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Illumination

By Etimire_T

Mystery / Action

1

His intents are not malicious, and that is probably the only reason John stays because any intelligent human being would realize that their friendship is odd at best and destructive at the worst.

"It's a good thing I'm an idiot, then," John once said.

Sherlock shuffles up and down the hallway; eyes glued rigidly to John's bedroom door, which is shut firmly. He realizes now that he did an incredibly cruel thing and for the first time in his entire life, guilt is chewing him to pieces. The sensation rather frightens him, to be honest. He's supposed to be a sociopath, incapable of emotions.

So what the heck is this?

Shivering, Sherlock scrubs his hands up and down his face and through his hair, tearing at the roots. Now Sherlock knows why people hate guilt, why criminals go mad because of it.

It's like a burn, a tumor, a cancer, eating him from the inside out and every step he paces while John sleeps only makes the pain worse. Soon he fears it will be crippling.

How can he be so stupid, to do this to the one and only friend he has ever had and probably ever will? John Watson is a bright star, shining into his darkness and keeping him from tipping over the oh-so-close edge of insanity. He's ruined him, Sherlock feels. The only salvation he has ever seen; the only safety and quiet amid his ever rushing thoughts that fly forward like a train screaming toward the end of the track. He's ruined him.

John Watson is the best human being on Earth. And he doesn't hoard his humanity to himself. Maybe even unconsciously, John passes just a bit of his warmth to Sherlock Holmes.

And now Sherlock has hurt his light, his doctor, his confidant, his blogger… his friend. He bit the hand that held him up.

No, Sherlock is most certainly not an angel, despite his sorry attempts.


It started so innocently. Well, as innocent as Sherlock Holmes experimenting with a probably illegal hallucinatory drug can be. He didn't have any live specimens to work with. Besides they wouldn't be able to speak and tell him exactly what he needed to know.

The purpose of the drug was to put the victim into a state of mind where they would tell the truth about whatever subject that needed to be addressed. Mycroft would have a heyday with this stuff someday. That is, if it worked. Sherlock could hardly try it out on himself, since there was no one to influence the delusions.

John was the logical choice. Besides, his cup of tea sat so invitingly on the counter, and any minute he'd come stumbling out of his bedroom and down the drink like his life depended on it.

Glancing around, Sherlock verified that his was alone, and then with hardly any movement at all, tipped a drop or two into the tea. He stirred it and then scuttled to the other side of the kitchen. The sound of John's footsteps met his ears.

As expected, John glanced at his flatmate, grunted, his usual morning greeting, and downed the cup of tea. Sherlock was pretty sure that was not they way tea was supposed to be drunk. Sipping tea, right? No? Okay, then.

Like a hawk, he watched John stumbled around the flat, still half asleep. "Have we got a case today?" John yawned.

Sherlock shrugged and left his experiments on the table. "No." He scowled. "Hopefully later…"

Nodding, John moved to enter the hallway, probably to retrieve something from his bedroom, but at that moment, he stopped sharply. He cocked his head, staring fiercely at the end of the hall. "Sherlock?" he whispered. His eyes widened awfully, and he gulped.

"Hmm?"

"We need to get out of here."

Sherlock stiffened. That was fast. The drug was already working. Cat-like, he crept behind John. "It's fine," he murmured, just loud enough for John to hear.

John slowly turned toward him, frowning in confusion. His pupils were completely dilated. "But the-"

"It's alright, John," he whispered. "I don't want you to hurt yourself. The effects will probably only last an hour or so."

Uncomprehending, John shivered and darted away from the hallway. Stumbly, he fell over an armchair and Sherlock had to catch him to keep the doctor from hitting his head. "John!" he barked, irritatedly. "Listen to me. Sit down."

"If it's all the same to you, sir. I'll stand."

What?

John's face melted from confusion into stone. His eyes hardened, and he tightened his lips.

It was a look Sherlock had only seen once. Right after Sherlock nearly killed himself because of a bet from a taxi driver, John met him at the crime scene. For just an instant, before his gentle smile covered it up, Sherlock saw the face before him. It was calculating and strong, pained and loyal; teeth clenched, emotions restrained.

This was John Watson, the soldier.

After the realization hit him, he fell back a step and stared at John in shock. John was reliving a memory, in all likelihood. Sherlock never wanted to see that face again in his entire life. It reminded Sherlock of himself, and he hated the idea that John, his light, was tainted by darkness the same way the detective was.

This could not end well, Sherlock felt, and he desperately tried to backtrack.

"John," he murmured, "It's me, Sherlock. You're at Bakers street. Home. Safe. No war. Nothing."

John snorted. "Don't give me that crap, general. I'm not going to fall for any of your tricks." Suddenly his head whipped to the side, and John stumbled back, falling to his knees. "Does it make you feel better when you hit me, sir?"

Crap.

Quickly, Sherlock hastened forward. "Tell me what you see, John."

John's eyes flew wildly to Sherlock, and he chuckled, but it was a sad, humorless laugh. "You can't beat me, general. I'm always going to be here, a thorn in your throat."

"I'm- I'm not a general, John. It's Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes."

