by elfin

A year later John goes up onto the roof of St Barts and stands on the ledge with the toes of his shoes jutting over the edge.  He looks down, sees what Sherlock saw and wonders at how high it is, how quiet and peaceful and deadly.

A voice next to him asks what he's doing and he says he's going to jump.  When it asks him why he doesn't want to live, he replies that there is no life to live anymore, that his best friend jumped from this very ledge a year ago today and died on the pavement below.

Then the voice says, "No, I didn't."

John glances to his left to see the same figment of his traumatised imagination that he's seen so often over the last twelve months, standing there wearing the same wool coat and blue scarf that Sherlock wore the day he died, the same coat he always wore, the same coat and scarf that he's seen out of the corner of his eye on crowded street corners and bustling tube platforms. 

"Yes, you did," he tells the figment and it sighs sadly and looks out over the rooftops and the quiet London morning.  "I watched you."

"You watched me jump," it corrects him, the nuances of his voice spot-on, as if John could ever forget its tone and timbre, the way he's heard Sherlock's voice in his head over the last year bemoaning the edible stuff in the fridge, the crap daytime tele, the early nights. 

"I watched you fall."

"You didn't see me land."

John thinks back as he stares down, remembering the worst day of his life, the phone call, the jump, the fall.  "No.  There was a van in the way, then the cyclist."  He shakes the nightmare out of his head.  "You died.  I wish you hadn't but you did and I... I miss you... so much."

The figment stops trying to deny it.

"So much that you don't want to live?"

"I've got nothing to live for.  He brought me back to life, now he's gone." 


Dragging his eyes from the sheer drop waiting for him, John glances again at the sharp memory brought into being beside him.  "Sh-"  His voice falters as it always does when he tries to say it, catching on his friend's name.  He swallowed.  "Sherlock."

"I'm Sherlock."

"No."  He chuckles sadly and closes his eyes, willing the apparition to vanish.  "You're just my imagination.  You're everywhere, in the street, on the tube, in the flat sometimes....  But you're not real.  And I can't..."  He takes a deep breath and says to himself, "I can't do this anymore."

"The others were your imagination.  I'm real."

John slides one foot forward an inch on the wet stone.  He remembers the wet pavement that terrible, terrible morning, blood from Sherlock's poor, shattered head mixing with the rain.

"Talk to me at the bottom," he says to himself and closes his eyes, bringing Sherlock's smile to mind so that it's the last thing he'll ever see as he takes a step out into oblivion.

A hand grips his, yanking on his fingers while nails dig into his waist, pulling him backwards and he topples, slipping and landing hard and unbalanced onto the rooftop to be steadied by firm hands and a hard body.

This figment has form - skin and muscle and bone and body heat.  It has Sherlock's stormy sea eyes filled with tears, a voice thick with apology and fear, a racing pulse and thudding heartbeat. 


"Sherlock?"  It's uttered on a half-broken sob as his fingers clutch at the lapels of that heavy wool coat.  "Not a figment...."


He can't breathe, but it's not for lack of trying and at least when he manages to drag oxygen into his lungs, Sherlock's still standing in front of him, gaunt face and pale eyes.

"You were going to kill yourself."  The pain in his voice is the same as John still feels from the raw wound in his heart.

"I had nothing to live for."

"I'm... sorry, John, so sorry....  Please forgive me."

"Not until I know what I'm forgiving you for," but the smile's bursting out of him.  "I'm going to be angry with you when the shock wears off."

"I know."  He nods, hands on John's shoulders, on his arms, finally grasping his hands.  "I can live with that."

Eventually they'll get down off the roof and go home, back to the flat in Baker Street.  For now it's enough to stare at one another because it's been a year too long since they did.