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There is a light seed grain inside / you fill it with yourself or it dies
Sherlock/John, R for swears, 3250 words.

In the Ramayana, the hero is greeted by the gods with a shower of a thousand blossoms--soft silk petals flying everywhere, wind blowing in his face and whipping his clothes, scent filling the air. A blizzard of flowers.

Sherlock Holmes feels air--pressure and movement--but it has always been empty. The darkness is complete.

--

Bill's grave is near the very back, underneath a tree. It's a smaller stone next to the marble statues and granite pillars; John walks past three angels, towering crosses, and a headstone almost flat on the ground. He's carrying a shopping bag and a bundle of crinkling wrapping paper. It's unseasonably cold today, even though the sky is perfectly blue.

There's nobody else in the cemetery, and John pulls his jacket tighter around him as he kneels down awkwardly by Bill's gravestone. He feels stumpy and blunted and useless.

"I would've brought you the fish and chips from that pub, but there's nobody really watching this place properly, the raccoons would get at them," he says quietly. From the shopping bag he pulls out a six-pack of Stella Artois bottles, and then another one, and another one, and adds three more bottles to the pile. "This is for every time I said I'd buy you a drink, so now we're even and anybody walking by will think you're a complete lush. Which is true."

On top of all the bottles, he puts down his bundle of paper: a bouquet of white carnations, their scent still faint and fragile. "You bloody wanker, Bill, you bastard," he says quietly, and balls up his fist against the headstone.

When his eyes stop stinging, he wipes at his face and gets up. The paper ruffles in the wind; one of the bottles has tipped over, and he sets it upright again. He jabs his cane into the ground and starts limping for the exit.

Hello--

There's a small gray gravestone over near the tree there. A big tree branch has crashed down on it, leaves and bent splinters--must have been from the windstorm two days ago. John ambles towards it, picks up the branch to toss it away, dusts away the stray leaves.

Sherlock Holmes, 1976-2010. Bloody hell, the poor bugger was only thirty-four.

John hobbles back to Bill's grave, eases himself down for a moment, and then returns. He's got a single carnation in one hand. "Funny name you've got," he murmurs gently, and puts the flower down on top of the grass.

When he leaves he balls up the empty plastic bag and stuffs it into a trash bin. He keeps his head down all the way home on the bus, hoping people won't look too closely at his blotchy nose and red-ringed eyes.

--

Sherlock makes a mad dash at the petals as they fall around him, snatching them out of the air and nearly crushing them in his fist. He rubs them between his fingers and thumb, bringing them up to his nose, cupping them in both hands.

Dianthus caryophyllus, a white carnation. Just one.

"But somebody came," he says aloud, his whole chest throbbing in time with his head as he stares down at the petals, "somebody remembered me."

--

He doesn't know what makes him do it, but John pauses by the flower shop and then pushes the door open to a jingle of bells. The florist chews gum and has his earbuds in as he rings up John's order, flourishing the wrapping paper and winking.

Somebody's drunk all of Bill's beer--the bottles are scattered everywhere, one or two are broken. John flips a coin between amusement and indignation, and it comes up bittersweet: Bill would probably be the first to suggest something like raiding a graveyard at midnight. He cleans up the glass and pours out the rest, dusting up Bill's grave until it's perfectly tidy.

The carnation he left by Sherlock Holmes's grave is starting to wilt, and John unwraps the yellow zinnias he brought. "Yellow zinnias mean daily remembrance," he says, "I looked it up. So--you know, someone's thinking of you more than once. I thought you'd like that."

He puts the zinnias down, fixes a bloom that's half-broken off its stalk, and clears his throat confusedly before leaving. He picks up a couple of pieces of trash before he goes, carrying them out past the gates in his pockets--why don't they bring a bloody trash bin in here?

--

Yellow, yellow like sunshine, yellow like clean warmth. Sherlock tosses up a handful of petals over his head and gets them in his hair and laughs, he can laugh again, he is laughing. His whole body is being lit up by a smile.

--

The next week John brings purple hyacinths--sorrow, apology, regret. "Thirty-four's too young," he tells the headstone, leaning against the tree and stretching out his sore leg. "I tried to look up your death notice in the paper but I couldn't find one. So I put up an ad for information on Craigslist. I promise I'm not actually a creepy stalker, despite all appearances."

He looks down, scuffing the grass with his foot. "And, um. You're dead. So you probably can't hear this. So... I'm going to head off now."

He turns to go, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. But suddenly he stops: for a second, just for a second, he has the sensation of someone taking a long cord inside his body and giving it a sharp tug towards the ground.

Dizziness--no, it doesn't feel like--no. No, it's got to be dizziness. A sudden attack of dizziness. It can't be anything else. Don't be stupid.

John grips his cane tighter as he very distinctly does not rush for the exit. But he stops on the way there, sighing to himself and rolling his eyes, and finds a stray rock and props up the almost-fallen over headstone just a bit. What Craig J. Degan did to offend gravity so badly he'll never know.

--

"Come back," Sherlock yells at the top of his lungs, soundlessly. "Come back! Who are you?"

--

John gets a case of the shivers every time he thinks about the graveyard that week, turning up the heat in his flat and piling on the jumpers. He makes himself turn the lamp off when he goes to sleep, and scolds himself at least three times a day.

On Saturday he gets an email, one line, unsigned: "Don't ask about Sherlock Holmes." When he tries replying, the email bounces back.

On Monday he tells himself he's being an idiot about eighteen times, put all thoughts of ghosts and secret government conspiracies out of his head, and picks up a bouquet in the shop. He insists on tipping the flower guy and gets a distinctly flirtatious grin back, which is flattering for a forty-something ex-army vet with a cane and buoys him all the way into the graveyard.

"White poppies mean consolation," he says to the carved name, his mouth unexpectedly dry. It's very quiet, the wind has died down and the trees are still. He feels the silence like a knife at his throat and tries to swallow. "I don't know why I'm not supposed to ask about you, but I'll keep bringing the flowers." He almost says if you want, but stops himself in time. "They're just flowers. It's not--I don't even, I--I just don't think you should--well, you should have something. Somebody to remember you."

For a minute there is absolutely nothing, and John is about to pick up his cane again.

The tug is stronger, insistent, and it is not dizziness, and John actually feels light-headed with panic for a moment. He stumbles, and when he looks up there's an outline of a man standing behind the gravestone.

John says "fuck" about fifty times, and "Jesus" about twenty-two times, as he's bolting for the gate and slamming it behind him. When he stops by the bus shelter four blocks away, he's panting for breath and shaking worse than he's ever done in his life.

--

It isn't possible to weep anymore. The emotion is already fading with the man's departure, soon it'll disappear again.

"Please," whispers Sherlock as white flowers whirl away in the wind and disappear, "please, please..."

--

A week goes by, and John doesn't visit the graveyard.

In the middle of the next week, on Wednesday, John puts up a new ad on Craigslist. Thursday night he gets a response: "Don't ask about Sherlock Holmes."

He puts up another ad on Friday morning. The email comes dated to the early hours of Saturday morning, about one-thirty a.m.: "Don't ask about Sherlock Holmes. This is your final warning."

--

There's actually someone else there the day John visits next--two someones, a couple holding hands. They're very young and the girl has obviously been crying. John jumps about a foot at first, and then takes a moment to get his heartbeat in order, and carefully approaches.

Nicholas Hatmer, April-August 2010: the headstone is very small and carries a silver plaque. John gives them a couple of flowers from his bouquet, hugs the girl and grips the man's hand.

He sits cross-legged under the tree and waits until the couple has gone, and then puts down the flowers: yellow roses, tied with a white silk ribbon. "You have a friend," he says quietly, evenly, and grips both hands together white-knuckled.

It's not a tug. It's like a touch, but not, it's a touch without actual sensation--more like awareness--and he holds himself very still. His eyes are huge in his drained face.

The man's face fills in first, and then his upper body, and then his feet as he steps forward through the gravestone. "Please?" he says without sound, holding out both hands, and when John--gingerly, doing his best not to tremble--holds out his he takes them. It feels like John's put both hands deep in ice water. The man sighs with his whole body, shutting his eyes.

"I took drugs while I was alive and I put aside my emotions to deal with cases," he says--again noiselessly, the words shaping themselves in John's head like his own thoughts. "And now this. Hah--" it's a puff of air more than it's a laugh, his mouth twisting up.

The man looks odd--gaunt cheekbones and tilted eyes in a long face--but when he looks directly at John his gaze splits him open like a fish. John doesn't move his hands or look away. "Who are you?"

"You read the gravestone."

"No, that's not--why are people telling me not to ask about you? What did you do? How are you here?"

"You're curious," says the man, "I feel it too," and tilted his head. "What's your name?"

"I asked you first!" says John, just slightly (and perfectly understandably) hysterical.

"Please don't be frightened," says the man. "I wasn't a very good person but I can be. You brought me flowers, I still have the carnation petals."

"You--what? Sorry--"

"I can't show you, I can't risk them blowing away. But they're in here." The man pats his breast pocket, flattening his hand against his chest. "They've still kept their scent. They shouldn't do that, everything else goes dark, but they do. I need to know your name, I have to."

"I'm John," John says very quietly, "John Watson. I was a doctor in the army and one of my mates got killed, that's why I was here with flowers. He's over there--" he nods his head and swallows.

"You miss him." The man--Sherlock--blinks. "You were close?"

"You're in my head," John says, his fingers curling up against thin air.

"No. I mean--I don't mean to. Even when I was alive I couldn't help it." Sherlock half-laughs, a little wildly, a little pleadingly. "It's not a bad place, your mind, it's nice, I like it. Don't go."

"Okay," John says evenly, and draws a long breath and looks down. "Why am I not supposed to ask about you?"

Sherlock runs a finger along the lifeline in John's palm, and John feels like he's been hit with a lightning bolt of ice. "I wasn't very good but there were worse people than me. I hunted them down and they killed me. They're still alive."

"Hunted them down how?"

"The world's only consulting detective." Sherlock makes another sound that isn't quite a laugh. "I was very good, really I was. You don't believe me because I'm dead, but I was the best."

"I believe you. I don't know why I haven't heard anything of you."

"Lestrade took all the credit. Scotland Yard. I always--" Sherlock winces, and the chill around John's hands deepens. "--you, you, you're getting too cold, I can't--let me go. I can't do this to you."

"What--" John looks down: his hands are white, verging on blue.

"Verging on addictive behaviour." Sherlock steps back, fading. "Come back again. Please come back."

"I will," John promises, and Sherlock vanishes.

--

John can't sleep that night, staring at the ceiling. He'd soaked his hands in warm water until the feeling came back, and now he twitches a few of his fingers experimentally, just testing.

He wonders what colour Sherlock's eyes would have been, his hair, his skin. He wonders what his hands would have really felt like.

--

When he returns, he brings pink roses.

"Mummy tried growing these one summer outside our house," Sherlock says, sitting on top of his own headstone. It's a casual gesture that looks far too surreal. "No other plant, just roses. But they died fast and she didn't bother hiring a gardener."

"Is your mother--"

"I haven't seen her." Sherlock swings one foot idly. "Not yet, anyways. You want to know all about the afterlife."

"I want to know about you," John confesses, and Sherlock tightens his grip around John's hand involuntarily.

--

"You give me feeling," Sherlock says, pacing from nowhere to nowhere, voiceless in the dark. "You give me a heart. I cannot be without you. I remember with you. You remember me. I need you. I want you."

--

"He keeps visiting the headstone and bringing flowers," the man reports. "Should we pick him up?"

James Moriarty leans back in his chair, thinking as he taps his keyboard. "Still under surveillance... no," he says aloud, coming out of his reverie, "shoot him. Send Mycroft Holmes a message."

--

That day it's late afternoon, and John stumps across the grass and curses under his breath as he wrestles with his cane and paper packages.

He leaves a small bouquet of apple blossom for Nicholas Hatmer, and picks up a wrapper and a piece of a glass bottle nearby, and gives Bill a bundle of white lilies, and props up Craig J. Degan's gravestone again--he was ninety-four when he died, maybe he's being cantankerous--and finally makes his way to Sherlock's spot.

The yank on the invisible cord is almost instantaneous, so sharp it makes John double over. Sherlock's whole face is lit up, which quickly changes when he sees John. "Did I hurt you?"

"No, just--one moment," John manages, wincing, and straightens up. "Really, it's fine, I'm okay. It's good to see you."

"Tell me about the conference," Sherlock orders, settling in.

"You should've been there, you would've actually understood it." John rubs the back of his neck, smiling crookedly. He's living for two now and it's very exhausting and bewildering. He finally has a purpose again, and he wonders if he can handle it. "The keynote speaker was this guy talking about robotics and artificial intelligence--whoa, sorry--" the last bouquet slips out of his hands and he bends down to retrieve it, then awkwardly props it up against the headstone. "Er. There're your flowers."

Sherlock is looking straight at him. "Red roses."

"Yeah," says John on a short exhaled breath, tense, wide-eyed. This is the most certifiably insane thing he's ever done in his life and the thing he's been the most sure about.

Sherlock steps forward, and then the world goes black.

--

The two people walking by outside the graveyard, one with their dog, couldn't agree later on what it was they heard. The dog started jumping and barking like a maniac, which didn't help. They agreed that it was high-pitched, and loud, and creepy, but one insisted it was human and one insisted it wasn't, and one thought he'd heard words.

They met up at the archway, looking at each other with brief terrified stares, and ran together towards the sound. Lying at the foot of a grave was a short blond man, and he was bleeding from a bullet wound to the head, and the woman fumbled for her cellphone with shaking fingers while the man went to his knees beside the victim.

The ambulance arrived inside a few minutes, and only then did the noise--which no-one else could seem to hear--come to a stop.

--

On the outside, John is being strapped up to tubes and machines and hauled into a bed, doctors standing over him with shining lights and glinting instruments, the smell of cotton and antiseptic and floor cleaner everywhere.

On the inside, John is floating.

He feels himself slowly drifting, sinking except in no direction, getting closer. He feels something approaching. No sound, no light, no emotion.

John, says Sherlock, and he's beside him. Stop. Stop moving. Don't go. You're getting too close, stop it.

Go where?

Beyond. Don't go.

Why not?

Because I need you with me.

Then come with me.

I can't--

It feels right.

Don't say that. You have to come back to me.

Sherlock, let me go.

I won't let you, I--no no no, stop, stop it, don't--don't, please--please, John, stop it, don't leave me. You can't, I love you--John--

--

The thing about cords is that really, they're threads.

The thing about threads is that all the time they're being spun.

The thing about spinning is that sometimes, there are knots.

--

John Watson wakes up in a hospital, with Harry sobbing over him and hitting him and hugging him, and feels wobbly for the next twenty-four hours.

He passes this time comforting his sister, doing medical tests, going to the bathroom, changing the channels on the telly, leafing through a book, and dozing off. He picks at the meal they give him but doesn't eat much. He watches the people walk past in the hallway.

He's waiting for something and he can't figure out what for.

And then a nurse comes in around midday, with a clipboard and pen, and clears her throat to get his attention. "Sir, you have a visitor asking to see you. A Mister Sherlock Holmes?"

Sherlock's hair is black, and his eyes are gray, and his skin is very pale. When he takes John's hand, his hand feels like a violinist's or a surgeon's--long precise fingers, cool and dry and unyielding.

"You're not making my life make much sense, are you," John croaks.

"I don't think you mind," Sherlock says. "You'll help me figure this out, won't you?", and leans down to kiss him for a solid minute.

--

The day John leaves the hospital, Sherlock brings him a bouquet of coral and orange roses.



Fathers are biological necessities, but social accidents
John, Sherlock, and Mycroft, genfic, R for some very brief swearing (warning: character death). 2366 words.

On that day Sherlock came over in the morning to bring him coffee and a newspaper; Mycroft had some sort of meeting in Russia and he was already on the plane, but he'd call later.

John put on his reading glasses and thumbed through the pages, looking for the crossword; Sherlock flicked him a pen across the table as he rooted around for a clean mug. John watched him out of the corner of his eye.

When he'd first met Sherlock at the age of five, the boy was skinny and unnatural looking--a long face, pointy chin and elbows and nose and knees for jabbing, scrawny legs and arms, strange gray eyes. He didn't smile at anyone--Mycroft, solid and stout with that big nose wrinkling up--and he spoke in short one- or two-word sentences.

Sherlock was now six feet tall with a deep baritone that was just then complaining about the lack of milk, and John put down the paper to look at him properly. Something was pulling his mouth in all different directions and it was very annoying.

"You know what you're getting this Christmas, John? A cow. From that--what's it called--that charity, Send A Cow. Mycroft and I are officially getting you a cow."

"The cow they give you goes to a family in Africa, Sherlock," John said mildly, leaning down to scratch with his pen.

"Fourteen across is 'multiplicity'," said Sherlock without turning his back, shutting the fridge and clumping over to the table.

John kept his head bent over the page.

"Eighteen down is 'supine'."

John licked his lips briefly, printing in large capital letters.

"Twenty-one across is 'obsequious'--" Sherlock defended himself with raised arms as John beat him about the head with the rolled-up newspaper, the coffee mug in one hand splashing around dangerously. John was cursing like a sailor and Sherlock was laughing, mouth stretched wide in an easy smile.

John ate all of Sherlock's eggs in retaliation, doing battle with fork and knife. He rubbed the capsaicin cream into his hands as Sherlock folded his scarf around his neck; Sherlock passed him his cane and held the door open for him.

--

When Sherlock was five and a half he sat cross-legged on top of John's suitcase and refused to move. "I'm going to kick you if you try picking me up," he told John.

"I'll put my things in the grocery bags, then." John headed for the top of the stairs, still carrying two sweaters.

"You can't do that, I hid them all where you can't find them!" Sherlock yelled after him.

"Then I'll use a couple of garbage bags." Count backwards from ten...

"You'll look stupid!" Sherlock stormed.

"My sister and my mum won't care."

"You look stupid right now!" the boy screamed. "You are stupid! You're the most idiotic person in the entire world, you're boring and slow and hateful--"

"Can you go throw your little tantrum outside and let me finish this paper? Please?" Mycroft complained from the next bedroom over. Sherlock launched himself off the suitcase and into Mycroft's bedroom.

"Right--" John dropped his things and dove at the two: Sherlock was pummelling Mycroft with fast blows, Mycroft was punching back and grunting and stomping on Sherlock's feet. "Mycroft, sit down. I'll see you in a moment."

He grabbed Sherlock's wrists and then held him tight, both arms wrapped around Sherlock. Sherlock hit at him blindly with balled-up fists, as hard as he could, and John shut his eyes and waited.

The fists slowly came down. Sherlock buried his head in John's shoulder and grabbed at his jumper. John rested his nose in Sherlock's hair, breathing, and drew him close and held out an arm to Mycroft.

--

John walked with Sherlock up the river, listening to the seagulls and the cars passing by. His arthritis was now playing silly buggers with his legs and he stumped determinedly along with a mule's expression.

"I think I suddenly need a rest," Sherlock said aloud. "On that bench right over there. It's possible--"

"Keep walking, Sherlock."

Sherlock made a rude noise at him and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He shortened his stride to match John's automatically these days, without even thinking about it. John batted away an empty Red Bull can with his cane and then wound up, gave it an almighty drop kick that sent it flying.

"You know, the world's oldest rugby player was on the field until he was ninety-five," Sherlock said, watching it hit the trash bin nearby.

"I'll keep going until I'm a hundred, then."

"Then you'll retire to help me keep bees--"

"We've gone over this," John groaned, rolling his eyes. "You're insane, and I'm not going within fifteen feet of a bee."

"I am not insane, and you're going to help me with the hives every morning. After you've eaten a breakfast of bananas."

"Why bananas?"

"Bananas contain the same pheromone that alerts the bees to danger, so they'll all sting you instead of me," Sherlock said serenely, and John attempted to break Sherlock's shins with his cane. Very gently. The wind picked up, and the morning dimmed briefly as clouds passed by overhead. Nearby a woman was pushing her double stroller along, a big golden Lab trotting behind.

--

"Your mum told me what happened," John said, sitting on the couch with his elbows resting against his knees. "You tell me now."

Seven-year-old Sherlock kept his arms folded, staring at a patch of carpet near the fireplace.

"Sherlock." John kept his voice soft. "I want to hear your side of the story."

"The whole exercise is pointless." Sherlock scowled at the patch of carpet. "I hate it."

"Why do you hate it?"

"Nobody cares about this stuff," Sherlock huffed, swinging one leg. "It's just a story. I don't care about intentional fallacy or metanarratives or any of it. It's boring. It's a bunch of people being dull and predictable and talking about their feelings for eighteen billion pages and nobody does anything. And Dr. Davis says I have to learn all this for school and Mummy says I have to go and I can't get out of it."

"It's bloody awful." John leans back against the sofa, tilting his head to look over at Sherlock. "You like chemistry and math better, don't you?"

"Yeah." One corner of Sherlock's mouth twitched upwards, as he wiggled his foot.

"You're really good at those," John said as he stretched out his own legs. "Better than some of my professors at med school, and I'm not just saying that."

"Really?" Sherlock's voice went smaller.

"Really. Trust me, I was there, I took their tests." John shook his head. "Hey, Sherlock, look at me."

Sherlock did. John put his arm around the back of the sofa, over Sherlock's head. "This part with the books and the essays and all the literature is really, truly boring and I know you hate it. I'm sorry. But you get through it and you turn in all the stuff, and when you go to university--when you grow up--you get to do whatever you want to do. You can be a chemist or a physicist or a mathematician or--I don't know. Anything you want."

"Anything?"

"Anything."

--

"I need to get back to the flat now, Lestrade gave me the--" Sherlock began, turning to him, when somebody screamed.

They both turned. The woman pushing her stroller was clinging to it as the dog barked madly, and a man was tearing down the riverside with her bag--her expensive black leather bag with gold clasps--in both arms.

He flew towards them, legs pumping, teeth bared, "get out of the fucking way", and John lashed out with his cane at knee height. The man went crashing to the grass. When he came up spitting and punching, John dodged neatly and jabbed him in the stomach with the cane, winding him in a sudden sharp thrust.

The man slumped back, gasping feebly for air, and John wrenched the bag away and tucked it carefully under his arm. Sherlock was already on the phone, the woman was rushing towards them, and the man just shook his head. "How fuckin' old are you?"

"Old enough to be in Afghanistan, young man, which I would keep in mind for next time," John said briskly, and kept the tip of his cane solidly on the man's chest until the police car showed up.

--

John stood up to get his things from the overhead compartment, managing to brain himself with his duffel bag, and shuffled out into the aisle with everybody else; the plane was crowded, people chattering at the tops of their lungs and someone laughing incessantly in the back. Outside snow was thick on the ground, lights blinking in the distance against the gloomy gray sky.

He inched his way towards the exit, tiny patient exhausted steps, and finally--finally--found a clear route through, and ducked and jostled and trudged his way through the terminal. His bloody limp was playing up again and the place was packed, people swarming everywhere, too noisy and too bright--

There.

"Sherlock! Mycroft!" John called out.

The boys sat up straight. Sherlock scrambled out of his seat, tearing loose, and flew into John's arms like an oncoming tornado; John gathered him up and held on tight, laughing, swinging him about, and ran his hand gently through Sherlock's messy hair. He let go to give Mycroft a proper hug, squeezing him hard, and Sherlock was already grabbing at his free hand and yanking at him.

Sherlock didn't stop talking all the way home in the cab, or go below ninety decibels, and he was grinning all over so hard his face must have been hurting. Mycroft didn't say much, sat quietly and properly beside his brother, but John winked at him and his whole face glowed.

--

Later that day, after they'd made the report to the huddle of officers and the man had been cuffed, after Sherlock had ordered him a cab home and John had tidied up a bit in the flat, vacuuming and cleaning out the fridge, he had his doctor's appointment.

A few weeks later, he was called back into the office. "The extent to which it's spread would make treatment very difficult," the doctor was informing him as gently as possible.

He smiled at her, his eyes creasing up at the corners. "I've fought off a lot of things," he told her, shrugging ruefully. "I'm used to a state of warfare."

--

The first thing Sherlock brought to him in the hospital was a serving of banana pudding. John cursed at him in three different languages and pretended not to notice Sherlock's white-knuckled grip on his hand.

Mycroft gave him books and magazines and sat by him for hours on end, sharing meals, texting work affairs to his assistant who floated in and out--John never quite managed to catch her for a proper conversation. "I've always felt so much safer around you," John told him in a morphine haze at one point. "I could never help trusting you. I never told you how grateful I was for that."

"If you keep talking like that, I will find a bedpan around here somewhere," Mycroft informed him. John had first met him at the age of nine, and now Mycroft was six-foot-one and slim and immaculately tailored and groomed, and his voice was not at all steady.

--

The hazes grew longer. John left his bed less often.

The boys were always there now, one or both, and they rarely spoke anymore. John reached up to touch Sherlock's face, pushing his hair aside, and then took his hand. Across from Sherlock's seat the machines beeped quietly.

--

When Sherlock was twelve, he didn't sit on John's suitcase.

John went into his bedroom instead, carefully pushing the door open and stepping inside. There were books and clothes everywhere, beakers and dishes propped up, the violin case sitting underneath Sherlock's window and photos tacked up with tape. Sherlock was folded up on the bed, knees to his chest and back to the wall.

John sat down on the opposite end; Sherlock didn't look up.

"You've got my phone number and email, yeah?" When Sherlock shrugged: "Sherlock, look at me."

Those strange gray eyes. Narrow, feline, changeable--sullen and red-ringed. Certain services of members of the domestic staff were no longer required, and John had already been handed an envelope with a considerable redundancy cheque.

John leaned in. "I don't care if it's two in the morning. I don't care if you're drunk or high or in jail. Whenever you call that number, whenever you pick up the phone, I will always answer, and if you say the word I will always come find you. I promise."

"Please take me with you," Sherlock said, almost too quietly to be heard.

John shut his eyes briefly and looked down at the covers on Sherlock's bed. He'd asked that twice before, the second time just last night.

("I'm serious, I can't--I hate it here--Mummy's never around and Mycroft and I are always fighting now, I can't--I just--I'll help out at your place, I swear, I'll keep everything tidy and I'll go to school, just please, please let me come--")

He reached over and kissed the top of Sherlock's head, and put the parcel he was carrying into Sherlock's hands, and got up and shut the door behind him.

When Sherlock finally took the wrapping off, he turned the book over in his hands and ran his finger along the title: a biography of Dr. Joseph Bell.

--


"I can't," said Sherlock into the phone, his voice very clipped as he paced up and down the hallway. "Not right now."

After a moment--"Because my father's just passed away, and Mycroft and I have to arrange a funeral. Not right now."

He hung up, and listened to the silence left by those words, and wondered vaguely why his legs wouldn't hold him up anymore all of a sudden.



As any she belied with false compare
Sherlock/girl!John (with background Mycroft/Lestrade), PG-13, 2759 words. Thank you endlessly to the person who pointed out that Harriet wouldn't be doing sales tax math in Great Britain. ;)


Joanna looks in the mirror and sees her sister.

Obviously not in a literal sense, no, but. It's.

Harriet is pure platinum blonde, and her hair is thick and wavy, and it shines like a bloody shampoo commercial and she manages to accomplish this without fifteen million different products in the morning. Harriet's skin is immaculate and her eyebrows are gracefully arched; her lips are perfect, her eyes are perfect, her slow lingering sway in her high heels is perfect.

Joanna's hair is darker, and has a tendency to frizz; Joanna gets sunburn and freckles and pimples, all at the same time. if she even thinks about her skin; Joanna tripped halfway down the stairs the first time she wore high heels (in fairness, she was six years old and they were Mummy's best shoes).

Mummy sent her to her room for the rest of the day, and took the cost of repairing the broken heel out of her allowance. Much later Joanna would come down the hallway with her bag over her shoulder and see Mum standing at the bottom of the stairs as Harriet slowly wobbled down, hand clutching the railing, carefully setting down one high heel after another. They clumped on the wooden stairs, a dull thunk-thunk.

"Careful, take it--take all the time you need," Mum was urging her, and Harriet looked over at Joanna and smiled. A perfect gleaming white-tooth smile.

Joanna smiled back.

--

Her parents didn't mean--they never meant to put up a rivalry. Of course not. Joanna knows they loved both their daughters equally, they really did.

Her mother didn't love her any less than Harriet. Her mother took her out hiking and nursed her through the stomach flu and chicken pox, and signed her up for her first library card. But her mother loved getting dressed up--choosing the jewellery, applying the makeup, dabbing scent and whisking through the closet--she loved clothes shopping and glittery expensive stuff and wafting by in a cloud of silk and polish and perfume. And so did Harriet.

Joanna looked at herself in the mirror as she grew up and tried to experiment with the makeup Harry lent her, tried styling her hair like the magazines said. She usually gave up halfway through. Harry's lipstick and eyeshadow made her look sleek, alluring, older and mature. Joanna looked like a badly painted doll.

