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22 December 2011 @ 12:44 pm
fic: Whatever Makes You Happy 2/2  
Part 1

John could hear Sherlock fiddling with one of his experiments in the kitchen when he arrived.  He’d spent the entire journey home going over what he was going to say and he still didn’t know.  How were you supposed to casually bring up your flatmate’s potentially lethal mutation in conversation?  If he was going to do it he definitely needed something to fortify him.  Unfortunately, making a cup of tea meant going into the kitchen with Sherlock, and there was no way Sherlock would fail to notice something had changed with John.  At least if Sherlock brought it up himself John wouldn’t have to.  He’d probably already hesitated at the door for too long.  Mentally bracing himself, he pushed open the door to the kitchen.

Sherlock had his back towards the door, hunched over his microscope set up on the table – sleeves rolled up to the elbows.  Normally, John wouldn’t have cared less, but knowing what he did now put everything in a whole new light.  Sherlock had been alone in the flat until just that second, but even so; he’d known John would be coming home soon and there was no way he had missed his arrival.

John made his way around Sherlock towards the kettle – he hoped Sherlock was too preoccupied to notice how his gaze lingered on those bare forearms.  

“Make that two cups,” Sherlock said when John only placed one mug on the worktop.  He took down another mug and went about making tea for them both.

Against all of John’s fears it wasn’t until he passed Sherlock his tea that Sherlock realised something was up.  Always before John would place Sherlock’s mug right next to his hand; if he didn’t, Sherlock would usually forget about it.  Today he simply left it on the table – within reach but nowhere near as close as he usually put it.  He felt like a bit of coward for doing so, but he dared anyone who had just found out that skin contact with your flatmate could kill you to behave any differently, especially when they’d rolled their sleeves up.  

Of course the change in John’s usual pattern did not go unnoticed by Sherlock.  Looking up from the microscope, he gave John one of his patented calculating looks.  John stood his ground, well used to Sherlock’s scrutiny.

“What’s the...” Sherlock’s puzzled frown abruptly fell away as he realised the only logical conclusion for John’s sudden change in behaviour. “Who told you?  Was it Mycroft?  I’m sure he loved telling you all about it; all about my sordid past.”  John had never seen Sherlock angry before – pissed off, irritated, frustrated yes, but never truly angry.  “Why now though, hmm?  Why now when he could have driven you off at that first meeting?  Unless– oh!  Of course – Lestrade.  Lestrade told you, didn’t he?”  John gave a mute nod – yep, this was going about as well as he’d expected.

“Why would Lestrade tell you?” Sherlock continued. “Oh, yes, of course. You two are almost friends now, he’d be concerned and when you didn’t know about my mutation he’d have told you– he told you about that time I drained him, didn’t he?  So much for his supposed lack of blame...”

“Sherlock, stop!” John cried.  “Would you let me speak?”

“Why on earth should I let you do that?  So that you can tell me you’re leaving?  Isn’t this all rather hypocritical of you, Doctor.”

“Of course I’m not leaving.  Wait hang on, hypocritical?”

“Please,” Sherlock scoffed, “you don’t think I wasn’t aware of your mutation, do you?”

“But I never told anyone!  Well, apart from my parents and Harry and you sure as hell didn’t hear it from them.”  How had this all gotten turned around?  Wasn’t this supposed to be about Sherlock?  Then again, he had been foolish to think that he’d managed to hide anything from the incredible man.  

“You’re terrible with technology – honestly, the time it takes for you to write up one of our cases; no wonder you only write up a few.  And yet despite that when I...when your computer broke last month, you knew exactly what was wrong with it, right down to the very component you needed to replace.  It was hardly challenging.”  Really, John shouldn’t be so impressed each time Sherlock showed off, but when he deduced something like that, something John had successfully hidden his entire life, it was hard not to be stunned.

“Right, yes, okay, so I’m a mutant and you’ve figured out what I can do, but Sherlock this isn’t about me.  Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It wasn’t important.”

“It wasn’t...Sherlock!  How is it not bloody important?  You walk around here like that,” John gestured at Sherlock’s rolled up sleeves, “and it’s not important?  I can’t even count how many times I could have touched you by accident. I would be dead, Sherlock.  Does that even matter to you?  Was it all some experiment to see how long it would take before you killed me?”  And didn’t that just sound so in character?  Really, the only thing that should surprise him is that it was so surprising.

Sherlock scowled. “Don’t be such an idiot.”

“So explain it to me!  Why didn’t you tell me?  I can understand not wanting to tell anyone about something like this, but Christ, Sherlock, I live with you.  I had a right to know.”

“I couldn’t.”


“Because then you’d leave!” Sherlock yelled.  It brought them both up short.

“I’m not leaving, Sherlock,” John said gently.

