Rough 5/5

Feb. 16th, 2011 06:57 pm
qthebadwolf: (hurt/comfort ftw!)
[personal profile] qthebadwolf
Title: Rough - 5/5
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Sherlock/John friendship
Word Count: 1,753
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to Auntie Beeb and Uncle Moff; Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world. I'm just playing with him for a little bit.
Spoilers: The Great Game (probably all of them, really)
Warnings: deals with homelessness
Thanks: to my lovely beta/Britpickers [livejournal.com profile] bethia , [livejournal.com profile] gayalondiel , [livejournal.com profile] oncelikeshari and [livejournal.com profile] dreamer_easy ...all lingering mistakes are just me being awkward.
Summary: When John is kidnapped, who can Sherlock trust to help find him?

Notes: In both the books and the series, Sherlock has a rather cavalier attitude towards the homeless people that he uses in his work. I didn't necessarily want to change that with this story, but I did want to play around with it a little bit.

Extras: Screencap illustrations.


Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four



John will be fine. He's always fine. Eventually. The young man reassures his landlady, then fetches his laptop when she's gone. The expected email is waiting for him.

New Message from: jimllfixit@foolsparadise.com

attachment: Bravo.avi

Click.

A familiar face in a Westwood suit; smirking. Slow clapping.

"Well done. Your little lost puppy home safe now, is he? Back at his master's feet? How touching."

A brief sneer, then flirty nonchalance. "Come on, though, admit it, that was clever. Hiding him in plain sight like that. How do you make a man disappear? Turn him into somebody that no one wants to see." The smirk twitches. "Just imagine what I could do to him next time, though! Drop him in India, or Siberia, or South America...or I could make him think he was someone else! Give him a whole new set of memories instead of just stealing his old ones. Really, the possibilities are endless."

The sneer turns abruptly serious. "You got lucky this time. That news report was a fluke, but I play fair, my dear, and since it was technically him that went to the media and not you, I decided not to kill him after all." Pacing now, as though working out a problem. "That must rankle, though. Knowing you only saved him by chance. Mind you, though, that wino outfit was good. Even my watchers didn't twig it was you until it was too late."

He moves up to the camera, the whole screen full of his face, dropping his voice to a silky whisper. "Where is he? Right now? Your little lapdog? Upstairs licking his wounds? Trying to wash himself white as snow? Having a little weep because the big bad bully gave him a black eye?"

Sherlock's face remains impassive, though his fingers curl into fists. The onscreen whisper turns icy. "I gave him back to you. Don't ever forget that. You'd never have cracked my little code if I hadn't...spelled it out for you."

He raises a hand, and actually strokes the side of the camera as though it were Sherlock's face. "This is your second warning, my dear. You might not get a third."

A lingering glance. Then... "Ciao, Mia bella!" A click. An empty screen. Silence.

The young man rests his mouth on his hands. John is safe upstairs now. Sherlock fights a mad urge to rush up and check on him anyway. It's dangerous, the life they lead. That's part of the appeal. John Watson is a grown man who can make his own decisions. If he chooses to throw his lot in with Sherlock Holmes, then he knows the risks, and what happens to him as a result is not entirely the young man's fault.

Not entirely.

But John is safe now. He will be fine. And in the coming weeks, when Sherlock sees him discreetly slipping a pound or two of his meagre army pension to the homeless on the street, even those not part of their network - especially those not part of their network - Sherlock will say nothing, because he knows it is John's way of getting back to Fine.

Thankfully, Sherlock needs no such construct himself. He is untroubled by the inconvenient emotions of normal people. And even assuming he had let the previous month’s events unsettle him, he can console himself with the knowledge that he kept his promise. He brought John home.

I gave him back to you. Don't ever forget that.

Eventually the monitor times out and the screen fades to black.

******

I scrub myself all over. Then I scrub again. I wash my hair three times. I'd probably spend a week in the shower if we had the hot water. But we don't, and when it runs out I finally kill the tap.

I put on my dressing gown - my dressing gown - and kick the filthy street-smelling clothes into the corner. I'll bin them later. Right now I can't even stand to look at them. I don’t especially want to see my face in the mirror, either: I still remember the stranger that looked back at me the last time. But gradually, as I shave, my reflection starts to look almost familiar. Pretty soon it might even be me again. Maybe. Once I've had a haircut.

When I finish, Sherlock's downstairs in the kitchen staring at his laptop. "Something good?" I ask, trying too hard to make my voice sound light. I haven't been crying, really.

He closes the screen, then mutters something he has to repeat into my good ear. "Eat something. You'll hurt Mrs. Hudson's feelings."

