Chapter 1: You're the One Who Ran in the Wild
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.
Chapter 2: You're the One the Wild Called
I have a playlist of about 40 songs to get my in the mood to write for this fic, and the other day I decided to make a downloadable playlist of 13 of them so I could share my favourites. The track list and download link is here! Enjoy!
Some hours have passed before John sits up and rubs his eyes, closing the book and setting it aside. Despite turning pages, his mind has been on his equipment and the frustrating slip that Murphy had made between his fingers the night before. He feels too anxious to sleep and too antsy to sit still any longer, so it doesn’t take long before he’s up on his feet again, tugging on his sweater and coats. Before he leaves, he swipes up a coarse woolen beanie from the counter and tugs it on over his ears as he walks briskly out of the basement and out of the building.
Leaving Holmes’ house early that morning, it had been too dark to tell much about his surroundings. He was fairly lucky to have found a cab so late, or so early, but he wouldn’t have been able to walk home, since he didn’t know where he was. Unfortunately, this means he doesn’t know where to go to return, and he suspects that Sherlock had purposely tried to ensure this.
What he does know, however, is the name of a Detective Inspector currently working at the Scotland Yard who seems fairly close with the vampire in question.
He walks to the closest underground station, catches a train for as far as he can afford, and walks the rest of the distance. It takes some time, and it’s early afternoon by the time he arrives, but his determination keeps him walking until he’s outside of the station, stumbling his way through to find someone who can help.
Use of the word “emergency” appears to give John top priority as he demands for Detective Inspector Lestrade, but he doesn’t allow himself to get too confident in his plan just yet. The moment the DI steps out into view and catches sight of John, he freezes up before letting out a heavy sigh. At least he recognises him, then, which should - hopefully - make things easier.
He immediately pulls John aside, eyes darting rather obviously around John’s hidden wolven ears. He speaks in a low voice for John’s ears only, both looking and sounding like an awfully tired man.
“I don’t know why you’re here, Doctor, but I presume it’s about this case. Look here -”
“It’s not that,” John blurts out immediately, despite his thoughts shouting at him to backtrack and try and reason with this an properly, convince him that he should be on this case. Lestrade leans back in surprise, looking at John curiously as he waits. “I need... I need to know Sherlock Holmes’ address. I know you probably think - but I’m not, I - He’s taken some things of mine and I need them back, that’s all. I know, there’s probably some sort of confidentiality agreement that you can’t -”
“Sherlock Holmes doesn’t work here,” Lestrade interrupts, not at all sounding disapproving of John’s request. “And if he’s taken your things, then I suppose you’ve every right to go get it all back. But listen - I know I shouldn’t be doing this, if he’s stolen things then I should be seeing him myself, but,” he pauses, glances around and rubs a hand against the back of his neck. “Watching out for that man is like a full time job in itself. If you can manage without a fuss, good on you, and thanks for avoiding me more paperwork.”
John takes a deep breath and nods, fighting a small triumphant smile.
“Baker street,” Lestrade tells him. “221B Baker street, in Central London. Got that?”
“Thank you, sincerely,” John nods, releasing a short breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. “I won’t cause you any trouble,” he promises, but Lestrade rolls his eyes in disbelief as he turns to walk back to where he’d come from.
His pockets are dangerously light after paying a cab driver to take him to Baker street, but he tells himself his cause is worth it. The sun is just shifting from afternoon into evening light as they come to a halt outside 221B, giving John enough light to stand back on the sidewalk and take a proper look at the house he’d been held captive in while unconscious for a day and a half.
What takes John by surprise is that it’s not really that big. There are two stories, perhaps a third or an attic, which is difficult to tell at his angle and by the state of the windows. It’s a rather thin building, attached to its neighbours, and John begins to wonder if he had been delusional when he was trapped inside that night.
Quickly enough, he makes for the front door and hits the knocker a few times, pausing only for a moment before he starts to knock with his fist. Sherlock did mention having a maid, so there must be someone in who could foolishly let him slip by. If he’s lucky, Sherlock could rise late, and he might even be able to get his equipment out with the maid’s help before the vampire even wakes for sundown.
As he continues to knock, this seems less and less likely. He’s finally interrupted by a small voice from behind him, causing him to stop and turn to see a small young woman struggling with a few bulging paper bags in her arms.
“I - Sorry, do you need help?” he asks automatically, to which the girl simply stammers and shuffles past to get to the door of 221B.
“I’ll just be a moment, I’m so sorry!” she exclaims, while she struggles trying to shift the grocery bags in her arms to fetch her key.
John instantly dives down to help her, freeing her hands by taking a few of the bags himself and standing back as she tugs out a small chain from the pocket of her hooded coat, a key attached to it to open the door. John doesn’t mind waiting and holding her things for her, in fact assuming that if this is one of Sherlock’s maids, he might as well get on her good side so she’ll help him.
“I take it you wanted to see Mr Holmes,” she asks as she takes one of the bags back, John already having reached out to hold the door open with one hand.
“Yes, I was here recently, I needed to speak with him again. It’s urgent. Are you in his service? You may be able to help me.”
The girl frowns in concentration as she scurries inside, John following closely. They wait in the entry hall as she takes her coat off, hangs it up and replaces it with a bland white apron from the hook on the wall. When she sees John still holding her groceries for her, she smiles shyly, thankful for the aid.
“Mr Holmes has... unusual sleeping hours,” she explains carefully, all while gesturing him to follow her up the stairs, tip toeing to show he needs to be quiet. “But he still needs care, so he employs two maids. I’m afraid I’m a bit late today, I was suppose to come just before dusk, not during. I’m his night maid, and he has another for the day time.”
John notices, as she leads him passed a doorway to the familiar sitting room and through a door which joins up with the kitchen, that she talks rather quickly as she threads her fingers through her long brunette hair, seeming like some sort of nervous twitch. She stops in the kitchen when she stops talking, then turns to John to take the bags from him and begin to set things away.
“Surely he wouldn’t notice, he’d still be asleep, wouldn’t he?” he questions, numbly passing things from the bags into the girl’s hands as she dashes about to fill the shelves.
“Oh goodness, no. I told you, he’s got rather odd sleeping patterns. Can’t decide whether to be nocturnal or not, he’s always got some form of insomnia, whether it’s during the night or during the day.”
They’re interrupted by a shout from a different room, the voice clear and familiar as Sherlock Holmes’: “Molly!”
The maid, Molly, sets down everything she’s holding and dashes to the doorway between the kitchen and the sitting room. “Yes, Mr Holmes?” she calls in response, her fingers tapping idly at the door frame as she waits for an answer.
Then, much louder, feeling much closer, the voice comes again. “We have company,” he says, not asks, and John feels his shoulders stiffen in defence mode.
“Yes - Yes we do, a gentleman was at the door when I arrived this afternoon, but he hasn’t -”
“I’m not seeing any clients yet, send him away or make him wait. Bring tea.” The voice is distant again, quieter, lazier. John tries to relax, but hearing it has already put him on edge, reminded him of whose house he’s in.
“I hope you don’t mind waiting,” Molly says as she turns back to John. “He shouldn’t be long, he -”
She’s interrupted by the low whine of what sounds like a violin, cutting her off indefinitely as it jumps up in pitch and begins to play a tune that John doesn’t recognise. She soon relaxes, but looks a little defeated as she holds a hand out to gesture for John to follow her through to the sitting room. He’s seated down on the sofa he’d awoken on earlier that morning and has to hold back a grimace, even once she’s left him alone so she can prepare tea in the kitchen.
The violin continues for another minute and a half before it stops abruptly, replaced by the sound of a door opening and closing with a slam. John immediately sits upright, listening carefully, but he can’t hear footsteps growing nearer or moving anywhere at all. He snaps his attention to Molly carrying out a tray with tea, pausing by him for a moment to readjust her grip and apologise, “Sorry, sir, I’ll be with you in a moment, Mr Holmes just needs his tea hot,” before she’s walking away to take the tea into the vampire.
John sits back in an attempt to relax, but his shoulders remain squared even against the soft plush of the sofa. As he listens to the distant clinking of a teapot and cups in another room, he lets his eyes wander around the one he’s currently in. While he examines the size of the ceiling and contemplates the third storey, there’s a voice from the doorway of the kitchen, causing John to jump to his feet on high alert.
