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Just Human
Sherlock: dear diaries are stupid

Title: Just Human
Wordcount: 5013
Notes: Sherlock one-shot. This was very much one of those ideas that hits you when you're smack in the middle of something else and won't let go til it's written.

Sherlock is born at the stroke of midnight. The next day, the papers will report shooting stars, comets of record beauty and brightness, cold blue-white fires streaking across the sky over London, seen as far away as New York and Moscow.

It is a freezing New Year's Day in London, temperatures have plummeted overnight and the world is icy, glittering. Newborn, nameless, Sherlock curls up on the hard ground like a sleeping child, his new eyes open to the stars, one hand closed in a fist over his heart.

He is found within minutes. They knew he was coming, although they hardly guessed at the manner and the method. They were warned. Within seconds of his birth, they are searching the city for him, dozens of their people tracking through the first few frost-spun minutes of the new millennium, searching for the signal, the fallen star.

The man who finds him first is called Mycroft Holmes. During the first few difficult days he is the one constant Sherlock can identify; there are faces and tests and names and faces and rooms and more rooms and more tests, but the man called Mycroft is almost always there, on the periphery, in the background. Sherlock isn't sure whether to hate him or grab at him like a lifebelt, but he is sure that Mycroft is by far the most intelligent man among these people, almost, perhaps, as intelligent as Sherlock himself. He doesn't patronise Sherlock and he doesn't appear afraid of him, either. When they talk, Sherlock feels nearly sane.

People come and go, mainly doctors. They are professional and very kind, they prod and poke and ask questions in cheerful, guarded voices and start to write his answers down before he has finished saying them. He decides that he hates doctors, too.

As the days go by, something becomes very clear; these people have no idea what to do with him. Their minds don't work like his. His mind is a supernova, a bright, blinding, racing thing crying out to be used, to be challenged, a million-mile-an-hour machine with a terrible emptiness where there should have been a name, a world, a life. Their minds are small, dull things, unbearably slow, they see but they don't think, they know everything that he doesn't but they acquire new knowledge so, so slowly, and he, so fast. Mycroft asks him to be patient with them and he tries but he can't, he can't bear it, no more than he can bear to be confined in these small white rooms day after day or submit to more of their pointless tests. More and more, he demands answers. What they won't tell him he learns to work out for himself, reading the wheres and the whys and the hows in their clothes, in their faces, in their actions. When they realise what he's doing they try to keep him busy, they give him materials, books, a computer, and he reads voraciously, learning, filling up the blank hard drive of his mind with data. By their standards he is brilliant, a genius- but still, as they explain to him one day, human.

They finally tell him what they know, not because they want to, he knows that, but because they realise he will find out anyway.

They don't know who he is or where he comes from. They know, their tests have told them, that he is human, for all his intelligence, for all his strangeness, just human. They know that a friend- an old friend- told them he would arrive, told them to keep him safe. It's vitally important, they say. They just don't know why. He's just human.


Three of them, three boring old men with sagging faces and white coats, they lay the facts out in front of him and then stand back, and he can feel their fear, it's in their glances at each other, at him, they watch him like he's a stroppy child just told of the loss of a favourite toy, waiting for the storm of rage and grief.

He listens to them in silence, his fist held absently to his heart.

Then he takes control. It's something that he turns out to be very good at- like his ability to read people, like most of the things that he will eventually discover about himself, it's just there, whole, waiting to be remembered, like opening a well-loved book rediscovered in a dusty attic. He points out how well he has absorbed the data they have given him, about them, about him, about their world. He tells them what he has read in them that they haven't told him- this upsets them more than he intended but it still serves to prove his point. He can do them now, he tells them. Act like them, be like them. He can do normal. He has very little interest in the world they have shown him so far but it's better than this, than faces and rooms and tests and doctors and those scared sidelong looks. He has privately decided that it's OK for people to be scared of him, but he'd prefer it if they didn't know exactly why they were scared. That means surrounding himself with different people.

The seven million or so living directly outside the walls of this place ought to do nicely.

They agree. It takes another age of boredom and tests, but eventually Mycroft comes, and tells him that they have a life for him.

It is simply done. A few false memories, a few fast-tracked papers, a few extra zeroes in the bank accounts of the right people, and Sherlock Holmes enters the world. Mycroft Holmes has no family and no close friends, and his work by its very nature dissuades the awkward type of questions. Sherlock is easy to create, Holmes the younger, wild and ungovernable at twenty-four, back from a less-than-conventional post-uni grand tour and slumming it in London under his big brother's watchful eye.

Their people help him into his new life. He is glad to be rid of them, finds their presence difficult to bear. It's not the fear- that, at least, is personal. It's the concern that isn't for him, the blind loyalty that doesn't belong to him, the unquestioning faith that he did not inspire.

You see, they owe an old friend a favour.

It is still dark on the morning he leaves them, snowing, as cold as the day he was born. Sherlock walks across a bridge that he now knows is named after this city and glories in being outside, in being free, in being alone. He knows that they're still watching him and that they probably always will be, but he doesn't care, as long as they leave him to his own devices and stay far, far away from his new life. He swears to himself, face upturned to the dark, snow-heavy sky, fists bunched deeply in his pockets, that he will never accept what they told him.

He will never, ever be just human.




Time passes.

Sherlock throws himself into his new life. He makes up for the twenty-odd years that he now regards as 'lost' with a fierce dedication to acquiring new knowledge, new skills. He does not rest on the things that come easily to him, those half-remembered things that are just there- his innate sense of direction, for instance, or his ability to step into a role, or the way he can read people, instinctively sees the measure of them, knows what makes them tick- but instead uses these things as building blocks for a new direction that quickly becomes an absolute obsession. He studies anything and everything that he deems of use; criminology, chemistry, psychology, law, languages, forensics, mathematics, digital sciences, anatomy, cryptography, self-defence, geology, biology, anything, everything. He creates the idea of a 'consulting detective' and buries himself in the work. It's the only way to drive off the boredom, the frustration, the burning dreams.

It becomes more than a mere obsession. It becomes who he is. He travels the world from case to case, but he always comes back to London eventually. After all, it's where he was born.

His hands are empty these days, and if there's a weight over his heart, he doesn't feel it.

There are things that don't interest him. He quickly realises that the storage space inside his mind is limited, and it would be madness to stuff it with information that has no bearing on his work. He constantly streamlines his knowledge base, deletes the unwanted, the unnecessary. He's not interested in TV or fiction or philosophy. He doesn't care about politics or the environment or popular music. Astronomy actually makes him angry; that so many people can devote so much brainpower and so much time to something so pointless irritates and baffles him.

It is possible that he remembers, in some small still space in his mind, a freezing cold London morning and a sky full of taunting, hopelessly-distant stars.

By the time he is twenty-eight the police are beginning to come to him for help. The first time he meets the then-DC Lestrade, the man has him arrested- not to prove a point or demonstrate his power, but so he can slow Sherlock down for five seconds and put him in a room and talk to him. Sherlock, with his hatred of being confined and questioned, does not appreciate the method, but he does appreciate the calm common sense behind it. Common sense, Sherlock has learned, is anything but common.

He keeps his word to them, his promise that he will not attract too much attention to himself. It suits him anyway. He dislikes the limelight, distrusts the capricious, unfocused eye of public praise, enjoys turning it aside and watching it fall on some undeserving official. He enjoys watching them squirm. Other than this he finds no pleasure in the aftermath, hating to sit still, always itching to move on to bigger things, better things.

His opinion of humanity has not improved. He feels no attachment to this everyday world, to this limited humdrum sphere in which normal people live. Compared to him they are appallingly stupid, slow, ludicrously constrained by the ties of their small, boring lives. Surrounded by their petty little problems he feels trapped, grounded, drowning. He helps them but (despite the lie he told them, all those years ago,) he cannot, will not, be like them.

This creates the occasional obstacle. He is tossed unceremoniously out of yet another flat after his landlord objects to finding a human skull in the laundry cupboard. It's only a token reason- the man is itching for an excuse to get rid of him after nearly a year of mess, damage, odours, blocked drains, explosions, gunfire, exits and entrances through the back window, callers at all hours of the day and night, bits of people all over the place, police thundering up and down the stairs and Bartók's Sonata for Solo Violin at three o'clock in the morning.

