The Case of the Cuddle
Set after TGG, Sherlock is forced to face up to dark memories from his childhood. John lock and Mystrade at the end. Deals with very dark, adult themes. Please review?
This story is dedicated with love to my Sherlock-loving fangrrl niece, Amelia, who introduced me to the term 'Meh' as a verbal shrug. Memlet, you are the greatest, and I'm sorry this is such a gloomy one. I promise I'll write you a happy one next.
The first thing he became aware of was the surface on which he was lying. It was extremely hard. And very, very cold. But perhaps that was partly because he was soaked through. That was the second thing he became aware of. And the third, of course, was the fact that he was capable of being aware of anything at all, which seemed beyond a miracle.
'Why am I not dead?' he said out aloud.
He opened his eyes. Lurid sodium glare of streetlights. And what was that, smoke? Something, somewhere, was burning. Big time.
And his ears were ringing.
I ought to be scared, he thought. But his heart beat was steady, although slightly raised, as was his breathing. Post exertion then.
Moriarty. The bomb. The gun. Sherlock.
But Sherlock was there, beside him, lying on his back too, on the pavement, soaked through, his chest heaving. He turned his head and their eyes met.
'Christ, that was close,' John wheezed, mostly in relief that Sherlock was moving.
'Understatement of the decade,' Sherlock said. And grinned. That lovely, lop-sided grin that John saw so rarely, and which made him feel like the sun had just come out after a hurricane.
It was endorphins and adrenaline and shock that made them both burst into hysterical giggles, but it felt so good to be alive, so incredible to be safe, so deliriously funny to be cold and wet and lying flat on their backs on a pavement in the middle of central London.
Then there were blue flashing lights, and fire engines and police cars, and ambulances and paramedics, and they had to get up, so they rolled and staggered and clawed their way up each other, still roaring with laughter, tears streaming down their cheeks, until they managed some semblance of being vertical.
Then there was Lestrade. Face as grey as his badger-striped hair.
'What the fuck?'
How can you explain away this one, John thought, and then watched as Sherlock did, with consummate style. Even if his speech was very slightly slurred, as if he was drunk, which John knew he wasn't.
What had actually happened was all a blur to John. Work, kidnap, bomb, pool, Sherlock, gun, snipers, boom, splash, pavement. It all spun in his head like a fairground ride, making him feel rather peculiar.
'I think I may be concussed,' he remarked, butting into the conversation.
Sherlock giggled helplessly.
John bent over with a decorous sweep and vomited on the detective's shoes.
'Oh, bollocks,' Sherlock hiccupped. 'Those were new.'
'You're both soaked,' John heard Lestrade say above his head.
'Pool,' John croaked at him. 'Chlorine.' And threw up again. 'Oh, dear.'
After that, it was a jumble of tableaux. The inside of the ambulance. The Accident and Emergency Unit. Mycroft's pinched face, aggressively unamused. The disapproval of the doctor when they insisted on going home. The inside of Mycroft's purring limousine. Sherlock's fingers fumbling with the keys to the door of the flat.
They staggered up the stairs, Sherlock labouring like Sir Edmund Hillary struggling up Everest, John bringing up the rear, his Sherpa Tensing, putting his shoulder to the detective's backside, partly to pitch him forward, partly to support himself. When they got to the living room, they looked about them in a daze.
'Should go to bed,' Sherlock said. 'S'pose.'
'Wet clothes,' John agreed. 'Hot shower?'
They looked at one another like a pair of drunks.
'Fuck that,' Sherlock said. And folded into the sofa.
John swayed. ''sruined.'
'Coat.' He pointed. 'S'nice but 's'ruined.'
'Meh,' Sherlock shrugged. 'Get another one.'
John managed another resolute moment of swaying, and then what was left of his sense of balance dissolved, and he swallow-dived sideways (if such a thing is possible), landing on top of his prone flatmate.
They lay there.
'You weigh a ton,' Sherlock wheezed.
