Like A Landslide
Second part to "Private Ponderings". You do not have to read that one first, but I've been told that it is more fun if you do. :-)
Each chaper still follows a prompt, that being a list of words that need to be in the chapter, all starting with the same letter. The so-called "L-list" was collected by very creative members of the wonderful forum and contained 144 words, all starting with L.
Thanks to Davina for betaing.
Sherlock Holmes is in love.
It had taken John H. Watson an inexcusable amount of time to give in to it, but in his defence it must be said that (a) at first, he had thought they would have limitless time to figure it all out and (b) he had been so lonely and completely broken after Sherlock's faked death that even Sherlock's return had not mended John's heart instantly. And, of course, (c) he had been engaged by the time Sherlock finally decided to confess.
Many people would probably also bring up the facts that (d) Sherlock is an egoistic lunatic and (e) dangerous to be with, but that has never stopped John from loving him before.
Sometimes, John wonders how his life would have turned out had he not accidentally found the email Sherlock had written to Mary. The email that included twenty points on how to make John happy.
On the fourth morning after telling Sherlock he loves him too, by writing it on a post-it, John wakes up feeling warm and content. In Mary's house in Kensington, he always woke up freezing, but there is something about 221b that makes him feel warm inside.
One the one hand it surely is because Baker Street is home, no matter how hard John had tried to deny that at length during the last two years. On the other hand, it is because Sherlock really meant what he had written to Mary in point 1 of The List. The one Mary thought to be a distasteful joke, "John prefers rooms warm. Make sure the indoor temperature is always around 21°. He will not complain when too cold, so keep an eye on the thermostat."
They will spend a fortune with the next utility bill.
Oh, and of course the feeling of warmth comes from Sherlock leeching on to him every morning. After only four nights John can already tell how deeply Sherlock is sleeping by the way his lanky limbs are sprawled out around John's body. When they are limp, Sherlock is still slumbering peacefully. When there is a slight tremor in them, he dreams. When there is tension in them, he is already awake, deducing what John dreamt from John's breathing pattern or whatever. When his hands are sliding down lustfully, past John's navel, he is lewd.
The idea that Sherlock is content just lying in bed, holding John sometimes lovingly and sometimes lecherously still feels strange, but whenever John wakes up there is always a certain amount of Sherlock covering John's body.
This morning, Sherlock is still sleeping. One of his legs is resting on John's pelvis, one of his arms is lying on John's shoulder while his face is pressed against John's neck. That man is as limber as a cat. The idea of Sherlock's lush lips against his neck makes John shiver with lust.
This subtle movement is enough to wake up Sherlock. John feels him pressing against his back, feels Sherlock's libido waking up as well, and quickly wonders if they had left the lubricant somewhere within reach yesterday. If not, he would be ready to settle for some licking. He anticipates Sherlock's hot lips onto his neck, but to his surprise nothing happens.
After a while, he turns around to face Sherlock. Unlike on the last three mornings, there is no leering smile on his friend's lips, but a thoughtful look. "Are you all right?" he asks when Sherlock does not say something but continues to stare into John's eyes. For a second, John gets lost in these wonderful, lustrous, funny-coloured eyes.
"You cannot imagine how lonely I've been without you. Or how lovesick," Sherlock confesses then, quietly, and John's heart swells. Well, not only his heart, to be true, but he is only human, after all.
Sherlock's laughter is warm and gentle. "How very convenient that I have brought lots of lube last week when you said we would only need one tube," he points out, as immodest as always, and John has to chuckle as well.
He cannot remember a single time he had sex with Mary while giggling. What a shame.
Sherlock is sitting on the ground somewhere in London, leaning against a lamppost, without the slightest idea of where and why. His mind is too slow to figure it out. Coldness is seeping into his body, unpleasantly, disturbingly. His back is cold, his legs are cold, his left hand that is lying limp-wristed on the ground next to his body is cold. The only warm spot is his belly and his right hand that is pressed against said belly, for some obscure reason.
