|Nothing's All Black, But Then Nothing's All White
Author: ImpishTubist PM
Spoilers: John thinks Sherlock is in mourning over Irene Adler. Lestrade learns there's more to it than that.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sherlock H. & DI Lestrade - Words: 2,798 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 58 - Follows: 3 - Published: 01-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7730036
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Spoilers: for BELG.
Warning: Asexuality Issues
Notes: This operates in the same universe as "Halfway Through the Wood," but it's not necessary to read both. They're merely some related, missing scenes from the new series, as I felt Lestrade needed more screen-time.
How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
-Stephen Sondheim, "Children Will Listen"
"Were you in love with her?"
Lestrade spoke from the relative safety of the doorway to 221b. Steps away, Sherlock had a fencing foil out and was sparring with the wall. He executed a number of quick moves against his invisible opponent, nicking Mrs. Hudson's wallpaper with the tip of the foil. Lestrade folded his arms and leaned against the door frame, watching the hard lines of Sherlock's forearm leap and ripple with each movement; with each thrust and parry.
"What are you on about, Lestrade?" Sherlock asked irritably as there was a pause in his fight. He drew a sharp breath through his nose, considering the wall, and then struck out again. He tilted back on his heels, parrying an invisible blow, and attacked again with a harsh slash, splitting open the wallpaper until there was what appeared to be a gaping wound in the wall.
"What'd the wall ever do to you?" Lestrade asked dryly.
Sherlock turned on his heel and paced away, breathing heavily through his nose, jaw tight and curls limp with sweat. He pressed the back of his hand against his mouth, swiping away the perspiration that gathered on his upper lip.
"I trust my treatment of the wall isn't the reason for your visit." Sherlock struck a pose, balancing the foil in his hand, considering its weight. He took a few swipes through the air, and still had yet to meet Lestrade's eyes.
"John's been texting me. He's worried about you; says you won't eat or sleep and that you're frankly irritating the hell out of him with that violin of yours. He seems to think you're in mourning."
"And now you've come to see for yourself," Sherlock snapped, and thrust forward, pressing the tip of the foil against the mantel and his unseen opponent's chest. "Come to see the freak show."
He emphasized his last words with two quick and unnecessary slashes through the air.
"You know very well that I'm not," Lestrade said, fighting to keep the anger out of his voice, because it wasn't meant for Sherlock. He would be having words with Donovan, come Monday. "Were you in love with Irene Adler?"
Sherlock again said nothing. Lestrade moved into the kitchen to fix himself a drink. When he returned, Sherlock was still standing by the window with his foil in hand, examining it as though it was a complex puzzle that needed to be figured out. Lestrade considered him for several moments, and then finally said, "John thinks you're heartbroken."
Sherlock set his foil aside and faced Lestrade fully. He folded his arms across his chest, and when their eyes finally met Lestrade noticed that Sherlock's were bloodshot and weary.
"D'you wanna know what I think?" Lestrade pressed on.
"Not particularly, but I feel that was a rhetorical question."
"I think she understood you, that Adler woman." Lestrade swirled his drink, and the ice clinked together. "I think you finally found someone who got you, and for a little while you had someone in your life who was very like you. I don't think you've had that before, and now that she's gone into hiding you'll never have it again..." Lestrade trailed off. "You had a taste of what it was like, and now you've been denied it. And I'm so sorry, Sherlock."
"She wasn't like me," Sherlock snapped. "And I'll thank you not to make the comparison again."
"You had a connection with her," Lestrade pressed. "I don't know what it was, exactly, but something was there. She gave you something that no one's ever been able to give you before - she provided you with an equal, for a short time. And it's all right to mourn that loss. It's all right to mourn her. You seemed...quite taken with her, and it's understandable that you'd be feeling it now."
"Is that what you've come to say, Lestrade?" Sherlock said with a snort. "That it's all right to be sad?"
Lestrade said nothing in response. Sherlock paced over to the window, lacing his fingers together behind his back and staring out onto the street below.
"She was intriguing," he said finally. "She was...far from boring. But she did not understand me."
Lestrade saw Sherlock's fingers curl into fists behind his back.
"Why do you say that?" Lestrade paused to take a sip from his drink. "Sherlock, you've been out of sorts for a while, according to John. Weeks. What exactly did she do to you?"
"Nothing," Sherlock murmured. "Not a thing."
"All right. Then what did she say to you?"
Sherlock turned to look at Lestrade over his shoulder for a moment before going back to his study of the street. "She wanted to have dinner."
"Ah." Lestrade frowned. "And?"
Sherlock shrugged. "I wasn't hungry."
"I don't follow, Sherlock," Lestrade said softly.
"Perhaps you could enlighten me, Lestrade." Sherlock paced over to the bookshelf; ran his finger along one of the spines. "Why would one want to have dinner, if one isn't hungry?"
Lestrade said nothing, recognizing from the silence that Sherlock did not expect one. Sherlock reached out and plucked a glass off the mantel, one Lestrade hadn't noticed before, and took a hefty swallow of drink. He stared at the glass, his hand tightening around it until his fingers were visibly white and trembling.
"It is apparent to me now that this is an irrelevant question. One should always be in want of a -" Sherlock's lip curled, " - good meal. There's no such thing as...as not being hungry."
Sherlock slammed the glass down on the mantel and it shattered, spilling drink and sharp shards over his hand and the floor.
"Jesus," Lestrade hissed, setting his own drink aside and moving over to Sherlock. He tugged his handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it over, and Sherlock methodically wiped off his hand, his movements wooden, as though the act of breaking the glass had shattered all of his fight. His hand wasn't bleeding, miraculously enough, and he flexed it a couple of times before giving the handkerchief back to Lestrade.
"Sometimes," Lestrade muttered, tucking the soiled cloth away and pulling a packet from his pocket, "I don't understand a word that comes out of your mouth."
"You're severely underestimating the frequency with which my words confuse you," Sherlock murmured, eyeing the packet as Lestrade opened it and held it out to him. "Cigarettes. Thought you'd given them up, Detective Inspector."
"I have," Lestrade said as Sherlock took one from the packet and plucked a lighter off the mantel. Sherlock glanced at the packet again and his lips disappeared into a thin line.
"Ah," he said. "Fresh packet. Not your usual brand. You bought it from a corner shop on the way over. Testing me, then, I take it. Mycroft would be proud."
"I don't need to test you. The drink did that for me," Lestrade said softly as Sherlock lit the cigarette and then cracked open a window. He stood near it, smoking languidly, watching with apparent fascination as the smoke curled through the air before being sucked out of the window.
"Alcohol's your vice, not mine."
"No, but it's always been a precursor to a spiral. You looked like you could use a smoke, is all." Lestrade put the cigarettes away, and debated for a moment the usefulness of asking his next question. He did it anyway. "Are you clean, Sherlock?"
"You know that I am. John's been keeping you updated."
"I want to hear it from you." Lestrade tucked his hands into his pockets, resisting an urge to grab a cigarette and join Sherlock. "Are you clean?"
There was a long pause, and then finally Sherlock said, "They all care so much."
"We're concerned," Lestrade said, but Sherlock shook his head.
"No, no, not about the drugs," he said, waving a hand. "Mycroft, I mean. Miss Adler. Moriarty. They're so...concerned about sex. My indifference bothers them. Miss Adler, in particular. She couldn't let it go."
He turned fully so that his back was to Lestrade and his eyes were fixed on the street below; his face, reflected in the glass, looked drawn and defeated.
"Did you ever wonder if there was something wrong with me?" Sherlock asked softly.
All the time, Lestrade caught himself about to answer, only half-serious, but it'd have done the damage just the same. And it'd have been wrong, because he'd never wondered about the lack of interest in sex. He had worried about the drugs, mainly, and the lack of empathy, but never about the sex.
"No, sunshine," he said. "Thought never crossed my mind."
Sherlock snorted. "I find that hard to believe. There's one thing in this whole bloody world that I don't understand, and it's the one thing that drives every other human on this planet. Miss Adler couldn't speak to me without slipping in an innuendo - or three. My own brother finds my lack of experience a weakness; Moriarty uses it as an insult. Miss Adler wanted to change me - have me, as she so indelicately put it."
He took a drag from the cigarette, and added in a voice shaking with anger, "I don't desire sex, and I don't want it. It's messy, useless, dull. I have no interest in it, so why can't they bloody accept that? The only thing that matters to me is my mind, and the work. Everything else is transport!"
He slammed his hand against the glass, and the smack of it reverberated throughout the flat.
"Easy, lad," Lestrade muttered. "S'all right. There's nothing wrong with that, you know. With not wanting it."
Sherlock let out a quick, manic laugh and turned so he was facing Lestrade. He leaned back against the window. "And then there's you, Lestrade. In all the years we have known one another, you have not once mentioned this...defect of mine. Is it possible that so many intelligent people could be so very wrong - or are you the one who's mistaken? You are ordinary, Lestrade. Not of particularly high intelligence, nor of particularly prestigious breeding. So how is it that you're the only one who appears to find no fault with who I am?"
"Because there's no fault to be found," Lestrade said quietly. "Right and wrong aren't decided by majority rule. The rest of the world could tell me that you are wrong, that you should want sex; that you should change your ways. It wouldn't matter. But the world doesn't think that, Sherlock. John doesn't. Mrs. Hudson doesn't. And, to some extent, I think even your brother doesn't believe it true. He pushes you because he can, and you've got him fooled as to where your boundaries are. He thinks he can make light of your very being because you let him believe it doesn't affect you."
Sherlock's eyes flicked to the ground as he brought the cigarette to his lips once again.
"Why does it matter so much?" he hissed finally. "They all concern themselves with it, as though one person's lack of interest in sex is a personal affront to them. It's absurd."
"I don't understand." Sherlock's hands curled into fists. "What am I missing, Lestrade? What's wrong with me?"
"There is nothing wrong with you, Sherlock," Lestrade said firmly, "and if I have to phone you every day to tell you this, I will. You don't have to want sex and you don't need to have sex and none of that makes you worthless."
Sherlock gave a disbelieving laugh and turned around to grind out his cigarette on the sill. "You care too much, Detective Inspector. Has anyone ever told you that?"
"I've been accused of worse," Lestrade said. He finally moved from his spot near the kitchen, and took a place at Sherlock's shoulder. Their arms brushed; Sherlock didn't pull away.
"If you listen to only one thing I have to say, let it be this," Lestrade said. "Mycroft was wrong to imply that your virginity is a weakness; Moriarty is an idiot for trying to use it as an insult. There's nothing wrong with it, or with you."
As he went on, Lestrade didn't try to keep the fury out of his tone. "And I don't pretend to know the whole story of what happened with Adler but from what I can tell, she spent months propositioning you, which is nothing short of harassment. You're in mourning over her; I get it. But on my life, I will never forgive her for what she's done to you."
Sherlock blinked, Lestrade saw in the window, and then glanced sideways at him. Lestrade read the unspoken question in his eyes.
"Because she hurt someone I care about," Lestrade told him. "I don't take that lightly."
"John is mistaken, and I fear you are as well. I was not...in love with her," Sherlock said quietly to the window. "She served as yet another reminder of what I will never understand, and am despised for not even wanting. Her overtures were maddening, but I admired her mind. I will miss having an equal. I will not miss having it thrown in my face, every day, that the one thing I don't understand in this world is also the thing that will eventually cost me those...those I have become accustomed to having in my life."
Lestrade rocked back on his heels, staring at their reflections in the window. His gaze then dropped to the tips of his shoes, and he spoke to the ground.
"I don't know if this will mean much to you," he said quietly, "but six years ago I walked into an abandoned building to find this...kid half-dead on the floor, needle still sticking out of his arm. I didn't think he'd survive the night; who knew that years later, I'd be working with him?
"And since that night, we've had relapses and withdrawals, serial killers, awful cabbies, Moriarty, Irene Adler, the British Government...and, well, I'm still here, lad. So's John, and Mrs. Hudson."
Lestrade lifted his eyes and glanced sideways at his companion, who was still staring resolutely out of the window. He added, "We're not going anywhere."
When Sherlock spoke again, his voice reminded Lestrade of sandpaper. "Someday, this won't be enough."
"That's not true," Lestrade said with a shake of his head. "You've read John's blog; seen his girlfriends. What was that blog entry of his some months back? "Life with Sherlock isn't compatible with long-term relationships"? He's thinking of you first, all the time. Life with Sherlock."
Lestrade slung an arm around Sherlock's shoulders, and was heartened when he didn't move away. "And Mrs. Hudson? Lad, you're the closest thing to a son she's ever had. She's never going to leave you - or let you leave Baker Street, probably."
Sherlock let out a soft breath that may have been the beginning of a laugh. "And you?"
"And me," Lestrade mused, considering. Beside him, Sherlock shifted, and if Lestrade didn't know any better he'd have said that Sherlock was leaning into him. "Just...tell Mrs. Hudson to keep 221c open, yeah? I'll need somewhere small to live in my retirement. Can't bumble around my old house forever, now, can I?"
Lestrade felt Sherlock's laugh more than he heard it, and turned his head to press his lips to the damp curls at Sherlock's temple. "There isn't a thing wrong with you, sunshine, you hear? Not a thing. It's all fine."