The S.S. Johnlock

Of the many, many ships docked at the BBC marina, the S.S. Johnlock is by far the most complicated. Well in my mind, anyway. Maybe that’s why I end up sitting by myself in the corner, alone, while everyone else is winking, kissing, having sex in dark corners, and professing their undying love for each other. Don’t get me wrong, I totally adore Johnlock. The only consulting detective in the world and his only friend versus all of the villains in London? It’s genius. But their relationship is so much more than a definition. It may have something to do with the amount of times they end up in life-and-death situations where one saves the other. Or, it may have something to do with the fact that each of them saved each other the minute they moved into Baker Street. Don’t believe me? Well…

John was suffering from a psychosomatic limp when we first meet him in “A Study In Pink”. He was also incredibly touchy about said limp. But what happens when he meets Sherlock? It goes away. He gets over it. Now, Sherlock didn’t hold his hand and make him bucket-loads of tea or any other traditional method of caring for someone. He gave John a purpose, something the good doctor had been missing since he was discharged from the army.

And as for Sherlock? He was alone. He never realised it, maybe didn’t really care, but he was. And then John Watson walked into his life and he found someone worth caring about. Someone who may not be as smart as Sherlock, but acts as a catalyst for some of his more brilliant ideas:

Sherlock Holmes: Listen, what I said before John, I meant it. I don’t have friends; I’ve just got one.
John Watson[Nods] Right. [Continues walking away]
Sherlock Holmes[Calling after him] John? John! [Running after him] You are amazing, you are fantastic!
John Watson: Yes, alright, don’t have to overdo it.

Then there is also the fact that John is someone with whom Sherlock can laugh and joke and not be a serious “high-functioning sociopath” all the time. I think that’s why people love Johnlock so much. There’s emotion, drama, trauma, and enough humour to offset all of it.

[Sherlock and John are in Buckingham Palace]
John Watson: What are we doing here, Sherlock? Seriously, what?
Sherlock Holmes: I don’t know.
John Watson: Here to see the Queen?
[Mycroft Holmes walks in]
Sherlock Holmes: Oh, apparently yes.
[They fall about laughing whilst Mycroft stares disapprovingly]
Mycroft Holmes: Just once, can you two behave like grown-ups?
John Watson: We solve crimes. I blog about it, and he forgets his pants. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.

These two men operate as a unit. They cancel out each other’s failings and make the other stronger. Now, that sounds like a healthy relationship doesn’t it? Any relationship. But the whole of the internet want Sherlock and John to fall in love and have lots of hot, steamy sex. And I totally get it. When you think about it, it is the next natural progression of their relationship. I mean, if this were a completely different scenario, these two totally would have gotten it on back in season 1. Before Adler. But it’s not. Sherlock and John are totally and completely platonic. They just have a friendship that goes deeper than most male relationships. It’s a friendship that I envy. Those two are the epitome of what friendship should actually mean. Only problem is, because they are BFFs and they live together, everyone automatically assumes they’re gay (or, in the case of the cyber-verse, hope they’re gay).

John Watson: Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes, but… for the record, if anyone out there still cares — I’m not actually gay.

I care, John. And I absolutely 100% know that you are straight. Even if neither you or Sherlock can keep your girlfriends’ names straight. Or that you always take calls from Sherlock over calls from a girl who may let you sleep with her.
Because I get it: a man like Sherlock obliterates all else. Not in a romantic way, , but like in a solar eclipse. (as we see from “The Empty Hearse”. And, as a sidebar, can I just say how much I like Mary? I mean, Sherlock lied to her fiancé about being dead, comes back, and instead of being furious about the whole emotional distress thing Sherlock put John through – don’t get me wrong, I bet she wasn’t thrilled with it – she seems to understand Sherlock. More importantly, she seems to understand the relationship between the two men, telling Sherlock that she’ll “talk [John] round” after he gives Sherlock a bloody nose and storms off. I much prefer her to Jude Law’s Mary. This one is so much more awesome.) Sherlock is a once in a generation kind of man, and John happens to be along for the ride, witnessing his genius and seeing how he solves his cases. If I were John, I’d blow off an ordinary Joe for a chance to hang around with Sherlock. No question.

