Title: Not Waving But Drowning
Warnings: Technical spoilers through TGG. Oh, and occasional porn. Other than that, nothing.
Word count: 6322
Disclaimer: Usual applies.
Summary: Adult relationships can be messy.
“…So there we were, tumbling arse over elbow, with the captain running behind us screaming, ‘What about the duck!!!’ It was most definitely the last time we let Marshall run the still, as you can imagine.”
“Obviously he’d introduced some extraneous substance into the mash. Datura ferox. Though, given the hallucinations you experienced, Datura metel seems more likely. It contains powerful alkyloids – you’re lucky you weren’t killed.”
John rolled his eyes. “Well, when you put it that way, yes, I guess you’re right. But the duck – “
“I’m always right, John. The duck was obviously a hallucination, or possibly a perverse type of wish fulfillment.” Sherlock flopped back on the couch, sighing. He steepled his fingers under his chin. “Bored. I’m wasting away. Go out and do me a murder, John. And do make it a clever one.”
“If you were a real boy, you’d laugh. Possibly tell a story of your own. See, give and take, that’s how this works.” Patient. John was always patient.
“Right. Want to hear about how I caught the parlour maid who was blackmailing the Duchess of Albany? It was abjectly simple, really. She had left a small scrap of – “
“Come on, Sherlock. You don’t have any humorous stories? None at all?”
Thinking. “Well, there was the one time I tried to sneak my pregnant cat into the ladies’ at Marks & Spencer.”
“Really?” John’s eyes widened as he broke into a grin.
“No,” Sherlock said shortly. “Saw it on the telly last night after you went to bed.” He closed his eyes and sighed.
John stared at the wallpaper for a moment. If I look at it just there, it looks like pineapples, he thought. Pineapples dancing on monkey trees. God, I’ve got to get out of this bloody flat. Sherlock isn’t the only one who’s bored. I wonder if Sarah would actually answer if I rang her. Maybe just head down to the pub to watch a match or two. His eyes darted to his companion, plucking out...something in the air above his head. Wonder if he’d come. Never does, but it might be useful to get him out a bit. He’ll wear out the cushions. Or shoot more holes in the wall…No, can’t. I hid the gun.
“Kitchen, last shelf up in the second cabinet from the left. Behind the flour bin. Incidentally, why do we have a flour bin? Are you hiding hidden baking depths from me?” Sherlock chuckled to himself. “Somehow I can’t imagine you elbow-deep in Battenburg mix.”
John opened his mouth to respond. Sherlock, eyes closed, interrupted.
“Simple, John. Pineapples.” He waved a long finger elegantly, as if crossing the word off a list. “Monkeys.” Tick. “Sarah – and I’ll do you the favour of not commenting on that association.” Tick. “Pub. Sherlock. Gun.” Tick tick tick. “And I haven’t done that in ages. You should really put it back in your night table drawer. It might be very inconvenient to have it so hidden away. What if someone was attempting to kill me? I don’t think they’d be willing to wait while you got a step ladder.”
“Twat.” Almost an endearment. “So what have you got going? I know no cases, but any experiments? Shall I go through the kitchen appliances to see what I can find? I promise to be surprised by the … whatever it is … in the oven on gas mark one.”
Sherlock’s eyes opened slightly as he lifted his head to peer at his flatmate. “Asking me about my day? How incredibly normal, John. Now. How about tea?”
“Piss off. I was just trying to make conversation so you stop trying to incite me to murder. Which is looking particularly attractive at the moment.” John leaned forward in his chair, crossing his arms and glaring at the man stretched out on the couch.
“You’re not allowed to kill me, you know. Especially not in a simple domestic. That’s not interesting or entertaining at all.” He smiled, looking hopeful. “Tea?”
John flopped back in the armchair. Rubbed a hand across his face, from his forehead down to his chin.
“Milk and two sugars.” Sherlock opened his eyes wide, flashing John a dazzling grin. “Please?”
“I hate you, do you know that? I do. Violently.” John sighed in disgust and got up to go to the kitchen. As he passed by the couch, Sherlock reached out and grabbed his hand.
“Thank you, John. You’re the best!” He stuck out his tongue.
John simply rolled his eyes and went to make the tea. In the other room, Sherlock turned on the television, flipping channels in his particular, peculiar rhythm. Click. Click click click. Cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick.
“John! John! Come see this! It’s what you should get for your birthday! It’s perfect!” He paused for a moment. “When is your birthday? Should I know this?”
“One,” John said, ducking his head back through the open door between kitchen and lounge, “It’s generally considered good form to let presents be a surprise. Two, I’m surprised you think you have room in there. And three, the singing dancing breakfast cereal is perfect for me?”
“Not the cereal. It was the advert before.” Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “And I never said that I was going to get it for you, anyway. Just that you should have it.”
“Well, whatever. Are you going to tell me what it is?”
Sherlock frowned. “No, apparently it isn’t important. Are there any biscuits?”
John banged his head against the doorframe, just hard enough to make a satisfying-sounding THUMP. “Why do I even – “
“There are chocolate ones, you know. On the bookshelf behind the Yeats.”
“I don’t know why I bother trying to hide anything from you,” John sighed, exasperated. “Not like it ever even works.”
“Of course it doesn’t. And I could tell you. Why, that is.” Sherlock bounced to a sitting position, enlivened. “Why you hide things. It’s really rather fascinating when you – “
John fled back to the kitchen, banging the teapot and beakers about as loudly as possible. ‘M not a bloody corpse for him to deduct. Anyway, it’s not like it’s any of his –
“Of course it’s my business, John. I have to live with you,” Sherlock called from the lounge. “And never mind the tea, I’m going out.” Keys rattled and John heard the subtle whisper of Sherlock’s coat swirling about his shoulders. “Don’t wait up!”
“Do I ever?” John called as the door opened. There. Got the last word, anyhow.
There was a clatter on the stairs as Sherlock descended. He stopped just before the outer door and shouted back. “Always, John. Always!”
John snorted. Poured himself a cup of tea. Sat down at the kitchen table and put his head in his hands.
He awoke several hours later, chlorine burning his eyes and a high mad cackle ringing in his ears. The dream was never and always the same. A flash of light not as bright as you’d think they never are. Searing heat rushing across his body as he stumbled to his feet so clumsy damn my leg damn damn not as young as I used to be. The dual shocks of hitting Sherlock, then the water. Sherlock. Sherlock. Did I get him soon enough he was counting on me…Sherlock. A last desperate gulp of air before going under. The sudden muffled silence.
He’d survived worse. It shouldn’t have been a nightmare.
A steady stream of it cascading down half-destroyed walls with Moriarty laughing as he ran and god where are the lasers are they gone and is Sherlock breathing did I get him in time he was counting on me…
Running this time. The bath. John wakes up and realizes it’s 2am and his teeth are fuzzy.
He wandered into the lounge groggy, still half-caught in his dream. An unexpected blaze of colour stopped him.
An elephant. About a meter high with its trunk upraised, gold and red and green and sitting right in the middle of the bloody room where anyone could trip right over it… Ugly as sin, too. Wonder what he wants with it.
John lifted the statue with two fingers, gently, as though afraid it might bite. He stared around the room for a moment and then chuckled as he set it on the sofa in Sherlock’s usual position.
The bathroom steamed with the heat of the running water. John knew Sherlock hated the cold; he’d constantly drain the chill out of the tub while refilling it scalding hot. They’d had a go round or two about that; John late for work, Sherlock dripping on the hallway carpet, and no hot water left in the tank. Result – Sherlock now only bathed late at night, when there was little chance of disturbing John.
Except for that bloody dream, he thought as he fished through the cabinet for toothpaste. Not that he’s to know.
It occurred to John as he cleaned his teeth that Sherlock was making odd, strangled-sounding noises and splashing altogether more than usual.
“John.” An errant sponge was herded precisely and strategically into place. “I hope I wasn’t disturbing you? I realise it’s late...”
“Nuh. I jus’ oke uh an...” John leaned over the sink and spit. Took a drink of water to clear out his throat.
“Woke up at the kitchen table. I know. I told you not to sit up for me. At least you could have chosen a more comfortable spot.”
“I wasn’t sitting up!” John retorted. “I just haven’t been sleeping well and – “
Sherlock raised a hand to stop him talking. It hung in the air, perfectly poised, for one long second. “You awoke at the table and decided to interrupt my bath. Really, John, I’m not sure that conclusion quite follows.”
John froze, realising for the first time where he was. He slowly, almost unwillingly, took in the entire scene for the first time. Dark hair plastered against Sherlock’s forehead, long fingers of it in his eyes, trailing down over his neck. Dark eyes, slightly unfocused and burning. White hands casually white-knuckled over the lip of the white bath. Porcelain pale feet resting just under the tap. A incongruously bright yellow floating just there.
“Oh. Oh.” John shuddered and broke all at once, looked away. Ran a hand up from the back of his neck into his hair. “Shit. Shit shit shit. Sorry, sorry, I just totally – Sorry.” He dropped his head and covered his eyes. “I’ll just be – I didn’t mean – have a nice bath.”
He fled to the safety of his room.
What the hell is wrong with me? It’s not like I didn’t know he was in there. John stripped down to his y-fronts and sighed. He hadn’t slept much in years. Afghanistan, then being back from Afghanistan. With one thing or another – nightmares, depression, utter boredom – sleep had never been easy. Until Sherlock, anyway. It isn’t even the adrenalin or the attempted murder. The war gave me enough of those.
Sliding into bed, John chuckled to himself. Wonder what it was that did it for me. Late night violin? Exhausted from running all over London for him? Not that it matters anymore, but it was nice while it lasted.
Three weeks. Three weeks since... That night. John tried not to think about it, tried not to summon up the nightmare. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter. He closed his eyes. Counted backward from one hundred. Counted backward from five hundred.
One thousand. Nine hundred ninety-nine. Nine hundred ninety-eight. Nine hundred ninety –
The soft cloth clamping sickly sweet over his nose and mouth, iron hand in a velvet glove is this really happening? A soft sing-song voice in his ear telling him to count back from ten. Ten. Nine. Eight. Everything goes blurry and slides to black and suddenly there is a man in his lap pulling a heavy parka over his shoulders.
Gottle o’gear. Gottle o’gear. Gottle o’gear.
The red dot slides down Sherlock’s forehead, dancing along the bridge of his nose.
The impact of bodies on the flat glass surface of the pool. Water filling his nose and mouth, cold and chemical and did I make it is he safe did I make it Sherlock is Sherlock – His head breaks the surface, finally, finally and all around him is flame and silence. Unaccountably, a bright yellow rubber duck floats idly by and a hand on his back drags him under and Sherlock is it Sherlock is he –
He can’t breathe. John wakes up and throws the duvet off, hyperventilating and shaking and it’s not been very long since he went to bed. The sunrise takes its time.
In the morning, the elephant had moved. John found it in the bath, a toothbrush balanced delicately atop its upraised trunk.
Still no case, but at least there was work, John thought. Boring, routine work. He knew he should be glad of it. Nothing but sniffles and sprains meant nobody hurt. Nobody in trouble. It was fine, good, really it was. I just need something to take my mind off of... Off of what, exactly? So I’m not sleeping. That’s practically habit, anymore.
Sarah had barely spoken to him since the explosion. That had scared her. John didn’t blame her, not really. That coupled with the Chinese acrobats... She’d tried to get him to move out of his flat, to leave Sherlock. Said he was bad for John. But that couldn’t happen. It’s the life. The rush. He was right – all he has to do is mention danger and I’ll come. What’s wrong with me?
She’d said he wasn’t worth the risk; John didn’t know whether she meant him or Sherlock. He wasn’t sure it mattered.
It just made work difficult. Putting it lightly, there. Sarah hadn’t remarked on the deepening shadows under his eyes, the increasingly long hours he was putting in. Can’t sleep, nothing to do, may as well be useful. He avoided her as much as possible, all disappointed eyes and concerned hands that twitched toward his shoulders every time they shared space.
His last patient of the day took longer than she ought. Mrs Carter was a middle-aged woman, complaining that she felt run down and tired. John sympathised, it certainly seemed to be going around. She was hungry but vomiting with alarming regularity.
“I just don’t know what it could be, Doctor. Maybe the ‘flu? My daughter suggested glandular fever, but I’m sure I couldn’t believe that.”
He nodded. It did seem unlikely. “Let me get some samples, blood and things, and we’ll see what there is to be seen. Shouldn’t take more than a few days.”
She left unhappy, not that John blamed her. Perfect cap to a frustrating, dissatisfying day. Sometimes I wonder why we bother. I think I’ll get takeaway tonight, too tired to cook something. Wonder what Sherlock’s doing. Hopefully something, I don’t feel up for entertaining him tonight.
John’s mobile buzzed as he left the surgery. A text from Sherlock. He avoided Sarah’s eyes and merely waved in her direction.
No takeaway. I’m outside. I’m taking you out. SH.
All right, then.
The restaurant was simple – aggressively, expensively so. Paper on the table, but real crystal and several dozen bits of cutlery. Everything was white – tables, chairs, walls – except the waiters, all dressed in black. There were only eight tables in the entire place and it looked to John as though there was a waiter for each one. John marvelled at the elegant surroundings and felt nothing but shabby in his worn cardi and brown work trousers.
Sherlock smiled as they sat down. “Nice, isn’t it? Mycroft’s idea, though I am loath to admit it.” His lips twisted in a sly little quirk. “His treat, too. I nicked his wallet.”
“That seems a little dangerous,” John snorted. “So he stopped by. Does that mean we have a case?”
“Sadly, no. Just a general check of our welfare. He can be so very tiresome at times.”
“Sherlock! You should be nicer. He’s going to be paying quite a lot for our meal if the decor is anything to go on.” John sighed. “You should have let me go home to change. I’m really not dressed for – “
“Not important.” He paused, eyes focusing somewhere off in space for a moment. “So. How was your day? Any fascinating cases? Why were you late?”
“Are you,” laughed John, “asking me about my day? How incredibly normal, Sherlock.”
“Piss off!” Without rancour. “I was expecting you at least a half-hour earlier, what kept you?”
“I had this woman come in.” John tried to mimic her tired voice. “’Not an emergency, really, but our Emma just insisted that I come.’ It’s obvious, of course – “
“Wait!” interjected his companion. “Let me guess. Tell me exactly what she said.”
John recited her symptoms as Sherlock listened. He wondered if the detective would solve it.
“What did she say when you told her she was pregnant?”
Of course he would. John shook his head. “I didn’t tell her. Have to wait for the tests to confirm it, first. Can’t just tell her without proof.”
“But it’s a perfectly logical inference. Surely she already knows. Why shouldn’t you tell her and allow her to begin the next wonderful phase of her life?”
“...wonderful phase..?” John’s mouth hung open. Replaced by aliens. Has to be.
Sherlock waved a hand dismissively. “Something Mycroft said. Nevermind. But isn’t it your responsibility as her...” he searched for a word, “caregiver to push her past her reticence?”
“No,” said John. “Not without actual, solid proof. Wee on a stick – “ This earned a glare from the people at the next table, which John didn’t even see. “A blood test. Something. She’s 47, three grown children. She’s ready for grandchildren, Sherlock. I can’t turn that world upside down without being sure.”
“Hmm.” Sherlock sat, thinking, as a long minute passed in silence. His eyes focused and unfocused, rapidly moving from point to point in what John privately thought of as Sherlock processing.
The silence stretched and finally John couldn’t stand it. He knew better than to interrupt processing – it was unlikely he’d get an answer, anyway.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to find a – “ he stood and looked for a waiter, “is there a... I need the loo.” He flushed and smiled apologetically and felt about twelve years old. “Need to wash my hands,” he added lamely.
The cold water stung his face and eyes, but it was perversely comforting, enervating. John adjusted himself in the mirror, removed his jumper, undid his collar button. He examined the effect, turning at angles to see himself from all sides. Unhooked another button, then another, then another. John surveyed himself in the mirror and laughed, shaking his head in mock disgust. I look like a bleeding gigolo, all undone down to my navel. He quickly closed his shirt up to a respectable two buttons, and evaluated his reflection once more. Still underdressed, but not as embarrassing. A snort. Christ, look at me. Do a little twirl and I’ll be a twelve year-old girl. Feeling unaccountably silly, John arched an arm over his head and spun about slowly like a jewellery box ballerina. It’s the lack of sleep. Has to be.
He left the loo feeling calmer and more self-possessed than he had in days.
A tall, blond man was leaning casually over the table when John returned; one hand resting lightly on Sherlock’s shoulder, his smile almost predatory. The stranger looked John over with a coldly appraising eye and turned immediately back to Sherlock.
“You can do better.” He leered. “Chuck the old woman and let’s go have some fun.”
John didn’t even hesitate. He slid into his seat and covered Sherlock’s gloved hand with his own. Smirked up at the intruder, twisting it with just a hint of wickedness – a trick he’d picked up watching Sherlock manipulate, well, everyone, truth be told. He smirked at the blond and growled, “Old, maybe. But experienced.”
At the edge of his vision, John saw Sherlock’s eyes widen fractionally. It was all the encouragement he needed. “Now why don’t you run along back to your sand pit and let us get on with our meal.”
Sherlock shrugged at the blond, a gesture meant to convey apology, dismissal, and a certain sense of get your hand off me already. John’s eyes never left the intruder as he slinked away, dropped a sheaf of bank notes on a table, and left the restaurant.
When he finally turned back to Sherlock, John found his friend’s eyes unreadable. Suddenly he was uncertain. He felt the confidence hissing out of him like air from a punctured tyre. “Um. Sorry. Did I just put my foot in it? I might be able to get him back if you want – “
Sherlock said nothing.
“I mean... I just thought... Married to your work and all and you can’t leave because I’m absolutely not paying for this food when I could have spent five quid on curry.” John knew he was babbling, but he seemed unable to stop himself. “Besides. He seemed like a prick. ‘M not an old woman. I’m a good catch. See if he could deal with heads in the refrigerator, bet you he couldn’t. A finger in the butter and he’d be screaming for his Mum.”
Sherlock burst out laughing. “He didn’t seem the type to take that circumspectly, no. And I’m sure – “
A waiter arrived at the table, bearing very large plates with very small bits of food on them. It was only then that John noticed his hand still covered Sherlock’s gloved one. The leather was buttery soft under his palm as he snatched his hand away. Put it safely under the table. Rubbed it on the side of his thigh, the seat of his chair, trying to erase the feel of Sherlock’s gloved hand. Of course he noticed, you idiot. He’s Sherlock bloody Holmes.
“I solved a case today,” Sherlock bloody Holmes announced. He removed his gloves as though nothing had happened.
“Oh?” asked John, happy to have something else to focus on. “I thought you said you didn’t have anything on.” He is allowed to do things without you, you know.
“It wasn’t anything big or important, or really, at all interesting,” Sherlock backtracked. “Actually, not at all worth talking about. Nevermind, forget I brought it up.”
“No, no. You don’t get to do that.” John shook his head, smiling a little. “Tell me, or I’ll have to guess, and we both know how much you hate that.”
“It’s because you don’t see, John,” lectured Sherlock, crossing his arms in front of him. “I can’t help it if you can’t tell the difference between cigar ashes or cobblestones. And your unwillingness to listen to your intuition ought to be legendary.” He shook his head. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with you, John Watson.”
John looked at the third round of plates delivered by their waiter. The bits of food were, if possible, even bittier than before. “Take me for curry. Definitely. I’m not sure what Mycroft sees in this place, but it can’t be the food. There’s not enough to tell what it is.”
Sherlock poked at his plate with one of his forks. “Exactly as I was saying, you don’t see!” He indicated a small baton of orange, “that is quite clearly a carrot. Anyone could tell – “
He speared it with his fork and popped it into his mouth. A second later he spluttered wildly, drinking deeply from his water glass. “Parsnip. I hate parsnips. You’re right. Let’s go home.”
Food procured, they spent the evening watching crap telly; John laughing at Sherlock’s irritation with plot holes, Sherlock repeatedly lobbing throw pillows at John’s head.
John almost didn’t mind when it was finally time to retire. He dreamed, of course. Fire and water and quick, clever hands on his arms and chest. Collapsing against a wall Sherlock Sherlock oh Sherlock and this time the cackling crazy man is blond and tall.
He’s almost unsurprised when he finds the elephant blocking the refrigerator (and his breakfast leftovers) in the morning, a black leather glove tucked in its mouth.
John set the elephant down in the hall outside Sherlock’s bedroom. For reasons he wasn’t prepared to examine too closely, however, he stuffed the glove in his trouser pocket. Teach him a lesson. He’ll have cold hands all day.
Work at the surgery was as it ever was. A comfortable routine of simple problems with simple solutions. Headaches? Take two and call me in the morning. Strained ankle? Stay off it, then. Desperately in love with someone, yet unable to do anything about it? Well, that was a little trickier, but you just –
The phone rang.
John was slouched in his chair, hands stuffed in his pockets. He leant forward to answer and was surprised to find Sherlock’s glove in his hand. He stared at it for a moment, yes. Yes. He was sure it was the one Sherlock had been wearing the previous night. Black leather. Soft, he must oil them. John compared the fingers to his own – they were longer, of course, and thinner. He wondered if the glove was bespoke. He –
The phone rang. Again.
What? Oh, phone. Right.
“Hello, Doctor? This is Mrs Carter... I stopped in yesterday, do you remember? “ Her voice was tinny, but he could still hear the fatigue, the drag.
“Of course, Mrs Carter. How are you feeling today? Any better?" I already know the answer, but it can’t hurt to ask.
He could almost feel the sigh along the wire. “Not really, no. I rang to see if you had gotten any results back. I was wondering if...” She trailed off.
John debated with himself. He remembered the look on Sherlock’s face as he had waxed eloquent about the new wonderful phase of Mrs Carter’s life. On the other hand, wonderful was terribly subjective.
“I was just looking, Mrs Carter. We haven’t received the test results yet, but as soon as we do someone will give you a ring.”
“Well, I was just thinking, could it be – “
“We’ll let you know, Mrs Carter. Talk to you soon.” Click. The glove was in his hand again. Smooth and cool and it had to be a criminal offence to take leather from a cow that young. Not that he cared. John ran his thumb across the palm. It was... Ridiculous. What in the hell am I doing? It’s a glove. I’ll be nuzzling it to my cheek next. What am I, a fourteen year old girl? It’s just his glove. A glove. It’s just a glove. He stuffed the offending article back into his trouser pocket.
The day crawled. John did his best to set the whole thing aside, but he couldn’t stop niggling at the edges of it. He’d been in therapy long enough to understand how it worked. The recurring nightmare, obvious on the face of it, but was it really so simple? Make sure you get plenty of rest, young lady, and have your Mum call if you’re not better in a week. His behaviour at the restaurant – certainly he’d resented the attitude, but admittedly he’d responded...oddly. There, I think I’ve got it. Silly Billy, you need to remember – nothing in your ear that’s smaller than your elbow. Then there was the sudden, inexplicable attachment to a simple glove. Well, that was easily cured, anyway. Spread this over the affected area twice a day. And do try to be more careful in the future.
Finally the last patient was gone, the lights were shut off, the daily goodbyes had been said. John stood in the doorway of the consulting room, thumb wearing circles in the palm of Sherlock’s glove in his pocket. He’d reached no useful conclusions. He’d made no useful decisions. John melted down to a knot in his stomach and a growing conviction that something had happened. Was happening. Would happen.
Breathless and stumbling, he walked out into the evening.
Sherlock was draped artistically across the couch in the lounge when John got home – legs akimbo, one arm covering his eyes. His other hand absently caressed the upraised trunk of the elephant statue. John’s usual chair was occupied by a tall brown carton.
“I got you something.” Sherlock waved absently in the direction of the carton. “That, in fact. It’s a hoover.”
John dropped his coat in the doorway and stood there, staring. “You got me... a hoover.”
Sherlock rolled to his side and opened his eyes. “Yes. I saw it the other night on the telly, and you’re always whinging about hoovering. I thought you’d like it.” He paused. “No?”
John heaved a giant sigh. Hung his coat gently on the hook. Set the box down on the floor and sat in his chair. Chewed meditatively on his lip. Sighed again.
“Did it ever occur to you that I whinge about hoovering because I’d like to not be the one doing it occasionally? You could actually participate in the process once in a while, Sherlock, beyond lifting your bloody feet.” He shook his head, clearly working himself up. “Basic sanitation, Sherlock, that’s all I’m asking. If I left it up to you, we’d have things living on the floor – and I don’t mean simply the skull. But no – “
“I was just trying to – “ Sherlock tried to interrupt as he swung himself to a sitting position.
“Oh, you were just trying. I’m sure you were. But you’re Sherlock Bloody Holmes. Massive intellect and all the common sense of a postage stamp! “ John stood and paced the room, fists clenching and unclenching. “For god’s sake, Sherlock. You don’t need a friend, you need a keeper. Well, I guess I’m elected – I’ve got the hoover after all!”
He turned and his eye fell on the elephant statue. “And that thing. What is it. Why is it? You keep leaving it all over and I’m going to break my bloody neck. And then!” He fished the glove out of his pocket and threw it at Sherlock. “There’s your glove, by the way. What do you mean by that and the elephant... I’ve been carrying it around all day and I just don’t even... “
John dropped into his chair. Slumped. Head in hands. Deep breath. Smile. “Don’t mind me. I’m just tired. Over-tired. I don’t even know anymore. But thank you for – “
“Stop.” Sherlock interrupted. He crossed the room in two strides. Leaned in with his hands on the arms of the chair and towered over John. Paused. Shook his head. Frowned. “You still don’t see.”
He turned, snatched up his coat. “I’m going out.”
It wasn’t till the outer door slammed that John realised he was holding his breath.
Water and fire and the tension John’s been holding in all evening relaxes because this is the dream and it’s a nightmare but at least it’s familiar.
Except it isn’t.
The laser sights twitch and Sherlock lays spasming on the deck. Missed his heart, caught the lung. Toss up whether he’ll die choking or bleeding. Moriarty laughing and walking away and if only the explosives would just go.
A shift, a blur. Sherlock’s standing with the gun pointed at John and he wonders how good a shot he is. Moriarty/John is silent and Sherlock thinks... Thinks. Moriarty makes him speak. And just the once, Sherlock gets it wrong. Right in the heart. Didn’t know he was such a good...
Staring through a window at Sherlock with a pill in his hand and surely he couldn’t be that bloody stupid, could he? And then the perfect mouth opens and there is nothing he can do but watch as Sherlock drops to the floor. Of course he could. Of course.
Bodies smashing together and into the water and clinging together as everything explodes. Fire and water but it’s him and he’s liquid and falling and on fire wherever they touch. They surface together, and all John sees is perfect lips and he just can’t –
John wakes, swearing and shaking.
He looks. He sees. And it all makes sense. Twisted, bizarre sense. Even the elephant.
And when has life with Sherlock not been twisted or bizarre.
The elephant is sat just outside John’s door, a paper heart spiked on its trunk. John almost smiled.
“I wondered if you would... Well, I wondered.” Sherlock said softly from the stair. He perched on a tread, shirtless and half hidden in the dark.
“Tact? From you?” John grimaced. “Go ahead and say it. You wondered when I was going to get my head out of my arse.”
Sherlock nodded. “Yes. Exactly. You’ve been giving off signals for – “
“Could you just not. Not do that to me right now,” John interrupted. “I don’t want to be dissected.”
“Well,” Sherlock stared up at John, eyes shadowed and unreadable. “Tell me, John. What do you want?”
The question hung in the air like a ghost. Gathered weight. Solidified and dropped like a rock in the pit of his stomach. He tried to think. To process. To reason. But John knew he’d already made the decision. Made it a thousand times every day. There was no more hiding.
“You, Sherlock. I want you.” And god help him, but it’s true.
Sherlock catches him up in strong arms and it’s water and fire all over again. Boneless and burning they tumble backward (forward) into John’s room and onto his bed. They fall to pieces, all limbs and mouths and needy hungry want. Sherlock’s tongue swipes across John’s lips and pushes its way inside his mouth. Hands skitter across his chest, along his shoulders, down his back. For a moment, John is awash in overwhelming sensation, drowning in lips tongue hips hands and the weight of Sherlock pressing him into the bed.
Time stretches and contracts to tiny flashes as John tries to catalogue. To save them all. The brush of long dark hair along the line of his jaw. Teeth trailing blue-white pain down his neck. Sherlock’s clever fingers are everywhere – tumbling through John’s hair, dragging slow circles on his stomach, dipping into his y-fronts to tangle in coarse curls.
Shh, whispers Sherlock. Don’t think. And John can’t help but laugh out loud because what isn’t funny and strange and completely fucking surreal about the sudden direction his life has taken.
Sherlock’s eyes flash black. Tiger-smiled and growling he gathers up John’s wrists and pins them stretched out above his head to the bed one handed. Stay.
He gets up and the sudden emptiness where Sherlock was, where he should be shocks John. He tries to move, to prop himself up on his elbows. The cold is unbearable.
I told you to stay. A single finger on his chest, pushing him back down to the mattress and everything narrows to that square centimetre of skin. Nothing else exists. The finger disappears and John shudders, cold and alone and not very patient.
A touch, wet soft tonguing, just above his ankle. Sherlock drags his lips slowly, ever so slowly, up John’s leg, fingernails dragging trails after his tongue. Past the knee up the inside of his thigh, John shakes and his hands are still above his head clenched into fists.
Hot breath ghosts across his cock, straining against rough cotton. God oh god oh – And then it’s gone.
Wet tonguing at his other ankle. John swears and stops breathing as Sherlock begins a slow trip up his second leg. Nails scratching designs at the back of his knee. Perfect mouth nipping marks into the softness of his inner thigh. Tongue tracing the elastic lines of his pants. Fingers toying with John’s waistband.
Sherlock breathes again and John’s whole body hitches. He’s all twisting shoulders and shameless hips, reaching, trying.
He twines his hands in Sherlock’s hair and pleads and pushes. More. Please. Do it. Please.
A smile, he can feel it through the fabric. A twist and pull and John’s cock pops free, only to be enveloped by the warm slickness of Sherlock’s mouth. John shudders, mouth open in a perfect O and thinks about rugby. Cricket. The Queen. Anything to slow down... to stop... to keep Sherlock moving slowly up and down, tongue dancing, exquisite pressure pulling John out of himself over and over. His body fights against itself, bucking and writhing, grasping for more while whatever remains of his mind is shrieking to make it last. Fingers dig trenches in his hips, planting bruises like seeds to blossom over and over.
John burns, bright and quick and all too soon he is flaring up, bitten lip and relieved sigh; he’s coming and he almost manages to notice that Sherlock swallows and is surprised.
He’s suddenly freezing, breath fast and hard and pulse still racing. Sherlock crawled languidly up John’s body, draped over him, claimed him. John felt warm hardness at his hip. Tried to roll into it, tried to reach out to just touch. Chuckling, Sherlock dropped a gentle kiss on his cheek and whispered don’t worry about it.
John stared at him, stubbornness shining like a beacon. He reached out again. Sherlock laughed and took his hand, guiding him. A few quick strokes and John felt sticky wetness spreading between their joined fingers. Sherlock barely, briefly closed his eyes.
John regarded this as a challenge. Lucky for him, I never back down. Unlucky for him, we’re not teenagers anymore.
They lay there, stretched out across the bed and each other for long minutes until John finally broke the silence. “This doesn’t get you out of the hoovering, you know. Just so we’re clear on that.”
Sherlock laughed and hit him with a pillow.