Sherlock Holmes has lived many lives.
Over the span of an eternity, he and Greg Lestrade have been cursed to re-live their existence over and over again, to deal with their sins and Temptations and to eventually as always, Fall. Except John Watson is not part of their plan. The cycle is broken one drunken night as Sherlock admits to his feelings for John, and now he must face the others who are trapped in the Spell and deal with the consequences at hand.
So what happens when the others agree to keep John in their lives?
a series of oneshots.
So this will be a three-chapter fic, and it's already completed on my AO3 account if you like and want more :) I will be updating fairly quickly though anyway as a result. ^_^ Hope you enjoy! please review and let me know what you think!
Originally a prompt for Anihan_Nakagami :3
Black as dark and red as blood,
the cycle turns and life will continue oblivious to its owner's cry for death.
Those who defy the Gods shall be cursed in slime and mud,
and their greatest wish shall turn into a curse they must best.
Dark as ink, crimson flesh,
whipped by hands of time.
The mark they bear upon their chests,
will warn those of their blackest crimes.
Opaque as night, ruby wine,
Their future unending and bleak,
Those unlucky wretches, cursed with time,
Never, never to sleep...
The moonlight glowed with the hushed breath of sheets shifting slowly, a bed creaking softly in the dark. The night streamed like a liquid through the window-panes, tasting with curious tendrils the raven-dark curls that peeked just out from underneath the soft white blanket. Turning the pallor of the room snow white and ash black. Those ebony tendrils of hair shimmer as they shift to reveal a pale face and sharp cheekbones, made bone-white by the lunar light seeping through the curtains. Piercing blue-silver eyes open the barest of cracks as if he is half-afraid to face reality in case the earlier hours of the night was just the barest breath of a dream. Like a child creeping with baited breath down the stairs in the middle of hushed midnight on Christmas Eve, he hopes against hope that the events of the past hours were not some adrenaline-induced illusion, and that the man lying in bed beside him was actually real. The logical side of his brain knew of course, but the part that twisted and coiled like a venomous snake demanded that he make sure that despite all evidence to point to the soft breathing he hears beside him, or the subtle shifting of limbs next to his, that the man is actually real.
Actually wanted him.
As he opens his eyes, the glint of gold is all he needs for confirmation. Lying half-hidden it glints like the tops of wheat fields, as if promising warm Summer just beyond the horizon. John Watson, someone so simple.
Yet in all of his boring, monotonous continuation of life, Sherlock had never met someone so capable of making the world interesting.
He breathes a sigh of relief he hadn't known was being held captive in his chest, pressing his lips together to keep from breaking into a wide smile. Leaning over sleepily, he allows himself to press a small, shy kiss atop that ruffle of blonde locks, allowing the indulgence when in public he wouldn't have dared.
Like beholding a miracle he is lost in the sensation of his lips meeting those soft locks, the scent of his best friend and now lover both familiar and soothing to his restless mind. It had been a particularly gruelling case, and sleep sang to him in a rare moment of calling as he lay beside the Army Doctor, unwilling just yet to let go of tonight.
Because it was only natural after all, to marvel at something that shouldn't be but inexorably was.
His mind goes over the memory, caressing it like it is a fragile bird. Already his Mind-Palace has begun processing, turning the room where he held everything about John into a wing, storing away the scene in perfect detail to be replayed like a projector in his mind.
"You're drunk John."
The Detective had stated flatly, amused despite himself at the giggling mass of Doctor that was currently sitting on the living room floor, as if he couldn't quite grasp the concept of chairs in his inebriated state. Beside him, Lestrade chuckled apologetically, his silver-grey hair glinting in the light as he tried to help his friend to his feet.
"Sorry 'bout this. Had a bit of a contest with him to get his mind off of the break-up with Sarah. Little bit too much to drink and a little bit too much happy. He should be fine in the morning though."
"Not druuuunk!" John sang cheerily, attempting to rise only to be caught swaying by Greg at the last second before he landed on his face. Sherlock grimaced slightly even as he set down his violin, feeling not unlike the much put-upon parent as he stepped forward and tried to extricate his friend out of Greg's grasp, wrinkling his nose at the smell of beer that lingered on them both. He is surprised at how warm the Doctor's body is as he surrenders himself to the Detective's grip, humming happily as those glazed blue eyes blinked around in slower than normal comprehension. His low baritone fights to keep from turning upwards in mirth as John messily wraps his arms about his shoulders, clinging to him not unlike a baby koala bear.
"Not drunk hmm?"
Pressing his mouth to the inside of Sherlock's neck, the blonde man chuckled conspiratorially.
"Shh. I lied. I'm completely smashed..."
Then he looks up at Sherlock, and the Detective's breath hitches just a little for a moment as those wide blue eyes implore at him trustingly.
"Don't tell Greg."
John hisses, to which Lestrade snorts and shakes his head in silent laughter. The D.I checks his watch and whistles lowly at the time, uttering a low oath as he glanced back up at the pair before him. Sherlock was looking at him with a mixture of annoyance and resigned acceptance, cradling John half his arms like a child, his hands unsure entirely of where they should touch and where they should avoid. Like he is afraid of accidentally hurting someone.
Not that John would be likely to care even if he was hurt at this point. As it was he had become rather fascinated with how pale Sherlock's skin was in comparison to his own.
He garbled to himself, and then began to sing all about "Sherlock Bones", to which the Detective merely rolled his eyes in aggravation.
