|School For Scandal
Author: rubberbird PM
John/Sherlock. Sherlock lusts from afar. John tries hard to fool himself. High school AU. Slash.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Sherlock H. & John W. - Chapters: 32 - Words: 224,365 - Reviews: 1,355 - Favs: 1,706 - Follows: 1,376 - Updated: 06-24-12 - Published: 03-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6839837
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This took a very, very, very long time. I'm so sorry. I've had some crap going on. Not very fun crap, and it's interfered with my writing. But I'm back! I have so much I want to do. I want to write another one-shot for starters. I'm intrigued by the thought of Sherlock having a kink for being disciplined. I've never done a kink fic. I'm pretty conservative when it comes to sex. It's usually done in a bed or against some private hard surface. So I'm kind of wanting to branch out.
Anddd to just lamely self-promote... I'm still on Tumblr and Twitter. Links to both on my profile and my tumblr URL is Rubberbird. Come visit me! My tumblr is a mess atm. I'm usually a lot better at replying to questions, sharing the love and keeping up to date with stuff. I will get back to it and sort out the mess I've left there because I love tumblr. I've just been so all over the place lately!
"Sherlock? Sherlock. Sherlock."
John's irritated voice broke into Sherlock's thoughts. He jerked his head in his direction. John was seated cross-legged on the bed, the play script resting on his lap and a pen between his fingers. He scowled at him.
"Are you even listening?" he said irritably.
Sherlock leant against the windowsill, folding his arms across his chest. "Where are you up to?" he said, inexpertly avoiding the question.
"Look," John said flatly, tapping the script impatiently with his pen. "It's your fault we're so behind with this. The least you can do is pay attention."
Sherlock nodded vaguely and wandered across to Billy's empty bed. "I am." John followed him with narrowed eyes. There was still glass shards sprinkled across the carpet underneath it.
"You're not," John said irritably.
It had taken over a week for Billy's pockmarked figure to slouch back through the school gates. Sherlock wondered what Principal Harvey had told the parents to avoid an uproar. "Accident" was probably the word of choice. It was such a pliable go-to word.
Sherlock squatted down, picking up a shard of glass from the carpet and rolling it between his finger and thumb.
The jar had been placed quite snugly between the mattress and the wooden frame of the bed. All it had taken was Billy piling all 200 pounds of himself into bed to release the critters from their prison. Sherlock wondered if the dimwit had even heard the glass crack.
John's scuffed school shoes appeared beside him. He made an impatient sound between his teeth.
"Would you get up from there?"
Sherlock rested back on his heels, holding the glass out in his palm. "Why haven't they cleaned this up? It's dangerous."
John folded his arms, not looking as though he particularly appreciated Sherlock's concern. "Is this necessary?"
Sherlock shrugged. He got to his feet, dusting the sprinkling of miniature glass shards off his school trousers. He dropped the shard into John's waste paper basket with a clunk.
"Look. Can we get on with it?" John said impatiently. "We have two weeks to get this done and we don't even have a theme."
Sherlock stared at the lump of glass at the base of the bin and then turned to John, sighing under his breath. The increasingly dog-eared play was lying open on the bed, covered with Hurst's red pen marks and some additions of John's blue pen. Some of the sentences had been highlighted in yellow. It didn't look as though John had made much progress since he had sat down forty-five minutes ago.
"Haven't we done enough for today?" he said.
John glowered at him. "We haven't done anything."
Sherlock raised his eyes to the ceiling. "I don't think our situation is as dire as you've convinced yourself it is. Two weeks is a long time. Novels have been written in shorter spaces of time."
"Bullshit," John snapped over his shoulder, going back to the bed.
"And let's not overlook the fact that the only reason you've suddenly taken such a militant approach to writing is that you're scared shitless about tonight," Sherlock said, watching him.
John looked at him sharply over his shoulder, his cheeks flaring. "Bullshit."
Sherlock quirked an eyebrow. John tensely leant one knee against the bed, staring down at the open script. "So you have no anxiety whatsoever?"
"No, I'm not anxious," John said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He ran his fingers along the edge of the stapled paper, keeping his eyes down. "Why would I be? It's just football."
Sherlock studied his boyfriend's face. He watched him lean against the wall, pulling his knees up and leaning the script against his knees. His rumpled shirtsleeves were rolled up around his elbows.
"Fine," Sherlock said shortly. "You're not anxious and I'm not going slowly insane with boredom." He wandered back across to the window. It was foggy from the cold. He drew a line down from sill to sill with his finger.
"We don't have time to be bored," John said coolly.
Sherlock didn't reply. He wiped an oval into the damp with his sleeve. A few grey and yellow figures were scattered across the grounds below. The sky was layered with thick, cement grey clouds. It didn't even look like rain could have forced its' way through.
It was extremely cold, but it was the sort of cold that came at the end of winter. The final plunge, before the weather began struggling back towards the more temperate months.
"Are you going to help me or just mope about?" John said at length. Sherlock didn't reply.
He could feel him staring at him, but he didn't turn. He leant his forehead against the cold glass, letting his breath fog up the space he had cleaned with his sleeve.
