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fic: Reconnaissance

Title: Reconnaissance
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: R for themes
Warnings: implied past sexual abuse, implied incest, traumatic memory (none of these explicitly here, but as this is the sequel to Invasion I am warning for them again)
Wordcount: ~1650
Disclaimer: They're still not mine.
Summary: Sherlock's point of view on the events following Invasion; please note the warnings.
A/N: Written for the prompt square "face: temple" on my kissbingo card; the card is here.  Sequel to Invasion.
Many thanks to kalypso_v , ginbitch and blooms84 for reading and commenting, and for their continuing support with this one.
I don't know whether what I've suggested about Sherlock's memory here is possible or probable; this is not something I know from my own experience and I'm more than usually conscious that I may have got it wrong.



Reconnaissance

Sherlock, John and Clara sit waiting for the concert to begin. They're in a church that's normally plagued by tourists on the trail of some cult novel or other, apparently. But this evening it's been given over to something different altogether: young singers, an established pianist, a significant anniversary celebrated with two song cycles. One of the local heads of Chambers, someone Clara knows, is backing the series, and as always with these things there's a little bustle of patrons, a stir of excitement that's not quite to do with the music.

Sherlock hadn't been going to come at all, and then at the last minute he'd changed his mind. Surprisingly – given the high quality of what's on offer – it's not that big an audience, so there wasn't a problem getting a ticket on the door. But he thinks maybe John's not pleased he decided to join them. When Sherlock had come back from getting his ticket and a couple of programmes, John and Clara were having a conversation they clearly didn't want to go on with in front of him. Normally he'd assume it must be something about Harry, but this time he's not so sure.

John's been ... odd, the last few days, and it's making Sherlock feel distinctly uneasy. He's pretty sure it has something to do with that incident last week. There's a blank between the last thing he remembers – being in bed with John – and the next: coming round much later to find himself alone, muscles aching as if he'd been clenching all over for ages. John was on the phone downstairs and he'd almost jumped out of his skin when Sherlock had appeared in the doorway. He'd ended the call straight away, too, saying “I can't talk about it now. Goodbye” – which, for him, had been abrupt to the point of rudeness.

Sherlock worries about these details now. He never used to. But living with John has made him more aware of these shades, because everything about John is unexpectedly precious, even his ordinariness. And his behaviour since that thing Sherlock can't remember is not ordinary at all. He's acting like someone with a secret. A secret from Sherlock.

John wouldn't tell him what had actually happened, even when Sherlock asked him outright. All he said was I think you had a sort of blackout, which wasn't very informative. Also, John usually makes what Sherlock thinks of as an unnecessary fuss about illness, so why isn't he telling Sherlock to see a GP, or taking his blood pressure or his temperature or something? Anyone would think he'd stopped caring.

Sherlock's not going to let himself think about that idea. He hadn't realized how much he'd got used to the constant sense of John's concern, his – yes, all right then – affection, love probably isn't too strong a word.

He wonders who John was talking to on the phone that time. It didn't sound like the way he talks to Clara, certainly not Harry; more like the way he'd speak to a fellow professional but not one he knows well. Sherlock doesn't know why he thinks of Ella Thompson. He's never heard John speak to her, and he's long since stopped seeing her anyway, said he didn't need therapy any more, so there's no reason he'd be in touch with her unless –

Oh, he is not going to start imagining that sort of thing.

But he is going to have to insist John tells him what really happened, so that he doesn't go crazy speculating about it, worrying about it. Leaving someone in this uncertainty is cruel, and John is not cruel. He probably just doesn't realize what's happening, otherwise he'd do something to make it better, because that's what he does.

Sherlock's frightened that he might have ... hurt John in some way. Which would explain why John hasn't seemed to want sex with him since then. Has hardly touched him. He couldn't see any bruises when he'd barged into the bathroom yesterday while John was showering. But there could be injuries somewhere that doesn't show –

Stop it, he tells himself.


The concert's finally starting, and the young baritone is letting rip with a song about a stormy night. Sherlock doesn't know this cycle, but his German's more or less adequate for a game of follow-my-lieder. In his tense state, the pun nearly makes him giggle, which wouldn't be a good idea.

The title of the next song is off-puttingly melodramatic - “Die, Love and Joy!” But the song itself is calm and tender: the piano accompaniment sounds like a chorale, and the singer's line is smooth and sustained. It suits the sweetness of his voice better than the storm song, Sherlock thinks. There's a mystical vision in a church, and a girl who's decided to become a nun and renounce the world, bidding earthly joys farewell. As the young girl prays, the baritone suddenly goes into an eerie falsetto, ventriloquizing her voice. It doesn't really sound like a girl, of course, more like a young boy if anything; but it's odd and slightly unsettling just the same, hearing that other voice coming so unexpectedly from him –

Sherlock feels a sharp pain in his arm. He looks down and sees John's hand gripping it, so hard John's knuckles are white. He doesn't understand why it's happening.

But it means something to Clara, he can see that. She's got hold of John's other hand, and she's squeezing it, the way you might comfort someone waiting in a hospital corridor for bad news. He doesn't know why it makes him think of that.

His head's aching, badly, hadn't realized that, or maybe it's only just started. He suffers through the remaining songs in the first half of the programme, knowing he'd enjoy the concert at any other time. When the applause breaks out he makes a bolt for it, without a word to John or Clara. He runs through the narrow lane down to the Embankment and flags a taxi, jumps into it gasping the address and collapses against the window. As the cab pulls away he catches a glimpse of John shouting something after him, but he can't hear what it is.

Back at the flat he rushes up the stairs and grabs John's laptop, searching frantically for clues. John's changed the password again, but it's easy to crack, it's always too easy.

There is a message from Ella Thompson, which is frankly alarming:

I can't advise you about this, John, you know it wouldn't be ethical. All I can do is suggest you get him to see someone, sooner rather than later
.
 
And one from Mycroft, what the hell...?

Wednesday at 6. Please confirm. M.
 
He scrolls down to read John's original message to Mycroft:

Need to see you urgently. Private matter. JW

Sherlock feels cold all over, and his head is aching so much it feels as if it might split in two. He wonders where John's keeping his supply of painkillers.

Footsteps on the stairs; he goes to shut down the laptop but it's too late. John's already in the room. He doesn't look angry. He looks stricken, which is definitely worse.

Sherlock can't stop shaking. “Tell me what I've done,” he says. “Please, John. I know it must be something bad, but I can't remember.”

“What you've done,” John says slowly. He sounds as if he can't believe he's hearing this. “Christ, Sherlock, is that what you've been thinking?”

“What else can it be?” Sherlock says desperately. “You've been – so strange, and I know something happened but you won't say what it was and – shit, my head hurts!”

John comes over to where he's sitting, puts his arms around him and hugs him. Sherlock starts to shake even more. “I'll get you something for your head,” John says, and makes as if to move away, but Sherlock clings to him and won't let go.

“OK,” John says. “OK, I'm not moving. Oh God, Sherlock.”

He puts his lips against Sherlock's temple, where the headache is tight and banging. Sherlock whimpers, partly with the pain and partly in reaction to the kiss after days of almost no contact. John kisses his forehead, strokes it gently, touches his lips to the pulse at the other temple.

Sherlock's still trembling. He can't seem to breathe properly. He wants to ask John what all that was at the concert, what's going on with Clara, with Ella Thompson, with Mycroft, but the words don't come. He goes on clinging to John as John kisses him, gentles him the way you'd calm an animal in the grip of panic. Which is close enough to what he is right now – part of him knows that, seems to be standing aside and observing the rest of him.

John keeps trying to say something and then stopping. Eventually he manages it: “Three things, Sherlock. One: you haven't done anything wrong. Got that?”

Sherlock nods, though he's not sure he believes it. The movement makes him wince.

“Two,” John says. “I love you. Don't nod your head again because that's obviously not a good idea, but squeeze my arm if you got that – OK, OK, that's hard enough. Shit. Three: whatever happens, I am not leaving you. So don't even think about thinking that. OK?”

“OK,” Sherlock whispers.

John kisses the side of his head again, very gently.

“That's the easy bit,” he says. “Now comes the bit I have absolutely no idea how to deal with.”

Sherlock looks up at him; the headache's blurring his vision but he can still just make out the look of anxiety on John's face. What's coming must be bad, to make him look like that. He feels afraid again, but he holds on to John, the only sane thing left in a mad world, and waits to learn what this is all about.

***

Links to all parts of this now complete series are here:

Invasion;
Reconnaissance
;
Reveille
Ambush
;
Intelligence
;
Mosaic
;
Minefield
;
Incendiary;
Ceasefire



Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
turante
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Is it wrong to want more of this?
To hope for the better? At least there's John, and I can't help but trust him.
Poor Sherlock, not knowing is the wort torture for him, isn't it?
*hugs*
fengirl88
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I have faith that John will do everything he can (and that's a lot), but I also know there is not going to be a quick or easy resolution to this.

*hugs back*
2ndskin
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:27 pm (UTC)
A beautifully handled second chapter, full of understandable confusion and misreadings by Sherlock--and John's usual steadfast goodness. Although the reason for it is so sad, I'm fascinated by the exploration of a very different dynamic--with such a vulnerable Sherlock--in the relationship. Sherlock's attempts to puzzle out what has happened are heartbreaking and John's reassuring sanity is a comfort--to your readers as well as to Sherlock. I especially liked some of the early lines that flesh out the relationship:

Sherlock worries about these details now. He never used to. But living with John has made him more aware of these shades, because everything about John is unexpectedly precious, even his ordinariness.

. . . Also, John usually makes what Sherlock thinks of as an unnecessary fuss about illness, so why isn't he telling Sherlock to see a GP, or taking his blood pressure or his temperature or something? Anyone would think he'd stopped caring.

Sherlock's not going to let himself think about that idea. He hadn't realized how much he'd got used to the constant sense of John's concern, his – yes, all right then – affection, love probably isn't too strong a word.

Lovely.
fengirl88
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
thank you so much - and thank you again for your encouragement with this one. I am very glad you like those things here.
being_here
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Oh poor Sherlock. Imagining he had hurt John. Poor, poor boy. This is going to be rough, yes?

(Am completely captivated by this story)
fengirl88
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
thank you very much indeed. I think there is no way it can be anything else. I trust John to do everything he can for Sherlock, but even he is seriously out of his depth with something like this.
being_here
Jan. 23rd, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
I really hope that Mycroft can be an ally for John and wasn't the perpetrator. If they are I can imagine that this will go downhill fast.
(Deleted comment)
fengirl88
Jan. 23rd, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I think the next instalment may be a while in coming because of pressure of other work, but it is in progress.

*hugs you back*
rusty_armour
Jan. 23rd, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
Aaaarrrgggghhhh! You can't leave us hanging like this! I mean, we know what John needs to tell Sherlock, but-but still!

I'm impressed by how well you showed Sherlock going from mildly concerned to completely panicked. I can understand why John wanted to keep it a secret - thinking that Sherlock would be better off not knowing - but his kindness obviously back-fired as Sherlock's mind was left to cojure up its own scenarios. It's not surprising he became alarmed when he found those messages on John's laptop. And it was heart-breaking that Sherlock was so upset when John found him. I was moved by how John comforted Sherlock and slowly eased him towards what was coming.
fengirl88
Jan. 23rd, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - there is a draft of the next part but it's still in progress. I am very glad you thought it worked - I have never been so uncertain about posting a story or series of stories as I have with this, so I'm really grateful for your comment.
aynslee
Jan. 24th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
I didn't think an update could be more gripping than the first part of this series, but this one was. I feel terrible for Sherlock, who felt so alone and left out, and for John, who was doing his best to not set off another trigger, and to try and sort out what was best for Sherlock. I'm sure that John was horrified when he realized that Sherlock was agonizing over what he'd done wrong, and then immediately realized that he can no longer avoid the topic. It's very touching, how active John is in dealing with this. It would be easy to try and ignore it, or wish it away, but he's trying to figure out how to help Sherlock, even though he knows dealing with it is going to be hard on Sherlock.
fengirl88
Jan. 24th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
thank you very much - I see John as really wanting to do the right thing but feeling very much out of his depth about what that is, and making some mistakes in the process. he has courage and determination and I think he is going to need all he possesses of both in this situation.
the_tire_swing
Feb. 27th, 2011 10:02 am (UTC)
*huggles Sherlock*

John is so fucking awesome and perfect. I don't think I could love him more than how he's reacting in this fic. ♥
fengirl88
Feb. 27th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
thank you so much - it's about as severe a test of his qualities as I can imagine but I have great faith in him.
darthhellokitty
Mar. 28th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
OH - Sherlock has no idea what happened, and why John's treating so oddly, and being secretive - that's awful. I feel terrible for both of them, because it's not going to be easy either to tell what happened, or to hear it...

John is so good to him. Sigh.
fengirl88
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:45 am (UTC)
thank you very much - yes, John is good to him, and John's goodness is the one thing that makes imagining this bearable, and makes it possible to believe there will be a less-than-horrible ending.
error_42
Jun. 8th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
"But living with John has made him more aware of these shades, because everything about John is unexpectedly precious, even his ordinariness."
I love this sentence to bits and pieces, because that is how I felt when I was in love for the very first time. (Good times gone by, but fondly remembered.) It is nice to think that whatever happened to this Sherlock, he still is able to fall in love.
fengirl88
Jun. 8th, 2011 09:40 am (UTC)
thank you very much - I hadn't thought of it quite like that but it's true that being able to form the relationship with John in the first place is a sign that Sherlock has survived what happened to him, although there is hidden damage which is now surfacing. very glad you liked this - thank you for letting me know you did.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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