(Sorry about the multiple mails those of you received who follow me, but this site is rather misbehaving and gave me hell publishing this story ...)
Sherlock has returned to John, but he is changed and everything that once was between them is gone. John finds himself thinking the unthinkable: He wishes Sherlock had never returned.
Dark Matter is a post-Reichenbach reunion fic which is going to be a bit darker and very likely a bit more graphic than what I usually write. Johnlock obviously…
Here comes the first chapter. Enjoy reading!
'Don't be an idiot, John! Did you not listen to me? I will not repeat myself, so do keep up for God's sakes!' Sherlock snapped. 'Or are you as imbecilic as the rest of them? Why on earth do I have to put up with you lot?'
John's head shot up and he fixed his dark eyes on Sherlock who was crouching next to the corpse, opposite John. He was busy examining the victim's hand, squinting intently at a defense wound at the right ring finger through his pocket magnifying glass. Looking at him, absorbed as he was, in mute concentration, one could be tricked into believing that he had not spoken at all. But his words were still ringing in John's ear, his low, sibilant and angry voice still echoing in his heart.
John sat back on his heels and gulped down the uneasy feeling that was rising like bile in his mouth. Embarrassed, he let his eyes dart around the room to check if anybody had overheard. His gaze met Lestrade's who stood maybe two yards away, arms crossed in front of his chest and one eyebrow raised questioningly. So he had heard.
John dipped his chin and lightly shook his head. No, he would not explain. Would not explain why Sherlock had fairly spat out his insults. Could not explain why steel, venom even, had been underlying those words and that they had been laced with contempt.
'John!' Sherlock demanded now, still not looking up, but stretching out his hand and wiggling his fingers impatiently. John knew what was wanted and grudgingly handed him his torchlight. But he immediately got up as he felt the urge to put a distance between himself and Sherlock's demeanour. Without thinking he positioned himself at the farthest end of the wall, away from Lestrade and Sherlock, crossing his arms defensively in front of his chest, effectively cutting himself off from the situation. Lestrade, sensing that something was wrong, turned his attention to him. 'John, what can you tell me so far?'
'I – um,' John uncrossed his arms and stretched his chest, allowing himself to grow again. He glanced at Sherlock who was still busy examining the victim, ostensibly paying them no heed. 'Multiple stab wounds to the lower abdomen and to the heart, one or two of them fairly deep from what I could see. I'd say the multitude of the stabs was lethal. The perpetrator used a thin, serrated knife judging from the edge of the wounds. Strangulation marks on the neck, not recent though, but a few days old …'
'And as always missing out on all the vital clues.' Sherlock rudely interrupted and turned around to them with a flourish, making his coat billow out behind him dramatically, offering everyone a glimpse of the old Sherlock. 'She was obviously only dumped here, and murdered somewhere else. I'd say a wine cellar or a largish humid basement room more likely, going by the damp spots and the marks on her back and the distinct mouldy smell clinging to her clothes.'
Brusque, but professional again, he had taken on his perfected, impassive detective persona, making his outburst from just a moment ago almost unbelievable. Nonetheless he sounded bored, none of the usual fascinating sparkle around him. Confused John focused on Sherlock and tried to read him while he was rattling off his deductions in an efficient, but detached way. He could not as he was unable to see behind the façade of Sherlock's face which was impenetrable, cold and distant.
'Right,' Lestrade finally said, pensively scratching his three-day-stubble. 'Well, I can promise we'll try to get this wrapped up as soon as possible. But we might need you again. Could you both come to the Yard, let's say … tomorrow morning for the paperwork?'
'Certainly. Though I don't see what you would need John for,' Sherlock coldly said and strutted out of the room.
Sherlock left it to John to pay the cabbie. When John turned around Sherlock had already unlocked the door to 221B and had vanished inside, not waiting for him. Uneasiness crept into his soul, fear filled his heart, and anger made him clench his fists. Straightening his back he adopted his military stance, seeking assurance in the posture that was part of his personality, part of his strength.
Four weeks had passed since Sherlock had become a part of his life again. Four weeks had passed since John had learnt that Sherlock was indeed not dead, was not buried and had been mourned in vain – In short, four weeks had passed since John had learned that Sherlock had been mocking them all.
