He decides this as the sounds of the festivities fade behind him, as the noise of John and Mary Watson’s celebration fades into the night. He hates weddings and all their sentimentality, all the social nicities and feelings that must be involved.
It takes him seven minutes and fourteen seconds to make it back to the road, another three minutes and twenty-two seconds to hail a taxi. Forty-nine revolting minutes in the back of a cab, previous occupant the owner of a cat with a bladder problem, before he is back in his flat at Baker Street.
Ignoring the state of his tuxedo, and yet refusing to remove it, Sherlock throws himself onto the sofa, and contemplates the cigarettes that are currently tucked into his slipper. But the promise of nicotine pales in comparison to the temptation that has taken hold in his mind. The temptation that, if he were to be honest, had been in his mind since he laid eyes on Mary’s maid of honour.
He refuses, stares at the ceiling, contemplates the slipper again. Contemplates the pending clients, the wallpaper, the slipper again. He tosses on the sofa, and pointedly ignores the wealth of information in his mind palace, the myriad little puzzles, little bits of information tucked away that could divert him, the little bits about every wedding guest he had filed away.
Refuses, because he refuses to miss, refuses to admit what he wants to see.
He stays that way for seventeen minutes and twelve seconds, scowling at nothing, until the door knocks, and there is a quiet sigh as the door is pushed open. He knows who it is before he even looks.
“Mr. Holmes instructed I bring this back,” Mycroft’s assistant said, entering without being invited, setting his violin back in its customary spot. Sherlock isn’t surprised she’d been at the wedding, isn’t at all surprised that she was the one tasked by his brother to retrieve his violin. He says nothing to Mycroft’s assistant, and she leaves as quietly as she comes.
He hears her texting three steps down.
He waits another forty-one seconds before he springs up and picks up the violin.
He moves feverishly, tucking the violin under his chin, drawing the bow across the strings.
He plays the familiar pieces first, the music that comes to him when he wants to think. But as much as he hates to admit it, for once he does not want to think, because he knows what he wants to think of, who he wants to think of, and refuses to admit it.
So he begins to compose. Begins to play something new, pour his energies into it.
And it takes another three seconds before he realizes what he is playing.
Her eulogy. Her anthem.
And she is in front of him again. Her skin practically glowing in the faint light spilling through the windows of 221B. She smiles, and even in the dim light he knows her lips are blood red. “You had more than an hour to bother me,” he says, the sound of his violin fading from Baker Street but still resonating in his mind. “I’m busy now.”
“Seventy-seven minutes and twenty-nine seconds,” she corrects, her fingertips cool against his hand as she draws his bowing hand to his side. She feels utterly real in his mind palace, and he wonders idly how he can spin a memory so real, even in his mind palace. “I might have come sooner, if you’d begged.”
He sighs, sets bow and violin back down. He does not need to play, not anymore. The violin reverberates through his mind palace, every note of Her song resonating in his mind, and his feet move to the music.
She smirks, and when he looks down she is wearing a dress like Janine’s, but darker, a more regal purple, the fabric sleek against her curves.
“I never beg,” he says. It is a lie, of course. He begs her with his silence, he begs despite his refusal. There is a part of his mind that will always beg for her, that is completely caught by her. After all, he has devoted precious space in his mind palace to her. To the way the texture of her hair reflects light, the way fabric could drape off her curves. He knows it is a futile lie, which means she knows, and in the lie is submission, is bowing to the inevitable.
And with that submission she takes his hand, sets his hand on her waist (as warm and solid as if she were real and in his flat rather than in his mind palace). She moves and he finds himself falling into the dance with her, into the movements of the melody playing in his head.
It’s fitting, he thinks. This is how he ought to be, alone, untouched, uninvolved. Taking refuge in his mind.