John knew his flatmate wasn't normal. Normal people didn't keep body parts in the fridge. Normal people didn't keep hazardous chemicals in the kitchen. Normal people didn't beat dead bodies to examine the bruising patterns.
All of those things, John could explain away as Sherlock being eccentric. But normal people die when they jump off of buildings. Normal people aren't able to jump off of buildings and only pretend to be dead, even though they're covered by in blood and should be paralyzed at the very least.
Sherlock isn't normal.
It wasn't until John did some research that he realized how abnormal he really was, and that Sherlock wasn't the only one.
Sherlock opened his eyes as John dropped a file on his chest. It had taken him months to try to understand, and now, a year after Sherlock's mysterious return, John thinks he understands.
"The Addams Family," Sherlock reads, voice and face neutral. "Infamous American characters. First drawings, then television shows, then movies and other commercialization. May I ask why you gave me this?" He shakes the file in his hand for emphasis.
"Because," John says levelly, trying to keep his expression neutral. "They're not normal. They don't seem to mind dead bodies or hazardous chemicals, and their food choices are 'exotic' to say the least."
"And?" Sherlock drawls, dropping the file on the table and resuming his thinking pose. "You believe that I should go and live with them, as I clearly am like them?"
"I think you lived with them before," John says, causing Sherlock's eyes to open once more. "Maybe not them, but someone like them? It makes too much sense Sherlock. Normal people die when they jump off of buildings. From what I've gathered, that would barely inconvenience an Addams. Apparently Gomez jumped out of a plane without a parachute and was perfectly fine."
Sherlock sniffed. "That's overrated. Anybody can do that."
"Normal people can't," John reminded him.
"Normal's boring," Sherlock muttered, before sitting up to face John.
Sherlock sighed. "The Addams Family aren't real," Sherlock began, holding up a hand when John was going to interrupt, "But Charles Addams got his inspiration from real people. There was a family in America, they could still be there for all I know, but they weren't what you would call normal. Children played with gallows with trap doors, guillotines, and battleaxes, all provided by their family. Roses and other flowers looked much better without the petals, meals consisted of horse or alligator, or other such 'exotic' fare, with nightshade or belladonna for seasoning. They weren't normal, but they had learned how to be, to stay hidden."
"Hidden?" John questioned. He'd been listening with rapt attention, knowing that he'd get to Sherlock's secret somewhere along the line, but the last word confused him.
"Think John," Sherlock sighed. "If 'ordinary people' found out that children were allowed to play with dynamite, would they be allowed to stay with their parents? If it became widely known that a certain group of people enjoyed pain and suffering, and were very hard to kill? They would be locked up, experimented on. Just imagine what someone like Moriarty could do."
John shuddered. "So Moriarty wasn't…"
"Moriarty was evil," Sherlock replied, "But he was ordinary. A bullet killed him, after all."
John had several questions about that, but Sherlock was speaking again so he held his tongue.
"When the television company decided to make a series about Addams' cartoons, he asked the family first. If it ever got out that Addams' family was real…Well, it wouldn't have been pleasant, as I've said. The family discussed the pros and cons, and the deciding factor was that it would be easier to blend in if they had a bit more room to express themselves. If they did something mildly abnormal, like keep a spider for a pet, well, they were fans of the tv show, so why not. As the Addams Family became more popular, pretending to be normal became easier. Hiding was still necessary, but some of their more ordinary oddities were easily explained away, moreso than before."
John nodded to show he was still listening as Sherlock paused for breath.
"There aren't many, but there is more than one family. Not all of them reside in America, obviously."
"You're from one of the families?" John guessed.
Sherlock nodded. "The Holmes family has done their job well, pretending to be normal so often that no one suspects a thing. Very few people study history, and so no one notices that I am not the first Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, that has been written about."
"Pardon?" John asks incredulously.
Sherlock rises without a word and goes to his room. John hears him rummaging about in there for something, and when he returns he has his arms full of papers in plastic covers. He places them on the coffee table before picking the first up off the stack and handing it to John.
"A Study in Scarlet," John reads, before freezing as he saw the name. John H. Watson, M.D. How the hell…?
"He was my Boswell," Sherlock says, and his eyes are far away. Looking at him, John notices the pale blue eyes seem more grey in this light. He has an abrupt flash of memory.
"I think that I had better go Holmes."
"Not a bit Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell."
"You told me that," John says slowly, trying to figure out how he knew that. "When you were talking to the King of Bohemia."
Sherlock's eyes snapped to focus on him. "You remember? How much?"
"Just that," John said ruefully. "How…?"
"Possibly some of your memories are returning because you are handling possessions of your former self," Sherlock mused, "Or it is possible that you have always remembered subconsciously, but you needed my acknowledgement to realize it."
