Title: Hearing, Not Listening

Pairing: Johnlock

Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)

Rating: K

Notes: So I might have rushed the ending there... I hate writing endings... I suck at writing endings...

Reviews are love!


John Watson had been fixing up a soldier's broken arm when the missile hit. It all happened so fast, he honestly can't remember everything that happened after the initial shock of the infirmary walls blowing out. He had been very lucky… and forever more absolutely guilt stricken that the soldier with the broken arm had shoved him to the ground, rolled off the bed and covered the doctor with his own body when the all too familiar sound of an on-coming missile hissed through the still air.

Bricks and large metal pillars and dust and bodies and an incredibly painful ringing in his ears and…

Well, he remembers just one thing clearly.

Pushing the soldier off of him, along with all of the debris, feeling nothing but a concentrated stab of guilt in his chest when he looked into those lifeless eyes… everything went black.


He knows what a freshly deaf person sounds like when they try to speak and he wanted nothing to do with it. Trying to talk like you had been your whole life, but not being able to make out a single syllable that left your mouth, your speech was slurred, you sounded nasally, and he just didn't want to let any of his loved ones hear him like that. Of course, accepting what had happened to him was immensely not a fun experience, but John Watson, being the military man he is- well, was, immediately stepped up to learning sign language and learned the basics quite quickly. Signing wasn't nearly as hard as he thought it would be and this helped him relax, it really didn't seem all that awful after all though he knew that would change when put in more social situations such as, oh, let's say going out to eat with a new flat mate?


"Oh, for Christ's sake. In case you didn't notice when we came in and took our seats, we were using sign language to talk to each other. Since I'm the one that's doing the talking, common sense dictates, even for a total buffoon such as yourself, that John, here, is either deaf or mute. Common sense should have also provided you with the basic knowledge that talking louder at him isn't going to make him understand any better you twit, so stop embarrassing yourself and let me do the communicating. Honestly. And no, the candle won't be necessary."


Sherlock was very quick to learn sign language for his new flat mate. He'd been meaning to learn it for a while now anyway, but never really had a reason to other than the tragedy that is boredom. The first time they met, thanks to Mike, it took him longer than he'd like to admit to pin John for a deaf man. He picked up the psychosomatic limp, the military background, the brother with drinking problems, the doctor-ness-ness that was the man before him, though he honestly just thought John was a quiet man.

"What's wrong with the landline?"

"Nothing, I just prefer texting." Sherlock glanced sideways at the silent man, he looked distant, as if his mind was literally in a different room while his body remained in this one.

"Right. Well anyhow, Sherlock, this is an old friend of mine, John Watson." Mike gestured to John who was completely oblivious due to his eyes looking everywhere else in the room besides the two other men containing it. The detective hummed softly and shifted to face John. John merely glanced at him when the movement caught his attention, his head lifting a tad, getting ready for the whole pointing to the ear and shaking his head bit.

"Afghanistan or Iraq?"

"Sherlock," Mike leaned against the table and eyed him over his glasses, "surely you've figured out that he's deaf by now?" Sherlock focused back on John who shrugged, pointed at his ear and gave a faint head shake, his lips pinched at one corner. Sherlock hummed again, much more interested than before, and walked up to the shorter man. Snatching the cell phone from his jacket pocket, John's silent protests going unnoticed, Sherlock simply wrote a text on the phone and handed it back to John, smiling and walking back to grab his coat and scarf. John gave Sherlock an incredulous look and turned the phone over in his hand.

'My name is Sherlock Holmes and I will be your new flat mate at 221b Baker St. Meet me there at 8:00 am, bring your belongings. The landlady is Mrs. Hudson, I'll inform her of the situation. I suppose I'll be learning sign language, should only take me a week or so to communicate properly. I'll see you soon Doctor.'

Before exiting the room, Sherlock turned to John and then Mike. "Oh, and do let him know about my line of work. I'll be off now, very important business."


