Keywords: Post Reichenbach, angst, illness. (No intentional pairing - I leave that to the reader.)
Rating: T (for now).
John let his finger run across his face as he looked himself in the mirror. Stubbles. Dark rings around his eyes. He looked tired, and so much older than he was. John frowned as his fingers stopped at a particularly long hair. He could hardly call these stubbles anymore. The days were all so alike he had trouble telling them apart. Will this be the day? The same question he asked himself every day.
John placed his tired hand on the shower taps. He stared at the running water for a long minute before he stepped into it. He couldn’t even remember when he last took a shower. He couldn’t remember anything these days. He was a wreck of a man.
He poured the shower gel into his palm. He ended up just staring at it for several seconds before he started massaging it onto his body. The smell and feel of the foaming gel on his body was heavenly good. He carefully started massaging it onto his shoulders, before he worked his way down his chest and arms. Oh, his ribs. He could feel them now. He knew that if he looked in the wall-mirror in his bedroom, he would be able to see them as well. Clearly. That was perhaps partly the reason he’d thrown a sheet over it. He had no desire what so ever, to look himself in the mirror. He knew exactly what it would reveal: A used and tired man. Ribs pointing out from his sides. A concave stomach - a body which had used to be tanned with defined muscles, but now was pale and scrawny. A wreck.
John stepped out of the shower, threw the bathrobe over his shoulders and walked into the kitchen. Two mugs were waiting for him on a clean counter in the otherwise messy kitchen. Sherlock’s apparatus and experiments were spread out on the kitchen table. He grabbed his mug to pour himself a cup of tea. The other mug was still standing there, untouched and dusty, as it had for months. Months? Or was it years? No, it couldn’t be years, could it? It was hard to keep track of the time. That’s how life seems when you’re walking in a fog which you just can’t seem to clear. He still waited for Sherlock to come prancing into the flat. And when he did, his mug would stand there ready for him, next to the teapot. John wanted Sherlock to know that he cared about him.
John’s heavy feet carried him over to his chair, before he placed his mug on the table. From the floor next to his chair he picked up the same old photo album he used to skim through every night. He could never spend too much time going through the pages of it. His heart couldn’t bear it. But still he just had to look.
The leather binding creaked as he opened the album slowly. He had started making this album shortly after he and Sherlock had moved together. On the first page one could see a picture of Sherlock sitting by the kitchen table, very focused, over one of his experiments. On the next one John had managed to get a bit closer with his camera without Sherlock turning around. On the third picture Sherlock looks at the camera with a suffering expression, his mouth open – clearly speaking , and a finger pointing towards the living room. John smiled faintly. He was quite the character, Sherlock. John turned the pages of the album slowly. Sometimes he smiled. Sometimes he would chuckle a bit. And sometimes his expression would freeze. He finally stopped at the last page. It was a picture of them both, for once. It was a neutral picture – but he still loved it. It had been just a random snapshot, but sometimes the random snapshots turn out to be the most alive and natural photos. They were sitting on a park bench – not too close – they kept a friendly distance. John with a cup of coffee, Sherlock with his hands empty. In the picture Sherlock gesticulated wildly as he looked at John with piercing eyes, clearly sharing his thoughts about something. The John at the picture looked at Sherlock with an interested and sincere expression, listening to Sherlock’s words.
John’s thumb brushed gently over the photo. He could almost feel himself nodding at Sherlock’s silent words. A tiny, salty drop hit the dark paper of the album – making a small, almost invisible black mark. John woke up from his trance. He was done going through their memories for today. He couldn’t bring himself to shut the album – instead he placed it as it was on the living room table. He casted a glance towards the window from where he was sitting; it was dark. He should probably think about going to bed.
As he was about to get up from the chair, John stopped. His eyes were frozen, staring out into the dark room. He was having one of these moments again. He could sense him. He could feel his presence. As if he’d entered the room silently behind him. Sherlock’s presence. He could feel him staring at the back of his head. John held on to the moment. He waited, as if the silence would suddenly be penetrated by the familiar, deep voice. But of course, this didn’t happen. John didn’t turn around. Why bother? There was no one there, he knew it. Like the hundreds of times he had turned around expecting to see the tall man with the dark, curly hair and the piercing eyes. Nothing.
John sighed as he buried his fists in the armrests to get up from the chair. Tomorrow. Perhaps tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow would be the day. The words carried a new tune in his head. Tomorrow would be a day of changes. John’s eyes wandered across the dusty room. Yes. Changes. Definitively.
As he placed his hand against the bedroom door, he stopped. He could still feel his presence behind him, in the dark hallway. It had never lasted this long before. He swallowed heavily as he turned around to look. He already feared the disappointment which waited for him. His feet hesitated, his heart yearned. He turned around. He stopped.
In front of him there was a man. A silhouette of a man. He looked strange, but yet so familiar. His hair was longer than it used to. And was that a beard? John couldn’t see his eyes, but he could see from the way the man was carrying his body that he was tired, and had been for a long time.
No. No! Oh god, I am hallucinating. I need help!
John wanted this. His heart wanted this. His body wanted this. Please, wicked mind, do not fool me. John’s voice cracked, “Sh-. Sh-Sherlock?”
The silhouette slowly stepped forward. The man took John’s hands in his own. It was a firm grip. The man leant forward and laughed with a theatrical voice. Laughed? “Close, but no cigar, Johnny-boy!”
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