“You should; I’m not safe to be around,” Sherlock said.

John took a step towards Sherlock. “I don’t care.” Sherlock looked at him derisively. “I don’t,” John said.  When Sherlock’s expression didn’t change, he added, “All that stuff before, I just...I suppose I just wish you’d told me yourself.  I promise you, I’m not leaving.”

Sherlock’s expression mollified, John’s earnestness finally convincing him.

“You really should,” Sherlock said. “I’ve...I’ve made mistakes before.  I haven’t always been so in control.”  John didn’t have to ask what he meant by that.

“But you are in control now.  You’re not the same person who made those mistakes.  Lestrade told me how guilty you felt after what happened; I don’t believe you’d ever attack someone maliciously.  I trust you.”

Rather than relieved, Sherlock simply looked confused. “Why?”

“Why what?”  

“Why do you trust me?” Sherlock asked.

John’s laugh had an uncomfortable edge to it.  He knew the reason, of course he did, but it wasn’t something he necessarily wanted to admit to a flatmate.  “Only you would question someone’s faith in you.  I don’t know, alright?  We’re friends, that’s what friends do.  Just as I won’t hurt you I trust you not to hurt me.”

“No, that’s not it, at least not all of it.  What aren’t you telling me?” Sherlock narrowed his gaze as he scrutinised John once more.  “I’ll get it eventually, why not just tell me now?”

John knew it would take Sherlock a while to understand this.  Emotions were his self-confessed weakness, even more so when it came to John.  If he remained silent there was even a very good chance Sherlock would never figure it out. Wasn’t that a rather depressing thought?  Yes, he’d asked after Sherlock’s love life during their first case together, but it had just been curiosity, a topic of conversation, he hadn’t had any particular feelings back then.  Three months had passed since that first day, and John’s feelings had changed from platonic to something more.  He’d trusted Sherlock at the start, of course he had, or else he wouldn’t have moved in with him, but Sherlock was right, the basis of that trust had shifted over the months.  Could he tell Sherlock?  Then again today seemed to be the day for exposing secrets, and after finding out his flatmate could kill him with a single touch, surely telling Sherlock he loved him was easy?

John had never been very good at emotional declarations – it was one of the many reasons he and Sarah had broken up – there was no way he was going to be able to explicitly tell Sherlock he loved him.  Then again, with Sherlock he wouldn’t really have to.

Decision made he took another step towards Sherlock.  He looked uncertain, as if this was an unexpected outcome – which it probably was.  When he was close enough, John slowly raised his arm.  Sherlock eyed John’s arm like a normal person would look at being handed a spitting cobra.

“John…” Sherlock warned, but John ignored him – he knew exactly what he was doing.

“Don’t move.”  John said as his fingers closed the distance and brushed against the upper sleeve of Sherlock’s shirt.  Looking up, he smiled at Sherlock’s wide-eyed and slack-jawed expression.

“John,” Sherlock breathed in awe as they locked eyes.  John could feel Sherlock’s hand as it hesitantly brushed over his jumper-covered chest.  John’s grin widened.

~ ~ ~

It wasn’t easy maintaining a relationship when you couldn’t touch one another. ‘Spontaneous’ touches always needed some thought beforehand and the most basic intimacies, such as kissing, were denied.  Yet somehow they made it work.  They may not have been able to feel the smooth planes of each other’s skin, but they could feel each other’s warmth through thin cotton shirts; could hold hands if one party wore gloves. Inevitably, it was unlike any relationship John had had before.  

Being unable to touch the person you wanted most did cause tensions from time to time.  It didn’t help that Sherlock never made it any easier, in John’s mind at least – walking around in those perfectly tailored clothes that just left John begging for more.  There was also a part of him, small but definitely present, that thought perhaps it was better to not touch.  After all, Sherlock was perfect – beautiful, tall and with a natural elegance to everything he did.  John had no delusions about his own averageness and part of him feared that if he ever did touch Sherlock he would somehow mar that perfection.  It was more than a little bit foolish but there are some worries that just won’t rest.

Despite the odd hiccup now and then, they made it work and they were happy.  After a short while, they’d even incorporated sex into their relationship.  It had taken careful planning and consideration but, just like with everything else, they made it work.  They couldn’t go all the way, of course, but latex gloves and partial undress meant that neither of them had to miss out on a healthy sex life.

In truth they could have started the sexual aspect of their relationship a lot sooner than they had, but something about Sherlock’s behaviour held John back.  After that pivotal conversation in the kitchen they hadn’t really spoken much about their powers.  John had asked the odd question concerning Sherlock’s mutation and vice versa (on the rare occasions when Sherlock couldn’t just observe what he wanted to know) but their pasts, their mutant lives before they met, were never talked about.  However, John wasn’t stupid (no matter what Sherlock said) and it didn’t take a genius to figure out something had happened in Sherlock’s history.  Considering his mutation and personality, John would have been more surprised if Sherlock’s life had been idyllic and peaceful before they met.  The past was never spoken of and John knew better than to press for information, so they waited, waited until Sherlock was ready and willing and, if not entirely happy, at least comfortable with the risks.

