So on April 1, I posted about The Lazarus Machine being translated into Russian. (Actually, not a joke!) Ten chapters have been posted so far and I’m rather enjoying the totally incomprehensible translations by Google Chrome on the comments. There was one particularly lovely one that had the awkward elegance of a haiku. It read: Bogged down in silent delight. Each new chapter — a small masterpiece. 🙂 I kind of want to stitch that on a sampler.
Another thing which is interesting with Google Translate is that not all words manage to get translated. For whatever reason, some words go from Cyrillic letters to Latin lettering, but they don’t actually translate. I like to look them up to get the gist of the meaning. One of these words, my absolute favorite, is “umnichka,” particularly in its reference to John (in the original comment). It is apparently an endearing word relating to “clever.” So “umnichka John” makes me melt a little. 🙂
Another reader has requested permission to translate it into Chinese, though that has not started yet as far as I know.
I’ve also been considering uploading this particular story to Wattpad. I had originally decided not to, being that this is fan fiction, but after seeing how much fan fiction was already on there, I felt considerably more comfortable. Though it needs to stop recommending One Direction fan fiction to me. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know who they were except I like iCarly!
In conjunction with infiltrating Wattpad, I wanted to start finishing up some salable work. Yeah, I know I’ve been saying that a long time. It’s a lot less stressful to write fan fiction, I think, because the audience is already there and if you’re even halfway decent, you’ll get love. Still, it’s time I really buckle down. At any rate, on Wattpad I can post chapters as I’m finished editing, much like I do with Sherlock, and perhaps even a limited amount of feedback, I’ll be motivated to finish.
To that end, I started making a cover for Sherlock (and was browsing deviantart because I just like to) and have been pondering what I might do for a cover for Ethne’s story. I’ve some hardcore decision-making coming up with regards to that story, but I do have some excellent ideas to add a couple of chapters to it! So it’s in my head already!
Now to just actually FINISH something. (Though LazMac has topped 70,000 words and I’m hoping, hoping, hoping, that it doesn’t top 100K. Oh it probably will. Egads.)
This week I wrote three chapters, 59, 60, and 61 in quick succession. I had promised the third of those by tonight, Sunday night, and by midday Saturday, I was definitely regretting that promise! I had been having a really hard time with 61. I kept inserting so much angst because the phrasing was cool, but everyone was miserable and unhappy and the beginning of the chapter was so sunny. I just loathed it. I could not get the conversation to go right. I rewrote it several times, tried out different concepts, even considered switching from John’s POV to Sherlock’s and seeing if it helped. Nothing did.
I couldn’t even see the problem at first. Why wasn’t it working? Why did none of the conversation flow through the scene. What was I saying? What did I want to say? And while I was at work this afternoon, trying on one of my breaks to (suffer through country music and) write the scene yet again, I realized what I would have to do was throw out three-quarters of what I’d written for it. It was all wrong. It galled me to do it, but it was so much better in the end. It didn’t have that dismal tone, the characters didn’t make me want to cry, and best yet, they weren’t making each other cry!
Points all around! So when I came home from work, I started several paragraphs earlier from where I’d been trying to work on the scene, cut everything, and wrote the scene. I did still use a few bits and pieces from the original, from the eight different tries scattered on spare sheets of page-a-day calendars and notebooks and printouts, but it had an altogether more happy result. And it still accomplished my initial objective!
So relieved. Now I can watch tv for an hour without feeling (too) guilty. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter I will be writing. Yay.
Now, since I typically have been posting about every three chapters, here are 59, 60, and 61. There are bits that are gross, and bits that are smutty 🙂 Enjoy!
“John, we should perform a full autopsy on at least one body. I’d like your assistance,” Sherlock said from where he’d commandeered Anderson’s desk in the corner.
“He’s not here, freak.” Anderson’s snide voice grated on Sherlock’s nerves. He was lucky the morgue attendant had kept quiet most of the day, sulking he’d been deemed extraneous when his own morgue was overflowing with bodies. “He and Lestrade went to get dinner like normal people.”
Sherlock ignored Anderson, and soon after the man huffed and left, balling up his work smock and tossing it ineffectively at Sherlock. John had mentioned food. How long ago was it now? Shouldn’t he and Lestrade be back? There was a case on, after all!
And the case, the case, how messy it was. Such a glut of murder. Nothing but the most superficial similarities between the victims – strong, healthy people who would be missed, taken right out of their daily lives. Sherlock wanted to talk to more of the families, pinpoint the places where they were last seen alive, find the connection between them all that made the murderer target them, collect them for his little spree. Had they all visited the same sweet shop, crossed the same street, worn a particular color of clothing? Or had it just all been happenstance? Everything seemed so random: the victims, the abduction locations, the dump sites. There had to be one miniscule piece that was missing. Sherlock wouldn’t know it until he saw it, so he couldn’t exactly look for it.
Five hands, four feet, three heads, and then eight bodies! Sherlock had initially postulated a countdown with the first three deposits, but this last day had breached the pattern. The initial delivery of hands had been followed at length by the feet, but the heads and torsos were discovered in a considerably shorter window. Had the killer gotten bored with waiting for Sherlock to catch up? Or had something else happened to make the killer change his methodology?
Sherlock was used to catching up to criminals fairly quickly. This one, though, seemed to leap ahead each time Sherlock nearly had his thoughts organized. He was falling further behind each day. That was infuriating. However, ire and exasperation would only serve to distract him.
Distractions… He had so many these days.
Sherlock took a sip from the cup of hot tea in his hand. Then he blinked. When had he been holding tea? A burst of laughter in the previously quiet room caught his attention. John and Lestrade were back. John. He must have slipped the cup directly into Sherlock’s hand while all his attention was devoted to his thoughts. Sherlock took another sip, pushing aside the wrapped pasty also left nearby. Distraction.
John hovered over Lestrade, who had perched on a stool, rifling through a stack of papers six inches high. The files. He must have either fetched them from Bow Street, or, more likely, sent one of the other runners for them. Either way, he and John had their heads bent over the stack, obviously looking for the names Sherlock had mentioned earlier. John was standing too close to Lestrade, Sherlock thought, even as he berated himself for the bubble of emotion. He tamped it down to an innocuous annoyance.
“John, I need your assistance with an autopsy,” Sherlock declared.
“Oh, of course.” John clapped Lestrade on the shoulder before walking to a wall hung with hooks and borrowing a clean smock to cover his clothing. “Anyone in particular you want to start with?”
It wasn’t likely to matter, so Sherlock chose a body at random and they started the meticulous dissection and documentation. He drew one of his thin leather gloves over his scratched hand, not wanting to irritate the wound with chemicals or filth from the body. Due for another trip to the glovers quite soon. Must tell John to remind me.
He and John worked well together, Sherlock noted an hour later. John made quick, deliberate, professional cuts into the body in front of him, as he would, and sometimes made observations on the quality of the organs or preservation from the point of view of someone who had seen this many times. Sherlock had spent time in anatomical studies, but he had nowhere near the medical and surgical experience John had.
The body had been cut open once before and stitched back together, as if the killer wanted to glory in his own handiwork. None of the internal organs had been damaged in any way, though the muscles of the abdominal wall had been removed to reveal what lay below and replaced. The initial cuts through the skin had allowed the body to be lain open completely and the interior observed as in a scholarly dissection.
Both he and John marveled at the expertise with which this had all been done. It really was quite amazing how the heart looked like it could beat at any moment, had there been any blood to circulate. The lungs were pink and fresh and ready to draw air. There was no scent of putrefaction at all and each organ was properly firm. Even the dismemberment was skilled; time had been taken, amazing dexterity had been implemented.
Sherlock drew samples from within the body, bits of tissue and several volumes of liquid. He would test these later, hopefully narrowing down the chemicals involved. He felt he could rule out the common arsenic salts just by the quality of the preservation, but further tests were certainly required.
He’d been lost inside his own head again, watching John’s steady hands closing up the body. The hour was late, by the insignificant glow of the lamps, yet John had no complaint about his leg, which must be aching. If anything, he seemed unsuitably cheerful. They’d gone over the body with detailed precision, but found nothing that was any help at all. Despite Sherlock’s interest in it scientifically, this was not a case to be solved in the morgue.
“Sherlock? Did you want to examine another body?”
“No. We can extrapolate the condition of the rest from the results. It hasn’t provided any clues beyond the initial visual examination. Not worth the time.”
“Very well. So what’s next?” John clipped off the end of the heavy thread and started tidying the area.
“He left nearly an hour ago; did you not notice?” John’s face held humor, but none of the biting snideness of Anderson’s similar comment. “It is long past supper. Speaking of which, you haven’t eaten all day.”
“Food slows me down,” Sherlock replied mechanically, moving to gather his samples together into a leather case.
“Food fuels the body and brain, Sherlock. We’ll go home and see if Mrs. Hudson has anything to tempt you. Really, that woman is a saint, putting up with you not appreciating her fine cooking.”
“I do appreciate it. Just not when I’ve got a mystery to solve.”
“Well, this mystery is too complex for you to deny yourself food for the duration. You will come home and eat. I will not require anything else from you for the rest of the night, not sociability, nor silence, nor sleep.”
Sherlock agreed to John’s terms before the doctor finished putting away their tools and cleaning up, taking great care that they scrubbed their hands, not knowing yet what sort of chemicals were involved in embalming the bodies. Sherlock disposed of his ruined glove.
John helped Sherlock into his greatcoat and then put on his own. Sherlock flagged down a hack with his usual aplomb. He directed the driver to take them to Baker Street and sat back against the bench observing John in the fluttering glow of passing gaslights.
John’s sitting slightly angled on the bench so he can stretch his bad leg out without interfering with my leg room. His eyes are closed; he’s weary. It has been a long day and John was up late last night taking care of me. He didn’t complain, though, not once about being tired or pained, though he must be aching. He should go to bed when we get home.
I want to go to bed with him.
Alarmed by his own thoughts, Sherlock gasped. John stirred.
“Something the matter, Sherlock?” His voice was sleepy, relaxed, slightly concerned.
“No, no,” Sherlock covered hastily. “I only just realized that we ought to visit Irene.”
“Lady Adler? What on earth for?” John’s voice changed, became more tight and clipped.
“She is known for her intellectual salons. Many men of learning cross her threshold. She may have heard something that will be of use, some bit of information she doesn’t realize she holds.”
“Oh, I suspect the lady knows exactly which bits of information are useful to others. She’ll want you to play her game for them.”
“Hmm, perhaps. If we surprise her, though, she may inadvertently reveal something.”
“I should like to know what you think will surprise the lady. Though I suppose turning up in the late evening, when she is no doubt entertaining, and scented with eau de morgue might suitably qualify.”
“We are not going now, John. Simply arriving may do so, particularly given our interactions the last few days. I shall think upon it.”
The hack pulled up in front of their Baker Street home. Sherlock bounced out onto the cobbles. John didn’t follow immediately.
“Sherlock,” his voice said hesitantly from inside the dark recess of the cab.
“Yes, John? Oh, your leg. Here, let me assist you.” Sherlock half-climbed back inside and let John put a hand on his shoulder for leverage and balance. It was awkward, but soon John was sighing at the foot of their steps.
“Will you make it up the stairs on your own?”
John paced back and forth a few minutes. Matthews stood at the open door patiently before John felt fit enough to attempt the steps up to their door. Sherlock couldn’t help but linger a little too closely.
“You’re threaten me with your cane like some ornery old codger, John.”
“Stop hovering, then!”
“Swear you won’t tumble down the stairs arse over teakettle and I will.”
John started to laugh, but the burst of merriment gave him the energy to make it all the way to their private rooms on the first floor. Sherlock couldn’t help but chuckle along with him, so diverting was the sound of John’s laugh.
“Matthews, see if Mrs. Hudson can send up a small supper before Sherlock takes over the table again with his experiments.”
“I have not had time to properly set up my laboratory space, John, and the light is better upstairs anyway,” Sherlock defended.
“Heaven help the state of our sitting room,” John said, chuckling again to show he wasn’t truly piqued.
As it turned out, Mrs. Hudson had a lovely stew ready to serve almost immediately, so Sherlock set aside his case of samples forlornly and tucked into the small dinner table in the corner of their sitting room.
After a few hearty mouthfuls, John tore into the loaf of crusty bread between them.
“So you really believe Lady Adler will have some clue for us?”
“I could skulk around the scientific academies for days and learn less than I would spending an hour at Lady Adler’s.”
“No doubt,” John muttered, sopping up some of his gravy with a hunk of bread.
“Should she be forthright,” Sherlock continued, as if he hadn’t heard.
“I don’t like the idea of you going there.”
“I told you, John, she is all taunt and tease, like a cat with a mouse.”
“A cat will eventually bite the head off its prey, Sherlock.”
But John eventually acquiesced, so long as Sherlock promised to not attend Lady Adler without him present. John stayed at the table long enough to be certain Sherlock kept his promise to eat then excused himself to bed. When he moved past Sherlock, John rested his hand on Sherlock’s shoulder and squeezed gently.
Sherlock was too distracted by the pleasant sensation that thrilled up his neck at the touch to respond. If John thought that Sherlock was completely diverted by setting up his samples and beakers and test tubes, then that was acceptable.
Once John was gone, Sherlock let his hands fall into his lap and stared blindly at his equipment for more than a moment. His mind spun with thoughts that had nothing to do with the paraphernalia in front of him, nothing to do with the mystery. Instead they were muddled and all about John. He remembered the small kiss placed on the corner of John’s mouth at their wedding ceremony, the gentle kisses he gave Sherlock that evening in the garden. Gave, without demanding anything. Sherlock wanted those sweet kisses again. And he wanted to respond properly to them this time.
Damnation! John was nothing but a complication, a vexation, an instrument of devilish temptation. Sherlock had sworn to hold himself to much higher standards than the common man and until John, it had almost been easy. John, all charm and kindness, John who eagerly enjoyed Sherlock’s company, John… John, who just now, without even being present, seduced Sherlock from irritation and anger to soft sentimentality.
Sherlock sighed, defeated, and moved to set up his first experiment, one whose chemical reactions would take most of the night to develop. He very deliberately schooled his thoughts on his upcoming tasks, reciting each step loudly in his head to overpower any other thoughts.
It was hours later when Sherlock was startled away from the observations of the precipitate in one of the six test tubes in the rack in front of him. He lifted his head to monitor the silence of the house. Matthews and Mrs. Hudson had long since gone to bed and Sherlock had yet to see the meek little maid since his marriage, though he’d met her when he’d first moved in long enough to instruct her to never, ever, not once, not even to look, step foot in his lab.
The sound transpired again. This time, Sherlock heard it quite distinctly.
“Please, God.” It was a desperate entreaty, half-sobbed. Sherlock rose without thinking anything other than, John.
The resounding crash of a considerably amount of glass shattering made him hurry.
“Get down! Get down! Murray, I need some help over here!”
Sherlock swung open the door. The lit lamp still flickered by the door, thankfully, and had not set the room ablaze. The victim had been an unlit lamp by the bed, though John was hovering precariously close to the pool of oil and glass.
“A tourniquet!” John barked from his position on the floor before he crashed to his side on the floor with a roar.
Alarmed, Sherlock flew to John’s side, desperate that he not fling himself into the glass and injure himself.
“John, John, wake up. John Watson, it’s Sherlock. It’s Sherlock. We’re home in Baker Street, in London. John!”
John’s eyes were open but unseeing. His lips moved. Please, God, let me live, he said, making no sound. Please, God, let me live.
“John, John,” Sherlock begged, bringing John’s stiff body into his arms as close as possible. “You’re alive. You’re home. You’re in London.” Sherlock repeated everything he could think of to bring John out of his nightmare. “You came home to England. Your leg healed. You got married four days ago. I’m your husband, Sherlock Holmes. You’re fine, you’re fine, I’ve got you.”
Sherlock could feel John’s heart pounding much too hard and much too quickly. His breath came in wheezing gasps that sounded too much like Sherlock’s when he’d been strangled.
“John, you’re safe. You healed. You’re fine.” Sherlock held his husband tightly and John wasn’t fighting his grasp.
“I’m not fine,” John finally uttered. The words were weak, but they were conscious words.
“You’ll be fine,” Sherlock amended. “You’ll be fine. Let’s get you back to bed.”
“Can’t,” John replied, shaking his head. Sherlock detected the strain in John’s voice. He ran his eyes over John’s body, quickly marking the twitching and tightened muscles in his scarred leg.
“I can help.” Sherlock laid John’s upper body back on the floor, then knelt beside him, careful of the glass nearby. He quickly determined the muscles contributing to the worst of the pain and laid his hands on the bottom of John’s foot and the lower part of his shin. Pressing on the calloused ball of his foot stretched out the shortened calf muscle, the gastrocnemius muscle; bearing down on his shin kept his knee straight. He knew that John also often felt pain in the peroneus longus and brevis, the former of which had sustained some damage.
John gave a bit of a grunt, but soon let out a breath in relief. Sherlock continued his massage, rubbing the afflicted muscles until he felt them relax.
“It’s always worst when they come together,” John said, moving his arm over his eyes. “The pain heightens the dreams, makes them so vivid.”
“Do you want to talk about your nightmares?”
John didn’t respond.
“You were dreaming about getting injured, yes?”
“Yes. It’s not always that, and I don’t always lash out as much.” John moved his arm from his eyes and pushed himself up into a sitting position. Sherlock lowered his foot to the floor and pressed his fingers into John’s leg just above his knee. “Oh, I’ve broken the lamp.”
“Don’t worry about it. It can be replaced.”
“I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
“No, of course not,” Sherlock replied with some curiosity.
John let himself slump down between his propped up arms. “I gave Harry a black eye once, when I first got back. I don’t remember it happening; I was in the grips of a fever and didn’t surface until it had healed, but he made sure to tell me.”
“He deserved it.”
Sherlock said this so mildly and matter-of-factly that John had to laugh, shaky though it was.
“Can you get back into bed now? It’s awfully cold on the floor and you’re only in your nightshirt and drawers.”
“Yes, I think so.” It was easy with Sherlock’s help. He ducked under John’s arm and lifted him back onto the mattress. The sheets and counterpane were entirely askew, so Sherlock stripped them free and remade the bed with John in it. Then he stirred up the fire while John stared resolutely up at the ceiling.
“I could get my violin and play for you, or read aloud. I know you like to read when you’ve woken in the middle of the night.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’m sorry to have interrupted your…” John flickered his eyes over Sherlock, still fully dressed with the clock near to striking two, “experiments.” It was clear he hadn’t been sleeping. Clever John, my deductive protégé. Sherlock almost beamed at him.
“It’s fine. There is an occasional lull in waiting for a reaction. Nothing will set on fire if I don’t return to it until morning.”
“I wish to try another experiment, John.” Sherlock bit on his lower lip, not quite looking at John lying so comfortably in bed looking back at him.
“What sort of experiment?” John twisted his arm up behind his pillow, propping up his head just a little.
“Whether company in your bed helps you sleep better, or worse.”
Sherlock had kept an informal mental log of John’s sleeping habits along with the findings from his examination of his leg. His sharp gaze could certainly ascertain the weariness in John’s eyes of a morning, the volumes John went through, and the amount of lamp oil spent to keep John aware of his surroundings in the dark of night.
“So you want to lay in bed and, what, watch me sleep? I don’t think that will help.”
“Don’t be silly, John. I will sleep as well. Sympathetic somnolent sounds may be peaceful for you.”
“My tossing will keep you awake.”
“I don’t need much sleep, John. It will be fine,” Sherlock replied quickly. “If the experiment doesn’t help, we will cease and I’ll think of something else. Besides, it may be handier if something like this happens again. I will be alerted to your pain and your dreaming state and be in a position to help you much more quickly.”
John picked at the counterpane and his facial expressions betrayed his uncertainty. Apparently, though, he could not think of a good enough reason to continue the debate, so he gave his assent.
“I’ll change into suitable nightwear and be back directly, then.” Sherlock was glad the low yellow glow of the lamp masked his blush. His stomach was flipping and he wasn’t certain how he would endure the hours until dawn lying stiffly in John’s bed.
John woke slowly, surrounded by warmth and comfort. He felt content to drift and doze with no pressing need to rise for the day. He hadn’t woken so pleasantly in… goodness, it must have been years. Before his injury when he woke with pain and nightmares, before the war when he woke to cannonballs and gunfire and the screams of young men. It made him feel old briefly, to think of not having a pleasant rest since the years of his minority. And even then, this luscious, languorous feeling was rare and fleeting.
Then the source of heat against John’s back shifted, awakening him to the fact that he was not alone in his cozy bed. His heart gave a few thunderous thumps, but the rest of him remained intensely still, assessing the situation. Sherlock. Sherlock had climbed into John’s bed last night when John had woken in a panic, broken the unlit lamp near his bed, and had been found crouched on the floor unable to move. The nightmares were worse than battle. Fear of pain, he could understand, and fear of death. The nightmares were fear in its purest form, undiluted and insurmountable, and John found them utterly debilitating.
So that led to Sherlock, quite logically, helping John into bed and back to sleep. He said the sleep sounds of a bed partner might ease John’s unconscious mind. And it truly helped. John had drifted off to the sound of Sherlock’s regular breathing as he lay on his back in the bed, not sleeping but thinking, always thinking. Though at what point Sherlock had curled up so tightly behind him, John couldn’t say.
John tried to relax, pretend he was still slumbering. This was the most contact Sherlock had ever initiated, even if he was asleep and unaware. It felt nice. John wanted to imagine it meant more than just warmth on a cold night for a little while longer. Sherlock’s warm breath on the back of his neck was pleasurable; his long fingers were splayed over John’s belly carelessly. Sherlock’s lanky form was bent up against his, knees tucked behind John’s, groin firmly pressed against his buttocks.
And speaking of firm, Sherlock’s body was displaying a certain tumescence, though whether from dreaming or proximity to another body in bed, John couldn’t be sure. Sherlock shifted and pressed a little closer; the resultant friction prompted a breathy sigh against John’s nape. Sherlock’s lips were so close to John’s skin he could feel their heat. John felt his own arousal stirring, especially when Sherlock’s fingers tightened around his waist, pulling him closer.
John felt the pleasure like a vigorous fluttering inside; when Sherlock’s lips pressed solidly against the curve of his trapezius muscle, the fluttering coalesced into a full-body shudder. The cords of John’s neck vibrated under Sherlock’s lips much like the violin strings did under his bow and fingertips.
John’s reaction escalated when Sherlock’s fingertips slipped below John’s navel in a blatant caress. His nightshirt had rucked up in the night; it would have left him bare from the waist down had he not decided to start wearing drawers to bed. Sherlock’s fingers danced below the muslin of his drawers, teasing the bared skin of John’s belly. John laced his fingers with Sherlock’s, halting the downward movement of his hand. It wouldn’t take much more of this for John to achieve a full cockstand.
Twisting in Sherlock’s arms didn’t stop the sensual assault, but heightened it. John’s breath caught in his throat as Sherlock’s lips brushed along his jaw, over his morning-rough cheek, and finally over John’s mouth. Trembling, John returned the kiss. God, those perfectly etched lips, so soft, he thought, tracing his tongue just along the moist edge. When Sherlock’s lips engulfed his more passionately, John responded with a husky, “Sherlock,” moaned into that voluptuous mouth.
The repercussion of John’s voiced desire, however, was that Sherlock suddenly became very aware of his surroundings and he pulled back, eyes wide in alarm.
“John, I… didn’t intend for the arrangement of bed sharing to culminate in my unconscious molestation of your person.”
“Sherlock…” But Sherlock did not allow John to voice his desire.
“No, no, the indiscretion was unforgiveable,” Sherlock blathered as he slid to the far side of the bed. “I believe the experiment was a success up until that point. You did not wake from further violent dreams.” Sherlock’s face was red to his ears and down his long neck, but he kept talking, not hearing John’s pleaded repetition, “Sherlock, please, it’s fine…”
“Apparently my control grew lax as I abandoned my deductions and thought to succumb to a few hours of sleep. I had only intended to assist in your untroubled slumber.”
“Sherlock, I didn’t want you to stop!” John shouted in his captain voice as Sherlock slid off the edge of the bed and reached for his banyan.
Sherlock’s utterances stumbled to a stop. He blinked.
“Please, Sherlock, don’t run away,” John said in a much more tender tone. “I want to talk about this. Please?” John shifted so he sat against the headboard with his pillow cushioning his back.
Sherlock wrapped the damask of his banyan around his body, but perched cross-legged on the foot of the bed facing John, the full diagonal space yawning between them. John mused that neither of them were particularly comfortable, in multitudes of ways. Still, he smiled.
“First I wanted to tell you that I very much enjoyed what we were doing and I would like it if we did more of that. I feel I must be blunt. I am attracted to you. I want to share a bed with you. I want to share pleasure with you. I am aware you are not interested me the same way.”
“I should think this morning’s rather stimulating circumstance would have corrected that idiotic notion of yours, John.”
“So… you are attracted to me?” John wanted to believe this. Still, there was one thing that plagued John’s mind, something he had to hear refuted directly. “But just after Victor drugged you, you said that you didn’t want me.” John hated that his voice sounded the least bit tremulous. He steeled himself for Sherlock’s response.
“I said no such thing.” Well, John hadn’t been expecting that.
“I remember quite clearly. You, on the other hand, were under the influence of a mind-altering substance.”
“I still remember what I said. I told you that I did not want you like that, with the drug, with the situation under Victor’s control. That is why I was going to go with him, to keep you safe. When you came out after us, I had to muster every bit of control I had left to deflect his pin-ring. I couldn’t bear to see you sullied with such an obscene chemical.”
While John stared at Sherlock with no response and a warm, bubbling fuzziness in his belly, Sherlock continued speaking.
“I do find myself frustratingly attracted to you.” Sherlock admitted this in the same way a child might mutter an ashamed apology.
“Then we both want more, yes? But if you are not ready for more, are not comfortable with that, all you have to do is tell me.”
Sherlock picked at little nothings on the counterpane. “We both know I am no innocent, John.”
“That doesn’t matter, Sherlock. You are not accustomed to me, and I am not accustomed to you. We are new at being together. There’s always a bit of awkwardness at first, but I think we could get along quite well together.”
Sherlock didn’t answer.
“Sherlock, I cannot force you to love me. That has to happen naturally or not at all. But I will ask you to be honest with me.”
“I’m always honest, John, unless it serves my purposes to be dishonest.” Sherlock’s biting candor was back, if slightly subdued.
“Then can I ask why you pull away? Do you wish to not be intimate with me? Or at all?”
Sherlock sighed and drew his legs up and looped his arms around his knees. His bare feet and long calves poked out from beneath the fabric and he twitched a bit of blanket over them.
“Is it some form of religious or philosophical asceticism, like Victor said?” John asked delicately. Various men of philosophy and science were known for taking such a vow, believing that the act of releasing one’s seed would somehow diminish the functions of the brain. This sounded far too much like Sherlock.
“John, I should think you would know me well enough by now to realize I would hardly make random vows to try and appease a fickle deity.” Sherlock dismissed Victor’s denouncement with an appropriate amount of scorn. “But when I left Victor, I declared myself celibate for my own reasons. I had not considered Mycroft’s choice of spouse would be such a source of temptation.”
For all that this wasn’t precisely what John wanted to hear, he was a bit relieved. He tempted Sherlock. He could work with that.
“The whole business of matrimony and sentiment is perplexing, I admit that. And sexual pleasure is most certainly a distraction from the crisp and proper workings of my mind. It is an indecorous activity made pleasurable to ensure the propagation of the species. I do not personally feel the urge to procreate, so I felt confident in my ability to sever myself completely from the business.
“I intended to live my life with focus and purpose, forsaking all unnecessary distractions. I had previously allowed pleasures of the flesh to diminish me to a mindless wretch and I despised myself for it. I had so much wasted time for which to compensate.
“And then in the midst of my intellectual restitution, I find myself in the company of a man for whom I have the most unrelenting desire. You’re always infiltrating my thoughts. I want to say that I ought to have solved this mystery long ago were you not constantly distracting me, only you’ve proven so helpful that I wouldn’t have recognized several important factors that you yourself have pointed out.”
“So you do like me, then.” John tried to stifle his grin, but there was little use.
“You are a companionable man, John, and a more than adequate physician. Surely you do not need me to tell you this,” Sherlock replied with a weak touch of condescension.
“Actually, I do. I’ve been trying to understand what I’ve been lacking, why my husband, whom I greatly admire, turns from me when I ache to kiss him so much. And then when he does kiss me, it is the most wonderful feeling until he soundly rejects me again. It was shaving bloody filings off my heart, Sherlock.”
“All the more reason not to have one.”
“Sherlock Holmes, you are not heartless.” John gave Sherlock a fond look but Sherlock ducked his head away from it. He scrambled off the bed.
“Lestrade informed me that I need to apologize more. I am sorry, John, for rejecting you without telling you why.”
“Come back to bed, then.” John smiled at his husband and reclined a little more, patting the empty mattress beside him.
“Don’t be a lay-about, John, it’s half-eight. We need to hurry if we are to catch Irene still abed. I’ll dress and return to help you through your stretches. Ring Matthews for breakfast, will you?”
“Why on earth would we need to catch her abed, Sherlock?” The maddening mind of a genius certainly had a thorough method of crushing ardor. John knew Sherlock wanted to talk to Irene about the case, but why, precisely, would that pop into his head now of all times?
“She won’t be expecting it.”
“She’s met you, Sherlock. I think that even entering her chambers before ten in the morning will not be a surprise,” John said dryly. Perhaps someday, when they were old men, Sherlock would cease to surprise him.
“Perhaps I shall bring a squadron of street children to breakfast?”
John was startled into laughter. “A trifle extreme, but it would be rousing.”