Title: No Limited Dimensions
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John preslash
Warnings: swearing and gen omegaverse
Word count: 3350
A/N: This was written for sherlockbbc's Summer 2012 Commfest. My giftee asked for omegaverse and a character waking up in a strange/altered environment (à la Life On Mars). So I wrote gen omegaverse, because that's how I roll. \o/ A massive thank you to oddishly for Brit-picking and teaching me some new things! Originally posted here. Also available on AO3
Summary: The second time John Watson got shot, he woke up in Russell Square Gardens.
The first time John Watson got shot, he was surrounded by the heat, blood and panic of Afghanistan. There was a dying man under John's hands and the pain in his shoulder was like black lightning that clouded out his vision and left nothing but electric darkness in its wake.
Please, God, John prayed, because his men needed his help and, God, he didn't want to die. Let me live.
He woke up with a ruined shoulder, a psychosomatic limp and an honourable discharge that was more like a death sentence.
The second time John Watson got shot, he was surrounded by the dreary, empty grey of London. There was a fleeing man with a gun in one hand and John's wallet in the other and the pain in his gut was the first pulse of colour John had felt since he'd returned to England.
This time, John prayed for nothing at all.
And yet, somehow, he still woke up.
In the middle of Russell Square Gardens.
John came awake with a start and nearly slid right off a park bench. The sky was the English equivalent of bright and sunny and no one paid John the slightest bit of attention as he groped frantically at his stomach, his hands encountering nothing but dry fabric over unbroken skin. No bullet wound.
He blinked around the park, taking in the ordinary bustle of an ordinary day, and wondered if he'd gone mad. A quick rifle through his clothes came up with his wallet, a set of house keys and a mobile phone. Judging by the inscription on the back, the mobile had to be a re-gift from his sister, though John didn't have the faintest idea who Clara might be.
According to the mobile's calendar, it was still the same day as when he'd been shot, the same time almost to the minute. Right now, John should have been lying in an alley somewhere, bleeding to death.
Unless he'd already done that.
If this was Heaven, John thought, they really weren't trying very hard.
He levered himself to his feet, noticing sourly as he did that the damned cane was propped up against the bench. Another mark against the Heaven theory.
Once upright, John paused, trying to figure out where he was supposed to go now. The police? They'd have him sectioned before he got twelve words out. Harry? Knowing her, she'd either be absolutely blotto or assume that John was when she heard his story. Her landline was the only number saved in the mobile's address book, so John didn't even have his unwanted therapist to appeal to. Which meant that his best bet was to go back to where this had all started: the alley where he'd been shot.
John wondered darkly whether it would be worse to find his own body there or nothing at all.
A commotion near the fountain caught John's attention and he looked over to see a man in a grey shirt dashing through the park like the hounds of hell were after him. He barreled through the crowd, physically shoving civilians aside if they didn't get out of his way in time. There was a man in a long coat hot on his heels and, a good ways further back, another man with silvered hair.
"Police!" the last one yelled. "Stop!"
The man in grey veered down the path towards John, close enough now that John could see the gun in his hand and the violent desperation his face.
The soldier in John didn't bother to think. He stepped into the man's path and seized him by the arm. "Hey."
The guy took one look at John and sneered. "Sorry, love," he said, in a patronizing tone that would have put some of the worst bigots John had met in the army to shame. "You're not my type. But if you're that hard up I'm s- ngh!"
John coolly twisted his fist in the guy's stomach and, putting a hard hand to the back of his neck, powered him bodily to the ground. The gun clattered off somewhere to the side but John ignored it; he'd always been just as capable with his hands.
"You little cunt!" the guy snarled as John not-so gently wrestled his arms behind his back. "I'll kill you for this!"
"Somehow," John said, grinding the guy's face deeper into the dirt. "I doubt that."
Jogging footsteps slowed towards him and John looked up to see the man in the ridiculously dramatic coat standing above him.
"I believe you were looking for this," John said, shoving his knee hard against his captive's back.
The man arched an eyebrow. "Indeed." A pair of handcuffs appeared out of the folds of his coat and he crouched down at John's side, reaching for the man's wrists. As he leaned in, John caught a whiff of something spicy, sharp and completely unfamiliar. It was a nice smell, something that made John want to bury his face against the man's chest and just breathe for a while.