“You haven’t relaxed since you set foot in here, even though there’s been no immediate or apparent danger,” it observes, the familiar lazy baritone setting the hairs on the back of John’s neck to stand on end. “And look at you now - full attention to your superiors without a moments hesitation. Definitely military experience there.”
John can’t hold back the low growl in his throat as he widens his stance. Again, he hadn’t heard any hint of Sherlock’s arrival, not a creak or a breath, nor could he smell him. Although he’s established that Sherlock has a bland scent, one he can barely pick up on unless he is as close as he was earlier that morning, he internally scoffs at the idea of Sherlock flying or floating to prevent the creaking of a floorboard.
“Yes, although it was some time ago. I’m correct, aren’t I? Of course I am. Probably Afghanistan.” Sherlock idly fixes his fitted cuffs as he speaks, although he does glance up at the last moment. John must show his surprise on his face, for Sherlock quickly smiles and nods. “Correct on all counts, then.”
“How do you know this?” John asks, less angrily than he’d have liked. “And how did you know I was a doctor when we first met; how did you know my name; where I live?”
Rather than answering, barely even acknowledging the questions with a hint of a smile, Sherlock walks across the room to the second doorway where Molly is scurrying back. She jumps at the sight of him, fumbling with her tray still full of tea, but Sherlock’s reflexes are impressively quick and he doesn’t even blink as he reaches out to stop everything from falling.
“O-oh, goodness, I’m sorry Sherlock, I - I couldn’t find you, I hadn’t realised you’d -”
“Yes, yes, enough,” Sherlock waves it off once she’s regained her grip. “Go see to your duties, I’m going out tonight.”
He swipes up one of the cups from the tray, pouring himself a black cup of tea before setting the kettle down and turning his back on Molly to face John with the boiling cup resting between his palms. She’s speechless for a moment, but quickly ducks behind him to escape to the kitchen and leave them alone.
“I won’t leave until you return what’s mine,” John says sternly. Sherlock smiles automatically, one that doesn’t reach his eyes as he sips at his steaming tea.
“Good, then you can come with me. I know I ordered you away, but it’s much more fun this way. Besides, I think better when I talk aloud,” he babbles, “And I could certainly use a hunter with experience. And a doctor, no less.”
John frowns, more out of confusion than frustration at first. “What... no, what are you talking about? You go and retrieve my things and I’ll -”
“You’re still wearing your coat? Excellent, we can get going right away, then.” Sherlock talks as if he hadn’t been interrupted, eventually setting his tea down on a side table by the door before turning his back on John, disappearing towards the stairwell for a moment and then returning as he tugs on a heavy trench coat with a high collar. “Coming?”
He turns away, again, before John has a chance to reply, disappearing quickly down the staircase at a jog. Without thinking, John pushes himself forward to follow, aided by the banister when he stops at the foot of the stairs to watch Sherlock grab at the back of his collar. The front door is open, filtering in a dim dusk light, but sunlight no less. Sherlock has a hood over his head in an instant, then buttons up the double breasted trench that must shield him from the sun’s rays. For a moment, John is mesmerised by the vampire’s swift, precise and practised hand motions of flipping up the hood and easily sliding his fingers into a thick pair of leather gloves, buttoning them halfway up his wrist to ensure no skin is showing. He looks like a shadow where he stands, completely covered in black with his long sweeping coat and but a glimpse of porcelain white skin showing where his grin is unhidden from his hood.
“And off we go,” he coos, spinning on his heel to dart out the front door, expecting John to follow.
That doesn’t mean he’s not still fuming. He skips a step to catch up so he’s walking beside the other, not following behind like his dog (he tries not to grimace at that thought), and tries to look ahead and see where Sherlock is aiming for. With his eyes and most of his face covered, however, it’s difficult to see where his line of sight is leading.
“Right,” John mutters, “What am I doing? Where are we going and why on earth would you need me?”
“It took you a month to find Murphy in a situation where you could get a proper hold on him,” Sherlock says instead, “A full month, what took me a week. If anything, I’d say you needed me. We’re currently en route to killing him and ending this repetitive business.”
John tries not to look too surprised, but Sherlock is paying him no mind as he walks with his fingers steepled together in front of his lips, appearing somewhat deep in thought. “It’s your hands,” he adds out of the blue, “Your hands and your posture, and of course the contents of your satchel.”
John looks on for a moment or two, expression blank, before he shakes his head and frowns at him. “I beg your pardon?”
“Your satchel!” Sherlock repeats, louder this time, whipping his hands away from his face and actually turning his head to look at his companion. “You have an extensive collection of salts, potions and trinkets designed to both ward off and attract bad spirits and demons. You’re heavily stocked with weapons of different kinds, such as your crossbow, your arrows and bullets, but also with much more passive defences like holy water and a crucifix. This says you know to be prepared, for absolutely anything you come across, but you’re also incredibly compact in the way you store everything, for the best possible convenience. I was amazed at how much you had crammed in there.
“Amongst your weaponry, you’re also well stocked with herbs and equipment for healing. Now, most hunters would ignore this completely, perhaps pack a bandage or two and battle it out until they’re safe back at base. But not you. You’re prepared, you’re smart, you know exactly what to bring for what circumstance, whether it’s to hurt another, help yourself or heal your fellow broken.”
He stops walking for a moment and stands aside, pushing John further back off the curb as a two-wheeler cab rolls past them, the horses shuffling and and stamping as they catch the scent of a vampire and a werewolf. From being utterly indifferent to his surroundings a moment ago, Sherlock now looks around from under his hood, eyeing each and every figure they stand amongst on the street while John simply stares. With the threat of sun finally gone, he reaches up to pull his hood down, then continues walking in towards a busier street.
“Then of course is the bag itself,” he starts again, catching John’s attention once more. “It’s old, worn, seen better days but is still sturdy enough to only have needed some minor adjustments. It’s easy to tell where you’ve torn insignias and badges from it from your army days, and I could still make out the faded traces of a generic medical cross on one of the outer pockets when I was examining it. That and the precision of your hands when you shoot and that you are well disciplined; whether you’ve grown out of most of your military habits or not, they are still there.”
John would comment on that, on all of it, but while he’s rendered somewhat speechless, Sherlock has dashed across the street with the expectation of John to follow him. Now that his eyes are no longer hidden from view, John can see just how much attention Sherlock pays to his surroundings. His glance darts from the lamp lighters to the cab drivers, scans over pedestrians and occasionally stops to waver over the homeless slouched at street corners.
“And the obvious, of course,” he adds with a huff of breath as he stops on the street corner and waits for John to catch up, “Is your name, title and rank embroidered into the inner lining of the bag. It was more of a confirmation of the facts than anything.”
“That’s brilliant,” John breathes, earning a frown from Sherlock, surprising both the vampire and himself. “Well, it is.”
“Interesting,” Sherlock murmurs.
John immediately straightens up and adds a sharper edge to his tone, “What do you mean?”
“I was playing with the idea that you hunted demons for the sake of hunting demons. That isn’t to say you don’t, by the way - you clearly have an unhealthy addiction to your own adrenaline, much like someone might with narcotics. Why else would you venture out into the night in the company of a vampire, while you remain unarmed?” He flashes John a toothy grin. “But you judge people by their deeds, do you not? You’ve spent the past day and a half loathing every breath I draw, and yet here you stand with precious stars in your eyes at a simple deduction. Clearly you kill demons because of their bad deeds. Taking justice into your own hands, how quaint.”
John shoots him a fierce glare, but Sherlock has already turned away to head on towards a line of shops. He walks briskly behind him, deciding now to keep a bit of distance between them. Yet even with him a step behind, Sherlock continues talking, loud enough for him to still be heard by the other.
“I suppose that would come with your doctor’s nature. Helping others, restoring balance... And serving your country. You still possess qualities from your days of pure humanity, although,” he pauses and glances across the street, and John can see his grin, “How pure are humans, really? No more than the walking dead or a mongrel beast.”
John is a second away from lashing out, from grabbing Sherlock from behind and throwing him to the ground, and his jaw sets at the word mongrel that flows so innocently from between the vampire’s lips. He’s stopped from living his violent fantasies, however, when Sherlock stops, turns on his heel to face him and starts to unbutton his trench coat.
“What are -”
“Do you need anything? I’ve got a bit of shopping to do. Tobacco? Newspaper?” He chirps as he digs a hand around a pocket within the lining of his coat, silencing once he pulls out a small coin purse. John simply stands and stares, looking him up and down until Sherlock reaches out to grab one of his wrists and forcibly place three sovereigns into his palm.
