?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: The Deepest Secret Nobody Knows
Recipient: lmusic
Author: [to be revealed]
Characters/Pairings: BBC Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Reichenbach. Tiny spoilers for "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
Summary: Sherlock has been gone from Baker Street for exactly 388 days. When he returns, nothing is quite the way he expected it to be.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but technically Sherlock Holmes is public domain. Still, please don't sue me, BBC.
Notes: Title from the ee cummings poem "i carry your heart with me". Thank you [redacted] for the heroic last-minute beta effort. lmusic, I hope you enjoy the fic.


The Deepest Secret Nobody Knows



She's already there when he arrives, clutching her coffee mug to warm her hands. It's December and unusually cold for London. The air smells of snow, and Sherlock estimates that by Christmas Day at the latest the city will be covered in white that will quickly turn to slush.

She only notices him when he slides into the seat across from her. The eighteen months since he last saw her haven't been kind to her. Her hands are shaking in a way that has nothing to do with cold, and her eyes have a furtive, desperate edge that wasn't quite as apparent the last time they met.

She fixes him with the same appraising look he knows his own face is showing.

"That looks painful," she finally says, gesturing at his taped nose, a faint hint of satisfaction in her voice.

Sherlock shrugs. "It's fine."

She snorts, then takes a sip of her coffee.

Silence falls. Sherlock fidgets a little in his seat. He was determined not to be the first to speak, but he just has to know.

"Did John send you?"

She smiles a little meanly and shakes her head. "No, he doesn't know I'm here."

Something inside Sherlock – something akin to hope – deflates. "Then what do you want, Harriet?" he asks, already losing interest in the conversation.

"I-" she hesitates just for a second. "I wanted to ask you to leave him alone," she finally blurts out. "You don't know what it was like, when you were - well, when we thought you were dead."

Sherlock flinches a little. "I can imagine."

She snorts. "I don't think you can."

The words hit Sherlock hard. He knows that everybody thinks he's a complete and utterly heartless bastard, but he does in fact have some idea of how John must have felt, if only because for the year he was gone he often felt like an amputee, looking over his shoulder for someone who wasn't there.

"How is he?" he asks. He knows that John's kipping on Harriet's couch after he stormed out of Baker Street three weeks ago.

"Bad." It's a simple statement of fact, but it makes Sherlock feel sick to his stomach.

"Look," Harriet says, and something about her tone makes Sherlock look up and take the concern on her face seriously. "He's… I won't say that he's too good for you, even though we both know that's true. But the simple fact is that you're bad for him. You're very, very bad for him. So please, stay away. Let him go."

Her blunt honesty and the complete conviction in her voice hit Sherlock in the gut like a punch.

Objectively, he knows she's right. But he also knows that it won't make one bit of difference to him.

So he just gets up and walks away.

He could let John go now. He's gotten used to not having him around. It was a little bit like getting used to only having one leg, or chronic migraine. But he could do it now.

But the thing is that he doesn't want to. And Sherlock has never been very good at doing things he doesn't want to do.

*-*

It's already turning dark by the time John walks out of the surgery. Sherlock has been waiting in front of the door for two solid hours by then, and he's lost all feeling in his fingers and toes.

John sees him the moment he steps out of the door, and for a fleeting moment, Sherlock can see conflicting emotions play on his face. Joy, pain, weariness. Finally, weariness seems to win out and when he walks towards Sherlock, he only looks tired.

He's also wearing glasses. Thin, horn-rimmed glasses. Somehow, that little, insignificant detail hits Sherlock like a sledgehammer. Sherlock has never seen these glasses before. He's been observing John's deteriorating eyesight since the moment they met, but he'd estimated that it would take at least two more years for it to become so bad that John would stoop to actually seeing an ophthalmologist. But apparently, sometime during the year Sherlock was gone, John's eyesight deteriorated enough for him to get glasses. Of course Sherlock immediately wants to pluck them from John's nose and examine them in detail, and a whole catalogue of questions develops in Sherlock's brain. How strong are they? Does he have contacts? Does he need them to read? To work? To drive?

And in counterpoint, another voice inside his head just whispers, God he looks good.

Finally John is standing in front of him, near enough to talk to, near enough to touch.

Suddenly, Sherlock discovers that there's a lump in his throat and he has no idea what to say. He hasn't talked to John in three weeks. His emails have gone unanswered. John's mobile number is disconnected. His office phone is always answered by the surgery's secretary. He never opened the door at Harry's no matter how hard Sherlock knocked on it.

Silence falls. John's staring at Sherlock, looking as pole-axed as Sherlock feels. The last time they talked, John was blazing with anger, but this time Sherlock can see how wary John looks, how tired, how haggard and hollow.

"How's your nose?" John finally asks. He sounds tired, too.

"It's fine," he repeats the answer he gave Harriet. "The swelling has gone down."

John grimaces a little as if in pain. "I'm sorry about that," he mutters, rubbing his hand over his face. "God, I broke your nose," he adds, and there's a slightly hysterical tinge to his voice, like it's almost funny but at the same time the farthest from it he can think of.

"I may have deserved it," Sherlock says, and John looks at him again, surprised and almost smiling.

"Kind of," John admits.

And then they're just looking at each other in the dim light of rapidly descending winter dusk. Sherlock is losing the sense of his body, and he doesn't know whether it's from the cold or from the heady rush of being with John again, of seeing him, hearing his voice, looking into his eyes.

For a long time, they just stare at each other, in a sort of disbelieving limbo, like this is too good to be real and too painful to be good.

