rest of the world

Keith Doesn’t Defend Himself

I noticed something really sad yesterday. Keith has a habit of letting people get off deeply personal emotional attacks on him without defending himself. I can think of three specific occasions on the show where he has been personally attacked and just turned the other cheek.

1.) In the first episode, Lance called him a dropout, Keith just congratulated Lance on making fighter pilot and moved on.

2.) In the Blade of Mamora, Lance began yelling about how Keith would blow the mission to the BoM base because he’s a hot head. Keith didn’t say a single word in his own defense.

3.) After his heritage was revealed, Allura started glaring at him and refusing to speak to him. He never once spoke up about how he had done nothing to deserve this treatment. He just accepted her hatred.

It happens often enough through out the series, it sets a definite pattern for Keith’s character. Almost like he expects people to treat him this way, and has decided that this is just how the world works for him.

It makes the scene of illusion Shiro calling him selfish all the more emotional, because for once, he isn’t passively accepting someone’s bad opinion of him. The rest of the world he expects to think of him as dirt, but Shiro is supposed to be different in his mind.

Interlude

2 weeks.

He meets her in Paris. In a small café on a busy street corner.
She is sitting at one of the tables outside in the sun.
She’s smoking.
As his shadow falls on her, she slowly lifts her eyes.
Her full lips twist into a smile.

“Mr. Holmes,” she says, putting out her cigarette.

“Ms. Adler,” he replies calmly and takes off his hat.

Irene tilts her head, scrutinizing him. His dyed hairs, now light brown and short. His eyes shimmering in an unfamiliar brown. Contact lenses. He wears everyday jeans and a big sweater. His disguise is not extravagant. But it is enough.

“Is this going to be our dinner after all?” She finally asks, raising an eyebrow.

She almost elicits a smile from him. Almost.
He sits down with her.
There is a lot of activity around them. People rush past, on their way to work. A few playing children rush through the tables, giggling and cheering. They avoid an angry waiter and disappear in an alley. A dog barks after them.

“I read it in the paper,” Irene says, stirring her coffee. “Spectacular. But of course I did not believe it for a moment. ”

“Of course,” says Sherlock. He is not surprised. She probably even waited for his message. She is smart. Maybe the smartest of them all. Because she did not just see the surface. She has taken a look behind his facade. She knows that he knows.

“So this is where it starts?” She asks after a moment of silence.

“Yes. Here it starts. Moriarty’s network is complex. But every knot can be loosened,” Sherlock says.

She nods and takes a sip of her coffee. “I have a condition,” she says.

Sherlock looks at her, questioningly.

“If I’m to help you, Mr. Holmes, then you’re going to promise me that you’ll tell him, in the end. When you return to London.”

She does not have to continue. He knows what she wants to say.
The words hit him hard. They remind him of what he left behind in London. He swallows and looks at his hands, which lie folded on the table. “He would not want to hear it. He … ”

Suddenly, her hand is on his and he looks up. Meets her open eyes. “He wants to hear it, Sherlock. Believe me. He does. You should stop thinking that you don’t deserve the happiness that is actually within your grasp. It is not too late. You still have it in your hand.”
She squeezes his hand and smiles.

He wishes he could believe her. He can’t.
But he promises her anyway.

~

A few weeks and first arrests later, the network of knots and connected lines has expanded and not diminished.
Sherlock understands that it will take longer than expected.
He leaves France and Irene Adler with a certain melancholy.
Because he has to travel the rest of the way alone.

*

6 months.

The world that Sherlock has entered is dark and full of abysses.
Intrigues, lies and atrocities are everywhere.
The men who serve the spider, even after his death, are unscrupulous.
Sherlock finds them one after one.
He joins them.
Imitates them.
Lives their lives.

He has the feeling of breaking a piece of himself every day.

His nights are restless. The few hours of sleep he gets are pervaded by nightmares.
Sometimes he dreams of John.
Of John, committing suicide.
John, losing his mind.
John, never learning the truth. Because Sherlock is not there to tell him.In these moments, he is only too aware of what he otherwise tries to repress.
He is in love with John.
And Moriarty achieved his goal.
He burned the heart out of Sherlock’s chest.

Because what’s worse than knowing that the person you love thinks you didn’t want to exist anymore?

*

1 year.

He meets John in Oklahoma.

It’s just one of the many “Johns” he comes across on his travels. These are fleeting encounters that usually consist of little more than a few mumbled words. Sometimes the “Johns” are shopkeepers or gas station attendants.
Sometimes they are homeless people or street musicians.
They are always people that are easy to forget.
But the pain that follows the encounters, and the images they bring to the surface, are not so easy to repress.

This time, “John” is a student. It’s the first “John” he doesn’t consult for a case.

He meets him in a bar.
The first eye contact between them is only fleeting. But eyes involuntarily twitch back to the starting point. Collect information. The tall man at the table in the corner smiles and pushes a bubble gum from the right to the left corner of his mouth. His eyes are deep blue. His hair is sandy blond.
Sherlock sips his drink and drums a nervous rhythm on the counter with his fingertips. He averts his eyes and looks at the clock on the wall opposite him.
It’s late, but way too early to go to a dreary hotel room and sleep for a few restless hours. Steps beside him interrupt his thoughts.
It is the young man.
Long time student. Gay. Smokes too much. Cat owner …

“John,” says the man, reaching out a hand. Sherlock flinches involuntarily.

Of course …
He runs a hand over his mouth and tries to smile. “William.” He squeezes the offered hand. It’s warm and dry.
They don’t say much more before they get up in silent agreement and go to the restrooms.
More isn’t really necessary for this.
The toilet is abandoned. It smells of alcohol and urine.
On the wall, offensive graffiti overlap with obscene scribbles and barely legible phone numbers.
Sherlock doesn’t care.
He is slightly drunk and aroused.
He is warm. The cool wall on which he leans is a sharp contrast to the heat his body seems to emit.
He leans his head back and blinks into glaring neon light.
He puts a hand on John’s head.

The orgasm is bitter. Not what he expected. But probably what he deserves.

Later, when he is in his dreary hotel room, he takes his head in both hands and spends half the night like that.

~

He finds death somewhere in Baghdad - almost.
In the shape of a heavily built man with cold eyes.
The fight is short but fierce.
Sand whirls around them as they wrestle.
The man is strong. He is a killer. Killing is his world. His reality. He has no qualms.
Sherlock is the opposite. And for a moment he thinks

this is the end.

The man breaks some ribs. The pain is blazing white.
He cries out and for a moment the world goes black. As the colors return, the man has both hands around his neck - and presses.
Sherlock gasps for breath and his hands brush through the hot sand. After something. Something …
Then: a rock.
Sherlock grabs it and gathers all his remaining strength.
He hits the stone against the man’s temple. Once. Twice.
The man grunts and lets go of him. Drops to the side. Unconscious.
Sherlock stares at the motionless figure and breathes heavily.
Something rattles in his lungs and he coughs.
His chest is burning. Ribs. Broken. Two? Three?
He barely makes it to a doctor.

That night, he recovers an old friend. Morphine.

~

He withdraws in India. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in an abandoned building. It is hell.
A street dog with a broken leg keeps him company sometimes. Sherlock shares his bread with him and buries his face in the - lousy? - soft fur when the pain laces his throat and takes his breath away.
The dog patiently waits and licks Sherlock’s face. He surely knows pain.
After a few days, when the withdrawal symptoms disappear, the dog doesn’t come back.
Sherlock wants to imagine that he had found a pack. Or had been brought to a doctor by someone.
Maybe.

*

23 months.

He is in Serbia when everything goes to hell.

The hotel room is full of dust and spiderwebs. Somewhere, pop music blares without pause and without meaning.
He can’t sleep anyway.
He stares at his cell phone. At the words he typed. The words he will send to John.
They blur before his eyes.
He blinks hard and runs a hand over his face. Although it is freezing, here in Serbia, he sweats without ceasing.
“John. I’m not dead. I’ll be back soon. I’m sorry. I can explain everything. - SH”
He takes a deep breath. His thumb hovers over the key that will send this message.
And almost immediately he hears Mycroft’s voice in his head.

Too soon, Sherlock. Too. Soon.

It’ll be over soon, Sherlock thinks. It’s over soon and I … I can’t do this anymore.
Two years.
Two years have almost passed.
I want to hear his voice.
I want … I want him to know that I exist.
I want to go back.


But in the end, he deletes the message. Because it is too soon indeed.

I want to go back …

The thought dominates him and urges the information about his next - and last, finally last … - mission in the background of his mind palace …
The next day he makes the first mistake. He knocks over a domino and triggers a chain reaction, at the end of which he finds himself in a cellar and learns how insignificant any physical pain he had felt until then, was compared to the agony of torture.

*

2 years.

He is back and London hasn’t changed.
It’s like time has stopped here.
Well, it didn’t stop for him.
He carries a bag full of memories he doesn’t want.
Some of the memories are burned on his body.
Scars that may never disappear.
He is at home and yet not at home.
In London, but not in Baker Street.
He looks out the window of his hospital room and wonders where John is now.
Mycroft has forbidden him any contact.
Not yet.
Later.
Patience.
But Sherlock has been waiting long enough.
Mycroft looked hurt when Sherlock’s fist hit his chin. But there had been understanding in his eyes. And a certain amount of pity that hit Sherlock harder than anything else.
Sherlock lowers his head.
He still feels a dull ache in his back that constantly reminds him of the past two years. And the bitter ending. Bandages can stop bleeding. But they don’t stop memories.
As the door opens behind him, he awaits Mycroft and murmurs softly, “Piss off. I don’t want to talk. Not if you put the word patience in your mouth again.”
But instead of a snappy remark, he hears a loud gasp.
It sounds frightened and incredulous.
Sherlock frowns and slowly turns around.
He freezes.
John.
John stands in the door and stares at him. With eyes wide open.
Sherlock swallows. “John,” he says softly.
John.
It is John.
The true, the right John.
John.


“Sher … Sherlock,” John stumbles and a tear falls slowly over his cheek.

Time seems to stand still as they look at each other.
At some point, Sherlock says softly, “I’m sorry, John.”
And John slowly walks towards him.
Sherlock closes his eyes. He expects so many things.
Shouting.
Maybe even punches.
After all, that is what he deserves.
But he does not expect John to pull him into his arms.
Hugging him softly. Careful, avoiding pressure on his back.  – So he already knows … - and beginning to cry silently at his chest.
Sherlock returns the hug after a brief moment of shock.

“Where have you been,” John murmurs barely audible.

“Far away,” Sherlock says tonelessly. “Too far away.”

And as John holds him, as they hold each other, Sherlock suddenly knows it’s true. John wants to hear it. He wants to hear it.
Maybe it’s really not too late.
After all, what can he lose now?
So he tells John.
And fulfills a promise.


Corrected by @bakerstreet-irregular, thank you <3

Also on AO3: Interlude

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