"Look... would you sit the fuck down?" John said, finally giving into the irritation that had been throbbing faintly in his voice. "It's your fault we're in this position-"
Sherlock turned to look at him. "As you never tire of reminding me. I've basically rewritten the plot, what more do you want?" It had been his punishment of sorts for hiding the play in the first place. It hadn't taken long, but John had various grievances with everything he suggested and it had ended up taking days for him to be satisfied.
"A little support," John said testily.
Sherlock stared unfocusedly at John's desk opposite, avoiding the expression on John's face. He had become too familiar with the four walls of John's room in Billy's absence. He could have counted the cracks in the walls with his eyes closed, named the number of threads lose from the carpet, profiled the footballers in Billy's collection of tattered posters.
There was a heavy stench of insect spray in the room. John didn't think he knew about his nightly routine or noticed how he brushed down his bed before he sat on it, making sure to turn over all the pillows one by one, as though a nest of fireants could have been lurking anywhere.
He pushed himself upright from the windowsill and walked across to the door.
"Where the hell are you going?" John demanded, bolting upright from the wall.
Sherlock rubbed his forehead. The smell of poison was giving him a headache. "I need to get some fresh air."
"But we're not done!" John protested.
"You'll do fine without me," Sherlock called over his shoulder. "I'm just distracting you."
He slammed the door behind him and headed for the dorm doors. He didn't know whether John would come after him, but he didn't wait to find out. He didn't know where he planned on going. It was really too cold to be outside and the thought of being confined in his room was not an attractive one. He needed to walk. He needed space to think.
He headed for the library, deciding to take the longest, most unnecessarily complicated route possible to give himself time to get used to being trapped in a four walled space again. As guilty as he felt for what he had done at Christmas, John's renewed fervour for writing was driving him slowly insane. Especially when his mind was slowly becoming consumed with something else. Someone else. And he couldn't think when John was banging on and on and on about the play script.
He walked through the admin office. The secretary had the phone crammed between her ear and shoulder and narrowed her eyes at him from the desk as he passed, as though he was walking through just to annoy her.
It was even colder outside than he had anticipated. He wrapped his arms around himself and sped up towards the balmy corridors of C block.
He couldn't help smiling to himself as he pushed the door open. He hadn't been there since the year before when John had almost mowed him down. The corridor was empty. No John blushing and apologetic, picking up his books for him.
He wandered down, thawing his hands off in his pockets. Around the corner, Hurst's English classroom door was open. Sherlock stared at it as he approached, wandering whether he found this weird or not.
As he got close, he could hear voices. He stopped short of the doorway. There was something about their tones that told him that it would be unwise to interrupt.
"You clearly left out something pretty damn important."
Sherlock froze where he was, eyes fixed on the slither of the classroom he could see through the doorway.
"I told you everything I know about him." Hurst's voice sounded strained. His usual wiry, composed tone was frayed.
There was a deafening thump. Sherlock jumped and flattened himself against the wall. It sounded like a desk had hit the floor.
"Stop lying!" Jim's voice spat and Sherlock had no doubt that he had pushed the desk over. The teasing, melodic air to his voice was gone. If Sherlock had ever had any doubts that this side of Jim, this cold fury, hadn't been lingering just beneath the surface of his playful passive-aggression they would have vanished at this moment.
"Why the hell would I lie to you?" Hurst replied in the same frayed, taut voice.
Sherlock edged an inch closer to the door. He could hear Jim's expensive shoes squeaking on the linoleum as he fervently paced up and down. He couldn't have been more than a foot from the door. Sherlock could smell his cologne.
"I've been very reasonable." There was a dangerous softness to Jim's voice that sent a shiver down Sherlock's spine. "I don't think you can deny that. I've asked so little of you. You've been keeping secrets, Hurst. Naughty secrets."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Hurst replied coolly, a slight tremor betraying him.
Sherlock could see Jim's reflection in the glass of the door. His back clad in the school's jumper, his dark hair, and hands clasped behind his back. Sherlock realised with a pang that if Jim turned and happened to look at the door, he'd see Sherlock's face reflected in the glass. He moved very carefully to the right, away from the door. His shirt rustled against the wall, his heels squeaked on the floor and he abruptly stopped.
"Let me ask you once more," Jim said softly. Sherlock saw him walk across to the nearest desk, letting his pale fingers drift against the surface. "Who is it? Who's protecting him?"
"I don't know," Hurst replied through gritted teeth. "I've told you everything I know. Why not ask someone who actually knows him?"
"I tried that route," Jim replied, a touch of amusement coming into his voice. "It was fruitful while it lasted, but... Well, let's just say that I need someone who has a more professional association with him now."
There was silence. Jim turned to pace back up towards the door and Sherlock's breath caught in his throat. He caught sight of Jim's face in the glass, but his eyes weren't on the door and he didn't see him. Sherlock thought it was only a matter of time before he did.
"You must have noticed who he spends time with," Jim said impatiently. "Who is he with? Who does he know?"
"No one," Hurst snapped. "No one! He's not exactly the school's most popular student. He's not popular. He doesn't have any friends and certainly no protector."
"Bullshit!" Jim all but screamed. "You fucking tell me who he's with or I swear I'll-"
"I don't know what you want me to tell you!" Hurst shouted over the top of Jim's shrill voice. "I don't know who it is!"
