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In the Shadow of a Crease

Title: In The Shadow of A Crease
Author: ciaranbochna 
John, Sherlock,
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the world. Beta'd by the wonderful sandrinnad 
Length: 3162 words 
Rating: PG
A/N: This is crack. Written specifically for the wondeful and talented caffienekitty  on the occasion of her birthday. A wonderful friend, and the only person I want with me when the zombie apocalypse strikes. And I hope forever after that.
Complete crack. For references/inspirations see notes after fic.




The problem started with cologne.

At first John thought the insomnia had caught up with him, but he now knows there is more to it.

When he isn’t working Sherlock indulges in fragrance, but nothing you could find in less than a specialty perfumery. Some concoction of pepper, amber, sandalwood, and he wasn’t sure but there might be a whiff of opium. John tried not to think of the implications of that last bit.

The smell would be fine—at least it would if Sherlock happened to stick with a particular blend. It changed by the day, sometimes the hour, and John wasn’t sure his nose could take much more. The compositions have nothing in common, which he found a bit odd. One day the sandalwood, the next something that smelled like drowning in an orchard. Another morning John was convinced the flat was on fire until he realized it was yet another cologne.

It started with the rotating fragrance, but now John is noticing other things.

When he met Sherlock it was difficult to ignore his wild mop of black curls. John had thought that Sherlock grew his hair just to have something to pull when he was confronted with the idiocy of the world.

Today Sherlock’s hair is straight. He doesn’t mean straight-ironed either. Straight as if it has never been otherwise--and it is twice as short too. John is sure that Sherlock keeps various disguises in his room, but he’ll be damned if he can figure out where he manages to stuff all those curls. Not that he dwells on such things, but the little differences are starting to drive him mad.

About a week ago John knocked on Sherlock’s door, since he hadn’t seen the man in four days. It had happened before, but he still worried. John needed to confirm Sherlock was among the living.

He knocked. “If you don’t come out soon I am going to send the cavalry.”

 “You are hardly the cavalry John.” Sherlock giggled like a four year old from behind the door—and just as high-pitched.

John stepped back in shock. Sherlock did NOT giggle (slightly mad laughter after a chase aside). “What the bloody hell are you doing in there, and please don’t tell me it involves making a better chemical for that mind of yours.”

 “You know perfectly well I don’t do that anymore.”

Sherlock sounds offended. As if John had insulted him.

The personality quirks were doing John’s head in.  He scrubbed his hand over his face.

“Fine, but if the flat burns down I am not saving you. Frankenstein.” John muttered the last.

“Not to worry John, I would never jeopardize your safety. Intentionally.” Sherlock’s voice almost sounded back to normal.

Since that conversation John notices all the disturbing new details.

John walked out of his room Monday morning, bleary-eyed, headed for the bathroom. Sherlock flung the door open, beaming at John.

 “Morning ! Isn’t it a perfect day for a patricide?” Sherlock grabbed John’s arms and spun him around as he walked away. He’s positive that his friend was at least two inches shorter than the day before. Disguises aside, that didn’t seem possible, but he wasn’t prepared to deal with it so early in the morning. Then there was the fact that Sherlock was barefoot.

Too early, ignore it. John thought

 “Nutter.” John muttered and closed the door behind him. Then he saw the bathroom. Or the explosion to be perfectly clear—and all traces of sleep vanished. John was sure that you couldn’t get shaving cream INSIDE the cut glass light fixture above him, but obviously he was wrong. No one would accuse Sherlock of being neat, but this...what the bloody hell. John attempted to find a towel that wasn’t soaked through from the pile on the floor and added the incident to the growing list.

Which brings John to the current situation.

 “But WHY don’t we have any Cadbury Flake bars? It is absolutely vital that I have chocolate right this instant! Also, I require maple fudge and…” Sherlock pulls on one of his curls and touches his tongue to the corner of his mouth.

 “Carbolic acid, yes. And possibly the carapace of an Egyptian scarab.” Sherlock stares hopefully at John.

John walks over the window, trying to sort out what to say. A pigeon lands on the sill and taps at the glass. John turns around and makes a noise he is certain shouldn’t come from a human being.

Sherlock has blue hair. Not just blue, but shoulder-length dead-straight hair.This time it’s the cheek piercing that’s thrown him. He is almost getting used to the hair...wait.

 “Right. Tell me right now what the hell you are playing at, and don’t wave me off for being unobservant either. I can hand you a bleeding list!” John stalks up to Sherlock, forcing him to retreat until the back of his calves hit the couch and he sits down.

Definitely shorter.

This time John watches it happen. The hair disappears into Sherlock’s skull—all at once--no gradual retreat. It’s the same with the piercing. Suddenly Sherlock stands up, back to his usual towering self.

 “I never said you were unobservant John. Although I had thought you would ask me before now.” The corner of Sherlock’s mouth lifts and he attempts to move forward. He hits John’s chest and realizes he isn’t going anywhere.

 “Get to the point.” John growls.

Sherlock smirks briefly at John’s tone.

 “If you will let me get something from my room I will explain. After a fashion.”

John considers this, and finally lets Sherlock pass. “I will hold you to that.”

Sherlock nods and leaps up the stairs.

John envies that effortless movement, but he will still kill Sherlock if he doesn’t explain.

Sherlock returns two minutes later with three beautiful wrapping paper sheets in his hand. He places them on the table in front of him, moving them until they are in a certain order.

 “Sit down John, this may take a moment.”

John stares at Sherlock until he is sure that he won’t change shape, and then collapses into his chair.

John watches Sherlock’s hands as he picks up the first sheet. He carefully and precisely folds the small square of matte emerald paper, then picks up the square of silver next to it and begins to weave it under the first, creasing and tucking as he goes. John is fascinated by the movement of Sherlock’s hands, as each colour blends into the next, emerald triangles and trapezoids eclipsing the shine of the silver paper. Sherlock picks up the red square, produces a scalpel from his dressing gown pocket and slices a tiny square from the corner. He takes his pinky and with a deft twist, slides the tiny bit of glossed paper under the top corner of the green creation in his hand. With his other hand he twists the opposite edge of the paper, pulls a bit underneath, and a dragon unfolds in his hands. Flame tongue protruding, silver just visible under the wings. He twists another piece under the belly and the dragon flaps its wings. John notices the faint scale pattern on the emerald paper as he watches Sherlock’s manipulations.

John takes a moment to wonder. He realizes Sherlock created the dragon in 30 seconds. He recovers himself and glares at Sherlock.

 “Yes, John there is a point to the origami.” Sherlock places the dragon on the table and leans back, hands pressed together under his chin.

 “Mummy didn’t reward me for my intelligence. There was no point . We were obviously above all other—“ Sherlock looks over at John.

 “Most other people. She rarely offered praise even when I thought my accomplishment extraordinary.” Sherlock peers down at the dragon; a finger drifts under its pointed head.

 “The day I told her I was given permission to start university five years early I was quite proud of myself. I walked into the conservatory and waited until she had finished watering the orchids to tell her.” Sherlock looks up at John. “You notice I said waited.”

 “I spotted that, yesI would have been proud of you.” John smiles.

 Sherlock snorts. “Yes, well this was not what occurred.” Sherlock stares at the origami and walks around the coffee table toward the window.

John frowns. Sherlock never bothers to pass around the furniture; he always stomps over it as if it personally offends him. John reaches over and picks up the dragon.

Sherlock’s voice carries quietly from the window as he faces away from John. “I told her I had just given a presentation on quantum loopholes. I expounded on Bohr’s theory that because quantum reality is both a particle and a wave (a phenomenon which occurs by observation)  it follows that at a fundamental level time and space are as malleable as water. The Canary island experiments on closing locality loopholes aided my theory in a small way. At any rate, this is what prompted them to pass me on to university.”

John laughs shortly “University at least. You probably should have been teaching.”

 “Dull. It would involve grading papers. Waste of time. If they cannot discern their mistakes why should I have to point them out?” Sherlock digs his hands into his hair and spins around to face John.

 “My mother did not see early university as an accomplishment. Mycroft eclipsed me by going two years before me. I should have known my news was unimportant  before I spoke to her. Emotional reactions to situations are difficult, and irritating.” Sherlock goes to the mantle, tapping a finger against the skull.

“I would say I was—disappointed. She told me to master something outside academic fields, then gave me an envelope of brightly coloured paper and said if I could not create an origami creature from it by the next morning she would not give me permission to leave for the University of my choice.”

Sherlock returns to the sofa, still precisely avoiding the table. He settles on the end nearest John and holds his hand out for the dragon sitting in John’s palm.

John gives it to him, his fingers skimming Sherlock’s palm as he drops the winged creature.

Sherlock’s mouth twitches faintly at the contact, and he curls back into the corner of the sofa, setting the dragon beside him. His fingers pluck at the arm of the sofa, as if missing his violin.

John waits for Sherlock to speak. He remembers his friend’s warning that there might be days when he wouldn’t talk at all. John recalls once forcing tea and the occasional toast into Sherlock’s hands—it had been four days before Sherlock had raised his head from the sofa. He hopes that this won’t last quite so long.

Sherlock’s other hand clenches the cushion under him, and he continues.

John sighs silently.

 “I sustained innumerable paper cuts, one scalpel slice—which would have required stitches, if I had bothered—in my efforts to create a simple crane. I failed spectacularly. and used acid to dissolve all the failed animals; I lost a moment or two in my anger. The palm of my hand recovered eventually, I wish I had kept the formulation for the particular acid I used”

John would almost swear Sherlock was stalling for time. He frowns.

 “I am coming to the point John. Restrain your annoyance. I trust the end will be worth your patience.” Sherlock looks up at John.

 “Since there was no need to worry about getting up for my classes the next day, I retired to the library. I sat in my father’s wing-back chair,  and attempted to create the perfect paper creature.”

John can see a younger Sherlock, engulfed by an oxblood-leather chair, pressing himself against the absence of his father as he poured that fantastic brain into a challenge. John shakes his head and tries to focus.

Sherlock raises an eyebrow at him, but doesn’t stop. “Barring the failures and destruction, I began to see how I would fold the edges of the world together, just as I would the paper. I remember the  patterns. Blue, silver, chrysanthemum, cherry blossom, and weaving them all into the shape you see now. Soon I felt the top of the chair against my neck, even though I could barely see over it normally. I knew something had changed. Judging from the length of my arms I had aged two years. I was 12 at the time—so 14. It lasted as long as I took time to observe it, and then I was hidden in the chair again. The dragon fit less easily in my hand as I lost those years. I needed them back.”

John laughs slightly. “Imagine that, something that escaped you. Wouldn’t stop a young genius of course.”

Sherlock sits back and wraps his arms around his legs, He turns to the side and tucks his feet into the depths of the cushions behind him.

John snorts, gets up from his chair and heads to his room. He tosses the grey wool blanket from his bed over Sherlock as he sits back down. “Even transport needs to be taken care of you know.”

Sherlock doesn’t comment, just shakes his head and waves a hand in the “beside the point” gesture. Then he pulls the blanket down and swaddles his feet in the blanket, and suddenly Sherlock is 12.

John’s breath dies in shock.

Sherlock smirks up at John. “Had to see if you had been following the conversation.”

His voice is wrong. Too high, and he looks almost skeletal, overwhelmed by his arms and legs. John doesn’t think it possible for the man to be any skinnier, but the boy he was(is) seems to be. The hair is the same at least, and those damn glacial eyes.

“Where does the rest of you go to when you do this Sherlock? It doesn’t just disappear—laws of conservation of mass and all.”

Sherlock gives John an appraising look. “Yes, well. I am still here, it is just—“ Sherlock grabs his wrapped feet and lowers his head. “Crowded.”

“So, you are tormenting yourself just to prove you’re clever aren’t you?” John reaches over and grabs Sherlock’s arm. Sherlock is abruptly back to his usual mass and age under John’s hand. John’s hand hums slightly with the displaced energy.

Sherlock stares down at John’s hand and frowns. “It hurts no more than ripping out a fingernail, or when I caught myself with the scalpel.” He shrugs.

John releases Sherlock’s arm and clenches his hand. “I would shake you if I thought it would do any good. You don’t need to do this and yet you can’t stop. What do you need to be younger for anyway?” John leans back in his chair, digging his fingers into his leg in frustration.

“As quickly as my brain processes, at times the added energy of those years is of better use. It is also the memories.” Sherlock finishes quietly, staring up at the bullet holes in the wall.

“I have deleted many parts of my childhood, so using this is a way to recapture things that might be useful for the present.” Sherlock pulls the blanket off his feet and gets up to stalk past John to the fireplace.

John considers this. Would it be worth it to remember more of his father? Maybe.

“There is a problem with your marvelous experiment Sherlock.” John finally says, after a few minutes of silence.

“The pain is not an issue.” Sherlock turns and leans against the mantle as he watches John. “ Oh, emotional considerations.” He snorts and pulls his blue dressing gown around him.

“Since no one else is going to bring this to your attention then yes!” John shouts. “The rest of us live one moment to the next, and dredging up the past has its own problems. John hears echoes of breaking glass, and Harry’s scream. For a moment his fingers itch.

Sherlock drifts closer. “I don’t practice it that often John. I have my own limits.”

“No you don’t, you idiot. That is why we’re having this conversation.”

Sherlock cocks his head and begins to turn. John reaches out and grabs the edge of his robe. Sherlock stares down, irritated.

John lets go and Sherlock stomps towards the kitchen.

“You’ve missed an important bit of information you know.” John calls after him.

He sees Sherlock stop dead in the archway.

 ‘I don’t miss anything.” Sherlock growls, coming back to loom over John.

“I suppose your mother wasn’t exactly obvious about it, and I can’t say I am surprised, knowing your family.” John snorts.

Sherlock throws himself onto the couch and leans towards John. “Tell me what this ‘missing’ information is.”

“You can unwrap the secrets of time but you can’t do this can you?” John grins at having one over on his friend.

“I have discovered part of the way the universe works yes, but according to another Doctor who was present when I read my essay, I have far to go. Strange man. Wild hair, pinstripe suit, as thin as I am, wore red trainers and smelled like meteor dust.  He sat near the back eating popcorn and exclaiming that I was brilliant as I spoke. Only one to say that besides you. Now, tell me.” Sherlock leans further towards John, grabbing his arm.

“She was trying to tell you that there is more to the world than the academic. Although she might have picked something other than origami, seems a bit backward to give you something like a puzzle.” John shakes his head. “And just what is wrong with who you are now by the way?”

John stares at Sherlock, who feels compelled to look away.

“Nothing. I just need—a different perspective.” Sherlock leans back, releasing John’s arm when he notices he is still holding it.

“I may just be your moral compass, but I am good for other things besides calling you ‘brilliant. You might want to stop scrambling your genetic code and try living in the present for a change. I like having you around—emotionally repressed and height-challenged as you are.” John smirks.

“If anyone needs to be taller it certainly isn’t me!“ Sherlock stops, realizing John is teasing him. “Oh. Yes, well.” Sherlock grins slyly back at John. “When you meet Mummy, don’t pass on this new-found knowledge of the test she gave me will you?”

“Never a word.” John replies “Now, since the fridge smells like decomposing liver, what say we go for some Chinese? Once you’re dressed.”

Sherlock gets up. “Fine. But I cannot promise I won’t reshape myself again, or try it on others. I think Dimmock qualifies as a lab animal.”

“Get. Dressed.” John grinds out, but he is still grinning.

Sherlock dashes up the stairs, briefly wondering what a younger John might have looked like. Tomorrow he will introduce John to quantum loopholes.


A/N: I used the latest issue of New Scientist, and the article on quantum loopholes within it. I am fascinated by all of it, and this is what happens when I read it:P



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
hee, how very odd...and the Doctor too. :)
Mar. 28th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I tried:)
Mar. 28th, 2011 12:13 pm (UTC)
Odd, but fun!
Mar. 28th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
Mar. 28th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
*blushes intensely at the A/N* I'm sure sandrinnad, lurkingwombat, J and T would be there too. *blushes some more* Ahem.

Anyway, I love this! For a second there I thought Sherlock might be Delirium, but quantum physics is even cooler! Love the TenDoc cameo! Thank you! *hugs*
Mar. 28th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
You are most welcome:)

I thought of you first for the apocalypse because of the sword, and the ass-kicking;)

Glad you liked it, the idea was to make you laugh;)
Mar. 28th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Oh and *hugs* Sorry, insomnia *facepalm*
Apr. 3rd, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
BTW, I'm reccing this here.
Apr. 4th, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
Aww, well thanks:) I am still glad you liked it!!
Apr. 15th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was fun to read. Absolutely bonkers but amazing!
Apr. 16th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you, I am glad that the crack made you smile;)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )