"Next and last stop, 179th Street."
He can feel the doors shuddering as they close, the bells chiming in warning. Slowly, the train comes alive underneath him, the fairy lights flickering past in the window and he doesn't know what time it is, doesn't know when it is is, there's only him and the train from Coney Island to 179th Street, last stop, last stop is 179th Street.
He slides a bit in his coat on the slippery blue seat as the subway car grinds to a halt and everything is still. Nothing moves, not even the air, everything is silent and he wants it to just stay like this, let the moment crystallize into harsh fluorescent lights and asinine advertisements about cosmetic dermatology. But his lungs are crying and the familiar blackish blue dots hover at the corner of his eyes, so he breathes out, soft and slow, and time begins again.
The cold air from the subway platform curls around him, goosebumps rising up on the back of his neck. "This is a Culver local Brooklyn-bound F train-- next stop is 169th Street. Stand clear of the closing doors please."
He can feel the doors shuddering as they close, the bells chiming in warning. Slowly, the train comes alive underneath him, the fairy lights flickering past in the window and he doesn't know what time it is, doesn't know when it is is, there's only him and the train from 179th Street to Coney Island, last stop, last stop is Coney Island.
"She'll be there in an hour."
Stocks are plummeting on CNBC; George is proposing to Anna; yields for German Bunds are at historic lows; the lastest scheduled talk with Iran has collapsed; Anna is blushing while George goes down on one knee; Mya is on speaker, probably talking about Very Important Things; Dora is asking him to stop Swiper from swiping; suicide in the Lower East Side, mother of four--
"Are you listening to me?"
"Yes, of course," Sherlock says automatically, deftly juggling the remote controls with one hand. "Something about a butler or bellboy, right? Here to answer my every whim and desire? And here I thought I was permanently on your naughty list."
"At least put some clothes on," Mya sighs, static briefly clouding their conversation.
"Hmm," he hums, noncommittal. "Remind me again why you're posing as my Father, other than to give me a complex?"
"Leave it to you to focus on the most irrelevant detail and completely ignore that you'll be living with this companion for months on end."
"I thought this prostitution business was illegal here in the States. Dearest sister, is this your idea of a Christmas gift?"
"Sherlock," Mya says, her voice tight. "Pull your head out of your ass and will you just--"
"No, I think my head quite likes it up here," he smiles, the corners not quite reaching his eyes. "Sister dear ," he drawls, but it doesn't quite cover up the razor sharp edge of his voice. "Oh, would you look at the time," Sherlock sighs dramatically. "I have some terribly important thing to do in that corner of the room there, I'm sure you have better things to do like running Europe into the ground. I'll just leave you to that, yes? Excellent, until next time." He throws the remote and it hits the phone dead-on, leaving a nasty crack on the plastic screen.
The blood's pounding away in his head and the television is only doing so much, he needs more, he needs so much fucking more, the want is crawling up his throat, bitter and sweet and sharp and he wants to fill it, fill the hunger and the need and make it go away. There's a fifty-five year old Remy Martin in the cupboard underneath the stairs, the woman to his left has a prescription for Vicodin for her UTI, only half-used, Chief's number is burned into his brain and the phone is lying on the floor just 10.36 feet away from him.
But he just bites down and blood wells up in his mouth, coppery-hard-- an old and familiar friend. He swallows it all down until the only thing he can taste is the salt of his blood.
"You're moving too slowly," he says and he can't help but rock on his heels, waiting for Watson to hurry up and move, they have a case to solve, a murderer to catch, can't she feel it, they need to go, they need to go now, he needs to--
"Stop shouting," Joan says, wisps of silver clouds floating around her mouth. She's leaning down, bracing herself on her thighs, taking another damned break, she's useless, she's pathetic, why is she even here, this poor and pathetic excuse of a mother figure.
"I'm not shouting ," Sherlock says impatiently and he can't take it any longer, they need to go, they have to go there, right now. He shoots off the curb and the swirl of lights is urging him on, and nothing matters because he's here and everything will be better and everything will stop in front of him as time slows down and he runs, he runs ahead and the cars all stop before him because he has a job and he will find the killer. The game is on.
"Shh." Sherlock holds up a finger to his mouth. "Can't you hear it?"
"Hear what?" Joan asks, mystified. "I don't hear anything--"
"Mendelssohn's Concerto in E minor, Op. 64," he says, eyes half closed. "Middle of the first movement."
"Sherlock, Sherlock," Joan says and she puts a gentle hand on his shoulder. "There's nothing there."
"But it's so beautiful," he says wistfully and he looks down at her dark eyes and there is no pity, only-- only--
"Let's go," Sherlock says. "We have work to do, Watson."
He looks like a lost little puppy, swaddled up in a giant and beaten comforter that smells vaguely like dog piss and detergent. Joan presses the hot cup of tea she just nuked in the microwave into his hands-- it's not hot enough to burn, but it's warm enough. Sherlock probably wouldn't even notice. (He doesn't.)
Sherlock looks up at her and his normally bright-eyes are dim, like someone's gone and turned off a switch and there's nothing but darkness inside of him, leaking through the windows of his face. "Drink," Joan orders and she curls his calloused fingers around the mug and tips it back, echoing his every movement.
He smiles sloppily up at her, tea still glistening on his lips, but the corners don't quite meet his eyes. "We did it, didn't we?"
"We did it," Joan confirms. "We caught him."
"That's-- I just--" His eyes flutter closed and Joan can't help but feel a little relieved that she doesn't have to look at them anymore. "It doesn't feel like it, much."
"It's alright, it's alright," she says, letting the lies fall off the tip of her tongue. "It'll be alright."