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fic: Reveille

Title: Reveille
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: R for themes
Warnings: implied past sexual abuse, implied incest, traumatic memory
Wordcount: 1625
Disclaimer: They're still not mine.
Summary: Sherlock is deeply asleep. Not so surprising, John thinks, after the strain of the last few days, never mind last night.
Not surprising that he's having nightmares, either.
John's point of view on the events following Invasion and Reconnaissance; please read the warnings.
A/N: Written for the kissbingo prompt "type: Sleeping Beauty".Thank you very much to blooms84, ginbitch and especially kalypso_v for beta comments, and to marysutherland for helpful exchanges on the story so far and where it's going. 


He's hacking his way through a forest of bramble and briar, thorns slashing his face, ripping through his clothes to his skin. Bleeding from cuts and scratches everywhere, and the thorns are like barbed wire, the thorns are barbed wire, when did that happen? and he can't remember what he's trying to find, who he's trying to reach, only that he's got to go on

The nightmare's so real John almost expects to find himself covered in blood. He's sweating and shaking and the bedding's all over the place. It's a wonder he didn't wake Sherlock up, thrashing around like that.

But Sherlock is deeply asleep. Not so surprising, John thinks, after the strain of the last few days, never mind last night.

Not surprising that he's having nightmares, either. Never had that one before, though. As far as he knows.

Bits of last night keep coming back to him. Sherlock's voice, high and tight with fear, saying “I don't believe you, you're making it up, no, you don't make things up, you must have imagined it.”

How do you say I think something bad happened to you. I think you were abused? How the fuck do you tell someone something like that?

Telling him was what it had to be. Because Sherlock didn't remember any of it, though John had thought he might. Didn't even remember going into the fugue state.

“You went rigid and you started talking in a different voice.” It sounds like a bad remake of The Exorcist, but how else do you describe it?

“I kept trying to reach you but you couldn't hear me.”

Sherlock's face, baffled, disbelieving, then furious.

“You went behind my back. Talked to Mycroft, your sodding ex-therapist, bloody Clara. How can I trust you if you do that?”

“I had to talk to someone.” Pleading, defensive.

“Who else have you told?” Sherlock demanded. “How many others did you broadcast it to?”

“Nobody – don't be like that.”

“How else do you expect me to be? You didn't tell me – you let me think – God, you told them and you didn't even–”

“Please, Sherlock – look, I was scared, I thought I was going mad even thinking something like that.”

“Whereas according to Ella Thompson I'm the one who's going mad. Apparently.”

He hadn't known what to say to that, so he hadn't said anything.

“I am not seeing a bloody therapist. They just put things in your head. Anyway, they're all stupid.”

No idea what to say to that either.

“You just want me to be really sick so I'll be dependent on you and you can look after me. That would suit you, wouldn't it?”

He'd turned away at that, hiding his face, flinching from the words that hurt worse than blows.

“Playing doctor. Like playing God, right?” Sherlock's voice harsh, relentless, jabbing at him. “Cut me down to size. Bet you feel ten feet tall just thinking about it.”

He couldn't trust himself to speak; it was as much as he could do to hold himself still, braced against the pain, waiting for the next attack.

Silence, a long silence broken only by Sherlock's ragged breathing.

“John?” A change in Sherlock's voice, shaky, almost tearful. But he couldn't respond to it, couldn't let himself turn and look at him.

Sherlock's arms around him, clinging to him desperately. “I didn't mean it, John, please –”

“Yes, you did.”

“Yes, all right, I did, but I know it's not true, I'm sorry, please don't go –”

“I'm not going anywhere, Sherlock. I just don't know what to do.”

Sherlock's sleeping face is blank, untroubled, washed clean of last night and the days since the incident that started all this. Never seen him look quite like this before, though God knows John's spent enough time staring at him.

He looks unguarded. Innocent.


John swears quietly. Realizes he's clenching his fists so tight his nails are digging into his palms.

He wants to hunt down whoever did this to Sherlock and rip them apart with his bare hands.

He still doesn't know what he's going to do if it was Mycroft. Or if Mycroft knew and did nothing.

Didn't know what to do when Sherlock had asked him why he wanted to see Mycroft.

He has no evidence, after all. Just something in the way Sherlock had said Leave me alone, or I'll tell, in that voice that wasn't his. Something that sounded like a child talking to his big brother.

Christ, he's out of his depth with this one.

