|Where the Lines Overlap
Author: naturally morbid PM
AU. John is the new librarian's assistant to research librarian Sherlock. He is determined to prove his new boss wrong about his expectations and they're both surprised when a relationship of sorts begins to develop. However, the appearance of a new coworker threatens their bond. John has his work cut out for him.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Sherlock H. & John W. - Chapters: 11 - Words: 35,219 - Reviews: 49 - Favs: 54 - Follows: 132 - Updated: 03-24-13 - Published: 05-28-12 - id: 8161022
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: My first Sherlock fanfiction, so I hope I haven't royally screwed anything up. I'll keep this note brief.
Just a few things to know: AU [alternate universe – as in different from the show's plot] Sorry if they are OOC, they tend to behave a certain way in my head, sometimes not always correctly. I've tried to keep the tone more British, and I apologize for any errors there. I'm American. Feel free to point any out to me (at least as nicely and professionally as possible – don't just use it for an excuse to flame or vent about your day). The library is not specific in the story, what is more important is character interaction (and eventually their relationship as that is I am sure the reason you are here in the first place). Who doesn't love a naughty librarian? ^_^ Yeah, I think that's everything there, for now at least.
Summary: AU. John is the new librarian's assistant to research librarian Sherlock. He is determined to prove his new boss wrong about his expectations, but they both might be surprised when a relationship begins to develop, where the lines between boss and subordinate overlap.
Disclaimer: I don't own. Not even the DVDs, at least this week. Title is borrowed from a Paramore song.
Where the Lines Overlap
Chapter 001: 000 General Works, Information, Computer Science
John Watson knew that he needed to find a job, now that he was fresh out of school. He had never envisioned himself employed at a library growing up. Yet, there he stood outside of his community library in the early morning sun, wondering exactly what he was doing.
He supposed he was bookish enough, though his passions had lain initially in the medical field. However, medical school did not pan out as he had hoped and he had to explore other options. Library and Information Science had proved almost as thrilling.
It's just an interview, John, he told himself as he brushed his hair away from his forehead. Already sweaty. Nothing to panic about. His palms were covered in crescent shaped dents from his fingernails, his fists balling tightly for seconds at a time.
He had known the head librarian his whole life. John had walked through these doors numerous times for materials, for both pleasure and study. He took a soothing breath, gathering his wits, and pulling the heavy door open.
Cold air washed over him, permeated by the smell of well-preserved classics and crisp binding. It was comforting, familiar. John was sure to inhale a deep lung full as he proceeded to the circulation desk where the head librarian was waiting.
Mrs. Hudson was a petite woman with light blond hair, cut in a refreshingly modern style for a woman of her age. She smiled at John now and he could catch a glimpse of the heartbreaker she probably was in her time. He had always considered her like his librarian fairy godmother. There was no book it seemed that she couldn't find for him when he was a child.
"John," she laughed as she came around the desk to grasp his hand. "You look as if you are going to be sick."
"I'm just nervous," he told her, swallowing the lump in his throat.
"Well there is no reason to be. I wouldn't have recommended the job to you if I didn't think you weren't capable. Now come with me so we can get the formalities out of the way." She took his arm, escorting him toward the upstairs half of the library.
The interview was grueling, but John had expected it would be so. The Librarian Assistant position involved a few more administrative duties than just being a circulation clerk. As he left, Mrs. Hudson patted his arm and gave him a wink. John wasn't sure if that meant he had the job in the bag or if she was trying to wipe the worried expression from his face.
John doubted that he got the job, as he later considered the answers he had provided for the impromptu verbal quiz he to which he had been subjected at the hands of the director.
Walking home, he quickly picked a few other professions to begin exploring at least for temporary employment while he tried to figure out what would be the best life decision. He didn't dare hope that the job was his. He was never that lucky.
A week later John was having afternoon tea and scouring the paper for "help wanted" ads when his cell phone began to ring, with the annoying pre-programmed ringtone that sounded like a Caribbean cruise ship theme. He flipped it open without bothering to check the number.
"Yes?" he asked, figuring it was probably his family contacting him.
"Mrs. Hudson?" he confirmed.
"Yes of course."
"How good to hear from you Mrs. Hudson. I thought I got two phone calls before you sent the police for overdue books," he joked.
"Oh no, nothing like that! Besides, they'll be easier to monitor from work, if you should accept the position."
"You mean to say that I got the job?"
"Of course. Was there any doubt?" He wanted to tell her there had been plenty, but he held his tongue.
"No, of course not."
"So you accept?"
"Yes, yes, I accept." Easier than a marriage proposal and twice as beneficial.
"Excellent dear. Come in tomorrow and we will square away your paper work so you can begin assisting." They confirmed the details and John hung up, with the world looking much better than before.
By the end of the first day however, John was wondering if he would return for a second round of torture as he collapsed into a chair, waiting for his tea water to come to a boil.
The morning had not been off to a great start with the grey skies above signaling rain later. John was half way to the library when it began to piss down. He arrived, sopping wet, his dark blond, grey-flecked hair pasted down to his forehead.
Passing motorists had not minded the puddles, John being splashed every third car or so. Yelling insults had made him feel better, but did not make his trousers dry.
He stopped in the staff loo, located near the back entrance, grabbing a handful of paper napkins to try to minimize the damage. His shoes and trousers were soaked, his shoes making the awful squelching sound as he moved across the black and white tile. His button down plaid shirt was dry, thanks to his leather jacket. He hoped the "just popped out of the shower" excuse would fly if anyone was curious.
Stepping into the hall, John was more concerned with not being late instead of who might be venturing into the loo after him. He was knocked against the doorjamb, minor temporary pain flooding his back first and then his head as he realized he had connected with another person.
"Sorry," he mumbled, looking up at his victim. "Are you alright?" He noticed the most striking pair of blue eyes first, before he connected them with a face. His victim was quite tall, John only colliding with him at chest level.
The stranger didn't say a word, just stared down at John insolently. John couldn't help but notice how eye-catching his victim was, with high cheekbones and dark, curly hair. The stranger cleared his throat, and it was a few seconds before John realized that he was being asked to move.
"Oh sorry, right. Uh, nice to meet you…," John told him awkwardly as he stepped aside, into the hall. The stranger merely slammed the loo door shut in response. John swallowed uneasily, as he headed for Mrs. Hudson's office.
"There you are John. I was starting to think that you might have been washed away in all this weather," she laughed, indicating the storm beyond her windows. She took in his ragged appearance before he had a chance to explain. "Though it seems like you might have taken an adventure down the drain already."
"Well, I didn't think it was going to rain as soon as it did."
"Quite alright," she nodded. "Anyway, you'll dry once you get started. First, we'll get your paperwork out of the way for administration. I'm sure you want to be paid for your hours." She handed him a packet of things. John was in the middle adding his information on the first form when someone stopped into the office behind him.
"Mrs. Hudson!" a rich baritone demanded. She glanced up at the same time John did. It was the stranger from the loo. John looked down quickly, to avoid being recognized, even though it was probably hopeless.
"Yes Sherlock?" she asked sweetly. There was a pause and John knew that those keen blue eyes were trained on the back of his head. John thought his name was a little odd.
"You would do well to remind your dogs to stay on your leash," he said. John knew what "dog" to which he was referring. He slunk down in his seat a little further, trying to concentrate on filling out his paperwork.
"Well actually Sherlock, this is your assistant." John wished that he could have been anywhere else but the office just then. "We're starting his paperwork." John knew that he needed to turn around and confront his new boss.
Breathing out in a rush, he turned in the chair, it squelching from his rain-damp trousers. He could see a forehead-shaped water stain on the front of Sherlock's dark blue button down where John's head had connected moments before.
"Hello," he greeted, flashing his friendliest smile and holding out his right hand in standard handshake greeting. Sherlock ignored it, studying his new assistant carefully. "I'm John. John Watson," he introduced. His hand felt awkward just hanging in midair, so after a few seconds of no contact, he let it fall into his lap.
Sherlock made a sound in his throat and then looked over John's head at Mrs. Hudson. "And just where did you pick this one up? The community charity?"
"Sherlock Holmes!" she protested, "honestly!"
"It's okay," John interjected, holding up a hand to stifle any further utterance from Mrs. Hudson. "I'll just work that much harder to prove you wrong."
"Get used to disappointment," Sherlock told him as he spun on his heel and stalked off down the hall. John turned back around to see Mrs. Hudson rubbing her temples.
"Mrs. Hudson, perhaps I'm not right for this job. Maybe he would b-"
"Never you mind," she told him, "you're perfect for the job. Don't listen to him. Sherlock is just difficult sometimes."
"What happened to his last assistant?" John asked. Mrs. Hudson suddenly went very quiet, shifting papers around her desk unnecessarily. "Mrs. Hudson?"
"Poor thing. She had only been here a few hours and he sent her home crying." John waited for her to elaborate but she never did. "Couldn't be helped I suppose. That's why I suggested you dear. I'm sure it's more difficult for you to cry. You just finish your paperwork and we'll get started."
It was early afternoon before John could emerge from the office. Mrs. Hudson had run his paperwork upstairs already and they were now about to start their tour of the behind the scenes at the library.
John knew it would take him a while to recall the names of the people Mrs. Hudson introduced him to. He hoped they wouldn't take it personally if he didn't couldn't recall them all on the first few days.
As they reached Sherlock's office, John was relieved to see that his new boss was absent for the time being. However, upon further inspection, John wondered if he might have been misplaced among the stacks of reference books or papers. The place was chaos, in paper form.
"You'll be expected to keep it organized for him," Mrs. Hudson was explaining. "As well as this list of duties," she told him, handing over a crumpled sheet of paper. John wondered if his predecessor had used the sheet in which to cry.
