[personal profile] nickelsandcoats
Title: Volo te Realis 2/2 Complete || at Ao3
Author: Sarah/[livejournal.com profile] nickelsandcoats
Rating: PG
Spoilers: None.
Word Count: ~2,900 for this part
Pairings: pre-Sherlock/John
Warnings: AU, brief mentions of drug use.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Sherlock wishes and wishes and wishes for a real friend, and in a world where wishes can become reality, will Sherlock be deemed worthy enough to have his wish come true?
Notes: For [livejournal.com profile] thanksforthetea's/sherlockmadetea's prompt here at my shuffle meme post. She asked for #221, which was "Harry's Sacrifice" from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II soundtrack.

part i





Three years later, Sherlock finally asked Mycroft about the tattoos those who had their wishes granted received.

“No one knows why we get them when we do, Sherlock,” Mycroft explained, “but they only appear after a wish has been granted.”

“Like Mummy’s.”

“Precisely.” Mycroft resettled in his chair, crossing his legs at the ankle. Sherlock burrowed a little deeper into the sofa, settling in for a story. “Mummy said her tattoo appeared after you were born. It can be surmised, then, that her wish was for you.” Mycroft smiled at him. “And, I suppose, for me as well, even though you’re a brat.” He grinned even as Sherlock stuck out his tongue.

“Do you have a tattoo?”

Mycroft looked at him for a moment and answered, “No. And that’s not a question you ask people, Sherlock.”

“Why not?”

“Because some people don’t like to be reminded of lost wishes. And it’s rude.”

Sherlock mulled this over. “Why can’t we have more than one wish ever granted?”

“No one knows.”

“I’ll find out,” Sherlock said. “I’ll find out and I’ll tell everyone. It’s not fair that we only get one wish. If Mummy used hers for me, then she could have had another for Father if everyone got a second wish.”

Mycroft sat up straighter and nearly snarled, “Don’t ever say such a thing to Mummy. Swear it.”

Sherlock cowered back a bit. “I promise,” he squeaked.

Mycroft blinked and seemed to come back to himself. “I apologise⎯I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I wasn’t scared,” Sherlock sniffed. “Not at all. John doesn’t think you’re scary either.”

“Sherlock⎯”

“NO! Don’t say it! I wished for him and he’s real even if you and Mummy can’t see him!”

“Sherlock,” Mycroft repeated, gently, “You don’t have a tattoo. No one but you can see him. He’s just an imaginary friend, that’s all. When you get older, you’ll see.”

“He is real!” Sherlock jumped off the sofa and ran for the door, neatly sidestepping his brother who had risen in alarm at Sherlock’s abrupt departure.

When he was in the doorway, a safe distance from his brother, Sherlock turned back and shouted, “I hate you! You never believe me, and I never want to talk to you again! I thought you would understand, but you’re just like everyone else. Leave me and John alone!” He turned and ran down the hall, sniffling back hurt and angry tears. If Mycroft didn’t believe him, then no one ever would. He slammed the door to his room and sat back against it, hugging his knees to his chest. John was nowhere to be seen, and in the furthest corner of his mind, Sherlock began to doubt.



When Sherlock was sixteen, he cadged his first cigarette off one of the lads in exchange for keeping quiet about the fact that he’d seen the other boy snogging a boy outside the toilets last week. When he exhaled for the first time, John was watching him with a faint frown of disapproval.



When Sherlock was eighteen, Mummy took him aside, and, as was tradition, gave him a lecture and a warning on the power of wishes.

“You’re old enough now, dear, for wishes to come true. I won’t tell you to be careful what you wish for, but I will tell you to be yourself. Think about it⎯apply your methods and your logic before you ever breathe a word of a wish. Will you promise me that?”

“I promise, Mummy.”

That night, Sherlock laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, waiting for John, who still wore jumpers that were slightly too large for him, and was still irritatingly, achingly incorporeal and even more maddeningly, still mute. As a child, Sherlock had honed his deductive skills with John, sending him out and about for a while and then telling him what he had done just by reading his body language. Now, John appeared, already lying down next to him, his body held carefully just far enough away to keep them from accidentally touching and sending John off to…wherever it was he went when he was not with Sherlock. As one, they turned on their sides to face each other, and John grinned at him, mouthing “Happy birthday,” and manipulating his mouth carefully so that Sherlock could read his lips.

The lip reading was new⎯only a few months old. Sherlock had done something unspeakable to a sheep’s eyeball, and John, who had been watching what he was doing with a sick fascination, started yelling at Sherlock when the eyeball squirted out its contents directly through John’s ghostly body. They had both stared in surprise as John realised what he had just done. Even though no sound had come out, Sherlock responded to his abuse as if he had heard him.

I didn’t know I could do that, John mouthed.

“Neither did I. Lucky for us I can lip read. Well, enough to catch most of your meaning.” Sherlock’s eyes lit up. “This is perfect, John! Think of the experiments we can do!”

John just rolled his eyes, but the small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth betrayed him.

As university dragged on and on⎯“Honestly, John, they should just give me the degree so I can leave. This is pointless!”⎯Sherlock’s brain grew restless. He had managed, quite inadvertently, to alienate absolutely everyone in his college and the faculty, with his deductions. At first, Sherlock had been surprised⎯his schoolmates as a young boy had mostly learned to ignore him⎯and then, angry. After several months, he gave up the anger and went straight to resentment. If these idiots didn’t want to socialise with him, then he wouldn’t deign to acknowledge them. He drew his ability to deduce, to shatter privacy and share secrets and tattoos (that one got him punched more than once), around him like a shield, matching their taunts and derision with his own pointed barbs. Slowly, people stopped throwing insults and he was left completely alone. Everyone avoided eye contact and gave him a wide berth when they passed him in the halls or on the streets.

John was his only constant, but even he couldn’t be there all the time. At night, when he could be bothered to sleep, he closed his eyes and wished for John to become real so that he would have a friend and everyone would see that there was someone in the world who cared for him. (Sherlock would never admit it to anyone, but he was desperately, achingly lonely, and his heart was cold and empty in his chest).

Every morning when he woke, he held his breath for a just a moment before he opened his eyes, hoping to see the dark swirl of a tattoo on his body so that he would know his wish had been granted.

Every morning, he woke to see John, still as ghostly as ever, watching him with apologies in his eyes.



When he was twenty-five, Sherlock Holmes nearly went mad from boredom. His mind was clawing itself to pieces, he’d been evicted from two flats already and was about to make it three, and worst of all, his wish still hadn’t come true. He saw people walking about London with their tattoos and every time he deduced what stupid, petty thing they’d been deemed worthy to have and he, friendless and lonely and hurting, had a greater wish that wasn’t being granted, his heart twisted and howled.

John watched him now, warily, trying and failing to talk to Sherlock. Their half-silent conversations (John still could only mouth what he wanted to say, and Sherlock’s lip reading skills had grown exponentially) were growing ever more loaded as John tried to implore Sherlock to eat and sleep, and Sherlock steadfastly ignored him.

Another six months went by, and their arguments were getting worse. Sherlock would simply close his eyes and turn his head away when John started making a fuss over him, and eventually, John stopped appearing as much.

The day Sherlock first tried cocaine, John appeared in front of him, wild-eyed, hands reaching out as if to check him over, ensuring that Sherlock was still alive, that the gasping, thundering beat of his heart wasn’t too fast.

“John!” Sherlock cried, “John, you came back!”

I never left, John said, You just never noticed I was here.

That took Sherlock a moment, and when he finally parsed the meaning of that, his shoulders slumped and he curled in on himself. “You don’t understand, John. This is amazing! I can finally hear something other than my mind screaming at me. Everything is finally…quiet, John. It’s never been quiet.”

John just looked at him sadly. You realise this will likely kill you, right?

Sherlock’s face contorted with rage. “I would have died anyway! At least this way I can get some fucking peace! Besides, no one would miss me anyway. Mummy’s gone, now, and Mycroft’s too busy to care.”

I would miss you.

“You’re not even real! The only thing I’ve ever wished for was for you to be real, and I can’t even have that! I’ve just given up. I’m not good enough to have my wish granted, so why bother?” He rolled over, pulling his dressing gown tightly around his body.

John gaped like a landed fish for a long while before he faded away.

Sherlock flipped back over, looking around wildly for John. “John? John! Where are you? Come back, John, I didn’t mean that. I’ll keep wishing! John?”

There was no answering shimmer to the air, no indication that John heard him. Sherlock closed his eyes, refusing to wipe away the stray tears that escaped.


The next time he saw John, Sherlock had just been thrown in jail by a certain Detective Inspector (newly minted, married two years, baby on the way) who found Sherlock’s knowledge of the crime scene he had been processing a little too in-depth for someone who claimed to be innocent. Well, that, and Sherlock was only just coming off his high. Sherlock rolled his eyes. “So the only time you’re gonna come around is when I’m in trouble?”

No. John crossed his arms and sat on the bed opposite.

“Then why now?”

I’ve told you before, I never leave, you just can’t always see me.

“Yeah, and I’ve not seen you for months. So why now?”

John huffed. Because you’re wasting your potential, Sherlock. That Inspector is, as we speak, talking to Mycroft on the phone. When he comes in here, he’s going to release you and offer to let you work on crime scenes⎯ Sherlock sat up straight at that, eyes gleaming (he had not felt so alive in months as he had when he was instructing the Yard on the identity of the murderer they sought) ⎯But he’s going to tell you you have to get clean and stay clean or he can’t work with you. John paused and looked Sherlock straight in the eye. I think you should take him up on his offer.

“Why do you care so much? What are you, my conscience? My guardian angel? Something Mycroft devised to keep an eye on me?”

John smiled at the last. No, I’m your friend. And friends care about each other.

Sherlock felt a ball of guilt settle heavily in his gut. He cared about John, in his own way, and it hurt him to realize, all at once, that John was truly constant, that he stayed because he cared for Sherlock of all people, that he rarely judged Sherlock for his choices. And Sherlock had let himself get haphazard in his wishing. John gave him another, smaller smile and faded away just as the Inspector’s footsteps became audible.


John started following him to crime scenes, hanging back just out of sight, watching in fascination as his friend solved case after case. He just wished he could get Sherlock to quit using in between cases, in the “quiet times” where boredom got to be too much and the experiments and the violin did nothing to keep him occupied. Cocaine, Sherlock claimed, was the only thing that could silence his mind long enough to help him get a foothold over his brain. John knew that eventually, something had to give, and it did in the form of an overdose.

When Sherlock went unresponsive, eyes rolled back in his head, John sprung forward, reaching out, begging to be allowed to help his friend. His hand became solid, and John blinked in surprise. He hesitated for just an instant before he reached for Sherlock’s mobile and sent two texts, fingers fumbling a bit as he figured out how to work the buttons. The first was to Inspector Lestrade, the second to Mycroft. As soon as he pressed send, his hand lost its solidity and the phone clattered next to Sherlock’s limp hand. John crouched next to his friend until he heard Lestrade’s boots thundering up the stairs and then stood aside, letting the man check his friend over.

John heard something over his shoulder and half turned, eyes widening when he saw who it was.

The Fate smiled at him and held out a hand. Come, He-Who-Is-Named-John. It is time.

Time for what?

The Fate took his hand and said, simply, For you both to get what you’ve wanted for so many years.

John swallowed and stepped forward.



When he woke in the hospital, John was not there. Sherlock bit back a wave of bitter disappointment and closed his eyes again, wishing that he could see John again.

Seven months later, still John-less but finally detoxed and feeling more stable than he had in years, Sherlock Holmes walked into Bart’s seeking a flatmate. He told Mike Stamford, who knew him well enough to find a flatmate who could tolerate Sherlock’s eccentricities, to please (Mike had blinked at his use of the word) ask around to see if there was any interest.

Later that afternoon, Mike walked back into the lab with a short, sandy-haired man in tow. Sherlock’s eyes flickered over the man, gathering data even as Mike stepped out of the room, citing an appointment with a student. The strange man blinked at him, and something started to niggle at the back of Sherlock’s mind. He looked…familiar, somehow. The stranger stepped closer, and Sherlock could more closely see the tan lines at the wrists and neck.

“I’m sorry,” the stranger said, “But Mike never gave me your name.”

“Sherlock Holmes,” he said, holding out his hand for a shake.

The other man smiled, but didn’t take it. Sherlock lowered his hand, watching the stranger through narrowed eyes. “Who are you?” he asked abruptly.

“Don’t you know?”

“No.”

The stranger held out his left hand, and pulled up his sleeve. On his wrist, just above where his radial pulse could be felt, was a tattoo of a key. A key that looked a great deal like the one to 221b Baker Street⎯a key that was currently in Sherlock’s pocket. Sherlock’s mouth dropped open just a fraction, and his breath stuttered to a stop in his chest. “Look at your arm,” the stranger⎯John, it has to be John, who else would have that key, who else would look like him⎯said gently.

Sherlock unbuttoned his cuff with shaking fingers and pulled up his left sleeve to see a newly-created tattoo, an exact match for the one on the stranger’s⎯John’s⎯wrist.

“John?” Sherlock breathed.

“Hello,” John said grinning from ear to ear. “I’m sorry I left you alone for so long, but it had to be done.”

“How? Why?”

“That will take a very long time to explain, and I’m parched. Being made incarnate and planting memories in Mike’s head so he would think he knew me and bring me here takes a lot out of a bloke.”

“But you’re real?”

John reached out, clasped Sherlock’s hand in his, and drew it to his chest, where he placed it over his heart and let Sherlock feel the thunder of its beat against his palm. “As real as you,” John said simply.

“I want to know everything.” Sherlock said, staring at his hand on John’s chest.

“I’ll tell you everything. But can we do it at home?”

“Home? You want to, you want to live with me?”

“Where else would I go?” John huffed a sigh and smiled at Sherlock’s look of incredulity. “Do you want me to live with you?”

“Yes! You’re mine, and I’m not giving you up.” Sherlock’s hand clutched at John’s chest, as if he could capture John’s very being. The very idea of having John not with him when he was flesh and blood and so, so brilliantly alive was abhorrent. “Not unless you want to leave me.”

“Never,” John said. “I’ve wished for this just as long as you have. Why else do you think I have a tattoo, too?”

“You have?”

John’s smile was heartbreaking. “I would always wish I could be with you so you could have a real friend. I never gave up on you, Sherlock Holmes, and I never will. So you’re stuck with me, I’m afraid, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Sherlock swallowed heavily. “Neither would I,” he said, hoarsely.

John plucked his hand from his chest and wove his fingers through Sherlock’s marveling at the feel of skin-on-skin. “Let’s go home,” he said tugging gently to guide Sherlock out the door.


When they got to the door of 221b, Sherlock handed John his keys and allowed him the honour of opening the door to their flat for the first time. As he listened to John thump up the stairs, Sherlock glanced down at his tattoo and whispered a silent thanks to the Fates before he shut the door and walked up to greet his new life.


--Fin--

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