Pairing: Sherlock/John UST
Word Count: 1,766
Notes: Written for the Posession/marking square of my kink_bingo. And because I just had to write something for Sherlock. This is a little weird in that it reads like something I might have normally written well into the fandom - and not in the first week! :)
Summary: Sherlock collected things - that was obvious. But not by design, surely?
NOW with added podfic by the fantastic speccygeekgrrl: here!
It was becoming ordinary to him, if living with Sherlock could ever be considered an ordinary thing. John had been taught habits of order in the army, habits of thought, and he really should be finding the overwhelming clutter of Sherlock’s flat disgusting. It was a wonder to him that instead he felt that the sterile nothingness of his halfway house had been infinitely more disgusting. He now waded among the detritus of a dozen cases, a hundred lives, or at least, that's what John thought all the piled clutter represented. It was always unwise to assume anything with Sherlock, of course, but a man had to start somewhere.
But every so often John would pick up - a record, say. And the sad sepia face of a lugubrious Engelbert Humperdinck would look back at him. John would decide that such an old-fashioned thing couldn’t possibly be Sherlock’s, that his theory that all these things must be other people's belongings relating to Sherlock's cases had to be correct. The record itself must have been issued before the man was even born, after all, and Sherlock showed no signs of being a vinyl geek. The dust and neglect too said it wasn't a valued keepsake, and yet, and yet... Sherlock did so enjoy correcting him.
But every so often John would pick up - a record, say. And then he'd glance up to find Sherlock watching him, with an expression of amusement, John thought, but he wasn't even entirely sure about that. Then he'd put the record down, unaccountably flustered, and Sherlock would drag him out to the Chinese on the corner, or to the pub on Bayswater Road, or just around and about, walking through the alleys and back streets that only Sherlock knew, and of course he didn't get them lost. Naturally not.
It was good exercise for his leg, psychosomatic or not, John argued with himself when he felt the need. When the strangeness caught up with him, and he felt alien in his own skin once more. And given what he knew of Sherlock's proclivities, perhaps he shouldn't be surprised at other things too, at the way bar-staff and waiters looked at him, at the two of them. At the knowing glances, at the almost winks, at the veiled declarations of their coupledom. Like it was a foregone conclusion. Like it was inevitable. Or as though Sherlock did this a lot, more likely - which burned in John's stomach even more. He disliked the assumptions of strangers, but the implications - that Sherlock was not as married to his work as he had said he was - were more hurtful than that somehow. John wasn't quite sure why such conclusions stung so much. He'd lost count of the number of times he corrected assumptions, said 'colleague' gruffly, once even 'friend' by accident, and got a sharp gleeful glance for his trouble from eyes that flashed to him and away.
Sherlock's behaviour changed after that though, and John couldn't, in his heart of hearts, find anything to object to, although again, he probably should. Sherlock started touching him more, that was all. A cupping of his elbow here, a palm to the small of his back there. It was a tiny increment in their relationship, but significant, John thought. Because he'd noticed that Sherlock didn't really touch anyone else. The mythical boyfriends perhaps - but John didn't know for sure. He'd never seen any.
It was some sort of on-going war, John decided, in the end. It had to be that. A kind of skirmishing, with unusual weapons, a mental wearing down. He loved watching Sherlock work, there was that on one side, he genuinely, absolutely loved it, but on the other Sherlock was one of the most frustrating men he'd ever met. Lestrade helped there, surprisingly - when Sherlock dashed off and forgot John, which happened frequently enough, they'd often go to the pub, have a pint, watch a game. Something that was so utterly normal that John had forgiven Sherlock before the man even got back through their front door. If his life had to devolve down to such banalities alone then John would be worrying about more than an intermittent tremor. His service automatic had been smuggled out for a reason - and it hadn't been for disposing of London's criminals.
So he found he didn't mind the occasional touches, the slightly altered behaviour, because mostly nothing else had changed. He still got put in the way of danger on a regular basis, and he still lied to his therapist about it, and secretly he bloody loved it all.
It was Harry who noticed, in the end. John supposed it would have had to be. There was no-one else who physically got close enough to him these days, for all John's occasional futile attempts to pull. She always reeled him in for a hug at the beginning of their infrequent get-togethers, her arms tight about him, her nose in his collar, as though she could squeeze some sense of familial closeness into them both by sheer will-power. And so she noticed.
