend; he’s my friend. Please tell me he’s—
Oh, God, no.
Red and glistening like the most vibrant touchstone. But Sherlock’s skin is white, and his eyes, oh, god, his eyes are empty. No longer surging with life and love and hope.
Wish stones lie scattered around his body, his heart emptied, too.
John’s breath hitches now, remembering, and pigment rises to the palms of his hands. Indigo blue, streaked with black, it pulses beneath his skin. He leans his cheek against the headstone, and takes a gulp of air. Hewn of earth instead of emotion, this stone grounds him. It feels as if it tethers him to Sherlock; an anchor dropped straight to the centre of the earth.
Greg hates that John comes here each week. Says it’s time for him to let Sherlock rest. And for you to move on, remains unspoken between them.
But John knows others have come, too; small rocks left on Sherlock’s headstone evidence of the handful of visitors who have been to pay their respects. Green amazonite from Molly and jade from Mrs Hudson. A pile of lapis John is sure Greg adds to each time he comes. A polished sapphire that might have come from Mycroft.
John doesn’t touch any of them, not even when the wind and rain blow them to the ground to nestle amongst the fallen leaves.
He comes because here is the only place the noise in his head quiets. His back pressed up against the gravestone, fingers digging into the ground beneath him, it’s the only time wish pigment floods his body any more, filling the blank slate of his skin with colour. With memory. With the echo of hopes and dreams he once thought were his to keep.
The touchstones he manifests here he leaves buried just beneath the loamy soil, their rough edges brushing against the smooth surface of the polished grave marker.
It makes him feel less alone.
The earth is soft from the summer sun and John imagines a row of his touchstones all lined up like seeds, waiting for the right combination of sun and soil and water to release them from where they hide beneath the surface, freeing them to burst into the light.
Today, he lays his head down and runs his fingers through the long grasses that cover Sherlock’s grave. If he closes his eyes, he can feel the texture of Sherlock’s skin (rough here, silky there) beneath his fingertips. Smell the sweetness of his breath against his cheek.
“What’s this?” he mutters. The soil alongside the grave has been disturbed. A square of grass sits just the slightest bit off-kilter as if someone cut it away and hastily replaced it.
John’s heart begins to pound. Those stones were for Sherlock. The idea of someone else even seeing them brings a furious flush to his skin, and he shoves the dislodged square of grass and soil away to uncover the crime.
“Oh, god.” His voice breaks.
His touchstones are gone.
John’s hand shakes. They are gone, but in their place is a single, turquoise.
The moment he holds it in his hand, he knows.
It pulses with energy. When John closes his eyes, it seems to be filled with light.
Hold on, it says.
John can’t help the sob that tears from his chest. He’s been so broken.
I had no other choice,
An echo of Sherlock’s voice embodied in stone.
John curls his fist around the gem, warming it with his skin and letting Sherlock’s heart fill him with light.
I will always love you.
John’s body shakes and his skin floods with colour.
“I miss you,” John whispers into the wind.
And as if it could speak, Sherlock’s touchstone answers.
Wait for me.