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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chapters 42-44

Here are chapters 42, 43 and 44.  If you follow me on AO3 or FF.net, then you’ve seen these by now.  🙂  I’ve been getting some very sweet comments all around, and thank you for all of them 🙂  There’s still a lot more to go!

In this segment, I finally hit the 50,000 word point that was my NaNoWriMo goal.  Granted, it’s just about two months late, but still, I’m very pleased with what I have.  I can’t guess how long this will be by the end, and not all of those 50K words are for sections posted (includes notes and future scenes), but I’m hoping I’m over halfway done.  Hoping!  🙂

I also had a bit of trouble with chapter 43.  I ended up writing down all the bits I wanted to say, printing out the pages, cutting each bit apart and taping it back together after I pieced it like a puzzle.  Worked much better in my brain to do it that way rather than seeing small sections of it on the computer screen.

As for other news, today is the last day of my vacation week.  It was a rather nice week off since I didn’t have to leave the house for work when it was 30 below zero windchills and I didn’t have to get up early any days at all.  It was productive as well, since I got a couple chapters done on my Sherlock and the Huntsman story (not posted here yet) and some work done on Regency Sherlock, (which is titled The Lazarus Machine elsewhere, but I still refer to it in my head as “regency sherlock”).  I, of course, didn’t get as much done as I’d like, since there were books I wanted to read that I didn’t and I could have gotten a lot more writing done, but I relaxed and that was what was important.

So, if there was anything else I wanted to say, I’ve forgotten it.

Chapter 42

Lestrade found Sherlock the next morning in the morgue at St. Bart’s. Anderson wasn’t in that day, so the place was devoid of the normal din of insults and potentially lethal chemical altercations.

“Heard we’ve got something we can identify.”

Sherlock gestured to the three heads propped up on the table before him.

“Right, well, I’ll go through the files and bring in a few likely…”

“No need,” Sherlock said shortly. “Lionel Pine, Dorothy Mae Hopkins, Charles Bellows.” Sherlock pointed to each in turn without looking up from his scribbling.

“Well, I’ll go visit the families, then, have someone come down to claim the… bodies.”

“Fine. I’m finished with them.”

“No mummification or jars full of alcohol or boiling them in acid, Holmes?”

“No.”

That was the response that gave Lestrade pause. Sherlock would usually have told him how moronic his suggestions would be, not catching the joke. He’d start a lecture on the scientific process of evidence-gathering and proper analysis of human remains. Maybe even go off on a rant about destroying vital evidence and how could Lestrade even suggest that as someone who “aspired” to be a detective.

Lestrade wasn’t sure what to say now that the conversation had escaped normal parameters.

“So…” Lestrade looked around the room. “Where’s that new husband of yours?”

“Home, I expect,” Sherlock answered after nearly a minute.

“Well, I suppose running after you all day can exhaust any man.”

Sherlock just stared at his pages of notes, not writing, not even seeing them as he rifled through them, possibly.

“So if you’re done with the heads, why are you still at the morgue?”

“Lestrade, this is hardly the time for idle chatter. Don’t you have families to notify?” Sherlock’s voice was sharp.

“Is something wrong, Holmes? You seem…” Lestrade would have been hard-pressed to say that

Sherlock was behaving worse than usual, but he was generally more manic and buoyant. Granted, this case had been dragging on, but Lestrade thought that the utter peculiarity would keep Sherlock vastly entertained.

“I’m fine.” Sherlock stood and began gathering his papers together as Lestrade perched on a stool across the table from him.

“You and Watson have a little tiff already?”

“None of your business.” Oh, that was full of bite.

“What did you say to him?” Lestrade asked, tone full of condescension and scold.

“Why do you automatically assume it was my fault?”

“Ah, so that is the problem!” Lestrade leaned his elbows on the table after checking that it was free of bodily fluids. “Watson seems like a good-natured man. And I’ve known you six years, Holmes.”

Sherlock rolled up his papers and tucked them into one of the pockets of his greatcoat before settling it over his shoulders.

“Come on, what happened last night? I know there was a chase. Had Gregson from the night watch in my office when I got there this morning but he didn’t tell me much.”

Sherlock gave Lestrade his typical contemptuous look.

“Gregson was late, as usual.”

“You’re really going to make me drag it out of you, Holmes?”

“What do you want me to say? I don’t understand why John is angry with me. I don’t understand why he departed so suddenly for home after stopping a suspect from strangling me.”

“So he saved your life. Great, what did you say immediately after that?”

“He did not save my life. I hadn’t even lost consciousness yet.”

“That’s what you said to him?” Lestrade was using that Sherlock-is-an-idiot tone even though he was quite aware how much Sherlock hated it. Except this time Sherlock didn’t react to it with the huff and stalking off like he usually did. Interesting.

“No.” Sherlock sat down again, resigned to hashing out the night with Lestrade. Maybe it would be helpful. Sherlock could admit that he wasn’t the best at understanding the people with whom he interacted personally. Something as intimate as marriage was certainly a conundrum. “Well, not right away.”

Lestrade merely raised an eyebrow and waited.

“When we saw the man drop the bag off the edge of the bridge, I told John to fetch the bag and wait for me. Instead, he ran after me. I indicated he made the wrong choice.”

Lestrade rubbed his face, ending with the palm of his hand over his mouth as if to keep from interrupted Sherlock to scold him. “Mm hmm,” was all he uttered.

“It could have been lost, Lestrade, though clearly the culprit wants the clues to be found. The bag was tossed over the edge in such a way that it landed on the Westminster Stairs. By the time I returned for it, the contents had already been discovered and reported. It’s vital to unraveling the mystery to have concrete identifications to our victims. It will help us narrow down the time and place of the disappearances, which may help us…”

“John Watson, Holmes. You’re veering off topic.”

Sherlock looked chagrinned.

“What was the last thing you said to him before he got angry?”

“He refused to listen to me regarding the sack. He kept repeating that I almost died, when I didn’t. I told him not to worry so much because his provision in the case of my death was quite generous.”

Lestrade closed his eyes to keep from rolling them heavenward when he heard this.

“I see,” was all he could say for a few minutes. Then, “First, you should have thanked him. I realize that gratitude is not in your repertoire, but when someone saves your life, you thank them.”

“Lestrade, as you say I am hardly the most gracious person; it would not have occurred to me to change my habit in that situation.”

“That is another thing. You can’t treat him like you treat everyone else. He’s your husband, Sherlock. I realize you’ve barely just met, and Heaven knows you’re a difficult, forthright man, but you’re going to have to learn some amount of consideration if you wish to have a pleasant home.”

“What do you mean?”

“You and Lord Sherrinford, for instance. Did you enjoy sharing a home with your brother?”

“I agreed to marry a virtual stranger to escape that household, Lestrade. Surely you’re not actually asking that question.”

“Do you wish to have that same antagonistic relationship with your husband?”

“Oh. Oh.” The unpleasant possibilities apparently flooded Sherlock’s head. “But I’m still not sure where I misspoke.”

“You basically told him that he couldn’t care less if you lived or died.”

Sherlock turned his words around in his head. He supposed they could be interpreted that way.

“But we barely know each other. Why should he care? He married me for money; that’s hardly a secret between us.”

Lestrade just shook his head.

“Captain Watson is a good man. I believe he wants to be a good husband.”

“You’ve barely met him.”

“Do you have evidence to contradict me?”

Sherlock was silent.

“He admires you, Holmes. Enjoys your company, no? Stayed all night with you in a morgue without complaint?”

Sherlock gave a half-shrug, half-nod.

“You know what? Go home. Talk to your husband. Fix this. Apologize and thank him. And then, for Heaven’s sake, shut your gob. I’ll send a message if I get another letter at Bow Street.”

“Lestrade…”

“Go, or I won’t send you a message if I get another letter. I’ll burn it instead.”

