Fic: Nonsense, Sherlock/John, John/OFC
Pairing: Sherlock/John, John/OFC
Word Count: ~1,800
Summary: "You've met the person who completes you...and you do not believe you were fated to find him?"
Notes: Short, strange bit of Halloween-type fic. I offer no explanations nor excuses.
Also what why did I forget to unlock this? Fail.
Warnings: This story features infidelity. ...Also various supernatural creatures, including, but not limited to, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and demons.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters (except Nadia, I suppose) and I am making no money from this work.
“John, don’t be ridiculous. Vampires
“You seem awfully certain.”
John meets Nadia on the first day of October (chill and windy, true autumn weather, she’s wearing the longest scarf he’s ever seen and her hair frizzes around her wide-eyed, heart-shaped face); she leaves him the week before Halloween. It’s raining, and they’re drinking wretched tea in a café that is taller than it is wide. Her glasses make her eyes look too large and she speaks to him in that quiet, lilting voice she has that makes everything sound like a question, and he already knows what she’s going to say before she says it.
Sherlock meets Nadia after John’s second date with her, when John invites her back to the flat for coffee. He wouldn’t have done, had he thought Sherlock would be home. But the case that had been consuming all of his time ended suddenly, and unsatisfactorily, with a confession before he could orchestrate his dramatic reveal, and so he’s not only at home, he’s in a mood. John spends the evening literally biting his tongue.
Before she leaves, she stands in the doorway and gives him a kiss, rough and biting and unexpected, her hand giving his arse a squeeze. Afterwards, he feels a bit out of breath. Her too long coat trails after her as she disappears down the stairs and then it’s just him and Sherlock, who’s leaning his hip against John’s chair and crossing his arms against his chest. “She thinks she’s a witch,” he says, with a scowl that John didn’t think anyone but a jealous lover could pull off. And that’s all: a tense silence between them, an uncertainty, Nadia’s kiss still burning across his mouth.
Sherlock’s nose is touching his nose, and John can feel his breath on his lips. He doesn’t know what’s happening, what he wants, or quite how they got here, their knees pressed together, Sherlock’s fingers on the back of his neck. Nothing like this has ever happened before.
What interrupts is a single ring. Maximum pressure just under the half second. “Client.” Sherlock breathes out the word, and John all but tastes it. It is bitter.
So he sits at the desk, and Sherlock in his chair, and in another chair there’s a tall, pale man with sharp-point teeth and an accent that John cannot place. He says he needs their help. Sherlock says he’ll be the one to decide that. Luckily for the client, Sherlock rates his problem a 7.5, and for the next three days John barely sleeps, and then he tops off the wretched week with a pair of cold hands at his throat. Very cold hands. The suspect has teeth like the client and says John would taste delicious, but luckily Sherlock is there to knock the guy out before John has to find out what that means.
Nadia touches his neck gently, just where the man’s cold and bony fingers had traced over his skin. He left no marks. Nadia leaves one, which Sherlock, John knows before it happens, will notice, and as if in response he will not speak for days and claim afterward that it was a spell like any other. John sees it all like a vision before his open eyes, maybe because he knows Sherlock so well, maybe because he’s played this jealousy game before, been the centre of a triangle whose sides don’t meet, and he knows how it runs.
Nadia asks him if something is wrong.
He points to a dream catcher hanging over her bed and pretends he hadn’t heard her. “Do you believe in those
things?” he asks. “How they’re supposed to…what, take the nightmares away?” He stares up at the shining blue beads, the one errant brown feather at the side, and he imagines that the lattice work at the centre catches bullets, that it stops them still and dead. He’s wearing a t-shirt to hide his scar, but she pushes up the sleeve and kisses his forearm. She doesn’t answer his question, either.
“You don’t believe in them,” she tells him, instead. “How can you experience all that you have, so many inexplicable,
strange things, and not believe?”
“Everything has an explanation,” he answers. This is Sherlock’s voice coming out of his mouth.
“And sometimes,” she agrees, “it’s not the explanation you’d expect.”
She smells like fall, like leaves before they rot, and cool, crisp air. He wants to ask her what she means but he also wants to kiss her, and it’s an hour before she explains herself, smoking a cigarette by her open window and the long plane of her back to him. She smokes cloves. She smells nothing like Sherlock, and he hates that it’s Sherlock he’s thinking about now, how he spends all day spitting insults and reading John’s sex life in the curl of his fingers and the cuff of his shirt and then at midnight he goes pliant and limp and has to hold himself up against the wall when John kisses his neck.
How can you be so certain?”
(Sherlock knows, and tells John so, that it’s no more than coincidence: the client with the heavy beard who howls at the moon; the woman at the door whose hand—yes—it’s rotting—there are reasonable explanations for them all. Two days later there’s another; he keeps his sunglasses on indoors, even though it’s October and raining; later when he takes them off to rub his eyes, convinced no one is looking, John catches the quickest glimpse of bright red eyes.)
Nadia greets each and every one of the spirits of 221B, while Sherlock stands by the fireplace, arms crossed and scowling. He’s heard her theory that their flat is a centre of paranormal activity, that it’s haunted by any number of ghouls, and he thinks, of course, that it’s all nonsense. He doesn’t know that John sometimes comes down to the kitchen in the middle of the night and listens to all the strange noises, the odd rattles and clanks and an odd low hum that is probably the refrigerator—but perhaps is not. He doesn’t know that sometimes John swears he sees movement out of the corner of his eye, how he turns and sees no one, nothing actually there.
The noise in the kitchen could be anything. It should not give him shivers. Yet somehow he thinks it sounds like someone humming low in his throat. He lets Sherlock’s voice echo ‘round his head, that familiar low thrum saying nonsense. Nonsense that he’s always looking over his shoulder when he walks downstairs in the middle of the night. Nonsense that his heart hurts when it beats.
Nadia walks with her arm linked in his, as they pass under dulled orange yellow red leaves, rain soaked and drooping, hanging on to the almost-bare branches of the trees. “How can you have seen so much and trust so little?” she asks him again. “Don’t you believe in fate at least?”
This makes him laugh, and his laughter makes her stop them in their tracks. A cyclist swerves around them, and in the process splashes through a puddle and sprays muddy water over their shoes. He looks down at it.
“You’ve met the person who completes you,” she says, her voice serious and quiet, confused—worried—“and you do not believe that you were fated to find him?”
His throat is dry, and he’s too warm, even though the wind that blusters past them now is cold. It sends a high ringing into his red-tipped ears. “Nonsense,” he croaks.
“Nonsense,” Sherlock echoes.
John has been called a cheat before. Also a liar. And a man who does not know what he wants. But he’s never been unfaithful before in his life, and it’s unfortunate, it’s not what he wants, that the one time he breaks his promise it is to a woman who never once suspected him, who has never said one bad word about his friendship with Sherlock, who seems, if anything, to envy them and the fated connections they’ve found. He lies awake in Sherlock’s bed, curled over on his side and staring at the squares of the periodic table in the dim light. Sherlock is actually, for once, asleep, and soundly so. John can hear him not-quite-snoring. They’ve had no problems with the heating and the windows are closed tight, and yet John feels a sudden shiver run over him. Like a breeze, but he’s indoors. Like someone passing by, he thinks, like a spirit.
Nadia sips at her tea and watches the rain blowing itself ragged against the window behind John’s shoulder. “I’ve said everything I want to say,” she tells him, with the sort of quiet decision that might end a business meeting. He feels like he’s been fired. Then she tells him to “go home to your man,” and for the first time, saying those words, she actually sounds sad.
He tells Sherlock about the break up over dinner, at Angelo’s, their usual romantic candle on the table and Sherlock can’t stop staring at the flame. “Well that makes things much simpler, doesn’t it?” he says. John rather thought it made things more complicated. Sherlock’s foot is rubbing against his ankle under the table.
Halloween comes and goes and November slides into its place, cold and rainy and chill. There are no more vampires, no more werewolves, no more zombies, no more demons ("There never were, John.”) and the weirdest client they have is a man who wants their help finding his escaped pet snake. So maybe he was just imagining things, or maybe it was Nadia’s strange influence, or maybe it was the season, something spooky in the air. Or maybe for a few weeks he was just more attuned to something—something unnameable and invisible and strange—and whatever it was that he saw is still out there. Waiting, maybe, to be seen again.
Either way, one night on the edge of December, he finds himself in the kitchen again, drinking tea at 3am alone, and he swears he hears footsteps creaking down the stairs. They’re coming down from the room he and Sherlock never use. The steps don’t frighten him: whoever it is, John knows that he (or she?) is benevolent. The footsteps pause outside the kitchen door. Hesitating. John waits to see what will happen next.
But the next noise comes from behind him, Sherlock’s sleepy grumble of a voice asking him what he’s doing, and will he come back to bed; it’s quite annoying to wake up alone and he really doesn’t like it. John looks up abruptly, and smiles. He’s not sure if Sherlock can see; it’s dark and he’s kept the kitchen light off, and Sherlock’s face is near invisible to him. John imagines he’s frowning in a rather endearing way. “Coming,” he says. “Be right there, I promise.”
Sherlock shuffles back off down the hallway, and John stands to put his empty mug in the sink. He listens very carefully. The footsteps retreat back up the stairs.