Actions

Work Header

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Chapter Text

Sender: (no name) +1310654361
Received: 01:38:27
01-11-2013
I just left this chick's house, she had some funky poster of your queen on the wall in her bedroom and there were bullet holes in the eyes. Her name’s Macy. Or Missy. Ring a bell?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 01:38:57
01-11-2013
It's Dean.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 01:39:07
01-11-2013
Winchester


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:39:35
10-31-2013
This is the stupidest text message I have ever received. SH


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 01:40:40
01-11-2013
Sorry to bother you


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:41:20
10-31-2013
I forgot you need me to spell everything out. I meant that it was completely unnecessary to clarify you were the sender of the text. The international code alone was enough. Adding your surname was the epitome of adding insult to injury. SH


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 01:42:01
01-11-2013
Alright smartass


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 01:42:25
01-11-2013
SH? Seriously?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:43:10
10-31-2013
Habit. May I suggest waiting for twenty seconds before pressing 'send'? It might seem hard to believe, but you ARE capable of having more than one thought at a time.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 01:45:10
01-11-2013
What, you sign all your messages with your initials? And haha! Got unlimited text messages


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:47:20
10-31-2013
How fortunate for all of us.


Sender: Dean
Received: 01:48:04
01-11-2013
Dick. Won’t be hearing from me then

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:28:20
02-11-2013
Sam told me it was the middle of the night for you when I texted you before. Sorry


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:28:47
02-11-2013
P.S. You're still a dick


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:39:35
11-02-2013
I thought I wasn’t going to be hearing from you.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:40:19
02-11-2013
Excuse me for trying to be polite. And you won’t


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:41:01
02-11-2013
Actually screw you. Just realized I sent you three messages just now and apologized in two. I’m not!


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:41:22
02-11-2013
Sorry


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:41:55
02-11-2013
I meant I’m not sorry! I fucking hate this. So fucking stupid


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:42:35
11-02-2013
Of course you do. It goes against your very nature.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:43:45
02-11-2013
What do you mean against my nature? You trying to say I can’t write? My phone didn’t have the word ‘fucking’ in the dictionary, can you believe that? I had to add it myself. The phone’s stupid too


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:44:19
11-02-2013
Ah. Mobile phones and their prudish ways. Obviously not adapted to the wonder that is Dean Winchester’s vocabulary.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:44:47
02-11-2013
Sarcastic dick


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:45:05
11-02-2013
Just giving more credence to the statement in my previous message.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:45:48
02-11-2013
You’re one fucking smartass, you know that? Check it out, predictive text wrote that without a hitch!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:46:15
11-02-2013
That should conclude your attempts to contribute to the world of advanced technologies.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:46:40
02-11-2013
Damn right about that. All that techy stuff is for geeks like my little brother.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:47:06
02-11-2013
And you. I’ll be over there at the cool kids table


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:47:30
11-02-2013
Self-deception is the grandest kind.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:52:20
02-11-2013
Is your brother really gay?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:52:52
11-02-2013
I can see that like the rest of humanity the lack of face to face interaction greatly lowers your inhibitions. I didn’t think that possible. I stand corrected.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:53:29
02-11-2013
I was going to ask you back then, but we were kind of busy you might have noticed. Come on, man


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:54:05
11-02-2013
Full stops haven’t been prohibited by law, you know.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:54:31
02-11-2013
You’re not answering the question


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:54:41
11-02-2013
Am I so transparent?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:55:11
02-11-2013
I repeat, sarcastic dick. Is it because it’s your brother and you’re being all discreet and shit?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:55:51
02-11-2013
Sam said it’s because of that.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:56:25
11-02-2013
How did you survive those months without your brother holding your hand and explaining human interaction to you?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:56:54
02-11-2013
I was awesome. How did you without John doing the same for you?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:58:20
02-11-2013
Are you gay?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:59:22
11-02-2013
I had some hope that at least those with the weight of Heaven and Hell on their shoulders would have less time to concern themselves with trivial matters. Clearly I was wrong.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 16:59:59
02-11-2013
Dude, sex is NOT a trivial matter


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 12:00:25
11-02-2013
Then why do you treat it as such?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 17:00:53
02-11-2013
Oh what, you’re back to being Doctor Freud now? My sex life is none of your business


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 12:01:10
11-02-2013
I’ll just let that last sentence sink in.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 17:01:24
02-11-2013
Fuck you!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 12:01:45
11-02-2013
In the context of this conversation I’m not sure how to respond to that.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 17:02:20
02-11-2013
Don’t respond, I don’t give a fuck about your response

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 23:58:40
11-05-2013
Is there a supernatural creature that eats just the bones of their victim?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 23:59:39
11-05-2013
If yes, would a hunter burn the creature and the victim’s body to cover the incident? If yes to either or both, have your brother send me data. If no, be short, I’m working.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 06:22:20
06-11-2013
Screw you, we’re working too. You wanna know things you call me


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:22:35
11-06-2013
I prefer to text.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 06:23:20
06-11-2013
No kidding


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:23:58
11-06-2013
The creature might still be at large.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:25:40
11-06-2013
A potentially innocent woman might go to prison. You’d probably find her very attractive.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:27:51
11-06-2013
Please?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:28:49
11-06-2013
My messages are being delivered. If you’re ignoring me, that’s childish.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:29:58
11-06-2013
Fine.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:31:45
11-06-2013
John’s calls to Sam are going straight to voicemail. He is tediously distracted worrying and I need him to focus. Tell your brother to switch on his phone or buy a new one and call John back.


Missed calls: (2) Sherlock
11-06-2013 00:32:33


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:35:49
11-06-2013
Why isn’t your GPS on?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:49:45
11-06-2013
Good that one of you finally deigned to make use of your phone.


Received call: Dean (US)
Call duration: 00:04:12
06-11-2013 06:51:20


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:39:20
06-11-2013
So? Was it the hot long lost aunt?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:40:20
11-06-2013
Yes. Her husband helped. Illegal bone marrow transplant gone wrong. Guy Fawkes Night was just a convenient coincidence. Why aren’t you sleeping?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 07:40:50
06-11-2013
Adrenaline. And man, that’s one creepy holiday.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 07:41:20
11-06-2013
Wish we’d stayed longer, could’ve burned a dummy to a crisp in your back garden


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:41:49
11-06-2013
Mrs Hudson doesn’t allow any fire hazards in our back garden anymore.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:42:05
11-06-2013
Don’t you burn enough bodies at night as it is?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 07:42:39
06-11-2013
Our dummy would’ve been dressed like you


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:43:15
11-06-2013
I have no items of clothing to spare for your entertainment.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 07:43:35
06-11-2013
Good thing I still got your suit jacket


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:44:38
11-06-2013
You do?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 07:44:50
06-11-2013
Yeah, I do


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 07:45:19
06-11-2013
Crashing now see you on the flip side


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:45:59
11-06-2013
Goodnight.

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:15:30
08-11-2013
Looks like they finally figured you’re not pushing up the daises.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:16:00
11-08-2013
Yes.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:16:25
08-11-2013
Should’ve gotten your autograph while I was there


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:16:50
11-08-2013
You can always sell my jacket on eBay.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:17:19
08-11-2013
Nah, I’m keeping it for when I might need it


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:17:34
11-08-2013
Your last sentence is nonsensical.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:18:06
08-11-2013
You’re nonsensical. Enjoying being famous?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:18:15
11-08-2013
Very much.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:18:30
08-11-2013
That bad huh? I’d fucking hate it too. Some years back we made it to the news and it sucked. I’m a damn hunter, last thing I needed was for everyone to know my face.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:19:50
08-11-2013
Hello? Fallen asleep?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:20:05
11-08-2013
No. Sometimes you say things that are not entirely void of sense.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:20:45
08-11-2013
Dude, did I just render you speechless? Gotta remember how I did that


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:21:01
08-11-2013
What’s your email address?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:21:11
11-08-2013
consulting_detective@gmail.com


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:21:30
08-11-2013
Are you serious?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:21:59
11-08-2013
Yes. Please refrain from sending me any videos of dogs wearing sunglasses, cats playing the piano or anything you find amusing. I’ll have your emails go straight to spam.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:22:30
08-11-2013
Sorry, no can do. Sending one right now


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:22:57
11-08-2013
I believe the American expression is ‘Oh, goodie!’


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 07:23:20
08-11-2013
Bite me. Check your email.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 01:23:29
11-08-2013
In which order?



From: James JY Young
supernatural_hunter@gmail.com

To: Sherlock Holmes
consulting_detective@gmail.com

[conversation]

1:23 AM James JY Young

Subject: Why wasn’t I shown that hat?
Attachments: hatman_robin.jpg

hatman_robin
[hatman_robin.jpg]

Dude, I laughed for like a million years.

--

7:26 AM Sherlock Holmes

I’m glad you’ve joined the crowd of people entertained at my expense.

SH

P.S. Are you feeling sentimental? Why can’t I find any photos of you? I thought you said you were on the news.

--

1:32 AM James JY Young
Attachments: FBI_wanted.jpg; St Louis.jpg

FBI wanted
[FBI_wanted.jpg]

st.louis
[St.Louis.jpg]


Okay, grumpy. I know you’re pissed that they’re camping outside. Just remember it’ll blow over in a day. They’ll forget about you and you’ll be free to go around freaking people out and having tea in the morgue.

There’s this whizz kid Charlie, she removed our ‘digital print’ from the internet, cuz like I told you I wanted to do my goddamn job, not look over my shoulder all the time. We actually met Charlie again last week! It was awesome, we did some LARPing and she made out with a hot lesbian fairy. Good times. Sammy brightened up a little at last.

I'd saved some of my mug shots, attaching them here. Don’t want you thinking I’m making shit up. I call the one in the middle “the blue steel”.

Why exactly am I feeling sentimental? Do you even know what sentimental means?

--

7:35 AM James JY Young
Attachments: The Queen of Moons and a handmaiden.jpg

The Queen of Moons and a handmaiden
[The Queen of Moons and a handmaiden]

Check it out, I just found out someone took a picture of Charlie and me and uploaded it on the LARPing website. I couldn’t find a good one where I was dressed for battle, but this one's pretty cool too.

--

1:45 AM Sherlock Holmes

I can see why your brother had no problem putting up with John. He was accustomed to being swamped with pointless trivia from young age. I’ll have to constantly delete things after I speak to you.

“Why exactly am I feeling sentimental?”

You obviously created a new email account five minutes ago in a childish attempt to mirror the name of my own. You are somewhat technically challenged so the speed with which you signed up suggests you didn’t spend long choosing a name. A quick search revealed that James JY Young is the lead singer of the band Styx. Their Wikipedia page told me that one of their biggest hits was a song called ‘Renegade’, which was the song you played here on the afternoon when you tried to scare off everyone in the radius of half a mile. Your aliases are a string of names associated with famous classic rock performers, yet you chose a relatively unpopular one. In addition you are talking to me. A connection presented itself. Since the choice of name didn’t have any rational foundation, it had to be an irrational one. The rest was speculative, of course, but so is everything that doesn’t have logic behind it.

As to your question about whether I know what sentimental means, the answer is that a year and a half ago I didn’t.

Thanks for the pictures. Good to see you’re filling your time with worthwhile pursuits. I see you have your customary expression of enlightenment on the one with Charlie. I wonder—didn’t your ‘job title’ present a challenge to your masculinity? By the way, send Charlie flowers. She has done you a favour by removing “the Blue Steel” from the web. As to the other picture, I didn’t realize fame found you when you were fifteen.

SH

--

7:53 AM Dean Winchester

Alright, first of all, don’t judge. Don’t get me started on what you call worthwhile pursuits.

Also don’t try your deduction thing on me, you’re imagining things. And I told you before, don’t hate on my looks and my charm, envy is a bad colour on you. And I’m not technically challenged!

I’ll have to constantly delete things after I speak to you.

Didn’t delete Renegade. Who’s sentimental now?

--

7:55 AM Dean Winchester

I don’t need to be butch all the time, I'm totally secure in my sexuality.

--

1:55 AM Sherlock Holmes

You just changed your fake name to your real one. I believe that answers your question.

SH

--

1:56 AM Sherlock Holmes

"I don’t need to be butch all the time, I'm totally secure in my sexuality."

That was not what I asked.

SH

--

8:05 AM Dean Winchester

You’re a fucking smartass, you know that?

Sammy’s awake and we gotta hit the road. Try to stay your normal level of crazy and don’t shoot the walls.

DW

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:50:00
11-10-2013
How do you flirt?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:50:58
10-11-2013
Me, like ME, or you want to sign up for a course?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:51:26
10-11-2013
Who do you want to flirt with, you dog?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:52:20
11-10-2013
Actually, not important. Forget about it.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:52:49
10-11-2013
Yeah, cuz that’s going to happen. Come on. What do you want to know?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:53:42
10-11-2013
Come on, man. Talk to me.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:53:59
11-10-2013
You.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:54:30
11-10-2013
I meant, how do YOU flirt with people.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:55:02
10-11-2013
Oh, good. For a moment there I thought you meant something else.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:55:12
11-10-2013
No.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:55:37
10-11-2013
Yeah, no, I got that.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:56:38
11-10-2013
Well?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 01:57:42
10-11-2013
Actually, we’re kind of in the middle of something. Let me get back to you on that, alright?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:58:08
11-10-2013
As I said, not important.

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:03:52
19-11-2013
More crazy reporters, huh? Dude, you gotta stop hiding your face when people are taking pictures of you. Let them see those cheekbones!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:04:01
11-19-2013
Are you drunk?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:04:26
19-11-2013
Are you going to be a dick?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:04:59
11-19-2013
If finding your jokes about my face tasteless makes me ‘a dick’, then yes, I am going to be one.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:05:49
19-11-2013
Jeez, don’t bite my head off! And it wasn’t a joke, you DICK! See if I ever pay you a compliment again


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:06:08
11-19-2013
Oh, I wonder how I’ll survive. I’ve grown so used to them.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:06:52
19-11-2013
Oh, fuck off! Want me to fall over myself paying you compliments all the time? Not gonna happen


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:07:24
11-19-2013
Thank God for small mercies. Flattery is for imbeciles. People are stupid and their opinions have no importance to me.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:08:02
19-11-2013
I was so damn right to give you that nickname. Ray of fucking sunshine!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:08:39
11-19-2013
Ah. I have failed to meet your standards for entertaining company. Hardly a surprise. I don’t have breasts and/or about two brain cells.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:09:22
19-11-2013
God I hate you so much you rude snarky son of a bitch


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:09:39
11-19-2013
The punctuation key on your phone has been broken, I see.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 16:46:02
19-11-2013
Email.


From: Dean Winchester
supernatural_hunter@gmail.com

To: Sherlock Holmes
consulting_detective@gmail.com

[conversation] Nov 19

22:45 Dean Winchester
Sammy tells me John’s ready to throw himself off a cliff after being in a kind of a lockdown with you in the house. You been climbing the walls?


16: 49 Sherlock Holmes
I’ve been cooped up in here for two days, because everywhere I go I’m being mobbed by the press. For what? A sordid little case that happened to involve a politician. Let me guess. You found out about it through the naked prostitute’s pictures.


22:52 Dean Winchester
What’s the big deal? Lay low for a couple of days. Put some music on, watch some porn. Chill out, man.


16:56 Sherlock Holmes
There is time for music and this isn’t it. As for ‘chilling out’, not a good idea. If I do what I used to, it will likely get me arrested. I prefer to investigate criminals not join them, although currently the idea is holding some appeal.

It’ll also upset John. Then again he is being insufferable…


22:57 Dean Winchester
Whoa. Come again? Do I want to know?

You didn’t say anything about watching porn.


16: 59 Sherlock Holmes
It doesn’t matter. It was in the past.

That is because there is nothing to say.


23:01 Dean Winchester
Alright, not the kind of talk to have over email.

Come on, dude. Everyone watches porn.


17:02 Sherlock Holmes
Clearly your judgement was just clouded by your fascination with sex.


23:03 Dean Winchester
Where do you come up with this stuff? I don’t have a fascination with sex!


17:04 Sherlock Holmes
Then how do you explain the fact that drugs made it to your list of topics that are not appropriate to be discussed via email and sex didn’t?


17:05 Sherlock Holmes
I can picture you stammering right now.


23:06 Dean Winchester
How nice. You picture me often?


23:08 Dean Winchester
I still don’t get what's the problem. Take a break, you probably need one. Actually, scratch that. You’re living the life of a freaking monk, man! You’re not drinking, you’re not getting any action—you DEFINITELY need a break.


17:11 Sherlock Holmes
Last night I finished the last of the bottle of whiskey you left behind. It didn’t help with the boredom and it only added some unwanted side effects.

I don’t need a break—I need to work! My brain needs to be occupied! I can’t switch off, I’m going crazy and I am bored, bored, bored. Yet John’s the one complaining!


23:15 Dean Winchester
Got it. Sorry, man. Seriously.

What side effects? Spill! Did you go around the apartment dancing naked and slobbering all over the furniture and John?


17:17 Sherlock Holmes
Do you even think before typing?


23:18 Dean Winchester
Said the man who has no filter on his mouth.


17:25 Sherlock Holmes
Touché.

I almost wish you were here. For all the absurdity of the supernatural, at least it didn’t render me comatose with boredom. Plus Sam could have distracted John—he’s becoming really annoying.


23:28 Dean Winchester
I bet 20 bucks John will be ready to kill you by tomorrow night.

It would have been fun to be over there actually. For like a day though, I don’t have John’s patience. I’d put you over my knee or throw you out of the window in like an hour.


17:33 Sherlock Holmes
I bet 20 bucks John will be ready to kill you by tomorrow night.
I hope he does. At least I wouldn’t have to suffer through the ensuing further publicity.

It would have been fun to be over there actually. For like a day though, I don’t have John’s patience. I’d put you over my knee or throw you out of the window in like an hour.
Your fear of flying is to blame. And please. You can overpower me only in your fantasy. I’m your equal. I mean physically—just so there is no confusion.


23:36 Dean Winchester
Just when I think you’re funny and you turn to your arrogant, snarky self again. Just FYI, I can totally make you my bitch.

And I don’t have fear of flying! I just hate it, that's all!


17:39 Sherlock Holmes
Interesting. Denial seems to play an integral part in your modus operandi. Try not to be predictable by saying “No, it doesn’t.” On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn't discourage you. Evidence is hard to obtain in matters of psychology and this would be perfect. Not to mention ironic.


23:42 Dean Winchester
I don’t even know what to say to any of that.


17:44 Sherlock Holmes
There is something refreshing in the unpretentious simplicity of your honesty.


23:47 Dean Winchester
Oh well, thanks. Let me just print that. The only compliment YOU’ve paid me and it’s so awesome I want to have it for keeps.

By the way, you don’t have fear of flying.


17:50 Sherlock Holmes
Was that an invitation?


23:52 Dean Winchester
What was it again…Oh yeah. Make of that what you will.


17:53 Sherlock Holmes
You’re quoting Mycroft. This conversation is over.


Sender: John Watson
Received: 00:24:31
11-19-2013
I don’t know what you did, but thank you. JW


Sender: Dean
Received: 18:25:09
19-11-2013
Dude, not you too with the initials thing. It’s lame. You’re welcome

 

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean
Received: 15:00:09
21-11-2013
I’m going through your website.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:25:09
11-21-2013
What do you think?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:26:49
21-11-2013
Man, you’re rude! Why do people still have the hots for you, what the hell? Oh, were those hidden messages from Moriarty? Was he the stalker trying to get your attention?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:27:03
11-21-2013
I see that just like everybody else you have also focused on the important things. That’s why I took down my monograph on tobacco ash. And yes. It was him.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:27:49
21-11-2013
It pains me to say it but that monograph sounds like the kind of thing my geek little brother would be all over. So, John was right—that bastard did give you clues. Definitely obsessed with you. Oh, and the kisses at the end?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:27:59
11-21-2013
What about them?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:28:27
21-11-2013
Nothing, just raising my eyebrows a little here


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:28:56
21-11-2013
Did you ever write back to him?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:29:14
11-21-2013
I sent him a message, yes.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:29:39
21-11-2013
Jeez, it’s like pulling teeth. Don’t tell me then.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:30:11
11-21-2013
It was on the day of my ‘suicide’. I sent him a message to invite him to Barts. To the rooftop.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:30:49
21-11-2013
And how many x’s did you sign your message with?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:30:58
11-21-2013
None.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:31:39
21-11-2013
Alright, you gotta tell me now: was he into you? Did you have your one night of rabid hate-sex?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:32:02
11-21-2013
You are like a dog with a bone, aren’t you?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:32:33
21-11-2013
That’s cuz I can never get anything out of you. Come on, man. It’s like talking to a wall!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:33:20
11-21-2013
Fine. I’ll answer a question if you answer one in return.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:33:13
21-11-2013
Deal. Did you two ever do the nasty?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:33:29
11-21-2013
If you are asking if we ever had sex, the answer is no. Why do you want to know?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:34:11
21-11-2013
Just curious. He always seemed gay for you, so I saw the website and I wondered again. Now that we got to the point: are you gay?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:35:00
11-21-2013
I don’t know. Why do you ask?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:35:19
21-11-2013
That’s not playing fair.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:35:45
11-21-2013
I told you the truth. And you didn’t answer my question.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:36:06
21-11-2013
How can you not know?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:36:29
11-21-2013
That’s a different question.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:37:02
21-11-2013
Fine. Again, I’m just curious


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:37:39
11-21-2013
Sexuality has never really played a part in my life.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:38:59
21-11-2013
Ever? How is that possible? Haven’t you…you know? I mean, you see someone, something happens downstairs. Don’t make me say it!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:39:26
11-21-2013
Not for me. I don’t feel sexual attraction in general.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:39:58
21-11-2013
What like never? Not once?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:40:35
11-21-2013
I recently discovered the term ‘Gray-A’. I believe it may be applicable to me.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:43:40
21-11-2013
I’ll be damned.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:43:55
11-21-2013
Knowing your personal history, you already were.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:44:49
21-11-2013
Hey, that was below the belt! Not my fault shit happens to me


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:46:13
11-21-2013
Are you refraining yourself from offering your apologies or asking me if I’d seen a doctor?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:48:09
21-11-2013
Actually, I was reading up on Gray-A. And honestly? Yeah, a little. I don’t know, man. I mean, sex can be awesome, so I kind of do feel sorry you don’t get to experience that


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:49:15
11-21-2013
You and John should have spent more time together. It’s a blessing for me. My work comes first. It means my brain is focused only on what’s important. I don’t appreciate any distractions, especially emotions.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:50:12
21-11-2013
I’m sure I’m gonna regret saying that, but you don’t have to be all touchy-feely to have great sex. Or any sex at all


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:50:09
11-21-2013
All research suggests that experience of sexual pleasure is heightened considerably when the partner is someone with whom the person shares a connection. As much as I distrust sentiment, it’s obvious that that has to be the case. How can one be attracted in any way to an anonymous body? Or to someone unbelievably dull?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:53:04
21-11-2013
Man, that is so not a problem. What can say, I’m shallow. I like looking at pictures of naked ladies and let me tell you, by looking I don’t mean at their faces. But I get your point. Best sex I ever had was always with someone special. Alright, this conversation just got way too romcom for me so how about this—maybe you’re demi-sexual?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:53:49
11-21-2013
You’ve advanced in your reading. Yes, possibly. It is hard to know when there isn’t enough empirical data.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:54:19
21-11-2013
Hold on. ‘Enough’ means that there’s some.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:54:54
11-21-2013
You owe me at least five answers.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:55:22
21-11-2013
Alright, shoot, but then we’re coming back to this. Don’t think I’ll forget, smartass


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:55:59
11-21-2013
I have only one question. Why do you ask me any of that?


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:56:33
21-11-2013
I already told you. I’m curious


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:57:09
11-21-2013
That was an answer to a different question. Go back through your messages.


Sender: Dean
Received: 15:59:17
21-11-2013
Alright, third degree! I got it. Honestly? I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to know what to make of you. I mean you’re crazy, I get that. Your noodle’s alright I’ll give you that. But like, what else? Seriously, dude, have you met yourself? Of course I’m curious!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:00:19
11-21-2013
There are other questions you could be asking me.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:02:42
21-11-2013
You said so yourself, I’m obsessed with sex, right?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:03:13
11-21-2013
Right.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:03:29
21-11-2013
What?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:03:53
11-21-2013
What do you mean?


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:04:45
21-11-2013
I can tell something got your panties in a bunch. Come on, what is it?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:05:15
11-21-2013
You can tell that from one word? I’m impressed.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:05:54
21-11-2013
You’re an evasive son of a bitch, you know that?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:06:52
11-21-2013
Dean, your obliviousness is extremely hard to tolerate sometimes.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:07:59
21-11-2013
What the hell, man? I don’t get it! If I don’t get it how am I supposed to know how to fix it? Dick move by the way, calling me stupid.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:09:39
21-11-2013
So what, you’re not gonna talk to me anymore?


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:11:58
21-11-2013
Okay, I have one more question for you, just one. Why did you tell me any of that? Like, to me? Don’t say because I asked because I'd bet my car I’m not the first to ask and something tells me you don’t go all Oprah on everyone. So why tell me?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:12:50
11-21-2013
Because you asked.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:13:57
21-11-2013
You know what, suit yourself. I give up

 

Chapter Text

 

From: Dean Winchester
supernatural_hunter@gmail.com

To: Sherlock Holmes
consulting_detective@gmail.com

[conversation] Nov 24

23:45 Dean Winchester

Hey,

Alright, I’m not very good with this kind of whatever it is so I’m just going to say it—I’m sorry. I don’t know what for, but whatever it is, whatever I said the other night, I’m sorry, ok? I don’t care if it was my fault or not. Doesn’t matter. Stuff happened today and got me thinking about you, so I just, I wanted to say I hope we’re ok.

Hope you finally left the house.

Dean


06:00 Sherlock Holmes

No apology necessary. Perhaps I should be the one to apologize, although I am not entirely certain about what, so I suppose we are on equal footing.

What's wrong?

SH


00:05 Dean Winchester

Good.

Rough day.


06:07 Sherlock Holmes

Care to elaborate?


00:08 Dean Winchester

Isn’t it too early for you?


06:09 Sherlock Holmes

I don’t exactly keep the most regular hours and neither do you. I’m listening.


00:45 Dean Winchester

Like I said, rough day. We met our grandfather today then lost him, all in a day. Our other grandfather was a real fucking asshole. He’s dead—no regrets there. Henry, that was our dad’s father, showed up from the fifties. I didn’t like him at all at first, but he was something else. He had brains, he was educated…Didn’t feel like our blood, you know, but I guess he was. He was a lot more like Sam. Or should I say Sam’s like him? Freaking time-travel, man. Henry left our dad back then as a little boy and Dad never found out why his father never came back. He thought he’d run out on him. I don’t even know how any of it makes sense or if it’s right. It’s hurting my head just thinking about it.

Anyway, things got messy. Sammy got taken by a demon bitch that’s some kind of a new brand of evil which of course is awesome, just what we need on our hands right now. Then before we knew it Henry was bleeding in our hands. He saved us both. Guess that restores some freaking balance in the universe, but all I know right now is that we had to do another send off. Sometimes it’s like all we ever do. I don’t believe in curses. I know they’re real, but I don’t believe in some cosmic shit like fate and destiny. But sometimes I just think it sucks to be Sammy and me. Like, everyone in our family is dead. We barely met Henry and we were standing there, looking at his grave. We didn’t torch his body—he wasn’t a hunter, he was something called a Legacy and I guess that makes Sam and me the same. Henry was a Man of Letters—see what I mean when I said Sam was like him? They were these scholars and he definitely thought he was better than us. He thought all hunters were grunts and half-wits. You and him would have hit it off.

I didn’t even want to go to a bar later. I just want people around me to be ok, you know? I want my brother to be alright. I want him next to me and I want to drive my car and kill some evil sons of bitches. You’ll probably think I’m some stupid caveman. You’ve got…Your head’s not like anyone’s I’ve ever met and you’ve got that whole, I don't know...high class thing going on so you probably won’t get it. But me, I don’t want much. I want the few people I care about to be safe and I want to do my job. That’s all.

Anyway, long story short, Henry gave us this key to a place that was like the house of the Men of Letters. We’ll be driving to check if it’s still there, but we stopped to catch our breath first. It’s a crappy motel, the hot water is like a drip not like a normal goddamn shower. Sammy’s sleeping, but I couldn’t so I got my beer and my laptop and then you got me vomitting words all over you.

Alright, I managed to put myself to sleep typing you a novel here. Don’t drive John crazy and don’t damage Mrs. Hudson’s property, she’s a lovely lady and some freaking zen master after what she’s been through—and I’m not even talking about when we were there.

Stay out of trouble.

Dean


07:29 Sherlock Holmes

I'm sorry for your loss.

The very few people I’ve ever found tolerable are not my blood relatives, but then again I’m hardly what one would consider the norm. Neither are you for that matter, not by far; yet you also are, in so many ways. It’s confounding. Anyway.

I understand what you mean when you talk about your wishes, rather well, in fact. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Logic suggests that one should be able to find fulfilment far more easily if one’s wishes are few and simple, yet it seems neither of us has been particularly successful.

I hope the key you were given takes you to a place that has some meaning to you. If I were to deteriorate and give myself over to sentiment, I would say that a place is just a place—we are the ones who populate it with whatever we bring into it. Others do too. I’m thinking of Baker Street as it was when I walked into it for the first time and as it is now. During my 'exile', being back in the flat was the only thought I had sometimes. (I don’t think I need to explain how rare that is for me. Or how unsettling.) At the very least I hope there is a lock to open with that key.

A display of superiority is excusable only if it’s considerably substantiated. I don’t know your grandfather of course, but I find it hard to believe that as far as competences and abilities are concerned the gap between him and you was big enough to justify his attitude. You are his genetic descendants after all.

“Stay out of trouble.”
An example that you would do well to follow your own advice.

I hope you manage to get your four hours of sleep.

S.

01:40 Dean Winchester

Thanks, man. Already hit the sack.

I get it about Baker Street.

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:01:08
11-26-2013
So was there a lock for the key?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:35:19
26-11-2013
Dude, this place is AWESOME! It’s a bunker but it’s not too shabby for me! The hot water is marvelous! I wanna move in and live in the bathroom. We were kinda busy so I haven't gone around to check it out properly, but there are lots of rooms and I’m pretty sure there’s even a kitchen! There’s old whiskey and leather chairs and jazz records, it’s all dated back from the fifties. We think it used to be the Men of Letters HQ. Sam’s been drooling over all the books, it’s a wonder he's showered. But seriously, it’s awesome and the place is huge! You should come visit.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:36:01
11-26-2013
That was an invitation.



Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:36:28
11-26-2013
P.S. You put excited dogs to shame.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:37:11
26-11-2013
Wow. Congrats on your stunning powers of observation.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:37:24
11-26-2013
Shut up.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:37:26
26-11-2013
I was serious though.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:37:47
26-11-2013
Sammy could do with John's company


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:37:48
11-26-2013
I know you were.

 

Chapter Text

 

From: Dean Winchester
supernatural_hunter@gmail.com

To: Sherlock Holmes
consulting_detective@gmail.com

[conversation] Nov 30

02:40 Dean Winchester

Hey,

Going through John’s blog. It’s a real eye opener, let me tell you. Should’ve done it before I came over there, but then I didn’t know I’d meet your crazy self. I don’t know how John decided to live with you. Actually, don’t know how he still puts up with you. Must be love, dude. He sounds totally gaga about you, I've read only the first couple of entires and I’m afraid to keep reading! People were asking him if he was gay, and they were doing it in public so what the hell was your problem when I did it? Just a heads up, I’m taking that as green light to ask you all kinds of personal questions, and at least I’ve got some manners to do it in private.

You well?

D.


09:00 Sherlock Holmes

Oh God.

Don’t you think one Winchester thinking that John is a saint is enough?

I advise you to consider his blog at best as pointless and at worst as a work of bad fiction. I imagine you think it’s ‘awesome’.

I’ll try not to crumble in nerve-wracking anticipation of your questions.

S.

P.S. We just came back from the Peak District for what proved to be an excellent kidnapping case. So yes, I am well. You?


03:42 Dean Winchester

Never been better.

I saw your insult there, it wasn’t even thinly veiled, man. Screw you, yeah, I think it's awesome! John called you pompous, mad, rude, arrogant…The guy’s the real genius, he’d known you for like a day. Mind you, I’m genius too—it took me like five minutes. I think I liked best the bit where he said that you looked like a 12-year-old. I read that as him saying you looked like a precious flower and you totally do! (It actually works in your favor, come to think of it. You're not too bad out there, you even kick ass, you know. And no one sees that coming.)

Ok, question time. Was there someone? In the past? You know, because you said you had some experience but not enough to know what was what. Was it a guy? Was it Irene? I checked her out, she's smoking, dude! Did you tap that? Although I don’t know…not my kind of woman to be honest. She seems too cool, too posh. I like my women more girl next door. American girl next door. Still, I’ll let your Irene tie me up any time!

Dude, I’m totally sharing private stuff with you. Now you gotta talk to me.



09:49

Yes, you are clearly very well indeed. As evidenced by your disturbing activities in the middle of the night. What's wrong?

Irene is dead. No, we didn’t have sex.

There was someone. I thought there was something, but I was wrong. It’s complicated.

John also called me charming.



03:59

Oh. Sorry about Irene. I guess that was exactly the kind of thing that Sam meant the other day when he said it was my big mouth that made me put my foot in it so often. Or something.

I know complicated. I never thought I’d say that (sounds kinda girly) but seriously? I get it, more and more these days. (Not that I understand stuff, but you know—not news to me.) I’m listening. Was it the dude who gave you the watch? What happened?

Of course John will call you charming. But alright, in the interest of keeping you happy so you can answer my questions: you don’t suck, I guess. You’ve got something going on about you. Like presence, I’ll give you that. No one can miss YOU in the room.

Going to bed now. Don't know what's up with that, but talking to you puts me to sleep. Ha! By emails and messages I mean. Real talking to you makes me want to punch you in the face.

I wanna find an email in my inbox when I wake up, you got that? Enjoy your day. I’m sure someone will have to die for that to happen but well, what the hell.

D.

Chapter Text

 

Received call: Dean (US)
Call duration: 00:00:56
01-12-2013 13:11:01


Received call: Dean (US)
Call duration: 00:02:42
01-12-2013 13:12:51


Missed call: Sherlock
12-01-2013 19:12:56


Sender: Dean
Received: 13:13:22
01-12-2013
I don’t wanna talk to you!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:15:50
12-01-2013
Yes. That was the impression you left a moment ago.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:17:48
12-01-2013
Don’t you think your attitude is hypocritical? You actually seek out danger. I merely fail to recognize the signs of it occasionally.


Sender: Dean
Received: 13:17:19
01-12-2013
Don’t wanna repeat myself about how fucking stupid you are! Just don’t talk to me right now

--

 photo SamandJohnmsgs1Dec20131_zpsc42a54d4.png
 photo SamandJohnmsgs1Dec20132_zps07951a8a.png
 photo SamandJohnmsgs1Dec20133_zpsdcf2b494.png
 photo SamandJohnmsgs1Dec20134_zps96dfdc51.png

--

Missed call: Dean
01-12-2013 16:05:35


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:07:01
12-01-2013
As much as I relished being yelled at while heavily sedated, I don’t think I am up for a repeat.


Sender: Dean
Received: 16:08:08
01-12-2013
I’m done yelling. Sorry about before but let me get this straight: you ARE insane and suicidal and need to be locked up. I just wanted to check if you were doing ok


Received call: Sherlock
Call duration: 00:03:52
12-01-2013 22:10:59

--

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 02:01:43
12-02-2013
I can tell the difference.


Sender: Dean
Received: 20:03:08
01-12-2013
Dude, I had a beers and it’s freaking 2 so I got no idea what??


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 02:06:53
12-02-2013
I’m not quite so sharp myself. Meds.
People are often angry with me, have always been. I’m used to it. Being told to piss off and people being aggressive or passive-aggressive. I’m used to shouting, but not the kind variety. I’m not kind, doesn’t mean I don’t recognize kindness in others. John shouting at me, that’s kindness. Just like waiting to shout at me tomorrow. Or you. I can tell the difference between your shouting and people's. I won’t change—I don’t know how and I don’t want to. There’s not much point really. But thank you.


Sender: Dean
Received: 20:10:17
01-12-2013
Sherlock, don’t ever change, you got that? Like ever. There’s far too many of the rest out there but not like you. I just don’t want you to go get yourself killed before your time. Screw your time, there’s no your time, my time, anyones time! I know Death. He's scary like terrifying, but we'll make him listen if push shoves

Sender: Dean
Received: 20:12:25
01-12-2013
Also anyone’s mean to you, I’ll punch them in the face! I have a gun. I mean it, I wanna go back in time and get every bastard who was a dick to you


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 02:13:26
12-02-2013
You hate time travel. And air travel.


Sender: Dean
Received: 20:14:55
01-12-2013
Dude you’re so observant


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 02:16:18
12-02-2013
Goodnight, Dean.


Sender: Dean
Received: 20:17:35
01-12-2013
Night, sunshine. Get some shut eye and let the meds work their magic

 

------------------------------------------------------------

 

[Sam: Remember how I said we were having a Pierce Brosnan Bond night in? Dean’s pissed at me and just stormed out so that’s great. First night off in forever but I guess not.

 John: What’s up with Dean? On my way back from the hospital. Thinking of stopping by HMV and picking ip a Brosnan Bond DVD. Got me interested at least.:)

 Sam: Man, I wish teleport was invented, we could have hung out.

 John: Me too.

 Sam: I told Dean he was being a hypocrite. We actually chase monsters on purpose, you know—not exactly fair to shout at Sherlock for getting into trouble. Turns out it was the wrong thing to say.

 John: That’s true. But he was still right to shout. Should’ve picked his timing better, that’s all. I for one am going to shout at Sherlock tomorrow morning, after I pick him up.

 Sam: :-)

 John: A smiley? From Sam Winchester? What is the world coming to?

 Sam: Couldn’t help it. Your consideration was touching. Let me know what Bond movie you pick up.

 John: Will do. J ]

Chapter Text

 

From: Sherlock Holmes
consulting_detective@gmail.com

To: Dean Winchester
supernatural_hunter@gmail.com

02-12-2013

I’m wide awake after nearly eight hours of sleep and I am stuck here, bored. At least I’m not in pain and I seem to be recovering well, so they have left me alone for now. They all either fuss too much or possess that equally tedious attitude of many medical professionals. The one where they confuse the competences they have with a sense of power over the subjects which these competences concern. I have a suspicion that John must have become aware of the control and power issues in his chosen profession quite early and it was one of the factors that led to his choice of military career. There are hardly any other sub-societies where one is as absolved of responsibility as in the Army. Interesting way to address—or avoid—the issue of control, but John is interesting, far more than he realizes himself.

However, this email is not about him. It’s about Victor. You asked so I am using this time to write to you in response to your question, although I am not sure what exactly to tell. At least I have the consolation of hope that after my reply I won't be pestered anymore by a man with the memory of an elephant.

I forgot to mention that it’s six in the morning. I find the hour strange: it’s still dark outside, but there is the inescapable sense of day. It’s affecting me. I would like to be able to say that it is affecting only my cognitive functions –the implication being that they are all I have to be affected—but I can’t. I have little time for lies, least of all about unimportant things. Also, the thought of deceiving you is not particularly appealing. You would have found the deception anyway: the mere fact that I have written three paragraphs and not quite breached the subject would have been enough to give away my current frame of mind, even to you. Relax. I’m not calling you stupid. I meant that I believe you rival me in your reluctance to focus on the psychological or dwell on emotional experiences, let alone talk about them. You avoid. So do I. Keep that in mind. It is not particularly easy or enjoyable for me to be writing this email. I’m not even sure why I’m doing it. Let’s put that on the list of things you've made me do simply by being obtuse and bossy.

I met Victor when I was twenty-four. The context of our meeting isn’t important. We shared some background as well as interests. I felt very comfortable in his company—the first novel experience. He was also the first person to whom I became attracted in the traditional sense of the word. I wasn’t sure what to do. The memory is one of overall confusion and something rather claustrophobic. It was distracting and it left me disoriented. At the time I hadn’t quite found my purpose yet or my profession. In addition, and I apologize in advance for my maudlin turn here, I hadn’t had the easiest childhood or youth. I was actually happy a lot of the time, as long as there were fewer people involved and my mind was occupied. But I had struggled somewhat with what could be called ‘fitting’. I hadn’t tried fitting or cared for it for that matter, but the world is quite insistant in that respect, isn't it? I believe you understand better than most. I'd say even as well as your brother, but unlike him you have made it one of your life-long conquests to block that sense of displacement. Or rather, lack of place. As far as I'm concerned it is one of the features that make you restful. John in his florid turn of phrase would say it gives you character. Not that you are lacking.

Victor had never shown any interest in his own sex. He had a girlfriend when we met. He had a different one the last time we spoke eight years ago. I suppose he would have identified as heterosexual. I don’t know about now. I don’t know whether there was ever anyone else but me to challenge his perceptions of his sexuality. I believe he was aware of the character of my interest. For a few months he sought out my company actively. I have never been able to say with certainty whether he changed after he found out about me. Sometimes it seems he did—in retrospect. Even back then I was unsure whether he reciprocated or had some fascination with me. People talk about connection. I’d rather use facts and data that can be confirmed. I’ve always found the matter of ‘connection’ or of ‘reading the signals’ extremely confusing and as such, frustrating.

Here are the facts. One night he arrived at my address in a state of nervous agitation. It was to do with his family—I understood things to be complicated. (Shocking.) He stayed for seven hours, leaving at six in the morning. There were drugs involved, cocaine to be precise, for both of us. At some point there was some physical intimacy. I'm not sure who initiated it, but the result was quite unmistakeable for him and for me there was the first evidence that sexual arousal provoked by another and in their company was possible. (I've just become rather amused at the thought of your perusal of this email. Perhaps there is a lesson for you in here about curiosity. Or perhaps this will end all correspondence between us on that sordid matter you keep bringing up and I won't hear from you again on it—or any other.)

Anyway. Victor never spoke about that night. I was inexperienced and didn't even have the frame of reference I have now, acquired through the observation of others. I was not particularly clear on what I wanted or whether I should want anything, or what I should say, if anything. I realize now I expected him to talk, but he didn't and neither did I. We spent some time together for another three months then he left for the US. We haven’t seen each other since, with one exception. He was back to London for a visit, eight years ago. I haven’t got a very good recollection of our meeting. It was at a time when my body wasn’t completely substance-free. I seem to recall him saying something about my always bringing out something in people. Something that was against them or perhaps against their expectations? Of me or of themselves, I'm not sure. He didn't seem angry. It’s all a bit of a blur. It's not important. He has written to me in those eight years, a few times, with the exception of the period when like everybody else he thought I was dead, of course. The last email was a couple of weeks ago. He invited me and John to visit him in New York. I deleted it without responding. That's all.

It occurs to me that Irene Adler identified as gay. You asked about her the other day as well. She left me in no doubt about her interest in me and the fact that some of it was sexual. I suppose remembering Victor’s words the last time we met—or not remembering them, whichever you prefer—made me think about that. There doesn't seem to be much logic or order in these matters—that's the common agent.

Someone will be here soon so I’m going to send this now. I hope it satisfies your curiosity.

Oh, and apologies for my text messages last night. They were the equivalent of John drunk dialling. That's still not an excuse for their unnecessarily sentimental tone.

Sherlock

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean
Received: 13:00:17
02-12-2013
We’re hitting the road so I gotta be quick and my hangover’s still a bitch and I’m not up to typing much. I read my messages from last night - awkward. Let’s just forget about the whole thing. That work for you?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:01:05
12-02-2013
Yes.


Sender: Dean
Received: 13:08:27
02-12-2013
Good. About the other stuff, don’t know what to tell you. Sounds way too complicated for me. Maybe you should go to NYC, if the guy is not in the closet anymore you two can hook up

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean
Received: 23:10:33
05-12-2013
I see you’ve managed to stay out of the news while I turned my back for a minute. How you doing, sunshine?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 17:15:50
12-06-2013
Fine.


Sender: Dean
Received: 23:17:19
05-12-2013
Well don’t give yourself that carpal tunnel thing. Oh, and thanks for asking how we are by the way


Sender: Dean
Received: 00:10:18
05-12-2013
Are you mad at me? Cuz you're not busy, I know that.

--

Missed call: Dean (US)
06-12-2013 20:32:01


Sender: Dean
Received: 20:33:43
06-12-2013
You got a problem, just say it


Missed call: Dean (US)
06-12-2013 23:58:00


Sender: Dean
Received: 23:59:53
06-12-2013
Why are you being a dick? Come on, just answer your phone

--

Dean's delivery

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean
Received: 13:53:03
13-12-2013
You can sign for the damn package, it’s not a bomb I sent you


Sender: Dean
Received: 13:53:42
13-12-2013
Although it was tempting


sherlock john 13 dec 2013 1
sherlock john 13 dec 2013 2
sherlock john 13 dec 2013 3
sherlock john 13 dec 2013 4
sherlock john 13 dec 2013 5

 

[Sherlock: Don't you have your ridiculous book to write?

John: What?

Sherlock: Clearly the devil does make work for idle thumbs.

Sherlock: You should work for Mycroft!

John: What now?

John: And why are you texting me? I'm in the living room.

Sherlock: I wonder if you are sending your reports to Sam hourly or daily.

John: Oh no. Don't get me involved in your stupid fight with Dean or whatever it is going on with you two.

John: And you need to apologize to Mrs Hudson. You scared her to death with your shouting.

John: To that poor mailman as well when you see him the next time.

Sherlock: There won't be a next time. I'm not having that package.

John: Dean sent you a gift. He went to a post office, Sherlock. Plus I know what it is and I know you'll really like it.

Sherlock: Stop sharing every minutiae of our lives with your new 'buddy'. He has no filter on his mouth. It's painfully obvious why you two get on so well.

John: I've not told him about our trip to the US. Even thought I've been dying to and he could do with some good news.

Sherlock: Am I supposed to be grateful for the scraps of your loyalty? Or for common discrection?

John: I'm coming to talk to you.

 

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean
Received: 19:33:43
14-12-2013
Come on, man, just open it. You’ll like it, I swear. It took me days to put it together

--

Missed call: Dean
15-12-2013 18:00:07


Sender: Dean
Received: 18:03:53
15-12-2013
You know what, screw you! I don't need this in my life! You can’t do this, not after what we’ve been through! Does that even mean anything to you? I knew you were like that, I thought this was different but I guess not. Just fucking tell me, alright? Tell me and I won’t bother you anymore, but you gotta say it to me. You come out and say that’s what you want and you won't hear from me again


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:35:43
12-16-2013
Thank you for the printouts. The data is very useful and well selected. I can see why this took time to compile.


Sender: Dean
Received: 18:40:12
15-12-2013
You’re welcome. Sammy helped putting it together, he loved it the giant geek! But yeah, it took a few days, I had to do it between things. I thought that if you had all that handy, you wouldn't have to wonder if it was your thing or our thing when you got to a crime scene. I know it bugs you. Plus who doesn't love spending hours reading up on what a body eaten by a ghoul looks like? It's like it's Christmas already


Sender: Dean
Received: 18:45:11
15-12-2013
Are we talking now? I'm not pushing, just wanna know we’re back to talking again


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 00:46:10
12-16-2013
We are.


Sender: Dean
Received: 18:29:01
15-12-2013
Good.

Dean's gift

 

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:06:19
17-12-2013
Dude, you’ve totally become a celebrity for real, what the hell?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:06:39
17-12-2013
Killer pose on that photo that’s gone viral, by the way

2


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:07:03
12-17-2013
It’s abhorrent.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:07:21
12-17-2013
The attention, I mean.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:08:19
17-12-2013
Well, it must be—for you. You’re not using it to get into any supermodels pants or to watch some awesome games live. But seriously, I get it. Still, digging the photo, it’s totally you. Dramatic!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:08:55
12-17-2013
Are you mocking me?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:09:39
17-12-2013
Nope. Cross my heart and hope to die!


