The Big Day.
The day that everyone had been waiting for, excited about, preparing for, anticipating the beginning of.
The Big Day that John and Mary were getting married.
And Sherlock had been terrified.
The detective had known the first day that he had arrived back in London and surprised John in that swanky restaurant after his disappearing act that he had lost him, lost his John. Mary Morstan... The beautiful, charming, witty cat-lover. She had stolen his John away. And that pain, it cut through him like a scorching hot blade, digging deep into his chest and burrowing into his very core where it refused to budge. It had shaken him. John was his constant. His conductor of light. The man that had saved him. It was Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The inseparable pair. You could not have one without the other. The very thought of returning to a life without his counterweight and counterpart, the heart of their 'team', had made him feel instantly nauseous. He wanted to be happy for John. In fact, he was happy. But the jealousy, the hurt, the loss... It outweighed any positivity he was feeling towards his current predicament.
Putting on his best man suit that morning, the words 'into battle' could not have been more suiting for his mood throughout the day. From the moment he had set foot out of 221B and made for the church, to the moment he made his extravagantly long speech, to saving Major Sholto, to the moment that he retreated from the wedding after-party early... Not even the buzz, the adrenaline high, of solving two cases in one could save him from the chaos inside of him. His emotions, thoughts and feelings had raged like a maelstrom. They were untameable. The storm tore at him, tugged at his heart, made him short of breath and his vision swim. It tore down the walls of his mind palace, disrupted the equilibrium that he had always been used to before he had become Sherlock-plus-John-Watson, and he was faced with the pure-white pain of horror as he realised what was happening; He was fracturing, slowly but surely. He was coming undone. John had done this. One man. One stupidly dull and ordinary man--
That wasn't right.
Because John wasn't ordinary.
With his ridiculous jumpers and soft, reassuring voice, silver hair and kaleidoscopic eyes.
With the way he smelt like a mix of coffee, tea, rich tea biscuits and of the pine-scented body wash he'd just started using - perhaps Mary had bought it for him. Probably. It suited him.
With the way Sherlock had catalogued each and every single tilt of the man's head, the creases around his eyes, the exact curve of his mouth when he smiled at something distasteful, or found something funny, or commented on Sherlock's deductions.
With the fact he was at the exact right height for Sherlock to kiss him comfortably, their two bodies being able to mold with one another's perfectly, for him to cup John's head back and envelope him in all the adoration and love that Sherlock felt and had harbored for him.
John was his rock in a storm, the buffer that protected him from the cruelty of others. He was the one man that didn't see the label 'freak' imprinted on Sherlock's forehead. He didn't look at him as if he were another species. He didn't treat him as if he were something dangerous, something that was moments away from self-destructing, didn't use him for his genius. John made him feel human. But most importantly in Sherlock's eyes, he made him feel loved. He felt wanted. Physically wanted. The heartbreak he had heard in John's voice screaming his name as he fell from St Bart's, the way he stammered and trembled at his grave... the agony in his eyes when Sherlock reappeared after two whole years of silence... He had felt needed. John had missed him.
But now Sherlock wasn't needed. Not in the same way, at least. John had Mary. Domestic bliss, as Mycroft had called it. And since John was happy, Sherlock couldn't bring himself to intervene, no matter the pain it caused him.
And so, with December, 1963 playing as his outro music, Sherlock had made his leave from the crushing agony of watching John so happy without him and began the lengthy walk towards the main road. Where was he going? He didn't have a clue. John had that effect on him; he could lose all train of thought with just a simple glance from the man. He wondered if John had ever noticed. Now it was too late to ask.
Tugging his scarf tighter around his jaw and flipping his coat collar up, Sherlock had walked for at least fifteen minutes in catatonic silence as he deliberated where to go now. 221B wasn't the place he wanted to be, not when he felt this way. Not with the lingering scent of John draped all around the flat, with his doctor's chair still positioned across from Sherlock's own. The memories would be too painful for even him to bear. No, he had to have a breather. He needed to forget, even if it was only for a short while. Sherlock's eyes widened, his back straightening, as he found himself craving the one thing he had not touched in what felt like centuries, craved the euphoria, the high-- Only to be interrupted by the chiming of his phone in his coat pocket.
With a heavy sigh, Sherlock retrieved his phone and skimmed his eyes over the message, grimacing slightly.
Don't do anything stupid.
Eyes narrowing from the agony of the fact that he was clearly so predictable that his brother had already preemptively deduced what he would want to do this evening, Sherlock sent a message back.
Don't be an idiot, Sherlock, it isn't very becoming.
Where are you?
I don't see why it concerns you.
Oh, Sherlock, stop being such an infant.
Of course it concerns me. You're my brother, despite everything.
