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Ariane DeVere
Sherlock fic: Didn’t we almost make it 
11th-Feb-2013 12:57 pm
CP - why why why why
Title: Didn’t we almost make it
Author: Ariane DeVere
Word count: 888
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to way more powerful and wealthy people than me.

Warnings: Angst, heartbreak, heartache, hope, love (not necessarily in that order). Icon says it all.

Summary: The revelation that Sherlock is alive is the first trace of hope that John has had in a long time. Now he waits in a park to meet with his best friend again.

Didn’t we almost make it

Standing in the gardens some distance away from the cedar tree, John realises that he is more calm than he ought to be. Somehow it’s as if he has always known that this moment would come. All the grief he has gone through in the last months, even when it threatened to send him insane with anguish, when the nightmares haunted him so frequently that he dreaded falling asleep – all of it has faded as if it never mattered. He feels as if his entire life has been leading to this. Nothing prior to this moment matters. Nothing ever mattered until the arrival of the anonymous text yesterday morning.

“I had no choice. You were in mortal danger. I will explain everything and I WILL make you forgive me. Friday 11 a.m., Cedrus Atlantica – you know the one.”

The Inns of Court. He and Sherlock took a short cut through the Inner Temple Gardens (“The Walks, John – they’re called the Walks”) at the Inns of Court only a couple of weeks before Sherlock’s death and John had been puzzled when Sherlock stopped at a cedar tree and repeatedly told him its Latin name while claiming that a similar tree had grown in the garden of his childhood home. It seemed like strange behaviour at the time, out of character. Now, of course, it makes sense – as does the realisation that Sherlock had been planning his disappearance for some time before the day that almost destroyed John’s sanity. But it doesn’t matter any more. Nothing matters except the approaching event. Everything is focused on the next few minutes, because now at last his life will become complete.

So he stands and waits. He has arrived early and taken a position some distance from the cedar, wanting to see Sherlock arrive, wanting one moment to himself before their lives intertwine again. He has missed his friend so much, mourned him, grieved for his loss – but more than that, Sherlock’s absence has been like a physical pain inside his body, relentless, always there, not fading with time, a permanent reminder of the missing part of his life. The knowledge that Sherlock is alive fills him with joy and hope, convinces him that the world is not as cruel as he had started to believe, shows him that there is still beauty and love and happiness to be had, encourages him to realise that he has a life to live and that it can be marvellous.

Sensing rather than seeing movement, he turns his head. And there he comes along the path, that stride so recognisable, the shape of his outline so familiar, the coat billowing around his legs in the breeze. John’s heart swells at the sight. He is almost there, almost home – just one more minute and everything will fall into place at last.

Sherlock stops beside the cedar and shoves his hands deeper into his pockets, hunching his shoulders and lowering his chin into his scarf as he stamps his feet against the cold ground. He looks older, thinner, more fragile than when John last saw him, and John aches for all that he must have gone through in their time apart. As Sherlock huffs out a long plume of breath, John watches him, remembering him, memorising him, loving him. It’s time.

He starts along the path which runs past the cedar, his certainty growing with every step. He is almost there. Almost home. And then Sherlock raises his head and their eyes meet, and the permanent clench of pain in John’s chest loosens and seems to melt out of his body. As Sherlock turns to face him, John can see the same tension beginning to drain from his friend’s face. It’s as if all the anguish they have felt while they have been apart is pouring out and meeting in the space between them, melding, blending together, each neutralising the other as all the negative feelings dissolve and dissipate until a single new entity is born – something better, more pure, perfect, which seems to swirl joyfully before it lifts into the air and allows them to really see each other, allows John to see Sherlock’s look of hope, of peace, of love. There is no more ‘almost’. Everything is now. Sherlock’s smile is calm but his eyes are full of relief and gladness and his hands twitch in his pockets as if he wants to take them out and reach towards his friend. John’s own fingers flex in response but he forces himself to keep them at his sides as he walks closer.

Now. Everything is now. John returns Sherlock’s smile, letting him see his forgiveness, his faith, his love; and Sherlock’s head lifts higher in understanding and his smile widens, becomes that grin which he only ever shared with John. John can see Sherlock’s body relax as he waits for John to reach him and to take his place by his side once more. It is one moment of pure perfection, and there can never be another like it again.

