Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock. I will most likely never own it, and I'm glad that I do not. It would be a mess in my hands.
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Warnings: Drug use, mentions of suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Author's note: A slightly AU version of how the duo met. I apologise for the lack of direction.
It started the night John had his gun to his temple, tears in his eyes but never spilling forth and his entire body shivering with anticipation. The music drifted in through the paper thin walls and for a moment the pain subsided. John had lowered the gun so that he could better listen to the violin, expertly manipulated to sound like a dream.
John didn't fire his gun that night. He didn't fire his gun ever. He listened to the music, instead.
He became obsessed with the music, the violin that saved his life.
Every night he'd listen, eagerly awaiting the addictive notes. Sometimes the songs were sad, sometimes they were exciting, but they were always beautiful.
The songs blessed him sporadically. Sometimes John was lulled to sleep by the music, sometimes he was coaxed awake with it, but the sound of the violin was never unwanted.
It had been a little over a month since John had heard the first of many notes. He was quietly exiting his flat, on his way to the surgery where he worked unhappily. Just as he was locking the door, the gentle notes drifted from the door opposite him. Today, they were quiet, shy, almost shaking. John stared at the door. 221b.
He felt his breath catch as his body walked forward without his permission and his hand curled into a fist and rapped on the door with shaking force.
He was so desperate to meet the musician of the music that had possessed his mind.
The door didn't open and the music didn't stop, but he had to see. He had to put a face to the music.
He knocked again, louder, more forceful.
The music screeched to a stop.
John forgot when he'd stopped breathing, but he realised that the breath he held would not release.
He noticed the shadow at the crack in the door and he felt his heart thump in his chest as if it were trying to escape.
Finally, the door creaked open and a chain obscured the long, hallowed face of a slight, pale man. John stared at the greasy, curly, midnight-black hair that framed the man's features, and the skeletal fingers that curled around the edge of the door.
"I apologise." The man rasped, finally. John found he could not speak but he gained control of his head enough to shake it to and fro. A raised eyebrow, then a loud snort, then a slam of a door and John found his voice again, just enough to whisper "wait."
The man had not heard, and the music did not continue.
Sighing, John slunk away, rubbing his temple idly, trying to evaluate the truly awful feeling that rushed over him.
When John returned that evening, the music had returned but it seemed distant and reserved and John could not help but feel that it was his fault. So he knocked once again.
It was as if he could not stop himself, but he felt more composed now that he knew the face of his musician.
The music stopped and heavy footsteps could be heard before the door was opened again. "Good lord." the man murmured, giving John a truly irritated look. "I'll keep it down."
John shook his head again. "Please, keep playing."
The man's eyes widened, then averted towards the floor, but he did not recede back into his flat.
"Please, your music is beautiful." John couldn't think of anything better to say, so he started to step back towards his own flat.
"Would you like to come in?"
The invitation was surprising, but suddenly John could feel his heart thump against his chest again. He looked back, evaluating the blank expression on his musician's face. It would be nice to put a name to the face to the music.
"Uh, alright." He said, eyebrows knitting together as he turned back. He watched the door close, listened to the sliding of the lock then was ushered in hurriedly before the door was shut and locked with haste, that of which made John rather nervous.
Perhaps he had made the wrong decision. His doubts only intensified as he glanced around the dimly lit sitting room, the furniture looking brand new and alienated amongst the piles of unopened moving boxes.
Then he saw it. The violin. It was resting on the plush red velvet seat, the wood polished and beautiful, the bow strings taut.
The words broke through John's reverie, his body jerking in reaction. "Excuse me?" He blinked at the man who looked utterly emotionless.
"My name. Detective Sherlock Holmes."
Interesting name, even more interesting occupation.
"Detective?" John questioned.
"Private eye." The words bleak, uninterested. Sherlock turned his attention towards the doctor from what what looked like a manila folder. "How about you?"
"Doctor." John answered absentmindedly.
"I meant name."
Glancing up, the doctor blinked rapidly at his host. "John Watson." He answered, finally, a tiny smile playing at his lips.
Sherlock nodded slowly. "So, you like my music."
"More than you can understand." Was the first response that fell from John's lips, before he could control himself.
Sherlock blinked away his shock. "Alright, then. Thank you, I suppose."
The stiff nod was accompanied by an embarrassed blush spreading over John's cheeks.
This time, Sherlock was smirking. "Out of curiosity, Afghanistan or Iraq?"
John spent three hours in Sherlock's flat, allowing himself to be worked out by the detective and making his own findings. He found out that Sherlock worked with the Yard on particularly difficult cases; the man was a self-proclaimed genius and he wasn't a professional violinist, but he had once aspired to be.
Sherlock deducted that John had served in the military, that he had been shot and was currently home trying to live off of his meager wages as a general practitioner plus his army pension, that he had a psychosomatic limp that had been bothering him horrendously before the music had started, after which the pain subsided and he'd been relying on his cane less and less. Sherlock had deducted what he'd eaten for lunch and that he had treated a man with a nosebleed that day.
Sherlock had not deducted the near suicide attempt, thank God.
By the time John returned to his flat, he'd been through three cups of tea and felt closer to Sherlock than he had anyone for quite a lot of time, even that Sarah girl he'd tried dating for a while. It seemed that Sherlock almost had a spell over him.
It was enthralling.
That night, John was put to sleep by the gentle playing of a violin.
It went on like this for some time. Nearly a month of the music and the occasional visit to Sherlock's flat and many cups of tea shared over conversation that shouldn't be pleasant but somehow was some of the best John could remember.
One morning, though, the music hadn't woken him up like it had for weeks. He didn't see Sherlock on his way to work and he didn't see or hear the man when he returned. There was at least a somewhat regular acknowledgement of the detective's existence, whether in music or words.
So John knocked.
And there was no response.
John knocked harder.
John realised that Sherlock was a private detective and was most likely gone on a case. Pinching the bridge of his nose, the doctor wondered what had gotten into him. This sort of reliance on someone was certainly not healthy.
John shuffled back into his flat, duly disappointed with himself for being so ridiculous and obsessive.
The buried anxiety resurfaced when the music never began that evening and did not greet him the following morning. He found himself fretting more than he considered to be rational. Still, as he exited his flat he crossed easily across the hallway as he felt he'd done a million times over and knocked sharply on the door.
When nothing happened, John felt his heart start to race, and not in the pleasant thumping that he felt almost singularly at the doorstep of 221b, but in a way that warned him of danger, that told him that something most definitely horrible had happened.
John tried to open the door and found it locked. Frustrated, he let out an angry noise, banging on the door once again, just in case.
"Ye ain't gettin' t'im anytime soon." A rough, gravely voice informed him. Glancing towards the source of the voice, John noticed an overweight woman with her long, mousy brown hair tied into a messy bun, her dressing gown hanging loosely off of her curves, leaning against the door way of the flat beside 221b. "And why's that?" John insisted, feeling defensive at the supposed myriad of Sherlock-related knowledge that this anonymous woman possessed.
The woman smirked, taking a drag of the cigarette that John had only just noticed. "'E's on'a binge." She relayed proudly, as if she were the only possessor of this information which, perhaps, she was. "What do you mean?" John asked, but he could feel his stomach sink because he was sure he knew.
"Coke. Loves t'e stuff. Bought from'me once. 'E's real quiet, bu' I s'pose tha's jus' th' nature of 'is work."
John was rubbing his temple absently, his eyes cast to the floor. "Nature of his work?" He echoed, finally looking back up to the woman. She only smirked and shrugged. "Tol' me 'e needs'a s'imu'lan' or sommit. Needs'ta keep 'is brain active durin' a partic'ly sticky case, 'e said."
There was little John could ask, but he wanted to know it all. He wanted to know why cocaine, he wanted to know why now and he wanted to know why this goddamned woman knew it all when he knew nothing.
"Thank you." Was all he said as he slumped away, defeated by his uselessness.
He stayed behind at the surgery for an hour and a half longer than he needed, just shuffling papers about. He didn't want to face that door and the hopelessness behind it. He didn't want to hear the music, shaky and distant as it had the evening he had met the brilliant man, probably coming down from a binge that John couldn't understand.
He'd mentioned a complicated case he'd been working on. One would need brain power and lots of it if they were to solve it, and it seemed that Sherlock had chosen something to make himself something similar to superhuman.
Something that was slowly tearing him apart.
Maybe that's what he wanted.
When John walked past the door - his door - he stopped and looked for a moment. He felt an apprehension, as if something was telling him that walking on by would be a mistake, but he shook it away, ignoring the awful feeling in the pit of his stomach that gnawed at him. It wasn't his problem. It wasn't his issue to deal with. He kept telling himself this, and yet it didn't help the bad taste in his mouth.
He woke up to the violin and it calmed him down. It was tired, again, but at least this time it sounded sane. John picked himself up and off his bed with surprising ease, the idea of going to visit Sherlock planted firmly in his mind before he could even debate it. He could at least do something.
In the flat opposite, Sherlock was staring wistfully out of the window. His body felt empty. His veins had traces of the drug left, but for the most part he'd worked it out of his system and the high was barely a blip at this point. The honest truth was that, without it, he was so completely and utterly bored.
So bored, that he would literally do anything to escape the feeling of never ending nothingness. He'd had a rope around his neck before, but a call about a case had lifted it away. He hadn't had a case in weeks, however, and the boredom was getting to a breaking point.
He had to do something.
Suddenly, there was a knock at his door. The same one that had been rapping out the same rhythm for the past several weeks. John.
Placing his violin on the velvet seat delicately, rushing to scatter the vials and the syringe and made the place look as undisturbed as he could in the few seconds he had, but it was worth it. Even the idea of John made him forget about the boredom, at least somewhat.
He flung the door open and there he stood, a look of mild surprise on his face. "John." Sherlock sighed. Sighing like a lovestruck teenager. How much more pathetic could he get? He was ashamed in how much he relied on John's presence.
The doctor inspected the man in the doorway for a moment, his hand lifting half way and then descending again. "How are you feeling?" He asked, finally allowing a gentle smile. Sherlock just shook his head, allowing a small smile. "I'm doing well, John."
He didn't sound as sincere as he'd hoped, but it was surprisingly hard to lie to John.
"Well, I should be off." John shuffled awkwardly for a moment, obviously debating something. "Let me give you my number, in case you need to talk or sommat."
Nervously, the doctor pulled a pen from his pants pocket and searched desperately for something to write on, his face falling a bit before Sherlock thrust his arm out, making quite sure it was not the one that was littered with puncture wounds. John raised an eyebrow before scrawling a number in very tidy, tight strokes.
"Alright, bye Sherlock. Don't be a stranger." He nodded towards the ink on Sherlock's skin.
Sherlock nodded, trying to ignore the tingling sensation spreading all through his arm and down to his fingertips. "Goodbye, John."
Suddenly the door was closed and Sherlock was bored again.
John arrived home hours later to a song. It wasn't a song he recognised (Sherlock had a habit of playing the same few songs but manipulating them to accommodate his mood) but it was beautiful, more beautiful than any other song he'd heard Sherlock play before. It was fast and cheerful in some places before calming down into something that made your heart flutter, music that spoke of affection, of deep caring.
It was nothing like Sherlock had ever played before.
However, John didn't knock on the door like he usually did. He slid to sit on the floor just outside and listened. Suddenly, the music paused mid-note for several moments before returning to playing. It was fascinating but after a few of these pauses John realised that Sherlock was composing a song. John didn't knock on Sherlock's door that night. He just sat and he listened to this melody as it drifted through the paper-thin walls. Eventually he quietly returned to his flat and fell asleep to the rising and falling of the song.
The next day was John's day off. He felt bored and useless again and without the violin (a silence that he'd awoken to in the late morning) his mood was rapidly declining. It wasn't to the gun-to-head point that he hoped never to reach again, but it was at the heavy-limbs-unwillingness-to-move point in which he laid in his bed feeling sorry for himself.
Finally, taking in a deep sigh, he forced himself into a sitting position, dead set on making himself some tea and perhaps bringing some over to his violinist and coax him into playing again.
Making tea took approximately twenty five minutes. John stared at the two mugs before him. He wondered, vaguely, why he was even bothering in the first place. It could be that Sherlock was finally sleeping (a rare feat for the violinist) or perhaps reading or doing some other mundane task that was absolutely not John's business to interrupt, but somehow his feet and hands moved of their own accord as they grabbed the mugs and walked towards the door, through it, then towards the door opposite.
He kicked the door lightly, hoping that it didn't sound too aggressive.
The response was rough and brisk.
John shifted both cups to one hand so he could open the door and move into the threshold. There he found Sherlock, leaning over his coffee table, clad in nothing but an open bathrobe and a pair of pyjama pants.
"Ah, John." The detective murmured without lifting his eyes from what looked like case files spread across the wood surface.
John moved towards the couch peering curiously at the files. "What are these for?" He asked as he handed one of the mugs over and perched himself on the armrest. Sherlock stared at the mug in his hand before moving his gaze to his companion. "Work." He answered, turning his attention back to the files in front of him as he absently sipped at the tea. Honestly, Lestrade (his in to the yard) took pity on the detective's boredom and, with the knowledge of what Sherlock does when he's bored, permitted him to work on a few of the more simple cases to pass the time.