Finally, John seems to shake himself out of it and draws breath to speak.

"When did you finally decide to get your eyesight checked?" Sherlock rushes out to prevent John from saying whatever it is he was going to say. Sherlock's one hundred percent sure that it wasn't I'm coming home, and he's one hundred percent sure that whatever else John has to say right now, he doesn't want to hear it.

John heaves a sigh and visibly deflates, as if whatever he was going to say, whatever strength he gathered has deserted him. "About six months ago. I'm getting a little far-sighted in my old age," he says, giving Sherlock a tiny, self-deprecating smile.

Sherlock swallows, at a complete loss for words. This has never happened to him before. He usually has a million things to say. He does now as well, but he has no idea where to start. I'm sorry? Come home, for the love of God, please come home? Stop looking at me like that, like it pains you to lay eyes on me, and look at me again like I'm amazing, like I'm the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?

He's shivering by now, his teeth knocking with cold.

John shakes his head and grabs his arm. "Christ, Sherlock, you're shaking. You'll catch your death. Go home. I'll talk to you later, all right? Just go home and get warm."

"I don't have your number," Sherlock says dumbly, like he can't move before John gives him his number. His entire awareness has narrowed down to John's hand on his arm and how insanely good it feels to be touched.

John sighs and removes his hand again. It almost hurts, losing that contact, but it's worth it, because John is pulling a piece of paper out of his coat pocket. He adjusts his glasses in a way that makes Sherlock's heart lurch and scribbles something on the paper. "Here," he says, and Sherlock takes the digits of John's new mobile number like the precious gift it is.

"You'll answer?" Sherlock asks, voice barely audible.

"Yes. I'll answer."

Sherlock smiles, and in his joy he manages to ignore that John's voice sounds as if he was just involved in an exhausting wrestling match and lost.

He watches John walk away, numb with cold, but with the warm glow of hope in his stomach.

Then he immediately takes out his phone and sends a text to John's new mobile number.

The glasses look good on you. SH.

It takes the entire taxi ride back to Baker Street for the reply to come, but it's worth the wait.

Thank you. Wear a scarf, it's bloody December.

Sherlock smiles. Hope, indeed.

*-*

Early the next day, his mobile rings, which is rare these days, since Lestrade doesn't talk to him, all his clients think he's still dead, and he has – temporarily, he hopes – lost his blogger.

He answers, which he normally wouldn't, thinking it might be John.

It's his mother.

"Are you coming to my Christmas party, love?"

This year, his mother has decided that rather than staying in their country home in Yorkshire and summoning her sons there, she'd descend to London, rent an entire floor of the Savoy and host a gigantic Christmas party to welcome her lost son back into the land of the living. Sherlock has no doubt that she was the one person Mycroft chose to tell about the exaggeration of the rumours of his demise, as evidenced by her total lack of surprise at his reappearance, but she still chooses to pretend that she didn't know, just to guilt him into doing things for her. Like coming to her party.

"I've invited your young man as well," she says sweetly, but with a hint of gravity in her voice.

"He's not my young man, mother. He's not as young as all that, for starters, and he's not mine, anyhow," Sherlock grates out between gritted teeth. Not mine. Not anymore. Not yet.

He has to admit that she's clever, though, because two seconds ago, he wasn't going to come to the party, but John's presence there will practically guarantee his attendance. "Anyway, did he say that he was coming?"

"Of course he's coming, Sherlock, you know people never say no to me," she says. "We've always gotten along splendidly, so I didn't even have to try that hard. Whatever you've done to that boy, Sherlock, you had better try your damndest to make up for it."

"If he gives me the chance," Sherlock mutters.

*-*

As soon as his mother has rung off, Sherlock sends off a text to John.

Sorry about my mother. SH.

They've been texting back and forth for the last few days. Nothing has been said that is worth repeating, but John has answered every time, and that alone is a promising sign. He's also started writing in his blog again, and Sherlock has been gobbling up every word, about John's day, his lunch, and how annoyed he is by Harry. It's more information about John than he's had in a year, and it's making Sherlock greedy for more, more, more, so he's been spending his days combing back through older blog entries from last year and trying to deduce as much from them as he can. He's so far resisted snooping around in John's email account, but the episode with the glasses has brought it into stark relief that he missed an entire year of John's life, and he wants to know what John has been doing with himself. He hopes that John will start actually talking to him again before he succumbs to the temptation of hacking into John's laptop.

His mobile beeps. John's answered his text.

It's fine. I like her.

Does that mean you're coming tonight? SH.

There's an ominous pause. It's almost half an hour before John answers.

I guess so. Yes. If you want me to.

I want you to. SH. Sherlock texts back immediately.

I'll see you there, then.

Sherlock smiles at his mobile. Progress. Definite progress.

*-*

He's standing at the door to 221B. He's dreamed about this moment so often. It's November and cold, and he hasn't set foot in Baker Street in 388 days, since he and John left for the Continent to catch Jim Moriarty for good.

John's in. He knows that. The telly is on, and there's a faint smell of take-out curry in the air.

Sherlock has evaded Mrs. Hudson and is hovering outside the door to their sitting room.

Home. He can't quite make himself believe it. He's weary beyond belief and blurry from jet lag and half sick from travelling halfway around the world. But Sebastian Moran is dead. Lestrade and John caught him in London, and John shot him in self-defence during the arrest. Between Sherlock and Mycroft's efforts to put enough of Moriarty's henchmen all over the world away, and this latest Met strike against the operation, Sherlock finally deemed that John was safe enough for him to come home. Moran was the last who knew how easy it is to get to Sherlock through John. Moran was the last who knew that Sherlock loves John.

Sherlock puts his hand on the warm wood. The house still smells the same, slightly dusty, mould from 221C seeping into the staircase, intermingled with old carpet smell, London smell –smog and rain and tea - and John.

John. John, who's behind this door. John, who Sherlock longs to see and is terrified of seeing. John, who is the reason Sherlock came back at all and didn't lose himself in endless travels and endless chases of the same criminals all over the world. Who's the reason Sherlock held himself together and the reason Sherlock almost fell apart.

He knocks.

There's an interminable pause as Sherlock hears John walk towards the door.

The door opens.

John looks good. Comfortable and warm in his oatmeal-coloured jumper and his ancient corduroy pants.

He doesn't even look that surprised to see Sherlock. He only looks gutted, like somebody reached inside him and took out everything that mattered.

And then he's reaching for Sherlock and kissing him, hands buried in Sherlock's hair, and Sherlock is laughing and crying at the same time and…


Sherlock wakes up, face down on the kitchen table where he fell asleep over his latest experiment, meaningless but a way to keep himself busy during the endlessly empty days in his empty flat and his empty life.

He hates this dream. It's on repeat in his head almost every time he closes his eyes.

It's what he wanted to happen more than anything. It isn't what happened.

Instead, John looked at him with the kind of deep, wordless anger Sherlock has only seen on him a very few, frightening times. And then John punched him in the face. And then he yelled at him, incoherently, calling him heartless and bastard and traitor and bastard again, how dare he just show up after a year, as if nothing happened, without a word, without an explanation. And then he went upstairs, packed a bag and left.

And Sherlock was stuck muttering, "I'm sorry, it was for you, don't you see, he would've used you against me, again and again, and I couldn't stand it, you were safe, that's all that mattered, you were safe, and I'm sorry."

John didn't answer his emails, or pick up the phone at Harry's, and the three times Sherlock showed up at Harry's doorstep, he didn't even open the door.

But now, apparently, John has softened somewhat. Now, maybe, John will let him explain. Now, maybe, John is prepared to try to forgive him.

If only he'd come home. Sherlock doesn't expect it to be like it was before. But maybe, if John comes home, they'll be friends again. It'll be enough. It'll have to be enough.

*-*

It's seven in the evening on December 24th, and the streets are nearly deserted. It's shockingly easy to find a taxi, and traffic is almost nonexistent. Apparently, everybody has already gone wherever they wanted to go. It smells heavily of snow and the clouds are thick and dark, hanging low and threatening over a silent London glittering with fairy lights and candles.

The Savoy is lit up by hundreds of Christmas lights and trees. It's already snowing lightly by the time Sherlock enters. Children are carolling in the foyer. It smells of cinnamon and Christmas punch. It's enough to make one sick to one's stomach.

His mother has booked the suite on the top floor, as always. When he walks in, the party is already in full swing. People dressed to the nines are milling about, eating canapés and drinking punch or champagne. Sherlock knows exactly none of them, but then again, he pays hardly any attention to them, because from the second he's handed his coat to an attending waiter, he's scanning the crowd for John.

There. Chatting with Sherlock's mother. He's wearing a dark blue suit, a white dress shirt, his regimental tie. He's smiling distantly and there's an expression of polite interest on his face.

For a moment, disconcertingly, he looks like a stranger. A smooth, boring, good-looking stranger. Somebody Sherlock doesn't know at all.

But then John turns and looks at him and there's a faint smile on his face, wistful and sad, and something inside Sherlock goes, There he is, and suddenly John is so very familiar again, and Sherlock can read him like his favourite book once more. He knows that look in his eyes, the one that says, God you look good, and Where have you been, I've been waiting, and It hurts to even look at you. Sherlock knows exactly what John is thinking because he's thinking pretty much the same.

He joins his mother and John mid-conversation and politely waits until his mother is done telling John about her renovation projects and her charity work, all the while trying not to stare at John too obviously, all the while knowing that John is trying not to stare too obviously at him.

Then, finally, his mother excuses herself and leaves the two of them alone, or as alone as one can be in a room with fifty strangers milling about.

"You look good," Sherlock says, smiling slightly at John's obvious discomfort with the compliment.

John shrugs. "Well. You too," he says without looking at Sherlock. "I'm going to get a drink," he adds, gesturing vaguely at the bar and walking away.

Sherlock's about to follow when his way is barred by his brother. Mycroft is wearing his usual three-piece suit and is carrying a stick instead of an umbrella, and there's a serious expression on his face. "Progress?" he asks without any preliminary pleasantries.

"Mind your own business," Sherlock snaps, not taking his eyes off John's retreating form. "Not much," he adds grudgingly.

"He's here, isn't he?" Mycroft says softly, and Sherlock shrugs, trying for nonchalant, unwilling to admit that his brother's tacit encouragement does make him feel better. If only a little.

*-*

He loses sight of John after that. Mycroft hands him over to their aunt Sylvia, and she drags him around to several family members, who all engage him in meaningless chatter, chief topic of which is the by now heavy snowfall that's steadily turning into a blizzard.

The next time he sees John, it's an hour later. John's leaning against the bar, trapped between Sherlock's mother and his aunt Ruth. He looks like he wants to jump out of the window, and he's holding a glass of single malt that's considerably less full than it's supposed to be.

Sherlock extricates himself less than politely from his uncle Robert and casually walks over to the little group. The two women are talking at John, and John looks like he's listening politely, but Sherlock knows that look, and he knows that internally, John is naming all the bones in the human body right now to keep calm.

"The two of you must come down over Easter, John, the countryside is so lovely in Spring," Sherlock's mother is gushing, pretending to all the world that nothing at all happened over the past year that might put his and John's relationship on a less than cordial footing, and Sherlock can practically hear John's molars grind together.

"Mother," he says, smoothly inserting himself into the conversation, "Mycroft is teasing the Bishop of York again."

It has the desired effect, because his mother and his aunt Ruth both excuse themselves with matching mischievous grins to go watch the show.

John gives him a tiny smile, obviously amused. "Mycroft is teasing high-ranking members of the clergy, is he?"

Sherlock shrugs. "I wouldn't put it past him."

John looks past Sherlock to where a group has formed to watch Mycroft and an elderly gentleman engaged in a lively discussion. "Did you actually see him talk to the Bishop, or did you just venture a very lucky guess?"

Sherlock huffs. "I never guess."

"Yes, you do," John says, and suddenly all amusement fades. "Well," he says, "This seems an excellent opportunity to flee the scene, if you ask me."

He drains his single malt with a determination that Sherlock dislikes immensely.

"You shouldn't drink this much," he blurts out.

John glares at him over the rim of the glass. "Sherlock, you're the last person on earth who should lecture anyone on temperance," he says, a little more sharply than entirely warranted, but he immediately deflates again and sighs. "But, as usual, you're right. I've had enough. I'm too old to get roaring drunk, however much I might want to."

He puts the glass down with a faint tinge of something like regret and starts walking towards the cloakroom. Sherlock follows automatically, without thinking about it.

The attendant is just handing John his jacket when Sherlock stops beside him and gestures at his own coat.

"You don't have to see me out," John says, and there's a tension in his voice that says more clearly than words that he would rather Sherlock didn't.

Perversely, of course, that means Sherlock absolutely will. "It's no trouble. I actually wanted to leave myself. Need to finish an experiment."

John shoots him a look that clearly denotes that he doesn't believe a word out of Sherlock's mouth. But all he says is, "Fine. Fine."

"You might have some trouble getting back to Harriet's in Wimbledon tonight," Sherlock points out as they walk to the lifts together. "It's been snowing steadily for an hour, and if my calculations are correct, which they always are, the trains will only run for thirty more minutes."

"All the more reason to get out of here," John says and pushes the lift button repeatedly.

They wait in silence, and there's an uncomfortable edge to it that Sherlock can't help but be aware of. It's something he isn't used to, because he and John were always able to talk together or be quiet together without any discomfort whatsoever. But as he refuses to engage in small talk just for the sake of something to say, he keeps his mouth shut.

The lift arrives, and they both get in. John presses the button for the lobby.

They start moving down, and the soft, monotone music somewhat softens the almost frosty silence between them. Sherlock has no idea what to say, and he has absolutely no clue what to do either. He knows he doesn't want John to just walk away tonight, but he hasn't the faintest idea how to stop him.

Suddenly, the lift screeches to an abrupt stop, and both of them stagger on their feet. The lights flicker, then go out completely, before the emergency light comes on.

They lurch a few inches, but then all movement stills. An alarm bell starts ringing.

"Now what?" John mutters, annoyed, pressing the buttons on the lift in the dim twilight of the emergency lights, as if that's going to help anything.

"We appear to be stuck," Sherlock points out.

John snorts. "No offence, but this much I sort of guessed."

Sherlock huffs. "There's no reason to get annoyed at me, I hardly arranged for the elevator to stop." Although I might have if it had occurred to me, Sherlock admits silently.

"Sorry," John says absently, pulling out his phone and checking for a signal. "Nothing. You?"

Sherlock checks his phone. "No."

John presses the emergency communication button. "Hello? We're stuck. Hello?"

No answer.

"Fantastic," John mutters. "What do you think? Power outage?"

Sherlock shrugs. "Most likely scenario."

"Don't hotels usually have backup generators?" John asks, still staring at the communication unit.

"Usually, generators have limited capacity. They operate the phones and the fire safety systems," Sherlock explains.

That moment, the communications unit crackles to life. "Lift number three, any occupants?"

John pushes the ‘Talk' button. "Two."

"Any injuries?"

"No."

"Sit tight, we'll get you out soon."

The crackling stops, and the unit is silent again.

"That's it?" John asks, finally turning around to face Sherlock.

"We're low priority," Sherlock says, shrugging out of his coat and bundling it up to make a cushion, then sitting down on the floor, leaning his back against the wall. "We're not injured, and it's far too much work to crank the lift manually to the ground floor to get us out. Once the power goes back on, we'll be fine."

John nods absently. "I guess you're right." He follows Sherlock's example and sits down, using his jacket as a makeshift pillow.

"There goes my train, I guess," John says, checking his watch.

"Probably," Sherlock agrees, then he leans his head back and closes his eyes, listening to the whirring and creaking of the elevator as it adjusts to hanging in mid-air without moving.

"Sherlock?" John asks after a short silence.

"Yes?"

"You probably know the odds of this thing crashing," John says contemplatively. "Right?"

"Yes," Sherlock affirms with a nod.

"Please keep them to yourself," John says, and there's the tiniest hint of amusement in his voice.

"I wasn't going to go into the statistics of lift-related deaths with you," Sherlock answers, aware that he sounds more than a little defensive.

