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The Progress of Sherlock Holmes

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Half second of disorientation that dissolves sharply into perfect awareness. Pain radiating from my face. Stabbing ache in ribs like a punch in the gut. Broken rib, probably. More than one? Uncertain. Hurts on inhale, exhale. Morning.

Strange dream lingers: John with teacups for eyes, disposable razor blades for fingers: disturbing. Odd sensation coiled up in chest, like breath not caught. Distress. Fear? No. Couldn't be. Even with teacups for eyes, it's still only John. Sadness, perhaps. Loss. Regret? It fades. It’s morning, dreams always fade.

Dreams are irrelevant.

Roughly twelve degrees outside; nearly a degree cooler than yesterday morning. The long slow trudge toward midwinter. Boring. Muted light through the window; roughly quarter past seven, mildly rainy, deeply overcast. Has been raining since somewhere around 4am. Will be muddy down by the riverbank; must remember to wear boots.

Though: won't be permitted to even leave the flat today, probably. Not if John finds out about the rib, certainly. John will bar the door (as if that will help), and Lestrade won't let me near the crime scene. May find a way to arrest me to keep me away, keep me from moving around too much. Pity. Will be a trying day. Hate being arrested. But: what needs must.

Right leg stiff, more than a bit sore: twisted? Strained? Impact of the fall, surely. Secondary injuries untended by my careful and concerned doctor. His face: so full of compassion, of care, of everything beautiful and pure in this world. How does he do it? How can he hold his heart in his hands like that without leaving a trail of blood everywhere he goes? A certain kind of bravery, more mundane maybe, but no less exceptional. He doesn't know about the rib yet. Didn't see that set of blows. Wrist: broken? No. Bruised, surely, maybe mildly sprained. Will make playing violin more challenging, but a little pain never hurt anyone.

Vulgar Tchaikovsky concerto in my head, why? No space for Tchaikovsky today. Perhaps later tonight? John likes Tchaikovsky. Doesn’t ever seem to know it is Tchaikovsky when he hears it. Doesn’t seem to care.

“I love that, what was it?” he'll say, sitting in his armchair, eyes shut (usually, sometimes not, sometimes he watches me play, and I watch him right back). I imagine what he says instead is I love you, and bask in it. Feels like sunshine radiating out from him, like heat, like fingers of smoke that stroke me. I imagine he hasn't said it yet, only feels it, feels the urge to. And then there’s me caught in the moments just before he says it, the moment when it’s utterly true, before it has a chance to degrade, fall apart. He’s about to say it, to say, I love you, to me, of all people, to me, words about to appear in the air in front of him like smoke rings. I let it hover over me, the fantasy, the sensation. Him listening to the sounds of my violin, of my fingers pressed against the strings, my bow, the sound that vibrates through my chest first before it reaches him, his eyes shut (or not). John sitting in his armchair loving Serenade for Strings, or a bit of Swan Lake (as I said: vulgar) instead of loving me, but it’s so close. I concentrate, play even better, push the dire depths of my maudlin heart strings into the violin strings. “I love (you),” he says, “what was it?” how can anyone not recognize Swan Lake?

Every time. Every time he asks, it’s Tchaikovsky. Why? Does it appeal to some angst-ridden homosexual tendencies in him? One can only hope. A soft heart, a romantic heart.

Still vulgar, though.

Don’t want to open my eyes yet; reality is never quite as interesting as the insides of my head. Teacups for eyes? How bizarre. John was naked in that dream. Naked and fourteen-feet tall. Still irrelevant. I was tiny; he could hold me in the palm of his hand, trap me with his disposable razor blade fingers. My subconscious is mad.

Eyes are gummy, nose feels flattened and sore, mild ache in left mandibular lateral incisor. Probe it with my tongue. Loose, but won’t fall out. Thank God, I hate the dentists. Aching head. Bit of blood; copper taste. Eyes open: bleary. Sticky. Got roughed up a bit last night. Worth it. So much evidence. Ha! So easy, this one. Idiot.

Eyes drain of moisture in the night, caught on damp eyelashes that tangle and stick together. Bit of blood, unconscious tears. (would I cry if I lost him? I think I would. Emotional wound like an overwhelming physical one, prompting a physiological reaction.) Tear them open, pull out a few eyelashes in the process. Blink the gum away. The world is a bloody grey place once your eyes are open. The dull grey of morning. Off-white ceiling, bare walls, bedroom door shut tight, the pattern of the raindrops and streaks on the window against it.

Touch phone; flip over. Text from Lestrade? Nothing. Text him something peevish; he should learn to share. Doesn’t get him anywhere to hold onto details of cases. When will he learn?

Your lead is underwater. SH

That will keep him scratching his head. Ha! He should know better than to keep information from me. As if I don’t already know!

John moving around the kitchen; water boiling in the kettle. Box of teabags against the worktop; sugar pot. (Slightly less than half full, from the sound.) John’s wearing socks, not slippers or shoes. He’s still groggy, didn’t sleep well. Nightmares again (of course). One of these days I will just barge right in there, I will stop his nightmares with the sheer force of my will. I will stare them down. I will outsmart them. He’s swearing under his breath now, why? Tired? Frustrated? Oh, he saw the fingers in the fridge. Well, where else were they going to go?

John's tired feet against the floor, walking toward my bedroom with a mug of hot liquid in his hand. He walks more carefully when he's bringing me a cup of tea, as if something dreadful will happen if he spills it. Sensation in my chest, like my heart smiles as he approaches. I know the signs and symptoms of being desperately, hopelessly in love. Sort of wish I didn't, but you can't wish knowledge away. Bit of cocaine wouldn't hurt, though. John would never stand for it.

He taps on the door, like a polite flatmate. Grunt in response. A creak as the door opens. I love that he doesn’t care what I think about it; he comes in because he needs to, because he wants to. Wants to see that I’m all right, cares whether I’m all right. John: he’s like the sunshine pouring in. He feels like warmth sneaking into a cold place. His hair, dishevelled, his face full of sleep, I want to kiss him, I want to wrap myself around him and never let him go. Morning is not so grey when he’s here. He is my colours.

“Sherlock?” his voice is rough; hours of not speaking through the night. A rusty instrument. Imagine an anchorite, hidden away in a cave for decades, living a life of sleep and prayer, not speaking to a soul for years and years, then trying to form words with vocal chords that have been so disused they’ve forgotten their purpose; the human body needs to be used to fully function. Like your heart, says the third man, my knowing subconscious. Like your heart, Sherlock. Like an anchorite trying to speak. Metaphor: not really my area.

John sits down on my bed, the small of his back against my thigh. He is the very definition of warm, a walking bit of vocabulary. Sigh. Act bored, act vaguely annoyed. John puts the cup of tea down on my bedside table, his hand moving to my face.

“How are you this morning?” Always the doctor, my John. And so he is, my John. No matter what happens. Light touches against my cheekbones, testing the bandage across my nose, his fingers trace lightly at my torn lip.

“Fine. It’s fine, don’t fuss.” Deep breath; accidental (is it?) cough; wince from the pain. John’s hands against my chest, only the thin material of a t-shirt between us. Eyes flutter shut again.

“Shit,” John says under his breath. “You didn’t mention a cracked rib, Sherlock.” A note of reproach in his voice. His hands lift up the t-shirt. The pain of the rib is nothing compared to the pleasure of John’s warm hands pressing lightly against me. Like smoke rings. Like imaginary love. “I’ll get you something for the pain,” John says.

“Mmm.” No point in arguing. An opiate would soothe all of the various wounds, physical and emotional. But likely John only means to give me paracetamol. Bastard.

“I know you'll want to go back to the crime scene,” John says, and sighs. He shifts a little on the bed, his hands still pressed against me, his warm hands. His fingers; they pull triggers and kill, they are so gentle on me. “I’ll have to tape that up first, though.”

Oh, my John. My blogger, my helpmeet. Tape me up and take me out. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Grunt, mumble out, “Fine,” turn head away. “Pass me my tea.” Not a question, a demand. An anchorite, finally, finally trying to talk. Heart beats sideways. Warm mug in my hand, warm fingers on mine. “Thank you.” Uncharacteristic: that will confuse him. He stops, I open my eyes and watch him. He smiles. He looks concerned. I must look worse even than I feel.

“That’s all right,” he says. His voice is soft, like his fingers, his touch.

I will put on my boots before going down to the river bank to show Lestrade and his minions exactly who they shall have to arrest. It will not be difficult. I will walk carefully for John’s sake and John will hold my arm, concerned. We will have dinner, and I will eat, at John’s insistence. Maybe soup. And when we come home again I will play some Tchaikovsky for John, in spite of its obvious vulgarity and his protests about my sprains and cracked rib and wounds. He will keep his eyes open to watch me. And he will love what I play for him. And that will be enough.