The first thing I notice when I get home that night is not the despair threatening to rip my lungs out of my chest. It is not the bone-aching exhaustion. It is not the shock or the horror or the anger. All of those things come later, in waves, in tsunamis that threaten to drown me.
The first thing I notice, when I collapse into my chair across from your empty one, is where your blood stained the knee of my trousers, the cuff of my jumper, the skin under my fingernails.
I break into a million pieces that get lost in the spaces you left behind.
Your funeral is small. Plenty of people show up to the graveyard after the service, to pay their dues. You were not well liked. But you knew that. You knew and you didn't care. But people respected you, you know.
Well. I guess you don't.
I shake hand after hand. I don't know why they come to me. Mycroft is standing beside me, but everyone shakes my hand first. The rumors, I guess. Haunting you even beyond the-
No. I can't make the joke. Not now. Not after what you did. It's too soon.
It's been a week. And still I expect-
Honestly, I don't know what I expect.
You can't be gone.
You can't be dead.
I've been seeing my shrink again. I'm sure if you were here, you would laugh at me and tell me exactly why I shouldn't, because really, she's probably incompetent, right? Well you aren't here. You aren't.
You don't get an opinion anymore.
The limp is back.
I blame you.
It's been a month. Nothing's changed.
I keep telling myself that if you would just come back, if you would just stop being dead, I would never ask you for anything more. I would keep my feelings to myself, and I wouldn't mind keeping the secret. Anything would be better than this. I would be better. Just one more miracle. For me.
I went back to your grave again today. Sat with you for a while. Left you some flowers. I know you hate flowers, but it's the proper thing to do, I think. I know you hate the proper thing as well, but I couldn't think of anything else to bring. Sorry about that.
I think this will be the last time I come to see you. It's hard. It's too much for me so- so goodbye, for now.
Nothing matters. You're gone. I think I'll go away from Baker Street for a while, get away from the city.
You are everywhere. You are nowhere.
The seasons are beginning to change. It's warmer, for a start. I know you hated spring. It's hard to look like an arrogant sod when you have allergies that make your nose turn pink and your eyes water. Plus, you could never wear your damn coat, so your whole façade was ruined and that always got under your skin.
You hid behind that coat, didn't you? You were never as cool as you wanted everyone to think. But I saw.
You let me see.
Why did you let me see?
Why did you go?
I miss you.
I hate you.
I love you.
I don't know why it took me so bloody long to say it, even in my head. But I did. I do. Love you, I mean. I don't know why I never told you. I was afraid you would reject the idea. I was afraid you couldn't feel the same. But you were so much more human than you ever wanted anyone to think. Why were you so afraid of letting them see?
Why were you so afraid of feeling anything?
It's been a year.
It still hurts like the day it happened. I'm no closer to figuring out why.
Why couldn't you have let me in?
I made so many mistakes. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
Today I'll smoke a cigarette for every year you would be and hope it kills me. Happy birthday.
I thought I saw you today, in the reflections of a shop window. Dark hair, long coat, lean frame. My heart just about stopped. Could have been anybody. Could have been you.
But that's not possible.
Your prat of a brother came around this morning. Don't know how the prick found my new address, but you know how he can be. British government, and all.
He beat around the bush a bit, asking me about my week. Asked if I'd been around to any new places lately, seen any new faces. I told him to piss off and let me get back to my tea.
He didn't mention you. I am grateful for that. Don't know if I could have taken it, honestly.
I pulled out my gun and held it for a while last night. I haven't done it since before I met you. If I had known I would be this dependent on you, would I still have agreed to the flat share?
Yes. Every time, my answer would be yes.
When I close my eyes, I see your broken body lying on the pavement outside of Bart's. I dream of you, of the blood. I think about how your skin was still warm when I reached for the pulse I knew I wouldn't find.
Did it hurt?
Sometimes I think of you and it's hard to breathe. Even now, almost two years later.
I still miss you. It's like someone's cut a piece out of my chest and left it gaping. Nobody can see the wound. They can't smell the blood.
You're still etched under my skin.
I stood on the roof of Bart's this morning, the wind whipping my hair into my eyes and nearly knocking me off my feet. I stood in the exact place you stood. I looked down, thought about how you must have felt. Your goodbye echoed in my ears. The height made me dizzy, and the pain in my chest made me sick. I thought about spreading my arms wide and falling, flying, just like you. I wish I could have sprouted wings and taken off. I wish I could leave this place and get the hell away from you. The city is tainted with your memories.
There is something buzzing under my skin. Something is happening. I can feel it. If you were here, you could tell me.
I went back to Baker Street today for the first time since leaving. Mrs. Hudson was quite put out by my absence. Nearly took my head off with a biscuit, she did. I talked her around, though. She wanted to talk about you, but I can't even say your name. I can't even be in the same space as your name or I will explode into a million pieces.
Next week will make two years. You're not coming back.
How could it still hurt so much?
I've had much too much to drink tonight and all I can think is- one more miracle. One more. For me.
There is a knock at the door. I look up from the paper spread across my lap, the headlines of strange deaths of many of London's biggest and baddest spelled out in huge print across the front, and frown.
I fold the paper up and place it to the side, setting my cup of tea down on it. I heave myself to my feet, my tired bones creaking in protest. I shuffle to the door, the limp in my leg angering me more than it should. My skin freezes as I leave the rug and hit the cold tile of the hall.
I've no idea who could be at the door. I don't have friends. I don't get along with my neighbors. I've yelled at so many solicitors I'm sure they've got me on some sort of black list.
Another knock, sounding decidedly more annoyed than the first, makes my brow furrow.
"Just a moment," I growl.
I unlock the deadbolt and slide the chain out of its place. I swing the door open, frown still in place, prepared to tell the visitor to piss off.
My heart stops. My breathing shudders to a halt. The scowl slides right off my face and I stumble back a step. Then two. Then three. My hand scrabbles along the wall to my right, searching for purchase. My vision fades to grey. I hear you clear your throat as if from the end of a tunnel. You speak, and the sound is deep and rich and the most beautiful thing I've ever heard because I thought I would never hear it again.