A/N: A brief follow-up to "Splinters", from Sherlock's point of view. I do not own, nor do I profit from.
He sat in front of the violin, hands folded, fingers laced together, elbows on the table. He'd been taught not to do that, but had untaught himself years before. Who cared? When he'd lived alone, no one.
Nor did John.
He kept his eyes fixed on the small brass plaque with its engraved message.
To Sherlock, all my love, John.
It gleamed, gently, in the fading evening light that slanted through the dining room windows. Catching the last of the sun, holding onto it, so that even when it had just turned too dusky to see well inside the flat, it still shone.
He put a hand on the lid, lightly, fingers only, and rested it there a moment.
Then he moved his hand, without really intending to, picking up the bow carefully, delicately, pulling it out, holding it with both hands.
It felt light, familiar. The weight was perfect. It shone, like the little brass plaque.
all my love, John.
John hadn't said anything. Not a word. He'd been expecting a row, really, but there hadn't been anything. Sherlock was angry about this, furious, he wanted John to yell, to shout, to curse, to have something to push back against.
His fingers tightened on the bow.
He remembered the wood snapping between his fists. The strings slicing away between the blades of the scissors.
He'd run one finger over the violin strings, and the sound had angered him. No, enraged. He'd loosened the pegs and used the pliers to cut the strings just above the bridge. John had been doing the dishes, perfect timing. He hadn't planned it that way, no. But he had. A bit of both. John would have stopped him. John would have grabbed the hammer before it could have bitten into the wood, gouging holes, leaving jagged splinters.
He hadn't wanted John to stop him.
He had wanted John to yell at him.
He hated John yelling. But he'd wanted it nonetheless. It made no sense.
It had felt good, no, glorious. It had concentrated his mind magnificently, stopping the ever-present anger, loosening the tightness in his chest that never seemed to abate otherwise, dulling the yawning ache in his stomach that he could not shake, that made him think this was what John's shoulder must feel like when it acted up. Then he told himself that was ridiculous, it was not at all the same.
He'd felt hot, burning, while doing this, but perfectly calm.
It stopped the clamour in his mind for one brief, intense, liberating moment.
He could breathe.
He could think.
It had almost made him dizzy.
Then he'd put the hammer down, calmly, and it had come rushing back, two-fold, so that his vision danced with tiny silver ribbons and he had to go stand by the window, back to John, who wasn't shouting, pressing his head against his arm until he could feel the bones of his forearm against his forehead.
He put the bow away, moving slowly and deliberately, not shaking. He put a hand on the case again. Closed his eyes. Closed the case.
Shut the latches without looking, because the case was the same style, size, weight, design as his old one.
He went out for awhile, then came back.
John was home when he got back, asleep. Sherlock stood inside their doorway for a few minutes, watching him, but his husband didn't stir.
He looked peaceful, on his back, one hand on his stomach, the other tucked up near his head, under his pillow.
He didn't often sleep on his back unless he was sleeping alone, because they slept curled up together otherwise.
Sherlock sat back down at the dining room table and opened the case.
The little brass plaque caught the light again, this time from the lamp he'd lit in the living room.
To Sherlock, all my love, John.
All his love.
He loved John. This had surprised him in the beginning. Sometimes it still did. Naming something like this was startling. It was surprising that it didn't go away. That he didn't get bored. He knew this surprised Mycroft more than it did him, but sometimes it still stopped him up short. And he'd look at John in some shock to realize that yes, the sensation had not abated, was even stronger, really, and John would look at him and Sherlock would see the same thing reflected. This would stun him, too, and he'd have to stop whatever it was he was doing, and so would John.
He felt a flash of that now.
He wanted to wake John up, but what would John do? Somehow, Sherlock no longer wanted him to yell. He wanted John to shout, but not right away, not for the same reasons.
But he wasn't sure what John would do if he was woken up.
This grated at Sherlock. Surely he should know. After all these years. The man he loved.
He'd loved his mother, too.
Shut up, he told himself. Shut up.
He closed his eyes and closed the case again. The plastic felt warm, somehow, against his fingertips.
Sherlock stood and then stood still for a moment, before finding a pad of paper and a pen. Before he could change his mind, because this was not a lie, this was true, and John should know, he scrawled:
Thank you. Love, SH
He went to bed, putting the note on the nightstand. Sherlock curled around John, who stayed on his back, but who made a sleepy, satisfied noise and shifted closer, nuzzling Sherlock's neck, breath warm against Sherlock's skin.
He left the note on his pillow when he got up early the next morning, before John. Sherlock dressed carefully, made breakfast, put on a pot of coffee and left a plate for John in the fridge. Eggs and bacon could be reheated in the microwave. Pancakes, he'd discovered from John, could be reheated in the toaster. Pure genius. Today it was pancakes and bacon. One of John's favourites.
He'd understand that.
