Oh wow, that turned out long. I'd like to thank Sue for an "expression" prompt. I wasn't exactly sure where to go with this, but I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks again!
Clay is easily manipulated. It can be bent, pulled apart, thinned out, and carved into. It could be smooth or have texture added. Eventually, the clay will harden if left in the open. But if kept moist, it can be changed over and over again into thousands of different variations.
John's face was a like clay.
His skin would fold and pull away, showing different variations of each expression he could possibly show. If it couldn't be used as a vulnerability, Sherlock would be envious. Sure, Sherlock could pull an expression or two, but John's...John's were always genuine, even if he actually wasn't. The blond could pull any expression from his pocket and use it to his advantage. It had been quite helpful on a few occasions. John would calm a windowed wife, ask a few questions, and they'd have a lead to follow. Or when he decided to play a crooked officer. The expression of absolute greed flashing across his face when presented with a two gram bag of cocaine. All so believable, yet such a facade. But at the same time, he couldn't stop the expressions from showing. He couldn't hold a stoic face for the world. Sherlock didn't blame John. He had used year of isolation to practice his own void expression while John had used his expressions to comfort patients. Plus, it was always a advantage to see the expression than having to deduce it.
John was sitting in his arm chair, facing the fire place. He had made no noise since he'd come in an hour ago. The blond only shucked off his coat and let his stethoscope hang from the same hook. He pulled off his shoes and left them by the door before making a bee line to his chair. He hadn't even made himself tea. Sherlock had heard him come in, but waited in the kitchen. When John didn't come through, he stood and moved to the lounge.
He saw his John sitting with his back to the kitchen, not even flinching as his lover moved up next to him and laid a hand on his shoulder. John's lips were pulled down, the skin around it pulling tight from the decline. The skin around his eyes sagged, creases in full by the corner of of his eyes. His forehead had a deep crease across it while his brows were deeply furrowed. Sherlock gripped the blond's shoulder before moving to the fireplace. Throwing in a few logs and some charcoal ignition, he lit a match and eased the fire to a gentle flame. John was stressed. Work was not kind to him today.
Sherlock filed back into the kitchen and put on the kettle. When it finally whistled, the raven grabbed a mug and spooned a bit of sugar in it. He brought the hot tea to the table beside John. The good doctor still didn't move. He didn't even notice Sherlock fidgeting around him. The consulting detective allowed John his peace of mind. Instead, he plucked up his violin and flopped down on the sofa. Finding his bow, he stretched his arms and tucked the instrument under his chin. With a flourish, Sherlock brought his bow across the strings as he began to play. He couldn't stand silence when John was present. He needed John to talk, to complain, to make unnecessary noises that made Baker street home. Two full melodies later, John finally moved.
The blond let his body relax, shoulders losing their tension and furrow from his brows lightening. His blue eyes finally met Sherlock's. With a small smile, the raven laid his violin and bow on the sofa, and made his way to his arm chair across from his lover. He sat down, pulling his legs up to his chest, and waited. John glanced down at the tea. A small smirk finally rid him of the deep frown and creased brow.
"You made tea." John said. Sherlock wanted to be gentle, to ease the stress from John, but couldn't stand the way his face tried to force happiness while the creases screamed guilt.
"You lost someone." He replied, looking away from John. The blond pursed his mouth, opening it to snap out a bitter retort. The furrow returned to his brow, as did the crease across his forehead. His eye brows arched down, narrowing his eyes in anger. However, the expression melted away with a sigh. He knew what Sherlock was doing.
"Yes, a three year old girl passed after being hit by a car. Her aorta ruptured in a car accident. We were trying to artificially pump the blood, but she had lost too much. She died open on the table, blood on my hands." John explained, a deep sorrow shadowing him. The creases smoothed out on his forehead, but gathered near his mouth as he bit the inside of his lip. It was one thing for John to lose an adult patient. Even if it wasn't long, they had experienced life. But a child, one not even in primary school. Child death was harder.
"John, it wasn't your fault." Sherlock said. John shook his head, waving his head as he bit down harder on his bottom lip threatened to tremble.
"I'm over the guilt, love. I know it wasn't my fault. I didn't collide cars with her mother, but she was so young. She hadn't experienced anything in life." Sherlock pushed himself to his feet, nodding. He stood before John with his hand out stretched.
"Bed?" Sherlock offered. Relief washed over John's tanned face. The creases of his forehead retreated and his eyes fell into content crescents, lines of happiness forming in the corner of his eyes. A small twitched his lips, pulling the pink flesh up and creasing his cheeks to happy apples. Still smiling, he allowed for his lover to pull him to his feet and lead him to their bedroom.
Happiness exposed the crow's feet in the corners of his eyes. His smile highlighted the lines around his mouth and the age of bags under his eyes. Sadness pulled his brows to a furrow and the lines around his mouth lower as the pink flesh declined. Confusion brought upon one raised brow and an open mouth. Amusement washed a golden light over his face, eyes bright and so creased they were almost shut. His broad smile stretched the skin around his mouth so tight and pulled the laugh lines up. Tender love warmed John's face, the small smile not really touching creases as all tension left his body and only the raven remained on his mind. But there was one expression he rarely saw.
Sherlock didn't know what he was feeling. A nervous bubbling flipped his stomach, making him feel nauseous. His wrists were handcuffed to the radiator, forcing his body to remain seated on the floor with his hands behind him. No matter how hard he pulled, they wouldn't give. The feeling in his stomach only worsened. His chest grew tighter, veins cold as he kept his eyes on the man across the room. He couldn't see it, but he was sure his crystalline eyes were wide and mouth puckered from his teeth gnawing on the skin of his cheeks.
He was scared. He was truly terrified.
John was seated in a chair across the room. He was shirtless, the dim light showing the various scars from life littering his body and the blond patch of hair spotting his chest. John's head was being pulled back from the hand gripping the back of his neck. There was already blood dried to the side of his head from when they had been abducted. From the size, Sherlock guessed it was from the butt of the pistol being prodded to John's temple. John didn't flinch when the gun was introduced. He sat calmly and still with his hands in his lap. Sherlock wouldn't lie. He was a bit impressed with the blond's reaction. Soldier and all, John had been away from combat for some time now. He had definitely expected John to be a little worried.
But John's expression hadn't changed once. His lips were pulled into a tight line, his laugh lines smooth. His forehead and brow was devoid of any movement, even the creases around his eyes were still. It was one of the first times he had really seen John with a stiff face. His eyes were fierce, staring directly at Sherlock. When their captor moved around and moved the barrel of the gun to underneath John's chin, Sherlock pulled against his cuffs again as he watched. He almost smiled when John spit the residual blood in his mouth at the man's face. He whispered something and then brought his knee up in a quick movement. It made contact with the man's groin, who lost his balance. John grabbed the barrel of the gun and aimed.
One bullet. In the head.
John's hand didn't shake.
Once their captor was...incapacitated, John removed the clip and threw the gun down. He knelt down and searched for the keys in the man's pockets. Finding them, he hurried over to Sherlock and freed him. Sherlock's hands found John's face. His fingers traced the creases around his mouth, all slack, and then his brow. They were slightly furrowed, but his eyes still wide.
"S-Sherlock?" John asked, voice trembling. Sherlock launched his body forward, encasing John in his long arms.
"Thank you, John." He said.
Years of practice may have given Sherlock the ability to remain expressionless, but they had given John the ability to hide his fear. Only at that time was his normally expressive face so dead of every emotion. Every crease on his face was pulled tight. His eyes set in determination, body at the ready to react.
And to see that open, loving face missing any expression of lines, creases, or folds was strange. Nothing in the world terrified him more that seeing his lover so cold.
But then again, John would always be a soldier.
That wasn't too bad, was it? I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!