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02 July 2012 @ 07:01 am
FIC: Pseudoscience (1/1)  
Title: Pseudoscience
Author: WinterofourDiscontent (fuyu_no_fuhei)
Recipient: nox_candida (as part of Holmestice 2012)
Characters/Pairings: John/Sherlock
Rating: PG-13
Warnings:: none
Summary: The only thing worse than being kidnapped by scientists is being kidnapped by scientists with shoddy methodology. Good thing Sherlock’s got a new friend in the next cell.
Author’s Note: So many thanks to my betas, without whom none of this would be possible, and to nox_candida for the wonderful prompts. I hope you enjoy!



The clearly retrofitted cell was approximately five yards by four yards, poured concrete floor with off-centre drainage grate six inches wide, with no attempt made to hide the blinking red light in a corner near the ceiling. Aside from himself, the room contained a military surplus cot, an empty orange plastic bucket, and two bottles of water, sealed. The only opening big enough to get in or out of was the door he’d been shoved through, which was steel, several inches thick, and already locked.

The paint patterns on the floor and walls were several days old, at most, and along the edges of the floor a poured line of tiny reddish crystals circled the entire room. Sherlock reached out a fingertip, then touched it carefully to his tongue.

“Idiots.”

“Hello?” The voice came from somewhere to the left, and thence, presumably, from the cell next to his. Male, British, midlands accent, adult, no obvious weakness or ill-health, judging by the angle either shorter, lying down, or both...

Talking to the man was a calculated risk; he was reasonably sure the stranger was in fact another victim of the band of idiots responsible for his abduction, but there was always the slim chance he was wrong. Still, even if the man was a plant, Sherlock would certainly be able to find out far more than he needed to reveal.

“You’re not one of the guards or staff.”

“No,” the voice confirmed, even though it hadn’t actually been a question. “Just another poor bastard in a cell. You alright? Any injuries? They sounded a bit put out when they brought you in.”

“At least two of them will be needing to see a dentist shortly.”

The voice let out a low whistle. “Well done, you.”

“In answer to your earlier question…” Sherlock considered his body seriously for the first time since his arrival. “Bruises, minor cuts and scratches, slight residual dizziness and cottonmouth, likely from the sedative, nothing serious.”

“Eaten recently?”

It had, in fact, been sixty-eight hours since his last meal, and Mycroft’s voice in his head suggested that perhaps if he took better care of himself he’d have managed to escape capture entirely. He told it to shut up. “Not recently, no.”

“Good thing, they grabbed me not long after dinner, and whatever the hell’s in that bloody sedative is an emetic. You’ve some dry heaves to look forward to, though.”

“I suppose I’ll just have to be grateful it’s not a diuretic as well.”

The voice laughed, higher pitched than he’d have expected, almost a giggle. It was surprisingly pleasant. “Yeah, I’ve kipped down in worse places, but not by much. Still, if they’ve given you water, drink it. All of it.”

“Yes, doctor.” The pause that followed confirmed his hypothesis.

“How did you… yeah.” He heard the sound of a throat being cleared. “Doctor John Watson. Can’t shake your hand, and frankly, under the circumstances it hardly seems appropriate to say ‘pleased to meet you,’ but I can’t say I mind the sound of another voice. I’m damned sick of my own.”

No point even trying to hide his name, they’d taken his wallet. And his coat, and his shoes. And, alright, yes, his clothing too, replaced with hideous light blue scrubs that had boasted three prior wearers, one woman, two men. “Sherlock Holmes. I… likewise, I’m sure.”

“So how’d you know I was a doctor?” John Watson asked, curiousity and good humour evident in his voice. Shouldn’t he have sounded worried? Sherlock wasn’t, of course, but he was hardly most people, and this wasn’t exactly his first kidnapping. This year.

“It’s my job to know things,” Sherlock responded, matter of fact. “I’m a consulting detective, only one in the world. I can tell an engineer by his tie, a pilot by his left thumb, and a doctor by his bedside manner.”

A short bark of a laugh this time. “Fair enough. Go on then, deduce something else about me.”

“What?”

“S’not as if either of us has any other pressing social engagements.”

“Are you sure? It’s just… people tend to get offended.” If John got angry and quit talking to him, then there’d really be nothing to do, and Mycroft would find him seventy-one hours hence with his brains leaking out of his ears.

