Title: Black Hole and Revelation
Author: Unsentimental Fool
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Characters: Sherlock, John
Summary: John finds out something about his flatmate that he really didn't want to know
Notes/Warnings: Quite dark in tone.
A shopping bag full of beer bottles was overly heavy and chinked. John stopped inside the front door, did a quick scan for landlady. Nothing. Good. Not that he minded Mrs Hudson much, but it tended to be better in his experience if middle-aged women didn’t catch you carrying beer. They seemed to think it either funny or worrying.
Up the stairs and he pushed the sitting room door open. “I’m back,” he started, then realised that Sherlock wasn’t alone.
A youngish man, dressed in something not far off sports gear but probably more expensive, standing by the window. And Sherlock close next to him, head turned towards the interruption.
“John. Good. Come and meet Mike Snowden.” That was odd. John hadn’t remembered Sherlock ever doing something so mundane as introducing people before. He put down the bag, conscious of the loud chinks, came forward to shake the man’s hand. “John Watson.”
Sherlock had moved behind him. John nearly jumped at the hand on his shoulder.
“John and I moved in together several months ago.”
John had been around Sherlock too long. The first thing he registered was the vagueness. Seven weeks; he knew that, undoubtedly Sherlock did. “Several months” was not a Sherlock phrase.
Add that to the deliberately suggestive phrasing and the entirely unprecedented physical contact. No doubt what impression Sherlock was intending to give. The fingers around his shoulder tightened briefly, loosened. “Play along” as clear as if the man had said it aloud.
Bloody man. There had better be a good reason for this. John forced a smile. “Yes.” he managed.
A slight pause, then “Making an honest man of him at last!” Mike said, grinning. “Good for you. Sherlock and I.. he probably hasn’t mentioned me, but we dated for a while, at college.”
“No.” John could be absolutely definite about that. “No, he hasn’t mentioned it.” Sherlock and this jock? Never mind that. Sherlock dating anyone?
“Oh.” The man didn’t like the idea of being forgotten.
“Sherlock,” John said, rather viciously, “isn’t good at telling me things.”
“He’s changed a bit then.” Mike laughed. “Never bloody stopped telling me things. Only found one way to shut him up.”
John really didn’t want to know what that had been. He forced a grimace. “Well, it was nice to meet you, Mike. I’ll leave you two to chat.”
Mike glanced at Sherlock, shrugged. “I think you’ve got what you need.”
“Yes.” Sherlock’s hand slid off John’s shoulder, down his back, and had that really been a pat on the backside? God, he was going to have it out with Sherlock for this one!
“I’ll be in touch. I’ll show you out.” Sherlock and Mike headed towards the stairs.
John’s eyes fell on the shopping bag. He thought that he probably deserved a drink or ten, and either the contents of a beer bottle or the bottle itself might prove to be useful should he feel the need to throw something at his flatmate’s head in a moment or two.
So when Sherlock came back in, John was lounging in Sherlock’s favourite armchair finishing the first bottle.
“Beer?” he offered.
“Yes.” Sherlock helped himself. Silence for a bit. John broke first.
“Mike Snowden says that he has been receiving some odd anonymous letters. He wants me to look into it for him.”
“Right. And why does this require you to pretend that I’m your boyfriend?”
Sherlock threw himself down on the couch. “It doesn’t.”
John took a breath. “So why the hell did you do it?”
“He was attempting, very clumsily, to persuade me to go to bed with him. That stopped him.”
The bottle hit the table, rather than Sherlock’s skull. John was rather impressed with his own forbearance.
“I can think of no-one in the entire world more capable than you of telling someone to sod off without the slightest hesitation. Why the hell did you need to bring me into it?”
Sherlock drank more of his beer. “I was about to when you came in. It occurred to me that using you would be quicker and require less effort.”
John closed his eyes in despair.
“I am not gay, Sherlock. I do not like the idea that people think I am. I particularly do not like the idea that other people think I am sleeping with you. I would very much appreciate it if you could avoid giving that impression to anyone in future.”
“A significant number of people think that already.” Sherlock pointed out calmly.
