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06 March 2011 @ 11:03 pm
Holmestice Entry 2010  
Fic for flawedamythyst: A Silent Withdrawal

Title: A Silent Withdrawal
Author: ruyu
Recipient: flawedamythyst
Characters/Pairings: John/Sherlock
Rating: PG-15
Word Count: 3,758
Warnings: Angst, depression, mentions of abduction
Summary: It took another life-threatening situation for John to face the facts: Sherlock Holmes was not going to change for him.
A/N: Beta'd by the wonderful, amazing madrona_8

A Silent Withdrawl

John stood stock still as he watched Sherlock pass the blade from one hand to another, his gloved fingers caressed the hilt of the knife, his knuckles wrapped lovingly around it, letting it lie comfortably in his palm like it was another part of his body.

“I won’t say I’m impressed, because I not,” Sherlock told the darkness of the deserted warehouse, eyes moving briskly with each sound the building produced. After finding bits of packaging twine on one of the bodies, the detective had tracked the group to a particular set of warehouses. John never bothered trying to figure that bit out and Sherlock always liked it when he kept John in suspense.

From his hidden position just outside the door, keeping an eye out for Sherlock’s blind spots, John watched, transfixed, as the detective swung the nearly 18 centimeter knife. John wasn’t even the enemy and he was wary of the weapon Sherlock held. He knew how sharp that kind of knife was, could remember the burning slide of it as it torn through gear, cloth and skin.

John nearly missed the man coming up behind Sherlock, but after tearing his eyes away from Sherlock’s knife, he aimed with steadfast hands and fired a single, piercing shot. Sherlock didn’t even flinch at the sound; maybe it was a sound he welcomed.

“You’d think criminals would be more careful,” Sherlock drawled, seemingly uninterested in the situation he found himself in, but he kept his movements careful nonetheless, “but it’s ridiculous how messy they can be.”

John nearly snorted at Sherlock’s tone; the man was just as ridiculous when it came to taunting criminals. But John couldn’t imagine the detective any other way - wouldn’t want him any other way.

After killing the first of three that John knew to be inside the deserted warehouse, he moved into the consuming darkness, dropping to a knee as his eyes grew accustomed to the dark. The dust drifting in and out of the harsh light reminded him of the burning sunlight as it pierced their station tents during the war, highlighting the fine desert sand that penetrated their each and every breath.

As John looked at Sherlock to check on him, the man’s eyes instantly met his even though John knew he couldn’t see him. It was impossible. But Sherlock always seemed to know exactly where John was and that comforted him more than he could ever say. He wished he could have felt that kind of blind comfort when he was in Afghanistan.

Even in this darkness there is light.

“I don’t even want to tell you how you messed up, you’re far too idiotic for even that,” Sherlock scoffed and that’s all it took for one of the assailants to shift and John was there, the butt of his gun connecting with the man’s skull.

There was nothing left to do but wait for the final man. If John knew anything about Sherlock, it was that he was exceptionally good at waiting.

Sherlock looked nonchalantly around him, stopping briefly as he reached John, acknowledging his deeds with unspoken words. That’s all John ever needed from him - recognition, if nothing else. He took what he could get from Sherlock Holmes.

“Is there a reason the delivery boy had to die? Or was he simply in your way? I must say, you chose a foolish way to dispose of the body,” the detective snickered and then added, “Your idea, was it?”

A cold gun touched the back of John’s neck before the words finished leaving Sherlock’s mouth and John felt instantaneously nauseous. He couldn’t help it. A feverish body pressed up against his back, urging him to stand. “Up. Give me that gun. There’s a good man.”

“Tell him I’m getting away,” the raspy voice commanded, wrapping a large hand around John’s wrist. John took a shallow breath and remembered what Sherlock had told him months ago, after the ‘pool incident’.

“I’ll know, John.”

“You’ll know what?”

“Next time I’ll know when you’re being forced. I can recognize it now. Unfortunately.”

