“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime,
and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay
Author note: Part 5 of the "No Heart For Me Like Yours" series. This story contains quite a few spoilers for the rest of the series, so it would probably make much more sense to read the series in order, as it tells how John and Sherlock got to this point.
Thanks to arianedevere and the detailed transcript of “The Reichenbach Fall” at her LJ site: http://arianedevere.livejournal.com/tag/
Many thanks to my beta, Skyfullofstars. Sky, thank you for making me stop and think harder about this story. It’s better because of you.
Disclaimers: Sherlock belongs to Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock Holmes originally belonged to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I own nothing. This makes me very, very sad.
Warnings: Sherlock/John. Slash, slash, somewhat graphic slash. Major, major spoilers for Season 2.
Trigger warnings: Suicidal ideation; references to previous abusive relationship, non-con, sexual assault.Please read and review!
Read Chapter 6
Chapter 7: This Façade
“Do you think I am trusty and faithful?
Do you see no further than this façade—this smooth and tolerant manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground toward a real heroic man?
Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion?”
― Walt Whitman
We are still huddled together on the stony, muddy path when the first fat raindrops begin to fall. Abruptly, the skies open, and a deluge of heavy, chilling rain soaks us in seconds. Gasping, we scramble to our feet.
“This way, John.” Sherlock seizes my hand and leads me further into the Hollow, into the mouth of one of the caves. Once we’re inside the mouth of the cave, he releases my hand. I thought it was quite dark outside, but in here it’s absolute, pitch black, and I can’t see anything at all. I’m fumbling in my jacket pocket for my torch, when a warm light flares nearby. Sherlock holds up a small gas lantern.
“Follow me,” he says, and heads further into the cave. He makes an abrupt turn into a low opening to the left, and we are in an ancient mineshaft. There is a small folding camp bed, a spirit stove, and a stack of newspapers, evidence that Sherlock has been here for some time.
“Jesus, Sherlock. Have you been living in a mineshaft for two months?” I can’t believe that he would be willing to stay in such primitive conditions for such an extended period of time.
“No, I’ve only been here since I had Wiggins plant the postcard in your drawer. I had no idea you’d take so long to look in your drawer, John. I’ve been here for eight days this time, which is quite long enough, thanks. I’d sell my brother for a shower.”
Despite my anger, my confusion, the millions of emotions I’m struggling with, I can’t help but giggle a bit at that. Damn it. You can’t giggle at a time like this.
“You’d sell your brother for a cigarette, Sherlock.”
His lips quirk up into an amused smirk.
“True. Or perhaps a roll of loo paper.”
“God, Sherlock, I don’t even want to think about that statement.”
We look at each other, and suddenly we are giggling like we always have at a shared joke. Sherlock looks at me, with what I’ve always thought of as his just-for-John smile, and he reaches out as if to take me in his arms.
No way. I’m not going to let him sweep the past two months under the rug. I step back, holding up my hand to ward him off.
Sherlock freezes, then takes a wary step forward.
“I need time to think, Sherlock.” I pinch the bridge of my nose, then pass a weary hand over my face. I turn away from his pleading eyes, looking around the horrid makeshift living space as an excuse to avoid meeting his gaze. My eyes fall on a second camp bed, and I feel another surge of fury course through me. He trusted someone else enough to bring them here, to let them in on his plan. Why couldn’t he trust me?
Sherlock follows the direction of my glance, and hurriedly speaks.
“The second bed is where Wiggins kipped when she was here. She has been my connection with London, and has kept me supplied every couple of days with food, water…and the occasional takeaway meal from The Cross Keys Inn.”
The hurt and betrayal I feel over his trusting her, instead of me, to take care of his needs, is a gnawing ache in my chest. He sees it, and hesitantly reaches out toward me again.
“John, I would have given anything for you to have been here with me. As soon as it was possible, I sent you a message so that I could meet you.” He steps closer, and tentatively slips his arms around me.
God, it feels so good to be in his arms again. He’s absolutely filthy, soaking wet and unwashed – but the strength and warmth of his body against mine is blissfully soothing.
I need to set some boundaries here, and establish a safe distance to sort out my feelings about what he has put me through these last months. I can’t allow myself to use my heart instead of my head – look where that’s gotten me so far.
“I can’t, Sherlock.” I gently unwrap his arms from my waist, pushing him away with a firm hand against his (far too bony) sternum. His moonstone eyes gaze yearningly into mine, but I make myself stand firm.
“I’m going to need some time to think about things, Sherlock. I’m feeling so many conflicting emotions right now, and I’ll need time to sort through them.”
He steps back, his face shuttering, the old, arrogant mask dropping down over his features. My heart lurches when I see that closed, blank expression on his face.
“Until less than an hour ago, I thought you were dead. Then I found out that it was all a game, and I was only a pawn in it. That’s a lot to process.”
The mask slips, replaced by hurt, anger…and longing.
“John, if there had been any other way, any at all, I would have done it.” His eyes flash with his anguished frustration. “Moriarty had snipers under orders to kill you if I didn’t kill myself. If I hadn’t made it look convincing, you would be dead. Even after Moriarty died, even after I jumped, if I had suddenly turned up, you would have been targeted immediately. I had to keep you safe. The only way to do that was take down the organisation itself. Then I would be free to come back to you.”
“I would have followed you anywhere, Sherlock. I would have given up everything for you. How could you have so little regard for me?”
“Little regard?” Sherlock gasps. “John, how could you possibly think…I have more ‘regard’ and respect for you than for the rest of the population of London combined. Surely you know this.”
I sigh, pinching the bridge of my nose with my thumb and forefinger.
“Sherlock, please understand. I hear what you are saying. I know that you feel that the only way to handle this was to keep me in the dark. What you need to realise is that you didn’t treat me as an equal, as a partner. You didn’t allow me to make the decision for myself.”
I take in a long, steadying breath, then add, “I need to sort through what that means to me, to our relationship.”
“What does that mean, John?” His eyes are begging for a sign of forgiveness.
“It means that I need time, Sherlock. Time to consider whether this relationship is salvageable. Whether I can ever trust you again.”
Sherlock is silent, but his eyes speak volumes. How the world can believe that this man is emotionless is a mystery to me. The love and longing written so clearly on his face causes a sharp twinge in my chest.
“Sherlock, you are, without doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me...” I pause, as I see the beginnings of his just-for-John smile start to creep across his face. I hesitate, knowing that the rest of my statement will wipe that smile away.
Damn it. I have to say it – he has to know.
“…But you are also the cause of the worst pain and heartache of my entire life.”
He looks shattered, but tries to cover with a wry attempt at a smile, quipping, “And you invaded Afghanistan.”
He has chosen those words deliberately, a ghost of the words spoken our first night together, before we knew everything we would become. I feel sick with the strength of my longing to go back to the time before his fall, back when all I could see before us was potential joy, not a road to further pain and destruction.
We sit in silence on the two camp beds, waiting for the rain to die down. Despite the fact that Sherlock has lit the little spirit stove, it’s horribly damp and cold. I can’t believe that Sherlock has been living like this.
“How could you stand to stay here?” I ask him, breaking the silence. “You’re always cold, you wear long sleeves in the summertime. How could you bear it?”
“You forget, John, that I haven’t always lived a life of luxury. How did you think I met so many of the people in my homeless network?”
“You met them when you lived on the street?”
“Some of them, yes. Others I’ve met over the years, most of them through Wiggins.” Sherlock shifted back on the narrow cot, folding his legs up against him, so that his arms wrapped around his shins, and his chin rested on his knees. “She has been an indispensible part of my homeless network for over a decade.”
“She’s been a part of your homeless network for over a decade? How is that possible? She can’t be older than twenty!”
“She’s probably closer to twenty-two, actually; but yes, I first met Wiggins when we were both sleeping rough, when I was only a little older than the age she is now.”
I knew Sherlock had spent some time on the street, heavily addicted to cocaine, after he left university. I had tried not to think about that younger Sherlock, so broken and damaged by drug addiction, and the violently abusive relationship* that had led him to drugs in the first place. Still, the idea of Wiggins as a young girl, living homeless on the streets of London, is even more horrific.
“What is her first name?” I ask, finding that I want to know more about this person who had always been so far in the background for me in the past.
“I’ve no idea, actually. I’m not sure she knows any more, either. Wiggins was not her surname, for that matter – she has always been very careful to keep any information that might get back to her family to herself.”
“She ran away from…an unthinkable home situation, John. Kipping under bridges and eating out of bins was an idyllic escape from the life she led before.” I shudder at the vague reply, my imagination unhelpfully filling in some of the possible scenarios she might have escaped.
“I noticed her bright mind and her ability to pick up information, and used her skills to my advantage. I was able to give her a bit of protection, and as time went on, she was able to assist me in connecting with others who could gather information for investigations.” His silver eyes meet mine.
“And before you ask, I did try to help her to get off the street, but she wanted no part of it. Wiggins is a bit like a feral cat, I think. She still looks like the rest of us, but has reverted to the wild type. She is unwilling to allow others to domesticate her. So I do what I can – pay her enough to allow her to eat well and afford shelter in inclement weather, and provide her with a sort of unofficial protection. She would refuse anything more.”
“It’s a sad story.”
“Perhaps, John. There are thousands of sad stories living on the streets. Hers is hardly unique.”
“Still, to be homeless, as a child, alone on the streets of London. It’s unthinkable.”
“I don’t know, John. If it hadn’t been for London, Wiggins wouldn’t be alive now. If she had grown up here,” he gestures vaguely back toward the cave opening, and presumably to Dartmoor beyond, “she would have been trapped, isolated, unable to escape her situation. London provided her with the means for liberty, and sheltered her. Wiggins isn’t homeless – London is her home.”
I shudder at the thought of her plight…then shudder again. And again. I belatedly realise that I’m shivering. We’re both soaked to the skin, and the cave is damp and cold. I look at Sherlock, and notice that his lips are quite pale, with a decidedly bluish hue. The doctor in me recognises that we both need to get into dry clothes, or risk hypothermia.
“Come on.” I stand up abruptly, and head for the cave mouth. Sherlock extinguishes the spirit stove, and then follows me. To my relief, the rain has died down to a misty drizzle.
“You’re coming with me to the inn,” I tell him. I half expect some sort of argument, but he simply nods acceptance. I pull out my torch, and Sherlock follows with his lantern. We follow the path to the road where I left my hire car. Sherlock wordlessly climbs into the passenger seat, and I drive us back to The Cross Keys Inn.
oOoOoRead Chapter 8