A/n: One of a couple Johnlock things I'm working on. It's been awhile.
Warnings: Fluff, angst, mental illness, and kissing.
Disclaimer: Sherlock and its characters belong to BBC and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I'm just borrowing them for my own sick fantasies.
John couldn't remember exactly how long it was after Sherlock Holmes died that he finally went into the detective's room. A lot of the first year after his death was a haze for John. After the death came the hours of questioning, trying to hold himself together while defending his best friend's name. Then there was the whole month before the first anniversary that he didn't leave the flat; he just sat in Sherlock's chair and stared at the floor until night fell. All the time in between, John spent in a mixture of grief, denial, and numbness. It might've been six months after the second anniversary, that he finally got the nerve to enter the room down the hall. John had limped in, the room smelling so strongly of him that he couldn't breathe for a few moments. He sat on the bed and stayed so long, he ended up falling asleep there. After that, he spent most of his time exploring the room.
One could argue that a bedroom was nothing that could be explored for more than a day, but this wasn't any normal bedroom. Sherlock Holmes is – no – was not normal.
The first place he poked around in was the man's nightstand. Wind-up alarm clock (which had long since stopped ticking), a lamp with a dead bulb, and a small hunting knife. The knife seemed to be very old, the handle wrapped in animal skin and a small brown feather tied to the hilt. It intrigued John. He had never seen it before, which led him to believe that it was something sentimental. Sherlock would've argued that had he been there. Sherlock and sentiment didn't belong in the same sentence, yet here sat an old knife that stayed by him while he had slept. If that wasn't sentiment, John didn't know what was.
The drawer of the nightstand was even more intriguing. A small, leather book tied shut, full of numbers. Literally full of numbers. Every single open space on every single page contained numbers. Even the inside covers. Some were high-lighted, some were grouped together by a red-penned circle. John tried to find a pattern to it, but he couldn't. And everything about it screamed Sherlock to the point that he had to leave the room for a while. Below the book sat several newspaper clippings from various years. A few stuck out, like the one about Carl Powers drowning in a swimming pool and one about an unidentified man found dead on a the bank of Oconaluftee River in Cherokee, North Carolina. Parts of the article were scribbled out while loopy, messy handwriting (undeniably Sherlock's) was inked in the margins, full of dates, numbers, and almost unintelligible notes. From what John could make of the clipping, the man was shot three times, then dumped into the river. In his pockets were a key to a hotel room and a picture of two little boys, their faces too eroded by the water to determine who they were.
Also in the drawer was a dark blue folder, full of letters, some written in very feminine cursive, others written in sporadic, broken print. The neat, easily-readable letters were always addressed, "To you," and signed by a Violet Sherrinford. The messy letters were also addressed, "To you," but signed by…John squinted at the scribble. He could make out an S…maybe an I and a G, and then a Holmes. He scanned the letters, but they held nothing more than overly romantic, slightly outdated ramblings.
Over the next few days, his exploring branched out to the dresser, which held more books than clothes. The books were ancient and nearly falling to pieces. Little scraps of paper were tucked into the pages, covered in Sherlock's handwriting, going on about sea currents and the sewage system beneath London. The clothes that were folded into the dresser were all dark and smelled even more like Sherlock than the entire room; John had to leave again for a while.
John saved the closet for last. He didn't know why, but he just somehow knew that this place would be a goldmine. Two weeks after looking through Sherlock's room, he finally opened the closet door. The small space was crammed with boxes; so crammed that three of them full of paper toppled out, knocking him over. Once he was able to gather up all the scattered pages, he started reading.
He had been right about the goldmine.
The first box was what appeared to be the notes of a therapist.
Today is my first meeting with the subject. He is eleven years old and small for his age. He is dressed neatly and well-groomed. It is clear that he does not care to be here and is being forced to attend by his mother. His expression is annoyed and apathetic. He answers few of my inquiries and crosses his arms and huffs when he doesn't care for the ones that are too personal. He is incredibly intelligent. He's obviously a child prodigy. He appears to be emotionless and blank when questioned about his troubles. I was able to gather that he detests his brother and simply tolerates his mother. He has no interest in affection and shows signs of detachment. His mother has informed me that his behavior in school and in ordinary public settings is becoming a huge issue. He has no comments on this when I ask. In his spare time he reads, plays cello, violin, and piano. He appears to have no friends or any positive relationship with another person. I will save my speculations until further examination.
