Prompt:By the lovely pooglicorn John realises Sherlock is trying to rope him into a (Highly Sophisticated!) prank war... at 221b_slashfest - sadly my lj html is too crap to do a proper link...
Rating: R / NC17
Word count: 2100
Warnings: Sex and severed limbs (but not at the same time...)
Summary: In which hostilities break out, words (amongst other things) are exchanged and non-combatants are flummoxed...
Beta’d by the lovely, talented ptelefolone - queen of the betaing art!
This fic will be whoreishly crossposted when I have the time! Apologies in advance...
An Eye for an Eye...
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment at which hostilities broke out at 221B Baker Street. There isn’t even agreement between the opposing parties: Sherlock blames it all on the hand, while John insists that the hand was merely retaliation for the foot. Sherlock snorts at this and claims that the foot was the culmination of weeks of experimentation into John’s levels of tolerance and that if one was going to blame the foot one might as well blame the eyeballs.
‘Precisely,’ says John.
‘Unobservant,’ says Sherlock, adding that John is clearly an idiot and it was not Sherlock’s fault if he was surrounded by cretins.
Such exchanges often become protracted – even heated – causing the more nervous listener to regret having asked such a seemingly innocuous question. However, the more attentive observer – Mycroft, perhaps – would deduce that there is no real animosity in the words. The conflict, if it can be described as such, has played itself out. However, even observant parties retain a passing curiosity for the narrative and, settling back in the expensive arm chairs of the club, bide their time until the story is resumed.
And so, to take the earlier starting point, The Foot.
The foot, as John would exclaim, rolling his eyes heavenward in a gesture of acute frustration, was in the bloody bath. Not only in the bath, but tangled in the shower curtain. Ensuring that when one doctor, sleep-clogged and late for his legitimate duties, leapt into the shower without looking, he had the unpleasant sensation of feeling something squelch. He looked down. Cold, lifeless and now slightly battered toes reproachfully met his gaze.
The bellow would have been heard by Sherlock downstairs, if he hadn’t chosen that morning to extend his network of London’s pettier criminal classes – preferably those with connections in the catering trade.
Swearing, John abandoned the shower and left for work, only to find that he had read the calendar wrong. His shift was not until the late afternoon and he would now have to reorganise the surprise theatre tickets for that evening, which he had bought as an apology for Sarah.
‘You see,’ says Sherlock, at this juncture in the narrative, ‘Nothing to do with me at all. Displaced rage caused by your own inadequacies.’
John shoots him a withering look.
Returning home to find the flat abandoned and a fresh hand on the kitchen table caused John’s self control to snap. He hurled the hand into a biscuit tin and slammed the lid on it. This would at least provide Sherlock with the necessary evidence to deduce his displeasure. He then stormed off to the pub where he spent a miserable evening pretending to watch the sports.
That, according to John, would have been that, if only Sherlock had not decided to remain out for the rest of the evening, on the trail of an abused pastry chef.
‘Clearly nonsense,’ remarks Sherlock. ‘You knew it was Mrs Hudson’s book club night – you only blame me because you don’t like to admit that you frightened her.’
‘But who leaves hands on the kitchen table?’ asks John.
‘I do,’ replies Sherlock, complacently, and steals a piece of John’s macaroon.
Mrs Hudson’s book club was a fixture in the social calendar. She went with Mrs Turner and vied happily with her over who could provide the more sumptuous refreshments. Indeed, that very morning, she had baked a sponge roll. Unfortunately, she had elected to place this offering in a flowery tin – the pair of the one in John and Sherlock’s kitchen.
She stopped off in their kitchen on her way out, to pick up a packet of tea which John had kindly added to his shopping list. Putting down her burden on the kitchen table, she rootled about in the cupboard, before going through her bag to check that she hadn’t forgotten the chosen book. She was sure she had picked up the right tin: it was the right weight and she heard something bump inside when she shook it.
The book club had never been so dramatic.
Sherlock returned to find John out for a drink with Sarah and Mrs Hudson having hysterics on the sofa. He was not pleased.
‘Not pleased?! You were livid! And totally thrown by the tears! You ended up practically having hysterics yourself!’
‘Nonsense, John. I assure I had the matter perfectly under control.’
‘I returned to find you patting her gingerly on the shoulder and trying to soother her by giving a long lecture on human anatomy. The poor woman was terrified!’
Sherlock’s lips purse. ‘Lectures are soothing,’ he states firmly.
John sighs and adds this to his mental list of topics to discuss at a later date.
Sherlock’s initial rage over the affair of the misplaced hand (or misplaced foot) subsided into a sense of profound grievance and a simmering desire for vengeance. Not only had John moved one of his experiments, but he had also done so in such a way as to guarantee exposing Sherlock to the spectacle of a middle-aged woman in tears.
A middle-aged woman for whom he feels something akin to affection.
A housekeeper (‘landlady,’ supplies John, automatically) beyond reproach – now rather damp and snivelly, perhaps, but none the less admirable.
His retaliation would be swift and silent. He might even be able to kill two birds with one stone...
Inviting Sarah back for a drink had seemed like a wonderful idea at the time: after all, John thought, they really did seem to get on. She was funny, clever and laughed at his jokes – a far cry from the sulks, rages and insults which passed for light conversation at Baker Street. Best of all, Sherlock was definitely out: John had ensured this by having a quiet word with Lestrade. The Detective Inspector rolled his eyes, but promised to give Sherlock a turn on the force’s firing range – after all, he said (with what looked suspiciously like a wink), you never know when being a crack shot might come in handy.
In short, the signs seemed auspicious and John followed Sarah up the stairs of the house with a spring in his step. Sarah went to the bathroom and he set about making them drinks. He had just started chopping limes when he heard the screams. He ran into the bathroom, knife in hand, to find Sarah in a state of shock, pointing with quivering finger at the soap dish.
It took a moment for John to realise what was wrong, so carefully had the scene been posed. The bar of soap was nestling neatly in the palm, the fingers lovingly curled around it.
The hand in the kitchen had clearly been one of a pair.
After this dramatic opening of hostilities, the flurry of incidents which punctuated the next few weeks soon became positively childish.
John replaced Sherlock’s nicotine patches with plasters. (‘They’re not good for you! And besides, you didn’t come home for another two days! It was way too late to yell at you!’)
Sherlock retaliated by replacing the coffee in the coffee jar with decaf. (‘But John, I thought you were in favour of pursuing a healthier lifestyle!’)
John eventually worked it out after his third day dragging himself sluggishly through the mornings, only to feel suspiciously restored after his lunchtime cup at the canteen. He considered remonstrating but Sherlock remained remarkably hard to pin down for long enough to have a conversation.
John put the latest body part experiment in Sherlock’s bed.
Sherlock put the skull under John’s pillow.
John sabotaged the iron, causing Sherlock to have to leave the flat in a creased shirt. (Sherlock wrinkles his nose at the recollection.)
Sherlock adapted John’s alarm clock so that it would sound precisely 45 minutes after its allotted time.
If they had been asked at the time, neither of them would have been able to say quite why they were doing these things. But these little interventions in each other’s daily lives had become surprisingly addictive.
It was the alarm clock incident which provoked the inevitable crisis.
John’s timekeeping had always been erratic and, since The Hand, Sarah had been much less accommodating. His arrival at work half an hour after the start of surgery, wild haired and unwashed, brought things to a head. The practice manager hauled him in over lunch and a very uncomfortable interview followed in which he was informed that he was being issued with a formal warning and any further infractions will lead them to terminate his contract. His surgery ran late, the patients were fractious and by the time he dragged himself home at 9pm, his fury at Sherlock had become a slow simmering rage.
He slammed the door, and stormed up the stairs. Sherlock, somewhat surprisingly, was on the sofa, reading a book about obscure poisons.
‘What the hell were you thinking of?’
‘Hmm?’ Sherlock didn’t look up.
‘No seriously, what crossed your mind? Did you think it was funny? That it was a joke? We need this money, Sherlock! I need this money! You know this!’
‘Have you quite finished?’ He turned the page.
This was the last straw. John stormed across the room, grabbed the book and flung it against the wall.
‘What the fuck are you doing? It’s all very well leaving body parts around the place, actually, scrub that, it’s bloody psychopathic leaving body parts around the place but my work is absolutely off limits!’
Sherlock raised an eyebrow.
‘Sociopathic,’ he corrected.
‘You are bloody impossible! Why am I even telling you this? You know what? Maybe Donovan was right! Maybe you are a serial killer! And I’m mad to be even trying to have this...umprh!’
The last words came out rather less distinctly. It is hard to articulate yourself properly when the world’s only consulting detective is trying to kiss you.
What happened next is not described to the listener but remains vivid, raw and private in John’s memory.
He was startled, to say the least, and tried to push Sherlock back. However, as he had found on many occasions, Sherlock was remarkably persistent.
And ridiculously good at whatever he sets his mind to.
The most John managed was a gulped ‘What the...’ before it was swallowed in another kiss, as Sherlock hooked his fingers into the open collar of John’s shirt and tugged him down. And John, rather to his surprise, found himself grasping back, digging his fingers into Sherlock’s shoulder and clutching him closer. They rolled to the floor in this not-quite-grapple, not-quite embrace. John bit at Sherlock’s neck, licking and gasping as Sherlock straddled him, pinning down his arms. Sherlock paused briefly.
But the jerk of John's neck to meet Sherlock’s mouth again apparently told him everything he needed to know. Sherlock’s hands slid up his shirt, his fingers stretching across John’s chest, raking the skin. John shuddered and heard Sherlock groan as he snaked his own fingers round Sherlock’s neck, pulled him down closer, tighter. Sherlock’s back arched as John fumbled at his belt but he jerked forward again, holding John down in another furious kiss.
There was nothing neat about the way the way they struggled out of their clothes, a process complicated by their pent-up need to be touching, revelling in the smell, the taste, the electricity of physical contact. John laughed as Sherlock moved over him licking and nipping at his skin. He ran one hand through Sherlock’s hair and scrabbled at the nape of his neck, tracing tiny frantic circles against the skin. He wrapped his other hand around Sherlock's cock. Sherlock moaned again and begin to rock against his body.
Sparks fizzed at the edges of John’s vision as he felt Sherlock curl his fingers tightly around his cock and caress his thumb across the smooth head. He heard himself gasp Sherlock’s name. All was heat and light and friction.
This, he thought, this is perfection.
Afterwards, they lay side by side on the sitting room floor, sated. He tried to ask the obvious question.
‘How did you know?’
Sherlock, raising an eyebrow, lazily answered ‘Really John...after gathering so much experimental data?’ before drawing him closer, in a tight embrace.
The story of how they got together is not straightforward. They have become used to uncomprehending looks as less observant questioners struggle to find a polite comment to neutralise this tale of passionate attrition, turning it into something more acceptable, bland, normal.
But, as Sherlock reads the blush which has risen on the back of John’s neck, and John brushes his fingertips against the back of Sherlock’s hand, it doesn’t matter.
It is their story, after all.