wibblylever: (Fringe: The truth is out there.)
[personal profile] wibblylever
FIC: No Request Is Too Extreme
Rating: PG
Author: [livejournal.com profile] moony
Pairing: Sherlock/John, Sherlock/aliens (not like that)
Summary: Once upon a time, Sherlock wished upon the stars.
A/N: This is the sort of fic you write when you watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact and WALL-E in one night. Shameless references to the aforementioned, plus one bonus reference at the end, contained herein. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] fishandcustard and [livejournal.com profile] not_a_cypher for the fabulous beta-reads and cheerleading, despite the utter ridiculousness of this story. I think this qualifies as crack-fic, in a way. But it's sincere crack!

This is for [livejournal.com profile] shehasathree for her generous donation to [livejournal.com profile] help_nz.

If you've never seen Close Encounters it might help to watch this before you read. :) Also, WHY HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN IT WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.

It was not unusual for John to be awakened at all hours of the morning. Sometimes it was his own doing: the need to have a wee, a nightmare, feeling a bit peckish. Most of the time it wasn’t, though. Most of the time he woke because a tall madman with chaotic hair and menace in his eyes stood over him, poking at his shoulder until he opened his eyes.

John’s first thought on those nights: Murder. MurdermurdermurderMURDER.

Sometimes, Sherlock’s reasons for waking John at two, three, five in the morning would be somewhat reasonable. “John,” he would say, “there is a ninja in the flat. Be a dear, fetch your gun.” Or, “John, I think the camel spider I had intended to dissect has escaped. You may want to turn on a light.” And on one memorable occasion, “I’ve accidentally ingested something potentially toxic, John. I need you to come into the bath and observe me, in case my eyes melt.”

As reasonable as these requests were (especially the camel spider, an incident which resulted in a lot of shouting, brandishing of a shovel and, eventually, the extremely thorough bludgeoning and cremation of the spider), John wasn’t often completely obliging. Frankly, at four-in-the-bloody-morning, not only could Sherlock’s eyeballs go ahead and melt but the rest of him could turn into a pile of plasma, bone and bloody Jammie Dodgers, and that would be perfectly fine, so long as John could go back to sleep.

Yet however vehemently John thought those things they always remained only thoughts. He would sigh, then diligently haul himself out of bed, make himself a very strong coffee, and proceed to clean up whatever mess/dispatch a trespasser/put Sherlock’s organs back into his body in the proper order. After all, he wanted to be a good flatmate, and it at least kept things interesting. It was never not interesting at 221B, that much was certain.

So when John opened his eyes one night and found Sherlock looming over him, so pale John thought he could possibly draw moths, he groaned softly, sat up and waited.

“John, I…” Sherlock seemed at a loss. That was new. “I seem to have, er.”

John blinked. “Sherlock?” he asked. It never took Sherlock long to relay the issue, because by the time he thought to wake John the situation had long since gone dire and John was often the only thing standing between Sherlock and death, destruction or a furious Mrs Hudson. “What is it?”

Sherlock flapped his arms, helplessly. “I believe I may have inadvertently established contact with alien life.”

Never not interesting, indeed.


The kitchen looked a bit like a computer lab constructed by an insane child. Sherlock’s laptop was at one end of the table, John’s at the other. John could not count how many cables were hooked up between them, certainly more cables than either laptop had ports, but that clearly hadn’t stopped Sherlock. The mangled remains of the microwave had been repurposed, for what John couldn’t fathom. It dangled precariously over their heads, linked to the computers and a long wire that stretched out the open window. That wire was attached to what was most certainly Mycroft’s purloined umbrella, open and turned inside-out, and pointed south. There were other bits and bobs attached to it all: Sherlock’s mobile (but thankfully not John’s), an iPod, myriad shapes sculpted from aluminium foil, and inexplicably a rubber duck.

“Grounding,” said Sherlock, catching John eyeing the duck warily. “I didn’t want to electrocute myself. You get so cross when I do that.”

“That might’ve been a bit more normal, to be honest,” said John. He peered at the contraption. “What’s it meant to do, exactly?”

Sherlock tapped the duck with the tip of a finger. “It’s for a case,” he said. “An American man was found dead in a flat over in Hammersmith, and a device similar to this was discovered in his bath. I wanted to know what it was for, but I could not get any further details. So I built my own.”

John looked at him. “You built a strange machine, not knowing what it does, that may have killed a man?”

“The machine did not put a bullet in the man’s forehead at execution range, John,” said Sherlock, a touch irritable. “Though I suppose, in a way the machine could have killed him. I wanted to know if it did something worth killing for.”

They stared at the thing in silence for a moment. John noticed an old gramophone, spinning lazily with no record on it. He couldn’t imagine where Sherlock had found a real gramophone, though he hoped Mrs Hudson’s doors remained locked and her locks un-picked. He started to ask what it was for when it made a noise. It wasn’t any sort of noise John had ever heard in his life and it wasn’t even close to reminiscent of any familiar noises, either. If he had to describe it, he would say it was somewhere between a distant car alarm, the TARDIS, and the squelchy sound of a man’s hands inside the chest cavity of a dying soldier.

He looked at Sherlock, who shrugged.

“I can’t translate it,” he said. “There are words in it, certainly, but it didn’t originate here.”

“Here as in London?” asked John, and immediately he felt a bit stupid. “Right, no. Not in London. Here as in… Earth?”

Sherlock shuffled over to the open window. There were rarely any stars that could be seen from Westminster but it was a clear night and late enough that ambient light was dim. John wedged himself between Sherlock and the window and peered out, up.

“My calculations indicate the signal comes from somewhere near there.” He pointed, ducking to be able to see and speaking into John’s ear. “What’s that called? You’re the space expert, here.”

John wasn’t actually a space expert (though the fuss he’d made about the solar system had forever branded him as one in Sherlock’s mind). He had, however, been trained to navigate by the stars, so he had a bit more than the average bloke’s working knowledge of the night sky. He squinted and picked out a few faint pinpricks of light, fighting valiantly to show themselves.

“Libra,” he said. “That one there, that’s Libra.” He looked over at Sherlock. “You’re telling me your wonky noises are coming from Libra?”

Near there, John.” Sherlock moved away, went back to the device and prodded at it. He turned the gramophone’s horn slightly to the left, touched something on his laptop. “I was making improvements on the machine when I got bored, so I thought to play my violin.” He picked it up from where it rested, in the center of all the chaos. “I started to play, and several moments later the noises began.”

Sherlock lifted the violin to his chin, fingered the neck for a moment, then drew the bow over the strings. He played only five notes, notes John found a little familiar. He’d heard them somewhere before, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

The gramophone spoke.

“Fantastic,” said John. The noise, this time, was different. If John didn’t know any better he’d say it sounded almost inquisitive. Something about the tone. He said as much to Sherlock.

“Knew you’d get there eventually,” said Sherlock. He continued playing the five notes, and the noise did its best to mimic them, albeit very roughly. “I’ve no idea what we’re saying to each other.”

“Are you certain, then?” asked John. “That this isn’t some neighbor bloke with GarageBand playing silly buggers?”

Sherlock paused and pointed at the screen of his laptop with his bow. “I doubt it, John.”

John made his way back into the kitchen and looked. “…you tapped into SETI,” he said. His voice was soft and bewildered. “How did you -- Sherlock, this has got to be a hundred different kinds of illegal.”

“As I said.” Sherlock resumed playing. “I merely duplicated what our victim had done. Clearly he’d stumbled into something he wasn’t meant to. I do not, however, think he got this far.” He brandished his bow toward the window. “I don’t think he managed to communicate.”

It sank in then, for John. Sherlock is conversing with aliens, in our kitchen. He sat down suddenly, very hard, on the floor. “Buggity fuck,” he said.

“Articulate.” Sherlock looked down at him, over the body of his violin. “Are you all right?”

“Am I all right, he says.” John laughed, though he wasn’t very amused. “Any moment now, our flat’s going to be invaded by little green men. Or the government. Or whoever shot the poor bastard that put you on to this.” He covered his face with his hands. “Likely all three. Probably all the same person.

Sherlock sniffed. “Don’t be dramatic,” he said. He moved closer to the gramophone and kept playing, and the flat was silent save for the nonsensical conversation of melody between Sherlock and the unknown. John listened, largely still in disbelief though a small part of him - the part that still hoped there’d be a United Federation of Planets someday - was completely overwhelmed. What if? he thought. What if, what if…

“When I was small,” said Sherlock, so softly John almost didn’t hear him, “I liked the stars. At my parents’ home in the country you could see quite a few of them. I thought they were interesting. When my brother explained them to me, told me what the universe was, I knew there had to be other life elsewhere. It is ridiculous - and exceedingly pretentious - of us to presume that we are the only species to crawl out of the mud. The universe is far too vast for only us to have got it right.”

He began to play faster. “When I was six, my brother showed me a film he thought I might like. It was about spaceships talking to us through music. I liked it very much. So much in fact that the very same night I took my violin out into the back garden and played the same music from the film, over and over. I hoped they would come for me. Why wouldn’t they? I was clever and could answer all of their questions. And I was tired of this planet, besides.

“I did that for three years, until my parents sent me away to school. Obviously,” he sighed, “no one came for me.”

Sherlock abruptly stopped playing. The noise from the gramophone repeated a few notes, then began making curious sounds. Sherlock ignored them.

“I deleted it all,” he said. “Everything about the stars, the planets - yes, the bloody solar system.” Sherlock scratched his neck with the tip of the bow. “It’d done me no good, save to prove that hope is really rather useless and that as a child I wasn’t nearly so clever as I thought I was.”

“Oh,” said John. He remembered, now, where he’d heard those notes before. “It was Close Encounters. I remember seeing that. It was Harry’s favourite film for a bit, until E.T. came out.” He stared at Sherlock. “You didn’t delete everything, then.”

“No.” Sherlock sighed and looked over at the gramophone, the noises having gone rather plaintive. “I thought I had, but when I picked up the violin tonight, those were the first notes I thought of. And I thought-” He paused, licked his lips. “I don’t know what I thought.”

John stood up, using the back of a chair for balance. “You thought perhaps this time they might actually hear you,” he said gently.

The front door opened and Mycroft strode into the flat, looking put-together but irritable, probably due to having to be put-together at four in the morning. “Honestly, Sherlock,” he said, inspecting the construction in the kitchen. “I’m beginning to wonder if you are actively trying to annoy me.”

“I am,” said Sherlock. “However, this has nothing to do with you. This was an… accident.” On Sherlock, admitting a mistake looked painful, like stubbing one’s toe. “How much trouble am I in?”

“No trouble at all,” said Mycroft. “The U.S. government was a touch miffed that something had compromised their little project in New Mexico, but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be smoothed over with a sizable donation to the organisation in question.” He smirked. “You will not, however, be getting a Christmas gift this year, you should know.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Then why are you here, Mycroft, if not to lecture me again on respecting national security?”

Mycroft looked shifty-eyed. “There is someone who wishes to speak with you.”

“Sorry?” Sherlock frowned. “I thought you said I wasn’t in trouble.”

“That is exactly what I said. And it is the truth.” Mycroft glanced at John. “We can discuss it in the car-”

“I’m not going anywhere until you explain yourself,” snapped Sherlock. “And whatever it is can be said in front of John. He won’t blog this. He’s not stupid.”

It was pathetic how much it pleased John to hear Sherlock say that, considering Sherlock called him ‘stupid’ at least three times a day (except on Sundays).

“Fine,” said Mycroft. “Your presence is required at a rendezvous taking place at dawn in south-eastern Oxfordshire. Your correspondent is very eager to meet you.”

John gaped, and when he looked over to Sherlock he found him wearing a similar expression. “There’s aliens landing in England?” he asked. “How the hell --”

Mycroft leveled a look at John that said, very clearly, do not finish that question. John immediately obliged, knowing it was often better to know as little about what Mycroft gets up to as possible. For the good of one’s health.

Instead, John rose and went to the stove.

If the aliens were coming, he would need a cup of tea.

Sherlock, on the other hand, had gone sheet-white and still. He stared at Mycroft, and John could see a faint shiver in the bow still in his hand. Alarmed, because Sherlock was never silent in Mycroft’s presence, John abandoned the kettle and put a hand on Sherlock’s arm.

“Sherlock?” said John. “Are you all right?”

“Yes,” said Sherlock. His voice had gone soft and hoarse. “No. John.” Sherlock looked down at him, eyes wide and shining like stars. “I wanted them to hear me.”

John smiled, though a bit sadly. “And they did,” he said, squeezing Sherlock’s elbow. “What will you do?”

