John doesn't think it's strange when, as a child, his stuffed bear talks to him. Rather, he realizes it when Harry takes it away, and tells him that he'll have to find it himself if he wants it back.
He knows exactly where to find it, of course, stuffed under Harry's bed next to a stray sock. She calls him a liar and tells him stuffed animals don't talk when he says it told him where it was. He goes to their parents because he's not the liar - she is, but when he explains what happens, they tell him the same thing.
He doesn't bring it up again.
In Afghanistan, the supplies tell him when they're running low, and the cars always, always tell him when strangers have touched them, and John gets known as having a knack (paranoia, his men call it, but he's never missed a single car bomb) for keeping his men safe.
His sidearm sleeps with him under his pillow and lets him know when it needs a good cleaning. It makes jokes when he's had a bad day, and even though there's always a little something lost in translation, the effort is enough to make him feel better.
"I'm not letting him in this time! Just like you told me!" shouts his laptop when John walks into the flat with the groceries, and Sherlock looks up at him.
"I see you've changed your password," he says, which is news to John. "Is it no longer your last four phone digits plus the surname of your last serious girlfriend?"
"Might be," John replies noncommitally (it had been the last time he logged in, which was just this morning to check his email), even as his laptops chirps gleefully the random numbers and letters it's changed John's password to. He unpacks the groceries and runs the garbage disposal because it didn't like having food molding on its blades, then reunites a fallen magnet with the front door of the fridge.
When he returns, Sherlock is still trying to break into his laptop, an expression of fierce concentration on his face.
"You know you have your own computer and that you don't need to use mine to check your email, right?" John asks, because in these cases it's best to be sure. Who knows -- Sherlock might have blown it up or dropped it in the bath, or something.
"I didn't receive anything important," Sherlock replies dismissively. His elegant fingers dart over the keyboard swiftly, trying out different passwords as each one he offers is rejected. "Give me another ten minutes, and you can have it back."
Twenty minutes later, after John's had a nice shower, Sherlock is still trying to figure out his password. When John points out that he wants to go online and that Sherlock can try breaking into his computer another time, Sherlock shoves it across the coffee table in disgust.
Both coffee table and laptop make irritated sounds of protest. John tilts his laptop on its side and rubs his palm against the underside, quelling it. "Don't do that," he chides. "It's not good for the bottom."
"Go on, then," Sherlock challenges. "Log in."
He types his password in and is rejected; his laptop giggles and says, "Sorry! It's back to before! Try again please!"
He does, and the welcome tone plays through its speakers and his background replaces the login screen. Sherlock glares daggers at him. "That password was the 22nd one that I tried."
"Maybe you made a mistake when you were typing it," John suggests.
"I never make mistakes."
But while John's at a crime scene with Sherlock, his abilities are minimally useful. Strange objects don't always like speaking to people they don't know, and even when they do, what they have to say is rarely useful and almost never something Sherlock hasn't already deduced.
Except, of course, when the evidence in question is a pocketwatch belonging to the husband of the dead woman, exchanged for her bracelet as a token to keep them close while he was abroad for school.
Objects that have belonged for a long time to their masters are always the most intelligent and aware, John's found. It's as if a little part of their master has rubbed off onto them, giving them something almost like a soul. His service revolver won't fire for anyone but him. Sherlock's violin will croon notes that echo his moods, and sing encouragement to Sherlock as he thinks.
"I'm here to help. What can you tell me about what happened?" John asks under his breath, cupping the watch in his palm. It tells him an awful lot, reciting everything it'd heard before she died, and giving him her exact time of death. Its master had loved her, so it had loved her, and it wanted to help.
"What does it tell you?" Sherlock plucks the pocket watch from John's hand. "This isn't hers. No identifying features, but it's old, at least 5 years, belongs to a man. Her boyfriend. Where is he?"
"Study abroad program. America," John says without thinking.
Sherlock looks momentarily surprised before he deduces it himself, from the contents of her purse and the level of wear of her clothing.
"That was rather tricky," Sherlock says afterwards, when they're on the way home. "How did you know it was America?"
John shrugs. "Lucky guess."
A television doesn't mind flicking off without its power button being pushed, and a computer doesn't mind opening a specific program when it hasn't been clicked. But while an alarm will change itself happily, or turn off once it's woken him up, it will refuse to let its designated time pass without sounding.
It's one thing to ask an object to do something it hasn't been told not to do. It's an entirely different challenge to to make it not do something it's supposed to do.
John prefers asking nicely, but he can force his will on an object if he wants it badly enough. It usually gives him an awful headache, but few things can outright refuse him, especially if they aren't well-loved enough to feel loyalty to their masters.
So when he forces a dozen sniper rifles to jam, each shot feels like it's going straight into his skull and leaving permanent damage, but it gives him enough time to snatch the gun from Sherlock and shoot Moriarty in the chest.
He wakes up feeling as if his head is going to explode. To tell the truth, he wouldn't mind if it did, so long as it made the pain stop. He keeps his eyes closed, and stretches out his mind, touching his surroundings. It hurts too much to open his eyes and look around. The sofa is pleased to be holding him, and gently expresses to him that it's trying to be as soft and stable as possible. He's in 221B, then. He relaxes marginally.
"The police didn't find the body," Sherlock says.
John tries to say something, maybe What body? or Do you mean to say Moriarty's alive?, but what comes out of his mouth is a pained whimper. He can't think, and he wants to sob with the pain, except that John already knows that moving will make it worse.
