Afterward: Latent

Most people will, in their lifetime, be forced into a "come to terms with it" situation at least once.

Sometimes that situation is a spectacular personal failure on the deepest level.

Or perhaps it's the implosion of a family unit, no matter the definition.

There's the sort where a long sought after dream - bought most literally with blood, sweat, and tears - frays around the edges. The dream can be patched, stitched and reinforced, but all it takes is one snag and the whole thing comes unraveled at once.

Most people, if you ask them, and if they are honest with themselves, will admit that their "come to terms with it" moment came as a result of loss.

Most people will agree that the deepest loss involves death.

Deep loss is more than the tug of the heart felt when a member of the community passes. It's not even the tears that are shed for the loved one gone too soon, but "at least they're not in pain."


Deep loss is what happens when there is physical death in one body that elicits the death of soul, heart, and will in another body. The second body remains among the living on a molecular level, going through the learned motions of everyday. Or not, because, it doesn't really matter now does it?

But the pain of deep loss is not simply emotional. It snakes its way into the mind of its victim, toying with reason and obliterating judgment.

And the physical pain. Oh God, the physical pain. The dull throb of the head that never goes away. Leaden weariness that permeates every muscle and sucks the life from the very marrow of bones. Lungs that can't ever seem to fill to capacity. Eyes that burn like fire because they just need to sleep, but when they are tucked into the safety of darkness behind heavy lids, they refuse to stay there because the darkness invites perhaps the greatest affront of all...

Deep loss has a way of recalling. Everything. The good and the bad. The memories that are hidden away, whether on purpose, or as a means of self-preservation. Deep loss cares little for chronological order. Nor does it invest the effort to comfort it's victim. Deep loss revels in and gleans strength from the most haunting memories, the hurts inflicted, the words said in anger, or worse, the words left unsaid.

Physical death forces the permanent cessation of the beating heart, stealing away the fragile spark that is the miracle of human life.

It's actually quite merciful.

Because the deep loss left in death's wake torments those in its grasp by allowing them to remain alive, yet clutching their still beating hearts in icy claws, splaying open their very being, revealing weakness and leaving screaming nerves exposed to the harsh and unforgiving world.

Most people agree, in the case of coming to terms with deep loss, the individual growing cold and stiff, the one for whom others mourn, is the lucky one.

John Watson understands deep loss. He knows too well the exhaustion that results from working too hard to avoid at all costs coming to terms. There is within the darkest recesses of John Watson's heart an underlying jealousy of the one who was laid to rest under the shiny black granite monument.

A longing for the solitude of death.

He should probably be alarmed when the longing never really dies away, despite the dearly departed not actually being departed any longer.

But when one comes to terms with something, it's nearly impossible to undo. The memories of that choice become driving forces.

Most people cling to the hope that time heals all wounds.

Most people don't actually believe it does.

But most people welcome the dulling effect that comes with the passing of years. They are left with glimpses of the past, cobbled together into a nostalgic filmstrip that can be played back at any time. The mind movie, no matter the content, becomes safe, allowing the viewer to look back and recall events, as one who was present, without inserting themselves back into harm's way. They know the event impacted them, but when they review the past they do not have to watch themselves fall apart simply because they were the ones behind the camera.

Unfortunately for John Watson, he finds himself seated across from the one person who he is fairly confident has never come to terms with anything. Not even his own death. The only terms Sherlock Holmes has ever agreed to are his own, never mind the cost.

Between them rests a laptop. The screen is illuminated with images John Watson never wanted to see. Images of his own unraveling, of the coming to terms forced upon him by the very one sitting across from him.

"If we're going to do this, you cannot interrupt me," John's voice wavers. Sherlock raises an eyebrow. "No, Sherlock. No. You always talk, and I always listen. I may not understand, but I always listen. And eventually you help me to see. Well, it's my turn to talk now."

It seems unfair that John should have to relive these memories, not in the safety of his mind as a silent participant, but as a spectator.

Though, he never really did fit in with "most people."

There is, however, no ready escape for the doctor. He is held captive by quick, all seeing eyes. Calculating eyes that flit from the waiting image on the screen to his own face, searching, impatiently, for meaning, for understanding.

Sherlock Holmes will never understand.

John Watson acknowledges and resigns himself to the fact that Sherlock will never understand.

But he recognizes the opportunity afforded him, no thanks to Mycroft Holmes and his "minor" position within the British Government (Mycroft, as opposed to his younger brother, is fully familiar with coming to terms. A great number of lives depend on his "minor" position, and there are days when the situations requiring "coming to terms" inundate. Relentlessly).

Though Sherlock may never understand -- in all likelihood, not only will he not understand, but he will reject the premise as senseless, gratuitous sentimentality -- there is always potential. Maybe this time John can helpSherlock to see. He won't have to understand, just see.

"But, I was alive John," Sherlock condescends.

And patiently - the kind of patience only John Watson is capable of - John responds, "Yes, Sherlock, I know that now. But I wasn't."

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