chocolamousse: (Sadyna)
[personal profile] chocolamousse
Title: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Category: Romance
Rating: PG-13
Beta: The very lovely [ profile] verityburns
Word count: 1141
Translations into Chinese by Lowtension available here or here. Into Czech by miamam available here.
Summary: Before meeting Sherlock, John had nightmares. After meeting him, he still has. Different ones. Worse ones.

Every time it's the same. I hear his door open, then his step on the stairs. He comes into the living room and everything in him says "Nightmare", from the tension in his shoulders to his slightly lost look. Yet I asked him the question the first time because I wanted to be kind. (He had killed for me a few days before while he hardly knew me, I could make the effort to be kind.)

"Nightmare ?"


"Afghanistan ?"

A faint hesitation. "No."

"The cabbie ?"

A more marked hesitation. "Yes."

He doesn't lie to me. I see right through him and he knows it, he even wrote it in his blog. It's been some weeks now, and the nightmare has returned several times.

He gives me a reassuring smile and says something like, "It's all right. Carry on as if I wasn't here," and I go back to my book, or to my microscope, or to whatever I'm busy with in the middle of the night when I'm not sleeping. He goes to the kitchen and makes himself a cup of tea (he always offers me one), or simply takes a glass of water, then he comes back and sits down. He stays there for a moment. I listen to his breath calming down gradually. I feel a bit sorry for him; he killed this man because of me, even if obviously I would have coped perfectly well if he hadn't been there. He's a doctor and a good man, he shot somebody dead in cold blood and, even if this individual wasn't a very nice man and he was a bloody awful cabbie, it's not surprising that it should affect John more than he's willing to admit.

This time it's different. A moaning which ends in a cry wakes me up with a start and there's so much anguish in his voice that I've already jumped out of my bed and I'm halfway up the stairs in my pyjamas when I realise that John is probably quite fine, that it's this nightmare again. But I still hear his shout in my head and I open his door without hesitation.

He's sitting in the bed, panting, his hands clenched on the blanket. He turns his head towards me and he looks so distraught and vulnerable that I can't help moving forward and sitting down on his bed. He doesn't take his eyes off me. I vaguely feel the desire to touch him, to lay my hand on his shoulder at least, whereas generally I don't like to touch people. It's probably because I feel a little guilty. But I doubt that John would enjoy my touching him, he must be embarrassed enough as it is, and I abstain. I clear my throat to speak but he's quicker.

"Sherlock, I'm..."

I interrupt him. I know exactly what he's going to say.

"John. It's an entirely normal reaction. You killed a man and not being affected would be the abnormal thing. Don't be sorry. I understand."

He remains silent, his gaze still fastened on me. It must be difficult, for a soldier, to acknowledge what he regards as a weakness. Then he relaxes slightly and breathes in deeply.

"Yes. Yes, you're right. It's a normal reaction." He smiles at me kindly. "Thank you."

Good. I assume I can get back to bed now, but I feel oddly reluctant. This is ridiculous, John is all right now and he must want to go back to sleep. Therefore I stand up and give him an encouraging smile.

"Good night, then."

"Good night, Sherlock."

He smiles back. Yes. He's all right. I leave the room and return to my bed. Emotions are not really my area but I think that, this time, I said and did what was required. John will be fine. I know it. I read him so well.


Every time it's the same. I wake up with a start, in a panic, my heart beating wildly, and sometimes, when the distress is too strong, I get out of bed, I open my door and, if I can see light from the living room, I go downstairs. I linger there for a moment, on the pretext of a cup of tea. His quiet presence appeases me.

This time it's different. I must have cried out in my sleep because I suddenly see his silhouette in the doorway but I'm not certain I'm awake. He comes near and sits down on the bed. I'd like to touch him, only to make sure he's really here and to dispel the last remnants of the nightmare, but Sherlock doesn't like to be touched and I don't want him to draw back, so I keep still. I look at him and he seems so close, and all at once, without having really decided it, I open my mouth to tell him my dream because I'm convinced that somehow or other he knows already, but he cuts me short.

"John. It's an entirely normal reaction. You killed a man and not being affected would be the abnormal thing. Don't be sorry. I understand."

I look him straight in the eye and I feel as if I woke up only now. I answer him, I smile, I assure him that everything is fine. He goes away. I follow him with my eyes until the door closes. I lie down, staring into the dark, and I see the images of the nightmare again.

It's always the same. I run along these endless badly-lit corridors and I open door after door, and it's never-ending, there are always other corridors and other doors, as far as I can see, and he's not here, he's never here, and I know that it's a race against the clock, that I must find him before something horrible happens, and there's this voice in my head yelling, "Find him ! Find him NOW !" and, "Where are you ? WHERE ARE YOU ?", but behind every door the room is empty and he's not here, he's never here, and then there is this last door and he's here and I cry his name and horror falls on me.

Sherlock thinks I have this nightmare because I killed the cabbie, he thinks that night after night I kill him again and again. He thinks a dead body haunts my sleep and he's right, but it's not the cabbie's body. I don't give a damn about the cabbie. I'd shoot him down again without hesitation and without remorse if I had to do it again. In my dream I don't kill him, I arrive too late, and the body lying at my feet is Sherlock's, and I can't bear it, I can't bear it.

I can't tell him. He wouldn't understand. I didn't understand at once myself. I can't tell him.

Not yet.

Author's note: This fic is for [ profile] arianedevere. Nine months ago she wrote a story for my birthday then vociferously demanded kindly asked me to write something for her birthday in April. Being a very polite person, I complied. Then, with the assistance of her partner in crime adorable friend [ profile] verityburns, she brandished a big cudgel and pestered me gently suggested that I should post it. Being a very obliging person, I comply. Blame them.

You can read it as a stand-alone or as Nightwatch's prequel.

There is a podfic now, by the wonderful [ profile] verityburns.

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