Original Story Title: Past and Present
Original Story Link: http://yalublyutebya.livejournal.com/11903.html
Original Story Pairings: Sherlock/John, Sherlock/Lestrade (past)
Original Story Rating: PG
Original Story Warnings: None
Remix Story Title: A Thousand Words
Remix Author: nox_candida
Remix Beta: kholly
Remix Britpicker: ellieet
Remix Story Pairings: Sherlock/Lestrade (past), Sherlock/John UST
Remix Story Rating: PG
Remix Story Warnings: None
"A Thousand Words"
The first image he sees is the small ceremony. Sherlock’s in a dark suit with a pale blue tie—matches his eyes—and Lestrade is wearing a grey suit, sharp and crisp looking. They stand side-by-side, though their heads are tilted towards one another and both look intent. Serious.
John stands back at the crime scene, can’t take his eyes off Sherlock who—as always—looks simply stunning in his dark coat and with the expression he uses when he’s thinking. Lestrade approaches him, leans in towards him and smiles knowingly.
John’s stomach drops, just a bit, like an anvil out of a hot air balloon.
They both have presence, that something that draws people to them, the bright light that attracts all of the moths.
John’s always felt a bit like that, when it comes to Sherlock. The man is a sun around which others orbit. John’s just never realised that Lestrade’s the same. Rugged good looks that have only improved with age, silver hair lending him a distinguished air, and just the right balance between toughness, fairness, and approachability that makes his entire team respect him and try their best.
The both of them are stunning on their own; together, they’re devastating.
John isn’t attractive. He has a dodgy shoulder, an occasional limp, and he screams in his sleep. He can command his subordinates, soothe recalcitrant patients, but he doesn’t charm, he doesn’t draw people in. How could he ever compete with that?
The next is some sort of holiday party—judging by the Christmas tree in the corner, decorated with fairy lights. They stand side-by-side again, but this time in three quarters profile. Neither is facing the camera. Lestrade is talking to someone to his side. Sherlock…Sherlock is looking at Lestrade, scowling.
Sherlock tends to get lost in his own head when he’s working a case, but he’s certainly paying attention to Lestrade (Lestrade? Should he start thinking of him as Greg? Sherlock’s ex?). He has a scowl on his face, but that’s typical for Sherlock at a crime scene, as well. Lestrade glances over at him—surprising—before focusing back on the body and whatever it is that he and Sherlock are discussing.
John’s not sure he wants to know, if the unconscious way that Sherlock leans towards Lestrade is any indication of the topic at hand.
And he’s definitely certain he doesn’t want to know when Lestrade laughs fondly at whatever it is that Sherlock says.
The ceremony again. Or, rather, what appears to be the reception afterwards. Same suits, same ties. Only this time, they’re each eating a piece of cake. By the look on Sherlock’s face, it’s incredibly reluctantly. Lestrade is laughing at him, leaning towards him. Fondness writ large in the laugh lines around his mouth, in the sparkling he can practically see years later and though the medium of photo paper.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the camera wasn’t so good at conveying the fondness and respect that Sherlock obviously feels in return.
“You still respect him,” he blurts out later at dinner, when the horrible sinking feeling in his stomach suddenly reverses course, pounds its way through his chest and into his throat. “Lestrade, I mean,” he continues, as if they could be discussing anyone else.
The look Sherlock is giving him is not encouraging, but he soldiers on (even when he doesn’t want to). “It was an amicable split. You still work together, after all.”
Sherlock raises an eyebrow at him, giving him the look he always does when he’s trying to decide whether to belittle John’s intelligence or express surprise that John managed to stumble into something near the truth.
“And you…” John hesitates, because there’s a large part of him screaming at him to let this go, to stop and divert. To retreat.
But he won’t, because there’s another part inside of him that desperately needs to hear the answer. “You still care about him. On some level. Probably not the same as before, but enough... I think he cares for you, too. That’s why he stayed at the hospital, why he puts up with you.”
It feels like a conclusion he should have come to sooner. Perhaps if he’d been Sherlock…
But he’s not, and hearing the words aloud—saying the words—makes them real, permanent. Like the ring he found, like the photos. Indelible mementos that cannot be erased or deleted.
“I’m not quite heartless, John, whatever you may believe of me,” Sherlock responds, and though his voice is flat, irritation peaks around the edges, and something like pain lurks beneath. “There was a reason I was married to the man, after all.”
Of course there was, John thinks, but doesn’t say. Of course there was. And there was a reason he was married to you, too.
He doesn’t say it aloud and—in any case—Sherlock’s not done speaking.
“And he did marry me of his own free will, I assure you, much as I’m sure it’s difficult to imagine anyone being in love with someone like me.”
John is speechless for a brief moment. Enough for him to register Sherlock’s tone—disdain masquerading as boredom, as neutrality.
But he finds himself speaking without thinking, sealing his own fate. “No,” he says quietly, doing his best to keep his voice level. To not give anything away to the all-seeing detective. “No, it’s not difficult, Sherlock.”
He’s not really sure he’s managed it.
The last picture he looks at before it’s too much is another from the ceremony. They’ve probably just finished because someone has captured their first kiss as a married couple on film. It’s…lovely, really. It’s a chaste kiss, perhaps just slightly open mouths, no tongue. Sherlock’s hands are resting on Lestrade’s shoulders and Lestrade has his hands gently holding Sherlock’s waist. It’s exactly the sort of kiss appropriate for the occasion.
The flirting had been going on for a couple of weeks now, off and on. Gregson—the new DS under Lestrade now that Donovan had been promoted—was slightly taller than him (though shorter than Sherlock) and had curly hair. He was fair haired and had brown eyes, laughed often and smiled more, and had a reputation as an outrageous—if adorable—flirt.
The fact that older former Army doctors seemed to be one of his types was not lost on John, though he could hardly explain it.
It hadn’t been serious, of course. He was hung up on Sherlock and Gregson flirted with everyone, but since the hospital, since finding the ring, since the awkward conversations and the photos, John had latched onto it. Encouraged it, even.
And still, he hadn’t seen it coming.
“John,” Gregson says, smiling warmly at him. “Come out with me.”
John blinks at him. “What?” he asks, and immediately berates himself. What a stupid thing to say when he’s just been asked out on a date.
Luckily, Gregson seems to find it charming. He laughs a bit. “Let’s go out some night for dinner. Just the two of us.”
“You mean a date?” John asks, still uncertain. He hasn’t been asked to dinner in ages.
“Of course a date,” Gregson answers, eyes dipping down to the ground and then back. It’s…endearing.
John can’t help his eyes sliding over to Sherlock, just for a moment.
Sherlock who is standing over the body, his deducing face on. Lestrade is hovering right next to him and they’re leaning in towards each other. Again.
He thinks of the hospital and Lestrade’s pale, drawn face. His instinctive reaction when the nurse said, “Are you here with Sherlock Holmes?”
John thinks about Lestrade still wearing his ring, about Sherlock keeping his nearby. Thinks about Sherlock never telling him until he found out for himself (Why?).
He thinks about the first night he met Lestrade, after Sherlock had got in the cab.
“Why’d he do that? Why’d he have to leave?” Lestrade had asked.
John had shrugged. “You know him better than I do.”
“I’ve known him for five years and no, I don’t.”
That’s what Lestrade had said that night, but the looks between Lestrade and Sherlock, the familiarity, the way they unconsciously lean towards each other, the casual, though rare, touches. There’s a truth there that belies the words spoken that first night.
And finally, he thinks about those photos, about the last one in particular—that kiss—and feels something in his chest clench.
“John?” Gregson asks, stepping closer and raising an eyebrow.
“All right,” he says, trying on a smile. He thinks it works—Gregson smiles back—and his eyes dart over to Sherlock once more before looking away, focusing on what’s right in front of him. “It’s a date.”
Remember to leave feedback for both authors!