Chapter 1: Denial
“No. Don’t…” and the despairing words are ripped half unspoken from his mouth as Sherlock hangs up the phone and throws it down. He falls, arms stretched wide, and struggling at every moment as if trying to beat his arms like wings against the air.
John’s eyes are on him as he falls, every moment that seems like an eternity, until the view is blocked, and then John starts running toward him, blind to all else.
Even with the matted blood in Sherlock’s hair seeping across the pavement and no pulse at his wrist, John, dazed, desperate, believes in miracles.
Chapter 2: Depression
John sits silent, staring, at the empty chair. All hope has faded. He is hollow, bereft.
He cannot move for numbness, hardly breathes. He cannot cry.
A cascade of memories stutter through his mind, all Sherlock - Sherlock playing the violin, Sherlock, hands folded in careful thought, Sherlock drinking tea, Sherlock leaping from the chair as he solves another problem, Sherlock curled up on the chair, dozing, happy in the aftermath of a case, Sherlock frantic with excitement, Sherlock bored, grouchy, laughing, teasing John, Sherlock -
John takes a breath, hiding his head in his hands. For a long while, he sobs.
Chapter 3: Anger
This is an emotion John knows all about. He feels it coming before it starts, the bubble of rage deep within him, born of a desperate, futile, urge to protect what has already been lost.
He wants to strangle Mycroft until that smug look vanishes.
He wants to kill Moriarty slowly, to make him feel every inch of it.
He wants everyone responsible in any way to suffer and die, and that includes himself, because he wasn’t fast enough, strong enough, good enough to save Sherlock. He didn’t say the right things, didn’t catch the signs.
He’d start with himself.
Chapter 4: Bargaining
It’s days before he can visit the grave. That makes it permanent, real. He’s less angry now, but it still hurts so much, like a hole has been ripped out of his chest and he’s been left gasping.
“There’s just one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me,” he says, pleading, hoping even though all hope is gone. “Don’t be dead. Would you do that?”
He has nothing to offer, nothing to bargain with but himself. “Just for me. Just stop it. Stop this.”
Stop this being dead and you’ll have everything I am or might be, he thinks.
Chapter 5: Acceptance
The limp returns.
It’s weeks before he’s not thinking of Sherlock with every breath, but eventually he isn’t. It’s months before the nightmares fade, but they do.
Over the next three years he finds a new flat, gets a new job in a thriving surgery, finds a pretty girl who loves him, gets married.
He’s accepted it. He will always believe in Sherlock, but he’s moved on. Sherlock’s gone.
“He was the best man, and the wisest man, I’ve ever known,” he posts on his blog.
He writes a book.
It gets published. Life is comfortable.
Then Sherlock comes back.