A/N-Now I wanted to try my hand at Sherlock/John proper slash. I found it rather difficult as I feel like it tends to go against their characters, but I did my best :) I hope you all enjoy this. There will likely be a sequel. Feel free to review with comments or criticisms! Thanks!
BOOM! He was running, bullets whizzing by his head. A car bomb had gone off to his left but he had to ignore it. He couldn't hear a thing, his ears ringing from the explosions and gunfire raining down on him.
The last thing John Watson ever saw was his friend pulling him down. He didn't hear the explosion, but he saw it, a flash, white hot and angry as it seared at his face. He went down, his head hitting something. Everything was so black, his leg was bleeding. He was shot.
John woke with a gasp, holding on to the railings on the hospital issued bed in the rehabilitation center where he was learning to cope with his new disabilities. His heart was pounding in his chest, his leg aching. He was stiff, sweaty, chills as though he had a fever, but he wasn't ill.
Sun came through the window, shining on his face. He could see the light, but just that. Everything else was a blur, a mash of vague shapes, occasionally colors, if they were extremely vivid. Otherwise, John Watson was blind.
He was lucky not to be disfigured, they told him, the doctors and nurses who oversaw his injuries, though he wasn't sure they were being honest about his face. He was lucky that he only lost his eyebrows, the bit of hair that stuck out from under his helmet. Oh and his vision, he lost that, too, but they kept telling him he might regain some sight. They told him that. They, the faceless ones, identified by tone, and vague blob-shaped things hovering around his bed during his check-ups.
John rubbed at his eyes, his left hand trembling. The tremor was intermittent, his therapist hinted that it was psychosomatic, like his limp, but when she'd start to imply anything he'd tell her to piss off. He was angry, mostly because she was probably right. His leg only hurt sometimes, usually when he was angry at having to be in this rehabilitation center to begin with.
They wanted him to learn to cope with his life, even if it was only temporary. John hated that idea. It made him sick to think about it. What was he supposed to do? Wander around with a white cane, a guide dog? Learn to read Braille and fill his tea using the tip of his finger to tell when his mug was full? Rely on people to point out what color shirt he had picked out that day, ignore the snickers when some cruel fellow chose something bright pink?
He had seen nothing but blackness when he first arrived. It was two surgeries and one week later that he first saw light. And at first, it was only that. Just the difference between light and dark. If someone stepped in front of the light source, he could tell.
He cried that night, after everyone had left. Maybe they were right. Maybe they weren't telling him lies, after all. Maybe, after potentially laying his life on the line in the Army, getting blown up and blinded, he might be able to move on, have a normal career. He was trained at St Bart's for god's sake, he was a doctor. It might not have been a celebrity, or a politician, nothing glamorous, but he would have been able to earn a decent wage.
Six weeks later, his eyes hit a plateau. He thought for sure he'd wake up one morning and everything would just... swim into focus, like nothing had happened at all. He thought he'd just blink a bit, clear the sleep from his eyes and oh, look at that, the Chrysanthemums are blooming, how lovely. And how he loved that shade of yellow, really he did.
His doctor told him he might need to start focusing on how to get by once they released him. He was scheduled to finish up his rehab in two weeks, and then he was out. He had no real money to speak of, his disability pension was only slightly higher than what would have been a normal discharge pension from the Army, enough to buy tea, milk, and share a flat with some equally poor, pathetic stranger. If he couldn't see, he couldn't work. He was a doctor, and a soldier, that's all he knew. What else was there?
Rubbing his face, John got out of the bed, found his dressing gown on the back of his chair where he'd left it, and shrugged it on. He didn't bother to get dressed as he rang for the nurse, letting her know he was awake and could use some tea.
"Good morning, then," the chipper woman said. To John she was a vague blob, mostly white from the uniform. He couldn't get a real sense of her, maybe dark hair, maybe that was just a shadow. To anyone who could see her, she was tall, round, a pleasant woman with dark skin, dark hair done quite nicely back in a bun to keep out of the way. Her smile was the best, very white, teeth naturally straight, and genuine.
"Is it?" John grumbled.
"Tea's on the desk here, Dr Watson," she said.
"I do wish you'd stop calling me that. I'm not a doctor anymore," John said as he made his way to the desk with a short of shuffle, sliding his feet along the floor so he didn't trip over anything he couldn't see.
The chair was turned already for him and he sat, groaning at the pain in his leg. His hands crept along the edge of the desk, he was embarrassed at how he might look, despite this nurse having taken care of him for nearly two months.
"Do you want any breakfast? I could send for something immediately."
John hated how kind she was. She was the sort of kind that just existed, not because he was injured, or seemed helpless, but just because she was that great. John hated it, because he was feeling so hateful and it wasn't fair to her. If she pitied him, he'd feel so much less awful about it.
"I'd like to go for a walk around, if that's alright. The pond, maybe?"
"I'll have an orderly take you. How about Brian, you two got on alright then, didn't you?" He could hear her smile behind the words.
"Fine, whatever," he grumbled.
"Per doctor's orders, I'm not to set out your clothes for you anymore, but if you need help, ring the bell. I'll have Brian down in about fifteen minutes."
"I'll be fine," John insisted, sounding sharper than he really wanted to, but he just couldn't help himself.
The nurse, of course, took no offense at all. She ambled off, humming a bit to herself, and John finished his tea. She'd gotten in perfect, as she did nearly every morning, and he wanted to cry because in his hate, he felt like he didn't deserve her remembering how he took his tea.
Luckily for John, most of his clothes were fairly neutral. Shirts of earthy colors, sweater vests, jumpers, trousers, jeans and jackets. He chose something that felt comfortable on, and he refused to admit that it was a small perk about this new condition of his- being that he couldn't see what he was wearing, he cared a lot less. He put his socks on, then his shoes, making sure everything was right with the tips of his fingers.
John knew there was a mirror on the wall, stuck there, which he found cruel seeing that his ward was for people recovering from accidents rendering them blind, or visually impaired, however the person wanted to call themselves. But he supposed this wing hadn't always been for the blind, and the mirror had probably been there a long time.
He'd found it two weeks prior, when he tripped and used the wall to study himself. He'd felt the smooth glass with his fingers and was angry that it was even there. He punched it hard, cracking a knuckle, but the glass didn't break. He'd earned himself two extra therapy sessions for that little stunt.
Now he reached out for it, touching the smooth glass. He pressed his face so close to the mirror that his nose flattened. He could see the vague shape of himself, dark against light, the shape of his head, all clouded, foggy by what the doctors called retinal damage and scar tissue.
Those words meant only that they'd done as much surgery as they could, and it was up to his own eyes how much they decided to work again after all this time. Six weeks and no more progress, John wasn't holding out much hope, even if they continued to feed it to him in small doses.
Fifteen minutes passed. John was sitting on his bed, his phone in his hand, the phone he could take calls on, but still couldn't work out how to make them. A lifestyle coach, as she called herself, had offered to show him the trick that other blind people used to navigate on it. She told him this particular device offered a great many features to the visually impaired. It was a great gift, she told him, very useful.
John hated it, but held onto it for some stupid reason. When Brian entered the room, John slipped it into his pocket.
"Hey I was actually going to pop by and see you, even if you didn't want to go out," Brian said.
John gave a ghost of a smile and stood up. "Just a short walk, I think."
"Are you taking your cane?" Brian asked. John heard him pull it from the post on the wall and he grimaced angrily.
"No," he said.
"Eventually you're going to have to learn how to use it, even if it's only temporary," Brian said.
John wanted to vomit every time someone said, 'even if it's only temporary.' The words were so empty and useless. No one knew, is what the words really meant. No one knew what kind of life John would be facing, so they were preparing him for the worst. It was just, no one wanted to say it aloud.
John took Brian's arm and refused to comment. Brian chatted away as they went outside, through the gates to the small recreation area. It was very green there, John could see that. He could see the looming trees, even if they were only blobs against the sky. He felt the moisture in the breeze, which meant rain.