She looked at herself in the mirror, and then pushed out her tongue and made her eyes go googly-crossed, and stuffed the magazines below her textbooks and flopped back onto her bed to read.

--

Joanna made it through medical school half-awake seventy-five percent of the time, a cup of coffee constantly in one hand, and trudged through the hallways with a heavy backpack on her shoulders. She had circles under her eyes that she fought half-heartedly, a constant faint pallor, a distant preoccupied look.

Joanna pinned back her hair in a firm knot in the army and wore no makeup; her freckles stood out under the sun, her cheeks flushing, and her nails were ragged: she picked away hangnails before putting on latex gloves, an absent habit. The guys in her unit were completely respectful, and a lot of them talked about their girlfriends and families at home--Joanna Watson, one of the guys, hanging out and sharing beers in their uniforms, playing football on the base. Heavy-duty boots, well-worn uniforms patched up, the constant whiff of sunscreen and bug repellent and cleaning fluid.

A bullet cracked open her shoulder and left a scar, a white ugly crooked gash across her collarbone. When she came back from Afghanistan, she was walking with a cane.

Joanna doesn't really look at the mirror anymore when she undresses or brushes her teeth. She's not avoiding it, it's just.

--

Sherlock Holmes wears silk shirts and a tailored Belstaff coat, and Joanna thinks of Harriet going through the racks at the Burberry sales: up and down the aisles, checking price tags, doing calculations with her cellphone. Sherlock calls it all transport, and Joanna instinctively suppresses a reaction--what, she's not really sure, and she's surprised at herself a second later.

Sherlock explodes his flat on a regular basis and shoots things and keeps entire corpses in the fridge, in some combination of parts, and there is always something living in the flat besides Sherlock and Joanna--mold experiments, algae, mushrooms, mice, a peacock (best not to ask).

"Not all gay men wear product in their hair," she points out as they're walking along the Thames. "I mean, your hair is nice."

Sherlock looks faintly puzzled at that, like he's never heard of salon appointments or conditioner. "I know they don't, not statistically speaking--I inferred based on a combination of different factors. Of course he planned it all, he knew exactly how I'd observe him and draw my conclusions. He caught me out."

Sherlock doesn't sound displeased at that thought. "He was using Molly to get to you," Joanna says quietly.

"Well, she's seeing Donovan now, which is marginally better," Sherlock says with a shrug, and then looks over at Joanna: "Yes, really," and then: "Oh, come on--admittedly it wasn't obvious at first but they--"

"You're not going to get free corpses much longer," Joanna says, smiling in spite of herself then.

"So I'll have to stock up," Sherlock says serenely, over Joanna's moan of "Oh, bloody hell," and sudden visions of their fridge. "I'll make a grocery list of the most necessary parts--"

(They walk on; the sun is out, and Joanna's hair catches the wind and the light. A man walking with his newspaper tucked under his arm and his briefcase spots the two: the tall man in the greatcoat is watching his girlfriend as she groans about something, trying not to laugh and failing. He looks like he wants to kiss her and the man hurries up a bit out of respect--don't want to embarrass them.)

--

It's the opening show of the new National Theatre season, and there's a diplomat there with a hard drive full of stolen files--it's in one of his pockets, and he will not let it leave his person until he gets on the plane and crosses the border.

"You don't have people for this?" Joanna says, bewildered.

Sherlock plays a long, loud, screeching note at him.

"Your funds are getting a bit low, aren't they, Sherlock?" Mycroft asks amiably, leaning back in the chair and tapping the handle of his umbrella.

"My bank balance is fine!" Sherlock snaps.

"Your bank account information is in a file on my desk. And in several of my computers. And--"

"I'm serious, why us?" Joanna cuts in impatiently.

"Mrs. Hudson tells me she's going to change the locks if Sherlock doesn't find something to do in the next three days," Mycroft says calmly, and before Joanna can plug her ears he adds, "the diplomat has a prior military record in Chechnya. His record indicates he was particularly good at sharpshooting."

Sherlock and Joanna exchange looks; Sherlock carefully puts his bow down. "Show me his record first. Give me a complete profile on him."

"Naturally," Mycroft rises to his feet. "Joanna, will you be needing any assistance?"

"I--what?" Joanna shoots a look over at her cane in the corner, startled.

"With a dress and so forth." Mycroft is looking evenly at her. The angles are as sharp and cutting on his face as on Sherlock's, but there's patience there--solidness. "I wouldn't normally presume, and this is no reflection on your appearance as you are a remarkably lovely woman, but you've recently come back from Afghanistan and I assume your wardrobe is somewhat lacking in evening gowns, so if you wish--"

Beside Joanna, unseen, the bow in Sherlock's hand turns into a stabbing instrument.

"I'm not," says Joanna blankly. "I--thank you, but I'm not--" She looks at Mycroft, completely taken aback, and sees the look in his face, and lets out a small huff of laughter and rubs at her forehead. "I--okay. Thank you. That would--that would be really nice."

--

The assistant is small, smaller than Joanna, and acts with complete discretion. She's wearing a sharp pencil skirt and a perfectly tailored blouse, and heels that click in a brisk busy rhythm. Her laugh completely disarms Joanna from the start.

She's brought a selection of dresses and she whisks around Joanna before draping her in gray-blue silk, rustling softness that swishes around her legs and flutters behind her. The scar is carefully touched up and covered by the dress's straps; Joanna's freckles are daubed away by makeup and the assistant leans over her as she sits, carefully touching her eyelids and lips as she concentrates.

Joanna holds her breath, trying not to twitch or fidget or do anything to ruin this. She can't move a muscle or she'll break the spell. The assistant gives her diamond earrings--oh Christ, these must cost a fortune--and puts a diamond cuff around her wrist, and shows her a reflection in the mirror with a big smile.

It's. It's not Harry and it's not Jo, it's not--Joanna has no idea who it is. It's a remarkably lovely woman. One of Mycroft's assistants, and a complete stranger. Joanna shakes her head.

--

Mycroft is there, at the foot of the stairs, and he bows to her and Joanna rolls her eyes and laughs as she colours up. His smile is real, and unexpectedly kind.

Lestrade is there--he's going as Mycroft's plus-one, or significant other, or the least embarrassing thing along those lines--and he lets out a low whistle and Joanna pulls a face at him. "Hey, D.I., what's a silver fox?" she says to tease him (he'd asked Anderson the week before, utterly confused, God help him) and he shows her two not particularly polite fingers.

Sherlock doesn't look up from his phone; he's pulled up the information on the screen, and he reads in the cab all the way to the theatre. Joanna rests her elbow against the window and swallows something down, looking at the streetlights going past.

--

"Greg, what did Joanna call you before we left?" Mycroft asks innocently, as he passes Lestrade a glass of champagne. People are milling in the lobby before the show starts, chattering, clinking glasses, shedding coats to reveal splashes of colour--red, purple, yellow, dark green. Points of light are sparkling everywhere.

"I swear to God," Lestrade says hotly, over Mycroft's rich chuckle, and takes a sip of the champagne. Before dating Mycroft Holmes, he'd have said it was the best stuff he'd likely ever taste in his life. Right now, standing at Mycroft's elbow, he can tell it's a bit flat. He drinks, and nods at a tall black-suited back. "He's not looking at her."

"Hm?" Mycroft is looking at him, and looking like he'd quite like to do something to Lestrade's throat, and Lestrade shakes his head with a smile.

"Sherlock. He's not looking at Joanna, he's barely paying attention. I thought..." Mycroft's gaze sharpens, on Lestrade's face: Lestrade shrugs. "I thought--she's all dressed up, you know, I--I thought he liked her."

"He's busy with the diplomat," Mycroft says with a lift of his shoulders.

"I know," says Lestrade dubiously, looking down at his champagne flute.

Mycroft touches his arm, resolving to do that something to Lestrade's throat within the next fifteen minutes. "Greg," he says quietly, "you're around the two of them almost every day. Watch him and see every time he looks her way."

--

The diplomat excuses himself to the bathroom during the first act; five rows back, three and a half minutes later, Sherlock checks his phone and whispers something in Joanna's ear. They both get up.

Joanna waits outside the men's washroom, bored and tapping her foot and checking her phone--covering all the exits, keeping an ear to the door. Sherlock heads inside and washes his hands before kicking the stall door open.

The diplomat pushes Sherlock's head back into the mirror, cracking it, and jabs his thumbs at Sherlock's eyes. Joanna has a gun barrel pressed against his forehead within the next minute. She's the one who texts Lestrade and Mycroft, while Sherlock asks some very specific questions, and moments later she's the one escorting the diplomat out to a black car.

The diplomat thinks it's a great idea to try and break her wrist before they reach the open door. Joanna disagrees, and in the fight--conducted almost noiselessly, barely indistinguishable in the dark--Joanna's dress gets torn, one earring goes missing, and her hair comes loose on one side.

Of course James Bond always looks perfectly gorgeously rumpled after his fights, Joanna thinks sourly, breathing hard as the door slams on the unconscious diplomat and the engine guns. She wonders if it's worth it to get on her hands and knees and look for the damn thing, and sighs.

--

"Charge it to Mycroft," says Sherlock, shrugging.

"There is no way I can pay this back," Joanna groans, staring down at the lone earring in her hand.

"He really won't care."

"I care," she says, more sharply than she means to, and pinches the bridge of her nose before she can help herself. "It's not--it isn't transport to me, okay?"

When she looks over at him, he's wearing a look identical to the first time she mentioned Russell Brand. "What are you talking about?"

"When you said it was all transport--" Joanna makes a frustrated gesture, and somewhere in the back of her mind something is screeching about champagne and tiredness. "It's all transport. You wear really nice clothing and you have really nice hair, and you look--you--you look extraordinary, you look like nobody I've ever seen in my life, and that's just completely normal for you, you don't--" She puts one hand up to her face, tries to wipe her words and her expression away. "I'm not beautiful, like you or my mother and my sister, and I'm not rich like you or Mycroft, and if I lose a diamond earring it means something. And the back of my head just caught up with me and told me I'm probably had too much champagne to be saying this, so please don't mention it again."

There's silence for a little bit.

Finally Sherlock says, and she can't see the expression on his face: "I've met your sister."

"Yes."

"She's very pretty."

"I know."

"You're not."

"Thank you, Sherlock--"

"She's pretty," Sherlock says, slowly. "She has regular, symmetrical features and long blonde hair and she weighs less than average, and she dresses beyond her means but she has a good relationship with her bank so they'll keep extending her line of credit. But you--" he stops, starts again, "you're not pretty. But you look kind. You look warm and clever, and people--you don't even notice how people gravitate to that because they've always done, they like you, of course they do, you make it easy, and then you go and you--you do something like smile or laugh, or something ordinary and stupid and pointless and--"

He looks down to take something out of his pocket, and drops it into her hand: it's the missing earring. "And I can't breathe."

--

Not immediately after this, but a while later:

Joanna gets up out of bed, kicking aside the covers, because she has an early shift and then they have an appointment with Sherlock's newest case, this thing about a hound. She pushes her hair out of her eyes as she heads for the first-floor bathroom--the bed upstairs is covered in papers, and maybe or maybe not something dead (best not to ask). It's too early in the morning to think.

She turns the faucet on and splashes her eyes, mechanically pulling her hair back with an elastic, and faces herself in the mirror.

She has her mum and Harry's nose, and the curve of their eyebrows, and her dad's determined chin. There's a bite mark on the side of her neck and her legs are still shaky as she balances herself against the countertop. She will never have Harry's mouth or Harry's perfect complexion, and she will never, ever get the hang of high heels.

Joanna runs a fingertip over the scar on her shoulder, and lifts her head high, and smiles at her own reflection.
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(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-15 05:34 am (UTC)
kickthebeat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kickthebeat
oh girl. :DDDDDDDDDDDDD

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-17 01:07 am (UTC)
ohsweetcrepes: THAT WAS SUPER CLASSY BY WHICH I MEAN HOW DARE YOU (Default)
From: [personal profile] ohsweetcrepes
Why is it that EVERYTHING you write ends up making me have all these ~feelings~? Like, one story will have me ridiculously happy for Sherlock and John (fem or otherwise and have I ever told you how much in love I am with your fem!John?) and then the next one has me NEAR BAWLING after Sherlock calls John his father. I just. My heart can't take it but I still adore your fics so damn much. ;;

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-17 10:44 pm (UTC)
ohsweetcrepes: My memory of your smiling face warmly hits the keys on my piano (After love turns around the corner)
From: [personal profile] ohsweetcrepes
Aaaand I forgot to say that this is Ningen_Demonai using her DW account. Hi?! XD

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] ohsweetcrepes - Date: 2011-05-18 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand

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(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-18 10:12 pm (UTC)
innocentsmith: a lion, a lamppost, and a winged man in a conservative coat stand on a bridge under an orange sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] innocentsmith
God, every story you write is its own perfect, rich little world. How do you do that? Gorgeous, gorgeous writing, every one.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-19 08:15 pm (UTC)
ohsweetcrepes: THAT WAS SUPER CLASSY BY WHICH I MEAN HOW DARE YOU (Default)
From: [personal profile] ohsweetcrepes
... Did you ever write an HP crossover with Sherlock, cuz I don't remember seeing this before. :|a

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] ohsweetcrepes - Date: 2011-05-20 05:34 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] ohsweetcrepes - Date: 2011-07-26 10:27 am (UTC) - Expand

here via misbegotten

Date: 2011-05-26 06:59 am (UTC)
shallowness: Five panels featuring pictures of different female characters based on my interests at the time. (Clueless squee)
From: [personal profile] shallowness
I loved your depiction of girl!John, how the character's attributes melded with the 'always a girl' element and what that meant for John's self-image. Plus all the layers of seeing and not seeing.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-29 06:17 am (UTC)
polarisnorth: a silhouetted figure sitting on the moon, watching the earthrise (Default)
From: [personal profile] polarisnorth
YOU WROTE THE GRAVEYARD ONE. Why does that not surprise me, I loved that one. And your fem!Watson remains my favorite.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-31 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-jack.livejournal.com
I have tears in my eyes about John taking care of Sherlock and Mycroft. That was so heartwrenching and well done. I actually came here because of the girl!John fic, but argh, tears.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-01 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hobbylobby.livejournal.com
I am so in love with your writing I can't even begin to tell you.

The John as Sherlock's real father story is one of my all-time favorites, as well as the grave site one. Both have that touch of melancholy that transform them from fic to something that goes deep inside.

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Date: 2012-08-21 05:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
gonna be hosting the next one so send your stuff her way. But wait, there's more! Call for Submissions is out for Disability Blog Carnival #63: Relationships Another cainrval looking for

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(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-27 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ancient_reader
Admiration. Lots of it. Sherlock as Frankenstein's monster, John bringing Sherlock back from the dead through the gift of emotion -- these are such original and perfect takes on the characters and on their relation to each other. Thank you for them.

I hope you don't mind me adding you to my "circle" -- I don't want to miss any more of your work.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-07 12:38 am (UTC)
carolyn_claire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] carolyn_claire
Goodness, I'm in awe. There's something original and gripping and amazing about everything you write; I stagger from one story to another sort of dazed and disbelieving. I'm just going to camp out here and see what else you come up with, if that's okay.

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Date: 2012-11-03 05:46 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That's a sensible asnewr to a challenging question

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From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2013-02-01 12:19 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-24 06:45 pm (UTC)
beachlass: pink balloons (balloons)
From: [personal profile] beachlass
Beautiful story.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-25 04:18 pm (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
Oh, the best, best story! Joanna, you go on being comfortable with your looks!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-29 05:33 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] seafresh
girl!John has stolen my heart and won't give it back! this story is ace! Joanna is so gorgeous here, so nicely fleshed out by outside povs, I love her to pieces. Sherlock's bluntness and Joanna/John's good humor to generally any response Sherlock gives is something that I love about this pairing. Now I want Molly/Donovan fic, heh.

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Date: 2012-06-28 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Rant rant rant fume fume! YES! I HATE these friggin vftceiiarion things and I am sighted and hearing. I have had probs not just w/google but many other sites. Filling it out (guessing) again and again till I finally get lucky or give up. My eyesight isn't ideal, and I'm a bit neurologically quirky, but I think these things have got to be problems for most of the population!However, I have noticed, in the past year, that many sites seem to have made their wavy letters/words not QUITE as impossible as before, but the audio CAPTCHAs my god! totally impossible.Also, what about the options for deafblind users? My best online friend is deafblind, uses the computer for *everything* and is constantly thwarted by these friggin spam controls. There has GOT to be a better way. I'm going to try to write to google, now that I have this info from you on how to do it thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-21 08:22 am (UTC)
mincamo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mincamo
this was a great read <3

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Date: 2012-06-28 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It's a community Blog for neibwes, Mahabub bhai. So please try to elaborate a little more. That way every newbie will be benefited. And bro please try to do it in a single post. You know neibwes like me always loose patience very fast. If our primary goal is to make them motivated and skilled then either there should be some good and complete post or I would prefer nothing at all. Hope you take this positively.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-02 03:31 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love the last story. It is so sweet!

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Date: 2013-01-31 05:50 pm (UTC)
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You can certainly have one I have VIII Justice itevrned from Minetti's Manga tarot. This suggests that there's some kind of hiccup somewhere, where things aren't quite going the way that you would hope because someone higher up has screwed things up. You wind up not quite getting what you need; but you can fix things by finding out where the mix-up has occurred and pulling together the tools that you have had to make sure that everything smooths out.

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Very true! Makes a change to see smoenoe spell it out like that. :)

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