A/N: Because part 6 of Can't Rewind Now is refusing to arrange itself coherently and I feel terrible for making people wait so long. I really am sorry, regular readers!
Anyway here's an AU I've been messing about with for awhile. John's still a med student, Sherlock is a drug-addled teenager. Later chapters will focus more on the backstory involved with this, but for now here's some good old-fashioned in medias res to get things going.
Short and (a bit) sweet with angst by the truckload and some slight H/C. Hope you find it interesting, at least.
Do you have a couch? -SH
Yeah. What for?
To sleep on, obviously. -SH
Just for a night. If it's alright with you. -SH
He fidgets with nervous energy as he waits for a reply, heartbeat pounding in his ears. A minute passes, then another. Damn it, shouldn't have asked. Who would let a drug addict sleep on their couch? You idiot, now he thinks you're needy, he'll never speak to you again.
Waiting is torture but he forces himself to watch the numbers on his phone until they hit the next multiple of ten. John still hasn't replied. He huddles over his phone and hurriedly types out a third text.
Nevermind, ignore last two texts. Sorry. -SH
Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry I'm sorry don't hate me, he thinks in a panic. Hits send and stows the phone in his pocket as if putting it out of sight will erase the stupidity of what he's done. The only person in the whole world who ever seems pleased to see him and he just had to go begging for charity. John will cut him out of his life now, realise he's been nothing but a needy junkie this whole time and seek to distance himself before Sherlock can bleed him dry. Oh god, Mycroft was right; he ruins every relationship he touches.
He draws his legs up on the wall and leans forwards to rest his head on his knees and tug fretfully at his damp, icy hair. It's close to freezing out, and he'd been too focused on getting the hell out to think to put on anything warmer than a hoodie. For now he's too amped up to notice. Low ambient temperature hardly matters while his blood is screaming through his veins and every muscle vibrates with heated energy. But it's been ages since his last hit and the high is set to fade any moment. Soon the drugs will wear off completely and he'll almost certainly freeze to death.
The prospect doesn't scare him nearly as much as he thinks it should.
A chiming noise shatters the quiet and he jumps, coming perilously close to toppling off the low wall he's sitting on. He retrieves his phone with shaking fingers and for a well over a minute simply stares at the screen. MESSAGE RECIEVED FROM JOHN WATSON. Oh god. He doesn't want to open it. He can't. John is going to tell him to go to hell and of course he is, you should never have bothered him. You idiot. You moron. Now he knows how pathetic you are.
But he owes it to John to read the text, to know how badly he's fucked things up this time.
Sorry had a call from mum. Of course you can kip on my sofa!
Sherlock blinks. Reads the text again. Of course you can. Is John being sarcastic or is he actually possibly somehow maybe amazingly okay with a cokehead invading his flat for the night? Sherlock's thumbs are flying over the keys before he can even think.
Are you sure? -SH
This time the reply arrives in seconds.
His heart is racing again. Not from fear this time but something like elation. John's sure. Absolutely sure. He suddenly becomes aware of a stupid, giddy smile creeping onto his face and does his best to erase it before some passerby sees. He gets another text.
You need the address?
Sherlock laughs. Of course he doesn't. He's followed John home dozens of times already out of sheer boredom, making a game of seeing how close he can get before the oblivious junior doctor notices anything amiss.
Course not. Well come over then I've got tea on.
Sherlock stows the phone again and tries not to grin too manically as he hops off the wall and retrieves his violin case. John's flat is several blocks away- a good distance, but not too far to walk. The way he's feeling he thinks he might run.
The walk(/run, but only for a few minutes before he nearly passes out from exhaustion) takes around half an hour, so that by the time he knocks on John's door he's shivering violently with a combination of both cold and withdrawl-induced muscle fatigue. His fingers on the handle of the violin case are tinged blue, even with the sleeve of his hoodie pulled down to cover them, and the other hand isn't much better even for having been tucked away in his jeans pocket. He huddles on the steps outside the door and tries very hard to ignore the part of his brain insisting that John's reconsidered, is about to yell at him to get lost, he should leave leave leave now before another person can choose to abandon him.
"Hey!" John's voice is warm as he opens the door, and he's smiling... until he sees Sherlock. Seeing the doctor's handsome boyish face falling into a frown at the sight of him twists Sherlock's guts into an icy knot of fear, and he very nearly turns to run. He can't handle a rejection right now, he really, honestly, truly can't. He's about to stammer an apology, try to salvage something of their still-tentative friendship when John suddenly speaks again; "Jesus, Sherlock! What happened? You look like you've been mugged!"
