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and it drags you down

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i'm carved from the chaos and stained by its reprise
and i've introduced myself for centuries


There is a grief process that everyone must go through. Kübler-Ross and Kessler say that there are five very specific steps one must overcome in order to move on. There is some sincerity to that statement, but not everyone hits all five in the same order. People are funny creatures: they skip steps, mix up the order, and, hell, some people omit steps all together.


3. Denial
Only a few days after the Very-Normal-Nothing-Weird-Happened-Thank-You day, when John finally deigns to speak with you, you notice a marked change in him. He’s bright eyed. He’s no longer in that post The Incident haze. You’d almost say there’s pep in his step.

And then he opens his mouth.

Over breakfast, he lays out a plan that you can clearly see is grasping at straws because you know grasping at straws when you see it (and you see it plenty at those meetings you go to sometimes). You’re slack-jawed and completely non-believing. This is your rational, level headed, science-minded little brother. And he’s suggested the impossible.

Because there’s no bloody way in fucking hell that Sherlock bloody Holmes is still alive.

He must have seen the concern on your face, because he immediately stops talking. “Sorry,” he mutters, taking his dishes to the sink (always tidy, your little brother), “must sound like a right nutter.”

And he turns with a smile that reaches nowhere near his eyes and excuses himself to get ready for work.

After he’s left (with a cautionary “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”; he tried to sound like he was kidding, and he failed) you start to think, and try to reason out your brother’s inane exclamation. You try and you try and you try.

But you can’t.

You just can’t see it. That’s when you remember that your little brother had always had more of an imagination than you and maybe that’s why.

When John comes home that night, you put your book down, pat the seat next to you, and ask your little brother all about his theory.


2. Anger
John, like your father and grandfather before, has always been quick to anger, and as such, he has had to learn early on different ways of coping with his anger (because god forbid a four year old throws a tantrum). When John finds out that you allowed your one drink to turn into half the bottle, he employs his first coping strategy: he pauses mid-sentence and counts to five.

And when counting to five doesn’t work, because he could still smell it on you I thought you were actually trying this time, he takes himself away from the situation.

But against your better judgment, you follow. And you try to reason out your decision and you do it out loud so that your beautiful little brother will stop being concerned about you and start being concerned about himself; you know you are lost, but John, beautiful, sweet, kind, healing John, still has a chance to find the light as long as he remembers how beautiful he is.

But he yells. He’s yelling at you. And that is step three.

You know that you should diffuse the tense situation and just walk away now.

But you don’t. You take two steps forward and John punches a dent in your wall.

You go to your room at that. But there is nothing hidden in your room, so you’re left to ruminate alone.

John doesn’t make it to his bedroom that night.


1. Bargaining
You hear your brother walk in from the ride he took with his landlady. Though he’s been staying with you since The Incident (you’ll always think of that day in Capital Letters), Mrs. Hudson will always be his landlady.

You know exactly where they were and what your brother was doing because you heard him in the guest room last night, resoundingly not crying and praying to a god he’d forgotten in Afghanistan, “Please don’t be dead.”

He nods at you as he walks to the kitchen, probably to make tea (you’re drowning in tea; you’re partly convinced it’s his way of keeping you from drinking anything else), and you can tell he’d been crying because his face still gets puffy after a good cry. Exactly like when he was a kid.

He brings you a cup made just the way you like and proceeds with the small talk. You two never really talk any more (haven’t for years, in fact), and it’s not likely to start again any time soon.

But still. You keep up your end of the conversation, acting like you have no idea where he’s been, but because he’s your brother you know full well that he knows that you know.

After an appropriate amount of time, he excuses himself to bed early, just as he has every night since The Incident, with the excuse that it was a long day at the surgery because he’ll believe you’ll forget.

But you don’t.

He wasn’t at the surgery today.

He trudges down the hall, each step a defeated thunk, and only once you hear the water run in the toilet do you allow the tears to fall.

Because he’s your little brother, and even though it’s only fourteen months between you, he’s still your little brother. And you promised god a long time ago (a god you haven’t believed in since you were kicked out of the house for being queer) to never let your brother hurt.

And (as though a promise to a non-existent god made thirty years ago still mattered) now you’ve failed that promise.

And you don’t think he’d mind, under the circumstances, if you allowed yourself one drink.


5. Depression
John leaves sometime during the night.

And you know exactly what he’s going to do because he’s done it once before way back when he first came back from the war. He’s going to sit alone in his flat and not cry and maybe go to that doctor of his.

And if he’s lucky or his willpower’s greater or if he’s just nothing like you he’ll avoid the trap you and your mother and your grandfather have all fallen in to.

Maybe he’ll make it out whole.

So you pat your hair into something resembling respectable and lock your door and silently wish him luck as you head out to quietly replenish your supplies.


4. Acceptance
He lays it all out, and as he gets to the end, he slows.

“Sherlock’s really dead, isn’t he?”

You lick your lower lip (a decidedly Watsonian trait) and look away (you can’t look at his face right now) and try not to agree.

He nods once and rises, kissing your cheek and heading to bed.

You give it seventy-three minutes.

Seventy-three minutes until you’re moving the brick in the wall behind the bookcase for get your emergency stash of nail polish vodka.

Seventy-three minutes until you’re in your bedroom not crying alongside your brother, who is still not crying in the guest room.

Ninety-one minutes until you’ve drank the entire bottle, because, you reason, if you got alcohol poisoning, it would give your rational, level headed, science-minded doctor of a little brother something else to focus on.

(One hundred minutes until you vomit the bottle back up in the toilet as your body rejects it all (stupid self preservation) and you realize you can’t even do this for him.)


There is a grief process that everyone must go through. Kübler-Ross and Kessler say that there are five very specific steps one must overcome in order to move on. There is some sincerity to that statement, but not everyone hits all five in the same order. People are funny creatures: they skip steps, mix up the order, and, hell, some people omit steps all together.

And some people never actually make it to the last step.


you're broken and battered, you've tried with all amain
weaned by distraction, your story stays the same