18 August 2012 @ 02:12 am
Fic: I Know This Room, I've Walked This Floor  
Welp. I haven't written in this journal for months, and when I do it's to post fic? Oh well. Could be worse.

This is the very first ficlet I've written in Sherlock fandom-- I don't usually wait so long before charging through, but I love these characters so much, I almost have a reverential fear of trying to capture them in words. I hope I didn't fail completely.

Rating: PG
Summary: John goes back to 221B to try and start dealing with the mess Sherlock left behind. Things don't go so well.
A/N: Beta'd and britpicked by the lovely Alice. All remaining mistakes are mine.
Wordcount: 1312

It’s twenty days and four hours after.

(It never occurs to him to think after what. He refers to It by adverb or pronoun only, waving off the rare questions, because it seems perfectly ridiculous to him – appalling – that someone, anyone in London could not know about It. The whole world should have quaked, he’s sure of that.)

Twenty days and four hours after, John Watson limps into 221B Baker Street, his bad leg dragging behind him like a haunting memory (the haunting memory), slowing him down as he leans on the crutch. He stops at the landing to catch his breath-- and to find the courage to open the door. His palm stings; he looks at it, the skin red from holding his crutch, a blister forming at the junction between thumb and finger.

(It's such an insulting little wound to have. Before, he never used to get blisters from something so ordinary as holding a crutch. Knife wounds and sore muscles and contusions, those were more up his alley-- their alley. Back when John wasn't useless, when he still had a fight to fight and a purpose to live for, when He was still-)

John reaches forward and pushes the door handle down with the same ferocity he would show an enemy. The weight and shape of the cold brass feel familiar in his hand – too familiar, maybe, it’s too soon after It, he knows – will always be too soon, perhaps.
He’s inside. The flat is exactly as he remembered it. The flat is not at all as he remembered it--  not in the least.

He looks around and tries to make sense of the piles of books and case files, the MacBook on the table, the skull on the mantelpiece. Someone used to live here, but John isn’t that man, not anymore. Hasn’t been since It happened.

John Watson ran a blog about the world’s only consulting detective. John Watson made tea and toast and tried to force his belligerent flatmate to eat. John Watson ran across rooftops behind a billowing black coat and laughed himself breathless under the London night sky.

He doesn’t know how to be John Watson anymore.

He swallows, looks around. He's supposed to sort through this mess. Get rid of the science equipment, donate it to Bart’s maybe—God, no. He can’t go back there. No. He should try and do something, however. Anything at all but stand here, smack in the middle of the living room, almost afraid to touch anything, as if he’s a stranger intruding on a crime scene.


A crime scene.

He'd know how to deal with this. Always knew what to do at a crime scene, Sh-)
His eyes burn, but no tears threaten to fall. They’re burning from being too dry; like lying in a trench under the Afghanistan sun.


John hardly ever cries about the important things anymore.

He cries at the most bloody stupid things, however. The night before last So You Think You Can Dance was on the telly, and before he even knew what happened he was curled up on the carpet of Harry’s living room, bawling like a baby. They'd never even watched that bloody show together.

(They never will, now, and maybe that’s why he cried.)

He stands for a moment longer, utterly still, and suddenly the thought of going into the kitchen – that fucking mess of a kitchen – and not seeing a head of dark hair bent over a microscope while human vertebrae sit next to an empty take-away carton seems unbearable, like a tonne of lead squeezing the air out of his lungs and crushing his bones.

John spins on his heel and limps back out, careful to close the door, as if attempting to leave this sanctuary undisturbed. He can’t do this, but that’s okay; he’s not surprised. He’d known it was a long shot before even trying. Twenty days and four hours is too soon. He pretends maybe a month won’t be, and starts his painstakingly slow descent.
(When he comes back ten days later, he doesn’t even make it to the door.)

The air seems both emptier and grayer outside 221B. He looks around for a cab. There are none in sight.

(Why were there always cabs when He needed one?)
He could wait, but he has the distinct feeling he might do something ridiculous; go back inside and start throwing everything to the ground, smashing windows and throwing dishes at the wall;  lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling until he falls asleep and hope never to wake up again; set fire to the curtains and books and bloody Bunsen burners, because if nobody’s going to use them – wrongif He’s not going to use them anymore, what’s the fucking point of the fucking stupid things, and—

Shutting his eyes against the starburst of anger pressing against his lids, he breathes in once, twice. Limps towards the tube station. It’s okay that he can’t do this. It’s okay. Only twenty days, four hours, maybe a bunch of minutes (He’d know exactly how many).

(But He’s gone, gone, gone.)

