Word Count: 600-700
Warnings: Established Character Death
Summary: Written for this prompt on the kinkmeme: After Reichenbach, John sometimes forgets, when he wakes up, that Sherlock isn't there. And remembering gets harder all the time.
The married couple next door had retired and moved to Sussex a year ago, and John hated his new neighbor. Which was strange.
It was strange for a number of reasons, one being that she was sweet, unobtrusive - a medical student, in fact, and that should've been enough for John to talk to her, even a little. You met her on a Tuesday, a jug of juice crooked into her arm like a small child. You heard "Just started" and "Mary." Then you heard "I'm sorry" and "Mrs. Hudson told me about" and everything after that became lost in static.
However, it was primarily strange because he didn't hate his neighbors; he wasn't the type to hate anyone. Untrue, anymore. There's one man, one name, and he's gone too, but the hate isn't. He was not unfriendly, certainly not acerbic. He was not "Mrs. Hudson's difficult tenant." But technically you are, aren’t you? She comes up every other Sunday, and you reminisce, because you can only reminisce what's not here anymore. You're her only flatmate, so it stands to reason you'd be her most difficult. Logical. You’re even starting to think like him. Is that better, or worse?
There were a million and one reasons he should have gotten along with Mary. But they all shattered to pieces every morning whenever she put on her goddamn iPod.
Although she was young, she was surprisingly conservative when it came to music. And in the mornings, when she was getting ready for classes, both the scent of bacon and the delicate notes came wafting into the flat.
The first time it happened, it was Rachmaninoff. He had hated Rachmaninoff. That should have tipped you off.
Today, John opened his eyes, and it was Schumann. The powerful notes floated over and up, through the walls downstairs and up the landing to his room. You hate that it's still your room, because nothing in your room has changed, and you wake up and nothing's different but it should be, and it takes you so long to figure out why.
This was not unusual.
He was halfway out of bed, the playful tease warm on his tongue. He knew the piece, and looked up the background on Wikipedia, and it was absolutely perfect. The strong lyrical composition was rumoured to have been written through the veil of morbidity and insanity, and it made sense that the work of a madman would be the favourite piece of a It takes seconds for the rhythmic notes to break and flow and transform into the sound of rushing water. Your head is in your hands, and it's going to be one of those days, one of those awful days, when you never leave this room.
Distracting, John thought sourly as the orchestral accompaniment joined in. Distracting because this was his space, his small terrarium, and it was broken through. Oh god, you had tried, a few months ago. You figured if you changed your room, and switched bedrooms and slept instead in the one downstairs...it would be awful and crushing and just horrible but at least you wouldn't have that moment, that hateful moment, every damn morning, when you think it's like before and it's the same and nothing's happened, and that moment isn't horrible except for the one right after, and it's enough to make your insides heave and your head feel like it's drowning…God. Anything would be better than that.
His gaze lingered on the window. It was early morning, and the iPod was being switched off, stuck into a handbag and readied for the commute. You tried, you really did. You remember lingering in the threshold, and the room inside was completely empty, but it still took only eight seconds for everything to crash, and you turned and your knees buckled and you vomited on the rug and every synapse was crackling "WRONG WRONG WRONG" over and over in your head.
Not for the first time, you consider soundproofing the walls.