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six days at the bottom of the ocean

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"Someday," Sherlock says, stretched out luxuriously on John's decidedly not-luxurious bed, "I'm going to be famous."

"You think?" John says, and turns the page in his textbook. He's studying. Sherlock isn't. John hasn't seen Sherlock study, ever, even though they've been friends since freshman year.

"Yes," Sherlock says, looking at him without moving his head. He's got his arms folded behind his head, and his school uniform still on, even though he keeps clothes at John's house. His tie is loosened, and the top couple of buttons of his shirt are undone. He's bone pale against John's dark pillowcase and comforter-- dark maroon and pale yellow, their school colors, four years old, now, because Mrs. Watson bought him a bedset that matched his tie the day they got his acceptance letter.

"Huh," John says. He believes him. He really does. He just isn't sure how to say it.

--

Harry doesn't know how to deal with him. Their mother says that it'll get better, easier, as time goes on; John is quiet, John is pale, John has lilac shadows under his eyes and eggplant veins like spiderwebs. John doesn't sleep, because when he does, Sherlock is in his bed with one side of his head missing and blood all over the wall behind him.

(It wasn't even that dramatic, in real life. There had been blood, but Sherlock had shown a rare disinclination to leave a mess when he put his father's pistol to his temple.)

John shakes and tries to smile for people at school, for friends that avoid him in the halls and teachers that peer at him when they think no one is looking, searching for cracks. There are fault lines in every inch of him.

--

"John," Sherlock says, and bats his hand away. "Stop."

"You're bleeding," John says patiently.

"I'm fine," and the boys' washroom door slams behind him. John looks at the bloodied paper towel between his thumb and forefinger, sighs, and throws it away.

--

When John falls asleep the night after he finds Sherlock's body, he dreams of drowning.

--

"Just go," Sherlock says. His voice is hard and flat and angry, and John stands in his doorway, bewildered. They made plans to do something tonight-- it's always 'do something', never anything concrete, because nine times out of ten, John comes over in the middle of an experiment and ends up browsing through one of Sherlock's medical textbooks.

He kind of likes it, though. He likes it more than hanging out with any of his other friends.

"What?" John says, and takes a step inside, directly defying him.

"I heard Trent tell you about that party," Sherlock says to the ceiling. "You must be sick of holing up in my bedroom all the time. Go spend time with them."

"I want to spend time with you," John says.

"You always spend time with me," Sherlock replies, too quickly, and chances a glance at him. John is looking at him, calm and steady, and Sherlock's gaze returns to the ceiling.

"For a reason," John says, and sits down at the foot of his bed.

Sherlock sighs, and says very well, but doesn't seem too terribly put out.

--

"We'll all understand someday," his mother whispers, and runs his hand over his hair, smoothing it down like she did when he was a child. He wonders if Sherlock's mother did that. He wonders if he'll ever stop wondering things like that, if he'll ever stop asking himself questions that he can never answer.