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Webs and Glass

Title: Webs and Glass
Author: ciaranbochna 
Sherlock, John
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the world.
Length:  1560 words
Rating:  PG
Summary: John uses his gift for family or close friends.
A/N: This story is in honour of  mad_teagirl   as a belated birthday present. I hope you like it:) Beta'd by the lovely suchaprince 

John uses his gift for family or close friends. Friends are close enough to family anyway. Most people he meets are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, and his aunt had warned him against stretching himself too thin.

Sherlock is the most reckless person he has ever met. Even Mycroft cannot always keep tabs on Sherlock, so John knows that he has no choice.

It doesn’t take him more than a week at the most to find the pieces of people he needs to pull together. Some people will never know each other as intimately as John will in just a few days, but he doesn’t need to touch them, or even be in the same room to create a web.

He calls it a web, but it doesn’t look like one. By the time John has finished pulling all the important parts of his protection together it will be as much a part of Sherlock as his own skin, even if he will never see it. And it can never be undone.

When he begins on Monday John stops seeing Sherlock as everyone else does. He is looking for the indelible marks; things that Sherlock might deny are even a part of him. John watches the constant twitch of Sherlock’s fingers, the way his skin vibrates even when he is sitting still. John sees the imprint of a lifetime of tea and coffee cups around Sherlock’s eyes, trailing down his neck—he has his first piece of the web.

John tastes the metal edge of caffeine as he presses the edge of the first image against Sherlock’s collarbone. Sherlock twitches in his chair, and looks around the sitting room, but John isn’t looking at him as he works. His eyes are on his laptop as he pushes the energy into fixing the first piece of Sherlock’s web. If John abandons it now, it would fade and fall away, and Sherlock would carry on as he always has.

John grabs the edge of the tea/coffee/caffeine image and tucks the hush of a snowstorm beneath it—a little piece for someone who cannot find it himself.

On Tuesday, as Sherlock fights sleep (almost crushing his microscope he is staring into), John weaves a silk rope into Sherlock’s ribs. He pulls the other symbols together and fuses them into the energy that Sherlock throws off in waves. Silk rope for self-preservation, to hold in Sherlock’s dance of madness. Sherlock jerks away from the microscope, as if denying John’s work.

Sherlock looks over at John. He is sitting in his chair reading the paper.


John lowers the paper and turns around to stare at Sherlock. “Hmm?”

“Nothing.” Sherlock frowns.

On Wednesday John adds a summer sky with stars like those Sherlock saw in the alley. A little wonder is never out of place. John is halfway through.

On Thursday Sherlock is far too observant.

“John? Are you having nightmares again? You look…” Sherlock puts down his coffee and leans in, stretching a finger to John’s cheek.

John leans away, hands braced on the table. He looks down and sees the tips of his fingers are almost transparent. Damn, he’s creating too fast. His aunt was right; John never knew when to pull back. But he cannot stop. Everything will break if he does.

“Fine. Long days at the clinic lately.” John puts his hands on his lap, out of sight.

Sherlock doesn’t believe him, but lets it go. It doesn’t matter, another few days and John will be done.

John tries to eat more, to compensate for the energy he is expending on Sherlock. He doesn’t always remember. On Sunday he realizes he last ate Friday morning. His focus narrows to one thought. Finish the web.

That night John listens to Sherlock’s insomnia, note by note. He takes a breath and tastes amber, rosin, fire, anguish, and frustration. John twists his fingers in the air above him and moulds the shape of a violin. He can see the varnish as he drags the next piece under the nape of Sherlock’s neck, where he holds the violin as he plays.

John stops breathing for a moment, hears Sherlock’s music pause, then resume. John’s hands drop back onto the mattress, sinking into the coils. No, his hands are gone, they end at the wrist. His aunt had always told him he was stubborn, and John never listened to her. John concentrates, remembers every line and scar from his fingertips to his palm. The sheets scratch under the edge of his thumbs. They are back. He breathes, finally.

On Monday Sherlock catches John again.

“John, is your hair lighter? And your eye colour is almost…”

John sighs and puts down his toast. “Do I look like someone who uses hair colour Sherlock?” John turns away, toast forgotten. He can see the memory of Sherlock and Mycroft fighting about Sherlock’s weight screening over Sherlock’s cheek. John doesn’t remember the taste of the jelly he put on the bread.

On Wednesday John prepares to anchor the last part of Sherlock’s web. There is an empty space on Sherlock’s back, over his heart. John has noticed Sherlock eating almost every day, a puzzled look on his face as he actually eats the food on his plate rather that toy with it. Sherlock is still asking after John, he knows something is off.

John notices he has lost part of his scar during the night. There is an empty space next to the knotted tissue. No skin, just empty, another bit of transparency. There is one more piece in Sherlock’s web, nothing else matters.

John keeps his hands in his pockets as much as he can—they are more than half transparent now.

John keeps Mycroft’s smile tucked away as he watches them on Wed night. Well, John thinks the twitch might be a smile. Mycroft was pleased Sherlock slept though the night. John will add Mycroft’s smile and Sherlock’s eyeroll in return. It was almost fond. Exasperated as only family can make you.

Thursday there is another question from Sherlock.

“You’ve cut your hair John. Don’t deny it this time.” Sherlock is too close to John as they pass Tesco’s. John shrugs, using the movement to put distance between them.

“Maybe I have a date later.” And maybe he is fading faster than he realizes. His voice is as ghostly as the rest of him. Everything he touches is soft now, farther away.

“No. You're not sleeping, you’re pale, you hide your hands, the new haircut--although I am not sure it is cut- and you are avoiding me. John, you're focused on a task to the exclusion of all else. What is it?” Sherlock stops dead on the sidewalk. People break against him, missing touching him by inches.

Perhaps John put a little too much effort into the self-preservation piece. Too much into all of it.

John blinks, realizing Sherlock has grabbed his upper arms. Sherlock’s nose is inches from John’s face. He barely feels the indent of Sherlock’s fingers, smells the wisp of coffee on his breath.

“Don’t worry about it Sherlock. Didn’t Lestrade text you a new case?” John moves back, keeping his fingers in his pockets.

Sherlock opens his mouth to protest. His phone rings.

John sighs and follows the rapidly disappearing detective through the crowd. He will finish tonight. He has enough energy for that.

John hears his aunt’s weary voice as he walks. He pulls each step from a well inside him.

“So thin John. You must watch your edges.” But she never watched hers either, John remembers. A family trait.

When John makes it to the flat Sherlock tells John he will be at the morgue all night and wants John to join him. Probably to keep his eye on me, John thinks. He begs off.

“Rest, John. You seem..less than normal. I promise to bring you a slide of subcutaneous fat when I return.” Sherlock’s delighted grin draws a weak smile out of John.

John watches the scarf trail Sherlock out the door, and he closes it behind his friend.
He sits on the floor in front of the fire grate. It is now early Friday morning. Sherlock will return soon. He barely feels the wood under his knees now.

John sees the stars, the snow, notes on fire, silk rope, tang of tannin leaves, Mycroft’s smile and Sherlock’s answer. John pulls the edges of each piece together, folding one into another until Sherlock’s web is one unbroken piece, no seams or holes. He feels a little of himself folded into the web, and stops breathing again.

John opens his eyes against the weight of too many memories. He is only a shadowed outline now, soon to be wiped away. John is exhausted.

He watches the fire grate, hearing Sherlock’s violin burning through his limbs. He compresses everything he is, everything he remembers, into the fireplace, holding to the iron claws of the grate. He stretches though the brick, through the walls, and floor, enveloping the flat as he reaches.

He remembers the smell of his aunt’s orchard. The smell of pears woven into her skin. He feels himself snap, and his hold on the grate is gone. He has done all he can.

The door slams open.

“John!” Sherlock spins in the centre of the room; closing his eyes as he drowns in the smell of sun and pears.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness - this is lovely and poetic and finally, so sad!
Jun. 23rd, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Oh I am thilled you liked it, thank you:)
Jun. 23rd, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
Oh! Oh, my, this is lovely and strange and beautiful! I gasped at the end in dismay! *pout* Dangit. I am going to stubbornly imagine John fading back in, returning, in my own head.

Such lovely ficcery. Wonderful.
Jun. 23rd, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Sorry about that, it just wouldn't end on a happy note(and imagine away;) Thank you for reading:)
Jun. 23rd, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
That was amazing. Lovely and a bit sad.

(btw, you miswrote in that last line- 'eyes are he drowns,' I think you meant as not are.)
Jun. 23rd, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you. *blushes*

I did indeed mean "as" thank you!
Jun. 25th, 2011 09:34 am (UTC)
Curses at the "are" instead of "as", I've proven my uselessness as a beta! But I think I'm just gonna blame it on how heartbreakingly gorgeous the ending of this is and just say that my just brain wasn't processing words correctly anymore after that.
Jun. 25th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
Oh no worries, everyone in this community is very helpful, and nothing like my university writing classes..lol

Aww, ty;)
Jun. 23rd, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)

This is... this is beautiful, it's just, oh my god, it's beautiful, I don't even... and I can't believe this is for me, it's so lovely!!!

I can't even cope with how wonderful this is. It's just... oh lord my words, where have they went? I feel like reading this is like listening to a violin - it's beautiful and heartbreaking and oh there go the words again. Come back words! I need you!

I love how you write John, I've probably told you that before, but I LOVE your John so much. I have a tendency to base Sherlock related things on whether or not John is done justice and he is just so amazing when you write him. And Sherlock's concern when he notices that John is starting to fade! I just, oh god I have too many feelings right now!

Thank you so much! I love it more then I quite obviously have words for

And holy cow, I am sort of embarrassed that it took me this long to see that you posted this. Because it is BRILLIANT
Jun. 24th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
I am thrilled that you loved it that much! I was starting to worry when you hadn't posted..lol

Jun. 24th, 2011 06:50 am (UTC)
Of course I loved it!! How could I not? It's beautiful!

I was just unfortunately no where near my computer for a lot of today, hence why it took me so long.

But good lord, I'm still so overwhelmed by the fact that you did this. I love you, seriously, I love you.
Jun. 25th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
Oh, well thank you:) I am happy you did! You are not the only one who is a little overwhelmed...lol
Jun. 25th, 2011 09:00 am (UTC)
I am seriously regretting that you don't live up the street or something. Because if you did I would make you a cake or something, unless you don't like cake, in which case I would make you pie.

I am still fluttering my hands at my misty eyes about this. So beautiful. It has such a kindred feeling to "By Proxy" which I can only assume was done on purpose?
Jun. 25th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Mmm pie. I have a Dean-worthy weakness for pie..lol And cake(especially dark chocolate or German black forest), and all things sweet;)

The tone wasn't truly on purpose, but considering it is a faerietale, I suppose it makes sense.

If I make it down south again I will take you up on your offer:)
Jun. 24th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
Oh...thank you so much!
Jun. 24th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous images and such a wistful feel!
Jun. 25th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
I am amazed you think so, thank you!
Jul. 4th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
Dude. You. Wow.

Poetry, and magical realism, and fantasy, and them, John spending his whole self to protect Sherlock without him even knowing, just wow.
Jul. 4th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Err...thank you. *blushing*
Aug. 5th, 2011 05:23 am (UTC)
BTW, I'm reeeeeeeecing thiiiiiiis! Here!
Aug. 7th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderful bit of world- and character-building. So pretty and sad. Somewhere in my head, John faded back in. It just took three years.
Aug. 8th, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it so much:) And you can certainly add a happier ending;)
Feb. 28th, 2012 07:33 am (UTC)
Re: Webs and Glass
This is beautiful, though sad.

I wish John had not used himself up so, but the last image (I don't know a correct word to express that for a scent) is lovely as well as sad.

Ironic - and fitting, come to that - that John concentrated too much on the self-preservation piece...
Feb. 29th, 2012 05:03 am (UTC)
Re: Webs and Glass
Thank you so much, I am glad you enjoyed it! I did think that spinning himself out completely was something John would do:)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )