Original Story Title: "Beginner's Studies"
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/146894
Original Story Pairings, if any: John/Lestrade/Sherlock
Original Story Rating: G
Original Story Warnings, if any: none
Remix Author: andrea_deer
Remix Story Title: "Relationships for Dummies"
Remix Story Pairings, if any: John/Lestrade/Sherlock
Remix Story Rating: PG-13
Remix Story Warnings, if any: none
Remix Story Beta: frayer
Remix Story Britpicker, if any: frayer
"Relationships for Dummies"
Don't hit people.
Fighting was second nature to Sherlock. He has never cared to be nice, if anything he tried to be honest, often painfully so. He felt his brain working fastest when it had an opponent, and that was really usually all that mattered to him. He also was not a very patient man and he certainly had problems with sharing: himself, his things, his people. It isn’t hard to end up in a fight with him, whether you want to or not.
Probably the only person who could keep up with Sherlock in a verbal sparring contest is Mycroft; and one of the most infuriating things about him is that he so rarely lets himself be dragged into them. When Mycroft could be drawn, he was more likely to pick at the holes in Sherlock's wording than at his arguments themselves. It wasn't even vaguely satisfying.
Fighting with Lestrade was... different. They fought all the time. Small swipes, short, cutting insults, shouting matches, but it always ended productively. He would suddenly know what was most important when he shouted it in Lestrade's face. It had been with Lestrade that he'd finally run out of arguments for his drug use, or rather run out of the ones that could work on the inspector. He had this fight many times with few different people and he kept on repeating: they help me while I’m on the case and they keep me sane between cases. Lestrade’s quiet, tense answer of ‘but you cannot have both them and the cases’ turned out to be a winning argument to Sherlock’s surprise.
And, on one memorable occasion, the shouting ended with sparkling tension between them, which had ended when Lestrade had put his hands on Sherlock's neck and dragged him down into a wet, forceful kiss. But that was far less shocking thanks to Sherlock’s still quite recent experiences.
Fighting with John was different- more personal; all to often, Sherlock went too far.
"Last time I checked you were my flatmate, not my nanny,” snapped Sherlock, his words sharp and painful. “If you honestly cannot handle living with me, I’d advise you to move out rather than try to train me. Believe it or not, I've had flatmates before you and I’m certain I can find some after you, you’re not irreplaceable, you know.”
John's face had suddenly gone completely still, which was a terrifying, unnatural thing. John's face was always so expressive; Sherlock hadn't known there were as many emotions as it could display every day; and now it was completely blank. John steadied himself, which seemed to be no small feat; the muscles in his arms tightening as he clenched his fists and drew himself straighter. He looked as though Sherlock had punched him.
John was completely still for too long before he nodded, looking as if he was swallowing something he wanted to say. He stared for a second longer, before walking stiffly out of the rooms, grabbing his jacket on the way, too angry and shaken to even call up to Sherlock that he needed some air, as he usually did following one of their spats.
His steps were loud and forceful on the stairs and for a moment Sherlock was still angry and not very sorry over the obvious, hurtful lie. John’s overprotection was becoming ridiculous and stifling since they'd left the hospital, and Sherlock just needed a little space to think and act, especially if he ever wanted to catch Moriarty. After another moment, Sherlock couldn't stand the thought of John going out and spending another angry night with Sarah. He jumped out of his chair and ran after John, managing to grab him by the arm as he left the building and tugging him back inside. He pressed him against the wall and kissed him- hoping it made his contrition obvious enough. John smiled slightly as they parted, apology obviously accepted.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Sherlock knew John went for coffee with Lestrade. He had registered the increase in conversations and smiles exchanged, he'd stumbled upon them as they ate lunch together at crime scenes, and watched them as they exchanged idle banter over their respective football teams' successes and failures. Using John's phone all the time, as he did, he had no problem with seeing the text exchange which ended in the place and timing of this meeting.
He sat far away enough to not be noticed, as he watched the two men he was involved with talked, smiled and touched. They seemed happy in each other's company- good for each other. He couldn't help wondering if they needed him in this at all. It was a rather bitter thought, but he had to admit, they seemed much better fit with each other than with him. Perhaps he was only pulling them together, a catalyst that would facilitate their reaction and then be left alone, as he was before, at the end of it. He wondered if they were talking about him, and what would it mean if they were.
He sat too far away, and the place was too crowded for him to read their lips. Sherlock was instead left to just sit and wonder, without any proper data, just what he was missing.
Finally, he watched them stand up to leave, talk for few short moments, before they exchanged a short, chaste kiss and headed off in their separate directions. Lestrade to his car and back to the office, John to the bus stop, trying to save the money again. Sherlock’s phone vibrated on the surface of the table.
They agreed to meet at Lestrade's place on Friday evening to watch a football game. I was no more able than you to determine their conversation prior to that. MH.
Keep your big nose out of it, especially if you've nothing useful to contribute. SH.
He left his hiding place, and hailed down taxi, over paying hideously so he could be sure to be home before John. He wondered if he could change the rules of their relationship to forbid sleeping with the same person as the other one. He remembered the quiet laughs his lovers had exchanged, and strongly doubted it. He should have thought about that earlier.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Lestrade was reliable. Responsible. Strong. Moral. Protective. Captivating. He had raspy voice and strong, wide arms. When he smiled he looked ten years younger and vaguely ridiculous. When it happened on a crime scene Sherlock often rolled his eyes, amused and frustrated as he watched the gravitas of the DI plummet, and his people smile back. When Lestrade did it at home, and his eyes caught Sherlock's, he always had to fight back the urge to smile back, though he often glared or scowled instead. When Lestrade looked to John, he'd automatically respond with a smile of his own- always the charmer. A warm, comforting, protecting, bright eyed, quick to smile and light touching charmer.
Their eyes would meet, the smiles dancing on their mouth, one would look away for a fracture of second, before catching the other’s gaze again and they smile in understanding. Within moments they'd be exchanging lazy, warm kisses. Hands barely touching the other, eyelids drooped, tongues moving lazily. Sherlock would watch them and smile softly.
Having them both was indulgent. Distracting. He was captivated by watching them, he was addicted to their touches and soft words whispered against his skin. How could it not weaken his focus? And if he worked himself too hard, pushed himself till he ached and had nothing to spare, there was always someone to catch him and make sure he was safe. Perhaps that made him stronger than ever. Sometimes, when work was exceptionally frustrating and peace long forgotten, perhaps those were only the excuses for his indulgence.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
When his phone vibrated the first time, Sherlock was just ducking behind a gravestone, trying to ascertain whether the suspect had a gun. Quite understandably, he barely noticed.
By the time he was back on a train to London, he found he had nineteen missed calls on his phone. He noticed them whilst he was checking the time he'd arrive back in London, but ignored them all. Two were from Mycroft and he was never worth calling back, seventeen were from Lestrade and he was going to see him soon enough anyway. If there had been any real emergency he'd also have missed calls from John after all, in Portsmouth visiting family or not.
He was rather out of sorts, disappointed the case that turned out to be so dull, and exhausted after solving it, his adrenaline levels subsiding, reminding him it had been two days since he had last eaten. He planned to order some take-away and then spend some time looking at the effect of multiple freeze-thaw cycles on the fingerprints of the fingertips he'd filched from the morgue. A nice, quiet evening to make up for an unproductive day, he thought to himself, unconvinced.
"Evening," he said to Lestrade, who was standing stiffly by the desk. Sherlock frowned when he received no answer, and absentmindedly noted the tightening of his lips and the nervously clenching and unclenching of his fists as Lestrade's gaze bore into him.
"Where were you?" Lestrade asked, biting back the words. Angry, yes, but more shaken than anger alone would entail.
"Out," he answered simply, deciding it was best to keep things simple when Lestrade was in this kind of mood.
Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work this time. Lestrade was not only angry, but he actually seemed to almost shake with worry, which could only fuel Sherlock’s irritation. This kind of conversation belonged between overprotective mothers and their children, not fully grown men! It was ridiculous. He could understand their reaction to the incident with the pig's blood – the sight of blood spoke to the most basic of instincts in humans brains. Even Sherlock didn't really expect his lovers to overcome this, though he was sure he'd made it very obvious it wasn't his blood.
This time the argument was not only tiring, but also incredibly pointless and Sherlock just looked for any opportunity to end it without agreeing to any ridiculous terms Lestrade might propose.
"I can't interrupt my work every time one of you wants to ask me to pick some milk up at the store. Which you ought to know by now I won't do, anyway, so one would think you'd stop asking."
Lestrade sighed and Sherlock noted the shift in the conversation. They weren't quibbling about past behavior, they were arguing about how not to cause such absurd scenes in the future. It was... good. Productive. And, Sherlock noticed, it meant the assumption they'd both be there together to witness them.
"A note, then... something. You don't need to check in constantly; just let us know you won't be checking in, all right?"
"I'll consider it," Sherlock agreed, noncommittally.
"You do that," Lestrade said. "And in the meantime, get over here, damn you. I've not had a very good day."
Lestrade tugged Sherlock into an embrace, pressing his face against Sherlock's neck and puffing warm air against the naked skin there. His arms were strong around Sherlock, making him sigh quietly. He rested his own hands on Lestrade's hips, and after another long moment, Sherlock rested his chin lightly against Lestrade's soft, gray hair. He still found the whole situation completely ridiculous, but the aftermath did feel rather nice.
And if the next day Lestrade woke up in an empty bed with a note "I'm in the kitchen. Try not to panic. SH." he really had no one to blame but himself.
Take a nap every afternoon.
The evening progressed into the night, the film they weren't really watching on the telly came to its end, the leftovers of their Chinese take-away were long cold and all the conversation had died out to occasional murmurs and humming sounds.
Lestrade was first to head to bed, clearly tired and faced with the prospect of getting up earlier than the others the next morning. He kissed John softly and joined his hand in stroking Sherlock's hair for a few moments, before he quietly left for the bedroom. John lasted until the end of the next show, though he was yawning more and more as it drew to a close. He turned the telly off at first sight of the end credits and looked down at Sherlock's head, pillowed in his lap.
"You're staying up?" he asked quietly, distracting Sherlock from his typing.
He hummed a confirmation and with last soft stroke of his temple, John slid from underneath him and left for the bed. Sherlock finished writing his article about what could be deduced from the effects of the oral digestive enzymes and saliva composition on chewing gum, wondering if he should get John to add his narrative flair the case study that he added at the end. The flat was quiet around him once he turned his laptop off. He paused outside the bedroom and listened to the breathing of the men in his bed, the soft sounds of bedsprings and covers as one of them shifted, light snoring from Lestrade. Sherlock slowly crept into the room, trying not to disturb either man, quickly undressed and slid into the bed next to John.
He wasn't sleepy, actually, but he wasn't restless either. He lay in bed thinking and mulling over exactly what he'd gotten himself into here. Usually he didn't bother asking those types of questions- he wanted John and Lestrade and he had them. And it was good. Sometimes, though, he was just amazed by them. How two such ordinary men could be so extraordinary, and how such extraordinary men could be so deathly dull sometimes? There were thousands of little things, contradictions, that went towards making them unique. Sometimes Sherlock wanted to figure them all out- to catalogue and analyse them all; to see what was left when he discounted all the tiny little acts that kept surprising him. He wondered if he’d ever be able to finish, and if it would be worth it when he was done.
John made a muffled sound into his pillow and scratched his legs, clearly on the verge of waking up. Sherlock stilled his breath so as not to push him in either direction. Soon though he heard a little sigh and John turned in his direction, looking sleepy and disheveled; confused, warm and soft with sleep.
"Did I wake you?" he asked muzzily, not bothering with asking why was Sherlock awake, but only if he was the one to blame. Amazing.
"No," answered Sherlock softly and simply, knowing John was not awake enough to appreciate any reasoning or long, only half serious, explanations of why actually he was keeping Sherlock awake.
"Pass me the water," John demanded, and Sherlock did, noticing how slowly John was losing most of his sleepy confusion, but how far he was from complete wakefulness.
It was just one of those things about John. Woken up by shouting, calls to crime scenes or gun fire, he was up within seconds: focused, sharp and deadly. Woken by his dry throat to the warmth of his lovers' bodies and Sherlock's gaze, he was barely aware of his surroundings. Soft and loose with the comfort of home and safety.
He handed Sherlock the glass back, barely paying enough attention to not spill the rest of the water. He nestled back into a comfortable position before he spoke again.
"What're you doing up then?"
Sherlock thought about that for a moment.
"I need to understand."
"You. Him." Sherlock responded, still trying to keep it simple, not only because of John's sleepy brain, but because it somehow wasn't the topic for big words, especially not in the warm darkness of their bedroom. He indicated the wide bed with the three of them snugged into it. "This."
"Why?" murmured John as if the most basic reason to wanting to understand something wasn't painfully obvious.
"Because I don't yet."
"Don't what?" he responded, slowly, proving he was still too sleepy for this conversation. “Oh, don't understand. Sorry, I'm still half-asleep."
Sherlock stayed silent, focusing on John's breathing and his own buzzing thoughts instead of stating the obvious.
"No, wait, that doesn't make any sense," John said suddenly, his eyes snapping open again. "You're not a sociologist, and your interest in psychology is so specialized as to be almost non-existent."
"True," agreed Sherlock softly, "but irrelevant. I study what interests me."
"Oh," breathed John and Sherlock could barely see his expression, but he could detect the affectionate smile nonetheless. He let John take his hand, thumb moving slowly over his skin. "Fair enough. Still, study and analysis aren't necessarily synonymous. You can enjoy something without understanding it." Sherlock opened his mouth, wanting to protest, but John smiled suddenly. "Just think of us as a solar system in miniature."
The consulting detective barely held in a snort at John's ridiculousness.
"You're babbling," he stated, "Go to sleep."
He softened his words with a slow kiss to John's mouth as he watched the other man slide back into sleep. He didn't join him for another couple of hours, even though he recognized the truth in John's words. He probably wouldn't ever fully understand, but hadn't stopped them from enjoying each other so far.
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