One Small Touch
A/N: No longer a one shot. Enjoy. Rating may go up later, depends on the direction of the fic.
Water at the Floodgates
It started without him even realizing it. Honestly, he never intended for things to turn out the way they did. A flamate, that was it. A flatmate that would keep an eye on him in lieu of his confounding and interfering elder brother. He could handle that. Besides, he wasn't allowed to go to Lestrade's crime scenes if he slipped into old habits, and it was far better to be on a crime scene than it was to have a few hours of bliss. But his brother was insistent. And so, Sherlock found John. And he was pleased that the ex-military doctor was interested in his cases and The Work as much as he was. And before long, the inevitable happened.
John touched him. Nothing big. Just a brushing glance as he handed him a teacup, but it wasn't the touch itself that shocked Sherlock to his core. No, a small touch wasn't what did it. It was his reaction to that small touch. Because Sherlock was severely hapnophobic. So much so that it was difficult to bring himself to touch anyone without gloves on. And he tended to flinch away when others tried to touch him, and if someone tried to grab him, he tended to lash out. He knew it was extremely irrational for a man with such a rational mind. But somewhere, buried in his mind palace, there was a reason for it. He chose to instead live with it rather than discover the reason.
"Sherlock?" John's voice.
He blinked and looked up. "Yes, John?"
"You've been staring at the teacup for almost half an hour. Your tea is probably cold by now."
Sherlock blinked and stared at the cup and then back up to John. He let his eyes drift to the clock. He blinked. He hadn't lost time like that in a while, he thought to himself, and downed the cold tea quickly. If he didn't drink it, John would be unhappy. And Sherlock didn't want John to be unhappy.
"Is something wrong? Not sick are you?" John asked, taking the empty cup and saucer from the unusually quiet detective.
"Ah, no, m'fine," he mumbled and got to his feet and escaped to his bedroom in a blur, leaving John staring after him. Sherlock needed to think about this.
"So, Sherlock's acting weird," John said, over a pint at the pub.
"John, when you gonna get it through that brain, Sherlock's always weird," Lestrade said, words slightly slurring. Greg was having issues with his wife again. Third time he'd caught her cheating, and he was at a loss for what to do.
"No, like really weird, for Sherlock. He's quiet."
Lestrade perked a brow. "Now that is weird."
"I don't know what happened. I handed him some tea a few days ago and he stared at it like it was some strange object for a long time, then ran off to his room. Haven't seen him much since, and when he does come out he sprawls over the sofa and stares at the ceiling. He hasn't had a case, either, so I figured by now he'd be shooting the walls or at least complaining of boredom," John said, sipping his drink slowly. He didn't come to get drunk, just to make sure Greg got home okay.
"If…oh, did you touch him when ya gave it to 'im?" Greg said, leaning forward and looking at John with drunk intensity.
John blinked. "Um, maybe?"
"There ya go."
John's brow wrinkled. "I don't understand, Greg…"
"He's…he's hap…hap…no…oh fuck it. Scared of bein' touched ya know. Don't let anyone touch him. One of tha reasons Anderson hates him is Phillip decided to grab him by the shoulders on one of th' first scenes he came on and Sher'k broked his nose! Freaked the fuck out and I had to make him leave 'fore he punched someone else. Fer a skinny bastard he hits hard, y'know," he said nodding and rubbing his chin, having obviously been on the receiving end at one time or another.
John thought. "Hapnophobic?"
Greg lit up. "That's it! Of course'n ya'd know, doc and all."
"But…he wasn't showing a phobic reaction, Greg. He didn't panic."
Greg grinned. "Yeah, tha', m'friend, means sumptin. Trus me."
"Greg, you are too drunk. Let's get a cab and send you home, mate," John said fondly. He figured if he was slurring enough that John was having trouble understanding him, it must be time to send him home.
Once he was situated in the cab, John opted to walk home and think. It was muggy. He had never really thought much about Sherlock and his touching or being touched by others. So he decided that best way to start was to simply do as Sherlock did. Observe.
John didn't have to wait long. The next day, around eight, he was awoken by an excitable Sherlock telling him to get dressed, Lestrade had a case. He groaned and rolled from bed to shower and change, rushing to catch the lanky detective before he jumped in the cab he'd magically hailed. John had no idea how in the world he did it. It seemed like the moment he needed a cab, poof, and one came to Sherlock. He could stand out front of 221B for an hour and never get one, Sherlock, less than a minute. He shook his head and listened as Sherlock rattled off the address and smirked.
"Good one?" John asked.
"Murder/suicide by the appearance, but Lestrade thinks it's staged, so we're looking at a seven, maybe eight," he said with that smirk he got when he was on an exciting case.
Sherlock was out and heading toward the tape before John could finish paying the cabbie. He followed shortly thereafter, finding Sherlock already going over the room, his pocket magnifier out and studious. Suddenly he stood and backed away from the bodies and glanced around. He'd taken off his coat and laid it on a chair as he came in, it was early fall, and while a little crisp outside, it was warm inside the building. The heat was on, it seemed.
"What is it, Sherlock?" asked Lestrade, standing and planting hands on his hips. John could see the pain wrinkling the forehead. He had to have a nasty hangover after the night before, he thought.
"Wait…wait…" he muttered, looking around. "But, no, that means that the killer…" he muttered and his eyes landed on a slatted closet door.
It was one of those things that happened so quickly that no one realized what had happened until everything was over. The door to the closet burst outward with a bang, startling everyone, and Sherlock was closest to it, tried to duck the flying door, obviously kicked from the other side, snapping the wood that held it. His duck wasn't entirely successful since it grazed the back of his head, and then there was a hand buried in his dark curls, yanking his head back up from the crouched position he'd been in, and the man had a glittering blade at the detective's throat.
He was a plain man, wearing a white t-shirt and a black jeans. He had a common face with dark hair and deep set eyes. His nose was average, and his lips were nothing special. But the knife was dripping blood already, and was digging in close to the artery in Sherlock's neck. His eyes had gone wide, and his hands were trying to pry the hand off his head.
"Settle down, spaz," he growled at Sherlock who ceased his struggle and became very still.
There were enough officers in the room to take the man on, but it was John who had his own gun trained on the spot between the man's eyes.
"Let him go," John growled low.
Sherlock's eyes though weren't present, and his body was going limp under the man's hand. At first, John thought it was a ploy on Sherlock's part, but then the guy let go of his hair to get a better grip on his slumping shoulders, and Sherlock's body shook violently. John took the opportunity and shot the man in the shoulder of the arm that held the knife. He screamed, dropping Sherlock, who had gone completely limp, and stayed on the ground where he dropped. The knife wielder had dropped the knife and was rugby tackled by a couple officers. John dropped beside Sherlock and shook him. He heard the intake of breath from behind him, Anderson, he thought to himself.
"Sherlock, you okay?" he asked.
He opened his eyes, and John knew the signs of a serious panic when he saw one. He smiled at him. "Hey, just you and me, Sherlock, he's gone. Shot the bastard. What he gets, you know," he said, reaching out and running hands over the dark curls. "You got hit with the door, your head okay?"
He felt around and only felt a nice lump forming on the back of his skull. "You're hard headed, so you're fine. Want to get up?"
Sherlock shook his head, eyes not leaving John's for a second. "Okay, then, let me sit down here, then," he said, moving from his crouch to a sitting position, hands still running through his hair.
"What's going on, John?" Greg asked from behind him.
He shook his head. "Not entirely sure, but it looks like he's in some kind of flashback, it started when that guy grabbed him by the hair, I saw his body change. Not that I'm unfamiliar with them."
"Flashback?" Anderson asked. "Like from PTSD?"
John nodded. "Yeah, exactly. His eyes aren't seeing here, and he's barely hearing me. His heart rate and breath are accelerated, and pupil response isn't normal. He's somewhat in the present. Give him a minute."
John grabbed one of his hands and found it gripped by the bony hand tighter than he expected possible for the thinner man. "Shh, Sherlock, can you hear me yet?"
Sherlock swallowed and nodded. "J-John?" he asked.
"Yes, are you here? I'd like to take you home, do you want to go?" he asked gently, squeezing his hand back.
He blinked, his eyes finally unlocking and seeing John. "Oh…" he said softly, and pulled himself to a sitting position, scrubbing his face. "I thought…oh…I thought I deleted that…oh, not…should have gone away…"
John saw that his hands were shaking as he dropped them between his knees. "Yeah, home, good," he said, still dazed looking.
John nodded and stood, helping him up. Greg, Sally and Anderson watched as John almost manhandled him to his feet, holding him under his arm, and steadying him. He led him out and the magical cab summoning once again succeeded. Sherlock was quiet all the way to the flat, then got out and went in mechanically, to sit on the sofa, dropping his head into his hands. John fixed tea, because everyone knows tea fixes everything, and sat beside Sherlock.
"Want to talk about it? It helps, you know. Experience here," John said, sipping his tea.
Sherlock looked at him and frowned. "What do you mean, John?" he asked.
John sighed. "Sherlock, I know a flashback when I see one. Remember?"
