Title: Dear John
Beta: the incomparable wendymr
Beta: the incomparable wendymr
Rating/Warning: possible tissue warning
Summary: Sherlock writes John a letter, and tries to work some things out.
(See end of the fic for Author's Note.)
(See end of the fic for Author's Note.)
No, that’s wrong. Those words have certain connotations that rather ironically misalign themselves with what I’m trying to convey in this letter. I’ll have to start with something different.
My dearest friend,
I’m given to understand that writing a letter is the recommended method to deal with an inability to communicate something of import by more direct means. Mrs. Hudson was quite clear on this yesterday when she, and I quote, “caught” me “moping about the flat like the dog had just died.” I tried to explain to her that I've never had a dog, but that was apparently beside the point.
You've known me more than long enough to know that I am not truly a sociopath. I understand emotions perfectly well, and feel them as much as any other man. I just find the role of a sociopath a convenient one to play since, as you also know, it’s when I must deal with those emotions in myself and others that I occasionally run into trouble.
I can almost hear your sarcastic little snort when I read that sentence back. All right, yes, that’s the part where I often run into trouble.
But ever since we met you've been there at my side to face trouble of all sorts, in this area just as much as in our various adventures. You've provided a skillset and point of view so different from my own and yet somehow so essential to me that I can no longer imagine returning to life as I knew it before I knew you. And I’m grateful to you for that, maybe more than you know since I suppose I've never been very good at telling you.
So, thank you for that.
Though that’s not really what I’m trying to explain. There’s so much more... you are so much more than that. You’re not the first or the only person to put up with me, or even to show me some affection. But you were different from the others. You are different.
Well, that’s a glowing example of my brilliant powers of observation and impressive vocabulary, isn't it. I describe you as different, as if I were merely talking about your taste in music or the size of your shoes. Why must it be so difficult to put this into words? The emotions are troublesome enough on their own; the act of explaining them in plain English is blatantly ridiculous. How do ordinary people do this with such apparent ease?
The only solution I can see is to apply the science of deduction to the problem. I've spent the years of our friendship collecting the data and now I must examine the evidence and reach a conclusion. I must describe how you are different.
You were the first to enjoy our association outright instead of merely tolerating it, something I had never before realized could be so rewarding. You were the first to make the conscious choice to show concern for me out of friendship, instead of either being born to the obligation or taking it on as a sort of professional investment. And you were the first I found myself wanting to show the same concern for in return. The first whose feelings began to truly matter to me, even if I didn't always treat those feelings with the care that I should have, and the first whose pain I truly felt. The first whose wellbeing became somehow indispensable to my own.
The conclusion is really fairly obvious, and probably has been all along, though I still find myself struggling with the words. I am sorely tempted to emulate several textbook authors I could name by leaving the rest of the proof as an exercise for the student. I have no doubt that you, having read this far, could easily give me the perfect wording to fit my purpose.
How does one communicate this kind of thing? What’s the socially-acceptable script? Does one just come out with it? If I were forced to attempt this aloud, without the comforting ability to edit in privacy that I am currently enjoying, I suspect I would fumble for the right words for quite some time. It would undoubtedly be an impressively awkward moment for both of us. Best we avoid it if possible.
This all leaves me with a sense of frustrated clumsiness and little else to do except hope that perhaps the direct method is best after all.
And so... I think I love you, John.
No, I know that I love you. I want you to be happy more than I want it for myself, and I am reliably informed that this is one of the true definitions of love. (Yes, my source was again Mrs. Hudson, this time in reference to her sister’s neighbour’s daughter’s... actually, never mind. It was a torturously complicated story inflicted upon me over tea and biscuits yesterday evening while you were out. Ask her yourself at your own peril.)
But I've also recently become aware of sufficient evidence to indicate that I might be in love with you, too, and just too thick to realize it. (This time the source is most definitely not Mrs. Hudson. Though generally reliable in these matters, she is still most regrettably biased by her initial assumptions about the two of us when we first rented the flat together.) My enjoyment of your companionship and strong feelings on the matter of preserving your safety and general health aside, I can objectively itemize the ways in which I have blatantly wooed you over the years of our acquaintance with presents and attention and even more physical affection than I am comfortable showing to anyone else. These are all classic signs. It would have been immediately obvious to me if I saw it in any other pair of individuals. But I somehow never saw it between us until I found myself feeling that I was in danger of losing you.
I don’t mean a fear of your mortality, of course. We've faced that numerous times already and it’s never been in question. And yet as bad as losing you that way would be... part of me illogically insists that this is somehow worse. But I refuse to believe that I have lost all reason, and so I will continue to attempt this analysis to uncover the truth behind these disconcerting feelings.
You see, this is about more than admitting to the object of my regard that I feel love, as difficult as that is in and of itself. This is about the complications arising from that state of affairs, and the corresponding implications for our partnership. This is about the confusion and uncertainty I find myself feeling when I think about the history of your social life during our acquaintance, and more specifically about its current state.
It’s especially perplexing because I’m not sure if I would ever even truly want our relationship to go down that path. Please don’t be offended. You’re certainly a lovely specimen of a human being and one of the least stupid people I know. But I am (quite happily!) more asexual than not for all practical purposes and, in all honesty, I think it would probably just be too... strange. Almost since we met you've been more family to me than certain blood-related siblings I shall not bother naming. You truly are my brother in all but blood, in all the ways that mean so much more than mere blood could ever mean. And also so much more than I think being lovers could mean.
Though that’s admittedly just what I think now, and who knows what I’d eventually grow into under your tutelage? I've already changed so much because of your influence.
I think it’s partly the loss of that potential that is bothering me so much about your current situation. And also the fact that I am finding it difficult to maintain a satisfying level of contempt for the person I hold responsible for causing me this trouble.
It’s all her doing and I can’t even dislike her, because she’s managed to be so nearly perfect for you that even I cannot find too much fault. She’s clearly a good match for you: reasonably intelligent, very kind, supportive of your deeply-involved friendship with a social misfit such as myself, a tolerably good cook, and inarguably someone who makes you very happy in general. Her brother is a doctor, someone with whom you can share your passion for medicine on an equal footing, and even her parents adore you. So she comes ready-made with a perfect, stable, normal family poised to welcome you with open arms.
I could never give you that. And I want you to have this happiness. I do. But I also can’t help but feel jealous (of her, of course, and what’s more confusing, maybe even of you) and angry (at her for taking you away, and at you for going, even if both are completely irrational because you aren't going anywhere) and at myself for being so stupid about all of this.
So maybe I did mean that original salutation with its unfortunate connotations intact after all. Or perhaps not; it’s still frustratingly difficult for me to untangle what I really mean even after writing it out as I've just done. But it won’t matter in the end, because I can’t show this to you regardless. If I could, I would've just tried talking to you about it until you inevitably figured it out on your own and proceeded to explain it to me in terms I can more easily process. And therein lies my problem. You are simultaneously the one person I need to tell, and the one person I cannot. I refuse to ruin this chance at happiness for you by making you feel responsible for my own confusion and stupidity.
This letter-writing exercise has already taken me several hours and it’s past time I gave you an actual response. So the original salutation it is, at least for the version of this you’ll actually get to read. Luckily for me, you’ll never think to look for the irony.
I would be honoured to be your best man.
Ever your friend,
Author's Note: Dedicated to all the other Holmeses out there whose Watsons went and got married to somebody else.