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A Little Birdie Told Me

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“A little birdie told me, that you were very, very naughty.” John said while glaring daggers at the man knelt before him. His face was bloodied, the handy work of his henchmen.

A muffled noise that sounded like his name escaped the captured man’s split lips. His jaw was definitely broken… incompetent henchmen , John corrected himself. How on earth would he be able to interrogate his captured spy, if he couldn’t speak?

“Get out.” John snapped at the two buffoons holding the tall curly-haired man down. Their hands left the captive’s shoulder and retreated from John’s office. Once the doors were closed, he switched on the lamp on his table and looked at the spy intently. He was somewhat familiar, but his face was too swollen to tell.

“-ohn -- John.” The spy barely whispered, struggling with the pain on his face, but John heard him.

“How did you know my name? Tell me, who are you?” His hand now on the spy’s throat, slowly clenching his fist, feeling the spy’s pulse beating faster and harder. Twenty five seconds was more than enough to give him a taste of blacking out painfully, then John released his hand.

The spy took a deep breath and choked. “Matt and Mindy.”

Matt and Mindy.

Oh god. This cannot be real, John thought.

 

 

John Watson had always been a unique child. Since he turned three, he realised that he could understand chirps from the sparrows that nested in the corner of his window. How exciting it was going to the zoo! He thought everyone was like him, until his fourth year of primary school.

On his second day in year four, he found a lush oak tree in the school garden, and there lived family of sparrows. Ever since he discovered that spot, he would go there during break, and share his snacks with the birds. They would sing him songs, tell him stories of where they’d been, what they had seen, and all the interesting things he couldn’t see from the ground.

“Look! John’s playing Snow White again! What a girly girl!” They would jeer and make fun of him. All the boys and all the girls. Snow White, an old Disney movie, about a princess escaping into the forest, singing and dancing with wild animals.

John thought it was normal, talking to birds and running around the forest with them…

Until someone told him otherwise.

He was eleven that year. Over the past four years he had spent at least half an hour every school day under the oak tree. He saw three generations of this sparrow being born. Matt and Mindy were the first sparrow pair he had met when he was seven, they are now grandparents to a flock of eighteen baby sparrows.

One afternoon, mid-August, he sat under the tree, listening to the baby sparrows playing, some of them crying because they were afraid of flying, leaving their nest. Suddenly, he heard a thud next to him, he turned to see Mindy on the ground, beak twitching weakly.

She was dying from old age. Her last chirps told John how happy she was to have known him, and she told him Matt would follow after her soon, and trying to comfort John.

“It’s nature, John. We were happy, and seeing you grow up, a little, was nice. Don’t be sad. Our children, grandchildren and all their children will be here for you, always.”

A few minutes later, Matt fell off their nest too.

That evening, John planned a small funeral for Matt and Mindy. He borrowed the gardener’s shovel and dug two small holes right underneath their nest. The flock of sparrow perched themselves on John’s shoulder, head, arms… anywhere they could, just to be with the boy.

John cried, letting his tears drop onto the freshly covered graves. He never had any friends until Matt and Mindy. They were his friends. They shared his lunches, sometimes they brought berries for him during snack time.

“Why are you crying?” A voice behind him startled John. He turned around, and saw another student with black curly hair, holding a pile of books, standing there, staring at John.

“My friends. It’s their funeral… now.” John sniffed, his words barely audible.

“But they’re just… birds? Sparrows to be exact. Would you mind if I took their carcasses for an experiment?”

“NO!” John cried. “How… how could you even ask! They are my friends! I won’t let you have them for an experiment … how do you think Matt and Mindy’s family would feel?”

“Matt… and Mindy? Did you name them?” The boy was now sitting next to John, books abandoned on the side.

John nodded. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you.” He held out his hand for a him to shake, “I’m John. John Watson.”

“Sherlock… Holmes.”

John found out Sherlock was not a student in his school, but his older brother Mycroft was in the same year. Sherlock had stolen his brother’s old uniform, and had sneaked into the library and lab. He was an odd fellow, almost as odd as John was. Sherlock started to visit John more often under the oak tree during lunch and break time, often spending their weekends reading under the tree while the sparrows sang.

When the winter got too cold to go out, John brought the sparrows home. His mother was more than happy to accommodate, but his father wasn’t too happy with the noise all day all night. Which was why when Sherlock offered to house them in the shed at his home, John was delighted.

It also gave John an excuse to visit Sherlock more often.

“Sherlock, they’d like to thank you for letting them stay here.”

“Don’t be an idiot, John. They can’t feel gratitude. Animal brains are not developed--”

“Yes they can.”

“No they can’t!”

“Yes they bloody well can!”

“Then prove it!”

John held out his palm and the firstborn of Matt and Mindy perched himself on the edge of his index finger. He whispered to the sparrow, it chirped loudly a few times, before a group of them flew out of the shed.

“Where are they going?”

“Proving that they can understand me, and I them.”

“By doing what?”

“Fetching our favourite biscuits from your kitchen.”

Sherlock was in disbelieve. His mouth was open as he tried to process the possibility of that happening.

“You… you mean you c-- can… ugh! I can’t think!” Sherlock started to pace around the small shed.

Few minutes later, the sparrows came back with a piece of biscuit each and dropped them on Sherlock’s hair. In his confusion, Sherlock’s hair was flocked by the younger sparrows, all trying to get a piece of biscuit.

“You really can.”

“They like your hair. Said it felt like Matt and Mindy’s nest.”

“I take very good care of my hair, if nothing else.”

John snorted. “Sure you do.” His face fell, realising what just happened. “Am I the only one who can do this?”

“Communicate with birds? I’m sure you’re the only one John. Don’t be an idiot.” Sherlock scoffed, whistling along with the sparrows.

 

 

“Sherlock.” John pulled himself out of his memories while staring at the grown up version of his long lost best friend.

“John. Found you...” Sherlock whispered.

 

 

When John was sixteen he had lost both his parents. Sherlock was thirteen, far away in a boarding school. On the day of his parents’ funeral, Matt and Mindy’s offsprings where there with him. His relatives all gave him odd looks, some even thought it was John that caused their death, being weird and cursed .

Cursed. Just because he always preferred birds’ company over people.

Weird because he only had one friend, another weirdo, Sherlock Holmes.

After the funeral, John kept to himself, living in isolation. He kept in touch with Sherlock via letters, and eventually emails in their early twenties, but moving from one place to another made it difficult for them. When John turned eighteen, he was left out of the social care system, struggling to survive. Eventually over the years, he found himself involved with a criminal organisation through a security job.

Throughout all these, John never forgotten Sherlock. When his life was stable enough to get back in touch with his best friend, John found his emails bounced and letters returned, unopened. Sherlock’s family had moved from where they lived when they were younger. He tried to dispatch his sparrows in search for Sherlock, but to no avail, and any search for someone named Sherlock Holmes came up empty, as if he never existed.

All this time, John kept his secret to himself. He made new acquaintances, hung out in different social groups, and worked his way up the chain of command, but never a single day went by where he would not think of his only human friend.

 

John Watson was now one of the most feared mafia enforcers in London. Except for his childhood friend, he had not disclosed his ability to anyone else, and he was sure Sherlock hadn’t told anyone either.

Climbing through the ranks of this organisation was easy, with the help of his sparrow friends. Although they had emotions and will, animals has no sense of right or wrong. To them, John was their family. Every generation after Matt and Mindy knew who he was, and he loved them to a fault. Took care of them during the winters, and made sure they had enough space in his flat. He even refurbished a room specifically for them. The sparrows started gathering intel for him, spying on people and using those to his advantage. People around John just assumed he was an avid bird hobbyist.

John Watson did not get where he was on his own, but with his little feathered friends.

 

“Where have you been?” John knelt in front of Sherlock, hugging the man. He didn’t care if there were blood stains on his shirt, all he wanted to do was to hold his best friend, his first crush, his first love.

He felt Sherlock slump against him lifelessly, the man had passed out.

 

Sherlock tried to open his eyes. His lips are dry, painful, and he couldn’t move his jaw. Thirsty - that’s what it was… but everything else felt nice. It was warm, soft and smelt like… John.

It smelt like John and those god damned sparrows!

A few months after he was moved into a boarding school, Sherlock heard from his parents that John was orphaned with his sister. They had offered to let him stay at the Holmes’ estate, but the Watsons’ aunt had refused, insisting that they stay with her. To Sherlock, it was obvious she was only interested in the money she’d receive in child tax credits.

Over the years, Sherlock struggled to stay in touch with John, who had moved out of his aunt’s home, and no one knew where he went.

“You won’t be able to get in touch with me while I move out and settle down on my own. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Stay well.

Yours, John.”

It was the last email Sherlock received from John and he hadn’t bothered replying, knowing that John would get in touch with him when he had settled down… except he didn’t.

It took Sherlock years after university to find traces of John in London. To find John, he had to owe Mycroft favours. Eventually, John came up on his radar. Sherlock wasn’t sure if John would even remember him, or, if he did, if he even cared if Sherlock was there.

To be safe, he infiltrated John’s circle, finding out more before he approached John. It should have been fairly easy to blend in, given that he was a drug user...

How wrong he was.

The sparrows picked him out almost immediately. It was only Sherlock’s fifth day working in John’s ‘office’ before he was caught. He was beaten, and dragged into John’s office, wrists and ankles bound. They broke his jaw, bruised his ribs and made sure he broke a few teeth.

All that seemed so far away, so vague and distant.

“Sherlock?” He heard John calling for him.

Sherlock hummed and twitched his finger in response. John’s hand was warm against his own, probably cold, and it felt stiff. He tried to smile, but his face hurts. His facial muscles felt sore, and there were splits on both lips that required stitches.

“Do you want something to drink?” John asked, standing up, his face hovering close to Sherlock’s.

A nod from Sherlock sent John to the other side of his room. Sherlock opened his left eye, as his right wouldn’t open, and saw John pouring a glass of water from the table. He placed a straw in the cup, before turning around. Sherlock quickly closed his eye, pretending to still be unconscious.

John placed the cup of water on the side table and let out a huff.

“Knocked out again huh. Must’ve pumped you full of drugs there.”

Sherlock slowly realised John was talking to himself.

“You know, for a genius, you’re really a massive idiot. How stupid do you need to be to infiltrate a criminal organisation, and get caught within a week?” John sighed, long and loud, before holding Sherlock’s hand again, “if my men had killed you, I would’ve killed them and then killed myself. If I had known it was you…”

“What?” Sherlock croaked out. His throat was uncomfortably dry. “Water, please.”

John released his hand abruptly when Sherlock spoke. He gave Sherlock some water to drink, standing up, he grabbed his jacket, wanting to leave. He should have guessed Sherlock wasn’t really asleep. He shouldn’t have said it out loud. Now, being a mafia boss, and hopelessly in love with a friend he hadn’t seen for years, it would be enough to scare Sherlock away.

“Sit down John.”

John obeyed, surprising himself.

“Why would you have killed yourself?”

“Because…” I might as well go out with a bang , John thought. “Because you would’ve been dead by my hands… There wouldn’t be enough reason to live, would there? It would have broke my heart, if you had been killed by my hands… On my orders...” Tears escaped the corner of John’s eyes. He wasn’t sure if they were tears of relief, or from the thought of losing Sherlock for good.

“Don’t.” Sherlock lifted their clasped hand and wiped the tears off John’s cheek. “I’m alive.”

“You have no idea how hard it was. Where have you been? I tried to find you, even the birds couldn’t.”

“You have no idea how hard it was to find you... Mycroft’s been hiding me. I’d hardly surprised if I don’t exist in any public database.” At the mention of Mycroft, John flinched, and Sherlock knew why.

“I’m not part of them. Just… myself. I’ve started my own business. Just me. No one else.”

“Oh, Sherlock. I’ve missed you,” John leaned closer to Sherlock, laying his head in the crook of Sherlock’s neck. “Missed you so damned much!” His tears now had a mind of their own, falling freely, soaking the pillow underneath Sherlock’s neck.

“I’ve missed you too John.” He heard a quiet beep from the machine, knowing that it is pumping a fresh dose of morphine into his body. “Stay with me, please,” he turned his head, mumbling against John’s forehead.

“Yes, always.” Were the last words Sherlock heard John said, before sinking into a dreamless sleep.

 

Eight months later, John found himself reading in his living room, listening to the quiet clinks of glass laboratory equipment, along with Sherlock’s mumblings in the kitchen.

For years, he had thought that Sherlock was a figment of his imagination, along with Matt and Mindy, but the letters Sherlock and he had kept proved otherwise.

When Sherlock was discharged from the hospital, John offered to let him stay in his flat.

John had not thought twice about it after finding Sherlock’s website - The Science of Deduction, seeing his friend listed as William Scott, Consulting Detective. After further investigation by his men, he realised William Scott had been the alias Sherlock had been using all this time.

There was no doubt Sherlock was here on his own accord. In that same hospitalised week, Mycroft had visited and Sherlock lied for John, covering up the older man’s ties with the mafia, nevermind the fact he was in charge of the London wing.

Within a month, Sherlock had moved into Baker Street, officially, with John.

Three months later, John moved himself into Sherlock’s bedroom.

Today was John’s first day of unemployment.

Giving up his criminal empire wasn’t difficult. Afterall, Mycroft Holmes had had his eye on it for a long time. Surrendering his empire and enemies to Mycroft was easy, once he had put caution to the wind, allowing his men to disperse before the British Government dropped the gavel.

In return, John Hamish Watson was quietly removed from their records.

Today is his first day in this new life, starting from a clean slate, with the love of his life bumbling nearby, and his family of sparrows chirping happily in the bedroom upstairs, settling in for a life of quiet domest--

“Fuck!” Sherlock swore, as John heard glass breaking with the quiet hiss of acid in the background.

So much for quiet domesticity.

John would rather have a chaotic life if it meant Sherlock was in it.

“Aluminium hydroxide in the second cupboard to the right under the sink.” John said, as he pulled the kitchen stools away from where acid had spilled. “Did you hurt yourself?” He asked, grabbing Sherlock’s hand, as he had noticed some small burns and cuts on his fingers.

“Kiss it better?” Sherlock looked down at John with puppy dog eyes, and the completely smitten older man did as he was asked.

“Feel better?” John asked before he released Sherlock’s hands to hold the taller man’s face, smiling against his lips.

“Yes, always.”