Jim let out a frustrated hiss. "Fine. You want to play games. Let's play. I'll find out who it is sooner or later anyway. It would have been nice if you had been a pal, helped me out, saved your own worthless skin. But no. We'll play it this way."
Sherlock knew at any moment Jim was going to come marching through the door. He had to move or he would be caught in his path. He turned and darted back towards the next corridor. He heard Jim's footsteps behind him and pressed himself against the wall.
Jim slammed the classroom door with twice the amount of force necessary and it rattled furiously in the empty corridor. Sherlock realised too late that if Jim came his way, he'd be caught all the same, but by way of sheer dumb luck Jim walked in the opposite direction.
Sherlock released a long breath and leant his head back against the wall. Maybe he should have just walked straight past the classroom. Maybe he shouldn't have eavesdropped. But his curiosity had gotten the best of him.
He straightened up and headed back towards the dorms. He assumed he had to tell John what he had overheard. He knew it was about him. There was no question about that. There was no other explanation. There was no one else Jim had this amount of interest in. Marty was his puppet, but there was nothing else he wanted from the boy besides his bovine devotion.
He reached the dorms and knocked on John's door, assuming that whatever irritation he felt at Sherlock's abandoning him would be overridden by his curiosity to hear what Sherlock had to tell him. There was no answer. He had expected him to come running immediately, but it was clear after knocking three times that he wasn't going to answer.
"What the hell?" Sherlock muttered, pressing an ear to the door.
There was complete silence from within. No sounds of rustling bed covers or clothes, no betraying creaks of the floorboards. Total silence.
Sherlock took a step back. John wasn't particularly light-footed. It was obvious he wasn't inside. He turned and headed back to his original destination: the library.
He had a hunch John would have had a hunch that that was where he would be, and he was right. The library was very empty at this time of day on a Friday and John's blonde head was immediately recognisable at a table in the corner. There were two rather large books beside him. The play script was spread out in front of him.
Sherlock tried not to roll his eyes. John looked up as he approached. His facial expression didn't change, but his eyes flashed dangerously. Sherlock was secretly glad for the tidings he had to share to shift attention away from his sudden departure.
"Nice of you to join me," John said coldly, eyes drifting back down to the script.
"Don't sulk," Sherlock said, glancing at the books beside John. "I saw something."
John looked sharply at him. "Saw what?"
"Well, I heard something," Sherlock corrected himself.
He glanced around to make sure there wasn't anyone skulking about their table. The library was completely empty. He leant forward half an inch nonetheless.
"I heard Jim and Hurst talking."
John stared at him. "About what?"
Sherlock hesitated. "Me," he said finally, deciding to take the risk of John reacting badly.
John knitted his eyebrows. "Why would they be talking about you?" he said confusedly.
Sherlock didn't reply immediately. He didn't know whether he wanted to share his suspicions with John. He didn't know if he wanted to alarm him with what he thought he knew about Jim. John wasn't the most level-headed when it came to Sherlock's safety being threatened. And this could certainly be perceived as a threat to Sherlock's safety.
"I don't know," he said at length. He was already starting to regret his decision to tell John. He could tell from the look in his eyes that he wasn't about to let this go.
"Well, they must have been talking about something," he said impatiently. "Why the hell would Jim be talking to Hurst anyway?"
"I don't know," Sherlock said. "I probably misheard it. It sounded like they were talking about... about our assignment." He improvised. "He was probably just getting Jim on the right track."
John cocked an eyebrow, looking far from convinced. Sherlock cleared his throat and jerked his head at one of the books. "What are those for?"
To his infinite relief and surprise John didn't argue and allowed the subject to be dropped. He picked one up and showed Sherlock the title.
"The Reign of Terror?" Sherlock said.
"We need a theme. Terror's a theme," John replied, putting it down again.
"Have fun fitting that into the storyline," Sherlock muttered, sitting back in his seat.
"Good thing I have you to help me," John said. He sent him a pointed look. "I want you to take it tonight and try and get some work done. I'd do it myself but... well, the team."
Sherlock nodded absently, without really hearing him. He had made the right decision not telling John what he had overheard. He would save him a lot of anxiety and concern. But he would be right to be concerned. If Jim knew that Sherlock had a protector among the student body, it wouldn't be long before he worked out just who it was.
John pulled a clean shirt over his head and checked his reflection quickly in the mirror. It was a long time since he'd been out with the team; he wanted to look as though he remembered how to act like a teenage boy.
The game had gone well. Surprisingly well, seeing how many silly mistakes they had made. He thought that the final result: 3/0 to them was probably more a result of the opposing team being one of the worst on the table than any particularly brilliant playing of theirs. But John wasn't going to worry about it. He couldn't. There were too many others things to worry about.
He combed his hair quickly and sprayed himself with a little more deodorant and slipped into his coat.
The door opened and Billy shuffled in, engulfed in a voluminous sports coat and with his hair strategically tousled across his face in an attempt to hide the ant bites still peppered across most of it. John smiled sheepishly at him. Billy was still in no condition to play and as such wasn't invited out. He felt guilty, but there was no way he was risking his team thinking he'd become a complete bore just to keep Billy company.
"You going out?" he grunted, taking a heavy seat on his bed.
"Yeah," John said. "Just for a bit."
Billy made a gruff sound in his throat. "Good for you."
"Why don't you come with us?" John said bracingly. "I'm sure they wouldn't mind. You're on the team."
