Pairing: John, Sherlock (can be pre-slash if you squint and tilt your head)
Summary: John-centric| In a bitter twist of irony, John realizes that without the brilliance of Sherlock’s extraordinary intellect and pure but guarded heart, he too is lost.
A/N: This was done in the wee hours of the night when I should’ve been doing hw. It is based on this magnificent gif by a-bagel on Tumblr. It has not been BETAd so any and all mistakes are mine. Whew…off to bed now.
The month following Sherlock's death feels endless to John.
For days leading up to the funeral he drifts along without really existing, trapped in a haze of denial and shock.
The moment when John acknowledges that his best friend is never coming back, he is standing alone in front of Sherlock's ebony headstone, newly unearthed cane trembling in his white-knuckled grip. The rain swallows his whispered Sherlock, and John senses the icy grip of an eternal winter taking hold.
Sherlock, the man who had pulled John back from the edge he’d been all too eager to reach, was forever lost to this world. Sherlock had always said to John he would be lost without his blogger.
In a bitter twist of irony, John realizes that without the brilliance of Sherlock’s extraordinary intellect and pure but guarded heart, he too is lost.
Three months on, as John settles into his normal (empty-boring-dull) life at the clinic, he finds that there is still a small spark smoldering within. It isn't hope or happiness or resignation.
It is anger.
Anger at the Yard for using Sherlock then throwing him away without a care, at Miss Riley for publishing that thrice-damned article, at London for lapping it all up with a smile...
The anger grows until one night, as he sits in some nameless pub with an equally miserable Lestrade by his side, his heart decides that it has had enough.
He stumbles into 221B that night with a burning desire to do something…anything to show the city that they are all wrong.
Unfocused blue eyes land on the can of yellow spray paint that had made its home on their...his bookshelf after the Blind Banker case. And John knows.
The next morning reveals the front of New Scotland Yard, the office of The Sun, and many of London's alleys marked in radiant gold with the words:
I Believe in Sherlock Holmes
Sitting in his office, Greg Lestrade allows himself a small smile.
John continues his self-appointed task with a single-minded focus he hasn't experienced since Sherlock was alive.
For every declaration that is removed, he makes sure to leave two to replace it.
He soon begins branching out, adding onto the affirmations the equally important words:
Moriarty Was Real.
And he isn't alone. He comes across Raz one night as he heads home from the clinic. Yellow paint boldly proclaims belief in the late consulting detective, and John feels his heart clench. The kid simply returns John’s wide-eyed gaze with his own steadier one before giving the doctor a small nod and continuing his work.
John keeps a lookout throughout the rest of the week. His suspicions are confirmed as he spots more and more sites that he knows he has not been to, all proclaiming the same messages.
I Believe in Sherlock Holmes. Moriarty Was Real.
He meets up with Lestrade again a few weeks later (five months-three weeks-four days).
They sit in companionable silence, each nursing a pint and sinking into their thoughts.
About an hour in, Lestrade turns to John and says, “I hear you’ve been keeping busy the last couple months.”
John gives the DI a long considering look before answering, “Busy is the only way for some people to carry on.”
Lestrade responds with a small smile as he drains the rest of his drink. “Seems like that’s all any of us can do.”
The uncharacteristic twinkle in his eyes tells John that he is not the only one of them dabbling in recreational art.
“Take care of yourself, John,” Lestrade bids him, giving John’s shoulder a light pat of farewell.
The six month anniversary of Sherlock’s death dawns with John sitting alone beside Sherlock’s headstone, shoulder leaning comfortably against the marble as he absentmindedly tore at the grass.
Before him, the sun rises over the city, no different than any other day.
“There are more of them this month,” John says to no one. “They’re spreading across the city at an incredible rate.”
An hour passes and John sits in silence beside his friend’s final resting place. He takes this day off each month for the past five months, unable to face Sarah or the pitying looks of his colleagues. Or worse, the carefree laughter of those who see no reason to differentiate this day from the rest. Eventually he stands with deep sigh, stretching his protesting leg and rotating his aching shoulder. He gives the glistening marble one final look.
“I-I miss you, Sherlock,” he whispers with a slight hitch. “More than you could ever know.”
John trudges back to the flat with a heavy heart, hands jammed into his coat pockets.
He expects that he will spend the rest of the day curled up in Sherlock’s bed, drowning himself in the memory of tiny quirked smiles and soul-piercing gray eyes.
As he reaches to open the front door, his eyes land on a white sheet of paper held in place by the door knocker. Filled with curiosity and a healthy bit of caution, John carefully unfolds the paper.
I Believe in John Watson.
The familiar angled script brings long repressed tears to the fore, where they spill unchecked down John’s cheeks and drip unnoticed onto the message clutched tightly in trembling hands.
And for the first time, John feels the endless winter begin to thaw, hope tentatively flickering anew.
A hope which has a name.