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Apathy and Other Things Beginning with "A"

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Apathy and Other Things Beginning with “A”

By NorthernStar

 

 

 

Abuse (v) physically hurt or injure

 

“Of course.  The overhang!  I need your phone.”

Sherlock's request had become second nature by now and John had already handed his mobile over before his brain had time to be annoyed.  He had ceased pointing out that Sherlock had a perfectly serviceable phone much closer to hand in his own pocket some months ago.  John had decided it was more that, with Sherlock's brain so highly engaged, it was unable, or he was unwilling to let it, climb down from its precipice to concern itself with such base things as pulling items out of his pockets.  And the same could be said of eating and sleeping.

Sherlock remained crouched in the alleyway, thumbs dancing on the tiny buttons on John's phone.  John couldn't see what he was writing from where he stood – where Sherlock had made him stand for the last hour or so after muttering something about rain patterns – but he could see from the sharp focus in Sherlock's eyes that it was a vital piece of evidence he was relaying to Lestrade.

Sherlock handed the phone back.  John glanced at it but before he could decide whether to be so rude as it read what Sherlock wrote right in front of the man or wait a few minutes until his back was turned and John could at least pretend to himself that Sherlock didn't know what he was up to, Sherlock stood up.

“Chinese?”  He asked.

John's eyes flickered to the end of the alleyway where Jessica Blake's broken and battered body had been lying two days before.  He didn't have time to object.  Sherlock, as always, read his thought processes from his body language.

“It was her father,” Sherlock told him.  His eyes tightened in annoyance.  “Child abuse.  Boring. There's a little place not too far from here.  Trust him, but still keep your eyes open.

Anger and confusion warred.  “What?”  Confusion won, at least for the moment. “Trust what?” Anger rallied.  “A girl died, Sherlock, a fourteen-”

“Your fortune cookie.”  Sherlock spoke over him.  Trust him, but still keep your eyes open.  I guarantee it.”

“-year old girl.  How can you- Her father?”  John remembered Jessica's father, utterly shattered by the death of his daughter but maintaining a quiet and admirable dignity in his grief.  John had liked him.

“Yes. Child abuse, as I said.  The police are so reliant on CCTV these days.  If they used their brains instead of their recording equipment, they wouldn't waste my time with trivialities. Jessica entered the alley there.”  Sherlock pointed down the alleyway.  They had watched this footage themselves and reviewed how no-one had followed or preceded her into the alley.  Then he gestured at the exit, where another CCTV camera had seen her crawling in a desperate bid to escape before collapsing.  “That's where she was found.” 

The distance wasn't great, 600 yards or so, but the alley had no doors or windows leading onto it and the walls were to sheer to climb.  No way for any assailant to enter the alley that would be unobserved.

Sherlock then looked down at the cobbles below their feet.  “This is where she was battered.”

Respectfully, John took a step away.

“Heavy rain the night she was murdered made the collection of forensic evidence difficult but it shouldn't have impacted as much as it did, that suggests the attack took place somewhere where there would have been more water flow that usual.”

John looked up.  The overhang Sherlock had mentioned jutted out from the roof and suddenly he understood.  He could see, in his mind’s eye, the heavy rain flowing off the tiles, running along the eves and pouring like a waterfall onto the ground, turning red as it washed Jessica's blood down the drain set against the wall.

“There's no proper guttering here, but the drain would suggest otherwise.  There are small brackets, there and there, where a drainpipe was fixed.  They would provide suitable leverage for an athletic individual to make both an assent and decent.”

“So you think whoever murdered Jessica climbed down here, beat her to death, then left the same way.”  Sherlock didn't smile but John thought he was pleased than John was keeping up.  “Why her father?”

“Whoever climbed down here would need to be agile and under a certain weight and height.  Unlikely those brackets would hold more than 12 stone.  A man of your stature then.  Her father shares both your height and your build,” Sherlock began. “Although it is unlikely his current fitness level matches yours, I did see he has a history of gymnastic competition.  There were several trophies in his wardrobe.” 

