|New Sherlock Fic: My Heart Was Very Still
||[Jan. 9th, 2012|12:30 am]
(she lives between pages)
Title: My Heart Was Very Still
Notes: For methylviolet10b, who gave me a deceptively simple prompt (John can't sleep). I couldn't resist turning this one into something a bit longer than the other ficlets. Spoilers for S2. Title and summary lyrics pulled from "Loving Hands," by Jay Malinowski (seriously, Bright Lights & Bruises; do get the album). To those of you on my friends list taking bets as to whether or not I could hold out till after 2x03...yeah.
Summary: There's no lover, there's no cover / I got hit & there I shuddered
*** Now available as podfic read by speccygeekgrrl!***
Tonight is different, that much John knows.
He ought to be angry about Sherlock's ruse: sugar in his coffee, an experiment gone wrong. And there was also what had followed, silence all the way from Exeter back to Paddington; surely that wasn't what he'd deserved, as Sherlock's only apparent friend.
(Perhaps he oughtn't have let that go to his head.)
John follows the slight creak of the floorboards that leads him to Sherlock's bedroom door. Every time, it's the same. He walks this path in broad daylight to deliver exasperated messages. Sherlock, we have another case. Sherlock, where the hell did you put my laptop? Sherlock, Mrs. Hudson has raised the rent by twenty quid again thanks to last night's indiscreet display of pyrotechnics. So forth, ad infinitum, amen.
What's different this time is his sleeplessness (Yeah, he tells himself, let's use that for a start). He's not breathless and tangled in the sand-strewn web of some nightmare; no, he's not lying there sweating in terror while one narrowed bright eye appears, luminous as his door opens to throw a sliver of shadow across Sherlock's cheek. Slap him this time, says the shadow. I dare you to do what she would have done.
He's sleepless because he can't be arsed to get angry enough to give in.
John's hand is on the doorknob now, hesitant fingertips poised. The time for that would've been in the Cross Keys, by the fire, in front of all those gawking tourists, or perhaps in the churchyard. He'd entertained the notion of working up to it, but then it was all you're amazing and inspiring genius and all that metaphorical nonsense about conducting light. Sure, he's dazzled. Who wouldn't be? He turns the doorknob.
(Sure, he thinks. I'm screwed.)
Sherlock's on the bed, which is where he usually retreats when he's in the throes of some sulk too epic for the sofa. He's wrapped in the sheets from shoulder to ankle, duvet and pillows kicked to the floor. John might've backpedaled once upon a time, but it seems silly now, what when they've had the are-you-wearing-pants conversation whilst seated on Her Majesty's upholstery. He'd suggested they frame the ashtray.
"How long were you going to stand there?" Sherlock asks, facing the opposite wall.
"Till you asked me to leave," John says. "And if you'd been asleep, not long at all."
He closes the door behind him; he's not sure why.
(Oh, you're sure, taunts the shadow. You know as well as I.)
"I'm not tired," says Sherlock, sitting up in one fluid motion. He turns just enough for the sheet to slip from his shoulder, just enough for the bedside lamp to cast his cheek in its muted golden glow. He regards John, unblinking, with one narrowed eye.
John sighs and lets his gaze drop to the floor.
"I thought the case helped. That's what you told Henry."
"It would seem I was mistaken. What are you doing here?"
"Same thing as usual, more or less. Come have dinner?"
Sherlock turns fully into the light as John lifts his eyes, and it's very poor timing.
(Or it's perfect, says the shadow. Depending.)
John looks at the ceiling this time. "Sherlock, you're not—"
"No," Sherlock agrees, his voice low and full of doubt. "Hardly."
John stands his ground, because it's not going to work. Not this time. He'd stopped running ever since Battersea, since the power station, since staring down those eyes much colder than death. Sherlock's gaze is warm by comparison; he'd been lying when he'd claimed Sherlock should stick to ice. He's not going to lie this time.
"Dinner," John repeats, blinking once, twice, three times. Straight ahead now: look.
Sherlock is disarmed before him, naked, but not quite an open book.
"I had a sandwich on the train," he says flatly. "It was...disappointing."
"So I had gathered," John ploughs on, determined to see this through (Whatever this is, rationality be damned). "But I've got no impressive monologue to explain why, you see. Or how. You've just got to trust me on that, average mind or no. Got it?"
Sherlock nods slowly, staring down at his hands, which, John had failed to notice, were twisted in his completely exposed lap. So skilled at hiding things, those swift, precise fingers—but, in the same gesture, so adept at exposing the obvious.
"I don't..." begins Sherlock, slowly. "I'm not..."
"Hungry?" John asks, and his stomach sinks. "Right, no, of course not. I'll just—"
"You won't," Sherlock cuts in, his chin snapping up. "Want to know why?"
John feels sick and hungry at the same time, sicker and hungrier than he's ever been.
"You closed the door," says Sherlock, simply. "You never close the door."
"That's because it's usually my room. How can you be sure the same rule applies?"
"A door is a door is a door. An escape route. Always leave yourself a way out."
Vehemently, John shakes his head.
He wants to slap Sherlock, but, instead of the lab, he thinks of the churchyard.
"What if I'm looking for a way in?"
Sherlock's mouth quirks at that, the only kind of genuine smile he knows. It's a deliberate display of stark contrasts—light and shadow, line and angle—as he bends over the edge of the bed to retrieve the pillows. What's left of the covers is an undignified wreck, but he turns them down as if offering his bed to royalty.
"Clever," says Sherlock, stripped of shadows. "You've found it."
John follows the creaking floorboards, steps forward into the light.