Due to the nature of their relationship, very few people knew about them.  Lestrade figured it out, much to Sherlock’s surprise, and congratulated them both after a case.  John noticed how the smile he gave Sherlock was filled with delight but there was also relief and reassurance in that gaze.  Mycroft knew as well, of course.  John suspected there was nothing the eldest Holmes did not know when it came to his brother.  Still, John was in no hurry to find out how Mycroft knew; he suspected cameras and considering some of the things he and Sherlock had been getting up to he really did not want to know.

Sometimes it was far too easy to forget the risks involved in what they were doing.  There had been several close calls as one or the other of them momentarily forgot what was ‘out of bounds’. For days after each incident they’d both be more cautious, more wary, before their usual closeness returned.  

But nobody’s luck held forever and that fact was true for mutants just as much as it was for humans.

Over the months, John had noticed a definite pattern to Sherlock’s cases – more times than not there was a chase involved.  Why Sherlock couldn’t just deduce the culprit’s final destination John was never certain, but a back-alley chase was pretty much guaranteed.  Then there were the odd times when their roles were reversed, like now, for instance.  

They ran down alleyways, backstreets, over rooftops; John never more than a couple of paces behind Sherlock.  John hoped the guy chasing them was just a human assassin; if mutant powers came into this then they would be in serious trouble – and since when was a ‘normal’ assassin a good thing?

With Sherlock leading the way they managed to lose the guy without too much difficulty – John doubted there was anyone with a more comprehensive knowledge of London’s short cuts than Sherlock.  Even when they both knew they’d lost him, they kept running; the adrenaline and the rush of it was too heady to give up just because the danger had passed.

They made it back to Baker Street, practically slamming the front door shut as they raced up the steps to their flat.  John shut the door behind him, falling back against it, giggling as the adrenaline began to fade from his system.  Sherlock spun back round to face him, grinning as he too glorified in their escape and the rush of the chase.

John closed his eyes, tilting his head back to rest against the door as he continued to giggle and grin.  There were faint sounds of movement and suddenly he could feel Sherlock close in front of him – very close – and without thinking he leant forwards and kissed him.

It should have been a shock, something should have reminded him about why this was such a terrible idea, but as he rode the last wave of his adrenaline high he didn’t care – he was kissing Sherlock and it was glorious.  In John’s defence, it wasn’t entirely one-sided; Sherlock might not have initiated the kiss but he was certainly making no effort to break it – he was just as caught up in it as John was.

At first everything was as it should be – a lick of lips, an opening of mouths followed by exploratory tongues; it was perfect and the world around them seemed to fade away.  Then everything changed.  It was the fastest crash in adrenaline John had ever experienced; he felt exhausted, drained.  He couldn’t catch his breath and if Sherlock hadn’t suddenly surged forward, pinning him to the door, he would have collapsed as his legs lost all their strength.

Only now could he remember why this was such a disastrous idea, he could remember why they’d never done it before and if he hadn’t been trying desperately to figure a way out of the situation he’d be mentally slapping himself for being such an idiot.  Sherlock didn’t seem aware of John’s peril.  He began attacking John’s mouth more fervently, deepening the kiss as if John was all that was keeping him alive.

John could feel what was happening all too clearly, the flow of life passing steadily into Sherlock, and there was nothing he could do.  Lestrade’s story had given him an idea of what it would be like, but he’d underestimated just how weak he’d be, just how paralysed.  If Sherlock didn’t come to his senses soon, John wasn’t sure just how much life he’d have left.  Despite that realisation, he couldn’t find the right level of fear.  He was more afraid of what would happen to Sherlock should he be killed than he was of being killed.  It was completely irrational and totally lacking in self-preservation, but he hated to think that one of his stupid mistakes might destroy Sherlock.

All of a sudden, the contact between them broke and John sank to the floor.  He didn’t understand why Sherlock had stopped – he’d shown no signs of slowing or dawning awareness, but now wasn’t the time to question it.  He was alive and right now that’s all that mattered. Just before he lost consciousness he could have sworn he saw Mrs Hudson’s face hovering above him.

~ ~ ~

How could he have been so stupid? How could he have made such a vast error in judgement? Wasn’t he supposed to be a genius? Wasn’t he supposed to be better than this?

It had been so intoxicating having John that close, adrenaline clearing his mind of anything but John. And then John had kissed him. He should have pulled away, should have run then and there, but it was just so much of what he’d wanted; the fact that he was finally kissing John overwhelmed the warnings screaming in his head.

