My response to the JohnLockChallenges, a gift for cdngingergirl and her prompt: "Everyone knows Sherlock grew up privileged with money. Unbeknownst to anyone, John also grew up in a place even more posh than Sherlock, if possible. He just turned his back on it. I'd like to see Sherlock's reaction when he finds that John's been keeping it from him all this time, and why."
There was no way of telling for sure when it had started. If John had to pick a point, it was right after the Throwing Knives case, but even that was just guesstimating, and after how many years of being flatmates, John still couldn't say he was doing any less seeing and any more observing. But he had been a rare help on occasion with noticing some things before the great Sherlock Holmes, thank you very much. And this time, it was the silence that had caught his attention.
Because until now, Sherlock had only ever been three kinds of silent: the kind that lasted a full case at times, where his mind whirred almost visibly despite the fact that he was usually inhumanly still. The kind that came with little sleep and no eating and comings and goings that were surely all part of some experiment but still had John sneaking twenty quid to the Homeless Network to keep an eye on him. And finally, the kind where there was nothing. Not even movement sometimes. Just a ghost of a man wandering about in a focus-less state of depression John had only ever witnessed on maybe three accounts, one of which during the catastrophe that had been Irene Adler. It was in these thankfully rare moments of silence that John found he could do little more than search the flat for drugs, assure Mycroft that he would see this "danger night" through for Sherlock as best he could, and simply wait for the silence to be over. Of all the silences that came with Sherlock Holmes, John had been certain that this was the worst.
But that was because the silence had never been directed at him.
At first it seemed almost textbook tantrum for Sherlock, blatantly avoiding eye contact, walking over furniture, ignoring John's occasional attempts at conversation. But it was the things in between, the glaring when Sherlock thought he wasn't looking, the rare mumble of words too under Sherlock's breath for John to decipher but just audible enough to recognize the tone. Annoyed, maybe. Or aggravated. Probably both. It wasn't hard to guess that John was the reason for it, but why? What had he done to deserve such a fierce, albeit childish, display of contempt? And every time John made a subtle-and sometimes not so subtle-attempt at asking, Sherlock offered him no more than a telltale roll of the eyes, as if John's lack of understanding was his fault, that the answer to their dispute should be obvious. It was nearly as bad as "The Look." Maybe worse. Because this time it wasn't John's intelligence in question, it was his common sense, his ability to read a situation and determine his role in it. Well sod that then. If Sherlock wasn't going to be reasonable about it, then neither was he.
So the next time Lestrade phone Sherlock with the details of the case, Sherlock throwing on coat and scarf and heading for the door with all the airs of someone expecting John to follow, John stayed seated. It took Sherlock getting all the way out to the curb for him to notice, the sound of him rushing back up the stairs almost drawing a smirk from the doctor, except that he was too pissed off to care.
True to form, Sherlock just stared at him from the door, brows furrowed in a look of frustrated confusion that seemed to ask, "And you're not coming why?" But the fact that he couldn't end his immature bout of the silent treatment enough to ask outright was all John needed to finally snap.
"I'm not following you anywhere until you tell me what the fuck I could have possibly done to merit the bloody coldest shoulder this planet has ever seen." John huffed, grabbing the newspaper from the side table and settling deeper into the couch. Glancing over the top of it allotted him half a second view of Sherlock genuinely, physically stuck between going off to Lestrade anyway, or staying giving John the explanation he wanted, eyes darting from John to the stairway and back before succumbing with a sigh.
Slipping a hand into his coat pocket, he walked up to John and removed two pieces of torn paper, dropping them onto the other side of the still erect newspaper and into John's lap. John put the paper aside and picked them up, putting the two pieces together where they'd been torn. Or rather… where John had torn the two weeks ago. John frowned.
"Where did you get this?" John's voice was stern, but it didn't little to budge the look of contempt on Sherlock's face. No, not quite contempt. Something similar but more specific. John thought back to where he'd been when he'd thrown it away, his frown only deepening. "Why were you going through my trash."
"That's not the issue here," Sherlock straightened, unwavering. John rolled his eyes.
"Oh, it speaks!" John got to his feet. "And it is an issue, Sherlock! One of many, I can assure you. Now what were you doing rifling through my-"
"I assumed that check was from Mycroft." Sherlock ignored him. "You've done well to avoid his attempts at charity before, but I could only conclude he'd won you over. It was a sizable amount." John was stunned, eyes narrowing at the implication.
"It wasn't from Mycroft." John spat.
"I know." Sherlock walked past him, picking up the pieces of cheque from where John had left them on the couch. "I looked into it, obviously." Sherlock looked at him then. "It's from your parents."
The rush of heat to his face was nothing in comparison to the pain in his chest. John expected little from Sherlock when it came to privacy, but even this… "You had not right." John fumed, reaching out to snatch the cheque out of Sherlock's hands and shove the crumpled pieces into his pocket.
"I just don't understand why you would choose to lie about something like this," Sherlock shook his head, the truth of his lack of understanding evident.
John ran a hand over his face, muttering, "Lie about what exactly?"
