Sherlock hates strings.
Of course not the strings of his violin - no, strings with which you can tie somebody up. Capture somebody; deny them their freedom.
His older brother has always tried to connect himself with him through these bloody strings, but Sherlock runs away from them. It's not that he is afraid of them. Of course not. Sherlock Holmes is not afraid of anything. It is just that he doesn't need strings like other people do, he's perfectly fine without them. He is the only person he knows who hasn't got any strings and he is very proud of it. He feels even more special without them than he already does.
Sherlock has never been in need of them. There was no one who has ever understood this. An outsider would say Sherlock had a very lonely childhood. Sherlock would say he had a very unstringed childhood. Sherlock thinks that this was freedom.
John is a person full of loose strings. Sherlock deduces this in the very first few seconds of their acquaintance. John's strings reach out and connect him with everybody. John likes that. John is a very stringy person.
Sherlock wonders why he doesn't detest it. Him. But something makes him accept John. He wouldn't say he liked John - to like is definitely a string. And Sherlock hates strings. But despite the sticky ends of these horrible things that surround John, Sherlock likes to be close to John. He just has to try not to get stuck, not to get tied up. This shouldn't be a problem.
Sticky, stringy John kills a man to save Sherlock's life. And what does Sherlock do? Invite him to dinner. He is such an idiot. He should have known.
Afterwards, when Sherlock has a shower, he scrubs his pale skin even harder than he usually does. The water is so hot that it's almost painful, but Sherlock has to wash away the glue of John's sticky ends. It's so difficult. He tucked away the strings but the glue just won't go away.
When he enters the kitchen to get some tea he is flushed and his skin is pink. John can see it because Sherlock didn't care to dress in his gown (why didn't he, why? he hates being exposed, hates his skin being visible, even more when it's hot and pink and flushed) and John smiles his warm, worn-out smile that makes his strings look like deadly ropes (he really should have known, calling himself a genius).
Sherlock closes his eyes and lowers his head, pretends that water from his soaking wet hair has come into them. Suddenly there is a mug in his hand. He looks up and is again blinded by his flatmate's smile. The mug in his hand is hot, John has made him some tea. He takes a sip - exactly how he likes his tea.
One of the very few things you simply cannot deduce is how someone likes his tea. It's a thing that annoys Sherlock beyond words.
But John just knows.
Suddenly there are two strings which pull up the corners of Sherlock's full lips.
"Thank you", he whispers. Not just for the tea.
"Anytime. Good night." John is still smiling when he turns around to climb the stairs and go to bed.
They are golden (like his hair). Tiny, very thin, but very strong. They make you stand still and stop thinking (he hates to stop thinking, he hates strings). They make you watch their owner, look at him, besotted, enchanted, they make you breathe in his scent and repeat his voice in your head and seek for the warmth of the tea he made for you, for the warmth of his touch when he gave it to you.
They capture you, they don't let you go.
That's what strings do.
It isn't so bad, he thinks, while they tie him up secretly, very few at first, but he doesn't care to wash them off anymore. He just stares at their owner until his bedroom door shuts. Still smiling.
Sherlock lets his guard down. He stops caring.
John watches the news and gets angry about something Sherlock doesn't know or care about, something that has to do with politics. That is Mycroft's area. When John gets angry he doesn't do grand gestures like Sherlock, it's just something in his posture that changes. Sherlock thinks it is special and he like to observe it everytime (a new string).
John laughs (a new one) at a joke someone told him in the army. It has come to his mind because he found his dog tags (a new one) when he finally unpacked his things in 221B (a new one) (Sherlock was afraid - no, he thought John would never unpack his stuff). But with the flood of memories of the war there also come unpleasant ones and suddenly John has a very serious, almost sad expression on his face (Sherlock stops counting the new strings at this point). Only for a few seconds - he doesn't like to wear that expression, especially when Sherlock stands in the doorway and watches him. So John acts like everything is okay and smiles his false, rather new, not so worn-out smile when he looks at the detective (ten new ones, oh God).
Later, at the crime scene, John scowls at Sally when she calls Sherlock a freak (a dozen new ones), and he laughs when Sherlock tells Anderson to shut up (everywhere strings).
Everywhere on his pale skin, there is glue. Sherlock cannot even see his skin anymore, he only sees these golden, mischievous little things.
As long as they don't go under my skin, everything is still fine, he tells his skull in a private moment. He can still pull them off later and wash the glue away. Only bones are important and my bones are mine.
It's all fine.
The problem with John's loose strings is that they reach anyone. John has so many of them and he loves to share them.
The problem with Sherlock is, once he actually let some of them stick to him, even if they're only superficially attached to him, he doesn't like them to be somewhere else.
There is a new case, an interesting one, and John helps him (of course he does, they are connected now, but just loosely, don't forget, you can pull the strings off whenever you like). He follows him to the bank.
Sebastian also wanted to glue his strings onto Sherlock once, but Sherlock refused.
Sherlock has always refused, but he looks forward to show Sebastian that he actually is capable of something like that. He introduces John as his friend.
This is when everything in Sherlock's life goes downhill. John doesn't acknowledge being Sherlock's friend, instead he promptly corrects him by saying colleague.
Suddenly every string on Sherlock's skin is being pulled off, the glue rips and it hurts. Superficially. The tiny, thin strings are all away and that should please Sherlock, but it hurts.
Something else hurts even more. And that's inside his, his, his body. The sight of the ropes. Sherlock can finally see each and every rope John is holding in his strong, small hands (does he know that he holds them, does he know what power he has? please don't let him know). The loose ends of them are all glued on and knotted with each of Sherlock's bones.
Sherlock Holmes is a puppet on the strings and John Watson is the puppet master.
That is why Sherlock hates strings.