I can't apologise.
I don't try.
How does one go about apologising for something like that?
So sorry about getting carried away and actually fucking you when we were only supposed to be faking some frottage.
Please pardon me being so obviously gone on you from the first moment. I know it is terribly inconvenient that this is certain to get us both killed.
They don't make a Hallmark card for that, do they?
Some people might say that it's not about finding the right words but rather it's the sentiment of apologising that counts, but they'd be idiots. After all, Sherlock made it clear from the beginning that he abhors sentiment.
Inflicting an apology on him could only be an exercise in self-indulgence - an attempt at unburdening my own well-deserved guilt.
And, even if I could find the right words, it's not as if I could say them aloud since we are under constant surveillance by an army of enemies itching for any sign of significant emotional investment in each other.
It's reasonable to assume that any apology would be a damp squib.
So, things are a bit… tense.
By things, I mean me - I'm tense.
Sherlock seems fine.
He's so bloody unmoved that I want to punch that placid, bored look right off of his gorgeous face.
No... not punch... what I really want to do is to grab him by the hair, jerk his head back, and suck on that place on his neck that made his breath hitch.
That'd do me.
But that's not really an option either.
Still, I can't stop thinking about it - thinking about him - and having to watch him continue on, unruffled and aloof, finds me stewing in a quiet, bitter fury.
Whatever Sherlock may claim about bitterness being ‘a paralytic,’ I find my own to be rather productive. Within a few days of being (forcibly) moved into 221B, I've unpacked all my things, cleaned and organised my room, binned all the body parts in the crisper, scoured the entire kitchen with bleach and I can almost see myself in the shine I've put on the bathroom tiles.
It feels good to watch the mess disappear into some order.
If only life could be so easily tidied.
And if it so happens that my cleaning up of the mess comes as an inconvenience or irritation to Sherlock, all the better. Serves the prick right for being unable to muster anything more than indifference to my existence and only responding in vaguely disinterested hums or blunt, monosyllabic retorts to any of my efforts to engage him.
Just as I am beginning to think I might have to learn how to fester in my stoic misery, it all goes to hell. Like a slow motion train wreck, I watch life jump the tracks. And I'm the first to admit that I welcome that carnage as an old friend; a reprieve from too much time to think.
The attacks are subtle at first. So much so, I'm not sure if it is an attack at all or just a coincidental series of unfortunate events.
There's some mix up with my army pension check. No one seems to know why it never made it to my account and they can find no trace of it. It's a minor annoyance that I quickly move to address. I have contingencies. I know I've enough saved back to carry me a little while whilst they track it down.
However, a day later my bank account suffers a ‘breach’ and the balance disappears without a trace.
Only mine, mind you.
Got my full attention now.
Financial sabotage seems likely; a suspicion confirmed by a rather embarrassing row with the chip and pin machine at the supermarket when I attempt to restock the flat with things actually edible and find that my credit card is suddenly 'not authorised.’
It's not the machine's fault, but none of the humans I'd very much like to pummel were near at hand.
I trudge back to Baker Street, empty handed and vaguely enraged with the world.
I'm shit at technology, but I'm already thinking over what resources I might be able to muster to find the bastards that did this and make them regret tampering with my funds.
I am thinking of army mate, RJ, who has a brother-in-law that does forensic accounting. I am thinking that he owes me a favor for that thing in Kabul, when my mind immediately snaps back to attention the moment I step in the flat.
“Bloody hell,” I mutter at the bottom of the stairs, already getting that faint sense of wrongness about things.
There's a pressure to the air of a room after a fight has happened within it. I can't say what it is exactly; some shift in the energy so subtle it can only be felt on the subconscious level; like the charged atmosphere after a thunderstorm. It makes me bristle.
I jog up the stairs, step through the sitting room door and quickly glance around, seeking to identify the threat. There are subtle signs of a struggle; furniture shifted a bit, scuff marks on the floor boards I had put a lot of effort into cleaning, and a gouge of wood missing from the door frame (that I'm certain wasn't there before) all point to a rather violent row having occurred in my absence.
“You took your time,” Sherlock interrupts my assessment of the room almost immediately. I glance up at him, surprised and confused. That he is actually speaking, rather than just ignoring me is probably the most telling sign that he is hoping to distract me from looking too closely at the room.
He is seated in his chair, prim and pristine in his fine suit, and almost in the exact same position I left him in only an hour earlier. However, instead of meditatively steepling his hands beneath his chin, he is now holding a book. He doesn't return my gaze, pretending to consider the book (as if he is capable of something so mundane as calmly passing the time by reading).
“Yeah, I didn’t get the shopping,” I state, knowing that this is such a painfully obvious fact (given that my arms are empty) that it should earn me a glare. However, actual eye contact is welcomed at the moment.
He does look up then, but at the door, as if expecting someone more important to be behind me. After a few seconds his eyes at last shift to me. His expression is tinged with mild surprise and confusion.
“What? Why not?”
“Because I had a row in the shop with a chip-and-PIN machine,” I say more tetchily than perhaps warranted.
I can almost feel the energy thrumming off him from my position by the door; a sort of quiet, smug satisfaction at having had a good physical row. I shift uneasily, my own unresolved tension crawling like fire ants beneath my skin. I could really use a physical fight about now. I am itching for it, really. I'm quite tired of this shadow boxing of digital terrorists and puttering around while feeling invisible in my own flat.
“You had a row with a machine?” He lowers the book, at last giving me his full attention. His lips turn up at the corners, like he is trying to hold in the faintest amusement. It is so slight, yet as close to a smile as I've seen since that first night. I can almost believe it is genuine.
“Sort of,” I say, slower and I know my expression has turned a bit harder. I'm unsure how much he knows about my sudden financial strife and I'm not sure how much he cares to know. “It sat there and I shouted abuse.”
’Perfect metaphor for my life these days,’ I think dryly. I look him over for a half moment, weighing my options before I lift my chin, settling into quiet defiance.
“Have you got cash?” Old habits die hard and, if he is going to sit there and pretend he hasn't been pummeling someone just moments before I walked in, I'm hardly going to be the first to tip my hand by sharing the details of how they've decided to come after me.
“Take my card.” Sherlock nods towards the kitchen where his wallet is lying on the table. His expression is softer than I've seen it since before. It throws me off balance, making an odd, achy sensation expand in my chest as I meet his gaze. Like something is missing that was there before and I'm not sure how to recover it because I'm not even sure what it was.
I turn briskly and march towards the kitchen. I resolutely remind myself that this mission isn't mine to understand. I'm just to keep my head down and do my part. He obviously can handle himself and I'm to take care of myself.
I nearly make it to the kitchen door when I note that the dining set has been shifted several centimeters towards the sink and half the contents on the table have been pushed to the wall as if someone had been thrown onto the surface. My body whirls around on him before my brain has a chance to intervene, anger flaring hot and bright as I glare at his mockingly casual expression.
“You could always go yourself, you know. You’ve been sitting there all morning. You’ve not even moved since I left,” I hiss in a swell of bitter fury. If he's going to lie, I'm not going to make it easy on him. He can do it outright or.... he can tell me the truth and we can start working together.
Sherlock says nothing. Instead, he stares blankly at me, unmoved by my unspoken plea for solidarity in the face of whatever this is and feigns nonchalance as he turns his eyes back to the book and flips a page.
His silence speaks volumes.
Discouraged, I turn and pick up the wallet from the table and rummage through it for a suitable payment card. My mind drifts to when he had confessed to stealing Mycroft's card. I am reminded of that awkward visit we received this morning and, since we are suddenly back on speaking terms, I decide to press my luck.
“What happened about that case you were offered – the Jaria Diamond?”
This morning, when I shuffled down the stairs, it was only to stumble upon the odd sight of Mycroft and Sherlock silently glaring at each other in the sitting room. Still as statues, the two brothers were almost a perfect mirror of each other’s positions and posture as they sat facing each other before the unlit fire. There was a distinct chill in the air between them.
No one spoke or even looked my way as I mumbled a morning greeting. It was more for show than anything. I knew Sherlock would ignore me but hadn't quite figured out Mycroft's role or level of threat in Sherlock's larger mission. Hiding the immense fissures between Sherlock and I seemed like the safest approach. Sherlock, apparently, didn't care to feign civility though.
I wasn't overly eager to spend time in their collective presence. So, I left them to their staring contest and went to the loo to conduct my morning routine. I found they were still wordlessly glaring at each other when I emerged a good 45 minutes later; showered, shaved and dressed for the day.
When I started making tea and a small fry up, Mycroft rose to his feet and announced, with a certain edge of menace, that he expected Sherlock to take a look at the case. He tried to hand a folder to Sherlock. When it was ignored, he noted, in an eerily cold voice, that the Jaria Diamond was very valuable to very important people and it was vital that it be recovered. He then placed the folder on the table of the sitting room, said a curt goodbye to me, and left.
Sherlock didn’t move or give his departing brother so much as a glance. He had remained frozen in his chair the rest of the morning, darkly glaring at nothing in particular until the moment I left too.
“Not interested,” Sherlock answers in a tone that is quick and light. He slams the book shut with a loud snap as punctuation to his assertion. “I sent them a message,” he says firmly.
I wonder at the odd tone of his voice and his cryptic words as I bend over to look more closely at a new long, narrow gouge on the top of the kitchen table. It is a hard wood, so the cut was clearly made by a very sharp blade applying a lot of pressure. I run my finger along the cut and mutter to myself a quiet curse as I look across at him.
Sherlock just shakes his head back and forth, putting on a look of innocence. I glance down and see the glint of metal of a rather menacing sword pushed back under the chair he is sitting in. He has his foot atop it in an effort to hide it from me.
He really does think I'm a complete idiot.
I make a scoffing sound that I hope conveys my combined frustration and contempt over his efforts to keep me in the dark. I turn away before I do or say something (else) stupid.
’You know what? Fuck him,’ I think in disgust as I stomp down the stairs and out the front door. I slam it harder than necessary and march down the street in the direction of Tesco.
‘That's the problem, Watson,’ a small voice restorts from a dark corner of my mind, 'You already did.’
I stop and turn to look back at the window of 221B. I can just barely make out a tall, curly-haired silhouette that is pale as a ghost against the dark of the room. However, I can't make out Sherlock's expression. It's impossible to tell for sure if he is watching me now. Yet, I feel his gaze burning into me, pinning me to the spot. It makes my chest squeeze tight in ways I can't understand.
Flashes of memory of him steal my breath as they rattle through me, like the Tube through the station; swirling everything inside me about. Him at the foot of my bed. Him leaning over my bare chest to study my scars. His look of fierce determination and the moon-gilded glint of the knife as he whispered his ultimatum in the dark.
The truth hits me once again, like a stray bit if rubbish whipped away only to be smacked back into my face and cling there. As furious as I want to be at him, I've no one but myself to blame. I brought this upon us. He'd said they'd attack if they thought we were getting close enough to each other for them to effectively use me as leverage and now they are attacking.
Attacking me financially.
Attacking him physically.
I am supposed to be buying him time but instead I'm bringing on the End Game that much quicker. If I had just kept my feelings out of it during the ruse of us having sex, they'd still be biding their time.
It's all my fault and he is clearly trying to salvage the mission by putting some distance between us… or maybe he is punishing me by cutting me out… maybe, both.
Which, honestly, is no less than what I deserve.
We fuck or we die.
We fuck, we die.
I fucked him. Now we're both screwed.
As I watch, the figure transforms and a violin is lifted and merges with his silhouette; pressed between his chin and shoulder. Heavy notes leaden with sadness, passion and longing sink down to the street, giving the ordinary world a magical quality. People walking by look up and around, trying to catch sight of the source of that siren call. The figure turns and glides away, the notes retreating with it.
I let out a breath and turn away as well, fingering the raised letters of the name Sherlock Holmes imprinted on the card in my pocket.