Sherlock eventually decides that texting is more efficient than signing… And by efficient, he means less tedious. He often speaks to John and John will just stare at him like he's listening though they both know he can't hear a damn thing besides muffled nothings. When it comes to his deductions and rants, Sherlock gets so frustrated because he wants John to hear him and appreciate his brilliance but he ends up typing it out on the nearest phone or computer and by the time John starts reading, it seems that the excitement and anticipation of it all has drained away from the detective. That is until he notices the way John's eyes light up and his smile slowly grows bigger and bigger and when he gets to certain points his jaw drops or he laughs or he covers his mouth or he grimaces and by the end John is just rattling off all of the best, most appropriate words of praise in his sign language vocabulary. And most times, signing it isn't enough, so John will type up pages of how bloody incredible it all is and really, truly, the look on John's face is all the praise Sherlock needs. It gives him funny feelings and he isn't sure that he likes them just yet.

On occasion, though, Sherlock finds that sign language comes in handy at the crime scenes when he feels like making a joke that only John would understand. A joke about Anderson or Donovan, naturally.

John will be jotting notes on his little note pad, Sherlock will type out a few deductions on his phone and hand it to John which would be responded to with a hum or a text written over his own. John will watch cluelessly as Sherlock, Anderson and Donovan exchange a few harsh words and give his friend an uneasy look, he knows something rude was just said and he wants to know what but only if Sherlock will tell him. Sherlock will double take at the worried look and shake his head, throwing a few signs John's way and earning a good chuckle.

Sherlock always liked the sound of John's laugh. He had a good idea of John's voice because of it, but it still bothered him that John never tried talking. Even when they were alone, in all the time they've known each other, Sherlock has not heard any noise come from that mouth other than a laugh, a hum, or a sound of disgust or surprise (mostly due to Sherlock's little experiments lying around their flat).

It was decided, eventually, that Sherlock would get John to talk to him whether he liked it or not. And no, he will certainly not admit that he actually really kind of just wants to hear John say his name…


'Why don't you talk?' John huffed a sigh and enlarged the new conversation window on his laptop, Sherlock on his own just across the room.

'Less confusion and less awkward stares, if I'm to be honest.' Sherlock scoffed and rolled his eyes.

'Why don't you talk to me? You know I'll understand you.'

'True, but what he have works. I'd rather just text and write anyhow.'

'I want you to talk to me.'

'Oh, look! We're talking right now, miraculous!' Sherlock threw John a glare and John just chuckled deeply.

'Say something!'

'No, Sherlock. I don't feel like it.'

'You haven't spoken in months. Probably since the day it happened. How can you not "feel like it"? You must be itching to say something, anything.' Sherlock scrunched his face distastefully and mouthed out "feel like it" as if mocking John.

'I just don't want to, okay? Drop it.'

'Say something.'


'Would you like me to type out my deductions on why you won't speak to me? Because I have some interesting ideas that are quite extensive in the WORDS area… Might take some time to get through…'

'Please no, Sherlock, seriously, I have things to do. Just drop it.' Sherlock lifted his eyebrows at John with a smile and made a show of cracking his knuckles and shaking out his wrists before placing them back on the keyboard. John dawned a face of terror and snapped his attention back to his laptop. 'Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you, it's a little silly… I know I'll sound embarrassing. I know what a newly deaf person sounds like and I don't want to sound like that, I'm perfectly fine with typing and writing, thanks.' Sherlock shouted something and threw his hands in the air, he didn't look very happy, John thought Sherlock might have said "Absolutely ridiculous!" but he wasn't sure. Sounded about right though.

John was expecting a text back, so of course he was a little thrown off when Sherlock practically flew across the room, removed the laptop from his lap, and squatted in front of him between his legs. Sherlock lifted his hand to his chin, four fingers up, thumb tucked down, and moved his hand to tap the index finger to his chin twice.


John moved to stand, but was firmly yanked back down by his wrist. A hand slapped his thigh, a finger pointed directly at his face and back to Sherlock's to get him to pay attention, and the sign was redone in a more deliberate, sharp motion.


John threw his hands up and rolled his eyes. Sherlock took this as a lazy 'and say what?' The detective took his right hand and placed it flat on his chest, following with taking both hands in the U sign and crossing his right hand over his left to make an X, tapping his pinky knuckle with his index knuckle.

"My name."

Both men waited silently, Sherlock's intent gaze burning into John's completely unsure one. John swallowed and sighed, giving his friend one more look, one more plea to drop it before straightening up and clearing his throat.