"Nah," Billy said. "The town's fucking boring anyway. It's not like I'd be missing out on much."
John shrugged with a small smile. "I guess not. I'll see you later then."
He left him to brood and went out into the corridor. Ben was emerging from Sherlock's room. John walked down to meet him, partly just so he could catch a glimpse of Sherlock.
He was too late. Ben shut the door before he could get to him. But it was likely that Sherlock wasn't in there anyway. He hadn't been particularly pleased that John was going out. John knew he had hoped for sex, but he also knew that Sherlock was aware that keeping up a facade of normality was paramount and going out with the team was important to avoid arousing suspicion.
"Ready, mate?" Ben said, smiling as he reached him. His hair was still wet from the shower.
"Yep, ready," John replied, glancing at the door over Ben's shoulder. He was extremely tempted to asking Ben whether Sherlock was inside, but he decided it would be wise not to unnecessarily mention his name.
"Any idea where we're going?" he asked, as they made their way down to the gates.
"Dunno. Just a party. Always one going on somewhere. Marty reckons he knows a guy who'll give us free booze," Ben replied, shrugging. "Probably bullshit, but it's better than club hopping all night."
John nodded. He thought it would be best if he didn't drink. He didn't need Sherlock's passive-aggressive comments the morning after. And recent events had made him rethink his attitude to getting shitfaced whenever alcohol happened to be available.
The rest of the team were waiting for them in a clump by the gates, already fairly vociferous and excitable in their hyperactive post-game state. John sought out Marty and saw him lurking at the back of the crowd.
John's eyes widened in surprise. He was standing next to Jim. Jim looked oddly out of place out of school uniform. He was wearing an expensive looking black coat and tapered dark jeans. His dark outfit made his milky skin almost glow.
"What the fuck is he doing here?" Ben hissed into his ear.
John got the feeling he wasn't the only person wondering that. Questioning glances were being thrown in Marty and Jim's direction, though no one would dare openly question Marty's decision.
They headed off towards the town in a mob. John and Ben found themselves (by accident or not) walking close behind Marty and Jim. It was obvious that Ben wanted to say something and was barely resisting the temptation.
"How come Billy didn't end up coming out?" he said loudly to no one in particular.
"He didn't play," Marty said sharply, glancing at him over his shoulder.
"At least he's on the team," Ben snapped back. Marty looked at him, narrowing his eyes.
"I asked him to come out. He wouldn't," John said hastily, pointedly nudging Ben with his elbow.
"The last thing you need on a night out is a big pile of dead weight," Marty said in a sneering voice. John stared at him, wondering if he had misheard.
To his further surprise, there were titters from around him. He couldn't imagine how Billy's misfortune could be funny in any shape or form. Ben certainly wasn't laughing, but he got a feeling it was more from an increasing resentment of Marty than due to any indignant feelings on Billy's behalf.
John heard the party long before he saw it. There was a low, thumping bass making everything in the suburban street vibrate. The door was thrown open and it was deafening and smoky inside. John felt his cheeks burn as he walked inside. The last time he'd been at a house party, he'd found himself in a situation he definitely did not want to repeat.
Marty grasped the hand and slapped the back of who John could only suppose was the host. A man in his early twenties with greasy blonde hair and bad skin. He was clearly high as a kite and didn't seem to remember Marty or his friends, but he let them in jovially enough, encouraging them to drink whatever they could handle.
Ben and John exchanged a glance and wandered into the next room. It wasn't as crowded as he had expected and the people were definitely older. They seemed to be in their late teens and early twenties. The youngest girl there seemed to be about eighteen and John couldn't help but be relieved. Less chance of him being hit on or encouraged into an undesirable situation if the girls were too old to think him worth paying attention to.
For once in his life John was thankful for his short stature and youthful features.
"Where the hell did they disappear to?"
John jerked his head in Ben's direction. He was staring around behind them. Marty and Jim had disappeared. "Probably to check out the free alcohol," John said, he turned back to what he supposed was the living room by daylight. "Let's get a seat."
They managed to find a tiny corner of one of the sofas to cram themselves on, alongside a mixture of their teammates and the stoner's friends. Ben got himself a beer and John too, but John planned on making it last him all night. If he had a drink in his hand then his friends wouldn't try and palm one into his empty hand every time they saw him.
"Fucking Marty," Ben grumbled, just audible over the low, pulsing thump of the music. "I wish he'd tell us what the fuck is going on. He spends every goddamned minute with that fucking nutcase."
"Marty's a big boy," John replied. "He can take care of himself."
"You always have to be bloody diplomatic," Ben said, rolling his eyes and taking a sullen swig of his beer. "Don't you ever just want to hate someone because they're a tosser?"
"Sometimes," John said. He fiddled with his beer, scanning the gloomy living room with vague interest. "But Marty's a bigger tosser than Jim."
"Not these days," Ben said darkly. "He's just a bastard these days. You know it's Jim that's made him change. You can't deny that."
John shrugged. It was probably true. Moriarty probably was the reason Marty was so withdrawn, so quiet and so unlike his former obnoxious self, but perhaps there was something else going on in his life. It wasn't as though they knew everything there was to know about Marty. His parents could have been getting divorced, his brother could have been sent to prison, his cat could have died. Who knew what went on in the life of Marty Hester? He was the last person on earth who was going to divulge any personal information about himself. They had no choice but to trust that he knew what he was doing.
Privately, John couldn't help but bless Marty for deciding to turn so noticeably unlike his former self. It plucked the spotlight off of him and Sherlock so effectively. Well, Sherlock still suffered the same vicious abuse from his teammates and sneering dislike from the rest of the school, but Marty served to deflect at least some of it away.
"Want another?" Ben said, when he'd drained his first bottle.
John held up his still three quarters full beer. "I'm good."
Ben got up and headed back towards the esky in the corner. John noticed then that a girl on the sofa opposite was watching him. He pointedly avoided her eye. He was in no mood to fend off her unwanted attention while trying to explain to his friends just why he wasn't interested.
Ben arrived back, beer in hand. John silently prayed as he sat that he wouldn't notice the girl's sudden interest in him. "At least he found someone stupid enough to provide free booze."
John's beer bottle was sweating condensation all over his hands and creating a patch of wet on his trousers. He hastily rested it against his knee instead, not wanting to give anyone the impression he had wet himself. He took a reluctant sip. It was cold and crisp and he wanted to gulp down the whole bottle, but he forced himself to take just one mouthful.
"Hey," Ben said suddenly, nudging him in the ribs.
John jerked and slowly turned his head towards him. "Yeah?" He had a horrible feeling that he knew what he was about to say.
"That bird is looking at you," Ben said, a grin creeping across his face. His eyes were fixed on the girl opposite.
John sighed and grudgingly looked at her. She was at least twenty. But she wasn't half bad. He'd give her that. If he had liked girls, he certainly wouldn't have said 'no' to her. He looked sideways at Ben. "You, not me," he said.
Ben smiled sheepishly at him. "Do you think so?"
"Yeah," John said encouragingly. "Go for it. She's hot."
"You don't mind?" Ben said, already halfway out of his seat.
"Not at all," John said, shaking his head meaningfully. "Go for it. I'm happy here."
He fervently watched Ben approach her, watched her facial expression and how she received him and whether he was about to get rebuffed. She seemed surprised. It was obvious she had been watching John, not Ben, but she let him sit down and after a few last glances in John's direction seemed to warm to her new admirer. Soon they were deep in conversation and getting gradually and gradually closer to one another.
John grinned in triumph. If only he could always have Ben around to fob off on girls who happened to set their sights on him. He didn't know why any girl would want him over Ben anyway. He was at least a foot shorter than Ben, which he wasn't aware girls found that much of a turn on.
Soon Ben's hand had somehow migrated its way onto the girl's leg and then hers onto his shoulder and the next thing he knew John was unintentionally privy to his own peepshow. He watched as Ben leant forward and said something directly into the girl's ear. She smiled and nodded and he tugged her up out of her seat.
He smiled and winked at John as he passed. John rolled his eyes good-naturedly at him and watched them out of sight.
He sat by himself for a few minutes. He drained the remainder of his beer and avoided looking at anyone, in case he attracted further unwanted attention.
He couldn't say he was particularly enjoying himself. He couldn't see any of his teammates who weren't engaged in drunken arguments about football or hitting on women five years older than them. He was desperate for another drink, but he knew he had promised himself he'd stop at one.
Well, actually, that was a lie. He'd promised Sherlock he'd stop at one. That was a lie too. Sherlock had threatened to withdraw sex for three months if he even thought about getting drunk.
And he would know. He always knew.
It felt like hours before Ben finally returned, his clothes askew and his hair sticking up in several places. He squeezed back into his seat next to John, grinning sheepishly. "Hey."
"Hey yourself," John said, raising his eyebrows. "Have fun?"
"Fuck yeah," Ben said, still grinning. "Got a fag?"
John jerked and looked at him. "What?"
"A cigarette?" Ben said.
"Oh, no," John said, glad for the darkness obscuring his blush. "Sorry."
"No problem," Ben said, looking at him sideways. "I'll just get another beer."
He struggled out of his seat, stumbling a little as he stood and nearly losing his balance. John had a feeling he had shared more than a romantic interlude with his lady friend. Especially going by the strange smell on Ben's breath.
When he arrived back, John decided he wanted to go. "I might head off," he told Ben, as he sat down beside him.
"Aw, mate! It's still early!" he said. "Stay out a bit longer."
"Nah, I might find Marty and say I'm heading out," John said, getting to his feet. He had pins and needles in his arse and legs from sitting down for so long.
"Alright, you boring old man," Ben said reluctantly. "See you tomorrow I guess."
John threaded his way through the crowd towards the door. He dropped his bottle into a bin on his way out. He found a few of his friends hanging in the hallway, who informed him that Marty had disappeared upstairs some half an hour earlier and hadn't come down. This was accompanied by knowing leers and nudges among themselves.
John had been to enough parties to know what the upper floor of the house was usually reserved for. He didn't particularly want to see Marty in the altogether, but he braved the possibility anyway, heading upstairs and casting a look around the much sparser crowd on the landing.
He started checking bedrooms, earning himself a few indignant cries from the people inside. He could tell from their figures and their voices that it wasn't Marty. He reached the last room on the landing and opened the door haphazardly, not expecting to find anything but a horny couple entwined on the bed.