Sherlock takes it in his stride, although he's extremely annoyed about the loss of his skull, binned by the ex-landlord before he can save it. Refusing any suggestion of help from Mycroft and them, in half a day he's called in a favour and found a new flat, a nice place in Central London with a far more accommodating landlady. Whatever-her-name-is in the mortuary finds him a new skull, and a couple of weeks later, Mike Stamford finds him a new flatmate.

He nearly rejects John Watson out of hand. The moment the man walks into the lab at Barts, Sherlock sees right through him, knows exactly why Mike has brought him here. He sees that John is ordinary, cautious, burdened, a doctor, and his hackles go up at once. He is not disposed to be kind.

He gives it a go anyway, because he really does need a flatmate, and because John lends him his phone when he needs one, and because he likes the little ripple of shock that breaks up John's guarded face when Sherlock pauses in the doorway and tells him- on a minute's acquaintance- far more than he should know.

It works out quite well.




Over the next two months John becomes everything Sherlock was never even aware he needed. He is the link, at last, the missing vector that allows Sherlock to look at this dull world and see its gaping flaws and its hordes of swarming idiots and still think, I might belong here. He is someone that Sherlock can take by the hand and say Come on, then, and show him his London, the real London that lives in the places where normal people never bother to raise their heads, the city that lives above the ordinary. He's an assistant, a friend, a companion.

There's cases and codes and clues, mystery and monsters and friendly bickering. There's threats and messages and whispers and fights over groceries and fights in derelict theatres and a lot of running.

John kills a man for him, but that's all right, he isn't a nice man (and he's a bloody awful cabbie) and the things he says to Sherlock before he dies bring the burning dreams back for days, and it takes a really tricky case with a missing cat and another with a missing pleasure cruiser before the world feels the right shape again. It's all right when John is there to amaze, to surprise, to amuse. While he's with John, the supernova inside burns a little less brightly, and he can slow down, just a little. For the first time, celebrating quietly with John in a Chinese takeaway at the end of Baker Street and their very first case together, he learns to enjoy the aftermath.

And once, on top of the London Eye (no, not in a capsule, on top of the London Eye, and there aren't many good handholds and it's a bit chilly) there's something- nearly something-

Mycroft approves of John, albeit tacitly. He visits less often. For some reason, they worry less when Sherlock isn't alone.

It's not perfect. John doesn't like the mess in their flat- he doesn't understand that it isn't chaos, that amidst the scattered drifts of his possessions Sherlock knows exactly where everything is.

Well, almost everything.

And one day when there's nothing going on and everything seems grey and drab, John jibes him gently about not knowing that the Earth goes round the Sun, and the old anger comes flaring back, the sense of loss, and Sherlock can't contain his temper. He sometimes despairs at how slowly John thinks, and he worries that even John will not be able to put up with him forever, that one day he'll get tired of running and want the things that Sherlock can't give him; security, safety, a normal life. They always leave, he catches himself thinking, once, but the thought doesn't make any sense and anyway it's fleeting, gone before he can grasp it.

But on the whole it's good, with John. It's different, and it's warm, and it feels like it might even last.





The whispers have a name, and the name is Moriarty.

It's almost an anticlimax. Everything that Sherlock has been fighting for, every clue and scrap of data that has led him here, the shadows that have been gathering around them on every side for the last two months- and then in the end, this. The smell of chlorine, the quiet lap of water on the sides of the pool, the watery, dancing light.

Something is horribly wrong. Sherlock knows it even before John steps out of the doorway and adds his steady, brave voice to this twisted charade. The thought of John dying in front of him takes Sherlock's strength and murders his remaining illusions about this being about the joy of the chase or the challenge. The game goes on, and the stakes go up, and there is a terrible, terrible weight over his heart.

And then finally the shadows part and there's a voice and a face and Sherlock Holmes sees Jim Moriarty, really sees him at last. At first this, too, is an anticlimax. After all, he's not the bogeyman, he's not the devil, he's nothing special, nothing monstrous, he's just a man.

Except for the eyes.

Moriarty's eyes burn. Sherlock has heard this term before, people are fond of using it to describe people who they think look evil or bad or just a bit mad. They think they know what it means, but they tend to come up a bit short if asked to actually describe it, because for the most part a person's eyes carry emotion in the way they move, not the way they look.

But Moriarty's eyes burn like a dying star. They are the eyes of something that would happily pull the plug on the entire universe if it could, just to find out what noises it would make in its death throes. His words, his casual, sing-song manner, nothing matters- with eyes like those, Sherlock could easily believe that no-one in the world is safe from this man. Not John, not even Mycroft.

Not even Sherlock Holmes himself.

He feels real fear when John, trying to save him, lunges for Moriarty and grabs him from the back. That John should risk his life for him, his normal boring ordinary wonderful precious life, for him, is brilliant and awful at the same time and he's terrified that John might die, but that's not all of it- a small screaming part of him can't bear John being so close to this man, is flooded with the irrational fear that whatever Moriarty has, it could be catching.

Moriarty plays with him, with them. He seems to delight in destroying Sherlock's preconceptions, about the plans, about his own intentions. He lets them believe they are safe, only to reappear like some hellish jack-in-the-box a minute later and start it all off all over again.

“You can't be allowed to continue,” he says, blandly. “You just can't. I would try to convince you, but... everything I have to say has already crossed your mind.”

Sherlock is tired of this game. The weight on his heart is dragging down like lead, and he's not bored any more, but he's starting to wish that he was, and the feeling is new and really, really unpleasant. He looks at John, who makes the tiniest movement in response, the tiny red stars whirling back and forth on his chest as he looks steadily back.

A nod.

All right, then. With John at his back the concept of dying just to bring an end to the game, to Moriarty, doesn't seem so dreadful to Sherlock after all. He doesn't want to die and he doesn't want John to die either, but they've come this far, both of them, together, and there are things worth dying for. It's still not a given- Sherlock still sees several ways this could go, and at least one of them ends with Moriarty dead and Sherlock and John alive. Sherlock hopes with everything he has for this possible future, Moriarty dead and this awful creeping weight gone from his heart, back to 221B and cases and adventures and running and John beside him, that's worth fighting for, worth killing for, but most of all it's worth living for.

“Probably my answer has already crossed yours,” he says, and takes aim.

“Oh, I've missed you,” Moriarty smiles, and there's a terrible security in his face. It is the look of someone who already knows what is about to happen, who has been watching it play out again and again in his head in exactly this way for a very, very long time. “Missed this. You can't blame me for wanting to see how far I could take it. After all, you wouldn't believe how far I had to go to find you, this time. I still don't know what you were running from, but you made a good job of it, I'll give you that.” The smile widens. “Let's just say Frequent Flier miles won't cover you where I've been.”

Sherlock keeps the gun steady, trained on the crumpled heap on the tiles, on the bomb. “What do you want?”

“I'm showing you, dear,” Moriarty says, gently. “I'm pointing the way.”

His hands are still casually shoved in his pockets. Sherlock doesn't even bother looking there. Instead, he looks down- fraction by fraction, his hands still curled around the gun- and sees that the cluster of sniper's sights on his chest has dwindled down to one, a single point, held steadily just above his heart.

Sherlock takes one hand off John's gun and reaches, very slowly, towards the light. He knows there's nothing there but he does it anyway. He's himself and not himself; his hand moves with the same cold unthinking deliberation that nearly got him killed once before- would have done, almost certainly, if it hadn't been for a good friend, a convenient window, and an extremely good shot.

John senses it. “Don't-”

“Shhhh, hush now,” Moriarty coos. It should be laughable but it's not. It's a death threat. “Don't spoil the surprise.”

Sherlock touches his own chest, the red point of light flickers across his fingers as he edges them inside his jacket, into the pocket of his shirt, over his heart. It's empty, there's nothing there, there's nothing there, it's a trick, a trap, his fingers aren't feeling metal, smooth, warm as a heartbeat-

“Said I was changeable, didn't I?” says Moriarty. His eyes are fixed on Sherlock now, captivated, hungry. “Oh, but we both are. When we really need to be.”

-not there, it's not there, not metal, warm, heavy, God, the terrible weight, the burning sky, I can't, I won't-

John doesn't dare speak again, but it's clear that he wants to. He's watching him, tense, worried, bewildered.

Somehow Sherlock is already sure of what he's going to see, even before he looks down at the warm round weight in his hand. A voice at the back of his mind is still telling him that there's nothing there, that it's not important, that he should just forget about it... but it's too late, now. He's seen it, he knows it's there, and he can't stop his thoughts racing onwards.

-it was all I had and they let me keep it, they didn't even seem to see it, I didn't even see it, I carried it into my new life-

His head feels like it is about to split open. Still the voice at the back of his mind yammers on, frantic now, near-hysterical. It's only an old watch. He certainly doesn't know how the hell it got into the pocket of his shirt, he must have put it there earlier in the evening without even realising he was doing it, and the thought makes his stomach squeeze like a wet rag, but it's still not important, it's just a battered old fob-watch with some weird circular patterns engraved on the front. It's just a piece of junk he picked up somewhere, he's had it forever. It doesn't even work.

Slowly, his hand closes around it, curling into a fist.

“I bet you've enjoyed it.” Moriarty paces further, nodding his head slowly, as if following a beat only he can hear. “Being you. Being human. I can tell you've had a ball. And I hate to spoil your fun, but the thing is, that's sort of what I do. It's this nasty habit I've picked up over the years. And years. And years.”

Sherlock looks up at Moriarty. Oh, yes, they've danced this dance before, across worlds, across space, across- time. He can't see how this could be possible but he knows it's true. He can't remember, not properly, not yet, and there's not room in even his mind for the things he can feel blazing at the edges of his memory- but those burning, hungry eyes know him.

“And I think you'll appreciate all the effort I went to,” continues Moriarty. “Well, I keep saying 'you.' Not you, obviously, you're just human, you'll be dead, but somebody will!”

“You said,” Sherlock manages, the watch still lying heavy in the palm of his hand, “you weren't going to kill me yet.”

“I'm not.” Moriarty looks offended. “You're going to kill yourself... well, close as. And I wish you'd get a move on. It has been fun, being this, being Moriarty, being the master criminal to your master detective, but it's getting boring now. We've got bigger games to play, me and him. So open it, or,” he shrugs, “your pet dies.”

Sherlock keeps his fist closed around the watch.

“It wasn't worth it before,” Moriarty says. “Running around this mud-ball you love so much with this busy little half-life you made, and you never cared about anything except your clever little self. Johnny-boy here's really worth his weight in gold. He'll feel it now. He'll really feel what I made him lose. And- you'll like this- I'll even let the good doctor live, aren't I nice? Another faithful companion. He can keep this one around, to remind him what he could have had.”

“Him... and you...”

“Oh, yes. It's starting, isn't it? Yes. We go way back, him and me. Old pals.”

Sherlock's head is bursting. The supernova's gone critical, filling the space inside his skull with golden fire. The watch in his hand feels like a live thing, with its weight and its warmth and the whispers that leave burning shapes in his mind, memories of things that never happened, terrible, brilliant, impossible things.

“Somehow... I don't think he'd agree.”

Moriarty smiles. “Oh, I think he would.”

Him. Not Moriarty, but him. He's-

-like fire and ice and rage.

He's like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun.

He's ancient and forever.

He burns at the centre of time and he can see-

-he can

If he opens the watch, Sherlock knows that he will die.

He doesn't understand how he knows this, but he understands that it's just part of it, part of how this- whatever this is- how it works. There will be no real death, no pain, no wound, no messy end, no body. Someone else will still be here, dressed in Sherlock's clothes, standing in his shoes, wearing his face. Someone else will shut the watch when it's over and hold it in his hand- in Sherlock's hand- and it will be someone brilliant, someone who can save John and the city he loves and probably the whole planet from those burning eyes. And this someone else will go on to bigger things, better things, all the games Sherlock ever wanted, over and over, not just with little crimes and little people but with planets and empires and galaxies and the universe, the entire universe, this someone else can do all that, will do all that, but it won't be him.

Oh, he'll look like him and sound like him, and he'll remember everything that he was, but he won't be Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock doesn't know how this is possible. All he knows is that, compared to what waits for him in the watch, what he has had for the last ten years has been a life, just a normal, human life. Before John, nothing could have made him mourn the loss of it, but now nothing, nothing, is worth giving it up.

But it's too late. He's gone too far and he can't look away and there's no time left, no time at all.