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:10:02
17-12-2013
Ok, wrong thing to say.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:11:20
17-12-2013
I bet the picture is already the wallpaper of a bunch of crazy fans. In the good old days it’d have been hanging on the walls of Goth chicks


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:11:47
12-17-2013
You ARE mocking me.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:13:09
17-12-2013
Alright, but just a little. The bit about the picture being cool is true though. How did they get you to pose like that?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:14:04
12-17-2013
They didn’t. I was investigating a case and a paparazzo was there. There are people outside my house, waiting for autographs. I repeat: abhorrent.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:14:27
17-12-2013
Blame it on your magnetic personality, dude.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:15:01
17-12-2013
You could always leave the country


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:16:30
12-17-2013
I am. John and I are leaving for the US on Saturday.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:17:25
17-12-2013
If you’re screwing with me I swear I’m traveling to London just to sock you on the nose


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:17:56
12-17-2013
I am perfectly serious.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:19:39
17-12-2013
Dude, why didn’t you tell us earlier! What's the plan? What airport you’re flying into, Dallas or Austin? What time’s your flight? You staying over for New Year's as well?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:20:22
12-17-2013
JFK airport. Flight BA0175, 12:40 pm arrival. Our return flight is on the 4th.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:24:29
17-12-2013
If you change your mind and decide to come to Texas let me know, I'll come pick you both up in case you don't find any flights in the last moment


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:25:18
12-17-2013
The distance is 1,600 miles.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:26:19
17-12-2013
Oh yeah? I had no idea! I’ll pick up only John then. I’m sure he won’t mind the drive to come see Sam


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:27:00
12-17-2013
I meant that it would be a 24-hour-drive for you in one direction.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:27:16
17-12-2013
So? I’ll drive for 24 hours


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:27:59
12-17-2013
Thank you for the offer.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 20:28:47
17-12-2013
Yeah. Just let me know


Dean and John, 17 Dec 2013 1
Dean and John, 17 Dec 2013 2
Dean and John, 17 Dec 2013 3

 

[Dean: Hey man, it's Dean. Listen, I know it's a lot to ask but Sherlock told me you were coming and I thought it was to see us, so I couldn't keep my pie hole shut and told Sammy

Dean: It's the happiest I've seen him for weeks. He's been worse and worse and I don't wanna guilt trip you but I don't think he can make the journey to NY

Dean: I told Sherlock I could come and pick you up, just say the word. It's a long drive but it's not too bad, and my baby's a smooth ride, we'll make it pass quick.

Dean: Just think about it, okay? Please? Just come and see my little brother, okay?

John: I'm definitely coming to Texas.

John: I don't know how and when yet, it's all sort of up in the air still and I'll know only after we get there, but I'm coming. JW

Dean: Thanks, man.]

 

Chapter Text

 

Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 1
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 2
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 3
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 4
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 5
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 6 alt
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 7
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 8
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 9
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 10
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 11
Mycroft John 18 Dec 2013 12

[Mycroft: John, please exercise your considerable influence and do something against this ill-advised trip.

John: I'm not going to interfere in your brother's personal life.

John: You shouldn't, either, just so you know. Not this time at least.

Mycroft: There haven't been many instances when Sherlock would benefit more from interference.

John: Well, it's not going to be mine.

Mycroft: I expected more from you, John. I've always thought of you as someone very invested in Sherlock's well-being.

John: I am. That's why I want him to make his own decisions.

Mycroft: He isn't capable of that, not in these matters. You should be able to appreciate that better than most.

John: I'm very sorry you think that. I expected more from you too, Mycroft.

Mycroft: Your rebuke is unjust. I'm merely trying to save my brother discomfort and humiliation.

Mycroft: Even if he may not perceive them as such. His mind becomes awfully entangled. The result can be disasterous.

John: Well, sometimes thinking doesn't come into it and things are best left to happen.

Mycroft: Don't be stupid, John. You know my brother. The last time things just 'happened' the fallout was in no way in his favour.

John: Look, I know you're worried about him. But if he wants to go to New York it's his business, not yours or mine.

Mycroft: You know what this is about, don't you?

John: Of course I do. You haven't been living with him, I have. I expected you to be more concerned about that actually. Don't tell me you approve.

Mycroft: Take a moment to reflect on the individual in question. Now, what do you suppose are the odds of my approving on the matter?

Mycroft: But I'd still make arrangements for your flight to land in Austin, Texas. What does that tell you?

John: That you have no sense of proportion? And even you can't do that.

Mycroft: Someone from the Homeland security team at JFK airport is in my debt.

Mycroft: But I'd rather have that as my contingency plan. I have no desire to spend the entire year suffering Sherlock's tantrum.

John: Oh God, please, don't do that. People will be going home to their families for Christmas.

Mycroft: John, always so sentimental.

Mycroft: Fine. Then I suppose I'll have to make a stopover on my way back from Japan. We can all spend Christmas together in New York.

John: No need for threats, you know. If things go wrong we won't stay in NY. Will you be able to get us last minute flights to Texas?

Mycroft: I'm afraid not. You'll have to find other means of transportation.

John: You know it's a very long drive, don't you? Dean will have to leave Sam alone for three days.

Mycroft: One brother is enough for me to consider. Shall we leave Mr Winchester to decide what to do about leaving his own alone on Christmas? You seem to be such an advocate of freedom of choice.

John: Fine. Then I'll just have to make my way to Texas on my own as soon as we arrive. It's not fair on Sam to be caught in your stupid games, and Sherlock will have Victor to keep him company anyway. Or you two can spend Christmas together if Dean decides to stay with his sick brother.

Mycroft: You wouldn't.

John: I would.

Mycroft: Let me know if you need last minute tickets and I'll see what I can do.

John: I will. Thanks. And you're not giving your brother enough credit.]

Chapter Text

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 03:05:00
20-12-2013
I can’t believe you sat down and booked flights to come all the way to here and we didn’t even make it to your list. That hurts, dude


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:06:29
12-19-2013
I know your brother is unwell. I know the extent of your commitment to him. It seemed pointless to ask you to come to NY. John would say unreasonable too.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 03:07:10
20-12-2013
What about coming to Texas? That pointless too?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:07:46
12-19-2013
I was and still am unable to make plans until I see Victor.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 03:08:40
20-12-2013
Right, of course. Old friends before new ones, right? Even douchebags who you haven’t talked to in years


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:10:23
12-19-2013
Even douchebags to whom I haven’t talked in years. I don’t understand your attitude. Your advice was to go to NY and see if Victor and I could ‘hook up’. I am. How can I predict developments of such unreliable nature? Of course I can’t make plans in advance.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 03:12:39
20-12-2013
No, I get it. If Victor wants to chain you to his bed for a week, who are you to say, no actually, let’s fuck for three days and then I gotta go see these friends, no big deal, we only saved each other’s lives a few times!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 21:14:58
12-19-2013
All right. Is Boxing Day good for you?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 03:16:20
20-12-2013
No it’s not fucking good for me. What is this, charity? Screw you or actually let him screw you and you enjoy, man, I hope he’s worth it

Chapter Text

 

Sender: S
Received: 22:58:21
19-12-2013
I’m flying out to New York on Saturday. Can we meet?


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:39:59
20-12-2013
I’m not sure. I’m busy.


Sender: S
Received: 00:40:47
20-12-2013
Fine. I feel so awful for what I did. Forgive me. Can we meet?


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:41:35
20-12-2013
For someone making a request you don’t seem to behave.


Sender: S
Received: 00:42:50
20-12-2013
You haven’t seen me in two years. Obviously this was the opening of a tedious game where you were to punish me before agreeing to meet after all. I was just saving us some time.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:43:46
20-12-2013
I know very well what you were doing and I’m not impressed. You deserve punishment. Grief wasn’t a lot of fun.


Sender: S
Received: 00:44:27
20-12-2013
Hypocritical. You have faked your own death twice. I helped you the second time.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:45:09
20-12-2013
Fine. But I’m still angry with you.


Sender: S
Received: 00:45:57
20-12-2013
So is everybody else, it seems.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:46:26
20-12-2013
What’s the matter? Is it John?


Sender: S
Received: 00:47:01
20-12-2013
Why would it be John? Why does it have to be anybody?


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:47:17
01-11-2013
Well, is it John?


Sender: S
Received: 00:47:25
20-12-2013
No.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 07:47:57
20-12-2013
Is it someone else?


Sender: S
Received: 00:48:46
20-12-2013
I don’t know. Maybe. Can we meet?


Sender: (no name) +1310654361
Received: 00:49:10
20-12-2013
Of course, darling. Let’s have dinner.


Sender: S
Received: 07:49:41
20-12-2013
Send me a coded message where and when.


Sender: (no name) +1310654361
Received: 00:49:58
20-12-2013
Foreplay. I like it.

 

Chapter Text

 

Irene believes in being prepared, so two days before meeting Sherlock she does her homework. She reasons that if Sherlock didn’t want her to do it, he would have found a way to have his email account impenetrable.

She investigates Victor Trevor first.

It’s a matter of practicality. She wants to meet Dean Winchester rather badly, almost as much as she wanted to meet Sherlock Holmes some years ago. Mr Winchester, however, is based in Texas—unlike Mr Trevor who lives in the same city where she is currently residing. He isn’t exactly a neighbour, but a twenty-minute walk in the bracing cold is not unwelcome. Irene spent the spring and the summer in California, before settling in New York for the time being. Cold weather is a necessity for her; a lull is never good, even in the seasons.

Predictably, there are no problems in entering the building. The discovery that Victor Trevor is absent from his penthouse apartment makes her smile. Three minutes and she’s in, no traces of her presence in the security records or on the actual door.

She has always been exceptionally good with people. One long look at the place where this rare creature lives is enough to have her conclude that his rarity will forever be by proxy. Like luminous fish, Victor Trevor will only ever shine in the deep ocean that is Sherlock Holmes.

Standard, contemporary interior; high-quality electrical equipment; not many personal effects; no character whatsoever. There's no explanation for it or rather, no other explanation than the place reflecting its owner. Victor Trevor has lived here for over a year, if Irene’s source is to be trusted. In addition, nothing in his history suggests that the blandness of the scene may be purposeful. He isn’t a criminal trying to cover his tracks and he does call this his home. Irene is bored and she hasn’t even met the man.

She still goes straight to his bedroom where she finds the same snooze-inducing interior. The bed is big and very comfortable. The lamps, the chest of drawers, the curtains, the potted plant, the cushions and the throw, the chair—they are all expensive and really very nice.

Sherlock will delete from his mind everything he finds in here.

The walk-in closet—almost the size of the bedroom itself—as well as its contents tell Irene about half of the story, both past and present. This is a gay man who is still on the cusp; the corner’s been turned, though. She brushes her gloved fingers over the satin of a purple robe then lightly rubs its lilac belt between her thumb and index finger.

She checks out the bathroom and peers in the guest bedroom, then returns to the open space living area and inspects the bin, only to find it empty. She examines the content of the fridge next. It speaks of a man who eats out almost exclusively. There’s little to observe, but from what she sees she would venture a guess that Victor Trevor isn’t overly concerned about his weight. There is a gym downstairs that the closet made easy to gather he isn’t visiting frequently. At least not frequently enough to have escaped the vicious pressure to work out to which every resident of Manhattan is subjected. So far it’s the only thing that makes Victor Trevor interesting.

It’s possible he is either indifferent to his body image or he has a lot of sex and that keeps him fit. Irene approves of both, for different reasons. Unfortunately, his bedroom didn’t offer enough to speculate on his sexual proclivities. Condoms; two kinds of lubricant—generic brands; a dildo—standard set-up, on the small size. Evidence for some sex life or at least for someone who believes in being prepared, too. (Sherlock is coming after all. Irene feels a little vindictive; a little melancholy at life's petty injustices.)

The last place she goes to is the office.

Ah.

“Methods for Calculating Rates of Transitions with Application to Catalysis and Crystal Growth”

“Optimizing core-shell nanoparticle catalysts with a genetic algorithm”

“Detailed single-molecule spectroelectrochemical studies of the oxidation of conjugated polymers”

Well, there’s one mystery solved.

The big photo album (square, dark blue faux leather, thin vertical strips of black faux leather) adds a big piece to the rest of the puzzle. Because aside from having a dull taste and a lot of money, Victor Trevor reveals himself to be the possessor of good looks. There is a general sense of refinement about his features, something almost Byronian. Irene feels the merest flutter in her chest at the discovery of such an oddity: a chemist with a poet’s looks. The last time she met someone who was a walking paradox in a similar way, she ended up diving in without enough air in her lungs. Her presence here today is evidence of both her survival and of how far she would swim for that man.

But the spark dies out quickly as she peruses more photographs. What considerably distances Victor Trevor from Lord Byron is his startling lack of sensuality. The pieces are all there: in the shapely wide mouth and chin, in the dark blond, perfectly formed curls, in the wide-set, chocolate brown eyes. Blond and dark-eyed—such a rare combination. Such a pity, too, because the sum total leaves Irene cold, and subsequently mournful.

She lets herself out, feeling just as phantom-like as she did at her entry. Sherlock won’t be happy with this man, not by far; but he may easily become confused that he will be. There's certainly a special place for him here—like an element fitting into a chemical formula.

Outside, she walks the two hundred feet to the Fifth and spends half a minute just standing at the corner and breathing in the cold mist. The Christmas hysteria is in full swing, just like it would be in London, only in New York she can feel the absence of ghosts from a hundred years ago. New York is a thriving, modern city. London is a thriving city that has been modern for every decade of the last ten centuries.

She takes her phone out just to look again at her flight booking for Dallas, Texas.

 

Chapter Text

 

The bar is great, Irene thinks, casting a look around. It’s got that quintessential dimmed atmosphere that chimes in tune with the shadows in one’s soul, making the perpetual subconscious restlessness about them quieten, just for a moment. It’s got good liquor, warm wood, brass. A TV, some sports channel on with the sound off. A barman who is an impossible creature: both there if you need to see him and absent if you need the illusion that you’re alone. There’s music at the background that’s taken a leaf from the barman’s books. Yes, perfect.

Irene walks towards the bar, unbuttoning her fitted, plain black coat that no one here would come close to guessing how much it really costs. The patrons, few and far in between, subject her to a perfunctory assessment. (Irene can be just a face in the crowd: carry on, nothing to see here. She’s not here to be noticed. At least not yet.) She’s got eyes only for the figure standing at the bar and leaning against it with his back to her, his eyes on the TV screen. Well-proportioned, fit, masculine, tense shoulders—good shoulders!—worn jeans, generic brand of boots, generic brand casual jacket—in some unclassifiable beige colour Irene makes an effort not to hold against him— collar up. The jacket is too thin for this weather but then again he’s got that big, gleaming beauty of a classic car outside to keep him warm.

Irene settles in the empty chair next to Dean Winchester without asking for permission, gesturing to the barman that she’ll have what Dean’s having.

Dean gives her a sideways glance, too long to be furtive, too short to be interested, then returns his half-hearted attention to the TV, lifting his beer bottle to his lips. The sip makes a dimple flash above the corner of his mouth, and Irene just knows there’ll be a twin one above the left corner, too.

The dimple is perfect. His mouth is perfect to the point of distraction, as is everything he does with it: the meditative pursing of the lips that makes the dimple pop up again without a phallic subject in its vicinity, the tonguing of the bottom lip, just the tip doing a full left to right sweep, the bare downward turn at the corners that doesn’t take away from how generous nature was with flesh and shape…

Irene has watched Dean Winchester’s mouth for all of four seconds—under light that really is quite scant, few slanted rays of winter sun—but she already has enough to declare her mission here accomplished.

She still doesn’t get up and leave.

“Did you know that the half-life of DNA is five hundred years?” she tells him, letting her British accent take over the last nook and cranny of her sentence. “Or that the maggots on a corpse have proven to be a reliable indicator of the time of death?”

Dean doesn’t turn to look at her; only his head does, partially. She could practically hear his auditory pleasure centres go ‘ping’. It’s too early to say to what, though: accent or voice.

Then she realizes that there is something so bone-deep-worried and tired about him, for a moment Irene is completely thrown off her game. There won’t be any bellyaching here, however, to a barman or an attractive stranger.

“Is this some kind of new outreach program I don’t know about?” Dean says eventually after he’s subjected her to a once over. Predictably, Irene likes his voice as well. Masculine enough, a little throaty, a little like cognac. “Where nerds go around distributing random...nerdy facts to strangers?” he continues, then smirks to himself, amused and melancholy both. “You’re preaching to the wrong crowd, sister. You should talk to my brother.”

Ah. The brother. Not a minute in and ‘Sammy’ is already here as well. Wrong—has been here all along. Irene adds two and two and gets that Sam Winchester is the real reason she found herself failing to land on her four feet after taking a proper look at his brother a second ago.

Well, in her books the angst-ridden, dependency-prone characters have always trumped the fake, emotionally unavailable ones.

“I was giving you some useful conversational starters,” she tells Dean, fully aware at this point she sounds cryptic to him, if not mentally unstable. “Do I look like a nerd to you?” she adds, a tad flirtatious.

Dean finally straightens from his slouch and quickly examines her. Nothing like Sherlock. No attention to detail, no clinical scrutiny, no collection of data. This one just knows people. (Complete each other, tick.)

“No offence,” Dean says, “but you look like a whore.” No filter on his mouth. (Just the same, check.)

He makes a quick circular gesture with his right hand, encompassing Irene, his face turning a little boyish for a moment. “As in ‘in that line of work’.”

Ah. Well…

“Not by your actual looks, not judging them,” he continues, then shrugs a little. “Not judging, period. But again, preaching to the wrong crowd. I’m not interested.” He doesn’t turn back to the TV, though, just takes in her face again, puzzling out. “Although I don’t think you’re actually working?”

They proceed to have a conversation; mostly bantering really. He’s quick and witty; confident, because he isn’t trying too hard. Actually, he just isn’t trying, full stop. His charm is gruff, although there’s an almost delicate vulnerability deep underneath that Irene can feel in her toes as if it was a smooth, round big pebble under them.

Big red alerts keep flashing in her mind’s eye: Match! Match! Match!

She gives Dean a fixed stare, making sure to tilt her head in a way that makes a few sunbeams accentuate her blue-green eyes, her pale skin and her high cheekbones. Nature adds better make-up than anything the billion dollar beauty industry spews out every year. Irene can see her belief confirmed in the way the air between them shifts, Dean’s demeanour no longer that of someone peripherally engaged. Again, she won’t put her money on what brings about the change. Maybe he is aware of what's drawing his attention; he probably isn’t, or at least it's a subliminal awareness. (Just the same, check.)

“Do I know you?” he asks, the way it’s been asked in countless scenes on the screen, big and small, but it’s still such a thrill when it’s done in reality by someone who means it.

“You know of me.” She carefully takes off the black barrette that has kept her sophisticated hairdo intact and waits for recognition to light up his eyes.

His mouth delights her again, this time with something like a fierce pout. Irene quickly stops his hand that’s already reaching for his jacket inside pocket, for salt or a knife, she doesn’t know and isn’t keen to find out. “I’m real,” she says. “I was never dead.”

He stares at her, still turbulent and wary, but already half-way to believing her. “Mind if I check?” he asks.

She opens her arms, hands up, palms to him. “Be my guest.”

He produces some gadget from the other pocket and shielding it between the bar and his body quickly scans her up and down. She doesn’t know what that thing is, but it doesn’t produce even a blip so it’s her friend.

“Passed the test?” she asks lightly.

Dean tucks the gadget back in and gazes at her, then shakes his head a little, his expression turning into grim entertainment. “I’ll be damned,” he says. His eyebrows rise with the kind of effortless cynicism that would be very easy to be mistaken for a something had versus something learned. “Should've known," he says. "Random facts about DNA. Creepy facts about body decomposition. Faking your own death.”

His handsome features are still awash with his casual sarcasm. Irene hopes he’ll look to the mirror behind all the bottles, catch a glimpse of himself and maybe notice the barest twang of bitterness on his face, too.

He doesn’t. It’s too dark in here anyway.

He does however lift the beer bottle to his lips, keeps it a few inches from them, throat working around his next comment. “I don’t know why you two aren’t married. Although I kind of fear for the children.”

The Gods are smiling upon her today. She’s always had such impeccable timing, it’s child’s play to do this.

“That would be because we’re not the marrying kind.” Dean’s still watching her, bottle in the air, then he lifts his eyebrows and drinks. “Oh, and he’s into dick, while I’m not,” Irene adds.

Dean splutters and coughs, and from what Irene gathers there’s beer in his nose. She isn’t a petty person, but she is checking out a guy who has far bigger chances of taking Sherlock to bed than she ever did.

Then just like that it’s all she can picture. A finger poking into a tiny hole while she let it out of her sight for one second and Irene’s mental stocking runs a crazed, very specific ladder. No elaborate scenes from Kama Sutra; no ‘the Director’s cut’; no explicit zoom-in with harsh lighting. Maybe later her imagination can go spend a weekend in a cabin in the woods, sweating out extremely detailed scenarios, but in this dusky bar it shows her once again why she isn’t just rich from what she does, but good at it, too.

No erotic fantasy is better than the ‘less is more’ one and boy, does her pretty head deliver, image after image: Dean’s jaw bunched up, almost angry, while he’s pressing Sherlock against a wall, hand heading down to those pristine suit trousers of his. Sherlock’s mouth—

Sherlock’s stupid, stupid mouth, of course they’ll both have the kind of mouth that any gay escort could just stick a picture of on his add, not bothering with much else, then wait for the cash to roll in.

—Sherlock’s mouth open in stunned pleasure, Dean’s tongue sinking into it, Sherlock’s hands on both sides of Dean’s neck, gripping. Sherlock, naked and on his front, Dean only in his jeans—oh yes, that’s good—covering him shoulder to toe. Hand buried in Sherlock’s hair, hips moving, promising; mouth on skin without any intent to leave glorious red marks, markings even, but doing it anyway, swept away, all sex.

Irene gulps behind her hand and clears her throat. Looks like the joke was on her after all.

Dean meanwhile—she really should call him Present Day Dean as opposed to Future Dean she’d like to think she just saw in a combo that would give her masturbatory material for a year—Present Day Dean is gawking at her. It takes a couple of seconds for her to trace back to the reason for it.

Oh yes, her ‘into dick’ comment.

“On those extremely rare occasions he is into anything,” she clarifies, because she hasn’t come here to lie to the poor man. Dean is beginning to regain composure so she hurries to remedy that. “He’s never really been with anyone.”

Dean turns away from her a little, pressing his stomach to the bar. His hand swipes over his mouth as if he’s stroking an invisible long moustache. The gesture makes him look insecure, grown-up; sexy as hell. Irene could just kiss him.

“That’s not what I heard,” he tells her.

“You mean Victor? I’m not quite sure what happened, but I can guarantee you Sherlock was none the wiser after it.” She leans in, her half-whisper cheeky and confidential. “I don’t think he will be, either, even if they spend the holidays shagging like rabbits.”

Dean gives her a startled, curious look, something dark in it and not just because of the bar. The bottom half of his face is hidden in the crook of his shoulder, but he uncovers his mouth to speak. “You know any of that how?”

She gives him a wide smile that’s a little frosty. “I thought you could read people.”

He keeps his gaze on her face for a moment, eyes distracted in intense thought, then looks down to his hands. They’re around the beer bottle, a couple of nails scraping over the condensation-soft label, a thumb absently rubbing over the smooth, cool glass. So physical. (Complete each other, tick.)

“Why are we having this conversation?” he asks. “No offence, but I got other things on my mind right now than going all daytime TV.” He looks down at his hands again, shrugs. “I barely know the guy anyway.” Eyes back on her. “Do you want me to put in a good word for you?”

Bless. He looks like he actually believes that.

“Does he even know you’re alive?” Dean continues, the sincerity holding.

“Yes. He helped me fake my own death.” Irene pauses, gives him tit for tat on the openness front. “It was very good of him.”

“We talking about the same guy?”

Definitely bless. But no points for trying, Winchester.

“You don’t really buy into his ‘sociopathic tendencies’ persona, do you?” Irene knows she sounds condescending and a little scolding. This one might look like a gorgeous puppy that’s still trying to figure out which way each paw goes but there’s no mistaking he’s been around the block more than pretty much anyone Irene knows.

She sighs inwardly, reminding herself that the life experience mileage does not always translate to the emotional kind.

“Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have much time for humanity,” she says. “Because he is Sherlock Holmes. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s human himself, with a very human heart.”

There’s obviously some clumsy attempt at snark on Dean’s lips. Irene has no trouble pinning him down as someone who finds any conversation about sentiment extremely awkward. (Just the same, check.) But whatever he’s got dies unspoken. He fishes out his phone and presses some buttons, eyes quickly perusing the screen. His huff is dry amusement and he shakes his head. He puts the phone on the bar top and uses his index finger to nudge it in Irene’s direction.

The message is from Sherlock. Don’t believe anything she says.

Irene reads it a couple of times and lifts her head.

She catches a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror and not for the first time concludes that for a gay woman she really chose an interesting subject to prove to herself that her heart could not, would not grow cold for someone.

She glides the phone smoothly back in Dean’s direction. Her elegant hot pink nails and her aristocratic, fine bones appear fleetingly preposterous in this mid-Texas, all American bar. Then again she’s got quite a grip on that hand of hers.

“Well, I’ve been made so I’ll be off,” she says, breezy. Dean looks up to her from his phone, startled and confused and not all there. Irene can’t sympathize but understands.

She’s about to say her goodbyes, when somebody opens a door or a window behind her.

Light hits Dean in full, letting Irene see him for a protracted second or two: the incredibly pure green of his eyes, the strong yet curved chin, the freckles, that mouth. Irene's heart skips a beat and she smiles to herself. Oh Sherlock, you wonderful man. If you do it, you really do it all the way, don’t you?

Unaware of the internal glowing review he’s received, Dean gestures between the two of them. “So what was this?” he asks, the half-puzzled, half-suspicious line between his eyebrows serving as their last minute bid at being noticed, too.

Irene thinks about the cool alabaster of Sherlock’s throat and runs her gaze over the man in front of her, who by all standards fits the definition of the American slang word ‘hot’.

“Call it an investment,” she replies and leaves, wondering whether in this case a year would be the appropriate time one should wait, before one asked for an invitation to watch.

 

Chapter Text


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:18:08
20-12-2013
Alright, I gotta ask. Why was your friend checking me out?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:18:55
20-12-2013
I don't mean it like that, although chick was kinda hot actually, she's got that whole cool and mysterious sexy thing going on


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:20:08
20-12-2013
And maybe she did want to sample the goods now that I think about it. Definitely gave me the bedroom eyes at the end. Can't blame her right? LOL


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:20:51
20-12-2013
Ok, delete the LOL, NO LOL, never again. Man, that made me sound like a brainless fourteen-year-old. I feel like I should scrub myself clean. Anyway, you and her, I can totally see it. You two even look alike


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:29:01
20-12-2013
Why are you not replying? Are we talking now? I'm not even sure anymore, man, it feels like I've been on for like a month and it's all craptastic at my end, can't even get what the hell anymore but you sent me a msg so I thought we were ok. Are we ok?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:35:11
20-12-2013
Dude, what's going on? If anyone should be mad it's still me, cos you're still blowing us off for some fugly your friend thinks won't make you see stars, by the way


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:40:41
20-12-2013
Ok, I get it. Suit yourself. I'm just, that sucks, you know? I mean, I keep thinking of back when we were over there and I don't get why you're acting like that. Whatever.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:41:29
12-20-2013
Hi Dean, it's John. Sherlock is on a case. We got called in an hour ago. I'll remind him to check his messages later.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:43:18
20-12-2013
Thanks, man. No big deal


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:44:49
20-12-2013
You check his phone a lot for him? Jeez, you guys are close


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:50:04
12-20-2013
No, I don't. He never answers his phone while he's working, this is a first. He finally checked it after all the messages kept arriving and then pushed it in my hand, and went back to the corpse. So I'm assuming he wanted me to tell you he was working. Trust me, that's the height of consideration for him.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 17:51:44
20-12-2013
Ok then. You watch out, alright, both of you. I'll see you soon. You're a saint, by the way


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 11:59:23
12-20-2013
That's one way of putting it. Ta. See you soon, say hi to Sam for me.

Chapter Text

 

 

(21 Dec 2013)

 

meme-from-iphonetextgenerator-32
Sam and John 21 Dec
Sam and John 21 Dec 3
Sam and John 21 Dec 4



Sam and John 21 Dec 5
Sam and John 21 Dec 6
Sam and John 21 Dec 7
Sam and John 21 Dec 8




[Sam: Just to wish you a safe flight, man. See you soon hopefully.

John: Thanks, Sam. In the cab on the way. Very excited but Sherlock's in a right state. I've wanted to strangle him twice already this morning. I don't know how I'll survive the flight.

John: Or how he will. You might see me sooner than you think if you have to bail me.

Sam: Sure. If I'm not busy bailing my own brother out for biting someone's head off because they asked them to get them low fat milk.

John: Right. So Christmas is looking peaceful from both our ends then.

Sam: You said it.

 

John: I am going to KILL HIM. The cabbie just left us at a service station on the way to Heathrow. Didn't even charge us, he was so pissed off.

Sam: Shit. You won't miss your flight, right?

John: No, waiting for another cab.

Sam: Let me know how it goes.

John: Will do.

 

John: Waiting to board. Doesn't mean we can't get thrown out but you know.

John: He keeps texting. Is he texting Dean?

Sam: Dude, I wish. Bet it'd make him calm down a little. Glad you made it to the airport.

John: Boarding. Talk to you soon.

 

John: UA3520, 11:57pm. Do you want me to call again just before I board?

Sam: No need. Call only if something goes wrong, otherwise Dean's gonna pick you up at midnight.

Sam: Don't forget the holy water.

Sam: Still can't believe you're coming tonight. That's awesome, man!

John: Can't believe it myself. But I don't even know what day it is anymore. Don't have high hopes for sparkling company.

Sam: Just get your ass over here in one piece.

John: Will do my best. Looking forward to seeing you.:)

John: How's Dean?

Sam: Can't tell. He walked out as soon as I told him the deal. My guess is not great.

Sam: You sure Sherlock's okay staying with that dude? No chance of changing his mind at the last moment?

John: It's Sherlock. God knows! But he made it very clear he wanted me to leave.

Sam: Do you want to leave without him? Cos you should stay if that's what you wanna do.

John: I wanted us to leave together but he's staying. It'd be different if it was a case, but it's his personal life. Actually it's his love life. I should respect that and leave him to it.

Sam: Sure. See you soon. Have a safe flight.)

Chapter Text

 

To: Sherlock
Received call: Dean (US)
Call duration: 00:05:22
21-12-2013 20:51:22


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:59:44
21-12-2013
Where are you?


Sender: S
Received: 21:00:21
21-12-2013
Not much has changed in the last thirty-five minutes since we last saw each other.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:00:47
21-12-2013
Stupid man.


Sender: (no name) S
Received: 21:01:15
21-12-2013
Can I expect any more substantial input from you or should I start ignoring your messages?


Sender: +1310448791
Received: 21:01:59
21-12-2013
My input at dinner was very substantial, you ungrateful man. It'll be much to the regret of both of us that it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:04:01
21-12-2013
Leave. Go to him. I’m serious.


Sender: S
Received: 21:05:06
21-12-2013
I just spoke to him. He doesn’t want to see me anymore.


Sender: S
Received: 21:05:58
21-12-2013
It wasn’t what one would call a friendly chat.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:06:23
21-12-2013
Did he call?


Sender: S
Received: 21:06:31
21-12-2013
Yes.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:06:45
21-12-2013
Why?


Sender: S
Received: 21:07:31
21-12-2013
It doesn’t matter.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:08:50
21-12-2013
He called because he was angry John was going to Texas and you were staying in New York. Yes or no would do.


Sender: S
Received: 21:09:39
21-12-2013
Yes.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:10:09
21-12-2013
I wonder what the great mind of Sherlock Holmes can deduce from that.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:14:21
21-12-2013
God, I almost prefer the old you. He was less obtuse.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:15:29
21-12-2013
Do you want to see him?


Sender: S
Received: 21:16:41
21-12-2013
Yes.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:17:01
21-12-2013
Go to him.


Sender: S
Received: 21:19:51
21-12-2013
No. Do I need to repeat myself? Victor and I have a lot in common. I only have to look at my interactions with both of them today to see the logical course of action.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:20:29
21-12-2013
Logic has nothing to do with it.


Sender: S
Received: 21:20:49
21-12-2013
Predictable response. Boring.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:27:16
21-12-2013
If you won't do what you want to do, at least don't do anything you don't want to do. Good luck. You have my number.

 

Chapter Text

 

To: Sherlock
Missed call: Dean (US)
22-12-2013 22:45:20

--

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 22:51:44
22-12-2013
Well good thing your not answering your phone cos I was gonna say something stupid anyway! I jus want you to know that it sucks that you are not here ok? It's WRONG! Sammy's happiest I seen him since we left you and John's here and why the fuck are you not here??? I don't care about that asshole you wanna be your boyfriend and I don't give a fuck that you've known him longer or wanna be with him or whatever, I mean do you even wanna be with him?? Whatever with that dude, you gotta be here, man it's where you gotta be!!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:53:04
12-22-2013
How drunk are you?


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 22:55:04
22-12-2013
Hey I'm a big boy I can hold my liquor! So what if I'm drunk?? I still know what I'm sayin!!!


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 22:55:34
22-12-2013
Man, I LOVE predictive text!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:55:43
12-22-2013
Text me when you sober up and you can drive.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 22:57:59
22-12-2013
Why?? You want me to come pick you up cos I'll go and put my head in an ice bucket dude!!! Be as good as new in couple of hours


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 22:58:44
12-22-2013
No, I want you to stop abusing the question and exclamation marks, drink plenty of water and sleep.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 22:59:28
22-12-2013
OK


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 23:02:24
22-12-2013
You still at that douchebags place??


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 23:03:00
12-22-2013
No. Go to sleep.


Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 23:04:44
22-12-2013
Good!! OK. Don't go anywhere I'm gonna be there as soon as



Sherlock and John 22 Dec

 

[Sherlock: I'm near Waynesville, Missouri, at a place called Relax Inn. It's on Old Roude 66.

John: What? Why? I'm calling you now!

Sherlock: Don't. I don't have a charger for my phone. I hired a car and left New York this morning. The car was stolen as soon as I stopped at the motel an hour ago. Some of my belongings were in it.

John: Jesus. Are you okay?

Sherlock: I'm fine. However, I'm stuck here until the morning at the very least. Please make sure Dean doesn't leave for New York without you or Sam noticing.

John: Dean is sleeping, Sam just checked. He had a few drinks with us then went to his room. Sam says he'll keep an eye on him and let him know where you are when he's fit to drive again.

Sherlock: Thanks.

John: You should catch some sleep as well.

Sherlock: That's why I'm in this predicament. I drove for over fifteen hours and I was feeling fine, but I could just hear you nagging in my head that I should stop and have some rest.

John: I apologize on behalf of imaginary me. Go to sleep.]

Chapter Text

 


Sherlock and John 23 Dec 1
Sherlock and John 23 Dec 2
Sherlock and John 23 Dec 3
Sherlock and John 23 Dec 4

 

[John: Dean's on his way. He said he should be there around midday. Don't fret and try not to get yourself thrown out of the motel. Even your coat won't keep you warm in this weather.

Sherlock: Yes, he just called. I'm not fretting. Why would I fret? I never fret, I won't start now. That was a pointless remark.

Sherlock: Midday? I was told it was an eight-hour-drive.

John: Apparently he intends to break the speed limit.

John: Maybe that's his way to calm his nerves.

John: Although I'm sure he isn't fretting either.

Sherlock: You are teasing me. I see. A day without my company and you're already bored enough to resort to juvenile forms of entertainment.

John: Sorry, that was a bit childish of me. I'm glad you'll be here for Christmas. It's the first Christmas since you came back. I didn't want to say anything and I'll feel stupid saying it in your face so there. You shouldn't have spent it with Victor.

Sherlock: There seems to be quite a consensus on that.

Sherlock: In the candid spirit of your message - I left New York to come to Texas.

John: So it's ok for you to point out the obvious, then? :)

John: I'm glad you did. I'll see you tonight. I hope. I'm sweating just thinking of the trouble the two of you could get into.

Sherlock: Don't dehydrate. See you soon, John.]

 

Chapter Text

 

Pearl was happy to finish her shift on time today. That asshole Chad was often late anyway, so she had almost resigned to him using the bad weather as an excuse to turn up an hour later. She was so surprised to see him walk in through the front door at reception that she nearly bit her tongue in her haste to stop herself from thanking him for actually showing up on time to cover his own damn shift. It was as if the sleezeball had conditioned her to appreciate what she should take for granted.

Pearl’s small bubble of joy at going home burst at the sight of her poor car. She sighed and got on with the excavation works straight away. If she worked quickly and the new ice scraper was worth the money she’d paid for it, she should be driving off from this miserable place in ten minutes, still able to rely on her sense of touch—the new scraper cost a bit extra because it came attached to a glove that was supposed to really keep your fingers warm and dry. There were very few comforts, big or small, in Pearl’s life. It had felt like an early Christmas present to get something for herself that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Actually, the way money was tight this year, it might be her only present to herself, so she cherished it twice—a small gesture of care. Sometimes showing yourself some love was all that got you through the day.

She kept working, tongue sticking out from time to time and she ended up blowing a raspberry in her attempt to get a stray strand of hair off her face. (She really needed to cut her hair again. God had blessed her with tons of hair growing super fast, as if to compensate her for everything else of which He’d left her on the wanting side, starting with her size.) The glove was holding up well, but her other hand was already getting cold and damp through the mitten. Pearl doubled her effort, focusing on the fantasy of having a hot cup of coffee at home, all snoodled up under her old blanket, while she watched something on her TV—older even than the blanket, but working without a hitch. She would put on the Christmas lights early today—it couldn’t have added too much to the electricity bill if she did it only for the few days around Christmas, but the lights really transformed her small, cluttered space.

A big classic car drove into the parking lot outside the row of motel rooms where Pearl’s was parked as well. It pulled up right next to her Ford. Pearl didn’t know much about cars, but that one was something else: black and silver, gleaming and gorgeous.

Not as gorgeous as the guy who drove it, though.

He came out of the car and shut the door with the kind of force that was in perfect balance: both doing the job it was supposed to do and ensuring the guy’s ride was treated like a lady. Pearl could almost hear him think, ‘No slamming doors for my baby.’

Gorgeous took in the doors to the rooms, the lines around his eyes adding insult to injury—not only was he good-looking, now he upped the rugged sex appeal, too.

At the very second Pearl realized she was staring, his gaze turned to her, trapping her breath in her throat. His eyes reminded her of the Christmas trees at the Home when she was little: their green evocative of pine tree woodlands hit by the sun, while his eyelashes were like the needles themselves. It was absurd to see something so pretty framed by a scowl.

As soon as Gorgeous took her in, his scowl deepened for a fraction of a second before clearing up. He quickly scanned her car then quirked an eyebrow. “Hey, sweetheart.” The voice was a little raspy as if he hadn’t used it for a while, but it was also warm and melodious. He probably sang pretty well. “Looks like you could use some help?” His chin tipped towards the car.

Pearl took him in herself, stammering something unintelligible. The irony was not lost on her. She did it neither on account of his words—the term of endearment as well as the offer had been a bit like the closing of his car’s door: a perfect balance between making her feel like a woman while not crossing the line into inappropriate flirting—nor on account of Pearl’s anxiety flaring up as it usually did when a guy paid her special attention. It was much less complicated than that: Gorgeous was wearing a jacket that would have been more appropriate for mid-October. He had no scarf or hat, no gloves, yet he was still offering to help her get the snow off her car and oh yeah—he was still manly and gorgeous. Like her Memaw would have said, they didn’t make them like that anymore!

Meanwhile the guy was already walking towards her, having produced some pretty awesome tool out of his car’s trunk: it looked like a cross between a spear, a massive ice scraper and a broom. He gave her a quick smile and got down to business without any more comments. Pearl shook herself mentally and managed to get out her, “Thanks,” pretty loud and clear, then hurried to help him. It was one thing to bleat at guys who could work as the lead on their TV show and another to let them scrub your car from all traces of winter while you gazed at them—more specifically at their parted, plump lips and shifting, strong muscles—with an actual sheep-like expression.

“There you go,” Gorgeous said only a few minutes later. Regardless of the speed with which they’d both accomplished the feat of having her Ford snow-free, he was already shivering.

Pearl thanked him profusely, pointing at the main building. “Do you want to warm up over there?” She rubbed distractedly at her bruised thumb that she’d wacked against a piece of ice. “I work here; I could let you in the staff room, there’s coffee there and—”

Gorgeous was already shaking his head. “Thanks, no need. I’ve come to pick up someone.” Of course you have, Pearl thought. “You could help me?” he went on. “Not sure about the room’s number. Guy’s name is Holmes. Sherlock Holmes. British, strange face.” Gorgeous lifted his reddened right hand to draw a swift circle in front of his own face, then nodded to himself in something like approval of his own skills to conjure up a good description. “Stares at you, kind of makes you feel uncomfortable?” he added. “His car got stolen from here.”

Pearl had been able to tell him where Exotic Face was as soon as she’d heard the name, but she didn’t find it easy talking to men even when they were quiet. Interrupting them when they were clearly enjoying themselves talking on the subject was practically impossible.

She was just about to mumble that they were standing right in front of the guy’s door when Gorgeous started, gaze jumping to it, making Pearl doubt whether she hadn't actually spoken after all. For a blink of a moment his face seemed to unravel in something akin to wonder, as if it was a big, amazing bow tugged at both ends by invisible hands…only his face became even more beautiful when undone. His tongue came out and lapped at his upper lip, brushing the bottom one on the way back in. Pearl was a master at unselfconscious gestures of nervousness and pinned that one as such straight away, while instinctively turning to look at the door.

Exotic Face was standing framed in there, his pale, high-cheekboned features even more ethereal in the glimmering light of the crispy, snowy December midday. His eyes were stunning: Nature’s artistic hand swirling their lagoon-like electric blue-green with generosity and boldness both. They were fixed on Gorgeous, shining. It made Pearl distantly wonder whether Gorgeous was feeling uncomfortable, because Exotic Face was certainly staring as if it was his mission in life to prove everything Gorgeous had ever thought or said about him true.

Or as if he just couldn’t get enough of looking at Gorgeous. As an explanation it needed no effort to rein supreme.

Gorgeous walked to the door and Pearl busied herself with taking off the glove scraper. She was so close she’d probably hear them if they whispered. It wasn’t like they really noticed she was there, but while she was burning with curiosity she didn’t want to risk being caught eavesdropping like some pervert.

For a moment they just watched each other, their equal height—about twice Pearl’s or so it seemed—creating the peculiar impression that they were studying the other as if he was a life-sized exhibit of himself.

Exotic Face spoke first. “You look awful,” he told Gorgeous.

This morning when she’d met Exotic Face, that rumbling voice of his had had the same cool edge to it; it made Pearl just know that the guy didn’t often lie or told half-truths. (What he'd revealed about Ramon was proof of that. Exotic Face was lucky he wasn’t Black-eyed Face right now.)

Well, if this really was Gorgeous not looking at his best…God have mercy!

Gorgeous was standing almost with his back to Pearl so she had a view of about a quarter of his face. She could hear him very well, however, and if there was a contest where prizes were given for inconsistency between voice and words, Gorgeous would have won them all. He sounded rich and sweet and gruff all at once, as he replied to Exotic Face. “Sorry my looks offended you. Couldn’t catch my beauty sleep. Good to see you, too, by the way; don’t thank me or anything for getting up hungover at the crack of dawn just to drive down here to pick up your sorry ass…”

Gorgeous goggled a little, voice trailing off. Exotic Face had first roamed his animated features, his own reflecting the wonderment Gorgeous had had fluttering over his face earlier. Then Exotic Face had squinted and a thin line had appeared between his eyebrows—all in a matter of two seconds. Next thing Exotic Face was rolling his eyes and taking off the nice dark blue scarf from around his neck, then wrapping it around the other’s neck. That was the point at which silence had descended on them.

Pearl realized she’d stopped pretending she was doing anything else but watching the two guys.

Exotic Face stepped aside in silent invitation to his room. Gorgeous opened his mouth to say something, looked down at the scarf, managed to get cross-eyed, closed his mouth and looked back up to Exotic Face again.

Then just gazed at him. Light shivers were running up and down his body at random intervals but Pearl didn’t think Gorgeous noticed.

He suddenly huffed a soundless laugh. Exotic Face shuffled, eyes turning very self-conscious. “What?” he said and Pearl remembered that episode in the Big Bang Theory where the girls were saying British accent was the sexiest.

Gorgeous ran a hand over his mouth, the whole palm slowly dragging down, a small, bitter-sweet smile appearing at its wake. “Nothing,” he said, quiet-like. “I kinda, I forgot—I thought I remembered what you looked like, but man…” Gorgeous shook his head, diving into the room without looking at Exotic Face, who was doing plenty of looking for both. He gazed after Gorgeous with an odd expression, brow in a confounded frown yet eyes widened, almost bashful, then without looking away closed the door.

Pearl started her car and just sat in there for a while, glad to have to wait for the engine to warm up. She felt as if someone had rolled her in thick snow made of candy floss, her body shivery and her mind fuzzy.

-----------------------------------
A few visuals:

Chevy-impala

Relax-Inn-St-Robert-Exterior2
"A big classic car drove into the parking lot outside the row of motel rooms where Pearl’s was parked as well."

Dean 1
Gorgeous

tumblr_m37miwpOiE1qa83duo1_r1_500
Exotic Face

Chapter Text

Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 19:55:55
23-12-2013
Where are you?


Sender: S
Received: 19:56:31
23-12-2013
In an old American car on my way to some dull place in Texas.


Sender: S
Received: 19:57:21
23-12-2013
Correction. A classic American car. A 1967 Chevrolet Impala, to be exact. Apparently, I’m expected to be respectful when I talk about 'her'.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received:19:58:05
23-12-2013
The driver sounds like someone who is quite passionate.


Sender: S
Received: 19:58:21
23-12-2013
You would know.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 19:58:48
23-12-2013
And you still don’t? No first hand experience? Pun intended.


Sender: S
Received: 19:59:17
23-12-2013
Is there a point to this conversation?


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 19:59:59
23-12-2013
I was concerned about your well-being. I’m glad you’re in that classic car with that passionate driver. Quite a beauty.


Sender: S
Received: 20:00:27
23-12-2013
I'm fine.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:01:13
23-12-2013
Oh, I believe you! I stopped being concerned as soon as we established your whereabouts. Now I’m just trying to cater to my own needs. Come on. Give a girl something to think about.


Sender: S
Received: 20:01:49
23-12-2013
I’m sure there are plenty of other people whose personal life could provide you with food for thought. You’ve actually made a living out of it.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:02:35
23-12-2013
Yes, but this is purely pleasure, no business. They don’t interest me. You do.


Sender: S
Received: 20:03:07
23-12-2013
You are bored. You should have gone to Las Vegas.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:04:18
23-12-2013
When I believed I was going to be beheaded my last thought was of you. I’m not bored, Sherlock. I’m curious and excited. And perhaps a little envious.


Sender: S
Received: 20:06:01
23-12-2013
What would you like to know?


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:06:25
23-12-2013
Have you kissed?


Sender: S
Received: 20:06:40
23-12-2013
Yes.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:06:50
23-12-2013
When?


Sender: S
Received: 20:07:51
23-12-2013
Seven hours ago. I assume you were asking about the first time. Most recently forty-three minutes ago.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:08:24
23-12-2013
I’ll drop everything and come wherever you tell me for even the slimmest chance to have you. Just once.


Sender: S
Received: 20:09:21
23-12-2013
That wasn’t a question.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:10:15
23-12-2013
Did he kiss you first or you did?


Sender: S
Received: 20:11:09
23-12-2013
He did. Then I took the initiative, then he did. It was complicated.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:11:38
23-12-2013
No doubt. Was it a good kiss?


Sender: S
Received: 20:12:21
23-12-2013
I have no frame of reference.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:12:54
23-12-2013
I’ve kissed you. That is the only frame of reference you’ll ever need.


Sender: S
Received: 20:13:45
23-12-2013
And people call me arrogant. It was a very good kiss.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:14:14
23-12-2013
What is he doing right now by the way?


Sender: S
Received: 20:14:27
23-12-2013
Driving.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:14:54
23-12-2013
Isn’t he curious? We’ve been texting for a while.


Sender: S
Received: 20:16:05
23-12-2013
He knows it’s with you. I’m sure he must have made some comments I deleted. I've let him play his music and he seems happy to let me text.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:16:34
23-12-2013
How perfect. Is he touching you? Or looking at you?


Sender: S
Received: 20:17:11
23-12-2013
He is looking at me from time to time. I haven’t been able to establish a pattern. No touching.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:17:35
23-12-2013
Sensible or still processing. Or both.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:18:00
23-12-2013
Why are you telling me any of this?


Sender: S
Received: 20:18:21
23-12-2013
Because you asked.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:19:14
23-12-2013
Many people would ask if they only knew there were this kind of questions to be asked. Why are you telling ME?


Sender: S
Received: 20:22:41
23-12-2013
I trust you on these matters. And I was there. You did send your last words to me when you thought you would die, and I knew you wouldn’t. I remember a time when you sent me just your phone, no goodbye message. Then you knew you were alive and I didn’t. Perhaps I'm appreciating the difference.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:24:19
23-12-2013
That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.


Sender: S
Received: 20:24:44
23-12-2013
You should meet new people.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:25:15
23-12-2013
Does his mouth feel as gorgeous as it looks?


Sender: S
Received: 20:26:41
23-12-2013
His mouth is quite fine.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:26:59
23-12-2013
Tell me more about the kiss.


Sender: S
Received: 20:30:01
23-12-2013
I’ve been forbidden to talk about it.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:30:35
23-12-2013
I see. No longer content to drive and listen to his music. Is he outraged?


Sender: S
Received: 20:30:48
23-12-2013
He was, rather a lot.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:31:05
23-12-2013
Was he sexy?


Sender: S
Received: 20:32:11
23-12-2013
At present the only data I have is my own response to him in the situation. Not conclusive proof.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 20:55:55
23-12-2013
It’s enough for me. So? Sexy?


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:00:21
23-12-2013
You haven’t crashed the car, have you?


Sender: S
Received: 21:04:01
23-12-2013
No.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:04:35
23-12-2013
How long since you last kissed?


Sender: S
Received: 21:05:49
23-12-2013
Fifty seconds.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:06:05
23-12-2013
I hope he wasn’t driving.


Sender: S
Received: 21:06:51
23-12-2013
I asked him to stop the car first.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:07:26
23-12-2013
Has there been more than kissing? Am I allowed any more questions?


Sender: S
Received: 21:09:05
23-12-2013
You are. But not along the same line of questioning.


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:09:44
23-12-2013
I’ll check on you soon. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, Sherlock. How things change in a couple of years!


Sender: (no name) +1310448791
Received: 21:10:05
23-12-2013
Thank you for indulging me. And for your trust.


Sender: S
Received: 21:10:41
23-12-2013
Merry Christmas.

Chapter Text

Title: HSV (Hue, Saturation, Value)
Characters: OFC, Dean Winchester/Sherlock Holmes (Sam Winchester&John Watson friendship)
Wordcount: ~ 2,200
Beta: Unbeta'd. Apologies for any mistakes.
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Allusions to sexual intimacy.
Author's Notes: This entire project was a gift for the generous winner of my help_syria auction, the brilliant, kind frozen_delight. Thank you very much, everyone, for reading, commenting and for all the kudos! I hope you enjoyed Sherlock and Dean and their unexpected romance!♥

 

 

She spends over half a century in something akin to hibernation: a spirit already, she floats through the ether, her form often a mere consciousness. The world around her is no longer defined even as the blurred shapes and oblique colours that it used to be, but is a subdued echo of reality, barely heaving a breath once every half a decade.

Then one day there’s life in the vaults again.

Two men, Sam and Dean. They call themselves Hunters, but she recognizes them as Men of Letters. A man of letters lured her into the vaults in the first place, then did a ritual and left, thinking her gone for good. She wasn’t, just like she hadn’t really been lured. She had been saved. She found home. A place to keep her peaceful, away from the wretchedness of a world that had no mercy for her while she was still human, but a human like few others: a seer, a prophet, a witch, a shaman, a medium, a psychic, different, different…A world that then threatened to blot her out of her own self-awareness, drive her out of her ghostly mind. For after she passed away she found not rest, but a universe immense and overflowing with entities and voices, latching onto her, pulling her apart like fog disintegrating into the thinnest strands of mist.

Even as a spirit she was different, seeing them all, feeling their plight, their confusion and purposelessness. She was a conduit without any power or any control.

The vaults were bliss.

They were sealed and populated by only a handful of people at a time. Occasionally there were other creatures, too, including immaterial ones like her but it wasn’t even an itch to encounter them. When the Men of Letters left, the quiet descended and she hibernated until the two men arrived.

She doesn’t mind Sam and Dean. They call themselves brothers, but she recognizes them as a pair of Bound for Eternity. They are human now, in this imperfect reincarnation that has them entirely separated, takes away so much from their oneness, making them writhe and suffer throughout their journey even more: once for themselves, once for their Eternal.

But the human form, it gives them a thing or two in turn. It gives her something as well: her bliss, unaffected. As humans Sam and Dean can’t perceive her, so she continues to roam, undisturbed, soul chiming like a gentle bell in a cathedral. All the while the brothers talk, sleep, laugh, fight, love and hurt, their emotions, thoughts and dreams like fireflies: sometimes just the one, sometimes a few, sometimes a swarm.

Most of the time Sam and Dean are just colours and energies anyway. That’s all her. That is how the world has always come to her, no matter her reincarnation.

***

The vaults are covered by a quilt made of patches of rainbow and she dances with it all for the first time in over a hundred years. Because it’s all for her to be in it, while nothing is asked of her—the colours, they mix by themselves because the four men have each other.

But first they get together.

Sam has been sick. He's been exuding more of that listless ash-grey mingled with the terminal mud-black. Sam is dying, his body the vessel for an energy as destructive as it is divine. Sam…Sam manages to make her stop sometimes with how much has happened and keeps happening to him: body, mind, and soul.

Sam has been sick and Sam is dying but one day she sees a glow around him, the colour of milk mixed with melting silver. It starts as a faint outline a week before Christmas then grows consistently, until one day it bursts into full maturity. It’s the moment the first newcomer, John, walks into the vaults behind Dean. Sam looks up to his Eternal and John, smiles and for a few moments the glow shrouds him completely.

John brings in the air of city and solidity. There is nothing murky about him; she follows him around for a while, closer than she’s been to either of the brothers. The clear ones are the safest. Even when they used to perceive her, they rarely demanded anything from her.

There is a whole palette of colours about John, the spectrum filled with subtle shades. It’s rare to see such variety on someone who also has such straightforward, strong energy. In some ways it reminds her of Dean’s energy, but Dean’s palette has fewer colours and often only one or two take over across the board, their saturation close to overwhelming.

Sam and John move through the bunker close to one another, yet also leave each other space, both responding on instinct to the other’s call regardless of whether it is to come nearer or retreat further. They eat, drink coffees and teas and alcohol, watch TV, talk or read in silence, all the while the calm, secure vibe of their kind of together filling up the space, reaching to the quietest, darkest corners of the vault. John has his own Sam glow as well; even the shading is similar to Sam’s.

For a while Dean is just reds and purples, tinted with black. She finds the colours beautiful to watch, but doesn’t want to let them discharge close to her, avoids even a brush with them. Dean moves like a tormented shadow, drinking, aching with worry for his Eternal and pining for someone else. An absent stranger she can feel in the vaults through the other three, mostly Dean and John. John has a deep imprint of that stranger on him. He knows about the imprint, accepts it and relishes it, never losing even a fraction of himself because of it.

One early morning Dean leaves again, colours flickering all over him: anxious, sickening lime, exuberant magenta and confused iridescent white. Alone, Sam and John exude light and warmth enough to reach the other even when he isn’t in the same room. She curls above their heads like a cat, sinking into the secure restfulness that blankets them everywhere they go.

***

When Dean returns with the stranger, for a few moments she fears she will disintegrate, such is the power of the reminder of what it was like to have a body. A cacophony of colour splashes all around Dean and the last piece of the puzzle, Sherlock. Sherlock’s energy is brilliant. He is a diamond cut so intricately that it becomes light itself, perpetually refracting. There are musical trills around him, too, that resonate with John. She can’t tell with certainty and it would be too rare to have two pairs of them anyway but John and Sherlock may also be bound.

Only when the four of them come together she manages to catch a glimpse of it: that unique, haunted silver onyx. Two of them have an appointment with Death in their near future; three of them have already been dead. But their own colours are so many, some of them so intense, the silver onyx soon disperses when they are together.

Dean is fire around Sherlock. He is a flame licking crystal clear ice but still Sherlock moves closer, keeps melting. Their energies ripple together, swallow each other, even repel each other for a moment or two, before their need draws them back again. Their synergy is astounding.

After Sherlock and Dean arrive they part for a moment. When they return to the common space clean mist is evaporating from their washed bodies and refreshed spirits. Their energies lock lips immediately. No matter how far they sit from each other or what words they exchange, the space between them is always charged, multi-coloured sparks flying everywhere.

She suddenly wishes the four of them could watch the sparks with her.

Sherlock is tightness itself: shirt, trousers, lean muscle, tendons on his neck. She finds herself hypnotized by his movements, sees nothing but the button on the waist of his trousers at the front and the two semi-globes of flesh at the back. She is overpowered by the craving to touch him. It frightens her, confuses her until she manages to tear herself away and discovers that she’s floated too close to Dean.

She flicks over to Sherlock and now it’s Dean who comes into stark focus. Sherlock breathes in and Dean is a mesmerising, confounding mystery. Sherlock exhales and Dean is a giddying desire; he is throbbing, he is pulsation; the rush of blood in Sherlock’s body, utterly new but unmistakable. Hungry.

In a haze that evokes the vaguest memory of intoxication, she finds it hard to keep up with the world and the construct of its dimensions. First she becomes Dean, walking away to the kitchen. Next she is Sherlock following him. Then she is both of their mouths, supple and eager. She is the cool metal of the fridge door behind Sherlock’s back and the perfect symmetry of Sherlock’s collarbone under Dean’s gliding fingers.

Their whispers, rumblings and utterances become a musical piece that she is certain will have its notes etched into the walls of every space and crevice the two of them touch.

“What do you want? Did he…Did you and Victor...?”

“No.”

“Oh, thank fuck.”

Charming. But I…appreciate…the sentiment.”

“Why did you leave?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

(A dim, sepia coloured scene—Sherlock’s memory. Sherlock in another space with another man, sitting next to each other on a leather sofa. The man’s fingers resting against the pulse point on Sherlock’s neck. One word appearing again and again around Sherlock until there are tens of them floating in the air: Wrong!

Now here is Dean, face captivated by the skin on Sherlock’s throat, nose pressed against that same pulse point and only the exclamation marks pop into existence, dozens of them, circling Sherlock's head.)

“I missed you, and your craziness… and your stupid face.”

“I could smell you…everywhere. It was…so distracting. I studied your dead skin cells…under a microscope...took your pillow-case from Mrs Hudson...”

“Jesus wept, you…weirdo. Why?”

“To see if there was anything…unusual…that made me smell you all the time.”

“I didn’t get the jacket cleaned…because it smelled of you. I want to take you to bed, God, come on, come on, man, I’m…dying here. What do you…do you want? We’ll go slow or…if you…What do you want?”

“Everything.”

“Yeah…of course, what was I thinking? God, you smell…so fucking good. I want to lick you all over…and your goddamn mouth…I want to—”

“Will you be…narrating all the time? Multitasking clearly…isn’t your forte…otherwise you would have taken me…to bed already.”

“God, you drive me crazy, you snarky...son of a bitch. I want—I’m ready to pound nails, come on!”

Bedroom, wall, Dean’s fingers undoing buttons, tugging Sherlock’s shirt out of his trousers and opening it: two curtains revealing a magnificent stage. She swims into Dean and becomes his hands dancing over that stage, having their fill of pale skin and delicately shaped muscle, one palm gliding down over soft hair. (‘Happy trail’ floats through Dean’s semi-conscious; something she hasn’t heard before but understands straight away.) The other hand is undoing that maddening button and freeing space for Dean to continue on his happy trail quest, dive further down and close his hand around—

She ejects herself from him under the surge of his insecurity and want but her sense of self is lost again—she slams herself straight into Sherlock and is now his concave stomach, his dry throat, his hips pressing against a touch so quenching that it obliterates everything else but the need that precedes it.

Panting, murmuring, shifting; sinking down into the bed. Sherlock’s thighs fall open then envelop Dean’s hips, and she is trapped between these two men, so incredibly different, so mysteriously fitting, so utterly human both.

Dean’s passion is carmine red but his carefulness creates an amber outline with a golden edge that shimmers as he settles, mutters to Sherlock and makes love to his mouth. She is Dean’s right hand, buried in the squeaky clean, silky curls on top of Sherlock’s head, palm splayed wide open; but she is also the pressure and heat of Dean’s touch there, centring Sherlock and giving him a boundary, a sense of being halted; contained and claimed.

She becomes a sun-kissed grass blade, droplets of dew beginning to form on it, one on top of the other: Dean’s hips bearing down and rolling; Sherlock’s hand sliding up between Dean’s shoulder blades, cupping the back of Dean’s neck; Sherlock’s hips bearing up and rolling; Dean’s fingers digging in a little, crazed, then loving, bracketing Sherlock’s face; their gasps and pressing foreheads; their eyes, fluttering closed, their eyebrows knitting, their eyes snapping back open to see, watch, connect. Lips and tongues, press and roll, press and roll, slip and slide, kiss, breathe, kiss. Desperate droplets of pleasure, tiny transparent pearls that build on top of each other...

Until there is one too much. The universe suspends for an instant and the blade groans, then the first droplet detaches and free-falls. The rest are tumbling after, spilling into a whole field of grass that has turned dark, alive, and boundless under the starlit dome of night.

She is trapped, but freer than ever. She wishes that she stayed here with these two in their glowing hearth, while the other two’s strong, harmonious dove grey cocoons them all. She wishes they all stayed.

So do they.

Chapter Text

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:11:35
08-11-2014
Any news on your brother?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:12:00
11-08-2014
No


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:12:25
08-11-2014
Is this a good time?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:12:57
11-08-2014
No. But you’re like the only person I’ll talk to right now


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:13:35
08-11-2014
Would you prefer to actually talk?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:14:01
11-08-2014
No. And I know you hate it


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:14:36
08-11-2014
I don’t hate it. I’ll bear it if I must. Shall I call?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:15:24
11-08-2014
No. I prefer this now too, you’ve trained me like a goddamn monkey. Listen, I want to say sorry about the other day. It wasn’t even anything you said. For a change! I was a fucking mess, but I shouldn’t have gone all King Kong on you. I’m sorry.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:15:55
08-11-2014
I’m familiar with you. No offence taken.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:16:38
11-08-2014
Thanks. For not judging as well, cuz I figured you weren’t. Too little too late, but wanted to say


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:17:05
08-11-2014
Obviously not too late if we’re having this conversation. You should have told me earlier.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:17:33
11-08-2014
I know, I know. I got issues, alright?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:18:05
08-11-2014
Yes, you do. And yes, it’s all right. But do try next time. It’s tedious to have to wait you out to share at your own time.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:18:38
11-08-2014
Have you been reading blogs with advice on relationships again? What did we learn from the gifts incident?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:19:25
08-11-2014
You are changing the subject. If you can’t trust me—which I understand has a psychological element to it—just exercise some intelligence. Why would I be judging? You were operating under extremely tight time constraints. It was a matter of life and death for Sam. You did the only thing available to you at the time. Your actions were completely logical.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:20:30
11-08-2014
I miss you so much sometimes, it’s not even funny


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:21:35
08-11-2014
I’ve never understood that expression. Are you saying that because you are being emotional?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:21:57
11-08-2014
Screw you!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:22:55
08-11-2014
Oh good. In that case I have a question. Clearly I won't be of much practical assistance with your brother when the time comes and I know you are and will be very busy. But I was wondering if you would mind my company at present. I might be able to be of some use.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:23:19
11-08-2014
How can you ask me that?? Of course I want you here, genius. Like, I really do


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:23:45
08-11-2014
Good. I have British Airways open in my browser.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:24:17
11-08-2014
Hang on! Just realized, wedding was today


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:24:29
08-11-2014
Yes.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:24:58
11-08-2014
Is it over already? Is everything alright? Did it go well?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:25:35
08-11-2014
Everything’s fine. It went well. John was happy, so yes. There was an attempted murder. People cried during my speech, some of them rather vocally. They didn’t laugh when I thought they would. It was very confusing.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:25:59
11-08-2014
Of course there was an attempted murder. Was it on you?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:26:35
08-11-2014
If you’re smiling do I get points? John’s old commander.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:27:02
11-08-2014
Twenty points. You prevented it?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:27:15
08-11-2014
I prevented it.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:27:47
11-08-2014
That’s my boy. And good for you for making people weep, man. I’m proud of you.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:28:03
08-11-2014
Joke?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:28:17
11-08-2014
Totally serious.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:28:55
08-11-2014
Oh. Usually no one is happy with me when I make people cry.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:29:21
11-08-2014
You booking your ticket?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:29:45
08-11-2014
Doing it as we speak.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:30:14
11-08-2014
So why aren’t you at the wedding making everyone’s night memorable for all kinds of disturbing reasons?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:30:29
08-11-2014
Who says I’m not?


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:30:57
11-08-2014
I’m familiar with you.


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:31:11
08-11-2014
I left.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:31:24
11-08-2014
Points!


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:31:40
08-11-2014
Fine. Twenty.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:32:07
11-08-2014
No, fifty. That was a freaking massive obvious! Why did you leave?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:32:39
08-11-2014
I didn’t want to be there anymore. And before you ask, that doesn’t count for points.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:23:06
11-08-2014
I wasn’t going to count it. You ok?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:23:25
08-11-2014
I am now.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:23:38
11-08-2014
Good.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:24:00
11-08-2014
Fuck, did John buy it? Why we can’t be there? Sorry I’m still not thinking straight


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:24:35
08-11-2014
I took care of it. John is happily married and oblivious, looking forward to a night and two weeks of socially approved copulation.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:25:09
11-08-2014
I’m happy for him.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:25:28
11-08-2014
You booked yet?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:25:46
10-31-2013
Almost.


Sender: Dean (US mobile)
Received: 20:26:08
11-08-2014
Earliest possible, right?


Sender: Sherlock
Received: 14:26:22
08-11-2014
How can you ask me that??

Chapter Text

Dean took quiet pride in the fact that he had come upon many a startling sight in his life and always managed to keep it cool. (He paid no attention to the petty souls that didn’t believe him or refused to be impressed.) Those sights varied from gore and blood splatter to seventeen people having sex—Dean later made enquiries as to the exact number—to that ghost that was eerie even by ghostly standards; the one who had only his dentures floating around in the air for several seconds before his face and then his body slowly materialized around it as if made by thin wisps of smoke. Sam kept mysteriously calling him ‘the ghost from Alice in Wonderland’, but Dean didn’t get that reference. He rarely failed to comment that Sam’s ability to quote from the book was almost as creepy as the illustrations in the book itself that Dean had had the misfortune to come across once, after fighting off some damn energetic sprites in an enchanted bookstore.

None of these sights had made Dean bat an eyelid, in his modest opinion. Okay, he might have raised an eyebrow once or twice, but that was all he was prepared to admit. In addition, he thought he’d resigned himself to the fact that Sherlock Holmes existed beyond anything and everything that could be reasonably expected from this realm and the other. Yet despite all that, he walked into the living room of 221B—

Okay, first things first. Mrs. Hudson had laid down some rules about the acceptable ways to show up under her roof and that included ringing the doorbell or arriving at the landing, then walking in, preferably after knocking on the door. These rules had been put in place after her favorite teapot—a gift from John, apparently, as Dean had been reminded more times than he cared about—had met its maker, or rather the very un-holy-spirit-like, hard floor of Baker Street’s kitchen. This in turn was thanks to Castiel once transporting Dean from Nova Scotia right into 221B’s kitchen in a matter of a second, his angelic powers enough to make the trip but not enough to give a fair warning to those present at the point of arrival. Mrs. Hudson’s hands had been soapy while holding the pot, which Dean felt made her accusations and law-laying kind of unfair, but he respected the lady and wanted to have at least one person in the household with whom he was on unfailingly good terms.

So, Cas delivered Dean onto the landing and Dean walked into Baker Street’s living room like the awesome, agreeable guy that he was, calling out his ‘Hey’…Then stopped in his tracks, goggling against all of his past experience and better judgment.

“What the hell?” he asked the back of the top half of Sherlock’s head after his eyes returned to their sockets together with some gratitude to the universe after all—at least no one had seen Dean lose his cool, and no one needed to know, either.

A few curls bounced merrily at the sound of Dean’s voice and the whole of Sherlock’s head showed up. Sherlock appeared to be sitting on the floor. He now turned around, eyes shining and lips stretched out into a smile that would have been disturbing if it wasn’t so damn sincere.

“Hello,” Sherlock said after they stopped gazing at each other. He was still mostly a face, his smile unwavering.

“You look like something from Alice in Wonderland,” Dean informed him in a manner of greeting.

Sherlock’s smile dimmed a little. “I don’t understand that reference,” he said, and Dean decided that it was high time he kissed his boyfriend.

Trouble was, he had to get to him first.

A third of the living room was full of rose petals and Sherlock was buried in them, in actual layers upon layers upon freaking layers of rose petals, mostly pink but in other colors, too. They filled the room as if it was a part of a small dollhouse that some little girl—with a crazy mother who dressed her daughter only in pink and made the poor thing wear dresses with lace—had used as a storage space for all the petals of the roses in their garden. Only this was a son-of-a-bitch actual life-size house.

A sea of rose petals came to mind.  When Dean had opened the door some of them had spilled out into the landing and he was now ankle deep in them. His boots would soak up the smell probably. He himself felt a little woozy already so his lungs were definitely soaking up the smell. He cast his gaze around the room for a double check only to establish that his first assessment had been correct: the petals were every-fucking-where, most of the furniture buried under them and that included all of the available seating places.

Amidst the pink Sherlock’s head was sticking out, his expression a little smug but mostly bearing that incongruous brand of innocence directed at the world—in this case at Dean—in expectation. Of what, Dean could never quite fathom. It was disarming and meaningful and thrilling all at once.

Yep, definitely time to kiss his boyfriend.

He began making his way through the layers, their disturbance making fragrances immediately claim the air even more. Sherlock kept looking at him without shifting; Dean wondered whether he’d been practicing how long he could hold his breath under…well, underpetals.

Thankfully movement wasn’t too difficult, but it required some effort—the damn things were dense.

“What the hell?” Dean insisted. He’d always believed that once you found the important questions, you got to keep asking them. He kept pushing forward, scooping out rose petals, only to have others come down in their place with the barest rustling sound.

A small line appeared between Sherlock's eyebrows and his smile was no more. Dean counted it as a win that the line wasn’t of the ‘I shall have to consult a mental health specialist on account of my choice of boyfriend’ variety.

“Am I supposed to figure this out?” Dean asked, pushing more. Sherlock continued to be disembodied. His face was a pretty nice shade, though, probably because of the all that pink around it, so Dean couldn’t complain.

At last he arrived at his destination. He stopped, eyes meeting Sherlock’s upturned ones. If he’d thought the pink was doing Sherlock skin a favor, it was only because he hadn’t seen yet how vibrant and multi-dimensional it turned the green of Sherlock’s irises, which in turn made the slant of his eyes even more pronounced.

Dean reached out and let his fingers dive into Sherlock’s hair by his right temple.

“Hey,” he said more quietly, his voice turning deeper.

Sherlock blinked a couple of times in quick succession, head tilting a little into the touch. His lips parted for either a greeting or a deadpan comment on the lack of necessity for saying hello more than once, but Dean couldn’t wait to find out which one it was. He bent over and kissed Sherlock, let his mouth dwell on what he imagined was still softer than the silkiest petals around them.

He pulled back a little, speaking against Sherlock’s lips. “Is this a nice surprise, like, you’re naked under there or…? Oh, fuck, are you hiding a rotting body? You know you can’t kill that smell, dude.”

Sherlock’s exaggerated sigh of despair didn’t feel half as annoying so close to Dean’s mouth. “If I ever killed anyone, no one would find the body.” Sherlock paused. “No one would know there was a body,” he added.

Dean straightened up at last, his fingers trailing out of Sherlock’s curls as a reluctant afterthought. “I gotta tell you, that doesn’t sound as reassuring as you think.” He surveyed his environment, less carefully than before. Seeing Sherlock after three weeks and in a room that smelled like something people would pay thousands of dollars to roll around in didn’t spell out the heightening of Dean’s focus.

Instead of saying something to unveil this mystery at last, Sherlock extended his right hand to Dean. Dean grabbed it and hauled Sherlock out of his literal flower bath. Sherlock seemed a little disoriented—head rush from the sudden movement?—but he was quickly flicking away any stray decorations on his bright pink shirt and dark trousers. Some petals were still clinging tightly to him, though, just as his clothes were. Dean begrudged both petals and clothes a little, although as a whole he heartily approved of Sherlock’s views on how fitted a consulting detective’s clothes should be on his figure.

They were standing face to face now, their equal height and their closeness meaning it was more like nose to nose.

“All right,” Dean said. “Did you stop to think about how long it’d take us to get to the bedroom now?”

“Of course not.”

“Of course not,” Dean parroted with only a little snark. His eyes fell on Sherlock’s mouth again. It was right there, where else was Dean supposed to look? All that other pink was starting to give him a headache.

“I guess we can do it in here,” he told Sherlock with a hopeful expression, then an amusing thought occurred to him. “Hey, do you think it’s going to be like getting sand in funny places? You know.” Dean wriggled his eyebrows for emphasis.

Sherlock frowned at him. “What funny places? Like halls of mirrors? Why would they get sand there?”

“What? No, I’m talking about the beach, virgin boy.”

“Thanks to your considerable effort I am no longer a virgin. What beach?”

“The beach where people have sex. And you’re welcome.”

“I wasn’t aware I had thanked you. There is a special beach where people have sex?”

A clearing of a throat floated from the living room door, saving Dean from making the tough choice between tackling Sherlock to what looked like it’d be a great bed or throwing his arms in the air and asking Sherlock if he knew any good mental health specialists. For Dean. To examine his choices.

“Is Sam with you?” John Watson asked, and Dean smarted a little.

“Oh hi, John. Good to see you too,” he retorted, in no way childishly. He did not appreciate the little twitch of John’s mouth or the way his eyes shot to Sherlock before returning back to Dean.

“Sorry,” John said. “Hi. Um, so is he? Sam, I mean. With you.”

“No.” Dean was never okay being half a world away from Sam, but in this case he regretted Sam’s choice to stay in the bunker and read more than ever—this floral insanity seemed like the kind of thing that would make Sam’s encyclopedia head open right on its weirdest chapter and spit out some explanation. Which Sam would deliver with a matter-of-fact demeanor, of course, and John would look kind of impressed and smile at Sam, and Sherlock would roll his eyes again, then say a clipped, “Yes,” to confirm Sam was right.

In this Sam-less reality, Dean had a question for John. “Weren’t you supposed to be on vacation? On some island?”

“Oh. Change of plan. There was a double booking on the first flight out.”

“Man, that sucks.”

John nodded empathically. “They offered another flight on the next day, but then they want you to pay extra for the connecting one, because—”

The most subtly arrogant, bored tone on the planet cut off the exchange. “Yes, quite,” Sherlock said. “Airlines and their policies, it must be the end of the world not to get a severe sunburn and have your tongue turn all sorts of ridiculous colors from drinking cocktails with even more ridiculous nam—Oh!” Sherlock looked at Dean exulted. “Sex on the beach!”

“We gotta leave this room first,” Dean told him, then turned back to John. “Do I want to know about this?” he indicated around the room.

“Hang on,” John said. “I was coming up to say that they’ll be collecting the petals an hour earlier.” John was addressing Sherlock with his head tipped a little to see him around Dean. “Your brother’s been calling you. Where's your phone?”

Sherlock made a vague gesture in the general direction of the fireplace. There was a hint of a sulk blooming on his face.

“All right,” Dean said, running a hand over his face. “For the second time—what the hell?”

“Third time,” Sherlock said.

“Dude, don’t even…” Dean shook his head, turning to John. “Just tell me, okay? I’ve been here for ten minutes and I’m already thinking of checking myself into a hotel on some tropical island for like a week. What's going on? Is this some experiment about how long a corpse will last buried in flowers before it stinks up the joint?”

John’s eyes flickered to Sherlock. In his peripheral vision Dean caught Sherlock's light shrug. John spoke with some hesitation. “Last time you argued...Do you remember what you told him?”

Dean squinted at John, confused. “We argue all the time. How the hell am I supposed to remember when that was or what I said. Why?”

John’s face turned both a little colder and a little older; the latter much like it would be on a man who wasn’t too eager to revisit an argument he must have had about ten times already. “Well, you should try to remember or at least be more careful about what you are saying. He claims…” John suddenly lifted a warning finger, eyes trained behind Dean’s shoulder. “Don’t! Fine.” John’s attention returned to Dean. “He heard you say to him that you knew he would be bad at this, and you didn’t expect to—”

“You didn’t expect us to lie on a canopy of freaking rose petals and hold hands,” Sherlock’s rumble took over, flat and quiet, the words clicking in Dean’s mind and releasing a vague memory, “but you expected at least a phone call from time to time to show some signs of freaking life or that I cared. Or something.”

The silence that followed seemed to encourage the scents to spread out like some stupid melancholic music.

Dean scratched his neck. “So this is what? An apology?”

Sherlock shook his head, a stray petal flipping in the air twice before landing on his shoulder. “No.”

Behind him Dean heard John retreating down the stairs.

“I thought about what you said," Sherlock continued, "and it seemed logical that the most certain way to settle the matter once and for all was to go for the highest stakes. You stated clearly that you considered this to be the act to serve as indisputable evidence of my…” Sherlock hesitated before saying the word crisply, “care. So I decided to skip calling you at regular intervals and do this instead.” Sherlock’s hands slid into his trouser pockets and he seemed to rock on his heels a little, judging by the flicks of color Dean caught with his peripheral vision in the vicinity of Sherlock’s knees—petals, liberated again by motion.

Dean wanted to say, ‘Is that why you didn’t call me for three weeks? Thank fuck you text at least, but I still miss your voice, you dumbass.’ He wanted to sit down even if it meant that his ass might fall through a bit. He wanted to tell Sherlock that he was the one who should apologize, and that his mouth ran its own business independent of Dean’s brain every other day, so Sherlock should definitely ignore it just as much as Dean was learning to ignore Sherlock's from time to time.

All Dean did was lick his lips and nod quite a few times. Sherlock was perfectly immobile again, his glistening, intense eyes trained on Dean. He seemed like a magnificent bird that had landed on nature’s most luxurious canopy—a fitting setting for a one-of-a-kind creature, one Dean was miraculously allowed to come close to and touch, stroke it and take it apart, then put it back together; even have it follow him.

Dean cleared his throat and surreptitiously wiped his right hand on his thigh before extending it, palm up. “So, ah. You…want to lie down and hold hands or something?”

Chapter Text

The road is dark and uneventful; a long sheet of paper over which the tracks of the Impala are like two weary straight crayon lines. Dean keeps driving. What he left behind still feels too close for him to be thinking about where he’s going.

The drizzle turned to rain, plain and continuous; then wind, and the stars came out in big patches of sky. The front window stayed clear for a while. Now the droplets are back. Dean doesn’t do anything about them. The world will keep coming through regardless of whether Dean Winchester has goddamn visibility or not.

***

Ten miles after Dean narrowly misses the doe he gets signal. He drives for another minute before pulling over so abruptly, a stranger might think it was done on a whim. If there were strangers in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere. It’s like feedback from the Universe. ‘Got it? No more letting anyone get involved with you. ‘bout time, Winchester, took you long enough.’

Dean gazes at his phone, his unbelievably swanky phone that he’s managed to keep without a scratch for four months.

He ends up coming out of the car for the call.

***

“Hey, it’s me. Listen. [pause] Actually, I don’t know how to say this. I was kinda hopin’ you won’t pick up, but now. [pause] It’d’ve been good to hear your voice, even if this is easier. [pause] It ain’t easy. I know I’m not making any sense, you probably—Don’t matter. [pause] Alright, I’m gonna make this quick. Sam's back. He’s alright, he's good. He’s safe, it’s over. [pause] So is this. I meant what I've said, we’ll get you out of your deal. But this thing between us, I gotta. [pause] We go our separate ways. It’s for the best, trust me. [pause] I’m sorry.”

Chapter Text

John looks up from his crossword when the stillness across from him makes him realize just how quiet the room has turned.

Sherlock is still holding his phone pressed to his ear, gaze keeping to a perfectly horizontal, straight trajectory. The fact that he starts and blinks a few times in quick succession doesn’t put John at ease; on the contrary, it makes him vaguely wish for the frozen stare ahead.

“Sherlock,” he says. “Is everything okay?” Sherlock has just lowered the phone. He’s followed it with his eyes all the way down to his lap where the display is still glowing in the cradle of his palm.

At the question, a pair of wide open sea green eyes jumps to John’s face, then Sherlock unfolds himself up from his chair and is by the window behind it in one fluid motion. He stands with his back to John, a dark shape against the bright light streaming in.

“What’s going on?” John asks, putting the paper on the little table by his chair and straightening up a little.

For a moment Sherlock is silent, for all intents and purposes in a world of his own, even if John can’t see his face. Then he speaks.

“I believe Dean just broke up with me.” Sherlock’s voice has a little intrigued lilt to it, as if so far he’s taken the phenomenon as something of a myth.

John regards his admirably straight back and offers a tentative contribution, ignoring its lack of priority at present. “I thought you weren’t ‘together together’. You’ve spent the last…eight months? Yeah, eight months, correcting everyone on that.”

Sherlock half turns, the familiar endearing line of confusion between his eyebrows.

John waits for him for a beat, before clarifying. “You do know that in order for people to break up they need to be together first?”

Sherlock hums distractedly in affirmative, while simultaneously shaking his head to negate. He turns his back to John again, hands going into his trousers pockets. John keeps silent, out of experience and what feels like the wisdom of old age.

His eyes have adjusted to the light and can now distinguish the white of the back of Sherlock’s neck, framed between his suit collar and his loose curls. John saw Dean press his lips there once, when he didn’t know John was there. A sudden kiss—John hadn’t heard any talk and walked in thinking there was no one in the living room—a greedy kiss, too, was John’s impression; a kiss followed by a quick, playful, yet equally greedy bite.

John pointedly blinks the memory away and clears his throat. “What…?” he begins and stops immediately, hesitating for a moment about his place to ask questions. Another voice in his head tells his rigid frame of appropriateness to sod off, and John looks up to Sherlock’s hushed figure. “What are you going to do?”

Sherlock turns around, taking a few steps forward absently. He doesn’t meet John's eyes, but turns his head towards the mirror above the fireplace, instead, gaze unblinking and unfocused.

Apprehension blooms in John’s chest, but before he’s had the chance to say or do anything more, or even consider what could be said or done, Sherlock turns his head sharply to the other side, his lips in a thoughtful, yet decisive pout. He hums again and runs his hands over the front of his suit jacket, the motions unselfconscious and brisk. The tip of his tongue makes an appearance over the spot on his bottom lip, a bit to the right from the centre, currently worried by his teeth. For a moment John isn’t sure whether Sherlock even remembers John’s in the room, but then Sherlock looks at him.

“I’m going to go to my boyfriend and talk to him,” he says.

John’s eyebrows lift at this amazing display of plain sensibility, while his own lips part on their own volition—he feels a little overcome by the event of numerous verbal and electronic exchanges and countless looks and touches, all of which so far existing in a state of fragmentation, abruptly morphing into a wholesome reality through one simple sentence.

Oblivious, Sherlock continues in response to whatever he must be seeing on John’s face. “Isn’t that what people do in such cases?” His tone is confident, a touch flippant. “Communicate?” He enunciates the word, his teeth flashing with the effort. It further informs John on the pitiful levels of Sherlock’s assuredness on what people actually do in such cases.

“Yes,” John tells him kindly. “Can I ask what, ah…I mean, you just came back from there. Did you two have some sort of a…” John just shakes his head at Sherlock questioningly in lieu of finishing his sentence. A substantial part of him is busy flailing at the absurdity of having a conversation with Sherlock Holmes about a lovers’ tiff including him, Sherlock. For real.

Evidently, John isn’t the only one struggling. True to form, Sherlock’s discomfort comes out as fond hauteur. “Please. What do you imagine Dean and I do when we are alone together? Re-enact scenes from Mills and Boon?”

John isn’t even going to question in what part of Sherlock’s hard drive the publishing phenomenon of Mills&Boon and their romance paperbacks has been saved as an entry. He’s sure the answer has something to do with some alarming statistics. What John would gladly tell Sherlock, if he didn’t have a moderately well functioning censorship on his mouth, is that he’s grateful to the very well functioning censorship on his brain for preventing him from imagining exactly what it is that his friends do when they’re alone with their lovers.

“It was fine,” Sherlock continues, unenlightened. He rolls his eyes. “As fine as it can be with someone whose entire existence is riddled by feelings and emotions; and God,” Sherlock moans the word, “all the guilt.”

He looks away from John for a split second, but there’s no missing it. Not for the first time in the last week John has a very peculiar feeling; as if there was a page missing from his newspaper on one particular day, only John didn’t notice at the time, can’t say what day it was exactly, and has since recycled all the old papers. He really should call Sam later, actually call him, no texting; check if everything’s all right. For now he presses with the matter at hand.

“So you didn’t expect this?” he asks Sherlock, careful. “Are you…? Don’t start, just...Are you upset?”

Sherlock contemplates him without much focus on John’s actual face. “No,” he says at length slowly. “Although I wonder if I should…” His voice trails off.

John sighs inwardly. He isn’t even sure which question Sherlock’s answering. Now that Dean has its official title, even if it’s currently prefixed by an ‘ex’, John will have to establish some new rules. The past ten months, while not leaving space for boredom, have also been a bit of a mine field, both before and after Sherlock and Dean got together. Now things are out in the open, John will put his foot down. He’s sure Sam will back him up. Rule number one: no more mysteriousness and especially no more drama that comes with very few pointers. Sherlock's been...well. John privately labelled Baker Street ‘The Zoo’ some time ago, because he never knows what creature he’ll find living there at any moment. Sometimes it’s a neurotic Chihuahua, sometimes a languid cat, sometimes a rabid parrot and sometimes, the living embodiment of one particular depressed little donkey, familiar to adults all over the world thanks to a beloved children's book.

If John didn't have Sam to supply him with pieces of the puzzle from the other end, especially at the start, he’d have ended up with vertigo and a possible manslaughter charge to his name.

“Sherlock,” John now addresses his friend, who is still gazing at him, mind clearly miles away. Five thousand miles away, probably. “Sherlock, you need to think about what you’re going to tell him. You know, before opening your mouth.” John congratulates himself on his delicacy of verbal expression.

The endearing frown appears again. “I know exactly what I’m going to tell him.”

“Care to share?”

“Yes. I’ll tell him that he is stupid and irrational, and has no sense of proportion. And that he’s unreasonable.”

John opens his mouth with a sharp intake of breath—then stays like that, silent. Sherlock’s face is so human, so void of any facetiousness, arrogance or insincerity, it drives home to John the very clear distinction between offering helpful advice and interfering. This relationship is one where for all their supreme peculiarities as individuals and for all the exhausting challenges of their circumstances, the two people have found a way of being together like nobody’s business. They don’t need John’s interference. John has never confused The Zoo with confinement. The Zoo has meant all of Sherlock’s facets having a free outing, regularly, much to Sherlock’s benefit. All thanks to Dean Winchester.

John gives Sherlock a firm nod. “Good,” he says. “Let me know how it goes.”

Chapter Text

To: Sherlock
Missed call: Dean (US)
02-10-2014 22:41:00

Voicemail: “Hey, it’s me. [pause] I know we haven’t spoken in a while. I just…We—ah, Sam and I, we worked this job today. It was actually a case, your kind of case—not a ghost, not a monster, well, not our kind of monster. Just some freaking psychos, man. People. Some very, very human crazy people who killed an innocent girl and—and a couple of other guys, ‘cuz they were pissed at them. [pause] It made me think of what you do; how it’s your job. [pause] That’s what you do, day in, day out, been doing it all this time. [pause] I don’t know. [pause] I don’t know what freaks me out more: that you—that this is what you have to deal with all the time, or that you…you, you deal with it, you know? Like, it doesn’t drive you nuts. [pause] I guess that’d be driving you more nuts, and I don’t think any of us will ever want to see that happen. [pause] Um, okay. That was not where I was going. I don’t know where I was going. [pause] I hope you’re all right.”

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 19:59:19
10-02-2014
Our ability to distance ourselves in our respective jobs makes us exceptionally good at what we do.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:01:02
03-10-2014
Distance means that part of you cares, so you have to distance yourself. That the case for you?

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:01:54
10-02-2014
Once again you hold the answer to your own questions, yet you persist in being blind. I’ve forgotten how irritating that is.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:03:49
03-10-2014
Yeah well, I don’t know what you’re talking about but sounds to me like I hit too close to home again and you’re doing what you do best

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:05:15
10-02-2014
How many times do we have to have a variation of this conversation? We haven’t spoken in six weeks. Obviously my missing you was in vain, I should have just re-played the same conversations over and over again in my head.

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:10:29
10-02-2014
It’s work, Dean. It’s my job, just like hunting is yours. Although the initial drive for you was very personal which explains why you are unable to see how one would choose an occupation such as mine from purely rational reasons.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:11:21
03-10-2014
And I forgot how full of shit you are

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:11:51
10-02-2014
You would know.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:12:42
03-10-2014
What’s that supposed to mean?

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:13:06
10-02-2014
How are things with Sam?

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:13:33
03-10-2014
Screw you

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:13:54
10-02-2014
That didn’t take long.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:27:40
03-10-2014
So? Are you ok?

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:28:51
10-02-2014
In the sense that you are asking the question—yes.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:30:02
03-10-2014
What, you’re psychic now? How do you know how I’m asking?

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:32:56
10-02-2014
As usual, by using my brain. If you wanted to discuss the current state of our relationship and/or the ways it has affected me, you wouldn’t have ignored my saying that I was missing you. Therefore, you were asking whether I was in good physical health and out of any tangible danger.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:34:45
03-10-2014
Awesome. My brother isn’t talking anymore and you won’t shut up

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:35:19
10-02-2014
You asked a question. I should have remembered that like most people you’d rather I didn’t give you an honest answer.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:37:24
03-10-2014
Everyone’s real big on honesty these days. Must have missed the memo that says all bets are off and blows below the belt are called honesty now

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:38:39
10-02-2014
Feeling sorry for yourself and acting the victim to your younger brother’s exasperating need to live his own life as he pleases? You should speak to Mycroft. While you’re at it, ask him why he doesn’t have a goldfish.

 

Sender: Dean (US)
Received: 02:40:22
03-10-2014
What the hell is that cryptic bullshit? Whatever. Thanks for the honesty. Good to be reminded why I don’t miss this. We’re now on the same page, congratulations

 

Sender: Sherlock
Received: 20:41:01
10-02-2014
We haven’t been on the same page for six weeks.

Chapter Text

The light in the motel room is weak, its color muddy orange. It’s the kind of light that means a quiet room, no matter how loud you crank up the volume on the TV. Only another person’s presence can defy that oppressive combination, but there’s no one else here. For the first time in his life Dean is considering paying a hooker for company and not for sex.

His hand closes around his glass resolutely. He takes a large gulp, before opening a third window on his laptop.

His four months old, state of the art laptop that makes Dean want to punch his reflection in the mirror.

Cain’s mark gives a particularly violent throb. He flinches and his fingers twitch to go to it and soothe it with the phantom coolness of the glass still lingering over their pads. Only the last time the whiskey tasted cold was over an hour ago. Cheap motels go with cheap ice machines. This one broke under Dean’s touch. He stared at it for a while, crushed by the simplicity of the message. It’s the little things.

The mark is a big thing. Dean can’t even look at the red, disfigured skin on his lower arm without wanting to take his knife out and cut across the flesh to try to mute it. It’s a voice in his head; a hot, insistent brand not just on his skin but on his goddamn soul as well.

Like Sam’s absence.

Dean lifts the glass again.

His eyes skim over the search page on the screen. He doesn’t even know why he opened the new window. He’s not drunk enough to be unable to read, but any sentence with more than a few words disintegrates immediately under his gaze. He squints at the page he’s got open in another window.

Yes, Cain and Abel. It’s just something to do. Dean heard the tale from the horse’s mouth but it’s always wise to leave trust at the doorstep whenever you meet a weird son of a bitch who’s got anything to do with upstairs or downstairs—in this case both. Dean’s just trying to have himself covered, though it might be too little too late for that. There’s a burning imprint on him that feels like a sentence for a crime Dean’s not even committed yet.  The lifelong and beyond kind of sentence, and he was his own judge, too. ‘Brave’, ‘worthy’ and ‘impulsive’ Cain called him. Well, he got one of those right because who the fuck just jumps into a deal without reading even the normal print?

Someone with no one there to stop him.

Dean’s eyelids flutter shut and remain so for a few long moments, another phantom touch whispering against his shoulder. Not a memory this one; a fantasy. Sam’s hand, a little forceful but not rough. “Hold on,” Sam would have said. “You’re not taking Cain’s mark, Dean,” Sam would have said. “No, Dean,” Sam would have said. Firm and wary and smart.

Dean should probably go to bed. He opens his eyes when the image of him sprawled across the bedspread in his clothes flashes behind his eyelids. He’ll have to make an effort now, to strip, to get under the covers...Thinking of calling hookers so he’s not alone, sleeping in his clothes…the freaking funeral parlour lighting and the motherfucking quiet. Dean should toast himself for keeping it together.

What else is there to do?

He closes the laptop lid and pushes himself back in his chair, using the edge of the table for leverage. A few answers are waiting for him by the time he’s standing on his feet; they don’t even sound slurred in his head. Kill Abaddon. Kill Crowley. Kill Gadreel. Kill, kill, kill until the big hand of the clock slows down. There ain’t turning it back, Dean knows that. His life is the smelliest, filthiest swamp and oh yeah, he is worthy, all right—he is its worthy king, wading through it while following one desperate chimera after another: purpose, meaning, direction. There’s always his North Star, of course. Only Dean is here now and Sam isn't, and the sky's turned as black as the spot under a raven’s wing on a midnight gravestone.

Fuck that. He may be sinking, but he still knows where Sam is.

No more hapless victims to feed the swamp. Even today, even today someone got pulled under. Dean can growl and punch Crowley all he wants but he knows the truth. Whose choice was it to leave that bar not with a hot piece of waitress ass but with a demonic, royal asshole? Who took Crowley on his offer for a little hunting trip? Whose friend was Tara? Dead. Dad’s friend, a good hunter, a cool lady, who had made it to a ripe age in their line of work until Dean Winchester walked through her door, an abomination on his heels as his hunting partner. All comparisons Tara made between Dean and his father were an insult to John Winchester’s memory. In the absence of a grave in which to turn, Dad would have set himself on fire again if he’d seen Crowley in his lair today, brought in by his own flesh and blood. Hell, John Winchester would have had a thing or two to say to his eldest if he could trace Dean’s steps today.

Especially the steps taking Dean further away from his little brother—so that'd be all of them.

I’m doing it to protect him, Dad. I abandoned Sammy only to keep him safe and free of the swamp.

There’s no winning, Dean thinks as he stumbles towards the bed. He hates himself for leaving Sam, but he’d have hated himself more if he hadn’t.

Alone sucks, but alone protects, too. Others and him, both. If no one can be hurt because of Dean then maybe he can hurt a little less. Keep it together, kill some vermin, pay some meagre dues. Keep going. It’s fine, he’s fine.

Something very small and dark catches his eye on the lighter carpet. It’s right under his jacket’s sleeve where it’s brushing the floor after Dean flung the jacket on the bed earlier. He bends over to see better, hand already reaching out.

A bee. A dead bee. One of Cain's, accidently lost in the folds of Dean's jacket probably. Did he crush it to death? Lucky it didn't sting him.

Dean places the bee in the hollow of his palm and gazes at it. And suddenly, his eyes are burning as bad as the mark.

Sherlock is stretched out next to Dean, the sheet covering him neatly all the way up to the middle of his chest. Sherlock’s skin is still flushed and makes the white of the sheet stand out, crispy and pure. His left arm is folded under his head, raising it further; the index and middle fingers of his right hand are tapping lightly against his lips.

“You feel like smoking again?” Dean asks. He really wants to kiss Sherlock, but it’s kind of awkward to initiate it just like that. Evidently panting endearments and half-filthy encouragements while giving it to the guy is no big deal, but propping himself up on one elbow and leaning down for a simple kiss is embarrassing. The only thing that’s really embarrassing, edging on mortifying is that the other person in this bed was a virgin, for God’s sake, until Dean changed that six months ago. Six months and Dean still gets kiss-fright. Marvellous.

Sherlock has hummed in response to Dean’s question. His eyes are fixed on the ceiling. For a moment Dean is caught up in the harmony of Sherlock’s delicate, long eyelashes and the translucent green of his irises. The eyelashes' contrast with Sherlock's rusty black curls is also quite a treat.

“What’s rattling in that head o’yours?” Dean asks, averting his eyes. He settles himself on his back more comfortably and looks up to the ceiling too. The sheet’s slung over his legs and hips. It’s warm in the room; temperature feels ideal and so does the sheet’s texture. The bed on the other hand is still not ideal for two men of their size, but the mattress is the best thing Dean’s ever slept on and they just about manage to fit on it.

When they sleep it’s different. They often start out like two freaking mummies, pretty much the way they are now, but they soon mould around each other for a much more efficient use of the space and once they do, they sleep like that, hardly moving. Rest isn’t something either does properly on his own.

Dean realizes Sherlock hasn’t replied and gives him a nudge, his toe to Sherlock’s ankle. “Hey. I’m talking to you.”

“Well, obviously.”

It makes Dean shiver lightly, hearing Sherlock’s baritone restored to his factory settings. It wakes up an echo of the sounds Sherlock was making earlier. Dean likes both; so much sometimes, it’s like taking a shower with the water a little too hot.

“Good to know you’re only ignoring me,” he grumbles, “and not actually forgotten I’m right here.”

“Hmm.” It’s a friendly, distracted sound, but Sherlock’s voice drops lower for the next sentence. “Rather difficult to forget you in this situation.”

In his peripheral vision Dean catches Sherlock turning his head in his direction. When the pause stretches to several seconds Dean begins to simmer with pleasure. Sherlock looking at him is one of the most...personal experiences Dean's ever had.

“Or to ignore you,” Sherlock adds, resuming his previous position.

“So,” Dean says, smirking. “Should I be worried that your crazy brain is off at like two hundred miles per hour? So soon after you saw the best of Dean Winchester’s Casa Erotica.”

“You should be worried about your awful pillow talk.”

“My pillow talk is awesome. What do you want, rose petals?”

“Between them and what you think passes for wit, start searching for the nearest florist.”

“Oh, like you will win any awards. Who tried talking to me about rat bites last night?”

“I was trying to have a conversation. Clearly I didn’t know my audience.”

“Rat bites, dude! I should get a medal for getting it up.”

“It was actually the other way around. You got it up while I was still talking about the rat bites.”

“I did not!”

“You did. Perhaps you should reflect on what that says about you.”

At some point during their exchange they have both turned to face each other. Dean can hear his own breathing and Sherlock’s eyes are shining. They move forward at the same time and start kissing. It’s less heated than earlier, but it’s still so goddamn good that Dean slides even closer, presses his body against Sherlock's chest to groin. There’s a hand on Dean’s nape and fingers in his hair that give him goosebumps. Sherlock’s mouth is eager and unpredictable in the best possible way, making Dean deepen the kiss—which turns out to be all kinds of welcome. If they end up having sex three times within seven hours Dean is giving himself another medal.

They slow down. It's just a kiss. They do that sometimes. Sherlock’s here for four days and today is only the second, so there’s no rush. Eventually they part, their gazes meeting in that indescribable land where it’s straightforward and real good between them. Sherlock lays his head sideways on the pillow and looks up at Dean, eyes having the kind of tender outline that makes Dean want to physically skim his finger over the skin to trace it. He would never. His hand’s too rough.

“Bees.”

For a moment Dean is completely disoriented, then he pulls his head back, frowning.

“I was thinking about bees,” Sherlock clarifies.

“Of course you were. Let me guess—stings? Allergies?” Dean uses his hand to draw a rough circle in the air in front of his throat. His facial features are already doing the conga. “Horrible swelling and, and mutilated what…faces? Am I getting warm?”

“I thought that it would be something I’d regret.” Sherlock’s tone is calm, melodious, not particularly affected. “Never keeping bees. I used to think it would be something I’d like to do when I got old and retired. Provided I lived that long, of course.”

Bees, rats and pretty much all other species have disappeared from Dean’s head, leaving it resembling Noah’s Ark: there are only a few creatures left in there, one of them the man looking at him now with an open face, outlandish and smooth like the surface of a mountain lake. They don’t talk about it and Dean doesn’t even know what to say, which is kind of ironic, considering how often he thinks about Sherlock’s deal or wonders if Sherlock remembers that they’ll fix this.

Tender words rarely bubble up in Dean. He knows his thoughts and they often skip the whole formation into sentences stage and come out in other ways. Talking is not his way to reassure; but sometimes it is, especially when the reassurance is selfishly as much for him as for the other.

“You’ll get your bees,” Dean tells Sherlock. His voice is lower than the ceiling in that basement flat at Baker Street. “You’ll have the beehives and you’ll wear that protective gear, and you’ll look like someone from a bad, low budget Sci-Fi movie. Like a, like a pensioner spaceman. Honeycombs and, and whatever else bees need or make, all right? You can keep them in the flat and have Mrs Hudson’s ghost come after your ass or you can buy a house somewhere in the country and freak out the locals. I don’t care where it’ll be or how many times they’ll rush you to the ER, or why the hell you want to keep those things, I mean they're a freaking menace. But if that’s what you want for your old age, then that’s what you’ll get. We’re gonna make sure you do and if you then screw up and die, doing your insane… shtick, I’mma be pissed.”

Dean’s pretty sure birds in a radius of ten miles can hear his breathing now, but that’s what happens when you go all rusty on the use of words and then you want to tell someone that you don’t have a whole lot of practice in imagining your distant future, but thinking about it with that someone gone in it just…doesn’t bear thinking about.

Sherlock has kept completely still. His gaze is calm and inquisitive, yet inviting, too. Dean doesn’t even need to hug him or anything. It’s not a big bed, and they get each other really, really well sometimes.

Dean picks up the bee from his palm with as much care as he can muster. His head feels too heavy, but he still lifts it then gets up from the bed. He walks to the metal trashcan by the mirror, bends down and gently puts the dead bee inside the bag with the half-empty boxes of burger and fries, then closes the bag.

Chapter Text

“I could have been travelling to Oxford right now.” Sherlock gave a childish kick to a piece of gravel. At least he kept walking up the path leading towards the Tomlinsons’ house, which was all that John could hope for at present. He himself was still managing to keep up with Sherlock’s irritated long strides so all things considered, it could have been much worse.

“Yes, you already mentioned that,” he said under his breath. “Three times in the last hour.”

Sherlock accomplished the tricky feat of walking forward whilst rounding at John. “The lecture on arsenic will be starting in twenty-seven minutes!”

“Yeah, I’ve heard about that too; or a variation of it, thanks to the bloody countdown.” John sped up a little, eager for the company of their hosts. Not that much could deter Sherlock when he was in a strop. “Just go in there and do this,” he said. “It’ll probably take you fifteen minutes. Then we can even stay for lunch here, a family like this must have a chef. I bet their food is delicious.”

The moment the last word left his mouth, the realization of who he sounded like hit John and made him shoot a glance to his left. Sherlock had just about managed to get in the lead again so John had a good view of his face. He wasn’t tensing up or casting John withering glances. That was good; maybe he was getting over Dean, so even a phrase like John’s that was a blatant Deanism affected him very little. Or else, John had underestimated just how cross Sherlock was with having to take this case instead of attend the lecture in Oxford. That was not so good.

“You stay for lunch,” Sherlock said, sounding about his normal level of annoyed brat. “Why don’t you beg out an invitation for the weekend, bed and breakfast, the full package?” Yes, definitely feeling okay.

“You can get that lecture one way or another.”

“But I won’t be able to ask questions. What am I going to do? Talk to the laptop screen?”

“I’ve seen you do it.”

“It was different, I was shouting it at.” Sherlock glared at John quickly over his shoulder. “As you already know.”

John smiled despite himself. “You know you only wish you were there so you could show off in front of everyone. You weren’t going to ask questions; you were going to pretend you were asking questions while actually…vomiting hundreds of words to show you knew more on the subject than the guest lecturer.”

The only sound following John’s words was that of their feet on the thick gravel path. They were going to be in the house in a minute. It would be nice to spend that minute in the lovely quiet of the English countryside.

“Must have some hidden benefits, being one of Mycroft’s minions,” said Sherlock with a mixture of fake meditativeness and genuine sarcasm.

John sighed. “He only said he would appreciate it if you took the case, not that you had to. He is doing you as much of a favour.”

“No, he isn’t!”

“Yes, he is, Sherlock. The fee is—”

“It’s a missing dog!”

“It’s twenty thousand pounds.” John glared at Sherlock, who’d stopped and faced him. “Do you even understand the concept of money?” John went on, feeling his temper get the better of him. “Next time when you throw your state of the art microscope on the floor and jump all over it like a six-year-old you might want to remember that grateful ex-clients won’t always provide you with a new one. Or,” John added, carried away, “did you think flights to the US go two for a tenner these days?”

Sherlock slowly pulled himself up to his full height. John averted his eyes to the house in the tantalizingly close distance.

“That particular expense is no longer part of my budget,” Sherlock said. At least he didn’t sound upset. “As you knоw too.”

“I know,” John conceded, feeling much kinder. “But I also know it doesn’t mean we won’t ever be visiting Sam and Dean again. Whatever’s happened between you and Dean, they’re still our friends. And they have an even worse propensity for getting into trouble than you do.” John held Sherlock’s gaze intently. “All I’m saying is, let’s get in there so you can solve the case in less time than is humanly possible, get applauded, pocket a check for twenty grand, and forget about it. It’d be good to have that kind of cash to fall back on in case of emergency.”

Sherlock considered him for a few seconds, clearly mellowing, then pivoted on his feet and resumed marching in the direction of the house. John lifted his eyes to the cloudless June sky in silent gratitude and followed his friend.

***

Mrs Tomlinson was an unbearably rich socialite long past her prime, which was perhaps a good thing, John decided. There was at least some maturity about her, dulling the unpleasant effect of the obnoxiousness that exuded from her younger brother. They were the only family members present in a house that could probably host the family’s entire bloodline back to the Middle Ages.

Sherlock was his brusque self as soon as they walked in. He spent three minutes talking to the two siblings, scanning them in ways John was sure never felt comfortable even for the most innocent person. He then requested to be taken to the dog’s room. John had his confirmation that Sherlock had already switched to his work mode in full by the way the request was made: in a neutral tone, not a hint of judgement on the pathetic humans who were so sentimental they had given a member of the canine species its own mini-abode.

Up in Charlie’s room, it was all cushions and squeaky toys. Charlie, as it happened, was a King Charles’ spaniel, and if later Sherlock said nothing about that then John wasn’t going to restrain himself from commenting on the ridiculousness of naming a dog after its own breed. Sherlock moved around the room, resembling a sniffing dog himself, but the paper cut sharpness of his gaze as he examined the dog’s collar and the slideshow of pictures in the digital frame suggested someone of a more evolved species even than the human kind.

“I’ve kept everything the way it was that morning,” said Mrs Tomlinson in a quivering voice. She’d addressed Sherlock’s back that didn’t turn, of course, so John caught the woman’s eye and gave her a sympathetic smile of acknowledgement. “It’s so upsetting,” she continued talking to the listener she’d found. Sherlock’s phone chimed in his hand where he was holding it, scrolling through heaven knew what. “I just can’t wrap my mind around it,” Mrs Tomlinson continued. “Who would want to take Charlie? They haven’t even asked for money.”

“I’m sure he’ll be able to find it,” John said, head indicating Sherlock. He took a breath to ask some questions, but stopped uncertain. Sherlock had frozen with his head bowed over the phone. From his vantage point John could see his eyes; they seemed a little too wide for comfort and Sherlock obviously wasn’t reading.

“Sherlock?” John said. He met Mrs Tomlinson’s eyes briefly, giving her a perfunctory smile, before looking back to Sherlock. “All right?”

Sherlock tapped on the screen once, then stared at it again. John frowned. This wasn’t entirely out of character and yet all of John’s instincts whispered at him that something was off.

“Sherlock,” he repeated. The same response or rather lack of it. The world around John was quickly fizzing out into a white fog. Something was off, something was very, very off.

He took a step forward saying Sherlock’s name for the third time.

Without turning Sherlock lifted his head. His hand dropped by his body, the phone hanging limply from it.

“What…” John began, but Sherlock interrupted him. “On the dog’s collar…” He sounded a little drugged. “Three, count them, there are only…three.” The last word was quieter.

John registered Mrs Tomlinson speaking behind him, but didn’t hear the actual words. He swallowed and walked over to Sherlock, reaching for his elbow. Once his hand closed on it, he gently turned Sherlock around.

Sherlock’s face was paler than usual, but that wasn’t what made John’s heart sink—the glassy eyes did. Sherlock’s lips were parted; his throat seemed to ripple minutely, as if he were a ventriloquist during his act. The disturbing thing was, he appeared like the puppet too.

“What?” John said, voice cracking a little. “What is it?”

Sherlock’s eyes slowly zoomed in on him and a small frown appeared between his eyebrows. His nostrils widened with his deep intake of breath, but instead of oxygen bringing life to his skin, his pallor became more prominent.

Behind John Mrs Tomlinson spoke again but this time John couldn’t hear her, because Sherlock spoke loudly over her. “Eight to ten weeks ago, judging by the cherry trees…” John watched Sherlock blink and frown, expression suddenly turning heartbreakingly small and scared. It lasted for all of a couple of seconds, then Sherlock was back to talking, as if he was picking up a thought and switching on his mouth like a loudspeaker. “…check the percentage of precipitation, but regardless, in May it was…” He trailed off, only his lips trembling as if at a loss how to proceed.

Fear seized John, shaking him out of his own stupor. “Sherlock,” he said, lowering his voice. “What is it? You’re not making any sense. Hey,” he added with urgency, when Sherlock’s gaze found purchase on his face. “All right? What’s going on?”

The fragile look fluttered over Sherlock’s features again, but this time it didn’t disappear in the blink of an eye. John still felt relief sweep through him when Sherlock lifted the hand holding his mobile. Sherlock peered at the screen almost dreamily, then his finger performed a quick succession of flicks over it. Without a word he turned the display so it was at John’s eye level. John pulled back and squinted, before extracting the phone from Sherlock’s unresisting fingers and shifting in his spot until there was no glare on the display.

It was a video. The picture was very low quality, filmed with a weak camera phone or in a place without good light, or both. Not much could be distinguished in the environment. The focus was on two hunched figures on the ground, sort of pressing at their fronts and rocking a little. Or maybe it was only the larger figure rocking the smaller one? The quality of the recording really was bad. The shadowing kept changing, a fitting reflection of what was happening in John—suspicion, vague and miasmic, dark, dark, dark…

The rocking figure pulled back and with the motion, its hair swished a little. There were a million people whose hair could have swished like that, but John knew who that was, the awareness lead-like and fatalistic. He was watching Sam Winchester cradle his brother’s immobile form.

Before he’d even had the chance to process what this meant, the image changed to a new scene, far more lit up and defined, completely irrefutable. Sam, up and walking. Sam, face like ash and devastation, carrying Dean in his arms. Dean was beaten. Dean was bloody. Dean wasn’t moving.

By some unspoken command John looked up to the small letters above the video window—the subject line of the message.

‘Say bye-bye to Deano’

John’s eyes flew to Sherlock’s face next, to find Sherlock gazing ahead, the series of tics that had earlier taken over his throat now transferred onto his forehead and eyes. On John’s right Mrs Tomlinson was asking questions, something about what was going on, about her dog, saying ‘Doctor Watson’ again and again, or so it felt.

John looked back down to the phone to find the video was over.

“What was that?” he asked, his heartbeat swiftly turned into hammering. “Who sent…” he began again, but couldn’t finish this time, mind clouded as if by a desert wind. He had to move his legs. He had to do something.

He shifted from foot to foot. “Who sent you that? Sherlock. When did it happen? Is it real?”

I have to call Sam.

John’s phone was in his hand in an instant, a hopeful weight to counteract the evil twin in Sherlock’s hand. He couldn’t even recall when he’d given Sherlock his phone back; or maybe Sherlock had taken it back himself? John was fumbling through his last calls list, fingers icy and disobedient. Next, he was pressing the phone to his ear, listening to the ringtones.

There was not enough data to jump to conclusions. He should keep calm. First, talk to Sam.

“Do you think it’s a fake?” Talk to Sherlock too, get him to use that brain of his to a hundred-and-ten percent.

“It’s real,” Sherlock said, not looking at John. He was examining Mrs Tomlinson’s wary face as if she’d materialized out of thin air. John did not like Sherlock’s colour: bright red spots on his cheeks, disturbingly perfect in their roundedness. So red.

No, there was nothing definite yet. Dean could be alive and well. Sam could be well—

If only he would answer his damn phone. John heard himself leave a message after the beep, invited by Sam’s distant, casual voice. Generic words, trying for calm, no point in making Sam panic if everything was okay.

“Mr Holmes, is this about Charlie?” Mrs Tomlinson’s words brought John back to reality. Sherlock hadn’t averted his eyes from the lady’s face. His forehead looked clammy under his curls. John vaguely thought he was glad he’d put his foot down about Sherlock wearing his scarf in June. He looked like someone who could do with an ice-filled bath. Fight shock with shock.

“Mrs Tomlinson, could you give us a minute?” John said, boring his eyes into her droopy ones with as much conviction as he could muster. He wished she’d disappear. He wished they could somehow appear in the bunker right the bloody second.

Keep calm. This could be some sick, sick joke. Some of the enemies the Winchesters made were literally out of this world. Manufacturing something like that was completely within the realm of possibility. They tricked people into believing they were seeing and hearing loved ones, this could be the same thing.

“…if this is about Charlie,” Mrs Tomlinson was saying, fingers twisting one of her blouses’ fancy buttons. “Where is he? Mr Holmes, you must tell me—”

“I can’t find your dog!” Sherlock’s shouted words echoed in the spacious room, reverberating on his face, too, leaving John staring at its contorted and…uglified features in shock.

“Jesus,” he hissed, then he was dragging Sherlock out of the room, jaw clenching.

They left the house followed by the brother and sister talking and keeping far too close to their personal space. Out, out, out, John’s mind kept chanting, while his lips were forming scattered excuses.

The paradisiacal weather smacked John in the face. It was as if they’d stepped into another world—one where creepy dark holes in which people held the corpses of their loved ones and wept didn’t have a place. Blue skies, singing birds, but John kept marching on, fingers keeping tight like a vise around Sherlock’s upper arm.

They retreated to a safe distance from the house—safe from what, John couldn’t tell—before he let go of Sherlock. Sherlock was panting visibly, his cheeks still like those of the painted whores in pictures from the olden days; but at least he was no longer chalk white. There was a vein on his forehead, though that John would have been worried about if he wasn’t too busy pacing chaotically within a very narrow patch.

Suddenly, there was a blurred shape appearing at various points around him—Sherlock had begun frantically pacing too. It made John stop. He followed Sherlock with his gaze numbly for seconds on end. He checked his phone to find no messages or missed calls from Sam so texted him and went back to watching Sherlock.

Just as abruptly as he’d started moving, Sherlock stopped, right in front of John. He looked wild around the eyes, but there was the fire of mental coherence in them at last, so John’s back straightened up of its own volition.

“Have you called Sam?” Sherlock asked. His voice was melodious, if quite frenzied. “Yes, you did call him, I saw you calling him.” Sherlock did two straight lines right then left, each consisting of three steps, before stopping exactly where he’d stood before. “He didn’t pick up. Of course he didn’t pick up.”

John was moved and a little surprised to hear that Sherlock appreciated what grief did to people, and would even articulate it.

“He wouldn’t pick up,” Sherlock went on. “He is busy, he must be summoning Crowley as we speak.” He was looking right through John.

Shivers ran up and down John’s body.

“Why?” he asked.

Sherlock seemed to discover him again. It didn’t warm John all that much.

“What do you mean why? To make a deal. He has to.”

John tilted his head as if he hadn’t heard well, the hairs on his neck rising. Sherlock tilted his own head, asking, “What?” His teeth began worrying his lower lip. His breathing was shallow, John noted in passing, more concerned about his own breathing that made the noise in his ears so loud it was about to scare birds off the trees.

“Why does he have to?” John asked with forced calm. He hated the question, he hated the conversation they were having, but most of all he hated the conversation they were about to have.

Sherlock actually gaped at him, his pupils going crazy. “Because that’s what the Winchesters do, isn’t it? One of them dies.” Sherlock’s right hand, aided by the wrist, did a jerky dance in the air. “The other makes a deal to bring him back. Sam sells his soul, Dean lives,” Sherlock finished, shoulders twitching. His eyes were the only thing that seemed fixed now, all on John.

“So then Sam goes to Hell in what? A year? Ten?”

“One of them has to.” Sherlock’s legs and feet were restless, yet he wasn’t leaving his spot right in front of John.

John understood. Gosh, did he understand…

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Sherlock. I’m so sorry.”

“Why?” Sherlock’s eyebrows mashed together. “Why are you sorry? Why would you be sorry?”

“Because I don’t think this time Sam will try to make a deal. I’m sorry. I know Dean meant—”

“Why wouldn’t he try to make a deal? It’s ridiculous, of course he’ll try to make a deal.”

“I don’t think he will, not this time.” John didn’t even know how to pack into simple sentences what he’d picked up from Sam over the last few months. A change of attitude. No. A change of the grandest perspectives of them all. “I’m sorry,” he repeated. He was still offering his condolences pro forma, he knew that. There was still just the lightning in the sky, etched into his retina. The thunder was about to hit any moment.

Sam’s grief-stricken face swam in front of John’s eyes. Then Dean—gruff, funny, good-looking, loud, fierce. A real character, impossible to miss. Now just a bloodied, limp weight in his brother’s arms.

Impossible not to miss. John felt a familiar salty pinch in his nose and re-focused his gaze on Sherlock again, void of words. Ready to bear whatever form Sherlock grief took.

Sherlock had finally stilled, looking incredulous and uncomprehending. His eyes flicked between both of John’s a few times, then strayed a little to a point on John’s shoulder.

“Sherlock?” John said tentatively after several long seconds.

“Hm?” There was something mundane and innocent in Sherlock’s distracted reply. John just ducked his head to catch his eye.

A light breeze appeared out of nowhere, caressing John’s skin and evoking the same feeling of alternate reality. The other one was bleeding heavily into this one, though, as these things tended to do.

“All right,” Sherlock said. He straightened up, hands smoothing down over his lapels. The breeze took a shine to one particular curl on top of his head. Dean used to take a shine to Sherlock’s curls. If it wasn’t his hand, then it was his gaze that strayed to them, John had noticed a couple of times, especially when the four of them were spending quality time together with some liquor.

“Fine,” Sherlock went on his invisible tangent. “We should get back to London.”

“Are you all right?” John asked, fully aware that Sherlock even looking all right was already bad news.

“Yes. We should get back to London.”

“Yeah, you already said that.”

“Then why are we having this conversation?”

“I don’t know.” John hesitated, before going with his gut feeling. “Why do you want to go back to London so urgently?”

“I need to speak with Crowley. No matter what the upper classes get up to, I still don’t believe manor houses in the English countryside would have the required assortment of items for demonic summoning, do you?”

“Why do you need to speak to Crowley?”

“He sent me that video, it’s the least I can do.”

“Why—Hang on, he sent you the video?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Sherlock’s eyes flashed, their brilliance having something of its familiar patina over it. “Consider that the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question, John.”

John flinched inwardly at the thought of how very soon every phrase, every memento, every little mark that Dean Winchester had left on Sherlock Holmes would have to be treated like an open wound. He didn’t even want to think what Sam was going to have to go through. Sam could come and stay with them. Change of scenery, for as long as he needed. John could keep an eye on him and Mrs Hudson would make sure Sam ate well.

Then again, right in front of his eyes Sherlock was talking about having a rendezvous with the King of Hell so maybe John had more pressing priorities. Clearly Sherlock hadn’t confined himself to picking up just some quirky speech affectations and bad eating habits from his ex-boyfriend. (The prolific use of condiments from a few months ago came to mind.)

“Okay,” John said, bracing himself. “And why exactly do you need to speak to Crowley?”

“Oh God,” Sherlock muttered, then offered John one of his smiles—the one designed to emphasize his effort not to scratch out his own eyes in the face of utter stupidity. “Because I have a proposal for him obviously.” Sherlock’s face turned serious again. “That should be interesting,” he added quietly.

“No.” John shook his head vehemently. “No, no, no.” Why, why did he have to befriend people who had zero understanding of some fairly standard concepts? Mortal danger: to be avoided. Close relationships with more than the grand total of two people: highly recommended. Death: finite.

He pointed at Sherlock, eyebrows knitting. “You are not going to summon anyone. I’m not letting you do something so idiotic. All your previous stupid—”

John had a lot more to say on the subject and judging by Sherlock’s expression some repetition was going to be required for the benefit of the particularly thick-skulled in their midst. But a loud sound made them both start, derailing all talk. It took John a second to figure out his mobile had vibrated in his pocket.

He fished it out immediately. Sherlock was already hovering over his shoulder, ready to read.

A message from Sam.

I can’t talk right now. Something bad happened. Dean’s disappeared. It’s a long story, I’ll call you as soon as I can.’

John re-read the message a few times, lightness and hope spreading in his chest. ‘Disappeared’ wasn’t the same as ‘died’. Whatever was going on, at least Sam was alive and seemed well enough to text. Further on the plus side, now there was something John could actually do.

Besides, this was a far more appropriate outlet for Sherlock’s concoction of emotions. ‘The Disappearance of the Ex-Boyfriend’. Not that John would blog about that, despite being pretty sure his visitors count would hit the roof.

He twisted a little so he could look at Sherlock whose face was the picture of glowing determination.

“Right then,” John said. “Back to the house, so you can find that dog, get the check, then we can book some last minute tickets to America.”

Chapter Text

Dean walks into 221B’s living room to find the couch suspiciously devoid of Sherlock’s miserable prostrate form. There continues to be debris of tissues, sachets, blankets and cups in various stages of emptiness—or fullness, depending on your outlook to life, although in this case an empty cup is a good cup, which is kind of confusing. Dean’s already feeling his headache from this morning beginning to return. ‘Popping out’ for a kill can clearly go only so far to chase the headache away.

The point is, the room continues to indicate that it contained an individual down with an ugly ass cold, yet the person in question is missing despite Dean’s authoritative instructions against that.

He drops his bag on the floor and heads in the direction of the bathroom. Sadly, not to make use of it as he’d very much like to, but to check on the room in its closest proximity. The chances of Sherlock showing some concern for his own health (and Dean’s shot-to-pieces patience) and retreating to his bedroom to set camp like a good patient are lower than the earlier survival chances of the ghost Dean just wasted. He doesn’t know why he’s even checking the bedroom. But for a while, he’s been exhibiting weird symptoms of a personality shift along the lines of light-heartedness, and even optimism. Beats him, but Dean ain’t looking a gift horse in the mouth, and that’s really not a reference to Sherlock’s face despite those petty things they said to each other that time neither wanted to take a goddamn compliment and move on.

Faint sounds from Sherlock’s bedroom make Dean pat himself on the metaphorical shoulder for his sunny outlook on life. Next, he thinks he should have given himself a smack on the head instead.

Sherlock is in his bedroom, all right. It’s just that he’s halfway through putting his suit jacket on, the rest of his clothes already in place. Dean takes vindictive pleasure at the sight of Sherlock wearing mismatched socks.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he addresses Sherlock, whose ears are kind of defective right now thanks to his brilliant head being full of mucus; plus, he was blowing his nose, like, every three minutes. He hasn’t even heard Dean walk in.

Sherlock freezes guiltily on the spot and Dean’s defending his word choice to his last breath. He knows guilt intimately, can’t teach him anything about it. That’s guilt right there, which means that he has an opening.

Of course, the bastard instantly offers a perfect look of nonchalance, the kind that could really throw lesser men than Dean Winchester or say, John Watson, off the scent. Dean doesn’t even wait to hear what Sherlock will have the gall to serve him with this time, just starts yanking the jacket off. Sherlock’s shoulders feel bird-like, of the small and fragile kind. A disturbingly conflicting set of impulses accosts Dean: to cuff Sherlock upside the head with one hand while drawing him in for a hug with the other.

Somehow his contradictory impulses must have transferred onto Sherlock—Sherlock’s attempt to pry his jacket off Dean’s fingers is half-hearted, thanks to the puppy dog look of affection he is busy directing at him. The dude doesn’t have a fraction of the practice Sammy’s had with that look, the boy’s a natural, the alpha puppy-dog-look master. But Sherlock’s really got it in him. Fate has gone a step too far in its cruelty towards Dean. Not one but two of them now, it’s just too much.

Dean manages to wrestle the suit jacket out of Sherlock’s grabby hands and they come to a complete standstill, just eyeing each other. As far as Dean can tell there are no significant improvements in Sherlock’s condition: he still looks like someone in the transitional period between human and zombie. Dean doesn’t think it’s a side effect of his occupation that he remains not particularly grossed out by the sight. He even continues to want to touch the sad creature in front of him.

That is, when he doesn’t want to punch him in the face, which often occurs when said sad creature opens his mouth and starts talking.

“I believe even you are capable of finding the answer to your question without help,” Sherlock says. Dean hasn’t got a clue what Sherlock’s talking about, but still wants to punch him for the tone and the implication of the words. Then he remembers his earlier demand to know what Sherlock was doing.

“Ha-ha.” He offers with weathered sarcasm. “That’s weak, dude, you know I wasn’t really asking.” His index finger makes a series of quick flicking motions encompassing Sherlock’s socks and pants, while Dean keeps talking, hoping his finger conveyed well the simple message: ‘off’. “Can’t say I know why you were doing it but I don’t give a rat’s ass.”

Sherlock opens his mouth, undoubtedly to gift Dean with another smartass crack, but only a single horrible coughing sound escapes his throat. Dean’s heart skips a beat in sympathy, while his brain dispassionately counts this as victory. It’s not because Dean’s been spared Sherlock’s snarky comment. It’s more like, evidence is evidence, and if anyone’s abiding by the stuff, it’s Sherlock Holmes.

Dean tilts his head towards the invitingly fluffed up bed. (God bless, Mrs. Hudson. Her ways of dealing with Sherlock in this state might not always be very efficient, but her support is key.)

“C’mon,” he says. “Get out of those and into your pajamas, and roll in.”

Sherlock has been scanning Dean and now frowns, much like he would if a very large fly buzzed around his head while he was solving a case. “Why would I be getting into bed at four thirty in the afternoon?”

“Because you need to rest, genius.”

“I don’t need to rest. I haven’t worked in two days. I’ve done nothing but rest.”

“Yeah, that’s what you do when you’re sick.”

“I’m not sick. I’m fine.”

It comes out as, ‘I’b not thick, I’b fign,’ and Dean suppresses an impulse to pet Sherlock’s curls in a most unmanly way. That would be counterproductive. Mustn’t give the guy even a finger or Dean’s screwed and they’ll be here all day.

“Yeah,” Dean says, pinching his nostrils and holding them like that while speaking. “You’re fine.” It comes out as a pitch perfect replica of Sherlock’s delivery of the same line.

Sherlock narrows his eyes at him while Dean rolls his. “I thought we were done with the river in Egypt,” he says.

A series of fascinating little ticks runs all over Sherlock’s face, before a pair of child-like, red-rimmed eyes fix on Dean. Sherlock emits a sound that closely resembles something a baffled koala would make.

He rolls his eyes again. “Denial, dude.” A swift debate with himself about whether it’s worth explaining to Sherlock that the river in Egypt is ‘the Nile’ ends with Dean deciding against it. He’ll probably end up having to say ‘denial’ after that, so Sherlock could hear both, then maybe even repeat the two words one after another a few times, what with Sherlock not even hearing Dean walk in earlier. The son of a bitch will probably delete it anyway, like he’s done with so much of the cool wisdom Dean’s been trying to impart on him.

“I thought you were over denying that you were sick,” he clarifies with admirable simplicity. “When I took off this morning you were even under the blanket out there, having Mrs. Hudson’s chicken noodle soup.”

“The soup had no taste,” is Sherlock’s profound comeback. He is so unwell, even that seems to cost him some effort and Dean’s, “Gee, really? Wonder why that is,” has no audience to appreciate it.

Yet Sherlock somehow musters enough energy to turn to his left, already reaching for his jacket again. Dean showed shortsightedness a moment ago by flinging it over the nearest chair as opposed to stuffing it in the wardrobe.

“Man, come on,” he says tiredly, obstructing Sherlock’s path. “It wasn’t exactly ‘Carefree Hunt of the Year’ and I haven’t had any alcohol in, like, two days! Or sex.” Dean starts shrugging out of his own jacket. “I swear, I’m getting this close to saying, ‘Do it for me,’ and that’s just sad.”

At the start of Dean’s sentence Sherlock looks like he is marshaling his limited forces to produce a half-decent ‘strop,’ but halfway through he takes one sudden step forward that brings him much closer to Dean. There is something off key about him, but Dean’s too busy finishing what he’s saying and noticing that Sherlock’s still not coming within a kissing distance. Probably still not aware he’s been trying to protect Dean from catching whatever Sherlock believes he doesn’t have. (It doesn’t count that Mrs. Hudson was the one to actually whisper her observation to Dean yesterday.)

Then it hits him. A role-reversal has taken place: Sherlock is the one gazing at him with a lot of concern and some disapproval. Dean lets his eyebrows articulate that he’d like to know what twisted train Sherlock’s high-wired brain has boarded, carrying him to a crazy place where Dean is at fault.

“What?” he snaps for good measure. Sherlock knows by heart all of Dean’s ‘thesaurus-thick body language tells (to quote Sherlock word for word), but Dean has long been of the opinion that if you have the opportunity to snap at Sherlock Holmes you should definitely go for it.

When Sherlock reaches for Dean’s already unbuttoned overshirt and pushes it out of the way, thin, cold fingers going for the t-shirt and lifting it, Dean’s mind gets badly derailed. He knows they shouldn’t; hell, he doesn’t even want to right now, no matter how much he is attracted to the man in front of him or how tight and warm his chest feels when he even thinks about Sherlock. But regardless of how low on his list of priorities sex is right now Dean’s still boggling at this turn of events.

“You’re injured,” Sherlock says. He sounds unsettlingly clear.

Oh. Okay, Dean must have flinched while he was talking and taking off his jacket. He’s so used to this kind of pain he rarely treats it as something that can have his undivided attention; or as in this case, his attention at all. You’d think Sherlock would be used to it by now too. As it is, occasionally he doesn’t notice Dean’s injuries, which, to be fair, is because at that moment he isn’t noticing the entirety of Dean’s existence. (Seriously, who is Dean to win against a bloated corpse or a severed ear?) But often he is concerned, even when no one else but John could tell by looking at him. Every damn time Sherlock reacts to Dean being bloodied or broken as if it’s the first time.

Sometimes Dean wonders about the actual first time, all the way back to those first days he and Sherlock spent together, still strangers. He thinks of Malvern Mansion. He doesn’t remember Sherlock’s face then, mostly because it was so dark in that fucking old ruin. But Dean has a suit jacket back home in the bunker, dry-cleaned, its cut all kinds of sharp and fancy. A suit jacket that looks nothing like any of Dean’s possessions, which sounds about right considering it didn’t used to be his. Since Malvern Mansion other garments of clothing by the same owner have migrated into Dean’s wardrobe. (The opposite has happened too so no one’s cheated of stuff.)

“How bad is it?” Sherlock asks. Dean shrugs.

“Ghost wanted to play catch against the wall, I was the ball.” He extracts himself from under Sherlock’s hand, which has managed to locate the tender spot of Dean’s body with scary accuracy. He carries on. “Sports metaphor. Baseball. It’s good, I’m good. You’re not.”

There is something uncharacteristically slow in Sherlock’s eyes. It makes them appear clearer than they’ve been for the past two days, which is mighty confusing. It’s as if Dean’s looking at his still newish, amazing laptop’s screen, the picture sharper than an angel blade, the machine faster than a spaceship, yet there’s the hourglass thinking thing that keeps turning on the screen like it used to do all the time on Dean's old computer. It would be endearing, this kind of look on Sherlock’s face, if it didn’t leave Dean with a faint sense of unease.

The clarity in Sherlock’s eyes starts oscillating then, as if he’s heard Dean’s thoughts and taken offence at the very idea of evoking maudlin affection. His gaze is swiftly becoming unbearable to hold. Dean finds himself completely off-kilter, unsure what’s happening in Sherlock’s head; it’s tripping all his ingrained, high alert alarms.

“You are going to die.” Sherlock breathes out the words carefully, with something that could be mistaken for awe. “It’s…” He stares at Dean, unblinking, visibly affected. “…abhorrent. One day, you are going to die.”

Lots of things shift in Dean at that, a landslide just a bit epic. One reply of a million is the one to shoot out, predictably. “Oh, well, thanks for the heads up! So are you, sunshine. We all are.”

That old form of defense, so often used against a difficult or awkward truth; Dean’s way of rendering a moment inert or turning something meaningful less weighty. There’ve been times he couldn’t breathe otherwise.

He is having trouble doing it now as well when his trusted coping mechanism fucks him up royally and Dean actually hears what he’s said. Or rather, he realizes to who he has said it.

Five years have become four. Four have become three. The five at the start never looked like a lot anyway, but now three look like less than the one Dean had. He never forgets about Sherlock’s deal, which is one major difference from when he himself was living through what was left of his life. To think that he was scolding Sherlock about his powers of denial a moment ago.

Only, the one time it mattered, he forgot. He forgot Sherlock had sold his soul and had a handful of years left to live. No, that’s wrong. He didn’t forget, he just didn’t care to remember. When Dean was a demon, Crowley would have given him anything he’d asked for. He knows it in his gut. He believes Crowley would have even agreed to break Sherlock out of his deal. It didn’t even occur to Dean to ask—not when he thought about it, not when Sam challenged him about it, desperate to call on any flicker of humanity in his big brother. Not even when Sherlock was standing right there across from Dean, watching him with impenetrable eyes that had reminded Dean of his own eyes’ reflection in the mirror. It put a real itch under his skin, that gaze, confusing Dean’s demonic soul to the core.

But then exhale, smirk…and it was all back to blankness: Dean didn’t care about itches or Sherlock, or even Sammy. He didn’t care, period. Until one day he was back to being human, but then the last wish Crowley would have granted him was to have Sherlock, free.

Maybe one day Dean will manage to bargain it out of Crowley. They have history now.

He blinks at Sherlock now in the familiar bedroom at 221B. He is aware that his mind is being read like an open book. It’s par for the course of having an actual friggin’ genius detective for whatever it is Sherlock is to him. There is softness on Sherlock’s reserved features, too, that’s patented for use only where Dean Fuck-up Winchester is concerned.

“Are you going to stand there all day engaged in pointless self-flagellation?” Sherlock asks him. “What you said is essentially true. We are all going to die. Thank God. Although,” he adds musingly, “if your misplaced guilt is distracting you from my shocking display of emotion, perhaps I should leave you to it.”

Dean feels a bow snap undone in him. It’s a good feeling.

“Okay, first of all,” he lifts a finger in Sherlock’s face, “quit talking like you’re on the school’s debate team. I just had to gank a ghost that was wailing like Bjork, man, I can’t deal with all that.” He waves a loose hand in the general vicinity of Sherlock’s mouth. “And wow, that was emotion? Are you kidding me? You go around telling your nearest and dearest they’re going to die?” Dean’s gathered speed, each vowel an exhalation of poison, expelling it out of Dean’s system; each pause a gulp of fresh air. By the time he’s finished, his reproach is only half-feigned.

Sherlock hasn’t stepped closer, but it feels as if he has. He is gazing at Dean with so much understanding, and in such a valiant attempt to hide it, that for one sweeping moment Dean feels nothing but pure love. Sherlock looks indescribable. He looks like Sherlock. He looks like crap and like over a thousand days of hope left.

“Well,” Sherlock says like he’s adjourning a meeting. “I think I’m already feeling better.” If anything, he appears to be turning an even more unpleasant shade of the color sallow. Dean’s prepared to tell him that, or maybe just use two fingers to poke him in the chest with average force. He’ll have the decency to maneuver Sherlock with his back to the bed first.

“It’s always invigorating to have these repartees with you, never mind the tedious predictability of your responses...” Sherlock continues, voice thick with his tonsils’ delusions of grandeur. Dean’s pretty sure they must have gone the size of a walnut each. He vows to forsake his promise to Sherlock and call John. This madness has gone on for too long.

He first needs to get Sherlock bundled up in bed though.

Sherlock’s still trying to form some sentence or other, probably insulting half the population of London in passing. His wrist is going for its theatrical dance to illustrate his point, but succeeding only to look like a wet paper towel. Dean’s eyes get drawn to Sherlock’s lips that have been parted all along, regardless of whether he’s talking or keeping his trap shut, metaphorically speaking.

“I’ll tell you what,” Dean interrupts, his shiny, brand new idea filling him with glee that’s entirely inappropriate considering he’s trying to actually take care of a sick person. Not Dean’s fault said sick person is also a stubborn, insufferable dick. Okay, maybe it is a little bit Dean’s fault in the part where he willingly got involved with Sherlock.

“How about we have some R&R?” Dean goes on smoothly, eyes turning purposefully hooded. They drop to Sherlock’s mouth, their outward intention very different from what it was a moment ago.

Sherlock’s tongue peaks out in response, wetting his lower lip, the gesture entirely unselfconscious judging by his exhausted eyes.

“How about,” Dean repeats, pausing this time, all for effect. “How about I get on that bed and you get on your knees?” He knows what he’s doing, yet he still might need to send a memo to his groin. “All I could think about on the way here. Think you can do that, sunshine?”

***

Twenty minutes later Sherlock’s stretched out on his side of the bed in a sitting position, his legs under the duvet and his shoulders nestled under a fleece blanket. He’s holding a steaming mug between both his hands, sipping from it with a petulant expression but his eyes are drooping promisingly. He’s clad in clean pajamas and his curls are all swirly thanks to the super quick, steaming shower. (Dean didn’t actually bathe him, but did pop his head in the bathroom to mock rush him like a sergeant.) The only argument Sherlock feebly tried to put up was about drying his hair, but then Dean told him he was either going to use the freaking blow dryer or Dean was going to fetch the scissors—either way Sherlock wasn’t lying around with wet hair. Sam might never bat an eyelid at Dean’s threats to the same effect, but Sherlock showed obedience.

Dean had a quick shower himself and is now stretching out next to Sherlock, far enough to avoid having to engage in germ warfare but close enough to touch Sherlock once he’s fallen asleep—the curls are calling to him, and Sherlock’s nape is too, not to mention those fragile looking shoulder blades.

“I still don’t get why you didn’t just admit you were sick,” he tells Sherlock. His voice comes out as gentle as Dean’s feeling right now. Great, he was always such a fan of gushing.

“Because I didn’t want you to see me sick,” Sherlock says.

“I’ve seen sick people before. Grew up with a little brother, in case you don’t know.”

“I’ve got a brother too but—”

“Dude, does he even get sick? Seriously, I’m fighting an impulse to say the only virus he could catch is a computer virus. Hey! Mycroft, it fits, right? Get it?” Dean smirks, overcome by his own awesomeness. “Like Microsoft?”

By Sherlock’s long-suffering sigh you’d think he’s the one dealing with the patient from hell. Come to think of it, Cas doesn’t get Dean’s jokes, either, and Sam will pop an eye out one of these days the way he’s always rolling them at Dean’s best ones. It’s Dean’s curse in life. Maybe only women get his kind of smarts. He tips his hat to them inwardly and goes back to his previous point, unwilling to waste his jewels on a tough crowd. “I’m just saying, Sam and I, we’ve kind of always lived in each other’s pockets. I’m not going to get scared by some snot.”

Sherlock mumbles something that sounds like, “I didn’t want you to fuss.” It comes out as ‘futh’.

“Didn’t want me to what?”

“Futh.”

“Sorry, what?” Dean deadpans.

Sherlock throws him a withering glance that’s remarkably full of evil promise. Dean throws his head back to laugh openly, enjoying the sensation, then the unmistakable flash of want in Sherlock’s eyes.

“You know that as soon as you’re back with the living, we’re doing that again, right?” he tells Sherlock, gaze flicking down his own body. He can feel it there between his legs, a glorious promise put on the backburner for now.

“You weren’t even affected,” Sherlock mutters in his mug, half his face in it.

“Try me again in a couple of days,” Dean says, reaching to stroke up and down Sherlock’s flank with the back of his fingers. Sherlock reclines back and Dean slides his palm to the small of his back and keeps it there.

It took all of sixty seconds for Sherlock to give up and get up from the floor where he’d been kneeling between Dean’s thighs. Dean’s plan to prove to Sherlock that if his mouth was full he wouldn't be able to breathe through his nose worked without a glitch. Sherlock saw for himself he was as sick as a dog and Dean supported him on his way up when he got dizzy, not gloating even a little bit for proving his point. He just started undoing the buttons on Sherlock’s shirt, murmuring, “Let’s get you out of this, okay?”

“Hey,” he says now, pressing his palm and digging his fingers just a little. “How about I give you a shoulder rub? You must be stiff like…” Dean grins again, justifiably delighted with himself. “Like I’m going to be next time you blow me.”

Sherlock groans in exasperation. He twists around to the right to put his mug on his bedside table then wriggles down under the duvet. Dean moves with him, extracting his hand to place it on Sherlock’s forehead.

Finally warm.

‘He takes a while to spike up,’ John told Dean once on the phone, months ago, when Sherlock was sick and Dean was back home in America. “His temperature stays within norm for the first couple of days, which isn’t really a good sign, because—”

“Yeah, I know.” Dean does know. “Temperature means your body’s reacting to the infection.” He had to learn these things when he was young, never knowing when Sammy might get sick while Dad was away.

Sherlock is already plummeting fast into sleep, closed eyelids restless but facial features relaxing. His body is unwinding too; it’s weird, but Dean can feel it under his fingers, even if they are still merely grazing the skin on Sherlock’s brow. Sherlock’s feeling hotter. Thank God John and Sam will be here tomorrow. Teaches him for letting them run off on two hunts in a row, to 'bloody' Wales, too!

Sherlock’s lips are still fully parted, allowing him to breathe, shallow and unsteady. In and out, in and out…

It’s like you don’t want to accept you’re fallible, Dean thinks. It’s like you need someone to prove it to you so you can finally let go.

Sherlock rolls his head, pressing his forehead into Dean’s palm.

It’s like you need me.