I haven't slept through an entire night for weeks. Every time I close my eyes, praying for a quiet night, I find myself reliving the same nightmare that always haunts me.
The nightmare begins with me leaping from a taxi and frantically searching for a sign of my friend, Sherlock Holmes. Every night I hope the nightmare will have changed and Sherlock will walk calmly towards me saying Moriarty is dead, everything is fine and we can go home. Always though my hopes are dashed when I slowly raise my gaze to the rooftop of St Batholomew's Hospital where the sight of Sherlock standing on the very edge waits to greet me. Not even pausing to think about what I can do to stop him I try to run to him, to prevent him from jumping, but my feet are glued to the pavement, leaving me helpless to do nothing but watch.
Every night since...that day I have been forced to stand by and relive the moment where Sherlock tosses away his phone and jumps. For what seems like minutes but is probably only seconds he falls, arms flailing and coat flapping out like wings behind him, until being abruptly stopped by the hard, cold pavement. Even though I've seen it before shock still floods through me and it takes me a long moments to realize I am no longer glued to the spot.
With dread washing through me I run towards his broken body, barely aware of the scarlet blood pooling on the pavement around him. Unable to support myself on my shaking legs I sink into a kneeling position beside him, loud sobs tearing through me. In my nightmare's, unlike the actual event, there is no-one trying to stop me from reaching him. In my nightmares I am alone with my sorrow. The worst part is when I look into his clear, blue eyes, expecting them to be full of emotion and instead finding them blank and devoid of the energy that made Sherlock so special. It is usually around about there I wake up with tears running down my cheeks and a hoarse cry of "SHERLOCK" being torn from my throat, despite the fact I know he is unable to hear me.
Tonight however the nightmare is different. Tonight when I step from the taxi and turn my gaze to the rooftop of the hospital I am startled to see Sherlock isn't alone. Instead Moriarty stands on the edge beside him, leaning intimately towards the detective as he whispers in Sherlock's ear. As I watch, confused by the change, Moriarty makes a small sweeping gesture towards the ground, clearly indicating Sherlock should jump. Sherlock shakes his head before casually taking a step back away from the edge. With a single, fluid movement he shoves Moriarty backward, sending the consulting criminal stumbling backward into empty space...
* * * *
I wake up in a cold sweat with a cry, the blankets tangled around my body. Blinking against the darkness I fumble for my bedside lamp, half-formed thoughts churning in my head. Why was the nightmare different tonight? What had changed? Had Sherlock really died? Abruptly I sit up and press the palms of my hands against my eyes in an attempt to hold back the sorrow that always threatens to engulf me when I think of my friend. I am just being ridiculous. There is no way Sherlock could have survived a fall from that height.
I'd seen his blood stained, broken body myself and had tried and failed to find a flicker of life that would have shown Sherlock hadn't just taken his own life. Despite all the facts I still reach for my phone and type out a text to Sherlock.
"Don't be dead" - JW
Seconds after I press send my pillow begins to vibrate. Curious I search for the source of the sound and discover a phone, cracked and broken with just enough life to receive messages. I stare at it blankly as I try to figure out what this phone is doing under my pillow. It takes a matter of seconds before the realization hits me. It was Sherlock's phone, given to me by Lestrade as a memento of the time I'd spent with world's only consulting detective. Unable to hold back my tears any longer they come flooding out, dripping silently down my cheeks. I clench a fist and press it against my chest as I try to stop the pain from shattering my heart into tiny fragments.
"Oh god." I sob loudly, not caring if the neighbors hear me. "He's dead, he's really dead."
Several years worth of suppressed emotions engulf me, dragging me down into a dark void where I am alone and Sherlock is never coming back. A world without him is a world I'm not sure I want to live in any longer. When I hear the creak of my door opening I tense, the shock of a possible midnight visitor over-riding my sadness for a moment. Through tear filled eyes I see a tall figure standing in the doorway. For some reason I don't feel afraid and instead steel myself for a fight if the person has come to steal from me. Instead of showing any thief like tendencies the person calmly makes their way towards me before enveloping me into a familiar warm embrace. In response to the touch my body freezes.
I must still be dreaming. There is just no way this person can be Sherlock, for Sherlock is dead and I will never see his face again. I am vaguely aware of the person saying in a deep, soothing voice, "SSH it's okay. I'm back and won't leave you again. I'm so sorry John," before I sink back down into the dark, velvety embrace of sleep.
* * * *
The next morning I wake up refreshed after having suffered from no more nightmares that night. I go to roll over and find I am unable to because of a pair of arms wrapped tightly around me. Cautiously I turn my head, hardly daring to believe what I know I am about to see. Sure enough I find myself staring into the face I'd never thought I'd see again with the sharp cheekbones outlines by the sun and the intense blue eyes staring down at me. My mouth opens and a quiet gasp escapes me. How was this possible? Last night I'd dismissed it as a dream but I was unable to do the same in the daylight streaming through the windows.
"S-Sherlock? You're alive?" I stuttered, struggling away from him and sitting up. "But I saw you die, you had no pulse."
Sherlock shook his head, his expression sorrowful. "I'm so sorry for all the grief I've caused you John. I only jumped to protect you from Moriarty's gunmen."
When I hear the sadness and guilt in his voice all thoughts of punching him vanish and instead I reach towards him before I even realize what I am doing. Somehow hearing Sherlock's more human, emotional side makes the months of mourning for him seem unimportant. What did it matter he'd never told me he was going to fake his own death? Sherlock is alive and cares for me, that is all that matters.
Right at the back of my mind however there is still a small niggling doubt whether this is all real. "Am I dreaming?" I ask, my voice trembling slightly.
In reply Sherlock smiles and gently strokes my cheek. "No John, not any more."
~ ~ ~ ~
Attention!! If you are happy with the happy ever after ending do not read further. Sometimes in life there is no such thing as a happy ending.
~ ~ ~ ~
With a sigh I lean into his touch and close my eyes, savoring this moment of peace. I take in a few deep breaths, planning to say how much I've missed him, and open my eyes. Once again I am lying in an empty bed with no sign to show Sherlock was ever here. A quiet groan escapes me. I should have known it was too good to be true. Just like previous times Sherlock's presence beside me had been nothing but a detailed dream. I sigh, this time had been so real I'd allowed myself to foolishly believe he had somehow managed to survive the fall.
Eventually, though maybe not just yet, I am going to have to expect it. Sherlock is dead and nothing can bring him back, not even all the hoping in the world. The only places Sherlock now exists are half-remembered memories and vivid waking dreams where, for a little while at least, we can be together once more.