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The Study of the Four 5

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John rounded the corner into the main room, flopping into the spare chair against the wall as his thoughts spun.

"They were American," he breathed, gobsmacked.

"Yup," Sherlock agreed. He was lying flat on his back on the couch once again, fingertips pressed thoughtfully together.

John's amazed expression twisted into a scowl at Sherlock's nonchalance. "They were people, and you shut them up in bloody jars! " He leaned forward in his chair to give Sherlock's dark curls a hearty smack.

The detective flinched and clutched the back of his head, sitting up to stare at John, flummoxed. "It all worked out, didn't it?"

" 'Worked out--' You call that working out??" John hissed, careful not to shout now that he knew much smaller ears could be listening.

"Now we know who's been assisting with our most difficult cases," insisted Sherlock, lowering his voice to match John.

John nodded. "Yeah, we definitely know that. Turns out it was a couple of kids who you just scared half to death over a damn biscuit--!"

"It wasn't about the biscuit--!"

"Jesus…," John pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed heavily. "I'm too tired to argue with you. I'm going to bed."

"Excellent. Good night," Sherlock dropped back down to the couch, getting as comfortable as a six-foot man could on that couch.

John quickly kicked him off, asserting that he would take the couch so he could ensure that Sherlock wouldn't try anything else that night. While John got himself comfortable, he noticed Sherlock edging toward the kitchen in the corner of his eye.

"Hey…" he warned.

Sherlock threw his hands up dramatically, then gestured to the abandoned grocery bag on the floor.

"I'm putting. Away. The groceries," he pronounced, evidently offended by the lack of trust shown by his partner.

John conceded and settled down in his makeshift bed for the night. He kept an ear out while Sherlock worked in the kitchen, knowing exactly where the things he purchased were supposed to go so he'd be able to tell if the detective wandered. When he was certain that Sherlock was in bed, John finally allowed himself to sleep.

It had been over a year, but the ex-soldier still prided himself on his light slumber.



The next day dawned, and by unspoken agreement, the brothers did not leave their home to snitch food from the kitchen. They only talked in a hush, on edge from the previous day’s events. The closest they came to venturing out during the morning was a quick trip to the shelf of books they lived next to. Their front door let out behind the tomes, cleverly disguised so it would go unnoticed if anyone grabbed a book from the shelf. Dean peered through the small openings between each book, checking from time to time to see what the two humans were up to.

He wasn't sure what was keeping him from packing up and bundling Sam out of the flat. Maybe it was the fact that Sam really could use some rest. Or something in Dean thought it would be more dangerous to take his injured brother out into the world with no real idea where they could find safety and sanctuary. Even back when they'd first moved here, they'd had help getting there from the family that helped raise them and adopted them after their escape from their 'owners.' Dean's lip curled at the memory.

They kept in contact with their adopted family, and through them knew of others that lived in the city and had met some passerby, on their way to different destinations. It was distant knowledge, nothing that could help them in their present circumstance. Something in Dean didn't want to go back to the others, begging for their help.

He and Sam could figure things out. They'd gotten this far and survived.

"Dude!" Sam protested, trying to stand up from his nest.

Dean pushed Sam's shoulder, making him sit back down. "No," he said sternly. "You need to rest. We've got enough food to last."

Sam glanced over at the biscuits piled up by their back entrance, the one that lead to the kitchen. They stood there like a leftover pile of bricks, a few crumbs scattered around on the cloth Dean had placed them on. It was a welcome change from their normal scraps, but Sam knew the taste would soon sour after they had them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

He sighed. After the disaster the night before, they should be thankful they even had food.

"What's the plan?" Sam asked, letting himself slump back down in his nest of cloth. Though the bruises on his chest looked worse now, darker and more poignant, he knew they were healing. Soon he wanted to get back to their normal activities, not so completely shut away from the human world.

"First things first," Dean said gruffly, "We get you healthy. We'll figure out the rest then."

Sam smiled, but it was forced. He could see right through Dean's bluster.

They were both afraid.

"Right," he responded quietly, turning on his side. "We'll figure it out."

Maybe if they said it enough it would come true.



Dean watched Sam drift off again, his brow pinched with concern. They didn't get sick or injured very often, and though he remembered taking care of their father when he'd get home from a hunt time and time again, Dean didn't have access to the same supplies as before. He couldn't even make Sam a damn ice pack.

That was the thought that set him on his next course of action, and he snagged his duffel on his way out of the room, only pausing to make sure the hook and black thread were inside.

"This is friggin' stupid," he scolded himself, but Sam was in pain and John had promised to help them.

What else was he to do?



Clients continued to file in the next day, and Sherlock dismissed all of them. After things quieted down for the evening, John confronted Sherlock while the kettle boiled in preparation for tea.

"What are you playing at?" he demanded just as Sherlock stooped to pick up his violin. It was always propped against the detective's designated armchair, just as often as John's laptop lay in the seat of his. "You can't tell me that none of those cases were worth your time. We're lucky to receive half that number in a week."

"Boring," Sherlock answered simply, digging through a pile of discarded newspapers for the bow of his instrument.

John slumped into his chair, bordering on defeat. "Explain to me how you found every single one of those cases boring."

"Explain to me," shot back the detective, standing up straight, "how anything could be interesting after what we discovered."

In the moment of hesitation in which John was hard-pressed for a good answer for that, Sherlock stormed off into his bedroom where he could play his violin and think in peace. John sighed heavily and pulled out his phone, the end of his rope reached.

Get him out of the house, I'm BEGGING you.

Five minutes after John sent that text to Lestrade, Sherlock shot out of his room fully dressed, rambling about a corpse that had been mysteriously replaced in the dead of night. Before John could even consider tagging along, the detective was out of the house and on the street calling for a taxi. John grinned, content in the silence of the flat.

If there was one thing Sherlock Holmes loved, it was making Scotland Yard look like idiots.

An hour later, John was still alone, typing up responses to questions on his blog. He perked up when he thought he saw movement in the corner of his eye, and before he thought better of it, he glanced around.

"Hello?" He regretted speaking up as soon as he did it. Whether it was Sam or Dean or something else entirely or nothing at all, the last thing he wanted to do was seem overeager.

There was a long moment of silence, pregnant with expectation. Then, a shadow detached from the darkness that lurked behind the books on the shelf next to John. Dean hesitantly stepped into view, his leather jacket and jeans just so out of place on a man that stood under four inches in height.

His original intention of asking for ice for Sam was derailed by how fast John had picked up on his presence, and now he was more worried about how perceptive the two humans living there were. It was seeming more and more like the brothers were lucky they’d gone so long unnoticed.

“How’d you know I was there?” Dean asked, his voice restrained. He was starting to think that leaving might be more prudent, if the humans could track them down so fast. “Did you hear me?”

John chuckled awkwardly, feeling heat rise up his neck in embarrassment. "I, ah, thought I saw something," he explained. "When you live with Sherlock Holmes, you kind of pick up a few things when it comes to observation."

He glanced in Dean's direction, continually amazed by the small man's mere existence. He hoped that the absence of his younger brother was a sign that the lad was getting the rest he needed.

"Sorry if I startled you." He closed his laptop and set it at his feet, then sat carefully back and regarded Dean with thinly veiled concern.

Dean bristled at the implication. “You didn't startle me!” he protested. He stepped out into the light, up to the edge of the shelf as though to prove he wasn't intimidated by the human watching him from so close by.

With John’s hands empty, Dean knew the human was free to grab at the smaller man, yet he wasn’t afraid of being snatched up. John had plenty of chances to get them into his hands when he liberated them from the jars, yet he hadn't even insisted on being the one to check Sam's ribs, letting Dean take over. That earned a little trust in return.

“I just need to make sure my skills are sharp,” Dean explained. “It's hard enough getting around here already, if I'm slacking off, we'll never get supplies. I can't always count on Sam to be lookout.” He held his hands apart as though to say What can you do?

"Right, yeah, of course," John nodded in agreement, as was his automatic response to insistent justification. He got much more extreme answers from Sherlock all the time, and he responded to each one the same way.

"So, er." The doctor cleared his throat and turned in his chair to face a little more toward Dean. He couldn't keep his worries for Dean’s younger brother to himself anymore.  "How is Sam? Is he resting?"

Since Sam was the entire reason Dean was out in the open talking to a friggin’ giant, he couldn’t say he was overly surprised John was asking. Their need for the ice wasn’t the most pressing, but Dean desperately wanted to ease Sam’s pain.

“He’s resting,” Dean confirmed, crossing his arms over his chest. “He wanted to go out, but I made him stay back at our place.” Hopefully John didn’t pick up on the fact that back at our place was only half a foot away, if that. He knew that Sam could sleep through the human’s voice, after years of being around constant background noise.

“Look, Sam doesn’t know I’m out here,” Dean said, starting on his request with a hopeful look. “I was wondering if you could get us some more ice. He’s had a hard time sleeping. He normally lies on his chest, as sprawled out as he can get.”

John blinked, honestly a little surprised by the mention of secrecy between the brothers, considering how close they'd seemed the other day. But he supposed that as long as it was all for Sam's long-term benefit, it wasn't his place to pry.

"Absolutely. I'll go and fetch that right now, just a minute." With that, John stood and wasted no time making his way over to the freezer. He'd stashed the remnants of the ice cube he'd quartered last time in the empty space left in the mold. Moving the kettle off the heat just as it started whistling and turning off the stove, John dug out another small piece and quickly transferred it to the paper towels, wrapping it in two layers of torn corners.

"I'm afraid I can't give you more than one at a time," he informed Dean on his way back to the shelf. "They'd melt at the same rate, and then you'd just have a mess on your hands." John offered an amiable smile as he carefully placed the ever-dampening bundle near Dean and settled back into his armchair.

Dean knelt down, gathering the bundle up with his much-smaller hands and smoothing down the paper towel. “Yeah, I get it,” he said. “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

When he stood, the makeshift ice pack was gingerly held in his arms, an attempt to not get the water on himself a complete failure. “I suppose I can come back and get some more…” he stated cautiously, “unless Sherlock’s coming back…?” He left his worry hanging, remembering how fast the other man had grabbed them and put them into jars.

John's lips pursed, a little disheartened by Dean's trepidation. He knew it was warranted, but that wasn't exactly an encouraging thought either.

"Well, Sherlock always comes back eventually," John mused. "As for right now, he's just left to chase his tail down at Scotland Yard. I dunno when he'll be back, but I am keeping an eye on him.

"Oh, and if you wanted to keep this visit a secret, I'd be glad to keep it," he added, once again concerned that the smaller man's apprehensions might hold him back from seeking out help. "I know he can be… Intense feels like an understatement, now that I think of it."

Dean’s look hardened. “I just don’t want him getting any ideas in his head,” he snipped back as he bristled. “The last thing we need is any traps set and waiting for us. That’s why we’re not supposed to be seen,” he said with harsh emphasis on seen.

Dean stepped back, closer to the books and his perceived safety. “Bad enough we were caught last night, worse if there’s traps,” he said. “I don’t want to make Sam leave, but if it’s not safe for my little brother, we won’t have a choice.”

He darted into the darkness behind the books, determinedly diving into the walls before John could look for him. Dean leaned against the wall, breathing heavily.

What was he thinking, going to a human for help? They weren’t humans anymore, they could only rely on each other now.



John straightened at Dean's sudden exit, then slumped back down with a sigh. He was gone, and John was all alone. Again.

He reached down for his laptop and opened it up again, but he knew his heart wasn't in it before he'd even typed out a full sentence. He wished he'd had a chance to reassure Dean that there wouldn't be any traps, and that he and his brother were safe, when it occurred to him that he couldn't guarantee it. John had seen Sherlock react to killers, civilians, the police, old and new friends, and even his enemies. After all his time living with Sherlock-- a little over a year in all-- John had come to assume that he could predict how the detective might react to someone.

This was different. This time, Sherlock had surprised John in a most disturbing way. He had trapped Sam and Dean, and no matter what his reasons and excuses were, that was fundamentally wrong. They hadn't exactly sat down to talk about what should and shouldn't be done now that they knew about the tiny brothers, so John had no clue where Sherlock's moral compass was pointed.

"One more night," he promised himself aloud, snapping the laptop shut on his way out of the flat. From the way Dean was talking, it was safe to assume that he and Sam lived somewhere in the flat, hidden. No doubt Sherlock had already worked that out, so Dean's fear of traps wasn't groundless. So, John resolved to ignore his complaining back and sleep on the couch for one night more. If Sherlock tried anything, John would stop him. If he didn't, he'd sit the detective down and they would hash it out properly.

As he gathered his bedding and brought it downstairs, John longed for the day he didn't have to worry about every little thing Sherlock might be up to.
CHAPTER 5: One Small Step

Bros trying to lay low for a bit, but Dean can't just sit around if Sam's in any pain...

 
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Comments20
anonymous's avatar
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LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
That day will never come John, I'm sorry. XD This was great. Lastrase used as a distraction and Dean going to John for help. It'll come together eventually!
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Everyone's reeling from their first encounter, gotta let things get back to normal somehow. Hopefully.
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
Probably not. Let's face it, "normal" is shattered for everybody.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
So shattered and destroyed. 
Phoenix-FireMage's avatar
Phoenix-FireMageHobbyist General Artist
Sherlock is distracted and Dean comes out to talk. Gotta keep Sam safe! Get him healing quick!
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
XD John's just the person to go to, how convenient that he sits next to where their home is
Phoenix-FireMage's avatar
Phoenix-FireMageHobbyist General Artist
Super convenient. Don't tell him that, though! He's not allowed to know!
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Scolds for Sam if he slips up and almost says anything important
Phoenix-FireMage's avatar
Phoenix-FireMageHobbyist General Artist
Yep yep. It's a secret! John may be a super nice human, but he is a human, and a doctor, and Sherlock's flatmate, and for those reasons (especially the Sherlock one) he is not allowed to know where they live.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
John has a whole lot of ground to make up for after Sherlock's mistake
Phoenix-FireMage's avatar
Phoenix-FireMageHobbyist General Artist
Granted, he's made a bunch of progress by calling Sherlock an arse and kicking him out of the kitchen and letting the bros go, but there's more progress to be made. Much more. If he can get an apology out of the detective, that might help.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
And pigs may fly and the flat implode from the pressure of containing Dean's attitude and Sherlock's snark
kimstaticchild's avatar
kimstaticchildHobbyist Writer
Awww, Dean :heart: Gotta do anything and everything to make sure Sammy's okay ;v;
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
;w; Must help baby bro. Good thing there's a John on call! (who has no idea the bros live so close by XD)
Weeglyfeesh's avatar
WeeglyfeeshHobbyist Writer
I feel like he's planning something, but I'm having trouble predicting what exactly Sherlock might do. On the one hand, he isn't needlessly cruel to anyone unless he has reason to be, but then again, he has experimented on John before without permission...

Any further and I'll fall off the edge of my seat! Come on, Sunday!
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Lol! I'm sure Sherlock's always got something cooking in that brain of him. The real question is what'll Dean do about it if he does, and will John keep his flatmate behaving/ This story is too much fun.
TorchMLP's avatar
Ninja Dean is offended that he was noticed while ninja-ing.

I believe the most important question here is, what exactly did Lestrade say to get Sherlock to leave so quickly?
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Dean is so offended John heard him. He did this for an entire year before they got caught! He is a ninja!

Lol, the one time Sherlock didn't argue with him. Must have been good.
Weeglyfeesh's avatar
WeeglyfeeshHobbyist Writer
I believe the second most important question here is what exactly is Lestrade going to do once Sherlock realizes he's been had?
TorchMLP's avatar
XD Probably blame John. Sherlock knows he had something to do with it...
anonymous's avatar
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