A young pre-med student stood alone in a makeshift gym with a punching bag and his thoughts. His white, cotton t-shirt was soaked through with sweat and his dirty blond hair bounced with every punch. His eyes were hard and determined; all he saw was the bag which, in that moment, was a threat he had to eliminate. He moved with the grace of a dancer, swiftly and with perfect precision. He ended his dance with a well executed roundhouse kick and a punch to the bullseye of a target painted on the bag. It was painted directly where a heart would be on a person. His body relaxed, his lungs straining for air, when a familiar and disheartening voice echoed from the door to the room.
"Wrong," the voice said in a baritone like melted chocolate. "Very wrong, John."
The other man was tall, skinny, and as pale as the most fragile of porcelain dolls. His features were accompanied by well defined cheekbones and dark curly hair. He also dressed far too formally to be in a gym, wearing a suit without a tie. John could feel his own anger flare up as soon as he entered the room.
"What about that was wrong, Sherlock?" he asked, fidgeting with the tape around his knuckles as a distraction for his aggravation.
"Everything, and that's Mr. Holmes to you," he replied, shutting the door behind him.
"How would you know? You just came in, you weren't here for everything."
"I saw enough," he said in a way to say that was the end of the conversation.
John wasn't one to let Sherlock tell him when the conversation was done. "You saw nothing."
Sherlock glared at him icily with his cold, grey eyes. A look like that was enough to make most grown men cower, but not John. It was a few moments before Sherlock realized this and dropped the stare. He sighed and removed his suit jacket, draping it over the back of a stray chair.
"Let's do some actual work now," Sherlock criticized, rolling up his sleeves.
"Actual work," John seethed under his breath. "I've already been training for hours like you told me to."
"Do you want praise for doing what you're told? Besides, you haven't trained with me yet today," he walked over to the other side of the room that was free of training equipment and the floor was lined with mats. "Come over here."
John clenched his teeth in frustration but obeyed his command, nonetheless. He walked over to stand in front of Sherlock who was gazing thoughtfully at an arsenal of weaponry on the wall. John stretched out his arms, knowing he was in for a long, arduous night, but felt uncomfortable when he realized his shirt was actually plastered to his body with sweat. He tugged at the fabric on his chest, trying to pull it away from him but as soon as he let go it reattached itself like a second skin. To solve the situation he peeled the shirt off and wiped away the sweat on his brow before discarding it off to the side.
He ran his hands through his wet hair, spiking it into heavy chunks. Sherlock decided upon his weapon, a simple stake, the most used weapon of a Slayer. That's what John was by some fluke; he became the first male slayer. It was a phenomenon that still baffled Sherlock and those like him. He was assigned to John fresh out of the Watchers Academy to the dismay of the older Watchers who had waited years for their chance. That was why Sherlock was hard on John; he had to prove himself through John's success. He grabbed the sharpened pieces of wood and threw one to John who caught it effortlessly.
"So, you want me to fight you?"
"Yes, I do," he said, looking at John, finally.
He froze, taken aback by a sweat-drenched, shirtless John. He was staring at Sherlock with tired, amused, and kind eyes. Sherlock's words caught in his throat, beads of perspiration forming on his own brow. He forced himself to look away, clearing his throat to disguise his hesitance. He mentally shook his head and stored the thoughts he was having. Sherlock concentrated on keeping everything professional but John had always made that hard for him. It was the life and joy the young Slayer had, even on the day he learned what he was. He had accepted it with grace.
"I could seriously hurt you," John laughed, oblivious to Sherlock's hesitation.
"You underestimate me," he replied, taking up a fighting stance. "We may have only known each other for a few weeks but I am stronger than I seem."
"If you say so," John said, staring at him in disbelief. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Sherlock nodded, concrete in his stance. John shrugged and launched into an attack without regarding Sherlock as an actual threat. He threw a sloppy punch, aiming for his Watcher's chest but Sherlock caught his fist before it landed. He twisted John's arm behind his back so that John's back was pressed against Sherlock's chest.
"Don't underestimate me, John. It's insulting."
John grimaced from the pain in his shoulder. It felt like it was slowly slipping from its socket. Sherlock let go and John quickly righted himself, making a note to take his Watcher more seriously. John reentered the fight strategically, scanning his opponent for weaknesses. He tried to punch Sherlock again, expecting him to catch his fist which he did. In doing so he was distracted which allowed John to perform a sweeping kick, knocking Sherlock's legs out from under him. He hit the mat hard with his back but picked himself up as though nothing had happened.
