"So if I didn’t understand I was being asked to be best man, it is because I never expected to be anybody’s best friend."
I looked up at Sherlock and thought to myself that if only I had mustered the courage, he maybe won't be saying the words best friend. But it was all we were, best friends, companions, mates…friends. The words felt bitter on my tongue and always will.
"Certainly not the best friend of the bravest and kindest and wisest human being I have ever had the good fortune of knowing."
I felt Mary's hand tighten around mine as she smiled to me, a gleam of pride in her eyes. I smiled back and tried to ignore the deep ache my heart was in as Sherlock pronounced those words. Sherlock looked beautiful, maybe it was the light or something else, but right now, Sherlock looked so beautiful. Even more so than Mary, if I dared to be honest with myself.
"John, I am a ridiculous man."
I smiled and nod, oh yes you are, William Sherlock Scott Holmes. You are. You claim yourself to be smart, you actually are, you saw through The Woman's play that she was in fact attracted to you, but you never, ever, in all those years living together, found out that I was madly in love with you. Yes, you're ridiculous Sherlock. And so am I.
"…redeemed only by the warmth and constancy of your friendship. But, as I’m apparently your best friend, I cannot congratulate you on your choice of companion. Actually, now I can."
I smiled, looking at Sherlock for a split second before I had to turn away, Mary's hand suddenly feeling heavy in mine, like it's not meant to be there. I smiled at her anyway and tried to give all my attention to Sherlock. He was uneasy, he hated it, but in the way his eyes were glued to me and the gleam of his stare, I could see he was doing this for me, even through the ache of speaking in public and expressing feelings.
"…So know this: today you sit between the woman you have made your wife and the man you have saved – in short, the two people who love you most in all this world. And I know I speak for Mary as well when I say we will never let you down, and we have a lifetime ahead to prove that."
I look at Mary's hand, biting my cheek and try to contain my tears like most of the guests. Except mine wouldn't be tears of emotion, more likely tears of anger, sadness, frustration, despair.
I've chosen the wrong person to marry. I stared into space for a bit, letting realization sink in, let the feeling of my heart breaking lingering a bit more as I listened to the silence Sherlock left over the assemble.
I turn to Mary and whisper to her: "If I try and hug him, stop me."
I know only more heartache would come out of it, every touch burned more than the previous, his looks over me feeling like fire is eating up my flesh but also like a light feather is soothing it. This feeling that gets me light headed for a while… I can't handle anymore of that, but I know I won't be able to resist the urge have him against me, even for a split second.
Mary pat my hand and whispers back: "Certainly not"
Well, she's not helping herself. If she knew she wouldn't let me. If anybody knew they would frown and scowl.
Sherlock being Sherlock, he had again one of those adorable moments of confusion concerning human behaviour. I pulled him in a tight embrace, forgetting everybody else in the room, not hearing their applause or Mary's awing. Just the feeling of his dark curls tickling my nose, his hand lightly touching the small of my back, his sent, so familiar now, yet it still makes my heart beat a tad faster. I feel him struggle, but only tighten my arms around him. No, he can't leave now. Just not…not now.
He goes to keep on with his speech, but my legs are way too shaky to stay up next to him while he talks, so I sit down as quickly as I can. He goes on, makes a joke about my blog and I can only smile a bit before my smile flattens as he speaks. He hates it, but manages to make it perfectly. He always does everything so perfectly.
" ... he’s a romantic."
Oh only if you knew Sherlock, while he tells about our cases I can only think about those missed opportunities on those exact cases, and all the other ones. I had so many times I could do it, like the stag night where we were both drunk and he asked me if he was important and my only answer was 'to some people'. Some people being me, mostly.
I think about the words unwritten on this blog, turning love into admiration and fondness of a friendship of one of a kind.
I can almost feel the ring around my finger tightening. How did I come to this, I had many months to go back, to still tell Sherlock, yet I didn't and here I am.
It's not that I don't like Mary, far from it, she's a wonderful person and very important to me but… She's not Sherlock, will never be. I'll never love her like I love Sherlock, I'll never look at her the way I look at him. Ever. I know my breath would never hitch when our eyes meet, my knees won't go weak when I see her come into a room or drinking the tea I made her.
