It's like coming out of a coma to find that time has gone on without you and that you will have to reinvent yourself in this new world that is as alien and frightening as a different universe.
He wanted to believe he could step over the intervening three years as through a wormhole, ready to dust down his quality suit and tighten his scarf.
John has changed. He cannot return, happily, to Sherlock's side.
"I thought you died. I watched you die."
"No, you didn't. You saw a struggle. You accepted half of the information as the whole."
"Then is he dead? Did you see proof?"
"Yes. I touched his body. It was cold.
"I closed his eyes," Sherlock says with finality.
"And you?" he asks as though they were old classmates exchanging pleasantries with little now in common.
"I'm married now. We have a daughter, Anna. Do you want to see a picture?"
John nods. He's not surprised. "Well, I'll see you around then?" but he knows he won't.
"Yes," says Sherlock. "That would be nice…sometime."
John walks away from the bench where Sherlock's still sitting.
The text on delayed-send arrives late:
Sent: 20:23 John, if you ever trusted me in anything, trust me in this. DO NOT FOLLOW ME. I can handle him without you, and if I can't then it's better that you not be here to do something foolhardy. Mycroft has made provisions if it goes wrong.
The sense of abandonment is so strong that John fears it's all been a dream and that he will wake up back in the bedsit.
Sent: 20:24 John, I hope that you know how much your friendship has meant to me.
There is before the pool and after the pool. Everyday, every single day after, there is a moment where John cannot believe that they are not actually in pieces across wet, tiled floor and that the rest is just a vision in the moment before death.
When did they start to communicate without words? Always? Is that what people saw?
The tiniest of motions, unseen by Moriarty. The look they share says 'If I fall, I fall with you.'
Through the puzzles, the ones from Moriarty, it seems sometimes that Sherlock is an alien from another planet, or perhaps another dimension where things obey different laws. And sometimes John can pull him back and other times John just wants to leave him there. Perhaps it has always been like that.
It's not when he shoots the cabbie. That's not the pivotal moment, though you would think it was, if you were telling the story. It's walking to a perfectly ordinary but good Chinese restaurant (that you can tell from the bottom third of the door handle apparently, though John is damned if he knows how) when John realizes that Sherlock Holmes overrides every piece of his previous life.
Sherlock is magnetic, repelling and attracting in equal measure. There is an orbit around him and you are either allowed in or you are kept out completely. With three words, John steps into that space. "Oh God, yes."
It's like that movie, "Sliding Doors" with that actor from "Four Weddings and a Funeral." If he hadn't walked through the park that day. If Mike hadn't recognized him. If he hadn't said that he needed a place to live. In a different universe there is a different John Watson living a different life.
John sits in his bedsit and wonders why he's still here. He returned from the grave and he's a ghost among the living and an exile from the land of the dead.