And so John ... John turns away and keeps on walking, only slowing his pace momentarily to take his phone from his pocket and drop it into a rubbish bin before raising his head and continuing onwards and out of the park. He does not look back.


Author’s Note: The story’s title is taken from a song I first heard back in the 1980s and which I suddenly remembered while thinking about writing this story. The song seemed appropriate, and although the version I have a (very bad) recording of is an a capella version by a barbershop chorus (shout-out to the Roker Peers of Harmony!), the best alternative rendition I have been able to find is this one by Frank Sinatra.

I’m not sure I should be thanking anyone for helping with this story, because they might get beaten up for assisting me to drag it out of my head where it had lurked for a very long time while muttering, “Don’t write me; don’t write me; don’t write me.” However, credit where it’s due, so I acknowledge atlinmerrick’s advice when I asked whether she had any ideas about where there’s a cedar tree near Baker Street.

There had to be a cedar. As far as I was concerned, the story could not take place anywhere other than near a cedar. Basically the core of this story is shamelessly ripped from a short story which my best friend at school wrote when we were about seventeen years old. It tore me to bits back then, and I kept a copy of it which I’m not sure she even knows I’ve got. That story also took place at a cedar tree – a real-life one in a park near where she lived and which we were both terribly fond of – and so when I realised some months ago that her story could be used as a basis for a (non-)reunion between Sherlock and John, there was no way that I could write it without the cedar. I figured that the world expert on London was Atlin and asked if there were cedars in Regent’s Park. She said that to the best of her knowledge there weren’t, and within a startlingly few minutes came back to tell me where there is a cedar within a sensible distance of Baker Street.

Whether I shall ever confess to my friend – with whom I tend to only communicate on birthdays and at Christmas – that I have plagiarised the hell out of her story, is something I need to think about for a bit longer. But then I’ll probably be killed to death with sticks by my readers shortly, so she need never know ...

Thanks also to Ki, my work colleague who wandered into my office a few days ago just as I was flailing to myself over the fact that I had finally finished the bloody thing – she was a little bemused that anyone should be so bouncy at work but when I told her what I’d done she asked to read it, and her reaction at the end made me realise that the ending wasn’t quite clear enough, so I made some revisions. So if anyone needs to be killed by my readers, it’s probably her. ;-)
11th-Feb-2013 01:21 pm (UTC)
(*gross crying*)
Beautiful. It took all my breath away in the last paragraph, as you clearly intended, killing me. But dying is boring, so here I am to say, no, SHOUT at you, that IT. IS. BEAUTIFUL.
(*MORE gross crying*)

Sigh. Thank you. To be honest, I love crying because of stories. And the build, THE BUILD!!! (more shouting, good thing I am here in Brazil and you can't hear me). The building tension of the expected hope, and then - shattering all to pieces. Sorry, my native language is not English, and all the adjectives I know seem so flat - but this is a gorgeous, beautiful story.
Thank you.
11th-Feb-2013 02:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you, darling! I ought to say that I'm sorry I made you cry, but I'm not really because that was - after all - the response I was aiming for!

I agree with you - there's nothing quite like a good cry at the end of a story. I'm so happy you liked this one. Thanks for commenting.

*sends tissues*
11th-Feb-2013 02:06 pm (UTC)
Read this at work. Am now in the toilets trying to muffle the sobs. I'm not going to kill you though, I'm going to hug you. And then make your shirt wet with my tears.
Achingly beautiful and painfully real. Thank you!
11th-Feb-2013 02:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, honey, I'm so (sort of) sorry. I know what it's like reading either hot porn or heartbreaking fic at work and then trying to behave like normal.

So I'm sorry, but I'm also really happy that I've had that effect on you. You may make my shirt as soggy as you wish! Thanks so much!

