Sherlock unlocked the door to 221B, still smiling to himself. It had been far too long since his last 'outing', but tonight had almost made it worth the wait. The only real downside was how long he anticipated it taking to get the blood from under his fingernails. Stepping into the flat, the detective only made it a few steps forward before a shuffling sound at the top of the stairs caught his attention. Looking up warily at the sound of movement, he schooled himself to nonchalance before quickly trying to check his clothing as John came more clearly into view.
John. John who is supposed to be out with Stamford and Sarah; John who should not be home until at least 2am.
"Well, Sarah ended up heading home ill," John said lazily (about to get dressed for bed, only came out because I came home), "I hope your plans for the evening went better than mine did."
"Successful, as it goes. Nothing particularly interesting, though." Sherlock started walking again, shucking off his coat and jacket, leaving them over the back of his chair before making his way to the kitchen to wash his hands. This is just a minor inconvenience. He will go to bed and I can finish cleaning up. He heard John making his way down the stairs, mentally cursing the situation. Out of the corner of his eye, Sherlock watched John approach, watched as John's eyes narrowed slightly.
"What on earth were you out doing this time?" John asked, sincerity masked with a weary smile. "I certainly hope you didn't sustain more than the one injury."
"Just following a couple of leads," he said fluidly, following John's eyeline with an internal splutter of annoyance at his own incompetence, quickly mentally relaying the events of the evening, coming quickly to the conclusion that he had blood under his jawline.Turning on the water, he washed his hands, cleaning his jawline at the same time.
Hoping beyond hope that there was nothing -else- he'd missed (shouldn't have assumed John would be out, -stupid- Sherlock), he scraped what blood he could from under his fingernails before turning off the water and looking back to his flatmate.
"You look tired. Shouldn't you be in bed?"
John had followed Sherlock into the kitchen, and was looking him over, an unnecessary amount of concern in his eyes. "Your elbow too, looks like. Did you get in a fight? This is why I'm not in bed, you see. I almost was, but I knew better than to go to bed without checking on you." John shoved away from the counter and headed toward the bathroom, while Sherlock remained as he was, hoping by this point that John would get distracted by something or other. But, no such luck. "I'll get my med kit and have a look."
Sherlock sighed audibly. "That is completely unnecessary!" he called after the other, quickly taking the available time to check himself over more thoroughly, clean his hands a little better.
A doctor, why does he have to be a -damn- doctor? Sherlock turned from the sink, allowing himself a short moment of panic while John was absent. Options were severely limited; four decent choices at most. Killing John was out of the question (too many questions/actually do like the man) (three), he wasn't as stupid as most and would recognise the evidence when confronted with it (lying is out; two).
So. Run before John comes back from the bathroom, or let it unfold.
(Running was never an option.)
"No. Definitely necessary. But it wouldn't be a problem if you'd just stay out of trouble, Sherlock," John berated as he returned to the kitchen, med kit in hand. He gestured for Sherlock to sit, then paused - he'd noticed the blood was gone, and the wound he assumed was beneath it was non-existent.
"What's this, then? You don't even have a cut."
Sherlock thought for a short moment replying, eyes averted and then glancing up to John as he sat down on the offered chair, his posture straight and controlled.
"It wasn't my blood," he offered simply, watching John's eyes almost eagerly to see how long it would take for him to realise something was 'off'.
"And whose -was- it?" The moment that John realised something was amiss (although he was still delightfully clueless as to what) was as clear as if it were tattooed on the doctor's forehead - the slight raising of the eyebrows, the tensing of the jaw, the obvious attempt at a serene expression.
Sherlock sighed in thought for a moment, exaggeratedly looking up to the ceiling as if it contained answers. "Smithers, Smith, Sumners..." he mused, quite enjoying the fleeting microexpressions crossing John's face, a little more than he should.
"A Mr C H Suldari," he answered finally, looking back to John without offering further explanation.
John's hand stilled on the med kit, though the tension was rife. "Sherlock, -why- do you have 'a Mr. C. H. Suldari's' blood on your face?"
Sherlock fell serious again. Crunch time was more anxiety provoking than he'd expected. Then again, he'd not told anyone (anyone) about this before.
"He spilled it. I was careless in cleanup." A small smirk appeared on Sherlock's lips for a microsecond before being absconded back, replaced with neautrality.
"'He spilled it'...what exactly does that mean, Sherlock?" John's voice was thready and he cleared his throat, beginning at last to process the reality he was being faced with.
Sherlock swallowed, taking a few moments to find appropriate(?) words.
"Well, it's pleasantly reassuring that your gun remains locked in the drawer of your dresser," he started with a short, nervous (unexpected) laugh. He swallowed again, mouth suddenly drier than he remembered. "Sally was right," Sherlock continued eventually, with a passing expression of condesention. "Well, partially. I'm not actually a psychopath."
John's face faded to an almost deathly white, stumbling backwards slightly, narrowly avoiding walking into a chair. "How- " John started, his voice cutting out. He shook his head, and Sherlock could see him replaying that first conversation in his head. "You... You get off on it... on -murdering- people? Jesus, Sherlock." Subconciously, John's hand twitched, his usual response to such intense stimuli apparently being to reach for his weaponry.
"Well, it's not sexual - that implication was completely unfounded," he said plainly in his own defence. "And I don't have your gun," he said pointedly. "It's where you left it; I've not touched it."
