John Watson is your average camp goer. By average we mean sixteen almost seventeen, male, Londoner and with a distanced appreciation of nature. That of course goes to hell in a hand basket at Cliffs camp. Three hours south of civilization (by civilization we mean London) smack dab in the middle of the wilderness.
This is John's first year at Cliffs all boys camp. John being very male and very seventeen isn't as distraught over the whole all boys thing as you may think. He had been to soccer camp for a couple of weeks some few years back and he enjoyed that just fine, two and a half months was nothing to be worried about…at all. He is sure of it.
His mum drove him to camp, and it isn't as embarrassing once you actually get to camp and see all the other kids with their mums. It is almost always guaranteed that one mum is more embarrassingly hysteric than yours. John steps out of the car and like every city dweller who rarely ventures into the wild, is awestruck with how much environment there actually exists. When you spend your days surrounded by buildings and potted plants, it's hard to believe that wildlife exists outside of Animal Planet.
Kisses are exchanged, promises of phone calls are made and off they go. The somewhat bright, somewhat ashen faces of Britain's youth ready for another year at Cliffs camp.
John is a little wary of all the new faces around him. He’s good at making friends but when surrounded by so many unknown people, it’s hard not to think that maybe nobody is going to get along with you.
He is stationed at Cabin 7A.
"Okay listen up people, first timers, and welcome, breathe it in, yes that is what air is supposed to feel like. My name is Kevin, hi, yes; sure everyone is pleased to meet me. Now, with all that new oxygen your brains have to process I'm sure some of you may be starving. Lunch today is at 1 PM, it is 11 AM now. We will be dividing into groups and going to our cabins and then we will all meet for lunch at the mess hall. Then we have a guided tour of our facilities and the some getting to know each other time. Now, your cabin assignments have letters, we will split up into those letters, A's over there, B's with me..."
Having heard his letter John picks his bag up and goes to join the clump of other teenagers he assumes to be A.
"Hey", a voice from behind John says, "I see you're 7A, guess we're going to be roommates, my name is Mike". 'Mike' moves his bags to one hand and motions to shake hands with John. "John," he smirks and shakes his hand. As the party starts moving forward Mike and John move with them.
"So this must be your first time at the camp, right? So tell me, did you voluntarily choose to be placed here or was it by force" Mike says this with a friendly smile.
"How do you know it's my first year here?" John says with a soft chuckle.
"I was here last year, while I don't know everyone, I do remember the recurring faces, and you're not one of them. Anyway we lucked out by being in A block. The counselors assigned to block A have been here for a while so they don't have anything to prove. Let us get away with murder, they do."
Listening to Mike talk about the camp John can't help but be relieved. “Christ, this is going to be fun then."
To answer Mike's previous question about how John ended up at Cliff’s camp, it was a bit of both. His mum and dad were traveling for work this summer, and they both refused to carry the 'burden' of John with them. He could theoretically stay home alone, but since there was nothing guaranteeing he wouldn't cause havoc on the neighbors he was shipped off to camp. Knowing this, he decided to pick this camp, recommended by a friend and the internet.
"And that's how I came here, a friend of a friend used to come here, said it was fun, and helped him with his sport and stuff. Last year before uni, better have as much fun as I can."
They kept on walking for a while in calm silence until they reached the cabin. The outside looked like a regular log cabin, while the inside was more or less like… well a prison, concrete walls, concrete floors, concrete roof. Well, John thinks, at least that small carpet his mum had made him bring would come in handy; he hates cold floors in the morning. There are two beds, one a bunk bed, the other a single. At the end of each is a corresponding camp trunk. There is one mirror attached to the wall facing the door and under it a small sink. Power outlets do exist and as luck would have it there is a mini fridge (should really be mini-mini, he'll be lucky if he can store a water bottle in there) and a microwave which John doubts has any useful wattage to it. All in all, it looked homely.
"So Johnny boy, what do you think of the palace?"
"Well it clearly did a lot to deserve that name now didn't it"
Throwing his bags on the bunk bed (Mike claimed the single), and changing out his shoes for more comfortable trainers, John waits for Mike to lead the way to lunch.
