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Novocaine For The Soul

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They had to stand, it was absolutely imperative. Sherlock liked to stand, sitting slowed the circulation throughout the transport, and therefore to his brain. But now he had to be up.

 

Sebastian is fiddling with the stereo system and then—oh!

 

So messed up, I want you here

 

You’re in my room, I want ya here

 

“Sherl, c’mere.”

 

Now in front of me face to face

 

“Sherlly.”

 

And I lay right down in my favorite place

 

“Sherlock!” Sebastian is standing beside him, tugging on his arm, pulling him closer to the stereo system. Closer to the mirror laid out on top of it, covered in stripes of white powder and one rather impressive pile. He hands Sherlock the gold straw they’d been using, it was a cocaine straw, vintage from the twenty’s, and a rather taboo family heirloom of Seb’s.

 

“I’m fine,” Sherlock tries to protest, but Seb’s grip only tightens, probably painfully so, but Sherlock is too doped up to really tell.

 

Sherlock sighs dramatically and takes the straw, bending down to hover over the mirror and choose which line to take, which line is the smallest. Sherlock’s entire head had gone numb and every time he swallowed he felt as if he were going to choke. He didn’t want more, but he did want to please Sebastian.

 

The hand that had gripped Sherlock’s arm moves to his back, caressing. Touched starved as he was, it was this he craved from Seb. That and the drugs. With Seb it was a package deal. He’d fuck you, even hold you afterwards, all as long as you were willing to chase oblivion with him. Sherlock was never one to turn down a good chase.

 

Fingers card through Sherlock’s curls at the back of his head as he snorts the line, and then, with a fist of Sherlock’s hair, he wrenches Sherlock’s head back violently. The feeling of cocaine being absorbed into his system and the sharp pull have Sherlock making a wretched sound as he falls to his knees, hair still firm in Seb’s fist.

 

“Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Seb asks, but Sherlock knows better than to answer, he just stares at Sebastian with wild eyes, mouth hanging open. Sebastian rubs the thumb of the hand not restraining Sherlock over the younger man’s bottom lip. “Want to have even more fun?”

 

Sherlock can’t fathom the need for sex when he can’t feel the majority of his body, but he knows that tone and the look Sebastian’s giving him. He sighs internally before nodding as much as Seb’s hold on him will allow.

 

“Good.”

 

——

 

Sherlock is far too keyed up to sit, his limbs are in riot and the confines of 221B’s living room are driving him mad! But his senses balk at the idea of subjecting himself to the world outside his little cocoon. Short of throwing himself at the mercy of the overstimulating London streets, pacing the flat is the next best thing.

 

If only Sherlock were a runner, but then again, no. Running is terrible on the joints, risk of injury far too great. One case of shin splints and he’d be unable to chase after criminals for months! The idea is unfathomable.

 

But his body needs movement, purpose, design of intent and motion—

 

A song starts up, something by Iggy Pop, if he’s not mistaken. It’s startling, seeing as he was just wishing for a small baggie of Cocaine, just enough to tide him over for the day, or until Lestrade presented him with a worthy case, and Iggy is irrevocably woven into the ritual of Cocaine, at least it was in his school days.

 

“Thought you might try this,” John says, approaching Sherlock from the other side of the flat by the fireplace, where he’d just plugged his iPhone into that monstrosity Mrs.Hudson has gotten them for Christmas and has since sat abandoned on Sherlock’s desk.

 

“Try what, exactly?” Sherlock’s eyes narrow in suspicion as John walks past him and straight to the coffee table, pushing it out of the way along with the two living chairs facing the couch, clearing a large space in the center of the room.

 

“Dancing,” John says, turning around to smile at his flatmate.

 

“I can’t dance.”

 

“I know you can,” John says, pointing an accusing finger at him and calling him out, “I’ve seen it before. Did a whole pirouette thing. It was brilliant.”

 

“I can’t dance to music like this .”

 

“Why not? Haven’t you ever seen Flashdance?” John is directly in front of him now, looking him up and down and no doubt considering his options on how he can get rid of Sherlock’s ‘public school’ persona so he will dance with him.

 

“Pardon?”

 

“Forget it,” John smiles at him once his eyes have made it back to Sherlock’s face, “Just feel the music, or whatever.”

 

“‘Feel the music ’.” Sherlock scoffs.

 

“Or whatever.”

 

“Oh dear god,” Sherlock sing-songs under his breath.

 

“Just try it, yeah?”

 

But Sherlock doesn’t want to ‘just try it’. He wants to meditatively walk this room in a circle until he’s worn a path in the rug. He turns to leave, and that’s when it happens.

 

It isn’t a big thing, and it isn’t violent in the slightest. Just a casual grab on the arm to halt Sherlock’s retreat. But Sherlock feels all the anxious energy leave him in a flash. In fact, all sensation, all his senses, are immediately dampened, gone cold, and underwater, floating up, and barely holding onto his physical form, just by the bite of nails into his palm.

 

John is saying something to him but he can’t hear. Music far too loud.

 

‘Sherlock’ John’s mouth mimes. Perhaps the music had been turned off? Sherlock’s hearing certainly had been.

 

John looks worried, but Sherlock is about ninety-six percent sure he is about to faint, and so can’t find it in himself to care overly much at the moment.

 

Sherlock closes his eyes, feeling a crashing wave of vertigo, takes a deep breath, and then opens his eyes once more.

 

The first thing he notices is that sound is back on—a fire truck races by, birds sing from somewhere, and the everyday white noise of Baker Street floats in from the open window.

 

And the second thing he notices is the light from the windows and how it burns his eyes. It isn’t overly bright, just the normal humdrum grey, the usual pallor of London skies, yet it strikes his pupils like a high intensity light used for interrogation.

 

The third thing he notices is John, sat in a chair across from him. The odd sensation of having found yourself sitting when you had no memory of stopping standing, pales in comparison to Sherlock’s mounting mortification.

 

“You back?” John asks cautiously, folding down the top of his newspaper to address Sherlock.

 

“I—never left,” Sherlock answers dubiously.

 

“Yeah, no. You just seemed to have umm,” John smacks his lips as he considers how to finish that sentence, “Checked out. For a moment there.”

 

“Yes, well...” but Sherlock finds he has nothing to really say, so he shuts his mouth with a tiny click of teeth.

 

“You feeling alright?”

 

“Yes, perfectly,” Sherlock lies.

 

“Tea?” John asks, already making his way to the kitchen.

 

“Two sugars, no milk.”

 

“I know how to make your bloody tea,” John grumbles.

 

Sherlock can tell that John is on edge. He checks his watch supertiously and finds he’s been incapacitated for nearly forty-five minutes.

 

‘Damn my brain!’ Sherlock curses, ‘Function within stated parameters or cease to function entirely!’ He threatens himself.

 

“Tea?” John is in front of him again, holding out a mug.

 

“Yes, thank you,” Sherlock’s voice sounds as wispy as his constitution. He clears his throat and gives a baritone, “Thank you, John.”

 

“No problem, yeah,” John waves his thanks off, sitting back down but leaving the journal abandoned, elbows on his knees as he leans forward, hands clasped together, “You sure you’re alright?”

 

“Perfectly, why would you ask?” Sherlock takes a sip of tea, made to perfection, as always.

 

“Well, you were kinda unresponsive for about an hour there—“

 

“It was forty-five minutes.”

 

“How did you—Nevermind. I know it was forty-five minutes. I was keeping time, you know—But that’s not—That’s not the point, Sherlock.”

 

“Point being?” 

 

John’s mouth drops open in disbelief, he shakes his head before, “Nothing,” he sits back in his chair, grabs the newspaper and fluffs it out, “Nothing. At. All.”

 

“Good,” Sherlock says Into his tea.

 

“Actually, no. Hang on,” he slaps the journal down onto the floor, leaning forward again, “You were out for nearly an hour—“

 

“Forty-five minutes.”

 

“NEARLY an hour, unresponsive--And the thing is, Sherlock, it’s not how you usually get when you go into your mind-palace.”

 

“How would you know,” Sherlock all but snarls.

 

“Because believe it or not, I do actually pay attention!”

 

Sherlock scoffs at that, sitting his tea down.

 

“Are you using again?” Asked lowly, venomously, caring completely outshone by the steel edge, the threat contained in the doting question.