John rubbed a hand across his face, licked his lips. His gaze was steadier, but his face remained ghostly pale. Apparently he wasn't particularly calmed by the 'gun' comment. "But you still do it for -fun-? How-... How many people have you killed, Sherlock?"
Well, he's still talking. It's going surprisingly well so far.
"Fun. Fending off boredom. For interest's sake. Some of them were bad people, if that helps." He leaned back in the chair a little, regarding John with complete seriousness.
John's final question rang through Sherlock's ears for a few moments before he acknowledged it. 'How many people have you killed, Sherlock?' Sherlock raised an eyebrow, cocking his head just slightly.
"Are you sure you want me to answer that?"
How many people have you killed, Sherlock?
Sherlock raised an eyebrow, cocking his head just slightly. "Are you sure you want me to answer that?"
"No." John answered after a few moments, his voice weak. "I suppose I don't really want to know that." The doctor fell silent for some time, and Sherlock simply watched, finding it difficult to gauge what would come next. The question which left John's lips, though, had not been one of the options he'd considered.
"Now what, Sherlock? What happens... now that I know?"
Sherlock's brow furrowed at John's question. "I've never told anyone before..." he mused. "I don't really have a precedent." He was quiet and satisfied for a moment until he caught the expression on John's face, and the implication in his question set in. Sherlock frowned sharply.
"I'm not going to -kill you-, John," he admonished, the utter absurdity of the idea thick in his voice.
"I just found out my best friend's a bloody -serial killer-, excuse me if nothing seems impossible right now." John's tone was scathing, and Sherlock narrowed his eyes, but continued to listen regardless. Well, even if he didn't, it appeared John would keep talking anyway.
John ran his hand through his hair, taking deep but shaky breaths, "I can't keep this a secret, Sherlock. This is... so far beyond wrong. I can't..." His eyes flickered around the room, almost a caricature of distress. "Jesus, Sherlock. What am I supposed to do now?"
"Well I don't have a game plan, I wasn't exactly planning on having a coming out party," Sherlock retorted spitefully. He sat quietly for a few moments before coming up with an acceptable answer. "As far as I see it, you're probably going to vomit soon, and then spend a few hours at least with your head reeling so much it continues to make you physically ill. Then you are either going to decide to keep this to yourself, or you aren't. Obviously I would prefer the former."
Any tone of jest his voice had held earlier was completely gone now, and he was serious, almost somber. Just because he didn't regret murder didn't mean he enjoyed the span of John's emotional torment. At first it had been interesting, but was growing steadily more concerning. This level of emotion in someone of John's mental capacity could be violently unpredictable. One death was more than enough for tonight.
John had dropped his gaze, and he stood shakily from his chair, leaving the kitchen and heading to the bathroom without another word. Sherlock stayed in the chair as John left, bringing one hand up to his mouth, chewing on his knuckle in contemplation as he waited. John was, above all else, moral.
Sherlock hadn't considered that a failing before now.
The doctor had shut himself in the bathroom for almost an hour. Evidenced by the noise, even over this distance, Sherlock was right about the vomiting. The violent clash of thick liquid on water and porcelain stopped soon thereafter, but John remained absent.
Sherlock had moved to the couch by the time John came out of the bathroom. "I was starting to think you'd crawled out a window..." Sherlock mused aloud as John finally walked back towards the living room, hesitating for a few moments before moving to sit down in his chair, muscles tense.
"Considered it, actually." John said after a minute of quiet, his eventual voice quiet, a husk of his usual tone. "But I didn't figure it'd do me much good. You'd have all my things held hostage anyway."
Sherlock scoffed. "Hostage? Good god, John. If you want to leave, I'd let you, but there wouldn't be much point."He sat up a little straighter, facing John properly.
"I have absolutely no intention of hurting you," he said sincerely. "Which I know you have no reason to believe, but it's true regardless."
John's gaze dropped, and his shoulders raised slightly in a weak attempt at a shrug. "That was, um, a poor attempt at humour. If I really thought you'd kill me I'd be long gone by now, sod all my belongings." Sherlock waited patiently as John reluctantly met his eyes. John's voice was no less shaky when he spoke again. "This still changes a lot, Sherlock. Everything. I still don't want to believe this is true."
Sherlock looked up to John, more sincere now the moment of admission had passed. "It doesn't change -that- much. Everything else is the same. It was just an... Omission," he said with a half shrug.
"It doesn't change -that- much. Everything else is the same. It was just an... Omission,"
"An omission. Really." The seriousness had hardened behind John's eyes again, and his voice held a sharp edge. "I can't just accept this 'omission' and carry on in the blink of an eye, Sherlock. You kill people, for fun. I just can't understand that."
The disbelief in John's tone grew deeper. "What do you do? Follow them down alleys? Corner them in their homes? Do you torture them? Or does that depend on how bored you are?"
Sherlock looked back, eyes narrowed and tone harsh. "Why do you keep asking questions you do not want to know the answers for?" he asked, exasperated. "I don't see how knowing will affect anything. Information thus far hasn't made is much easier; you were far happier two hours ago in complete ignorance! So how, John, do you think a description of my M.O. would help?"
"I'm living with a serial killer," John spat, shifting forward in his chair to perch on the edge of it, meeting Sherlock's eyeline, "If you had just found out that I killed people for the hell of it, you'd be morbidly interested in the details as well."