"I just realized I promised my kids I'd be home before midnight."
Lestrade looked up, already apologetically backing out of the room. He grabbed his coat that he had only a moment ago discarded and shrugged it over his shoulders, feeling only minimally guilty at leaving Sherlock to take care of the mess. The Detective considers telling him that his wife is cheating on him again so there's really no point as the kids would most likely be out of the house, but the words escape him as John leans his head against his chest contentedly and drives all rational thought from the man's mind.
"Sorry, I assume you can take care of him? Just makes sure he drinks some water and put him to bed."
The Detective would have protested, if it weren't for the fact that John at the moment was lecturing him in a slurred voice about how
"if he scowled so much his face would stick that way."
A ridiculous and childish myth, but it distracts him just long enough for the D.I to make his hasty escape. Before Sherlock realizes the door to 221B is slamming shut, and he is left in the dim living room with a very cheery John and the beginnings of a slight headache worming their way into his skull.
And the Army Doctor looked sleepily up at him in the silence, an innocent and lighter smile on his face than Sherlock has ever seen before radiating from him. During the daytime, John always had an element of exhaustion about him. A certain set of his shoulders that spoke of carrying unbearable weight and agony, a lingering haunting of his war days. However the almost childlike man before him bears none of that, it's been drowning in alcohol and good spirits, and Sherlock tries without success to keep a small smile of exasperated affection from his face as he hoisted the man bodily into his chair.
"There. Honestly John, what am I going to do with you if you insist on becoming so inebriated, especially when I've just solved the case?"
In response his friend hiccuped slightly, as if that somehow could substitute for an apology. He watched as Sherlock retreated into the kitchen, rifling around for a glass until his fingers pawed against one and filling it with cool, clear water. When he came back his friend was rocking slightly in place, humming only slightly off-key under his breath. It was a familiar tune, one Sherlock played frequently on his violin. A self-composed piece.
What John didn't realize is that the inspiration for it had been none other than the good Doctor himself.
He set the water down carefully on the side-table for him leaning back into his own chair with interest as John took the glass and drank deeply. His head tilted back, Sherlock could see the vague outline of the muscle just along his neck, his ever-moving thoughts cataloguing it automatically before he can even curse himself for getting caught up in useless tidbits of detail.
It's been happening more and more lately, and the Detective is uncertain as to why.
It's strange, but every time lately that he starts to analyse, he finds his gaze pulled like a magnet to the same, familiar face.
John's face is not particularly fascinating, though it is more amusing. It amuses Sherlock, to watch the ever-changing expressions like a book being flipped rapidly of it's pages, all blurring together to make up one cohesive whole which usually in his case turned out to be a scowl at whatever the Detective was doing. In truth, much of the time he just liked to watch the soldier's face, he would deliberately antagonize him just to see that achingly familiar rush of collective emotions string themselves out for Sherlock to see. He had each one categorized and labelled, and the one John bore right now as he set down his glass and relaxed into his chair was utter contentment. It was mixed with something else too, a sort of wandering thing that made John's eyes linger in their staring of Sherlock's hips, hands and mouth. He could not identify that emotion, mostly because had he been sober John would have kept it carefully hidden behind a façade of calm.
Cocking his head to the side, Sherlock felt the familiar compulsion to put a name to the unknown emotion. Store it away carefully and record it in case it never surfaced again on John's face.
As it was the soldier looked at him, head-on and lacking any inhibitions to stop as he was far too drunk to really care. He looked because he wanted to, because he had been considering something in the pit of his stomach for a long time.
He looked because he could, and because Sherlock was looking as well. The two stared at each other, one with their hands folded prayer-like under their chin, the other trying to keep his gaze focused under the haze of drink. He notes how Sherlock's eyes in the dark seem to glitter like twin jewels, and the longing to suddenly get closer to the man is intense.
The Detective catches him just in time as he suddenly lunges forward, his balance throwing him off as those arms wrap about him. John looks thoroughly confused at how he managed to end up on the floor, but smiles brightly in pleasure when he sees Sherlock figure crouching over him. Before the Detective can stop him, he pulls Sherlock forward, bracing his legs about the outside of his thighs.
The two suddenly tumble into a mess of tangled limbs, and Sherlock grunts lowly as somehow he finds himself pinned to the ground by a smirking, drunk John Watson. In those blue eyes Sherlock saw that same, unidentifiable expression, directed at him as slowly John leaned forward, his hips straddling his and creating a surprising coil of heat inside the Detective abdomen that made him suck in a silent gasp of surprise and dawning realization.
"John, you're drunk. You should go to bed."
And John smiled that innocent smile, and mumbled agreeably.
"Right. To Bed."
It wouldn't have been hard to fight John off. Wouldn't have been difficult at all, considering how plastered the Doctor had been and their difference in size. Except Sherlock found he didn't really want to, that the strange sensation rippling up and down his body made him want to shudder and draw himself nearer to the tanned body above him, like a moth drawn to a liquid flame. Still in his mind was the lingering worry of John's state of mind, and the quiet and selfish desire in him that told him to ignore his logical side. He freezes as soft lips gently brush his, killing off the beginnings of any argument whatsoever as his brain snapped into sharp focus, as did his hips, unwillingly. For just a second his thoughts stuttered, and the touch of his own mouth melding against John's is all he can know.
All he can taste.
The lingering flavour of alcohol is still there, but he can taste the other things.
The things that make up John.
Tea, warm and constant and healing in it's properties, like John himself.
