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Sherlock Fic: Echoes - CaffieneKittySpace
('i' before 'e' if you're looking for me)
Sherlock Fic: Echoes
Title: Echoes
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC 2010)
Disclaimer: Not my world or my characters.
Rating/Warnings: Gen/Squint. PG. Weird.
Word Count: 1630 words
A/N: Started writing this several weeks ago intending to post it for Halloween which obviously didn't happen. Finished while under the influence of massive amounts of cold and flu medication and a moderate fever. So yeah. Weird. [LJ-only]
Beta/Britpicking: Beta'd by bellatemple and ciaranbochna and Britpicked by aranellaurelote
Summary: There are places of such significance that they wear down the walls between worlds, but only on certain nights.

by CaffieneKitty

The melancholy notes of a violin skirling up from the floor below woke John in the middle of the night. Not the first time for that, but the first time it had happened while Sherlock was in Portugal. The dog-end of October was better spent in a warmer climate than cold, foggy London, but John had stayed behind; flu season, surgery gone mad with patients and several doctors out sick themselves meant plenty of locum work.

Probably just a radio or something. He'd tried to tidy while Sherlock was away but had gotten mired in trying to determine what was garbage and what was experiment and settled for removing health hazards and clearing the sitting room enough to see large portions of every flat surface. There could very well be an unknown radio in one of the piles, switched on when something shifted in the night.

The music kept playing as John swung his legs out of bed and into the cold night air. It continued as he descended the stairs, trailing off as he entered the empty sitting room.

Sherlock's violin was of course in its usual place, quite placid. No sign of a radio. A fire burned in the grate, although John couldn't remember setting one. It flickered cheerily, lending everything a fond yellow glow. The air smelled of tobacco smoke, cigarettes or a pipe. Something Sherlock had left in the grate perhaps, or someone smoking on the street below.

As John listened, two men's muffled voices began to converse. They could also be outside, but it seemed closer than that. The voices discussed governesses and long red hair. Some of the phrasing seemed over-wrought, as with a more archaic style of speech.

Mrs. Hudson must be watching something, Inspector Morse, or some Victorian costume drama. That would also explain the violins. Awfully late night for her. She must have dosed off with the set on.

A rattle of wood and iron and the clip-clop of horses hooves sounded in the street outside.

It was startling, but not alarming. Someone having a joke, or some kind of special carriage rental like they had in some of the parks. Could be someone nicked one for a joyride. John went to look out but only saw a cab passing.

Maybe I am hearing things. Violins, horses. He rested his forehead against the cold window pane, his breath fogging the glass as he watched the black cab glide along the street. It had been a long shift at the surgery and having the flat to himself had lost its appeal days ago. John closed his eyes and let the cold soak into his forehead.

"You observe, but you do not see," said one of the muffled voices, seeming closer than Mrs. Hudson's telly.

John opened his eyes and the street outside looked different; cobblestones and lamplight. A hansom cab clattered along the street, driver idly flicking the reins. A woman in a full green-toned gown walked along the road beside a man in an old-fashioned suit and hat. He held a walking stick as though he anticipated trouble, but nothing stopped the couple's progress down the street and around the corner.

Not fully accepting what he was seeing, John looked further up the road. Street lamps flickered dimly, and the few houses with light in their windows showed a golden tone that echoed the fires of the lamps. A low fog crept around the buildings' foundations. Nowhere in the dark street was there a traffic light or street sign or flash of neon advertising in a shop window.

A low, rich voice spoke; a voice so familiar John didn't jump, even though he'd swear he'd never heard it before.

"Was ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world?" the voice said. "See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material?"

It's not that bad, John thought, not quite up to responding out loud to what was most likely an imaginary voice. It's still London.

John loved London. He'd always felt... he couldn't explain it even to himself. Like he was an iron filing and London was a magnet, drawing him in. London or something in it. He felt protective of it; huge sprawling metropolis with its roots in ancient Roman forts, and John Watson felt like it needed protected by him. Hubris, or maybe army training there.

In London, he fit. No matter how far away he'd gotten, he'd known he'd come back. He'd had a similar feeling when he met Sherlock, and when he'd first walked into the flat. Something fitting into place. Not like he was meant to be here, in 221B Baker Street with Sherlock, nothing like destiny or fate; that was bollocks. Not fate, just... fitting.

With only slight trepidation of there actually being someone standing in the room with him, John turned slowly towards where he'd heard the voice. Of course no one was there, but he found his view of the room had a curious double-vision.

The light in the standing lamp flickered like flame. The TV seemed transparent; embossed spines of books showed through it in dark blues, browns, and greens.

John blinked and rubbed his eyes. Half-asleep, dog tired, trick of the light.

He took a step towards the hearth. At a distance the clasp knife pinning the unopened post to the mantle had looked more like a dagger but it was the same as ever when he got closer. The skull was still the skull. Perhaps it had started speaking since being supplanted by John, missing its long chats with Sherlock. He patted the skull apologetically, since doing that was no more ridiculous than his changed view of the world.

The flat felt old tonight, older than it was, far older. For a wild moment John thought if he looked back in history, all the way back to when this land was forests and fields and the Roman fort of Londinium wasn't even a twinkle in Emperor Claudius's eye, there would be a great stone or something here, where the defenders of whatever tribe of Britons claimed this area would meet to solve the problems of the tribespeople and discuss strategy. The wise man and the warrior.

John laughed at himself. "My Jung is showing."

He most definitely did not hear a low chuckle in response.

Maybe it's a ghost, John thought, not finding the idea as ridiculous as he would in the light of day with electric street-lights and cars driving past, booming music loud enough to shake the glass in the windows.

