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Skullduggery (Chapter 6)
atlinmerrick
Chapter 5

Everyone has a story, Sherlock.


That’s how John started the letter. The letter of explanation. The letter that sounded like goodbye. The letter that was going to change everything.

*


Yet before all that there was banging, and it wasn’t my boys doing it on the couch again.

As I may have mentioned, oh a thousand years ago, I am currently in Mrs. Hudson’s flat, fidgeting on her mantle.

She steals me at random times to give boy genius something to do when he’s bored or angsty, and that’s really very lovely of her but no one asks me if it’s a good time do they? No they don’t. I really wish that sometimes, just someti—anyway, no, that’s fine. It’s fine. Moving on. (Although I swear Beth, my dear Elizabeth, alias Ella-Bell—she must be prescient because she thieves me always at the perfect time for distracting that tall drink of water I live with and when—oh god finally she’s answering the damn door.)

“Is he here?” Sherlock barked, striding into the flat without meeting Lizzie’s eye.

Before John, Liz was the only person I saw Sherlock treat tenderly, without premeditation or guile. Now he pushed past her as if she were a stranger and as she began to answer he shoved his hand toward her and hissed, “Sh!”

He was listening. As if John were some pup she might be hiding? As if he’d hear our little warrior breathing in a back room? I don’t know. Like I said, in my years as a therapist I often saw what a box of crazy looked like, but what John and Sherlock are currently engaged in is a little new to me.

“Sherlo—“

He rounded on her, “I said shhhh!”

At least he retained some propriety. If Sherlock had told her to shut up I think Ella-Bell would have clapped him upside the head. And I know he knew that.

Cocking his head, he listened again but all he heard was Ella, saying quietly but not softly: “He’s not here.”

You didn’t need eyes to see Sherlock’s entire body go hard for a few seconds. Then he seemed to go boneless and for a moment I thought he was going to fal—and then he did. Legs folding under him, Sherlock sprawled on the floor at Ella’s feet.

Poor Lizzie’s got a bad hip, you know that, but my dear BAMF girl clenched her teeth and got down on the floor with problem child anyway—empathetic, prescient, psychic? I don’t know, I just know Liz knows, she always knows what she’s doing with the boys—and rested the tips of her fingers over the tips of Sherlock’s and asked, “What happened?”

When they first met, boy genius told John that he was capable of going for days without talking. Bah! So much smoke and mirrors. Sherlock’s able to shut up only when no one is there to listen (take it from me, I know; once he discovered me, he never ever shut up), but ask him a question, have an opinion, god-forbid say something foolish, and it’s getting him to close his mouth that’s the problem.

So Sherlock dug a big fat letter out of his pocket, opened his mouth, and for the next two hours he, they, talked.

*


Everyone has a story, Sherlock, John wrote.

You know that. Of course you do. From a woman with a ring polished only on the inside, to a man who’s saved every scrap of paper on which his dead lover ever wrote, every single person has a story—a thousand stories—waiting to be told. Even those that seem perfect.

Perfect. Yeah, I’m still amazed by that one. You called me perfect. Me? Good lord that makes me laugh. It didn’t when you said it, no, but it does now, because for such a smart man, such a brilliant man, you sometimes know so little.

Because here’s the thing, I’m far from perfect. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t want to hurt you. I wouldn’t want to make you weep. But I want both of those things so badly it hurts…and makes me weep. Of all the amazing things you are, this is the only part of you I can’t tolerate: The part that doesn’t hear me no matter how loudly I shout.

Why are we here? Right here, right now? Because I asked you to marry me. And you said no. But for the most idiotic reason in the world: Because you think I need to be protected. From…you. From you. Oh Sherlock. I’ve seen worse things than you can possibly imagine—and I know you can imagine terrible things, I see it when you look at a dead woman’s torn flesh, a man’s shattered skull. Well imagine this my love: I too have seen terrors, I have been a terror. I am so very far from perfect. Good god I’m more broken than you know.

Even with all your teasing, being your blogger’s had a good side effect: It’s made writing things down a lot easier than it used to be. So if you’ve got a little time love, let me tell you about an imperfect man we both know.

Because everyone has a story, Sherlock. So let me tell you just a few of mine.

*


Sherlock stopped reading and looked at Ella, who looked wordlessly at him. I know everyone thinks Sherlock can read minds, but it’s simple what he does really, he just looks. Looks at your face, in your eyes.

