A/N: This story takes place a few months after The Hound of Baskerville. For anyone who may not have seen that one, this story has a focus on the after effects of Sherlock's attempt to drug John with a hallucinogenic drug to get him to see the "hound," to test the effects it would have on John mind, when Sherlock knew the effects he'd had from personal exposure to the drug.
John needs help to deal with his past suddenly brought to the present. Sherlock realizes how little he knows about John's past. He is the only person there, and the only one who sees John retreating from the world. But what is he, Sherlock Holmes of all people, going to be able to do to help? It requires sentiment.
Special thanks to Zacha and eohippus for their encouragement to get this story down on 'paper' and out for you to read. Enjoy!
Sherlock glanced up as a cup of tea appeared by his elbow. John set a plate of toast next to the tea with a slight smile and said "Morning."
Sherlock grunted, but reached gratefully for the tea, brewed perfectly as always. He straightened up and glanced out the window next to him noting that it was nearly nine in the morning. He had been at the table in the sitting room all night doing research and writing.
John settled in his chair with his own tea and toast, hiding a grin behind the newspaper as Sherlock paused and finished eating before going back to his work. Sherlock met the stifled chuckle with a "humph" of his own and immersed himself in his research again.
Sherlock's attention was pulled away from his writing about the importance of dust at a crime scene. He wasn't sure what disturbed his concentration. He closed his eyes to block out extra visual stimulus.
Seconds later, he opened his eyes. Turning he looked at John who had held his breath for 43 seconds. At the same moment, all movements had stopped and he had not turned a page or shifted his focus from one portion of the page. When John had started breathing again, one minute, twenty-two seconds ago, it was at an increased rate of speed and slightly irregular.
Sherlock's eyes narrowed as he saw John's left hand give a slight tremor then still itself. He noted John was also gripping the newspaper tightly enough that his knuckles were turning white.
A frown creased his forehead when John jumped as his phone rang next to him.
John dropped the paper, standing as he scrambled for his phone. His face paled as he glanced at the number. He swallowed hard and gathered himself before answering.
His voice clipped and formal, he said, "Watson." John paced to the window on the other side of the room from Sherlock.
"Yes," John replied in answer to a question. His voice faltered slightly as he said, "I just found out." He leaned his forehead against the cool glass, staring blindly down at the street. John briefly closed his eyes as the person continued to speak to him.
He glanced at Sherlock, suddenly aware of his stare. He shook his head slightly and attempted to give a reassuring smile before he left the sitting room and headed up to his room.
Sherlock glanced at the ceiling, hearing John pace from one side of his room to the other. The murmur of John's voice stopped. The pacing continued for a while longer then stopped as well and silence permeated the flat.
Sherlock found it extremely difficult to refocus his attention to the work in front of him. Huffing in frustration, he saved what he was doing and turned away from his laptop. Sherlock paced the sitting room several times. He threw himself down on the sofa, wondering what it was about his flatmate – friend – that distracted him so completely from his routine. Usually he didn't find himself at all disturbed when others around him became upset or dealt with difficulties. When it came to Mycroft, he was actually delighted.
If he didn't know himself better, he might think that he was actually worried about John. With a growl he ran his fingers through his hair. Jumping to his feet, Sherlock stepped up and over the coffee table and stalked to the corner behind his chair, picking up his violin from its corner. If anything could settle his racing mind…
Sherlock was just tuning his instrument when he heard John's door slam shut and his feet thud down the stairs. Half turning toward the door, he called, "Going out?"
"Yeah, for a bit, if you don't mind. Unless…. Do you need me for anything?" His voice tight with tension, John stuck his head in the door to look at Sherlock.
Tucking his violin under his chin he said, "No, not right now. I will text you if something comes up."
His face revealing nothing, John gave a curt nod and disappeared down the stairs.
Sherlock started to play, waiting for the thump of the front door. As the music filled the flat, he watched his friend stride down the street and around the corner. John's back was ramrod straight and his chin lifted.
Hmm. Based on his posture and reaction to what he read in the newspaper, it must be related to his military service. Based on his response to the phone call, it was a Bit Not Good.
Sherlock briefly considered shadowing him, but dismissed the thought, trusting that John would tell him when he was ready. In the meantime, he could still do a little research from the flat.
Two days had passed, and Sherlock still didn't know what was bothering John.
John progressively retreated from the world as the hours ticked by, seeing things only he could see. Though he interacted with Sherlock, and even accompanied him to a crime scene (easily solved – the boss's ex-wife) his eyes were dark and distant. He spoke in a quiet monotone only when Sherlock asked him a direct question.
He had been extremely jumpy and it was obvious he wasn't sleeping well. Sherlock had confirmed it was related to his military service, and knew he had met with one of the men he had served with the previous day. But all his research turned up next to nothing on John's past, his family, or his military career.
When John came down from his room later in the evening, he walked absently into the kitchen and started the kettle for tea. Sherlock observed that he hadn't eaten dinner. Amend that. He hadn't eaten anything at all that day. Out of the corner of the eye, he could see John's face was blank as he stared at his hands braced on the counter waiting for the water to boil.
Sherlock stood and threw the book he was pretending to read into his chair. He stalked through the kitchen heading for his room. John jumped a little and turned to look up at him as he passed by. Sherlock glanced back over his shoulder and suppressed a shudder.
Those eyes that normally reflected light and life were vacant, the bright blue turned dull and glassy.
To be continued...