Summary: Everyone has bad days. Sherlock's are just more violent.
Warnings: Language, angst, light slash, past mentions of drug use.
A/N: I wanted to explore a darker side to Sherlock and the 'missing scene' type of plot where we don't see how bad Sherlock's moods can get. There will be seven chapters, the others longer than this one, and will eventually be some kind of slash. I'm still attempting to get the hang of the characters, so bear with me? Enjoy!
I don't own Sherlock, nor do I claim to.
'round and 'round
Some days, it's bad.
There's no other word to describe it, really. John understands Sherlock's "black moods"—they're violently silent, a quivering tension set in slim shoulders, shadowed bruises beneath dulled eyes, a reckless soul. He'll scratch at old ghosts in the form of dot-scars, the phantom pinpricks raging, calling, craving—John hates that the most, hates the cold plummeting of his stomach at the thought of coming home, finding Sherlock convulsing on the floor, emptied syringe mocking and tourniquet wound around familiar skin. His mind entertains the idea far too often on those days.
It's on the first day that John sighs tiredly, blinking away lingering nightmares he can't recall. A screeching violin, a staccato of broken chords and the plucking of strings, wafts into his bedroom like the ancient scent of his mother's breakfast-in-bed on days he was sick as a child. The music isn't pleasant, not like the harmonious tunes Sherlock plays on okay-days and good-days (which are becoming rare, John notes), but rather, it's the telltale sign he will not be getting much sleep for at least two days. Sure enough, he glances to the bedside digital clock, angrily flashing 3:01. He bites back a groan, rubs his sleep-stained eyes; a long day, indeed.
He swings his legs over the edge of his bed and begins his trek downstairs, lead by the morning notes of scattered thoughts.
Bow—one, two, one.
Doesn't sound right, he thinks, trying a different combination of fingers and hands. It's jagged, a mess, and he growls quietly in frustration.
Not right. Try again.
He's numb to time, doesn't quite care that the post-rain clouds burying the sun have already faded into a black ink, silver threads peaking through. He hears footsteps—one, two, one, two—but doesn't look up when John appears in the doorframe. Not important—
John, leaning against the frame, arms crossed, hair mussed, nightmare? Ruffled nightclothes, sweat lines. Nightmare.
—focus on the rhythm.
His hand jerks and he drops the bow.
"I'm fine," he replies quietly.
He sets the violin on the table with semi-trembling hands; he scratches the spider-veins through the soft material of his nightclothes. It's not bad, not yet, but he still craves it like some sort of forgotten blanket, swathing him with warmth and pseudo-comfort from the monsters in the closet. John coughs, a quiet, are-you-all-right cough that sets Sherlock's nerves on fire. He sits back, brings his knees to his chest, and folds his hand beneath his chin in mock-prayer.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Drops his hands, drums his fingers on his knees.
Two hours later and they're sitting in the same room as the watching skull with two cups of tea. One is clutched by hands so cold, John can see the red bursts beneath too-pale skin, decorating the shifting veins. He wonders, briefly, if Sherlock was awoken by a nightmare, and he doesn't doubt the idea—but the dreams are never mentioned, never brought to light, and John doesn't have the heart to force Sherlock to talk about whatever demons are chasing him today. He reacts better to silence, no matter how stifling, and lightlessness. Drawn curtains, a flickering lamp in the kitchen that's dying, a candle on the fireplace mantel that John had lit earlier.
"It's nearly out," he comments, watching the flame on the wick dance a bit, sputtering. A macabre dance, reaching for something to clutch onto, but never finding purchase.
Sherlock doesn't respond, just shrugs and takes a sip of the tea.
John allows himself to take a large drink of his own; it's warm, washes away unsaid words as he swallows thickly. He wants to fill the silence with reassurance—Sherlock looks nearly lost, drowning, but John isn't sure how to pull him out of the grasp of his mind.
John refrains from jumping, the quiet voice breaking the strange trance, and he frowns.
"You're worried. Don't be. I'm fine."
We've done this before. It'll pass. I'm fine.
John nods (but he doesn't believe him, not with this), leaning back in the chair as Sherlock places his tea down and throws himself across the sofa. The silence returns.
Neither return to bed.
It's 10:06 in the morning when the sun peaks through the coverings on the window and the sound of life breaks the heavy silence. John jerks awake, blearily registering that he had fallen asleep; there's a crick in his neck, and he attempts to work it out, glancing to the sofa, expecting to see Sherlock still staring at the ceiling or asleep—
Only to find that he's gone.
There are no noises echoing from the kitchen, no clanking of vials or the clicking of a lighter. No smell of smoke or signs of destruction. It's a stagnant stillness, weighing on his shoulders and urging him to get up, go see where Sherlock is, you know how last time turned out!
He pushes himself out of the chair.
The cup meets the floor in a collision of spilled tea and soaking pages of an old magazine.
He swears but ignores it, clambering over the mess and into the empty kitchen, then to the bedroom, calling out Sherlock! Sherlock, where are you? Before reaching the landing.
"He's not here, dear."
John turns around, hand inches away from his coat, to see Mrs. Hudson smiling sadly.
"He left about… twenty minutes ago. Didn't say a word, but he seemed a bit agitated. Another domestic?"
He shakes his head, thanks her, and disappears back upstairs.
The streets are alight with morning commute.
A woman, just down the road—two other lovers, married for less than five years, insecure, makes up for it with heavily applied make-up and far too tight clothes.
A man walking behind her—a diet worse than his own brother, hates his job, a girlfriend, not steady.
Oh, brilliant! The woman and the man meet eyes, embarrassed, longingly? One of the lovers, then, what are the odds?
Sherlock takes it all in stride, eyes darting from person to person, examining each piece of jewelry, tightening his jacket against the bitter chill of morning London. His gut twists with old addiction, his mind races with every possible blind-spot in the city. Mycroft would never know, he thinks, picking up his pace with no set destination.
The morgue? Don't want to see anyone, including Molly.
He can ask Lestrade for a case. Received a text this morning, no cases of interest, all boring. Dull. Still don't want to interact with the human race.
His cigarettes are effectively hidden—or, more likely, completely disposed of—and he's out of patches. His card is with John; asking for it will raise suspicion and he can already imagine John's pacing, the worried glances, the offer for tea and just relax for the day, can't you do that? It won't kill you.
He feels a pang of guilt.
He ignores it and continues on.
The door opens and there are footsteps on the stairs. John has already ordered from the Chinese restaurant not too far, knowing all too well that eating hadn't been on Sherlock's to-do list today; when he walks through the door, curly hair plastered to his forehead from the rainstorm outside, John shakes his head.
"You've been gone for the day," he states needlessly. Obviously.
Sherlock doesn't reply.
"Have you eaten?"
Of course not, John thinks.
Relief poisons his veins and John nods, "Good."
The sofa becomes occupied with a body and the flat is graced with the sound of an unforgiving symphony. When the food finally arrives, one plate remains untouched; John listens to the music, then watches as Sherlock places the instrument down and begins pacing, back and forth, back and forth, closing the curtains and flicking off the light in the room. Darkness, once again, envelops them, rain beating against the window in time with Sherlock's fidgeting.
John often wonders if Sherlock's dealing with migraines during these kinds of days; he shies away from any source of brightness, rubs his temples every couple minutes, flinches if there's a stray car alarm outside or the wind picks up and crashes with the unsteady glass panels. He's a doctor, he sees the signs, but if he tries to bring up the subject, Sherlock locks himself in his bedroom until the mood passes and stubbornness gives way to human needs (or John's demand that he eats something, otherwise he contacts Mycroft).
The thought of Sherlock's unhealthy tendencies remind him of the cooling food.
No response. Not even a glance. John knows the game he's playing, knows that Sherlock won't eat anything until John is tucked away in his bed, dreaming of broken battlefields, and Sherlock is enclosed by his mind, just his mind.
So John retires to his room at 6:14 in the evening, not writing up a new blog—this is beyond private, Sherlock's moods—but catching up with the sleep he had missed this morning.
Because in seven hours, five or six if Sherlock is worse, he will be woken up by the serrated bars of a melody matching a suffering mind.