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Locker Room

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"Back on the asphalt, after an odd, quick glance at each other, Holmes walks towards the locker rooms, and Watson breaks off to go put away his pack and supplies.”
- "Whiteout," Chapter 2


 

After reaching the locker rooms, Holmes shuts the door behind him. His eyes dart around and upwards, as if checking for something on the ceiling or on top of the lockers.

Finally, he lets out a rapid sigh. His shoulders slump a bit, as if a force that was holding him up is suddenly gone.

He walks over to his locker and rapidly turns the lock three times with his long fingers, barely even looking at it.

With a metallic creak, the locker opens. It is spare, nothing personal adorning the interior or inside door. There is one hanger on a metal bar, which holds the light gray suit jacket and buttoned white shirt Holmes arrived in; a pair of sunglasses is clipped to the shirt collar.

At the bottom of the locker lies a leather messenger bag, which Holmes bends down to open. He takes out a dry washcloth, then strides over to a sink to dampen it. He appears to be moving slowly -- stalling, even. The mirror in front of the sink reflects Holmes, carefully and methodically rubbing his cheeks, underneath his eyes, then up to his forehead.

He continues even as, out of sight, the locker room door opens and Holmes hears the sound of footsteps walking in, stopping, then continuing over towards him.

Holmes sees Watson reflected in the mirror, standing behind him and leaning on the edge of one of the lockers.

Holmes, flatly, now rinsing the washcloth and still facing the mirror: “Why did you come with us?”He doesn't give Watson much time to respond before adding, “There are no cameras in here. I checked.”

Watson, looking around with a small smile: “Yeah, I’d think the locker room’d be off limits.”

Holmes turns around to face him; his face is flushed a pale pink from rubbing with the washcloth.

Watson: “I ran into Dom in the kitchen. He told me he went out at dawn to Simplon Pass.”

Holmes walks over to his locker again. He crouches and takes out a plastic bag, wrapping the washcloth in it.

Watson, looking down to Holmes: “So I offered to give him a break so he could sleep in a bit more.”

Holmes, still crouched down: “Did Dominic also happen to mention that I was going on this particular mission?”

Watson gives Holmes a small smile, even though he can’t see it.

Watson, somewhat playful: “No, but I figured they would’ve called you in, since he hadn’t been found the first time.”

Holmes rises and shuts his locker door.

Holmes, somewhat sarcastically: “Excellent deduction, my dear Watson.”

Holmes, turning to face Watson, his face still serious: “But that still doesn't explain your sudden joyriding. I thought you were the one who said we needed to keep things ‘professional’ at work.”

Watson crosses his arms.

Holmes, clearly repeating Watson's words: “You know, ‘we're just colleagues, like everyone else.’”

Watson, rolling his eyes: “And then you proceed to check my harness five million times.”

Holmes, starting to walk away: “Yes, well, you should be bloody glad I did. That waist strap needed some tightening.”

“I can take care of myself, Sherlock!”

A silence follows after Watson's words echo off of the steel lockers. Both of them realize that this is the first time Watson has used Sherlock's first name in conversation today, perhaps even the first time he's ever said it at the base.

His back still towards Watson, Sherlock slowly moves toward a wooden bench between the rows of lockers. He sits down, slumping forward to rest his elbows on his knees.

Sherlock, quietly: “I...I know you can, John. I just wanted to make sure you were safe.”

John’s face falls, and he moves to sit down on the bench next to Sherlock, close enough that their shoulders brush. At that, Sherlock sits up and rests his head on John’s shoulder.

John: “I know, darling.”

Sherlock doesn’t respond, but he continues to stare into the middle distance. John leans down until his head is in Sherlock’s lap.

John: “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

They lie there for a few seconds, Sherlock seemingly lost in thought, though he begins absentmindedly ruffling John’s hair. At this, John sighs and closes his eyes eyes contentedly.

Sherlock, muttering: “I suppose I’m just frustrated because I was otherwise completely useless on that trip...too much damn fog.” A few seconds’ pause, then Sherlock gives a small smile. “You, on the other hand…”

John, shifting his head to look up at him: “Me?”

Sherlock, seriously, looking down to meet John's eyes: “Yes. When you brought up that woman from Solvay Hut. I suppose I’ve never really seen you work on someone like that.”

John smiles at that, but Sherlock keeps going. He uses his thumb to brush a few stray hairs out of John’s face.

Sherlock: “You kept her calm, even though she had no logical reason to be. It was like watching a classical musician -- your earnestness and passion was so clear, yet at the same time, you made it look so easy. Honestly, you were brilliant.”

John chuckles a bit.

John, after a raised eyebrow from Sherlock: “People don't usually tell me how brilliant I am when I rescue them.”

Sherlock, quizzically: “What do they usually say?”

Watson, grinning: “Nothing, because they're comatose or in shock.”

Sherlock: “Right.”

Lying on his back, looking up at Sherlock, John reaches up and finds the zipper on Sherlock's uniform, right underneath his pale throat.

Slowly, John pulls the zipper down, feeling the warmth emanating from Sherlock's skin as he reveals his white undershirt, damp with sweat, beneath his uniform. A small intake of breath as his fingers reach Sherlock's waist.

John, softly: “Come to think of it...you’re usually comatose after I’ve worked on you.”

Sherlock smiles wryly in spite of himself.

Sherlock, eyebrow raised: “John, I said there were no cameras, but people could still come walking in.”

John: “Well...let’s go somewhere they won’t.”

Sherlock, almost too quickly, as if he’d already been thinking about it the moment John’s fingers reached his waist: “The laundry. There’s a locked storage closet.”

John, returning Sherlock’s gaze: “I should have a key.”