 

“Bloody Hell,” Sherlock mumbles, tucking his legs up into his seat, and then wrapping his arms and robe around them, creating an even smaller cocoon than Baker Street herself.

 

“Answer me, Sherlock.”

 

“No I’m not using again!” Sherlock does snarl this time, “I’ve wanted to! But I don’t. Not anymore. Not since—“ You moved in and told me not to .

 

John is taken aback by that, Sherlock’s unspoken words ringing loudly in the small confines of the flat. John clears his throat, looking off to the side before his eyes settle on the floor in front of Sherlock’s chair.

 

“Why have you been wanting to use again?” He asks gently, but it still hits Sherlock like a punch in the gut.

 

“Because!” He shouts, throwing his arms up, “I’m bored!” Sherlock lifts himself up so that he is sitting on the back of his seat, feet where is arse should be, “You say you’ve been paying attention,” Sherlock has a dark, judgmental smile, “But I have told you time and time again—“

 

“People don’t use hard drugs just because their bored, Sherlock.”

 

“Well I do!”

 

John stares at him, obviously battling the urge to shout back at his mad flat mate.

 

“Then what was it that I just saw, hmm? What happened to you, just now, when you checked yourself out for forty-five minutes “ he says it in such a way as to let Sherlock know just how he was humouring him. “And you looked...”

 

“What?!” Sherlock finally shouts when John doesn’t continue.

 

“Scared.” John finishes quietly.

 

Sherlock stares at him for a moment, at a loss for words, before deciding he doesn’t have to deal with this absolute nonsense and so he gets up and stalks away towards his room.

 

Sherlock shuts himself inside his tiny bedroom and proceeds to collapse on top of his bed. He lays there, face flat on the duvet, for what could have been either hours or minutes, before crawling up the bed a bit and turning on his side, curling up on himself in the fetal position.

 

John Watson could be a menace when he wanted to. And he could be oh so wrong about an astonishing amount of things... So why did Sherlock feel like crying?

Chapter Text

It was raining again.

 

Fifth day in a row that the heavens had opened up and drenched London’s streets with its wrath.

 

Sherlock is in the living room, sat on a windowsill. Window open, cigarette in hand. He puffs away on the stick of tobacco until he is smoking filter, and then crushes the burning remnants into the teacup that he’d nearly filled.

 

He lights up another.

 

John is home; Sherlock can hear the downstairs door open and shut, the grumbled muterances of a man who’d once again forgotten to bring his umbrella to work, even though he’d had five days now to get it right.

 

Footsteps on the stairs and Sherlock thinks of putting the cigarette out, of at least attempting to hide the evidence of what he’s been up to. But he doesn’t have the heart, not today. Today was a day that could have John Watson walking in on him with a needle in his arm and Sherlock doubted he’d be able to rustle up a care.

 

Today was a Black Day.

 

The cigarettes were the only thing lifting his spirits—the slight amount that they were—and he knew in his heart of hearts, that if he’d been given the opportunity for anything harder, he would have taken it without a second thought. Luckily or not, his lethargy has kept him from venturing out and doing so.

 

The door to the flat opens, John comes in, talking about how silly it was for him to forget his umbrella. That you’d think after five days he’d get the hint. Sherlock knows the exact moment he notices him because he stops his mundane rambling.

 

“You okay?” He asks, having walked over to where Sherlock sits in the window.

 

Sherlock spares a glance at the man, sees he’s still in his rain soaked coat and scarf. Then looks back out the open window.

 

“Sherlock?” The concern is palpable. It almost makes Sherlock want to respond. As it is, it only gives him enough of a boost to shrug his shoulders.

 

John picks up the tea cup that Sherlock has been using as an ashtray for the last four hours, trying to count the butts before giving up. He sets the cup back down and gives Sherlock an even look.

 

“Want me to pick up some patches?” He asks quietly, barely heard over the rain.

 

A shrug is once again all Sherlock can muster.

 

John nods to himself and then disappears into the rest of the flat.

 

After a little while he’s back, setting a fresh cup of tea down by Sherlock.

 

This frustrates Sherlock to no end. As if a cuppa would help at this point?!

 

Sherlock makes eye contact with John as he puts his cigarette out into the tea, letting him know it wasn’t just a mistake, and that he’d meant to do it.

 

John pulls his lips into his mouth and bites them in that funny way he has, and once again nods to himself.

 

Like a bird leaving offerings to a potential mate, or a pagan leaving offerings to a God, John continues to bring Sherlock things, attempting to change his black mood.

 

Every time Sherlock finds a way of showing John that his help is both useless and unwanted—including tossing the pack of nicotine patches he’d gone and bought out the window and into the rain.

 

“Right.” John had said at that, and then he’d simply grabbed a book, moved his chair over so it was right next to Sherlock, and then sat down and began to read.

 

Sherlock glanced at the man every so often, who was making decent progress in his novel. What was it that John was trying to prove? It irked Sherlock to no end.

 

“What is it you want?” Sherlock manages eventually, though his voice is tired and slow.

 

John turns to face him, a soft but sad smile playing on his lips, “Nothing” he says.

 

Sherlock just ‘Hmm’s’ and goes back to staring out the window. He is unable to stomach another cigarette at this point, feeling that if he took one more drag he’d be sick out the window, the contents of his stomach probably landing on some unlucky passers by....

 

Now that he thinks of it, perhaps... ? But, no. He didn’t have the energy for it. If he started puking out the window he’d probably just fall right out of it. Down onto the hard, unforgiving pavement. Down until he hit the end of his life...

 

“Jesus!” John screams, reaching for Sherlock and pulling him back inside.

 

They lay in a heap on the floor from where they’d landed afterwards. Sherlock is soaked, John too, a little. Odd. Sherlock had only been thinking about it, he hadn’t actually intended to—

 

“What in God’s name was that?!” John gasps harshly, still breathing heavily from adrenaline.

 

Sherlock is half on top of him, he can feel John’s shoulder poking painfully into his back. So he rolls over, off of John and onto his side, curling up on himself like he’d been doing far too often lately.

 

“Sherlock?” Comes John’s tentative voice from behind him.

 

Sherlock just curls up more, hugs himself harder, feels himself begin to shake with what has nothing to do with being cold and wet, and everything to do with the storm raging on inside him.

 

Suddenly, a hand on his shoulder, not making to pull Sherlock to face him, but just resting, just testing out this new territory. When Sherlock doesn’t make to buck him off, John scoots closer, crowding in behind him and wrapping an arm around Sherlock’s side.

 

Sherlock grabs the hand that settles on his stomach and holds it tightly, needing to hold on to something, anything really, to help ease this tempest inside that's tearing him apart. Any port in a storm. And today that port was John.

 

——

 

The rain had stopped at some point, and a calm silence had fallen over Baker Street. 

 

That was until someone’s car alarm began blaring into the night.

 

Sherlock lays there on the living-room floor, not having moved so much as an inch since John had put them there and then wrapped an arm around him. It is the most comfortable Sherlock has felt in weeks, even though his body is starting to protest a bit at the hard floor beneath it.

 

The car alarm stops.

 

“Bout time.” John says quietly, breath dusting over the back of Sherlock’s neck.

 

Sherlock hadn’t known John was still awake.

 

“Hmm.” he says.

 

“You talking now?” John asks, raising his head up a bit, neck creaking audibly, so he can get a look at Sherlock’s face.

 

The sun had set hours ago and the flat had gone dark with its loss. The only light available was whatever happened to filter in from the windows. Regardless, Sherlock turns his face into the carpet. Inexplicably not wanting to be seen by the man he was perfectly fine being held by.

 

“Yes.” Sherlock croaks. Doesn’t make to clear his throat. Too much energy.

 

“This still okay?” John tightens his grip around Sherlock momentarily.

 

“Yes.” he nods against the carpet.

 

“‘Kay.” 

 

And that seemed to be the end of that. 

 

Thank God. Sherlock doesn’t think he’d be able to stomach John starting in on the questions just this moment--or ever, if he is being truly honest with himself. But he knows John will ask his questions at some point, for he can feel the need for answers burning in John, radiating outward from his chest and warming Sherlock’s back with it’s hateful heat from where they are pressed together.

 

They lay silently for another little while. Just breathing. Just existing. 

 

It starts with John rolling his shoulder. Then lifting his head up to crack his neck. Then he attempts to roll his other shoulder, the one pressed into the floor. The man sounded like poprocks in one’s mouth. Sherlock feels the need to take pity on him.

