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Old Memories And Young Hopes

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The first time Sherlock held a violin, he was six and he already knew how to play a handful of Mendelssohn's Lieder. He tucked the instrument under his chin and played, lost in the melodies and the unfamiliar emotions they evoked, emotions he had no idea how to deal with at such a young age.

His parents and the violin teacher were amazed. They thought he was a prodigy, and they tried to make him play again, but he refused. Playing those tunes for them had felt wrong, as if there was a specific audience that they were meant for and sharing them with anyone else was a betrayal. After that, Sherlock only ever played them when he was alone and feeling more bitter that he usually did about how there was no one on the planet who really understood him, or who even really tried.

 

****

 

The first time Sherlock solved a case, he glanced over his shoulder with a grin, half-expecting to meet a face that was beaming back at him with equal parts triumph and pride. There was no one there though, and he found himself slinking home with an inexplicably depressed feeling settling inside him. That night he played his violin until his landlord threatened to throw him out.

 

****

 

The first time Sherlock took morphine, it was merely an experiment. He'd already decided that cocaine was his drug of choice, but he felt it important to experience every possible high, if only to understand the criminals who partook in them a little better.

Morphine was like nothing he'd experience before, however. It opened a hidden door that he hadn't known was inside him, filling his mind with images of things he had never see but which felt as familiar as his childhood bedroom. A flat lit by firelight and filled with a haze of pipe smoke, the tap of a cane on a cobbled street, the view of a London skyline unspoilt by skyscrapers. Most of all, though, it brought a sense of someone being by his side: sitting with him in companionable silence in the flat, racing beside him down the cobbled street, gazing out at the city with an equal sense of ownership.

He reached out to touch the face that smiled at him with proprietorial joy and found himself groping at nothing, so instead he closed his eyes and indulged in the sensations of golden skin lit only by candlelight and stretched out across a bed, a warm body pressed close against his, and the faint brush of a well-trimmed moustache against his upper lip.

When he came back to himself, he could remember nothing of his hallucinations except the overpowering sense of contentment. He bought more morphine the very next day, tucking it carefully away to save for when he was in need of a lift from one of his particularly bad moods.

 

****

 

The first time he saw 221B Baker Street, he knew he had to live there, even if it necessitated going to Mycroft for help with the rent. As luck would have it, the very next day he was introduced to Doctor John Watson.

“Iraq or Afghanistan?” he asked, and it was as if there was an echo on the final word, a voice not quite his own saying the same thing in a different tone, in a different world. He was momentarily disorientated and would have missed what John said in reply if something in him hadn't forced him to pay attention, something that insisted that this was one of the most important moments of his life.

He found himself showing off for John: winking at him, dazzling him with deductions, even dragging him along on a case even though he'd told himself firmly after that first one that he worked alone and was happiest like that. John followed along behind, not holding him back but supporting him, saying he was brilliant in an awed voice that Sherlock had never heard aimed at him before.

He resolved then and there that John would move in with him and was incapable of surprise when John fell in with his plans without even a murmur of protest.

 

****

 

The first time Sherlock took morphine while living with John, he genuinely didn't expect to be discovered. John came home from dinner with Harry much earlier than expected and found Sherlock collapsed on the sofa, eyes shut and his sleeve rolled up. He was watching a vision play out in his mind of a much older version of himself sitting in a cottage garden, drinking tea with his mysterious companion and laughing together with him over something that they'd shared decades before. I wish I could remember these when I was sober, he thought through the haze of the drug, and then found himself being shaken roughly while a voice yelled at him.

He opened his eyes slowly to find the face from his dream right in front of him. “It's you,” he breathed out, shocked. “I've found you.”

John glared at him. “I was never lost,” he said crossly. “Christ, Sherlock, morphine? I thought you were meant to be a genius.”

Sherlock ignored him. He was always angry when I took drugs, he remembered. He reached out a quivering hand and touched John's face. “I miss your moustache,” he told him.

John's frown deepened. “I've never had a moustache,” he said, ducking away from the touch. “Sherlock, come on, snap out of it. It's John, and I need you to focus.”

“Of course it's John,” said Sherlock, smiling at him. “Doctor John Watson.” The name settled into a hole in his chest as if tailor-made to fit it.

“Great,” said John with a sigh, “you do know me. Now we just have to work on 'just say no'.”

“I'll always know you,” Sherlock assured him, and then frowned, remembering the amnesial haze that he inevitably awoke to after a morphine high. “Oh, I'll forget. I always forget after. In the morning, you have to tell me who you are.” He gripped John's arm tightly. “You have to remind me.”

“You'll know who I am,” said John. “You're making no sense. How much did you take?”

“I won't,” insisted Sherlock. “You'll have to tell me that I've found you, that it was always you. You have to tell me that, promise you will.” He squeezed John's arm harder still, barely able to feel it through the numbness that the drug had spread through his limbs. He could remember touching that arm before now, under far different circumstances, tracing his fingertips over the skin and licking a sheen of sweat off it. “Promise me.”

“If I do, will you promise not to do this again?” asked John. “I can't live with a drug addict, I'm a doctor, for God's sake.”

“If you tell me, I won't ever need to,” insisted Sherlock. “Promise me you'll tell me that I've found you.” An idea struck him, remembering the long evenings he'd spent playing to John when he was the other him, hours and hours of nothing but music and the look in Watson's eyes. “Tell me I can play for you, Watson.”

“Watson?” repeated John, pressing his fingers to Sherlock's neck and frowning at the pulse he found there. “This isn't public school, Sherlock.”

“Promise me,” repeated Sherlock in a fervent hiss. “You'll tell me that you're the one I can play for, that I've found you.”

“All right, fine, I promise,” said John irritably. “I'll tell you. Now, calm down and let me put you to bed.”

Sherlock relaxed back, content now to just ride out the last of his high and let everything else be sorted out in the morning.

 

****

 

The first time Sherlock played the violin for John, he was still in his pyjamas and nausea was rolling from his stomach from the tail-end of a morphine hit.

He'd woken up to find John propped up in a chair next to his bed, looking exhausted and pissed off, clearly having stayed awake all night watching over him.

“That was unnecessary,” he said, tentatively stretching out his limbs and testing the level of stiffness in them.

John glared at him. “I could say the same to you,” he said, his fury barely banked behind his weariness and concern.

Sherlock cast his mind back to the night before, trying to pierce the blank space in his memory that always surrounded his use of morphine. All he could remember was the usual feeling of contentment, coupled with a new and interesting sense of euphoria.

“I'm afraid I'm having a minor memory problem,” he said. “Care to enlighten me?”

John stood up with a violent motion, pushing his chair back so hard that for a moment Sherlock thought it was going to topple backwards. “What happened was,” he said in growl, “I came back from an argument with my sister about her alcohol problem to find my flatmate on a bloody morphine bender! Morphine, Sherlock, do you have any idea how dangerous that stuff is?”

“Of course,” said Sherlock, gingerly sitting up. “The benefits outweigh the risks, though, and I only indulge on the very odd occasion.”

That did nothing to appease John. “The benefits? You were completely out of it! Rambling about nonsense – moustaches, and finding me, and making me promise to play your bloody violin to me, as if I haven't been woken up by it at 3am far too often.” He ran a hand through his hair while Sherlock sat stock still, electrified. “You can't ever do this again, Sherlock,” he said, every sleepless hour making itself heard in his voice. “I should leave this time in all rights, but it seems I'm too much of an idiot to do that. You do this again, though, and that's it. I can't live with an addict.”

Sherlock barely heard him. He'd told John he'd found him, that he'd play for him? That could only have one meaning. He sprang up from the bed, pushing aside his morphine hangover as the minor hindrance that it was. “You won't,” he reassured John, trying to remember where he'd last left his violin. Had he played it last night? “I won't take it again, not if...” It was in the kitchen, he remembered suddenly, and rushed off without finishing his sentence.

John followed him out of his bedroom with a frown and stopped in the sitting room. “Sherlock,” he said tiredly, “I don't have the energy for this. Can't you just relax for the morning so that I can get some sleep without having to worry about you?”

“Yes, of course,” called Sherlock from the kitchen, snatching up his violin. “Just sit down and I'll play for you. Something calming, as an apology, and then you can go to sleep.”

John sighed. “I'd rather just sleep,” he said as Sherlock re-entered the sitting room.

Sherlock frowned. “Sit,” he commanded, pointing his bow at the sofa. “I'm making it up to you. That's what people do, isn't it?”

John looked at him for a long moment, then sat down on the sofa with a sigh, clearly too tired to argue. “Just one song,” he said with resignation.

“That's all I need,” said Sherlock, flashing him a grin, nervousness suddenly clenching at his stomach. He hadn't played this tune in front of anyone else since he was six, and he'd never played any concert that was as important as this one. He didn't even know why, really, just that this was going to be the start of something so big that he couldn't even conceive of it right now.

He set the violin under his chin, raised his bow, took a deep breath and began.

From the moment the first note rang out, John was transfixed. He stared at Sherlock as if seeing him for the first time, barely breathing, and Sherlock stared right back, hands moving almost automatically, running through his favourite of Mendelssohn's Lieder with barely any thought after so many years of playing it to himself. As the notes fell into place, so did his memories, every vision he'd ever had under the influence of morphine coming back to him, reflected in John's eyes.

He'd loved this man before, spent a lifetime by his side and never tired of him, given over to him parts of himself that he hadn't even believed he'd had, and now he had the chance to do the same all over again. It was a rush headier than any of the drugs he'd ever taken.

When the last note had finally faded away into the silence of the sitting room, he dropped the violin to his side and waited, his heart in his throat, for John's response.

It wasn't long in coming. John let out a long breath, as if he hadn't breathed through the whole song, and blinked. “I didn't know you could play like that,” he said unsteadily.

Sherlock shrugged. “I don't very often,” he said.

“What was the tune?” asked John.

Sherlock couldn't keep the grin off his face. “Mendelssohn's Allegro di molto in B-flat minor,” he said. “It used to be your favourite.”

John stared at him. “I'm pretty sure I've never heard it before in my life,” he said.

“In this life,” corrected Sherlock. “It will be your favourite, then – tenses are so unimportant.”

John half-shook his head. “Are you still high?” he asked. “You're not making any sense.”

Sherlock set his violin down carefully. “I'm making perfect sense,” he said. “You just don't see it all yet.” He would, though. It was just a matter of time, and time they had. Years, even, stretching out in front of them.

He sat down on the sofa next to John, fixing his eyes on him intently. “You felt it, didn't you?” he asked. “You knew it already, you just had to be reminded.”

John was frowning at him. “I suppose,” he said hesitantly. “but that...”

“Like knowing how to look at a crime scene,” interrupted Sherlock. “Or how to deal with me when I'm in one of my moods.”

“There's no dealing with you when you're in one of your moods,” said John wryly.

“Precisely,” said Sherlock. “You already knew that.”

John let out a sigh. “Sherlock, what are you talking about?” he asked, and Sherlock could tell that the spell cast by the music was beginning to wear off.

“I'm saying there are some things you only need to be reminded of,” he said, leaning closer to John until his mouth was mere inches away. Tellingly, John didn't shift back even the smallest amount. “Like this.”

 

****

 

The first time Sherlock kissed John, it felt like he was exactly where he was always meant to be. John shifted under his embrace for a second, then fell into the kiss as if it was the thousandth they'd shared, and not the first. There will be a thousand thought Sherlock with unshakable certainty. This was just the beginning of something they'd already lived, and now that they'd got it back, there was no way Sherlock was letting it go.