Actions

Work Header

Letters, Redux

Work Text:

Dear John,

Turns out I’m still not dead.

--Sherlock

***

Dear John,

I guess I should clarify that a bit, expand on it a bit more, but

I sent you all the letters. All the stupid, stupid letters. I cannot even imagine what

I should have been dead. I don’t understand how I got out of the whole thing and find myself still alive.

--Sherlock

***

Did you read the letters? I wish I knew if you’d read the letters.

***

The thing is, I was a mess when I wrote those letters. Do you understand that? You must. I’m sure, if you read them, you must have stared at them and wondered what had got into me and whether I’d lost my mind. I’ve clearly lost my mind. Here I am still writing you letters.

***

Dear John,

The last letter, though

***

I meant every single word of the last letter, John. Every single word.

--Sherlock

***

I bet you got the letters and threw them away. That’s what you did, isn’t it? You were furious at me, so you threw them away.

***

Then you went and retrieved them, didn’t you? That’s so like you. You went and retrieved them and read every single one.

And WHAT DID YOU THINK?

***

Dear John,

I am going to move to Siberia.

--Sherlock

***

Dear John,

I have moved to Siberia.

The truth is that I am not doing this to avoid you. I’m doing this to avoid everything

***

I promised myself I would get it all out on paper, once I got to Siberia, and instead I wrote three sentences and stopped, and that’s not

I’m starting over right now:

Dear John,

I think you might know I’m alive by now. You’re not stupid, and you just received a pile of letters that clearly post-date my death. So you know I’m alive, or suspect. It’s possible you went to talk to Mycroft about it. I don’t know what Mycroft told you. I’m supposed to be keeping in touch with Mycroft but I can’t

I am so tired, John. I am tired in a way I have never been before. Always before my problem was too much energy. Even the days when I was lethargic, I was restless underneath it all, desperate not to be bored. And now I am so tired I can’t think straight. It took every bit of energy I had to drag myself to Siberia.

I want to take it all back, everything. Everything. I want to rewind us, back to the day after I met you, when you killed the cabbie for me and we went for a Chinese and we got back to the flat so very late. You were very slightly drunk, giddy from the lingering adrenaline of the shot and from the drink you’d had at the restaurant. And the flat was new, so you didn’t know where the light switch was yet. You walked in before I did, and you fumbled for the switch, and you giggled about being unable to find it, and it was dark, only the lights from the street through the window, and I wanted to press you against the wall and kiss you, taste the laughter on your lips, drink your adrenaline, make you mine. I should have done that. I want to rewind us and I want to do that. It would have changed everything. I don’t know if you would have kissed me back the way I wanted you to. I was scared that you wouldn’t. That’s why I didn’t do it. Having you there at all, I told myself, was better than not having you there.

Because if you hadn’t felt the same, you would have left. You would never have stayed my flatmate. And maybe that would have been best for us. I wouldn’t miss you so much, how could I, if I hadn’t got used to you? And I wouldn’t have ruined you the way I know I ruined you.

But if you had kissed me back

I should have kissed you. I should have accepted what we were then. I didn’t, and I led us here, and I’m so sorry.

I miss you with the desperation of

I miss you.

How stubborn is the human body. How my heart keeps beating and my lungs keep breathing, even though I feel dead.

I suppose I’m meant to be dead, so it makes sense that I would feel dead. I wonder if it is an inevitable conclusion of faking one’s death that one feels dead, even though one remains technically alive. Some sort of psychosomatic mental suggestibility or something. Like your limp, perhaps. How to conduct this experiment. Impossible. I am an experimental set of one, and the rest of the world is the control group.

Possibly most accurate thing I have ever written in my life. Will not ponder further. Will return to point of letter:

I miss you. I wish I could

If I had it to do over again, I would tell you every day that I love you.

***

Dear John,

Having re-read the previous letter, I am not sure that I’m happy with it. I am not sure it conveys what I wanted it to convey, which is how very much I love you and miss you and have made a complete mess of everything. I promised I would get it all out on paper, but I don’t know how to get it out. I can tell you that I love you, I can tell you when that started, but to say the rest of it, to use words to say the rest of it, is impossible. And that’s not a word I throw around lightly.

I ruined everything. Everything. If you knew the state of me at the moment, you’d probably kill me yourself. I am trying to remember the last thing I ate. I think I had a cracker the other day. Or something. Hmm. I must have eaten more than that, just as a biological necessity, as I am apparently still alive, but I cannot recall it. You would be appalled.

And I had it all. Everything I could ever want. I had you, which was more than I’d ever realized I wanted and more than I ever thought I could have. I had you, every night and every morning and all the in-between times. I know you used to be exasperatedly bemused by my tendency to talk to you when you weren’t in the flat, but I don’t think you ever grasped: I didn’t do that because I didn’t notice you weren’t there, I did that because, to me, you were always there, you were everywhere, I carried you with me, as solid as the heart in my chest. Those times when you weren’t next to me were unimportant data, irrelevant, deleted as they happened. You accused me of being a machine, the last time we spoke face-to-face, and you were so right in a manner of speaking, as I was like a machine who only ever whirred to life when in your presence. The rest of my life didn’t exist for me.

And I knew that—I knew that—before I jumped off that roof. I knew every last iota of everything I’m telling you. Emotion is not so foreign to me that I did not know I was in love with you, hopelessly so, devastatingly so, all those poetic clichés that turned out to be accurate. What I didn’t know was how much I would miss you, how much the loss of you would

If you ask Lestrade and Mycroft about me, they will tell you one startlingly similar thing, which is that I always take everything one step too far.

***

Dear John, wrote Sherlock, on the piece of paper in front of him. He’d just finished re-reading the last letter he’d written, and he was as dissatisfied with it as he had been with the letter before that. He was failing at this, as miserably as he’d failed at most things in the recent past, and his arm was aching and his side was twingeing and the wind bellowed outside and shook the walls of the cabin.

Sherlock frowned and tapped his pen against the side of the desk and looked at the letters of John’s name, the curve of the J, the slash of the tail of the n. The world’s simplest, dullest, commonest name. Practically a joke in and of itself, it was so simple and dull and common. And Sherlock had said it so many times each and every day, said it with affection and irritation and fear and wheedling and without thought, and had not stopped to think of how the fact of no longer saying it would cause the name to get stuck in his throat, choking him, stacking there in a messy queue.

The knock on the door was so unexpected that for a moment he dismissed it as the wind knocking something about outside. Then it came again. Sherlock looked at the door and reached for the gun on the desk next to the letter he was failing to write. It seemed unlikely an assassin would knock first, but it seemed unlikely that anyone would knock on his door. He’d gone to such great pains to be dead, thoroughly and completely this time. He was supposed to be done with all human contact.

The knocking came again, and curiosity got the better of him, the way it always did. Sherlock wasn’t inclined to play a Good Samaritan role but he had to know who was wandering around Siberia in the middle of a roaring blizzard. So he kept his gun cocked and at the ready and moved forward and opened the door.

Snow swirled in, along with a blast of cold air, and Sherlock had to squint against the force of it, taking his breath away, and when he could see through the whiteness in front of him, see the dark solidity of a man, he knew who it was almost immediately and refused to believe it, because it was impossible, because he must be hallucinating, because…

The name swelled in his throat and bubbled up into his mouth and choked its way out of him. For the first time in six months and nine days, Sherlock Holmes said out loud, “John.”