And for John Watson four weeks were not enough time by far to adapt to the fact that Sherlock Holmes was back and alive and breathing and frankly driving him mad.
Four bloody weeks!
If anything they had reached an impasse in their anger so far, John being unable to forgive and Sherlock being completely changed, a shadow of his former self. They barely spoke, they merely co-existed, and today had marked a new low in their relationship when Sherlock had chosen to publicly humiliate him in front of Lestrade and his men.
John angrily pushed open the door that had not closed completely and slipped into the hall. With an air of finality he shut the heavy entrance door behind him and ascended the stairs to their flat. Sherlock was nowhere to be seen, but his coat was carefully slung over the hook at the back of the living room door, his scarf draped on top of the coat. At least some things never change, John thought and with a defeated sigh he slipped out of his black jacket. His feet took him into the kitchen on their own volition and he gladly embraced the idea of brewing a cuppa, as much as to busy himself as to think and calm down –
I will be damned if I go after him - no way – this is going too far – this is bloody insufferable –
Those past four weeks Sherlock had been at his worst, cold, harsh, snarky and taking impatience to a new level, even for his standards. Where there had been a silent understanding between them before, there was an abyss filled with nothingness now. Suppressed anger, ill-tempered retorts, curses hissed under their breath and silly misunderstandings marked their every interaction. And where they had been on the brink of taking the leap and becoming more than friends, there was only coldness and a rift between them seemingly too wide to bridge.
John leaned against the sink and looked out of the window. His glance flickered to the left where he could see Sherlock's bedroom window. The room was dark, but he thought he made out a shadow moving away as if he had been standing at the window and had felt watched and bothered once John had looked in his direction. John scoffed and turned around, facing the cluttered kitchen. With a shrill whistling the kettle indicated that the water was boiling and John tore his thoughts away from this infuriating madman to busy himself with the well-practised and calming motions of preparing a cup of tea.
Sherlock did never leave his room that evening and John spent the remaining hours of the day in his usual chair catching up on a novel he had wanted to read ages ago. At half eleven when concentration had failed him for the umpteenth time he gave up and called it a day.
A splitting headache had formed behind his temples and his whole body was tingling with unresolved tension. It was weighing him down, the way they dealt with each other, every hurled word, every hissed answer making it more than evident that they had lost their ease, the intimacy they had established while living together, their closeness. Everything was gone!
And there were times John when found himself staring at this sad image of Sherlock, at this imposter, marvelling at this ridiculous version of his former life that fate had chosen to throw at him – sniggering and giggling somewhere in the background, no doubt.
John put down the book on the coffee table with a thud and left the living room. The absolute silence permeating the whole flat reminded him once again of the time before Sherlock had returned. He hesitated in the hallway for a moment, listening for any sign of life, but when no sound indicated that Sherlock was still awake, he continued his way upstairs.
Slowly and deliberately John put his feet onto the first, then the second and third step, walking up the wooden stairs to his room, but with every step an unspeakable thought started to materialise inside his head, a thought that frightened him, and one that he did not want to pursue –
I almost wish Sherlock had not come back. I wish he'd left me bloody well alone –
John swallowed thickly and stopped in his tracks for a moment, forcing this thought to become less insistent and to finally leave him. Tiredly he dragged his feet up the last remaining steps to his room and once inside he firmly closed the door on this bloody day.
Sherlock sat on the floor in the corner of his room, in complete darkness, his legs drawn up and hugging his knees to his chest. The walls hemming him gave him security and a sense of safety. He was slightly rocking back and forth in a never-ending, dulling, numbing motion. Closed eyes and twitching lips indicated that he was busy filing away bits and pieces in his mind palace. He was up to the last few months of his odyssey, defragmenting, compartmentalising, dehumanising everything that had happened to him, and everything he had been forced to do to others.
Images of knives, of blood rushed past him, the scent of betrayal and bribery tickled his nose and made him retch and the smell of sex and death assaulted him so that he had to avert his head in a desperate attempt to avoid it.
It took him one, two, three hours and when he finally stopped rocking, slowly calming down, it was as if he came to, awaking as from a trance. Letting his legs slip to the floor he hung his head. Beads of moisture trickled down his neck and back as he was drenched in sweat and his dark curls were plastered to his skull. He opened his eyes and gingerly got up, wincing when the blood started pulsing through his limbs again, making him aware of his life –
A mere existence more likely, an existence he had already come to despise, along with everything that had once made him whole. What had happened in the last three years had been done with the sole purpose of destroying Moriarty's web. The only target, pushing him forward, driving him on, had been the restoration of his own reputation, thus enabling him to return to his old life.
And now that he was back - How did it feel to have everything he had so desperately fought for?
His work, once the motivator of his entire being, was no longer enough to fulfill him, allowing boredom and restlessness to race through his mind and soul almost constantly. His heart was dulled towards his friends and family: Lestrade was plain and boring, Mycroft still insufferable - at least that had not changed.
And what about John? Life at 221B was alien to him, John strangely irritating, and yet, and yet - his presence had so far proved the only thing that had had the power to dampen the chaos in his mind, if only temporarily. But he could not interact with him anymore, there was something hanging between them, something that made him shy away.
And today he had lost it, had snapped at him, had let his irritation erupt unguarded. When Sherlock became aware of the paradox his mind had just created, his lips curled into something resembling a smile. He almost winced with the motion as he was so unused to it that it hurt like a phantom pain.
He ran cold fingers through his hair and over his face, trying to coerce some life back into his dead body. A glance at his watch told him that it was half past two. Sherlock knew that John had gone to bed hours ago and so he grabbed fresh clothes and went to take a shower. He could not deny a resistance he had to overcome, a kind of disgust even, every time he undressed and had to face what had become of him. His body had never held any fascination or mysteries for him, but the last three years had taught him to despise himself.
When Sherlock entered the bathroom he shied away from the glaring light and decided to leave the door open to let the dim light filter in from the hallway. He quickly undressed and stepped into the shower, all the while avoiding his reflection in the mirror, thankful for the steam that soon filled the bathroom and clouded up the glaring glass. When he washed his hair, his fingers brushed over one of the healed wounds on his scalp and he flinched, the memory still fresh, not yet covered with a scab.
Not a scar yet.
Refreshed, Sherlock slinked into the dark living room in his catlike gait, still not bothering to turn on any lights. His night vision was excellent and his senses pleasantly heightened in the almost full darkness. Well, as full as darkness could be in a city as polluted by light as London - very unlike some other places his chase had taken him.
Sherlock stopped dead in his tracks when the memories triggered by this thought washed over him as sharp as shards of broken glass. Standing in the middle of the room, he was slightly swaying as if dodging particularly unpleasant ones. In a moment of slight inattentiveness a wave of utter loneliness hit him, took hold of him, and would not budge no matter what dance his brain performed, what manoeuvres his intellect proposed and it assaulted him, fulfilled him and consumed him.
Sherlock sank down to his knees to wait out the weakness, but it would not let go, making his breathing go ragged and white stars dance in front of his eyes. Involuntarily he snarled, trying to frighten it away, but no …
On impulse he got up and fairly bounded up the stairs to the second floor, taking two steps at a time with his naked feet. His consciousness only kicked into gear and made him realise what he was doing once he had opened the door and found himself standing in the middle of John's bedroom listening to the calming steady breathing of his sleeping flatmate.
Surprised he blinked and recoiled slightly, but he did not retreat. Instead he shakily exhaled, breathing through the abating panic, and turned to close the door firmly behind him.
In the dim light of the street lights falling through the window he could make out the bed and walked over to him. He stood still for a moment, undecided, listening to the deep breathing indicating sound and safe sleep. Tentatively he reached out into the darkness, but snatched back his hand almost immediately. He knew that he would neither disturb nor touch him.
Quietly Sherlock lowered himself onto the carpeted floor next to John's bed. Leaning his back against the wooden and sturdy bed frame he finally felt the chaos in his mind become less persistent. He consciously breathed in and out a few times and a certain pleasant numbness settled over him like a fine mist. It was not enough, though, and he tried to make out John's breathing in the dark room, willing to synchronize it with his own.
And listening to their synchronized breathing he managed to calm down and to marginally relax for the first time in ages.
Thank you for reading. As always, your feedback is very much loved and appreciated ;-D JJ