John assumed that the apathetic little boy was Sherlock. It had to be. But why had he seen a therapist? Sure, he had been a little…crazy, but reading this suddenly made it a little too real for John. Was he not kidding when he told John he was a sociopath? Had he actually been diagnosed? John read on.
We've made a bit of progress today. We discussed his sociopathic conduct at his school. He has no regard for other children and lies constantly. He believes he has a far more important place in the world, but everyone is getting in his way of finding it. He has admitted to having hallucinations when he is, as he explained, "bored beyond belief". He told me that his mind "scratches itself raw" and it races so fast, he feels as though he'll come apart. It appears that without constant stimulation, his mind creates stimulation. Though he appears emotionless as he says these things, it is clear that he is fighting his own fear of it. In moments he thinks I'm focused on taking notes, his expression slips into stress and fear. At the end of the session, he asked if there were any drugs that could make his mind stop. He asked the question as though he was mildly interested, but I did not mistake the desperate look in his face. This boy is too intelligent for his own good. I will be consulting his attending physician about possible medicinal treatment.
Reading this entry awoke the sadness that John often felt when he watched Sherlock grapple with his own mind. The first time Sherlock had started shooting the wall and walking over furniture and generally acting like a madman, John had not taken it seriously. He had been sure Sherlock was just being a child about the lack of cases…but as time went on, he started to realize there was a lot more to it. The detective would pace around in an exact circle, never stumbling, never ceasing until John would tackle him to the sofa. Sherlock would start an argument with seemingly no one, but when the doctor asked about it, Sherlock had insisted he was having the argument with John. He would start stacking things compulsively. Sometimes John would come home from the pub with Stamford and there would be a tower of miscellaneous nearly touching the ceiling. John noticed that he seemed to be unaware of what he was doing, too.
More than anything, Sherlock would have fits. Either asleep or awake (mostly asleep), he would jerk as if something had hit him and look around wildly. John had always assumed it was just an idea coming to him, but now after reading these notes…had he been hallucinating? It hurt him to think that Sherlock had been living with a tortured mind and John hadn't even tried to help. But then, Sherlock never told him about any of it. He never asked for help or let it slip that he was having issues. Now desperate to understand what Sherlock had really been dealing with, he read more.
The subject spent the first thirty minutes of our meeting without speaking. I expected this, especially after hearing what had happened and seeing the state of his hair and face. Since our last meeting, he experienced a strange sort of episode. His mother described it as an outburst and breakdown combined. She said he had been sitting down for dinner when, completely without cause, he started speaking very quickly and unintelligibly. He had been especially manic that day and the days before. She tried to quiet him, but he started throwing things across the room. Before she was able to reach him and calm him, he ran outside. His mother found him five hours later in the corner of a shed, asleep. Chunks of his hair had been pulled out and there were deep scratches on his temples and forehead, all obviously self-inflicted. I asked him about the episode, and after a great deal of silence and glaring, he told me that he wanted his head to shut up. When I asked him what it was saying, he responded with, "Are you an idiot? My mind isn't talking. It's just making a lot of noise." I asked about the noise and he described it as a high-pitched screeching, like a car braking too quickly or nails on a chalkboard. He told me that sometimes his mind would go eerily silent and he would relax, however, after a while, a loud noise would sound again and his mind would "explode". When this happened, he would jolt involuntarily. He expressed that this happened quite a bit at school and that his peers made fun of him for it, which caused him to fight with them. I will be holding a meeting with him, his family, and his physician this week about adjustments to his medicine.
That explained the jolts. So Sherlock had still been having them, even in his thirties. John had to stop reading that night and pick up the next day. It distressed him, knowing that Sherlock had had such a troubled childhood. He had just expected Sherlock to be a rude, sarcastic child, much like he had been when John had known him.
John spent the next eight months, reading through the box. Some of them were the therapist's notes, but there were other things tucked in, like a letter from Mycroft, telling him how much of an arse he was. The other six boxes were Sherlock's own case summaries. John found himself going back and forth between reading out of the different boxes. When he got to the more recent cases, seeing his name written in Sherlock's sloppy, cursive writing made him sick and happy at the same time.
It was on the third anniversary of Sherlock's death, did he finally read the last thing in the closet. He had been saving it, knowing that it was the last notes that Sherlock's therapist had ever taken. John wanted to read it last, a final piece of information, to see how Sherlock detached himself from the idea of seeing a therapist and started his life as a consulting detective.
The subject is now seventeen. It has been five years since I've seen him. When he discontinued his visits with me, he had been stable and functioning, despite growing up with moderate to severe sociopathy. He has attended four different universities, never staying longer than a few months at each. He tells me he is "collecting information". I asked him what for and he said it was for his career. I questioned him on his career choice and his response was, "It's nothing someone of such a low intellect as you could understand". He appears just as snide and over-confident as his eleven- and twelve-year-old self. I learned that he is fighting with his brother at the moment and that the squabbling is turning into something more serious. He tells me that he has connections now and that his brother does too. He says that things could get dangerous if his brother doesn't "back off". He wouldn't answer any more of my questions on that subject. I asked about his living situation. He lives in a little flat in London now, studying and living off the money his father (who was murdered eleven years ago) left him. His mother died last year, though he seems unaffected by it. She passed due to heart failure. I asked him if he missed her and he wouldn't reply. I asked why he agreed to come back for this session that his brother had apparently arranged. He said, "I'm playing his little game". After our meeting, I contacted his brother. He assured me that it was just a petty feud going on between them and that the subject was simply being melodramatic.
There was a loud knock at the door of the flat, making him drop the file in surprise. It had been dead silent so the noise was quite jarring. He sighed, knowing it was Mycroft (he had a key to the front door by now) stopping by to check up on him. He put the last file in the box, shoved it into the closet, and struggled to stand. As he limped his way out of the room, he felt a little snag in his chest, a pain he felt so often, he should be used to it by now. Since Sherlock died, that's all he ever felt anymore. Hope was dwindling.
As he exited the room, watching the wood floor in front of him and preparing himself to face Sherlock's brother, he didn't notice someone standing in front of him until he saw the shadow on the floor. Something in his stomach lurched, though he didn't know why. Slowly, his eyes followed the shadow across the floor, to a pair of shoes – those shoes he had tripped over a thousand times – and up the incredibly thin shape, to a face. That face. His face.
His head spun and he nearly fell over. Because he knew and didn't know this was coming. He felt like he had been waiting and mourning for the past three years and now it was finally coming to a head. Those eyes like polar ice. His skin was paler than normal, cheekbones more prominent, dark circles under his eyes. But that smile. It was one of those real smiles that John had only seen a handful of times and in his dreams for the past three years. Stupid, idiotic Sherlock, standing there, alive, just smiling. John wanted to punch him, but naturally, he instead did fall over, his poor body just giving out.
Sherlock caught him, his deep voice an echo. "John!"
Long arms and fingers wrapped around him, keeping him from the ground. The moment he felt them, he couldn't help but clutch the detective's jacket, glaring up at him even though seeing this man was the best thing that had ever happened to him. "You horrible, bloody bastard," he growled.
"I know," he said. His expression held a deep kind of remorse. More sad and real than John had ever seen it. "I'm sorry. John, I'm so sorry."
John could feel the emotion creeping up his throat as his mind froze and raced at the same time, disjointed and unclear, but undeniably happy. He didn't want to cry because he was a soldier, so he pulled that stupid man close, wrapped his arms around him, and just bit his lip. John didn't care what Sherlock had to say about that, either. He didn't expect the hug to be returned, but it was. Wholeheartedly, actually. It warmed John up, from the top of his head to the floor. His best friend was back. He had always known, deep down under all the hurt, that he would be coming back. That's why nothing had moved and John had stayed. He knew that now.
"Why?" he asked, voice rough.
"I had to." Sherlock's voice was in his ear.
"People were going to kill you. Moriarty had arranged it so you would be killed if I didn't die. Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, as well." He let out a sigh. "But mostly you."
John's stomach did an odd flip at this, but he ignored it. "How did you do it?"