And his brain is too slow.
He tries to get up but his legs give in almost instantly and he sinks back to the cold ground. Loneliness fills him and the strange feeling that John is late for something.
Why is his right hand not cold? He wants to look down to his belly to find out but is scared that he will not have enough energy to lift his head again afterwards. After a while, he lets his head sink down anyway. His brain needs too much time to make sense of the red liquid he sees, straining his white shirt and his belly and the ground. It is lukewarm, thus his non-cold right hand.
Blood. More than a litre, his sluggish mind offers, unable to pinpoint the exact amount. His head hurts, he is thirsty. Where is John?
Steps in the alley, someone shouting. The beeping sound in Sherlock's ears is too loud to understand, but the resonance the voice leaves in Sherlock's stomach tells him it is John. He wishes he could raise his head for he is longing to see John's face.
Then John is looming over him larger than life, touching his face, raising Sherlock's head so their eyes can lock. Talking, incomprehensible words. Doing something to Sherlock's belly. Darkness closing in from the rims of his vision. John face, always so expressive. Now: concerned, scared, guilty, compassionate, determined. Eyes wide open in fear.
"Your eyes are looking lovely," Sherlock whispers, the most important thing to say on his mind right now. John freezes, then talks again. Soothing stream of warm timbre. Liquefied words, bathing him in security, like sunlight in the afternoon. John is his home. Sherlock reaches out for him, catching him by his arm, clings to it with force.
Sirens coming closer, darkness getting darker. Suddenly there is pain in his belly, burning his breathe away. It is vital now not to let go of John's arm. The look in John's eyes hurts more than the wound Sherlock still cannot remember receiving.
He needs to concentrate on breathing, for some reason it does not happen on its own any longer. And he needs to cling to John's arm. No matter how dark it gets.
Suddenly there are footsteps, running, more voices. Paramedics? They are loud and annoying and they disturb his already limited concentration. But he needs to concentrate, on breathing and on clinging to John, to his lifeguard. He feels hands, feels lateral movement, does not understand why.
His head must be lying flat on the ground now for he can see the luminous blue sky behind the stranger's faces. His eyes dart around, feverishly looking for John, for his lighthouse in the midst of this chaos. He cannot see him any longer, only feels the texture of his jumper against his hand.
Then he is moved again, fast, and his grip on John gets more loosely. Then their linking is severed. Without his anchor, there is no holding back the darkness. Sherlock is falling, and falling, and then there is nothing.
When he opens his eyes again, everything is blurry for a while. Then the world gracefully shifts into focus. Hospital, in the north of London, lamplight on John's face means after dark. Circles underneath John's eyes mean late night. Or deep emotional stress.
Sherlock squeezes John's hand, not able to do much else. John's eyes light up instantly. "Hey, sleeping beauty," he quips with a little smile. A lame saying, but necessary to lighten John's apparently dark mood.
John reaches out for Sherlock's cheek, caresses it. His lovable eyes still dark with concern. His back stiff. Has slept on a hospital chair for more than five nights in a row. So Sherlock's condition had been really serious.
John is uncomfortable, worn out, tired, and yet instantly ready to lavish care on Sherlock. That makes Sherlock's mind leap back to point 2 of the email he had written for Mary some weeks ago.
"John likes to take care. Give him situations in which he can do so, e.g. you could sprain an ankle or catch the flu. That will heal him faster than your tedious "Time heals all wounds" mentality. Time does not heal all wounds. Believe me."
Sherlock is intubated, cannot speak, cannot tell John he is fine now. Cannot tell him how sorry he is for worrying John. Cannot tell him that John needed not to worry for Sherlock will never lose the will to live, will never give up, at least not as long as John is still there. Cannot tell him how sorry he is for saying something like "Let's live for today" only an hour before running into the assault he now remembers more clearly.
But John is a genius when it comes to them being a couple, and his obviously telepathic abilities are stunning. His laboured smile becomes a real one, and he pats Sherlock's chest, "Next time you want me to be occupied, you could just sprain an ankle or catch laryngitis, couldn't you?"
John is a patient man. He can take more of Sherlock's Sherlockness than other people before feeling the need to punch him. That is why he can stand living with this insane, wonderful madman. That is why he can stand loving him without ever contemplating leaving him.
He manages to remain patient without lamenting the loss of his mobile after Sherlock drowned it in lacquer to solve a case. He manages to be understanding when he finds ear lobes in his favourite mug.
He is perfectly relaxed when Sherlock and Harry start to fight over Harry's "lesbian, too" comment she had left on John's blog. Even though both of them are driving him crazy at the same time, and that is really an extremely huge demonstration on how patient he is.
He does not complain when they spend his birthday in the library, comparing lexicons because something about her linguistic knowledge is about to convict a landlady. Well, the fact that Sherlock wears his new lilac shirt that day knowing that it is a definite turn-on for John makes up for that. Definitely. And also the fact that they shag inside the library's toilet twice as a birthday present.
Yes, John considers himself to be a patient man who light-heartedly stands all the little things that would drive everyone else insane and is nothing but loyal.
Except when he is not. For good reason.
"What really makes me angry right now is the fact that you don't even know why I'm angry!" he hisses in Sherlock's direction, wishing he could turn his head around to give him an angry glance. But all he can do is angrily lean against the leather jacket Sherlock is wearing as a disguise. And try not to stop being angry just because he loves the scent of lemon soap Sherlock is emanating. Or because he imagines Sherlock's nearly luminescent eyes right now.
"Listen to yourself, John. You are being ridiculous," Sherlock huffs, and John feels him moving their hands. In vain. The leather jacket is rubbed against the leotard that should have been John's cover had they only been a bit faster. At least he is wearing something comfortable.
"I am a great listener to myself" John steams, still angry, "but there will be no love and light and laughter until this argument is solved!" When he hears Sherlock taking in a deep breathe to answer, he quickly adds, "And it will not be solved by having sex."
He hears Sherlock sigh. Deeply. Then a pause. Then another sigh.
"You did not mind the liver I placed in the kitchen sink," he hears Sherlock's deduction voice, "and you smiled at the limerick about leaving like Lord Lucan I left at your blog. I have not done the laundry, but I never do it and you love me anyway."
His voice was picking up pace, "You did not mind getting lost in Latvia with me and you secretly enjoyed falling into that lorry load of lemons. You volunteered to steal the left-luggage locker without me persuading you with oral sex. You could be angry about the high number of ladybirds I set free in the bathroom, but that is unlikely because you have been appeased with long-stemmed roses in advance."
That bugger. John had known the roses served a purpose other than just pleasing him. "You know that I stepped on your Lou Reed record accidentally" Sherlock went on, leaning his head against John's now, "and you have already forgiven me taking the liberty of suggesting that Latin lover disguise."
John feels Sherlock move their hands once more, but can not figure out the purpose this time. "Your shoulder gets sore if it is strained like this" Sherlock supplies the answer without being asked. Damn! When Sherlock does something selflessly nice, John's anger is very likely to subside prematurely.
"That does not make your actions right," he snaps half-heartedly. Oh sod it, Sherlock must already be deducing John's subsiding anger. Better get through with this fight as long as they were sticking together in the living-room. Literally. After their liberation John would surely be too pacified to finish this.
"I am angry because of point three," John explains, and hears Sherlock gasp in surprise.
"You figured it out," Sherlock states lively. "Well done, John. I really underestimated your lucidity!" Yes, leave it to Sherlock to make an insult sound like a compliment. There is another pause on Sherlock's part. Then, "Can we just presume that I have learnt the lesson and move on?"
John feels uncontrollable laughter rise in his throat. His mind tells him that laughing like mad is a bad idea when the Ligurian mafia guys that tied you up with ligatures against your lover in the middle of your own living room are still in the kitchen, discussing what to do with the two of you now.
"Sherlock, you practically invited over the mafia for some lambasting because you thought there was a lack of serious danger in my life. Only one week after I nearly got boiled in hot latex. I don't care that you have learnt a lot already, that is a definite NO."
Sherlock stops trying to free them for a moment. He must also be thinking about point three now, which reads, "John needs a certain amount of danger in his life. He gets restless and cantankerous if too secure. Danger makes him forget his own imperfections."
Oh. In his anger John had completely forgotten about these cantankerous and imperfection bits. He quickly rethinks his own actions during the last two or three days. Blimey. He licks his lips in sudden distress.
"I have been quite cantankerous lately, haven't I?"
In his mind, he sees Sherlock's face doing this distress thing it always does when he tries to figure out how to answer one of John's questions truthfully yet non-transgressing. John has to smile, the lingering aftertaste of being angry already vanished.
"You called me lazybones just because I've been languishing on the sofa, even though I've been very busy learning Lithuanian," Sherlock reminds him, sounding more like a five-year-old than usual.
"You've been listening to gruesome, incomprehensible music the whole day," John reminds him, just in case he has forgotten.
"Gruesome Lithuanian music," Sherlock huffs. "And those were love songs. The lyrics would make you cry if I presented them to you in English. I could easily lure you to bed with those lovely lullabies."
John considers that for a moment. "Sherlock," he then points out, "you could lure my to bed by pointing at it. You luring me to bed is really no big achievement. I'm basically looking for love or lust all the time when you are concerned"
Sherlock falls quiet for a rather long time. "Apparently," he agrees then.
How John would love to be able to lean back now and look at Sherlock in his leather trousers and leather jacket, looking restless and reckless and lost.
John shifts his back a little. His back hurts from sitting on the ground for more than one hour now and he fears that the left-sided lumbago he had last year could be coming back. Sherlock instantly moves accordingly, stretches and twists a little, and within seconds John's back is better. His heart melts along with the pain in his back.
Sherlock is not the typical romantic lover other people seem to long for. He would never give John flowers without purpose or expensive presents. But he turns up the heater so John is warm and strains his back so John is comfortable. There is lots of love in those little things, John knows. Oh, damn it, now he has stopped being angry at all. He lets his head fall back, rests it against the back of Sherlock's and smiles.
Lestrade will soon be here to free them, he knows, and with the argument already settled, they will not need to waste further time once they are alone again. Where did he put that lotion?
"It's standing next to our bed already," Sherlock volunteers unasked, and John can not help but giggle this time.
People usually assume that Sherlock happened to John like a landslide, unstoppable sometimes and surely dangerous. They assume living with Sherlock is like taking part in an obscure lottery, where you never know what you will get when you come home at night.
But they are idiots, and so they completely fail to see how John is happening to Sherlock in return, like a maelstrom that pulled him in with unbelievable force and that will never let him out again. Not that Sherlock would want a way out.
People usually pity John for liaising with Sherlock.
They only notice how Sherlock stores body parts in the fridge. How he sends John to buy milk right after passing by a grocery store. How he convinces John to spend a cold night with him in a lookout to convict a thief, warmed only by Lebanese cuisine that must have once been luscious but after six hours in a heat retaining package is lubricious at best. How he forces John to pretend to be living in a loft in Liverpool for two weeks to solve a case.
But they do not see Sherlock looking at John's wonderful face on that lookout, illuminated only by lunar light, and they can not know how Sherlock's heart swells at the sight.
They do not get the inside joke of one lucky cat in every room of that loft. They are not there to see John smiling at that. And they did not hear how loud John had laughed when finding the hidden travelling lemon on the flight to Liverpool.
Sherlock had never thought he could make someone laugh. But then, he also never thought someone could love him.