That was when the transfer of life had begun. All thoughts of stopping fled his mind as the combination of adrenaline and the high erased everything but the desire for more. He’d been starved for so long that any semblance of control vanished and he surged forward, holding John up with his body against the door.

He had no idea how long he’d been kissing John, no idea how close to death he was when he felt a pair of hands grab him by his coat and pull him away.

At the sudden loss of contact Sherlock’s head cleared and despite the rush, despite feeling more alive than he had in years, the full force of the horror at what he had done struck him. It was Victor Trevor all over again and this time Sherlock wasn’t sure he could survive it.

Mrs Hudson was now crouched in front of John’s collapsed form, checking him over, taking his pulse.

“Calm down, Sherlock, he’s alive,” Mrs Hudson told him without taking her eyes off John.

It helped a little – John was alive, he would survive, it was nothing like Victor Trevor, John was alive. Still, how much life had he taken? How could John ever forgive him for taking away years of his life in an instant? It didn’t matter who’d started the kiss, Sherlock had done nothing to stop it. It was his fault John was unconscious on the floor and once again the benefits weren’t worth the risks.

“Sherlock, stop pacing; he’s going to be fine.” She grabbed the Union Jack cushion off the armchair and placed it under John‘s head. “There, that’s a bit more comfortable for him. Wouldn’t want him getting a cricked neck on top of everything, would we?” Happy with how John was faring she turned her attention to Sherlock. “It only looks like you took about five years, dear, it’s not a disaster. If you stop pacing I’ll go make us a nice cup of tea and we can wait for the good doctor to come back round.” A sudden sense of calm filled the room and Sherlock stopped wearing a hole in the floor, sinking onto the sofa with his head in his hands.

“Would you stop that?” Sherlock said as angrily as he could with the cloud of calm and peace hanging over him.

“Not until you calm down and stop blaming yourself,” Mrs Hudson said. Despite her words the sense of tranquility lifted slightly as she made her way into the kitchen.

“You know, I’ve always wondered what good a second door was to this flat,” she called out, grabbing two mugs from a cupboard. “My husband always wanted to brick it up, but, well you know how he was, not exactly one for DIY, was he? Bless him.”

When she came back into the living area she placed Sherlock’s tea on the table in front of him before taking one of the armchairs and sipping at her own mug. Sherlock didn’t move an inch the entire time.

“Sherlock, dear, drink your tea.”

Sherlock picked up his mug but didn’t drink any. He loved Mrs Hudson dearly but her ability to alter the mood of a room was rather irritating at times. “How long have you been working with him then?” It was the only explanation for her timely arrival – there was no such thing as a perfect coincidence.

“Your brother simply asked me to keep an eye on you. He seems like a lovely man and very concerned about your well-being. He offered to help pay for any damage you caused but I told him not to worry – boys will be boys, after all.” She smiled sweetly at Sherlock over the top of her mug. “Although the next time you shoot my wall I’ll make sure you’re bored and lethargic for a fortnight,” she threatened.

Sherlock glared at her. Mycroft must have called as soon as he’d realised what Sherlock was up to. He wanted to be angry at the blatant intrusion but with Mrs Hudson still calming the mood and the fact that her interference had probably saved John’s life, he couldn’t find it in him to be more than mildly irritated.

And then there was John. John, who was still lying on the floor unconscious. Pillow or no, he wanted to move him, to at least put him on the sofa so he’d be more comfortable, but he daren’t go near him. What if his control slipped again? What if a sleeve pulled up and they touched? He couldn’t do that to John, not ever, and most certainly not now. Since Mrs Hudson couldn’t move him on her own, John would just have to lie there, but the indignity of it nettled Sherlock. Not even Mrs Hudson’s ability could soothe him right now.

“He won’t blame you. He’s a good man, he knew the risks and you can’t tell me you didn’t expect something minor like this to happen at some point? He’ll be fine in no time, and you two can go back on your little adventures as soon as he’s up and running again.”

“It’s my fault he’s lying there on the floor. My fault he’ll die five years earlier. He shouldn’t have to make do, he deserves so much more than I can give him.” It was true. Depressing, but true. John deserved everything; he shouldn’t be stuck with a man who couldn’t be touched, who risked his life with every small gesture. Sherlock wanted John to be happy and how could anyone be happy like this?

“If he deserves happiness then he’s meant to be with you, Sherlock. You’re a good man and John knows that. Let him make these decisions for himself.” Mrs Hudson’s voice took on an edge of steel. “If I find you’ve gone and left him or driven him away on purpose I won’t be best pleased. He’s a smart man. I expect he knows what he wants.”

She got up out of her chair and headed back into the kitchen to wash up her now empty mug. Sherlock still hadn’t taken a sip of his tea.

“I know it’s hard, dear,” she said standing between the kitchen and living room, “but things have a way of working out. Let him rest and don’t beat yourself up over it.” With one final glance at John and a nod to Sherlock she made her way back downstairs through the door in the kitchen.

As soon as she left the calm that had filled the room lifted leaving Sherlock to deal with the full weight of his blame and guilt. He knew Mrs Hudson had a point. He should let the final decision be John’s, but the truth was he knew John would make the wrong decision. Emotions would overrule logic and John would stay and keep putting himself in danger. John might think he’d be happier but how could he be, knowing that touching his partner could kill him? With Victor it had been different. Victor could heal himself, his death had been a shock – that a regenerator could die. John might be a mutant but he was certainly not immortal.

He couldn’t trust John to make the decision, not the right decision, anyway. Sherlock wasn’t sure how he would cope, but surely knowing John was alive and happy somewhere was better than having him close by and dead.

He needed to think, somewhere where he could rid himself of emotions and think logically. Here in 221B with an unconscious John Watson was most definitely not that place. He didn’t really want to leave John alone, but if he couldn’t leave John now he had no hope when he woke up. He just had to remind himself that this was for John, for his health and happiness; if he made himself miserable so be it. John was all that mattered.

Decision made, he headed to the kitchen door. He forced himself not to look at John as he left the flat and walked out onto Baker Street. John might hate him at first, but he would be safe. He should be allowed to love someone he could do everything with and not risk death; he shouldn’t have to put up with a freak.

~ ~ ~

John came to slowly, his eyes flickering open. One of the first things he noticed was that he was still lying on the floor but now there was a cushion under his head – for comfort maybe? Who had put it there? Sherlock would have been John’s first answer, but that meant getting close enough to touch him. With what had happened that didn’t seem very likely.

Speaking of Sherlock, where was he? John pushed himself up on his elbows to get a better look around the room – no, definitely no Sherlock. The flat was silent, the only sounds coming from Mrs Hudson downstairs. Mrs Hudson – hadn’t she been up here? He thought he could remember seeing her face looking down on him but it was too hazy, like a memory from a dream. He could ask her later, right now he needed to find Sherlock.

“Sherlock!” He called out as he stood up. “Sherlock, if you’re hiding you need to get out here right now.” John made his way to Sherlock’s bedroom; maybe he’d gone to sleep off the high. There was no one inside – to be expected really, since when did Sherlock willingly sleep?

Sherlock had always withdrawn after near misses and this, well, this was so much worse. John ran upstairs to check his room and the bathroom – making a special point to avoid looking in the mirror – but they were both as empty as the rest of the flat.

He needed to stop panicking – Sherlock wouldn’t just leave him, not whilst he was still unconscious on the floor, not before they’d talked about– oh, who was he kidding? It would be exactly like Sherlock to run off afterwards.

How could he have been so stupid as to kiss Sherlock? What had he been thinking? And now Sherlock was gone and God knows what he’d do in his current state of mind. John had to find him and find him fast.

With that in mind he ran back downstairs into the living room; maybe Sherlock had left a clue or a note or something that would tell John where he’d gone. That was when he saw the stone cold cup of tea sitting on the cluttered coffee table. Sherlock had been gone a while then; was he on his way back already? Or maybe he’s never coming back, the more pessimistic side of John thought. No, he mustn’t think like that; at the very least Sherlock would have to come back to collect the rest of his stuff. Sherlock shouldn’t be the one to suffer because of John’s stupidity.

They’d gone for so long without any mistakes they’d both been lulled into a false sense of security. John wished he could just talk it through with Sherlock, apologise, make better plans for the future but he couldn’t do that with an empty flat. What good was his power right now when what needed fixing was a relationship and not a machine?

Searching the flat was useless, John decided, there was nothing there. Perhaps, if it had really been Mrs Hudson he’d seen, she knew where Sherlock had gone. It was a long shot but John was getting desperate.

“Mrs Hudson!” he cried bolting down the stairs to 221A. “Mrs Hudson, have you seen Sherlock?” As soon as Mrs Hudson opened the door John’s panic inexplicably calmed a little.

“Not since earlier, dear.” So it had been Mrs Hudson he’d seen before he’d passed out. That was one mystery solved at least, sadly just not the most important one right now.

“Oh, well, if you see him could you let me know?” Not that there’d be much point; if Sherlock did come home John wouldn’t need Mrs Hudson to tell him.

“Of course. Don’t worry I’m sure he’ll turn up. Sometimes they just need some time to think.” John didn’t tell her it was what Sherlock must be thinking that had John so worried.

With a forced smile, he thanked her and made his way back upstairs to the flat. This was hopeless; he needed to talk to Sherlock, he needed to make him realise that it had been an accident. If anyone was to blame, it was John. He knew Sherlock would be blaming himself, knew he’d be thinking up various ways to take himself out of the picture, to keep John safe. He’d completely ignore the fact that John didn’t want to be kept safe, that John wanted nothing more than for Sherlock to come home.

John was startled out of his thoughts by something vibrating against the coffee table. Scrabbling about on the table, pushing papers aside, he found his phone with one new text message.

Sherlock safe. Will return in 2 hours. MH

So Sherlock was safe, but did that mean physically, mentally or both? It wasn’t the physical side John was worried about. Did Mycroft know what had happened? Did he know why Sherlock had left? And what was this about returning in two hours? It seemed rather specific if Sherlock was just wandering about blaming himself, but maybe Mycroft had given Sherlock a time limit? Why did he have to be so cryptic about everything?

He hoped that Mycroft was talking some sense into him and not giving him more reasons to leave. He could see it as well, could see Mycroft chastising Sherlock for being so foolish and reckless for ever thinking he could have a relationship with John– no, he had to stop thinking like that. For all he knew Mycroft was persuading Sherlock to come back. He mustn’t jump to conclusions, he just had to wait.

Two hours was a long time. John couldn’t get his mind to shut off; it was hard when you had nothing to distract from the constant attack of inner thoughts. He made multiple cups of tea to try and take his mind off it but all that resulted in was a hasty trip to the bathroom.

He’d managed to avoid looking in the mirror earlier but now curiosity got the better of him. It wasn’t nearly as bad as he’d thought; he’d let his imagination run away with him, thoughts of pure white hair and a heavily wrinkled face had been plaguing his mind. The reality was much more subtle – his hair had a few more light patches of grey and there were a few more wrinkles on his face but it wasn’t too noticeable. If he had to guess, he’d say he looked about forty now rather than his actual thirty-five years.

Five years then, give or take. Well, that wasn’t so bad, Lestrade had had it worse. Five years was nothing, he almost wanted to laugh at it all.

Checking his watch, he realised he still had an hour before Mycroft’s two hours were up. Staring at himself in the mirror wasn’t helping matters so he made his way slowly back downstairs – maybe some television would keep his mind off of everything. Preferably something in the flat would break and he could figure out how to fix it. At least then he’d be useful, but since Sherlock was out, the chances of something breaking weren’t very high.

With a sigh, John flicked on the telly to some documentary about space. It reminded him of Sherlock and that conversation they’d had after John’s first blog post. He changed channel – murder mystery – change – Jeremy Kyle – change – some news programme looking at the ‘mutant condition’ – change. In the end he settled on an old repeat of Top Gear and waited for Sherlock’s return.

~ ~ ~

Even with the television on to distract him, it seemed like forever before he heard the dull thud of footsteps on the stairs. Turning off the TV, he had to remind himself that it might not be Sherlock; Mycroft might strive for omniscience but everyone makes mistakes. It didn’t help that a large part of him had been confident Sherlock wouldn’t be returning.

It turned out his worries were unfounded as Sherlock stepped through the door into the living room.

“Oh thank God! Where the hell were you?” John jumped up out of his chair as all the worry from the last couple of hours finally found its target. He knew he should probably be comforting Sherlock, telling him that it was alright, but right now he was just relieved Sherlock had come back at all.

“I had to think.” Sherlock couldn’t meet John’s gaze. This, more than anything that had gone before, scared John. Sherlock would always, always meet someone’s gaze. This was definitely not good.

“Could you not have thought here in the flat? I woke up to find you gone without any sort of explanation– Christ, Sherlock, do you have any idea how worried I was? I thought you’d run off, or worse!” John tried to calm himself down. Yes, Sherlock shouldn’t have run off but it wasn’t Sherlock who’d started this whole thing in the first place. “Look, about what happened earlier, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. It won’t happen again, I promise.”

Sherlock’s head jerked up at John’s apology. “You think this was your fault? Are you really that stupid?” Sherlock ignored John’s scowl. “What happened was a perfectly natural reaction to tension and adrenaline, and if it had been anyone else we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d be in bed. How is my mutation your fault?”

“It’s not, and it’s not yours either. You can’t choose what your mutation does. I knew perfectly well what would happen when I kissed you and I was still stupid enough to fucking do it anyway, okay? That is what I’m apologising for, that’s the only reason this happened.”

“If it had been anyone else…”

“But it wasn’t. I don’t want to kiss anyone else, Sherlock, so stop trying to excuse me.” John took a breath to steady himself. “Where did you even go for two hours?”

“I told you, I had to think.”

“And? What conclusions did you come to?” John wasn’t sure he wanted to hear what conclusions he’d reached if Sherlock had been blaming himself.

“That it’s not safe to be round me; that I should never have let this relationship begin, let alone continue as it has; that I won’t keep risking your life like this. That something has to change.”

“Sherlock, no. I know the risks, I saw what happened to Lestrade and I don’t care. I saw what happened to me and I don’t care.” There was no way he was going to let Sherlock talk himself into leaving.

“Then you are an idiot. It doesn’t matter,” Sherlock continued when John tried to interrupt, “I’ve already taken the necessary steps.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Had he found somewhere else to live in those two hours? “Are you moving in with Mycroft? Is that why he texted me you were safe?”

“Mycroft texted you? He said he wouldn’t tell you.”

“Tell me what? Sherlock, are you moving out? Because you know common decency means you’re supposed to tell your partner and flatmate if you’re going to leave him!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course I’m not moving out and there is no force on Earth that would make me want to move in with Mycroft.”

“Then what the hell are you talking about Sherlock?” If he wasn’t moving out did he expect John to leave? He’d said the necessary arrangements had been made, surely even Sherlock would have spoken to him about that before kicking him out?

Instead of an answer, Sherlock simply held out his hand to John, his ungloved hand.

“What are you doing?” John looked at Sherlock like he’d lost his mind.

“Take it.”

“What? No! Sherlock, what the hell are you playing at?” Was this a test? Was Sherlock trying to see if John would fall for it, if John had learnt his lesson?

“Do you trust me?” Sherlock didn’t look like this was part of some game. He looked earnest and vulnerable. John had never seen Sherlock like this before.

“Of course I trust you, but I meant what I said earlier. It won’t happen again.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Just take my hand, John. I know what I’m doing.”

John hesitated. He knew Sherlock wouldn’t want to hurt him but at the same time he couldn’t see how touching Sherlock wouldn’t drain him. He had to prove that he still trusted him and if this was how Sherlock wanted to do it, then so be it. John wasn’t a coward, and now he knew what to expect. If things went wrong he hoped it would give him enough time to pull away.

Slowly, John reached out to Sherlock’s hand. There was a brief moment as his fingertips hovered over Sherlock’s open palm where he wanted nothing more than to draw his hand back to safety but he didn’t. Sherlock’s skin felt smooth, his hands still a little cold from outside. And John was fine. There wasn’t any flow of life, he was still standing, still fully in control. It didn’t make any sense.

“What the…? No,” he said looking into Sherlock’s eyes in awe, “really? You went...Why?”

Sherlock smiled at the look of wonder on John’s face. “I realised that I couldn’t leave you without hurting you and I refused to let you leave me. Since the only thing causing all the problems was my mutation I decided to get rid of it.”

John was stunned. Not only at Sherlock taking away his mutation but at the fact that Sherlock had considered John’s feelings, that leaving John would hurt him. He was practically speechless. “You...How...When?”

“Mycroft is always keeping an eye on me and when he realised what I was planning to do he arranged an appointment at one of his mutant specialist facilities. Plenty of people have taken the cure by now so there was no danger.” Sherlock smiled.

“I…,” John blinked. “Sherlock you didn’t need to do that. I honestly didn’t care. I was happy, weren’t you?”

“You’re being an idiot again. Of course I was, but I won’t risk taking your life. I should have done this months ago.”

“I would never have asked you to do this for me, Sherlock.” Even as he told Sherlock that he could have lived happily without this he was marvelling at the feel of Sherlock’s skin under his.

“John, the cure has been around for years now. In those years there has never been anyone I wanted to touch enough to bother taking it.”

John smiled happily up at Sherlock. “I love you too, you great idiot.”

Their second kiss was a lot less dramatic than their first. There were no fainting bodies or life-energy induced highs, just the feel of the other’s mouth on theirs, the play of tongue and teeth as they both explored the new sensation, both active participants this time.

“One thing, though,” John said when they pulled apart, “I’m keeping my ability.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Of course you are. Who else would fix all the things that keep breaking round here?” John laughed before once again claiming Sherlock’s mouth with his own.

~ ~ ~

Life continued as normal at 221B Baker Street, which is to say as abnormally as usual. Sherlock still rushed out on cases and John still happily tagged along. Only now, Sherlock seemed freer. He was more friendly towards Lestrade and his team, less likely to blurt out personal secrets in front of everyone. Donovan had stood in stunned silence for an entire fifteen minutes when Sherlock had complimented her on the cut of her clothes.

Some things never changed, though. John had to feel a little sorry for Anderson, but apparently Sherlock’s hatred of him was not something he’d ever had to work on. John had laughed when Sherlock explained that the cure only took away mutant abilities – it didn’t grant superhuman tolerance.

