under_hatches: wiritng rules (Default)
[personal profile] under_hatches
Title: The River so Dark, the Night so Quiet
Pairing: Sherlock/ John
Rating/ Warnings: PG
Words: 3,317

Notes: For [info]loreley_se who once upon a time commissioned a Sherlock Holmes story when I offered myself as a writer for charity. I did not forget but I liked nothing I wrote. So, here it is now. I moved it from movie!verse Holmes to BBC Sherlock, but I have this feeling that she won't mind. <3 Enjoy, hon.

John Watson sat in Sherlock's chair out of spite and in the hope he would come in and glower at him. It had been three days since he had vanished without so much as a word. (Truth to be told, Sherlock had looked at John and then at the door and had announced: “I'm going out!”, more to the door than to John, so if he was still being a bit prickly, that might have been the reason.)

But after three days without so much as a word about his whereabouts, John had to admit that he was finally getting a little worried. It wasn't that Sherlock hadn't done this before, oh, he had, on one memorable occasion Sherlock had been missing for over a week (9 days, 14 hours, and John had told himself often enough that he hadn't been counting, yet he had been). When Sherlock had disclosed the nature of the case to John (heroin trade – for God's sake!) John had shouted enough for Sherlock to not vanish again for a couple of months – and he hadn't mentioned any details of the case, probably out of hurt ego.

And since John wasn't counting this time either, he sent the fourth text message to Sherlock.

Will you at least be home for dinner then?

He felt foolish after sending it, so he sulked a little more before settling on reading. He picked up a random book from his to-read pile and flipped the pages until it was time for dinner, looking at words but never making out sentences. He had a solitary meal before going to bed and spending an uneasy night.

At least tell me where you are!

After two more days, even Mrs Hudson remarked on the rather prominent bags under his eyes and brought him hot milk in the evening.

“You shouldn't worry,” she said, “He always shows up again.”

“Yes, Mrs Hudson. Thank you,” John offered lamely, the 'what if' hanging in the air between them.

Or tell me you're well, so I can sleep in peace.

If Sherlock had for whatever reason decided that it was too dangerous for John to know where he was, maybe he would at least send some kind of life sign. Except that he would not, John knew that, but he could not help hoping.

6 days, 7 hours and counting, John sat at the window in Baker Street and looked out into the gloom. Temperatures dropped in the evenings, and the humidity settled, making streets shimmer as if covered with ice. The street lights tinted the city orange in the fine mist that hung between the buildings. Even though there was tea on the table and the heater was running high so he felt nothing of the cold outside, John found it difficult to relax. A chill in his bones, the apartment felt haunted and too empty at the same time.

That night, he took two of his self-prescribed sleeping pills.

Even at the risk I sound like a nagging wife: LIFE SIGN. NOW.

John dragged himself to bed, limbs already heavy, head drowsy. He shook his head at himself and at his stupid text, because what woman would put up with Sherlock long enough to agree to marry him, that was ridiculous. Seriously, how anyone could put up with that man was beyond him.

Sleeping pills always felt like the boring kind of drunk to John. The heaviness without the giddy joy, the slow reaction of thoughts and limbs without the laughter, the clinging to your mate after a pub crawl, without the songs bellowed out out of tune.

He fell into bed, not caring about the blanket, just rest, rest now.

He woke up cuddled in two blankets, one pillow on the floor, the other hugged to his chest. He shook the last remains of sleep from his head, using all his willpower to shower before looking at his mobile for a text that wasn't there.

In the evening he tried to watch telly but quit after the (thankfully murder-less) news. He swallowed two pills with the rest of his tepid tea, and waited until the familiar feeling of boneless weight came over him. He slouched to his room, falling into the bed, awake enough for one more text, followed by nothing except the soft rustling of sheets.

It's not fair, you know?

John normally disliked the effect sleeping pills had on him. They made him sluggish, but when his thoughts were like molasses, the worry was easier to bear, easier to ignore.

