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Out of Darkness, Out of Doubt (Sherlock)

Title: Out of Darkness, Out of Doubt
Author: Morgan Stuart
Fandom: Sherlock
Disclaimer: This universe does not belong to me; I'm just an appreciative visitor. I make no profit from this fan work.
Description: Sherlock observes more during cases these days than he used to do. Not much cop, this caring lark.
Author's Note: This is a 221b ficlet: 221 words, with the last word beginning with a "b."
Historian's Note: This occurs at some unspecified time during events depicted in the first series of Sherlock.
Warnings (Highlight to Read): Non-explicit but disturbing description of murders and their crime



Even to Sherlock's dispassionate gaze, the crime scene had been... unexpected.

An ungodly nightmare, a grey-faced Lestrade had called it. John had closed his eyes and swallowed hard before kneeling on gore-slicked tiles beside the dismembered victims.

It was no surprise, then, that Lestrade ended up at 221B, that the three men pondered evidence and devoured related files until late night bled into early morning.

When John finally piled a duvet and pillow on the sofa, telling Lestrade to salvage whatever rest he could, the detective inspector offered no protest.

John yawned his good-nights and stumbled up the steps to his bed.

Wide awake, thrumming with thought, Sherlock turned to his improvised laboratory at the kitchen table.

A short while later, shouts sounded from upstairs.

Orders.

A litany of names. The soldiers who bore them would never heed that desperate summons.

After a final ragged, inarticulate cry came silence.

Asleep on the sofa, Lestrade folded his arms to his chest, tucked tight fists beneath his chin, and frowned.

Softly, he moaned a plaintive call for the one he had loved and wed, buried and mourned. Then, unanswered, he growled out a troubled sigh.

Sherlock remained motionless. Listening. Watching. Bearing witness.

After a time, when all again was still, he nodded to himself and returned to his flasks and beakers.


THE END

Vital Stats: Originally written in August 2011.

The title borrows from the song "Witness" by Sarah McLachlan.

Comments

( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
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fengirl88
Aug. 18th, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
I love what you've done with Sherlock in this - the sense that he is still outside "this caring lark" in some ways but that his bearing witness is a form of it, even if he doesn't recognize that.
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much!

the sense that he is still outside "this caring lark" in some ways but that his bearing witness is a form of it, even if he doesn't recognize that

Yes! That's it exactly. (I struggled to do this in 221 words, and you stated it so beautifully in less than a sentence!) I'm so thrilled this did, indeed, come across. It's just what I was hoping to convey.

I'm glad this characterization seems fitting to you.

Thanks again!
shefa
Aug. 18th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
This is incredibly powerful. The way these three men circle one another and then part, each into their own bubble of remembrance and pain... Sherlock, too, with his position as sentinel, has a job to do. He's respectful here in a way that shows his development in relation to the two men whose dreams he witnesses and guards.

Gorgeous work.
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I'm so pleased the characterization worked for you. I love how you've described it here; that's just what I'd hoped would come through in the details (and the silences).

He's respectful here in a way that shows his development in relation to the two men whose dreams he witnesses and guards.

Yes! Oh, this makes me so happy. That's just how I saw it. Their dreams, or their reactions to their dreams, obviously affect and matter to him, or he wouldn't be acting the sentinel here.

I'm so grateful for your kind words. Thank you for reading and commenting.
impishtubist
Aug. 18th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely. Very powerful. Especially Softly, he moaned a plaintive call for the one he had loved and wed, buried and mourned. Then, unanswered, he growled out a troubled sigh. Gorgeous.
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm so glad this worked for you. Especially those lines about poor Lestrade's uneasy slumber. I blame Rupert Graves. I could just see him, curled on that sofa in Mrs. Dalloway, and the description wrote itself. ;)

I appreciate your always-encouraging feedback so much. Thank you for reading and commenting, my friend.
archea2
Aug. 18th, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
Yes. I can easily picture that Sherlock - a witness, not a comforter, but curious or caring enough to step out of his own bubble of interest and listen to the still, sad music of humanity.

(... at least, prior to TGG. The post-pool Sherlock, I think, would do more than nod.)
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
to step out of his own bubble of interest and listen to the still, sad music of humanity

Oh, that's such a beautifully poignant way to put it! I love that. Yes, I definitely think this is caring, even the curiosity aspect of it, in this case: people's nightmares are dull and boring, I'd expect, and worthy only of being ignored. But the very real pain of these particular two men makes him pause and set his work aside, and he's unable to return to it until he's certain peace has been regained. For Sherlock, that's truly significant, I imagine.

Great point about the timing, too. Yes, this is definitely pre-TGG Sherlock. I'm quite anxious (then again, who isn't?) to discover exactly who and what the post-TGG Sherlock is. That experience will not doubt leave him changed, and since John's with him, I assume that means he'll be somewhat farther along on his journey toward being a good man as well as a great one.

As always, I'm so grateful to you for reading and commenting, my friend. Thank you!

Edited at 2011-08-18 09:44 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - archea2 - Aug. 18th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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vince_moon
Aug. 18th, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this.
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
I'm delighted to hear it! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it.
(Deleted comment)
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad this worked for you! I'm especially thrilled the dual ideas of the "caring lark" - that John and Lestrade are part of it, because they both obviously care, but in his own way, Sherlock is being pulled in that direction, too, as evidenced by his reaction to their pain, if not the victims' - came through. The way you describe it here is just what I was hoping to convey, so this does my heart good. :)

I'm really grateful to you for pointing out that line. It's so helpful to me to know what works and why, and I'm particularly pleased that those verbs in succession drove the feeling home.

You're so kind to take the time to read and comment as you do. I appreciate it very much.
ghislainem70
Aug. 18th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
Well, my dear, your skill with ficlet form is ever more apparent, distilling maximum meaning and feeling, with economy. I actually feel the most for Sherlock here, it seeming more painful to bear witness, than to suffer the pain.
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I can't thank you enough for your encouragement. What a lovely thing to say! I appreciate it. I agree with you about feeling for Sherlock here, as he witnesses and guards over the others' dreams.

Thanks again for your kindness!
(Deleted comment)
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
*hugs you* I'm so glad you found this to be moving. Don't break, though, please! You have lots more brilliant fic to write! :)

Poor Sherlock, indeed. *sigh*

As always, thanks for your wonderfully kind feedback. It means a lot to know this worked for you.
ascendant_angel
Aug. 18th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
wow you packed a lot of punch into so few sentences. powerful stuff, I really liked it.
morganstuart
Aug. 18th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad it worked for you, and you found it to be moving. I really appreciate your reading and commenting.
sailthouforth
Aug. 19th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
As always, your writing is like a punch to the stomach, in the best possible way. John and Lestrade break my heart, but Sherlock gets me even worse... I feel like he's secretly relieved he doesn't have any emotional attachments to plague him, not even realizing that moments like this -- witnessing someone else's vulnerability, or pain -- are the building blocks of those very connections.
morganstuart
Aug. 19th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Your kind words are much appreciated! I do love to read the "gut punch" kind of stories, so I'm both amazed and thrilled if I've managed to create the same feeling. Thank you.

I feel like he's secretly relieved he doesn't have any emotional attachments to plague him, not even realizing that moments like this -- witnessing someone else's vulnerability, or pain -- are the building blocks of those very connections.

Beautifully put! You've summed up exactly what I was hoping to convey. The very act of setting aside his work to witness this means he's slowly being pulled into this caring lark himself, even if he doesn't realize it.

I'm so glad all three of them seem fitting and moving to you. I appreciate your reading and commenting so much!
gardnerhill
Aug. 19th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
For my nephews I came up with the "Asperger's hug" - where we flash the Buddy!Christ pistol-fingers at each other with a smile. (I'm not touching you because you don't like to be touched, but I acknowledge your presence and your position in my family.)

This makes the same perfect sense: I'm not a hugger and I can't speak meaningless comfort words - but I acknowledge your pain, even if I do not truly fathom it.
morganstuart
Aug. 19th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
I love the "Asperger's hug"! What a meaningful, ideal solution.

I'm not a hugger and I can't speak meaningless comfort words - but I acknowledge your pain, even if I do not truly fathom it.

Oh, that's beautiful. And exactly what I was hoping to convey through Sherlock. It means a lot to know this came across and seems fitting in context.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate them!
cookiefleck
Aug. 19th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC)
Ah, you are a master of the violin, plucking our heartstrings. Each line of the story is wonderful. How much did I love dear John getting out the bedding for Lestrade. What makes this show, and fan fiction, work is the lovely dynamic of these characters playing off each other (Mycroft, too). Each brings something different - wonderful and wounded - to the table, and I love how you bring that out.

Your "bearing witness" line struck a different chord with me, too. After just posting the photos from Buchenwald, my mind couldn't help but go there as I did feel I was bearing witness when there.



Edited at 2011-08-19 04:38 am (UTC)
morganstuart
Aug. 19th, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much for reading - and for leaving such kind comments! You're so wonderfully encouraging, I can't thank you enough.

I'm especially glad the image of John bringing the bedding worked. On the one hand, it felt like a nod to ACD canon, since it was not unknown to have an inspector sleep over on the couch in the original 221B, but in another way it felt particular to this incarnation of John. He'd be justified in saying, "Go home now," but he probably understands all too well what it's like to need to lie down before you fall down, and he meets the need before it's even voiced. And then, kindly, gives orders. Ha!

(Plus, I think there's an element in this case of not wanting to be alone, or for the other to be alone, after seeing something so horrific that it even rattles even seasoned men.)

Your point about "bearing witness" brought tears to my eyes, especially after seeing your amazing photos.

Again, thank you.

Edited at 2011-08-19 04:06 pm (UTC)
methylviolet10b
Aug. 19th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
Ooof. So descriptive and evocative with so few words. The disquiet, the exhaustion, the horrid nature of the crimescene - they all are living, breathing presences in this fic.

Wide awake, thrumming with thought...

Wow. Yep. Insomnia on the hoof, right there in five words.

I love Sherlock bearing witness, as the only thing he can do.

I repeat: you are really good at these 221b stories.
morganstuart
Aug. 19th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're so kind! Thank you for your always-encouraging words. I'm so pleased this felt alive and vivid, despite the length. I'm especially glad the way Sherlock bore witness (as, you point out, the only thing he really could do) seemed fitting.

You've put a huge smile on my face. Thank you!
kari77
Aug. 19th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so brilliant. The 221b format suits your writing perfectly. Every single word is poignant and powerful.

It fits so well that Sherlock is the observer of John's and Lestrade's grief.

Thank you!
morganstuart
Aug. 19th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! This makes my day, it really does. I'm so glad that you think my writing style is working in this format, and that the poignancy comes across, despite the story's brevity. I'm particularly pleased that the way Sherlock witnesses John's and Lestrade's grief seems fitting in this context.

I can't thank you enough for your encouraging words. They're most appreciated!
uwsannajane
Aug. 19th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Another beauty, wow. I continue to be amazed at how much character development - for three people this time! - you're managing to get out of 221 words.
morganstuart
Aug. 19th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Oh wow! *flails a bit* Thank you so much. It's really lovely of you to say. It's thrilling to me to know that the characterizations are coming through, despite the brevity of the story. I really appreciate your reading and leaving such encouraging feedback!
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