AU - Parentlock // Post Reichenbach
He abandoned us first, son.
The air is painfully dry as John paces through the flat, feeling the emptiness grating his skin. He gazes around at the stacks of cardboard boxes, feeling a sense of numb satisfaction as he visually measures his (Sherlock) life being boxed away. Sherlock’s library of Beekeeping books no longer haphazardly poke out from behind a neat row of cold case files Lestrade leaves for fits of boredom; the books are donated, the cases remain buried (unsolved). John settles in his armchair, watching as Hamish sifts through the collection of photo albums, stacking them inside a box.
“Have you finished packing all your stuff?” he asks Hamish. Hamish glances up from the stack of photographs in his hands. John aches as he recognizes the photos; Sherlock’s grumpy face and the dreaded deerstalker peek out from underneath a picture of Sherlock and Hamish posing awkwardly at Christmas.
Hamish stares at John. “Dad, we can’t leave Baker Street. This is home,” he says. John watches Hamish, seeing the mirrored earnest expression that Sherlock used to wear when— John pushes himself out of the chair, shaking his head at Hamish’s repeated argument.
“We can’t stay here, Hamish.” John squeezes his fist to stop the shaking in his left hand, pacing towards the kitchen. There are no more experiments on the table gathering eloquent dust; they’re in boxes now. (The unexplained scratch is still carved into the surface and John can’t stop himself from tracing the thin line and wondering what he really missed that morning with Sherlock, if it mattered, if it made a difference. What couldn’t he observe?)
Hamish pleads, “But everything in here reminds us of Father…” John’s leg muscle stabs in pain, forcing John to limp back to armchair (no cane yet). He can’t look at those piercing color-shifting eyes, not when the floral pattern on the walls threaten to turn into vines and strangle John in solitude. Hamish’s voice is young and lost and doesn’t rumble in a deep enough baritone to echo against John’s—
“Which is why I can’t be here any longer!” John slams his hands against the back of the chair, and shakes his head. “I’m going mad.” His chest contracts, grief stifling his ribcage, as he spits the hated words out. John has felt the lifeblood of strangers and acquaintances straining his hands and the dry Afghani soil in his nightmares, but Sherlock. Sherlock changes or ignores rules and made John’s worst nightmare a reality and even though it was Sherlock’s blood on that pavement that day, it was John’s heart that died, cracked open on by unforgiving concrete. John’s gaze darts to the skull on the mantlepiece, where Sherlock’s skull (”friend, well I say friend.”) emptily observes John talk (confess) to his son.
“Leaving it would be like abandoning him,” Hamish whispers. The dead air in the flat won’t stop the words from reaching John’s ears. John’s left hand trembles; John bites his lip. He levels his eyes at Hamish’s shirt; that’s neutral enough so John doesn’t need to fight off the grief that itches insides his veins, threatening to bleed everywhere every time John opens his mouth. “I don’t want to do that.”
John sees that the floorboards of 221b are solid and firm, but it feels like the ground undulates underneath his feet ever since Sherlock was buried six feet under. Hamish slides the stack of photographs into the box and tiptoes over to where John is leaning on the armchair. John opens his arms and lets Hamish slide into a jumper-covered comfort hug. John strokes Hamish’s hair as Hamish buries his face in John’s chest and begins to cry, hot tears moistening the wool. His son’s short arms cling tightly to John.
“He abandoned us first, son,” breathes John. 221b still holds two hearts, but its soul is ripped out and gone.
HAHAWHO NEEDED A HAPPY MONDAY?! NOT ME!@# I NEEDED SAD MONDAY