While I was dozing off about my dramatically broken heart, occasionally smiling and laughing to act like I was still with them, but somewhere along his speech Sherlock suddenly lost his shit, let the glass of champagne fall and I recognized that look of trance in his eyes. It was not a good sign, at all. I tried to hold back my worry and smile to not make things even more awkward than they already were.
Then he had to jump over the table and go full-on Sherlock mode, making everyone freak out.
"Let's talk about…murder."
I sighed and shook my head, what was he doing now. Like I hadn't had enough trouble because of him already.
Then he went on, babbling or speaking too quickly for people to keep up with him, sometimes saying something stupid 'about' me, to try to not get too much off-piste from his initial speech. While I, can only sigh, groan and shiver, because seeing Sherlock in trance is just so beautiful, like a magnificent unreachable kind of beautiful. But right now, it's just embarrassing to the core.
Even Mary picked on the problem, now letting go of my hand, realizing that my hands were sweaty.
But it was just worrying when Sherlock slapped himself, not making the difference between his mind palace and reality any more.
"Not you! Not you!"
I was ready to jump up and go to him before he calmed down on his own. Turning to me and pointing at me, shivers running down my spine as strongly as when he deduces me. Worst is that he does so, so often.
I straighten up and looked straight in his eyes, trying to ignore what I was feeling, for the better as now it was going to be something serious.
"It’s always you. John Watson, you keep me right."
My heart hurts from his words, the always and you ringing in my ears, as we discussed what I should do. Then for a few moments it only went more and more downhill by the seconds (learning on the way how Sherlock would kill me, thank fuck for that). Someone tried to kill someone I deeply cared about, Sherlock managed to solve the case (not without being a drama queen), and showed he actually liked Mary but was also jealous of Major Sholto but still saved him because he knew I cared about him. Or was it just my mind playing tricks? Yeah must be, today was high on emotions, I didn't know what I was thinking any more.
We all left Major Sholto to rest after I took care of him, while Mary was taking care of the guests and Sherlock called an ambulance while making his report to Lestrade. For my part I quietly closed the door behind me, trying not to get blood everywhere on my way to the toilets. I sighed as I washed my hands of the blood of the man I admire, saved by the man I love. I looked up at myself and splashed some water on my face, I looked alright this morning but now I just looked awful. I chuckled to myself, I'm so ridiculous. I just got married, I should be happy and partying with my wife. But here I am getting sad over a man I never even had.
I dried my hands and stared at the sink for a bit, letting the gravity of my mistake sink in, it was supposed to be the best day of my life (I can almost see Sherlock roll his eyes at this), but right now it felt like the biggest of mistake. But was I really to blame? He killed himself in front of my very eyes, played dead for two years while I was depressed at 221B, crying myself to sleep every night until I met Mary… I had to move on, to me he wasn't coming back, so it never felt like a mistake until now. I've been so relieved when I met Mary…
I sigh and hit the wall with my feet with all the force I could muster from my shaking legs. I needed to let out the anger, the frustration, the desperation, everything. Because everything felt wrong and there was nothing I could do about it. I hit the wall a few more times with my fist, feeling like I might have broken a phalanges or two but who cares. I didn't care any more, because nothing could hurt as much as the deep sorrow I put my own heart in.
"Fuck this! Fuck all of this! Why is this happening?! Why is everything always my fault?!"
I let my back fall to the wall as I let the tears stream down my face. Then those few tears turned into sobs as I slide down the wall to sit on the floor, my limbs shaking from the intensity of my sobs. The only thing I could think about was Sherlock and I could only let my heart ache in silence as there was nothing I could do about it but cry. I whispered Sherlock's name to myself, over and over again, until it made no sense and I had to struggle for air.
It didn't hurt as much as when I thought he was dead. It was way worse. Because I put myself into this, I could've done something about it other than marry Mary. Where is she by the way? Oh damn her, I don't want anybody seeing me like this, it's awful enough as it is.
I must've been in there a while because I heard the door open. I stumbled to my feet, drying my tears on my hand not to ruin my shirt, I was lucky enough it was't blood soaked so I better not ruin it now. Even if a shirt was poor importance, compared to my loss of Sherlock. I chuckled at this, could I even call it loss this time?
Oh of course, it had to be him. Of fucking course. I looked up and faked a smile but he stopped in his track to look me up and down, deducing me. I felt this familiar shiver run down my spine and coughed to get his attention back and change the subject. I know he found out already. He probably had the second he walked that door.
"Don't deduce people while they're crying Sherlock, it's rude."
I offered him a small smile that trailed off as fast as it appeared on my face. Sherlock only opened his mouth to close it, not knowing what to say to this. His brows furrowed and a frown made it's way on his face. I know he had no idea what to do in these situation, and he always counted on me to calm him down so it probably confused him more. He took a step toward me and I instantly stiffened, trying to get away but only pressing myself more against the wall. I wish I could disappear right now, not have his icy stare over me as I am just a mess of tears and misery.
"What are you- Why are you…What's wrong?"
I smiled and straightened up, trying to compose myself and stepped away from the wall over to the mirror. Oh god, I look worse than I thought. Sherlock walked up behind me, I smiled at him through the mirror and took a deep breath that came out a bit more shaky than I intended.
"Nothing's wrong, I'm fine Sherlock. Thanks for asking though."
I splashed water on my face, I needed to stop crying and get my shit together. It was my wedding day, I must be okay. If Sherlock asks, or anybody for that matter, it was the nerves. Yup, I'm sure there was some of that too. Not the torture of being in love with my best friend.
"Is it because of what happened to Major Sholto? You know you managed to save him and he's alright, getting handled by the-"
My head shot up to look at him, what was he on about?
"What? No! Sherlock it's not because of Major Sholto, what are you talking about now?"
Sherlock sighed and shrugged, staring at me, but not deducing me. It was pretty unusual for Sherlock to listen to me, but it was pretty unusual for Sherlock to walk in on people having a break down. It was unusual for me to have a break down.
"How can I…help?"
I looked at him through the mirror, I sighed and shook my head, giving him a miserable smile - he knew as well as me - was fake. Sherlock nod and bit his lip, he took a hesitant step towards me, laying a hand on the small of my back and I was at it again. Tears came up once again, never falling from eyes, always present and I could only clench to the sink, feeling it was my last touch with reality.
When I opened my eyes not realizing I had closed them, Sherlock was very lightly stroking my knuckles, that had turned white, with the back of his finger. I felt my throat tighten and I was glued on the spot, unable to move less than a finger, too scared of breaking the moment, a moment of proximity with Sherlock I've never been granted before.
But too soon Sherlock's fingers were gone, leaving the ghost of a feeling laying over my fingers. Sherlock was contemplating me, contemplating options, deducing. He never stropped doing it to simply take things just as they were. It had to be deep and complicated. Clever.
"Should I get Mary? Because now is obviously awkward and I don't seem to be able to know how to help nor what put you off. And you obviously had been crying for a while so maybe it's the nerves coming down with those emotions you seem to all suffer from, but if that's the case maybe Mary isn't the pers-"
"STOP BLOODY DEDUCING ME AND LOOK AT THE OBVIOUS SHERLOCK!"
I snapped at him, my eyes burning into Sherlock's own, shivers running down my whole body and my knees feeling wobbly. My grip on the sink slacked, I sighed, running my hands over my face like I tend to do a lot and laid against the sink. I cleared my throat and looked up at Sherlock. He wasn't moving again. Like when I asked him to be my best man.
Sherlock didn't show many emotions, but realization was one I knew all to well to not recognize on this face. I immediately regretted ever yelling, saying those things, being here in the first place. If before I wanted to crawl into a hole and die, now was worse. Way worse. Because he knew, Sherlock knew and now he had even deduced it from my attitude and through memories so I couldn't take it back. I shook my head, but kept my eyes to the floor, I couldn't face him. I heard him take a breath to speak but I already knew what he'll say, and I don't wanted to hear it.
"No. No, Sherlock I know you know. No no no no no. Don't you bloody say it."
I closed my eyes and kept shaking my head. He wasn't good with people but he was good with me. He must know now would be the perfect time to leave me alone, he did for two bloody years.
"That explains a lot…"
I chuckled bitterly and crossed my arms defensively, now there couldn't be more obvious signs. He knows he has to leave.
"SHUT UP. Keep. Your god damn mouth. Shut."
In a matter of seconds I was perked up on the sink, Sherlock between my legs, holding my hands to the edge of it. His face merely centimeters away from mine, I could feel his breath caress my cheek from where he stood. And if it wasn't for his body holding me up against the edge of the sink, I would have fallen.
"John I would suggest you calm down as everything is being fairly unpleasant already, your tantrum isn't helping."
I looked at Sherlock in disbelief, surely he wasn't getting the gravity of the situation. And he'll surely never understand years of frustration, years of longing, bottling up your feelings, waiting for a ghost and oh so desperately trying to ignore the fact that you've never loved someone that much before.
"Calm down…? DON'T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN. YOU'VE NEVER-"
He got closer to me, almost making me stop talking. My hands were sweaty as my legs shakily got closer to his body, in a restrained attempt at wrapping them around his body and bring him, just a tad closer.
"You won't- You- You uh…"
My sentence trailed off as his lips brushed over my cheek to hover over mine, ever so lightly, barely leaving air linger between us. My legs finally wrapped around his hips, as one of my hands went to grab his and the other sunk into this mess of curls to tighten in a desperate need to bring him closer. But he didn't comply.
We stayed like that for what felt like forever, glaring at each other's lips, drowning in the other's eyes and back to lips. Letting this aching need eat us alive, burning my heart and strangling me, the remedy just a millimeter away, staring at the other's lips like addicts in needs of a fix.
His eyes so cold, yet so deep and so breathtakingly beautiful, every time I only glared at them for a bit, I found myself unable to look away. Only forget the world around me and lose track of time and selfness. The light-headed feeling always stronger and stronger. The hand that wasn't in his hair went to the lapel of his suit, my grip so tight so he couldn't get away. His breath tasted of champagne and smoke, and something else that could only be Sherlock that longed to taste...
I've tasted agony but this was soul torturing, the most beautiful form of aching. The one you hate but love at the same time.
"I'm truly sorry John."
Sherlock's apology sounding more like a goodbye, his voice hoarse and low, but he didn't move an inch, made no move get away. He stayed, breathing the air coming out of my lips, lingering, longing, killing us both. My hand tighten in his hair and tried to close that last bit of torture between us. But he resisted, standing his ground.
My voice had abandoned me the moment he had me up against that sink, so I found myself whimpering. I was literally pleading him to close this aching distance between us.
"I'm sorry John but we can't. I… You're married. To Mary. You love Mary. You chose her, John. You've moved on and got married. Even I know the meaning of that."
His voice was so deep and uncharacteristically soft, words rolling on his tongue quickly. His words. God I hated them. I knew it all to well, I just wanted to ignore it for now and finally take what was meant to be mine. I shook my head, he was wrong. For once in his life Sherlock Holmes was wrong. A sob shook my body as I brought Sherlock closer to me, tugging on his dark curls.
"No. No I didn't choose her, I hadn't moved on. Please Sherlock. Please."
My voice was hoarse and broken, but all of me was. I closed my eyes and tried to get him as close as I could, to bring him to me so he could never leave again. Not when I was so close and he wasn't pushing me away. A weak sob left my body once again and I was suddenly very aware of how shaky all my limbs were. But I couldn't care less as I kept whispering my plea to him, right on his lips.
I could feel myself drowning more, second by second. It was getting worse and my heart was sinking lower than it ever did.
Sherlock finally moved to hug me, his nose resting in the crook of my neck. I held back yet another sob and held him as tightly as my body allowed me, putting all I had in one embrace. Sherlock turned his head and took a deep breath, his hold firm on my waist.
"I'm so sorry John, but you know I do too. You must know I do. But I can't get involved."
