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14 April 2012 @ 03:36 pm
Fic: Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), (Sherlock, John Watson/Sherlock Holmes)  
Title: Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
Fandom/Characters: Sherlock, John Watson/Sherlock Holmes (the ampersand becomes more or less a slash, though...)
Rated: PG-13 (some "language," sexual implications, no dirty deeds (done dirt cheap))
Word count: 2600+
Spoilers: s2 (it is a post-Reichenbach, after all)
Summary: from my AO3 summary: Sherlock and John begin to sort themselves out after Sherlock's return, which involves pitching cell phones, multiple invasions of privacy, and pulse-taking at 3 AM.

Needless to say, things are more messed up than even before Reichenbach.

To paraphrase Lydia Bennet, I've created a hideous hat, but I'm pulling it to pieces to see if I can make something better of it. So I'm posting this as a series as I fiddle around and move things and rewrite.

Title from the James song; not Brit-picked, though two folks "beta'ed" and made no changes, because I'm perfect

Over tea and toast, John announced, “The media is going to go off their hinges, you know. We won’t have a day’s worth of peace for weeks.”

Sherlock smiled, a genuine smile that touched his eyes. “So back to business then?”

In spite of himself, John smiled in return.

After the initial media circus that John predicted was over, by Friday, he and Sherlock were invited out to a crime scene. Donovan and Anderson steered far clear, but Sherlock seemed wholly uninterested in aggravating anyone, so keen was he on coming back home to deducting a pedestrian sort of murder.

John trailed him cautiously. He imagined he’d build up his crime-scene calluses again, but he had to admit he still had a little difficulty looking at pools of blood for an extended period of time. He was happy to see Sherlock re-engaged and making connections and leaps in seconds flat. That and note-taking and following Sherlock so closely at times he imagined Lestrade and company thought they were tethered together was enough to keep him occupied.

The tenor of that tenuous peace changed in an instant when John, temporarily sidetracked by Greg, noticed Sherlock charging away from the scene, clearly intent on making more giant mental leaps elsewhere and so focused he had once again forgotten entirely about John. In a flash of what John believed was equal parts a loss of temper and blind panic, he took several running strides, whirled his left arm, and, thanks to some dabbling in cricket, made a ringingly accurate overhand pitch of his cell phone.

It struck Sherlock with an audible thump between the shoulder blades, then fell to the pavement, where it landed with an alarming crack.

Sherlock turned, an annoyed scowl lining his features. Then he saw the perpetrator of the assault, and the expression faded as John cocked his head and fixed him with a look.
After casually putting his hands in his pockets and icily ignoring the gawking from the nearby officers, Sherlock said, “John, you coming?”

John nodded curtly, made his way over to Sherlock, picked up his broken phone, and the two moved forward together.

Heading home in the taxi that night, after seeing the suspect safely cuffed and booked by Lestrade’s team, John said, serious and quiet, “You don’t leave me behind. Not ever, ever again.”

There was a ghost of a sensation on John’s right hand, almost as though someone had brushed him with a knuckle or two . But when he looked down, Sherlock’s left hand (already returning to its impossibly alabaster hue) was centimeters away and perfectly still.

Sherlock turned from looking out the window and said, “It’s statistically improbable that I’d be able to keep that promise.”

After a moment of studying Sherlock’s profile, John returned his gaze to his own view of London blurring by.“You could try. You could promise to try. I’d be willing to forgive you, or find other communication devices to throw at you, if you could manage that.”

In the window’s reflection, the corner of Sherlock’s mouth tipped up. A few seconds later, Sherlock intoned, “I, Sherlock Holmes, do solemnly swear to try my very best not to forget John Watson at crime scenes, even though he is frequently engaged in ridiculous flirtations with dull patrolwomen who are at least a decade too young for him.”

John shook his head, tamping down a smile. “Ta. Very nearly genuine.”

That night, John sifted through post on the couch while Sherlock alternated between playing violin, pacing, and checking on some sort of noxious experiment in the kitchen sink which involved lye.

When John opened his eyes, the clock read well into 3:00 AM. Sherlock had pulled his chair over so that it was facing John, his long legs stretched out so that his bare feet were settled near John’s own (which were covered in stockings, because he’d stepped in enough horrid puddles around the flat to last him the rest of his life). Sherlock was ruthlessly composing a text--to Mycroft, no doubt, judging by the ferocity of the finger jabs.

John yawned and tapped the arch of Sherlock’s left foot with his big toe, “Decided to move some furniture?”

Sherlock made no reply other than to quirk his mouth slightly in acknowledgment.

John moved the post to the floor and stretched out, winding his legs past Sherlock’s feet, lulled back to sleep by the sound of Sherlock’s angry texting.

At breakfast, John felt brave enough to ask a question he’d held onto for days.

“What was it like out on your own...” John paused, remembering Irene, “...for the most part, all those months?”

Sherlock’s back was to him as he toyed with the coffeemaker--and for God’s sake, John hoped he was pouring and doctoring coffee, not putting the awful, toxic resulting sludge from the prior evening’s experiment into the pot--and several moments went by before Sherlock said, “I wasn’t.”

Confused, John fiddled with his fork and no doubt annoyed Sherlock with his loud thinking, because Sherlock’s next statement was an exasperated, “Surely you of all people understand.”

John opened his mouth to reply, but Sherlock was gone in an implied smoke trail of dressing gown belt ends. Hopping off his kitchen chair with grace that could only be borne from rushing to keep up with his flatmate, John followed the sound of Sherlock’s footsteps through the living room and to the threshold of Sherlock’s bedroom, where he found Sherlock standing in front of the curio with a very focused expression on his face.

Knocking on the doorjamb, but making no move to enter the room, John said, “Uh, pardon me, but what are you going on about?”

“John, did you mess around in my room?”

“I asked my question first.” Damn it, John thought, as he heard his voice come out loud and surly.

Frowning, either at the curio or John’s tone or both, Sherlock turned and said, “Mycroft seems to have a pre-established system in place to access all your therapy notes. I visited him at the club the day before I returned to Baker Street, and he felt it imperative to share with me the effect my absence had on...everyone.”

“Isn’t that just like an in-law?” John found the courage to joke after a prolonged silence. “Always interfering?”

Sherlock opened the latch on his curio and murmured, nearly inaudibly, “Aren’t you angry?”

“Of course I’m angry. But what does it matter? At this point, I suppose I should be pleased Mycroft has allowed me to live and hasn’t replaced me with a clone or an android double.” John took a tentative step into the room, just far enough to lean against the doorjamb. “Besides, it’s not Mycroft’s place to try and...” the words “guilt you” stuck in John’s throat, “...interfere. With us. I think I have managed to express myself to you just fine. Though you’re certainly welcome to read all the therapy notes in the world.”

A curt nod was Sherlock’s only sign of acknowledgment. John could see him running his fingers over the old volumes of poetry and philosophy where Sherlock had wedged (and John had returned) the makeshift moleskin Sherlock had privately created from John’s expired passport.

“For the record,” John continued, “I did ‘mess about’ in your room. And if you’re angry about me going through your things while you were dead, then you’re a knob.” Satisfied he could close book on their conversation knowing he had the upper hand, John walked out of Sherlock’s room, settled into his chair, and began to read the paper.

Sherlock did not follow for a good, long while.

They spent most of the evening in comfortable silence, though John had to admit there was a hint of tension about Sherlock. John could only speculate that Sherlock was...well, whatever Sherlock’s version of embarrassed was, over John’s discovery of the passport.

John hadn’t thought about it in ages, but his conflicted feelings, the memory of finding his place in Sherlock’s bedroom--purely, as a metaphor, of course--gnawed at him of and on throughout the evening. Sherlock was once again in his steadily refurbished kitchen laboratory, puttering and muttering to himself--or to John, though Sherlock never seemed to require an answer--and didn’t seem overly inclined to address the topic head-on. So John was left to his own newly excavated thoughts on the matter...

...which were basically, “I suppose that’s something a normal person would do if they were in some kind of love with another person.” But any attempts to then pursue the line of thought that Sherlock was acting like a normal person were quickly dismissed. Which were then occasionally countered with, “You’re the one who said he was a human human being, John Watson; wouldn’t that suggest...”

And that usually ended with John interrupting himself with, “Well, clearly, that was all rubbish, because said human managed to convincingly fake his own death.” Then the whole tangle of thinking began again.

John found himself awaking after a night start, still in his chair, neck already griping, around midnight. He rose and stretched, about to turn and announce to a no-doubt-still-engrossed Sherlock he was off to bed, when he saw Sherlock, sitting at the kitchen island, carelessly sprawled out and sleeping amongst his microscope, beakers, and calculations.

Shaking his head in faux disbelief, John entered the kitchen and took stock of the scene: Sherlock’s head down on the counter, face mostly hidden by one arm, converted into a makeshift pillow; the other arm stretched as though he’d lost consciousness in the act of reaching for something, falling off course and landing his fingers into a carelessly discarded plate that still held a half-eaten sandwich; breathing even and steady.

After moving the plate, John spent a moment or two brushing the crumbs from Sherlock’s fingertips. Memories of holding the same fingers and hand to run from Lestrade and the rest of his team were blurry at best, so John took the time to notice the newly formed calluses from his recent goes at the violin, the manicured fingernails, somewhat stained from recent endeavors. Lastly, he gently moved his fingers to the pulse point on Sherlock’s wrist and waited for the second hand to reach zero before he began count.

Seventy. Seventy-one. Seventy-two.

“Seventy-three,” a voice piped from below.

Keeping his hand still on Sherlock’s wrist a few ticks longer than necessary, John replied blithely, “Lucky guess.”

“Or an elementary ability to count up to 100,” was Sherlock’s reply as he sat up and stretched his back, moving his hair out of his eyes with the hand John had just released. They looked at one another for a moment or two, then Sherlock added, “You’ve wanted to conduct a general exam from the first night I arrived back at Baker Street.”

John shrugged, adopting a businesslike attitude that he hoped covered for the way his own pulse had increased since Sherlock either awoke or decided to stop faking sleep. “Suppose so. It’s what I’m known for besides blogging.”

“Doctoring, you mean?” Sherlock said archly.

Adopting a mock glare, John replied, “Yes, Sherlock, doctoring. That was why you hired me on initially. That, and my willingness to run all over London and pay exorbitant cab fares.”

He was rewarded with one of Sherlock’s demi-smiles, a brief upturn of one corner of the mouth, before Sherlock was all seriousness again: “You’re dissembling. John.”

Taking a quarter step back after realizing how very close he and Sherlock were to one another, John smiled nervously and said, “All right. Yes. Yes, I’ve thought it might...ease my mind if I were able to give you a look-over. Nothing...thorough. Just, y’know, blood pressure, lung clarity, DNA samples...”

Unbuttoning both wrists, then several shirtfront buttons, Sherlock put his hands up in the manner of a magician. “Very well. Get your medical bag.”

John nodded but had difficulty getting his feet to move, as his shoes had apparently grown roots into the floor. “All...all right. Good.”

When he returned from his room upstairs, it appeared as though Sherlock hadn’t moved a millimeter. John set the bag on the table, opened it up, and removed the sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. Sherlock presented his arm almost as though it wasn’t attached to his body, his gaze direct and fixed on John’s face. An involuntary flush started on John’s ears and worked its way across his face. Thank God for dim lighting, he thought, as he fastened the cuff and pumped.

After the last gust of air was out, Sherlock said, “124/80?”

“Yes, sir.” The Velcro scratched out a protest. John raised the bell of the stethoscope to his mouth and huffed a breath or two on it to warm it and watched as Sherlock’s eyes crinkled, touched by another genuine smile.
John slid the bell under the hem of Sherlock’s untucked shirt and once again stood close to Sherlock in order to listen to the healthy rhythm of his heart. “No arrhythmias or murmurs that I can detect.”

“Because I don’t have any.” Sherlock replied simply, but the statement was a gust of breath across John’s neck that caused the fine hairs to prickle along his arms.

John stepped around to Sherlock’s back, which he straightened in an ode to numerous lectures about good posture at whatever upper-crust prep school he had attended and, without prompting, drew in a deep breath and exhaled so John could listen to his lungs...and stare fixedly at the line and length of Sherlock’s neck, wondering if it would be in the spirit of or against his Hippocratic oath to place a hand there, just to examine the tendons and fit his thumb into Sherlock’s suprasternal notch.

Snapping out of what had become a very rapid descent into a very confusing line of thought, John removed the stethoscope and took three or four steps backward while pronouncing, “All systems normal. Eat more fruit and veg and all that. Sorry I don’t have a lol...”

Sherlock swiveled in his seat and put his hand out, causing his unbuttoned wrist to flap. “My turn.”

Clutching the stethoscope protectively, John stuttered, “Your...what?”

A gracefully arched eyebrow--runs in the family, John thought to himself--started Sherlock’s reply. “Isn’t that how playing doctor works?”

He’s having me on, John thought hazily. He’s joking. Surely, this isn’t flirting; this is...has to be...joking.

“You’re joking.” The phrase popped out of John’s mouth and fell flat onto the floor between them.

After a half-second of what John considered to be one of Sherlock’s more predatory stares, his friend’s expression cleared. “Yes, of course. Only joking.”

Neither of them smiled.

John grabbed the medical bag with a decisiveness that was lacking in every fiber of his body and said, “I’m off to bed. Good night.

“Good night, John.” The way Sherlock’s baritone raked over his name caused an involuntary shiver to run along John’s spine.

Trying for casual, John said, “Sherlock,” when five or six steps clear of the kitchen and well on his way to his room, where he steadily thought of World Cup scores and addresses of favorite pubs until he was able to drift off to sleep.

In the morning, John awoke to the sight of his expired passport, returned to his nightstand with a pen propping open the pages.

On a new page, clear of all custom stamps, was written 74 and 127/84. The medical bag was pointedly open and sitting on the unused pillow on John’s right.

John thought about feeling creeped out or, on the more dramatic end of the spectrum, violated.

Instead, he felt hornier than he had in 13 months. Which was a bit confusing, to say the least.
pony_rockspony_rocks on April 24th, 2012 09:01 am (UTC)
This was rather precious. :D