John is prepared to pull his hand away and back off, but once the money is placed in his hand, he more or less stares at it in disbelief. When he looks up, Sherlock has already turned to enter a shop, his coat flailing behind him. Still clueless to Sherlock’s exact intentions, John considers just leaving there and then, but something doesn’t feel right about the weight of the coins in his hand, so he reluctantly follows the man into the shop.
He lingers in the doorway for a moment, simply gazing around from the wares to the shop keeper and then to Sherlock, who stands by the other end of the front counter, examining something in his hands. John takes a deep breath, glances once more at the coins before he forces himself to step forward and get closer to the other.
“Well then,” he starts, uncertain where to go next, so he settles for looking over Sherlock’s shoulder at a cased pen and letter opener set, the painted silver of it glistening in the low light. “Why are we in a pawn shop?”
“Good wares, interesting prices. Always something different. Always something... useful.” Sherlock squints as he holds the letter opener up to the light, then suddenly breaks into a smile and drops the case onto the counter.
The shop keep approaches with a pleased little grin, leaning against the counter as he eyes the coin purse in Sherlock’s hand. “Real silver, that is,” he nods at the pen.
“I assumed as such,” Sherlock mutters, but John has to double take at the item on the counter, then back at Sherlock with a frown of confusion.
“Yes, John, silver. You’ll have to mind it for me. I’m sure it won’t be too much of a burden on you.” He turns and flashes him a small grin, but his expression turns to ice the moment he turns his head back to the shop keep and drops a few coins onto the table. “Go and purchase me some cigarettes from next door, if you will.”
He doesn’t look back at John after making his request, like he’s already forgotten his presence. John turns away and exits the shop quickly, having to pause outside to take a deep breath and reason with himself that this will probably - hopefully - pay off when he gets his things back at the end of the day and can leave the vampire’s company forever.
As he’s pocketing the change into one of his coat pockets, he hears Sherlock’s footsteps on the pavement behind him. He turns around to greet him, but as he holds out the tin of cigarettes, he instead has the cased pen and letter knife thrust into his grip.
“Keep the pen, if you wish, or throw it out. I’ve no use for it. But hold onto that silver knife, it will come in handy.” He turns around to face away from John yet again, this time moving a little slower and staying rooted to the spot as he gazes amongst the other Londoners out and about during the evening. He eventually holds a hand out expectantly, to which John tugs out the tin of pre-rolled cigarettes from his pocket and places one in the palm of his waiting, gloved hand.
Sherlock holds it to his lips, hovering just a centimetre away as he turns his head slightly towards his companion. His eyes remain fixed away, darting about, considering everything around them, but still he stands with the cigarette, waiting.
John pats his coat pockets then digs a hand in to pull out a half used packet of matches. He reluctantly lights up Sherlock’s cigarette, glaring at the lazy sod all the while, and pauses for a moment with the matches and cigarettes in his hands even after Sherlock has straightened up and turned away to breathe in the nicotine.
It takes a mere few seconds to convince himself to pack it away and save a smoke for later.
“I was under the impression that vampires were deceased, reanimated beings,” he says as he tucks the tin away, stalling to fold up the matches but eventually shoving them back where they came from as well. “Undead, so to speak.”
Sherlock hums, short and impatient and doesn’t take his eyes off of whatever it is that he’s watching across the street.
“So why on earth would you smoke? Some men smoke for enjoyment, some for relaxation.
You wouldn’t need it, surely you wouldn’t feel the craving of nicotine if your cells have died, and I can hardly see how anything respiratory could affect something that doesn’t breathe.”
Sherlock laughs, although it comes as more of a huffed breath of smoke attached to a peculiar smile. “Not dead,” he corrects, “I can see the doctor is in, now, hmm? You’re trying not to care but it’s so difficult, isn’t it? Never seen a vampire before, let alone talked to one. You’re dying to understand me and get inside my head, isn’t that right?” He pauses, chuckles again, “At the very least you want to get inside my mouth.”
John actually splutters at that, leaning back as if it will do any good to get away from him. “I beg your pardon?”
“Well? You’re gasping for a cigarette, aren’t you?” Sherlock smirks at John as he holds the cigarette out, but John doesn’t dare make a move towards it. Sherlock continues as normal, “I don’t need to breathe, no, but smoking helps me think. You’re wrong - I can feel the nicotine, even though I can suppress the addiction.”
John paces himself, first trying to see if he can follow Sherlock’s eye line before he eventually gives up and questions him, “And what is it that you’re thinking about?”
Sherlock hums again as his lips settle around the tab between his fingers. He murmurs something incoherent, and when John prompts him to repeat himself, he snaps his attention to John all too suddenly, dropping the cigarette to crush it on the ground and offering him a somewhat manic grin before he dashes off down the sidewalk.
John barely has time to roll his eyes in annoyance before he’s jogging after him, one hand raised to tug his beanie more snugly over his ears as he weaves between the thin crowd of evening pedestrians. Sherlock can move fast, but John can move faster, eventually catching up with him on the edge of one of London’s inner city parks. Sherlock comes to a standing still under the shade of a close by tree, giving John the chance to catch his breath while his eyes search around what he can see of the park in the dim light cast by the street lamps.
“You are, of course, not at all obliged to follow me,” Sherlock points out, “Your assistance would be rather convenient, however.”
He pauses, throws a glance at him over his shoulder and grins, all teeth and fangs and an excited sparkle to his eye. “Could be dangerous.”
John isn’t paying attention to the grin, but rather the words coming out of it. He had originally been under the impression that Sherlock was dawdling, stalling, somehow working to shake John off, but it’s evident now that he’s got work on his mind, where the business is killing this blasted demon.
“He’s here, then?” He asks, shifting uncomfortably under the gaze of that grin until Sherlock looks away, eyes cast out towards the apparent nothingness again.
“Yes,” he responds simply at first, pausing to mull over his own thoughts. “Yes, he... He’ll be attracted to the water in the lake, it’s closer than the Thames.”
“So he’s, what, a water nymph?” John wishes he’d brought a weapon of some kind, but he’s bitterly reminded that crossbow isn’t in his possession anyway, and turns to digging around his pockets for something useful.
Sherlock laughs dryly. “Hardly. You can’t honestly say you hadn’t picked up on that? Everyone has their attractions, their weaknesses... The demon possessing Mr Rupert Murphy has a chemistry with water, obviously. The night we met, he had been fleeing to a waterfront warehouse because he would have been most comfortable and able to fight there. Had you not questioned his intentions with the murders? Why drowning, of all things?”
“Got it,” John answers, his tone hard and sharp. “Whatever you’re planning, I hope you’ve got a weapon of some kind, because you’ve stripped me of my own.”
“I’m perfectly prepared,” Sherlock assures coolly.
Suddenly Sherlock’s head turns, his attention on an unseen figure in the distance towards a boat shed by the lake. John hadn’t heard or seen anything, but his nostrils are abruptly overcome with the strong scent of the demon he’d been chasing days prior.
Sherlock speaks at a whisper, “You sense him?”
Sherlock takes a moment to prepare himself, taking a deep breath and adjusting his stance towards the shed they both seem to have locked onto. For the while they’ve been standing here, it doesn’t feel as if they’ve made much progress to getting anywhere near the demon, and for a moment John wonders if he’s just having his patience tested.
He lifts a hand to rub at his eyes as he takes a breath and spits, “Do you even know what you’re doing?” But as he drops his hand, view no longer obscured, he finds himself alone.
He turns on his heel to get a full view of the space around him, but Sherlock is nowhere to be seen. He whispers a cuss to himself and lunges forward, figuring that the only place he would have gone is towards their prey.
He follows his nose, the scent easily recognisable without the obstructions of industrial oils and coals down like those in the waterfront factory. He runs swiftly, although he feels a sense of restriction in his regular human body, wrapped up in his sweater and his coat with all his energy and adrenaline compacted inside a man’s skin. He risks a glance at the clouded sky, the light of the crescent moon pathetically glowing from behind the dark covers. Just a few more days and he’ll be out soon enough.
Finally he forces himself to slow and tread lighter, moving stealthily around the wall of the shed to a jetty opening out onto the lake, making sure to keep himself shadowed and hidden from the demon he still can’t see.
As he leans against the fence lining the outside of the shed, he feels a pressure against his back and another suddenly closing over his mouth. He’s prepared to lash out, attack, but he hears a quiet hush next to his ear and takes in the faint, dull scent of the vampire behind him. Once Sherlock is sure John won’t make a sound, he moves his hand away from the other’s mouth, but keeps his head close to whisper.
“Distract him, lure him out,” he instructs, causing John to immediately scoff in response.
“I’m not -”
“Quickly!” All too suddenly, Sherlock has grabbed at the top of one of the wooden planks of the fence, tugging forward and ripping it from its place with a surprising amount of strength. The second the wood is splintered away, John is shoved through the gap, left out in the open for a demon to find.
He stumbles forward and catches the scent to his right. He turns quickly, losing sight of Sherlock already and finding himself staring at a familiar gruff face lurking in the shadows. The shell of the man the demon has possessed, Rupert Murphy, smirks at him, waggles his fingers like he’s preparing to draw a non-existent gun and shifts his footing into a position of defence.
“Left your little bow at home, have you?”
“Left your brains at home, have you?” John counters sharply, immediately falling back into an offensive stance and making a grab for a weapon that isn’t there. He bites down hard on the inside of his cheek and tries not to make his folly known, but his fumbling is already noticed by the demon, who steps forward into the lamp light to get closer and closer.
“This isn’t like you, Doctor,” the demon taunts, grinning wider now as they begin to circle one another, stepping clumsily through the fog that creeps up from the edge of the lake and laps at their feet. “Coming here so vulnerable, all defenceless and shakin’ like an old hag.”
“Your over-confidence is charming,” he mocks, trying his best to sound confident himself but struggling when he looks to the corner of his eyes and finds... nothing. Where an earth had the bloody vampire gone? Was this his plan all along, to strip him of his defences and throw him in an enclosed space with a homicidal demon?
Before he has time to think any worse of Sherlock Holmes, the vampire in question appears behind Murphy, quite literally. John is frozen for a second at the sight of Sherlock literally forming from a heap of black smoke that rises from the fog at their feet. John has no time to ponder it before Sherlock has shouted at him, “The silver! I need the silver!” and John silently thanks his experience with quickly unsheathing his weapons in aiding him with sliding the almost-forgotten silver letter opener from his case hidden in his breast pocket. He flings it at the vampire who catches it easily, although John can see his physical wince from his gloved hand coming into contact with the metal.
Although moving quickly, the fuss has caught the attention of Murphy who turns to face Sherlock, ready to attack. With one swift movement that John barely catches, Sherlock has pulled a long vial from his coat pocket, popped the stopper and stuck the flimsy silver blade inside. He pauses for barely a second before pulling it out, slashing at Murphy as he lunges towards the vampire and in turn having his neck cut by the blunt and dripping blade. Sherlock doesn’t pause to step forward and push the little knife up into Murphy’s gut, the silver piercing through his clothes and flesh from the sheer force of Sherlock’s arm.
John watches in awe from a few feet away, not having moved since throwing Sherlock the seemingly useless weapon. The cuts caused by the blade seem to glow, golden light bursting from within the wounds while Murphy’s black demonic eyes widen and shine bright as he gasps out in pain. Sherlock twists his wrist, jerks the knife again before finally pulling it out and letting the body crumple to the ground with a lazy force that sends the fog curling away.
Slowly and cautiously, John steps closer, examining the body laying on the ground before him. The wounds don’t glow as bright, but the golden light seems to be eating at the flesh, sizzling and crawling across the face stuck in an expression of horror and pain.
“That was -”
“Holy water, yes,” Sherlock interrupts. He stares at the twitching corpse for only a second longer before suddenly hissing and flinging the silver aside as if it were burning hot in his hands. He turns away but doesn’t walk far, only takes a few steps to move away from the body on the ground.
He keeps his head down as he fiddles with the bottle of holy water in his hands, jamming the stopper back in and turning it over between his fingers. “Go on,” he says after a moment, eventually turning to look back at John. “What you normally do? You do loot these things when given the chance, is that correct?”
John’s sure he’s turned a shade of red but he decides against acknowledging it. He had been prepared to ignore his poor man’s custom for the sake of his honour and dignity, but since it turns out Sherlock seems to know anyway, he might as well go for the gold. Still slightly pink in the cheeks, he kneels down by the corpse and digs around the inside pockets, pleased to find a small coin purse, a brass pocket watch and a pen knife that won’t be entirely useless to him.
“That’s all I need,” he lies, pocketing the light loot and standing back.
Sherlock nods, although John is sure he doesn’t quite believe him. Instead of speaking up, he turns back and undoes the bottle of holy water once more, this time much more carefully, and turns it upside down over the body. Once the vial is emptied, the liquid creeps over the corpse, eating as it goes to turn the demon to dust amongst the grass.
He turns away without a word and starts back towards the gap in the fence. John assumes that means a closed deal, the battle is done, so he skips around the disintegrating evidence to follow the vampire back to the London streets.
Sherlock walks wordlessly, not even acknowledging John as he does. John wouldn’t be concerned about this, in fact he prefers it, if it weren’t for the strained look on the vampire’s face which resembles something between a confused frown and a pained grimace.
“Are you alright?” he finds himself asking, his doctor instincts taking over those which claim he and Sherlock should be racial enemies.
“Splash-back,” Sherlock says simply, and that’s when John sees a small but serious rash on Sherlock’s neck, no doubt from a few flying drops of the holy water. “Why are you following me?”
“Well, you waited for me,” John scoffs, “And you still have my possessions.” He pauses for a moment, glances down at their feet where he has to take two steps to match up with Sherlock’s single stride, then looks back at the vampire’s face. “I know how to treat that kind of burn, you know. If we can agree on some sort of exchange.”
Sherlock smiles dryly but doesn’t directly respond. He stays mostly quiet on the walk back to his Baker street lodgings and leaves the door open once he steps inside, which John takes as an invitation. Sherlock sheds his coat as he takes to the stairs, dropping it over the banister once he’s free of its restraint. The second they set foot on the landing, Molly has come rushing to him, all while eyeing John nervously from where he stands behind her employer.
“Is all well? Can I get you anything?”
“A pot of coffee, as soon as you’re able. But first I need you to send a telegram to Scotland Yard, inquire after Detective Inspector Lestrade. Tell him I’ve taken care of the dry-land drownings.”
Sherlock sounds breathless as he speaks, despite his claims for not needing oxygen to function. Molly appears to notice it, but doesn’t say anything about it and instead nods in understand and scurries past to get on with her duties. When Sherlock turns to make his way down the hall, John gets a proper look at the size of the rash on his neck, the blistering red already creeping down past his collar as well as up against his jaw.
“I don’t know much about vampire biology,” John hums as he follows Sherlock down the hall, “but I’d say that needs immediate attention. If you fetch my kit, I can -”
“I am perfectly capable of dealing with a measly drop of holy water,” Sherlock spits, the good humour and dry smile gone and replaced with a cold stare. John subconsciously sways back, giving Sherlock a little extra space as the vampire runs his fingers through his hair and tries to straighten himself out. “The maid can retrieve your equipment upon her return. All I ask of you now is to give me some privacy.”
He stops at the end of the hall and ducks into a room at the very end, the door of which slamming shut the moment he’s inside. John lingers outside for a minute before giving up and stomping back to the sitting room to await Molly’s return. He only has to sit for a few minutes, staring around the room and taking in his surroundings while he waits.
It’s obvious now that what he had assumed to be some kind of manor is just a central London flat, but in John’s defense, it is built and decorated beautifully. Although most of it is shrouded in darkness, with thick curtains lining walls so that John can’t even tell if there are windows behind them. For the short time he’s spent inside, it’s like the candles are always burning, which gives the rooms an odd kind of warmth to make up for the darkness. The wallpaper is distracting but mostly covered in paintings and wall hangings, although some of which aren’t even framed and look as if they’ve been attached to the wall with a half hearted energy, like he doesn’t even care if anybody will see them.
There is a large mirror hanging over the fireplace in the sitting room John resides in, which he gets up to examine closer after a moment or two of simply staring at it. He’s heard many rumours and myths of vampires, about their habits and their abilities, their strengths and weaknesses. So much of it had sounded rather absurd at the time - men who fed off the blood of others to survive, couldn’t walk into the sunlight and turned into a variety of nocturnal animals at will?
