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fic: Worse Things

Title: Worse Things
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None.
Wordcount: 880
Disclaimer: They're still not mine.
Summary: "He never used to understand people who talked about waking at 4 or 5 a.m. with the worst things in the world standing around their bed."
After The Great Game, from Sherlock's point of view. Spoilers for that and A Study in Pink

A/N
: Written for prompt square “other: to put them to sleep” on my kissbingo card. A sort of companion piece/sequel to Kiss Chase.  My card is here.
ETA: There is now a third fic in this series, First Light.    The title is a reference to Fleur Adcock's poem "Things".  Many thanks to blooms84 for the beta and the encouragement.



Worse Things

He never used to understand people who talked about waking at 4 or 5 a.m. with the worst things in the world standing around their bed. Their idea of worst things was so absurd and pathetic anyway: things they'd done or said wrong, mostly mind-numbingly trivial. Social awkwardness. Hurt feelings. Sins of omission.

Now he wakes every morning somewhere in that hour between 4 and 5 and what's standing by his bed is Moriarty at the pool. Saying The flirting's over, Sherlock. Daddy's had enough now.

And he burns with shame. As if he's become one of those stupid ordinary people he used to despise.

Shame, and fear. The loss that came so close – burn the heart out of you – he can't even think about it. What he did, carelessly, arrogantly, to them both. To John, most of all.

Sherlock watches him when he thinks John's not looking. Dark shadows under his eyes in a face that's almost greyer, more tense with controlled pain, than when Sherlock first met him, saw him and found himself thinking something he'd never thought about anyone before: My god, what did they do to you? He's limping again sometimes, too, as if his body's trying to say Can't do this any more, please don't make me.

The pink phone hasn't gone off again, but its presence is a constant reminder that Moriarty's got them in his sights once more. No red dots dancing over their bodies now, but there might as well be. He feels hunted, and he knows John does too. And it's all his fault.

He keeps hearing snatches of dialogue from impossibly long ago, that day John moved into 221b and Lestrade came to plead for Sherlock's help with the serial suicides...

Mrs Hudson saying Look at you, all happy ... it's not decent, and his own voice saying Who cares about decent? The game, Mrs Hudson, is on!

He understands something about the word decent now that he didn't before: that John Watson is its living definition. He can't not care about that.

The game was the only thing that mattered then. A bigger high than cocaine: I am on fire!

He's burning up now, but it's not the same. Days, it feels as if there's nothing left of him but a heap of ashes in the shape of a man, that a breath could disperse. And every night he's made whole, remade to be burnt up again as if for the first time.

They don't talk about it. He's never seen the point of that, but even if he could, he wouldn't. Talking would make it real. If he doesn't say anything then –burn the heart out of you, stop it – it's just a threat, a nightmare. If he admits Moriarty was right, that he does have a heart, then the real destruction will begin.

So he doesn't let himself ask the question that's been tormenting him ever since he regained consciousness in the hospital: Why did you kiss me when we were lying there in the wreckage? He pretends all of that is buried, never to be unearthed from the rubble. There's nothing to ask, nothing to tell. But he knows his dreaming mind plays archaeologist, piecing together fragments till they become an unignorable whole and he wakes up feverish, sweating and shaking.

This time, though, it's different. The bedside light's on, and John is sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning towards him.

“You were shouting,” John says. “I know you've been having nightmares, but this one sounded different.”

“Sorry,” Sherlock mutters, flushing.

John looks astonished. “What are you apologising for?”

“Waking you. Disturbing you.”

“Oh, I was awake already,” John says wryly.

“You're not sleeping well,” Sherlock says. He thinks that may just be the most stupid thing he's ever said.

“No,” John says. “I'm not.”

He's shivering, and Sherlock is burning. This is all wrong.

“Get into bed,” Sherlock says. “Heat exchange.”

John doesn't argue, which is almost as surprising as Sherlock saying that in the first place. He feels cold in Sherlock's arms, and they both gasp a bit at the contrast in their temperatures.

“Sherlock Holmes, the human radiator,” John says.

It's not that funny, but they laugh as if it is.

John buries his cold nose in Sherlock's burning shoulder, and Sherlock's hands are doing things he didn't intend, threading through John's hair and stroking the back of his neck. John's mouth against his shoulder is unexpectedly hot and the touch of his tongue makes Sherlock catch his breath and grip him harder.

“It's OK,” John says. “It's all right, I'm not going anywhere.”

“Don't,” Sherlock says, though he's not quite sure what he's saying Don't to. He's shaking.

John kisses his neck and his ear and the point of his jawbone and his cheek and the corner of his eyebrow. Kisses his eyelids, too, which feels very strange but amazingly good.

“Go to sleep,” he says, stroking Sherlock's hair. “I'll be here when you wake up.”

Sherlock knows there's something he ought to say, a warning or a protest, Moriarty, but it's too late. The exhaustion of the last few weeks hits him suddenly in its full force, and he doesn't resist as John kisses his eyes shut again.

Comments

( 77 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 3
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et_cetera55
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
This is gorgeously written. Absolutely beautifully heart-wrenching.
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! it was another late-night one that insisted on happening when I thought I should be going to sleep - a bit like Kiss Chase in that way.
kalypso_v
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
Mm. I love eyelid-kissing. (And there I shut her wild wild eyes With kisses four.) And the move from burning the heart out to the phoenix-like image of Sherlock constantly remade from the ashes to be burned again, and finally to giving the fire that's burning him to John.
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
thank you! very glad you like all of these things - I like your description of what happens with the burning.
(no subject) - kalypso_v - Dec. 18th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fengirl88 - Dec. 18th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
darthhellokitty
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, I like this so much! Sherlock waking up from nightmares for the first time in his life - Moriarty's threats making him feel so awful for putting John at risk - the burning metaphors - and then John's there, kissing him. Beautiful.
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! I wasn't sure if I would do a sequel to Kiss Chase, though someone did ask about that, but I was pleased to find myself writing this one.
(Deleted comment)
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! so glad you do.

*hugs back*
eldritchhobbit
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous, gorgeous writing. The description of Sherlock watching John, and what he sees when he does, broke my heart. I loved his insight into what is decent, as well. Beautifully done, start to finish.

Edited at 2010-12-18 08:48 pm (UTC)
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *glows*

so glad you liked those things in particular.
anon_aspasia
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
So evocative...lovely!
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
thank you! I'm very glad you liked it.
livia_carica
Dec. 18th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, my heart... :( So sad, but at the same time so lovely. Excellent job...
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - and I'm sorry about the :(!

(no subject) - livia_carica - Dec. 18th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fengirl88 - Dec. 18th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
innie_darling
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
The My god, what did they do to you? hooked me, but the whole thing's just gorgeous.
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! I'm very pleased you liked that bit in particular - I really wanted it to be there, even though S goes on being apparently heartless for quite a while after that...
errantcomment
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous- I like the way John is like running water.
Also eyelid-kissing is just too cute and in this context is incredibly intimate.
Lovely, thanks.
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *glows*

jbs_teeth
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
Just this: wonderful.
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
thank you very much!
(Deleted comment)
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
thank you! *beams*
nefertina86
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
I´m loving it! It´s such a bitter-sweet story! Well done! Thx for posting! <3
fengirl88
Dec. 18th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! very glad you like it.
(Deleted comment)
fengirl88
Dec. 19th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
thank you very much! *glows*

very glad you thought so!

(p.s. - thank you very much indeed for the rec!)

Edited at 2010-12-20 03:32 am (UTC)
shefa
Dec. 19th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Stunning. Simply stunning. Beautifully woven with such depth of emotion and character. Brava!
fengirl88
Dec. 19th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
wow - thank you! that's a lovely comment. *glows*
nice icon!
halftime1030
Dec. 19th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
Quite lovely and bittersweet.
fengirl88
Dec. 19th, 2010 12:34 pm (UTC)
thank you very much!
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