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Things They Don't Talk About

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Captain Gregson’s hand falls heavily on Sherlock’s shoulder at the end of a successfully concluded case, and Sherlock struggles not to shiver. The captain squeezes, just once; his voice is warm, rich with approval as he says “Good work.”

Sherlock does not accept his invitation to go for drinks with Bell and the other detectives. But Sherlock does knock on his door later that night, twitchy and eager. The captain’s hands are just as forceful as he pushes Sherlock to his knees; just as affirming as he coaxes Sherlock to give up more, and more, and more, until Sherlock’s brain finally shuts off and he becomes nothing more than a hole for the captain to fuck.

There’s a difference to the warmth in the captain’s voice, after.

The captain isn’t much for breakfast, but he sends Sherlock on his way with a mug full of his best coffee, the whole bean French Roast he saves for the weekends rather than the pre-ground horror that is his usual fare.

They don’t talk about it.

* * *

Captain Gregson’s fist print is a lurid mix of purple and green on his abdomen when Sherlock knocks again.

Gregson twitches as if to slam the door in Sherlock’s face, but ultimately waves Sherlock inside. The coffee table is covered in half-empty Chinese take-out containers and fully-drained bottles of beer. Gregson plods back to the couch and settles heavily, eyes fixed on the television and its flickering sports highlights.

Sherlock stands for a moment, waiting to see if any instruction will follow, but when Gregson continues to ignore him he unwinds his scarf, hangs it and his coat on the rack by the door, then drops to his knees at Gregson’s side.

Without even glancing at him, Gregson growls “Up.” Sherlock hastens to comply, but the only further action from Gregson is a long swallow from his bottle.

Sherlock waits, and waits, eyes skittering around the apartment, brain too jittery to draw any deductions from what he observes. The silence stretches out between them, and with each passing second Gregson seems further away.

Finally, Sherlock huffs in frustration and yanks off his sweater and t-shirt, all in one motion. “Come now, Captain. Hit me again. Work out some of that anger. You know I can take it.”

Gregson sits very still for a moment, then a moment more. He takes another long pull from his bottle. Then, as if pulling the word from some great depth, he says quietly, “No.”

Sherlock opens his mouth to protest and Gregson finally turns to look at him. His eyes are ice cold, mouth set in a bleak line. “I said no, Holmes. You can’t respect that, you get out of my house right now.”


He slams his bottle down. The chopsticks precariously perched on the carton of General Tso’s give up their battle against gravity, toppling onto the stained wood of the tabletop. Sherlock is so focused on their flight he nearly blocks out Gregson’s curt final command.


Gregson doesn’t say another word, and eventually Sherlock leaves.

* * *

After the playacting at the hospital, after the paperwork, Tommy gathered himself and headed to the brownstone. At his knock, Ms. Watson opened the door with a surprised, “Captain Gregson! Has something happened?”

Tommy winced slightly, scrubbing his hands through his hair. “No. I’m not here on official business.”

He watched as Ms. Watson pulled on her deducing face, the one so unnervingly reminiscent of Holmes’s. He saw her note his lack of badge and gun, the fact that he had showered and changed into casual clothes. She sniffed, subtly, likely noticing the light cologne; she definitely clocked his lack of wedding band.

She gave one startled blink as she got it, then blessedly didn’t comment at all.

Instead, she just nodded approvingly and started gathering her coat. “Sherlock’s in the library. I was just heading out—“ a lie, but not one Tommy would begrudge her – “to meet a friend. I probably won’t be back for a few hours.”

Tommy bemusedly handed her her scarf and her cell phone, then locked the door behind her as she made herself scarce.

The silence she left behind was broken by a low buzzing, appearing and disappearing at seemingly random intervals. Tommy followed it, not really surprised to discover Holmes twisted half into a pretzel and wielding his tattoo gun on his right calf.

They’ve never talked about their words. Tommy’s always been grateful his are on the inside of his bicep, a spot easily kept private; he doesn’t much appreciate that strain of person that treats everybody’s soulmarks like public property, demanding the story behind them on the briefest acquaintance. So he never asks, because he doesn’t want to tell.

Of course he noticed Holmes’s line; it has always made all the sense in the world to him that Holmes would fall in love at someone saying “You’re not boring at all, are you?” But while he had assumed, from Holmes’s broken heart, that the words belonged to the late Irene Adler, he never wanted the confirmation to come quite like this.

Holmes’s hand was trembling, minutely; it didn’t affect his tattooing, however, because steadiness wasn’t required to simply blot out the feminine cursive with the darkest black ink Tommy had ever seen.

Tommy just watched for a bit, but as Holmes began yet another pass, drawing still more blood with the pressure of the gun in his unsteady hand, Tommy stepped forward and set his hands gently down on Holmes’s shoulders. Holmes jerked, betraying his obliviousness to his surroundings, and Tommy carefully took the machine from him and shut it off.

“That’s enough, Sherlock.”

He wiped the leg clean and delicately taped a large gauze pad across the black gash. Holmes was too silent and too still throughout.

When he had finished with his first aid, Tommy took Holmes’s face between his hands, raising it to the light. He had never seen Holmes look so young.

The moment seemed to call for something, but the only words that came to mind Tommy knew Holmes would discard as trite, empty. Eventually, Tommy just drew Holmes forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead.

Holmes shuddered violently, once; when Tommy looked down his eyes were squeezed shut and his fingers were drawn into fists. Tommy let his hands fall to Holmes’s shoulders again and eased back a little, but he didn’t entirely leave Holmes’s personal space. He waited.

Slowly, Holmes relaxed. When he began to sway towards Tommy, Tommy carefully wrapped an arm around his shoulders to take his weight. They leaned for a minute, then Tommy used a little pressure to coax Holmes to his feet.

“Come on. You’ve been up for days. Let’s get you upstairs and into bed.”