"Sh…" He swallowed quickly and cleared his throat again, "Sher-" John cut himself off with a shake of his head and tried to stand up again. His heart was racing, why was Sherlock making him do this? Getting so intimate and asking him to say his name? Why can't he just leave it alone? Though John had managed to take a few steps to escape Sherlock's silly game, he found himself frozen when a familiar large hand gently slipped into his own and held on just perfectly between soft and firm. John swore it almost felt… affectionate… but affection is a display of sentiment, John reminds himself, and Sherlock doesn't do sentiment. And so the idea of the hand in his own being a sign of fondness quietly whimpers it's way to the furthest corner of his mind, tail tucked between it's legs firmly.

John turned hesitantly to look back at the owner of the hand grasping his own. Sherlock's expression was entirely blank, but a soft blank. John begins to wonder if this really is all just an act to get him to speak. Something inside him hurts and he's not sure if he likes how it feels.

"Say… My… Name." His lips moved slowly, the doctor can read them if spoken slow enough. He swallows one more time and looks away, setting his jaw and straightening to hide the hurt. Hesitantly, he breathes in and finally, lets the detective's name slip past his lips.

"Sherlock." It's slow, but not dragged out, voice soft and airy, practically a whisper. He can feel his pulse quickening under his ears, his neck, his chest… Sherlock is leaning in, pulling the hand in his to turn the body to face him properly. Personal space is now a lost concept. Sherlock moves his lips. John thinks he might have said 'Again' but he isn't sure, it's one of those words he never sure of when reading lips. In the end, he doesn't know what Sherlock said. In the end, he doesn't care. "Sherlock." He says again, trying to put a little more air into it than his previous attempt. Sherlock's eyes flicker with something and he's leaning in closer. Their faces are so close, but John can still see those lush lips move. 'Again' "Sherlock." He can tell it was shaky that time, his breath caught in his throat because of those damn hands trailing up his arms to rest at his shoulder and neck. There's a tightness in his chest, a burning in his face and why are his fingers pulling at Sherlock's suit hem? 'Again, John.' "Sherlock Holmes."

It feels wonderful in all of it's inexperienced glory, the kiss that follows. Sherlock's other hand slipped from John's shoulder to his cheek, the one on his neck remaining so. It wasn't intense or super passionate, Sherlock would have to be taught to kiss like that. No, it was still passionate, but in the way that two people can communicate so much in such a soft, simple touch. Their lips pressed together just enough, just the right way to appreciate the plushness of them both, and John could feel it, he could feel Sherlock's jaw trembling ever so slightly. He loved it, really. It was the most beautiful thing he'd ever experienced and he made sure that it lasted a good while before they had to endure the most awkward yet comfortable silence in their time knowing each other.


Sherlock had many ideas, some, John was not so fond of, but ones like this, he couldn't help but bask in the sentiment oozing from his sociopathic lover.

The genius wanted to know if John could tell what he was saying through vibration by pressing his ear to his throat or chest. He'd read so many different results and trials and experiences from other deaf people, but his John was special and he needed to know that his special John could actually listen to him, even without actually hearing.

One night, Sherlock actually came to bed with John and explained what he wanted to try. John was interested, but doubted it would work. So, aside from Sherlock being shirtless, they cuddled in bed In their pajamas while John held his ear to Sherlock's throat. They both decided it was far too uncomfortable to do lying down so they resigned to John resting his head on Sherlock's chest instead. John closed his eyes and waited, his head rising and falling with each breath that this wonderful, brilliant, beautiful, prick of a man beneath him took. And then he felt it.

"John, if you can understand me right now, I think you are absolutely hideous and have the brain of a chimpanzee."

Sherlock waited for a reaction with a taunting smirk, positive to the bone that John would know what he had said and give him a good whack… John simply lifted his head to look at him, disappointment evident on his face, and gave a small shake. Sherlock frowned immediately and accepted a small kiss from the doctor as an attempt to cheer him up. It worked, but only slightly, and he certainly didn't show it.

"Keep talking. I like how it feels."

The doctor lowered his head back onto Sherlock's chest and wrapped his arms loosely around the pale body. A long arm draped over his shoulder and fingers grazed at his skin, teasing it into goose flesh. John fell asleep that night feeling Sherlock's voice, not hearing a word, only listening to the sound, and dreamed of Sherlock playing the cello on stage while he was the only person in the audience.


Breathe. Breathe. Just breathe. Nice even breaths. Don't waste your oxygen, John.

He had woken up in a box. It was pitch black, he had barely enough room to lift his phone to his face, and when he pushed too hard against the top, dirt fell through.

In his entire life, John Hamish Watson had never been so, to the core, terrified. Texting would take too long, he would probably be shaking too much anyway, the words would come out completely scrambled. So he did the one thing he knew he had to do, even if he didn't know if it would work.

He called Sherlock.

Calling… Calling… Calling… Connected.

"Sherlock… Sherlock I-" he was interrupted by a sob, "I don't know… I don't know what happened. Where I am… Sherlock, they buried me, I'm in a box in the bloody dirt, Sherlock, I don't know what to do, I can't… I can't keep myself together, I'm terrified. I don't know how much air I have, how much time… I'm sorry I said those things before I left, I didn't mean them, I swear. I was so angry- God, Sherlock I don't even know… What am I saying? I'm so scrambled I don't know what to do, tell me what to do, please- please- please-" John trailed off, repeating the word in a broken sob. He wasn't crying, not yet anyway, he just couldn't hear anything and now, in this dark little box, he couldn't see anything… Who wouldn't that scare?

"Um…" John sniffed and tried to collect himself, "Christ, okay, um, I- I don't know if you're still listening, but I'll try to remember some things… I was walking back home, I… I think I was on Linden street when the car pulled up, I didn't hear it, I just remember them grabbing me, bag over my head, tried to knock me out but it didn't work the first time, I was already in the car by the time everything blacked out. Um… Shit, ummm…. Wait… Wait, I feel something. I think I'm moving, like the dirt and box and everything, there's heavy vibration, rumbling… Sh-Sherlock, I think I'm in a truck or a… a… maybe a storage container at a shipping bay? Oh God, the nearest one is hours from… Shit… Ohhhh fuck, okay, okay, um… I don't know… I… I have a flash on my phone, it might not mean anything at this point but I could take a picture of the dirt. Um, hold on, let me do that."

John pulled the phone away to look at the screen and realized that the call had ended after twenty-two seconds. "No! Nooo! Fucking hell!" John bashed at the top of the box and thrashed his body around as much as he could, dirt trickling through with each shake. This is when the tears finally fell. But through the tears and the thrashing around, John noticed something written on the boards of the box in front of his face when the phone's light passed it several times. He stopped and breathed through his nose deeply several more times and slowly lifted the light of the screen to the message on the box.

'Hello pet, so sorry to inform you but it seems that Sherly has lost his cellular device. I say 'lost' but really, I have it! Oops! So silly! Anyway, so you should have enough air to hold you off till, oh, let's say 21:46? I do hope that sexy finds you, it would prove very interesting if he figured out this masterpiece. It is one of my finest puzzles after all. Best of luck, love! 3 Jimmy Boy'

John felt a disgusting shudder crawl down his spine, his breath shook violently one last time before holding it and turning the screen of the phone to himself.


"Sherlock… Please hurry… Please…"


He wakes up coughing into Sherlock's mouth, his ribs hurt, like he's been crushed, and he's covered in dirt. His mind is reeling and he's trying to put things together but all he sees and can think about is how incredibly horrified and happy Sherlock looks before pulling him up into an embrace. John's ear is pressed to Sherlock's neck and all he can hear and feel is laughter shaking through the other man's body. John's still in a haze, but he manages to wrap his arms around Sherlock and let only a single tear fall.

"I knew you'd find me. I knew you'd find me, Sherlock. I love you so much. I love you. I love you." John feels something wet and warm drip on his neck and he pretends he didn't feel it.

"I love you so much, John, I'm so sorry, I'll never let this happen again, I swear, I love you too, I love you John. I'll never let anyone hurt you again, never, never, never, never…"

As Sherlock trails off repeating the word again and again, rocking them both back and forth while Mycroft motions over the medics, John smiles and holds on a little tighter because he just heard Sherlock Holmes tell him that he loves him and he has no idea.


It's the last text Sherlock sends to John before he jumps.

He knows John will hate him for it. In fact, he's counting on it.

Doesn't make it any less painful.

'I'm a fake, it was all an act, the man you fell in love with never existed and he never will. Not anymore, at least. Goodbye, John. I really do love you, from the bottom of my previously non-existent heart. I'm so sorry. –SH'