Couldn't hide it from Sherlock, either. He'd tried saying Mycroft was the only one who might know what happened, but he'd been so awkward and faltering that Sherlock had seen through that.

“You think that Mycroft –”

Holding Sherlock's shoulders while he threw up had been the easy part. Wiping his face, making him tea with sugar, yes, you are going to drink it, don't argue. Talking Sherlock down while he shook, teeth chattering, hyperventilating.

“Breathe out into the paper bag, Sherlock, that's it, and in again, nice and slow. And again. Good, that's good, you're doing fine.”

He uses the words as if they still mean something. Good. Fine.

He has no idea of how to support Sherlock through whatever's coming next, or whether things will ever be normal between them again. The idea of normality with Sherlock would be funny if it didn't hurt so much.

He wants to go back to the moment before it happened, do something different, kiss Sherlock somewhere else instead, somewhere that wouldn't trigger the memory –

An earlier part of his dream he'd forgotten comes back to him. He was in Edinburgh, no idea why, looking down over the slope of Princes Street Gardens, and someone, not Sherlock, he's not sure who it was – was saying to him Be careful, there are still mines down there from the last war. Even in the dream he'd been puzzled – which war? why? – and then it had changed to the forest, with no idea how he'd got there or where he was going.

It's almost a pity he's not seeing Ella any more. Never came up with a dream as weird as that when he was in therapy.

He looks at the alarm clock by the bed. Shit. He's going to have to leave soon. He doesn't want to wake Sherlock, but he also doesn't want Sherlock to wake up alone, not at the moment.

So stupid not to have realized that Sherlock would be trying to work out why John wasn't touching him, why he was keeping his distance. Realizing Sherlock thought he'd done something wrong was almost too much to bear.

“I was afraid to touch you in case it happened again. I didn't know what else might trigger it.”

“Scared you might suddenly find yourself in bed with a catatonic eight-year-old?” Sherlock said. A joke that wasn't a joke at all.

“Yes,” he'd said. “Yes, I was. Still am.”

He wonders if eight was a random number, but he doesn't ask.

John kisses Sherlock's forehead, his cheek, the corner of his mouth. Presses his lips gently against Sherlock's. Sherlock wakes up and for a moment he looks panicked and confused, as if he's not sure where he is, or as if he's not sure who John is. Then he puts his arms around John's neck and pulls him close, till John's lying stretched out on top of him.

“I don't want it to be morning,” Sherlock says, between kisses.

“I know,” John says. “I hate leaving you like this.”

“Do you think they'll be there yet?” Sherlock asks.

He'd finally agreed to ring the number Ella gave John. John's still not sure whether Sherlock will keep the appointment if he even makes one. It had taken hours of arguing just to get this far.

“If I have to talk to someone about it, why can't it be you?”

“Sherlock, you know why not. I'm not remotely qualified to deal with this, and you need to talk to someone who's not involved, who doesn't have their own emotions about you clouding their judgment.”

“You're going to force me to do this, aren't you?”

“I'm not forcing you to do anything, Sherlock – I can't, I don't want to. But I honestly don't think we can cope with this without help.”

Sherlock had looked at him for a long time and then said “You're still afraid?”

He couldn't speak, but he'd nodded. Still afraid didn't begin to cover it.

“All right,” Sherlock had said shakily. “I'll call them in the morning. Can we go to bed now?”

He'd worried about how he'd respond if Sherlock wanted sex – had thought he might want that, for reassurance. But it hadn't happened. Sherlock had fallen asleep quickly and heavily, as if sandbagged. He hadn't stayed awake long himself.

“It's still early,” John says. “Would you like a cup of tea before I go?”

“OK,” Sherlock says. “Thanks.”

Sherlock has a look he's seen before, though he hadn't thought to see it again in civilian life. In Afghanistan he knew that look by heart, seeing men wake and brace themselves for going into combat. He couldn't let himself feel anything about it then; now he buries his face in Sherlock's neck so Sherlock won't see what it does to him. He hugs Sherlock as tight as he can, wanting to hold on till the last possible moment.

The sound of the alarm going off is shatteringly loud in the room, and John's out of bed before he even knows he's moved, adrenalin pumping, body tensed to face whatever lies ahead.

Sherlock manages a strained smile. “Up, Guards and at 'em?”

“Something like that,” John says grimly. “I'll put the kettle on.”