The smell of the pond was near, mucky water and ducks. Brian led him to a bench, chatting about his girlfriend and the football match he had been watching reruns of. John only half-listened really. He liked Brian, Brian was an okay guy. He deserved a good life, but John also hated him because it wasn't fair that Brian could go home and look at his beautiful girlfriend and watch the telly and walk unassisted from a building to a bloody pond.
"You're getting a new roommate today," Brian said, his voice cutting through John's thoughts.
John looked up sharply, his eyebrows up. "Sorry? A roommate?"
"Yeah, bloke's coming in from up north, was injured on a job or something. Good timing too, with everything going on."
"What everything?" John asked.
"The suicides," Brian said. "Surely you've heard the rumors."
John sighed. "Frankly I haven't been listening to much other than what my doctors are telling me about my recovery, and to all the things my therapist knows I've been ignoring."
Brian chuckled. "Well three blokes here, in rehab, your ward, offed themselves. Took drugs, though no one's got a clue where they got them, and seeing as all three were totally blind and only just, we can't really work out how they managed to break into the dispensary and nick 'em."
"Maybe someone helped out," John said bitterly. The fact was, suicide had crossed his mind once or twice, and he hated himself a little for it. He didn't really feel sorry for those men who took their lives; in fact, he understood it.
"Well either way, Scotland Yard's been combing this place for evidence. It's unusual, these suicides, even in a rehab center like this one. The blokes, see, they didn't know each other, never even talked, at least I reckon so. They're trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. Probably why your therapist is scheduling extra sessions with you."
"So what about this new roommate?" John asked, desperate to change the topic.
"Oh well, I heard he's a bit of a weird one. Got himself injured, can't see a thing now. I talked to Donna, the receptionist, she says she saw him brought by last night and he was really tall, and a bit intense."
"So if three men have died, aren't there any other free rooms?" John asked crossly.
"I'm not in charge of room assignments, you know that," Brian said with a laugh, elbowing John in the side. "We'd best be back inside, I've got more rounds to make and you've got a coaching session, don't you?"
"I'd rather skip it," John said, but all the same, took Brian's elbow and allowed the man to escort him to the overheated, bright room where his life coach waited.
She was an obnoxious woman by the name or Mandy, her voice too high pitched for John's liking, and she sounded too young to really know what he was going through. She had some background with the visually impaired, a blind brother or something, John frankly didn't care.
He went through her motions, today's lesson being the kitchen. He listened, he felt, he smelled, he measured with his fingers, and he didn't say a word. In the end, she patted him on the shoulder and said, "If we can just get you to take up that cane, I'd say you were making real progress."
John said nothing. She took him to his room where Brian was waiting for him with the new roommate.
John could see the figures of both men, one on the second bed that had been empty these six long weeks, and Brian who was standing near the window. "Ah excellent. John Watson, this is your new roommate, Sherlock Holmes."
Sherlock Holmes. It was an odd name, ancient, if John recalled, but he liked it. He could see the man was tall, at least six foot three, and he had a mop of dark hair which contrasted with the very pale skin of his face. That was about all John saw, and he sat down on his bed with a slight groan.
"Afghanistan or Iraq?" came the deep, rumbling baritone from the other side of the room.
"Sorry?" John said.
"Afghanistan or Iraq?" he repeated.
John was shocked and confused. "Brian, did you-"
"Not a word," Brian said, his voice rich with honesty.
"Afghanistan," John stuttered. "How did you-"
"Do you have an iPhone?" Sherlock asked, though asked was putting it kindly. He spoke in short demands, no matter the question, it seemed.
"Er, yes, why?" John asked.
"May I use it? Mine's android, rubbish to me now in this state. I need to send a text."
John swallowed and then reached into his pocket to pull out his phone and he stretched it out to his new roommate. "It's right in front of you," John said after a second.
Sherlock's pale, deft hand reached out and plucked it from John's fingers. John could ear a sort of vibration coming from the phone as Sherlock's fingers moved across the glass. After a few moments, he said, "I'm handing it back now, directly from the spot I took it. Thank you."
John's hand found the phone and he took it back, slipping it into his pocket, curious about what the man texted and to whom. "You've used it before? The iPhone?"
"No," Sherlock said. "I heard about the technology, a sort of tactile system used with vibrations based on the tiles of Braille. Quite useful, if I do say so myself."
John cleared his throat, and Brian took the opportunity to say, "Well I'll leave you two. If you need anything, buzz the nurse. Check back later, okay?"
"I hate this," John said after a moment.
"Hate what?" Sherlock replied. His voice came from the window area now, and John was annoyed that he hadn't noticed Sherlock had moved.
"New roommates, strangers, don't know anything about each other, just expected to share a room like that."
"Oh I wouldn't say that," Sherlock said. "I know that you were an Army man, obviously by my question Afghanistan or Iraq. You were a doctor there, trained at St Bart's, you were injured and you're angry, you believe that your vision might return, due to the ineptitude of your doctors and their inability to give you a straight answer. You're stressed about leaving here, though you still refuse to learn any real skills, and you're terrified that you're going to end up with your brother, who is going through a painful divorce and too fond of the drink. I'd say that's enough to go on, don't you?"
"How... how could you possibly know that?" John stammered. "Who are you?"
"I'm a man who makes his living by observing," Sherlock said. "A feat posing more challenges to me now in this state, however... I make do."
"How could you possibly know all of that, Mr Holmes?"
"Please, call me Sherlock, and as for the rest, it was quite easy. I heard the nurse refer to you as Doctor Watson when I first came in, regarding my roommate. Your shuffle in your walk tells me two things. One, you have a limp, which is psychosomatic, leading me to believe that you were injured in battle, likely shot and possibly blasted by a bomb, which would explain your visual injuries. The only real place for a decent doctor to get any training is St Bart's, and the stress shows in the intermittent tremor of your left hand, noticeable when you handed over the phone. I'd say you were stressed about leaving, making sense because you'll be living on disability pension which won't pay for much. You believe your vision will return by the way you refuse to learn any coping methods for visual impairment, including a white cane, which you prefer to shuffle your feet when you walk to prevent tripping. You're terrified to end up with your brother, and who wouldn't be, a blind man living with a drunk."
"How could you possibly know about the drinking? And the divorce?" John asked, his voice amazed and quiet.
Sherlock chuckled a little. "Lucky guess, and a good one at that. The phone you have, covered in dents and scratches, easy to feel with the tips of the fingers. On a disability pension, a person such as yourself wouldn't treat such a luxury item with such disregard, so it's a gift. There was an engraving on the back, my fingers traced out Harry, from Clara. Harry tells me brother, and Clara, must be a wife, divorcing soon, as this device is less than six months old and he's just given it away. As for the drinking? Just on the side, where one goes to plug it in, there are marks there, as though one was too drunk to get the power cord in properly the first time."
"My God," John breathed. "You are... amazing."
"You think so?"
"Of course I do. You have to know that you're amazing."
"That's not usually what people say," Sherlock said in a guarded tone.
"What do they usually say?"
John had to laugh, despite himself, and honestly it felt a little good. "I'm impressed."
"Did I get anything wrong?"
"I was a doctor, my eyes were injured by a bomb, and as I fell I got shot. They tell me daily that my injuries may be temporary. If they are, I can get back to work. If not, I don't know what I'm going to do. Harry is indeed a drunk and as for Harry and Clara, they're getting a divorce."
"Right about everything?" Sherlock asked, his smile in his voice.
"Harry is short for Harriet," John said.
"Damn! Harry is your sister! It's always one thing," Sherlock said, sounding angry.
Several hours passed. Sherlock said very little, and John could find little reason to talk to him. He went to a therapy session, to tea and then to dinner. Sherlock was back in the room well after sunset, when most of the ward was asleep.
"What about you, then? How were you hurt?"
"On the job, not important," Sherlock said impatiently. "Those suicides, though, John... are you next?" The question was blunt and painful.
John sat back on the bed and shook his head. "I'm not like that, Sherlock. This... this is dreadful. The idea of a future with Braille and white canes and devices in the kitchen so I don't burn down the house... dreadful. But I'm not going to kill myself."
"I didn't think so," Sherlock said quickly.
"Three of them, though," John breathed.
"Four," Sherlock said slowly. "The police are here again. There's been a fourth."
John caught his breath, and out of the window he could see in his fog the flashing lights. "How can you tell?"
"Because I don't believe that the suicides were murders," Sherlock said, and his voice was full of glee. "I think we've got a serial killer on our hands, John!"
Just then, there was a knock on the door. A very hesitant voice called out, "Sherlock, can I have a word?"
"Have it right here, Detective Inspector," Sherlock said. John heard him rushing about the room for a few things.
"Sherlock, take it easy," the DI said. "I'm Lestrade, by the way, and I'm just going to steal your roommate for a moment."
"No you're not," Sherlock said. "Everyone else is asleep, and John's eventually going to know. He's going to be my flatmate when he's released, so we might as well have this out in front of him."
"Wait, flatmate..." John asked. "What's going on?"
"I'll explain it all later. Right now there's a dead man to visit!" Sherlock said. "New details?"
"This time there's a note," Lestrade said. "You'd better come quietly Sherlock, only one doctor and two nurses in this ward actually know about you, and we can't risk exposure."
John could feel the DI's eyes boring into him, daring John to voice an opinion. Sherlock merely waved him off. "Who's on crime scene?"
"Donovan and Anderson," Lestrade said.
"Damn it. They won't work with me. Where is this one?"
"Near the pool. Hurry up, will you, we have to move quickly and quietly so no one else wakes up."
John heard Lestrade's feet tapping back down the hall. John shifted and squinted hard through his fog to find Sherlock near the cupboard, pulling on a coat. "What's going on?"
"I work as a consultant for Scotland Yard. I assume a man like you wouldn't turn down the offer of a flatmate, so obviously when you're discharged we'll move into Baker Street straight away. Also, I'm under cover. I'm not blind, but it's deadly important that no one else figure that out. Are we clear?"
John was trembling with all of that news being shoved at him all at once. He cleared his throat twice and finally said, "Yeah, right, okay."
He could hear Sherlock getting ready, and he was angry. He was angry and jealous, and his hand was trembling again. He understood the point of an undercover job, he understood that the lie was necessary, but it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that when Sherlock wanted to see, he could just open his eyes. John... John didn't have that luxury anymore, and in this moment of anger, he had stopped kidding himself. He was blind. He wasn't getting better. These blobs of color and vague shapes silhouetted against the light, that was it.
"Why um... why did you lie?" John asked, trying to contain the sudden venom he felt towards his new roommate.
Sherlock froze in his motions. "Sorry?"
"You lied," John said. "When I asked you how you knew all of that stuff, you told me you felt things, you heard things. You, Sherlock, saw things. You lied."
John felt the space beside him on the bed sink, and he could feel the warmth radiating off Sherlock as the man sat close to him. "I didn't," Sherlock said quietly. "I heard your limp, I felt the scratches, the engraving on your mobile. I lie to get my job done, yes, but aside from telling you I'd gone blind, I haven't lied."
"But you-" John began, but stopped when Sherlock snatched up his hands and placed them on Sherlock's temples. John froze and then realized that under his sensitive fingers were bandages, thick and cumbersome. He traced the outline of them across the front of Sherlock's face, noting that there wasn't a single space in them from which the other man could see from.
"When I work, I work properly. I'm no stranger to disguise and trying to find new ways of doing things," Sherlock said. "I understand your anger and your suspicion, but I thought I'd make it clear between us, that when I deduced who you were, I used only the senses available to me. And yes, I am that good. That, John, is why the police come to me. That's why I'm here, and why most of Scotland Yard hates me."
Sherlock began to unwind his bandages, grimacing as he did so. "Call the nurse, I'm sure she won't mind bringing you some tea. I'll be back when I can, and we can discuss moving your things into Baker Street."
With that, Sherlock was gone. The room was still and quiet. The bandages lay beside John's hand, pressed against his pinky finger, but he didn't dare touch them. He wasn't sure what to make of Sherlock, honestly. He was brash, far too smart for anyone's good, he made assumptions and spoke for John, even though he was for all intents and purposes, a total stranger.
John shifted and was about to call the nurse when he heard steps again. "You were an army doctor," Sherlock said from the doorway.
John's head turned towards the door and he stood up. "I was, yes."
"So you've seen a lot of death, pain, war."
"Yes, I have," John said. He took a few, limping, tentative steps toward Sherlock's voice. "Too much, far too much."
Sherlock reached out and touched John's wrist. "Would you like to see some more?"
John felt relief, acceptance, anticipation, greed, all rush through him. "God yes," he said without even really realizing it.
Sherlock grabbed John's cane off the wall and pressed it into his hand. "You'll need to deal with that limp and carry this," he said when John tried to refuse it.
"I don't use this," John complained.
"With me you will," Sherlock said. "Fight all you want against your blindness, but my mind races, John. It moves fast and while I observe everything in the room, I won't have the patience to be your guide dog. You're welcome to my arm, but you'll need to navigate yourself."
He was blunt and honest, and it stung, but John, for the first time since he opened his eyes and saw practically nothing, accepted that. He flipped open the cane and thrust it in front of him, and within a second Sherlock was pulling him down the hall at a dashing speed.
John knew how to use the cane, he'd spent hours in therapy learning now to properly guide himself through a room full of obstacles with it, but no one had bothered to teach him how to use it while a tall man, overly excited by a suicide-possible-murder was dragging him through the hall at break-neck speed.
John's cane sort of flopped back and forth uselessly as the pair of men rushed down this corridor and that. They were outside at one point, but only for a moment before the heavy metal doors swung open. John heard hushed voices of people he could only assume were Scotland Yard.
"What are you doing here?" came the brash, stark voice of a woman that was rapidly approaching.
To John she was just a blob of grey. She was a short woman, cafe-Au-lait skin, curly hair hanging just to her shoulders. She was pretty, by typical standards, but her face was drawn in annoyance when she saw Sherlock.
"I was invited," Sherlock said briskly.
"Who's this, then?" she asked, directing her attention to John.
"A colleague," Sherlock said. "Mind getting out of my way, Donovan, I actually have work to do."
"How do you get a colleague? Look at that, he's carrying a white cane! Did he yank you out of bed against your will?" she asked John directly.
"Look I can just wait here," John said helplessly.
"No you can't," Sherlock replied, putting his hand over the hand John was using to keep Sherlock as his guide. "Donovan's just a bit tired from being up all night. Judging by the state of her knees, and the fact that she's wearing Anderson's deodorant, she was scrubbing his floors."
Donovan's eyes widened in horror and she glanced back at the man called Anderson, a tall, weedy fellow with shaggy hair and a sneer. "Oy, I don't know what you think you're implying-"
"I'm not implying anything," Sherlock said and then yanked John forward, pushing past the pair.
"Detective Inspector, your freak's here," Donovan called meanly.
"As I said earlier, they won't work with me," Sherlock said with a huff.
Their feet echoed on the pool tile as they made their way to a small area taped off. A body lay face up, the skin white and sickly, hospital gown on and soaking wet. Lestrade was standing over the body, and when he looked up to see Sherlock and John, he groaned.
"You can't drag blind men around a murder scene, Sherlock. No offense," he added for John's benefit, though he didn't sound like he meant it.
"I need an assistant," Sherlock said in a biting tone.
"A blind one?" Lestrade argued.
"He's a doctor," Sherlock said. "You're going to allow this because you need me, remember?"
"God help me," Lestrade said, "but yes, I do."
"What's different with this body?" Sherlock asked, pulling his grip away from John and circling the body. The man had clearly been in the water, but he hadn't died there. He was lying on a bit of concrete and Sherlock instantly noticed something scratched into the surface with broken, bleeding nails.
"He's left a note," Sherlock breathed.
"He's German," Anderson's voice came from behind John. "Rache. German for revenge."
"Yes thank you Anderson, for lowering the IQ of the entire hospital," Sherlock snapped. He was staring at the body, bending low, smelling, touching, shifting. After about a minute, he straightened. "John, come over here and tell me what you think."
"Is this a joke?" Anderson demanded.
"Shut up," Sherlock snapped. "John, please."
John hesitated and then used his cane to navigate through the people, around the body, to where Sherlock was standing. "What the hell am I doing here?" John breathed.
"Helping me to make a point," Sherlock said, his voice full of glee. "Tell me what you think of this dead man."
A pair of crime scene gloves were pressed into John's hand. With a sigh, he folded up his cane, slipped on the gloves and knelt down. Wincing at the pain in his leg, he reached out with tentative hands and touched the man. The skin was cold, as was to be expected. The skin was wet, but not saturated. The man smelled of vomit, but not liquor, and when John pressed his ear to the dead man's chest and rocked the body a bit, he didn't hear any water in the lungs.
"He's dead," John said.
"Obviously," Sherlock said, annoyed. "What else?"
"Smell of vomit, no booze. His skin is cold but not saturated, lungs are clear of water. He fell into the pool but didn't die there. Likely a seizure, possibly drugs."
"Drugs, like the others," Sherlock said. "He's carved a word here, Rachel. We need to find out where Rachel is. Has his room been inspected?"
"We know that his name is Andrew Parker, that he's thirty-four, married, here after a stroke rendered him totally blind. And yes, it appears that he pulled himself from the pool and died," Lestrade said.
"What do you mean Rachel?" Anderson called out after Lestrade. "How did you get Rachel."
"Oh I'm sorry, I suppose the blind man was carving revenge in German. Please leave, Anderson, you're putting me off," Sherlock snapped.
Anderson tried to argue, but Lestrade waived him off. "What can you tell me, Sherlock?"
"He was bitter, but not suicidal. He was having an affair, but it was recent. He has a mobile, so it's important we find that."
"His mobile?" Lestrade asked.
"His mobile, it's missing," Sherlock said. Then, Sherlock froze. He was staring at the man's other hand and he bent down low. With delicate fingers, he picked something up from between the man's hand and the floor and grinned. "Oh! Oh! Oh it's Christmas, it really is!"
"What are you on about?" Lestrade demanded.
"The best part about serial killers is the chase! Always something to look forward to, and eventually they make a mistake!" Sherlock said.
"We don't have time to wait for a mistake," Lestrade insisted.
"The waiting is over, Detective Inspector. This serial killer made a mistake, and when we find the mobile, we will find our killer. You see! Don't you see!"
"No, I don't," Lestrade said, and John was honestly just a clueless as everyone around him.
"Oh your funny, boring little brains," Sherlock said, sounding a little bit sad. He shoved his fingers in Lestrade's face and pinched between them were two strands of very vibrant, pink threads. "Pink, Lestrade! Here is the killer's mistake! She has given away her gender!"
John hadn't expected to have to navigate his way back to his room alone. Donovan had taken him as far as the doors to the pool, and did him the favor of pointing him in the direction of his building.
"Just a bit of parting advice, stay away from Sherlock Holmes. He's a psychopath. One day we're going to be standing round a body, and Sherlock will be the one who put it there."
John said nothing. He didn't like Donovan, and while logic agreed with her, John's instincts did not. Now, terrified, alone, and unsure of himself, John headed in the direction of his building. He fumbled over and over, angry at Sherlock for leaving him, angry at himself for being too afraid to do this.
He made it to the door and went inside. Luckily a nurse was there, and even in her irritation to find him so far out of bed, she helped him to the room. John hung the cane on the wall, and said, "Sherlock?" but the room was quite empty.
With a sigh, John laid down on the bed and threw his arm over his face. He was exhausted, but his body was humming with the thrill. He knew he hadn't been an ounce of help at that crime scene, but Sherlock had wanted him there, had asked his opinion, had included him.
He was almost asleep when his phone buzzed. It was the old noise signaling that he'd gotten a text. He was angry at the sound and touched the screen on the phone. With very great surprise, however, when John unlocked the screen, a rather pleasant voice, if not somewhat computerized said, "221B Baker Street. The address to our new flat. Be back promptly. SH."
Of course John had no idea how to navigate his phone in order to send a reply, so he set it on the night table and laid back. John didn't want to be blind, but in the few hours he'd met Sherlock Holmes, he figured out that even if he didn't want to do it, he could. He couldn't do everything, but he could do some things.
John was still wide awake when Sherlock came in, shut the door and pulled his coat off. He plucked the bandages from John's bed and began to wrap them back around his face. "You left me there," John said as Sherlock took a seat on his own bed.
"You made it back perfectly sound," Sherlock pointed out. "Besides, I do that. Like I said, I don't have time to be a guide dog, and if you need assistance, I may not always be able to give it. Work on that, will you?"
John's face reddened and he was glad Sherlock had his bandages back on. "This isn't easy, you know. When things get difficult for you, you can take your bandages off and right your world. I can't do that."
"Yes, you have pointed that out before," Sherlock said plainly. "Is that how you plan to live the rest of your life? Reminding everyone else about the things they have that you don't?"
John took that like a punch to the face. He almost wanted to cry, almost. "I'm just saying, it's not easy."
"That's because you're a bit of an idiot," Sherlock said and then clarified, "don't be offended, practically everyone is. It's all about adapting, which if you stopped fighting that so much, you'd be able to much faster."
John said nothing, there was nothing he could say to that. Sherlock was right, his therapists were all right, but it wasn't as easy as throwing up his hands and saying, "Okay, let's give this blind thing a go!" He could accept it, admit it, believe it, but giving in to it... that was a whole different beast.
Eventually the sounds of snoring filled the room, and John realized Sherlock had gone to sleep. John dressed down to his boxers, not worried about appearance since Sherlock had replaced the bandages and was effectively blind himself. He laid down atop his covers, eyes still open, straining to make out colors and shapes in the room.
He wasn't sure when it happened, but eventually Sherlock's snoring, and occasional muttering, lulled him to sleep. When morning came, John woke and he was alone again in the room. He wasn't sure where Sherlock had got to, but there was the smell of food, and eventually John found breakfast and tea sitting on the desk.
He ate, showered, dressed and went to a therapy session where his therapist let him know that he was going to be released soon. "I'd like to see you make a little more progress before you go."
"Right well, I'd like to see anything at all, but we can't always get what we want, now can we," John snarked. He sighed and rubbed his face. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be like that, I'm just so..."
"You're angry, and I'm not taking anything personally," the woman said. "How are you getting on with your roommate? I know he's only been here a night, but I heard a rumor that the two of you might share a flat when you leave?"
John shrugged. "I dunno, he invited me. It's... he's a bit odd."
"I know him," the woman said, her voice heavy with truth. "So I know why he's here, and I find it quite nice that he's offered you a place to stay. It would be good for you, John. Going off and finding some flatmate with your same condition, or perhaps another war veteran isn't what you need. You need someone who will keep you on your toes."
"You know him? I barely understand a word he says sometimes, and the things he can do just by listening to a person enter the room..." John trailed off and shook his head.
"Consider his offer, hard," the therapist said.
The session came to an end. John went off to work on Braille, which he hated, but Sherlock's voice rang through his head as he sat down with his tiles, with the blind teacher who was more effective than all the sighted people trying to tell him they understood what he was going through.
It was about halfway through when Sherlock swaggered in the room, waving a cane about absolutely improperly, and dropping into a seat next to John. "I've been looking for you everywhere," Sherlock said without regard to the man who was trying to get John to understand the basics of the tiles.
