Chapter 1: Welcome to London
“Are you absolutely certain that you are ready?” Mycroft asked his little brother concerned.
Sherlock nodded, put on the Belstaff and turned to the door.
Mycroft watched him leave with concern, eyes fixed on his brother´s fingers that are making o´s with the thumbs and pointer fingers in a stim he had grown used to seeing.
When Sherlock entered the restaurant, he knew that John had found himself a woman.
He completely didn´t plan on how the many people would cause his senses to completely overload.
Lots of conversation from every table, forks and knives cutting and scratching, some waiters serving food, another one clearing an abandoned table, two were collecting pay.
Coins clinking, cutleries scraping, people chewing, talking, laughing, slurping, breathing -
He had to breathe.
His hands were pressing the nails into his palms inside the coat pockets.
His vision noticed John sitting at a table just a few meters away.
Just.. have to.. make it.. to John..!
He stiffly stumbled over to his table.
He didn´t pay the woman any mind. He was here because of John.
His friend suddenly stood up when he noticed the detective.
He slammed a fist on the table, muttering “two years”.
Suddenly all the noises came flaring from all sides again. His throat felt like it was being torn to shreds. He couldn´t form words.
He couldn´t speak.
Of all the times, he had to turn non-verbal now .
John was staring at him. So much anger in his eyes.
His hands were shaking.
“Well, don´t you have anything to say for yourself? Or are you just going to stand there?” John spoke with enough venom, if he were a snake he could kill within a millisecond.
Sherlock tried to say something , he really did. But nothing would escape him.
Suddenly John snapped.
One moment later they were on the floor, and John was punching the life out of him.
Through it all, he couldn´t utter a single word; not even a sound could escape his lips.
He only knew that he really didn´t like touch, ever. But this was much worse than shaking hands or hugs.
But not the physical pain was what was getting to him.
It was John , who was hitting him. John, who he trusted with his life. John, who he had faked his death for. John, who apparently hated him to the core.
More noises. Gasps, screams, feet scrambling.
Make it stop.. please..!
He was squeezing his eyes shut.
His body was assaulted with negative touch, too many noises, and the lights over his head were piercing through his eyes into his skull.
He muttered a quiet “ please.. stop.. ”.
Suddenly his vision started turning black. He couldn´t hear the feet, screams, stools scraping. He couldn´t feel John on top of him, who he knew was still hitting him. After all, this all happened within just 3 and a half minutes since he stepped foot into the restaurant.
His prayer had been answered, and he knew no more.
When Sherlock woke up, he found himself in a hospital, if the annoying beeping sound of a heart monitor, that he was connected to, was anything to go by.
He opened his eyes. And quickly shut them again, when the bright piercing light of the room assaulted his eyes.
“You´re awake.” A voice said softly.
A familiar voice.
“John?” He asked, voice weak and scratchy.
“I´m here. Mycroft, uh.. he gave me a call when I texted him that you were in the hospital. He.. explained everything.”
Sherlock only nodded, not quite sure what to do with this new information.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Sherlock kept his eyes closed. The heart monitor getting on his nerves. How does John stand it?!
Suddenly to his right, John cleared his throat. “Right. I´ll just.. let you get some rest.” He said and got up from a chair that was next to his bed.
Sherlock didn´t want him to leave. He had only just gotten back.
He´s had John-withdrawal for over two years now. It was time he got back on his “drug”.
“Stay.” He managed to say.
John halted, then turned to his friend. He noticed that Sherlock still wouldn´t open his eyes.
“Should I turn off the lights?” He asked apprehensively.
John went over to turn them off.
It was as if one problem had just disappeared. He opened his eyes and searched for the mute button on the monitor.
John strode over to him. “Hey, hey, hey! Leave that alone!” He grabbed his wrists in his hands.
Sherlock flinched violently from the touch, almost falling off the other side of the bed.
John stepped back and held up his hands defensively. “Sorry! I.. calm down, it´s just me.”
His heart rate had sped up in that moment, making both frown, but for different reasons.
“Please shut it off.” Sherlock said. His hands were tense. He needed to do something with them. He had to. He needed to stim. So he fumbled awkwardly with his tense hands with the edge of his blanket.
“I won´t do that, it´s necessary since the doctors couldn´t find out why you fainted.”
Sherlock glared - not looking at John, his hands stilled. “I didn´t `faint´.”
“Oh? And what else would you call falling unconscious when-...” He trailed off, not wanting to remember what he did to his friend.
“It´s nothing that hasn´t happened before, and it will happen again. It´s nothing to worry about, though. I promise.” Sherlock muttered, turning his head to look out the window. It was dark outside, so it couldn´t be much later than when he was in the restau-
..That dreadful place.