"Just a magic trick," Sherlock whispered. "Don't you remember?"
"You got hit by a cyclist, one I hired. You were drugged. You were disoriented. You wouldn't have noticed the garbage truck pulling away or how conveniently quick the paramedics showed up. The body was taken away too quickly for you to really notice, John. And I'm sorry I had to do that to you."
"You're such a horrible genius, Sherlock," John sputtered, holding on tighter, the emotion threatening to spill. "Horrible."
Sherlock held on tight, holding him together, holding them both together. Then, eventually, they both let go. They stood there, taking in one another.
"You can't walk again," Sherlock said after a moment of quiet.
"And you look like you haven't slept or eaten in three years," John replied.
"So do you," Sherlock shot right back.
John sighed. He had lost quite a bit of weight since Sherlock's death…but the detective still looked worse in his opinion.
"Did you believe me?"
John blinked, getting lost in those light eyes. "That you had lied?" Sherlock nodded. "Of course not."
The detective smiled again, lighting up the dim, decently dusty flat. But he still looked tired and ready to drop. John nudged him towards the sofa, which he dropped into immediately. He watched John as he limped his way to the kitchen to make some tea; it made him a little self-conscious. He wondered if Sherlock was somehow disappointed in him for letting his mind trick him again. Or maybe it made Sherlock even more guilty. Part of him hoped it did. Regardless of the reason, the man still left a gigantic, gaping hole in John's chest. It was going to take a lot of time for it to fill itself back in again. When he came back with some tea (just how Sherlock always liked it), he was dozing, head leaned back against the cushions, cheekbones sharper than they'd ever been.
"You should drink this and then go to bed, Sherlock," John said, marveling at the way the other man's name felt in his mouth after so long of the word being forbidden.
"Where's Mrs. Hudson?" Sherlock asked, sitting up to drink and completely dodging the suggestion. Same old Sherlock.
"On holiday." He sat down next to the man, feeling exhausted. "I'm surprised you didn't know."
"My destination was up here, not to her flat," Sherlock said as though it were obvious. John's stomach did that weird flip again.
"It's probably a good thing she isn't here right now. I don't think I could take all the screaming and fussing." John rubbed his eyes, feeling exhaustion seeping into his bones. The shock of Sherlock coming back to life had immediately drained him. He hadn't been sleeping well for the past three years; maybe he would tonight.
Sherlock noticed this. "You haven't been sleeping."
"Of course I have or I'd be dead."
The conversation took a turn John hadn't expected. Like always, he stared at the detective and blinked in confusion. "Why do you keep saying that?"
Sherlock gave him a piercing stare, then sighed, leaning back and focusing on the wall. "Because I've caused you pain. I didn't want to leave…but losing you wasn't an option. Sure, what I did was clever, but I…honestly didn't think it would affect you this deeply."
"Sherlock, you were," he paused, "– are my best friend. How could you possibly think your death wouldn't affect me?" John gave him in incredulous look.
He broke his gaze from the wall and focused on John, his eyes full of something he couldn't read. "I was hoping to make you hate me. That way it would be easier."
"Sherlock. You're an idiot. That wouldn't have made it easier. That would've made it harder. You don't understand emotions, do you?"
He smirked. "No, I don't understand them entirely, but I know I missed you."
What he said made John's heart sputter a bit. Was that sentiment? Honesty? Sherlock was never this…vulnerable. Never this open. What was spurring this on? Sherlock read his mind like he always did.
"You're wondering why I'm being so open and sentimental, aren't you?" He raised his eyebrows. "It should be obvious."
"Like always, Sherlock, it's really not to anyone else but you."
He sat up, turning towards John, eyes intense as if he had just figured out the missing piece of an exceptionally complex puzzle. "John, you're extraordinarily important to me. I care about you, I trust you, I rely on you. I don't care, trust, or rely on people. But I do with you. I need you around to keep me sane. I need you around to keep me from getting myself killed. I should've never left, but I couldn't stay. I faked my death for you. Because I can't lose you. And I'm sure you'll be quite amused to know that it took me three years to finally figure that out."