Honey for sweetness, rich and running as a background flavour.
Aftershave, the kind that smells musky and dark like warm firewood on a chill Summer night.
The flavour sends a sharp chord of new through his body, as if his entire olfactory senses can't quite process the feeling of having the soldier in his whole sense of being crashing into him. He doesn't deepen the kiss. He can't.
It takes every nerve in his body not to respond, all control lost save for a last-shot effort at maintaining some kind of line.
Where was the line?
It had always been blurred in Sherlock's eyes, but now he was mildly alarmed to see that it had vanished completely. Tossed aside like lines and boundaries weren't needed. Like John didn't want them any more. And Oh, that was a dangerous trail of thought to go down indeed.
Eventually, sensing his stiffness the soldier pulled up for air, soft blue eyes clouding slightly in confusion, hesitation and the beginnings of sadness lingering on his expressive features. An outline in the dark, Sherlock feels John's hands tighten on the collar of his shirt, clenching and unclenching as even his drink-addled brain sensed a shift in their already tenuously platonic relationship. He sat up in the dark, his voice low and vulnerable and quiet as slowly he processed the situation.
"... Sher...lock? I'm sorry... I thought... never mind... this..."
He gestured suddenly, as if he couldn't find the adequate words to describe their situation. To his credit, Sherlock wasn't exactly stringing along sentences either. His brain was whirling much to quickly for that, lost in the sudden and driving need for more.
"I'm just drunk... ignore me... it's all fine..."
In the dark, he can see the blood flushing along the soldier's cheek. Deliciously pink, like a flower blooming along across his neck. Sherlock wants to memorize that creeping flush, wants to taste the salt of the sweat pooling just at John's collar bone.
And then John trembled ever so slightly above him, and in an enormous display of self-control Sherlock tried not to cry out as his hips shifted ever-so slightly and brushed along a path of burning flame across the inside of his thigh. His pupils blowing wider by the minute, the Detective's pale hands reached out to grab John's wrists, dragging him downwards so that their foreheads touch and their breaths mingle, harsh and quick and loud as he stares into those blue irises, slowly becoming black as the blonde man's breaths come quicker. Sherlock is beginning to question whether or not there is any oxygen in the room as he freezes, locked into those a staring competition with those eyes and yet unwilling to close the gap and touch that smiling mouth. Kiss away all doubt and shyness. Smear his name across the dip in those shoulders. It is such a startling feeling, he nearly keens with it, and he cannot escape the ragged sigh that passes his lips and makes his entire body quiver.
He remembers now every moment this could have happened.
Recalls with perfect clarity all the stolen looks, the laughter, the awkwardness that he had put aside for another time or perhaps another reality. Now it seems like wasted time, a clock left to run in a desert of sand, pointless and meaningless.
All of the tension.
All of the taste.
Sherlock wanted it all.
His voice is low and rough and shaken , and John can't help but shudder at it's tone.
"One promise. One vow Mr. Watson. In the morning, we don't pretend this never happened. We no longer play this game of tip-toe."
And the way he says it, he might as well have cussed out the Queen herself with the poison in the tone. Above him John gasps as Sherlock's hips suddenly drive upwards, and he groans in a sinfully open way as he leans into the friction between their clothes.
Friction that would soon have to go, if Sherlock had any say about it.
Before they go any further though, he must make himself clear.
"John. I'm not... I'm not relationship material per se. I'm selfish, and needy, and don't speak for days. Yet I'm undeniably pulled by you, and if you wake up tomorrow and want nothing to do with me as a lover, I'll understand completely. I'll let us go back to being friends, and you can yell at me because I don't clean my experiments and I screech my violin at three in the morning just-"
and his voice hitches, because John is spreading his hand lightly across the spanse of his chest, and the touch of his four fingers and thumb are like pinpoints of lightning sizzling straight into his stomach. His eyes open wide, and they drink the soldier in for all that he is, both scarred and plain, simple and yet oh so interesting. Brave and yet achingly vulnerable.
Sherlock whispers, drawing him so that he can capture his own words, imprint them on John's lips like a brand.
"Please don't leave me."
And John's answer, immediate in the dark and unwaveringly sober as he begins to pick at the buttons along Sherlock's shirt, fingers shaking.
Sherlock Holmes was not an overly sentimental man.
Nor did he believe in fate.
But he felt like if there was a God, some sort of cosmic being, and if he was merciful, he had sent John to keep the boredom away.
Had brought him into his life purely for the sake of keeping him on his toes, guessing.
And selfish creature he was, Sherlock refused to give him back for anything. He curls around the smaller man's body protectively in the dark, draping one pale arm over the scarred shoulder tissue and burying his nose into the crook of his shoulder blades. The dip between his scapulae.
He whispers as his pale body glows luminescent in the moonlight, and the only response he gets is John's instinctive movement closer into his embrace.
Sherlock has never felt so alive.
When he wakes, he remembers everything.
It awakes him violently like a fist clenching his heart, and his back arches in agony as wave after wave of memory assaults him like a storm crashing over his head.
John is woken with a start from the uncharacteristically clumsy noise of Sherlock falling out of bed and landing in a tangle of messy sheets and rumpled pillows, hair sticking out wildly in all directions. Half of a hangover still pounding in his head, he blinks away sleepily the haze of morning that coats his tongue to recall the events of last night, what he could and couldn't remember. Of course, the fact that he was actually in Sherlock's bed helped clear some of the... fuzzier details. Strangely enough, he wasn't as surprised or horrified as he would have expected. Just... sort of tilted, like the world had been torqued onto an angle. He could remember Sherlock distinctly trying to stop him, and then the feeling of his protests melting away as both of them realized that the other was okay with this, and that they had both been feeling the same things these past couple of months. Since they had first met really.
He feels like he should be embarrassed.
Or perhaps angry.
Yet strangely he's not.
In fact, much of his previous stress that has weighted on him subconsciously seems to have melted away overnight, loosening from his overworked muscles like water running down rigid rocks. He stretched now, feeling kinks and knots disappear that hadn't faded or been this limber since his war days. A small, dopey smile is fighting to cross his features despite the awful, stale taste of alcohol on his tongue and the pounding headache drumming just behind his eyes. It's like he's a teenager again, he feels well rested and genuinely good. Like an afterthought, the sun warmed his back as it painted the morning. He hummed in pleasure, still oblivious to the Detective's growing panic on the floor below.
Well, they were always talking before. Now it would probably just be true. I'm sure Donovan will have a bloody field day.
Then he laughs, and turning to Sherlock John is prepared to tell him what's so funny about all of this when the bubbling giggle dies on his throat from the fixed look the Detective is giving him. Sherlock's eyes are roving his face over and over, running up and down his limbs as shallow breaths constrict his chest tightly. Like he is uncertain exactly if John is entirely real. It's the panicked expression of a wild animal, and not something that is normally found on the unflappable man's trembles slightly, pale limbs bunching together as he curls in on himself with his knees tucked under his chin, gripping his head with a wince as if it was hurting him.
John frowned a little, scratching the side of his head and feeling only a slight prick of worry at Sherlock's rather panicked expression as those blue-green eyes flicked restlessly to his face and away, cataloguing the room like he's never seen it before in his life. After all, it's not the strangest reaction he's ever seen Sherlock have to a situation before. Heck, he's seen him dance at the whisper of the word murder, perk up like a child on Christmas day with the promise of a triple homicide, and spit in disgust at gifts of appreciation for all of his hard , it's disconcerting to have him react like he doesn't even recognize John's existence.
He wonders if maybe the Detective is having second-thoughts now, and feels an uneasy stir deep in his gut. Twisting uncomfortably like a nest of snakes. He sits up, hand reaching out cautiously as if baring himself to a wild panther. His voice is low, attempting to be soothing, in case Sherlock is having some kind of panic attack.
Wouldn't be the first time he had reacted so viciously to intimacy, although it was distressing in the sense that it hurt John to see him so utterly lost looking and small.
Sherlock was overwhelmed, but the issue of sentiment and intimacy was honestly for once the lesser source of his stress.
John jumps when he suddenly leaps to his feet, gathering the sheet about his naked form as a last-minute attempt at decency before he stalked out of the room in utter silence. The soldier literally felt his stomach fall out beneath him. He swallowed nervously.
Perhaps this was a bid not good after all.
He calls Mycroft.
Locking himself in the bathroom, the phone rings a total of two times before his brother picks up, blowing a beleaguered sigh into his ear of irritation.
"Sherlock I swear, if you are calling merely because John refuses to let you keep your experiments in the tea pot I might just have to murder you-"
"I slept with him."
A long, drawn-out pause in which both men can distinctly hear the distant sound of John Watson stumbling out of bed, shrugging on his clothes and fumbling to get his belt back into the proper loops of his jeans. Then, Mycroft's voice is strained, trying to keep up a façade that he is unaware has already been broken.
"And what would you have me say in response to that-"
"I've Awakened you moron. Why would I tell you otherwise?"
Sherlock growls and rolls his eyes, cutting off the weak attempt at trying to brush off the importance of the situation at hand. He then curses silently at the loudness of his own voice, hoping John couldn't hear as he instinctively ducked lower into the corner of the bathroom he sat in. A beat of a pause for breath, and then Mycroft's voice takes a completely different tone. Gone is the act of suppressed irritation, of bored iciness that is his character.
"I can have a car pick you up in twenty minutes."
"...Is Greg Awake yet?"
An uncomfortable silence. One that is laced in controlled pain.
He says tersely, and Sherlock nods even as he grunts his approval.
That would mean he could at least figure a few things out and act accordingly without someone telling him off. At least for a little while. The D.I wouldn't be far behind.
He never was. At most he gave himself a day and a half.
Before he can hang up, his brother offers a small cursory greeting. Sincere despite it's mocking edge.
"Welcome back... brother."
The phone snaps shut in his hands, and the man closes his pale blue eyes slowly, fingers lifting to his chin in wordless consideration. This was most certainly a most... interesting predicament. If he was going to stoop to using inadequate words, one might even say that this entire situation was... distressing.
And he closes his eyes, smirking softly at the memory that echoed with that lingering term of phrase. Drawing the smells of a different time and a different place, far away from the rainy city of London. Where the sun was warm and the air was ripe with the smell of manure and spice, of a time when things were distressing on a most regular basis...
"Run, you idiot!" He shouted at Greg in Spanish, ducking underneath the multicoloured and flouncing skirt of one of the many dancers in the street for the festival. Her shrieks are loud in her ears as he narrowly dodges the crushing power of her heels, twisting away and muttering a low apology even while cradling the loaf of bread to his dirty chest and looking wildly about for the glint of silvering hair. His dark curls were falling out of their tie, but he really could have cared less at the moment. At the time his name was Santiago, and right now being somewhat blind because his irritatingly longer hair was dangerous. He sucked a breath through his teeth, ducking into an alley as he caught the flash of metal in the crowds. The city guards. They fished through the crowd roughly, searching for his face. Carefully crouching in the shadows, he slunk against the brick wall, green-blue eyes twinkling softly as he clutched his hard-earned prize.
