Sometimes John just has to stop. He’s quite sure he’s imagining the whole thing, and he thinks he’s gone quite mad, but he doesn’t care. Seeing things that aren’t there is easier than accepting reality. Sinking into this moment, this feeling he gets almost daily now.. it eases the pain.
So whenever he imagines (feels) a gentle touch on his shoulder, a tug on his sleeve, a soft slide of slender fingers on the side of his neck, he just stops everything he’s doing, sometimes (always) let’s things fall out of his hands and just stands still in the middle of his (their) living room.
He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and waits for a few seconds. Sometimes it takes longer, John doesn’t know (care) if it’s minutes, hours. He knows he can reach it, reach him, if he just waits. Lets it happen.
Then finally, out of all the deafening silence around him, it’s there - something begins to stir alive. First it’s the tiniest hairs on his neck that stand up, next it’s the slight chill he feels on his skin, all over.
Then, finally, he can feel Sherlock’s warm breath on his face, his cheek, his lips. He can feel him there, hear his low murmur of a whisper. He’s home. Sherlock’s home. John is never sure how long it’s going to last, it might only be seconds this time. So he rushes the words out. Always in a rush:
"Come home, Sherlock. Come back to me."
There’s never a response. There’s always silence, painful, lonely silence. Sometimes he thinks it’s his words that make Sherlock disappear, but he has to utter them out into the room around him.
Then, on a rainy Tuesday, on a day that’s exactly the same as any other day in John’s life these days, he finally gets an answer. It’s just a gentle whisper, like a silent breeze, but it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever heard.
He’s doesn’t even realise he’s crying. As tears fall down his cheeks, his skin feels even colder against the breath of air that comes with the words.
"I’m here, John. Always here."
For a second, John feels more alive. Like he’s been dead for months, dead with Sherlock, and now breathing for the first time since the fall.
And for a brief moment, a tiny part of a second, Sherlock feels alive too.
The one where Sherlock actually died, but stayed with John anyway. The one where the arrogant detective defies the last thing there is to defy, and comes back to John.