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the island of conclusions

In the Belfry, 2/2 (BBC Sherlock , gen)

the island of conclusions

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In the Belfry, 2/2 (BBC Sherlock , gen)

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John smile
Title: In the Belfry, 2/2
Rating: PG, gen.
Fandom: BBC!Sherlock
Word count: ~2.8K
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.
Warning: not really about a belfry.

a/n: this is the second part of my extremely tardy help_pakistan fic for the wonderful, patient innie_darling, who wanted more Lestrade-Sherlock-John interaction. I’m sorry it took me so long, bb, and I wish it were better!
a/n: I have been such a snail about this that another fic with a similar plot was posted recently (In the Batcave). Word of honor, though, that I was already well into the premise of this one when that appeared….
a/n: many thanks to fleurione for beta'ing and Brit-picking this section. Thanks also to the good people at sh_britglish. All remaining idiom-fail and infelicities my own.

Summary: Lestrade is hurt. Sherlock is phobic. And John has his hands full.

part one

“Well,” said John, brushing ineffectually at his coat. “I suppose it might work. There’s quite a big gap in the brick facing there; someone’s tried to board it up, but I expect the planks will come off with a good shove. And if we open up the hole, there’s a drainage pipe just outside; we can shimmy down to the far side of the house.” He hesitated, looking at Sherlock, “It’s just....well, it’s just that there’re rather a lot of, erm, those things, in there.”

“Bats, John?” Sherlock asked harshly, “You can say the word; I’m not scared of the word.”

“Alright then: bats.” The doctor tilted his chin up to look the detective in the eyes. “There’re a shitload of bats—flitting about, hanging from the rafters, looking for their midnight lattes for all I know. I believe the technical term might be colony—but shitload sums it up just fine.”

Lestrade had to give Sherlock credit for receiving this information without flinching. The detective just squared his jaw and said, in that same thin, controlled voice, “Very well, then, let’s get on with it.”

“Agreed,” Lestrade chimed in, feeling the first stirrings of hope he’d felt all night.

John nodded his approval of Sherlock’s courage, and gestured towards the opening in the wall. “You go first, Inspector—that way I can help if your leg gives you problems—then Sherlock. I’ll take up the rear—“

Lestrade opened his mouth to protest. But John just tapped his waistband. “Armed, remember?” He gave Lestrade a half-smile that wasn’t diffident at all—was halfway to dangerous, really. “It’s hands and knees all the way, and filthy, but not otherwise difficult. Here--“ He handed the torch to the inspector.

Lestrade took it, wondering when John had so completely taken charge of the situation, and why it didn’t bother him more. He moved towards the narrow door, his ankle not particularly happy about supporting his weight, but more or less cooperating. He paused at the entrance: bats didn’t bother him particularly, but the rustling emanating from the thick darkness under the eaves was unnerving, made him feel he was entering hostile territory.

He took a deep breath, steeled himself, and ducked into the hole.

Behind him, however, Sherlock balked.

“Perhaps the Detective Inspector is right,” Lestrade heard him say, and almost overbalanced at the weirdness of Sherlock deferring to his opinion, “Hampshire CID will be sending someone out soon—there’s no need to—“

“Sherlock, you know we can’t—they’ll stumble on the car any moment—“ John’s tone was calm, patient.

But when Sherlock said, “I’m not sure I’ll fit—“in a distinctly wavering voice, John abruptly reached his breaking point.

“That’s nonsense, Sherlock, and you know it,” the words came out sharp as bullets, “I’ve been there and back already—it’s fine—“

“For you, perhaps. You’re—“

“Compact?” John supplied warningly.

“That’s one way of putting it,” Sherlock said, proving that phobic panic hadn’t lessened his ability to piss people off, “Whereas I’m—“

“Overgrown.” And now John really did sound like he was about to lose his temper.

With a sigh, Lestrade withdrew from the door, and stepped between the two men, passing the beam of the torch over their strained faces.

“Now, now, lads,” he said wearily. This was something he had experience in, after all; he had seen the same kind of conflicts between a hundred new recruits before their first armed raid.

“Look, mate--” He said to Sherlock.

“Not your mate,” Sherlock sneered.

Lestrade ignored him. “It’s like I was just saying, we’re all frightened of something. Doesn’t mean we can’t get on with it and get the job done, does it?” He got a withering look for his trouble, but pushed on, “Isn’t that right, John?”

John seemed confused.

“While you were off doing reconnaissance, I was telling Sherlock here how we’re all scared of something,” Lestrade prompted, “I’m scared of deep water, for instance—“

“Oh,” John took the hint, but frowned as if he were wracking his brain for a suitable example.

“Okay. Yeah,” he said after a moment, “you know, the first time I had to perform surgery under heavy artillery fire, I was scared shitless. I really was. But it was fine the next time. So, I promise, you’ll be okay--”

Not helpful, Lestrade thought, not helpful at all to know that John could get over his fear of such a genuinely terrifying thing so quickly . It might answer some of his lingering questions about why the doctor got on so well with Sherlock. But it did not solve their predicament.

And there they were, the three of them squared off against each other in the tiny room: Sherlock belligerent with fear; John more fed up every minute; and Lestrade at his wits’ end.

The chirps and wooshes of the bats sounded faintly beyond the dark hole in the wall, and, for the first time, Lestrade thought this phobia thing might cause them some real difficulty.

They might have stayed that way forever, too, if rapid footsteps hadn’t suddenly sounded on the gravel drive far below, and they hadn’t heard a voice shouting “Boss, boss, there’s a cop car in the lane—they must be somewhere in the house!”

A door slammed, more voices were raised—inside this time—and without his really knowing how it happened, they were suddenly all on the other side of the wall, under the eaves. Lestrade was never sure, afterwards, whether John hadn’t resorted to physical force to get Sherlock through the door.


“Get moving,” the doctor hissed, as he somehow closed the opening again and total darkness settled around them.

Lestrade shivered. It wasn’t as if he could see malevolent red eyes glinting in the gloom or anything, but the air around them did feel alive somehow, stirred by the breath of a hundred tiny mouths.

But there was no help for it. He flicked on the torch, was happy to see its wan light joined by the glow of John and Sherlock’s phones. He got himself down on his hands and knees, and started an ungainly crawl towards the patches of lighter blackness at the far end of the narrow space.

He thought he heard the others following, but he had to concentrate his attention on his own progress, being careful not to jar the burning cuts in his leg more than necessary.

Shitload turned out to be a remarkably precise term for the number of bats in the space. Flawless radar notwithstanding, Lestrade could occasionally feel one brushing against him, wings not so much leathery as lambskin soft. The beam of his torch cut across clusters of them, bodies folded up tight in their upside-down sleep. The odour of their dropping pervaded the cramped space, and their high-pitched chirruping pinged all around him.

He could feel the seeds of anxiety, an echo of Sherlock’s fear, start to ripple along his own nerves, but he focused on the boarded -up opening in front of him. He was getting closer now—would be there any minute.

And then everything went pear-shaped.

The knee of Lestrade’s trousers caught on the rough wood flooring, abruptly halting his forward progress. Between the recent memory of his foot going through the steps, and general tension of the night, the sensation sparked a surge of panic: he knew, with unbearable certainty, that he was going to be trapped here forever, in bat party central, until all that was left was his dusty and mummified corpse.

He yelped—he couldn’t help it—and jerked his knee violently away from whatever had snagged it.

And that was it; that was all it took to set all the bats off at once.

Lestrade had never been near a tornado, but he imagined that this was what it would feel like—if a tornado were to take place inside instead of outside, and were to consist of tiny bodies instead of wind, zooming about in desperate futile patterns, around and around the stuffy attic.

He curled involuntarily into a tight crouch, close to the floor—hands going over his head for protection. They’d just have to wait it out, he thought, wait ‘til the bats settled down. But the storm of wings went on and on.

Behind him, over the noise of flight, he heard an anguished whimper. Lestrade reminded himself firmly that the bats weren’t going to hurt him, and risked a look around. Sherlock was up on his knees, face wild with fear and misery, wheeling his arms as if he thought he could bring down the creatures one by one.

It was going just about as well as one would imagine.

Before Lestrade could say anything, though, John caught the taller man from behind, almost tackled him, really--gripping his wrists and pulling his arms down. “Sherlock,” the doctor said sharply, “stop it.” Seeing Lestrade watching them, he barked “Get that hole open, Inspector—I think we all need to get the fuck out of here—now.”

Lestrade didn’t have to be told twice. He did a kind of commando crawl towards the ragged opening, head down, insensible to both the jars to his injured leg and the tiny bodies streaming above him.

The boards had been tacked across the opening from the inside, he was relieved to find, so he scrabbled for the ends, tried to pry one of them free. Bats slid round him from all sides, squeezing through the narrow openings between the slats, gliding away into the dusk.

The wood was old, splintery and soggy at the same time, and Lestrade could feel it shredding his fingertips to match his leg, but he ignored that too, and pressed on until one gave under his hand. Triumphantly, he ripped it away, and a thicker stream of bats instantly flowed through. But the Inspector was too charged with adrenaline by now to care, and he was able to yank away a few more boards quickly. Finally, frustrated by the slowness of the process, he twisted himself around until he could get a few good kicks in at the remaining planks with his good foot. He’d been a decent football player in his day, and he had enough power left in his legs to break through the ancient plywood.

An absolute torrent of bats flowed through the opening as the last boards gave way. Lestrade ducked his head again—shuddering involuntarily as their smooth wings grazed his sides and neck, ruffled his hair—and hoped against hope that the thugs below wouldn’t attach any special significance to the silent, black-on-black river now bisecting the night.

Once the last bat was gone, an eerie quiet settled over everything. Lestrade raised his head, ridiculously grateful for the fresh evening air on his face. A brief glance outside confirmed John’s report: they were a good three or four flights up, but a drainage pipe snaked down the side of the manor house, would put them in jumping distance of the ground.

He turned to share the good news, and saw a second thing he never thought he’d see.

Although it didn’t seem as if it should be physically possible, John had somehow managed to tuck the lanky Sherlock under his chin. The detective was curled into the tightest ball of humanity Lestrade had ever seen, the doctor’s arms around his shoulders, and his legs in a protective half-circle around Sherlock’s narrow hips. Sherlock had his face pressed into John’s neck, and now that the noise of the bats had stopped, Lestrade could hear the wordless sounds of comfort John was murmuring into his dark hair, his tone as far from the frustrated bark of their earlier argument as possible.

Lestrade frankly stared, another piece of the puzzle of the doctor and the detective clicking into place.

As if sensing his eyes, John looked up and met his gaze over Sherlock’s head. We shall never speak of this his face conveyed, as clear as day, and Lestrade, despite the temptations he knew would arise, couldn’t help but nod.

“Erm,” he said, weirdly reluctant to disturb their embrace, “we should get a move on—before they come to see what spooked the bats—“

As if on cue, a crash broke their fragile peace; the door at the other end of the space swung open and a powerful beam of light penetrated their brief asylum.

“Oi!” Someone shouted, “I see them. You there—come ‘ere before I come in and get you myself.”

“Go,” John shouted, and pushed at Sherlock, but the detective was already moving, back to his usual quick reflexes now that the source of his fear had literally flown away.

“You first,” Lestrade said, and when Sherlock seemed about to protest, added, “So you can catch me at the bottom—I don’t fancy breaking my ankle on top of everything else.”

With a tight smile, the detective eased his long torso out of the opening. He balanced precariously, half in, half out, while he searched for something to grab onto on the outer wall. When he did, he slid his legs through, hung suspended for a moment while he reached for the pipe with his feet.

Then he dropped away, out of sight.

“Alright, coppers,” a thick voice growled, altogether too close already, “you asked for it—we’re coming in—“

Lestrade almost wished the bats were still around—at least they’d have provided some kind of obstacle or distraction.

He’d forgotten about John’s gun. The retort was deafening in the enclosed space, but satisfyingly followed by an agonized howl from near the door.

Nifty shooting, Lestrade thought admiringly, cold-blooded to fire without warning like that, but nifty shooting all the same.

“Now would be a good time, Inspector,” John whispered, calm and level as ever, “to shake a bloody leg.”

Lestrade couldn’t have agreed more. He repeated Sherlock’s actions, feeling for whatever handhold he had found. It wasn’t much, just strategically placed cracks in the ruined facing, but it was enough. He dug his fingertips in, ignoring the pain of rough brick on new cuts, and pulled his legs out. He dangled there sickeningly for a moment, until his feet connected with the metal pipe. Then he clawed his way down the wall until he could get both hands around the pipe, and slid, more than shimmied, through the seemingly endless expanse of night air.

The pipe ended about eight feet off the ground, but apparently Sherlock had taken him seriously about the ankle, because strong hands caught him around the waist as he prepared to jump the rest of the way, broke his fall.

“Thanks—“ Lestrade gasped, winded, and then broke off as another shot rang out above them. They held their breath—or at least Lestrade did—until John’s dark shape appeared on the wall, scrambling nimbly down the drainpipe.

Sherlock caught him in the same way—that crazy height of his turned out to be good for something, Lestrade conceded—and they all stood there grinning stupidly at each other for a moment—unable to believe they’d escaped from both bats and criminals relatively unharmed.

But their relief was premature, because of course the thugs had noticed how they’d exited the attic, and now footsteps—lots of footsteps—pounded on the gravel—rough voices raised in pursuit.

“Shall we, boys?” Lestrade asked.

And, as one, they turned heel and ran in the general direction of the car.

Lestrade’s ankle felt as if had swollen to twice its normal size, and every stride sent a jolt of pain through his whole body. Their pursuers were gaining on them, and part of him wondered that they hadn’t shot to kill already.

But none of that mattered.

Because he was flanked by John and Sherlock, both wearing smiles of pure exhilaration—faces lit up by the game, the danger, the chase. And he knew he wore the same expression.

In a moment of clarity that he would never have allowed himself outside a life-or-death situation, Lestrade admitted, if only to himself, that he hadn’t let Sherlock commandeer his car simply to up his clearance rate. No, it had be in the secret hope that something like this might would happen—something out of the ordinary, something almost ridiculous something grand.

He and John Watson had that in common.

And he thought they were both going to get a lot of mileage out of the bats.

Laughing inwardly at that thought, Lestrade ran as hard as he could toward the approaching lights and sirens of what could only be the Hampshire CID, finally coming to their rescue.


  • (no subject) -
    • oh my goodness--it took me long enough, didn't it! And I'm sure Lestrade will use the extra ammunition judiciously, and only when he really needs to ;)

      Thanks again for all your help with this *hugs*
  • You finished it!! I loved the image of the bat-tornado, and of John tucking Sherlock under his chin, and John being such a BAMF even Lestrade is really impressed XD
    • I'm glad I finished it too! I'm in this thing where I can write the beginnings of lots of things, but have a hard time finishing them if they are longer than 1K....(tho' I will finish that H50 fic for sure!)

      Glad you liked those images--I got kind of carried away with BAMF!John, I love him so!
  • Okay, I should feel much worse for Sherlock than I do. But I can't because my whole brain has locked onto this BAMFy John and just wants to worship him. Thank you so much for this - it's awesome!
    • You are very welcome! I am so glad and relieved you liked it, and I apologize again for taking so long to write it!! I thought I might be getting a little carried away with BAMF!John, but I'm very glad you enjoyed him *G*
  • (no subject) -
  • Loved it.l
  • (no subject) -
    • I'm so glad you liked the Batman bits--they were pretty fun to put together--and I'm glad BAMF!John hit the spot! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      oh--and I really hope Lestrade comes back in the second series!

      Edited at 2010-11-07 03:06 am (UTC)
  • I love how Lestrade tries to figure out John and Sherlock's relationship, and how he just about does. And oh, I can just imagine what he's going to do now that he knows about the bats... LOL
    • I'm sure Lestrade will use his new knowledge of Sherlock's phobia judiciously and only when he really needs to ;)

      And I'm glad you enjoyed Lestrade trying to figure out what's between them--I wanted that to be the spine of the fic, as it were.

      Thanks so much for reading--I'm glad you enjoyed it!
  • Oh wow, how frightening for Sherlock to be so literally surrounded by the objects of his terror! I love all of the details and the thrilling chase there at the end--fantastic!
    • I know--it was like a cauldron of bats there! But I'm glad the scenes at the end worked for you--action is the hardest thing for me to write!

      Thanks so much for reading!
  • Oh my God, there needs to be some sort of crossover art/fic with Sherlock as Batman and John as Robin now. This was a brilliantly written piece! It was funny and poignant and just BAMF, exactly how the show is, really. Great job!
    • Thanks so much for the lovely feedback! I would adore seeing crossover fic or art with our friends as superheroes--especially the green tights!

      Thanks for reading!
  • It's always good to see gen fic out there. Especially if it's well written, funny, and engaging, like this piece is. And in this fandom, especially if it involves Lestrade, because I have my character favourites, and they rule all. :P

    That said, minor mistake in the first part: John diffidently twitched away the side of his short jacket to reveal the butt of a revolver on his hip.

    In this incarnation of the Sherlock Holmes universe John carries a semi-automatic pistol, not a revolver. Not a huge error but it's one of those things that makes me twitch a bit.
    • lol, I think I must be so in love with Watson's service revolver from ACD's Holmes--in love with the phrase "service revolver" really--that it never even occurred to me he'd carry something different!

      Thanks for the heads up, tho'--I'll change it.

      Glad that you enjoyed this--especially Lestrade.
  • Hah! This is awesome. Great bromantic atmosphere. And you KNOW the boys are gonna hold the bat thing in reserve for when he's being particularly obnoxious. XD

    The best part is what a total BAMF John is. How great is it that their fears are bats, deep water, and performing surgery under heavy artillery fire...but only the first time. 8) Awesome.
    • I'm sure they'll only use the bat thing very judiciously...or maybe no ;)

      And I'm very glad you liked BAMF!John--he was very fun to write!

      Thanks so much for reading--I'm glad you enjoyed it!
  • Yay!

    I *love* bats. XD
    • Re:

      Glad I could indulge your love of bats! We had some in the house last winter, and it was kind of cathartic to write about them in fic--

      Thanks so much for reading!
  • LOVED this. I have a strong competency kink and seeing John calmly taking control of the situation was brilliant - you got a real feel for what an amazing officer he must have been. Also, aw, poor Sherlock. He's so lucky to have John ;-)
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I actually had a line in there at one point where Lestrade thought about what a good medical officer John must have been, but took it out, hoping the idea would come across--so I'm very glad it did! I also have a real kink for competent!John--Sherlock is indeed lucky to have him!

      Thanks so much for reading!

  • Love it, and thanks for the unexpected namedropping :) this is much better than mine. Why didn't I have a bat tornado? I love how these 3 interact with each oher and that John takes charge. Brilliantly written too.

    And it should be official canon - Sherlock Holmes has a phobia of bats...
    • It should be canon--it's definitely something to do with the coat!

      I've actually been scared to read your fic--stopped after I realized what it was about, so that I wouldn't back out of my own ideas--but I must go back and do so now!

      Thanks so much for reading this one--I'm glad you enjoyed it!
  • Oh, the poor boy. Next crime scene, Donovan and Anderson make endless Batman references...
    Also the awkward moment when John was giving Sherlock a cuddle was so much win.
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