Although, after his... accident, which sent him home from Afghanistan, he finds those sorts of things a little easier to believe. And after all, he had just witnessed Sherlock appearing and disappearing into smoke a matter of minutes ago. Perhaps he can turn into a bat if he wants, perhaps he can’t meet the sunlight or see his own reflection. That only makes John wonder more, why litter his home with these useless reflective decorations? He supposes that it has succeeded in making the room appear larger...
He takes a moment to make the most of a clean reflective surface to check in on himself, because god knows his small dusty mirror at home isn’t doing much good. He can’t even bring himself to smile, alone in a room like this, especially when he looks like such filth. It’s one thing to know that he lives like a homeless man under a roof, but to look like it as well? John rubs at the bags under his eyes and pushes at the growing hair poking out from underneath his beanie, before giving up and tugging the blasted thing off his head. He scratches behind his ears, presses his palms against his temples and sighs, knowing there’s little he can do about his state in a stranger’s home.
John finally pulls himself away when he hears the front door open and footsteps hurrying upon the stair. He turns to face the doorway, clutching his beanie in both hands and waits until Molly appears in the doorway with an exhausted smile. He tries his hard to respond with one in turn, but it’s difficult for it to reach his eyes.
There is a moment of hesitation as she steps into the room, in which John can see her gaze fall over his ears. She doesn’t look horrified or afraid, to John’s surprise, but leaning towards just a little shocked. To help things along, John quickly tugs his beanie back over his head, the action snapping the maid from her trance to carry on shedding her hooded coat and hanging it on a hook by the doorway to the kitchen.
“Are you staying for coffee, sir?” She asks quickly with an apologetic smile for the delay.
John simply shakes his head. “No, I’m afraid, but thank you. Mr Holmes says for you to fetch my things so I can be out of your hair, now,” he informs her, “He has just a few items in his possession; my crossbow and my satchel. It’s rather large, you may have...”
“Yes, yes I know where it is.” She nods quickly and turns back, heading for the hallway this time and beckoning him to follow her. “He wouldn’t let me see, but he told me you would come asking and that I was to return them to you today.”
John frowns to himself as they pass the door which Sherlock had locked himself in earlier. They ascend the stairs together and Molly leads him to the end of another wall, then takes a key from her dress pocket to unlock another door. Before John gets to step inside, however, she holds a hand up and smiles apologetically, claiming, “I’ll ask you to wait out here; this is Sherlock’s private library.”
He reluctantly does as he’s told, knowing it’s worth it to wait when he has his bag over his shoulder and his crossbow firmly clipped to its band and slung across his back a mere few moments later. Once again fully equipped, John makes his leave as quickly as possible, barely taking a moment to thank Molly before exiting and rushing out onto the main road.
He doesn’t feel as strong a hesitation to search around for a cab this late at night, now that he’s armed yet again and close with his more important possessions. It’s not as close to morning as the last time he left Sherlock’s flat and the streets are practically bare, so he’s even less of a chance to find an early rising cab than he did compared to last time. He has no problems with walking tonight.
Although not on the chase, he feels much more content where he is now, striding through an empty city with his bow on his back and his belongings close by his side. As he breathes in the crisp night air, he decides to check his bag, even though it will be difficult to dig through without having his basement floor to spread everything out. Still, it won’t hurt just to have a poke around and make sure Sherlock hadn’t stolen anything.
The first thing he notices under the flap where a few of his vials are firmly strapped down, is that some of them have been tampered with. There is significantly less holy water and a few herb leaves have been taken, nothing crucial and only a small amount, but enough to prove that Sherlock had been digging around. That explains where a vampire had gotten holy water, at least.
The main pocket of the bag is stuffed full, much more haphazardly than John ever would, so Sherlock had struggled to return everything to its rightful place. It all appears to be there, though, so he’s not got anything to really complain about just yet. Aside from the fact that Sherlock had taken it at all, he’s beginning to cool down, now that he’s left for good, his belongings back with him and a particularly sneaky demon being burned by his hand that night. The walking across London to get home is also helping clear his head.
He pauses on the sidewalk some time around three in the morning when his hand, dug into his bag, feels something unfamiliar. He tugs out what feels like his coin purse, holding the ratty fabric in his palm and staring down at it from the light of a dimming street lamp. He’s not sure which emotion takes over faster - anger, shock or humiliation - when he feels the heavy weight of the bag and realises without having to look inside that Sherlock has stocked him up.
Just to be sure, he opens it up, eyes nearly popping out of his skull when he comes face to face with a handful of sovereigns all clinking together in his coin purse.
He drops the pouch back into his bag and tries to push it from his mind as he speeds up to get home as quickly as possible. It’s one thing to take charity, but to have it forced upon him when he hasn’t asked for it, by someone he’s beginning to loathe? He feels like this is just one more thing Sherlock can hold over his head. John hopes that the rest of the walk home will cool the burning that rises up his neck and cheeks.
Chapter 3: You're the One Who Followed the Child
so sorry these updates are so few and far between! but i hope you're still enjoying this.
mixtape still available for downloadhere
The basement is eerily quiet when John returns home, so he makes the most of the silence by getting a few hours of much-needed sleep. It doesn’t last too long though, for he’s awoken from his restless nap some time in the middle of the day by the footsteps of other tenants on the floors above, mixed with the noises of London life outside. Groggily he rises, stumbles from bed and saunters into the main room of his flat, where he makes a bee-line for the stove in the corner of the room. He lights one of the stove tops and uses the flame to light a cigarette dug from the tin inside his jacket which slumps over the counter top from where he’d left it the night before. Once the cigarette is between his lips and his hands have gotten a few moments of warmth from the naked flame, he switches the stove off, crosses the room to his sofa and collapses into it, where he stays for most of the day.
Eventually he does sit up and reach for his satchel, taking only a few minutes to poke around inside while his stuffed coin purse remains ignored on the counter with his coat. He pulls a folded map from the inside of his bag and lays it out on his lap, takes his time to mark off Murphy’s death and, just for good measure, pencils in Sherlock’s home address. He won’t be needing or wanting to visit, but it will be good to know the home base location of a vampire, should any suspicion arise that requires the vampire be slain.
Until then, however, he sticks to simple cases in the newspaper, circling and drawing the lines between related articles and linking as much as he can without yet leaving the flat. But as the warm afternoon sun falls upon the street outside, filtering the yellow light through the basement windows, John’s itch to get up and move takes over and forces him up from the sofa to dress and prepare for an outing.
While he still recovers from the last demon hunt, John knows he can’t push himself too much. He’s running off a mere few hours of sleep and too little food, as his stomach does loudly to remind him. So he spends most of the evening out searching for a decent place for dinner, deciding now that he might as well use the money Sherlock dumped on him. Charity or not, he needs it, and he’s not going to throw away silver in place of a good meal. His pride’s not that fragile.
After some hot pie and mash and a pint and a half of ale, John feels noticabley better. The food stirs up a warmth and fullness in him which helps any pains over the past couple of days go away, and he finds an unfamiliar comfort in having his coin purse still fairly heavy after treating himself to something edible. Needless to say, when he returns to his flat, he’s feeling much more content with himself, even though he hasn’t followed up on any leads or discovered anything new. Some days it just feels right to rest.
He sleeps much easier that night, curled up on his mattress with a stake of wood hidden beneath his pillow.
He uses the money sparingly, keeping it safe amongst all his belongings and forcing himself not to think about it for most of the day. His mind is usually focused on the hunt - now that he has another lead, he spends long days investigating from afar and late evenings following the trail he’s dug up from newspapers and reports.
After a week, he does manage to catch the trouble maker, right in the act of tinkering with the water pipes outside of a small restaurant in central London. It does turn out to be a demon, who has a habit in fiddling with the gas and water of large residencies and public buildings so he can watch the havoc slowly unfold later on. John kills him quickly and reaps the spoils of cash, his jacket, waistcoat and a monocle that looks like it’s worth a few. He disposes of the body quickly and carries on as if nothing had ever happened.
It’s two days after slaying the cheeky pipe meddler that John arrives home to find, not something missing, but something new amidst the mess on his floor. When he comes to his building and steps inside the foyer, he’s immediately alarmed by the presence of his land lord knelt down by the bottom of the stairs, casually fixing the wobbling banister and paying no mind to the fact that John’s basement door is slightly ajar.
“You got a visitor,” the man says to him, barely turning away from his work to properly greet his tenant. “Some rich pompous asking for you. Didn’t seem like trouble so I let him in.”
John swallows thickly and makes a quick start for his door, taking the steps down two at a time and stopping still when he reaches his threshold. Sat in the middle of his floor, surrounded by papers and most of John’s possessions, is the vampire John was doing so well to avoid. He sits cross-legged with his head bowed, looking down at the pages of a large book, the contents of which covers many of the ancient myths and legends still talked about today.
As soon as feeling returns to his limbs, John slams his bag down on the counter by the door and tugs harshly at his own coat to get it off. Sherlock barely blinks. When John approaches him, hands in fists by his side, he does look up slowly, but only because John has blocked the light from the candle resting atop the arm chair of John’s sofa.
“What are you doing here?” John demands, determined to hold his ground until Sherlock has either explained himself or left without a fuss. Instead of either of those, the vampire simply tilts his head and smiles up at John, before he sets the book aside so he can rise to his feet.
“I require your assistance,” he states without a single note of hesitation or questioning to his tone. He’s already taken a step towards the door before finishing his sentence, no doubt expecting John to follow yet again. “Not quite as exciting as a demon hunt, I admit. Although,” he pauses and looks over his shoulder to grin down at John, “Surely just hanging around is exciting enough, for you.”
“I’ve got something on,” John answers honestly, making sure he sounds firm enough. But Sherlock has already turned back to the door, a hand waving in a beckoning gesture without even considering John’s other arrangements.
John does let his curiosity get the better of him, but being in his own home, he takes the opportunity to prepare himself first. As Sherlock steps back over the threshold and begins up the basement steps, John lingers back to swipe up his satchel, being sure to tuck his new addition to the kit - a wooden stake - just under the bag’s flap. He scoops up his coat from the counter and lastly grabs his revolver from where it remains hidden under the base of his couch. He hasn’t had as steady a hand with it since Afghanistan, but he’s kept it clean just in case, and it’s much lighter than his crossbow to carry around.
“Your will is so easy to bend,” the vampire muses as they step out onto the dimming street outside. The lamps have already been lit and a smile has already returned to Sherlock’s face, although it twists slightly to become more of a smirk as John skips a step to catch up with him. “You also say ‘no’ but can never seem to abide by it.”
“I’m just keeping an eye on you,” John huffs, quite truthfully too. It’s better this way, to be sure Sherlock isn’t out hurting anyone by keeping close at his side.
“And what would you do if I decided to be wicked?” Sherlock asks. “You are a rather logical man when it comes to your hunting, but I’m afraid that when you are thrown into danger without a previously-made plan, you seem to act before you think.”
Sherlock moves too quickly and too swiftly for John to foresee it, but all he does shift his footwork and suddenly the vampire is behind him, both hands clasped tightly around John’s forearms and holding him firmly in place. John freezes, ready to swing around and attack, but for reasons he’s not quite certain of, he hesitates to consider Sherlock’s words. If he attacked right away, then surely Sherlock could fight back in self defence and a brawl would begin on the street with at least a dozen or so witnesses. When he considers it, he also realises that Sherlock isn’t hurting him, but merely holding him back from moving.
Another second passes slowly before one of Sherlock’s hands - still holding firm - runs down John’s left arm, stopping at his wrist where his hand is buried under the flap of his satchel. John can hear him hum shortly under his breath, a small noise of triumph as he squeezes John’s wrist and tugs his hand out from his bag, exposing the wooden stake John clutches.
“You base your assumption from past experiences that you would beat me in a fight. What you fail to consider is that I am much stronger than anything you have faced before.” Sherlock releases a quiet sigh and twists John’s wrist just slightly enough to falter his grip, the stake falling to the ground and clinking against the cobblestone. “It would be wise to stop with your stupid games and follow quietly, so we can stop with these pesky interruptions.”
Sherlock releases him as easily as he had grabbed him, stepping past and continuing on his way. John remains where he is, stunned for a moment, and almost considers leaving the stake where it is on the ground. He quickly shakes that thought from his head and swipes up the battered piece of wood to shove it back into his bag, although this time he keeps his hands away from it.
“Alright,” he finally responds as he catches up to Sherlock’s side. “Now that’s all out of the way, care to share with me where we’re going, and what exactly you need help with?”
“I would rather not,” Sherlock answers, yet again humming to himself as he slows his pace.
John waits for him to continue, but as long as Sherlock remains silent, John’s frown grows a little deeper. He stops before Sherlock turns into an alleyway, making the daring move of reaching out and grabbing a fistful of the other’s sleeve.
Sherlock stops and turns, staring down at John for only a second or two before his gaze breaks. “I would rather not because you would probably go and attack me again, and going through all that is so frightfully tedious. So either I keep quiet, or you promise to sit still. And I know that’s not a promise you’re willing to make.”
John keeps quiet because they both know Sherlock’s words are true. He lets go of his sleeve, but still hesitates to walking down the alley with him. There aren’t any police officers in sight in case of an altercation, and even if there were, John has a feeling that they would be on Sherlock’s side. He’s never before had to deal with an enemy who has friends at the Yard.
“Are you coming?” Sherlock calls without turning his head. A few more steps and he’ll have nearly disappeared into the darkness, so John decides it will be best to catch up, jogging until he’s once again at his side, just so he can continue to keep an eye on him.
He eventually finds the vampire standing still, almost leaning his entire weight on the wall. John stays close, half behind him, and tries to locate where Sherlock’s line of vision is directed.
As he opens his mouth to ask, Sherlock lifts a long, pale finger to his own lips to signify silence, then closes his eyes a second longer than a blink.
“There is a thief,” he whispers, his voice lower and rougher while he does, so John would barely be able to hear him if it weren’t for his sensitive ears. After a beat, Sherlock continues, “He has been frequenting these line of shops, rather stupidly. But even more so, the police still haven’t captured him.”
“Is everything... alright?” John finds himself asking, before he can really figure out why. Everything has suddenly gone so still, so quiet, like the rest of the world has stopped existing beyond the lengthy alleyway. The smirk had disappeared too suddenly from Sherlock’s face and John can feel a chill as they stand in the silence.
Sherlock continues, “Any minute now, the thief will emerge from this cellar door.” He gestures vaguely to the set of doors a few yards ahead of him, currently rusty and untouched. “We are going to catch him. I’m sure the Yard won’t mind scratching his name from their list - I don’t think they really need to know what happened to him, just that he’s no longer a bother to the public.”
The chills run another lap down John’s spine and he sways ever so slightly to distance himself from the vampire. “What am I doing here?” He finally asks, the uncertainty noticeable in his tone.
“You are going to be doing the catching, and I am going to be dealing with the garbage.”
It takes barely a second to sink in, but as it registers to John what Sherlock means, he takes a proper step away and digs his hand back into his satchel. Sherlock doesn’t move to stop him this time, but rather watches John’s movements closely before locking their gaze together.
“Thief or no thief, I can’t let you do that,” John whispers furiously, grasping at his stake and tugging it from his pack. “This isn’t what I do - I don’t go chasing after burglars then hold them down for you to wet your lips.” It sickens him just to say it, but he holds himself steady, half of him wondering why Sherlock hasn’t stood from the wall to kick the stake away yet.
“I will not lie to you, John, for that will get us nowhere.” He does stand eventually, shifting his weight to his own feet rather than the brickwork beside him, but he makes no move to get closer to the man beside him. “This is not some game of me dodging between the legs of Scotland Yard to catch their criminals before they do. This is survival, plain and simple. Today I am weak, John. It takes no energy to wear a grin and sneak about in alleyways, but it takes a tremendous amount to fight and capture a man who has terrorized a street and its merchants for weeks. That is why I need you to do both me and London a favour of justice.”
John breathes sharply through his nose, letting the words I am weak play over in his mind. Sherlock wasn’t joking when he said it took no energy to grin, bluffing his strength to John on the open street. If he wanted, John could kill him right here without a fuss. It’s almost as if Sherlock had planned on it by bringing him down to such a secluded place, flaunting his weakness in front of a sturdy stake. He shifts his stance and bites down on his grin, but Sherlock interrupts him again before he’s able to really put his thoughts into action.
“I knew you would take that as an invitation, see, which is why I was adverse to telling you before we got here.” Sherlock nearly laughs.