He dreamt of Sherlock that night. Sherlock in his bed, holding him against his chest, one hand in John's hair, murmuring words John couldn't quite make out, sweet nothings probably, to calm him. Except that Sherlock never uttered sweet nothings, and when John woke, the after-image still clear in his mind, he was glad that no one was around to see him blush.

“I'm losing my mind,” he said into the empty room, “I'm going slightly mad.”

8 days, 9 hours and counting, John's worry had finally turned into anger. He was pacing up and down the living room, cursing, muttering under his breath.

He had so far refrained from sending Sherlock a text that just said “You're a dick” but he was reconsidering. He had called Lestrade and made him promise to call if anything came up. So far, nothing. Nothing at all.

That evening, John was so tired he thought he saw Sherlock sitting in his chair, only when he blinked, he was alone in the room.

You're a dick for leaving me hanging like that.

It was quickly typed and even quicker sent, and John groaned and threw the phone onto the desk.

“Well,” he said, “Let's not get emotional, shall we. Dear God, I am talking to myself! I hope you are happy now, Sherlock, you twat.”

He reached for his pills, popping the first one out but losing the grip, so it went tumbling, skittering around the floor and under a pile of clutter. John looked at the magazines, newspaper cut outs and dust bunnies next to what looked like a chemical burn, and decided he wanted to put nothing into his mouth that had been in contact with this floor, thank you very much, despite Mrs Hudson's best efforts to keep it clean, bless her. He popped the second pill into his hand more carefully, looking at the package and weighing the fact that he had only had ten pills to begin with. He didn't know how long this would go on, but he had no intention of getting a refill. One pill it was for the night.

He retrieved the phone and went to bed.

I am your friend.

He lay curled up on his right side, facing the window, focussing on not thinking, which was really not working that well (unless you counted thinking about not thinking. He was pretty successful at that.) It took longer that night, his limps heavy but his mind not yet at ease, so he watched the rain against the window, his eyes following the rivulets until his lids became too heavy. The moment his thoughts slowed down was the moment he felt the mattress dip to the right, and before he could question it, he was drawn against someone's chest.

“If you're cold, you should get another blanket,” Sherlock said. “It's not like we don't have extra blankets in this flat.”

John hadn't noticed he was shivering until then, so he tried to stop, tried to relax into the unfamiliar embrace. He tucked at Sherlock's arm until he could properly hold on to it and twisted his hands into the fabric of Sherlock's dressing gown. For a dream, it was remarkably detailed, the fabric cool on the outside, warm where it would have been warmed by Sherlock's skin. John smoothed the fabric and felt the muscles flex in Sherlock's arm as he was held even tighter.

“You know, I think I kind of like this,” John said.

“What exactly?”
“This. Drowsy and warm. And you. I think I'm growing too fond of sleeping pills.”
“And why would that be?”
“Because they give me lovely dreams and hallucinations. It was comforting before you started to talk. Shut up. Even in my imagination you're annoying.”

Sherlock laughed.

“Well, then, John. Let's sleep, shall we?”
“Hm-hm,” John said into the pillow. “Sleep would be good.”

He wanted to say something else, but it was lost in the pull of the impending sleep and Sherlock's warmth.

When John woke up, it was light and he was cradling his pillow again. Even though he woke on the same side he had fallen asleep on, the second pillow was rumpled. He probably had tossed and turned during the night, along with his teenage boy dreams. He smiled when he remembered the dream, cuddling the pillow closer again but then he looking at the alarm clock. He had slept right through the alarm, and therefore was two hours late. He hopped out of bed, cursing, and called in sick for the rest of the week, only stammering so much during the call.

After that, he called Lestrade again, only to come up empty. No one had heard anything from Sherlock. John decided he might as well stock up on milk and clean the flat a little in lieu of having anything helpful to do.

Going shopping, want anything?

Probably not.

I found this real ugly mug, which I will be switching for your favourite one if you don't answer.

Don't say I did not warn you.

Right, you don't have a favourite mug.

Sherlock, please.

“We need to stop meeting like this,” John said at the dip of the mattress and grinned into his pillow.

“Don't worry, figure of speech. You're as dense as the real Sherlock when it comes to pop cultural references, aren't you.”