"Oh my Go-"
He covered his mouth to silence himself, biting hard on his finger. He'd only open the door halfway, but he could see two boys violently entwined against the closest wall. He could hear whimpers, gasps, grunts, the sound of bodies hitting the wall again and again.
John went rigid where he was. His heart was beating so hard he couldn't think. In front of his eyes he watched as pale fingers threaded through the taller figure's blonde hair. There was a breathless gasp.
John took a step back without being aware of what he was doing. The floorboard squeaked. The music seemed to hit his ears louder and deeper than ever. He yanked the door shut in front of him and turned on his heel. He didn't know whether they had seen him. He didn't stop to find out.
He walked down the stairs, through the hallway and out into the bitter cold. He didn't stop to think, he didn't stop to remember. He kept walking.
Sherlock had been surprised to find John knocking on his door at two in the morning and immediately assumed that he was shitfaced and horny. He prepared to tell him that he wouldn't be getting sex for six months for being such an idiot, when a very sober John hastily brushed past him.
"Close the door," he said sharply.
Sherlock did as he was told, stunned into obedience by John's brusque tone. "Is everything alright?" he asked, raising an eyebrow as he closed the door and turned to his agitated boyfriend.
"I just..." John faltered, biting his lip. Sherlock loved it when he did that. "I was just at a party."
"You don't say?" Sherlock said. "The stench of booze and cigarettes was so subtle, I could never have guessed."
John didn't laugh. He paced across the floor, running a hand through his hair and loosening the buttons on his jacket. "I saw something."
"Yeah?" Sherlock said, still not able to guess where this was leading. Though he hoped it lead to John removing more items of clothing. "What?"
"Maybe I imagined it. Maybe I didn't see what I thought I did." John seemed to be talking more to himself than to him.
Sherlock knitted his eyebrows. "Maybe you should sit down."
"I'm fine!" John burst out, whirling towards him. "I saw something really weird. I'm... just... just freaking out a bit."
"They didn't show that movie Glitter, did they?" Sherlock said drily. "I can understand your shellshock, but trust me the pain does eventually fade."
The corners of John's mouth jerked, but he didn't laugh. "Look. What would you say if I told you... I told you that I think Marty... might be... might be..." He rolled the word around in his mouth, it seemed to take every muscle in his body for him to speak again. "Gay."
Sherlock stared at him. He didn't know whether to laugh at John's solemn expression or check his forehead for fever. "John. Are you alright? You didn't take anything at that party, did you? I really think you should lay down." He smirked. "Maybe take your clothes off while you're at it."
John flushed. "Would you listen to me! I saw Marty- Marty Hester- kissing... kissing... Jim Moriarty," he finished lamely.
Sherlock shook his head. "It was dark. It was loud. You could have seen anyone."
"I didn't imagine what I saw," John snapped, beginning to pace again. "I just don't understand. I just don't get it. Marty is as straight as they come. He fucking hates gays! And Jim... Well, I don't know. What does he want with Marty?"
Sherlock watched him silently. The thought that Marty Hester would be romantically involved with another boy wasn't so incredible to him as it might have been. Marty was loud in his disparagement of gays; that didn't mean he hadn't thought about being with another boy at least once in his life. Few people went through life without such curiosities and desires bobbing to the surface sooner or later.
But with Jim Moriarty. That was the unnerving part. What could brilliant, psychopathic Jim Moriarty want with the loudmouthed, vain, unsubtle Marty Hester? What could Marty see in Jim that made him risk everything for an encounter in the same house as the people who would destroy him if they came across it? Marty was damned lucky it had been John who found them and not someone else. Sherlock resented such undeserved good luck.
"He was probably horny and drunk and Jim happened to be there," he said, to appease John's increasingly distressed expression. "What's the big deal?"
"I just can't believe it," John said, sitting slowly down on Sherlock's bed. "All this time, all this shit he gave us, all of his bile and hatred and he can get it off with a boy anytime he wants no sweat? Fucking bastard."
"Don't let it get to you. He's probably suffering," Sherlock said, with relish. "He's probably feeling as disgusted and hateful towards himself as he does towards me."
"And Jim? Do you think he'll use it against Marty?" John said, looking at him anxiously.
Sherlock hesitated. There was a part of him that suspected that tonight had not been the first time Jim and Marty had been close. He didn't know whether telling that to John would be wise. He didn't know whether telling John that Jim's ambitions were far greater than just humiliating Marty Hester was a good idea either. "I don't think so," he said finally. "Jim wouldn't want to draw attention to the fact that he's the one Marty's shag- eh, with."
The colour drained from John's face. "You think they're having sex?"
Sherlock cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Of course not. I'm sure they're waiting until they're married like good little private school boys."
John stared at him and then the floor. "God. Just fuck. Marty and Jim. What the fucking hell, Sherlock? How is this fair?"
"Don't think about it," Sherlock said quietly, sitting next to him on the bed and resting a hand on John's waist. "Maybe it was just a kiss. We all get desires now and again."
John looked up at him. His blue eyes sometimes took Sherlock's breath away and it was like they were living six months ago and Sherlock was still secretly, desperately burning for John and not entwined in the most complicated relationship in the world with him. "Do you desire..." He faltered, not finishing his sentence.
Sherlock understood what he'd been about to ask. "No," he said easily. "I've never desired another like I desire you. Certainly not since I met you. I'm not a very sexual being."
John snorted. "Could have fooled me."
Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him. "So what about you? You have?"
John stopped laughing very quickly. "Of course not."
"You've never desired another person? Ever?" Sherlock said dubiously. He found it hard to believe. He had seen John around town with girls back when they hadn't known each other and John had been heterosexual.
"Yeah. I thought I was attracted to girls," John admitted. He flopped down onto his back on Sherlock's bed, sliding his legs across Sherlock's lap. "I think I was. Or maybe not. I dunno. It's hard to imagine being attracted to anyone who isn't you."
Sherlock felt himself warm at those words. He coughed away his gratification. "You weren't attracted to Mycroft?"
John gave a bodily jolt. "No!" He jerked his head up at him. "Is that what you think?"
It wasn't the response of someone who was lying. Especially not John, who was a terrible, clumsy liar. He smiled smugly. "Just what I wanted to hear." He crawled over John, resting a knee between his legs and brushing the stray strands of hair from his face. "Besides who in their right mind could fall for Mycroft."
"Well, it certainly makes it difficult when he has such a attractive and slutty younger brother," John murmured, with a smile. He took Sherlock's hips in his hands, pulling the taller, smaller body down against his. "We should have sex."
Sherlock laughed, leaning down to nuzzle John's nose with his. "You sound like you're giving a diagnosis. Is that your professional opinion, doctor?"
He half expected John to balk at the playful medical reference, but he blushed and smiled and looked very much like the odd bad medical joke wouldn't harm his libido. He unzipped John's jumper slowly, enjoying planting teasingly soft kisses against the sensitive skin just beneath the curve of John's jaw and the little gasps it extracted from his lips. Underneath, his torso was imprinted against his t-shirt.
Sherlock tossed the jumper away and returned to ravishing John's neck with increasingly deep, suckling kisses. He knew he couldn't get too fervent. If he left love bites on John's neck- as much as he loved watching John sitting in class with the angry red marks all over him, branding him as Sherlock's- his friends were liable to notice and ask awkward questions and he couldn't trust that John would be able to think of a convincing excuse.
"Will we be able to do this before Ben gets back?" John gasped, clutching Sherlock's shoulders as he attacked his collarbone.
"I should think so," Sherlock grinned, looking up at him. "I took his key."
"Sherlock!" John said indignantly.
Sherlock leant up on his knees, hastily tugging his jumper over his head. "Oh, relax. I'm not going to let him sleep in the hallway."
Though he had to admit that if the boy was stupid enough to attempt to interrupt his copulation with John, he probably would.
However, Ben didn't return until four hours later and by then John had long since returned to his room. And by that time, Sherlock had already taken him slowly and heatedly on his back with his legs wrapped tight around Sherlock's waist and his hands so deeply buried in Sherlock hair he was in danger of pulling out handfuls of it in his enthusiasm.
Sherlock was certain Jim had put Marty up to it. On emerging from his room the next morning, still dressed in the clothes he had fallen asleep in sprawled across the covers of his bed the night before, he was immediately cornered by the taller, brassy haired boy and shoved unceremoniously into his own door by the collar.
There were no insults this time, no threats. Marty's expression was hard to read and that was saying something. He was usually such a blandly easy person to read. Even easier than John. Everything he felt was magnified across his handsome features. Today there was nothing. His eyes could have been sockets for all Sherlock could see.
With one hand wrapped in his collar, Marty yanked Sherlock's bag out of his hand. He roughly let him go and then set about rifling through the contents. He could have been a policeman searching for drugs, the way he ripped open the pockets, emptying Sherlock's pencil case onto the corridor floor and never looking up or speaking once.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Sherlock said at length, staring at him.
This new, silent Marty was beginning to unnerve him. Part of him wanted to bring up Jim Moriarty just to see the boy's face turn colour and draw something out of him. It gave him an amused twinge to think that this boy, this arrogant, selfish, thoughtless boy, was in the same situation as he was. He had given into his desires towards a member of the same sex and now he was tainted for life. If his friends knew, no matter what excuse he gave, he would be outcast from their ranks forever. Faggotry, no matter how brief, was not to be tolerated.
Finally, he stood and dropped Sherlock's bag like a stone. He was holding the play script. Sherlock's heart stood still. He almost spoke. "Oh God. Oh God, please not that" almost left his lips. But begging Marty was never a good idea. He despised weakness. It just made him even more vile.
"And what's this, fag?" he said, his voice bland and flat. "Your diary? Got all your sick little fantasies planned out?"
"That's John's and my English assignment," Sherlock said through gritted teeth.
The ghost of a smirk crossed Marty's mouth. "Is that so?" He gripped a random page in his fist and tore it. The sound was like a gun shot. Sherlock couldn't see how Marty could have planned to hurt John and injure Sherlock any more perfectly.
He tore the page in two and set about more. Three and then four and then five. He tore them with cold, calculated disregard. Sherlock watched on in numb fury. And growing hatred. Fuck this boy. Fuck this boy's feelings. This boy's misery. Fuck him. He deserved none of Sherlock's pity. This hypocrite. This dirty, hateful hypocrite. Sherlock couldn't breathe.
"That's John's work," he spat. "John did all of that."
"Then I guess you'll have to think of some excuse for how it ended up in fourteen pieces," Marty sneered, dropping the ruined script onto the floor. "You're clever, fag. I'm sure you'll think of something-"
Sherlock had moved before his brain had entirely realised what he was doing. The next thing he was aware of was terrible pain in his knuckle. He staggered back, realising in a confused rush of triumph and shock what he had done.
Marty lost his balance against the wall opposite and stumbled down, blood pouring from his nostrils and bottom lip. His eyes were wide, his bloodied mouth was open. The surprise seemed too great for him to even comprehend what had happened.
"You... you..." he spluttered, a bubble of spit and blood appearing between his lips. "You... fucking..."
He was panting. Sherlock stared at him and then knelt down to pick up the fallen pieces of John's play. He heard someone approaching and didn't look up.
A hand gripped his hair and he was painfully hauled to his feet. The first punch hit him in the cheek. It was a different pain to being hit in the nose or mouth. It was a deeper, aching sensation. It felt like his bones had been cracked from under his skin. There'd be bruises tomorrow.
Marty's fist was about to hit him again when a sharp voice sounded: "Hester. Enough."
For a wild moment, Sherlock thought it was a teacher but when the world stopped spinning and he could focus on the person next to him, he realised just who it was. "Not you," he hissed.
Jim smiled, his eyes glinting. "Tsk tsk, Holmes. Fighting in the corridor. That's naughty."
His eyes turned coldly onto Marty. "Let go and get out."
Marty did as he was told, letting go of Sherlock's collar like he had been stung and stumbling back. He wordlessly turned and walked away to the end of the hall.
"Oh, you have him well-trained," Sherlock said softly, trying not to be impressed.
"Don't I just?" Jim said, circling him with a delighted laugh. "He's a good little pet. Likes to please me. He really gets off on authority that one does. You should see how he grovels to me. Oh, he just loves to get down on his hands and knees for me."
Sherlock tutted. "I don't want to know. It's cruel of you to abuse that idiot's trust."
Jim smirked. "You don't care about that boy any more than I do. You'd like to see him dead." He stopped, snapping his fingers. "There's an idea! Want me to, Sherlock? You do. Think about that witless Neanderthal lying dead. Doesn't it make your mouth water?"
He was so close now; Sherlock could smell the toothpaste on his breath. He could see each of his individual eyelashes, dark and long around his eyes.
"You're sick," he said softly, to stop himself from examining anymore of the features etched into Jim's pale face.
The corners of Jim's mouth shuddered. "Do you think so?"
He glanced down at the play clutched in Sherlock's hand. In one swift movement, he had snatched it from him, slicing the inside of Sherlock's fingers. "Give it back," Sherlock snarled, making a pathetic grab for it.
Jim stepped back, his eyes positively dancing with glee. "Oh! But why were you so damn angry about dearest Marty ruining this old thing? Surely you weren't attached to it? Not my clever Sherlock. Not attached to some ratty, badly written old rag. Surely not. So... so what is it? What makes this so damned special?"
He looked up at him, grinning widely. "Oh, my. John Watson. Oh my."
Sherlock's blood went cold. His throat felt like it had sealed itself. He snatched the play back, but Jim let him take it. He had what he needed.
"This is just too perfect," Jim breathed, staring at him with a mixture of wonder and leering mockery. "You and that simpering, simple-minded bovine creature? Oh. This is better than porn."
He turned on his heel with a wild, almost manic laugh. "This just too beautiful!"
Sherlock narrowed his eyes at him, stuffing the ruined play in his bag. "Leave him out of it. This is between you and me."
Jim turned to him, the grin was gone but his eyes were dancing with poisonous glee, positively glowing at the Ace card he now held. "Oh, but it's all about him! Don't you see?"
He took a step towards him, closing the space between them again. Sherlock hastily jerked back and found himself against the wall. Jim's eyes raked his ruffled clothes with an almost hungry expression.
"Did you sleep with him last night? Did you fuck him? Oh, I think you did. If I smelt your clothes, if I inhaled them I'd smell him, wouldn't I? His sweat, his deodorant, his fluids-"
"Shut up," Sherlock spat, a hand finding its way around Jim's collar.
Jim leant up towards him, the smirk dancing in every feature of his face. "So violent. What will I do with you?" He laughed. "Even better. What will I do with John Watson?"
Sherlock let go of him and shoved him away. He wordlessly walked away down the corridor. Jim's laugh reached his ears, cold and cynical. Sherlock could feel the dismay dribbling through him as he walked towards the library to meet John.
He found him in the same seat he had sat in the day before, books about The Reign of Terror again on the desk in front of him. He smiled at Sherlock as he reached the table and Sherlock's heart ached at the prospect of what he had to do.
"Morning!" he said, clearing the books. "Sleep well?"
Sherlock didn't reply. He sat down slowly, sliding a hand into his bag. "John... I..." he faltered. His hand was on the play. "I..."
"Are you alright?" John said, frowning. "You look pale."
Sherlock released a slow breath and dug the play out. He laid it on the table, ruined and torn and thoroughly destroyed. "He knows. Jim knows about us."
John just looked at him and Sherlock saw the panic pool and cloud in his eyes like blood into water.
End of Chapter Twenty-Three