“It’s not the same as goodbye,” Ella said, because there was only one thing she saw when she looked in Sherlock’s storm-cloud eyes: Grief. “Don’t read between the lines, Sherlock, don’t do that. Read the actual lines.”

Such pale, pretty skin he has, my tall drink of water, you know? So why did it look so beaten, so bruised?

Lizzie waited for him to continue but once, twice, three times he tried lifting that letter from his lap, but he was weak as a kitten, systems were shutting down, he was giving up.

“Have you read the letter, Sherlock? All the way through?”

She asked him four times, but the only thing that brought him around was when she touched the paper in his lap. Instinctively he clutched at it, eyes briefly blazing. Then two crabbed hands opened, both clutching around nothing after the letter was gone.

And Lizzie started reading.

*


The Story of the Good Bad Boy

I was a good kid, mostly. I’m smiling right now because I can just about see you nodding at that. Of course John was good, of course he was. Still, kids are kids and sometimes my mom would have to give me and Harry a thump when we messed up. But I hated that, hated it when she’d have to hit me. So while Harry ran rampant, I was always a very good boy. Did my chores, kept up with my school work, was polite.

Then one summer I suddenly got older.

I can’t remember if I was fifteen or sixteen, I just remember that I was standing outside a nearby food & wine shop, waiting for my best mate to come out. When he did everything went into fast-forward: he shoved a bottle of wine in my hand, the shopkeeper yelled, and bam Marty ran.

It doesn’t take any kind of deductive reasoning to realize Marty’d stolen the wine—the wine I was holding—and that maybe I had better run.

So I did.

And for several long years I didn’t stop. Because here was something I learned that day, Sherlock: I loved the feeling that I’d just escaped something. I loved the sense I’d just made it out by the skin of my teeth. I could not get enough of it.

So I started stealing. Liquor, cigarettes, magazines, anything. Not because I wanted any of those things (most of them I snuck back onto the shelves later, for crying out loud) but because
I was deathly afraid of getting caught, and that? That fear, that adrenaline, made every sickening minute worth while, even though, yeah, I was actually sick with fear half the time, puking my guts out before or after.

That never stopped me though. Neither did getting caught (twice, but both times I outran the shopkeeper). I think I was nearly nineteen before I stopped stealing. But that’s just because I discovered a better way to get the rush I loved.

It started when I saw someone die.

*


Lizzie stopped reading, looked up at Sherlock, who looked back at her like a child being told a terrible bedtime story.

She shook her head back and forth, over and over, as if to say, “No, you don’t understand yet do you?”

And he didn’t, because Sherlock still wasn’t listening. He was panicking and reading between the lines and second-guessing and John’s point? His point was completely eluding my problem child’s clever, simple, stupid little brain.

“Should I stop?”

Sherlock looked at her as if that was the worst part of the story so far. He shook his head back and forth, and even once Liz started reading again he didn’t stop. For a long, long time he didn’t stop.

      Chapter 7

 


That’s it, I’m officially addicted to writing about these characters. I now know this because, though I loved being on holiday for most of a month, I kept thinking about leaving this story in limbo. Sigh. Anyway, hopefully you’re not reading between the lines and you get what Sherlock doesn’t: This letter? It’s soooo not John’s goodbye. Next chapter up tomorrow.

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Hee, first! ;p Best chapter yet, my love. Sherlock collapsing and Ella(squee!) taking care of him, it's just wrenching and touching all at the same time. And this back story you've built for John is creative and brilliant. It explains so much about his character in the series. Thank God the next chapter should be up tomorrow.

Thanks my dear! "It explains so much," -- coming from you, the honest-to-god queen of glorious "oooooh, that makes sense, I get it now" backstory, that truly means a lot.

So odd. My family's going out for really treat *!waffles!* this a.m. And I'm thinking, "Hmmm, waffles will take *this* long, and the walk back *that* long and--WHEN DO I WRITE MY PORN THIS MORNING?"

My oddly skewed perspectives? Let me show you them.

God, waffles are so fraking delicious. I didn't used to like them, but I've recently converted from pancakes. And you're too kind about my stories, but I'll take the compliment anyway. :-*

ohhh, I'm so glad you're back from the place of awesome to bring us a new chapter *pets Sherlock on the head* silly boy!