"I never know what you come up with when you're bored," John says, holding his hands up in a disclaiming gesture. "Remember the time during the Baskerville case when we were looking for that damned dog in the middle of the night in a foggy bog and you told me about the likelihood of being bitten by an adder and statistics about deaths from snake venom?"

"I was being informative," Sherlock says, but he can't quite bite down on a smile.

"You were being a pain," John shoots back, but he seems to have trouble to keep from smiling as well. "Anyway," he says, clearly shaking himself out of the memory, "fortunately, my phone has a chess app."

John takes out the phone and his glasses – Sherlock again resists the urge to pluck them off his face – and starts the app. He makes his first move – John always plays white, Sherlock always plays black – before handing the phone to Sherlock.

Sherlock makes his move and hands it back to John, then rests his head back against the wall of the elevator and closes his eyes. "Just tell me your moves, and I'll tell you mine." He doesn't need to see the board to play, as John very well knows. More often than not, it's a distraction. He prefers mapping the game out in his head.

"Knight to F6," John says, and Sherlock can hear him fiddle with the buttons of the phone to move the tiny stone there.

"Pawn E2 to E4."

They play for a while in relative quiet; the only words passing between them are related to the game. Sherlock is beating John soundly after about five minutes, which is unusual, because normally John hangs on a lot longer than that, mostly by being by and large the most unpredictable opponent Sherlock has ever played, but obviously his mind isn't really on the game. Sherlock's isn't, either, but it's less obvious with him, because even at half capacity, he's still a better player than most people on their best days.

"This is getting uncomfortable," John says after a while, shifting in his seat. Sherlock can tell from his voice that his shoulder and back are starting to hurt from sitting on the floor in an uncomfortable position.

"Won't be long now," Sherlock says, opening his eyes to watch John fidget around.

"This has to be the most uncomfortable Christmas Eve I've ever spent," John complains, checking his watch. It's been about twenty minutes since the power outage, but it feels longer, sitting here in the semidarkness, alone with John.

If he's entirely honest with himself, Sherlock quite enjoys the situation.

"I don't know," he says in answer to John's complaint. "Are we counting the one we spent in jail?"

John is trying and failing not to smile. "Well, we had blankets. And beds. Of sorts. But then again, some of the blokes in there with us were enough to make not falling asleep very easy."

"We don't have any pillows now, true," Sherlock concedes.

"But the company is better," John adds, pointedly not looking at Sherlock.

Sherlock turns his head away to hide his smile.

John nudges his ankle to get his attention. "Most uncomfortable place we've ever been trapped in?" he asks, an obvious attempt to change the subject, but Sherlock lets it go.

"The bank vault in France," he says without hesitation.

"The hut you hid out in during the Baskerville case," John counters.

"I don't know, it wasn't that bad," Sherlock argues. "It had hot water of sorts and an indoor toilet."

"It had no Wi-Fi and no phone reception. When I found you there you were ready to chew the bark off the nearby trees," John says, gesturing at his head to indicate Sherlock's deteriorated mental state.

"Admittedly, the telecommunication situation was unfortunate," Sherlock concedes. "I would like to point out, though, that we nearly suffocated in the bank vault."

"Good point," John admits, then he gives Sherlock this tiny, self-deprecating smile that scrapes all over Sherlock's insides in a not entirely unpleasant way. "Why do these things always happen to us? Why are we always the ones to get stuck in bank vaults or elevators or prison?"

Something about the question brings up a memory of his talk with Harriet earlier in the week, and Sherlock swallows. "John?"

"Yes?" John's voice is quiet and low, as if he's detected Sherlock's sudden turn for the serious.

"Am I bad for you?" Sherlock asks, closing his eyes so he won't have to look at John.

"What?" John sounds genuinely surprised at the question.

"Harriet met me for coffee a few days ago and said I should leave you alone because I'm bad for you. And I was just wondering, am I?" he asks, his voice barely holding steady over the last few words.

John huffs out a humorless laugh. "Leaving aside the absurdity of Harry of all people telling anyone they're not good for me?" He sighs. "I don't know. Right now might not be the best time to ask me this. I'm still too angry with you."

Sherlock sighs. "I know. Forget I said anything."

John nudges him with the phone and Sherlock opens his eyes again and looks directly into John's, and he doesn't look angry right now, not even a little bit, but Sherlock knows that doesn't mean he isn't.

"Your move," John says, holding out the phone.

Sherlock glances at the chess board on the phone. "You'll be checkmate in three, you know that, right?"

"I figured," John says, taking the phone from Sherlock and dropping it carelessly on the floor. He's clearly lost all interest in the game, and that's fine by Sherlock.

They're quiet for a while, but it's the kind of silence that leads up to something, and Sherlock knows John well enough that he can almost hear the wheels turning in John's head.

"Tell me your worst Christmas story, and I'll tell you mine," John says, and there's a catch in his voice, like he's trying to wrestle some powerful emotion down.

Sherlock hesitates for a moment, then decides that John deserves an honest answer.

"My father died on Boxing Day 1994," he, trying to recite the information as emotionlessly as possible. "We'd just returned from my grandmother's Christmas lunch. It was 3.30 in the afternoon. My father was short of breath, but he was always short of breath, so none of us took any notice. Chest pain followed, shooting pain up his arm. My mother immediately called an ambulance, but emergency medical care in rural Yorkshire takes a while. He died on the way to the hospital."

"I'm sorry," John mutters, his voice full of compassion. "I didn't know that."

"It was a long time ago. I never talk about it," Sherlock says. "I wasn't close to my father. Still, I suppose that counts as the worst Christmas ever."

