John Watson has a very basic aversion to silence.
For all his complaints about Sherlock banging around in the middle of the night, John doesn’t mind at all. The noise helps him sleep. Silence makes him nervous. Quiet is bad. Quiet brings danger and the absence of humanity.
Even when not speaking, humans make noise. It’s as much a part of people’s lives as breathing. Having spent the bulk of his life either on the battlefield on in a hospital, John knows the dangers of silence. He’s used to gunfire and children screaming and machines beeping. The quiet is just unnatural.
The first time John pronounced a man dead, it was so quiet. He stood in the ER next to the man’s bed with all the other nurses and doctors. No one said a thing.
When they called the time of death aloud, it came out as a whisper. John hated it. This kind of silence makes John angry. It makes him furious. It shouldn’t be quiet. Even this man screaming his bloody head off in pain would be better than this. It’s not the kind of silence that you find on Sunday mornings curled up in bed. It’s the kind of quiet that’s oppressive and disgusting and it makes John want to vomit. Being a person of easy-going character, he hates very few things. But this. This is a different matter entirely.
John’s distaste for silence is more than just a preference. He subconsciously goes to lengths to avoid it. He’s avoided silence for so long that he barely even notices it anymore. Quiet is acceptable, but silence. No silence.
So he has the telly on mute while he reads because even the hum of the electricity is better than nothing. Or he puts the kettle on first thing in the morning so he can sit in his chair and just listen to it. He’ll fall asleep listening to Sherlock playing the violin or the floorboards creep as Mrs. Hudson wanders about downstairs.
He has more tricks to avoid silence than he ever realized.
For all its blood and pain and gore, Afghanistan had been beautifully loud.
Even of the dead of night, there was screaming and banging and god only knows what else. It meant war and pain, but the only thing scarier than a loud battlefield was a quiet one. For all the death and pain that came with Afghanistan, he’d take it over the suffocation quiet of his return to London any day.
Sometimes John wonders what it says about him that he’d prefer a warzone over a silent room. He wonders what he therapist would say.
The day Sherlock jumps is grey and heavy and if John weren’t too busy to notice, it’s the kind of day he would hate. He hates it already but not for the quiet. The day is loud and frantic until… Until.
It’s a loud and frantic day until he’s standing on a street watching Sherlock jump off a building. Then it’s quiet.
There’s police and reporters and Lestrade and Mycroft and…and and and. And John doesn’t hear any of it. He wonders if he’ll ever remember how to hear again.
He thought the quiet on the street had been bad. 221B is even worse. John stands in the kitchen and screams as loud as he can until his voice gives out. Mrs. Hudson doesn’t even call up the stairs at him.
John screams as loud as he can and it doesn’t even matter. The silence is like a physical pressure. Pushing. Pushing.
God, it’s so quiet.
The day John comes home to find Sherlock on the couch of 221B years later, it’s raining. It’s absolutely pouring and John’s hands are slippery around the bottle of milk.
It’s pouring rain and Sherlock is sitting on the couch of 221B. Very quiet and very much alive.
John leaves the milk forgotten by the front door and presses his face into Sherlock’s neck. John’s hands are decidedly not shaking.
Sherlock says nothing and John says nothing in return.
All John has is the steady beat of rain on the windows and the warmth of Sherlock to keep him from the agonizing silence.
It might be enough.