Who else had lived here in this house? It was an old building, one that had survived the wars. He'd caught half of a programme before bed, something about the history of a single house from its construction to its current life as modern flats. It was fascinating the amount of life lived in places like this. He'd seen old burns in the floor under the carpets, scrubbed and waxed over for decades. When he'd re-plastered, he found that Sherlock's smiley face hadn't been the only damage done to these walls over the years.

That programme was likely where this nonsense of seeing things as other than they were was coming from. That would teach him to watch educational programming before bed.

The curious doubling of vision faded. John turned to the window and the street was familiar once again, blazing with electric lights. A black cab swept past, tyres hushing along the wet pavement. Somewhere further away, a siren wailed. Returned to normal, it seemed.

The violin began to play again, not muffled through the floor at all, but in the sitting room, crisp and clear. John flicked his gaze to where Sherlock's violin still stood quiescent, then stepped towards it and laid his finger across the strings. No vibration.

The music was soothing in itself, not so soothing coming from nowhere in a room John knew didn't have a misplaced radio. He began to wonder if he should be worried by how unbothered he was by all this.

I must be dreaming.

If this was all just a dream he'd had far worse. He was sure he'd woken up though. Maybe it was a ghost of some long-gone prior occupant; it didn't seem to be an aggressive ghost if so.

The fire still crackled in the grate and the violin played on. Standing next to the fire John could feel the warmth. He could feel the low, slow notes of the invisible violin as a vibration as well as sound, as though he was standing right next to the instrument being played in the empty room. Again he smelled pipe-smoke.

John shook his head. He never dreamt in this much clear detail outside of nightmares from Afghanistan. This didn't feel like a dream at all. He was as lucid as he ever was. He also didn't believe in ghosts whether it was dark, daylight or the 19th century. This was something different. This was...

"Absolute nonsense, my dear Watson. You're dreaming. Go back to bed."

John wasn't sure for a moment if he'd said that to himself or if it had been the same rich, smoke-roughened voice from before.

John glanced around the room with a laugh. "Of course I'm dreaming." Educational programming and waking up in the night to the soundtrack of some costume drama was all it took to do his head in, apparently. Also Sherlock might very well have left the remains of an experiment in the grate and it was filling the sitting room with some sort of chemical hallucinogen.

The flat was too quiet; that was the real problem. Sherlock would be home again tomorrow or the next night, rattling around at all hours as usual, and all would be as it should be.

John went back upstairs to his room, followed by the singing of an impossible Stradivarius.

- - -
(that's all)

ETA: chocolateteacup has written a Victorian-era side to this story, called Whispers which is quite nifty.
ETA2: Now available as a combined podfic by podlizzie

Tags: , ,
Current Mood: nervous nervous

44 comments or Leave a comment
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joyeuses From: joyeuses Date: November 6th, 2010 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is just lovely.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 6th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
sarlania From: sarlania Date: November 6th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 6th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
mogwai_do From: mogwai_do Date: November 6th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooo I like this. The blending of past and present is just enough - not too blatant, not too subtle. It has a very nice mood too, quiet. Very nice.

It would be nice to see Sherlock cope with a similar scenario - I'm sure he'd have more to say on the matter than John (past or present).
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 6th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, thank you! Yeah, Sherlock would have a lot more to say about things if he found himself in a similar situation.
chocolateteacup From: chocolateteacup Date: November 6th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was amazing. I was almost too afraid to breathe while I was reading. I'm going to wait until it gets dark and then read it again by candlelight.

If you don't object and haven't got one planned yourself, may I write a sequel of sorts, please?
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 6th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was amazing. I was almost too afraid to breathe while I was reading. I'm going to wait until it gets dark and then read it again by candlelight.

High praise indeed! Thank you! :-)

If you don't object and haven't got one planned yourself, may I write a sequel of sorts, please?

...I don't think I've ever been asked that... sure, I guess, as long as there's a link back to this one. Plot-bunnies come from the strangest places!
(Deleted comment)
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 6th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
durffy From: durffy Date: November 6th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
This has such a hushed, poetic feel to it. Loved it!
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 10:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)
batgurl10 From: batgurl10 Date: November 6th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really really enjoyed reading this! It all melded together wonderfully spooky! I loved the references to Roman times...I love history and I dont know enough about london (shame on me) and its truly ancient roots. Its facinating that u tied them back so far. Like sentries--protecting the city. If u believe in reincarnation it would make sense that those r roles they have been playing since the beginning. I dig it! but also loved how creepy the idea of brett Holmes as a ghost . In a nutshell, this was Tre shizzle Bomb! wonderfully creepy little fic and I too missed sherlocks energy :)

cant wait to read any oneoffs that get posted
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, and I'm glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)
lucifer2004xx From: lucifer2004xx Date: November 7th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
loved it.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)
malevolent73 From: malevolent73 Date: November 7th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC) (Link)
That was haunting and beautiful. Really amazing. :)
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
ciaranbochna From: ciaranbochna Date: November 7th, 2010 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Apparitions of another age--perfect:)

Also may need your lovely beta skills very soon. Got a bit carried away with whumping:P
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 7th, 2010 11:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Just email me when ready, this email address.
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: November 7th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderfully atmospheric!
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 8th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
charis_kalos From: charis_kalos Date: November 9th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
This is brilliant! I love it. It's such a resonant story, if that makes sense.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 9th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Indeed it does, thank you!
ungalad From: ungalad Date: November 14th, 2010 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I love it! :3 It was cool. I'm a sucker for fics that mix the original universe with "Sherlock" like this. Thanks for sharing.
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: November 15th, 2010 06:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
44 comments or Leave a comment
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