Sherlock’s fingers tapped quickly against the tabletop, one side of his face pressed against it nearby, grinning. His mind was alive and he was alive and the table was lovely and cool against his skin…
“Oh!” he exclaimed, suddenly shooting to his feet and punching the air with both hands. He laughed excitedly. His eyes were shining, but nobody was around to see it. “Oh, yes, I’ve got it!”
He ran over to the cupboard and started rooting through it, throwing thing after thing over his shoulder and ignoring the terrible clattering it all made behind him. If only he could find it… It was definitely in here, second shelf, on the left…
“Sherlock?” his name was called from the other side of the door, accompanied by a tap-tap-tapping. The voice quavered slightly. It was Mrs Hudson, worrying and bothering again.
Sherlock ignored it. He was feeling brilliant but Mrs Hudson wouldn’t be able to comprehend it all, she would only rant and try to ruin it. No, no, no he needed to be alone right now because nobody was quite so brilliant as he was and-
He gave up on trying to find the parts to what would have been his greatest (and only) invention, pausing only briefly. He could feel the energy welling up in him from his lack of conscious movement, causing his hands to shake lightly. He stared at them in wonder, able to see the veins beneath the pale skin… The skin felt a bit hot actually. He put his palms on the cool floor to his side, making a pleased little sound, and then stretched. He moved languidly, ending up on his back with his arms above his head, one knee raised, every other muscle pulled taut. His mouth was caught in a perpetual smile. He felt so good, more than good actually…
He groaned, annoyed, when he heard the swift footsteps coming towards him. But he ignored them. Nothing could bring him down from this high. He struggled, protesting, when both of his wrists were caught and he was hauled up, forced to turn until he was sitting, back resting against the cupboards. Mycroft was there, kneeling on one knee, gripping his wrists, and looking furious.
“Sherlock Holmes, look at me.” Mycroft demanded, knowing better than to be anything but firm. His brother was lounging there, fidgeting, mostly naked and still smiling blankly.
“Why would I want to do that, Mycroft, you’ve gained at least three more pounds…” he said with a short giggle, half-heartedly trying to regain his own hands. Mycroft wouldn’t let him. He knew what would happen if he did. It was as much to control himself as Sherlock. He did not want to resort to violence.
“How much did you take?” he demanded. He couldn’t exactly look from where they were. Sherlock babbled. Mycroft called for back-up. “Mrs Hudson! Find his needles and stash, they won’t be hidden. On the table, most likely. You’re coming with me, Sherlock, there’s a good boy…”
“Don’t patronise me, Mycroft. Don’t you want me to be happy?” Sherlock asked, stumbling to his feet and fidgeting some more.
“You aren’t happy, Sherlock, that’s what’s gotten you into this mess,” Mycroft snarled, using his eyes to gesture to his brother’s sorry state. Sherlock laughed, some of the sharp bitterness coming back into his eyes. Just a hint. Both of them were underlined with heavy black smudges, and both of them were wild.
“It helps me, brother. The drugs, they help. I feel so alive, don’t you see? It’s not all about death. It’s not all about deducing, it’s just what I feel. And it’s so good, Mycroft… I need it, you know I do,” Sherlock had used many similar arguments in the past. And many more. He had tried to explain so many times that the cocaine helped him to function. He had tried to explain what it was like for him when his mind was left with nothing to do – and, sometimes, when he had everything to do. He had tried to explain that he was perfectly safe and the drug made him happy, but Mycroft couldn’t see any of that.
All Mycroft could see were visions of his brother having a heart attack brought on by an overdose in his empty flat. All Mycroft could see were visions of his brother’s body after he was sold a dodgy batch. All Mycroft could see were visions of his brother beaten and bruised when people caught on to how much money he carried to swap for a hit. All Mycroft could see were visions of his brother with varying blood-born diseases after using a dodgy needle.
And he knows how unlikely half of it is. Sherlock is a genius able to pick out the full story plus its sequels and prequels from a single glance at a minute detail. He could see if the drug was pure, if the needles were used, and would refuse to use it if he knew it would cause him harm. He would know exactly how much to give himself and at what concentration for the ultimate high, and was skilled in injecting. But that was only when his mind was sober. The drug could easily take over him, start to rule him, fog his thoughts and lead him on to others. It would be heroin next.
His little brother’s mind was too overactive, it needed to focus on one thing and forget the rest, but it was hard for him to manage it without the assistance of a distraction. The cocaine supposedly helped to sharpen his brain and get him on the top of his game again when it started to be overrun with static. It made him feel the confidence and faux-happiness he felt when on a case. He didn’t seem to care that all the drug demanded was for him to take more of it. He was slipping into a world where he would be high constantly, dragging himself outside by his fingernails to demand more of it from the nearest person who could give it to him.
Mycroft may have let his brother down more than a few times in the past, but he would not let Sherlock throw his life away.
“You are going to sober up. You are going to go through hell as your body tries to recover. You are going to fight me tooth and nail for a top up, and you are not going to get one. You are never going to use cocaine again, Sherlock Holmes, and this time I will do everything in my power to ensure so,” Mycroft said slowly, firmly, quietly, and seethingly. He was furious not at the breaking of a law or the use of the drug but by what it all meant. Sherlock was not happy. “Do you understand me?”
He was starting to giggle again. Mycroft gritted his teeth and shook him. Tried not to give in to the urge to slap him.
“For god’s sake, Sherlock, listen to me!” he snapped. He always snapped. “I do not wish to take away your freedom but if this does not stop you will be forced to come and live with me under constant supervision,”
“I am not a child, Mycroft,” Sherlock said, frowning and pushing. The drug was wearing off. He had gone over the peak. Good. “I can look after myself,”
“No,” Mycroft said, feeling broken. “You can’t. You need a babysitter,”
“I do not want or need a flatmate, Mycroft,”
“You may not want one, Sherlock, but you are getting one,” Mycroft replied calmly and certainly, hands wrapped around his mug. He didn’t bother smiling. He didn’t have the energy for it after over a week of this – the withdrawal, the hidden cocaine, the arguing. Sherlock was glaring (again).
“I think I can make my own decisions, thank you. I can more than afford the rent and I enjoy my solitude. Anybody else would simply get in the way,”
“‘Anybody else’ would be able to keep an eye on you. If they were around, I wouldn’t have to be quite so often. Human interaction will do you well,” Mycroft sipped from his tea. “Your flatmate will have to be accustomed to seeing violence, have no history of substance abuse – preferably have a reason to be adverse to substance abuse – and have medical training. Somebody strong enough to haul you around, if possible. You need to have somebody with you constantly, it seems, and Mummy would be ever so upset if one of us died from prolonged exposure to the other, don’t you think?”
“I do not like people, Mycroft,” Sherlock sneered, tenderly treating his bow with rosin to keep from tenderly treating his brother to a throttling. “I don’t get on well with them. Besides, who would want me for a flatmate?”
“Who indeed,” Mycroft drawled, setting his teacup aside. “You won’t be moving back into 221B until you have found somebody to live with. I won’t allow it,”
“You are not my ruler, Mycroft!” Sherlock snapped, getting to his feet with a flurry and lifting the violin to his chin as he did. He started to walk away to the spot he had designated for playing upon being imprisoned here ten days previous.
“No, I am your brother, and that grants me far more power over your life,” Sherlock began playing a horrible string of angry discords, and Mycroft couldn’t take any more. Grimacing, he took an umbrella from its stand and tugged open the front door of his apartment. He hadn’t left it since bringing Sherlock here, but they both needed the break, and had enough lackeys to leave them to do the observation. If they messed up, he would ruin them, and they knew it. “I’ll see you this evening, Sherlock,”
“No you won’t!” Sherlock called back childishly, a little satisfied by the thud of the door returning to its frame. The violin was packed away not long after, taken with him to Bart’s. He didn’t much care that one of Mycroft’s hounds was tailing him.
“I asked for Baker Street. Where do you think you’re going?” Sherlock called, irritated, from the back of the cab. The cabbie was quite obviously on the wrong route.
“I was told to bring you here or lose my job, sir. Sorry, but here’s where I’m taking you,” the driver called back to him, pulling up outside Mycroft’s apartment building.
“Oh for god’s sake,” Sherlock shoved the door open and clambered out, slamming it behind him and storming away.
