impulsereader (impulsereader) wrote,

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Sherlock fic: The Best Man, and the Most Human

Title: The Best Man, and the Most Human
Author: impulsereader
Fandom/Pairing: Sherlock BBC; gen
Characters: John and Sherlock
Length: ~4,300 words
A/N: This is the story which was going to be my holmestice gift, but isn't anymore. So now it is just a post-return story which is framed on the dates of the solstices and equinoxes plus the aphelion and perihelion. Fair warning - John is being hard on himself and there isn't a lot of funny in this story. Happy ending, though!
Disclaimer: I neither own nor seek to profit from any aspect of Sherlock.
Summary: I missed the takeaway and the foot chases when you go that way and I go this; I missed your nagging me to bring home milk and the tappetty tap of your writing about me.

June 21 2014 10:51 GMT
Summer Solstice: The first day of the Season of Summer. On this day the Sun is farthest north and the length of time between Sunrise and Sunset is the longest of the year.

Sherlock Holmes was not only not dead, but he had even managed to eradicate Moriarty’s web of an organization in just slightly less than three years.

Mycroft had predicted it would take him seven.

Wasn’t he clever?

It turned out that wasn’t the prevailing feeling, no.

Not clever enough, anyway.

Perhaps it had been bad taste to assume the role of a general returned to Rome expecting to be granted a triumph to display his spoils and immortalize his victory. In hindsight, a more measured approach may have been wiser.

But couldn’t John see that he could hardly have sought the good doctor’s opinion on this point beforehand?

You could not simply text your moral compass who believes you dead, *How would it be best to reveal to you I am still alive and returning home? Does a marching band seem a bit not good?*

Not that there had been an actual band, of course.

Why did John expect him to have behaved in any but the most Sherlockian of ways when he had been denied his counsel for so very long? Much too long.

“Alone protects you, does it? It doesn’t seem to have protected you from the knife that gave you that scar on your neck.”

Sherlock flinched as if the ghost of the knife in question had bitten into his skin once more.


Aphelion: the point in the path of a celestial body (as a planet) that is farthest from the sun.
July 3 2014 22:59 GMT

John felt like an idiot.

He stood at an empty grave even though he now knew for certain it was, in fact, empty. He could of course be forgiven all the times he had done so when he had just willed it to be empty.

But now; well, he had no excuse. None whatsoever.

It wasn’t even technically the anniversary of the day Sherlock hadn’t actually died.

The sun had set more than two hours ago and he couldn’t even make out the name on the stone before him anymore; the only thing of Sherlock’s which had ever really been here - rested here.

He was so fucking angry. He was angry with Sherlock. He hadn’t punched his friend yet because he was sincerely afraid that once he began he wouldn’t be able to stop.

More importantly, though, he was so angry with himself that at times his vision actually fogged blood red. There seemed no possibility of relieving the pressure of the thing; it was a living creature which twisted and roiled violently inside of him at odd moments, causing him to run for the toilet as it inevitably rejected anything he’d managed to eat.

When Sherlock had walked into the flat nearly two weeks ago, John had wanted to die for the first time since he’d met the extraordinary man who was to become his flatmate.

After the initial grief and anger at the senseless waste of Sherlock’s apparent death, John had shaken himself off and, tentatively at first but then boldly and unequivocally, gone on with life in a way which he hoped honoured the memory of his friend. One of the things Sherlock had taught him had been how to live. He would not scorn that gift when it was one of the only things of his friend left to him; accordingly, he had also grown quite fond of the skull.

He had worked with Greg and the internal Met team on the audit of the evidence for every investigation which Sherlock had ever so much as refused to look at; he had seen his notes used effectively to help prove that Sherlock could not possibly have been responsible for any of the crimes he had solved; he had seen the reputation of his friend vindicated in the press and the eyes of the world. He had blogged about all of it to the vibrant and growing fanbase of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s only consulting detective.

Then, after that job had been done, he had hung up the blog; the story of Sherlock Holmes had a beginning, a middle and an end. John’s duty, to the best of his ability, had been discharged and he had succeeded in preserving the memory of his friend as it deserved to be.

Sherlock Holmes had been a great man.

John had allowed himself to move on. He had donated his time, his skill, and his considerable energy to helping veterans who hadn’t been fortunate enough to meet a Sherlock Holmes of their own. He had been considering exploring his writing further, doing something more than the blog, branching out creatively to see where it took him.

It hadn’t been, could never be, equal to a life lived at the side of Sherlock Holmes, but it was a life and it was his. He had felt useful and fulfilled.

He’d felt useful and fulfilled.

He had been feeling useful and fulfilled and more than a little smug all the while his best friend had been throwing himself bodily into the greatest dangers he could find, over and over again, until the job had been done.

And now, like all Sherlock’s deductions once they had been explained to him, it was all so blindingly obvious. How could John have missed all the clues? How could he possibly have let Sherlock leave without him?

Oh - he thought at himself with a deeply sarcastic intonation - yes, right, he’d been too busy accusing his friend of being a machine to notice that he was not actually looking him in the eye. Of course.

John felt like a fucking monster.

And on yet another level entirely, how had he failed so completely to make Sherlock understand that he had not needed to take on that job alone. How had John not managed to make it clear that he would have followed his partner into Hell blindfolded and whistling merrily the entire way down?

Because John had failed him, Sherlock had returned home worryingly skeletal; he was pale and drawn, and as soon as John had recovered himself sufficiently he had taken him directly to hospital. Rest and vitamins had been primarily prescribed, but Dr Watson had forced himself to read the chart and there had been some other things noted which now kept him from sleeping some nights.

He had new, ugly scars, the ends of which unexpectedly emerged from under various bits of clothing and sent John running for the toilet yet again. He wanted to order his friend to strip and force himself to acknowledge the extent of the damage he had done, but lacked the courage to follow through. He knew he would weep bitterly over those scars, and that was another thing he was afraid he would not be able to stop once he had begun.

Sherlock had spent three years alone and vulnerable, fighting to keep his friends safe.

Sherlock had, at some point, become a good man. He had become a very good man indeed.

John had failed to see any of the signs or observe any part of this change in his best friend.

He was so ashamed of himself that he simply did not know what to do.

Unconsciously, his hand ran over the rough stubble on his face; he had nearly two weeks’ growth which Sherlock had very hesitantly inquired about that morning.

John could not bring himself to meet his own gaze in the mirror anymore.


September 23 2014 02:29 GMT
Autumn Equinox: The first day of the Season of Autumn - and the beginning of a long period of darkness at the Pole.

Sherlock knew that John was still very angry with him.

He also knew there was something else which was upsetting his friend, but he was at a loss as to what it might be.

He decided to feel around the edges a bit and see if he couldn’t work it out.

“You haven’t been sleeping well.”

No answer from behind the paper, though the sheets gave a bit of a rustle in response to John’s hand moving slightly.

“You should refrain from drinking tea before you go to bed.”

The paper came down. John was regarding him with a look of astonishment on his face.

“The caffeine may be keeping you up,” Sherlock clarified.

“You think the caffeine in a single mug of PG Tipps is keeping me up nights?”

“It could be a contributing factor,” Sherlock said defensively. His theory was not nearly as ridiculous as John’s tone implied.

John had the gall to roll his eyes, and Sherlock drew himself up to protest further, but the paper slammed back into place, firmly locking him out of John’s space.

“I’m still getting used to having you back, that’s all. If I’m keeping you up, buy some earplugs. Oh, and ring Lestrade. He’s been trying to get hold of you and you haven’t been returning his texts.”

Sherlock wilted. “Yes, John.”

“It wouldn’t go amiss for you to be nicer to him, by the way. He was put to a lot of trouble because of you.”

Sherlock blinked. Lestrade had been put to a lot of trouble. So had John. So had Mrs Hudson and Molly. John had been put to quite a lot of trouble, in fact.

“You should at least help him out with a case to say thank you; and try to be less irritating than usual while you do it.”

And that was when Sherlock, through John’s prompting, had a brilliant idea. “All right. Yes, I’ll do that.”

The paper came down again; the astonishment was back. “You will?”

“Yes,” Sherlock stated decisively, “I will.”

And he did. He presented himself at New Scotland Yard and put himself at Lestrade’s disposal. He solved three cases by lunchtime and did it whilst biting back every caustic remark which came into his head. Lestrade was smiling when he patted him affectionately on the shoulder as he left.

