For those of you not familiar with the Doyle canon, this is sort of my version/interpretation/bastardization of the scenario leading up to "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott". It's not really important that you know that, except to note that Victor Trevor is a canonical character and a friend of Sherlock Holmes's at Sidney Sussex College.
And before you start: yes, I know it took me 2 months to finish the epilogue. I'm only human, I do apologize.
"Sherlock, I know you only weigh about half a fucking stone, but hurry up anyway."
With a bite of his lip and a roll of his eyes, Victor obeyed. Momentarily. His voice low, he continued to grumble his protest. "My arm is falling asleep." He shifted the hand that was cupped beneath the sole of Sherlock's right shoe, trying to take some of his friend's weight off his own disproportionately burdened right arm. "Jesus, have you almost got it or what?"
"Hold on!" Sherlock snarled, the late spring chill in the air slowed his fingers as they guided the flat bit of metal through the narrow crack between window and sill, prying at the latch. So acute was his concentration that he nearly bit blood from his tongue as his teeth clenched tighter. Just as Victor opened his mouth to whine another protest, the latch gave a satisfying click and the window popped open a few centimetres. Gripping the sill, Sherlock silently pulled himself up onto the narrow ledge and slithered gracefully through the tiny window, pausing only to make sure that the wire cutters in his pocket didn't tap against anything. Scratches on the sill were suspicious enough; broken glass would be nails in their respective coffins.
His most crucial job now complete, Victor turned his back and leaned against the cool brick wall and casually stood guard, running his fingers through his wavy blond hair. He was itching for a cigarette, but he knew that Sherlock would scold him for drawing attention to himself. His fingers slid into his pocket and an impish smile lit up his face. He loved it when Sherlock scolded him, but he needed the impetuous genius in a good mood this evening in particular, that's why he had so eagerly agreed to Operation Head Hunter, as he'd affectionately named it. Sherlock had scowled at that.
He loved it when Sherlock scowled.
He was getting a bit antsy. He wasn't sure how long it would take to snip the supporting wires that held a human skull onto the rest of it's preserved, articulated skeleton, but surely…thirty-eight seconds would have been long enough? Thirty-eight seconds is a long time, longer than you realise in day-to-day life. A long time to stand guard and wait in the middle of the night, at least.
Finally, with a soft huff, Sherlock wriggled back through the window, pushing a pale, grinning skull onto the ledge in front of him and positioning himself uncomfortably so as not to knock it to the ground below. Victor reached his hand over his head and gave a little inviting gesture, intending Sherlock to hand him the skull so he could make it out more easily. Sherlock noticed, but wouldn't suffer Victor to touch it. Near the end of his manoeuvring, the back of his pea coat caught on the window latch and the ripping sound it produced was so deafening that both boys clenched their teeth and froze.
An agonizing ten second wait produced no authority figures, so Victor gestured more urgently and Sherlock allowed his friend to help him to ground level, only to lift him back up a moment later to re-latch the window and collect the skull. Victor was tempted to take Sherlock's hand as they hurriedly – but not too hurriedly – strolled back across campus, but he decided that it wasn't the time for it. Later. Later, when Sherlock was properly high on his victory, he'd allow it then. Victor smiled again. The casualness with which Sherlock sauntered, stolen skull under his arm, coat torn, and not a shadow of concern on his face, was incredible. He was tailor-made for a life of crime.
"I like it."
Sherlock blinked out of his contemplation and – for the first time in the last ten minutes – turned to look down at his companion. Victor had one of those winning smiles that could warm your whole body, and he was using it now – almost literally. His chin rested affectionately on Sherlock's sternum, his left hand sandwiched between his own chest and Sherlock's stomach and his knees curled up off to one side, so when he smiled, Sherlock could feel it in his chest.
"It's very you, Sherlock, to have a pet skull," he added, "It's kind of ogling me, though."
"It can't ogle you, it doesn't have eyes." His voice rumbled through his chest, and Victor's eyes slid contentedly shut for a moment.
"Thank you, captain literal," he teased. Pushing up onto his hands, he leaned over and spun the skull on the nightstand until it faced the blank wall. "There, now you've just got me to look at."
"If you insist."
Victor was unique in the respect that Sherlock's flat indifference had no effect on him whatsoever. Sherlock could spit all the venom he wanted, and it would only endear Victor to him that much more. "Look at me."
"I want you to come home with me. When classes are over. My dad said it's alright, I asked him a while ago."
Sherlock's eyes narrowed, but his mouth softened slightly. His gaze drifted along the ceiling.
"Sherlock." Victor insisted quietly. "I know you don't want to go home to your brother and your father. Mycroft avoids you as much as possible and your father thinks you're a freak and a failure and it makes me sick. You're alone in that big, pretentious house, I hate it."
"You have a big, pretentious house, Victor," Sherlock pointed out with the shadow of a smile.
Victor smiled, partly because it was true, but mostly because Sherlock had smiled first. "But you don't have to be alone in mine." Gently, his hand slid beneath Sherlock's shirt, trailing fingertips along soft skin, and Sherlock sighed quietly. Biting his lip, he dared to brush the pale, raised scar along the crest of Sherlock's hip. The deeply, clumsily carved letter "V," as clear to the touch as it was to look at, if Sherlock could ever be convinced let you see it, which had happened only once.
He stiffened, but didn't protest.
"Why do you never – "
"I don't remember."
Victor swallowed sourly. "How could you not remember? Not even remember what it stands for?"
"It doesn't matter, maybe it was an accident. A 'V' is just two lines."
"You know it wasn't an accident."
Sherlock scoffed, and with his right hand he spun the skull back around to face him. A skull is a terribly easy sort of friend to chat with, they never ask prying questions. They do rather ogle you, though, when they know your secrets better than you yourself. Somewhere below his belly, he felt Victor's lips press against his skin, and the skull mocked him.
"Veni, vidi, vici," Victor crooned, following Sherlock's gaze as it reattached to his prize, "V for victory."
"It can be V for Victor if you prefer." He hadn't meant it in the way that Victor thought he meant it, but when he felt the rush of Victor's heart as it fluttered against his stomach, he was glad he'd been misunderstood. The skull was laughing silently now.
"I'll come home with you," Sherlock conceded quietly, "if you want."
Victor's perfect smile was so wide that Sherlock felt it radiating all the way through his fingertips. "Sherlock – "
He laughed, "Nothing, just…turn it the other way."
"Because." he pushed up into a sitting position and leaned in close to Sherlock's face, "I don't want it watching." It was hardly the first time Victor had kissed him, just then, warmly and without greed or malice or ulterior motives, but it was the first time in a very long tome that Sherlock felt profoundly unsure about something, and somewhere in the back of his conscious thought, he wanted very much to be alone.
He decided finally – as he lay awake and Victor slept soundly beside him – that he did want to stay with Victor and not alone in his "pretentious" house, and that he didn't particularly mind that Victor was secretly, quietly, lovingly hoping against hope that they would sleep together somewhere along that timeline, and not in the sense that they were doing now.
Sherlock sighed and glanced back at the skull, who apparently thought all this musing of his on sex and love was very funny indeed.
Vincent, was the skull's name, and Sherlock wasn't sure exactly why he knew that. He hadn't named, it had he? He wasn't in the habit of naming inanimate objects or speculating about names they might have once had.
Belatedly, he honoured Victor's request and turned the gaping eye sockets toward the wall. He was in no mood to be so scrutinized, to be judged. For one of the first times in his life, he had something to look forward to.