People usually fail to realise how Sherlock had spent his hiatus thinking of John, longing for less long-lasting loneliness every night, missing him so much it had hurt. They never assume Sherlock could be lying on the sofa lasciviously, hiding the leather leash from John's view for now, pretending to be all in control and his arrogant self, when all Sherlock can think of is John's approval and wonder why that fact does not make him feel weak.
People do not know that Sherlock watches John closely every evening, for signs of upcoming nightmares, ready to leave the light on when turning in if necessary. People in their idiocy completely fail to understand that even a lionheart like John can be shaken by wounds of the past.
John's nightmares are a thorn in Sherlock's side, for they hurt John, and Sherlock can not chase them away for good. He can only anticipate them coming, learnt that during the first month of their flat-sharing. Long before he had realised he was in love with his man.
The nightmares bothered Sherlock so much he dedicated them a point in his email to Mary, a rather long one. He remembers the words clearly, "You can tell he will have a nightmare by the way he sits in his chair prior to going to bed. See pictures in attachment 1. Waking him when next to him can be dangerous (ex-soldier). Playing an instrument in another room shortly after the nightmare starts is a well-proven method. If you do not play an instrument, learn how to do so. Soon."
Whenever Sherlock thinks of that point of his email, he is even more glad John has left Mary than usual. Mary could have followed the instructions down to the very last letter without becoming any good in taking care for John.
And yet, four years after being introduced to John, six months after writing that email, four months after John had declared his love for Sherlock on a post-it, there is still nothing better Sherlock can do to keep the nightmares at bay, than playing the violin shortly before the dream starts. In his dark moments, that makes him wonder if their liaison is any good for John at all.
And Sherlock has tried so many things already. He tries to stop John eating too much too late at night by taking him out for a lavish lunch (No obvious change to the number of nightmares. But John lost even more weight due to eating less late at night. Not recommended).
He tries to make John drunk before going to bed, using different types of alcohol (Only intensified the nightmares. Lemon liquor has worst effects).
He tries to use John's old room as their shared bedroom in lieu of Sherlock's (No change in nightmare patterns. But had resulted in finding John's collection of Lucky Luke comic books from when he was a child. That had resulted in Sherlock being forced to make fun of him for days. That had resulted in John not making tea for Sherlock for days. Changing bedrooms is not recommended, too).
He has tried all that and more without telling John what he was trying to do, of course.
People usually consider John to be an affable and lusty person, but they always fail to see how proud he is. He would never wear close-fitting leggings, for example, no matter how urgently Sherlock needs him to for solving a case. He would never embarrass himself in front of some members of the landed gentry by hanging onto a lustre, no matter how much Sherlock needs him to for solving a case.
John can be quite egoistic in that respect.
And he would never admit that those nightmares put him under stress. So Sherlock has to become a liar.
"I needed to wear my new livery in public to analyse its effect on other people," he lies when John asks him why they are going out for lunch that often.
"Drunkenness has a similar effect on the biochemical processes of sinistral people as a lobotomy has," he pretends, while taking John's blood just to make the excuse more believable.
"I only wanted to see if my sleeping cycle is different in your old room," he lies through his teeth. "Laterz," he always adds and leaves the flat as quickly as possible when John starts to scrutinise Sherlock's lies.
Sherlock is so occupied with stopping the nightmares that it takes him several weeks before realising John does not believe his excuses … but always pretends to do so.
Why? Why does he play along Sherlock's lies? No matter how many hours Sherlock spends curled up on the sofa thinking about it, he can not solve that mystery. And he absolutely loves the fact that John is beyond him in certain respects.
Sherlock thinks that he will need a lifetime to fully understand John. He considers taking him as his lawful husband, just to make sure he will get all the time he needs. Sherlock also thinks he never wants to fully understand John.
People are idiots. People will never understand that Sherlock is in love, actually truly, madly, deeply and obviously and only and all the other clichés. It's a good thing that neither Sherlock nor John are one of them.
I hope you enjoyed this one. The next two chapters are already under consrtuction, but I will be on holidays for four weeks, far away from Internet access. Lots of time to write, but no chance to post.