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Keep Your Eyes Fixed on Me
It was raining; not a lovely drizzle, but a roaring gale that pounded the roof of 221B Baker Street. John Watson was standing at the window, gazing out at the pedestrians rushing madly about and poking umbrellas in each other's eyes. It would have been comical, but John hadn't laughed in a long time. He'd forgotten how.
It had been nearly a year. John told himself he didn't remember the exact date and time of his best friend's death, but that was a lie. Each day that slipped past was another day farther from Sherlock. In the beginning, he had spent a great deal of time staring into space, avoiding appointments with his therapist, and existing anywhere but in the flat. The memories were too strong to bear; even that audacious yellow smiley face on the wall pained him. He didn’t live, he existed. Though John knew he'd never admit this to anyone, he couldn't speak Sherlock's name aloud without his heart shattering. Grief is akin to falling asleep; slowly at first, then all at once. And the moment it hit John, that Sherlock was indeed the dearest person to him in the world, the detective had left this life forever.
John loved Sherlock like the brother he wished he had, like his best friend. It was a strange feeling; beautiful, fragile and inexorably painful. It was like this: Sherlock had an extraordinary mind that hid a warm heart, and John had an extraordinary heart that hid a sharp mind. They were linked, simple as that.
Finding it too unbearable to stay still, John feverishly threw on his jacket and, without breaking pace to find an umbrella, hurried downstairs and out into the endless torrent of rain. He stood in front of the dodgy sandwich shop, sopping. All around, everyone looked exasperated; their clothes were dripping, their shoes spoilt, and it seemed that all the cabs in London were already occupied. But John, with absolutely nowhere to go, didn't care that he probably looked half drowned. In fact, he stepped out a bit farther and relished the sensation of the falling rain on his scalp.
I'm losing it, he thought. I'm actually enjoying having gallons of water repeatedly dumped on my head.
John had always thought that going insane would be strange and frightening. On the contrary, it was strangely relieving and delicious. Heading down the street, he purposely stepped in puddles, subconsciously wondering what his best friend would think of him now. Inexplicably, he recalled sitting next to a sheet-clad Sherlock, and saying to Mycroft, "We solve crimes, he forgets his pants, and I blog about it. I wouldn't hold out too much hope."
John grinned and bowed his head against the driving rain. He apologized ceaselessly as he bumped into passers-by, unable to make them out in the nasty weather.
John stopped dead. That voice would be forever burned into his eardrums, yet—the owner of that voice was dead. Roughly shaking his head as though to clear it, he began to walk again.
Revolving on the spot, John turned and blinked water from his eyes. An exceedingly tall figure stood opposite him, a man with high cheekbones, dark hair, and a long tweed trench coat.
Sherlock. There, in the flesh, not in the ground where he should be.
John felt a butterfly's wing beat against his ribcage. 'Sherlock is dead. I visit his grave three times a week, yet'--He met the man's eyes and felt an electric shock of recognition sear his body.
Sherlock opened his mouth, but John threw caution to the wind and punched him square in the jaw.
Sherlock straightened with a dignity John had forgotten he possessed. "Thanks, John. I deserved that."
John glared at Sherlock with a fierce sort of pride, then squeezed him so tight he was surprised Sherlock didn't snap in two. "Jesus, Sherlock," he muttered. "You're supposed to be—to be—I don’t understand…” he concluded weakly.
"I'm supposed to be dead, yes, I realize that. I—why are you looking at me like that?" Sherlock frowned at John, whose mouth had begun to twitch.
"I'm not," he said, his voice warm with all sorts of emotions. "God, I missed you so much."
"John..." Sherlock's voice faltered and died. He passed a hand over his eyes. "I'm sorry. I'll explain everything—though I assume you've probably attempted to work out a lot of it on your own."
"With a placid, straight forward, barely used mind like mine? Nah."
Sherlock grinned and shook water from his upturned coat collar.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Please tell me you chucked that appalling hat in the rubbish?"
"No, Sherlock, people like that hat, remember?"
"No one could look good in something that atrocious."
John met Sherlock's eyes. "You could."
Sherlock went nearly imperceptibly pink.
"Can I ask you a question, then?"
"Yes, of course, John."
"Did you actually miss me?"
A brief spasm crossed Sherlock's face. "Yes," he whispered. "So much I could barely breathe."