Warning- contains post- Reichenbach angst/spoilers
A John Watson's War fic
For once he'd called her in advance. Amazing, he knew; planning anything nowadays. He never planned anymore. Planning implied having a future, a goal, a purpose.
He'd felt particularly purposeless lately.
It was the telly that set him off. Something he'd seen, that had been on. A dance documentary. He'd woken up after leaving the set on all night and it was on. It set off a memory and he'd immediately called Ella before he got the urge to throw his shoe though the screen. Then he'd have to pay damages.
Anyway, his therapist sat in her position opposite, and for once she was waiting for him to begin. He admired her ability to adapt to him. It was helping, he could feel it. Still, he needed to build himself up before he talked. Like a ruddy wind-up trinket, he built up the words inside him as his hand jumped in his lap.
She was looking at him. Ella made a few notes, and John tried to guess what about. He was good at it, his mind falling quickly back into his old observation habits. Ella's eyes caught on his wrist, no doubt noting the yellow paint, just fresh enough to not be from their last session. Recent graffiti habits, then. True. A sub shop had messed up his order the other day and in an annoyed impulse he'd marked the side of the shop in another one of the messages now covering the city.
The searching eyes lingered on his hand, wrote that it was still jumping. His eyes- little sleep, or at least little rest. He'd tossed and turned all night, more endless nightmares. Rested on his clothes- wrinkled and stained. He'd slept in them. And then he was tired of deductions and started talking.
"I want to talk about dancing." John said, and Ella's eyes met his. She nodded softly, encouraging him to continue.
"I don't dance. Never could, really, even before my leg…" He took a deep breath before continuing. "Anyway, I never really thought about it. It looked pleasant enough, but I never took an interest. Never went to the theatre. Never took lessons. Even at my old school dances the most I ever did was sway with a girl or two.
"One day, heh," He paused, running his jumping hand through his hair and then running it across his chin absently. "I was just returning home from the surgery. I open the door and he's trashed the place. Again. Blown up images of stick figures were plastered everywhere. He'd apparently run out of room on the walls so they covered the couch and the tables and he even plastered my chair in them. Made no sense whatsoever. And to top it off, the man was dancing. Right there, in the middle of the room, Sherlock Holmes was dancing some weird tribal dance."
He closed his eyes in memory. He could remember it all, the documentary brought it back like a wave. He was looking up at Sherlock with his mouth hanging open, and the eccentric detective gave a little twirl before noticing John's return.
And then the world's only consulting detective was rambling but John wasn't paying any attention, still blinking blankly at the fact that he was dancing. It was such a human thing, he'd been sure that Sherlock at least disapproved of it, possibly thinking the action as a waste of precious brainpower.
"Were you just…" John cut off the detective, raising one hand to weakly point at the tall man.
Sherlock looked put off that John had interrupted his ramblings. "Dancing, yes. Weren't you listening?" His eyebrows pulled together in annoyance.
"No, I'm still stuck on the fact that you dance."
This seemed even more insulting to the detective. "It's for a case, John. It's a code I'm attempting to make sense of- a woman has been receiving notes with these figures on them, her husband believes that her life may be endangered… the key is in the code…" He huffed, turning around, then pausing and turning back. "And of course I dance. What convinced you otherwise?"
"You don't seem the type, is all." John shook his head, picking his way through the living room to get to the kitchen. The whole ordeal required at least a cup of tea before his brain could accept anything Sherlock had to tell him.
The detective was silent for a few moments, which should have been worrying but John didn't want to think about it as he put the kettle on. The soldier reached for a mug and suddenly he felt Sherlock immediately behind him, and the proximity made him jump. It was all he could do not to break the mug.
"Jesus-" He started, taking a step of personal space. He'd learned from experience that the consulting detective wasn't the brightest on that particular subject, and didn't understand the concept of someone's personal bubble. Luckily Sherlock didn't follow him, though he was looking at the medic intensely.
"Do you know how to dance, John?" Sherlock asked, his face examining John like he was something particularly intriguing on a Petri dish. It made John squirm slightly on the inside.
"No," John said defensively. "Why is this important?"
Sherlock pursed his lips, the gears in his mind (if they could be called gears, Sherlock deserved something much more elegant. Microchips and hard-drives would be a more fitting description) were turning, John could see it. He didn't want to know where whatever thought in Sherlock's head was going, so he returned to getting the mug. It was the only clean one left in the flat and it was on the top shelf, so John had to reach for it. He almost got his fingers around it when his other arm was grabbed by the wrist and Sherlock dragged him back into the main room.
"Wh- what are you-?" John was twirled around to face his flatmate. The taller man had taken John's left hand captive in his slender fingers and the detective's other hand rested almost casually on John's shoulder.
"Put your hand on my waist." Sherlock ordered.
"What- no!" John tried to pull away but Sherlock held him tight.
"Don't be a child, John," The tall man scolded. "Your hand. My waist. Please."
"Because that's where it goes, unless you'd rather learn the female part, which I'd be happy to teach- I do know both- but I think Sarah would appreciate you learning the male role, don't you think?" Sherlock gave John a mischievous look that he adopted when he had won and knew it.