“But what if...”

“No, John. I will know it.”

“So if it happens again, do I just... keep going?”

“Yes.”

“And you’ll do what?”

“I’ll do as you say, but I’ll know, John. I’ll save you.”

John, I’ll save you.


John’s breathing slowed and a kind of peace settled over him, a peace that only came when you had complete trust in another. He trusted Sherlock to save him; save him like John had saved him countless time before.

“Sherlock, he’s getting away!” John shouted as he tugged against his attackers hands. Sherlock’s eyes flew to his in the darkness and John nearly screamed for him, but that wasn’t the plan - Sherlock hated when John didn’t go with the plan.

John watched as Sherlock twisted his features to look angry and frustrated. “Which way, John!?”

The fingers on his wrist gripped tighter. “Upstairs,” the man whispered, digging the gun into the soft skin of his neck, abrasive and threatening.

“Upstairs!” he echoed, smothering the frustration in his voice, tortured by what he was saying. John was reminded how very wrong it felt to lie to Sherlock; how against his nature it was. Even if Sherlock knew... even if he knew.

John exhaled sharply as the man invaded his space further, breathing hotly against his ear, fingertips rubbing the delicate skin of his wrist. It was all making John sick and he vowed to himself (again) to never, ever to get into this kind of situation again. “Good boy. If you’ll just come with me, we can sort all of this out nice and quiet like.” As John saw the tension in Sherlock’s frame, the tendons of his neck straining, John knew that was a vow he couldn’t possibly keep. He wondered how many times this would happen, how many faceless criminals it would take before Sherlock couldn’t save him, before Sherlock realized that John was something that could be lost - irreplaceable.

I think I’d like to tell you...

Sherlock disappeared to the second story landing and John’s attacker led him from the building into the dank London night.

~

When John regained consciousness there was heat and pain like no other pulsing through his veins. Even if he was buried atop the highest snow-topped mountain, it wouldn’t cool the liquid fire that was running through his body. He took a fiery breath and his world returned with blinding clarity.

“John...”

Sherlock was pinning him to the ground, all elbows and knees, trapping him. With a violent exhale, all that inner lava flowed right out of him, pooling on his lips and stomach, searing his skin. He trembled violently from all the heat he couldn’t escape from.

“Breathe, John, breathe.”

A second attempt at opening his eyes revealed a room too large for his small body and why was Sherlock so far way; so far from his hands that even if his arms tripled in length he couldn’t touch the man. Frightened by his own thoughts and worried by how much distance was between the two of them, John clenched his eyes shut and moaned in agony and sheer confusion.

“John... please, calm down, breathe.”

His next few breaths were more manageable, especially when there were ice cold hands on his burning cheeks, fingertips touching, exploring his throat, jaw, lip and eyes; tears he didn’t know he’d shed smeared away beneath the man’s thumbs.

With calmness came clarity - and self awareness. Each new wound he felt twisted something tighter inside him until he thought he’d never move again, but Sherlock was there when he blinked his eyes open again, suddenly not as far away as he’d thought he’d been.

Together they breathed and shared the stillness that had settled over them; John lying limp on the floor as Sherlock straddled his body possessively, their foreheads pressed together.

“I’ve got you...” Sherlock promised breathlessly against his lips and John decided it was a fine time to pass out again. Before his tired eyes closed, he saw the dust of the warehouse drifting around them, settling in Sherlock’s midnight hair like fine snow.

I think I’d like to tell you... now at the end of the world when things don’t even matter anymore...

~

Sherlock had known after their first meeting that John had a confident, optimistic temperament and the man never found it reasonable to worry over things he could not change. Sherlock appreciated that in a partner - the lack of fussing about things that were truly irrelevant. John took it all in stride, including Sherlock’s ever changing whims, experiments and his vague or nonexistent knowledge of simple subjects. All in all, John was perfect for his lifestyle. He filled that empty space in Sherlock’s collection without actually taking up space.

