Monday. Time elapsed: 5 months. 2 weeks. 3 days. 14 hours. 48 minutes.
It feels like I haven't been awake for ages now. Exactly how long I cannot say, but that automated counter on top of this post will tell you. Whatever span of time had passed, it seems like I am stuck. I cannot call this a nightmare. This is life, that much I know. My therapist has spent enough time trying to convince me this is the reality, so I might as well give her the benefit of my belief.
Lestrade phoned yesterday. He had to call the landline since my mobile phone has become unreachable - a side-effect of a collision with the wall - the one with the smiley face. I refused to pick up so Mrs. Hudson barged in a few minutes later telling me the good detective inspector wanted to take me out for coffee. I know he really doesn't want to see me - not only because of the guilt but because I've made it quite clear I don't want him in my house. Ever. I hate coffee, anyway. It reminds me too much of languid mornings we used to spend together - me, reading recent headlines in an attempt to fish out interesting cases and him sipping on the toughest, thickest coffee I had ever seen anyone drink. The sludge would always be so viscous, it would take both me an Mrs. Hudson several turns to scrape it off the mug. The problem with Sherlock was always that he didn't have a favorite mug - so he used all we had one by one. Used to drive me insane. Now I long to wake up to the smell of the mud-cake coffee and the chore to wash out the china.
I keep thinking of an excuse to find my phone and try to switch it on. Maybe it will work. Maybe it can still be fixed. Like me. At this point, Sherlock would have said something along the lines of, "oh, how boringly mundane you are, John, with your silly literary romantics". It is true, isn't it? Death has turned me into a romantic. A hopeless one.
Sarah passed along a note via Mrs. Hudson a few days ago. Says I lost my job. Funny how it could be the only thing to stave off my boredom but I just don't want it. I have enough money to pay the rent for the next century - Sherlock did have some amazing benefactors backing his cases up and I, apparently, am his next of kin. Not Mycroft. Me. He named me as the closest person in the world he could have. That is an almost direct quote.
Shower. Now that's a good idea. I don't think I've taken one in at least a week.
Swinging his tired legs over the edge of the bed, John sat up warily, eyeing the opposite wall through tired eyes. The room still felt very foreign to him, even though it had been months since he had started sleeping there. The periodic table of elements stared back at him, zinc and calcium illuminated in the pale light of the morning. There was no sun, there never was nowadays, not in this room. John kept all the drapes tightly shut, just like Sherlock had liked it once. He had no need for the outside illumination anyway, as the only thing that provided incandescence here was the screen of his laptop, which had taken up a permanent residence on the bedside table and, more often than not, under the second pillow to his left, and frankly, the flickers of the LCD screen were all John needed.
Sherlock's bedroom had become a shelter of sorts, one could suppose, as John now spent a substantial amount of time there, writing away on his blog, posting like mad. The number of reads had not diminished after Sherlock's ... departure, instead, John felt a tiny bit better when he saw the hundreds of comments and likes aimed at his support. It seemed some people still believed in the great detective, as condolence letters and e-mails poured in, leaving John a bit breathless. He felt a little selfishly satisfied when he received each one because he knew Sherlock would not have cared about a single person behind those letters. Sherlock only would have cared for John's scriptures, biting out acidic commentary to his choice of title and rolling his eyes at the frequent cliché and tautology he allowed himself on the blog.
"John! Someone here to see you, dear!" Mrs. Hudson hollered from downstairs, making John raise up one eyebrow in a feeble imitation of how he would have done had he been... here. Nobody ever came to see him anymore, even the once-loyal Lestrade had limited himself to phone calls after a particularly nasty incident involving his carelessness with what he said about Sherlock, John's fist and his nose. As a doctor, John knew exactly how long it would take for Lestrade to stop breathing through his mouth.
A series of exact footsteps were heard as his visitor made his way up the stairs. John knew it was a he taking into account the weight put into each setting down of the feet and the rhythm, which seemed more like an anthem than the tittering mambo Mrs. Hudson's feet usually made. The steps stopped right in front of his door and before the visitor could know, John urged quietly:
"Come in, Mycroft." The door creaked open and indeed, there stood Mycroft Holmes, his suit impeccable as ever, hair slicked back unfashionably yet sensibly for him, a long black umbrella hooked over his forearm. He looked more tired than ever, frown lines and dark circles setting in around and under his eyes despite his regular spa treatments. The death of his brother was taking its toll on him, although to a lesser extent than John might have hoped for. It was Mycroft's fault, he kept reminding himself. More or less.
"Good afternoon, doctor Watson, or should I say morning?" A fake smile creeped its way into the lines of his middle-aged face. John refused to be affected by the synthetic charm and simply nodded, finding himself hoping that such an acknowledgement would be enough for the elder... only Holmes brother to disperse. "How did you know it was me coming up the stairs?"
"Obviously, by the sound of your umbrella scraping the wainscoting and the rhythm of your walk, you have a very particular one that-," John cut himself off, suddenly horrified. Howdid he know it had been Mycroft? Did he really realize that from he sound-, yes. Yes, he had know because he had observed Mycroft do it before. Observed.
"Terrifying, isn't it?" Mycroft asked pleasantly, giving John a once-over. "Turning into him. Your reclusive way of life seems to have affected your judgement."
"What are you doing here, Mycroft?" John asked wearily, hoping a question would drive the annoying man away. Questions were usually asked by the CIA/MI5/whatever else employee, not the other way around.
"I was in the neighborhood."
"You expect me to believe that."
"No. But it is the only answer you will get for now so I suggest, my dear doctor, that you sit down and listen to what I have to say." Mycroft shifted in his seat uncomfortably and propped his chin up on the umbrella handle, heaving a sigh. "I came here to apologize to you."
"We both know it is not me you should be apologizing to." Liar, swine, deceiver, betraying sack of-,
"Well then you also know where his grave is. I imagine you have at least five surveillance cameras stationed in the graveyard. Although, I don't believe you have visited him." John turned his face away, refusing to look the other man in the eye. "And don't say 'you should know'. I realize it isn't healthy, me doing what I do but it's the only thing I know besides of how to treat wounds and chase your younger brother all across London."
"Have I said anything? I think what you do is very... kind."
"Not a good thing in your books, though, is it, Mycroft Holmes?"
"My books have no say in the matter, dear doctor."
"Please, do get to the point, I have somewhere to be. And so, I should think, do you, although judging by the state of the country, you seem to be slacking off, Mr. Holmes." John nearly winced as he said the words. Too cold, to precise, to eloquent. He really was turning into Sherlock. A horrible, Chinese-copied version of him, but it seemed as though his body had found a defense mechanism for his grief. Consume every memory of Sherlock, become him. Maybe then he could pretend he was still here, still talking, still deducing, stillbreathing.
"There is not point to this conversation, doctor. I simply came here to see how you were doing. How are you doing?" Mycroft leaned forward, studying John closely, as one would a small interesting insect from Africa.
"How do you think, Mycroft? My best friend is dead, I lost my job, Mrs. Hudson is too scared of getting caught in one of my outbursts to ever come inside when I'm home - which is always, by the way, - my sister stopped calling because I wouldn't stop crying whenever she did and writing a blog, the only thing that used to keep me sane, has turned into a chore because there is nothing to write about. I have no life, Mycroft. But you knew all that before, didn't you? You just wanted me to admit I miss him just as much as you do just so you wouldn't have to feel guilty alone, well you know what, Mycroft Holmes? I believe you deserve every sleepless night, every constriction of your throat, every memory that makes you just this more insane. You deserve every second of suffering," John said, his voice and face impassive. Cold. So cold.
As there was nothing more to be said, Mycroft sniffed, wiped his nose on the sleeve of his expensive jacket, and left a breathless John behind, with nothing more for company than his memories.
