I feel like I should put some sort of author's note here, because there's this lovely blank space, but I don't actually have anything interesting to say, other than you're beautiful.

Disclaimer: I am nothing but a penniless sitar player writer.


"My mind rebels at stagnation."

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


On the nights when the lethargy and the inaction become too much to bear, when the violin and the cocaine and the cigarettes have failed him, Sherlock goes out. There comes a point (always, every time) when the lack of stimuli shuts him down completely. When there is no more new information to take in he slows and stagnates and the world slides out of focus. Sherlock is like liquid; he is fluid and mutable but when put in a container he takes on the shape of the container. His very self swells out, fills the entire space of the flat and presses tight against the edges until he is the cheap wallpaper and the piles of clutter and the chemical stains on the rug. A curtain flutters and the eddy it creates makes him dizzy. At times like these he has to escape, because the air in his lungs feels like the rushing of the sea and maybe the world outside is a container big enough to hold him.

He tears through London like a madman and a thief, stealing bits and pieces from passers-by just because he can, walking into heavy traffic and emerging unscathed, trying to outrun his own shadow and sometimes succeeding. He flirts with strangers and starts fights with strangers and sometimes he does both, and flees the scene when the walls press in. The childish games he scorned in his youth keep him amused for hours. He plays hide and seek with the unsuspecting public; picks a partner, counts to a million and then combs London to find them again. Life has always been one giant game of I Spy but now he plays it in earnest, in bars and in clubs and on trains and on rooftops, playing against himself and always winning. I Spy an addict. I Spy a whore. He dances down pavements chanting "Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back" and sometimes his foot slips and he isn't sure if it's on purpose. He foils drug transactions and he takes part in drug transactions and one memorable time he very nearly is a drug transaction, finds himself on his knees in a filthy alley with money in his hand and someone's crotch in his face before he feels the walls press in and has to run. He knows, logically, that it must be physically impossible to absorb all the data in London, that he cannot possibly fit himself into every nook and cranny of the city even if he feels every speck of Underground grit like an extension of himself. But then one day he finds himself standing on one of the plinths in Trafalgar Square, possibly high but he can't remember, and realises that his spread arms encompass the entire city. He is the man hacking up a lung on the Bakerloo line and a scrawl of graffiti on the Strand and every tawdry Market Stall in Camden Lock. Every late business man is a red blood cell and every every cramped Tube carriage a vein. He is St Paul's and a mosque and a synagogue and a sex shop in Kentish Town. A car crash miles away makes him tremble and the music from the Royal Albert Hall is reverberating through his soul and he is stretched so thin now, a fine film of liquid on the bottom of the glass, but still he presses against the sides. He has filled London. He stands on the podium with his arms outstretched until a man in a fluorescent vest tells him to step down. He tries to find somewhere quiet but his breath rushes in and out of his lungs in roars and gasps, as implacable as the tide; he is worried that the sound might drive him mad so he holds his breath until he crashes unconscious.

He repeats this again and again and again and panics when one day he realises that he knows exactly what he will find on every corner in London. He is gone from Baker Street for five days and when he gets back, minus one shoe and smelling like a sewer, he opens the door to the flat and there is a look on John's face that he has never seen before.

And next time, when he feels himself become still and quiet and stagnant, when the edges of the world have been sandpapered and the glass is clouded, he thinks I Spy John.

From then on, that's how it is. The world shrinks and he grabs John and holds him tight and lets his very self seep into John's pores, his fingers melting into his skin and settling into his bones and still, still, there's room for him. John lets himself be filled but is never full. Whenever Sherlock thinks he has taken on John's shape he will see or hear or smell or taste or feel something new that he never noticed before and flow into the space it creates. London is huge and sprawling and magnificent and somehow, somehow, it has less capacity than the crease of John's elbow or the hue of his eyelashes or anything he says next, because it will be earth-shattering, whatever it is. And Sherlock realises, eventually, that there is simply too much of John, that despite his short stature he is unfathomable as the ocean. However much of himself he may pour in he can never even hope to touch the sides, because John Watson is a container big enough to hold him.