Summary: If John Watson loves Mary, where does that leave Sherlock?
A/N: I haven't seen series 3 yet (I know, shame on me!) so this is all based on inspiration from one line that I've heard Sherlock say in fanvids: "You. It's always you, John Watson. You keep me right." Having no context for this quote other than John getting married, my muse apparently decided it means possibly slashy things. Also, extra points if you catch the Doctor Who references!
Keep Me Right
John is wearing a three-piece suit. It is odd to see him in something other than a jumper. A woman is standing in front of him, in an elaborate bridal gown that surely cost more than it is worth. John stares at her, his blue-grey eyes fixed on her, heedless of everyone else in the room. Mary wanted a traditional wedding, so they are all packed into a chapel, with a priest presiding over the bride and groom. Sherlock fidgets, discomfited by the physical proximity of the other guests, his nose twitching at the faint scent of incense.
"Speak now or forever hold your peace."
The priest's voice rings over the gathering, confident in the knowledge that none will speak against the imminent joining of John Watson and Mary Moran in holy matrimony. The crowd is obligingly silent. John glances out at the guests, and his eyes—as they have always done— find Sherlock. Their multicolored depths search him. John never explicitly asked for Sherlock's approval of the marriage, but his desire for it was clear. Sherlock never gave the approval, and John's gaze now is curious and a bit fearful, as if he suspects Sherlock will mar his wedding day with trivial objections.
Sherlock does not like Mary Morstan. He does not believe that John will be happy with her, because Mary is so mundane, so unexciting. John loves excitement, the thrill of detective work and war and emergency surgeries. Sherlock could give him that excitement, could take his hand as they run from the police, could breathe assurances as he tears the bomb from John's chest. He has done those things. He would do them again.
But it is impossible. His death killed any chance he could have with John Watson, left a great rift between them. Sherlock is usually brilliant, but it takes him far too long, too late, to realise what John means to him.
John's eyes slide back to Mary, and Sherlock holds his peace.
"Speak now or forever hold your peace."
The crowd is silent, save for the occasional rustle of clothing. John glances out at the guests, and his eyes—as they have always done— find Sherlock. Their multicolored depths lock onto him, and Sherlock knows that this is his last chance. He must act now or the rift between him and John will grow ever wider, until they are cut off completely from each other. The urgency swells in him, and before he even comprehends what is he doing he stands briskly. He fixes his gaze on John as he steps out into aisle.
"John," he says, then hesitates. Sherlock has never been one for revealing, or even acknowledging, his emotions, but right now his feelings need to be spoken. The confused thoughts jumble in his head, living things tangled in a rush to present themselves to John.
John's eyes bore into him, questioning and curious, and Sherlock focuses on them. The others in the chapel are forgotten; the world is him and John.
"It's you. It's always you, John Watson." His voice gains strength as he speaks, and he holds out his hands as he walks toward the groom. "You keep me right. You keep me human. I need you with me, John." His hands are floating out in front of him, reaching for John as they have always done, as they did when he stood on the ledge of a hospital roof. "Please," he adds quietly. He is not used to begging.
John's mouth is hanging slightly open. His eyes are unreadable pools. A stifling suspenseful silence fills the church. No one seems to be breathing; the shock is all but palpable. For a brief moment, Sherlock has a vision of Mycroft's face painted with astonishment. John stutters to life.
"Sher- Sherlock, um…" He steps away from Mary and makes an awkward hand gesture that could mean any number of things. His eyes are looking everywhere, unsure of where to land. "Sherlock, could I speak to you for a minute, um…?" His voice is heightened with nervousness, and he pulls Sherlock by the sleeve, leads him behind a stone pillar so that they are just shielded from view.
"Sherlock, what are you doing?"
Sherlock is miffed. He blinks at John. "I'm telling you how I… feel, obviously," he says crisply, trying to keep the condescension out of his voice. John bites his lip, glances at the gathering. He searches the air for a question to ask.
"Is this a game to you, Sherlock?"
The question throws him. He blinks again, anger ballooning inside him. He sharpens his gaze on John, tightens his voice. "Of course it isn't. You know I wouldn't do that to you."
John looks away. "I don't." The memories of gravestones and secret laboratories flicker in his eyes. You drugged me? and Please, Sherlock, don't be dead are written on his face, clearer than any case file Sherlock has ever read. Shame fills him. It is a feeling that Sherlock associates uniquely with John. No one else can make him feel so low. No one else can make him feel anything the way John does.
"John." His hand moves in the air, as if to touch John's arm. The gesture falls short, trails back to Sherlock's side, but it is enough to draw John's attention back to Sherlock. The doctor examines Sherlock's face closely, and myriad unasked questions are apparently answered by whatever he finds there, and he nods to himself.
"Okay," says John. "Okay."
Surprised pleasure fills Sherlock, and he almost starts at the unfamiliar feeling. He is seldom surprised, and almost never pleased by things that don't involve murder.
John says, "What do I do?"
Mary is still waiting, and Sherlock realises that leaving a woman at the altar is not a very John-like thing to do. Sherlock reaches out again, and this time his hand doesn't shy away from John's warmth. His hand entwines in John's, no handcuffs or danger binding them this time, and he tightens his long fingers around John's shorter ones.
"Come with me."
"It's you. It's always you, John Watson." His voice gains strength as he speaks, and he holds out his hands as he walks toward the groom. "You keep me right. You keep me human. I need you with me, John." His hands are reaching for John as they have always done, as they did when he stood on the ledge of a hospital roof. "Please," he adds quietly. He is not used to begging.
John's mouth is hanging slightly open. His eyes are bleak pools, filled with amazement and a bit of fear. Silence fills the church, an oppressive stillness that seems to press against Sherlock's stomach.
John gapes, and after a few tries is finally able to eject some semblance of words from his mouth. "Sher- Sherlock, um…" He steps away from Mary, looking everywhere but at Sherlock.
"Sherlock, could I speak to you for a minute, um…?" His voice is high-pitched, as it always is when he gets nervous, and he pulls Sherlock by the sleeve, leads him behind a stone pillar so that they are just shielded from view.
"Sherlock, what are you doing?"
Irked, Sherlock blinks at John. "I'm telling you how I… feel, obviously," he says crisply, trying to keep the condescension out of his voice. John bites his lip, glances at the gathering. He searches the air for a question to ask.
"Are you okay? Is someone making you do this?"
Sherlock tilts his head, narrows his eyes. "What?" It is not a question he is used to asking, for he usually knows all the answers. John is the one puzzle he could never quite figure out.
John furrows his brow. "Is someone threatening you?"
For the first time in a long time, Sherlock is at a loss for words. He stares, thrown off by John's reaction. He mentally files through a number of responses, finally finds an acceptable one. "You think this is something to do with a case," he says flatly. More foreign emotions flutter up in him, emotions with names like disappointment and confusion and disbelief.
John stares at Sherlock as if the answer is obvious. For once, the clues are eluding Sherlock. "Oh, Sherlock, for God's sake. Why else would you say… that?"
"I meant it." Sherlock's voice is quiet. He can't quite look at John.
"You—you meant…?" John is as lost as Sherlock now, the chasm between them growing as doubt nudges at Sherlock, doubt ever more terrifying than the doubt that attacked him at the Baskervilles. Could he have imagined it all, imagined the lingering gazes and small touches and strange affection between them? He does not think so, for if he did than his imagination is more fertile than he gave it credit.
"Did you have to do this bloody now?" John mutters, rubbing his hands over his face, trying to iron out the stress. He sighs.
"Sherlock," John's voice is soft and sad, and Sherlock can't bring himself to look. He doesn't suffer humiliation well. He knows now that he should not have spoken, that it has taken him far too long, too late, to realise that John does not feel the same.
"Sherlock, I'm sorry." John's voice is heavy with regret, imploring Sherlock to understand. He inadvertently looks toward Mary, who is still waiting patiently. "I just… I can't do it. It's like… human feelings are a game to you, and you've played with mine too many times, Sherlock. Too many times." He shakes his head. "I did… have feelings for you before, Sherlock, but I love Mary."
Sherlock stays very still, irrationally hoping that if he doesn't acknowledge what is happening the situation the resolve itself and he can move on.
"I'm sorry," repeats John, and he is clearly waiting for a reaction from Sherlock. Sherlock acquiesces by giving a short nod,
"I see," he says curtly. There is nothing else to say. John reaches for Sherlock as if to place a comforting hand on his arm but the gesture falls short, trails back to John's side. John steps back, pulls back into Mary's orbit, leaves Sherlock in the dark.
Sherlock gasps awake. Strange dreams linger anxiously in his mind and he shakes them away. He needs coffee and cigarettes and John. One of those three things is accessible; he has not bought cigarettes since returning to Baker Street, and John is gone.
John is gone from Baker Street, because John is going to marry Mary Morstan today. The thought drives Sherlock to drink an extra cup of coffee and to start thumbing through potential case files. He does not want to think of the wedding, so he works until the very last minute, then throws himself into a cab and arrives just as the ceremony is starting. John, in a well-fitted three-piece suit, looks tremendously relieved to see him. Sherlock cocks his head; it is strange to see John in something other than a jumper.
The ceremony is rather boring, for the most part, until just before the exchanging of the rings. The priest's voice rings over the gathering.
"Speak now or forever hold your peace."
Sherlock starts, the vestiges of his fretful dreams flaring up. The guests are silent as John glances out at them, and his grey-blue eyes—as they have always done— find Sherlock. Their multicolored depths meet his, and Sherlock feels his breath catch. Choices and possible scenarios play out fleetingly in his head, and an oppressive stillness seems to weigh against Sherlock's stomach as he considers the options.
He makes his choice.
The world is him and John.