Abhorring the Dull Routine of Existence, or, a Week Spent on Artificial Stimulants
"Bored," Sherlock drawled from across the room, as usual taking up the entire sofa. John sighed and looked up from the book he was reading.
"Bored," Sherlock repeated, more insistently. It could be worse, thought John; at least he wasn't shooting holes in the walls today. Mrs Hudson would be pleased.
"Watch TV. Read a book. Honestly, you're like a child sometimes, Sherlock."
Sherlock huffed, sliding further down the sofa and swinging his legs over the top of it so that he was half upside-down. It had been a week and a half since their last case had ended, and since then he'd been growing steadily intolerable, to the point where John almost looked forward to going to work just so that he could get out of the house.
"Entertain me," demanded Sherlock. John chuckled softly.
"Entertain yourself. I doubt that anything I could do would be of much interest to you."
Sherlock jerked his head around to look at John, his face looking even more angular and strange from his upside-down position.
"You're quite wrong."
John laughed and shook his head. He had no idea what Sherlock had in mind, but he was quite happy here with a good book and a mug of tea, and he'd decided not to move for the rest of the night. Besides, whatever it was, he wasn't a performing monkey. Although occasionally, it did feel as though they were all just actors on Sherlock's stage.
"This wouldn't be a problem if Lestrade hadn't taken all away my drugs," moaned Sherlock, staring up at the ceiling. John frowned and lowered his book; he knew Sherlock had a history of addiction but they'd never really spoken on the subject, not since that first week when they'd come home to find the police conducting a drugs bust of their rooms.
"What was it, anyway?" he asked, curiously. Sherlock glanced at him sharply, then shrugged.
"Cocaine, mostly. Not for a while now; Lestrade refused to work with me unless I kicked the habit. I chose the work, of course."
"I'd sort of assumed heroin," said John, although he wasn't sure quite why – perhaps Sherlock's slight frame and intense eyes just had the look of a junkie about them. Sherlock shook his head.
"Tried it. Slowed me down. I don't want to go slower, John; this world already crawls along at a mind-numbing pace. I don't know how you people can bear it. I need stimulation," he said emphatically, gesturing at the ceiling with the last word. John rolled his eyes.
"Why can't you just… I don't know, drink some Red Bull like a normal person?" he said.
Sherlock turned and regarded him with interest.
They were words that John would come to regret.
The next day found John flicking through a pile of patient notes in his office, trying to catch up on his paper work and definitely not thinking about what havoc one very bored consulting detective might be wreaking upon their flat. He hadn't heard from Sherlock at all today, and he wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or a very, very bad thing.
"Everything ok?" asked Sarah, poking her head round the door. Since their first few disastrous dates they'd managed to settle down into an easy friendship; Sarah had drawn the line when their third date had ended up, not back at hers in bed as John been expecting, but stuck on the side of a building in one of those pulley carts used for high-rise window-cleaning. He didn't really see what the problem was – it wasn't as though Sherlock hadn't saved them – but he supposed he couldn't blame her.
He sighed, rubbing at his eyes.
"Fine, thanks, yeah. I was just worrying about Sherlock-"
Sarah winced slightly, and then rearranged her features into what she clearly thought was a politely curious expression.
"You do little else. What's he doing now?" she asked.
"I don't know, that's what's so worrying," said John, shaking his head and then looking at her significantly, "He's bored."
Sarah swallowed nervously, and glanced out of the window behind John as though expecting to see the detective swooping past as they stood there.
"Ah. And the last time he was bored-"
"He filled the bath with dead birds, yes. I think he was measuring the rate of decomposition."
"And the time before-"
"He shot a hole in the wall."
Sarah stared back at him, looking as alarmed as he felt. John sighed, dreading going home and the sights that might be awaiting him there. As if on cue, his phone bleeped in his pocket.
WHAT IS MAXIMUM SAFE CONSUMPTION LEVEL FOR TAURINE/ CAFFEINE? MEDICAL OPINION REQUIRED. SH
John gulped a little, remembering his comment about the Red Bull last night. He turned back to Sarah.
"Do you know off-hand what the maximum safe consumption levels for Taurine and Caffeine are?" he asked. She shook her head, wildly.
"Is that Sherlock? Is he drinking – do you think that's a good idea?"
"I don't, and unfortunately I think it was mine. I never thought he'd actually do it…" said John, pushing buttons on his phone frantically.
NOT SURE. WILL FIND OUT– DON'T DO ANYTHING IN THE MEANTIME. J
He'd barely sent the message when his phone bleeped again in reply.
NEVER MIND, I'LL EXPERIMENT. SH
John groaned and dropped his head into his hands, looking at Sarah through the gaps in his fingers.
"Can I stay at your house tonight?" he asked, not caring for a moment that they weren't seeing each other anymore and that it wasn't quite appropriate for him to ask. Sarah obviously did though, and gave him a frown which answered the question without words.
"If you gave him the idea, you'll have to deal with him," she said sternly, then pointed at the huge pile of paperwork, "You'd better get a move on with that, Mrs Richards is due for her appointment soon."
She walked back out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind her, so John sighed and turned back to his files. At least dealing with the minutae of his patients' problems would take his mind off his flat-mate and what on earth he was getting up to.
For several hours, John managed not to think about it at all; the never-ending kaleidoscope of people and illnesses through his office kept him more than occupied, and if his gaze snuck to his phone sometimes, well, it was only because he was awaiting a call from the hospital regarding a rather tricky case.
It was mid-afternoon when there was a sudden bang and the door to his office was thrown back against the wall. John looked up, started at the sudden intrusion.
Sherlock Holmes was stood in the doorway, his hair in total disarray around his face and his eyes wide and staring. He had his scarf on backwards.
John gulped, and stared up at his friend anxiously. He seemed to be vibrating a little.
"Sherlock… what are you d-"
"I have come to assist you," announced Sherlock grandiosely, sweeping into the room and marching straight up to John's desk, where he loomed over him, his eyes boring into him.
"Sherlock, how much Red Bull have you had?" John asked, dreading the answer. Sherlock waved his hand dismissively, and began stalking up and down the small office.
"Immaterial. Some. Too much, I suspect. Not enough. Who's your next patient? Read me their case-notes," he said, all in a rush so that John could hardly pick out the individual words.
"I can't, they're confidential – why do you want my patient's case-notes?"
"I told you, I've come to assist you. It's the only solution to a problem that's been on my mind for some time now; you are fatigued when you come home from work, and incapable of mustering the energy or enthusiasm to entertain me. My mind rebels at stagnation, John, I must be entertained. This Red Bull idea was a fine one, I congratulate you, but preliminary tests suggest that I won't be able to maintain this lifestyle for longer than the duration of one week without risking tachycardia; an alternative route must be found, then. If I assist you, you can complete your work in half the time – possibly even faster. Additionally, you'll be much more alert whenever we do have a case, as I've noticed you nodding off on several occasions. Your unconsciousness might have a detrimental effect on the outcome of a case, which would reflect badly on the both of us. Conclusion, you require my assistance."
He stopped to draw breath.
"I don't, Sherlock, I really don't, and you can't help me, it's illegal. Even if it weren't, you're in no state. Go home and wait for the Red Bull to wear off," he said, as firmly as he could muster.
"I can't, I'll be bored," said Sherlock, suddenly pausing in his pacing to slam his hands down on John's desk. He stared over it, wild-eyed, "Besides, I still have several crates to get through back at the flat. This was an excellent idea, John, I can see everything very clearly now. Everything looks very…zingy."
He straightened up suddenly and whipped his coat off, chucking it over a filing cabinet and throwing himself onto the examination bed. He sat on the edge of it, full of nervous energy, his legs swinging backwards and forwards.
John decided to try a new tack, and ignored him, going back to the chart he'd been filling in. Sherlock was silent, as though he were waiting for something, but the room was full of the sounds of his agitated movement: tapping his fingers on the side of the bed, fiddling with a stray thread on his trousers, scuffing his feet on the floor. John gritted his teeth.
"You have a very strong jawline," Sherlock said suddenly, "So like a soldier. I wonder, are those with stronger jaws naturally more predisposed to become soldiers, or does the jawline develop during the time spent soldiering? I could do a study on the subject, a paper. A monograph on your jaw! Have you read my monograph on ciphers, John? Well, I doubt you'd follow it. You follow me, though, don't you John. Moriarty doesn't have a… that's why he– of course. Still, perhaps I was ill-advised to let this happen, it only creates weakness. When is your next patient due, John? John?"
John frowned, not even trying to follow Sherlock's thought processes, which were severely lacking in his usual coherency and sparkle. A symptom of caffeine intoxication, he thought: rambling thought and speech patterns. Oh dear.
"Erm. Let me just take your pulse, to be on the safe side. Sit still," he said, maneuvering round himself round the desk and checking his friend over. Sherlock didn't look at him, but continued to dart glances around the room, his eyes lightning fast.
"You have no personal effects in your office, nothing to remind you of home or family. Family I can understand; embarrassment, then, or shame. One hardly wants to keep a photograph of one's alcoholic sister on the desk in a GP surgery, a constant reminder that though you can help your patients you can't always help those closest to you. Why nothing of Baker Street, though? Not even a mug, and none of the scrawled notes pertaining to our cases that you leave all over the living room. Why?"
Sherlock was silent for a moment. John ignored him and shone a light into his eyes, continuing with his check-up. Pulse was rapid but not arrhythmic; skin slightly flushed, pupils dilated. Nothing much to be worried about, but he made up his mind to keep a close eye on his friend for the duration of this 'experiment'.
"You'll do," he said, "Make sure you stay hydrated. Drink lots of water."
"Of course," breathed Sherlock, ignoring him entirely, "Sarah. You don't want to remind her of your other life, the one she so disapproves of. Is that for her own comfort, or yours? Or are you still harbouring hopes of a reconciliation?"
"Perhaps I just want to keep my work life and my personal life separate, Sherlock. Many people do."
"You don't have a personal life!"
Sherlock looked a little taken aback, and opened his mouth to reply, but didn't get very far; there was a knock at the door – his 3pm appointment, thought John. Mr Turner.
"Come in," he called, thinking it was too much to ask that his patient wouldn't notice Sherlock's presence. You couldn't really not notice Sherlock. He looked like an enormous raven, perched on the edge of the bed.
A large man in a t-shirt and shorts puffed his way into the room, a pained expression on his face.
"Take a seat, please," said John, gesturing toward the chair opposite his desk. The man did so, then glanced across at Sherlock.
"This is my colleague," John continued swiftly, "He's, erm. Well, he's a consultant, actually. He's a… diagnostician."
Sherlock was staring at the man intently, saying nothing. His eyes looked slightly too big for his face.
"Is he… ok?" asked the man. John nodded vaguely in an attempt to reassure his patient, then pulled up Mr Turner's medical records on-screen to begin the examination. If he acted as though his madman of a flatmate weren't here, perhaps everything would be fine.
"Intermittent claudication," announced Sherlock to the room, smiling triumphantly, "You're having trouble walking, aren't you, Mr Turner. Cramp in the calf after a certain distance, but resolving after rest? Skin changes in the lower leg? Venous in origin, I'd say."
The man blinked, and turned to John in surprise.
"Well, he's very good," he said mildly. John groaned. Leave it to Sherlock to be better at his job than he was. He wasn't even sure how he'd managed to work out the man's name; he was sure he hadn't mentioned it.
"You're also cheating on your wife – and with someone you work with. I can see the paler band of skin where you've removed your wedding ring. At work today then, but in casual clothes; however, your sizeable build, along with the venous problem, suggests you don't move much in your job. There is a slight stain of oil on your shirt, so I'm going to say driver, probably lorry driver judging by the consistency of the oil. A largely solitary role, then, other than when you meet up with drivers, ergo you are most likely cheating on your wife with another lorry driver. Am I close?"
The man's face twisted angrily and he glared at Sherlock and then at John, opening his mouth to demand an explanation. John shook his head resignedly.
"You'd better run me through your symptoms in full, Mr Turner, just to be sure," he said, wearily.
It was going to be a long day.