The cold air stings at John’s throat and lungs as he runs, sprinting through the darkened London streets with no sign of slowing down. He can barely feel the twitches of pain down his lame leg that threaten to trip him over the hard cobblestone streets; his body running on pure adrenaline. The more he runs, the closer he feels, the more excited he gets at the prospect of catching the bastard he’s been after for weeks.
His nose directs him east, so he ducks down a narrow alleyway as a shortcut to an embankment along the River Thames. The scent begins to mingle with traces of oils and coal, causing John to smirk rather than curse. His prey thinks he can get away from him by hiding amongst the industrial factories, amidst all the distracting sights and smells, but he couldn't be more wrong. Once John Watson knows what he’s looking for, there’s no getting him off the trail.
And luckily for John, demons have an incredibly distinct smell.
He comes to an abrupt stop along a strip of warehouses running parallel to the River Thames, slamming his shoulder against a street lamp and halting there to catch his breath. His eyes scan over two of the large buildings next to one another as he inhales deep to try and follow that smell, until finally he manages to lock on to the building on the furthest left. He starts for it much slower, glancing around to ensure the only possible onlookers are the few homeless in the area, people whose tongues won’t wag, then begins to unhook his crossbow from the sling across his shoulder.
He follows the invisible trail to a side door of the building, where the hinges have been bent out of place and the door lopsided in its frame. He step through, tentative now that he can feel he is so close to his target.
The warehouse is filled with large machines of rusting metals, tall and wide and serving as pillars for him to hide behind as he allows his eyes to adjust to the degree of darkness in the large room. The light from a crescent moon filters down from a fogged skylight in the ceiling, piercing pale blue light through the blackness, glinting from the cleaner machines.
His sight is not as good as his smell, but his hearing settles somewhere between the two. With the stink of sewage outside and the stale hint of coal mingling in the air around him, the scent of the demon grows weaker the further away he sneaks. But John can hear, he can hear so precisely, every step and creak, every wrong turn.
He unclasps a vial from the leather sash across his chest and holds it carefully between his teeth. An arrow from his crossbow won’t kill a demon, but it may stun it if he aims just right. All that’s left to do then is take it down with prayer water and collect the ashes for himself.
John’s fingers move quickly to load his crossbow, ready for him to fire as soon as he sees the offending figure in sight. He ducks across a space between two conveyor belts and drops to his knees to watch and not be seen. His eardrums echo with the sound of his own breathing until, finally, he hears the distant scrape of a shoe sole and a tang of a body bumping against one of the machines.
What happens next is almost too quick for John to register. He jumps to his feet and holds the bow out to pull the trigger and shoot, watching as the silhouetted man across the room reels back from the shot in his shoulder and cries out in surprise. The noise rings through the whole building, but this is not a victory. John blinks and the man is gon; he spins around at the sound of another twang of metal and falls back against the static conveyor belt as a shadow rushes past his periphery. He hears a shriek from behind him, a force whips the crossbow from his grip and the vial falls from his mouth to crash on the floor at his feet. He barely has time to register the figure dropping down to stand in front of him before he hears another hiss, a crunch of bone, and he feels the blow to his head a moment too late.
Everything freezes, and John’s vision turns black.
John awakens slowly, his vision gradually coming to while feeling returns to his limbs. He sucks in a sharp breath as his head begins to throb from a dull pain in the back of his skull, but when he notices the soft cushioning underneath it, his eyes shoot open properly and he rises too-quickly into a seating position.
Already his breathing has picked up as he stares blearily around an unfamiliar room. He squints into the light of the gas lamps on the wall by the door, and then down at a candle on the night stand before scrambling across the satin sheets of the bed to pick up the candle holder and slip his finger through the ring. As he swings his feet off the edge of the bed, he becomes aware of his bare feet, his missing clothes and equipment, feeling somewhat naked and unsafe without his crossbow and stripped down to his undergarments
Eventually, after a hasty attempt to calm himself down, he carefully stands with one hand dabbing carefully at the wound on the back of his head. He heads towards the open doorway with little regard of anything else in the stranger’s bedroom, and follows his strongest senses to find life in the dark, cold and quiet house.
He’s momentarily distracted by the odd creaking floorboard or two, but soon picks up on the distant rustling of papers and scratching of an ink pen. He become eerily aware of the lack of windows in the house as he creeps down the narrow hallway, but forces himself to focus on the task at hand and to question his surroundings later on.
When he comes to a door left ajar some way down the hall, he pauses outside the sliver of light coming from within what must be a library or study. The scratching of pen has not ceased, so John assumes he has gone unnoticed, and decides to make his appearance. He thrusts the door open with one hand, the other holding up his candle as he steps inside the doorway. He’s met with the inside of a small study, the walls lined with books and a great mahogany desk at the end of the room in front of the only window John has seen so far, which takes up the most of the wall. All he sees outside is darkness, punctured by the small glowing dots of street lamps. The moon is still crescent outside and John wonders how long he’s been asleep, whether it is the same night or if he has been unconscious for a day or two.
The figure at the desk pays him no mind for a few moments, until he dots a word on the paper with finality and places the pen back in its inkwell. He lifts his head to stare directly at John, his eyes a pale, piercing grey, intensified by the whiteness of his skin. His mouth is angled downwards in a gentle V, but his expression is pensive as he waits for John to speak.
As soon as John opens his mouth, the stranger at the desk smiles and relaxes in his seat, interrupting with a smooth baritone voice, “You’re awake.”
It takes barely a moment longer for him to realise, and when he does, John’s fingers twitch violently and he drops the candle holder, the dim and dying candle immediately snubbed out on the thick carpet rug. His hackles rise and his eyes narrow, but the man only smiles wider, revealing his teeth and an expression with what looks like malicious intent.
John spins around to grab the first thing he sees, snatching a small stone bust from a side table and clutching it like a bat. By the time he’s looked back in the vampire’s direction, he has stood from his desk and is already approaching the shaking John Watson in the doorway. Despite the adrenaline still pumping through him, John is still lame from his earlier attack and his defense is sloppy, so a swing of the stone bust is blocked with a sneer, the offending item grabbed off him with a single hand and thrown across the room out of reach. He hears a hiss along with the sight of sharp fangs and suddenly there are hands on him, gripping too tightly at his bedclothes and swinging him aside.
John turns, his head hits the wall and, for the second time in what feels like twenty minutes, John blacks out.
The second time he comes to, he’s greeted with a voice that makes him jerk awake in surprise. It’s the same deep coo of the vampire from the study, but John’s eyes can’t open and clear fast enough for his liking, and he’s left once again with bleary low light.
“If you put up a fight, you’ll only go hurting yourself. Your head is tender, I wouldn’t risk another fall.”
John sucks in a breath and sits up, leaning heavily on one elbow as a hand rubs at his face and eyes while he tries to gather his bearings. The room is different, with a higher ceiling and a wider space with more furniture, although the only light continues to come from dim gas lamps on the walls and an array of candles on a coffee table.
He’s not on a bed this time, but a sofa, one long enough for his legs to be stretched out with room to spare. The cushion underneath him is hard and scratchy, but the soft pressure on his head comes from a damp towel against the back of his skull.
As he tugs the towel off to sit up properly and drop his feet to the floor, he blinks in the low light and tries to focus on the man opposite him. It’s clear they’re in a sitting room, with yet another lush carpet rug, paintings across the walls and an array of small sofa chairs. It seems the larger sofa has been used for his comfort. The vampire opposite sits up in a single-seater, an open book in his lap as he clutches a cup and saucer in his hands.
“Can you tell me the year?” The vampire asks, voice still cool and quiet as he sips from his coffee.
