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Graceless

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There’s power here, ancient and splintered. Fragments of magic and deception crack along the walls as he makes his way, the glamour of the building nearly shattering with each step he takes.

John raises a hand against a wall, fingers dragging along peeling paint and curling wallpaper, feeling the texture of smooth and broken shift between the tips of them, the illusion skipping erratically with his presence.

“I know you’re here,” he calls out, in an easy tone, slightly teasing and not nearly as intimidating as perhaps he would have liked.

He drags a foot deliberately along an ornamental rug, the golds and silvers of its beading catching his eye.

“Love what you’ve done with the place.” He continues, kicking a tassel of the rug, seeing it meld into the floorboards and flicker. Another illusion. A good one. Very old magic indeed. Familiar.

“Why don’t you come out?” He asks to the open halls, his voice echoing in the space of the Victorian house. If there is a house at all, he thinks and a shiver runs through him. How deep this magic goes, he doesn’t know. “We can settle this like men. No tricks.” And with his words a reverberating chuckle bounds, bouncing by walls and passing through him like a great breath.

Men,” comes the voice, a cavernous rumble that makes John’s canines ache, shoulders rising defensively.

He turns his heels slowly, hands raised to the vaulted ceilings as he grins, baring sharp white teeth. “Well, come on then,” he says, looking up, as if seeking an answer from the heavens. And I suppose I am, he thinks, and nearly chuckles at the absurdity. He continues turning, waiting, black boots scuffing hardwood and when he returns from his rotation, the angel is there.

No.

He lowers his hands slowly, settling them at his sides as he lifts his chin. “You.” Is all he says and the angel tilts his head, a lip curled in what John assumes is some semblance of a sad smile.

“Me.” He confirms and John widens his stance.

“They sent you to kill me?” John asks with a rueful, sad chuckle. “Didn’t work out so well for you last time.”

“No,” the angel confirms again. “I imagine this encounter will be different.”

John laughs, throwing his head back and howling, fangs glinting in the moonlight and the angel stares.

“Why would it be different?” John snarls, baring teeth and the angel looks stricken for a moment, before the impassive mask is reset.

“Because I’m here to take you home.”

Home. The cord is struck, and John can hear its ringing in his ears. His snarling grin must have faltered, for the angel takes a step toward him and John launches, fist catching against a hard shoulder before a gush of air, a soft down of feathers nearly brushing his face, nearly falling into nothingness as the angel disappears before him. The softness of it all infuriates him.

“Fight me!” He roars, spinning, body wound tight, so tight, needing something hard to pummel, something yielding to bite.

“John.”

He spins and throws blindly, and another soft whump, that comforting scent of home vaporizing before him. A single raven coloured feather seasaws through the air.

“God damn you, Sherlock!” He shouts, he screams, and there’s nothing in the space he can strike. Nothing he can grab and heave into the darkness.

An alarm is sounding within him and he sucks in an unnecessary breath, searching for a window, the red alert filling him with sudden fright.

“It’s nearly dawn,” the angel says and John turns again, feeling exhausted in so many ways, as Sherlock’s vast wings rise from his body like a great cape, sweeping the floor and shimmering with silver.

And Sherlock gives him that look, that sad, pitying look that fills John with hateful fury.

“I’m sorry.” Sherlock says and John’s knees loosen beneath him as the angel takes a step. And another. “I’m sorry.”

“Stop it!” He throws his arm, but instead of another waft of tossed air, Sherlock takes it right in the chest, fist striking him hard.

“It’s my fault.” Sherlock whispers, he might not be saying anything at all, but the words still hang in the air as if he had, breathing through John once more. “It’s my fault you’re…”

Fallen.

“Shut up!” John roars, and connects his left fist under the angel’s ribs. There’s a cough, and Sherlock takes a step back with the power behind his punch, wings expanding to correct his balance.

“Fight me!” and Sherlock shakes his head and John snaps fangs and the angel’s eyes go wide. “Fight me!”

“John,” and Sherlock looks so lost, so unlike himself, John’s alarm bells ring once more, of the trickery of this place. Of old magic and illusion.

“You can come home,” Sherlock repeats, sounding baffled and afraid and broken and John’s knees buckle, energy sapped as Sherlock catches him in the air.

“John,” a whisper into his hair even as John begins to shake, feeling exhausted as dawn approaches. “You can come home.”

John shakes his head, sharp teeth cutting into his mouth, lips dripping rich blood as Sherlock clings to him, wings enfolding them whole.

“I can’t,” he says back and Sherlock kisses him soundly. A press of dry lips against his blood-slicked ones but Sherlock doesn’t care, touching his jaw, his throat, the curve of his cheekbone with his thumb and he’s wiping his face of a blood-tinted tear that John hadn’t realized he’d shed.

“You can come home.” Sherlock repeats like prayer on his lips and John clenches his eyes tight.

Shut up. Shut up. Shut UP!

“John. My John.” And he’s shaking as Sherlock’s wings cradle him and John flinches at the touch. “They won’t burn you.” Sherlock whispers, throat tight, the pale column of his throat clenching as he reaches, running a hand through John’s hair, cupping the back of his head.

John stares at that throat as the fingers tighten and Sherlock watches him carefully as he leans in. His pale eyes never blinking, never leaving John’s own even as John’s blow wide and shark-like and the angel shifts his body.

The downy bits of feather smooth over his skin, not burning nor cutting, just the comfort of home as John clutches at them, fingers grasping as Sherlock kisses him once more.

“Come home to me, my John.” And he doesn’t move as he feels Sherlock descend upon him. He feels a hand on his belly, his back against hardwood and a touch between his legs as he closes his eyes and just grips the angel atop him.

The wings, large and all encompassing, dominant and muscled in a way that should be frightening, block out all light, moon and dawn, enfolding them tightly in their own darkness as Sherlock presses and John gasps as he’s filled with Sherlock’s grace.

“Sherlock,” he breathes and Sherlock moves within him, on him, inside his body and outside on his skin, his whole form quaking. Sherlock’s hands run over his shoulders, between the blades and down his spine, slim fingers pressing as he kisses a wet kiss to the corner of his mouth, nuzzling and stroking as John feels a sharp spike along his shoulders and he chokes out a sob as the grace expands within him. Sherlock moving quicker, his grace both brightening and shading in tandem and a split opens within him and he shouts.

Sherlock cries his name into John’s throat and John feels his back crack, shiver and heave, suddenly weighty as he falls flush to the floor.

Black and silver meet gold and bronze and John clutches the angel, swiping his tears from his face as he gives a choked smile into his dark hair.

 Graceless