driving all nature
for my bae @totheverybestoftimesjohn <3 (also, sorry)
The moon shines like a spotlight on the ripples. The end of the game. The final act.
John knows what’s coming. He’s already shivering.
He clutches at the jagged rock wall. He knows it’s useless. It’s fifty feet high, and his hands scrabble at the sharp pebbles, slashing feeling into his frozen skin. The water’s up to his waist, and only rising.
John looks up, but the moonlight blinds him. He thinks he hears a shout, maybe a gunshot, but the well makes sound echo into something indiscriminate. Sherlock’s up there somewhere, but he can’t see him.
He can hear him though.
He can still hear him.
“I love you.”
Those three words. That’s it. Three words, not even spoken to him but to his reflection, though there was no doubt in John’s mind who they were for. Three words he’d spent days and nights imagining in that voice, and still been unprepared. Still couldn’t have imagined how he would breathe them out like the most blessed of prayers and the most sacred of confessions.
“I love you.”
Everything after that had been a blur – a gunshot, a shattering of glass, a frantic attempt at escape scrambling over the rocks, and before he knew it a searing blow to the back of his skull, then darkness. Then the water, and the moon.
It’s up to his chest now, sparkling silver, and John can feel his breath coming in deep sharp blasts, trying to push out his stone-cold lungs.
“Oh God,” escapes from his lips of its own free will. “Oh God, oh God oh God oh God…”
His hand shakes on the rock.
He’s going to die here.
The realization doesn’t make his heart pound, or scream at him out of his rattling mind. It just makes the water cut deeper under his skin, a tiny little knives of ice burrowing into his every pore and all remaining air squeezing itself from him.
He’d tried to shout, but the stone barely echoes back the whisper that comes out of him. His face is wet now too – warmer though, tears – and his throat is closing up.
The patterns of moonlight on the water flicker and waver as they rise up to his shoulders. John hates the way his eyes are drawn to them, the way they morph themselves into hearth fires and gentle warmth, the way the ripples pattern out the familiar walls of Baker Street, the way the swish and slosh of the rising tide creeps into John’s ears as soft violin strings and a low, reverent whisper, three words, over and over and over again…
An ear-splitting crack shoots its way down the well, and John raises his eyes to the heavens.
He’s not even sure if he makes any sound.
The water’s up to his neck.
Two cups of tea melt away from the sitting room table.
Up to his chin.
The sun streaming in through the windows switches off.
John takes a deep breath.
The smiling blue eyes vanish into the darkness.
The water paralyzes John. It’s so cold. His skin sings with a thousand needles of pain but he has to fight through it, he has to try, he has to stay afloat ….
“I love you.”
He pushes himself off the ground, arms flailing for air.
He can’t reach it.
“I love you.”
Panic seizes him at last, making him scream.
“I love you.”
John’s lungs fill with water.
Sherlock drops his gun and his breath explodes out of him.
That’s it. It’s over. Moriarty’s body tumbled off the cliff, the ghost of a laugh still on his upturned lips. Again. Sherlock didn’t stay to see it fall.
Moriarty gone, Smith gone, the woman known as Mary Morstan gone. Sherlock spares no thought for any of them
They’d hit him over the head, one of his men, the burly one, and Sherlock only just had time to see him fall before he was wrenched back to Moriarty, hadn’t seen what they’d done with him –
“John!” He screams again into the dark. He climbs over the rocks, and the moon answers only with a sickening white light.
Sherlock’s eyes dart over the landscape, shadows, all shadows, no light, no sound, just the dim ripple of waves reflecting the silence –
Ripples. Moonlight. The well.
He stumbles on his way to the edge of it, tearing the knees of his trousers and letting the rocks bite into his palms as he clutches the edge, and he can barely see past the blinding mirror of moonlight but the water is spilling calmly over the sides and there’s a shock of ghostly pale among the blackness that no waves could ever obscure.
Oh God, no.
In an instant Sherlock is tearing off his coat and jacket and diving in headfirst.
The cold knocks all sense of direction from him for a moment and his mind whirls to remember which way John was – he can’t see anything, can’t hear, can only feel, and that’s fading fast. His heart is still in his chest. Maybe its stopped. Sherlock doesn’t care. He tears and claws at the water until his hands land on fabric, on skin, and then he’s wrapping his arms around a strong chest and hauling up, up, up.
He’s heavy. Waterlogged. Limp. Sherlock is dimly surprised at his own strength for a split second. His head breaks the surface and he sucks in air and with every ounce of anything left in him he pushes John up onto the rocks and crawls up after him.
He cups John’s face in his hand. Skin too cold.
Lips blue. Not breathing.
And now Sherlock’s heart explodes in panic.
He strips John’s jacket open and presses down on his chest, hard.
“Come on, John…”
He counts the compressions with each of his own gasping breaths. One, two, three, up to thirty, and John’s still not breathing.
“No, no, John, no no no no no no…”
Sherlock touches his lips to John’s for the first time.
“Please, John, please…” he whimpers.
Chest compressions again, thirty beats, with steady hands, and another breath into his lungs that feels like a dagger in Sherlock’s heart because this is all wrong, it wasn’t supposed to be like this, it was supposed when they were safe, when they were finally home, when they were warm and together and John had had a chance to say it back…
“John, John, no, don’t do this, please don’t do this, please please oh God please…”
He can’t feel the crack in his voice or the tears dripping down onto John’s already-soaked skin, but he can feel the chill creeping up in his throat, ready to strangle him.
“Don’t go,” he whispers between John’s lips. “Please, don’t go, don’t leave me here.” His hands pound frantically on John’s chest. He can’t feel his heartbeat. “Please don’t die, please please don’t die, I love you, I love you, John, I love you, I love you, don’t go, please don’t go, I love you…”
Sherlock’s hands cradle John’s face, and he bends to kiss him properly.
“I love you.”
Three words, bursting in a sob from his frail lungs into John’s.
Suddenly he seizes under Sherlock’s hands. Spine arching. Pale skin stretching and furrowing.
Water splashes Sherlock’s lips.
John coughs and shudders, and Sherlock breaks himself out of his frozen shock and pulls him to roll over. He gasps and moans, nearly retches, empties his lungs, and breathes.
Tears spill afresh from Sherlock’s eyes.
“John?” he barely gasps, a hand on his shaking shoulders.
John convulses once more, then steadies, pulling in deep, uneven breaths.
“This isn’t…” John wheezes, and his hands are still trembling, but his eyes find Sherlock’s in the darkness, and somehow they still manage to shine. “This isn’t how I imagined you kissing me.”
And there’s a joy in his half-drowned face that makes Sherlock stop shivering as a half-laugh, half-sob bursts from his throat.
He can’t tell who moves first, because all that matters is that the next moment he’s holding John against his chest, gripping desperately at his soaked jacket as John buries his face in Sherlock’s neck.
“I love you,” Sherlock whispers again, because he’s said it now and he’s said it finally and he never wants to stop. “I’ve always loved you.”
It’s all he can hear, whispered back to him against his trembling lips, a chorus of I love you I love you I love you as John kisses him like he was always meant to.
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