His words were escaping his lips in a breath so soft on my cheek, dooming us both in such a nice way. I've never heard such sincerity coming from him. My arms around him clenched to his body tighter, like he was the only thing keeping me alive. Silently pleading him to stay, like my will power could do anything about the situation. If he stayed, it would mean it was true. Please stay so I know you do. For once Sherlock, stay, don't leave me behind, just stay so I know. I need to know it's true.
Sherlock moved away and as tears silently streamed down my face I was unable to move. I couldn't hold as tight as I wanted to, and not an ounce of will power could make him stay and release us both from the torture. He looked at me straight in the eyes, as to weight his words. I held his gaze and slipped down from the sink. Sherlock looked down, turned away, and left without sparing even a second glance at me.
And I could only watch him leave. I couldn't scream for him any more. I couldn't plead. I had done everything I could. And he loved me back, apparently. But he had left me all but empty. It broke my heart even more, even though I knew it was impossible for it to handle more breaking. I have been holding on so tight, yet he slipped away again. I hated this wedding brand tying me down in more ways than I cared to think.
I went back to my wife, to the fussing guests, some were all over Sherlock, the rest over me. Then came the dance. Memories of Sherlock teaching me came back and left a bitter taste on my tongue when Sherlock started playing. Mimicking what he taught me, I swayed with Mary in my arms. She seemed so happy, which reminded me that I did love her, not in the way I wanted, not in the way I should, but I loved her anyway and it was good enough.
Good enough for me to forget for a second that the love of my life was playing for me and the woman I just married. I know it shouldn't feel like a betrayal, but it did, so I avoided his eyes while we danced.
He didn't spoke to me after I came out of the toilets, but I could feel his stare. He was always following me, I could feel it on my back at every heartbeat and even now at every step as I danced with Mary. He composed this for me, for the day I killed our happiness and yet he was still playing. I loved listening to him play, the way his fingers played on the instrument with such ease was so hypnotizing. The dance came to an end and I dipped Mary, a soft laugh escaping my lips as I kissed her. But all my thoughts were to Sherlock, watching this and not saying a word. I looked at Mary as we straightened up and the way she looked at me was enough to convince me it wouldn't be all that bad and that I'll be happy anyway. I could've done a worse mistake.
Or could I?
After Sherlock had deduced Mary was pregnant, after both of us freaked out, Sherlock saved the day, and I couldn't help but smile. I was going to be a father and Sherlock was smiling and Mary was tearing up and smiling.
But as Sherlock isn't one for much sentiments, he quickly pull us all out of our aw.
"Go dance, both of you."
I looked up at him and as his eyes met mine, for the first time in my life I could read regret in his eyes. I never even knew he could express it and it wasn't a look for him. I liked it better when he smirked that cocky grin of his, or when he would be entranced and deducing. I liked it better when he had that look that was so Sherlock, not now that he was looking at me with a stare that left me empty and disarmed under its sincerity.
"But what about you?"
Mary, always so kind and thoughtful, but she truly had no idea, and while hugging him earlier had felt great, now was out of the question. She won't put our marriage in trouble. She won't put me in trouble. Not now that we both had to pretend.
"We can't all three dance, there are limits."
Sherlock agreed with me. Agreed almost too quickly.
It was my wedding day, my wife was pregnant and everything was a mess but a good mess if I managed to kick some sense in my brain. But the feeling of my lungs burning to get some air back made it hard.
The feeling of light content that had filled me for a split second disappeared when Sherlock opened the door, nod at me and left, his coat floating behind him the way it always did when he did a dramatic exit. I smiled a bit at the familiarity, some things apparently weren't meant to change.
I would've scream, kick and cried after him, I felt my teeth sink into my lower lip as I turned back to Mary with a tight smile, but my eyes never left that door. He had left, he didn't stay. I turned to Mary fully and gave her a weak smile that I hoped looked loving. Mary smiled back, the smile of the happiest person on earth as she slightly danced to the music. I sighed and refrained myself from looking back at the door, from looking back at him.
That was how it was always going to be now, my heart always as heavy as the ring on my finger.