“Have you felt the Vampire's lips upon your throat?”
John Watson had a headache. He was beginning to feel as though he always had some kind of throbbing in his head, though he was usually better at tuning it out. As he read through the stack of documents on the table before him, he quietly chastised himself for being surprised that his flatmate was trying to drive him insane, given that it was becoming a regular occurrence. Sherlock, without a case for a week, had begun what was quickly becoming known to John and Mrs. Hudson as the first phase of boredom: senseless vandalism. Sherlock, of course, would argue that there was some sense to it, but he would also occasionally state that he did not know how to use the vacuum, and for that reason alone was not considered a paragon of sensibility by his housemates.
His destruction of choice that night was darts, which he directed towards a series of decorative milk bottles Mrs. Hudson had placed on the counter behind the sink. As she had put them there John knew they would wind up becoming victims of Sherlock's target practice, but didn't have the heart to inform his landlady that her homemaking would not be appreciated.
“You're an awful shot,” John said, glancing at the third jar to break, and wondering what kind of flowers he should buy Mrs. Hudson this time around as an apology.
“I'm not trying to be a good one,” Sherlock replied, looking at John as he threw another dart at the wall, as though to make a point.
During their last case, the pair had spent the day chasing after a criminal who had stolen paintings from one of the city's museums. It wasn't Sherlock's usual kind of project, but the detective inspector was unusually desperate, and the consulting detective had taken pity on him. He had, of course, made sure that the pictures they were looking for weren't forgeries – after the last incident with stolen artwork, the fake Vermeer, John had decided that both of them had suffered enough for the sake of London's art community. What was supposed to be a simple deduction about the whereabouts of the paintings had stretched into a day long journey, requiring John and Sherlock to run back and forth across London, getting caught in rainstorms every so often, trying to catch the surprisingly fast thief. It was an absolute miracle that neither of them had slipped and broken a bone or caught a cold; John imagined that only death would have kept Sherlock from finishing the case, though even that wasn't certain. Twelve hours later, tired and wet, they had returned home, a bit worse for wear, and in need of some tea. Unfortunately, because he hadn't been particularly interested by the case, Sherlock's period of satisfaction following its completion was very brief.
John glanced over the papers, frowning as he turned the page, and wishing the robberies had been challenging enough to afford him another week of peace. Sherlock continued to throw darts.
“Blood loss victims,” John muttered, skipping over a few pages of police reports.
“Yes, very observant,” the man beside him drawled.
“Maybe you should take a look at these,” the doctor said, turning around to face his friend. “Could be interesting.” He ignored the unamused look that was levelled at him before he had even finished speaking. “Just... for me, all right? And I'm sure Molly'd appreciate it, after what you did with her toes.”
Sherlock sighed. “They weren't her toes. They were just under her care.”
“Yes, and at one point attached to a human body, which was also under her care,” John said, pointing out what he hoped was obvious, “So you owe her.”
Grumbling and rolling his eyes – the closest John had seen his flatmate get to admitting defeat – snatched the papers back and began laying them out on the workbench beside his microscope. Satisfied, John stood, and took his tea into the sitting room, leaving Sherlock to his deductions.
After some time, and a brief, very welcome period of silence, John heard Sherlock's voice calling from the kitchen. “How much blood can be lost by a human being before they lose consciousness? Simply to confirm.”
“About thirty, thirty-five percent total? Depends on the person, really,” John replied, glancing over his shoulder at Sherlock. Though he was tempted, he did not tack on a 'why' to the end of his sentence; questioning Sherlock mid-thought never ended well. He had learned not to interrupt the process.
“And death? Forty percent, correct?”
“As far as I know,” John replied. “The rate of losing it matters, of course.”
Apparently finished asking questions, John didn't hear another word from Sherlock for the next half hour, and returned to the kitchen to drop off his mug in the sink.
“Call Lestrade in the morning, tell him I'll take the case,” Sherlock said, head bowed as he stared at a set of slides in front of his microscope. John, just grateful that his flatmate had taken an interest in the victims, didn't protest the order.
“You're not going to ask why?”
“Do I need to know why?”
“You usually ask,”Sherlock replied. John stared at him for a moment before sighing.
The corner of Sherlock's mouth turned up slightly. “There are no marks on the victims.”
“Each individual lost over sixty percent of their blood,” Sherlock added, waiting for John to catch up. After a few seconds, he did.
“Without a mark on their bodies. All right, that could be a problem.”
“Could be more fun than a locked room murder,” Sherlock corrected.
John's expression was unreadable. Sherlock didn't like that – he preferred John to be expressive, even if that meant asking stupid questions, or becoming cross about Sherlock's lack of emotions towards victims. When John was silent, he felt almost out of his depth, and pitifully human. Almost.
John, looking directly at his friend at that moment, was imagining Sherlock without more than half of his blood. Would he be any paler then, more than he was now, bathed under the fluorescent light of the kitchen? He shook his head, clearing away the image. He had obviously spent too much time staring at crime scene photographs.
“That's enough talking about how fun murder is for one night, yeah?” John said, pushing himself away from the kitchen counter.
Sherlock surveyed him and nodded. “Fine.” He placed the photographs he had moved back onto the pile, and moved back to his microscope. “Sleep well.”
“Same to you. Try to actually sleep at some point,” John ordered, pointing at him as he left the room, and shutting off the lights in the main room as he headed towards the stairs.
He ignored what he was almost positive was Sherlock giving a snort and muttering, “yes, mother.”
That night John tossed and turned, the sounds of the city almost unbearable, with every siren a distressed wail. When he did eventually fall asleep, he found himself running from the black and red stained images in his mind, sure of nothing but the presence of blood.