That night, Doctor John Watson dreamt of Sherlock.
It was not a pleasant dream; it was John's worst nightmare. And all the more so because it was so, so real.
In the dream, John stood on the pavement and looked up to the roof of the hospital where his love stood, facing him. In the dream, John did not understand. He could hear Sherlock crying through the phone he held to his ear, a fragile lifeline. John wanted to stop that, stop the tears. But in the dream, he couldn't move his feet, rendered immobile by the awful sound of crying from the man he had once called a machine but never meant it.
"Sherlock," he whispered. "Sherlock."
He couldn't hear him. Sherlock was deaf to him, only listening to himself talking like he appeared to do so often, a brilliant man wrapped up in his own brilliant world.
"I'm a fake, John. I made him up. Tell Mrs Hudson, tell Lestrade, tell Molly, that I'm a fake, and I made Moriarty up to make myself look good. Hell, tell anyone who'll listen."
No, this could not be happening.
"This is my note."
He didn't understand.
"That's what they do, right? Leave a note."
No, no, no.
Understanding, terrible understanding, flooded through him, tainting his blood with anguish. He wanted to scream, to shout, to pull at his hair and sob all at once. Instead, he forced his feet to move, to take his body one agonising step closer to the man he could not live without.
"No! Stay there. Don't move."
He stopped. Anything for him. Anything that could convince him not to do this. Don't do this. It beat an erratic, racing rhythm on his rib cage. Don't do this, don't bloody do this.
"Look at me, John." Sherlocks voice, usually so calm and level and calculated, was choked with tears. John knew how his face, his beautiful face, would look. He looked up.
Sherlock started to say something, but it stopped in his throat, and the sound was agony to him. Desperation was scrawled across the Doctor's face, because no doctor could ever fix what Sherlock was about to do. He was worthless, worthless to stop him from doing this; and his mouth wouldn't work; and words strangled themselves in his throat; and he had to tell him he loved him right now or he might never again get the chance. John looked up, and Sherlock was reaching for his hand on the top of the hospital. Ah, the irony. John's heart twisted in his chest, and his own hand went up to meet Sherlock's, only there was so much distance, and because Sherlock had told him he wasn't to move, he couldn't run up there and held him and pulled him away from that lethal, lethal edge...
But Sherlock had taken his hand away. Now he'd spread his arms, like he was going to embrace a loved one, and the phone dropped from his hand and out of sight and John screamed for him, screaming for the man he loved and suddenly
he stopped falling
because he couldn't fall any more
And the world spun
And he tried to run to him, run to his body and shake him awake
This joke had gone too far now
His heart was tearing, twisting, breaking
Ah, the lifeline of that name, the name that belonged to a man who would never again nag him to get milk instead of him
Never again buy that digusting grape jam
And a bike came out of somewhere and crashed into him and he fell but he had to keep going, had to see him, had to do something before reality set in because here he was, dreaming, and now that he'd realised it he could do anything and before he woke up he needed to make Sherlock alive again and then it would all be okay
He'd never told him he loved him
And he dragged himself forwards, relentless because now he had a second chance and he could tell him, tell this brilliant man that he loved him
And when he opened his eyes on the floor he would take him home and tie himself to Sherlock in every possible way
"I'm his friend, let me through, I'm his friend, please, please, I'm a doctor, please let me through..."
And those bloody paramedics were pulling him back, and he shoved them off and fell to his knees in that brilliant man's blood but
he didn't open his eyes
"sherlock..." his voice was rasping in his own ears, and tears were blurring his vision now, streaming down his face
"sherlock, sherlock, no, sherlock..."
someone's hand was stroking those wild black curls, and it took john a moment before he realised that that was his hand, and he smoothed out his hair around Sherlock's angel face, and stroked those cheekbones that irene had once said she could cut her hand on if she slapped him and john had been protective then, like he was now, and then the paramedics came and they pushed him away and he struggled and he cried, like a baby
And there was Mycroft, that bastard, that murderer, this was all his fault
And John made to lash out at him, his clarity returning
He could feel his bed under him, and now he could notice the red of Sherlock's blood on his knees and hands was far, far too red. And then he saw that everything was suddenly focused and he could see that it was black and white, apart from the blood staining him
And because that was so odd, he came to a realisation, lifting eyes that contained only a crushing, crushing
The dream shattered, and John opened his tear-crusted eyes to see Sherlock's blue scarf, slung over the bedspread, and putting up a hand to stroke it and maybe keep the despair now constricting his chest, once again threatening tears...
And as his fingers brushed it, feeling the impossible, because he realised that he hadn't put that scarf there; and he pulled it down and buried it face in it and yes, the impossible had a smell, a scent, too
because the scarf was still warm, and it smelt, impossibly, brilliantly, of the one man John would do anything for.