“What should I do?” Sherlock sounded for all the world like a small child, bewildered and lost. “John, what am I to do?”

“Well.” John swallowed. It would be hard, but it was the right thing to do. “You should meet with them, of course. You’d be stupid not to, who wouldn’t want the chance to have a chat with an alien.”

“And then what?” Sherlock looked to Mycroft. “What do they want?”

Mycroft didn’t answer him straight away. He swallowed, and for an insane moment John thought he might be trying to compose himself. Which was ridiculous, Mycroft was never not composed.

“There’s been an invitation,” said Mycroft, with some effort.

John set his teacup down on the counter, hard. “Christ.”

Sherlock looked wild. “An invitation. Mycroft.” He stalked up to him, glaring. “Mycroft, you knew I wanted --”

“Sherlock, relax.” Mycroft held up a hand. “We’ve not been in contact. I assure you. As your brother.” He held Sherlock’s gaze. “I’d have told you. Of course I’d have told you, I only listened to you and your violin in the garden for years.” Mycroft’s voice softened. “This is the first contact we’ve had, and trust me, we were... unprepared for it.” He cleared his throat, looked somewhat embarrassed. “There was quite a bit of explaining required.”

“So hang on,” said John. “You’re saying that Sherlock, with a machine he built out of bits of our flat, manages to contact aliens before our government, before any government has?”

Mycroft grimaced. “Well, I can’t speak for the Americans.” He sighed. “They’ve probably already managed to offend half the universe by now.”

John didn’t laugh. “And the aliens have invited Sherlock to what, exactly?” he asked, though he had a sinking sensation he already knew the answer. His suspicions were confirmed when Mycroft merely gave him a look of thinly-veiled disappointment, and a little sadness. “Ah.”

“I can’t go,” said Sherlock, shaking his head. “I can’t just --” He stopped, looked over at John. “I can’t.”

It was an odd moment, for John. Not just that he was standing in his kitchen discussing extra-terrestrials with the British government, but watching Sherlock warring with his innate, incurable curiosity and whatever he thought was keeping him here. John couldn’t fathom why it was a difficult decision at all - Sherlock ought to be leaping at the chance to get away from Earth for a while.

For as long as John had known him Sherlock had few compliments for humanity-at-large, and John had gleaned enough from between the lines to know that life had been difficult for Sherlock for a very, very long time. Children don’t spend years in gardens hoping a space ship will come and rescue them unless there’s something to be rescued from, unless they already feel so alien on their own planet that the only obvious solution is to find other aliens who’ll accept them.

A man like Sherlock, John thought, ought to be celebrated. Yes, he was a bastard most of the time, but he was a genius. Going by the fact that the Met still thought of Sherlock as “the freak” despite his solving every case they brought to him, Earth had clearly failed to appreciate that.

They’d lost their chance. It was someone else’s turn, now.

“No,” said John, his throat tight. “You should go.”

Sherlock looked surprised. “John?”

John cleared his throat. “You should go and observe. Do what you do best.” He forced a smile, and of course Sherlock saw through it.

“What about you?” he asked. Sherlock put a hand over the one John still had on his elbow. “I don’t want to just leave...”

John wondered if the “you” was unspoken, or merely something he wished to hear.

“If I’m still around when you come back, you can tell me all about it,” said John, though he knew the likelihood was nil. Sherlock might never come back, but if he did John would be long dead by then. That was how it worked in all of the films, in Doctor Who, in Stephen Hawking’s television specials. But Sherlock had never seen any of those things. He didn’t have to know that. “I’ll put it in my blog.”

“John…” said Sherlock. He looked stricken. “You --”

Mycroft cleared his throat again. “Touching as this is, we really must be going. The car’s waiting, and we’ve only two hours ‘till dawn.” He opened the front door and looked at them expectantly. “Sherlock?”

Suddenly, Sherlock grabbed at John. “Come see it, at least,” he said, fiercely. “Mycroft, John’s coming with us. He should get to see.” He kept his eyes on John, who looked back, trying to figure out what he was seeing there. Was it regret? Desperation? Something else? He couldn’t tell.

“Very well,” said Mycroft, stifling a yawn. “Whatever you like, so long as it gets you downstairs and into the car.”

It did. The journey to south-eastern Oxfordshire was a silent one. Sherlock stared out of the window, though he kept himself pressed against John’s side. John looked at nothing in particular, wondering if it had been wise to allow himself to be brought along. As much as he wanted to see a proper alien, live and in-person, he did not want to be there to see Sherlock disappearing from his life forever. It felt a bit like going to a funeral, only you were going with the chap it was for and he just hadn’t died yet.

John shivered, which drew Sherlock’s attention away from the window. He looked at John and moved a bit closer and his hand found one of John’s. He squeezed.

John squeezed back.


The field was wet and out in the middle of nowhere. Not a house to be seen, not for miles. A mist hung in the air and did not seem interested in moving on any time soon, and it gave the coming dawn an ominous, almost medieval feel to it. Birds cried in the distance. Everything else was still.

John tried and failed to find a patch of ground to stand on that wasn’t mud, eventually settling for a bit where at least he didn’t sink. Mycroft stood next to him, umbrella open and raised against the moisture in the air. They stood watching Sherlock, who’d walked up ahead and stood staring up at the sky. The sun was about to rise and so the stars were fading, save for three that flickered just above the horizon. Sherlock stared at them intently.

It took him a moment, but John eventually realised they weren’t, in fact, stars.

The lights sped toward them, swift and silent, growing larger as they approached. Two split off, turning complicated somersaults in the air as they careened back up into the atmosphere. The third, much larger than her sisters, descended in front of them until it sank against the sodden ground. It was roughly the size of the London Eye, and after a moment there came a loud noise like a lock being disengaged and a panel began to descend, revealing a bright light that spilled out of the ship, illuminating the entire field.

A door. An invitation.

Sherlock turned and looked back at John. John swallowed hard and walked up to meet him.

“Suppose this is it, then,” said John. His eyes stung and he couldn’t stop blinking them. “Sherlock, I --”

John didn’t know what he was going to say, but it was all right because he never finished saying it. Sherlock hauled him close and kissed him, clumsily. It was awkward because of the height difference and Sherlock’s teeth bit into John’s lip, and he tasted a bit of the curry they’d had for dinner. It was really one of the best kisses of John’s life.

It was also the worst, because it was also goodbye.

“I’ll tell them about you,” said Sherlock. He whispered into John’s ear, clutching him close. “When they ask me to explain things like bravery and loyalty and love, I’ll tell them about you. You’re my only frame of reference for those things.” He looked at John. “You’re the only one I need.”

John blinked up at him. “I wish I could think of something to say,” he said. “Something memorable, like in the films.”

Sherlock smiled. “That’s because you’re an idiot and a sop,” he said. “I’ll miss that terribly.”

“Me too,” said John. He kissed him again. “Go. Don’t make them wait, they might change their minds and blow us up or something.”

He shoved Sherlock toward the ship, forcing himself to watch him as Sherlock stumbled and looked back him, expression unreadable, then began walking toward the light. John waited for a John Williams score to play in his head, but all he could hear was the sound of his heart beating wildly in his ears. Or breaking.

Then, John realised something.

What the hell am I doing?

He didn’t belong on Earth either. What the hell did he have here that was worth sticking around for? A drunk for a sister who only tolerated him via blog comments, a part-time job he didn’t particularly like, and a pathetic excuse for an Army pension. His parents were dead, and the only people he had for friends were all associates of Sherlock’s, who likely wouldn’t bother with him without that connection in place.

Sherlock had given him purpose. With Sherlock gone, what then? He’d be alone, a strange little man who’d seen and done things no one would ever understand or even know about. It might drive him mad. It would certainly drive him mad.

Not to mention, it would be terribly boring.

Mind made up, John began to run toward the light and the door and Sherlock’s retreating figure. As Sherlock stepped up onto a metal platform, John launched himself at him.

“Surprise,” he said, breathless as the door began to close around them, and everything was light and Sherlock’s smile.


Mycroft waited until the ship had become little more than a distant speck of light in the sky before he turned and went back to the waiting car. It would be a long, quiet trip back to London, and London would never be the same again.

As he wiped his eyes, however, while his assistant politely kept her own on her Blackberry, he smiled. He thought of the little boy in the garden and the soldier who loved him, and knew they’d be quite all right up there, having the grandest adventure imaginable.

He only hoped the extra-terrestrials knew what they were getting themselves into.

- end -
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