''leven stone.' John flopped sideways into the back of the couch, arm across Sherlock's chest, mouth unexpectedly full of sodden tweed. ''sno' much.'
'Nuff,' Sherlock mumbled.
And after that, there was sleep.
And an awareness of somebody snoring.
'Well, it wasn't me!' Sherlock was indignant. 'I don't snore!' He was lying on his back, his head on one of the union jack cushions. John was still pinned to the back of the sofa, but he was lying on his good side, and since his arm had lost all feeling about four hours previously, he saw no need to move from what was, if he was honest, a very enjoyable position. He was aware of being still slightly damp, but Sherlock's body was warm and comforting to snuggle against. And since the detective had a long arm around John's shoulders, and showed no hint of wishing to withdraw it, John had decided to make the most of the opportunity.
'You do snore,' John said, trying to sound as objective as possible. 'You snore like a hog.'
'Like a whole herd of hogs.'
Sherlock wriggled down the leather upholstery so that he could rest his cheek against John's head.
'Utter, utter rubbish. And you know it.'
He nuzzled his snub nose into John's hair and snuffled as if he was hunting truffles.
'You smell of school swimming lessons,' he said. 'And brick dust.'
'Well, we did rather blow the bloody building up.'
'Not we,' the Great Detective corrected. 'He. Moriarty. Be precise, John. Your imprecision is the major barrier to your utilising what is clearly an excellent, if limited, mind.'
'I can't be precise when my skull feels like an elephant defecated in it,' John huffed. 'But thank you for the compliment. I think.'
Sherlock was quiet for a little while. Then he said, softly, 'do you feel very dreadful?'
John's breath caught in his throat, and stuck there, as if reluctant to move for fear of disturbing this new, tender version of the irascible, insufferable genius to whom he had become so close. He almost couldn't believe what he had heard. He managed to force himself to turn his head a little, and found he was looking up into Sherlock's worried, grey-blue eyes.
'A bit crap,' he said, trying to sound nonchalant about what they both knew was a lie.
'You must have borne the brunt of the blast,' Sherlock said, and the moment evaporated. 'You were above me when we hit the water, so the shock wave would have reached you by that point.'
'And you were already submerged,' John said, the memory coming back.
'You threw me in first,' Sherlock agreed. And pulled John infinitesimally closer. 'I appreciate the gesture.'
And they lay there, knotted together, silently contemplating the instinctive action that had saved both their lives.
John burrowed his head into Sherlock's shoulder.
'I should have realised you were the cuddly type,' Sherlock observed after a while.
'Why?' John's voice was muffled by the now wrecked tweed of the overcoat's mammoth collar.
'You just look like you would be.'
'And what does the so-called cuddly type look like, Mr Know it all?'
'You mean apart from looking like you?'
'Be precise, genius.'
'Well, sort of-' Sherlock was blushing slightly. 'Soft. And cuddly.'
'Teddy-bear sort of thing.'
'You do talk bollocks sometimes, Sherlock.'
'Well, contrary to popular opinion, I am actually part of the human race and it goes with the territory.' He grinned again, and John thought, I really do like it when he does that.
Then Sherlock was examining him.
'Can I ask you something?'
'Yep. So long as you don't expect me to be precise.'
'Given the whole elephant dung on the brain thing?'
'This cuddling business.'
'Well, it seems to me to have merits. Do you think we could do it more often?'
John squirmed until he managed to prop himself up on one elbow and look down on Sherlock. There was an expression on those strange features that for a moment he couldn't place. His brain was definitely on a go-slow. Then it came to him. Sherlock was looking coy. Perhaps even embarrassed.
'I think it could be arranged,' he said. And Sherlock beamed.
The noise that woke Sherlock that night was like nothing he had ever heard in his life. He was a brave man, not inclined to a belief in the supernatural, but if you had asked him the moment those terrifying shrieks started, he would have told you with absolute certainty that he believed in every kind of demon going...
Tomorrow we journey into John's Heart of Darkness…