|Reason Behind the Jumpers
Author: Sociopath in the TARDIS PM
"It's stupid that he still does it really, but it's rather become a life-long habit instead of the addiction it is for some people." Original Prompt: "Sherlock walks in on John holding a blade to his wrist. That's why John wears jumpers " Also on AO3.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Hurt/Comfort - John W. & Sherlock H. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,217 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 51 - Follows: 22 - Updated: 07-02-12 - Published: 05-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8116222
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Basically full of angst and whoops, it's a self harm fic, yes. Pretty much, don't read if you think it'll trigger for those of you out there.
'Kay, cool, public service announcement done.
Navy Blue with Thick White Stripes
He expects Sherlock to notice eventually, immediately in fact. But he doesn't, and isn't that just the most surprising thing? He doesn't notice all the times that John winces when he drags him to and from crime scenes by the wrists, the harsh woollen fabric of his jumpers catching and snagging in a way that's both horrible but wonderful and invigorating at the same time – it's always amazing that Sherlock is able to miss the small, quiet hiss of combined pain and satisfaction every time it happens.
Even more amazing is the fact that Sherlock apparently overlooks how every single shirt that John owns is actually long sleeved, how every jumper is just that little bit too big for him so that the cuffs hang and dangle halfway over his hands to give him a false sense of delusional security. Sherlock doesn't notice how John subconsciously pulls at his sleeves in self-conscious actions that he's not really aware of himself. Nor does he notice the way that it falls out of tempo after only a few hours anyway, only to return two or so days later when angry red marks are fresh on his arms once more.
If he ever had to go to hospital because of them, it'd be a dead giveaway but no, no. John is a doctor himself – he knows how to clean wounds, how to effectively disinfect cuts and sterilise them; he knows how to stitch too deep gashes together again. In true honesty, he's sewn himself back together so many times now that he may as well have become a ragdoll himself quite some time ago.
It's stupid that he still does it really, but it's rather become a life-long habit instead of the addiction it is for some people. He started when he was thirteen and still getting used to life in secondary school, still trying to fit in with his classmates. One of the people in his class decided to make a joke about someone cutting themselves and, because John didn't understand what his fellow student was trying to say when the rest of the class apparently did, he wanted to try it for himself – if not to understand then to see if it really was as easy to do as his classmates had made it sound.
He wasn't even able to break the thin skin that lined his wrist until one horrid night when his sister had returned home drunk and shouting. His dad had bellowed so loud at her in return that the neighbours had visited the next day to see if everything the night before had been okay. His mother had cried originally, her wails high pitched and piercing in the darkness of the night. The day after she had been calm, collected, and had explained to the neighbours that everything had just been a bit of a misunderstanding between family members.
John, on that night, had stood from his bed and retrieved the blade from the pencil sharpener he had dismantled four days prior. He'd pushed it hard against the inside of his wrist and had dragged it slowly across the pale surface of the skin, firstly confused then secondly panicked as he saw the blood quickly rising from the thin crimson line that now adorned his wrist. The action had been repeated three more times before John had thrown the small sliver of sharpened metal across to the other side of the room. Blood had congealed on the skin of his wrist quicker than he had expected and – in his hurry to stop the flow – he'd pressed the fabric of his shirt against it.
When his mother had asked him where the darkened stain on his shirt had come from, he'd merely sheepishly smiled at her and rubbed the back of his neck in a boyish gesture before blaming it on a nosebleed. She'd shook her head and chuckled at him before tapping her index finger against his nose as she gently told him, "Tissues are for noses, Johnny – not t-shirts."
It had got worse from there on in and, by the time he was fifteen, he'd escalated steadily from turning to the blade every six months to three months to one month to two weeks to every day, little red marks being added to different parts of his body in a steady current of slashes and gashes upon his skin. When he'd gone to University to study for his medical exams it had stopped all together, time instead being dedicated to the revision and memorisation of every bit of information his textbooks held. By the time he had signed up for the army, the scars had faded to barely there white lines. When he was fighting for the lives of both himself and his comrades, he didn't need the blade to distract himself from anything because he was being distracted from the blade by the excitement and horror that exploded into colour around him.
And then he was shot.
He was sent back to the bustling, boring streets of London and the continuous, repetitive life of an average, overlooked civilian. He was directed to a councillor but she didn't know and John sure as hell knew himself that he wasn't ever going to tell her – she could work it out for herself, it was her job after all. Needless to say, he'd started again without fully meaning to give into the temptation around him.
When he'd moved in with Sherlock it had escalated to something he did every two or so days, because – while Sherlock and life with him likened to that of the noise and horror that a battlefield held – it wasn't nearly so sufficiently distracting. The problem with habits is that it's harder to stop than it is to stop an addiction. With an addiction it's a craving for something; with a habit it's a source of normality, a source of routine. Sherlock is probably the furthest away from a source of normality and routine as one could get.
So he rids away with all the short sleeve shirts he owns, even the ones he merely wore to bed once, and gives them to a charity shop a few streets away from the flat. He buys four new jumpers and Sherlock buys him a fifth one (navy blue and thick white stripes) as a present and he appreciates the gesture more than he probably should. He keeps the few button up shirts he owns and buys a fresh pack of razor blades from Tescos the next time he heads out of the flat to buy milk so that this way he can throw out the flimsy sharpened metal he's ripped from various other objects – sharpeners, small scalpels, disposable razors.
And that's how he sits now, a fresh razor blade pressed over the healed but scarred skin of his wrist and all he can think about is how long it's actually been since he's last been able to cut this area (he's starting to lose track of whether this is truly just a habit or if it's starting to become an addiction now – if his self made excuses are falling down around him or not).
Sherlock has been playing the violin for the last three hours and hasn't shown the slightest sign of letting up just yet so John feels safe in the knowledge that he won't be interrupted during his sort of macabre form of a deluded ritual. He doesn't drag steel across skin just yet, instead he lets himself get lost in his memories of the times he's done this before, been in this exact position before, and it's like he's thirteen again with his ripped out pencil sharpener blade pressed to the inside of his delicate wrist but not yet possessing the strength to pull it across.
There's a faint ringing in the background and the ceasing of a melody but he's not able to fully pay attention to or acknowledge it. He's never once actually cried whilst doing this and he's probably not going to any time soon – not during the actual cutting anyway, he's cried plenty of times afterwards when he was a child. What he's aware of though, every time he does it, is a dull ache that grows and grows inside his chest and he's pushed it down every time before, ignored it. But today it just physically hurts and drains him as it curls and tightens in his chest, behind his ribs. He grips the cold metal with his forefinger and thumb and is about to drag it across when—
"John, Lestrade called and there's been—"
He's not entirely sure who it is but either he or Sherlock takes a sharp breath in. It's only when it catches in his throat that he realises that it was, in fact, him. John doesn't look up but he can feel the surprise in Sherlock's gaze as he stares at him, pins him with his eyes as he tries to unravel and make sense of the situation that has been thrown down before him.
"Get out, Sherlock."
There are a few moments of silence and when the first drop of water splashes and breaks against the unmarred and unbloodied skin of John's wrist he's completely and utterly confused for a few seconds. Then he realises he's crying as the second drop falls to hit the metal surface of the razor and he feels so weak and so, so stupid. Sherlock still hasn't left and John can practically hear the gears turning inside that genius mind of the detective's as he tries to deduce just what exactly is going on in front of his eyes but fails to do so. John just stays still, fingers beginning to hurt as his grip remains consistently tight on the razor.
And then pale, white, nervous fingers curl around the wrist of the hand holding the miniature weapon of the self and then it's being pulled away, his fingers loosening to let the metal fall from his grip and hit the wooden flooring of his bedroom with a soft, quiet 'plink'. The companions to the first set of pale, white, nervous fingers grip the fabric of the jumper he's wearing (navy blue and thick white stripes) and tug it back down over the exposed skin of his wrist, hiding the scars that a lifetime of abuse left in its wake.
The tears are rolling down his cheeks in a slow, steady and unstoppable stream now and no matter how hard he tries, he can't quell their flow – nor can he control the way his breath hitches when he tries to suck a breath in to ground himself, steady himself, just a tiny bit. It doesn't work in the slightest and he's suddenly aware of everything around him, everything his environment has to throw at him: Sherlock hovering above him, nervous and unsure of what to do; a dull, unsatisfied numb feeling fluttering across the unbroken skin of his wrist; the burning sensation of yet-to-fall tears behind his eyes.
Then he's all too aware of arms circling around him and pulling him close against the warmer-than-expected chest of his flatmate that continues to stand (continues to stay) in front of him despite the orders he gave for him to leave. John hesitates for a few long and stretched seconds before he brings his arms up to curl them around Sherlock's torso and waist, hands fisting themselves into the blue, silken fabric of the supposed sociopath's dressing gown.
John hadn't expected the comfort but he welcomes it and – for the first time in far, far too long – he lets go and simply cries into Sherlock's chest, strong arms and the bond of friendship encasing and protecting him.
So I posted this over on AO3 first and kind of just want to post it here now for the sake of it. Plus it got some rather nice feedback and I want to know what you guys think.
Second chapter will be added now.