The G Major scale. By far the easiest scale a beginning violinist can learn and a failsafe warm up for any musician really. It can be an excellent way to tune one’sinstrument and hone it to the perfect pitch, but for Sherlock it just won’t do. No, the scales are too mundane, too basic for his skills. Most musicians focus on scales as a vital part of their repertoire, claiming that knowing one’s scales makes one a more superior musician than those that just muddled through them. However, Sherlock begs to differ. While scales do in fact teach one the basic structure of the notes on the staff and, of course, the proper fingerings for each of those notes, he has to argue their uselessness in his skill set.
Too many musicians practice their scales slowly and repetitively, focusing on the notes themselves instead of what they actually mean. As a professional musician, Sherlock finds this more than a bit irritating. Scales are designed for teaching purposes only. Once one is confident enough to play through a triple-octave scale in all twenty-four major and minor keys, one should most definitely begin mixing the scales up a bit. Musical notes are meant to be toyed with and rearranged so that they can be heard in a different way. The possibilities that lie within something as basic as the G Major scale are positively endless! There are too many variables to ignore: differences in bowing patterns, tempos, articulations, rhythms, and, oh the glorious beauty that is vibrato… But, naturally, Sherlock seems to be alone in his way of thinking; so he resigns himself to lazing in the soloist chair and plucking at the strings of his Stradivarius in a fit of irritation.
The rest of the orchestra members are bustling about, rushing this way and that in preparation for the day’s rehearsal. The clarinet and saxophone sections are chattering on about which brand of reed each of them prefers while the pit percussion are doing their best not to upend the heavy set of Deagan chimes as they attempt to move it into position. As amusing as it would be to see the chaos that would ascend if such a scenario did take place, Sherlock honestly has no desire to see such an expensive instrument - yes, very expensive. Must have cost upwards of around £8,000 - reduced to nothing but a bit of broken pipes and framework.
He clears his throat to catch the attention of the frustrated percussionists and dips his head, indicating the small set of wheels at the instruments base. “The locking mechanism is still engaged on the right front leg. Do try to check each one next time so that we may avoid the imminent disaster of idiots such as yourselves,” he sneers. The timpani player shoots him an extremely dirty look, but the man behind the marimba steps in and directs his attention to the base of the chimes and they leave him be.
Deep down, Sherlock knows he shouldn’t rile them up, but the temptation is hard to resist. Truth be told, the entire ensemble has been a bit on edge as opening weekend approaches and they’re all still adjusting to yet another change in conductor. There have been three so far that have all walked out in a fit of rage and frustration and each incident had seen Sherlock as it’s cause. Granted, he isn’t sorry for any of their losses and finds that it suits him perfectly well that they each so easily relinquished their claim to the podium.
It’s Mrs. Hudson, though, that he does feel slightly guilty for disappointing. As the owner and operator of the orchestra, she always goes to quite a bit of trouble trying to find someone who is up to accepting the challenge that is Sherlock Holmes. Most are more than willing to praise his skills as a famed musician, but it isn’t a secret that he can be quite difficult to work with. It isn’t his fault that he turned out to be a bit of a prodigy at the tender age of seven. Interestingly enough, prodigy or not, his reputation for being difficult almost always precedes him. Being labeled as quite the ‘prima-donna’ has caused many conductors to give the orchestra a rather wide berth whenever the position becomes available, which it almost always is.
This new one, however, has been different. Something about him and the way he carries himself gives Sherlock a run for his money. It isn’t that he doesn’t like the man per se, but he senses something in him that he hasn’t been able to deduce yet. Sure, he’s able to see that he was clearly a doctor at some point in his life - the precision of his hands and his incredibly patient demeanor are testament enough - and he knows that that dream was inevitably cut short after a seriously traumatic incident that left him with an intermittent tremor in his left hand. Not suitable for surgery anymore, then. He’s deduced that the man had been a clarinet player since his early school days; private lessons and the lark, naturally, but he still feels that he’s missing something.
Before he can retreat any further into his mind place to dissect the man further, the office door swings open and the conductor and Mrs. Hudson make their way up to the stage.
“That’s all very well with me, dear! You do whatever you think is best. I’m not your boss, John Watson; you know way more about this sort of thing than I do,” Mrs. Hudson laughs, taking the hand that the conductor, John, extends to her to help her climb the steps onto the stage. He places a hand just near enough to the small of her back to keep her from toppling backward before skipping up behind her.
John flashes her a brilliant, but grateful smile and glances down at his shoes. “Thank you, Mrs. Hudson, but I do have to argue that you are, in fact, my boss and I do hope you know that I wouldn’t take any liberties concerning the orchestra or our performances without consulting you first,” he states, pausing for a moment as the older woman places a hand on his forearm to draw his attention back up to her face.
Her other hand comes up to pat his cheek, fondly, and she lets out a quiet laugh, “I think I should know you better than that by now, John dear, so that will be quite enough of that. I trust you and I know you mean well. Let’s just take it all in stride, shall we?” she says with a smile and goes to take her seat in the wings.
The exchange is intriguing and alarming, but Sherlock lets it go for now, giving John a once over as he approaches the podium. He raps his knuckles against the metal music stand in front of himself to call the ensemble to attention and runs through a list of announcements that Sherlock all but tunes out. He’s too busy analysing the perfectly tailored cut of the blazer John is wearing and can’t help but notice how the dark charcoal color pairs very well with his usual dark wash jeans. Going for a bit of a business casual look.
‘Why do you care?’ his mind supplies and the accusation catches him off guard. He sits a little straighter in his chair and straightens the music on his stand, even though he doesn’t need it. He’s had the entire set memorised since the first week of rehearsals and finds the clutter of loose sheets to be quite annoying, anyway.
Deep in his own mind, Sherlock is once again startled but this time it’s by John. He’s directed his full attention at the violinist and it takes him a moment to realise that the conductor has called on him to warm up the ensemble and begin their tuning exercises. It’s a tedious matter, but, as concert master - or chief violist, it is one of his slightly more enjoyable duties. He can’t deny that he’s a bit of a show off and enjoys the satisfaction he gets from telling the rest of the orchestra what they’re doing wrong.
With a nod of his head, he stands and steps up to the podium as John steps down, motioning for him to take his place. The smile that the shorter man offers does not go unnoticed; it’s warm and welcoming, but tight. It’s almost as if he’s extending an olive branch and hoping Sherlock will take it and attempt to play nice today. ‘Not likely,’ he thinks, making a point to maintain eye contact with the conductor as he tucks the Strad under his chin and raised his bow.
“B Flat concert scale in whole notes, mezzo forte,” he says, adjusting his fingerings before nodding to John to set the tempo with a metronome. The staccato tick-tick-tick-tick of the device beats out a steady pace - moderato - and Sherlock counts them off. “One, two, one, two, ready, play,”.
The sound is pleasant and round, at first, as each section of instruments joins in. The slow ascent and descent of the notes is fairly well done until the last couple of notes where Sherlock can hear a very distinct dissonance in the woodwind section. The difference in pitch is murder on his ears and he snarls out a growl of frustration without even bothering to call for a ‘horns down’.
He snaps his bow out at once, taking aim at the first chair seated in the piccolo section. “For God’s SAKE, how is it that neither of you seem to be able to even come CLOSE to the correct pitch of the base note? You should know by now that your instrument is one of the hardest to keep on pitch and I'm honestly beginning to question what qualifies you to be musicians. Seriously, Molly, how do you tune two piccolos? YOU SHOOT ONE!”
His shouts are thunderous and he can John’s shocked expression out of the corner of his eye; his mouth gaping open as Sherlock rounds on the baritone section. “And you, with the HP stain on your trousers! What in God’s name was that last note? Can you breathe properly or are you an asthmatic? I’ve seen better chops on a red light district whore!”
His irritation is mounting, now, and it frustrates him beyond belief that people truly can be this daft. It’s music; it isn’t rocket science! Music is feeling and emotion, no matter what you’re playing, and if you can’t be arsed to care about every note you play, why bother playing at all?
John has apparently had enough at this point, because his face is red and he is fuming with shock and rage when his voice booms across the stage. “SHERLOCK!!” he shouts, and Sherlock knows that the vein in his temple must be visible, by now. It’s only the first warmup and he’s already lost his patience, but, to be fair, Sherlock has jumped straight into his insults this go around. “Outside… NOW!” John snarls at him, fixing him with a pointed look that is both a challenge and a threat.
Sherlock raises an eyebrow at John in feigned confusion, but he knows the shorter man isn’t falling for his shit, today. With a sigh of resignation, he steps down from the podium and makes his way to the stage exit. It isn’t long at all before John joins him in the small corridor behind the stage and begins to pace. The short blond hairs at the back of his neck have bristled in his anger and the flush of his face brings out the slightly greying patches that dot his fringe.
The conductor finally tilts his gaze up to Sherlock’s face and his lips are pressed into a hard line. He swallows once and his tongue darts out to wet his lips. “Sherlock…” he starts, but shakes his head and starts over. “Look, I know you’re good. Everyone does. You’re the greatest violinist of our age, but you can’t just… you can’t just act however you like out there,” he finally says, heaving a sigh of exhaustion; his hand gesturing flippantly back to the stage. “I come into rehearsals every day hoping that you’ll be able to tamp down your ego long enough so that we can get some actual work done, but every day it’s the same shit and I can’t keep letting you do this. You can either play by my rules and do exactly as I ask of you or you can see yourself out. Now, God knows, I don’t want to see that happen, but it’s what I’m going to be forced to do if you can’t behave yourself out there!”.
Sherlock narrows his eyes a fraction and eyes the conductor with a studious gaze. He can tell the man is tired and stressed and something in him sends a small pang of guilt through his chest at the observation. Odd… Every argument that he had been building since his dismissal from the stage has died in his throat and he can’t, for the life of him, remember what he was going to say. So, he remains silent.
John is looking back at him now and Sherlock can’t help but notice the evidence of one too many sleepless nights that sags around his eyes. ‘Even still, he’s handsome…’ Sherlock allows himself to think. The conductor wipes a hand over his face and sighs again when the violinist still doesn’t speak.
“Let’s just… do what we can to get through this practice, yeah? Dress rehearsal is tomorrow night and if we can just survive the opening weekend, we should be alright,” he says, seemingly trying to convince himself that there is hope after all in this situation.
Without argument, Sherlock concedes with a shrug of his shoulders and it feels like treason against his own mind. “Fine… I’ll behave,” he accentuates with a roll of his eyes, “are we quite finished, now? I believe we need to rehearse,”.
John’s eyebrows raise in complete surprise and before Sherlock can allow either of them to think much of his cooperation, he steps around the shorter man and makes his way back to his chair.
The previous evening’s rehearsal proved to be quite dull in the end after Sherlock’s little ‘scolding’, but he bit his tongue and continued on without a word to the contrary. He had avoided John’s gaze for the rest of the night and then ducked out as soon as he was able to put his Strad away to avoid anymore unnecessary communication. He didn’t like what this feeling was doing to him and it made his stomach churn just thinking about it.
From his singular seat at John’s left, he had found himself becoming restless as the dress rehearsal was finally coming to a close. The atmosphere on the stage seemed to be charged with an overwhelming energy that made it hard for Sherlock to breathe properly and he’d even made the mistake of attempting to watch John for cues as he conducted the performance. But, now… Now, he’s practically vibrating in his seat. His body feels like it’s on fire, there’s a tightness in his groin that he hasn’t experienced in ages, and his mind is so cluttered that he can’t even sort out his own thoughts. He’s thankful that he’s able to run on auto-pilot for the rest of the performance and, when the orchestra practices their final bows, he can’t even find it in himself to soak up the imaginary attention before bolting into the wings.
He storms into the empty corridor, his breath coming in heavy puffs through his nose. He fists his hands in his curls and growls in frustration as his arousal pulses in time with his thundering heart. Control… He needed control and he was losing it. He wanted to cooperate with John - needed to, even - but somehow this was not what he had in mind. The sheer beauty of John’s arms cutting through the air, the emotional pull of the music written all over his face, the forceful punctuation of the baton on the staccato rhythm as the tails of his coat flew behind him in furious exertion. Watching John, obeying John’s instructions as he poured his heart out through his violin bow, it had all been too much. Sherlock Holmes had never been one to give in to the fleeting desires of his body, but watching John Watson and feeling the warm swell of wanton need rising and crashing in his chest in a grand crescendo was breathtaking.
A door slams open behind him and Sherlock jumps, snapping his eyes open. When had he closed them? He can hear John’s infectious laughter as he approaches and the violinist schools his features into a smug sort of smile before turning his attention on his conductor.
“Brilliant! You were fantastic! Absolutely amazing, Sherlock! I can’t believe how bloody magnificent that was,” John beams. His face is flushed from the adrenaline rush of a job well done and his blonde hair is sticking up in little tufts all over his head. The way his cheeks are drawn up draws attention to the brightness of his navy blue eyes and Sherlock knows he’s falling even harder for his coworker. This wasn’t supposed to happen…
John claps his hands down on Sherlock’s shoulders and shakes him as he pulls him into a tight embrace. It’s all Sherlock can do to stay upright when their bodies collide, but he has enough forethought to angle his hips so that his erection isn’t trapped between them.
The shorter man is still doling out praises as Sherlock suddenly struggles to remember what he’s supposed to do with his hands. The sudden intimate gesture has taken him by surprise, forcing him into a panic and shutting down all lines of proper thought. He silently curses his trembling fingers as he finally settles his hands at John’s waist and faintly picks up on bits and pieces of John’s overexcited monologue. Words like “beautiful” and “perfect” and “proud” are all jumbling together in Sherlock’s head and he’s finding it hard to string them together into coherent phrases.
A gentle hand settles on the nape of his neck and he realises John has pulled back to look at him; his expression has faded from giddy laughter to a nervous half-smile in a matter of moments. “Sherlock?” he prompts. His tongue slips out to lick over his bottom lip, hesitantly, “Are you alright? What’s the matter?” He’s troubled...
No, stop it! Don’t ruin this for him!
Sherlock clears his throat and drops his gaze. He’s already screwing this up… just like everyone knew he would. He just can’t help himself. It’s like his life’s mission is to do the exact opposite of what he should be doing no matter the circumstances. He glances back up but finds he can’t look at John. Seeing the disappointment in his eyes would be too much to bear, so he settles for staring at the perfectly tied bow tie situated smartly around his neck.
“Yes,” he finally gets out. Is his voice steady? He can’t tell. “It’s nothing. Just came to clear my head. It’s best to sort through my performance directly after a rehearsal if I expect to capitalize on any flaws,”. The words feel like lead in his mouth and he knows they’ve come out odd because he doesn’t have flaws - not when he plays, anyway. He rehearses every piece of music in his head before he ever picks up his violin, committing every note and rhythm to memory so that it’s played perfectly the first time. John knows this; everyone knows because it’s what made him famous in the first place. His methods are unlike that of any other musician in the world and, in turn, this makes him an anomaly.
John’s eyes narrow slightly and Sherlock can tell he’s registered the lie, but the conductor's stare holds something else that he can’t quite put his finger on. It’s something raw and curious, yet guarded. That deep blue gaze flicks to Sherlock’s lips and back up and, much to the violinist’s surprise, John’s eyebrows shoot up in a silent question; one Sherlock tries his best to ignore.
He averts his gaze, once again looking anywhere but at John, and he startles when John’s fingers curl under his chin, tilting his head back up so that he can’t hide from him. The shorter man’s eyes rake over him, silently studying his expression. What can he see?
Before the violinist can think too deeply, the pad of John’s thumb brushes gently across Sherlock’s bottom lip and his breathing hitches in his chest as John shifts his body weight. He slots his thigh expertly between Sherlock’s legs and fuck…
The sound that escapes Sherlock’s lips is embarrassing and needy and he’s finding it hard to care as John’s thigh grinds pointedly against his erection. It’s maddening, but in a sinful way and Sherlock wonders when his body decided to betray him like this.
The irritation with his body doesn’t last for long though; not when John’s looking at him like that. John’s eyes are blown wide, now. Definitely interested. He’s staring at him like he’s the eighth wonder of the world and it’s very easy to get lost in the adoration. Daringly, Sherlock tilts his head in invitation and it takes his breath away when John’s cautious smile turns into something absolutely predatory. It’s lust-filled, yet still holds a hint of fondness and, if he stares at it for too long, he knows he won’t be able to control himself. Sherlock closes his eyes, expecting the gentle brush of John’s lips against his, but what he actually gets is something else entirely.
John is seductive; deliberately and purposefully seductive. His commanding nature emerges and he seems determined to show off his skills. He leads with his tongue, licking lazily at the pout of Sherlock’s bottom lip and the musician parts his lips in a quiet gasp. What the -? But, he isn’t given time to think. His mind clouds over as the sensation of John Watson licking into his mouth takes over his entire body and he feels himself falling away. The world around him has gone quiet and John’s tongue swirls around his and it’s unlike anything he’s ever felt before.
As he gathers his wits about him, Sherlock lets his body react, kissing John back enthusiastically and letting his tongue slide along the shorter man’s. This draws a groan out of John and Sherlock feels his conductor press his own growing erection against him in response. It’s thick and hard and the entire situation is absolutely filthy.
As the realisation of John’s apparent arousal sends a shudder down Sherlock’s spine, he jerks his hips forward and nips at John’s bottom lip as he grinds against him.
“Oh fuck…” John moans, sliding his hands down to grip Sherlock’s hips seemingly trying to pin them down as he breaks the kiss and presses his forehead gently against Sherlock’s lips.
His skin is salty, slick with sweat, but Sherlock doesn’t mind. He presses careful kisses to the tight furrow of John’s brow and feels it smooth beneath his lips after a while. Neither of them moves as the silence creeps in on them, leaving the air thick with the weight of what they are doing settling in around them and the plethora of complications that are sure to follow.