bowl_of_glow: (Sherlock | England would fall)
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Read Part I

Part II

“We have a client,” Sherlock announced a few weeks later. John looked up from his laptop as Sherlock, who had been standing in front of the window playing a melancholy piece on his violin, sprang away and went to put his violin in its case.

“A client?” John repeated dumbly, just as their doorbell rang. Sherlock grinned at him excitedly.

“Mrs Hudson is out” Sherlock said. “Let her in, please.”

It was a very good thing that a client had turned up on their doorstep, because Sherlock had been moaning about the lack of interesting cases for almost two weeks now. Of course, John still had to hope this case would prove interesting enough for Sherlock to accept, since Sherlock didn’t seem familiar with the saying about beggars and choosers and, even when extremely bored, had turned away clients he didn’t think worthy of his attention.

The client waiting on the pavement in front of 221 was a red-haired woman in her thirties. John invited her in, and she smiled shyly when he introduced himself. “Oh, yes,” she told John. “I read your blog.”

Sherlock was already waiting in his chair when they entered the flat, fingers steepled in front of his mouth. He looked at their client with assessing eyes, then lowered his hands and motioned to the chair he had placed between his and John’s. “Please,” he said pleasantly. “Take a seat.”

“Thank you,” the woman said. She looked nervously at John, who gave her an encouraging smile, then turned back to Sherlock as she sat down. “I’ve heard so much about you, Mr Holmes,” she said earnestly. Sherlock hummed impatiently, and John fixed him with a glare he hoped was intimidating enough to make him behave for at least ten minutes.

“What can I help you with, Ms…?”

“Wilson. Gabrielle Wilson,” she said, nodding. “To be honest I wasn’t even sure I should come to you, Mr Holmes. It feels… silly now.”

“Yet here you are,” Sherlock observed, and Gabrielle smiled, but without any trace of humour.

“Here I am, indeed.” She sighed, looking as if she wasn’t sure of where to start, and paused to think for a moment. “There’s a man I’ve met through a dating site,” she eventually said.

John tried not to let his disappointment show. There were very few things Sherlock found more boring than people trying to track down ex-lovers or potential partners on the internet, and John could see the interest dying in Sherlock’s eyes. Before either of them could say anything, Gabrielle continued.

“It’s not what you’re thinking,” she said. “Well, maybe. I don’t know. Even I am not sure what to think. This man… I’ve met him only a couple of times, and he seems genuinely nice. But I think he may be up to something.”

“What do you mean?” John asked.

Gabrielle looked at him. “The dating site wasn’t even my idea, it was a gift from a friend, you know, premium membership for a few months… anyway. That’s not important. The thing is – I can see what profiles other users have visited in the last month.”

John saw Sherlock perk up at that. “And?” he asked.

“And,” Gabrielle said. “I looked at his profile and I saw that apparently he’s only ever contacted women named Gabrielle.”

Sherlock smiled and looked at John, who smiled back with no small relief. “That’s quite interesting,” Sherlock commented. “Please, continue.”

Gabrielle had never invited Simon (for that was the man’s name) to her place, not after just a couple of dates because “there’s so many weird people on the internet.” They had met first in a café and then at the National Gallery. She hadn’t even told him in which area of London she lived, and that’s what made her notice that he seemed oddly insistent about finding out. Oh, he had tried to be subtle, dropping hints here and there, but she could tell he really wanted to know where she lived. That was what had prompted her to take a closer look at his profile, and then she’d discovered she was just a Gabrielle on a list of many.
“Do you keep anything valuable at home?” Sherlock had asked.
No, she did not. Unless you could call a collection of rocks “valuable” – she had quite a few, geology was her passion. Sherlock had asked her who knew about her collection anyway.
Not that many people, because they never seemed to find it as interesting a topic as she did. It was just her close friends. And well, she had posted a couple of pictures on her blog, but almost no one read it.

“She has a blog?” John asked Sherlock the following day, when he found him in the kitchen with his laptop.

“Apparently, yes,” Sherlock replied, without looking away from the screen of John’s computer. “And it is just as boring as she warned me it would be. Ten years’ worth of information, John, and I have to sift through all of them.”

John leaned in, peeking over Sherlock’s shoulder. He was reading an entry tagged 25 August, 2008, in which Gabrielle talked about a trip to Cornwell she had gone on with a couple of friends.

“You think her blog might be the key to solving the case?” John asked. It seemed a bit improbable, but then Sherlock was the qualified the detective, and he had been known to follow the most implausible leads. Sherlock pointed to the sidebar of Gabrielle’s blog.

“She says she never posted a pic of herself, and she never mentions her full name, not once,” Sherlock said. “But…”

“Gabrielle,” John said, spotting the line Sherlock was pointing to. “She uses her first name.”