“So why are you telling me now? Why put yourself in danger unless it’s a trap?”
John hates Sherlock even more for the grin that widens on his face. “Good, see, you’re thinking before you act.” He sways ever so slightly before resting a hand on the wall so he can straighten himself out. “I’m telling you now because I know I am in no danger. Not from you. You’re a man of honour and good will - You will always hold your word and fill your debts.”
“I have no debt to you,” John growls low in his throat, his hand squeezing tighter around the stake. He’s done well to keep his composure, but can’t help baring his teeth when Sherlock has the nerve the laugh at him.
“No debt, you say.” He pushes himself from the wall, and in a second, has John pinned to the one opposite. The stake is still held tight and John could easily maneuver out to kill him now, but his curiosity overtakes yet again to hear out what Sherlock is trying to say.
“When we met, we were rather inconvenienced by a demon in a riverside warehouse. In the dark, you manage to shoot your blasted crossbow to my shoulder, throwing me off course from capturing and killing the bastard. Of course, to you at least, I was merely wasted ammo. When he saw us together he must have assumed there was some form of partnership between us, and he went for you in order to distract me. I don’t know why it worked, considering I didn’t even know you.”
John’s eyes widen as Sherlock continues, his hand beginning to shake as he listens, as he realises what this means.
“If I hadn’t knocked you out and stowed you away from the fight, you would surely be dead by now. I don’t know why I even bothered to help you back to my home, to let you rest and heal, other than I thought it would be fun if anything to have something owe a life debt to me, to have you at my beck and call.”
His own words have him aggravated and John can feel Sherlock’s grip on his shoulders tightening the more he speaks, he can see his fangs protruding as he growls and can even smell the draculin on his breath as he spits.
“I should have drained you dry and left you there, unless you can show me that you’re worth keeping around.”
The wood between John’s fingers drops to the ground, this time of his own accord. The wood hitting the stone echoes down the alley, and slowly but surely, Sherlock has released John from his hold by the time they’re met with silence yet again.
“I owe you my life,” John murmurs, at first not realising that he’s said this aloud. Sherlock’s face doesn’t change, but he slowly begins to calm as he rests himself against the wall again. “I -” John pauses, scrunching his face up and dropping his satchel from his shoulder before forcing himself to continue, “I... apologise,” he says like the words leave a bitter taste in his mouth. “If I had known what you did I wouldn’t have made such attacks. But that doesn’t mean I can just -”
“If you don’t run this thief down, then you owe it to me to offer yourself up for a feast. If you choose neither, you will surely be leaving me to die here.”
John turns to glare at him and tries to ignore the hint of smugness in Sherlock’s eyes. “Very well,” he mutters, before he drops to his knees to dig through his pack for something more suitable for a mortal law-breaker.
The thief, as it turns out, fights very differently to demons.
The second he steps out from where Sherlock had predicted, he spots John waiting for him and he doesn’t hesitate to attack. The tattered bag filled with his loot drops to the ground and suddenly there are fists flying towards John’s head and shoulders, giving him barely a moment to register the situation before he’s jumped back with his dagger grasped tightly in one hand. There’s no time for a proper strategy; the thief isn’t tricky or cunning like a demon would be, in fact he seems to have no fighting experience whatsoever. His punches are sloppy and random and it’s difficult for John to predict what exactly he’s going to do next, or what he’s even planning on gaining from this.
Unsurprisingly, Sherlock seems to have disappeared, but John can guess that he’s the meandering dab of black smoke amidst the fog shrouded around a shadow near the door where the thief had come out. But John doesn’t have the chance to consider Sherlock’s whereabouts or his means of helping him, not with the lunatic grunting and sweating over him as he backs John against a wall.
Finally the man stumbles, perhaps to catch his breath, and John takes the opportunity to reach up and grab his wrist in the midst of a slower punch being thrown. He twists himself around, still holding onto his arm tightly to shove his elbow into his throat, to which a wheeze and gasp follows immediately after. The thief falters and doubles over, but before John has a chance to swing his knife, he hears Sherlock call to him, his voice echoed between the walls of the alley.
“Don’t kill him!”
Without a moment of hesitation, he gives the thief a push to spin him around, then kicks out his legs to push him to the ground. He kneels on the backs of his thighs and keeps his arm twisted around against his back to hold him spluttering against the cold, dirty ground.
“Very nice technique,” Sherlock comments, his voice low and without an echo as he speaks more quietly, this time by John’s side where he can be seen. He slowly kneels down, then reaches out to cover John’s hand with his own. His fingers slip between the gaps in John’s, pushing his hand away and holding tightly to the thief’s wrist, then glances at John before nodding away. John eventually understands the silent command and stands, leaving the stranger on the ground to the mercy of vampire.
When Sherlock tightens his grip and crawls over the top of him, head bowed and lips close to his skin, the thief realises that he’s not being taken in by the law. He realises his life is in danger and John can see it in the way he visibly shakes, he can hear it in the sharp intake of breath and the shaking of his voice. “Wh-Who are you?” He asks at first, but interrupts himself as he sobs, “What are you doing?”
John turns around to collect his satchel from the ground, not at all wanting to see what is about to happen. With his back turned, he can hear the change in the thief’s breathing as Sherlock covers his mouth, then as Sherlock leans closer, the rustle of his clothing as the man beneath him struggles.
John plans to keep his back turned, but he hears a sudden groan of pain, one that sounds like it’s coming from the vampire rather than his victim. He turns quickly to see Sherlock’s teeth clenched, his eyes shut tight and his hand gripping the thief’s wrist tightly. There’s a crunch of bone in the man’s hand when Sherlock pulls too tight, causing the thief to gasp out in pain, in turn allowing Sherlock to swing both his hands back into the air. John’s brow furrows in confusion as he sees a hefty amount of blood dripping from the centre of Sherlock’s palm, but he only has a second or two to look before Sherlock has swooped down to bite and tear viciously at the skin on the man’s neck. Blood sprays and John flinches, startled at the angered attack, but soon forces himself to relax as Sherlock leans down to cover the wound from John’s vision while he drinks.
The thief falls silent and his body eventually goes limp. Sherlock remains hunched over him, his shoulder tense and his forehead pressed against the back of his victim’s skull as he lolls his head aside. John knows it’s now finished with and he rushes forward, more so out of curiosity than anything else.
He grabs Sherlock by his forearm and pulls him easily to his feet, then snatches up his hand to examine the bleeding. “What is that?” he questions, trying to pull the skin taut to see through the dripping of blackened red, but Sherlock snarls and pulls his hand back.
“He bit me,” he snaps. “He has some form of dentures. Old and cheap, wooden by the looks of things.”
“Wooden dentures?” John repeats, taking a deep breath. “Of all the... Alright, we need to get you back home to clean that and get it out of your skin.”
“Oh, thank you for your wisdom, I would never have been able to figure that out for myself,” Sherlock drawls sarcastically, before straightening himself up as best he can with only one hand. He pulls the scarf around his neck loose and uses it to wipe the blood down from his mouth and jaw, then throws it on the ground to where it falls across the victim’s face. “Let’s just go, I have people who can clean this up for me.”
John frowns, but he decides not to ask and instead allows Sherlock to lead them back to Baker Street in silence.
Aside from treating the wound of a man he would rather watch suffer, it’s bizarre enough being in a bathroom of such a considerable size. His basement flat contains no such thing, just a kitchen sink running dirty water and a small mirror for his shaving, but Sherlock’s is something anachronistic to his experiences. Taking up most of the space is a large tub for bathing, and there is a spacious countertop with a sink and cabinet. The most extravagant feature of the room is the tall mirror on the wall, mounted above the sink in front of them. John would normally enjoy taking the time to admire the detail of the frame, the art of it, but aside from Sherlock’s hand, he’s too creeped out by the fact that there is only one reflection despite there being two men in the room.
Sherlock remains silent as he leans his back against the counter and allows John to turn and treat his hand in John’s own. The wood has finally been removed and, now that the blood is cleaned away, John can inspect for any last splinters.
He tries to avoid glancing up and to simply focus on the sore in front of him, but he can’t shake Sherlock’s stupid smug little smile from his peripheries. Finally he takes a deep breath and lowers the hand from his view, looking up at him with a stern glare.
“What?” Sherlock asks in response.
John shakes his head and returns to the palm, but Sherlock’s smile grows wider. Eventually, he does speak up.