John nods. "Definitely."

Sherlock looks at John, who's fallen silent, like whatever he wanted to say seems stupid now.

"What's yours?" he asks, to get John talking again. He's already gotten more out of John tonight than he could have imagined in his wildest dreams, and the rush of information is making him greedy. He wants to know what's going on behind that look in John's eyes.

"Honestly?" John gives him an inscrutable look and a tiny, sad smile. "Last year. I was sitting in Harry's kitchen, getting drunk on eggnog, eating leftovers from your funeral. Then I was sick twice and Harry had to help me to bed. And all the while I was thinking that any second now, you'd burst through the door and drag me off to Beirut or Italy or something."

Sherlock swallows. No words come. He clears his throat. Still nothing.

"You know," John continues, not looking at him, taking off his glasses and fiddling with them, "for the longest time, I didn't believe it. There was no body, so you couldn't be dead. I even had this long row with Lestrade and Mycroft about the funeral, because I knew you'd think it stupid to hold a funeral for an empty coffin."

"I did," Sherlock admits. His voice still won't quite work, so he sounds like he's been strangled.

John flashes him a quick, humourless smile, then continues in a quiet, thoughtful voice, "So did I. But I went anyway. And all the while I was waiting for you to burst through the doors and laugh at us because we fell for your charade. And afterwards, I just kept waiting for you to come for me. I used to compulsively check my phone and my emails for a message from you. ‘In Baghdad. Come if convenient. If inconvenient, come anyway. SH.'" John indicates the quotes with his fingers. "But there was nothing. Total silence. So I started to accept it. And now here you are. And I keep wondering, more than anything, why you didn't come for me."

"I wanted to," Sherlock says, and he still sounds like somebody poured acid down his throat. He feels like it, too. "I wanted to."

"Then why didn't you?" John asks, and there it is, in his voice, a sliver of anger, at last. "Don't you think I would've gone with you to wherever you went? Don't you think I would've done anything for you?"

"That's why I couldn't," Sherlock says, and he can hear the anger in his own voice, too, only it isn't necessarily directed at John. "I hated that they always used you against me. That Moriarty and Moran always held your life in balance with whatever they wanted. I couldn't stand it anymore. I knew that sooner or later, we wouldn't be fast or good or lucky enough and one or the other of them would kill you. And it'd be my fault. And I couldn't take that anymore. So I went after them alone. And you were safe and sound in London. Hating me, but safe."

John sighs deeply. "I don't hate you. I tried, but I just. I can't."

Sherlock smiles slightly, oddly relieved by the obviousness of the statement. "That's something, I suppose. Now if we can just get you to be a little glad to have me back," he adds, trying and failing to make his voice light, to make it sound like a joke.

John just stares at him. "You don't think I'm glad to have you back?" he asks, and there's something quivering in his voice, something like anger, but not quite.

Sherlock looks at him and shrugs. "You broke my nose. You wouldn't talk to me. If you are glad I'm back, you haven't done a very good job of showing it."

John just stares at him, apparently beyond words. Then he grabs Sherlock's arm and pulls him towards John until Sherlock's stumbled into John's personal space, still on his knees.

Then, softly, ever so lightly, he presses his lips to Sherlock's.

Time slows to a crawl. Sherlock's heart is beating very loudly and very fast. John swallows. His eyes are wide and uncertain.

"How was that?" he asks, barely audibly.

Sherlock swallows. "Good," he croaks. "That was good."

And then John is pulling him in, and Sherlock all but collapses into John's lap, and then they're kissing, really kissing, deep, slow, long kisses, and Sherlock wants to die because it can't get any better than this, ever.

"Oh god, you nutter," John whispers against his mouth between teasing, licking kisses. "Do you have any idea, any concept of how much I've missed you?"

"Yes," Sherlock breathes against John's mouth. "Yes. God. Kiss me again."

And John does. He kisses Sherlock stupid, kisses him until Sherlock can't breathe, can't think, can't do anything but hold on to John and touch every inch of him he can reach, his arms, his chest, his face, the back of his skull. John's hands slide under his jacket, along his back, holding Sherlock close, as if he's afraid Sherlock will vanish if he lets go. As if Sherlock is ever going anywhere ever again.

Slow-simmering warmth turns to heat when Sherlock feels John's growing erection rub against his own. "John," he whispers against John's lips, rocking his hips down. "John," he mutters against John's throat as he mouths his way down to John's collarbone, biting, kissing, licking, tasting, enjoying the way John squirms under him, the way John pants into his ear. "I want…"

"Anything," John answers, breathless, desperate. "Anything."

It's all the permission Sherlock needs. He would like to strip John naked and touch him all over, drive him insane with his tongue and his mouth and his hands, and maybe he'll get to do all of this later, but now he needs to feel John come apart.

With clumsy fingers he opens John's fly and pushes his underwear out of the way, reaching for John's cock without a hint of finesse. It's been so long, and he's missed this so much, the smell of John, the feel of him, the way he looks and sounds.

He pushes John's thighs apart and kneels between them without any subtlety, then he bends down and swallows down John's cock as far as it will go.

John cries out harshly, almost like he's in pain, but the way his hand fists in Sherlock's hair and holds him there tells a different story. And god, but nothing compares to this, to having John's hard length in his mouth, running his tongue along the underside and feeling John shiver down to his toes, John's hand in his hair holding him and guiding him and making him stay. Every quiver of John's, every sound, every desperate whisper of his name, every time John's hand convulsively fists in his hair, Sherlock feels it all directly in his cock, already beyond hard and pressing painfully against his fly. But for now he enjoys the desperate edge to his arousal, entirely focused on getting John off. And Sherlock can tell it won't take long, because John is already on edge, and Sherlock is going down on John like he's starved for this for a long time, which of course he did. He uses every trick, every swirl of tongue, hint of teeth, deep throat until he almost chokes, everything he knows drives John insane, and John's already shaking and sounding like he's dying, and he's pulling at Sherlock's hair until it's almost too painful to bear, but Sherlock doesn't relent until John comes into his mouth with a strangled cry and sags back against the elevator wall, spent and sated and looking half dead.

Sherlock sits up and looks at him, and he has about half a second of satisfied glow until John opens his eyes and gazes at Sherlock, predatory glint in his eyes. "That's a good look on you," John whispers, pulling Sherlock back into his lap and kissing his swollen lips, moaning.

"That's a good taste on you," he whispers, and Sherlock honest to god whimpers, because he's hard enough that it almost hurts, and John is relentlessly teasing him, running his tongue along Sherlock's lips.

Finally, finally, John reaches down to palm Sherlock's cock through his pants, and it's almost enough to make Sherlock come, but then John unzips Sherlock's pants and takes out his cock, and oh god, John knows exactly how Sherlock likes to be touched, and oh god, his hands, his fucking doctor-hands, so good, so good, so very good. Heat sparks everywhere in his body, and his toes curl, and then thought goes through the window and he's coming in long, exhausting spurts all over John's hand, all the while whispering, "John, John, John," against John's neck, until slumping down, feeling like he's a puppet whose strings were cut and he'll never move again.

They stay like this for a long time. Sherlock has lost all sense of time and place, and it takes him a while to realize that he just had sex in an elevator, but that's quickly eclipsed by the mind-boggling realization that he just had sex, with John, in an elevator.

He manages to sit up enough to gaze at John, who looks like Sherlock feels, messed up and blissful and vaguely traumatized.

Then John deliberately and slowly, without breaking eye-contact, kisses Sherlock again. "Stop thinking," he says quietly against Sherlock's lips.

Sherlock lets John manhandle him, clean him up and pull him down until he's slumped against John again, his head resting on John's shoulder, John's fingers carding through his hair.

"I'm still angry, you know," John says quietly, gently running a hand over Sherlock's back when Sherlock tries to move. "I'm still angry, and I probably will be for a long time. But there are two things I want you to remember. First, no matter how angry I was, there was never a second when I wasn't deliriously happy to see you at the same time. And second, I don't think you're bad for me. Not any worse than I am for you, anyway. We're both enablers of each other's worst traits and neither of us is good at balance. When we're in a bad place, we're horrible for each other. But when we're good, we're amazing. We're fantastic. And we're very often very good together. So it's worth it."

Sherlock sits up. He has to see John's face to know that he's serious. "Honestly?"

John nods. "It's worth it."

And this time, Sherlock believes him. He smiles and settles back down, closing his eyes. He's so very tired.

Suddenly, without any warning, the lights come back on, and the elevator lurches, then starts moving again.

They both sit up and look at each other. John's a spectacle of depravity, and Sherlock is sure that he doesn't look any better.

They share a long look, then they both start laughing.

John pulls Sherlock to his feet, and they dress themselves as neatly as possible under the circumstances. Sherlock picks up John's glasses from the floor and finally examines them (-1.0 right, -0.75 left, antireflective glass, impression marks seem to indicate that John only wears them rarely – reading, work, computer monitor - frame type ten quid Marks & Spencer, plastic, infinitely replaceable – conclusion: Sherlock needs to get John new frames.)

Then the elevator dings and they emerge into the lobby of the Savoy, looking rumpled but somewhat decent.

Sherlock blinks at their surroundings, disoriented after their interminable time in the elevator. He doesn't quite feel like the same person who entered it just a few short hours ago.

"What time is it?" he asks John.

John checks his wristwatch. "Nine-thirty."

Sherlock shakes his head, smiling. They were only in that elevator for about ninety minutes. It felt like half a lifetime.

John nudges him and holds out his hand. "So?" he says, trying for nonchalant, but coming out nervous. "You want to go home?"

Sherlock smiles and takes his hand. "Yes. Definitely. Let's go home."

Comments

( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
yeomanrand
Dec. 11th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Delicious. And heartbreaking. And sweet.
(Deleted comment)
shezan
Dec. 11th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
Beat me to it. GO MYCROFT.

(And LOVELY fic!)
madrona_8
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
Yep, I think there is a Mycroft involved
tvillingar
Dec. 25th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
Amazingly enough, I think Mycroft had a hand in this as well ;)
what_alchemy
Dec. 11th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
I am a sucker for post-Reichenbach fic. Felt true and satisfying.
(Deleted comment)
shefa
Dec. 11th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, lovely. Just lovely. I love that John doesn't forgive him so fast... and that Sherlock doesn't give up easily, either. Beautifully written.
innie_darling
Dec. 12th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Oh, this is gorgeous.
arwen_kenobi
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
That was fantastic.
silver_cyanne
Dec. 12th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
This is my favorite kind of story and this is just perfect. I love how realistic it is, you hurt my heart but you fixed it too.
lbmisscharlie
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)
This is really lovely. I like how you showed all the conflicting feelings John went through - anger, relief, love, sadness. Well done!
talimenios79
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:52 am (UTC)
I really loved this.
dansetheblues
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:51 am (UTC)
Thank goodness for Mummy and Mycroft;I am sure they were both in on the elevator trick together! Lovely, wonderful fic with just the perfect amount of angst.
xjill
Dec. 12th, 2011 08:21 am (UTC)
Lovely.
kim47
Dec. 12th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Beautiful ♥
m_bfly
Dec. 12th, 2011 09:30 am (UTC)
Fantastic <3 I love post-Reichenbach fics.
minnow90
Dec. 12th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
The part I prefered was the one with Mycroft in LOL
ot_mornmeril
Dec. 13th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
you broke my heart and put it back together. so, so lovely <3. and i agree that it must have been Mycroft! haha
maco2111
Dec. 13th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
Absolutely gorgeous and heartbreaking. ♥
random_nexus
Dec. 13th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
This was painful and good and I'm so very happy that you wrote it and that I've read it.