“Well,” Sherlock said but then fell quiet.

“Don't worry.” John turned so he could see Sherlock, and in the dim light, his skin looked impossible pale. He thought he saw a small smile, the kind the real Sherlock sometimes allowed himself to show, a little crooked and almost fond.

“I don't even know where you are,” John choked.
“Don't be ridiculous, John, I'm right here. You can see me.”

“Yes,” John said, hiding his face against Sherlock's chest. Feeling Sherlock's chin against his scalp, his own warm breath against the dip of Sherlock's throat, John made himself believe.

He found that he slept better and longer, and more importantly dreamt more vividly, when he had taken only one pill, so he counted the remaining ones and came up with three more nights. Deep down he admitted that this kind of escapism might be hurtful, but after 10 days, 3 hours and counting, John had lost all energy to be reasonable.

He cleaned a little, checked the first aid kit for completion, and went earlier to bed that night.

“You didn't send me a text today.”
“I sent you fifteen yesterday.”
“Look who's counting.”
“I always count,” Sherlock said, sounding offended. Then, quietly: “I missed that.”

He turned again to look at Sherlock, but he was half hidden in shadows.

“I always thought that hallucinations would be more forthcoming when it came to comfort.”

“Maybe I am not a hallucination, then.”

Sherlock sighed and lay down, spooning John again.

“Must be the comfort of another heartbeat,” Sherlock said.

“Come home, will you? I don't want to worry about you being hurt or...” John broke off. Some things were easier to say into the darkness while others where impossible to utter no matter what hour.

“Still investigating.”
“If it's heroin trade again, stop before you get shot.”
“I won't get shot.”
“John, you're being ridiculous and the emotional equivalent of a five year old.”
“Pot. Kettle.”

John yawned, vaguely remembering something.

“Well, you should look into the sunken boat. I saw it on the news.”
“Sunken boat?”
“Yes, look it up, it's in the paper as well. One casualty that wasn't you, thankfully. And, oh, I keep forgetting.”

John yawned again, his thoughts getting jumbled and more and more disconnected.

“Am I?”
“On the rare occasion.”
“Shut up, and sleep.”

“No, really, John, that's brilliant.”

The bed dipped slightly.

“If you have to vanish, do it after I am asleep, like the last times. I rather liked that.”
“That I vanished? You're not making sense.”
“No, that I could pretend you'd be here when I wake up, you idiot.”
“Oh. I see.”

“No, you don't. Shut up now.”

Sherlock settled against him, and John allowed himself to drift off fully.

The sun was setting at 4:43, and John watched the sky change colour. The air was crisp and clear, with ice blue skies that seemed dipped in yellow before getting darker and bleeding into orange and then purple, the first stars out on velvet blue tinted pink. John nodded off, bone-weary from another day of waiting, too tired to finish his tea or take his by now usual pill. He dozed in his chair until a noise from the staircase woke him. Sherlock stumbled in, losing balance in the rush to open the door.


Sherlock was wet but looked triumphant. His hair was matted to his scalp, curls dripping and sticking to his forehead. There was a cut on his right cheek that made John wince, but Sherlock still grinned at the sight of him.

“I'm back,” he announced before letting himself fall to the floor.


John slid out of his chair to sit down on the carpet next to Sherlock, who was shivering slightly, already inspecting him. He gently touched the cut, checking for a swelling, before carefully turning Sherlock's head. His fingers seemed hot against Sherlock's clammy skin.

“It was insurance fraud, of all things, but the paintings have been retrieved. The sunken boat was a clever decoy, not clever enough, but smart in it's little petty way.”

“Sunken boat? Is that why you smell of sewer?” John wrinkled his nose and then looked again at Sherlock's face. “Have you eaten anything at all?”

Sherlock seemed to think about it.

“No, don't tell me. I don't want to know. You need a shower.”
“Bath, fine.”
“And then dinner?”

John looked at Sherlock and laughed.

“What's funny about dinner?”
“Sherlock, you twat! I was sick with worry.”
“Why, I always come back.”
“How was I supposed to know this?”

He looked at Sherlock, exasperated, and then raised his hands in defeat.

“I'll run you a bath.”

John made sure Sherlock was safely inside the bathroom, before almost fully closing the door and then hovering right in front of it, listening first to the almost Velcro sound of wet clothes being discarded, and then the soft sloshing when Sherlock lowered himself into the tub.

“If you plan on remaining there, you might as well come in. It's a little silly, don't you think?”

John opened the door but leaned against the door-frame instead of stepping into the room.

“It's called modesty, Sherlock. I'm giving you privacy.”
“If you were giving me privacy, you'd be in your room.”
“You're hopeless.”
“And you're letting the draft come in.”

John sighed and stepped into the small room, closing the door behind him.

“Besides, you generously ran me a bubble bath, so my modesty is well protected.”
“Unless you stand up again in one of your Eureka moments.”
“I'll refrain.”

“Wonderful!” John replied, aiming for sarcastic but ending up somewhere between that and fond.

Sherlock was reclining as best as he could, keeping as much of his body underwater as he managed to, and John checked for further injuries out of the corner of his eye. The tension of the last days seeped from him, so when he found nothing that particularly worried him, he sat down on the tiles, his back against the tub, resting his head against the rim, closing his eyes.

“You know,” John started.

“Since I was working, there was no way, John, and I am sorry if you worried. I am.”

Sherlock padded him awkwardly on the head with a wet hand, soaking John's hair with bath water.

“Did you just apologise?” John turned around. Sherlock looked at him, his eyes a little wider than usual, John liked to think, and then Sherlock looked at the ceiling.

“I believe I did.”

“Well,” John said, “Good.”

“Okay, Sherlock said and sloshed around, “Time for dinner!”

“No, no, no. No getting up now! Wait until I am out of the room!”
“Modesty, Sherlock. Just. Let's pretend you have some basic manners.”

Sherlock remained seated and looked at John.

“Right. Um, I'll leave you to it.”

John sat in his chair reading when Sherlock came in, wrapped in a towel.

“So, should we go to Antonio's?”

“Clothes first, then yes.”

There was an ease in going back to right where they were before Sherlock had vanished, and John would liked to have been lulled by that. He was still angry, but it was so tempting to not mention it, to go back to how it had been.

When Sherlock came back, fully clothed and already in his coat, John stood up and walked over to him, walking straight up until they were chest to chest and John had to look slightly up.

“Never, ever, do that again, understood?”

Sherlock seemed genuinely surprised at this but nodded.

“Good, let's go eat.”

Sherlock ate two plates of pasta and stole the bread John had been picking at, before ordering dessert and talking John into having a bite. John had mostly watched Sherlock eat, knowing full well how utterly stupid that must seem but not really caring, and had only eaten half of his order, but accepted the spoon Sherlock held out to him.

“It's good,” he said around a mouthful of sweetness, and Sherlock smiled widely.

They came home in good spirits, John stumbling on the stairs because he was laughing about something Sherlock had said, he couldn't even remember what it had been, he was nearly hysterical from what was most likely relief. Sherlock smiled at him, his odd lopsided fond smile, and with the afterglow of two glasses of very good red wine, John felt pleasantly sleepy and warmed.

“I guess we can throw out the remaining two, can we,” Sherlock said after watching John for a moment.

“Seeing as you won't be needing them.”

He could have asked but John thought he knew the answer.

“Let's get you to bed. You're almost asleep and you get terrifyingly rambly then.”

John grinned at that. Sherlock helped him out of his chair, and, reaching under his arm, he half dragged him up the stairs to John's bedroom. John let himself be half-carried and then dropped onto his bed.

“Don't expect me to stay,” Sherlock said.

“No,” John yawned, “I only expect you to come back.”


“If you can't sleep, you're welcome to come and pretend to be a hallucination.”

“I'll think about it,” Sherlock said, and did a short bow, “Good night, John.”

“Night, Sherlock.”


under_hatches: wiritng rules (Default)

January 2012


Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:42 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios