As ages and centuries pass, people don’t feel the same fears anymore. Centuries ago, when humans were still close to nature, they feared it a lot more than nowadays. People feared wild animals who could devour them, people feared bears’ claws, people feared wolves’ fangs, they trembled when a pack howled in the middle of a dark night…That old fear isn’t really felt anymore by people who live in cities, the light polluting the darkness, and wild animals being far away. People living in cities fear taxes, fear robberies, criminals but that old and ancestral fear to be devoured isn’t felt anymore. After all in a big city like London the chances to face a wild predator are very small.
John Watson had lived in cities most of his life and had seen forest or woods only on some occasions, and had seen wild predators only when he had visited zoos. He had felt fear on the battlefield in Afghanistan, he had feared to die many times, yet the fear he felt tonight was very new to him.
He couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak, he wished to call for his flatmate, but no sounds came out of his throat. He was at Sarah’s place twenty minutes ago but they got in an argument and he decided to go home. It was only when he had taken off his jacket and was about to sat on the armchair that he had seen it: a grey wolf walking slowly across the flat.
His heart almost broke his ribcage and his gut twisted in fear, a very old primal fear: he was going to be devoured. He could see this was no dog, he knew the difference. The beast approached him a little and growled slightly, the sound made gut tighten and sent shivers in John's spine. It was as if he could already feel its fangs in his flesh. Then the wolf went to the door and sat right before it, as if it wanted to block John’s escape.
Now the doctor was standing there, the creature was watching him, its eyes almost forbidding him to do anything but stand here. His first thought was to search for his gun and shoot the beast. He made a step aside, his eyes still on the wolf but he barely got the time to move when the creature growled again, its ear pulled back in sign of a threat. John held up his hands in the air, feeling shivers in his spine again.
The beast calmed down immediately, returning to a cold and serene expression. John tried to think: how did this beast got here? Sherlock brought it here? But where the hell did he found that wolf?! Where was he? No sound hinted his flatmate was around; it was 10 pm, a little early for Sherlock to go to bed.
No one answered, a soft sound emanated from the wolf, as if it knew John wanted an answer. The doctor watched in amazement as the beast’s tail waved a little. It didn’t look like the wolf wanted to attack, in fact, the beast began to lay down on the floor in a relaxed stance. John let out a huff of indignation, the beast was here, serene, while he was scared and forced to stand still. His legs were beginning to ache a little, but he knew he had no choice.
His practical mind decided that if he had no choice but stay like this and not move, he could at least think of his situation. He knew that animals could feel or even smell the fear coming from others, so he tried to calm down. After all, the wolf was just lying down, it wasn’t growling anymore. Maybe it was a domesticated animal, which escaped from a zoo? If it was the case, the beast was certainly used to humans, and then there was less chances for him to be massacred. Yet it growled earlier…Maybe it was simply because it felt John was nervous, after all if this wolf was lost, it was certainly scared. The doctor felt reassured at the perspective that he was simply facing a lost and scared animal. If he stayed there, collected, the beast would calm down and wouldn’t kill him.
John observed it well, true it was a magnificent animal, its fur was grey and white with very slight touch of clear brown and black. Its paws were almost pure white. It was almost hard to imagine that fur stained with the blood of a fresh kill. He was relieved; no blood meant that neither Sherlock nor Mrs Hudson had been hurt. Still, how did it get there?
John continued to stare at it, and though he was still scared, he soon found himself quite fascinated by those amber eyes the creature possessed. It was really something to look into the wolf’s eyes, to stare into those piercing and wild orbs; it seemed to bore in John’s soul. He was somehow entranced, the fright he was feeling didn’t disappear completely but he was also mesmerized and a part of him longed to approach the wolf. Fascination was growing in him, and the doctor soon felt strange warmth. It wasn’t like looking at a wolf behind a zoo’s bars, he was really confronted to the animal, and if it was dangerous, it was also as if John was now directly connected with very ancient roots, as if he was seeing essence of nature and wilderness here. It made his head spin slightly.
It made him realise that he had been wrong in his assumptions earlier: this was no tamed wolf, John was now sure of it deep down.
The wolf was looking back at him and John felt as if they were communicating; as if the wolf was telling him he was no aggressor, that he wouldn’t hurt him, it seemed a little sad in fact. Still, this sorrowful look didn’t take away the proud expression the wolf wore. John didn’t know why but his heart clenched, the sadness and the noble countenance of the wolf melting together were truly a gripping beauty. The longing to approach him became stronger.
“Hey, what are you doing here?”
The wolf tilted his head to the side, and John had the strong impression that the animal was mocking him, as if answering ‘idiot, I can’t answer you.’ The doctor let out a small laugh.
“I know you can’t answer, but I must say I am dying to know. Did Sherlock bring you here?”
The wolf waved his tail again, his eyes now kinder and softer and the fear John had felt was almost non-existent now. The beast stood up slowly and walked toward Sherlock’s bedroom, looking at John’s expectantly, as if he wanted him to follow. The doctor complied, though he knew it could be dangerous. Sherlock’s bedroom was empty; however John saw the detective clothes were sprawled over the floor, as if Sherlock had stripped in haste. The wolf lay down in the middle of the clothes and rolled itself in it, under John’s eyes.
“Stop that, Sherlock won’t really like it if they are dirty.”
The wolf huffed indignantly and picked up something from the floor in his jaw and approached John. The doctor repressed an instinctive feeling to step back, and saw that it was Sherlock’s scarf the wolf was holding. What did he mean? He took it slowly, looked at the wolf, at the scarf again and wondered why the hell the animal gave him this.
The wolf huffed again and exited the room to climb on the sofa. John was confused, he was sure deep inside that the wolf was not tamed, yet he acted as if he was perfectly used to human’s environment.
“Hey, get away from here!”
The beast gave him a look which meant: try to make me get down. The more he thought about it, the more he was sure that Sherlock had brought him here and forgot to tell John. He was going to kill his flatmate. Sure the beast was beautiful and not nasty but hell he got really scared!
He sat in the armchair and continued to watch the predator. He looked sad again and John felt melancholy spread in him. What was this wolf doing here, far from the forest, from the wild mountains? He should be in a pack, howling at the moon and running through the trees. Yet he had been brought here, what for? By a zoo which would exhibit his beauty for some stupid spectators? By his own flatmate who needed to satisfy a strange demand? Who took him away from his savage life? Was he even born in the wild to begin with? John’s heart clenched at the idea that the wolf might have never seen the forest. Yet he doubted it. Once again, something in the creature’s eyes convinced him that he had been free at least once, and maybe those amber, sorrowful orbs just called for freedom.
“You are not a pet,” said John slowly, “you are a wild one and untamed…Even if you can behave, no one could be your master.”
The wolf’s tail waved slightly and his expression grew prouder, confirming what John just said. It was strange how he felt like there was some kind of bound, of comprehension between them. Somehow it was easier for him to communicate with this wolf than with some humans, the creature was still very mysterious to him and yet a link was forming, he could feel it. When he thought about it, it seemed that he had a tendency to befriend creatures that other people qualified as dangerous, Sherlock first and now a wolf. They were both misjudged according to John. He had no difficulty imagining the whole Yard, Donovan and Anderson first, chasing and killing down the wolf.
He felt a wave of sadness at this, and the wolf certainly felt it because he cried slightly. John smiled to the beast.
“Don’t worry, I don’t know why you’re here, but once Sherlock is back, we’ll work on setting you free.”
A wave of tail and a flash of warmth in the creature’s eyes was his answer. John thought what he said; he would help him, contact an animal protection league and do everything possible to have this wolf put in a forest or in a park where he could be free, with other wolves. Even if he knew he would never see the wolf again, it would be enough to know he would be free and alive.
He allowed his head to lean against the armchair and continued to look at the wolf while thinking, and slowly, he felt his eyes getting heavier and heavier and though his survival instincts screamed for him to lock himself in his room, he fell asleep here in the armchair. He dreamed that night, he dreamed about many things, the wolf among them, he dreamed of him running in the forest and he also saw Sherlock in the middle of the woods in this dream. It was strange and soothing at the same time.
He woke up when he felt something scratching his arm. He opened his eyes to see it was the wolf brushing his arm with his paw to wake him up. Once again, John was astonished, the wolf cried slightly and went to the window, looking at John, expecting him to come. John rose from the chair, heavy and dizzy, it was very early in the morning, the sun was about to rise, night disappearing slowly. He noticed Sherlock’s dressing gown was right beside the wolf, just before the window. It wasn’t here yesterday, did the wolf brought it here?
He was taken out of his thought when he heard a low, soft howl emanating from the wolf. He was howling to the dying night, eyes closed, once again, John felt shiver in his spine, not out of fear but fascination. This guttural sound was like some kind of strange song, a lament for the moon. The first rays of light caressed the animal slowly.
When the wolf opened his eyes again, he looked at John and the doctor felt his head spin when he saw that the wolf’s eyes weren’t amber anymore but grey. His breath stopped when he began to understand the truth. He backed away and felt completely numb as he watched the wolf’s body contorting and transforming. In the end, instead of a grey wolf, he had his flatmate facing him.
Sherlock’s first gesture was to put on the dressing gown he had brought here on purpose. His eyes never left John, wondering what kind of reaction he would have. The doctor breathed again, quickly, at the point he almost hyperventilated. He collapsed on the sofa, completely numb and baffled by what he just saw.
“I know…I know it’s a big shock for you but you had to know. I thought about this all night, I knew I couldn’t hide it from you for long.”
John began to breathe heavily again, his head spinned again he was very dizzy. Sherlock was the wolf…Sherlock had transformed into a wolf! He just saw a wolf changing into a human being! He was shaking now.
“Stay here,” instructed Sherlock.
He went to the kitchen and filled a glass of water, then gave it to John who accepted it with a shaking hand, looking at Sherlock warily. Sorrow filled the detective’s eyes at this and John was reminded of the wolf. So Sherlock was apprehending his reaction, was that why he was sad? He drank the water in a gulp.
“You…What are you?”
“I don’t know…Some would say werewolf, but I don’t think so. Technically a werewolf is a hybrid who can’t control its appetite for human meat. I change into a real wolf and I can control myself perfectly. However, those changes happen during the full moon. You may have never noticed but I always stay alone when it comes.”
John thought about it and realised that it was true that three nights per months, Sherlock would stay hidden in his room, even if they were in the middle of a case, he always claimed that he needed to think, or needed to rest. He had noticed this, but not that it was during the full moon.
“I wasn’t aware…No one in the Yard ever suspected?”
“Are you kidding? I could change under their eyes they would barely see it.”
John’s lips quirked slightly into a smile, and he thought again about the moment when he saw Sherlock in a wolf form.
“Why did you do that?!”
Sherlock was taken aback by his flatmate outburst.
“You scared the hell out of me, you growled on me and threatened me!”
“I had to, I couldn’t risk you to go out and call for authorities! Imagine if they had taken me to a zoo or shot me!”
This made John remember what he had thought earlier, how he imagined well the whole Yard chasing down the wolf. It reminded him of his resolution to do anything to protect the wolf and set him free. Well now he realised he didn’t have to call an animal protection league, but he still had to help the wolf. Still it was so surrealistic; it was as if he was still dreaming. He stood on shaky legs.
“Let me time to think…”
“If you want to leave, I would understand.”
“I didn’t say that…I just…need to think.”
He left and went to his bedroom. He stayed there a long time, thinking, replaying the event. Now he understood the thing with the scarf, the wolf (Sherlock, for God’s sake it was Sherlock) was trying to tell him the truth. But why? Obviously he feared his reaction. Sherlock simply decided to trust him. Even if he was shocked and shaken, John decided he wouldn’t disappoint him. He was still nervous, but whatever was happening to his friend, they would simply live with it.
He exited the room, and saw Sherlock fully dressed sitting there, and John recognized the sad and noble countenance of the wolf.
“You have questions,” stated Sherlock.
“Hum…Since how long?”
“Years, it started when I was twenty.”
“No one ever noticed?”
“No, not even Mycroft. It’s one of the many reasons for me to keep my distances from him.”
“How did it happen?”
“I don’t know…It just did, I have searched for answer but found none for sure. It’s highly probable for it to be in my blood.”
“Yes, one day I read a book, about occultism and transformation which said that some people had it in their blood to transform into wolves, and their eyes were grey like the moon. It’s as if when I was human, something from the wolf remained.”
“You…Why did you decided to trust me?”
“You are trustable. Plus, when I saw you back to the flat, I knew it would be impossible to hide it anymore. And you seemed, well, compassionate toward a wolf, so it seemed possible that you would be toward me.”
John smiled slightly at this.
“So…It will happen again tonight?”
“Okay…Well…I will buy some raw meat then.”
Sherlock laughed slightly at that. He paused thoughtfully.
“You know John you were right about one thing.”
“As a wolf or as a man, I can’t be tamed and I’ll never have a master.”
With that, the detective stood up and took his violin. John smiled, it was very true; Sherlock was wild as a wolf or as a man, only accepting the one he considered as close (as his pack) and biting everyone else who could try to submit him. No one, not the Yarders, nor Mycroft would ever be able to tame that wolf-man. As for Watson, he would simply never try.