It was all so mind-numbingly boring.
Mr. Garcia at the bakery had been too wrapped up caught in a woman's bosom to even notice him until it was too late.
And he grins, the roguish smile quirking up at the corners.
He had Awakened though, so he had to be careful.
After all, that meant soon he would die. He had enough pride that he didn't feel like hanging from the gallows or having his hand chopped off for stealing. Though because of The Curse , the hanging was more likely.
After all, technically he had to Fall.
The one constant in the many, many ways his life had come to a souring end, only to be restarted.
But he was distressed, because Greg hadn't woken up yet. Which meant he was probably going to die before him. The thought sends a small frown to his face, but he banishes it away.
He doesn't particularly feel attached to Greg, but he is the only one who understands. He always feels the faintest naggings of guilt when he has to leave him behind.
Then he sees it. The glint of silver-dark flitting through the crowd. His eyes see what Gregorio is planning and he smiles, hugging the bread against his skinny ribs and preparing to run. The oncoming cart never sees it coming. With the Festival of Summer in full swing, it's busy on the streets. The air is heady from yellow marigolds floating through the air, and the sharp flavour of horse sweat taints everyone's tongue slightly. So when the blurred shape darts directly into the greying mule's path, the animal's already nervously taught calm breaks, the animal rearing up and snorting and upturning it's owner's cart with a crash.
It's full of pottery.
Months worth. All of it shatters on the sharp stones below, drowning out the owner's distressed cry. The guards turn to the ruckus automatically, not noticing the older man slinking through the coloured crowd like a dark patch in a rainbow. Greg smiles when he sees Sherlock, and the two take off down the alley, leaving the wreckage behind.
It would only be a few hours later, when Santiago's eagle-eyed vigilance slipped that it would happen. A stupid reason why he died. He drank a little too much spirit that he filched from a tavern a little too late at night and slipped by the moor. Greg had watched helplessly as his friend tumbled from his grasp and down, down into the dark waters below. After that reincarnation, Sherlock had vowed to learn how to swim every time.
John hears him leave, but makes no move to stop him. He fixes some tea and tries not to feel the beginning ache that is forming deep in his chest.
If Sherlock bloody Holmes didn't want to talk just yet, then he'd wait.
He just hoped to himself that he hadn't bollocks this up so badly that he had ruined the very real friendship that still existed underneath the newly found confession of love.
He is so distressed he doesn't notice when Mrs. Hudson, upon seeing Sherlock's piercingly fevered eyes and determined gait, quietly gets her coat and follows after the lanky Detective.
When Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson arrive at the Diogenes club by the sleek black car that Mycroft provided them, they are not the only ones who appear to be out of place in the heavily classy environment. Standing at the front entrance and looking somewhat peeved are Mike Stamford's chubby face, Bill Murray, and Sergeant Donovan, Anderson and even Inspector Dimmock. All faces that turned to him with mixed expressions of apprehension and varying degrees of either irritation or distaste. It was a strange grouping, the two sides clearly defined by the line of space running between the two crowds of people. In the middle Mycroft stood leaning on his umbrella, a false smile plastered on his features. His cold eyes glittered as his younger brother stepped out from the car, his landlady in tow. Or at least that's what she was to him in this life. There were times when she was his aunt, or on rare occasions his grandmother. It changed every so often. Sherlock resisted the urge to cross his arms over his chest defensively, his chin jutting out defiantly as he met the eyes of the people before him.
All people he knew.
And yet every time they were just a little different. Perhaps a little more bitter. Perhaps a little more resigned to their fate. The constant, wearing drain of living lives multiple times over. His brother, looking over at the group assembled together, seems to square his shoulders as if bracing himself for the meeting ahead.
Like a silent signal, all of the beings before Sherlock straightened. Their carefully made façades fade away slowly, like water draining from a basin to reveal their true natures beneath. Sally's eyes flash dark black, and a small forked tongue licks along her lower lip nervously. Mrs. Hudson's eyes glow luminously as she steps into the shadow of the patio outside the Club. Mycroft's blue eyes turn impossibly bluer.
Sherlock, staring at the demons and powers before him, smirks softly. A memory drifts behind his eyelids, heady and potent. The first time he had witnessed something as unreal as the creatures before him.
"Let's get this meeting on a roll, shall we?"
Once, his name had been Sophus.
In his original tongue, it had meant "skilled and clever".
Even back then in the roving landscape that was the Ancient city of Athens, Sherlock couldn't hide his brilliance. He remembers when he closes his eyes, how the air had tasted of so many different things. How with summer came the flavour of chilled wine and sweet grapes, and how the olive trees shaded his face as he spent long hours away from home, pouring over the scrolls the scholars had given him to review. Back then he had always been reading, researching and writing his own observations about the world as he traced and outlined his equations on the parchment balanced on one knee. His quest for knowledge ate at him insatiably, so much so that he began to be looked upon with both awe and fear at what he could see from the world around him. As a small child, he had been prophesied to be a child of the Gods, able to read and write all on his own at only the mere age of five. The city of Athens, Athena's patron land valued wisdom above all else. It was not long until Sherlock began hearing the murmurs that he was the Goddesses' son.
Soon his Mother sent him to study at the great schools, his obvious talent not to be wasted. And Sherlock, then Sophus, could not have been happier.
He loved to learn, to study the earth around him. To take the grass in his hands and know its creation. It's source.
Of course with the knowledge that he was smarter than the other people around him came pride.
A deep, black sort of pride that young Sherlock had no resistance towards. It consumed him, and it festered inside.
He met Greg when he was fifteen. Of course then, he had been called Georgios. He had been another scholar, new and fresh-faced and unaware of Sherlock's sour attitude and antisocial behaviour. That perhaps was why he chose to sit with him in the long grass that day, dark hair glimmering in the sun as he smiled at him. He had been several years older, even then. Already streaks of silver had been starting to glint at his temples.
Strangely enough, they became thick as thieves after they both simultaneously insulted and complimented one another on their work.
He was the first friend Sherlock ever had.
For the first time, he felt a hunger for something that wasn't knowledge.
And in a way, it interested and frightened him.
Which maybe was why he found himself drinking late into the night at the pub with Greg, for the first time enjoying himself in the presence of people as he drank the sweet ale that was given to him by a friendly barmaid. The night was a summer, warm and crisp and aching of sweetness from harvest, and around him people sat in the smoky chairs and stools, whispering to one another in low tones. It grew rowdier however as the night when on and the drinks flew from hand to hand, and soon he and Greg were heatedly debating one of Sherlock's favourite subjects.
The existence of Gods.
"I don't believe in them."
Sherlock had sniffed defiantly, throwing back his drink and rocking a little bit tipsily with it's impact.
"There is no logical way the Gods could have created the Earth. It makes no sense, what's more, Olympus cannot be the resting place. It's height at a calculated angle is simply not tall enough for any self-respecting deity-"
"Oh knock it off you idiot. Sophus, you're going to wind up in prison if you don't learn to control that tongue of yours!"
Greg had scowled, his eyes dark in the smoky light. Forcing Sherlock to keep his voice down. Sherlock had grimaced at the mention of the laws, rolling his eyes challengingly.
"How can we call ourselves scholars Georgios if we do not question the laws laid out for us? Abiding by the rules is boring, not to mention pointless as there are no Gods to send their holy wrath upon us!"
He accentuated his statement by slamming his glass down on the table, to which Greg had snorted and merely muttered something about foolishness of mortals. His eyes however held the faintest gleam of fear and grudging respect.
"You think you're cleverer than them. The Gods."
And Sherlock, the idiot he had been, smirked dangerously into his glass.
"No... I know I am..."
Neither of them had noticed the young woman watching them, her unearthly blue eyes glowing in the haze of the smoky pub. Her smile was small and coy as she lifted her drink to her lips thoughtfully, long blonde hair trailing over the curvature of her olive-toned skin as it shimmered in the night.
They stumbled from the pub together, that night. Laughing and talking, Sherlock found his brain despite it's usual machine-like quality was now roiling inside of his head. Swimming ever so pleasantly in a sea of ale. Greg was much the same, snickering under his breath and singing bawdy drinking songs to which his companion happily joined in. They nearly didn't notice the frail old woman, her gnarled hands reaching for their robes in search of spare change. Her blue eyes glinted out from under the lip of her dripping grey hood as rain fell softly about them, muffling the edges of their voices.
"Please kind sirs, have some mercy..."
Greg had given her two coppers.
Sherlock would always remember how they gleamed in the darkest recesses of his memory. He would remember how the gap-toothed smile the woman had given them had made him shiver, despite his outer cool exterior. Her voice had called out to them, weathered with age but sharp as a sword.
"Think you're cleverer than the Gods' eh?"
Slowly, Sophus had turned. His lip had already curled in the beginning of a sneer, and in his inebriated state, he did not think to cow his tongue.
"Obvious. They don't exist, so how can I not be?"
Greg had laughed.
In the end, that had been why he had been caught in the spell too.
Because he had laughed at Athena herself.
And when she transformed before their horror-struck eyes into the beautiful woman from the tavern, her hair shone like fire and eyes alight with righteous fury. Sherlock recalled how that laugh had been cut short, blasted away by the white light that struck them both like lightning.
"Maybe a few thousand years longer on this Earth will teach you some respect for your Creator's."
Sometimes in the shifting nightmares of his subconscious, Sherlock would wake to those words haunting him. Though often without his memories, they would hold no meaning. Still he found himself shivering, curling the covers closer to himself despite the logical side of his brain muttering that there was no reason for his unease.
"We've called this meeting today in order to discuss the significant problem at hand." Mycroft began, seated at the head of the table with his hands folded under his chin almost lazily. Nobody bought the relaxed aura however, their shoulders all tense under the guise of normality. In the oaken room, the walls seemed to reflect their expressions of unease. Sally's voice cuts over him, her eyes slitted and glimmering gold with her true form. Her voice is a low snarl.
"What has the Freak done this time?!"
She shot an accusing look at Sherlock, to which the man merely smirked cruelly. His deep baritone jibed at her.
"Surely you must know. After all your one of my many sins come to tempt me. What do you think I did to mess things up?"
In return the Demon hissed, dark curls crackling with energy. However Dimmock holds her down, his own slitted irises blinking in warning.
Two of his Temptations.
Pride and Anger.