“You were so eager,” he murmurs, stopping John dead in his movements again.
“Eager to what?” he asks impatiently and without a single drop of good humour in his voice.
“To get back here. To look after me.” Sherlock flashes a grin.
“Listen,” John grumbles, lowering his head again, “I’m only doing this so we can be even and finally leave one another alone. One I repay this stupid debt we can be out of each other’s hair once and for all.”
“Oh, come now,” Sherlock tuts, “You don’t think a measly tooth would be considered even, would you? Surely not. This is hardly what I’d call a life or death situation.”
He has the nerve to laugh.
John’s eyes narrow, but this time he forces himself to keep his head down until the job is finished. He reaches past Sherlock to the bandages resting on the counter and begins to roughly bound up his hand, wondering if he can do this while ignoring Sherlock’s presence.
Sherlock pulls his hand a little closer to himself to shy away from the touches, but John persists to get the bandage around and simply moves in closer every time Sherlock pulls back. Eventually John tapes it firmly closed and throws the rest of the bandages down, then looks up to glare at Sherlock properly.
“I’m not your little pet, alright?” He snaps. “I’m not doing this because I want to. I’m doing this because I have to, so you can at least co-operate.”
“Ugh, alright.” Sherlock rolls his eyes before lowering them to inspect the bandages. “What now?”
“That’s all I can do. I don’t know much about vampires and your.. I don’t know, your biology I suppose. But surely that will heal up soon. You do seem more advanced than humans when it comes to your physicality.”
“Oh, and in many more ways than that, I can assure you.” He finally lowers his hand and rests it against the counter top, smiling once more. “It should be perfectly alright by next nightfall. We have particularly restorative slumbers, I can assure you.”
“Yes, yes,” John mumbles, waving a hand in dismissal. “I’m sure you do, how very nice for you. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
He pushes Sherlock gently aside so he can reach the basin and turns the water on to wash the blood away from his hands. He finds himself watching as it spins around the plughole and enters the drain, the blackened blood from Sherlock’s veins hypnotising to watch in contrast to all the other brighter shades he’s ever seen. When he eventually turns the tap off, he looks up to find Sherlock still standing and watching him closely.
“Does it interest you? How I’m different?” He asks, innocently enough, for once without any real trace of an ulterior motive or malicious intent.
But John answers easily, “No,” despite the blatant lie and Sherlock’s probable ability to see past it.
“I have been taking notes of things, from what I’ve read and what I’ve noticed myself. About my race. If you ever care to look at it, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to feed a curious mind.” He speaks quietly and peculiarly softly as he looks down to watch John’s hands and the water dripping off them. “I know I myself am rather fascinated with the... differences, I suppose, in my race from others, and how we seem to all live in such harmony. Half the humans out there don’t even realise we exist.”
John backpedals a moment to repeat, “Harmony?” but it comes out much less bitterly than he’d intended.
Sherlock nods slowly but he keeps his eyes on John’s hands. His undamaged, unbandaged one reaches out to touch him, hold his palm firmly so he can turn it over and examine his fingers and the stories they have to tell. “It’s rather terrifying, actually, to see how you are so... similar to them. Of course you are bitter and tired, but so much of your past life as a mortal human shines through. You are a wolf within and yet you appear so human.”
John twitches uncomfortably, eventually tugging his hand from the grip to bring it back to his side. He opens his mouth to speak, but Sherlock continues.
“It’s terrifying because it goes against so much of what I’ve learned. Is my past research circumstantial? Is it useless? Or are you just special?”
John remains silent.
“Probably not. Perhaps your biggest difference is that you’re still here, where you don’t want to be, that you can still bear it.”
He tries to smile but it falls immediately. As he speaks, his voice gets lower and John can barely hear him, until Sherlock has to physically lean closer to get his words out. But now as he leans, as he opens his mouth, no more words come. There’s a moment of silence that’s almost peaceful, the two of them standing so close and somehow so at ease with it, with all of John’s fighting instincts being pushed aside to listen and wait.
John is determined to stand his ground, but in the end, all it takes is a tiny twitch from one of his ears to hear the subtle little slick of Sherlock’s fangs protruding from his gums for John to realise what is about to happen and to act quickly enough. His immediate reaction is to push him away, but his own strength surprises him and Sherlock is thrown back against the wall with a crash.
Both of them are suddenly on high alert once more. John makes for the door but Sherlock pushes him back, holds him firmly with one hand on his shoulder, squeezing his thumb into his collar.
“A misunderstanding,” Sherlock explains quickly, although he doesn’t look or sound apologetic in the least. All John can see is a failed plan of getting some extra lunch, masked by the attempt of a false apology so John won’t see it as a void contract and find an excuse to leave.
“I’m going home,” John mutters, shaking his head, “You can’t stop me from leaving. I may not have fulfilled your debt but I still have a right to be in my own bed at dawn.”
They stand in silence for a moment as Sherlock watches him closely. They both know he has the upper hand, that he can visit John’s dusty flat whenever he wishes and have John at his beck and call. So he stands down, at least for now in John’s eyes, and releases his grip.
“I will call upon you tomorrow or the day after, depending on my wound,” he informs him as John leaves the room. “I’ll be able to find you wherever you decide to be in the city, so I suggest you make it easier for both of us and stay home at dusk.”
“Of course,” John grumbles to himself as he stamps down the hallway, making eagerly for the front door.
Chapter 4: Attention Subscribers!
As you may have noticed, the fic hasn't been touched for some time. I've attempted several times to write a filler chapter and get things moving again, but I've had little luck. I thought all muse was lost.
However, I recently bought and read Bram Stoker's "Dracula", the story of which we all know well, but the book being one written in the form of diary entries and letters. It sparked up my muse a bit, made me want to return to the era werefic is set in and to write more about the supernatural.
I reread my notes, tried to find a thread I could latch onto and continue the story along. But my mind was still buzzing on Dracula, the story itself and of course the writing. So I came to a conclusion. To freshen up the story, rekindle a stronger writing muse and to push werefic into a direction which now has a clear ending in sight.
This year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers' Month: Write 50,000 words in 30 days self challenge, from November 1st to November 30th), I'll be rewriting werefic. Starting over, fixing up errors, straightening out some continuity issues, and finishing the damn thing. We could all tell werefic was going to be long, so hitting the 50,000 mark isn't going to be difficult.
I just hope y'all can forgive me for such a wait! I hope you still like the story enough to hold on a little longer, and I hope you find it worth it when I release the new first chapter come December. There'll be a better feel for the era, a proper insight into John's thoughts, as well as Sherlock's! There'll be a better inclusion of Mycroft, a hint at a Moriarty (without overdoing it, I promise) and I promise it'll be fun to write and fun to read. You'll feel like you're there with them, reading from John's old leather-bound journal as he documents his time in London after returning from Afghanistan.
Again, I apologise for such a delay on something as simple as a fan fiction, and I thank you all who have held on for so long. Just to let you know I've not abandoned you! You'll have your fic, a better one, soon enough.
Chapter 5: Final Notice
I am still astounded to find the amount of people who love and follow this fic, which makes it harder to continually disappoint and let you down. If you followed my tumblr closely enough over the past month you'll already know that my NaNoWriMo participation ended (started, really) in complete failure. If you're finding out for the first time, I can't begin to describe how awful I feel and how sorry I am.
I really did love this fic and am sad to see it end so early, but my heart just isn't in it anymore. I sounded so sure in my last announcement because I was so sure it would pick up, but I'm afraid that's not the case. I'm not much of a writer anymore and I can't really explain why, not to myself or to anyone else. I'm yet to find something I'm passionate enough about.
I don't really want to see this universe go, and I encourage everyone with creative ability at their fingertips to make sure it lives on! If you love the supernatural realm then try something of your own. Illustrate scenes, or write something for yourself. Keep these boys alive. There are countless bitter werewolves, snarky vampires and unwritten necromancing James Moriartys out there, you just have to bring them to life. Give them a world to explore, zombies, demons, ghosts and criminals to abolish and I'll be behind you every step of the way!
For what it's worth, I'll unlock the doors to my Google Docs documents and let you come and go as you please. There isn't much but a few thousand words unpublished, but it's better than leaving you with nothing, I suppose. Here will be the abandoned first generation of werefic with a thousand or so of an unfinished new chapter, as well as the beginning of the second installment, with about the same count.