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The Keeper

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And since then it’s hardly stopped raining.

John sometimes thinks that if he stands under the rain long enough all his colours will start coming off, all his flesh will start running down, all of him will start disintegrating, melting away inch by inch starting from the top—until there is only a spot of him left on the pavement. A twin red spot.

No, he doesn’t think it sometimes. He hopes for it.

But he is a medical man so he knows that for a spot you need velocity and speed and impact. On his worst days he can’t really distinguish between the painless miracle he hopes for and the brutal inevitability he contemplates. No difference at all. Just as long as it makes it stop.

He hates waking up. He hates falling asleep, too, and all the time in-between. Sherlock is there, eyes like fucking lagoons, skin too pale for words, yet warm like only one other word can describe it, oh God, oh Go—

In John’s dreams Sherlock has taken up the entire spectrum: He could be material and real to the tiniest detail, to the point where John needs to look up, feels his neck clicking into its favourite position, its most natural position—supporting the head that’s tilted to look up at him, the only one worth looking up to, the only one worth looking at.

Or Sherlock could be the barest presence, an all-enveloping feeling of him with a complete lack of data to prove it; nothing, but the fact that John knows it’s him.

Of his waking hours John cannot say a thing, because to say that he hates them would be to sing their praises.

Just like to say that he misses Sherlock would be to call the Himalayas a bump.

John’s body has become completely inadequate for him. It is either too small or too large; it is mostly too far away. And when it’s close, when it’s fitting, in those rare moments he inhabits it fully, it is a monstrous liar. It tricks him into hearing sounds that aren’t there, catching whiffs of scents that have stopped existing in their entirety. Once or twice it has pulled the biggest trick on John, the cruellest, the most excruciating, oh God…Oh God.

He knows that in moments of utter despair people bargain with deities and their counterparts, the exchange usually involving the person’s soul. Quite right, too, because there isn’t much point in having a body, is there? What good is a body in the first place? It only makes you feel more alive and what fucking use is that? What use is there in a body at all, if you don’t offer the soul with it?

John can have just the body. He can take a shovel and go right now, dig, get it out, keep it. No one would take the body away from John, nobody would dare…He would like to see someone try.

As for his own soul, John is prepared to offer it to any takers as long as they give him Sherlock’s soul back. When it gets unbearable, John bargains for five minutes. Five, just give me five, he doesn’t even have to talk, he doesn’t even have to do anything, just let him be quiet and still and breathing, let me have a minute of him breathing again, plea—

“John. It will help you if you say those things.”

“I know them. I don’t have to say them, I kn—I kn—I know them.”

“When things are left unsaid they become too big for us to process.”

“They are big. They are enormous—You haven’t got a clue.”

“Then tell me.”

“Why should I tell you? Why should I have to tell anyone?”

“Because you are obviously angry and very, very hurt. You need to hear them. It will give you a sense of proportion.”

Ella must have thought he had finally lost it. Seconds after shouting at her he was giggling—

“A sense of pro—You obviously don’t know Sherlock.”

Her pause. How didn’t he see it coming?

“You mean I obviously didn’t know Sherlock.”

— and then he was crying.

But he still hasn’t said it.

He needs this to be bigger than him. Although he doubts that it is, because the way it was before, it was already pretty huge. There were moments when it was everything, and in those moments John had to stop and grab hold of something, realization spinning him like a whipping-top.

Now it’s just whipping.

John could have told him. But who had the time to stop and say it? John was busy living it, that feeling of being more than you ever thought you would be. The container of the most precious thing imaginable. John was right—he doesn’t have to say it. She wouldn’t understand; no one would. And so long as he keeps quiet, he gets to keep it—it’s still in him. It might not be beating but John’s doing the best he can to stop it from rotting, too. He’s preserving it; he is its mausoleum.

On most days he feels like a corpse in one himself.

On some days he feels like he was never born.

And on some days, when the rain stops for just a moment, he remembers his birth and dies all over again.