Note: Hi everyone! I'm back with a new project that I started 5 months ago. The story will be 22 chapters long and will be published both in French and in English (here and on FanFiction). It's a casefic, also focusing on the Sherlock and John's relationship. It takes place at the end of Season 1. The title is inspired by a quote from Hemingway "You're so brave and quiet, I forget you are suffering," and the story itself is mainly inspired by all the amazing work of dr_girlfriend and PerverselyVex.
Beta: PJTL156 & J. Puddles. Thank you so much ladies, you ARE the best!
In short: Enjoy your reading and please review; I'd love to hear from you, dear readers :)
John Hamish Watson, of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers, has always been perfectly in charge of his life, thank you very much. Late of the Army Medical Department, perfect son, flawless brother, the ex-soldier native of the north London suburb was all you could expect from a man: honest, courageous and reliable. In short, someone you could really rely on. The only real moments where his mind could get some rest for a few minutes was when he was getting away, his eyes closed, his hearing kept on alert by a melody in which he was losing himself.
John liked music like others liked to fall on their couch before putting their feet on the coffee table, returning from a working day where their boss had shown them once again that first, he wasn't going to allow their pay rise they have been waiting for, and that secondly, the onion supplement in the burger at lunch was not a good idea.
Of course, at Keble School, where he spent his younger years, the young boy with the blond hair only held a musical recorder with a bad taste because he had chewed the plastic, with little interest, too many times. No piano with ebony and ivory keys where his hands got lost every time; no violin where his kind of chubby cheek - as too many times underlined by Timothy Fester - landed before squealing a clumsy melody, but oh so expressive. No partition of Chopin, Mozart or Respighi to sight-read between semiquaver and F-clef, but instead an umpteenth interpretation of Lennon's Imagine, that John started to hate from all his future-ex-soldier soul.
At the Watson's, the only radio was in the kitchen placed on top of the fridge. John's parents only turned on the radio in the morning for the weather forecast and Camilia Tomes' Gardening Show, before turning it off when the news started. There was no musical radio station. It was either classical, retro or even less trendy music. So, when John got a Walkman by his aunt Annie for his sixteenth birthday, suffice to say his ears only left the quilted earphone when he had to take a shower.
On his bedside table stood around twenty tapes, swapped and more rarely bought, all representative of musical styles very different, for which he had the same interest. Only Madonna didn't have a place in his earphone, already listened in a loop - and way too loudly - in the next room, where Harry put on the walls posters of the singer with the cone bra. Thinking about it today made John realise there were some signs concerning his sister's future liking, indeed.
All in all, John attended three concerts in his life. The first when he was 17, when he went to the concert of a boy from his class in a bar in West London, where perfectly hysterical girls screamed the name of the singer with greasy hair and dubious dentition. The second one happened the day of his 22th birthday, when the orchestra of his village - not exceptional but however pleasant - played a Rachmaninov étude with an out of tune violin and a harpist with a cold. The third one occurred in Camp Bastion, when the improvised choir sang a Christmas song full of hope in front of an audience wrapped-up in battledress, of which eight died the next day in a muddled and bloody attack which broke out near the camp.
In conclusion, and despite his musical education extremely reduced, John Hamish Watson really liked music.
So, seated on the humid tiles which were soaking the bottom of his trousers, only a few meters away from the green parka which was keeping him warm a few seconds ago, he asked himself why the resounded song was only giving him a trembling heart and an awful feeling of sickness.
Ah, ah, ah, ah stayin' alive, stayin' alive...
Truly not expected.
"Do you mind if I get that?"
"No, no, please, you've got the rest of your life," answered Sherlock, shaking the gun he had in his hand as if it was a simple Kleenex tissue without any danger.
Truly not expected at all.
Jim Moriarty, the man they were chasing for a few months, turned around, taking out the origin of the strident bell: a mobile so modern John had never seen one like it. Jim brought it to his ear before whispering a 'Sorry', for the only detective of the room who seemed barely disturbed by the intrusion. The chlorinated water aground on the pool side was slowly moving back up the doctor's trousers, reaching his calf which made him shiver under the cold and odious feeling of the sticky fabric. And even if John hated being all wet with his clothes on, as much as he hated to sing Imagine there's no country, let's be honest, he preferred that to exploding all guts out because of a fucking parka deflagration.
Since when did life consist on being abducted by a criminal in front of his home, bound hand and foot in the back of a truck without any number plate, before being taken to a pool with a morbid past where he was put in a jacket made of Semtex? Of course, John knew the reason: since half of his rent was paid by the unique, on and only consulting detective in the world, a music-lover and sociopath who mastered the art of rhetoric as much as firearms. Which could have seemed dangerous - which John particularly loved.
The ex-soldier brushed all of his thoughts aside before coming back to the humid reality of his trousers, which were sticking to his right leg. A quick gaze to his flatmate who was on his feet in front of him, and his face as white as the tiles, permitted a tiny smile on the detective's face. They were maybe going to die, but at least it was perfectly clear that nothing that was happening in the empty pool was even remotely normal. Great; at least John didn't have the impression he became entirely crazy.
They waited for several long minutes whilst the only sound was the theatrical whispering of the criminal which echoed in the vast room, shutting up the lapping of a water where John imagined he was going to die, again and again. In front of him, Sherlock was still pointing his gun on the prohibitive suit. It was stupid and completely disconcerting to see how much of their lives, and deaths too, for the three of them, summarised to the first detective's phalanx.
Turning over in one go, like an actor coming onto the stage, Moriarty faced them again before sliding his mobile in his pocket and joining his hands in a joyful snap, offering them a smile worthy of a clown straight from a Stephen King book:
"This meeting was really enriching, Sherlock, but I must be going now."
The young man hesitated a moment, closing his eyes. His hand awkwardly tightening up on the gun, and his mind clearly full of questions, before Jim Moriarty stopped all of his interrogations:
"But we'll see each other soon."
"I hope so."
"Good evening, Sherlock."
The criminal offered him one last smile, full of honey and razor blades, and with a slow pace, worthy of the psychopath he was, he left the vast room, the suit covered by the reflection of the bluish water, dancing at the sound of a faint melody. It could have been beautiful, if everything wasn't this petrifying.
"Oh my God," spat John when the door had definitely closed behind the object of all their nightmares.
"John," Sherlock hastened to call, already on his knees in front of his flatmate of whom he pressed his forehead before lifting with his thumb an eyelid to examine his eyes.
"John, are you okay?"
"I'm fine Sherlock, I didn't..."
"John, how are you feeling?" he added as he had no answer.
"I'm fine!" The blond man yelled, who never understand why Sherlock always needed to use his first name as if he was slightly half-wit by not understanding the detective was talking to him.
"I'll warn Lestrade."
"Yes, good idea..."
The ex-soldier didn't close his eye for one second, following his friend with his tired gaze getting back on his feet, before pacing up and down in front of him, his thumbs nervously typing on the mobile he just got out of his pocket.
"What just happened, Sherlock?"
"Well, we finally saw Jim Moriarty's face and found out his weak spot."
"His musical taste?"
Sherlock stopped pacing and smiled. It was one of those smiles where he only raised the left corner of his mouth, blocking in a rictus and creating a subtle dimple where all John's oh-so-very-manly will seemed to get lost, before he started his incessant walk again, his eyes fixed on the screen.
"Moriarty likes to make a spectacle of himself."
"What a nice euphemism," said John ironically. He set his hand down on the ground for leverage, before getting back up onto his feet with difficulty.
"John!" called his friend, completely shocked by his gesture.
"Oh for Christ's sake, Sherlock, I'm fine, and if I stay seated one second longer, I'll end up with a wet arse and no way I'll let that happen, got it?"
Despite the perfectly serious and concerned look on the youngest man's face, John surprised himself by smiling, and his hands didn't shiver once. Because no matter if a psychopath with an international reputation had just placed a time bomb on his back, which could have blown up Westminster, it was out of the question if he ended up with a wet crotch in front of half of Scotland Yard.
Sherlock looked at him getting up, replacing his mistreated jumper under the parka and put his mobile back in his pocket. There they were, alone and despite the Semtex, the guns and the little red dancing dots on their chests, they were alive, so everything was fine. With a hand cold for staying too long on the tile, John massaged his neck with his head hanging back, his eyes wide open, staring at a crackling light bulb he hadn't noticed before. Sherlock probably detected it as soon as he entered the pool. Because Sherlock Holmes was always seeing everything by dint of observing shamelessly, exactly as he was doing now, scrutinising John's face as if it was a common bacterium placed under his microscope.
"What?" asked the older man, the grimace of impatience reasserting itself on his pale face.
"You're looking at me."
"I'm looking at you, John."
The two men turned around and by the swing door's little porthole, the black helmet of Scotland Yard's best men allowed the doctor to take a deep and painful inspiration. With a sharp gesture, Gregory Lestrade pushed the double door open and sighed noisily - a relieved or weary complaint, nobody could have known. John looked at the police team invading the surrounding areas, sadly too familiar with all that was happening, pulling a face when the black boots make the tiles dirty with mud from the outside, when the DI's voice shouted:
"You two, get out."
In front of the indoor pool, on the cold concrete covered with gum, a crowd of curious citizens were rushing behind a garish yellow ribbon, their eyes bulging despite the luminosity more than weak, made partially bestial at the mere idea they could admire a body laid down under a shroud, a man with handcuffs or just a little blood. More than once, Gregory Lestrade held himself back from catching onto one of those onlookers who put their dirty nose on a crime scene and making Lestrade realise that no, there was absolutely no pleasure in discovering a dead body. Luckily, the DI was professional. Most of the time.
On his right, seated on the ambulance's ledge, John was following with his blue gaze a pen a doctor was moving from right to left. Sherlock, as for him, accepted the blanket on his shoulders at least.
"Gregory," he corrects, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"My name's Sherlock."
"I know you git, but my name is Gregory."
"Possibly," concludes Sherlock. He lacked concern for this insignificant data before starting again, back to his flatmate, his eyes sliding from the DI to the nurse on his knees next to them. "I think John should go to hospital to have some examinations."
"Sherlock..." laughed the blond man with a giggle; he was absolutely not amused.
"Why?" asked Lestrade. He put his fists against his hips, his tired eyes filled with lack of sleep and caffeine already expiring - my God how the nights with Holmes were everything but relaxing.
"He wore a vest full of Semtex for an hour and almost got killed, don't you think he'll need some psychological support?"
The DI makes a sideways step and tilts his head to observe the ex-soldier on which the nurse was just putting a blood pressure monitor, and Sherlock turned around with the same breath. Three pairs of worried eyes were now looking at John who pushed back his head before bursting into a stunned laugh.
"For God's sake, Sherlock, are you really that worried? Everything's fine; I am fine. Nothing exploded, I still have all of my body parts tied together. The only consequence of tonight's events is that I won't ever be able to listen to the Bee Gees without getting sick, but I think I'll be okay."
The nurse in front of him raises an eyebrow and John felt obliged to reassure him:
"Private joke. It makes sense after everything we've been through, trust me."
"Okay, it's too late for bullshit but I want your damn arses tomorrow at 9A.M in my office, are we clear?"
"Clear," answered John, his head nodding with a military precision, getting up on his feet once the armband was off his arm.
"But Gra-Gregory!" called Sherlock, stopping right away by the oldest man's forefinger, raised like a threat between their two faces.
"If John says he's fine then he's fine. Now, Sherlock, go back home, take a shower, enjoy a good scotch and do... whatever it is that you usually do when I come to save you, and tomorrow I'll want every detail on this Moriarty."
Sherlock's face became withdrawn, the mask of the worried man giving way to the one cold and harsh that nobody on this damn earth really liked, and the most fake smile on the planet appeared on his mouth. Oh, how Sherlock hated it when someone was telling him what to do - and it was precisely why Gregory acted this way. The brown haired man let the blanket fall on the ground and put his hand in his right pocket before walking toward the yellow ribbon uncoiled between two police cars. If a lot of adjectives were suitable to describe Sherlock, for sure, mature wasn't one of them.
"Well, I'd better go before he forgets me and we end up paying two taxis for nothing. Thank you again, Greg; see you tomorrow," smiled John. He shook the DI's hand with one last smile before running behind the £1100 coat he was seeing more often from the back that from the front.
When Sherlock pushed the door to get onto the first floor and John discovered above his shoulder the living-room was already lit by the few lamps that were still turned on, the doctor let out a deep sigh which moved his entire being. His respiration was a step fiendishly complex, always vital but sometimes so painful. John had lost his breath once, his face buried in the sand, his shoulder bleeding and the pain reigning on all his body. He swore to himself he'll never live through something like that again.
This was without counting on Mike Stamford and his own need to find a flat, before he had to go back to East Barnet due to a lack of money. It was now a daily occurrence that he was losing his breath during the chase of a black coat at the pursuit of a criminal. But that wasn't the worst part, of course; the adrenaline and the madness of the moment were always creating a primary and vital need to run, catch, and win. The worst part was here, in this living-room with the improbable wallpaper, the spying skull and the smell between dust and greatness where Sherlock reeled continuously. The worst was the calm.
John closed his eyes for a while until his right foot struck the ground violently, making him jump with surprise - did he really just faint?
"John?" asked Sherlock, his shirt sleeves around his elbows (since when did he get rid of his jacket?). In his hands were two tea pots he clearly couldn't decide between. "Is everything all right?"
"Yeah. Yes. Are you making tea?"
"Isn't this what you do when we finish a case?"
"Yes, precisely, I do it," he answered, his smile even more dangerous than his gun, betraying his incomprehensible face to Sherlock's gesture, before he came by to take the pots out of his hands. "Which one do you want?"
The brown haired man made a vague gesture with his hand and walked towards the desk before John took care of the kettle. His temples were hurting him. His eyes were hurting him. Damn it, his eyelashes were hurting him. When was the last time he had a proper meal? Oh yes, of course. Noon. Well if a crisp-bread sandwich and three peanuts stolen in the pub down the road could really constitute a meal. Faced with Moriarty, however, he wasn't hungry at all, but as always, everything had to become calm before the storm.
"Tell me, John."
John pinched his lips together from left to right, pouring the boiling water in two mismatched cups and answered, raising his voice to be heard by his friend:
"They took off the bag I had on my head once we entered the pool and it was the first time I saw him," taking the two cups, too tired to avoid getting burnt he came back to the living-room before sitting in his chair, Sherlock in front of him.
The detective put his long fingers one against another in his traditional thinking pose, looking at the blond haired man with attention.
"First, he opened his arms big, shouting 'Surprise!', which was not very funny but he laughed anyway. Then he asked me if I suffered too much in the back of the truck and whispered very loudly he was hoping I did, then he got closer to me and he..." pinching his lips together, he smiled for one second and started looking at Sherlock again. "Buttoned up my parka. So that I 'don't catch a cold'. For the love of God, Sherlock, who could raise a man like that?"
"Sorry. In short, he thanked me for coming, then he told me it was an experience very interesting, which he couldn't wait to discover all the aspects of, that we were waiting for the lead role and that he was craving to meet the star, the one on which every head was turning."
"Of course you, Sherlock. It's always about you," said the ex-soldier smiling, slowly drinking his burning tea.
The brown haired man, starting to drink his tea too, had a micro, absolutely-not-amused smile, his piercing gaze never leaving his friend in front of him.
"Did you notice that, as soon as you got in, I no longer existed? When he got his phone call, he apologized to you. He clarified he wanted to see you again. Then he wished you a good evening."
"Psychological torture - to make you feel useless."
"That's what a lot of people think, right?"
Tilting his head, Sherlock raised an eyebrow.
"A lot of people believe in you, John. They trust you."
"In everyday life, of course, but when I'm with you on the field, I'm invisible. Like when Lestrade meets us. He always says 'Sherlock' and not 'Sherlock and John'."
"Well, you don't have my deduction skills but you..."
"No, Sherlock, I wasn't trying to have your sympathy, I just wanted to tell you so, that's all."
The silence settled between them like a third guest of whom they didn't dare to interrupt, and both of them, British as always, finished their tea before it got cold. His eyelids full of a fictive sand, John spread his legs in front of him, turning his neck on its side before getting up on his feet with his cup now empty in his right hand.
The ex-soldier did his best to not throw his mug in the empty sink.
In his bed, the sheets as cold as night, John rolled over for the 38th time. It was only temporary - the dancing red dots in front of his eyes and the voice of a man which was crossing him as if he wasn't even there – but, meanwhile, finding sleep was even more difficult than the tiles in the pool. Shit. Everything was going to come down to this, he felt it – the same way he felt when he came back from Camp Bastion when everything tasted like sand and all was hot as the desert.
With a head heavy from sleep pulling him in, his muscles trembled under weary spasms, so close, so close to finally falling asleep, before a voice brought him back to the harsh and exhausting reality in one go:
He was already straightening himself up before being fully conscious of it. With his eyes bitten by night, he saw in front of him the door wide open, the catch confined in the detective's hand, standing on his feet and still fully dressed, his gaze as sharp as a microscope's.
"Holy fuck, Sherlock! What do you... what are you... Oh my God, you're still worried, right? Everything's fine, Sherlock, I can handle it, okay?" he said shouting, the mere concept of living in the city and being surrounded by sleeping neighbours had slipped his mind.
The blond man opened his eyes and the brown haired man closed his, like a quiet consent. Softly, he closed the door and finally, the room got back its semblance of sanctuary where John liked to get rest when he had a chance. John resumed his position under the blanket with all his weight, deliberately thrusting his head in the soft pillow and his brain groggy with sleep, which was repeating those four single words which never quitted the mind of this man, late of the Army Medical Department, perfect son, flawless brother, ex-soldier, honnest, courageous and reliable he has always, always has been.
I can handle it.