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This one is penfold_x's fault. Why? To quote a certain archeologist: "Because". There. Posted, guys. Happy? LOL.

Title: The Writing On The Wall
Author: mrwubbles aka Yuma
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Rating: G
Words: 1959 words
Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort
Warnings/Triggers: I'm not Brit, can't even play one on TV (telly?) but I thoroughly enjoy Hob Nobs. Does that help? :)
Spoilers: Teeny tiny references to S1X01 "A Study In Pink"
Summary: It was obvious, should anyone care to look at John Watson.




Another locked room. Bloody walls. No body. 132 Cooper Lane.
Lestrade

It felt like Christmas when Lestrade texted. Padlocked from the inside, windows too small to climb through, the room was empty just like the others. False floors? Negative. Furniture? None. All Lestrade had once again was a stuttering call to 999 and an address. Brilliant.

Nevertheless, the crime scene again did not seem to impress John. He took one look into the room and opted to wait outside for this one as well, his hands tucked under his arms, his expression lost amidst the icy vapors of his exhales. He stood behind SOCO's van, his face blank as he stared at the building Sherlock exited from.

The effort to stay upright despite having stayed up two nights previously on the Bolivian case impressed John even less. John waited for him, mouth pursed, feet apart as he watched Sherlock leave the crime scene. Sherlock tripped on the curb, just once and suddenly he found himself stuffed into a cab. All because of some rain ("Sleet.") and because it was a bit chilled ("It's frigid, Sherlock, Christ, my jumper is frozen!").

The building on 221B Baker looked dull and monotonous by the time they arrived (cabbie was cheating on his wife but regretted it now after his lover ran off with the man's money). If Sherlock stomped up the steps a bit louder than usual, it was only to stamp the chill out of his feet. He was not pouting. ("Yes you are.")

Usually, Sherlock could wear John down with words, logic and reasoning but John would have none of it tonight. John told him it wasn't healthy to ignore the natural warning signs the human body gave out. The body had an irritating and highly unconstructive need for food, water and sleep. His body, no matter how he tried, would react just like everybody else's, making its biological needs known in the most inappropriate times, particularly during a case. But who could listen when there are so many interesting things like a locked room splattered with blood and no body to think on?

Nevertheless, for the foreseeable future or at least until John was satisfied with how many crumpets he'd consumed, they were to solve the case indoors and in better surroundings.

In order to make his imprisonment bearable, Sherlock spread the files and photos all over the floor and sofa, taped the blood splatter photos over the mirror in an acceptable facsimile of the crime scene. John sighed, giving the walls a passing glance, his brows knitting together briefly before he set a plate of the threatened crumpets and tea by his elbow on the coffee table. On top of the photo of the second room, no less! Sherlock gave the meal a sniff. He relented and sipped the cooling Assam after a glare from John.

The doctor had strange priorities.

John begrudgingly sat down cross-legged on the floor and began reviewing Lestrade's notes. He grunted, muttering to himself as he read, but Sherlock found after months of flat sharing with him, it had merely become white noise, hardly the nuisance he thought it would be. Sherlock often wondered about why it didn't bother him, it should have, but had yet to find time to decipher it. So, as he usually would with any question that temporarily eluded him, Sherlock moved his attention towards answering the questions he could.

The photos revealed the floor was cedar, no, plywood with cedar (white cracks through the grain), the walls papered with a cheap pattern easily found in any shop that offered inexpensive goods that suffered from poor quality and taste. The bed: unremarkable. The windows: shut. There was a shiny meat hook hammered onto the ceiling, an apple crate on the floor. A chair? Too high for sitting. Too low for standing. The blood striped the walls in a spray that indicated—

"He was standing up," Sherlock declared.

"Hm?" John didn't look up from the notes he'd gathered on his lap.

Sherlock waved towards the pictures circled around him. "The direction of the pattern. The victim was standing up, possibly flogged, perhaps tortured?"

"Tortured," John repeated flatly.

Sherlock paid no mind of the lack of inflection in the words. "Possibly. He was struck repeatedly. With a switch or something wider, although it's too jagged to be a belt, too broad to be a wire." Sherlock narrowed his gaze on the useless images. It would be unlikely Molly would have a fresh body for him at this hour to test the various items. "Circular in diameter. Thick, coarse—"

"Rope," John said not bothering to look at the photos. He was reading the notes with an intensity that drew Sherlock's eye.

"A rope?" Sherlock let the words form into images in his head. Sherlock nodded. "Yes, that is it." His eyes wandered back to the papers in John's custody. John's left thumb dug into the lower half of the top page. It curled in, wrinkling and folding.

Are you all right, was what Sherlock wanted to ask, but he knew it was a question John wasn't fond of hearing. The incompetent therapist John still saw must ask him in some form, weekly based off of John's visits. And the one time Sherlock had asked (only because John had seemed to like to ask Sherlock this often enough), John had snapped he was fine before he'd abruptly left to do the shopping he'd repeatedly asked Sherlock to do all that morning.

John had returned without the milk.

"So what of it then?" John asked in a careful tone. Sherlock found himself hating it very much. It was too thought out, too deliberate. It negated everything he'd grown accustomed to expect from John: contradictory and deceptively understated. John Watson was a man who spoke from his feelings—sentimental and flawed as it were. This even tone was very calm; too calm. In fact, it sounded—

"Staged," Sherlock replied evenly. He observed John tensing, his shoulders bracing, his left hand—interesting—twitching under the pile of papers he'd settled over his lap.

"Hm," John's voice did not reveal whether he agreed or disagreed. "So the bastard wanted to show us something? Why not leave the bodies then?"

Sherlock clasped his hands together. He lightly tapped his chin with his steepled fingers.

"Sometimes," Sherlock said slowly, "it is more affecting when we don't see it in front of us." Things slowly tumbled into place, puzzles locking into order: the rooms, John preferring to stand outside, the succinct answers, the smudges under his eyes—Ah.

Sherlock cocked his head to the side, assessing. "The mind can paint a far more startling picture, filling in the gaps. Memory would provide what reality—"

When John abruptly stood up, Sherlock blinked.

"I'm going to bed," John announced.

Sherlock pursed his lips. He stared, unabashed, at John's chalky face. "The case—"

"Is your case," John interrupted, "Not mine." He waved a sharp hand behind him. "This…"

"It reminds you of something." Sherlock found little value in being polite.

John's mouth stretched back into a grimace. "I've never seen this before. I'm going to bed."

"Afghan—"

"Is none of your business," John snapped. His face twisted, shoulders set, he very deliberately swung his gaze over the room and said heavily. "Although you've probably deduced what it is already."

That's what freaks do, Sherlock almost said. However, flinging the words at John, who never said or agreed with them, felt unfair to John.

Even though Sherlock left it unsaid, John pressed his lips together as if to hold back his ire but a sigh eventually escaped anyway.

"That was…" John looked down then up at Sherlock. His shoulders slumped and he shook his head. "It's fine. Sometimes little things…" He shrugged.

Sherlock waited. John shifted from foot to foot, leaning more on his left, compensating for a limp that was never really there.

"The smell," John said abruptly. "Those rooms…there's always a certain smell to them."

Sherlock arched an eyebrow. "Blood?"

"Fear." John wiped his hands on his jumper.

Sherlock nodded. He resisted correcting John. You couldn't smell fear; pheromones and sweat perhaps, but not the base emotion. He leaned into the armchair.

"You've seen this before."

John's shoulders lifted then dropped. "Not many, but enough." John stiffened his spine. "Never mind. Look, I'm going to bed. You…eat your food, solve the case without me. I'm tired."

"But will you sleep?" Sherlock challenged.

The corner of John's eye twitched. "Of course," he returned tightly.

"Liar." Sherlock ignored the lines appearing between John's brows, the outraged flush slashing across his face as if someone had struck him. He ignored the minute movement of John's left hand. He ignored the fact that an hour before, John had said he was famished and would very much like some Thai. He kept silent about how John didn't look at the photos in the walls more than once. He ignored it all like he knew John ignored how many days Sherlock dismissed food out of hand, ignored when Sherlock told Sebastian about chatting with his secretary, ignored everything Sherlock knew others couldn't ignore.

"You won't sleep," Sherlock went on as John sputtered. He reached down behind the armchair for his Stradivarius. He plucked the E string, flicked at the G. "This case requires thinking. I plan to play the violin." He scraped his bow across in what he personally thought was the worst A sharp scale he'd ever played. "All night," Sherlock added. He punctuated that with a squawk of his instrument.

John stared at Sherlock before gradually, his shoulders relaxed and his hands dangled easily against his sides. "All night?"

"Yes." Sherlock hurried out a tune he'd heard before: all squeals and sharps that could double as a symphony of stray cats.

"I won't be able to sleep." For some reason, John looked like he was biting back a smile.

"Obvious." Sherlock suppressed a grimace as he mangled Danse Macabre.

Cupping an ear, John winced. "That's a rotten thing to do."

"Is it?" Sherlock tuned the violin, G to G sharp, A to a flat. The combinations would be unpleasant. "I did warn you. In your interview for the flatshare." He pointed at him with a sharp swish of his bow. "That I play the violin when I'm thinking and sometimes I don't talk for days."

"I'm still waiting for that last part," John interjected, his mouth curling slowly up at the corners. He folded his arms in front of him. "You call that an interview?" John shook his head. He chuckled though.

Sherlock raised an eyebrow towards him. John mirrored him. Sherlock didn't comment. He simply scraped out a few destroyed lines of Bach's Prelude before switching abruptly to Wolpe's The Man From Midian.

"All right!" John threw up his hands as he pivoted on his heels and headed, presumably to his bedroom upstairs. "Play your blasted violin, rob me of my sleep." He paused as Sherlock began a zesty concerto that would predictably tear Mrs. Hudson away from her beloved East Enders and force her upstairs to admonish him. Sherlock chose not to look at John; he knew scrutiny would not be welcomed. It never was in the many moments when John found himself involuntarily somewhere else.

Sherlock's bow seesawed as he reached a crescendo. As loud as it was, it didn't completely drown out the soft "Don't forget your tea". He didn't stop, even when he was finally alone, but he did indulge in a tiny smile.

Tucking the instrument under his chin at such an angle that he could still gaze upon the montage of photos, Sherlock settled in to play at volume for the rest of the night.



`fin`


Author's Note:
On a whim, I had scribbled this ficlet on an email and sent it off, still intoxicated with the new and shiny, wonderfulness that is Sherlock. Then I sobered up and was content to let it hibernate in my hard drive for a spell or at least until I can tweak it. Then one day, myfieldnotes volunteered to beta it (b-but, but, but...) and penfold_x tag-teamed with her and wheedled me to post this. Like a groundhog, it was dragged kicking and squealing, regardless of its shadow. Halp. LOL.


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Comments

( 14 comments — comment )
donutsweeper
Apr. 27th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
This is a wonderful glimpse of how John and Sherlock interact. I'm glad you dug it out and posted it! :)
mrwubbles
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I must admit, it was just a quickie email fic. If my friends (ole buddy, ole pal, lol) hadn't gone ahead and betaed it....Anyhoo, glad you enjoyed it!
morganstuart
Apr. 27th, 2011 11:27 am (UTC)
Oh, I love this! Beautiful insight into how they work together. Just gorgeous.

"That I play the violin when I'm thinking and sometimes I don't talk for days."

"I'm still waiting for that last part," John interjected, his mouth curling slowly up at the corners.


Lovely.
mrwubbles
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
brate7
Apr. 28th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
How dare you keep this from me! It's absolutely brilliant! I'm going to be a bore and paste some of my fave parts/lines:

He grunted, muttering to himself as he read, but Sherlock found after months of flat sharing with him, it had merely become white noise, hardly the nuisance he thought it would be. Sherlock often wondered about why it didn't bother him, it should have, but had yet to find time to decipher it.

Of course he didn't. Why mess up a good (great) thing?

That's what freaks do, Sherlock almost said. However, flinging the words at John, who never said or agreed with them, felt unfair to John.

Awww, Sherlock! See? Sociopaths can be htoughtful at times.

"I won't be able to sleep." For some reason, John looked like he was biting back a smile.

I loves these guys. So manly and stoic, yet able to show their caring in a different way.

I sure hope you have some more stories hidden on that hard drive. And are ready to share.
penfold_x
Apr. 28th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
How dare you keep this from me!

Yeah, that's what I keep saying.

So manly and stoic, yet able to show their caring in a different way.

Yes, I love that about this fic!
mrwubbles
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I keep saying.

And saying and saying and saying....ya know, it works better with icon bribes and word prompts. Just ask brate7. :)
mrwubbles
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
I sure hope you have some more stories hidden on that hard drive. And are ready to share.

Um, sorry to disappoint but ah, well, maybe one more and that's about it. The rest were prompts. :)
penfold_x
Apr. 28th, 2011 02:29 am (UTC)
This one is penfold_x's fault.

You keep saying this like there's a chance I'm going to be shamed into not hounding you anymore.

Fat chance. :P
mrwubbles
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
Fat chance.

-points icon- Donna reflects my shock. LOL.
rabidsamfan
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:44 am (UTC)
Very well done!
mrwubbles
Apr. 28th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
nuetronorange
Apr. 29th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
Loved this, Sherlock cares but isnt going to show it, I love how you write them. Thank you.
myfieldnotes
Apr. 30th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
Yay! You posted PTSD John. Love this one. Seeing them being able to communicate almost without words because of their friendships is such a nice treat. Also, Sherlock deliberately playing load because he knows John will have trouble sleeping because old memories have been stirred up is such a wonderful subtle thing. Love it. More. More. More.
( 14 comments — comment )

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