TITLE: Of Amber Which Has Lain With Roses
FANDOM: Sherlock BBC
WORD COUNT & RATING: 1,500 & T
SUMMARY: No spoilers.
Marleybone has become a kind of dark, beckoning doorway. His hesitation on the threshold stings like a festering splinter, but he had stepped over regardless and now has found himself in a new place. It is a place of great transformation signaled by the smallest of exterior shifts. It has become an interior shattering and re-piecing of himself and he knows this to be true because every night the dreams come and tell him his suppositions are correct. The consummate journaler he has them all caught and saved and occasionally considers booking an appointment with the head-shrinker just to be able to read them aloud to another human being. To perhaps boast a bit? He doesn’t know and the temptation doesn’t stick very long and he rarely re-reads them himself. He just wakes and reaches for the biro and the small wire-bound - he feels the dreams need to be in long-hand - and writes as though taking dictation.
He has just woken from a complicated dreamscape wherein the story of it was similar to a skein of yarn thrown out the second floor window and unspooling itself as it fell to solid ground. He pens the last fleeting sentence of the memory of it. He closes his eyes slightly in order to see the black and white dimly lit dream….I come down the stairs, he is wearing my pyjama pants and seated barefooted in the living room with a cello locked between his knees….That’s the last of it but he feels confident that he’s caught the thing in its entirety. (The dreams never really have any true ending, no resolution, rather they are upside-down vignettes.) He scans the page quickly, the familiar scrawl, then tucks the book between mattress and box spring and turns off the lamp and curls back under the bed clothes, closes his eyes and plummets into a technicolour brain film from which he will wake with no conscious remembering of it at all. These are, actually, the dreams responsible for the breaking and mending of his psyche and he is ignorant of them entirely.
Downstairs, on the warm side of her four-poster, she moves slightly beneath the bed clothes. The millefleur counterpane she had crocheted for her hope chest lies neatly folded across the worn wingback chair in the corner. The marriage had stunk but the coverlet still smells of hope. After all these decades of lost years.
Her legs scissor. She is dreaming. Of the boy she should have married instead of the boy she did. And in her dream he is the lanky young man who lives upstairs. In the dream this makes perfect sense and she cannot believe that he is here; just living in the flat above and that she has the key to let herself in or out of his life. He is standing in the kitchen, it is a disastrous mess of broken crockery and the electric kettle is boiling furiously. She clucks her tongue at him and digs through the piles of ceramic shards and finds her mother’s teapot and fills it. Behind her, he slips his arms around her waist and she is leaning back into him and she cannot breathe for wanting him so very, very much. “Please, kiss me,” she begs of him and he turns her in his arms and he is kissing her unreservedly. He is kissing her unlike any way she has ever been kissed before, but this passionate embrace is now hers to explore. In his arms. He is holding her fast and hard against himself.
In the conscious part of her brain she is overcome with longing, a terrible longing, and she wakes crying.
She reaches over to the bedside table and switches on the lamp. “Silly, silly,” she admonishes herself and wipes her face dry with a corner of the bed sheet.
They are in her bed, in her flat, in Shepard’s Bush. He is not rangy enough, not long enough in limb. Not droll enough? This makes her smile into his shoulder and he responds, ignorant to the fact that the gesture is not for him. He could not, would not, ever imagine upon whom her mind is transfixed. He turns his face towards her and whispers nonsense and then she does smile for him. He has convinced himself that she is his alone. She has convinced herself that he will do; he is a good man, solid and substantial.
Theirs is a quick coupling, devoid of creativity but it satisfies. (Their strength together is in the time before, the domestic dinner and telly watching. The pretend homemaking, the simple humble food, the ease of the sofa and a glass of sherry and small talk that numbs them into a quiet comfort.)
Afterwards, they move apart, his hand heavy on the small of her back, her hands tucked beneath her chin. They fall into sleep. He dreams he is a father, a husband, coming home at night to his domicile, his wife, his family, having done an honest day’s work but leaving the Yard behind. She dreams she is clad in a miniskirt, a tight-fitting chevron-emblazoned jumper made of cashmere, and is kicking about elegantly in knee-high leather boots with heels. She dreams she is a Bond Girl and Sherlock is the spy who loves her.
In St. James, he tosses and turns. He wonders if he cannot rest because the weight of the world is pressing down upon him. (He snickers, actually snickers, thinking of Sherlock’s reaction if told of this rationalization by the insomniac. Smiles at the thought of what Sherlock would say if he dared to insist upon the truth in such a sentiment.) He leans up in bed, the sleep mask still in place, steadies himself on one elbow, and reaches for the bottle of Zolpidem and the glass of flat water. He knows the objects by familiarized feel, he does not need a lamp. He swallows the tablet, grimaces, and returns to supine. His eyes are still closed and he directs his mind towards a beckoning blank vista but instead it rolls backwards, to his boyhood, to a summer morning in the park. Sherlock a baby in short pants, leading him by the hand around the fountain. He drifts into a gauzy sleep, the sedative softening the edges of memories that cut.
He could be anywhere - Berlin, St. Petersburg, Los Angeles, Sao Paolo - but he is in Lambeth. He is not asleep, not because of the dreams, but because sleep is akin to death and death is so manifestly BORING. (He prefers fantasy to dream nonetheless because of the aspect of control.)
The bustling of Chelsea is hushed behind the heavy drapes of her minimalist flat. She is alone, black silk pyjamas, black satin bed clothes, she glides beneath, between, and reaches into the black lacquered bedside table and fishes out her favourite toy. She closes her eyes and bites her lower lip, reaching for the mental film, spooling it on and off, watching the images flicker inside mind. This time…she licks her upper lip slowly, yes, Mycroft and, yes, that’s it, perfect…just there, yes. Her brow furrows at the sudden introduction of Dr. Watson, but she presses on, allows his presence in her fantasy, goes with it without question, the three of them are inside the Mercedes limo. Both men are wearing black Valentino “Newmans” and John is not wearing socks. (Mycroft fades out of the film.) It is just herself and Sherlock’s doctor. She urges him to his knees between her own. He is whispering her name, Athene, like a prayer, a kind of pleading and this is what pushes her over her own edge and into the delicious void.
On the second floor of 221B Baker Street, in his bedroom, in his bed, he is on his back, lying as though in state. The long-fingered hands folded one across the other over his chest, he can feel the rise and fall of his ribcage, the lone beating of his heart. For no apparently obvious reason he suddenly thinks of the boroughs of Londontown, considering the scurrying of life within. In his mind he devolves the aerial of the city into a grassy knoll in the country, the burrows of the rabbit warren mapped out beneath the meadow. This makes him smile with an a-ha moment as he suddenly understands the otherwise muddy metaphor of that book about the rabbits written by his countryman. His mind is not one for lyricism, metaphor, simile, or even poetry. This small break- through brings comfort, though - perhaps he isn’t as different from others as he so often feels. Fears.
He breathes out, empties his lungs, then pulls the cool air of his room deep into his body, holds it there. He should be practicing extending the length of time he can hold his breath without losing consciousness but he cannot concentrate on that right now. Twenty-three minutes prior he’d woken from a strange and strangely colourful dream (he remembers that in the dream he is Einstein and that he is married and that his mate has become the margin big enough to hold the formula). He has been expelling it from the edges of his mind. He is teasing the probability that two elements chosen at random generate the symmetric group Sn.
He does not allow himself to return to sleep.