I'm about to comment on the irony of Sherlock nagging me to eat something for a change when I see what's on the table…and almost get emotional again. There are eggs, rashers, toast, jam, coffee, tea, biscuits, strawberries and cream, porridge and milk. I tuck in. It's cold and stale, and absolutely the most gorgeous meal I've ever eaten.

"We're seeing a hypnotherapist tomorrow. See if there's anything left over in there." Lovely. My flatmate doesn't know the meaning of the word 'tact'. I feel the bile churn in my stomach…'in there' means in my head. Anything left over that I let them put in there. Because I wasn't quick enough. Because I let them get the drop on me. Again.

"Don't be stupid, of course you didn't. You just let your guard down for a moment." Again with the mind-reading thing. "Everyone does it. They were bound to catch you sooner or later."

Oh, cheers, mate. Thanks a lot. It's not like I lived through two tours in Afghanistan with people trying to kill me every day of my life. Well. One tour and a half.

"Can you not do that please?" My mouth is full of toast and my voice is harsh again and I don't know why the hell I'm so angry at him all of a sudden…the lanky bastard just spent four weeks of his life looking for me, probably letting other cases go unsolved. I know damn well no one apart from my mum would ever show me that kind of devotion, and if I think about it too much I'll probably go all weepy again. But maybe - just maybe, just for this one particular moment - I don't exactly find it a million laughs to be Sherlock Holmes's own personal damsel in distress.

The knight in woolly armour frowns. "Not do…what?"

Sometimes he is genuinely clueless about social stuff. I know that. But sometimes he isn't, sometimes he just doesn't care; and when I'm this annoyed with him it's hard to tell the difference.

"Nothing. Never mind." I finish my food and leave the table, utterly secure in the knowledge that he'll leave me the washing up to do later. "I need a kip."

He doesn't answer. I pause at the stairs and glance behind me, guilt creeping through my irritation. All I can see is his back hunched over the table. People think Sherlock doesn't have feelings, which is ridiculous. Of course he does. He just hides them so well that sometimes it’s hard to tell when you've hurt them.

I sigh and rub a hand over my face. "Oh, and mate? I didn't…I'm sorry about your nose. Back in the alley, before I…I'm sorry."

Something in his posture changes. Softens. For a minute I think he's not going to answer me, and I'm just about to turn back upstairs when he says, very quietly:

"You're welcome, John."

I press my lips together. For God’s sake, am I even speaking English here? I said sorry-for-punching-you, not thank-you-for-rescuing-me; and it would be nice to have my words taken at face value for once. I open my mouth to snap at him…and then close it again. Because it's only just hit me that I haven’t actually thanked him yet.

I haven’t thanked him.

I chew my lip. How the hell do you say thank you for something like that? “Cheers, mate, my round next”? There’s no way. I’ll at least try to say the words eventually, I know, even if the awkwardness would probably kill us both, and even though Sherlock never worries about little social niceties like that. He’s never said thank you for any of the times I’ve saved his skin…and then I suddenly realise. That’s exactly what he’s trying to tell me: I don’t have to, either.

I rub my thumb on the bannister, letting my silence pass for acknowledgement. Then I give a short nod to his back and slowly climb the stairs up to my bedroom.

After a month of being homeless, the one thing besides food and a wash that I want worse than air is sleep. Please God yes. I shrug off my dressing gown and slip into bed…my bed. My own bed. It feels like someone else's. Like I'll dirty its nice clean sheets with the street grime I tried so hard to wash off in the shower. The feeling's uncomfortably familiar: I remember this same strange wrongness after Afghanistan. Maybe after a while, I'll feel like me again. Maybe. But right now, I feel like a stranger in my own skin.

I'm just getting settled when there are scrapings downstairs. Sherlock's violin. Oh God. Welcome home.







I'm about to shout at him when I suddenly catch a piece of what he's playing. Hang on, is that...a blues song?





It is. Ry Cooder; one of my favourites. Blues on the violin. When the hell did he learn to play that?

I dig my head into the pillow and lie back, listening. Sherlock can play really well when he wants to. Smug git. The notes growl and moan and keen, like the voice of a grieving woman…and speaking of which, I'll have to give Mrs. Hudson a proper thank you when I wake up. She's our landlady, not our housekeeper; and only just occasionally, our guardian angel.

I shut my eyes. I'm too knackered to care if the nightmares will come. Ironically, I never had any while I was…out there. Probably never slept deeply enough. But I'll definitely take the tradeoff: a hellish non-existence on the streets versus a few nightmares, dodgy leg, worrying landlady, and a frighteningly brilliant flatmate with no concept of personal boundaries? Yep. I'll take it.

Be it ever so crumbled, there's no place like home.







THE END


Voila! Hope you enjoyed. Screencaps are from Sherlock and The Good Night.


Q
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