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fic: Forsaking All Other

Title: Forsaking All Other
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Pairing: Sherlock/John, Lestrade/John
Rating: R
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 1759
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Summary: He remembers a copper in some detective story from years ago, back when he still read them, saying You know what we say about marriage? We say it's like the kitchen clock. If it goes better lying on its side or even standing on its head, leave it alone. As long as it ticks and tells the time, keep your hands out of the works...
On a rainy night in the Volunteer, Lestrade and John try to talk about what happened between them after Harry's wedding.
A/N: Part 9 of the Trouble With Harry series; this one is for thesmallhobbit, with thanks for her encouragement.




John's already in the pub when Lestrade walks in. He looks as if he's trying to avoid attention, sitting at a table in the back by the kitchen door. Already half-way through his first pint, too. At least, Lestrade assumes it's his first. Nervous, probably. Hardly surprising, in the circumstances; this is about as awkward as it gets. He could do with a drink himself.

“Hi,” he says.

John stops staring into his pint. He looks startled and so unexpectedly happy that Lestrade feels choked. Then his face falls, as if he's remembered he's not supposed to be happy about this.

“Hello,” he says. “Um. Can I get you a drink?”

“I'll get it, 's OK,” Lestrade says hastily. Start taking turns, it could all get complicated pretty quickly, and he's thinking they won't be here for long. Shouldn't be here for long.

It takes him a while to get served – the pub's busy tonight. Dining area's full of punters tucking into braised lamb shanks or posh fishcakes on a bed of something-or-other and topped with what looks like beetroot crisps. Bloody gastropubs... Still, the beer's good here.

He orders a pint of Sambrook's Wandle, even though the name reminds him of that time he fell into another of the lost rivers of London, working on a case with those mad buggers from the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Which in turn reminds him of falling into the Thames last winter because of bloody Sherlock. It had almost been worth the soaking, that time, to have John checking him over for signs of pneumonia and generally making a grade-A medical fuss of him.

Was that when it all started? He's not sure. Anyway, no use compiling a history of feelings that are best forgotten...

“So,” he says, when he's settled with his own pint. “You wanted to see me.”

John chokes on his beer. Lestrade thumps him helpfully between the shoulder-blades till he stops spluttering.

“OK,” John says, still wheezing slightly, “you can stop now.”

“Just an excuse to get my hands on you,” Lestrade says, trying to make a joke of it. Realizes too late that there's more than one interpretation, and John clearly thinks Lestrade's accusing him of choking on purpose.

“Joke,” Lestrade says. “Sorry.”

“No, it's – oh shit,” John says. “Look, I really don't know how to do this.”

Do what? Lestrade thinks. He supposes John will get it together at some point to explain what he's after. Or maybe not. He's gone back to staring into his glass, like it's a fucking crystal ball or something. Won't find the answer there, will he?

Probably runs in the family, though, looking for answers in the bottom of a glass. He hopes that's not going to happen to John.

Lestrade's not sure what to do, but he feels he ought to do something. Can't just leave the poor sod staring into his beer.

“Look,” he says carefully, “what happened – it wasn't your fault.”

John gets that look again, the one he had before Harry's wedding when he saw Lestrade in the registry office car park. Like a man who's just sighted water in the desert, or maybe a prisoner who's just realized there's an escape route.

“We were both a bit pissed,” Lestrade pushes on hopefully, “and you were in a state about the wedding.”

John's face falls again. “Yeah,” he says. “That's not an excuse, though, is it?”

“Plus, Sherlock had left you in the lurch,” Lestrade says. Because of course bringing up Sherlock is the ideal way to make this conversation easier. Fuck.

“Yeah,” John says, his face darkening.

There's an awkward silence. Lestrade gazes at the frankly bloody weird picture on the opposite wall, a dark-haired woman with a cloud of black butterflies rising from her head. Not sure why anyone thought that was a good thing to hang by the stairs to the Ladies. Like that woman who turned everyone to stone, whatsername, Medusa.

He is not going to ask how things are between John and Sherlock, he absolutely isn't. Though that is the obvious next question. He's never really understood how that relationship works anyway – long since filed it under Things There's No Point Thinking About.

He remembers a copper in some detective story from years ago, back when he still read them, saying You know what we say about marriage? We say it's like the kitchen clock. If it goes better lying on its side or even standing on its head, leave it alone. As long as it ticks and tells the time, keep your hands out of the works.

But they're not married, are they? He's starting to wonder if that's the issue here, for one or both of them. They're a couple, of sorts, and it's impossible to imagine either of them shacking up with anyone else. Even though Sherlock clearly drives John up the wall with body parts in the fridge and other spectacular acts of anti-social behaviour. Landing John with an ASBO, for example. There's no justice...

Lestrade's guessing they don't have an open relationship – Sherlock isn't the type to share, for one thing. Plus, John wouldn't be in such a state about what's happened if this sort of carry-on was OK by Sherlock.

But you don't shag someone else if everything's fine with your partner, even if you are pissed.

A bit of Lestrade would quite like to see that relationship fall apart. More than like. He's known that ever since he stopped pretending to himself he didn't have feelings for John Watson. Not going to happen, though, and you don't take advantage of someone you care about by trying to break up their relationship. Even if you think their partner is a selfish emotionally inadequate tosser who needs a bloody good slap...

Lestrade clears his throat. “So, Sherlock came back, then?”

So much for definitely not asking about that. Christ.

John nods. Looking miserable again. Lestrade just wants to hug him, which really would put the tin lid on it.

“I haven't told him,” John says.

Lestrade's insides give a nasty lurch, though what else did he expect? It's not like Watson was suddenly going to throw Sherlock over and declare his undying love for Lestrade. Knowing Watson, he's not going to pass it off lightly either.

He's not sure John has ever passed anything off lightly in his life. Maybe when he was a medical student. Oh, and that time he shot the cabbie, not that there was ever any proof. Lestrade's willing to bet John slept easy after that one. Because he'd saved Sherlock's life, and that's all that would have mattered to him.

“No, well,” Lestrade says. He's not sure how that sentence was supposed to end.

“I have to tell him, don't I?” John says, looking like he's bracing himself to face the firing-squad.

“He'll probably work it out anyway,” Lestrade says. He could kick himself for saying it – hardly tactful – but it's true.

John winces. “Yeah. If he hasn't already.”

“So...” Lestrade says, and tails off again.

“So I have to tell him,” John says, and stops.

Lestrade doesn't imagine John wanted to see him just to tell him that. But John seems to be struggling again. Which means that Mug of the Year has to rush into the breach and help him out.

“And you want to tell me it can't happen again,” Lestrade says.

John's so obviously relieved at that, so grateful at being let off the hook, that Lestrade feels a stab of irritation.

“Always assuming I wanted it to happen again,” he says.

“Right,” John says, looking winded. “Yeah, sorry, I shouldn't have –”

Oh for crying out loud.

“Of course I'd like that,” Lestrade says. “You daft pillock,” he adds, since John still looks like he's taken a punch to the gut. “But I know it's not on.”

His body still holds the memory of John's thighs clenched tight around him, the bruising grip of John's fingers on his shoulders as Lestrade thrust into him. The feeling of John's sweat-soaked hair against the palm of his hand as the two of them lay panting afterwards. He'd felt so close to John then, as if this could lead to something, even though he knew it couldn't...

“I can't,” John says.

Lestrade waits. No, apparently there isn't going to be any more of that sentence.

“I know,” he says. He does, too.

“I want to,” John says in a rush.

Probably Lestrade's turn to look winded now, if he looks like he feels. Hadn't bargained for that one. He'd thought John would just see it as a terrible mistake. A problem to be dealt with. He'd never seriously thought John would want him. Not when he had Sherlock. Only reason they'd shagged in the first place was that Sherlock was out of the picture. Well, that, and the booze and the aftermath of Harry and Sarah's wedding. But Sherlock is back, and the wedding's safely over, and Watson can't be pissed this time, even if he has downed that pint a bit fast.

Maybe it wasn't his first pint after all, or maybe he'd already started drinking before he left 221b.

“You want to but you can't,” Lestrade says, clinging to the facts. Last thing they need now is him losing his head.

He hopes this isn't going to fuck things up at work, with Sherlock throwing a massive strop and going on strike or something when he finds out. Shit. Hadn't thought of that. Brain obviously not functioning properly this evening. Mind you, Sherlock never passes up an opportunity to tell the police they're idiots and doing it all wrong. Just have to hope he's running true to form on that.

“Yeah,” John says. “So I'm going to tell Sherlock what happened and that it won't happen again.”

Lestrade fights down the impulse to say What would you want if you weren't with Sherlock? Because there's no point thinking about that. Not going to happen.

“Right,” he says. “Best thing to do.”

Wouldn't like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

“I think I'm going to need another drink first,” John says. He's got the firing-squad look again.

Lestrade knows he should probably tell John to piss off home while he's still sober enough to talk to Sherlock without making a complete bollocks of it, but he's only human. If John wants to stay here a bit longer, he's not going to say no to that.

“OK,” he says. “I'll get these. What are you having?”



***

Like Any Just Cause, Put Asunder and No Understanding, this fic takes its title from the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer.

Lestrade's encounter with the lost rivers of London and the Peculiar Crimes Unit is also mentioned in Rising Damp.

The advice about marriage is quoted by Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Luke in Margery Allingham's novel The Beckoning Lady (1955).

Thanks to kalypso_v for beta wisdom and support, and to ginbitch, kate_lear, 2ndskin and [personal profile] thimpressionist for discussions about what happens next.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/85697.html with comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
fengirl88
Jul. 19th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)
oh thank you! I'm very glad you like it - and if you do want to reread there is now a series tag so the parts are easier to find on LJ!

I'm sorry it's taken so long to update - I disappeared into xmenreversebang and have only just come out again. the next story will be from Sherlock's pov (finally!) and is sketched out but not written, and I'm currently working out how many more there are after that.

Edited at 2012-07-19 10:02 am (UTC)
impishtubist
Jul. 19th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, this series hurts so very much. Lovely, as ever, with perfect characterization. Ouch, though.
fengirl88
Jul. 19th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
sorry for the ouch! but thank you for the lovely comment - and thank you again for inspiring this plotline with your thoughts on John, Lestrade and The Charioteer.
impishtubist
Jul. 19th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
Ack! I'm responsible for Lestrade not ending up with John?!

*weeps*
fengirl88
Jul. 19th, 2012 01:23 pm (UTC)
no, you're responsible for their getting together at all - which I continue to think is a good thing in spite of the angst it has generated!

Edited at 2012-07-19 01:23 pm (UTC)
thesmallhobbit
Jul. 20th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
I know I've already commented on AO3, but I had to read it through here as well ...

It's just so sad all round, because John seems to be struggling badly and I want to hug him because he's unhappy but give him a slap and tell him not to hurt Lestrade at the same time. And poor Lestrade who's struggling to do the right thing and yet wants John for himself.

If this is the sort of thing you write when I encourage you, then have some more encouragement, because this is gorgeous.
fengirl88
Jul. 21st, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *glows*

it's a very difficult situation - we'll just have to wait and see what Sherlock's going to do when he realizes what's happened...
ginbitch
Jul. 20th, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
LESTRADE! Peculiar Crimes reference! And angsty mcangst of angst central! I love your writing so much! This is gorgeous! Can't wait for the next bit!
fengirl88
Jul. 21st, 2012 12:03 pm (UTC)
*beams* thank you sweetie! the next bit, from Sherlock's pov, is plotted though not written yet (thank you again for the plot surgery!) and I'm trying to work out how many more parts there will be after that one...
rusty_armour
Jul. 22nd, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
Okay, I kind of jumped ahead in this series again. Sorry I keep reading this out of order. However, I'm not sorry about reading this story. :-)

Once again, I admire the way you're able to inject so much emotional tension into one scene of dialogue -- a scene in which both characters seem to be on very different wavelengths. Somehow, I'm not surprised that even though Lestrade's heart is probably breaking, he's still trying to make John feel better. I also think it's great that, despite the angst, you've added some little touches of humour. I love the description of that picture of the woman with the dark hair and his memories of falling into two lost rivers of London. *g*

BTW, I'm about halfway through The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco and I've really been enjoying it so far! :-)
fengirl88
Jul. 22nd, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm happy that you're reading and enjoying the series, in whatever order! also very pleased that you're enjoying The Chapter...
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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