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Fic for Rampaging_Panda: Singularity

Title: Singularity
Recipient:rampaging_panda
Author: ykyapril
Characters/Pairings: John-centric, maybe a squint of Johnlock
Rating: PG-13 for some coarse language
Warnings: Suicidal thoughts.
Summary: “For all that Sherlock is ignorant about the solar system, John often entertains the notion that Sherlock is a black hole, capable of pulling everything around him into a decreasing spiral in his wake: sucking it into a black vacuum of chaos and madness, and rebuilding it all into something brilliant and beautiful, like that magnificent brain of his.” A (long-due) Post-TRF recovery fic.
Notes: Bit clichéd, maybe. I don’t know if you’ll like, rampaging_panda. It was also supposed to be longer, but then I got brain stuck. Sorry in advance!
Also, a big thank you to my beta reader caraj316 for putting up with me!




Singularity


The nightmares never really leave him.

It’s been three months since Sherlock – fell, and John never stops dreaming about that moment. In the beginning he’s simply reliving the memory. The most vivid part, thank god, is not the fall, not Sherlock’s arms flailing as he takes the leap, not the sickening crack as Sherlock’s body crashes to the ground, unable to defy gravity.

It's funny, Sherlock did so many unthinkable things that John would have easily believed that he could have defied gravity.

(But that’s ridiculous; how do you change the current of a river?)

No, the most vivid part is the phone call, he keeps on re-living the same damned phone call, it’s my note, it’s what people do, don’t they, the moment when Sherlock’s voice breaks, when John’s heart breaks, as Sherlock goes on about being a fake – it’s just a magic trick, John; no one could be that clever – as if John will ever believe that lie. And his response is always, always the same: you could. You damn well could, and don’t you dare tell me any different.

But eventually his imagination starts to warp the memory around. Every what-if that plagues John during the day comes back to haunt him at night. What if he had missed Sherlock’s call and gone into Bart’s? What if even having heard the call, he defied Sherlock and went up to the roof? What would he have found? In his dreams he is always a beat too late, rushing forward only to grasp at empty air as Sherlock succumbs to gravity’s grip, looking up at him, his all-too-blue eyes accusing him of depriving the genius his last word.

What had he told Irene Adler again? Ah yes, Sherlock Holmes would outlive God having the last word. Well God’s still around, if the old priest at the nearby church is to be trusted, yet Sherlock’s not. Sherlock’s joined Irene down there, and – John just wishes they’re happy together, wherever and whatever down there is.

Sometimes John dreams that he’s the genius, for once. That he had seen through Sherlock’s ploy, and his cold words, and that John had not said, friends protect people, and instead, tell me what’s wrong. John’s quite certain, when he’s awake, that Sherlock would never have told him, but his dream self seems adamant that Sherlock would’ve let him in, would’ve told him his plans – and then what, Doctor Watson? If Sherlock had told you that he was going to kill himself, would you have followed? It’s a voice not unlike Sherlock’s which sneers at him at this point, whenever he dredges up enough energy to recall his dreams.

His therapist tells him to keep a dream journal, and John listens, for once, too weary to defy her again, and yet whenever he picks up the pen, words fail him, the blank pages mock him, just as the blog initially did (oh, please don’t mention the blog, Ella.) Too many memories, and most of them simply unbearable at present.

If he’s being honest with himself, and he usually is, John doesn’t really mind the dreams. They’re not the worst. Nor is the emptiness that greets him when he wakes up. John’s endured loss before, during his days in the army, seeing his best mates, comrades-in-arms, the occasional lover dying on him. No, the worst, the absolute worst thing, is that John doesn’t want the dreams to stop. He doesn’t know if he should call them nightmares anymore, only knows that he’s clinging rather futilely to the last moments he’s shared with the eccentric genius he’s grown to love and care for. But each time he dreams, he gets his heart broken again and again and again, until he’s not sure whether it can be pieced back together anymore.

And even if John’s no psychiatrist, he knows that’s rather unhealthy. Maybe Ella would have him committed if she knew. Maybe she will write in her notes: no inclination to leave his own world.

And then one night, a change: No. Stop it now. Except John knows he doesn’t want this – whatever this is, to stop. If this is the last thing he can have of his flatmate, he will take it. The memory’s his, the original one, not some warped made-up scenario. The dream is as exact as the memory, Sherlock telling him to stay exactly where you are, don’t move, as John tries to move forward, and he does so, stops. John tells his legs to move, to run up the stairs and catch Sherlock before he falls, but he’s fixated on the spot. He can’t do anything outside the script, and it’s been set, a long time ago. You’re alright, he says, reaching up, trying to get Sherlock to stop.