“You wouldn’t.” Sherlock started out confident, but as Lestrade glared at him, his confidence faltered.

Jesus Christ on a cross, Lestrade thought, Sherlock Holmes might have just actually listened to me.

Chapter 43

“Where’s John this morning, Matthews?” Sherlock asked as he walked in the front door.

“Still abed, I imagine, Mr. Holmes. He hasn’t rung yet.”

Sherlock glanced at the grandfather clock on his left. It was nearly eleven. Curious. Army habits should have woken him long before now. Months of illness and recovery, he supposed, could alter his sleep pattern.

“Have Mrs. Hudson prepare a tea tray and leave it by the door.”

Sherlock peeled off his outerwear and let Matthews take his hat and coat before climbing the stairs. He wasn’t confident that Lestrade’s instructions would be of any use; after all, the man’s wife was bedding other men. Still, despite his apparently abominable choice of spouse, the man had been married nearly ten years.

Bristling, Sherlock put his hand on John’s doorknob to do as he was ordered.

Locked.

Sherlock crouched to peer in the keyhole in the door plate.  The key was still inserted on the other side, obstructing his view, but a careful prod with a piece of wire from the lock picking tools quickly retrieved from his room indicated the key was half-turned to wedge in the lock.  Still, it was little matter to twist the key from the outside, prod it carefully until it fell to the floor, and twist a square-bent piece of wire until the bolt disengaged.

Sherlock entered the dim, quiet room with little thought of his intrusion.  He was staunchly ignored by the figure in the bed, standing in the middle of the room, lock picks still awkwardly clutched in one hand.

“John?”

No answer.

“Your pattern of breathing indicates you are awake.”

Still nothing beyond another fluctuation of breath.

The fire had been allowed to die, Sherlock noticed, and the room was chilled.  The curtains were drawn against the late morning sun.  John’s clothes were neatly hung behind his dressing screen, though clearly Matthews had not been allowed in to help him undress.  John’s cane was propped against the bedside table, but his robe had slipped off the foot of the bed to the floor.  The lamp that had remained lit the night before was dark; the oil level was still sufficient, so John had risen at some point and extinguished the flame.

John was turned towards the far side of the bed, covers tucked up past his shoulders.  Sherlock moved to the far side of the bed so John faced him.

“John, are you ill?”  The thought alarmed Sherlock, even if he could see that was not the case.  John’s face was not flushed with fever, nor was his hair matted with sweat.

John did, however, close his eyes and twist around in bed so he was facing the other direction.  When Sherlock followed, John moved to his back and stared resolutely upwards.  If Sherlock wanted to look him in the eyes, he’d have to climb on top of him.

Sherlock recognized the silent treatment; he was a master of it when doling it out to Mycroft.  Very well.  John may not be speaking, but he wasn’t deaf.

“Lestrade said I ought to thank you for your assistance last night, and apologize for what I said.”

“Huzzah for Lestrade.”

“Pardon?”  Sherlock was relieved that John spoke, but he didn’t understand the response.  He had hoped that John would, at least, turn towards him.

“Go away.”

An arm appeared from under the covers; it draped over John’s eyes.

“But, John, I…”

“Go.  Away.”

Sherlock had heard that often enough in his lifetime; he was generally pleased to oblige.  Somehow, though, it actually hurt when it came from John.  John was so genial, so amiable, even to Sherlock.  Usually.

When John hadn’t spoken again and Sherlock hadn’t moved after five minutes, John gave in.

“When the door is locked, Sherlock, that is usually more than a mild request for you to stay out.”

“There is little more inviting than a locked door, John.  Besides, if you had truly meant for me to remain outside at all costs, you would have moved the wardrobe in front of the door, or the dresser.”

“I’m tired, Sherlock.”

John’s voice did sound weary, though it didn’t have the slow cadence of sleepiness.

“Did your leg pain you in the night?  Perhaps I dragged you about the city too much yesterday.  The exertion must have taxed the healing muscles, and I know you’re subject to cramping in the night…”

“Damn my leg!”  John sat up suddenly and threw a convenient object at Sherlock with force; it might have done damage if the object had not been a pillow that simply whumped Sherlock in the face.

The outburst stunned Sherlock into silence.

“Of course you didn’t think I could keep up with you running after that criminal!  I couldn’t!  But I’m not helpless and I hate being treated as if I am!  I’m tired of it, Sherlock.”  He slumped back on to the bed, flat now that he’d discarded his pillow.  “So damn tired.”

“John, I…”  Sherlock wasn’t sure what to say.  Lestrade hadn’t thought of this angle, apparently, and hadn’t given Sherlock any clue as to how to deal with it.  He reiterated Lestrade’s advice in his head.  Apologize.  Thank him.  Shut your gob.  The first two were helpful; the last, insulting.

“I may have been wrong to instruct you to stay with the evidence.  You quite possibly saved my life.  I imagined he was only seeking my unconsciousness, but if he had continued after I stopped struggling, he may have succeeded in killing me.”

There was no response from the bed.

“Lestrade also informed me that the remark I made about… after… was insulting to your character.  I did not intend that result.  I’m sorry.  And mind you, I’ve never said those words to anyone but Mother, and I rarely meant them.”  Sherlock added the last statement in a rush, horrified at his own awkwardness.

Sherlock searched his mind for something to fill the suddenly very loud silence in the room.  John wasn’t forgiving him.  John didn’t want to speak to him.  Sherlock failed at something so basic as giving an apology.

“You hit him, you know.”

John still didn’t reply, but Sherlock had the distinct impression that he was listening.

“That was quite an impressive shot.  How far away were you when you fired?  Fifty yards?  You hit him in the chest between the fourth and fifth rib yet he barely flinched when the ball struck.  He only disengaged when you continued to run closer.”

“He really ran away with a lead ball in his chest?” John finally said after an excruciatingly long minute.

“Probably puncturing a lung at the very least,” Sherlock verified.

“How?”

“I’ve no idea.  It didn’t seem to affect him in the least.  Perhaps he wore some sort of armor or the ball had to penetrate a leather wallet and that slowed it down enough to cause very little damage.  However, some of the man’s fluids dripped on me, which I discovered later.”

“Fluids?  Like blood?”

“Very unlike blood, actually.”

John sat up at this and Sherlock smiled broadly, uncontrollably.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the murderer of the street boy Moss is in fact the same man dumping body parts.  There must also be another criminal mind behind this, clearly.  The oaf from last night is little more than a henchman.  Less, perhaps.”

“He seemed to be a capable enough murderer last night.”  John’s voice turned gentle.  “How is your throat feeling this morning?  And the bruising?”

“It will heal.”

“Open the curtain, Sherlock, and let me examine it.”

Sherlock’s immediate impulse was to argue, but he pulled the curtains so the weak winter light filtered in.  He also opened the door to bring in the tea tray.  Matthews had not left it beside the door as instructed but instead was holding it himself.  Sherlock gestured the man inside to set up tea and also tend to the cold fireplace.  He did so efficiently and unobtrusively.  Sherlock also imagined he would report every word of his overheard conversation with John to Lord Sherrinford.

John had settled himself upright while Matthews rebuilt the fire.  He patted the edge of the bed beside him.  Sherlock promptly sat.

John’s fingers worked at the knot of Sherlock’s neck cloth, much less harried than he’d been when he’d done the same thing the night before.  Sherlock had done a sloppy job retying it without a mirror when it was clear he’d be out for the rest of the night.

“Does it hurt when you swallow?”

Sherlock’s Adam’s apple bobbed just above his high collar as he tried it out.

“A little.  Nothing I can’t ignore.”

“Does it hurt to twist your neck?”

The knot came undone and John’s nimble fingers unwound the cloth.  He loosened the collar of Sherlock’s shirt, gently touching Sherlock’s chin to indicate he should look upwards, then side to side.

“No, it’s fine.”

“Good.”  John spent another minute lightly touching several of the bruises that ringed Sherlock’s throat.  “Might feel worse after you sleep, though.”

“I’m sure it looks much worse than it is.”  Sherlock felt his face flush a little.  John removed his probing fingers.

“Yes, your skin is incredibly fair.  Do keep an eye on it.  If the pain worsens or if there seems to be any unusual swelling, please let me know.”

“Very well.”  Sherlock stood and straightened his collar somewhat, leaving the neck cloth draped around loosely.  “If you did not sleep well, and wish to rest, I could play the violin a while.  It will help me think and it may help you sleep.”  Sherlock felt a sudden need to stroke John’s hair.  Ridiculous, and certainly not an urge to be indulged.  “I have an experiment to plan out.  I smelled a peculiar chemical combination when I was being strangled and from the fluid residue on my coat.  I shall attempt to replicate it.  Perhaps then we shall know the intent of our murderer.”

John appeared to give this offer much more thought than it deserved.  He leaned back against the headboard, eyes flickering over his husband.

“The music would be lovely, thank you.”

 

Chapter 44

 

Sherlock’s throat was fine except for the bruising.  Quite fine.  Elegant.  John could feel the steady pulse beneath his fingertips as he examined it.  When Sherlock abruptly stood, John was disappointed but hardly surprised.

“If you did not sleep well, and wish to rest, I could play the violin a while.  It will help me think and it may help you sleep.  I have an experiment to plan out.  I smelled a peculiar chemical combination when I was being strangled and from the fluid residue on my coat.  I shall attempt to replicate it.  Perhaps then we shall know the intent of our murderer.”

John had not slept well, but it wasn’t interference from his leg this time, at least not mostly.  Instead, terrifying nightmares seared across his brain.  It was as if those years at war had filled him up with horror and now the least little upset caused it to spill over.  He saw Sherlock in a red uniform, suddenly a darker red because of all the blood.  He saw himself cutting off pieces in a panicked attempt to save his life, but the streaming blood only got worse, deeper, rising above his ankles on the floor of the surgical tent.

Once he woke half-paralyzed to the sight of a shadowy surgeon with a dripping saw blade poised just above his knee.  It took a few moments to shake himself out of the vision and realize that the agony he felt was simply cramping again.

“The music would be lovely, thank you.”  It might relax him enough to sleep without dreaming; no matter how exhausted John was, he couldn’t bear to try and sleep when the dreams were coming incessantly.  Plus, now he knew Sherlock was home and safe, not running around London in the middle of the night.  That eased his mind.

“Sherlock, I wasn’t really mad at you.  I… felt useless.  I took it out on you and I’m sorry.”

Sherlock’s eyes widened and he froze.

“That’s… alright, John.”

“No, it’s not.  I wasn’t being honest with you.  My leg pains me, yes, but when someone else treats me differently because of it, it makes me feel angry.”

Sherlock nodded.

“I’m not the best with feelings, John, but I should understand motivation.  I will file this away for further consideration.  I cannot guarantee my behavior will improve immediately.  But you should know, I asked you to get the bag because of the evidence, John, not because of your leg.  Well, at least mostly.”

John unexpectedly grinned.

“So what was in the bag, anyway?  I assume it didn’t drift away to sea.”

“Three heads.  Lestrade is informing the families.  One of them was Dorothy Mae Hopkins, so Mrs. Evans will have her closure.”

“As much closure as one can have with only a head and a hand to bury.”

Sherlock’s hands fidgeted.

“I made notes.  They’re downstairs, if you wish to look at them.”

John still felt weary, perhaps even more so that his anxiety from the night had gone with Sherlock’s arrival.  He wished for nothing more than for Sherlock to crawl into bed with him, wrap those long arms around him, let John use him as a pillow.  He couldn’t ask for that, not yet.  They were too far apart still; John probably wouldn’t even find it relaxing with the shock in his head of it actually happening.

“Maybe later, Sherlock.  I ought to try and rest a little more.  If I get up now, I’ll probably fall asleep on the papers.”

“You’d still be handsome, even with ink on your cheek depicting a severed head.  Rest, John, and join me when you feel up to it.  I’ll get my violin.”

Sherlock fled the room.  John didn’t miss their matching blushes when Sherlock told him he’d still be handsome.  He lay back in bed with a whole new misery: longing for the touch of Sherlock Holmes.

 

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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Long awaited chapters 40 and 41

Well, these chapters are long awaited by my friends and myself.  There are a few things I wanted to say in them but they didn’t flow quite right, so I’m saving a few statements for later chapters.  I (finally) got to use my flintlock research (yay, and John’s gun is here) and a bit of the Gloria Scott plotline regarding Victor Trevor, original canon (emphasis on a bit).  Total wordcount so far 46,432, including some bits I haven’t used yet.  🙂  Almost to my Nov 30 goal! ;o)

WordPress was looking a little wonky today, so I hope this posts okay.

Chapter 40

Sherlock had anticipated the question, but had been too busy thinking about the case to devote himself to formulating a proper answer. He also hadn’t expected a visit to the Professor to introduce the name into John’s mind, though perhaps he should have. They walked past several buildings in silence before Sherlock could decide how to explain Victor Trevor.

Victor Trevor was a mistake. No, definitely the wrong statement, no matter how true it was.

Victor Trevor was a friend. Hardly something Sherlock would care to admit. He didn’t pretend to truly understand friendship, but what he and Victor were to each other was not friendly.

Victor Trevor found Sherlock amusing, diverting, interesting. Promising. Mostly true.
“We met during a university lecture. Or, rather, just after I’d harangued a guest lecturer about his conclusions regarding the coagulation times of blood and stormed out of the theater. Victor popped out of the door a minute later and let loose a burst of laughter.

“‘Oh, that was the most infamous thing I’ve ever seen!’ he said. ‘It was glorious to see you put that imbecile in his place. However he was invited to lecture here, I do not know.’

“I was almost tempted to laugh with the young man, but my mood was too ruined by the false promise of a useful lecture.”

“‘Come, let us find a drink and while away the afternoon. I think I will quite like you, Mr. Holmes.'”

Sherlock walked a few paces with a silent John before speaking again.

“No one had ever thought they might like me before. My tutors despised me for I mostly proved to them they had little to teach me. I had no playmates as a child except Mycroft, and he was much older than I. I was fascinated with Victor, if perhaps in the most selfish way possible.”

“Your cousin Petrina seemed fond of you,” John offered.

“She grew up in Italy. We met perhaps only three times until our late teens.”

“That’s too bad. I can only imagine the mischief the two of you would have caused.”

“We did manage to dye a cow orange once when I was eight.”

John’s laughter rang out.

“You’ll have to elaborate on the intention of that experiment sometime, Sherlock.”

“Hmm, yes, well, it did have quite unexpected results.”

“Victor,” John reminded gently when Sherlock’s thoughts drifted into experimental directions.

“Mycroft disapproved of Victor. He was an illegitimate son, though his studies were financed by his father, a German baron. Mycroft thought he was seeking a soft life, money. I argued that his father clearly supported his son and he wasn’t a fortune hunter. Mycroft didn’t threaten to cut me off, not at first, but he made it quite clear that he didn’t trust Victor.

“We spent a lot of time together in the next few months. We shared many of the same intellectual interests, science, medicine, philosophy. We could speak for hours on these subjects. We visited the Professor together, helped with his experiments.

“Victor invited me to spend a summer holiday at his father’s home. We traveled up the Rhine to get there and were to spend nearly two months in company. Though Victor was illegitimate, his father socialized with him quite openly. The man had no children by his marriage to a quite eligible young heiress and had been considering naming Victor Trevor his heir.

“During the holiday, a letter arrived for the Baron, one which upset him grievously, though he wouldn’t say a word to anyone about its contents. That seemed to be an end to the matter, except for a few days later, the Baron fell ill.

“Victor sat by his father’s bedside, reading to him, comforting him, until one morning he very quietly passed away. I took my leave from the house of mourning, but not before being regaled with the tale of a spectacular turn of events.

“The Baron had confessed all on his deathbed. He had been the father of Victor Trevor; that was no lie. The secret was that young Victor’s mother had indeed been his wife, not the woman who so long claimed the position with face and fortune. Theirs had been a secret marriage between young lovers without thought to consequence. When the Baron was told by his father that he would have to marry a particular heiress or risk being disowned entirely, he held his tongue and obliged. The secret wife kept silent as well, but eventually died of heartbreak.

“The letter the Baron had so recently received listed these details and more. In return for a hearty and regular sum, these events would remain secret until the Baron’s demise. If the money faltered or the blackmailer was sought after, the shame of his bigamy would be spread far and wide. His lady wife would not visit him in prison, nor would the magistrates be inclined towards empathy by his defense.

“Victor was named heir and returned to London a month after I did. He’d changed. I mean, he was always supercilious but now he was entitled to deference.”

The idea of finding a hackney to take them the rest of the way home had been lost and the pair of them set foot on Westminster Bridge. There were plenty of people crossing the Thames even at this time of night. Most hurried on their way; a few tipped their hats to the gentlemen passing arm-in-arm. A few people, mostly young couples, had even paused on the bridge to look upon the dark water, moonlight reflecting on the inky surface on this unusually clear night.

One of the moon-gazers, though, was neither part of young romance, nor interested in celestial objects. Sherlock’s gaze drew sharper focus around this man: tall, spare despite the width of the shoulders of his greatcoat; pale, the moonlight lighting up the edge of his jaw under the shadow of his hat-brim; coat, long, hiding something in its shadow as well, something tucked between the man’s legs and a baluster at the edge of the bridge.

“John, that man,” Sherlock said lightly as they approached. From the way he was turned, Sherlock deduced he’d come from the Westminster side of the bridge.

“Which man?” John began scouting the closest people to them methodically, a habit surely developed at war when any common man might be an enemy or a spy.

“Top hat, greatcoat, shadow, stopped at the railing to our left. Suspicious and matches the description given me by…”

Sherlock cut off as the man lifted a sack from the shadows near his feet and tossed it over the rail.

“John! Stay here and fetch that sack!”

Sherlock took off running the hundred feet left between him and the man. The man caught his advance from the corner of his eye and turned, shoving a blustering middle-aged banker out of the way before running back to the Westminster side of the bridge.

“Sherlock!” John called, but if Sherlock heard him, his fleet step did not falter as it grew ever distant.

Chapter 41

John hobbled quickly to the side of the bridge to see if he could catch sight of where the sack had landed, though his first instinct was to run after Sherlock. It was hard to see in the dark, far past the illumination created by the bridge’s fairly new gas lights, but he hadn’t heard a great, plonking splash, and they were near the bank, so hopefully it had landed in the muddy shallows.

John looked again towards the direction Sherlock had run. The sack could be buggered. He set off at a slow gallop, moving as quickly as he could with his bad leg, cane hitting the ground every third or fourth step. He wasn’t going to catch up with Sherlock’s long legs unless the man captured or lost his quarry, but John didn’t care.

John followed the trail of disgruntled pedestrians, pausing at corners to judge whether Sherlock and his quarry had turned or gone straight ahead. He had not caught sight of them, not yet, but he delved with abandon further into the rabbit warren that was London’s streets. Still, there came a point when John slowed to a walk, feeling hopelessly lost and unable to find either Sherlock or his way home. His chest heaved with exertion; his pounding heart made him feel a bit light-headed.

“Sherlock!” His bellow was met with catcalls and admonitions from the residents of the street. “Sherlock Holmes!” Blast the watch and blast the hour. John strode forward slowly, peering carefully down each narrow alleyway. Nothing, no one.

When his breathing had caught up with him, he moved forward a little faster, sick with worry. John could only pray that his leg wouldn’t give out on him, that he could keep going. Just one more street. Sherlock surely must be around that next corner. He tried to pay attention to the people on the street; they’d helped him track Sherlock this far.

Most of the pedestrians at this time of night strode hurriedly towards their destination: servants on their way home or on some errand for their masters, couples to various entertainments or a late dinner, a few men to the pub or the home of their mistress. None showed signs of having just witnessed a chase or a fight. No fluster or calls for the watchman, no hurried steps away from the site of a scuffle.

John was about to open his mouth and vainly call for Sherlock again when he felt a tug on his coat-sleeve. Pickpocket was his first thought, though a decent pickpocket would perform a bump and run, not tug on his sleeve. He looked down to his left, finding a dirty urchin that reminded him far too much of the boy in the morgue yesterday.

“Two streets up and one that way,” the boy whispered, gesturing to his left. A second later, he’d disappeared among the people and the darkness.

John didn’t wonder for a second if the little boy’s directions might lead him into a trap. He couldn’t risk the possibility that Sherlock’s little spies were truly everywhere. John threw himself into a run as much as he was able. He saw fewer people this direction, and finally a deserted street. Well, nearly.

When John saw his husband flat on his back on the ground and the large man from the bridge bent above him, he was still too far away to do much more than shout, “Sherlock!”

The villain lifted his head as John continued to lurch steadily towards them; his top hat had been lost along the way so his dark, rumpled hair was visible in the glow of the oil lamps that still lighted this part of the city. The blackguard gave John a teeth-baring grimace when he noticed him, but all John saw was Sherlock. Sherlock lying on the ground. Sherlock being held there by thick hands on his throat. Sherlock struggling, but weakly.

John calculated the distance between them. Too far, too far. He kept running towards Sherlock, and pulled the gun from his pocket. At just over fifteen inches, it fit into one of his long, narrow greatcoat pockets and was mostly hidden by the heavy weight of the wool. It was a smoothbore flintlock, which meant accuracy at this distance could be erratic. Closer.

John’s father had purchased the Newland Pattern Pistol when he’d left for the war. Years of practice allowed John to load and fire it three times in a minute. He couldn’t count on having more than one shot here. He had to make it count. And he had to avoid accidentally hitting his husband.

John pulled back the half-cocked hammer, pausing in his run to aim. The whole world focused down to the barrel of his gun and his target. The pounding of his heart and the heaving of his lungs were of no consequence. He’d fired this shot a thousand times in the last few years, despite being a surgeon. It was a battle just to get to the surgeon’s tent some mornings. Breathe in, aim, breathe out, fire.

The flint sparked against the frizzen, the powder blessedly ignited, the ball flew towards its destination.
The flash in the night and the resulting smoke hid Sherlock and the brute from John’s view for far too long. He dashed through the dissipating smoke only to see the lowlife running into the darkness.

“Sherlock!” John rushed through the final yards before collapsing to his knees beside Sherlock’s prone form, dropping his gun to the cobbles.

Sherlock was still breathing, though in a pained, wheezing manner. John pulled away all constraint from his neck, scarf, knotted neck cloth, shirt collar. It was hard to see whether Sherlock’s long white neck was damaged, though his pale skin would surely show brilliant bruises in the next day. Sherlock indicated he wanted to sit up, so John swept his arm under Sherlock’s shoulders and propped him up. Sherlock leaned forward and gave a hacking cough, but his breathing seemed easier after.

“John, you left the bag,” he rasped, barely able to squeak the words out of his injured throat.

“The bag, Sherlock? If I had stayed to get the bag, been even a minute later, you might be dead!” Sherlock wheezed in a breath and coughed it out harshly as if to prove John’s point. “How can you for a moment have thought about that sack?”

“Evidence,” he gritted out, coughing again. “We should go. That gunshot will surely bring the watch.” Sherlock’s voice was gravelly, but stronger.

John hadn’t heard the shrill whistles of the watch at first, but he did hear the shouts and heavy boots striking the cobbles a street away.

“We should stay here, answer their questions if we must, and take you home to rest. You were nearly strangled, Sherlock.”

“Nonsense, John, we need to head back to the river and try to collect that sack, take it to the morgue…”

“Damn that sack, Sherlock! You almost died!”

“Why do you keep harping on that, John? You don’t need to worry; I’m sure your provision in the case of my death is quite generous. You would be a wealthy widower, easily able to attract another spouse.”

Sherlock struggled to his feet; John ceased to support him. In fact, John sat back on his heels and stared up at his husband’s full height, plainly astonished.

“Sherlock,” he breathed. Sherlock barely spared him a glance as he picked up John’s discarded gun from the street. “I realize we haven’t known each other very long, but that has to be the most horrible, vicious thing you’ve ever uttered in your life.”

Sherlock blinked in surprise, but whatever he was going to say was cut off by the arrival of the watch.
“Mr. Holmes, sir, it’s you.” Apparently Sherlock had a reputation among all the law enforcement in the city. Too bad that John didn’t bloody care.

“Too late to be of any use, as usual,” observed Sherlock. “The suspect has gotten away. John, where are you going?” John had struggled to his feet, his leg aching from hip to toe now that the adrenaline of the chase was wearing off.

“Fetch the blasted bag from the Thames yourself. I’m going home.”

John headed towards the last street he could remember where he’d seen a hack, hoping he could find one before his leg gave out entirely. Though he felt Sherlock’s eyes on his back, Sherlock made no move to stop his leaving.

When John made it back to Baker Street, Matthews’ raised eyebrow was all the indication of surprise he showed at John’s turning up alone.

“You may as well lock the door, Matthews. I don’t believe Mr. Holmes will be returning anytime tonight. If he does, he can scratch at the door like any other stray.” John limped up to his room, his extended run taking its toll. He leaned heavily on his cane, even considered asking Matthews for assistance with the steps, but still had the strength left to slam his bedroom door shut. Then he locked it for good measure.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

44,000 words, Chapter 39

I’ve decided to post Chapter 39 on its own mainly because it’s a longer chapter than I’ve been writing for this story and because my friends are bugging me to get on with it 🙂  If I post this chapter now, and write the next couple on Monday on my day off, then I won’t feel like I’m torturing them (so much).

Also, I’ve begun to worry that I’m researching too much!  I keep finding bits that I want to add in and they’re just not important, so if I post the chapter, I won’t add more crap in, no matter how interesting.  Worse, I started reading a book that is EXACTLY what this chapter is talking about, the anatomy research and practices of the day, as well as electrical research in regards to the body.  I mean, geez, I’m losing my mind! 🙂  It’s so perfect.  So some of the stuff in the following chapter is vaguely based on fact (or wikipedia, which is almost the same thing, though the time period isn’t exact and I am just not going to go crazy with dripping research all over this.  Be thankful.  🙂

At the end, I’ll post a picture of the machine I’m talking about.  Oh, and also, I changed the last line of the last chapter to put John and Sherlock on their way to Lambeth, as I needed them to cross the Thames on their way home.

 

Chapter 39

 

The address in Lambeth was about three times the size of their home on Baker Street, but less well-maintained.  The exterior was chipping and the first of the stone steps wobbled when John prodded it with his cane.  It wasn’t entirely dilapidated, for the windows shone and the walk was swept, just somewhat neglected.

“I feel I must warn you, John.  The Professor is one of the few men in existence whose genius nearly matches my own.  His genius borders on madness.”  Sherlock mounted the front steps two at a time and used the knocker.

“So, if you are the more intelligent, does that make you mad?”  John says this with a teasing grin, surprising Sherlock into a grin.

“Some seem to think so.”  Sherlock winked and John felt a little guilty for thinking him mad on the morning of their wedding.  Was that only yesterday?  Granted, he had just cause, but Sherlock was a vivid, brilliant man and shouldn’t need to explain his reasons for the things he did.

The door opened on an ancient man, skeletal and hunched over with a sunken chest.

“Is he at home, Marley?” Sherlock asked.

“Yes, sir, tinkering away with his latest contraption.”

“Excellent.  We’ll find him in a good mood, then.”

“Very, sir.”

The elderly butler took their overcoats and left them to find their own way.  Sherlock seemed to be a frequent enough visitor that he familiar with the butler and had the run of the household.

“What is that humming, Sherlock?”  John asked as soon as they were alone in the foyer.  Sherlock turned as he opened a door to their left, eyes alight.

“That is bound to be his latest machine.  This should be exciting!  Come along, John.”

John entered the next room after his husband, but he was stopped by the utterly stunning clutter of the room.  Large globes hung from the ceiling in what John surmised was a model of the solar system.  Books and loose papers were stacked in piles three feet deep in corners despite an abundance of bookshelves.  The shelving held other things, notably taxidermied animals John had never seen in his life and pickled punks, two-headed pigs, four-legged cats and the like.  Glass eyes stared out from the shelving as well, often on their own and not encased in any skull.

Bones littered the place, too, but in a way that suggested something crawled up to the hearth and was allowed to die there.  There was no smell beyond the typical coal smoke and dust and paper smell of a library, so John supposed that could not be true.

Sherlock walked confidently through the mess as if he’d seen it all before and opened a door on the far side of the room.

“He’s what one might call a theoretical anatomist.  Taught me everything I know about the subject.  He was the only lecturer at university worth listening to, but of course they quietly tossed him out a few years ago.”

John didn’t ask what for; he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know.

Sherlock disappeared through the door, leaving John to follow or not.  John bravely threw himself into the next room, breath held in a mixture of dread and anticipation.

“Good afternoon, Professor!” Sherlock called above the oppressive humming.  It made the fine hairs along John’s skin stand up and a strange pressure throbbed through the rest of him.

“Holmes, lad, good to see you, good to see you!  Give me a few minutes and I’ll be right with you.”

John still couldn’t see the man for he was hidden by a huge machine that took up the center of the room.  It consisted of huge glass disks, spinning with a crank, brass globes, glass cylinders, and metal tubing.  There was a definite chemical smell in this room, as well as the acrid scent of burnt hair.  That smell was coming from the body of a dog on a nearby rolling table.

John glanced at Sherlock, whose bright eyes were taking in every inch of the fabulous machine before them.  He moved entirely around it, eyes calculating how it worked, how every part moved and would be taken apart.  There was only one way to describe how Sherlock gazed at that mysterious apparatus: he was enraptured.  And John was entranced by the keen look in his husband’s eyes, until he reminded himself not to be.  He cleared his throat.  Back to the machine, then.

“What is it?”

“It’s Martinus von Marum’s electrostatic generator.  Well, a replica, anyway,” came the hidden voice again.  This time the gentleman came around the tables that held the generator, wiping his hands on a stained cloth.  He was thin, older, perhaps in his mid-fifties with thinning hair fading from brown to gray.  There was nothing spectacular about his appearance other than his eyes.  They were dark and quick and flicked about much like Sherlock’s.   “Who have we here, eh, Holmes?”

“Husband,” Sherlock replied, distracted, his head awfully close to the glass wheels at the center of the device.

“Don’t touch, Sherlock,” the man reminded him.   “Wait, did you say husband?  Whatever happened with that Victor lad you used to come around with?”

Sherlock’s head popped up.  He strode over to the two of them and placed one hand on John’s shoulder.

“Doctor Watson is a finer man than Victor Trevor could ever hope to be.”

This was the first time Sherlock had ever referred to John as anything other than John; it was also the first time since he’d joined the army that someone had referred to him as other than his rank.  Captain outranked doctor, and like the gentry, the highest title preceded any others.  John found he liked hearing Sherlock call him Doctor Watson.  It almost distracted him from wondering about Victor Trevor.

“John, this is James Moriarty.”  John extended his hand.

“Please call me Professor.  Everyone does.”  The Professor shook his hand, smiling widely.

“Good to meet you, Professor.  So tell me about this generator of yours?  What is it for?”

The Professor didn’t take much prompting.  He began a lengthy explanation of the machine, the gist of which was that it rubbed two pieces of wool or other materials together to create a spark of static electricity.  The charge could be stored in a battery, the bank of Leyden jars.  John tried to follow along through terms like dielectric and corona discharge, whose meanings he could guess at but his education on the theories of electrical charges was limited.

“By any chance, are you relation to Sir William Watson, formerly of the Royal Society?”  The Professor stopped in mid-ramble to ask, his speech patterns much like Sherlock’s.

“No, sir, I don’t believe so.”  John was fascinated by the generator, but he felt overwhelmed.  It was a relief to answer a simple question.

“Shame.  I would have loved to get my hands on anything he might have left cluttering up his attic when he passed.  He improved the Leyden jar, you know.”  The Professor gestured to the several racks of metal-lined glass jars on a small table pushed up close to his generator.

“But what does it have to do with the dog?” Sherlock finally interrupted, impatient in his curiosity.

“Ah, yes, the dog, poor thing.  His heart gave out this morning.  I’ve been trying to test my theory that electrical stimulation to the heart might invigorate the muscle.”

“And did it?”  The Professor had both John and Sherlock’s attention at this.  This might have potential to resuscitate the dead.

“Oh, a few twitches, about as effective as salt on a frog leg.  Pup was nearly stiff when I could manage the experiment.  Have to try with a fresher body next time.”

Sherlock was immediately knuckle-deep in the dog’s body, smoothing the fur away from the wires and the edge of the entry into the dog’s chest.

“I have hope for the theory that electrical pulses from the brain to the extremities control our movements.”  Galvani’s nerve theory, that was something John was at least fleetingly familiar with.

“Extraordinary.  I can see why Sherlock thinks so highly of you, Professor.”

“What about reattached limbs?” Sherlock interrupted again.  “Do you think that it would be possible to regain function in a limb completely severed?”

“Were surgical techniques improved, I do believe so.  However, the reattachment and regrowth of the proper nerves and veins would be quite delicate, far more so than we are capable of at this time.”

John and Sherlock exchanged a look.

“Has there been any talk of such an experiment lately, Professor?”  For if someone were to embark on such a thing, surely their first stop would be to the home of the theoretical anatomist James Moriarty.

The man seemed to think about this for a second.

“No one has discussed anything like that with me in quite a while.  I suppose you could ask around at the Royal Society…”

“Banished,” Sherlock said, waving away the idea with a flung-out hand.  John squashed a smile.

The Professor was a fascinating conversationalist, if you could follow him.  One could almost see the anatomy in front of them as he spoke, see the cuts and delicate surgeries he described, imagine it all being possible.  Sherlock and John stayed well past tea and sunset listening and observing demonstrations of several contraptions around the vast laboratory.  Sherlock continued to insert questions that might be relevant to his case without mentioning the case directly and John abetted his subtlety.

“Sherlock, I believe we have distracted the good Professor from his work for too long,” John finally said.  The evening had progressed to nearly night.  Lamps had been lit long ago and John was hungry.  This did not seem like the sort of house where an invitation to dinner seemed forthcoming, especially if the Professor was anything like Sherlock in his refusal to adhere to proper mealtimes.

Sherlock nodded sagely, as if realizing he’d spent too much time distracted from his case by the Professor.

“Yes, I really must be getting John home.  Professor, it’s been enlightening, as always.”

“Do bring your young man back, Sherlock, anytime.  We must encourage his scientific curiosity, eh?”

“I’ve no doubt we’ll be frequent visitors, Professor,” John said with a smile.

“Oh, Professor!  I meant to tell you that Edger’s will have delivered my terrarium today.”

“Excellent, dear boy.  I’ll start separating out a colony of dermestids for you in the morning.”

They had said their good-byes and left before John asked.  The night was crisp for once, instead of damp and foggy.  They began to walk towards the Westminster Bridge, thinking it more likely to find a hack near Lambeth Road or hovering  near the House of Parliament on the other side.

“Dermestids?”

“Use your Latin, John.”  But Sherlock hummed happily to himself.

“Skin,” John said thoughtfully.  “Oh, Sherlock, skin eating insects?  Tell me I’m wrong.”

“No, you’re absolutely correct!  I’ll be able to clean my own specimens right at home.  Mycroft would never let me bring them into the house.”

“What makes you think that I will?”

Sherlock stopped dead and gave John such a pained, pathetic look that John almost laughed.  Still, he kept a straight face.

“Give me one good reason I would allow such a creature, much less a colony of them, in our fine house?”

“They won’t get out, I swear to you, John,” Sherlock rushed to beg.  “I must have them for my work!  I can examine bone fractures in more detail without the flesh getting in the way.  I’ll keep them in my laboratory.  You’ll never even see them.”

“They’ll eat the hairs on your violin bow if they get out.  You know that right?”

Sherlock’s lips twisted in a grimace.

“It is unlikely that the Professor will give me mere bow bugs when I need them for cleaning flesh from bone.”

“Very well, I agree to your condition – they will stay in your lab and I will not see them.”

“Technically, that’s two conditions.  Wait, yes?!”

“Yes, fine, Sherlock, if they’ll make you happy.  You can consider it a wedding gift from me.”

“Oh, excellent, John.”  Sherlock began rubbing his hands together as if plotting something truly heinous and thrilling.

“I have another condition, as well.”

“The deal has already been struck.  You cannot add conditions after the fact.”

“Alright, then, answer me a question in the spirit of conversation, or as a wedding gift from you.”

“Hardly a traditional gift, the answer to a question, John.  Go on, then.”

“Who is Victor Trevor?”

 

784px-Electrostatic_generator_Teylers_Museum

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Electrostatic_generator_Teylers_Museum.jpg

Too much research.  (I could have put in a MUCH more disturbing experiment that I read about today, but I won’t, you’re welcome.)  And a teaser ending.  🙂  Sorry.  🙂

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Writings

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Interlude

I’ve been having these ideas for one-shots pop up in my head this last week, seriously interrupting my work on Regency!Johnlock. 🙂  Today I had one bouncing around my head all day and so I wrote it out when I got home.  I think I got in all the bits I wanted and I’m fairly pleased with how it turned out.

I also christened my AO3 (Archive of our Own) account by posting it there.  Or, as I phrased it, consummated my relationship with AO3.  Hopefully everyone likes it!  I have to say, though, I had to take a break during writing it because the post-Reichenbach feels of it actually made me cry during one paragraph.  I’m not saying the writing is so spectacular that it will make everyone cry, but the idea did it for me.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/623449

First thing I did was find a first name for Sigerson.  I picked Stian, which means “wanderer” according to one Norwegian baby name website.

John has joined Doctors Without Borders (MSF, Medicins Sans Frontiers in very rough French) and it is about two years Post-Reichenbach.

Since it’s nearly three in the morning, here it is with a final warning

HERE BE SMUT!  If you’re under 18, you shouldn’t be reading this blog!

“Wanderer”

God knows John Watson has had more than his fair share of shite heaped upon him, but after his injury, he’d found new life with Sherlock Holmes.  After Sherlock’s death, he’d struggled until he found his place in Doctors Without Borders.  Two years in, now, he had no plan, no other ideas, but hopefully he wouldn’t have to think about that for a while.  He was here until they didn’t want him anymore.  Here his limp didn’t return and his intermittent tremor had all but disappeared.  He was happy here.  They needed him.  Needed him to patch up bodies, go out on risky ambulance runs, even beat the generator into submission on occasion.  They needed his dumb jokes and quick thinking and genial smile.

He’d been on several missions, taking him back to Afghanistan, on to Turkey, and now here, a war-torn little hamlet in the middle of nowhere that saw too many children with gunshot wounds, malaria, and TB.  John had settled in here for the long haul, picking up some of the local language, making friends with his coworkers, and learning as much as he could about the local militias.  London now seemed a foreign land to him, two years distant except for brief visits between missions to his sister Harry.

Doctor John Watson perched on the wooden clinic steps one evening with a rather sorry excuse for a beer in his hand.  It was his last beer until the next supply delivery, warm and a bit flat, though the locals here sold a rather harsh liquor, if he was desperate.  He was not.

John heard the supply truck’s rumble long before he saw it through the trees.  He waved it along as it backed up near the clinic steps, making unloading easier.  A shout into the clinic brought a few colleagues to assist and John shot back the last of his beer before setting the empty bottle on the ground and out of the way.

The driver turned off the engine as all hands started moving and cataloguing the supplies.  Several exclamations were made over crates of longed-for medicines that had disappeared en route from the previous few trucks.  John managed to haul a few boxes into the clinic before pulling a crate of saline bottles across the tail gate and almost letting them crash into the ground.

The driver had come around and was leaning indolently against the side of the truck, lit cigarette in his lips.  His profile displayed a long nose and high cheekbones; he was tall and lanky, long-limbed and long-fingered as he plucked the cigarette away from well-defined Cupid’s bow lips.  John’s whole being stuttered as he caught a sideways glimpse of the man, just a flash.  His mind’s eye supplied the Belstaf coat with its collar turned up and the messy black curls.

John caught himself, pushed the saline crate back onto the truck, and sat down on the tailgate to collect himself.  If any of his colleagues wondered what he was doing taking a break while they unloaded the truck, they didn’t say anything.  After a few deep breaths, convincing himself he could not have seen who he thought he saw, John Watson got up to face the driver.

With those calming breaths, John could see the differences, see how this man could not be Sherlock, his Sherlock.  The driver’s hair was cut short that only the barest bit of unruliness was evident; it was also a dull ginger hue.  The man’s skin was ruddier, dotted with freckles; clearly this man was a friend to the sun for it had made its mark generously.  Rugged cargo pants replaced fine, pressed slacks; military-style boots replaced expensive Savile Row shoes; a simple dusty t-shirt replaced purple silk.  Still, when John stood close to him, looked up at him, the feeling of looking up at Sherlock Holmes was strong.

“Greetings,” the driver said when John approached him.  John put on a tight grin and held out his hand.  The driver had a strong grip.

“Doctor John Watson.”

“Stian Sigerson.  Everyone calls me Sig.”

The voice, John could almost hear Sherlock in the voice, too, but the driver, this Sigerson, had a more nasal accent.  It took a bit more conversation for John to place it, though Norwegian seemed a strong likelihood.

“So, you taking over this route, Sig?”

“No, no, just doing a favor for a friend.”

“Some favor.”

The road between the nearest airfield where the MSF landed supplies was fraught with land mines, snipers, and desperate people.

The bow-shaped lips drew up in a smile but he did not answer.

“Watson,” his head of the mission called, “Since you’re done for the day, show Sigerson here to the canteen and find him an empty bunk for the night.  He can’t drive back until morning.”

“Not a problem, sir,” John answered.  Not a problem, not a problem, Jesus.

***

“Anywhere to get a drink around here?” Sigerson, called Sig, had asked.  John took him to the canteen and they shared a couple of the beers John ordered and Sig had delivered.  Still on the warm side, but better than John’s last.  They shared dinner, too, though Sig eyed what passed for local cuisine suspiciously before digging in.

Sig turned out to be surprisingly good company.  He’d been most recently to Tibet, but Tokyo before that, and Moscow before that.  He had stories of the corrupt officials he’d met, the lamas, the monks and vicious criminals.  He rested his long arm on the table near John’s as he spoke, stretched out his legs and crossed his ankles.

John found himself laughing and telling tales as well, stories he had not spoken of in more than two years.  When he heard Sig chuckling along with him, though, he froze, for the sound brought him back those two years and more.

John took a sip of his beer, though it was suddenly difficult to swallow.  He glanced up over at Sig, who was lounging in his chair, watching him.

“You were reminded, just then, of something painful.”

“No, not exactly.”  The memory of giggling with a naked Sherlock in Buckingham Palace wasn’t painful, not this distant.  It was a little twinge, a little heart-breaking.  “Just, you remind me of a friend who passed.”

“I’m sorry, John.”

There that ache was again, when Sig said his name.  Just that one word lacked the Norwegian accent so prevalent in his other words.  Just that one word and John was taken back to Sherlock speaking to him in 221B Baker Street, back to the London streets where Sherlock would call back over his shoulder, “Do hurry, John!”

Once John had left London, he stopped hearing that voice, seeing that shadow around every corner.  It caused both relief and loneliness.

“I could be your friend, John, for tonight.”

John blinked.  Surely he wasn’t…

But he was.  Sig’s long fingers stroked over John’s wrist, pressing so lightly the way Sherlock’s did when he surreptitiously monitored someone’s heart rate.  John’s pulse suddenly thundered through his veins, throbbing under those dexterous fingertips.

And those eyes, Sig’s eyes speared John, leaving him unable to speak.  Those eyes, those unusual sharp gray eyes, London fog eyes, bore into John’s heart and saw everything.  Saw how much John wanted those lips crushing against his.  Thin fingers tightened on John’s wrist as Sig leaned forward over the small table and kissed him.

Sig tasted faintly of tobacco and beer, but mostly of warmth and comfort.  His free hand wrapped around the back of John’s neck, holding him steady.  John had no impulse to pull away, though, no doubts or second thoughts.  His head was swirling and his heart was thumping and Sig’s tongue was in his mouth doing unspeakably glorious things.

When Sig pulled back, he said in a low voice, “I believe you were to show me to a bunk?  Shall we retire?”

“Oh, God, yes.”

John brought Sig to his room, little more than a narrow bed and a footlocker enclosed by plywood, but it was reasonably private when the occupants of the other rooms were on duty overnight.  John stripped off his shirt as soon as he walked into the room and Sig sat on the bed to unlace his boots.

He stalled momentarily after kicking off his own shoes.  Condoms, did he have condoms in here?  When was the last time he..?

Sig stood up, barefoot, cargo pants drooping low on his waist, and stretched up as he removed his own shirt.  John gaped as the vision swept closer to him, the vision of Sig, all real, too true, with the ghost of Sherlock bursting in and out of focus over him.

“Reach in my pocket, John.”  That voice, like honey in his ear as Sig stepped close, so close, a pleased smirk on his lips.  John moved his hand into Sig’s left front pocket, though he hadn’t specified.  That was where Sherlock had kept his magnifier, something he made John reach for unnecessarily time and again.  Instead of the plastic lens, a few crinkly packets greeted his curious fingers and he drew them out.  A few condoms and a couple packets of lube.

“Always be prepared for every eventuality.”  Sig’s lips met John’s again, soft, teasing.  Fingertips lingered on John’s shoulder, John’s scar, as if he knew where it was.  Of course, he knew, he could see it, the lamp is on, it’s not every day you see a gunshot scar, he’s curious.

Needful, John’s fingers worked at the flies of Sig’s cargo pants, pushed them down.  He more carefully pulled the elastic of Sig’s boxers over his hardening cock and Sig pulled back and kicked his ankles free of the material.

“Now yours.”  Sig stretched out on John’s narrow bed, his long limbs dangling over all the edges and his head denting in John’s pillow.  John couldn’t stop looking at Sig and seeing Sherlock imposed there.  He felt both elated and like he was dying.

“Perfect, you’re perfect,” John breathed.  If Sig took it as a compliment, fantastic, but what John really meant is that the body bared in front of him was everything he’d imagined Sherlock’s body to be.  He’d seen enough of it when Sherlock swaggered around the flat in nothing but a sheet or an untied dressing gown, but never flushed with arousal, never lounging in such graphic invitation on John’s bed.

John hurried with his own trousers and pants and soon lay hip-to-hip with the ethereal being in his bed.

Sig’s slim fingers trailed languidly over John’s stomach, up to his chest, and down again.  John wondered if those fingers were calloused from violin strings like Sherlock’s.  John’s eyes trailed over the bare chest in front of him, the narrow waist, the lean thighs, trying to remember if the faint scars he saw were ones he’d stitched up in the kitchen at 221B Baker Street.  One scar was more recent, across the bottom of Sig’s ribcage; small puncture scars from rough, unpracticed stitches dotted either side of the thick pink line.  John traced this with his tongue.

Then they were kissing again, tongues sparring, mouths breaking away long enough to breathe in or exhale a low moan.  Sig’s fingers discovered sensitive spots on John’s body he wasn’t aware he had.  John realized he’d been stiff since the canteen, since those fingers on his wrist, but now he was so achingly aroused by the touch of this man, the press of this stranger’s body against his, he had to be touched now.

It was enough, for the moment, to thrust his hips closer to Sig’s, to rut into his hot, hard flesh.  Sig pulled his head back with a breathy gasp, then moved down to mark John’s neck.  John found both his shoulders flat against the bed and Sig’s weight pinning him.  Fingers, lips and teeth made their way down John’s body.  His mouth was free to breath but he couldn’t get enough air.

Once a firm hand curled around his cock, John nearly lost control.  He stilled the stroking motion, squeezing the hand around him just a little harder.

“Wait.  I want…”  His free hand scrabbled to where he’d dropped the condoms and lube.  He tore open one of the packets and handed the rolled up condom to Sig.  When he moved to roll the condom onto John’s cock, he stopped him.

“On you.”

“Have you bottomed before?”  That sultry voice was low and husky and had little of the musical Norwegian notes left.

“Go slow.  It’s fine.”  John wasn’t sure if it would be, but he needed to be possessed, to take in this spectre.  He handed over a second packet, the lube this time, and Sig moved to recapture John’s lips with his.  When he pulled back, condom rolled securely down the slight curve of his cock, he repositioned John’s legs, one knee up, the other leg pressed between Sig’s own thighs.  He applied a bit of lube to his finger and began to open John up.

John wasn’t allowed one bit of worry.  Sig’s fingers teased and probed while his other hand stroked slickly up and down John’s erection, never letting it flag.  The first finger inserted felt strange and cold; minutes later, the second felt hot and invasive; the feel of the third pressing inside made John grasping and needy.

“Fuck me.  Please, Sig, I’m ready.”

John groaned as the hands disappeared from his body.  Sig made quick work of emptying the lube packet onto the outside of the condom before rearranging John’s body again.

“Like this?”

They were face-to-face and John could look up into those stormy eyes.  After a little shifting, Sig was pressed at his entrance and John’s legs were wrapped around Sig’s ribs.

“Oh, yes,” John groaned.

Sig shifted his hips, ever so slowly breaching John’s arse.  John arched his neck, baring it for a bite.  Sig obeyed, once fully seated, giving John another love bite to match the one on the other side.

“Move,” John gritted out, grasping that striking face and pulling it to his for another kiss.

Each gentle thrust made John feel so utterly desperate.  He couldn’t control his whimpers and groans.  His eyes whited out more than once as Sig found just the right angle to hit his prostate.

John closed his eyes.  He couldn’t bear to look at Sherlock’s face above him, flushed with passion and exertion.  He couldn’t bear it because it wasn’t Sherlock, it was Sig.  What was his name?  Stian Sigerson.  God, he felt wonderful, but it wasn’t Sherlock, it should have been Sherlock.  They should be in their flat on Baker Street; they should be running through London; they should be giggling at crime scenes and annoying DI Lestrade.  It should be Sherlock’s voice panting, “John,” in the middle of the night.

“Fist your cock.  I want to feel you squeeze me when you come.”  John obeyed the command automatically, hearing it in Sherlock’s voice and knowing that the man always got his way.  His cock was still slick from Sig’s lubed fingers and it wasn’t going to take much more stroking for him to erupt all over his stomach.

Sig’s thrusts came harder, faster, the rhythm more erratic.  “Come for me, John.”  He rebalanced himself on one hand, reaching the other between them and circling John’s hand with his own.  “Let yourself go.”

That husky voice, so like Sherlock’s sleepy drawl, those long fingers wrapping around John’s hand and pulling on John’s cock with him, that maddening friction deep inside thrust John over the edge with so much force his brain shorted out.  A brilliant word exploded in his mind, “Sherlock!” and he wasn’t ever sure if he said it or not.

Sig only groaned one word in response, “Jawn!” as he gave a few stuttered thrusts through John’s climax, groaning at the new tightness.  He shuddered, slowed to a stop, stilled.

After a few quiet seconds, Sig chuckled.

“John, you have to let go.”  The accent was back.  John wasn’t sure if it had truly gone or if he’d just ceased hearing it.

“God, sorry.”  John let his legs relax a bit, unclench from around Sig’s body.  A few awkward movements had Sig pulling out from John and disposing of the tied-off condom over the side of the bed.  They shifted again, carefully, and stretched out close beside each other.

Sig reached to the floor, grabbed a t-shirt, John wasn’t sure whose, and wiped John’s stomach clean before finding a dry corner and wiping down himself.  He rolled back into John, tightly pressed together to keep either of them from rolling off the narrow bed.

“That was amazing.”

Sig gave a chuckle through his rough breathing and nuzzled John’s neck, licking gently.

“I can find another bed…”

“No, stay.  Please.”  John wrapped his arms around Sig even though they were both still hot and sweaty.  In a few, he would find the sheet and cover them, but for now it was enough to just to have the man in his arms and enjoy the utterly obliterating confusion of chemicals rush through his brain.  Sig’s lips found his, kissed him softly over and over.  John felt something like arousal in the pit of his stomach, a pleasurable ache.

The kisses grew lazier and eventually Sig laid his head back and just watched John, tracing his fingers over John’s face, the lines by his eyes, the rough stubble on his jaw.  They ended up drifting off without even the sheet to cover them.

***

When John woke in the morning, it was to see Sig’s back as he sat up on the bed lacing his boots.  He must have been up for a few minutes at least because his cargo pants were fastened and he was wearing John’s t-shirt from the day before.

“You don’t mind, do you?  Can’t wear mine,” he said when he noticed John was awake.

“Keep it.  Better yet, take it back off and stay a while longer.”

“Got a plane to catch, John.  But it’s been memorable.”

Sig leaned down and kissed John quite thoroughly.  John kissed back enthusiastically, almost sure Sig could be convinced, but Sig pulled away with a tender smile.

“Will I see you again?”

Sig’s fingertips traced John’s lips.

“Do you believe in me, John?”

“God, yes.”

“Then I’ll find you.”

***

The next time a delivery was due, John waited for it impatiently.  His coworkers noticed, and in their close living quarters, they had noticed what had happened the last time the truck made a delivery.  There was almost no way that Stian Sigerson would be the driver this time.  He’d promised he wouldn’t be, even.  But John couldn’t help feeling sick with desire that Sig would be here, that Sherlock would be here.

He wasn’t, of course.  Their normal driver greeted them with a familiar bellow and John’s heart sunk just a little.  But then the driver began talking.

“Turns out one of the secretaries at the office was selling off some of the medicines.  Never would have suspected her, but this Sig fellow comes around a few weeks ago and after a few minutes of looking around the warehouse, spits out a whole slew of details and has the woman confessing in minutes.  Anyway, the director offers him a reward, a favor, anything, y’know, to thank him.  All he wanted was to make the next delivery.  Who asks for dangerous work as payment for a job?”

John’s knees go weak for a second, but he manages to make it to the wooden clinic steps before he collapses.

Sherlock.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized