story_monger (story_monger) wrote,
story_monger
story_monger

Fic: Unexpected Journeys

Title: Unexpected Journeys
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: John and Sherlock bromance
Word Count: ~6500
Summary: Looking back, John wasn’t really sure why he’d thought it was a good idea to get a flatshare with a dragon.

This...is basically crack trying to act serious, though I'm not sure who it's fooling. Crossover between Sherlock and The Hobbit; obviously based on the casting in the upcoming movie. 

~~~~~~

Looking back, John wasn’t really sure why he’d thought it was a good idea to get a flatshare with a dragon.

It had to be the Took in him, he often decided. It had already gotten him into a ridiculously long journey, a thoroughly unpleasant war, a damaged shoulder, a bum leg and a trembling hand. There was no reason for it to stop there. No, that stubborn, adventuresome Took part of him had decided that living with a genius, sociopathic dragon would be a brilliant idea.

John would have preferred a human or a dwarf, or even a bloody elf, to be honest. Dragons had tempers. They were clever and volatile and really the furthest thing from a hobbit you could get.

(Not that John’s neighbors and family would deign to call him a proper hobbit any more, what with him running off into a war and then deciding he was going to live in a loud, bustling city overrun with humans.)

But still. John had standards. He enjoyed his peace and quiet and his pantry well-stocked. When he met Sherlock Holmes he had an unfortunate amount of trouble imagining him enjoying any of those things. Because Sherlock was one of those people who liked to talk very quickly and cleverly, who was always doing something with his hands and his eyes, who moved through the world with a kind of manic intensity that John thought must have been unusual no matter the species.

John should have walked away the moment Sherlock went about spouting information about the war and his leg. Or failing that, when he swept his way from the laboratory with a dramatic swirl of his coat and a cocky wink. At the very least, when John found a text about green ladders on his phone. It was all the sort of showy, high-flown nonsense that any self-respecting hobbit should have turned from. It should have sent him right back to the Shire, because obviously the city was no place for someone like him when it held people like Sherlock Holmes.

Only this city was the place for him. Only John wasn’t really a self-respecting hobbit anymore. Only the Took in him found the cocky, violin-playing dragon at St. Bart’s to be abso-bloody-lutely fascinating.

John needed to have a firm talking-to with his Tookishness, he decided in the cab, on his way to 221B Baker Street. He really did. He couldn’t keep going like this. Rooming with a dragon. Honestly, what would his dad be saying?

No, never mind. He didn’t even want to imagine it.

~~~~~~~~

Upon his introduction to 221B, John decided that at least the landlady seemed a perfectly ordinary woman, as far as humans were ordinary. He liked her because she didn’t seem to be taken aback by John, which was a bit of a relief to be honest. He had to suppose that next to Sherlock, he was downright boring.

Few dragons would willingly live in a human city, with all its regulations. John wasn’t positive on the specifics, but he was sure Sherlock couldn’t use his fire, and that hoarding was strictly limited to items acquired in a legal and not-threatening-to-kill-you manner. (Humans still remembered the old days, after all. They were many things, but they weren’t stupid.)

But the biggest reason for a dragon to forego the city life and go find a nice mountain to brood over was the law stating that all dragons had to wear a concealment charm within city limits. The reasons were obvious, in a very human-sized city. But the charm, which twisted a dragon’s bulk into the size and shape of a standard human, was also said to dampen the dragons’ other characteristics, such as their sense of smell or the desire to collect shiny objects. There had been demonstrations about it, people complaining about a restriction of rights and such. John had never really paid attention. He’d hardly been expecting to have any interactions with a dragon in his lifetime, much less to live with one.

And yet here he was, sitting in a chair that, as per usual, was much too large for him, discussing airline pilots and thumbs with a creature known for leveling cities just because someone in said city had been rude to it.

Crazy. He must be crazy. Damn Tooks.

No, actually, double damn them. Triple, to be sure. Once for even considering moving into 221B. Once for following Sherlock out the door like some adventurer. Then a final time for staring, enthralled, at Sherlock as he rattled out deductions based on a tan line and a phone.

Brilliant.

And bugger.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Like Mrs. Hudson, DI Lestrade seemed a perfectly ordinary human who didn’t appear to find the hobbit following Sherlock to be too much cause for concern. John figured there was something to be said about that, at least. He got enough odd glances and awkward comments as it was.

