A myriad of colors dance before his eyes, spanning the length of the sky in streaks, ripples, and tufts. The clouds paint the perfect picture of the sunset, drawing out a haphazard pattern that somehow blends immaculately together. Rich indigos, pale blues, gentle purples, flush reds, fiery oranges, golden yellows. They all converge at the point of the sun, but the way they are fanning out from east to west in such a happy coexistent way is breathtaking.
John Watson spends an extended period of time simply watching the sun go down. He's stretched out on the rooftop, limbs spread-eagle, fingers curled listlessly, the hardness of the cement beneath him feel cold and unforgiving, but the breeze is subtly warm with the oncoming summer, and the lingering traces of light are welcome upon his cheek.
It's only when the final traces give way to dusk and, finally, the night, does John rise from his place atop St. Bart's and removes his jacket from the rooftop. He slides it on, rubs his chilled palms together, and breathes hot, moist air onto his numb fingertips to at least return them to normal.
It feels like he's lost all sensations but his sight and hearing for an eternity, now.
Food doesn't taste very appealing. John lives on tea, but even that has been reduced to warm water he hardly feels go down his throat. Physical contact is moot; it does nothing to comfort him. Not even when his sister kisses his forehead and touches his hair, not even when Molly pats his back sympathetically, not even when he wraps his own arms around himself and lies down in fetal position.
Nothing. He feels utterly nothing anymore. He only sees and hears, and even those senses have seemed to dim and fade. Life was like this before, once: when he first returned from Afghanistan. John is a doctor; he recognizes the symptoms of depression when he comes across them.
But it's been years. Of course he's depressed about it. Who can get over something like that? Who can stand by knowing that they were left behind because they failed?
Mycroft might have given Moriarty information on Sherlock and Sherlock's life to later be used against him, but in the end, John knows that it's his fault that he wasn't enough to save Sherlock from suicide. Friends protect friends; John said so himself. And he didn't protect his friend enough.
So here he is. John forgets when it began, but it was some time a few months ago.
Every week, after his last shift at the hospital (he took up a job again because he needed the money for rent; he needs to keep the flat at 221B, as much as it pains him to remember everything that happened there, because he can't let go; he just can't) before the weekend, John goes up the roof.
Every week, John stands on the ledge, looks down, licks his dry lips, feels the plummet in his gut, and clenches his trembling fingers into fists.
And every week, John wills himself not to cry, and every week, he steps down odd the ledge, sits on it facing the rooftop, and puts his face in his hands. And every week, he lies down afterward and stares up at the sky instead.
John can't bring himself to jump. He isn't even sure he truly wants to off himself at all; he just knows that he is trying to work something out each time he comes here, each time he looks down at the street below.
He tries to imagine what Sherlock had been thinking. He tries to imagine how Sherlock had the inhuman courage to step right off the ledge. He tries so very hard, when he lies down, to be clever like Sherlock. To not think about how he doesn't know what happened to Moriarty; there were traces of blood found on the roof, blood that wasn't Sherlock's, and no one can place it. Nobody knows. But John thinks it could have been Moriarty. Moriarty could have faked his death, too, to trick Sherlock, to convince Sherlock that he had no choice but to jump.
John all a jumble of speculations and half-baked evidence, and John can't seem to make a lick of sense of it all. He can't piece it together well enough; he's not Sherlock. But if he were remotely like the man at all, John would figure this out in a heartbeat, because, somehow, that would make the most of Sherlock's memory.
Sighing to himself, John heads for the door that will lead him back down into the hospital. He pauses as he reaches for the knob. Something feels… off. The balance is wrong, the setting is different, something miniscule and hardly noticeable but just barely there enough to draw a spark of John's attention…
Ah, that's it, John realizes with a blink. His eyes land on the door itself. It's partly open. Now, John knows for a fact that it was closed when he came up here and shut it behind himself. He had to lock it, you see. He has the key to get up here. They all require keys, all the doctors and janitors, since Sherlock's death. It's no longer as open as it used to be, the passage between doors. It's sealed.
But this seal is broken.
John stares for a long time at the door, watching the way it's ever so slightly ajar, the jutting brass attached to the knob touching the brass frame around the hole in the doorframe that it's supposed to slide into when the knob it brought into it to fully shut the door. John stares and stares at it, trying to work out how it could have been unlocked, turned, opened, but only just.
He reaches for the knob again, this time bringing the door fully closed. He waits a second, and then tears it open again.
The stairs in the corridor leading down into the main levels of the building is empty. But, ah, there: on the tiled floor on the landing at the bottom of the stairs before it reaches the door into the hospital: a scuff mark. Made by black shoes. No one hardly comes up here but John, and John is wearing light brown shoes. His only pair of black shoes are his dress shoes, which are at home. And what's more, that mark wasn't there before he came up to the roof, and no one's been on the roof but him since he came up.
John narrows his eyes in suspicion. Who followed him? Who's been watching him? Who works in the hospital, has a key, who wears black shoes? Who would know he was up here after his shift anyhow? The only person who knows his habits is Molly, and even she doesn't know that he stands on the ledge every week.
The ex-army doctor's head feels fuzzy and dizzy, like the answers are right in the front of brain, just out of reach of his thoughts. Like he knows the answers, but they are simply too painful or too complex or too impossible for his mind to wrap around and grasp.
John shakes his head. He feels like he needs a drink. It's Friday; he calls Mike Stamford. Time to go to the pub and forget for a while.
Exhales jaggedly. "Molly. He nearly saw me today."
"I told you to be careful!" Pause. Thoughtful, "It's like I said, isn't it? John always goes up there, once a week, but he never tells me what he does. I think he watches the sunset."
"He did. But not before he stood on the ledge for nearly ten minutes. Molly, why didn't you tell me he does that every time he goes up to the roof?"
Startled. "…What! He does? I-I didn't know, honest." Horror truly sets in. "Oh, God. You don't think he…?"
Roll of the eyes. "John's not suicidal, Molly." More thoughtful, "I think he's trying to sort out what I was thinking when I did it."
Sounding exasperated, "It's still dangerous, Sherlock. God, why can't you go to him?"
"I want to, believe me. I hate seeing him like this more than you can possibly imagine. But I can't, not yet. Need more time." Pause. She knows, he's told her: done with the assassins, just have loose ends to tie up. It's a lie; he was thorough. Tied all the ends. Is just hesitating, now, procrastinating in the biggest way. Can't go to John yet. Isn't ready, isn't prepared. Can't quite tell anyone this. Grips the phone tighter to his ear, "Thank you for your keys. It was locked."
Sighs, defeated. "It was nothing. I told you: whatever you need. Even though it's killing me, even though it's killing him, slowly, I will help you, Sherlock. I did that day, and I did… uh, afterward. I still will help you. Anything you need that I can get for you, I will."
"I know. Thank you; you don't know what it means to me."
Smiles tiredly, evident in voice. "I think I have an idea."
Awkward. "Well. Goodbye, Molly."
"Goodbye." Concerned. Warm.
Sherlock sets down the phone. Looks at his black shoes. Unties them slowly, removes them. Drops onto the hotel bed.