Original Story Title: Bricoleur
Original Story Link: http://innie-darling.livejournal.com/168408.html
Original Story Pairings: to quote the author: As with almost all of my fics in this fandom, it's a love story between straight John and asexual Sherlock. I'd call it gen with a side of slash (Harry/Clara)
Original Story Rating: R
Original Story Warnings: none that I'm aware of
Remix Story Title: Bricoleur (the DIY remix)
Remix Author: lavvyan
Remix Beta: debris_k
Remix Britpicker: N/A
Remix Story Pairings: Harry/Clara and, as innie_darling so wonderfully put it, it's a love story between straight John and asexual Sherlock.
Remix Story Rating: PG
Remix Story Warnings: none
"Bricoleur (the DIY remix)"
When Sherlock had been eight years old, he'd wanted to be a pirate. Pirates didn't have to deal with school or homework or ordinary people, or conform to any rules. They weren't shown off at parties, one tedious repetition of "yes, sir, pleased to meet you, sir," after another until, invariably, out slipped the "that's a spectacularly dumb question, sir," that would get him banned from all the interesting books in the library (the ones with blood and peril and arch nemeses being brought to justice in the end) for another week.
Pirates never got banned from any libraries. They'd just board them like enemy ships and make huffy librarians walk the plank from a third-storey window.
"Ah," Mycroft said when Sherlock told him as much, "but you'd still need a reliable crew. Where would you find that, I wonder."
"I only need a first mate," Sherlock argued back, "he can take care of the rest."
But ultimately, they both agreed that the mere concept of trust was far too unsubstantiated for either of them to buy into it, and that Sherlock might be better off with a solitary occupation.
So he became a consulting detective instead.
The intriguing thing about John is that he's somehow convinced himself he's an 'ordinary bloke.' Intriguing, because it's so far off the mark even Mike Stamford could tell. Stamford might be easily awed by the extraordinary, but his regrettable lack of observational skills means that the extraordinary has to tap on his shoulder and politely clear its throat to get his attention (or, in Sherlock's case, disrupt one of his anatomy classes to inquire about rates of decay within a specific set of climate conditions and incidentally expose four of his students as petty small-scale criminals). For him to notice John's exceptional character, it must have been glaringly obvious.
And yet John doesn't seem to realise he's not as boring as nearly everyone else around him. He's not as brilliant as Sherlock, naturally (who is?) but he's intelligent enough to follow when Sherlock takes the time to explain. He doesn't even need every little detail to draw a connection, something Scotland Yard would be well-advised to try and emulate, for a change. John is also brave, and inquisitive, and loyal, and, above all, trustworthy.
John Watson is first-rate first mate material. If Sherlock had met John Watson some years earlier, England's coasts might never have been safe.
And he would have saved the additional pay for a ship's doctor.
The downside of a first mate, of course, is the captain having to share him with other, lesser people.
'Jay,' John's sister calls him when she comes begging for Sherlock's help. A nickname, obvious and dull and uninspired. Jay. Jack. Johnny, Jo, Jojo, Jayjay , John-boy, Johnny-Cake, John 3:16, John, I'm only dancing. Elton John. John, Paul, George and Ringo. Inanity. 'John' is a sufficient descriptor. Sherlock's John. He of the cracked ribs and stubborn pride.
John's attention rests firmly on her, which simply cannot be borne. Sherlock is ill, complete with headache and congested airways and eyeballs stuffed full of cotton balls that spill into his brain turning the world into a fuzzy muddle. She has no place here. She especially has no place here when Sherlock has just left his wonderfully warm bed to be coddled. By John. Who is now shoving Sherlock's head off his thigh in recrimination for a perfectly valid statement; really, you'd think his sister being blackmailed would be sufficient motivation for more coddling, not less. If Sherlock is to be expected to solve a (small, boring) crime against his better judgement (Harriet treats John like her scullion rather than Sherlock's second-in-command; this, too, cannot be borne), there should be enticement rather than shoving.
Harriet goes on to describe the letters she received in refreshing detail. Blackmailing has always affronted Sherlock on a personal level. The only people who need to capitalise on another person's crime are the ones too unimaginative to create their own. Lack of creativity, in Sherlock's book, is among the highest forms of offence.
Still, his interest isn't truly piqued until Harriet says, "They said I killed a man."
Beside him, John stiffens before he jumps up to pace.
"Who?" he demands. The word comes out harsh, but Sherlock notes with interest that he isn't angry at the prospect of his sister being a murderer, however accidental. He's worried. Of course, John's moral code has already proven to be remarkably fluid, but not to the point of Harriet's drinking being a worse transgression than her killing someone.
Harriet Watson was involved in a hit-and-run she doesn't remember. Someone is blackmailing her for it. Sherlock is ill (ill-tempered; ill-disposed towards the woman, who only brings out the insipid nicknames when it suits her agenda; ill-treated by John, who stares at him like Harriet's sudden tears are somehow his fault). He wants to be coddled (by John, who is too busy pampering his sister to have any coddling to spare). He wants the tea John was going to make him, damn it all.
But. John is his friend. John is firmly convinced of Harriet's innocence. John wants his help. The chance to finally pay John back for that amazing thing he offered to do that night at the pool is one Sherlock can't possibly allow to pass.
"I despise blackmailers," he says, perfectly aware that right now, he despises clingy sisters even more. "And I will find the truth."
And if Harriet truly has killed a man and John ends up resenting Sherlock for being indirectly responsible for putting her into jail, Sherlock is going to make them both walk the plank.
It's only once he's well into the investigation that Sherlock realises: John loves Harriet. He's not acting out of sympathy or fraternal obligation; he loves her. Worse, he has loved her longer than Sherlock (because she's his sister), and deeper than Sherlock (because she's hurt him, time and again, and he's overcome it, making their connection even stronger), and if Sherlock turns up the evidence that condemns her…
If Sherlock does that, John might not only resent him.
John might leave.
John can't leave. Not ever.
Sherlock blames his lingering pneumonia (he did not almost faint in Lestrade's office half an hour ago, that was merely a ploy) on what happens next.
They've just returned to Baker Street, and the stairs leading up to their flat have never seemed steeper. Sherlock has to stop twice, knuckles white around the banister as he gasps for breath in-between bouts of coughing. John hovers behind him, pale and worried like Sherlock will faint for real this time or at the very least bring up an alveolar sac or two. And somehow, in Sherlock's (possibly sickness-addled; he can't be entirely certain) mind, this translates into one sudden certainty.
Now is the perfect time to find out if John loves him as well.
John cares for him, that much is obvious. John is also a doctor; caring for people is rather implied. John is his friend. John frequently storms out when Sherlock annoys him. It all seems like a rehearsal for that final (upcoming?) storming-out, but if John loves Sherlock…
If John loves Sherlock enough…
In any event, Sherlock does his best to look pitiful as he struggles out of his coat. He allows his teeth to chatter slightly as he asks meekly for a cup of tea. If he appears to let his guard down, surely John will reciprocate.
"You're going to eat something too," John says. He's taken Sherlock's arm to guide him to the sofa, his fingers startlingly warm through the fabric. "And get a blanket, you're freezing."
"I'm not," Sherlock says, indignant, before he remembers that he's meant to appear vulnerable. Thankfully, another coughing fit has him almost doubled over. His eyes watering, Sherlock looks beseechingly at John. John presses his lips together and shakes his head.
"Lie down before you fall over," he says, but his touch is gentle as he helps Sherlock take the last few steps. "Careful."
The sofa has never been more comfortable. Sherlock lets out a soft sound as he sinks into the cushions.
"I might be a little cold," he allows. John pats his shoulder and hurries off to get what appears to be every duvet, sheet and blanket in the house.
"Honestly, John." It's not that Sherlock has any objection to finally being coddled as he should have all along, but how is he supposed to solve Harriet's case if he can't even use his mobile, trapped as he is under a mountain of care (and blankets)? But then he realises that delaying the case equals delaying John's eventual mutiny. "That is. I… appreciate your, ah… efforts."
He tries a smile, hoping to evoke a similar reaction from John. Perhaps even a declaration of friendship, which he might then use as a stepping stone across the treacherous river of John's love for Harriet to arrive safely on the warm and homely shore of John's love for Sherlock.
Dear god, he's tired. His head feels a bit fuzzy.
"You look like Jabba the hut," is John's inexplicable reply. Sherlock frowns. How does his being swathed in blankets make him look like a small building? Popular culture, he decides, and tries again.
"You're a good…" flatmate, friend, first mate, fixed point, "doctor."
Do you love me?
"Yes, I know," John says, and makes him eat a sandwich.
Sherlock gives up.
Unexpectedly, he makes things worse.
He was trying to get a better handle on Harriet's character by asking her wife if she thought her capable of murder. Wilful blindness aside, a person's closest relations are generally the best judges of probable behaviour. John, however, seems to have taken the entire episode as a personal attack, storming out (again; how many times left before he doesn't come back?) and maintaining an icy silence ever since.
Sherlock doesn't know what to do about it. He doesn't have friends. He's observant, but he knows nothing about the care and feeding of a friend. All the friendships he's seen so far have either been juvenile or in some way related to a crime.
It's not that John's stopped caring for him, but now Sherlock can clearly tell the difference between doctorly care and that of a concerned flatmate. He still gets the sweet lemon-ginger concoctions that are supposed to help with his congestion, but there's no accompanying smile. He still gets the blanket, but no admonition to dress more warmly, for god's sake. He gets the food, but not the glares to make him eat it.
It's like mentally John has already moved out, simply because Sherlock has dared to question Harriet's innocence.
"I don't want her to be guilty, John," Sherlock says finally, miserably. All his non-verbal cues so far have been ignored. If John doesn't accept this olive branch, all that remains for Sherlock to do is solve the case, find the evidence, and make sure all it is capable of proving is Harriet Watson's innocence. John would be happy. It would be his olive tree. Surely a tree is worth more than a branch?
Entire forests grow and wither before John finally replies.
"I believe you."
Sherlock is not so far gone he would sigh in relief, but it's possible his shoulders sag a little.
Finding himself right back where he started isn't any sort of progress, obviously. But he's feeling better than he has in days.
Maybe he should just leave it at that. They're getting closer to uncovering the blackmailer. Sherlock will find out the truth about the supposed hit-and-run, yes, but if he has to choose between it and John, he knows which one to pick. If Harriet is guilty, Sherlock can make it so that she's not.
John will never need to know.
Except then, suddenly, Sherlock gets his answer.
The blackmailer, Sherlock has discovered, has to work in one of the university's IT rooms. Elderly, resentful, thinking himself deserving of more than what few rewards life has chosen to bestow on him. Envious of those whose ambitions carried them further. Harriet Watson must have been a tempting target, working as she does for Europe's largest private fund.
Sherlock has to get into that IT room. The obvious solution is for him to pose as a student. He has always looked younger with his hair cut short. Conclusion: John needs to cut his hair.
He strips off his shirt (no need to get freshly-cut hair sticking all over it) and sits backwards on a chair. Behind him, John hesitates, snipping at air with the scissors before he takes a fortifying breath and reaches out.
At the first touch of John's fingers to his hair, Sherlock realises he's either just made the biggest mistake of his life or engineered a brilliant coincidence. His scalp isn't any less sensitive than anyone else's, and John's fingertips… they feel nothing like a barber's, impersonal and quick. John's touch is hesitant at first, then surer, familiar, comfortable the way John puttering about in the kitchen is comfortable. John snips and tugs here and there, his breathing slowed down as he gets lost in the slow rhythm he's creating with hands and scissors.
But that's not all he's doing. Sherlock doesn't think John is even aware of the way his fingers keep carding through Sherlock's curls, playing with them, stroking Sherlock's scalp in a way that seems almost… possessive.
Sherlock lets his eyes slip shut as he hums with contentment, a slight smile on his lips. However this case turns out, he doesn't think he needs to worry overmuch.
"Boxer," he says softly.
"Hmmm?" John clearly isn't paying much attention.
"I'll be a boxer, injured in a previous bout. So you can clip it closer than you have been." Incidentally, it means John will have to start all over again. Sherlock barely keeps the smug grin off his face.
John stops, his fingers still in Sherlock's hair. Sherlock can almost hear the thoughts ticking through his head in an ordered little row: 1. Sherlock spends a lot of time on his hair (subduing the mess does take some effort), therefore 2. Sherlock must be rather enamoured of his curls. 3. Sherlock is prepared to sacrifice those curls, therefore 4. Sherlock must care more about Harriet's plight than he's let on.
In theory, Sherlock would be more than willing to accept the gratitude (affection) this misunderstanding would certainly afford him, but honestly. Can he be any more obvious about his motivations?
It would appear that he must, for John to understand.
"It's not for her, John. Cut."
After a pause, John resumes his cutting. Sherlock resumes his humming, satisfied in the knowledge that the bond between them is a line well-tethered.
The rest is almost too easy. The blackmailer is identified and apprehended, as are his immediate accomplices. Harry Watson's name is cleared.
John is thrilled and returns to mothering Sherlock like his fervour had never lessened (eat this; drink that; sleep; change your clothes; you just look so bloody young with that hair). Sherlock, in turn, drops the more melancholy pieces he's been playing lately and starts a new experiment, namely how fast he can bring John out of a bad mood with nothing but his violin.
They touch more. They don't argue less, but then that would be dull. John doesn't show more faith in Sherlock, just as Sherlock doesn't show more appreciation for John. That's not how they work.
And yet, Sherlock finds himself more relaxed, less prone to fits of temper. He lets John bully him and takes care of John in his own way, and if people assume they're in a relationship even more frequently than before, well…
Sherlock's never contradicted them before. John has stopped arguing the point.
When Sherlock had been eight years old, he'd wanted to be a pirate. Pirates didn't have to deal with obnoxious older brothers or eating their broccoli or not making enough friends to satisfy their mothers. They could have adventures and go places and anyone who mocked them would find themselves trying to swim in shark-infested waters.
Consulting detectives, though… Consulting detectives can also have adventures, and do whatever they please, and go wherever they want – provided they're smart enough to talk, cheat or sneak their way in. They don't have a ship, but London has a multitude of cabs. They don't have a cat o' nine tails, but a good verbal lashing can be immensely satisfying.
They don't need a crew. They can make do with just one partner, one who always has their back.
Being a consulting detective, it turns out, is undeniably the better job.
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