And a new one tomorrow? Now that's music in my ears :)

very lovely, I can't wait to see how things will go from here!

"I can't wait to see how things will go from here!"

Me too. Meeeee too. :-o

Thanks for the comment, you!

Ooooh, yaaaaay! \o/ MORE OF THIS NIFTY STUUUUUFFFF!!!

This is good. Vurra good, but also bad - know why? CAUSE IT ENDED TOO SOON! Aaaaah!!

*snirk* Yeah, you know you've got us hooked, you wicked wench! I'm SO looking forward to the next bit.

You rock, as you well know.
<3

I really love that you use your skull icon when you comment on this fic. It makes me sort of wave my arms in the air like noodley appendages and go "Gah!"

You rock, as you well know.

Photobucket

...I only wish all skulls I managed to get my hands on during my anatomy classes were as brilliant as Rory is. It would be a damn good time...

That image? The text? See what you did? Do you see? I flailed so hard I sprained something.

:-) "Move your bones..." "Even Mycroft approves..."

I probably have to kiss you now. Yeah, I probably do.

Yes!!!!!!!!!!

(And, uh, how was the trip???)

Your icon is beyond adorable, just sos you know.

And the trip was glorious. I am not crushing on, or sort of in-like with London. I am tripping over my feet, head-in-the-clouds, marry me marry me? in love with the place. Yeah. That was how the trip was.

Thanks fer askin!

YAY!!!! More skull fic! I'm really interested in knowing more about naughty!John.

Hope you had a fantastic trip.

Trip = fan-freakin' tastic, thanks!

Naught!John: More's a-comin'. And then, hopefully, we step through this fog of angsty-McAngstAngst and there's more, um, a-comin'. (See what I did there?)

*Cough* Moving on. P.S. Thank you for the comment Jerel!

I literally stopped reading when I saw that you called Mrs. Hudson Elizabeth and went, wait did she just reference me for a second as an aside or something, and I completely missed it? Then I went back and read and went "Oh boys..." Such a beautiful misunderstanding. Poor Sherlock, poor John, poor Ella, and most of all, our poor fantastic skull. *snuggles her*

Aww, I like to be referential in fics, but it's usually less obscure. Or more. I don't know. Maybe I named Mrs. Hudson Elizabeth after we talked? I don't remember any more...it just happened one day that that was her name in my head!

Now, back to the skull. Scuse me...

Next chapter up tomorrow.

Is it tomorrow yet? ;-)

Awww, that's like such a brilliant-sweet comment and it's only four words. See what you did there? It was awesome.

P.S. Am writing next chapter now.

Hooray!

The other option was to demand to know what timezone you live in so I could know when tomorrow actually started.... I went with the easier method. LOL.

Will we be getting the rest of the letter? I am curious as to how bad John can be.

Yep, rest of letter coming along. And we'll get more details of the "bad" but I couldn't bring myself to have him expand on "I've seen terrors, I've *been* a terror," because that had connotations of bad things done in war-time and I don't want to think of John as having done truly wrong things. I prefer to think he *thinks* he has.

Then again, I think you'd feel plenty bad about yourself if you knew you got off (wrong term; only one I can think of) on the adrenaline rush attendant with fighting and death.

Also, tomorrow isn't over for me for another 9 hours, so (checking watch), yeah, I've got time.

So.. I only have to stay up until 3am. LOL JK.

ahhh I have been waiting on Chapter 6 for sooo long! Wonderful as usual, yay for BAMF!Ella :D Poor Sherlock, you just write these characters so wonderfully it makes me wanna cry :))

> you just write these characters so wonderfully it makes me wanna cry :))

Awww, yay! Um. Awww, sorry. I am so glad that you feel for them, either way. And when you think about it, Mrs. Hudson is totally BAMF, don't you think?

To live with Sherlock on a regular basis, one must always have a secret BAMF within them.

And don't worry, they are happy tears :')

Oh.

OH

John, goddammit, you're killing me. Jesus. Both of you, even.

Gah, I can't stand it. I'm not even coherent about it this time around.

"I'm not even coherent about it this time around."

Why is that line made of so much win? I don't know, but it is. Wiiiiin!

Well OF COURSE it's not John's goodbye! It's just John's explaining to Sherlock that he's not perfect... and he's perfect for HIM...

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