Skin Deep (1/?)

Saturday, 25 February 2012 05:48 pm
ofalexandra: (Sherlock/John)
[personal profile] ofalexandra
A BBC Sherlock fanfic, Sherlock/John. X-Men Crossover. AU. PG-13, rating will go up as story progresses. (6341 words)

Loosely based on prompt kink meme here. I didn't follow the prompt to the letter, though.

Skin Deep
Just because you're a Mutant doesn't mean you can't still be a freak. John Watson has been both his whole life. Until he met empath Sherlock Holmes at the Xavier Institute, he never realised how lonely he was.


John Watson first met Sherlock Holmes through Mike Stamford, who had introduced John to the empathic detective on his first day at the Xavier Institute. It wasn’t that John resented his new partner, because he really didn’t; he just didn’t appreciate the way Stamford had so easily read his aura (or something like that, he wasn’t particularly sure or keen to be sure of the man’s powers) and deemed him a perfect fit for Sherlock.

In any case, it was all said and done, and the partnership was registered with the government in record time. Apparently, as one Sally Donovan confided in him on afternoon as she lifted a tonne of weights easily with her super-strength, Sherlock had dismissed and run out all his previous assigned partners, so John was really getting the shit end of the deal. John had shrugged non-committedly, unwilling to judge so arbitrarily. He had glanced down at his hand, thought back to his childhood, and soldiered on as he always did.

That didn’t mean getting acquainted with Sherlock was a piece of cake, though. The empath was notoriously elusive (clearly his powers helped in avoidance a great deal), and John had yet to see hide or hair of him since their initial meeting in the basement laboratory with Mike two weeks ago. He supposed it was almost serendipitous, really, because he was still trying to reorientate himself to settling down in a quasi-civilian life.

Most nights, John would still shoot up in bed, heart pounding and chest heaving, echoes of gunshots fading in his ears. He would clench his fists, calm his breathing, and completely fail to fall back asleep.

He liked it here at the Institute. It was mostly quiet, and judging eyes were nowhere to be found. After Afghanistan, after everything, quiet was more than welcome. Still, the inactivity was not kind to his soldier’s body, and the lack of strenuous physical activity made his injured shoulder ache and his limp considerably worsened.

The Institute was fairly busy for majority of the day as youngsters bustled around on their way to classes, and the chatter and laughter of youthful exuberance carried up to his room on the third floor. A small part of him envied the purpose of the students - they were young, with their entire lives stretching out ahead of them like a blank canvas. Mostly, he was silently thankful for the solitude he had been so generously granted.

John’s entry into the Xavier Institute could be similarly credited to Mike Stamford. Following his exit from the RAMC, John had drifted aimlessly for several months before a mixture of happenstance and luck threw him in the way of Stamford one early April morning. The aura-reader had taken a swift look at him, noted the “muted grey and intermittent navies” of his aura, and whisked him off to America to aid the Mutant Cause.

Honestly, John had been doubtful at first, but he knew Mike, and he had nothing better to do anyway. It was hard enough for a wounded, trembling Soldier-surgeon to find a job, but a wounded, trembling Soldier-surgeon-mutant? You could kiss any work opportunities goodbye. It was one of the reasons John had enlisted in the first place. In the Army, no one paid too much heed if you were a mutant; they were all just glad you had their backs, even if several slurs and insults cropped up occasionally.

As he spent more time at the Institute, he began to align himself with their cause more and more. Mutants were increasingly accepted in society, yes, but they were still a far way off from being treated as full equals. Christ, in some countries, mutants couldn’t even vote. It was bad enough that the government had imposed a compulsory registration for all mutants a decade prior, but there were talks even now of segregated communities for “the safety of the general public”. What utter shite.

And that was where the Institute came in, Professor Xavier had explained. John had only met the legend himself once, on his first day here, but he had immense respect for him. Xavier had taken one look at John, extended a hand of acceptance and friendship, and had welcomed John into his fold without so much as a by-your-leave. The level of trust and camaraderie was breathtaking.