"What's this, John?" she'd asked, scratching one perfectly manicured nail at the hairline on the back of his neck. "It looks like a tiny blue watermark. Why do you have a watermark, of all things?"
He'd brushed it off, waved his hands, said they'd been decorating and it was probably a splash of paint, which was a lie, but plausible enough. John spent the rest of the meal desperately trying to not scratch at his neck, and being distracted by the thought of it.
When he got home he used his shaving mirror held up at an awkward angle in order to see what Harry had seen. It was tiny, the design round in shape, but still intricate, faint, in pale blue, with inked lines, like a child's stamp - and it wouldn’t wash off. It was ridiculous. It shouldn't even be there. It was startlingly familiar.
But John Watson was no Sherlock Holmes. It took him awhile. A few days, in fact. He was sat in his armchair, or at least, the chair that had become de facto his, and he was distracted. The paper was boring, and the ache in his shoulder was real, and his eyes were wandering; he was contemplating whether or not he should put the radio on, whether Sherlock would object, or even throw something at it, which he'd been known to do sometimes, when John suddenly saw Engelbert Humperdinck again.
He was across the room and examining the old record before he really thought it through. It was only the first on a huge dusty pile of old 45s, and the paper sleeve was yellowing, the cheerfulness of the original image long since faded to nostalgia. It was obviously a piece of discarded detritus, wasn't it? Kept but not cared for. That was the conclusion John had come to before.
John looked up at Sherlock then, who was lounging in his own armchair, watching him. He might have been smirking, but John wasn't sure. The air in their shared living room had suddenly become very thick, and yellowed too perhaps, like the record cover. It didn't stop him. John turned the disc over and there it was. A tiny stamp, in pale blue, in the corner, intricate and detailed. Now he wasn't awkwardly looking over his shoulder in a small mirror, he could assess what the design was - a stylised SH.
John had to look up, to glance over. Sherlock hadn't moved. There might have been the faintest cocking of his head, but otherwise nothing John could read. Typical, you couldn't shut the man up on most days, but when it came to this? John contemplated saying something himself. Of trying to negotiate such an awkward minefield of whys and hows, of potential explosions, and dubious explanations. He wasn't sure that Sherlock would even tell him the truth, and then immediately withdrew the thought - he knew Sherlock wouldn't lie to him. Not about this. If there was a problem at all, it was that John trusted him absolutely. With his life, if needs be, and certainly to tell him the truth if he asked. But did John really want the answer?
His dithering was curtailed by Sherlock himself, who bounded over in his long-legged way, took the record out of his hand, and put it back. Put it exactly and carefully back. John wasn't imagining the possessive slide of Sherlock's hand across the paper cover, was he? He certainly didn't imagine the gentle pat to its spine.
"If it's Sounds of the Sixties you want," Sherlock said, his eyes gleaming, his wide expressive mouth twitching, " Then it's on Radio Two in ten minutes. You were about to turn on the radio, weren't you?"
John nodded dumbly, then bit his lip. Bloody hell, did he need an explanation? Why rock this particular boat? It wasn't as though it was any more weird than any other aspect of living with the man. Sherlock obviously marked his possessions, and cared more about them than John had previously thought. That was all.
John cleared his throat. "Yes. I just wanted to... Well."
He found his hand was rubbing the back of his neck, and snatched it away. He looked wildly across, expecting Sherlock to be amused, but he looked deadly serious.
"I don't lose things. Obviously. Even if I don't pay attention... every day."
Sherlock Holmes marked his possessions... And as suddenly as that John wanted to laugh. He was sure his therapist would consider this to be a detrimental development, but then she didn't approve of Sherlock. But did anybody? Did John?
He stretched his lips narrowly in the only smile he tended to allow himself these days and began to limp over to the radio. Then he straightened, and stopped limping. There was a warm feeling in his belly, like coffee on a cold night in the Afghan desert.
He'd been collected and he hadn't even noticed. Should he be disturbed by that? John just shook his head at himself, because instead he felt pleased, insanely so. Ridiculous, he knew, but there it was. Somehow John suspected those mythical boyfriends hadn't been so lucky.
Almost involuntarily his fingers were brushing his neck once more as he switched on the radio, and he found his grin had spread and widened. Maybe it was weird, but still. John had a feeling he was going to be doing that rather a lot from now on.