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“I need to reorganize,” Sherlock says.

John drops the edge of the paper, eyes him speculatively. “Sorry, what?”

“Well, not reorganize as much as move. Then reorganize.”

“Yeah, still not following.”

“My mind palace, John.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

There’s a jumble, a scattering of information he’s not pleased with. Data, deductions, understanding and motivations he’s acquired lately aren’t meshing well with his current system of indexing. Time to defragment, reconstruct, renew.

A Study of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Evolution of Living Systems

Second Law of Thermodynamics

Heat

Cold

Chemistry

Shift reference

Cooking

Kitchen

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“How’s the moving coming along?” John asks. “You’ve not gotten up in about six hours.”

“Tedious. Necessary. What do you think of when you think of war?”

John’s mouth twitches in a frown. “Pain, I suppose. Blood, mostly. Saving lives.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The Military History of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

War

Soldiers

Blood

Medical treatment

Shift

John’s bag

Loo

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

There are a few things that aren’t making the transition as he would like, not as clean a cut these days as it was before. And it’s difficult, remembering everything you’ve ever learned, walking it out, replacing it somewhere new, somewhere that reflects who you are now. Sherlock sighs. Some things still just aren’t fitting properly.

For instance, the reference to a book he had to read at school, all the boys did, and they hated it. Sherlock read, aced the test, and tucked it away, a remembrance of what society values. He’s not sure where to put it. Everything has a place, and all of the places are starting to be taken.

Except John’s room, really.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a place to find those things he rarely uses, has a need for. And John won’t ever know anyway.

But how to differentiate John’s room, how to see it in his mind, to make it different from his bedroom. Ah, climb. Up 23 steps, top of the landing, through the door. He has a green duvet on his bed.

Of Mice and Men

Lennie and George

Loyalty

Friendship

Shift

Up 23 steps

Duvet (green)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

They get a case in the middle of his moving. Or rather, Sherlock takes it upon himself to acquire a case, moving from professional interest to full investigation mode in an instant.

“Look at this, Sherlock,” Mrs. Hudson says one evening, fluttering a newspaper. “Didn’t you say that poor woman didn’t attack her brother-in-law? But here she is, arrested!”

Sherlock looks up from the sheet music he’s perusing, glances over the headline. Maisy Carson couldn’t have hit her brother-in-law over the head with a vase from everything he’s seen of it. He’s fairly certain that Maisy’s sister had simply defended herself over the abuse she’d been suffering. The number of calls to their house over the last year had been alarmingly high. 

So Sherlock drags John to the house, examines the blood spatter from Mr. Clark’s wound, determines at least three people were present, and that Maisy Carson, being a good four inches taller than her sister,  was standing in the doorway 10 feet away.

“Why’d Maisy take the blame, then?” John asks on the way home. “She must have known her sister likely wouldn’t have been sentenced, or if she was, it wouldn’t be for very long.”

“She’s trying to protect her sister. Thinks she’s stronger, more able to withstand the trial. Admirable, maybe, but I think her sister would surprise her.”

John frowns for a moment, thinking. “I suppose it is admirable, to try to protect her. And she is a very strong-willed person, from what we saw of her.”

Going over the case later, Sherlock tries to put everything he’s learned into place, picking up the thread of where he left off, and hard-pressed to put a place-name to loyalty, to strength, to familial love.

Maisy Carson

Strength

Sister

Loyalty

Up 23 steps

Duvet (green)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

He may have taken down the tobacco ash analysis, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. Every flake, every fluffy pile of ash he examined is still embedded in his mind.

Trichnopoly

Black flaky

Ash

Tobacco

Slipper

Fireplace

And these things are simple to find, to categorize, to organize. He’s never felt the need to shove things aside, push them into a room without real reference for easy recall. It’s never been a real problem.  But this last year has seen an explosion.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

John at a crime scene is a lesson in stoicism, Sherlock thinks. He’s usually the calmest person there, unruffled, placid, undemanding. He waits patiently until Sherlock is finished with whatever he’s got to do, listens, and gets on with the job at hand, which is usually whatever Sherlock has asked of him.

So it’s highly unusual to hear him blistering Sally Donovan’s ear one day in a room off to the side, where, presumably, he didn’t think anyone would hear them. But Sherlock saw him stride out the door, and had quietly followed.

“I’ll not hear you call him a lunatic, a freak, or a psychopath to the press or to anyone else ever again, do you hear me? He’s none of those things, and you know it. You know it better than most.” John’s right up in Sally’s personal space, speaking quietly, but with a steely anger that would be impossible to mistake. Sally’s flinching just slightly but holding her ground, and just as it looks like she’s about to reply, Sherlock clears his throat.

“Time to go, wouldn’t you say, John?”

John’s eyes flash to his, surprise and a little panic evident. Sherlock nods. Loyalty for loyalty’s sake, not for show, not for praise, not for his (Sherlock’s) knowledge.  He sits in the taxi, doesn’t say a word. Thinks.

John’s defense (of me)

Loyalty

Truth

Up 23 steps

Duvet (green)

And so it goes as he returns home, listens to John make tea as they wait for news, and Sherlock drifts, finds himself at the bottom of the stairs in the flat that is now his mind palace. Remembers an argument after the explosion on Baker Street (responsibility, fear, up 23 steps, duvet (green)), a shared laugh in a taxi over a stolen ashtray (humor, friendship, cheek, up 23 steps, duvet (green)), and he wonders how John’s little corner of the flat ever got so big, and so full.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Sherlock wakes to gentle fingers in his hair, caressing his scalp. Affection in the carding of a hand through his curls.

John.

“You should go to bed,” he says, smiling softly. “It’s 2AM.”

Sherlock sucks in a breath, shudders awake. “Yes,” is the only response he can find in the haze.

Lying in bed he blinks at the ceiling, feeling the lingering warmth of John’s hand against this skin.

Reset reference

Victor Trevor (delete)

Sex

Desire

Affection

Warmth

Touch

Up 23 steps

Duvet (green)

Sherlock doesn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

It’s been about two weeks and Sherlock’s almost finished with his reconstruction, ready to only add that which is new and useful. He’s perched on the back of the sofa, putting the last bits of music in its proper place—

Felix Mendelssohn, born Hamburg 1809

Concerto

Classical

Music

Violin

—when John comes in and stands in front of him. He’s aware John’s there peripherally, and he knows John would never bother him right now, but he opens his eyes anyway.

“Your palace looks different, did you know?” John asks.

“Of course it looks different. It is different.”

“No, I mean the hand … thingy. You know.” John makes an upswoop with one hand. “You never used to do that before.”

Sherlock hesitates for a moment. “I’ve … revised, so everything is now organized around the flat. Easier for recall that way. I must be referencing your room.” His gestures are so instinctual he’s not really given it much thought. John may not be the most observant of people, but he does see Sherlock, and he’s not surprised John’s noticed.

John chuckles. “My room? What’s in there? References to weapons and poor, dateless men?”

“And medical texts,” Sherlock says, and the lie rolls easily from his tongue.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

His recall is incredibly fast when he needs it to be.

Loo

John’s bag

Medical supplies

Gauze

Blood

Femoral artery

The average human can lose up to 40% of their blood volume before death occurs.

Sherlock presses hard against John’s thigh. Not even an attack, of all the things, a simple fall over a jagged fence that caught his leg, ripped a gash down the inside and nicked his femoral artery.  Sherlock’s already dialed 999 and has John’s belt around his leg and a scarf pressed against the wound.

“You must be kidding,” John wheezes. “I refuse any more break-ins with you unless they’re in broad daylight and right through the front door.”

“Shut up and stop bleeding,” Sherlock says, desperate to hold in every drop of bright red he can see pulsing from John’s thigh.

“Sorry, mate, not like I have much of a choice. Sherlock, I’ll be okay, I will.” John grips Sherlock’s arm. “Hey, Sherlock. Look at me.”

Sherlock lifts his eyes to John’s, and God knows what John sees because he gasps, grasps Sherlock’s coat collar and kisses him on the forehead. “Stop panicking,” John says. “I’ll come home in a day or so, and listen, the ambulance is almost here.” John sighs, and his eyes fall closed. “Thank God.” John closes his eyes, and Sherlock is shoved out of the way while the ambulance crew tends to him, packs him up and carts him to the hospital.

Sherlock sits in the back of the ambulance, numb, the only bright spot his hand where it’s wrapped around John’s.

Fear

Loneliness

Shift

Stop!

Sherlock shakes himself, refuses to set those feelings, those experiences, in a place that has grown to encompass more of his life than he ever expected it would. He focuses instead on John’s face, his closed eyes, the slight flare of his nostrils as he breathes. Waits.

Wonders how best to explain the architecture of his heart.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

John’s home the very next day, after a blood transfusion and two layers of stitches. He looks grey, haggard, and Sherlock bustles about making him coffee and bringing him Mrs. Hudson’s fresh muffins. He’s shite at this, he knows it, but he can try. What he can’t provide Mrs. Hudson does, she fusses and frets until John rolls his eyes even as he’s smiling, and it’s a week in before she finally leaves them alone for more than an hour at a stretch.

Sherlock fidgets in his chair, watching John limp across the sitting room floor. He’s stronger, his color is better, and before Sherlock can reconsider what he’s doing he stands, blocks John’s progress.

“What’s this, then?” John asks, and Sherlock shakes his head, dips his head and kisses him.

And his mind explodes, the taste of John’s mouth overriding his senses, the sensation swirling through his mind in a riot of color and texture, the heat of John’s body against his chest and under his fingertips making him shiver. John, glorious John, kisses him back with enthusiasm, with hunger until Sherlock pulls back, leaving his arms looped around John’s waist.

“You’ve made a place in my mind,” he starts, then shakes his head. John looks on, bemused, and Sherlock tries again. “Your room, in my mind palace, I had all these things— motivations, thoughts, impressions, relationships—and I didn’t know what else to do with them. So they kept coming back to your room.”

“Is that so?” John says with a fond smile, and cups Sherlock’s jaw. “And didn’t you have a place for these things before?”

“No. I, I did, but they were confused, covered with other things, jumbled up.”

“And now that they’re all clear, organized away, this is what you’ve discovered, is it?” John licks his lip, stares at Sherlock’s mouth for a moment, and Sherlock feels his face heat and desire pool in his belly.

“Yes, John. It all seems to come back to you, to your place in this life, somehow.”

John smiles, takes his hand.

Up 23 steps.

Duvet (green).