In hiding, constantly hunting, formally dead for two years, Sherlock has few possessions, and they are all functional: jeans, ammunition, toothbrush, three false passports. He keeps no identifying material, and nothing relating to the three people whom he has made vulnerable. If he dies now, nobody will come to John’s door with news that rips open the newest scar in his mind.
Sherlock remembers the scar on John’s body. The feel of it under his caressing hand, and his own jealousy at knowing that war had owned the man he loves more profoundly than he ever could. That may have turned out to be untrue, but the realisation is hardly a comfort.
Another day, and Sherlock moves on. He engineers others’ deaths, repeatedly, until the idea of a life as a precious quality, belonging solely to its owner, smudges in his mind. But he has one indulgence: on a smartphone locked with unguessable code he visits again and again one line on one website: He was my best friend and I’ll always believe in him.
The words are a context and a cradling. While they are there, he can go on.
Alone is what he has, but John protects him.