Sometimes Sherlock liked to wonder to himself which was actually which. Then he realized he didn't particularly care. All of the police force were the Temptations he and Greg had to face, and that was just how it had always been. Though before they had been other things to them. Occasionally siblings, once in a long while neighbours or even friends.
Though he and Sally never got along.
"As I was saying-"
Mycroft continued sharply, cutting off any kind of beginning of an argument
"This cycle seems to have taken a decidedly different turn than its previous ones."
Anderson sniffed, sharpened teeth glittering pointedly as he bared them. It was then Mike Stamford shifted uneasily, his eyes glowing with eerie white luminescence. Sherlock arched an eyebrow as his landlady and Bill Murray did the same, three figures with irises that shimmered in the dim lighting like lamps on a foggy evening.
Mycroft's voice was low.
"The Three Fates. Is there something you would like to tell us? Have you been neglecting to give us some kind of information?"
Mrs. Hudson looked at Sherlock, and her smile was soothing. Comforting.
"Never intentionally dear. But Time does not always wish us to speak. We must wait until it does so that we do not disrupt the past-"
"-Present-" Murray murmured
"-And future." Mike finished.
Silence as the three of them close those disconcertingly coloured eyes, and their bodies start to hum with golden energy that moves visibly in the air as if they're swimming in dust motes. Except from where he sits, Sherlock can see the miniature figures dancing in the dust. The sand builds itself into a likeness of his dark coat and impossibly long legs, chasing after a silver-haired man with a police badge. When Mrs. Hudson speaks, her voice is no longer her own. It has taken a hollow quality, an echoing bell that rings like a gong deep in the little old woman's chest.
"Pages on pages echoing still,
a story that ends in a falling each time.
The tale retold has reached its fill
Now a new tale begins to shine."
Murray's voice then, humming lowly in the silence.
"The man who is not part of the tale,
a new character to play The Game.
Will Watson's love cause the cycle to fail,
or will it tame the heart it's claimed?"
Finally, Stamford's voice, the one everyone leans forward unconsciously to hear. The future. Sherlock finds his hands trembling slightly under the table. The promise of a new prophecy is impossible to resist.
"A man must fall and a man must die,
that part of the tale cannot change.
Yet is falling a physical act or a lie?
When the heart can fall just the same?
The spell has its grip, it's clutches too tight.
It cannot be refused.
Yet to break it's bond one cannot fight
it's rules lest the cycle breaks its' truce."
Then both of The Fates sigh in unison, slumping against the table as if the energy has been sucked out of their bodies and seeped into the floor. Though the Goddess Athena was long dead and gone, claimed by the hands of time she once manipulated so easily, her spell still held them, bound them all to Sherlock and Lestrade.
So when the group of people surrounding him found out that Sherlock Holmes had fallen in love, they couldn't react to their base instinct to reach over and throttle him on the desk.
Molly is the youngest out of all the Reincarnates. That's what all of them call themselves anyway. As if they were part of some ridiculous club. It sometimes makes her giggle softly, when she reflects on it. After all, it seems foolish to treat the whole thing as grimly as Mycroft or Lestrade did when he Awakened. Sometimes you had to just accept things as they were. She had learned this, especially in this life as she leaned over the bodies of people who had been murdered and sick and examined them for the sake of her job. She genuinely enjoyed her work, the science behind it, but if one couldn't accept the evidence before them as it was then it was a job that could drive a person mad. Completely round the bend.
And Molly was many things, but she didn't think she was insane.
At least not yet.
Though as the youngest, she was often forced into tasks that made her grimace. Things the elders didn't want to do. For instance, now instead of finding out what commotion was going on, she was watching over Greg carefully. Making sure that if he Awakened he'd have someone to go to. Someone to tell him what was happening. That's what Molly was really. The Messenger.
She and Mycroft were the only ones without any real supernatural abilities. Their means were much more Human in nature. Though she wasn't sure that's what she was at all.
The Messenger and The Protector.
She still couldn't look Sherlock in the eye, when he was unaware of what he was. Of what she was to him. Of what anyone around him knew. Perhaps that was why she came across as nervous. Skittish like an untrained colt when faced with those startling blue-green eyes. The eyes she had known from lifetime to lifetime. She tried to tell herself she wasn't completely smitten with the man, especially since that would be extremely unprofessional. After all, Sherlock Holmes was many things, a thief, a prince in one life, a prisoner in another. Yet he was not someone to fall in love.
The spell never allowed that.
So she resided at St. Bart's and watched Lestrade out of the corner of her eye, his office not too far from her workplace.
And when he very suddenly dropped his coffee mug on the floor with a gasp, spilling hot drink all over the carpet as he clutched his head and winced, she was there to let him know exactly what he had missed in this life.
Of course, as soon as the problem was presented, the group split into two very distinct groups. The side that wanted John to stay, and the side that advised making him disappear. In the middle, Mycroft. Trying to keep order in a meeting that has abruptly gone to hell.
"He's a danger to everything! If the Freak's falling in love, something must be wrong with the Spell-"
"I'm not incapable of feelings Sally, despite how you like to pretend. Irene Adler very nearly got me to-"
"-That was all a game with you. A puzzle we didn't worry about because you never took her seriously-"
Dimmock growled, teeth flashing brightly in the lights that flickered with the Demons' anger.
"I think we should all just discuss this rationally-"
Mrs. Hudson began, only to be cut off by Mike.
"Sherlock you must remember that whatever happens to you and Greg affects us. You should have had some prudence-"
"You introduced me to him!"