Sherlock waited, baiting John to make the first move but he refused to take the bait. After a minute of staring, guards up, Sherlock threw his first punch but John dodged it, grabbed his arm, and locked him into the same position he was in when the fight started. Sherlock glanced down at the stake poised above his heart.
"Who's your Slayer?" John said, grinning from ear-to-ear.
Sherlock's eyes narrowed as he gripped John's arm that was around his neck and flipped him over his shoulder onto his back. As John lie there in mild discomfort, Sherlock pulled him up by his hair, exposing his neck.
"I think my Slayer would be dead if I were a vampire."
"Point taken," John said, grumpy that he had been shown up by a twig.
"Let's go again," Sherlock said, helping him to his feet.
They fought again on an almost equal level, Sherlock beating John more often than the other way around. They threw each other into walls, the floor, with Sherlock taking more damage due to John's Slayer strength. There had been a few close calls with falling weapons from the way they were shaking the room. It was past midnight when John had finally worn Sherlock down. He was sitting on top of Sherlock, stake directed at his heart. He was panting heavily, minor cuts and bruises decorating his bare chest, grateful for the chance to catch his breath.
They caught each other's eye, a light flush in their cheeks from the workout. Sherlock was thankful for it because it disguised his embarrassment from being straddled. He didn't entirely mind it and he could tell from the way John was looking at him that he didn't entirely mind it either. However, Sherlock was ever the professional. It was his duty to protect the Slayer and any sort of relationship would do exactly the opposite. They had to keep their distance but, at that moment, John was having different ideas fueled by the way Sherlock's shirt strained against his chest with each breath.
"You can get off of me now," Sherlock said, trying to sound annoyed.
"Right. Sorry," John replied, snapping out of his thoughts as he pushed himself onto his feet.
He held out his hand and helped Sherlock up. His curly hair had lost its bounce after being weighted down by sweat, his dress shirt suffering the same, unhygienic fate. John set down his stake on a desk and turned to Sherlock, appearing like he had something to say but was unsure how to say it.
"You were right," he said, finally. "I underestimated you and I shouldn't have."
"It's a mistake made by many. You were halfway decent for your first sparring match. I should expect no less from the Slayer."
"Thanks," John grinned, before fetching his shirt to put it back on.
"I think that's enough for tonight. We'll pick back up again tomorrow. You should get some sleep before your classes." Sherlock replaced the stakes and fallen weapons before grabbing his jacket on his way out.
"See you then, Sherlock."
Sherlock paused at the door, about to say 'It's Mr. Holmes' for the hundredth time, but he let it slide. He left the gym without a word and John followed soon after.
The next day, on the brink of nightfall, Sherlock sat at the desk in his office that the school had given him for being head of the science department. That was his cover so that he could stay close to John, not that he didn't know a thing or two about science. He sat thinking about John and about their training. It was rare that Sherlock was ever unsure of himself, having been at the top of his class in the Academy, but he never expected to be a Watcher so soon. The Watchers Council said he was ready, that he and the anomalous Slayer would be a perfect fit. Sherlock hadn't seen it at first, assuming John to be a frivolous child, but he was starting to. He was the mind and John was the heart, together they made a complete human.
Sherlock was staring at a stack of paperwork without actually seeing it when the door to his office creaked open. He knew who it was solely by the fact that the person didn't knock first. He was usually a stickler for manners but John's complete disregard caused a smile to creep onto his face. It disappeared as quickly as it came, disintegrating into his usual serious expression as soon as John stepped into the room and shut the door. He walked over, smile on his face, and plopped into one of the chairs in front of him.
"So, Mr. Holmes," John said, picking up and playing with the name plate from Sherlock's desk. "What are we going to be doing tonight?"
"We," Sherlock replied, snatching the name plate from his hands and replacing it, "are going out into the field tonight. The graveyard watch."
"Already?" John asked, paling a little at the thought.
"You're ready, John. I'm sure of it. Besides, the best way to learn is by jumping into the action."
"If you say so," John said.
Sherlock gazed up at John and what he saw shocked him a little. Within John's eyes was pure trust and that that caught Sherlock off guard. He hadn't expected that.
"I do say so. You'll be fine," he replied honestly. "I'll finish up a few things here and then we can go."
John nodded, mentally preparing himself for the night to come. He sat back in the plush chair, watching as Sherlock sped through a few pages of paperwork. After almost a month of barging in on him in his office, John had come to enjoy watching him work. Sherlock developed an adorable crease in his forehead as he concentrated, his cupid's bow lips forming a slight frown as if he were distressed. His presence made John feel more relaxed, like he would be safe.
When he finished with the papers he glanced up at John who shifted his gaze to the side so he wouldn't know he'd been watching him. Sherlock pulled a blue duffel bag out from under his desk and held it open on the floor. He reached into his collar and dragged a thin chain over his head on the end of which dangled three keys. He used one of them to unlock the bottom drawer of his desk and emptied its contents into the bag. Sherlock zipped it closed and threw it to John as he stood up and pushed in his chair. John caught it easily but was surprised by its weight.
"Ready to go?" Sherlock asked.
"Yeah, I think so," he replied, standing up.
"Let's go then."
Sherlock opened the door, ushering John out into the hall. On the other side Sherlock locked it using one of the three keys before draping the chain around his neck again. The two walked out of the school together into the cover of night, John staying one step behind Sherlock with the duffel bag over his shoulder. They made it as far as the campus grass when Sherlock paused, deep in thought. He turned to John, staring at him with the same expression.
"Do you… have a car?" he asked.
"Er, no. Don't you?"
"No. Looks like we'll be walking."
Sherlock shrugged and started in the direction of the nearest graveyard. John stared after him incredulously but followed him anyway. To the ends of the Earth, he supposed, he was his Watcher, after all. They traveled for about a half an hour, marching along the sides of back roads until a fenced off, unnamed graveyard appeared on the horizon. John's nerves reacted unfavorably to actually seeing the destination.
"Sherlock, I don't know that I can do this."
Sherlock stopped dead in his tracks causing John to stumble to a standstill. He stared at the Slayer with hard, calculating eyes before grasping his shoulders and making sure he had John's full attention.
"You can't get cold feet now. This is your destiny, John, what you were born to do."
"I understand that but-"
"I believe you can do it. You have to believe as well or else you're doomed to fail and if you fail, I fail. Plus, I'll be there. I won't let you die; it's in my job description."
John nodded. "Okay, I trust you."
I don't know why, Sherlock thought but he nodded back in response.
They carried on, the graveyard drawing closer, but John was a bit more confident in his abilities. After another ten minutes of walking they were standing at the rusted gate of the cemetery. Sherlock pulled the gate open to a loud, eerie creak and pushed John in first. He hesitated for a second but collected himself and walked through. Sherlock followed, staying just behind him, and the two waded through the sea of headstones until they found the only fresh grave in the cemetery.
Sherlock stopped John and motioned for him to hand over the duffel bag. He placed it on the ground and unzipped it to riffle through its contents. He plucked out a stake and a cross and handed them to John. Then, for himself, he pulled out a bottle of holy water and a large, ancient-looking book that had the word vampyre written on its cover. The Watcher sat cross-legged on the grass and opened the book, engrossing himself in it.
"What happens now?" John asked expectantly.
"We wait," he replied without looking up from the book.
"We wait? That's it? How do you even know a vampire is going to show up?"
Sherlock motioned toward the fresh grave. "That is Gabriel Scott. Twenty-three-years-old, found dead in an alley. The cause of death was being drained of all his blood from two puncture wounds directly in the carotid artery. He was buried today and he'll be coming back tonight so stay on your guard."
"Great. Just great. Any specific time this happens or…"
"We just have to wait, John. Are you going to be like this every time we patrol?"
John glared at Sherlock but he didn't see it because he still had his nose stuck in the book on his lap. He sighed, planting his feet firmly, and kept his eyes on the dirt as he prepared himself for battle. He gripped the stake in his left hand and the cross in his right, waiting very patiently for anything to happen. He waited for an hour and nothing had happened, the wind wasn't even blowing, the only exception was the occasion rustle of turning pages from Sherlock. John's feet and legs were aching, his resolve dissolving, until he finally decided to sit down and rest. This caused Sherlock to look up for the first time since he sat down.
"No, you can't sit," Sherlock said harshly.
"I've been standing for ages and nothing has happened," John whined which set Sherlock off.
"What if he crawls out of his grave while you're sitting around doing nothing? How prepared will you be then?" he hissed.
"Sorry," John mumbled, climbing to his feet.
Sherlock shot him an irritated glare before returning to his reading. John knew that he meant well, it did irritate him a little, but just one look at Sherlock lessened his anger. He couldn't stay mad at him. Not too long after their little exchange, as John was watching the ground, the dirt started pushing up. Something underneath was trying to dig its way out.
"Uh, Sherlock," John said nervously.
"What is it now?" he replied, still grouchy.
"I think Gabriel is awake."
Sherlock calmly shut his book and set it aside, watching the mound of dirt as it moved like it was breathing. The closer the vampire dug toward the surface the more deeply the dirt would breathe until a hand managed to break through the top soil.
"What do I do?" John panicked as the lone hand searched for something to grab to pull the rest of his body up.
"Stay on guard," Sherlock said. "Keep your head straight. Remember that he is just as strong as you are and to aim for the heart. You've trained for this."
Sherlock picked up his book and holy water and stepped a few feet back from the grave. He could hold his own in a fight with a vampire for a little while but it wasn't his place to interfere, even if he wanted to. The second hand broke through the dirt, both groping the ground for a hand hold. The fingers buried themselves solidly in the dirt and the vampire pulled using all of his strength, dragging out his head and upper body.
It appeared to be a normal human being in a nice black suit that was riddled with dirt stains. He looked around wildly until he set his sights on the closest living thing: John. Gabriel could hear John's blood frantically pumping through his veins and it drove the vampire in him crazy with hunger. His face changed, morphing into the monster he was. His brow shifted downward into a perpetual glare, his eyes turned yellow, and a pair of long sharp fangs grew, more than sharp enough to pierce through flesh. Motivated by hunger, he dragged himself the rest of the way out of the ground and launched himself at John. John held out his right arm, cross exposed, which caused Gabriel to stop and stumble back, hissing.
"Who are you?" Gabriel asked.
"I'm the Slayer," John said, searching for confidence, "and you're fucked."
"Slayer," he growled. "I'll rip your throat out."
John tossed the cross at the vampire which forced him to step back. John moved forward, throwing a punch and knocked him back into his own headstone. The stone fractured from the force and John rushed in for the kill but Gabriel caught his left arm before the stake could hit its mark. The vampire threw him away and John landed hard on his back. Gabriel was on him before he could react. His knee was pressing on John's ribs as he leaned in to bite him. John had his eyes squeezed shut, anticipating the end, when a shout forced him to open his eyes.
Sherlock caught his Slayer's attention and threw the bottle of holy water. John caught it with his free hand and popped off the stopper with his thumb. He could feel fangs brushing against his skin when he tossed the water onto the creature's face. Gabriel screamed, falling backward, clutching his face as the water burned his flesh. John attacked him before he had time to recover, positioning himself over the writhing vampire and plunging the stake into his chest with all the strength he could muster. Gabriel stopped moving, shock on his face, as he crumbled into a pile of dust.
"I did it…"
John stared down at the ashes, stunned and amazed. He had actually done it. He plucked the stake from the vampire's remains and stood up, allowing what had just happened to sink in. He turned and looked to Sherlock who had a small, proud, affectionate smile on his face. John walked over to him and pulled him into a hug. Sherlock hesitated at the display of fondness but wrapped his arms around John's shoulders anyway. Without thinking, propelled by the excitement of the moment, John reached up to bring Sherlock's face down to his level and kissed him.
It only lasted a second or two and when he pulled away Sherlock looked horrified and surprised, as if John had just lit him on fire. John appeared shocked at his own actions and a little ashamed. He stepped back, an apology on his lips, when Sherlock grabbed him and drew him back in. Every single feeling they had been suppressing exploded all at once like a nuclear reaction. Their lips found each other again, frantic and almost hungry. John used his strength and pinned Sherlock against a nearby headstone, dropping the stake and intertwining his fingers with Sherlock's dark hair. They were getting lost in each other when Sherlock's cloud of emotion started to dissipate.
"Wait," he mumbled into John's lips before forcing him away. "Wait! We can't do this, John. You know how wrong it is."
"Why? You're only a few years older than me," he said, missing the point.
"That's not what I mean. I'm your Watcher. I can't allow my judgment to be clouded by any sort of attachment. It could get one or both of us killed," he tried to stress to John.
"I think it's a little late for not making attachments," he replied with a playful smile.
Sherlock sighed despondently. "I tried so hard not to…"
He looked so disappointed in himself that it almost broke John's empathetic heart.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen. We can just pretend it never did," he suggested with hope.
"I don't think I'd be able to," Sherlock said, stating it as fact. "The Watchers Council will not be pleased with this."
"They don't have to know."
"Our relationship would have to stay very secret. We could never let our emotions get in the way."
"It can work."
"How could I ever do that to you?" he asked, sadness shining in his eyes.
The question lingered for a moment.
"Would you shut up and stop using your brain for once?"
John lured him back in without any hesitance. That was the moment when Sherlock realized that he and the Watchers Council had been right. They were a perfect fit. The Watcher had the mind, the Slayer had the heart, and together they made a whole human being.