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17 January 2012 @ 06:00 pm
The Wretch.  
Title: The Wretch.
Word-count: 857.
Characters: John, Sherlock.
Rating: PG.
Spoilers: Yes! For the finale 2x03: The Reichenbach Fall.
Summary: oneshot, this is a brief, intense stream-of-consciousness inside John's head during The Event.
Author's Notes: The title is a verbal pun on the verb and the S.W.S poem which acts as a mini-epigraph.

The Wretch.

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down

To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung...

There is a ringing in his ears as he pushes himself up, on palms mottled red with an impression of the asphalt. It’s the military training that gets him to his feet, but it’s something else that powers his stride, forces him to take one pounding step after another across the street.

Breathlessly, he offers up a prayer - ‘Sherlock…’ – and is not aware of having spoken. ‘Sherlock…’

Something has gone wrong with gravity. The floor is tilting violently under him, pitching forwards like the deck of a floundering ship. It rolls up under foot and John steadies a street-light with one hand.

He staggers on, and slurs: ‘I’m a doctor… Let me come through… lemme come through, please...

London’s maddening pedestrians are everywhere, underfoot and in the way – treading on him, pulling at him. His voice betrays him. It breaks, and a pleading desperation wrenches through as they try to hold him back. He is reaching for the tangle of once-elegant limbs, now thrown into disarray, the spidery form somehow diminished by its ignominy.

No, he’s my friend… he’s my friend!

I’m supposed to be his friend.

Too late; the still-warm wrist is pried from his useless fingers. A hot lump of anguish forces its way into the muscles of his jaw, and he aches from keeping it in. He goes weak when Sherlock’s hand falls limply to the the floor, and then-

Please let me just-

-and then someone rolls Sherlock onto his side, and John sees the path of blood, and it’s as if someone has cut the string holding him up. The shock hits him like a hammer blow; he faints almost dead away. The ringing in his ears is become a thunder; all other sounds now slow and fluted, like whale-song, reaching him as if from a great distance. He is faintly aware of a cold settling deep into his bones, from the pavement. Seeping up through his jeans – must sitting down. Trying to see through the forest of legs.

The earth is no longer tilting; it is plummeting.  

There are moments of brief, dazzling brilliancy, as reality slides in and out.

The intrusive sight of a stranger’s hand on Sherlock’s head. His crown held up in an unfamiliar palm. It lolls, as smooth and round as a stone. How his mop of beautiful black hair moves, as it soaks up the blood in sopping fronds. The audible crackle as his skull peels apart from the pavement. How stark the white of his skin shows, under the wine-dark strings of gore.

John is making grovelling noises in the back of his throat, the terrible keening sounds of a wounded animal. He cannot stop. Each word tastes like iron on his tongue, grainy and stretched and metallic.

‘Mmm Je…sus….no….G-od, no….

The eyes (it strikes John, now, how extraordinarily long they are) as pale and translucent as insect-wings; as frail. Stomach cramping he peers forwards, desperate to see. Their open stare is… impossible. Not- no. Everything in him says there must be a flicker of the lashes. But they are fixed, and stare only at the sky.

Everything swims as they push Sherlock onto a trolley and take him away – too soon, too soon – he cannot breathe. John shakes his head, but he cannot get it clear- clear of this- the incomprehension, a lead-weight dragging him down into dark waters. He must be standing, now, because the plucking hands are gone, the muscles of his face must have arranged themselves satisfactorily, and Sherlock is being wheeled out of sight.

Mostly what John is aware of is a gut-sick feeling of… nothing. Utter, groaning, unspeakable emptiness. The indignity of it. That this, of all moments, should be attended by irrelevancies, the distant sounds of traffic interrupted their goodbyes, the onset of a rain that will not wait.

And the rain begins in earnest, icy needles which creep down the back of John’s collar.

Life – messy, relentless Life – pools into his silent hell, no respecter of his distress.

Soon there is traffic. Buses pull into the stop, mistaking him for another passenger, and people are walking past him, under umbrellas. None of them stop to ask if he’s alright, or even seem to register the puddle at their feet. To him they are dim indifferent smudges passing beyond a grey veil.

There is no fracture in the clouds, no crack of lightning, no wailing cry. The sun has not dimmed, nor fallen from the sky; because this is the end of a private world.


It’s- really, it’s a terrible thing.

Nobody here can sense the iron gates slamming down behind his eyes, cutting him off inexorably from all future happiness.

His hands have started to shake from the cold and, ever-sensible, John thrusts them into his pockets.

When he sets off, blindly, it is in the direction of home, allowing his feet do the thinking.

In his shoes his socks squelch and slide, but he does not pause to wonder whether it is the dampness of rainwater or blood.

On the way back to Baker Street he notices his leg has started to hurt again. 

first and only thing I've ever written in the Sherlock fandom, so (as ever) please be gentle with me! >_<
♥ comments / reviews will stop me throwing myself off buildings, probably


sunset234sunset234 on January 18th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC)
So hauntingly beautiful! Oh John...
:cries patheticaly:
Catcakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
oh wow, you're my first person to read this - thank you so much! *hands tissues*
rachelindeed: Sherlock readingrachelindeed on January 18th, 2012 06:07 am (UTC)
That was very lovely -- I like how you wrote the everyday details intruding on John's tragedy, and the idea that "this is the end of a private world." Powerfully done, thank you. Also, the opening poem fit this episode so perfectly; it was an astonishingly good way to set the scene. Thanks again for sharing.
Cat: by redsharlachcakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reviewing, I'm new enough to this that the sensation of getting feedback's still a novelty. ^_^'
What John feels - in my (thankfully limited) experience of death, that's what I remembered - how undignified and unfeeling the quotidian things seemed because they wouldn't stop.
I'm glad you thought so, about the Walter Scott - the line about forfeiting fair renown seemed almost spookily right!
missilemusemissilemuse on January 18th, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
I loved the excerpt from the poem. And even more than that I loved your fic! For a first time writer in this fandom, you seem to have got under the skin of the character, quite easily. Thanks for sharing!
Cat: by redsharlachcakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
Heh, well thank you on both counts - as for getting under the character's skin, I think the congratulations there should all go to Martin Freeman for his- what was it- 'fastidious realism?' Yes, he makes it very easy. And also thank you for reading! ^_^ *am about to go return the favour and leave an R&R on Realizations.*
queena21queena21 on January 18th, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
I have nothing but pure love for this. You write Johns POV just..incredibly. I can FEEL his pain, and I love it! So beautiful, thanks for sharing =)
Catcakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
o_O 'pure love', um... that was, er... good. Yes. Can't tell you how that's made my night. *buries face in pillow* (And needless to say I apologise profusely if I've made you feel one iota of the agony I imagine John went through in Reichenbach. >_<)
Sie Of Many Names: sherlockdraloreshimare on January 18th, 2012 08:23 am (UTC)
Oh, god, John...The descriptions here are excellent, and... *sob*
Cat: by redsharlachcakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
^ about sums up my feelings at the end of the ep, really... oh and thank you for reading, you're too kind. >_< *please, have a tissue*
cherish4: Look After My Heartcherish4 on January 18th, 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
Oh John..poor poor John.

*hugs him*

Beautifully written, this made me cry.
Cat: icon by mecakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 11:38 pm (UTC)
Gargh! This must be how Godtiss feel - wonderful but terribly guilty. >_< I am so sorry but so glad if you liked it... and once again I find myself offering round the proverbial Bucket for Creys. *hugs both you and John*
rox712 on January 18th, 2012 11:12 am (UTC)
Cat: by enchantedfleurcakehole_cat on January 18th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
Cyanne: Sherlock & John profilessilver_cyanne on January 19th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC)
This is beautiful.
Cat: by redsharlachcakehole_cat on January 19th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
{ Like our boys, then. ^_^ } Thank you, you're sweet to say so. ♥
Mariolemariole on January 19th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
You really captured the horror of this scene so vividly. Poor John. Well done.
Catcakehole_cat on January 19th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
*slaps head* Horror! the one word I didn't think of!
Oh, thank you. A simple 'well done' means the world when the subject-matter's this triggery. [I'm getting a lot of 'Poor John's here - starting to feel guilty...]
thatauthor_chic: Well Behaved Women Rarely Make Historythatauthor_chic on January 19th, 2012 05:04 am (UTC)
Oh God Cat! Oh My God! *flails*

Can I just say that it is never a disapointment? I am at this moment sitting at my desk wiping away the tears. This is so beautifully, heart wrenchingly sad. I can't even pick out my favorite bits or the most moving ones because I'd be quoting the whole thing. It's the grovelling sounds John made, the awful taste of his own words as he tried to simply understand that his reality had changed forever that finally started the tears rolling.

*scurries off to find some tissues* lol
Catcakehole_cat on January 19th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
*consider my shit totally lost*
Arseholebuggeryfuckbiscuits I must have *just* missed you last night! >_< Oh mi God Gen, Gen, ohmigod, of all the reviews and all the reviewers in all the world, you had to walk back in with that- *massive suffocating hugs and hiccupy tears all over the shop* HAVE YOU SEEN IT, THO? THE EP? BROKEN-HEART-ATTACK INNA CAN IS WHAT IT IS.
thatauthor_chic: Well Behaved Women Rarely Make Historythatauthor_chic on January 20th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC)
Re: *consider my shit totally lost*
Omigod Cat! I'll see your massive suffocating hugs and hiccupy tears all over the shop and raise you a couple of heaving sobs for Sherlock's demise and one last miracle for poor John. Just because I don't want a world without Sherlock in it. :(
OMIEFFINGGOD Cat! I couldn't NOT search out that ep after reading your fic last night. I've only just finished watching it. Broken Heart Attack inna Can eh? Yeah. Yeah, it really is. *sobs brokenly into hankerchief*
And here I thought the death scene was going to be the tear jerker of the ep. Nope. They have to tack on an extra ten minutes of broken, aftermath John afterward to torture us with. And now I have to watch the rest of the series because, really? Now that I know it's out there, how can I not? lol

Edited at 2012-01-20 05:57 am (UTC)
touristemilytouristemily on January 25th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
The intrusive sight of a stranger’s hand on Sherlock’s head. His crown held up in an unfamiliar palm. It lolls, as smooth and round as a stone. How his mop of beautiful black hair moves, as it soaks up the blood in sopping fronds. The audible crackle as his skull peels apart from the pavement. How stark the white of his skin shows, under the wine-dark strings of gore.