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Death

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It was the room of the Dead and the Departed, under the subsection Those Who Still Matter But Matter Less Due To the Issues Previously Discussed, and the graveyard was only half full. There were holes dug years ago in the ground, deep yawning crevices awaiting occupants, representing the deaths that were inevitable. There was a fresh cascade of flowers on the brown coffin, and an array of white ribbons crowned the picture standing at the head of the grave. The sun shone brightly - it always shone brightly here - but the priest stood sombre in his black clothing, bending his head to whisper the last rites. His words were never quite captured from the moment. Other things were more important.

Henry Thames had vomited the contents of his stomach onto his shiny shoes. They were second-hand, the previous owner walking with a limp that favoured his crippled leg. Mycroft's lips were thin and his face was unusually pale. He never missed school, but he had missed school for this event. His hand remained clenched on the little pamphlet celebrating Her life, Her words, Her wonderful, wonderful words. They did not reach out towards me. The distance was minute, and at the same time, it was infinite.

'Human sentiment is irrelevant,' Mycroft snarled. There was spittle on his lower lip, and a yellow stain on his teeth. He had taken to smoking once She had gotten ill. He thought I did not know, but I did. 'It is hardly necessary.'

We left early. We did not see Her body lowered into the chasm. We did not hear Her mother weeping hysterically, or see Her father look up to heavens as though it would return their beloved daughter to them, and Her red curls would burst again from Her thin, bald scalp, and Her lips would be pink and Her smile broad and Her eyes fire and not ash.

Ashes to Ashes.

Dust to Dust.

.

There was a trapdoor there, under the words Mycroft had snarled.

It swung open quickly.

'I don't have friends,' I growled, throwing barbed wire into John's face. His skin ripped, tore, and bled. A bullet hole appeared in his forehead, and the blood trickled down.

Rifle. Long-distance. Trained assassin, untraceable bullet.

'If you don't have friends,' John smiled thinly, 'then why would I die for you?'

Human sentiment is irrelevant.

 

How do you rectify bad moments? There was a trapdoor here too, leading to the Classroom, with all the hand-scribbled posters emblazoned on the pastel green walls, and the smiling poster of some irrelevant cartoon over Her desk.

She held my hands in hers. Human contact was essential for emotional conversations, or so She thought. It was apparent in the way She approached everyone - children or parents. It always unnerved Mycroft, but secretly he enjoyed the human contact. He was an island, and everyone else were huddled in the continent that had banished him.

'Sometimes, the easiest way to make people happy,' She suggested, drawing her thumb over the back of my hand, 'is to make them tea.'

 Frangipani Soap. Perfume, old, from an ex-husband visiting from Paris. White ring around her finger, tan-line where

She once used to keep his promises. Small scars on the inside of her hands. Run away and join the circus. Run away and be an acrobat. Dream big, dream loud.

'Not coffee?' I frowned. When Mummy was upset, Mycroft made her coffee. She never drank tea after my father died. He went into a special section, under the Dead and Departed, but in the rare tomb entitled People Who Matter But Must Never Be Mentioned.

So where did I put John? Those Who Would Die But Don't Because I Died For Them?

John has a world. I have a palace, and he has a world.

.

No sugar, just the coffee. He smiled approvingly over the mug at me, slight crinkles growing around his eyes. There was a scar there, faded among the wrinkles that would have been otherwise ignored, but there nonetheless. The television screamed at us with meaningless drivel. People hurt each other for the sake of publicity, grinning broadly at each other as the scythe struck low.

'Why are you still here?' I asked. I didn't ask him then, in this place and this time, but I asked him anyways. In this room, I could change the events in my memory as I pleased. 'You could leave whenever you wanted to.'

'I never want to leave,' John laughed, shaking his head. 'You're my friend.'

There were words that we both never said. I never had the abilities, the tools to voice certain things.

John never had the time.

Human sentiment is irrelevant.

Another room, another place I wish I could change.

'You machine!' John howled at me, his face growing dark with rage and betrayal.

It hurt me more than I ever felt anything hurt. I had grown constellations for John in my heart. They collided into a gasping black hole, screaming up into my throat until my eyes smarted.

I had the words in my mind ready, but he was gone before I could say them. But I made him stay, made the door into a wall so that John's fists beat relentlessly against the hard brick.

'If I'm a machine,' I whispered, 'then why would I die for you?'

.

There was a tunnel from the room of Regrets to the Classroom. My lips were bleeding and my eyes felt like they were about to burst from their sockets. I remembered a burst of fireworks against my retina when the boy hit me. I had told him the truth, but obviously the truth was hardly something that earned rewards.

Her face was cast in shadow but I knew Her eyes were like silver light. 'They don't mean what they say,' She assured me softly, stressing every odd number of her syllables. Her shoes had little bows on them, all of them in various colours.

'They do,' I replied simply. 'They aren't wrong. Mummy's psychiatrist agrees.'

Sociopath. Tendency towards antipathy. Too logical. Unnatural child.

Monster. Machine.

I had devised a method of reading my reports and sealing them shut again without leaving even a single fingerprint on the shiny card. The teachers described me as intelligent, however disinterested in the fundamental aspects of life and its sciences, especially when applying these knowledges to interrelations with my peers. They used words that a child should not understand. Words that I knew by heart, and learned to understand.

She bit her lip once, pulling a chaffed part upwards. 'I don't believe in that,' She whispered agitatedly, passionately. Her hands tightened around mine. 'I don't believe you're a monster, Sherlock. I think you're brilliant, and that you can be very kind.'

I stared at Her incredulously. 'Kind?' I repeated. I had never shown any tendencies of the sort in Her Classroom.

'Kind,' She confirmed with a tone of finality. 'When Amy's pen was stolen, and everyone thought it was Tom. You proved that it was Henry all along. You saved someone, Sherlock. That's worth remembering.'

 .

'Don't hero-worship me,' I reminded John, reading the newspaper without actually processing the information there. I knew the events already, having read the entire column while he was asleep. I knew his patterns by heart. They were imprinted on the inside of my retinas.

'And yet,' John retorted, raising an eyebrow, 'you worship me.' He would never have known this, but being a fragment of a room, he was allowed ownership of facts and figures I tried so desperately to hide from him.

Human sentiment is irrelevant.

I extended my hand towards him, my palm facing his face. He mirrored my motion exactly, his eyes locked upon me. We had been in the flat kitchen only minutes before, and yet now I was standing on the ledge, and John was an eternity of spaces away with the phone pressed against his face.

'Don't,' John pleaded in my ear, his voice drifting into my veins although his heart was hundreds of millions of milimetres away. 'Sherlock,' he pronounced.

The phone slipped from my fingertips. John shattered into a hundred pieces at my feet, his tears tasting of the snow and the rain. They were never his tears at all, but I am producing them nonetheless. At the final moment, I did not know what part of me was not filled with him, his smiles, his laughter, his sighs, the shadows he made on the floor, the sounds the floorboard made under his slippered feet.

I moved to the edge, spread my arms wide, and thought of flying.

Safe landing. Rubber ball. Remember to hold your breath. Don't breathe. For God's sake, man, don't breathe.

John cried out.

And I fell.