John tries to roll his eyes, but it only suffices in hurting his head. He settles on frowning instead. “Eighteen -” he pauses, rubbing his temple, “Eighteen fifty-one.”
The vampire quirks a smile as he rests the cup and saucer on the arm of his chair. “And the day and month?”
“September,” he begins, pausing and dropping his head, secretly so he doesn’t have to look at those icy eyes, “Thursday-”
“Incorrect,” the stranger interrupts, “You were unconscious a day and half a night; it is Friday. Friday the twentieth. Other than that you seem to be functioning quite alright. Your motor skills are up to par, judging by your action in the study, although your reaction time is quite appalling. Is that how you normally fight?”
John sneers, preparing some kind of snarky response, but the man slaps his book shut and rises to his feet, carrying John’s attention away with him. He sits for a moment with his mouth hanging ajar, but finally he catches up with himself and demands, “Who are you? Where am - Where are my clothes?”
The vampire’s lips twitch but he only just stops himself from smiling when he turns back to spot the look on John’s face. He takes his time to answer, keeping mostly quiet as he crosses the sitting room to the fireplace, where he picks up a pipe from the mantle piece and proceeds to pack it with tobacco from a slipper hanging from the edge.
“Obvious, boring, dull... Somewhat disappointing,” he murmurs to himself as he taps the bowl of the pipe against the mantle. “My name is Sherlock Holmes, and no doubt you’ve discovered what I am,” he begins properly, “Otherwise I would call it rather rude behaviour from a house guest, when you tried to swing a stone bust at my head.”
He hovers a hand over the mantle, clutching what John supposes is a match. With a flick of his wrist and a crackle of match paper, he holds a light between his fingers which he uses to light his pipe.
“Your clothes are folded away for you to take whenever you want. I’ve brought them in here for you, actually. They looked rather uncomfortable to sleep in, so I assumed I was doing you a favour.”
“By having your house servants stripping me down to my undergarments?” John spits as he starts to fidget uncomfortably in his place.
“House servants? Someone like me, really? Well, a maid or two, but I’d hardly need them,” Sherlock actually laughs, spilling smoke from his lips and curling from the end of his pipe.
At that simple remark, John’s blood begins to boil. He glares daggers at the man standing by the unlit fireplace, praying he can read minds and hear the death wish upon him. How dare a vampire touch his skin and manhandle him while his defences are down. Suddenly the worst flashes across his mind and his hand twitches in wanting to press against his neck and feel, but although he stops himself just in time, the vampire still seems to notice.
“You would know if I’d bitten you,” he drawls, that voice melding in with the smoke drifting around him. “I have no reason to, although my hunger is but a tickle, I need you alive.”
“Oh yes, of course you do. Why on earth do you need me? Ransom of some kind? I can tell you now that you won’t get a penny.” John finally rises to his feet, dropping the damp towel down on the cushion and walking around the back of the sofa to find his clothes by the closed and, presumably, locked doorway. “What about my gear, then? You can’t have left them at the warehouse, they -” he pauses with his hands on his trousers, spinning around to look at where Sherlock still stands, smoking his pipe with his eyes closed. “What happened to the demon at the warehouse?”
The vampire talks as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “I need any information you have about the demon in question. I had been on his trail as a longstanding favour to the Scotland Yard and I’m afraid that your interference obliterated my work so far.”
John’s jaw slackens in disbelief as he tugs his trousers on roughly and tugs his shirt sleeves on. “I obliterated your trail?” He snaps, “If it hadn’t been for you then he’d be dead right now! I’d be comfortable at home after a job well done, a nice cup of coffee and my poor head would still be in tact.”
He keeps his back to Sherlock as he works up his buttons, as uncomfortable as it makes him to turn his back on such a deadly foe, for there’s nothing he can do without his weapons. Sherlock said himself that he doesn’t want to kill John, and hopefully he’ll be sticking by his word, at least until John finds a way out.
But as he tucks in his shirt and tightens his belt, he can hear that chilling voice much closer than before.