John snorted. “Trust me, at this point, being a bit offended would be the highlight of my otherwise uneventful day.”

“Let’s see…” Sherlock wasn’t sure why, but he found himself wanting to impress the man. “You are or were military, and you’ve got a psychosomatic limp.”

“Brilliant! How d’you figure?”

“I can hear you pacing your cell. Your limp comes and goes, and as your external stimulus is unchanging, it must be responding to an internal one, ergo, psychosomatic. But when you’re not limping, you have a very distinctive military stride.”

“Ex-RAMC, and they took my cane when they threw me in here.” The sheepish note in John’s tone changed to one of...wonder? “That’s… that’s brilliant, though, what you can do.”

Sherlock made a dismissive noise, glad John would have had no way of seeing his pleased smile. He couldn’t recall the last time someone had been pleasant about a personal observation, let alone enthusiastic. It almost made the kidnapping worthwhile. “Basic observational skills. Nothing odd or.. or supernatural about it.”

John sighed. “About that...”

“The walls are covered in poorly rendered sigils with a mishmash of incorrectly conjugated Latin, ancient Greek, hieroglyphics, Sanskrit, and what is obviously either a poor attempt at cuneiform or just random hatch marks in what can only be a juvenile attempt to ‘ward off’ the room. Additionally, they’ve ringed it with salt, the kind used for roads from the taste of it, must be on a budget, clearly referencing folk beliefs about salt as a barrier against evil.”

“You too, then? Thought I might have just got the honeymoon suite.”

“I suppose that means that was holy water they dumped on me after they grabbed me.”

“Most likely, yeah.”

“Marvelous. I’ve been summarily drugged, kidnapped, and… re-baptized because some idiots heard too many of Doyle’s fairy stories as children.”

“So you’re not, then?” John’s voice was teasing.

“The so-called ‘paranormal’? Of course not, John, don’t be silly. It doesn’t exist.”

“Right, right. Silly of me.” John’s voice had an odd, almost wistful note. He wished he could see John’s face or read his body language. Was he tall or short, blond or dark haired, handsome or… He needed more data, damn it.

“Ghouls, goblins, ghosts, werewolves, witches, and vampires,” Sherlock continued, “exist only in the minds of the idiot or the madman.”

“So which do you figure we’re currently being held by, the idiotic or the mad?”

“We’ll have to hope for the former-- idiots can be reasoned with.”

***

“Both, John!” Sherlock exclaimed, once he’d gotten back up from being unceremoniously thrown back into his cell the next day. “They’re both!”

“Thank god you’re alright, but can you be a bit quieter? Tests gave me a headache.”

“I can’t believe this…” Sherlock said, beginning to pace back and forth in his cell, three strides each way. “They’ll let anyone get a PhD now, apparently.”

“We’re being held by a sinister organisation with unknown motivations in an unknown location, they’re doing tests on us, and you’re worried about their lack of methodology?” John asked, his tone somewhere between exasperation and amusement.

“And their budget, honestly, those aren’t even real security cameras, they’re just the fake kind with fairy lights so we won’t attempt anything.”

“Are you…”

“Concrete walls without wires leading out.”

“Ah.”

“At any rate, we know their motivation, they think we’re not human and they’re trying to prove it. It’s madness, John. A full physical, bloodwork, x-rays, and all it did was convince them I must be something extraordinary to be able to ‘pass’ as human so well.”

“So they grabbed you thinking there was something inhumanly… something... about your brains? Your ability to figure everything out? Or do you happen to sparkle in sunlight?”

“Why on earth would I sparkle, John?”

John sighed. This was his ‘you’ve missed a cultural reference’ sigh. It was a bit terrifying to realise how quickly Sherlock had acquired a miniature catalogue of them. “Right, no sparkles, of course not, never mind.”

“I’ve still no idea why they’d have grabbed you, though. You seem entirely ordinary… I don’t mean that as an insult, for being ordinary you’re rather extraordinary, it’s just…” Sherlock trailed off as he realised he had no idea what he was actually trying to say. “They don’t seem nearly scientific enough for a control.”

Now he could hear the shrug in John’s voice. “Wish I could tell you, mate.”

“They seem to think I’ve got some sort of psychic abilities, they were trying to have me deduce things by touch or with these little cards with triangles and wavy lines on them.”

“How’d you do?”

“Perfect score after the twenty-three seconds it took to learn her tells.”

John giggled, and Sherlock laughed as well, feeling an unaccountable warmth in his chest. “Remind me never to play poker with you, mate.”

“I look forward to learning all of your tells, John Watson.”

John went silent, and Sherlock was suddenly terrified he’d said something… not good.

“That’s… ah, yes,” John finally responded. “Should be interesting.”

There was silence again, until John, in what was clearly an attempt to divert the conversation, admitted, “I’ve… they may be under the impression I can’t stand silver.”

“What on earth for?” Sherlock asked.

“Because it stops them trying something else that would actually injure me!” John said, almost yelling. “You hardly have to be something inhuman to fear fire or them working their way any further through the bloody Malleus Maleficarum on my arse.” He took several deep breaths. “Sorry, sorry. It’s too quiet here, and too small, and it smells, and it’s getting to me. A bit.”

“That’s… rather clever, John.”

And John didn’t know Sherlock, not really, and didn’t get that Sherlock never complimented anyone, didn’t know that no one liked Sherlock; he just knew that Sherlock was smart and he thought Sherlock was brilliant and Sherlock wanted to know if John would still actually want to talk to him if they hadn’t been trapped here together with no one else.

“I must confess I’m rather looking forward to what my brother will do once he gets his hands on our captors.” Not for his own sake, the abduction made a bit of a change of pace and it had been a very slow Thursday, but they’d apparently put John in some distress, and that was unacceptable.

Then again, he’d not have met John if they’d not been kidnapped.

Once he and John had escaped and Mycroft had imprisoned their entire organisation in some sort of government bunker that didn’t officially exist, perhaps he would send flowers.

“Your brother?” John asked, clearly having grasped the least important part.

“Works for the government. Well, when I say works for…”

“Guessing not, say, a postman, though.”

Oh, but that was a lovely mental image. “Not as such, no.”

“So… How long d’you think it’ll take this brother of yours to track you down?”

“Shouldn’t be more than forty-seven hours by this point, given the likely preponderance of CCTV footage of my abduction.”

“So that’s you sorted, then,” John said, cheerful.

“It just means we’ve got less than forty-six hours to escape. I refuse to let that fat git have the satisfaction of rescuing me. He’d be insufferable about it.”

“We?”

Surely John wasn’t that big an idiot. “I’m hardly going to leave you here, John.”

“That’s… thanks, Sherlock.”

***

It actually took only another seventeen hours to get out. Once Sherlock had flirted with one of the researchers enough to get her to take her hair down and then stolen a bobby pin while she wasn’t looking, it was only a matter of waiting until the night patrol had completed one of their rounds and then picking his cell lock.

He was halfway through picking John’s when he noticed his palms were a bit sweaty.

“Everything alright out there?” John asked.

“Fine, just…” Sherlock wiped his hands on his scrubs before returning them to the lock. It was fine, it was John behind the door, he’d get to finally see what he looked like and they’d escape and he’d get to see how John was when they weren’t trapped together and there was nothing to be nervous about at all.

The lock clicked open.

John cleared his throat. “I realise it’s just a bit late, but there’s probably something I should mention…”

The door swung inward.

“They weren’t actually entirely wrong when they grabbed me…” John Watson was shorter than him, as he’d suspected. Solidly built, with a handsome, expressive face and short, dishwater blonde hair, all fitting within possible parameters.

The gigantic brown and cream wings, though, were decidedly unexpected.

“I always miss something…” Sherlock whispered to himself.

John rubbed a hand against his forehead. “Yeah. John Watson. Hi. Nice to put a face to a voice.”

“You didn’t bother to mention this earlier?”

“Honestly, I didn’t think you’d believe me.”

“Well, I could hardly have been expected to deduce it, it’s completely illogical.” Sherlock carefully reached out and traced the soft marginal coverts with the tips of his fingers. John shuddered slightly.

“Look, can we continue this once we’ve properly escaped?”

Sherlock pulled his hand away reluctantly. “Yes, of course.”

“I’d have escaped earlier, but somehow, in between that New Age mishmash of god-knows-what covering the walls, they managed to put one bloody sigil that actually did something.” John explained. “I haven’t even been able to hide them like I usually can, and in a room this small it is fucking inconvenient.” As he spoke, his wings stretched out slightly, the ends of the primaries brushing against the walls in a way that looked decidedly uncomfortable. John immediately pulled them back in to lay folded against his back, crossing his arms as he did so.

As soon as they exited the room, John’s wings vanished, disappearing in a way Sherlock would never have believed if he hadn’t watched it happen. The mass just went… elsewhere… and it took considerable willpower to not touch John again, to run a hand down John’s back to see if he could feel any signs of their presence or attachment points.

He settled for grabbing John’s hand, pulling him wordlessly through the facility.

They finally emerged into, of all things, a parking structure.

“Should be able to hotwire a car, head for London…” John said, already peering around for a likely looking vehicle.

“Dinner?” Sherlock asked.

“Dinner?” John echoed. Clearly he was having a delayed response to the shock of escaping.

“That’s what people do, isn’t it? Besides, I’m sure you’d appreciate eating something that wasn’t out of a ration pack.”

People do, yes, Sherlock, but…”

Sherlock continued, ignoring John’s sputtering response, “I know a wonderful little place back in London, Italian, owner owes me a favour…”

“Sherlock…”

“And then we can head back to my flat, I’ve some experiments I need to run…”

“Sherlock, we’ve only just escaped from being test subjects, I’ve no interest in being your…”

“…I’m wondering, for example, exactly how sensitive your feathers are, and long it will take for me to bring you to orgasm using only my tongue.”

“You’ve… what?” John grabbed Sherlock, spinning him around slightly so they were facing each other. John’s eyes were wide and his mouth open slightly as he searched Sherlock’s face for… something. Sherlock watched intently as John’s tongue darted out to touch his lips, tried to catalogue the colours present in his brown-blonde-grey hair under the fluorescent lighting.

John’s eyes were blue, a deeper shade than Sherlock’s, and his pupils were heavily dilated. “Experiments, you say.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed, unwilling to break eye contact.

“Well, if it’s for science.”

“Certainly.”

John grinned. “Lead on.”

 
 
 
Bookish Hooliganyeomanrand on July 2nd, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
I can't remember if I commented on the holmestice post, but I loved it there and I love it here.
impulsereaderimpulsereader on July 2nd, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic! I love it to pieces!

Your John and Sherlock are spot on and your dialogue is so completely hilarious, this is just awesome. Sherlock being offended about them handing out PhDs like candy and their getting one bloody sigil right - priceless, really.

I enjoyed this immensely, thanks for sharing!
selkie: Worried Johnselkie on July 3rd, 2012 01:30 am (UTC)
Brilliant! I adore this little world :).
WinterOfOurDiscontentwinter_hermit on July 11th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
Thank you!
tardis_stowaway: in a land of myth sherlocktardis_stowaway on July 3rd, 2012 07:00 am (UTC)
Ha, unexpected wing!fic! That is awesome. :D

I love the snark in this piece. It's a clever, LOL-worthy story with just the right touch of Sherlock/John romance.
WinterOfOurDiscontentwinter_hermit on July 11th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
There is no wrong kind of wingfic. ^_^

Glad you found it funny! Humour is a tricky beast.
keerawakeerawa on July 3rd, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
*laughs* That was a delightful twist! Sherlock's experiments sound very important; and call for lots of repetition to make sure the results are vaild.
WinterOfOurDiscontentwinter_hermit on July 11th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Also charts. And graphs. Possibly diagrams.
il advint qu'un beau soir;falling_voices on July 3rd, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
That one was yours! Loved it then, love it now. Especially the reveal in the end — the way you played with humanity and inhumanity and the fact that neither Sherlock nor John are quite what they are supposed or expected to be, either by themselves or by each other; your Sherlock is a sceptic who defies the laws of the world himself, a walking paradox who meets another walking paradox, and hello, is this a metaphor for the show itself? Also, the call-back to Doyle: p e r f e c t — Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as stories who talk about stories are among my favourite tropes about them, and you executed it flawlessly. Well done!
WinterOfOurDiscontent: John in Fieldwinter_hermit on July 15th, 2012 04:17 am (UTC)
I think you've officially left a comment better than the original fic.

Thank you!

Edited at 2012-07-15 04:17 am (UTC)
BrightEyes: Misc: Science!brighteyed_jill on July 4th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
I heart you so much. This was delightful! I love Sherlock's disdain for their methods, and John's careful answers. And wings are sexxxxxxxy!!!! You can prove it with science, which I'm glad Sherlock understands.
WinterOfOurDiscontent: John in Fieldwinter_hermit on July 11th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
John is also sexy. That's just science.