Title: From Here, Light
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Rating: Eventual NC-17 (this chapter PG for language)
Word Count: 1,488
Warning: bad language
Disclaimer: I borrow them, I don't own them.
Summary: AU in which John Watson is a third-year medic at Cambridge University, and Sherlock Holmes the upstart Fresher he unwittingly inherits as a College Son. And what happened then ... Dunston is, of course, not a real Cambridge college.
It was ten in the morning and the thin October sun had finally appeared above the tall stone parapets, washing John in it's weak light. Slightly warmer than before, though, he could slide his blanket off a bit. John cracked open his third beer of the day - Red Stripe - and took a grateful slurp, leaning back in his deckchair, shoeless feet resting in front of him on the balcony's edge.
Favourite day of the year, he thought, definitely. As a third-year medic he was now, finally and officially, top of the undergraduate heap at Dunston College and looking forward to a relatively easy year of clinical placements, following the patient pathway and hard drinking. Maybe pull a Fresher too, why not.
A hard thump as Greg dropped down next to him, pawing at his own can of Red Stripe, face unshaven and baggy-eyed, "Shove up Watson, you're hogging the bloody view". He crunched his deckchair against John's, trying to jimmy him out of the way. "Are they out yet?"
John shook his head, "Nah, always takes longer than you'd think, all that Latin, Hinc lucem et pocula sacra, bollocks bollocks bollocks."
Greg snorted a little piggy laugh, "What's that then? I promise not to ... bring the college into disrepute?"
"Drink before noon, I think is the direct translation," John grinned around his beer can.
"Um ... join the rowing team ..."
John grimaced, "God no, the apes." He glanced at the window behind them rather wickedly and raised his voice, "I promise not to get fucked up on pro-plus and have to re-take third year!"
"Fuck off, you bastards!" The protest came from the room behind the window, and Molly appeared at it's open face with a mini bottle of wine in one hand and a bacon butty in the other, "I wasn't ... fucked up ... I had been revising very hard and hadn't had any sleep and I just wanted to be ... alert!"
"Oh you were," agreed John, clapping a cheerful hand on her shoulder which hung out of the window as she tried to clamber up onto the balcony, handless, "You were extremely alert."
"Exceedingly alert!" laughed Greg.
Molly glared, "Oh bugger off." She sat down precariously on one of the stone balustrades that punctuated the balcony, "And if you want breakfast you'd butter hop to it, the buttery's about to shut shop."
"Ugh", John wrinkled his nose in distaste, "No fear. I don't know how you eat that shit. It's not been near a pig, ever."
Molly rolled her eyes, "Same argument, different Michaelmas.** Bloody cold, I'm bored. Are they out yet?"
"Still no. Done soon though I reckon." John looked along the balcony, where the second and third years had gathered looking down onto Dunston's main courtyard, bringing beer and breakfast (a few windows away, three girls had actually lugged a bucket of what looked like Pimms out with them and were attacking it with long straws) to watch the matriculation of the college's new intake. Freshers - fresh meat, and the peanut gallery had come out to play with their food.
It had always been tradition at Dunston to torture Freshers (records from the fourteenth century proved it), just a little, particularly on their first official day as Dunstonites. They would pour out of the Great Hall on a crisp and sunny October morning, proud in their brand new college gowns, all clean, nervous and hopeful. And come face to face with a jeering mob of older students in varying states of undress and drunkenness. And just when they had come to terms with the fact that these, apparently, were their new 'friends', the egg throwing would begin. Cruel, but every Fresher had put up with it, and so every undergraduate passed on the humiliation when they had the opportunity.
Greg flipped open a 12-pack of eggs, "Choose your weapon of choice, John. Brown, speckled, large or small, are we going for accuracy or a general scattergun approach?"
Molly leaned over to look, "Are those free range? I hope they're free range."
"What?" John was open-mouthed, "We're throwing them at people Molls, throwing them."
"Don't worry Molly", Greg smirked, "I'm sure the chickens are at peace. Look, just take a few, John. And you Molly, put the butty down it isn't going anywhere. Load up, people."
They passed the eggs round carefully, it wouldn't do to break one and have to navigate the sticky mess when they were perched so high above the ground. Laden with their ammunition, they sat.
"You said soon." Molly's small voice echoed plaintively around the balcony, as a hundred odd students began to get restless.
"Shut up," muttered Greg, "Just ... wait."
John settled back, eggs in arms. He was actually quite content to wait, letting the beer buzz around comfortably in his bloodstream, and the sun warm his head.
Molly and Greg bickered quietly to each other in his periphery. He wasn't quite sure how they'd formed their little group. No, he knew Greg from rugby, of course. Greg Lestrade was captain of the team (and captain of mixed lacrosse, men's footie and quite randomly, golf) and John was a useful if not supremely talented Scrum Half. They had bonded over rugby, loathing of boarding schools, great relationship with beer and their shared lazy cynicism and love of an easy life.
Molly, though ... she just sort of appeared in their lives. She had been in the year above, one of those girls who worked very hard all day and then got very drunk all night, wearing sparkly dresses and lots of blusher. Too busy and fevered to get to know John and Greg in any meaningful way, unless it had been to pull them (which she hadn't seemed keen on when Greg tried) A typical Eleanor Holles girl, slightly more ambitious than the norm because she had chosen medicine rather than Classics, but essentially a lovely, upper-middle girl who would have a husband rather than a career.
That is, until she veered wildly off the rails. Well, wildly for Molly. John suspected she simply hadn't been able to cope with the pressure anymore. She became almost a recluse, emerging from her room only to snag mini bottles of wine from the college bar at closing time, when it was generally quietest.
This is where John had noticed her, as he nursed a quiet Guinness and reading Goldberg's Clinical Anatomy Made Ridiculously Simple (which was not, unfortunately, living up to it's title). She looked exhausted, wearing clothes that were clearly two days old, her hair unbrushed and eyes far too shiny.
He stretched out a hand, waving towards her, "Molly, Molly Hooper, you alright?" and as she turned towards his kind eyes and small, gentle smile, her entire being seemed to sag.
She walked towards him, wine in hand, and sat down on the sofa opposite, knees touching his.
"No, John. I don't think so. Not really, no."
And that was that. He had to hug her. And somehow, she was just ... John's friend. And as a result, Greg's. When she crashed out of her exams, he hugged her, and when she came back the next year, he made sure they were in the same house together. John loved an underdog, and a project. And while she and Greg had a love/hate sort of a friendship, John thought Molly was the bees knees. There's nothing like a public schoolgirl who has realised that actually, she just wants to hang out and have a decent time, rather than living up to expectations. John often wondered why he didn't fancy her. He should've done, something rotten. But perhaps it was better this way. Less mess, less fuss, less inevitable breakup with some pretty girl sobbing, "It's as if you don't even care about me, John..."
John doubted the Freshers would make much impact on their lives together, their little group of three. He planned to be drinking with the rugby crew and spending lots of time changing catheters up at Addenbrooke's Hospital. But maybe there'd be some totty. One could always hope.
"Look look look!" Molly squealed in abject excitement as the great wooden door opened inwards, leaving a black space through which the Freshers would come, "They're here, they're here, get ready!"
Greg sat up violently, almost juggling his eggs. John braced himself, ready to jeer as loudly as he could, as the first of the new year's intake walked into the light, blinking ...