"You said you didn't come from money." There it was. That look John couldn't identify. It was betrayal. John was almost surprised. But he was too worked up for the guilt to latch on.
"I implied, you assumed, and the assumption was better than the truth, so I left it at that." John offered matter-of-factly. But Sherlock was unenthused.
"Just…" Sherlock gritted his teeth. "Explain to me why."
For a second, it was unclear whether Sherlock was more upset about being "lied to" or because he didn't completely understand something. The internal struggle was so Sherlock, that John found himself sighing in reluctant defeat. There was no having it really. Whether Sherlock really did feel betrayed at this knowledge about his family or not, John owed him at least an explanation for why he'd kept it from him.
"Yeah, alright fine. Sit down," John groaned, lowering himself back onto the couch and running a hand through his hair. "It was from Harry, I'm sure you found out. She sends me a cheque every year for my birthday, and every year it goes right where you found it." Sherlock raised an eyebrow, the "Why?" just about to leave his lips before John went on. "I'm sure you figured it out then, that my family's pretty well off. But that money's my parents. Not mine. I gave up all right to it when I disowned them." Sherlock's eyes widened at that and John had to suppress a scoff. "It's kind of stupid, but I stand by what I did. Especially at the time."
John sighed, remembering the awful fight, the way his mother had cried, the way Harry had watched him leave from her bedroom window with nothing but his jacket and a duffle-bag packed with the few things he hadn't taken to college. He'd worked the entire next year, applied for everything he could get his hands on, just so that he could keep going to school without having to rely on a single cent that wasn't his. "My dad didn't take too kindly to Harry coming out. Mum was better, sure, but no one really stands up to my dad. Well, not till me, I guess. They threatened to disown here, so I beat them to it, told them that disowning her meant disowning me, and before they could consider it, I left." The look on Sherlock's face was perplexed, trying to follow, trying to understand, but John knew him better than anyone. This was the sort of thing that the Great Sherlock Holmes would always have trouble with.
"They didn't disown her after all," John went on. "But only under the condition that she never speak of it again. And whoever she chose to date wasn't welcome in their house until Harry got past the whole "lesbian" phase. My dad's words, not mine. But she agreed. After I stuck up for her like that… and she still agreed." John's sigh was all but exhausted. He rubbed at his eyes until he saw stars. "She'd always relied on them too much. And when she started drinking, their money became indispensable, I guess. That cheque is her way of trying to make it up to me, I think. Spending the money on me instead of the booze. But I won't touch it. Not after what they did. Not when they think Harry being an alcoholic is better than her being gay. And not when Harry doesn't seem to care either which way about any of it: the way they've treated her, how I stood up for, how her choices drove Clara away. It's just… not worth it."
John didn't realize how much he'd been rambling, his short explanation drawing out into a practical therapy session somehow, Sherlock gazing at him like an experiment, analyzing his body language, his words, his occasional sigh like it might tell him something about humanity as a whole. Like John was his guinea pig, not his friend. It wasn't the first time those eyes had looked at him like that, but it was the first time they'd ever made him feel so pathetic. John got to his feet, feeling far too tired and heavy for what came out of his mouth.
"Enough of that then. I promise not to "keep things from you" like that again, alright? So just forget about it. We going to the Yard or what? Lestrade's probably furious."
It took long enough for John to grab his coat and start heading down the stairs before Sherlock finally got up, watching John so closely it was almost uncomfortable. The weight of the torn cheque was painful in his pocket, like the crumpled up edges had grown sharp, pocking him in the sides all the way to Scotland Yard, through Lestrade's explanation of their latest case, evidence, victims, and back to 221B, Sherlock silent but for a few comments on the case. John hung up his coat once inside and threw the cheque in the bin under the sink. If Sherlock wasn't satisfied enough to leave it be now, they had bigger issues to deal with then cancelling a check.
After a shower and some dinner, John found himself back on the couch, laptop rested on his knees and fingers nit picking away at the newest entry for his blog. He was absorbed enough that he didn't register Sherlock's presence until he cleared his throat. John almost startled, fingers hovering over the keys as he looked up. Sherlock wasn't looking up at him, but his arm was outstretched between them, a still steaming cup of tea held out in John's direction. John raised an eyebrow at him but carefully took it, placing it beneath his nose and taking in the soothing aroma. It appeared to have just the right about of milk, no sugar. Exactly how he took it.
Sherlock sat down next to him, a cup of tea in hand as well, and popped open his own lap top, fingers working at inhuman speed over the keys once it booted up. John only spared him another glance before going back to work, occasionally raising the tea to his lips and taking a sip.
Eventually, Sherlock's voice broke the silence was a simple, "John?" John stopped typing again, looking over at his friend, one foot tucked up underneath him, his eyes locked on the screen. John made a noncommittal noise to show he was listening. Sherlock kept up a decent rhythm of typing as he said the word, "Sentiment?"
John almost laughed, knowing this and the cup of tea was about as close to an apology as he was ever going to get. And more than he'd expected, certainly. Maybe Sherlock didn't completely understand, but unlike with most people, at least with John he tried to. Strangely, John found that it was enough. "Yeah," John smirked. "Sentiment."