Sherlock nodded, rubbing his hands together and looking off across the room. "I don't remember a lot. When the door burst I knew it was the killer, so I was ready, but then when I had to duck, and he grabbed my hair, I just…something felt weird. I was…wasn't there, but I was there. It was him, but it wasn't. I couldn't tell, I just felt completely helpless, and alone and overwhelmed and I didn't know what else to do, and so…scared. John, I'm never scared like that. I mean, I did deck Anderson for grabbing me once, but it was a heightened response. This…this was different. I couldn't move."
"Sounds like a flashback, Sherlock. You're going to need to get through whatever caused it."
Sherlock shook his head. "I think I deleted the event…"
"You know, Sherlock, sometimes it's hard to delete something that's too big. Maybe that's what happened. Do you know when the event happened?"
He swallowed. "I think…at Uni…"
"Well, for now, you should rest," John said, laying a hand on his leg and patting him.
"I don't understand," he said softly, staring at John's hand.
John arched a blond brow. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, it doesn't bother me, when it's you, John…" he said, frowning at John's hand now. "I've never…not even Mycroft…he knows better…." He said softly. "I remember being hugged before Uni, and then after Uni…no more…couldn't stand to be touched by anyone."
"You rest, Sherlock. I'll see what I can figure out," John said, and despite what he thought, he didn't argue, simply got up and went to bed. After a while, he check on him to find him sound asleep. It wasn't even noon yet, he thought. He picked up the phone.
Mycroft, have a question if you have he texted.
A few minutes later, the phone rang in his hand. He jumped and answered.
"Yes, John?" came the impeccable voice on the other side.
"I was wondering if you knew what happened at Uni with Sherlock. He's started having flashbacks and doesn't remember clearly enough to know what is causing them," John said, no reason to beat around the bush.
There was a long pause. "I wish I did, John. But that was the time he first got into drugs, and came out changed. I'm not really sure what could have happened to cause something like flashbacks. I'll investigate on my end, however."
The call clicked off, and John was left confused and wondering how he could help Sherlock. Something was buried in his psyche and it was working its way to the surface. Whatever it was, Sherlock didn't want it to come out, but John knew that ignoring something that major did nothing but make it worse. He sighed and grabbed his laptop to look up information on Sherlock's class at Uni. Unfortunately, the official records were useless. So he started searching names of students Sherlock's year, and came across a blog by one of them written recently. A man named Joseph VanDremal. He was a CEO of some company, vastly rich and successful, and the blog was written as his apology to the world, it said, because he was dying of incurable brain cancer. Interested, he started to go backward through the entries.
Cheating husband, talks about reasons, what drove him, etc. Bad father, ignored his kids and deserved to have them taken from him. Blah, he thought, then he noticed an entry called "So Sorry, and Unforgivable."
He settled back and pulled it up.
So Sorry and Unforgivable – 12 June 2013
I started this to clear my conscious. Too little too late, mostly. But at least by doing this I can have some sense of having admitted the horrible things I've done in my life and seek some sort of absolution. I know many who commented on my previous entries have supported me, and very few have put me down, though I don't blame those who did. This, however, I doubt will receive any support or well wishes. And it deserves none. Because what I did, what we did, was unforgivable, least of all by the person who was the victim of our actions. The others…they'll never admit it, and I cannot name them. I can't even name the victim. I will reveal my part, but I won't reveal names, and after all this time, there is little to be done by the authorities. It still doesn't change the fact that we committed an act that should send us all to hell. Twice.
I digress. It goes back to Uni days. I was twenty, my best mates were the same age. And as young men who are bored and have too much money, we wandered the campus looking for unsuspecting students younger than us. That's when we found him. I swear, we thought he was a girl at first. Longish dark hair that curled down his neck, and big doe eyes, I think they were blue, I'm not sure anymore. It doesn't matter. But they were innocent. So bright, and so full of wonder at everything in the world. We followed him, of course, just to see, and found him to be exceptionally bright. He was either in class or holed up in his dorm or locked up with one of the professors doing some strange experiments. One memorable one happened when he blew up half the chemistry lab. We were so sure our quarry would be expelled, but no, he simply helped fix the mess, and went on his merry way.
Simply began, we talked to him. He was obviously starved for attention. He was quick and abrasive and told absolutely nothing but the truth, and would tell you truths about yourself you really didn't want to admit. I had to admit, I was totally smitten. Here I thought I was straight as a rule, but not with this boy around. When the somewhat leader of our group noticed, he grinned. He dared me to ask him on a date. I was aghast, saying that that was ridiculous I was straight. He told me not to worry, just pretend he was a girl, that I had an imagination.
So I agreed. I guess part of me was too enamored with him to noticed what the others said as I walked toward where he was sitting, long lanky legs crossed, reading a senior physics book. I can still picture him. The image is clear in my mind as he looked up and grinned and said hi to me. I asked if he wanted to go out for ice cream, just the two of us. He looked so confused and then his eyes cleared and he asked if I meant like a date or like friends. I smiled shyly and said like a date. He blushed, and my heart raced. He nodded, and I said to meet me at the shoppe at three.
I headed back to class and told the others. Again, I should have listened to what they said as I floated away. I should have listened to the planning. Because my simple ice cream date was not on their mind at all. So I ended up playing my part perfectly.
The date was nice. We talked, he told me about an annoying older brother he had that was always on his case, and his parents were dreadfully dull and boring, but he cared for them because they put up with him. I don't think I've ever in my entire life had a better time, looking back. Sitting across a dingy ice cream shoppe table with a boy that had lit a fire in my heart like no one before or since ever could. I remember reaching over and running a hand through those soft, wild curls of dark hair and grinning. I smiled shyly and asked if he'd like to see the flat I rented with my friends. Again he blushed and nodded and I was ecstatic. I'd taken more than one to my bed, but this…this was different. He was so pristine, and I just wanted to see those eyes opened in ecstasy and wanted to be the reason for it. Call it hormones, what you will, but from the looks I was getting, I didn't doubt that he was interested. So we left, walking hand in hand, talking as we went to the three bedroom flat I shared with four other guys. I had my own room, since I paid most of the rent.
I guided my new love in gently, and set about snogging him senseless while he straddled my lap in my favorite chair. I couldn't get his clothes off fast enough, and he seemed to comply. I couldn't believe it! Everything was working, and I just wanted this angelic creature for my own. Soon we were naked, and he was in my lap and the world was exploding in bliss around us. Until the door slammed open to my room. I gripped the boy on my lap hard and looked up as the four of my mates were standing there while I was mid-coitus with the boy I'd dreamed of for weeks.
'Jake' reached out an snatched his head roughly back and grinned at me. And thanked me for all my hard work, and he looked at me startled and looked about ready to cry, it seemed. My mouth wouldn't work as he fought off the oldest of my group, Jake, who was my friend, my mentor. He drug him off my lap, cuffing him on the back of his head as he did, and I could tell what was happening but I couldn't move, I was frozen, and I couldn't stand to even call someone, to help him, nothing, and in the end, they told me to finish what I started, and so help me, I did. I did, because in some way, I thought maybe, that angelic boy would see how sorry I was if I made it up to him, made him feel good after what they'd done to him. But he wouldn't look at me, weeping into the bed sheets as I cupped his face.
I don't remember what happened after that. I passed out, and I woke up and he was gone, my sheets stained with blood and I ran and threw up in the bathroom until I heaved so much that I pulled my stomach muscles and burst a blood vessel in one eye. But it wasn't the worst. No, that wasn't the worst.
The worst was seeing him at school. My friends, well, those I thought had been my friends, would laugh and yell, calling him a good whore and a slut, and all sorts of things. And I never did. No, I would stare, and if he turned my direction, his eyes were empty. The spark, the wonder, everything I'd fallen in love with was simply gone. He never spoke to any of us, never acknowledged what they said, and maybe that was the worst. If he'd been angry, punched me, anything…maybe I could have explained. But he didn't. And so here I am, years later, telling strangers the day I became lower than dirt and deserving of all the terrible things that happened in my life.
I know, dying gives perspective right? Well, I know a little about my angelic boy today. And he's still out there, but I can't help but feel responsible for what he became in some ways. Not long afterward, I remember seeing him, sitting staring up at the sky, laying out under a tree, and I dared to walk closer, and found he wasn't really present, eyes red rimmed, pupils blown wide, and where he laid, I saw the telltale track marks in his arm where his sleeve was rolled up on one side. And again, I was lurching to the loo and retching everything I'd eaten. Because I knew, I knew it was our fault. My fault. My angel. And in the end, my angel saves me. It is because of him I write this silly blog. And maybe one day he'll come across it. Maybe he won't. He doesn't have to forgive me. I don't need it because there is no forgiveness for this.
My angelic boy. The only boy I've ever loved, and perhaps the only person I've ever really loved in my whole life, loved from the core of my being and beyond. And I utterly destroyed him. That is my greatest sin, and for this, I will die unforgiven of it.
John held his breath. He scrolled and found that the man had succumbed to his illness two months previously. He had clues, but no answers. It could be Sherlock, the age and description were right, but what if it wasn't? He sighed and stared at his hand. This had all started with a simple touch. That was all, just a simple touch. Could John heal with that same touch?
He had to try.