“I didn’t want to know that.” John snarled. “ I didn’t even want to know that you were gay. I certainly didn’t want to be regaled with the details by your ex boyfriend. I’m your damn flatmate, Sherlock. That’s all.”
Sherlock looked slightly hurt. “Have I ever suggested otherwise? Apart from to Mike?”
John thought about that. He was having some trouble with the idea of Sherlock and sex at all. He’d wondered, at first, when he’d moved in, but had come to the comfortable conclusion that Sherlock found other people too annoying to be anything but permanently celibate.
Certainly Sherlock had never behaved inappropriately towards him. Bad phrasing; Sherlock’ behaviour was almost always inappropriate. But not in that particular way.
“Just don’t start. Even if it does save you time and effort.”
Sherlock shrugged. “Very well. I understand. After all, the army does have a culture of homophobia.”
“Wait a moment!” John wasn’t having that. “I’m not homophobic! My sister’s gay!”
“I believe the normal phrasing is “Some of my best friends are gay.” The voice from the sofa was dry.
“Bastard. What have I said that’s homophobic? Name one thing!”
“It’s what you haven’t said.” Sherlock sounded lazy, unconcerned. “If you’d just been introduced to an old girlfriend of mine, you’d be intensely curious. But since Mike is male, you are trying to pretend he doesn’t exist and instead you’re going off on this unnecessary tangent about what other people may or may not think about us.”
“I think,” John said, tightly, “that you are underestimating the annoyance factor at having my arse patted, Sherlock. Believe me, I’d be even less impressed if you did that in front of a girl.“
“So it’s the witnesses that you’re concerned with then, not the action itself?”
“Why don’t you try it again and find out?” John was getting seriously annoyed with Sherlock’s games this time. He was not bloody homophobic! “See if Mike still fancies you with a few teeth missing?”
Soft laugh. “The threat of physical violence in response to a meaningless gesture makes my point perfectly.”
“Oh...fuck off!” John grabbed the bag with the rest of of bottles and retreated to his bedroom to fume.
A couple of hours and a lot more beer later and he had sorted things out to his own satisfaction. He was not the problem. If Sherlock had simply told him, he’d have been absolutely fine with it. It would still have been odd, but it would have been OK.
But no, the first he gets to know about it is when Sherlock grabs his arse for the benefit of some past shag. And then oh so casually mentions that loads of people already think that John is a) gay and b) screwing Sherlock. And, being Sherlock, he’s undoubtedly right. And then the bastard accuses him of being bigoted!
Any one else- absolutely anyone else- and they wouldn’t have got the warning. He’d just have floored them. John contemplated going downstairs and doing it right then. Decided that it would be childish. He’d wait till Sherlock came up to apologise. In the meantime he’d open another beer.
‘On the coffee table.” Sherlock didn’t look up from the morning paper as John came in.
“What?” John peered at the mug, trying to ignore the pounding in his head. “Coffee?”
“Hangover remedy. Try not to throw it straight up again.”
John drank it, trying not to think about the sliminess or the taste. His stomach rebelled briefly, settled to slightly less queasy as he claimed the couch.
“Better?” Sherlock folded the paper, looked at him with a raised eyebrow. John suspected Sherlock didn’t give a damn about either the state of his head or his current mood. Much of a damn, he amended; the man had at least mixed the drink.
John was still spoiling for a fight. Waking with a dry mouth and headache to find that he’d slept in his clothes and there were empty bottles all over his bedroom was something that hadn’t happened to him for a very long time. All Sherlock’s fault. Something about their comfortable relationship had been overturned, and he didn’t like that at all. That was Sherlock’s fault as well.
Difficult to just restart the argument, he realised, when Sherlock probably hadn’t even registered that they were arguing.
“How’s Mike’s letters going?”
“I thought I’d leave them for you.” Sherlock waved a hand at the table. “You might enjoy delivering the answer.”
“Take a look. It’s pretty obvious.”
“I’m not looking at anything.” John wasn’t sure that he could focus on anything right now. And Sherlock was watching him, like a damn specimen.
“Later will do.” Sherlock sounded so bloody relaxed. Like nothing had changed. John felt an urge to shake that damn aplomb.
“Tell me about Mike, then.”
A raised eyebrow. That had surprised Sherlock. “You don’t want to know about Mike.”
“I’ve decided that I do. You and Mike, Sherlock. Give me the dirt.”
Sherlock sighed. “You’re only doing this out of temper. But I’ll play along. What do you want to know?”
“Everything. How did you meet, for a start?”
“Running track. We both did a couple of miles at 5am every morning. It was convenient to pace each other.”
“And then what? He asked you out?”
“There wasn’t a great deal of “out”. I didn’t have time for socialising. I had a lot of research projects running. Besides, his friends were dull and stupid.”
John snorted. “Whereas the two of you were clearly soul-mates.”
Sherlock frowned at him, then nodded in realisation. “Sarcasm. Your hostility to this is surprisingly marked.”
John wasn’t to be drawn by that. This was not his problem. “OK, I’ll rephrase that. Was Mike also dull and stupid?”
“You met him. What did you think?”
“I wasn’t particularly impressed.”
“So why Mike?”
“What exactly do you want me to tell you about, John?” The calm had definitely been shaken. Sherlock sounded positively irritated.
“Tell me everything. I’m an adult. I can handle it.” Not adult enough to resist the urge to poke at an open wound; John knew what he was doing, didn’t care.
“Very well. Mike was sexually submissive with a strong element of masochism and was therefore useful for the experiments that I was conducting. Also, he was skilled at providing oral sex and liked being anally penetrated roughly, both of which I found enjoyable.”
Sherlock smiled, coldly, at John. “If you need me to go into any more detail, just ask.”
John should have known better than to push his flatmate. Sherlock was never going to be the one to fold. Still he kept going, blindly stubborn.
“If he was that good in bed, I’m surprised you didn’t take him up on his offer yesterday. I’d have been happy to go out for the day. Or are you getting your kicks some other way at the moment?”
Sherlock was regarding him as if he were a subject under enquiry. John hadn’t noticed that the man had stopped doing that weeks ago, until now.
“You are absolutely determined to pick a fight with me about this, John. It’s not something that I find any need to argue about. I find it fascinating that you do.”
“Answer the bloody question!” John had no idea what had got into him. He just knew that he wasn’t prepared to let any of it go.
“Fine.” Sherlock was matter of fact. “It is five months since I had sex. That was with a married police officer whom I had fucked 13 times in the previous 7 months. That particular liaison was ended by Lestrade, who had the man transferred out of London and outlined specific and unpleasant consequences if I tried anything similar with any of the rest of his staff. It is obvious from your reaction that you don’t want to know the answers to these questions, John. I suggest that you leave this subject until you are feeling less emotional.”
“What about now? What about Mike?” He had a right to know, John told himself. He lived here. Sherlock had hidden this from him for months.
“I’m not currently interested in having sex with other men. This is unnecessary, John. Leave it alone.”
“Why not?” John saw Sherlock’s face twitch, charged ahead. “Why not? God knows I’m always interested in having sex with women, not that the chance presents itself very often. Sexuality isn’t something you switch off because you’re working. What is it; bromide tea?
Sherlock’s voice was unusually quiet. “No. It is because I happen to be strongly attracted to someone who is unavailable.”
John’s face wrinkled in disgust. “For God’s sake, Sherlock. Doesn’t the fact that he’s a multiple murderer and insane to boot even give you pause?”
“I wasn’t referring to Moriarty.”
Sherlock’s face was unsmiling. John made a bolt for the bathroom, threw up the hangover remedy and a couple of pints of yesterday’s beer.
When he finally opened the bathroom door, Sherlock was standing at the entrance to the sitting room.
“I’ve made coffee.”
“Fuck off.” The staircase to his room seemed longer than usual. Hangover. He slammed the door, pulled his old rucksack from under the bed. Packing quickly and light was an old Army skill.
Sherlock was blocking the bottom of the stairs. John looked at those familiar angular features, the skin round the eyes tight in something resembling distress. This wasn’t what he wanted. For a short while he’d been close to content, in this flat, with this company, and now everything was in tatters again. Sherlock’s fault.
