Sherlock BBC Prompting Meme

"we get all sorts around here."


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Prompting Part XXXIV
Giggles at the Palace
sherlockbbc_fic
Please check the Sticky Post to find the newest active part and post your prompts there.

GUIDELINES

  • Anon posting is not required, but most definitely allowed. If you think you recognise an anon, keep it to yourself and don’t out them. IP tracking is off, and will remain that way.

  • Multiple fills are encouraged, and all kinds of fills are accepted! Fic, art, vids, cosplay, interpretive dance — whatever. Go wild! :D

  • Don’t reprompt until TWO parts after the last posting of the prompt.

  • RPF (real person fic, i.e. fic involving the actors themselves) is not supported at this meme.

  • Concrit is welcome, but kinkshaming, hijacking, and flaming are not tolerated.


THE FILLED PROMPTS POST
When you fill a prompt, please use the appropriate Filled Prompts Post to archive your fill (there are instructions on the actual post).

If the part you wanted isn't up yet, just wait and one of the archivists will get to it, but please, once it is up, make sure you post your fills there according to the guidelines. DO NOT skip out on doing this because it seems like too much effort. If you want your fill to make it to the Delicious archive, that’s the way to do it.

Do not be afraid to ask questions about how it works if you are confused! The mods will be happy to explain.

WARNINGS/OFFENSIVE WORDING IN PROMPTS
Please consider warning for prompts that may trigger people (and also for fills, because some people read in flat view) and phrasing prompts in a manner that strives to be respectful.

Things which you might want to consider warning for include: Rape/Non-Con, Death, Suicidal Thoughts, Self-Harm, Underage Relationships, among others.

That being said, this is a kink meme. As such, there will be prompts that could offend you in a number of different ways. Not every prompt will have a trigger warning, and not every prompt will rub you the right way. If you have an issue with a specific prompt, feel free to bring it up in a discussion that takes place off the meme. However, flaming will not be tolerated regardless of origin.

You are highly encouraged to scroll past any prompt that you dislike.

Remember: be civil, be friendly, but don’t be shy!

THINGS THAT MAKE BROWSING THE MEME EASIER FOR EVERYONE
Please nest your fills. Doing so will make it easier for archivists to save your fills to the Delicious archive. Using subject lines will also help people reading the meme in flatview keep track of what’s happening. Finally, titling your fills (even if it’s something silly) will be helpful to those tracking a lot of prompts or scrolling through the meme.

PROMPT FREEZES
Depending on the rate of activity, there may or may not be a prompt freeze when a part reaches 2000 and 4500 comments. However, there will be one when it reaches 7000. After the 7000 comments freeze, a new part will be posted, and all prompting should happen on the new part.

CONTACTING MODS
Your mods for this meme are ellie_hell, charname, anonspock and anonbach. If you have any questions, concerns, comments about anything at all on the meme feel free to send a PM or contact us via the Page-A-Mod post.

MEME LINKS
Pinboard Archive - Delicious Archive - Guide to the Archive
Filled Prompts Posts: Parts 1-23 - Parts 24+ - Spoiler Free
The Glorious FAQ - Page-A-Mod

Flat View of This Page - Newest Page in Flatview - Newest Page of the Meme

Love Post - Chatter Post - Searching Post
Concrit Post - Story Announcement Post - Orphan Post
Spoiler Free Prompt Post - Overflow Post

Links to previous prompting parts

OTHER LINKS AND AFFILIATES
sherlock_rant: A place to rant about or discuss anything with few to no restrictions.
sherlock_rpf: This is a kinkmeme for RPF about the show.
sherlockcrit: A multi-fandom betaing/concrit community, with a focus on BBC Sherlock.
sherlockbbc: A community dedicated to the BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.
Useful resources for Sherlock and LiveJournal.
Sherlock screencaps.

Series 3 Spoiler Policy


  • 1

Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

(Anonymous)
TW: Abuse, probable underage depending on the filler

John doesn't think much about his childhood, but who does? And when he does, he figures it was pretty normal.

When he and Sherlock start a relationship, though, even though Sherlock doesn't much understand a lot of social norms, he can tell something's wrong. Maybe it's the scars on John's body that John can't explain. Maybe it's the way he seems weirdly skittish about actually having sex, even though he never refuses. (Please do not have Sherlock going ahead with having sex despite John's nervous/unenthusiastic body language.) It's a mystery, and besides that, someone hurt John. Sherlock intends to find out.

Angst, hurt/comfort, Sherlock poking his nose into John's past, and going slow and careful with their relationship, please!

Bonuses:

- John hardly remembers anything from before he turned 18, but thinks this is normal

- Sarah was always confused about why John never made a move when they were together, despite the times when he stayed over

- A story behind why he keeps insisting he's not gay, even though Sherlock can easily tell that John's attracted to men

Re: Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

(Anonymous)
Seconding. I read something about this, where people who suffered abuse/traumatic events didn't remember it, or 'disassociated' from themselves.

Re: Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

(Anonymous)
Oh, it's definitely real, I'm the poster girl for dissociative amnesia. The weirdest things can trigger a suppressed memory to surface. 20 years later, and I still get the occasional surprise memory popping to the surface, like an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

My most recent trigger was brushing my teeth with a new type of toothpaste - the taste triggered the memory of brushing my teeth after a particularly violent sexual assault, which brought back the whole memory. Brand new tube of toothpaste, straight into the trash.

Thirding this prompt!

Re: Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

It can go both ways as well, I have a friend who knows they were abused as a child, but when they talk about it, they can black out for the rest of the day, sometimes to the point of reacting violently or passing out and waking up in hospital with no memory of the day before.

Re: Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

Working on a fill for this one. Should have part 1 up by later tonight/early tomorrow.

Re: Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

(Anonymous)
Fourthing! I've dealt with this issue too.
(There was a fic I was reading and lost track of where Sherlock deduced abuse in John's past by looking at photographs. . Anyone know what happened to that one?)

Re: Past Abuse, JohnLock hurt/comfort

(Anonymous)
I would write this because I have/currently am dealing with this issue but I couldn't do the prompt justice because:

1)I just got into this fandom so I have no idea how to write John/Sherlock

2)I can't write angst well.

So I fifth it :(

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 1/a

Part 1: “I swear I’m not gay”

John looked at Sarah over the rim of his wineglass. She was laughing, her cheeks slightly flushed from the two glasses she’d consumed at dinner. Her spoon hovered over the last bite of crème brulee.

“Now you’ve heard my darkest confessions.” She said, dipping her spoon into the desert, “So tell me, what were you like in secondary school?”

He gave her a self-deprecating smile and shrugged, ignoring the roil of nerves that flooded the pit of his stomach. “I was dull. I studied a lot, hopeless with girls. Nothing very exciting or scandalous.”

John wasn’t really sure whether any of that was true. He didn’t have many memories of the first few years after his mother died, but his A-levels had been good enough to get him into one of the best schools. He didn’t have to be Sherlock to deduce that he would have spent most of his time with his books and not with girls.

Sarah swallowed the dessert. “Oh come on, you can’t tell me that you didn’t grow out your hair or wear ridiculous clothes. You finished in…what? 1987? There must be photographic evidence of you in a red leather jacket or, at the very least, tiny jogging shorts.”

He gave her joke the smile it deserved, then changed the subject. They polished off the bottle of wine and John flagged down the waiter for the check.

In the cab, Sarah held his hand and rested her head on his shoulder. Her body language screamed, “you and going to get lucky tonight.”

Tension knotted his gut. John told himself he was just nervous because he hadn’t been with a woman since before Afghanistan. Sex is like riding a bicycle, he thought to himself. He tried to remember the last time he actually had sex and winced. He’d been so inebriated, the next morning he couldn’t recall the girl’s name or even what she looked like. He thought back to university and his last girlfriend. She complained that she only saw him when he was drunk. Of course, with his study schedule, he never had any time on weekdays and on weekends…

Well, Harry wasn’t the only person in the family who used drinking as a coping mechanism. John gulped as the cab stopped in front Sarah’s flat. He felt woefully unprepared for what was about to happen. He hadn’t had a proper girlfriend in over a decade and literally could not remember the last time he had sex while sober.

He stepped out of the cab and took Sarah’s hand as she stepped over the curb. She unlocked the door, leaned into John, and whispered in his ear, “Care for a nightcap?”

He knew that was code for, “Come inside and shag me senseless.” He froze for a moment. It was their fifth date. He knew Sarah had been ready since their second, but there had always been a good reason to say no. John had to get up early the next morning, or an urgent text would come in from Sherlock, or Sarah had a touch too much wine and he was not the sort to take advantage. He had no excuses tonight.

The long cab ride had left Sarah clear-eyed and sober. A line formed between her brows as she waited for John’s reply. “Yeah, that would be nice.”

She kissed him as soon as the door shut behind them. John saw it coming and managed to control his reaction. He forced himself to relax into her embrace and move his lips against hers. He tried to focus on the wet heat of her mouth, the soft warmth of her breasts against his chest, the pressure of her hands against his back. Her palms moved lower and she ground her pelvis against the front of his pants. For a moment, John felt a jolt of shock, but he forced his mind back to the feeling of Sarah’s body against his own. He willed himself to feel arousal, to enjoy the sensations, but the only thing he felt was growing panic.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 1/b

He gently pulled away from her kiss and took a step back. She looked at him, puzzled. His cheeks flamed with embarrassment and he rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m sorry, Sarah. It’s just…well…I’ve been alone a long time…and with everything…I’m just not ready.”

Yeah, like that clarified anything, he thought.

“I want to try again. I just need more time to get accustomed.” He continued.

The line reappeared between Sarah’s brows. “It’s Sherlock, isn’t it?”

John stared at her for a moment in confusion. “Sherlock? What’s Sherlock got to do with anything?”

“Really?” she replied in an exasperated tone, “You expect me to explain it? Listen, why don’t you go home to Sherlock and ask him the reason that you are not spending the night with me.”

The realization hit John like a ton of bricks, “Oh, no, Sarah, I swear I’m not gay. We’re not like that. We’re just really good mates.”

She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Right, listen. I suddenly feel a headache coming on. I think it’s best if we wait until tomorrow to continue this conversation.”

His face heated again. Feeling mixture of chagrin and relief, he returned to the sanctuary of his flat on Baker Street.

Sherlock was playing the violin when John stepped inside. He couldn’t tell whether he was playing that experimental piece again or whether he was just making noises at random. Sherlock’s brows rose when he entered, but he kept on playing.

John headed into the kitchen and pulled a lager out of the fridge. He shook his head at the cling film-covered brain that occupied the middle shelf, but couldn’t be bothered to lodge a complaint.

He sat in his chair and took a long sip. Sherlock’s violin emitted a piercing shriek.

“Sherlock.”

Sherlock ignored him.

“Sherlock.” He said louder. His flatmate looked up. “Could you give it a rest for a bit?”

He didn’t respond, but packed the violin into its case, then threw himself onto the sofa. “Things didn’t go well with Sarah, I assume.”

John sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He could almost hear Sherlock’s eyeroll. “I don’t know why you waste your time with her.”

“I thought you liked Sarah.”

Sherlock grunted. “I don’t have a problem with her. She’s not a complete idiot and she’s good to have around in a fight. What I don’t understand is why you devote so much energy to a relationship that is doomed to failure.”

John didn’t respond for a long time. He finished his lager before asking. “What’s wrong with Sarah and me?”

Sherlock’s tone was clipped, “Spare me the pity party. There’s nothing wrong with Sarah or you. The problem is that all of the attraction is on her end. I’m not the expert in social mores that you are, but I’m pretty sure the way that you are leading her on isn’t very nice.” Sherlock pronounced ‘nice’ in the same tone that most people used for ‘herpes.’

For a moment, John felt a swell of anger. He wanted to protest, “I’m not leading her on!” then he mentally reviewed all of their dates. Every time, he was the one who ended the evening. He remembered the kiss they’d shared that night. He hadn’t felt a shred of arousal. He got up, threw away the bottle, and retreated upstairs to his room.

He called Sarah the next morning. She was disappointed, but not surprised, and because she was a far, far better person than John deserved, she agreed to remain friends.

A/N: To everyone who read this, THANK YOU. A word of warning, shit is going to get massively fucked up. There will be TRIGGERS later on. In order to keep spoilers to a minimum, I issue trigger warnings at the top of each part. So if this is a concern, please, please, please be sure to check the top of each fill before reading. Comments, complaints, cat pictures, etc. are all welcome. I do my own beta and Britpick so I’m sure I missed something. I’m currently working on part 4, so I’ll probably have 2 up by tomorrow or the day after.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 2a/?

(Anonymous)
Part 2: Sherlock gets Reichenbach’d

Two weeks after his breakup with Sarah, John found himself on the rooftop of a building in central London. He was attempting to sneak up on a sniper. Sherlock had agreed to solve the kidnapping of the Austrian Chancellor’s niece. One thing led to another, and now an assassin had his rifle trained on a limousine that he thought contained the Austrian Chancellor.

Sherlock, with his flair for the dramatic, had jumped at the chance to play decoy, while John was tasked with the less enviable duty of keeping the sodding decoy from being killed.

He crept across the asphalt roof. The sniper looked up from his scope and scanned the horizon. The opportunity for surprise was lost. John launched himself at his adversary and tackled him. They rolled across the roof, one over the other. The tripod that held the rifle tumbled to the ground in the melee.

John was on top. He scrabbled for the man’s arms, trying to pin him, but the sniper got a hand free. He struck a lucky hit on John’s chin. He saw stars for a fraction of a second, which was all the man needed to free up his knife. John used his forearm to deflect the first stab. The sniper couldn’t get a good angle from his current position.

John grabbed the knife arm with both his hands and beat it against the ground. He ducked his head close the enemy’s chest in an effort to lessen the force of the punches landing on his unprotected face. After a bone-cracking slam against the asphalt, the sniper dropped the knife. John reached for it. The enemy used the opportunity to overbalance him. He aimed a kick at the sniper and crawled for the knife, but it was too far out of reach. The man was on him, and John forgot about the weapon.

Now, he was at a profound disadvantage. The enemy straddled him and aimed punch after punch at his face. The only thing that saved John was his enemy’s inexperience at fist-fighting. He didn’t know how to put proper power behind his blows. John aimed a savage left hook at the man’s windpipe, and wiggled out from under him while he was gasping. The sniper lurched to his feet and staggered in the direction of the rifle. John dove for it, smashing his hand against in the tripod and splitting his knuckles to the bone.

The sniper crashed into him from behind. John used the momentum to try to push the tripod over the edge of the roof. It wasn’t enough. The man lunged for the rifle. John had a moment of choice. For an instant, he could see the consequences of his decision flash by. He could dodge out of the way, which would enable the assassin to recover the rifle. He had ample time to shoot John in the head and set up the shot again in time to take out Sherlock. Or John could allow himself to pushed over the edge, taking the rifle with him. He would die, but Sherlock would live.

He threw himself over the edge, shoving the rifle away with all his strength. At the last possible second, John grabbed the sniper, dragging the man over with him. Together they tumbled, but for only a short time. They’d managed to land on a three-foot wide ledge only one floor down. The assassin hadn’t fared as well as John. The top half of his body was on the ledge, while the bottom half dangled. John scrambled into a sitting position and kicked the sniper in the face over and over, driving him back with the force of his kicks until finally, his hands lost their precarious hold and he slid off the edge.

John leaned against the building, gasping. His ribs, which he hadn’t noticed before, were in agony. His face felt battered. His hand hurt. He stared dully into the distance. He was in too much pain to move. After a minute, which felt like an eon, he mustered the energy to look down at the street. The sniper’s corpse lay crumpled on the pavement. A crowd of onlookers filmed him with their phones while a pair of good Samaritans crouched over him. The rifle was a gleam of metal on the street.

He eased himself down again. Sherlock was safe. He could collapse now.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 2b/?

(Anonymous)
He was staring at the gloomy London sky when a familiar silhouette entered his field of vision.

“John!” Sherlock’s voice was tight with panic.

He weakly raised his good hand. Sherlock slung himself onto the ledge with the grace of a mountain goat.

Sherlock’s expression was worried, but his tone was light, “Why do I have the feeling that you have just done something ridiculous and self-sacrificing?”

John didn’t bother to answer. His friend knelt next to him. He caressed John’s forehead with shaking fingers. “How badly are you hurt?”

He winced. “Cracked ribs, hand needs stitches, and a broken nose.”

Sherlock’s eyes flickered over his body. “There’s too much blood.” He hesitated a second, then ripped John’s button-down open, causing buttons to scatter. John flinched.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m checking for stab wounds. You’re covered in blood.” His hands yanked up John’s undershirt. John tensed. His old scars weren’t a pretty sight. At the best of times, he was self-conscious about them, but with Sherlock and his pale, all-seeing eyes so close, it was too much.

Sherlock’s lips tightened almost imperceptibly. He yanked a handkerchief from his pocket and pushed it hard against John’s stomach. “He cut you. It’s shallow, so he probably only got skin and muscle, but you’re bleeding like a stuck pig.”

The doctor at the hospital didn’t send him home until three in the morning. Sherlock remained at his side throughout. His face was more pale than usual and he kept on touching John, brushing his hair back from his forehead, holding his good hand, lightly touching his ankle.

The stairs to the flat almost killed him. He clung to the handrail and inched up. In a continuation of his bizarre, out-of-character behavior, Sherlock hovered, pointedly not offering to help.

“Sherlock.” John gritted.

“Yes?”

“Please go away.”

Sherlock gave him a stern look, but retreated up the stairs. Now, John realized why Sherlock was such a bastard. He was even more aggravating when he was trying to be kind.

“John, you’re to take my room until you are feeling better.” he said when John walked into the flat.

“Why? Are you sure you want me in there?”

“It’s the best solution. I can’t have you hobbling up and down the stairs every time you need to use the loo, all grey-faced and stoic. Mrs. Hudson would cluck at me and give me reproachful looks.”

“Since when did you care about getting reproachful looks?”

“Have you ever gotten one from Mrs. Hudson?”

“Well, no.”

“I can tell you, it’s enough to put a man off his supper.”

“But you don’t eat supper.”

“Shut up and go to bed. I’ll fix you some tea and a bite of toast.”

Wondering whether he should be more concerned about Sherlock’s solicitous behavior or the imminent house fire that was likely to result from his flatmate’s attempt at cooking, John picked his way around the minefield of chemistry supplies, books, and discarded clothing that covered the floor of the bedroom. The bed was mostly cleared off. John moved a few books to the floor and gingerly attempted to untangle the wad of comforter and top sheet with one hand.

At length, Sherlock returned with tea and toast. “Lie back. Let me do it.”

John slumped against the pillows and watched as he freed the blankets. “This is a bit weird, yeah? You tucking me in?” he asked, trying to relieve some of the tension that filled the room.

“I’m not tucking you in. I’m fixing your blankets, so I don’t have to spend an hour listening to you rustle about while you try to do it yourself.”

John let out an exasperated sigh, then winced as a jab of pain stabbed his ribs.

With the blankets in place, Sherlock turned to go. John’s voice stopped him.

“Sherlock?”

“What?”

“Are you alright?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, good.”

Clearly today had shaken his flatmate. John thought about pursuing the subject, but he was tired and his ribs hurt. In his current state, he would just make a mess of things. He leaned back against the pillows, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 3a/?

A/N: I forgot to mention earlier that this is set post Season 1, but pre Season 2 (in case that wasn’t obvious).

Part 3: Sherlock makes a lot of lists, one of which involves gay porn

Sherlock left John, but kept the door cracked just in case. He had lied about being alright, just as he’d been lying for months now. Well, not actively telling lies per se, but rather allowing one very important truth go unsaid.

He’d felt the zing of physical attraction early on. He ignored it, assumed it was a passing thing. John’s insistence that he was ‘not gay’ in spite of clear evidence to the contrary was another deterrent for Sherlock. There were few things on this planet that annoyed him more than sexually confused men. Most people had their preferences figured out by the time they were thirteen. John wasn’t a complete idiot. He was sure to sort himself out eventually. Sherlock wasn’t given to introspection, but he had enough self-awareness to realize that he wasn’t the best person to guide John through a sexual identity crisis.

The problem began when his attraction for John didn’t go away. Instead, it cemented into a consuming infatuation. After the pool incident, he realized that the disturbing tenderness he felt was love.

Sherlock spent weeks scrutinizing John’s body language, but observed no indication that his feelings were returned. So, he hid his emotions behind the usual façade of narcissism and tactlessness. He sublimated his anguish into his work, doing what he could to move on.

But today, when he’d seen John’s body tumbling through the air, and thought for a second, well, closer to 500 milliseconds that he was going to see his friend die, he felt terror. As though, not just the man he loved, but the part of himself that made Sherlock human, that kept him from becoming a monster was going to end in a splatter of blood and crunch of bone on the pavement.

That had been bad enough, but the moment he saw John, alive, breathing, and with no injuries that wouldn’t heal in a few weeks, he felt the words push against his lips. I love you.

When he’d seen the blood that soaked the front of John’s shirt, he had to swallow the words again. Sherlock remembered the knife wound, long and shallow, surrounded by a number of small scars. They were faint and old, just slight discolorations, but he recognized them as burns.

The words came again as John struggled up the stairs, as he stared in befuddlement at the offering of tea and toast on the bedside table. Sherlock knew that they were bound to escape. They would wait for an unguarded moment and rush past his lips.

He flopped onto the sofa and slapped a nicotine patch on his arm. He needed to distance himself from this problem. If he could solve a murder with only a shoelace and a pen cap as evidence, surely he could solve his unrequited love for his flatmate.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 3b/?

The facts:

Sherlock:
In love with John.
Likely to blurt out this information any moment.
Averse to rejection.

John:
Perceived self as straight.
Exhibited no sexual interest in Sherlock.
Willing to throw himself off a building to save his idiot flatmate.

The last item gave him something to work with. John wasn’t going to leave, even if the situation got uncomfortable. He loved Sherlock in the platonic sense. He just needed to persuade him that they could share something more than friendship.

How to make John fall in love (with the right person):
Step 1: Help him realize that he is attracted to men.
Step 2: Channel these feelings of attraction to the appropriate party (Sherlock).
Step 3: Use a combination of sex and romantic social cues to strengthen the bond.
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until loving attachment forms.

Sherlock felt a renewed sense of well-being. He didn’t know if it was the nicotine entering his bloodstream or the assurance that came of knowing he had a plan.

He meditated on how he should accomplish Step 1. Lounging about the flat naked would just annoy John. Verbally confronting him about his sexuality would likely only stimulate a defensive response. It was best if he made the discovery on his own.

He thought of his early teens. He had always known he fancied boys over girls. There had been no sudden realization for him. His interest in intimacy hadn’t even been piqued until he discovered a gay pornographic magazine in Mycroft’s bedroom. He’d stolen it and read it over and over, even after he memorized the contents.

Perhaps all John needed to spur his sexual awakening was a bit of strategically placed gay porn. He got up and grabbed his coat and scarf. He was off to Mrs. Turner’s to see if her tenants had any old issues of Honcho lying around.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 4a/?

Part 4: John gets an awkward boner

John woke the next morning to the smell of fresh tea and toast. The cup and plate from last night had been replaced with fresh ones. He groaned as his nerve endings reminded him of yesterday’s fight. He gave the tea a suspicious sniff. Sherlock was never this considerate unless he had an ulterior motive. In the end, John decided to risk it. He nursed the tea, scarfed the toast, then reached for a bottle of paracetemol.

He still wore yesterday’s boxers. Sherlock had given him his vest to wear, as his own was soaked in blood. The garment was too tight across John’s chest and chafed at his underarms.

He slowly eased into a sitting position, moving as little as possible. He swallowed the medicine, then froze as he moved to replace the pill bottle. A magazine sat on the bedside table. It featured a shirtless bloke in a police cap who sported a truly epic moustache. John’s fingers brushed his own upper lip. He’d always thought he might be able to grow a proper moustache. Perhaps this magazine was a sign that it was time to try.

He hobbled to the loo and gingerly performed his morning ablutions. He skipped shaving. His face was a swollen mess anyway. Next, he turned the tap, slipped off his boxers, which by now felt completely disgusting, then confronted the problem of the vest. Eventually, he wiggled it down to his waist and over his hips.

The hot water felt amazing, even though he had to keep his back to the spray to prevent the dressing on his stomach from getting wet. He soaped up a flannel and scrubbed himself clean. He filled his palm with shampoo and reached for the crown of his head.

“Oh shit! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

The movement pulled on his stitches and made his ribs scream.

A few moments later, a polite knock sounded on the door. “Everything alright in there?”

John rinsed the shampoo from his fingers. “I’m fine.”

John thought for a minute, trying figure out how he was going to wash his hair. When he realized he wouldn’t be able to do it without help, he squared his shoulders and gritted his teeth. His hair stank of blood and sweat. He had to get it clean. He hated being naked in front of others. The idea being unclothed in front of Sherlock was especially unappealing, but in this case, he did not see any other option.

“Sherlock? Still there?”

“Yeah.”

“I need you to do me a favor.”

“What is it?”

He stepped out of the shower without bothering to put on a towel, Sherlock was about to see him naked anyway, and opened the door. “Could you help me wash my hair?”

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 4b/?

*

“I suppose.” Sherlock’s gaze frantically darted everywhere but in the direction of his flatmate’s body. John stepped aside to let him in. “How should we do this?”

“It’ll be easier if we both get in shower, that way the water doesn’t spray everywhere. I’ll bend over to keep the dressing from getting wet.”

Sherlock reluctantly shed his dressing gown and pajamas. He got into the shower and grabbed the detachable showerhead, pointing it directly downward to minimize the spray. John stepped inside and bent his waist at a forty-five degree angle.

Sherlock mentally recited amino acid compounds as he wetted his flatmate’s hair. He had a number of sexual fantasies about being naked in the shower with John, but an erection at this moment would only serve to make the situation even more uncomfortable.

He put away the showerhead and squirted a blob of shampoo into his palm. He rubbed it between his hands, then reached for John. Oh dear God. He had his fingers in his friend’s hair and the man’s face was only a foot away from his cock.

He tried to keep the movement of his hands businesslike and impersonal. He would not get an erection. He imagined his penis in its flaccid state. You will stay that way, he told it sternly. He finished lathering the shampoo, then turned to get the showerhead. As he turned, he saw John’s hands clutching at his lower stomach.

“Oh God, what’s wrong? Are you hurt? Let me see.” Sherlock knelt and yanked John’s arm out of the way, only to be confronted at eye level by a very aroused fully erect penis. For an instant, his baser instincts won out. He imagined himself leaning forward, taking that beautiful cock in hand, rolling back the foreskin and pressing his tongue to the slit. He forced his mind back the present, but it was too late. His cock was already half hard.

He rose, yanked on the showerhead, and gave John’s hair a cursory rinse before shutting off the water and racing out of the shower. Of course John had gotten an eyeful of his own, ahem, biological reaction, and was likely coming to some disturbing conclusions.

Sherlock’s mind raced. Part of him was thrilled. He had already reached Step 2 of his plan with almost no effort! The other part was terrified. He knew that what happened next was vital. John had to talk about this while the feelings were still fresh, before he found reasons to explain them away.

He yanked on his dressing gown. It stuck to the damp parts of his skin, making him feel itchy and hot. He needed to be tactful and persuasive, but not manipulative. John would see through that in an instant. He needed time to make a strategy.

His flatmate had his back to him and was in the process of wrapping a towel around his waist. The back of his neck was crimson with embarrassment.

“Clothes.”

John turned and looked at him in confusion.

“I’ll get you some clothes. Stay put.”

Sherlock raced up the stairs to John’s room. His mind worked on a plan.

Step 1: Persuade John to hold a conversation.
Step 2: Present supporting evidence for John’s gay-ness.
Step 3: Propose experiment to allow for the collection of additional data.
Step 4: Snog John senseless.

He retrieved a vest, button down shirt, boxers, and a pair of jeans, and returned to the loo.

He passed them through the door, giving his flatmate a measure of privacy.

“John, we need to talk.”

“Oh God, Sherlock, really? I’m not gay!”

Sherlock sighed and leaned his head against the door. He assembled his argument.

“It will only take five minutes. We can talk in the sitting room, have the most uncomfortable conversation of our lives, and never revisit the issue again if you don’t want to.”

John’s tone was resigned. “Why do you have to be so reasonable all of a sudden?”

His flatmate emerged from the loo clothed, but still a little damp.

When Sherlock sat in the chair across from John, he realized that he was about to have the most important conversation of his life while wearing nothing but a blue silk dressing gown.


Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 5a/?

A/N: Thank you to everyone who commented. You guys make me feel happy inside! Anyway, some good news/bad news. My vacation from my RL job ended yesterday, so going forward, I will probably only be able to update two or three times a week, rather than every day. But on the plus side, I decided to combine what I originally intended to be parts 5 and 6, so this is twice as long as my previous fills.

Part 5: Epiphany

“John, could you answer a question for me?”

“What?” His tone was skeptical.

“Why is it that whenever someone insinuates that you may be attracted to men, your knee-jerk reaction is to insist that you are ‘not gay?’”

“Perhaps,” John replied in an aggrieved tone, “because I am, in fact, not gay.”

Sherlock held up an index finger, “but, you never say, ‘I’m straight.’ Instead your standard response is always, ‘I’m not gay.’ So the question is: do you identify yourself as straight?”

“Of course I’m straight. I’ve shagged women. If all you are going do is carp at me about being gay, consider this conversation finished.”

Sherlock’s heart was about to beat out of his chest. He could not mess this up. He tried another approach. “When was the last time that you shagged a woman?”

“I don’t see how that is relevant. You know my life was interrupted by the war.”

“Other men seem to make it work. Tell me, has a woman ever left you as a result of your ambivalence toward intimacy?”

John lurched to his feet and took a step toward Sherlock. “Shut up! Shut the fuck up! I am fucking sick of your manipulative psychobabble!”

Sherlock felt sick with fear. Step 2 of the revised plan was officially a failure. It was time to move on to Step 3 and hope for the best.

He kept his voice calm, but couldn’t school the nervousness from his features. “I propose an experiment that will settle this argument permanently.”

John eyed him with suspicion, but sat down again. “Okay, I’m listening.”

Sherlock felt like he was about to throw up. Never in his life had so much been riding on his next words. “We kiss each other, right here, right now. If you like it, you have to admit that you are attracted to men. If you do not like it, I will admit that you are right and we will never speak of it again.”

Sherlock watched in horror as John’s lips began to form a rejection. John looked at his face. He must have seen something in Sherlock’s expression that caused him to change his mind because he buried his face in his hands and mumbled, “Fine.”

“What?”

“Fine, I’ll let you try to turn me gay. It’s obviously important to you, so have at it.”

This was not exactly the response Sherlock was hoping for, but it would have to do. He now had permission to execute Step 4.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 5b/?

He rose, walked over to John, then knelt in front him. He pushed John’s knees apart. His flatmate’s eyes widened.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Relax, I’m not offering to give you a blowjob. I’m just trying to find a position that won’t strain your injuries.”

“Okay.” John looked nervous, unsure.

Sherlock rubbed a reassuring hand up his thigh, but checked himself when his flatmate tensed. Instead, he took John’s uninjured hand and guided it to the nape of his neck.

He gazed into John’s eyes and said solemnly, “You control this. You control when we start. You control how far it goes. You control when we stop. Okay?”

The tension left John’s body. His expression relaxed. His eyes roved Sherlock’s face, then lingered on the bit of chest exposed by the vee of his dressing gown before settling on his lips.

Slowly, he leaned down. Sherlock’s heart raced as his eyes met John’s gaze. The hand on the back of his neck tightened. Sherlock closed his eyes and tasted warm breath, then felt the soft touch of John’s mouth.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 5c

*

John lightly brushed his lips against Sherlock’s. He planned to keep himself distant from this encounter. He was not to enjoy it. He was attracted to women. But Sherlock’s mouth was so soft and warm and smelled so enticing, he had to taste it again, this time deeper. He pressed his mouth against Sherlock’s, catching the full bottom lip between his own. He tightened his grip on the back of his neck, tangling his fingers in soft curls. Sherlock let out a groan. John deepened the kiss, tracing his tongue lightly along Sherlock’s bottom lip, asking permission. Sherlock opened his mouth and John pressed his tongue inside, tasting, licking, exploring. Sherlock’s scent was in his nose, his taste in his mouth, his hair and skin were soft against his palm. The sensations consumed him, aroused him, drove out every thought but one, ‘This. I want this.’ He took a deep breath, so he could taste some more, then jerked away as his ribs screamed.

Sherlock rocked back on his heels and looked up at John. His eyes were half lidded with desire. His lips were wet, and he had a bit of beard burn on his chin. The sight of Sherlock on his knees, looking so vulnerable stirred a tender impulse that had been beating around the back of John’s brain for a long time. Suddenly, he felt as bereft and lost as when he first returned from Afghanistan.

“Sorry, my ribs.” He said in apology. His words fell into a devastating silence. There was something so bleak, so expectant in Sherlock’s expression. He realized there were things happening below the surface. Things he didn’t understand. He couldn’t bear the way Sherlock looked at him. He couldn’t bear the aching wound that was his empty arms.

He felt as though he were falling into a chasm. He felt terrified and euphoric and raw and invincible. John lived most of his life in the same muddle of confusion and drab ordinariness as most of humanity., but every once in awhile, emotion and circumstance combined to give him a moment of shattering insight. A moment of utter certainty, when all options narrowed to one. Something fragile, something necessary to the continued existence of both Sherlock and himself hinged on what happened next.

John allowed his instincts to guide him. He leaned forward and took both Sherlock’s hands in his. He rose to feet and pulled Sherlock up to meet him. Then, he wrapped his arms around his flatmate and buried his face in his chest.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 5d/?

“You realize I’m only wearing a dressing gown.” Sherlock said, his voice hesitant.

“I don’t care if you’re wearing a suit made out of porcupine quills. Put your arms around me, you silly idiot.”

Sherlock wrapped shaking arms around him, holding him tightly so that they pressed together from thigh to chest. There was nothing platonic or friendly about their embrace. John could feel Sherlock’s half-aroused cock against his stomach. He pressed his lips gently to his collarbone. He felt Sherlock shiver and a light touch of lips against his hair.

As usual, his flatmate’s big brain had to spoil everything.

“Are you just doing this because you feel sorry for me?”

John pressed his cheek against his chest. “Sherlock, I am feeling a lot of very strange things right now, but pity is not one of them.”

“Could you elaborate?”

There was a long moment of silence. “Imagine that you lost something that was integral to your identity as a human being.”

“Okay.”

“Then imagine that, not only did you lose it, but you forgot it ever existed.”

“I’m imagining.”

“Then imagine you found it again.”

“That’s very nice, but what does holding me have to do with your rediscovery of your sexual identity?”

“I’m not sure. The only thing I know is that you smell wonderful, your body feels amazing against mine, and I love the sound of your voice, even when you are ruining my nice romantic moment.”

“Oh, this is a romantic moment, then?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Should I do something?”

“Just keep on with what you are doing right now.”

“But I’m not doing anything.”

“Precisely.”

Eventually, John’s arms got tired and his stitches began to itch. In spite of the discomfort, he didn’t want to move. He tried to analyze what he felt for Sherlock. Before the kiss, he couldn’t imagine life without him. It wasn’t just that, though. He’d always loved weird little things about Sherlock. He loved watching him play the violin, the way his bony wrists stuck out from his sleeves, the way those strong slim white fingers moved over the strings. He loved his prickliness and the way the corners of his lips turned down before he made a particularly scathing remark.

Before the kiss, he knew he felt platonic love for Sherlock. In the shower, he realized he felt physical attraction for him as well. Did that combination translate into romantic love? John didn’t know. The shift in their relationship was too recent for him to make heads or tails of it. He did know that he wanted to kiss Sherlock again, wanted to do more than kiss Sherlock, and that he wanted more than just physical intimacy.

Suddenly, feelings of insecurity flooded his brain. What if Sherlock did not want to kiss him again? What if he desired physical intimacy, but not emotional intimacy? Sherlock was the king of compartmentalization. John feared that if he stuffed their relationship into a box, only be taken out and played with when convenient, he would suffocate.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 5e/?

“Sherlock?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m starting to feel a bit squashed.”

“Right.”

Sherlock pulled away and looked down at John’s face. His brow furrowed in confusion. “It doesn’t work that way.” He said.

“What?”

“Human nature. It doesn’t work that way.”

“I’m not following.”

“For the past year, you haven’t shown a hint of sexual interest. Now, after just one kiss, you are all gentle caresses and full body hugs.”

John responded defensively, “I touch you all the time. And what’s wrong with a hug every now and again? You didn’t seem to mind it the night after the pool incident.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

“What are you really asking? What do you really want to know?”

Sherlock opened his mouth but no sound came out.

John got an idea. “How about this: let’s treat what just happened, the kiss and the, uh, aftermath like a murder we both witnessed. We will each report the facts as we see them.”

Sherlock frowned, but before he could voice an objection, John cut him off, “I’ll go first.”

“First, I have loved you in a platonic sense for quite some time now. Second, I very much enjoy kissing you. Third, I would like to kiss you again. Do more than kiss you, in fact, but-“ he stopped. His face flushed and he looked away.

“But what? Let me guess, ‘you’re not gay?’” Sherlock replied acidly.

John stared at the floor. “That wasn’t what I was going to say.”

“What were you going to say, then?”

John began pacing. His ribs hurt like hell, but remaining still was not an option. “I’m not like you, Sherlock. I can’t turn off my emotions. I can’t separate physical intimacy from emotional intimacy. I can’t kiss you or shag you or whatever, and then just go back to being mates. My brain doesn’t work that way.” he ran out of words. He felt embarrassed and exposed.

Sherlock’s expression was that of a man facing an executioner. “I suppose it’s my turn to testify.”

John sat down on the sofa, and Sherlock sat down beside him.

When he began speaking, his tone was distant. His words came fast, like when he was rattling off deductions. “I am in love with you, but I saw no sign that my feelings were reciprocated, so I decided it was better that you didn’t know. Then, after you threw yourself off a building, I realized you would eventually find out the truth, so I began to put in place a plan to help you better understand your sexuality. That went out the window after our surprise shower erections, which was completely unintentional, by the way. Then we argued, and I thought if I could just make you see…” he trailed off.

He took a deep breath, then soldiered on, “In any case, we kissed. It was wonderful, but when you pulled away so quickly, I was afraid…” he trailed off again.

He continued, a note of anger coloring his voice, “Human sexuality isn’t a light switch that you can flip on and off. You can’t spend a year displaying no signs of physical attraction for me and then all of a sudden want to shag me, want to start a-a-“

“Relationship with you?” John interjected.

“Yes, that.” Sherlock replied. The anger drained from his voice.

“Sherlock, I think the basic premise underlying your argument is flawed. You assume that I haven’t felt any attraction for you, but you aren’t qualified to make that assertion. You are hardly an unbiased observer. I was unaware of what I felt for you, but I’m an emotionally repressed Englishman who spent over a decade in the military. I have years of experience in suppressing emotions that get in the way of my ability to do my job. “

He continued, “Don’t you think it’s weird that so many people assume we are dating? Is it normal for flatmates to touch each other as often as we do? Risk their lives for each other like we do? You’re right, human sexuality isn’t a light switch that can be turned on or off. For me, the light has been on, but I’ve been wearing a blindfold.”

Sherlock fisted his hands in his hair, “It can’t be that easy. Nothing is that easy.”

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 5f/?

John had enough of flatmate’s arguing, “I doubt that this is going to be ‘easy,’ as you put it. I haven’t had an emotionally healthy relationship in over a decade and you are, well, you.”

He rose to his feet. Ignoring the pull of his stitches and the ache in his ribs, he straddled his flatmate.

“Now,” he ordered, using his military voice, “you are going to close that beautiful mouth of yours and let me snog you, and then you are going to tell me more about how you are in love with me.”

“But-“

John silenced him with a kiss.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 6a/?

Part 6: Picana

“-your statement is fundamentally illogical. I can’t snog you if my mouth is closed.”

John, his mind still fuzzy from the heat of the kiss, smiled, then gave Sherlock a peck on the corner of the mouth. This led to more snogging, until John’s ribs really couldn’t take anymore and Sherlock’s upper lip and chin were raw from beard burn.

John said, “Sorry, I should lie down and take some more medicine.” And stuff an icepack down my trousers, he thought. He looked down and noticed that the dressing gown had fallen open and Sherlock’s cock stood arrow-straight between them. John suppressed a moan. His hand twitched toward it. He longed to wrap his fingers around it, but he and Sherlock hadn’t talked about this yet. He assumed Sherlock wanted a relationship, but they hadn’t discussed boundaries or timelines. Under the circumstances, grabbing one’s flatmate’s naked cock seemed a bit impolite.

Sherlock solved John’s dilemma by taking his hand and guiding it between his legs. John lightly ran his index finger from the underside of the base to the tip. He smiled when it twitched as his finger made contact with the frenulum. He wrapped his hand around it, stroking slowly. He liked the way it hardened further under his hand. He gradually increased the pressure and speed of the strokes, staring intently into Sherlock’s face to gauge his reaction. He knew what he liked, but he’d never touched another man’s cock before. He wanted to make sure he got this right. He used his other hand to cup and gently massage Sherlock’s balls. Sherlock arched and moaned. The man had sensitive balls. He would have to remember that.

Sherlock’s hands began rubbing the front of his jeans. John moaned. He suppressed the urge to grind against his hand. His ribs would not tolerate it. Sherlock released the top button and undid the zip. Both jeans and boxers were shoved down a few inches to reveal his cock and balls. He gasped when Sherlock wrapped a hot hand around his cock.

Sherlock stiffened and his hand froze. “John?” Sherlock’s voice was remote and expressionless.

“Yes?” John asked. He stopped moving his hands when he noticed Sherlock’s discomfort. He felt a bit weird just holding another man’s cock and balls, but he worried that if he let go, Sherlock would take that as a signal to stop altogether.

“Why do you have electrical burn scars on your testicles?”

“What?!”

Sherlock repeated himself.

“I had acne as a teenager. I have scars in all sorts of weird places. Do we really have to talk about this right now?”

Sherlock shifted, disengaging his cock from John’s hand. He released John and crossed his arms. “Those aren’t acne scars. They are from a picana, a primitive electrical torture device. You have scars on what I can see of your inner thighs and lower stomach. You probably also have them on your feet and near your anus and nipples. I’m surprised there aren’t any on your penis.”

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 6b/?

“What? How did you know where my scars are? You had a chance to see my nipples and feet, but how did you know about the ones on my arse?” John felt shock.

“You’ve been tortured, John. Whoever did it knew what they were doing. They went for the most sensitive parts of your body. It’s standard practice. Did you spend any time in a Guatemalan prison when you were a teen?”

“Not that I know of. Why would that matter?”

“That’s where I last saw scars like those, on a man who’d been tortured by the Guatemalan police during the civil war.”

“Are you certain these scars came from torture?”

“There may be other plausible explanations, but I can’t think of any right now.” Sherlock’s brow furrowed. He looked down at their flaccid penises. Talk of torture had killed the mood. “This is probably not going to happen.”

John eased himself off of Sherlock, wincing as he straightened first one knee, then the other. He tucked himself away and redid his trousers. He sat beside Sherlock, who had also readjusted himself.

Sherlock asked, “Do you remember where you got the scars?”

“I know I must have gotten them when I was in secondary school, but I can’t recall any particular incident.”

“You would have been in extreme pain.”

“Look, Sherlock, after my mum died, I was very depressed for a long time. To be honest, I don’t remember much of anything from that period.”

Sherlock frowned, but did not pursue the topic further. John felt relieved, but couldn’t guess why.

“I desperately need to lie down. My ribs are killing me.”

“Of course.” Sherlock replied absently. His mind was miles away. He didn’t appear to notice when John got up and returned to the bedroom.

John eased himself between the sheets and leaned against the pillows. He mulled over their last conversation. His instinct was to assume that Sherlock was wrong. It was rare, but it happened. He tried to think back to his teenage years.

His mother had died of cancer when he was thirteen. His father committed suicide only three years later. John remembered his mother’s four-year battle with breast cancer. Even though he’d only been a child, he could recall his father taking her to the hospital for the treatments that ravaged her body, even as they gave her a few more precious years with her children.

John’s memory of his father was mostly one of absence. He was usually gone, ferrying his mother to appointments or working at his physician’s practice. When he was home, he withdrew to his study, emerging a few hours later smelling of whiskey and walking to the bedroom with a slight unsteadiness to his gait.

John remembered the loneliness and the life-shattering grief he felt when his mother died. He had always assumed that a combination of depression and the passage of time had eradicated his memory of the aftermath of her death, but now, if Sherlock was correct, some hugely traumatic event had happened to him and he could not recall it. Even if he hadn’t been tortured, he should have been able to remember an incident that was painful enough to leave scars on his bollocks.

He wondered if the hole in his memory had anything to do with the loss of his sexual identity. He suspected it did, but beyond the knowledge that the gap had occurred while he was going through puberty, he had no idea why. Thinking about it wasn’t going to make anything better. He had lived his entire life with unusual scars and a three-year hole in his memory and it hadn’t bothered him before. He couldn’t change the past and didn’t see any reason to dwell on it now.

He gazed around the room, searching for some form of entertainment. His eyes fell on the magazine on the bedside table. He grabbed it and opened it to a random page.

A/N: I hope you guys enjoyed this fill! Thank you for the comments! Also, if you have any theories on what happened to John, I would really love to hear them, but please send them to me via PM and don’t leave them in the comments so as not to inadvertently spoil anybody.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 7a/?

A/N: please CHECK the top of EVERY upcoming fill for TRIGGER WARNINGS. Also, this is a bit shorter than usual, but I'll have part 8 up tomorrow to make up for it!

Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence


Part 7: Night Terror

Sherlock swore at himself as John retreated to the bedroom. The entire last few minutes had been a huge mistake. He shouldn’t have encouraged John to touch his cock. The second they stopped he realized he wasn’t ready for such a big step, and if he wasn’t, John certainly wasn’t. That was bad enough, but asking John, ‘Why do you have electrical burn scars on your testicles?’ at such a moment was the height of idiocy.

He wasn’t worried about making him uncomfortable. After all, one should be able to discuss uncomfortable matters with one’s…whatever he and John were now, especially when it involved scars on one’s partner’s nether regions. However, he should have timed the question better. Ugh, he should have figured it out in the shower, but no, he had been so distracted that he hadn’t really seen John. He’d only glanced at him, and saw what he expected to see. It was only when he noticed the scars on the testicles that everything slotted into place.

He mused momentarily about whether John was lying about not knowing what had happened to him, but quickly dismissed the idea. There had not been any hint of deception in his reaction, only bewilderment. John’s response reminded Sherlock of how little he knew about John’s past. He knew that there was some great tragedy, and that much of the strain between John and Harry was caused by some childhood grievance, but he’d never bothered to fill in the blanks. He’d always considered them too boring to be worthy of his interest. Now, he kicked himself for his hubris in believing that anything about his flatmate was not worth knowing.

Fill: No Refuge from Memory: 7b/?

Sherlock leapt to his feet when he heard the screaming, or rather, a short scream that was quickly cut off by an even worse sound, a strangled “uhhh.” A sound one only heard when a person was in so much agony, he couldn’t get the breath to scream.

He yanked open the bedroom door and dashed into the room, stumbling over the mess that littered the floor. John’s arms and legs thrashed violently. His injured hand thumped against the wall. John gave another horrible “uhhh,” then his back arched so severely, it looked like he was levitating off the bed.

John had warned him to never interfere when he had a nightmare, but Sherlock worrieded that in his current state, he would injure himself.

He stepped forward. He tried to restrain John’s arms, but they were ripped out of his grasp. John took a swing at Sherlock. He managed to avoid the full force of the blow, but it still hurt like hell.

He took a risk and threw himself on top of John, trying to trap his arms and legs under his own. John wriggled like an eel. Sherlock’s unwillingness to hurt his flatmate put him at a disadvantage. John elbowed him in the solar plexus, and while Sherlock was still gasping for breath, climbed on top of him. He wrapped his fingers around his throat. Sherlock tried the trick of grabbing John’s pinkie and bending it back. He did not react. Sherlock jammed a fingernail up into the nailbed of John’s middle finger, again with no reaction. Black spots danced in front of his eyes. He arched and thrashed in panic, desperately clawing at John’s fingers.

The unfocused glaze left John’s eyes. He stared down at Sherlock in shock.

“What happened?” he asked. He rolled off of him to lie on his side. He curled into himself. Sherlock suspected his injuries were agony.

“You had a really bad night terror. I was afraid you were going to hurt yourself, so I made the mistake of trying to intervene.” Sherlock’s voice was hoarse from the choking.

“That’s weird. I don’t remember falling asleep.”

“What do you remember?” Sherlock whispered.

“I wasn’t doing much of anything, just mulling things over.” He blushed and looked away, “Then I picked up that magazine on the table, then nothing. I must have dozed off while I was reading. Probably all that talk of torture stirred something up.”

He studied Sherlock’s face. “Why are you whispering?”

“You choked me half to death before you woke up.”

“Oh God, I’m sorry.” He touched Sherlock’s cheek. “Looks like I hit you too.”

Sherlock ignored him, “You should check your dressing. I wouldn’t be surprised if you tore a few stitches.”

John groaned, “I honestly don’t believe I can move right now. Every muscle in my body hurts.”

Sherlock pushed up John’s shirt and vest and peeled off the corner of the dressing. There was a small trickle of fresh blood, but the stitches still held. “Your stitches are fine.”

John didn’t respond. He had withdrawn to his own private world. Sherlock suddenly felt like he was intruding. He got up and went to the door. He turned, “If you need anything…”

John just stared straight ahead.

Sherlock did not have any first-hand experience with John’s nightmares beyond the occasional creak of bedsprings and muffled cries that filtered down the stairs. On really bad nights, John would come into the kitchen and drink cup after cup of tea and stare into space like he was doing now. Sherlock left him alone on those nights.

He came to the uncomfortable realization that in some ways, John was a complete stranger. Sherlock had no idea how to help him. Should he have stayed with him until he seemed a little more present? Should he have never gone to help him in the first place? Sherlock had no idea. Then a terrifying thought occurred to him. What if he’d made John worse?


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