The warmth of the fire reflected on my face, flickering in lovely, orange patterns. The pillow beneath my head smelt of the laundry detergent John used when he had the time to do the wash. My arm dangled gracelessly over the side of the armchair, my legs bent and curled sideways, my back buried in warm safety among the cushions. The room was completely in peace; the only sound was the comforting crackling of the fire.

And there was nothing, nothing distracting me from this moment. This beautiful moment in time when I could simply lay here in utter serenity and sigh with relief at the blissful nothing. There was nothing in my mind. Nothing to think about. No thoughts racing through me. No worries, no cares, no one to see me, to scoff at me, to mock me, to casually throw that unbearable name for me into conversation...

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I closed my eyes, letting the firelight caress my pale, prominent cheekbones, completely relaxed. Completely alone. Unseen. Safe. The soft fabric of my dressing gown tied snugly around my waist like a caring embrace, the cushions surrounding me like a fortress, this numbing bliss warming my veins... It was sheer ecstasy. Sighing, I snuggled deeper into the armchair, folding my arms in toward me, the familiar dull ache in the forearm of my left not even registering while I was in this exquisite state of contentment.

Look at the fire, those lovely, flickering patterns of orange and silver and deep cyan. Ah, the smoke, dark and ever-changing and mysterious and delicate. And the clock ticking on the mantelpiece, counting out this golden hour... ticktickticktick... So beautiful.

"Sherlock?" That was John's voice. When had he gotten home? Where had he been in the first place? How long had I been like this...?

Ah, well, none of that mattered, really. His voice was so lovely to listen to. So gentle and caring and frightened. Frightened. Was he frightened for me? He needn't be. I was perfectly fine. Everything was perfect. He was perfect. I was perfect. The world was perfect right now.

Ah... perfection.

"John..." I sighed, blinking slowly and looking up. Blurs. Blurs of pinkish-beige skin. Of a light-brown coat. It would have been disconcerting had I not been so engrossed in my blissful nothingness. He said something surprised-sounding in reply, but I was far too distracted to catch it. It was so warm, so comfortable, so cozy...

I felt arms around me, strong but exceedingly gentle arms. The scent of warmth and caring and John was being pressed against me, working itself into my bloodstream, counteracting the beautiful, terrible poison. I was no longer in my armchair but being carried, carried like a small child who has fallen asleep at the dinner table...

And then, quite suddenly, I was in my own soft bed, nestled into the supple mattress, my aching and mildly confused head against a cool pillow. Heavy blankets were being pulled over me gently, a hand stroking back my sweaty hair.

"Sleep now, Sherlock," a voice whispered softly. And I tried.