“Exactly,” Sherlock said triumphantly. “Oh,” he added then. “I have a list for you.” He handed John a sheet of paper with a dozen of names written on it.

John skimmed through them. “These are… all the Gabrielles?”

“Hmm,” Sherlock hummed. “I don’t think they matter at this point, Simon has obviously moved on to other women, but anything might be useful. See if you can trace any of them. Some might have met him and noticed something suspicious.”

John spent his day trying to track those women down. Sherlock had created a couple of paid accounts on the dating site (True Romance, really?) and decided to use fake profile pictures. They had nothing but the women’s names to go on – three of them had now deleted their accounts and, as it turned out, it wasn’t that easy to try to get someone to reply to you on a dating site. John’s attempts to get the other Gabrielles to reply to his messages proved unsuccessful but strangely Sherlock, who had spent the whole day perusing Gabrielle Wilson’s blog, didn’t appear overly-concerned. It was evident he believed he was on the right track, and that the answer was to be found in their client’s blog.
As it often happened, he was right.

“John!” Sherlock bellowed one evening from the kitchen. John had just gone to his bedroom, intending to sleep after a fairly uneventful day. It wasn’t that late, barely eleven, and he was still awake. When he walked downstairs, Sherlock was standing in the middle of the living room, eyes bright. He was wearing the same dressing gown as the day before, and John doubted he had showered or even slept in the last two days.

“What?” John asked, curiously, and Sherlock waved a piece of paper in front of his face. John took it and frowned at it. It was a printed picture of a sleeping dog with rust-coloured fur, curled on a sofa. There was no text, just the picture, but John assumed it was taken from Gabrielle’s blog.

“It’s a dog,” he said, because he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to remark upon. Sherlock rolled his eyes and sighed, clearly trying to suppress a scathing comment about John’s intelligence.

“Yes, yes,” he said impatiently. “What else?”

“It’s… a Cocker Spaniel?” John said, squinting at the pic, but Sherlock waved his hand. “Never mind the dog, John! What else is there?”

“Not much,” John said, and it was true. The only other things visible were half of a red sofa and a portion of a bright yellow wall – and then, in the upper right-hand corner of the picture a blue painting, or maybe a watercolour, cut in half by the way the picture had been shot. “The painting,” John said, pointing at the picture. “It looks a bit like… Waterloo Bridge?”

Sherlock grinned. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, exactly.”

A stolen Monet. “The Waterloo Bridge, stolen from the Kunsthal art museum in October 2012, along with other six paintings,” Sherlock told John, showing him an article about the art theft on his laptop. Two paintings by Claude Monet, but also Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse. “The paintings were never recovered, and they are thought to have been burned, according to what the thieves themselves confessed.”

“But you think this is the original,” John said, and it wasn’t even a question. “You think this is one of the stolen paintings.”

“At first I thought Gabrielle Wilson had something in her possession that was more valuable than she thought,” Sherlock said. “She has built quite an impressive rock collection over the years and there are many pictures on her blog, but she was right, it has no real value. But then I saw she mentioned the dating site on her blog. She is always very careful to avoid too personal details,” he continued, “it’s a just a line in a long post, written months ago…” he handed John a printed sheet, dated 6 February, 2014, and John’s eyes jumped to the sentence Sherlock had underlined, …it’s not really my thing but it’s a birthday gift, so I think I might give True Romance a try after all.

“So you think Simon – or whoever he is – saw this, and what?”

“I think he saw a picture of the stolen painting first,” Sherlock said. “Perhaps he’s an art connoisseur – which is improbable, he and Gabrielle went to the National Gallery for their second date and she said he didn’t seem particularly knowledgeable about art. So the other option, which is somewhat more likely, is that he had something to do with the theft of the paintings in 2012. Maybe he was an accomplice. Maybe even one of the thieves, and he’s been on the lookout for this painting ever since.”

“And he just happened to stumble over this picture?” John asked. “Where did she find the painting, anyway?”

“Bought it from a street artist at the Portobello Market for 80 quids,” Sherlock said, with a small smile. “She was quite shocked when I told her it may actually be worth a good deal more than that. So, a man sees this picture and recognises the painting for what it is. He has nothing to go on expect the blogger’s first name, and he knows she’s a women living in London. Too many Gabrielles here – he might even have started a search, but it was virtually impossible to find the right woman, he probably gave up after a while. But he keeps reading her blog for any clues he might find, and then he reads that she’s just signed up to a dating site.”

“So he starts to hunt her down,” John realized. Sherlock nodded.

“We have no way of knowing how he happened to see the picture, but I intend to find out. I think there’s a lot more to this story. Smuggling operation gone wrong, perhaps – maybe he was the intended recipient. He might even know something about the other paintings.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“Now,” Sherlock said, “we wait for him to come to us.”

Sherlock gave Gabrielle precise instructions. She wasn’t to contact Simon first, but when he would call or text her (as he was sure he would), she should invite him to her place for a coffee, or whatever other excuse she felt like using, on the following day. Then she would give Sherlock and John the keys to her flat, and go spend the night somewhere else.
“You think he might try to rob her during the night?” John had asked, and Sherlock had said that it might be probable – after all the man had no way of knowing whether the painting was still in the living room or even in the house, and he might have to do a search of the whole flat. It was better not to take any chances.
After a couple of days they received Gabrielle’s call, saying she had invited Simon to her place the following day, and she would spent the night at her sister’s, just as Sherlock had suggested.

So now they waited. Sherlock was perhaps the most impatient person John had ever met, but he was exceptionally good at waiting when it was for a case. He could remain still for hours, lost in his “mind palace”, and John had often seen him wait in uncomfortable positions without moving a muscle or uttering a word of complaint during stake-outs. John wasn’t as good as Sherlock – the adrenaline kept him alert and ready for the first half an hour or so, but then boredom inevitably started to set in.

They were both sitting in the dark in the living room, half-hidden by the sofa, John with a hand in his coat pocket, fingers wrapped around the handle of his gun. He had no idea how long they sat there, waiting for a man that might not even show up. Apparently John had inadvertently dozed off, because the next thing he knew, Sherlock was shaking his shoulder, urgently whispering his name in his ear. John sat straight, suddenly awake, and took his gun out of his pocket. He strained his ears, and heard the sound of a lock being carefully picked, then the front door being opened. A man walked into the room slowly, almost soundlessly, but not quite. Sherlock and John exchanged a look, then Sherlock gave John a terse nod, and John sprinted out from behind the sofa.

“Hands over your head!” John shouted, pointing his gun. He had the advantage of his eyes having already adjusted to the darkness of the room and saw the man freeze in confusion, turning to see where the voice had come from.

They hadn’t really thought the man might not be alone.

“Get down, John!” Sherlock suddenly shouted as light flooded the room – the lights had been switched on by someone, who? – and then two shots were fired. Pain seared John’s right calf, and he fell to his knees with a cry. “Sherlock?” he cried, momentarily blinded by the pain and the sudden light, but all he heard was an inhumane growl and a beast sprinted forward, crushing violently against one of the men’s chest and knocking him down, running towards the one that was still holding the gun and stood near the door as if unable to move.

For a moment, it was Afghanistan all over again. John looked on as the giant black wolf closed his mouth around the man’s hand, biting it viciously. The man fell to his knees with an agonising cry, and John heard the horrifying noise of bones being crushed by merciless teeth, he watched the wolf trash his head as if intent on ripping the man’s hand off, and suddenly he remembered that it was Sherlock, his best friend, and not a mindless beast.

“Sherlock!” John shouted, and the wolf growled, let go of the man’s hand and turned to John, mouth still open in a cruel snarl, teeth stained with blood. He stopped growling when he saw John and whined at him.

“I’m all right,” John said, and those words, echoes of a dream, increased the disconcerting sense of unreality. “I’m fine, it’s barely a graze,” he continued, only then realizing that it was true.
He was bleeding but not much, his trousers were torn but the bullet seemed to have only scratched the skin. Sherlock turned to growl at the man who had fired the shots and seemed to have fainted either out of pain or fear. His accomplice lay also unconscious, having apparently knocked his head on the floor when he’d fallen.
Apparently satisfied when neither of them moved, Sherlock turned and trotted to John, who had hauled himself of the sofa. John remained very still. It was Sherlock. He knew it was Sherlock, but he had just seen him almost rip a man’s hand off his arm, and his muzzle was still stained with blood.
Sherlock seemed to sense John’s uneasiness, for he approached him very cautiously and looked at him before sniffing at his wound and whining pitifully.

“I’m all right, you git,” John repeated, giving the wolf a tentative pat on the head. “But I think we’d better call Lestrade.”

Sherlock didn’t let the paramedics get anywhere near John. Of course, John insisted that no paramedics were necessary and that he was more than capable of treating the wound himself, he was a doctor – but Sherlock’s behaviour was frankly worrying, especially since he refused to change back to his human form. He growled at everyone but John and kept pacing around him, and it was only because of Lestrade that no one tried to sedate him.

“Sir,” Anderson said in a warning tone when Lestrade crouched in front of Sherlock, but Lestrade ignored him and took Sherlock’s huge head in his hands. Sherlock didn’t growl at him but whimpered again while nervously wagging his long tail, and whatever Lestrade read in his eyes must’ve been enough to convince him that he wasn’t going to be a danger to anyone else.

“I’ll drive these two home,” he said to his team, and escorted John and Sherlock to his police car. John took Sherlock’s coat, the only thing Sherlock had been wearing that hadn’t been ripped to shreds (perhaps Sherlock had managed to quickly take it off, perhaps it had slipped off during his transformation, but the same couldn’t be said for the rest of his clothes.) Sherlock hopped onto the back seat next to John and placed his head on his lap with what sounded almost like a human sigh. Lestrade kept glancing at them in the rear-view mirror, but didn’t say a word until they were in front of Baker Street.

“You two are going to have a lot of explaining to do tomorrow,” he said to John in a mock-stern tone as he stopped in front of 221. John smiled tiredly. He had only mentioned what they were doing in Gabrielle Wilson’s flat but hadn’t given the police any details, especially because Sherlock hadn’t let anyone get too close to them. Lestrade nodded to Sherlock.

“Are you going to be all right?” he asked. It was clear that he didn’t seem to consider Sherlock a threat to John, not even in his current agitated state, but apparently he wouldn’t think it unreasonable if John did.

“Yes,” John replied. “I just need some rest.”

Lestrade nodded. “Just call me if you need anything,” he said, and then added, apparently to Sherlock, “and you behave.”

Sherlock huffed.

When they were finally in the flat, John took out his first-aid kit to bandage his wound. Sherlock kept following him around, getting under John’s foot, and as soon as John had taken off his trousers he was nosing at his calf, trying to lick John’s skin.

“Stop it,” John said, pushing Sherlock’s head out of the way. “Really, I can’t do anything if you keep this up. I doubt it’s very hygienic anyway.”

Sherlock sat back, staring at John with his round yellow eyes. Once John had washed away the blood, the abrasion appeared even less serious than he had thought. “See,” he told Sherlock, after he had disinfected and bandaged the wound. “I didn’t even need any stitches. I’m all better.”

Sherlock snorted, looking a bit dubious. They went in the kitchen and John put the kettle on. Sherlock kept pacing around John, around the flat, whimpering and growling incessantly with some occasional snarls. It was unnerving, and instead of Sherlock calming down, John started to get nervous as well. He wasn’t sure why Sherlock still hadn’t changed back. He had asked him but obviously Sherlock couldn’t reply, and John was starting to wonder how well Sherlock could actually understand what he said. He drank his tea in the living room while Sherlock paced around his armchair, and growing increasingly frustrated by this display of anxiety he got to his feet and announced: “I’m going to bed.”

He didn’t think he would get much sleep, but anything was better than watching Sherlock pace and growl all night, fur still smeared with blood. As soon as John got up Sherlock stopped and looked up at him, whining, his ears and tail low.

“No, I’m sorry, but I’m all worn out,” John said. “You can sit outside of my door if it makes you feel better, but I’m going to sleep now.”

He walked out of the living room without waiting to see whether or not Sherlock would follow, and was surprised when he didn’t hear the sound of claws clicking on the floor – but soon enough he heard Sherlock leaping up the stairs, and he jogged inside John’s room just as he was getting in his bed.

“No, I said outside,” John said, but Sherlock jumped on the bed and looked at him pathetically, and John didn’t feel particularly inclined to argue with a werewolf who also happened to be the most stubborn person on the planet. John sighed.

“All right, be that way,” he said, and slid under the covers. “I can’t see how either of us are going to get any sleep tonight.”

He rolled on his side and closed his eyes. He felt Sherlock move, jostling the mattress – he curled up, then whimpered, and John was startled by a wet nose against his face. “Jesus, stop it,” he said, annoyed, batting at Sherlock’s muzzle, and Sherlock lay down beside John, putting his head on his hip.

“Well, good night,” John said after a while, and Sherlock sniffed and thumped his tail on the bed. John chuckled and, despite the weight on his hip, eventually fell asleep.

When he woke up the next morning he was in an empty bed. He sat up, rubbing his eyes and wondering where Sherlock was, before hearing the tell-tale clattering of pans in the kitchen. Up and awake, then, not only in his human form but also… making breakfast? Unless it was some kind of experiment, in which case John might roll on his side again and get back to sleep because he wasn’t ready to deal with it. He walked downstairs and into the kitchen, and there Sherlock was, already showered and fully dressed, cracking eggs into a pan. He stopped when John walked in, his spatula frozen awkwardly in mid-air.

“Good morning,” he said formally, putting the spatula on the counter.