"Of course I would be, I'm a serial killer!" Sherlock rebutted, calming quickly as he suddenly recalled just how thin the walls were.
"I'm..." John sighed, his breath sounding ragged, "I'm trying to make sense of this. That's all. I don't know what else to do."
"Look," Sherlock said quickly, getting frustrated, "I will tell you if you actually want me to. But right now I'm still not sure whether you're just going to tell Lestrade first thing in the morning, so you'll have to understand that I'm a little hesitant," he said with a short sigh. "I don't know what else to do either, by the way. Like I said, I didn't plan for you to find out." He frowned at himself again, at his own stupidity. He did question, though, why he'd been so careless.
Had he wanted John to find out?
"I should tell Lestrade. I definitely should." John sounded as if he were trying to convince himself of that - and falling short. "You can't keep doing this. You'll get caught and they'll hang you. You came home tonight covered in blood, it certainly doesn't seem to me like you're being particularly careful."
Sherlock tried to stop himself smiling at the rather telling use of the word 'should' instead of 'will'.
"'Covered' is an overstatement. But yes, I agree I was... careless. I was expecting you to be at Sarah's." He leaned back on the couch, still watching John.
"You aren't as disgusted as I thought you'd be. And your concern for my getting caught is quite... unexpected," the detective added with a subtle smile.
John sighed, "She tried to talk me into still coming over. I suppose I should have listened..." He let his face fall into his hands and he mumbled past his palms. "Oh, I'm disgusted, Sherlock. I most certainly am. But I can't seem to reconcile 'flatmate' you with 'murderer' you. This doesn't seem real. But of course I don't want you to get caught, I..." John glanced up, letting his hands fall back to his knees, "I don't want you to keep doing this at all."
Sherlock listened, nodding slightly. "And what would you do if I promised to stop?" he asked curiously, raising an eyebrow slightly.
"Right now, I'm not sure whether I'd trust that promise. You could promise me anything just to keep me from telling Lestrade..."John shrugged, looking weary. It wasn't hard to tell that John's heart wasn't in the protest; he dropped his gaze before he was even finished speaking.
"That's fair; I could. Though if I was going to lie, I probably wouldn't have told you the 'serial killer' part," Sherlock pointed out.
"So, just like that, you'll be all finished murdering, just because you promise me?" John's expression was skeptical to say the least. "Somehow it doesn't seem like it could possibly be that simple."
"I didn't actually say I'd stop. I just said I wasn't going to lie." He sighed a little, frowning. "And it wouldn't be that simple. It's not a compulsion, but..." I couldn't stop, god, it feels amazing, there's nothing like it when their blood drips through your fingers and that light fades from their eyes...
John searched Sherlock's face for any scrap of remorse, evidently finding naught. "You... I can't allow you to just keep killing innocent people, Sherlock. You know me, you know I can't live with that."
Sherlock couldn't stop himself rolling his eyes a little, John's apparent moral elasticity becoming rather amusing again. "Then what if I promise to only kill slightly-or-significantly-less-than-innocent people?" he asked, finishing with a slight quirked smile. "Is 'vigilante' more acceptable?"
Sorry for the delay in this one. Things have been hectic at work, but I'm not abandoning this story!
"Then what if I promise to only kill slightly-or-significantly-less-than-innocent people?" he asked, finishing with a slight quirked smile. "Is 'vigilante' more acceptable?"
John stood stock-still, blinking slowly for several seconds. He stood briskly, keeping his eyes plainly averted from Sherlock. "You know, I thought I was ready to talk about this, but I'm really not. I have no idea what to think right now..."
"Alright, we won't talk about it," Sherlock replied studiously, standing in kind.
"It's not a nightly occurrence, John. I wouldn't even say it's 'regular'. And to answer your earlier questions, no, I don't torture them, and it's not that many. I'm not sure if that's comforting, but I assume it must be on some level."
(Actually, I do, and it is, but I'm hardly going to say that.)
John appeared to take some comfort in Sherlock's words, nodding briefly at the answers to his questions, but that appearance of temporary reprieve faded quickly, the realization that 'not that many' murders still meant an unspecified number of people dead passing across John's face quite clearly.
"I'm going to bed." John's voice was small, somewhat absent. "We can talk later. I... tomorrow, maybe. I can't do this right now." John turned abruptly, practically fleeing upstairs.
Sherlock sighed again, irritated by John's grandly varying morals. At least his own 'code' was static.
After a while, he made his way to the bathroom, finally cleaning his nails like he'd wanted to originally before going to bed.
Sherlock was already in the living room by the time John came down, reading the newspaper, in what was probably a ridiculously domestic manner considering the reveal of the night before.
"Morning, John," he said easily, glancing up from the newspaper for a moment.
Poor sleep; nightmares, new ones, less physical than the 'war' variants - fear based, anxiety. Ah. Me.
"Morning." John said with an attempt at a firm tone, busying himself with the kettle. He stood by it as the water came to a boil, clearly spending as much time in the kitchen, as much time not with Sherlock, as possible.
As if another five minutes would make a difference in deciding how to proceed.
Once the tea was prepared (still making me tea, well that's something), John gathered up the cups on a tray and brought them over to the table between the armchairs, sitting opposite Sherlock like usual. He grabbed his tea just a bit too swiftly, bringing the clearly too-hot liquid to his lips, in an attempt to hide his lack of anything to say.