He stopped at Bart’s to see Molly on his way home. He left her with a bouquet of three dozen red roses; she was blushing the same colour as he left.

He bought a ridiculous and useless lace doily for Mrs Hudson which she received with much fuss and made a show of putting on display in the sitting room before handing him a tin of freshly-baked biscuits as he left.

These he presented to John with a flourish. “Mrs Hudson sends her love.”

“Ta.” He chose and bit into a biscuit.

“I’ll make you tea.” Sherlock flitted into the kitchen and soon returned with two mugs.

John eyed him suspiciously. “What’s all this then?”

“I’m being nice to everyone who was put out by my clever plan to fake my own death,” Sherlock informed him smugly.

“You’re doing what now?”

“I solved Lestrade’s cases and he was smiling when I left. I brought Molly roses and gave Mrs Hudson a useless doily. Now I’ve given you biscuits and tea. Now none of you will be angry with me anymore,” he finished with the greatest of satisfaction at his own genius.

John was regarding him warily, rather as if a lit fuse had just sprouted from the side of his head.

“What? What’s wrong? I got it right. I got it all right!” he insisted.

“Yes, yes,” John said hastily. “That all sounds very – erm – nice of you. Well done, Sherlock.”

Well, that was better. “Thank you,” he purred.

“But why?”

“Why? Because you told me to of course. Now you’ll stop being angry with me and everything will be back to normal and you’ll be able to sleep again.”

To Sherlock’s great relief John was smiling at him. He recognized it as his ‘fond’ smile. Yet another of his brilliant plans had worked then.

The smile, however, faded more quickly than he thought it should have. “You aren’t angry with me anymore are you? The tea was – good?”

John looked pained for a split second, but then he smiled again; though Sherlock wasn’t sure this one was a real smile. “I am absolutely no longer angry with you Sherlock. I’m not angry with you at all. I promise.”

Sherlock felt he was missing something. He hated that feeling more than anything else in the world. “You’re certain?” he asked, needing more confirmation.

“I am.”

Sherlock hesitated. “Because you haven’t punched me yet, you know.”

John blinked.

“You can - punch me,” he clarified. “If it would help, you can punch me wherever you like.”

John waved his hand as if to push the suggestion away. “I do not want to punch you,” he said firmly. “Anymore,” he allowed.

“You’re not angry and you don’t want to punch me?”

“Correct. The tea was excellent. It took away all lingering desire to punch you.”

And Sherlock was left with no choice but to trust John. And he did trust him. He trusted John with his life.


December 21 2014 23:03 GMT
Winter Solstice: The first day of the Season of Winter. On this day the Sun is farthest south and the length of time between Sunrise and Sunset is the shortest of the year.


He hit the ground hard and for half a minute he had no idea if he’d been sent there by the bullet, by his falling into Sherlock, or if he’d somehow failed yet again and the bullet had toppled Sherlock onto him.

For another moment there was no breath to spare to help with the triage.

It was nice, when he experienced a fleeting impression that he might actually be able to retreat into death.

“John! Johnjohnjohnjohnjohn”

Woken to reality, John groaned in protest. He’d clearly been sent to the ground by means of Sherlock. Nothing else was ever as noisy.

The bullet would have been more merciful.

“You can’t.” Sherlock’s baritone was ragged. “Don’t. Stop it.”

And he was surprised, because it almost sounded as if Sherlock had spoken through tears.

“Look, Sherlock, I’m fine. You knocked me over. That’s just what you do. I’ll be fine.”

“John -,”

Then he was horrified, because he suddenly remembered that the only time Sherlock spoke through tears was when he was about to leap off a roof. And there was nothing which John could not pull up on a loop in his head if it wasn’t Sherlock pleading with him and saying his name while trying to hold back his sobs (which had been fake because his dearest friend in the world was a heartless bastard; but he loved him anyway, god help him).

In an instant the tables were turned and John had firmly eased Sherlock onto the ground, laying him down flat.

One hand cushioned his patient’s head instinctively, easing it down carefully.

His other hand was busy patting firmly but gently, checking for injuries, for bleeding, for the entry wound; he murmured nonsense to him soothingly all the while. He would have done the same in any combat situation for any wounded comrade.

He was only distracted and annoyed that Sherlock was protesting his explorations; he was not, he reflected sourly, surprised.

“John, stop, please! Please just stop, lie still.”

And John suddenly found himself pinned to the ground - quite emphatically. He couldn’t understand how that had happened. How had Sherlock managed it? That was good, wasn’t it? It meant he could be saved?

Now John was simply reeling; he found he couldn’t focus on Sherlock’s face, on his eyes, he longed to see Sherlock’s eyes open and focused on his own; he could hear his voice though, and it was still pleading though his words only came through in bits, “John - on - me - I’ve got - John - leave me - you - leave - John -,”


Sherlock was a mess.

His entire existence had been a mess ever since he’d come home.

He supposed it was fitting that the world could now see just by looking at him how much of a mess he was on the inside. Being covered in your best friend’s blood couldn’t easily be misinterpreted. Perhaps, to be safe, he should label it. ‘Best friend’s blood’. Probably not something people did, that.

Suddenly exhausted, he sank down on the spot. He hadn’t happened to be standing near one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs so he ended up on the floor.

Not for the first time, he asked himself what the hell was going on with John. Something was wrong but he had been completely unable to deduce what it was. Whatever it was, though, had lately manifested itself through John throwing himself in between Sherlock and various weapons at every opportunity. When you happened to be Sherlock Holmes you found yourself quite often facing down a weapon. The entirely logical end result of this combination of facts was John Watson with two bullets in his chest.

Sherlock did not want to live in a world which did not have a live John Watson in it. Why else did John think he had gone away? What right did he have to throw away all Sherlock’s hard work by dying? If he’d had the energy, Sherlock would have been angry.

Harry. He knew he should call Harry. The only way he would get in to see John was through her. He didn’t have the energy for that either.

It was a long time before anyone came to tell him that John was out of surgery. Sherlock Holmes, left with very little to do and very stormy thoughts in his head for such a long time was a recipe for – well, lots of things.

“I am his husband.”

The nurse looked down at the clipboard she held dubiously. “Sir -,”

“We were married yesterday. None of the forms have been updated yet.” Nearly twenty-four hours since John had been shot, it was once again long past working hours and none of this information could be verified until morning. By then he would have arranged with Mycroft for it to be in a state to be verified. Sherlock almost smirked; if the press got hold of it everyone would be so pleased to find all the rumours had been true after all.

“Sir, I’m sorry, I –,”

“I demand you let me see my husband!” Sherlock declared loudly. The few others in the waiting area straightened up. Some glanced at him; others deliberately looked away. “We have rights and you cannot keep me from him!”

It worked. Of course it worked; he was Sherlock Holmes. He was a born actor and a born scene-maker. The hospital staff never stood a chance.

He went directly to John’s side and took his hand, because that is what he would have done if he had actually been John’s husband.

“You’re going to live,” he informed his unconscious friend. “You’re also going to stop trying to die. I went through too much to keep you alive to put up with this ridiculousness.”

He then, very carefully, inserted himself into the bed because he certainly wasn’t going to sit in one of those wretched chairs all night. It was a tight fit, but it did not take long for him to drift off to sleep.


Perihelion: the point in the path of a celestial body (as a planet) that is nearest to the sun.
January 4 2015 08:59 GMT

John had been confused when he’d woken in hospital with Sherlock wrapped around him.

He’d been even more confused when he continued to do so for the duration of his stay.

When he had asked Sherlock why he was also sleeping in what was very clearly meant to be solely John’s bed he had simply said that being in the bed with John was the most comfortable position he could find to occupy inside the hospital. When John had pointed out that Sherlock, unlike himself, was allowed to leave the hospital Sherlock had simply turned away and tapped something out on his phone’s keypad.

So thanks to John, their little family circle had had their Christmas drinkies in hospital that year. There’d been another small gathering to toast the new year and otherwise an intermittent stream of visits to the ailing doctor and his constant shadow.

The morning of the day on which John was scheduled to be sent home, he woke sans Sherlock for the first time. Instead, his friend was studying him intently from the uncomfortable embrace of the plastic visitor’s chair. It was the first time he’d seen him occupy it. Throughout the course of their hospital stay he’d perched on every surface but that one.

“Why are you so upset? I’ve been trying to deduce it, but I can’t.”

“It’s not like you to give up.”

“If I can’t deduce it, it must be a very stupid reason.”

“Well that certainly makes me want to share with you my views about life, the universe and everything.”



There was silence for a long moment.


“Well what?”

“Why are you so upset?”

John was surprised that Sherlock’s tone still remained patient. He remained silent.

“Why are you angry with me, John?”

John started in surprise, because Sherlock’s tone had turned from patient to pleading. “I’m not,” he stated honestly.

“You are. You clearly are.”

“I’m not,” he insisted. “I was, but I’m not anymore. I’ve already told you that.”

“Then explain to me why you’re trying to kill yourself. If you’re not still angry then why are you trying to undo my efforts to keep you alive?”

“I’m not trying to kill myself.” John spoke quietly. Christ, if that’s what Sherlock had deduced from his recent actions it was probably time to let the words out; it was time to try lancing the wound. “I should have been with you, to keep you from being hurt, but I wasn’t. I should have realized what was going on. I should have followed you; I should have made you take me with you.”

Sherlock was silent for a moment. John did not look at him.

“I was right. That is extraordinarily stupid reasoning.”

“Well, you are the great Sherlock Holmes; people expect you to be right, you know.”

“I wouldn’t want to disappoint,” he replied acidly. “John, you’re being unbearably tedious. I insist that you stop it now.”

“Yes. I’ll get right on that. Not a problem.”

“John, you couldn’t have seen anything I hadn’t wanted you to see.” And now he sounded bewildered. He was really being put through his paces today. “It was a very good plan,” he insisted.

John flinched. “Now that I look back on it it’s just like that first night in the back of the taxi. I should have seen that you had a very good plan. I should have known that you’d never have ignored Mrs Hudson being hurt. I was an idiot, genuinely; I was the biggest idiot on the planet. What sort of man doesn’t see that? What sort of man lets his best friend run off and-,”

“John, stop. Stop this. Just – stop. I need to think.” Sherlock’s brain was whirring like the well-oiled machine it was, and he concentrated on blocking everything else out.

John felt guilty – stupid – angry with himself – not Sherlock – that was why he hadn’t seen the anger for what it was – stupid, so stupid – both of them – he had to fix this – he’d broken John – he must fix John – he’d left John behind – but John felt he had failed Sherlock – he hadn’t of course – the – oh – yes – that was it.

“I came home for you, John. I would have left to save Mrs Hudson and Lestrade, but the only reason I came home was so that we could be together again at Baker Street. I missed the takeaway and the foot chases when you go that way and I go this; I missed your nagging me to bring home milk and the tappetty tap of your writing about me. I missed you, and the knowledge that you were safe here was the only thing which brought me through in one piece. This was where I needed you to be.”

John looked stunned; as well he might. Sherlock never would have admitted to any of that before leaving home and coming back again.

Finally, apparently feeling he needed to say something in acknowledgement, John said, “Thank you?”

Sherlock paused. He nodded. He himself didn’t really require acknowledgement. He wouldn’t have said any of it except that John had needed him to. There was no reason to deny or hide the truth, but neither was there reason to go parading it round; it was a powerful thing, truth.


March 20 2015 22:45 GMT
Spring Equinox: The first day of the Season of Spring - and the beginning of a long period of sunlight at the Pole.

John was stunned. “We’re - married? Legally?”

Sherlock shifted uncomfortably.

“How can that be? I didn’t sign anything.”

Sherlock shrugged and tried to look as if he was absorbed in the minutia of the chemicals used to make up different brands of the lickable sealant found on envelopes.

“Wait, let me guess, Mycroft.”

Sherlock purred a sound which could have been agreement.

“How is there a certificate? How do these things keep happening to me?”

Sherlock suppressed a sigh. It would have been so much more convenient if the press hadn’t got hold of that.


A/N: If you enjoyed this story, do go watch this vid - it is utterly fabulous and beautifully matches up with the emotion I've tried to convey.
Tags: fic: all my fic, fic: my sherlock fic

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  • The Address is 221B Baker Street - December

    Hm. I seem to have let myself get a bit carried away. I swear I thought I had Sherlock and John actually announce an engagement in The Scottish Play,…

  • Holmes fic: Seasoned Truths

    I am ridiculously behind on my flist due to rl issues - apologies to all - but I am throwing this up because I owe many, many thanks to…

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