John sighed. Reluctantly, he put a hand on the taller man's waist and tried not to think of what anyone would think if they could see them right now. Not that Sherlock's mind worked that way, but still, the situation was rather awkward. John took a deep breath and tried to shake it off. The man was his friend, they'd done far worse. John recalled one case where Sherlock had dressed in drag and convinced Watson to be his 'date'.
Sherlock nodded and began to sway, building a sense of time. "A simple waltz, to begin. Evolved from a German folkdance, performed in 3:4 time. Your position is the lead, but seeing as you don't know what you're doing, just try to mirror my movements as best you can. Beginning on your left foot."
Suddenly Sherlock stepped back with his right, and John, in a scramble to keep up, stepped back with his left, pulling the two apart. Sherlock scowled.
"No, no! I step back, you step forward!" He scolded.
"You told me to mirror you, that's what I'm doing!" John argued back.
"Idiot." The man huffed. "Reset, this time go forward. Follow me." Sherlock instructed, rebuilding the form. "Ready?"
John nodded, and when they'd reformed the sense of time Sherlock started again, and John followed him forward. Then Sherlock brought the other foot up and swept it sideways, and the soldier followed a bit clumsily. Finally, the starting foot was brought in to meet the other one. Simple enough, until Sherlock stepped forward and John wasn't expecting it and the two collided in the middle. John stepped back quickly, but the timing was lost and they were forced to start over.
"The next three counts are the same as the first except opposite. You step back and the other leg sweeps out. Shall we try again?" Sherlock instructed, his voice serene.
"Might as well," John nodded. They did the maneuvers again, and this time they made a full round of six counts, albeit a bit bumbling on John's part. They shifted right back into the dance, continuing the steps.
Sherlock counted quietly, "one, two, three, one, two, three…" as they moved, and the tall man seemed entranced by the rhythmic movements, and his eyes had closed.
"I broke it off with Sarah." John said after a few sets. Sherlock's eyes opened and he furrowed his brow at the short medic, prompting an explanation. "Well, she broke it off with me. About a month and a half ago."
"You didn't tell me." Sherlock said quietly. They were still continuing the Waltz, a bit automatically.
"I thought I didn't have to. You're the one who notices everything." John replied.
"Still." Sherlock pursed his lips, his eyes darting here and there the way he did when he was deciding what the appropriate response to something was. "I'm… sorry?"
"It's fine." John shrugged as much as he could with Sherlock's hand on his shoulder.
They were both quiet for a few moments, continuing their dance.
"She was a bit mundane, anyway," Sherlock tried.
They were quiet for a few more moments, then their eyes met and suddenly they were laughing. Laughing and dancing. And then there was a little gasp from the doorway and they both turned their heads to look.
Mrs. Hudson held a plate of cookies in her hands, and was looking at the men with wide eyes. Sherlock furrowed his brows in trying to understand why, but understood when John took a fast step backwards and ripped his hand from the detective's waist. The medic's face was tomato red.
"Oh, don't stop for me, dearies, I was just- oh dear…" She mumbled, lowering her head and bobbing off downstairs.
The two men stood there awkwardly for a moment or two. Well, John stood there awkwardly. Sherlock never really seemed awkward unless he was purposely acting the part.
"Um," John nodded. "So, this is a case…?"
"Yes." Sherlock nodded, then swept across the room to re-examine one of the figures. He seemed happy for the change in subject and John listened to him ramble on about it, trying to forget the compromising position Mrs. Hudson had found them in. Just another misadventure of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
He snapped back to the present, remembering where he was. Ella looked at him worriedly. How long had he been silent? Had he been silent? He didn't think he could cope with the embarrassment if he'd just spilled that entire story.
"Are you alright?" she asked. Stupid question.
John was an ex-medic with a psychosomatic limp and a periodic twitch in his hand. He had seen unspeakable horrors in war. He'd had bombs strapped to him and stood under the watchful eye of a sniper sight. He'd watched his best friend stroll off a building and been forced to listen to his suicide note. He had a severe case of PTS and wad diving headfirst into depression and self-pity. A lot of the time he'd just break down crying. Other times he'd punch holes in the wall. If there was ever an 'alright', John was about fifty lightyears south of 'alright'. He wasn't sure if he'd ever be 'alright' again.
Of course, he didn't say any of this.
"I'm fine." He blinked rapidly, running his tongue over his dry lips. "You know, I don't really want to talk today."
"John…" She started, but he was already on his feet.
"Really. I'm fine. I don't need to talk." He said, limping past her quickly. Halfway to the door he paused, turning his head back. "One thing, could you, ah, call me an idiot?"
"Nothing. Nevermind." John said quickly. "Goodbye."
He walked towards the door and Ella was silent a moment.
"Idiot." She called, almost timidly. Embarrassedly.
"Hm?" John turned to her.
"I said goodbye. And have a good day." She called after him.
He paused in the door, shifting from one foot to the other and back. He nodded tersely, then smiled a little before leaving the office.