The world is straight, sharp lines.
The world is geometry and angles. It is forces and motion. Straight, sharp lines of cause and effect. When he thinks about it, Sherlock can feel the beginning of the universe at the end of it-- the domino teetering and inevitably falling. The cause that effects all things. Simple.
When he speaks he watches Molly’s face change. He can feel the rumble of his vocal cords, see the way her facial muscles move. He watches her body language, and hears the pitch of her voice. He sees her adjust her clothes, watches her gulp saliva so that she can speak correctly. He knows what she will do next. He knows what words she will say.
He is the cause.
He remains unaffected.
The light flashes and scuttles across the inside of his eyelids. There is silence.
For Sherlock, the silence is complete. The sirens in the distance, the voices outside of his window, the humming in his ear-- they are all explained and compartmentalized in his neat little brain. He does this without notice. He hears nothing but flatness, whiteness, blankness.
There are times when he misses the drugs, and the blurring of the geometry of the world, when the lines would fuzz, and he would step over boundaries. He craves the chaos that felt as if someone went into his mind and gleefully kicked over all of his compartments, tore apart his brain nerve by nerve and danced in the wreckage.
Cause: A chemical transferred into his blood stream via needle.
Effect: Vivid colours. Incomprehensible speech. Beauty and art. Cravings. Need. Pain.
There are times when he misses all of it. Every last little bit.
It’s brain chemistry. Simple. A line of causality so solid he feels as if he could trace it with his index finger.
And still, he aches.
A star is formed when dense clouds of molecules collapse into a ball. Gas combusts at the centre of the star, and travels at the speed of light towards earth, taking hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of years to make its way across the galaxy. The light enters the eye and hits photosensitive chemicals. This creates an electric charge, which creates an electric current, which works its way down the optic nerve. Eventually, the nerve fibres reach the back of the brain and are interpreted by the primary visual cortext.
There are more stars than even Sherlock’s brain can comprehend, and too many parts of the brain that work to create the myth and wonder that surrounds staring up at the night sky. It is throwaway knowledge—useless trivia that clouds and clutters.
Sherlock knows little about the stars. He cannot trace their paths, complex and grand above his head. He cannot trace all of their lines, and what’s more, their effect is not immediate. There is nothing but patience in the stars, large, old bodies moving and burning slowly across the black. The staticness of it makes Sherlock’s skin crawl and his throat tighten. He aches to move.
Sherlock has no patience for the unknowable.
But tonight they are brighter. Tonight they are the light teasing of his roommate and the fading heat of embarrassment―the jeers of how could you not know?
Tonight they are a soft reminder of his flaws and shortfallings, not as painful as he remembers them to be. They are a solution, a life saved.
Tonight they are grand and beautiful and Sherlock’s life is crisp, clear, straight lines and the buzz of adrenaline under his skin.
And he appreciates it, in a strange and complicated way, through the embarrassment and transcending the thrill. He appreciates every bit of it.
Sherlock is distinctly aware that John is watching him.
Every time John laughs, his eyes flicker to check if Sherlock finds it funny.
At his favourite parts, John will glance sideways to see Sherlock’s reaction.
Sherlock should find it irritating, but he doesn’t. John Watson is an open book. He is the most unintentionally honest person that Sherlock has ever met, who never tells you a thing, but never means to conceal. And it is a strange sort of relief, this blatant personality. John does not try to tediously hide from him, and does not bore him with detail.
John’s fascination with the macabre is quieter than Sherlock’s own. John is not bursting with it. He is not uncontained. John holds his chaos inside and lets it burn and smoulder.
Sherlock can feel the restlessness there, though. He can see it under the skin, and in the way John moves, breathes, sighs, speaks.
Cause? A body trained for war and a mind trained for medicine. Genetics. An intellect superior to most, though ultimately deficient. A hero complex brought about by children’s stories and a particular type of fatherly love. An overexposure to terror that creates a cynicism that combats the years of optimism and tenderness towards mankind.
Sherlock is watching John. Sherlock watches everybody.
He is uncomfortably aware of a budding affection.
He remains... what, exactly?
There is a disconnect that Sherlock feels like a chasm. A swallowing chasm of disappointment and darkness that reaches and pulls and infects and has always been there, somehow, unnoticed and ignored.
Why? Why care about someone who has never affected him? Why speak anything but the truth? Why draw clumsy lines between the unrelated, and create unreal, dishonest worlds as some sort of defense?
There is a chasm and he stares across it with some sort of longing.
The darkness is pulling and growing and he doesn’t know where to go. The world is great and he is alone, tracing lines and measuring angles, mapping causes for the irrational and imbecilic. The other. The separate.
It is not effective, what they want of him. It is not rational or logical or right in any sense of the word.
It will not help him and it will not help them.
