They stayed in the embrace until John stopped shaking and Sherlock composed himself enough to continue. John’s reaction broke through Sherlock’s defences and he was now aware of the havoc John’s forthcoming departure would wreak on him. By sheer force of will, he managed to keep their link closed to prevent John from experiencing Sherlock’s feelings. The block went both ways. John’s reaction was a clear manifestation of his empathy, but his plans for the future still remained a mystery.
“It’s all in the past now, John,” Sherlock assured him, knowing part of the statement was a lie. His past was a scar he had to look at from time to time to keep himself grounded and to let himself live fully. He had been hurt in the past, but he had survived and thrived; that was what mattered most.
“I can’t believe you lived through all that and didn’t try to end your life, when I…” John shook his head, making his stubble scratch Sherlock’s cheek.
“Who said I didn’t?” Sherlock held onto John even tighter when John tried to pull away. “I was punished for every attempt, so I stopped.”
“You had better reasons…”
“No, John. No reason for self-destruction is a good one. I know that now, but don’t think I came to that realization overnight.”
This time, Sherlock let John pull away and their gazes met. The pain and understanding on John’s face were like a fist squeezing Sherlock’s heart. How was it possible for someone so attuned to Sherlock to exist? And that connection had been clear even before their bond had bloomed. “I’m sorry I made you say all that. I really appreciate you telling me, though…” John reached for Sherlock’s hand and squeezed it as his words wrapped around Sherlock like a blanket.
“It was time someone heard it.” Sherlock squeezed back. “On a lighter note, my past has helped me become who I am today.” He shrugged and offered a smile as he truly did feel lighter after telling his lengthy story and receiving John’s support.
John’s lips lifted as well and his eyes sparkled with the thirst for knowledge that Sherlock had gotten used to by now. With the atmosphere lightened a bit, Sherlock continued.
“It was years later when I realised why I liked what you’d call women’s clothing. I’d always enjoyed wearing dresses when at the brothel, but only after I was completely free and immortal could I take the time to process that notion. It had nothing to do with my past, nor with the establishment. The freedom to dress how I wanted showed me that I could be myself, albeit a different self when I feel this way. I can showcase how I feel inside using the medium of clothing.”
“Do you wear lingerie, too?” John’s eyes went wide when the words left his lips. “I’m sorry, that was inappropriate. Forget I said anything.” His face turned a pretty shade of pink, quickly reminding Sherlock of the way he had looked spread on the bed just an hour ago. He found the notion of anything being inappropriate between them anymore to be simply ludicrous.
“What did you think I wore tonight?” Sherlock smiled slyly. Sadly, he hadn’t given John a chance to see the suspender belt and stockings he’d worn under the slacks. If he’d known John would enjoy the sight, he’d have played the evening differently.
“Oh…” John said, leaving his lips parted in a gorgeous expression of fascination. He shook his head as if to clear it and the dazed look turned into questioning one again. “Why me? Why did you turn me? Of all the people in the world, of all the people in that hospital for that matter?”
Sherlock was sitting on his heels, with his legs tucked under. John’s parted legs were enveloping him in a physical crescent of trust as Sherlock placed his hands on John’s bare ankles. The contact assuaged Sherlock’s previous hesitance at revealing his hand when it came to the reason for John’s turning.
“I’ve been travelling the world since my turning. At times, I was drifting for months, but I always came back to London. A few weeks before we met, when I was in Egypt, I felt a pull like I’ve never felt before. It was an inner feeling, a call to a certain direction.” Sherlock touched his chest, recalling the bizarre sensation. “I followed it, travelling to Afghanistan, not knowing what I was looking for. I deemed it entirely possible that it could have been my Maker calling for me, even though I was convinced he’s been dead for decades. Searching for the source of that unknown calling, I ran into people who knew about my kind, but were not a part of the inner circle. I was captured and handed over.” Sherlock had never seen this part of his story as dire, as there had been worse things that had happened to him. “They called themselves researchers and scientists, when in reality they were barbarians with medical degrees who were happy to see a live specimen. Long story short, I found myself recovering from injuries that I couldn’t have foreseen after I arrived in the country. I broke free from my captors within days. I needed a lot of sustenance but did not have the strength to endure an 8-hour flight home or to charm my way through a group of strangers to give me their blood. Your field hospital was the third one I had visited. I knew I needed just a bit more blood to fully recover. I decided to ignore the preternatural pull that had brought me there, and booked a plane to London for the following night...” Sherlock fell silent, looking towards the window. He would have never met John if he'd left as he had planned to or even chosen a different hospital.
“What changed your mind? What happened?” John leaned forward to place his hands on Sherlock’s knees, prompting him to continue. Sherlock caressed John’s ankles with his thumbs when he met his gaze and shook his head slightly at the reason he was about to reveal.
“When you opened your eyes, I knew that I had found what I’d been looking for. The pull ceased, the incessant hum inside me stopped. And I knew you had to come with me.” He’d never believed in destiny; he preferred to believe that he could carve out his own future, but the events that had led him to John, and everything that came after, seemed like they were meant to happen.
“What does it mean?” John asked and Sherlock knew he couldn’t voice his belief out loud.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen or heard about that happening, and it was not in the field of study of our kind that I’ve delved into. It’s just not my area. Don’t worry, I don’t think it means you have to stay with me. Maybe you were just meant to be turned.” Sherlock patted John’s calf as a gesture of finality to the story, and stood up. “You know everything now, John. You’re free to go and enjoy yourself. I’ll have your paperwork ready by tomorrow.” He smiled sadly, as he tightened the sash of his dressing gown. It was worth having his heartbeat for John and then shatter at their parting, than to have had it never beat at all.
Sherlock heard John get off the bed before he felt a hand on his biceps, urging him to turn. John stood in a sure soldier’s stance, with his chin up and determination in his eyes.
“You promised to make me a whole man again, and you have,” John said with sincerity in his voice. Sherlock nodded in acknowledgement, glad to hear he’d succeeded in his task. “With you, I truly feel more myself than I’ve ever done.” He held Sherlock’s gaze, his cobalt-blue eyes shining. “I’ve never felt so whole in my life.” He placed a gentle hand on Sherlock’s cheek and shook his head before he scoffed. “Why would I ever leave you?”
“I thought you’d want to travel...” Sherlock started but was interrupted.
“I want to see Venice. Then I’ll be back in London,” John confessed, taking two steps back. Sherlock nodded in understanding, preparing for a goodbye.
“We could meet again then, or…” John extended his hand towards Sherlock, “...or you could come with me?” John’s hope was clear in his question and Sherlock felt warmth envelop him at the sound. “I've been alone long enough to know I don't want to be figuring out this new life by myself. Will you accompany me?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Sherlock placed his hand in John’s and pulled him closer.
It had been 2:21 am when Sherlock had given John his blood for the first time; he could remember it clearly. He glanced at his watch, which showed the time to be 2:20 am. Placing his palm over John’s sternum, he leaned in and inhaled the intoxicating scent of his companion. Looking at his watch over John’s shoulder, he whispered words that he had never spoken to anyone before as he mentally unlocked the preternatural link between them and let his feelings for John show in full splendour.
Sherlock grinned, feeling the happiest he’d ever felt in his life as John’s heartbeat was delayed by a full second after he’d registered the words and emotions that hit him through their connection.
After arranging John’s paperwork and investing the money he had saved and transferring the rest to an account in the care of “a relative of the same name”, John and Sherlock were ready to embark on their trip to Venice.
Before they left the house, Sherlock noticed a letter in the tray by the door. It was addressed to him in perfect swirly handwriting. He tore it open to see a short note penned on a leaf of embossed paper.
“I’ve heard so much about you from the dear Count. I have the uncanny feeling we’ve already met. Alas, I’m still looking forward to the pleasure of our official introduction.”