John is seated at a round table (the one that had the chairs attached to it, much to his excitement the wood was real) on his right hand was Mike, and on his left is Alexander. Alexander is a tall-ish, somewhat brown somewhat red haired male who smelled of limes and was quite frankly a very fast, but amusing speaker. Besides that he wasn't really sure who else was seated at the table. They never bothered to introduce themselves, and they somehow already know he is John. He knows for sure that one of them was named Hector.
The food is admirable for a camp, a simple roast beef sandwich with a great attempt at guacamole, what he was sure was supposed to taste like fruit punch and an apple for dessert. Good thing he brought snacks, lots of them.
"Hey John, you're not the only first year at this table you know, Robbie here is at the prime of his youth and has decided to join us after a brief stint over at Klippen camp"
"Klippen camp, it's the camp at the other side of the river-lake beach thing." says Robbie "It's basically hell but with hot chicks with issues and rich daddies to ship them off"
"Yeah, cause that sounds like hell mate." says Mike
"Well it's a lot different when you're there, it's like a bloody boot camp mixed with a prisoner of war camp, you have to get up at a regular time, eat, sleep, breathe with everyone else and if you step out of line then they send you off to solitary to think about 'how you have negatively affected camp's society', I think their motto is "Together we rise, alone we fall" or some crazy thing."
Mike being the one to start the conversation feels obligated to continue it, "How did you end up there mate?"
"Better question you should be asking is how I avoided being there for a second year, basically during one of the pranks (the only way we used to find any amusement) I was sent into the forest and bumped into here, thought it looked a hell of a lot more fun than Klippen and tricked my parents into bringing me here instead. To be honest though, the all-boys in the tittle did make me think twice. Those girls just had so many issues and so much need for just a little love." Robbie says with a wistful satisfied smile on his face. John just thinks he looks like he has indigestion.
The group broke out into laughter, John of course not wanting to be rude joins in. Everyone breaks off into conversations then, some sometimes asking questions to Robbie and some just talking to the air hoping someone would catch on to their strand of conversation and finish it off. John just eats his awesome apple.
"So Robbie, what kind of pranks did you pull in hell?"
"Well it wasn't so much a prank as a dare, sort of an initiation dare. Every first year had to go through it unless you of course went unnoticed or were truly psychotic and no one wanted to touch you with a ten foot pole. I don't actually remember the dare, just that it was in the forest and that it had something to do with bees, didn't get caught thankfully."
John can see the idea forming on the gangly youth across from him, who may or may not be the aforementioned Hector. He can see the moment he thinks of it, plans out the wording and finally comes to the conclusion that yes; they should most definitely have an initiation rite of their own. After all, can't be upstaged by hell. John of course notices the excitement on everyone's faces, and knowing that himself, Robbie and some parrot looking kid were the only first years, makes himself as small as possible.
So here is the initiation rite, John, Robbie and the parrot looking kid are to sneak into Klippen camp and retrieve one item from the camp. They of course have to go through the forest (forbidden without permission or unless going to one of the activities), swim or paddle or whatever through the river-lake beach thing and end up at the camp. Then of course make their way back. They have to do this after the tour through the facilities where campers where left to hang out and get to know their roommates/neighbors. They have to be back before morning, although in reality they should be back before midnight (timing of course provided by Robbie). All three of them will set off at the same time as monitored by one person and will be spread out at the edge of the forest.
After having toured the facilities (bathrooms explained to them, rugby/football field, pointing at what was in the forest, canoes, swimming, offices, first aid (male nurse, darn) and given it thirty minutes so that the counselors were comfortable, the pack of students set out.
John starts walking in just the general direction he was pointed in and he decides he likes the forest. It is warmer than the camp but generally less humid. The trees provided shade and he highly doubts there are wild beasts in here. It’s really more a patch of trees than anything else. He brought a bottle of water, a fruit bar and some raisins to eat along the way. It’s nice to be left alone with one's thoughts. He has time to process all that he had just seen.
He likes the camp; it’s modest and has a history to it. It’s a lived in camp, there is nothing new about it and that is fine. The grasses on the fields are maintained and the river looks clean. The people... well they aren't horrible, they are teenage boys, and as such they can't help if they come across somewhat cocky or rowdy. John himself has been guilty of acting up when in a crowd of his peers. It isn't out of character.
