Title: The Mistake That Was Sebastian
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Characters, Pairings: university-age Sebastian (from the Blind Banker)/Sherlock, derisively-commenting-Mycroft, John/Sherlock gen. at the end though as always slash goggles can be put in place…
Warnings: A quite obvious author-ly dislike of British rahs, boy-kissing and mentions of boy-sexing, swearing.
Spoilers: For all episodes but especially The Blind Banker.
Summary: How Sherlock met Sebastian and just how very wrong it all went…And how John unknowingly made it all better.
Sherlock does not like university. He also didn't expect to, so this is not so much a revelation as resignation, but the thought of having an excuse to do delicate and complicated chemical tests for at least three years was too good an opportunity to pass up. Still, it was a wrench leaving home. Sherlock doesn't like home much now, but at least there are people there who know him, know what he can be like, even if they don't understand it. And there is Mycroft, who may be the most infuriating person Sherlock has ever met, but at least he is like Sherlock. These people, who are meant to be intelligent enough to get through the most rigorous tests Cambridge can set them, are clearly all as thick as planks, and therefore nothing like him.
Freshers week is the worst. Well, of course it is. Everyone is so desperate to get to know everyone else, everyone is acting so unlike themselves that they are even more uniform and thus boring than they actually are in real life and, by day one, Sherlock is so sick of the usual questions that he has already started to play up.
"Hi, I'm Owen. What's your name?"
"Oh. Hi. I'm Owen."
"Simon says, piss off."
Sometimes - although he will never admit this, not even on pain of death - Sherlock wishes he were like Mycroft. Mycroft can fit in. He can mould his behaviour to whatever the situation demands, and, what's more, it doesn't bother him. Sherlock is as just a fine actor, but he can only do it for short periods and only if necessary. Mycroft will be amiable to everyone, because you never know when they will come in handy, but Sherlock can't bear it. It's all far too fake for him, and that's why Mycroft will become a wonderful politician and Sherlock really won't.
He's already unpopular by day three, and at breakfast that morning he makes it worse because there is another thing Mycroft can do that Sherlock can't and that is keep his damn mouth shut.
"It'll never last," he says to the guy who sits down opposite him with a bowl of cornflakes. The guy is tall, with black hair that he has slicked back, an unfortunately attractive self-deprecating smirk and an easily offensive slouch to his shoulders. He's a rah, Sherlock thinks, using the word for those private-school educated, self-obsessed people with aristocratic airs, loud voices and extremely bad manners. Sherlock has already tested this definition on himself and has found that it - along with every other definition he has ever tried - falls short. Apparently nothing can define someone like him.
The guy frowns at him over his cereal. After all, Sherlock hasn't even said Hi what's your name yet.
"Sorry?" he asks in a plummy voice which Sherlock instantly dislikes.
Sherlock nods his head over at the girl on the other end of the table, the one with the 'oh look at my dreadfully messed up but still sexy, definitely not styled to look that way' blonde hair. "You and her."
The guy follows his gaze, then sets his jaw in a way that Sherlock quite likes. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."
Sherlock knows he really should let it drop, but he's bored.
"You and the girl over there. You had sex last night."
The table goes very quiet.
"Three times," Sherlock says into the silence. "The last time with handcuffs - "
"Yes, all right, shut up," the guy interrupts loudly, sending titters along the table. He glares at Sherlock with open hostility now, but it is such a relief from the horrible blank, polite smiles that everyone has been wearing for so long that Sherlock welcomes it. It's almost like being back home.
"How do you know it won't work?" the guy interrogates shortly. "Do you know her?"
"No," Sherlock says honestly. "But nevertheless I know she already has a boyfriend here, one who is most likely richer, older and smarter than you, but that he's away for a while, so she's been looking for a short term replacement, quick and easy, which is evidently what you are."
Most of the people overhearing burst into catcalls and jeers at this, and the guy's face goes very pale. He glares at Sherlock, who glares happily back, then looks over the people's heads at the girl. "Vittoria," he says loudly. "Vittoria - " but the girl has already run for it in a flood of fake pashmina scarf and short skirt, her face as red as a phone box. A chorus of laughs and heckling follows her.
The guy turns back to Sherlock, clearly furious. After all, Sherlock has just shot his reputation down in front of a group of otherwise potential contacts for his job in whatever he tries to do in the future (probably banking, or some sort of other business, Sherlock thinks deprecatingly. Dull.) "What the hell are you playing at?" he snarls fiercely. "How did you know that?"
Sherlock sighs, but he's been missing showing off, so he replies promptly. "She was holding her wrist awkwardly, showing she'd been tied down recently, but clearly it was for a good reason, because she kept throwing you what she thought were sneaky looks. You were looking smug and confident, more confident than you would if you had managed to only have sex once, as if you thought that there might be something to this no doubt passionate but actually very brief affair. However, she was also checking her phone often, and with a look on her face that was sorely regretting what she had done, so I deduced that there was someone else linked to her, most likely richer and smarter, since he would therefore be a better catch and she would want to stay with him, but also older and busy, since she was not receiving replies to any of her texts but was clearly expecting them at this time of the morning." He shrugs. "A simple case."
The table has gone very quiet. Sherlock faintly hears someone say down the table, "Nice trick."
The guy's face is like thunder. "I don't know who the hell you are," he snaps, "but you'd better stay well away from me from now on, all right freak?"
And he storms out, some of the others following him like flapping birds.
Sherlock finishes his breakfast alone, ignoring the stares and whispers that have now started up around him.
He should have kept his mouth shut.
The guy's name is Sebastian Wilkes, also known as Seb, and he is not only staying in the same college as Sherlock but he is also studying the same subject and is soon the most popular guy in the college.
Sherlock has really done it now.
He ignores Sebastian for the most part, though this is not reciprocated; every time Sebastian sees him, he can't help but have a little jab, at anything he can think of, ninety-five percent of the time it concerns Sherlock's lack of friends, something that he doesn't give two hoots about, but five percent of the time, it is something he doesn't like at all. He ignores it though, because he finds Sebastian to be just the unimaginative little twerp that he suspected him to be.
At least, he mostly ignores it. Then, one day, he makes the mistake of snorting derisively at a poor mark Sebastian gets in an exam (Sebastian is nowhere near as good as Sherlock in his work, the one thing he can't mock Sherlock about) and later he finds that Sebastian has crossed the line that not even his tutors have dared to cross and has fiddled with one of his experiments.
He rings Mycroft later that evening. Mobiles are generally not in style yet, but that doesn't mean Sherlock doesn't have one. "I'm going to kill him," he says without preamble and with clear intent.
Mycroft sighs. "That would be unwise."
Sherlock can hear him throwing a balled up piece of paper into the bin opposite his desk and feels a sudden wave of homesickness hit him. He holds the phone a bit closer to his ear. "You don't understand."
"Yes, Sherlock, I do, and I assure you that if any Holmes is going to kill him, it will be me, because then the family won't even be suspected."
Sherlock sets his jaw. "And you don't think I manage that?"
He can hear Mycroft's grin when he says, "Oh, I'm sure you've already thought of seven different ways."
He misses Mycroft's calm, sensible maturity so much it hurts.
He hangs the phone up.
Halfway through the term, Sebastian suddenly turns a new corner in Sherlock's eyes. It happens during one of their seminars, when Sherlock is busy telling the lecturer that his equation is wrong and his lecturer is busy telling Sherlock that he is not half as clever as he thinks he is, and there is usually only one way that this goes, but then suddenly a voice at the back of the room says, "Uh, Professor?"
Everyone wheels around, Sherlock included, because he knows that voice, often because its on the other end of an insult aimed smoothly at him. Sure enough he's right, it's Sebastian and he's flicking through his notes and frowning.
"Yes?" snaps the Professor, clearly at the end of his tether.
Sebastian waves his notes in the air. "I've written the equation here like Sherlock said, and it makes sense to me."
Sherlock has to force his jaw not to drop. Sebastian's entourage are muttering amongst themselves.
The Professor is definitely not in the mood. "Need I remind you who is the Professor here - "
"Oh, for gods sake." And with that, Sebastian stands up, takes hold of the Professors chalk and corrects the equation on the board with an impatient flourish.
The Professor stares at the equation. Everyone else stares at Sebastian. Eventually the Professor sniffs, a sign that Sherlock was right, and Sebastian nods and the class murmurs to themselves.
As he goes back to his desk, Sebastian tips the gaping Sherlock a wink.
Sherlock can concentrate on nothing else that afternoon.
"So this is where you lurk after hours," Sebastian says as his way of introducing his presence into the lab, at around eleven that night. Sherlock is in the middle of something delicate and doesn't look up.
"Looks like it," he says noncommittally instead, and by the time he has looked up, Sebastian has already crossed the space between them and is looking over his shoulder.
"What are you doing?" he asks, staring at the experiment.
Sherlock rolls his eyes, finishing up. "You wouldn't understand if I told you."
Sebastian lets out his mocking little laugh that Sherlock really hates. "Still an arrogant freak then."
"Still a submissive moron then," Sherlock retorts, which is when Sebastian leans forward and kisses him.
It's the first time Sherlock has been properly kissed. It feels warm and horribly invasive, even though it is not anything really more than a long peck on the lips, but he does feel his toes tingle.
Sebastian pulls away. "I may have overestimated how much of a freak you actually are," he says, casually carrying on the conversation for all the world as if he has not just done something just a little bit mind-blowing.
Sherlock lets the corner of his mouth twitch upwards. "I may have overestimated how submissive you are," he says, and he means it not just as an innuendo. He assumed that Sebastian was as unimaginative and blindly obedient as his followers, that he was just as accepting as everyone else, that he didn't even know how to be challenging. But he's not. He's got guts. He just doesn't show it. Sherlock is probably a wonderful example of why this is the case.
Sebastian kisses him again, properly now, opening Sherlock's mouth under his and slipping his tongue inside, and it is altogether too close and too personal, and everything in Sherlock's head - all the voices - go suddenly and blissfully silent. It's probably a combination of many different things - his abject loneliness, his crushing boredom, his lack of stimulation - but soon Sherlock is clinging to Sebastian like he is the only interesting thing left in the world.
They are not exactly compatible when it comes to sex. Both of them are too demanding and too interested in their own self gratification rather than their partner's to work properly together, but they muddle through, and it is certainly invigorating fun if nothing else, and Sherlock gets to rather enjoy it really.
They don't spend any time together outside of the bedroom, apart from a few revision sessions, but Sherlock neither expected this or wanted it.
He gets a peevish call from Mycroft when he stupidly lets Sebastian kiss him outside and thus probably near a CCTV camera (he was a bit preoccupied to think of it at the time).
"Good Lord, Sherlock, I know you're bored but - "
"Shut up or I'll hang up."
"This will end in disaster."
"Mind your own business."
"He is not as unique as you seem to think he is. He is just like the rest of them."
"I'm not five."
"No, but you are as stupid as a five year old."
"For the last time - "
"You just don't listen, do you? You like the risk too much. Don't you, Sherlock? …Sherlock?"
Of course, it goes to the bad. These things always do.
Sherlock overhears the fateful conversation as he is walking past the Junior Common Room.
"…is it going with your freak, Seb?"
"Oh God! He's completely infatuated - "
A round of laughter blocks out the rest of the words.
" - So I think you've lost your bet, Will."
"Me too. Here." A rustle of notes, money changing hands.
"You going to get rid of him now, Seb?"
Sherlock opens the door and says, "No need." Everyone looks up instantly, like startled rabbits; money is still on the table and Sebastian's eyes are as wide as saucers.
Sherlock gives him a nod. "Good evening," he says steadily and leaves, closing the door behind him.
Mycroft sends him a box of tissues and a note that says you are a fool. Sherlock hurls the box of tissues out of his window and falls asleep clutching the note to his chest.
After that, Sebastian and his entourage don't mock him at all if they see him; in fact, all they do is ignore him and he them. He is, once more, utterly alone.
He has been, as Mycroft said, a complete fool. He thought that someone - someone in this soul-grinding hole of a place with its woolly-headed rich people and their handful of regurgitated answers - was like him. Or at least a bit like him. He thought that someone might just be as rule-breaking as him, as out of the ordinary as him, as much of a freak as him.
He is never letting anyone so close to him again.
It is many years later and John is handing him a cheque over the breakfast table.
"By the way - thought you might like this."
Sherlock glances down at the cheque. It is for twenty thousand pounds, made out to him by one Sebastian Wilkes. He frowns.
"I said I didn't need an incentive." He had phrased it that way on purpose; just a little dig to remind Seb of what he had done.
John shrugs, taking a bite of his toast. "I know." He chews on the toast carefully and continues, "I just thought he was such a bastard that you might like to fleece him for all he's worth anyway."
Sherlock glances at John over the top of the cheque. John is grinning at him, his open, warm, mischievous grin. Sherlock finds himself grinning back.
"He definitely hasn't changed, I can tell you that."
"It's my chairman. The police have been onto him. …Apparently they're telling him it was a suicide."
"Well they've got it wrong Sebastian, he was murdered."
"Well. I'm afraid they don't see it like that."
"And neither does my boss…"
Just as sheep-like as all the others. How did Sherlock ever think he had potential?
Maybe - if he had stayed with Sherlock - he would have…
He glances sidelong at John, who is flicking through a Daily Mail, toast half held to his mouth as if he has forgotten he is holding it. John has a way of defending Sherlock, of making up for things, without being anything but discreet. John has a way of not asking questions.
He grabs a pen, changes the name on it and pushes it back across the table. John stares at it, then stares at him.
"I can't - "
"For services rendered."
"Sherlock, I really can't."
"Nonsense." Sherlock takes a last sip of his now lukewarm coffee, closes his papers. "If nothing, it'll get you away from that annoying job which takes you away from me at the most inconvenient hours. And make up for that whole being-threatened-by-a-gang-of-Chinese-smugglers thing."
The hesitation is still in John's eyes. Sherlock leans over before he can think about it, briefly touches John's index finger with the tip of his own. "Take it," he says quietly. "And shut up."
With a flourish, he takes his empty plate over to the kitchen, if only to avoid the blossoming smile on John's face.
He is never letting anyone close to him again.
Except - and always, and always - Doctor John Watson.