The man who called himself Moriarty smiles wider, and Sherlock knows that he guesses his pain, and that it is very, very sweet to him.

“You can't stop me, Sherlock Holmes. You're not him. And if you won't let him out to play... I'll burn this world.”

Sherlock has no doubt that he's telling the truth. He looks up and sees John watching him, still, trying hard to understand what's going on. From John's point of view it must seem grotesque, ridiculous, even- all this fuss over an old watch. He can sense the danger but he doesn't understand the reason. He doesn't understand what Moriarty has done, what he's forced Sherlock to do- he doesn't understand that the watch, once seen, once dragged into his conscious mind, can't be forgotten. Sherlock envies him. If only it could have happened that way- an accident, an unknowing death, a new life with no regrets. If only it wasn't happening at all-  if only he didn't have to choose.

He makes the only choice he can. The watch is heavy in his hands. Moriarty, watching him narrowly, smiles his killer's smile.

“Welcome back, old friend.”

At the sound of his voice Sherlock feels a surge of hatred for Moriarty so intense it leaves him shaking, He hates Moriarty in this moment more than he has ever hated anything, more than anyone has ever hated anything, because Moriarty is right. For John, with John, Sherlock could have been just human. With John he could have spent an entire lifetime just being Sherlock Holmes, he can nearly feel what it would have been like; different, warm, lasting. Good.

In a way, it isn't so very much, what he will lose. Weigh it against the other and it's nothing, one little life against the entire stretch of space and time, one earthbound span of small adventures against the turn of the universe itself. But he looks at John again and tries to signal a farewell, and his heart feels like it's burning.

Goodbye, John. We were brilliant.

He opens the watch.


Oh god. I want to say something intelligent, that makes me not seem like a complete gibbering idiot, but I just can't seem to form the words.

I decided to read this after falling in love with Elementary. I honestly think you are my new hero, and I cannot wait to read more of your stuff.

This was absobloodylutely fantastic. This was perfection.

I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest, cradled gently, and then stamped on, repeatedly.

I bow to you.

See what I mean about sounding like an idiot? xD

Argh thank you so much! Sorry about the heart-stampage, though. D:
(That shot from your icon confuses me every time. I'm like, when did they hold hands?!)

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Oh lord, this makes me want to cry. I think I whimpered a little bit there at the end.

So, good job, I suppose. (Even tho I'm a bit broken-hearted right now.)

It's okay. He'll put everything right. He just... won't be Sherlock.
*.....offers hanky*



Yeah, that's all I've got. Just... whoah.

Dang that was good.

...I want to cry now.

That was spectacular and brilliant and just. Wow.

Please tell me there'll be more??

Oh god WOW. WOW WOW WOW. That was...amazing. It was, it was quite extraordinary.

It ended so perfectly there, but I have to ask, will there be more? You leave my imagination running wild, and I feel so bad for poor JOHN. I love love love it. Guh. <3

Oh, God, this hurts even more than "Human Nature". Well done, excellent, makes perfect sense.

I've nearly made you something for this... :)

eeeee! Whatisit whatisit?
*scrabbles, gnaws*

This was /painfully/ good. Thank you.

I'm going to go to my little corner and bawl my eyes out now. I hate you and love you so very much at the same time. I SHOULD NOT HAVE READ THIS. I NEEDED AN ANGST WARNING. D: But I loved it. *cries*

Sorry! D: If it is any consolation, your icon is so very very pretty.


Brilliant. Heartbreaking. And a crossover that really gets to grips with it.

Two words: Well done.

Oh god, this was brilliant and wonderful and heartbreaking. A perfect fusion between the two worlds!

Oh god that episode broke me.... but this fic has left me absolutely shattered ;_________;

This is utter brilliance, you know. What a build-up!

Here on laurab1's rec -- this is brilliant! (They so are to begin with, and now that it's come round again with Moffat writing Sherlock... Yes. This. ALL OF THIS.)

I really enjoyed this. Sherlock Holmes/Doctor Who crossovers really work for me.

They work for Steven Moffat as he's said how the early Doctor was changed to be much more like Sherlock Holmes.

Excellent stuff

Loved it! Loved how Sherlock's thoughts were described.


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