Brief confusion splattered across the doctor's face, and he bowed his head. "Can you hear them, Sherlock?"

Relief flooded through the detective, and he took John's face in his hands. However, John whipped away from him as if Sherlock's skin was a brand.

"Don't touch me!" he screamed.

Oh, heaven above, this had to be the worst idea Sherlock had ever come up with. But there was no going back now. John would have to just ride it out. "Alright," he murmured softly, "I won't touch you."

On the floor, John curled his knees to his chest, his back against the wall, and stared sightless over Sherlock's shoulder.

Sherlock resisted the urge to turn and look because he knew there was nothing there.

"They're all dead, Sherlock. All of them." Tears rose in John's eyes, and for a moment they locked with Sherlock's gaze. "I-I tried to save them. You have to believe me. Please believe me. I did everything I could but they were dead and everythings black and ashes, and I don't- I don't-"

"...Shh," Sherlock whispered. It was odd, consoling, but the situation demanded it. "I believe you. You did everything you could. I know you did."

Determinedly, John nodded, but then his eyes drifted over Sherlock's shoulder again and his breath quickened. "Get behind me, David," he murmured. "They won't see you." John's expression sunk into fear, and he scrambled to his feet, unrestrained by Sherlock's hands. "Hey!" he shouted at a non-existent somebody, "Over here!"

"John!" Sherlock protested sadly. Then again, softer now and dripping with guilt. "John…"

"Look at me!" John growled. He wasn't speaking to Sherlock, but Sherlock still felt the heat of his glare, and it terrified him, even if he would never admit it. "You are an evil man, sir." He paused, as if listening to a reply. "You have no- no right to do this! If Sholto was here, he would-" Absolute fury encompassed Sherlock's flatmate's features. "They were innocent! Those people were innocent! You should have never put them in the crossfire!"

Sherlock couldn't decide whether or not he was terrified or awed. From what he could gather, John's general Sholto, had left and some man, had taken over his troop.

And John was not pleased.

"Who do you think you are?"

Oh, what Sherlock would do to hear the other side of this conversation. Suddenly, John jerked to the side in. His hand clutched his shoulder and John clenched his teeth in pain.

So that's how he was shot…

Slowly, John slumped down the wall. He trembled with rage Sherlock hadn't realized the man could portray. "David," John murmured. There was a pause, and then John shook his head firmly. The small movement made him tremble. "Don't you dare. You can't. I- I order you to stay- David!"

He moved to stand but fell backward once more. "No!" John shouted.

Apparently, David refused to listen. In all probability, Sherlock figured that the man had gone after the corrupt general. Going by the look of horror and disgust on John's face, it didn't take much to deduce the outcome. David did not survive the encounter.

"Oh, John," Sherlock whispered. "What have I done?"

"David…" John croaked brokenly.

There was a moment of complete silence and then Sherlock watched John's face contort through several emotions. Grief, despair, pain, exhaustion.

Anger.

Resolution.

Sherlock stumbled back as John pulled himself to his feet. Once more, his face was stone. No emotions seeped through the cracks.

John raised his fist, clenched around a non-existent weapon. Handgun, most likely, given his grip. With eyes like a slate of metal, he let out a shout.

"Turn around, General."

Apparently the general answered negatively because John frowned. "I want you to turn. I don't shoot men in the back, even if they're monsters like you." He paused and continued. "But don't think for a second that I won't shoot you between the ruddy eyes for what you have done."

Immediately, without hesitation, John tightened his grip.

And Sherlock couldn't watch his anymore. Racing to the kitchen, he picked up a bottle of sedative, (you never know when it may become handy) and quickly drew the necessary amount into a needle.

Racing back into the living room, Sherlock leaped over the armchair in his haste and found John on his knees, tears running silently down his face.

Sherlock didn't blame him. Sherlock doubted, with all his control, that he could have kept himself away from hysteria in a situation like John had experienced.

Murmuring unconsciously under his breath, Sherlock reached out and touched John's arm.

This time, John didn't jerk away. He stood still. Like the dead.

Sherlock injected the needle and within a few minutes, John swayed. He only just barely managed to keep John from hitting his head on the mantelpiece as he fell. Eased the doctor to the floor, Sherlock stared in silence at John.


Sherlock moves John to his bedroom and shuts him inside, unsure whether or not he deserves to look at his friend anymore.

Stupid, stupid idiot. How could he have deleted that John still was recovering from PTSD? He used to have a psychosomatic limp for heaven's sake!

Never should he have messed with John's perception, but it is too late, and now Sherlock must deal with the consequences.

Suddenly deciding that he can't leave John to sleep alone, just in case there is a problem, of course, he quietly opens John's door.

This is probably the first time Sherlock doesn't burst in or fall in or grumble in, no matter the hour. But right now, John requires silence. John is hurting, and it is because of a silly experiment.

So he enters quietly.

Sherlock hardly notices drawing up a chair, or that as the day drags on, he lets his dark head rest on the bed and slowly falls into a place halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness.

"Sherlock?" John croaks, hours later. The setting sun drifts through John's impeccably clean window blinds, and the light crisscrosses over the faces of the two men.

"Sherlock." John says again, nudging him.

This time, Sherlock jerks up from the bed and nearly falls off of the spinning desk chair his bottom half is perched on. Instant relief fills Sherlock's eyes, startling John.

Sherlock hardly ever lets his emotions show.

Smirking, John cocks his head. He glances around his bedroom. "Sherlock Holmes sleeping at my bedside. Was I dying or something?" He's only half joking.

Sherlock rolls his eyes. "Oh, don't give yourself so much credit. You seem to have recovered well from the effects of the-" He cuts off abruptly and John frowns.

He knows that look, the look Sherlock is wearing. Something is bothering him, immensely.

Suddenly John shivers as a memory surfaces. Didn't he have a dream? He relived a memory, more like, of the worse half-hour of his life.

And right before that?

"I... was drinking tea," he murmurs. How did he get from there to-?

Oh.

His gaze falls to Sherlock, who looks pathetically guilty, an unusual expression for the detective. John lets his exhale escape slowly from between his teeth. "You drugged me."

Frozen, Sherlock gulps. It would be so easy to lie to him. John would believe it. He trusts that Sherlock speaks the truth.

So why is he hesitating? For the first time in his life, Sherlock feels unbearably guilty, and he can feel it burning him from the inside out.

Maybe he can twist the truth a bit? He can say that he gave him a sedative. Technically he did. And not mention the hallucinations?

But John deserves to know the truth. John deserves Sherlock's honesty.

So Sherlock opens his mouth. "I..." He starts, coughs, continues hastily. "I slipped a few drops of something into your tea without regard to the consequences... I am... sorry, John." The last words are like spitting up ice cubes but he says it.

John blinks, his memory or the 'dream' growing in his mind. "What sort of drug?" He whispers.

"... An experimental hallucination-inducing drug." Sherlock speaks quietly and almost so fast that John doesn't hear.

But John does hear, and he sits up slowly, muttering profanity. "Good grief, Sherlock," he hisses. "You are such an idiot."

For once, Sherlock doesn't argue. He just sits, eyes on his hands. "Well, now I know it works."

Seeing John's face fold into anger, Sherlock realizes that that was probably-not-good to note at the moment.

John grips his hair for a moment, breathing. Suddenly he looks up. "So that dream I had-?"

"A hallucination," Sherlock answers quickly. "You were... acting it out."

All at once John moves to lunge at Sherlock, and Sherlock doesn't flinch. But at the last instant, John draws back and stares at him fiercely. "What is wrong with you?" he asks. His eyes are wide, honestly wondering.

Sherlock blinks. "You find out, and you can tell me."

Sighing, John throws his legs over the side of the bed and continues to burn a hole through Sherlock. For a moment, neither man says anything.

Finally, John breaks the silence. "I suppose you know now."

"That you killed your senior officer? Yes."

John stiffens visibly. "Yes. I killed him."

"You don't need to explain yourself to me, John. I take it no one else knows about this?"

"Except me, and now you, no one." John scrubs face with his hands. "They assumed he was killed in the attack."

Sherlock purses his lips, considering. "Well, John, if there is a time to kill a man... that is a good one. There is no reason to place doubt over you."

John is silent. "He... I killed him in cold blood, Sherlock; shot the man point blank. "

For a moment, Sherlock isn't sure what to say. "Yes…" he starts slowly, "but he wasn't a very nice man, was he?"

John's lip twitches upward, recalling the first day he met Sherlock. He killed someone then, also. "No. He wasn't," John replies. His brow creases. "He was deluded and evil."

"Then you did him justice, John. No less."

"I didn't think you believed in justice."

Sherlock's eyes fall to the floor. "Of course, I do." He paused; continued. "That's why I understand if you leave after this to find safer lodgings."

John stares at him with wide eyes. His mouth is firm. He sighs. "You're right. Logically, I should punch you, pack up my stuff and leave you to your demented logic."

Sherlock meets his gaze. "Yes."

"You," John starts, "are a blind, idiotic, selfish, arrogant prat."

The words prick Sherlock's pride but he says nothing.

"And leaving you alone would probably be the safest course."

Now Sherlock gulps. "When will you go?"

Silence. It goes on for so long that eventually Sherlock is forced to look up again. To his surprise, John stares at him with a sad smile. "Who said anything about leaving?" he says.

What?

For a second, Sherlock is confused. "But-"

"Don't say anything, you prat."

Sherlock shuts his mouth with a click, and slowly, a smile grows on his face.

John rolled his eyes. "And don't grin like that. It's creepy."

At that moment, Sherlock's iPhone buzzes in his pocket. And he extracts it hastily.

"Who is it?" John asks.

"Lestrade. He has a headless nun for me."

"Only you would be excited about something like that."

Slowly, Sherlock's blue-green kaleidoscope eyes climb up John. "Do... You want to come?"

Now John smiles. "Of course, I wanna come, you idiot. Let me get dressed."

And with that Sherlock leaves John's room, grinning. To his own surprise, he's not smiling about the case. John isn't leaving and right now, that is best news Sherlock has heard in years.

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