John has been walking for about forty minutes and the forest is frankly losing what little mystery it once held. Trees, rocks, dirt, spiders, ants, creepily quiet birds, really loud birds, ugh.
When he first sees it he is truly frightened. At first the pants blend into the tree so all John really sees is the white shirt and shocking black hair. Upon further inspection he sees what it is, a person on a tree, a boy judging from the backside. John isn't really sure how to proceed, he just decides to sit still and observe, after the not so shocking lack of excitement this is a welcome distraction in the forest.
After observing for five minutes (in reality about one and a half) John starts silently freaking out. The person is not moving. He can't even tell if he is breathing, there is a slight breeze going on and he can't differentiate between that and what should be the rise and fall of a breathing human.
After 10 minutes (really only 3) he decides to take action. He doesn't want to shout lest he shock the poor guy, he decides that the next course of action should be to throw a rock at him. See if he reacts. It isn't so out of the blue for stuff to fall on you in a forest (John has learned) so maybe the guy (if he is breathing) will look around and then John can move on.
He takes a light rock and taking aim throws it in the direction of his head. Nothing seems to happen. The rock John believes, after further inspection, is now taking residence in his hair. John picks up another rock and throws it in the direction of the shoulders. Nothing.
Now he’s really freaking out. This time he grabs a fairly sized rock and threw it a little below the shoulders with all his force.
And would you look at that; the mysterious guy is alive, currently falling out of a tree branch, and with a very manly squeak. Crap.
John now has to make a quick decision, whether he should run away, or run towards the guy. John being John runs toward him.
Looking at him from the front, the guy has shoulder length curly hair; his shirt has a gray lettering declaring Military Intelligence Section 6 and cargo pants. He also has a gash across his forehead, scrape in his arm and his left palm is bleeding profusely. His eyes are closed. Fuck.
"Just let me clean you up dammit."
His eyes are still closed, in pain John thinks, and soon after John’s outburst they open, blue, fierce, dilated, wide and right now raging. As soon as John has gotten close enough he leans in and starts checking the man. As soon as he has touched him opens his eyes wide and starts lashing out. In a calm cool voice John explains that he is just trying to help. Really he is first aid trained, he cab help. The guy has sat up and is telling him to leave in a very confrontational tone of voice, over and over. John is getting kind of heated up himself. He is just trying to help after being the cause of this bloodshed. Christ, that palm really is bleeding out quite a lot.
This guy is Sherlock, the name has significance to you and me but at the moment all John knows is that this guy is bleeding, in a forest, and John is to blame.
"Shut up this instant and listen to me!"
That got the guy (Sherlock) to stop his nonsense talking. What of, John could not tell you, he is frankly just focused on tone of voice (quite negative) and the cuts. The guy actually quiets down at John’s command and proceeds to glare. The guy then goes to cross his arms petulantly when he notices that by doing so he is getting blood everywhere. For the first time since he fell out of the tree, he looks down at his hand and appears startled. Like he hasn't really realized that his appendage was capable of experiencing pain or that anything has happened to his palm. He then puts his palm out and looks at John with something akin to a this-is-now-your-problem-fix-it-mr-first-aid-although-i-highly-doubt-you-can look, if looks like that really do exist, which they do.
John then sets to work, he takes his water bottle and carefully so as not to waste any he squirts it on the palm cleaning most of the blood away. Before anymore can pop up he pushes both sides of the skin together and taking the bandanna currently around his wrist he ties it up tight in a criss-cross fashion.
Next he goes to look at the gash on his forehead. It isn't bleeding profusely but it will definitely scab over and be painfully soft. He takes out a bandana from his back pocket (at this point the guy is giving him a 'fucking hell' look) and dousing it in water he sets about the task of cleaning it. Satisfied he moves on to the arm. It isn't as bad as the palm but it is still bleeding a little. He cleans it with the same bandana he used on the head. After cleaning it he reaches into his pocket and digs around.
"Please don't tell me you have another bandana in there."
John ignores the comment and just holds his hand out. He has some small plasters that he crisscrosses to close the wound and get as much coverage as possible. John sits back and looks to see if there are any other wounds. Being assured that there is nothing else he can do is at a loss as to what comes next. He thinks he should start with introductions.