There is a craving in him, for whatever it is they think is missing. There is a craving, a fear, and a sense of disdain.
He is alone and empty and alien. He is right and wise and elevated.
He doesn’t know what to do with this.
She is a whirl of other and familiarity.
She is sex and manipulation. She is detachment and desire.
Sherlock is thrown of balance briefly―caught up in she who is something entirely new. Who is not John, caring about everything, and yet who cannot help but be pulled down by the binds of sentiment.
Weakness, he thinks. But no, that’s not it, not quite. Because she infects him with it. Because he longs and wonders and hopes and aches. Oh god how he aches.
He is unconcerned with the physical. But she is coldness in mind and heat in action and everything in between, and even as he puts forth his triumph and watches her face crumple into despair and fear he knows that he has possessed but a small part of what she is.
And he wants more. He craves more.
Cause? Curiousity. Challenge. The lingering, bittersweet taste of sentiment.
Effect? Her survival.
It is useful, then, for her to care. For her to love.
But oddly, he isn’t really thinking of the useful.
In rage he sees colours more clearly.
He sees everything vivid and sharp. He feels bones snap.
He thinks very little. There is no world outside of this. There is just blood in his ears and quick assessments that build on his anger. There are sharp, cutting lines and falling bodies. There is the unapologetic.
There is the fear that what he knows could cease to be.
This does not help him.
He sees everything.
There is a woman crying. She cries frequently, and does not even attempt to keep her tears in. There is no sense of stoicism, which suggests a childhood with an open and loving family that encouraged a sharing of emotion. Her clothes do not match. Her top is red and her shoes are green. She is not fashion-savvy, and this furthers the idea that her family thought that she should “be herself”.
She has put on weight recently. Her shirt is too small and sleeveless, so he can see the stretch-marks. She’s just out of school, he can tell by her age and by the resumes in her hand. He can’t read it, but he catches the heading “volunteer”, and the address of her university. The resumes are one page long. She does not have a lot of work experience, and did not have to pay her way through school. The bright colours she is wearing suggests that she was optimistic today. She is naive, then, a sheltered girl.
Her phone in her pocket has lit up half a dozen times since she started crying. The numbers are different, which suggests that she has many friends. The Debenhams bag in her hand has the shape of shoes and a small, cloth item. There is a party tonight, or she wouldn’t have bought a new dress. There is a card sticking out of her purse to confirm this theory. The texts are most likely the friends coordinating. She wants to impress a man at this party. He is not texting her, or she would have certainly checked her phone. The other bag in her hand is clear and holds a salad. She is thinking of her weight today, when normally she would not. There is a sheen of sweat, and it is not a hot day. She has been walking up flights of stairs, because she couldn’t have gone to the gym: she did not shower and holds no gym bag.
She is crying and John is angry. There was something Sherlock said that he shouldn’t have. The woman is crying and he is the cause.
And he should feel regret, he can tell by John’s expression, but he does not. He feels little, because whatever pain this woman is experiencing is negligible compared to the raging nothing that consumes his mind. What he says is abrupt and cruel, making a brief, shallow cut through the fog of boredom. He doesn’t know how she is feeling, and he has no patience to wade through the muddy waters of emotion, not today, and so he stomps off in a whirl. The world is still and he is not, and its emptiness makes him ache and anger. This woman is uninteresting. This world is uninteresting. He expects everything, knows everything.
It is as if he has been punished, forced to sit in an empty room, staring at the blank walls for years on end. And these people? They call the walls art.
She will be fine. She is pretty and John hasn’t had a woman over in two months. She is young and he will charm her. Simple cause and effect. He no more empathizes with her than he would a chemical in a lab. To do so would be foolish. To do so would be dull. There is a cause and a reaction. That is all there ever is. That is all he ever sees.
There is a moment when John’s fear is his own.
There is the cold, steel butt of a gun pressed to the back of John’s neck, and for a second Sherlock imagines what it would be like to be John and dying.
Then it slips out from between his fingers and all he knows is that he wants John alive. There is a blurring of thought, and all of the reasons (the way John cleans up after him with melodramatic sighs and loud mutterings, the patience and persistence in grocery shopping despite Sherlock’s picky eating habits, the quiet but determined companionship that never falters and never states itself) rush through his mind. There is a blinding panic that forces itself through his brain and pushes a desperate shout out of him.
There is this and for a moment it is all-consuming. Chemicals rage through him and he is not bored, he is alive and thrilled and all he wants is for it to stop.
And as his brain—his clever, clever brain—slots the solution of the problem into place, Sherlock longs for the boredom.
The lines of causality blur.
This is self-caused and self-perpetuating.
This is pain and beauty and—
Then it fades and safety settles in.
And all Sherlock wants is more. If only he understood how.
He is affected.