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Until The Desert Knows

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Until the desert knows that
Water grows
his Sands suffice.

-Emily Dickinson


Sherlock just ignored the annoying knocking on the door, concentrating instead on the Mozart he was playing. Standing in front of the window as he played, he watched the activity on the green space below his room in the residence hall. Part of his mind, as always, was engaged in deducing the boring secrets of the students he was watching. He wanted to shout at them to stop being so dull and do something interesting. It was unlikely to happen, because, as his brother loved to point out, the universe did not sort itself out so as to amuse Sherlock Holmes. Sadly. [Although that sadness was only on his own part. Mycroft was amused.]

Probably whoever was knocking would go away, as usual.

But, instead, the door was suddenly flung open and Victor Trevor came in. “Dammit, Holmes,” he growled. “Why don’t you just answer your door like a normal person?”

Sherlock did not even bother to look at him. “I was trying to give a hint to whomever was knocking that I wanted them to piss off.”

“Oh, very nice,” Victor said with a sneer. “You are such a bastard.”

Apparently, just because one let a fellow fellate him a couple of times, that fellow then felt entitled to annoy at will. Sherlock just played more loudly.

Victor raised his voice. “I’m trying to do you a favor, actually. There’s a call for you.”

That news didn’t interest him at all, because the only person who ever called him was his horrid brother, which was why he’d finally turned off his mobile six days ago. Naturally Mycroft would then just ring the hall. Prat.

But Victor shook his head, as if he knew what Sherlock was thinking, which was, of course, ridiculous. “Not your brother,” he said, continuing to annoy.

Sherlock raised a brow.

“Says he’s an old friend.”

“I don’t have friends,” Sherlock snapped.

“Which is exactly what I told him,” Victor replied smugly. “He just laughed.”

Then Sherlock felt his stomach flutter. This was a call he had been expecting. And dreading. But he knew what had to be done, had known, really, since that day last summer when he looked at John Watson across the café table with its stupid candle and realised the truth. A truth that lacerated what passed as his heart, as if a Holmes even possessed such a thing. He carefully replaced the violin in its case and pushed past Victor to get out of the room.

Victor followed. “So who is it?”

Sherlock ignored him. He reached the old mahogany phone box and slid in, picking up the receiver. “Hello,” he said.


“Yes, John.”

“Hi. How are you?”

“Fine, of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” He could see Victor watching, trying to listen. Sherlock frowned at him.

“It’s just that we haven’t talked in a while.”

“Sixty-seven days,” Sherlock snapped.

“Oh. That long, really?” He could picture John’s small frown and the way he was undoubtedly dragging a hand through his brown-blond hair. “Sorry, I kept meaning to call, but the pre-med classes just keep me so fucking busy.”

“I’m sure.”

Something in Sherlock’s tone must have irritated John [of course] because he sighed and then snapped defensively, “You could have called me.”

“The last time I did you said that you were very busy trying to get a leg over with Mary and that you didn’t want to talk to me. Your exact words were ‘bugger off, Sherlock, I’m busy,’ I believe.” He was tired of Victor hovering and pulled the door of the cubicle closed loudly. Victor made a rude gesture and walked away.

“I didn’t mean…” John’s words trailed off. He paused. “I miss talking to you.”

Sherlock rested his forehead against the glass of the door. “Everyone told me that things would change when we went away to uni, John. I should have believed them.” He closed his eyes before saying the next words. “You don’t have to keep pretending that our shared history matters. We’re not children anymore.” He hoped his voice sounded coolly detached, although he was feeling anything but.

“Sherlock,” John whispered. “I don’t want to lose…”

There was a pause.

He could hear John take a deep breath. “That bloke who answered the phone sounded like a complete arse,” was what he said, an obvious and painful effort to change the subject. Lighten the mood. John did things like that. Someday Sherlock thought that he would forget all the things that John did. It might, of course, take decades.

Sherlock swallowed hard before speaking again. “Well, he is a complete arse. But, since I have allowed him to take my prick into his mouth a couple of times, he seems to think that gives him special prerogatives.”

Now there was a vast canyon of silence between them.

“Why the fuck would you tell me that?” John asked angrily.

Sherlock was the only one in this conversation who knew that it was probably the last time they would ever talk to one another and he felt as if that knowledge might make him vomit. His eyes were still closed. “What’s the matter? Are you allowed to tell me about the females you fuck, but I’m not allowed to talk about my sex life?”

“I didn’t know you had a sex life.” John’s voice was small.

“Well, you talk enough about yours for the both of us,” Sherlock ground out. He thought about all of the things he really wanted to say to John Watson and then, immediately, of all of the reasons he would [could] never say any of them.

Although it did make him wonder if it mattered whether he destroyed his friendship with John by denying what he felt or by confessing his true feelings. Sadly, one took more courage than the other and while Sherlock had never thought of himself as being a coward, it seemed that about this one thing he was. Life had been so much easier before he’d realised just how he felt about John Watson.

“Sherlock, you’re my best friend,” John said, sounding desperate now.

“All right.”

“Call me soon. Please?”

“Of course.” Sherlock hated himself for lying, but it was better this way. He had the rather dreadful feeling that those words were going to become the mantra of his life.

Better this way.

Well, it was better for him, certainly, because he didn’t think he could bear being only a best friend anymore. Better to be nothing at all, he thought, than to spend his life as a second choice. And to watch John being happy with his first choice. No, that didn’t bear thinking of. “Goodbye, John,” Sherlock said hollowly.

He hung up the phone very carefully.