John steadies his shoulders. He has more pressing concerns to attend to. Like moving out of Harry’s place before she drives him completely bonkers, either by fretting over him or drinking like a fish. John has enough trouble dealing with the sudden disappearance of his own private addiction-

(Adrenaline, steaming tea, chasing criminals, Chinese food, deductions, fits of giggling, Him)

-to deal with Harry’s on-again-off-again one. Should have moved out ages ago, to be honest, but something’s held him back. He doesn’t know why he’s afraid of looking for a place to live. It’s not as if he’s not used to living on his own. He’d lived alone since he was nineteen up until… well, eighteen months ago. Eighteen months, twenty days, and four hours.
He refuses to consider this, but there’s the possibility he might be unable to go back to that.


(Not unable; unwilling. Be precise, John.)

Maybe he’s just afraid of what he’ll do when he’s alone.

Captain John H. Watson, MD. Except he’ll never be in the army saving lives again; he’ll never save lives on a hospital table either, his surgeon’s hand unsteady, unreliable (except for when it mattered, when the seconds were few and the danger was near, nerves steeling against the overpowering rush, one minute away from death and feeling so alive, and all the time He’d been there, always, always).

He said goodbye to John the Doctor and John the Soldier when he came back from Afghanistan; losing John the Blogger might just be what finally does him in, makes him unlock his gun drawer. Thirty five, and so washed up. Thirty-five, and already finished. He had his swansong, he supposes. Eighteen months of it, when he was a companion to the most impossible, infuriating, brilliant, exhilarating man on earth; when there was always somebody to come home to; when home was 221B Baker Street.

He knows, even as he holds on to the thought, that there’s one fatal inaccuracy in it.

And that’s why he can’t be in the flat, why he can’t go back, no matter how much Mrs Hudson cajoles or pleads, or how many months of rent Mycroft pays in advance. He can’t go home to 221B without that one, single, larger-than-life element in it.

Sherlock Holmes was deductions and energy and mercurial tempers, late-night takeaway and mornings with the sun slanting through half-drawn blinds, defying everything and everyone, a truly magnificent brain shielding an ignored, ridiculed but ultimately huge heart, and most of all, Sherlock was home.

Allowing the name to finally form fully in his mind makes his old war wound ache. It takes him three tube stops before he realises that the bullet had torn through his shoulder, not his heart.

Current Mood: accomplished
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Ambra: Sherlock - Oh Mai[personal profile] starsandgutters on November 18th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
This is actually a test reply.
(Reply) (Link)
[identity profile] excentric397.livejournal.com on November 19th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful, and heart-breaking. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.
[identity profile] starsandgutters.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 09:08 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks! Always nice to make people cry in a...umm... non-evil way... I guess?

Thank you for reading!
cordelia_v: Sherlock in side profile[personal profile] cordelia_v on November 19th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is polished, and the writing flows like silk. It's powerful, and the last line is note-perfect.

Thank you for this. And how nice to see a good new writer in this fandom!
[identity profile] starsandgutters.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 09:32 am (UTC)
Oh gosh. Thank you so much!

(I was originally going to keysmash excitedly tumblr-style, but I didn't want to disprove the "polished" comment so soon.)

No, but your comment makes me very, very happy. "Powerful" isn't an everyday compliment to receive for a writer.

Thank you for reading and commenting-- and it's lovely to meet such nice people!
[identity profile] twinkelbelpeach.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
Oh John. All the 'might-have'beens'. This was lovely.
[identity profile] starsandgutters.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
Thank you! I imagine Sherlock has a fair few regrets of his own...
(Not that it's gonna stop John from punching him, I'd wager.)
[identity profile] shadowturquoise.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 03:16 am (UTC)
Beautiful and poignant. I look forward to seeing more writing from you!
[identity profile] starsandgutters.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 09:21 am (UTC)
Aw, I'll try not to disappoint. :) Thank you for reading!
[identity profile] tenderly-wicked.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 10:36 am (UTC)
It's wonderfully written. Great feeling for detail. And so very emotional. Just brilliant.
[identity profile] starsandgutters.livejournal.com on November 20th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I try. Glad you liked it!
[identity profile] arianedevere.livejournal.com on November 21st, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
He doesn’t know how to be John Watson anymore.

No, that's OK. I didn't need my heart anyway ...

This is a beautiful - if painful - story. John's anguish is palpable and totally understandable.

Well done on writing such a beautiful piece of work.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a bloody good cry ...
[identity profile] starsandgutters.livejournal.com on November 21st, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
That's my basic reactions to most Reichenfeels, yes. Or Johnlock feels in general. It's rather nice to be on the inspiring end of it, though. ;)

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I'm really glad you thought it was beautiful.

(I h-hope I didn't actually make you cry? *offers tissue*)