These Waking Dreams Which Walk Among Us
“This is my friend Dr John Watson,” Sherlock says.
Dr John Watson is a shortish, average-looking man with one of those pleasant, indefinably-British faces. He’s wearing a mild expression and a rather hideous jumper. He looks like a man who drinks a lot of tea.
“He can’t come in here!” Greg Lestrade protests. “This is a crime scene, for God’s sake!”
John Watson grins. When he speaks, it’s in one of those bland Estuary accents that are increasingly coming to represent the English everyman, British without being specifically regional.
“I think you’ll find,” he says cheerfully, “that I can.”
He grins at Greg. It’s a dangerously infectious grin.
Oh, fucking hell, Greg thinks. It’s another bloody one of them.
Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft are Personifications. Greg knows this because one of his great-grandmothers was seduced by one of the fairy folk, which means that Greg is basically a normal bloke except he can see things that normal people aren’t supposed to be able to see.
When Greg first met Sherlock he was all blurred around the edges, confused and lost, but these days he’s full of purpose, sharp-edged and the brightest, most fascinating thing in the room. It took Greg a while to work it out, but he’s pretty sure Sherlock is the Personification of Intrepid Adventuring, or Pioneering British Spirit, or something like that – whatever it is that makes intelligent excitable lunatics do things like sail off into the unknown, or create great inventions, or, to give Sherlock’s current occupation, chase after criminals without a care for the safety of himself or others.
Sally complains a lot about how much leeway Sherlock gets; has she ever tried to keep the Personification of Intrepid Adventuring out of something potentially exciting and dangerous?
Sherlock’s brother was much easier to figure out; Greg took one look at him and thought, posh Government twat, which turned out to be exactly on the money.
Greg respects Mycroft. He even admires the job he does, running something as huge and chaotic as an entire country. But Greg’s got just enough of a wild, rebellious streak himself (alright, so maybe his fairy ancestry left him with a little more than just the ability to see what’s under his nose) that it’s really, really difficult to actually like the prat.
Greg’s gotten used to dealing with the Holmeses, and the way they run all over the place doing their own thing, the way Personifications do. Only now he’s got John Watson to deal with as well. Bugger it all.
It’s pretty clear that Sherlock and Watson are great friends, the way they chatter to each other as they examine the crime scene. Greg tries to figure Watson out. The man’s been off fighting wars for years, which is why Greg’s never seen him with Sherlock before, and wonders if that’s a clue. But even though John might be a soldier, it’s certainly not all he is, so no.
Greg scrutinises John, looks him over carefully, adding in the other facts he knows. Watson’s a soldier and a doctor, he’s competent and friendly, he’s close to Sherlock. It all has to fit together in one way or another, but Greg can’t see it, all he keeps thinking is how quintessentially British the man is –
Greg’s thought process stops.
“Took you long enough,” mutters Sherlock, snide. One day Sherlock will admit he can secretly read minds, and then Greg will feel like less of an idiot.
“Manners, Sherlock,” John murmurs automatically, where he’s checking the corpse.
Oh hell , Greg thinks despairingly. John’s polite and unassuming, but obviously not a pushover, he’s quietly friendly, but capable of fighting a war if he has to, can probably carry on under all kinds of pressure and is courageous to boot.
“Do you like tea and football?” comes out of Greg’s mouth, before he can stop himself, and he feels like a complete twit.
“Yeah, I do,” replied John calmly, but with a hint of amusement. Shit. Greg isn’t sure what he ever did to deserve this, but he’s got the Personification of fucking Britain at his crime scene.
Sherlock rolls his eyes.
“Try not to get so excited,” says Sherlock.
John just sort of smiles.
The case with the Pink Lady ends with John – Greg knows it was John – saving Sherlock’s life. Sherlock gives John this look and Greg wonders curiously if they’re going to snog, but no, they break into giggles instead, and Greg doesn’t know whether to feel relieved or disappointed and is promptly horrified at himself.
Sally is looking at the pair suspiciously; clearly she has her own ideas about the mysterious shooter.
Greg would try to warn her, but he knows it won’t do any good. Hints that some people are above the rules would just make her furious and stubborn, and twice as likely to get herself into trouble. Greg doesn’t much like it either, but he’s a pragmatic man, and he understands the difference between ideals and how the world actually works. His Nan always used to say that Personifications are like fairies, cats, and royalty: they’ll make their own rules, and damn anyone else’s. Manifestations are much easier to deal with, she said; at the end of the day, they’re still ordinary people.
It’s at this point that Mycroft shows up – the British Government making sure that Intrepid Adventuring isn’t getting the British Nation into trouble.
Greg snorts at the thought, and covers his amusement with a cough.
Sherlock is scowling at his brother’s arrival, but John seems happy enough.
Greg glances over a few minutes later and is shocked to see Mycroft giving John a look that could almost be described as affectionate.
Well, that’s… not something Greg ever thought he would see, he has to admit. It makes sense, when he thinks about it: after all, that’s what the government is there for, isn’t it, to look after the country.
It’s just… weird, is all.
Greg becomes used to John following in Sherlock’s wake over the next few months. He’s surprised to find that Sherlock is a lot more bearable when John is around. John’s approval seems to be genuinely important to Sherlock, which is a first.
Greg grows to like the bloke, and thinks life might actually be improving (outside his home life, that is, but enough said about that) when everything is disrupted by some psychopathic tosser called Moriarty.
John is cold and restrained and grimly furious at the fact that someone’s going around blowing up his people for kicks, but Sherlock…
To be completely frank, Greg’s never seen Sherlock so fully engrossed in a case before, and it frightens him. Sherlock is all about grand adventures, big gestures, intrigue and mystery and danger. Life for him is like a nineteenth-century novel. The people involved don’t really matter to him, and the challenge in front of him has sort of… set him alight, a whirlwind of action and deductions and frenetic movement.
It’s going to end in disaster, Greg is sure, because John, for all he loves adventures as much as Sherlock does, cares deeply about people. Well, if you think about it in terms of the concept he personifies, he mostly is people. Other things as well, of course, but ordinary British people (the kind Sherlock despises, actually) are the heart of him. It’s no wonder he’s getting upset at Sherlock’s breathtaking callousness.
“Do you know anything about him?” Greg asks John, when no one’s paying attention. “Moriarty, I mean. Seeing as you’re…”
“He’s Modern Crime.” John’s mouth is a stern line. “Me and Mycroft are doing what we can, and we can do a lot, but…” A slight shrug. “And there’s Sherlock. You know.”
“Yeah,” Greg sighs, knowing exactly what John means. “There’s Sherlock.”
In the end, Greg doesn’t know exactly what went down.
He’s pretty sure he never, ever wants to know the full story of what happened. John is glowing, lit up with every single idea that feeds into the enormous overarching concept that is The British Nation, as well as every piece of technology and weaponry and British genius that is also in its way part of him, their power channelled through the massive consciousness that is John.
What used to be Modern Crime but is now only Jim Moriarty lies dead on the floor by the pool, where Mycroft is staring at the body pensively and tapping his umbrella absently against the floor, glowing fairly brightly himself.
There’s a large, very old iron sword on the floor not too far away, and Greg negotiates his way around it cautiously. It won’t do him any harm – he’s human, after all – but vestigial instincts send up an itchy feeling at the back of his eyeballs whenever he gets too close to proper iron and he’d rather avoid the experience, thanks very much.
Greg glances at Sherlock, hovering anxiously around John, before transferring his gaze back to Mycroft.
“John fought your ancestors.”
“What?” This is why Greg hates dealing with Holmeses, what they say next is never what you’re expecting.
Mycroft nods towards the sword Greg was skirting around a second ago. Right, of course he noticed.
“John fought your ancestors,” Mycroft repeats. “Before my time, of course – there was not even a true monarchy in existence at that point,” he adds, his distaste for such primitive times clear, to Greg’s faint amusement. “The fae attempted to invade, you know. John beat them back, and now they come here but rarely, and what they leave behind… it falls to John. Right of Conquest, you see.”
He looks steadily at Greg, and doesn’t even have the decency to glance away politely as the penny drops.
Greg has always been loyal to Queen and country, like his father and grandfather before him. So have his sisters, uncle, and aunt. Greg’s never questioned it before – after all, it’s part of being British, that quiet pride in your country.
“Oh,” says Greg, but not very eloquently, because what the bollocks do you say to the discovery that your patriotic loyalty is apparently part of some sort of magically binding treaty?
“It goes both ways, though,” John says mildly, no longer glowing, and Greg tries not to jump and swear to find him and Sherlock standing right behind his left shoulder. “What’s part of me is also mine to care for and protect. That’s how it works.”
John’s looks tired, but his face is far too kind and understanding.
Sherlock just looks subdued, for once. He doesn’t have anything to add to John’s words.
Greg lets out a weary sigh. There’s nothing much to say to that, is there.
“Yeah, alright. Blimey, I deserve a raise, dealing with you lot.”
Mycroft gives a thin smile.
“Undoubtedly, Detective Inspector. However, life is frequently unfair, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much, if I were you.”
“You’re a bit of a bastard, aren’t you?” Greg observes.
“If it’s taken you this long to notice,” Sherlock begins, and Greg decides not to listen to the rest of that sentence.
“Never mind,” says John sympathetically. “There’s always the lottery.”
“Sure, why not,” Greg says. What’s one more dream among all the ones walking around him?