 

“You don’t have to stay.” he whispers into the darkness looming out from underneath the couch. He feels as though he is being sucked into it. “You can go if you want.” A deep breath. “If you have to.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere unless you’re coming with me.” John says in a voice that is at once fierce and soft. 

 

It makes something throb painfully inside Sherlock, and so he grips John’s hand tighter to compensate. 

 

John tightens his grip on Sherlock’s hand as well. Presses his body in even closer. Holds onto the man in front of him all the tighter.

 

“Sherlock,” and John’s voice is a wreck. “I need you, Sherlock. I do.” He swallows. “I don’t know what happened today, and I won’t ask. Not now, at least. But, I--I just need you to know that--that--” and then through gritted teeth, breathed more than spoken, “Oh god .” He squeezes Sherlock until it should have been painful, as if he were trying to meld their two bodies into one, “Do you know what would happen to me if I’d lost you?” he sniffs, presses his forehead to the top of Sherlock’s spine, and Sherlock can feel tears there. “I can’t lose you. You understand? I won’t.” And this last part is said as a firm promise.

 

Sherlock hates to hear John in this way, to feel the tears on the back of his neck, issued from the man he’d sworn to protect. Sherlock had told himself he’d lay down his life before he let harm come to John Watson. And here he is, causing him pain. And he doesn’t even know why he’s doing it.

 

Sorry .” Sherlock barely manages to force out. The word issued in a gust of air as if he’d just had all the wind knocked from him.

 

“No, I know,” John shakes his head against Sherlock’s back, sniffs again and raises his head so his nose is directly behind Sherlock’s ear, “I know you can’t help it. When you get like this.”

 

And how? How does John know this? How does John seem to know so many things? Making Sherlock look like an infant in comparison. Sure, Sherlock can see. But John knows .

 

Sherlock had told himself weeks ago when this started that he would not cry . Would not give his body the satisfaction of knowing it had broken him. So he doesn’t. But his breaths do become ragged, his shoulders hitch up and down in a jilted way. But he doesn’t cry.

 

“Shh, shhh,” John soothes him, rubbing his nose up and down behind Sherlock’s ear, smearing tears in his hair. “S’alright, Love.” 

 

Love. God . One word. So much meaning. So much potential for affection and heartbreak. So much. So much .

 

John retracts his hand from Sherlock’s, rubs it along Sherlock’s arm.

 

“C’mon, Love. Let’s get somewhere more comfortable, yeah?” His voice is so soft, so tender.

 

Sherlock doesn’t remember the trek to his room. Nor does he remember falling asleep. But he does remember waking up, warm in his own bed. Warmer for the body pressed up behind him. And warmer still for the peace beating within his heart. 

 

He takes a deep breath, looking at his room cast in the early grey of morning light. He doesn’t know what this means, having John spend the night in his bed, cradling him, caring for him. He doesn’t know what it means. But he does know how he feels about it. And that he doesn’t want it to stop.

Chapter Text

A case comes, as one always does. And then another. And another. 

 

Weeks go by in this fashion, one puzzle after another. It’s a distraction. There is no exaltation or elation of the soul. Sherlock’s lethargy had worn off, but his world still remained in varying shades of grey. Even taste had become muted. Smell becoming a blur of sameness. Everything swirling together in a humdrum mix of apathy and agony.

 

He’s been awake for seventy-four hours. They’d solved the case five hours ago. Ever since Sherlock has been sitting on his hotel bed, staring at the blank wall across from him. 

 

They were in Glasgow, an interesting murder-suicide gone just murder. They’d caught the killer. The local PD having thanked Sherlock profusely. He should’ve preened in the acknowledgment. He should have glowed from the praise. Beamed at the recognition of his talents. He and John should be eating take-out together now, laughing about this and that, about nothing in particular. But instead…

 

“Sherlock.”

 

Sherlock doesn’t turn around to acknowledge he’s heard John, or say anything in return, but he does tilt is head, ever so slightly to the side. He is listening, to whatever John has to say.

 

“What do you need?”

 

Such a simple question. Such an impossible answer. 

 

I don’t know what I need, but I know what I want.

 

Sherlock cannot bring himself to say it, so he simply allows himself to fall over onto his side, tucking his legs up on the bed. Coat still on. Shoes still on. Laying on top of the duvet. He doesn’t say a word or move besides this.

 

He can hear the springs of John’s own hotel bed creak as he lifts himself off them. Then he can feel the bed dip as John joins Sherlock on his. It is not long before that now familiar warm presence is behind him once more. The only balm he’d found to comfort his soul. 

 

Sherlock had been waiting for this--John and him together in this way--to become mixed and blurred with the grey sameness of everything else. But this alone had stayed his. Theirs . Untouched by the wretched thing making a misery of Sherlock’s life. Feeding on his life force from inside his own head. This alone remains pristine in all it’s colors, smells, and sensations. Perhaps it is because Sherlock never allows himself to look. Whenever they are together in this way, it is always John’s front to Sherlock’s back. He can hear, feel, smell, John. But cannot see him. Perhaps this is their saving grace.

 

“We’ll be through the thick of it soon.” John says.

 

Sherlock hopes that John is right. And prays that he isn’t.

 

------

 

Sherlock wakes to complete darkness with a strangled gasp. He doesn’t know what he had been dreaming of, or if he’d even been dreaming at all. All he knows is that his heart now hammers painfully inside his chest, and his breaths come as harsh gasps. His body shakes from head to toe, and he is covered in a fine sheen of cold sweat.

 

“It’s alright, Love. It’s alright. Shh, shhh. That’s it. You’re awake now. S’alright.” John is brushing the sweat-matted hair away from Sherlock’s forehead, petting his face and hair. Shushing him and soothing him until Sherlock finally begins to settle.

 

“J-John?” he asks. Who else would it be? No one has ever shared a bed with him before. He doubts anyone ever will again. Not after John decides it is time to leave it.

 

Oh .

 

That’s what the nightmare had been about. About John leaving. Not Sherlock. Not the flat, even. Simply Sherlock’s bed. And that had caused Sherlock to panic in such a way that it had brought him to consciousness, gasping for air, for comfort, for John.

 

“I’m here, Love.” Sherlock has begun to shake again at the memories of what had awoken him. “What is it, Sherlock? What’s wrong.”

 

“When I get better--” Sherlock tries but his throat convulsively swallows, effectively cutting him off.

 

“Soon, Sherlock. Soon.” John had obviously heard that as ‘When will I get better’. 

 

“No,” Sherlock shakes his head.

 

“Yes, Love. Soon. You’ll be right as rain before you--”

 

No .” Sherlock says more forcefully. “Not what--what I was going to say.” he tries to control his stammering, but his body shakes so intensely it’s making his teeth chatter.

 

“What were you going to say?” he is still petting Sherlock’s hair, the side of his face. Sherlock turns into John’s palm where it has come to rest on his cheek.

 

Sherlock takes a deep breath, can smell John, the scent concentrated at his pulsepoint. Can smell his own sweat coating John’s palm. 

 

“When I get better...What---what will happen?” 

 

John is silent for a moment.

 

“How do you mean?” he asks quietly.

 

“This,” Sherlock brings his hand up to place over John’s, making him press firmer against his face. 

 

“Sherlock,” John scoffs in disbelief, “It’s whatever you need. Always has been.”

 

“But what if,” Sherlock swallows down the bile that rises up at the question he needs to ask, “What if when I’m better. What if I don’t need it anymore.”

 

Sherlock can’t see John’s face in the dark, but can feel something shift in the man beside him.

 

“It’s whatever you need.” he pauses, “Or don’t need.” he tries to remove his hand, “It’s whatever you want, Sherlock.”

 

Sherlock refuses to let John retreat.

 

“What if this is what I want?”

 

John pauses.

 

“What if I don’t want this to stop, just because I don’t need it anymore. What if I still want it.” Want you. Close to me. In my bed. In my arms.

 

Suddenly John’s lips are pressing against Sherlock’s forehead, making Sherlock gasp.

 

“Then yes, of course,” he breathes out, leans back, apparently able to see Sherlock’s face even though Sherlock can’t see his. “Of course this can stay. I can stay. We can stay, like this. For as long as you want. And as much as you want.”

 

“What if I never want it to stop?”

 

“Then… good.”

Chapter Text

As often happens, a drastic upswing follows Sherlock’s downed spirits. One day he wakes, revitalized and energized. Almost uncomfortably so. As if he is hooked up to some machine, being shocked, sparks zinging out across his nervous system, setting him alight.

 

It’s four in the morning before John wanders into the sitting room. He rubs at his eyes and peers into the mostly dark room before his eyes land on Sherlock sitting in front of his microscope, watching the magnificent chemical reaction the instrument allows him to observe. Though he’s still very  aware of John’s presence. Almost as if he’d known it all his life.

 

John walks over to him, leans a hand on the back of Sherlock’s chair, looking over his shoulder even though he couldn’t possibly see what Sherlock is seeing unless they were to trade places.

 

“Feeling better?” he asks quietly.

 

 Sherlock ‘Hmm’s’ in the positive. 

 

John leans down until he can put his chin on Sherlock’s shoulder, “Well that’s good, isn’t it?”

 

It’s not really a question, even if it is posed as one. Rhetorical . Because of course it should be good that Sherlock is feeling better. Of course... But Sherlock feels as though he must answer all the same. The only problem being that he doesn’t know how. 

 

Even after that night in Glasgow, Sherlock had still remained uncertain of where John and he sat with each other. They were not dating, at least not to Sherlock’s knowledge. Yet John spent more time in Sherlock’s bed than he had any of his endless string of girlfriends. Only, funnily enough, that string had ended. Snapped. Ever since that night with the rain and the window. John hadn’t been seeing anyone at the time and then had simply not seen anyone afterwards. Had he been too caught up with helping keep Sherlock’s black mood under control that he hadn’t been able to seek out the next girl in line? 

 

A yawn bursts from John. He moves so his forehead is resting on Sherlock’s shoulder instead so he can indulge in the forced intake of air. Sherlock feels the urge to yawn himself, but manages to keep it inside.

 

“I’m going to go make breakfast.” he says, squeezing Sherlock’s shoulder as he lets go of him. “Want anything in particular?” he asks over his shoulder as he heads into the kitchen.

 

“Not hungry.” 

 

John pauses—Sherlock can see it out of his periphery—but then continues on. 

 

“You’re eating.” he says with an air of finality.

 

------



It was just after a case. They were walking away from a crime scene, having solved it all in under thirty minutes without even having to go far--the killer had still been there, hiding in a hidden room of all places. John had called Sherlock brilliant, even as the angry killer was being carted off in the background, yelling and gnashing his teeth like an enraged dog. John had only had eyes for Sherlock. 

 

Lestrade had called after them, but they’d ignored him. They knew this song and dance. Knew they’d just come in tomorrow morning and fill out their reports. It was just a habit of Lestrade’s to insist they immediately come down to the Yard after they finished a case. 

 

But they had far more important things to do.

 

“Angelo’s?” Sherlock suggests.

 

“Perfect.” John smiles up at him.

 

-----

 

During the case, Sherlock had barely slept. And when he had, it had always been on the couch, or in the bed when John was not there, as John had taken to sleeping in Sherlock’s bed over the past few months, due to Sherlock’s constant need for his contact. Sherlock didn’t want to kick John from his bed. But he also did not want to join him there.

 

Sherlock was still confused. Too many pieces of data still floating about. 

 

Going by John’s behavior, he was prone to think that he and John were becoming… romantic partners? Was that the term? Nevertheless, John had changed they way he acted around Sherlock and reacted to him as well. 

 

But John was not gay.

 

That was a vital piece of information that Sherlock could not let himself forget. 

 

How many times had John shouted it at others, even Sherlock himself? John was not gay. He wasn’t. Everyone knew. Everyone was aware. Just as evenly as they knew that Sherlock, in all probability, was rather ‘gay’.

 

If it came right down to it, and one was forced to decide, Sherlock preferred men vastly over women. In fact, he preferred men entirely. 

 

John, however, was the exact opposite.

 

It could never work! Sherlock knew this, he reminded himself of it constantly. And yet…

 

“Need something?” John asks. He’s sitting in a chair across from the couch--where Sherlock sits, pondering--and had his bare feet up on the coffee table, laptop propped up on his knees, typing away--no doubt about their latest case. He’s smiling over at Sherlock and Sherlock can barely take it. It’s all so domestic, so cheery, so...well, God, he wasn’t going to say romantic.

 

“Hmm? No.” Sherlock answers, shaking his head. He needs to get himself under control. That’s the third time in the past two hours that he’d been caught staring at John. And it was only just now turning eleven in the morning.

 

“Okay.” John says with a smirk, resuming his incessant typing.

 

“What?” Sherlock narrows his eyes.

 

“Nothing.” John bites his lips to hide his smile.

 

------

 

It was exactly twelve hours later, eleven pm. John had just let out his sixth yawn in a row, and at this point they were getting contagious. 

 

“Alright.” John says, shutting off the telly. “Time for bed, I think.”

 

“Goodnight.” Sherlock says distractedly. He’s trying to fill out a spreadsheet with every CAS number he could remember. So far he’s at three-hundred and twenty-six, and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

 

“Come on, then.” 

 

Sherlock looks up from John’s laptop, to where John is holding a hand out, apparently for Sherlock to take.

 

“What are you doing? Why are you holding out your hand like that?” Sherlock asks, beyond confused.

 

“So I can help you up.” John smiles down at him.

 

“But why?” Sherlock draws his brow together in apprehension.

 

“So I can take you to bed.”

 

Sherlock realizes his mouth has dropped open and so shuts it with a click of teeth.

 

“John, I--” But what to say?

 

“Don’t worry. I’ll only stay if you ask me to.” His smile is warm and kind.

 

Sherlock thinks he may have had a minor mental break.

 

“But… I’m not tired?” 

 

“It’s been three days. Time for bed.” John shakes his hand a little to emphasis.

 

Sherlock takes a breath, ready to protest, but stops himself. This could be a treasure trove of useful data to add to his other spreadsheet, the one about John. It’s called ‘Is he or isn’t he?’ though he’s thinking about changing the title to ‘Are we or aren’t we?’. Of course this is all on Sherlock’s laptop, password protected and encrypted to make even Mycroft’s most prominent hackers break a sweat just looking at the firewalls.

 

“Al-right.” Sherlock says jiltedly, snapping the laptop shut and then taking John’s hand. 

 

Sherlock suppresses a shudder at the feel of his hand sliding into John’s. John’s hand is warm, very warm, and soft. Not as soft as Sherlock’s, but it’s not as if he went around noticing the softness of his own skin constantly. And John's hand is nice and dry as well. Which makes Sherlock feel all the more embarrassed at his own cold and clammy one.

The skin of Sherlock's hand may be soft but only in the places not marred by scars and calluses, even the odd calcium deposit from too many days spent writing with pen on paper. Looking at his hand now he can see on the back of it the little white specks where acid had come into contact with his skin during an experiment when he hadn’t had the energy to put on gloves. And there, next to his thumb, is the stab mark from when he was seventeen. He always tells people he was stabbed trying to apprehend a criminal, but instead he was just a very bored teenager trying to relieve some of that boredom by stabbing around his fingers with a knife as fast as he could.

 

Sherlock wants to tell John all these things, from how nice his hand feels, to the stories behind every imperfection on his own. Instead he allows John to pull him to his feet. 

 

John does not release his hand.

 

“This okay?” John asks, still with that blasted warm smile that had no right to be so disarming.

 

“Perfectly,” Sherlock’s voice squeaks and he has to clear his throat, “Perfectly, perfectly.” He coughs and looks at anywhere but John, before narrowing his eyes in defiance at his own embarrassment and giving John an almost-glare. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

 

“Just checking.” That damned smile! “Come on, then.”

 

He leads Sherlock to his own bedroom. They hold hands for the entire journey. 

 

At the door John finally releases Sherlock and goes for his bed, pulling back the blanket and sheet, as if this were some posh hotel and John was a merry maid. 

 

“Alright then.” he sighs in contemplation, looking about the room. His eyes land on the pajamas laid out on Sherlock’s bed. Sherlock’s pajamas. When did he do that? Sherlock doesn’t remember John really leaving his sight today, but then again everything got a bit muddled as he had attempted to pull from the deepest recesses of his mind-palace the CAS number for convallaria majalis absolute , which of course had been 68916-82-5. “I guess you’re all set.”

 

“Yes… “ Sherlock says in lieu of anything else. 

 

“Right.” he smiles again. “I’ll just be off, then.” 

 

John makes it to the door before,

 

“Wait.”

 

He pauses.

 

He’s moved past Sherlock, behind him, but Sherlock cannot turn around for the life of him. 

 

“What did you mean that you’d stay, but only if I wanted you to?”

 

“Just exactly that.” John chuckles. Sherlock is grateful that he doesn’t make to come back into Sherlock’s field of vision. In fact, he’s fairly certain John has his back to him as well. What an odd way to carry on a conversation. Also how brilliant. This way, Sherlock can’t get overwhelmed and ruin things. “I’ll stay,” he says, “But only if you want me to.”

 

“But what do you mean when you say ‘stay’.” 

 

There’s a deep breath from John. He lets it out slowly. 

 

“That I’d sleep here tonight. Next to you. If you wanted.” The timbre of his voice has changed from that airy, happy-go-lucky cadence it had been stuck in near all day, and into something much more serious.

 

“But I don’t need it anymore. I’m not in an episode.” Sherlock has gone very quiet for some reason, and can’t seem to raise his voice. Suddenly every word he speaks seems amplified ten-fold in the small space of the bedroom, and he can feel them reverberating off the walls and crashing back into him.

 

“I thought we had already discussed this.” From the change in John’s voice, Sherlock can tell he’s turned his head around to look at the back of Sherlock’s. “It doesn’t just have to be what you need. It can be what you want too.”

 

“But why would I want that?” 

 

The sound of fabric shifting let’s Sherlock know John has just shrugged.

 

“I don’t know. Maybe because it’s nice.”

 

“Nice?” 

 

“Yeah.”

 

Sherlock has to turn so he can see John out of his periphery.

 

“Do you… like it?” he asks so, so quietly he worries John wasn’t able to hear him.

 

John turns around to fully face Sherlock’s back, and Sherlock draws in a sudden breath and snaps his head forward once more. Those eyes of his are so overstimulating. It is the unmaking of Sherlock and he knows it.

 

“I do, yeah.”

 

Sherlock swallows.

 

“Can I hug you?”

 

Sherlock blinks rapidly.

 

“Hug?”

 

“Yeah. From behind, don’t worry.” 

 

“That is--wait, how did you know?” Sherlock turns his head to the side so he can see John once more. The other man is smiling softly. He shrugs his shoulders again.

 

“Just seemed to make the most sense. Contact is fine as long as you can’t see me.”

 

“That’s not… “ Sherlock trails off. Swallows again. Nods. “Yes.” he says breathlessly. “A hug is… fine. S’fine.” He shakes his head several times, trying to clear it. Was this a fever-dream? Had he taken drugs at some point today and simply forgotten?

 

Arms wrap around Sherlock’s waist and it knocks all the air from his lungs.

 

“Y’okay?” John asks.

 

“Yes.” Sherlock croaks. Clears his throat. “Yes. Fine. It’s… fine.” It’s marvelous. Amazing. It’s electric and static all at once. Familiar and unknown. It’s smooth and rough and fire and ice, sweet and so very, very… warm. Sherlock clears his throat.

 

John steps in closer, pressing his front to Sherlock’s back, pressing his face into the space between Sherlock’s shoulder blades, his warm breath somehow soaking through Sherlock’s suit jacket and shirt and setting his skin on fire underneath.

 

This is amazing. This is more than anything he could have hoped or even dreamt for. This is… wrong. 

 

Sherlock feels himself freeze up. He grabs John’s arms where they are crossed over his stomach. 

 

“John.” 

 

John must notice something is wrong. He pulls back.

 

“Not okay?” he asks, worry evident in his voice. “Something wrong?”

 

“Just, I…” Sherlock doesn’t know how to say it without saying it. Oh how he wished he had that capacity to make subtle implications and sub-textual references, the way John and so many other people seem to have. Then he could allude to this. Then it wouldn’t be so damned difficult. “You… do realize I’m a homosexual?”

 

John snorts.

 

“Yeah, kind of figured that when you told me women weren’t your area and that you didn’t have a boyfriend.”

 

“Yes, well... “ Sherlock clears his perpetually blocked throat. “This sort of thing… I mean… Is it… okay?” Sherlock shakes his head at his own stupidity. 'Just make sense!’ He curses at himself.

 

“I told you it was fine that first night at Angelo's. It’s all fine, Sherlock.”

 

“Yes, I know it’s fine!” Sherlock snaps. Instantly regrets it. He sighs. “What I mean to say is. Well, um. What I mean to say--or ask, rather--is that… “ Sherlock lets out a angry breath, and is beyond frustrated at the way his hands have begun to shake. “It’s one thing being fine with your flatmate being into blokes. It’s another spooning up against him every night. Hugging him from behind. That sort of thing.”

 

There’s silence. Sherlock can hear each of John’s breaths as they come and go. He has the breathing cadence he gets when he’s thinking. ‘Not good. Not good! I shouldn’t have said a damned word!’

 

“I’m fine with it, Sherlock. As I said. All of it. It’s whatever you need. Or want.” John finally replies. His voice is not reproachful, a little put upon, perhaps, but holding no ill will towards Sherlock.

 

“Why must it always be what I want!” Sherlock snaps again. “Why can’t you take any responsibility for this!” Sherlock has the urge to round on John, confront him directly, face to face. But he quells that urge, knowing it would just be too overstimulating. Would cause Sherlock to flee before this conversation, or whatever it was they were having, had reached its natural end.

 

“I'm sorry, I--” John sounds hurt. That’s not what Sherlock wanted! He just wanted…

 

“What do you want?” Sherlock asks more gently. 

 

“I already told you I like it. Sleeping with you.”

 

Sherlock blushes at this despite his best efforts not to ‘That’s not what he means by that ’ he tells his traitorous body.

 

“And I’m the one who initiated the hug, aren’t I?” John presses.

 

Sherlock has no answer to that. Because of course John had initiated the embrace. But Sherlock was still at such a loss as to whether this situation was one on a strictly platonic level, or if they were delving into something...deeper. More… Well, Sherlock still refused to say romantic.

 

So in lieu of answer, Sherlock snatches up his pajamas that John had laid out for him, and heads towards his connected bathroom. Though he pauses at the door.

 

“You can stay. If you want.” he looks over his shoulder to see John smiling at him.

 

“Okay. I will then.” 

 

“Fine.”

 

“Good.” 

 

Sherlock shuts the bathroom door a bit too firmly, though he’d hardly say he slammed it.

 

----

 

Later that night, with the lights out and John once again spooning him up from behind, Sherlock feels an odd bout of bravery, and so asks,

 

“Are we in a relationship?”

 

“Do you want to be?” comes the immediate reply, though he’d hoped John was asleep, even though he knew he wasn’t.

 

Sherlock does not answer, and instead buries his head further in his pillow.

 

Come morning time, Sherlock will tell himself it was nothing but a dream. Straight men do not, as a rule, enter into relationships with gay men. Or did John think he meant… a what? Platonic relationship? Wasn’t that just called friends? Hadn't they already established that that’s what they were?! And so Sherlock will bury himself in the morning newspaper and refuse to make eye-contact with John. Even though he will be supremely aware of John’s eyes being a near constant presence on him.

 

-----

 

“Where’s my skull!” Sherlock yells into the empty flat.

 

“It’s in your hand, Love.” John responds, sitting in his chair with the journal.

 

Sherlock has to do a double take as he was certain John had gone out to get milk just moments before. That was the point of the skull, wasn’t it? For someone to talk to while John was out. Oh! No, it wasn’t. It was someone to talk to because he refused to talk to John. That was it.

 

John was being supremely annoying. In that he was being supremely confusing. And that in turn was supremely frustrating. How dare John stump him? HIM, Sherlock Holmes! The world’s greatest Consulting Detective. No, the world’s only Consulting Detective. Yes, that was it.

 

There was a soliloquy that Sherlock wanted, no, needed to spout at his skull in this moment, but found the words evaporating the moment they entered his mind.

 

“Oh, GOD!” Sherlock shouts in frustration, slamming his skull down, perhaps a little too hard, on the desk.

 

“Here, how about I take poor Yorick before he becomes even more dead?” John says, extracting the skull from Sherlock’s fingers.

 

Sherlock let’s him, if only because he’s shocked at the other man’s gall. You don’t just take someone’s skull from them. How absurd! How unheard of! How--How--

 

“I need some!” Sherlock yells at John as he carefully places Sherlock’s skull back on the mantle.

 

“Cigarettes? You’ve got a whole pack there on the table.” 

 

“No.” Sherlock shakes his head darkly. “Far past that now.”

 

John is frozen for a moment before turning his head to the side, a look of angry disbelief on his face. “You cannot be serious.”

 

“I just need one hit.” Sherlock suddenly finds himself pleading. “... Please .”

 

“Sherlock,” John scoffs. “What--no! No, you cannot just ‘have one hit’! What--why would you even ask that!”

 

Oh, so he’s mad now? Good! At least Sherlock won’t be alone anymore. 

 

“Because it’s hardly as if I can make it across the room in this state, let alone out of the flat to--”

 

“I’m not going to to go buy drugs for you.” John seethes. He’s breathing hard through his nose. His skin has turned an odd shade of red. A vein pulses angrily in his temple. 

 

“Fine then.” Sherlock tosses a blase hand, rolling his eyes. “Just thought I’d ask, as you were the easiest option.” he heads for his phone. Billy Wiggins is always there in his time of need. Good old Billy.

 

“Wait, hang on!” John marches over, ripping Sherlock’s phone from his fingers. “You are not getting anyone else to buy your drugs for you either.”

 

“I wasn’t going to have Wiggins buy drugs for me.” Sherlock looks at John as if he is being daft, which of course he is. “I was going to have him make them for me.”

 

“I honestly can’t tell if your saying this to me because you want me to stop you or if you’re really just that far gone.”

 

“Pfft!”

 

“No.” John says very seriously, pointing Sherlock’s phone at him.

 

“Who are you to tell me no? You’re not my mother.” Sherlock glares back at him,

 

“No, I’m not. But I am your friend. Am I’m--”

 

Sherlock turns his head to the side, curious. “And what?”

 

“And I’m not gonna let you take drugs.”

 

“Just try and stop me.”

 

------

 

Sherlock’s skin is itching. He’s a live-wire. Everything around him is too much, every sense, every thought. Everything .

 

He’s pacing the floors of the flat. Back and forth and back again. Every step one of exaggerated agony, but the thought of staying still is terrifying. He’d have an aneurysm, he’s sure, if he were to stop his movements. 

 

He’s also talking about something, but he’d long ago decided to ignore his mouth. It was just a floodgate, everything unable to be contained in his mind-palace spilling forth in a string of nonsense that not even he can untangle. 

 

John is standing in the hallway where Sherlock walks back and forth. He’s got his arms crossed and is watching Sherlock’s movements with very tired eyes.

 

“You can’t watch me forever! Just like I can’t watch chemical reactions forever. Just like forever is all eternity. Eternity in a bottle. Bottles of chemicals. Where are my chemicals, John?!” He rounds on John and shouts at him.

 

“I’ll watch you as long as I can.” John sighs wearily.

 

But Sherlock has already started to tune him out again. Too many other thoughts to focus on. Focus. FOCUS! Why can’t he just focus?! He needs a case! No. No no no no. That won’t do! He needs something more, something else. Drugs! He needs them! 

 

“You don’t need drugs, Sherlock.” John says, but even he is beginning to sound unconvinced.

 

----

 

Sherlock jolts awake. He’s not in his flat. He’s in some dingy meth den, by the looks of it. He turns to the side of the mat he’s sleeping on and sees Wiggins working at a table covered with vials upon vials, and equipment all used for one very delicious purpose.

 

“What have we got today?” Sherlock asks, scratching at his neck as he goes to look over Wiggins shoulder.

 

“S’not day. S’night.”  Wiggins replies, very focused on the drip of clear liquid into a beaker.

 

“Time is relative,” Sherlock waves a hand. “What is that?” Sherlock watches the drip as well.

 

“S’not ready yet.” Wiggins rolls his chair to the far side of the table. “Here, take this.” he separates some fine powder from a large pile into a not-so-thin line. 

 

“What, snort it?” though Sherlock is already rolling up his sleeves and pushing his greasy hair back. 

 

“Yessir.” Wiggins hands him a cut up straw.

 

Sherlock takes the straw with a put upon sigh, though he’s already thrilling in the idea of whatever this is and how it will feel once it meets his blood/brain barrier.

 

“If I must.” he says, before leaning down to snort the line. 

 

“Oh, God!” Sherlock shouts in exaltation, standing up swiftly to give it that little extra kick. “God, that’s good. What is that?” 

 

“Little recipe of my own. I call it ‘Ponderance With A Kick’.”

 

“Odd name. Why do you call it that?”

 

“Because, there’s the kick when you first snort it, and then all you want to do afterwards is to sit down and ponder on things for a while.”

 

Sherlock can already feel a strange lethargy washing over him, causing him to fall to the floor. 

 

“Oh, I see.” he says weakly.

 

Sherlock stares up at the ceiling, laid out spread eagle and feeling a lovely sluggishness pulse through his veins, enveloping him in a warm, comforting embrace. Though all he can manage to ‘ponder’ on is John. Where he’s at. If he’s worried about him. If he’s mad at him. This won’t do at all.

 

“Tell me when that other stuff is ready.” Sherlock slurs.

 

“Will do, sir. Will do.”

 

----

 

Sherlock tries to unlock his phone but the screen stubbornly remains black.

 

“Didn’t I just charge this?” he asks, frustrated.

 

“That was days ago, sir.” Wiggins replies, trying to hand Sherlock a syringe. Sherlock scoffs and waves him off. “Sorry, sir. Forgot you don’t share.”

 

“Well I do have some standards, Wiggins. Do try to remember that.” Sherlock looks about the dingy flat with his eyes for the charger he’d brought, but there’s no hope of finding it in this mess. 

 

“Yes, sir. Top notch gentleman as yourself, should have every standard in the world, you should.” Wiggins' words are beginning to slur.

 

“Hey, don’t pass out yet!” Sherlock snaps at him. 

 

“Sorry, sir.” Wiggins jerks himself awake and sits up ramrod straight, forcing his eyes to stay open.

 

“How long have we been up for?” 

 

Wiggins closes his eyes to think, but as that makes him sway backwards, he snaps his eyes open again immediately.

 

“I’d say three days, sir. Though my mind’s a bit… vague, at the moment, sir.” 

 

“Hmmm.” Sherlock routes around for his box containing individually packaged sterile needles. He finds it under a pizza box and opens it up, fishing out a needle and ripping the packaging open. “Now, where’s the cocaine.” he wraps a band around his arm as he waits for a reply. “Wiggins?” 

 

Wiggins has passed out next to him on the futon mattress they have pressed up against the wall as a make-shift couch.

 

“Insufferable.” Sherlock grumbles, miffed at having to look around for the drugs himself.

 

-----



Perhaps Sherlock had taken a tad too much. It’s not as though he were being unsafe. Nothing that stupid. It’s just… sometimes it’s hard to measure out the correct doses when you’ve been on a drug binge for a few days. Though he knows he managed to make a list. It’s in his breast-pocket. So it can’t have been all that bad if he managed to write it down first… Right?

 

“W--Wi--” Sherlock tries to call out for Wiggins, but the music is far too loud, even if he could manage to say the man’s name. 

 

His phone is laying next to his head, however. Sherlock reaches an arm up to grab it, socking himself square in the eye on the first attempt, but eventually managing to maneuver his limb correctly and grab the damned thing. Best to send a text to Mycroft. Just in case.

 

Sherlock 23:49

Nt doi swell

 

Good enough.

 

There’s a reply but Sherlock can’t read it for the life of him. He focuses very, very hard on the keyboard in front of him.

 

Sherlock 24:02

777 Vattier LAne

 

He manages to type out before he drops his phone. He’s fairly certain he hit the send button. If not he knows Mycroft has ways of finding him. Actually, why would Mycroft ask for an address in the first place? ‘Stupid Sherlock. Being a silly little boy again. Aren’t we?’  he thinks to himself in a voice that sounds far too much like Mycroft for his liking. 

 

Sherlock shakes his head, to clear out his brothers interfering voice.

