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Another Word for Sucker: Superlock AU

Based on the SPN episode, "What Is and What Should Never Be". Might not make much sense without seeing that first.

Chapter 1: Another Word for Sucker

Sherlok never thought of his life as a fairy-tale. Neither did John. In fact, the man took it upon himself to keep Sherlock's life grounded. John would remind him to be careful and take care of himself. But also to wash the dishes, bin the biohazards, and be polite.

Sherlock ignored those instructions, but appreciated the effort. That was how their friendship worked. John handled boring necessities, and Sherlock kept life interesting for the both of them. Sherlock broke things, John fixed them.

John wore long-sleeved jumpers and wrapped himself in layers, and owned a pot of tattoo concealer. He also had a gunshot wound, though Sherlock hadn't had a chance to inspect it yet. He had a feeling John would let him see it if he'd asked, but given that they were living together, there was no rush.

Life was comfortable, but not perfect. Sherlock made countless mistakes that made John shout at him. The shouting became more frequent over time, as the boundaries tightened on what John found acceptable. Rather than cross the line, Sherlock watched the line cross him, and wondered why John expected better.

Aware but irreverant of the changing rules, Sherlock stood his ground. There came a point, however, that his bedrock began to fracture. It started when John kissed him, in the middle of an argument.

The most intimate thing about the kiss wasn't the press of lips, it was John pulling him forward with gentle firmness, as if afraid Sherlock would pull away. His hand had been so warm it nearly burned, but there was no sign of a tremor.

Despite his inexperience, Sherlock knew it was unusual for John to have his eyes open the entire time. Far from being a problem, the intensity of his stare was rather flattering. Much more troubling to Sherlock was that his own eyes had closed. The moment before they did, though, a shift of John's sleeve revealed a bizarre tattoo.

John was still there when Sherlock opened his eyes again. The touch had lingered, but eventually John pulled away. He treated Sherlock differently after that, became vastly more accomodating. From that one touch (two touches? The hand seemed so significant) the tension between them had softened into something else entirely.

Life was different after that. Undeniably it was sentiment, but everything seemed new, improved. The realm of possibilities had expanded, deductions were fueled by more and more improbable leaps of lofic; a brightness had suffused Sherlock's life, through the light-conducting John Watson.

Sherlock was entirely capable of taking his clothes off, but the unspoken rules of growing intimacy meant that John was undressing him slowly, as Sherlock returned the favor. It was what people did, wasn't it? Take care of each other in objectively insignificant ways? But significance had grown to span the gulf between them like a spider's web: slowly, naturally, and with unexpected strength.

They were in front of the fireplace, regardless of cliche's when Sherlock tasted John's scar. It didn't taste right. The taste was a cacophany of words like loyal and dangerous and John, and that wasn't possible. The experience left Sherlock unsettled for days. Practically unmoored from his new, bright reality. It was impossible that John's scar tasted like words, and yet it did. How?

One sour note, just discordant enough to spoil everything. He could ignore John's disappearing tattoos, his own convenient lack of hunger and fatigue, and even the fact that London hadn't seen a drop of rain in a long, long time, but Sherlock couldn't bear the fact that his thoughts had clearly stopped being his own; it was a mutiny, a madness that didn't come from a needle, and it was singularly intolerable. If Sherlock had wanted to go insane, he'd have done it himself.

The mind palace was empty of people when Sherlock decided to visit it. Mycroft, as tall and imposing as he'd seemed in Sherlock's childhood, was missing from their parents' kitchen. Molly was absent from the morgue. Even John was gone from his place in imaginary Baker Street. Unbidden, a line of reasoning formed: They've all gone home. Re-emerging to whatever passed for reality, Sherlock heard the door to the flat open, but didn't see John enter, from his sprawl on the couch. Was John missing from the palace because he was here, in the flat? No, that John was imaginary.

John, real John, approached the couch to say something, but whatever had been on Sherlock's face must have changed his mind. Sherlock mentally scolded himself for letting the expression slip, the one old-real-John (pre-kiss-John?) used to say wasn't appropriate to turn on widows or children; the face that said 'you're full of secrets, and I'd gladly skin you alive to find them.' New-real-John didn't care when he used it on other people, but apparently took it being turned his way as a sign that Sherlock wasn't in the mood to hear about his day.

Chapter 2: Through the Eyes of Morpheus

John Watson, thankfully, had a backup plan. He'd hoped not to have to use it, he'd hoped he could keep up the charade of humanity a little longer, maybe long enough that Sherlock could eventually be trusted with the whole Djinn thing. It was practically a shock when John realized Sherlock didn't have even a passing interest-- or even a belief-- in the supernatural. Of course, he hadn't expected the man to be a hunter or anything. Quite the opposite.

John was somewhat embarrased, looking back, but he'd assumed that maybe some ancestor of the Holmeses had got a little bit too familiar with... something. When he'd asked Sherlock if he ever got a certain kind of undefinable hunch about what someone was about to do-- the hallmark of a recessive telepath-- Sherlock gave him such a withering look that he didn't bother asking any more questions about it.

John had done his best with 'plan A', had suffused himself into Sherlock's life deeply enough that it would be hard for the git to reject John even if he'd grown devil horns and a spade-tip tail. Cleaning the flat, paying the bills, re-arranging his own life to fit exactly what was necessary to keep Sherlock alive. Enabling, supporting, protecting, but always with the guise of a 'human' type of empathy. The kind Sherlock ironically claimed to lack. Sherlock had called John a conductor of light, the carefully laid plan had looked almost impossible to stop...

But then the bastard had to go and experement on him, and that just wasn't on. Sherlock took John's anger over the attempted drugging at face value-- betrayal, embarrasment over PTSD, the violation of rather a lot of laws. Sherlock may have thought the revenge would be limited to either a physical fight or a permenant seperation, but what he didn't know was that he'd gone and ruined what could have been the best gift a scientist could have asked for, he'd ruined his chance at discovery, and the smug satisfaction of knowing something nobody else knew. John had been working up the courage to share his secret, but Sherlock had nearly stole it before he was ready.

It hadn't been a shotgun and a salt shaker, but it sent the alarm bells ringing all the same. Not all hunters do it for the meat or the fur. Some of them-- John remembered some blurry scene he saw from a broken window-- some of them catch owls just to mark them with some kind of device, and then set them free. And when those birds went home, the... scientist, would use the device to track down the nest, and move it somewhere else. Dozens of owls, one year, when he was small. Nobody ever asked if they'd wanted the nests moved.

Sherlock wasn't a hunter, but he was a scientist, and had to be... delt with.

It was so easy, watching him succumb. A bit satisfying, really. Like one of those undercover-style TV shows where someone takes off a costume to reveal they're the one in charge. John was quite proud of his 'kiss of death' method, it was a lot less trouble than trying to attack someone like a rabid dog.

Other Djinns had told him the trick was a bit tacky, but he had a feeling what they meant was that it wasn't fair. As if life was some big Aesop with a lesson at the end like don't be rude nosy, Sherlock, but if the self-declared only consulting detective in the world couldn't pick up on the plot than it wasn't really very good at teaching, was it; no, this was the only way this could have ended, he knew it from the start in the itch below his skin--

The long sleeves of his jumper mostly hid the shine of John's tattoos as they spread up his arm, but at the last moment, Sherlock seemed to notice the ones climbing John's wrist once they'd gotten to be an inch from his eyeball. Bully for him, thought John, but Sherlock still fell unconsious like a stack of bricks a second later.

Chapter 3: Morpheus and the Back-Pain caused by Concrete

John could hardly stand it. The it, of course, being the process of setting up a lair. Lairs were not turn-key investment properties, no, they took time, effort, and risk, to convert from a sheetmetal eyesore into painstakingly maintained living spaces-- of the kind that certain other people just loved to burn down.

That was why he'd left his parents' lair as a teenager. Well, that and the fact that there was no easy way to invite someone to meet his parents at the falling-apart silo an hour's walk from the edge of town. Between the fire and that Harry managed to catch a hunter (a bit like kicking a hornet's nest), it was bizarre to be sleeping on a stone cold floor again.

John's phone blinked 5:00.

A weak moan drifted from the distance, echoing from the emptiness of the place. John sighed and unzipped his sleeping bag, cursing as just about every joint popped as he made his way to his feet. Keeping Sherlock alive in the warehouse was distressingly almost as labor-intensive as it had been to keep him alive outside of it.

It was an awkward realization to have, made even more awkward by the fact that Sherlock kept waking up, and generally having an immediate negative reaction to his new lifestyle; namely that he was always bound in some way or another, that he could hardly stay awake for more than a few minutes, and that his flatmate and best friend was alarmingly un-alarmed and had no intentions of freeing him.

John had considered it, though. Freeing him, maybe with the stipulation that the freedom was part-time and supervised, or something. But then John would look over the lid of his laptop to see Sherlock alseep on whatever surface was next in the rotation, slack and defenseless and unquestionably safe, and it just seemed cruel to let him go.

The very first time Sherlock woke, two and a half days after the kiss, he'd been hanging upright.

It was the traditional way John was taught to store humans, at least for ones who were meant to last a long time. Bed sores were annoying to deal with and prone to infection, so vertically suspending the unconsious body of someone taller than him felt as natural as tying shoelaces. Harry used to tie them too tight, like she thought they could run away, and the binding welts would defeat the purpose and make the whole silo smell bad.

So he did care, and he knew what he was doing, clearly. Obviously. He was taking the best care he could. It wouldn't have been an empty boast to say that John thought he could keep Sherlock alive for months or even a year like this. He was being careful. Painfully careful. Self-destructively careful.

Imagine the shock, then, when instead of a coherent call for help when Sherlock awoke, John only heard quiet, slurred, counting.

Now, John had had his crisis-of-species-morality in early childhood. He'd gotten through the hard facts of his lot in life, and took, if not pride, at least some comfort in the fact that he had enough morals to recognize that it was a dark one. That was the way it worked. If you were humanoid-enough to doubt your actions, you were humanoid enough to be something more than a monster.

The searing panic that he might have broken the man in just two days was thankfully cooled by the realization that that was an incredibly short time for him to have both realized it was a simulation and find the correct way out.

Chapter 4: The Deadly Sins as Explained By a Man falling at Terminal Velocity

Suicide is a sin. Sherlock remembered that as he fell past the 5th and 4th floors.

Why that fact should occur to him in his last moments was a bit of a mystery, given that he'd never been particularly religious.

He had much to think about, but his elevation was dropping quickly, most of the time. How many seconds had it been?

He wanted to count his fingers again. He couldn't remember how many there should be, but still trusted his mind enough to decide he'd just know if the number was off. The physics of falling prevented him from getting his hands into a good position. The physics of falling seemed awfully selective about when to apply themselves lately.

He'd gone past quite a few more floors than reasonably possible. More than the building had, in any case. Maybe he'd fall forever? The wind was burning his face, but other than that, it was a decent experience. No one had ever been killed by falling, after all. He frowned. That wasn't right. There were plenty of ways one could-

Suicide is a sin, screamed some memory he'd tried too many times to delete. Unbidden, images bobbed to the top of his consiousness, some of them bodies, some of them tools.

Suicide is a sin, he'd agreed begrugingly at the time, knowing the last thing he'd wanted was to be put on some kind of mental health watch. When was that? The time surrounding that agreement had been boiled away by sheer will. Deleted. From an estimation of his own eye level though, he'd been... he'd been... the numbers weren't coming together the way they should. Right. That was why he'd had to-

He still hadn't hit the ground yet, he should have hit it by now. The air wasn't burning any more, though, in fact he couldn't hear the air at all.

He was hanging motionless, in a large building. He gathered as much without moving a muscle.

Suicide is a sin, said the memory, annoyingly crisp in its voice. A serious crime too, it added.

"'N the punishment... s' death," Sherlock said thickly, opening his eyes with some effort. He obviously wasn't in a noose, but couldn't see the method of his suspension. Neither of his feet could reach the floor, though the concrete eventually came into a hazy focus.

His coat was missing, but he spotted it on the floor a little ways away from him. Too far to reach, in any case. He'd been wearing it when he fell.

Instead of trying to move his arms, Sherlock managed to lean his head far enough to count his fingers that way. The number was... staying the same each time he counted, which was good, but other than that it just seemed wrong. Counting in and of itself was exhausting, but he had to stay awake.


He didn't realize he was muttering until familiar footsteps interrupted him.

He must have looked a sight, hanging from his armpits, counting his fingers, missing his coat, not to mention his mind.

John was going to fix him. Fix this. "Sherlock."

Sherlock kept counting. ""

Something waved in front of his face, and only with some detached embarrasement did Sherlock recognize it as his other hand. John waved it past him by the wrist. Sherlock made every effort to track its movement, but it was too fast. John, behind the hand he was slinging about, looked... furious. Sherlock was unsure why, but pretty sure he was involved. "I-- I-- ten-- I," he began.

The rest of his sounds were scattered like pieces of typeface on the floor of a printing house. He scrabbled to find them, but of the words he had-- fall-- dream-- kiss-- palace-- empty-- sin-- none of them were helpful. The vast majority of his usually-impressive intellect was focused on staying awake.

John interrupted his attempt at speech. "You took the once chance, the one chance, Sherlock, that I gave you, at a safe life. And you went and wasted it. Looked a gift horse in the mouth and counted its teeth."

Sherlock felt like a child, being punished for something no one felt like explaining. "Sorry?" he offered, unsure what most of John's words had meant. He was fine, he hadn't died-- somehow-- why would John be upset?

John's expression softened. "Well, at least it wasn't the real thing, not this time anyway."

Some weeks had passed in Sherlock's absence, though far less time than in the world that Sherlock had dreamed of. John was wearing an old tee-shirt, for the sake of the summer heat. His tattoos were... enormous, covering his left arm in a spectacular maze of blue.

John reached up to touch the side of Sherlock's face, and a lightbulb went off in Sherlock's head. The idea was vague but important, enough that he jerked away, clumsily trying to avoid the touch.

"No, no, none of that," John said, using his right hand to hold Sherlock's head in place, while his left arm grew tattoos.

Sherlock tried once more to escape, an aborted thrash that lacked anything approaching coordination, but instead felt horror prickle up his spine as John's too-warm left hand was gently laid against his face. No. No.

He blinked. Gravity, having remembered its manners, was pulling Sherlock towards the Earth with terrifying speed.

As if by magic, before he could hit the ground, Sherlock was pulled back towards a window, shattering the glass as he fell into the building.

He'd managed to fake his own death. He was going to live.