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Glimpsing through the pages

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Maybe it was true – most things only made sense in hindsight.

~ ~ ~

“Mrs Hudson!” Sherlock shouted. “Dr Watson will take the room upstairs!”

“Says who?” John asked, puzzled.

“Says the man at the door,” Sherlock replied with a smirk, a second before someone knocked.

When John opened the door there stood Angelo, holding out his cane.

“Sherlock texted me. He said you forgot this.”

John turned to look at Sherlock and he grinned, broadly, looking almost proud of himself.

~ ~ ~

“I’d take a spare shirt if I were you,” Sherlock said one morning apropos of nothing, when John walked into the kitchen.

John looked at the pale green shirt he was wearing.

“What’s wrong with my shirt?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Sherlock said, idly turning a page of the newspaper he was reading.

“Okay,” John said. “Yes, that makes perfect sense.”

It was a warm day and John decided to walk to the surgery. As he turned a corner he collided with a woman who was walking briskly and talking on her phone.

“Oh my God!” the woman cried as her coffee spilled all over John’s shirt. She started to dab at it with a napkin, making the stains look, if possible, a little bit worse.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, red-faced and mortified “I– I’ll pay for the cleaning.”

It wasn’t until he got to the surgery and into the men’s toilets, trying to clean his shirt and himself as best as he could, that John remembered the odd remark Sherlock had made that morning.


“So… the other day,” John began, a couple of days later, while Sherlock was in his chair typing away on his laptop and he was on the sofa watching the evening news.

“I was wondering when you would ask,” Sherlock said without ceasing to type.


“You want to know how I knew about your shirt. Possibly about a few other things.”

“You did know then.”

Sherlock looked up from his laptop. “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure but yes, in this case I thought I could be reasonably certain.”

John tried to think of something intelligent to say and came up with nothing. “So,” he tried, tentatively, and then, since he had no idea how to go on, “What are you saying exactly?”

“I’m not saying anything. You haven’t asked any questions yet.”

And if that was how Sherlock was going to be, John thought he could be excused for being a bit too blunt.

“Are you a psychic?” he asked. Sherlock smiled, looking actually pleased.

“Precognitive,” he said.

“Oh.” John sat back on the sofa, putting his hands on his thighs. Clairvoyants weren’t unheard of, but not exactly common either. John could think of a fair number of institutions which would be willing to pay a tidy sum of money to employ the services of a seer. “Well, that does explain a lot.”

Sherlock snorted. “I doubt it.”


Sherlock shut the lid of his laptop and set it on the arm of his chair. “You think I can use my precognition as an aid to my work as a detective.”

“You don’t?” John asked, trying not to sound too sceptical.

“If I told you it’s more of a hindrance would you believe it?”

“That sounds a bit paradoxical.”

“And yet.” Sherlock steepled his fingers and assumed his typical thinking pose. “For a start, my visions are not as frequent as one would think. And most of the time they turn out to be completely useless, if not misleading.”

“How so?”

Sherlock seemed to consider the question.

“Think of it as glimpsing random words when flickering through a book of which you’ve read only a few pages,” he said. “An image, a word, even a sentence is useless when taken out of context, when there’s no frame of reference. Most of them only make sense in hindsight.”

“Hmm.” John turned back to the TV screen. “I don’t know. It might have saved me a nice shirt.”

“Well,” Sherlock said casually, picking up his computer again. “I did try to warn you.”

~ ~ ~

They were fleeting moments, and easy to miss. It might have been true what Sherlock said about his visions, that they weren’t actually that frequent, but John had reason to think he had been witness to at least two of these moments.
Once when handing Sherlock a mug of tea while he was busy studying a few drops of brackish water under the microscope. Their hands brushed briefly, Sherlock’s fingers tightened around the mug as his eyes glazed over.

“Sherlock?” John called him, concerned, and Sherlock blinked.

“Thank you, John,” he said, his gaze focused once more.

A moment of blankness, gone in the blink of an eye.

~ ~ ~

“It’s easier when I don’t think about them,” Sherlock confessed one day, as they sat on the sofa eating Chinese out of take-away boxes. “In fact it’s better not to think about them at all.”

“Better in what way?”

Sherlock didn’t immediately reply.

“People think of it as a gift,” he said eventually. “When I was younger I used to think I could use my precognition to my advantage, too. I would spend hours running something through my mind, over and over again, trying to puzzle out its meaning. Frustrating and confusing in the long run, not to mention utterly pointless. My brain became… addled.”

Sherlock used his chopsticks to fish a bit of chicken foo yung out of the container.

“Cocaine made it easier to forget, sometimes.”

~ ~ ~

The second time it happened, John was trying to update his blog as Sherlock stood in front of the window, playing the violin. Sherlock stopped in the middle of whatever it was he was playing for maybe a couple of seconds, then resumed as if nothing had happened.
John noticed the pause only because of the shift that came after – something very subtle, a change of key maybe, but the sweet melody suddenly turned sour.
The next day, John asked Sarah out. Sherlock tagged along and somehow managed to turn the whole evening into a disaster.
John tried very hard not to think about the possible connection, but he did wonder.


Visions were nebulous, vague things – it was quite possible that was the reason why Sherlock relied so much on facts and logic, why he had elevated deductive reasoning to a science.
Cases helped. Sherlock had told John as much, not that he needed any confirmation.

“Bored!” Sherlock growled, pacing around the sitting room like a caged lion.

“You could do the washing-up,” John suggested, trying not to let Sherlock distract him from the book he was reading.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I was being perfectly serious, actually. Don't you think it's about time you started doing your share of the housework?”

Sherlock threw himself on the sofa in the most melodramatic fashion.

“I could kill for a cigarette,” he said.

“Yeah, don’t even think about that.”

Sherlock glared at John. “I’ll tell you next week’s lottery numbers.”

“Ah!” John didn’t even try to hide his amused grin.

“Worth a try,” Sherlock mumbled darkly, resuming his wild pacing.

~ ~ ~

A madman started strapping people to bombs, leaving Sherlock clues like a cat bringing dead creatures to its owner’s doorstep, and for a while Sherlock stopped being bored. Two hostages were saved, a third died taking a dozen innocent people with her, but Sherlock didn’t seem particularly fazed.

“Did you know?” John asked quietly when they were both back at Baker Street, as Sherlock typed away on his phone, checking police reports.

“I suspected,” Sherlock said airily, and John felt overwhelmed by sudden anger.

“Then for God’s sake Sherlock, why didn’t you– ”

“Why didn’t I what?” Sherlock snapped, and when he looked up his eyes were ablaze. “What is it you think I should have done? I did my best, I solved the case on time! She was killed anyway.”

John took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. “You could have warned Lestrade.”

“It would have changed nothing,” Sherlock said bitterly. “It never does.”


They were examining the body of the man found on the riverbank, when Sherlock went from being crouched near the body to being sprawled on the ground, grey eyes wide open and unstaring.

“Sherlock?” Lestrade called, just as Sherlock’s whole body started to shake and contract violently, as if in the throes of an epileptic seizure. John rushed to him, crouching down and rolling him to his side.

“God, is he okay?” Lestrade asked, worried.

“I don’t know,” John replied. The convulsions stopped, and John checked Sherlock’s pulse. “Sherlock?” he called gently. Sherlock blinked, then gasped like a man surfacing from underwater.

“You okay?”

Sherlock sat up, much too abruptly, and John put a hand on his shoulder, trying to keep him down.

“Easy,” he said, but Sherlock pushed his arm away, looking confused, looking frightened.

“Sherlock,” John said, and Sherlock rasped, “I’m fine.”

John leaned back, giving him some space, and Sherlock rubbed a hand across his face, then tentatively got to his feet.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Lestrade asked incredulously as Sherlock started to stride away.

“I’ll be in touch,” Sherlock shouted, and John hurried to keep up with him.

~ ~ ~

Sherlock solved the mystery of Andrew West’s murder. Things seemed settled enough for the time being.

"I won't be in for tea. I'm going to Sarah's,” John announced.

Sherlock made a non-committed hum. If John noticed anything off about his behaviour he didn’t comment on it.

~ ~ ~

Darkness, and then light, glaring.
John opened his eyes, squinting against the brightness, and his nose was filled by the smell of chlorine.
His head ached.

“Good morning bright eyes,” someone singsonged, and John turned trying to identify the speaker. The sudden movement gave him whiplash.

“Don’t worry, the drug will wear off soon,” the man said, stepping forward and into the light.

“You,” John breathed.

Jim flashed him a smile. “Surprise.”


They waited. And waited. John felt nauseous. His right leg kept trembling.

“Remember the instructions,” Jim breathed into his ear. “Or dear Sherlock will find himself with a bullet in his brain.”

“I bought you a little present,” Sherlock’s voice echoed in the still air.

“Time to enter the scene,” Jim whispered, and John took one step, then another, and another, his feet like lead.

“Evening,” he said, voice unexpectedly steady, and Sherlock spun around, facing him.

“John,” he said, voice flat.

“This is a turn-up, isn’t it Sherlock?” John repeated after Jim.

“Not quite,” Sherlock said, and slowly took a gun – John’s gun – out from behind his back, pointing it at John’s face, resolute and steady.

No, John thought, suddenly deafened by the beat of his racing heart, and from behind him came Jim’s shrill voice, inappropriately gleeful.

“Oh, you got it so very wrong,” he said. John heard his footsteps as he walked out of his hiding place. He couldn’t turn, instead he watched Sherlock’s face as it creased in confusion for a split second, before he pointed the gun at Jim and away from him.

“You don’t remember me,” Jim said. “How disappointing.”

He stepped closer, still wearing his sickening grin. “Jim. Jim from IT?”

“You,” Sherlock said.

“So, you didn’t see this coming.”

“No,” Sherlock said. “I can’t say that I have.”

“Interesting,” Jim said. “You see, we’ve got something in common, you and I.”

“Oh?” Sherlock said, feigning polite interest.

“Yes,” Jim said. “Only we chose to take some rather different paths.”

“So it would seem.”

“Please, don’t think of me as some common criminal. I’m a specialist. Like you.”

“A specialist,” Sherlock slowly repeated. “You were behind it all. You helped Monkford disappear, you helped Raoul de Santos plan Connie Prince’s murder…”

“I killed Carl Powers.”


“I get bored. You know how it is.”

“I’ve never strapped innocent people to explosive vests.”

“No, you haven’t, have you? You would have been a bit more fun, perhaps.”

John noticed how Sherlock tightened his grip on the gun. Apparently Moriarty did too, because he said, “I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“You pull the trigger, and one of my snipers shoots your pet.”

A red dot appeared on John’s chest as he spoke. Sherlock glared at Moriarty, his eyes alight with icy fury.

“This has been so much fun boys, but I have a schedule to stick to, so… Now that I’ve got your attention.”

“What do you want?” Sherlock asked, his words clipped.

“Just give you a friendly warning. You’d better stay out of my way, dear. You know what happens if you don’t leave me alone?”

“Oh, let me guess,” Sherlock drawled. “I get killed.”

“Don’t be obvious,” Moriarty said. “I’m going to kill you anyway, someday. If you don’t stop prying though… I’ll burn you. I’ll burn the heart out of you.”

There was a moment of chilling silence, filled only by John’s heavy breathing and the soft sound of the water lapping against the tiles of the pool.

“I’m going to let you go, this time,” Moriarty said. “But don’t worry, we’ll see each other again. Now, I must be off! Oh, and tell big brother his help won’t be needed tonight.”

Sherlock kept the gun trained on him as he walked out.

~ ~ ~

“I’m fine,” John stuttered as Sherlock ripped the vest off of him. “Sherlock, I’m fine.”

“Of course you are,” Sherlock said.

“Calm down.”

“I am calm!” Sherlock said, a bit too forceful, his voice a bit too high. He took a deep breath, then handed John his gun. “Come on. My brother is waiting outside.”


“You called your brother,” John said in disbelief, as a man he had never seen before drove them to Baker Street in a black Sedan.

“Obviously I took some precautions,” Sherlock said.

~ ~ ~

It wasn’t until they were both home and the adrenaline had started to wear off that John remembered to ask.

“You thought it was me,” he said. Sherlock’s jaw tightened and he looked away.

“As I said, one can never be 100 per cent certain– ”

“You thought it was me. You came to the pool tonight convinced that I was waiting there for you, that I had set you a trap.”

Sherlock raised his chin, defiant. “So?”

“So?” John echoed. “So? Are you completely insane? You could have been killed. In fact we both went terribly close to it tonight. Not to mention the fact that you kept living under the same roof as me even when you thought I was a murdering psychopath! But so what!”

Sherlock licked his lips. “I was trying to understand. You proved to be… most intriguing.”

“Because you thought I was an evil mastermind.”

“No,” Sherlock said. “Because it was you.”

John handed Sherlock his mug of steaming tea and their hands brushed. Sherlock eyes looked a little glazed, his lips wet.

“You’re such an idiot,” John said, overwhelmed by a surge of affection, and pressed a kiss to the madman’s mouth. Sherlock smiled.

“You knew,” John accused.

“Not quite,” Sherlock said. “But yes.”

~ ~ ~

“John?” Sherlock asked, a week later, as they lay in John’s bed. “Are you allergic to bee stings?”

John frowned. “No, not that I know of,” he answered. “Why?”

“Oh, no reason,” Sherlock said, nuzzling up against John’s shoulder. “Just thought I’d better ask.”