John woke up suddenly. His training, sharpened by his reintroduction to urban warfare via Bailey and his crew, held him still as a mouse, his hand flexing up around his gun. Trying to listen, keep the element of surprise. As soon as he realized who it was with their long fingers mapping out the calloused curve of his foot, it was rather a moot point. He peered over his shoulder to look at Sherlock, gone still and looking at him. It was like the moment on a nature documentary when the wildlife realized someone was watching them. Or the moment a child was caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
“You get points for taking my sock off without me noticing,” he was on edge, hand tight until he remembered that he had agreed to go home with Sherlock last night in a fit of stupid exhaustion. Not too stupid. It was peculiar to wake up to a man holding his foot.
“Your musculature is well established, but your callouses are new.”
If John wasn’t still so muggy with sleep he would be alarmed by the burning in Sherlock’s eyes. Like he was fully capable of lifting each layer of skin and set his cardiovascular system, muscle groups out for analysis, open his ribs up like the doors of a cupboard and look at his insides. There was a bit of strange comfort in that, as bittersweet as it was. For all Sherlock observed wacky time travel adventures wasn’t something you could deduce from the way someone cuffed their trousers. John peered back over his shoulder to where Sherlock was holding one of his small feet. Even without looking he could feel the warm smooth pads of Sherlock’s fingers pressing along his foot. Just when the pause had started to go too long John shook it loose, “How splendid for my feet, can I have them back?”
“Would you really have shot me?” Sherlock’s head tilted.
John gave him a look of shock, the thought that he could shoot Sherlock, Sherlock, after all this time. After everything he had been through.
Something of that must have shown on his face because Sherlock’s face changed, dropped a little.
“Give me a little more credit than that,” John said awkwardly. If this was before when they had met at St Bart’s he would have sighed at Sherlock and made him tea, or forced him to eat some lasagna.
“I’m sorry to have disparaged you,” Sherlock scanned his face again.
John sighed and scrubbed at his face with one hand. “No you’re not. You just want me in a good mood so you can pick me apart for data.”
“Of course,” Sherlock shrugged that off as obvious.
“You went through my things!” epiphany struck John hard, splaying him back on the sofa. Of course, back when everything was normal, Sherlock would regularly look through his web history. John’s foot turned and slipped out of Sherlock’s grip. That quick escaping scramble made Sherlock’s face light up again.
“Not all of it. How did you know?” Sherlock seemed prepared to receive and analyze some complex series of deductions. John was sorry to disappoint him.
“Because you had to do something before you started in on my feet. And because apparently you’re horrendously nosy,” Sherlock looked like he wanted to say something but John cut Sherlock off before his lips could even think of opening. “Those are my private things Sherlock! They belong to me! You can’t just go through them without asking.”
“How else am I supposed to learn about you?” he looked honestly curious.
“Ask Sherlock, ask and I’ll tell you everything I can.” He tried to put particular emphasis on this, as if it might suddenly pop through Sherlock’s thick skull.
“I don’t want you to tell me everything you can, I want to know everything.” He looked like it too, his fierce personality twisted toward John. He nearly looked furious.
“We can’t always get what we like, life is full of disappointments.”
“Look at your little face!” Sherlock exclaimed and spun around the room so his suit coat flared around him, clapping with glee. “Oh just look at your little face.”
John sighed, watching his once and possibly future flat mate spin about like a whirling dervish. He was always a little slow when it came to Sherlock, always a little bit behind, he didn’t need to be laying down for their first real conversation. He threw his legs around so he could sit up.
“John if you were any more military… Oh, you’re splendid. You’re wonderful!”
“Thanks I guess,” he yawned into the back of his hand.
“Your journals were ultimately uninformative,” Sherlock continued thinking aloud, it was so much like before, when John was his talking skull it cut into his heart a little, “except that your notes were astounding. But then you are a genius. And like any great investment you were treated well.”
“I’m not a-” he cut off mid-sentence as what Sherlock said set in. “Investment?”
“Of course, I’m not sure how they did it. But it’s obvious the care they took in you. Your musculature is well developed for a child your age but-” his mobile went off. John pushed himself up on his palms to try and peer at the screen.
“Is that a case?”
“I’ve got something more interesting going on right now.”
“So you’re just going to stay home all day and stare at me?”
“I’d hardly call observation staring,” Sherlock sniffed pulling up in his offended cat pose.
Scrubbing his face again, John leaned forward, “I am not an experiment Sherlock. I am not some game for you to play. Or puzzle for you to figure out. I’m a real person.”
“Of course you are John, you are the best puzzle.”