"I'm in the middle of something," John said through gritted teeth.
"Right yes," Sherlock said. He grabbed the children's book away from John, ran his fingers across the top and said, "The Hungry Caterpillar, cute story, bit depressing in my opinion. I need to speak with you."
"Might this wait?" the teacher asked.
"No," Sherlock said forcefully. "I've gotten you a pass, a cab will be waiting for you. I need to get to the flat, and you'd best come because I need your input on where to put things to make it less inconvenient for you. I forgot to mention I'm exhaustingly untidy, and I don't fancy you breaking your nose every ten minutes."
"Er, alright," John said with a frown, his fingers still hovering over the tiles laid out in front of him. "Is that all?"
"Mostly. Might get dangerous, you know, but I thought that might excite you." He leaned in and pressed his mouth against John's ear. "Break in the case, old chap, very exciting. See you in an hour."
John shivered at the close contact and sat absolutely still until Sherlock waltzed out of the room, hitting the door with his cane in a sort of little drum beat, before disappearing down the hall. John let out a breath and shook his head.
"I suppose we ought to pick this up tomorrow," he said and gathered his things. The teacher tried to protest, but John insisted on leaving, and insisted on doing so without a guide.
He had decided that morning that he wanted to try. He needed to try, to get from point A to point B without someone dragging him by the hand and warning him about every bump in the road, every wall, every door frame.
John made it back to his room by memory, forcing himself to remember all of the steps he'd taken in the last six weeks, and he was pleased when he was able to get back on his own, find his coat, and start outside.
There was no cab yet, and he wasn't sure when one was supposed to be there. The nurse confirmed his permission to head out alone, and so John sat down on the building steps, waiting. A few minutes later, his mobile rang, and assuming it was Sherlock, he answered it.
"Doctor John Watson," came a very nasal, somewhat patronizing voice on the other end. "There is a car directly in front of you, sitting with the door open. I would like you to please walk to it and get in. I'd make some sort of threat, but we're all gentlemen here, aren't we?"
John' face grew pale and his heart raced. "Who is this?"
"Who I am is not important, get in the car," the man said.
"I'm not getting in the car until you tell me who you are," John said.
Suddenly there was something cold and metal pressed to John's neck. "I'm sure even a blind soldier would recognize the cold steel of a pistol, am I correct, Dr Watson?"
John wasn't afraid, but he was curious, and his adrenaline was pulsing through his veins. He got up, aided by the push of the gun, and found the car, and the open door. He got in and the door shut, and John realized he wasn't alone.
"Who are you?"
"Anthea," a woman said.
"You weren't the person on the phone," John said with a sigh.
"Any chance you'll tell me who he was?"
She laughed a little. "I know."
The ride was quiet after that, and long, and when they arrived, John's door was opened and he got out. John couldn't see much, wherever they were was dark and large. The echo of his footsteps on the concrete floor told John they were in something like a warehouse, metal walls, tall ceilings. The air was cool, but dry.
"Ah, Dr Watson, thank you for coming," said the voice from several yards away. "Please come over, sit. I've brought in a chair, you've been walking for some time now, your leg must pain you."
John extended his white cane in front of him and walked towards the voice. The edge of the cane eventually touched the chair, and John reached out to steady himself on the back of it, but only for a moment. He folded his cane, tucked it under his arm and squinted to try and make out any details of this man.
"Who are you?"
"A concerned party."
"Concerned about what?"
"Sherlock Holmes," the man said. "I worry about him, almost constantly. What is your relationship with him?"
"We don't have one. He's my roommate at the rehabilitation center. He's blind, you know."
"No he's not," the man said with a chuckle. "Sherlock Holmes is merely pretending, something he does quite often. He's on a case, Dr Watson, but that's not what's important. I hear the two of you are moving in together after only a few hours of being roommates. I expect soon we'll all be receiving a happy announcement?"
"I've only just met him."
"Indeed, and though blind, he's taking you along on murder scenes and asking you to move in with him. Such closeness so quickly."
"That's not how I see it," John said.
"I suppose your views are unique," the man said.
"Can I go now?"
"You're not a wealthy man Dr Watson. What if I were to offer you a monthly stipend, to ease your way?"
John frowned. "In exchange for?"
"Information, on Sherlock Holmes. Nothing indiscreet, believe me. What goes on between your sheets is none of my business."
John couldn't help but blush, yet he shook his head. "Not interested. Why are you, though? How do you know him?"
"We have a complicated relationship," he said with a sigh. "The closest thing Sherlock Holmes can have to a real friend is me... his enemy. Arch enemy, if you ask him. He does love to be dramatic."
"Oh good thing you're above that," John said, rolling his eyes. "Do people even have arch enemies? Is that an actual thing?"
"So your answer is no?"
"Such loyalty, so quickly. I'd take care if I were you, Dr Holmes. Living in Sherlock's life isn't easy, or safe. Those who don't take care tend to find themselves dead."
"I'm not afraid of death," John said.
"Clearly. You're free to go. The car will take you wherever you'd like to be."
John had a thousand questions, but the tapping of the man's dress shoes indicated that he was gone. John turned around and made it back to the car with little fuss. He gave the woman the address of 221B Baker Street, and before long, they had pulled up in front of the building.
John got out, and before he ask any other questions, the car drove off. He turned back to the building with a sigh. It was tall, very white, which was easy to see, and a very dark door. Luckily there weren't any other doors near to it, save for the cafe, and he approached the steps carefully, getting ready to knock.
Within moments, the door swung open and John was pulled inside. "I worried when you missed your cab," Sherlock said as he shut the door.
"I got another ride," John replied. The inside of the foyer was quite dark, so he could make out very little. Sherlock took his hand and placed it on a hook by the door.
"For your coat," he said, sounding like he was in a hurry.
John heard a second set of footsteps, and then the voice of an elderly lady. "Sherlock, is this your friend?"
"Indeed, Mrs Hudson. This is Doctor John Watson, recently returned from Afghanistan. He's quite visually impaired, so it's important that the floor is mainly clear of clutter."
"I'm your landlady, not your housekeeper," she said, but she put a motherly arm around John and squeezed him, surprising John, but it was a welcome surprise. "I'm so happy to meet you, Sherlock's talked all about you. Will you boys be needing me to make up the second room?"
"Of course," John said, blushing a little. "Why wouldn't we need two bedrooms?"
Mrs. Hudson elbowed him a little, "Oh we've got all sorts here, married ones, young couples, I'm not one to judge, Dr Watson."
"It's John, please," John said and detached himself from the older woman. "Sherlock, might we have a word?"
"Two cups of tea, Mrs Hudson," Sherlock said, and swooped up John's arm, pulling him up the stairs.
"Just this once!" the woman called up after them, "I'm not your housekeeper."
"Opens right to the lounge, sofa in the center, kitchen over there," he said, pointing John in the direction of the kitchen. "Bedrooms, bathroom, toilet, all down the hall. You'll have plenty of time to learn your way round, I suspect."
John took two steps forward and tripped over what could only be a massive pile of books and papers. "Damn," he muttered.
Sherlock quickly aided John to his feet. "Right, sorry. I do need to tidy up. I've already moved in and I'm used to being a bit more untidy than would be proper for us."
John waved him off, used his cane to make sure he didn't trip again, which he would have, several more times without it, and he eventually reached the sofa where he sat. "I've met a friend of yours."
"A friend?" Sherlock asked, sounding utterly surprised, if not a bit perplexed, by the word.
"Well enemy, I guess," John amended.
"Oh," Sherlock replied, sounding more at ease. "Which one?"
"Your er... arch enemy," John said, feeling stupid even saying that word aloud. "Do people even really have those? Who was he, anyway?"
"That was the most dangerous man you've ever met, and absolutely not our problem right now. I have more enemies than I can count," Sherlock said flippantly as he paced the room. John was having trouble keeping up with the blur that seemed to be crossing from wall to window and back again, at lightening speed. "People tend to not like me, which is again, not important."
"Well he sounded quite serious. He dragged me to some warehouse or something, at gunpoint, and..."
"Offered you money to spy on me?" Sherlock asked.
"Yes, actually," John said, surprised that this might have been a regular thing that happened.
"Did you accept?"
"No!" John said quickly, "Of course not."
"Pity, we could have split the fee. He already knows most of what I'm up to anyway, not that he's worried about my day to day business." Sherlock plopped down on a chair and leaned forward towards John. "The real importance here is what I've found."
John heard Sherlock pull a piece of paper out of his pocket and slap it on the table. "Our dead body was missing something vitally important, they all were, but our dead man was quite the clever one. Our man installed a GPS tracking device on his mobile, seeing as he was newly blind, and likely didn't want to lose it. We figure out the pass code, we track the phone, we find our killer."
"How do you know the killer didn't just dispose of it?" John asked.
"Because the killer didn't take the mobiles from the other bodies," Sherlock said with glee. "The killer left them, the killer didn't care about mobiles, or money, or anything. The killer wanted to kill, for pleasure, or business. We won't know quite yet. The killer is someone they all knew, they all trusted. They all took the poison willingly, John. The killer is someone nameless, someone that won't be noticed as they stroll down the hall, blind man on their arm, perhaps even at night."
"A nurse?" John asked. "I mean, do you really think it would be staff?"
"Or volunteer," Sherlock said, touching the tips of his pressed palms to his lips. "I can't be sure just yet, but I will be soon. We need to get back to the hospital and I need to stay there. I've given the mobile number to Lestrade and I plan to use your laptop to work on the pass code later on today. It's imperative that I remain absolutely in disguise until we catch this person. She's targeting blind men, and the only way I'm going to draw them out is if I appear to be as such. Come, John, we need to be on our way!"
Sherlock leaped up and hurried down the stairs, taking them two and three at a time, leaving John to slowly make his way down without killing himself first.
"Are you boys leaving already?" Mrs Hudson asked as she hobbled over.
"I'm afraid so, Mrs Hudson," Sherlock said and kissed her cheek. "We've a killer on the loose, targeting blind men at a hospital, alluding everyone, including me! It doesn't get better than that! The game, Mrs Hudson, is on!"
Sherlock was out the door, and Mrs Hudson quickly kissed John on the cheek. "So indecent, he is, with murderers and all. It's not right." But Mrs Hudson sounded like she was quite alright with it, and for that reason alone, John adored her.
He made his way outside where Sherlock was waiting with a cab. As they drove off, Sherlock began to fix his bandages back on his face, and by the time they arrived back at the rehabilitation center, he was back in character.
The pair went back to their rooms to get settled, and before long, Sherlock seized John's laptop, something John hadn't touched since he had gotten to the rehab center, and he fired it up.
John could hear Sherlock sitting at the desk, clicking away furiously. He expected to hear one of the audio programs reading text off the screen, but all he heard was a slight shifting of something and Sherlock typing.
John walked over to Sherlock and reached out, touching the bandages on his face. "How are you using that?" John demanded.
Sherlock grabbed John's hand and shoved it down on the laptop. Under his fingers, John felt the keys were all in Braille, something he remembered his therapist telling him she was doing, but he hadn't really processed it. It was her way of encouraging John to take up writing again, something he'd done in the military and before, but something he felt was lost to him now.
"Right okay," John said, touching a few of the keys.
"I'm researching the mobile site that the victim's phone was registered to. From the information on his profile, I've been able to hack into his personal website, where he kept several blogs, some personal, some public, in an attempt to gain his pass code for the GPS service."
"How though," John demanded. "How are you reading it?"
"Have you used your laptop yet?" Sherlock asked.
"How can I, when I can't see?" John asked.
"The Braille display," Sherlock said, "are you deliberately obtuse, John?" He pushed John's hand down further until it came to a small attachment at the base of the laptop with buttons, and a long row of holes, where small knobs were pushed out to represent Braille cells. "It pops up what's on the screen so that way I can be discreet when I'm trying to hack into his profile."
John pulled his hand away and backed up to a chair. "You read Braille, then."
"Don't you? I realize your brain doesn't work nearly as quickly as mine, but you've been here six weeks."
"I haven't... tried much," John admitted.
"That's quite possibly the most idiotic thing I've ever heard," Sherlock said. "You intend to go the rest of your life illiterate?"
John's face reddened and he shook his head. "How did you possibly pick it up fluently in a manner of days?"
"Weeks," Sherlock said. "Three years ago we had a case where a criminal was hiding the information we needed in Braille notebooks. His mother had been blind, and he had learned the skill when he was a child. No one on the Yard could read Braille, so I took it upon myself to learn it."
"How many weeks?" John asked.
"Two," Sherlock said, and by the sounds of clicking he was back to work. "Don't feel discouraged by that John, my brain is more highly advanced than almost anyone's."
John sighed and sat back. "Are you finding anything interesting?"
Sherlock was quite for a near full five minutes before he suddenly made a small noise of excitement. "Yes! Brilliant! I need... John I need your mobile, quickly!"
John handed it over and he heard Sherlock pushing buttons. There was a moment of silence, and then the strangest sound John had ever heard; Sherlock sounding like a perfectly normal human being.
"Mrs West, my name is Andrew Hamilton, and I'm a grief counselor who works for the rehabilitation clinic. I've realized that it's been some time since your husband passed, but I wanted to offer my services." He was silent save for a few mmhmm's and I see's. "I realize this might be a sensitive question, Mrs West, but did your husband ever have any indescribable with people of his same sex?" Again silence. "Right. I apologize for the impertinent question, but we here realize that grief comes in all forms, and sometimes it's not just the death we're mourning, but unresolved issues in life. If you need us, please phone."
Sherlock rang off and tossed the phone into John's lap. "Brilliant!" he said.
"What? What have you found?"
"If I'm right, and I usually am, it seems our killer is targeting married men who are having affairs with other men."
John's eyes widened. "Are you serious? So you think it's a man?"
Sherlock turned to John, his face full of glee. "No, and that's what makes her so clever."
To his horror, John found himself posing as a man that Sherlock was going to be pursuing an affair with in the common room. Sherlock didn't really give John much choice in the matter, going so far as to threaten him with snogging him loudly, in public, whether he wanted him to or not, so John decided he'd might as well go along with the idea.
He was sitting on a chair, working on some of his Braille tiles, trying to contain his nerves, when footsteps approached. "Seat taken?" Sherlock asked.
John tried to suppress a sigh. "Not at all."
"Might I ask what you're doing?" Sherlock inquired as he pulled the chair down and sat.
"Working on my Braille. Someone pointed out how ridiculous it would be to go through the rest of my life illiterate."
"Even if you regain your sight," Sherlock said in a low voice, "it's never a bad thing to acquire a new skill."
John sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Do we really have to do this?" he whispered.
"Yes," Sherlock said firmly. "Your eyes are getting tired, by the way, because you keep trying to see the tiles. Close your eyes when you're working on it. You can't learn to read by touch if you're trying to learn a tactile alphabet by seeing it."
John rubbed his temples. "Thank you. Any other helpful tips?" His voice was snarky and irritated, mainly because Sherlock was right and John was still subconsciously fighting his injuries.
"Stop acting like a prat so I can chat you up," Sherlock said plainly, but quietly. "I'm not very good at chatting people up to begin with, and your irritation with me isn't helping matters."
"Aren't there any other men in this room that are properly gay you can chat up? Surely with your powers of deduction, you can find one," John snapped.
"You're the only one I trust, John," Sherlock said sincerely. He reached out, found John's hand, and took it. "Besides, aren't you properly gay?"
John blushed. "Look, it's really none of your business what I am. Frankly, my sexuality is the least of my problems right now."
"I realize that," Sherlock said. He didn't let go of John's hand. "But it's a simple question, John, and whether or not you decide to be celibate for the rest of your life, you're either gay, or you're not."
"Are you gay?" John demanded, ignoring the plan completely, feeling somewhat exposed by Sherlock suddenly, in this crowded room.
"Married," Sherlock said a little too loudly, "unhappily."
John could feel the ring on Sherlock's finger, and he sighed. "Honestly, are you gay or straight?"
"I'm neither," Sherlock said with a shrug. "Therapists from my childhood call me repressed, my addiction coach calls me asexual, though she was rubbish."
"Addiction coach?" John asked.
"I had a cocaine addiction, not really our problem at the present time," Sherlock said impatiently. "I would really like to catch this killer so the two of us can move on from this depressing place and begin actual work. I'm finding working with you on this case difficult and dull, John, and I know you're capable of more."
John sighed and squeezed Sherlock's hand. "Fine, yes, I'm gay. Always have been, big campy poufter, love to take it up the arse and what not."
Sherlock chuckled a little. "A bit less subtle, if you please."
John rolled his eyes. "What about you, then? Besides being married. Unattached?"
"Like me. Good." John bowed his head a little and let out a long breath he had been holding. "I'm quite uncomfortable with this."
"I realize," Sherlock said in a near whisper. "We're being observed now."
"How do you know?" John asked back in the same muted tone.
"Footsteps were pacing around us, they've stopped," Sherlock said. John felt him lean closer. Sherlock's free hand moved up to John's face, touching his mouth and cheek, where he had thick, smooth scars from the blast. "Did you know about these?"
John pulled his face away from Sherlock. "They told me. I haven't... touched them, to see how bad they really are. I imagine I look a bit disfigured. Maybe they'll put me on a motivational poster about disabled, disfigured veterans and how they got on with their lives."
"Moving in with sociopathic consulting detectives with former drug addictions?" Sherlock asked with a laugh. He didn't take his hand away from John's face.
"Sounds about right," John said and grinned. He didn't want to admit how much he was enjoying Sherlock's hand on his face. John was gay, before his accident, before his life fell apart. It was hardly a thing for him, it was just something he'd always been. His parents never minded, they accepted Harry for it, they just weren't thrilled by her choice to live her daily life slobbering drunk.
They never really questioned John, who had always been tough, and brave, into sports, too smart for his own good, but too addicted to action to do anything other than join the army and ship off to a war zone.
John had never questioned his sexuality, but after his accident he questioned whether or not he'd ever have a proper relationship again. And this bizarre consulting detective, deducing every move John made, every motivation behind every action... it wasn't John's idea of an ideal relationship.
"You're not disfigured," Sherlock said, interrupting John's thoughts. "I find the scars interesting. Beautiful, if you really want to put a word to it. Faces, they're dull, boring. One might argue that people all look different, but when you really look at them, they're all the same. Eyes, nose, mouths, cheeks, foreheads. But your scars, they give something new. Like textured brush strokes across a canvas..." Sherlock's fingers traced the thick, shiny scars and John gave a shiver.
"Maybe we can meet later?" Sherlock whispered, interrupting him. "Somewhere secret, quiet?"
"Okay," John whispered back. He knew it was all part of The Game, that Sherlock wasn't really inviting him anywhere, for anything, but it didn't stop the spark of desire flaring up in his belly.
Sherlock pulled his hands away from John. "I'll be back at the room when you want to come by."
John said nothing, his hands falling back down on the tiles, and he listened as Sherlock got up, swaggering away with his reckless cane. John didn't fail to notice, however, the second set of footsteps that followed Sherlock out of the room.
John didn't wait too long before leaving the common room. He couldn't ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He started at a slow pace, but eventually broke into a run, his cane barely touching the ground, and he made it back to his room.
"Sherlock?" John said, but there was no answer. His hands trailed across the desk, across Sherlock's bed, for some sort of clue, but there wasn't one.
He moved to his bed and there, on his pillow, lay a scrap piece of paper. He touched it and he could feel puncture marks, as though a pen had gone through it. Turning it over, he realized it was a note, and it was in Braille, and it was for him.
Angry with himself, he put the paper flat on the desk, closed his eyes and forced himself to remember. The first time his fingers ghosted over it, he got nothing. Just bumps. Just little bumps that meant nothing except that he was going to fail this man who might depend on him.
John was smarter than this. He knew he was. He had retained the information he'd been studying for six weeks, and it was in there somewhere. His fingers touched it again. Two words, he realized. The second word was Gun. The first word... he touched it three times before he made out the word, Gym.
Gym. Gun. John flew to Sherlock's cupboard and rummaged through his things, his hands touching everything, every pocket, every shoe, every box until his hands touched steel. He examined it, drawing back on his military training. The gun was loaded, it was ready. He shoved it into the back of his jeans, grabbed his cane and was off.
He'd only been to the gym a handful of times, and at this hour, when dinner was getting ready to be served, it would be empty of staff and patients. His cane made a shuffling sound as he crossed the grassing, using the sight he did have to make sure he was traveling in a straight direction. He could see the blurry outline of the building against the sky.
The door made a deafening clatter as John stepped inside and let it slam behind him. He stepped forward when he heard the familiar metallic click as a gun was cocked. "Ooh your lover has arrived. We've never had a rescue before. Then again we've never had a man pretending to be gay and blind before, either. You didn't think you could really fool us? The great Sherlock Holmes blinded and gay?"
"You keep saying 'we'. Tell me Rachel, just who are you working with?"
"Figured that out, did you?" she asked. Her voice was light, young, pretty and insane.
John pulled out his gun and pointed in the direction of her voice. "Drop it."
The woman laughed. She laughed and laughed, for what seemed like hours. "Do you think I'm stupid. Sherlock's not blind, Dr Watson, but you actually are. A blind man with a gun is hardly a threat." She cleared her throat and then said, "Take the pill, Mr Holmes, or I shall kill him as well."
Without needing to see, John realize what was happening and he acted before he could really think about it. With the echo in the room, John couldn't be absolutely sure he was being precise, but at this point he didn't care. He had to make his move before Sherlock did something stupid.
John pulled the trigger, and the gun fired. The force of it, and what he'd done, startled him so badly he fell to his knees and gasped. He heard a thud, and then, when he was almost sure he'd hit Sherlock, he heard Sherlock's voice.
"Who are you working for?" Sherlock said. "You may be dying but I still have time to hurt you."
There was a violent cry, and then her weak, aching voice cried out, "Moriarty!"
Silence, thick and heavy, filled the room. John heard Sherlock's footfalls on the wood floors as he approached. "Give me the gun, and you stay quiet."
John handed the weapon over, still on his knees, his heart hammering in his chest. He didn't really notice when the police arrived, or that he was taken by paramedics to be checked over. He could hear Sherlock talking in rapid tones to Lestrade, explaining the situation.
Later John would learn that Sherlock had traced the GPS to the staff room. He had called Lestrade in, but the woman had been tipped off about Sherlock's presence and who he really was. Rachel was a volunteer staff member for the rehab center, and they found the pills on the dead woman. She was shot in the heart by Sherlock Holmes, an amazing feat since his eyes were completely bandaged. John didn't mind, really, that Sherlock had taken the credit. The only thing that mattered was that he was successful, without the use of his eyes.
John was discharged from the rehab center a week early. His things were packed for him, and shipped. He stepped out of the cab at Baker street, his cane taking him safely to the front door. Mrs Hudson was out, shopping he supposed, he didn't really care.
He enjoyed the way the stairs creaked under his feet, and the way the banister was worn down by hundreds of trips up and down these stairs by nameless, faceless strangers. Sherlock was in the lounge, playing the violin. He didn't stop when John arrived, and John found it rather soothing.
He sat on the sofa, laying his head back, and closed his eyes. "I think we should go out for dinner," Sherlock said after some time.
John didn't have the heart to tell him no, so he went along. It was easier now that Sherlock wasn't pretending to be blind, easier to focus on his own mobility. Sherlock was a terrible guide, but John was learning fast.