“There is something very wrong here.” Sherlock’s voice was probing. “You are neither stupid nor dull, John, and you are one of the last men I would expect to overreact to this extent. Something is triggering this.”
“Get out of my way.”
Somewhat to his surprise, Sherlock moved to one side. As John pushed past, tense against God knows what the man might try, Sherlock spoke softly.
“Come back when you’ve figured it out, John.”
John paused at the front door. “I’ll talk to Mrs Hudson about the rent. And I’ll send for my stuff.” Then he was out, taking a deep breath of London air, heading towards Regent’s Park for the sake of having some sort of destination.
John couldn’t afford a place in London. He hadn’t been able to afford one even before he deducted his share of the Baker Street flat, paid by standing order weekly out of his pension. He had written to Mrs Hudson asking her to look out for a new lodger, and to cancel his standing order when she found one. It hadn’t happened yet.
He found himself, much to his discomfort, homeless. He wasn’t alone; there were plenty of servicemen in his position. No other medics, but he couldn’t get a job while he had no permanent address. He’d not contacted Sarah since he left Baker Street. He no longer owned a phone. Every week or so he’d make his way over to Harry’s, have a meal, a shower, wash his clothes, kip on her spare bed for a night. She’d asked him to stay longer; he’d seen the reluctance in her eyes, had declined. If she didn’t know he was sleeping rough she was blind, but it was convenient for both of them to pretend that all was OK.
His leg had started to hurt again. He missed his old cane. He’d dropped the therapy; he couldn’t afford the tube fares out to the hospital. Eating cost a lot of money when you couldn’t cook anything yourself. He refused to live on burgers. He refused to beg.
After three weeks he’d almost forgotten why he was out there. That he’d got a flat, with a bed and a kitchen and a shower and a washing machine and a heap of clean clothes waiting for his return. Every so often he remembered the clothes, and he was tempted to send for them, but what could he do with more clothes than would fit in his old backpack?
Sometimes he stayed in hostels. More often he stayed out on the street. He got known as a doctor; he found himself providing help to people who weren’t registered with any surgery. He got into a couple of fights without wanting to, won them. Started to look enviously at the rough sleepers with dogs; the ones who had something to watch their back while they slept. Most of all, a dog was something to talk to. Someone knew someone who knew someone else; he withdrew the last couple of hundred pounds savings that he’d earmarked for a deposit on a room, when he could afford a room, became the owner of a small white bulldog pup. Now money was tighter, with both of them to feed, but he managed. His pension was slightly larger than the benefits that he could have claimed otherwise. And training Gladstone gave him something to do, aside from his ad hoc and probably illegal doctoring.
There was a uniformed police officer that John recognised, who seemed to be walking beats near him a great deal for someone supposedly on the detective squad. He was being watched by Lestrade. He was, no doubt, being watched by Holmes. Possibly even by Mycroft; he had had access to some government secrets in the last few months. Since no-one was interfering or offering to help him he set his jaw and determined to ignore all of them.
A cold November night and he’d wrapped himself up early, fallen asleep. No point in being up after sunset- that way you just got cold fast. He woke to Gladstone’s high puppy growl, was rolled over and on his feet, hand inside his jacket.
“You let go of what you’re holding, John, and I’ll pretend I don’t know what it was.”
Shit. He could get six months in prison for carrying a knife in a public place; John could only hope Lestrade kept his word. He let go of the handle, dropped to his knees to calm the dog. Looked up, unfocussedly anxious. “Has something happened?”
“Just a social call.” Lestrade glanced up the alley. “I’d rather not talk here though. Dinner?”
Dinner sounded wonderful. “It will have to be a takeaway. I’ve got the dog. And you’ll have to pay. I’m just about broke for the rest of the week.”
“Nether of these are problems.” Lestrade lifted his voice. “Donovan! Job for you.”
The sergeant moved into the one street light, nodded at John cautiously. Even in the poor lighting he could see the discolouration across one side of her face.
“I have,” John said cheerfully to her, “finally acquired a hobby.” He lifted Gladstone’s rope. She snorted, shook her head. “Bit late now.”
