This would be major heartfail!
It had been two years, nine months, four days, seven hours and thirty-three minutes since Sherlock Holmes had jumped off the roof of St. Bartholomew’s hospital to his supposed death.
Today had been like any other day. Sherlock burst into the flat, hair wet, jacket sopping, a faint fleck of some unknown substance on his face. John looked up at him and sighed, “Christ, Sherlock.”
“John, I am so sorry. I—“
“Sherlock, it doesn’t matter. It’s fine.” His friend’s voice was level, as though it had been only a day since they’d last seen each other, that he’d never jumped off that roof, that he’d never hidden himself away and forced his friend to endure unbearable amounts of pain.
Sherlock didn’t know what to say. He expected something, anything. Yelling, screaming, crying, punching, he wouldn’t even have put it past John Watson to throw the pocket knife lodged in the side table at him. He guided himself to the couch and sat down, the entire flat seeming as though it were made of eggshells, as though one wrong word, one wrong breath and the entire house of cards would come down around their ears.
He waited for him to say something, thinking that perhaps John had gone into shock and didn’t know how to react. Sherlock stared at him, two-day old shirt, cold tea, book he’d already read twice—no, three times—judging by the dog ears on the pages. He hadn’t slept well, the bags under his eyes looked worse than when he’d been kept up because of the blind banker.
“Sherlock,” John said, not looking up from his book, “you’ll mould the carpet and Mrs. Hudson will put it on our rent.”
He hadn’t even noticed the rain puddling around his feet, a dark ring etching itself against the fabric of the carpet. Of course. The jacket was placed on the coat rack, along with his scarf, and he went to make himself a cup of tea. Something about this situation was bothering him. He kept looking at the various things in the flat, doing his best to find something, anything that could tell him why John wasn’t reacting like he knew John Watson would have reacted.
But there was nothing. Nothing but a string of unanswered question marks that led right to his only friend.
“DAMN!” The shatter and loud outburst actually made Sherlock startle—something that hadn’t happened in longer than he could accurately remember. When he looked, he saw John cleaning up a beaker that he’d knocked over.
He hesitated. John was perfectly capable of cleaning up after himself, and something told him to stay away. “Are you alright in there?” he offered, much more quietly than his normal inquisitions.
“Yeah, fine, I just…damn burner. I wish you’d not leave them so near the edge of the table like that, Sherlock!” The sound of the rubbish bin opening , the glass tinkling in, and then silence. When Sherlock looked up from his work, he saw John standing, facing the sink stock still. His head was hung low and his shoulders were sagging. Sherlock felt a tugging in the center of his chest, and he couldn’t understand why. Again, he looked at the signs, observed everything, but all that lay on those slumped shoulders of his friend was another line of question marks.
This happened every once in a while. Something would break, John would drop something, or he would suddenly go quiet and stand in the kitchen as though a man possessed. Sherlock never assisted him, not unless he saw John in any immediate danger. And when he did, he made sure not to touch him.
Once, he had touched John as he helped clean a shattered teacup and spilt Ceylon tea. John had frozen solid for the faintest of moments, a dark colour flashed through his eyes. But he didn’t look at Sherlock. He took what Sherlock saw as calming breaths and continued cleaning it up.
Sherlock didn’t dare touch him again.
A particularly quiet day nearly a month after his return, Sherlock had been watching John write on his computer for the past two hours. “John…is everything…are you alright?”
“Yes…” John only locked eyes with his friend for a hair of a second before burying his nose back in the computer, “Yes, I’m…I’m fine.”
When John was at work one day, Sherlock had phoned Lestrade. He was going absolutely mental without anything to do. He’d gone far past bored, and he wasn’t about to let his mind go fallow.
One afternoon, a few days later, Lestrade came up to the flat. John made himself tea and offered some to the DI, who politely refused.
“I won’t be here long enough for tea,” he said, brushing past John and coming to stand in front of Sherlock, “I know you’ve been home long enough, but we’ve got a suicide that couldn’t possibly be a suicide. Large metal doors bolted from the inside and a man who couldn’t even open his hands to holda gun, let alone shoot it. Will you come?”
Sherlock looked from the Detective Inspector to John, and that tugging at his chest happened again.
John was paralyzed. The tea was slowly dribbling to the ground as his arms went to his sides of their own accord. His jaw was hanging slack.
Carefully, Sherlock stood and came towards him, “John, John are you alright?”
He didn’t answer him. “L-Lestrade…You can see him, too?” he whispered.
“Bloody hell….” Lestrade covered his mouth and scrubbed at his cheek with his hand as the situation sunk in around the two of them.
It …it couldn’t be. Why hadn’t he noticed? The question marks disappeared as Sherlock chanced a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder, “Oh, John….”