John decided he didn't want to know when Sherlock had rifled through a grieving man's things. “Sherlock, hundreds of people fit that description.” John said. 

Sherlock smiled and the not-quite-smug, not-quite pitying gleam lit his eyes.  “Those brackets are rough, the edges are sharp.  James Blake's fingers were scratched.  He said he had been gardening when we talked to him but the lawn was uncut and I noticed a number of weeds in his flower bed.  Unlikely a man so attentive to his garden that he prunes roses on the day of his daughter's murder would allow weeds to grow.”

“Maybe he wasn't a keen gardener.  Maybe he was just keeping busy.  People do strange things when they're grieving.”

Another gleam, sharper this time, as if it was intended to cut.  “I noticed there were also marks on the edges of his training shoes like they'd been recently scraped against something sharp.”  Sherlock looked up at those brackets.  “Skin fragments are relatively easy to wash away in heavy rain.  Rubber will adhere to surfaces.”

John followed Sherlock's line of sight and finally his eyes caught on the white mark on the lowest bracket.

“That's...brilliant.”  The words were out before he could stop them.

Sherlock turned.  “Dim Sum?”

“Yes...No, we should go to Blake's.”

The detective stopped.

“I want to see this bastard in handcuffs.”

Something perilously close to humour sparked briefly in Sherlock's eyes and John's anger flared to see it.  “Blake's arrest is a matter for the police.”

“So that's it?  Puzzle over, time to eat,” John snapped.  “Two days ago we were standing over the body of a child.  How can you not want to see her killer brought in?”

“Is our presence required in any way?”

“No.”

“Then our absence is of no consequence.”

“It matters.  It matters to me.”  The knot of anger that had formed in his belly when he'd first examined the body began to uncoil, too rapidly for him to reign in.  “You know what he did to her!”

“My knowledge of anatomical damage is extensive.  Yours is superior, of course, but I fail to see the relevance-”

“She was fourteen years old!”

“Regrettably young, yes, but she could not have been the first dead child you've seen.  Nor I would imagine were her injuries the worst.  You were in Afghanistan. Civilian deaths are an accepted, if unfortunate, consequence of war. I fail to see the difference here.”

John froze.  It felt like even his heart froze in that second, arrested in his chest.  It hurt worse than any punch he'd ever received.

Sherlock just stood there waiting. 

John turned on his heels and marched away.

 

--o0o--

 

 

The arrest was over by the time the taxi dropped John off at the Blake's house.  He stood outside for a while, watching the forensic team begin their work, before beginning the long trek back.  He took the tube when his leg began to protest.  It often ached after a case, but rarely during.

He went to Sarah's, intending to take her out but after consulting his wallet, decided pizza and a DVD was more to his budget.  The money he got as a locum was generous, but after he made his monthly debt payments and paid the rent there really wasn't that much left.

He stayed the night on her sofa, even though he had the distinct impression that her bed was also on offer.  He told himself that it was because he didn't want to make love to her the first time with anger in his heart. 

He returned home in the morning to find the flat in an even worse state of disarray than normal. He took one look, sighed, put the kettle on and began to futile hunt for a clean mug, finally opting for the least dirty. Washing up was out of the question.  The sink was still full of water from the Thames in which a human hand was floating.  Sherlock was measuring the rate of degradation of fingernails coated in various nail vanishes.  The hand was meaty and obviously male and prettily decorated with vanishes of different colours and textures.  John wondered if this was quite what the man had in mind when he'd donated his body to medical research.

“Coffee,” came a voice from the living room, “black, two sugars.”

John cast a glance behind him to the sofa, where Sherlock lay with a book open against his chest and his violin dangling carelessly from his right hand.

Arguing seemed pointless so he made Sherlock the coffee, clunked it down beside his silent flatmate and drank his own tea quickly.

“I've got work 'til 8.”  He muttered on his way out.  “We need some milk.”

Sherlock didn't move.

 

--o0o--

 

Week One – Apathy (n) lack of interest

 

 

“When are you going to get rid of the hand?”

Sherlock didn't answer.  He lay on the sofa like a monarch would lie in state, only with less life in his body and less colour in his cheeks. 

“The kitchen smells like Jeffrey Dahmer's.”

Still no reply.  In fact there was no indication that Sherlock had even heard him.

“It's unhygienic.”

Nothing.  John crossed the room and stared down at his friend.

“Sherlock!” 

John sighed.  Sherlock had warned him about his silences that first day and this wasn't the first time he'd fallen into one of these moods.  But that didn't make it any less frustrating. 

He flopped down in the chair and reached for the remote to the telly, swearing softly when he realised what was happening to him.

His left hand was trembling. 

John balled his fingers into a fist, watching as the tension forced the tremor under control only to begin again when he relaxed.  He repeated the action, studying the stop and start of his body's physical manifestation of the ugliness inside his head.

...while working towards a career in laparoscopic and bloodless surgery.  The words on his CV mocked him.  No surgeon could have a hand like his.  His plan for his future stalled because his body hated him. 

He missed the flicker of life in his companion as he concentrated on his traitorous left hand.  Sherlock's eyes focused on the flexing fingers for just a few seconds but then the moment passed and his focus slipped away.

 

--o0o--

 

 

It was Thursday before Sherlock remembered to talk to John and even then it was only to berate John for ruining his experiment.  The doctor had disposed of the hand and bleached every square inch of the kitchen.  The bloated decomposing flesh had made him retch in a way he hadn't done since his training at St Bart's.  He had examined torn corpses left for days in the sweltering heat of an Afghani sun that hadn't smelt that bad.

On Friday morning, John dressed in only black suit he owned and left the flat at the usual time to see his therapist.  He returned to the flat in the evening, his mind turning the events of the day over. 

Sherlock was slumped in his chair wearing the same pyjamas he was wearing the day before.  He looked up as John entered and watched as the doctor removed his plain black tie and shrugged of the jacket of his suit.

“How was the memorial service?” He asked.

“It was...nice.” He answered automatically and then he frowned.  “You knew.”

“I saw the announcements in the paper.  It seemed the kind of pointless ritual you'd feel compelled to take part in.”

“I was paying my respects.”  He snapped. 

“To a dead girl you never knew,” Sherlock's tone was like granite. “Your presence would have meant nothing to her family.”

“That's not the point.”

“There is no point, doctor. However much weeping and wailing there was at her memorial service, it doesn't make her any less dead or her father any less responsible.  The only outcome will be your insufferable melancholy for the next few days.”

“You know, I think I preferred it when you weren't talking to me.”  He began to walk away. 

“Tea.”  Sherlock called after him.

John grabbed his suit and banged the door behind him as he left.

 

--o0o--

 

John ended up in Regent's park, wandering the footpaths and cursing his leg, which had begun to ache.  He had a clear choice between visiting Sarah or his sister but neither option appealed.  He preferred to be on his own.

Maybe Sherlock had been right about the melancholy.

He returned home several hours later and went straight to his room.  He could hear Sherlock in the living room, mercilessly torturing his violin in the kind of slow, disinterested pattern that Sherlock could keep up for hours.

It was going to be a long night.

 

--o0o--

 

Week Two – Aggravation (n) worsening of a situation

 

“Congratulations.”

John paused, coat half way off his shoulders.  “What?”

“On the consummation of your relationship with Sarah.”

“How did-?” But he stopped himself, closed his eyes, took a breath and shrugged his coat off.  “Forget it.”

“There's no tension in your left shoulder.  You have some muscular weakness in that area that increases if it is not properly supported when you sleep.  That tells me you spent the night in a bed not on a sofa.”

John began walking away.  “I said I don't want to know.” 

But Sherlock had seized on opportunity to work his bored brain.  “And then there's your shirt: it's creased.  You're a military man.  You fold your clothes.  The threads on the buttons are loose, suggesting some force was used to remove your clothes and not by yourself.  There's powder on the waistband of your jeans – not talc, it's beige – foundation then.”

“Not listening.”

“And you smell like her.”

John froze half way towards the fridge. He looked back at his friend but Sherlock abruptly turned over on the sofa, putting his back to John.

“I hope you'll be very happy together,” he said, but the tone of his voice didn't match his words.

 

--o0o--

 

Clang!

John swore and flew out of his bedroom, piling down the stairs in a way that made his leg throb angrily in protest.

“Sherlock!”

Sherlock had finally left the sofa.  He stood in the middle of the sitting room with a large scimitar blade in his right hand.  He slashed at the curtains and several thin slices of fabric fluttered up in the air. 

“BORED!”  He yelled and this time sliced the whole curtain in half.

“What the-!  Put that down.”

Sherlock expertly but recklessly spun the sword like it was a majorette baton.  “I'm BORED!”

John made a grab for the blade, amazed that his friend hadn't sliced through his fingers with that move.  “Then watch telly,” he yelled back.  “Read a book.”

Sherlock stepped back, expertly balancing the sword as if it were part of his own flesh.  He whirled abruptly and swung viciously at the floor. John dodged back, narrowly avoiding being impaled.  Floor and metal met with a bone jarring clank that John felt clean through to his teeth.

“Put that bloody thing away before you hurt someone!” 

“It's too QUIET.”  Sherlock held up the sword with his right hand and pushed his left into the unwashed tangle of his hair, drawing John's eye. “In here, John.”  He pulled on his own hair.  “I need noise.”  And he swung the blade again, this time at the coffee table. 

John's reflexes had his hand intercepting the blade even as his brain recognised this as a bad idea.  He swore as the razor sharp edge sliced into his flesh, flinching away. “Bloody hell!”

The sword continued its decent towards the coffee table and with an almighty crash, the old wood hove in two and cups, glass beakers, vials of chemicals, magazines and books scattered or shattered noisily on the floor.  Sherlock's eyes fluttered closed like it was most beautiful thing he'd ever heard.

John stared at the devastation around them and then at the thin line of blood that had begun welling up in the shallow gash on his arm. 

Sherlock tossed the sword over his shoulder.  It clattered to the floor with a gentle tinkle that seemed to mock the noise it had caused.  He walked carelessly over the mess, treading on the shards of broken glass as if they weren't there and slumped down on the chair.

John wasn't quite sure what he would say until he said it.  “You just cut me.”

Sherlock looked up, eyes narrowed in sarcasm.  “Excellent diagnosis, doctor.”

“Sherlock!”  Mrs Hudson's voice accompanied her footsteps on the stairs.  “Are you all right?  I heard banging.”  She appeared in the doorway, one hand shading her eyes.  “I'm not interrupting anything, am I?”

“We're fine, Mrs Hudson,” Sherlock replied before John could object to her insinuation that his love life, if he was ever insane enough to have one with Sherlock, would be filled with BDSM.

She removed her hand slowly as if still expecting to see something kinky.  She squawked in horror when she saw the coffee table.  “That belonged to my husband!”  She snapped.

“I'm sorry,” John said.  “We'll replace it.”

“I'm still adding that to the rent! And look at all that broken glass!”  She came closer. “You be careful, Dr Watson, you've already cut yourself.”

“It's nothing.”

“You can't be too careful, dear.  Let's get that cleaned.”  She bustled John into the kitchen despite his protests.

Over the next hour, she reminded them that she wasn't their housekeeper several times.  But she still cleaned up the mess.

 

--o0o--

 

They ate their dinner on their knees.  Or at least, John ate.  Sherlock picked at the Asda's own brand Shepherd's Pie John had given him as if he were dissecting its innards.

They were back to silence again and John felt like they'd had some sort of relapse. 

 

--o0o--

 

Asphyxiate (v) to cause to die or lose consciousness by impairing normal breathing.

 

John bundled the shopping bags up the stairs.  He pushed the door open and shuffled into the kitchen.  The table, as always, was littered with chemistry equipment so John dumped the bags down on the floor.

Something dripped onto his head.

John looked up to see a patch of damp spreading across the ceiling.

“Sherlock!”

He hurried up and the stairs and cursed loudly as he saw water pooling under the bathroom door.   He tried the door and found it was locked.

“Sherlock!”

There was no answer so he banged on the door and yelled again.

Still nothing.

John stepped back and kicked at the door.  Unlike in the movies, it didn't burst open dramatically.  It took a couple of hits before the hinges gave.

Water was sloshing over the edge of the old iron Victorian bath.  John hurried over, intending to turn off the taps but as he moved his eyes caught on a shadow at the bottom of the bath.

Sherlock lay there, pale and naked and slack, eyes half-open and unfocused while tendrils of dark hair ghosted around his head.

John lunged, plunging his hands into the water, distantly aware of how cold it was.  He grabbed at Sherlock, fingers digging into his chill flesh and pulled him up out of the water.  He flopped limply in John's arms, lips tinged blue with no visible signs of respiration.  It was only when he hit the hard tiles on the bathroom floor that he gasped, a hideous rattle in his chest that didn't sound like anything remotely human.

As he lay gasping, John quickly and efficiently checked his airways, heart rate and pupils before rolling him gently into the recovery position.   Then he pulled the towels off the rail and tucked them around him.

“What happened?”  He asked when Sherlock's colour began returning to normal.  “Did you hit your head?  Feel faint?”  His fingers slipped around Sherlock's wrist and found his pulse.  John looked at his watch and began counting beats.  “When did you last eat?”

It seemed a long time before there was an answer although John was aware it could only have been 30 seconds or so, an aeon of time when the only things in his world were the gasps coming from Sherlock's chest, the rush of water from the taps and the sound of it spilling on the floor, the wetness leeching the heat from his body and...

...and the gentle thrum of a pulse under his finger. His own heart began to slow and finally to match that delicate beat.

“Conducting...experiment.”  Sherlock finally gasped.

John got to his feet.  “Into what?  Suicide?”

“Autonomic responses during periods of asphyxiation.”  Sherlock sat up.  Wet snarls of dark hair were plastered on his forehead.  “The data I was collecting would have proved very useful had your actions not corrupted the data.”

“It's called saving your life!”

“Somewhat overly dramatic, John.  I was perfectly fine.”

“You weren't breathing.”  He snapped.  “When I pulled you out, you weren't breathing.”

“You assumed I wasn't breathing.”  He corrected as he stood up.  “A perfectly rational conclusion to make given the circumstances.”  Sherlock calmly turned off the taps.  “My respiration rate had lowered. Quite effectively. Low water temperature speeds the natural process.”

John stood there in his water logged sweater, chilled to the bone and listened to Sherlock explain, sounding more animated than he had in days.

But the cold John felt outside really couldn't match that inside him.

 

--o0o--

 

The beer terrace was crowded and noisy and a pall of smoke hung in the air.  John hated it out here, but it was marginally better than sitting at a table with his sister and trying to make a conversation work.  There was no danger of that on the beer terrace.  Harry Watson had lit a fag the moment they stepped out and her mouth was currently occupied. 

John leant on the railings, beer in hand, and tried to breathe the fresher air beyond.

Harry took a long drag on her cigarette, put her back to the railing and looked critically at her brother. He kept his eyes firmly fixed on the darkness.

“You look like crap, John.”  Smoke coloured her words.  “You've got to stop living with that weird bloke.”

“It's fine.  He's fine.”

“I read your blog.  He's not fine.  Dragging you into things.  Dangerous things.”  Her face had that look again; the one that said his injury in Afghanistan had hurt her as much as it had harmed him.  And sure enough that guilt trip wasn't far behind.  “You nearly died a few months ago for God's sake.  You're not well.”

John finally turned to look at her.  “How many have you had today?”

She blew air through her teeth.  “We are not talking about me!”

John's lips twitched up in small smile.  “We're not talking about me either.”

Conversation didn't last after that and ten minutes later, John was hailing a cab to take him home.

 

--o0o--

 

Week Three – Affliction (n) something that causes hurt

 

Gunfire.  All around him.  The fierce rat-tat-tat drilling into his ears, the sound so expansive he could feel the vibrations in his own chest.

“Watson!”

He could smell sickly sweet scent of burning flesh and freshly spilled blood mixed with the acrid tang of spent incendiary devices.

“Watson!”

The harsh sunlight hurt his eyes, forcing him to squint, rendering his comrades into a jumble of half-seen faces and his surroundings into a cacophony of shapes and shadows.

“Watson!”

John shot forward in bed, heart pounding and lungs straining for more air.  He fought to bring his breathing under control before falling back onto his sweaty sheets.  The pattern of his breaths came perilously close to sobs but he never let them out.

The room was completely dark, no light filtered through the curtains.  John glanced at the clock.  The glowing numbers announced it was 03:27.  He knew from past experience that trying to get back to sleep was futile so he sat up and reached for his laptop.  The space on his bedside table was empty.  He had left it downstairs. 

John sighed.  He hated getting up in the night.  He would either wake Sherlock or Sherlock would already be awake; either way, the detective would immediately deduce John was having nightmares.  Sometimes John suspected Sherlock could even tell exactly what events he'd been dreaming about. 

But he got out of bed anyway and padded as softly as he could down the stairs.  He sighed heavily when he entered the living room and had his worst fears confirmed.

Sherlock was lying on the sofa.

John crossed the room and scooped up his laptop. 

Sherlock seemed to be oblivious to his presence and that suited John.  He was half way back to the stairs when he frowned.  Maybe he'd spent too much time around Sherlock's deductions but...

He turned and his eyes caught on what his brain had unconsciously recognised.  There was a brown glass bottle with a child safety cap standing on the new coffee table that Mrs Hudson had demanded they buy.  Next to it was a dosing cup with a small residual amount of emerald green fluid.

His eyes flickered to Sherlock.  The young man's face was suffused in a kind of serene relaxation that John had never seen before.

John came over, put down his laptop and snatched up the bottle.  “What the hell's that?”  He asked, because even though he knew, he wanted to be wrong. 

Sherlock didn't even open his eyes.  “Physeptone.”

“Methadone!”  John shouted.  “You're taking methadone?”

“I need it.”

“Nobody 'needs' methadone, Sherlock.  Only addicts and I know you're not an addict.”  But he remembered Lestrade's drugs bust all those months ago.  He remembered Sherlock's words.  John frowned. “You're on a programme?”

“No.  I'm not an addict. I'm not on any 'programme'. I only use it occasionally.”

John exhaled and turned away, forcing himself to stay calm.  “Can you hear what you're saying?  How can you be so stupid?”

“I need it for intellectual stimulation.  I can't stand the boredom.”

“There are other things to do, Sherlock, better things.  Much better things.”

“Street drugs are unwise.”  His voice was calm.  “Far too impure.  I can always tell what they've been cut with and how many times.  It's distracting.”

“That's not what I meant.”  John snapped.  “You haven't left the flat in weeks.  Go out.  Meet people.  Real people, not serial killers.  Taking part in the world is intellectually stimulating. But you wouldn't know that because you'd rather lie on your back and get stoned.”

“And what 'part of the world' do you suggest, doctor?”  His tone danced close to being a sneer.  “Perhaps you think I should follow your example and try dating?  Hours spent talking about inconsequential things, listening to another person's petty little issues, eating mediocre food, all for an hour or two of biologically driven exertion that leads to approximately 5 seconds of pleasant physiological sensations.”  His lips twisted into a rictus smile.  “Hardly worth my time.”

John wasn't listening.  He was studying the bottle's dispensary label.  “Did you get this at St Bart's?”

Sherlock snatched it back.  “The pharmacist owed me a favour.”

John considered the implications – possession of a class A drug, falsified blue 'scripts, illegal entries in the CD register – and looked away.  He physically didn't want to look.  He could feel his hand trembling and he hated it.  He hated Sherlock for being stupid and brilliant and bored and hated Lestrade for doing his job these last few weeks and making it that way, hated Harry because, God, she was right, he wasn't well yet and maybe he never would be.  He was tired of this – bone deep exhausted – and yet he couldn't let go because being here with Sherlock, working with Sherlock, mattered.  Sherlock mattered.  He should probably hate himself for that too but there wasn't any left to go round.

“I need to work, John.”  The words were soft, cushioned no doubt by the drug.

John sat down on the coffee table.  “You need help,” he stated.

“Right now, I need you to shut up.”  His eyes fluttered shut, expression fading away to nothingness.

“You have a problem you need to deal with, Sherlock.”

“My only problem is that London's criminal classes seem quite incapable of originality.”

 He took a breath.  “I can help you.”

“If you're so desperate to help someone, perhaps you should start with yourself.”

“What?”

Sherlock's head snapped up.  “Your hand is shaking,” he said.  “When you walked over here, you were limping.  Your leg is hurting.  I heard you shouting in your sleep so clearly your nightmares have returned.  Instead of inflicting your diagnosis on me, let me inflict one on you.  You're suffering from post-traumatic stress, doctor, and the work is the only thing that makes it go away.”

John didn't reply.  Finally he got up, took the bottle of methadone from Sherlock's unresisting fingers and locked it away with his gun.  Then leant over the desk with a sigh, head hanging loosely.  He squeezed his eyes shut.

“You know I'm right, John.”

Of course he did.  He was doctor.  He knew the symptoms of PTSD and he had enough self-awareness to recognise them in himself.  He also knew evasion when he heard it.  He'd used the same tactic with Harry. 

“How much methadone have you taken?”

“10mls.”  He answered.  “I am right.”

“And before that?”

“John.”

“Yes, I know you're right.  You're always bloody right.”  He snapped.  “Before today?”

“This was my first dose since March.”

“Good.  Don't take any more.”  He said.  “Shoot the wall, chop the furniture, boil body parts in every single saucepan we own, do whatever you want instead, I don't care.”

Sherlock's eyes flickered to the drawer.  One small lock was a paltry deterrent for even ordinary men.

“You're not taking any more.”  There was an edge to John's voice that he hadn't heard in a long time, not since Kabul.

Those eyes returned to staring blankly at the ceiling and then finally closing.

John sat down in the chair.  He would dispose of the methadone tomorrow and not another drop would pass Sherlock's lips.

He was going to make sure of that.

It was going to be another long night.

 

--o0o--

 

Axiom (n) a self-evident truth that requires no proof.

 

 

John's head lolled on his chest and he was aware of a dull ache in his neck growing more insistent as he came awake.  Something bleeped and the noise jerked him out of his doze. 

Sherlock's phone.

John sat forward yawning and stretching.  He was still sitting in the chair and when he opened his stiff fingers, the drawer key was still nestled in his palm.

The sofa was empty. 

John looked around.  Sherlock stood in the kitchen, mobile in hand, looking better than he had in days.  He had washed and dressed in the night, no doubt inspired by the warmth of the drug.

John watched a smile spread across his face as he read the text he'd been sent.  

“The Gloria Scott.”  He muttered and began tapping away, no doubt searching the net.

John got up and hurried upstairs to put on clothes.  He was back downstairs in just over two minutes, towelling his hair roughly while swishing a mouthful of Listerine around his teeth.

Sherlock threw him his jacket.  He let the towel drop to the floor and caught it, spinning into the sleeves as he spat in the sink.

“Camden Lock.”  Sherlock said and led the way out of the flat.

Mrs Hudson saw them on the stairs.

“Look at you both, looking so happy.”  She smiled.  “Your little tiff over then?”

“It's a wonderful day, Mrs Hudson.”

And as they stepped out into the bitter wind, turning up their collars against the driving rain, John looked up at the miserably grey sky and silently agreed.  It was a wonderful day.

He didn't need to look to know his hand had stopped shaking.  His leg didn't hurt anymore and he knew he'd sleep just fine tonight.

Who wants to deal with reality anyway?

 

--End--