Xavier had outlined his vision to John: the education and befriending of the masses, such that fear and prejudice against the Mutant community would be gradually eroded, and the foiling of any inflammatory or violent action by Mutants against the general populace. The second part, the Professor had elaborated, was where John and a select team of Mutants would come in. Magneto had been quiet lately, the older man had said with a frown. Too quiet. Something, he was sure, was brewing, and they needed to stop him before a full-out war between Mutants and ordinary people was waged. John had immediately agreed and offered his services unconditionally.

Purpose. This was what the Institute gave him. When John was younger, before his powers had fully manifested and his parents treated him with wary caution, his mother had knelt down, took his tiny hand, and told him that everyone in the world was here for a <i>purpose</i>. The John of today wasn’t one for such sentimental or trite sayings, but something about the way Xavier had spoken that day unearthed that sliver of memory from the recesses of his mind. Maybe, he considered, purpose was what his life had been consistently lacking.

He glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece in his bedroom. Two o’clock, it proclaimed. John mentally shrugged. It was as good a time to finally hunt down and get to know Sherlock Holmes as any.

John wandered out of his room, and was momentarily struck by the muted wealth and opulence of the mansion. He chided himself; he had been here for slightly over a fortnight, and that was more than enough time to get used to his environs. Still, the luxury and old money that the estate gave off never failed to stun his working-class, blue-collar origins. He found himself wondering what his mum would have said, had she been able to see him now. After a brief moment, he banished the thought. Best to let the past stay there.

He passed dozens of people on his search for Sherlock, and was sidetracked for a while by a brawl between a youth who could manipulate water, and another who had what appeared to be an elastic body. He smiled a little at that. He would probably never get used to sights like this.

He stopped to ask passing individuals where he might find Sherlock Holmes four times, and was met by raised eyebrows on every occasion.

“Best steer clear, mate,” the first teen, a gangly youth who had really, really sharp teeth warned.

“Don’t bother,” said an invisible young woman (at least, John assumed it was a young woman from her voice - he couldn’t see her.)

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” chuckled a teacher who had previously been conversing with a pigeon on the windowsill.

“Are you crazy?” shrieked the last, an elderly lady who had hooves for feet.

The general response to his enquiries was almost enough to make John give up. He sighed, rolled his shoulders, and pressed on. Some things, especially unpleasant things like this, needed to be gotten over with as soon as possible. He was keen to start going on missions, but that would only be possible, Xavier had told him, once John and his partner - Sherlock - had been given the green light by their Supervisor.

There were worse things, John eventually concluded when he was forty minutes into his search, than hunting down your elusive partner on a lovely afternoon. After he had searched what seemed to be every possible location above ground, John decided to venture into the labs hidden in the basement. That was where he hit the jackpot.

He stumbled across Sherlock in the same chemistry lab where they had first been introduced, and proceeded to mentally curse himself for not thinking of checking here sooner. He was pulled out of his self-recrimination by the wry voice of his new partner.

“Took you long enough,” said Sherlock as he handled some chemical or another in a long, thin burette. “I could feel your frustration from all the way here.”

Sherlock spared him a dismissive once-over. “Afghanistan or Iraq?”

John’s shock must have been rather strong, because Sherlock grimaced immediately, his empathic receptors clearly sparking off. “You’re going to ask me how I know that,” he continued even as he sighed impatiently. “It’s quite obvious, really. Your haircut. Your posture. Your wound. Your PTSD. All signs point to a military background, and exposure to prolonged violent conflict. Therefore, a war of some sort. Seeing as you’re British, and Britain is currently only involved in two major military conflicts, the two being Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s all painfully obvious. So, Afghanistan or Iraq?”

John cleared his throat. “Ah - Afghanistan.”

“Hmm.” Sherlock turned back to his experiment, clearly done with their conversation.

“Aren’t you going to even try to get to know me a little? We’re going to be partners, after all.” John wasn’t angry so much as he was slightly irked, but the man’s self-absorption really rankled.

Sherlock sighed, and rolled his eyes even as he continued with whatever it was that he was doing. “I don’t need to have a pointless conversation with you to know everything there is to know. You’re thirty-five, thirty-six. Recently discharged from military service due to the gunshot wound in your left shoulder. Your limp is evidently psychosomatic, and you joined the army to escape the alienation you felt being a mutant. You have a blue-collar background, attended a state school, and went on to a reputable university - but not Oxbridge. You don’t get along with your family. You have at least one older sibling; you’re not close.” He huffed impatiently. “Is that enough? Or would you like me to go into a detailed account of your daily routine too?”

Exasperated, annoyed, impressed and slightly amused, John shook his head.

Arching a haughty eyebrow, Sherlock closed his eyes for a split-second - John assumed he was getting an empathic reading on him - before snapping them back open. “Interesting,” the detective murmured. “You’re not angry.”

John shrugged. “Why would I be? What you said was spot-on, and it was pretty brilliant, what you just did.”

Sherlock’s eyebrows shot up even further, and he stopped his experiment to face John fully. “That’s not what people usually say,” he conceded.

Curious, John couldn’t help but ask. “And what do they usually say?”

“Piss off.”

Their chuckles went on for several long minutes. This moment, John would come to reflect later, was when he realised that this partnership was going to work perfectly, and the last vestiges of his old life slipped away.



_____




If there was one thing Sherlock Holmes hated, it was being interrupted. Thus far, John Watson had interrupted his experiments twice. The first time, Sherlock conceded, was not the ex-Army doctor’s fault; Mike had all but barged in and proclaimed them ‘compatible’. Sherlock had afforded the discharged soldier little more than a cursory glance, too absorbed in his calculation of the boiling temperature of vitrous humour found in human eyeballs.

Still, that one glance had supplied him with more than enough information. Ex-military, medical profession, wounded in the war, likely trained in trauma surgery, classic British stoicism, uncomfortable with his power in his younger days. Boring.

His emotions were neither interesting nor different, running the typical gamut of geniality, friendliness, awkwardness, offense and ire, as most people were wont to experience when meeting Sherlock for the first time. Even if John Watson’s level of offense and ire were less acute than the majority of people Sherlock had interacted with in his lifetime, well, that was hardly different enough to warrant much attention.

It wasn’t until it occurred to Sherlock, once his two fellow countrymen had departed, that he hadn’t been able to discern John Watson’s power. Most of the time, the process was laughably simple. Sherlock would take one look at an individual, use their emotions as a baseline, study their gestures and mannerisms, and immediately deduce what their power was. Take Mike, for example. The way the portly man constantly looked slightly over and around the people he interacted with was a dead giveaway; he was obviously an aura-reader.

But John Watson? Sherlock mentally reviewed their first encounter: left hand firmly clasped on his cane, upright military posture. Usual run of emotions. Steady right hand, but suffering from PTSD. Strength under pressure, then. Calmly studying the lab around him, eyes sweeping from side to side; observant and detailed, probably left-over from his Army training and time in the battlefield. But there were no tell-tale signs that screamed: this is my power! John Watson had exhibited none of the typical indicators - he hadn’t held one hand at the ready as those who manipulated elements did, he hadn’t frowned slightly as those who were psionics or psychics were wont to do, he hadn’t held his body a little aloof from his surroundings, as teleporters and shapeshifters usually did.

Maybe this partnership would be more fruitful than the Institute’s previous attempts to shove him into one. He turned back to the man in question. “I play the violin at odd hours, and don’t speak for days on end. Will either of those be a problem?”

Sherlock could feel John’s amusement and rising excitement. “Do you play well?”

“So I’ve been told,” he allowed.

John nodded. “Then it’s fine. Just a note of caution - I, ah, I tend to have nightmares, and they can be quite...loud and violent. Will that bother you?”

John’s slight embarrassment was more than countered with a fresh wave of defiance. Good. Sherlock disliked meek, spineless men. He waved an impatient hand in dismissal of the notion.

Snatching up his scarf and coat from the nearby lab stool, he strode to the lab exit. “Well then, no use dallying any further. Come, John, we’ve to speak to Lestrade before the fun can start.”



_____




Sherlock Holmes was an odd one. A little disconcerting, sure, but mostly just odd. He was a right arrogant, cocksure bastard, but John couldn’t help but be drawn to him. Maybe, he considered, it was to do with the man’s almost inhuman beauty. John had always judged himself to be healthily bisexual, and so was hardly immune to the pale-skinned, sharp-lined, vaguely feline grace of his new partner. Still, the man was clearly not interested in anything other than his work, so John sighed and filed him under his mental box labelled No Chance In Hell.

The detective was something else entirely, really. As they wove through the Institute on their way to meet this Lestrade person, the crowds parted for Sherlock (and John, who was tagging behind) like the bloody Red Sea. It was almost impressive. En route, Sherlock exchanged curt nods with several teachers and staff that they encountered, but was completely dismissive of the admiring (and some not-so-admiring) looks thrown his way.

They ended up in a section of the Institute that John had never been in, somewhere in the West Wing of the enormous estate. Drawing up to a mahogany door with the embossed letters proclaiming it was Division 221b, Sherlock swept in without bothering to knock.

“Lestrade,” he said in way of greeting. John sighed internally. Well, at least he wasn’t the only one Sherlock treated in that manner.

The salt-and-pepper haired, rather frazzled looking man behind a large oak desk glanced up and exhaled loudly. “Sherlock, what now? And who’s your new friend?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes as he made an impatient noise at the back of his throat. “Your level of competence is appalling. This is John Watson, whom, had you bothered to get your paperwork in order, you would know as the new member of your division, as well as my new partner.”

Lestrade startled almost comically. “Partner? You have a partner now?” He sent John a grateful look. “Thank god. I was beginning to think we’d never be rid of you, Sherlock.” Extending a hand to John, they shook in welcome. “What did you do to get him to accept you, John? We’d all but given up. Anyhow, welcome to Division 221b; I’m your Supervisor.”

After exchanging the requisite pleasantries and greetings while an impatient Sherlock loitered behind, Lestrade pulled up a stack of thick binders, passing one to each of them. “We’ve had several apparent suicides these past few weeks. Autopsy showed traces of an unknown poison in the victims’ systems, but no sign of struggle or force used, so the authorities are ruling it as suicide for now. However, our intelligence has informed us that the victims are all unregistered Mutants - you know, those who managed to slip through the cracks in the government. We need you two to solve the case before any more details are leaked to the public and the Mutant community. Relations between our two races are bad enough as it is; we don’t need a host of targeted murders like these to make things worse. To date, we’ve had three -”

“Four,” Sherlock interrupted. “Four murders. The fourth is a Jennifer Wilson, murdered several hours ago. The report is in the The Times. Same poison, same MO.”

Too used to Sherlock’s surprises, Lestrade took it all in stride. “Four, then. We’ve had four victims so far. Let’s work to -” Lestrade glanced down at his wrist, and John noted that words had appeared, almost like magic ink, on the paler underside of his wrist before fading away. John surmised that that had something to do with Lestrade’s Mutant power.

“Lauriston Gardens,” Lestrade informed them, clearly having gotten hold of new information from his power of some sort. “The last victim - Jennifer Wilson - was found in Lauriston Gardens, London.” He levelled measured looks at them both. “Gentlemen. Ready for a short jaunt back to our lovely Motherland?”

Sherlock’s answering grin was whip-sharp.




_____





Lestrade led them to an adjacent room, stocked to the brim with whirring machinery and state-of-the-art technology. Gesturing to the equipment, he informed them that they could take whatever gadgets they might require, but was nonetheless unsurprised when Sherlock snorted derisively and swept out of the room, muttering that his own intellect was more useful that the entire room put together. John merely shrugged and trailed after Sherlock, grimacing apologetically on behalf of his partner.

They were handed clearance passes and directed to the debriefing room before they could be released. The debriefing room was a large, ruthlessly organised space with racks and racks of the iconic X-men suits hanging along a long wall. Metal tables, eerily reminiscent of those found in autopsy rooms, were placed in a scattered formation and littered with tools and appliances of various sorts.

Lestrade strode in moments after they arrived. “Molly? Where are you? I need you to suit these two up, we’ve got an urgent case to get to in London.”

Despite the fact that John had been among all kinds of Mutants - and was one himself - he still got shocked whenever those with powers of invisibility appeared out of thin air. His heartbeat jumped significantly when this Molly abruptly visualised five feet from them. John attempted to ignore the bemused glance Sherlock directed at him.

Molly was a thin, mousy-but-pretty young woman that John deemed to be in her late twenties. She was decked out in an X-suit, which she hurriedly covered with a dwarfing white lab coat.

“Sherlock, John, this is Molly Hooper, our resident suit expert and Mutant analyst. She’ll be suiting both of you up - yes, Sherlock, even you.” Lestrade held up a placating hand before Sherlock could protest. “It’s Standard Operational Procedure. If you don’t suit up, you don’t get the case.” The snap of Sherlock’s jaw as he shut it in annoyance was an audible click.

Tucking a lock of hair behind her ear in a rather nervous fashion, Molly took over from Lestrade. “Hi. So, umm, Sherlock, I’ve gotten your suit ready based on the specifications in your file.” She darted over to the rack of suits, skimming through several before nodding and pulling one out. “Here. It’s made of a custom fabric - flexible, waterproof, tear-proof, fire-resistant and breathable. For your empathic abilities, I’ve modified the suit a little; I’ve made it permeable as well - your file says you’re a tactile empath, so this won’t limit your sensing abilities like normal clothes. Of course, this feature is something you can activate whenever you choose - just think about the region of the suit you want to be permeable, and it’ll respond to your brainwaves - so that way, you won’t be overwhelmed or anything.”

Sherlock looked vaguely impressed at that. Sending the detective a timid smile, she handed the suit to him as she turned to John. “Right, John, your file doesn’t specify your abilities, so I couldn’t customise one for you. I could probably do it now if you give me ten minutes, but you have to...” She trailed off, glancing at him awkwardly. It wasn’t considered polite etiquette to ask a Mutant what their power was, and John disliked sharing that information with others.

His fingers briefly tightened on his cane before he smiled genially back at her. “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be fine in a standard suit. I mean, it’s pretty much got everything covered, right? Waterproof. Fire-resistant. Tear-proof. Breathable. So yeah, I’ll just get one of those. No need for any special features.”

John could feel the speculative look Lestrade shot him, and the weight of Sherlock’s assessing gaze. He ignored them both. It wasn’t that he was ashamed of his power - he had more than three decades to get comfortable with it, for god’s sake. Still, the nature of his power made him somewhat of a freak even amongst Mutants, and the memory of revolted looks and cringing winces had made him guard his power zealously. Afghanistan was different. There, no one gave a damn how creepy or unnatural or twisted his power was - they were just glad it saved their collective arses. But that didn’t mean his power was appreciated or looked upon with envy back in civilian society, even in the company of Mutants.

Molly nodded, heading off to the rack to pull out a suit in his size. He took it from her gratefully, sending her a small smile.

“Right, then, if we’re all set to go -” Lestrade gestured them over to him. “Your arms please, gentlemen.”

John shot him a guarded look of bewilderment. Lestrade chuckled at this, going on to elaborate. “Relax, John, I’m not trying to kill you or anything like that.” He rolled up the sleeve of his shirt, tapping the underside of his wrist twice with a finger. This is my power, the words that surfaced read. I’ll be using it to communicate with you while you’re in London. It’s confidential and untraceable. Grinning, he slid the sleeve back down.

“So, if you please?”

Tugging up their sleeves, John and Sherlock offered him their wrists. Lestrade tapped each of their wrists twice, and John felt a warm tingle at the back of his mind at the action. Test, his wrist read after a brief moment. Checking over their wrists, Lestrade nodded.

“You’ll feel that same warm tingle whenever I send you a message. When that happens, check your wrist. If you want to communicate with me, tap your wrist twice, picture the Xavier Institute, and hold the entire text of what you want to say in your mind’s eye. Got it?”

John and Sherlock murmured their understanding, and tried it out at Lestrade’s behest. Satisfied, their Supervisor led them to the adjoining room, where a gangly youth of what John gauged to be no older than twenty waited.

“Guys, this is Peter - he’s the teleporter on duty today.”

Noting John’s expression of dawning realisation, Sherlock shot him a lightning-quick smile. “Why, John, did you think we were going to take a plane all the way back to London?”

John shook his head in amazement - thirty years old, and he was still surprised by his world on a near-daily basis.

“Peter here will take you to Lauriston Gardens. We’ve already got Anderson and Donovan on the scene, so rendezvous with them and they’ll take you through more of what we know.”

Sherlock’s face grew annoyed. “Anderson? You put an idiot like Anderson on this case? Surely you’re joking, Lestrade. I can’t work with an idiot like him. His <i>face</i> is the bane of my existence.”

Lestrade sighed, and ran a tired, long-suffering hand down his face. “No, Sherlock. I am not joking. Look, it’s either you work with Anderson or you don’t come on board this case, alright? Christ.

John had to stifle his laughter upon seeing the aggravated and generally over-dramatic pique on Sherlock’s face. The man in question sent him a quelling glare.

“In any case, we’ve got five days on this before the press swoops down on our heads, so toe the deadline. Peter will return for you at oh-nine-hundred on Friday. Are we clear on this?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes mutinously while John nodded, military training too ingrained to do anything else.




_____





The teleport had left John queasy, Sherlock knew. The man’s mind was boiling over with nausea. Pushing that aside, Sherlock focused on activating the permeable cloth on the arms of his X-suit. Upon their arrival, an officer with the New Scotland Yard had ushered them into the dilapidated building and up the stairs.

Sherlock seethed. He could feel the sickening emotions of Anderson and Donovan three flights up, swirling with petty feelings and other useless gripes. The lingering trace of fear and horror and terror from the deceased victim was acute; a stark layer blanketing the emotions of others in the vicinity.

He grimaced, intently taking in deep breaths on his climb up. As much as Sherlock liked and was thankful for his abilities, the occasional unwieldiness of it had made him healthily cautious. The harsh memories of collapsing in fits in the middle of overwhelming crowds were fresh in his mind, and one too many painful brushes with the sheer emotional intensity that choked him when skin-to-skin contact was initiated had taught him to be safe in his aloofness and distance.

Flexing a suit-covered hand, he drew up onto the third floor landing where the roiling emotions of leftover death and pain were the strongest. Sweeping past Anderson and Donovan without bothering with a greeting, he vaguely registered the offensive word and disdainful snort from the pair.

He could feel the killer. Activating the permeable cloth on the hands of his X-suit, he held his hands up in front of him, facing the prone body of Jennifer Wilson on the ground. Excitement. Thrill. Glee. Oh, this was certainly no suicide. Beneath the killer’s emotions, Jennifer Wilson’s fear and terror was sharp.

He sensed John draw up behind him in the room. “You’re a doctor, aren’t you?” He gestured towards the body. “Go ahead, tell me what you can deduce from her.”

John knelt down beside the corpse, emotions steady and deep. Sherlock was almost distracted by it, and frowned in response to his mind’s disobedience. He never got sidetracked by spectator emotions during a case. Shaking his head to clear it, he closed his eyes as he waded deeper into the emotion-laden ocean that was this room.

“Well, the main cause of death was asphyxiation. She choked on her own spit. She’s been dead for - I’d put the estimate at seven, eight hours ago. No signs of struggle, no evident foul play, except for -” John leaned towards the body, sniffing it. “Faint traces of poison. Nothing we don’t already know.”

As Sherlock sifted through the maelstrom of emotions, one stood out. Panic. But no - it wasn’t Jennifer Wilson’s. Why? Why would the killer, who had been delighting entirely in his kill, suddenly panic? Opening his eyes, he circled the corpse several times.

“Married, had multiple affairs, well-heeled. Mud splashes on her stockings - so not from London. Didn’t know her killer. Underside of collar, damp; had been out in the rain. From Cardiff, then.”

He snapped his fingers as the answer crystallised in his mind. “Anderson! Where’s the suitcase?”

“What suitcase? There wasn’t any -” Sherlock bit off an angry shout.

Of course there was a suitcase, you imbecile. Look at the mud splashes on her stockings! It clearly came from something she was rolling behind her as she walked - ergo, a suitcase. Where is it? Surely even someone of your pathetic competence would be able to locate a hot pink suitcase?”

Anderson flushed a disturbing shade of puce, clearly livid. “Listen here, Holmes. My power lets me identify every single material and element that is in this building, and there is no trace of a suitcase here now. So why don’t you -”

Sherlock was out of the room before Anderson could finish his tirade. Of course, Sherlock thought. The panic. That was why the killer panicked for a brief moment. He still had the suitcase, which, if found, could be traced back to him, so he dumped it nearby.

Oh, this was brilliant.

The game, as they say, was on.




_____





John’s first encounter with Mycroft Holmes was like a scene lifted from a bad spy movie.

John had watched Sherlock bound out of the room at Lauriston Gardens, disappearing to god-knows-where. By the time John had made it back down the three torturous flights of stairs, Sherlock had long run off in pursuit of some clue or another. He eyed the cane in his left hand acidly.

He ignored the pitying looks directed his way, and shuffled out onto the street outside. Donovan had seen him, and had come up to give him a few words of ‘friendly’ advice.

“Steer clear of the freak,” she had warned. “He’s crazy. Seriously, he’s a real sociopath. He doesn’t feel anything or care for anyone. You know his empathic powers? I reckon he feels everyone else’s emotions because he has none of his own. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll avoid him. Mark my words, one day we’re going to find bodies that Sherlock Holmes put there.”

John supposed Donovan meant well, but the vitriol in her voice had all but eclipsed any inkling of good intention it might have contained. Maybe Sherlock Holmes wasn’t the most emotionally connected person, but that didn’t give anyone the right to judge him for it. John thought about Sherlock’s rapier-sharp wit and diamond-brilliance before dismissing Donovan’s ‘advice’ entirely.

But, well, that was all in the past - inasmuch as several hours ago could be classified as ‘in the past’, anyway. John had been promptly forced into a black sedan by way of CCTV cameras that tracked his every movement, phones that rang whenever he approached them, and threats made over said phones. He had been taken to a deserted warehouse, where a sinister umbrella-wielding figure waited in the shadows at one end.

“Please, Doctor Watson, have a seat. I’m sure your leg must be aching.” Pointing at the lone chair using his umbrella, the sharply-dressed man with a public-school drawl arched an imperious brow.

“No, thanks. I’d prefer to stand.”

The man pinned him with a calculating gaze. “What are your intentions regarding Sherlock Holmes?”

John refused to answer, even as he mentally reassessed everything he knew about Sherlock. That detective, John sighed, certainly ran in interesting circles, if this was anything to go by.

“Your obstinacy is very brave, Doctor Watson. Then again, I’ve always found bravery to be a kind word for stupidity. Let me restructure and contextualise the question for you: up till two weeks ago, you were an aimless ex-Army doctor on a pension, listlessly living in London. You ran into Mike Stamford, an old friend of yours, one morning, and he brought you to the Xavier Institute in America, partnered you with Sherlock, and you obediently acquiesced throughout. Let me embellish what you know of Sherlock: you are the third Mutant they have attempted to partner him with, and the only one willing to enter the partnership. It cannot be due to his, ah, unique personality. So what are your intentions regarding Sherlock Holmes?”

“He’s just my new partner. That’s all there is to it.”

His response was met with an imperiously curious look. “I see.” A slender, almost skeletal finger tapped the handle of his umbrella once. “How interesting.”

“What if I were to offer you certain compensations for information on Sherlock Holmes? For updates on his whereabouts and activities, I would pay you handsomely.”

“Forget it. I don’t need your money.”

A condescending smile graced the man’s lips. “You’re very loyal very quickly. I wonder, what has Sherlock Holmes done to deserve such loyalty?”

“It’s not that,” John found himself immediately protesting. “I’m just not interested in your offer.”

Raised eyebrows again. “Some would equate that to loyalty.” Glancing at his wristwatch, the man tapped the floor twice with his umbrella in a gesture that was vaguely symbolic. “I think we’re done here. Thank you, Doctor Watson. It was a pleasure.” He waved a hand towards the black sedan parked behind them. “The driver will send you to your residence.”

It was almost surreal. A shady meeting in an abandoned warehouse, a kidnapping, a mysterious black car. John was half-expecting someone to yell cut! at any minute now. As he turned away to head to the car, curiosity got the better of him.

“Who are you?”

The answering smirk was slow and sly. “An interested party. For your sake, let’s just say that I’m...Sherlock Holmes’s archenemy.”

John boarded the car with what must have been an incredulous expression on his face, too gobsmacked by the entire encounter to be afraid.

When he looked down at his hand, the tremors had stopped. He wondered what that meant, and what that said about him as a person, if flying in the face of danger made him feel more exhilarated than he’d felt in months.




_____





A suicidal text message, a cab-chase, one frantic city-wide search and a shooting later, John Watson was having the time of his life. He hadn’t even been able to summon up the guilt he knew he should feel at having taken another man’s life, but as he reasoned, this was one murder that would have saved more lives than just the one.

When John stumbled into the building opposite the one Sherlock was being held hostage in and saw that he was about to take the pill, the first thing he had felt was a choking, acute fear. Following that intense burst of emotion that visibly startled Sherlock even from a building across, John had slipped into the militarised, ingrained part of his brain that had been honed by years of training.

The room John was in contained multiple stainless steel chairs, which he did not hesitate to make use of. Yanking the leg off the nearest chair, he absorbed the steel into his palm, transmuting it into a gun that was moulded onto the end of his right hand. Bones, flesh and metal melded together into the deadly form of a Browning L9A1. Transmuting bullets in his other hand, he transferred the moulded bullets into the gun his hand had transformed into. He took aim and fired, the shot loud and ringing in his ears.

He was out of the room before Jeffrey Hope’s body even hit the floor. On his way to the building’s exit, he transmuted the steel he had absorbed back into its pure form, and disposed of the lump of metal in a bin, wiping any prints off it. Even if the police found the metal piece, there would be no connection to him.

He was going to punch Sherlock, that reckless berk.



_____




“You’re looking for someone’s who experienced in dealing with handguns. Steady, graceful under pressure. An expert marksman. Ex-military, probably a medical man, given the steadiness of -” Sherlock caught sight of John, who was surreptitiously loitering near several patrol cars, looking for all the world as if he had innocently stumbled onto this crime scene.

Sherlock saw the single flex John gave his left hand, and catalogued the way his stance was just shy of restful. That was when he knew.

“You know what? Forget everything I just said. I’m in shock.” He waved an indignant Lestrade away as he pointed to the garish orange thing some paramedic had pressed upon him. “Look, they gave me a blanket and everything.”

Sherlock drew up in front of John. “They never managed to find the bullet.”

The corner of John’s mouth quirked upwards minutely. “Really? Shame, guess the sniper’s going to go unpunished, then.”

“Well, he did save my life, so I owe him a measure of thanks - even if he did kill someone.”

John choked back laughter. “I’m sure he’d be more than welcome. And honestly, that was one awful cabbie.”

Sherlock turned to face John fully, and looked at the nondescript man in front of him in an entirely new light. John’s emotions were deliciously steady and comforting, a veritable port in a rolling storm. John had killed for him. John had saved his life. How could he have gotten it so wrong? John was anything but boring. His powers still remained an enigma, yes - but that was not a concern, because Sherlock was sure he would figure it out sooner or later. It didn’t matter. As it was, John Watson was fascinating.

“He was, wasn’t he?” Sherlock agreed. “The worst cabbie.”

Laughter, Sherlock found, was a beautiful, beautiful thing.



TBC
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ofalexandra: (Default)
Alexandra

who?

Alexandra. (Allie, for short.)
Asian-British. University Student.

This is ofalexandra's fic journal.

Adores: BBC Sherlock, Psych, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, The Sentinel, and Haruki Murakami.

Abhors: Lettuce. And Disney's Snow White.