Edited at 2013-02-11 02:36 pm (UTC)
11th-Feb-2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
My God! So sad! The only thing preventing me from an ugly bout of crying is that I hold on to the belief that if there's anyone who can track John down again, phone or no phone, it's Sherlock. And if there's anyone unwilling to take "no" for an answer, that's also Sherlock. I know this is not what our gentle authoress intends, but hey, this is a new shirt and I refuse to sob all over it.

You've built a perfect silence here. Nobody says anything out loud during the whole of the story. There's no sound whatsoever, unless we're to imagine the one that comes from Sherlock stamping his feet. You create the kind of stillness that only comes with snowfall.

This is a little jewel of a story, an icicle made of tears. Well done.
11th-Feb-2013 03:44 pm (UTC)
Well now I'm sulking. I thought we were good enough friends that you'd be happy to ruin a new shirt for me! *pouts*

Thanks for such a lovely review - I'm really touched. I love "an icicle made of tears" in particular.

11th-Feb-2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written - that whole section from 'Almost home' to 'Everthing is now'... just breathtakingly gorgeous.

I'm so glad you managed to unblock your block and get this story written, I know it hasn't been easy but so very, very worthwhile.

Naturally, I demand a sequel!
11th-Feb-2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
Don't you throw the 's' word at me, young lady. I don't write sequels, remember? (*furtively shoves Courting Unending and Dreamer's Awakening behind the sofa*)

Thanks for the encouragement in dragging this sod out of my head - I thought it would never get written.

11th-Feb-2013 04:32 pm (UTC) - Sometimes writer's block has its good points. *looks at you sternly*
titre ou description

I have a confession : when I saw the "Hey Ariane has updated her journal" notification I strongly suspected it was your my-readers-are-going-to-kill-me story and I first looked at the last lines. Then I had a "BUT WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY" moment. So I read the entire fic. I had a "Dammit dammit dammit" moment at "Angst, heartbreak, heartache, hope, love (not necessarily in that order)". And now I'm having another (but more heartfelt) "BUT WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY" moment. Well, I intellectually understand that Sherlock's return is for John an occasion to completely turn the page but emotionally I'm all, "NO NO NO JOHN YOU'VE GOT IT ALL WRONG!".

I think John is mad. I think you're a horribly cruel person. But, er, in a nice way, okay? :D You're like Sherlock and we're like Molly in the Christmas scene, in Scandal in Belgravia: you show us how clever you are but you leave us sobbing like crazy. Do you remember the happy times when you were writing Departure? Ah, that was a wonderful reunion fic! *is not at all biased because of her love for fluff, really not at all*

BUT I'm not really sobbing because I know that Sherlock will track John and will get him to listen to reason by snogging him senseless and John will understand he was so wrong and they'll have amazing sex and they'll live happily ever after, the end. Ah, I feel so much better now.

I'm not saying it's a brilliant and very powerful fic, but only because I don't want to encourage you to write more angsty stuff. But it is a brilliant and very powerful fic. Damn you.
11th-Feb-2013 05:04 pm (UTC) - Re: Sometimes writer's block has its good points. *looks at you sternly*
I support your idea for the sequel.

Sherlock: John, wait! I'll sleep with you!
John (under his breath): Ohhh, you're a bad man.
Sherlock: What? Does this mean you'll...
John: Slow the hell down. I have a bad leg.
11th-Feb-2013 04:53 pm (UTC)
This is so strange. I don't understand it at all. Not your fault though, I guess it's the Asperger in me having one of his bad days:)

It reminds me, vaguely, of Thomas Aquinas (I bet no-one ever mentioned him near your writing!) and his discussion on the possibility versus the actuality. Like both of them are a form of existence, but one negotiating the other. And of the two of them, the possibility could be perfect, the actuality just somewhat less.

I apologize if I'm not understandable right now. That book of him was written in Latin and I am terrible at translating Latin into English through Czech:)
12th-Feb-2013 12:45 pm (UTC)
I think you've summed it up quite nicely: "the possibility could be perfect, the actuality just somewhat less." The way I see this particular scenario is that John instinctively realises that if he stays and lets Sherlock explain, and they continue their lives together, the perfection of the moment of reunion will be spoiled. Also, even though John forgives Sherlock, he will never forget what he did to him, and that will always hang over them and damage their relationship. They can never go back to the way they were before Reichenbach, and John would prefer to remember when they were happier, and that moment of perfection in the park, than live an unhappier, less perfect life which may eventually drive them apart.

(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
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12th-Feb-2013 12:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you. You can probably understand why I was reluctant to let it out of my head: much as I like writing a story with an unexpected twist at the end, I wasn't keen on breaking everyone's (including my own) heart.
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12th-Feb-2013 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. I'm sorry about your chest. Keep whispering to yourself, "It's just that nasty Ari and her twisty horrid endings."
11th-Feb-2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
Gutted. That is all.
12th-Feb-2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
Sorry!! I love the icon you chose!
11th-Feb-2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
Well, I can't kill you ... because after reading this story, I died myself of a bleeding heart. And so I am a zombie now - and if zombie-me would kill you, you would become zombie-alive and so not really dead ;)

On the other hand, and to comfort my poor heart, I decide to live in a world where this story, too, will have a happy ending, somehow, somewhere, even if it's only in my own imagination (although it would be of course a much brighter world if the happy ending would be written).

I have the greatest respect for you, because you wrote this.
12th-Feb-2013 12:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much for your last line in particular. I'm sorry for your current not-deadness, and I do hope you get better soon! (Can you get better from being a zombie?!)

If it's any comfort, I almost died myself after realising that this story wanted to be written. If I were you, I would comfort myself by muttering, "It's DeVere and her twisty endings," and just think of it as a bizarro alt-universe where nasty things happen. It would never happen to our boys. *nods convincingly*
11th-Feb-2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
Hu. So, I love it! But it didn't make me cry. It's beautiful and John's action makes so much sense that it does not make me sad.
12th-Feb-2013 12:34 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's not the reaction I was expecting from you; I thought you'd be yelling at me, "What are you doing?!" in your unique way! I'm glad it didn't make you cry; and thanks for understanding that - in this particular scenario - that's just how it had to happen.

Thanks, honey.
12th-Feb-2013 08:34 am (UTC)
but.. but... *sob* this was beautiful and wonderful and tragic. on one hand, you want Sherlock to run after him, but then you see John's point of view and there comes a time when you're just done. brilliant.
12th-Feb-2013 12:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks so much! It's a relief that people are understanding why John does what he does. I fretted that everyone would just hate me and say that he would never do that.

Well - they probably do still hate me!
12th-Feb-2013 09:11 am (UTC)
Having read it I now understand your “not necessarily in that order” warning . . .

It’s great to read a story for which the ending can’t be predicted. There was such a beautiful build-up . . . ”...that stride so recognisable, the shape of his outline so familiar, the coat billowing around his legs in the breeze. John’s heart swells at the sight.”

and such hope . . . ”...until a single new entity is born – something better, more pure, perfect, which seems to swirl joyfully before it lifts into the air...”

And then – oh John! - ”He does not look back.”

Beautifully done, and I think rather than plagiarising your friend’s work, you might look on it as a tribute – something that’s been simmering in your head for so long that it was just waiting for exactly the right moment to be used.

Thank you for sharing it with us.
12th-Feb-2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for such a lovely comment. I'm very relieved that readers aren't just hurling abuse or a long string of "no no no no" at me, and I'm also relieved that people do seem to understand that John's doing what's right for him in this particular scenario.

Based on the responses I've had so far, I might just print all this out and send it to my friend ... and then she'll probably kill me instead!
12th-Feb-2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
Please can you all ignore the last para in the Author's Note!

All I have to say is that DeVere is a very, very talented writer. It's great to have someone with so much creativity so close to hand in a stuffy creative free workplace!

Keep it up DeVere.
12th-Feb-2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
 photo This-Sherlock.jpg is Ki, ladies and gentlemen. She's the one to direct your rage at. Or not, seeing as her thoughts may have made the ending a little more acceptable and understandable.

Bless you, honey!

Edited at 2013-02-12 04:19 pm (UTC)
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13th-Feb-2013 01:35 pm (UTC)
Oh good grief, it really does look like a prelude to Emma's story, doesn't it? Thanks for mentioning it; I'm now following it keenly!
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