“Oi!” the cabbie was leaning out from his window, preparing to jump out and chase him. “Get back here, you owe me money-”
“Our Lord and Master can pay you on my behalf!” Sherlock called back bitterly, knowing one of his tails would go and diffuse the situation in his wake. Every cab ride would end the same way and he didn’t feel the need to test it, so he headed for the nearest tube. He could go anywhere in protest but all he wanted was home; it didn’t help his mood that his journey was extended. He eventually made it, dripping with rain, through his front door. He ignored his brother’s presence, entirely unwilling to speak with him, and kept his violin firmly in hand in case it was kidnapped for use as bait.
He couldn’t bring himself to be grateful that Mycroft kept the silence mutual. Especially when he found every stash of cocaine in the apartment had gone – including, mysteriously, the one that had been in his violin case.
Sherlock not only needed to keep himself occupied, he needed to let off some of his frustrations before they worked themselves onto Mycroft. He was glad to find a corpse of Mycroft’s stature waiting for him in Bart’s, and demanded the story of the investigation so that he could spin off some quick lie about bruise formation proving the alibi (he could tell by the nailbeds of the dead man’s feet that it was false) and beat it with his riding crop.
Mike Stamford was one of his semi-regular contacts at the morgue, and quite a sociable man. When he started to question Sherlock’s well-being that morning, owing to the obvious physical signs of his distress, Sherlock decided that perhaps Mycroft would back off given a little proof that Sherlock was trying, and mentioned that he wasn’t sure if he could afford his flat much longer. Lies. He could easily find a decent layer of fault with any potential babysitter offered up to him, after all, and it was his right to be picky.
“You live alone, don’t you? Why not get a flatmate?” Mike asked, having finally moved the corpse onto a gurney for Sherlock’s use.
“Who would want me for a flatmate?” Sherlock asked, pulling back his right arm and making the leather of his crop smack the bloated backside of his brother’s dead lookalike with a satisfying thwack.
When Mike Stamford returned later that day with an old friend in tow it all seemed so convenient that Sherlock was sure Mycroft had had a hand in it. An army doctor – accustomed to seeing violence, strong despite his psychosomatic limp and any other possible injuries and medically trained – disapproving of his brother’s alcoholism and looking for somebody to take the weight off the bills so he could continue to live in London.
Despite his immediate inclination to say something to get this man to leave in protest of Mycroft’s meddling, Sherlock found himself actually considering giving it a try. Unlike what he expected from anybody with the qualifiers of what Mycroft thought would be Sherlock’s ideal match, John Watson did not seem like he would be of much bother. In fact, he came with the possibility of Sherlock gaining a companion and helper who he could enjoy being around. Mycroft was right, he hated to admit; he wasn’t happy. But perhaps if he had something – someone to distract him from the ceaseless white noise in his mind…
John Watson did not introduce himself or even make his presence demanding as soon as he walked into the room. He was a man who liked his own personal space and respected that of other people. He would not bother him endlessly or mother him the way Mycroft did.
John Watson had a psychosomatic limp and a hand tremor that needed to be tested with exposure to stress but the look in his eye was not one of a shell-shocked man haunted by memories of a battlefield. The look in his eye was one Sherlock recognised easily – a junkie, craving his next fix. Only John Watson didn’t want a fix of a substance, as such. He was itching for stimuli for his brain to provide him with his drug: adrenaline. Sherlock could provide him with that easily.
His mind set, Sherlock began plotting a way to give John his next fix as quickly as possible under his scrutinizing supervision (just to ensure he really was a perfect match) and gave this stranger his name and address. He had shown John enough of his strange habits – the deduction, the stubbornness, the fact that his hobbies led to him leaving riding crops in hospital morgues – that if he showed up (which, Sherlock knew, he would) he was almost certain to stay.
Mycroft didn’t interfere when Sherlock returned home to an empty flat that night, telling Mrs Hudson on his way that an acquaintance of his was coming to look at 221B the next day with a view to move into it with him.
Mycroft wasn’t needed. Sherlock, for the first time in perhaps years, did not feel the pull of the drug that had been his coping mechanism for so long. Sherlock didn’t need it.
Sherlock had an army doctor with a lust for adrenaline coming his way instead.