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The Ship of Dreams (1/2)

Title: The Ship of Dreams (1/2)
Beta'd by the glorious lygtemanden  
Rating: NC-17
Pairing/Characters: Sherlock/John, Mycroft, Anthea, and Lestrade
Summary: AU Titanic Fusion. Sherlock still wants to keep bees, John is still a doctor, and they both happen to be on the Titanic. 
Notes: This deviates from the film--- so rest assured the only character death that occurs is because of old age, not icy waters. 
Disclaimer: I don't own this.

June 1994. Rural Massachusetts.

Bees hummed in the warm summer air, sighing through the open windows and curling around Sherlock’s shoulders as he moved around his kitchen. He might have aged and he might have moved slower than he used to, but that didn’t stop him from having a myriad of experiments littering his kitchen. He turned on the television for background noise before he turned his attention to his latest observation of the local lichen that grew along the hills.

The front screen door creaked as it did every morning when Sarah, Sherlock’s nurse, came in. She was a rather pretty young woman who was competent enough not to bore Sherlock, but not a pushover. She was wearing her hair up, as usual, but she had a new, fine silver bracelet on.

Ah, she got back with her boyfriend then.

“Good morning, Sherlock.” She smiled, navigating easily through the ‘brilliantly insane mess’ as John had affectionately called it. He always had been one for romanticizing things. Sarah put down her bag, moving to put the kettle on. “Did you take your pills yet?”

Rolling his eyes, Sherlock grimaced.

“Yes, Sarah. I’m old not senile.”

Sarah laughed, her eyes bright.

“I know, Sherlock.”

Sherlock scoffed as he put his glasses on. He never used to think that one day he’d suffer from arthritis and bad eyesight, but he was (unfortunately) human. He picked up John’s old scalpel and carefully cut into the plant’s fungal tissues. His hands would ache when rain was coming and he couldn’t run around like he used to. Frankly, Sherlock couldn’t run around at all. He’d actually taken to using John’s old cane, Sherlock’s wrinkled hands wearing the top piece of it down.

Despite his increased age, however, Sherlock’s mind was still sharp. Some of the townsfolk (Americans) were surprised. John hadn’t been. He’d just shook his head and had squeezed Sherlock’s hand, whispering, “You’re bloody brilliant, Sherlock. Always were, and always will be.” Sherlock paused, putting down his scalpel because his fingers had started their troublesome trembling again.

Pulling away from his work. Sherlock turned to see Sarah turning up the volume on the television. Sherlock adjusted his glasses, hobbling over so that he was standing next to his nurse. On the television, a silver-haired man stood on a ship, his hair blowing in the wind wildly as the cameraman tried to talk above the noise of it all. Sherlock nudged his nurse.

“What’s all this?”

Sarah never took her eyes off of the screen.

“Some man’s decided to gather relics from the Titanic.”

The name sent a chill through Sherlock’s blood. He hadn’t heard it spoken aloud in decades… and now there was a man fancying himself to be an underwater archeologist. Sherlock supposed that for stranger things have happened to him. The reporter cleared his throat.

“Mr. Lestrade, some people are calling you a grave robber!”

The wind whipped Lestrade’s hair, and he smiled tiredly, his face creased in a way that spelled exhaustion.

“We’ve got countless experts and professionals down here. Each artifact we uncover is treated and handled with utmost care before being sent off to the museums.” The camera cut away to the processing and preserving room on the ship, but Lestrade’s voice still carried over the video. “These artifacts are a part of history, and they aren’t meant to lie at the bottom of the ocean.”

Dirt and mud were washed off--- and a familiar, beautiful charcoal picture enveloped the television screen. To Sarah, to anyone else watching, it was a charcoal picture of a young, naked, handsome man with a violin tucked under his chin, his eyes focused on whoever the artist had been. To Sherlock… he saw himself--- he saw himself when he’d been a young man. Sarah blinked, her cheeks a bit pink.


The camera cut back to the weary but passionate Lestrade.

“This drawing doesn’t deserve to remain unknown, and without us it would stay at the bottom of ocean.”

Sherlock sucked in quick breath, his mind already running a mile a minute.

“Sarah, pack your bags, we’re going on a trip.”

Sarah tore her gaze away from the television.

“What? Sherlock---”

“Do it, and be quick about it.”

Sherlock began his long journey to his study. He activated his office phone, putting it on speaker as he packed. He knew it would take a while for the operators and other officials to finally connect Sherlock to Lestrade. He packed away his violin, his books of handwritten sheet music, and John’s old journals. He was going through his closet of clothes when Lestrade was finally put through.

“Is this Sherlock?”

“Hello, Mr. Lestrade.” Sherlock gripped John’s cane tightly. “Tell me, have you found the rest of the sheet music that you found with that drawing?”

The pause on the other line made Sherlock’s lips curl. Humans were always so easy to render speechless. Sherlock tossed another shirt into the massive trunk as Lestrade took a deep breath.

“Sherlock… do you know who the man in that picture is?”

With a dry huff, Sherlock closed his suitcase.

“I do, Mr. Lestrade. The man in the picture is me.”

On the way to the ship, Sarah and Sherlock got a brief rundown of just whom they were going to meet. Gregory Lestrade was renowned in his field of archeology and artifact finding and preserving. He’d been all over the world, and now it seemed that his obsession led him under the sea. Sherlock respected obsessions, after all Sherlock had several himself.

When they landed there were men waiting to unload their bags. Sarah was modest, packing lightly, but Sherlock took five suitcases. He saw one of the men rolling their eyes as Sherlock was helped out of the helicopter so he could shake Lestrade’s hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Holmes.” Lestrade had dry palms, calloused, and a good handshake. Sherlock put on his best people-pleasing smile, the one that had never been able to fool John, not for one moment. It fooled Lestrade just as Sherlock knew it would. “Is there anything you’d like to do first?”

Sherlock nodded, withdrawing his hand. Sarah wanted him to use a wheelchair, but Sherlock refused.

“Yes, I’d like to see my drawing.”

Sherlock and Sarah were led to the main room full of artifacts being cleaned in water. Lestrade was known for keeping his team consistent, and Sherlock knew that Anderson and Sally Donovan (who were having an affair) where loyal to their leader. Still, just because they were loyal did not make them any less abhorrent. As Sherlock gazed into the water at the sincere brushes of charcoal on paper, he heard Sally hiss under her breath.

“Sir, Sherlock Holmes died on the Titanic when he was nineteen years old. If this nutter is who he says he is, he’d have to be one-hundred-and-one years old.”

“One hundred and one next week, Miss Donovan.” Sherlock glanced up in time to see the woman’s back straighten, her expression sour. “I’m old, but thankfully my mind and ears are still with me.”

“Forgive us for being skeptical,” the boorish Anderson crossed his arms, “but all the survivors on the Titanic have been accounted for and you aren’t on that list.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes.

“On the bottom of the page is a phrase of music. You’ve probably already played it out on the piano or some other computer program, and even simpletons like you would have been able to tell that it was unfinished.”

Lestrade stepped forward, leaving his two colleagues behind. He stood beside Sherlock, their shoulders brushing as they turned their attention back to the drawing. Sherlock leaned on John’s cane, and his eyes returned to John’s modest initials at the corner of the portrait. Lestrade cleared his throat softly.

“Sherlock Holmes was a part of the Holmes Empire. He was a music protégée in England before he went on the Titanic to get married in America.” Sherlock moistened his dry, cracked lips, and Lestrade’s dark eyes were piercing, reminding Sherlock of the several American detectives he’d worked with over the years. “His music was said to be lost as well as his life.”

Sherlock thought of his luggage that was stuffed with his own music.

“Do you want the music?”

Lestrade nodded, running his fingers through his hair.

“Yes. But first I want to hear your story.”

Ah, a man of true intrigue. He didn’t just want the treasure; he wanted the history of it as well. Sherlock nodded and slowly sat down with Sarah’s help.

“Very well.” The ship creaked and echoed around them. Sarah was quiet by his side, and Lestrade’s attention was his. “Most people my age forget what they had for breakfast… but I remember the Titanic clearly. The wet paint, new china… even the sheets that had never been slept in. The papers called it the ship of dreams.” Sherlock heard Sarah let out a long, incredulous breath, and he smiled at the young woman briefly. “And… well, I suppose it was.”

April 10th, 1912. The Titanic.

Sherlock had been nineteen years old when he boarded the Titanic. He remembered getting out of the car and instead of staring at the ship in awe and amazement… he gazed at it with dreadful loathing. Mycroft was quick to get out of the car after Sherlock, clutching his umbrella as his eyes widened at the massive mode of transportation before them.

“It’s rather impressive, isn’t it, Sherlock?”

Mycroft’s tone was almost pleading, though the older man would never admit it. Sherlock drew in a breath only to have another flashy car honk its horn from behind them. Both Sherlock and Mycroft turned to see Sebastian “Seb” Wilkes jumping out, waving obscenely.

“Hello, Sherlock, Mycroft!”

Sherlock could feel his lips curling in disgust.


Mycroft elbowed Sherlock roughly in the ribs.


Sherlock had time to roll his eyes before Seb was in front of them, grinning like a madman. He shook Sherlock’s shoulder in a way that must have been meant to seem friendly and jovial, but to Sherlock it was beastly.

“Only five more days of freedom, Sherlock.” Seb’s smile was unnerving, and Sherlock had to put all of his mental and physical efforts into smiling back. “Then it’s off to be married!”

Sebastian went off to board the ship, and Sherlock reached into the car to get his violin case, not trusting it to anybody but himself. Mycroft paid the orderlies and soon the car along with their luggage was being hoisted onto the massive ship. Mycroft sighed, his free hand on the small of Sherlock’s back as he guided Sherlock onto the Titanic.

If Sherlock had known that, merely a few yards away, John Watson had just won the luckiest hand of cards in his life, then perhaps Sherlock could have been a bit more optimistic. Maybe if Sherlock had known just how important John Watson was Sherlock might have smiled as the other passengers did.

However, Sherlock was only aware that he was a five-day journey away from marriage to Irene Adler, a woman he’d never met. She was an heiress to an oil tycoon’s fortune who lived in New Jersey. The whole state seemed to be invited to the dreadful affair. Sherlock set his violin down in his lavish room and had time to heave a miserable sigh before it was time to go to dinner.

Mycroft sat next to Sherlock, and Sebastian sat across from them in the intimate dining room. Seb never seemed to stop smiling and laughing, which was a telltale sign of insecurity. He knew the proper forks and knives to use, but when he reached for his glass his wrists were exposed. The skin was rubbed raw. Sherlock didn’t have to look at Mycroft to know that his brother was keeping his facial expression carefully blank. Sherlock sipped his champagne in order to hide his smirk. Sebastian seemed to have a rather scandalous life in his bedroom.

“So, Sherlock, you must have loads of questions about my cousin Irene.”

In all honesty, Sherlock couldn’t care less about his fiancé. She obviously needed a husband in order to inherit her fortune, and if she was settling for Sherlock then she probably had a massive personality flaw that kept other men from leaping at such an opportunity. Maybe she was too domineering, maybe her intelligence was intimidating… either way it wasn’t of Sherlock’s concern. But, judging by Mycroft’s pointed look, Sherlock needed to ask a question. Sherlock cleared his throat, putting down his glass.

“How does Irene feel about music?”

Sherlock was surprised once the question left his mouth at just how important the answer would be. Sherlock knew that he was hardly conventional, that his demeanor and love of science and deductions were off-putting, but he did adore music. He could spend days playing and writing music if Mycroft wasn’t there to force him to eat and socialize of all the trivial things.

Irene’s cousin cleared his throat, rubbing his wrists absentmindedly.

“Music? Well, I suppose she doesn’t mind it, per say.” Seb shrugged the matter off like it was yesterday’s paper. “It’s not really her area. Too boring.” Boring. Boring! Sherlock tensed but Mycroft pinched his leg under the table. Seb went on grinning, quickly forgetting Sherlock’s question. “But, Irene’s got five houses in North America and two more in Europe. Once you’re married you’ll be an American royal.”

The air was thick and hot, and Sherlock pulled at his tie. Sebastian continued to droll on about Irene’s inheritance, parties, and receptions. Sherlock suddenly saw his future very clearly. He’d be locked away as Irene’s husband… he’d be subjected to countless house parties. He’d have to be charming… and it would all be so terribly boring. Sherlock cleared his throat.

“Would… I’d like to be able to keep bees, Seb.”

Seb blinked, his stupid smile finally faltering, his lips twitching as he spared a glance at Mycroft.

“Is--- is that some kind of stock or sport?”

Bone-chilling nausea washed over Sherlock. He got up and excused himself, saying that he needed some air. He stepped out of the dining room and then made his way to the deck, each step making his throat tighten until he could barely breathe. He kept walking until his eyes were burning and his breaths were quick. He went to the end of the upper-class deck to the stairway that went down to the lower-class section. He opened the gate and went down, passing benches and empty floors until he was at the very end of the Titanic.

The railing was cold, grounding Sherlock to his hateful reality as he slid his fingers along the freezing metal. The chilly air made his cheeks prickle as blood rushed to warm his body. He watched the ocean turn along with the ships propellers.

Sherlock’s thoughts drifted back to what was waiting for him in America… to a life without adventure, music, or beekeeping. Sherlock took a step on the railing, grabbing onto a vertical pole to steady himself as he climbed out onto the other side of the railing.

One jump was all it would take.

The fall may kill him, and if not a few deep breaths of water would certainly be enough to end his life… to end his future. Sherlock wasn’t entirely sold on the theories of Heaven and Hell, but even oblivion would be better than a world without music.

Sherlock drew in a deep breath when a throat cleared behind him.

“You don’t want to do that.”

A modest, English accented voice quivered behind him in the wind. Sherlock turned around just enough to see the most unassuming man that Sherlock had ever laid eyes on. The man was of average height (compared to Sherlock: short) and while he was young he already had deep lines on his face. He was wearing shabby clothes, but he didn’t slouch. In fact, by the look of it he had better posture than Sherlock.

It was interesting, but not enough. Sherlock turned back to the water, scowling into the dark.

“You have no idea what I want and do not want.”

Sherlock tightened his grip on the poles, and he heard the man venture cautiously closer.

“Well, I’d guess that you’re looking to kill yourself.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes, turning back toward the man.

“Brilliant deduction. Be a good chap and leave so I can carry on with it.” And that was when the smaller man did the most curious thing. He began to unbutton his coat, stripping it off before bending down to untie his shoes. Sherlock could tell that the man was keeping his weight off of his right foot… maybe he had some sort of injury. Sherlock cleared his throat. “What are you doing?”

The man flashed him a humorless smile.

“Lightening the load so I don’t sink to the bloody bottom of the sea when I jump in after you.”

Maybe it had been the cold, maybe it had been the burden of Sherlock’s suicidal impulses, Sherlock would never know, but his mind went white. His throat burned and he couldn’t understand this man, this stranger and his logic at all.

“You’ll die. The fall will kill us both.”

The man stepped out of his shoes and slowly walked to the edge, still a few feet away from Sherlock. He peered over the edge and shook his head.

“No. It would hurt, but we’d live.” The man frowned. “It would be quite nice if it were easy as that, but it’s not.”

Sherlock blinked slowly, his fingers numb.

“I don’t know you, you don’t know me. You’re right leg is either significantly weaker than your left or you’ve recently been injured and that lowers your chances of survival significantly.” The man just put his hands on the railing, and Sherlock decided to change his tactic. “Why are you doing this?”

The man wasn’t insane, and if he was suicidal as well than he as impressively calm about taking his own life. The man rocked on his heels, bouncing anxiously as he started at the water before meeting Sherlock’s eyes.

“I took an oath.”

The possibilities ran through Sherlock’s mind. Crime related oaths were quickly tossed aside, priesthood--- no he hadn’t asked Sherlock to put his faith in God, monk--- same diagnosis as priesthood. Sherlock’s eyes narrowed.

“You’re a doctor.”

The man’s lips twitched, his frown dissolving into an astonished smile.

“Yes--- how did you know?”

Sherlock ignored the question and the man stepped closer until they were touching each other. Sherlock nodded toward the water.

“If we’d live, then what’s so bad about going for a bit of a swim?”

The man’s smile vanished.

“I said we’d survive the fall, not the water.” He pointed to the dark, ominous ocean. “That water is cold, probably just above freezing. We’ll survive the fall, but dying of hypothermia won’t be quick. And it will be painful… probably the most painful experience of both of our lives.”

Sherlock’s heart thundered in his chest, and he maneuvered himself so that he was no longer facing the ocean, his cheeks numb.

“All right.”

The man sighed loudly.

“Oh, thank God.” He offered his hand, and Sherlock took it. He felt the doctor’s palm, so warm and gentle despite the roughness of his skin, envelop his own. The man’s smile trembled, no doubt fueled by adrenalin and relief. “I’m John Watson.”

Sherlock smiled in return, the cold biting at their faces.

“Sherlock Holmes.” He squeezed John’s hand. “Pleasure.”

They both smiled and chuckled a bit, and it was brilliant. Other people, people like Seb and Mycroft would be screaming, swearing, and making a general fuss about everything. But this man… John Watson laughed in the face of death. It was absurd… it was far from proper… and it was exactly what Sherlock had been searching for since the day of his birth.

John licked his lips, sliding his fingers over Sherlock’s other hand.

“Okay, let’s get you up and over, shall we?”

Sherlock nodded, and he took a step onto the next bar of the railing, his one hand on the pole and the other in John’s--- and that’s when he slipped. It was stupid, really, because Sherlock should have anticipated the moisture that had gathered on the railing. But he didn’t, and Sherlock let out a surprised shout as he fell.

John’s hand tightened its grip, and suddenly the doctor was the only thing holding Sherlock up from certain death. Sherlock watched as John clenched his jaw, grabbing Sherlock’s other hand. Sherlock didn’t have to see beneath John’s shirt to know that the man was lean and strongly built; he just hid it beneath his clothes. John hissed, his blue eyes locked with Sherlock’s.

“Come on, pull yourself up. You can do it, please---”

Sherlock did as he was told, groaning as he pulled and John gradually helped him back up. Sherlock put his one arm around John’s shoulder, and with a final pull and push they were both sprawled out on the floor, Sherlock’s body covering John’s. Sherlock shakily rolled off of the doctor, breathing slowly as John covered his face with his hands. Sherlock sniffed, knocking his knee against John’s.

“Are you all right?”

John dragged his hands away from his face, fixing Sherlock with an incredulous look.

“I’m fine. What about you--- you almost, you could have…”

He trailed off, and Sherlock just nodded. They both shared an electric silence, breathing the same air. Sherlock wanted to say something, anything, but that was when boots began stomping on the deck. John arched his back, looking up briefly before multiple hands dragged him up roughly onto his feet. Sherlock’s eyes widened and he quickly stood up to see officers of some kind along with Seb and Mycroft. The officers shoved John rudely, handcuffing him of all things as Seb sneered at the doctor.

“What was your plan exactly, to mug him and just run away?”

John blinked, obviously more than a little bewildered.

“What? I wasn’t---”

Sherlock strode up and pushed the officer away, glaring at Sebastian.

“He saved my life, Sebastian.” Mycroft raised his eyebrows, and Sherlock sighed, crossing his arms. “I was looking over the edge of the ship because I wished to see the propellers and I slipped.”

Mycroft narrowed his eyes.

“You slipped?”

Sherlock nodded, and the leading officer tugged on John’s elbow, fixing him with an authoritative stare.

“Is that what happened?”

John nodded, and Sherlock had to make sure he didn’t show the huge swell of relief that blossomed in his chest. The officer was still for a moment, then he gave John a soft smile as he took the handcuffs off of him.

“Well, then you’re quite the hero.”

John received a clap to his left shoulder, and the doctor’s smile tightened marginally. Sherlock caught John’s eye, and he curled his lips in a crooked smile. John’s expression lightened for a moment, and Sherlock was satisfied. Mycroft swooped in, helping Sherlock into his coat. Seb just gave John a once over before steering Sherlock away and back toward their rooms. Sherlock twisted back around, making Sebastian come to a halt.

“Really? You’re not going to do anything to show your gratitude?”

Seb shrugged before glancing at Mycroft.

“Do you think a twenty will suffice?”

Sherlock scoffed.

“Twenty pounds for the life of your cousin’s beloved fiancé? Charming.”

Frigid air sliced through them, and Seb’s smile seemed to crack around the edges. He grimaced and turned on his heel, stalking back over to John, who was rubbing warmth back into his hands. Sebastian cleared his throat, and John glanced up at him, a polite and detached smile on the doctor’s face. Sebastian shoved his hands into his pockets.

“How would you like to join us for dinner tomorrow evening?” Sebastian sounded like the words were being cut out of his throat, but his damned smile never did leave his face. “You could entertain us with your heroic tale.”

The words were disgustingly condescending, and Sherlock had never loathed another person as much as he loathed Sebastian at that moment. John smiled, not batting an eye at Seb’s utter lack of tact.

“Sure. Sounds fantastic.”

John looked past Seb, and his smile was genuine when he met Sherlock’s eyes. It was odd, more than odd; it was ludicrous that such a small act could make Sherlock feel a little less hopeless. After all, Sherlock wasn’t keen on people as a whole, so the fact that this one man, his unassuming, plain Doctor John Watson could gain any sort of reaction from Sherlock was bloody incredible.

Sherlock let himself be steered back to the upper-class deck, his cheeks still flushed from the adrenalin and soft laughter. Seb went to his private quarters, and as soon as the door to Sherlock and Mycroft’s suite closed behind the smiling imbecile, Mycroft glanced over at Sherlock, his dark eyes steely.

“It’s interesting that even though your fall was so sudden that Mr. Watson still had time to remove his shoes and jacket.” Sherlock clenched his jaw, and Mycroft let out a soft exhale, his shoulders slackening slightly. “Sherlock, I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Rolling his eyes, Sherlock tugged his tie loose, letting it fall to the floor.

“Don’t be daft, Mycroft, you’ll give yourself a migraine.” Sherlock shrugged off his jacket. “And it’s Doctor Watson.”

Sherlock could hardly sleep, which was nothing new, but the reason was. Lately he’d taken up to pacing back and forth, letting worry eat away at his stomach about his impending marriage. That night, however, Sherlock’s mind and body were buzzing with thoughts, melodies, and images of John Watson. Where did he come from? Why did he have that limp? Did he like music? Why was he going to America? Was he married? Why was he so fit? It all made a wondrous symphony in Sherlock’s mind, and it didn’t cease even in the morning.

Mycroft was still asleep, the lazy lout, when Sherlock couldn’t wait any longer. He quickly scrawled out a note to Mycroft, telling his brother that he wouldn’t be able to have breakfast with him and Sebastian. Throwing on a light coat, Sherlock left his suite and was soon out in the early morning sun. The ocean air was fresh and it was a truly lovely way to wake up.

Sherlock quickly went back down to the lower-class deck, the wind blowing his curls all over the place. He jogged to the back deck, where he’d first met John. It was sprinkled with a handful of passengers, but none of them were John Watson. Sherlock huffed out a frustrated breath, licking his lips. He could search the ship, maybe the lower decks, but what if while he was gone John came to the upper deck? Then again, it’s not as if they’d made plans to meet again aside from dinner… but still, certainly John could feel what Sherlock had felt--- that aligning of something indescribable, a place inside of them where no words could reach---

“I wondered if you’d be here.” None other than John Watson brought Sherlock out of his own mind. He was in shabby attire, and this time he was leaning on a cane with a leather-bound book tucked under his arm. John smiled, slanted and imperfectly captivating. “Good morning, Mr. Holmes.”

Sherlock waved his hand.

“Sherlock, please.” Sherlock paused, and he suddenly wished that he were more like Mycroft when it came to people. While Sherlock could read people’s lives like they were open books, he never cared for social norms and nuisances like casual conversations. Mycroft’s specialty was navigating through a person’s own mind without them even realizing at all, all the time they’d thought they’d just been having a friendly chat. Sherlock cleared his throat, his hands in his pockets. “I was hoping to see you before dinner.”

John’s smile widened a bit, and Sherlock wondered if the doctor’s cheeks were pink because of the breeze, bashfulness, or both.

“Really? I thought your lot wouldn’t want to be seen with people like… me.”

Sherlock frowned, stepping closer to John.

“I don’t have a ‘lot’ as you call it.” John’s stomach growled, and Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “You haven’t eaten.” Judging by his skin and the thin line of sweat that clung to his brow, John hadn’t had a proper meal in several days. Sherlock reached forward and tugged on the sleeve of John’s shirt. “Come with me.”

John followed Sherlock up to the upper-class deck, and Sherlock got them both breakfast, more for John. Afterwards, they walked along the side of the Titanic, and Sherlock learned a great deal about John Watson through conversation and the rest of his story that lay hidden in his mannerisms.

He was an army doctor who’d won his ticket in a rather fantastic card game mere minutes before the Titanic left port. He enjoyed cards a lot, and he liked animals, more specifically dogs. He liked apples and was very, very polite. Sherlock told him about the concert halls in England, the scientist, and freethinkers. Sherlock was thrilled when John said that he enjoyed music quite a bit. Sherlock told John about his yearning to keep bees and be a consulting detective.

“Consulting detective?” John and Sherlock sat on the benches on the upper deck, idly watching the other high-class passenger go by. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Sherlock leaned against the back of the bench.

“That’s because I’ve invented the job.”

John laughed, his eyes crinkling at the sides.

“Oh really?” Time seemed to dance by them, the sun was already hanging high in the air and people were starting to head back indoors for lunch. Sherlock and John stayed. “So what does a consulting detective do?”

Clearing his throat, Sherlock stretched his long legs out in front of him, enjoying the way his muscles seemed to sigh happily.

“When the police are out of their depth, which is always, then they come to me.”

Sherlock had begun consulting the local police force in London, and he’d just begun earning a reputation as a brilliant genius (which he was) when Irene Adler decided that she wanted him to be her husband and had written Mycroft about it. Sherlock tried to steer his thoughts away from the future… thoughts of dwindling chances of him ever being a consulting detective. Luckily John was there to distract him as he smiled, airy and free.

“The police don’t consult amateurs.”

John hadn’t meant it as an offense, but Sherlock felt his brow twitch all the same. Sherlock’s brain worked faster than his mouth, and what little of a filter Sherlock had dissolved as he cleared his throat.

“You were injured in your army days, but that injury does not relate to the limp in your right leg. A fellow by the name of Freud speaks of injuries and illnesses in the mind, and that is the case with your right leg.” John’s smile faded, his hand traveling down to his leg, his fingers squeezing his knee as Sherlock continued. “When we were walking you gradually used your cane less and less, proving that if distracted you don’t limp at all. That, and you never once asked me to slow down as if you’ve forgotten to ask. You’re real injury was to your left shoulder, and while it might be physically healed, you do not like people asking about it actively or even accidently judging by the way you flinched slightly at that officer’s pat to your shoulder.”

Sherlock stopped, and they were both quiet for several long moments. Sherlock watched John’s befuddled face intently. The doctor took a slow breath, his smile shaky.

“That was… amazing.”

Sherlock tilted his head to the side, honestly curious.

“You think so?”

“Of course it was.” John shook his head, smiling again. “It was absolutely extraordinary.”

“Hm.” Sherlock felt odd, elated somehow. He wondered if this was what it felt like to be infatuated with another human being. “That’s not what people usually say.”

John’s cheeky smile widened.

“What do people normally say?”

Sherlock smirked, their knees bumping against each other.

“Piss off.” They both laughed until their stomachs ached, and when Sherlock ran his fingers over his abdomen he realized that he hadn’t laughed so freely… so honestly in his entire life. John was chuckling, holding his book against his stomach. Sherlock reached for it, sliding it out of John’s fingers, making the doctor’s eyes open. “What’s this?”

John stiffened, and Sherlock hesitated, his fingers brushing over the spine. The doctor paused, obviously debating whether or not he should take his book back… but then he sighed and smiled weakly.

“Go ahead.”

Sherlock fought down the urge to grin as he opened the book, balancing it so that one side rested on John’s thigh, the other on Sherlock’s. The first page was handwritten notes, small drawings littering the margins with arrows linking the illustrations to certain passages. Sherlock read quickly, and most of the passages had to do with some medical quandary or another. The first ten pages were medical journal entries… but it was page eleven that added yet another fascinating aspect to John.

A charcoal sketch that took up the entire page made Sherlock’s eyes widened. It was of a father and his very young daughter. The father was holding the girl’s hands, holding her up so that her feet dangled off of the ground. The shading… it was perfect, like a photograph. Better than a photograph.

“John…” Sherlock’s fingers hovered over the picture, not touching it. “This is exceptional… quite exceptional work.”

This time when John’s cheeks and ears flushed pink Sherlock knew that it was because of modest embarrassment.

“I---uh, well, I suppose I’m all right---”

All right?” Sherlock wrinkled his nose. “No, John, this is--- you’ve really captured these people.” Sherlock flipped through the pages, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters occupying them until suddenly the pictures became less… modest. “Oh.”

Sherlock turned the book up so that any passing person wouldn’t be able to see the naked woman on the page. She had dark hair and a mole on her right cheek. John cleared his throat.

“I was in Paris for a bit, and, uh, the nice thing about Paris is that women are willing to take their clothes off.”

Sherlock smiled and turned the page. For each woman, John had something he’d found intriguing about her. Hands, eyes, lips, navels, John had an eye for beauty. Sherlock turned the page, expecting another woman only to see a man.

He felt John’s body tense, and Sherlock let his eyes roam over the naked male body in the book. The man had a scarred back, and his expression was that of general kind-hearted amusement. Sherlock could tell that it was the man’s eyes that had gotten John’s attention. John cleared his throat, his shoulders painfully tight.

“Do you… are you offended?”

The following pages were filled with men. Sherlock knew what society’s conventional answer to John’s question would be… but Sherlock never was one for convention. Sherlock shook his head, smiling a bit.

“No. Of course not.” John relaxed, and Sherlock closed the book, sliding it back into John’s hands. “It’s all fine.”

John’s relief was palpable, and he opened his mouth to say something when a posh voice cleared its throat in front of them.

“Sherlock and Doctor Watson… somehow I’m not surprised.” Mycroft was leaning on his umbrella. “I trust you’ve had breakfast at least.”

“Yes, Mycroft.” Sherlock rolled his eyes. “John, this is my insufferable brother Mycroft.”

Mycroft smiled thinly, and that was when a rather attractive woman walked up beside Sherlock’s older brother, her nose buried in a book. Mycroft licked his lips.

“Gentlemen, this is Anthea. Her father’s a museum curator.”

Anthea picked her head up as the staff began to sound the trumpets that signaled that dinner was commencing.

“Hello.” Her brown eyes flickered over John. “You might want to come with me. I’ve got a brother who’s about your size.”

John bit his lip, his brow furrowed.


Anthea exhaled sharply.

“I insist.”

Mycroft smiled in that awfully fake way of his.

“Come on, Sherlock. We have to get changed.”

Sherlock and John got up, and Sherlock squeezed John’s wrist in a way that he hoped was reassuring before following his brother back to their suite.

“You’ve taken some interest in Doctor Watson.”

Mycroft glanced over to Sherlock’s side of their adjoined dressing room. Sherlock paused in adjusting his cufflinks before turning back to the mirror.

“So what if I have?”

His older brother made a frustrated noise.

“Sherlock, as a boy you were able to use the guise of mere intrigue. Now… now things are different. Even Sebastian is starting to become suspicious---”

“Suspicious of what?”

“You know what, Sherlock.” Mycroft glared at him. “Irene Adler’s fortune will ensure that you are financially comfortable. Sherlock scoffed, but Mycroft helped up his hand, his eyes harder than diamonds. “Sherlock, you have never had to work for your money. Mummy always took care of it, and with her gone… you need another provider.”

Anger prickled at the back of Sherlock’s neck.

“I’m not a child, Mycroft.”

“No.” Mycroft sighed. “But you are childish. This isn’t just about the money, Sherlock. It’s about your welfare.” Sherlock’s stomach turned to stone, and he closed his eyes as Mycroft kept talking in that people-pleasing voice of his. “I don’t want you to get hurt… and while the views of our family are wide and progressive, the world has yet to catch up with us. Homosexuality--- Sherlock, it could get you killed.”

Sherlock opened his eyes, staring at his own reflection. He was considered handsome by several standards, dressed in finely tailored clothes with money and status revolving around him. Yet, Sherlock wanted to smash the mirror until his fingers bled and broke. Mycroft was ready to leave, and Sherlock caught his brother’s eye.

“Life without music will kill me.”

Mycroft’s face rippled, and for a moment he appeared to be human, grief-stricken and agonized. However, the moment quickly passed and Mycroft adjusted his tie.

“I’ll see you at dinner, Sherlock.”

Sherlock soon found himself to be alone. He glanced back at his own face, and he wished he were born in another time, perhaps in the future when the minds of the world were not prudish and narrow. In that time, he could have stayed in London, he could have been a consulting detective… and he could have been acquainted with John Watson. Perhaps they could have solved crimes together. Holmes and Watson. Sherlock and John.

Together their names sounded right, like they were made to fit against the other. Sherlock stood up and left his quarters before he fell into his mind. He let the cold night air refresh his senses as he descended the stairs, passing the large clock before he turned toward the main staircase. Sherlock stopped.

John was dressed in a fine tuxedo, and for a moment Sherlock forgot to take a breath. Sherlock somehow managed to descend the rest of the stairs because the next thing he knew John was turning towards him. The doctor smiled, his cheeks turning that delightful shade of pink again as John leaned on his cane.

“I clean up pretty well, don’t I?”

Sherlock shrugged teasingly.

“I suppose.”

They both were suppressing chuckles, like when they were around each other they couldn’t help but become a bit intoxicated. They sat down at a long table with other insufferably rich people. Sherlock sat next to John, and he would draw faces and words into his caviar, making John choke on his wine while he tried to conceal his laughter.

Sebastian seemed to bristle and swiftly cleared his throat.

“Well, I have to say, Doctor Watson, you’ve sure cleaned up nicely. You almost pass for a gentleman.”

If Sherlock had been holding his wine glass he was sure that he would have shattered it. John straightened in his chair, smiling through the thinly veiled insult. John inspected the sleeves of the clothes he’d borrowed from Anthea’s brother.

“S’quite nice, isn’t it?”

Anthea smiled, and even Mycroft had to hide a chuckle with a sip of his wine. Sebastian’s grin widened, and he reminded Sherlock of a rabid animal, eyes wild and limbs twitchy.

“Do you have family waiting for you in America?”

“No.” John smiled sweetly. “I won my ticket in a card game, so I’ll just see where life takes me when we dock in New York.”

Seb’s eyes narrowed.

“You find that kind of life satisfying? A life of chance?”

Icy silence filled the table, and Sherlock wanted to twist Seb’s rotten, self-satisfied smile off his face. John was surprised, as anyone would be, and for a few moments Sherlock thought that the doctor would merely shrink back into his chair after such an exchange. Sherlock wouldn’t blame him. However, John drew in a breath, making all eyes swivel toward him.

“Two days ago I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about food as I was playing two Swedes in a card game. And now I’m here with you fine people drinking wine that costs more than I care to acknowledge.” Those fine people that John had lifted his glass to laughed (except Seb, of course) and John’s smile was smoky and grounded as he turned his attention back to Sebastian. “So the answer is ‘yes,’ I do find my life to be very satisfying.”

Anthea, whom Sherlock was warming up to more and more, raised her glass.

“To living life to the fullest.”

The entire table followed her example, and John blushed. Anthea steered the conversation away from them, and Sherlock saw that John’s hand was shaking on his knee. Ah, so he had been nervous after all. Sherlock nudged him gently with his elbow, making John look at him as Sherlock spoke in low tones so no one else could hear them.

“Watch my brother.” John did as he was told, and Sherlock smiled. “He’s about to move Anthea’s wine glass into the direct pathway of her hands. She’ll become enthusiastic about a topic, and when she inevitably knocks the glass over, Mycroft will use his ‘exceptional reflexes’ to catch it.” Sherlock counted down, and like clockwork the events took place exactly as Sherlock had predicted. Anthea was modestly flustered, and Mycroft was there to assure here that it was no problem. Sherlock rolled his eyes. “He really needs to update his seduction techniques.”

John laughed, trying desperately to cover it up by coughing, but Sherlock wasn’t sure if the table was convinced. John glared at him half-heartedly.

“Stop it! We can’t giggle at dinner, Sherlock.”

Sherlock might have been convinced of John’s annoyance if the doctor wasn’t grinning from ear-to-ear. Seb, Mycroft, and the rest of the men stood, and Sherlock whispered to John.

“This is when they all go back to the den and smoke cigars and drink brandy while dividing the world up amongst themselves.” John snickered and Sherlock smiled. He pinched John, making him focus. “I know that dinner was dreadful, and I imagine that you have far more… colorful things waiting for you.” Sherlock tried not to let excitement well up inside of him as he licked his lips. “Want to show me?”

John’s breath seemed to stutter out of him, an incredulous smile on his face.

“Oh God, yes.”

They both stood up and with a few hasty goodbyes they left the elegant dining room and went to the lower decks. Sherlock followed John, who was hardly using his cane at all as they ducked in and out of narrow corridors until they came to a pair of double doors. John turned, a mischievous grin on his face.

“This isn’t like the quiet, sophisticated parties you’re used to, Sherlock.”

Sherlock raised his eyebrows.

“It better not be.”

John nodded with approval before pushing the doors open.

Loud music washed over Sherlock, and not in an unpleasant or overwhelming way. It was Irish, and the room was packed tightly with laughing, dancing, and smiling men, women, and even children. John was definitely more at ease now that he didn’t have to find his way through multiple forks and foods. They navigated their way to the edge of what appeared to be the main dancing area, and John got two pints of ale for them.

It was bitter and it sloshed over the glass when a rather drunk bloke bumped into him, but Sherlock couldn’t be bothered by it. They managed to find some empty seats and they both sat down, sipping their beer while trying to talk about the noise. Sherlock told John of his impending marriage, putting his glass down so that his hands could assist in demonstrating just how unhappy he was.

“She thinks music is boring and I’ll never be able to keep bees. It’s worse than being sentenced to death.”

John’s lips were pulled into a sympathetic frown, and he nudged Sherlock’s knee with his own.

“At least you’ll have money, Sherlock.”

Sherlock wrinkled his nose with distaste.

“Money is nothing if my life is empty.”

John’s sad smile made Sherlock’s words melt. They shared silence, letting the noise of the jovial times around them rise up once more. Sherlock had been forced to learn how to ballroom dance. His partners had always been blushing and giggling women who were too enamored by him to mind where their feet were going.

The type of Irish dancing that Sherlock watched at that moment was nothing like his experiences on the ballroom floor. Men danced with women, men danced with men, and women danced with women. They all laughed their way around the upbeat music that made Sherlock’s blood ignite in his veins. Sherlock spared a quick glance at John, and he saw that John’s eyes were drawn to the dancing, a wistful smile on his face.

Sherlock got up quickly, watching as John’s eyes followed him.

“Right.” Sherlock extended his hand. “Dance with me.”

John gaped at him, an expression that was amusing as well as endearing.


Sherlock rolled his eyes.

“All I’ve ever done is go to proper parties with boring dancing.” Sherlock inwardly grinned when John didn’t go for his cane, not once. “Show me how it’s done, Doctor Watson.”

John stood, his weight evenly distributed on both of his feet. Sherlock put his one hand on John’s waist before tangling their fingers together with his other hand. John smiled and the song dissolved into an even faster tempo. John reached for Sherlock’s hip and pulled him closer with a hidden strength that Sherlock wanted to see more of.

“We’ll need to be close.”

Sherlock’s cheeks were flushed but he could easily blame that on the alcohol.

“Very well, John.”

John took a quick breath, and like that they were off. There were no step-by-step instructions or rules; as long as they were with the rhythm then their dance was acceptable. It was glorious, and already music was writing itself in Sherlock’s head. Quick drags of a bow against the strings, joyous and carefree in a way that concert halls never allowed Sherlock to be.

They danced until they were both red in the face and panting. Sherlock was sweating, his skin buzzing. John’s eyes were crinkled at the sides, and he was going to say something when a body pushed him forward. Sherlock caught him, John’s face pressed against Sherlock’s shirt for the briefest moments before he was able to regain his footing. Sherlock kept his hands on John’s shoulders, enjoying the feel of John under his fingers as the doctor smiled up at him.

“How did you like the dance, Sherlock?”

Sherlock smiled, something that he seemed to do a lot around John.

“It was certainly a memorable experience, but it was more about proving a point.”

Already Sherlock could see an older fellow pick up John’s cane, looking over at John. John’s back was to the stranger, and he tilted his head to the side.

“What do you mean?”

By that the time the older gentleman (one of the cooks because of the spices under his fingernails) was tapping John on the shoulder. John turned around to see his cane, his crutch in the man’s hand.

“I believe you left this behind.”

Sherlock didn’t have to see John’s face to know that it slackened with astonishment. He reached out and took it, thanking the man graciously. When he turned back around, Sherlock noticed that John’s eyes were shining brightly. He’d mostly likely had that limp for quite sometime, not understanding why it plagued him so only knowing that it did. John wasn’t the kind of man who liked to be pitied--- and his limp hung over him like a dark shadow.

In his hand, John held the answer… he held the truth. Sherlock drank in every detail of that moment, of the way John smelled of smoke, sweat, and laughter--- how the material of Anthea’s brother’s tuxedo felt beneath Sherlock’s fingertips. John didn’t say anything, maybe his voice failed him at the time, but he didn’t need to speak. Sherlock heard his words all the same, the rush of something between them that consumed them both so quickly that Sherlock felt like he was drowning.

They parted quickly after that. Sherlock didn’t want to push his luck with the late hour that he would be returning, and John was beginning to grow tired. They both knew that they would see each other tomorrow. Sherlock quietly opened the door to his suite, softly entering his bedroom and taking off his clothes. He changed into his night robes and slid into his bed.

He lay in the dark, and when he closed his eyes he could still see the dazzling, modest smile that had been on John’s face.

Onto the next (and final) part...


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Dec. 15th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
I find this line so clever (imagining Sherlock reading Freud is strangely attractive)

“You were injured in your army days, but that injury does not relate to the limp in your right leg. A fellow by the name of Freud speaks of injuries and illnesses in the mind, and that is the case with your right leg.”

And this is such a great synthesis of lines from both sources- so, so great

"“This is when they all go back to the den and smoke cigars and drink brandy while dividing the world up amongst themselves.” John snickered and Sherlock smiled. He pinched John, making him focus. “I know that dinner was dreadful, and I imagine that you have far more… colorful things waiting for you.” Sherlock tried not to let excitement well up inside of him as he licked his lips. “Want to show me?”

John’s breath seemed to stutter out of him, an incredulous smile on his face.

“Oh God, yes.”

(and I need to stop before I quote your whole story back to you)
Dec. 15th, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, I watched Titanic so many times and took notes before I wrote this... yeah. I like to make sure each piece is doing the other justice. Thanks so much for reading, I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
Apr. 18th, 2012 06:16 am (UTC)
Can I just say, I started reading this before work today, then had to stop mid way to head off to work. All through work I was so excited to resume reading! I couldn't stop thinking about it :D Finally home and thoroughly enjoying this *heads to next chapter*
Apr. 18th, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks so much for reading, I'm so glad you like it so far. <3
Apr. 20th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
That was wonderful, now I'll read the second part! *squee* :D
Apr. 21st, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: :D
Aw, glad you think so :)
May. 11th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
this is amazing. I adore it
May. 11th, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
Thanks so much :)
May. 12th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
So-so beautiful...can I translate it into Spanish? Pleeeease!
May. 12th, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
Go ahead, darling, just credit me as the author and you're good. Thanks for reading, I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
Jul. 12th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
I LOVE this fanfic.
If I could change anything, which isn't my place, I would have Sherlock engaged to Jim Moriarty, because he's more of an evil Cal-type character.
And I'd have Irene Adler play the part of Molly Brown. :)
But once again, only my own thoughts. Wondrful job!
Jul. 13th, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
I thought about it, but I didn't know how to twist it to keep everyone in character enough. Thanks so much for reading, I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )