Title: Things Unseen and Left Unsaid
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Summary: Sherlock can't crack the riddle that is John Watson. But that's going to have to be put on hold, as said riddle has currently been kidnapped and buried alive, and Sherlock only has seven hours to find him.
AN – A large hunk of this deals with faith. Please don't send reviews just to smash Christianity – your beliefs are your beliefs, and this story was niggling at the back of my head. I respect your opinion, so if you feel you must find fault with the faith portrayed here, present your opinion in a respectful way. Please and thank you! Next – I was watching the episode of Bones 'Aliens in a Spaceship', and about a lot of what went through my head was 'Huh. This would work wonderfully in Sherlock'. Thus…this is born. Also, I've just hit 50,000 for my NaNoWriMo. BACK TO FANDOM!
There are several things that Sherlock Holmes knows about John Watson and things that affect John Watson. And as he watches said John Watson walking to the bathroom, half awake and groggy, several things regarding his flatmate flash across his mind.
Fact: John is a creature of habit.
Fact: It is quarter until eight in the morning.
Fact: John does not wake up earlier than nine in the morning unless otherwise coerced. Suspected reason is that it is a subconscious rebellion against army rigor. However, that is pure conjecture, and requires further inquiry.
Fact: The only person who can rouse John before nine is Sherlock or an alarm clock. Sherlock knows this is fact beyond conjecture, because past incidents have proven this. Test variables included Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft, and on that one memorable occasion, an entire drugs squad. The alarm is only set when John has to work at the clinic.
Fact: Sherlock can only accomplish the previous fact by literally pushing John off of the bed onto the floor or employing the use of a bucket filled with water.
Fact: Sherlock has not been in John's room this morning, nor has a bucket of water. It isn't nightmares, for Sherlock would have heard John pacing before coming down the stairs, and his flatmate was neither pale nor shaky as he commonly was after nightmares.
Conclusion: John has used the alarm.
Conclusion: Something has disrupted John's habits.
And Sherlock didn't have a clue what that might be.
"Where are you going?" Sherlock asks, as soon as the door opened.
John jumps and slams his elbow on the doorframe. "Damn it, Sherlock," John groans, rubbing his elbow and glaring, "Don't do that!"
"Where are you going?" Sherlock repeats. He doesn't bother responding to John's reprimand.
"How do you know that I didn't pick up an extra shift?" John says
"I've called Sarah," Sherlock says, still regarding John closely, "And you didn't. So, not the clinic, not to see Sarah – she told me that as well – yet you're wearing your nice clothing. Pressed shirt, slacks, decent shoes, plus one of your good jumpers. Anyone else, I would assume you were having an affair, but we both know you're far too moral for that. Which begs the question – where are you going?"
John clears his throat. "It's Sunday," he says, "I'm off to Mass."
"Mass?" Sherlock asks, because he is honestly thrown for a bit of a loop, which wasn't something he particularly liked. Of course, he was also realizing that being associated with John was meaning get thrown more and more. Sherlock hates the feeling, but he quite likes John, so it somewhat balances out.
"Yes, Mass," John says, shrugging on his coat and pulling on gloves, "Church, priest, hymns. Mass."
"You've never gone before," Sherlock says.
"I have so," John answers, settling a pair of earmuffs on his head. Anyone else would have looked ridiculous, Sherlock thinks, looking John over. But the earmuffs are to John's head as the jumpers are to his torso. Just John.
"I haven't in the past two months because you were dragging me all over London," John clarifies, "You just must not have noticed before."
"Please," Sherlock scoffs. John waits patiently, leaning slightly back against the wall. His left shoulder is sagging, somewhat, which means it's bothering him more than usual. Sherlock chalks it up to the cold, and then mentally runs through every Sunday since he's met John. He realizes that John really does go out on Sundays, and he just never really noticed between cases and boredom and experiments. Sherlock doesn't like that – he likes to think he's noticed everything about John.
John smiles, seeing that Sherlock's reached the conclusion that he was waiting for. "Right, then," John says, turning to walk down the stairs, "Try not to blow up the flat while I'm out."
John sighs, his shoulders rising and then falling, the left still lagging behind the right. "Because, Sherlock," he answers, turning around and looking and sounding very world weary, "Then we wouldn't have a place to live, and Mrs. Hudson would get rather upset with us."
"Not the flat, John," Sherlock says, amused at John's comments, "Although your sarcasm is coming along very nicely. Why are you going to church?"
"I'm Christian, Sherlock," John says, rolling his eyes, "Going to church is part of the job description."
Then he walks out.
Sherlock sits still for an hour, mulling over this new facet of John that he discovered. It doesn't fit, Sherlock thinks, there should be other signs, other…oh…
"Please, God, don't let me die."
Sherlock flies to his feet, and runs up to John's room. He flings open drawers, the closet, and peers under the bed. Eventually he finds it, old and tattered with frayed covers and pages. John's bible. Sherlock flips through it, and it creaks open at the binding to where it is opened to most frequently. Sherlock looks up at the top of the page. Psalms. He scans down, and notices that there is a passage underlined in a shaky hand. Psalms 22:19-20
But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me; Deliver my life from the sword.
There is a dark smudge to the left of the words. Sherlock looks at it, knows its blood. John's blood. Sherlock traces it with his finger, brows furrowed together. In his mind, he sees John crouched down in a bunker, shells and mortars exploding around him, tracing the familiar words he no doubt had memorized long before, finding whatever comfort he can.
Sherlock shuts the bible, puts it back where he found it. Then he cleans up the mess he made in John's room. And, when John comes back some time later, Sherlock stares at the wall and contemplates the riddle that is John Watson.
A week passes. Sherlock only accepts a simple case from Lestrade, one that is easily wrapped up by Sunday. ("It's the butler, obviously," Sherlock sneers, handing John's phone carelessly back to him, "Really, Lestrade, don't you know that it is always the butler?") This time, when John exits the bathroom, Sherlock is waiting for him.
John looks at him suspiciously. "What?" he asks.
Sherlock stands. "May I accompany you?"
John squints at him, like he didn't quite understand what it was that Sherlock was saying. "Sorry, what?"
"I wish to go with you," Sherlock said.
John snorts, and says, "No."
Sherlock blinks – this wasn't the reaction that he'd predicted. "Why not?" he asks, aware he is playing the part of a petulant child.
"Because, Sherlock," John says, and pauses. I don't want you to make a mockery of it. John never says it, but the words are present all the same. John walks out the door.
It's the last time it comes up. For weeks and weeks. Sherlock is a selfish bastard, he is perfectly able to admit that to himself. He satisfies himself with simply following John to and from Mass, always staying out of sight and never letting John knows he's there. They don't ever talk about the matter.
Then comes the Mole.
It's a ridiculous nickname given to a truly terrifying individual by the media. He steals his victims away, leaving nothing behind. Always and without fail, three hours a member of the victim's family is contacted and a ransom is demanded, and informed that the victim has been buried alive. It is always recorded, always the same.
It starts with the name of the victim, always "So and so has been buried alive. Deliver" the sum of the demanded ransom "to" followed by an abandoned and atmospheric location "or they will die." Then, nothing. There is no other communications given.
The family is given twelve hours to exchange money for coordinates, or the victim simply suffocates in their early grave. There have been five victims – the first two, the ransom was delivered and the victims recovered with time to spare, but had no distinct memories of before they awoke beneath the ground. The third and fourth were buried together, so their air supply was cut in half, and by the time the ransom is paid, they've been long dead. The fifth's ransom is never paid, and the body is not found.
Sherlock hasn't been this excited since that young man killed his grandmother using nothing but a knitting needle, some nicotine, and a bottle of rum. It's like Christmas, Easter, and that time he'd walked in on Mycroft eating a giant Toblerone all wrapped up into one and coated with intrigue.
Clearly, though, this reaction is solidly in John's disappointment radar. Sherlock isn't too concerned. He's gotten fairly good at gauging John's levels of disappointment. This one ranks slightly above stealing a candy bar from a small girl – he'd needed it, though, to test his theory, and John had given the girl's mother enough to cover it anyway, so it was a moot point – but below John's reaction to his treatment of Moriarty's bomb victims.
That is to say, not good, but not too terrible either. Sherlock is perfectly alright with this, for it keeps John constantly at his side to make sure he stays within the lines. Of course, after two days on the hunt John has yet to leave Sherlock, and Sherlock has neither slept nor ate, so it comes as little surprise when John suddenly goes whiter than milk and teeters over sideways into the bushes.
Sherlock really thinks that Lestrade did overreact slightly. Smacking Sherlock in the back of the head seemed slightly uncalled for. So is the glare he gets as Lestrade yanks John out of the shrubbery. John is blinking around like he's not quite sure what's happened.
"He needs to eat, Sherlock," Lestrade says, setting John on a bench and forcing his head down between his knees, "And sleep. We're not all unstoppable like you."
Sherlock sniffs; he may be unstoppable, but clearly Lestrade has never had to deal with John when he was feeling particularly immovable. "Would you like me to be the good doctor's nursemaid," Sherlock drawls, "Or would you like me to catch you a murderer-blackmailer?"
Lestrade swears and rolls his eyes while John mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like 'It's not Sherlock's fault' but it comes out more along the lines of "Snot Shlock's foot."
There's a strange mix of guilt and fondness in Sherlock's stomach. Even though the game is on, he and Lestrade drag John to a diner and watch as he downs an entire meal. Then they call a cab and send him back to Baker Street for a nap.
Two hours later, Sherlock's phone rings. He has been trying to find a way to anger Anderson today anyway, so in the middle of the man's sentence he picks it up with a smirk and turning his back. The screen says John's name, so he assumes his flatmate is ready to rejoin the hunt. Sherlock grunts into the phone to prompt speech. When he gets a response, the smirk drops immediately from his face.
"John Watson has been buried alive. Drop the case and deliver a sum of one million pounds to the location texted to your mobile. Do not alert the police, or John Watson will die."
There is a click. Dial tone. For a moment, Sherlock forgets to breathe. The Mole – and, damn, now Sherlock's calling him that too – has deviated in ordering him to drop this case and it is enthralling. Not telling the authorities is a new development as well, and Sherlock should have been positively bursting with satisfaction, for that meant Sherlock was getting close. But he has taken John, and it gives Sherlock that crawling feeling that he had when he saw the semtex strapped to John's chest, the red laser dancing over it.
Somewhere, anywhere in London, John Watson is beneath earth and dirt. Sherlock calculates quickly in his head, and gives John eleven and a half hours. That is, if the Mole hasn't deviated even more and cut the time down.
He sprints from the scene, dialing Mycroft as he runs, Lestrade yelling at his back.
Four hours later (Seven and a half at most, and John could be dying, dead, hurt, suffocating, buried and alone) and Mycroft has given him the money, and has promised to contact Lestrade as soon as Sherlock has the coordinates for John's location in hand. Mycroft is a nuisance, but quite often a useful one.
The warehouse is as clichéd and shadowy as the other drop points, and Sherlock is less than impressed. The Mole is wearing a ski mask. Sherlock holds up the duffle bag, filled with the requested sum. He drops it to the ground and kicks it over to the man. "There's your money," he says, "Give me the coordinates."
"You've dropped the case as well?" the Mole says, reaching into a pocket.
Sherlock scoffs and rolls his eyes. In his head, he is thinking seven at most, seven at most, seven at most as an endless staccato accompanied by John's quiet slurring of "not Sherlock's fault". "Obviously I have dropped it," Sherlock says, "Now, tell me where he is."
The man walks over to the duffle bag, and picks it up. "They will be texted to you in five minutes time," the Mole says, backing away, "Your friend has two hours worth of air at this time, if he hasn't panicked."
The beat in his head changes. Two at most, two at most, two at most. He nods, and says, "He has two hours, then."
Because if Sherlock knows anything, it's that John Watson does not panic. Ever.
Five minutes, on the dot, and his phone beeps. Sherlock opens it, glances down, and is out the door.
(Later, Sherlock will find out that Mycroft kindly disregarded his orders and called Lestrade anyway. The Mole is arrested as soon as he rounds the corner outside of the building. Sherlock doesn't even see the police cars as he blasts out of the warehouse. He has a flatmate to dig up.)
The graveyard is deserted in the night, and Sherlock looks down at his watch. It took far too long to arrive, and John now has half an hour, at best estimate. He stands, and scans his eyes across the grass until they land on freshly dug dirt on the far side of the cemetery. Sherlock streaks towards it, a desperate shadow in the night, pausing only to grab a shovel. He digs, every minute ticking down in his head.
Around Twenty-five minutes at most, twenty-five minutes at most, Lestrade and another constable join him with shovels, and they dig in silence until the metal hits wood. Sherlock wastes no time, and with minimal assistance of Lestrade, they yank open the top of the coffin. John is pale, unmoving, a puddle of vomit next to his head. Sherlock can't breathe, feels like he's suffocated along with John Watson in the darkness.
He puts his magnifying to next to John's mouth, and when the glass fogs ever so slightly, Sherlock could have wept. Instead, again, with assistance from Lestrade, they pull John from the grave. Sherlock cradles him in his arms, carefully, and stares at John's face. Lestrade is saying something about an ambulance coming. Sherlock doesn't listen, and just continues to glare at John. The doctor's eyelids flutter and then open, looking up at Sherlock.
Sherlock doesn't know what to say.
Then John makes a hacking noise that may've been a giggle, and says, "Bloodly well took you long enough."
"Don't giggle," Sherlock says seriously, deliriously happy, "We're at a crime scene."
And then the ambulance is there, and it is much harder to surrender John to the paramedics than it should be. But then they have loaded John on a stretcher and have an oxygen mask strapped to his feet and are slamming the doors and driving his John away from him.
"We've got the Mole in the car," Lestrade says, off hand, as if he's just made a particularly tepid comment about the weather. Sherlock had forgotten that the Inspector was there at all. "If you'd like a crack at him. His name is –"
"Tom Marker, I know," Sherlock says, and glances at Lestrade, "He has a very distinctive voice. John and I interviewed him earlier in the week."
Then his gaze is drawn as a magnet to the car. A smile, feral and savage, pulls at one corner of his mouth. Lestrade has an air of unease about him, as if he's regretting his offer already.
They get one name out of Tom Marker, in the end. It isn't surprising, not to Sherlock.
He should be ecstatic at the name of the man, but it is dull. He has come to expect it. Sherlock leaves in a huff, and Lestrade is half a step behind him. Not a word is shared between the two as they climb into Lestrade's car and drive to the hospital.
However, upon arriving, they find that there is no John Watson currently checked in, and no, that the nurse could not just give them personal information. Sherlock snarls, which doesn't help anything, and Lestrade flashes his badge and a smile, pushing Sherlock back and away from the counter top.
"He checked himself out," the nurse says after an eternity of clicking through the computer system, "Probably, oh, half an hour ago."
Sherlock's phone is in his hand, and ten seconds later he has his answer. Once more, Sherlock finds himself reflecting once more on what a merry nuisance Mycroft could be.
"And now, Lestrade, if you'll excuse me," Sherlock says, turning and walking out, "I have to go."
"Where could you possibly be going?" Lestrade says. "He's not at Baker Street, you said so yourself. There is no way you've deduced where John Watson is."
"Keep telling yourself that, Inspector," Sherlock says, pausing to look over his shoulder at Lestrade, "In the meantime, I'm off to church."
The look on Lestrade's face makes the entire day almost worth it. Almost. Then again, not really.
When Sherlock gets there, the sanctuary of the church is empty except for a few random people.
John sits in the pew, towards the front half of the church, his hands folded and staring up at the altar.
"It is quite beautiful," Sherlock murmurs. John looks over at him questioningly. Sherlock waves an errant hand. "This. The stained glass and the altar. It's beautiful."
John hums slightly. Then he gives Sherlock a hard look. "What're you doing here, Sherlock?"
"Transitive property," Sherlock says. John clearly doesn't comprehend, as he is still staring at Sherlock with nothing close to understanding coloring his face. "It is not all that complicated, John, even you should be able to follow."
"Pray, take pity on a slow soul," John says. Sherlock smirks for a moment.
"This is important to you," Sherlock says, eyes skating across the church, "And you are important to me. Thus, all of this has become important to me as well. It's simple mathematics."
It's almost comical, the way that John is gaping at him, looking like a fish stranded on the land. Sherlock doesn't understand why – he had assumed that this particular thing was common knowledge and known, and stating it would be as mundane as 'humans need to breathe'. Apparently, though, Sherlock had miscalculated the problem of John Watson once again.
"Oh," John says finally. "Well…Yes. You, too. Are important, I mean."
"Don't be stupid, John, of course I am," he says, and suddenly they're back to even ground. Then, Sherlock clears his throat, "John?"
"You seem to be something of a magnet for trouble," Sherlock says, "And-"
"Said the kettle to the pot," says John, light and playful as if he hadn't just been stolen away from Sherlock and buried beneath dirt and stone and nearly taken from Sherlock forever.
"Very clever, but I really must be allowed to continue," Sherlock says, "But the point is that in my line of work there are many dangerous people, and all of them seem to want to use you to get to me. Because they, unlike yourself, have realized how vital you have become to me. Today, I almost lost you. I almost have before, and I dare say that it is likely to happen again."
"I could've figured all this out on my own, you know," John says, "I may not be a Holmes, but I'm not a completely lost ca–"
"Your left hand," Sherlock says, looking down pointedly, and John quickly clasps his hands. They both know, however, that it is much too late for that. Sherlock continues, "It has been shaking since I've gotten here, and yet you insist on pretending you are unaffected. You should be in the hospital."
And with those words, Sherlock suddenly realizes the issue. The words hang in Sherlock's mind, the unspoken you should have remained where I could find you quickly. Easily. Where I would not have to worry that someone has stolen you away from me. He doesn't say any of these things, though, because John is clenching his jaw in that way that means he's on his way to an outburst.
"What do you want from me, Sherlock?" John hisses, all traces of levity gone from his face, Sherlock settles in for John to get through his tirade, "Do you want me to tell you about how I nearly had a heart attack when I woke up alone in the hospital room, because I was certain that I must be dreaming? How it felt the exact same as when I woke up and I couldn't see anything because of the darkness? How it felt to scream and know that there was no one, anywhere in the world, that could hear me? Is that what you want? Do you want to hear more, because I can tell it to you. How about the fact that every time I've closed my eyes I feel like I'm back in that hole, and I'm actually fucking scared that one of these times I going to open them and find out I'm still there? Is that what you want to hear?"
The other people in the church are shooting them looks. Red is creeping up John's neck to his ears. He is looking anywhere but at Sherlock, and his eyes are glassy and bloodshot with held back tears and exhaustion.
"I…" Sherlock says, and he can't talk for a moment. "I am sorry, John. I shouldn't have let you wake up alone."
John scoffs, and blinks, and a tear somehow escapes from his eye. He scrubs at it angrily with the cuff of his sleeve. Sherlock just stares, and thinks that John crying is the single most tragic thing he has ever seen in life. "Sorry," John mutters, his voice rough. Part of Sherlock is wishing that John would just break down and sob into Sherlock's coat. The other part is wishing and praying to whatever higher power who may or may not be listening that John won't.
"Let's go home," Sherlock says, and pushes himself to his feet. He holds out a hand to John to help him up. "You're exhausted."
"I don't want to sleep," John mutters, and allows Sherlock to guide him from the church, "I don't want to wake up al…I just don't want to sleep."
Sherlock wonders how much of this conversation John will even remember after getting much needed rest. If he was a gambling man, he would put his money on the bet that John would remember fuzzy details, but not with much clarity, judging by the way the doctor was tripping over his own feet and following Sherlock almost blindly. It is because of this conclusion that Sherlock allows himself to take John's elbow and pull him to a stop. "John," he says, and John blinks owlishly up at him in the sudden bright light outside of the church, "I promise, if you go to sleep when we arrive at Baker Street, you will never wake up alone."
John looks like he might cry again, but just nods, and lets Sherlock tow him home.
They never really bring it up again. Then again, they don't really have too.