The cuffs clicked shut and John started with the realization that he'd been swaying, ever so slightly, towards the stranger. He jerked backwards. "Did you, uh, need any help with him?"
"No," the man said, abrupt and dismissive. "Your assistance was quite timely, Doctor."
John blinked. "How do you know I'm-"
"For God's sake, Sherlock," a voice said and John twisted round to see the silver-haired police officer standing there. "What have I told you about running after suspected serial killers on your own? And making citizen's arrests?"
"Really, Detective Inspector," the man, Sherlock, said. "I should think that the successful results of the first would rather outweigh your complaints about the second." He grinned suddenly. "Besides, my way is more fun."
"You're not the one who has to fill out the paperwork," the DI muttered. He glanced at John. "I don't suppose this daft bugger got around to saying thank you."
"Not as such," John said, climbing to his feet and leaving the criminal to Sherlock.
"Well, I'll say it then; that was a good catch." The man held out a hand. "Detective Inspector Lestrade."
John reached for his hand and caught another spicy warm scent, not as heady as Sherlock's, but noticeable nonetheless. Lestrade's nostrils flared and a brief look of surprise flickered across his face before it smoothed out into a smile. John wondered abruptly what he smelled like.
He found most of a smile somewhere. "Please, don't-"
"John?" a voice interrupted, derailing John's thought process entirely. "John Watson?"
A portly man in glasses appeared at John's side, puffing a little from the effort of jogging over. He was wearing a tan coat over a dark suit and was smiling at John like a long-lost relative.
John had never seen him before in his life.
"It is you!" the man said, reaching out to give John's hand a vigourous shake. He did not, John noticed, smell at all out of the ordinary. "God, it's been years!"
"Right, sorry," John said. "You're-"
"Stamford. Mike Stamford. We studied at Bart's together. I know," he grinned, before John could respond. "I got fat."
John managed a thin smile. "Right, of course, hello. Don't know where my head is."
Sherlock snorted inelegantly at that. "A common occurrence, I'd expect."
"Hullo, Sherlock," Stamford said suddenly, craning his neck around John. "Didn't see you there. Solving London's worst crimes again?"
"Not all at once. Lestrade! Come here, I need a look at his right elbow."
"You do realize that I'm not actually your dogsbody," Lestrade said, though he moved obediently forward when Sherlock beckoned.
Which left John facing an expectant Stamford and scrambling for something normal to say. "So," he tried. "How have you been?"
John listened with half an ear while Stamford told him about teaching at Bart's, distracted by watching Sherlock and Lestrade wrestle the resigned criminal into a generally upright position. Lestrade told the man his rights while Sherlock shoved impatiently at his shirt sleeve.
"Well?" Lestrade said when Sherlock abruptly let go and stepped back.
Sherlock nodded. "He's your serial killer."
"Brilliant. Don't suppose you're going to tell me how you figured it out?"
That earned Lestrade a withering look. "Obvious."
Lestrade rolled his eyes. "Right, of course it is. You're still going to have to come to the Yard to give your statement, you know."
"Dull." Sherlock rounded on Stamford. "Did those samples come in for me at the lab?"
Stamford jumped immediately to answer and John had to wonder what kind of man this Sherlock was to inspire that kind of reaction.
"Not yet," Stamford said. "But Molly says she's got something interesting to show you in the morgue. I'm headed back that way myself if you want to come." He glanced at John. "How about you, John? Want to go round the place again and see how dreadfully old it makes you feel?"
That sounded like one of the last things John wanted to do. "Thanks, but ah…"
"An old friend of mine," Stamford explained to Sherlock, as though justifying inviting him along. "John Watson. We were thick as thieves before he-"
"Joined the army, yes I know." Sherlock gave John the bland suggestion of a smile. "Unusual choice for an omega."
John stared at him, nonplussed. "What?"
"Oh come now, Doctor. Your posture, haircut and tan lines betray you as a military man. The aggression and alpha-oriented promotion systems of the army have always made it quite difficult for omegas to establish themselves. It can't have been easy to get recognized for your abilities rather than your gender."
"Of course, the only interesting part is that you deliberately chose not to hide your orientation. Even given your below-average height, you would have little trouble passing as a beta with the right suppressants and a good body wash." Sherlock smirked. "Was it the disapproval of your father that made you feel like you had something to prove?"