"Hello, Sherlock," John greeted his best friend, stooping down to press a kiss to the black marble. "How was the night? A bit cold, I imagine, with only your stone to cover you. Here, I brought you something to warm up." He paused, brandishing a thermos of earl gray tea and getting out two collapsible army cups from his jacket pocket. Pouring two cups, he kneeled onto the ground, ignoring the steady sting of the cold earth on his legs. "Here, just bought some fresh tea leaves yesterday on my way home from you. Cost me a fifth of my army pension but well, what is life if cannot enjoy a cuppa?"
The gravestone remained motionless and John sat resolutely on the ground, sipping at the piping hot liquid from his cup. The leaves rustled by, reminding John of last year, when he and Sherlock chased some murderer around the city - a blur of taxis and interviewed people, usually insulted by Sherlock, the dinners at Angelo's and the evenings spent at 221b Baker Street with John writing down their adventures and Sherlock conducting some hazardous experiments in the kitchen. Such normal things to him that now the normal that he had known before seemed foreign. They all said Sherlock was not right in the head but now John, ordinary, mousy John, was able to safely say he himself was a bit cuckoo as well.
"Your brother came by today, by the way. Haven't seen him since... your departure. Strange, how concerned he suddenly was with my well-being considering he didn't even attend your... send-off." Knocking back the rest of the scalding tea, John eyed the cup he had out onto the stone:
"Are you going to finish that? Probably not because Sherlock Holmes never gets cold like normal people do, what with you stupid long coat and expensive woolen pants." John smiled fondly, settling into the steadily cooling grass. "You know what's funny, though? After you left, nobody came to me to give that coat of yours back. I thought they would pack all the clothes up in a box to go with the other box... the wooden one, where they would place the rest of you. I guess your coat is still somewhere at Scotland Yard, being prodded and taken apart as evidence in the Moriarty case. Or maybe they buried you in your coat. It would have been fitting."
"It's a pity, actually, that you left in a closed box. I would have loved to say goodbye," John said, trying to keep his tone light as he felt his throat close up. Before the tear that was threatening to fall could make it down his eyelashes, he wiped his eyes, irritated. "You do funny things to people, do you know that, Sherlock? I was in the army, saw people die left and right but never cried. You got me blubbering like some sentimental buffoon. You made Mycroft feel sorry. You made Lestrade more cautious. You made Mrs. Hudson sad. I don't like it. She doesn't deserve sadness. She's a nice lady, even though she used to irritate you and I with h-her c-constant c-comments ab-bout us b-being t-togeth-,"
Unable to go on, John sobbed into his open palms, begging for the pain to go away. It never did.
"Sh-Sherlock, I know you might n-not would have w-wanted to hear this but... Um," John paused, his chest heaving, his bottom lip caught between his teeth. It didn't feel right. "Never you mind. Just me being silly. Silly John, the sidekick, wasn't it?" He let out a hysterical laugh and looked away from his friend, trying to gather his thoughts back into his tired brain. "Listen, I'll be back tomorrow. There's something I need to think about, Sherlock. You-you just stay h-here, okay? D-don't go anywhere? Oh God."
Once again, his chest tightened and new tears spilled from his eyes, making him stumble over the last words he said every day when he came to the cemetery to talk to his best friend. The same words, every day. The same tears, every day:
"Stop this. Don't be dead."
It took Sherlock two hours of sitting in the cold graveyard on top of some poor devil's tombstone to figure out what had transpired in front of him. It seemed simple enough - a grieving John Watson arrived, pretending to talk to a still breathing Sherlock, pouring himself tea and berating Mycroft. His analytical brain whirring into action, two hours later, he had finally found the solution to the question: what was John doing? Not just now, but in general. What had he made of himself after Sherlock's 'death'?
John Watson was living his life now. Alone, friendless, driving people away, sociopathic, drinking.
He hated it.