Some people claimed mutations made people mad and dangerous, but John knew it wasn’t the power, it was the person. John had fallen in love with Sherlock the person and, with or without his power, that’s how he would stay.

galaxy_song: pic#115360336galaxy_song on March 2nd, 2012 06:08 am (UTC)
I love this so much, poor Sherlock but so glad it worked out in the end. It was a nice twist of how John got shot and his limp:)
wordquandary: Baker Streetwordquandary on March 4th, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC)
Yeah he got a bad lot in this fic. I love the whole leg/arm wound thing Moffat and Gatiss did in the series, so when I got to that point I was like "of course this would be why he has a psychosomatic limp!"

I'm glad you liked it. :)
Megan | Mikkelmahmfic on April 5th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
so beautiful!!
wordquandarywordquandary on April 13th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
rilakkuma_donutrilakkuma_donut on April 12th, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
To be honest, I don't really know anything about X-Men, but I really enjoyed the idea of random gifts/curses being distributed randomly throughout the world's population (it almost makes sense, too--genetic mutations, Nature's experiments taken to the extreme), and the way you fleshed out Sherlock's backstory and how his power affected his relationships with people up until he meets John was perfect and made an incredible amount of sense. What really took my breath away, though, was John's backstory--the absolute visceral horror of the whole story, John's goodness and selflessness and strength shining above all even as he struggles with his own sense of guilt and shame and powerlessness, and of course he'd be messed up after that, of course his therapist would mistake it for PTSD and he wouldn't be able to explain, and of course Sherlock's insane adventures would be the only thing that could keep him occupied and not thinking about the horrors he's outlived. I had hoped that Sherlock might address it at some point, and that he'd help John accept the past and move on, but I suppose the fic wasn't quite long enough for one recovery process of such magnitude, let alone two (including Sherlock's own--between the two of them, they've got more issues than a truckload of Time Magazine). I also liked the way Sherlock and John's confrontation played out, plus the circumstances leading up to the decisive incident with the kiss and Lestrade's own backstory, but I do wonder: why didn't Sherlock go through with the cure after the accident with Lestrade? Did he consider taking the cure in the time leading up to the kiss, and if so, why didn't he go through with it? If the cure was supposed to be terribly painful or invasive or something, and you made that more clear within the story, it might be easier to understand Sherlock's actions in-story; as it is, he looks unthinking at best and downright selfish at worst.

Also, just out of curiosity, why is it that Sherlock's power didn't grant him an extended lifespan and only gave him that "high" of energy?
wordquandarywordquandary on April 13th, 2012 12:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed John's backstory. I had originally seen it as a Sherlock-centric fic, which unfortunately John's past took a bit of a side line. If I'd had the time I would have liked to flesh him out a bit more, show more of his own struggles. I originally included his backstory as an extra example of how 'superpowers' can be a curse more than a blessing, and as a way to show Sherlock that terrible things from the past can be overcome. I don't think it really worked, but liked the idea of John's psychosomatic limp and mis-diagnosis of PTSD too much to leave it out.

In my head the reason he never took the cure before was because, as selfish as it is, there was a small part of him that still liked the idea of being 'special'. Despite knowing it for the curse it was, having killed Victor and hurt Lestrade, there was a part of him that didn't want to end the possibility of such an easy high. In my head-timeline I had the cure coming out after the attack on Lestrade, and that at first it was a high-risk thing to take. He could have taken it before hurting John, but I think despite John's acceptance of him, Sherlock was still holding back, thinking that when John left him he would be devastated and he could find solace in getting high. The accident with John opened Sherlock's eyes to how selfish he was being and how, if he wanted John to stay and be safe then he should take the cure, and if John left him then at least it wouldn't be because he killed him. Basically Sherlock is selfish. I agree that the ending is a little rushed though, I wanted to write more but I wrote this for a friend's birthday and I wanted her to get it on the day. Also I suck at endings. I lose all my mojo by the time I get to them.

As for why he doesn't get an extended lifespan, I modelled his power on Rogue's from X-Men (the film version). She absorbs other people's abilities when she touches them, killing them if she holds on too long. Sherlock in ACD canon was a drug user, so I thought if his power is to absorb energy from others, why not have that energy give him the highs akin to drug taking. I mean all that energy he takes from people is going to make you buzz a bit!

keerawakeerawa on September 2nd, 2013 03:00 am (UTC)
Nicely done! Although, I had to wonder why Sherlock, as concerned and careful as he had to be, hadn't gone for the cure when it first came out, or after the incident with Lestrade, rather than waiting for a near-disaster with John.

I particularly liked John struggling with his decision to keep his mutation a secret, and trying to be an ally while using the power that gave him. The horrible bullying, the 'freidnly fire' incident with Doctor Phillips and him, ugh.

Edited at 2013-09-02 03:02 am (UTC)
keerawakeerawa on February 8th, 2016 12:01 am (UTC)
Whew. Thank God that the cure exists!