There had to be a way to pull this in, to regain some level of control. Not full control. John wasn’t sure he wanted to be in complete control. That was the joy of him and Sherlock, that there was trust. Sherlock's twisted, folded, intricate mindscape picking up and rifling through observations at the speed of light and John following after him with a gun and bandage just in case. It was what John needed, to be needed, to be trusted. But he didn’t finally make contact with Sherlock so he could be put under the proverbial glass jar. “We’re you Sherlock, when you were eight; were you the prize of some child psychologist’s collection?”
Sherlock’s face went still and dropped. This wasn’t just Sherlock cautious; this was Sherlock on his guard, “What did he tell you about me?”
John squeezed his hands together between his knees, “That I could trust you,” he tried to let Sherlock see how earnest he was, how much he believed it. Not the lie he regularly pulled off with Molly. Just John, an adult albeit unconventionally speaking to another adult, albeit unconventional. “That you would keep me safe.”
He knelt in front of John his arms moving to bracket him to the sofa. John had seen this before, had seen Sherlock leaning in, eyes narrowed, stripping someone’s body language apart in interrogation. In the past he had always had some pity for the focus of that mighty attention. But he was so worn in now, so past pinched efforts at maintaining his mind’s modesty he just looked back seriously. “Why is he trusting me with you? Why me out of all the people in London, all the cozy little families. Why not even with him?”
“I don’t mind being a mystery sometimes,” John said very carefully, wanting to make himself exceptionally clear, “as long as I get to be a person too.” As much as he longed for that particular attention particular to Sherlock Holmes, it wasn’t worth subverting his own personality.
“I’m not going coddle you; I have no interest in coddling. Or sentiment.” Sherlock leaned back far enough to get his chin up, arms still caging John in. His face fierce and imperious.
John laughed as the tension faded out of him, “I don’t need to be coddled.”
“And I’m not interested in crowding the flat up with a lot of rubbish; I’m not buying you toys and things. Or cleaning up your messes or tucking you in. And I’m not a very good cook, although I suppose you will have to be watched for that. And I work on very important experiments so… Why are you giggling?”
Clutching his stomach John giggled and giggled, and the high childish pitch of it didn’t even bother him, really, because this was brilliant. “Sorry, I’m sorry. It’s just, you do realize not yesterday I was stitching up children who had been blown up and before that living on the street and before that in the military? I don’t think I need to be tucked in or have my hand held. I would actually rather you didn’t try it.”
“No hand holding?” Sherlock said, resting back on the balls of his feet. He regarded John now with a turned head, looking at John out of the corner of his eye.
“Not a child Sherlock.” John’s smile wasn’t so big now, but it still rested there at the bottom of his face, like a contented cat, or a warm afghan.
“Biology begs to differ, but I understand the sentiment,” Sherlock’s mobile went off again. He pointedly ignored it in favour of John watching.
“Shouldn’t you get that?” John nodded toward the mobile in question. “It could be important.”
Sherlock’s eyes flickered over and back, “Just Lestrade with a case.”
“You love cases,” John tried to go wide-eyed with doubtful effect. This was Sherlock after all, king of the sham. It just got him a puff of critical amusement.
Sherlock eyes narrowed, “And you want to come with me, there’ll be violence and blood… Things you’ve already seen. You really are a peculiar child; I hope you appreciate how hard it is for me not to overpower you to rifle through your pockets.”
John grinned at him, “Duly noted.”
“What’s so different between the children last night and the potential dead body on the other end of that call? You were upset last night.”
John looked away, not wanting this analyzed quite so sharply. “Last night there were children who were my responsibility to care for. To fix. If they died it would be my fault for not doing enough. If there’s someone murdered, that’s not my fault, but I might be able to help you find who did it. Help you bring them some justice. You probably think it’s stupid,” he knew Sherlock thought it was stupid as well as a dozen other less complimentary things. “I think that’s important; to have someone know the truth about you, about your death, even to just acknowledge the mystery of it. People are important. And chasing people who aren’t very nice is also kind of fun.”
This cause a minor underground shift in Sherlock’s face, but he thankfully made no comment about what he surely thought was a sickening idealization. “Do you know what W wants? What does he expect to get from all this?”
John shrugged, what did he want? To be known? To be recognized? No, not quite, it touched, but didn’t quite get it. To be useful. That’s what he wanted, to do something that was really honestly useful. That’s what everyone wanted. “Only what everyone else wants.”
Relief, the special kind that Sherlock got when something ceased to bang against his brain pan, made his eyes widen a little and his head tilt back a little before he performed that quick little nod. His ohh face, only the ohh was in his head with the rest of his deduction, “Alright then, let’s go.”
Science of Deduction:
No one wants to be bored do they? What would you like to play?
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Reply: STOP MEDDLING MYCROFT
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Reply: When you are capable of making wise choices.
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