"This is more complicated than I thought it was going to be," John groaned, images of chasing after criminals with Sherlock, with Holmes, then and now.
"And asking your flatmate if he is part of the Addams Family was going to be easy?" Sherlock asked, smirking.
"Well, I knew there was always something off about you," John retorted, "It was figuring out what that was the problem."
Sherlock shook his head, smiling. "As always John, you surprise me. I remember the first time you realized something was off about me. There was no Addams Family for you to research, so you turned to horror stories. You learned about my deviancy before you learned of my abnormality."
"Deviancy…?" John said, half-questioning, half-musing. Watson had confronted Holmes about being a deviant. He had kissed Holmes! "I guess my claims of not being gay…"
"Irritating," Sherlock muttered. "You were more comfortable before. Society condemned you, but you didn't care. You're pretty wife was curious, of course."
"Wife?" John asked, confused. His memories were returning sluggishly, but he thought he vaguely knew what Sherlock was on about. "I was married? But, I thought…"
"That we were together?" Sherlock finished. At John's nod, he sighed. "We were John, but think. Two men living together, neither showing any interest in finding a pretty girl to settle down with. I was eccentric enough that no one ever expected me to marry, and I appeared heartless so no one would imagine that I was a deviant. You though, you were upstanding and respectable, and it only made sense for you to marry sometime."
"So I got married…?" John said, waiting for Sherlock to finish.
Sherlock shrugged. "You bought a medical practice and relocated to live with your wife. I would steal you away to help on cases, occasionally manufacturing one simply for an excuse to spend time together, and no one was the wiser."
Seeing John's surprised expression, he added, "We weren't together, in the carnal sense, whilst Mary was alive. Once I returned however, we resumed our prior relationship with minor fuss."
"I can't believe this," John muttered, glancing from the pile of papers in front of him to his flatmate, who had apparently been alive for several hundred years.
Sherlock smiled briefly before retreating to his room once more, returning with several worn, leather-bound journals. "The cases you wrote up for The Strand will aid your memory, but these will probably help as well."
John took the journals from Sherlock, flipping open the top one to read. The Private Journal of John H. Watson.
"You kept these hidden, of course, as if anyone found them we would have landed in gaol. I hadn't known of their existence; you were forever scribbling away with something while I conducted experiments. I had thought it was for your cases or correspondence, nothing more. However, in the end, you revealed their existence to me, imploring me to burn them so no one found them and punished me. I couldn't comply with that order, however, and I kept them, hidden so that no one would suspect." Sherlock's voice had gone quiet at the end, and there was a sadness in his eyes that seemed ageless.
"Sherlock…" John said, trying to think of something to say to comfort the other man. Finding nothing, he decided to distract him. "So, how old are you? You've apparently been alive since the other John Watson was writing about you, so you have to be…" he cut himself off when Sherlock shook his head.
"No John, I haven't been alive that long," Sherlock said, a small smile on his face. "God forbid. Can you imagine how bored I would have been, especially without my Boswell to distract me?"
"Then how…?" John asks, realizing belatedly that he has no idea why he can remember both Sherlock and Holmes, even though Holmes is still a bit fuzzy.
"Reincarnation John," Sherlock said, shrugging. "I have no idea why, but after I died I came back. It was odd, knowing so much and yet so little. It was an entirely new challenge, and yet, for all that I am the Holmes that is in those stories, I am also different, just as you are different from Watson."
"Why did you always remember both lives, while I didn't even know until now?" John asks, slightly peeved.
"I believe that, while your conscious mind wouldn't acknowledge it, your subconscious remembered your past life. Consider how alike you and Watson are. Both ex-soldiers, wounded in Afghanistan. Both returning to England and needing a flatshare. Both deciding to trust a madman to share rooms with you."
"He was a doctor too," John said, tracing the worn leather of the top journal.
"Indeed," Sherlock said, and his voice was warm as he said, "He patched me up a fair few times. Of course, the wounds were trivial, but still…"
"Trivial for you or for anyone?" John muttered sardonically, and Sherlock flashed him an amused smile.
"You are just as accepting of this as Watson was," Sherlock said approvingly. "He had listened to my odd tale with fascination, yet he never accused me of simply making up a tall tale."
John nodded, still trying to wrap his head around all of this. His friend was from a family similar to the Addams Family. John was a reincarnation of himself from the 1800's, where he ran around after Sherlock's past self, then called Holmes. He had been in a relationship with Holmes for nearly as long as he had known the other man.
John shook his head. One thing that did make sense, the one constant that never changed, is that life with Sherlock Holmes is anything but boring.