Spoilers: S2, Reichenbach Fall
Warnings: a moment of gore, apparent character death
Summary: John sees him every single time he closes his eyes.
Author notes: This story is set in the Touchstone universe found on AO3 or LJ. To understand this story best, I recommend reading 'Touchstone' first. I plan to revisit this universe to retell the three episodes of Series 2 through the 'Touchstone' universe's lens.
This ficlet demanded writing first, so here it is.
Beta thanks to pyjamapants, sc010f, and bethbethbeth.
John sees him every single time he closes his eyes.
Keep your eyes fixed on me!
Please, will you do this for me?
Perched on the rooftop, arms spread wide, as if he might take flight.
Oh, god, Sherlock, John thinks even now, all these months later. Don’t you know? I’ve had my eyes nowhere else since the moment we met.
But his gaze couldn’t keep his friend, my best friend from lifting his arms one last time, wish stones pouring from his fingertips like rain.
Tourmaline and ruby and opal fall from his hands and, for a moment, seem to hang in the air as if they might cradle him as he plummets downdowndown.
The sky is filled with wish stones, secrets only John understands, scattered on the wind.
Prayers, like broken glass, burst from John’s skin, cutting the air with shrieks of pain.
But Sherlock steps off the ledge; his body in flight, falling, hurtling, helpless, to the ground, his body striking the pavement with a sick thud.
The world stops turning.
When John hits the cobblestones, it’s almost a relief. The way his head spins feels right. Confusion and horror and the pain in his body are all as they should be.
Sherlock has fallen.
Sherlock is hurt, and he has to get to him.
John’s voice, hoarse and broken, sounds far away against the rushing in his ears.
Let me come through, please. He’s my friend; he’s my friend. Please tell me he’s—
Oh, god, no.
Red and glistening like the most vibrant touchstone. But Sherlock’s skin is white, and his eyes, oh, god, his eyes are empty. No longer surging with life and love and hope.
Wish stones lay scattered around him, his heart empty, too.
John’s breath hitches now, remembering, and pigment rises to the palms of his hands. Indigo blue, streaked with black, it pulses beneath his skin. He leans his cheek against the headstone and takes a gulp of air. Hewn of earth instead of emotion, this stone grounds him. It feels as if it tethers him to Sherlock; an anchor dropped straight to the centre of the earth.
Greg hates that John comes here each week. Says it’s time for him to let Sherlock rest. And for you to move on, remains unspoken but still heard.
But John knows others still come, too. The small stones left on Sherlock’s headstone evidence of the handful of visitors who have been to pay their respects. At the centre, a piece of green amazonite from Mrs Hudson; a polished oval of jade from Molly sits tucked behind it. There’s a haphazard pile of lapis John is sure Greg adds to each time he visits. And at the edge of the headstone, set off from the others, a polished sapphire that could only have come from Mycroft.
John doesn’t touch any of them, not even when the wind and rain knock them to the ground to nestle amongst the fallen leaves.
He comes here because it the only place the noise in his head quiets. Pressed up against Sherlock’s gravestone, (Sherlock’s gravestone), his fingers dig into the ground beneath him as wish pigment floods his body, filling the blank slate of his skin with colour. With memory. With the echo of hopes and dreams he once thought were his to keep.
He buries the touchstones he manifests here just beneath the loamy soil, their rough edges brushing against the smooth surface of the polished headstone.
Agate and topaz and diopside. Everything he longs for, everything Sherlock gave to him, changed in him, his anguish and what tears he has left to cry live within those touchstones.
He leaves them for Sherlock.
It makes him feel less alone.
The earth is soft from the summer sun, and John imagines his row of touchstones all lined up like seeds, waiting for the right combination of sun and soil and water to release them from where they hide beneath the surface, freeing them to burst into the light.
Today, he lays his head down and runs his fingers through the long grasses that cover Sherlock’s grave. If he closes his eyes, he can almost feel the silk of Sherlock’s skin beneath his fingertips. Smell the sweetness of his breath against his cheek.
“What’s this?” he mutters. The soil alongside the stone where John has secreted his touchstones has been disturbed. A square of grass sits just the slightest bit off-kilter as if someone had cut it away and hastily replaced it.
John’s heart begins to pound. Those stones were for Sherlock. The idea of someone else even seeing them brings a furious flush to his skin, and he shoves the dislodged square of grass and soil away to uncover the crime.
“Oh, god.” His voice breaks.
His touchstones are gone.
John’s hand shakes. His touchstones are gone, but in their place is a single, turquoise stone.
The moment he touches it, he knows.
He closes his eyes and lets the stone’s energy flow through him.
Hold on, it says.
John can’t help the sob that tears from his chest. He’s been so broken.
I had to.
An echo of Sherlock’s words imbedded in stone.
John curls his fist around the gem, warming it with his skin and letting Sherlock’s heart fill him with light. With hope.
I will always love you.
John’s body shakes and his skin floods with colour.
“I miss you,” John whispers into the wind.
And as if it could speak, Sherlock’s touchstone answers.
Wait for me.