Sherlock let himself out, went walking. It was bright and warm, only a hint of morning chill on the air that was burning off as the sun rose, heating the pavement, the asphalt, the metal on the cars on the road.
He catalogued other pedestrians as they moved by.
That woman, in the suit, with a shoulder bag, not a laptop bag, her perfume not quite subtle enough, her expression set in confidence but showing a hint of anxiety around the edges, going to a job interview.
That man, with the takeaway coffee and the distracted expression, wearing a suit and tie like John wore his old, comfortable jumpers, at home with the clothing, going to work, having done so for so long that it was ingrained habit, not really watching where he was walking, moving around other pedestrians without much thought, heading for the tube. The same path he trod every day, including most weekends.
The training cabbie on his scooter, with his maps fixed to each side of the dash on clipboards, but not looking at them, weaving in and out of traffic with practiced ease, almost ready to get his license.
His phone distracted him. He pulled it out of his pocket. John had texted him.
Not going in today.
Sherlock dropped the phone back in his pocket. John didn't want a reply, he just wanted Sherlock to know, so he was prepared for this when he returned. He was glad to know this.
That young woman there, with the satisfied expression, grinning at the street around her, map clutched in one hand. Tourist. Had always wanted to come to London, had saved up enough to do so, was here for the first time. Brilliant.
The young man checking his cell phone repeatedly. Waiting for a call from – the faint smell of sweat, the nervous, agitated motions, the biting of his lower lip, the raking of his hand through his hair. The call from his recently former girlfriend. She wouldn't call.
Would he had recognized the woman who'd killed her mother for the money? Would he have correctly analyzed her expression, her body language, her stance?
Yes, he would have.
Anger flared up in him again and he shoved it down.
Lestrade had tried calling him for four days before giving up. Sherlock had ignored each call. The DI had not resorted to calling John, which was unusual.
John had given Sherlock's first violin to Mrs. Hudson.
Sherlock did not go into Mrs. Hudson's without permission. It was one of the only places. And she wouldn't give it back to him, not unless John told her it was all right.
This didn't annoy him as much as it could have. She could keep it for now.
The black car that pulled up beside him was Mycroft's. Sherlock stopped with a sigh, staring straight ahead up the street.
The door opened and Sherlock glanced down, hands in his pockets, bending slightly to see inside. His brother was looking up at him, hands resting on his ever-present umbrella. Still not wearing that silver ring, because he'd given it to Angela, for some unknown reason.
"Get in, Sherlock," Mycroft said, his voice level, betraying nothing. No, there was the same put upon irritation he always had for Sherlock, but it sounded no more serious than normal. He was making it impossible, of course, to tell if he was angry with Sherlock about their father and David.
Possibly Angela had done something about that.
"No," Sherlock said, and shut the door.
Now he was trapped, book-ended between his brother and his husband. Between the car and the flat.
He made the same choice he would every single time.
He went home.
Mycroft's car followed him for a block, but Sherlock ignored it.
The violin was still on the dining room table, and John was sitting in his chair, reading. He raised his eyes when Sherlock came in, giving him a slight smile.
"Good morning, John."
He sat down in front of the violin case again. He couldn't play it. The thought made him cold. Not because of John. Because of the sound. If he played it, there'd be no stopping the memories that he kept firmly at bay, because they had no business interfering with his life, vying for his attention.
He heard John get up and come over, smelling the familiar smells when his husband was close enough. Sunshine, soap, shampoo – so he'd recently showered – deodorant, pancakes, bacon, coffee – so he'd showered before eating.
Sherlock didn't look up, elbows on the table, hands folded.
John leaned over and pressed a kiss on the back of Sherlock's neck. Sherlock closed his eyes, focusing everything on the sensation. Warmth, John's lips were not chapped because they generally weren't in the spring and summer, his breath was warm as well, and this made Sherlock's skin tingle, which he felt down his spine, between his shoulder blades.
John drew away and pulled up a chair, sitting down almost beside him, resting his right arm on the table, leaning some of his weight against it. Sherlock slid his grey eyes to John's brown ones.
"You have to stop this," John said.
Sherlock cocked an eyebrow.
"Stop what?" he said.
John gestured vaguely with one hand.
"Stop all of this."
Sherlock leaned back.
"I'm not doing anything, John," he said.
"Yes. That's my point."
"Then your point is poorly made. What is it you'd like me to do? I haven't any cases at the moment, and there's nothing for me at the morgue. I have several things I can do here. Which would you like me to work on?"
John's eyes blazed.
"I'm not talking about work, Sherlock. I want you to stop pretending your mum didn't die."
Anger flashed in Sherlock and he flared his nostrils, his body tensing to push himself to his feet, but he stayed sitting, forcing his muscles to cooperate.
"I am not pretending any such thing," he growled, his voice low, dangerous.
"Yes, you are," John countered. "You let yourself face it once, Sherlock, once, and only because I think you caught yourself unawares. You're avoiding it. You're avoiding the whole bloody thing! You're clinging so tightly to your routines right now that you can barely do anything else, and you don't even have a routine! You destroyed your goddamn violin and you won't even let yourself be upset about that!"
Sherlock put his left arm on the table, mirroring John's pose.
"And what would you have me do, John, hmm? Moan about the flat and weep? Take up sleeping like you did after Harry died? Perhaps I could start smoking again? I know you'd love that."
"Sherlock, I almost don't bloody care what you do, as long as you do something!"
"And what I'm choosing to do isn't good enough, John?"
John smacked the table hard, open-palmed, and Sherlock nearly jumped, biting down on the reaction fast.
"No, it bloody well isn't!" John snapped, verging on yelling.
Good, part of Sherlock's brain thought.
"Because you aren't doing anything, Sherlock! You're enforcing nothing on yourself! I know you aren't like me! I don't expect you to sleep all day and get caught in crying or react like I did, but just because I did those things doesn't mean you can't! What, do you suppose if you actually let yourself go for a moment, you might be dropping down to my level? That it means that you've somehow failed because you can compare your reaction to mine? It isn't the same, Sherlock! If you actually cried, it doesn't mean you're acting like I did! It means you're acting like you need to!"
"I do not need to mope about blubbering, John," Sherlock hissed, leaning forward somewhat.
"Is that what you think I did?" John shot back.
Sherlock blinked, startled.
"No, of course not," he said quickly, vehemently. "Harry's death was exhausting for you. She killed three other people. You were left to take care of everything. It's not unexpected. Nor is it the same."
John's glare was hard, bright, like ice.
"And you? I didn't even like Harry, Sherlock, and I was a wreck! Your mum died. She died."
Sherlock almost repressed a wince.
"I know," he said coolly. "I was there. You may remember."
"Yes," John snarled. "I do. And now you're here. Only you're pretending you're not and I'm sick of it! Sick of bloody dancing around you, waiting for something to snap! And not your violin! Dammit, Sherlock, is that how bloody bad it is? That you can't even do this anymore because she liked it? Because she taught you how to play?"
He felt himself go cold.
"Stop it, John," he warned.
"No!" John yelled, the sudden volume startling Sherlock. "No! What are you going to do, ignore it forever, take away something you loved doing with her because she's gone? Are you going to punish yourself for – what? For nothing? Because it's bloody easier than admitting to it?"
"No," Sherlock snapped.
It wasn't easier.
It took so much effort.
So much effort that if he stopped doing it, he had no idea what might happen.
That was terrifying.
John didn't understand that, not at all.
"So what?" John demanded. "So you just ignore it? Do you think it will just go away?"
He stopped, fixing Sherlock with a glare that make the detective uncomfortable, made him want to stand and move away, but which kept him pinned.
Like Sibyl had been able to pin him, with her eyes.
"Do you think if you ignore it, you'll be able to just forget that you loved her?" John asked, softly.
Sherlock growled and pulled away, but John grabbed his arm and Sherlock retaliated, leaning forward, snagging John in a hard kiss. The doctor didn't even hesitate, kissing back, fisting a hand into Sherlock's hair, holding him there, invading Sherlock's mouth roughly so that, even when Sherlock wanted to pull away, to breathe, he could not.
He cupped John's face, kissing back, and John's face was wet, but no, it wasn't.
John drew back suddenly and Sherlock gasped, curling into him. He shook his head, no, he did not want this, but he shuddered and John's arms were around his shoulders.
"No," he growled to himself, but his voice shook, without his permission, without him intending it.
"It won't stop," John said. "Not if you keep trying to stop it."
"It has to," Sherlock managed. John was wrong, he must be wrong, these things could be dealt with. They were not in control of him. That was not how it worked. It was him who was in control. It must be. It was how his life functioned.
"It won't," John promised.
No, Sherlock thought, No.
He screwed his eyes shut, shaking his head. John had a hand in his hair now, the other on the back of Sherlock's neck and it was his own face that was wet, he realized. Again. No, he would not do this again. Once had been enough. More than enough.
"It won't," John repeated.
"Why?" Sherlock asked, the word tearing out him, anguished. He tried to stop it, but he couldn't now, as if John's words had changed everything, made it all too difficult.
Why wouldn't it stop?
Why could he not do this?
Why did she die?
"I don't know," John murmured, pressing his lips against Sherlock's hair.
"No," Sherlock whispered again.
"I've got you," John replied and it was too much, just enough, what he did not want, but precisely what he needed. He dug his fingers into John's hips, leaving bruises, because his mother was dead, she was gone, there was so much emptiness and no more music and only this sucking, gaping silence where she'd always been, and John, John was the only thing that was real, the only thing that helped, the only thing that felt good, the only thing that made any sense at all in the face of all of this.