Sherlock is wrong-footed. Concern is not an emotion he encounters often, and for several long seconds he stares uncomprehendingly at the smaller man. He'd been expecting anger. "I... s-sort of, I guess?" he finally stutters. It occurs to him that the reply doesn't make any kind of sense, but he can't think of how to fix it before John is talking again.
"Well don't just stand there you idiot, come inside. It's bloody freezing out here!"
And just like that, John is ushering him in. The warmth of the flat prickles on his skin and his maybe-friend is touching his arms and hands and guiding him to a sofa and he thinks good lord, does he actually care that I'm hurt? Does it bother him that I'm injured and cold and tired and oh christ who the hell told anyone they should care about me I'm not worth this I'm not-
"Sherlock?" John is speaking again and it cuts through his thoughts to hear a voice saying his name with such unfamiliar concern. He forces his fogged brain to focus as the doctor drapes an afghan over his bony shoulders and sits down on the coffee table opposite to face him. "Sherlock, hey. Look at me. What happened? You look like hell."
"I feel like hell," Sherlock hears himself mumble. John's expression is full of worry. Sherlock doesn't know what to do with worry, not from other people. Not towards him. People don't worry about sociopathic junkies. He clears his throat. "Just a fight, is all," he says in as close an approximation of unconcerned as he can manage. "Simple domestic argument, nothing to worry about. I'll be fine. I wouldn't have bothered you but the outside temperature is a little low for sleeping rough and I forgot to grab a coat on the way out." There, perfect. He's not being needy- just absentminded. John will laugh and perhaps scold him, nothing to fret over.
"You... just had a domestic?" John asks in a disbelieving voice. Sherlock tenses. Leave it to John to focus on entirely the wrong part of the sentence. I don't want to talk about that.
"Yes," he answers anyway, because he has to.
"Christ," the doctor shoves a hand through his hair, "your... boyfriend, I'm assuming? Which is fine by the way."
"I know it's fine," Sherlock replies stiffly. It's not, really. Sherlock's never been less fine in his life. And he doesn't want to talk about this. Shut up, John. Please shut up.
"So you and your boyfriend had a row and he beat the hell out of you," John says. "Sherlock, that... really doesn't sound like a healthy relationship."
Sherlock laughs, suddenly. Short and bitter and much closer to a sob than he'd like. He stifles himself before the sound can grow manic.
"I have never had a relationship in my life that could be considered 'healthy'," he informs John in a low, cold voice. "Regardless, Vincent is more of a dealer than a romantic partner. This is..." he chokes for some reason, swallows convulsively to rid his throat of whatever blockage is strangling his words, "... this is not an infrequent occurence." He avoids John's eyes and presses forward with the careful indifference he's learned to rely on, "I am not badly injured, despite appearances. I'll be well enough after a night's rest. I'll be fine. I'm fine."
John doesn't look like he believes him. Sherlock doesn't really believe himself either but he has to convince the both of them somehow. Denial is all he has left. It simply isn't possible anymore to face the enormity of his situation and come out sane.
"Uh huh," John intones dubiously, "and what then? You'll just go crawling back I suppose?"
"Pretty sure I'll still be capable of walking in the morning," he grumbles. "Your couch can't be that bad."
"Sherlock!" John snaps. "This is serious!"
"It's none of your business!" Sherlock bites back viciously and crosses his arms over his chest. If he were smart he would leave now, get away from this discussion and John and this fucking plethora of stupid tangled feelings. But he's not smart, not at all, or he would never have found himself here in the first place. He's only intelligent. Useless facts will never outweigh the primal fear of a cold and lingering death on the London streets. So he stays seated and curls in on himself miserably and hopes John will get the hint and drop it.
"Fine, fine," John throws up his hands in defeat. A brief thrill of fear runs through Sherlock's mind at the thought that he's been given up on. But John just continues in a softer voice, "let me have a look at that cut, at least. I've got a med kit in the other room."
Sherlock is still glaring at the wall but he nods once to show his assent, and in just a few minutes John is tending to the gash on his forehead and disinfecting the tiny scrapes and tears on his arms. It's such a marked difference from the last person who willingly touched him that he finds the lump back in his throat and his vision blurring. He tells himself the shudders wracking his stick figure body are just cocaine withdrawl. His harsh breathing from the half hour out in the cold night air.
"Alright?" John asks. Sherlock sets his jaw and says nothing.
After a moment, John doesn't either.