Chapter 1: Revelation
The third taxi in a row has just driven straight by them, and John huffs in annoyance. It’s almost as if they’re going out of their way to avoid the pair, and for once they’re not even covered in blood or grime. He grabs Sherlock’s wrist and drags him towards the nearest tube station.
“John, it’s a nice day, let’s just walk.”
“Bloody hell, Sherlock. It’s at least six miles to Baker Street from here and my feet are sore. What is it about the tube that you hate so much?”
“It’s dull. It’s filled with smelly, dull people. Living their dull little lives. It’s crowded and unpleasant. And d—“
“Yes, yes, I got that bit. It’s dull. Deal with it, just for today, alright?”
Sherlock acquiesces with a soft grunt and follows John down the stairs into the station.
The car is crowded with evening commuters, and they’re forced to remain standing. John finds himself almost wishing he still had his cane, but he’s too much of a gentleman to ask anyone to shift enough to make room for him.
Sherlock turns to a rather frazzled-looking woman in the disabled priority seat and snaps at her with more vitriol than generally reserved for anyone other than the Yard’s most inept member of the forensics team.
“You there, get out of that seat. My friend here is an injured war veteran, he’s had a long day, and he deserves this seat far more than you do.” John turns beet red and attempts to stammer out an apology to the poor woman but she’s already stormed off in a huff. Embarrassed and furious, he sheepishly sinks down into the vacated seat and glares up at Sherlock, preparing to tell him off.
What he sees catches him off-guard. Sherlock, usually so elegant and composed, looks a mess. His eyes are now scrunched tightly shut and his forehead is clammy with sweat. He’s pale, much more so than usual, and that in and of itself is noteworthy. His lips are moving rapidly, almost as if he’s talking to himself. Whatever he’s saying is short, clipped, not flowing like his usual deductions. Almost as if he’s reciting something. John reaches out, gently touching Sherlock’s arm, and the consulting detective jumps, startled out of his train of thought. His eyes are wide, pupils blown in alarm.
“Sherlock, what’s the matter?”
“It’s the tube, John. I hate it. I told you.”
“Come on then, we’re nearly there. We can walk the last two stops.” John’s being generous. His feet are still sore, but Sherlock is clearly in more discomfort than he’s letting on.
Sherlock looks at him, the look of misery on his face shifting to one of gratitude as they rush out of the carriage, through the tube station, and back up into the fresh air. John looks as though he wants to ask questions, but he’s decided to wait.
Safely ensconced in the warmth of the flat, Sherlock seems to unwind. He’s lying on the couch, eyes closed, hands folded neatly across his chest. Thankfully his skin has lost the waxy pallor it had earlier, returning to its usual marble creaminess, or John would have been reminded uncomfortably of a corpse laid out at a funeral.
“John.” He looks up, that deep voice drawing his gaze like a magnet. “I’m sorry about before. Thank you for indulging me.” The doctor coughs, unsure of what to say. It’s so rare for Sherlock to acknowledge this sort of thing, or to thank anyone.
“Sherlock, it’s fine. I had no idea you really hated the underground that much. You kept saying it would be dull, but you certainly didn’t look bored. It’s almost as if you were claustrophobic, but lord knows we’ve been wedged into tighter spaces together and it didn’t seem to bother you a bit. What is it about the tube that upsets you?”
“I just tend to find it a bit overwhelming. All those people, so close together. It’s not just the tube – any situation that’s got me surrounded by so many people in such a cramped space. Their voices, their smells, the press of their bodies, their thoughts-” at this point his mouth snaps shut with an audible click, and John’s eyes refocus slightly.
“I’m sorry, Sherlock, did you say their thoughts?”
“John, don’t be ridiculous, I said nothing of the sort.”
“You did. You absolutely did.”
“Be reasonable, there’s no way peoples’ thoughts could bother me that much.” Sherlock trails off, the look on John’s face making it clear he will brook no further argument. He knows what he heard.
“Sherlock, do you mean to tell me you think you can read minds?”
Sherlock rubs one pale hand over his eyes, shifting his weight slightly on the couch. “That sounds far more fantastic and poetic than the truth, John. Reading one’s mind implies conscious effort, skimming through the pages with intent. Hypothetically, this would be more like having everyone shout at you all at once.”
“Hypothetically.” John grunts and rubs his hands over his face. He’s absorbing this, and feels as though he should be a lot more freaked out than he is. However, his flatmate is so fantastic and unique and unearthly that this almost doesn’t come as a surprise at all. In fact, things suddenly make so much more sense – the way he always seems to anticipate what John’s going to say at any given moment, encouraging him when he’s on the right track at a crime scene or leading him in another direction when he’s fixating on something irrelevant; the way Anderson’s mere presence makes his skin crawl even when he manages to keep his ratty little mouth shut; even those memorable words to DI Lestrade on that first night in Brixton. You were thinking. It's annoying.
“So. You’re telling me… you can…” at this, he stops talking, and concentrates on thinking very clearly, as if to project what’s in his head. Hear my thoughts.
Sherlock sucks in a deep breath and braces himself, the movement of his muscles minute but still perceptible. He looks as if he’s expecting a physical blow of some sort.
“Yes, John. Not just yours, either. Everyone’s. And there’s no need to focus them like that. Also, ‘unearthly’? I’m flattered.”
“Christ, Sherlock. You— it—really. Bloody hell.” John grips the arm of his chair. “So then, all those incredible deductions, all those gifts, it’s all a front?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Think before you speak.” At Sherlock’s unfortunate choice of words, both men are struck with a bout of adrenaline-fuelled nervous giggles. The detective coughs and composes himself. “Firstly, corpses don’t think. Secondly, I only experience thoughts that people are currently, actively thinking. When we first met, were you thinking coherently about your military service record? Were you thinking about Harry, about your phone? No. You were wondering if Mike was pulling your leg, thinking I was part of some elaborate joke.”
John says nothing, but nods and gestures for Sherlock to continue.
“I will not deny that this ability has helped me glean information, and it’s helped sharpen my deductive abilities. Once you know for certain that someone is lying, or hiding something, you learn to observe, to study deeper. The deduction started as a front – I wanted to be sure I had an excuse if I ever let things slip that I wasn’t supposed to know. But I came to realise I was good at it. Damn good.”
Sherlock rolls over so he’s lying on his side on the couch now, facing John. His face is oddly calm. “I have to say, you’re taking this far better than I anticipated.”
“Am I? I’m not really sure how I’m taking it.” John leans forward, elbows resting on his knees, and rubs his face with both hands. “Somehow, though, you’re right. Of course you’re right. Ha. But really, it’s not bothering me as much as it should.”
Sherlock lets out a low chuckle. “You’ve got questions, John. I can hear them buzzing around in there.”
“Do I,” John pauses, trying to work out the best way to phrase things. “Do I need to say them out loud? Should I just… think them?” His brow furrows at the absurdity of the situation, but Sherlock merely smiles.
“I think it’s best if you just ask them normally. It will likely be more comfortable for you, at first. I am also concerned that if we do slip into the habit of communicating in an apparently one-sided manner, we may slip up and do it in public. Do you really want all of Scotland Yard to know that I really and truly am inside your head?” At this, John chuckles and relaxes a bit more. He settles back into the chair, his posture less alert and anxious than before.
“I guess I’ll start at the beginning. How long?”
“How long have I been able to do this? All my life, I suppose. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t able to, and Mummy figured it out when I started talking. I’d respond to things nobody had said aloud. Of course, at that age I had no idea there was anything abnormal about me, I assumed everyone communicated in this manner.”
Sherlock stares at John, watching as the logical, rational side of him steps aside and makes way for the infinitely curious one. “How does it work? Is there a physical limit?”
“As far as I can tell, it’s very similar to standard hearing. I’m only capable of sensing what people are actively thinking about, as though they were saying it out loud. The range seems to be a bit wider than that, but not by much. Generally it’s only people within my line of sight, but enclosed spaces seem to make it worse – sort of like an echo.”
“So that’s why the tube was so awful. Sherlock, I’m so sorry about that. We won’t do it again.” Sherlock smiles bitterly in acknowledgement. “Thank you John. I can tolerate it mid-day or late at night, when there are not as many people. But the morning and evening rush-hour commutes… I’d rather avoid those whenever possible.”
John nods. “So, does anyone else know?”
“Besides you? Well, Mummy, of course. A few doctors at some institute somewhere in Norway. Mycroft, unfortunately.”
“Can he... I mean, is he… like you?” John, thinks back to scenes of the two brothers sitting in the sitting room, barely saying a word to each other and yet somehow apparently communicating smoothly.
“Mercifully, no. He’s an insufferable know-it-all as it is, I can’t imagine how much worse he’d be if he really did know everything that went on in my head. Or anyone’s head, for that matter. He’s just frightfully good at reading facial expressions and body language. It’s not genetic, if that’s what you were wondering.” John chuckles softly. “Thank goodness. The world is a safer place.”
“Unfortunately, I suspect Moriarty also knows.”
At this, John’s entire body goes rigid and a chill settles in his twisting gut. Oddly, this is the first revelation all evening that’s well and truly scared him.
“Bloody hell, Sherlock. How?”
“I have no idea how wide his web of influence spreads, but I would not be surprised it if it stretched at least to the institute that studied me as a child – I imagine it wouldn’t have been too difficult for him to get a copy of my file there. There wasn’t a huge amount of info, but enough for someone like him to manipulate. When we first met ‘Jim from I.T.’, he was incredibly guarded with his thoughts, thinking nothing specific about me other than lewdly inappropriate things with an undercurrent of boring technical jargon that I assume was supposed to mislead me and cement his story about working upstairs. It seemed too forced, too rehearsed. That, and he knew exactly who to threaten to remove from my life to well and truly throw off my concentration.” If John notices the slight flush across Sherlock’s sculpted cheekbones at that last statement, he makes a point of politely overlooking it.
“So, this institute, did they ever figure out why? I mean, you can’t be the only person who can do this? No offence, I mean, you’re pretty uniquely spectacular and all, but…” John cuts himself off before embarrassing either of them further.
“Thank you, John. They had seen several other cases, all slightly different but with similar end results – the ability to experience the thoughts of others. It happens a few times in every generation. They never did narrow down what caused it, nor have they figured out a way to prevent it. Call it magic, call it a hiccough in human evolution.”
“It’s incredible, is what it is.”
“That’s not what I imagined you’d say when you found out. I’ve imagined so many scenarios over the past few months, all of them ending badly. You calling me terrible names, you leaving the flat in a panic…” Sherlock trails off, his eyes locked on some invisible spot in the middle-ground behind John’s head.
“I knew you’d figure it out eventually, you know. I suspect that’s why I let my guard down and said what I did. You’re much smarter than anyone gives you credit for, including yourself. I say that with absolute certainty, having seen everything that goes on in your brain.”
“I suppose I can’t argue with that now, can I?” John pauses, a flicker of realisation crossing his eyes. “Oh, hell, Sherlock. Everything?!” Sherlock smiles slightly at the blush creeping across John’s nose and causing the tips of his ears to go pink.
“Yes, John. Everything.” Sherlock draws the word out, almost purring. Can it be there’s a hint of humour in his voice? He jumps abruptly off of the sofa and walks over to John’s chair, squatting down on his heels, so they’re sitting nearly face-to-face.
“Sherlock, I am so sorry. Private thoughts, you know? I had no idea…”
“No idea I could hear them? Of course you didn’t. Who ever stops to think ‘Gee, I ought to stop fantasizing about shagging my flatmate – he might be able to read my thoughts.’ And besides, I have to say, they’re not entirely unpleasant to me, or entirely unreciprocated.”
John blinks, startled. He had indeed fantasized (rather obscenely) about the infuriating and gorgeous man, certainly, but he tried not to think that it might actually lead anywhere. There were also all the awkward emotional implications to dwell on, and he’d rather avoid those. He realises he’s been staring into Sherlock’s indescribable eyes and abruptly turns away.
“Why haven’t you said anything, then?”
“Because along with the rather vivid fantasies, I’ve also heard the ridiculous existential crises running through your head. I know you consider yourself to be essentially heterosexual. When you were in college you had a few drunken party games escalate into questionable territory, and you had a few dalliances of convenience in the military. However, you’ve never felt such a strong emotional bond with another man. And you’re conflicted, which is understandable but unnecessary. I felt it would be unfair of me to exploit my knowledge and attempt to trick you into anything. If we are to start a relationship, I would much rather it be built on a more solid foundation, one where you’re sure of your feelings.”
John shakes his head. Somehow, Sherlock sparing his emotions and worrying about the “fairness” of exploiting his ability to read minds is much more unnerving than the fact that he can do it in the first place.
“There’s also the matter of sex.”
John splutters, raising an eyebrow.
“People tend to view me as asexual. They run under the assumption that I am inexperienced, or uninterested. I seem to emit some kind of a vibe – you have no idea how many people I hear outside imagining deflowering me, often in far less poetic terms.” John opens his mouth as if to say something, and Sherlock holds up a finger. “Yes, I know. Married to my work, it’s all transport, etcetera. But think, John. Really think. What goes through your head while you’re having sex? All that noise, all that fire, that emotion, all those chemicals firing off. It’s confusing and overwhelming, is it not? Now imagine that mirrored back at you, in the most intimate way possible. It’s not that I’m disinterested, exactly. It’s just that my prior experiences were all traumatic, to say the least. And to have to hide what was going on in my head, for fear of upsetting my partner…” he sighs, looking a little bit lost, and a lot unlike himself. “It just got much easier to avoid it altogether.”
John, emboldened by this sudden exposed vulnerability in Sherlock’s generally unflappable facade, reaches out and gently runs one thumb along the taller man’s prominent cheekbone and down along his jaw line. “Sherlock, that’s awful. I’m sorry…” he bites his lip, frustrated at a lack of adequate words. “I will do my best to stop thinking that way about you. I can’t guarantee it won’t still happen when I’m asleep.”
“As I said – I don’t mind. Your thoughts are somehow both more interesting and less vulgar than most peoples’. And besides, dreams tend to be blurrier and less coherent anyway, they’re easier to ignore. Although if you ever need to unload about your nightmares, John, I will do my best to listen.” Sherlock smiles, tight-lipped, and John can tell he’s seen (heard? felt? What is the proper verb in this case?) the traumatic, vivid nightmares, all blood and sand and screaming.
“I’m sorry you had to see those, Sherlock. And as for the, er, existential crises… If I didn’t have feelings for you, I wouldn’t be worrying, would I? I care about you, I have feelings for you, and you have to know that’s true. Nothing else is important, right?” And of course, Sherlock knows for a certainty that John is telling the truth. “As for the sex thing. We’ll figure that out when we get to it. If we get to it. I mean, if you want to try at some point.” John can feel the flush creeping back across his face, and it’s Sherlock’s turn to reach across and stroke John’s cheek gently. “I imagine it would be less stressful and more enjoyable with someone who was aware of my abnormality. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I think this is an awful lot for you to absorb all in one night. Your mind is racing, and you need some rest.”
John smiles up at Sherlock. “I’m not sure I’m really going to be able to sleep, I’ve got a lot to process.”
“Do you trust me, John?” the two men lock eyes, and John almost feels for a moment that he can see into Sherlock’s head in return. “At this point, I rather have to, don’t I?” Sherlock chuckles, the laugh deep and gravelly in the back of his throat. “Okay then. Go upstairs and get into bed, I’ll be up in a few moments.”
The look on John’s face and the explicit pictures that run through his mind make Sherlock grin, an oddly engaging and artless smile with no guile behind it, for once. “Not yet, John. Just trust me.”
The fairer, shorter man has changed into his pyjamas and settled into bed, resting against his headboard. He hears footfalls on the stairs and his breath catches in his throat as he tries to calm his mind. The door opens gently, the light from the hallway beyond framing Sherlock. He’s wearing his deep blue bathrobe, his hands resting relaxed at his side. In one hand hangs his violin, and in the other, his bow.
“I thought I might play for you, see if it relaxes you a bit. If you’d like.”
John smiles, shifts from the middle to the far left side of the bed, making room, and thinks quite clearly, but quietly, Yes, please, I’d like that very much.
Chapter 2: Observation
Thank you everyone who commented on the first part of this story and encouraged me to continue it. You're all so kind, and I really appreciate it! This chapter's more fluff and schmoop than anything resembling a plot, so if that's not your bag feel free to skip it. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It's been a long few days since what John's come to think of as the Revelation, a case had taken up most of Sherlock's attention and John's been replacing another doctor at the surgery who's off with a particularly virulent flu. There's a fair bit of tension in the air now that they're both home and awake at the same time, but it's not exactly uncomfortable, more like the tingle of electricity before a storm.
"Got any plans for tonight, Sherlock?"
"Not as of yet, I gave Lestrade everything he needs to finish up that case. Yourself?"
"No, thank god. I'm knackered, and rather looking forward to a quiet evening in. You hungry?"
"Strangely, yes. I'm not sure I've eaten in the past few days."
John cringes, but keeps his mouth shut.
"Oh, go ahead and admonish me. I do know you're thinking about it, after all."
"It's just not healthy. You're going to pass out mid-chase one day, and then where will I be?"
"Well, Doctor, why don't we order a ridiculous amount of food and eat in front of the telly? Isn't that your usual prescription for not eating enough?"
John smiles, tossing his phone in Sherlock's general direction. "That sounds wonderful, actually. You ring for food and I'll go change and pick a film."
Half an hour later, the pair are settled comfortably on the couch with a respectable distance between them, John in a pair of flannel pyjama bottoms and his striped jumper, Sherlock wrapped in his ridiculously posh blue silk robe. A nearly obscene pile of Chinese food is spread out on the coffee table between them.
"So, what cinematic rubbish are you subjecting me to tonight, dear John?"
Rolling his eyes, the fair-haired man holds up a DVD case. The Maltese Falcon. "It's a classic, Sherlock. Mystery, guns, Humphrey Bogart, what's not to like?"
Sherlock snorts derisively and stuffs a piece of chicken in his mouth.
"If you don't want to watch it, you don't have to. I just thought you'd appreciate it."
John lowers himself tiredly back onto the couch with a plate of food after putting the DVD into the player and arguing with the multiple remotes for several minutes before the proper intro screen comes up. "I don't know why they make this so complicated. It was much easier before we needed three remotes just to watch something."
Sherlock laughs, a genuine warm sound from deep in his chest. Laughs like that are rare coming from the detective, and John cherishes them. "John, what on earth are you going to do when you're old?"
Get you to do everything technological for me, I hope. John flushes, the thought of them both old and grey and still bickering on the sofa together flickering through his mind. He catches Sherlock's gaze and the taller man smiles at him, the bridge of his nose crinkling up in an incredibly charming way. John flushes even deeper and coughs slightly. Sherlock, cheeky git that he is, just winks.
"So, uh, movie? Shall we? Are you sure you want to watch it?"
"John, the films are generally not what interest me. This one admittedly doesn't sound awful, but it's the experience I cherish."
"What, like… a date?"
"Not exactly. It's difficult to explain, but watching something with you is the closest I ever get to feeling normal. You get very absorbed when you watch a film you enjoy. Pretty much everything in your head is simply mirroring what's happening on screen, or adding to it somehow. There's no extra noise, no unnecessary data floating around. I can just relax and imagine everything that's going on in my head is merely input from the television and not due to the fact that I am some kind of anomaly. It's a refreshing change."
Shifting on the sofa to look at Sherlock, John studies the man. On his face is an expression of nearly-beatific calm. John would nearly have said vacant, but that's not a word anyone could ever apply to Sherlock Holmes, no matter the circumstances. More like he is suddenly unburdened, liberated. It's a comforting change of pace.
"Alright then, let's both relax and think of nothing at all for a little while."
John settles back, ready to be absorbed in Sam Spade's exciting escapades and a container of dumplings. Somehow, though, his attention keeps drifting to the few inches of space between the two men comfortably ensconced on the couch. Biting his lip, he stares pointedly at the screen in front of him, rather than the elongated line of pyjama-clad genius to his side. Ever since the revelation that his confusing interests in Sherlock weren't unwelcome, John has found himself dwelling even more on his feelings. Who cares if I've never felt quite like this about a man before? No man has ever been quite like Sherlock before… That brain, those eyes…
"Christ, Sherlock. I'm sorry." He rubs his face. "You open up and tell me you're looking forward to watching a movie because it's the one time my brain shuts up and my brain just refuses to cooperate. I don't mean to make you uncomfortable."i
"You're still handling this far better than I ever could have anticipated. I can't fault you for being distracted and dwelling on it." Sherlock reaches over and pauses the movie, turning so his back is to the arm of the sofa and he's facing John completely. Instinctively and without thinking, John mirrors the motion so the space between them is wider now, but they're looking directly at each other.
John feels his breath catch in his throat as Sherlock draws his legs up and crosses them under him, the tight fabric of his pyjama bottoms pulling slightly across his hips and between his spread thighs. It's an entirely innocent pose, and yet the fact that Sherlock's groin is both exposed and completely in shadow is incredibly distracting to the poor doctor. He coughs again and starts reciting multiplication tables in his head to keep his thoughts from turning lewd, never once breaking eye contact with Sherlock.
Suddenly one feathery eyebrow disappears over an ivory forehead and up into a mass of dark curls, and poor John realises the pose was not as innocent as he'd thought.
"Sherlock, please. I am trying my best not to think about you that way, even if you're okay with it, it must still be weird for you."
"On the contrary," he purrs, that damned velvet voice dropping even lower than usual. "I'm finding your train of thought rather promising. I know you've been thinking a lot about your feelings, as well as your urges, and you seem a lot less conflicted about it all."
John sighs, slumping against the arm of the couch. "You're right, as usual. I'm shocked." A thin pink sliver of tongue darts over John's lower lip, almost as if he's debating sticking it out at Sherlock, but thinks better of it. "But yes, as I'm sure you're aware, I have been doing some thinking. And I've been being a bit of an idiot. I already trust you with my life. We live together, we work together, we go out together, we go to dinner together on the rare occasions you deign to consume human sustenance. My feelings for you are not as ridiculous as I'd convinced myself they were. It feels right, you know?"
Sherlock reaches out across the expanse of the sofa and puts one hand confidently on John's knee. "Yes, John. I'm pretty sure I do know."
"So where does that put us?" John hesitantly puts his own tanned, solid hand on top of Sherlock's pale, elegant one, their fingers slotting together neatly. His mind is racing – pictures of their first kiss, their first fight as a proper couple, their first attempt at intimacy – and he's starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Suddenly Sherlock is on his knees between John's legs, the movement startling in its fluidity and grace. He's managed to keep one hand on John's knee but the other is up, tracing the smaller man's jaw line with a light touch.
"I think you're getting ahead of yourself here. While I am generally in favour of considering all sides of a problem before getting involved, there is no point worrying about a fight that hasn't happened yet."
John swallows, hyper-aware of how the gap between them feels charged, the hairs on the back of his neck raising in anticipation.
"However," Sherlock drawls, "the first thought you had seems like the next step in the logical progression of things." He locks his pale eyes on John's darker ones. John licks his lips again in a subconscious invitation and nods nearly imperceptibly before closing his eyes.
Sherlock's lips are soft, impossibly so. Softer than John had even imagined, and so supple. The kiss starts out chaste, the gentle brush of two warm mouths, but John finds himself desperately wanting more and Sherlock's incredible gift as well as his knack for reading his best friend allow him to intuit exactly what the smaller man wants, nearly before he knows it himself. Sherlock parts those lush lips ever so slightly, making room for John's ever-exploring tongue. They fit together perfectly, like two parts of one unit, and they both feel the anxiety drain from John, to be replaced with a sense of urgency. His hands are running up and down Sherlock's long back as his tongue ventures further into the taller man's mouth. Sherlock, for his part, has one hand gently cupped around the side of John's face, pulling them closer together while his other hand ventures lightly up the inside of John's thigh, the flannel fabric tickling them both slightly.
Sherlock can feel John getting overwhelmed by the sensations and pulls back, their lips parting but hands staying put, keeping them impossibly close.
"Are you alright?"
John chuckles quietly. "You must have been distracted, if you couldn't tell that I was more than just alright. I'm downright embarrassed by what's going through my head right now, the fact that you can hear it is mortifying."
Sherlock smiles again, another wide, genuine smile that makes John feel stupidly giddy inside. "I don't know why, Doctor Watson. I'm finding it rather enlightening. The things you want me to do to you – I'm flattered and more than a little intrigued."
John flushes a deep crimson and bites his lip. "Sherlock, you have to know those weren't conscious thoughts!"
"Oh, I'm well aware. I'm also aware that it's the unconscious thoughts that tend to be the most honest. People can modulate their thoughts to a certain extent, when they're calm and collected, but that was pure and unadulterated, and I am infinitely curious."
Oh god, John finds himself thinking. I want Sherlock. Sherlock wants me. When was the last time I changed my sheets? Do I have any lubricant?
"You want me. I want you." Sherlock enunciates clearly, emphasising the hard consonants as if to prove a point. "You changed your sheets two weeks ago, but your room is still far tidier than mine. You do not currently have any lubricant, but there are other things in that wild imagination of yours that don't require it."
"It's a good thing you're so gorgeous and intelligent, because you are an insufferable arse sometimes." John snorts, attempting to sound derisive. Unfortunately he's still panting and his breath catches in his throat which kills the attempt somewhat. With a distinctly predatory smirk Sherlock kisses him lightly one more time before jumping off the sofa and darting away.
John blinks and rubs his face a few times, overwhelmed and perplexed by Sherlock's sudden departure. A few seconds later, an inquisitively cat-like face peers out from around the doorframe, looking back into the sitting room. "Coming, John?" The word is laden with innuendo and John feels the rush of blood heading straight towards his groin. "You could have told me why you were running off, you know. I'm not the one who can read minds here."
Sherlock huffs, eyes glancing down to the growing bulge in John's pyjama bottoms before drawing his attention to the similar state of his own anatomy. "I should have thought it was obvious, John, even for you."
Ohnoes, unresolved sexual tension! I am so mean, I know. I promise there will be a continuation of this soon, I just wanted to focus on the actual act and also make sure people who didn't want to read anything explicit could just skip it. But yes, there will be porn, for those of you who want it.
Chapter 3: Experimentation
We're off the edge of the map, folks. Here there be smut. Gratuitous, hot, consulting-detective-on-army-doctor action. Hubba hubba. If that's not your bag, feel free to skip this chapter. There will be reference to this in the next chapter but really all you will need to know is "they had sex." There's no real plot to speak of here. There is some exploration of their relationship, some awkwardness, and some mind-reading Sherlock, but it's really just about the cock. I regret nothing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
With the sudden knowledge that this is actually going forward, it's as if a wall comes down around John. Suddenly he can't keep his hands off Sherlock, as those months of frustrated fantasy come to a head. He follows the taller man and before they've even reached the staircase leading to his room, John presses Sherlock up against the ridiculous wallpaper and kisses him again, a hungry, desperate kiss all tongues and hands and anticipation.
They manage to stumble up the stairs and divest themselves of the bulk their clothing, eagerness overriding any sense of awkwardness or embarrassment. They tumble together onto John's bed in nothing but their pants, resuming the passionate kiss started in the hallway. Fingers tangling into Sherlock's wild curls, John parts his lips, pulling the taller man's tongue deeply into his own mouth and sucking rather obscenely on it for a moment before letting go and nipping gently on his beautifully lush lower lip.
This is happening. This is actually bloody happening. The mantra runs through John's head, threatening to overwhelm him again. Sherlock breaks the kiss and pulls back, an uncharacteristic expression of concern crossing his features.
"Alright, John? Should we stop?"
John's tongue traces the swollen outline of his lower lip and he smiles at Sherlock. "Thank you for asking, but god no. I just can't believe this is finally happening. I'm fine with it. More than fine, really. I'll try to clear my head."
"No need. It's actually quite endearing." With a rapacious gleam in his eye, Sherlock rolls onto John, one hand bracing against the mattress to hold himself up while he leans in for a kiss, the other tracing over John's ribs and down towards the waistband of his pants. John groans heatedly into the kiss, grinding his hips upwards and causing their rapidly swelling cocks to rub together. Sherlock gasps at the pleasant friction, his lips pulling away from John's for a moment to catch his breath, but John grabs him and pulls him back down, tangling their legs together and running his hands along the sides of Sherlock's torso. It doesn't take a psychic genius with incredible deductive abilities to understand that John wants more contact. Dextrous musician's fingers find their way into John's sensible (boring!) grey pants, one hand carefully pulling them off and exposing John's cock, the other following, one long finger tracing the bulbous head, following the thick, raised veins as if committing them to memory. The touches are incredibly delicate, but still enough to elicit a quiet moan from the generally reserved army doctor.
Once Sherlock has extricated John entirely from the offensively dull undergarments, John scrabbles to return the favour, clutching desperately at Sherlock's deep plum-coloured boxers and pulling them off, releasing a perfectly proportioned, wonderfully curved cock nestled in a bed of surprisingly soft, loose black curls oddly reminiscent of the curls on his head – so much so that John finds himself wondering if he'll ever be able to look at Sherlock's hair in public again without blushing. Sherlock smirks at the idea, his hand breaking contact with John to reach up and further rumple his tousled mane, as if to prove a point.
Chuckling, John grabs Sherlock by the hips and pulls him abruptly downwards, their proud erections rubbing slickly against each other. They both gasp slightly at the contact, rutting distractedly like teenagers for a few seconds before Sherlock composes himself and uses his hips to pin John into place. He leans in for a tame, closed-mouth kiss and then begins trailing his lips along the edge of John's mouth, across his jaw, down his throat. John freezes for a moment, overwhelmed by the incredible soft pliancy of Sherlock's mouth combined with the slight scratch of stubble – not enough to be visible, but enough for his sensitive skin to feel. Sherlock adjusts the angle of his head so for a moment all John can feel are lips and the sudden sensation of a hot, wet tongue swirling across his carotid artery, over taut raised tendons, sliding gently to his collarbone.
John moans and his cock twitches heavily, rubbing against Sherlock's as they're still pinned together. The taller man continues tracing every detail of John's exposed throat with the tip of his inquisitive tongue. He raises himself slightly on his knees, pulling himself off of John with a surprisingly anguished groan. Never breaking his mouth's contact with John's throat, Sherlock splays one hand across John's chest, trailing it delicately down over scars, hard muscle, soft flesh, and a fine dusting of fair hair. He hovers over John's engorged cock for a moment before bringing his hand down to cradle the hot, heavy flesh. John moans and bucks up against him. No, please, not yet.
He cups Sherlock's face in his hands and pulls him up slightly, so they're eye to eye, and then gently rolls Sherlock over onto his side, so his back is to John. The consulting detective blinks, momentarily confused, before he senses what John's got in mind. If he touches me this will all be over too soon. John pulls Sherlock to him, the smaller man's broad chest slotting tightly against a long, alabaster-pale back. Sherlock lets out a low moan as he feels John's erection trapped against his arse, hot and heavy and already leaking.
"Christ, Sherlock, I wish—"
"I know, John. Me too. But it's been quite a while for either of us, and I don't want to rush things. We'll pick up what we need later, but in the meantime…"
Sherlock's voice is breathy and deep with arousal. John impatiently snakes one arm up over the angular man's hip, wrapping his hand firmly around Sherlock's throbbing cock. He takes a few tentative strokes, the palm of his hand sliding along the shaft and gently pulling down Sherlock's foreskin as his thumb passes quickly over the exposed glans, spreading the tiny drop of fluid he finds there.
John takes his time, pulling almost infuriatingly gently on the prick in his hands as his lips explore the side of Sherlock's neck. God, so fucking gorgeous. This neck, so long and pale and ridiculous in those shirts he wears... The things I've wanted to do to this neck...
Sherlock groans, and the apology is on the tip of John's tongue; he's been trying to control his thoughts but that one just got away from him. Before he even has time to say anything though, Sherlock throws his head back, exposing even more skin for John to lick and suck and bite. Greedily, he locks his lips around the soft triangle of flesh where neck meets shoulder. The high-pitched keening moan that Sherlock releases causes John to rub himself furiously against the soft mounds of Sherlock's arse and finally start stroking the detective's shaft in earnest. With each slide of his hips, each thrust of his cock in Sherlock's cleft, John slides his hand firmly up the length of Sherlock's prick, his palm twisting over the head with each stroke, now violently red and leaking in earnest. The two of them are rocking hard against each other, long grinding stretches that involve their entire bodies.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, John thinks. I'm so bloody close… Christ, I'm going to lose it all over his back without him even touching me. Sherlock groans, hearing John's thought process. He arches his back and reaches around with one impossibly long, elegant arm, wrapping his hand firmly around the base of John's neck for leverage. He thrusts his arse back against John's trembling cock, feeling it slide smoothly between his cheeks, gliding through his own precome and the mixture of their sweat. Within seconds John lets out a low whimper and buries his face in Sherlock's throat as his climax hits, shuddering as he explodes, hot and wet, trapped between his own stomach and Sherlock's arse. Instinctively he tightens his grip on Sherlock's engorged prick, and the sensations, combined with the mental assault of John's orgasm, cause stars to burst behind Sherlock's eyes as his body tightens and his cock jerks, spending all over John's hand and his own stomach.
They stay locked together in a tangled, sticky embrace for a few seconds before gingerly pulling apart and rolling onto their backs, panting heavily.
In an effort to make things easier for Sherlock, John concentrates on clearing his mind, thinking of the starry skies he used to admire when his family went camping in the Cotswolds. Sherlock pulls a few shuddering breaths before reaching out to rest one hand on John's thigh. They lie in companionable silence for a few moments.
"Thank you, John."
"Thank you, Sherlock. That was..." Unexpected. Fantastic. Amazing. Over too soon. John struggles to find something remotely appropriate to say, but it's too late, Sherlock has already experienced and analysed his entire thought process, his shoulders shaking in quiet laughter.
"Oddly enough, John, I feel the same way. Now hand me my robe, would you?" Leave it to Sherlock to be as lazy and imperious as ever, even after sharing something like that. Draping himself in the ridiculous length of blue satin, he strides towards the door. John freezes, trying to appear relaxed.
"Goodnight, and thank you again. It was... significantly less traumatic than I remember." But not nice enough for you to stay here.
"Good, great, thanks, fine." Please don't leave. "Goodnight, Sherlock. See you in the morning." Please come back to bed.
"Unless, you'd be... amenable to me staying?" God yes, just get back here you insufferable man. "Whatever, it's all fine. Your choice."
John sighs as Sherlock flicks the light switch, still standing in the doorway. He rolls over so his back is facing the door and he takes a deep breath, pulling the covers up over his head. How could he go from feeling so happy, so content, to feeling so awkward and lonely within the span of a few minutes?
"Because you worry too much, you ridiculous, beautiful man. Now shove over, your bed is too narrow." John jumps slightly as a very Sherlock-shaped lump settles in under the covers next to him, one ridiculously long arm wrapping over his good shoulder.
Goodnight, Sherlock. Thank you.
Hooray for smut! Delicious, relatively pointless smut! In the next chapter – Something somewhat resembling a plot! Angst! Moriarty! Oh dear!
Thank you all so much for your encouragement and reviews of this story. What started out as a cracky little idea has spawned a bunch of stuff in my head. I'm having a lot of fun with this
Chapter 4: Infatuation
Rating's back down to T for this chapter. There's a brief mention of sex but nothing graphic. Fair bit of angst though, but it clears up in the end, I promise.
"Oh, John, welcome home. How was work?" John walks over towards Sherlock, who is perched in his big leather armchair, fussing away with his phone. He leans forward and ruffles Sherlock's inky mess of curls affectionately, still excited by the ability to touch his flatmate – no, his lover – whenever he gets the urge.
"Since when do you care about the surgery? I didn't bring you home anything exciting, infectious, or decomposing, if that's what you're wondering."
Sherlock doesn't look away from the phone, but leans into John's hand, fingers still entwined in his hair. "Actually, I was wondering if little Billy Burton did indeed end up having polio. Do you know how rare that is in this day and age?"
"Sherlock!" John pulls his hand out of the unruly tangle of Sherlock's hair with a start. "How did you— I don't even want to get into the ethical implications of breach of doctor-patient privilege here!"
Sherlock drops his phone and turns to look at John with a gleam in his eye. "If it's any consolation, I couldn't hear everything, just the occasional fractured snippet. It would appear that closeness, either physical or emotional, seems to strengthen my uncanny ability. It seems that I'm developing the ability to hear you from a greater distance."
"What about Mycroft?"
"John!" Sherlock admonishes. "Even you, with your decidedly lacking powers of observation should realise that the relationship between Mycroft and myself may be many things, but it is certainly neither a bond of emotional or" the consulting detective pauses briefly, a shudder running through him "physical closeness. It would appear that so far, you are the only one lucky enough to claim those titles. None of my previous lovers have had this effect on me either."
"So that's it then, I'm never going to have any privacy again, am I? I suppose there are worse fates." He makes a big show of sighing dejectedly.
Sherlock pouts for a moment and then hears the undercurrent in John's mind – he's actually quite thrilled by the prospect of further emotional attachment.
"Oh, marvellous, John! You're learning to mask your surface thoughts!" The glee on Sherlock's face is so genuine and unfettered that John is reminded of a child on Christmas morning.
"I thought you might enjoy the challenge. Give us something to experiment with."
"Excellent. And since you've brought up the subject of experimentation, I realised this might have some other advantageous potential." The look on Sherlock's face is slightly unnerving – manic and gleeful.
John raises his brows quizzically as he moves to sit in the armchair across from Sherlock, his legs a bit sore from the commute home. "Oh? Do tell."
"I was thinking, wouldn't it be spectacular if I could keep track of Mori—"
"John, you didn't let me finish."
"I don't need you to. I know what you were going to say. Sherlock, how could you even consider it?"
John sinks deep into his armchair, burying his face in his hands. It takes him a moment to realise he's shaking. His mind is filled with horrifying thoughts. Sherlock, my Sherlock, naked and sweaty and entwined with Jim Fucking Moriarty's lanky, corpse-pale limbs.The two of them fucking violently, passionately. Even worse, the two of them forming some horrible emotional bond. Bonding over what? How stupid, how mundane the rest of the world is? From there, his mind moves rapidly to Moriarty taking advantage of a suddenly relaxed and vulnerable Sherlock. He feels sick to his stomach.
He looks back up at Sherlock, the hurt written all over his face. Sherlock looks distraught; he shifts his weight uncomfortably in the chair. He's unsure whether he should touch John, comfort him, or leave him be.
"For fuck's sake, Sherlock. I can't believe you would even think that, let alone TELL ME you were thinking it. Can you understand why I'm so upset?"
"It's not as if I care about him, John. It would just be sex."
"This, this from a man who has been avoiding sex because of the raw emotions and thoughts it exposes him to." John is shouting now, his face red and contorted. "When you said you were married to your work, I didn't think you meant it literally! And besides, what about the other people you've fucked?" he nearly spits out the word. "Did you hear them afterwards? No. You'd need to get close to him. Not only would you be bloody cheating on me before we've even figured out what we are to each other, you'd be putting yourself in horrible danger."
His mind is flooded with images of Sherlock tied to a chair, Sherlock beaten to a bloody pulp by one of Moriarty's minions, Sherlock wrapped in a god damned semtex vest. At this, the world's only incredibly dense consulting detective finally understands. It's not about the sex. Not really. He's suddenly reliving that moment at the pool all over again. The moment where the one person in the world who truly understands him was put in danger. The moment where he thought he might never see John again.
He stands up, crossing the gap between them in one long stride. He kneels down at John's feet, shuddering.
"John, John, John." He's repeating the name over and over, like some kind of incantation. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." The strangeness of hearing Sherlock apologising repeatedly shocks John back to reality for a moment.
"He can't have you. He can't. Not that way. Not any way. Sherlock, do you understand? He can't have any. Single. Part. Of. You." He puts a heavy emphasis on each word, pausing to make sure Sherlock absorbs them properly. Sherlock tentatively rests his head against John's leg, and the doctor, despite his better judgement, finds himself running his fingers through Sherlock's hair again. It's as much to comfort himself as it is to comfort Sherlock. He'd be worried about Sherlock hearing his thoughts again if there was more in his head than a horrible blackness and a high-pitched whistle.
John pulls in a broken breath before he even realises he was about to start crying. "I feel as though I need to be alone for a few minutes." Sherlock pulls away from John's leg like he's been burned. John gently pulls him back via the convenient fact that his hand is still carding through Sherlock's hair. "But I can't even have that anymore, can I? I suppose we're really and truly in this together now, aren't we?" He sounds resigned, but his voice is more controlled now.
"John, I truly am sorry. I…" Sherlock bites his lip and cringes, as though what he's about to say is physically painful. "I didn't think. I got so caught up in the idea that I might be able to stay one step ahead of him that I got ahead of myself instead and didn't consider all the angles, all the repercussions. The almighty Sherlock Holmes, not thinking something out in advance, and only the most important person in his life here to witness it." He laughs, cold and bitter. The angry whistling in John's head has finally abated, giving them both a moment of peace. He reaches down, wrapping his hands around Sherlock's torso, filling his mind with a picture of the two of them curling together on the armchair. Sherlock pulls himself up gratefully, slotting in around the smaller man. Their bodies are fitted tightly together, John burying his face in Sherlock's neck, but there's nothing remotely sexual about the entanglement, despite the physical closeness. The blackness slowly drains from John's mind, and subsequently Sherlock's, replaced with a desperate need to cling, to possess. They could stay here, like this, for eternity.
"Promise me, Sherlock. Promise you won't even consider that again. I couldn't bear to lose you. Not now. Especially not like that."
"Of course, John. I promise." He says it so quietly, so reverently, that John believes him. It's so rare to see Sherlock acquiesce to anything anyone asks of him that it finally puts his mind at ease. The two of them sigh in unison, breathing each other in. Sherlock pulls them even tighter together, having woven his long fingers through the back of John's knit jumper. John feels like he should complain about more of his clothes getting ruined at the hands of his mad flatmate, but he can't bring himself to mind right now.
John leans into Sherlock. Nothing's ever going to be normal again, is it? Somehow he feels like speaking aloud will cheapen it.
Sherlock huffs out a quiet chuckle. "I should hope not, John. Normal is boring."
Chapter 5: Exposition
To prevent confusion in this particular chapter, Mycroft's thoughts will be italic, John's thoughts will be in bold. Sherlock's thoughts, as always, will be uttered without any sort of emotional filter or effort at social propriety.
I have to say, writing a chapter with even two separate trains of thought going on at once was quite a challenge. It's made me even more sympathetic to my odd little version of Sherlock here. I can't imagine how confusing it would be to have seven or eight of them going on at once.
Are you certain letting him know was a good idea? Mycroft settles himself into John's chair with all the arrogant assurance of someone who is certain of his place in the world.
"He essentially figured it out himself, Mycroft." Sherlock wrinkles his nose in distaste. His brother has somehow procured a cup of tea – not even one of their solid, comfortable mugs. He's got a fussy little teacup resting on the arm of the seat. "It was only a matter of time, and I figured it would be more… prudent to discuss it in the relative privacy of the flat, in case he had taken it badly."
He didn't, then. Good man, that John Watson.
"Better than you'll ever be, that's for certain. I'm not sure I even like you thinking about him in that manner." The look of aggravation is clear across Sherlock's sharp features, but Mycroft's face remains irritatingly placid.
Oh get over yourself, dear brother.
"Why can't you talk to me like a normal human being?"
It requires more effort, and it's not as though you're remotely close to normal yourself.
"Because John is on his way up from the Underground, and I imagine he'd find this incredibly unsettling."
Oh, curious! You can hear him all the way from there. I assume this is a side-effect of your more recent dalliances?
"Mycroft, please. I'll thank you not to even consider thinking about my 'dalliances' with John. I'm not sure even I could handle the mental trauma resulting from watching my brother imagine me fuck my boyfriend."
Sherlock takes a moment to relish the moue of distaste that crosses Mycroft's face. Although he wasn't imagining the two of them in flagrante delicto earlier, he certainly is now. The brothers shudder in a fraternal and identical gesture that would be comical if it weren't so disturbing.
If you really can hear him from all the way down the street, Sherlock, I am impressed. However, I am still not certain that filling him in on all the sordid details was the most prudent thing you could have done. Mycroft stares into his teacup, as though lost in thought. However, anyone silly enough to think he was actually distracted deserved every horrible fate coming to them. Nothing the elder Holmes ever did was without careful calculation.
"Yes, well, as usual I shall take your opinion under advisement, and then promptly disregard it." Sherlock curls up into a sulky ball, his legs forming a physical and mental barrier between himself and his insufferable upper-class twit of a brother.
Honey, I'm home! John's thoughts carry clearly and brightly up the stairs, and Sherlock's entire body language changes. He goes softly limp, a slow and contented smile creeping cat-like across his face. Mycroft, never one to let anything slip by, notices his brother's shift in composure and smirks.
The good doctor is home then, I take it?
"Oh good on you, being so observant."
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, dear brother.
Sherlock can't bring himself to reply to this and merely snorts.
John can hear Sherlock's irritable half of the conversation, but nobody else. Sorry, Sherlock, I guess you're on the phone. I'll be upstairs.
"John, don't worry, please come inside. Mycroft was just leaving." Sherlock emphasises the last two words, hoping his brother will get the hint that he is overstaying his welcome, such as it was.
John slumps in, tired out from a long day at the office. He hasn't seen Mycroft since finding out Sherlock's impossible secret, but he can't imagine there's any other reason for this impromptu visit. Wearily, he hangs his coat on the back of the door and seeing that his favourite chair is currently occupied by the British government, he sinks into the sofa with a groan.
He looks ragged, Sherlock. What have you been doing to the poor man?
Is he bothering you, Sherlock? Want me to ignore him?
"John, I appreciate the concern but surprisingly enough Mycroft does have my best interests in mind. Mycroft, John is a grown man and capable of deciding for himself when he is too tired to chase after criminals, or follow me to bed. Now would both of you please just talk to me, or this is going to get incredibly awkward."
Both men look uncharacteristically humbled. There really is no precedent for this sort of a conversation, and everyone is learning as they go.
Mycroft balances his prim little teacup on his knee and turns towards John.
"John, my brother has made it clear to me that the nature of your relationship has changed quite…" he pauses, the bridge of his nose wrinkling in a gesture that is oddly familiar to John. Sherlock hears the comparison and huffs, resentful as usual of having anything in common with Mycroft "dramatically. And I don't just mean your relationship in the bedroom, charming as that may be."
John nods. It's quite obvious what everyone's referring to. "Mycroft, I'm fine with it, I really am. It hasn't changed anything."
"I would ask Sherlock to leave so I can discuss this with you in confidence, but I see that there is really no point. Even I were to arrange a private meeting," Sherlock and John both snicker at this, as John thinks kidnap me again, you mean, "everything would just end up right back in Sherlock's head within the hour, so I may as well just do it with him in the room."
John's feeling vaguely overwhelmed and adrift alone on the sofa by this point, and within seconds Sherlock's jumped up over the coffee table to settle down next to him, slightly too close for polite company. Without thinking, John smiles and rests his hand on Sherlock's knee.
Look at you, ' Lock. like some kind of overly loyal pet. What an interesting role reversal.
"Mycroft, make your bloody point and begone. My tolerance is wearing thin."
You? Tolerance? Ha. "Alright, brother mine. John, I apologise. Obviously you do realise how unique Sherlock is, how special."
"I think I probably realise it better than you do, Mycroft."
"There are people who would make a point of harming him in the name of science. He may have mentioned the institute in Norway, but knowing his uncharacteristic concern for your emotional state, I suspect he did not tell you the whole story. When we dropped Sherlock off there, he was a charming, engaging child who didn't quite understand how spectacular he was. He was polite, he was affable. In essence, he was nothing like the man currently sitting next to you. When we came to collect him six months later, it was as though he'd been broken. The tests they performed were violent and unscientific, entirely unsuited to a mere boy. He lashed out at myself and our mother, he withdrew into himself and decided that if some men in white coats were going to label him as a freak, as a monster, he may as well live up to the titles. It got progressively worse as he tried to integrate with other children, and eventually resulted in dangerous instances of self-medication as he got older, I assume in an attempt to silence the multitudinous voices in his head."
Sherlock, is this true? I am so sorry… John squeezes Sherlock's thigh gently and Sherlock rests his own hand on the doctor's.
Mycroft clears his throat and takes a sip of his tea, pausing to compose himself.
"There is a reason, Dr. Watson, that I seem over-protective of my brother. I may have barely been a teenager when this happened, but I felt – feel – responsible. I was the man of the house at the time, and I let him down. I let a beautiful unique creature be destroyed."
John turns to look at Sherlock, who is making a point of studying the wallpaper with incredible tenacity.
"You are a doctor, a man of science, a curious man. You may not be as dogged in your pursuit of knowledge as the men of the Holmes family, but if you were happy with the status quo, content to keep the wool over your eyes, you would never have moved in with Sherlock in the first place. At some point, the mystery that is my brother will become too much for you. You will want, need, to know more. I will not let you hurt him."
"Mycroft, enough! You don't give John enough credit, and I will not allow you to sit here and threaten him." Sherlock is standing again, his body poised and alert as though he is considering lunging at his brother. John's hand on his hip stills him.
Sherlock, it's okay. This is his way of saying he loves you. I understand.
Mycroft is making a point of thinking about nothing at all, letting Sherlock have his little strop. He has made his point clear to John, and judging by both their reactions, he understands. Sherlock curls his lip and flops back down onto the sofa but keeps his eyes trained threateningly on his brother.
"Mycroft, I assure you, my interest in Sherlock has nothing to do with his ability. He can vouch that I've had feelings for him for way longer than I was aware of what he could do." A familiar and charming blush creeps up John's neck and Sherlock, noticing out of the corner of his eye, chuckles softly. "He is a wonder. He is spectacular. He is unique. And I thought all this before I knew. Nothing is going to change. Yes, I am curious. I am infinitely curious about everything to do with him."
John's turned now, to face Sherlock. Even though he's speaking about him in the third person, it's clear these words are for Sherlock's benefit as much as they are for Mycroft's. The taller man finally relaxes and breaks his eye contact with his brother, devoting his full attention to his fiercely protective little doctor.
"At some point, yes, I will want to know more. I will always want to know more. And Sherlock will be right beside me, a willing participant. If we want to learn more about this, we will learn it together. As partners. As equals. Never as doctor and subject. I am doing my best to put him back together, and I will never let anyone break him again."
Mycroft rises from the armchair, his teacup vanishing as mysteriously as it showed up. He turns to face the two men once again leaning against each other on the sofa. John is apprehensive, but Mycroft's face has lost some of its usual harshness. In its place is something close to affection.
"John, it would seem I have underestimated you yet again. I wish I could say I trusted my brother's judgement better, but he's made such questionable choices in the past. I hope you understand my concern."
He may mean well, but he really is quite a pompous git.
At this, Sherlock finally lets out a proper laugh.
"I do, Mycroft. And even though he doesn't acknowledge it, Sherlock is lucky to have you as a brother sometimes. But now I think we would both appreciate it if you took your leave."
With a tiny nod, Mycroft turns towards the door and grabs the umbrella resting against the wall in one elegant gesture and sweeps down the stairs.
"You alright?" Now that they finally have a bit of privacy, John leans over and strokes Sherlock's cheekbone gently with the rough pad of his thumb. "Did you want me to know all that?"
"I would rather have told you myself, if you'd wanted to know. But you handled it all admirably. And thank you, for that… stuff you said." Their conversation's veering into that awkward emotional space that often seems to make Sherlock clam up. John runs his fingers through the chaos of his inky curls. "I meant it, Sherlock. This is only a tiny part of what makes you amazing. And if you ever do decide you need to know more about it – on your own terms – I'll be there with you."
Sherlock finally releases all the tension he's been holding in his neck and shoulders since Mycroft first arrived and leans into John's hand. "Thank you, John. I know I don't say that enough when it's genuinely important. Thank you."
Chapter 6: Protection
First of all, I'd like to take a minute to thank all of you for your amazing support and encouragement. To every single one of you who takes the time to read this and kudos or comment, I really appreciate it.
I do have some actual, honest-to-god, case-style plot coming up, but it probably will not be until the new year. For those of you who don't know, I work in a high-end collectible/toy store. We deal in things like imported Japanese Transformers, Batman sculptures signed by Bruce Timm, limited-run 12" Star Wars figures, etc. Normally this is an epically awesome and pleasant place to work, but mid-December rolls around and I often want to stab myself in the eye with a box-cutter just to have an excuse to go home early. I definitely don't have time to write at work any more (there are days when I don't have time to *pee* before closing), and when I get home I just want to curl up on the couch and turn my brain off. On top of that I have physio several times this month, a consult with a new neurologist, and Christmas shopping and baking to take care of. I wrote this little bit of h/c/fluff because I needed it, but I hope it's enough to tide you guys over until I get back into the swing of things and write a real chapter. This was inspired by my 221-B drabbble, "Beat", which was in turn inspired by Livia Carica's incredible "Somnophilia" series of drawings.
Anyway, enough rambling – you're here for a story. Love you all!
It's been a long week, they've been chasing a lead around London for days now, and both men are bone-weary, exhausted. When they finally get back to the flat, Sherlock can hear the undercurrent in John's mind when he says he's going up to bed. The one that says "as much as I'd love a mind-blowing shag, please don't follow me upstairs because if I don't get some sleep soon I will pass out and possibly die." He kisses the top of John's head, smiling into his rumpled, sandy hair before sweeping into the sitting room. John mumbles affectionately and plods up the stairs. Sherlock waits a few moments, listening to him blunder through his night-time routine before settling into bed. He tosses and turns for barely three minutes before sleep finally catches him and he stills.
Sherlock's still buzzing with a manic energy so he takes the time to review a few old cases and makes a half-hearted attempt at tidying the sitting room, piles of detritus having built up while the two of them were preoccupied. It's not long though before he bores of his attempt at domesticity and flings himself onto the frequently abused sofa. He closes his eyes and slows his breathing, fingers steepled below his chin in his characteristic thinking pose.
He clears his mind, and it's not long before it's filled with vague, unfamiliar pictures. Hazy watercolour images of a wide desert and the sharp cry of a circling hawk. John is dreaming then. Sherlock smiles, enjoying a rare moment where he's nothing but grateful for his eerie ability. He holds these moments dear, thankful for being able to share something so private and beautiful with John.
However, it's not long before the calm blue sky of his lover's dreamscape turns cloudy with smoke and scattered sand. The sharp, metallic tang of fresh blood fills Sherlock's mind. A nightmare then – no longer something to cherish. Without a second thought Sherlock bounds up the stairs to John's room, the room they share more often than not lately. In the deep blue light of midnight, Sherlock sees John thrashing wildly, his legs tangled in the sheets and his shirt bunched up around his torso. The air is cold and still, contrasting sharply with John's fevered, anxious movements. Sherlock grits his teeth and rubs his temples, doing his best to block the mental onslaught of the increasingly vivid nightmare. His vision has gone red with blood and anger and fire, but beyond that he sees the desperate need of his partner.
Lowering himself onto the bed as gently as he is able, he stretches out next to John, slotting in under his out-flung arm. Sherlock splays one hand out across John's exposed chest, his impossibly long fingers caressing the map of scars and birthmarks. Sherlock makes a point of breathing much more slowly and deeply than usual, his own chest pressing against John's ribs with every exhale, trying to encourage the doctor's subconscious to pull in a deep breath or two between his shallow panting ones.
Suddenly John shouts in his sleep and grips the sheets, and Sherlock's mind goes blank with pain. His shoulder is on fire. How can John endure this night after night? Sherlock bites his lip and buries his face in the taut tendons of John's neck, as much for his own comfort as for the beleaguered army doctor's. This is the first time he's experienced John's phantom pain so clearly as his own, the sensation seeping from one half of their partnership to the other. He wraps his body tighter around the smaller, trembling man's, but leaves his arms and legs free in case John wakes up and panics, feeling confined. Sherlock wants to comfort him, not to trap him.
As he clings to John, the pictures in Sherlock's mind start to turn soft around the edges again, the explosions going all hazy like a television with bad reception. John's breathing finally slows and steadies, coming now in full circular respirations rather than the shallow gasps that signalled his previous distress. Sherlock loosens his hold on the smaller man, one hand stroking lightly over the soft skin on John's stomach while the other runs through his sweat-damp hair. Slowly, the dream-picture changes, the sky darkening to a dusky purple. Sherlock watches as someone walks slowly into the picture, smiling as he recognises himself. In John's mind, Sherlock's hair is wildly curly, giving him a dashing and rakish air. His eyes are quicksilver sharp, but his face is uncharacteristically warm. He looks much more handsome than Sherlock thinks he actually is – leave it to John to embellish his own dreams. The thing that strikes Sherlock more than anything though is how warm and open he looks in John's mind. He's so used to seeing himself as cold, calculating, freakish, even hateful in the thoughts of others. His heart beats erratically and his breath catches his throat as he realises this is what he must look like when someone actually loves him. It's entirely alien, a little bit shocking, but not unwelcome.
The dream image dims and flickers, as if he's losing reception. He can feel the tension shift in John's body as he wakes slowly. He blinks, slightly disoriented and still hazy with sleep, and scrunches his face up in a way Sherlock finds heartbreakingly endearing.
"Hey, Sherlock. You… you were in my dream. You came to save me."
Sherlock smiles as John rolls onto his side and nuzzles his face blearily into the long expanse of Sherlock's pale throat. Long, slim arms wrap tightly around John's torso, gently pulling his shirt back down, and Sherlock murmurs softly against the fluttering pulse under a tanned, sweat-slick temple.
"I did, John. And I always will."
Chapter 7: Salvation
Things have been blissfully peaceful in 221-B for several weeks now. Sherlock’s been idly working on a few cold cases, just enough to keep him from getting bored but not so much that he and John haven’t had time to relax and just spend a few quiet days enjoying each others’ company. They haven’t had any more big arguments, and Mycroft’s thankfully been keeping a respectable distance.
They’ve been experimenting too. It seems that the more John trusts Sherlock, the more he lets him in physically, the more he can let him in mentally too. They’ve now got a comfortable range of nearly fifteen miles before Sherlock loses track of John’s consistent train of thought, and even then if they concentrate he can hear him from a greater distance. Sometimes, when John is bored between patients at the surgery he’ll let his mind wander a bit (often meandering to places entirely inappropriate for a work environment), and when he gets home Sherlock is more than eager to put John’s thoughts into actions, without either man having to say a thing.
Sherlock has taken to generally subconsciously listening for John when he’s not around, even if it’s only for his own comfort. He wants to give the smaller man his privacy, but he finds his thoughts solid and safe and comforting. This morning, however, he’d just ducked out to the Tesco’s to get a few things for dinner, and there’s been a bit of an unspoken agreement to give John some peace and let Sherlock occupy his mind with the pile of cold cases instead.
He’s sprawled dramatically on the sofa, head flat on one of the seat cushions and both legs flung over one arm, completely lost in thought when he hears it, incredibly quietly at first.
sherlock. help me.
He springs up off the sofa in one swift movement and holds himself entirely still in the middle of the sitting room. He closes his eyes, fingers pressed to his temples as if it will help him tune in better.
Sherlock, I don’t know if you can hear me. I hope so. I’m not sure where I am, they knocked me out.
Sharply sucking in a breath, he whirls around the flat in a flurry of uncharacteristic panic, slapping on two fresh nicotine patches, stripping off his dressing gown and pulling his suit jacket on over his pyjamas before cursing and pulling it off again. He stops and attempts to ground himself, barging into his room – their room? they’ve been alternating lately – gulping in a few deep breaths, and dressing properly. His hair is a ridiculous tangle but for once he’s decidedly unconcerned about his appearance. Once he’s dressed he stops again, forcing himself to listen for John.
Sherlock. If you’re listening… I don’t know where I am but it’s bloody dark and about twenty feet by eight feet, if I’m pacing right. There’s a bit of a strange echo. I hope you can hear this, I hope it makes sense… My head aches, I think I’m going to rest a bit.
“No, John! Keep thinking!” Sherlock finds himself shouting to the empty flat. He pinches the bridge of his nose, shoulders hunched in pre-emptive defeat as he grabs his coat and scarf. He bolts up to John’s room, hoping he’s left his gun at home. Thankfully, he has. Sherlock tucks it into the waist of his trousers, at the small of his back, making sure it’s well-hidden by his suit jacket and coat. He very nearly flies down the seventeen stairs to the main landing, gives a perfunctory shout to Mrs. Hudson, and storms outside to flag down a taxi.
He spends the entire ride listening in vain for snippets or hints of John, but he seems to be asleep – all Sherlock gets are vague dark pictures of London at night, and occasionally distorted views of his own face. He finds a small bit of solace in the idea that John is dreaming of him, rather than having stress-related nightmares.
When they arrive at NSY he exits the taxi and throws a few bills at the driver without saying anything and marches into the building with such determination on his face that nobody questions his right to be there. As he approaches DI Lestrade’s office, Sherlock is assaulted by the spiteful undercurrents of the Yarders’ thoughts.
Freak. Weirdo. Where’s his little boyfriend? Pompous fucking arse. Queer. Nutter. Shame such a warped brain is in such a gorgeous package. Psycho. Maybe the poor doctor finally up and left him. Madman. Lunatic. Arsehole. Freak, freak, freak.
Thankfully, years of practice have allowed him to tune them all out and he marches up to Lestrade’s desk with his head held high. It’s only when the door closes that he loses his composure.
“Lestrade. Greg. Help me. They’ve got him. They’ve got John.”
The DI looks up at Sherlock’s abnormally frantic face, paler than usual and slightly clammy.
“Sherlock, slow down. Have a seat. What’s happened? Who has him?” Oh god, not this again. Is he stoned? I thought John was having a better influence on him…
“Someone’s taken John. What’s so hard to understand about this?!” Sherlock slams his hands against Lestrade’s desk in frustration, sending papers flying.
“Who? How long has he been gone? Did you get a note?”
“I’m not sure, but I have my suspicions. I just…” Sherlock sighs and attempts to calm himself. “I just know, alright? Hasn’t that always been enough?”
“Sherlock, when did he disappear?” What am I getting myself into here? Why do I always follow him so blindly?
“This morning. He went to run some errands, and he’s not back. But…”
Lestrade holds up a hand, cutting Sherlock off. “Maybe he’s just getting some air?” Something’s been different between you two lately; maybe you finally pissed him off enough to leave for a bit?
“Things were fine when he left. More than fine. Not that it’s any of your business.”
Lestrade scowls at Sherlock, unnerved at how the man, as usual, has been able to figure out exactly what he was thinking.
“Do you trust me, Lestrade? This is important. I can’t tell you how I know, just believe me when I say that I know. John has been taken somewhere, against his will. As you seem to have figured out, the nature of our relationship has changed somewhat recently, and I suspect a certain someone is trying to use that to his advantage. I…” Sherlock sucks his lower lip in and steels himself before admitting it “I need you.” He must do, if he’s willing to admit to it, Lestrade finds himself thinking.
“Alright then. Sit down, have a coffee, we’ll get this sorted out. What do we know so far?”
Sherlock’s pacing the width of Lestrade’s tiny office, fingers tangled in his unruly curls. “We don’t have time for coffee. I have my suspicions about where he is, but you have to believe me, you have to trust me. I can’t explain how I know, you just have to trust that I am being sincere. I suspect he’s suffered some head trauma, and it would seem he’s being kept in an industrial shipping container.”
“That seems awfully specific. Sherlock, has he texted you? Has whoever’s got him contacted you somehow? I want to trust you, but even you have to see how suspicious this looks.” Last time I trusted Sherlock Holmes without any proof, I ended up in more bureaucratic hot water than I’d ever like to deal with again… and how is it that he knows so much? Come to think of it, where’s that meddlesome brother of his, this sort of thing seems right—
“MYCROFT!” Lestrade’s train of thought is interrupted by Sherlock’s shouting. Something about the way he says his brother’s name sounds more like a curse word than an endearment. He pulls his phone out from the folds of his voluminous coat, thumbs flying as he sends a text.
John’s been taken. Anything on your camera network, Big Brother? – SH
You petulantly insisted that I “let up” on the surveillance. I am rather impressed by the cultural reference though, heavy-handed as it was. –MH
What good are you, you poncy git? FIND HIM. – SH
I will ask my team to review this morning’s tapes and get back to you. –MH
Sherlock sighs and finally gives in, sinking into a chair as the adrenaline from this morning gives way to anxiety. He tosses his phone away with a scowl before turning back to Lestrade.
“My brother is attempting to track him down, but that could take hours. Can’t you just send out teams to wherever there might be a shipping container? I’m sure they’ve got nothing better to do.”
Lestrade raises one salt-and-pepper eyebrow at Sherlock, who realises how absurd his request was without even having to eavesdrop on the DI’s train of thought.
“Alright, fine. Just shut up a minute and let me think.”
It’s a testament to Lestrade’s patience, and his faith in Sherlock, that he continues to say nothing. Sherlock closes his eyes, the balls of his hands pressed solidly against his eyes as if to block out all light. He feels a chill in his bones that has nothing to do with the climate control system at NSY, or even the anxiety of the current situation. John’s still asleep, which worries him. Generally in situations of stress the military side of his partner kicks in, and he’s capable of staying awake for hours, even days. Sherlock finds himself worrying about the head trauma.
John’s dreams have turned icy, familiar landscapes covered with snow and frost, which confirms Sherlock’s initial suspicions. It also means that aside from a potential concussion, they’ve got impending hypothermia to worry about.
“Lestrade, have you decided to trust me yet? He’s in a cold storage locker somewhere. A large one. Large enough to fit a standard cargo unit inside of.”
Lestrade’s face looks pinched. Sherlock can tell he’s fighting with himself – his faith in the detective conflicting with his worry about where this info is coming from.
“Greg” he tries to appeal to the inspector’s human side, sliding into his pleading, sympathetic persona like a second skin. “I wish I could explain all this, I do. Maybe one day I’ll be able to. But for now you need to have faith. You know how I feel about John…” at this, Sherlock’s phone beeps and picks it up off the floor where it landed earlier.
He was seen being herded into a generic black saloon near your flat. The car was captured on camera heading south along the A23 about half an hour later, at which point we lost it. –MH
Sherlock scowls at the screen. That narrows it down to an extent, but there’s still so many variables. Somewhere cold, large. Somewhere a shipping container would be unnoticed, or at the very least overlooked. Somewhere south of them. The biggest variable is the fact that he can hear John. Neither of them are really sure what their maximum range is at this point. It’s not constant, so at least over fifteen miles, but there’s roughly fifty miles between London and the southern coast.
He murmurs to himself, ignoring Lestrade in favour of flipping through maps online on his phone, when he hears John again. He seems more alert this time.
Sherlock, god, I hope you’re listening, I feel ridiculous but it’s my only hope at this point. I was tied up while I was asleep, and I’m cold. So cold. I think I smell jet fuel as well. Suddenly everything in Sherlock’s mind clicks into place. I think I’ll go back to sleep for a bit. It was quite noisy earlier, but it’s quiet now… Nice and peaceful. Sherlock checks his watch, as if to confirm. Twenty after five in the afternoon. It fits.
“He’s at Gatwick, in the cold food storage area of the cargo terminal. Lestrade, I’m sure of it. Get them to close it down. Call in suspicions of a terror plot or something.”
“I can’t get them to close down an entire airport on a hunch, Sherlock!”
“Just the cargo terminal, then. Please!” This time the plea in his voice is genuine, and Lestrade can tell the difference. He picks up his phone and makes the call, hoping he won’t regret it later.
Galvanised by the official call to action, Sherlock marches back into the common area outside Lestrade’s office. He’s about to start barking orders when he feels a firm hand on his shoulder, and hesitates for a moment before deferring to the detective inspector. Lestrade rallies together a team of uniformed police officers, plain-clothes detectives, and puts in a call for an ambulance to join them. He nods to Sergeant Donovan but puts his foot down when Anderson comes crawling out of some hallway somewhere, before Sherlock even has time to complain. “This is just a search and rescue, we’ll check out whatever remains of a crime scene later so you can stay put for today.” The relief coming from the tall, brooding man is nearly palpable. Not that he’d ever bother to thank me, Lestrade thinks bitterly. Sherlock puts a hand on his shoulder and nods, the best he can do at the moment.
They organise the convoy, meeting the awaiting ambulance outside the front door. Sherlock slides into the passenger seat of Lestrade’s car, some unspoken agreement between them that he needs a bit of peace and quiet, and will be better off there than in one of the squad cars or a taxicab right now.
They’re about halfway between downtown London and the airport when Sherlock starts hearing John’s thoughts as a constant, coherent stream, rather than only the broken snippets from earlier. He’s certain now that they’re heading in the right direction. He can tell that John is cold and uncomfortable, and as much as he’d never admit it, he’s afraid. Sherlock understands how much John hates not knowing where he is, or who put him there, and finds himself wishing (not for the first time) that his gift could go both ways. If only he could let John know he was on his way.
He stares out the passenger window of the detective inspector’s car, drumming his long fingers on the arm rest. To any casual observer he’d be the picture of calm detachment, but Greg Lestrade has known Sherlock Holmes for long enough to see the tension in his jaw, the hard set of his eyes, the way he’s holding his shoulders.
“He’ll be fine, Sherlock. We’ll get him, we’ll figure out who did this.”
“You know who did this, Lestrade. We all do. Mori—”
Lestrade cringes. “Don’t say it. We can’t be certain yet.” He looks away from the road for a moment to make eye contact with Sherlock. “Who else? Who else would know exactly where to hurt me?”
What are they to each other, anyway? He sounds so… broken without John right now.
“You may as well ask, Greg. Your train of thought is obvious.”
“So, uh, alright then. You and John? Finally?”
Sherlock finds himself smiling for the first time since John left this morning. “Yes, alright, fine. We finally accepted what everyone else seems to have assumed from the get-go. However, I trust you to be discreet about it, I’m not sure if he’s comfortable with everyone knowing yet.”
Lestrade just nods, a small but satisfied smile on his face, and goes back to staring at the road.
They pass the rest of the trip in relative silence, at the head of a long train of emergency vehicles. Soon, Sherlock can see the airport coming up on them in the foreground. He finds himself listening to John’s mind again, but he’s drifting off once more, and all Sherlock can hear is the repeated litany of his own name. Sherlocksherlocksherlocksherlock…
As soon as they’re within the limits of the airport, Lestrade gets the entire convoy to activate all their lights and sirens at full blare, allowing them to barrel through the security gates. They surround the cargo terminal, several of the vehicles – Lestrade’s car and an ambulance among them – using the internal service routes to get into the building, the rest of the men following on foot. Thankfully the cargo flights only run during standard business hours, and the terminal is mostly empty, only basic security and cleaning crews lurking around, and they’ve all been informed of a police action and told to leave the premises.
Finally, they find the cold storage section and burst in. Sherlock shouts, his voice booming out. “John, we’re here! We’ve got you. Just hold on!”
SHERLOCK! John’s thoughts are disoriented but incredibly warm and incredibly close. I’m so cold, and my arms have gone numb. Please come find me…
The peace Sherlock feels at John’s presence is shattered when he’s interrupted by another recognisable mental voice.
Hello, sexy. Did you enjoy my little puzzle? Your little pet was sooooo cooperative. Sherlock freezes, the unbalanced Irish lilt filling his head.
“Everyone, GET DOWN” he bellows, his baritone carrying across the storage area.
Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Sherly. The implied familiarity of the awful nickname makes Sherlock’s skin crawl. I’m miiiiiles away by now. From the corner of his eye, Sherlock spies the blinking red light of a CCTV camera trained on him. He takes two steps to the left, the camera follows. Without a moment’s hesitation he pulls John’s gun out from behind his back and shoots the camera square in the lens.
That wasn’t very sportsmanlike. Now I can’t watch your happy little reunion. Moriarty’s thoughts sound childlike and ill-tempered in his head, causing Sherlock to cringe at the intrusion, but he can tell the man’s being as sincere as he knows how – there are no more cameras, no snipers. Really, all I wanted was some confirmation, and I’ve got it now. You spectacular creature, you! I’ll let you go be the hero now, go save your dull little boyfriend.
He can feel the tension leaving his body as Moriarty’s mental presence dissipates, he’s gotten far enough away that Sherlock can’t hear him any longer. They’re safe, at least for the time being. He can’t hear any of Moriarty’s minions in the surrounding area either.
Sherlock?! What’s going on out there? Say something, I need to hear you.
“John! We’re still here. Everyone else, at ease, false alarm. John, where are you?”
Sherlock begins running up and down the aisles between the containers, thumping the side of each one methodically. The police officers that tagged along figure out what he’s doing, following suit. It will go much more quickly this way.
Eventually, one of them smacks a metal unit loud and hard, and Sherlock can feel the reverberations in his teeth.
Yes! This one! He hears. “We’re coming, John!”
The units are stacked so tightly, John’s makeshift prison crammed between two other units on either side, and one on top, there’s no way they’ll be able to access the hatch. Two men step forward, thick gloves on their hands and acetylene cutters under their arms. They make quick work of slicing a reasonably sized hole in the side of the container and Sherlock pushes them out of the way, stepping in and sweeping across the inside with a torch.
John blinks at the sudden rush of light, but he barely has a moment to reorient himself before he’s enveloped in the folds of Sherlock’s great bloody coat, Sherlock’s hands running lightly over the cut on the back of his head. They cling together for a second before John coughs, reminding Sherlock that he’s still bound and gagged. The taller man looks sheepish for a moment before untying the rag around John’s mouth and freeing his wrists and ankles. He pulls his coat off and drapes it over his brave army doctor.
“You came for me.” John’s voice is trembling, Sherlock can’t tell if it’s nerves, cold, or a combination of the two.
“Of course I did, I said I always would, didn’t I?”
“Sentimental fool. Help me up, would you?”
Sherlock chuckles nervously, sliding his arms around John’s torso and pulling him up as a medical tech hovers in the improvised doorway, a gurney behind her. Sherlock steers John towards her, and he tries to argue, shaking his head briefly before the throbbing wound reminds him that he does, indeed, need at least minor medical attention.
Sherlock and the tech guide him gently onto the bed, wrapping him in several garish orange blankets. The two men look at the blankets and smile fondly at each other. They really should start a proper collection. He can hear all the thoughts of the Yarders around them, some sweet, some rude, some outright obscene, but right now all he’s got room for in his head is John. Brave, intelligent, marvellous John.
“It was you, you know. Without you, I never would have figured it out.”
“I was a little out of it, but I gave you what clues I could. I knew you’d make sense of it all eventually. I didn’t know if you’d be able to hear it.”
Sherlock brushes John’s sandy hair off his forehead, and then ignoring the confused onlookers, kisses his brow gently once before letting the irritable med tech bundle him further and slide him into the ambulance that’s found its way into the unit.
“I’m going with him” Sherlock announces, in a tone that no one dares argue with, and he very nearly glides into the back of the ambulance, one hand resting on John’s forehead.
“Can’t they just stitch my head up and let me go home?”
“Isn’t that my line?” Sherlock jokes, and John giggles. A warm, genuine laugh that goes straight to Sherlock’s heart.
The trip back into London is quick and uneventful, due to the helpful expedient of lights and sirens on the ambulance roof. The medics at least assent to take John to a hospital near home, rather than the A&E of some unfamiliar one near the airport, and after a quick and irritable text to Mycroft, Sherlock requests that they take John to the Princess Grace. At least there they’ll be assured some discretion and quick service. They stitch up the wound on the back of the doctor’s head, and a CT scan shows no permanent damage. He’s cold, but not suffering from hypothermia, so after Sherlock guarantees that he’s perfectly capable of keeping John warm, thank you very much, they let the two men go home. The relief on John’s face is clear, and Sherlock pulls him into the folds of his coat again, holding the smaller man tightly to his chest.
Let’s get going, Sherlock. I’m cold, and tired, and I want you to warm me up.
“We need to talk about this at some point though. He got to us today, I feel responsible for your safety... And I do owe Lestrade a debt of gratitude, as painful as it is to admit.”
Sherlock nods, gently kissing the top of John’s head and ignoring the confused looks of the people around them, taking in the seemingly one-sided conversation. He’s too relieved to worry about that sort of thing right now.
“Tomorrow. Let’s get you home, safe and sound.”
That’ll be a nice change of pace.
Chapter 8: Isolation
I am so sorry there's been so much of a delay between chapters. Thank you all for your constant support, commenting, etc. The holidays were kind of crazy, and then Reichenbach happened... I had this chapter all planned out and there was a huge amount of angst in the works. I just couldn't bear to torture our boys more than canon already had, so motivating myself to write was nigh-impossible. I'd finally gotten back into my groove when my aunt and uncle's house burned to the ground, and my home life went all sideways.
Things have finally stabilised, and while I'm not quite as thrilled with this chapter as I was with previous ones, it's done and I can move on, finally. Thank you all for being so patient. There will be delicious angry smut in the next chapter to make up for the huge gap.
It's been a few days since John's abduction and the dramatic rescue, and Sherlock is starting to drive John crazy with his constant fussing.
"John, are you positive you're alright after all that?"
"Honestly, Sherlock. I think I liked you better before you started caring so much. You're like a mother hen - it's unnatural." John tries to sound annoyed, but there's warmth and humour in his voice. "Besides, you of all people would be able to tell if I were lying."
Sherlock smiles, that rare, genuine, lop-sided smirk that always melts John's heart. "It's still novel, you know."
"What, caring about someone?"
"Not exactly. Having someone to care about." At this, Sherlock doesn't so much hear as feel the overwhelming waves of emotion pouring from John as he gets up and wraps his arms around Sherlock's lean torso. I love you too, you git.
John shuffles across the sitting room and flips open his laptop. Now shush, I need to figure out how to write about these past few days without causing my friends and Harry to panic.
Sherlock chuckles and settles contentedly into his armchair, revelling in the quiet domesticity of it all. He's surprised at how comforting he finds it. How very not boring.
They've been sitting together in peace, John working on his blog and Sherlock poring over some vintage chemistry textbook more out of curiosity than for any legitimate edification, when it happens. His head is suddenly filled with a distastefully familiar and unstable voice; a sing-song mockery of an Irish lilt, punctuated with emphatic shouts.
It would be touching, your devotion, if it weren't so DULL. That sappy grin on his face, it's revolting. He's making you normal, Sherlock. We can't have that, now can we? You seemed to have so much fun with my last little test, don't you think we should do it again?
With some effort, Sherlock's face slides into a blank mask. He smiles politely at John, who is nattering away about something he's writing on the blog and looking at Sherlock like he's expecting a response. Clearly the attempt to look neutral is failing; John stops mid-sentence.
"Mm? What? Fine."
Don't lie to me, Sherlock. Something's wrong... John drops into a squat, resting his hands on Sherlock's knees and staring into his eyes. They're dull and grey, not a glimmer of colour or excitement to be seen. I may not be able to hear you, but I can read you like a book by now. Tell me.
"I..." suddenly, the only solution is perfectly clear in Sherlock's mind, and he absolutely hates it. "Not feeling well. I think I'm going to turn in early." John still looks as though he doesn't quite believe Sherlock, but doesn't argue.
"Alright. I'll follow you in a bit, I'd just like to finish up this entry."
Sherlock takes advantage of the time alone to spin around his room like an angry dervish, whipping things out of drawers, pulling clothing out of the wardrobe. He shoves things haphazardly into a small suitcase and nudges it behind the door, slightly obscuring it from view. When John finally comes to bed it's dark enough and he's tired enough that he doesn't notice the room in disarray. Or if he does notice, he doesn't have the energy to mention it.
Sherlock's still quite obviously agitated when John crawls into bed, but he's made the mistake of taking Sherlock at face value and doesn't push the issue. The consulting detective kisses John perfunctorily on the shoulder before curling up, facing away from him. Within minutes, he can hear John snoring quietly, and soon the blurred images of his dreams are giving him some slight semblance of calm. Sherlock stays awake though, lying in bed until he's positive John won't wake up. He slides out quietly and grabs the suitcase.
The following morning, when John wakes, Sherlock's already gotten out of bed. There's nothing particularly unusual about that, but there's an astonishing lack of noise from elsewhere in the flat. John stretches and rolls out of Sherlock's bed and straight into the kitchen. Not only are his lover's coat and scarf missing, but the kitchen and sitting room have been tidied up, experiments stored away and books put back on shelves. His violin case is gone too. John feels his blood run cold as he sees a small folded card on the kitchen table, his name written in Sherlock's elegant scrawl.
I left while you were asleep - it was easier.
I wasn't in the mood to deal with the drama
and tedium of a domestic argument. I'm bored.
I feel stifled. Don't bother looking for me.
I've paid the rent through the month.
John's knees go weak. He braces himself against the cool tiled wall of the kitchen and slides to the floor. I should have noticed. Something was wrong last night. How did I not notice... He's not thinking for Sherlock's benefit - yet - but the consulting detective can still hear him. He's still close enough to hear the anguished spill-over, John's still out of control enough to let it all flow out of him.
The bedsit where Sherlock's holed himself up is spartan and drab, nearly a mirror of the dreary room John was living in before they met. Something about the strange symmetry pleases him. The consulting detective has been spending the bulk of his time trying to think of a way to stop the implied threat on John's safety, and to a lesser extent, his own. However, every so often he indulges himself, lying on the bed with his fingers templed at his chin, simply listening to the man he just walked out on.
SHERLOCK! John's train of thought becomes pointed, focused. Sherlock snaps to attention. I know bloody well you're listening. I know you. This letter is bullshit. This is some idiotic gesture, isn't it? Your idea of being noble - you're protecting me from what happened. Well, you're an idiot. And then, as though out of spite, he goes silent. For once, Sherlock finds himself incredibly frustrated that John's been practicing, learning to obfuscate his mind. He's far enough that so long as John doesn't dwell on anything too strongly or focus too clearly, Sherlock won't be able to hear or feel him properly.
Sighing, Sherlock throws himself onto the single bed and stares at the ceiling, a portion of his mind focused on dealing with the threats at hand, and another portion constantly attempting to listen for John. Every so often he gets a small snippet and clings to it - water in the desert, oxygen in a sinking ship. No matter how much it hurts.
Was it something I did? Am I pushing you too far, too fast? I'll stop, I swear.
He stays like this for the bulk of the day, the changing of the light filtering through the filthy window is his only clue to the passing of time. Eventually, once the room is nearly black, only the sickly yellow glow of the streetlamps outside highlighting the odd angle or corner of the room, he succumbs to a few hours of fitful, emotionally drained sleep.
The next few days are more of the same. Sherlock barely moves, his body at rest while his mind runs marathon after marathon. He plucks irritably at his violin and debates tracking down something to fill his vintage syringe with, but decides even that's not worth the effort. In the end, he comforts himself with listening to John again. It's not spying, he convinces himself. It's for John's safety.
Sod it, Sherlock. Just come home. We can talk about whatever's bothering you...
John's mind keeps swinging wildly between anger, longing, despondency, and complete and total silence. The silence scares Sherlock more than anything. He constantly finds himself wondering if John really is simply clearing his head, or if the separation is slowly severing the connection they've built up these past few months.
You know what? Fuck you. Go off, be selfish, leave me alone here. Everyone does, eventually.
This one hurts more than all the others, but Sherlock knows it's necessary. He thinks back to the early days, the revelation and the openness, the exploration that came after. It gives him a moment's solace, reliving that first night on the couch, their first kiss, the touching that came after. Awkwardly, he finds himself starting to get aroused and abruptly switches his train of thought to the look on John's face when Sherlock found him in that cargo crate. So tired, so cold, so frightened. He can't bear the idea of doing that to John again. This really is for the best. John's safety is paramount.
Suddenly, his reverie is interrupted by another familiar thought pattern - erratic and jarring.
Your pooooor pet, Sherlock. Your lost little lamb. The alliteration, the animal metaphors, they all make Sherlock cringe. Moriarty's having fun with this, turning it all in to some sick fairy tale. I've been keeping an eye on him for you. Aren't I a good friend? Did you really think that breaking his sad lump of a heart would protect him? Don't you think it would be SO much more FUN for me to just snatch him up now that he's alone and vulnerable, and force you to listen as I turn him against you?
Think of it, Sherlock. Me and little Johnny Watson, against the world. We'd be unstoppable!
Sherlock shudders as he feels the oily oppressiveness of Moriarty's thoughts lift; he was close enough to project, but far enough to scarper off as soon as his point was made. It frustrates Sherlock to see exactly how familiar Moriarty has gotten with his uncanny peculiarity, how he can so easily exploit the range of it, understand so well how it all works. He braces his shoulders, flipping his phone over and over in his hand while he thinks. There's only one thing to do. He opens a new text.
John, I've made a terrible mistake. Can I come home? -SH
Sherlock stares intently at his phone, waiting for a reply. Leave it to John to surprise him yet again, to never, ever be boring. He smiles as he feels the love in John's thoughts spread over him.
Of course, you daft bastard. And bring some milk, would you? We're nearly out.
Chapter 9: Absolution
This chapter contains men going at it. If that's not your thing, please move along!
Sorry there's been such a delay between the past few chapters. Thankfully my life has settled down and I'm back in some decent writing headspace, so the last few chapters will be quicker in coming.
The setting sun glints off the edges of the brass numbers, the door looming big and black in Sherlock's vision. He can sense John, closer than he'd anticipated, just on the other side. Sitting on the stairs then. Sherlock finds himself wondering how long John's been there - ever since he sent the text? He shifts the jug of milk he remembered to pick up nervously from one hand to the other.
He tries to get a reading on John's mood, his train of thought, but infuriatingly, the man's making a concentrated effort to think of nothing at all. Sherlock's not comfortable with the idea of going in entirely unprepared, but he also realises that he deserves anything he's got coming. He squares his shoulders and takes a moment to adjust the collar of his coat before catching himself. Ever since John called him out on it, he's been trying to be less obvious. With a shrug, he nudges the door open.
As soon as John realises Sherlock is well and truly home, he loses whatever control he had on his mental state. The assault on Sherlock is a fragmented combination of words and thoughts.
"How could you?" You utter bastard. "You should have TOLD me." I thought you meant it. Thought you were bored with me. "You're a dick." I missed you.
Before Sherlock has time to react, John has enveloped him in his solid, warm arms. He smells comfortingly of wool, tea, and cheap soap. Of home. Sherlock feels his knees go weak and he leans against the textured wallpaper, pulling John with him. He lowers the milk to the floor, afraid of dropping it.
"He was threatening you, John. I had to. I thought-"
No, clearly you didn't think.
"I thought you'd be... safer."
"Safer? Fuck, Sherlock. I couldn't function without you before..." Before I fell in love with you. "What makes you think I would have been alright without you after all this?"
John cups Sherlock's jaw in his hands and pulls him down so they're level, pulls their lips so close they're breathing each other in. Sherlock, you're the smartest man I know, and you are an idiot. From now on, if we run, we run together. With that, John presses his lips against Sherlock's, kissing him with an angry intensity neither of them have experienced with each other until now. Sherlock feels lost and disoriented, hands scrabbling against the solid familiarity of John's jumper, and eventually he just gives in and lets John kiss him until his mind goes blissfully quiet.
Neither of them are sure how long they stand there, John invading Sherlock's mouth as though he's laying claim to new territory, but eventually they are interrupted by the polite but distinct cough of Mrs. Hudson.
"Sherlock, dear, I'm happy to see you home, but can you two please bicker upstairs? I'm trying to watch my shows."
John pulls back, looking suitably ashamed, and nods an apology before grabbing Sherlock by the coat and hauling him up the seventeen steps to the landing of their flat. The milk lies forgotten at the bottom of the stairs.
When he turns back around to face Sherlock, his body language and facial expression have changed dramatically, and the positively obscene things he's thinking about are pouring off him in waves. Sherlock smirks, drawing one finger along John's jawline.
"Maybe we should go up to your room, less chance of disturbing Mrs. Hudson." Sherlock's voice is a low purr in the back of his throat.
"Don't think for one second that I'm not mad at you anymore. I've just.. missed you, is all." John coughs, his ears a furious red that Sherlock chalks up to a combination of arousal, anger, and embarrassment. Instead of arguing, he puts more effort into imagining throwing Sherlock face-first onto the bed and fucking him furiously. His mind wanders to lubing up two fingers and sliding them into Sherlock with little to no preparation, then jumps to him slamming his hips hard and fast against Sherlock's smooth, lavish arse, jumps again to the sight of Sherlock, relaxed and malleable, lying in a debauched heap on the bed.
Watching the whole thing unfold in John's thoughts proves to be more than enough suggestion for Sherlock, who finds himself clambering up the stairs in a shockingly ungainly manner. John smirks to himself and takes advantage of the angle to admire the swell of Sherlock's rear end in his tailored trousers.
"John Watson, you filthy cad." The low voice booms from the top landing, and John can't help but let out a low, throaty laugh, the first one since Sherlock left.
John takes a moment to calm himself and attempt to clear his head. He has to remind himself that Sherlock did something selfish and stupid, and he's still not ready to forgive him for it.
I want you naked and settled in by the time I get up there, Sherlock. No room for discussion. John's slowly growing hard, and at the mere idea of Sherlock stripping for him, his cock throbs slightly. He takes a deep breath and follows Sherlock up the stairs, pushing the door open with his foot when he gets to the top.
The sight that greets him is enough to make him crack another smile. Sherlock's followed his orders with exceptional enthusiasm, but he's perched awkwardly on the edge of the bed, one leg bent underneath him and the other bracing himself against the floor. He looks as though he wasn't sure how to position himself, where to wait, and somehow made a compromise between supplication on his knees and comfort on the bed. What catches John's attention the most, though, is how aroused Sherlock is. His cock is swollen and lurid between his legs, completely erect and brushing against his stomach.
Since they started being intimate, John's always treated him gently, going slowly and ensuring Sherlock was comfortable with the situation. He'd never expected him to react so strongly to being manhandled and ordered around. Something about his willingness and pliancy goes straight to John's groin, the swelling in his pants getting uncomfortable now.
I did that to you. Me.
"God, yes, John. You did"
Come here. Come see what you've done to me.
Somehow, Sherlock manages to make his sprawl off the bed and onto the floor look elegant. He kneels in front of John, resting his face on John's hip, next to his now-prominent erection.
Go on then, do something about it.
John's head is filled with explicit images - Sherlock's mouth on John's cock, John's fingers leaving livid bruises on Sherlock's hips as he pounds into him, and they're making Sherlock even more desperately aroused. He manages to undo John's jeans, jerking them down quickly. He pulls them to John's ankles and he steps out of them, one hand fisted in Sherlock's hair, ostensibly for balance. He guides Sherlock's lips to the straining front of his pants, the pictures in his mind clear. Sherlock is only to happy to oblige, mouthing John's cock through his underwear. He sucks at it, presses his tongue to the cotton, inhaling the strong, musky scent. John continues to guide Sherlock without uttering a word, clearly envisioning everything he wants Sherlock to do. Once the front of his pants are soaked through, darkened with saliva and pre-come, Sherlock reaches up and frees John's erection, running his tongue along the underside of it as he pulls the dampened pants down to the ground. John steps out of them, undoing the buttons of his shirt and letting it fall to the floor at the same time.
Finally naked, John tugs softly on Sherlock's hair, guiding him up without really pulling it. He can tell Sherlock wants him to take charge, but he's not trying to hurt him. The two men stand and face each other, the air between them charged, their breathing rapid. John pulls Sherlock down for another fierce, hungry kiss, trapping Sherlock's thick lower lip between his teeth. The taller man moans quietly into John's mouth as he pulls them together. They groan in concert as their erections brush together, their height differences just significant enough that neither of them find the satisfying friction they're craving.
John clears his mind again and paints a vivid picture, Sherlock on his shoulders and knees, facing the far wall, pulling himself open for John. The obscenity, combined with the visual of seeing himself so wanton, so spread, makes Sherlock shudder in anticipation. John's never been so demanding before, and when he takes Sherlock it's almost always been in a way where they can see each other - Sherlock on his back, or John lying down while Sherlock rides him. Something about the picture in John's head should be demeaning, should be below Sherlock, but he feels nothing but desperate, frantic arousal at the idea.
Sherlock throws himself onto the bed, doing his best to replicate the scenario he saw in John's mind. The bulk of his weight is resting on the front of his shoulders, his face muffled and buried in the duvet as he reaches around, one hand pulling his arse slightly open, the other instinctively wrapping around his cock.
None of that, Sherlock. Both hands on your arse.
With a whimper, Sherlock releases the grip on his own throbbing prick and repositions himself, one long hand stretched wide on each side of his arse to pull himself wide open. The sight of him spread like this proves too much for John, who clambers onto the bed behind Sherlock, all pretence of being in control lost. He grabs the lube from the nightstand and makes quick work of slicking up two fingers. Gripping Sherlock's hip tightly with his free hand, John strokes his slick index along the cleft of Sherlock's arse, spreading the slippery lubricant between his cheeks and around his puckered hole. Even with the added benefit of John's forethought, Sherlock barely has a moment to prepare before John breaches him with is middle finger. Once John's sure Sherlock is relaxed enough, he makes quick work of slipping in his index as well and carefully spreading his fingers, opening Sherlock up. He leans forward and kisses a wet, sloppy trail down Sherlock's arched spine, sucking and dragging his teeth, marking the man's pale torso as his.
John slips his fingers out of Sherlock's arsehole, now loose and eager, and slicks up his cock rapidly. He's desperate to be buried deep inside his lover, but even with his suddenly controlling demeanour, he manages to calm himself down enough to take it slowly. He presses the dripping head of his cock against Sherlock's opening and lets Sherlock slide back against him, taking John in at his own pace.
Oh god, Sherlock. Fuck. You're so gorgeous. So good. So good...
Once he's fully inside Sherlock, John's thoughts become fractured and disjointed. He lets his mind go blissfully blank, focusing on the warm tightness surrounding his prick. He can feel the shift in Sherlock's body language as well, appreciative of the relative quiet in his head.
Gripping Sherlock's hips firmly in both hands, John begins thrusting in earnest. Deeply and slowly at first, pulling nearly all the way out before slamming himself back in, straight to the hilt. He pounds into Sherlock relentlessly, until he's squirming and writhing under John, moaning deeply with each stroke.
John manages to keep up the pace long enough to drive Sherlock absolutely desperate with want, a slick sheen of sweat coating his long, pale back. He starts grinding his hips backwards, impaling himself on John's cock over and over, John making every effort to meet his strokes with a slam of his hips. Both men can tell that John's not going to last long, there's been too much mental build-up. His need for release is evident in the tightness of his abdomen, his increasingly erratic thrusting. He slows his pace and breaks his grip on Sherlock's hip, one hand reaching around to fist around Sherlock's aching cock. His grip is tight but his hand is still, and Sherlock lets out a low, needy whimper.
In here, Sherlock. In my head. Listen.
Suddenly, John is pounding furiously into Sherlock, cockhead nearly slipping out of his loose hole before thrusting back in, over and over. Each violent jerk of his John's hips shoves Sherlock forward, drives his cock, slick with pre-come, through the snug circle of John's fingers. He doesn't even have to move his hand. They both feel John's orgasm building, and Sherlock finally relents. He relaxes, letting the mental and physical sensations combine, bringing him just as close as John. A few more solid thrusts and John's coming with a shout, his face contorted as he buries himself deeply inside Sherlock. The onslaught drives Sherlock over the edge within seconds, a low, keening whine escaping his lips as he spills all over the tight grip of John's hand.
They stay locked together for a few moments until John realises Sherlock must be overwhelmed by now. Pulling out, he lowers Sherlock gently to the bed. His movements are back to their usual calm, gentle demeanour, all the fight fucked out of him. His thoughts are quieter now too, gone all fuzzy around the edges.
They lie tangled together in sleepy, sated calm, until abruptly and seemingly apropos of nothing, Sherlock jerks up.
"The milk, John! I left it downstairs."
John rolls over, laughing. "Really, Sherlock? You actually bought milk?"
"Peace offering. You asked, I figured it was the proper thing to do."
"I appreciate it. But it's going to have to wait until tomorrow." At this, John throws an arm and a leg over Sherlock's prone torso and buries his face in the creamy expanse of his throat. "If you think I'm letting you go anywhere right now, you're sorely mistaken."
Chapter 10: Extension
First off, thank you to everyone who has been continually supporting me, chatting with me, reviewing and faving and everything. If it weren't for you guys and your encouragement, I'm not sure I'd have the motivation to keep this up. I'd name names but I know I'd forget someone important and feel like a huge dick.
Sorry for (again) the long delay between chapters. I could sit here and make excuses 'til the cows come home, but suffice to say so far 2012 hasn't been the best year for my family. Right now I'm laid up on the sofa with torn cartilage in my knee, waiting to find out whether or not I need surgery. However, I've got a bunch of time off work because of it so hopefully I can finish this story up by the end of the month. Only another two chapters to go after this one, I'm afraid...
The room is dim when John hears it, the edge of the curtains barely glowing in the pre-dawn light.
"John... forgive me. I am repentant..."
Sherlock is quiet, so quiet John almost feels it more than hears it. His diction is strange and clipped, alien even for him. Carefully, without disturbing the pale, long arm tossed carelessly over his ribs, John rolls over so he's facing Sherlock who is conveniently pretending to be asleep. His eyes are closed, his breath slow and even.
"Of course, Sherlock. Of course I forgive you. Just don't ever feel like you have to leave me for my own safety again..."
The mop of dark curls jerks abruptly off the pillow, Sherlock looking uncharacteristically startled and disoriented.
"Did you say something, John? I was asleep."
"Very droll, Sherlock, I heard you apologise."
What little colour Sherlock's face usually retains drains out of him, his usual pallor shifting from ethereal to nearly sickly.
"Not funny, John. You don't get to wake me up with a stunt like this, and I know I don't talk in my sleep."
"You..." John stumbles over his words, his mind trying to keep up with his mouth. "You really were asleep then?" The confusion on his face, combined with the pure honesty of his thoughts, convinces Sherlock.
"I was dreaming. Of apologising." Sherlock sits up properly and runs his fingers through his hair, disordering his bed-mussed curls even further. John would laugh if he wasn't so confused. In his mind, he's repeating Sherlock's mumbled apology over and over, and Sherlock just looks at him and nods. "Yes, that's exactly what I said. In the dream."
John's hands start trembling, and almost before he has time to realise it, Sherlock catches them and entwines their fingers.
Can... I... can I hear you then?
Sherlock laughs, soft and slightly bitter.
"I'm the freakish one in this relationship, John. And I'm fairly certain mind-reading isn't a sexually transmitted infection. I think it's more likely that I'm... leaking, for lack of a better term."
"I'm not sure referring to STIs and 'leaking' in the same context is your best word usage ever, Sherlock." John's trying to sound stern, but his face is soft. "But I'm still not sure I know what you mean."
"I've always assumed this ability was one-way, that I was simply doomed to be inundated with everyone's thoughts. Like a valve, or a mirror. In, but never out. Now, however, I'm wondering if it's not slightly reciprocal. I let my guard down around you, John. I let you in, more than anyone else, and now I think you're helping me let myself out."
John reaches up, cups Sherlock's jaw in his hand.
"Are you okay with this? The way your mind works, letting me see all that?"
Sherlock leans into John's hand for a moment before flopping down onto his back. He studies the ceiling for a moment, one arm draped across his bare torso and the other folded behind his head. If John's concerned by his silence, he makes an effort to remain quiet.
"I don't think it will ever be quite like how I hear other people, I suspect we'll still have to concentrate to get it to work. However, if I have to share this..." he pauses, raising his hand off his torso to gesture vaguely at his forehead. "This thing with anyone, you are the most acceptable option."
I love you too, you git. John chuckles, tucking himself in against Sherlock's chest, face resting on his shoulder. "But I think we should go back to sleep for a bit. We'll figure this out in the morning, shall we?" Sherlock mumbles in assent and rolls onto his side, curling his back against John's warm, broad chest. John pulls the comforter over the both of them as they settle in for a bit more well-needed rest.
When John wakes again a few hours later, the sun is up in earnest. Rolling over, he finds an empty space where Sherlock had been. He attempts to make quick work of groggily slipping into some pyjamas and his robe before shuffling down the stairs. Sherlock's perched expectantly in his big square armchair, feet tucked up under him and fingers drumming on the flat arms of the chair. He's not dressed yet either, which calms John a bit. Clearly he's got no plans to escape until they've sorted things out.
"Morning, John." Sherlock tries to hide his apprehension. He's not entirely sure if he's nervous about continuing their fight from last night or their discovery from the middle of the night. Both seem equally terrifying and alien.
John smiles, reading Sherlock's nerves in his body language, and heads into the kitchen to make himself tea.
"Sherlock, relax. I'm not mad anymore. I'm hurt that you didn't feel you could tell me what was going on, but I understand why you left." Besides, you made up for it last night.
An atypical fit of nervous laughter escapes Sherlock's lips, and John glances sidelong at him. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know, John. And I hate it."
Sherlock studies John as he preps a mug of tea and a mug of coffee. He places them gently on the coffee table and settles down on the sofa, patting the cushion at the other end. Unfolding himself from the chair, Sherlock smiles briefly as he hears John's unintentional mental comparison to a heron.
"I've been called much worse - herons are quite elegant, all things considered."
He settles down on the sofa, back against the armrest so he's facing John.
"John, are you certain you're alright with this? It must be a bit of a shock for you."
John's staring pensively into his tea when Sherlock asks, and he finds himself barking out a warm, genuine laugh.
"Really, Sherlock? Since I've met you, I've gone from shooting a man to protect someone I barely knew - something I never expected to do again after being invalided home, I might add - to falling in love with my very male flatmate to finding out said flatmate is a bloody mind-reader, and now you're worried I might panic?"
Sherlock looks put out, but he can tell John's laughing at the situation, not him.
"Besides," John pauses, trying to find the right words in his head. "If we can get this to work without fail, it might come in handy. Think of the fun we could have with your brother, or Anderson, if we could communicate entirely without talking."
Glaring, Sherlock shudders. "I'll thank you not to mention that little forensic weasel in the house again, John. But you have a point. It would drive Mycroft batty to be in the room with two people and be entirely unaware of what they're think-" Abruptly, Sherlock's entire body language changes. He goes rigid and a vaguely inhuman smile creeps across his face.
"What, Sherlock? Don't make that face, you're scaring me."
John jumps up, suddenly alert.
"Do you hear him? Is he nearby?"
Sherlock blinks himself out of his sudden daze. "Oh, what? No. Sit down, John. Pay attention, would you. We were discussing ways to torment Mycroft with this newfound extension of my abilities, but think of the wider implications. We could coordinate to take Moriarty down, and he'd have absolutely no idea what was coming. If we don't tell anyone about this, there's no way he can ever know.
I'm still running under the assumption that he insinuated his way into that institute that studied me as a child, and that's how he was made aware of my abnormality. However, there's no way they could have anticipated this," he gestures vaguely between them with one hand "no way of knowing what would happen. Logically, then, there's no way for Moriarty to know either."
John nods, but his thoughts are hesitant and uncertain.
"Don't worry, John. I promise not to attempt this until we're positive we can coordinate, until we practice repeatedly and get firm results. I learned my lesson, no more running off like that."
Ha. I'll believe it when I see it.
Sherlock scowls petulantly at John, but doesn't argue. They both know John is right. Nothing is ever going to stop Sherlock from running three steps ahead of everyone, from being dangerously impulsive, but in this instance he is being genuine.
"The waiting might kill me, John, but I won't arrange a meeting with him until you say we're ready. I'm putting this in your... capable hands."
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?" John's laughing internally at the look on Sherlock's face, as if relinquishing control was as unpleasant as eating soap. Sherlock just glowers again.
"Now, I need to run a couple of errands, we're running low on bread again, and I have no idea why."
Sherlock looks sheepish and mumbles something about mould cultures.
"Eugh. Nevermind, I don't want to know. Anyway, I'm just going to run to the Tesco and grab a few things. When I get back, we'll see about working on this."
"Don't stay away too long, I'll get bored."
I'm sure you'll find something to do. With that, John heads off to take a shower. Sherlock listens to him bustle around a bit before stretching out, occupying as much of the sofa as possible. He folds his hands across his chest and closes his eyes, lost in though. Barely registers the strain of I'm heading out now, don't do anything ridiculous while I'm gone as John heads down the stairs.
Some cultures believe that two people fated to be together are bound together with an invisible, unbreakable red string. Certain particularly devout people describe their imagined connections with their gods as a thread of light, leading into the heavens.
Sherlock's not one for metaphor, for romantic flights of fancy, but even he knows there's something connecting him to John. Something that defies explanation. The link at first was tenuous, ephemeral. One moment of distraction and it would snap. The more they bond, both physically and emotionally, the more solid it becomes. Sherlock imagines it now as a fine gold chain, similar to the ones holding Mycroft's pretentious fob-watch to his waistcoat. Each link alone is weak, nearly insubstantial, but as they continue to build them the chain gets stronger, more flexible, allows more distance between them but ensures they are never truly apart from each other.
Mentally, he fixates on the mental image of that chain, thin and shimmering, as he concentrates on slowing his breath, his heartbeat. Nothing so trite and new-age as meditation, he thinks scornfully. Tricks he learned on the streets, how to control his body while in the throes of a cocaine fix. Drugs speed the heart up, it helps to learn to slow it back down.
Gradually, he sinks into a state where his entire body is quiescent. Respirations slow and steady, heartbeat nearly bradycardic. Asleep, but not. Consciousness still alert. He starts slowly, just repeating John's name over and over in his head. Steadily, with every exhale.
Sherlock's not sure how long it takes. He's not sure if he's been at it for a few minutes or an hour. Leaning over to check the clock would break the calm in his body. It doesn't matter, John will know.
He's standing in line with the food when he hears it.
Sherlock? Can you hear me? Are you alright?
Sherlock? What's going on? I thought you were going to wait?
Their strange conversation is interrupted, the young woman at the register tapping John's hand to get his attention. "Sir? Sir, please swipe your card now."
"I'm sorry, got a bit lost in thought there." He puts on what he hopes is a suitably sheepish smile and finishes paying for the groceries, relying mostly on muscle memory as he tries vainly to listen for Sherlock again.
Sherlock, just hold on.
Everyth... fine... when you... home.
John still can't hear Sherlock clearly enough to make everything out, but he can hear enough to tell that he's calm and safe, and despite their agreement, ploughing on with their experiment.
Just relax and stay put, would you?Don't do that to me again, it startled the shit out of me.
For a moment, there's an odd sensation, almost as if John can feel Sherlock laughing next to him, and then the connection is broken again. He rushes home, grateful that he's not got too far to go.
When he gets inside, he's all but ready to curse Sherlock soundly out for starting without him, and for scaring him senseless in the supermarket, but the look on the man's face is so excited, so pleased, he looks nearly childlike and John can't help but let the argument go.
"So I take it you figured out how to make it work then?"
"You absolutely did hear me then? At what point did it start?"
"I did, but it was a bit hazy and unclear. And I don't know, Sherlock, I wasn't exactly staring at my watch waiting for a mental missive from you while I was buying bread and milk, you know. I'd say about half an hour before I got home, so -" he checks his watch. "About half eleven. If you'd waited until I got home, we'd have clearer results. Now calm down and show me exactly what you did, and we'll get to work on practicing more."
They spend the next few days using any free time they've got working on communicating back and forth. There's been a dearth of cases, so John is thankful at least something is keeping Sherlock occupied. At first Sherlock needs to drop into the sleep-like state he relied on at the beginning, and while the doctor in John disapproves of anyone messing with their autonomic functions, he admits that there doesn't seem to be any lasting harm in it, so long as Sherlock keeps his pulse above sixty.
Eventually though, he manages to do it while in a more alert state, and the excitement between them is palpable. Every step of progress is one step closer to being able to do it standing up, conversing in front of Moriarty. John still isn't able to hear Sherlock with the same fluidity as Sherlock can hear him, and their conversations are short and clipped, much like speaking with a child or someone whose native tongue is not English, but it works.
They get the perfect opportunity to test their limits about a week later. Sherlock is lounging on the couch, his legs propped up in John's lap. John's watching Top Gear and absently stroking the tops of Sherlock's large, pale feet. He feels them tense under his hand and turns to Sherlock, questioningly.
"My dear brother is getting out of his car outside. Shall we put our practice into effect?"
Sure, I've always wanted to see if I could ruffle his feathers somehow.
John snickers just as Mycroft enters the room.
"Sherlock, John," he nods at them both pompously. Neither man looks at him, John's gaze still fixed on the television and Sherlock's gaze fixed on John. "I have a possible job for you, if you're interested."
You want it?
I bet... it's boring. No.
Alright. Just checking.
Mycroft stares at the two of them for a moment before clearing his throat.
Sherlock, what is going on here? John can't hear anything, but he can tell by Sherlock's body language that Mycroft is attempting to converse with him.
He wiggles his foot, probing into the side of John's thigh.
Just two cups, then?
I think so.
John gets up and heads towards the kitchen, and Mycroft stands to follow him. John glances out of the corner of his eye, just the tiniest gesture of acknowledgement, before walking over to the kettle.
"John, please tell me what's going on here. Don't tell me you've managed to catch whatever it is that's wrong with my brother."
Sorry, Sherlock... I have to. John cringes, unable to keep up their charade while Mycroft lords around the flat and insults Sherlock.
"Mycroft, there is nothing WRONG with your brother. If you had realised that when he was younger, he might have less trouble dealing with daily life today."
Back rigid, he turns to the kettle and focuses on preparing the tea, making a show of pouring only the two cups. He settles back on the couch and passes one silently to Sherlock.
For what? It's just tea, you never thank me for tea.
No, for... what you said. In... the kitchen.
It's true, you know. There's absolutely nothing wrong with you. Don't ever let him say that again. I know he means well, but he's an ass.
John studies Sherlock's face for a moment and smiles softly, and for on brief moment they truly do forget about Mycroft's presence in the room. He coughs again, ensuring all attention is back on him.
"This is vaguely nauseating, and incredibly immature. I will come back later, and hopefully you two will have grown up a bit by then. I expect this sort of nonsense from Sherlock, but John's always struck me as a better person than this." Mycroft actually looks rumpled and discomfited, for what John suspects is the first time since he was a toddler.
The two grown children are unable to contain their mirth as Mycroft heads down the stairs, both of them bursting into fits of laughter. Once they've managed to catch their breath and calm down a bit, Sherlock turns to John, his face serious.
"Thank you for that. It's so rare that I get to see Mycroft out of sorts in any way. I'll have to apologise later, but it was worth it."
"I'd say any time, but I suspect he won't let it bother him twice. We will have to explain at some point, won't we?"
Sherlock nods. "I suppose so, but the more important point is that now we know we can do this with another person in the room, and they can't listen in. Proof of concept, if you will."
John's shoulders sink. "We're really going through with this then, are we? Are you positive you're ready for it? What if it's not as easy for you in a tense situation?"
"Details", Sherlock gestures impassively. "We'll get that all sorted out before we do anything. I did promise you had the final say on all this, and I meant it."
Slightly mollified, John grabs Sherlock's foot and rubs it roughly but affectionately. Top Gear over, he turns the television off and stands up.
Come to bed then. Maybe if I fuck you senseless again, the connection will get stronger.
Good... idea. Can't hurt to try.
Chapter 11: Application
Thank you all for your patience. This story is very close to wrapping up!
A note, this chapter contains more delightful instances of men going at it, so if that's not your cuppa, please wait for the next one :) Also, just as a reminder, bold text is John and italic text is Sherlock.
Also, the amazing gryffindorandproud.tumblr.com has made a fantastic cover for this fic. I'm really flattered! You can see it here - http://i.imgur.com/pjgVj.jpg, and check out some other great covers and fic recs here - http://gryffindorandproud.tumblr.com/sherlockianmodernclassics
"Jooohhhnnnn…" Sherlock's whine drones from across the flat. John feels a sharp spike of irritation run through his skull as he sits down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. Apparently Sherlock's been working on projecting emotions along with his words.
"Sherlock, you promised you wouldn't go after him until I agreed that you were ready, and you're still getting distracted too easily."
Shifting into full-on pout mode, Sherlock purses his lips and drops heavily into his armchair.
"I've tried everything, John. I can project to you with relative consistency…"
"Yes, Sherlock. Relative being the operative word here. I want to be sure you can do it solidly, especially in situations where your attention might be elsewhere."
"Yes, well, how exactly do you propose we practice that? Call up some common thug and ask him for assistance?"
John smirks, the look on his face absolutely predatory.
Not exactly, he muses. I was thinking more of a different type of distraction, at least for the time being.
He gets up, and somewhere between the kitchen table and the middle of the sitting room, John's walk switches from a sleepy shuffle to a confident swagger. He reaches Sherlock and pushes his knees apart, making enough room to lower himself onto the carpet, his face now level with Sherlock's thighs.
"It's going to be like this, Sherlock." His voice has taken on that no-nonsense tone, that slight military cadence that seems to drive Sherlock absolutely and uncharacteristically wild. "I'm going to suck your cock, and you are going to shut the hell up. Want me to suck harder? Think it. Want me to go deeper? Think. Want me to finger you? Better think that one damned clearly. Every time you talk, I'm going to stop. You're going to learn to control this, learn to control it while your mind is a million miles away. Then, and only then, will we consider your ridiculous plan."
Shifting in his chair, Sherlock lets out a low whimper. He's not embarrassed to admit that he's already feeling the steady rush of blood to his cock. Who wouldn't get aroused by five and a half feet of rank-pulling, bad-ass army doctor on his knees in front of you, describing in shocking detail what he was about to do? He sinks further into the chair, sliding his hips forward to give John better access to undo and pull down his trousers. John slides them down, exposing his pants and hardening erection, trailing his hands along Sherlock's pale thighs. He gets them down, puddling around Sherlock's ankles, and drags his fingertips gently along the insides of his legs.
Teasingly, John pulls back the elastic of Sherlock's pants, brushing lightly against the flushed head of his prick.
"Nngh, please." Sherlock's hips buck up.
Abruptly, John's hands pull away and he rests back on his heels, no longer in contact with any part of his body.
Nope. You talked.
Sherlock's eyes snap open and he gives John a glare that would sour new milk.
We agreed, Sherlock. Tell me what you want, but don't say it. Project it.
A needy whine escapes Sherlock's lips, and he sucks in a deep breath.
Fine, what? You'll have to be more specific than that, love.
Fine... John. Please, touch me. My cock, in case that wasn't specific enough.
John chuckles softly, more than eager to indulge Sherlock. Something about hearing that deep, luscious voice inside his own head, saying explicit things, is far more pleasing than anything ought to be. Sherlock must pick up on what John's thinking, since he lets out a low laugh and strokes John's hair again.
With a grin that's equal parts mischievous and eager, John pulls Sherlock's pants down and circles the base of his swollen cock with his thumb and middle finger. Sherlock grunts and thrusts his hips up again.
Oh, I'm sorry, did you want me to do something?
Sherlock opens his mouth, ready to flay John with some scathing words when he catches himself and bites down.
John... not funny. Stroke me, for... the love of god. He whimpers again and grips the leather arms of the chair as John gladly caters to his request - once. One solid stroke up and down the length of Sherlock's thick, warm shaft, and he stops again, hand firmly wrapped around the base. He leans forward and darts his tongue out, flicking it very lightly over the head.
John pulls away.
You tease. That was.. an exclamation, not a request.
Fair enough. John acquiesces and engulfs the head of Sherlock's prick in his mouth, his hand sliding up the shaft to meet his mouth. Taking pity on his frustrated lover, he sucks eagerly and earnestly for a bit, lips wrapped tightly around the head as he swirls his tongue over the crown. He strokes the length not yet in his mouth, hand made slippery by his own saliva.
Sherlock's eyes are scrunched shut in concentration, a thin sheen of sweat starting to form on his brow with the effort of not blurting anything out. John's not making things any easier, keeping the pace and the suction steady and pleasant, but nowhere near enough to bring Sherlock close to completion.
Harder, please. Deeper.
Instead of responding, John simply hums his assent around Sherlock's cock, sending pleasant vibrations through him. He pulls his hand out of the way and parts his lips further, the tip of his tongue rubbing against the fraenulum as he swallows the entire length. Sherlock grunts and grinds his hips tentatively, all the while focusing on keeping his mouth shut. John swallows, relaxing his throat and pulling Sherlock even deeper in.
That's it, love. Fuck my mouth.
Sherlock lets the breath he's been holding out with a low hiss and cradles the back of John's head, rocking his hips in the chair to thrust his cock in and out of John's warm, welcoming mouth. Eagerly and encouragingly, John sucks him off, lips tightly sealed and sliding up and down the length of Sherlock's shaft as his tongue swirls around, flicking lightly over the head every time he reaches it. He's alternating deep, intense swallows with light, teasing sucking around the crown, and it's not long before Sherlock's trembling beneath him.
John reaches up to cup Sherlock's balls, and finds them already warm and heavy and drawn up tightly against his body. He strokes them lightly with one finger as he continues to consume the length of Sherlock's prick. The finger - now slick with saliva - trails further south, dragging gently across Sherlock's perineum before lightly circling the puckered ring of muscle further back. Another whimper escapes Sherlock's mouth and he cants his hips further forward, allowing John easier access.
"Fffff- John, yes... finger me."
John freezes. He pulls his tongue away from Sherlock's cock but keeps his lips firmly sealed around the base. His finger has also retracted away from Sherlock's arsehole.
I'm sorry, I'm pretty sure I heard that out loud. Teasingly, he slides his head up the hot, thick length of Sherlock's shaft, letting it bob free of his lips when he reaches the tip. He looks mischievously up at Sherlock who is glaring at him with a combination of fury and desperation written all over his face. He opens his mouth as if to either beg or insult John, and snaps it shut just as quickly. John simply responds with a small tilt of his head and a pseudo-innocent blink.
Writhing beneath John, Sherlock is struck with an epiphany, the realisation that he is fighting with himself. The first time the mental projection happened, he was at his most relaxed and vulnerable, so wouldn't it stand to reason that if he stops trying so hard, maybe this will all come more easily? And suddenly it's like a weight being lifted from his shoulders, as he comes to the understanding that relinquishing control is not necessarily the same as losing it.
John Hamish Bloody Watson if you do not resume what you were doing, I will hide bits of organs in everything you own. I will wake you up in the middle of the night and fuck you just until you are on the brink of orgasm, and then I will leave the flat. I will inform Lestrade that he is welcome to interrupt us with a case next time you insist on taking an out-of town vacation. In short, suck me off until I come, finger my arse, or I will make you a very miserable man . He runs his fingers through the soft, dusty gold of John's hair as his cock is once again surrounded by the wet heat of John's mouth.
Oh, god, yes. I knew you could do it, you fantastic, incredible man.
Sucking now like his life depends on it, John slides one finger up into his mouth with one slide of his lips, getting it good and wet. Focusing on the head of Sherlock's prick, he circles his arsehole with the slick finger, smiling to himself as the ring of muscle relaxes almost instantaneously.
You poor man, you're so desperate, so eager.
Sensing exactly how desperate Sherlock truly is by now, John takes pity on him and runs the tip of his tongue around the bulbous crown of his cock and gently slides two fingers into him immediately, encountering no resistance at all. Sherlock is squirming and whimpering incoherently now, and John can't help but feel smug at the knowledge that he's reduced him to this, a man usually so in control of his faculties. With one final bob of his head, John takes Sherlock deep into his mouth, flexing his tongue against the length of the shaft and swallowing, tensing the muscles against the head. In the same moment, he crooks his fingers just so, unerringly finding Sherlock's prostate.
He's rewarded with a sharp cry and Sherlock bucking impossibly deeper into his mouth.
John.. gonna.. oh god... going.. OH!
With that, John feels Sherlock's muscles clamp down around his fingers as his cock twitches violently, deep within John's mouth. He swallows down each violent surge of come as Sherlock's body trembles with the effort of a long-needed orgasm. Finally, his body calms and John gently extracts his finger and slides Sherlock's softening cock out of his mouth. He rests his head on Sherlock's long, pale thigh, smiling up at him.
I knew you could do it. You just needed the proper motivation.
In response, Sherlock merely groans and ruffles John's hair again.
Can I talk now?
"Yes, love. You can talk, if you want."
"Good. Go get me a glass of water."
Grinning, John squeezes Sherlock's thigh gently and raises himself up off the floor, groaning with the effort. They really need to get a carpet that's kinder on his knees, some day soon.
"I'll buy you a carpet tomorrow if it means you'll do that again." Sherlock mumbles, having heard John's train of thought.
John pads back into the sitting room, carrying a glass of water for each of them, and sits on the coffee table.
"I know this is not exactly ideal pillow talk, but then again, our relationship's never exactly been normal. I trust you, Sherlock, and I think you're ready. I don't know exactly what conclusion you came to there," at the word 'came', Sherlock lets out an uncharacteristically juvenile giggle and John smiles, "but it seems like you're absolutely in control of this now. Whenever you want to go through with your plan, I'll be with you." He reaches out and strokes a sweaty curl off of Sherlock's forehead affectionately. "Now what do you say we go back to bed for a bit, and you can return the favour?"
Chapter 12: Resolution
*There is a hidden reference to one of my favourite (and relatively obscure) bands in this chapter. If you find it and post about it in a review or message or something, I will love you forever and possibly write you a drabble or something.
Also, as always, John's thoughts are in bold. Sherlock and Moriarty (yes yes, he's here) will both be in italics, but I've done my best to always specify and make it clear who is thinking and who is hearing it. Seriously, this whole mind-reading thing is way more convoluted to write than I anticipated it being. Warnings below contain spoilers, keep going if you want to read them, otherwise skip the next line.
Warnings for massive deviation from canon (but if you're reading this, I assume you are okay with that), mild gore, and secondary character death.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
*thump* *thump* *thump* Sherlock's draped sideways in his chair, his heel pounding rhythmically against the side. John's been making an effort to obfuscate and muddle his own thoughts all morning, and Sherlock's given up trying to listen in. So when John comes and sits on the arm of the chair Sherlock is not currently abusing and lets the strong, determined cant of his mind flow, Sherlock is actually, genuinely taken aback.
"You're bored, aren't you?"
Two thuds of his foot and roll of his eyes make the answer clearer than any words would.
"I've been thinking..." John says. Sherlock sits up straight, suddenly alert. "I've been thinking you're ready. Maybe it's time. To go after..." the tacit weight of Moriarty's name hangs in the air like a sulphurous fog. After several weeks of waiting for John to realise he's ready, Sherlock is nearly vibrating with excitement as he skims through the flow of John's thoughts. He's stopped making any attempt to hide them, having told Sherlock exactly what he was dwelling on.
Are you positive, John? The question has a bit of a smug edge to it, Sherlock's just showing off now by projecting rather than speaking.
"Yes, you git. I'm still not crazy about the idea, but I'm not crazy about potentially being kidnapped again." Or worse, something happening to you. The words are silent, but clear to both men. "I'd much rather take care of this on our terms than his."
Sherlock nods, agreeing vehemently. Nobody's going to take John away from him again, not like this.
"So how are we going to go about this?" Sherlock asks. If it were up to him, they'd just run off right now, but he's promised to let John plan this out, let him control the situation as much as possible.
"Well, I was thinking you could ask your bro-" Nope. John's cut off by Sherlock's petulant frame of mind. Not getting him involved.
"Fine. Never mind Mycroft then. We will find some neutral enclosed space ourselves, and you can send him a text, arranging to meet him alone. Inevitably, he won't be. But he doesn't know you can... talk to me, for lack of a better term, so even if I follow you from a distance he'll think you're genuinely alone."
Sherlock nods, oddly proud of John for planning this all out without him. Even though he's not intentionally projecting, John seems to catch the drift and flushes.
"It's really not that good a plan, it's still leaving a huge amount up to chance. But I figured, you can fish around and listen for any men Jim's brought with him, and I can dispatch them quickly and quietly. I hope."
"It's a fine plan, John. It's loose enough to leave room for improvisation, if necessary, but the framework is all there. Thank you for trusting me. I'm positive he'd never show up alone, not on unfamiliar territory, so I'm looking forward to beating him at his own game. We'll just have to make sure we're not spotted leaving together."
Startled, John grins artlessly at Sherlock. "No, Sherlock. Thank you, for listening to me. For waiting. For not running off again."
The remainder of the day passes in a flurry of activity. John cleans, oils, and re-cleans his gun, loading it and unloading it three or four times before he's satisfied. Sherlock has spent the afternoon scouring the internet and badgering his contacts looking for a suitable venue for their confrontation, before settling on a disused dry goods warehouse in Barking.
It's well after midnight when all is said and done, and John grabs Sherlock by the arm, guiding him towards the main-floor bedroom. In unspoken assent, he gets up and follows. They fall into bed together, a tangle of anxious limbs, unsettled but eager. John cards his fingers idly through Sherlock's curls, as much to relax himself as Sherlock. Eventually, they both fall into a solid slumber, secure in their decisions and preparations.
The next morning, Sherlock's glowing in anticipation, and John can't help but think of a child at Christmas. He's had the decency to stay under the covers until John woke up, but now he's bounding out of bed, leaving John feeling oddly cold and bereft as he watches his partner bounce around.
Soon they're both ready, sitting at the table in the kitchen going over last-minute details.
John rolls his eyes. "Yes, yes, Sherlock. I know. I'm going to head to the Asda and make a point of doing some shopping, and eventually follow you to the warehouse, let you know I'm there."
Sherlock eyes his phone, obviously eager to send the text that will start it all.
Oh, go ahead. I'll head off to the supermarket.
John stands up, pushing his chair back anxiously, before checking the gun tucked into the back of his jeans for the fourth time that morning. In an oddly childlike gesture, Sherlock leans against him, resting his head on John's hip, nuzzling. It's likely more for John's comfort than Sherlock's own, and the gesture is appreciated. He ruffles the mop of dark curls.
"We're doing the right thing, aren't we?" We're sitting at the kitchen table discussing killing a man.
"That's a rather subjective question." Besides, he's an exceptionally terrible man.
"Fair enough. Hurry. I'll see you soon."
With that, John bustles out, heading off on his fake errands, giving Sherlock a moment to compose a short but vital text.
Dry goods storage, Barking. Right now. Come alone. -SH
He tucks the phone into the pocket of his coat as he slides it onto his shoulders, sweeping out the front door and down the stairs. The cab ride to the warehouse is interminably long, and Sherlock amuses himself by eavesdropping on John as he drums his fingers on the seat of the taxi next to him.
What should I get? Milk? Milk, yeah. That seems plausible. Is that guy following me? Good, I think he is. Hmm, sale on tomatoes. Do we need tomatoes? Sherlock would probably squash them. There he is again, he's absolutely tailing me. Excellent. I wonder if Sherlock's listening in. Hi Sherlock! This feels silly. Better make sure that guy sees me paying...
Sherlock can't hold back the smile that dances across his lips, listening to John's strange but oddly charming stream of consciousness. It calms his nerves, and soon the cabbie's trying to get his attention.
"Oi, mate." Fucking nutter, sitting there grinning to himself... "We're there. Pay up."
Grumbling, Sherlock throws a few bills at him and stalks up to the warehouse, standing square and tall. His hands hang open, loosely, at his sides, body language virtually shouting "I'm here, I'm unarmed, I'm alone." He pushes the door open, stepping into the dim filth of the building. It's obviously fallen into a state of disuse, empty grain containers and rusted equipment littering the floor. The light is sparse, a few bare bulbs hanging at random intervals from a high ceiling, criss-crossed with narrow walking platforms.
James Moriarty, ever the sucker for drama, is standing in the middle of one of the pools of light being thrown onto the floor. His hands are in his pockets, his stance seemingly casual, but Sherlock can sense that he's as on-edge, as unstable as ever. His mind is frustratingly impersonal, he's apparently familiar enough with Sherlock's ability that he's devised tricks to get around it. Every time Sherlock tries to hone in on his thoughts, he's confronted with strains of Bee Gees music or an irritatingly bland Turner painting of a waterfall, instead of the usual stream of subconscious noise he gets from the average person.
Sherlock, welcome, welcome. Make yourself at home. There's a sickening edge to his thoughts. Where's your precious little pet now? Did you really think I'd believe your text? He feels slimy and unctuous in Sherlock's head, unpleasant and unwelcome.
"Talk to me or I don't talk at all. Not going to let you invade my head like this."
The look on Moriarty's face is an uncanny imitation of a childlike pout, made all the more unnerving by the fury in his eyes. He clutches a fist histrionically to his breast. "You wound me, Sherlock. If you just accept what you are, just let me in, we could be fantastic..."
"Never. And John isn't here - he didn't want me having anything to do with you, so I had to sneak out while he was running errands. I suspect he'll be livid when he figures out where I've gone." The lies come smoothly and easily, but then, they always have.
He grimaces, an eerie sneer and a mockery of a sympathetic frown. "Poor, poor Johnny. Poor Sherlock. Do I sense a lover's quarrel in the works?"
Tuning him out, Sherlock scans the room, hearing two faint threads of concentration coming from the walkway above him, and one more over his shoulder. He has to keep up this verbal dance, keep Moriarty engaged and occupied until John arrives, so it's a huge relief when he hears John approaching from a distance.
Sorry it took so long, Sherlock. I'm fairly certain I was being tailed at the supermarket, so I made certain to hang around for a while, picked up a couple of things. I lost him on the tube, but it took a while and I had to double back to get over here.
Glad you could make it. Sliding in silently from a back door, John can see Sherlock and Jim engaged in a verbal standoff. He's awed to see that despite the fondly sarcastic tone in Sherlock's thoughts, his face is impassive, neutral.
Where do we stand?
Two to your left, on the catwalk, John hears Sherlock's deep voice resonating in his head, clearly but faintly. Either Sherlock's feeling nervous, or he's still apprehensive about projecting loud enough for Moriarty to hear. Either way, the message comes through.
Got it, he lobs back.
One more. Top of the packing machine.
Swift, silent, deadly, John dispatches the three men. He snaps the necks of the two men suspended on the rigging, wouldn't do to have blood dripping from above them and draw attention to the situation. The man on the bundling equipment barely has time to register the slight shift in the machine's weight before John buries a heavy hunting knife into the back of his neck, severing his spine. Sherlock can hear John fighting with himself for a moment; despite his army years, despite his history with Sherlock, the good doctor's moral code still makes him apprehensive about literally stabbing another man in the back.
All clear, but you knew that already. Now I just have to figure out how to get to him.
He's doing a pretty decent job of masking himself from me, but what little snippets I get are cocky, over-confident. He doesn't seem to have any awareness of you just yet. He's made the grievous mistake of under-estimating you.
The mockery of badinage is still taking place in the cavernous centre of the warehouse, too far for John to hear clearly. It's obvious by their body language that somehow Sherlock has managed to keep up the pretence of a conversation while still carrying on a silent one with John. John realises suddenly that Sherlock's been ready for this for quite a while, that it was his own fear and apprehension holding them back.
Ha. I heard that, John Watson.
Oh, do shut up, you smug wanker. We've got work to do.
John disappears into the shadows again, years of training and a natural, innate stealthiness coming in handier than he'd ever have thought possible after leaving the military.
Sherlock's attention snaps fully back to Moriarty, still spewing forth drivel about the two of them working together.
"Think of it, Sherlock. Moriarty and Holmes." He spreads his hands theatrically. "Our names in lights. With you by my side, I'd be completely unstoppable. Nobody would ever be able to get the upper hand on me with a freaky little genius mind reader at my feet."
"I told you, never."
"Then why did you come here? I'm not in the mood to kill you today. Not without little Johnny here to watch."
From deep within the shadows immediately behind Moriarty, John winks, the bare bulbs overhead glinting off his deep blue eye.
NOW, SHERLOCK! VATICAN CAMEOS!
Sherlock spins immediately on his heel, veering abruptly to the right as he drops to the ground, barely even registering the shock and panic emanating off of Moriarty for a half-second before he hears the sharp crack of John's handgun and feels the warm, wet splatter of blood hitting the side of his face.
He stays on the ground for a moment, the echo of the gunshot reverberating through Moriarty's brain, through his own brain, rattling him more than he'd like to admit. John's rushing towards him, his mind a steady flow of ...
He drops to his knees, hands cupping Sherlock's face, seemingly oblivious to the spray of gore coating his cheek.
"Sherlock, Sherlock, are you alright?"
"I'm fine, it's just always unpleasant being very close to someone as they're dying. The mind does strange things as it shuts down. It's certainly not the first time I've experienced it, but his mind was more complicated than most."
"Was? We're positive then?"
"Oh yes. The man who got him must have been a crack shot."
At this, John's tension breaks in a fit of giggles, and it's not long before Sherlock joins in. John lays down, joining him on the filthy floor of the warehouse, the two of them graduating from chuckles to full-on guffawing. Eventually, gasping for breath, Sherlock's hand finds John's and their fingers twine together as they calm down.
"We should leave. I know you didn't want him involved, but maybe let your brother know. Let him clean this up."
"Mmm, I think I could consent to that. He's got to be good for something, after all."
John turns over so he's facing Sherlock. "Oh god, Sherlock. You're filthy. Is that blood?"
"I assume so." He runs a finger through it, smearing his cheek. "I think I could use a shower. Let's go home." Sherlock makes a few half-hearted attempts to wipe the mess off, before rolling over onto his knees and pushing himself up off the ground. He holds a hand out to John, pulling him up alongside and keeping their fingers firmly knotted together. They turn in concert, backs to the mangled remains of the criminal genius lying broken on the ground, and head off for Baker Street.
Ugh. Wow. The main plot arc is over. I'm still not sure how I feel about all this, but what started as a fluffy angsty experiment turned into way more plot than I'm used to handling.
Now that this part is resolved, I am going back to my original plan, writing little one-shots and short individual fics in this same universe. They will be published independently of this story, so if you enjoy this series and want to read more, I suggest you subscribe to my author alerts. Also, if you have ideas for situations or things you'd like to see mind-reading Sherlock deal with, feel free to let me know. I can't guarantee I'll be able to write them all, but I'm always up for prompts. Things already on the idea list include Sherlock learning to project to others, specifically to fuck with Mycroft; the boys getting laryngitis and needing to rely on alternate methods of communication; and last but certainly not least, a wedding. There will likely be references to the main story in here in those, but they'll definitely be fluffier, brighter, and more stand-alone.
And now, the really important part - thanking you so much to all you, dear readers, for your feedback and encouragement. In particular, massive love to chasingriversong, skyfullofstars, Mirith Griffin, the ladies and gents of the Inner Circle, floppybelly, DarthJackie, consultingdepressive, Madrona8, Mildly_Neurotic, thesullengiraffe, TheMuchTooMerryMaiden, charliebravowhiskey, thebrokenangel, and belovedmuerto for your continual, unflinching support even when I repeatedly dragged my sorry ass with updates. Thank you for sticking with me!!