John had had just about enough of this. "Look." He got right up in the gangly tosser's face and never mind that he had to look up to do it. The army had given him plenty of practice at giving a dressing down to people who were taller than him. "I don't know who the bloody hell you think you are or what you're going on about, but I am having a very bad day and I'm not in the mood to be talked down to by some great git who fancies himself a mind reader."
Rather than being apologetic or, at the very least, put off, Sherlock looked suddenly intrigued. "You genuinely have no idea what I'm talking about," he said, sounding almost marveling.
"Pretty sure that's more your fault than mine. Any chance you feel like explaining what in the bleeding hell is going on here?"
"Sherlock," Lestrade interrupted. "We need to-"
"Later," Sherlock said, waving a dismissive hand. "This is far more interesting. Motor functions normal," he said to himself, eyes sweeping John up and down. "Limp is psychosomatic but unrelated. Memory loss possible. Hmm. John, tell me-" Sherlock paused. "No, that won't do. Lestrade! Ask him something suitably inane about popular culture."
Lestrade, blinked. "What?"
Sherlock sighed impatiently. "I need to test his cognition and retentive memory."
"Could you not-" John started.
"Never mind, it's hardly relevant anyway." Sherlock turned back to John and his gaze felt like it was turning John inside out and reading his history off his bones. "There's clearly more at work here."
"Sherlock," Lestrade said again, sounding considerably less patient.
Sherlock huffed out a breath. "Yes, alright fine." He glanced at John. "Come round to my flat tomorrow," he said and John felt the strangest pull to agree with him, just like that.
But John Watson was made of sterner stuff. "Why?" he demanded.
One of Sherlock's eyebrows arched. "Because I want you to."
The impulse grew stronger. John crossed his arms over his chest. "Not good enough."
"Really?" Sherlock sounded more pleased than put out. "Then because you want you to. It's obvious. And it's not as though you've got many other options."
As much as John hated to admit it, Sherlock was right on both counts. And, he supposed, if anyone was going to be of use to him in figuring out what was going on, this Sherlock seemed like a decent bet.
"Fine," he said, ignoring Sherlock's smug grin.
"Good. The address is 221B Baker Street. I'll expect you around ten." Sherlock winked at him "Afternoon."
With that, Sherlock strode away, leaving John with Stamford, Lestrade, the collared serial killer and absolutely no idea what had just happened.
"Yes," Lestrade said, before John could so much as blink. "He's always like that."
Stamford chuckled. "Got used to staring down alphas in the army, hey John? Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew with that one."
Well, bugger. What had John got himself into now?
The address on the driver's license in his wallet led John to a bedsit a couple of hundred yards away from Russell Square, instead of to Harry's place - small blessing, that. It was a dismal little place, with nothing but a single drawer-full of drab clothing and a few books to suggest that anyone even lived there. The contents of John's rucksack were unfamiliar - even the photographs, despite the fact that John was in several of them - and his laptop was nowhere in evidence.
John sat down heavily on the bed and stared at the wall for a while. Then he squared his shoulders and set about thumbing more carefully through his wallet, looking for any hint about what had caused all this madness.
The contents of John's wallet were, like so many other things he'd found today, a mix of the expected and the unfamiliar. His credit card was there, along with an Oyster card and £15.50 which, as far as John knew, was the sum total of all his worldly wealth. The details on his driver's license all appeared to be correct, except for the fact that his gender was listed as O-M. Whatever that meant.
His mobile beeped with an incoming text and John frowned when the number came up blocked.
I suggest you avail yourself of an Internet café, the text said. It's wise to be abreast of the full situation when dealing with Sherlock Holmes.
John's frown deepened. Who is this? he typed back.
The phone beeped again. A concerned party.
Concerned about who? John asked.
A minute passed without a response. Then another.
John bravely resisted the urge to chuck the bloody phone out the window, then put his wallet away, gathered up his cane and went to find himself some answers.
John got to Baker Street shortly after breakfast the next morning, his head buzzing with mad thoughts and unformed questions. The older woman who opened the door greeted him cheerfully.
"He's upstairs, dear," she said, leaning in close enough for John to catch the soft, sugary scent of her. Which, according to the information he'd gathered yesterday, meant that she was an omega. Like John.
John swallowed hard.
Sherlock's flat looked like a cross between Camden market and a rubbish tip and John found the man himself splayed dramatically across a sofa, watching John shuffle in.
"I'm receiving text messages," John said, when Sherlock did nothing more productive than stare at him. "About you." He sat down in the chair across from Sherlock without waiting for an invitation.
Sherlock made a derisive sound deep in his throat. "Irrelevant. Ignore them. Now." He sat up and swung round to face John, elbows on knees and chin in his hands. "Tell me what happened."
"I was shot," John said, and held up a hand to forestall Sherlock's immediate and no doubt scathing response. "In the street. Mugging. Between this leg and the fact that I didn't-… well, it should have killed me. Might have, honestly, since I came to in Russell Square with no idea how I'd got there."
Sherlock's eyes were bright and fixed intently on John. It was at once thrilling and profoundly unnerving.
John kept talking. "Now I've got a whole identity that's mine but isn't: a flat I only found because the address is on my driver's license, a mobile that isn't mine but apparently belonged to my sister, people I've never met having memories of me and, oh, let's not forget an entirely new sexual orientation."
"Ah," Sherlock said, as though he'd just figured something out. "And the last is clearly is the most objectionable issue for you, hence your confusion yesterday. Can I assume that now you know what you are?"
John stiffened, disliking the phrasing immediately. The look on Sherlock's face suggested that he was meant to, so John relaxed himself with a will and answered in the most clinical tone he possessed. "An omega male. Possessing male genitalia but also capable of going into estrus and giving birth as a result of intercourse with a male alpha," he hesitated briefly before adding, "like you."
Sherlock looked amused. "Correct. How does that differ from your understanding of the world?"
"That's-" John paused, looking for a way to explain. "In my world, we're all betas, more or less. None of this hierarchy drivel."
"Hmm. And did you look up the social and psychological aspects as well?"
"I don't plan on staying long enough for them to matter," John said, ignoring the part of him that rejected that idea entirely.
"Don't be ridiculous," Sherlock said, mirroring John's inner monologue far more closely than John was comfortable with. "Of course you are."
John scowled. "Because you say so?"
"Because it's obvious that you neither know how to reverse whatever process has affected your life nor wish to return to the misery of a life that you had previously. What was in the alleyway?"
"Nothing." John sighed, his frustration dissolving into a lost kind of weariness. "Not even a bloodstain. So either I'm mad, dead or in some kind of alternate reality."
Sherlock arched an eyebrow. "Is that problematic?"
John thought about the grey world he'd left behind, the fact that he felt more alive now than he had in months, and felt the nearly-forgotten stirring of a genuine smile tug at his lips.
Sherlock smirked. "I thought not. You'll take the upstairs room."
John arched an eyebrow and deliberately widened his stance. "Oh, I will, will I?"
"Don't be tiresome, John," Sherlock sniffed. "This conversation was dull enough the first time around. We both know you're amenable to the idea."
"You honestly want an omega to move in with you."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Kindly stop conforming to social norms that you know nothing about beyond a cursory Google search."
"You're an infuriating git, you know that?" John said. "I mean, isn't that dangerous with all the… pheromones?"
"We'll put you on suppressants if you prefer," Sherlock said easily, as if they were already a 'we'. The only thing that kept John from punching him for it was the impression he got that this was a Sherlock thing, rather than an alpha thing. Somehow, it made quite the difference. "Though I doubt it will be a concern. You're not an ordinary omega and I'm not an ordinary anything. Besides," he added, "You hardly seem the type to object to danger."
Sherlock's mobile beeped and he glanced at it briefly before firing off an answering text. "That was Lestrade," he said, sliding his phone into his pocket. "Dead body on Canary Wharf with no hands." He glanced at John. "Coming?"
And, oh, John was playing with fire, if his reaction to Sherlock's scent was any indication. But the truth was that, right now, John was either dead or he wasn't and he was sick of stumping through life like the difference didn't matter. "God, yes."
Sherlock's smile was bright and fierce. John wondered if he'd ever learn what it tasted like. "Good. Now hurry up! The game is on!"
Now with a (much longer) sequel: Never with the Flow