"between syllable and sound"
Genre: Humor, Drama
Time Frame: General
Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes (a few guest stars. )
Summary: There's a way Sherlock Holmes sees the world that is completely baffling to those around him - including one John Watson. He's not sure whether or not he should be disturbed that he was starting to catch onto the other man's logic . . . just barely, anyway.
Notes: This is merely a string of ficlet-like-things, since my muse couldn't develop just one. For now, this is it, but anything of the like may be posted to the thread sometime in the future.
And this fic is completely dedicated to Chim – who introduced me to the original Sherlock Holmes one cold winters night a lifetime ago in middle-school . . . And to one Idrelle_Miocovani (And Mar17swgirl, by extension. ) who introduced me to this AMAZING show!
Thank-you, gals, for being all sorts of different levels of awesome, and then a few more.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but for the words . . . And Idri's brilliant inspiration of naming the skull Yorick is hers, as well. Not mine.
"between syllable and sound"
I. it calls and it echoes on and on . . .
He dreams often, not in paltry black and white – a nondescript haze of repressed memories recalled - but in vivid color. It is easy to call adrenaline to mind like this, with his nose filling with the acidic scent of smoke and and the taste of dust and grime coating his mouth like rainwater finding cracks in the pavement. The memory of blood making his hands slippery as he urged life to flutter inside of the comrade under his care . . . It was living, this dreaming. Far worse than the horrors of war, for him, was the twisted view of a war's glory to his mind. An addiction as tangible and as sweetly seductive as any ambrosia.
He is no longer on a battlefield of soldiers and foes, but one with dueling minds and cobblestone streets smeared with crimson. But his work with the brilliant detective still comes with a rush of conflict; making his hand steady and the limp to his leg less pronounced.
Sometimes, the dreams . . . the memories, are not dreams . . . but worse . . . He handles those time well enough, he thinks. Nightmares are never like the movies – they are quiet and pitiful, not screams and thrashing, but merely eyes full with a remembered pain, normally blind to the beholder, upon the waking hour . . .
One of these times – when he remembered the horrors of war rather than the rush of adrenaline – was when he had fallen asleep on the couch while Sherlock once again defied mortal understandings of how a twenty-four hour day worked. (They were stretching onto 31 hours with this one). The images from the case – of a woman and her child both dead, brought back memories . . . Ones he'd much rather forget.
This time was the same as any other. He woke with a quickened pulse, and his breathing came to him in hiccuping gasps . . . And yet, this time, he awakened to a firm hand stubbornly and annoyingly poking him awake from the thralls of the nightmare. He brushed at the annoying finger that was tormenting him, and blearily recognized the warm weight of a blanket over his form . . . a blanket that hadn't been there before when he had nodded off.
He blinked drowsily over at Sherlock, who was once again meticulously going through the files.
"You talk in your sleep when you have nightmares," Sherlock said when he was conscious enough to handle conversation. His tone was light and calm, as if commenting on the weather. "It was a distraction."
John looked queerly at the other man before slowly moving to sit up. The fabric of the blanket was warm in his loosening grip, his tense muscles relaxing as his senses let him return to the waking world. "A distraction," he repeated dubiously. "Of course."
Sherlock looked away from his case files (and an odd collection of broken glass and bubbling chemistry vials) to gaze at him oddly, as if he were one of his puzzles. John merely bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from smiling.
II. oh, but how you must have sang . . .
"Look closely - the splinters caught in the frankly appalling tweed of her coat collar . . . spruce . . . and willow," Sherlock picked one of the splinters up and licked it experimentally. "Ah, and maple! A dense wood, very nice . . . And if I'm not off – which I rarely am – there are honey and egg whites in the varnish . . ."
"Egg whites? . . ." John repeated, bewildered, from next to him.
"Egg whites," Sherlock confirmed. "And a rather salty undertone to the taste . . . potassium borate, is it? Aha, that's it!"
"Would you care to share with the class, Sherlock?" Lestrade made an impatient gesture.
Sherlock got to his feet and looked somberly at the other detective. "My good man, your murder weapon is a Stradivari violin, circa 1680 . . . 1683 to be exact, guessing on the ratio of vernuce bianca varnish to the minerals treating the wood . . ." He breathed in deeply through his nose, and if he were any other man, John would have thought that he was trying to calm himself. "It is truly unpardonable that such a beautiful piece of art could be used in such a crass way . . . Really, the levels that the human race will sink to are sickening at times!"
"Detective," came a voice at the door, and the three men turned to where another officer was approaching them with the shattered remnants of a violin in his hands. "We found this in the alley out back."
Sherlock held out his hands impatiently, and took the violin before Lestrade could.
His close examination of the splintering pattern (caused by a male, one point eighty-nine meters tall, most likely left handed) was almost tender as he fussed over the dead body of the violin as a parent would over that of a new child. "Such a beauty," Sherlock remarked reverently. "Such finesse and detail in the craftsmanship . . . oh, how you must have sung in your time . . ." He stepped carelessly over the corpse with the shattered violin cradled in his arms. "It's quite alright, don't you worry your pretty little head – we will figure out who did this, and see that justice is sought."
Still crouching by Mandy Williams' lifeless form, John and Lestrade traded bewildered, and somewhat tired, glances before getting up to follow. As they always did.
III. like a coin, flipped . . .
"You're going out tonight?"
John looked over at Sherlock from where he was straightening his tie. "I've told you about my dinner-plans with Sarah from the start of the week."
"No – you sighed dreamily about some nonsense, and I promptly stopped listening to your babbling when it became apparent that you weren't going to provide any intelligent conversation."
"Well now you'll know not to ignore my 'babbling' as 'unintelligent nonsense.'"
Sherlock made a face. "Likely," he muttered.
John rolled his eyes as he started to put on his coat.
"So . . . you are going to be out late?"
John looked at him oddly from the corner of his eyes. "What does it matter to you?"
Sherlock rolled his shoulders elegantly. "Nothing in particular," he said briskly, flipping through the manila folders on the table before him. The crime scene photos were merging with the case files in his mind, making a kaleidoscope of facts and figures from strands of brightly colored information.
At least, they would, as soon as he was able to work past the fog in his brain . . .
When the door slipped closed, Sherlock stayed stubbornly in his seat.
For a minute.
. . . Five.
He tapped his pen against the folders.
At six minutes, and seventeen seconds, (just starting on eighteen, but by the time he had used that logic, he was well near twenty seconds), he pushed away from the table with an annoyed huff of air. After another moment of fishing underneath a stack of medical journals to where he had hidden Yorick from the sticky hands of Mrs. Hudson, he sat back down and placed the skull on the table with a satisfied thunk.
"Very well, Yorick, I am afraid that you will have to hear out my thoughts for the evening since my companion so ungraciously left me to sort through this alone."
The silence in return was very uncomfortable indeed. Somewhere within the last few months he had been accustomed to talking to another human being, rather than talking at an inanimate one.
The ramifications of that were most disturbing.
Sherlock looked into the skull's black eyes; while, a labyrinth of a city away . . .
. . . another man looked into the dead eyes of his latest orchestrated kill.
"I think I shall keep you," the man murmured in a gently lilting voice, the tip of his cane tracing a soft line against a dead pulse. "After all, one always thinks better aloud, and you have proven to be a most interesting conversation so far."
He looked at the man at his side, a dime a dozen hired gun who was just wiping the blood off of his hands. "Make it a clean cut, would you – I'd do it myself, but . . ." he gestured down at the black suit he wore, the expensive thread glowing gently in the sparse moonlight. "New suit and all that."
IV. I'll keep saying so until I'm blue in the face . . .
They are on the case of a serial killer in late December – a time of year that John would much rather sip on his sister's familiar, but rather vulgar, eggnog and listen to Sherlock's horror stories about Christmas dinners with his brother, rather than chase murderers through the foggy streets of London. Especially when a jump to a boat in the Themes was botched while chasing an informant (or, as Sherlock put it – "an error in a calculation without all of the variables present.") resulted in the both of them landing for an icy swim in the river.
The human body could generally withstand fifteen minutes in icy water of five degrees Celsius before the blood started retreating from their limbs and leaving them useless and prone. The hyperventilation and shock came almost immediately, though, leaving John with the viciously satisfying mental image of Sherlock floundering in the water. It was almost enough to temper the height of his ire over the situation.
Sherlock didn't bother to apologize during their difficult time finding a cabbie to take their soaked forms home, but he was the first one to put on the tea when they got back to their flat - for a change. And he submitted to John's check-up – temperature, blood pressure, etc. to make sure that there was not lasting damage from their impromptu 'dip'.
"Well, this case is far cry from boring," was all that Sherlock would say with that ridiculous grin that made John want to slap him. When the serial killer was revealed to be a doctor by the name of Eric Shipman, or 'Doctor Death' as the media took to calling him, John felt a slight bit vindicated.
Sherlock was on a high about busting a murderer who had killed at least 218 of his patients by causing his methods to mimic 'natural cause' deaths. (One of the most prolific killers in history, Sherlock was quick to boast, repeatedly.)
When, though, the man hanged himself in his prison cell, denying Sherlock his final interview, the whole of that good mood deflated rather rapidly.
"Either way," John pointed out, "you caught the badguy. What else matters?"
Sherlock tapped the bow of his violin restlessly against the ground; he was unable to hold still. "He died before he could tell me why," he growled out in a low, dangerous hiss of a voice.
John raised a brow. "Is that all?"
"'Is that all?'" Sherlock mimicked scornfully. "How pitifully narrow your mind is . . . It is my business to know what other people don't know . . . this I do not know, and now no one will ever know . . . Not ever."
"Some things don't need to be known," he pointed out gently. "That man was not completely balanced – most likely, anything he could have said wouldn't have satisfied you."
Sherlock snorted. "The closest thing to a genius mind, is a mind that is 'unbalanced'. It is what keeps my work interesting . . . It is what keeps my work from being boring – boring like every other insipid nine to five desk job the pitiful of mankind embark on every day. . ."
"Sherlock . . . you are closer to humanity than the sick minds who think of these things . . . It would be good for you to try to remember that, every once in a while."
V. dear God, there's a man in a blue box who can rattle off facts even faster than you can . . .
They are investigating a truly baffling string of murders (bodies being drown in the Themes with odd puncture like wounds – a precise three dozen each) when another man (who had flashed his ever shifting credentials with a grin and a skip) in a bow-tie and messy brown hair 'consulted' the police as well.
While Sherlock did not appreciate the other man doing what he did best (minus annoying Lestrade within an inch of his wits), even John could see the very, very grudging respect that was growing behind the frustration in his eyes.
"Obviously, the puncture wounds are ceremonial – like those of the Pananakan Island natives in the Caribbean. Each one of these victims bear ancestry to that area of the world - "
"The Pananakan are descendents of the . . . gentleman-like-creature we are looking for," the man – the Doctor, returned.
"Extraterrestrials?" Sherlock repeated scornfully. "Based on what facts?""
"Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," the Doctor returned in a sing-song voice, oddly reminiscent of Holmes' I-told-you-so voice.
John blinked, and fought to keep his mouth from going agape.
A moment, and a dozen insults later, Lestrade shuffled past the both of them, one step away from putting his hands over his ears and childishly chanting for them to 'just go away.' John looked sympathetically at the other man, before moving to break up the fight. (Which had quickly deteriorated into every other word being well over five syllables.)
"Alright gentleman," he said courteously. "Maybe there is a way to put both of your theories together -"
"Theory?" Sherlock snapped incredulously. "There is no theory – the Pananakan's are famous for their ritualistic sacrifices – the instrument used to make these punctures is reminiscent of the pishi – or, a ceremonial tipple bladed dagger - which was just stolen from the National Antiquities Museum. These victims are all exactly 1.75 meters tall, and have traces of spices indigenous to certain Caribbean islands called pimento under their nails. They contain traces of morphine in their systems – which meant that they were drugged so as to not protest the live ritual. But look – the markings are incomplete – the traditional Pananakan blood art makes a full three triangles intersected by a row of smaller piercings, with actual whole gems ornamenting the final work of art – this 'sacrifice' is incomplete, and therefore not worth the time and effort. Obviously, they were interrupted before they could finish, and the bodies were dumped into the Themes to avoid detection."
"Oh, now you are just showing off," the frighteningly bouncy man who couldn't seem to just stay still was beaming, his eyes alight as a kid before a candy store. At the Doctor's side, his red headed companion held a hand with purple painted nails before her lips to hide a giggle.
When, a case solved and a day saved later, the man and the woman took off into (of all things) a blue box that was much larger on the inside than on the outside, Sherlock muttered for a week about how the fine art of deduction and science was being lost to escapees from the local comic conventions.
John personally thought that there was something to the four armed . . . alien-ish things, that had been the culprits of the murder mystery, but he wisely held his tongue.
VI. through thou's immortal tomes made remarkable . . .
He inflicts his opinions on the world quite often through the form of his blog. What started as a therapist's exercise became something actually enjoyable. Eventually, when sitting back and looking at his words, he still couldn't believe the tales he and Sherlock had lived through.
They sounded just like that sometimes . . . tales.
And then Sherlock would blow a hole in the wall, or come home with a bloody golf club to practice murder strokes on an impromptu 'green', and it didn't seem quite so farfetched anymore. He wonders if this adjustment to the extraordinary is something he should worry over.
Sherlock's first reaction to his penning their stories had been a snide sort of distaste (which could have been attributed to his mood. Or moods, however one preferred to phrase it.) The detective's ire did little to deter him.
And a few weeks later Sherlock pranced over to him while he was typing and tossed down a thick ream of paper. On the sheets, John recognized his stories from the blog, all struck through in red pen with numerous notes loitering in the margins.
"What are these?" he asked incredulously.
"Edits," Sherlock called behind him as he left as quickly as he came.
John raised a brow, and shook his head. When he placed his tea down he felt slightly gratified when the mug left a pale brown ring on the stack of papers.
And then, a few weeks after that, when Sherlock guiltily snapped his computer shut when he walked into the room, he knew something up. Five minutes of cross questioning, and half a dozen insinuations later, Sherlock finally let him see the screen . . . and his blog up and being eagerly read upon it.
"Admit it – you like the stories," John accused.
Sherlock stiffened as he moved to retrieved a platter of fingers from the freezer. "What rubbish are you spouting now?" he asked absently.
John moved his medical journals to make room for the fingers and Sherlock's latest forensics expiration. "I think you like the attention – what was that you're always spouting about a genius craving recognition?"
"I said that about criminal masterminds – there's a difference."
"Ah, but what about just normal, every-day sort of masterminds?"
"They say that you should watch your commas and your split infinitives," the tone of Sherlock's voice had yet to change, but the gaze that met his was pointed.
John leaned back, and smirked.
On their next case, Sherlock handed him a voice recorder with a large red ribbon tied around it.
"If you're going to write that bloody thing, you may as well do it right," was all that he said, and then he was out the door, uncaring where or how his words landed as his coat snapped impressively out behind him.
John was still for a moment.
"Bloody dramatic effect," he complained enviously.
And then he was on his feet and trailing after him, recorder and notepad in hand.