“Comfortable, really?” he questions, breath on the back of John’s neck, causing him to freeze in place as Sherlock huffs a breath of smoke against his shoulders. “Hardly. You live in slums, practically, a basement of a loft somewhere along the eastern line of the city district. You’ve been clinging to city life, haven’t you? But it must be difficult for a lone wolf such as yourself to blend into such a city.”
To prove his point, he lifts a hand and flicks a slender finger against the long, canine-like ear folded back by the side of John’s head. The moment his nail comes into contact with it, John whips around and snarls under his breath, hackles rising again and eyes narrowing. He has to tilt his head to meet the vampire’s eyes, but the height difference has no effect on John’s anger.
Sherlock broadens his smile. “Such fury, do I need to muzzle you?” He teases, finally holding his pipe away from his mouth to talk without the tobacco distraction. “But that has not come out of nowhere, has it? You’ve been on your own some time now, but I can still see the signs. A soldier, a doctor, judging by your kit and your training. I’ve experienced the war myself, back in 1705. Never fought, though, but I can admire your dedication.”
His smile is somewhat mocking and John wishes he could punch it off his face.
“You’re incredibly unorthodox for a military man, whatever could that be? A lone werewolf without a pack or a mate, running about London chasing demons and - No, wait, just demons. You’ve never touched a vampire before, have you? Probably not even seen one up this close.”
John doesn’t dare shift his gaze away, but Sherlock is so close and it’s making him shudder, making his breath shake on each inhale as he struggles to stay standing and keep his dignity about him. How could he possibly be so readable? How could he know all of this?
“No doubt some kind of revenge plan, how dull. You went to war a normal man, did you not? So young and so human, and you come home so...” He scrunches his nose up as his eyes lower, looks John up and down and settle somewhere between his collar and his eyes. “So broken.”
John can’t help it, he exhales on another snarl which makes Sherlock chuckle as he finally turns away from him.
“I need to know everything that you know about this demon. When, how and where did you discover his presence, what action have you taken thus far and how on earth did you manage to track him down and get so close to him?”
John watches Sherlock as he talks, his eyes far away from John’s and his brow furrowing as his thoughts catch up with his words. John just rolls his eyes to himself and turns away again, pulling on his thick woolen jumper, rolling the neck down to be more comfortable then tugging his beaten leather jacket on over the top and fastening it up to his chest. When he turns back around, Sherlock is standing behind his arm chair, hands resting on the backrest and eyes on John like he’s a piece of meat turning on a spit.
John swallows thickly, but he doesn’t feel scared so much as irritated.
“I’ve been after Murphy for about a month now,” he begins, tugging sharply at his jacket to adjust his layers and to pass off his annoyance for this whole debacle. “Read a few articles in The Times that seemed to link in together, I suspected demonic activity.”
Sherlock’s eyes narrow as he listens, standing still as a stone against the armchair. John tries not to feel bothered by his gaze.
“I nearly had him two Tuesdays ago, when I -”
“What demonic activities?” The vampire interrupts.
John pauses, backtracks in his mind to remember the articles. “Two mysterious deaths, an infant and a banker. Lived in the same building,” he recites, “Different days, but both superstitious families, same cause of death.”
“They drowned,” Sherlock finished quietly. “They drowned in their sitting rooms, the infant while she slept. Yes. How did you suspect they were linked?”
John simply frowns. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? How could they not have been linked together? I visited the flats, did a bit of an investigation of my own, turns out I’ve met the man before. Fleetingly, but I’d seen him before.”
Sherlock, for a split second, seems to roll his eyes. “Jumping to conclusions without facts, of course, but I suppose you were lucky to have guessed correctly. How did you find him yesterday evening?”
John takes a deep breath as he picks up his coat and gloves, his last remaining articles of clothing, from the tabletop. “Instinct, really,” he admits, but he admits it proudly. “I sought him out, I found him, I followed him, and you completely ruined everything. If you hadn’t been in that warehouse last night, he’d be dead, thanks to myself.”
Sherlock digs his nails into the chair and turns his head away as he thinks, giving John time to finish dressing properly, readying to leave. He asks, as he wriggles his fingers into his gloves, “Where is my equipment?” but he’s met with no answer.
He waits for a full minute, but Sherlock doesn’t move, and finally asks again. “Mr Holmes,” he snaps, “You have been awfully hospitable in letting me recover here, but I would rather be as far away from you as soon as possible. So where did you put my gear?”
Sherlock unfreezes from his place too suddenly for John’s liking and passes through an open archway with a little hop to his step. John assumes, hopes, that he’s retrieving John’s things, and perhaps John will have time to hit him with a stake and be on his way before long. His skin is still crawling to be in the same room as a vampire, let alone a tall, dark and oddly eccentric one as Sherlock Holmes. It’s unnerving to say the least.
When the vampire returns, he’s not clutching John’s crossbow and satchel, but rather a handful of papers and a pen and inkwell. John switches to glaring at him as he drops down to seat himself on his knees on the floor by the coffee table between the sofa chairs and begins to write.
“What do you expect to gain from keeping me here?” John snaps at him.
Sherlock pauses mid sentence and double takes up at the man looking down at him. “I gain nothing, Doctor Watson,” he says sincerely, and John decides not to ask how he knows his name, “But I am not done with you. I do have a final request, and then you are free to leave whenever.” He turns back to his papers momentarily, scrawling out the short bottom half of a letter before putting it aside and finally turning his full attention to John.
“My profession is a unique one, for I invented it myself. I am a detective of sorts, whom the police consult if they ever find themselves out of their depths. I do find myself much more attracted to cases of the paranormal, however.” John ignores the arrogant little smile that graces Sherlock’s lips at that point. “Detective Inspector Lestrade of the Scotland Yard had come to me the Sunday before last, needing my assistance with this Rupert Murphy. He is suspected of the same crimes you assumed him to commit, amongst many others I have succeeded in proving. All we need is to catch him.”
John isn’t quite sure what to expect next, but it’s certainly not what Sherlock ends up saying.
“So now, since you are well aware that this is a case for the police and myself, I must inform you to stay away from it. You no longer need to pursue Mr. Murphy, but you are welcome to hand over any further information that may assist us in his capture.”
Amidst the monotonous slur that sounds as if Sherlock is reading from a script, John takes the words stay away and his brain seems to use them as some kind of kindling for his anger.
“Me, back off?” He shouts in disbelief. “This is my job too! This is my life! And I’m bloody good at what I do, thank you very much. I’ve been after this demon for over a month now - you cannot just sabotage what should have been a closing night for this arsehole and then tell me to shoo now that you’ve got all the pieces. Because I’ll tell you what - you’ve got nothing if you haven’t got me. I know what I’m dealing with and I know how to take him down. So don’t you dare wave a shiny badge in my face and tell me to be gone.”
He finds himself struggling against doing something foolish like baring his pathetic human teeth, knowing it won’t do him any good anyway, especially against the vampire kneeling on the floor before him. It’s just so infuriating when Sherlock smiles like that, like John’s anger is something to coo at.
“Language, Doctor,” he responds easily, but John can see it doesn’t matter to him either way. “I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do. Do you need help finding the door, or are you capable yourself?”
John supposes it’s meant to be threatening when Sherlock extends his fangs like that in a smile that doesn’t even come close to reaching his eyes.
Because he does feel a little bit terrified.
“What about my gear?”
Sherlock scoffs, but by now has turned back to his letters. “Yes, you can have all of that back right away, I’m so sorry to have kept you from trying to kill me,” he drawls. “Surely you can live without a few planks of wood, a bag of salt and a pathetic copper pendant.”
John feels his chest seize up and he can’t stop himself from reaching up and grabbing at his neck, only to find his crucifix and chain missing. No wonder Sherlock had felt so close to him - because he was; there was nothing to hold him back, nothing to keep a barrier between them. That sends a shiver down John’s spine.
“That was blessed,” he spits.
“Obviously,” Sherlock sighs, holding up his left hand while the other writes, exposing a small blackened scab on his fingertips. “Otherwise it wouldn’t have burned when I tried to pick up the blasted thing.”
John smiles smugly at that, not even trying to hide it. He almost mutters a bitter good but figures that would be a bit too much. “I don’t have the money to replace those things. You have no need to keep them, you won’t even be able to touch half of it, it’s real silver.”
“On the contrary,” Sherlock murmurs, head still down, “I find it rather fascinating. I have a thorough interest for peculiar experiments, discovering new things and uncovering those which I am uncertain about. Your weapons and defensive techniques are fascinating and I should like to look upon them further.”
“Further,” John repeats, like he’s testing the word in his mouth. He frowns more deeply and says again, questions, “Further? You mean to say you’ve already tampered with everything? Everything which was mine and quite obviously wasn’t yours?”
“You were asleep for a long time,” Sherlock brushes it off, but he must sense John’s fuming anger and eventually looks up to smile innocently at him. “I already undressed you myself, I suppose poking around your backpack was just a logical next step to take.”
John leaves hurriedly through the archway that Sherlock had disappeared through to find papers, and finds himself in a small kitchen that looks barely used. He’s not really sure where he’s going, only that he needs to get out of that sitting room and into some fresh air, away from the vampire who feels like he will be the death of him. While he considers looking for his equipment, he weighs up the idea of wandering aimlessly around a vampire’s home versus leaving completely unarmed; both plans sending a shiver to his bones.
He starts towards a doorway where he can see a staircase through the other side, but as he moves closer, he notices a greying head of hair bounding up the steps towards him. John stops dead in his tracks as the man crosses the threshold, pausing as well when he notices John in front of him. They simply stare at each other for a moment or so, the man’s eyes flicking across to John’s ears to undoubtedly come to the conclusion of werewolf, while John only takes a single sniff to confirm this man is human.
He figures he should call out some kind of warning, tell him to leave the house of a vampire, but Sherlock calls out from the sitting room to capture both of their attention.
“Ah, Lestrade, you couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The man, presumably the DI from Scotland Yard, gives John a short, polite nod before passing him to walk through to the sitting room. John can’t help but linger, remaining in the kitchen but peering through to watch the exchange.
Sherlock has risen to his feet and is folding his letter precisely between slender fingers. He holds it out for Lestrade to take without a word, then looks over the man’s shoulder to eye John as he waits for the letter to be read.
Lestrade opens his mouth to speak once or twice although nothing comes out, scratching at the hair above his temples before finally looking up to meet Sherlock’s eyes. “Demon?” he questions, “What’s this about a demon?”
“The good Doctor Watson over here has confirmed that for us,” Sherlock explains with a nod in John’s direction. “Murphy is a demon, which should explain why he has been so slippery to catch.” Lestrade looks over his shoulder at him, eyeing John up and down once more before he glances back at Sherlock.
“Colleague of yours?”
“Hardly,” John interrupts, his smile dry and impatient.
As soon as Lestrade turns his back on him again to infer with the vampire, John turns on his heel and steps out onto the landing by the staircase. His eyes search around the room until he finds what looks like another hallway, or possibly the same one from before. It sounds as if Sherlock and Lestrade are deep in conversation, well distracted from anything he does, so he ignores the staircase for now and ducks down the hall in search for his equipment.
He passes a series of closed and locked doors, recognising the handle from the study and the painting outside of the spare bedroom he’d awoken in. He slips back inside to check there’s nothing he’d left behind, then dashes back out to find another staircase at the end of the hallway. He hesitates going up, but eventually forces himself forward and takes the steps two at a time. All he’s met with is another hallway, but he spies a few open doors with light spilling from within.
As John starts towards one of the doors, he pauses to hear the creaking of floorboards and an exchange of voices from downstairs. He can’t make out exactly what Sherlock and Lestrade are saying, but he presumes the mention of library means they’re coming upstairs.
He ducks into the first open room he sees and closes the door behind him, watching the light from the other side which shines through the bottom of the door carefully to wait for the shadows of the two to pass by. He eventually sneaks away from the door to examine the room, its focus being a large table with glass vials and papers strewn around. He doesn’t understand much of what’s written on them, but recognises some chemical symbols and scientific equations.
Once he’s sure the two have passed him by, he relaxes and begins to search more freely around the room. It looks like it’s been used for various experiments, judging by the state of the tabletop and the volumes of reference books lining the shelves on the far wall. If the vampire had taken his equipment away to study it, then perhaps it’s in here.
Yet, to John’s dismay, a once-over of the room turns up nothing that even resembles his crossbow or the contents of his satchel. He slumps against the edge of the table, silently cursing himself for getting into this situation. It’s not like him to give up so soon, even in the face of a new foe - he’s never given up before, even when it seemed like he was chasing his own tail, so to speak.
He’s distracted from his thoughts when his gaze strays across to look upon some of the equipment on the table that he leans against. His eyes narrow as he looks upon an open book leaning against a small wooden book stand and quickly reaches over to grab it. He pushes the book aside, turns his back on the door to lean over the table and examine the stand. It takes the shape of a small easel, built for tabletops like this one, the wood feeling firm enough under his fingers and thin enough for him to break against the table if he focuses his strength. John finds himself grinning for what must be the first time in a month.
He doesn’t hesitate to adjust his grip on the thicker leg of the stand and swing it downwards to crack it against the edge of the table. The wood snaps and a few splinters fly, leaving him with a jagged edge and a sturdy wooden stake that feels comfortable in his hands.
John freezes when he feels a shallow puff of breath against his neck.
“That’s not a toy,” a voice whispers to him, revealing Sherlock’s position behind him. John hadn’t even heard the door open.
He spins around quickly, all too suddenly becoming pinned back against the table by his much taller foe. John automatically leans back, but Sherlock still feels much too close for his liking - they can practically share breath and John can see up close how the blacks of Sherlock’s eyes have dilated, almost completely eclipsing the grey.
He forces his slight nervousness down and keeps eye contact despite himself. “I demand you tell me where my things are,” John hisses, his grip around the stake tightening, the edges of the wood digging into his hand through the barrier of his gloves.
“You’d kill a man for a backpack and some silver arrows?” Sherlock questions, his tone mocking and light, but still talking quietly for only John to hear.
“You’re not a man,” John spits, “I’ve killed bigger for less.”
Sherlock raises his brow at that, but he doesn’t pull away. He keeps his fingertips on the table either side of John’s waist, their knees locked together and eventually leans in closer so John can’t pull away. When his lips are uncomfortably close to the neck of John’s jumper, he whispers in his ear.
“You are currently in my home, under my own protection. I have offered no threat, and have given you countless opportunities to leave. Now,” he pauses and bows his head so John can’t see his eyes, lowering his voice even more so. “Approximately fifteen feet away, with but a wall between us, is a Scotland Yard official. A Detective Inspector, no less. I am currently working with this official. Now, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to guess that, no matter how many petty lives you have taken, none of them would have gotten you a charge.”
John’s breath shakes as he guesses what is next to come. Sherlock is right about that at least; John is a hunter, but he has killed only guilty men.
“I can guarantee that killing me will serve you no greater purpose, at least not while I am on this case. You will be cast out of London, your name will be blackened and you will have to start over. Again.”
John swallows thickly as Sherlock shifts an arm from the table to drop his hand around the stake. In John’s shaking fingers, it’s easy to pry from his grip and throw aside.
“Good,” he whispers, finally reeling back and standing upright to give John the space he so desperately needs. “Now, I suggest you leave before I run out of patience with you. You’ll find the exit at the bottom of the stairwell.”
John has never been one to run away from a fight, but he doesn’t have much of a choice but to head for the exit as quickly as possible, not even bothering to acknowledging the Detective Inspector when he passes him in the hall on his way out.
What makes John feel a little colder is that Sherlock Holmes was right - he was right about everything he read from John’s mind. He lives much further out of the city, close to the edge of the excitement and the buzzing of life. He doesn’t know how the vampire knew these things, perhaps it’s some kind of power that comes with his immortality, but all John can think of as he stumbles out of a cab and saunters towards his dingy apartment block is how nice those plush cushions felt under his head, how warm it was inside such a big, private home.
He mutters vague obscenities to himself as he heaves open the front door of the building and starts towards his basement flat.
His landlord and neighbours are mostly quiet, but the walls are thin and breaking and he can hear all the footsteps from the floors above, even the slightest shifting of the floorboards. It’s certainly different from the quite manor-like home he had found himself in with the company of a vampire.
Alas, he thinks as he crosses the threshold and begins to shed his coat, his home may be cold and small, but at least it has a roof, at least he gets his own privacy and at least he doesn’t have to share quarters with some foul beast of the night.
It just so happens that, to his neighbours, he is the beast they must share with.
The state of the flat itself is quite appalling, even in John’s opinion. He had grown to be so tidy from his military training, but his growing apathy over the years has slowly peeled that away. It’s less of a basement flat and more of a basement, with one separate room where he keeps his bed, which shares a wall with the boiler and piping systems for the building. The main room he’s just walked into is split off into sections by use of various boxes, piles of books and suitcases as dividers. Closest to the door is a short row of counters against the wall, one housing a sink and a mostly-unused stove off to the side. A small circular mirror sits atop the counter by the sink, its reflection fogged and stained from years of use and travel without much cleaning.
He folds his longer overcoat over his arm before laying it down on a clear space of counter. As he starts to undo his jacket, he passes a weary glance over his quarters and resists sighing to no one in particular. His sofa sits low to the ground, against the far wall just underneath one of the small windows that offer him a glimpse of feet of the passing pedestrians, if there are any around this part of town.
Most of the room is taken up by his hunting gear, his equipment, his planning and his maps, which has all slowly spread throughout the flat like a virus creeping over the concrete and wood to cover all in its path. The many crates and boxes house broken bits and bobs he’s picked up, looted or hoarded. Most of the time, when he kills his prey properly, they leave nothing but ash in their demise, which John has taken a habit of collecting to try and study, to see if he can gather any information of it. With a lack of a scientific brain or laboratory, however, it’s proven difficult to deduce that the vials and jars are anything other than a waste of space.
There are some occasions when he still manages to kill, but the body remains. John always takes the opportunity to shed as much as he can from the cadaver, like clothes and money and anything he needs for himself. It’s not as if a dead demon will need it anymore.
His jacket is dropped atop his coat and his jumper is removed, left over the arm of the tough little sofa once he’s approached it. Looking upon the gap in his space where his satchel and crossbow would normally go leaves a sinking feeling in John’s stomach, knowing where they are and whom they’re in the hands of, but not being able to do anything about it.
What John also knows, though, is that it won’t do him any good to brood alone and stare at an empty space on the floor. He doesn’t bother lighting any candles, since the sun had already begun to rise by the time his cab had dropped him home, and there is already a considerable amount of sunlight filtering in from the windows above. After one more longing stare at the maps and charts pinned across the walls and floor, the maps telling the story of his chase after the Murphy demon, he finally pulls himself away by grabbing a book from the floor and tucking his legs up on the sofa.
The basement barely contains him when he’s a small human, let alone during his transformation under the full moon, but it’s still a home that has treated him well when he needs it.