"I don't think burning your lips will help," Sherlock noted, before glancing back to the newspaper. He thought for a few moments, debating whether or not to being up the events of last night. There was nothing else to be done, really.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked after a few moments, putting the newspaper down on the table beside the tea tray.
John winced at the burn on his tongue and hastily drew the cup away, finally glancing to Sherlock, his poor night's rest etched still evident in the lines on his face, "I think we should. We have to, really. But I don't know where to start."
"If you have specific questions, I'll answer them. I think that's probably easier than trying to provide an... autobiography," Sherlock offered, taking a cup of tea and blowing on it gently.
John held his tea cup in slightly shaking hands, but nodded and met Sherlock's gaze. "How long has this gone on for? When did you start?"
Sherlock started recounting his 'history' slightly hesitantly.
"As a... recreation, I suppose you could say, it's been six or seven years,"
John bit the inside of his lip briefly. "Okay." The short answer was the only perforation in the silence for a few long moments, a deep inhalation breaching it again before he parsed another enquiry. "How did it start?"
"Well," the detective started, stopping to sip tea for a moment, "the first time was unplanned. I'd always been interested by the idea, but it wasn't until that initial event that I realised it was actually something I could pursue. Things rather snowballed from there, I suppose."
"So it was an accident the first time?" Or just an... unexpected opportunity?" John busied himself with a sip of his tea. It was still too hot as he hadn't remembered to blow on it to cool it, but he sipped anyway, needing the distraction.
"The latter," he replied quickly, almost offended by the idea that he could do anything without some kind of intent. "If it were an accident, I don't think it would have counted, would it?"
"No, I suppose not." John set his teacup back in its saucer in his other hand, the sharp 'clink' piercing yet another brief silence. "Who was it?"
Sherlock blinked a couple of times, somewhat surprised by John's question. Unexpectedly direct.
"Her name, although I didn't it find it out until after the fact, was Jenny Levine. She was a clerk at a brokerage firm."
"So, you, what. Pick strangers out at random? Or...?"
"In that case, yes. I'd no knowledge of who she was beyond my own observations. But not as a rule; too risky. I tend to be far more careful now. There's still a degree of randomness to who it is, but I vet them first. Rules out police and armed forces, significant persons of interest and so on."
John closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them he dropped his gaze to his teacup, his lip trembling then tensing quickly, before he opened his mouth to speak again.
"And how many people, Sherlock?"
"And how many people, Sherlock?"
Sherlock paused, stalling for a few seconds.
"More than five, less than forty," he said eventually, preferring to leave some leeway for John to take if he wished.
"Jesus, Sherlock..." John rubbed at his face in visible frustration, "How many?"
"Thirty-one as of last night," Sherlock replied, not stalling this time, his voice low and metered. "Suldari was my thirty-first."
The remainder of the blood flushed from John's face, and he met Sherlock's gaze tentatively. "That's...a lot." John's gaze dropped again, his words spoken with almost no strength behind them.
Sherlock offered a small smile for a moment, before realising he was not being congratulated and settling back into a more acceptable expression of neutral observation.
"It is. But over seven years, it's not so large a number."
"Even one murder is too many, Sherlock." John can't seem to put much feeling behind his words, his emotional numbness coming through in his voice, "But over thirty ? Jesus Christ. I should... do... something." John tapered off at the end of the sentence, so it ended up being barely audible.
"If you need a reason not to turn me in, just tell yourself you're afraid of me," Sherlock offered offhandedly, gesturing with one hand. "I'm sure your conscience would forgive you."
"I'm not..." John chewed the inside of his cheek for moment. "I don't want to turn you in," John shook his head, the the tumult in his head quieting by a fraction as he forced himself to struggle with the decision.
Sherlock's lips turned up into a smirk at John's announcement. "Then I think that's something we can both be happy with." Forcing back the smile, he took another taste of tea before it back on the tray for a while. "Did you have any other questions?"
"I have hundreds of questions." John sighed and slumped back in his chair, "But I don't know if I can stomach the answers."
John paused, clearly unsure how to phrase his next words. "I've killed people, too, Sherlock. But out of necessity." He stopped again, wringing his hands in his lap. "And I struggled with it every time. How can you not care?"
Sherlock pursed his lips a little, genuinely considering his answer. "I don't know. It just never bothered me. Death has always just been another event which occurs like any other. I imagine, if I lost someone of importance, I would care significantly about that, but people I have no ties to... I just don't." He watched John, aware that that, in all likelihood, wasn't the answer he wanted to hear.
"What about the victims' families? They care significantly when their spouse or daughter or nephew never comes home." John's voice was full of disbelief. He evidently had a hard time fathoming this severe a lack of empathy.
"Yes, but I'm not them," Sherlock said plainly, as if it answered everything. "I think that's more or less the meaning of 'unempathic', isn't it? I don't feel pain which isn't my own."
John gave him a wilted look. "It's really that easy for you... Good God, Sherlock. What... happens, now that I know? You'll just carry on like normal and I'll just keep my mouth shut?"
"Well, it's not that easy practically ," Sherlock countered, before deciding that now was not the right time to complain about the difficulties of being a successful serial killer. "Like I said last night, I don't know what happens now. I suppose that's one option, though."
"What other options are there? I don't want to turn you in, and you don't seem at all likely to stop. Seems like we've no choice but keep on as if I didn't come home last night."
The detective chewed his lip, thinking for a short moment.
"I suppose you're right. Then the question is, whether or not you wish to be aware of what I do in the future. I would assume not, as it would play havoc with the 'keeping on' plan."
"I don't know. Maybe it would be better if you did tell me." John looked around the room, as if hoping some sort of answer would crawl out of somewhere. "Otherwise I'll just be consumed with the uncertainty of what you're doing whenever I'm not with you."
Slowly, Sherlock nodded. "Fair enough. I shall keep you... informed, then. After the fact, though; I doubt the knowledge that I was planning a murder would particularly help your conscience."
John stared at Sherlock for a long moment, his expression conflicted. "I want to know right after. And don't be so careless, Sherlock. I can't go through this to keep you out of prison if you're only going to get yourself caught anyway."
Sherlock grinned at that, then nodded. "The carelessness was new. Although... I think it was more related to you than to getting caught in general," he added as an afterthought.
John's brow furrowed slighly as Sherlock's words interrupted his obvious self-beratement. "Why would it be related to me?"
Sherlock bit his lip slightly before speaking. "I think... I wanted to find out how you'd react. It wasn't intentional; if it was I'd have planned a far better conversation, but... I think I wanted you to know," he mused, still processing the idea himself. It sat uncomfortably in his mind.
John surprised them both by chuckling lightly, "You just like my attention, don't you?" He shook his head in overwhelmed, weary, exasperation and his expression sobered again quickly, "As far as 'best mate is a murderer' conversations go, I guess ours probably went fairly well. I think I must still be in shock."
Sherlock chuckled lightly, a tinge of embarrassment coming through at John's assessment. "It certainly could have gone far worse," he agreed, trying to remain somber despite his current good mood. "And yes, you probably are. Which is to be expected, really. I did mean it, though; I wouldn't hurt you. I do have some feelings, after all."
"I know you do." John frowned down at his now-cold tea. "I'm more terrified of the idea of your being a serial killer than I am of the fact that you actually are one." John rubbed a hand over his face with a heavy sigh, "Yes, this is most definitely shock. I'm not even making sense to myself anymore."
Sherlock laughed softly at John's utter lack of reasoning. "Well, if it helps, I'm a very good one," he offered, with no small amount of pride.
"If you haven't been caught in seven years, then yes. You must be very good." John's tone was carefully neutral but his controlled expression flickered slightly when he let his hand fall from his face, "You're... more than a little mad, you know." His words were laced with slight concern, and perhaps grudging and timid affection, more than anything else, but were still mostly devoid of inflection.
"But you knew that before yesterday, John," Sherlock pointed out, smiling warmly at the 'mad' comment.
"I suppose I did, didn't I." It wasn't a question. "So this happens, what, every couple months? What do you-" the question escaped unbidden, "-do with the bodies?"
Sherlock nodded at the first question. "It varies, but yes, between one and three months on average."
John's second question was unexpected. Sherlock swallowed; this was a level of detail he'd not anticipated getting into, at least not yet. "Depends on the method. I don't have a strict MO; I've intentionally avoided one. Some are buried, some are burned, some are in the Thames. Others are set up as unrelated crimes. The last are the most satisfying, I admit."
The room was quiet for a few moments, and John looked back up at Sherlock, waiting as if debating what to say.
"Has Lestrade ever asked for your help on a case where you were the murderer?"
(An update~ Thank you all for your patience.)
"Has Lestrade ever asked for your help on a case where you were the murderer?"
Sherlock smirked, trying to keep it hidden but failing, pale eyes almost twinkling in remembrance. "Twice. It was... well, incredibly stressful the first time, but hilarious the second."
"Don't say it like -that-," John huffed, his scolding tone rather ruined by his clear and deepening interest, "Now you have to tell me why it was hilarious."
"Well the second time, I was reasonably well-practiced already. I was quite confident there was no way I could be caught, it was... brilliant," Sherlock said with a grin, exhaling as he smiled. "Usually I follow things quietly, to make sure I'm in the clear; either the missing person's case or the unsolved murder case. That time..." he remembered almost wistfully, "to be right there, at my own crime scene, telling the police who to look for... Even you have to understand the draw of that," he finished, still failing to hold back a grin.
John was listening intently, apparently captivated at hearing Sherlock relate the account, despite it's unsavoury nature. He shook himself a little once he picked up on the half-implied query in Sherlock's last sentence.
"I can certainly see why you're drawn to it, Sherlock. But I'm not so sure that I would be." John bit his lip, anxious at how shaky his tone was as he spoke.
Sherlock's attitude changed slightly, and he cocked his head a little. "You never know... Maybe you would be."
"No, I wouldn't, Sherlock." John didn't meet Sherlock's eyes, evidently suddenly uncomfortable under the other man's scrutiny. "Why would you think that?"
Sherlock shook his head, dismissing the thought. "No reason at all," he reassured with a simple grin, without implication. "Was there anything else you want to know?" He picked up the cup of tea again, sipping at it easily now it had cooled.
John sighed. "I'm having a hard time not asking questions, in case you haven't noticed. You're the one that accidentally let me find you out. Anything you want me to know?"
The detective-come-serial-killer cocked his head in thought, closing his eyes for a moment. "I don't know. I don't think so. Then again, I didn't realise I wanted you to find out until after it happened." He paused briefly, then raised his brow a little as he came up with something.
"Oh, that's a question;" he started, looking back to John. "If I get caught - care to write my biography?" he asked with a smirk.
John's eyebrows rose at Sherlock's question. He first looked somewhat shocked, then dismayed, before his expression vergedon the shadow of a begrudging smile. "I'd not be much of a blogger if I passed up that chance, now would I?"
Sherlock chuckled, absolutely pleased with John's answer. "Not that will happen any time soon. Most likely a retirement package," he added as reassurance. "I have to say, I am rather delightfully pleased with how you're taking this. You've surprised me," he said with a warm smile.
John gave him a look that clearly implied 'preferably never'. "You're the one doing the surprising. I'm the one desperately trying to come to terms with said surprising." John took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "At least I'm not feeling ill any more."
"Good. I don't like making you sick; I'm not -that- immoral," he said with a small smirk before finishing his tea.
John raised an eyebrow at that comment, apparently stuck between conflicting emotions and lines of thought. He forced himself to his feet, grabbing the tea tray and gesturing for Sherlock to hand his empty cup over. "Hungry?"
Sherlock placed the cup on the tray, then considered for a moment before nodding. "Do we have toast?"
Still going to make me breakfast. That is surprising.
John nodded and left for the kitchen, "Unless the bread fell victim to one of your experiments when I wasn't paying attention, then yes, we should definitely have toast. Honey or jam? Or just butter today?"
"Are we going to start using a series of killing related puns as a private joke, now?" he asked, raising an eyebrow with a poorly restrained grin. "Now I just wish it was lunchtime; then I could say 'I could murder a sandwich'. But, seeing as the current temporal condition of the universe doesn't agree with my idea of a decent joke, just jam, if you please."
John couldn't help but let out a laugh at that as he got out the bread. "I have to deal with this somehow; don't mock my coping mechanisms."
"But if I don't mock you, how will you feel comfortable?" Sherlock rebutted with a short chuckle. "If I suddenly treated you nicely all the time, I suspect you would grow incredibly paranoid, incredibly fast. Thus, mocking."
"You have a point." John replied as he groped around in the fridge for the jam, not stopping to notice whether there were questionable items hidden among the food or not. "But you are typically nicer to me than other people. Should that make me paranoid at all?"
Sherlock shook his head slightly. "No," he replied simply. "That's just because I like you. There's nothing sinister in it."
John let out a perplexed grunt, popping the bread down in the toaster with a clunk. "Every once in a while I stop and think 'How is this my life?' I think I'll be having a lot more of those moments from now on."
"But you aren't bored," Sherlock pointed out quickly. "So that's good." He's actually making breakfast... he thought with no small amount of disbelief, watching John in the kitchen.
John shot a weary, wry look in Sherlock's direction. "No, not bored. I'll just live every day on tenterhooks that something terrible will happen and you'll get caught and imprisoned and hanged and my life will fall apart. But thank god I won't be bored."
Sherlock's brow furrowed, the depths of John's concern far more significant than he'd expected. "The idea bothers you that much...?" he asked quietly, meeting John's eyes.
John met Sherlock's gaze for a few flustered moments before turning away hurriedly when the toast popped up, speaking over his shoulder just loudly enough to be heard, "Of course it bothers me, Sherlock. How could it not?"
He found an odd smile creeping onto his lips. "Well, you just found out I've killed over thirty people in the last seven years, and your primary concern is my wellbeing, and how my absence would affect you if I was caught. That is surprising. It's... sweet."
John stopped to grip the edge of the counter, hanging his head for a moment with a sigh. He shook himself after a moment and straightened, grabbing the finished toast and heading back to hand Sherlock his plate. "I did kill a man to save your life within 48 hours of meeting you, or have you forgotten?" John met Sherlock's gaze pointedly with a small smile of his own, "We've never exactly made a normal pair."
Sherlock grinned in return as he reached for the plate, holding John's gaze just slightly longer than was necessary. "I've not forgotten. It's a fond memory," he said with a smirk, taking the plate and setting it on his lap.
John maintained the eye contact with some hesitance, then let out a half-laugh. "'Fond'. Of course you'd think of it that way." John moved to sit with his own plate and began eating, dropping his eyes to his food.
"Well, you killed someone for me. Even I've never killed anyone for someone else," Sherlock said with a fond smile before picking up the toast, turning it around with his fingers a few times before biting the corner.
John's attention flicked back to Sherlock's face, "I might have been a doctor in the army, but I did see action. Killing people for someone else is war in a nutshell. " John shrugged a shoulder, looking as if he werejust a touch embarrassed, but unsure why. "If someone hadn't tried to kill me, I wouldn't be here right now. It's odd to consider."
"It is odd. Suddenly there seems to be a lot of death in the room," Sherlock noted, pausing mid-bite to speak, his tone neutral, observant.
"Would it be heartless to say I was grateful you were shot?"
Thank you all so much for the support I've been given for this fic so far, honestly. It's brilliant. I hope to maintain the good will I've gotten so far; thank you all for your patience, too.
"Would it be heartless to say I was grateful you were shot?"
John's expression lightened and he couldn't resist the slightest smile in reciprocation of Sherlock's smirk. "A bit. But coming from you, it doesn't bother me."
"I suppose it is rather in keeping with my character, isn't it?" Sherlock noted with a small laugh before taking another bite of toast.
John swallowed his mouthful of toast quickly in order to object, almost choking on an errant crumb in the process. He coughed it out of the way and finally managed to speak. "You're not heartless all the time; don't make it sound like you are. You were just commenting on how sweet my reaction apparently was, that hardly sounded heartless to me."
Sherlock chuckled lightly. "True. It was sweet, though." He paused for a moment, considering a tangent of thought.
"How many people would you say you killed in Afghanistan, then?" he asked curiously.
John sat up a bit straighter at Sherlock's question. He clearly hadn't been expecting it. "Um... Realistically, maybe seven or eight? I doubt more than ten. It's not really easy to tell when everyone around you is shooting all at once and at the same targets. I was paying more attention to getting the wounded out."
"How did it make you feel?" Sherlock probed further, not even trying to resist the curiosity the subject drew from him.
The doctor shuffled a little uncomfortably in his seat. "I didn't want to kill them, but I certainly didn't want to die instead. It... felt good to be alive, afterwards. Moreso than usual. More real."
Sherlock smiled, almost proud of John's response. "We aren't all that different, I suppose..." he mused before taking another small bite of toast.
John blinked at Sherlock for a moment before he resumed eating. He took a bite, chewed and swallowed before speaking. "I never thought we were." John said quietly, staring thoughtfully at his plate, "But I'll still never remember killing as being 'fun'. It was necessary. It was part of my job, but that's all it was. Same when I killed the cabbie."
"I know," continued Sherlock, toast held in midair as he spoke, "but you aren't like normal people, either."
"What do you mean by that, exactly?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes, sitting back in his chair with a small huff. "Nothing at all, John. You are just like everyone else. Far be it for me to question your normalcy." He took a vindictive bite of toast, childish.
Mouth quirking down in the hint of a skeptical frown, John let out a long-suffering sigh, "I meant specifically. I already know I'm not normal, just curious why you think so. Most people think I'm no different than they are."
"Oh, I have no idea," Sherlock replied, thick with sarcasm, but his voice quickly returned to studiousness. "Less than twelve hours ago you found out my 'little secret', and now we're discussing murder over toast. So either you care for me a lot more deeply than you've let on, or you aren't normal."
"I meant -besides- the last twelve hours," his friend replied quickly (too quickly). "Obviously I'm not reacting normally to-" John gestured vaguely at Sherlock, a faint flush creeping up his neck, "this."
Sherlock raised an eyebrow, regarding John for a moment with his head slightly cocked. "Or, it could be both..." he supplemented quietly, amending his previous thought.
Sherlock raised an eyebrow, regarding John for a moment with his head slightly cocked. "Or, it could be both..." he supplemented quietly, amending his previous thought.
John inhaled deeply through his nose and held the breath for a second before letting it rush back out. He dropped his gaze. "Surely that doesn't come as much of a surprise."
"It does, actually," Sherlock mused quietly, turning his attention back to his toast for a few more bites.
"Oh." John watched Sherlock eat for a moment before taking another bite of his own toast. He sat quietly for a few moments in clear discomfort, struggling to swallow. He set his plate down and stood to fetch a glass of milk from the kitchen.
"Are you alright?" Sherlock asked, just loud enough to be heard. He was still rather distracted by John's own reveal (how did I miss -that-?), and put his remaining toast back on the plate, too busy thinking to bother with the rest.
"Fine. Toast was just a bit dry." John shut the fridge and came back with two glasses, setting a glass of milk in front of Sherlock before sitting and taking a long drink from his own cup.
"You had jam on it," Sherlock countered, eyebrow still raised but dropping back quickly as he placed his plate back on the table. "I had just thought we were friends," he added coolly by means of explanation, leaving the serial killer subject alone for a while, "I hadn't realised there was more to it. I believe the correct term is 'oblivious'." It was obvious how displeased he was at having not seen something so plainly obvious (now in hindsight, should have seen it instantly) to everyone else.
"We have just been friends, Sherlock, it's fine." John set his glass down on the table and picked up the last bit of toast off his plate and stared at it before popping it in his mouth as an excuse to not say anything else for a moment.
"Past tense or present?" the detective asked tangentially after a moment'a silence, glancing back at John.
John finished chewing his toast and reluctantly swallowed away his excuse for not talking. "Both? We've been friends for months, and even after last night's unexpected revelation, I have no intention of losing your friendship, so we're still friends."
"That is lovely to hear, but I was referring to the... 'fondness' I was unaware of. Given your answer though, I would take -that- to be both also..." Sherlock considered, before picking up the milk and taking a mouthful.
"Right, of course you were." A bright blush appeared at the tips of his ears, spreading down across his cheeks, "Both for that too, I guess." He slipped into an awkward pause, picking at invisible lint on the arm of his chair.
"Hm," Sherlock hummed in thought, taking another small sip of milk before putting the glass back. "Interesting that my hobby hasn't put you off..."
"I think you've desensitized me a bit with your other various hobbies." John laughed slightly, trying to keep the conversation light.-
Sherlock chuckled lightly. "Well thank goodness I've been warming you up to it with the body parts in the fridge," he said with a wide smile.
John returned the smile, "I barely notice those anymore, to be honest. They've stopped phasing me. So you must be doing something right."
"Obviously; if last night wasn't enough to disinterest you, I would think I must be doing quite a bit right." He smirked again before picking up the newspaper again, picking up where he'd left off when John came in.
John laughed quietly to himself. He stood and grabbed the dishes carefully, leaving Sherlock's milk where it was in case he wanted more, and took them back to the kitchen, relieved to drop the conversation.
Once he'd finished picking through the last interesting shreds of information in the paper, Sherlock refolded it and put it back on the table yet again. "See," he started, "now I'm struggling to think of anything other than 'I kill people are you aren't all that bothered' and 'you want to kiss me'. If you have any other questions about the former, feel free to ask them, otherwise would you think of a new topic of conversation?"
John finished with the dishes and was drying his hands when Sherlock spoke again. He walked back into the living room steadily. "I can't think of any other pressing questions for the moment. I have quite a bit to mull over. But if I think of something in the future, I'll be sure to ask. If that's okay?"
"Of course. I never expected it to be something I could share with anyone; you're welcome to ask anything when you wish to. I doubt you'll be able to make me uncomfortable," he said with a small smirk.
John nodded with a grin. "You're right about that at least." He glanced pointedly at the newspaper, "Nothing of import, then? Seems like we've hit a dry spell this week. Lestrade had better call you with something soon."
Sherlock shook his head. "Nothing at all. At least tomorrow I get to play narcissist and check for an article about Suldari." He sighed a little, leaning back in the chair.
"Do they often make the paper?" John couldn't help but wonder if he'd read about some of Sherlock's victims without realizing it at the time.
"Sometimes. Depends what I do with them. Suldari will." His reply came easily, quite content to discuss this now. It was surprising how easily the ground had shifted under them; even moreso that they were both still standing. "And yes, you've read of my work before. I don't keep a scrapbook, though, so I don't have copies of said articles."
"What did you do, then, to Suldari?" John asked with apparent caution, his voice suddenly more tense. "Or should I just wait and read about it in the paper?"
"The paper will hardly be accurate, will it?" Sherlock asked with a tiny smirk. "He had significant debts. It will be reported as a deal with a loan shark gone sour." Sherlock paused briefly "He had his throat slit after a brief physical altercation."
Sherlock looked over, trying not to look too eager as he watched for John's reaction.
It wasn't as hard as John thought it would be to watch Sherlock say those words. He didn't drop his gaze when Sherlock looked over either. He could feel that the blood had drained from his face, but he could only do so much to feign complete calm.
"You cut his throat." John's voice really betrayed him, coming out almost choked. He had had more to say, but no more words came out for the moment.
"That was implicit in the story I just told, yes." Sherlock looked down at his lap. "So, theoretically fine, but not practically. Noted." There was the smallest tinge of regret in his voice, almost disappointment, but he kept it as neutral as possible.
"No, it's um, I'm fine. Just... I wasn't expecting that visual." John cleared his throat, tone just a little flustered, "This is -completely- new for me. Cut me a little slack? I am trying."
Sherlock nodded, lips pressed into a firm line. "Of course. Apologies."
"You don't need to apologize. You had his blood under your nails and on your face, I should have realized. I've only ever shot people. Doesn't really get one's hands bloody." John was already looking less peaky as the shock trickled away again.
"I never saw the appeal of guns, besides the obvious practical benefit of distance. Certainly not my preferred method." His face began to relax again as John calmed, and his speech came easier again.
"They serve their purpose." John's thoughts quickly drifted.
"Oh, certainly. Just not particularly applicable to me most of the time."
"A 'brief physical altercation'..." John's tone returned slowly to close to normal, the hint of curiosity reinstating itself, "He put up a struggle?"
He nodded at the question. "He did. Not much of one, admittedly, but enough."
"Have you ever gotten hurt doing it? Some victim put up more of a fight than you were expecting?" John tried to keep his voice neutral through his concern.
Sherlock nodded slightly more emphatically. "I have, yes. Nothing too serious as yet, but I have a few scars here and there. Was hit over the head with a frying pan, once. That was rather mortifying more than anything." He chuckled a little at the memory.
John tried to suppress his scowl. "That's...not comforting, but also not surprising, I guess."
"Well I've never come off worse than the other party," he countered, chuckling lightly.
"Where did you do it, then? I can't help but picture you in an alleyway, but that seems cliche even in my imagination."
"Suldari? His home. It had to look like a retribution hit, after all. Alleyways aren't all that cliche, though. I've had my share of them."
John's scowl deepened at that, but he didn't argue.
"His home... How long did you plan on killing him for before you went through with it? You knew quite a lot about him, it seems."
"I heard about him vaguely a couple of months ago, but realistically only a couple of weeks went into the planning of it. Long enough to know who might want him dead, to know he has a wife who was planning on leaving him but will now mourn his death instead, to know that he had no children, to know where he would be and when." Sherlock picked up the glass of milk, draining it before it reached room temperature and placing the glass back on the table.
John was surprised at how satisfied he was with that response, and he nodded, "That's good, then. Well, I mean, good on the planning. You know what you're doing, that much is apparent."
I can't believe I'm complimenting a murderer, even if it -is- Sherlock. I really have a problem.
Incredibly sorry it's taken so long to get this chapter up. I'll try to do better...