[identity profile] tartancravat.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] tartanfics
Title: Experiments, Forensic and Personal
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Characters/Pairings: Sherlock/John, Mrs. Hudson, Sally
Word Count: 2,500
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: This is a transformative work of the BBC’s Sherlock, which itself is a transformative work. Fun, not profit!
Warnings: None
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] holmestice, Summer 2012, for [livejournal.com profile] igrockspock. Originally posted there. Many thanks to my excellent betas [livejournal.com profile] miss_sabre and [livejournal.com profile] call_me_ishmael.
Summary: Sherlock and John on the longest day of the year, 2010-2014. A long-term, informal, dubiously scientific field experiment.


Monday, 21 June, 2010

John is barely awake and he’s already sweating. The first day of summer, his room at the top of the house is the hottest place in 221B, and this heat wave seems to have no regard for the proper times of day for this temperature. Eyes barely open, John rolls out of bed and shuffles out of his room and down the stairs, in search of colder climes.

He starts making tea because he’s never awake before tea, and leans against the fridge while the kettle boils. The metal is pleasantly cool against his chest and his forehead. John looks down at his feet. He’s wearing pyjama bottoms, but no shirt and no socks. John doesn’t remember ever being quite so undressed in their kitchen.

“How can you even contemplate hot tea?”

John looks over his shoulder. Sherlock is sprawled in his armchair, looking like a wilted plant. He is wrapped up in the white sheet from his bed, with it artfully arranged beneath him and around his hips, the end trailing over the side of the chair. Like a toga. Or a loincloth. Somewhere between the two. His hair is limp and damp-looking against his forehead. John turns around again, pressing his cheek into the refrigerator door. “Habit,” he mutters. “How hot is it?” He considers this. “No, wait, I don’t want to know. That makes it worse.”

Sherlock tells him anyway. “31 degrees Celsius, 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 304.15 kelvin. Seventy-three percent relative humidity. Eight o’clock in the morning. It’s intolerable.”

“Air conditioning. Let’s go somewhere with air conditioning.”

“Not moving. We’d have to go outside to get to this unspecified air-conditioned location. We’d have to put clothes on.”

John’s water boils. He pours it into his mug, and then dodges out of the way of the hot steam. Even after adding milk the tea’s too hot to drink, and the mug is just warm enough that it would be cosy in December but is unbearable now. John wraps a tea towel around it and carries it over to his armchair, sinking down across from Sherlock and kicking at his ankle. Sherlock’s long legs are sprawled so far across the floor they’re getting into John’s space.

“You can’t really expect to sit around naked all day,” John says, rolling his head back and draping his arms over the edge of the chair, so they’re not sticking to his chest. “Let’s go swimming.”

“I don’t know about you, John, but I’m rather off swimming pools.”

“Oh, yeah. Might just be so hot I don’t care.” He stares up at the ceiling and begins, presently, to giggle.

“What?” Sherlock snaps.

“Picturing you swimming.”

“And that amuses you?”

“Does a bit.”

“I can swim.”

“You were forced to learn at some posh public school, weren’t you?” John lifts his head to look across at Sherlock, who grins.

“I never went to the lessons.”

John laughs low and long, and wipes the film of sweat off his forehead, contemplating. He’d already known Sherlock is not easily embarrassed by his own body--it didn’t take a heat wave to reveal that much--but this is the first time John has seen him wearing nothing but a blanket, as though he’s just had sex and is about to go back for another round and doesn’t see the point of putting clothes on. It is, like no previous instance of Sherlock in the nude, very sexual. But for all the skin that’s on display, Sherlock doesn’t reveal much, doesn’t expose the truth of how he might feel about sex, about John (or anyone else) peeling away the edges of the sheet. “You’re not even wearing the sheet, at this point,” John says. “It’d look less indecent if you were naked.”

“Is my state of undress distracting for you, John?”

John doesn’t get a chance to answer (for which he is profoundly thankful), because Mrs. Hudson enters the room and exclaims, “Oh, Sherlock!”

“Problem, Mrs. Hudson? Aside from this truly appalling weather, of course.”

“Don’t you think you ought to put some clothes on? What if you have visitors?”

“Anyone stupid enough to visit anyone else in this heat does not deserve the bother putting clothes on would require.”

“Not that you’re not nice to look at,” Mrs. Hudson says, absently tidying stacks of books on the table and casually peering at Sherlock’s legs. “Isn’t he, John?”

“Uh, well, I--”

Sherlock smirks, and rearranges his sheet.


Tuesday, 21 June, 2011

It may be midsummer, but it’s London, so it’s raining. John hasn’t been out, and so hasn’t noticed the weather.

Sherlock died four days ago.

John’s feet are cold.


Wednesday, 20 June, 2012

John rolls onto his back and stretches, pointing his toes at the foot of the bed and just touching the wall with his fingertips. The thin sheet covering him is soft and cool, and he tangles his feet in it, smiling to himself and pressing his body deeper into the mattress.

He opens his eyes when he hears the door creak open, and turns his head to see Sherlock padding into the room in his dressing gown and pyjamas, mug of tea in one hand, hair damp, feet bare.

“Hey,” John says. “Morning.”

“Yes. It is,” Sherlock answers, setting the mug down on his desk and opening the closet to choose the day’s clothes.

John snorts and rolls onto his side, draping his arms lazily across the bed and grinning at Sherlock’s back.

There’s too long a pause, too long a moment in which John is just staring, taking in the way Sherlock’s hair curls closely against his neck when it’s wet, the way his ankles look breakable, the curve of his back, the way he leans against the closet door as he rifles through his clothes. When John looks too long and too hard too early in the morning, he feels blown open and put back together again in the wrong way, with too many sharp pieces.

Halfway to taking a suit out of the closet, arm outstretched, Sherlock freezes. He wraps his hand around the door and says, voice deep and rough and pained, “John.”

“Sorry, sorry,” John gasps, blinking.

“John, the evidence of your own eyes, while not as discerning as my own, is reliable. Please trust it.”

“I know, I--” He gets out of bed and crosses the room, reaching out to put a hand on Sherlock’s shoulder. “Sometimes it’s not enough. I need to touch you.” His fingers are digging into Sherlock’s skin, gripping, too hard. He takes several deep breaths before he finally lets go.

“All right?” Sherlock asks.

“I think so. I’ll just go and shower.”

It’s a warm day already, and the shower feels good, cool, soothing. John lets it wash away the residue of his fears, lets himself stop thinking for a while. He runs the bar of soap over his body and looks at Sherlock’s shampoo bottle on the edge of the tub.

When John gets out of the bathroom and goes downstairs, Sherlock is sitting at the living room table with his laptop, updating his website. He hasn’t used it in over a year, and last Friday declared it woefully out of date. John has the impression that Sherlock had initially commissioned someone else to build his website for him, probably someone who felt indebted to him for solving their problems. Now, though, Sherlock seems to have embraced the philosophy that if you want it done right you should do it yourself, and is teaching himself several programming languages.

“You might’ve made me tea,” John grumbles, poking Sherlock in the shoulder.

“You said I never do it right.”

“But I appreciate you doing it anyway.”

Sherlock frowns in a way John recognises as confused. He grins. “Never mind.”

“I might be able to improve your blog,” Sherlock says, peering at the lines of what look to John like incomprehensible text on his screen. “I want to fix your stupid hit counter.”

“You hate my blog.”

“I would hate it less if it hadn’t said 1,895 for the last eighteen months.”

A thought hits John, and his fingers tighten on the back of Sherlock’s chair. “Sherlock. Did you--did you look at my blog, while you were gone?”

Sherlock’s fingers pause on the keyboard. “Sometimes,” he says, and resumes typing.

“I never posted anything.”

“No, but--. Your writing style, while overly dramatised and liable to focus on inconsequential details, and not exactly scientific, it’s very--you.”

John doesn’t even bother about the implications that he’s dramatic and no good at science. He swallows thickly and wonders if they will ever say all the things that need to be said, if he will ever stop feeling ecstatically happy and irrevocably hurt all the time. If this will ever be easy. It has been three weeks. They’ve already been through this so many times. “All right,” he says. “I’m--I’ll--do you need more tea?”


John listens to the kettle boil, eyes closed.


Friday, 21 June, 2013

Leaning against the brick wall, John watches Sherlock talking to DI Donovan. Sherlock is different than he used to be--the fact that Sally, promoted five months ago, now consults him in her own right is evidence enough of that.

“Are you really telling me the husband didn’t do it, freak?” she asks, but it doesn’t sound as biting as it used to--closer to affectionate these days. Sally’s changed too. They all have, of course, but Sherlock most at all.

It is nine in the evening, but the sun has yet to go down. John listens to Sherlock rattle off a series of deductions about the crime scene, the dead woman, and the mistakes in the forensics work, ending with, “Obvious. Come along, John.”

John follows, feeling relaxed and a bit sleepy (the fact that he can feel relaxed at a crime scene is a sign of how long he’s been living with Sherlock).

“Thanks, Sherlock,” Sally calls after them.

“Detective Inspector,” Sherlock responds, and John grins.

In the living room at 221B, barely lit by the setting sun, Sherlock takes his jacket off and drapes it over a chair, and then flops onto the sofa, looking up at John.

John lifts Sherlock’s legs up and sits down, resting Sherlock’s feet in his lap and picking at his shoelaces, untying them and removing the shoes, peeling off the socks. He wraps his hand around the arch of Sherlock’s left foot and leans back into the sofa cushions. “Longest day of the year,” he says. “We ought to be taking advantage of it. Out running around until all hours.”

Sherlock is silent for a while, and then he twists at the waist to look at John and says, “I don’t want to.”

“No,” John says, kicking off his own shoes, “nor do I.”


Saturday, 21 June, 2014

“Sherlock, what are we doing here?”

They are standing outside a boutique lingerie shop in Soho, and Sherlock looks alarmingly like he’s about to go inside.

“The murder weapon, John, obviously.”

“I--she was strangled.”


“What, you think she was strangled with a pair of knickers?”

Sherlock grins a dangerous grin, and opens the door. John follows, compelled by an all too familiar Sherlock-induced inertia, wincing as a little bell over the door jingles. He watches as Sherlock bypasses the racks of lacy, padded, colourful bras, heading straight for tables full of a wider variety of underwear than any woman whose underwear drawer John has ever been familiar with has possessed. Even the frighteningly sexy woman named Tara with whom he had a very brief affair during medical school.

At this point, of course, it’s been years since John saw a woman in a state of undress in any location that was not a crime scene, morgue, or hospital.

Sherlock is holding a pair of pink lace knickers, stretching them between his fingers until they look approximately three sizes bigger than they did originally, when he is approached by a woman who is evidently an employee of the shop. She frowns at the state of the pink knickers, and says, “How can I help you?”

Sherlock ignores her, and John smiles apologetically, aware that he looks as uncomfortable as he feels. The shop assistant looks meaningfully between the two of them, and then asks, as though she thinks she understands the entire situation perfectly, “Experimenting?”

“Yes, exactly,” Sherlock says, sounding rather surprised that she’s got it right. She hasn’t, of course, judging by the way she sizes them both up and then begins edging towards a table of somewhat roomier knickers. “We’ll need three each of every different fabric. Colour doesn’t matter, of course; it has no bearing on textile strength.”

The woman freezes and stares at him. “Er, what, exactly, did you need them for?”

“To test the feasibility of strangling a woman, roughly of your size and strength, with a pair of her own knickers.”

John, sensing approaching panic, jumps in. “Don’t worry,” he says. “We’re detectives. We’re not going to test his on anyone, of course.” He turns to Sherlock. “Er, are we?”

“Don’t be stupid, John.” He surveys the room haughtily, nods once at the poor shop assistant, and walks off towards a corner where an array of socks is hanging on the wall.

“Sorry,” John says again. “We really are detectives.”

“And the socks?” she asks, as Sherlock selects a pair of dark blue socks and reads the label on the packaging.

“He’s, uh, particular about his socks.”

“Huh. And are you two...?”

John smiles, unable to stop himself. “Oh. Well, yes.” And it’s strange, isn’t it, that after all this time it’s only recently begun to feel natural to say even that much. The compounded months and years of insinuations and assumptions, his repeated denials, all added up to mean that even after people’s assumptions started being right, John had to catch himself every time he went to say no. No, we’re not together.

But they are, and they have been for what in John’s experience is a long time. Yes, it was a struggle to get his mind around the idea, and he knows Sherlock found that hard to understand, was, maybe, a little hurt by it. It was a struggle, but the struggle’s over. It is not easy now--Sherlock will always be difficult--but it’s easier.

“Does he really want three pairs of every style?” the shop assistant asks, interrupting John’s thoughts.

“Yes, he really does,” John replies, smiling. “Science, you know. Got to repeat the experiment.”

And it’s that, more than anything, which makes John comfortable with this. The thought that, like the toes in the refrigerator and the inevitable mess of women’s underwear in their living room, this is an experiment. John, Sherlock, everything they do. Unexpected results, of course.

Successful, all the same.

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