*applause*
venturous1
Dec. 13th, 2011 09:26 am (UTC)
wonderful holiday story! and that clever Mycroft, brilliant solution!
quirkies
Dec. 16th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
Loved how the back story of their relationship slowly fell into place just as their new story was beginning. Lovely!
cathedralcarver
Dec. 16th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
Oh my god. That...was almost unbearably sad. Thank you for ending on a sweet, satisfying and very sexy note :) The entire story felt very believable to me, from John's shock and anger to Sherlock's sadness and confusion. It was all so well done and beautiful.
hobbylobby
Dec. 17th, 2011 08:40 am (UTC)
This is really, really wonderful. Perfect fic
wind_hover
Dec. 18th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
I love the detail about how Mycroft "teases" the clergy - and how that's apparently a spectator sport for everyone else.

I like how realistic you made this fic - Sherlock's hopes, and John's angry reaction, and Harry warning him away. I like how Sherlock acknowledges the difference (For a moment, disconcertingly, he looks like a stranger. A smooth, boring, good-looking stranger. Somebody Sherlock doesn't know at all.) - how much they've changed over the year. And their making up - how John calls Baker Street "home" again, which is another lovely detail.
arcsupport
Dec. 18th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
These were beautifully realized emotions, realistic pacing, heart-rending angst, toe-curling sex, and phrases that hit my pleasure buttons over and over. And that was on the third re-read!
lyrical_sky
Dec. 20th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
Wow! This was stunning.
woldy
Jan. 1st, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
This is fabulous and slightly heart-breaking, because they're both so flawed and John is right to be angry, but Sherlock is right to be so protective. I enjoyed the way their respective families came into it, with Harry warning Sherlock off and Sherlock's mum playing the enabler with her Christmas party, and the scene in the lift was absolutely delicious. Great work!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 14th, 2012 03:26 am (UTC)
"They were only in that elevator for about ninety minutes. It felt like half a lifetime."

I finally unravel.
You genius writer you.
timberwolfoz
Jan. 17th, 2012 05:35 am (UTC)
Absolutely lovely. *applauds*
touristemily
Jan. 23rd, 2012 03:52 am (UTC)
Lovely!
vickita
Jan. 25th, 2012 02:59 am (UTC)
Oh, my, this is delicious. ♥
faithintheboys
Jan. 28th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
i absolutely adored this. And I wouldn't put it past Mycroft or someone else to have made that elevator stop. Great story, thanks!
cordelia_v
Jan. 30th, 2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Yes! Sherlock SHOULD have to crawl on his belly to get back into John's good graces.

We don't see enough of that with BBC Sherlock stories, IMO. I think that's because Martin Freeman conveys so very well that Sherlock is John's whole world, and we know he'll be so relieved when he finds out that Sherlock is alive.

But he should be furious, too. This is note-perfect.
magnetic_pole
Jan. 31st, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Here via cordelia_v's rec. What a lovely, sly, emotionally powerful fic, satisfying in ways I didn't even know I'd wanted. Thank you! Maggie
onlyonechoice
Mar. 6th, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is beautiful - the talent in this fandom is nothing short of astounding.

Let's go home indeed :)
shadowfireflame
Mar. 6th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
No joke, this feels canon to me. Okay, maybe not the ridiculously hot elevator sex, but the misunderstandings and John breaking Sherlock’s nose at their post-Reichenbach reunion and the boring holiday party at the Savoy and the getting stuck in an elevator telling each other stories—and especially playing chess on a phone app. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how chess would be played in an actual episode. Plus, I love how you reused John’s own complimentary words (“amazing, fantastic”) that Sherlock used in Hound, except you wrote this before, so it’s extra-special lovely.
lefaym
Mar. 10th, 2012 05:01 am (UTC)
Ah, this was just lovely! For all that some plot details were jossed in S2, the feeling behind this whole thing still works perfectly, and feels completely plausible.

Also, hot elevator sex FTW. :)
beethemonster
Mar. 11th, 2012 11:47 am (UTC)
oh, this was so beautiful.
honestly, i'm totally in love with this.
♥ ♥
(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done! But just so you know, far sighted means his glasses would be + not -. :)
María Belén Hernández
Apr. 27th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
I love you, Mycroft. Because, come on, it's was Mycroft's work.
It was.. sad, but precious. I really enjoyed it.
mildly_neurotic
May. 17th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely read. I like that he had to woo John back. Verisimilitude, you've got it.

Also I am in the Mycroft killed the elevators camp. LOL
(Deleted comment)
silentauror
Jul. 15th, 2013 01:39 am (UTC)
This is fantastic! I loved it. :)
( 45 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

holmestice
Sherlock Holmes Solstice Exchange
Holmestice @ AO3

Latest Month

April 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner