There was a certain cold John felt as he entered his old flat, one he couldn't shiver to but one he couldn't get accustomed with. It was always there when he got close to Sherlock's chair or the untouched violin that was perched by it.
Mrs. Hudson was clearly mad at him. And that lingering cold was suddenly colder.
But then it all calmed down when he announced that he was going to ask Mary to take his hand up in marriage. Of course, Mrs. Hudson still thought he was gay. John wasn't particularly surprised.
The ache that came with the accusation was one that stayed until the early evening when Mary and John went to the fancy restaurant he managed to reserve just in the nick of time. Things were going smoothly—very smooth, almost too smooth, and John couldn't help but think that Sherlock would suddenly jump in and ruin it all.
But that never happened. And now he had a fiancée, with an unrestricted happiness that would bloom and stay lively until death.
It wasn't as livening as chasing criminals at midnight, though. That war was nice and all…but he couldn't reenact it. Not without Sherlock.
He was staring at the window of the cab, observing the people passing and walking along the street with Mary's hand in his.
But then John saw Sherlock. The dark-haired man was just…standing there, his arms crossed behind his back with his coat flowing with the wind of passing cars. It was an absolute shock that shook John to his core.
He scrambled to see more—but when Sherlock, with his bloody face and elegantly flying coat, was out of his sight, he was gone.
Mary squeezed his hand in concern, leaning towards him with a deep frown. "John, what's the matter?"
He blinked away forming tears, looking at Mary with a brief smile. "Nothing. I, uh…I thought I saw an old friend."
She looked back at him almost skeptically. "…Did you?"
John frowned a little. "It was too brief," he stated. "I'm pretty sure it was just my imagination."
Mary didn't seem very convinced, but she nodded and leaned back with his word taken for the truth.
The next time John saw Sherlock, it was his wedding day—or the evening of, anyway. It was namely after he and Mary finished their dance.
The dickhead of a genius was standing a little ways away from the pathway, his head turned towards John. But his body wasn't facing the building. A smile was gracing his lips, which was painfully creepy because of those streaks of blood from the day he died. His tranquil blue eyes were just so pale and bright, untouched by the smudges of darkness the night had to offer.
This time, though, he was wearing a suit, and a white flower rested over his shoulder. His hair was still matted with blood and the wound was still as open as the day it was inflicted—but John couldn't find it in his heart to care. Sherlock was there; he was there, standing as a living person, and…
Honestly, John couldn't believe his own eyes. So, naturally, he rushed outside to witness the appearance of his dead best friend up close.
People were clearly confused by his rush, but that didn't really matter. Not at the moment.
Mary was on his tail, too, hissing his name and asking questions John couldn't answer until he could see Sherlock.
He bursted out of the door, running out to the path.
Yes…Sherlock was there.
He was still standing there with his perfect posture and bloodied face. But he had a glass cup of the newly weds' choice of alcohol, and as John approached, he raised the glass. "To the three new Watsons," he said, sipping the champagne with an amused look on his face at John's appall.
"You—you're…" The doctor swallowed nervously, his eyes burning with tears. "You're alive?"
Sherlock smiled. "No, of course not. You're hallucinating," he stated.
John felt his jaw tense up as he physically bunched up. "No, no…no—" He cut himself off, rubbing his eyes. He looked back up at Sherlock. "Why now?"
"You should really ask yourself that," he pointed out. "Realistically speaking, I am you."
John shook his head. "It's almost been three years," he muttered hoarsely. "Why? Why now?"
Sherlock chuckled, setting the glass down on the stone railing with an amused smile. But he didn't say anything. In fact, he started to walk away. His footsteps weren't very loud, but the ruffles of his big coat being swung on was.
"John, what in the world are you doing?"
He turned around, looking at Mary with a choked up expression. His eyes were still burning with tears he hasn't cried in years, and breathing was suddenly the loudest thing in his ears. He turned back around, though—but to his disappointment, Sherlock wasn't there anymore.
"John…" Mary said, taking ahold of his hand with a worried expression. "John, what are you doing? Are you okay…? You look like you saw a ghost…"
He opened and closed his mouth before he sighed loudly through his nose, squeezing his eyes shut and breathing to bring himself back. The irony of those words went unparalleled. He sighed shakily. "I…I swear I—" His voice faltered and was lost in his own grief. He took a second to regather it and just barely managed to get it out. "I…I saw Sherlock."
Mary's eyes widened, her expression becoming even more worried. But then it all went away and was replaced by a teary-eyed look. "Oh, John…" she said quietly with an underlying empathy. "Sherlock…Sherlock isn't here anymore."
John nodded. "Yeah—I-I know," he croaked out. "I…I just…"
"It's okay," she jumped to say. "Come on, now—let's go back inside. We're missed at our own wedding."
John smiled, taking her hand and walking back inside. But he couldn't help but spare a glance over his shoulder. He could only grace himself with surprise when he saw that the glass of champagne with still clearly there.
Months passed. Mary was announced to be pregnant, and Lestrade was on a crime-solving streak John has never seen before. Molly got engaged, and Mrs. Hudson's hip was slowly doing better. Things were going very well, if he didn't count the occasional nightmare or those bouts of depressive episodes he's always carried with him.
Harriet was finally getting away from her alcoholism, too, upon hearing that she was going to be an aunt. Her drinking was still there, of course, but it was starting to show sporadic patterns that John could say he was becoming proud of.
And he has yet to…interact with Sherlock again. But sometimes, on his darker days, he expected to experience the same hallucination he did on his wedding day. He didn't.
Other times on his brighter and happier days, whilst walking around or driving in the new car he's been talking about buying, he's seen Sherlock standing on the sidewalk, just watching. But that wasn't very often; it's only happened twice, and the second time barely counted because it was just a literal glimpse.
Most times, though, he felt watched. But it wasn't anything edgy or uneasy. More or less, it was there, and it wasn't threatening.
The autumn months turned into the summer days. A routine was settled into; get up, go to work, go home and be a husband. To say the least, it was somewhat boring but John couldn't totally agree with that Sherlock-like voice in his head.
June became July, and early August came quickly after.
The baby's due date was in early August; the anticipation was unreal, and John was just too excited to finally become a father.
The ninth of August was the day. It was the longest fifteen hours of John's life—and Mary was absolutely exhausted, but the result was a very healthy baby girl: One named Sheryl Rosamund Scott Watson. They were rather oddball middle names for her, but John was content with them just as much as Mary was. Bit of a memoir in Sherlock's name.
Once again, time slowly passed. The first few days were restless. The hours lasted for a very long time, and little Sheryl was a whiny one.
Three days later, the Watson's were discharged. The first person they went to was Mrs. Hudson, who was rather quick to call over Lestrade and Molly. They all cooed over Sheryl and had some tea together for the first time in quite a long while. It was rather euphoric, but John did feel a gentle ache because it didn't really feel like a family-and-friends gathering without Sherlock.
…If it even was that in the first place.
Late in the afternoon, everyone dispersed. Mary was clearly still a bit worn out, and Sheryl was dead asleep in her swaddle. The ride back to their home was contently quiet, the only sounds being that of the tire's gently rolling around the pavement and other cars passing by.
It was a calm afternoon. Sheryl was put down in her new bed for a nap, and Mary took it upon herself to sleep properly. John would, too…but he couldn't. He could still feel that ache, and some part of him deeply wished to "conjure" Sherlock back—as sad as it sounded.
So he decided to just sit in the chair Sherlock indirectly gifted to him with a square glass of scotch that he could barely bring himself to actually drink.
John rubbed his eyes and sighed tiredly, barely mustering enough strength to stand. He almost sat back down, but he knew that it'd be a not-so-good idea. He started to make way to the kitchen—but a flicker of movement from the corner of his eye stopped him from taking another step further.
He turned his head towards the source—and surely enough, standing on the small green backyard was Sherlock. His face was still bloody, the streaks untouched by gravity just like how his eyes were still that ghastly tranquil blue that seemed to see through everything.
John froze in his spot, staring with a choked up expression. He took a few seconds longer than necessary to stare—but after clearing his throat, he slowly stepped out of the house and into the small backyard with glassy eyes. "Sh-Sherlock," he stuttered out.
He stiffly smiled in response. "You long for something that isn't here anymore, John. You really need to let go," he stated. "Forget about Sherlock. You know you deserve happiness."
The doctor blinked in surprise, trying to say something. But he couldn't form the words, and all that was left was the grief.
"You've got a daughter now," Sherlock went on. "Quite a ridiculous name, but you can't let my death stop you from raising the thing."
John smiled in a certain degree of amusement, a half-chuckle escaping his tight and heavy chest. "You have…no idea…" his voice trailed off a little, but he managed to catch it in time to continue, "…you have no idea how much of an impact your death had on me." He sniffed painfully.
Sherlock blinked. "No, I don't." He grinned a little. "Glad you're keeping me in-character, though."
John didn't roll with it.
The genius squinted a little. "Emotions slow you down. Haven't I told you this before? It's almost been four years. What will you say to your little brat when she finds you talking to nothing but air?"
"Exactly. Now, it's time to wake up John. Move on and live your life. You can't expect me to pop up again and again," Sherlock said. "You deserve the peace."
John's eyes widened a little. "What are you doing…"
"Nothing, actually; the question is what are you making yourself doing," Sherlock said. He stared, his gloved hands buttoning his large overcoat up as he tucked them into the vertical breast pockets. "You've been doing well to cope. Don't let yourself ruin it all by conjuring Sherlock back up. Go home."
John sucked in a deep breath at the words he heard. But he nodded a little. "Okay…" he croaked out. "Okay. I—"
"Great," Sherlock replied abruptly. "But where's home?"
John's jaw snapped close. He sniffed. It was a good question, one he knew existed. This physical home wasn't his; Mary and Sherlock have always been his "homes", and Sheryl was already in that same spot.
The closest he could get to Sherlock was 221B Baker Street. Perhaps that was his home?
"Good, you're asking the right questions," the dark-haired man said. John looked at him in surprise, but upon deeper thinking, it disappeared. Sherlock blinked again, staring at the vet with a blank expression. "You clearly don't need a deadman anymore."
John looked down and cleared his throat, sniffing as his burning eyes finally released tears. "I…guess so…" he murmured. He wiped his face clean and looked back up—but Sherlock was no longer there, and nothing remained. The grass still waved with the gentle winds, and the clouds still swam across the sky.
He stood there for a few moments, staring at the very spot where Sherlock once stood. His shoulders were held with less weight and breathing was easier; he knew he would pull through.
John did jump a little, though, when his phone started ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket, and saw that the caller was Mrs. Hudson. Quite odd for her to contact him in such a way—but he couldn't care.
He answered, "Hello…"
A few words later, he was in the car racing back to Baker Street. He reached Mrs. Hudson's apartment complex, parking without even bothering to lock his car.
He entered 221B in a hurry. "Mrs. Hudson!"
The old woman was already in the hallway. "Oh, dear, John…that was quick," she said.
He gave her a brisk smile. "Yes, I know. But you said you found an envelope in Sherlock's apartment," he pointed out. "You know what happened last time we found something like that. What did it say?"
She handed it over to him. "I didn't open it," she stated. "I couldn't find it in my heart to do so, dearie. It was addressed to you—see?"
John blinked a little and turned it over to see what it said.
A Waltz for John and Mary Watson
It took a few seconds to process, but eventually a small smile cracked his face. The handwriting was clearly Sherlock's; and while he couldn't confirm nor deny that he was alive, the possibility was clearly there.
And John most certainly wanted it to be true.
After all, who in the hells and heavens wouldn't want their dead best friend back?