The list did not look difficult. Housekeeping duties were listed, as well as handling money, answering the phone, processing interlibrary loans and overdue notices, and other administrative tasks. "He's one of our best researchers, but he is not a very good housekeeper."
"I couldn't tell," John replied dryly.
"Oh John, I remember your sense of humor," Mrs. Hudson smiled. "Now, I know this looks a little imposing, but I trust your abilities. If I were you, I would begin with the computer first, since that's what you'll be working with the most. I'll come check on you in a bit. Just familiarize yourself with everything."
"Sure thing." He meandered his way around the stacks of research, stopping to shift piles from his desk to other piles to create a workable surface. Judging by the thin layer of dust on the monitor and CPU, John figured no one had been using it for a few weeks. The library's computer system was the same that he had trained on at school, so he was already familiar.
He sat precariously on the rickety office chair that had been holding a stack of documents as he tried to encourage the computer to operate. If he thought the physical office around him was a disaster area, the computer was nothing short of a virtual wasteland. John busied himself with trying to find some way to organize everything in an orderly fashion, which impaired his ability to sense the outside world.
"And what are you doing off your leash?" a recognizable baritone demanded right beside John's ear, the breath hot and tickly on his skin. John, once perched on the side of the chair, found himself dumped on the floor, the mouse and keyboard clattering down around him.
"I was uh-well-Mrs. Hudson-Do you always sneak up on people?" John queried as he tried to maintain some dignity despite his less than graceful tumble to the floor. Sherlock was leaning with his hip against the side of the desk, scrutinizing John as he floundered.
"Only if they sneak up on me first. What, may I ask, are you doing in my office?"
"I sent him here Sherlock," Mrs. Hudson told him with pleasure, as she appeared in the doorway. "I thought it wouldn't hurt to get the renovations started today." With Sherlock momentarily distracted, John pushed the mouse and keyboard back onto the desk, using the edge to haul himself up. "It's a wonder you're able to find anything in this place. If I had more time, I would do the deed myself."
"I like it the way it is," Sherlock notified her. "I have my own filing system."
"No you don't. At least not one used by the rest of the world," John said, brushing himself off. Sherlock was now examining the relocated piles with an unconvinced eye.
"Now how will I be able to locate anything?" Sherlock challenged, picking up a stack of paperwork at random.
"How do you do it now?" John shrugged nonchalantly, though he detected the first bead of sweat running down his back. Sherlock raised an eyebrow, but did not answer him.
"Can I see you in the hall for a moment Mrs. Hudson?" Sherlock asked her, with his eyes still trained on John.
"Why certainly, but if you are going to try to convince me that John is not suitable for the job, I'm going to have to disagree." Sherlock was silent once more.
"Come back tomorrow," Sherlock told John.
"That's the spirit Sherlock," Mrs. Hudson said. "John, if you'll follow me to my office so we can make a schedule?"
"Sure thing, Mrs. Hudson." He shut down the computer quickly, under Sherlock's inert stare. "You know," John started to Sherlock as he brushed past him toward the hall, "you're just like an old man. You would rather leave your office in a state of squalor than accept a little help."
"I am not an old man," Sherlock objected, the barest hint of a smirk ghosting his lips. "This is the office on a good day." John ignored him as he headed, stiff backed, to Mrs. Hudson's office. She was on the phone with someone, disconnecting quickly before John could catch more than his name being mentioned.
"Well John. Not ready to run away are you?" she asked as she drew up a schedule.
"A little," he sighed. Sherlock, for all he was good looking was as mean as a snake in the grass. And yet, John found that he couldn't quit thinking about him. John had never considered himself homosexual. He really didn't consider himself anything when it came to intimacy, as he had been busy enough to avoid it so far. So what if his new boss was good looking? He passed plenty of good-looking people every day, men and women.
"Everyone feels that way on the first day," Mrs. Hudson told him kindly, patting his hand. "Go home, get out of this dreadful weather, and have a cup of tea. You'll feel better. You have a big week ahead of you and Sherlock is not going to make it easy on you."
As John walked home, not noticing the rain still pouring on him, he had no doubt that Sherlock was going to make things twice as difficult on him. His kettle was finally whistling, John rising stiffly from his chair to take it from the stove.
John wasn't fond of giving up, even when he should have. Come on old boy, he's just like a difficult child. You can manage him. He stirred the tea bag, trying to rush the process. No big deal. You've dealt with worse.
Mentally talking himself into it, John hoped that he was right and Sherlock wasn't going to run him from the office too. Or if he does, I'll be sure not to cry. He sipped at the hot liquid. At least in front of anyone.
John guessed he had some masochistic tendencies, as he resolved to show up at work again the next day.
Author's End Note: Don't be afraid to drop me a line and tell me what you think. I don't bite, unless you want me to.