Title: Say No
Disclaimer: Many people own these characters, but turns out I'm not one of them.
Pairings: Sherlock/John if you squint.
Summary: One day, John is going say 'no'. To Sherlock's surprise, it doesn't happen the way he expects.
A/N: Not my first fic, but certainly my first Sherlock fic. Thanks to xDarkxLightx for beta work.
Sherlock Holmes likes knowing exactly where the boundaries lie. He knows Mrs. Hudson ignores knife-scratches on the mantelpiece but not bullet-holes in the wall; that Lestrade lets him investigate but not nick evidence from crime scenes; that Mycroft will tolerate just about anything as long as Sherlock continues to solve those petty little problems of his—in particular, the ones requiring legwork.
Sherlock likes knowing exactly where the 'yes's turn into 'no's, because those stay constant, while people do not. Sherlock's own world is a precise construction of 'true's and 'false's, and the boundaries prevent him from falling to pieces when faced with the morass of contradictions that calls itself 'life'.
But then there's John. John, who's never said 'no' to anything Sherlock's asked of him—and most of the time he never even asked outright, only left dangling the unspoken questions. John, will you be my flatmate? John, will you solve crimes with me? John, will you come find me halfway across London because I asked you to?
And the more John says 'yes' the more afraid Sherlock gets, because it's only a matter of time before it all ends. One day it's all going to be too much, and John Watson will finally realize that he is living with a lunatic disguised as a genius.
Too late, Sherlock finds that he can't stop asking. John, will you kill a man to save me? John, are you willing to die for me? He is careening out of control, and only John's unwavering 'yes's are keeping him breathing.
Selfish, that's what this is, fitting John slowly but inexorably into his life, and this is perhaps the very first time Sherlock Holmes cares.
It all crystallizes the night John gets shot. Sherlock makes sure that the men responsible are either dead or in police custody (he'd have preferred all dead, but Lestrade arrived too soon), then ends up pacing furiously by John's bedside, snarling at the nurses who try to lead him away. John, unconscious in a hospital bed. John, drained of color and looking entirely too vulnerable. John, who should have run out of 'yes's a long, long time ago, who should have left him without ever looking back.
Sherlock doesn't mind running headlong into danger—thrives in it, really—but it's unfair to keep dragging John along with him, and all because the man seems incapable of saying 'no'.
"You look like a tiger," a tired voice comes from beside him. "A ferocious, beautiful tiger."
"John!" Sherlock spins around and sweeps up John's hand, the one that's free of IV tubing and pieces of tape. "Eyes. Frown. You're in pain. More morphine?"
"Sherlock, I'm fine," John rasps. "Well, for someone who's just been shot." His hand is very warm in Sherlock's own.
Sherlock allows himself to savor the relief for exactly one minute—John is alive—then voices the words he should have said the moment John said his first 'yes'. "John, you can't live with me."
"You—you're kicking me out because I got shot?" John blinks slowly, bewildered. "Isn't that a bit harsh, even for you?"
"Listen, John," Sherlock starts, low and furious, "you got out alive tonight, but just barely. And there will be a time when that won't be true. I am going to get you killed one day. So you see, it's not safe for you to continue living with me." He stands up, letting John go. "Why couldn't you have said 'no', just once?" he whispers miserably. "Before it all started?"
"Now, hang on." John is struggling to sit up. "I thought we'd established that I am, in fact, attracted to danger just as much as you are. I am perfectly able to make my own decisions. Anyway, look at my shoulder, I was getting shot at long before I met you."
Sherlock does, in fact, look at John's shoulder, and then the rest of him, before realisation strikes. John's mouth is set, defiant, and there's that hard steadiness in his eyes which normally appears just before he shoots something.
"So don't be absurd, Sherlock," John says, almost fondly. "I'm not going anywhere."
"No." John's reply is firm and gloriously grounding. "And really, if you thought I'd just leave because you told me to, that's the first time I've ever heard you being stupid."
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