"Hi I'm John, I'm from Cliff camp over that way" John adds to this explanation by pointing nonsensically in the wrong direction. "I was just walking through the woods when I saw you."
"And then you threw a rock at me."
"I thought you were dead! I couldn't see any signs of breathing."
"Because when finding a dead person, in the woods, up a tree, the natural instinct is to throw rocks at them." John thinks he sounds a little shocked but really Sherlock is just puzzled, trying to figure out the thought process behind this funny little brain he has stumbled upon, or rather who has stumbled upon him.
"Yes, well to me it was, and I'm sorry because you were clearly not dead and now you are very clearly hurt."
"Don't apologize this is nothing."
At that proclamation John isn't really sure what to say next, he was planning on saying something along the lines of 'so you hang around trees much?' when Sherlock suddenly stands up and starts walking away. John is kind of shocked at his speed when not five minutes ago he was all but unconscious. Sherlock is about three yards away when John shouts.
"Wait, don't go." At this Sherlock only hesitates mid-step, "I don't know anything about you."
Turning around, Sherlock says “And this being some quid pro quo, I happen to know so much about you."
"Well no, but I told you my name, you haven't even offered that and I just saved you from a lot of pain and a nasty infection," John says pointing towards the hands.
"Which you were the cause of, I'm sure that hasn't escaped your notice."
"I didn't mean to hurt you and I at least apologized for that."
"At least? Am I supposed to apologize for something now?"
"No, no," John rubs his hand through his hair, for some reason this boy is really frustrating, and really, he should walk away now. John doesn't walk away, he stands his ground.
"At least tell me why you were in the tree, you owe me that much" At this point Sherlock is looking at him with a quite terrifying stare, it isn't a glare, more of a pre-emptory glare, something to disarm you. John sincerely hopes the heat he is feeling in his face isn't a blush creeping up. Now that he thinks about it, he really has no idea why he is arguing with this stranger, for some reason he just really wants to be argumentative, no rhyme or reason.
"I don't owe you anything, some piece of information about my life, you can't have it. You say I know your name but John, Johnny, oh Johnny boy I know so much more than that. For example, you say you go to Cliffs camp, clearly by your own choice, now why is that? I would say it had something to do with your parents given the state of your trainers, probably more to do with your siblings. When you said you had first aid training you weren't kidding, surprisingly though you knew more than what is taught at basic training so your dad must be a Doctor or you are seeking to work in the medical field. Oh interesting both. You are clearly a first year at the camp so this must be some sort of prank or dare or whatever kids call it but you are more interested in me at the moment than the actual dare, why is that, eager to have some tale to tell back at camp, actually interested or just nosy? No, not any of those, maybe you're just stupid, or you are failing so terribly to fit in at your camp on the first day that you are just desperate for some sort of companionship, even from some stranger who you met in the woods. I on the other hand would like nothing more than to be alone, so while I'm sure we're both charmed at having crossed paths I must really be going now."
John just stands there as he watches Sherlock walk away. He has never told anyone any those things and this guy has just spouted them off like it’s common knowledge. He is broken out of his stupor when he sees that the guy is still walking away. He starts to rush forward to catch up with him. When he finally does, Sherlock just looks down at him with the same distaste one looks upon a bug that refuses to die after having been stepped on repeatedly, over and over.
"Ah, hello again" Sherlock says with an air like he couldn't be bothered.
"How did you know all that stuff?"
"Yes well it was obvious, very loudly expressed."
"It's not obvious, to me, or my parents, or anyone else."
"Yes well everyone you’ve ever crossed passed with, except for me is an idiot, which is also quite obvious, nobody observes John, a travesty."
"And that's what you do, observe."
"More or less, yes."
"So when you say observe?"
"When I say observe I mean I use my senses, sight, smell, touch, taste, everyone has their life story written on their faces, their clothes, their steps, I use my senses and read it."
"You're serious." At this Sherlock looks at John like he’s readjusting his character and demoting him.
"Was that a question or a statement?"
"I'm going to take that as a yes. Wow that is bloody amazing. “John says in one breathless puff. At this Sherlock stops walking and like always happens John walked a little ahead until he realized his walking partner was no longer at his side. Sherlock was just looking at him a bit startled again, like he just discovered something new and isn't sure what's the proper way to deal with it.