Sherlock snarled, bracing his palms against the wooden table as his eyes flashed. His dark curls moved with the motion of his body as he stood and began to pace, unable to control the manic energy surging inside of him. Trying to eat him from the inside out.
Anderson growled lowly, and when the darkness flickered one could see the horns sticking out from his scalp glittering dangerously.
"It was so you'd stop complaining how bored you were. Not so you could have some fuck buddy-"
He is cut off as Sherlock spins, lunging for his throat only to be held back by his coat lapels by a desperate Bill Murray.
"John is not some toy to me! If you had half a brain you'd see that!"
Sherlock snarled, lips curling back as he spat the words at the Demon.
"Do shut up Anderson! You lower the I.Q of the entire street!"
That's when Dimmock stands, fed up with the arguing. It might have lowered to blows if it weren't for the icy calm voice speaking over the shouting and carrying intensely.
"I think we should let this carry out."
Slowly, every head turned to Mycroft, who say calmly in his chair twirling the handle of his umbrella. His blue eyes calmly met everyone's shocked stares, but Sherlock could read in the set of his shoulders that he was just a little bit too innocent in the way he regarded all of them. He felt himself analyzing the man, searching for the motive behind the sudden proclamation. Sally spluttered, looking as if she'd like to hit the prefect symmetry and order out of the man before them. As if not under the ring of fire the man continued, oblivious to the accusing glares bearing down upon him.
"It is possible that John Watson may be a new dimension of the spell. A loophole in the contract, since Athena has been dead for nearly a few thousand years. The spell can't last forever after all, not when it's owner has long since departed from the minds of mortals. Stamford, you said that when you got the idea to bring John into Sherlock's life, it had been a split-second decision?"
Warily Mike nodded, not liking to be involved too deeply in the argument. As a Fate it was his job to be neutral, but Sherlock could tell under the mask of pretension that he didn't want to have to kill John. In fact none of the Fates looked exactly comfortable with the idea, something Sherlock planned to use to his utmost advantage.
Because that was what this came down to, whether or not to kill him.
And he would not let that happen.
"Yeah it had. I remembered Sherlock complaining about how he needed a flatmate. Since it's my duty to provide for him where I can I looked for one and spotted John from when I had been involved in the army. It just seemed like a good fit..."
Oblivious to the man's explanation, Sherlock was still scanning Mycroft. His eyebrows lower as he picks out the certain posture of him, almost a sympathizing gesture. Except Mycroft didn't sympathize. Ever. Unless...
And then he inhales sharply, eyes glittering in one part amusement and two parts horror.
The man had the decency to at least looked embarrassed, underneath his anger. His umbrella stopped spinning, and his voice was dangerously low.
"What?" Dimmock murmured in confusion, his head whipping back and forth between the two 'brothers' and trying to see what he had missed. Mrs. Hudson behind Sherlock shifted disapprovingly, being all-knowing having some advantages to always being in the loop of information. Sherlock folded his hands in prayer-like devotion as he grinned wickedly, dancing around the subject with a low mocking purr.
"You always were attracted to him. It makes sense you know. Always having to look after us both... naturally some desires would surge towards him... lingering affections..."
"Sherlock Holmes if you do not shut up immediately I may have you castrated."
Mycroft growled, and then something seemed to click in Sally Donovan's eyes, and her fanged mouth dropped open in startled horror.
"No... You and Lestrade..."
And then the meeting seemed to go to hell all over again as the group went back to squabbling not unlike a dysfunctional group of fishwives.
Greg Lestrade was not a stupid man.
Despite what Sherlock would tell him time and time again, he noticed a lot more than many people would give him credit for. So when he saw John walk into his office, looking embarrassed and confused and asking for the Detective, he saw the tentative affection in that gaze. He also saw the guilt and conflicting confusion. So against his better nature, he did not warn John away from his friend. After all, that was simply "Not his Division". Who was he to say who could have a love life and who couldn't? Hell, he had been having a love life how for a good couple of cycles. It was harder on Mycroft, who had to introduce himself time and time again. Who couldn't tell him things until he remembered it himself. Yet somehow, they still managed to work. Time and time again, they were drawn to each other like magnets. It was like despite his past sins and past prejudices, someone above still liked him enough to give him some small shred of hope.
Or perhaps torture him with how it was always inevitably ripped away in the end.
Who was he to say John Watson wasn't pulled into Sherlock's life for the exact same reason after all?
After all, it was impossible to go against Fate.
But Greg liked to believe at least once in a while that sometimes it was possible to twist it just a little.
In the end, they agree to keep John Watson.
If only because none of them have ever seen Sherlock look so pained and humble as he bowed his head and murmured
"I love him."
When Sherlock comes home, the door slamming behind him, John is waiting. The man looks nervous, jiggling his leg as he sits on the couch and stares at the Detective, a wealth of different expressions painting his face. Sherlock can read them all. Guilt, worry, love, and a fragile sort of shame. For a moment his heart stutters in his chest, and he wonders if John regrets the night before. His mouth feels dry, and for a moment the two stare at each other as both of them wonder if the other wishes they could turn back time.
Then John speaks.
"Sherlock, I'm so sorry I did that I-"
And he is cut off in surprise as the Detective lunges for his lips, meeting them with hungry warmth as Sherlock realizes that John is not mad at him.
Both of them fall off the couch, ignoring the fact that their hearts are falling harder into an endless pit of pent-up emotion and love.
And it is fine.
It is all fine.