And I know you, more than you'd be willing to accept.
Sherlock didn't respond. He numbly gazed down at his phone, his legs working on autopilot, as the sounds of rushing cars met his ears, indicating he was nearing the main road. A few seconds later he heard the distinctive hum of an idling car and, as he lifted his attention from his phone, he spotted the familiar Jaguar parked up on a nearby curb. His steps slowed until he halted several paces away from it, schooling his expression as best he could. After a few moments of blank staring, phone still poised in his hand and casting odd shadows across his face, Sherlock watched as Mycroft climbed gracefully out of the car.
For a few moments, it seemed that all they were capable of doing was vacantly watching each other. Though that wasn't entirely true. In Sherlock's case, he was internally tearing himself apart with the prospect of never being able to make John his and, in Mycroft's case, he was calculating the amount of time it would take for him to piece his brother back together and try and mend some of the damage that had been done.
And then Mycroft was walking towards him, the usual forceful and cold expression having been swapped with something almost alien to Sherlock. It was ... vacant, guarded, but there was something in the depths of those brown eyes that spoke the millions of words neither of them were willing to say in this moment.
"Get in the car, Sherlock," Mycroft instructed, his usually severe tone of voice having been softened by what Sherlock would have called sentiment. Had he been in the quip-remarking mood, he may very well have pointed it out. Instead, he merely dipped his head, put his phone away and allowed his elder brother to steer him towards the car. With each step that Sherlock took towards the car, he could feel his resolve beginning to crumble around him.
I love John Hamish Watson.
His lips began to tremble somewhat.
I love and have loved him.
There was a shimmering film over his vision but he remained firm.
I love him unlike I have ever loved anything before.
The shimmering film was threatening to spill over, the quivering of his bottom lip was worsening. Uncontrollably.
What am I without John Watson? His place is with me. It always has been, and always will be.
There was a strange weakness to his knees and the sounds of his feet walking over pavement seemed further and further away from him.
I love him with every atom, every fraction and neutron of my being, with every firebolt of thought that passes through my head, every racing heartbeat I feel when he enters the room, with every tremor in my hands when he smiles at me.
Fists clenched tightly. Heart rate had become erratic. His breathing was beginning to accelerate. Panic was setting in.
It's always Sherlock-Holmes-and-Doctor-Watson.
Never one without the other.
The shimmering film had thickened, frustratingly blocking his view with an impenetrable blur. Why was the car so far away?
I allowed feelings to govern me, for love to bloom in me...
And I have lost.
"John," Sherlock heard a voice moaning, a startling familiar voice he barely recognised as his own. The shimmering film had burst and there was a hot wetness beginning to pour down his cheeks. His knees had given out beneath him but he never hit the ground. Suddenly there were arms encasing him, holding him against another warm body to which Sherlock gravitated towards, his face finding it's home in the crook of a neck.
"Oh, Sherlock," cooed the soft voice of Mycroft, "I'm sorry." I'm sorry I couldn't protect you from this. I'm sorry I failed you.
Sherlock's shaking hands lifted to clutch tightly onto the elder Holmes' suit jacket that was already damp with tears, the two of them now crouched down on the pavement of the roadside. And suddenly they were little boys again, sat in the living room of their home after Redbeard had just been euthanized with a nine year old Sherlock curled up on a fifteen year old Mycroft's lap, the elder boy stroking Sherlock's curls with an unreadable but solemn expression on his face. Only now the pain was ten times more agonising. It dug deep lines into the younger Holmes' face, the normally so stoic and controlled detective now a quivering wreck encircled in Mycroft's arms.
And there they remained for what felt like eternity, with the lanky frame of Sherlock Holmes huddled against Mycroft's shoulder. The busy road beside them, with it's blaring horns and late-night traffic, was not enough to drown out the quiet and utterly heartbroken repetitions of John's name under Sherlock's breath, even as they had begun to quieten down - he had ultimately cried himself to near the point of exhaustion - to a mere murmur. But Mycroft didn't move. Even as his legs began to grow stiff underneath him and his arms began to ache from the strain of remaining wrapped tightly around Sherlock, feeling every shudder of the man's shoulders and every tear that dropped onto the collar of his shirt and dampened his suit jacket. "I'm sorry, little brother," he uttered, feeling the tension beginning to bleed out of Sherlock's form, his murmurs becoming soft and incoherent, until he went lax against his brother's torso. Mycroft tilted his head slowly to the side to inspect Sherlock's sleeping face, his eyes red raw from his sobbing with the sparkling trails of tears still etched on his cheeks, before he straightened up and heaved a quiet, soft sigh and lifted his gaze skyward. "Oh, what a night ..."