Original Story Title: Uncontainable
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1166059
Original Story Pairings: Sherlock/John, John/Mary
Original Story Rating: Mature (R)
Original Story Warnings/Content Notes: none
Remix Author: yalublyutebya
Remix Story Title: Contained
Remix Story Pairings: Sherlock/John, John/Mary
Remix Story Rating: Mature (R)
Remix Story Warnings/Content Notes: none
Remix Story Beta: lady_t_220
Remix Story Britpicker: N/A
Summary: Sherlock has never in his life considered himself to be selfless, but his feelings for John continue to push him down unexpected paths.
"John, there’s something I should say. I’ve meant to say always and then never have. Since it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again, I might as well say it now."
He's on the verge of finally confessing everything he feels, everything he's kept carefully contained for so long. He takes a deep breath, raises his eyes to John - and freezes.
He can't do this, not now, not with a plane waiting to take him away and Mycroft and Mary - heavily pregnant with John's child - hanging around in the background. He holds John's gaze for a fraction longer, hoping that John can see what it is he really wants to say, then forces out a joke.
"Sherlock is actually a girl's name."
John turns away with a laugh, but Sherlock doesn't miss the half-second of confusion, maybe even disappointment. Sherlock smiles as John turns back to him, a mask to hide the crack opening up inside his chest. Taking a nosedive off a four-storey building was child's play compared to this separation. Now, he has to look John in the eye as he tears himself away, whilst simultaneously trying to delete the most perfect five months of his life.
"It's not," John finally says, but there's something more lurking in his expression. Sherlock clings desperately to his facade of mild indifference.
"It was worth a try."
"We're not naming our daughter after you."
It's interesting how quickly John has returned to that previous state of 'we'. Sherlock would feel bitter if he didn't have his own efforts to blame.
"I think it could work," he says quietly, barely paying any attention to the conversation. His eyes flick over John, taking in every familiar detail and committing it to memory. John meets his look head-on, but Sherlock can't bear it and he drops his gaze to the ground. He has to do this now, with the thought of John's wife and unborn daughter front and centre, preventing him from faltering.
He pulls off his glove and holds out his hand. "To the very best of times, John."
John blinks, hesitating, and Sherlock imagines he's trying - just like Sherlock - to reconcile this cold offering of a handshake with before. John finally reaches out, his smaller hand slotting into Sherlock's.
They shake briefly, but Sherlock can't bring himself to draw back straight away, although lingering brings its own torture. John's eyes flash with emotion that he blinks away, and Sherlock forces himself into action.
He gives John's palm one more squeeze, then retreats, his hand still warm as he pulls his glove back on. He turns away and walks to the waiting plane, forcing himself not to look back.
"Would you like to come to my parents' for Christmas?"
John starts, looks up from his laptop. His face creases into a smile. "Of course."
"I've invited Mary."
"What?" The smile disappears in an instant.
"She's carrying your child," Sherlock says quietly.
"I know, but-"
"And you're not a man to abandon his unborn child."
"It's not that simple."
Of course it isn't simple. This is very nearly the most difficult thing Sherlock has ever had to do, but he knows he can no longer live with John's confused guilt tearing him to pieces, forcing them apart.
"Besides, you still love her. You miss her."
"How can I-" John cuts himself off, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Sherlock, we... The last few months..."
When John raises his eyes to Sherlock with a heartbroken expression, Sherlock has to stop him.
"You know this is the right thing to do."
John shakes his head minutely, that awful look on his face. "Sherlock..."
Sherlock squares his chin, staring at the door beyond John's head. "It's fine, really. I'm ill-suited to relationships anyway, as I'm sure you've realised."
He can feel John's stare boring into him, making him more nervous than he needs to be. For the first time he can remember, lies taste ashen in his mouth.
"I really think we'd be best to salvage what we can of our friendship at this point and carry on as before."
He risks a glance at John to find him frowning. "I thought..."
"It was an interesting experiment," Sherlock interrupts with forced lightness. "But I know you need much more than I can give you. And there's the child to think of."
John rises to his feet and moves to stand in front of Sherlock. "You mean it, don't you?"
Sherlock forces himself to hold John's gaze. "Of course."
"I don't know if I can do this... If I want to."
"But you will."
John swallows, holding Sherlock's gaze. "I need to think about it."
John regards him for a moment, before reaching out to grasp Sherlock's arm, his expression earnest. "I... You know what you mean to me, don't you?"
In all honesty, Sherlock does not know the depth of John's feelings for him, but there is one thing he knows, and it is the only thing that matters at the moment. "I'm your best friend."
John blinks in surprise, but then his gaze softens as his hand squeezes Sherlock's arm. "Yes, you are."
The cracks begin to show soon enough. Sherlock has limited experience of relationships, but he knows enough to know that John is not completely happy. His suspicion is confirmed one evening when he comes home from an afternoon in the lab to find John sitting in the darkness.
Sherlock pauses on the threshold. He has not been overly quiet, but John doesn't look up from his armchair. Sherlock can only just make out the lines of his face.
John swivels to face him, and tries for a smile, but it is a disturbing imitation of his usual smile. "Hi."
"It's nothing, really."
Sherlock can't help but notice the way John is fiddling with the ring finger of his left hand, rubbing the empty space where his wedding ring hasn't sat for a month.
Sherlock slips out of his coat and hangs it up, before taking his seat opposite John. The space between them feels like a gaping chasm. His eyes flick over John, searching for some answer to this sudden change of mood.
John is staring at the floor by the fireplace, withdrawn, impossible to predict.
"Mary was at work today."
John rubs his forehead, still looking at the floor. "She'd been for a scan. I heard her talking with some of the other nurses."
Sherlock leans back in his chair, pressing his hands together as he regards John. It's not difficult to guess what John is feeling, with it so clearly written across his face.
"You feel guilty. For abandoning her."
John makes an indeterminate noise. "It's ridiculous, I know, after... after what she did."
He gives Sherlock a hesitant glance.
"It's not ridiculous."
John shakes his head, returns his gaze to the floor.
"You still love her."
John frowns and scrubs a hand over his face, but Sherlock already knows the answer.
"I don't know," John finally says.
Sherlock has never in his life considered himself to be selfless, but his feelings for John continue to push him down unexpected paths. Silence falls upon them, but Sherlock is already considering what he might be prepared to give up to make John happy. It is no small surprise to realise that the answer is anything.
"Look at you," John whispers, smoothing his hand down Sherlock's bare chest. Sherlock shivers involuntarily, squeezing his eyes shut as emotion threatens to overwhelm him. He never thought he could be so moved by something so ordinary as physical intimacy, and they're still half-dressed.
"Sherlock." John's fingers caress his temple, winding into his hair. "Open your eyes."
Sherlock peels his eyes open to find John hovering over him, smiling softly.
"Are you alright?"
Not trusting himself to talk, he nods, and John smiles again, before leaning in for a kiss. John's lips slide over his in a caress that sends electricity through his body, and when John's tongue dips into Sherlock's mouth, Sherlock gasps, his hands reaching out of their own accord to grasp John's shoulders.
His body aches with desire, but he's afraid to push too far. He's still expecting John to change his mind any day.
John breaks the kiss, eyes dark and heavy-lidded.
"Sherlock," he breathes, and for a second he looks as lost as Sherlock feels. Sherlock traces his fingers hesitantly over John's scar and John's eyelids flutter. John's hand skims over Sherlock's side and comes to rest protectively over Sherlock's own scar.
It is clear to see the moment John's action leads him down a familiar path of dismay, confusion, hurt and guilt. His shoulders tense and his eyes find Sherlock's in the dim light, no longer hazy with lust but clouded with desperation.
"I'm fine," Sherlock says, loathe to make it worse but unable to keep quiet. "It really was a good shot. Missed most of the important bits."
"Don't," John says, and he gives a sigh as he rolls onto his back. "You don't need to make excuses for... her."
"Do I not?"
John turns to him with surprise, his brow creased into a frown. "What do you mean?"
"Never mind," Sherlock says dismissively. He wishes they could go back to kissing, instead of delving into the distinctly messy subject of John's wife.
John sighs again and runs a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry."
It's Sherlock's turn to be surprised. "What for?"
John turns towards him, reaching out to cup Sherlock's cheek. "You deserve so much more."
"I'll take whatever you'll give me." The words are out before he even realises what he has said, what he has revealed, and John's expression morphs into intense sadness.
Sherlock shakes his head slightly and John leans in to press their mouths together, a fine tremor in his movements. Sherlock wraps his arms tightly around John, returning his kiss with hunger. Words are far too dangerous, too powerful, and he wants to avoid them for a little while longer. He wants all he can get in the inevitably short time he has.
Sherlock doesn't dare look up from his microscope as he hears John's footsteps on the landing. He never knows what to expect, and it hurts just a little bit less if he forces John to make the first move. He has already shown enough weakness in this arena to know that he will never be able to pretend at indifference again, but he tries nonetheless, waiting for the day when John breaks his heart for good.
John comes to a stop at the open kitchen door and there is a thud as he drops something to the ground. A bag of some sort, heavy but not filled with anything that's particularly weighty on its own. Sherlock is too curious not to look.
It is John's old army rucksack, filled to the brim with clothes. Sherlock blinks, his heartbeat stuttering in his chest. It cannot mean what he thinks it means. He has only asked once, and John said he'd think about it, but that was over a week ago.
He finally raises his eyes to find John watching him with a half smile. "Got tired of squatting at Harry's."
"I see," Sherlock gets out a little awkwardly.
John steps over the bag into the kitchen, hesitating for just a moment before he moves closer. "Don't suppose you've got room?" he asks playfully.
"You know I do."
John smiles more widely, and closes the remaining space between them, one hand crossing the distance to rest on Sherlock's hip. His expression slides into something more muted as he raises his other hand to Sherlock's hair, burying his fingers in the curls. Sherlock's eyelids flutter at the sensation and John's lips curve knowingly, even as he draws Sherlock downwards with gentle pressure.
"You're too bloody tall," he murmurs just as their lips touch.
Sherlock slouches, lets John draw him in close, his hands clutching at John's jacket. He makes a helpless noise in his throat and John deepens their kiss, desperation leaking out with every touch, his hands trembling. Sherlock knows then that he saw Mary today, when he went back to the house for his things.
Sherlock eases himself away, schooling his expression. John doesn't seem to notice, passing a hand over Sherlock's shoulder. He looks behind Sherlock to the crowded table and raises an eyebrow. "I bet you haven't eaten all day."
"I don't need to eat," he says, falling into the grooves of an old, familiar argument.
"Yes, you do. Especially as you're still recovering."
John's fingers loop through his, an intimacy John is all too familiar with but which still makes Sherlock's heart pound. "Let's go out for dinner."
"Angelo's?" Sherlock suggests, sure of the answer.
John grins as Sherlock hops down from the stool, and as Sherlock turns towards the door, he halts him with a tug on their joined hands. Sherlock watches him expectantly, and stays still, mesmerised, as John reels him in once more.
John kisses him softly, hands cupping his jaw, and Sherlock lets himself fall apart in John's hands.
He's tired and everything hurts, but he can't bring himself to care because John is here.
"Want to lie down?"
He shakes his head, leaning just a little harder against John. John is solid and steady, an anchor to hold onto as pain threatens to carry him away. John skims a hand up his spine and rests it against Sherlock's nape. It makes the hairs on his arms stand on end, and magnifies every little detail a hundredfold: the rise and fall of John's chest by his ear, the rasp of calloused fingers against his sensitive skin, the sigh that John lets out as he turns his face into Sherlock's hair, his breath a shockingly intimate caress against Sherlock's scalp.
John shifts away briefly, but then returns, both arms wrapping around Sherlock's back. It's almost too much to bear, but Sherlock is too weak to stop himself from returning the loose embrace, arms slung around John's waist. He breathes deeply, taking in John's scent, then lets it out again as he sags against John's chest.
It feels like drowning, like suffocating, all the things he wants to say ringing in his ears, and it takes no small amount of effort to hold it all in. He can't let himself forget that John is not his anymore - John has a wife, dangerous as she is, and Sherlock has done all he can to make it okay for John to go back to her, to be happy with her. He can not delude himself into thinking that this closeness is anything more than John being a good friend, a good doctor.
John is shaking. It takes him too long to realise - brain still slow while the almost-useless painkillers get to work - and when he does, he can't parse its meaning. John's hands clench in Sherlock's dressing grown as he presses his face against Sherlock's hair, and now Sherlock is the one shaking. John's lips touch his forehead, his temple, and Sherlock is lost.
John sounds so broken, so desperate, and it summons up an answering brokenness in his own chest. He lets out a helpless noise against the soft skin of John's throat. The walls are all falling down as John touches his mouth to Sherlock's ear, then just at the corner of his mouth, and if Sherlock were in his right mind he'd stop this right now, even as he aches to crush John to him.
John's lips brush over Sherlock's in a whisper of a caress, and Sherlock's heart shatters.
He knows what he has to do to make it right. Although everything in him protests, he knows that he is the only one who can fix this the way John needs it to be fixed. He needed John to see what his wife really is, the threat she poses, but even now he isn't sure it was the right thing to do. Not when it makes John look like that.
It is a tense ride back to Baker Street in the back of a taxi, sitting on the seat opposite John and Mary - occupying the furthest ends of the bench seat, both of them silent. He casts a glance at John, stony-faced and forbidding, and then looks at Mary, her expression desperately sad as she looks out of the window.
All it takes is a seed, and he's already begun to plant his by calling Mary's act 'surgery'. John didn't take it in then, reeling from the shock of his wife's betrayal, but he'll remember it soon. From that little seed, Sherlock will cultivate a whole tree to tell the story of Mary Morstan, desperate assassin and worried wife. It is what John wants, although he does not know it now as his world falls down around him.
They go over a bump, almost jolting Sherlock from his perch, but he catches himself in time with a firm foot on the floor. He winces as the movement jostles his wound and presses a surreptitious hand to it as it throbs. He will need medical help soon, and he only hopes he can do all he needs to do before then. He will do anything to wipe that look from John's face.
John deserves this chance at a normal life - or slightly less than normal, but perfect for John. John is attracted to danger, and Sherlock is surprised he didn't see it earlier. Mary is made for John - they just neither of them realised why.
The taxi comes to a halt and Sherlock pays as John and Mary climb out and head for the door. They haven't spoken a word yet. Sherlock moves to open the door and lets them in in front of him, leaning heavily against the wall. He is starting to feel weak, but he forces himself to follow them upstairs. He must do this, for John.
Sherlock is so caught up in John, in the drama of his return and John's reaction, that at first he doesn't notice the woman. He registers her presence in the restaurant, her inane comments on his mortal status, but ultimately it is John that holds almost his complete attention.
John looks to have aged almost ten years in the two years that Sherlock has been gone. There are new lines around his eyes, his mouth; new grey hairs on his head; and a moustache that looks like an old man's. Sherlock wants nothing more than to drink in all the changes, but he barely has time before John's patience runs out and he's fighting for breath with John's hands wrapped around his neck.
Several half-stranglings and a punch to the face later, Sherlock is outside the kebab shop, holding a tissue to his bloody nose. John has stormed off, but the woman stays behind, and it's then that Sherlock really takes her in.
"I'll talk him round," she says confidently.
Sherlock lowers the tissue, watching her curiously. "You will?"
She nods slightly, smiling. "Oh, yeah."
Sherlock examines her a little more intently. Stupid, really, to assume that John would have remained alone all this time. John is not very good at being single, always looking out for the next companion, searching for a replacement for the adrenaline rush. This woman, Mary, is different though. Sherlock can pick out a hundred conclusions from her clothes and her face and the way she holds herself, but there's still a hint of mystery there. No wonder John's thinking of marrying her.
John calls to her and she moves away with a little smile as Sherlock presses the tissue back to his nose. The taxi pulls away and he sees Mary glance at him as they move off, but John keeps his eyes front, refusing to look in Sherlock's direction. It hurts more than it should, but Sherlock does not let himself dwell on it as he heads towards the road in search of his own taxi.
It is enough, for now, to know that John is alive and well because of Sherlock's efforts. Every other feeling brought to the surface after seeing John in the flesh after two years is forced into a spare room in his Mind Palace, contained behind a door that will - that must - remain closed. It is the only way he can live with the knowledge that he has succumbed to that most human of weaknesses, to sentiment in its basest form - to love.
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