“Take Dr Watson’s dog for a walk, will you, Donovan? I’ll ring when we’re done.”
John handed the makeshift lead over, noting with approval that she leaned over to fuss the dog before taking it.
“Oh. You’ll need these.” There was a bundle of old carrier bags in his rucksack. He dug out a couple. “Don’t feed him junk food; he gets over excited. He’s fine with other dogs.”
She nodded. “Come on then, boy.” and she was off up the street.
“She’s been in the wars recently,” John commented.
“Self inflicted.” Lestrade waited for John to bundle his sleeping bag away.
“How do you inflict a black eye on yourself?” John shifted the rucksack onto his shoulders, the familiar weight unnoticed these days.
“In Sally’s case, she told your former flatmate that your present condition was all his fault once too often.”
“Sherlock did that?” John was stunned.
“Sherlock’s doing a lot of stuff these days.” Lestrade sounded tired. “Mainly cocaine, I think. Maybe worse. I’d pull him in for a tox screen if I could think of something useful to do with the results.”
That produced silence, until they were settled in the restaurant. With unexpected tact, Lestrade had picked a steakhouse chain full of tourists. Still better food that John had become used to, and no-one raised an eyebrow at the rucksack or his clothes.
Lestrade let John eat his steak in peace. John wasn’t under any illusions. The inspector wanted something. Still, it was nice to eat well for a change; he got takeaway at Harry’s. He pushed the empty plate to one side, picked up the refilled glass of wine, looked up at Lestrade. “Well?”
“What happened?” Lestrade was even toned, unthreatening. Interrogation mode.
“Just how is this a police matter?” John was starting to remember what it was like to care about it all again. He didn’t want to talk about it.
“Don’t be naive, John.” Lestrade put down his own wine. “You know damn well that we need Sherlock. Right now he’s close to worthless.”
He carried on over John’s attempt to tell him just how little he cared about that.
“Professionally, that’s the situation. Personally- well, Sally’s not the only person to think Sherlock’s histrionics aren’t worth crap while you’re sleeping out here every night. Personally I’d like nothing more right now than to pull him in, send him down for substance abuse, assault on an officer, illegal firearms, let you go home to an empty flat in peace.”
He frowned at John. “I could do that. Most people would approve. But next time something tough comes up, no Sherlock Holmes. It’s a decision that I can’t put off much longer. I’m asking you to tell me what happened to make you walk out. I don’t want to make that decision in ignorance of what sparked all this.”
The dessert menus arrived. John hid behind his for a few minutes, deciding.
“I’ll have the icecream sundae. And coffee.”
The menus were whisked away, leaving him with nothing to look at but Lestrade’s patient face. No options but to start talking.
“You know he’s gay.”
Lestrade nodded. “Well, yes. Obviously.”
“I didn’t know.” He sighed. “I suppose I should have done, but I didn’t think about it. He was just Sherlock.”
Lestrade was watching him, not interrupting. Used to extracting confessions. Was this what this was?
“One of his old boyfriends turned up. Sherlock pretended that we were a couple to stop the guy hitting on him. “
He suddenly wondered about Lestrade. Who had never mentioned a partner.
“Sherlock.’ He sighed, “Sherlock patted my arse and I lost my temper with him. He accused me of homophobia, because I didn’t want all the sordid details about him and this man. So I demanded that he tell me. He did, of course. Graphically. I pushed and pushed him and in the end he told me that he didn’t have sex any more, because he was hooked up on a man who unavailable.”
Slightest of nods from his listener.
“So I walked out.”
A long pause. “What happened next?”
John shrugged. “I had no money, I ended up out here.”
Lestrade was staring at him. “That’s it?”
“Well. Congratulations.” Lestrade’s voice was flat.
“You’ve managed to achieve the near impossible. I actually feel sorry for Sherlock Holmes.” He pushed his chair back, stood up. “Enjoy your dessert. I’ll settle the bill.”
John still hadn’t thought of any response by the time Lestrade had paid and stalked back up to the table for a final word.
“I’d say that he was better off without you, but he isn’t. He’s a mess. You might care to think about that while you play victim out here.”
