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Beneath His Skin

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And what do you crave?

He likes the way they make him feel. It’s as simple as that, and much easier and less embarrassing to yell at Mycroft (and for Mycroft to then relate to Mummy) than neurobiologic disease or blood-brain barrier or, god forbid, habitual user. They slow him down, or speed him up, or mellow him out, or sharpen his claws, depending on his mood and drug of choice, and, any way, it just feelsso fucking good to concentrate on something other than the bloody horrible boring mess of the tangible world that threatens to break in and break him down day after day after day after day.

And in moments of extreme weakness and sentimentality, he refers to them as His Only Friends.

So, day after day he lies in the dark, sour-smelling spaces he seeks out with His Only Friends, head bursting with a million brilliant, jagged colours, or sometimes with no colours at all, but only a heavy, soft grey like fog or a worn jumper, which is often preferable, and thinks:

This. This, just this. This nothingness this everything. This blackness this all colours. This thing that is no longer my mind, but has filled up my mind and madeitallbetter, at least for now. This is what I crave.


But, then it all comes to a crashing, quivering, mortifying, gloriously revolting end in a back alley with too much noise and too many bodily fluids, most of which are his own, and too many people and colours that are all too real and bright and a hospital and a bloody rehab centre for god’s sakes, and he’s so furious at his brother for not only finding him, but saving him and taking away His Only Friends, that, out of pure spite, decides never to touch drugs again. Ever. Ever.

And, he doesn’t. But, Sherlockian resolve alone does not eradicate the longings.

And, oh fuck, the longings, the cravings for those colour-and-no-colour-days, the nothingness and everything, oh, oh— What he wouldn’t do to dive back into that soft grey abyss, and he could, too, if he really wanted to. He still knows where to get them, could purchase them, get them into his system within a half-hour if he truly desired. And he does. Desire.

In one moment of near-relapse he screams at his brother: You took away my Only Friends.

To which Mycroft replies sharply: You need new friends.

So, every time he sees Mycroft’s smug, self-righteous, self-serving, saviour-like expression he wants to punch it, hard, and then he wants to get gloriously, explosively high.

Every single time.

Of course, he does neither of these things. What he does is get a new occupation. What he doesn’t do is look for new friends, because who the hell needs those?


And when he meets John Watson for the first time it’s like a punch to the gut or a gun to the head or a needle to the arm, all skin prickling and synapses exploding and blood rushing and limp, loose limbs and oh god what have I got myself into now?

And when John Watson actually shows up at the flat, having not been completely put off by Sherlock’s blatantly invasive behaviour and abrupt departure, Sherlock can hardly breathe with the wonder.

And when he asks Do you want to see some more?, and John Watson says, God, yes,, what Sherlock really wants to do, he realizes, is kiss John Watson, hard, then get stupendously, stupidly high and forget the notion of kissing John Watson entirely, because really, what is the point of indulging in fantasies of kissing other men, especially potential flatmate men who are potentially and probably not interested in you in the least?

But, he does neither of these things, of course, neither the kissing nor the drugs. What he does instead is take John Watson out for dinner, then drag him through the city streets, hoping against hope that John Watson might end up feeling something akin to the electric, rippling, all-consuming craving he has suddenly developed for him.


And every single fucking time Sally calls him Freak, something curdles in his chest, but he’s become so used to this particular sensation he almost doesn’t notice it anymore.


But, now when she does it in front of John, the curdling becomes a roiling, splitting, throbbing nausea that reminds him of the morning after a particularly good/bad night with His Only Friends.

When Sally calls him Freak in front of John, he wants to scream. He wants to punch something, Sally, preferably. Mostly, he wants to leap over whatever happens to be in his way and cover John’s ears with his hands, lean his forehead against John’s and whisper, over and over, I am not a Freak. I swear. He wants to squeeze these words into John’s brain.

Then he wants to go home and get so high he never comes down.


But, of course, he does neither of these things. Instead he merely glares at Sally, and cuts her down with words and rude innuendoes and goes about his merry way, all the while digging his fingernails into his palms so hard sometimes he finds the crescent marks days later and thinks, What have I gotten myself into?

More and more these days, he’s finding this question maddeningly difficult to answer.


And when John corrects Sebastian (Colleague not Friend) in a voice that brooks no argument, he wants to crawl under the desk and disappear, crawl into the dark and quiet, inject himself, fall away into nothingness, far far away from where he is right now. He can barely stand to look at John (If this is what it feels like to have New Fucking Friends everyone can just Fuck Off Right Now, including you, Mycroft), so he looks at Sebastian, instead, and wants to punch him in the face, hard, and he looks at the floor and wants the comforting space beneath the desk where he could make everything all-colours-and-no-colours again, if he had the right equipment and about 10 minutes alone, and he glances at John, and wants to crawl into his lap and rest his head on his shoulder and close his eyes and just hang on until everything stops hurting.

But, he doesn’t do any of those things, of course. Instead, he listens to Sebastian drone on and on and on and on, and he digs his nails into his palms while cleverly starting to snap the puzzle pieces into place in his mind. He does not think about the man sitting beside him and what he’d like to do to him once they are alone in the flat. Unclothed.

The voices of deduction fill his brain, thank god, but later, alone in the cab with John, another voice, a small, sinister voice, starts whispering in his ear:

Tell me, what do you crave?

And even though Sherlock bloody well knows the answer to this question, the voice sounds unnervingly like Mycroft, so he tells it to shut the hell up and leave him alone.


And in the end they do come home together, but they almost didn’t. It all seems so surreal, like some drug-induced hallucination from years back (colours-no-colours-soft-shapeless-grey-jumper-that-he-might-actually-find-in-John’s-drawer), and when Sherlock closes his eyes he almost wonders if bits and pieces of it actually happened at all.

Did John actually offer his life in exchange for mine?

Did John actually throw us both into the pool?

Does John actually care about me?

And he is too scared, and too bloody sore, at least for now, to puzzle out the answers to these questions.

They are both very quiet in the flat and they both move very slowly, as if treading water, and every time Sherlock catches a glimpse of John (bent blonde head plaid shirt blue-grey eye flash of pale skin beneath paler bandage), Sherlock’s hands start itching/twitching and his tongue seems to fold in on itself, curling up against the back of his throat.

He catches John looking at him, more than once, and the way he’s looking at him makes Sherlock want to take him, shake him, throw him down on the floor and cover him with his own battered body, cover him with his mouth and his hands because it would be, he knows, even better than getting high, though getting high sounds pretty damn fine right about now—

But, he does neither of these things, of course. Instead, John actually touches him, just once, quietly, gently, on the elbow, of all places, as Sherlock moves past him because he’s trying to get away, and John says his name, softly, but it’s enough. It’s more than enough. Sherlock closes his eyes. When he opens them he knows.

He can only fight a craving like this for so long.


And he likes the way John makes him feel. It’s as simple as that. And he likes the way John feels, his skin and bones and breath, his eyelashes, his hair, his glorious popliteal fossa, his ankles, his hands, his cock, his philtrum—

And in the end it isn’t the drugs at all, not the cocaine, not the heroin, not even the pitiful cigarettes that his body has been craving all this time: it’s just John.

And oh, this is a different kind of drug, completely different from any he has ingested/injected/snorted/sucked in over the years. He almost laughs out loud at the difference, because this? This is heart-shattering, this is bone-splintering, this makes him shudder and shake, makes his eyes roll back, his spine arch off the bed, this is tremours and seizures, cold sweats and hot slickness between the thighs. This is mouth-devouring and knee-knocking and cock-sliding and there will never, ever be a better way to escape his own mind ever again.

When they are done, Sherlock curls onto his side, the side that is least sore, and curls into John, pulls John to him, as close as he can without being inside him again, presses his teeth lightly into John’s shoulder and his fingernails into his ribs, feeling John squirm and sigh and reach back to place a warm palm on Sherlock’s thigh.

He wants to tell John that he’s his best friend. He wants to tell him he loves him. And he wants to ask him to marry him. But, he doesn’t do any of those things.


This is dangerous. This is habitual. This is incurable.

He smiles against the sweat of John's skin.

This is his drug of choice.

If Mycroft could only see him now.