(How do you stop a star from exploding?)

(You can’t, John. You can’t.)

And that’s where it gets strange, the one moment where John cannot decipher: keep your eyes fixed on me, Sherlock says. Please will you do this for me?

This simple request, John had not understood then, and still does not understand now. Do what? Keep his eyes fixed on Sherlock? Everyone and their grandmothers’ cat knows that whenever Sherlock’s around, he takes up the entirety of John’s attention, and keeps it. No, no, that can’t be it.

When John wakes up, he’s just as disoriented. He runs the words in his head again: Please will you do this for me? He tries deciphering; he’s not Sherlock Holmes, he’s not the genius that can see and make connections in the blink of an eye. But he thinks and thinks, and in the next dream he hears: Please will you hunt down Moriarty for me?

Exacting revenge has never been John’s specialty, but for Sherlock, he will try. That is why he shows up at the Diogenes Club again, finds his way to Mycroft’s room, and sits waiting. Mycroft’s face as he appears at the threshold is stunned, for a split second; then it smoothes back into a mask of feigned nonchalance.

“John.”

He still has not forgiven the man; the man who certainly had a hand in pushing his younger brother to his death. Family is all we have in the end, Mrs. Hudson has said once, though John’s not quite certain if Mycroft shares the same sentiment. But Mycroft is the only man who can help him now, and help him he will, for John is a man on a mission from a dead man, and Mycroft owes this dead man more than ever.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” he continues as he moves towards John across the Persian carpet, the whisper of his shoes loud in the silence of the club.

John looks up at Mycroft challengingly before he says shortly, “I want to hunt down Moriarty.”

There is a heavy pause, then Mycroft settles down into the armchair across John and crosses his legs. “I’m afraid that’s not possible for you, John.” Mycroft still sounds like a smug bastard, oozing confidence and pompous self-righteousness. “This matter is rather delicate, and is better left for the specialists.”

“I was in the army, Mycroft. I think I am qualified enough to kill a person.”

“You were an army doctor. You’re still a doctor, John.”

And you, you were Sherlock’s elder brother. John wants to say, wants to shout and shake the man, so immaculately cool and composed, not at all affected by his brother’s death. Family is all we have in the end, Mycroft. Do you even care?

“If you say so.” John says instead. “I suppose everything I could say to convince you has already crossed your mind.”

“Of course, John.”

And suddenly, John just wants to get out of that place, never see that man again, and he knows his wish will be granted, because what else can the British Government want from a worthless army doctor when he’s invalided and his latest commanding officer is gone?

That evening, John dreams that he is the one standing on the ledge, that he is the one telling Sherlock, please would you do this for me? That John is the one who says goodbye, Sherlock, instead of: goodbye John.

That John is the one who falls.

And he wishes that it had been true, because he’s the one who’s being left behind, and he has no clue how to go on.

---


For all that Sherlock is ignorant about the solar system, John often entertains the notion that Sherlock is a black hole, capable of pulling everything around him into a decreasing spiral in his wake: sucking it into a black vacuum of chaos and madness, and rebuilding it all into something brilliant and beautiful, like that magnificent brain of his.

Now that he’s gone, John feels that Sherlock is more reminiscent of a black hole than ever. If he used to suck everything in by his brilliance, now the void he’s left behind, the emptiness and desolation, seems to suck out every vibrant color and smell and sound that John’s five senses used to be able to detect, once upon a long time ago. It doesn’t matter where he’s living now; be it Baker Street or this cramped bedsit, full of grief and isolation, everything looks and feels the same, empty without the commanding presence of Sherlock Holmes. At least here John will not be plagued by phantoms. At least here John will not have to pretend that everything is all right when it certainly is not all right.

Nothing is.

Harry comes to visit him, three and a half months later.

She looks tired, but sober. In fact, she tells him she’s been sober for three and a half months. John is surprised into speechlessness, as Harry smiles tiredly at him, and murmurs, “Least you don’t have to worry ‘bout me anymore, John. God knows that worrying is plain awful.” John sees pain in her eyes, pain from being sober, pain from endlessly worrying about him, and wonders if that’s what Harry had felt when he’s left for Afghanistan. Eyes suspiciously bright and wet, John ignores her protests and draws her into a tight hug.

Family is all we have in the end, he recalls Mrs. Hudson saying that day, so dignifiedly, and holds on tighter.

“John, let go. I’m going to suffocate soon.”

Reluctantly John does that, before Harry swoops in to ruffle his hair and mess it up like she used to when they were younger. It makes him smile, and she returns it.

The rest of the day passes in a blur, both Watsons deciding to have a spontaneous bonding day. What John remembers most is telling Harry about his dreams, as they stroll about Regent’s Park, telling her about Sherlock’s words, please would you do this for me, and the swapped version of the dream (he does not miss Harry’s wince, though he pretends to). John knows Harry knows exactly what John’s been thinking after that dream, and yet, she does not remark on it, for which small mercy, John is eternally grateful.

The only thing Harry says about the dreams is: “Think back to that last dream, John.” John can still recall how carefully Harry has chosen her words. “If you really had been the one to say that to Sherlock, please would you do this for me, what would you want Sherlock to do?”

“But I’m not Sherlock –”

Harry interrupts him, “No you’re not.” Thank god you’re not, John seems to hear. “But you two were friends, weren’t you? If there is one last thing he would’ve wanted you to do, you would’ve wanted the same for him.”

“And that is to hunt down Moriarty.” John says firmly.

“Would you really have told him to hunt down Moriarty, John?”

And John pauses, thinks again. No, he realizes; Harry is right, she’s always been perceptive, when she’s sober, that is. Before Harry had turned to alcohol, she’d been John’s personal therapist, and he hers. So he asks himself, what would he have wanted Sherlock to do, if he were the one to jump?

Please would you do this for me? Would you continue to live on, for me? Would you continue to be brilliant, for me?

“And there you have it, John.” Harry’s eyes are warm and sharp at the same time, somewhat similar to a pair he’s known well. She would’ve gotten along well with Sherlock, when she’s sober, John thinks, and feels a pang of regret for not introducing them before.

He wants to say to her, why did you have to go drink yourself to almost death, Harry? You could have been brilliant. But he bites his tongue just in time. He doesn’t want to ruin this, this special moment they have right now. Because this may not last long. Because Watsons are known to destroy everything they have with their bare hands.

And he doesn’t want to judge her, like he doesn’t want to judge Sherlock, and maybe, maybe because he may just be able to understand a tiny bit of Harry’s reasons.

---


One evening, John has had enough of the silence. He decides to turn on the telly, since he has nothing else to do in the dingy bedsit of his. There is nothing he wants to look up on the internet, and there is nothing (again) that he wants to write up in his blog. It’s on hiatus. The permanent kind. Somehow John doubts that anyone except those goddamned reporters will want to read anything about his utterly uninteresting life. Come to think of it, John isn’t sure if even the reporters would want to read bulleted lists about his day. Although that is not quite a disheartening thought, as that means they’ve lost interest in him and Sherlock.

There is a show about colliding galaxies on the telly this evening. John settles down more comfortably to watch it, idly musing that if Sherlock was still around, he would’ve forced the great idiot to watch it, because Sherlock’s knowledge on the universe was seriously lacking. Then he has to stop thinking for a moment and try to force away the now-familiar sense of loss that comes with reminiscing about Sherlock.

“At the centre of most galaxies exist supermassive black holes. A black hole is a region of space and time where the gravitational field is so strong that nothing which enters it can escape, not even light.”

John frowns at the remembrance of his use of the black hole metaphor on Sherlock. He can’t believe how accurate he has been. Even now his thoughts circle back to the man, as if John’s just some goddamn satellite orbiting around him. Maybe he really is. Was. Goddamn the use of tenses in the English language.

Do black holes die, like stars do when they explode into space, swallowing up all that surrounds them; anything unlucky enough to be in the path of destruction?

It’s getting a bit too philosophical for John, so he turns the telly off again. Wonders a bit more about black holes and spacetime. Wonders if he’s the satellite that’s got pulled into the all-consuming black hole that is (was) Sherlock, and now he’s just spinning out of control and crashing into walls of spacetime, breaking into pieces.

Then John shrugs, turns off the light and goes to bed. He dreams of black nights littered with stars and spinning bottomless chasms that end up in nothingness. He doesn’t dream of Sherlock falling.

---


He has always known, deep down, that Ella Thompson is an able therapist, no matter what a certain, and now late consulting detective may have declared once or twice. That is why John went back to see her after the Incident. Ella may think that she couldn’t help John, but if it’s anyone who can get John to open up (with the exception of Sherlock, of course), it’s Ella. John supposes it’s due to the familiarity.

“Ella, I’m leaving.” He says suddenly.

That is a first; well, him speaking first is a first. In all of their sessions so far, it is Ella who speaks first, or else John will simply sit there, quiet and contemplative.

“But where will you go? When you returned, you said you couldn’t live anywhere else except for London.” Yes, John remembers Ella suggesting him find a lovely girl and a nice quiet countryside house, only for John to quirk his lips tightly at her. He’d said, yeah who’d want me though?

Now John’s lips quirk up too, though in a mixture of nostalgia and amusement. “Yeah, I did say that, didn’t I?” There is a moment of silence as John marvels to himself about the incredulity of everything that has happened in so short a time, only a year or so. Then he recalls that Ella is still there and she’s looking at him with a concerned expression, as if John may suddenly burst into tears. He hurriedly continues. “I’ve signed up for Doctors Without Borders. I’ll be leaving before the year is out.”

John thinks his decision to move on will ease his therapist. If anything though, it only makes Ella look more concerned. “John,” she says, leaning forward. Her body language screams worried. “What propelled you to make this decision?”

John is a bit surprised, but he decides to answer honestly. “Nothing in particular. I just wanted a change.” He pauses, “I needed something to do.” The something useful goes unsaid.

“Have you given this serious thought? It’s a year-long commitment...”

“Yes Ella, I know what I’m getting into, thanks.” John interrupts her with a polite smile. He’s tired of people worrying and wondering if he’ll be able to make it without Sherlock. Yes, Sherlock may be the centre of his universe, but John’s not going to sit around being the obedient satellite who gets blown up into smithereens at the end. He’s going to listen to Sherlock; he’s going to live, for god’s sake.

Ella must have seen John’s determination showing on his face, for at last she sighs, smiles and reaches out to shake John’s hand. “Then there is nothing else I will do but to wish you the best of luck, John.”

John smiles, a real smile for once, and takes it with a firm grip. “Thank you, Ella.”

And John spies, when he leaves the consulting room, that Ella has written in her notes, finally healing. He thinks Sherlock would have said that was romantic language and not at all the words a professional therapist would use, and is a bit gratified when he finds himself laughing at the thought.

---


This is something that may surprise the people that know John: John has only been to Sherlock’s grave once.

Well, he really couldn’t bear to visit anymore, after that one time, after having made such a fool of himself (though there wasn’t anyone to witness him, thank god) because honestly, get a grip on yourself, John. Sherlock’s dead, you saw him fall, you saw him die; there’s no reason to ask him to not be dead.

Ironically, he passes the cemetery as he returns to his flat after the debriefing from MSF. He hadn’t hold out any hopes for immediate dispatch when he applied; it was really a bit of a whimsical decision at first. But then MSF phoned him back (John suspected foul play before he reminded himself that Mycroft Holmes has no reason anymore to help him) and offered him a placement to Mali.

Pausing outside the gates, one hand lingering on the iron, John wonders why his feet are being particularly mutinous on this day.

(Satellite, John. It always goes back to its orbit.)

Then his phone rings, breaking his reverie. Caller ID shows it’s Lestrade, with whom John has regular pub meets these days – he doesn’t blame him anymore; he recognises the problem with being between a rock and a hard place and knows Greg was just doing his job. John thinks he may even be able to forgive Sherlock one day, for leaving him behind. For forcing him to leave his orbit.

When that day comes, John will go to visit Sherlock’s grave again. Only until then will he go into the cemetery, John promises himself.

However, for now, as he walks away from the cemetery, it feels like a goodbye. It feels like the goodbye he hasn’t been able to give Sherlock.

---

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
rampaging_panda
Jun. 13th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so lovely and heartbreaking! I like the astronomy metaphor -- Sherlock does seem to bend all the space around him and bring everyone he encounters into his orbit, or at least a little closer for a while. I also like John's dreams and his struggles to find purpose after Sherlock's gone.

*happy dance* This is fantastic! Thank you, Mystery Author!
talimenios79
Jun. 13th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
This was lovely.
venturous1
Jun. 14th, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
beautifully poignant and sensitive, really revealing John's progress through his grief. love your Harry and their sweet connection/
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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