The doctor paused, faltering for a moment. He tensed, leaning carefully over his cane as he listened for the voice again, certain he had heard nothing. Nothing but the rain pit-pattering on his raised umbrella.
He curled his lips, biting down hard enough to draw blood. His eyes flickered. Heart hammering, he stood there, frozen, obsessed with the pain. ‘It’s nothing,’ he thought hurriedly. ‘It’s the weather, it’s the meds, I’m tired.’ He closed his eyes tightly and shook his head, trying to convince himself that the voice was just a hallucination, just a trick of the combination of the wind and the rain, nothing else. He wouldn’t turn around. He couldn’t. Not again. There was too much disappointment, all those other times, all those other false alarms, those fakers. Reporters scrambling to find a good look alike in order to get a reaction from the poor doctor. Teenagers even, young boys whose girlfriends had convinced them to try and rib him about his supposedly non-platonic relationship with the late detective.
All those cruel, little tricks.
No more tears fell. There weren’t any left. It was three years ago, three years! He would’ve liked to think that people would leave him alone, that people would’ve forgotten about him. Let him grieve in peace. But no one ever did. There was always someone, someone to throw another taunt or knock him to the pavement. And tonight was no exception.
He slid his hand further down his cane and gripped it tightly. He wasn’t going to take it lying down anymore. He’d loved Sherlock. And no matter what anyone said, no matter what so-called “proof” was waved in his face, he would never believe that the detective had told him a lie. But no one cared. No one ever cared anymore.
He swung, turning quickly, hoping that the blow of the cane would be powerful enough to knock whoever was following him to the ground. But the shadow raised his hands, catching the cane in a firm grip. The doctor snarled, but the man merely pulled him closer and looked him directly in the eyes.
The doctor’s hands slipped from the cane. Those blue eyes. That hair, those cheekbones, the upturned collar, everything. He sucked in a breath of air and reached forward, his little fingers skimming the man’s thin, pale cheeks. It couldn’t be real. No, it wasn’t possible. “Sherlock?” He whispered, his voice cracking painfully as he spoke for the first time in nearly three years. The detective immediately collapsed, tears streaming down his cheeks as he fell into the doctor’s open arms. “I’m so sorry, John,” he murmured, burying his face in the warmth of the other man’s jumper. “I’m sorry for everything.” The doctor could barely breathe, his heart pressing against his chest as he looked up into the sky and whispered ‘Thank you’ to the clouds.
And they just stood there, two broken things, one relying completely on the other’s support, neither caring as the rain poured down on them. The doctor twisted his fingers through the detective’s hair, and the other man tightened his grip, clinging to him as though if he let go, he would lose his best friend again, this time forever.
John closed his eyes and sighed, content at last. But when he opened them again, he was no longer out on the street in the pouring rain, no longer in the arms of the great detective. Instead he was lying on his bed, the grey sheets gripping his sweat-soaked body, a blue scarf cradled in his arms. The doctor sat up. A dream. No. God, no, could that really have been all that it was? He pressed the scarf to his lips, trying to ignore the red stains splattered along the material. Not a dream. A nightmare. A bloody nightmare even worse than the ones where he saw Sherlock throw himself from the roof of the hospital. Hitting the ground. All that blood. And his eyes, his eyes were always open, so young, so lost, so blue. Over and over and over again. The doctor slipped a hand beneath his pillow and pulled out his old army pistol. Smooth, dark, lethal. He fingered the trigger, his other arm still swaddled in the detective’s old scarf. His heart tightened. He was a complete idiot to even think that Sherlock was still alive. There was no surviving that fall. There was no coming back from the grave. The nightmares would never stop. John raised the gun to his mouth, hand wavering slightly. The cool metal brushed against his lips and he shivered, fear coursing through him. He could end it, take out on everyone else, all those people who had mocked him as he tried to pick up his groceries or pull his rubbish to the curb. He could do it. A simple pull of the trigger.
One last cruel little trick.
“I’m sorry, Sherlock.”