He tried to imagine what he and Sherlock must look like, as they climbed the stairs to the murder scene. Two obviously non-humans (because even John’s senile great-uncle would recognize Sherlock for what he really was; you couldn’t hide an entire dragon in the form of a human and expect nothing to leak through). Sherlock, tall and swanning, with that ridiculous coat and sharp cheekbones. Then followed by cane-stumping John Watson in old clothes and a face lined by war and barely reaching Sherlock’s waist. Honestly, even John found the pair of them utterly bizarre.

It worried him that he got such a thrill from it.

Other things he got a thrill from that he really shouldn’t have: watching Sherlock spin out Jennifer Wilson’s story. Hearing him shout about pink. Getting the mysterious phone calls. Meeting another bleeding dragon, (was there a convention, perhaps?) in an empty parking garage.

Chasing a taxi and only barely keeping up with Sherlock.

Shooting a serial killer with his illegal gun.

(And no, not a dragon convention. Just a family reunion. That was all. Fantastic.)

No, John definitely didn’t want to know what his dad would be saying.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yet, Tookish as John was, as far as he was from the Shire, John was still a hobbit. And his hobbit sense of practicality told him that if he insisted on living with a dragon, then he’d best settle down and make the most of it. After all, he’d already gotten a decent flat, a healed limp and a fresh sense of purpose out of all this. He might even add that he’d gained a friend.

So John stopped thinking about what his father would say and instead focused on learning how to live with a draconian consulting detective.

There were the experiments, of course, and the violin concerts in the middle of the night and being woken after three hours of sleep to go running down a damp alley after some criminal or another. There were the days between cases when Sherlock lost all his manic energy, to the point where getting off the couch or indeed speaking at all seemed far too laborious. There was his refusal to sleep properly or eat so much as a first breakfast (heaven forbid a second).

“I hope you know what you’re doing to your body,” John told him sharply one night after Sherlock’s third day subsisting on cold tea. “It’s called malnourishment. It’s what we healers call Not Good.”

“And I’m sure your village healer taught you everything you know,” Sherlock replied lazily. John didn’t bother to glare at him. Waste of facial expressions.

“I came to St. Barts to train and you know it,” he breathed as he made for his chair.

“Yes, I’ve wondered about that,” Sherlock suddenly turned his head and focused his gaze on John. “Why did you come to the city?”

“The first time you mean?”

Sherlock nodded.

John frowned and tapped his finger against the arm of the chair. “I suppose I was curious,” he admitted. “I wanted to train as a healer, and travelers told me that I should come here to do it. So I did.” He felt a laugh. “Then next thing I know I’m signing up for a war and getting myself shot.”

“Why the war?”

“They told me they could use someone small, to get at the injured. Plus I was just too bloody curious again,” John shook his head. “My mum always told me it did no good for a hobbit to be too curious. Said it just got you in trouble in the end.” He shifted his gaze over the wallpaper, conscious of Sherlock still observing him.

“I see,” Sherlock’s voice was impossible to read, and when John looked at him again, his flatmate had returned to his thinking pose, his hands resting on his chin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John never volunteered the information that his flatmate was a dragon. If he did, he suspected he’d receive questions such as whether Sherlock had ever taken off his concealment charm or whether John was ever so slightly worried that he was living with a natural carnivore, whose species was not above picking off the occasional human or orc.

John would have told them not to worry about the second item, because Sherlock apparently lived off of tea and nicotine patches.

The first, he’d have had to consider before answering. He’d never seen Sherlock in full dragon form, no. It would have been highly illegal and noticeable. But sometimes during chases or when Sherlock was truly in the throes of a deduction then…then things happened. John smelled sulfur sometimes, or a whiff of charred wood. He’d have a sense of Sherlock growing larger somehow beside him, or notice the pupils in Sherlock’s pale eyes grow narrow and cat-like.

The most memorable of these occurrences took place one night during an odd case concerning a stolen necklace from a padlocked safe box. John had gone into the kitchen to make tea to avoid Sherlock, who was pacing in front of a section of wall swathed in photographs and notes and what-have-you, muttering loudly about shoe sizes and saliva samples. As John poured the hot water, he heard a loud snarl from the living room and ignored it.