John sat there, stunned. Had Sherlock really just said all of that? This was not him. This was just not him. Sherlock Holmes did not say things like this. He just didn't. John gaped, unable to control his expression. Sherlock looked…satisfied. "Okay. This is obviously some weird dream I'm having." He shook his head, ruffling his hair. "Because there's really no way you're sitting here, alive, and actually saying sentimental things. You hate sentiment."
"I can assure you you're not dreaming. And hate isn't the right term, John," Sherlock said. "I dislike it. Because it's usually useless."
"So how is it useful now, if I'm not dreaming?"
"Because it serves a purpose."
"And that is?" John was getting tired of speaking in vague riddles. Sherlock loved making his head spin, but he wasn't in the mood after all the spinning the blasted man had already caused.
"Well…" Sherlock frowned a bit, as if deciding something. The way his eyes were probing John's was unnerving, which was really just an understatement. John would've squirmed if he weren't locked in place by that gaze. An insanely long second passed in silence as he tried to decide if he should get up and leave now or- "this," Sherlock finished.
Before John could even conceive the thought of movement, Sherlock leaned in and brushed his lips against the doctor's, lingering there in a way that made him immediately breathless. His mind went blank and his heart took a very quick trip to his throat. What, was all he could think. What. What. What was happening?
Sherlock moved away as John's brain shuddered back into working order. The detective leaned back and watched John, observing him. The doctor sat there, just staring. It wasn't gaping, but it wasn't like watching telly, either. He was trying to catch back up with everything, but then weird, hot and cold emotions took over and he sat there, fighting with himself.
Eventually, he found words. "Sherlock…you…you can't just come back to life and…kiss me…after being dead for three years. That's…that's just horribly confusing. You understand that, right?"
Sherlock held on to the stare for a few more seconds, but released John from the look and sighed. "I do."
They sat in an odd silence, John trying to find something to say or the right way to ask what the hell had just happened. Maybe he should really just be asking himself why he was completely and totally…was he happy?...about what had happened. This was too much, too quickly. He needed time to think through this. Sleep would probably help, too. However, Sherlock suddenly burst into movement, making John jump a bit.
"Come on," he said, voice authoritative, like when he was telling John to stay in the cab and look for the other lead during a case. He reached down and wrapped his hand around John's wrist, pulling him up.
"What are you-?"
John glared at him. Sherlock pulled him along, tugging him towards – wait – his bedroom. John's mind put the brakes on. He put the brakes on. "Sherlock, wait. Where – what are you doing?"
"John, don't make this complicated. There are too many complicated things already. I'm tired, you're tired, I've missed you, you have a limp, and your bedroom is upstairs."
"You've been sleeping in my room anyway."
John clamped his mouth shut, fighting off a very uncharacteristic blush. How could he argue now? Of course Sherlock would notice that. He obviously wasn't mad though; there was a slight smirk on his face, in fact, when he glanced back, pulling him towards the bedroom again. John didn't know what else to say and part of him didn't want to object anymore. He was tired and he'd missed Sherlock, too.
They entered the room, Sherlock still holding his wrist. He glanced around and then said, "I see you've been snooping."
"It's not snooping when the person is supposed to be dead," John grumbled. Sherlock let him go, let his coat fall to the floor, tugged off his scarf and his shoes. He literally flopped onto the bed, a motion that John had always found endearing for some reason. Sherlock would only act this way around him. And Sherlock had now acknowledged that. What did that mean?
"Well, I'm not dead, so it's snooping." Sherlock said this with a smile, though. It made John's stomach flip again that Sherlock didn't seem to mind him knowing about the detective's life and secrets.
"As many times as you snooped in my laptop, let's just call it even."
"Get in the bed, John."
John looked down at him, wondering if he should just walk back out. I mean, let's face it. It would be a whole lot easier if I did that, now wouldn't it? But…he didn't. He sighed, giving the groggy detective an exasperated look. He shrugged out of his dressing gown, let his cane clatter to the floor, and fell a little more gracefully onto the bed. Sherlock smirked sleepily at this. He yanked the covers over them and silence fell. It was…incredibly comfortable, too.
"Find anything interesting?"
John looked over at him; the dark-haired man was nuzzled into his pillow, eyes closed but still smirking a bit. "I suppose," he muttered. Even if Sherlock was okay with John knowing about…things, he didn't know how to possibly brooch the subject.
John gave a loud sigh. "Stop rubbing it in, Sherlock."
"Rubbing what in?" The man cracked open a blue eye.
"The fact that I looked around your room."
"I'm not," Sherlock said, sleepy and indignant. "I want to know what you think."
"What you found in my closet, John," the detective said, exasperated.
So, it looked like John wouldn't have to brooch the topic; Sherlock was definitely taking care of that. It was apparently a priority, too, the way he was eyeing John now. Why was that? He rolled onto his side so he could see the brunette fully. "I would ask why you've never mentioned any of that before, but then there's a lot of things you don't mention because you don't think they're important, so I'm not going to bother."
"But you think it's important?"
Oh. The answer hit him. Sherlock was worried. He was worried that being an actual Sociopath bothered John. He was actually worried about that. The overly detached look on the detective's face just reinforced John's new assumption. He couldn't help but smile at this. Regardless of how seemingly out-of-character it was for Sherlock to be this sentimental…he would only be like this around the doctor. He would only be vulnerable around him.
It didn't matter if Sherlock was a Sociopath, a Psychopath, or just an asshole. John didn't care.
"Sherlock," he said, shaking his head. "Do you really think I'd still be here if that bothered me?"
The look on Sherlock's face was exposed and unsure. He had just realized that John had realized what he was worried about; it was spelled out on his face. It was a sweet sight to see, too. Very rarely – or ever – did John catch Sherlock off-guard like this. He was half tempted to milk it, but it waited silently for Sherlock to speak. After a few moments, the man shrugged, looking slightly annoyed but mostly amused. "Shut up, John."
John just grinned.
Sherlock glanced at him for a second, looked away pointedly, but then looked again. Like he was trying not to look. Finally, he sighed in his I'm bored, John manner. "Stop grinning at me and come here."
John would've hesitated, but his body had other plans. He scooted forwards until he was inches away from the detective. Nearly eye to eye, nose to nose. He froze as Sherlock brought his left hand up to his head, finding the patch of white hair that had developed above his right ear after the fall. It blended in so well that most people didn't notice it…but of course Sherlock would. His eyes, that polar ice seemed to melt back to midday sky and that stare wasn't so piercing anymore.
John initiated this. He closed the distance before Sherlock's eyes could pin him again. Their lips touched and Sherlock's fingers threaded through the white hair as if he were erasing it. John's hands found a ribcage – far more pronounced than he was comfortable with – and tugged the man closer. Soft contact was made and the detective's arms found their way around John's neck, holding on with a tightness that mirrored the coiling excitement in John's stomach. Sherlock was warm and soft and careful, the exact opposite of the prickly Sherlock that everyone else knew.
It really didn't surprise John that he was a fantastic kisser. Even with questionable experience, the man was making him quite breathless. Long fingers were working their way under his shirt, sliding past his skin and gripping his waist in a way that made John shiver. When Sherlock pulled away for air, John took the opportunity to explore that long, pale neck that had been tempting him for far too long now. Sherlock's fingers tightened considerably as John bit and licked at this neck. There was a low purr coming from the detective, the sound vibrating against John's lips.
With all the warmth and despite the excitement, exhaustion settled back into John. The moment he pulled away, Sherlock pushed him flat on his back and nuzzled – wait, nuzzled? – into his chest. John froze for a minute, his thoughts catching back up with him. He had just snogged Sherlock Holmes. In his bed, too. And now said man was nuzzling into his chest like a cat.
Well, it's not like he was really going to complain at this point…
He brought his arms around Sherlock, pulling him closer and burying his face in that soft, black hair. "Thank you, Sherlock."
"For?" he asked, sounding groggy and happy, his breath on John's neck.
He felt Sherlock's lips pull into a smile. "My pleasure."
First oneshot in a while. I have so many of them close to being completed it's disgusting. This one made it to the end, though. As always, thanks to Toby for cheering me on. She brings out the worst (fangirl) in me, I swear.
Let me know what you think. If you see any mistakes, don't hesitate to point them out. I'm terrible at proof-reading my own material. Thanks for reading.