A hand touches his face, fingernails scraping lightly at something dried to the side, near the line of his jaw. It comes off in flakes. "You were bleeding from your ears, but you've stopped now. And you're conscious again. What do you remember?"
"Hurts," he whimpers pathetically. The pain is crowding out his other thoughts. It's the only thing he can focus on. "Can't."
There is a moment's pause, then Sherlock is leaning over him, smelling of chlorine and gunpowder, fingers on the pulse in his neck. "I have a sedative," he murmurs softly. "Is it safe to administer it to you?"
"Please," he begs.
He registers a distant pinch in the inside of his elbow, and then nothing.
When he wakes up again, his agony has been downgraded from "I want to die" to "I have the worst hangover in my life", and he feels marginally human again. He is still on the sofa, and Sherlock's phone is next to him, as is his coat, which means Sherlock probably is as well.
"What time is it?" He asks, opening his eyes. "Painkillers?"
"Nearing 3 AM. I have pills and morphine."
"Pills," John croaks, and lets Sherlock help him upright. There is a bottle of aspirin on the coffee table, and Sherlock hands it to him. He shakes two out into his palm, then considers and adds two more. He swallows them dry. "I've only been out for a few hours? That's not too bad."
"3 AM of the next day," Sherlock corrects. "You've been unconscious for over twenty-four hours."
"They didn't find the body."
"So no murder charges, at least," John points out, and gives in to the urge to lean his head against Sherlock's upper arm. Sherlock stills, but doesn't push him away. "My head is killing me." He closes his eyes against the light.
"Do you need anything to eat or drink?"
"Not right now. Maybe some toast in a few minutes."
"What do you remember about last night?"
He remembers being captured by Moriarty and rigged with Semtex. He remembers Sherlock's face, shocked and betrayed and then shocked again. He remembers stopping all the rifles in the building and then shooting Moriarty. After that, everything gets hazy.
"Moriarty grabbed me on my way to Sarah's. You met us at the pool and he threatened to kill us. I shot him. We ran... Did I pass out in the cab?"
"Yes. I had to carry you into the flat."
"Thanks," John says, but the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. Sherlock's staring at him, then. John dozes off while waiting for Sherlock to say what it is that he's discovered.
"Oh, thank God," John breathes fervently when he wakes again and the pain is gone. He's laying partly over Sherlock's lap, head pillowed by the man's coat. Something - a book, John realizes when he stretches out a tendril of thought - is open on his sternum.
Sherlock closes the book and puts two long, cool fingers on John's jaw, tilting his head until he's facing Sherlock. Sherlock's eyes are a pale, piercing grey. "You're no longer in pain. Good. You've been asleep for nearly forty minutes."
John sits up and stretches. He feels much better now, though still wrung out. There's dried blood in his ears, and a bruise on his leg that he doesn't remember getting. He reaches out tentatively, listening to the objects in the flat, and it hurts a little, but it's a familiar kind of pain, the pain of stretching overused muscles.
Sherlock is still watching him. If it was anyone else, John would chalk it up to concern, but he knows better. "What is it?"
"When you grabbed the gun, the laser sights went out. All of them, at the same time."
It's entirely possible. John hadn't expected anything when he'd done it -- he'd just panicked, and tried to stop everything he could reach.
"Mycroft's men found the explosives, but they didn't find any bullets."
"That's good, isn't it?"
"None of the rifles fired. Nor did my gun, and I assure you, I pulled the trigger. How did you do it?"
"What do you mean?" John asks automatically, his usual response when asked about it. But this time it's Sherlock, who doesn't let go of questions, who sees more than anyone else does.
Sherlock, who is looking at John with a focused intensity reserved for only the most interesting cases. "Something stopped the guns from firing. You leapt for me before I pulled the trigger, at the same time the laser sights went out. Your reflexes simply aren't that good, unless you knew what was going to happen beforehand. Unless you're working for Moriarty -- which I doubt, considering you shot him in the chest. You were able to prevent the guns from firing. How, John? What did you do?"
John's never told anyone before, but he knows that if he tells Sherlock, Sherlock will believe him. In fact, he's pretty sure that even if he didn't tell Sherlock, the detective would figure it out anyways, and then exact revenge for John's silence on the subject. Probably in the form of dead animals in his sheets. "I told them to stop," he says finally. "With my mind."
"And it worked?"
"Gave me a bloody awful migraine, but we're still alive, aren't we?"
Sherlock examines him, then breaks out into a wide grin. "Amazing. How did it happen? Does it only work on firearms? What else can you do? Tell me everything. I want to know."
So he tells him, because he's always wanted to tell someone about it, and when he finishes, Sherlock is bouncing in his seat like a child who's been told Christmas has come early this year.
"You, my dear John, are amazing," Sherlock declares again, and claps his hands together in his excitement. "May I conduct some experiments on you? I promise it won't hurt."
John, because he is perhaps just a little bit crazy, agrees.
The experiments don't hurt, and are interesting, because Sherlock applies himself to finding out the bounds of John's ability with a transparent enjoyment that makes even John excited.
Nothing changes between them, except that now when Sherlock tells John to send a text for him, he can do it without touching Sherlock's phone. When they visit a crime scene, John whispers to Sherlock all the things he finds out that can't, yet, be deduced.
And at home, when Sherlock plays the violin, it sings to John.