He says that this is the last entry that he will write on his blog. There will be no more words, John Watson will write no more of the late consulting detective because there is nothing left to chronicle about him.
This is a lie.
John keeps writing. He doesn’t post anything online, balks at the idea of even one, out of millions of people, reading his prose. His script has become something sacred now, something that he shares with the silences in the flat, the wind that blows through the windows of 221B and the skull that sits on his lap.
These are the only audiences to his stories.
There is a leather bound journal John keeps. It was in Sherlock’s mess of old things, things that John likes to take out every now and then to sort into different piles. The organization changes every time because John likes to think that Sherlock wouldn’t want his things to be left in the same position for very long. Too boring.
It used to be a record to note the splatter patterns of human fingers, when they are cut at a certain angle. Sherlock wrote in a messy cursive, thin and diagonal, barely legible to the normal eye. But John can read it as if it were written in bold block letters, chuckles at the old foot notes added here and there. “Need more data” is scribbled in one margin, while “impossible, perhaps factor in body weight and height? Get John’s input” in scrawled in another.
There are Sherlock’s funny doodles of smiley faces and angry faces when an experiment is successful or not. These receive a few laughs from John but only the soft breeze through the curtains can hear it.
The journal is only a quarter filled, up to about three weeks before the prelude to the Fall began.
John thinks it’s only suitable that this book gets filled too.
He tries to recreate Sherlock’s experiments. He’s not the best scientist (Sherlock would scowl at the way John handles his slides and microscope. It’s not possible to contaminate so many samples. John doesn’t remember his biology labs being this complicated.) He writes down the notes with his neat and loopy letters, indulges in a bit of sketching (it’s been a while, since the army in the lull between missions) of human eyes and scarves.
Sometimes John writes down notes about his patients, possible ways to help them. He has an open door these days to anyone from the homeless network, sets up a small make-shift clinic on the kitchen table. A lot of Sherlock’s old contacts come in for patch-ups and John helps them out. He asks if he can write down what happens to them in his journal.
They don’t really care, so they accept.
(But later they’ll ask to read the entry, blush at John’s—as Sherlock would put it—flowery descriptions of them and their life stories.)
He jots down descriptions of the city. Cuts out newspaper clippings and pastes them onto the parchment if he finds interesting cases he thinks that Sherlock might have liked. (Some are cases that are below a seven, but John pastes them anyways because he likes to imagine Sherlock’s annoyed put-upon expression.)
“Another case for you,” Lestrade will say when he drops by the flat. Things are still a bit awkward between them, what with their inability to open up about the empty aura of the room.
And John will accept them gratefully, does what he can to help.
Then he’ll take the paperwork, when the case is all tied up, add it to the journal.
“What are you writing these days?” Lestrade asks at the bar, when John take to scribbling in the pages after he observes the couple sitting a table away from them are in an open relationship.
“Just a few things. Interesting things.”
Lestrade peeks over and raises an eyebrow, “Is that a list on the different types of wood for tables?”
John only shrugs.
Mrs. Hudson is quiet around Baker Street these days. So John tries coaxing her out of her rooms by watching some good telly with her. She doesn’t speak about much while the latest soap is on and John dislikes seeing how thin she looks lately.
So he makes tea, he fusses over her.
Eventually, John is writing random notes in his journal about a nice violin he saw in the store the night before. He even took a picture of it on his mobile, printed it out from his computer later to paste onto the pages. Mrs. Hudson walks into the kitchen and asks what he is doing.
“Oh, just a scrapbook of sorts.”
She pauses, hovering by the cupboards. “It’s good to see you so focused on something, dear. What is it about?”
“Things, I suppose. Things that happen to me,” he replies. He points to a photograph of a sale on milk. It’s next to a scientific article on the development of a new tropical disease. John also has sketches of the skull and more violins.
Mrs. Hudson clutches the table top.
“Oh, John. It’s lovely.”
They bake a lot. John actually likes it. He’s never really had the opportunity with his mother (she works so hard to pay off their debts and yet it’s not enough because his father keeps drinking it all away) and Mrs. Hudson seems so much more alive when she’s describing her secret ingredient for lemon pie or truffles.
“Course, Sherlock never did eat much of my sweets. He did have a soft spot for my chocolate cake. He’d eat the whole thing!”
“Really?” John laughs, imagining Sherlock hoarding as much cake under the couch for himself as possible, imagining that Mycroft might come and steal it.
They decide to take a picture of their latest baking spree. It’s pasted next to the recipe with some teasing remarks about Sherlock gaining weight if he ever lived off of Mrs. Hudson’s cake alone.
The journal is more than half way full and John still feels empty inside.
“…I wish you could have talked to me, trusted me…” John whispers at the door to his old bedroom, to the empty armchair by the fire, the neglected music stand by the window. It’s open, so he can hear the accompanying sounds of London keeping him company. There are sirens in the distance, the sound of tires on the road and people chatting on the pavement.
And there is the wind, his constant companion.
“I would have followed you,” John says.
The air whispers back.
It’s funny that he has always wanted to be a writer of great epics like Tolkien or mystery novels like that bloke Doyle. But the greatest thing John will ever write is not a fantasy or of someone dreamed up by inspirations of real people…
But of the most amazing man he has ever met.
Anything else John writes pales in comparison but when he writes of Sherlock Holmes, the words seem to spill over the pages and he never wants to stop.
Moriarty wanted to make Sherlock burn, wanted to ruin everything about Sherlock’s livelihood, reputation. And he succeeded, in a way, because Sherlock is gone gone gone even if the wind sometimes speaks to John in a familiar baritone.
But Sherlock will not die, he will never let that happen.
Words, John Watson knows, can make anyone immortal. And that’s what he will do. He will write everything, honestly and true, about his feelings, about every aspect of his life. That’s what the second journal is for, that’s what his whole life is for, in testament to this great man.
And when he dies, he hopes someone will read it and they will know.
His mother told him once, that if you write a letter to someone you love, and burn it, that the words will float up, transformed into smoke and reach them in heaven. They will read your words, caress them and breathe them. Those words will become one with them and they will walk with your signature of love within them.
“That’s what I want when this scrapbook is done,” John tells Mrs. Hudson. “I want him to know that I still believe in him.”
Eyes shimmering, Mrs. Hudson nods.
“Are there puzzles for you to do, wherever you are?” John wonders aloud. “It must be boring, being dead. I do wonder if you’re watching me sometimes. I’m sorry. I do try to live a more exciting life, so that you aren’t terribly plagued by the tedium but I’m only human.”
He writes the same three words on a post-it note, like he has every day since he visited the grave a third time, and throws it into the fire.
“Can’t let you forget how I feel,” John says. “I know it’s repetitive. But I do regret not saying it when you were alive.”
The draft today is particularly harsh. Almost enough to put out the weak sparks in the fireplace.
But he doesn’t close the window.
When night falls and John is alone with the nightmares and the silence and the open window, he can see him sometimes.
Sherlock is a figure, half hidden in shadows. His dark hair is a curl of darkness, face covered in dark shades and lips curved in a familiar smirk. John imagines walking over, reaching up, standing on his toes to ghost his breath against his dead friend’s lips.
In the dark, they breathe, sharing breaths.
John will close his eyes and he will sleep.
The scrapbook is missing. John realizes this when he comes home late from a particularly long day at the clinic and then an emergency call from Lestrade, requesting help with the most recent homicide case. He panics, searching in all his drawers, near the skull, by Sherlock’s abandoned chemistry set and more.
It’s so hard to see without any lights turned on. In hindsight, John should have turned them on first. He gropes around, trying to find the wall and then feel his way towards the switch.
Instead John’s fingers touch the smooth fabric of a silk pant leg, the firm build of a leg, and he looks up slowly in shock.
His eyes make out the outline of curly hair, a tall figure, sharp cheekbones and the same intense eyes, looking down at his with such scrutiny that John almosy expects to be dissected on the spot. He almost doesn’t move, out of fear that this is an apparition, something the wind has conjured up for him in the random periods of loneliness, when the apparition speaks.
“Sherlock,” He breathes, hands reaching up so tentatively. “Please tell me that I’m not hallucinating.”
The ghost, apparition, whatever he is, hesitates. “I have your journal,” He offers with one pale hand, holding out both the journal and the scrapbook as a cautious peace offering.
Slowly John takes them both, his fingers lingering over Sherlock’s (they used to be so smooth, but now they are callused with different scars. John wants to touch them, memorize how they look.)
“…You’re not dead…” He whispers.
And the man shakes his head.
Two books drop to the floor. There is a rustling of cloth, shuffling of two pairs of feet as John Watson embraces his best friend tightly. He whispers them then, those three words that he’s been writing every night without fail. He whispers them again and again, doesn’t care if Sherlock pushes him away, if the detective looks at him with pity or disgust.
But then he feels a mouth press against his, desperately and all thoughts are lost.
There are arguments, of course. Explanations and then grief will be resurfaced. There will be hurt. Reassurances. A tentative rebuilding of their bond. Something lost there that won’t be found.
But they are Sherlock and John.
They continue on.
In the morning, John will see the pages of his scrapbook have been ripped out and taped all over the wall overtop of what used to be Sherlock’s board for tracking connections to crimes and Moriarty.
In the morning, John will find those three words written on his heart with marker and he will smile.