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I Sit Beside the Fire and Think (Sherlock)

Title: I Sit Beside the Fire and Think
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: As Sherlock sleeps, John and Lestrade sit beside the fire and leave a number of things unsaid.
Historian's Note: This takes place during events depicted in the second-series Sherlock episode "The Hounds of Baskerville."
Author's Note: This is comprised of two parts, each a 221b ficlet (221 words, the last beginning with "b").
Chinese Translation: available here and here by freya_fsc

Part 1: John Watson

As John had expected, Sherlock toppled like a felled redwood upon returning to the inn, spent and insensate.

John found himself downstairs, welcomed by a roaring fire and Greg Lestrade.

“It’s nice, this,” Lestrade said. “Beats drinking by the warm glow of crap telly.”

“That it does.”

“Couldn’t sleep?”

“I’m a bit wound up still.”

John didn’t explain that he could’ve collapsed almost as easily as Sherlock, given his own exhaustion, but he wished to spare the other patrons of the inn. The “experiment” in the lab, the shooting of the hound, the detonation of the landmine: God only knew what his subconscious would do with such fodder.

He could shout himself hoarse with nightmares when he returned to 221B Baker Street, where such things – though rarer these days, to be sure – were accepted without question or comment.

Lestrade merely nodded.

Claiming the same chair from which he’d witnessed Sherlock’s earlier drug-induced meltdown, John wondered at how different it felt in the detective inspector’s undemanding presence.

“I’m not his boyfriend.” John said this simply because it came to mind.

“And I’m not his handler,” Lestrade offered in return.

Together they stared into the mesmerising flames, calloused hands cradling tea and whisky, respectively, until inexplicable mirth waylaid them.

John giggled, shoulders shaking helplessly; Lestrade chuckled, a deep rumble from his belly.

Part 2: Greg Lestrade

Once their fit had passed, along with some minutes of companionable silence, John said, “Good holiday, then?”

“Surprising, what a bit of sun and sleep can do for a man. I'd almost forgotten.”

Greg left it unspoken, how young he’d felt with the Kawasaki between his legs, the wind on his face, and the weight of responsibility temporarily off his shoulders.

And how old, when his body made it clear that catching up on countless nights of missed slumber was its chief priority.

He didn’t mention how anticlimactic it had seemed, when he finally located the perfect, solitary bridge over the perfect, picturesque stream and, with all of his strength, hurled his wedding ring into the uncomplaining water.

No music had swelled in the background; no lightning bolt had shot from the sky. He’d left that bridge the same man who’d gone to it, though more willing now to look himself in the eye during his morning shave.

“By the end, I was ready to be back,” he admitted.

To be needed, he didn’t say.

Mycroft’s request – not order, despite what Sherlock thought – couldn’t have been better timed.

Greg sipped his whisky, digesting the night’s dark events.

“Now we return to London,” John murmured at last, half-smiling.

“In all its glory,” Greg agreed. “And paperwork, crime scenes, and dead bodies.”


Vital Stats: Originally written in January 2012.

The title comes from the lyrics of Bilbo's song in Rivendell in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.


( 72 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 12th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)
I love the form here. I have 5 post Scandal drabbles that I've not been sure how to post and there is a simplicity just posting them together that I like. Hmmm. I'll have to think about that.

I'd forgotten John's PTSD but lovely to bring it up here.

And all things Greg and the bride and young and old... so so so so good. That one I shall read again, now I think.
Jan. 13th, 2012 11:20 am (UTC)
I'm so happy you liked the format here! I do love the 221bs, and separating them like this made it easy to change points of view. It's great to hear you enjoyed it - and I'm so glad to see you've posted your own drabbles, too! (Brilliant work!)

The two things that really struck me about this episode (above and beyond how fantastic and brilliant it was) were Lestrade's conspicuously absent ring (nice, quiet development of that character arc) and the thought that everything John had experienced that day/night (punctuated by the landmine detonation) had to affect him in some way he wouldn't want to share. I'm thrilled to hear that the nod to the PTSD, as well as Lestrade's failed marriage, seemed fitting to you.

And thanks so much for pointing out the young/old contrast with Lestrade. I'm so pleased that worked!

I really appreciate your lovely feedback. Thank you so much, my friend.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 13th, 2012 11:21 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad these worked for you! I appreciate your kind words very much. *hugs* I was thrilled to see the development of these two in this wonderful episode.
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
First, the title. It felt Hobbity to me, and I liked it. Then later, when Lestrade threw his ring, all I could see were scenes from LotR. And the Martin Freeman/Bilbo thing has tied it all up nicely in my head.
Then there are the drabbles themselves. I adored the ominous mention of the landmine. Of course John would have been affected by that in particular, and afraid of bad dreams. I loved the non-sequitur of "I'm not his boyfriend". lol John seems to spout that a lot lately. And I"m so glad that Lestrade stiffened his spine a bit and dealt with pain.
Lovely pair of drabbles. I do love this format so much.
Jan. 13th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)
I'm so glad the Hobbity vibe worked for you!

Thanks so much for telling me what you liked most. I'm very happy that it made sense for everything John had experienced that day/night - especially the landmine - to be haunting him a bit. And I'm tickled that his non-sequitur gave you a laugh! ;) I think that must be his "default mode" by this point, assuring everyone they're not a couple. LOL.

It's also great to hear that my explanation for Lestrade's conspicuously absent wedding ring made sense.

I love this format, too! It's tough, but it's also rewarding, and I appreciate the freedom to offer a comment through fiction without having to write a 5,000 or 10,000-word epic every time. (Ha!) Thanks a million for reading and for leaving such incredibly helpful comments. You're the best!

(no subject) - bk7brokemybrain - Jan. 13th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - morganstuart - Jan. 14th, 2012 11:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC)
Loved the mixture of humour, gravitas and acceptance in this. Well done, as always.
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for this, my friend! I'm so glad that the mixture worked despite the brevity of these little ficlets. And I'm so tickled that you used the word "acceptance" - that really underscores a feeling I was hoping to capture. I really appreciate this. You've put a big smile on my face!
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:38 pm (UTC)
What a perfect little gem. So much and so many emotions evoked in so few words.
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so happy you think so! Thank you so much for your kind words. They're very much appreciated.
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
I let out a loud "Awwww!" as Greg threw his ring, which was embarrassing for me because I was at work! Lovely story, and I ached for John not allowing himself to sleep out of consideration for others.
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, I let out a loud "Awww!" reading about your loud "Awww!" :D I'm so glad that this explanation for the conspicuously absent wedding ring worked for you. I'm also glad that you found the part about John avoiding sleep to be moving; I couldn't help but think that all he'd experienced that day/night (punctuated by the landmine at the end) might reawaken some of his PTSD. I figured he knew himself well enough to be wary of this.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your kindness so much!
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC)
Wonderful, as usual! :)
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm delighted that you think so. I really appreciate it.
Jan. 12th, 2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
I adore these :) especially the Hobbity feel (I get nostalgic for Middle Earth sometimes...), and the format just works perfectly! Great job!
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm so tickled that you liked the Hobbity vibe (I get nostalgic, too!) and that you enjoyed the ficlets and their format. I really appreciate your kind comments.
Jan. 12th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
This really is perfect.
Jan. 13th, 2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much. I'm delighted that you think so. You've made my day!
Jan. 12th, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
so pretty

John giving up sleep to spare the strangers who stay at the inn. sweet, self sacrificing sweary John

RG on a motorcycle was not the holiday envisioned, even better, but for some reaason, I pictured nude sunbathing. Not in character at all. I keep wondering if RG was tan or if Lestrade was. If only Lestrade was, who got to apply the make up.

I missed his hair sticking up and his little belly. He was looking trim in the dark shirt with the cute little jackekt. sorry, i have a lot of squee stored up. :)

Thank you for writing these. :)
Jan. 13th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you liked them! Thank you so much. John is the sweet and self-sacrificing kind, isn't he?

I wrote this under the influence of some of Rupert Graves' other films, in which he shows a certain finesse with motorcycles. ;) I'm guessing he's the one who's tan, since he had some guest starring roles in other shows earlier this year (perhaps filmed around the same time?) that also required a tan. One in particular. But if it is only Lestrade, what lucky makeup artists! I share your appreciation of that lovely man and the lovely actor who portrays him.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it.
Jan. 12th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, really well done! Convincing both in their melancholy and their cheerfulness. And could easily be back story for the show.
Jan. 13th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so happy that you found their melancholy and cheerfulness both convincing. I was really taken with the idea of how John's combined experiences from that day/night would affect him (or how he might fear they would affect him), as well as the detail of Lestrade's conspicuously absent ring. It's great to hear that my take on both of these things seemed fitting considering what we know from the rest of the episode/show.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind words very much!
Jan. 12th, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC)
Very, very nice!
I'm glad someone else picked up on the idea that scaring the crap out of John might be a bit not good. And I also loved Lestrade's closure moment on the bridge.
Jan. 13th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

It does seem a lot for an invalided soldier with PTSD to experience, doesn't it? I'm glad you agree that all of it combined would be a bit not good. It's wonderful to hear that Lestrade's coming to terms with it all on the bridge worked for you, as well. I thought it was a nice bit of quiet, stealth character development in the episode to show that Lestrade was no longer wearing his ring.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it.
Jan. 12th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
love how beautifully both of these pieces can meld into not just canon but my headspace as well. ♥
Jan. 13th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is wonderful to hear! Thank you so much. This puts a huge smile on my face. :D
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done, and fits into the episode perfectly.
Jan. 13th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy that you think so! Thank you for this. I appreciate your kind words very much.
Jan. 12th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
Well done!
Jan. 13th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so happy you think so! Thank you so much for your kind words. They're very much appreciated.
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( 72 comments — Leave a comment )