A/N: This was inspired by a request from HOS70 and I hope it lives up to expectations. The 5 chapters from Sherlock's pov are chronological, starting very early on and eventually winding up after they are married. The chapter from John's point of view will jump back in time somewhat from the last chapter of Sherlock's pov. Hence the dates. I do not own, nor do I profit from. Enjoy!
lutz-chan: I want to message you back but you have your PM'ing turned off. Let me know when you turn it on, and I'll write back!
(February 17th, 2010)
Sherlock frowned, fiddling with his microscope lens, adjusting the magnification, then wrinkled his nose in displeasure before giving a huffy sigh.
What he needed was some strong antimicrobial agent, but not something artificial like those household cleaners John employed that smelled of nothing but noxious chemicals. He'd have to have a talk with John about that, he thought, then reconsidered, because he could imagine that sort of conversation ending in John insisting he, Sherlock, do more cleaning.
He was not even sure where the cleaners were kept, so it was out of the question regardless. He had no intentions of finding out, because it was easier to claim ignorance when he was, in fact, genuinely ignorant. He was a genius. He had better things to do with his time than scrub counters or floors or toilets.
That was what other people were for.
Although, possibly, John would protest this. He had, Sherlock had established, an unusual propensity for stubbornness that occasionally put Sherlock in the mind of Mycroft, but in a good way. He hadn't considered before meeting John that Mycroft's obstinacy might be cast in a more favourable light. But only, of course, when it was not actually applied to his maddening older brother.
John seemed perplexed by this whole thing and Sherlock didn't understand why. He'd admitted to not getting on with Harry, hadn't he? It was the same principle, although Harry did not control vast resources and have blackmail material on large portions of the British government and probably large portions of other governments as well. Sherlock knew this, because he'd checked. She was quite dull, really, alcoholism aside.
He pulled the Petri dish from under the microscope's lens.
Well, nothing for it, he decided. It was crude but simple, as some of the best methods were.
He spat in it.
Human saliva had more than enough antimicrobial enzymes, organic ones, to do the trick, if he were correct in his assessments.
He was certain he was.
Sherlock set the dish down to let the microbes do their work and tilted his head from side to side, grimacing slightly when his neck cracked. What an unpleasant sound, even if it did ease some of the stiffness. He wondered what the medical reason behind this was and resolved to ask John. He would do so now, but the doctor was sleeping and seemed to have some sort of emotional investment in regular sleeping hours. Certainly he got exceptionally cranky if Sherlock woke him up at all hours for a case or an opinion or the answer to a puzzling question. But these things didn't wait on timetables, which is why Sherlock never kept to one. Life didn't wait on a timetable. Besides, who wanted to waste time sleeping?
Well, John, apparently.
He stood, grimacing again, and stretched his arms above his head, arching backwards, taking care not to fall. John had commented once that Sherlock's spine must be made of rubber, which was medically unsound and any doctor should know better. Like every other human spine, it was made of bone and nerves and blood vessels supported by muscles. John was somewhat overly fond of metaphors.
He filled himself a glass of water from the kitchen tap, drained it, then headed into the living room, glancing about. He'd left a single lamp on, more than enough to see by, and faint light from the street lamps outside filtered in through the windows, around the edges of the drapes. The sound of traffic was somewhat faded given the late – or early – hour, but ever present, as London never completely slept.
Sherlock pulled out his violin case and set in gently on the coffee table, flipping the silver latches and opening it, removing the bow. He cleaned it carefully, then set it back, moving to pick up the instrument when a sudden shout made him jerk back and snap his head up, eyes wide.
He was on his feet before he was aware of it, taking an instinctive step toward the windows in the dining room, but the shout came again, louder and more insistent this time, forming a word:
Sherlock snapped his head toward the stairs leading up to John's room – that had been John's voice.
"NO! GODDAMMIT, NO! NO!"
Sherlock found himself oddly frozen, waiting to see what would happened. He knew John had nightmares, and had interrupted some previous nights with an occasional shout, but never more than one, and this seemed different in tone somehow.
He held his breath, but nothing more was forthcoming. Sherlock exhaled slowly; John appeared to have righted himself.
There was a wordless shout – a roar, something even Sherlock could clearly identify as pure anguish. He was taking the stairs three at a time without thinking, throwing open the door without any of the niceties of knocking John so insisted upon as John yelled again, cursing, his voice catching and breaking.
"No, please, no…" John moaned then, the fight gone out of his voice, and Sherlock crossed the room quickly, assessing his best course of action. Clambering onto the bed and grabbing John would probably result in Sherlock himself being seriously injured – shot if John's gun was anywhere within arm's reach – so he flicked on the lamp next to John's bed.
"John, wake up!" he said, surprised – stunned, really – to see tears streaming down John's face. He hadn't known it was possible to cry in one's sleep but he filed that away as useless.
"No," John begged, covering his face with his hands, shaking his head. "No, no, no."
Carefully, lightly, so as not to startle him more than necessary, Sherlock put one hand on John's.
"John. Wake up. You're dreaming."
John shifted his hands, closing them hard around Sherlock's, startling the younger man into instinctively trying to pull back, but John held fast.
"John!" Sherlock snapped and John's eyes flew open suddenly, blinking against the light from the lamp, pupils dilated more than they needed to be, eyes blank, without comprehension. It took a moment before Sherlock actually recognized John in there, and the doctor started, staring at his flatmate, then realized he was gripping one of Sherlock's hands and let it go so suddenly that the lack of contact was almost painful as Sherlock's circulation returned to normal in his fingers.
"You were having a nightmare. You were yelling."
"What – " John said again, then half sat up, propping himself on his left hand, raising his right hand to his face, pulling his fingers away and staring at them in surprise. He seemed suddenly flustered – more so – and swiped irately at his cheeks, as though embarrassed to have been caught crying. That was absurd, Sherlock thought. He'd been dreaming and was clearly not a lucid dreamer, so had no control over the content of his dreams.
"Are you all right?" Sherlock asked.
John looked around the room, as if to remind himself of where he was, then up at Sherlock, giving a brief nod.
"I – Yeah. Yeah. I'm okay." He closed his eyes, sitting up fully, leaning forward, the duvet bunching around his waist. John dropped his head, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.
"Are you sure?" Sherlock asked.
"Yeah, just – war stuff," John sighed, then waved a hand. "It's all right. Didn't mean to bother you. Sorry."
Sherlock was surprised by the apology and surprised to find himself surprised. But surely John needing to be woken up from whatever terrifying dream he'd been having took precedence over a few minutes of violin playing he could easily pick up again now.
"Quite all right," Sherlock assured him.
John nodded, still not looking up. Sherlock straightened and walked toward the door, putting a hand on the handle to draw it closed behind him.
"Sherlock?" John said just before the younger man could do this. Sherlock glanced over his shoulder, raising a quizzical eyebrow.
"Thanks," John said.
Sherlock turned more fully and gave John a slightly puzzled glance.
"Of course," he replied. What else was there to do? Let John scream all night? That certainly wasn't productive, and they'd be lucky as it was if Mrs. Hudson wasn't up there within the next five minutes, demanding to know what was going on.
Sherlock pulled the door closed and went downstairs, getting his violin out, turning it quickly, and began to play. He had no cases to think about at the moment, but the music was relaxing nonetheless, and he felt his mind unwinding, able to better concentrate. He smiled when he thought of his mother and the hours they had shared doing this, and reminded himself to go round and visit her at the house one of these days. He did miss his playing companion occasionally.
After several minutes, he heard a familiar tread on the stairs and looked up with some surprise when John came into the living room. The doctor looked unaccustomedly tired, faint circles around his brown eyes, and he was somewhat paler than normal. Of course, he was losing the tan he'd gained in Afghanistan, but it was more subtle than that, and he looked drawn, weighted down.
He went into the kitchen and Sherlock heard the fridge opening and closing and then a faint snapping sound. He came back, carrying a beer, and Sherlock refrained from commenting. Harry may be an alcoholic, but John exhibited none of these tendencies, and Sherlock, as a former smoker and former drug user, (not drug addict, he was very clear about that, although the police saw somewhat less of a distinction) could tell the difference.
John sat in his chair, dislodging Sherlock's Union Jack pillow and tossing it onto the coffee table. He kicked his legs out in front of him and sipped his beer, closing his eyes. Sherlock kept playing; he wasn't about to stop just because John was there, and John didn't seem inclined to argue. If he needed company, then he would get music for company as well as Sherlock.
John stayed quiet, sipping his drink, keeping his eyes closed, and Sherlock noted that he was beginning to relax somewhat.
When there was a natural pause in the music, when Sherlock reached the end of what he'd been playing, John opened his eyes, regarding the genius with a somewhat clearer and lighter expression.
"Know any Beethoven?" he asked.
Sherlock snorted by way of reply and John flashed a smile, a brief one, but a real one nonetheless.
"Symphony number nine?" Sherlock suggested.
"Ode to joy," John replied, sipping his beer, expression thoughtful. "Yeah, I think I could do with some of that right now."
Sherlock nodded, set his bow to his strings, and began to play.