As John lingered, inspecting the files from a distance, Sherlock found that the other man's presence whilst working wasn't bothering him at all, which was incredibly odd. He'd kicked out his own mother when she started getting nosy about cases, and yet the detective found himself happy that this man was sitting beside him, curious about his work, interested in his life. Somehow, the nosiness didn't feel like nosiness, at least not the usual kind. It was a comforting kind, the kind that made Sherlock feel pleasant and good, a feeling that seemed to come exclusively with John's presence.
So Sherlock explained his work, he allowed John's inane input and when the doctor finally left, he found himself alone again, and for some reason that mattered. Sighing, he dropped his face into his hands. He'd already worked out two of the three cases and he was sure the other wouldn't take much time after he made a few phone calls, but amazingly he felt completely uninterested in the work. He wanted John to come back. He wanted John to stay, and these thoughts surprised and scared him.
Relying on others is the absolute last thing he wanted to do.
The cases were solved before the day was over. None of them were particularly interesting or challenging, but Sherlock was bored enough that he'd put effort into solving them, not that they really needed any brainpower to solve, but the distraction was enough.
So now he was bored, oh so bored and he found himself wanting to be in the presence of John Watson once again. He pulled at his hair in frustration, not understanding this wanting. Of course, he'd never met anyone like Doctor John Watson and he wanted to know more about the man. He wanted to know how John ticked and what he thought about cases and he wanted John to investigate with him and he wanted to see John work at the surgery and he wanted and wanted and wanted and he was so angry with how much he wanted right now. So he threw himself from his chair and found the expertly hidden vial and even more expertly hidden syringe and he sprawled himself across his couch and proceeded to try to cease all of this want and all of this boredom and all of this ache in his chest.
When Sherlock awoke, he injected again with what was left. He had several thoughts during this haze of how he wished he would finally die. It was an odd, never unpleasant thought, just an intriguing one, one that he found he could not control. He wondered if taking all of the drug at once would do what he wanted, then the lazy thought of him under the caring, gloved hand of one Doctor Watson, nursing him back to health, and that made him smile, more than the death, more than the forever sleep, more than the most interesting serial murder case he could imagine. He was grinning, his back curling off the arm of the sofa, his eyes closed and his teeth glimmering in the dark of his room. His knuckles rested on the cool wood flooring and he felt it all up his arms and down to his toes and he was glad because his body felt all too warm.
Suddenly, his body spasmed and he was standing and his vision narrowed into two pinpoints and that was all he could see for what felt like hours but was probably only minutes. He glanced around the room with his pinprick vision until it dilated, focusing on the violin that was laying before him.
The violin made him feel good, much like John Watson did, but not quite the same, but the violin made him think of John Watson and that was good enough for now.
The notes felt sharp and stretched, tinny and similar to his pinprick vision, but it felt good to play. It was rapid fire screeches over the bow and he felt immersed in the ugly, beautiful sound. His eyes slid shut and his mouth parted to allow his shallow breathing as he jerked along with the music, almost dancing, almost seizing.
He couldn't even feel his fingers anymore, or his toes for that matter... or any of him, really. He felt numb all over and all he could do was keep playing. He felt suddenly very cold and his entire body was being attacked by pins and needles, starting at a point in his shoulder and spreading out to his fingertips, causing him to release his violin and send it crashing to the floor, along with his now convulsing body.
All he could register was shouts of his name and a good feeling in the pit of his stomach.
When he awoke for what must have been the hundredth time, he was laying on a bed, one he didn't recognise, but one that he found strangely comforting with its homey quilts and fluffy pillows. At the foot of the strange bed was the supposed owner; John Watson was fast asleep, torso stretched out on the bedsheets and bum firmly planted in a computer chair. Sherlock stared at the scene, trying to work everything out in his still-foggy mind, addled further by the sudden and overwhelming thought of someone cares.
Looking towards his arm, he noticed thin bandages over his punctured veins and as he sat up, a warm, damp cloth fell off of his forehead and onto his lap. The sudden movement stirred John from his rest and he slowly lifted himself onto his elbows. "Morning." He murmured, finally, eyes very blue and slightly glassy, his nose a little red and his voice weak.
Sherlock knew what crying looked like.
"Good morning." He said in his best 'I'm okay' voice, but really just succeeding in a hoarse squeak. John smiled with effort and pushed himself up, placing hands on Sherlock's shoulders and guiding him to lay back down. "I need to check your vitals." He said softly, touching and prodding and listening and getting out a stethoscope to count Sherlock's elevated heart rate.
"You're an idiot." He said, suddenly.
The detective glanced up at John, blinking rapidly in confusion, worried by the blank look and the harsh sound to the words. "Excuse me?" Sherlock responded, finally, not sounding particularly angry, mostly just surprised. John shook his head, putting away his equipment. "How could you- why on earth would you..." He brought his hands up to his face, covering it completely as his body started to shiver. Sherlock was paralysed, completely lost on what to do as the doctor lowered his hands and left the room briskly. Of course, he hadn't done what he'd done because of John or to hurt him in any way, so he had no idea why the man was so offended by the drug use. No one else had really cared all that much before. They'd been disappointed, sure, but that was the extent of concern, for the most part. Even Mycroft dealt with it in silence.
It was several minutes before John returned with two mugs of tea and a plate of food. "I would have you at a hospital right now, but whenever I mentioned it you would start screaming and flailing about and then you just cried until I took you here. You're lucky you're not the first overdose I've dealt with, and not the first I've dealt with on a personal level, either."
Sherlock listened and accepted his tea and breakfast, still slightly confused as to what John was talking about, so he asked.
John just laughed quietly. "My sister's an alcoholic. She was lucky I was around when she drank five or ten too many and she had a seizure on her and her wife's bed, basically convulsing in her own vomit. I didn't want her to have to go to rehab, so I just treated her there."
Sherlock drank the tea quietly, knowing that this was probably much harder for John then he let on and wanted to make him as happy as possible. "Where's my violin?" He asked, suddenly, knowing John liked his music.
"It got a bit smashed up when you dropped it."
John looked at Sherlock for a moment before rising from his chair and crossing the room to the computer desk where he stood for another few moments before crossing back over with the violin in his arms. It wasn't irreparable and was even playable on some level, but a peg had broken off, along with a string, and the neck was attached only by a few splinters.
"Get my bow." Sherlock said softly, putting down the tea and sitting up slowly. John rolled his eyes and retrieved the bow as well and Sherlock fit the chin rest under his jaw and pressed the neck together, playing softly as to keep from forcing it apart again, but it was still beautiful.
John's face relaxed slowly into one of pleasant confusion. "What song is this?" He asked, almost in a whisper. Sherlock just smiled softly as he skipped notes on the broken string, wincing at the out of tune, incomplete melody, but John was smiling now, and that made it worth it.
Finally, he finished all he'd written and gently rested the violin on his lap, looking over at his friend, the only one who would even bother with him during a time like this, the only one who would make him tea on a whim, the only one who made Sherlock less bored.
"John," Sherlock started, staring more holes into the polished, damaged wood of the violin. "I appreciate you."
The compliment was more than he'd given to anyone and he was surprised as it left his mouth, but relieved something else hadn't slipped through.
"You're welcome." The amusement was there again and Sherlock lifted his gaze to John's. He was so fascinating, from the way he was so easily read (so much easier that anyone else he'd encountered) but at the same time he was such a mystery in different ways, in the ways that mattered. Why would he care about Sherlock in the first place? Why would he rescue a burn-out from an OD? Why was he so fascinating?
Sherlock found himself leaning forward to further inspect the face of his companion. The worry lines and the age wrinkles and the gentle smile playing at the end of his lips. Curiously, still buzzing from the aftermath of his binge, he reached up to touch the surprisingly soft skin of John's jaw, not noticing the hitch of a breath and the involuntary lurch forward and before either of them understood what was happening, they were centimetres away and Sherlock could feel the hot breath and smell the skin and see every pore in the man's face and nothing was as beautiful, as odd and as interesting as Doctor John Watson.
Then John was kissing him. It was slow and curious, but it was there and it wasn't unpleasant. Sherlock's mind had momentarily stuttered to a yield, something that hadn't quite happened before, even when he had pumped heroin through his veins and felt like a puddle of static mass he was still thinking and he could still process thought, but it seemed that this man was more than a drug, he was an anomaly.
And then something kicked in Sherlock's brain and he remembered a long buried blip of information that told him to respond.
He haphazardly moved his mouth along with John's, trying to mirror the other man, sliding his hand from John's cheek down to the crook of his neck and it was perfect.
Well, not perfect. It was clumsy and awkward and definitely not how kissing was portrayed in the terrible sitcoms that Sherlock had subjected himself to in moments of ultimate boredom.
But somehow, it was fine, it was good, it was still the most amazing feeling he'd ever had because there was something else in the pit of his stomach that curled and twisted comfortably and a warmth like he'd never felt before, curling his fingers into the tanned skin of his doctor.
They kept experimenting and eventually John ended up resting beside Sherlock and their limbs were tangled listlessly and they were both content, as if this was the final wall between them, as if the walls had barely even been there from the beginning.