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



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I was ready with an extra blanket, tea and freshly baked biscuits when I started reading.
I am amazed by the complexity you manage to spin into the story. And I know it takes a big emotional toll to write something like this, so let me tell you that it's wonderful, and as shivery and sniffly it made me, I am glad to read it.
It's beautiful how fragile this surface of calm is.
I dread the revelation to come, yet I cannot stop myself from looking forward to the next parts.
Feb. 21st, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
thank you so much - that's a lovely comment and the encouragement is very much appreciated! I got badly stuck with this fic, and it's only just started moving again, so I'm hoping the next part will be easier than this one was...
Feb. 22nd, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
You've managed to keep it very understated, and yet powerful. John not reacting to Sherlock's anger, holding him as he throws up being the easy part. The tenderness of his care for Sherlock. And the reality that life goes on, even after this, that there is still John's work to worry about, that these things don't happen in a void.
Feb. 22nd, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - this comment makes me very happy indeed. and thank you so much for all your help and encouragement in getting this fic moving again!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
thank you very much for this, which makes me glow quietly with happiness. and thank you again for your excellent beta advice and your encouragement, both of which continue to be sustaining as I go on wrestling with this fic.
Feb. 25th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine what these two are going through. John is so patient -- I wish everyone had a partner like him to get through the rough times! <3
Feb. 25th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I wish that too!
Feb. 26th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
I'm sorry I didn't get around to reading this story until tonight as I've really been enjoying the series. However, this was definitely worth the wait. :-)

It's both fascinating and disturbing to see Sherlock so fragile and confused. I find it moving that John is trying to help him without causing further damage. And Sherlock's initial disbelief and anger about what John tells him makes perfect sense. You've really done an excellent job of portraying the emotional rollercoaster both Sherlock and John are riding. The moment that struck me the most was when Sherlock started throwing up after John shared his fears about Mycroft being Sherlock's abuser.

I'm really looking forward to seeing where you take this next.
Feb. 26th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! your comments always make me very happy.

there was such a long gap between Reconnaissance and this one that anyone might think I'd stopped writing the thing altogether. I'm relieved that it is moving again now, and very heartened by the comments I've received on the series so far.
Feb. 26th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)

Gut-wrenchingly good writing... This series tears my heart out but so well.

Feb. 26th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
thank you so much - and thank you for your encouragement, betaing and support from the earliest stages of this series! *glomps*
Feb. 27th, 2011 10:09 am (UTC)
John is tearing me apart. Now, I want to huggle him, poor boy!

God, this series is so good. It's painful but John is utterly awesome and doing everything right. Poor Sherlock is going to have a tough road in front of him.

Cannot wait for MORE!
Feb. 27th, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm very grateful for your comments on the series so far. I'm working on drafts of the next stage(s) at the moment.
Mar. 28th, 2011 04:04 am (UTC)
Ohhhh. So beautifully written, and so heart-wrenching. I just keep feeling bad for both of them.
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:46 am (UTC)
thank you very much - I feel that as well. it's moving on now again after being stalled for quite a while, and that's a relief.
May. 15th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
I'm late getting to this, I know, just wanted to say how much I like it so far <3
Also, in your title, do you mean 'réveil', as in "wake up", or are you talking about the fanfare?
May. 15th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm very glad you like it so far.

all the titles in the series have military connotations, though sometimes with more than one meaning. Reveille is a reference to the fanfare which provides the wake-up call (here represented by John's alarm going off).
May. 16th, 2011 07:56 am (UTC)
Ah yes - I see what you did there. Good idea!
Jun. 8th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
You really have an incredible talent for conveying emotions. Sherlock's anger, and his pain that hits him so sudden and so hard that he has to throw up, because it is just so immense.
And John being so utterly helpless, despite his medical training and despite his experiences in Afghanistan. In the end, I think he does the only thing anyone can do. Just being there, taking care of everything he can and just loving Sherlock as much as he can.
And the hard truth that all the love in the world sometimes is not enough, and that you need to try professional help, because perhaps it might work, and a small chance is better than nothing. It is very rare to find something like this in fanfiction, where there is a lot of "love conquers it all". Which is not meant as criticism, love conquering all can be great and romantic and funny and heart-baring, but I think in this context it would not be fitting.
It is amazing how all these great emotions are just there in such an unassuming way and without any gaudiness.
With every part I read, I like this more.
Jun. 8th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC)
thank you so much for this comment - it pleases me enormously that you like this so much and that you like those things in particular. this was a difficult series to write, partly because of not wanting to trivialize the subject, but also because of what you say about love not being enough - which is a hard line to hold when you're writing fanfiction.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


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