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fic: Duly Considering The Causes

Title: Duly Considering The Causes
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Pairing: Sherlock/John, Lestrade/John
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 2596
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Summary: Sherlock hears the front door slam and the sound of running footsteps in the rain. He shakes his head, baffled. Why would anyone go out to the pub on a night like this? And why would John bother going out just to meet Lestrade, when he can see him any time they're on a case?
A/N: Part of the Trouble With Harry series (Water; Dust; Juice; Any Just Cause; Put Asunder; Good Friends; No Understanding; Harry's Game; Forsaking All Other).
Thanks to kalypso_v for beta wisdom and to her and 2ndskin, [personal profile] thimpressionist, ginbitch and kate_lear for crucial conversations about the series as a whole and this bit in particular. This one is for [personal profile] thimpressionist, with love and thanks.

Sherlock hears the front door slam and the sound of running footsteps in the rain. He shakes his head, baffled. Why would anyone go out to the pub on a night like this? And why would John bother going out just to meet Lestrade, when he can see him any time they're on a case? It's not as if they have anything in common apart from liking football and motorbikes, which no-one in their right mind would go to the pub to talk about anyway.

But John's been acting oddly ever since Sherlock came back to Baker Street. He's on a very short fuse: keeps snapping about things, not just body parts in the fridge or experiments in the sink, but things that don't usually bother him that much. Like Sherlock pointing out the obvious mistakes in TV mystery dramas. Normally that would get a sigh or a sarcastic comment at most, but the last time it happened Sherlock thought John was actually going to hit him.

For fuck's sake, Sherlock, do you ever shut up?

John had apologised, but that had been worse, somehow: looking hangdog, as if he'd done much worse than just snap at him, and hugging him remorsefully till Sherlock could hardly breathe. He's used to casual physical affection from John, since they started sleeping together – he quite likes it, though he'd never say so – but this is different. Half the time John seems to be withdrawn, shying away from him for no apparent reason, or else he's clingy and all over him as if he's trying to make up for it.

Sherlock feels vaguely uneasy about all this. Which is seriously annoying, because he doesn't do vague unease. But John, who is usually so predictable, is being peculiar and he doesn't like it. It disturbs his concentration, having all this moodiness about the place.

He's not sleeping well, either, and he thinks that might be because John's been sleeping in his own bed for the last few nights. Making excuses about his leg hurting, though Sherlock hasn't seen him limping once.

When they'd first started sharing a bed, Sherlock found it hard to sleep. But he's got used to having that solid warm body in his space, having John hogging the blankets (which he always says Sherlock does, completely untrue) or snoring (ditto). Smelling of that shampoo he likes and sweat and sex.

Sex. Another thing he's got used to having. Another thing he's missing at the moment, with John not there at night. He likes having sex with John, and it's irritating to be missing it. This sort of thing is why it was a bad idea in the first place. He'd been perfectly fine not having sex until John came along.

Habits. Sherlock pulls a face.

Why is John being... whatever he's being at the moment? Sherlock would have said he was sulking (John says Sherlock is the one who sulks, which again is nonsense), except that it seems more complicated than that. He wasn't like this before that ridiculous business of Harry and Sarah's civil partnership –


He can't still be angry with Sherlock about that, can he?

Maybe he can. Which is wrong and unfair: what was Sherlock supposed to do about it anyway? Forbid the banns? John would hardly have thanked him for that.

He doesn't know why John agreed to go to the thing at all. It's not as if he's ever been close to Harry, and he'd hardly want to be there on Sarah's account...

John hasn't said anything about how it went. Not that Sherlock has asked. John would probably bite his head off if he did.

It must have been uncomfortable for him, though, Harry and Sarah...

Sherlock glares at the saucepan boiling away on the stove. The smoke is definitely not supposed to be that colour. He must have got the proportions wrong. Distracted again.

John might think it was – not good of Sherlock to have left him alone to deal with all that. Even if it was stupid of him to agree to be a witness in the first place.

People are idiots. Harry must know this relationship's no more likely to last than the one with Clara, but she still rushed into it with indecent haste. Why the Watsons set such store by marriage, he'll never know –

His mind winces away from the memory of the row. Thought he'd managed to delete that, but obviously not. Harry practically screaming at him At least I have someone who loves me enough to make it legal. More than you or John can say, isn't it?

He'd felt cold all over at that, as if he was going to pass out. He doesn't know what he said in reply – maybe nothing. He'd seen the gloating satisfaction in her face, knowing she'd hit home. She probably thought he wanted that with John, when in reality –

He doesn't want to think about it. He turns off the gas under the saucepan and stares gloomily at its contents. Another experiment ruined. Things can't go on like this.

Marriage. The idea of being trapped in that sort of dyad, even with John, makes him feel as if there isn't enough air in the room. He opens the window and sticks his head out, gasping, letting the rain soak his hair and run down the back of his neck. The windowsill feels rough under his fingers. He forces himself to loosen his grip and breathe normally.

Marriage. Is that what John wants? Even the thought of it had made Sherlock take to his heels with no idea where he was going. He'd gone into hiding with his phone switched off for two days before he felt ready to come back. In the middle of nowhere, or the middle of Wales anyway, which was much the same thing.

He doesn't want to lose John. He's used to him. John is part of his life now, part of his work. He anchors Sherlock, stops him from disappearing into the stratosphere. But if the price for having John in his life is marriage, or anything like it, he's not sure he can pay it.

Sherlock empties the saucepan into the sink, letting the bluish liquid drain away. He scrapes the foul-smelling residue into the bin and sloshes some disinfectant into the sink in a hopeful fashion. John's fussy about that sort of thing.

He probably ought to start another batch, but he doesn't feel like it just now. Maybe some music would be a good idea. Pass the time. While John's out talking about motorbikes or football or something equally dull with Lestrade.

There is another, less dull topic of conversation, of course. He would have said John was too loyal to complain about him, about personal things, but that was before John started behaving like this.

Yes, some music would definitely be a good idea. No point in moping about just because your – just because John has gone out for the evening. He gets out his violin and reaches for the Huw Watkins Partita he'd found in that shop in Porthmadog.

He's still wrestling with the Watkins piece when John comes back from the pub, hours later and obviously drunk. Sherlock puts the violin away hastily: the mood John's been in recently, he's likely to snap again at anything more challenging than Tchaikovsky or the Beatles.

John stares at him glassily, as if he's waiting for him to speak.

“Good drink?” Sherlock asks, not because he cares one way or the other, but because he can't think what else to say.

“I told him,” John says. He sits down heavily on one of the kitchen chairs, scraping it across the floor and nearly tipping over.

Sherlock hadn't realized he was that drunk. “Told him what?”

John squints at him, as if he's seeing more than one Sherlock Holmes and isn't sure which one he's talking to.

“Told him – had to tell you, tell you it's over,” he says.

That makes no sense at all. Unless –

Sherlock feels cold inside. Is John really so angry with him about the Harry business that he's going to leave? Which would be a ridiculous overreaction, obviously. But people do these things, they leave suddenly for reasons Sherlock never quite understands no matter how much they try to explain it to him.

He hopes it isn't that. Doesn't want it to be that.

“Are you planning to move out?” he asks. His insides are turning over in a stupid and annoying way.

John looks bewildered. “Wha'?”

Sherlock tries again. “Are you going somewhere?”

“'M goin' to bed,” John says owlishly. He pushes himself up, tipping the chair over with a crash, and stumbles out of the kitchen. Sherlock hears him blundering up the stairs and bumping about in his room, knocking things over. He's going to have a brutal hangover tomorrow.

Sherlock doesn't feel like going to bed himself, so he may as well make use of the next few hours. He decides to have another go at the formula for the Kingston case, making himself concentrate properly this time.

John does indeed have a brutal hangover in the morning. He looks as if someone's died, possibly him, and winces when Sherlock asks if he wants tea. Sherlock makes some anyway, because tea in the morning is another thing he's got used to. John looks at it with a mixture of suspicion and faint nausea, but he drinks it just the same.

“Do you want some more?” Sherlock asks, since John is staring into his empty mug.

“What? No,” John says. “No thanks.” Goes on staring.

Sherlock thinks about making a joke, something to do with reading the teabags, but it doesn't seem to want to come. It's absurd to be feeling self-conscious around John, who has seen him in all possible states of dress and undress, in all his moods from wildest exhilaration to wall-shooting boredom and three-day silences. It's a strange sensation, and he doesn't like it.

“Did I say something last night?” John asks abruptly.

Nothing that made any sense. “You said you'd told Lestrade something.”

Maybe that tea wasn't such a good idea, or maybe the milk was off. His insides are feeling peculiar again.

“Oh,” John says.

“You were babbling about something being over,” Sherlock says uneasily. He needn't have mentioned it, but he feels as if something could go wrong if he... well, suppressing material evidence might cover it.

“Oh,” John says again. Looking very uncomfortable.

“You didn't say what it was that was over.”

John doesn't answer.

“I thought–” No, he's not saying that. What he thought is not material evidence and he doesn't want to make it real by voicing it.

I thought you'd decided to leave.

“I slept with Lestrade,” John blurts out. “After Harry's wedding.”

“Oh,” Sherlock says. He hadn't even realized Lestrade had been at the thing. It's not as if he has any connection with Harry or Sarah, so why...?

“I told him last night that I had to tell you,” John says, as if he's talking about some terrible ordeal. Which is absurd. Sherlock isn't sure why John's telling him at all, if that's how he feels about it.

“Are you moving out?” he asks, before he can stop himself.

John looks staggered. “No,” he says. “No, I – I told him, it's over. It won't happen again. Can't happen again.”

“OK,” Sherlock says.

The relief he feels is disproportionate, of course. But it would be – not fun at all if John moved out. So it's good that he's not going to.

“What do you mean, OK?” John says. He's gone very white.

“OK,” Sherlock says, “it happened, you're not moving out, that's fine.”

“Thanks a bunch,” John says. He's obviously furious, though Sherlock has no idea why. “Christ, Sherlock, are you even human?”

“What?” Sherlock says, genuinely puzzled.

“Fine,” John says tightly. “Great. I'm going to work.”

He slams out of the flat, leaving Sherlock perplexed. Would John rather he'd shouted at him? He'd obviously been dreading some sort of scene, and now he's disappointed at not getting one. Completely irrational.

Sherlock's observations of John over the next few days are not encouraging. It's true he's in a slightly better mood when he comes in from work that evening, though Sherlock restrains himself from saying most of what he wants to say during that stupid Oxford detective series John likes to watch. But he's not his usual self at all.

He seems to be... moping is the nearest Sherlock can get to it, though he hasn't the faintest idea what about. He's not snapping at Sherlock any more, but he looks sad a lot, and although they're sharing a bed again he doesn't seem to be sleeping well, which means Sherlock isn't sleeping well either.

It's all very unsatisfactory. Unsettling. It pulls at his mind repeatedly, like someone tugging at his sleeve, affecting his concentration.

He wonders if it's connected to the Lestrade thing, even though that makes no sense at all. Just because John's been like this since he and Lestrade – No.

Still, no matter how much he mutters to himself about post hoc, propter hoc, he has a nagging feeling that Lestrade has something to do with this.

It's a measure of how low he's sunk that he even considers talking to Lestrade about the situation. But once he's had the idea it refuses to go away. Eventually, in sheer self-defence, he sends Lestrade a text:

                    Need to see you.

It is, too. He can't let this go on affecting his work.

Lestrade's wrapping up a case he hadn't even told Sherlock about; he claims it was so straightforward he didn't need his help. Huh. He says he can give Sherlock fifteen minutes and this had better be good.

Seriously, Sherlock doesn't know what's got into everyone lately. First it was John and now Lestrade is being peculiar with him.

He's almost at New Scotland Yard when he sees it, like the pieces of a kaleidoscope twisting to form a different pattern. Oh.

Maybe the reason Lestrade is sulking is because John said he wasn't going to have sex with him again. John is fun to have sex with, usually. Lestrade might have wanted to carry on, and be annoyed that John said no. Completely unreasonable to be blaming Sherlock for it, since Sherlock never said John shouldn't have sex with Lestrade again. But maybe that explains Lestrade's attitude.

Maybe – and this is harder to imagine, but when you've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth – maybe John's moping because he wanted to carry on having sex with Lestrade but thought he shouldn't. Sherlock has no idea what Lestrade is like in bed, but for all he knows Lestrade might be as much fun as John is when he's on form.

Sherlock sighs. People are idiots. But if he's right about this, then the answer is absurdly simple. There's an obvious way to stop John moping and Lestrade sulking. And – he brightens at the thought – nobody has to marry anybody in order to make this work.

He jumps out of the taxi, so euphoric with relief that he tells the driver to keep the change, and takes the stairs to Lestrade's office two at a time. He's solved the case at last, took him long enough, but once they've got this sorted out he'll be able to think properly again.

Lestrade is going to be really pleased when Sherlock tells him his solution.


Like Any Just Cause, Put Asunder, No Understanding and Forsaking All Other, this fic takes its title from the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer. Thanks to kalypso_v for suggesting this particular title.

For those who like to know what Sherlock is playing, Huw Watkins's Partita is on the composer's Myspace page.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/88116.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
Oh Sherlock. I do like the way you show him as being so totally unable to understand anything except through his own viewpoint.

And somehow I don't think Lestrade is going to be as pleased as Sherlock expects.
Aug. 21st, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - and I think you are right about Lestrade... *grins*
Aug. 21st, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
I expect we'll be very pleased at Sherlock's solution! ;D
Aug. 23rd, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
thank you - I hope so! *grins*
Aug. 22nd, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
I like the way you've shown Sherlock's complete lack of understanding of John, Lestrade, and even his own emotional state. I tend to do this myself - perceive my own emotions as a rolling stomach or a tight throat and have to carefully work out what it is I'm feeling (physical or emotional) and why.
Aug. 23rd, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm glad this worked for you. I think he can't help observing the physical symptoms even if he can't (or doesn't want to) recognize their meaning.
Aug. 22nd, 2012 04:44 am (UTC)
WHAT? *wants to shake Sherlock* Are you really that dense?? *sigh*
Aug. 23rd, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
thank you! I think this is the same Sherlock who didn't understand why a woman would go on being upset about her stillborn daughter all those years later...
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 23rd, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - glad you are enjoying it! I am working on the next part and hope it will arrive sooner than this one did.
Aug. 22nd, 2012 10:26 am (UTC)
You do a brilliant job of showing Sherlock's worldview. It is so logical and yet so daft.
Aug. 23rd, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *beams*

yes indeed, logical and daft...
Aug. 22nd, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
God, I love docs in which Sherlock is all proud of figuring out something that a "normal" human being would have known far sooner! This is brilliant; I love how his brain works, here. Can't wait for more!
Aug. 23rd, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
*grins* thank you very much! I'm working on the conversation with Lestrade (from L's point of view) at the moment...
Aug. 27th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry I'm only getting around to reading and commenting now, though it might work to my advantage as I'll have less time to wait for the next story. *g* I can't help feeling sorry for Sherlock, who is clueless about behavioural cues at the best of times. It's hardly surprising that he's struggling to figure out why John is so angry and why their relationship seems to be falling apart. I think one of the strengths of this story is your characterization of Sherlock, which is excellent. You have him approach the problem as if it were a case. He even thinks to himself at the end that Lestrade will be pleased with his "solution," as if he has solved one of Lestrade's cases for him. I'm really looking forward to seeing how that conversation plays out! ;-)
Aug. 27th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! I think that is how he'd approach it - and this version of Sherlock at least is pretty clueless about emotions (especially his own...).

I'm working on the next part at the moment, though I have been slowed down by RL things.
Sep. 11th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
I've been finding it hard to imagine Sherlock in a sexual relationship after Series 2, but this fic is worryingly convincing about just what a disaster it could be. Especially "Sherlock has no idea what Lestrade is like in bed, but for all he knows Lestrade might be as much fun as John is when he's on form", which is both funny and slightly heart-breaking.
Sep. 11th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
thank you - this Sherlock really is very bad at emotions, so his involvement in a sexual relationship is a series of accidents waiting to happen...
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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