So I understand and completely adore the relationship between Sherlock and John; but I love it the way it is. I don’t need them to become a couple because, in my mind it’s far too…common. A relationship like that boiling down to sex? It seems slightly insulting to both parties.

Now I’ve just offended all of my fellow passengers on board the S.S. Johnlock. I am so very sorry. But, you know, I will stand my ground.

I just came off a very, very  long aversion to fan-fiction. After reading some that completely butchered some of my favourite characters, I took a long hiatus. But the lovely folks over at The Collective, brought me back into the world of non-canon literature through this lovely post about the best Johnlock fics. And after two years of no Sherlock, watching “The Empty Hearse” brought on a bit of a Sherlock binge. So I’ve started reading these fan-fics and so far I’ve come across two that I find the most realistic: Alone on the Water by MadLori and The Heart on Your Sleeve by flawedamythyst.

Alone on the Water explores the concept of Sherlock being diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is excruciating  to read, but MadLori perfectly captures my Johnlock. She is a brilliant writer and, hopefully one day I’ll be reading something of hers that I found on a shelf in a bookshop somewhere. My only problem with this story was that, as Sherlock closed his eyes for the last time, John kissed him. And I felt ripped off. Now, it’s a Johnlock fic, so of course that was going to happen, but I felt that Sherlock, John, and I were cheated. Everything was perfect, down to John’s frustration with Sherlock’s aloofness, but it all ended with a kiss? Not a hug, or a comforting moment of locked gazes as Sherlock drifted away into oblivion, but a romantic gesture. Ugh. I want to reiterate that this was still one of the best fics I have ever read, but I suppose I’m fussy with my Johnlock.

flawedamythyst, for her story, came up with the brilliant concept of “heartmarks”, a heart-shaped mark on the inside of the wrist that shows what your emotional state. And instead of having a blank heartmark as he expected, Sherlock’s is an array of vivid colours. All because of John. Listen to this:

“[Sherlock] looked at it himself. It was even darker now, like dried blood, and the yellow streaks were a sickly mustard colour. There was also a jagged black line cutting it in two, and he remembered the crack in his chest. Who knew Sherlock Holmes had enough of a heart for it to splinter?”

This was after “The Reichenbach Fall” and Sherlock having to leave John. The yellow streaks? Unrequited love. Superb. But you know, in my version of Johnlock, this could just be the unrequited love for a friend. See, Sherlock hasn’t had friends before. Now he has John. Or he likes to think he has John. So when John reveals his heartmark [SPOILER] as the twin of Sherlock’s, it is a beautiful moment. But, again, it is resolved in a kiss. This time it was expected, but for me a hug or even a trip down the pub to have a few drinks would have been way more convincing. As before, flawedamythyst is a talented writer, and she obviously has her own ideas of Johnlock – as does everybody – but mine is just dramatically different.

I really hope they don’t kick me off the S.S. Johnlock for this post. It’s just, John and Sherlock have something so much more than a mere relationship, or partnership. They just…are. Which is why that final scene in the Reichenbach Fall was so painful to watch:

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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2 Responses to The S.S. Johnlock

  1. This is a beautiful post , and I think you really grasp the complexity and intensity of John and Sherlock’s friendship. Perhaps you should be at the helm of S.S. Johnlock.

    P.S. I read another johnlock fic that I think you may appreciate. It’s called “The Quiet Man.” It’s post-Reichenbach from John’s POV and it really details his grieving process. It’s very well written.

    • Bec Graham says:

      Thank you! I can see myself in the deerstalker, overcoat, and blue scarf commanding that mighty vessel. Sherlock and John are my favourite TV bromance. (Will and Jem are my favourite book bromance). There’s just so much there. Watching The Great Game at the moment and those two are just fabulous. Sherlock watching John leave? Beautiful.

      I am looking up that fanfic now 🙂

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