John ate his dessert, without enjoyment. Left half the coffee. Thanked Donovan standing outside the restaurant, his eyes slipping off the bruises, took back Gladstone. It was cold now but he told himself he’d sleep better for a hot meal. In the end he didn’t sleep at all.
Mrs Hudson went out on Tuesday afternoons. John couldn’t remember which of her various organisations it was, didn’t care. He stood on the doorstep, rummaging for the key, deep in a back pocket, then scooped up the puppy, getting to be quite a weight now, and went inside.
The sitting room was far worse than he’d imagined. Papers, half full mugs, fly-ridden leftovers, over every available surface. And Sherlock standing in the middle of it, completely expressionless. Looking absolutely like Sherlock, if a little pale and several pounds skinnier.
Gladstone wriggled. John lifted the puppy. “Dog,” he explained, to one of the finest deductive minds in the world.
“Yes.” Sherlock shot into motion, dumping a large box of what looked like financial records out on the floor. He grabbed a couple of the top bank sheets from the pile sliding across the floor, shoved them back in to line the base.
“Here”. He dropped the box somewhere near John’s feet, ran out to the kitchen.
John heard the tap running. He took a deep breath, pushed detritus off the couch and sat down on it, placing the dog in the box beside him with a pat.
Sherlock returned. “Water.” In their landlady’s best china. Gladstone lapped noisily for a few seconds, curled up to sleep. They’d done a lot of walking that day for a young pup. It had taken John a great deal of gathering up courage to get here.
“Why Gladstone?” Sherlock had moved over the other side of the room, by the window.
“A passing resemblance.” Naturally Sherlock knew his dog’s name.
“Right.” Sherlock looked around the room with some desperation. “There might be coffee. I think the milk is gone.”
The vagueness unsettled John. “You don’t know?”
That got a half smile. “There are at least two mugs of coffee in here without milk added. Given that Mrs Hudson replaces the milk at the same time that she collects up the mugs, I deduce that there is no milk. There are no mugs of tea. I make tea when the coffee is gone. It is possible that the coffee has been exhausted but I have not yet had occasion to make tea, but it is more probable that there is still coffee.”
He raised an eyebrow at John. “Better?”
John nodded. “A little. Better still would be being able to remember what you’ve been doing.”
Sherlock sighed. “I don’t even know what day it is. Though I could doubtless work it out. Couple of days since my last hit. I was about to shoot up again.“
“For God’s sake, Sherlock! Lestrade said you were a mess but I didn’t imagine this.”
Sherlock did smile at that. “He said the same about you. But you look fine. Look good.”
“You hit Donovan.”
“Yes. I do remember that, as it happens.” His lips thinned. “I seem to be causing Inspector Lestrade some difficulties at the moment.”
“He’s decided it’s my fault.” John said flatly.
“You’re certainly the most significant cause.” Sherlock wasn’t pulling any punches, as usual.
John looked round the room again. “Let me tidy up a bit.”
He frowned at Sherlock. “Why not?”
“Because if you’ve come home, there will be plenty of time for that. If you haven’t, it will merely return to this state soon enough. Talk to me first, John.”
John’s hands were flat on his knees, back straight. The dog snored noisily.
“All right.” He looked straight at Sherlock, noting the slight shakes, the darkness around the man’s eyes, the tongue running across dry lips. If Sherlock had been abusing cocaine for the month and a half since he left, the man would find it hell to stop. Found that he was looking away already.
“I don’t care that you’re gay.”
Sherlock shook his head slightly. “You do.”
John found that he’d reached down to caress the dog. “All right then. Yes, I do. I liked it being just you and me, Sherlock. I liked living with your stupid behaviour and your brilliant mind. I needed a best damn friend and I thought that I’d found one. I thought that was what you wanted too. Partners. Buddies. Comrades. Stupid and naive of me, but there you are.”
He sighed. “I don’t know any gay men well. The ones I met in my Army career were, on the whole, rather miserable. You were quite right- the Army is a pretty homophobic culture. I didn’t want you to be someone like them. Even worse, I didn’t want you to be someone like Moriarty. I thought... I don’t know. I wanted you to show me that it wasn’t like that for you, that you were somehow gay on some higher ethereal plane, and instead you told me about rough anal penetration and shagging policemen.”
Sherlock was watching his face, silent.
“I’m not OK with that, Sherlock. I know I made you tell me. I know it’s none of my damn business. I know there’s nothing morally wrong with it. I’m just not OK with hearing about it, thinking about it. Old dog, new tricks, I guess.”
He scratched the pup’s ear. “So you confirm all my worst prejudices about your sordid gay lifestyle. And because that’s not the kind of man I thought you were, I felt betrayed. Which was bad enough, but then you tell me that you’re attracted to me. “
Not a flicker from Sherlock.
“I guess I should have felt mildly flattered. Sorry to disappoint you, perhaps. But all I could do was think “all the time we’ve been together he’s been getting off on imagining ramming his cock up my arse. Roughly.””
Sherlock shifted at that. Protest?
“So yes, I might be just a little fucking homophobic, Sherlock. Because living rough for six weeks because I can’t look my flatmate in the eye has to be classed as a bit of an over-reaction.”
“But,” and this time he made the effort to look at Sherlock directly, “I don’t want to care that you’re gay. It must be possible to get used to the idea. Even to get OK with the idea that you fancy me and I don’t reciprocate and that’s not the end of the world for either of us. “
He shook his head, suddenly despairing. “It’s probably too late. I’ve got a dog and you’ve got a cocaine dependency and neither of those is going to go well with sharing a flat, even if you wanted to try. But I had to come and try to explain why I ran. I’m sorry.”
Sherlock’s quick smile. “I like dogs. And I’m not that fond of cocaine. I prefer work.” He rummaged through the papers piled high on the desk. “Here.”
John took the handful of papers. Notes, made with letters cut out from the newspaper. “we Know where You live” the first said, and the second “We are Watch ing You” Similar vague statements on the rest.
He knew rather more of newspapers now, having collected endless discarded ones to read or for the pup’s bed. “Independent,” he announced, to Sherlock’s smug approval. “Who writes threatening letters out of the Independent, for God’s sake?”
He leafed through the papers again. “How were they delivered?”
“According to Mike, in the post, but he threw away the envelopes.”
“What size envelopes?”
“Very good, John. “ Sherlock’s tone oozed pleasure. “Ordinary DL.”
“These haven’t been folded.”
“So he’s lying.”
“So this was a bit of Friends Reunited? Sherlock Holmes is getting his name about; let’s see if we can hook up again?”
“I’ll make a consulting detective out of you yet.” Sherlock pulled out his phone, tapped for a few seconds. Walked close enough to show John the screen.
invoice to follow
“Classy.” John commented. “Right. It’s damn cold out there and there’s a nice warm bedroom upstairs fully paid for. Can we tidy up now? This place is searing my eyeballs.”
“You can clear up, certainly.” Sherlock curled gracefully up in a chair, on top of most of the crap. “I’m in cocaine withdrawal. Write me a script for temazepam. And collect.” He did look distinctly shaky.
“I can’t. You know that. I’m not working.” He looked down at Sherlock, who was looking more and more as if he did need something.
“But I know someone who might. Can I use your phone? Mine’s been dead for weeks.”
He had more than one apology to make. As he dialled, Sherlock spoke again.
“Move over towards your right twenty inches, facing away from me.”
“Why?” He did it anyway.
“Since you are going to flaunt your heterosexuality in front of me for the next fifteen minutes, I might as well get the benefit of the view.”
For about three seconds John considered walking out again. And Sherlock surely knew that. A message; Sherlock was not prepared to tiptoe around this. He wouldn’t be Sherlock if he was, John thought, ruefully. It was up to John to adapt, as he had adapted about everything else. If he thought it worth it. If he could.
“Eyes only”, he said, firmly.
He could ignore that, he told himself. Finished dialling.
“Sarah,” His voice was steady. “Sarah, it’s John. If you’re still prepared to listen, there are some things I need to tell you.”
Silence, but she hadn’t hung up. He took a deep breath, the scent of rotting food making him regret it, and started, painfully, to explain.
THE ENDSequel-Tend To Corrupt (Part 1/2)