It was only when he returned to the living room with two mugs of tea that he became concerned. Because there was a shimmer of heat coming from Sherlock’s mouth and a permeating scent of sulfur and two shadowy outlines of leathery wings extended from Sherlock’s back. John stopped short and studied the wings, because frankly, he was curious and he’d never seen dragon wings before unless you counted illustrations.

As he watched, Sherlock’s mutterings grew harsher and the wings grew more defined. There was definitely a strong odor of sulfur, and if John squinted he could see that Sherlock’s skin looked odd. Scaly, he realized.

At this point, John considered that Sherlock might be loosing track of his concealment charm. And that if said charm fell off completely, or even partially, then Sherlock could cause a bit of damage which would, at best, result in a hefty fee from Mrs. Hudson and at worst a banishment from the city. John briefly considered Sherlock without his dirty alleys to run down and vicious murders to solve and didn’t like the idea at all, somehow.

“Sherlock,” he said. Sherlock ignored him, naturally. “Sherlock!” John repeated.

“For god’s sake, wha-“

“You’re showing,” John gestured to the wings. Sherlock turned his head so quickly it was almost comical. He stared at the wings for a moment, his eyes wide and darting. Then the next moment they had disappeared.

“What else?” Sherlock looked down at himself.

“Skin, eyes,” John offered helpfully, “and you stink of sulfur.” He watched the offending scales melt back into soft human flesh, while Sherlock’s pupils rounded. The sulfur drifted away, back into the slightly damp scent of the flat during the rainy season.

John walked forward and held out a mug of tea. “I’m assuming no breakthrough yet?” he said as Sherlock stiffly accepted the mug. He studied the mess of notes on the wall, as if he had a prayer at deciphering them.

“No,” Sherlock said sharply. John glanced over to find him clutching the mug and giving him a frighteningly intense gaze. It was different from his I’ve-just-realized-something-brilliant gaze or the I’m-busy-deducing-things-so-shut-up gaze. This one was very focused on John, and it threw him off guard.

“What’s wrong?” John asked, lowering the mug he’d been about to sip from.

“You don’t seem perturbed,” Sherlock stated.

“About what? The fingers I just found in the margarine tub? Because yes, actually, those perturb me quite a bit.”

“You know what I’m talking about,” Sherlock set the mug down and took an unconscious step forward so that he was positively looming over John. John felt his spine straighten instinctively, as if his body was making ready to defend itself against the person easily twice his height. “You’re tensing,” Sherlock cut in. Subtle as ever.

“Yes, you bloody wanker, because you’re right over my head,” John explained. Sherlock frowned, but didn’t offer to move himself. Ah sod it; John was going to have to tilt his head back to see Sherlock’s face properly. He hated doing that and Sherlock knew he hated doing it so why was he insisting on being such a git?

“Most people wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing their flatmate can’t keep control over their own concealment charm,” Sherlock said.

“Most people wouldn’t feel comfortable with their ent-tall flatmates hanging over their heads.”

Sherlock sighed gustily and abruptly went into a crouch before John. They were now eye to eye, and although John didn’t like this talking arrangement much more, at least it didn’t ruin his neck.

“Thank you,” John crossed his arms. “So. Concealment charms.”

“The last time I lost track of my charm like that in front of someone, I was in uni. They evacuated the building and I had to undergo therapy and training to be allowed to stay.”

“Really?” John crinkled his eyes in sympathy. “That’s bloody annoying.” He frowned. “Why on earth were you in a human school?”

“John!”

“What?”

“You’re ignoring the point.”

“What’s the point?” John demanded. “You lost track of your charm just now? Fine. I’d say you’re working yourself too hard but I know you’ll ignore me. Just be glad I was here to tell you before you fell through Mrs. Hudson’s ceiling.”

Sherlock blinked at John before standing abruptly. “Fine,” he said.

John watched his flatmate grab the mug, take a long sip, and return to the mosaic of notes without further explanation. John silently shook his head, then went to his chair and flipped open his laptop, listening as the mutterings materialized again.

Ten minutes later Sherlock shouted something about the great-niece’s pedicure. Fifteen minutes and they were stumbling from a taxi, John tossing money at the cabbie before shooting after Sherlock and his stupidly long legs.

Thirty minutes and Lestrade had arrested the great-niece after she’d confessed to stealing the necklace. All in all, it was a good case, in John’s opinion. Lots of family feuding and wealthy old women; he may write it up on his blog.

For the moment however, Sherlock and John, full of a post-case high, went to one of their regular restaurants to celebrate.

“But seriously,” John said when they had put down their orders (John counted it as a victory that he’d managed to get Sherlock to order a bowl of miso soup and fried rice) “why were you attending a human university?”

“Why were you?” Sherlock shot back, raising his eyebrows. He seemed to have lost his odd attitude in light if his recent success.

“You already know why,” John stated.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “My family has a tradition of sending its offspring into the human world at a young age. Meant to help us learn how to interact with them.”

“So you’re not expected to live in a lonely mountain cave?” John grinned unabashedly at the disgusted look on Sherlock’s face.

“The idiots with nothing better to do can have their mountain caves,” he stated. “Any dragon families with an ounce of self-preservation have long made their alliances with humans.”

“Ah,” John nodded. “So Mycroft works for the government-“

“Because our family has connections, yes. And at times I think he prefers to act as a human. He always was better at working with them.”

“Really now,” John leaned forward and cocked his head seriously. “I would never have guessed such a thing.”

“Shut up,” Sherlock told him, but the tone was light rather than defensive.

“Does Mycroft have trouble with his concealment charm?” John asked. Sherlock’s face grew distant.

“Everyone does at some point,” he said. “When you’re distracted emotionally or intellectually-“

“Or high as a kite.”

Sherlock frowned abruptly. “Or that. You lose the small part of your mind that’s focused on keeping the charm in place.”

“But Mycroft’s never had a building evacuated over him,” John guessed. Sherlock looked at him with an expression that looked, of all things, slightly taken aback. John found himself studying it for future reference.

“John, are all hobbits this….”

“Blunt?” John felt his mouth quirk in a grin.

“I was going to say straightforward. Perceptive, on occasion.”

“I’m not that perceptive.”

“Compared to most people I’ve met.”

“I meant compared to you.”

“Oh, well,” Sherlock waved his hand. “That goes without saying.”

John laughed down at the table. “Yes,” he said, “we’re wonderfully, unflinchingly straightforward about things.” He looked back up at Sherlock. “It’s one of our many charms.”

“Mm,” Sherlock replied.

John waited a moment, then asked “so don’t you ever want to let the charm fall away completely? Go for a fly once in awhile?”

Sherlock snorted. “Flying is not nearly everything it’s made out to be,” he said. “And the concealment charm is no real burden, not for me at least. If I wanted, I could go into the countryside and give myself a reprieve, but so few good crimes occur out there.”

“Well if you do go out to the country for a reprieve,” John said, “I’d like to come along.”

“Why?” Sherlock looked genuinely confused.

“You have a remarkable gift of density sometimes,” John stated. “To see you without your concealing charm, idiot.”

“Oh,” Sherlock seemed to have ignored the insult and instead just looked slightly consternated. “That’s an unusual request. Especially from a hobbit.”

“Sure,” John said as their food arrived. “But I don’t think thing ‘usual’ is the best way to describe either of us.”

“No, I suppose not,” Sherlock allowed, peering into his soup.

“’Very much fucked up’ may be better,” John mused aloud, tearing open a packet of chopsticks.

He didn’t even recognize Sherlock’s laugh at first, not until he looked up and found his flatmate’s head tilted back against the seat and his mouth pulled into a dizzyingly wide grin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After that night, John realized Sherlock had somehow placed himself as one of the more important people in his life. He had no idea how to approach that, so he let it lie.

Instead he looked closer at the ways in which Sherlock silently accommodated him in his life and vise versa. Sherlock explained deductions when asked, matched his pace to John’s when they weren’t on a high-speed chase and even, after much arguing on the matter, agreed to regulate his experiments to the bottom two shelves of the refrigerator. John, in turn, made tea and tended to the inevitable cuts and scrapes and yelled at Sherlock when he tried to starve himself one nicotine patch at a time.

It was nice, living with Sherlock: never having enough sleep and getting to run after suspects in the wee hours of the morning. Nowadays, when John thought about telling his dad that he was living with a dragon and solving crimes with him, he always laughed.

But things always had a way of changing. At Bart’s he’d been told that the army could use someone with his size and skills. And then in the war, a bullet had sent him back home. This time change came in the form of a pink phone and a psychopath with a perchance for explosives.

It was always something.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John didn’t feel quite real when he was told to walk out from the changing room and onto the pool deck. He brought his gaze up and saw Sherlock, overwhelmingly relieved that Sherlock looked unharmed. Never mind he was the one covered in Semtex.

Then came the parroting of the words whispered in his ear, the way Sherlock looked at him with first utter loss then with something like panic as John opened his jacket.

He made his grand entrance at that point. Moriarty was another natural performer, John had discovered upon being kidnapped. (Frankly, he was ready to tell all the geniuses in his life that they could stuff it with the twirls and kidnappings and grand statements.) He was also not quite human, though not dragon either. John suspected an elfin heritage, or possibly a wizard gone wrong. But he was just guessing.

Sherlock probably knew.

John kept his gaze flickering up to his flatmate as Sherlock and Moriarty did their courting dance around one another. John was merely a prop here. A halfling useful for his ability to befriend a consulting detective and then to be kidnapped off the street. It still burned at John’s pride that he’d been taken so easily. He’d always thought himself a fair challenge, considering his size. But the two men and their white van had argued otherwise, and had won handily. Now John was covered in explosives and he’d dragged Sherlock into a trap designed by a….damn, John still didn’t know what Moriarty’s was. He hated not knowing it. He hated Moriarty. Obviously.

Which was why when John saw the opportunity to latch himself onto the psychopath’s back, he did so. Almost eagerly. It was a little ridiculous though: John with his arms wrapped around Moriarty’s neck and his legs gripping the man’s hips. He felt like a child play-attacking his favorite uncle because he knew he could get away with it.

When he looked up to find Sherlock still standing there (stupid, he was supposed to run) he dimly noted the panicked look on Sherlock’s face, a face rough with emerging scales and shivering with heat. The wings hadn’t made an appearance yet, but John suspected they would soon.

“Soon” turned out to be a minute or so later, when the door clanged shut and Sherlock dropped the gun to undo John’s Semtex coat.

John found himself watching the wings blankly as Sherlock returned from his brief check of the changing rooms. They twitched and expanded fretfully while Sherlock rubbed his head with a loaded gun and muttered what John thought might have been gratitude. Maybe even a “glad you’re not dead” hidden in the subtext. Charming.

“Glad no one saw that,” John said, still dizzy with relief. “You ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk.” He had no idea whether Sherlock laughed because he thought it was a good comment or because he was high on adrenaline, and anything sounded hilarious.

John couldn’t ask, because suddenly the bloody Semtex coat because important again. Very, very important. Sherlock’s wings had grown larger, John noted in the second after he nodded to Sherlock and before the gun fired. They had color; a deep blue that was almost black.

Then the world became a rush of sound and color, before the blackness escaped from Sherlock’s wings to blot it all out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking back, John decided he’d only blacked out for a moment. Long enough so that when he drifted back into awareness, it was very quiet and very dark. He had a sense of something large surrounding him, blocking out the light.

The wing again, he realized after a moment of confusion.

Any progression along that line of thought became derailed as his lungs brought up the fact that he was immersed in water and not actually breathing. John thrashed upward in a surge of panic, the wing drifting away at his insistent shove. Light poured down on John and he swam towards it until he was breaking through surface and gasping in dusty air that stank of heat and sulfur.

He gasped a few times, shook water from his eyes, then looked around to see a large shape drifting below the water surface. He cursed and dove back down. He had to maneuver past the wings, which were solid and heavy now, in order to find Sherlock.

He still had a basically human form to him. His face looked narrow and elongated, and his skin was rough with scales. But beyond that he didn’t look like a dragon really, which was good on some level.

What wasn’t good was the cloud of red surrounding him. So John grabbed at one arm and hauled, because hobbit or dragon or bloody orc, he and Sherlock were supposed to be friends and friends didn’t let each other drown. It was a straightforward idea, and John held onto it as his muscles complained to him about trying to drag a human-sized creature with wings through water.

Frankly, his muscles could go to hell.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sherlock came around with a loud, gasp as soon they broke the surface of the water, which was an immensely good thing. The wound on his forehead didn’t look as bad as the bloody water had suggested, which was also good. Two good things. John held onto them.

“John?” Sherlock treaded water and looked confused for all of a second before he took in the night sky leaking through the partially collapsed roof and the rubble surrounding them. Then his gaze flicked back to John and he swore Sherlock’s face became less human and more draconian in that instant.

“Here,” Sherlock clipped, before he reached out and pulled John into his chest with a quick, efficient movement. John was about to protest, when the wings began beating frantically around them and he doubted he’d be heard anyway.

Things happened quickly from there.

First John became aware of a shift in Sherlock. He tried to crane his neck and see what had happened, but Sherlock’s arms held him firmly in place and his head was thick and dizzy after hauling his flatmate from a watery grave. The splashing sounds of wings thrashed against water changed into great wooshes of moving air, and before John could so much as yelp in surprise he realized they were airborne.

Heights and hobbits didn’t go well together. John buried his face into Sherlock’s damp shirt instinctively, knowing he’d do much better if he couldn’t see the massive fall waiting to claim him.

He felt the rumble of the pool building continuing to collapse and the way Sherlock strained himself against gravity and his own weakness to carry them away from the danger.

The next moment, John got a sudden scent of clean air (relatively speaking, of course) and felt something in him relax. It didn’t mean John was about to pull his face from Sherlock’s chest, but it was a third good thing to add to his collection.

Sherlock’s wing beats suddenly stalled. The next moment there came a jerk and a clatter of feet on pavement before John felt them shudder to a halt. He sensed Sherlock breathing heavily against him, but his arms around John remained firm.

John felt himself being placed carefully on pavement before something heavy and either drunk or injured staggered away. John pushed himself into a sit, ignoring his sudden discovery of several cracked ribs. He looked up to see the smoke and jagged edges of the pool building. They had traveled all of half a block, but John decided he’d be content with their location. Because at the moment Sherlock was half collapsed at the end of the alley in which they were located, and his breathing was too loud and too heavy. Perhaps his injuries were worse than John had guessed.

The thought forced John to a stand and a stagger towards his flatmate, who was definitely bigger and more dragon-ish than John had ever seen him. His face was completely elongated, with his hair gone and his skin a deep blue. There was a tail now, long and spiked, and the human hands had become claws.

Yes, Sherlock definitely looked like a full dragon, albeit a very small one. But he was growing now, and John’s thoughts flashed to stories of dragons that dropped their concealing charms and grew large enough to destroy entire blocks.

“Sherlock,” he limped forward, “Sherlock, get the charm back on.”

The dragon (which was Sherlock, of course it was, it had the same eyes) shifted its head to look at the hobbit. John took a few more unsteady steps until he was a mere shuffle from the dragon’s eye, which was the size of John’s palm.

“I can’t concentrate,” the dragon said in Sherlock’s voice, perhaps a shade deeper. It was tinged with panic. “It keeps slipping away.” It looked at John. “You’re bleeding,” Sherlock said.

“So are you,” John pointed out, and realized that his voice was a small one indeed. “I never studied dragon anatomy, so get the charm back on and quit being difficult.”

It was easy yelling at Sherlock. It was familiar. Almost automatic.

Sherlock made a low sound that might have been a whimper. He was definitely larger now, his blue-black form looking increasingly crowded in the little alley. John swore under his breath and reached out to lay a hand on Sherlock’s nose.

“Charms don’t just disappear,” he stated in what he hoped was a confident tone.

“There have been reported cases-“

“Sherlock, shut the hell up and find the concealment charm.” Sherlock huffed a breath, then grew very still. John kept his hand where it was, mostly because he needed the support if he didn’t want to keel over. He stood and listened to Sherlock breath. It was a comforting sound.

“John,” Sherlock said quietly. “You’re shivering.”

John turned his brain back on. Oh. Well, so he was. He was also in very intense pain. He turned his brain off again.

“Yep,” he managed. Then, “you’re still scaly.”

“I’m trying to focus,” Sherlock explained. “And you’re not helping John, stop shivering.”

“Can’t.”

Sherlock swept his wing up behind John and pulled him into his side. John was too dazed to register annoyance. His body found the sudden heat source, had him curl into it and there was nothing he could do. Sherlock’s wing hovered around him, blocking out the streetlight.

“Flatmates don’t usually have this much touching,” John mumbled into Sherlock’s scales after a moment.

“We already had a conversation on our usualness,” Sherlock reminded him. His voice made his whole body vibrate.

John felt the nervous giggle leave him like a hiccup, and he realized that he was probably in shock. Sherlock too, which explained his inability to reestablish the charm.

“We need to call the police,” John muttered. “We need the A&E.”

“We need to get the concealment charm back,” Sherlock corrected him. His voice sounded weary. “Talking helps. Keep going.”

“You were right, flying’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” John could feel the numbness seeping from his body, only realizing at that moment that the numbness had been present at all. “You didn’t do your injuries any good, I’m sure.”

“I didn’t have a choice.”

“You didn’t have to lug me along.”

“You weigh nothing and I need you to help me pay the rent.” John grinned stupidly into Sherlock’s body.

“Good to know I’m useful for some things.”

A moment of silence.

“I think it’s taking effect,” Sherlock said. Now there was no imagining it; he sounded ready to pass out. Reestablishing a charm like this one, without assistance, couldn’t be easy from what John knew about the procedure.

John paused as a shudder ran through his body. “Did you kill him, you think?”

“I doubt it,” Sherlock said dully. “He definitely had something non-human about him.”

“What?”

“I couldn’t tell,” Sherlock admitted. John took a moment, then burst out laughing a little deliriously.

“Ow,” he cut himself off when his rib sparked with pain, but the grin remained on his face.

“What?” Sherlock tilted his head down, and when John looked at him he noticed that his head did look much less elongated.

“I figured you knew instantly,” he explained.

“I’m extremely intelligent, not a psychic, John.”

“Heaven help us. A psychic Sherlock,” John wanted to laugh again, but he thought his rib might object. Instead he forced himself into a sit and swallowed the dizziness that swept through him.

“Are you alright?” Sherlock asked for the second time that night. His face looked almost human by now. The tail was gone and the claws just looked like deformed hands.

“Being shot was worse,” John gritted out against the pain from his ribs. “Here, let me look at you.”

“Me?” Sherlock asked incredulously (or as incredulous as a dragon ready to pass out can manage) as John used him as a support into a stand. “You’re the one on the verge of collapsing.”

“You’re already collapsed and you’ve got a head injury,” John explained around the cotton in his brain. “You have to be careful with those.”

“You’re impossible,” Sherlock muttered thickly.

“Same,” John said. Any further comment was postponed as the sounds of alarms ripped through the night.

“Lestrade,” Sherlock murmured as John twisted around to peer at the mouth of the alley. “If we wait long enough, perhaps they’ll manage to find us.”

“I could run out and-“

“You’d pass out,” Sherlock stated. His voice sounded different. John turned back around and realized that Sherlock’s charm was completely restored. His clothes were torn and stained, his pale skin flecked with blood and grime. He was still sprawled on the ground, looking up at John with a distant expression.

“You look tall from here,” Sherlock said blearily. John frowned and wondered whether his flatmate had sustained a concussion after all. “That’s the thing about you John,” Sherlock continued, his voice heavy. “You hold unexpected depths. It’s absolutely infuriating.”

“Sherlock,” John felt a surge of adrenaline as Sherlock’s eyes drooped. “Sherlock, passing out is bad. Very ba-Sherlock!”

“’m here,” Sherlock gave a stupid little smile. Stupid. Everything about him was stupid. He hadn’t run when John told him to, had gone and flown them both from the pool, had drained himself trying to reestablish the charm. John dropped to one knee beside the stupidest flatmate he could have managed and placed a hand on his shoulder. It looked very small there.

“Sherlock, if you pass out I’m hiding the skull. Sherlock!”

But it was no good; Sherlock had drifted away. John sat beside his flatmate, dimly aware of the way his entire body hurt and that following Sherlock into unconsciousness sounded extremely inviting.

I need to get Lestrade, he argued with his body.

No, you need to rest, his body argued back. It was probably angry at having been ignored for so long. It would explain why John suddenly felt himself fall forward towards Sherlock’s body before everything went blank.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The week after the Moriarty and the explosion was one big headache, what with all the questioning and painkillers and having Sherlock sneak into his room to tell him he was bored and he’d already deduced the lives of all the hospital staff so what was he supposed to do now?

Thus, when Sherlock and John were finally released, John was eager to return to familiar settings, even if he suspected Mycroft had doubled surveillance on them. It made sense of course; Moriarty was still very much at large. But at the moment John was just eager to forget the past week and return to the quasi-normal life he’d been having in 221B.

He should have known though. You didn’t just go back to normal after something like Moriarty happened to you.

The nightmares had gotten worse. Bombs and bullets mixed with sand and chlorinated water, and when John jerked awake he always did it with a vast, sinking knowledge that this thing wasn’t over by half.

Sherlock certainly realized it. The consulting detective’s every waking hour (which was all of them) seemed to be spent on research and drawing up notes and talking in low, quick mutters. John noted that Sherlock’s concealment charm never showed signs of slipping, however. He had to wonder what that meant.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John woke suddenly. He blinked into the dimness of his ceiling before sensing the presence to his right.

“You were yelling,” Sherlock said, his face blurred by the lack of light. He sat on the edge of John’s bed, leaning forward with his elbow on his knees. John rolled to his side and watched Sherlock’s back.

“You alright?” he asked. Sherlock didn’t answer immediately.

“I thought I was on a lead,” he finally muttered. “It was nothing.” Another breathe of silence. “I don’t suppose you were expecting consulting criminals when you agreed to live with me.”

“Wasn’t expecting consulting detectives, to be honest,” John admitted. “I was firmly preoccupied with the dragon thing.”

“Wariness?”

“More like me trying to figure out why I thought it was such a good idea to live with one.”

Sherlock twisted his body around so he was sitting cross-legged on John’s covers. “Do you want to move out?” he asked leaning forward slightly. “I would understand, of course.”

John sighed heavily. “Most people would have the sense to move out, wouldn’t they?” he asked. He shook his head. “I’m a bloody awful hobbit, you know. I go around having adventures and getting shot. It’s the Took in me, I’ve always suspected.”

“Took?”

“My mother’s family on her dad’s side,” John explained. “It’s always getting me into things like this.”

“Ah,” Sherlock said. “Do you regret it?”

“God, no.”

They sat in companionable silence for a minute.

“That was me saying I’m staying,” John clarified.

“Oh.” Sherlock cleared his throat. “Good. That’s good.”

John shifted under the covers, trying to relieve the stiffness crawling into his bad shoulder. Sherlock for his part let loose a loud sigh and stretched out beside John on top of the covers.

“I’ve gotten worryingly used to you,” he spoke in a low voice. John stopped rotating his shoulder and listened to Sherlock sigh a second time. “So much so that I think if you left I….” he trailed off.

John thought, then, of a younger Sherlock. A dragon trying to act like a human and never fooling anyone. It sounded incredibly lonely.

“I’m too fucked up to leave,” John said. Sherlock turned on his side so that he and John were facing one another.

“You’re a remarkable being, John Watson of the Shire,” Sherlock stated.

“Really? I remember you were going delirious last time you said something in that vein,” John replied.

“I’m serious,” Sherlock insisted. “I’ve been reading up on hobbits. One author said you can learn all there is to know about hobbits’ ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you.” John watched one of Sherlock’s genuine grins flick across his face. “I find I have to agree.”

John found he couldn’t find proper words for a long moment. “I once read that dragons are temperamental, brilliant wankers too clever for their own good,” he finally said. “I agreed with that too.”

Sherlock grinned again.

They lay side by side for a long time, so long that John soon found himself waking up to morning sunlight permeating his shades. Sherlock was still there, and asleep no less. John dimly realized that during the night he had curled into Sherlock’s side, and that Sherlock in turn had placed one arm over John.

John found himself remarkable unbothered by it. He merely pressed himself closer to the person who had somehow whirled into his life and gone about taking it over.

Sherlock shifted beside him, and when he spoke it was heavy with sleep.

“I appear to have slept in your bed,” he murmured after a long yawn.

“Good deduction,” John said.

Sherlock snorted, but his arm seemed to tighten around John. “I suspect this isn’t usual flatmate behavior,” he ventured.

“No.”

“Oh. How boring."

They were silent for another several minutes before Sherlock positively sprang to a sitting position.

“What the hell?” John yelped.

“The sharpshooter!” Sherlock ignored John and stared at the bedroom wall, his eyes wide. “The sharpshooter involved in the Burroughs murder, what was his name? Started with an M.” He launched himself from the bed and clattered down the steps while John blearily watched.

“John!” Sherlock bellowed up after a minute. “Get your coat, we’re visiting a friend!”

“What kind of friend?” John yelled back.

“A slightly illegal one.”

John grinned despite himself.

Damn Tooks.
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