"I'm serious, that's brilliant, and you can do that to everyone?"
"You're serious." Sherlock still has that shocked awe look about him but now it was turning more into open curiosity. Smiling, John repeats Sherlock's earlier statement.
"It's a statement, don't be stupid John. It’s just, that's not what people usually say."
John a little lost in the direction their conversation has just taken asks to what he's referring to, Sherlock points to John as if that's the answer, regardless John understands.
"What do they usually say?"
"Piss off" Sherlock says this with a completely serious expression. Also a lot like it’s common knowledge, that must be a common tone for him. John can't help but smile and when he sees the reluctant, reflected smile he starts laughing heartily. It's relieving and confusing because he can't exactly pinpoint why he's laughing. When he hears a laugh that’s not his own he stops caring. When the laughter dies down he's still grinning. So is Sherlock.
"I still don't know anything about you."
“I go to Klippen camp."
"So you've heard of us." This just sends them into a short giggling fit.
"I don't even know your name."
"You have to earn that privilege."
"And I haven't?"
"Sherlock." At this point John just keeps smiling. "And why are you in the forest Sherlock? I assume it isn't to just terrorize people like me."
"Well it's the first day of camp."
"So shouldn't you be in camp?" Sherlock just stares blankly at John.
In reply John says, “Yes but I'm here on a dare, you never told me why you were here."
"Oh so it was a dare, brilliant got it right then."
"Wait, you guessed? I thought this was all observing."
"I never guess but sometimes I do have to make some logical leaps."
Tired of just standing around John starts walking in the direction he came from, Sherlock follows.
"So what was the dare?" Sherlock says as he puts his hands in his pockets.
"Oh some kid named Robbie, went to your camp apparently, said that initiation rites were part of your routine. Someone then very originally suggested we do the same. So someone else came up with the idea of going to Klippen camp and taking a memento or something."
"Hmm... I don't remember a Robbie, and I was at the camp last year. “Sherlock doesn't really look too beat up about not knowing a Robbie.
"What did you do to piss your parents off? I mean that's what Robbie said that camp was filled with, posh kids whose parents can't take for the summer." Sherlock just keeps walking and when he doesn't say anything and John doesn't add John just looks over and said “Privileged information?" Sherlock just nods.
"I don't think you’re the type of person to know someone like Robbie." John changes the subject.
"True I only know my roommate Lestrade and some people sprinkled about that have managed to catch my attention."
"Have I caught your attention?"
Feeling himself heat up a little John repeats himself. “Have I caug..."
"No I'm not asking you to repeat yourself I'm asking as to what you want as your answer. Would you like a yes or no, or some clarification as to whether I will keep this encounter in memory?"
"As you wish."
They keep on walking in companionable silence until Sherlock asks if he had gotten anything wrong, about the deductions he means.
"Well, you said siblings but I only have one, and you said that the reason I was talking to you was because of companionship but it's not, I'm just curious."
"Yes curious, I see that now, pardon my errors, I expect I won't have any by the time I'm twenty."
"You really do do this on a regular basis that is truly amazing." Sherlock just answers to this with another smile that does quite a lot for his face, John thinks. It's rewarding to know he has the ability to make someone so obviously smart like Sherlock smile, and not because he was laughing at him.
John notices that they are nearing his camp. Not wanting to go just yet he sits down beside a trunk and motions for Sherlock to do the same. After some prodding and blank stares he does just that. It’s a bit awkward at first but then they start some light conversation. They talk about their respective camps, some more of Sherlock’s deductions, (apparently the disregard for his shoes when walking through a forest, yet their previous state and age, indicated that he was disgruntled with the person who had given him his shoes, his mum). They don’t always talk, there are silences most often than not, but not all of them awkward. It is surprisingly easy. When the moon starts to come out and then disappear John decides it is time to head back. He tells this to Sherlock and before he leaves, Sherlock digs into his pocket and takes out a folded piece of paper. It is a schedule for the opening day at camp Klippin. "For your bet". John tales it and with a wave and uncoordinated shrug walks the last remaining half kilometer to camp. All the while a wistful smile marks his face. This camp was definitely a good choice.