This story was based on the song Talia by King Princess
The nightmares had come back. Not as graphic and real as when John had just come back from the war, but it was equally distressing to wake up sweaty and panting from dreams that brought back some of his worst experiences. Getting up and going to the kitchen now to get some water, would do him no good either, since he'd have to pass through the living room and see Sherlock's armchair, his decorations on the wall and his gunshots marking the wallpaper. In the kitchen, he'd open the fridge and find only normal fridge things. No dead body parts or chemical experiments. It would make things worse.
He'd buried him a month or two ago, but he never stopped wishing. "One more miracle" is what he'd asked for. He knew it was impossible, but so many things seemed impossible once, and Sherlock had just walked through them like it was nothing. John always expected to be surprised by Sherlock. But now, he knew even this was too much. He couldn't simply ask for someone to come back from the dead, just because he didn't know how to go on with his life without him.
No need to go to the kitchen to get something to drink, though. John sat by his bed and turned to his bedside table and next thing he knew, he had a bottle of cheap whisky in a hand and a shot glass on the other. As he poured his first drink, that he knew wouldn't be the last, he tried not to think about him and Sherlock running through London streets. But he knew that was no use. He was nearly asleep and completely sober, and at that state, he had no control over his memories.
The first drink gone, the second came right away, and realizing that those two drinks wouldn't be enough to drown any feelings at all, let alone Sherlock feelings, the third shot came so fast, a blink and he himself would have missed it.
John closed his eyes and
The laugh. The genuine laugh. Not the laugh of a high-functioning sociopath, but the one that came from his deep passions. Whenever he outdid someone, though it happened all the time, there was his feeling of accomplishment, and on John, of pride. The memory of Sherlock's laugh now burned John's throat more than whatever cheap whisky he could get his hands on, but that didn't stop him from filling the glass one more time and downing its content for the fourth time that night.
Whatever emotional charge that fourth cup had, it had come strong. The tears now came fast out of John's eyes, and he barely caught himself before he fell out of the corner of the bed he was sitting on. An incredible sight overcame him: the very aching desire of his heart and memories was there, at the foot of his bed.
Sherlock laughing. First, just his clever smile and knowing look. Then, a nearly manic laugh as he and John shared a funny memory or inside joke, that came from a terrible adventure they'd gone through together.
"That was the most ridiculous thing I have ever done" John had said, out of breath
"You invaded Afghanistan"
Sherlock was now laughing and panting at the foot of John's bed.
What a handsome ghost he was.
-Well, I didn't do that alone.- John repeated out loud, recalling what he'd said that night, though the ghost was already gone and he was alone again.
What the hell, four drinks and he was wasted.
A pathetic man with his pathetic grief and alcoholism.
"Would Sherlock live just to get wasted if I had died?" he couldn't help but ask himself. Of course. Even after he was long gone, John still looked up to Sherlock more than anyone else, and still wondered what the man would do in a situation. Except that now it hurt. A lot.
-Well, Sherlock got high all the time, almost dying frequently, he would have no right to reprehend me right now.
And there went the fifth shot.
He threw himself on the bed again, not wanting to have to support the great weight of standing up.
As he hit the pillow, he saw from the corner of his eye, someone laying next to him.
Finally, what he'd been waiting for all night.
-If I drink enough, I can lay down next to you. -He repeated , as the night ritual was completed once again.
He looked longingly at the pale face of the man he loved, but never admitted. He tried to take in his features, to live the moment. But the problem with getting drunk every night to have to see the ghost of the love of your life is that when you're drunk you never see right.You're never actually there. Guess that was the price to pay. To have Sherlock every night. To be able to see him there again, to almost feel as if nothing was wrong, as if nothing sucked, as if John didn't have a huge hole in his chest.
Was that really Sherlock? He couldn't tell. But as he half closed his eyes, and let his body feel the presence of the other man, it felt just like having Sherlock there. And that's what mattered.
