Warnings: Mention of drug use, implied depression
See my LJ for more series warnings and story notes!
Proofread, but not betaed. Mistakes are mine alone!
virga: –noun ( used with a singular or plural verb ) Meteorology .
streaks of water drops or ice particles falling out of a cloud and evaporating before reaching the ground.
Sherlock is twenty-two, and cannot remember the last time it stopped raining. It very well could have been sunny the day before, but his head hasn't been clear in a week. It was raining then and it's raining today, and it's very likely to keep on until the end of time, as far as he knows.
The window on the far side of the room is open, has been for days. There's a slow drip of moisture down the wall and the draught makes him shiver, but not so much that he can muster up the energy to slide the pane closed.
It hardly matters, anyway, he thinks, and closes his eyes.
Mycroft blows in and out of his little flat occasionally, like a particularly annoying gust of wind, forever demanding to know things. Why did you drop out of university, Sherlock? They were going to offer you a research position after you graduated, Sherlock! What exactly do you think you're doing with your life, Sherlock? Sherlock? Are you listening to me?
He falls asleep curled up on his weatherbeaten couch, half-listening to a documentary on the Dust Bowl. In his dreams, a dry wind blows him into a billion little pieces, and carries him all the way across the Plains to blot out the sun in New York.
Cocaine is his favorite. On it, he is a thunderstorm, brilliant and lightning-fast.
(Erratic, Mycroft disapproves. You're going to burn yourself out.)
Morphine quiets the world like snow.
His parents hover outside his hospital room for the second time this year alone. The doctor's voice is a low thunder-rumble just beyond the door.
Mycroft sits beside Sherlock's bed, inescapable as the sun. It's never safe to look directly at him. There's a tightly-rolled umbrella leaning against his chair.
"Idiot," Sherlock says, resting frail fingers on his stomach. "It's not going to rain today."
The next six months he spends under the watchful gaze of his family.
Most of Sherlock's first year clean is spent out of the country. He leaves drizzly London to spend much of the winter snowed-in in Canada. At night he goes out to smoke on the balcony of his hotel in St. John's, keeping an eye out for the spectral shimmer of the Northern Lights. Bored of the long winter and chilled to the bone, he takes a long series of flights to Australia at the tail end of the brushfire season in the southeast.
Sherlock calls his mother for the first time in months. She carefully avoids asking him when he's coming home, instead fretting about whether he's getting sunburned and reminding him to eat regularly.
In June, he greets the summer monsoon in southern India. Full summer finds him in the American southwest, watching a towering dust devil whirl across the desert.
Sherlock's last stop is in Florida, where he rides out the remnants of a tropical storm in the home of British expat and recent widow Mrs. Hudson. He helps her drain dank rainwater from her leaky basement, and she stuffs him with biscuits and pours him tea that smells like home.
He flies back to England and watches autumn clouds float lazily over the changing leaves.
Winter sprinkles powdered-sugar snow over the manicured lawn. Mycroft comes with the sun, treading melting ice all over the foyer, to Mummy's disapproval.
"Happy birthday, Sherlock," he leans on the blasted umbrella in the doorway of Sherlock's bedroom.
"Are you sure that can hold your weight?" Sherlock says from behind a paper on mesocyclone formation.
His brother takes that as permission to enter. He tosses a manila folder onto Sherlock's legs.
Sherlock sits his paper down grumpily and picks the folder up. "What is this?"
Sherlock glares at the smug look on Mycroft's face and opens it. It's an acceptance letter for a research position at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in the United States. Behind it are a plane ticket and a record of the lease to a flat in Norman, Oklahoma.
"I know how you get bored," Mycroft says blandly. "I thought you might appreciate having something to do."
Sherlock throws a pillow out him and tells him to get out.
Regardless, he's in America come spring.
Sherlock is seven and the weather broadcast has called for severe storms, with a possible tornado. He goes outside despite his parents' admonitions and watches the clouds rolling over the house for hours. Much to his disappointment, the tornado never shows up, and he stomps back inside,, wet and shivering.
A month later he puts away his little chemistry set, complaining that people have done everything already. He's a Holmes. His name belongs in the forefront of science, not overshadowed by Pasteur and Curie and Nobel. Sherlock learns to love meteorology for it's many empty spaces, and vows with a childish confidence that he's sure to discover everything all by himself.
Mummy is happy he has a hobby that won't melt holes in the furniture. (Though she changes her mind during his lightning phase, when their electricity is out for three days because he tried to create lightning in his room.) His brother gazes down from the lofty age of fourteen and deigns to give Sherlock his old earth science textbooks.
Daddy, who knows everything – even more than Mycroft – takes him outside to sit on the grass and teaches him all the names of the clouds.