“Morning,” John replied. He looked at Sherlock, and he seemed okay, but remembering the near meltdown of the previous night he felt compelled to ask, “Are you okay?”

“I should be asking you the same,” Sherlock said, and though he hadn’t, not really, John could read the question in the anxious look he gave him.

“I am,” John replied, and Sherlock nodded. He took up his spatula again and turned back to the frying pan, then back again to John, his lips thin and his jaw set. He dropped the spatula on the table and stepped towards John.

“May I—” he asked, but John didn’t understand what he was asking permission for and Sherlock himself didn’t seem to know how to complete the question, so he walked in front of John and put his arms around him. For a moment John was too stunned to react. He stood there, back rigid, and then patted Sherlock awkwardly on the back.

“I’m okay,” John repeated, and Sherlock growled, “I know,” sounding embarrassed and annoyed, though it was hard to tell whether it was at John or at himself. He buried his face in John’s neck and inhaled deeply, nuzzling briefly behind John’s ear, and John was so confused it took him a while to realize this weird hug was probably a werewolf thing, and Sherlock had indeed tried to do the same last night.

“Sorry, are you… scenting me?” John asked, puzzled, and Sherlock replied, “Oh, shut up,” though he didn’t immediately step back. When he did he looked almost ashamed and didn’t meet John’s eyes, but immediately went back to frying the eggs in the pan.

“I’m sorry,” he said stiffly, “I’ve tried… it’s difficult not to. Seeing you hurt was…” he paused, looking overwhelmed, and gave up on trying to find the right word. “But it won’t happen again,” he assured John with firm conviction, and John didn’t know whether he meant the odd scenting thing or John ever getting hurt. They both sounded equally plausible.

Sherlock kept acting strangely around John for a while after that. He was oddly clingy, though it was clear he was trying not to show it – he seemed to grow restless whenever John was in the flat but out of his sight, and when John had to go out he texted him at regular intervals, and threatened to come and find him whenever John ignored him for too long. At the same time he seemed to be doing his best to keep some distance, physical at least. He’d always seemed to ignore John’s personal space but now, though he insisted of always being in John’s proximity or at least in his line of sight, he never sat too close to him on the sofa or peeked over his shoulder when he was typing on his laptop, and didn’t casually touch John’s arm or shoulder anymore. John suspected it had something to do with the hug Sherlock had given him – it was possible that he was a bit ashamed of it and was now feeling self-conscious, but still, the behaviour was so un-Sherlock—like that it left him puzzled.

The other baffling thing was that Sherlock had apparently dropped his investigation regarding Gabrielle Wilson’s case. When John had asked him about it a couple of days after the break-in, wanting to know if the two men had confessed anything about the other stolen paintings, Sherlock had said he had no idea.
“I told Lestrade everything I know,” Sherlock simply said. “I think the police are more than capable of taking it from there.” John, who had never known him to utter the words “police” and “capable” in the same sentence, just stared at him in astonishment.
He also seemed strangely reluctant to talk about the night of the attack. John had tried to ask him why he hadn’t shifted back but Sherlock had deflected his question, and after John had assured him that he was okay Sherlock hadn’t asked him about his wound again.

Perhaps it was Sherlock’s odd behaviour that made John’s lock himself in his room the next night of full moon, just a few days after Sherlock’s transformation.
He felt a bit embarrassed about it, he knew it was nothing but an irrational fear that prompted him to do it – but still, he felt a lot safer when he turned the key in his lock, hoping that Sherlock wouldn’t hear.

He didn’t know if Sherlock had noticed. John suspected he had, because the next day Sherlock looked at John with a strange expression, and John thought he could read the exhaustion and the guilt on his face.

Sherlock didn’t take any more cases for a while, but he didn’t complain about being bored either. He was quieter than usual, and John suspected he may be working on something after all, because he was spending a lot of time on his laptop or reading books instead of experimenting or playing the violin. To John’s great surprise, it was Sherlock that breached the subject of the night of the stake-out.

He entered the living room one afternoon as John was watching the telly. He sat in his chair and was silent for a while, but when John glanced at him he saw Sherlock wasn’t looking at the television screen but was staring at him. Sherlock didn’t look away.

“You asked me why I didn’t change back,” he said, out of the blue. “The night you were shot.”

“Oh,” said John, who hadn’t been expecting that. He cleared his throat. “Yes, well. You don’t have to talk about it. If you don’t want to. I just– ”

“I couldn’t,” Sherlock blurted out, interrupting John. “I don’t know why, but I couldn’t change back.”

John wasn’t sure what to say to that. He waited for Sherlock to add something, but he turned to look at the TV screen. They stayed in silence for another few minutes, and then Sherlock talked again.

“It never happened to me before, never. I had no idea how it could feel, to have no control over your transformation. The experience was… quite frightening.”

It was alarming, to hear Sherlock confess something as human as fear. In all the months he had known him, John had never once heard him talk about his own feelings or emotions, except to comment on how they stood in the way of pure reason and cold logic and as such had no use whatsoever, and were something to be ignored or suppressed. Of course, John knew it was just words, that Sherlock was as human as any other man, whether he was willing to admit it or not – but still, Sherlock was reckless and bold, he dived head-first into danger without a second thought, and John had never thought he would hear him admit he’d been afraid.

John looked at Sherlock’s profile, not knowing what to say, and Sherlock said, “Tell me what happened in Afghanistan.”

That non-sequitur was so unexpected that at first John thought he had heard it wrong. Then Sherlock looked at him with an expectant face, and John knew he had understood just fine.

“Why?” John asked.

“Two nights ago you locked yourself in your bedroom,” Sherlock said, and John felt himself flush, “You’ve done it on every night of full moon, ever since you’ve moved here. I didn’t notice right away, and when I did I thought it had something to do with you seeing me in my wolf-form – but you slept quite peacefully with a werewolf in your bed. It was something you did even before you moved here, didn’t you? It’s an old habit.”

It was very unnerving to be at the receiving end of Sherlock’s sharp gaze and his stream of deductions, and John felt a pang of sympathy for every suspect Sherlock had ever questioned.

“I don’t see how this has anything to do with… anything, really,” he protested.

Sherlock studied him in silence for a few seconds. “No, you really don’t, do you?” he said slowly, with an air of dawning realization, and John almost expected him to assume his customary thinking pose. He didn’t.

“You were the only member of your unit to survive the attack,” Sherlock said. “Unusual for trained werewolves to spare lives, you were saved at the very last moment. You probably thought you were going to die along with the others – for a moment you were about to.”

John couldn’t reply. He could do nothing but stare and listen, because his throat felt uncomfortably tight.

“You didn’t. You were brought to the hospital and kept under close observation – they had to wait until the next new moon to make sure you hadn’t been turned, and when it was clear you hadn’t, you received your medal and your honourable discharge and were sent back to London. You were required to attend a few therapy sessions because of your PTSD, which you did, but after these compulsory meetings you stopped going altogether. You never told your therapist much of anything, anyway.”

“How do you know all this?” John asked. His voice was hoarse and his tone clipped. He didn’t know why but he could feel the white-hot anger burning in his chest, straining his voice, threatening to spill. “Is that what you’ve been doing, researching me? Or did you ask Mycroft to dig up some files?”

“A bit of both,” Sherlock said, sounding completely unapologetic.

“This is none of your business,” John hissed, and Sherlock’s eyes flashed.

“Oh, I think it might be,” he said. “What where you doing when you locked yourself in your room, John? What happened?”

“I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at,” John replied, and now his heart was racing and his hands were sweating, and he found himself gripping the arms of his chair so hard his knuckles hurt.

“I think you do, John,” Sherlock said, voice soft. “I think you’re just trying not to see.”

Hazy memories danced around John’s mind. A full white moon, a black could unravelling – howls in the distance, the pain, always so much pain. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to wish away the images of the nightmares that kept him awake at night.

“John,” Sherlock said in a low voice, sounding close, and John opened his eyes with a gasp and saw him standing over him, looking concerned, and he couldn’t stand the pity he saw in his eyes, he couldn’t stand having him so close, crowding him. He sprang to his feet, pushed hard against Sherlock’s chest. He stumbled backwards, startled, but regained his footing quickly.

“Stop it,” John said, and now his voice was trembling with rage. “I don’t know what made you think… that you had any right. Sod it.”

He sidestepped Sherlock and strode to the door, blinded by anger.

“John,” Sherlock called, but John had already taken his coat and stormed out of the flat without putting it on. Sherlock didn’t follow.

He walked without paying attention to where he was going. Fragments of his conversation with Sherlock kept going around and around in his head, no matter how hard he tried to think of something else. His hands were shaking. He was still feeling outraged at Sherlock’s nerve, it was unbelievable that he’d gone snooping into John’s personal files, that he had kept pushing for details John was clearly uncomfortable sharing. And what for? What for, indeed.
He slowed down when he saw he’d reached Hyde Park. He sat on a bench and closed his eyes, tilting his head towards the sun.
The day was warm, and there were lots of children playing in the park and running about.
He breathed in slowly, trying to calm himself down. Sherlock’s words had been like a breach in a dam, and there was little John could do to stop the flood of memories.
He remembered the first night of full moon back in London, in his small flat – the sense of claustrophobia, the overwhelming panic. He had thrown the blanket away, got out of bed, crouched in a corner with his back to the wall. And then what?

He heard someone approaching, then sitting next to him. He opened his eyes.

“I didn’t know how to raise the subject,” Sherlock said. “I wasn’t even sure you didn’t know until today. Your reaction made it quite clear.”

John shook his head, slowly. “I wasn’t turned,” he said. “If you’ve read my files you must’ve seen it.”

“Maybe not right away,” Sherlock said. He looked at John, then turned again, staring ahead at nothing in particular. “But it’s not impossible for the transformation to have occurred later. Incredibly rare, yes – but not impossible. There have been a few cases.”

John brushed his hands on his thighs. “I don’t remember,” he confessed. “I don’t remember what happened two nights ago,” or on any other night of full moon since I came back John thought, but didn’t say.

Sherlock got up. “Let’s go home,” he said, walking away, and John followed.

It made no sense, John thought. It made absolutely no sense. How could he have transformed without ever noticing? How could he not remember?
“Your experience was incredibly traumatic,” Sherlock pointed out when John voiced those questions. “It is not surprising that you tried to suppress it, consciously or not. You’ve hidden those memories away in a corner of your mind, and in time you’ve dissociated yourself from them, and from what you had become.”
John find it hard to believe that not even Sherlock had noticed during the months they had lived together, but Sherlock said he’d never paid much attention to what John was doing after he had retired to his bedroom. A part of John suspected that Sherlock wasn’t all that immune to the influence of moon phases as he had initially led John to believe, and that on a full moon night even his mind, fine as it was, might be a bit clouded.
There was a very simple way to verify Sherlock’s theory, and that was to wait until the next full moon.
John wasn’t overly keen on the idea. He suggested that they found a place away from London, but Sherlock insisted it was better to remain at 221B, in a familiar place where John wouldn’t feel disoriented or threatened.

“Are you insane?” John asked. “We can’t stay here! Ms Hudson– ”

“Can take care of herself,” Sherlock said.

“What if I hurt you?” John observed.

Sherlock raised his eyebrows. “You never have, and we’ve lived under the same roof for months.”

John sighed. “That’s not the point. It will be… different this time.”

“Believe me John,” Sherlock said, “human or werewolf I could take you in a fight.”

John supposed his scepticism showed, because Sherlock jumped up and motioned for John to do the same. “Up you get,” he ordered.

“Really?” John said, getting to his feet. “You may be taller than me but I have military training, you know.”

He hadn’t even finished the sentence that Sherlock pounced on him. He pushed back but Sherlock proved to be surprisingly strong, and soon he had John pinned on the ground, his forearm pressed against his throat.

“As I said,” Sherlock told John with a little smirk, “I can hold my own in a fight.”

When the night came they remained at 221B, as Sherlock had said they should, though John insisted on locking the door of the flat, and even went as far as moving the sofa in front of the door. Sherlock said he was being ridiculous but John felt unsettled and anxious, as if only now the reality of his situation was starting to dawn on him. He kept pacing around the flat, not unlike Sherlock when John had been shot. They had talked about werewolf transformations – Sherlock would be there with him the whole time and he would shift too, but John still felt nervous. He could feel the familiar sense of restlessness and this time he recognized it for what it was, and it was scaring him.

Sherlock had eventually told him that even born werewolves felt the pull of a full moon, that if they didn’t turn it was like a constant itch under the skin.
“It feels wrong not to turn on those nights,” Sherlock had said. “Like being in the wrong body. Of course, one learns how to ignore it. I haven’t turned during a full moon in quite a while.”

John had asked for instructions but Sherlock had just said it was something that came naturally, and he’d already done it a few times.

“Well, not knowingly,” John had said.

“My point exactly,” Sherlock had replied.

So there was nothing to do but wait for the moonrise. Sherlock had asked John if he might feel more comfortable in his own room but the idea of waiting there made John feel trapped and helpless, so they settled in the living room. Sherlock had spread some blankets and pillows on the floor, and even a couple of John’s jumpers.

“Where did you get those?” John asked.

“Your drawer,” Sherlock replied. “Oh, don’t look at me like that. They smell like you, you might find it comforting.”

Sherlock went to the window and drew the curtains close. “Shouldn’t be long,” he murmured. He started to unbutton his shirt. “You’d better undress as well, though I admit that shirt might not be such a great loss.”

Sherlock took off his shirt, his trousers and then his pants without the slightest hesitation. He clearly wasn’t self-conscious about his body, and John had to admit there was something very graceful about it. Sherlock bent to pick up a blanket from the floor and slung it over his shoulder, then looked pointedly at John, who was still fully dressed.
John got up and started to take off his own clothes. He wasn’t shy about nudity – difficult to be when you were a doctor and had spent years in the army – but it was so very strange to undress in front of his naked best friend. He threw his clothes on his chair and wrapped himself in a blanket as well, before sitting on the floor where the sofa would be, back against the floor. Sherlock came to sit beside him.

“You don’t have to look so scared, no one is going to die,” Sherlock pointed out, looking at John.

“Well, I am scared,” John snapped. “And I’ll remind you that you were the one who said how frightening it was to have no control over this, so kindly shut up.”

He leaned with his head against the wall and closed his eyes, breathing quickly. His skin was starting to feel hot. Sherlock remained silent.

“You still there?” John asked, without opening his eyes, and what an idiotic question that was, it wasn’t like he expected Sherlock to walk away, but Sherlock took his hand and squeezed it reassuringly.

“It’s all right, John,” he said, “Don’t fight it.”

Don’t fight what? John wanted to ask, but suddenly he felt it – hot pain blooming at the base of his spine, travelling up his back with a shiver, making him go rigid with shock. He gasped Sherlock’s name, and Sherlock moved in front of him, framing his face with his hands.

“It’s all right,” he repeated, soothingly.

John shook his head, he knelt up, arching his back – it was like his spine was lengthening, he had to get on his hands and knees to relieve the pressure, curling in on himself. Under his skin something was growing, making every follicle itch, he heard a crunching noise that seemed to come from his very own skull and tried to cry out, but it came out as a strangled yelp. He snapped his mouth close with a sharp click of teeth. He tried to fist his hands in the blanket under him but his fingers had retreated and were no longer there, and when he scratched at the blanket he tore it with his long claws. Then the pain ceased, as suddenly as it had started.
The wolf lay on the floor, exhausted and trembling, covering his head with his large paws.

He felt another wolf approaching and raised his head. A black wolf, a bigger wolf. John growled, and the other wolf whined and lowered himself on the floor. He rolled on his back with a short bark and thumped his tail on the floor, then rolled onto his stomach again. John huffed, confused. The wolf didn’t look threatening. He sniffed cautiously in his direction. His scent was familiar, and soothing, even if John could not think of where he had smelt it before. He got up and approached the wolf slowly, lowering his head to sniff at him. The other wolf waited patiently, wagging his tail, then raised his head to give John’s muzzle a playful lick. John backed away, startled, and the black wolf whined. He got up and touched his nose to John’s, and John was reassured by the friendly gesture. He went to curl on his blanket again, burrowing his muzzle in a jumper. The other wolf lay down beside him, and put his head on his back. It reminded John of something, thought he couldn’t think what.

When John woke up it was to the light of day and in his human form, although he couldn’t remember having changed back. He blinked, surprised to see the room lit by the sun, and saw that he was still lying on the blanket, curled onto his side – and apparently using Sherlock’s lap as a pillow. He felt Sherlock’s hand on his hair, petting gently, but it stopped when Sherlock sensed that John was awake.

“Are you okay?” Sherlock asked, staying very still but without removing his hand from John’s head.

John felt suddenly very aware of the fact that they were both naked and he was all but curled around Sherlock, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. It felt… intimate, and good, and safe. He sighed.

“I’m okay,” he replied calmly.

Sherlock gave him a little smile, then his hand slid from his head to his shoulder, and John felt his fingers trace his bite scar. It was big, and it was ugly, and John always tried not to think about it or look at it too much, but Sherlock examined it with no trace of pity or revulsion in his eyes.

John sat up slowly, and Sherlock let his hand fall into his lap. He glanced at John’s face and then away.

“Well,” he said, and nothing else.

John smiled. “Well,” he parroted.

“We’d better get dressed,” Sherlock said.

“Yes,” John agreed. He took Sherlock’s face in his hands, watched Sherlock’s eyes go wide, and pressed his mouth against Sherlock’s. It was a chaste, close-mouthed kiss. He didn’t know why he did it and didn’t question it, it felt as natural as breathing. When he leaned back Sherlock stared at him, lips slightly parted. John lowered his hands and cleared his throat.

“Sorry,” he said, because Sherlock looked more shocked than pleased and that wasn’t a terribly good sign, was it? But when he tried to get up Sherlock grabbed his arm, keeping him down.

“You were wrong,” he said to John, voice rough. “Not much of a lone wolf.”

John grinned.

“Well then,” he said. “Sounds like a good match.”

Date: 2014-05-11 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The scenting scene was so sweet! Was it meant to be sweet or hot? Either way I can't stop giggling about the end!
Thinking about wolf!John and wolf!Sherlock rocking the streets of London.... Oh gosh, thanks for the mental image! : )


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