But now John was receding from that space and Sherlock was clueless as how to reel him back in; how to reiterate to John how necessary he’d become to dealing with the world and other people in general. The supportive barrier that John had become was slipping away, leaving both John and himself vulnerable and uneasy around each other.

It had only been a week since the warehouse but the damage was already apparent. After the first few nights when Sherlock had sat on the floor next to John’s bed as he recovered from the worst of his wounds - lacerations, a minor concussion, major bruising to his face, torso and wrists - John stopped speaking. Not ignoring Sherlock - but simply not acknowledging the world around him. The tea John had fixed for himself sat untouched, the paper Sherlock had laid out for him was unread.

The fading bruises on John’s faced glowed against his friend’s sallow complexion. The thinning lines on his wrist became even more pronounced as his companion continued to lose weight - no matter how often Sherlock brought him food. After leaving John to his thoughts, Sherlock left on a case and returned a few hours later to find that John had a least eaten some. He’d never wished for miracles before but John was making him pray to some invisible thing that people prayed to. Realistically, he knew it wouldn’t work, but he was hoping desperately that he would be heard.

This new John was not to be ignored or ushered quiet with snappy remarks - Sherlock didn’t have the heart or the patience to anymore. From the moment he walked into the flat (and even while on cases, he discovered), John Watson had his complete attention, even when he did not have John’s. Frustrated by the simple need of wanting John to look at him, Sherlock found little else to occupy his time while in the flat; he couldn’t bare to leave John. The strange thing was that John appeared to be productive while Sherlock was away. The household was cleaned regularly, the post was sorted and the bills paid. John was a zombie otherwise and it made Sherlock ache in an unpleasant way when he realized what John was doing.

The time was fast approaching when John would return to work, leaving before Sherlock was awake and often arriving when Sherlock was out. The time for a resolution to their situation was running out and he feared what John might do if they were to see even less of each other than they already did. He’d lose him then if he hadn’t already lost him now.

~

Sherlock let things fester, as if it was an experiment rotting away in their sink, it’s unspoken words and tension brewing like poison under the skin. John imagined that’s why Sherlock’s relationship with Mycroft was so strained; they’d been gnawing at it for years until it’d become infected and neither of them took the time to treat it. As a doctor and (he tells himself) a normal adult male of good moral standings, things need to be settled, tended to, resolved. It’s naive of him to try to make everyone happy, but he tries anyway.

Despite his own preaching and ideals, John Watson can’t bare to bring this... thing between Sherlock and himself to a finish, because this time - it’s the end. He’s grieved silently over it in his bed, shuddered with the knowledge that he was going to leave Sherlock Holmes. It felt sinful to think such a thing; after weeks of contemplating and convincing himself that there were things that would not change and one of those things was Sherlock Holmes’ feelings toward him.

“He wondered how many times this would happen, how many faceless criminals it would take before Sherlock couldn’t save him,” he recalled thinking. How many would it take? Or better yet, how many threats against John’s life would it take before Sherlock even noticed John’s true value? Self-preservation and the cold, hard truth about Sherlock Holmes’ emotional state persuaded him to choose what was really best for him. Not what he wanted, but what was best.

What made him ache the most was knowing that if he stayed and left things as they were before, he would end up dying - loving a man who could not love him back.

John looked up from his chair as Sherlock left their flat and the tears that were always threatening to escape spilled over his cheeks and despair took him again.

~

It only took one phone call and it felt like drowning in the icy water of the Thames, gasping for warm air and finding only cold, dirty water slipping through quivering lips.

“John?”

When Sarah said John’s name, Sherlock could vividly imagine the motion of her lips as he pronounced it. Her bottom lip dropping for the ‘j’, teeth barely visible for the ‘o’ and the ‘h” and at long last, the tight press of her tongue against the roof her mouth for the ‘n”. Such a dirty mouth speaking such a brilliant name. “No,” he said with an irritated growl.

“Is this Sherlock?”

She sounded almost amused and Sherlock had to picture her falling on a scalpel to keep himself in check. “What do you want?

“Just to speak to John and let him know what time to come in on Monday. Could you tell him to call me back?”

Sherlock knew she had no idea what was going on between John and him. She couldn’t possibly know, but she still represented a growing wedge between them. You can’t have him, he’s mine! he wanted to scream. Mine, mine, mine and I can’t let this continue. I need him. It’s all become so useless without him. Without John, there is nothing left...

“He’s going to leave me...” he said breathlessly into the phone.

“Sherlock?”

“He’s...” he choked out, fear and longing rising from the pit of his stomach, “he’s been here, but he’s never really been here. He’s a ghost to me.”

Sarah was graciously quiet on the other line, save for her soft breathing that Sherlock was inexplicably soothed by.

“What can I do... I... how do I get him back?” And like all those times before when he’d prayed for John, the desperation overwhelmed him - the need to be heard and the nearly hysterical need to be answered. This was one thing that Sherlock Holmes could not do on his own.

“Oh, Sherlock...” Sarah said sorrowfully. “He just needs... more time, that’s all.”

Sherlock sighed despondently at the generic words. Why did he even bother? “If I allow anymore time to pass, there will be nothing left to fix between us.”

Sarah was noticeably silent after he spoke, the tension growing in the empty space where words once resided. “Sherlock? What is John to you?”

It was a test, perhaps one that he’d been waiting to take all of his life. The words emerged from every corning of his body as if they’d settled there long ago and were waiting to be joined again in their proper home, wrapped around his fluttering heart, pouring past his lips with both heat and joy, but also longing and regret of the time that had been wasted.

“John Watson is everything.”

“Then I think you should know that he’s in love with you.”

~

John returned from shopping around 2 in the afternoon, bags held loosely in his still tender hands. It had been a beautiful day. The cold air was made more bearable as the sun cast its rays upon London, hovering lazily over the city. It was a brief, albeit welcome break in John’s hopeless mood and he returned to their flat in slightly better spirits than when he’d left.

He found his mobile duct taped to the refrigerator, noticing that Sherlock had taken a picture of himself and replaced his old background with it. He couldn’t help but smile at it and laughed until he cried, standing there in their kitchen, filled with so many great memories.

He checked his messages and found a text from a number he didn’t recognize. It read, “Stay with me.” Another one from earlier in the day from the same number said, “She said that when you say it out loud, it’s like making a wish come true.” John smiled at the last one, musing over who could have sent it; even if it was an accident, he was curious as to whom is was meant for. He taped the phone back to the fridge, it seemed like a good place for it. Sherlock’s face smiled at him on the screen, warped by the wrinkled tape that held it in place.

“She said that when you say it out loud...” a voice said behind him and John recognized Sherlock’s smooth tenor and for a moment he forgot about everything that had happened between them and basked in his voice, “...it’s like making a wish come true.”

He closed his eyes and breathed, smelling the faint trace of Sherlock’s aftershave. The tap of Sherlock’s shoes against the base of the chair just behind John made him even more aware of the detective’s proximity to him. He felt himself flush and the knot that had been forming ever since Sherlock first spoke pulled tighter in this chest. It was torturous and so tempting just to speak to him, he only had to twist and he’d be there, within arms reach, kissing reach... Stop! John! Please don’t do this to yourself....

Hesitant fingers touched his neck, sliding softly around to brush against his adam’s apples, pressing gently into this vocal chords - reaching for his voice that had not been heard in weeks. His jaw was held in the man’s sensual hands, thumbs brushing up his jaw line to his overly sensitive ears. Sherlock’s heat grew behind him and John wanted to fall into him, to enclose himself within the man because life without Sherlock Holmes was no life at all it seemed.

“Sherlock,” he found himself moaning, mouth falling open as lips followed the same path as his fingers had; light kisses against the back of his neck, moving slowly around him until Sherlock was wrapped around around him pressing kisses into the base of his throat.

John was on the verge of tears. Whether it would be tears of pain or relief, he wasn’t sure, but there would be tears. A sob escaped his gaping mouth and Sherlock froze around him.

“I need you to tell me everything,” Sherlock told him, pulling back from his neck but keeping his arms securely around John’s smaller frame. “I just need to know...”

John succumbed to temptation and turned in Sherlock arms, putting them face to face, closer than they’d ever been before. His voice felt new to him, even though he’d spoken since the warehouse - just not to Sherlock. “Need to know what?”

Sherlock smiled just at the sound of his voice and it both warmed and tore John's heart apart because he’d been deliberately tormenting them both. It had been the only way to detach himself from Sherlock.

“Do you love me, John Watson?”

He knew his eyes were the size of saucers but the words sounded so shocking coming out of the detective mouth.

“Because I’m fairly certain I love you.”

There were no words in John’s mind, only bright sparks of the most beautiful colors John had ever seen. His body swayed with the overwhelming rush of pure rapture running through him. Sherlock looked worried and unsure for a moment as John grew unsteady in his arms and John wanted so badly to just...

“I... I wanted...” John tried, but words were still not forming in his brain.

“Wait, John, let me,” Sherlock began. He unwound his arms from John’s body and held John’s shaking hands between his own. “I am selfish and thoughtless. I am apathetic and inconsiderate, but I know that you care about me anyways. You treat me like a human being and I know, in your eyes, I couldn’t never be an outcast. You make me eat and sleep and....” Sherlock stumbled at bit, “you inquire about my health and mood.

“After the pool and just after the warehouse, I was just so happy that you weren’t injured. You woke up in my arms and the look you had on your face... like you’d never been happier to see me in your life. But now... you’ve been gone all this time, haven’t you?”

“Sherlock... I’m so sorry...”

“You’ve got nothing be sorry about. You’re doing what I do all the time! Why didn’t you tell me what an idiot I am! How I treated you! I’m surprised you’ve stayed this long...”

“I couldn’t leave you, not at first.”

“But now you can?”

“I thought I was going to die for you, knowing that you would never love me.”

The words that had been sitting like a stone wall in John’s mind crumbled and he felt the weight of his lift from his shoulders.

Sherlock pulled John against him, leaning down to press their lips together, very much like Sherlock had done that night in the warehouse. “You are everything. You are all I have. Without you there is nothing.”

“I know... I know... without you there was nothing.” And John couldn't speak anymore because Sherlock was pressed against him, kissing him like a starved man, like a lonely half-soul who’d suddenly found his other part in the bleak nothingness of life.

I think I’d like to tell you, John thought to himself as Sherlock pressed his hands beneath his shirt, now at the end of the world when things don’t even matter anymore... that I love you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
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Testiclat McJunkpunch: Cuddly bamfstupid_drawings on March 11th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC)
Awwwwwwwwwwwwww. Oh my awww. So heart-wrenching and sweet.
Ruyuruyu on March 12th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
Thank you, love.
MilwaukeeMeg: fantasticmilwaukeemeg on March 30th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
I loved it, you managed to make Sherlock-John dynamics interesting and not cliche! :D Really nice job.
hbomb90 on April 27th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
This legit made me cry.It might be because I'm in the middle of a 36 hour exam and need sleep and food,but I'm blaming it on the mental image of Sherlock breaking down on the phone to Sarah. </3 I was so glad this had a happy (if melancholy) ending, I'm not sure how I would cope with heartbreak while trying to write an essay on cultural depictions of difference!
Ruyuruyu on May 1st, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I was in such a rush when I wrote this I was worried about the outcome. XOXO
greencurtainsgreencurtains on September 2nd, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
It's so lovely it hurts :')
Ruyuruyu on September 2nd, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!