The waiter sat them near the window, John taking the bench, Sherlock in a chair. "Anything you want, on the house. For you and your date," the man said, his voice heavily accented with Italian.
"I'm not his date," John said quickly. Too quickly.
"I'm not hungry," Sherlock said, ignoring John. "Bring him whatever he wants."
John ordered the house special. "People are going to talk if we keep having intimate moments and candlelight dinners."
"Let them talk," Sherlock said impatiently. He picked up a glass of wine and sipped on it.
"Doesn't it bother you that people might think you're on a date with me?" John asked.
"Isn't this a date?" Sherlock asked. "By definition, to go out socially."
"Romantic intent implied, I suppose," John said.
"Generally," Sherlock said.
John noticed that Sherlock hadn't denied this meeting contained romantic intent, however he wasn't comfortable pursuing the idea further.
"What do you look like?" John asked about halfway through the meal.
This seemed to throw Sherlock off a bit and he cleared his throat. "Does it matter?"
"No, seeing as likely I'll never actually be able to see you, but I am curious." John was being honest.
"I'm wearing a silk shirt, dark purple, matching scarf, black trousers and when we go outside, a grey coat."
"Elaborate," John said with a smile.
"Black hair, curly, large nose, blue eyes, sharp features," Sherlock said methodically.
John chuckled. "Sharp features? What does that mean, really?"
"No idea," Sherlock replied, somewhat amused. "It's the way people generally describe me, aside from being impossible, insufferable, the devil, possessed, and a psychopath."
John and Sherlock both shared a laugh. "I can't blame them sometimes. You are quite bizarre, but in a bloody fantastic way."
John finished eating, and they went back to the flat. "I have a question for you," John said as they got settled in the lounge.
"When we were at the rehabilitation center, when we were talking about my face," John said slowly, unsure if he really had the courage to ask this question, "am I actually disfigured?"
"No," Sherlock said plainly. "Have you really not checked?"
"I was afraid to," John admitted. He felt the sofa next to him sink down with Sherlock's presence. "I'm blind now, I won't be seeing my face again, not really, and frankly even if it is, I can pretend it's not."
"So why ask me?" Sherlock pointed out. "Why ask the one person who will give you the brutal answer without regards to your feelings?"
"Because I'm lying to myself about not really wanting to know, about how it won't matter, and how I could possibly pretend that it's not," John said. He reached up with a steady hand and gingerly traced his own scars. "Textured brush strokes. I didn't realize you could be poetic."
Sherlock smirked a little. "One picks up little tricks here and there when one has a job such as mine which requires deceit and trickery."
"Deceit," John said, feeling suddenly insulted.
Sherlock sighed, and put his hands on the sides of John's face. "Your eyes are blue, soft, and obviously strained as you continue desperate to see the world with them. There is scarred tissue around your eyes, read but that will heal in time. Your nose is crooked, it's been broken before, but not in the army. Bar fight, or perhaps defending your sister against anti-homosexual slurs, since you rather prefer not to drink after watching her piss her life way. You have small commas in the corners of your mouth, meaning that even though you don't now, you used to smile often. You've loved before, and lost, but no loss is as hard as the loss of your old life, and you're always going to be afraid that you'll end up useless to those around you."
John licked his lips and tried not to give in to the temptation to lean into Sherlock's grip on his face. "You know so much about everyone else, yet no one knows a thing about you."
"It's because people see, but they do not observe. You don't need eyes to see John, you just need to use the senses you have available to you." Sherlock took one hand away from John's face and slipped his wrist into the doctor's open palm. "Pulse?"
"Elevated," John said.
"Breath?" Sherlock asked, putting his face close to John's.
"Rapid, occasionally hitched."
"What does that tell you, Doctor?"
"Anxiety, possible fear, potentially feeling desire of some sort, anticipation," John breathed.
Sherlock smiled, and then he kissed John. His full lips pressed against John's, persistent, inexperienced, but wanting. It didn't take John long to shake off his surprise and kiss Sherlock back, his hands wrapping around the taller man's back, twisting in his delicate, silk shirt.
It was only when Sherlock stopped abruptly that John realized someone else had come into the room.
"A happy announcement for certain," came a familiar voice that sent John's blood cold.
"Where is your gun?" John whispered into Sherlock's ear.
"Never mind that," Sherlock said, and slipped from John's grasp, rising. "What are you doing here?"
"Well I came to congratulate you on your case," the man said with a smirk, "but clearly someone else is taking quite good care of that."
"Indeed," Sherlock bit. "How's the diet?"
"Are your petty attempts at insults really necessary, Sherlock?"
"If they irritate you, then absolutely," Sherlock said.
John stood up, pressing his shoulder to Sherlock's side to keep himself oriented. "This is the man who took me by gun point," John said.
"Really Mycroft? A gun. How more dramatic did you want to be?"
"It wasn't a gun, if your friend had bothered to reach back and touch it. It was merely a prop, the end of an umbrella, actually," the man called Mycroft said. "And dramatic or no, your sullen attitude and constant bickering with me is getting old. It really is time to end this petty feud between us, Sherlock. Maybe give mummy a happy Christmas this year?"
John's mouth dropped. "Mummy? So... he's your..."
"Brother, unfortunately, but only by blood," Sherlock snarked.
"So when you said you worry about him constantly you actually mean you worry about him?" John asked.
"Of course," Mycroft said, sounding perplexed by the question. "I shouldn't have to resort to bribery and kidnapping, Sherlock, just to find out what's going on with you. If you'd just answer your mobile once in a while, we might find ourselves avoiding these little chats."
"If you don't need anything Mycroft, do piss off. We were in the middle of something," Sherlock said which caused John to blush violently.
"Clearly," Mycroft said dryly. "I see that you've finally made up your mind. Might lose that title of Virgin soon as well. You boys enjoy yourself, and hopefully we'll meet in less awkward circumstances next time."
John was struck dumb from shock, and only recovered when Sherlock pulled him back down onto the sofa with a firm hand.
"That was your brother," John said.
"Who kidnapped me?"
"He's done things like that before."
"Faked having a gun?"
"A dirty trick to play on a blind man."
"And asked me to spy on you for money?"
"Which I maintain you should have accepted the offer." Sherlock then kissed John again, deeply. "However I'm very rich, so what little money you bring in is perfectly fine. Whatever money Mycroft would have contributed probably would have gone to my smoking habit, which I'm trying to kick, and a lot of cake which Mycroft can't have." Sherlock paused and then said with a smirk, "He used to be very, very fat."
John chuckled and shook his head. "So what now?"
"I mean here we are, snogging on a sofa, I barely know you yet I'm living with you and we've just solved a murder. Is this normal for you? The normal end to a week?"
"For the most part, except the snogging bit. Mycroft was quite right that up to now I've been a virgin in almost every sense of the word, and that was quite nice by the way, if not a terrible way to spread infection and disease. If by what now, you're asking what logical sequence of events, I'd say probably cock sucking and eventual sex in one of our bedrooms, yours preferably because I'm rather fond of clean sheets, and then a shower. Tea for you, because I only prefer coffee, and only until noon, and I expect you'll probably have something to eat before bed."
John's face was quite red at Sherlock's rather clinical way of laying it all out like that, and he shook his head. "That's not what I meant, though you are right, that is sound logic."
"So what did you mean, then?"
"For the future? I mean we're flatmates. What if this whole sex thing doesn't work out? Are we dating, Sherlock? I barely know you, and I think I can safely assume you're going to be very difficult at most times. What if we have a falling out?"
"Is this why your relationships have never been successful?" Sherlock asked. "Not everything needs to be predicted or deduced. Besides, John, I would never have bothered with this at all had I not known exactly what was going to happen in the future."
"So what is going to happen?"
Sherlock smiled just a small, half smile. "We're going to need a separate room for sex, that's what."