-We both know that isn't true. - the raspy voice of the ghost said.
-What? - John opened his eyes, expecting not to see the ghost there, and then be able to return to his hazy drunken dream
-We both know what you said isn't true.- The ghost repeated
But what had he said? He'd said many things that night. Wished for many things.Lately, he had been talking a lot when he was alone. But what could he mean?
Then, John looked at the ghost and followed his gaze to the bottle of whisky. Then, he remembered. Remembered the only thing he'd actually said that night, the memory coming clear, as if Sherlock had pulled it out of John's brain just to hold it in front of his eyes. Like he did on his own mind palace.
He could see a sad little blonde man, in his dirty pajamas, holding a glass full of alcohol, his eyes empty and tired.
"Well, Sherlock got high all the time, almost dying frequently, he would have no right to reprehend me right now."
Sherlock, laying next to him, looked sad too. But not his kind of sad. He looked sad for John, sad for this thing that John felt, and how it consumed him. This thing that maybe couldn't even be called sadness anymore, the great proportion it had acquired. The pain of loving someone, but not loving them right, and then, of losing them.
But was the ghost of Sherlock right? To be fair, when he was alive, he did do a lot of drugs. To the point of danger. Still, whatever he meant by that substance abuse, it wasn't what John was doing now. It wasn't on the same level of self-destruction. Sherlock's was a careless self-destruction, as if it was the means to an end. John's was not. Getting shitfaced, vomiting, passing out, not doing anything but drink and sleep, that was a clear wish for death, and even on Sherlock's worst days, he wouldn't have gone so far, so low. So pathetic.
-I loved you. - The ghost said quietly - I loved you too. Please don't do this.
That was more than John could have expected from a hallucination. He wondered if that had been a hallucination at all. But he'd been so drunk, he'd fallen asleep at some point, not remembering what had passed between that moment and the beginning of his sleep.
On the following day, he woke up feeling terribly hangover, but he'd grown accustomed to the feeling.
He decided to brave his way from the bedroom to the kitchen, to get some water.
Trying to ignore the painful memories the living room decoration would bring him, his eyes fell right on the telephone of the apartment. That pain, he had already overcome. That hope for one call. He'd held on to it for a long time, but now he knew better. At least, that's what he told himself. He told himself he was maybe one day going to feel better and be happy again, but so far, no luck.
As he cleared his mind of his past thoughts and let the water try its best to weaken his terrible hangover, an unquiet thought reached him again.
What would Sherlock do if John had died?
Would he have gone mad? Drank until he drowned or overdosed on cocaine?
Would he suffer a little and then go back to his normal life? Would he move on?
No matter how hard John thought about it, he couldn't imagine it. He couldn't imagine Sherlock's life without him, as he couldn't live his life without Sherlock.
John spent the rest of day feeling more ghostly than the proper ghost that had visited him the night before, he couldn't get those burning questions out of his head, which only made him more confused and miserable.
These complicated feelings.
That's why throughout the day, John was always longing for the night, when he'd get so crazy he'd see things. See people. Or just one specific person. The only one he needed in his life. The one he couldn't have.
As the day passed on a blur, the night came, and exasperated for his relief, John started drinking right when he got home, not even waiting for the nightmares to get him first.
He drank, and drank, and sooner rather than later, he was wasted. And his heart was not so heavy, and his mind was not so inhospitable, and his bed was not so empty.
He tried to cup Sherlock's face with his hands, but he was so numb he couldn't feel a thing.
He tried again, and this time, there it was, the cold soft skin he'd always longed for.
The ghost smiled faintly as they both laid side by side on John's bed, the drinks forgotten, the lights all turned off, the shorter man's face creating a smile that hadn't been seen in ages, the taller man going back to his impassive complexion, but paler. Their hands were linked and at that moment, it seemed like everything was going to be fine on the upstairs bedroom of 221B Baker Street.