“This has happened before?! And you didn´t think to go to a doctor, or tell me ?!” John snapped. Sherlock turned to face him again, frowning.
“Yes John. And no, why would I see a doctor about it. I already know what it is.” Sherlock said with a ton of venom. It was something he actually hated about himself.
John was admittedly taken aback by this. “Are you going to tell me what it is, then?”
Sherlock pondered this for a moment. “I don´t know.” He really didn´t want John to know. He was afraid that John would leave him like everybody else did before. Or worse - pity him, or talk down to him like he was an idiot. Like Anderson.
John sighed a heavy breath.
“Fine, but if this happens again in my presence then I demand an answer.”
Chapter 2: She knows best
Sherlock was released from the hospital after the doctors found his medical records and realized it was the same as at least 5 other notes mention: the result of sensory overload.
John still doesn´t know, but Sherlock was afraid that it wouldn´t be very long before he figured it out. Because he has no idea how he suppressed every “symptom” before his two years away.
He had been taught how to act socially acceptable. He had been taught to suppress problems like sensory processing disorder and stimming to keep himself calm. But in his time away he just.. let that blockage free. He had avoided eye contact, he rocked with his legs drawn to his body and fidgeted with his hands whenever he felt like it - mostly it happened subconsciously after he stopped suppressing it.
But now he was in trouble. He didn´t know how to suppress it again. And not doing so would definitely draw attention to himself - like yesterday.
And he could´t even find any information in his mind palace. He would just have to do it like in his childhood - scold himself until he finally got a grip on it again. He could still hear his father yelling at him. “Stop acting like a retard! No son of mine will act like this in public!”
Sherlock shuddered. He hadn´t even known why he kept holding his arms up, next to his torso. Why he kept making weird looking movements with his hands. Why he couldn´t talk sometimes. Why it hurt to look some people - some strangers - in the eyes.
Sherlock sighed when he sat down on the sofa. John had gone back to “Mary”, but said to call him if he needed anything.
Urgh. Calling. Even worse than holding eye contact.
He subconsciously pressed the palms of his hands on his lap.
No. Stop it.
He scolded himself and made himself stop. He put his hands in the air, half into fists, elbows drawn to his body.
You´re doing it again! Quit it! Act normally!
“Sherlock, dear..” WHY did his landlady choose now to come up?!
Out of desperation he quickly put his hands under his legs. “Mrs. Hudson.”
She closed the door and came closer. “You know you don´t have to hide it from me. I don´t mind. If it keeps you sane, then do as you need to.”
Her words made him tear up against his will.
He was at war with himself.
“Sherlock..” He looked up at her soft face. “Do you need a hug?”
She knows about his sensory problems. About his diagnose. About anything he needs, when he needs it, why he needs it. And she is so kind and understanding about it.
The opposite of what his parents were like.
“I.. I think I´d like that.” He said, voice barely audible.
She nodded, came over to him and wrapped her arms around him with just the right firmness, pressure, and gentleness.
And the world was alright, in this moment.
Chapter 3: I never knew
“Super Sleuth - Back From The Dead” was written on the front cover of The Times. Mycroft had brought it over with him. “I thought we wanted to keep your return a secret for now?” He asked.
“Well...” Sherlock didn´t really have words. He didn´t know why he was already exposed. He wished he wasn´t, though. He looked down at his violin on his lap, and proceeded with pulling on the strings.
“Sherlock.” Mycroft pressed, he wanted his brother to look at him. Sherlock seemed to ignore him, but Mycroft knew better. Not responding didn´t mean not listening. “If you need help with adjusting back to life among people, don´t hesitate to text me.”
Sherlock liked how he said “text”, because he knows better than to expect him to call him. He doesn´t nod or say anything, just keeps up the pizzicato of random notes.
Mycroft nods. He got the silent message. He collects his umbrella and the newspaper he brought with him and takes his leave-
Just when John comes up the stairs.
Both brothers react. Mycroft turns back to his brother to see him tense up.
So John still doesn´t know, Mycroft deduced. “Hello Doctor Watson. What brings you here?” He asks, even though he can already see that he had broken up with Mary, clear as day.
“Ah,.. just.. wanted to check on him. After the, um.. incident yesterday, and all.. you know, like you probably did?” John stumbled over his words.
“Yes of course.” Mycroft only smiled. Then he went past John and left them alone.
Sherlock´s hands were tense against his will, again. His whole figure was rigid, and he was afraid of what John would say about it.
The doctor comes in and closes the door to... since he isn´t with Mary anymore, is this his home again?
Sherlock didn´t look at him, so John cleared his throat.
Sherlock was pulled out of his trance and forced himself to stare at John´s face.
“So, uh.. how are you feeling?” John asked awkwardly. Sherlock was staring oddly at him, unseeing, and it was making him uncomfortable.
He was in all honesty just waiting for him to start off the deductions.
But they never came.
“Sherlock?” John asked. He was getting worried, and contemplated running down the flight of stairs and pulling Mycroft back up to the flat. “Hey, can you hear me? What´s going on?” He asks and comes a few steps closer.
“SHERLOCK!” He yells it this time.
The detective flinches, and accidentally brings up his fists in a defensive manner, hands next to his face, shoulders hunched, violin almost falling off his lap in the startled movement.
“Jesus, sorry. Sorry, I didn´t mean to... startle you? Sherlock?” John asked, utterly confused.
Sherlock brought his hands back down, panting against his will, and hands forming the familiar o´s, with the other fingers fully stretched out - actually over stretching from being so tense. His wrists hurt from the abrupt tensing and awkward angle.
“How do you do that?” John asks, half amused and half terribly concerned, because his medical eye can see that something is clearly wrong, and he was afraid that he might damage his hands.
Sherlock doesn´t answer verbally, just shakes his head stiffly, and in abnormal movements.
John raises his hands in defence and backs away a bit, hoping that a bit more space might help.
John hated him, he was sure of it. Yet here he was.
He had to act normally, but already failed horribly with the eye contact. And now he is trapped in a body that is overwhelmed by everything . And John yelling and talking and- ARGH!
He needs everything to just “STOP!!!!”
John is quiet after Sherlock yelled that one word. It was so desperate. What was going on inside that brilliant mind?
Sherlock suddenly wraps his arms tightly around his chest, legs drawn up to his body, violin in between them and his body.
John mentally flinches, for both the delicate instrument and his friend.
He decided to risk it and silently went over to his friend and carefully took the violin from him.
In that moment he realized that Sherlock is scratching with his finger nails on his back. Hard.
He is drawing blood. Through the dressing gown he could see dark blotches. “Shit..” John mumbled.
He was afraid of touching his flatmate. Afraid of making it worse. So he doesn´t say or touch him. Just removes himself and the violin from him.
He needs to rock. He needs to.
But he can´t . Not with John here.
He must already think that he lost it.
Oh god , please just leave .
“Leave me alone!!!!”
“GO!! Go, go, go, go, go, gooooaawwww!!!”
John stared at him as he repeated that word over and over, and emitted this cry of anguish.
This isn´t a simple temper tantrum as he first thought.
Yes, Sherlock tended to act like a child, but this.. this was serious.
He wanted to respect his wishes, but he was afraid of leaving him like this.
He also didn´t think that this was something that their landlady should be seeing, but to his surprise, he was as wrong as he could be.
She had heard Sherlock, of course, and had come rushing up the stairs by the looks of it. She had opened and closed the flat door so silently that John hadn´t even realized she was in the house, before she rushed over to the man in distress, not making a single sound on the way.
She wrapped her arms around his frail body, and quickly turned her head to John with a finger on her lips.
John understood. One sound and the bomb would blow up, so to say.
He could watch how Sherlock visibly relaxed. The panting turned to exhausted sighs, his hands fell numbly to the arm rests of his chair.
John wondered what kind of magic this was, and what kind of magical being their landlady was.
He heaved a sigh of relief himself.
He never thought he would be so panicked about a simple.... what ever that was.
He watched with a grin when Sherlock suddenly seemed to have fallen asleep. He must have been exhausted.
“Help me put him to his bed, he will feel better in there.” Mrs Hudson whispered to him. John nodded.
When they carefully got the sleeping detective to his bed, John noticed that his blanket was heavy.
Actually, heavy was putting it mildly - he couldn´t lift it with one hand.
“It´s a weighted blanket. The pressure helps his disorder.” She explained gently when they left him to sleep.
John was taken aback. “Disorder?” She nodded. “Yes. Sensing something disorder. Nasty thing.”
“Sensory Processing Disorder. He has SPD? How did I never notice that - no wonder he never did the shopping!” John says in sudden realization.
“It is.. you could say a side effect of sorts. He has this.. what is it called? Assburger.. Asparagus.. or something. Why can´t medical terms be easy to remember?” She complained.
John froze. “Meltdown. This was a meltdown. But why?”
She gave him a sympathetic look. “The poor dear is completely overwhelmed by everything since he got back. I guess he just couldn´t take it any longer. It doesn´t take much to make the glass spill over.”
John contemplated this. “Maybe it was me.. maybe I overwhelmed him on top of everything..”
Mrs Hudson laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“Maybe... maybe it would be for the best if he didn´t see me anymore..”
Chapter 4: This thing about food
John was in the kitchen preparing tea. He doesn´t utter a word when Sherlock finally comes out of his room. Doesn´t say anything when he gives him one of the two cups.
He just sits down on his chair, opposite of Sherlock, who doesn´t even look at him.
His blue dressing gown was loosely hanging around his shoulders, and John could easily see his collar bones protruding sharply through his pale skin. He definitely lost weight in the two years.
His flatmate still wouldn´t look at him. John decided to risk it and cleared his throat to get his attention - though it only resulted in a quick flick of his eyes in his direction. “If you want me to leave you be, I´ll move out.”
That got a response out of the detective. He put his cup down and shifted a bit, but wouldn´t actually look at John. “If that is what you want.” His voice was without any emotions, purely monotone.
John raised an eyebrow. “No. No that isn´t what I w- no. No, I-.. *sigh* look, I don´t know what to do, but I want what is best for you, alright?” He explained gently.
Sherlock remained silent for a few moments, jaw tight.
“John I-..” He finally started but cut himself off again. John urged him on with expectant eyes. “I.. I´m different, John.”
John laughed, so his surprise. “Yes, I think I noticed from the moment we first met.”
Sherlock shook his head and looked down at his hands, that had started fumbling with the sleeve of his gown. “No, I mean.. I´m different .”
John slurped from his cup. “Yes. You said that.” He was way too amused for Sherlocks taste right now. He had the faint suspicion that he knew something. And that terrified him.
He started frantically scratching at his arms, before he realized what he was doing and forced them to still.
John frowned at him. Sherlock wanted to ask him “not good?” but figured he must be like his father - any abnormal behaviour was frowned upon.
“Sorry.” He muttered, still looking down.
John was surprised. “No!” He accidentally said too loud and surprised both of them.
But he was more surprised to find Sherlock looking at him.
Making eye contact.
“I´m sorry. I just.. you don´t have to hide it or.. stop it or anything. I´m okay with it. I´m fine with it, in fact.”
Sherlock frowned. “Mrs Hudson..” He grumbled and looked away from John again.
John scratched the back of his neck. “Yes. She told me. But it´s alright. Really. In fact, it explains a lot.”
Sherlock glared at him right as he said those words. “It `explains´ what ?! Me?! My actions?!”
He was about to storm back into his room but John caught his arm. Sherlock tried to pull away, but John held firm.
And John felt a sense of dread when his hand almost closed completely around Sherlock´s biceps.
“Not what I meant. Sorry, I see how that would be upsetting. Come on, we have to get some meat on those bones. You´re close to emaciated.” John tried to change the subject, the doctor in him taking over.
Sherlock sighed. John finally let go of him, and they went to the kitchen.
“How about some cooked carrots, beans, and mashed potatoes? Sound good?” John asked, seeing all he needs in the fridge.
Sherlock didn´t really answer him, but since he didn´t say “no” he took it as a yes.
He hadn´t expected Sherlock to help in the kitchen, so he wasn´t surprised when the man in question just sat at the table and waited.
John filled the two plates with parts of everything and then placed them down on the table.
Sherlock frowned when he noticed that everything was touching the other vegetables, but decided to please John.
While the doctor took parts of everything on his fork, mixing everything together, he noticed that Sherlock started on the carrots.
And only the carrots. They were almost all gone, and he eyed the beans. John suspected he would start on them next.
What was this? OCD?
A few minutes later he found that his suspicion had been correct. Sherlock was picking the beans on his fork, and all were in exactly the same direction.
Had he turned them all into this way?
One look at the plate and, yes, yes apparently he had.
John never commented. Sherlock ate, and that was all that mattered.
After they were both done, Sherlock suddenly said to John “I know you were watching me. I just can´t stand it if it´s mixed, all in one mess. Too many textures and tastes.”
John still only thought OCD , but kept his mouth shut. No use in upsetting him further.
Sherlock had figured out that John was single, again. He couldn´t tell since when, because his mind had been preoccupied with other things, but he found that he didn´t really care.
John got a call one morning. From Lestrade.
“Sherlock, uh.. we are asked to help out on a case.” He brought it up at the breakfast table. Well, Sherlock had a black coffee, which in his opinion didn´t count as actual breakfast, but that wasn´t really the point right now.
Sherlock drank from his cup before answering. “Guess the break is over, then. About time we got back to work.” He said without emotion.
John was worried. Maybe going out in public so soon was a bad idea.
His worries only intensified when they opened the front door, only to be greeted by flashing cameras and shouted questions by what must be a dozen reporters.
Sherlock had his hands over his ears and his head low, and pretty much ran to the waiting police car. John quickly got in after him and shut the door.
“You guys okay?” Lestrade asked from the driver seat. Donovan sat next to him in the front. She looked more intrigued, the DI concerned.
Lestrade had worked with him for a long enough time to know all of Sherlocks little “quirks”. He had educated himself when another officer at the Yard asked him if he knew that Sherlock wasn´t a “Freak” per se, but just different .
Donovan knew he was different. Hell, everyone who met him knew, but nobody ever asked why . They only just call him that word. That distasteful word, that held more hurt to it than any other insult could. “Bitch” was harmless compared to it.
John gave Sherlock a nervous glance, but gave Greg a quick nod anyways. If he said no, what would happen anyways?
Lestrade stepped on it and turned on the police lights, but kept the sirens off. No need distressing him further.
In the back, Sherlock was once again fighting with himself.
He needed to rock.
God, he had to.
But not in the presence of others.
Not willingly with John or Lestrade present.
Never with Donovan.
He felt a hand on his wrist. He looked up to see John smiling sadly at him.
Was he pitying him?
Sherlock pulled away from the touch.
And immediately regretted it.
That touch, that warm, firm touch, had helped.
So did John.
Sherlock had managed to keep himself still throughout the investigation. None of the Yarders seemed to suspect anything. Only John knew how antsy he truly felt beneath his skin.
He already couldn´t fight it any longer on their taxi ride back. He kept jiggling his leg up and down in quick movements, and his hands were rigid with tension as he pressed them against his legs again.
John watched him with sad eyes, but Sherlock had his eyes closed tight and breathing labored.
When they got back home, and past the reporters who still wouldn´t let up despite Mrs Hudsons best efforts - John would have to call Big Brother later - Sherlock vanished into his room. John suspected he had to live out the tension and was too mortified by anyone seeing, or maybe he was just under the weighted blanket. Maybe both.
John didn´t know, but he wouldn´t check. Because either way, his friend needed to be alone right now. And he would respect that.
He decided to just make tea. Nothing calms him down better than steaming hot tea and Mrs Hudsons biskuits.
Sherlock emerged an hour or so later, blanket still wrapped around his body, and laid low on the sofa.
John didn´t comment.
They sat in silence, just letting the TV fill the flat with sound.
At one point during one of the never ending commercials, Sherlock looked at John. “You are really okay with this?” He asked, almost sounding scared.
Scared of rejection, John realized.
“Yes. I get it. You just gotta do what you need to. It´s not like you often care what people think of you.” John said with a grin.
“Yes, not really. But with this.. this is something I used to have to control all my life, and now I don´t know how I did it. It´s.... out of my control, and I can´t suppress it anymore.” Sherlock admitted.
John felt his heart breaking. “Who forced you..?”
“My parents. Especially my father. Anything that wasn´t.. “socially acceptable” was forbidden. If I didn´t.. couldn´t stop whenever he wanted me to, he would beat me until I did.” He looks down at a corner of his blanket as he tells this.
John sighs sadly. No wonder he kept fighting it, it´s just... burned into his mind from years of abuse. “Please.. try to let go. I don´t want you “suppressing” anything. Never. You can seriously hurt yourself.” John said.
He was a doctor. He knew of the abusive ways that parents treat autistic children, and how many of them couldn´t handle it anymore. Pressured into being someone they had to hide. Never able to live up to the expectations. Too many brilliant minds, lost to suicide.
John shook his head. Not Sherlock. Never Sherlock. Please ..
He used to be a drug addict.
Mycroft once told him he had overdosed, twice.
John felt goosebumps all over his body. He shuddered.
“Sherlock.” He forced out, though his voice gave him away. He was close to tears.
Sherlock sat up on the couch and looked at him. Really looked at him. He was making eye contact again. But of his free will, not a trained move he had to do on command.
“Sherlock, if you ever need to talk about... anything , or need me to do something to help you, please tell me. Please. Promise. ”
Sherlock smiled at him. For the first time since they were reunited, he smiled.
Should I make more of this? I mean, April is International World Autism Month.. xD
By the way, yes I am part of the club, so to say. Asperger´s. Everything from the SPD, OCD, "abuse" and stims, as well as the blanket are all from my experience. Not drugs though. But I had my fair share of suicide attempts. And horrible migraines from suppressing everything.