 

“Oh,” Sherlock chuckles at the zapping sensation of the action. He suddenly feels much more inebriated. “Oh, this s’nice, isnnitt?” He smiles to himself. “I’ll just tell tha’ prat ‘o buggeroff when’ee gets ‘ere. All-a false ssssalaaaarm .” he slurs his words together, singing the last part in a strange tune he thinks he heard somewhere once.  

 

----

 

The wind is up

The birds all sing

That you are part

Of everything

Dear Prudence

 

Sherlock’s miffed that it’s not the Beatles singing. Wiggins has the most peculiar taste in music, but you don’t mess with the classics. 

 

He hasn’t opened in eyes in hours, maybe days. Maybe just minutes. Time is relative.

 

Suddenly, there is a scuffling sound. A screaming. Sherlock furrows his brow but doesn’t move. People need to keep it down. They’re ruining his fun!

 

The little yelps get louder, ‘til someone is bursting through the bedroom door. They don’t go for Sherlock, but instead go straight past the mattress he’s laying on and make for the window. He can hear them struggling with it before they finally get it open. 

 

Must be Wiggins. His paranoia had him jumping through windows only all too often. At least they're on the first floor, this time. Sherlock will deal with this later. Hopefully he won’t have to though. Wiggins is fairly self sufficient. That’s why he likes him. That and the drugs.

 

Sherlock can hear further footsteps, heading towards the bedroom from the hall. They are calculated, aggressive stomps of feet. 

 

Sherlock frowns. Mycroft? But why would Wiggins run from Mycroft? 

 

The footsteps make it to the bedroom door and stop. 

 

“Sherlock?” 

 

Sherlock closes his eyes shut tighter and shakes his head. ‘No, he’s not Sherlock. Sherlock who? Holmes? Nope. Never heard of him before.’

 

There are hands on him. Sherlock grunts in protest, “No.” he manages feebly.

 

“S’alright, Love. It’s me. I’m here now.” 

 

Sherlock opens his eyes but the figure he sees won’t stay put long enough for him to deduce a thing, and maybe there’s actually three figures, not just the one. Though who can really tell?

 

“Who--?” 

 

“It’s John. I’m here, Love.”

 

Sherlock has to laugh at that.

 

“Yer not Jooohn .” he laughs again. “He doessn’t know where I am.”

 

“You sent me the address, Love.” He’s trying to get Sherlock to sit up, hands urging his body to move.

 

“Didnooot” Sherlock scrunches up his face in discomfort. “Stoppit.”

 

“C’mon. Let’s get you out of this hellhole.” 

 

“But it’s such a nisssse hellholle.” the man has gotten Sherlock to sit up, though completely supported by his arms around Sherlock’s back. “Stoppit. Don’ wanna go.”

 

“You’ve got to. C’mon.” 

 

The voice is so gentle, soft and caring. As someone might speak when trying to coax a sleepy toddler from bed. This thought makes Sherlock trill a giggle through his teeth. 

 

“C’mon, that’s it.” 

 

He’s trying to move Sherlock’s legs when a bout of panic hits Sherlock squarely in the chest, making him take in a shocked gasp and open his eyes further.

 

“No! Stop it! Don’t touch me!” Sherlock tries swinging his arms about, trying to hit the man. It causes the man to grab onto his arms to stop him. Sherlock is shaking, his heartbeat erratic.

 

“No, stop it, Love. It’s just me.”

 

“What do you want?!” Sherlock shouts at the figure. Still struggling for all he can.

 

“I’m just going to take you home now.”

 

“NO!” Sherlock’s breaths punch in and out of him faster and faster as he panics more and more. “Who are you!? No, stay away!” he takes a deep breath to scream, “WIGGINS!” he calls out. What was the point of coming here if Wiggins was just going to let random men come in and have their way with Sherlock while he was incapacitated? WHAT WAS THE POINT?!

 

“Shh, shh, Love. It’s me. It’s me. It’s John. I’m here, Love. It’s fine. It’s John.” 

 

The hand that was trying to restrain Sherlock has given up and instead is petting his face. Sherlock grabs onto the hand. Stops it’s motion. But doesn’t move it away. He turns his face into it, sensing something familiar. He can smell something. What is that? Yorkshire Red. Gun oil. Cinnamon? No. Cardamom. Generic body-wash for men. Body sweat that smells so, so familiar. 

 

“J-John?” Sherlock asks, body shaking so fiercely that it rattles his chest, shakes the words as they come out of him.

 

“Yes, Love.” The petting continues as Sherlock releases the hand. It’s brushing away tears that Sherlock wasn’t aware he’d shed.

 

Sherlock’s vision clears a bit, and he can see him now, sitting on the edge of the dirty mattress, legs tangled up on the disgusting floor. He’s got one arm under Sherlock, supporting and raising him up off the bed, so Sherlock instead lays more in John’s lap and not that filthy, filthy mattress. And there are tears rolling down his face. Sherlock raises up an unsteady hand to touch them, see if the tears are real. 

 

They are.

 

“Why are you crying?” Sherlock asks, beyond confused.

 

“Just worried ‘bout you, Love.” John gives him a watery smile. “That’s all.” 

 

“Don’t worry about me.” Sherlock scrunches his brow up in further confusion. “M'fine.” 

 

John shakes his head and bites his lips. He looks in severe pain.

 

“Are you hurting?” Sherlock asks, clumsily stroking his hand down John’s face.

 

“No.” He sniffs. “Just my heart, Love.” 

 

Oh

 

----

 

“Go away!” Sherlock moans in between bouts of retching. 

 

“Not likely.” John says under his breath, but Sherlock can still hear it. He can hear everything . Ears hypersensitive due to withdraws.

 

Why won’t you let me alone ?”

 

John just shakes his head in Sherlock’s periphery, and then rubs Sherlock’s back as he tosses up into the toilet once more.

 

-----

 

Sherlock wakes to an empty bed. There’s an instant crushing sensation in his chest, and so he closes his eyes, tries to get himself under control.

 

It’s not as if he hadn’t been expecting this, over the last few days as his constitution improved. John was just sticking around out of some Doctorly duty. Sherlock had finally pushed him too far this time. Finally showed John his full hand. And John was disturbed, disgusted. John wanted to leave. And so he finally had.

 

Sherlock thinks of spending the rest of the day in bed, but eventually decides against it. Without drugs in his system, the next best thing is to try and wrangle a case free from Lestrade’s grasp. Something over a seven. And then he’ll get another case, and then another. If he gets enough cases in a row he can forget about the fact that his heart is breaking.

 

He sits up on the side of the bed and then just stares at his wardrobe for a while. Feeling broken and defeated, in a way that has nothing to do with his recent drugs binge. He already feels the impulse to ring up Wiggins. He’ll give it a few weeks, at least. Knowing Lestrade won’t give him a case if he tests positive for anything. And annoying aware that John and Mycroft would’ve told him about this latest relapse. 

 

“Oh.” Sherlock gasps as he walks into the sitting room. 

 

John is there. In his chair. Reading a newspaper.

 

John turns around and smiles up at him.

 

“Morning.” he says brightly, folding up the newspaper and setting it on the tiny end table next to him. “Tea?” he asks, already getting up to go make it.

 

“I--” Sherlock starts as he follows John into the kitchen.

 

“Yeah?” John asks over his shoulder, fiddling with the kettle.

 

“You’re still here.” is all he can manage to say, and lamely at that.

 

John laughs at this and shakes his head, as though Sherlock is being absurd. 

 

“‘Course I am. Where else would I be?”

Chapter Text

John had been mad. Of course he had. He, as well as Mrs.Hudson, Lestrade, and Molly Hooper, had all given him a good talking to. But.. that had been it. John didn’t leave. No one stopped being his friend, or coworker, landlady, or what have you. They’d all just been… concerned for Sherlock. 

 

Sherlock supposes he’d been through this enough times with the rest of the lot to have expected this, though he was always shocked anew each time. But... John had never seen him through a relapse before. Or a detox. And yet here he was. Still by Sherlock’s side. Still, to the supreme shock of Sherlock, sleeping in his bed with him. Sherlock had never got such powerful, deep, or frequent, sleep in his life. He was compelled to bed each night by the promise of John’s warm embrace. By his accepting presence.

 

How odd.

 

What was this?

 

What were they to each other?

 

“At least pretend to focus, Love.” John coughs, eyeing the crime-scene techs who were shooting them dirty looks.

 

They were at a crime-scene. Sherlock had completely forgotten.

 

“I am focused.” Sherlock snaps at John quietly.

 

“Course you are.” John bites his lips and looks around them again.

 

“You got anything for us?” Lestrade asks, looking more than a little put upon.

 

“It was the husband.” Sherlock says and makes to leave.

 

“Hang on, mind explaining how it is you know that!” Lestrade shouts after him.

 

Sherlock holds up his phone, not bothering to stop. “I’ll send you a text!”

 

-----

 

The cab ride back to Baker Street is quiet; Sherlock hunched up against the door, head pressed against the glass as he looks out the window; John on the other side of the cab, shooting Sherlock worried looks.

 

“You alright?” he asks.

 

“We need to talk.” Sherlock says, but doesn’t make to elaborate.

 

“Right.” John says, looking down at his hands.

 

-----

 

They sit, staring at each other. Sherlock in his chair, and John in his own. In front of the fire that John had felt compelled to build in the fireplace when Sherlock had first sat down but made no motion to speak. They also had a finger of whiskey each, another compulsion of John’s when Sherlock had continued his silence past the twenty minute mark.

 

John swirled his whiskey around anxiously, staring at the amber liquid as he did so. Sherlock just stared at him, his own drink untouched. John, however, had filled his glass twice now. If Sherlock didn’t start soon he feared John would be too inebriated to get any real answers out of. But how to begin?

 

“What are we?” Sherlock says suddenly, shocking even himself.

 

John looks up, eyes wide.

 

“What are we what? Doing? I thought you wanted to… ‘talk’. Or whatever.” He looks back down into his whiskey, concern creasing his brow, mouth twisted up to the side by his obvious discomfort with the situation.

 

“No.” Sherlock narrows his eyes, trying to suss out as much data as possible from the absolutely impossible man who sat across from him. “What are we . To each other.” he clarifies.

 

“Oh.” John’s mouth does another strange contortion, sucking on his teeth, no doubt. “I guess that has been left a little vague lately, hasn’t it?” He looks up, almost as though he’s hopeful. Though definitely still uncomfortable. And apprehensive.

 

“Only a little.” Sherlock offers a small half smile, though it vanishes quickly.

 

Sherlock waits.

 

John looks back down to his glass, sucks in a deep breath.

 

“So,” he starts, decides he needs another drink, polishing off his glass. He finally meets Sherlock’s eyes. “Let’s talk.”

 

“Yes, do let’s.” Sherlock has no idea how he’s keeping his voice so even, but is pleased with it all the same. 

 

John sets his glass down on the end table next to him. Leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees, hands clasped together.

 

“What do you want out of this? Out of us?” 

 

Sherlock looks up at the ceiling, letting out a frustrated sigh.

 

“Why, John, must I always be the one to answer these questions first?” he turns his glare to John. “Remember what I said about taking responsibility?” he raises a brow.

 

“Right.” John shakes his hands a little. “Right.”  he sits back, running a hand over his face. “Right.” he sighs out, again.

 

“I’m fairly certain ‘Right’ is not a designation that one can apply to their relationship with another. Well, not solely that, at least.”

 

John huffs out an amused breath through his nose.

 

“It’s just I'm,” he bites his lips, gives Sherlock a searching look. “I’m kind of terrified with how you might respond.” 

 

“Terrified or not, this cannot go on.” Sherlock looks into the fire, working the muscles in his jaw as he clenches his teeth, feeling nerves wrack his stomach. “I’m getting distracted, John. At crime-scenes. I can’t focus.” He gestures to his head with his glass.

 

“Can I ask why? What’s got you so distracted lately?” he seems concerned.

 

Sherlock scoffs. Takes a drink.

 

“You.” he says. Shakes his head. “And this.” He screws his eyes shut in frustration. “Us .” he sighs, opening his eyes and giving John a weary look. “I have no idea what this is that we’re doing. And If I don’t get some clarification soon I’m likely to throw myself off the top of Baker Street.” 

 

“Don’t say things like that.” John chastises, but then his face relaxes. He looks supremely vulnerable. He looks away. “If it helps any, I don’t know what it is we’re doing either.”

 

“No, that doesn’t help.” Sherlock blinks at John’s stupidity. “In fact that’s supremely unhelpful.” 

 

“Sorry.” John shrugs, goes to take another drink but sees his glass is empty.

 

“Are we dating?” Sherlock asks.

 

John shrugs again, both his shoulders and his lower lip. His grip on his glass tightens. “Kind of teetering on the line, I think.”

 

“Do you want to be? Dating, that is.” 

 

John worries his bottom lip in contemplation. A red flush comes to his face, that Sherlock doesn’t think has anything to do with the whiskey. And his breaths are coming faster and faster. When he looks at Sherlock his pupils are blown wide.

 

He nods his head, though the motion looks like it takes a supreme amount of effort.

 

“Yes.” he croaks. Looks away and clears his throat. Looks back. “Yes. I think I would like that very much.” 

 

“You think?” Sherlock moves his head as if he hadn’t heard John.

 

“No, I know. I--” he swallows. Nods again. “I would like to date you, Sherlock Holmes.”

 

“And when you say date…?” Sherlock raises his brows.

 

John laughs up at the ceiling, rubbing both hands over his face. “Oh, god.” he breathes in humour and agitation. And perhaps also fear. He looks back at Sherlock, a defiant smile struggling to stay on his lips. 

 

“It means, Sherlock.” he takes a deep breath, leans forward again. “That I would like to take you out. On dates.”

 

“Is that all?” Sherlock tilts his head. They’d been doing that practically since day one. Definitely since case one.

 

“And I’d like to feed you up. Put some meat on that skinny arse of yours.” he’s smiling now, and it looks less painful.

 

Sherlock scoffs, looking away, though feels a blush color him at John mentioning his arse in any context. 

 

“I’d like to take you to bed every night. Hold you ‘til you fall asleep. Be there when you wake up.”

 

“We do all of this already.” Sherlock complains, rolling his eyes, though he feels a strange lightening occur inside his chest, as if his lungs are filled with helium and are attempting to leave his body.

 

“I’d like to kiss you.” and this comes out breathless.

 

Sherlock looks to John and sees that the man is dead serious. And, possibly, supremely aroused, going by his labored breathing and the fact that his eyes are nearly entirely black, pupils blown so wide that the color of his iris is only a thin ring around them.

 

“Well…” Sherlock feels his own breathing pick up. Feels his flush deepen even further. He must look near crimson by now. John’s words strike a chord somewhere deep in Sherlock’s gut. They make that light feeling in his chest, and the electric feeling in his stomach, much, much worse. He swallows roughly. “That would be new, wouldn't it?”

 

John breathes another laugh, though it lasts for a fraction of a second. His eyes are so serious.

 

“Would you like that?” asks in a rough voice. Husky and dark, and filled with so much promise.

 

“Oh, God, yes.” Sherlock breathes, and before he knows it John is in his lap, kissing him breathless. 

 

They fall asleep that night, embracing each other, as usual. Only this time they are facing one another. John’s head tucked up under Sherlock’s chin, head resting on his chest. Also they are both extremely naked.

 

Oh, alright, Sherlock’s not quite asleep yet. He can’t help it though.

 

Sherlock breathes in the scent of John’s hair, holding him tighter. John makes a small sound in his sleep, but just nuzzles closer. Sherlock has never felt like this before. So free yet so grounded. So light and energized yet so bone tired and heavy. He’s satisfied beyond measure, in every possible way. He can’t imagine a world where he might need drugs when he has this

And though John had said it many times that night before he’d finally succumbed to his exertions, Sherlock hadn’t been able to respond, too caught up in the sweet rapture and newness of everything. He thinks, now that John is asleep, he may just be able to say it. Speak the words aloud. For the first time in his life. To anyone.

 

“I love you.” He whispers into John’s hair.

 

Though he’s certain John is asleep, his slumbering body still grips Sherlock tighter, unconscious mind apparently happy at hearing those words. 

 

Everything is so perfect. So right. And fine, Sherlock will say it. So romantic

 

He winces at himself for even thinking that, but finds himself smiling all the same. 

 

Perhaps he could get used to this. The romance of it all. As long as he has John there to guide him, Sherlock’s fairly certain he could get used to just about anything.

 

With one last contented sigh, Sherlock feels himself being pulled under into the realm of dreams. Tomorrow will be a new day. Filled with tea and newspapers. Cases and John. And even romance.

 

                                                                          The End